Democratic Debate with One Addition

It’s 2020, and although this may seem like another typical article regarding the presidential election, I can assure you that it is not. While watching the Democratic debate on February 19th, I managed to actually stay awake for the full two hours of the debate, a feat I am exceptionally proud of. I do not say this in such a way as to dismiss any of the candidates, but simply to say that I found this particular debate quite substantive and closely relevant to my personal concerns in the current political realm.

“Roger Stoned”

No, Roger Stone, one of Trump’s former campaign advisers, was not stoned this Thursday, but he was sentenced to forty months in prison for impeding Congress’s investiagation on Russian interference in the 2016 US presidental election. Now the public is wondering if Trump will attempt to pardon Mr. Stone. Provided is the list of Roger Stone’s Ten Rules

Dishing Out Clemency

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump issued a series of 7 pardons and 4 commutions. Despite the president’s own legal trouble with impeachment and numerous accounts of sexual assault or harassment, the president did not hold back when exercising his presidential power to pardon. According to CNN, the reasons for said pardons were extremely vague. The president is quoted as saying “These are all people that you have to see the recommendations. I rely on recommendations, very importantly.”

“Bernchella:” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Rallies Were a Political Party

Raging rallies were held by Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt in Iowa to gain support for his presidential campaign the week leading up to the Iowa Caucus. The rallies resembled a music festival complete with beer, live music, and a multitude of millennials. The event even gained a festival-inspired nickname ‘Bernchella.’ Bon Iver, Vampire Weekend and a variety of other musicians performed to show their support. Some songs on Vampire Weekend’s setlist were “2021,” “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa,” and “Holiday.” Bon Iver’s gig included “Blood Bank,” “Flume” and “For Emma.”
Despite the rallies’ reputation and festival-inspired nickname, they were in fact political.

Trump Impeached, Trial Goes to Senate

Donald J. Trump has become the third president to be impeached. On December 18th, the House of Representatives voted to pass the two articles introduced, both on near-party line votes. The articles, for abuse of power and obstruction of congress, were passed on the strength of the Democratic caucus alone, with neither receiving a vote from a single Republican. An historic vote, Trump has now joined Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton as the only presidents to be impeached by the House. The charges stem from the July 25th phone call between President Trump and newly elected Ukranian President Vlodymir Zelensky, during which President Trump appeared to ask Mr. Zelensky to open an investigation into Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic presidential hopeful and former Vice President Joe Biden, and his business dealings with large Ukranian companies. The caveat– that is, the quid pro quo of it all– is that routine military aid for Ukraine, several hundred million dollars of it, had been held up for the past few weeks before this, leading some to believe that Mr. Trump was conditioning the aid on Mr. Zelensky’s willingness to open an investigation into one of the President’s premier political rivals.

Kobe Bryant’s Death Coincides with Bizarre Advertising Campaign

While the rest of the world mourned the loss of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, who, along with nine others, passed away in a helicopter crash on January 26th, the Planters Peanuts marketing team scrambled to address backlash from their newest ad campaign. Just days before the tragic Bryant accident, Planters Peanuts uploaded an advertisement to YouTube which depicted the death of their mascot, Mr. Peanut, who dies in a fiery car crash. The team published the ad as the first part of a series that would finish with Mr. Peanut’s funeral during the Super Bowl. However, the resemblance to Bryant’s fiery helicopter crash was uncanny, and many viewers critiqued the strategy, calling it insensitive and tasteless.

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren Fall Out of Love

On Tuesday, January 14, CNN and the Democratic National Convention hosted the 7th Democratic presidential debate. The event took place in the desolate wastes of Des Moines, Iowa; America’s favorite place to watch old, white people duke it out. Of the six candidates that participated in the debate, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were by far the most heavily featured. However, it wasn’t their policies or rhetoric that resonated with the audience, it was the uncomfortable tension that arose between them. In fact, the only memorable thing to come from this two hour circlejerk was the forced confrontation between their differing progressive ideologies.
For many, the conflict between the two came as a complete surprise. Historically speaking, the relationship between Sanders and Warren has been nothing but cordial. Ideologically, they appear quite similar, both occupying the progressive wing of the democratic party. Even when the two candidates have disagreed on a specific course of action to take, they’ve found ways to compromise. They’ve routinely cooperated on legislation and supported each other politically. For example, in 2013 when Warren attempted to pass the Student Loans Fairness Act, Sanders endorsed the bill saying, “The only thing wrong with this bill is that [she] thought of it and I didn’t”. Warren even welcomed Bernie into the 2016 presidential race by saying, “I’m glad to see him get out there and give his version of what leadership in this country should be”. Warren and Sanders were like a geriatric version of Bonnie and Clyde, an iconic partnership in Washington.
Warren and Sanders should be natural allies. Both candidates have championed grassroots campaigns, primarily obtaining funds from individual donors rather than cyphoning them from corporations and billionaire donors. Additionally, both have consistently attempted to implement a wealth tax and have worked to combat climate change. Although Bernie is decisively more progressive than Warren, both have been classified as extremists in the Democratic party, making them the perfect duo to fight the establishment. So what happened? How did these two ideologues of progressivism fall out of love?
It seems that the intensity of the presidential race took its toll on their relationship. The tension originated from a private conversation between Sanders and Warren back in 2018 where he allegedly expressed concerns that a woman would be unable to win the presidency. While the validity of these allegations are spurious considering there are countless videos of Sanders literally arguing the opposite of the claims dating back more than 30 years ago, they were treated with the utmost seriousness during Tuesday’s debate. About halfway through, CNN correspondent Abby Phillip called attention to the allegations, asking Sanders, “In 2018 you told [Warren] that you believed that a woman could not win the election, why did you say that?” Sanders responded with, “As a matter of fact, I didn’t …”. Immediately after finishing his response, Phillips turned to Warren and asked, “what did you think when Senator Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?” prompting an uproar of laughter from the audience. The whole exchange reads like a joke from The Office, but with better timing.
While admittedly hilarious, the incident highlights the fundamental difference that lies at the heart of the Warren-Sanders divide. Warren harbors the support of affluent and powerful individuals while Sanders’ supporters are primarily working-class. This means that Warren maintains the support of the media while Sanders is often vilified or blatantly ignored. In particular, MSNBC has consistently left Sanders out of their media coverage. This trend seems to indicate that the wealthy individuals who own the media outlets would prefer that Sanders be left out of the conversation. For many, Bernie’s campaign represents a radical break from establishment politics which lies in stark contrast to Warren’s comparatively moderate views. For the casual onlooker, it may appear that Warren and Sanders are ideologically similar, but their differences are tough to ignore.
Ideally, Sanders and Warren would be on the same team, but January’s debate indicates that this is no longer possible. At the end of the event, Warren approached Sanders and said, “I think you called me a liar on national TV.” to which he responded with, “Let’s not do it right now. You want to have that discussion, we’ll have that discussion. You called me a liar.” Basically, the politcian equivalent of “Go fuck yourself”. For many on the moderate left, the conflict between Sanders and Warren feels like watching your friend’s parents argue, uncomfortable and wholly unnecessary. However, just like your friends parents, it might be best for them to split up. The irreconcilable differences between the campaigns make compromise improbable, a campaign centered around the working class can not reconcile with a campaign sympathetic to wealthy elites and the establishment. It doesn’t seem as though their relationship will improve anytime soon. But, if maintaining their partnership means compromising their respective campaign goals, they may just have to go it alone.

MLK Now

To quote from historians Timothy McCarthy and John McMilian’s 2003 The Radical Reader:Today, every state in the Union pays annual tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. Not a January passes that we are not reminded, in schools, on op-ed pages, and even in television advertisements, that King devoted the best years of his life to nonviolence and civil rights. At this very moment, Dr. King’s portrait hangs proudly in the Bush White House. But how much do students know about the popular resistance and government repression that King faced while he was still alive, or the thorny questions he raised about American materialism, militarism and classism? Who recalls that even as King was doing his good work, federal agents worked behind the scenes to smear him, tapping his phones, sending him threatening mail and trying to discredit him among journalists, donors, and supporters?
The emphasis of MLK Now, an annual event hosted by Blackout for Human Rights, is to build on King’s legacy by continuing to advocate for his life’s work and to take difficult stances that still place us in an ideological minority today. The event was held this past MLK Day at The Riverside Church in Harlem, where King delivered his “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” speech. It featured a wide range of personalities, including “1619 Project” creator Nikole Hannah-Jones, author Ta’Nehisi Coates, musicians J. Cole and Black Thought, activists Alicia Garza and Rosa Clemente, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Seattle Seahawk Marshawn Lynch