Hello, everybody! For today’s article, I thought I’d highlight a truly terrific band that more people need to be aware of. And that band is known as Naxatras.
We are just under two months into 2018. This year has certainly had its ups and downs. These last two months have certainly been eventful. From Jennifer Anniston splitting with her husband, to Elon Musk’s Space X rocket launch, to the tragic Parkland shooting and everything in between, 2018 is shaping up to be one interesting year. After the somber tone of my last article, I decided to brighten the mood of the Wednesday articles a little and write about three things that have happened this year that made me smile (anyone who knows me knows how rare an occurrence that is).
I know, I was a little late jumping onto the Fortnite wave. However, I did finally jump on and I haven’t gotten off since. I started playing right around the new year. I can honestly say that Fortnite resurrected gaming for me. I hardly ever used my Xbox for anything other than Netflix until I started playing the game and now I play it almost every day. I’m going to paraphrase a tweet I saw a while back… Fortnite brought back the all night gaming with your friends, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Modern Warfare 2 days. Honestly, that is so true. Fortnite has undoubtedly made my 2018 better.
2. God’s Plan
In my 20 years of existence, I have never enjoyed a music video more than I enjoy the video for Drake’s “God’s Plan”. Something about seeing Drake give away the entire $996,631.90 budget the video made me extremely happy. As big a Drake fan as I already was, seeing this video made me like him that much more. Hopefully, more celebrities will follow I his footsteps and spread this kind of love in 2018.
1. The demand for stricter gun laws
Something great seems to be coming from the tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida. While the shooting itself was horrific and completely avoidable, students from the school have taken the opportunity to use the platform given to them by the shooting. They are demanding that the government take action to prevent anymore tragedies like this from ever happening again. Students, adults, and many lawmakers across the nation are calling for increased gun control measures. President Trump even signed a memo calling for the banning of bump stocks, which were used by the Las Vegas shooter who killed 58 in October of last year. While this is absolutely not enough, it shows that even the far right can be pushed to do the right thing if the people demand it. This could save a significant amount of lives. If real gun control measures are implemented in 2018, then that would be a revolutionary step in the betterment of society. Seeing the victims of the horrible tragedy rise to the occasion and call for change is one of the more empowering things I have ever seen.
2018 is sure to be an eventful year. I’m looking forward to seeing how this list changes as the year goes on.
Twitter: @ BigRedAFerg
By now, I would think that just about everyone is at least vaguely aware of what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. On the off chance that someone reading this is unaware, a gunman walked into the school and opened fire with an AR-15 assault rifle, killing 17 people and injuring many more. I feel that it is necessary to address this senseless tragedy. There are certainly people who think that this is the wrong time to talk about what happened and what needs to be done to stop it. I completely understand this viewpoint because children being slaughtered in our nation’s schools is an uncomfortable topic. However, there will never be a “right” time to discuss something like this. It will always be uncomfortable. Mid-American Culture has given me a platform with which to express myself in an uncensored, honest, and very personal way. I am going to use this platform to give my thoughts on the situation as honestly and directly as I possibly can.
I was just over one year old when Dylan Harris and Eric Klebold opened fire on the students at Columbine High School in 1999. The events at Columbine were horrific. News of the shooting dominated the media for weeks and weeks afterward. For the most part, Americans had never experienced something like that before. The thought that children attending school might have to find themselves under attack by deranged gunmen was unprecedented. Citizens and politicians alike were determined to never let anything like this happen again. This, of course, was not what happened. Since Columbine, there have been 25 fatal school shootings in the United States. Myself and my generation have grown up in the era of mass shootings. Politicians have made countless attempts and empty promises regarding the prevention of gun violence during my lifetime. As what happened in Florida clearly shows, nothing has helped. Nothing has helped at all. Many lawmakers aren’t even trying to solve the problem anymore. But, at least we have their thoughts and prayers.
While all mass shootings are obviously horrendous, school shootings hit especially close to home for me. I am a 20 year old college student studying to be a high school teacher. During my first semester of college, I was in an entry level class for education majors. One day, we did not do any work in this class. Instead, the chief of the campus police came to talk to us. The topic was mass shootings. He gave my class some background about mass shootings and what to do in the event of a shooting on campus and things like that. After he left, the woman who taught the class had a conversation with us that I will never forget for the rest of my life. She pointed out the frequency with which school shootings occur in the United States and the undeniable possibility that we, as future teachers, might have to face an active shooter situation one day. She addressed the importance of protecting students at all costs in these situations. We discussed teachers who had given their lives trying to protect students in these situations. I came to the disheartening realization that protecting students from gunfire had become part of the curriculum for those studying to be teachers. Gun violence in our country should never have reached the point where teachers have to be taught how to shield their students from bullets. But, here we are. Some people even take it a step further and say that teachers should carry guns in every school throughout the country. They really think that teachers should be expected to prepare themselves to kill an active shooter, who in many cases would be a student from the very school in which they teach) at a moment’s notice. If those in the field of education wanted to carry a gun and shoot bad guys, they would have entered the field of law enforcement or maybe joined the military. That is not what teachers got into the profession to do. They want to teach. The fact that a teacher having a handgun in his or her desk to fight off an attacker armed with an AR-15 is the best idea that many of our nation’s leaders have for preventing these shootings is sickening. But, at least we have their thoughts and prayers.
As more facts about the school shooting have become available, one thing is increasingly clear: This could have been prevented. Florida has some of the least strict gun laws in the country. Buying an AR-15 rifle is as simple as walking into a gun store, filling out a small form, not having a felony record, being over 18 years old, paying for the gun, and walking out with it. Stricter laws about the sale of firearms very well could have prevented this. In September of 2017, a YouTube user under the username Nikolas Cruz commented that he was going to “become a professional school shooter”. The FBI received a tip about the comment but nothing ever came of it. On February 14, 2018, a 19 year old man named Nikolas Cruz walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School carrying a legally purchased AR-15 rifle and unloaded “countless magazines” of ammo into the students and faculty of the school. President Trump stressed the importance of reporting potential threats to law enforcement after the shooting. What he apparently fails to realize is that Nikolas Cruz was reported to authorities. Under President Obama, regulations were put in place designed to prevent people who are identified as potentially having mental illness that could lead to this kind of attack from purchasing firearms. Critics of gun-control argue that if gun-control laws work, this should have prevented the shooter, who was said to have been known for erratic behavior, from getting a gun. The question is valid. Why didn’t this stop the tragedy in Florida? It is because President Trump signed a bill revoking these mental health checks in late February of last year. In the last few years, the Republican controlled Congress has voted against several pieces of gun-control legislation. Any number of these failed laws could have prevented this attack. But ultimately, Congress gave us no such laws. Fortunately for us, they were courteous enough to offer us their thoughts and prayers.
When I write for this site, particularly about politics, I try to write with as little bias as possible. But, given the circumstances, I am going to admit my bias here. I am biased against mass shooters, the deadly assault weapons many of them use, and the people who do nothing to prevent these attacks. I am biased against the gun lobby who is indirectly responsible for the deadly gun violence epidemic in our country. I am biased against every single politician who takes money from the gun lobby in exchange for pro-gun votes because they find the sound of campaign contributions to be louder than the screams of dying children will ever be. I am biased against the law in the United States that prevents the CDC from researching the national epidemic of gun violence because the NRA against such research. In 1996, Australia was struck by a senseless mass shooting, the likes of which it had never seen. Just weeks afterward, the country enacted some of the strictest gun laws in the world. It banned certain types of firearms and the government bought the firearms back from its citizens as compensation for their loss. There has not been a mass shooting in Australia since. Gun control laws work. When something tragic happens, whether it be drunk driving deaths, workplace accidents, mass shootings, or whatever the case may be, the answer is not to give up. The answer is certainly not to try to solve the problem by introducing more of what caused the problem to begin with. The answer is to eliminate what is causing the problem. Until our government acts, the epidemic of gun violence will not stop. The American people have demanded it in the past. Instead, they were given thoughts and prayers.
I found myself slightly optimistic that real change could occur after the Florida school shooting. The aftermath of the tragedy feels different. People are calling for real change. Our leaders seem passionate about preventing violence from striking again. It did not take long for me to lose this optimism. I remembered how different things felt after the Las Vegas shootings. I remembered how different things felt after the Pulse Nightclub shootings. I remembered how different things felt after the San Bernardino shootings. I remember watching one of my greatest heroes, President Barack Obama, crying after the Sandy Hook shootings. The defeated look on his face said it all. Despite his best efforts, and the efforts of many others, he couldn’t bring about the kind of change that this country needs when it comes to guns. No change will come until the American people demand it. Not everyone will wants to hear this, but thoughts and prayers will not do a damn thing to stop these atrocities. I will not apologize for saying that. I will not apologize for pushing my radically liberal stance of wanting less dead schoolchildren in America. Nobody should ever apologize for saying what is right. The time has come for change. The time is now. Demand it.
This week’s events have many people yearning for new leadership in the United States. The combination of President Trump’s controversial comments about immigrants coming to the United States from “shithole countries” and the false-alarm missile alert in Hawaii, paired with the other recent missteps of the current administration have many, from both sides of the political spectrum, looking to the 2020 presidential elections. The following is a list of the 10 candidates I believe are best equipped to take on Donald Trump in 2020.
Spoiler Alert: The Rock and Oprah are not on this list.
Sherrod Brown-Democratic Senator from Ohio who was strongly considered to be Hillary Clinton’s running-mate in 2016
Tim Kaine- Democratic Senator from Virginia who actually was Hillary Clinton’s running-mate in 2016
Terry McAuliffe- Democratic Governor from Virginia who would most likely have the strong support of the Clintons due to their close relationship
10. Gavin Newsom
Probably the most unknown person on this list, Gavin Newsom is the Lieutenant Governor of California. Newsom is currently the frontrunner to replace term-limited Governor Jerry Brown in 2018. Brown would also be on this list if not for his age (Brown will be 82 on Election Day in 2020). Prior to being elected Lieutenant Governor, Newsom served as Mayor of San Francisco. During his tenure as mayor, Newsom established himself as a major advocate for gay rights by directing the city clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite this being a violation of California state law at the time. Additionally, Newsom has strongly supported gun-control laws, led the charge for recreational marijuana legalization in the state, called for the establishment of “sanctuary cities” in California, and helped facilitate the addition of computer science to the core curriculum in California schools. Newsom’s strong liberal positions on many issues have garnered him a strong endorsement from liberal pundit and comedian Bill Maher. On several occasions, Maher has declared his support for Newsom and urged him to throw his name into the 2020 race. Also worth mentioning is Newsom’s charisma and overall appeal, the likes of which have arguably not been seen since the days of the Kennedys. The man radiates a presidential aura. The speech given by the relatively unknown Newsom at the 2016 Democratic Convention is comparable to the one given by then unknown Illinois State Senator Barack Obama at the 2004 Democratic Convention, which has been credited with leading to the election of Barack Obama in 2008. If he runs, Newsom will be my candidate. He ranks so low on this list solely due to his lack of national exposure and the fact that it is unclear if Newsom has any real interest in running in 2020. If he decides not to run this time, I would wager that his name will come up again in 2024 or 2028.
9. A Moderate Republican
Donald Trump is not the most popular man, even within his own party. There is a huge possibility that he will face a conservative challenger, either in the form of a primary challenge or a third party bid. Attempting to defeat Trump by appealing to the right wing of the right wing party would be foolish, as that is the core of President Trump’s support. Therefore, a moderate Republican would be best equipped to challenge Trump from within the party. Of the potential candidates, my personal favorite is Ohio Governor John Kasich. A two-term governor, Kasich has reached his term limit and can’t seek reelection in 2018. The obvious next step is another shot at the presidency. Kasich was more successful than nearly any of his Republican peers when he ran in 2016. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is also a strong contender. Romney is rumored to be preparing to seek election to a Utah Senate seat. Many, including myself, believe this is in preparation for another Presidential run. Other potential Republican challengers include Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, and Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Each of these individuals have criticized Trump in the past and have the national name recognition required to stage a successful run.
8. Deval Patrick
Another relative unknown, Deval Patrick is the former Governor of Massachusetts, being the only African-American to ever hold this office. Prior to his time as Governor, Patrick served as United States Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division during the Clinton Administration. As Governor, Patrick oversaw healthcare reform in Massachusetts, increased funding for education, pushed for gun control laws, created the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, and supported legislation which allowed casino gaming in his state. Despite his immense background in public service, most do not believe Patrick is interested in running for President. However, Patrick makes this list mainly because he is believed to have the support of one prominent Democrat: President Barack Obama. Reports have suggested that member’s of President Obama’s inner-circle and even the former president himself are urging Patrick to run in 2020. An endorsement from President Obama is enough to skyrocket anyone to the main stage of the Democratic race and no one, excluding one other person, has as good a chance to receive that as Deval Patrick.
7. Seth Moulton
Seth Moulton is the Congressman from the Massachusetts 6th District. Moulton is a decorated Marine Corps veteran and a graduate of Harvard University. He identifies himself as a progressive Democrat and has the issues record to prove it. Moulton admits to using and supports the legalization of marijuana, favors stronger gun control laws, and firmly defends both same-sex marriage and abortion rights. Moulton is also staunchly anti-Trump, comparing the President’s rise to power to that of Adolf Hitler. Immediately following Trump’s election, advisors to Moulton began urging him to challenge the new President-elect in 2020. Moulton is somewhat of a controversial figure in the Democratic Party, due to his support of removing current Democratic leadership, in favor of younger Democrats, such as himself. Moulton is the youngest person on this this, being 42 on Election Day in 2020. Moulton brings a young, progressive voice to the potential field in 2020, making him a very interesting candidate.
6. Cory Booker
Cory Booker is the junior Senator from New Jersey, being the first African-American Senator from the state. Prior to being elected to the United States Senate, Booker served as the Mayor of Newark. Booker has been identified as being fiscally-conservative and socially-progressive. This has led to him being heavily criticized by the left wing of the Democratic Party. However, Booker is still one of the party’s most prominent members. Booker supports single-payer healthcare, abortion rights, affirmative action, and opposes the War on Drugs. recently, Booker vigorously criticized the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Neilsen for claiming to not remember whether or not President Trump had made racist remarks about predominantly black countries. The video is absolutely worth watching if you haven’t seen it. Ever since Barack Obama’s election in 2008, Booker’s name has been mentioned as a future presidential candidate. While he ultimately decided against running in 2016, all signs point to Booker running in 2020.
5. Kamala Harris
Kamala Harris is the junior Senator from the state of California. Prior to her election to the United States Senate, Harris served as the Attorney General of California. Harris possessed a rating of 100% from NARAL, a pro-choice group, as well as an F rating from the NRA, due to her vigorous support of gun control legislation. Harris co-sponsored Bernie Sanders’ single-payer healthcare bill, known as the “Medicare for All” bill. Harris has a strong record of opposing the death penalty, dating back to her days as District Attorney of San Francisco. Harris also advocates for strong environmental laws and their vigorous enforcement. During her time as DA, Harris established the Environmental Justice Unit in San Francisco’s District Attorney’s Office and prosecuted several corporations and individuals for crimes against the environment. Her extremely strong credentials, as well as her hypothetical ability to win her immensely important home state of California make Kamala Harris a strong contender for the Presidency in 2020.
4. Kirsten Gillibrand
Kirsten Gillibrand is the junior Senator from New York. Gillibrand was appointed to the United States Senate by then Governor David Paterson, replacing former Senator Hillary Clinton, who had been nominated to become President Obama’s Secretary of State. Gillibrand won reelection to the Senate with 72.2% of the vote, which is the largest victory in a statewide election in New York history. Gillibrand has a phenomenal record on women’s issues. As a Senator, she proposed legislation that would remove sexual assault cases from the military chain of command. This was intended to prevent the covering up of sexual assaults in the military. Although the legislation did not ultimately pass, it did establish her as an advocate for women across the nation. Gillibrand was the first member of her caucus to call for the resignation of Democratic Senator Al Franken, following accusations of sexual assault. Additionally, Gillibrand made waves in the media when she said that former President Bill Clinton should have resigned following the accusations of sexual assault made against him. Gillibrand is also a supporter of abortion rights. Gillibrand was very pro-gun during her time in the US House of Representatives, although her position has since shifted slightly since her joining the Senate. Gillibrand has become increasingly critical of the Trump Administration, leading to her rise to prominence on the national stage. The general belief is that Gillibrand is preparing to challenge Trump in 2020, and that she will be one of the frontrunners in the Democratic primary.
3. Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders is the Independent Senator from Vermont. In 2016, Bernie Sanders changed Democratic politics. The Bernie Movement energized the liberal wing of the Democratic Party in ways that had never been seen before. Millennials overwhelmingly supported the Democratic Socialist over the other candidates in 2016. The left wing of the Democratic Party seemingly became the majority. Sanders’ support for free college education, single-payer healthcare, legalization of marijuana, and many other hot button liberal issues led to his rapid rise in popularity. No candidate on this list is as progressive as Sanders. He boasts a nearly 75% approval rating, making him the most popular politician in America. Even former Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner went as far as to call Sanders “the most honest guy who ran for president” in an interview with POLITICO. Sanders appears to be gearing up for another run at the presidency. He has been strengthening his foreign policy credentials, which was seen as his greatest weakness in 2016. Additionally, Sanders has continued to tour the country, drawing immense crowds to hear him speak. Age, however, is not Bernie’s friend. Sanders will be 78 in 2020. If he were 10 years younger, Sanders would without question be atop the list of potential candidates and would almost certainly be a lock to win the nomination, given his popularity. Despite the age issue, Sanders is still viewed as the most likely nominee for 2020, and is still near the top of this list.
2. Joe Biden
Joe Biden is the former Vice President and US Senator from Delaware. Biden served as Vice President to the immensely popular Democratic President Barack Obama. Biden was viewed as a favorite to win the Democratic nomination in 2016, although he decided not to run following the death of his son, Beau Biden. Since then, Biden has expressed nothing but regret about not running. He has been a vocal critic of Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 campaign. Many, including political pundits, Republican Senator Ben Sasse, and Biden himself believe that he would have destroyed Donald Trump if he had decided to run in 2016. This belief has a lot of merit. Biden appeals to blue-collar white voters in the ways that both Clinton and Sanders didn’t. Biden would have almost certainly maintained and expanded upon the policies of the Obama Administration. If Biden had simply maintained the base of support that Obama had in 2008 and 2012, he would have easily defeated Trump. Reports from the Trump Administration suggest that Biden is the candidate of whom Trump is the most afraid. The biggest issue with Biden now is his age. Similar to Sanders, Biden will be 77 in 2020. However, Biden has refused to rule out a run, and has even hinted at its possibility. He would be a frontrunner for the nomination in 2020 if he chose to seek it.
1. Elizabeth Warren
Elizabeth Warren is the senior Senator from Massachusetts. Prior to being recruited to run for the United States Senate, Warren taught law at Harvard University. Warren was heavily speculated to be Hillary Clinton’s running mate in 2016, although that role ultimately went to Tim Kaine. Warren is a champion of progressive policies. Her views are most comparable to those of Bernie Sanders. She supports single-payer healthcare, abortion rights, gun control, and other liberal positions. Warren sits on several congressional committees. She is arguably the most prominent member of the Democratic Party. She has been a vocal critic of the Trump Administration from its beginning. President Trump began firing back at Warren, referring to her as “Pocahontas.” This being a racial slur aimed at her Native American ancestry. As a target of Trump’s immaturity and bigotry, Warren is the perfect candidate to run against him in 2020. The big question is whether or not Warren will run. While she is arguably the current leader in the race, many believe that she will not run if Bernie Sanders does. This makes sense considering their positions on the issues align so well. They would only split the progressive wing of the party if they were both to run. However, in the event she does run, Elizabeth Warren is the strongest candidate to end the Trump presidency in 2020.
Personally, I believe that each of these candidates would make fine Presidents. As I stated above, Gavin Newsom is my favorite. I firmly believe he is the future of the Democratic Party. However, I believe that the strongest ticket in 2020 would consist of one of my top three picks with Newsom as their running mate. This would allow a high profile Democrat to win the Presidency in 2020, and would set Newsom up as the party’s presumptive nominee in 2024 or 2028.
While this article is not the kind of article I would traditionally write, I belive that it is important to inform as many people as possible about the potential leaders of our country and to help them make an informed decision when voting. I hope to write more about these potential candidates as 2020 draws closer. If I help even just one person make a more informed choice in voting, I have done exactly what I set out to do.
We are living in a time of great social change. Almost undoubtedly, America is a more tolerant, progressive place than ever before. It is now easier than ever than it has ever been to speak out about injustices such as racism and sexual misconduct. Inevitably, it has led to many prominent individuals, businesses, and institutions being put on blast by the general public for offenses such as these. While one would be hard pressed to find anyone who believes that increased sexual assault awareness and greater pressure for racial acceptance are bad things, they do create, in some capacity, a moral dilemma in almost everyone. I consistently find myself asking, “Do the reprehensible actions of these people make it wrong to appreciate and enjoy the things they create?”
The most recent example that I can cite, as of writing this article, is the retailer H&M. For anyone who is unaware of the situation, H&M was selling a children’s hoodie with the phrase “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” on the chest. On the surface, this seems innocent enough. I, myself, was frequently called “monkey” as a child by some of the adults in my life. However, further context reveals a much darker side to the story. The child modeling the hoodie is black. In contrast, a white child could be seen found modeling a different sweatshirt, reading “Mangrove Jungle Survival Expert.” The staggeringly different portrayal of these children is clearly problematic. Musical artists The Weeknd and G-Eazy, both collaborative partners of H&M, have both cut ties with the brand following the incident. Countless individuals have called for a boycott of the brand. But is that the right thing to do? Possibly. However, the moral issue is much bigger, and expands far beyond the fashion industry and H&M.
Picture this: You are at a party. Ignition (remix) comes on. Naturally, mamas are rolling their bodies and every man in there is wishin’. This reaction is to be expected because the song is absolutely iconic. Unfortunately, something else must be considered. Ignition (remix) is a song by R. Kelly. R. Kelly has been accused of sexual misconduct (including behavior directed at minors) on numerous occasions. Does this take away from the cultural value of the art he creates? Should his music be vigorously boycotted?
Another scenario: You’re browsing through Netflix, looking for a new series to watch. You stumble upon House of Cards. The intense political drama hooks you immediately. Frank Underwood’s corrupt rise to power is one of the greatest examples of storytelling ever to be put on television. But then you realize the unfortunate reality. Series lead Kevin Spacey allegedly committed heinous sexual acts against a young boy. It is also alleged that he harassed male workers on the set of House of Cards. Do Spacey’s reprehensible acts mean that the sensational story of House of Cards shouldn’t be seen? Do the things he did invalidate the cultural phenomenon that the show was?
These are all incredibly difficult questions. I certainly don’t have a good enough answer. Like most, I find the actions discussed in this article to be repulsive. But, R. Kelly still makes wonderful music. He has been selling out arenas for over twenty years. Clearly, I am an immense fan of House of Cards and it is loved by a vast number of people. H&M still makes affordable, trendy clothing worn by millions, including myself. The moral dilemma created within millions, including me and many of you reading this, has been a cause of conflict for decades. Cultural icons of yesterday and today, as well as the icons of tomorrow, have done bad things. Obviously, opinions have been formed on all of them. However, even those who have the strongest opinions on these matters seem to be at least slightly hypocritical. Many of us struggle to identify where to draw the line between art that is to be appreciated and things that we find morally repulsive.
Ultimately, it is up to each individual to decide what they will and won’t watch, listen to, buy, etc. Additionally, it is on them to decide why they will or won’t do these things. It is also their responsibility to recognize the hypocrisy in blasting one problematic entity while simultaneously supporting another. The problems cited addressed in this piece are just a few out of many. They will almost certainly be an issue which plagues popular culture for a long time moving forward. H&M is not the problem; nor is R. Kelly, Kevin Spacey, or any other individual. They are merely symptoms of a culture that has condoned these types of problems for far too long. While what H&M did is unacceptable, do not forget to target the culture as a whole if you are going to target them.
Last week, I predicted the final standings for each division in the MLB for this upcoming season. I thought it was pretty fun, so I decided I’d go ahead and predict the postseason as well. So, let’s get to it!