January 28th, 2022: A Supreme Court Opening, Rising Tensions with Russia, and the Record-Breaking 2021 Economy
This week, White House Correspondent Paul Brandus shares updates about the upcoming Supreme Court vacancy, the continued standoff surrounding Ukraine, and the impact of the economic rebound of 2021. Featuring global affairs Analyst David Andelman.
An opening on the Supreme Court — President Biden zeroes in on his nominee:
Will there be war in Europe?
And a booming economy last year — but what about now?
I’m Paul Brandus — you’re listening to West Wing Reports— it’s Friday, January 28th.
Timing is everything — remember when Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a Supreme Court Justice? Some liberals wanted her to retire when Barack Obama was president — so he could appoint another liberal to the court. Actually — Obama tried that after a CONSERVATIVE Justice — Antonin Scalia — died in 2016. But Republicans controlled the Senate then and Mitch McConnell said — you can’t appoint a justice in a presidential election year — it should be up to the NEXT president.
You think elections don’t matter? That next president was Donald Trump — and he appointed THREE conservative justices — including one — in an election year — Amy Comey Barrett — her confirmation rammed through BY McConnell just days before — you guessed it — a presidential election year.
But this time the election was won by a Democrat — Joe Biden — and this time the Senate is controlled by Democrats — but just barely. But it will probably be enough for Biden to put a liberal justice on the court to replace Stephen Breyer — a liberal justice who is retiring after 27 years.
Biden has wasted no time in confirming that he will make good on a big 2020 campaign pledge:
That’s a big deal in a lot of ways — not the least of which is that it’ll certainly boost his standing with two key parts of his base — women and blacks. The midterm elections are NOT looking good for Democrats — but this will certainly help. The president says he’ll unveil his nominee by the end of February — a sign the White House is going to let this story play out for a while.
For some additional perspective, here’s Lawrence Hurley — who covers the Supreme Court for Thomson Reuters - he appeared on C-SPAN:
As for Breyer — you probably don’t know too much about him — justices tend to keep a fairly low profile. So I want to play a clip OF him from Thursday — what he said was so refreshing and optimistic — sounds out of place given the problems we have — and that made all the more wonderful:
Breyer reminded us that America after all this time, nearly 250 years — was designed to be — as Abraham Lincoln called it — an experiment.
Wow. That was terrific — Justice Steven Breyer — announcing his retirement — after 27 years — at the end of this Supreme Court term.
No — that’s the blunt message from the Biden administration to Russia — NO - over Moscow’s demands on Ukraine. The U-S continues to think that the Russians could invade at any time. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has this blunt advice for Americans IN Ukraine:
The fear is that Americans COULD be caught in harm’s way:
And while the diplomats continue to talk — the Pentagon is getting ready. Spokesman John Kirby ran down a list of units from around the country that are on a heightened state of alert:
To emphasize — have NOT been activated.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby. Meanwhile, here’s a question for you — with so much focus on Russia and Ukraine — what are OTHER American adversaries doing? China, North Korea, Iran. We’ll get the big picture from one global observer shortly.
Economic news now — get a load of this — the economy grew last year at its strongest pace since 1984 — when Ronald Reagan was in the White House. It was even stronger in the 4th quarter as the year was coming to an end — abd leading the way was spending by BOTH consumers AND businesses.
Well, that’s great — but that’s in the rear view mirror. What about the road ahead? Milton Ezrati is chief economist at Vested -- he spoke with Yahoo Finance:
The number one worry is inflation — galloping ahead at a 7% rate, the Federal Reserve is set to begin raising interest rates in an effort to bring that under control. But as I’ve said before a lot of our inflation is linked to the pandemic — and supply chain. When those things will be fixed -- well, it’s really anyone’s guess.
A ray of hope about Omicron — hospitalizations are down. Not much — just two percent over the last two weeks.
But they’re soaring in four states — hospitalizations nearly doubling in Montana over the last two weeks they’re up 90-percent in Wyoming and up 70-percent in Alaska and 60 percent in Alabama — just in the last two weeks.
All told — 63-percent of all Americans who are eligible have been fully vaccinated — for Americans over the age of 18 — that figure is 74-percent. That data compiled by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Let’s come back now to Russia and Ukraine. Everybody’s focused on this hot spot — my question is this. What are OTHER American adversaries — China, North Korea, Iran — what are they up to while we’re distracted?
Let’s get some answers from my old friend David Andelman — one of the more astute observers of global events. He’s been a correspondent for the New York Times, CBS, and is currently a columnist for CNN and NBC. Also the author of several books — the latest is A Red Line in the Sand: Diplomacy, Strategy, and the History of Wars That Might Still Happen —
David welcome - you know it seems to me that while we’re distracted by Russia and Ukraine — it’s a good time for China — after the Olympics, at least — North Korea and Iran to cause trouble.
My thanks to David Andelman — by the way — in addition to being a CNN and NBC columnist, he also has a Substack column — check that out.
Now, let's 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:
1961 — you can’t make this stuff up — Nearly three years before Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President Kennedy, his Mother visited Washington and asked to see JFK. Marguerite Oswald wanted help finding her son - Lee — the ex-Marine marksman who had defected to the Soviet Union.
Marguerite Oswald never got to see President Kennedy, of course. Nor — did she get to see Navy Secretary John Connally. Both JFK and Connally would be shot by her son in 1963.
An unbelievable story.
And who can forget this -- from 1998?
Well, that wasn’t true. Bill Clinton — telling a whopper this week in 1998. Turns out he DID have sexual relations with that woman — “Miss Lewinsky — he could say her first name - it was Monica.
That lie was the beginning of what would turn into his impeachment — by the House -- but acquittal by the Senate.
Want more history? Check out my books on Amazon — I’ll sign ‘em for you too — just shoot me an email: [email protected].
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I like to end each week with a quote — something you might find thoughtful: This week: it's from William McKinley -- our 25th president: