Krystal and Saagar discuss the GOP infighting about the midterms, polling data on the 2022 midterms, Ukraine killing a Putin ally, affidavit for Trump-FBI raid, Brian Stelter getting fired, US aid to Ukraine, Woodstock ’99, & more! Merch: https://breaking-points.myshopify.com/ Tickets: https://www.ticketmaster.com/event/0E… Timestamps: GOP: 0:00 – 26:35 Midterms: 26:36 – 42:10 Dugin: 42:11 – 59:36 Trump: 59:37 – 1:07:28 Stelter: 1:07:29 – 1:18:08 Saagar: 1:18:09 – 1:29:06 Krystal: 1:29:07 – 1:40:15 Adam Weinstein: 1:40:16 – 1:42:48
8/22 NEWSLETTER: GOP Infighting, Midterm Polls, Ukraine War, Trump Affidavit, Stelter Fired, & More!
Welcome to the August 22nd, 2022 edition of the Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar premium newsletter. The live show is less than a month away, so make sure to get your tickets here: https://www.ticketmaster.com/event/0E005CD6DBFF6D47. If you would like to buy a bundle of tickets please email email@example.com.
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The Republican Party is battling publicly over a midterm red wave not coming to fruition. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blamed candidate quality for the chance Republicans do not win control of the senate. He downplayed the chances of the GOP taking back control of the senate and remains optimistic about Republicans winning back the house. The party’s candidates in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Arizona, and Georgia senate contests have been underperforming relative to the national political landscape. Some of these candidates were not McConnell’s preferred option and each of them was endorsed by Donald Trump. In a 50-50 Senate, the GOP needs a net gain of just one seat to take back control from Democrats and thwart President Biden. Nate Silver’s Fivethirtyeight projection gives Democrats an edge in winning the Senate based on simulations and available figures. Silver writes that Republicans still have an opportunity to pick up the Georgia seat held by Sen. Warnock. In each of the contested senate campaigns, Democratic candidates hold substantial fundraising advantages to their GOP counterparts. The lack of funds for some GOP candidates including the Arizona firebrand Blake Masters has led him to change his tune on McConnell’s leadership. He has vowed to find a way to work with McConnell and hopes the GOP leader will provide financial support for his campaign. Masters is running in a hyper competitive swing seat against first term incumbent Mark Kelly who is leading in the polls. Republicans have also been criticizing the National Republican Senatorial Committee for how it has spent its money. A cash crunch at the GOP’s senate campaign arm comes at a time where Democrats are dominating fundraising and advertising and millions of dollars have vanished from the committee. Calls for an audit or investigation are growing, with fingers being pointed at Chairman Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL). Questionable expenses from the committee include $12 million on American Express credit cards, $13 million for consultants, and $9 million on debt.
A Republican having no trouble fundraising has been former President Donald Trump. He has built up a war chest ahead of his 2024 announcement that may be delayed until after the midterms. Reports had surfaced about the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago raid making it more likely Trump would announce before the midterms, but he does not want to be blamed if the GOP underperforms in November. Over the weekend, Trump blasted Mitch McConnell for questioning the GOP’s chances for a successful midterm election season. The struggling GOP candidates McConnell was referring to were all endorsed by Trump in their respective primaries. Additionally, harsh words for McConnell came from Sean Hannity at Fox News, who called for his leadership tenure to end. His Fox colleague Tucker Carlson sounded the alarm about the midterm elections and the GOP underperforming. Time will tell if Republicans can respond to the warning signs.
A new poll from NBC offers more clarity into the midterm outlook towards the end of August. The picture is decidedly mixed, with President Biden’s approval rating going up to 42% and 57% supporting the investigations of Donald Trump. But the GOP leads Dems 47%-45% on the generic congressional ballot, and 74% of voters saying the country is headed in the wrong direction. Democrats are basically tied with Republicans on voter enthusiasm in large part caused by SCOTUS overturning Roe v. Wade. At one point, Republicans were more enthusiastic about voting in the midterms by 17 points. Women are particularly motivated to vote in states where Republican legislatures could enact abortion restrictions, especially swing states. America is evenly split on whether Trump is responsible for the Capitol riot and now considers threats to democracy as the top issue. Cost of living, the economy, immigration, and climate round out the top five. If you combine the two top economic issues, it is clearly the top problem. The category of threats to democracy lacks in specifics and could have very different meanings across the political spectrum. Biden’s job approval did not improve from July despite his legislative victories, and 42% of Americans believe the Manchin-Schumer deal is a good idea. Images of both parties in the minds of voters remain strongly negative, with Joe Biden carrying higher positive ratings than Trump. Nonetheless, voters are sending clear signals of opposition to Biden that are dragging the Democratic party down.
The daughter of Russian philosopher Alexander Dugin– known as Putin’s brain– was killed in a suspected car bombing outside Moscow. The intended target of the attack is assumed to be her father because of his support for Vladimir Putin and ultranationalist views. He had been at a festival outside of Moscow with his daughter where he gave a lecture. Dugin was scheduled to leave in the same car as his daughter before making a last minute decision to travel separately. Ukrainian officials denied involvement in the explosion because they are not a ‘criminal state’ like the Russian Federation. A Russian spokeswoman stated that if Ukraine was involved it would amount to state terrorism. The killing could become a flash point in the Ukraine war that has carried on for six months with no end in sight. Dugin and his daughter had been sanctioned by the United States for their support of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The Russians have opened a murder investigation and claim the crime was pre planned based on evidence from the blast. Meanwhile, the US has approved Ukraine’s strikes of Russian occupied Crimea that marked the beginning of Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the Southern part of their country. US officials stated that Crimea is Ukraine and pursuing targets on Ukrainian soil is an act of self defense. This differs from America’s caution to not strike the Russians inside Russian borders out of fears such an escalation could lead to world war. The Ukrainians have said more explosions in Crimea could come over the next few months as a bitter fight for the Southern city of Kherson ensues.
After much pressure, the Florida judge who signed off the search warrant for the FBI’s raid of Donald Trump’s compound may release the affidavit that preceded the warrant. The key court documents would be released with necessary retractions to prevent witnesses and federal agents from being the targets of extremist violence. It could also contain top secret classified information on US national security matters. The affidavit lays out the probable cause in a criminal case by having witnesses testify to a potential crime; laying out the case for prosecution. The DOJ previously asked to keep the document sealed because releasing it could jeopardize their criminal investigation of Trump for potentially violating the espionage act. Donald Trump and Republicans in congress believe the entire affidavit should be released unredacted for the sake of transparency. Judge Bruce Reinhart will have a hearing with the government to review the parts they believe should be redacted and if he disagrees with their recommendations he can make the final decision. Trump believes the judge should be recused from the case for a reason he did not articulate. He could have been referring to Reinhart’s documented ties to serial sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein. If the affidavit is not released in full, Trump and his backers will likely make claims about important details being hidden from the public. However, releasing the document in full could expose exchanges about sensitive intel made by Trump to unauthorized parties. It could even shine more light on the DOJ’s efforts to receive sensitive materials from Trump before they resorted to raiding his Florida compound. These potential political risks from releasing the full affidavit have not stopped Trump’s supporters from calling for it. What’s less clear is how the American public will respond, especially because a sizable majority supports the investigation into how Trump mishandled documents.
CNN anchor Brian Stelter will be leaving the network after new leadership canceled his Reliable Sources news show. Chairman Chris Licht is retooling the network’s programming in an effort to make it less partisan, leading to partisan news anchors like Stelter being fired. His final broadcast took place Sunday, with Stelter celebrating his show as he signed off for the last time. The career Stelter built on CNN being a leading Democratic party narrative enforcer made him the subject of frequent ridicule online. Ratings for his show were consistently lower than his competitors and even went up when he was on vacation in May. Stelter might not be the last casualty of CNN’s makeover based on comments made by Licht on Friday. He asserted that more changes will be made even if staffers do not like or understand the decisions. The network is facing continued declines in ratings since the end of the Trump presidency combined with projections of declining profits. Leadership has been cutting back on expenses and is looking to recover from a slew of scandals that have harmed CNN’s reputation.
In his monologue today, Saagar revisits the topic of American military aid to Ukraine compared to our European allies. The war in Ukraine has lasted six months and much of the policy agenda instituted at the beginning of the conflict was never debated. Pulling the ripcord on the global oil markets, the goal in Ukraine, weapons shipments, and more were carried out no questions asked. Anyone who questioned the consensus was smeared as a Russian apologist. The west declared they all must stand up to Putin to prevent him from going further to NATO territory and stop authoritarian countries from revanchist aims. Much was made of the transatlantic alliances between the US, UK, France, Germany, and the rest of the continent. The pledge was made by the so-called united west to take action against Russia. There is a problem though, a sign of the deeper rot of NATO, and that is the lack of military aid to Ukraine from European countries. In July, Russia brought in record oil profits and won a military campaign in the Donbas. America passed billions in military aid to Ukraine to assist their southern counteroffensive they are launching. European nations combined sent Ukraine did not send one Euro of bilateral military aid the entire month. The UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and Poland all have far more to lose from a war with Russia and have fought wars against Russia for thousands of years. As shocking as that figure is, the absolute aid is even more striking. To date, the United States has provided Ukraine with 25 billion euros and no other country has given a fifth of that total. The only other close figure is the 4 billion from the UK and after that comes EU institutions. Germany is the world’s fourth largest economy and has given a paltry 1.2 billion. France is the 7th largest economy on earth, second largest in Europe, and they have sent .23 billion euros. The so-called powers in Europe know that they do not have to do anything and America will continue to fit the bill. The Department of Defense announced $775 million more in military aid to mark six months of the war in a routine resupply that outstrips entire European nations in total support. The United States is simply getting ripped off by its allies. They talk a big game and come to all the conferences but when the bill comes due, America will pay it.
The supplies of Javelin missiles and stinger missiles have been greatly reduced and will take years to recuperate. We have interests in Asia who might need those missiles and now will have to wait. If China were to invade Taiwan tomorrow, the US would have to choose between supporting them and America’s defense readiness. These are all questions people in power do not want to ask because of the genuine outrage they would bring. The balance of power in Europe is nowhere near what is fair, even with the US being a superpower. Additionally, it feeds the proxy war narrative between the US and Russia. In geopolitics, the question should be about what is best for us, and underwriting a conflict like this for years might not be the best idea. Exporting billions of dollars in a conflict that is not in the US’ long term interest and makes America less safe has happened twice in recent history, and we have not learned our lesson.
After the monologue, Krystal and Saagar discuss the gap between rhetoric and reality about the united west. In one day the United States outspent France and the Europeans have pushed much more for diplomacy than the US or UK. It proves that the Ukraine conflict is a direct proxy war and all the rhetoric about the west is window dressing for US defense contractors and hawks in the government. They have foolishly fantasized about getting rid of Putin and the media has been completely negligent in asking questions about American policy. We are reducing our own military stock that we do not have the chips to rebuild anytime soon. The proxy war policy is unusual because we are pretending to be hands off and we are giving Ukraine a blank check instead of doing what is best for US interests. The extent to which America is being taken for a ride is unbelievable and European countries are happy to sit back and let America take the lead.
In her monologue, Krystal hones in on Woodstock 99 as part of America’s larger cultural decay. The Netflix documentary film about Woodstock 99 depicts the Millennial reincarnation of the original festival that says much about the rot of American society. The most obvious thing to say is that Woodstock 99 was ruined by greed. In 1969, the Woodstock organizers hoped to turn a profit but that was not the main goal. They maximized performance quality by building out the stage over building out the fence to stop free concertgoers. The same visionary was running the show in 99, but this time he was looking to cash in. The leadership cut corners on location, food, sanitation, and everything else. It created an experience that was miserable, disgusting, and dangerous for the attendees. In 1969, concertgoers made the most out of the rain by sliding in mud. In 1999, they played in what they thought was mud but this time it was the result of overflowing porta potties creating shit rivers. The feces contaminated the water supply and caused those who drank the water or showered to be hit with a WWI era illness. Heat exhaustion and other injuries overwhelmed paramedics while drunk and dehydrated concert goers were hit with $12 bottles of water. The festival attendees were united by a desire for hedonism and debauchery rather than the peace and love of counterculture. The whole scene was a combination of girls gone wild meets entitled frat culture and culminated with women being raped in broad daylight. One reason why the concertgoers suffered all the way to the end was the promise of a big surprise to cap things off. It ended up being a candlelight vigil to end gun violence. A perfect example of corporate liberal virtue signaling to cap off a time of shit rivers, dehydration, sexual assault, and price gouging. The crowd ended up expressing their rage by taking the candles they were given and setting fire to the festival.
In 1969, the spirit was about community compared to the radical individualism in 1999. The years that followed 1969 hollowed out the ethos and left a caricature to be sold back as a consumer good. The universalist, community spirit was sold out to scrap for neoliberalism and the billionaire class. Unions died, wages slipped, greed became good, and it took a toll on creativity. The original headliners for Woodstock are still icons and the artists in 1999 have been forgotten. A rerun of a classic event echoes the cultural repetition of today and it marks how solely committing to money can lead to nothing but a sick wasteland.
After the monologue, Krystal and Saagar talk about the documentary and how the coverage of the Woodstock 99 at the time was a dud. It displays the worst of human nature and the decline of US culture that has only continued today. The last mass culture America has was around the time of Woodstock 99 and since the rise of the internet, the separation has become even greater. A collapse of creativity has afflicted the business world as well, shown by tech platforms racing to copy each other. Everything is a cycle of everyone getting theirs in a cycle of a gamed system far beyond the Woodstock festival of 1999.
The guest segment scheduled for today will air tomorrow due to a travel issue the guest had. Thank you for reading the latest Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar newsletter. Please send feedback and make sure to buy live show tickets. The next broadcast will be tomorrow so stay tuned!
Categories: News Updates