News Updates

Breaking Points: 9/19/22 FULL SHOW Ukraine war developments, Taiwan tension, Pelosi’s leadership future, issue polling, more

Krystal and Saagar cover the Ukraine war developments, Taiwan tension, Pelosi’s leadership future, issue polling, Patagonia founder’s NYT story, CNN shakeup, TikTok security concerns, & railway workers!

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Timestamps: Live Show: 0:009:18 Ukraine: 9:1935:18 Pelosi: 35:1943:28 Polling: 43:2956:18 Patagonia: 56:191:06:42 CNN: 1:06:431:13:05 Saagar: 1:13:061:23:50 Krystal: 1:23:511:34:09

9/19 NEWSLETTER: Ukraine Weapons, Pelosi Successor, Latino Voters, CNN Shakeup, & More!
Welcome to the September 19th, 2022 Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar newsletter. Thank you to everyone who came out to the live show in Atlanta on Friday. You were an electric crowd and the show was a super fun experience for all of us. Please send any comments about the live show to so we can make the next one even better.
On that note, Chicago live show tickets are now available to the general public. If you did not purchase tickets during the presale period, here is a link to get yours: Other live show dates will be announced soon so stay tuned! If you are a lifetime member, we will refund your ticket purchases through Supercast if you email the receipt.
Another major milestone for BP this weekend was the launch of Counterpoints with Ryan Grim and Emily Jashinsky. It has been delightful to see all of the encouragement from you about the new show. Their weekly program represents the biggest expansion of the Breaking Points extended network to date and it would not have been possible without your support.
With the possibility of escalation in Ukraine looming, President Biden was asked about how America would respond to Putin using a nuclear weapon. A reckless question, Biden snapped back at the host that he could not give the answer. He is trying to avoid provocation with Russia because of fears Putin will escalate to compensate for recent losses in the Donbas region. This fear has led to resistance from the Biden administration to new Ukrainian demands for powerful weaponry. The Ukrainian forces are seeking to capitalize on the recent momentum generated by their successful counteroffensive that was somewhat tempered due to Russian gains over the weekend. Vladimir Putin downplayed the success of Ukraine’s counteroffensive and warned of escalation in a speech on Friday. He reiterated his belief that the west is plotting to break Russia apart in his speech delivered in Uzbekistan. Additionally, Putin stated Moscow is prepared for a long conflict and its goals are unchanged. At the same summit, Putin was publicly rebuked by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Modi told Putin “today’s era is not an era of war” and Putin responded by acknowledging his concerns and those laid out by Xi. The criticism marks the most significant break to date between Russia and the two largest global economies not to sanction them. Neither Xi nor Modi voiced support for Kyiv or indicated that they would scale back purchases of Russian oil. China and India’s discounted Russian oil has bolstered Putin’s wartime economy and softened the effects of global inflation. India in particular has tried to stay neutral in the conflict and stay in a position of ambiguity. His speech symbolizes to the west that he has not taken Putin’s side despite the economic decisions he has made. China’s stance reflects the country’s hesitation to further bolster the Russian war effort amid western sanctions and growing tensions with Taiwan. When asked about Taiwan, President Biden did not hesitate to say American forces would be sent to defend the island. The White House told CBS that their policy around Taiwan has not changed, but practically speaking the US policy of strategic ambiguity is dead.
Powerful House Democrats are jockeying for leadership positions in anticipation of a Republican take over and a party shakeup. All three of Democrats’ top house leaders are over 80 years old and have held powerful party posts for decades. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, & House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn could soon be octogenarians serving in the minority of a party trying to figure out next steps. Pelosi has not expressed her future plans if the party loses the house, which would generate overwhelming pressure to push her out of leadership. In a scenario where Pelosi is no longer in leadership, Hoyer and Clyburn would likely follow her lead, though the two have kept options open. Any announcement from Pelosi would turn her into a lame duck with far less fundraising prowess and control over her party. House Democrats clamoring for generational change range from vulnerable moderates to progressives seeking more power within the party. They believe Pelosi has been a successful speaker for the party and Congress’s recent accomplishments should mark the end of her career. The top prospects to succeed Pelosi include Brooklyn congressman Hakeem Jeffries and California Rep. Adam Schiff. Both have traveled across the country to fundraise and support moderate party members in contested house races. No women have emerged in the leadership contest, much to the chagrin of some in the party. It would be surprising to see a generational shift in Democratic leadership happen without squabbles about diversity or ideological battles between various party factions.
New issue polling among registered nhas come out from NBC news with some noteworthy results. Republicans continue to outperform Democrats on issues of border security, the economy, crime, and cost of living. Democrats are favored on abortion, healthcare, protecting democracy and education. Surprisingly, Republicans lead on ‘protecting rights’ and it is unclear what NBC meant by the phrase. The data puts Biden’s approval rating three points higher than last month and it has an even congressional ballot. It has independents voting for the GOP at a higher rate and it shows the different demographic groups each party is strong with. Republicans are doing well with whites and men, particularly non college educated whites. Latino voters are split and Democrats are performing strongly with blacks, college educated whites, and women. The position of latino voters as a swing demographic has thrust them into the national spotlight. Democrats appear to be holding the latino vote despite the shift of latinos towards the Republican party that was pronounced in the 2020 election. On the economy and law enforcement, Republicans have been gaining ground with latinos particularly in Texas, Nevada, and Florida. How their vote turns out could shape American politics for years to come.
Outdoor clothing company Patagonia has long been marketing itself as a progressive corporation. Now, the founder of the company Yvon Chouinard is giving his shares of it away towards philanthropic causes. The reluctant billionaire received glowing praise from The New York Times for his decision to put his wealth towards climate change organizations. However, the move appears to be a massive $700 million tax write off that enables his family to keep control of Patagonia. Chouinard will be exempt from taxes on capital gains, estate, and gifts while making sure the company’s profits are directed to philanthropic causes after everyone gets paid. Some have pointed out in previous interviews that Chouinard has been a staunch critic of capitalism and expressed anger towards companies avoiding paying their fair share taxes. His brand has been one of an accidental billionaire, despite the high prices of Patagonia’s products and its image as a luxury good. The arrangement he announced to hagiographic treatment in the NYT is the same one used by right wing manufacturing mogul Barre Seid who gave his fortune to a conservative non profit. In their coverage of Seid, the New York Times portrayed the move as a case of right wing dark money going to shady philanthropic causes. Due to the size of Patagonia, Chouinard’s tax break will be even larger than Seid’s, and Patagonia’s business will continue as usual.
More changes are happening at CNN after they announced a new morning show featuring Don Lemon, Kaitlan Collins, and Poppy Harlow. The show will replace “New Day” and marks a major programming shift to the network’s daily lineup. CNN boss Chris Licht is making his mark on the network’s programming in an effort to rebrand the network away from liberal partisanship and revive its falling ratings. Lemon’s primetime show will be canceled after eight years and low ratings compared to his competition. He has made a name for himself as a reliable stenographer for the Democratic party and a strong believer in identity politics. The CNN host denied that he was demoted from primetime and his political perspective will not be changed by the move. Harlow will be moving from her 9-11am slot and Collins will be receiving a promotion from White House correspondent to co-anchor. CNN’s morning revamp is another example of how cable news media is becoming less centered around prime time hosts as its audiences get older. It will undoubtedly garner criticism from histrionic critics opposed to the network’s efforts at bipartisanship. Licht’s incremental shifts of the network will continue to shake up the media world. The name, format, and set for the program has yet to be determined.
In his monologue, Saagar returns to his argument for banning TikTok because of national security concerns. Joe Biden recently signed the CHIPS act into law, designed to generate investments in the semiconductor industry here in America. It did not include enough provisions to prevent Chinese money from going into US supply chains leading to some supportive GOP senators to vote against the bill. But the Biden team noticed the problem and crafted an executive order to solve the problem. The administration beefed up the Committee on Foreign Investments In the United States known as CIFUS; mandated to block foreign investment in companies with direct ties to national security. It is a tool that has been greatly limited by corporate pressure but now CIFUS can review deals in US markets involving American data. The new direction comes as the Biden administration weighs a ban on TikTok or to have the company sold to a US corporation. These initiatives were discussed during the Trump administration and for various reasons he failed to get them done.
In China, there is no such thing as a purely private company. Data held by TikTok parent company Bytedance belongs to the Chinese government and clear evidence has refuted TikTok’s claims otherwise. One of the most used and downloaded apps by US teenagers is controlled by a foreign adversary. Leaked audio proves how in control Bytedance is of TikTok’s daily operations, something the company lied to congress about during testimony in 2019. A new profile of their CEO, a Singaporean, shows how the company uses executives as a smokescreen to conceal its level of control by China. He does not run anything at TikTok and decisions are made by the multi-billionaire founder of the company. Its critical research and development team reports directly to Beijing without any involvement of the CEO. When TikTok’c Chief Operating Officer testified to congress, she did not say if the company would cut off supplying metadata to China. A separate news aggregator owned by Bytedance was taken down because the CCP said it was causing too much social disruption. It’s simple, the company claims they are owned by China but not outright controlled by China. The situation shows why TikTok must be banned or needs a forced sale to continue operating in the United States.
After the monologue, Krystal and Saagar outline solutions to the national security problems posed by TikTok and how to fix it without killing the company. If Russia was in place of China, the mainstream media would care much more about the control of the company by a foreign government. It gets to the problem of large tech companies with the size and power of nation states. They have access to attention and control minds in a way governments will have to reckon with in new ways. Unlike TikTok, big tech firms are doing this entirely for profit and the US government can have some control over it.
In her monologue, Krystal delivers an update on the railway workers who received national attention last week. A last minute deal between unions and bosses brokered by the Biden administration kept the railroads flowing and Biden responded triumphantly. The media declared the crisis to be over and Biden declared the mission accomplished on 60 minutes. Since the victory lap, the details of the deal have remained hidden and rail workers do not know what is in the agreement. They will have to ratify or reject the deal and still do not have the details. Workers had momentum and were confident in their demands and now they have doubts. The paid days off are much less than workers demanded and healthcare provisions remain murky. One locomotive engineer voiced dissatisfaction to the Washington Post and another posted on Facebook about the deal being insufficient. Workers have shared stories of being penalized for taking days off for the birth of their child, taking care of their kid, or being too sick to work. These are major safety issues with real world consequences for the workers and the economy as a whole.  Bottom line, the media and political class has already forgotten about these workers even though their fight is far from over. After the cooling off period caused by the deal, we might arrive in the same place where neither workers nor bosses will back down as a deadline approaches. Bosses will be open to shutting down the entire economy to get their way and prevent workers from getting more protections. The insanity of having a critical piece of national infrastructure for commuters, farmers, businesses, and everyone else subject to the whims of a few business executives. These companies do not care about their workers or the supply chains necessary for everything from crops getting to market to water treatment facilities getting the chemicals they need. Railroad companies care only about profit and give themselves stock buybacks instead of investing in their workers. The impact a national rail strike could have on the economy and supply chains is a valid concern for people to have. In the big picture, railroad workers are trying to save the supply chain from the same corporate greed that has wrecked so much of the American economy. The next steps are to continue supporting the rail workers and prevent railway bosses from being able to hold the entire economy hostage in the future.
After the monologue, Krystal and Saagar emphasize the gap between the media coverage of the tentative deal and how workers have reacted to it. Only one day off would be much less than what the workers were asking for and it could be rejected by members in the same way Biden’s PEB proposal was. The media bought the president’s line and corporate line because they hardly covered the story from the beginning. If at least one of the unions rejects the deal, it could generate a domino effect because of solidarity between workers.
Thank you for reading the Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar newsletter. Make sure to send your feedback and get your Chicago tickets! The next full show will be tomorrow so be on the lookout!

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