Posts by Nick Cassella

Daily Clips: November 20th, 2015

Daily Clips: November 20th, 2015

Governor Jay Inslee’s NYT piece on the Syrian Refugees: A must read. People are right to be angry and hurting because 129 innocent people who thought they were safe were slaughtered in Paris. But we cannot condemn all Syrians or all Muslims for those heinous acts. America has been victimized by domestic and foreign terrorists. The blame for those acts should be with the radicals who committed them, not any religion, race or country of origin. I don’t deny or condemn the fear that has swelled since the Paris attacks. But fear can be overcome. We can take a deep breath, stand up straight and make a realistic assessment of risk. And we can’t forget the times we have been tested, both when we’ve failed and when we’ve succeeded. Donald Trump and his Muslim database:  Oh, look: you’re more likely to be xenophobic if you’re Christian! Let’s not forget this chart as we point blame at Trump. It’s sad to say, but he is merely promoting the viewpoints of the vast majority of the GOP base. Economists tested 7 welfare programs to see if they made  people lazy. They didn’t.  A fascinating read which should be useful, as you argue with your conservative uncle this Thanksgiving.

Daily Clips: November 19th, 2015

Daily Clips: November 19th, 2015

Clinton offers a more hawkish foreign policy than Obama:  In one of the most predictable moves of this primary season, Clinton has “urged a more aggressive approach” to fighting ISIS. She’s doing this for two reasons: 1) because it’s campaign season and 2) because she’s drastically trying to separate herself from Obama’s legacy without pushing too far away. All of this goes to show that our next president, regardless of the party, will be far more willing to blow sh*t up. Here’s the full transcript from Hillary’s speech on ISIS. Scariest headline of the day: Please, George F. Will, N.S. Cassella wants you to retire.   US weekly jobless claims continuing to decline:  According to CNBC, “the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell last week, pointing to a fairly robust labor market.” Claims have now been held below 300,000 for the 37th consecutive week. This is an important measurement, because claims below this level are most often associated with a healthy jobs market. Fear is making the GOP’s job easier:  EJ Dionne’s most recent piece can be perfectly summarized in these two sentences: “There are equally good reasons for Republican politicians to encourage voters to think about their fears of terrorism, their worries about immigrants and their feelings toward Islam. For the moment, dreadful and genuinely frightening news is making the GOP’s job easier.”

Gov. Jay Inslee stands up against anti-refugee bigotry

Gov. Jay Inslee stands up against anti-refugee bigotry

Jay Inslee made a bold and morally brave statement earlier this week, declaring that “Washington will continue to be a state that welcomes those seeking refuge from persecution, regardless of where they come from or the religion they practice.” He scolded over half of the nation’s governors who have publicly stated they do not want refugees in their states, calling such language “of little value except to divide people and foment intolerance.” Today, Inslee defended his position to NPR: “I think that our nation is tested from time to time, and I think this is one of those times to really dig deep and see what kind of charter our nation and my state has. I’ve always believed my state and the country has always been a place of refuge for those who have been persecuted…” During the interview, Inslee said he understands the criticism that has been directed his way, claiming, “Fear is a powerful thing and these atrocities strike deep…but I think leadership calls for people to yes, recognize it’s real and act responsibly.” Inslee pointed out that America has not always been able to overcome the “ dark impulses ” which fear and death bring about. Specifically, he spoke out about his own state’s experience of “locking up Washington and American citizens” and by that he means when the federal government sent Japanese Americans to internment camps. He noted that during this dark time in our nation’s history, “we lost moorage of who we are as a country.” You can listen to the full interview here .

Daily Clips: November 18th, 2015

Daily Clips: November 18th, 2015

Washington Gov. Inslee welcomes Syrian refugees: Here’s an NPR segment with our Governor, Jay Inslee, who talks about the importance of supporting Syrian refugees fleeing from civil war. His words are full of wisdom and humanity, putting him at odds with over half of the nation’s xenophobic governors. Hillary Clinton and her paid leave problem:  Recently, Hillary Clinton has been attacking Bernie Sanders’ position on taxes; namely, that some of his proposals like paid family leave will require tax increases for middle-class Americans. During last week’s debate, Clinton stated, “Hard working, middle-class families need a raise, not a tax increase.” That is a great soundbite, but how would she actually pay for 12 weeks of paid family leave without taxing the middle class? A Clinton aide claims, “She supports a different way to pay for [paid leave] and so will be outlining additional ideas for ensuring the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share.” For now, your guess is as good as mine. Race-baiting for the presidency:  This article takes a historical look at the use of race in presidential elections and how racial divides have been callously employed since the birth of our nation. The takeaway message, in my opinion, can be summed up in this line: It may be the case that [racial divineness may be] a useful approach in some primary contests, but quite damaging in a general election with a more diverse electorate. In the maelstrom of bigotry, Republicans have forgotten this cogent piece of advice. Elizabeth Warren Delivers Stinging Critique Of Efforts To Reject Syrian Refugees: “We are not a nation that delivers children back into the hands of ISIS murderers.”

Daily Clips: November 17th, 2015

Daily Clips: November 17th, 2015

Obama tells Republican governors it’s “not American” to only accept Christian refugees:  At the G20 summit, Obama had harsh words for our nation’s top xenophobic governors, stating, “When I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution, that’s shameful.” He also urged leaders to not give in to their “dark impulses” when it came to this matter. David Brooks is misleading you or he’s an idiot: In his latest spiritual-babble column, Brooks laments how the “secular substitutes for religion — nationalism, racism and political ideology — have all led to disaster.” You’ve got to be kidding me. As a secularist, I find it highly insulting that Brooks thinks I substitute religious meaning in the world for nationalism, racism and political ideology. The man’s a bigot. And it appears he’s not very well acquainted with secularism, however that unfortunately did not stop him from writing about it. Rubio’s plan to keep the poor out of higher education:  “But education is not what Republicans are about, and this debate was aimed, naturally, at GOP primary voters. Hence, swipe at egghead philosophers, who by definition (in the Tea Party view), belong to the liberal intelligentsia. That was just the very well-educated, not-a-welder Marco Rubio playing to his nativist party’s epic anti-intellectualism.” Yellen urges rejection of rule-based monetary policy proposal:  According to Reuters, “Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on Tuesday condemned a proposal in the U.S. Congress that would require the central bank to tie interest rate policy to a mathematical rule, arguing this would ‘severely damage the U.S. economy.'”

The End of American Apathy Towards War?

The End of American Apathy Towards War?

Americans love war, but after waging (at least) two in the last decade, we have become tired of spilling blood in foreign lands. Our current apathy towards conflict has been labelled the “ Iraq Syndrome ” – a disease characterized by our collective doubt regarding the use of force. However, our fatigue towards warfare may be succumbing to the threat of ISIS. A CCN/ORC poll from October discovered that 46% of the country would support sending ground troops to fight the Islamic State. This number will most likely increase after the latest attacks in Paris, driving support for another war in the Middle East even higher. The outcome seems clear: the media will do all they can to sell fear and hatred, while Republican candidates will happily provide their nativist base with racist generalizations and fantasy-like plans for war. Take for example Jeb Bush: a stumbling presidential candidate who is hoping to become the third Bush to start an American war in the Middle East. After the Paris attacks, Bush  said  that the US “should declare war” on ISIS. Specifically, he advocated for taking “it to them in Syria and Iraq.” He then went onto explain how he would do this: You destroy ISIS. And then you build a coalition to replace this radical Islamic terrorist threat to our country and to Europe and to the region with something that is more peace-loving. (It’s all so simple! Just blow ISIS up and create a peace-loving regime in its place. Why hadn’t Obama thought of that before?) During this incredibly unintelligent interview on Meet the Press, Chuck Todd asked Bush what he would say to an American people wary of future wars in the Middle East. His answer is revealing : I tell the American public that a caliphate the size of Indiana garners strength each and every day if it’s not taken out. In
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Daily Clips: November 16th, 2015

Daily Clips: November 16th, 2015

Tweet Democrats need to learn to defend Obama’s record on foreign policy:  If you watched Saturday night’s debate, you would have seen the Democratic candidates uncomfortably defend the status quo in the Middle East. It felt awkward and half-hearted. Matthew Ygelsias provides a useful narrative for Democrats to champion Obama’s foreign policy going forward: …But then again, the Middle East was a violent and chaotic place when Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were in office. Obama has not managed to solve the problems of the region, but he has defended America’s core interests — including, crucially, the absence of terrorist attacks at home — without incurring the thousands of American military casualties than we saw under his predecessor. It is, all things considered, a pretty good record. Across the country, voters want to limit money’s control of politics:  Americans are demanding new solutions “to the age-old problem of money in politics.” From Seattle to Maine, Americans are trying to ameliorate this situation and “piece by piece and city by city, we’re strengthening the levees of our democracy. From city halls to the Capitol, we are working on adopting innovative approaches to give all Americans the ability to be heard. The returns from Maine and Seattle suggest there is common ground and voters are ready to act. Left, right and center, everyone has had enough of politics that serves only the interests of big political donors.” Obama says no to ground troops:  “It is not just my view, but the view of my closest military and civilian advisers, that that would be a mistake,” Obama said of putting boots on the ground. “A strategy has to be one that can be sustained,” the president added. Growing number of states refuse to accept Syrian refugees:  Michigan, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, and Indiana have all refused the relocation of refugees after the Paris attacks.

Daily Clips: November 13th, 2015

Daily Clips: November 13th, 2015

Stiglitz: Sanders is right – everybody has the right to healthcare, sick days and paid leave:  Here is an intriguing conversation between Nobel Prize-winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz, and Amy Goodman at Democracy Now! They talk about a range of issues, mostly relating to the 2016 race, but this section of the talk I found to be particularly interesting: AMY GOODMAN: So that’s Hillary Clinton. You advise Hillary Clinton? JOSEPH STIGLITZ: I talk to her, yes. AMY GOODMAN: So, her response—”We’re not Denmark”—as a put-down to Bernie Sanders? JOSEPH STIGLITZ: Well, it’s a fact we are not Denmark. But the question is whether the United States is rich enough to be able to make sure that everyone has a basic right to healthcare, family leave, parental, you know, sick leave—we are exceptional—whether we are a society that can tolerate—that should tolerate the levels of inequality that we have. I think Bernie Sanders is right about that. And I think that we—Hillary is right that one of the strengths of America should be that we can give opportunity for small businesses. Actually, Denmark and Norway do that, as well. So, what I would say is that Bernie is absolutely right that providing the basic necessities of a middle-class society should be the right of everybody in our country. David Brooks criticizes Marco Rubio!  For the first time in this race, Brooks had stern words for Rubio – a man he has previously lauded as “ young and thus uncorrupted .” In his latest column, Brooks seems to have had enough of Rubio’s fence-sitting on immigration, stating: “I’m sorry, Marco Rubio, when your party faces a choice this stark, with consequences this monumental, you’re probably not going to be able to get away with being a little on both sides.” The real job for the next Democratic president:  There are a lot of promises which are being made by Bernie, Hillary, and Martin, but the odds of them accomplishing any of these commitments are very low. As
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Daily Clips: November 12th, 2015

Daily Clips: November 12th, 2015

Homeless students and college: I must confess, prior to reading this article I had no idea that 56,000 college students in the US were homeless. These students oftentimes have many barriers to graduation, and so Senator Patty Murray “this week reintroduced legislation to end financial aid requirements that ask students to verify their living situation every year and supply documentation stating they’re homeless.” Democrats scheduled debates on days when nobody will watch: The next Democratic debate is scheduled for this Saturday night – the one day of the week where most people have plans or don’t want to engage with the realities of life. This debate isn’t a one-off either. They also scheduled a debate six days before Christmas (which also happens to be on a Saturday)! All said, “half of the six [Democratic] debates are on days that are just bad if you want a wide viewership.” Thanks, Debbie. Look, this stinks of backroom deals. As Democrats, we should be proud of the politicians we’ve put forward for the 2016 race. While Republicans are front and center in the national conversation, Democrats have retreated. Why? To diffuse Bernie’s momentum? To make sure the American people don’t get sick of Hillary? Whatever the reason, the scheduling comes off as sketchy. The insanity of Republican economics:  “As Grunwald notes, the problem here is that the current GOP still can’t digest awkward facts. The success of the TARP bailout is ideologically antithetical to everything the GOP stands for right now. More generally, a robust call for greater deregulation in the financial sector evokes the ghosts of financial bubbles past. In this sector, it is difficult for traditional Republican policies to resonate. The response to this seemed to be just asserting things that were not true.” Students marching for free college:  According to Reuters, students are set to walk out of classrooms across the nation in order to protest increasing tuition fees and student loan debt. The movement’s organizers say, “Education should be free.
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Daily Clips: November 11th, 2015

Daily Clips: November 11th, 2015

The GOP is living in a fantasy world:  For those of you who tuned into last night’s Fox Business “debate,” you’ll know that every single one of the candidates peddled the same-old trickle-down platforms. Less regulation, more tax cuts = economic growth! Amanda Marcotte at Salon summarizes their flirtation with economic fantasy: The continued popularity of Donald Trump and Ben Carson clearly sent a signal to the rest of the field that primary voters simply hate reality, particularly when it comes to economics, and will swiftly punish any candidate who feeds them anything but soothing, if ridiculous fantasies. She’s right, but the denial of reality was apparent within this party long before Trump and Carson showed up. In the face of decades of economic research, these corporate puppets continue to dish out the same economic treatments with slightly different language. If the American people are not smart enough to see that, they may win this election in 2016. Ben Carson lied about the minimum wage: In last night’s debate, Carson claimed that “Every time we raise the minimum wage, the number of jobless people increases.” PolitiFact rated this as “False” and concluded, “it’s not at all clear that a minimum-wage hike was the primary culprit for the periods in which joblessness rose, since those periods also coincided with broader recessions in the economy.” The 8 weirdest economic ideas from the GOP debate:  There were some doozies: 1. The Fed should stop controlling interest rates 2. The TPP is a Chinese conspiracy 3. The Fed caused the 2008 crash by raising interest rates