It's a very green BradCast today, but don't let that scare you away from hearing Bernie Sanders shout "DUUUHHH!" at Anderson Cooper. [Audio link to show follows below.]
As the twisted Trump Administration is attempting this week to roll back helpful regulations that enforce a bipartisan statute adopted in 2007 under George W. Bush that has saved millions of dollars for Americans while reducing vast amounts of greenhouse gas emissions by lowering energy bills and usage with more efficient light bulbs, Democratic 2020 Presidential contenders had a few other ideas this week. In a first of its kind, town hall devoted to solutions to our global Climate Crisis, the ten current top contenders for the Democratic nomination --- Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, Andrew Yang, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro and Cory Booker --- were granted 40 minutes a piece by CNN to answer questions and discuss their plans in a marathon 7-hour televised event on Wednesday night.
The result, as discussed today on the program with one of our favorite, if usually very cynical energy and climate journalists, DAVID ROBERTS of Vox.com, was surprisingly engaging and informative! "I will say that what happened was a thousand times better than a debate would have been," Roberts argues, citing the DNC's refusal to allow a single-issue debate focused solely on climate, while allowing for forums such as CNN's where candidates do not appear on the same stage at the same time.
"A climate debate when they only had 30 seconds at a time would have been a shallow, ridiculous show. This event turned out a thousand times better than I expected it to be," he tells me. "I expected a super-boring cliché fest, a bunch of shallow questions and shallow, cliché answers. 'Global warming is real.', 'We need to rejoin the Paris Agreement.' While the moderators varied in quality --- and Wolf Blitzer remains an embarrassment to cable news and to humanity --- overall, it was incredibly substantive and serious, beyond my expectations. I loved it."
We do our best today to make sense of the 7-hour event given the difficulty of doing so in the time available, which seems to somewhat mirror the difficulty of taking on climate change as a whole and the difficulty candidates have in articulating meaningful answers as they attempt (some more effectively than others) to overcome the difficulty of answering questions framed by the media to reflect rightwing and/or fossil fuel industry talking points.
Roberts offers his thoughts on both the successes and failures of the CNN anchors, the candidates responses, and on the often incredibly smart and insightful questions posed by audience members. Those, he describes with delight, were often far more substantive than the questions posed by the "professionals".
As to the actual substance of how to tackle the climate crisis as offered by candidates at the forum, we discuss their thoughts on how and if nuclear energy must play a part in solutions to the climate crisis; how some of the candidates pushed back on the idea that solutions must involve painful personal sacrifice (no, driving electric cars is not a sacrifice. "We are all going to love driving our electric cars!," Yang had to explain, over and again, to Blitzer); how government mandates already effect our food supply (often, adversely, thanks to corporate, profit-driven control of government institutions); whether the Senate filibuster must be dissolved in order to ever see real action that meets the existential challenges posed by global warming; and how candidates for office must reframe so many of these issues when discussing them with public and media, given years of corporate misframing adopted by media and politicians on the left and right alike (though especially on the right).
By way of one example, in response to Yang's comment on electric cars and Blitzer's harangue, Roberts notes: "That's the whole point about electric cars --- they're better! They're more fun to drive, they operate better, they accelerate faster, they need fewer repairs. This notion that it's all sacrifice is just what Republicans want. That's how Republicans want to frame the discussion. That's how they've wanted and attempted to frame every discussion about environmental policy going back four or five decades now. That's why it's sunk in in cable news land so much. They hear that from Republicans --- who they feature on their shows disproportionately --- all the time, so it just sinks in as a kind of background assumption. But it's absurd!"
We discuss all of that and much more, including Roberts' observations --- and often delightfully snarky views --- on which candidates excelled during the town hall and which ones too often fell for the bait offered by some of the CNN moderators.
Finally today, on what we promised would be a very green program, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with a bit more on the CNN Town Hall and coverage of Hurricane Dorian after the storm's two-day devastation of The Bahamas and it's current track threatening large swaths of the U.S. Eastern Seaboard....
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)