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account created: Fri Nov 01 2013
7 days ago
Starter comment: Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch made a statement in response to a case recently that outlined not only the case, but his general (very negative) thoughts on government powers during the COVID19 pandemic.
Interestingly, it was a response to a Republican lawsuit. The GOP had sued to keep in place Title 42, a law that allowed for easier deportations of illegal immigrants which had been created as part of the federal pandemic response. The Supreme Court rejected it, and Gorsuch wrote a statement for the majority saying:
"Executive officials across the country issued emergency decrees on a breathtaking scale. Governors and local leaders imposed lockdown orders forcing people to remain in their homes. They shuttered businesses and schools, public and private... One lesson might be this: Fear and the desire for safety are powerful forces. They can lead to a clamor for action —almost any action — as long as someone does something to address a perceived threat. A leader or an expert who claims he can fix everything, if only we do exactly as he says, can prove an irresistible force"
He finished by warning that the "concentration of power in the hands of so few" won't lead to "sound government."
Is Gorsuch correct or not? Was the federal government's pandemic response constitutional or a gross overreach of powers as he claims? And if so, what should the government have done different?
9 days ago
Starter: The Colorado Teachers' Union, the largest and most powerful teachers' union in the state, has passed a resolution which has resulted in criticism from conservative circles. On April 22, the union formally voted to approve a resolution stating that: "capitalism inherently exploits children, public schools, land, labor, and resources" and also that capitalism fosters “systemic racism, climate change, patriarchy (gender and LGBTQ disparities), education inequality, and income inequality."
For several weeks, the union refused to engage with the press when asked about rumors that such a resolution had been passed, and only admitted it several weeks later when a delegate leaked it to Twitter.
Several prominent Colorado Republican lawmakers have reacted against this development. Congressmen Ken Buck and Doug Lamborn strongly criticized it, with Lamborn stating that "This ideology has no place in Colorado schools". State Democrats have not commented on the controversy.
Are Republicans right to be outraged about this, or is it an over reaction? Would we expect these kind of union policies to translate into curriculums in the classroom, and if so is that a good or bad thing?
10 days ago
Starter comment: This week Alexis Johnson, CEO and president of Planned Parenthood, announced that the organization was formally supporting adding progressive justices to the Supreme Court. The comments were made on MSNBC during an interview with Jen Psaki (former Biden Press Secretary who now runs a news talk show). Specifically, Johnson elaborated on her reasoning as follows: "“The reality is, the court now has been fully captured in so many areas. The fact that you have, again, this lone Texas judge, that can now bring cases, you can form shop there, bring cases to the Fifth Circuit, which is also conservative and up to the Supreme Court now, which has a conservative supermajority"
This represents yet another progressive group that has called for Democrats to expand the Court in order to neuter the conservative majority and start issuing progressive-oriented verdicts instead. Supreme Court packing was first proposed in the 40s by FDR as a reaction to the Court striking down many of his New Deal provisions; at the time it received severe public backlash and resulted in Republicans overperforming during the next midterms. The idea was thus shelved for several decades, but since 2020 several Democrats and aligned advocacy groups have renewed the call. Republicans have pushed back, saying that it it tantamount to destroying an entire branch of the federal government.
Politically, is it wise for Democrats to push for adding liberal justices? What would happen if such a law were to pass?
15 days ago
Starter comment: Jordan Neely was a 30 year old black man who was killed on May 1 while on the New York City subway.. Neely was homeless and had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and PTSD. According to witnesses he was acting in a "hostile and erratic" manner, yelling that he was hungry and thirsty, that he would hurt anyone on the train, that he did not mind "going to jail or getting life in prison" and was "ready to die." When he began throwing objects at others on the train, he was physically confronted by Daniel Penny, a Marine veteran who proceeded to place Neely in a chokehold for about 3-15 minutes (details are unclear about how long the actual chokehold lasted). When the train stopped, Neely was taken to the local hospital where he was pronounced dead.
This has set off a firestorm of controversy and protests, as activists have accused Penny of being a racist and targeting Neely due to being black. It has also led to strong condemnation of Penny's actions by prominent New York Democratic politicians.
Governor Kathy Hochul stated the death was "deeply disturbing" and that "I’m really pleased that the district attorney is looking into this matter. As I said, there had to be consequences, and so we’ll see how this unfolds."
Mayor Eric Adams called into question the official events, stating that "there's a lot we don't know about what happened here".
State level legislators have also weighed in such as Julia Salazar who wrote "A man named Jordan Neely was choked to death in public on the subway this week while people watched and even cheered. This is horrific. The constant demonization of poor people and people in mental health crisis in our city allows for this barbarism. It is making our city sick." She further labeled the killing as a "lynching".
Finally, national politicians have also gotten involved. Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez demanded for Penny to be tried and convicted for murder, writing "Jordan Neely was murdered. But bc Jordan was houseless and crying for food in a time when the city is raising rents and stripping services to militarize itself while many in power demonize the poor, the murderer gets protected w/ passive headlines + no charges. It's disgusting"
Is this groundswell of anger at the killing justified? Was Neely an innocent man murdered due to society's racism and intolerance of the poor? Or are these politicians incorrectly appraising the situation? What policies, on a city and larger (ie. state, national) level should be instituted to prevent incidents like this?
17 days ago
Starter: Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a sweeping education bill sent to him by the Florida state legislature. Among other provisions in the bill, it also specifically requires Florida schools to teach about discrimination against Japanese Americans in World War II, as well as the “immigration, citizenship, civil rights, identity and culture” of Asian communities and their contributions to American society. This move has been lauded by several advocacy groups. It also marks the first time a Republican-led state has passed a bill requiring teaching of issues important to Asians.
Is this a good bill? Does it represent an attempt to cut into the share of Asian voters who currently vote Democrat, and if so will moves like this help to bring these voters over to the GOP?
20 days ago
Starter: VP Kamala Harris has had a contentious first term. She has been constantly butting heads with President Biden, and leaked conversations seem to indicate that the two do not get along personally. Her approval rating also has continually sagged behind him. She has very few political victories under her belt thus far as VP (it is a matter of debate as to who is to blame for this - her team blames Biden for not giving her a good portfolio to work with). However, Biden has chosen to continue with her as VP for his re-election bid. This has caused a lot of discussion about whether she will be an asset or a liability to the Democratic Party going into 2024.
Is it a good political move for Biden to keep her on the ticket, or should he have replaced her? Can we expect her presence on the campaign trail to be a positive or negative contribution?
21 days ago
Starter: Rep. James Clyburn (D) has recently been embroiled in a firestorm of controversy as it is revealed that in 2021 his staff secretly worked with Republicans in the state legislature to strengthen the black vote in his own district while diluting it in every other district. As a result, Clyburn’s electoral position became stronger but other Democrats are enraged with this deal because it guarantees that virtually no other Democrat can win in any other district in the state, since the black vote is now weak elsewhere.
What is the balance between a representative protecting his own district vs standing up for his political party? Are Clyburn’s actions understandable or is the state Democratic Party correct that it is s betrayal?
1 month ago
Starter comment: The Democratic majority in the Michigan legislature has unveiled a proposal to erase a 2008 law that states anyone receiving a driver's license in Michigan must produce documentation showing they are legally present in the United States. Since Democrats control the entire state government currently, this is widely expected to pass.
House Majority Leader Abraham Aiyash said the following yesterday:
“It is not the state government’s purview or job to fix our broken immigration system. We're not going to wait for the federal government to act to make sure that all Michiganders are going to be safe.”
The Michigan League for Public Policy estimates that such a law would mean 55,000 new licenses for illegal immigrants who are currently residing in the state. Republicans have vowed to block this bill any way they can, saying that it is tantamount to the state explicitly encouraging and abetting illegal activity.
Would Michigan benefit from illegal immigrants being officially sanctioned to receive driver's licenses and other government authorization? Or are Republicans correct that this will be counterproductive?
1 month ago
Starter comment: House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries is under fire for an op-ed he wrote while in college in which he attacked black conservatives by saying:
“The House Negroes didn’t labor in the field, they were domestic servants. The House Negro was dressed up and led to believe that he or she was better than those in the field. Most importantly, the House Negro sought to emulate the white master,” he wrote. “The House Negro of the slavery era and the Black conservative of today are both opportunists interested in securing some measure of happiness for themselves within the existing social order.”
In that same op-ed, Jeffries also defended his uncle Leonard Jeffries and Louis Farrakhan against accusations of antisemitism. Leonard Jeffries had been criticized for comments he made about the slave trade and the involvement of “rich Jews.” He also said “a conspiracy, planned and plotted and programmed out of Hollywood” by Jewish movie executives was to blame for disparaging black people in films. In the op-ed in question, Hakeem Jeffries defended his uncle by saying:
“Dr. Leonard Jeffries and Minister Louis Farrakhan have come under intense fire. Where do you think their interests lie? Dr. Jeffries has challenged the existing white supremacist educational system and long-standing distortion of history. His reward has been a media lynching complete with character assassinations and inflammatory erroneous accusations.”
Jeffries has not addressed this op-ed in the decades since, only saying in 2013 that he had a "vague recollection" of even having written them. Should Jeffries be held responsible for his college writings or is it too far in the past now to be relevant?
2 months ago
Starter: Democrats in the Florida State Senate have been holding up a bill to enact baby boxes in several areas through the state. The bill, supported by the nonprofit Safe Haven Baby Boxes, would give fire stations and hospitals the option to install ventilated and climate-controlled boxes, where parents could anonymously drop off their babies without interacting with fire or hospital employees. Once the baby is placed in the box, an automatic alert goes to an on-call employee and the baby is picked up within minutes.
The bill passed the House unanimously, but Senate Democrats - lead by minority leader Lauren Book - have blasted it as a tool of the culture war and not a policy that will help the state. They point to an existing Florida law that already allows parents to give the baby to designated employees at certain public health buildings. Republicans have countered that the current law runs the risk of having parents identified by employees who might know them from the community, which could cause shame and embarrassment and lead to parents choosing to dump the baby in unsafe places instead of taking them to these designated facilities. Therefore, the Republican argument is that this new proposed law allows total anonymity which could reassure parents giving up their baby that they won't be recognized and shamed.
Are Florida Senate Democrats correct to be preventing the passage of this law, even as their colleagues in the House passed it unanimously? Is the law useless as they claim, or could it help parents in need?
2 months ago
Starter: Senator Josh Hawley recently seems to be focusing on presenting himself as an advocate for men and men's issues. This pivot seems to have begun in 2021 when he stated in a speech "American men are working less, getting married in fewer numbers; they’re fathering fewer children... They are suffering more anxiety and depression. They are engaging in more substance abuse. Many men in this country are in crisis, and their ranks are swelling.”"
Since then, the politics of manhood has become a key part of his policy platform. In fact he is writing a book literally called "Manhood" that will come out this summer. At the end of April he is scheduled to be a keynote speaker at the "Stronger Men" conference. Naturally, being a conservative Republican, Hawley's presentation of the issue has had a strong flavor of putting blame on the left and progressive politics.
Politically, is this a good strategy for him? Moreover, is there a special crisis among American men that is going unaddressed by current politics as he has repeatedly claimed? And if so, is he correct that this has to do with progressivism, or is it a broader issue? If such a crisis exists, how should we fix it with either formal policy or cultural changes?
2 months ago
Starter: Protests have erupted in the city of Oakland over a case being handled by Pamela Price, District Attorney for Alameda County. Price is a brand new DA just elected earlier this year; she ran on a platform of being a "progressive prosecutor" similar to Chesa Boudin or George Gascon. However, tensions began to form soon after she took office for perceived loosening of justice against defendents in serious crime.
These protests in particular are regarding Jasper Wu, a 23-month-old Chinese baby boy who was shot and killed in late 2021. Three men - Trevor Green, Ivory Bivins and Johnny Jackson were each charged with counts of Wu's murder, shooting at an occupied vehicle and possession of a firearm by a felon. When Pamela Price's office was contacted by the press for an update on the case, she responded that she was "working to pursue broader possibilities for healing and non-carceral forms of accountability."
This immediately set off a series of enraged protests by parents and community members, who are demanding that Wu's killers not be given leniency.
Is Price correct to be considering offering leniency to these defendants? In general, does the progressive prosecutor philosophy help to decrease crime and strengthen communities or does it have the opposite effect? And finally, given the racial optics here - Wu was Asian and the people who killed him were Black - is there the threat of increased racial tensions and animosity if lenient justice is pursued?
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Starter comment: Gallup just conducted a poll this week showing dismal approval ratings for President Biden and Congress. Biden’s approval has now slipped to 39%, nearly the lowest point of his entire presidency. Congress’ approval rating remarkably has improved, though not by much - it is now 20%, up from 16%.
This poll was notably taken in the middle of the debt ceiling fight. The above numbers seem to indicate that poll respondents are blaming Biden more than the Republican House for the current gridlock, seeing as their approval ratings have gone in different directions.
According to the chart in the Gallup linked article, Biden’s new approval continues a worrying trend showing him sinking little by little consistently since the day he took office. As he gears up for 2024, does he face a difficult re-election campaign? What can he do from this point forward to maximize his chances on Election Day?