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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, January 27, 2022
Breyer Stepping Down from SCOTUS; Progressives Stepping Up to Run for Local Office: 'BradCast' 1/26/22
Guest: Run for Something's Amanda Litman; Also: Eastman loses suit to hide 1/6 emails...
Lots of Marginally Good News (But We Take What We Get): 'BradCast' 1/25/22
Drop Box voting restored in WI (for now); Great redistricting news in AL (unless appealed); 'Calming down' in Ukraine; Bad news for Alex Jones and John Eastman; More!...
'Green News Report' 1/25/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
OUR 1,200th EPISODE! Chemical pollution and the global ecosystem; Russia/Ukraine tensions to roil energy prices; PLUS: Intel's new $20B OH manufacturing hub...
Previous GNRs: 1/20/22 - 1/13/22 - Archives...
'So False it's Unbelievable': Plaintiff in Lawsuit Cited by Trump 'Order' to Seize Vote Systems: 'BradCast' 1/24/22
Guest: Marilyn Marks of CGG; Also: Ukraine tensions; SCOTUS takes up affirmative action...
Sunday 'Team Player' Toons
Join the party! With PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons!...
Draft Trump Order to Seize 2020 Vote Systems Misrepped Longstanding GA Lawsuit: 'BradCast' 1/21/22
Also: Harold Meyerson on building back BBB; Shell's billion dollar 'carbon capture' scam...
Trump Crime Family's Very Bad Week Gets Much MUCH Worse: 'BradCast' 1/20/22
Also: In vote of historic shame, Manchin and Sinema join Senate Republicans to undermine voting rights and American democracy...
'Green News Report' 1/20/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Breaking up Build Back Better?; Tonga devastated by volcano, tsunami; Extreme heat records in Southern Hemisphere; PLUS: Exxon pretends to care about the climate...
Previous GNRs: 1/13/22 - 1/11/22 - Archives...
On the Media, One Year In
and One Year Out: 'BradCast' 1/19/22
Guest: Eric Boehlert of Press Run; Also: SCOTUS okays release of Trump Jan. 6 records; NY A.G. details 'fraud' by Trump family; Fox Nation gets an hilarious 'hard no'...
GOP Gerrymanders 'Not So Bad' for Dems This Year? Think Again, Argues Expert: 'BradCast' 1/18/20
Guest: Brennan Center's Michael Li: Also: No fraud found in AZ; TX rejecting VBM requests...
Sunday 'National Treasure' Toons
Be sure to steal a moment for PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons...
DOJ 'Turning the Screws' on Path to Trump with Oath Keepers Sedition Charges: 'BradCast' 1/14/22
Guest: Marcy Wheeler; Also: WI judge bans drop boxes; OH Supremes nix GOP maps...
'Green News Report' 1/13/22
Offshore wind on NY, NJ horizons; 2021 oceans warmest ever recorded; Extreme weather spikes food, commodity prices; PLUS: EPA cracks down on toxic coal ash ponds...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Drop Box voting restored in WI (for now); Excellent redistricting news in AL (unless appealed); 'Calming down' in Ukraine; Bad news for key Jan. 6th instigators Alex Jones and John Eastman; And more!...
By Brad Friedman on 1/25/2022 6:20pm PT  

We'd love to tout all of the encouraging news we have for you on today's BradCast. We have quite a bit of it. Problem is, while we have a lot of it, each story is largely just marginally encouraging in and of itself. Still, these days, we'll take what we can get! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among the stories covered on today's program...

  • An appeals court in Wisconsin unanimously blocks a wingnut lower court judge's ruling from a few weeks ago that had declared the use of absentee ballot drop boxes to be in violation of state law, despite the many years that they've been in use. Who knew? So, good news that the judge was overturned for now. Bad news that the appellate court order only applies for now to the state's upcoming February primary elections.
  • Seemingly encouraging news out of Alabama today --- perhaps the only unqualified good news we've got to share with you all day, in fact! A three-judge federal court panel --- including two Trump appointees --- have rejected the state GOP's newly redistricted U.S. House map, declaring it to be an unlawful racial gerrymander in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act. The court's ruling, if it withstands appeal, would require the Republican-majority state legislature to draw two Black majority districts instead of one. That, in a state with a 27% Black electorate, represented for years by 6 Republican White men and 1 African-American Representative.
  • While the U.S. (and EU and NATO) continue their warnings of an "IMMINENT INVASION!" of Ukraine by Russia, Ukrainian officials have a message for the world: Please calm the fuck down! (Though please keep sending those weapons in the mean time.)
  • Oh, look! Wingnut radio conspiracy theorist, professional grifter, Donald Trump buddy, and key instigator of the deadly January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, Alex Jones, quietly sat down this week for questioning with the U.S. House Select Committee investigating Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election. That, even though Jones had previous filed a lawsuit to quash his subpoena from the Committee. Apparently, he pleaded the Fifth "almost 100 times" for some reason in the bargain, he says.
  • And, speaking of pleading the Fifth, (former?) law professor John Eastman, who wrote the memos detailing a plot for how then Vice President Mike Pence could "legally" steal the election for Trump by refusing to accept lawfully certified 2020 Electoral College votes on January 6th, also chose to avoid self-incrimination in criminal matters by invoking the privilege when he testified recently to the Committee. As of a court hearing on Monday, we now know he did so 146 times! That, according to details proffered during the hearing for a suit in which Eastman is suing his former employer, Chapman University. He is hoping to prevent them from releasing 19,000 of his emails subpoenaed by the House Select Committee and written from his university email address while working for free for Trump (unbeknownst to the non-partisan university, which eventually fired him for doing so.) The judge in the case is reportedly not happy with Eastman, and has ordered him to make a list of which of the 19,000 subpoenaed emails he believes should be withheld from the Committee due to attorney-client privilege.
  • Meanwhile, it continues to be a lousy time to be associated with our disgraced, twice-impeached loser of a former President. Even for a coal lobbyist. Democrats in the Virginia state Senate say they are now united in their hopes of blocking the new GOP Governor Glenn Youngkin's nomination of former Trump EPA Administrator (and coal lobbyist!) Andrew Wheeler for the commonwealth's top environmental official. SAD! That, after 150 former EPA employees signed a letter to the state Senators accusing Wheeler of having "pursued an extremist approach, methodically weakening EPA’s ability to protect public health and the environment, instead favoring polluters." (Though because the state Senate Dems haven't yet taken the very rare step of blocking the new Guv's nominee, the news is still to be considered marginally good for the moment.)
  • Finally, while it should be very good news that we are sharing our 1,200th Green News Report today --- coincidentally in the same week that The BRAD BLOG is celebrating our 18th birthday --- the fact that we've had to do 1,200 GNRs (instead of saving humanity and the entire planet about 800 episodes ago) makes the good news only marginal as well. As usual, the content of today's report doesn't help much either...though even there, we've got a bit of marginally encouraging news for ya.

You're welcome!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel; Also: WI judge bars all ballot drop boxes; OH Supremes nix GOP-gerrymandered state, U.S. House maps...
By Brad Friedman on 1/14/2022 6:45pm PT  

We're fighting again today on The BradCast to prevent the murder of American democracy. Lord knows Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin don't seem to give a damn about it. As usual these days, that means looking both forward and back. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

On Thursday in Wisconsin, as Election Law Blog described it, a rightwing Circuit Court Judge "suddenly discovers that, despite years of use, absentee ballot drop boxes are actually unlawful." He is now ordering that ballots may be returned only in person (not by family members or neighbors) or by much less secure U.S. Postal Service boxes. Unless overturned on appeal, the ruling could have a chilling effect on critical Gubernatorial and U.S. Senate elections in the Badger State this year, after some 500 secure drop boxes were successfully deployed across the state without incident in 2020.

There is better news for democracy's future this week out of Ohio (of all places). The Republican majority state Supreme Court, in two 4 to 3 rulings --- with the GOP Chief Justice serving as swing-vote with the court's three Democrats --- struck down new maps for both state House and Senate districts, as well as the one drawn up for Congress by Ohio's new Redistricting Commission.

The Commission was created as part of a Constitutional amendment adopted by 71% of voters in 2015, in hopes of doing away with far-right partisan gerrymandering in the Buckeye State. Their constitution now requires maps reflect the general partisan makeup of the state, which the court found leaned 54% to 46% toward the GOP in statewide elections over the past decade. But the Republicans who currently control the Redistricting Committee drew up maps that lean well over 2 to 1 in favor of their own party!

"When the dealer stacks the deck in advance, the house usually wins," the court majority wrote. "[T]he evidence in these cases makes clear beyond all doubt that the General Assembly did not heed the clarion call sent by Ohio voters to stop political gerrymandering." Despite the state's narrow GOP advantage, the Congressional map proposed by the Commission would have given Republicans a 12 to 3 advantage over Democrats in U.S. House races! Shamefully, Justice Pat DeWine --- son of Ohio's Republican Governor Mike DeWine (who, himself, sits on the Redistricting Commission!) --- refused to recuse himself from the vote --- just to give you an idea of how much the GOP is hoping to murder democracy in Ohio. Happily, it didn't work, and Democrats are likely to pick up several U.S. House seats when real maps are drawn up to meet the state constitution's (and voters!) requirements and the Supreme Court's approval.

The state-by-state, court case-by-court case slog to preserve democracy will now continue, as the two obstructionist Democrats in the Senate, Sinema and Manchin, show no signs of defending it in the U.S. Senate. A debate on the two critical federal voting rights and election protection bills they both claim to support --- the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act --- will receive a vote next week, thanks to some parliamentary maneuvering to avoid a GOP filibuster to hold a debate. But they are likely to with zero Republican votes for either measure (ten would be needed to overcome the Senate's 60-vote filibuster threshold) unless Sinema and Manchin do the right thing and vote to reform the undemocratic Senate rule. No one believes they will. But at least they'll be on record so voters can hold them accountable --- or try to.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, don't tell Brit Hume, but Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and ten of his henchmen were charged with seditious conspiracy for their part in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The deadly assault was in hopes of preventing the certification of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory as part of Donald Trump's effort to steal the 2020 election.

We're joined again today by MARCY WHEELER, longtime independent investigative national security journalist at Emptywheel.net, to discuss what the new charges may mean as the Dept. of Justice moves up the chain of command in their investigation --- their largest in history --- of the Jan 6. insurrection and how, and if, this brings them closer to the kingpin, our failed former President.

Over the holidays, Wheeler joined guest host Nicole Sandler to lay out a persuasive case that Merrick Garland and the DoJ are, in fact, vigorously working from the bottom up to potentially reach Trump. She described how they are making headway in that regard. Today, Wheeler explains how the new charges are likely to move the DoJ closer to several main instigators of the deadly U.S. Capitol attack, including Trump's right-hand men like Roger Stone, Rudy Giuliani and Alex Jones.

"What the [charge of] seditious conspiracy does, for Rhodes in particular, is it broadens what he was doing and really implicates his efforts to arm everyone," she tells me. "We knew that these efforts continued after January 6th. They still thought that Trump was going to invoke the Insurrection Act. So they were all gathering in Texas and acquiring arms to do that. That shows the continuity of plans beyond just January 6th."

She notes the new charge of sedition also "shuts up the Republicans," who have increasingly claimed the attack wasn't particularly violent, dangerous or any big deal --- and many in the media, naturally, have been going along with that idea. But with charges of sedition "the media is finally paying attention. I've had conversations with about 5 CNN people who, for the last month and a half, were saying 'Nothing was happening,' [but] now are like, 'Wow! Big news!'"

"The real point of this indictment is to turn the screws on the people that are charged to try and get them to flip," Wheeler contends, as prosecutors work their way up from those who committed lesser crimes, through the more violent and pre-planned ones, up to those behind it all.

In addition to the seditious conspiracy charges, prosecutors have added "another conspiracy for interrupting a government official's duty," she observes. "The reason I'm interested in that is when you look at these conspiracies, every single one that has ever been written in this investigation could plunk Trump right into the middle of it."

"But with Stewie [Rhodes], you go beyond January 6th. You start talking about an attack on Joe Biden. That's what I think makes it seditious conspiracy. But the added conspiracy charge of interrupting a government official, that's something Trump did," she argues. "One of things that DOJ has been focused, laser sharp since very early, is the way in which all of these rioters were targeting Mike Pence."

"DoJ is turning the screws," Wheeler claims. "They're trying to get these people to flip. That's what I think you would need to get through to Roger Stone and, beyond him, to others."

As usual with our friend Marcy, there is lot to discuss and digest. She follows all of these cases --- hundreds of them brought so far --- likely as close or closer than anyone in the country. Tune in today for much more on all of this!

Finally, just to leave today on one more encouraging note...Last week, we reported that Virginia's GOP Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin had tapped coal lobbyist turned Trump EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler as his new Secretary of Natural Resources. But, on Friday, more than 150 former EPA officials who served under both Democratic and Republican Administrations sent a blistering letter to the commonwealth's Democratic-majority state Senate, urging them to reject Wheeler's confirmation. If Ds stick together, they would be able to use their 21-19 majority to stop Wheeler's confirmation dead in his corrupt, coal-dusted tracks...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Dr. Nils Gilman of Berggruen Institute; Also: Life sentences for the Arbery murderers; CyberNinjas fined by AZ judge, claim to shut down...
By Brad Friedman on 1/7/2022 7:07pm PT  

It's been a rough week. So before we get to America's rising 'demons of hell' on today's BradCast and how we might counter their re-emergence against what is left of American democracy, a few slightly more encouraging news items to kick things off. [Audio linnk to full show is posted at end of summary.]

In Georgia, the three white men who were caught on video tape murdering 25-year old black jogger Ahmaud Arbery in 2020 after hunting him down in their pick-up trucks, were each sentenced today to life in prison. Two of them, father and son, got life without the possibility of parole. The third, their neighbor, could be paroled after serving 30 years. But he's already 52, so...

In Arizona, or Florida, or wherever "they" preside, the buffoonish, rightwing conspiracy theorists, con-men and theoretical cybersecurity experts calling themselves Cyber Ninjas, declared they exist no more. That, just one day after an AZ state judge said they are to be fined $50,000 for each day that they continued to refuse to hand over public documents regarding the pretend "forensic audit" of Maricopa County (Phoenix), AZ's 2020 Presidential election they were hired by the GOP state Senate to carry out. More on that matter, hopefully, on a not-too-distant BradCast.

Next, as our week commemorating the grim, one-year anniversary of Donald Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election by hurling thousands of supporters at the U.S. Capitol last year on January 6th, in hopes of halting the certification of the Electoral College vote with a deadly insurrection, comes to a close, a bit of mopping up and looking ahead to ways to prevent a more successful election coup from happening in the near future.

First, some reflections today from our 39th President, the 97-year old democracy champion Jimmy Carter. He wrote this week in the New York Times that he now "fears" for our democracy, citing last year's insurrection and the politicians in his home state of Georgia and elsewhere, such as Texas and Florida, who have "leveraged the distrust they have created to enact laws that empower partisan legislatures to intervene in election processes." Carter sees Americans "being persuaded to think and act likewise, threatening to collapse the foundations of our security and democracy with breathtaking speed." He says the he now fears that what he, his Carter Center and America itself "have fought so hard to achieve globally — the right to free, fair elections, unhindered by strongman politicians who seek nothing more than to grow their own power — has become dangerously fragile at home."

Carter is hardly the only one with a long and broad perspective on history who has become unnerved by what we are now seeing in America. Ronald Reagan's U.S. Solicitor General, Charles Fried, interviewed last month by CNN's Christiane Amanpour, noted his birth in Prague in 1935, when "Czechoslovakia was a real democracy" before "the demons of hell came out and spoiled that for 50 years." The 86-year old longtime Republican and Harvard Law professor now says he sees "those people re-emerging" and he "hears the same tune and it scares me."

So, for those of us paying attention, what can be done? We talk about exactly that today with our guest, DR. NILS GILMAN of the Berggruen Institute, following on his recent L.A. Times op-ed discussing similar nightmares as those cited by Carter and Fried which have continue to emerge throughout 2021 and what we can ALL now do to try and counter them.

Gilman was also the co-founder the Transition Integrity Project (TIP), a bipartisan group of security, military, political and media experts who met during the summer of 2020 to game out what might happen [PDF] in various worst-case scenarios if Trump decided to declare the election results invalid and/or refused to leave office that fall. We begin today with how his TIP group viewed the January 6 Electoral College certification event in advance, which he says they saw as a "moment of Constitutional stress that bad actors could potentially exploit," warning at the time that "there needed to be preparations on the part of law enforcement to be ready for that possibility." Perhaps we'll pay more attention to his group's warnings the next time, if they decide they need to reconvene before 2024 election.

He is now warning, in his piece at L.A. Times, that "the runaway train of illiberalism continues to bear down on American democracy, and the need to act could not be more urgent." Gilman explains today what he means by the term "illiberal democracy," a phrase he cites as being coined by Hungarian strongman President Viktor Orban, who was recently endorsed by Donald Trump. Under Orban, Hungary, in recent years, has seen its media essentially taken over by his rightwing government.

Citing strongman leaders "all over the world, in Brazil, Turkey, the Philippines, Poland, "you're seeing the rise of this illiberal democracy, where you still have elections, but the electoral process is so corrupted that it basically ensures that you will get right or far-right victories under any and all circumstances." Sound familiar? That, as nations like Hungary are literally being hailed of late by folks on the American right like Tucker Carlson and Fox "News". "It's being celebrated in rightwing media as a model that America might want to follow," Gilman charges.

He goes on to detail, both in his op-ed and on today's program, what "ordinary citizens" who oppose such fascist takeovers of our democracy can and must do at the state and local level --- as we wait and hope for voting rights and election protection legislation at the federal level --- to otherwise counter such forces. Election officials are now facing threats from Trump's MAGA Mob across the country, even as his supporters are working to take over key election administration positions by both hook and crook.

"People can go out and become pollworkers," urges Gilman. "We have an under-supply. Run as a local election administrator. There are thousands of positions all over the country. Our election system is currently totally decentralized and local administrators have a lot of power, and we need people committed to the democratic process to be in those position, not people who are committed to partisan victory at any and all costs."

As he explains, "there are things that an ordinary citizen can do. But the truth is that the real problem is we need to have elites who are going to be committed to democratic practice. What we have in this country now --- and we're seeing this very much in the current Congress --- you see a split between some elites who are basically complicit with the crimes of the previous administration and then others who are complacent about the likelihood that this could come back. We need elites to take this problem more seriously and really take on the challenge of illiberalism and the anti-democratic tendencies that are becoming more and more legion in this country, particularly on the right."

We also discuss my personal concerns --- my personal nightmares --- about the ability of committed, bad faith Republicans at this point to game the Electoral College in 2024 in a way they were not prepared to do in 2020. If they do so --- at the state legislative and/or Congressional level --- I believe there is nothing currently in federal law or the U.S. Constitution to prevent such a bad-faith exercise from succeeding next time. Please tune in to see if Gilman shares my concern.

Finally today, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest, very lively, Green News Report, which we had to postpone until today to make room yesterday for our special coverage of the first anniversary of the GOP's January 6th, 2021 insurrection...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 1/6/2022 10:46am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Germany shuts down half of its last remaining nuclear power plants; Trump's EPA chief, a former coal lobbyist, tapped for Virginia's top environmental post; Toyota, Chevy and Ford make big EV announcements; PLUS: San Francisco gets the world's first hydrogen powered ferry... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

GNR's now celebrating 12 YEARS of independent green news, politics, analysis, snarky comment and connecting climate change dots over your public airwaves!
PLEASE CLICK HERE TO HELP US CELEBRATE WITH A DONATION!

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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): 6 big environmental stories to watch in 2022; 2021 temperature records now coming in; Manchin [claims he] sees path to climate deal; A month of unprecedented U.S. weather disasters ends with Colorado fire catastrophe; Ford launches effort to make EV charging in the US much easier; Texas gas barons have not learned lessons of blackouts; Judge orders release of disputed DAPL documents; Texas enacts nation's strongest flood disclosure law; Wildfires are digging carbon-spewing holes in the Arctic... PLUS: This vast wildfire lab is helping foresters prepare for a hotter planet... and much, MUCH more! ...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Guest: UC-Berkeley's Philip B. Stark, post-election audit expert; Also: Another young GOP anti-vaxxer dies in SoCal; 2021 ends and 2022 begins with another round of deadly, climate change-fueled extreme weather...
By Brad Friedman on 1/4/2022 6:16pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Last September, Donald Trump demanded an "audit" of the 2020 Presidential election in Texas, where he was certified to have won by about 550,000 votes, the narrowest victory for a Republican nominee in the Lone Star State in decades. Hours after he demanded it, his lapdog, Republican Governor Greg Abbott, made it happen. Despite the state's top election administrator previously describing the 2020 election as "safe and secure", state taxpayers are now quietly paying for another review of results in the so-called "conservative" state. Four of its largest counties are being reviewed. Three of them went to Joe Biden in 2020. A report from the first phase of the so-called 'forensic audit' was released last week, when as few people as possible might notice: At the end of the day on Friday...New Years Eve. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But before we get there today, a quick update on the quickly intensifying Omicron surge of the coronavirus, as more than 100,000 Americans were hospitalized as of Monday, the highest number since the late summer Delta surge. President Biden once again urged Americans to get their shots. In White House remarks he said the public should "be concerned about Omicron, but don't be alarmed," before adding, "but if you're unvaccinated, you have some reason to be alarmed."

It's unknown if the Republican anti-vaxxer community in Orange County, CA will be moved by the President's comments. Perhaps the death this week of their well known 46-year old Deputy District Attorney, Kelly Ernby, a longtime GOP anti-vaccine activist and failed political candidate, will get their attention. We share her tragic, if predictable, story today, just weeks after the prosecutor's last Southern California rally in December in favor of "freedom" in opposition to vaccine mandates.

Then we're joined by PHILIP B. STARK, longtime Professor of Statistics at UC-Berkeley and the inventor of the post-election Risk Limiting Audit (RLA) protocol, to discuss the very quietly released "Phase 1 Progress Report" [PDF] of what Texas is describing as a "Full Forensic Audit of November 2020 General Election". The phrase "forensic audit", as Stark notes, doesn't actually have any accepted definition or specific meaning. But, we also discuss much more about the newly found "forensic audit" fever among Republicans who have spent years blocking Democratic measures in Congress to institute legitimate post-election audits in all 50 states after every election.

You'll not be surprised to learn that the Lone Star State's review, at least so far, appears to have turned up pretty much nothing unusual at all. Their hand-count of ballots (not of results, apparently, but simply of the number of ballots) in a number of precincts in each of four different large counties (Dallas, Harris, Tarrant and Collin) appears to have largely confirmed the original certified totals in those precincts. We discuss the not-much-to-see-here details that add to the continuing pattern of Republicans finding no evidence at all that the 2020 election was stolen, as Trump continues to falsely complain to this day.

But there is a much larger picture to discuss. The implementation of secret, computerized tallying of ballots over the past two decades has made election results virtually impossible for the public to oversee. That has helped open the door to crackpot claims like those from the loser former President that our elections are littered with fraud and false tallies. Stark explains how the lack of legitimate post-election audits, safeguards, transparency and "evidence-based elections" has led the nation to this moment when American democracy itself is now under very serious threat.

"The end goal is to conduct elections in such a way that we have strong evidence that the reported winners actually won," Stark explains. "In order to do that, you need to start by running your election well. You will have the documents, processes, the security protocols, etc., in place that allow you to do a meaningful audit that can tie a bow around the election, and say, yes, whatever might have gone wrong with the election didn't change the reported outcome."

"The problem," he continues, "is if you go into an election that wasn't run especially well, and then afterwards try to do something based on the records that you do have. You're never going to be able to present affirmative records that the reported winners really did win. They won't give you evidence for or against the outcome being right."

And then, the conversation turns much darker.

"I don't want to be alarmist, but I think we have a very short period of time in which to make our election processes far more publicly transparent and visible, and have much more public participation," Stark warns. "If we haven't implemented evidence-based elections by the 2024 Presidential election we are very likely to see serious civil unrest in the aftermath. We have to make it a top priority to conduct our elections in a way that they produce real evidence of who won, not just 'trust me, I did it right,' or 'trust the vendor who sold me the [voting and tabulation] equipment' or 'trust the people who configured it for me,' or 'trust this or trust that,' but actually 'show me!' We really need to have 'show me,' not 'trust me' elections."

As much as we strive to avoid false "both sidesism" on this program --- and even though some Dems in Congress have tried for years to adopt federal legislation mandating real post-election audits, only to be stymied by Republicans every time --- this really is a bipartisan problem. "After the 2016 election, the Republicans didn't want to look. After the 2020 election, the Democrats don't want to look. If you like the answer, you don't want to look too hard. I think that's a terrible mistake. It allows uncertainty to be weaponized, which is what we've seen in the aftermath of the 2020 election," Stark cautions.

He continues: "The fact that a system is vulnerable does not mean that it was exploited. But we ought to build our systems or run our systems in a way that if a vulnerability was exploited, we can catch it and correct the outcome before it becomes final. And we know how to do that. It is a solved problem. It is not rocket science. It does involve a lot of shoe leather. And it involves not trusting computers on the whole. It requires public transparency."

But if that is not going to happen at the federal level (thanks in no small part to Democratic Senators Manchin and Sinema, who are joining Republicans to block passage of audit mandates in the Freedom to Vote Act), it can certainly happen at the state level, where very few, if any, states currently carry out audits that are robust and transparent enough to earn full voter confidence. "I hope that some state legislatures rise to the occasion and decide to do evidence-based elections in time for at least 2024, if not the midterms," Stark tells me.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our first Green News Report of the new year, with deadly climate change-fueled extreme weather already wreaking havoc across both the nation and the world as 2022 begins...

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Biden addresses nation on Omicron emergency plans, begs vaccine disinfo peddlers to 'stop'; Also: Trump got secretly boosted; Coal miners union wants thin-skinned, corrupt Manchin to reconsider BBB...
By Brad Friedman on 12/21/2021 6:03pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: As the year grinds toward another bizarre, unbalanced close, America tries to pick up the pieces and keep moving forward. So do we. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Among the stories covered on today's program...

  • On the heels of Sen. Joe Manchin's stunning weekend announcement that he was breaking his promise to the President and his party to support the Build Back Better Act, which includes nearly $600 million to fight climate change and help coal miners in Manchin's home state, the nation's largest mining union is hoping that the West Virginia Senator will reconsider his decision. Among the funds in BBB is money earmarked for victims of black lung disease as well as tax incentives to help ex-miners from the dying industry and to protect its union workers. While Manchin makes millions from the coal industry via the coal brokerage firm he founded, which is now owned by his son, he doesn't appear to give a damn about the industry's actual miners.
  • A few additional thoughts today on why the corrupt Democratic Senator from West Virginia --- who is killing the most progressive climate and social spending agenda in the nation's history (after every single Republican in Congress has refused to support it in anyway) --- is still needed in the Democratic caucus. For a start, without him, there would have been no American Rescue Plan (which sent $1,400 checks to Americans earlier this year, expanded the Child Tax Credit program to send $300 per child each month to parents, and helped get hundreds of millions vaccinated), nor would President Biden have been able to seat a record number of federal judges in the first year of his Presidency. Without Manchin as a Democrat --- love him or hate him --- Mitch McConnell and the Republicans would be in the Senate majority right now and none of Biden's many critical accomplishments to date would have happened.
  • So, why did Manchin decide to break his promise to his party and the President on BBB? Steve Clemons reports that while negotiations between the two Joes had been moving forward, even if slowly, the thin-skinned Senator didn't like being singled out by name in a statement from the White House --- even though the statement was largely encouraging about the state of negotiations. Lame. But we think that even that explanation is likely little more than excuse for Manchin's betrayal. We explain why.
  • Next, the remarkably transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus is spreading at an absolutely unfathomable speed in the U.S. just before the Christmas holiday, according to the latest CDC numbers out this week. In little over a week, it appears to have gone from just 3% of cases to 73% of cases nationwide, all but edging out Delta entirely. There are one or two possibly encouraging pieces of news about the new variant, but it will still be a matter of weeks before we know if those potentially reassuring points will come to pass. In the meantime, a whole bunch of people are going to get sick and many are likely to die. Almost all of those who get severely ill and face both hospitalization and death will be those who refused to (or couldn't, for legitimate reasons) get vaccinated, including with a critical booster shot.
  • Among those who received a booster shot recently --- in secret --- is former President Donald Trump. That, after suggesting in September he was unlikely to get one. Turns out he's a liar. Who knew?
  • Amidst the disturbing news of Omicron's lightning surge, and the hospitals that are likely to become overwhelmed very shortly across the nation (many already are), President Biden addressed the nation from the White House on Tuesday afternoon. He shared the Administration's plans to try and minimize the coming damage. Biden announced that the federal government will spend more than a billion dollars on free home COVID test kits; instructed the Pentagon to be prepared to deploy more than 1,000 National Guard troops to help overcrowded hospitals handle the coming testing, infection, and hospitalization surge; is activating FEMA to deploy additional hospital beds where hospitals are overrun, and to have ambulances on standby to help transport patients from one overrun hospital to another where a bed may be available. He reiterated the need for everyone to get vaccinated and explained what families should and shouldn't do over the coming holidays. We share his address in full today, and offer a few thoughts in response.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us with our latest Green News Report on climate fallout from Manchin's BBB announcement; a deadly December super-typhoon that slammed the Philippines; and some good news on mileage standards from the EPA and for the U.S. offshore wind industry...

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Guest: Nicolás Rivero of Quartz; Also: House finally passes Biden BBB agenda, hard part waits in Senate; VA school board unbans books; Fight for majority control of VA House of Delegates not over yet...
By Brad Friedman on 11/19/2021 7:00pm PT  

Apparently it's another myth busting episode of The BradCast today. It would be nice if lousy reporting from the corporate media --- particularly regarding the economy --- didn't make these so frequently necessary of late. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up today, a few other stories of note today...

  • The 17-year old white kid who crossed a state border into Kenosha, Wisconsin to unlawfully wield a semi-automatic weapon before using it to shoot three anti-racism protesters, killing two of them, was acquitted of all charges today. So, we guess it's now open season to shoot anyone ya like, as long as you claim it was done in self-defense. And, yes, as long as you're white.
  • Democrats in the U.S. House finally came together today to pass the Build Back Better Act, President Biden's nearly $2 trillion landmark spending bill to expand healthcare, childcare, education, eldercare and much MUCH more, including the most substantive action to combat the global climate crisis in the history of the nation. Every Republican in the chamber voted against it. The transformative legislation includes scores and scores of long-overdue provisions that, if virtually any one of them were passed on their own as a standalone bill, it would be, to paraphrase the President, a BFD. But, of course, while getting it through the House took months, that was the easy part. Now, the crowning achievement of Biden's agenda will have to get through the U.S. Senate, where, without any Republican votes, all 50 Senators who caucus with the Democrats will have to sign off on in order to pass it under Senate budget reconciliation rules. That means obstructionist Democrats like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema may feel free to water it down further than they already have, or kill it all together. We'll find out what happens when the upper chamber picks up the measure, after the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • A few days ago, we reported on the Spotsylvania County, Virginia School Board's 6 to 0 vote last week to begin removing certain books from their school's libraries after a debate about whether they should ban the books or both ban and burn them. It was one of several stories we highlighted to underscore the unmistakable drumbeat of rising authoritarianism in our country right now. But, at least on that story, there is some good news this week. Democracy struck back! After 4 and a half hours of public comment at the Board's subsequent meeting this week, cut off only because it was midnight, the Board voted to reverse it's ban! Though the Board's two book burning proponents stood their ground, they lost in a 5 to 2 vote. All thanks to excellent local media reporting and a huge turnout from teachers, librarians, parents and teachers who spoke passionately in favor of libraries and books while calling for the book burners to resign.
  • Following up on another story we covered earlier this week, on the media's horrifically misleading reporting on inflation, we share part of a Paul Waldman excellent column from WaPo that sounds as if it could have been ripped straight from The BradCast's coverage that day, myth busting the very same issues that we did.
  • Then, picking up on a related-ish myth that needs busting as well this week, we're joined by NICOLÁS RIVERO of Quartz, to discuss his recent myth-busting, deep-dive reporting on our current, pre-Christmas, "post-pandemic" supply chain issues and why, despite no shortage of bad reporting on this, a shortage of truck drivers is not actually to blame.

    In fact, the industry has been claiming virtually every year since 2005 (and, really, going back to the late 1980s as Rivero documents), that they have a shortage of drivers. Last month, the American Trucking Associations announced a shortage of 80,000 drivers, declaring it "an all-time high for the industry." That, despite the fact that states issue more than 450,000 new commercial driver's licenses every year. Something doesn't add up here. At the same time, as Rivero tells me today, "between 1995 and 2017, the turnover rate at big trucking companies averaged 94%," according to the industry's own data. "That means that every year, they are refilling the equivalent of virtually every driving position, because people are quitting and leaving."

    "The real shortage," he explains, is not of truckers, but "of good trucking jobs that can attract and retain workers in a tight labor market." So, why isn't supply keeping up with demand in that supposedly free market? Rivero discusses the industry's "race to the bottom," leading drivers to take equal or better paying jobs elsewhere that don't come with all of the burdens --- especially for long-haulers --- the industry now forces onto their drivers.

    We also discuss the trucker's unions' part in all of this, and how --- and if --- Biden's new infrastructure bill might actually improve the situation, for drivers, for the industry and, yes, for our "post-pandemic" supply chain woes.

  • Finally, in our closing few minutes (before standing down to hit the road ourselves for the holiday next week!), the fight for control of the Virginia House of Delegates may not be as over as it appeared almost three weeks ago, when Republicans were declared by media to have taken the majority back from the Democrats during the off-year elections. A very close race in one district and a tallying error in another very close race (leading the Dem who currently holds that seat to withdraw her concession), has now resulted in two upcoming recounts. Republicans will control 50 seats in the 100-seat chamber. The question is now whether the GOP will control the chamber outright or --- long shot as it may be --- if both races flip to the Democrats resulting in a 50-50 power sharing agreement. Luckily, the commonwealth recently moved from 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems to hand-marked paper ballots. So a fair, overseeable count of voter intent is now possible in the state where Republican Glenn Youngkin was declared the winner in the Gubernatorial race and Republicans swept the other two statewide races on November 2nd for Lt. Governor and Attorney General.

We'll be watching over the holidays, even as 'The BradCast' and 'GNR' stand down next week for a much needed recharge of batteries and some long-overdue family time. We'll see ya after the holiday! Desi and I both hope it will be a healthy and happy one for all!...

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Ominous warnings for those who wish to notice: Republican gerrymanders continue; GOPers v. GOPers; More details on the attempt to steal the 2020 election; Book 'burning'; Trump's COVID cover-up...
By Brad Friedman on 11/16/2021 7:18pm PT  

It seemed like everything I read before today's BradCast, everything I was pushed toward via social media, everything that I simply happened to stumble upon on my own one way or another, felt like a soundtrack for America's rising authoritarianism. Everything, that is, except for the inspirational words about journalism from Pope Francis. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among the stories providing today's unmistakably dark drumbeat of America's rising authoritarianism...

  • The Pope pays "homage" to journalists and journalism, including this passage that serves us inspiration today: "Your mission is to explain the world, to make it less dark, to make those who live there fear it less and look at others with greater awareness, and also with more confidence. It is not an easy mission. It is difficult to think, meditate, deepen, stop to collect ideas and to study the contexts and precedents of a news item. The risk, you know well, is that of letting oneself be crushed by the news instead of being able to make sense of it." [The full comments in Italian; The Vatican's translation.]
  • More disturbing, extreme GOP gerrymandering this week in both Ohio and Georgia (and what we think Democrats should do in response before it's successfully used by Republicans take over the U.S. House majority in 2022 and then steal the American Presidency with it in 2024.)
  • Picking up on where we left off at the end of yesterday's BradCast, with the violent death threats against Michigan's Republican Rep. Fred Upton, who dared vote for Joe Biden's non-controversial, bipartisan infrastructure bill. Upton is hardly the only Republican now being turned on by fellow Republicans for voting to improve the nation's roads and bridges. Or, as Georgia's Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene describes it, a "communist takeover of America". Rep. Anthony Gonzales (R-OH) voted, along with Upton, in favor of Trump's second impeachment earlier this year following the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, incited by the disgraced President as part of his efforts to steal the 2020 election. Gonzales has decided not to run for re-election and explained his thoughts over the weekend on the "political loser" Trump, the mistake his party has made by backing him, and his plans to fight against Trump's re-election in 2024 if he runs. Gonzales' thoughts are worth hearing (so we share some of them), though they also reveal that Gonzales does not have clean hands himself in the ugly, growing divisiveness between Republicans and Democrats. (And between Republicans and other Republicans who are deemed not Trumpy enough.)
  • Speaking of which, despite a 93% record of voting with the former President during his four years in office (a higher percentage than Trump apparatchiks Jim Jordan, Elise Stefanik, Paul Gosar or Matt Gaetz), the Wyoming state Republican Central Committee voted over the weekend to no longer recognize conservative Republican Rep. Liz Cheney as a member of their party. Yes, that's how twisted --- and terrifying --- and authoritarian --- the Republican Party has now become. (Can you hear the drumbeat?)
  • New details, via a new book from ABC News' Jonathan Karl, on how Trump Campaign attorney, Jenna Ellis, sent a memo with instructions to then Vice-President Mike Pence on the specific steps he needed to take in order to direct several swing-state legislatures and the U.S. House to steal the Presidential election on January 6th.
  • Not authoritarian enough for ya yet? It goes all the way down to the ground. The School Board in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, last week, had a debate about whether they should ban certain books from school libraries or whether they should both ban and burn them. Seriously. (Hearing those drums yet?) For now, they voted unanimously to ban them...and to reconsider burning later. They are hardly the only ones on the increasingly hard right to cancel facts and ideas they do not like. Over the summer, Florida's authoritarian Governor and Presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis convinced his appointed State Board of Education to approve a rule banning critical race theory and the use of material from the New York Times' Pulitzer Prize winning "1619 Project" from Florida classrooms.
  • While it's still remarkable that Trump has yet to face charges for mass homicide for the hundreds of thousands of Americans he helped to die from the coronavirus last year, more details are now emerging, via the U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, about how the Administration purposefully suppressed science and public health guidance from the CDC last year. Amidst the most deadly pandemic in more than 100 years, the Administration, according to testimony and documentation from both current and former public health officials given to the Subcommittee, decisions were made to alter scientific guidance and prevent health officials from communicating directly with the public. They were even given instructions at various points to destroy evidence of their email communications on these matters. Sounds like criminal activity to me. (You still there, Merrick Garland?)
  • Finally, taking a break from the drumbeat of rising American authoritarianism, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as the U.N.'s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow ends in overtime with progress, compromises and disappointments. And President Biden signs his landmark, bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal with billions of dollars worth of long-overdue climate-related measures contained within...

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Son of VA's GOP Guv-elect tried to vote illegally. Twice; 1/6 Comm. moving toward Trump; COVID lies widen death gap between 'red', 'blue' states...
By Brad Friedman on 11/9/2021 6:34pm PT  

We've got a lot of news to cover on today's BradCast, breaking and otherwise. Not all of it is terrible. So there's that! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among today's stories...

  • First up, a story that broke late last week which we need to note here for the record. The 17-year old son of Glenn Youngkin, Virginia's presumptive Governor-elect, tried to vote illegally last week. Twice. At a precinct where his family isn't even registered to vote --- even though he's too young to vote at all, but "insisted" on being allowed to do so. His father pretended to run on an "election integrity" platform during the primary, but his campaign is now criticizing the media for reporting on the story at all. Meanwhile, Virginia election officials suggest Youngkin's son broke no laws --- which seems impossible to fathom once you hear the details. Of course, it's made all the more maddening by knowing what generally happens to those who happen to be black or brown while unknowingly voting or registering unlawfully --- versus what happens to the white son of an incoming Republican Governor. Just ask Crystal Mason in Texas for one.
  • On Tuesday, a U.S. District Court judge overseeing Donald Trump's federal lawsuit attempting to prevent the National Archives from releasing January 6th-related records from his White House, denied his latest motion. The records were been subpoenaed by the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol and will be turned over to the Committee on Friday unless the judge, or a higher court, rules otherwise before then. We explain.
  • The same Committee, led by its Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Vice Chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), have been very busy so far this week. On Monday, they subpoenaed six top Trump Campaign officials, including disgraced former National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and far-right attorney John Eastman. And on Tuesday they issued 10 more subpoenas, this time to officials who worked for Trump or the Justice Department, including his senior adviser Stephen Miller and Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany. While its unclear if the Committee will end up subpoenaing Trump himself, they have expressly not ruled it out and sure do seem to be working their way quickly up the food. Of course, until we learn if Attorney General Merrick Garland and the DoJ intend to bring criminal Contempt of Congress charges against Steve Bannon --- in response to the referral sent to them by the U.S. House --- for refusing to testify and turn over subpoenaed documents in the same investigation, none of these subpoenas will have much teeth. If Bannon is indicted, on the other hand, it will be game on for everyone. We continue to wait and watch...
  • In COVID news, a North Dakota lawmaker who organized a rally on Monday to oppose vaccine mandates wasn't able to make it. He has COVID. But he's also certain that Ivermectin, the horse deworming anti-parasitic he is taking, will cure him. Public health experts do not concur.
  • That NC lawmaker is hardly alone in falling for the vast, criminal, disinformation industry surrounding the coronavirus. A new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds nearly 80% of Americans either believe or are unsure whether to believe one or more complete falsehoods surround the pandemic, including evidence-free claims that the government is exaggerating the number of COVID deaths; that the government is hiding deaths caused by the vaccines; that the vaccines can give you COVID; that they contain microchips; or can change your DNA. The survey also found that those who trusted rightwing outlets like Fox "News", OAN and Newsmax were FAR more likely to be suckered by those lies.
  • All of which helps explain the news that the gap between COVID infections and deaths in "red" states versus "blue" states continues to widen with each passing month. Last month, 25 out of every 100,000 residents in heavy Trump counties died from COVID, versus just 7.8 residents in counties that voted heavily for Joe Biden. It was the fifth straight month that the gap in death rates between Trump and Biden counties has widened. That gap continues to grow this month as well, with new deaths now running 5.8 times higher per capita in the the heaviest "red" counties versus the heaviest "blue" counties.
  • We've reported many tragic stories over the past year about those who've refused, for various reasons, to get vaccinated, only to come to regret their choice after becoming hospitalized with a severe case of COVID. Many went on to die. Today, we have a variation on that story...with a sobering, but happier ending.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for another very busy Green News Report, following the passage last week of the $1.2 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill in Congress, including a number of key climate provisions, and as the critical U.N. climate summit known as COP 26 continues this week in Glasgow, Scotland...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 11/4/2021 11:29am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Major agreements on methane, deforestation, climate finance and more at U.N. COP26 climate summit; Critical world conference now moves into difficult negotiating phase; PLUS: 2021 off-year elections in U.S. deliver a mixed bag for the environment... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

GNR's now celebrating 12 YEARS of independent green news, politics, analysis, snarky comment and connecting climate change dots over your public airwaves!
PLEASE CLICK HERE TO HELP US CELEBRATE WITH A DONATION!

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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Half world's fossil fuel assets could become worthless by 2036 in net zero transition; The EPA allows polluters to turn neighborhoods into "sacrifice zones"; Countries have failed to adapt for unavoidable climate damage; 10 Facebook publishers responsible for nearly 70 percent of climate change denial content; Banks 'being let off hook by weak climate regulation'; The Dalles sues to keep Google’s water use a secret... PLUS: This US city just voted to decarbonize every building... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guest: John Nichols of The Nation on what went right and wrong; Also: E-Pollbook failures in NJ open door for loser to challenge results...
By Brad Friedman on 11/3/2021 6:24pm PT  

Today on BradCast: No, Tuesday's off-year elections were not nearly as disastrous for Democrats as the national media seems to want to insist. But there were both red flag warnings and important lessons they should absolutely pay attention to, and quickly. There were also wholly avoidable voting system failures which, unfortunately, open the door for some results to be challenged. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, the latest summary on the marquee Gubernatorial races that seemed to encompass the entirety of the national media's coverage on Tuesday and into Wednesday. In Virginia, decades of modern history repeated itself, as the party that didn't win the White House last year appears to have taken control of the Governor's mansion this year. Trump-endorsed businessman and first-time candidate Glenn Youngkin was declared the narrow winner over VA's Democratic former Gov. Terry McCauliffe, after Youngkin dog-whistled his kinder, gentler not-Donald-Trump-at-all act into office.

His campaign leaned heavily on pretend, Fox "News"-generated phony outrage issues like opposition to teaching Critical Race Theory in public schools, even though there are no public schools in VA who actually teach it. But fake issues are much easier for Republicans to run on than the unpopular ones they actually support. So, with that, it appears Republicans may also have narrowly taken back majority control of the Commonwealth's House of Delegates, though those final numbers were still too close to call as of airtime.

In New Jersey, it appears that history will not repeat itself. Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy was declared the unofficial winner by media outlets late during today's show. If officially certified, Murphy will have defeated Republican John Ciaterelli to become the first Democrat to win a second term in the Garden State since the 1970s. But Ciaterelli made clear on Election Night that he plans to challenge the results. Reported electronic pollbook failures across the state on Tuesday (little noticed by most of the media, though we covered the pretty serious issue in some detail on our previous BradCast) may well give him an opening to mount such a challenge --- not that Republican election challengers these days generally need real problems to buttress false claims of fraud when they lose. If Murphy ends up falling behind again, he too could use the failure in his own contest.

We detail what appears to have happened across the state, preventing many voters from being able to vote at the polls for several hours on Tuesday morning, and why we've been warning about issues exactly like this for years when it comes to electronic voting, tabulation and pollbook issues that continue to threaten democracy itself.

But while many Democrats have been beside themselves since the polls closed on Tuesday night, wondering where they went wrong --- at least in those statewide contests --- in truth, if you dig below the national headlines, progressives had a bunch of victories on Tuesday in local races and on ballot initiatives.

We're joined today by one of our favorite post-election guests (following both good and bad nights for Democrats over the years), progressive champion, JOHN NICHOLS, Washington Correspondent for for The Nation, longtime contributor to The Progressive and Associate Editor of Madison, Wisconsin's Capital Times. We try to make sense of where both Dems and national media went both right and wrong during both the election and its aftermath. Why, for example, in both VA and NJ, where Democrats held control and adopted a host of very popular progressive policies in the past several years, did they have such a difficult time turning that record into victories yesterday? We also discuss several progressive wins that flew beneath the radar, and what Dems in D.C. and across the nation should take from what happened on Tuesday.

Finally, we close with a boatload of under-reported progressive wins in Tuesday's elections across the country, including historic mayoral victories from Boston to Pittsburgh to Albuquerque to Cincinnati to Durham, NC and beyond, along with a number of local ballot initiatives that defy the media narrative of the past 24 hours which seems to be arguing that Dems must immediately start acting more like Republicans if they hope to have any chance of victory during next year's critical 2022 mid-terms...

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FL blocks Univ. of Florida profs from serving as expert witnesses in lawsuits against the state; SCOTUS may be having second thoughts about TX' unconstitutional anti-abortion law; And more chilling stories of democracy dying before our eyes...
By Brad Friedman on 11/1/2021 6:23pm PT  

The through-line for today's BradCast comes courtesy of Meathead. Actor and director Rob Reiner was arguing, via Twitter over the weekend, that "until Donald Trump is prosecuted for leading a deadly Insurrection to overthrow the Government and Voting Rights are passed," we are witnessing the death of Democracy.

He was much more correct than he may have realized. But the stories we cover today --- only half of those we had hoped to get today, and none of which directly covered the two issues Reiner was referring to --- underscore that theme. If it's not immediately obvious, tune into today's show to find out how.

Among the stories covered, discussed, explained, warned about, expounded and ranted upon on today's program (along with listener calls throughout)...

  • Election Day is Tuesday in states across the country. As discussed last week, democracy itself is on the ballot in New York state. But most attention on Tuesday has been going to Virginia, where Trump-endorsed Gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin has now taken a lead in FiveThirtyEight's pre-election polling average over VA's former Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe. We explain why history is on Youngkin's side. Perhaps by Wednesday we'll find out if the voters in Virginia are as well, as democracy is not yet dead (hopefully) in some pockets of the nation.
  • In Florida, a simply remarkable and, yes, chilling story. The University of Florida has barred three professors --- each one an expert in democracy and voting rights (two of whom have appeared on The BradCast multiple times over the years) --- from testifying as expert witnesses for the plaintiffs in a challenge to the state's new voter suppression law passed earlier this year. The measure, signed on Fox "News" by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, surrounded by Trump supporters and with local media locked out entirely, restricts the use of drop-boxes for absentee ballots, while making it more difficult to obtain Vote-by-Mail ballots and harder to register to vote, among other democracy killing provisions. The university (whose Board of Trustees is headed up by a close DeSantis confidante and major GOP donor) claims that testifying against a state law would represent a conflict of interest for UF. That's an idea that is unheard of, frankly, and would prevent experts in their fields from being able to testify on their expertise in states in which they live and work. The same profs were never prevented from doing so in the past and experts on academic freedom describe this novel notion as unprecedented. A lawsuit seeking the review of documents from DeSantis on this matter, to determine his involvement in the University's decision, was filed on Friday.
  • At the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, the new "unprecedented" anti-abortion law in Texas, barring the otherwise Constitutionally protected medical procedure after just six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even known they are pregnant, was heard on SCOTUS' rocket docket just two months after they'd allowed it to take effect in the Lone Star State. The matter in question is whether a case filed by abortion providers in the state and another by the U.S. Department of Justice should be allowed to proceed, despite the virtually unquestioned matter of the new state law, S.B. 8, violating Roe v. Wade. The reason the question even arises is because Texas purposely structured the law in a way that hopes to side-step any and all judicial review of the law. That is done by the statute empowering members of the public with a right to file a civil lawsuit against anyone who, in any way, aids a woman in receiving an abortion after six weeks. Under S.B. 8, plaintiffs may even sue an Uber driver who brought a woman to a clinic, for at least $10,000, and the State argues that because they are not enforcing the law, members of the public are doing so, the law cannot be challenged in either federal or state court.

    But even far-right Republican Justice Brett Kavanaugh (and, of course, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan) was able to put two and two together during today's hearing to realize that if this type of law is allowed to go forward, states could adopt laws that effectively outlawed many other long-settled Constitutional rights, and avoid judicial oversight in the bargain. So, yes, California could adopt a law similar to S.B. 8 that makes owning a gun a civil violation for which anyone in the public could sue a gun owner for, say, a million dollars. Are the Justices on the High Court --- who allowed this law to take effect two months ago, ending almost all abortions for now in TX --- sure they want the nation to go down this path?

  • One of the other several stories we quickly covered of democracy dying today, referenced the newly gerrymandered maps for the four U.S. House seats in Iowa. Last week, after Republicans rejected a new map that would have split the state into two districts that voted for Biden last year and two that voted for Trump, they instead approved a second version of a map in which Trump won all four districts. One expert in redistricting describes the new maps as "a dream Republican map." Yes. That is yet another way in which democracy dies...unless we fight like hell to prevent it from doing so.

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Guests: Dr. Virginia Martin, former Columbia County, NY Election Commissioner and Allegra Dengler of Citizens for Voting Integrity NY; Also: Taxing U.S. billionaire pandemic profiteers...
By Brad Friedman on 10/27/2021 6:13pm PT  

It's Election Day in America once again next Tuesday, whether you've noticed or not. In New York, democracy itself is on the ballot, even as longtime election and democracy champions (real ones, not the phony, post-2020 MAGA Mob fakers) differ on how to vote next week on three different democracy- and elections-related Constitutional amendments. On today's BradCast, we discuss all three proposed measures which will have far-reaching consequences for voters both in New York and across the nation. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But, very quickly at the top of today's show...As Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) continue to obstruct and, actually, shred the bulk of the far-reaching, long-overdue progressive social safety net and climate change agenda of Joe Biden and pretty much the entirety of the Democratic Congressional caucus, we offer a friendly reminder.

Dems insist on making their Build Back Better package fully paid for (unlike the deficit spending in the separate bipartisan roads and bridges infrastructure deal supported by Manchin, Sinema and a bunch of Republicans). But Sinema has nixed her own party's plan for a tiny tax increase on corporations and the wealthy, even though, in 2017, she voted against the $2 trillion Trump/GOP tax cuts for those same people.  One alternate "pay-for" mechanism now being proposed by Dems is a wealth tax on those worth more than a billion dollars or who made $100 million for three consecutive years in a row. On Wednesday, however, Manchin was suggesting such a tax might be too divisive for his tastes, by "targeting" certain people.

So, here's the reminder, courtesy of Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies Program on Inequality: There were 614 U.S. billionaires before the pandemic and 745 of them now. Billionaires have seen their wealth grow 70%(!) since the start of the pandemic, to more than $5 trillion. The money they made during the pandemic alone --- from March of 2020 through last month --- would fully cover the cost of Biden's entire 10-year spending plan in the Build Back Better Act, to offer a transformative expansion of healthcare, education, child care and take on climate change for every person in the nation, more than 330 million of us. Meanwhile, a White House analysis last month found that the wealthiest 400 families in the country paid an average federal income tax of 8.2%. (How much did you pay last year?)

Anyway, that's just a reminder as this madness continues. We'll likely discuss all of that more in the days ahead.

Meanwhile, voters --- at least some of them --- are heading to the polls for off-year elections on Tuesday. The neck-and-neck race for Governor in Virginia is receiving much of the attention, but we have our eyes elsewhere today --- on the great state of New York, one of the nation's, theoretically, most "liberal" states which has some of its most restrictive voting policies.

There are several important state constitutional measures on the ballot this year, with three of them having a direct effect on elections in the Empire State and even democracy across the nation.

  • Prop 1 would make it easier for the majority party in Albany (currently Democrats) to approve new legislative and Congressional maps for redistricting following the 2020 Census. That, as Republicans pretend to be furious about the notion that it might allow partisan gerrymandering in the state (which we no longer oppose, for reasons explained again today --- at least until federal legislation bars it in all 50 states.)
  • NY's Prop 3 would abolish the 10-day Constitutional deadline for voter registration before elections, paving the way for eventual election-day registration at the polls.
  • And Prop 4 will remove restrictions on absentee voting in the state, where voters are currently required to attest to being out of town on Election Day or being too ill to go to the polls in order to vote by mail. The hope for proponents is that this will allow for no-excuse absentee voting in the future, as currently available in the majority of states.

While I suspect many believe that folks on the left side of the political aisle might favor all three propositions, that's not actually true, as discussed today with two of New York's longtime champions of election integrity. We walk through all three propositions with them to explain what each may or may not mean for voters and election integrity.

We're joined by DR. VIRGINA MARTIN, who served for 11 years, until 2020, as the Democratic Election Commissioner of the Columbia County, NY Board of Elections and ALLEGRA DENGLER, a longtime election security advocate with Citizens for Voting Integrity NY.

You may be shocked to learn that all three of us do not actually agree on how voters should vote on each of these measures. They each offer their own well-informed and nuanced opinions on the issues at stake in each ballot proposition. We hope this is helpful not only for NY voters, but for others around the nation, where similar issues are being addressed and debated at both the state and local levels, not to mention in proposed federal legislation.

Given Martin's decade-long personal experience as an election official, we also take a few minutes to discuss her thoughts on the ongoing nationwide assault and threats against election officials and poll workers in the wake of sore loser Donald Trump's evidence-free false claims of fraud in the 2020 Presidential election and the very real concerns (as opposed to the MAGA Mob's) when it comes to computerized voting and tabulation systems. Martin made a name for herself amongst election integrity advocates when, in 2010, she joined with her Republican counterpart on Columbia County's Board of Elections to carry out full, transparent hand-counts of hand-marked paper ballots in the county. That, after --- and despite of --- the state's mandate for optical-scan computerized tabulation systems in all of New York's 57 counties...

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Also: How the unvaxxed helped kill fully-vaxxed Colin Powell; And how Manchin is killing Biden's landmark plan to take on the climate crisis...
By Brad Friedman on 10/18/2021 6:20pm PT  

Most of the callers to today's BradCast were in favor of it, though a few were opposed and explained why. But, since many of our callers come from Dem-leaning Southern California, we stacked the deck a bit against our own "yes" position when it came to the callers we brought on the air in our limited time. Seemed only fair. [Audio link to full show is posted at the end of this summary.]

First up, however, a few quick thoughts on today's death of 84-year old, fully-vaccinated Republican former Secretary of State and Chair of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell. Though he (sort of) apologized for it and tried to make good in other ways, it's still difficult for me to shake his infamous presentation of lies at the U.N., falsely claiming that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. That presentation, which he later described as a "blot" on his career, arguably sealed the deal in favor of the U.S. going to war in Iraq. But our focus today is on those who are dishonestly using his COVID-related death to claim vaccines don't work. That is a lie that conveniently avoids the fact that Powell was battling multiple myeloma (a form of blood cancer) which greatly reduces the strength of ones immune system and is known to make vaccines less effective. It was, in fact, those who failed to get inoculated from COVID who helped kill Powell. We explain the facts and the math.

Next, before opening the phones to today's main topic, a few words on the news that broke late on Friday, reporting that the White House is now rewriting their sweeping Build Back Better budget reconciliation bill to not include the critical, landmark Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP) that was designed to provide financial incentives to utility companies to quickly transition from dirty fossil fuel use to clean, renewable energy. It also levied financial penalties on those power companies who failed to do so. The program was at the heart of the Biden Administration's climate plan and its vow to reduce dangerous greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity sector 80% by 2030, to reach net-zero in that sector by 2035, and to reach net-zero emissions economy-wide by 2050. If Friday's reports are accurate, the rewrite is a major blow to those plans and comes at the insistence of Coal Country West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, whose family has made a fortune on fossil fuels in the state. He also receives huge campaign funding from the fossil fuel industry. We discuss this troubling news with Desi Doyen and hope to have more on tomorrow's BradCast.

Then, we pick up the debate we left off at from last Friday's show with gerrymandering expert David Daley of FairVote.org. Daley literally wrote the book on the GOP's extreme partisan gerrymandering scheme after the 2010 Census and warns that it's about to get much worse as Republican state redistricting gets underway following the 2020 Census, particularly in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court gutting the Voting Rights Act to allow even more extreme partisan gerrymanders in even more states.

Despite the fact that, as Daley warned on the show last week, Republican state gerrymanders, on their own, will cost Dems control of the House even if America votes as it did in 2020 (when Dem House members received almost 5 million more votes than Republicans), he made the argument against Democratic states instituting similar extreme partisan gerrymanders in response.

As I explained on Friday, after many months of torturous consideration, I now favor Dem state gerrymanders to counter the Republicans in hopes of saving democracy itself in the bargain. It's an argument I hate making as a longtime election integrity and democracy champion, but I explain again today why the rising, anti-democracy Authoritarian Front (GOP) has changed my thinking as of now --- at least in lieu of passage of the Freedom to Vote Act by Congress, which would ban partisan gerrymandering in all 50 states.

Before we open the phones to listeners to hear their opinions on this contentious matter, we share Daley's argument explaining why he opposes Dem gerrymanders, along with my own, as I now advise against unilateral disarmament by the Democratic Party. All of which, of course, is only necessary right now, thanks to good ol' Joe Manchin's opposition to reforming the filibuster in order to pass the Freedom to Vote Act, a sweeping and long overdue election reform and voting rights measure --- actually designed by Manchin himself --- which would, among many other things, ban partisan gerrymanders all together.

As noted, while the majority of our callers were in favor of my position here, we tried to put a bit of a thumb on the scale for those who opposed it, so we could hear out "both sides" as best as possible on today's program. And, yes, we will continue this discussion in the days and week's ahead, as the redistricting fights get underway in earnest, and while the GOP has left survival of American democracy itself hanging by a thread...

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Guest: Author, gerrymandering expert David Daley of Fair Vote; Also: Hope springs eternal for Freedom to Vote in the U.S. Senate; And GOP bathtub climate change physics in Virginia...
By Brad Friedman on 10/15/2021 6:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast, I share an idea that I've thought long and hard about, struggled with and, frankly, never thought I'd have, much less recommend, as this idea is essentially counter to everything I have long fought for as a democracy advocate. But, as they say, desperate times...and all that. [Audio link to full show follows this summary below.]

Next Wednesday, Senate Majority Chuck Schumer has told Democrats, he plans to bring up the Freedom to Vote Act for a cloture vote, which --- if successful --- would then allow the Senate to proceed to debate on the bill that is critical right now for the survival of American democracy itself. Even if passed, Freedom to Vote won't save everything, of course, but it will help. Big time. The Joe Manchin-approved "compromise" version of the For the People Act (which has already been passed by the House) would, among a boatload of other long-overdue things, institute automatic voter registration and minimum requirements for Absentee and Early Voting in all 50 states; adopt rules that would limit the most disenfranchising Photo ID restriction laws; require hand-marked paper ballots for all voters(!); and prevent extreme partisan gerrymandering among other much needed stuff that would benefit all voters and democracy itself --- if not necessarily the Republican Party, as they see it, while they continue to lie about the bill in order to place party above both country and democracy.

Next week's cloture vote on the measure is likely to be supported by all 50 members of the Democratic caucus in the Senate. But it is unlikely to be allowed up for debate in the minoritarian Senate because, unless Manchin and any other Democratic obstructionists agree to reform the filibuster to allow democracy saving legislation to pass with a simple majority, it won't receive the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican obstructionist filibuster. That, as GOP-controlled states across the country continue to adopt measures making it harder for (certain) voters to vote and easier for Republicans to cheat by overturning election results they don't like by partisan fiat.

In 2010, the GOP's so-called "REDMAP" program succeeded with Republicans taking over state legislatures in order to draw extreme partisan gerrymanders following that year's decennial census to assure themselves majorities in both statehouses and Congressional delegations for the ensuing decade, even when receiving a minority of the vote. Now that the 2020 census has been completed --- and the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court has determined that federal courts may not intercede to block partisan gerrymanders in any way --- those same Republican state legislatures are in the process of drawing even more extreme gerrymanders for partisan advantage over the next decade. Experts say that "red" states are now in the process of redistricting in such a way that even if the nation voted exactly as it did in 2020, Republicans would end up taking control of the U.S. House --- even with millions of fewer votes than Democrats receive for their elected members of Congress.

That is just part of the near future that all Americans can look forward to if the Republicans and Democrats like Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema in the Senate prevent passage of the Freedom to Vote Act along with its federal restrictions on extreme partisan gerrymanders.

While I hate the idea, all one has to do is take a look at what the Texas legislature (and others like it) are currently up to and planning this year to realize that it's time --- at least if Freedom to Vote is not adopted --- for Democratically-controlled states to answer the GOP assault on democracy by instituting their own extreme partisan gerrymanders in response.

As noted, I hate that idea. It is, at least on the surface, counter to the small "d" democratic ideals that I have always fought for. But, at this point, with the American democratic experiment now teetering toward unstoppable authoritarianism, unilateral disarmament by Democrats seems more like a suicide pact. Yes, for Democrats, but, much more importantly, for democracy itself.

I suspect not everyone will agree with me here, including my guest today. I'm joined by the man who actually wrote the book on partisan gerrymanders, DAVID DALEY of FairVote.org. His book on the GOP's REDMAP assault on democracy is called Ratfucked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy. His more recent follow-up, out this year, is Unrigged: How Americans Are Battle Back to Save Democracy.

Daley details the horrors to come from the GOP's extreme gerrymandering plans that we will see in the next few weeks and months, describing them as "really bleak for the Democrats on the redistricting front". For example, he explains, "if you look at the 2020 election, Democratic candidates for the U.S. House won 4.7 million more votes than Republican candidates, but that only turned into a 5 seat majority. Republicans, simply by redistricting in Texas, Georgia, North Carolina and Florida alone --- before you even get to the handful of other states where they can pick up individual seats --- could probably get at least twice the number that they need to flip the House simply by gerrymandering those states."

But, even as he argues in favor of "Constitutional hardball" from Democrats, he does not agree with me that Dems should participate in the same sort of behavior in response when it comes to redistricting this year, describing it as "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic." He explains why, and we debate the issue on today's program.

I welcome your thoughts on this matter via email or in comments below, as I hope to discuss this more on the show in the days ahead.

Finally today, as if anyone needed more evidence of the dangers that await a fully Trumpified GOP takeover of democracy (even more than has already occurred), at least one Republican candidate running for the House of Delegates in Virginia next month should scare the hell out of you..and, for reasons that Desi Doyen explains, especially Virginians...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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