Posts by Nick Cassella

Daily Clips: May 5th, 2016

Daily Clips: May 5th, 2016

Rule on arbitration would restore right to sue banks: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is “unveiling a proposed rule on Thursday that would restore customers’ rights to bring class-action lawsuits against financial firms, giving Americans major new protections and delivering a serious blow to Wall Street that could cost the industry billions of dollars.” Thankfully, the proposed rule doesn’t need congressional approval, so it seems certain that this will become law. Democrats are built to win in 2016:  According to Peter Beinart at the Atlantic, “the party’s current iteration is tailor-made to defeat xenophobia and take down Donald Trump.” He goes onto analyze why “since 2004, Americans who exhibit higher levels of ‘racial resentment’ have moved toward the GOP and those who exhibit lower levels have moved toward the Democrats.” National prayer day is not secular:  The US is not a Christian nation. If you think we are because a majority of our people are Christian, then by that logic we should also be called a white nation. Don’t fool yourselves. Tweet of the day: Just another day in Washington State. 17-year-old girl fatally shot in Burien; 17-year-old boy arrested https://t.co/c1icWoHU6N — The Seattle Times (@seattletimes) May 5, 2016

Daily Clips: May 4th, 2016

Daily Clips: May 4th, 2016

Let me first address the major topic of the day: Donald Trump’s victory. No, liberals, this doesn’t represent a “ death of the Republican Party .” This is what you call an adaption. They’ve switched their focus from “principled conservatism” to rampant, angry nationalism. Trump recognized this and gave the base what it wanted. Sorry, Jeb! and Scott Walker, “tax cuts and deregulation” won’t cut it anymore. Democrats couldn’t have asked for a better candidate to face in 2016. The White House and Senate are now ours for the taking. Alex Jones celebrates Trump’s victory by telling George Will, “Blow what little is left of your brains out.”  Classy. Harnessing the power of the new working class:   But when labor is weak, as it is now, it lacks the political and economic juice required to win its own battles, much less to pass remedial legislation on its own behalf. Tweet of the day:  Data: The parties no longer deliver candidates Americans can respect. Troubling. pic.twitter.com/w1nYhN3qQ0 — Edward Snowden (@Snowden) May 4, 2016

Young Americans are Fleeing the GOP. Will Democrats Screw This Up?

Young Americans are Fleeing the GOP. Will Democrats Screw This Up?

I recently pointed out that Democrats tend to think progress either occurs incrementally or through dramatic change. These distinct theories of change can help us understand why certain voters support a given candidate. Age, I reasoned, was the best indicator of how individuals understood societal progress. Generally speaking, the dramatic-change camp is occupied by younger voters, while incrementalist tendencies are exhibited by older individuals (yes, I realize there are older individuals who support Bernie Sanders and younger people who love Hillary Clinton). While I still remain hopeful that Democrats will be demographically forced to abandon incrementalism, I’m becoming more skeptical — especially after I saw findings from  a new survey of American adults  which shows that Republicans have lost significant ground with young voters in the last year alone (emphasis mine): Sixty-one percent of 18-to-29 year-olds prefer that a Democrat be elected president in the fall, while 33 percent of those surveyed back a Republican. That gap of 28 percentage points has nearly doubled since a similar poll conducted last year … In pursuit of votes from their xenophobic and misogynistic base, Republicans have been forced into an awful short-term electoral strategy. By doing so, the GOP has abandoned young voters, which not only happens to be myopic, but also a terrible long-term strategy as a host of research shows. Partisan identification in one’s early years becomes “ a remarkably stable factor over a voters’ life .” So when you have nearly 51% of “millennials identifying as Democrats or leaning Democratic, compared with 35% who identify with the GOP or lean Republican ,” you’re alienating the next generation for (perhaps) the rest of their lives. That’s not an exaggeration. An influential work on party identification, The American Voter (1964), found that “persons who identify with one of the parties typically have held the same partisan tie for all or almost all of their adult lives.” Everything which I’ve just laid out seems to be excellent news for Democrats. So why am I nervous about these findings? Here’s the rub. The Republican surrender of the youth vote could benefit the conservative movement in a key way: it
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Daily Clips: May 3rd, 2016

Daily Clips: May 3rd, 2016

David Brooks blames inequality on “choice explosion” in America:  Brooks actually says: “the choice explosion has contributed to widening inequality.” He’s never written an article lamenting the structural forces which hold so many Americans back. But boy does he place all the blame on individuals in this article! Absolute blindness to the actual issues at play. Bernie Sanders’ gift to his party: The New York Times editorial board has a sterling piece today on Bernie’s influence. Here’s my favorite paragraph: Mr. Sanders has exposed a broad vein of discontent that Democrats cannot ignore. Predictions that Mr. Sanders’s supporters could migrate to Donald Trump in the fall are overstated , despite Mr. Trump’s cynical efforts to woo them. It’s more likely that some simply won’t vote. Mrs. Clinton is betting that many Democrats will be motivated to get to the polls if Mr. Trump is the Republican nominee. But to truly unify the party, Mrs. Clinton and party leaders must work to incorporate Mr. Sanders and what he stands for in the party’s approach to the general election. It would also help to acknowledge that the party has strayed at times from its more aspirational path. Democracies end when they are too democratic: So says Andrew Sullivan in a thought provoking column on the state of American politics. There’s much to disagree with, but it’s at the very least well researched and incredibly argued.  Tweet of the day: Starvation should be just as business unfriendly as lower profits. — Glenn Fleishman (@GlennF) May 3, 2016

Daily Clips: May 2nd, 2016

Daily Clips: May 2nd, 2016

The diabetic economy: Krugman offers a lovely analogy that likens low interest rates to the “insulin injections that diabetics must take.” These injections, like artificially low interest rates “aren’t part of a normal lifestyle, and may have bad side effects, but they’re necessary to manage the symptoms of a chronic disease.” In the rest of the article, Krugman looks at the disappointing nature of Europe’s economy while finding “ample grounds for hope” in the American economy. Basic income should be the next big thing: Now and then a worthy economic proposal comes along that seems as politically unattainable as it is sensible. Then, on closer inspection, you see that it’s more than a policy-wonk’s fantasy. And you wonder whether it could actually prevail. If you haven’t already read my overview of universal basic income, you can do so here . The idea is extremely enticing. In our lifetimes, it is not hard to imagine basic income being implemented in the US. Why Hillary Clinton may be doomed to repeat the Obama presidency: A sobering read to start your week. But a necessary one. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how the Democratic Party is split into two camps : incrementalism or dramatic change. Waldman has a similar view, as he noted “Clinton’s natural inclination toward incrementalism.” This strength/weakness of hers could mean that her presidency looks a lot “like a repeat of Obama’s, except perhaps without the enormous early wins.” Clinton’s battle plan: Don’t expect Hillary to sit back and take Trump’s insults. She will most likely throw the first punch.

Daily Clips: April 29th, 2016

Daily Clips: April 29th, 2016

Oklahoma court decides it’s not technically rape if it’s oral and she’s drunk:  Good god. This 5-0 decision is sickening and sets an awful precedent. We know we hate the establishment-but do we know what it is?  The term gets thrown around a lot. Has it lost it’s essential meaning as a result? Brooks bemoans Donald Trump’s nomination:  Schadenfreude in column form. Obama’s economic disappointment:  Yesterday, I featured the New York Times feature article on Obama and his economic legacy. Here is an entirely different take. The title kind of tips the author’s hand. Tweet of the day:    

Daily Clips: April 28th, 2016

Daily Clips: April 28th, 2016

President Obama weighs his economic legacy:  We’re now at that self-aggrandizing stage in a president’s term where they start to “cement” their legacy. Barack Obama certainly used this feature article in the New York Times to do just that. He speaks at length about the state of the US economy and how it’s not actually as bad as many Americans seem to think. The president does an admirable job of selling his economic policies. However, at times, the president sounds like he doesn’t respect the economic anxiety of many Americans (or their economic acumen): Asked if he was frustrated by all the criticism, Obama insisted that he wasn’t, at least not personally. ‘It has frustrated me only insofar as it has shaped the political debate,’ he said. ‘We were moving so fast early on that we couldn’t take victory laps. We couldn’t explain everything we were doing. I mean, one day we’re saving the banks; the next day we’re saving the auto industry; the next day we’re trying to see whether we can have some impact on the housing market.’ I understand that he got thrust into a terrible economic situation, but this comment clearly shows his disdain for public opinion. It reminds me of ObamaCare’s architect Jonathan Gruber’s comments about “ the stupidity of the American voter .” Too often, this administration passes the blame onto the American people, and I find that to be the sign of weak/ineffective leadership. A conversation with Joseph Stiglitz:  Gillian White at the Atlantic sits down with Stiglitz to discuss inequality in American society. Trump’s new campaign slogan? “America First”:  Jingoism 101. Tweet of the day: Today, #Vermont became 4th in nation to pass automatic voter registration. Read more: https://t.co/jTiCZwwPA0 pic.twitter.com/xqonqTQVGH — Brennan Center (@BrennanCenter) April 28, 2016  

Daily Clips: April 27th, 2016

Daily Clips: April 27th, 2016

How to persuade rich people to pay more taxes:  The author looks at various “cognitive errors” of rich individuals and how these affect their views on taxes. I’m not entirely sure that we’ll ever be able to convince the wealthy to pay more taxes. The people we actually need to persuade are the 99%. We need to create an economic narrative and theory which adequately explains why higher taxes on the wealthy is good for everyone, including the top 1%. Smaller US goods trade gap seen boosting first quarter GDP growth:  “The U.S. goods trade deficit narrowed sharply to a one-year low in March, as both imports and exports fell, suggesting economic growth in the first-quarter was probably not as weak as currently anticipated. The racist roots of Virginia’s felon disenfranchisement:  Fascinating historical analysis. Why Tuesday was a very good night for Senate Democrats:   1) The establishment’s preferred candidate won in PA (Katie McGinty). While “McGinty has her struggles…but she comes from a working-class background and would be the state’s first female senator.” 2) They’ve got a potential new leader in Chris Van Hollen. Here’s his victory speech from last night:  

Daily Clips: April 26th, 2016

Daily Clips: April 26th, 2016

How Reaganomics, deregulation and bailouts led to the rise of Trump:  A really powerful piece of journalism on how the American voter has been duped into believing trickle-down economics. I found this passage in particular to be precise and distressing: It took Everyman on Main Street some time to figure out that they’ve been had and finally revolt — 35 years to be more precise. There has been no shortage of big promises since Reagan’s “ It’s Morning again in America ,” but in the end, they all left the middle class staring into thin wallets while their manipulators were living high on the hog. The  failed big ideas began with Reaganomics. The stimulating effect of its tax cuts was supposed to “trickle down” to the masses, but the flow had the viscosity of molasses and stuck with the ultrarich. More American children and teens aren’t just obese. They’re morbidly obese.  According to Vox, “new research suggests” that “the fraction of adolescents with severe obesity — a body mass index of 40 or greater — has more than doubled from 0.9 percent in 1999 to 2.4 percent in 2013 and 2014. Federal judge upholds voter ID law in North Carolina:  The land of the free. Tweet of the day: Take a bow, Yglesias. What if Trump narrowly loses Iowa, leading to the collapse of his image as a “winner” and his whole campaign unravels? — Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) April 26, 2016

The Real Conflict in the Democratic Party

The Real Conflict in the Democratic Party

There is a real conflict occurring right now in the Democratic primary. And it’s not between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. While that narrative may be superficially intriguing, the consequential struggle is over whether it is best to progress society through incrementalism or by dramatic change. This ideological clash in the progressive movement will ultimately be what historians and scholars examine years from now. All the rest is noise. The incrementalist argument for progress is embodied in the “establishment” candidates of the Democratic Party. Once in the “dramatic change” camp, President Barack Obama has morphed into what Hillary would call “ a pragmatic progressive ” or a “ progressive who likes to get things done .” Matt Carp at Jacobin wrote an unbelievably perceptive piece  which noticed that this “model of change…begins not with policy or people but with a politician.” Incrementalist progressivism rallies “around that leader’s personal qualifications, while defending past achievement and stressing the value of party loyalty” — think Clinton’s defense of Obamacare. Carp calls this type of progressivism “fortress liberalism” and laments how this overly defensive strategy has led to “the erosion of labor unions” and “the steady evisceration of the party at the state level.” Whether you think Obama has adopted “ industrious incrementalism ” because he’s a corporate sellout or merely constrained by a hostile Congress (these two things are not mutually exclusive), a large portion of progressives would agree that the president has not dramatically changed America. If you disagree with that conclusion and believe it’s a tough verdict, then you’ll have to take it up with the president himself. In an interview last year with comedian Marc Maron , Obama recognized this reality: Sometimes the task of government is to make incremental improvements, or try to steer the ocean liner two degrees north or south, so that ten years from now, suddenly we’re in a very different place than we were. But at the time, at the moment, people may feel like, we need a
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