As usual, there is nothing but fantastic news on today's BradCast! (Okay, maybe that's not entirely true. But the caller segment was lively!) [Audio link to full show is at the end of this summary.]
Among the stories covered and/or referenced today...
- Don't be fooled by those claims that Omicron may be "less severe" than previous variants of the coronavirus, or that it only causes "mild" symptoms in most people. As of Monday, according to Reuters, the U.S. broke its all-time COVID hospitalization record, as hospitals are once again forced to cancel elective procedures while Omicron surges. Cases, hospitalizations and, yes, deaths are all rising, with deaths now averaging about 1,700/day (up from 1,400/day just a few days ago --- and nearing the height of the Delta surge just weeks ago.) The vaccinated are still FAR less likely to be infected, hospitalized or killed.
- A new study released Monday from Europe's Copernicus Climate Change Service finds the last seven years have been the hottest on record globally, with 2021 coming in as the fifth warmest year ever recorded.
- And the U.S. isn't helping. We're going the wrong way. Another new study published on Monday, from the Rhodium Group, finds that American greenhouse gas emissions from energy and industry rose 6.2% in 2021. In order to meet our commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement (and President Biden's goal of lowering U.S. emissions 50% below 2005 levels by 2030, and reach net-zero by 2050 --- not to mention, to try and save humanity), we need to decrease emissions by at least 5% each year. That said, 2021 could have been worse. One reason for the increase in 2021 was the unprecedented 10% decrease in emissions fueling man-made climate change in 2020, during the pandemic lockdowns. We're still below 2019 levels, for what it's worth. But we need to do much better. And quickly.
- The Build Back Better Act would help that! It would, among many other transformative things, make an unprecedented historic investment in speeding the transition in the U.S. from dangerous, dirty fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy. But with that bill stalled in the Senate for now, thanks almost entirely to obstructionist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-coal industry), Dems are pivoting back to voting rights and election protection legislation this week in advance of next week's Martin Luther King Day holiday. But, of course, to pass the critical Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, they will still need to reform the filibuster, since the Republican Party is now radically opposed to voting rights and democracy. And to reform the filibuster to protect democracy, Manchin and obstructionist Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Kyrsten Sinema) will have to agree to play along. Good luck with that, Dems! (Seriously. Good luck!)
- But whether Dems successfully reform elections or not, unless those who tried to steal the 2020 Presidential election in broad daylight are held criminally accountable, they will almost certainly try to do it again in the near future. And this time they'll be better prepared. Last week at The Guardian, Sidney Blumenthal offered a fascinating, detailed report on both the January 6th insurrection and the year-long attempted coup that got us there. The dunderheads and dupes that were hoaxed into storming the U.S. Capitol were, as Blumenthal reports, merely "the tip of the iceberg". The insurrection was, he explains, merely the end result of a year-long attempt to carry out a coup to steal the election, as organized by Koch Network-funded activist and legal groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), and the secretive rightwing Council on National Policy (CNP). Those groups plotted hand-in-glove with state and federal public officials in Congress, at Trump's DoJ, at the Pentagon and, of course, at the White House itself. And yet, nobody other than the dupes and dunderheads have yet been charged by the Dept. of Justice for one of the greatest attempted crimes in U.S. history.
During the holidays, our guest host Nicole Sandler interviewed longtime independent investigative journalist Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel, who has been tracking the DoJ's probe and indictments of insurrectionists --- as well as the higher-ups who plotted the year-long coup attempt --- as close as anyone. Wheeler argued that those who have been critical of Attorney General Merrick Garland for not doing enough to date (including us!) haven't been paying close enough attention. She explained how the House Select Committee on the January 6 attack is working from the top-down and how DoJ (who, don't forget, raided Giuliani's home, office, computers and telephones soon after Biden took office and is still working through those documents) is working from the bottom-up. Wheeler details that both probes may almost be at the same place now, just a step or two away from Donald Trump himself.
Moreover, during remarks last week at the DoJ to commemorate the first anniversary of the 1/6 attack and the subsequent largest investigation in the Department's history, Garland explained: "The Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6th perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law --- whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy. We will follow the facts wherever they lead."
So, with all of that in mind, should we feel better about what Garland and the DoJ are now up to? We open the phones to listeners to get a sense of exactly that...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)