Breaking Points: 5/16/22 FULL UNCUT SHOW

Krystal and Saagar cover the Buffalo mass shooting, NATO expansion moving forward, Elon’s Twitter purchase, polling data on the state of the country, Netflix’s cultural change, Biden’s new slogans, economic collapse, and the electoral forecast for PA and beyond! J. Miles Coleman:…

Timestamps: Buffalo: 0:0026:42 NATO: 26:4352:47 Elon: 52:4858:45 Polling: 58:461:05:10 Netflix: 1:05:111:09:36 Saagar: 1:09:371:17:26 Krystal: 1:17:271:28:58 J. Miles Coleman: 1:28:591:38:23 Fetterman: 1:38:241:46:13

5/15 NEWSLETTER: Buffalo Shooting, NATO Expansion, Primary Elections, Twitter In Flux, & More!
Welcome to the Monday 5/16 Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar premium newsletter where all of the information used in the program is provided. First, thank you for getting us to 800K YouTube subscribers in less than one year! The march to one million continues and we hope we will get there soon! Over the weekend, we exclusively used Supercast to send out the show email after some hiccups last week. Certain functions in their email distribution service are still being patched up, so we will use MailChimp as a backup when needed. The one year anniversary of Breaking Points is coming up and we hope all of the one year subscribers reading this renew your subscription to the show! Your support has been vital to the production of this broadcast and we will continue to need it going forward. There are big expansion plans and premium features coming so stay tuned!
Now to the contents of the show…
The city of Buffalo in New York State suffered an unspeakable tragedy when a white gunman fired into a supermarket located in a black neighborhood killing 10 and wounding three others. The man was wearing body armor and livestreaming the mass slaughter on Twitch before the platform cut the feed but the footage caught most of the bloodshed. We will not include any in the show, instead here is an AP rundown of the events that took place. This is another extremely emotional and difficult story to cover in the informational, down the middle ethos of the show newsletter. The teenage gunman’s extensive manifesto made headways online and led to finger pointing on all sides trying to cast blame for a senseless act of violence. He was apprehended by law enforcement and will be charged with murder on his way to life behind bars. A notable tidbit from the AP report is that law enforcement had been aware of the gunman from previous threats he had made to carry out a shooting and he was sent to receive mental health treatment at the time. The mental health evaluation lasted a day and a half according to NPR and it appears no other actions were taken.
The mistakes from law enforcement leading up to this tragedy has become a pattern with some of the most brutal mass shootings in the US. With the Parkland, Pulse nightclub, Charleston, Virginia Tech, Texas Church, Boston Bombing, and other tragedies overlooked beforehand by the FBI and other law enforcement, the agencies will get renewed scrutiny from Krystal and Saagar. Particularly because of all the time the FBI spent orchestrating the Whitmer kidnapping plot in October 2020 that has since led to no convictions for any offenders involved. The intelligence agencies have been getting praise in mainstream press for their accuracy and braggadocio with the Russia-Ukraine war, but this provides a reminder for why scrutiny is necessary before shelling out more funding for ‘domestic terrorism’ activities.
The expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military alliance between the US, Canada, and 28 European states to include Finland and Sweden is inching closer. The governments in Sweden and Finland are officially set to apply for NATO membership after popular support for the measure spiked dramatically because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The alliance’s ‘open-door’ policy means that typically when a nation applies, admission is swift and unanimous for any European state looking to join. The only nation that remains uncertain about the expansion of NATO is Turkey, whose President Erdogan has voiced opposition to allowing the two Nordic nations to join the alliance. He cites the scandinavian nations’ support for Kurdish rebels as his main concern about them joining NATO; groups that Turkey views as terrorist organizations. He also lamented the ‘mistake’ of allowing Greece into NATO back in 1980 as a reason for hesitation, however he did not outright express desire to use veto power to block NATO expansion. Other top Turkish officials have been more open to having Sweden and Finland come into the alliance, so it is still a possibility that Turkey will not use its veto power.
This is happening at the same time as the United States continued support for Ukraine in terms of gestures and billions of dollars in military aid. Over the weekend, a delegation of Senators led by Mitch McConnell flew out to Kyiv to meet with Ukrainian President Zelensky before heading to Helsinki in a show of support for NATO expansion. The Kentucky GOP Senator called on President Biden to designate the Russians as a state sponsor of terrorism and he called the two scandinavian hopefuls “important additions” to NATO. Some have expressed concerns about provoking Russian aggression because of its long border with Finland, and the history of Russian dictators sending troops over there. Others have objected to the $40 billion aid package for Ukraine currently in Congress, most notably the other Kentucky GOP Senator Rand Paul. Like his father, Sen. Paul is a staunch libertarian who has typically fought lonely battles against hawkish US foreign policy. In this case, his primary objections have been the addition to the federal deficit and the lack of oversight on the spending that could lead to weapons smuggling and government waste. It is unclear how long Paul will be able to single-handedly hold up the bill especially as pressure from his own party mounts. Krystal and Saagar will continue to keep Breaking Points audiences updated on international affairs.
Much media coverage has been devoted towards Elon Musk buying Twitter, including in this newsletter, because of the changes he has pledged to make. Now Musk is having second thoughts, with the deal reportedly on hold because of concerns about fake accounts. He says he is still committed to the $44 billion transaction in a follow up Tweet sent out at the urging of his lawyers. Musk already signed an agreement to buy the company and has downplayed the significance of his Tweet. The shock statement came a day after Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal announced a hiring freeze at the company and now he says that he’s prepared for all possible scenarios. The challenge of spam accounts and fake accounts is not new to social media platforms, who have sought to combat these types of accounts that hurt user experience and can contribute in negative ways to political discourse. Fake accounts make it more difficult for advertisers to judge what returns they are getting for their money as well. Actions to combat the rise in spam and bot accounts by political organizations have been routinely called for, with significant blowback due to the slippery slope between suspending bot accounts and conducting online censorship on behalf of a particular cause. If Elon changes his mind on Twitter because of bot accounts, it would be a shocking twist to the tale if it comes to pass.
A new round of polling has come out in anticipation of the Pennsylvania Democratic and Republican primaries and after the latest inflation numbers. The polls also examined the role abortion could play in the midterms, with support for abortion rights reaching new highs despite little effects on the midterm outlook. Nearly two thirds of the country opposes overturning Roe v Wade and abortion has climbed up the ladder of issue rankings for voters. But the broader political environment remains about the same considering that Biden’s approval rating has dropped below 40% and three quarters of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction. The outlook is as bad as 2008 according to veteran pollsters, and the NBC story linked draws alarming parallels. In the generic ballot for who voters want controlling Congress, Democrats and Republicans are tied at 46 in the NBC poll, the same tally as the 2010 red wave for the GOP after the first two years of the Obama administration. On the issues themselves, Monmouth polling has similar results to NBC, and they track the issue priorities for voters compared to a similar time in 2018 before the Democratic wave that ensued after the first two years of the Trump administration. For more on the upcoming primaries and the midterm election outlook, check out the guest segment later in the newsletter.
The E block of the show is typically dedicated to media or fun segments and this one is no different. TV and entertainment giant Netflix has caused a stir by issuing an internal directive telling workers who are disgruntled with the content being created by the streaming service to quit if they do not like it. The concern comes from woke employees who have objected to the Dave Chappelle standup special back in October that made jokes about LGBTQ individuals and the transgender movement. After the special, employees staged a walkout to express their disapproval and pressure the company into taking it down. It was a loud but small and militant minority producing the outrage that received glowing coverage from some media outlets when the walkout took place. At the time, Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos refused to back down and continued to air the standup special from the legendary comedian. Now he is doubling down and warning against dissent from the artistic vision of the company, explaining that entertainment is a world that caters to many different types of people with many different points of view. Netflix has prepared employees to work on content they believe is ‘harmful’ for the sake of the larger organization the company likens to a ‘dream team’ rather than a family. The memo comes as the company grapples with a 200,000 loss in subscribers in the first quarter of 2022 and projects to lose 2 million more audience members in the next 4 months alone. Luxury goods such as streaming services are typically the first to be left behind when inflation and difficult economic times hit so Netflix is looking for employees to be more prudent about how the company’s money is spent to mitigate lower revenue projections. Increased competition in the streaming space from larger institutional players and souring public perception towards Netflix have also been cited as reasons for the subscription decline. It’s fair to say that Netflix is at a crossroads and the entertainment giant will be watched closely to see how it responds.
In his monologue today, Saagar looks through the new political slogans of the Biden administration they are hoping will land in the midterms elections. As everything around us appears to fall apart, the administration is looking for messaging they think could land to win back the American public. The newest talking point on inflation is the ‘Putin price hike’ that has become mainstream among Democratic leadership. President Biden used it in his speech last week and Jen Psaki used it multiple times at one of her final press briefings. It has become a common phrase for Speaker Pelosi as well, even though Americans put the Ukraine war lower on their list of causes for current inflation. The covid-19 pandemic, supply chain disruptions, corporations, and the American Rescue Plan were blamed for inflation more than the geopolitical instability brought by the Ukraine war according to NYT polling. The slogan ‘Putin price hike’ appears to be a stand-in for the geopolitical and world economic turmoil being caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the western economic sanctions in response to it.
Saagar believes that the cringeworthy nature of the slogan that dumbs down inflation and complex political events shows the administration lacks confidence in the intelligence of the American people being hit the hardest by inflation. Instead of a multifaceted inflation explanation, Biden and his team have found a convenient scapegoat that removes them from any responsibility. Another cringe slogan they have debuted is the ‘ultra MAGA’ label being applied to the Republican party by President Biden and Jen Psaki in some briefings before she departed. Apparently Biden came up with that label himself as part of a six month research effort by liberal groups to test phrases to be used against the Trump Republicans. Their internal data says that voters would be much less likely to support a self described MAGA Republican which is where the rationale for ‘ultra MAGA’ comes from. Donald Trump himself has loved the new label, and Biden has used it to describe the regressive tax plan and welfare cuts put forward by Florida GOP Sen. Rick Scott, that has been the right’s policy for a long time. Inflation is by far the most important issue to the American people, and instead of doing anything about it the Biden administration is casting blame elsewhere.
After the monologue, Krystal and Saagar discuss the mediocrity of rank and file employees within the Democratic establishment who continue to come up with poor taglines for branding that do not land with the American people.
Krystal’s monologue for today examines three stories that reflect a larger formula for collapse in the United States. The first is the baby formula shortage that has become a major political story in the past week or so. When evaluating the market factors causing the formula shortage, it comes down to the familiar combination of monopolization, government corruption, and corporate greed. She refers to the breakdown featured on The Hill’s rising in a monologue by new co-host Briahna Joy Gray where she explains how the formula market failed. One of the core promises of the economic system around globalization, free trade, and profit maximization was that shortages would never happen. They also promised that goods would be cheap and that inflation was a thing of the past, making the Phillips Curve obsolete. But now this system of unfettered capitalism has failed as the promises that came along to justify it have lost their legitimacy. Winners are not due to competition or meritocratic victories, rather by government capture, lawbreaking, consolidation, anti-competitive behavior, shareholder primacy, and other manipulative tactics. It was exemplified by the belief by investors that the baby formula shortage could boost the share price of Abbott Labs, one of the giants in question here. Baby formula is just the tip of the iceberg of American decline and economic difficulties, with Wall street’s continued buying up of homes meant for families to live in. An entire Florida community was bought out by Goldman Sachs causing local residents and leaders to sound the alarm about how investors could generate surges in values that could drive out people. Lower income individuals and seniors are also being pushed out of the renting markets because there are zero states where minimum wage is enough to cover the average month’s rent. Financialization of everything enabled permanent capital to buy up homes and invest in real estate that closes the most reliable pathway to the middle class and makes people into perpetual renters unable to build wealth. The class divide along the lines of home ownership is become more stark as the American dream falls out of people’s grasp.
The last story in Krystal’s monologue is the fall of the crypto markets that enabled some economic losers to join in the fun of financialization and build wealth on the backs of investors who arrived late to the game. Crypto came out of a nihilism about political and economic reform that said nothing could be done to fix the problems of the day, necessitating an alternative order outside the governmental or economic sphere. Like wall street, the asset kept climbing higher and higher with little regard to intrinsic value or underlying fundamentals that were important for investors in the old days. Now Crypto billionaires are getting into the political realm to shore up their fortunes as the markets collapse and investors lose it all. With everything under assault by a system that has not lived up to its promises, paths to stability look increasingly scarce.
After the monologue, Krystal and Saagar talk about how all the chaos around us is not being addressed by President Biden right now and the steps he could take with executive authority to combat the building crises right now. At a basic level, the deal promised by neoliberal capitalism has fallen apart and not come to fruition.
Krystal and Saagar are joined by elections expert J. Miles Coleman to better understand what is happening with the Pennsylvania primary elections on the Democratic and GOP sides. Senatorial candidates and Gubernatorial candidates in both parties have been in contested primaries with polling that has been tracked since the beginning of the races. Right now it appears progressive Lt. Gov John Fetterman will win in the Democratic primary against well funded moderate Rep. Conor Lamb and Trump endorsed Dr.Oz leads in the polls against a contested GOP field. In the Governor’s elections the PA AG Josh Shapiro will win the Democratic primary and it appears he will be running against Trump endorsed, Qanon curious candidate Doug Mastriano if the polling holds up on election day. The results will be covered here on Breaking Points when the votes are counted and winners declared.
MINI Block 
Pennsylvania Senatorial frontrunner on the Democratic side, Lt. Gov John Fetterman suffered a minor stroke and he is in the hospital expected to make a full recovery in the coming days. He did not suffer any cognitive damage and the doctors got his heart under control within a couple of minutes. Well wishes came to Fetterman from journalists and politicians across the political spectrum in a moment where personal support triumphed above the contested politics for a moment before the primary elections take place this week. He is expected to win the Democratic primary by a wide margin unless moods shift dramatically in the coming days.
Thank you for reading the Breaking Points newsletter for the Monday May 16th full uncut show and for making this production possible. If you have any feedback email or drop a comment on YouTube!

Categories: Media

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