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December 3rd, 2021: The Omicron Variant, U.S. Supreme Court on Abortion, and Job Growth

This week on West Wing Reports, host Paul Brandus looks at what we do and do not know about the Omicron Variant, the Supreme court tackles abortion rights, the plunging unemployment rate, and more. Featuring special guests Dr. Seema Yasmin at Stanford University and Julia Coronado, President of MacroPolicy Perspectives.

The latest Covid-19 variant — what we know — and what we don’t

The Supreme Court weighing a case that COULD undo Roe v. Wade - the landmark abortion case.

And another ________ jobs added to the U.S. economy — as the great American jobs machine rolls on.

I’m Paul Brandus — you’re listening to West Wing Reports— it’s Friday, December 3.

This Covid-19 pandemic just will NOT go away — this Om-ni-crom variant — it’s now here in the U-S — and that’s causing politicians and health officials to scramble to stay on top of it. President Biden Thursday that his strategy will be to fight COVID not with lockdowns – but with more vaccines, vaccines vaccines — and boosters.

But just what DO we know and what DON’T we know about this Om-ne-crom variant? In a few minutes — we’ll go in depth with one of the world’s top experts on infectious diseases — Dr. Seema Yasmin of Stanford University.

To Capitol Hill now — all eyes on the Supreme Court — which is hearing a case that COULD mean the end of Roe v. Wade — the landmark abortion rights case.

Now this is complicated — but the essence of the case is this: It centers on a Mississippi law that would ban almost ALL abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Lower courts blocked the law, ruling that it violates Roe v. Wade — which dates to 1973. The lower courts ALSO said it violates another key abortion rights case — Planned Parenthood v. Casey which dates to 1992. In THAT case, the court ruled — that states CANNOT ban abortion before what’s called “fetal viability” — the point at which a fetus can survive outside of the womb. Right now that’s considered to be between 22 and 24 weeks of pregnancy.

That’s the background. Here’s what happened: The Supreme Court heard nearly two hours of arguments on the Mississippi law — again the one banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The Mississippi solicitor general arguing for the ban after 15 weeks says that Abortion opponents argue that Roe v. Wade quote “haunts our country.”

But pro-choice groups say the right to an abortion is a woman’s right — and not for lawmakers to decide. One Justice Elena Kagan said that the Supreme Court should be seen as being above politics — meaning that it cannot be quote — a political institution that will go back and forth depending on what part of the public yells loudest and preventing people from thinking that the court will go back and forth depending on changes to the court's membership."

A ruling on the Mississippi Law is expected in June — no matter what happens it’ll be be a blockbuster.

Meanwhile, what do polls show about this? Three out of five adults — 59% - say abortion should be legal in all or most cases. That’s according to the Pew Forum. That number has held steady — it was 60% in 1995

Another jobs bonanza.jobs added to the economy in November — that’s for the first eleven months of the year — that’s more jobs than the last eight years combined. The unemployment rate fell

That so many jobs have been added so quickly this year — reflects a lesson that the federal reserve and other policymakers learned from prior downturns. That lesson is go big — go fast — and create conditions that get people back to work. Here’s economist Julia Coronado — the President and Founder of MacroPolicy Perspectives:

This jobs recovery is nationwide — other Labor Department data shows that unemployment is lower is 386 of 389 metro areas — all but three — from a year ago.

What about gas prices? They’re down about one percent from recent highs — that’s according to AAA national data. Not much — but they are now beginning to fall.

Another reminder of the threat that our democracy faces. Recently Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar — she’s a Democrat — was verbally attacked by Colorado Republican Lauren Bobert — Bobert joked — sort of — about getting on an elevator with Omar and thought it was probably okay because Omar wasn’t wearing a backpack - meaning she wasn’t a suicide bomber. Bobert later sort-of apologized — sort of. Now here’s where it gets really nasty and dangerous. News coverage of this sort of thing often leads to the dregs on our society — and I believe it’s objective and factual to use that term— to crawl out from under a rock. Omar is always getting threats — she played one of them for us this week. Listen carefully:

Here’s my question: Why in this country — do some people consider it acceptable to threaten others with death — just because they happen to hold different opinions? Or because they’re members of a different religion? It bears repeating that it’s against the law to threaten a member of Congress with bodily harm. Just as it’s against the law to physically attack police officers during a storming of our Capitol.

It has often been said that “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” And that’s I’ll continue to call out attention to behavior that any decent, free-thinking man or woman of character would consider evil.

In a minute, I’ll open up the West Wing Reports archives — and take a look at what made history this week in the past. First — lets hear about ANOTHER Evergreen podcast — that I know you'll enjoy.

Now let’s take a look at what made history this week in the past:

1955 - a young black woman in Montgomery, Alabama, was told to give up her seat on a bus so a white person could sit down. Thatwoman — Rosa Parks was her name — was exhausted. She refused. She was arrested. Thus began one of the key moments of the Civil Rights movement — the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

"I had been pushed around all my life," Parks wrote, "and felt at this moment that I couldn't take it any more.”

She became an hero to millions of Americans — she was honored years later:

An act of Congress later labeled Rosa Parks “the first lady of the civil rights movement.” She passed in 2005.

1970, President Nixon - concerned about water and air pollution - created the Environmental Protection Agency.

And 1993:

That’s James Brady — during the 1981 assassination attempt against President Ronald Reagan — Brady was shot in the brain, He lived and became a gun control advocate. In 1993, President Bill Clnton signed the Brady Bill requiring handgun buyers to wait 5 days for a background check — before being allowed to buy a gun.

Speaking of being a gun control advocate — Reagan himself was a big supporter of the Brady Gun bill. He said stricter gun controls could help reduce violence. The former president lobbied lawmakers and write newspaper editorials calling for greater gun control.

Want more history? Check out my books on Amazon — I’ll sign ‘em for you too — just shoot me an email: [email protected].

And need a speaker for your event? I do that too — current events, economics, analysis — history — I connect the dots — would love to hear from you.

By the way, I have an app too — West Wing Reports — available everywhere — download it on your phone — there’s a button called “What’s on your mind?” Just push, talk and send. And the question I have for you: “How do you rate President Biden's performance so far?" He’s been in office nearly a year — how’s he doing? Again — just push talk and send.

I like to end each week with a quote — something you might find thoughtful: This week: isn’t from Martin Van Buren. Nobody ever talks about Van Buren anymore, so why give him a plug.

He said:

As to the presidency, the two happiest days of my life were those of my entrance upon the office and my surrender of it.

Some men tried their whole lives to become president — only to realize that the presidency was a HORRIBLE job. Others, like Theodore Roosevelt and Bill Clinton, loved every minute of it. Well — almost every minute.

Anyway — That’s all for this week.

West Wing Reports is a production of Evergreen Podcasts. Our producer and sound designer and engineer : Noah Foutz Executive producers: Michael D’Aleoia and Gerardo Orlando. I’m Paul Brandus in Washington — thanks for listening — see you next week.

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