Posts by Nick Cassella

Daily Clips: September 30th, 2015

Daily Clips: September 30th, 2015

Elizabeth Warren should (still) run for president: My favorite political commentator at the moment, Matthew Yglesias, writes an article that I wish I had concocted. He yearns for Warren to jump into the race, noting that “so far, [a search for an alternative to Hillary Clinton] has manifested in an odd yearning for a third Joe Biden presidential campaign.” I couldn’t agree more. Yglesias concludes: In retrospect, Warren should have gotten into the race months ago, back when everyone was writing articles about how she should get into the race. But even though the campaign feels like it’s been going on since the beginning of time, it’s not remotely too late for Warren to change her mind. Oregon to give second chance to residents with marijuana convictions:  Our neighbor to the south is showing Washington how justice should be retroactively served. According to the New York Times, starting next year, almost all forms of marijuana-related offenses will be eligible for expungement. This news comes as Oregon looks to begin selling legal weed on October 1st. Planned Parenthood stands tough against GOP misogyny:  Congressional Republicans got what they wanted – a yelling match at PP President Cecile Richards, where they could interrupt her at will and be absolute d****. What exactly the point was all of this? I think we all know: Republicans want to ban abortions in this country and will go at any length to do so. If you’re a woman in this country, this news should absolutely alarm you. I hate to use the term “War on Women”, but the rhetoric of Republicans towards women today is getting to be very scary. Obama’s Cadillac Tax is doomed: Americans hate the idea of taxing expensive health benefits; in fact 60 percent of Americans oppose taxes “on higher-cost employer-sponsored health plans.” With these poll numbers in mind, Hillary Clinton (ever the political pragmatist) has come out agains the Cadillac Tax (as has the Chamber of Commerce). The repeal of this tax is becoming
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Marco Rubio & his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad paid leave policy

Marco Rubio & his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad paid leave policy

Last week, in an eyebrow-raising move, Senator Marco Rubio detailed a plan for providing paid leave to workers. It’s a prudent political decision, seeing as 80 percent of Americans are in favor of requiring companies to provide paid family leave  and also because the US is the only OECD country that doesn’t mandate such a policy . Before you start thinking he’s a socialist in Milton Friedman’s clothes, note the key caveat in Rubio’s policy proposal: Whereas Democrats like Sanders and Clinton would institute paid leave via federal legislation, Rubio would merely give tax incentives to businesses that offered paid leave, thereby passing the responsibility of basic worker protections on to businesses themselves. Because if we’ve seen anything in the short history of capitalism, it is that businesses always have the best interests of their employees at heart. Here’s how his plan would work: Rubio’s plan would offer a 25% tax credit to employers who offer a minimum of 4 weeks of paid family leave. The maximum pay out per employee, to full-time and part-time workers, would be $4,000, and the maximum leave time would be 12 weeks. “For instance,” Rubio explained, “if you are offered $1,600 in paid leave for four weeks while you take care of your newborn, which would be the equivalent of about $10 an hour, your employer could claim a tax credit for $400.” Rubio’s plan acts as a voluntary, market-based approach to solving a huge problem in America:  less than 15% of US citizens have access to any kind of paid family leave . This is certainly not the first time Rubio has put the market in charge of improving complicated issues. In the past, he’s argued that we should leave it to the free-market to fix the environment  and yes, he thinks we should repeal Obamacare and replace it with a market-based health care program instead . What’s more, he finds it troubling  that most people believe “we need big government to protect the little guy.” Instead of being a guardian of the little guy, he thinks “big government — more often than not — is an impediment to the guy who is striving.” In essence, Marco Rubio has a cult-like devotion to the Republican god of all solutions, The Market. Give me a break. The Market
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Daily Clips: September 29th, 2015

Daily Clips: September 29th, 2015

An American was arrested every 51 seconds for pot in 2014: When talking about marijuana policy, I always know I’m talking to someone in the upper echelons of society when they say, “But pot’s practically legal already!” No, it’s not. The US government spends a mind-boggling “$3.6 billion each year enforcing laws against marijuana possession, according to a frequently cited report by the American Civil Liberties Union .” That is a whole lot of taxpayer money that is being wasted on a substance which the majority of Americans want legalized. Could Trey Gowdy be the next House majority leader?  I know what you’re thinking and the answer is no, I also don’t have a clue who this guy is. After a quick Google search, I found this gem about Gowdy: The South Carolina Republican, a former state and federal prosecutor, is best known for chairing the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Oh, he sounds nice and bipartisan. Gowdy has a “Liberty Score” rating of 85%  (basically, the closer to 100% you are the closer to craziness you get). To put that number in comparison, soon-to-be former Speaker of the House John Boehner had a score of 35% . Yikes. The Daily Show with Trevor Noah: The South African’s first episode aired last night and it is definitely worth a watch. I’m one of the few people who is very excited about his future. Having an objective, outside-of-the-US perspective on our politics and culture is much needed (think of John Oliver). Clinton gets recommendation endorsement from National Education Association:  The 3 million-strong teachers union sent out an email to its members stating: After months of interactions with the three candidates who chose to participate in our process [Clinton, Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders], certain things became clear…Clinton is the best positioned candidate to win both the Democratic primary and general election. She has unmatched organizational strength, ground game, and fundraising ability to defeat the candidate of the Koch brothers. While this endorsement will certainly ruffle feathers within the #FeelTheBern crowd, the NEA’s logic is spot-on. However, I
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Daily Clips: September 28th, 2015

Daily Clips: September 28th, 2015

Fox Host confronts Jeb! on his tax plan: In a rather tense interview, Fox host Chris Wallace pointed out that “Bush’s tax plan would, according to his last six years of tax returns, give the former Florida governor a $3 million tax cut ” and asked the candidate, “Does Jeb Bush need a $3 million tax cut?”. Wallace was also quick to point out “that his father, George H. W. Bush, called Ronald Reagan’s theory that lower tax rates would spur income growth ‘voodoo economics.'” Jeb was visibly taken aback by these straightforward questions and his answers were, quite frankly, pathetic. This has got to unnerve those within his campaign, because these same (basic) questions are sure to pop again if Jeb! makes it to the general election. You can watch the full exchange below: Jeb Bush says tax policies of his brother led to dynamic growth: Unfortunately for Jeb!, PolitiFact exists and they looked into one of his statements made in the aforementioned Wallace interview. Here was their final ruling on his claim that the tax policies of his brother “created a dynamic effect of high growth”: The definition of “high,” of course, is relative, but if you look at the most directly comparable examples — the past five presidents’ records in average, annual, inflation-adjusted growth in gross domestic product — George W. Bush ranked fourth among the five presidents, and trailed the two strongest presidents in this regard, Clinton and Reagan, by a particularly wide margin. (Reagan’s policies included both tax cuts and tax increases.) The Ben Carson bubble is bursting! It was inevitable, folks. Ben Carson was always a bigot, but his nap-like persona led the American people to believe otherwise. (“He seems so reasonable and thoughtful…and he was a doctor!”) This weekend, CNN’s Jake Tapper spoke with Carson about his views on Muslims, asking hard-hitting questions, but certainly nothing below the belt. After about seven minutes of bulls*** from Carson (“I’m assuming that if you accept all the tenets of Islam that you would have a
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Daily Clips: September 25th, 2015

Daily Clips: September 25th, 2015

John Boehner will resign from office in October:  I have a lot of conflicting emotions about this news. On the one hand, I’m (super) excited that this dud-of-a-leader has decided to hang up his boots, but on the other hand, I feel like I owe my progressivism largely to John Boehner. In the infancy of my political conscience, I would watch Keith Olbermann’s show where Boehner was regularly one of the host’s “Worst People In The World.” His obstinate conservatism helped shape my contempt for the modern GOP. Fiscal cliffs, farm bills, Obamacare, Department of Homeland Security, and now the latest government shutdown – these are Boehner’s great accomplishments. I understand that he was caught “betwixt and between” the establishment and the Tea Party, as Chris Cilliza put it. But that doesn’t excuse him for his partisan leadership. Moreover, it doesn’t excuse him from showing no backbone to the American people. He was a coward who let a bunch of racists, misogynists, and homophobes control him.  As Boehner walks away from this esteemed position, he should know that he has handicapped this nation instead of moving it forward. He will go down as one of the worst Speakers of the House in US history. How many wars is the US really righting?  Our nation loves war – there’s no doubt about that. But we probably don’t know the full extent of our military aggression, particularly our special forces who are staged all across the world. Here, The Nation has a neat article on our special-ops and the breadth of their engagement in the wider world. Huckabee: ‘What kind of Christian’ is Obama?   Hear that dog whistle, Tea Party? Jeb Bush: The Pope shouldn’t discuss climate change because ‘he’s not a scientist': By this logic, Jeb! shouldn’t talk about Planned Parenthood because he’s not a woman. If only… EPA says to take tougher stance on auto emissions tests: According to Reuters, US environmental regulators said the will be “stepping up emissions testing activities in response to Volkswagen’s alleged violations of pollution laws.” About time.

Daily Clips: September 24th, 2015

Daily Clips: September 24th, 2015

Noam Chomsky: The GOP is a radical insurgency; it’s not a political party: In a recent interview, Chomsky identifies how the modern Republican Party have well and truly left the confines of political reality. Here is his most provocative, but compelling description of this phenomena: It is important to bear in mind that the Republicans have long abandoned the pretense of functioning as a normal parliamentary party… Since Ronald Reagan, the leadership has plunged so far into the pockets of the very rich and the corporate sector that they can attract votes only by mobilizing sectors of the population that have not previously been an organized political force, among them extremist evangelical Christians, now probably the majority of Republican voters; remnants of the former slave-holding States; nativists who are terrified that “they” are taking our white Christian Anglo-Saxon country away from us; and others who turn the Republican primaries into spectacles remote from the mainstream of modern society—though not the mainstream of the most powerful country in world history. Pope Francis’ full address to Congress:  I don’t want to get caught up in the hysteria of Pope Francis’ visit, but his speech to Congress this morning is certainly worth a listen (or a read). He hits on major themes which America struggles with today: income inequality, hatred towards the “other”, and a basic failure to follow Christ’s Golden Rule. The best part about the address may be watching John Boehner’s face. Pope Francis and the economic order: While George Will freaks out about the Pope criticizing capitalism and warns that “Americans cannot simultaneously honor him and celebrate their nation’s premises,” the rest of us know that the Pope actually speaks the truth when it comes to economics (and isn’t against our “nation’s premises”). As Harold Meyerson writes, In place of our current system, Francis has recommended giving workers more power — in particular, promoting worker-owned and -run cooperatives. Speaking to delegates from Italian cooperatives, he extolled “an
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Daily Clips: September 23rd, 2015

Daily Clips: September 23rd, 2015

PolitiFact checks this Hillary statement:   And she’s not lying! PolitiFact noted, “The numbers back up Clinton’s claim since World War II: Of the 49 quarters in recession since 1947, eight occurred under Democrats, while 41 occurred under Republicans.” Nearly a 1/3 of Iowa GOP wants to criminalize Islam:  Of course they do. With such a high percentage of the GOP base hating all things Islam, one can see why Donald Trump and Ben Carson have started to bring anti-Muslim rhetoric into the GOP nomination. The Public Policy Polling report had this great analysis to add: [Donald Trump is] probably not hurting himself too much with his negativity toward Muslims either – only 49% of Republicans think the religion of Islam should even be legal in the United States with 30% saying it shouldn’t be and 21% not sure. Among Trump voters there is almost even division with 38% thinking Islam should be allowed and 36% that it should not. Hillary Clinton comes out against the Keystone pipeline:  Finally, Clinton has staked out a position on the deeply controversial (and partisan) issue. She’s come out with the right decision as well. “On Tuesday, she ended the game of chicken, offering a terse answer : ‘I oppose it because I don’t think it’s in the best interest of what we need to do to combat climate change.'” Short, but sweet.

Daily Clips: September 22nd, 2015

Daily Clips: September 22nd, 2015

Jeb! hates net neutrality:  Today, Jeb! unveiled policy proposals which would call for rolling back many of Obama’s actions, including net neutrality. The Hill reports, “Bush’s proposal laments the rules for subjecting Internet service providers — such as Verizon, AT&T or Comcast — to “antiquated ‘common carrier’ regulations.” There Jeb! goes again, siding with the little guy… Senator Warren standing up for women’s reproductive choices: Why isn’t she running again? Government shutdown looking more and more likely:  Lawmakers (from both sides) are using the budget process to push forward their own individual agendas and predictably, that isn’t good for the nation. Washington Post gathered the opinions of congressional budget experts to hear what they had to say about the chances of a government shutdown. The results were not good. Here is an excerpt from an expert (try saying that ten times) who believes there is a 75 percent chance of a shutdown: To recap, we have the Planned Parenthood debate, the Export-Import Bank, debates over ending automatic budget cuts and the Iran nuclear deal all threatening to play a part in at least a temporary government shutdown. Oh yeah, and Congress still has to okay a fund by Oct. 29 to help pay for highways and bridges (known as the Highway Trust Fund). SCOTT WALKER IS OUT-OF-HERE!  To celebrate Governor Walker’s exit from the GOP primary, here are 7 gaffes that helped doom his candidacy. One down, 15 to go. 

Daily Clips: September 21st, 2015

Daily Clips: September 21st, 2015

Bernie Sanders says top 0.1% in US have almost as much wealth as the bottom 90%:  PolitiFact checked out Sanders’ comment and found it to be “Mostly True” – which made me sigh in defeat. How can this be true in 2015? Colorado’s marijuana tax revenues nearly double last year’s figures:  More good news for the legalization movement! (Also, why is it that we always hear about Colorado and not Washington when it comes to legal marijuana? Bummer, man.) The Guardian reports: Through the first seven months of this year, Colorado has brought in nearly $73.5m , putting the state on pace to collect over $125m for the year. These incredible (and surprising) numbers make the success of future marijuana ballot initiatives far more likely. The Pope is coming to town:  The highly anticipated arrival of Pope Francis has the US media buzzing. However, his controversial positions on climate change and refugees has angered Congressional Republicans; indeed, some are even considering skipping his address to Congress. The discussion of abortion (especially in the light of the Planned Parenthood stand-off) will be of particular interest. Obama citizenship push stokes conservative fears:  Politico reports that the Obama administration is putting together a “new initiative to nudge 8.8 million legal residents who are eligible for naturalization to become full-fledged citizens — and therefore, eligible to vote.” These new citizens would most likely vote for Democrats and this reality hasn’t been lost on the Republicans. A paper from the right-wing Eagle Forum warned: Republicans can never turn liberal-leaning immigrants and their adult children into supporters of limited government faster than the current high level of legal immigration (one million a year) is bringing in new liberal voters,” the report warns.

Daily Clips: September 18th, 2015

Daily Clips: September 18th, 2015

Hillary Clinton releases a great ad: Anyone that watched the GOP debate two nights ago would’ve been astounded with how little policy was actually discussed. Hillary’s communications team does a terrific job of highlighting their silence on the important issues: Planned Parenthood provides a rebuttal to Carly Fiorina:  Planned Parenthood Action Fund executive vice president Dawn Laguens had some strong words for the Republican candidate: I am writing to tell you directly that your claims are completely false and that the video footage you described simply does not exist. Literally, there is no such scene on any of the heavily edited, widely discredited videos that have been released by anti-abortion extremists. Your statements last night, while vivid and attention-getting, were completely untrue,” Laguens wrote, in the message addressed to Fiorina’s campaign headquarters in suburban Alexandria, Virginia. American incomes shrink:  According to Census Bureau data released earlier this week, the median annual household income in the US has fallen by 1.5 percent to $53,657. More than this, median income is still 6.5 percent lower than it was prior to the financial crisis in 2008. The good news from the report? The number of Americans without health insurance has dropped to 10.4 percent of the population, down from 13.3 percent in 2013.   The Fed will raise rates…in December: After deciding not to increase interest rates from zero this week, the Federal Reserve is allegedly ready to raise rates at its December policy meeting. The futures market implied traders see a 42 percent chance that the rate hike will occur in December.