Issue #379

(Daily Clips will be on hiatus until after the KCDCC reorganization, and its future will be in the hands of the new King County Democratic chair. Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to vote.)

Facebook to data-mine for your political views

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook is mining its data of user’s posts to find out how users feel about certain candidates or issues and sharing that data with ABC News and BuzzFeed for use in their 2016 reporting, the social networking site will announce on Friday. The data will be gathered from the posts of Facebook users in the United States 18 and older, classifying sentiments about a politician or issue as positive, negative, or neutral. The data can also be broken down into sentiments by gender and location, making it possible to see how Facebook users in the key primary states of Iowa or New Hampshire feel about certain presidential candidates, or how women in Florida feel about same-sex marriage. ABC News will start using the data next week as part of their 2014 Election Day coverage, and will focus on possible 2016 presidential candidates. BuzzFeed will focus on using the data around issues in ongoing stories, and will feature the data in their news app. Politico, 10-30-14.

Issue #378

Meet the hedge fund wiz kid who’s shrinking America’s pensions

Rhode Island Treasurer Gina Raimondo


When longtime private equity analyst Gina Raimondo won her bid to become treasurer of her home state in 2010, Rhode Island’s public pension system was in such disarray that federal regulators were sniffing around to make sure the state was reporting the funding levels accurately. Within two years, Raimondo (D) would push through the most significant cuts to public worker retirement benefits in the country and begin a campaign for the Governor’s mansion. The changes she masterminded in 2011 shrank the state’s pension funding gap by billions of dollars almost overnight, an achievement that would have taken years under the more moderate reforms other states have tried. But the rapid, aggressive approach came at a steep cost for the 66,000 men and women who teach, fight fires, and administer public programs in the state. Such sweeping changes would be hard for someone with years of political experience and connections. For a person holding her first-ever political office, they should have been even harder. But Raimondo didn’t do it alone. Her campaign to rewire the smallest state’s pension system got a huge, quiet boost from one of the largest states, thousands of miles away. Think Progress, 10-28-14.

Issue #377

The only way for Democrats to win

To the rescue?

As Democrats mutter privately that their Senate majority is sinking beneath the waves, their leadership has sent out an SOS. It’s all hands on deck, unless those hands belong to the President of the United States. Because only Michigan Rep. Gary Peters among Democratic candidates for the Senate wants Obama in his state campaigning, the challenge of saving the Senate has fallen to another president. I heard from a Democratic senator this week that influential Democrats are pressuring Bill Clinton to frame a closing argument for the Democrats that focuses on the economy. In his 2012 speech at the Democratic National Convention, Clinton became Obama’s “Secretary for Explaining Stuff” (although the word wasn’t stuff). This is more explicit and humiliating for the incumbent. The president and former president, who once despised each other, are cordial but far from friendly. Now Obama needs his predecessor to help prevent a solid Republican Congress from hassling him all the way to January 20, 2017. As important as the messenger is here, the message—jobs—is even more so. The Democrats’ inability to stress what voters keep telling them is their biggest concern is perplexing. I understand why the White House has trouble getting credit for improving the economy when wages are stagnant and life is still so hard for so many in the shrinking middle class.  And I get why Democratic candidates don’t want to lash themselves to the economic policies of an unpopular president. What I can’t fathom is why Democrats don’t pick low-hanging fruit—the jobs issues that poll after poll shows are much more critical to voters than ISIS, Ebola, and the Keystone pipeline, not to mention vaginal probes and whether some candidate voted for Obama. Jonathan Alter, Daily Beast, 10-24-14.

Issue #376

The blundering rise and epic fall of the Christie-Cuomo Ebola quarantine

If anything is clear from the reporting of the nurse who was quarantined in a New Jersey hospital over Ebola fears, it’s that the actual quarantine itself was handled miserably. Nurse Kaci Hickox, who returned to the U.S. via Newark airport Friday after treating Ebola patients for Doctors Without Borders in Sierra Leone, described her treatment as “a frenzy of disorganization.” She was so flustered that a forehead reading showed her with a fever—which was then used as reason to quarantine her. Later, they took her temperature again and no fever registered. She was kept in quarantine anyway. Further reported details of Hickox’s predicament made clear that, although New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo were anxious to show resolve and order the quarantine, their local health officials weren’t ready to carry out the order in any way that resembled humane treatment. Talking Points Memo, 10-27-14.

Issue #375

Should the poor be allowed to vote?

Voter ID laws are part of a hoary American tradition holding that people who aren’t economically independent can’t make reasoned political choices

If Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters succeed in booting C.Y. Leung from power, the city’s unelected chief executive should consider coming to the United States. He might fit in well in the Republican Party. In an interview last Monday with the New York Times and other foreign newspapers, Leung explained that Beijing cannot permit the direct election of Hong Kong’s leaders because doing so would empower “the people in Hong Kong who earn less than $1,800 a month.” Leung instead defended the current plan to have a committee of roughly 1,200 eminent citizens vet potential contenders because doing so, in the Times’ words, “would insulate candidates from popular pressure to create a welfare state, and would allow the city government to follow more business-friendly policies.” If that sounds vaguely familiar, it should. Leung’s views about the proper relationship between democracy and economic policy represent a more extreme version of the views supported by many in today’s GOP. New Republic, 10-22-14.