PBS NewsHour full episode, Dec. 3, 2021
JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I'm Judy Woodruff. On the "NewsHour" tonight: after the shooting. The parents of a student who killed four at a Michigan high school are charged with involuntary manslaughter. Then: Omicron. The director of the National Institutes of Health weighs in on the uncertain
road ahead. Plus: supply chain woes. We turn to the nation's busiest port to see what's causing major shipping delays. MATT SCHRAP, CEO, Harbor Trucking Association: It's important to recognize that the supply chain is fragile. We, as a country, should really take a hard look of how dependent we are on imports. JUDY WOODRUFF: And it's Friday. David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart consider the future
of abortion rights at the Supreme Court and congressional brinksmanship over government funding. All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour." (BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF: There have been some dramatic twists and turns today in Tuesday's shooting attack at a Michigan high school.
James and Jennifer Crumbley, parents of the accused 15-year-old killer, were charged with involuntary manslaughter this afternoon. Soon after, authorities in Oxford Township declared them fugitives and launched a manhunt. Still later, their attorney said they had left town for their own safety, but were returning to face arraignment. John Yang picks up the story from there. JOHN YANG: Judy, the Michigan prosecutor, Karen McDonald, says the charges against the parents stem from what she calls egregious acts.
She says the father bought the gun used in the shooting last week for his son. On the morning of the shooting, the parents were called to the school to talk about violent images their son had. KAREN MCDONALD, Oakland County, Michigan, Prosecutor: James and Jennifer Crumbley were shown the drawing and were advised that they were required to get their son into counseling within 48 hours. Both James and Jennifer Crumbley failed to ask their son if he had his gun with him or where his gun was located, and failed to inspect his backpack for the presence of the gun, which he had with him.
James and Jennifer Crumbley resisted the idea of them leaving the school at that time, of their son leaving the school at that time. Instead, James and Jennifer Crumbley left the high school without their son. JOHN YANG: The prosecutor also said that, the day before the shooting, a teacher reported that the accused was searching for ammunition on his phone. Russ McNamara is the senior news editor for Detroit's NPR station WDET. Russ, thanks for joining us.
What's the latest, as we have heard that there was a question of whether the parents were going to turn themselves in. Are officials confident that they are going to turn themselves in now? RUSS MCNAMARA, WDET: Well, I'm not exactly sure at this point, because their attorney, Shannon Smith, says, yes, they left town shortly after the shooting for their own safety and then were going to make their way back for the arraignment. But the arraignment was supposed to be at 4:00 p.m. today. Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard says the family is fleeing. The U.S. Marshals now within the last hour have said
that they are now hunting for the couple as well, as well as a fugitive task force here in the city of Detroit. So, we still don't know where this family is. JOHN YANG: And whether they're going to show up. We also learned a lot from the prosecutor's news conference today. For instance, there's evidence she described that suggests that this gun was a Christmas present for this young man.
RUSS MCNAMARA: Yes, the child was there when the gun was purchased, and he essentially picked it out, and his father purchased it for him. Teenagers cannot own a handgun here in the state of Michigan. And so it would be a gift. And the kid took it to the range and tried it out over the weekend with his mom. JOHN YANG: And he also sort of showed it off on social media. RUSS MCNAMARA: Yes, he did that as well.
And he was very active on social media. And that was part of the case that Karen McDonald laid out today against the parents, that this kid had a thing for guns. Combine that with the violent imagery in the drawing and the fact that he was searching for ammunition in class at school, all kinds of red flags along the way for both school officials and his parents. They should have known something was going on, I would think. JOHN YANG: Russ, tell us more about that drawing. We learned details of the drawing and also the parents' reaction when the school tried to reach out to them to tell them they had found their son searching for ammunition in class.
RUSS MCNAMARA: Essentially, blood, stick figures and "Help me" in this drawing. And given the fact that he was just given a gun days before, the parents at that meeting on Tuesday morning saw no reason to take their kid out of school. The school recommended that the child need psychiatric help within the next 48 hours. The family opted not to do that.
And so the child, there with the backpack in the room, the backpack was not searched. He goes back to class. And, later, the shooting happened. JOHN YANG: And the day before, a teacher spotted him searching for ammunition his phone. They reached out to the parents and what happened, or what didn't happen? RUSS MCNAMARA: Well, the mom basically texted her son saying, LOL, I'm not mad just, don't get caught next time, which is, I don't know, kind of surprising, to say the least, that, given all of that information, the parents still decided to do nothing on Tuesday morning. JOHN YANG: And, Russ, as I understand it, the parents never responded to the school's calls and messages about this. RUSS MCNAMARA: No, it wasn't until the second call that morning that they both went in and met with school officials and their son at the same time.
And then, after the shooting happened, both parents texted their son and told him not to do it. The father went home and then called 911 after he realized that the gun was missing. JOHN YANG: Russ McNamara of NPR member station WDET in Detroit, thank you very much. RUSS MCNAMARA: Thank you, John. JUDY WOODRUFF: This week's shooting, the deadliest school shooting in three years, has led to fear, anger and anxiety in school districts around the state of Michigan. And so have closings and dozens of schools because of threats and out of an abundance of caution. Our Student Reporting Labs and colleagues at Detroit Public TV talked to educators about this week and how they are talking to students.
MIKE CONRAD, Teacher: National news is hearing about Oxford. They heard about Parkland. They heard about Sandy Hook. The story that's not out there, and I think a lot of people don't know about, is the story of the surrounding communities and how an event like Oxford High School's shooting is affecting more than Oxford. JOHN FORLINI, Teacher: My wife, everybody, we all, like, took that moment to be, like, wow, I can't believe this happened. It is happening very close. It's something you always see on the news, but now you see it, and you're like, wait a minute, I know that building. I see people I know.
CARRIE WOZNIAK, Superintendent, Fraser Public Schools: And we have all been just deeply, deeply touched by this. And it's going to take some time to heal. And I think the best thing I can do right now is listen to people and to help them feel their feelings. So many people are angry. JAMIE FLANAGAN, Teacher: Throughout Michigan, at many schools in the tri-county area, there were threats of violence in other schools. And so kids stayed away. Many schools in the
metro Detroit area were closed today. Superintendents called off. We were in session, and attendance was at 50 percent, at best. So, but for the kids that were here, we're here to support them. RANDY STEWART, Teacher: The easiest way for me to process this is not to ignore it, but just to full steam ahead in regards to what my job is here. MIKE CONRAD: Students want to talk about it. They want to voice their opinions about it. They're being very smart about it. They are having pretty profound conversations. They're
following facts. They're not following the social media hype or rumors. DOROTHEA WILLIAMS-ARNOLD, Teacher: We have talked a lot about how important it is for them to help each other feel safe by paying attention to those loner students or the ones who are a little bit more quiet. We had some group activities going on this week, and I noticed they seemed to be a little bit more open to paying attention to those kids who didn't have a group, who weren't selected for their own group. And I too have been encouraging them to just kind of open up and pay attention to the kids around them. CARRIE WOZNIAK: I can't tell you how many people I have talked to over the past few days that started off really angry or mad about something, and, in the end, they really -- it wasn't about being angry.
It's about the fact that they are so sad and almost scared for what might have happened to their own child. And that's really touched me. So I think we just have to be really compassionate right now, and just listen to one another and be kind, and, more importantly, have some grace, because that's what people need right now. JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day's other news: A man accused of killing 10 people in Colorado last March has been found mentally incompetent to stand trial, for now. Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa allegedly opened fire at a supermarket in Boulder last March. Prosecutors asked today that he be sent to a state mental facility for treatment.
The news out on jobs today is a mixed picture, some very good, some less so. The November U.S. hiring report indicates that fewer jobs were added last month than expected. The net gain of 210,000 was the smallest monthly increase since last December. However, a separate survey of households shows five times that many people reported finding work. The unemployment rate dropped from 4.6 percent to 4.2 percent. That's the best it's been since the pandemic struck. The two surveys typically are reconciled later. In addition,
average wages rose nearly 5 percent from a year ago. President Biden signed a short-term spending bill today that averts a government shutdown this weekend. The legislation funds federal agencies through mid-February, mostly at current spending levels. It passed the U.S. Senate last night, after a handful of Republicans lost a bid to block federal vaccine mandates. On the pandemic, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania, and Utah are the latest states reporting cases of the new Omicron variant. And, worldwide, Omicron has now spread
to more than 40 nations. But at the White House, the president said today it is enough for now to require stricter testing for people who enter the U.S. JOE BIDEN, President of the United States: I think I know a fair amount about this issue. But I'm not a scientist, so I continue to rely on the scientists and asking them whether or not we have to move beyond what we did yesterday. Right now, they're saying no.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The president sounded husky during his appearance, and said that he has a cold that he contracted from a grandchild. His personal physician confirmed that the president does not have COVID. A recount in Virginia has confirmed a Republican sweep of the major races in the November elections. A three-judge panel today certified a recount that gave the GOP control of the state House of Delegates. The party also won races for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban announced a ban on forced marriages of women. A new decree said that women should be treated equally, and not as property. But it made no mention of access to education and employment. A number of nations have demanded such steps before they recognize the Taliban government or restore financial aid.
China's real estate giant Evergrande warned today that it may run out of funds to cover $300 billion in debt. The company has been struggling for weeks. Its default could trigger a financial crisis in China, possibly with global implications. Back in this country, Wall Street gave ground as investors tried to parse the November jobs report. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 59 points to close at 34580. The Nasdaq fell
295 points, nearly 2 percent. The S&P 500 dropped 38. Still to come on the "NewsHour": why a surge in spending is overwhelming U.S. ports; David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart break down the week's news; plus much more. The CDC director said today that the Omicron variant could become the dominant COVID strain in the U.S. this winter. She also said that Delta remains a major problem.
I sat down this afternoon with Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, to talk about those concerns. Dr. Francis Collins, thank you very much for talking with us. DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, Director, National Institutes of Health: Judy, I'm really glad to be here. And welcome to NIH. Glad you came out here.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Very glad to be here. As we sit here on December 3, COVID very much still with us. Is your greater concern at this moment the cases of the variant that are still out there, or Omicron, which is now arriving in this country? DR. FRANCIS COLLINS: Well, the one we know about is Delta. And Delta is still very much with us. Even though we have seen some decrease in the number of cases, it's still tens and tens of thousands every day. So, while Omicron, the sort of new variant we're all focused on, is a potential threat, Delta is a real threat now. We're still seeing 800, 900 people dying every day from this
Delta outbreak. And, sadly, almost all of those are unvaccinated. So we have not gotten to the point where we could have been in this country of being better protected. But Omicron is clearly an interesting beast. This virus is throwing another trick at -- in our direction. It's a wily virus. And it has now these 50-some mutations, almost 30 of which we haven't even seen in any previous version of SARS-CoV-2.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Given all these questions -- and President Biden was here at NIH yesterday. You were with him. He announced new initiatives, more at-home testing, making that easier, more vaccination sites.
There still are no major steps. There's no shutdown. People can still travel freely in the United States. Are you concerned that enough precautions are being taken in this country? DR. FRANCIS COLLINS: I think we're doing it about right, right now. Shutdowns are obviously draconian measures, and it's not clear that that much gets accomplished by those sorts of steps in communities, and there's obviously lots of consequences there for businesses, for schools. So I think the president's right to sort of take those off the table right now, but also to emphasize the things we can do. And he must be frustrated, because I know I am. We have so much evidence now, Judy,
about we can do as a nation to try to fight off this pandemic, and yet there are still 60 million people who have yet to get their first vaccination dose. And a lot of people who got the initial immunization haven't yet gotten the booster, which we know will greatly improve your resistance to Delta and probably to Omicron as well. JUDY WOODRUFF: I know you're saying we're still at least a week away from knowing more about Omicron. My colleague William Brangham on the "NewsHour" interviewed last night a doctor from the World Health Organization, who noted that 10 percent, she said, of the people in South Africa who've come down with Omicron have had to be hospitalized. Does that tell you anything? DR. FRANCIS COLLINS: It's hard to make a whole lot of sense of that. I have seen those same
numbers. I don't know whether those were people who were vaccinated or not. South Africa's vaccination rates are not as high as ours. So it may well be that those folks who are getting hospitalized are those who are totally unprotected. But we don't know that. I will have tomorrow an opportunity for a direct interaction with the leaders in South Africa, who have been incredibly willing to be transparent about all of this data. They may know a bit more by tomorrow about exactly what's happening, because they have 11,000 cases now of SARS-CoV-2. Probably most of those are Omicron because it spreads so
quickly in their population. Americans in general want answers. I want answers. But we have just got to be sure they're right. JUDY WOODRUFF: You mentioned the unvaccinated. And the doctor my colleague spoke with last night was saying, from the perspective of the WHO, the United States is putting too much emphasis on boosters. Her point was,
it's all well and good, but there are still so many millions of Americans who don't even have the first shot, that that should be where the emphasis is, as well as around the world, rather than trying to get -- worrying people about getting the second -- especially the third shot. DR. FRANCIS COLLINS: Well, I don't think this has to be either/or. I think this has to be both/and. We have seen the data that, in fact, initial immunization with the mRNA vaccine, Pfizer or Moderna, it does wane over time. That's why the decision was made to offer boosters now to anybody over 18 to build that immunity back up. America is not, like, having a small problem with SARS-CoV-2. We're one of the country's
hit hardest. I don't know how I could justify or anybody could saying, well, we're not going to offer boosters to our community, when we know people are actually in trouble here. So we have to do that. But we also have to think about the rest of the world. We have already shipped out 275 million doses. We will be over a billion in the next few months. We're doing that. But it doesn't make sense to say, well, then we can't do boosters. We have to do all of those things. We got to save lives. That's what this is about.
JUDY WOODRUFF: A question about testing. The president announced, as we mentioned, yesterday they're going to try to make more at-home testing kits available. People would be reimbursed through insurance. I'm sure you're already hearing criticism about this, people saying this is complicated, it's burdensome, bureaucratic, and so forth, that the United States simply should just make these test kits either very low cost or even free. What about that? DR. FRANCIS COLLINS: Well, NIH has been very engaged in the testing effort.
We have a program called RADx, Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics. Those tests that you see on the pharmacy shelves, we had a lot to do with the fact that those got developed, expanded and distributed. And so I'm right there in this space of thinking testing ought to be available to everybody. It's a tool that we haven't fully utilized.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I'm asking because, again, as you know, there's been criticism. President Biden spoke early on about the importance of testing, but here we are all these months later. It's not easy to get a test in this country. It should be easier. DR. FRANCIS COLLINS: I think the fact that they are available now on the pharmacy shelves is a big step forward. JUDY WOODRUFF: Last question. How long will COVID be with us, something that we have to think about every day? DR. FRANCIS COLLINS: Judy, I gave up trying to make predictions about exactly what the
course of this pandemic was going to be. I don't know where it's going, but I do know we are not powerless to determine the outcome. It's not the government that's going to fix this. It's not some magic public health measure
that we haven't thought of. It's all of us taking advantage of the tools we have got and being consistent about that. I know people are sick of this. I know they're probably sick of people like me saying, you should get your vaccine. But it's true. It's how we're going to get through this. If we
had 90 percent of Americans fully vaccinated and boosted, we'd be in a very different place. JUDY WOODRUFF: Dr. Francis Collins, thank you very much. DR. FRANCIS COLLINS: Nice to be with you, Judy. JUDY WOODRUFF: The latest jobs report today offered mixed signals about the state of hiring. But one thing was clear. More people are trying to get back into the labor force. Supply chain
issues are one key challenge, as companies compete for workers. Economics correspondent Paul Solman visited one of the busiest ports in the country, the Port of Los Angeles, to find out more about what's happening. PAUL SOLMAN: The supply chain symbol of 2021, container ships languishing off the California coast, waiting weeks on average, some for two months, to get a berth at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. This ship's main use at the moment? A sea lion's sun spot.
BRIAN KEMPISTY, Founder, Port X Logistics: I have been doing this for 25 years, and this is unprecedented times. PAUL SOLMAN: Port X Logistics founder Brian Kempisty. BRIAN KEMPISTY: Containerized shipping started in 1956. We have never seen anything like this. PAUL SOLMAN: Pre-COVID, ships rarely anchored offshore. Now they're commonplace, many dozens
of them, loaded with thousands of containers per ship, each capable of holding as many as 800 artificial Christmas trees, 7, 500 Santa suits. But there's simply no room to dock, given the record cargo coming in each month. GENE SEROKA, Executive Director, Port of Los Angeles: More than 900,000 container units, on average, have been coming through this port since July of last year. PAUL SOLMAN: Gene Seroka runs the Port of Los Angeles, the busiest in America, but never this busy. GENE SEROKA: The cargo coming in from factories in Asia is at all-time highs.
PAUL SOLMAN: Why? Well, since the pandemic, Americans have been on a buying spree. So many goods have been getting here, that the system is overwhelmed. GENE SEROKA: Once the cargo ships get here to Los Angeles, it's like taking 10 lanes of freeway traffic and putting them into five. You're still moving record volume, but you need even more throughput than you had before. PAUL SOLMAN: But who in the supply chain is to blame for being unable to handle the throughput? That depends on who you ask.
ALAN MCCORKLE, President and CEO, Yusen Terminals: So, Paul, as you can see here, we have stacks of containers. PAUL SOLMAN: Alan McCorkle is CEO of Yusen Terminals, YTI. ALAN MCCORKLE: If you look, you can see as far as the eye can see mountains of containers for the length of our marine terminal. PAUL SOLMAN: Seventeen thousand containers were sitting here when we visited, more than double the usual number, nearly half of them empty, since we export so much less than we import. YTI has leased another 32 acres to make room for them all. This may look like the source of the bottleneck, but it isn't, says McCorkle.
ALAN MCCORKLE: So, the problem we have is, the boxes aren't moving out the gate as they should. And that's what's leading to the congestion that we have today. We're a three-berth marine terminal, which means we can berth three ships at once. We have two here now. Unfortunately, because the boxes aren't moving out fast enough, we're not able to work the third ship today. PAUL SOLMAN: So you have enough excess capacity to handle the huge tsunami of imports. You just can't get them out of the port fast enough.
ALAN MCCORKLE: Yes, sir. The imports just aren't moving out at the rate and pace they need to keep up with the amount coming in off the ship. We're delivering 50 percent of what we're capable of delivering because the truckers aren't showing up to pull the boxes. PAUL SOLMAN: So then are the truckers, or drayage drivers, who transport the containers short distances from the terminal, the main bottleneck? NIMESH MODI, Book Your Cargo: Now, do we have enough drayage drivers? No.
PAUL SOLMAN: There's already a nationwide trucker shortage. Nimesh Modi of freight firm Book Your Cargo says the longer waits to pick up containers are making the job especially unappealing at the ports. NIMESH MODI: They have to be in the lines for hours. That's a huge problem they're dealing with. PAUL SOLMAN: Like this driver we met at the Port of Long Beach.
MAN: When you go in, it's a lot of line, big line. PAUL SOLMAN: And you have to wait a long time. MAN: We wait, yes, like two hours to go in, one hour. Depends, you know. PAUL SOLMAN: And that hurts their income, says Modi. NIMESH MODI: More they drive, more they earn. If they don't drive, and sit at the terminal,
wait for the container, they don't make money. If my life is becoming difficult, then I'm going to look for something else. PAUL SOLMAN: But a driver shortage is not the main problem, says harbor trucking association CEO Matt Schrap. MATT SCHRAP, CEO, Harbor Trucking Association: We are the easiest scapegoat in this entire supply chain. PAUL SOLMAN: You may be the scapegoat, but are you actually also the main point of congestion? MATT SCHRAP: No, because we have over 14,000 drivers that are operating down here daily.
We have drivers right now who are not being dispatched. We have trucks that are parked because, literally, we don't have a chassis to move the import off of the dock. PAUL SOLMAN: Too few chassis. They're the wheeled metal frames that containers are mounted on to be driven away.
And logistics expert Brian Kempisty agrees. Too many chassis are now stuck under containers waiting to be sent back overseas. BRIAN KEMPISTY: That means that chassis is unusable. And that's the issue that we're
having right now, is, there's no available chassis to pick up the full containers. And we're coming to gridlock. PAUL SOLMAN: And there's yet another bottleneck further down the supply chain, says YTI's McCorkle: ALAN MCCORKLE: While the marine terminals are running predominately two shifts, seven days a week, first shift, second shift, I think you're seeing some warehouses only working first shifts and partial second shifts.
PAUL SOLMAN: So we went to the brand-new SEKO Logistics warehouse in Carson, California, which Brian Baskin oversees. How much of this stuff, as a percentage, comes from China? BRIAN BASKIN, Managing Director, SEKO Logistics: A significant portion, probably 70 percent. PAUL SOLMAN: Trucks haul containers stuffed with goods here to be off-loaded and stored or reloaded onto different trucks to be transported elsewhere. But Baskin says there's no bottleneck here. BRIAN BASKIN: The second we have that container in the door, we're turning that product out on the road back interior U.S. within 24 hours. So the delay is not in the yard here.
PAUL SOLMAN: Baskin's facility runs two full shifts on weekdays, a Saturday shift, and sometimes one on Sunday. Working more at the warehouse isn't the answer, he says. BRIAN BASKIN: By expanding hours doesn't necessarily mean you're expanding capability. PAUL SOLMAN: And it's hard enough to find workers to cover daytime shifts. How does the labor shortage impact what we're talking about? BRIAN BASKIN: If you're talking about the general warehouse market right now, labor is obviously tight. The rates per hour have gone up $2 to $3 for peak season, just to
attract people to come work. PAUL SOLMAN: And real estate prices for more warehouse space have gone up even more, over 30 percent since Baskin acquired this space in February. BRIAN BASKIN: The landside real estate markets have gone crazy, so there's not a lot of available space to go into to expand any of the shoreside options that you would have normally.
PAUL SOLMAN: So, in the end, did any link in the supply chain have enough slack to handle the surge? BRIAN BASKIN: We were moving in a direction where the growth in the ports every year was getting harder and harder to manage. COVID just kind of put a nuclear bomb on top of all that with the volume. PAUL SOLMAN: And why so little cushion? Because extra space at the port costs money. Extra trucks and chassis cost money. Extra inventory and extra warehouses cost money.
Thus, for maximum efficiency, American business moved inexorably to a just-in-time supply chain. GENE SEROKA: Just-in-time and creating lean supply chains was the focus for the better part of three decades. PAUL SOLMAN: But, says the trucking industry's Matt Schrap: MATT SCHRAP: It's important to recognize that the supply chain is fragile.
We, as a country, should really take a hard look of how dependent we are on imports, and then have much more realistic expectations about what we're able to achieve within our supply chain to begin with. PAUL SOLMAN: The good news, perhaps? Importers may be changing how they operate. ALAN MCCORKLE: I think people are starting to look at how they source their product, and moving away from what has been a just-in-time supply chain into a, let's get it way well ahead of time. GENE SEROKA: Now, what we see is just-in-case. On our docks today, we may see patio furniture and lounge chairs. Orders have been put in factories ahead of others to build up on inventories
across the board. PAUL SOLMAN: Even so, everyone we talked to expects kinks in the supply chain well into next year. For the "PBS NewsHour," Paul Solman up in the air in and around Los Angeles. JUDY WOODRUFF: With the Omicron variant, a near government shutdown, and a major abortion case before the Supreme Court, it has been a busy week in Washington. To examine it all, we turn to the analysis of Brooks and Capehart. That is New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart.
Hello to both of you. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Hi, Judy. JUDY WOODRUFF: Haven't you both together in a long time. It's good to have you here. Let's start with the Supreme Court, Jonathan, that long awaited Mississippi abortion case, intense oral argument. It was -- once you started listening, it was hard to turn away. A lot of people are saying they think they know what's going to happen based open that.
What did you make of it? JONATHAN CAPEHART: You don't know what's going to happen based on the -- based on those arguments. We have been down this road before with the Affordable Care Act, when people listened to the or arguments and they thought for sure Obamacare was going to be the declared unconstitutional, and the decision came out months later, not the case. But I do think that the concern, after listening to those oral arguments about the constant, what's going to happen to Roe v. Wade, whether Roe v. Wade will be overturned, is real and it's serious, primarily because, when Donald Trump was president, running for president, he said he would appoint justices to the court who would overturn Roe v. Wade. That was during the campaign. He got three appointments to the bench. There is now a
6-3 conservative majority. And that is why, after listening to those oral arguments, I'm concerned and a lot of people are concerned that a constitutional right is -- could be on the verge of being overturned. And I think that's why Justice Sotomayor's question is the defining one for me, where she asks: "Will this institution survive the stench this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?" JUDY WOODRUFF: A lot of people are quoting that "survive the stench" line. DAVID BROOKS: Yes. Well, I think Roe is in danger at some point. Once the thought is expressed as clearly as
it was expressed, I think, eventually, they're going to get around to it. And I have, frankly, been someone who has always supported the overturning of Roe, not because I'm necessarily pro-life, but because I think the court should not decide it. I think the legislatures, and it should be decided by the democratic process. And I have always believed -- I used to believe, I should say, that, if it went back to legislators, the legislators would settle where the American people have settled. The majority of American
people do not want to ban abortion. They want to restrict it in some way. And different states would restrict it. And I have always assumed that we would wind up where Europe is, with tighter laws than we have, but not a ban. I am no longer so sanguine that our political system can handle a massive debate over an incredibly hard, incredibly complicated question. And I say that with the awareness that majorities don't seem to rule anymore. Polarized minorities rule in our politics very often. And so we may wind up, if Roe is overturned this year, next year with just vicious cultural, moral, political battles at a time when our democracy is extremely fragile. And that has
got to be worrying. JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you see the ramifications, Jonathan? We don't know what's going to happen. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Right. JUDY WOODRUFF: But if it goes in the direction it seems to be headed, even if it's something short of completely overturning Roe? JONATHAN CAPEHART: Yes, the political ramifications are huge, and I think part of the reasons that David was talking about. I mean, for Democrats, I'm sure -- if we want to get baldly political, for Democrats it could be a way of galvanizing the base at a time when the midterm elections are coming. Democratic voter turnout traditionally is lower during midterm elections. And they could
possibly be on the verge of losing the majority in the House. For Republicans, this could be a galvanizing thing for them in 2022 and 2024. But, in addition to all the things that David said, the question then becomes, it's also a very personal decision. When we're talking about a woman's reproductive health, it isn't just whether -- does she have access to abortion? No, this is one of the most personal things that she might have to endure, or will have to endure. And I look at the possibility of the overturning of that precedent, and I look
at other precedents out there that could also -- with a 6-3 conservative majority, that could also be in danger. I'm thinking about Obergefell. I could be looking at a possibility where my marriage could be nullified by the Supreme Court. So...
JUDY WOODRUFF: Upholding same-sex marriage. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Yes, upholding same-sex marriage. So, what happens with the Mississippi case -- in the Mississippi case, but also we haven't even talked about Texas. And we're still waiting to hear what the court has to say about that,
which actually has even more implications for, I think, things like same-sex marriage and other precedents. JUDY WOODRUFF: David, your point about whether the country can withstand that kind of a -- can the court withstand the perception that decisions are made based along party lines? I know Justice Breyer and others have said, oh, no, that's not what's going on here. DAVID BROOKS: Yes, of course, those on the pro-life think the court got into this in 1973 with Roe and they politicized it, and they invented a right. That would be the pro-life argument. And since then, our court and our judicial nomination system has become hyper-divided, hyperpolarized, because -- basically because of that issue. Can the credibility of the court -- Justice Breyer and Justice Barrett said, we're not political creatures.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Right. DAVID BROOKS: And, from their day-to-day perspective, that may appear to be true, because there are a lot of decisions that we don't talk about. They're not the big major decisions that are 7-2, 8-1, 9-0. But I have to say, when I reflect back on the big decisions that really make the headlines and really shift American history, from Bush v. Gore on to what's about to come, I'm stunned
by how incredibly easy to predict the votes based on their partisanship. And so, on the big issues, I think the court has become quite predictable and quite partisan, like the rest of America. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, speaking of partisanship, Jonathan, the Congress this week -- I guess the Democrats just barely got out of town, at least for the weekend, without having the government shut down. They were able to reach agreement over government spending.
But what -- the Democrats still have some -- and the president still have some big agenda items before them this month. What does it look like is going to happen? (LAUGHTER) JONATHAN CAPEHART: Chaos, Judy. Chaos. We have got -- so we avoided a government shutdown, actually, a day early, if you really think about it. But we now have a debt ceiling deadline, December 15, according to the Treasury secretary. The National Defense Reauthorization, that's supposed to be at the end of the year,
Build Back Better, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says, oh, we're going to get it done by the end of the year or Christmas. OK. Sure, if you say so. But -- and that's just, that's the stuff on the table. You have got Republicans who, on all of these things, are -- basically, they're not there. They're not a governing partner.
The problem comes when you have got Democrats talking to Democrats, and especially with Build Back Better. So I said chaos, I have no idea how this is going -- how this is going to turn out. But if it does turn out, it's just going to be messy, and it will bleed into next year, into 2022. And that's a problem for Democrats, because -- well, for the country, because, once we -- once 2022 is on the calendar, everything is going to grind to a halt, because nobody's going to want to get anything done.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What does it look like to you? DAVID BROOKS: Yes, and I saw a quote, an unnamed quote from a Hill staffer, saying the odds of getting Build Back Better this year were like 20 or 25 percent. So that -- because you got to have CBO scoring. You got to figure out what Joe Manchin wants. And so that's -- it would be very bad for Democrats. Joe Biden was elected to be competent,
to show it would be calm, we'd have a master -- the hand on the tiller, blah, blah, blah. And the longer Democrats go on, then the worse that claim looks. But I would say one thing in defense of the Democrats. A, it's basically a 50/50 Congress. That's hard. B, if you look back at American history, the Great Society took years to pass. The New Deal took years to pass. Our system was not built for speed. What worries me most -- and this is about the government shutdown -- like, they're now capable of doing nursery school level legislative activities. And you feel like they're just
barely doing that. I had a dentist once who was in my mouth and said: "I'm on the edge of my skill level here." And she is in my mouth. And I'm like, "What?" (LAUGHTER) DAVID BROOKS: So, I feel like the skill level on Capitol Hill is not where it should be, because they don't have experience of successful legislation.
That -- Teddy Kennedy did it. Back in those days, they really know how to do this stuff. And so that's the big worry to me. JUDY WOODRUFF: That's an image Jonathan and I are going to keep in our -- we're going to keep that in our minds.
(LAUGHTER) JUDY WOODRUFF: But members of Congress you know may remember the nursery school level. DAVID BROOKS: Oh. JUDY WOODRUFF: The president, Jonathan, has one other thing on his plate right now. And that, of course, is the is the variant, the new variant now. On top of Delta, we have Omicron. It's everywhere in the world. It's in multiple states. He's done a few things,
travel ban. We're going to have increased testing. How does it look? How does his management of this look? How much is riding on his management of this? JONATHAN CAPEHART: Well, a lot is riding on his management of this, but I do think he is striking the right tone. When we were talking about this last week, it was like, oh, my God, what is this thing? It's super contagious. I even mispronounced it because it was so new. JUDY WOODRUFF: A lot of us did.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Right. But the president comes out and he says, don't panic. Get vaccinated. Get your booster. Wear your mask, basically saying to the American people, look, we have the tools to be protected against this. And I also think that the American people, after a year-and-a-half of doing this, no one wants to go into a shutdown, not the president, not -- and certainly not the American people. So we know how to protect ourselves. So I think, if the president and the administration, as much as it can, project calm, but also clarity in what we need to do to protect ourselves from Omicron, he will be OK.
But, yes, everything is riding on this, because if we do get to a situation where he has to come to the American people and say, we have got to lock down again, even if it's for a good reason, I don't know how that's going to go over. JUDY WOODRUFF: It was something the NIH director, Francis Collins, who I talked to today, said it's something they don't want to do. DAVID BROOKS: Right. And Francis said, we're not powerless. I think that's the big story here. We're not where
we were a year ago. And, to me, the best thing the administration has done is buy millions of doses of this Pfizer and Merck treatment regimes. So, you get a positive test, you get five days, and you take 30 pills. I think that's the Pfizer one.
And it has like an 85 percent of reducing -- chance of reducing your hospitalization and death. So that suggests we're going to enter a phase where we're not going to kill COVID the way we wish, but we're going to learn to live with it, the way we live with the flu. And I think we're sort of at that point. And we're going to -- we're -- if you're fully vaccinated and you're under 50, your odds are quite good. It's still the folks who need
the continued care. And so I think we're just going to be in a country with a lot of COVID around for a long time. But we have tools now to make it a lot safer. JUDY WOODRUFF: We do have the tools. And, again, Director Collins saying, if we -- as you said, he said, we just need to keep doing what we do -- doing what we know how to do, which is the testing and pills. All right, we're going to leave it there. Jonathan Capehart, David Brooks, so good to
have you back again. Thank you. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Great to see you, Judy. JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you. And we will be back shortly with a Brief But Spectacular take from one of the stars of Broadway's "Hadestown."
But, first, take a moment to hear from your local PBS station. It's a chance to offer your support, which helps to keep programs like ours on the air. For those stations staying with us, an ongoing exhibition in Los Angeles is using technology to rethink art and who it honors.
Jeffrey Brown has more. JEFFREY BROWN: Life in Los Angeles' MacArthur Park, but not as you have ever seen in. This is a digital tribute to the workers who have lined the streets of this immigrant neighborhood for decades, an otherworldly portal between past, present and future worlds, exploring the continuing presence of an indigenous people native to L.A. In a new exhibit, Monumental Perspectives at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, or LACMA, five artists were tasked with reimagining monuments through new technology, augmented reality, an interactive experience that overlays digital information with the real, physical world. RUBEN OCHOA, Artist: I had to learn all these terms, because I wasn't familiar with all these terms. I had to learn how to navigate Snapchat.
JEFFREY BROWN: One of the five is Los Angeles-based artist Ruben Ochoa, whose piece, Vendedores Presente, pays homage to street vendors, many of whom are working-class immigrants from Mexico and Central America. RUBEN OCHOA: It's essentially like a magical realism, whimsical lens of vendedores falling -- floating down, eloteros flying around, to a paletero cart approaching you, and paletas popping up, to a towering bucket of flores spouting out flower petals. JEFFREY BROWN: The technology was new for Ochoa, but he comes from a family of street vendors, so his monument was personal and political. RUBEN OCHOA: For me it was like, how do I address what's happening presently in L.A.,
what I'm seeing around me, what's occurring? I talk about my roots of my family, the informal economy, and street vending. How do we pay tribute to that, but not just to one particular vendor or object? But it was more like the social fabric of vending. JEFFREY BROWN: In the height of 2020's social justice uprisings, many monuments were pulled down, many more raised questions. Why do they exist? Whom or what do they honor? Do they need to be here? Michael Govan, LACMA's director, wondered about a different approach.
MICHAEL GOVAN, Director, Los Angeles County Museum of Art: How do we move forward and to talk about celebrating figures that hadn't been celebrated? What should we monumentalize in the 21st century or who? JEFFREY BROWN: LACMA partnered with Snap, the social media company best known for its Snapchat messaging app, to create this exhibition. But why augmented reality, instead of something more physical or permanent? MICHAEL GOVAN: Monuments do augment our reality. They change the way we think of a place that might remind us of something. A monument might be there to allow us to remember something. So, whether it's in a virtual space or a real space, I think it can serve exactly the same function. MERCEDES DORAME, Artist: When I think about monuments, I think about how they're often a singular moment or a singular person. And it's kind of often, for indigenous people,
these histories that are really kind of traumatic for us. JEFFREY BROWN: Mercedes Dorame is an L.A.-based artist who created Portal for Tovaangar, a monument that pays tribute to her ancestry, the Gabrielino-Tongva Indians of California. MERCEDES DORAME: It's about this continuum of presence in Los Angeles of the Tongva people and other indigenous people there. What do we want to understand or reconnect with? And, for me, that is -- like, that is the cosmos, the sun, the stars. Like, what is inscribed in the land? The history of the land, the plants, the people, the kind of legacy that is still here, still in Los Angeles.
JEFFREY BROWN: She worked with an Australian artist who goes by the one name, Sutu, an expert in virtual reality and other technologies. SUTU, Artist and Lens Creator: She does paintings. She works with, like, artifacts and stones and shells and different things like this. And I wanted to make sure that we could bring
all that into the digital world. She created a painting and took it on site and photographed it on site, which was super helpful. I was then able to take those photos and extract the -- just the painting from them and bring that into the program. JEFFREY BROWN: He used a combination of 3-D modeling, animation, and other tools to create the augmented reality of the portal.
SUTU: There's no law of physics there. You can have anti-gravity, you can have things floating. One of the things that augmented reality lends to the world, I guess, is that it's -- you're bringing to life a physical place with the digital art. So, the digital art can provide context to that physical place. JEFFREY BROWN: That led to a question for museum director Govan. This whole project sort of raises a question of permanence, right? Does it have a life beyond, beyond what we see in Snap? MICHAEL GOVAN: Absolutely.
You think about monuments, they don't have to be a statue. Monuments can be written in books. They can be put on media. What are monuments? Monuments are ways to remember things that are useful to us to help us think about our past and hopefully think about our future, too, because there's a heroic aspect to what you want to remember to guide you forward.
So, it is also about the future. JEFFREY BROWN: For Ruben Ochoa, his monument' has led to an advocacy project: He's raised $60,000 through direct donations and the sale of limited edition prints to support vendors hit by the pandemic. RUBEN OCHOA: Because a lot of them are immigrants, they're not eligible for a stimulus check. And so this is their only means of survival, only means to put food on the table. JEFFREY BROWN: And Mercedes Dorame sees another benefit to this kind of project.
MERCEDES DORAME: The reason why I make artwork, the reason why I wanted to engage in a project like this with an institution such as LACMA and Snap is to push this story forward, to make our people more visible. And, for me, that goes into a lot of these pushes into institutions where we're thinking about representation and whose voice is heard. JEFFREY BROWN: New technology, new monuments, new ways of mixing art and history. For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Jeffrey Brown. JUDY WOODRUFF: For over five decades, actor Andre De Shields, known for his recent role in "Hadestown" -- I mispronounced it earlier -- has shared his talents with New York theater audiences.
With Tony, Grammy, and Emmy awards already under his belt, De Shields is still looking forward to what's ahead. Tonight, he shares his Brief But Spectacular take on living his most authentic life. ANDRE DE SHIELDS, ACTOR: I play Hermes, messenger to the gods, in the Tony Award-winning for best musical Broadway show "Hadestown." This is a line from "Hadestown." So, here's the thing, to know how it ends and still begin to sing it again, as if it might turn out this time. I learned that from a friend of mine.
I am the guy who won his first Tony at age 73. I was not surprised that it took seven decades for me to arrive at this particular zenith in my career. This simply means there are many more golden steps for me to take on my journey. I have only begun. I am the manifestation of my parents' deferred dreams. I made a vow to myself that, if I
was going to have any personal success in life, the first thing I had to do was make education my beacon, to master the language of those who would oppress me. Why? So that I could always understand what was being said to me and about me, and I could always make myself understood. I'm a hardworking Black man. All audiences enjoy hardworking Black men. Drop on your knee, sweat a little, smile.
But the legacy that I'm creating, the legacy that I want people to embrace is Black man majesty. There isn't enough of it in the world. It got smothered during enslavement. It's time for it to come back. My name is Andre De Shields, and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on living my most authentic life. JUDY WOODRUFF: And we're going to remember that one.
And you can watch all our Brief But Spectacular videos online at PBS.org/NewsHour/Brief. On the "NewsHour" online right now: The pandemic changed the landscape of school nutrition, and, in Maine, it became an opportunity to strengthen benefits for children. Read how the state became a model for providing school meals on our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour.
For more on the politics of the Omicron variant's arrival in the U.S. and analysis of the Supreme Court's hearing on Mississippi's restrictive abortion law, join "Washington Week" moderator Yamiche Alcindor and her panel tonight on PBS. And that is the "NewsHour" for tonight. I'm Judy Woodruff. Join us online and again here on Monday evening. For all of us at the "PBS NewsHour," thank you, please stay safe, and have a good weekend.