Daily Clips: July 29th, 2016


HOW PROGRESSIVE WAS HILLARY CLINTON’S ACCEPTANCE SPEECH? I was impressed with Hillary’s speech last night. Sure, there was some empty rhetoric, but for the most part I thought it was a very inspiring speech that was littered with progressive policy choices. Perhaps one of Clinton’s most powerful lines used themes Nick Hanauer has outlined in his “parasite economy” argument: “It’s wrong to take tax breaks with one hand and give out pink slips with the other.”





Perhaps the least emphasized fact of this presidential election is that whoever wins, American foreign policy is going to get more belligerent, more inclined to the use of military force to solve problems, less accepting of the limits of American power to resolve conflicts.



Daily Clips: July 28th, 2016

THE FUTURE OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Imagine how different last night would’ve been if Clinton had got the nomination instead of Obama. It’s quite a thought experiment. The Democratic Party would be far different, in my opinion and Dylan Matthew’s. Here’s the latter’s take:

The sequence was supposed to go in reverse. Clinton would get the nomination after Obama put up a respectable showing. She might pick him as a running mate, or pick a fairly boring, well-qualified white dude like Biden or Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland or Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh or former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, who would then run against a more seasoned Obama in the 2016 primary.

That would have resulted in a very different Democratic Party in 2016. It would be a party inextricably, personally linked to the Clinton family, whose only qualified public servants and potential Cabinet appointees are people personally loyal to the Clintons. It would be a considerably more militarily hawkish party.

BARACK OBAMA’S SPEECH: You must watch this seminal piece of public speaking.


Those voters haven’t been the party’s center for years: except for Bill Clinton in 1996, no Democrat has won more than 40 percent of white voters without a college education since 1980, according to media exit polls. On a national basis, Democrats have largely replaced them with increased support from Millennials, minorities, and college-educated whites—while running just enough above their national numbers among working-class whites in the key Midwestern battlegrounds to retain the advantage in those pivotal states.


Donald Trump Is Right, for Once—Let’s Raise the Minimum Wage

The Washington Post did the world a favor when it made its Trump Hat generator.

This morning’s press conference was full of what you’d expect from Donald Trump Trump: a few points where he seemed scarily misinformed (he called John Hinkley Jr. “David Hinkley” and he seemed to confuse Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine with former New Jersey governor Tom Kean, a republican) and one point where he seemed to violate the law (when he called for Russia, “if you are listening,” to hack into Hillary Clinton’s email server. That last bit, naturally, got all the press—we have never before seen a presidential candidate publicly beg a foreign power to commit an act of espionage against the United States, so it’s big news. (As Ezra Klein argues convincingly at Vox, Trump has long since blown past any standards of normalcy or decency.)

But Trump also made news in another way this morning; in fact, if he hadn’t made history with his incredibly irresponsible Russia comments, perhaps he’d be leading the headlines with some good news for a change: he endorsed a $10 minimum wage. As CNN reports, Trump originally told Bill O’Reilly last night on Fox News that “You need to help people. I know it’s not very Republican to say.” When O’Reilly asked to what level he’d raise the minimum wage, Trump finally settled on ten: “’I would say 10. I would say 10,’ Trump agreed.” And at this morning’s press conference, he doubled down: “Trump said once again that the federal minimum wage should be raised to ‘at least $10’ but that ‘states should really call the shots.’”

Let’s be clear that the above quote makes no sense. You can’t raise the minimum wage to at least $10 and then vaguely insinuate that states could make the minimum wage lower than $10, because that flies in the face of what a federal minimum wage is. And in the recent past, Trump has also argued against having a federal minimum wage at all. As recently as November, he argued that American wages are too high and we have to leave the minimum wage “where it is” in order to compete with the world. So it must be said that he’s been wrong every step of the way on the minimum wage until now, and he could very easily be wrong on it again tomorrow.But let’s appreciate the fact that somehow, in the same press conference where he made one of the worst mistakes of his entire political career, Donald Trump actually acknowledged something good and useful: that the minimum wage has to go up. The last increase — from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour — happened way back in 2007. (Of course, Trump has the amount wrong. A $10 minimum wage would still be lower than when the minimum wage was at its peak in 1968, when adjusted for inflation.)

This is a significant moment in the fight for the $15 minimum wage: for the first time in at least 9 years, both political parties agree that the minimum wage needs to be substantially increased. The leader of the Republican Party has called for a federal minimum wage increase — and not a piddly quarter or two; he’s demanded “at least” an increase of $2.75. This is the first time this has happened since George W. Bush—Mitt Romney was against raising the wage when he was a presidential candidate in 2008 and 2012, though he now says Republicans are “nuts not to raise the minimum wage.”

Speaker Paul Ryan voted against raising the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour back in 2007. In fact, he’s voted against raising the wage at least ten times. Every Republican running for president in 2016 except for Rick Santorum opposed raising the minimum wage. Hell, Jeb Bush called to eliminate the federal minimum wage altogether, which is not an unusual position for someone in the Republican Party to hold nowadays.

In the last 24 hours, Trump changed the national conversation on the minimum wage. Raising the wage is no longer in question; the only question now is how high it should go. The prevailing $15 figure — the one approved by Seattle and California and New York and many other locations nationwide — isn’t even as high as the minimum wage would be right now had it been tied to productivity. Back in 2013, John Schmitt argued that if it had kept pace with productivity since 1968, “the minimum wage today would arguably be about $22 per hour,” and “if we use a more conservative measure of productivity growth suggested by my colleague Dean Baker, the minimum wage today would still be about $16 per hour.” In short, Republicans would be getting a bargain if they agreed to a $15 federal minimum wage.

Let’s be clear: Trump finally being right on the minimum wage does not make him a more credible candidate, or even a slightly more favorable candidate. His erratic behavior and hateful rhetoric disqualify him from the presidency. But despite all his disgusting positions and nonexistent policies, Trump is more reasonable than the rest of his party when it comes to the minimum wage. If I were Paul Ryan or Jeb Bush or some other high-profile Republican, I would take that fact and sit with it for a while.

Daily Clips: July 27th, 2016

HILLARY CLINTON BECOMES THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE FOR POTUS: An incredible moment in American history took place yesterday afternoon. Although our country is often embarrassing, we should be proud of this achievement.


TRUMP ASKS PUTIN TO HELP HIM WIN ELECTION: The Don is clearly trying to grab the media’s attention during the DNC. And it’s working, as per usual.



It’s ironic that, in politics and other male-dominated public spheres, one of the roadblocks for women is objectification and sexualization, but when it comes to Hillary Clinton, whose ambition and brains have long rendered her bloodless in the American imagination, hearing her described as an object of desire could feel corrective and bizarrely just.

A Good Start: REI Announces Employee Pay Raise of Five to Fifteen Percent

Is it already time to glue this thing back together? Not so fast!

Is it already time to glue this thing back together? Not so fast!

Last week, I told you I was cutting up my REI card because the giant retailer wasn’t supporting its retail employees with adequate pay and humane scheduling practices. Yesterday, Daniel DeMay at the Seattle P-I had some good news:

In an announcement said to be shared with employees Sunday, REI announced pay hikes for employees at stores in Seattle, Portland, Boston, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco and Washington D.C., the company said in a statement. Stores will see between “pay investments” between 5 and 15 percent…In Sunday’s announcement, REI also said it planned to announce an update to scheduling in October of this year.

This is obviously good news. But does it mean I’m becoming an REI member again? Nope. At least, not yet. I want to make sure the retail employees have an opportunity to freely discuss unionization, because that’s the easiest way to make sure employees have a voice in the negotiation for wages and humane scheduling practices.

Also, I’m very curious to hear about REI’s “update to scheduling.” Lots of large chains have made big promises, but few have succeeded. Starbucks, most notably, announced that it was going to improve “stability and consistency” by getting rid of clopening shifts back in 2014. Individual stores are still failing to meet that standard. A little over a year after the New York Times announced the new Starbucks scheduling initiative, the New York Times published a story headlines “Starbucks Falls Short After Pledging Better Labor Practices.”

These corporate edicts, while often made with the best of intentions, frequently fail when they’re put to the test around the country, because there are simply no repercussions for violating company policy. This is why we need laws: they reinforce our values and make it possible for employees to defend their rights. By passing a secure scheduling law in Seattle, we would be making a statement that we do not reward exploitative and/or demeaning employment practices.

But when will I know it’s okay to return to REI as a customer, if ever? When the employees say so. I don’t believe an employer who tells me their employees are happy. I don’t believe news reports quoting happy employees, because those are often coordinated with employers. REI workers sounded the alarm bells; they’re the only ones who can sound the all-clear.

Daily Clips: July 26th, 2016

WHY THE NEWS SEEMS SO DIRE: There is a difference between feeling safe and being safe, and the media understands this all too well. They manipulate our primal minds to make us feel like the world is spinning out of control, because that’s best for their ratings.

As the futurist Ray Kurzweil put it, it’s not that violence is getting so much more common in the U.S., but rather that the information about it is more accurate.

DAVID BROOKS CANNOT SELF-REFLECT: With no irony at all, David Brooks lectures Clinton on her candidacy, telling her: “You’re going to have to show you understand the way members of your class have slighted people who are less educated and less cosmopolitan.”

This coming from a New York elite who didn’t see Trump coming and couldn’t understand why people were so angry at the state of politics…less than six months ago. And he has the self-righteousness to lecture Clinton. Good grief.

MICHELLE OBAMA’S DNC SPEECH TRANSCRIPT: Truly beautiful piece of work. She delivered it with excellent pacing and emotion, as well.



Damn You, $15 an Hour Minimum Wage!

Seattle Food Service Employment

Courtesy of friend of the blog, Invictus.

Anybody who actually lives, works, or eats in Seattle knows firsthand that our local restaurant industry is booming. But for those of you on a raw data diet, the Federal Reserve of St. Louis serves up the above bland-if-nourishing graph that confirms the intuition of our eyes and tastebuds: Seattle’s restaurant industry is booming. In fact, despite the doom and gloom predictions of minimum wage opponents, food service industry employment in the greater Seattle metropolitan area has actually accelerated since adopting our phased in $15 ordinance.

Damn you, $15 an hour minimum wage!

Of course, the graph above represents all of King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties, so what about Seattle proper? That’s not as easily discernible from the Fed data, but as Paul pointed out last week, a new report from the University of Washington finds wages, jobs, and hours up for Seattle’s low-wage workers over the first year of phase-in, without any observable negative impact on businesses:

The data are coming in, and they prove that contrary to the empty threats we’ve been hearing from conservatives, the sky has not fallen. Our job market is strong. Our workers are working more hours and making more money, which they are then spending locally, which allows employers to hire more people to meet with increased demand. Seattle’s march to the $15 minimum wage is right on track.

Yeah, I know, it’ll take years to tease out the full impact of the $15 ordinance, and even the analysis will be somewhat speculative and subjective. But so far, predictions of job losses remain theoretical while workers’ wage gains are very, very real.

Daily Clips: July 25th, 2016



In fact, polling during the conventions is even less likely to be predictive of the final outcome of the election than polling at both earlier and later times of the year, says Princeton election guru Sam Wang.

DAY 1 OF DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION: Bernie Sanders will take the stage tonight and “get one last chance to push his agenda in front of an audience of millions.” And oh yeah, he’ll also endorse Hillary Clinton.

HOW ROUSSEAU PREDICTED TRUMP: The political philosopher, Rousseau, was an anti-elitist and many of his warnings about concentration of power are coming true today. His take on human nature is…honest and runs against liberalism’s reliance on the individual:

Rousseau refused to believe that the interplay of individual interests, meant to advance the new civilization, could produce any natural harmony. The obstacle, as he defined it, existed in the souls of sociable men or wannabe bourgeois: it was the insatiable craving to secure recognition for one’s person from others, which leads ‘each individual to make more of himself than of any other.’