LOS ANGELES - Another historic week in American politics.
On the COVID-19 front, as the vaccine rollout continues, an additional 1.1 million Americans contracted the virus, while 22,841 succumbed to it. In California alone, as stay-at-home orders were lifted, 156,438 tested positive, and 3,823 residents died.
On the national stage, while the Senate was sworn in to serve as jurors in the impending impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, new President Joe Biden continued his effort to roll-back the work of the previous administration, signing executive orders at a breakneck pace.
To debate these issues, and more, Elex Michaelson is joined this week by two frequent guests of The Issue Is, attorney Lisa Bloom and radio host John Kobylt.
THE ISSUE: CALIFORNIA’S VACCINE ROLL-OUT
BACKGROUND: Home to more coronavirus cases and deaths than any other state, California has been lagging behind in regards to vaccine distribution - fully vaccinating only 1.2% of residents. To combat that disparity, this week the state shifted to age-based eligibility for vaccinations and also reached an agreement with Blue Shield of California to oversee further distribution.
KOBYLT’S CENTRAL TAKE: "We have plenty of vaccine supply. Every day we’ve had double the doses we’ve injected. As of yesterday, we had gotten over 5.5 million doses sent to California, we only used 50% of them… for most of the month, California has been in 50th place out of 50 states…. Small states are doing well, other large states are doing well, Democratic Governors doing well, Republican Governors doing well, California is by itself in its incompetence in getting vaccines injected…"
BLOOM’S CENTRAL TAKE: "This is just inexcusable… we have people dying every day, I think at one point in LA County it was somebody dying from COVID every 10 minutes… we’ve had a long time, we’ve had a bunch of months, we knew the vaccine was coming. I recognize the government is not used to doing a big vaccine rollout, that’s not what they do, but there was plenty of time to plan and plenty of expertise to draw on… When I see pictures of seniors, standing in line, with a walker, for up to four hours, before they can get in there and get a vaccine, what an embarrassment for our city and for our state…"
THE ISSUE: RECALLING GOVERNOR NEWSOM
BACKGROUND: This week, California Governor Newsom announced that the state would be lifting its statewide stay-at-home order. The announcement came as the state continues to be battered by COVID, and as only 1.2% of the state is fully vaccinated. It also comes as nearly 1.3 million Californians have signed a petition to recall the Governor. Earlier this week, Michaelson asked Newsom to respond to criticism that the reopening was motivated by politics and the recall effort, a claim that Newsom called "utter nonsense."
BLOOM’S CENTRAL TAKE: "[Governor Newsom] was elected with 62% of the vote, it was a significant victory, he’s not going to be recalled… he has a very difficult job to do, how are you going to balance saving peoples’ lives and saving peoples’ livelihoods? How are you going to take the science, where lockdowns clearly save lives, but they destroy businesses, and people are unemployed, and then they can’t feed their families and they’re depressed? That is a very tough decision to make, and I think he’s done a good job, as best as anyone could do…"
KOBYLT’S CENTRAL TAKE: "It’s obvious, I think everyone knows it. 1.3 million signatures to recall him, not too far from the goal of verified signatures that they need, that’s what it is… Really, he stands there and says this is "nonsense," how do you think the average person at home took that answer? It’s "nonsense"? The people who can’t go to work, they can’t get their unemployment, that’s a whole different issue, their kids can’t go to school, they can’t go out to eat anywhere, and they can’t get a vaccine, and this guy is saying it’s "nonsense" to consider a recall?… Believe me, he just dug himself three feet deeper into the hole…"
THE ISSUE: THE IMPEACHMENT OF PRESIDENT TRUMP
BACKGROUND: This week, 45 Republican Senators voted that the effort to hold an impeachment trial for former President Trump was unconstitutional. The vote signaled that there likely do not exist the 67 votes to convict Trump for inciting the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6. As a result, some have begun to discuss the prospect of censuring Trump instead.
BLOOM’S CENTRAL TAKE: "As a trial lawyer myself, I would hate to be going into a trial myself, where the jury says at the beginning ‘we’ve already decided we’re not going to convict.’ That’s the outcome, we already know that the Senators, without hearing any evidence, the Republican Senators, most of them, have said they’re not going to convict, so I suppose a censure would make sense, it’s something, and we can all move on… It’s unfortunate, five people died on January 6, at a riot that was incited by the President of the United States, there’s no question about that, he should not hold public office ever again, and this should be on his permanent record…"
KOBYLT’S CENTRAL TAKE: "Well, the public has to be on board, and as much as half the country doesn’t understand it, and doesn’t accept it, his approval rating among Republicans is still extraordinarily high, approaching 90%, and that’s what the Republican Senators are staring at… I was just reading this morning that Liz Cheney, the Congressman from Wyoming, who, as a House member, voted to impeach, is already 30 points down in a potential primary, against an opponent who’s already announced… so every Senator, and every House member, is looking at that and saying ‘I don’t want to play that’…"
THE ISSUE: PRESIDENT BIDEN’S FIRST WEEK IN OFFICE
BACKGROUND: In his first ten days in office, President Joe Biden has signed a record-breaking 42 executive actions, dwarfing the number signed by Presidents Trump, Obama, Bush, and Clinton, combined. Those orders, which bypass Congress, and can be overturned by future administrations, address issues ranging from COVID and the environment to immigration and equity.
KOBYLT’S CENTRAL TAKE: "One of the first things he does is he stops the keystone pipeline construction, which is exactly the type of issue that Trump ignited his campaign with, destroying jobs, blue-collar people, high-paying jobs tied to our energy independence… Nobody should be surprised, come the next election cycle when you see that kind of issue fueling more anger, more revolt. Another firebrand is going to use something like that and say ‘hey, what’s the first thing [Biden] did? He put you out of work’… I think people are really fed up with that, especially during a pandemic…"
BLOOM’S CENTRAL TAKE: "Climate change is the number one crisis of our time. COVID is bad. Climate change is worse. It is here, it is real, it is upon us, we have massive wildfires in California, extreme weather all over the world, sea levels are rising, there is no question that it is here, so we must act… The actions that President Biden has taken, getting us back into the Paris Climate Treaty, thank God, and other environmental actions, are exceedingly important. We can shift to clean energy jobs, and that’s something he wants to do…"
The Issue Is is California's only statewide political show. Watch FOX 11 Los Angeles Fridays at 10:30 p.m. and Sundays at 9 a.m. For more showtimes and information, go to TheIssueIsShow.com.