As Washington State's Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell suggested last week, the phony GOP uproar over Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM)'s nomination by Joe Biden to become the first Native American Secretary of the U.S. Interior Department is a 'proxy fight' over something else entirely. It might be over the dim future for fossil fuels. It might be over the fact that Haaland would be the first indigenous cabinet member for any Presidential Administration in U.S. history. Or it might be the fact that the GOP, without any real governing philosophy or values, is simply flailing to find relevance. We discuss all of the above with our guest on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]
But first up today, some late breaking news following on our conversation on yesterday's show with Dr. Karl Krupp of the University of Arizona's Zuckerman College of Public Health. He argued that, while COVID numbers have (thankfully) fallen precipitously in recent weeks from our horrifically deadly surge in the Fall, we may now be on the verge of "screwing it up all over again." Both he and top federal officials at the CDC see the previously-declining numbers beginning to plateau and/or tick back up in recent days, as states and cities are, once again, prematurely lifting restrictions.
Late news today both supports his worry on one hand, and somewhat mitigates it, a little bit anyway, on the other. This afternoon President Biden announced that he has helped to broker a deal between Johnson & Johnson and Merck, the two pharmaceutical giants, to speed manufacture of J&J's newly-approved one-dose vaccine. Aided by his implementation of the Defense Production Act, he declared on Tuesday, the two companies, along with Pfizer and Moderna, will create enough vaccine for every American adult by the end of May. That is two months earlier than the Administration previously projected.
While that is certainly encouraging news, it is somewhat blunted by the idiot Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott's announcement today that, in direct contravention of warnings from scientists and federal health officials, the Lone Star State is immediately ending its statewide ask mandate and allowing all businesses to reopen to 100% capacity again. That, even as TX is still seeing about 7,600 new cases each day and averaged 227 COVID-19 deaths a day over the past week.
As Dr. Krupp warned on this program yesterday, we could see new record highs in the near future if we begin "screwing it up all over again". Both he and I, hoped his fears would be wrong. We'll find out soon enough.
In the meantime, Republicans continue to slow-walk top appointments to the Biden Administration, including his new head of Health and Human Services, despite the historic (and once again worsening) pandemic we are still battling. Clearly, Republicans don't care. But what they do care about is fossil fuel production by the companies which fund their campaigns. To that end, last week's confirmation hearings for Rep. Haaland in the U.S. Senate's Energy and Natural Resource Committee were both revealing and maddening, especially for those in the Native American community.
Members of Indian Country have been watching her grilling in dismay and occasional fury as the first Native American nominated to head up any Cabinet level federal agency was falsely derided during her confirmation hearings last week as a "radical," largely by white, male GOP Senators who are, themselves, radically out of touch with even their own constituents' desire for more renewable energy and less fossil fuel development. Louisiana's Sen. John Kennedy went so far as to deride Haaland as a "neo-socialist, left-of-Lenin whack job" (before attacking Biden's now-abandoned nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, for posting mean tweets some years ago.)
But are the almost-certainly futile attacks on the New Mexico Congresswoman about more than her not-radical-in-the-slightest position on fossil fuels? We're joined today by journalist, activist, and artist JULIAN BRAVE NOISECAT, Vice President of Policy & Strategy at Data for Progress, as well as a member of the Canim Lake Band Tsq'escen and descendant of the Lil'Wat Nation of Mount Currie. We discuss what lies behind the pathetic pushback against Haaland's nomination and why it is such a monumental moment for so many Native Americans around the nation.
NoiseCat has recently written about the pointless and embarrassing attacks on Haaland in her confirmation hearings at both The Nation and Washington Post, where he charged that "Republicans’ depiction of the first Native American ever nominated to the Cabinet as a 'radical' threat to a Western 'way of life' revealed something about the conservative id: a deep-seated fear that when the dispossessed finally attain a small measure of power, we will turn around and do to them what their governments and ancestors did to us."
We discuss all of that and more today with NoiseCat, who explains the horrendous historic role that Interior has held in the genocidal treatment of American Indians, and the important mission that it now carries out for all Americans, but especially those in the West. (It is also home to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.) "Never before in the history of Interior have we had a Native person on the other side of the desk," he tells me. "And I think Native tribes are very hopeful we can make some further headway in correcting the nation-to-nation relationship between the United States and its first peoples."
He also explains, by the way, why "Republicans might actually be burning their own wagon" in attacking Haaland.
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as hundreds of thousands in Abbott's "free" Texas are still fighting to obtain water, two weeks after a winter storm knocked out power and water in the Lone Star State; the battle for water for thousands in Jackson, Mississippi after the same storm; and the natural gas industry's desperate attempt to keep their aging empire from collapse...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)