Posts by Nick Cassella

Daily Clips: January 15th, 2016

Daily Clips: January 15th, 2016

Last night, I was planning on putting down my thoughts on the GOP Debate in South Carolina, but I couldn’t do it. I was simply too exhausted from the whole spectacle. This debate wasn’t even particularly egregious in any sense. Yet after six months of this shit, we all know what’s going on: these people are deranged, fear-mongering, angry, apocalyptic puppets of corporate greed that are following the beck and call of disenfranchised, racist white people. I remember watching the 2012 GOP primary and thinking, “It can’t get any worse than this.” I was so wrong. As Goldy wrote to the team this morning, “Was it just me, or was that the worst debate so far? Vile, repulsive, and almost totally lacking in substance. That one of these clowns will ultimately get over 40 percent of the popular vote is a national embarrassment.” Best tweets from the debate: before and after watching the #gopdebate pic.twitter.com/1gKKVpm9Tt — sean (@SeanMcElwee) January 15, 2016 2 sons of immigrants fight over who will exclude more immigrants #GOPDebate pic.twitter.com/GSEa25WEgS — sfpelosi (@sfpelosi) January 15, 2016 Trump’s rivals help him hijack the GOP:  Dana Milbank also found last night’s debate to be a terrible showing for the Republican party. Republicans like to blame Trump for hijacking the party, but equally to blame are the others in the race for letting it happen — and continuing to do so, now just two weeks from the Iowa caucuses. Thursday night’s debate was another depressing development: Any of four men on the stage — Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie or John Kasich — could have been a viable alternative to the fear and demagoguery offered by Trump and Ted Cruz. Instead, they cluttered the stage and quarreled among themselves, offering little beyond faint echoes of Trump’s rage. and Milbank’s analysis here is spot on: The GOP race is typically described as a struggle between the outsiders and the
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Daily Clips: January 14th, 2016

Daily Clips: January 14th, 2016

The Nation endorses Bernie Sanders for President: What a week Bernie Sanders is having! MoveOn.org endorsed him, numerous polls show him in the lead in both Iowa and New Hampshire, and now The Nation announces that he is their candidate for 2016. Here are some highlights from Bernie’s latest endorsement: We believe such a revolution is not only possible but necessary—and that’s why we’re endorsing Bernie Sanders for president. This magazine rarely makes endorsements in the Democratic primary (we’ve done so only twice: for Jesse Jackson in 1988 , and for Barack Obama in 2008 ). We do so now impelled by the awareness that our rigged system works for the few and not for the many. Americans are waking up to this reality, and they are demanding change. This understanding animates both the Republican and Democratic primaries, though it has taken those two contests in fundamentally different directions. And also Voters can trust Sanders because he doesn’t owe his political career to the financial overlords of the status quo. Freed from these chains of special interest, he can take the bold measures that the country needs. Sanders alone proposes to break up the too-big-to-fail banks; to invest in public education, from universal pre-K to tuition-free public college; to break the power of the insurance and pharmaceutical cartels with Medicare for All reforms. The importance of Obama’s ultimatum on guns:  By warning Democrats that he would not campaign for anyone who opposed commonsense gun regulation, Barack Obama drew a line in the sand. And unlike with Syria, this appears to be a line he will not allow anyone to cross. That could have far reaching consequences, says Russell Berman: The change in dynamic is a reflection both of the broader leftward shift of the Democratic Party under Obama and the progress that he and other gun-control advocates have made in pushing back against the NRA following the wave of mass shootings in recent years.
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Daily Clips: January 13th, 2016

Daily Clips: January 13th, 2016

Obama calls for an end to gerrymandering in the State of the Union:   First, Obama said, “We have to end the practice of drawing our congressional districts so that politicians can pick their voters and not the other way around.” The president has condemned gerrymandering before — for instance, in his January 2015 interview with Vox — but many political scientists think his emphasis on it as a key cause of polarization  is a bit misplaced . And, ironically, a well-executed gerrymander of the Illinois state Senate was a key step in Obama’s rise to political prominence, as Ryan Lizza chronicled in a 2008 New Yorker article . Nikki Haley’s message to America:  For those of you that didn’t tune in, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley offered the GOP response to President Obama’s address. Her message was on point and savvy. She disavowed Trumpian anger and didn’t solely put blame on Democrats for the state of politics in America: There is more than enough blame to go around. We as Republicans need to own that truth. We need to recognize our contributions to the erosion of the public trust in America’s leadership. We need to accept that we’ve played a role in how and why our government is broken. It was an incredibly good speech (even though I disagreed with her solutions) and one that should launch her into VP talk. The age of protest: Thomas Friedman’s latest column is a thing of beauty. He argues that in the 21st century distance between individuals and injustice has shrunk. He quotes Dov Seidman to illustrate this point: “People everywhere seem to be morally aroused,” said Seidman. “The philosopher David Hume argued that ‘the moral imagination diminishes with distance.’ It would follow that the opposite is also true: As distance decreases, the moral imagination increases. Now that we have no distance — it’s like we’re all in a crowded theater, making everything personal — we are experiencing the aspirations, hopes, frustrations, plights of others in direct
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Obama’s Last State Of The Union Plot A True Course for 2016

Obama’s Last State Of The Union Plot A True Course for 2016

In last year’s State of the Union , Obama opened by telling the American people he wanted his speech to focus less on “a checklist of proposals and focus more on the values at stake in the choices before us.” This year he basically cut and pasted that line, starting off by promising Congress and viewers that he would “go easy on the traditional list of proposals for the year ahead.” Such laid back, colloquial language was dispersed throughout Barack “4th quarter” Obama’s speech. Just because his style was relaxed and informal doesn’t mean his speech was bereft of vision and substance. From the start, you could tell he felt compelled to set the direction for the progressive cause. He knows that big advances are coming. They are tantalizingly close to being within his legacy. While he may not be there for the culmination of many of these policies, Obama wanted this speech to be a touchstone for many of those accomplishments. Ever the man in control, and with the media spotlight slipping away from him, for now, he wants to be the compass for the next (hopefully) Democratic president. Let me be the first to admit, these speeches are notoriously tough to excel at (and often tough to watch). There’s so much to unpack, so many demographics to appeal to. As Zach Silk wrote to me during the speech, “every sentence has a constituency. And even with all that said some constituency is pissed they didn’t get mentioned.” Obama did some flexing in front of his colleagues, where he proceeded to essentially say “I told you so” to his doubters. He flaunted gas prices, talked about the recovery, and the robust jobs growth. He touted these successes for their due applause, but he didn’t dwell on them for long. He didn’t want to upset the economic
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Daily Clips: January 12th, 2016

Daily Clips: January 12th, 2016

Why are Democrats so gloomy about the economy?  Jobs are up, gas is down, and “more than 17 million people have gained access to health insurance.” High school graduation is also up, while crime has declined. So why the doom and gloom from Democrats? Americans are deeply anxious about the nation’s security and their personal finances. Polls show that only one-quarter of them think the country is on the right track. As a result, the Democratic White House hopefuls face a dilemma that Republicans are relishing…Attempts to strike the right balance were on display last week at a party dinner in Nevada , an early caucus state, where front-runner Hillary Clinton told a boisterous crowd: “We’re standing, but we’re not yet running the way America should.” Look for that metaphor to be employed by Democrats throughout 2016 (in all races, not just the presidential contest). David Brooks takes on Ted Cruz:  Brooks really does not like Cruz. And after reading this article, one has to wonder if he’d vote for the Democratic nominee over the Texas senator. That sounds crazy at first, but then you read some of Brooks’ qualms with Cruz: “Cruz is a stranger to most of what would generally be considered the Christian virtues: humility, mercy, compassion and grace.” “…there’s no variation in Cruz’s rhetorical tone. As is the wont of inauthentic speakers, everything is described as a maximum existential threat.” “He sows bitterness, influences his followers to lose all sense of proportion and teaches them to answer hate with hate.” There’s a lot to unpack here. The first is arguing how “humility, mercy, compassion and grace” can ever be isolated as “Christian” virtues? That reeks of ahistoricism and a blind love for one’s own faith. Did such virtues not exist before Christianity arrived? If so, how can they ever be labelled as “Christian” in nature? The second is claiming it is wrong to “answer hate
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Why Republicans Are Making This Election About Fear

Why Republicans Are Making This Election About Fear

Heading into 2016, Democrats should feel very confident about retaining the White House. Such a statement may seem unreasonably self-assured, seeing as the country appears to be more divided and partisan as ever . But consider the following opinions of Americans today: 90 percent support background checks on all gun sales 63 percent believe money and wealth distribution in our country is unfair 63 percent support a $15 minimum wage by 2020 58 percent support legalizing marijuana 65 percent support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants 60 percent support gay marriage These numbers demonstrate that there is a clear hunger in America for bold, progressive policies. This certainly helps explain the appeal of Donald Trump to the modern Republican voter – the man is a strong advocate for a “big” and active government. He’s hardly your Koch-tested “small government conservative.” Because America yearns for collective action, Democrats have so far been able to define the issues of the campaign cycle with relative ease. Comforted by polls like the ones above, the Democratic candidates are bringing issues like gun responsibility, gay marriage, and the minimum wage to the forefront of the presidential race. Understandably, that has made Republican strategists quite anxious. Their candidates are being labelled as mere oppositionists, who have no fresh ideas and opposed measures which the majority of Americans agree with. Then, the attacks on Paris and San Bernardino happened. Out of these terrible events Republicans found their opportunity to start redefining the 2016 campaign. In unison, all the candidates started pumping out fear. Instead of having to focus on Trump or issues which Democrats largely defined, here they could all prey on American anxiety together. They found a cause which could unite them all and help them reclaim the trajectory of the national conversation. The media was all too willing to help their cause. Blinded by our sensationalist media, we couldn’t stop talking about fear and terrorism. Forget about the economy or Kim Davis! Death! Islam! Mosques! In a matter of weeks, the Republicans had successfully regained control of the political conversation. Since those attacks,  terrorism has leap-frogged the economy and became the number one concern of American voters . Manufactured fear, however, can only take this Republican field so far. Eventually, they will have to sell
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Daily Clips: January 11th, 2016

Daily Clips: January 11th, 2016

There are roughly 5 percent more Democrats than Republicans:  So what does this mean? “Because there are roughly 5% more Democrats than Republicans, the GOP needs a solid majority of independents to win a national election.” Unfortunately for Republicans, the two candidates with the best shot at winning the nomination (Trump & Cruz) have less than ideal numbers with independents. Consider the following: In YouGov’s three most recent surveys, Mr. Trump was viewed “very unfavorably” by an average of 43% of independents…Ted Cruz doesn’t do much better. Only 13% to 16% of independents had a very favorable view of him in YouGov’s three most recent surveys… Speaking of Mr. Cruz, check out FiveThirtyEight’s latest analysis: . @FiveThirtyEight projects @tedcruz has a 44% chance of winning the Iowa caucus: https://t.co/73D7qPtfhK pic.twitter.com/xdgeh2i95X — This Week (@ThisWeekABC) January 10, 2016 Brilliant video of Bernie Sanders taking it to Walmart: Economists thought Obamacare would kill full-time jobs. That’s not happening:  Let’s recap some of the more ludicrous quotes about Obamacare’s economic impact: There is no doubt [the Affordable Care Act] will be paid for on the backs of small business. It’s clear to us that, at the end of the day, the costs to small business more than outweigh the benefits they may have realized.” -National Federation of Independent Business, 2009 “[Health reform] will destroy the country [because] in the year or so [America will have to] dramatically cut the military because we can’t pay for it.” – Rick Santorum, 2010 “[Obamacare] will bankrupt our nation, and it will ruin our economy.” – Rep. John Boehner, 2011 God, I love when Republicans and the business lobby are wrong. Which is often.

Daily Clips: January 8th, 2016

Daily Clips: January 8th, 2016

The US economy just got some very good news:  The economy created jobs “at an unexpectedly strong pace throughout the last quarter of 2015.” There were 292,000 jobs created in December, far above the 200,000 estimate economists were predicting. Unemployment rate stayed at 5 percent and wages increased by 2.5 percent. Overall, 2015 saw the economy create 2.7 million jobs, just slightly weaker than the 3.1 million jobs created in the previous year. As this article highlights, “there are also signs in the report that the economy still has some room to grow.” Of particular importance is: Labor force participation. Prior to the financial crisis, the rate hung at around 66 percent, but in 2015 that number is just above 62 percent. Obama’s Town Hall on Guns: Here’s a great two minute recap of Obama’s appearance last night on CNN. My favorite part was Obama smacking down Anderson Cooper at 1:19. What a moronic question from the host. Trump states, “I will get rid of gun-free zones on schools”:  The man continues to parrot far-right talking points with genuine conservative fervor. He promised that on his first day there would be “no more gun-free zones.” So…guns on planes? Guns at fundraisers? Guns in the White House? Tweet of the day: If you haven’t seen “Inequality for All” – here’s your chance! See "Inequality for All" free. Password: bernie2016 https://t.co/BAHXgg2MEM — Robert Reich (@RBReich) January 8, 2016 Trump would be the end of the GOP: So says Michael Gerson at the Washington Post. It’s hard to disagree with him there. He goes on to claim, “Trump would make the GOP the party of racial and religious exclusion.” That’s where he lost me. Because Trump is hardly the first Republican to promote (forcefully) the exclusion of “the other.” This is how “moderate conservatives” like Gerson and Brooks rationalize their party’s situation. Trump is an outlier, in the words of Gerson. In fact, he thinks “liberals who claim that Trumpism is the natural outgrowth, or logical conclusion of
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Daily Clips: January 7th, 2016

Daily Clips: January 7th, 2016

The gun lobby’s con game will come to an end:  “The apologists for the weapons industry — they pass themselves off as the gun-rights movement — demonstrate their intellectual bankruptcy by regularly contradicting themselves with a straight face.” That’s quite an opening to a column, EJ Dionne. Throughout, one can feel his anger and the frustration coursing throughout his words. He pointed out the blatant contradictions of the gun lobby, but this was not the strength of his argument. After all, we all know how intransigent the NRA and its proponents can be. What stuck with me was the following take-away: But something important happened in the East Room when Obama offered a series of constrained but useful steps toward limiting the carnage on our streets, in our schools and houses of worship and movie theaters. He made clear that the era of cowering before the gun lobby and apologizing, trimming, hedging and equivocating is over. We will look back upon Obama’s presidency as the time when the gun responsibility movement found its voice. And in many ways, the president made this journey with all of us. While he certainly cannot be credited as the catalyst for the entire transformation, his leadership on the issue has been very powerful. It looks to carry into the 2016 election as well. Dionne concludes: Obama isn’t running for reelection, but the 2016 Democratic presidential candidates have shown that they, too, are unafraid to take on those who remain unmoved by death after death. At this point, Democrats have little to lose. Only fearlessness will flip the politics of guns and begin to put Republicans on the defensive. DNC Chair says young women have been complacent since Roe v. Wade:  Debbie, Debbie, Debbie. If you continue to make statements like this, you may very well find yourself as the #1 enemy for the progressive cause (and young women). Stop. Making. Enemies. And. Unite. The. Party. US jobs market holding firmer despite slowing growth:  According to Reuters, “the number of Americans filing for jobless benefits fell
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Daily Clips: January 6th, 2016

Daily Clips: January 6th, 2016

A president can’t end our nation’s gun addiction. Only grassroots efforts can:  So says Zach Silk, our Civic Ventures President, who penned a fantastic article in The Guardian today. Zach was the campaign manager for Initiative 594, where “in 2014, Washington became the first state to beat the NRA at the ballot when voters approved universal background checks by an overwhelming margin.” Silk likens the gun responsibility movement to the “marriage equality campaign before it.” Like gay marriage, “the gun responsibility movement is learning from its mistakes – talking to voters and chipping away at the larger issue one small victory at a time. But most importantly, we’re learning to speak to the shared American belief in community, personal responsibility and the right to protect one’s family from violence.” He concludes: “We won marriage equality one conversation at a time, over Thanksgiving dinners and Facebook threads and pitchers of beer. That’s how we’ll end the gun violence epidemic, too: by respectfully and patiently taking the case to your neighbors, friends and family, you effect change where it matters most, making it easier to pass laws at the local level.” Here’s how much Obamacare has cut the uninsured rate in every state:  Very interesting article which highlights how some states, such as South Dakota, are having real success with Obamacare while others, like Delaware and Wyoming, are not. In fact, Wyoming has seen a 9.6 percent increase in the uninsured rate. This flies in the face of a national decline in the uninsured rate and still remains a bit of a mystery. Oil slides to an 11-year low:  According to Reuters, “Oil prices slid more than 4 percent to new 11-year lows on Wednesday as the row between Saudi Arabia and Iran made any cooperation between major exporters to cut output even more unlikely.” Tweet of the day: Remember when the government "took away our cars" by requiring licensing and registration? — Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) January 6, 2016