On today's BradCast, the heat is on. Temperature records are being smashed in the West, and pressure continues to build on two Senate Democrats to take the action necessary to save democracy itself in the U.S. in light of the Trump-induced lurch toward autocracy and voter suppression by the Republican Party. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]
First up, a few thoughts on the New York City primary elections being held today, specifically on the city's first-time use of Ranked Choice Voting. We explain how RCV works (or doesn't) and wish the voters of NYC much luck in making sense of whatever may happen next. Depending on how folks voted today, it could take weeks before winners are determined and perhaps even longer before voters have confidence in those results. But we hope it all goes well. (If it doesn't, might we recommend they try Approval Voting instead next time? It's much easier to understand and oversee, and doesn't even require trusting in computers to be tallied!)
Then, shortly after air today, a test vote was held in the U.S. Senate on moving the Democrats' critical election and campaign reform bill, the For the People Act (which has already passed in the House), forward for debate. The vote was not for passage of the bill, but simply on whether the Senate would be allowed to debate the new voting rights package at all. So today was the debate on whether to debate. And Democrats won that debate, sort of, with their 50 vote majority. Unfortunately, in the U.S. Senate, the minority rules, thanks to Senate rules that require 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. The good news, however, is that all 50 Democrats voted to advance the measure, in the face of the GOP's unified opposition to debate voting rights. The unified Democratic caucus was not a certainty until today's vote, with West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin opposing For the People until only recently, when he was assured his compromise proposal [PDF] for the voting rights bill would receive a vote.
Even with a 50 vote majority, however (which is actually 51 votes with Vice President Harris breaking the tie), the debate on For the People will not be allowed, nor a vote on the actual bill, until and unless the Senate filibuster rule is reformed in some way. It's been reformed many times before (for example, on budget bills, which require only a simple majority, or for jamming through U.S. Supreme Court nominees, as Republicans did unilaterally under Trump, when they enjoyed the majority.) But, for now, both Manchin and Arizona's Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema oppose changes to the Senate filibuster, a Jim Crow-era relic, which would be needed to pass the election and campaign reform they both suggest they now support. That very much needs to happen in order to pass For the People and, later, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, in order to have any hope of countering, at least in part, the partisan GOP restrictions on voting now moving through state legislators. With today's Senate vote, we can only hope that both Manchin and Sinema hear from their constituents over the upcoming holiday recess, encouraging them to reconsider their untenable stand blocking long-overdue safeguards to American democracy.
Next up: After a week of blistering heat records across much of the West, amid a worsening megadrought, burgeoning wildfires, and Claudette, one of the earliest named tropical storms which came ashore this weekend wreaking havoc and death in the South, we're joined by an expert in both climate records and extremes.
"Climate Guy" GUY WALTON, is a former 30-year Weather Channel veteran who has, for years, been tracking and documenting daily global records and extremes as our climate emergency worsens. He joins us today for both an update on this past week's early summer heat wave --- including several all-time records obliterated --- and broader context for what is actually happening and why.
Among the topics discussed: Reservoirs growing perilously dry in the West; the now, nearly year-round wildfire season; the quickening pace of broken heat records; the Saffir-Simpson scale used to categorize wind speed (but not rainfall amounts and storm surge, which can be even more deadly, or overall expected damage) of tropical storms and hurricanes, and whether it's time for a new gauge under this "new normal" climate; if the media are improving in their coverage of climate change; and much more.
We also discuss Walton's wickedly subversive illustrated book series on climate change for children, co-authored with Nick Walker, called "World of Thermo", about a flying thermometer who battles his arch enemy Carbo (a giant carbon molecule). The first book in the series is World of Thermo: Thermometer Rising. The second book, set for publication next month, is World of Thermo: Carbonated.
Finally, since we're gluttons, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more on our disturbing new climate extremes and what the Biden Administration --- and Bernie Sanders --- are doing and/or hope to do about it...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)