Posts by Nick Cassella

35% of Americans think mass shootings are “just a fact of life”

35% of Americans think mass shootings are “just a fact of life”

Earlier this week, I pointed out that the American people are complicit in the gun violence epidemic which cripples this nation every single day. Unfortunately, our citizens aren’t losing any sleep over this. In fact, they are utterly abdicating responsibility on the matter. A recent YouGov poll  shows that  over a third of our nation  believes that mass shootings are “just a fact of life in America today.” What’s worse, fewer than half of Americans believe that mass shootings can be stopped. As Americans, we should be ashamed of ourselves and our inability to confront this issue at all. We upturned the Middle East and shredded habeas corpus because 2,977 innocent Americans were killed in the horrific 9/11 attacks. And yet every single year we sit back and accept 30,000 gun deaths?  Gun violence has now killed 428 times more Americans over the last decade than terrorism.  And we’re supposed to believe that this a “just a part of life” in the so-called greatest country on earth? Here at Civic Skunk Works, we lambasted Jeb Bush  last week for shrugging his shoulders in response to the UCC shooting and grumbling, “Stuff happens.” Yet, this YouGov poll indicates his callous reaction actually represents many Americans. If that doesn’t get your blood boiling, I don’t know what will. “Every nation gets the government it deserves,” said the political philosopher,  Joseph de Maistre . Ultimately, this country will continue to be ravaged by gun violence if we continue to elect leaders who do nothing to address this epidemic. If you vote for individuals who are gun responsibility skeptics, you need to consider the implications of your vote. As President Obama advised the nation , “Our thoughts and prayers are not enough.”

Daily Clips: October 7th, 2015

Daily Clips: October 7th, 2015

Bernie Sanders nets his first congressional endorsement:  While Bernie can pack stadiums full of supporters, he has had a very difficult time of securing support from his colleagues on Capitol Hill. In fact, up until today Sanders was behind Martin O’Malley on the “ endorsement count ” – yes, that same O’Malley who basically has zero national support at this time. Bernie’s first congressional endorsement will come from Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, who is a “member Congressional Hispanic Caucus and is expected to help Sanders’ outreach to Latino voters.” What if the House can’t elect a new speaker?  An interesting article from The Atlantic on the internal politics of electing a new Speaker of the House. Front-runner, Kevin McCarthy, needs 218 votes to earn the new position, however it looks like the Tea Party members will do everything they can to not make that happen. As per usual, chaos rules the day in this pathetic branch of government. Stuff happens to the environment…like climate change:   Thomas Friedman has written a rousing piece on climate change and the danger of completely ignoring the science on this issue. He warns, “The next eight years will be critical for the world’s climate and ecosystems, and if you vote for a climate skeptic for president, you’d better talk to your kids first, because you will have to answer to them later.” Powerful stuff. Clinton starting to distance herself from Obama:  It was inevitable that we would see Clinton distance herself from Obama on certain policies and so far, she has done so admirably. However, she needs to be careful to not completely disavow the president. As the author notes: Putting distance between herself and the president she used to serve as the nation’s top diplomat has risks, particularly among voters who helped elect Obama and still support him. But Clinton is seeking to chart her own policy agenda — more liberal on many fronts and more hawkish on others — and reassert control of the primary
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Daily Clips: October 6th, 2015

Daily Clips: October 6th, 2015

Lindsey Graham is a hypocrite when it comes to federal aid:  For those of you who do not know, Senator Graham voted against extending federal aid to those states effected by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. And wouldn’t you know it, just three years later he has called for an unlimited amount of federal resources to aid his state due to the flooding. In fact, when talking to Wolf Blitzer he completely feigned ignorance on his previous vote, saying, “Anyway, I don’t really recall [voting against Hurricane Sandy aid], but I’d be glad to look and tell you why I did vote no, if I did.” How pathetic. This hack is a supposed to be a Christian and yet he can’t even follow the Golden Rule. 90 percent of Americans want universal background checks on all gun purchases:  PolitiFact looked at this statement and rated it “True.” Their analysis is, per usual, excellent and offers this tidbit about Texas’ views on background checks: And in Texas? A February 2013 University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll of 1,200 Texas voters found 78 percent of respondents somewhat or strongly supporting criminal and mental health background checks for all U.S. gun purchases, including at gun shows and for private sales. Hillary Clinton just made a Benghazi ad: Kevin McCarthy’s truthful gaffe last week has opened up a new opportunity for Hillary to strike back against the Benghazi committee. Before the Democratic debate on October 13th (and her appearance in front of the House committee on October 22nd), she has released an ad which attacks Republicans for wasting $4.5 million of tax payer money on a partisan adventure. You can watch it here: America’s fragile Constitution: If you can read one piece on American politics today, I’d recommend this article by Yoni Appelbaum. I warn you: it’s long. But it takes a deep dive into the history of our democracy and the nature of leadership. Like all good written works, it makes you feel uncomfortable and challenges you with new perspectives. A must
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Our gun violence paradox: How the US government undermines the protection of Americans

Our gun violence paradox: How the US government undermines the protection of Americans

While listening to President Obama’s moving press conference after the UCC shooting, my interest was piqued by a phrase he used to describe the tragic situation. In exasperated tones, he asserted , “[Gun violence] is something we should politicize. It is relevant to our common life together. To the body politic.” It’s been awhile since I’ve heard the term “body politic” referenced by a politician and its appearance in Obama’s remarks gave me pause. Here was a leader pleading for his nation to examine the motivations behind joining in “common life together.” In essence, he was asking us to consider: What is the primary duty of government?  At first, it sounds like a daunting question, but it is a question that has been answered many times by our nation’s presidents – and unvaryingly so.  Thomas Jefferson  wrote about the deontological priorites of our government, claiming, “[It is the obligation] of every government to yield protection to their citizens as the consideration for their obedience.” Ronald Reagan admitted, “Government’s first duty is to protect the people…” So, too, did George W. Bush : “I believe the most solemn duty of the American president is to protect the American people.” And so has our current president : “If the people cannot trust their government to do the job for which it exists – to protect them and to promote their common welfare – all else is lost.” So, if the safeguarding of Americans is our government’s first duty, we are confronted with a paradox: What happens when the American people elect representatives who support policies which actively undermine the protection of Americans? Lest you think that question is hypothetical, it is not; it represents what is happening in America today with gun violence. Since 9/11, more than 150,000 Americans have been killed in gun homicides alone. As Fareed Zakaria highlights , that’s equivalent to nearly three Vietnams…in a 14 year span. Pull back the curtain even further and the image
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Daily Clips: October 5th, 2015

Daily Clips: October 5th, 2015

994 mass shootings in 1,004 days: The Guardian compiled data on our nation’s gun violence epidemic and, to put it frankly, it’s deeply depressing. They define a mass shooting as having “four or more people shot in once incident” and after applying these parameters their findings reveal that a mass shooting occurs almost every day in this nation. John Oliver exposes the hypocrisy of politicians who blame shootings on the mentally ill: Believe me, this segment is worth your time. John Oliver is a genius. Hillary Clinton’s crackdown on guns would bypass Congress:  Good for Hillary. She isn’t shying away from the issues of gun control. In fact, she’s outright going to politicize the issue. Clinton would push for the following legislation if elected president, according to Jonathan Allen: 1. “Clinton would also back legislation closing the “Charleston loophole,” which federal officials say allowed the man accused of killing nine people in a South Carolina church earlier this year to obtain a gun. Under current law, a gun sale can go through if a background check isn’t completed within three days.” 2. “Clinton would support two other legislative efforts: to repeal the gun industry’s exemption from lawsuits against manufacturers — an exemption Bernie Sanders has supported — and to prevent stalkers and those convicted of abusing people they were dating from obtaining guns.” It’s interesting to consider that Clinton could use guns as an issue to make her look more progressive than Bernie Sanders. She may not have him on the economic populist language, but she could certainly surpass Sanders’ rhetoric and policies in the gun violence conversation . America needs to let go of its reverence for the bachelor’s degree:  The author, Mary Alice McCarthy, contends that “many high-school graduates must choose between two bad options: a four-year program for which they’re not academically or emotionally prepared, or job-specific training that might put a ceiling on their careers.” I certainly agree with the author’s exasperation. She laments how
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Daily Clips: October 2nd, 2015

Daily Clips: October 2nd, 2015

More Americans have died in the last year from gun violence than in the last 40 years from terrorist attacks: This statistic, right here, outlines the absurdity of our current situation: we are so fearful of “others” attacking us that we are completely forgetting that the greatest violence in our nation comes from within. In a similar vein, LOLGOP had this incredible tweet that sums up our inability to focus on what’s important: 31 cases of voter impersonation since 2000. 10,000 gun deaths in America THIS YEAR. Guess which problem the GOP is trying to fix. — LOLGOP (@LOLGOP) October 2, 2015 Why conservatives mistrust even modest efforts at gun control:  David Graham has a thoughtful article on the psychological nature of the gun control debate. He warns gun control supporters that we cannot ignore the deep levels of distrust gun owners have towards the federal government. While these feelings about the intentions of government are inherent within the American political psyche, Graham doesn’t completely absolve the gun lobby. He notes that gun lobbyists “of course” work to encourage and exploit this fear. He closes by saying, “any attempt to reform gun laws will have to grapple with this fear of government.” Nick Hanauer to tech community: Step up your social and civic engagement:  Our Supreme Troublemaker spoke at GeekWire’s summit yesterday and he touched on many subjects, including the $15 minimum wage, the civic engagement of Amazon, and the future of the gig economy. He decried the current state of wages, claiming “there is also no earthly reason why giant corporations can’t pay workers enough to participate in the economy.” Cartoon of the day:

Daily Clips: October 1st, 2015

Daily Clips: October 1st, 2015

Bernie Sanders raises $24 million, exceeding Obama’s 2008 pace:  The appetite for a politician who exclusively talks about the realities facing Americans was always strong going in to this election cycle. But even the most ardent Bernie supporter couldn’t have foreseen the excitement and firepower that Sanders’ campaign is generating. I will say that it is somewhat misleading to compare Bernie’s 2016 online haul to Obama’s 2008 effort, seeing as Facebook was nowhere near as ubiquitous. For example, in 2008 there were only 145 million monthly users on Facebook and in 2015 there were 1.5 billion . That represents a slight bump in social media use. Nonetheless, what Bernie Sanders is doing in this election is very surprising and very inspiring. Kevin McCarthy’s truthful gaffe on Benghazi: For those of you who haven’t heard, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy admitted (on live television) that the Benghazi circus was nothing but a plot to hurt Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers. How shocking. He explained: Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought. Jeb Bush is not the “smart Bush”:  I wrote about Jeb!’s most recent racist gaffe , but here is an excellent fisking of his ridiculous statement about the Redskins name. “400 families have given half the money in this election cycle so far. That’s not American democracy. That’s banana republic democracy.”  

Jeb! thinks the Washington Redskins name is A-OK

Jeb! thinks the Washington Redskins name is A-OK

Remember when Jeb! said that Republicans would have to “ lose the primary to win the general ” and that American voters are looking for an “uplifting, much more positive message?” Well, that Jeb! has well and truly gone AWOL; over the past two months, he has instead been checking off a list of racial minorities to belittle. I guess he’s found out that to win the primary in 2016, Republican voters are actually looking for racism, hatred, and a dash of white privilege. Go figure. Today, Jeb! continued this newfound strategy, arguing that the Washington Redskins should not change their name . He added, “Native American tribes generally don’t find it offensive…It’s a sport for crying out loud. It’s a football team…I’m missing something here I guess.” He was also presumably missing something when he talked about “anchor babies” and then clarified that, lest people think he was referring to Hispanics, that this term was related to “ Asian people .” Maybe he was also missing something when he insinuated that Democrats get African Americans to vote for them by offering them “ free stuff .” And he was most certainly missing something when he couldn’t tell you “ what was on the mind ” of the Charleston shooter – you know, that mass murderer who went to a historic black church and yelled, “You rape our women, and you’re taking over the country. And you have to go.” So, let’s recap. October of 2015 hasn’t even arrived and already Bush has made racist comments towards: Hispanic Americans Asian Americans Native Americans African Americans Keep utilizing that “uplifting” and “positive message,” Jeb!

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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