April 8th, 2022: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's Confirmation, New Russa Sanctions, and Gas Companies in Washington
This week, White House Correspondent Paul Brandus takes us through the latest on Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's confirmation to the U.S Supreme Court, Biden's latest round of sanctions against Russia after recent revelations about Russian war crimes in Ukraine, major gas companies' recent appearance on Capitol Hill, and more.
And oil company executives on the hot seat — when will gas prices fall?
I’m Paul Brandus — you’re listening to West Wing Reports— it’s Friday, April 8th.
History in the making — the first black woman confirmed for the Supreme Court justice — the Senate vote read by the first black woman to serve as Vice President.
Ketanki Brown Jackson — she’ll be sworn in this summer after the formal retirement of Stephen Breyer.
It’s the fulfillment of a major campaign pledge by candidate Biden in 2020 — he promised to put a black woman on the high court — and now he has. It presumably will help in the November midterms — which currently aren’t looking too good for Democrats.
One reason things aren’t looking good for Democrats is inflation. One example here — high gas prices — now, they’ve come down seven cents in the past week, according to AAA’s national average — but still up a buck-30 from a year ago.
Oil companies are sitting on thousands of drilling permits — not drilling — and CEOs of some of the biggest firms were grilled on Capitol Hill. Congressman Morgan Griffith, a Virginia Republican, asked each of them the same question:
The Mr. Woods — was Darren Woods, of Exxon-Mobil — the others gave the same answer. Analysts point out that market forces drive prices — there are no gas shortages — it’s just this is a global commodity — and demand is high.
Meantime, here’s something to think about — there are pros AND cons to BOTH high AND low prices.
High oil prices fuel Vladimir Putin’s war machine — that’s no good. It also props up Saudi Arabia and Iran. On the other hand, high prices will likely incentivize people to buy electric cars — GM, Ford and others plan to be all-electric in a decade or so — that’s where the market is headed.
On the other hand, LOW prices are bad for Putin — that’s good — BUT it also puts oil and gas workers out of business — that’s a boom and bust industry — it’ll slow the move to electric cars, slow efforts to decarbonize — that’s an issues that’s getting more serious by the day. So these are big market and policy contradictions that are bumping up against each other.
President Biden on the war in Ukraine — you’ve probably seen the horrifying images on TV — innocent civilians being slaughtered — reports of torture, women and girls raped. The U-S and its allies have rolled out new sanctions against the Russians — among other things, they target Putin's two adult daughters, ban any NEW Western investment in Russia — AND hit two of the country's largest banks with full blocking sanctions — for the first time.
But some officials say the one thing that’s REALLY needed still is NOT being done — and that is to stop ALL purchases of Russian oil and gas.
Ukraine’s foreign minister out it bluntly: “As long as the west continues buying gas and oil it is supporting Ukraine with one hand, Russia’s war machine with the other."
Meantime, for all the armchair pundits who think they know how the war will turn out, former President Barack Obama is more cautious — he tells the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg — that Putin’s sheer unpredictability makes forecasting any end game difficult:
Meantime, get this — House Republicans — 63 — voted NO on a non-binding resolution reaffirming “unequivocal support for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as an alliance founded on democratic principles" and calling on Biden to push to establish a "center for democratic resilience" at NATO. They voted NO — on NATO.
AND six House Republicans on Wednesday voted AGAINST a bill that would direct the White House to report to Congress on any war crimes in Ukraine and turn over any evidence to international investigations — there’s talk of somehow trying Putin as a war criminal.
One of the six was Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene — who’s often linked Q-Anon - type conspiracies. She drew this angry rebuke from Maryland’s Jamie Raskin:
Among Greene’s other claims — you may recall that she once said that California’s wildfires are being caused deliberately by a wealthy Jewish family using a laser fired from space. There’s not enough time to tell you all the bizarre things she says and does — that’s just one example.
Economic news — the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits — has fallen to its lowest level since 1968 — that figure is even more impressive when you consider that the population is 60-six-zero—percent bigger today. The job market continues to boom. Wal-Mart — is now paying truck drivers up to 110-grand to start.
And now, lets hear about ANOTHER Evergreen podcast — that I know you'll enjoy”
Time now to open up the West Wing Reports archives — and see what made history this week in the past:
The first shots of the Civil War were fired - this day in 1861 - when Confederate forces shelled Fort Sumter, South Carolina. Union forces held out for 33 hours before surrendering (more)
An overjoyed Abraham Lincoln learned - this day in 1865 - that the South had surrendered, bringing the Civil War to a close. The Civil War remains by far the bloodiest war in U.S. history: 750,000 Americans were killed—the equivalent of 7.7 million Americans today. Lincoln himself would be assassinated just days later
1951 — as the Korean War raged, Harry Truman spoke to the nation:
And for that reason, he dropped a bombshell - he was firing Douglas MacArthur — the hugely popular five-star general.
Truman thought the general was insubordinate — and wanted to expand the Korean War into China — the president thought that too risky. Truman’s popularity plunged — he did NOT seek re-election the next year.
Speaking of the Cold War — one of its most famous Cold War-era phrases was coined in 1954 by Dwight Eisenhower: The “domino theory.” He said that if one country in a region—say Vietnam—fell to communism, that others would eventually follow. It didn’t turn out that way — but that’s what people thought in the 1950s and 1960s — and helped lead to the Vietnam War.
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Speaking of Harry Truman — he’s the source of this week’s quote — quote — something you might find thoughtful: He said:
An honest public servant can't become rich in politics. He can only attain greatness and satisfaction by service.