Krystal and Saagar bring the news about Russia striking Ukraine, Crimea bridge explosion, Biden’s warning, Trump’s call for diplomacy, Biden’s weed policies, Uvalde firing police officers, Assange vs Bolton, Starbucks CEO, TV revolution, & midterm ad spending!
Kyle Kondik: https://centerforpolitics.org/crystal… https://www.ohioswallow.com/book/The+…
Timestamps: Russia: 0:00 – 34:03 Diplomacy: 34:04 – 49:24 Weed: 49:25 – 1:00:51 Uvalde: 1:00:52 – 1:06:30 Assange: 1:06:31 – 1:12:28 Krystal: 1:12:29 – 1:21:19 Saagar: 1:21:20 – 1:33:01 Kyle Kondik: 1:33:02 – 1:45:19
10/10 NEWSLETTER: Nuclear Armageddon, Uvalde Police, Assange Debate, Starbucks CEO, Midterm Ads, & More!
Welcome to the October 10th, 2022 edition of the Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar
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The Ukrainian military achieved a major blow to Putin’s forces this weekend. An explosion on a bridge
linking Crimea to mainland Russia destroyed a critical supply route
for the Russian troops in Ukraine. The structure symbolized
Putin’s annexation of Crimea and the Russians are blaming the attack on Ukrainian terrorists. Officials for Ukraine have not claimed responsibility for the attack after an ID badge of a Ukrainian citizen was recovered at the scene. Online memes
by Ukrainian posters have spread rapidly to celebrate the destruction of the bridge. Many of the viral images mock Vladimir Putin’s military failures and cope with the destruction of war. The memes have become a prominent messaging vehicle for Ukrainian government officials to communicate the message to westerners and create a sense of national unity against an opposition notorious for its seriousness. In retaliation, the Russians have struck missiles across Ukraine
without regard for civilian life and view the strike as an attack on their territory. The Russians are opening a criminal case into the attack starting with an investigation.
The strikes were likely plotted during Putin’s meeting with his security council Monday centered around the reshuffling of his military forces over the past week. Air Force General Sergei Surovikin has been named
the overall commander of forces in Ukraine, a man known for his ruthlessness and experience
with Russian operations in Syria. He is a decorated military leader in Russia and widely viewed as a highly competent commander. His first battlefield task will be to reorganize Russian forces in Kherson after more territorial gains
were made by Ukraine over the weekend. The vital city is the ongoing focus of the Ukrainian counteroffensive that has revitalized their military effort since the beginning of September.
In a speech delivered at a Democratic fundraiser, President Biden warned of
nuclear armageddon amidst Putin’s growing threats of using a ‘tactical’ nuclear weapon. Biden noted how this level of danger has not been seen since the Cuban missile crisis. He emphasized the usage of a ‘tactical’ nuclear weapon would quickly lead to escalation and with it an armageddon. The president believes the underperformance of Russia’s military has Vladimir Putin desperate with his back against the wall. Ukrainian President Zelensky has encouraged
NATO not to be deterred by Putin’s threats, going so far as to push for preemptive nuclear strikes from NATO. Presumably, these would take place on his nation’s territory putting many of his citizens’ lives at risk. His nation’s accelerated application into the alliance is currently pending after the United States rebuked the need for Ukraine to be brought into the fold.
While speaking to supporters at a rally, former president Donald Trump called for peace
in Ukraine. He demanded an immediate negotiation to end the war to prevent World War Three from breaking out. Trump issued vague critiques of the people in power and warned about the dangers of nuclear weapons. His comments come after he posted on his TRUTH Social network about sending a team to broker a peace agreement in Ukraine. The concern expressed by Trump about nuclear weapons and the lack of diplomacy are not isolated to the former president. On CNN this weekend, host Jake Tapper pressed Democratic Senator Chris Murphy about Biden’s warning of nuclear armageddon. Murphy blamed the recklessness and danger
of Vladimir Putin for making nuclear weapons a possibility in his campaign against Ukraine. He agreed with top US officials about there being no signs Putin is set to deploy nuclear weapons on the battlefield. Murphy went on to blame Putin for the lack of diplomacy around ending the conflict, noting that his invasion is what started the war.
President Joe Biden pardoned thousands
of Americans convicted of ‘simple possession’ of marijuana under federal law, including those convicted in DC. His administration touted the measure as a step towards decriminalizing the drug and addressing racial disparities in drug charges. The vast majority of marijuana possession convictions are conducted at the state level, which led the president to call on state governors to follow his lead. Nobody is currently in federal prison for the offense of simple possession, but the Biden administration believes pardons could help people overcome barriers in other aspects of life. Given this reality, the move has been perceived as a symbolic stunt catered towards young voters. Polling data
on the issue shows overwhelming support for the legalization of marijuana, especially with racial minorities and Democrats. Additionally, the pardons do not cover any other drugs, offenses by non-citizens, or charges related to an intent to distribute. More importantly, Biden is directing his AG and HHS Secretary to review marijuana’s status
as a schedule I drug under federal law. This could reduce or eliminate criminal penalties for possession while opening up much needed research on marijuana. Biden emphasized that he does believe in federal and state limitations on trafficking, marketing, and underage sales of marijuana. Some police departments believe the drug leads to more serious crime and ignoring low level offenses emboldens criminals. Their concerns come as cities and towns across the United States grapple with surges in violent crime and homelessness. Civil rights activists led by Al Sharpton praised Biden’s decision and what it could mean for the black community. It marks a significant personal and political shift for Biden, who authored the 1994 crime bill with the backing of prominent black officials at the time.
Meanwhile, the baggage of Herschel Walker’s abortion scandals is hurting him with a key group of swing voters. Individuals identified as Kemp-Warnock voters are turned off
by the scandals surrounding the GOP senate candidate. Most of these voters disapprove of President Biden and would prefer Republican economic policies. But questions about Walker’s personal history even compared to Warnock’s scandals loom large. It could interfere with his ability to govern for the state and lies about the scandals have eroded trust
with moderate voters. A win for Warnock in this swing contest could enable Democrats to maintain control of the senate even if they lose the House. Decriminalizing marijuana could land with black moderates who are dissatisfied with Biden on the economy and other issues.
The Uvalde school district announced the suspension
of the entire district police force on Friday. They have continued to grapple with the department’s failures during the school shooting that left 19 school children and two teachers killed by a lone gunman. To deal with the suspension Uvalde requested more Texas Department of Public Safety troopers to be stationed on campus and during extracurricular activities. The length of the suspension has not been disclosed. Soon after, the school district superintendent announced his retirement without giving a timeline. Transition plans will be discussed in a closed Uvalde school board meeting on Monday. Families of the victims celebrated the announcement for delivering some accountability to the officers who failed their loved ones. They will continue to fight for greater accountability, better police, and more safety for the children who go to school in Uvalde. Investigations by the Texas Police Chiefs Association and private firm JPPI are still ongoing, the results of which could guide the rebuilding of the department. District police chief Pete Arredondo was fired in August after he gave the directive to officers on the scene not to breach the door of the classroom where the shooter was stationed. Several personnel
from the Texas DPS are being investigated for their role in the shooting. The state troopers failed to follow standard procedures during the Uvalde shooting and they have been suspended until further notice. One of the troopers had been hired by the school district after the shooting before outcry drove them to reverse the decision. Uvalde families have vowed to not stop fighting for accountability as the town tries to begin healing from the massacre.
The case of Australian publisher Julian Assange’s prosecution by the United States in tandem with the United Kingdom is typically ignored by mainstream media. But Fox News personality Piers Morgan decided to host a debate about Assange’s pending extradition to the US on his Fox Nation show. Assange’s wife Stella Assange appeared next to
former Bush and Trump national security official John Bolton. After Bolton insisted Assange deserves to be tried and imprisoned for his actions, Assange retorted that Bolton is a war criminal who deserves trial in international criminal court. She reminded him that Assange published leaked documents demonstrating US war crimes in the invasion of Iraq, something Bolton supported. A few months ago, Bolton received widespread scorn for admitting the CIA’s role in plotting military coups to overthrow governments during a CNN segment.
In her monologue today, Krystal walks viewers through a Washington Post profile
of Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. The gist of the profile is Schultz’s anti-union obsession and how he feels Starbucks workers are disrupting his life’s work. He always saw himself as the good guy of American capitalism who believed Starbucks progressive branding was core to its success. His self image has been challenged by workers who believed they deserve better and have been unionizing across the country. Starbucks reflects the mentality sold to an entire generation in the 90s and 00s of doing right by doing good. It meant that cashing in had no conflicts with liberal values and the best way to do good was to work at McKinsey instead of fighting for real change. For decades, Starbucks aesthetic brought enormous profits for Schultz by building a huge market among this class of affluent liberals. He invested in his baristas to make further profits, not out of the goodness of his heart. Behind the mask of the good guy capitalist is the same thing as every other billionaire executive. They want their wealth and power, so in response to a movement of workers demanding better, Schultz has been lawless and ruthless.
Starbucks has been illegally firing workers across the country, closed union stores, discriminated against union workers, and committed hundreds of violations of the National Labor Relations Act. The aggressive union-busting approach stems from Schultz’s existential freakout over the union wave. He takes it as a personal challenge, when the workers themselves simply want better conditions. He cannot handle his fantasy about being a good capitalist, so he’s made up stories about outside agitators and blaming society at large. The sympathetic portrait is revealing because it shows the self-serving mythology of all billionaires. Some use free market ideology or comparisons to rival companies. Others cite customer satisfaction and how they treat their workers. Personal mythology means little in the end, when everything is driven by maximizing shareholder value. Workers are not organizing against Schultz personally, they simply believe the system should be treating them better.
After the monologue, Krystal and Saagar ponder the personal meltdown from Schultz over the union fight and his weak explanation for his aggressiveness towards unions. So many of these guys are egomaniacs and paternalistic figures starved for media attention and recognition. The existence of the union challenges his image and the benevolent portrait of the billionaire founder. Schultz cannot cope with the union movement challenging his vision and has to throw the gauntlet at it for his own personal gain.
In his monologue, Saagar dives into the TV revolution of the 20th century and how long ago it seems. The presidency post Harry Truman has been indelibly linked to the power of television, beginning with the Nixon-Kennedy debate and going from there. Take Ronald Reagan, who became a political figure
through his 1950s television hour with GE. Or Bill Clinton, who turned himself from a national joke at the 1988 DNC convention to a rising star
by going on late night TV shows. Even Obama owed his fame
to TV after his blockbuster speech at the 2004 DNC convention was watched by millions of people. His election was propelled by the internet but becoming a star on TV was still necessary to go from Illinois state senator to president in four years. TV could kill careers as well, shown by George HW Bush checking his watch at the debate or Dan Quayle not knowing how to spell potato.
American politics was ruled by TV until suddenly it was not during the rise of Donald Trump. Television shows made Trump famous but the internet got him elected and allowed him to drive news cycles with his antics on Twitter. While the 2020 election was more typical because of covid pandemic restrictions, the future will be defined by diminishing TV power. Cable news ratings and late night TV are in irreversible decline. Trevor Noah leaving the Daily Show as a 38 year old comedian in his prime would have been unthinkable a decade ago. He presided over
a drop of one million viewers in part because of his own performance but similar drops are happening elsewhere. James Corden, Samanatha Bee, and Conan O’Brien have all left late night TV this year for the same reason. On broadcast, Fox News’ Greg Gutfeld comedy show is beating out Colbert and dwarfing Jimmy Kimmel in ratings. All of these programs are hardly attracting younger viewers, not even reaching 400,000 of the key demographic. Late night TV hosts used to be titans ruling over American culture and now presidential interviews on their show hardly get attention. On cable news, the same thing is happening shown by the failure of Alex Wagner at MSNBC. Ratings have tumbled and viewers are actively turning off
the TV when she comes on screen. It reflects the managed decline of the cable news model, which will be fully destroyed when cable companies stop paying for their bundle. They still have a monopoly on live events in the same way sports networks do. On that front, Amazon’s Thursday Night Football drew in a record number
of viewers. All of the writing is on the wall for cable news to keep declining into irrelevance.
After the monologue, Krystal and Saagar reflect on the importance of late night television declining and how they are all pushing for virality online in the same way Breaking Points is. Production budgets for any of these shows are astronomical compared to what is happening here and the business model for them no longer makes sense. Legacy revenue benefits and deals with cable carriers are keeping the networks afloat even though the fundamentals make no sense. Advertising budgets are bloated and they are overpaying for slots on cable TV despite the lack of viewership. Metrics do not matter on television because data is not real compared to the detailed analytics of online advertising that give feedback in real time. Online niche cultures have taken over from television monoculture and the magnitude of mainstream programs as a cultural unifier. Overall, having more free and open flow of information combined with a genuine online meritocracy can create more vibrancy if the gatekeepers allow it.
Krystal and Saagar bring elections expert Kyle Kondik back on the show to break down the TV ads deployed
by Democratic and Republican campaigns. Disputes about the influence of TV ads aside, they are the best reflection of what party messaging has been. Kyle has watched hours worth of 30 second campaign ads to get an overall impression of the landscape. Democrats are hammering Republicans on abortion
with nationalized ads featuring women in distress. Republicans have primarily attacked Democrats on crime
with dark screens and footage of urban disorder. The prime example of this tactic is in Wisconsin, where ‘defund the police’ rhetoric by Wisconsin Democratic Senate Candidate Mandela Barnes has been highlighted in ads by GOP incumbent Ron Johnson. A barrage of crime ads have put Johnson back in the lead and they have brought Dr. Oz within striking distance against John Fetterman. Unlike Republicans on abortion, Democrats have been fighting back against the GOP messaging about crime by tying themselves to law enforcement. Another tactic of theirs has been to link Democratic candidates to the unpopular national leaders of their party. Both crime and abortion ads have an emotional, visceral affect more than most other political issues. The GOP strategic focus on crime does indicate the declining effectiveness of attacks on the economy. Democrats have not made Biden’s student loan forgiveness program a focus of their advertising and Republicans have placed minimal ads attacking it. There have been some student loan ads online but almost no presence on broadcast, where the message would be less targeted. Using online ads to hit a more niche market could be effective with young voters enticed by student loan forgiveness. Polling data on crime related issues in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania will be cited by campaign strategists as evidence of TV ads working. A belief in TV ads working can also be self-serving because they can generate fundraising for campaigns themselves. Similarities in ads across the board emphasizes the nationalization of politics today and how specific candidates are less important than party labels. On one hand, the Republican senate field has plenty of weak, unproven candidates. On the other hand, people are voting more on party labels so it’s a good time to bring out new politicians. In a swing state election, a handful of votes going against the new candidates could be an argument for more established candidates, but the political environment is what matters most in these races across the country.
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