Category Archives: Politics

GOP’s Pappas warns that judges see themselves as ‘gods’

By Fatima Rivera Gomez

McFarland, CA

When Anthony Pappas, the Republican candidate for Congress in New York’s 14th congressional district, appeared at a press conference at Fordham University on Wednesday, journalists initially spoke over him because they did not realize he was the candidate they were waiting for.

Pappas is running against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is expected to win the election this November in the heavily Democratic district, which covers parts of the Bronx and Queens. Wearing an untucked, button-front short-sleeve shirt and tattered khaki pants, Pappas—an economics professor at St. John’s University—began the press conference by asking the reporters how they would have felt if they had been sterilized. He then wrote a few words on the whiteboard including: “tubal ligation,” “fallopian tubes,” and “testicles.”

In the midst of some confusion in the room, Pappas explained Stump v. Sparkman, a 1978 case in which a woman sued the judge who ordered her to undergo a non-consensual tubal ligation when she was 15 years old. On the verge of tears, he pulled a towel from his bag in reference to a book about the case, The Blanket She Carried. The towel symbolized the baby the woman could not have, he said.

The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which set an important precedent by ruling that judges are immune from being sued. In a packet handed out during the press conference, Pappas wrote “OVERTURN STUMP V. SPARKMAN, the worst decision in the 20th century by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Pappas’ congressional platform centers on criminal and justice reform and an end to judges being immune from prosecution. “Judges are above the law. They can make decisions that are retaliatory, against the law, against the facts, deliberately false and they cannot be sued,” Pappas said.

He also believes that he is a victim of the court system himself, after a divorce in which his wife accused him of domestic abuse—an accusation he denies. A court decision Pappas distributed showed he had spent more than $592,000 on his divorce.

At one point, Pappas described himself as a Theodore Roosevelt figure for Republicans. When asked about his opponent, Pappas said that Ocasio-Cortez is an energetic and sincere person, adding that he expects that she will win the election.

Coleman challenger says he is ‘open to anything’

By Tammie Clark

Detroit, MI

New Jersey Republican congressional candidate Daryl Kipnis is “open to anything” to help people who are in need. In his race in the 12th Congressional District, a Democratic stronghold, he’s emphasizing his moderate platform in an effort to appeal to both liberal and conservative voters.

Kipnis said in a news conference at Princeton University earlier this month that the district’s current representative, Democrat Bonnie Watson Coleman, blindly votes against any policies proposed by Republicans without considering what would be best for New Jersey residents. When asked about his qualifications that would set him apart from Coleman, he only continued to discredit Coleman’s credentials.

Kipnis also discussed the high cost of living in New Jersey and proposed creating a “rainy day” account that could help residents undergoing various financial hardships, like losing your job, or car trouble. “My focus is what’s going on in your life and how I can help you,” he said.

While he was not immediately open to raising the minimum wage, he did not seem entirely opposed to the idea.

“If the minimum wage is just too low,” he said, “then a conversation can be held to see where it could go.” He repeated that he was “open to anything” because he could see how an underprivileged family might suffer from applying to his “rainy day” account if their income and saved funds were too low.

Unlike a typical Republican, Kipnis tread lightly on the issue of immigration to appeal to Democrats. He said he was open to immigration, and doesn’t believe in mass deportation.

“The ceremony of becoming a citizen is amazing,” he said.

Kipnis said that the cost of obtaining documents for the legalization process should be reduced because it could cost more than $700 for the application fee and background check to cover the application for naturalization. However, Kipnis was not open to accepting all immigrants, going as far as categorizing some immigrants as “good” or “bad.” 

“It’s not my place to tell people what to do,” said Kipnis with regard to abortion. Kipnis added that he would not let his personal views or religion get in the way of deciding how to handle the issue.

Trump’s rhetoric is harmful, reporters say

By Kayla Ricumstrict

Detroit, MI

Though journalists are facing higher levels of mistrust and physical intimidation, two journalists say their work feels more important than ever.

In talks at The Princeton Summer Journalism Program, Gabriel Debenedetti of New York Magazine and Megan Garber of The Atlantic spoke to a small group of student journalists about the problems facing journalists in the age of Trump.

Criticism is a part of the job for journalists, but Trump’s words have made it worse. “The failing New York Times and the Amazon Washington Post do nothing but write bad stories, even on very positive achievements,” the president wrote in a recent tweet, “and they will never change!”

For some reporters, this mistrust has turned into intimidation—and even violence. At a recent Trump rally, a woman gave CNN reporters the finger. Verbal attacks and offensive gestures are only two of a number of issues journalists have to face. “I know a lot of political writers who’ve felt under physical threat,” said Debenedetti, who covers politics for New York. “That is not something we should get used to, and we should not just say ‘that’s just okay, that’s just what it is.’ We shouldn’t have to deal with that.”

Garber, the Atlantic staff writer, agreed. “There is a feeling of fear, I have to say, among journalists,” she said. “People will feel entitled to send me all kinds of terrible feedback, and I think that’s a very common experience for women. I’m pretty sure it’s worse for women of color.”

Intolerance for women and people of color is also a problem within the newsroom, said Garber. That has weakened the public’s trust in journalists because many people don’t see their stories represented. “Journalism has been a profession dominated by white men,” said Garber. “I think people now are responding to that narrowness by resenting journalism overall, but I don’t think that’s fair.” Despite that, Garber is excited to see more diversity. “We are getting more and more people into journalism, more and more voices,” she said. Those people are “able to share their own experiences to tell the stories of people whose stories weren’t always told before.”

Underdog congressional candidate demands reform of judiciary

By Emiliano Davalos

Chicago, IL

Republican Congressional candidate Anthony Pappas—who is running against Democratic rising star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York’s 14th congressional district—showed up to his very first press conference with documents of his divorce along with a towel in his bag.

To start the press conference, he quietly lectured 40 student journalists from The Princeton Summer Journal about a case in which a young person was sterilized, scribbling the words “fallopian tubes” and “testicles” on the chalkboard behind him. He then argued that judges were allowing such tragedies to happen. He held out his towel to depict how a mother might hold up a child, and explained a court case in which a woman, at the age of 15, had been unknowingly sterilized—while being falsely told that the surgery was to remove her appendix. “Judges are above the law,” he said, explaining that he was fixated on reforming the judicial system.

In a district where Democrats hold a 6-to-1 majority, Pappas is running without much support from the local or national Republican party. He devoted the majority of his press conference to discussing his 2009 divorce and arguing that the judiciary system is corrupt. At one point in the press conference, Pappas asked someone in the room to validate the legitimacy of documents from his divorce proceeding. These documents alleged that he had committed domestic violence, resulting in the need for reconstructive surgery for his wife.

Although Pappas believes that not all judges are corrupt, he sees his divorce as part of a systemic problem. “We are gods, you can’t question us,” he said, characterizing the attitude of judges. He alleged that the judge on the case had “threatened retaliation on me” and “hallucinated that I committed a major crime.”

Not all people who win elections are experienced politicians, so why, you might ask, can’t an eccentric-seeming candidate who has just held his first press conference manage to become a congressman? Then again, in a heavily Democratic district, Pappas faces long odds, and his opponent’s campaign appears confident. Ocasio-Cortez’s senior advisor, Saikat Chakrabarti—who held a press conference with The Princeton Summer Journal following Pappas’s appearance—put it this way: “I think she is going to win.”