Posts by Nick Cassella

Daily Clips: December 2nd, 2015

Daily Clips: December 2nd, 2015

December 2, 2015 Nick Cassella
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Most Americans think attacks on abortion clinics are “domestic terrorism.”  That’s good to hear. A majority of Republicans (54 percent) even believe that such attacks should be labelled as terrorism. Which is a good place to start I guess. The wealthiest 20 people now own more wealth than half the American population.  That’s neither fair nor good for our economy. Donald Trump is a bigot and a racist:  Dana Milbank doesn’t mince his words here. He goes after the Donald and his supporters noting, “though all Trump supporters surely aren’t racists or bigots, even a cursory examination of social media reveals that many are.” Five assumptions about this Republican election cycle:  Here’s an interesting breakdown of the 2016 GOP race by Brian Beutler. To the extent that conventional wisdom is possible in a campaign this erratic, a consensus is emerging among political analysts that looks something like this: 1. Despite his large, and enduring polling lead, Donald Trump still can’t win the nomination; something, at some point, will happen to derail his campaign. 2. Cruz will be the main beneficiary of Trump’s demise. 3. The establishment will coalesce behind Rubio as a more palatable alternative to Cruz. 4. The race will consolidate into a bloody slugfest between Cruz and Rubio, with Rubio enjoying overwhelming support from party actors and Cruz from conservative activists. Rubio will have a difficult time convincing ideological voters that he’s more authentically conservative than Cruz, who will gladly cite his rival’s official endorsements as evidence that he’s been compromised by the establishment. 5. As suggested by Rubio’s attacks on Cruz’s vote to end the NSA’s bulk , warrantless collection of electronic metadata, foreign policy will be the one arena in which Cruz will prove vulnerable on the right.

Daily Clips: December 1st, 2015

Daily Clips: December 1st, 2015

Hillary Clinton’s infrastructure plan, explained: In case you haven’t heard, Hillary Clinton put forward a bold infrastructure plan “that would generate $500 billion in additional infrastructure spending over the next five years.” She rightly called such an investment a “down payment” on our future. Matthew Yglesias notes: Infrastructure spending is in a sense a win-win for the economy, which both directly creates jobs and indirectly lays the foundation for further growth. But to maximize the growth-generating potential of infrastructure might require undermining some of its job-creating punch. David Brooks talks to himself: It seems that each column Brooks wades deeper and deeper into…I honestly don’t know. This time, he has a conversation with a dead man about the Paris climate talks; namely, Alexander Hamilton. Brooks moans that any climate agreement will result in cheating which in turn “will create a cycle of resentment that will dissolve any sense of common purpose.” His attitude on climate change might as well be, “We’re all fucked – let’s pack it up, boys.” The two American economies:  Peter Temin argues that the US has become a “dual economy.” By this he means “the disparity between the top thirty percent and the remainder has increased to the point” where both sets should be thought of independently. According to Temin, “the upper sector of the dual economy is the FTE sector, named for its main components: finance, technology and electronics. The lower sector of the American dual economy is the low-wage sector, and education is the way for people to go from the low-wage to the FTE sector.”   Two-thirds of Americans want U.S. to join climate change pact : But hey, since when did the US government care what the people thought?

Here’s why the US government is really bad at helping American families

Here’s why the US government is really bad at helping American families

Like any political philosophy, liberalism has its blind-spots—specifically with regards to how it treats individuals and, by proxy, families. “Liberalism, particularly in its American incarnations, has largely conceived of citizens as able, autonomous adults,” says Professor Maxine Eichner in her book, The Supportive State. Liberalism’s fixation on the individual ignores how humans are, in fact, highly dependent on other individuals throughout their lives. As Eichner states, “no adult is an island.” However, this basic human reality has been discarded by American politics, largely because it does not fit within the liberal prism. The idea that individuals are dependent on one another (or the government) seems at first to be antithetical to liberalism and our nation’s founding values. As Rick Santorum once said , “My view is the less the government can do and the more freedom and opportunity you give people, that trusting people and free people and free enterprise – that America has built the greatest country in the history of the world.” It is easy to see liberalism’s parameters at work here. By drawing such a stark line between the people and the government, conservatives like Santorum have failed to see “the ways in which families function are always deeply and inextricably intertwined with government policy.” They can only imagine individuals as autonomous agents, who are conceived of singularly, without connection to their families, and believe the individual and the state are both better off if they keep away from one another. As a result, America is having a really tough time dealing with family issues. Much more so than other democratic nations which were founded upon similar liberal ideals. In fact, right now America is “ one of only three countries to not provide paid sick days for a worker missing 5 days of work to the flu .” What about vacation time? Or paid parental leave? Ha. Good one. I haven’t even mentioned yet how “the United States has implemented very few policies to
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Daily Clips: November 30th, 2015

Daily Clips: November 30th, 2015

You are more than 7 times as likely to be killed by a right-wing extremist than by Muslim terrorists: Our Supreme Troublemaker, Nick Hanauer, shared this fascinating article on Twitter and I thought it deserved a place in today’s clips. While we are still not sure of the motivations behind the Colorado Springs shooting, the shooter’s “actions…appear to be an act of politically motivated terrorism directed against an institution widely reviled by conservatives.” 60% of Ted Cruz’s tax cuts go to the 1%: How to solve income inequality? Create more of it! Of course! Speaking of Ted Cruz, could his bromance with Donald Trump be coming to a close? The tweet below suggests as much: Ted Cruz on Donald Trump: "I don’t believe Donald Trump is going to be our nominee and I don’t believe he is going to be our president." — Jessica Hopper (@jesshop23) November 30, 2015 Up until now, Cruz has been extremely congenial towards Trump and his easily offended supporters. However, it looks like the gloves may be coming off. With the Iowa caucuses approaching rapidly, Cruz must start snatching some of Trump’s base if he hopes to win. And winning Iowa (or coming a close second) is a must for the Cruz campaign. Why the economic fates of America’s cities diverged:  “Despite all the attention focused these days on the fortunes of the ‘1 percent,’ debates over inequality still tend to ignore one of its most politically destabilizing and economically destructive forms. This is the growing, and historically unprecedented, economic divide that has emerged in recent decades among the different regions of the United States.” Here’s a fascinating read on the geographical convergence (and divergence) of wages in America. Fear wins, Obama loses:  Paul Waldman notes, “manipulating the public’s emotions has never been Obama’s strong suit.” He’s not wrong. Yet, we know that “Campaign Obama” was quite effective at creating a powerful sense of hope in the public’s emotions. So why doesn’t he carry on that sort of rhetoric as president – especially when it comes to foreign policy? Waldman
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Daily Clips: November 25th, 2015

Daily Clips: November 25th, 2015

Only 7 percent of Maryland Democrats support Martin O’Malley for president:  Poor Martin O’Malley. The former Governor of Maryland hasn’t been able to gain any traction in this race – even in his own state. Time to pack it up, methinks. US consumer spending slowing, but business investment poised to rise:  According to Reuters, “consumer spending edged up 0.1 percent after a similar increase in September. That suggests consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, has slowed from the third quarter’s brisk 3.0 percent annual pace.” Nearly 140 lawmakers ask Obama to shut loophole that allows gun sales without background checks:  They wrote the president, saying, “Under current law, only licensed gun dealers are required to perform background checks for all gun sales, and only those individuals deemed to be ‘engaged in the business’ of dealing in guns are required to obtain a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF),” the House letter states . “However, the regulatory definition of ‘engaged in the business, is exceptionally vague. As a result, individuals are able to sell guns at a high volume at gun shows, over the internet, or elsewhere without ever having becoming licensed and, in turn, without being compelled to conduct a simple background check before completing a sale. Your administration could take an immediate step that would have an important impact on limiting gun violence,” the letter also said. “Despite tragedy after tragedy, the Republican Congress has not been willing to pass any meaningful legislation to strengthen laws to help keep guns out of the hands of individuals who pose an increased risk to public safety.”

Daily Clips: November 24th, 2015

Daily Clips: November 24th, 2015

51% say government should ensure health care: It looks like our nation is a bunch of socialists again. For the first time since 2008, the majority of the nation believes that the government is responsible for providing health care to its people. In 2014, that number was at 45%. This change in public attitude most certainly helps the Democratic party and should remind all serious candidates (locally and federally) that they should not run away from Obamacare. Rather, they should defend its advancement of health care, but point out there is still much that can be improved. Rubio is the dark money candidate:  Marco Rubio is the scariest candidate I’ve seen from the Republican party in over eight years. He’s young, he’s passionate, and he has a quintessential “American Dream” upbringing. (Check out Rubio’s ad which highlights his father’s working-class credentials.) Anyways, I digress. A recent piece at Vox highlights that, “Rubio has benefited from anonymous, undisclosed cash to a degree that’s unprecedented for a modern presidential primary contender. Indeed, the vast majority of ads aired to promote Rubio so far this year have been funded by a single group — one that won’t reveal its funders.” In short, he’s a bought candidate. Will that juxtapose well against Donald Trump? Time will tell. One thing we can know for certain: Rubio is the dark money candidate of this election cycle. (Sorry David Brooks, it looks like he’s not “ uncorrupted ” after all.) 5 Black Lives Matter protestors shot in Minneapolis:  Three white men are considered suspects for this horrific shooting. Thankfully, none of the protestors suffered life-threatening injuries. America has some serious race issues. Quiet desperation and American fascism:   Alec MacGillis of ProPublica, writing in The New York Times Sunday Review, observes that for the most part, the poor aren’t defecting to Republicans— they are not voting at all . His exhibit A is eastern Kentucky, one of America’s poorest and most government-dependent regions. But the poor are so marginalized and disaffected that they are disconnected from civic life entirely. Looking
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Republicans Have Become The Anti-Diversity Party

Republicans Have Become The Anti-Diversity Party

I can still remember the first time I read the Republican National Committee’s incredible autopsy on the 2012 loss. Mere months after Barack Obama secured a second term, here was a document, penned by our rivals, which was impressive in its self-awareness and criticism. It seemed as if GOP strategists had learned all the right lessons from Mitt Romney’s defeat. “Our message was weak; our ground game was insufficient; we weren’t inclusive,” Priebus noted quite accurately. Within the first few pages of the 100-page report, the RNC made clear: We need to campaign among Hispanic, black, Asian, and gay Americans and demonstrate we care about them, too. We must recruit more candidates who come from minority communities. The report continued: “Asked to describe Republicans, [focus groups] said that the Party is ‘scary,’ ‘narrow minded,’ and ‘out of touch’ and that we were a Party of ‘stuffy old men.’ This is consistent with the findings of other post-election surveys.” Back in 2013, I read this and thought, “Oh, no. They’re not going to make the same mistakes again.” In 2015, I can only look back at that thought and laugh. Instead of developing a more welcoming and “compassionate conservatism,” the Republican party has chosen to become the anti-diversity and anti-inclusion party. They have decided to double down on “the perception that the GOP does not care about people.” They have (cravenly) determined to double down on xenophobic comments towards Hispanics, even though the report warned them “if Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies.” Throughout this primary process, they have made a concerted effort to double down on just about every fault they displayed in the 2012 contest. I suppose that’s good news for Democrats, but my god, is it bad news for our national politics.

Daily Clips: November 23rd, 2015

Daily Clips: November 23rd, 2015

Cartoon of the day: It appears that another war in the Middle East is on the horizon. Let’s face it, folks, we are a people that love operating in a world of black and white. Every ten years or so, we identify an “evil” (be that terrorism or communism) and then begin to whip up raw, fearful emotions in our people. After the Iraq War debacle, perhaps America feels an overwhelmingly sense of contrition and wants to right this terrible wrong. If that is the case, John Adams presciently noted our national psyche: “Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war.” Hillary’s pledge to not raise middle-class taxes is bad news for progressive politics: This lurch to the right has come as no surprise to many progressives. Yglesias points out that disavowing middle-class tax increases has become like “a formal Grover Norquist–style pledge” in the Democratic party. He warns that this pledge is “destructive of the long-term possibilities of progressive governance.” I couldn’t agree more. Clearly, the wealthy have to pay the most taxes – both by relative and absolute terms. However, in order to fund bold programs, every single American must share some of the burden. To say otherwise is to live in a political fantasy world. It’s disingenuous and it comes across as pandering. Furthermore, Clinton and Obama’s refusal to increase the taxes of the middle class “speaks to a profound problem in the larger liberal project.” Pledging “that the 1 percent will pay for everything reflects a fairly shallow solution.” More than that, it represents a misdiagnosis of how to deal with income inequality. It’s beginning to feel like 2002 all over again: So says Paul Waldman, who laments the parallels between the Paris attacks and 9/11. To be clear, I’m not arguing that heightened fears of ISIS will sweep the Republicans into the White House next year; there’s lots of time between now and then, and other issues will grab the electorate’s attention. The American public and its political elite
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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.”