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Stop Police Brutality Sign

Donald Trump Signs Executive Order On ‘Police-Friendly Reform’

Trump is expected to present an executive order to the White House that would create a national database of police misconduct, this way officers with a history of overly aggressive behavior can’t be transferred to another department to avoid public scrutiny.

White House

Trump Losing Major Support For His Handling Of Covid-19 and ‘Black Lives Matter’ Protests

As the United States battles two major pandemics, the coronavirus and systematic racism, the citizens of America are condemning president Trump for his complacency in both of these health crises that are killing thousands of Americans in very different ways.

Immigration

Trump Plans To Suspend Immigration Into The U.S. Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

President Donald Trump announced this past Monday that he will be signing an Executive Order that would suspend all immigration into the United States in order to prevent further economic damage brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

American Flag

Trump Believes America Will Reopen Its Economy “Very Soon,” Health Officials Aren’t Convinced

This past Friday, president Donald Trump delivered a speech in which he optimistically told the public about the Unites States’ efforts to combat the coronavirus, as well as the many ways in which he plans to recover the economy once this is all over.

Impeachment 2

Trump’s Impeachment Looks at President Trump’s View on Friendship

Next week will see President Donald Trump go on trial to defend the accusation that he offered $400 million in military aid to the Ukraine if they gave him information he could use on his political enemies.

And although it is only Trump’s “deal” with the Ukraine that is on trial, it seems that a new story regarding his world view is appearing in the media, making America’s strong relationships with its allies seemingly being based on how much money he can get from them, such as larger subsidies for US troops based in locations including South Korea.

Trump had also bragged about the fact that Saudi Arabia had placed $1 billion into a US bank account in an attempt to gain a detachment of US troops – a claim that has been declared untrue.

And while it seems that Trump is only out to get as much money as he can from his new found “friends,” he is also restricting them too. He has threatened European allies with 25% auto tariffs if they did not enforce a dispute mechanism against Iran with regards to the nuclear deal. He also threatened to take action against Iraq that would “make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame” if the country evicted US troops from the country, as is their sovereign right.

This came alongside the news that Baghdad had been warned by the US that its central bank’s account in New York could be frozen, which was seen as a clear attack to destroy their economy.

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It is actions like these that make many think that if this is the way America treats its friends, they may end up lonely soon. It has also been noted that by having a foreign policy purely designed to increase the country’s wealth goes against the United States’ mission to make the world safer for democracy.

As is always the case, Trump has his supporters who cannot see anything wrong with what he is doing. Trump’s announcement that the world has been “ripping off” America has been seen by many as exaggerations, however many others agree with him saying that creating deals with other countries is the way America has always worked.

Several text messages have been released by the House Intelligence Committee and have thrown a new name into the Ukraine issue. Robert F. Hyde – Connecticut’s congressional candidate – had sent texts where he seemed infuriated with then-Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. Texting Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani, Hyde said, “she had visitors.” Before adding “Hey broski tell me what we are doing what’s the next step.”

In retaliation to the messages being released Hyde’s Twitter account for his election campaign appeared to renounce Parnas as “some dweeb we were playing with” while Adam Schiff, House Intel leader was dismissed as a “desperate turd.”

Yet despite Trump’s dubious ways of keeping his friends happy he seems keen to be rebuilding his relationship with China.

Following on from the recent trade war with China, which saw many of China’s technology giants including Huawei being banned in the country as well as TikTok being banned from all US military, it seems that the two countries have been working towards a deal that should keep both countries happy.

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Trump’s trade deal with China was reported during the week and if Trump’s assurances that President Xi was watching on TV in Beijing is to be believed, the Chinese President would have been shocked with what he heard in the 40 minute tirade Trump delivered to Chinese leaders, CEOs, cabinet members and lawmakers as well as the world’s media. Trump was keen to announce that the impeachment is a “hoax,” US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer “tosses and turns” and is unable to get a good night’s sleep as well as other facts that many were not expecting to hear.

He continued to thank President Xi who is “a very, very good friend of mine” before explaining that “we’re representing different countries. He’s representing China, I’m representing the US, but we’ve developed an incredible relationship.”

Following on from Trump’s fallout with Iran many countries in the Gulf and Europe fear retaliation. The President’s unpredictable behavior alongside his habit of off-the-cuff speeches has left many governments concerned that although the American President will react when American lives are at stake, he may not be so supportive if regional interests are under attack or even merely threatened.

A great example is Trump’s reluctance to react when Iran allegedly attacked vital Saudi oil facilities last year. Although America has declared that one of its policy priorities is to protect Saudi Arabia there clearly are conditions. Ilan Goldenberg from the Center for a New American Security is an expert on Middle East issues and said there are two sides to these “battles.”

“On the one hand, they are happy that Trump is willing to sanction and pressure and take Iran down a notch.” However it appears that “they are nervous that he is unsteady and goes too far… No one really knows what Donald Trump will do”

Whatever Trump does decide to do, it is unclear whether being his friend is beneficial to you or not.

Democratic Party

New York Times Endorses Both Warren and Klobuchar for Democratic Nominee

Just days before the first votes are due to be cast in Iowa, the New York Times has announced that, in an unusual move, the editorial board has decided to endorse two candidates for the Democratic nominee. The two candidates, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren, are the only two women candidates remaining in the race, and while their policy platforms differ in a number of ways, the editorial board has come to the conclusion that both candidates are equally qualified to beat Donald Trump in November and serve in the office of the presidency for the next four to eight years.

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The editorial board arrived at their conclusion by holding interviews with each of the major candidates vying to become the Democratic nominee, and found that although the public perceives the contest as being split between progressives and moderates, in reality the different candidates’ views on fundamental issues are strikingly similar. All of the top candidates, for instance, want to expand access to health care far beyond what the government has provided in the past, and each candidate has a vision for the federal government that differs sharply from the way it is run today. Indeed, as the Republican party increasingly slides towards authoritarianism in deference to Trump, the Democratic party as a whole has moved to the left, as positions that were once considered radical like Medicare-for-All have become mainstream.

While the editorial board acknowledges that the issue at the forefront of most voters’ minds is the question of who is able to beat Mr. Trump, it also believes that no one really has the ability to foretell which candidate is most able to do so. Instead, the editorial board focused on which candidates would be most effective at repairing the Republic and embracing new ideas, and the most competent candidates in these two regards were considered to be Klobuchar and Warren. Though both Sanders and Warren represent the progressive wing of the party, the editorial board considers Sanders’ age and health to be a major concern, and considers his approach to his policies to be too ideologically rigid. While the editorial board recognizes Sanders’ contribution of progressive ideas to the party, it feels that Warren has a better understanding of the fundamental issues that plague the country and how best to approach them.

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The second endorsement, Amy Klobuchar, was picked for her experience and effectiveness as a politician. According to the Center for Effective Lawmaking, Klobuchar is the most productive senator in the Democratic field when it comes to bills passed with bipartisan support, and while she is billed as a moderate by most voters, the editorial board feels that Amy Klobuchar might have the best chance of enacting a progressive policy agenda as president. Despite being labelled a moderate by the media, Klobuchar embraces a number of progressive policies, including transitioning to a carbon-neutral economy by 2050 and raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. While the editorial board was concerned about reports of how Klobuchar treats her staff, it nonetheless considers Klobuchar to be the most competent and effective “moderate” candidate in the field.

2020 Presidental Election

Tonight’s Democratic Debate Last Before Voting Begins in Ohio

In what may very well make for one of the most contentious nights of the primary process thus far, six of the country’s top Democrats will share a stage in Des Moines tonight, each debating to convince the American voter that they are the most qualified candidate to beat Donald Trump in November. The debate comes amid multiple, highly consequential stories surrounding the Trump administration; not only is Nancy Pelosi planning to hold a vote to send impeachment managers and the articles of impeachment to the Senate tomorrow, but the president recently made perhaps the most significant foreign policy decision of his presidency by ordering the death of the Iranian general Qasem Suleimani, taking Iran and the United States to the brink of war. 

And as if that weren’t enough, the debate follows accusations that Sanders told Warren in a 2018 meeting that a woman can’t win the presidency, a claim that Sanders vehemently denies as he accused Warren’s staff of lying and contradicted Warren’s retelling of events. Questions about the details of this meeting and the stark divide between the two candidates’ claims on the subject will likely emerge tonight among questions on a bevy of other topics.

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As the primary process has continued, the field of Democrats who qualify for the debate stage has narrowed to just six, including two women and no one of color. Andrew Yang, the only non-white candidate who qualified for the last debate, did not meet the requirements for this one, resulting in a field totally lacking in racial diversity, much to the chagrin of progressive members of the party. Questions concerning racial justice are likely to arise tonight, and while Democrats onstage will surely lament the lack of candidates of color among them, their comments about race are likely to be considered with scrutiny among non-white voters, many of whom are disappointed about the lack of diversity remaining among the front-runners.

Given the questions about the potential for conflict in the Middle East and the country’s desire to avoid war with Iran, Sanders and Biden are likely to butt heads over their differing votes in 2002 about the invasion of Iraq; Biden voted for the attack while Sanders, famously, voted against it. The decision to invade Iraq was based on the false claim that there existed weapons of mass destruction in the region; none were found, and the Iraq war is now largely considered to have been a mistake. Biden has previously defended his decision to vote in favor of the Iraq War, arguing that it was the best decision to make given the information that was available at the time. Sanders has accused the former vice president of having poor judgment in his decision on Iraq before and will likely do so again, and Biden will likely attempt to justify his choice rather than admit a mistake and apologize for it, in keeping with his prior comments on the matter.

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At this relatively-early point in the primary, Biden remains the clear leader, with Sanders gaining momentum thanks to strong poll numbers in Ohio and a massive fundraising haul of $34.5 million last quarter. While Biden consistently polls better than any other candidate, Sanders has perhaps the most loyal and energized coalition of voters, many of whom contributed small-dollar donations to the campaign, allowing for more ad buys, staff, and local organization. Biden’s performances in recent debates have been given mixed reviews, and although he’s consistently been placed center-stage as the unambiguous front-runner, he has failed to make himself the center of attention in past debates, with that honor going to contenders like Senator Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg. 

Given the presence of billionaire Tom Steyer on the debate stage, who has gained popularity by investing his massive personal fortune into his presidential campaign, the question of campaign finance reform is likely to be introduced. The two progressive candidates have made a point of demonstrating that they are not beholden to wealthy donors by refusing to accept their contributions. Sanders has spoken consistently of the importance of not taking money from large corporations, instead relying on small individual contributions, a strategy that has proven financially successful for him, and Warren has called out Buttigieg for meeting with wealthy donors in “wine caves,” a comment that led the former South Bend mayor to accuse her of hypocrisy. Given the fact that former candidate Senator Harris has cited a lack of funds in her decision to drop out of the race, Steyer is likely to be looked at with extra scrutiny tonight as he may be called on to justify the financial aspect of his campaign.

Golden Globe

Celebrities Comment on Culture at 2020 Golden Globes

Last night’s Golden Globes ceremony offered a number of insights into the world of American culture as the event reflected the complex dynamic between technology, entertainment, and politics. 

As a likely consequence of fears about the impact of streaming services on the movie-going audience, Netflix won just two prizes despite holding 34 nominations, and director Sam Mendes, who won the Globe for best director, said that he hoped his prize for the World War I epic “1917” would mean that “people will turn up and see this on the big screen, the way it was intended.” Mendes’s comments mirror remarks made by Martin Scorcese, director of the acclaimed “The Irishman,” who asked audiences to watch his film in theaters if possible, despite the film being made possible thanks to a considerable investment from Netflix. As people increasingly abandon theaters for the convenience offered by mobile devices, directors fear that the cinematic experience afforded by a night at the movies faces extinction, as evidenced by their negative commentary on the nature of streaming services as well as the relative paucity of prizes award to Netflix and similar services.

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The timing of the ceremony coincided with a number of significant political events, which celebrities unsurprisingly took the opportunity to offer their personal views on. In particular, climate change took center stage last night, as actors used their platform to draw attention to the wildfires currently devastating Australia and the world’s relative lack of action in the face of catastrophic global warming. Russell Crowe was not able to attend the ceremony as he was in Australia with his family, so Jennifer Aniston, who spoke on his behalf, pleaded with the world “to act” in the midst of this crisis in order to “respect our planet for the unique and amazing place it is.” Joaqin Phoenix, too, addressed climate change while accepting his award for his performance in “Joker,” saying, “it’s really nice that so many people have sent their well wishes to Australia but we have to do more than that,” adding “we don’t have to take private jets to Palm Springs for the awards.”

Coincidentally, the show took place the night before the first day of Harvey Weinstein’s trial; while nobody mentioned Weinstein by name, some celebrities addressed the problem of sexual misconduct and the value of speaking truth to power. Michelle Williams, who won the award for best actress in a limited series or TV movie for “Fosse/Verdon,” urged women to vote in their own self-interest in order to gain political power, saying “as women and as girls, things can happen to our bodies that our not our choice.” 

The new threat of war with Iran also became a subject for commentary during the show, as several actors and actresses expressed their opposition to the conflict and to President Donald Trump more generally. Patricia Arquette, while accepting an award for her role in “The Act,” criticized the president directly, saying that historians will characterize that night as “a country on the brink of war… and a president tweeting out a threat of 52 bombs including cultural sites.” She concluded by saying, “while I love my kids so much, I beg of us all to give them a better world.”

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Last night’s ceremony functioned not just as a recognition for the talent featured in the entertainment world, but of the overall atmosphere of despair clouding the American public consciousness. This was perhaps best captured by Ricky Gervais’s nihilistic opening monologue, during which he repeatedly told the audience that he didn’t care, despite preemptively accusing his celebrity peers of hypocrisy for their political activism as they’ve done work for companies with questionable ethics like Apple and Amazon, and concluding his monologue by urging the audience to “donate to Australia.” Gervais went so far as to say, “if you do win an award tonight, don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech; you’re in no position to lecture the public about anything, you know nothing of the real world.” Such a scathing and nihilistic attitude is a consequence of the fatigue many of us feel in response to the extremity of recent political events, and as this fatigue continues, it is sure to manifest ever-more prominently in American culture.

Your Vote Matters

Former Democratic Candidate Julián Castro Endorses Elizabeth Warren

Just days after ending his presidential campaign, Mayor Julián Castro has endorsed Senator Elizabeth Warren for president. Warren, a former frontrunner whose popularity has waned in recent weeks, met with the San Antonio mayor to produce a campaign video in which Castro pledges his support and the two discuss the problems facing America today and potential solutions. Castro, a close friend of Warren’s, will join the senator at campaign rallies and events over the coming weeks and months as she continues her fight for the Democratic nomination, with the first votes being cast in Iowa less than a month away. Castro, who focused his campaign on a message of social justice, contextualized his endorsement by alluding to the women in his life, including his mother and grandmother, who worked hard to provide him with the opportunity to achieve the success he enjoys today. Though the Democratic field has narrowed considerably to include very few candidates of color, Warren remains among the highest-polling candidates, meaning she has the potential to become America’s first female president.

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Despite her early popularity, Warren has fallen to third place in the race for the Democratic nomination, trailing Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders by several percentage points. Currently, the Democratic party appears to be split between those favoring a progressive political approach and those favoring a moderate one, with Warren and Sanders representing the progressive wing of the party and Biden and Buttigieg representing the moderate wing. Part of Warren’s struggle likely has to do with the fact that the progressive vote is split between her and Sanders; while Sanders benefits from name-recognition from his 2016 run for president and from being known for popularizing radical ideas like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, Warren has gained support through her calls for “big, structural change,” her detailed policy proposals, and her economic expertise. While Biden continues to enjoy frontrunner status thanks in large part to his reputation as Obama’s vice president, Warren’s political acumen is arguably unparalleled, as she is an expert in US Bankruptcy law who established the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis. 

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As Castro struggled in the polls, failing to meet the requirements to participate in the next Democratic debate, it is unclear to what extent his endorsement will benefit Warren’s campaign. That being said, Castro’s minority status may draw nonwhite voters to support Warren, who has struggled with minorities particularly in the aftermath of her dubious claim of Native American ancestry. On Twitter, Warren thanked Castro for his endorsement, saying she was “honored” to have his support. Though Castro failed to gain widespread support, he has contributed ideologically to the primary process by calling attention to reparations, decriminalization of border crossings, and housing inequality, among other issues of particular interest to minority groups. Additionally, Castro is known for his criticisms of the primary nomination process, arguing that it favors white voters as the first votes are cast in states with predominantly white populations. With several months remaining before the Democratic National Convention during which the Democratic nominee for president will be formally announced, only time will tell whether Castro’s support will give Warren the boost she needs to win the nomination.

Impeachment Trial

Should Senators Vote Secretly in Impeachment Trial?

To say there exists little historical precedent for presidential impeachment trials would be an understatement. Before Trump, only two presidents, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, have ever faced an impeachment trial in the Senate, and the circumstances in each trial were very different. During Johnson’s trial, for instance, 41 witnesses testified, whereas Clinton’s trial only featured a handful of witnesses. If Senate Republicans get their way, however, Trump’s trial will feature neither witnesses nor subpoenas for documents, and it will end quickly with an acquittal. The Constitution gives Congress the freedom to determine its own rules for how to handle impeachment trials; this fact, combined with the relative lack of historical precedent, makes it difficult for anyone to predict how the trial will proceed. That being said, the trial will likely be shaped in large part by partisan allegiance to the president, as several Republican senators have already said they’re not interested in acting as impartial jurors and Mitch McConnell has predicted a “largely partisan outcome.” Because hyperpartisanship threatens jurors’ impartiality, and thus the integrity of the trial, some political strategists have suggested that the senators should cast their ballot in secret, protecting them from the political ramifications of their vote and encouraging an independent decision.

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According to Juleanna Glover, a Republican strategist, it would be fairly easy for the Senate to ensure a secret ballot. Creating rules for the trial requires only a simple majority vote in the Senate; assuming Democrats vote in lockstep in favor of a secret ballot, only three Republicans would have to defect to reach the 51 votes necessary to effectuate the rule. Though they don’t publicly admit it for fear of the political repercussions, many Republican senators strongly oppose the president in private, according to various reports. In fact, former Republican senator Jeff Flake has said that he believes that there are at least 35 GOP senators who would vote to remove Trump if the votes were private; such a result would make Trump the first president in US history to be removed by the impeachment process. A secret ballot, however, would break with Senate tradition and expectations of transparency surrounding Senate proceedings, particularly in the extreme case of deciding whether to remove a sitting president from office. That being said, the atmosphere of hyperpartisanship, combined with an overall dislike of the president among lawmakers, may be enough to convince more than half of the Senate to institute such an unusual rule.

Few people predict that Trump will be removed from the White House before the 2020 election, but we live in an era in which unprecedented and unpredicted political events are borderline commonplace. 

While American politics has long been characterized by partisanship, the current political environment is arguably more partisan than ever before, with the vote in the House to impeach Trump passing almost entirely along party lines. The Senate is often considered to be a more impartial chamber than the House, but by most accounts it is still more partisan than it’s ever been. In Clinton’s trial, Republicans and Democrats collaborated to determine the rules, resulting in unanimous consent among all 100 senators—such an outcome is nearly inconceivable in today’s Senate. This very partisanship, though, is precisely what may motivate some senators to support a secret ballot. And while there exists a certain demand for transparency for actions taken by the Senate, grand jury proceedings, which the Senate trial will essentially function as, allow jurors to deliberate and vote in secret. 

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Already, cracks are starting to form in the Republicans’ solidarity in their support of Trump; Republican senator Lisa Murkowski, for instance, has said that she is “disturbed” by McConnell’s pledge to coordinate with the White House in defining the rules of the trial, and Mitt Romney has characterized the president’s conduct for which he was impeached as “troubling in the extreme.” A secret ballot, though admittedly unlikely, may be enough for these cracks to cause Republican senators’ defense of Trump to collapse, leading to his potential removal from office. Few people predict that Trump will be removed from the White House before the 2020 election, but we live in an era in which unprecedented and unpredicted political events are borderline commonplace.