CNN Debate Night 1: A Brief Review



By:  Justin Holden

  • Centrist (corporate) Democrats go on the offensive against the higher polling progressive candidates, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
  • Governor Steve Bullock has his first debate appearance of the year; remains irrelevant.
  • Marianne Williamson stands out with her detailed answer on slavery reparations, emphasis for getting special interest money out of politics, and a call to focus on the cause of problems rather than symptoms.
  • Bernie Sanders remains on message, but goes a step further this time by calling out moderator Jake Tapper for asking a “Republican talking point” debate question.
  • Beto O’Rourke avoids confrontation, again, with the other candidates.  The anticipation of a showdown with Mayor Pete Buttigieg does not come to fruition.
  • John Delaney succeeds in gaining significant air time by initiating heated policy debates with Sanders and Warren.
  • John Hickenlooper, Amy Klobuchar, and Tim Ryan have forgettable performances.


It came down to moderates versus progressives on night one of the CNN Democratic Presidential Primary Debates.  John Delaney came out swinging right out of the gate, referencing Warren and Sanders in his opening statement.  Other moderate candidates, particularly Hickenlooper, Bullock, and Ryan, were also quite vocal in their opposition to progressive policies during this debate.

The first debate topic was healthcare.  You had Medicare for all (left-wing policy), public option (center-right policy), and some convoluted policies that fell somewhere in between that spectrum.  Over and over again we heard about the concept of millions of Americans being thrown off their private insurance plans and forced onto Medicare for all.  Oh the agony!  Somehow, in 2019, it’s as if politicians and the talking heads on mainstream media alike haven’t woken up to the fact that the United States is the only major country on Earth left to not guarantee healthcare to it’s citizens as a right.

Another lengthy section of the debate focused on immigration.  Several candidates supported decriminalization of crossing the border while others remained against such a policy.  There was also disagreement among the candidates as to whether or not undocumented immigrants should be guaranteed healthcare.

Williamson, Sanders, and Warren all did themselves a favor in this debate and will likely see a boost to their poll numbers in the aftermath.  Delaney, the most vocal attack dog against progressive candidates in this debate, may see a small boost in support from conservative/centrist Democrats, but his poll numbers likely won’t show significant change due to the large volume of moderate candidates in the race and with Joe Biden still having the conservative/centrist lane on lock down.

You could make a case for several candidates receiving the “biggest loser” award, but I’ll go ahead and give it to Beto O’Rourke.  Beto is not articulating his policy positions well enough and even worse, he’s failing to effectively debate policy against other candidates.  Beto’s non-confrontational approach isn’t working for him.  Until Beto goes on the offensive and shows some real passion behind his policy positions, he’ll continue to fail in raising his post-debate poll numbers.


2020 Profiles: Tulsi Gabbard

By:  Justin Holden

Tulsi Gabbard has served as U.S. Representative for Hawaii’s 2nd congressional district since 2013.  She’s a Democrat and U.S. military veteran that is currently serving on the House Armed Services Committee.  On January 11th of 2019, Tulsi Gabbard announced that she would be seeking the Democratic nomination for President in the upcoming 2020 election.  While Tulsi Gabbard may seem like a relative unknown to many people who don’t follow politics closely, she has some appeal to the left-wing voter base of the Democratic Party thanks to her progressive voting record and being one of the few elected politicians to support Bernie Sanders early on in the 2016 Democratic primary.

Tulsi Gabbard has been the target of recent criticism for anti-LGBTQ views that she held in the past.  However, Tulsi Gabbard’s voting record in congress has been objectively pro-LGBTQ, so she seems to have evolved on the issue of gay marriage and other LGBTQ rights issues.  There have also been questions raised from the left as to her position on the U.S. government using torture to gain intelligence.

Tulsi Gabbard has received additional criticism, particularly from the corporate media and Washington establishment, for her foreign policy views.  Tulsi Gabbard is anti-war, anti-regime change, and generally speaking critical of the status quo interventionist approach that the United States has been taking to foreign policy decisions for many years now.

Tulsi Gabbard met with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in 2017, and she’s against removing him from power.  Tulsi Gabbard has stated that you must meet with leaders all around the world, regardless of their background, in order to achieve peace.  However, she’s been hammered by the corporate media and Washington establishment for meeting with Assad in a similar fashion to the way President Trump was criticized for meeting with brutal dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong Un.

Tulsi Gabbard’s Key Policy Positions

  • Proposed the use of paper ballots during elections as a potential solution to mitigate risk of foreign interference in U.S. elections
  • Supports “Medicare For All” single-payer healthcare system
  • Advocates for raising the federal minimum wage
  • Supports removal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan
  • Supports raising taxes on the rich
  • Supports decriminalization of marijuana on a federal level



While there is currently limited information on this candidate’s official presidential campaign website, you may want to check back periodically as the 2020 race rages on.  Tulsi’s entrance to the 2020 presidential race further crowds the field for the Democratic primary, while figuring to give the left-wing voter base another progressive candidate option.

2020 Profiles: Richard Ojeda

By:  Justin Holden

Richard Ojeda (D-WV) is one of the first confirmed presidential candidates on the democrat side to challenge Donald Trump in 2020.  Of course, Ojeda will first need to win the nomination through the democratic primary process, which won’t be easy.  It’s still early on as of the date I am writing this article, but we expect a crowded field of democrat presidential candidates for 2020, and only one of those candidates will emerge victorious as the party’s presidential nominee.

Ojeda is a relative newcomer to the political scene.  He’s been West Virginia’s state senator from the 7th district since 2016.  Ojeda won West Virginia’s 3rd congressional district democratic primary in 2018 by winning more than 50% of the votes in a field of four candidates.  Ojeda went on to lose in the general election to Republican Carol Miller.  However, Ojeda did receive 43.59% of the vote in the general election despite the fact that Carol Miller’s campaign had significantly more money and the district heavily favored Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Ojeda’s backstory is an interesting one.  He’s a United States military veteran that has names of his fellow soldiers that died in battle tattooed on his back.  Ojeda felt compelled to run for public office upon his return from military duty, because he truly believed that many of the children in his hometown had it worse than the children in Afghanistan.  Ojeda is regarded as a progressive candidate.

Ojeda’s Policy Positions:

  • On Immigration:  Supports DACA and a pathway to citizenship.  Does not support a border wall with Mexico.
  • On Healthcare:  Supports a medicare for all system where every U.S. citizen, regardless of their employer or background, will be on the same healthcare plan.  Additionally, cracking down on “big pharma” is a major element of his campaign.
  • On Gun Control: Describes himself as “pro 2nd ammendment”, but also supports universal background checks and closing “gun show loopholes”.  Does not support an assault weapons ban.  Views mental health as a major factor in gun control.
  • On Abortion:  Position is unclear.  Describes himself as “pro-life”.  However, he recently stated on a TYT Network interview with Cenk Uygur that he supports a woman’s right to choose and that he’d like to increase planned parenthood spending.
  • On Campaign Finance:  Wants to get corporate and special interest money out of politics.  Has advocated for mandatory body cameras on lobbyists.  Has a unique pledge in his campaign asking that anyone elected to federal public office donate their entire net worth over $1 million to charity; once out of office, cap their annual income at $250k.


For additional information on Richard Ojeda and his presidential campaign, you can check out his website and YouTube channel:



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Suggestions of Racism Depicted in “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”

By Tony Knight

img_8321Like most people in America I’ve watched the Peanuts gang on TV and seen them at some point in the newspapers, but I never looked for much with respect to social injustice or racism.  It was just entertainment. Now there’s been a clamor in social media about the Peanuts franchise being racist against blacks, and a call to boycott it. Fair, or unfair? Let’s look at Peanuts as a whole and decide together.

Peanuts emerged in 1950, the brainchild of Charles Schulz, and it was both written and illustrated by him.  The strip centered around a group of kids who got along most times, sometimes not, and they seemed very relatable in that they were not without their trials.  They touched on themes such as anxiety, harsh realities of everyday life as a kid, and for this they developed a very successful brand. It might not enjoy the same successes it had decades ago, but it’s still an American icon.

It has recently been suggested that Charles Schulz was a racist because of a scene from img_8325“A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” which originally aired in 1973.  In this scene the show’s only black character, Franklin, was portrayed sitting alone on one side of table where a feast was planned. He was also in a “rickety old lawn chair” while four characters sat opposite of him on the other side.  Franklin’s chair eventually breaks as well, more racist attacks on Franklin? I think it’s important to get a historical context on Franklin to explore this.

1968 was an extremely volatile time in American history specifically pertaining to race relations.   Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated earlier in the year, and the very unpopular Vietnam was raging on.  Franklin came to be because of a letter writing campaign from concerned black individuals who were hoping to stem the tide of division in the country by including a black character in the Peanuts comic strip.  Schulz obliged with the inclusion of Peanut’s first regular black character, Franklin (yes, there were black characters depicted prior to Franklin’s introduction). He didn’t have to have a regular black character in the strip, but after much dialogue and reflection Schultz saw the wisdom and necessity of the move.  Schulz was a brave pioneer in facing reprisal himself for breaking the Peanuts color barrier in a social-political climate that in large part was not ready for this move. Famously he once threatened to quit when he received some push-back from United Features President Larry Rutman to change a scene showing Franklin’s integration into school.  

You might say Franklin was a shallow character who was only periodically featured, maybe subtle racism to marginalize blacks?  I’d have to disagree. Of all the Peanuts characters Franklin was the most “normal.” I know people on the left hate that word, but it’s fitting for Franklin.  He was a good student, a concerned and thoughtful friend, athletic, and rose above the other misfits in Peanuts whenever things turned odd – which was invariably.  Good-looking, clean cut, from a military family, a 4H club member, and he played an instrument. Hardly seems like Schulz was attacking the only black character in Peanuts.  Was Franklin a dynamic and exciting character? Sadly, no…but at least he wasn’t Pig-Pen!

So to sum up let’s get back to the table scene in “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.”  I’ve gone over and over this scene in my head, watched it a few more times, and for the life of me I can’t figure out why Franklin was on a side of the table opposite of 4 other Peanut’s characters – including a dog!  I wish I had a good answer for you, and I wish Schulz had addressed it as well but he never did. Schulz died on February 13, 2000, 27 years after the famous Thanksgiving table scene. I might be mistaken, but this is the first time anyone has really voiced the accusation that Schulz was a racist in seating Franklin alone on one side of a table.  So why the outrage now? That’s easy. There seems to be a small, noisy group of professional agitators who like making crises out of nothing. If no racism, sexism, agism, misogyny, or phobia exists they will conjure some up for you. It takes a real talent to decide what we as Americans should be outraged about and a dedicated army of social justice warriors to carry the banner of outrage for those who previously weren’t outraged.  Was this scene depicted the way it was because Schulz was a racist and wanted to segregate and insult blacks? I’d say emphatically no, despite the bizarre seating arrangement in that scene. Schulz’s life and works do not suggest he was a bigot.

My advice whenever someone waves the banner of faux outrage?  Examine the questions carefully. Don’t let people draw conclusions for you.  We are at a wonderful time in history when almost the entire sum of human knowledge is at our fingertips.  And if someone tries to divide you, or tell you why YOU should be mad at something, make an informed decision on your own.  We are meant to be more than sheep. Or if you want to be a sheep, make sure you’re following a Shephard and not a sheep herder.

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