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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, August 13, 2022
Before FBI Search, Grand Jury Subpoenaed NatSec Docs Trump Stole from WH: 'BradCast' 8/11/22
RW political violence after Trump's Mar-a-Lago lies; Also: Midterms trend toward Dems...
'Green News Report' 8/11/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
South Korea latest victim of deadly flash floods; Repub state treasurers coordinate to block climate action by private companies; PLUS: Mexico emergency over drought protests...
Recent GNRs: 8/9/22 - 8/4/22 - Archives...
'If You're Innocent, Why Are You Taking the Fifth?' Great Question!: 'BradCast' 8/10/22
Guest: Former Asst. U.S. Attorney, Randall D. Eliason; Also: Inflation slowing?; Noteworthy primary results from CT, MN, VT, WI (and WA)
What We Know (& Mostly Don't) About the FBI Search at Mar-a-Lago: 'BradCast' 8/9/22
Also: Late AZ, WA primary results; MI's GOP A.G. nominee facing criminal probe; Federal judges approve release of Trump taxes...
'Green News Report' 8/9/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
GNR Special Coverage: U.S. Senate Democrats pass landmark climate legislation, the first in U.S. history...
Recent GNRs: 8/4/22 - 8/2/22 - Archives...
Pennsylvania's Supreme Court Rejects Yet Another GOP Challenge to Absentee Voting
Ruling is good news for democracy and, perhaps, state Democrats...
Sunday 'Woke' Toons!
Wake up and smell PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons!...
GA Dem Seeks to 'Unpack' SCOTUS, Hold 'Ethically Bankrupt' Justices to Account: 'BradCast' 8/4/22
Guest: Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-4) on Court expansion, term limits, more; Also: TN votes...
'Green News Report' 8/4/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Back-to-back storms reveal U.S. not ready for climate impacts; Climate change increasing humidity; Big biz targets Dem climate bill; PLUS: Nat'l EV charging network almost here...
Recent GNRs: 8/2/22 - 7/28/22 - Archives...
UNconventional Times: The Power of Abortion Rights (and Danger of Election Deniers) on the Ballot: 'BradCast' 8/3/22
Critical lessons (and warnings) from primary results in AZ, KS, MI, MO, WA, OH...
'Green News Report' 8/2/22
Death toll rises in catastrophic KY flooding; Extreme heat, fires sear U.S. West; Big Oil's big profits; PLUS: Manchin-Schumer compromise a game changer for climate?...
Too Little Too Late? Or Not a Moment Too Soon?: 'BradCast' 8/1/22
Can Dems finally pass Schumer-Manchin bill to save the climate (and themselves)?; Also: Biden's 'rebound'; KY's death toll; Tuesday primaries; Callers ring in...
Sunday 'Party of Personal Freedom' Toons
Bringing new meaning to "freedom isn't free" in PDiddie's latest collection of the best toons of this past week...
Leaked: FL Power Co. Secretly Took Over 'News' Site, Ran Fake Candidates, Targeted Critics: 'BradCast' 7/29/22
Guest: Energy and Policy's Alissa Jean Schafer; OAN cooked?; Stewart v. GOP Sens...
Establishment Pressure Haunted Manchin Into Major Deal on Taxes, Healthcare and Climate: 'BradCast' 7/28/22
And Schumer outfoxed McConnell to do it! Also: More signs of UNconventional midterms...
'Green News Report' 7/28/22
Manchin and Schumer reach deal on climate and energy bill; Russia slashes gas to Europe; PLUS: Public pressure leads USPS to quadruple plan for electric delivery trucks...
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...


Guest: GW University Law School's Randall D. Eliason; Also: KBJ's historic SCOTUS confirmation; Insurrectionist House members facing ballot eligibility challenges in AZ; Trump facing contempt in NY...
By Brad Friedman on 4/7/2022 5:34pm PT  

A bad day for Donald Trump is generally a good day for America. Today on The BradCast (after horrible and tragic news unexpectedly swept over our show yesterday), it's one of those days. And, if our guest, a former federal prosecutor is correct, there may well be many more such bad days ahead for our disgraced former President. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

FIRST, history was made toward "a more perfect union" on Thursday when the U.S. Senate voted 53 to 47 to confirm Joe Biden's nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson, as the nation's first black female Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. She will officially be sworn in and seated in July, at the end of the Court's current term, when Justice Stephen Breyer officially resigns.

SECOND, three more 2022 ballot eligibility challenges were filed today against three more Republican insurrectionists, courtesy of good government group Free Speech for People, this time on behalf of voters in Arizona against Congressmen Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs, as well as AZ State Rep. Mark Finchem, the Trump-endorsed candidate for Secretary of State. The new Constitutional challenges follow on similar ones currently being litigated against Rep. Madison Cawthorn in North Carolina and Marjorie Taylor Greene in Georgia. All are based on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment which bars those from holding office who have sworn an oath to support the Constitution, before subsequently, as per 14.3, having “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof."

THIRD, yet more good news today, as New York Attorney General Letitia James asked a state Court to hold Donald Trump in civil contempt for refusing to comply with a court order to turn over documents, as part of her investigation into bank, tax, and insurance fraud by the former President and his family members, Ivanka and Don Jr. Shortly after that court filing on Thursday, Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg told CNN that his criminal probe into many of the same matters is "very much ongoing," despite the two lead prosecutors in the years-long probe recently resigning after charging that Bragg was not willing to move forward with indictments against Trump.

THEN, we get to our guest today, who may --- depending on how you look at it --- have the best news of all for those hoping to see actual federal prison time for the disgraced former President. It could take a while, but he's here to tell us today that U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland's investigation of the January 6th insurrection is proceeding in precisely the way he would expect it to proceed if, in fact, the AG was investigating possible criminal indictments of Trump for his part in inciting the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Writing at Washington Post late last week, RANDALL D. ELIASON, a former Asst. U.S. Attorney in D.C., where he served as Chief of the Public Corruption/Government fraud section, argued that legal critics of Garland, mostly on the left, are wrong. He sees progress by the Department as moving "impressively fast" and "unfolding at an increasingly rapid clip" just over one year into the investigation. (Eliason penned a similar argument late last year at WaPo.)

To date, independent investigative journalist Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel has made one of the loudest cases, in the face of skeptics, that Garland is, indeed, working his way up the legal food chain toward Trump in the DoJ's huge investigation of the J6 insurrection. (She's joined us on the show a number of times in recent months to argue as much.) Today, Eliason says he believes she's absolutely right.

"There's this huge debate on Twitter and elsewhere, whether Garland's doing nothing at all or whether this is just what we should expect [if working toward a potential Trump indictment]. I agree with Marcy Wheeler here that this is exactly what we should expect," he tells me. "The signs are this is in fact what's happening."

"The alternative is you rush, you put together a case without doing it properly just to bring some charges, and you lose. You don't want to bring a half-baked case in something that's this significant or this important. If you're going to bring a case at all, you've got to do it properly."

"Garland's role here is to not be swayed by political pressures, but to take the case wherever the facts and the law lead them, as he said. Which, to me, appears to be exactly what he's doing," argues Eliason, who now teaches white collar criminal law at George Washington University Law School in D.C. "And the suggestions, frankly, from some of the critics, that Biden should replace him, or fire him, or lean on him to do something --- that's exactly what everybody was outraged about when Trump and Barr were doing it. That kind of politicization of the Justice Department --- the idea that Biden should lean on Garland or fire him because he's not moving fast enough --- is the exact opposite of what we want. And the exact opposite of what Biden and Garland promised to do to get away from the Trump era, where Bill Barr was running around and doing favors for Trump cronies, interfering in the administration of justice, and politicizing the Justice Department. That is the last thing we want."

Eliason speaks to how and if DoJ and the House January 6 Committee may be coordinating their efforts, and why some members of that Committee have recently called on the Departments to do more, faster. He also offers insight on why it may be that Mark Meadows, Trump's last Chief of Staff, has yet to be indicted for Contempt after Congress, after being referred for the charge months ago by the House, even as Steve Bannon was indicted within weeks after a similar referral.

In our broad discussion on these matters, we also discuss the unique time elements involved here, in regard to the possibility that Trump could declare his candidacy to run in 2024; what DoJ guidelines mandate regarding investigations or indictments to close to an election; and whether a federal indictment by Biden's Justice Dept. in such a case would be seen by the former President and his cult-like followers as little more than a political vendetta

There's a lot to tune in for here, particularly if you are a Garland skeptic or frustrated with the pace of his investigation. As Eliason reminds us, the Enron indictments came a full four years after the collapse of the company and their scam was exposed. Even Watergate took at least two years before major charges were brought. We are now just over one year out from what has become the largest probe in DoJ history. By far.

In addition to discussion about Trump accountability for his attempts to try and steal the 2020 election, we also discuss Trump's NY legal threats, and what should be done about corrupt, far-right activist Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas following the recent news that his corrupt, far-right activist wife Ginni was relentlessly texting Meadows in the days following Trump's election loss to encourage the Administration to prevent the peaceful transfer of power to Joe Biden, the winner of the 2020 Presidential election.

FINALLY, Desi Doyen joins us for a bit more accountability talk, this time for Big Oil CEO war profiteers who testified this week in Congress, in our latest Green News Report. Also on the GNR rundown today, Europe's move to ban Russian coal, the EPA's plan to finally ban deadly asbestos and the increasing cost to tax-payers --- in dollars and lives --- of increasing power outages during increasingly powerful climate change-fueled storms...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Eric Kramer of Arizonans for Fair Elections; Also: Good news on the economy, unions, COVID and cannabis!; Plus: Annoy a Nazi!...
By Brad Friedman on 4/1/2022 6:54pm PT  

Yes, on today's BradCast, we discuss a new, maddening --- and likely unconstitutional --- voter suppression law signed this week by Arizona's Republican Governor. But, as our guest notes, "Don't worry, we've got this!" We'll see. He's got a plan in response that voters in other swing-states may wish to look at as well. Other than that though, today's show ends your week with nothin' but good news! (Mostly.) [Audio link to full toe-tappin' show is posted below this summary.]

First up, good news on COVID! According to the Dept. of Health and Human Services, hospitalizations are now at their lowest rate since the U.S. began keeping records at the beginning of the pandemic two years ago. Of course, last time hospitalizations where near this low we got slammed by Delta and then Omicron shortly thereafter. So, hey, now's a great time to get a vaccine shot or a booster if you haven't in the past 4 months or so!

Then, more good news on the economy! 431,000 new jobs were added in March, as Americans continue to shake off the pandemic, even amid war in Europe and inflation. Since Joe Biden took office, the economy has added a record 7.9 million jobs. Unemployment is the lowest it's been since before the pandemic and barely higher than the nation has seen in a half-century, as the President did some justifiable crowing about those numbers today. Things would be even better had Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin allowed his Build Back Better bill to pass, given that many more women are needed to fill millions of open jobs, but can't afford the child care (that BBB would have paid for) in order to take them.

But there's still more good news today, for workers and labor unions! Amazon employees in deep red Republican Staten Island, New York voted "yes" to unionize in an historic labor win at the only fulfillment center in New York City! It's the first Amazon facility in the U.S. to do so, but it likely means many others will join them. Another unionization vote at Amazon's fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama remains too close to call for the moment. It's the second such vote held at that plant after the National Labor Relations Board found that Amazon had cheated in the first vote and ordered a re-do.

Speaking of cheating in elections: Republicans. Though it may make your head (and mine) explode, mid-term primaries are beginning to kick off all over the country. The first one, last month in Texas, resulted in tens of thousands of disenfranchised absentee voters whose ballots were rejected thanks to the state GOP's new voter suppression law there.

We had slightly better news this week in Florida. There, a federal judge struck down several provisions of the new voter suppression law adopted last year by the GOP-dominated state legislature and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis (who barely won his initial election back in 2018). U.S. District Judge Mark Walker found that the law unlawfully targeted black voters in violation of both the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act. Most notably, he ordered the state back under the VRA's preclearance regime for the next decade, mandating approval in advance from the federal government for any new election-related laws that may effect minority voters.

Republicans in Arizona, however, have been running a bit behind in their voter suppression. But, on Wednesday this week, the state's Governor Doug Ducey, also facing re-election this year, signed HB 2492 [PDF], even though legislative attorneys in both the state House and Senate found the measure to be likely unconstitutional. In short, it requires state voters to prove they are citizens before they may vote for candidates in state and local elections. But it goes farther than previous such laws in the state. This one could disenfranchise anywhere from 31,000 to nearly 200,000 voters in a state where Democrats won the Presidential election in 2020 by just over 10,000 votes. It would prevent voters who fail to prove their citizenship (or can afford to do so) from voting for either state officials or President. They may still be able to vote for members of Congress, but not during either early voting or via absentee ballot.

We're joined today by ERIC KRAMER, former Chair of the Navajo County Democrats, now Director of the Arizona Deserves Better non-profit coalition to discuss HB 2492 and, more importantly, what he and other voting rights advocates in the state are currently doing to both overturn such measures and prevent even worse ones from being adopted at any time in the future with their new Arizonans for Fair Elections ballot initiative.

We first learned of the effort via DailyKos, where Kramer writes as "EricAZ". Two articles of his there caught our eye in particular. The first, in early March, was headlined "Arizona Right-Wing Goes Batshit Crazy in Attack on Voters (Don’t Worry, We’ve Got This)". The second, a few weeks later, is titled, "The Joy of Soon Beating the U.S. Supreme Court on Several Voting Rights Issues".

Kramer explains how the AZ Fair Elections initiative, targeted for inclusion on the ballot this November, would work to prevent the kind of voter suppression we have been seeing from the increasingly extremist Republican radicals who now control the AZ state legislature. It would roll back laws like HB 2492 and prevent similarly disenfranchising laws from being adopted in an election year. It would also repeal a number of other laws recently adopted by state Republicans which target minority voters (Native Americans in particular), while instituting proactive measures to increase voter turnout, rather than block it, as the GOP is now working so hard to do there and elsewhere.

"In addition to these places where we're kind of playing defense against what they've done to voters in the past, there are some where we are playing offense," Kramer explains in detailing the voter referendum. "We have automatic voter registration. We have Election Day registration. We expand the periods for early voting. And we do quite a lot to help Native American voters and especially disabled voters --- we give more opportunities to vote. So it is a very good initiative."

Can his group, which is currently in the signature gathering process, get the measure onto the ballot in November? And, if so, can they get it passed? "We are going to get it done," he tells me confidently. "We need 243,000 signatures [by July 7] to get on the ballot. We're currently collecting at more than twice the rate we need. Fundraising has gone well. People from all over the country are supporting this. We will get it done."

You can get more information on the initiative --- in case you'd like to support it or consider something similar in your own state --- at the website for the Arizonans for Fair Elections initiative (azfe.org).

Finally, we close with even more good news and a song!

Our final good news for the day is about cannabis. U.S. House Democrats, with almost zero help from Republicans, adopted a measure today to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, though it will still have to overcome a likely GOP filibuster in the Senate. That, despite the American public's overwhelming support not just for decriminalizing cannabis, but for fully legalizing it once and for all. Not sure why the GOP would be dumb enough to take a pass on shooting the measure down again, as they did back in 2020 when they held the majority in the upper chamber, but explaining Republican stupidity is not my strong suit.

But to keep you happy and singing well into the weekend, we close with a new ditty from Canadian comedian and "The Internet's Favourite Dad* (*unproven)", according to his Twitter profile, Stewart Reynolds, who sings that "it's nice to be disliked!"...So "annoy a Nazi" today!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Philly Inquirer's Will Bunch on the corrupt Thomases, criminal Trump, missing 1/6 phone logs, and our never-ending quest for account-ability; Also: Smith apologizes to Rock; FDA okays new booster shots...
By Brad Friedman on 3/29/2022 6:51pm PT  

As usual, on today's BradCast, there is more continuing Trump corruption news than we can possibly keep up with. But don't blame us for trying. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, however, a bit of news on the Omicron sub-variant BA.2, which has now become the dominant variant in the U.S. The FDA announced today that it has approved second Pfizer and Moderna boosters for everyone 50 years of age and over who received their last shot at least four months ago. Also, Will Smith apologized on Instagram to Chris Rock for assaulting him at the Oscars. A day late, but there ya go.

Then, we try to catch up with some of the latest Trump corruption/accountability news and some that we've fallen behind on, with an assist from longtime Philadelphia Inquirer columnist WILL BUNCH, who has been in a bit of a funk over the mountain of evidence of corruption on the Right and the lack of accountability for it.

Among the stories he and I discuss today...

  • The news of the longtime prosecutors who recently resigned from the probe of Trump's years-long bank, tax and insurance fraud felonies after the new Manhattan D.A., Alvin Bragg, took over the investigation and tanked it. As revealed last week, one of the disappointed lead prosecutors told Bragg in his resignation letter last month that Trump was "guilty of numerous felony violations, that dropping the probe was "a grave failure of justice" and that "the team that has been investigating Mr. Trump harbors no doubt about whether he committed crimes - he did."
  • The insane, conspiracy-theory laden text messages sent in November 2020 by longtime rightwing activist Ginni Thomas --- wife of longtime rightwing Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas --- to Trump's then Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, encouraging him to fight to steal the 2020 election. And the difficulty (at least by Democrats) of bringing accountability for our corrupted Court and its "giant legitimacy crisis".
  • The seven and half hour gap in the Trump White House call logs from January 6th, 2021, as reported today by the Washington Post's Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, showing no record of Trump calls during the insurrection he incited at the U.S. Capitol from 11:17am that day until 6:54pm that night, even though the U.S. House Committee investigating the insurrection has confirmed a number of phone conversations that occurred with Trump that day.

"There seems to be no way or no will to hold our staggeringly corrupt leaders accountable --- whether it's Trump defrauding the banks or plotting an attempted coup from the Oval Office, or a Supreme Court justice ruling on his wife's bat-guano crazy political crusade," Bunch lamented in his column over the weekend. "I'm in a total funk over the state of the union."

Today he tells me, "We have this situation where there are a lot of people in the body politic saying look, the evidence is overwhelming that the 45th President of the United States was a criminal, and yet, the handful of people who are actually in the most key positions for possibly doing something about it won't go there, apparently." While he recognizes that some, such as our friend Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel, believe Attorney Gernal Merrick Garland actually is working his way up the food chain toward Trump, he remains dubious.

"Common sense is telling me that, given what's at stake, this is taking too long," he argues. "While this hangs out there, you've got all of these state legislatures enacting laws to make it possible to pull off a coup in 2024. Maybe putting a few of these guys on trial and sending a few of them up the river, maybe that would change the dynamic a bit in the country."

Bunch does put stock in the House J6 Committee's work and looks forward to Watergate-like hearings in the coming months which might change the current trajectory. But, in the meantime, he remains concerned about the ability of key institutions, like our corrupted SCOTUS, to maintain any legitimacy.

"A healthy democracy would have a healthy Supreme Court. But it's a very reform-proof operation. Only one Supreme Court Justice has been impeached in U.S. history," he notes. "They don't have any particular code of ethics, even when it comes to recusing themselves on cases like this Clarence Thomas situation. They're supposed to use their best judgment, and we kind of have to hope for the best."

"For a long time there has been this simmering general sense that there are two systems. There's not one system of justice in this country. That certain privileged people at the top, it's not just politicians, it's wealthy people, it's high-profile people...Here's New York City with six cops ganging up on somebody who jumps a subway turnstile because they didn't pay the $2.50 fare because they probably couldn't afford it. There's a sense of anger about that, and I think it ties in to how people feel about Trump or Ginni Thomas, that it's all of one piece. And I think that is just causing a broader lack of trust in this country."

But, Bunch also insists that he remains "an optimist," is hopeful things can still change and that we may soon begin to see accountability. "That's the January 6 Committee. Once they get their case out there, the public demand for [accountability] might peak. And for that, we can only hope."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with news on Europe weaning itself from Russian fossil fuels and, speaking of a lack of accountability, new reporting on how corrupt Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has, for years now, used his public office for massive personal financial gain...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Also: Situation devolves in Ukraine under Russia's 'barbaric' assault...
By Brad Friedman on 3/10/2022 7:06pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's been a very bad week for the pretend "law and order" rightwingers dumb enough to have been suckered by Donald Trump's 2020 "election fraud" hoax. But it's likely to get still worse for them in the days ahead. That's fine by us. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

After a quick update today on the latest grim, and getting grimmer, news out of Ukraine as Russia's Vladimir Putin begins his third week of unspeakable barbarism, here are some of the much less grim stories we actually enjoyed covering today...

  • Yesterday, we reported on the ongoing challenge (and emergency appeal filed after a bizarre ruling by a Trump-appointed judge) to North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn's eligibility to run for re-election this year. The challengers, including our guest, Constitutional law expert Ron Fein of Free Speech for People, contend that Cawthorn is ineligible to run for federal office, after having violated the 14th Amendment's ban on those who "have engaged in insurrection" after taking an oath to defend the Constitution. But, no sooner did we get off air when news broke that Cawthorn was charged in NC with driving with a revoked license. Apparently, this is the second time he has been charged with the same crime. Will he face any real accountability for it this time around? The max sentence for that is 20 days in jail in NC.
  • On the federal level, Attorney General Merrick Garland insisted today that his Justice Department will "not shy away from cases that are controversial or sensitive or political," telling reporters that "to do that would undermine an element of the rule of law." Glad to hear it. His comments came in response to questions about the DoJ's January 6th investigation and whether Trump and those around him would ever face accountability, as hundreds of low-level insurrectionists have faced charges for storming the Capitol on January 6th, 2021, after being being incited by the disgraced former President and his false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
  • Tina Peters, a Colorado elections official arguably incited to criminal acts by Trump's lies, is now facing state charges for them. She is the very Trumpy Republican Mesa County Clerk who recently announced her intention to run for Secretary of State. Peters turned herself into custody on Wednesday night after being indicted this week on 10 counts related to elections tampering. (A perfect resume for a GOP Sec. of State contender!) We've been reporting in detail on Peters over the past year, after she allegedly snuck into a secure facility where voting systems are stored in Mesa County along with accomplices (one of them her Deputy, who was also charged this week), turned off the security cameras, and then made copies of hard-drives with critical and proprietary Dominion Voting System software on them. Dominion's Election Management System software from Mesa was subsequently released, along with passwords to the system, to the Internet a few months later during one of conspiracy theorist and pillow magnate Mike Lindell's "election fraud" symposiums, just as Peters was speaking at the forum. The serious security breach with the public release of that software led to a bit of havoc in California's Gubernatorial Recall election just weeks later, where the same Dominion systems were used in several counties. We revisit the sprawling story of how we got here, as the loony Peters finally appears set to pay a very high price for being dumb enough to buy into Trump's con.
  • And then there was more bad news this week for Fox "News" and several of the top clods and dupes who host programs on their various channels. A New York judge denied the motions to dismiss filed by Fox and a number of their top anchors, such as Maria Bartiromo and Lou Dobbs, in the $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit filed against them and conspiracy theorist/grifter attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell by voting system company Smartmatic. "At a minimum," the judge found in his 61-page ruling, "Fox News turned a blind eye to a litany of outrageous claims about plaintiffs, unprecedented in the history of American elections, so inherently improbable that it evinced a reckless disregard for the truth." That means the case against most of them will now move forward toward discovery and trial. (Several of those "inherently improbable" claims were based on The BRAD BLOG's own accurate, exclusive reporting back in 2010, which Powell, et al, bastardized to fit their pretend theories about massive election fraud.) Interestingly, the judge also cites a bit of accidentally responsible reporting from Fox star Tucker Carlson to underscore just how irresponsible the others were, in the judge's "finding that there is a substantial basis that Fox News acted with actual malice." The New York ruling follows a similar one from a judge in Delaware last December, who also rejected motions to dismiss from many of the same clowns in Dominion Voting Systems' separate $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit.
  • In Texas, which held this year's first-in-the-nation midterm primary elections last week, AP finds that an extraordinary 27,000 mail ballots --- from both Democrats and Republican voters --- were flagged for rejection under the Lone Star State's new voter suppression law passed last year in pretend response to Trump's claims about a stolen 2020 election. The initial rejection rate was approximately 17% statewide and substantially higher in a number of large, Democratic-leaning counties. That, compared with a statewide rejection rate of about 1% of absentee mail ballots back in 2020.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more disturbing fallout (and, maybe, some theoretical upsides) regarding energy and security in the wake of Russia's horrific invasion of Ukraine...

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Guest: Author, journalist John Judis of TPM with 'A Dissenting View of US Policy toward Russia'; Also: Latest news on Ukraine; Good news on redistricting in PA, OH; Bad news for Trump criminal probe in NY?...
By Brad Friedman on 2/23/2022 5:48pm PT  

The bad news for democracy continues overseas on today's BradCast, but there is at least a bit of better news on that front back here at home. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

FIRST UP, the latest on the crisis in Eastern Europe: Ukraine declares a nationwide state of emergency; Russian troops are said to be "as ready as they can be" and "literally ready to go now, if they get the order to go," according to U.S. officials; Nancy Pelosi describes the Russia's aggression as "an attack on democracy'; China's U.N. ambassador seeks a diplomatic and peaceful solution for "safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states"; And a new AP polls finds little support among Americans for a "major role in the conflict" (though a "minor" one is much more popular.)

THEN, with that grim news for democracy overseas, some slightly better news back home. The GOP majority on the Ohio Redistricting Committee has, apparently, given up in their attempt to draw state legislative and U.S. House maps that they can live with and which meet the new requirements of both the state constitution and state Supreme Court. What that means for the future of those maps, with primary election deadlines drawing near in a close-divided if GOP-leaning state, is currently unknown. But it's likely not good new for Republicans who had hoped to continue their extreme gerrymanders of the past 10 years.

In the critical swing-state of Pennsylvania some (almost) unambiguously good news along these lines. After a standoff between the commonwealth's GOP state legislature and Democratic Governor, today PA's Supreme Court has selected a map to be used that is supported by Democrats, voting rights advocates and is seen as fair by political analysts, according to the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. The new map will combine two currently Republican U.S. House districts into one, to make up for PA's loss of a House seat following the 2020 census. That said, there is still an existing federal lawsuit against the new maps filed by a number of Republicans. And with the GOP's packed federal courts, anything could happen these days.

NEXT, it's back to Ukraine. Or, at least, U.S. foreign policy in Russia and Ukraine which our guest today, JOHN JUDIS, argues has helped lead to this moment of crisis and potential war for many years, not unlike other failures of U.S. foreign policy where America has failed to play the long game.

Judis is a journalist, author and Editor-at-Large for Talking Points Memo after spending two and a half decades at The New Republic. His latest book (his eighth), is The Politics of Our Time: Populism, Nationalism, and Socialism and his latest piece for TPM, which we discuss in detail today, is "A Dissenting View of US Policy toward Russia".

He details how the latest mess in Ukraine begins way back in the late 80s and early 90s and, like a number of similar U.S. foreign policy failures in recent decades, was based on the misguided theory "that as you become more capitalist, you become more democratic. This was an entirely abstract notion, not borne out by any particular experience, but more by a kind of millennial dream that Americans have had of a world transformation, of making the world like us. And it backfired."

Judis, who notes in his TPM piece that he both opposes Putin's "decision to dismember Ukraine" and supports "placing sanctions on Russia," nonetheless cites China, Iraq and now Russia/Ukraine in our conversation today as case studies where "we sort of get into these things willy-nilly. Where we start off, we're going to make things better and we end up with a big war."

Among the many related topics we delve into here: America's broken promise to prevent NATO from moving east toward Russia after the end of the Cold War; Putin's "designs on expansion" and whether expansion of NATO is really what's triggering him; Or is it fear of a prosperous democracy next door in a former Soviet state?; What was the real U.S. interest in the expansion of NATO? Was it security or a money machine for the arms industry?; And why has the U.S. so consistently failed to play the "long ball" game in so many of its foreign policy gambits?; Is declaring neutrality for Ukraine the best way out of this mess?; And why did Judis find it necessary to put forward a "dissenting view" to so many of the "foreign policy establishment types" receiving much of the airtime on American media outlets, arguing only on "a very narrow, tactical basis"?

As Desi notes after the discussion, you'll get a broad "history lesson" along with much more in today's conversation with Judis.

FINALLY, bad news in New York? It sure seems like it today. The New York Times broke the news this afternoon that the two lead prosecutor in the Manhattan D.A.'s criminal investigation of Donald Trump and his company have abruptly resigned. That, after a monthlong pause in what had previously been an accelerating investigation last month, and after the new D.A., Alvin Bragg, finally got fully up to speed after succeeding Cyrus Vance, Jr. at the end of last year. The Times reports that Bragg reportedly has "doubts about moving forward with a case against Mr. Trump." The new D.A.'s office, however, says that the investigation remains ongoing. There is still much unknown here, but the civil probe by NY's state Attorney General Letitia James, looking into many of the same alleged bank, tax and insurance fraud schemes by Trump and his company, continues to power forward, as does another lesser discussed criminal probe by the D.A. in New York's Westchester County...

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Also: Spotify's shame; Disgraced CO County Clerk to run for SoS; BRAD BLOG server failure; 13th Anniversary 'Green News Report'; MORE...
By Brad Friedman on 2/17/2022 6:05pm PT  

"If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?," Donald Trump used to repeatedly bellow at his campaign rallies. "It's disgraceful," he would tell his MAGA Mob over and over again in 2016. "Only the mob takes the Fifth!" All words that, we just have a feeling on today's BradCast, may soon come back to haunt the disgraced, twice-impeached former President. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

Trump, and his family, and his family business, are now just losing motion after motion, case after case in courts across the country. And the more the losers lose, the more they have to lose.

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

  • The BRAD BLOG web server was offline for much of the past 24 hours. We explain what happened and why we're likely gonna need to some shows off in the days ahead in hopes of finally fixing it. (And, yes, we could really use your help!)
  • Of course, if we had an obscene $200 million contract from Spotify (not just $100 million as previously reported), it might be much easier to fix it. But nobody is worth $200 million just to talk on air or on a webstream, no matter how important what they may have to say. But that's especially true for folks like Joe Rogan, who just fills the time with words --- entertaining or otherwise --- that may also have the affect of killing people. Moral of the pathetic Spotify/Rogan story: the company doesn't pay its musical artists nearly enough and, if they have that much extra money lying around to blow on one guy to help spread deadly misinformation, they are also definitely not paying enough in taxes.
  • As to our loser former President and his loser family, Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka and son Don Jr. lost bigly in New York court on Thursday, where a judge ordered them to answer questions under oath within the next 21 days from state Attorney General Letitia James. She is investigating the family and their business for very clear evidence of years of bank, tax and insurance fraud. Their gambit to sue to the AG to avoid sitting for a deposition has failed and each of them may well consider pleading the Fifth very soon. Ya know, like the mob does.
  • The news was no better for Trump in his hopes of avoiding accountability regarding the insurrection he incited last year on January 6th, in his last desperate bid to steal the 2020 election. On Wednesday, President Biden and the White House counsel rejected Trump's attempt to invoke Executive Privilege to block White House visitor logs from January 6th, 2021.
  • And, also in D.C. this week, the Attorney General there had another victory in court over the Mob Family Trump, when a federal judge allowed him to restore the Trump Organization back into his lawsuit regarding millions of dollars that Trump and his family and his Trump Organization appear to have unlawfully stolen from the non-profit Presidential Inauguration Committee back in 2017. In a stunning ruling by a different judge last year, the company had been released from the lawsuit. But D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine brought evidence to the Court revealing that the unspeakably cheap and greedy Trump Organization inappropriately billed the Committee for about $50,000 in Inaugural weekend hotel rooms that they never ended up using. We explain the sleazy backstory.
  • In somewhat similarly amusing news, out in Colorado, the very Trumpy disgraced and recently arrested Mesa County Clerk, Tina Peters has now declared her intention to run for Secretary of State! Her backstory of recent disgraces --- apparently helping to steal and distribute proprietary voting system software after sneaking into a secure warehouse and turning off security cameras in the middle of the night; being relieved of her duties and barred from overseeing her county's election by a state judge; being investigated for election-related crimes by local, state and federal prosecutors; and being hilariously arrested last week for refusing to turn over evidence that she violated a judge's order by video-taping a court proceeding (among other stuff) --- should make her a top-notch candidate to win the GOP primary for the state's top election official this year! That, even as state Republicans are pretending as if they'd really rather she didn't run at all.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our 13th Anniversary Green News Report! Despite almost certainly being the nation's longest-running bi-weekly national broadcast devoted to coverage of our climate crisis, the news on that front continues get largely worse, not better, as revealed again in today's episode. Though, as usual, there is also a bit of very good news on that front to help the medicine go down a bit easier...

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Guest: Former Asst. U.S. Attorney Randall D. Eliason; Also: Climate disaster in Rio; Retail sales boom under Biden; I.G. finds Trump Interior Sec. 'misused public office for private gain'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/16/2022 6:05pm PT  

The clean up on aisle 45 seems to never end on The BradCast. But a whole bunch of experts (including our guest today) suggests our disgraced former President is inching ever closer to some very bad news --- at least in New York. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

First up, some other news not getting enough coverage today...

  • Our climate emergency continues to worsen, as 10 inches of rain fell in three hours in a mountainous tourist area near Rio in Brazil on Tuesday. As of airtime at least 58 were confirmed killed by the downpour and the deadly mudslides it triggered. That comes on the heels of at least 40 killed in similar storms in Brazil last month, as the nation's President, Jair Bolsonaro, has allowed for the acceleration of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, contributing to our worsening climate crisis and resulting in these deadly, extreme weather disasters.
  • The Biden economic boom continues, despite corporate media's continuing obsession with inflation. On Wednesday, the Commerce Department reported consumer spending surged in January, and at much higher numbers than can be attributed to inflation. Retail sales nearly doubled what Dow Jones had previously estimated would be seen in January. A separate report today also found that industrial production spiked three times higher than estimates for last month.
  • Donald Trump's disgraced Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, "misused his public office for private gain" and lied about it to government ethics officials, according to a report [PDF] released Wednesday by the Department's Inspector General. Despite vowing, upon his confirmation as Trump's Interior chief in 2017, to disassociate with a foundation he worked with and a related commercial venture while serving as Secretary, Zinke was found to have communicated with the group dozens of times via email and text; had private meetings with them in D.C.; and played an "extensive, direct, and substantive role" in a commercial development project that would also benefit a private commercial project of his own in Montana. The I.G. reportedly referred the matter to Biden's Dept. of Justice, which --- for reasons unknown --- declined to bring criminal charges against Trump's disgraced former Interior chief. And, because no accountability was ever brought over this matter --- or a host of other personal Zinke scandals revealed while he served under Trump --- the wildly corrupt Zinke is now running again for high office in Montana, hoping to win back his old U.S. House seat this year.

Then, it's on to our guest today, for insight on a number of related matters.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that Trump's longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, informed him and his family business last week that they would no longer be doing business with them. Moreover, they informed Trump that nearly 10 years of annual financial statements they'd prepared for him and the Trump Organization should no longer be relied upon to be accurate in any way, as it was based on faulty information supplied by Trump.

The company informed Trump that Statements of Financial Condition created from 2011 to 2020 were being retracted and that, due to a "conflict of interest", they would no longer be working for his company. The news came via a court filing on Monday by New York state Attorney General Letitia James in response to the attempt by Trump and his children to avoid depositions in James' civil investigation into alleged bank, tax and insurance fraud by all of them. The Manhattan D.A. is also running a concurrent criminal probe into many of the same matters.

Since that news became public this week, a number of legal experts have explained that Mazars' "conflict of interest" almost certainly means the firm is now cooperating with New York prosecutors against Trump and his businesses. Longtime Trump investigative reporter David Cay Johnston told CNN on Tuesday that he believes Trump and his company and maybe even his kids, will, in fact, be indicted on racketeering charges in the state.

We're joined today by former Asst. U.S. Attorney RANDALL D. ELIASON, who spent years as Chief of the DoJ's Public Corruption/Government Fraud section in D.C. He's now a law professor at George Washington University Law School where he is an expert in white collar criminal law. Eliason offers helpful insight into Trump's increasingly serious New York troubles and discusses his recent opinion piece at Washington Post calling on Attorney General Merrick Garland to explain himself in regard to the DoJ's probe (or lack thereof) into the 10 or more obstruction of justice allegations detailed by Robert Mueller in the report on his Special Counsel investigation.

On the New York matter(s), Eliason cites a recent comment he'd heard that Mazars' dumping of Trump suggests "the ship is leaving the rats." He charges that the financial firm is clearly "trying to distance themselves, and that suggests they see something bad coming down the road for their client." He concurs that "the most likely explanation for what's going on is that Mazars is now cooperating, either in the criminal case or the civil case, or both, and potentially testifying against Trump and the Trump Organization. That definitely creates a conflict of interest, to where they'd say, 'Well, I can't be your accountant anymore because now I'm actually a witness against you.'"

Eliason also offers a very helpful explanation of what racketeering charges actually are, and how, if Johnston is right, that might play into the New York state prosecutions and even the investigation by Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis into Trump's conspiracy to steal the 2020 election in the Peach State. Eliason further helps us understand how both the NY state Attorney General and Manhattan D.A. could both ultimately bring charges for the same set of fraud crimes, but as a civil matter (resulting in fines and other such penalties) by the A.G. and as a criminal indictment (potentially resulting in prison time) by the D.A.

As to the curious case of Merrick Garland, as Eliason highlighted in his recent Post op-ed, he does not count himself among those who think that Biden's Attorney General is necessarily dropping the ball. But he does believe an explanation is warranted to the American people regarding any potential investigations of Trump on the many cases of obstruction painstakingly spelled out in Mueller's Special Counsel report on Russian interference in 2016 and Trump's related firing of FBI Director James Comey.

On Monday, the statute of limitations into the oldest such obstruction allegation cited by Mueller has now run out. (That, as Eliason detailed at the Post, was "Trump’s alleged request to then-FBI Director James B. Comey to drop the criminal investigation of disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Other acts of possible obstruction soon will be similarly time-barred.")

"This clock is ticking away," Eliason tells me today. "Given the size of the investigation, the seriousness of the investigation, the detail in that report, even though DoJ doesn't normally comment on cases that it's not going to bring, or that it's not prosecuting, in this case they should. They should tell us something about what's happened with that Mueller Report now that we have an administration in office that is not filled with Trump appointees."

Eliason spells out why he believes that, while the DoJ doesn't usually comment on such cases, "this is a unique case" where "a lot of people are really convinced that the evidence of obstruction was pretty overwhelming" and that "it's bad for the Department and bad for the country if that just is allowed to fade into the distance and nobody ever says, 'Hey, we did take a look at this, and here's what we decided.'"

In fact, Eliason believes there is evidence to suggest that Garland is carefully looking at Trump's potential criminal exposure in regard to the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, but is less certain about his handling of the Mueller allegations and thinks "there should be some closure on that.".

All of this, of course, as the clock may also be ticking toward an announcement by Trump that he plans to run for President again in 2024. How would that affect any potential federal indictments against the twice-impeached former President? We discuss that matter --- "practically speaking, that gets really hairy --- as well.

Finally, in our closing few minutes, a few more thoughts on Trump's worsening New York woes from someone else with a unique perspective. George Conway, the longtime Republican attorney and husband of Trump's former Campaign Manager and White House aide Kellyanne Conway, tells CNN why he believes the Mazars news to be far worse for Trump than his two impeachments as President...

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Guest: Dan Vicuña of Common Cause; Also: More lousy reporting from corporate media on Biden's booming economy...
By Brad Friedman on 2/8/2022 6:40pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: As of this past weekend, the news was much better than expected regarded this decade's round of redistricting around the country. That may have changed in a heartbeat on Monday evening with another horrible "Shadow Docket" ruling from the Republicans' stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, before we get there today, one additional point on a topic discussed in detail on yesterday's show. We noted that the GOP appears to be eating itself alive, with Trump attacking Pence for not helping him steal the 2020 election, Pence (gently, but finally) pushing back at Trump, and the RNC, at its Winter Meeting last week in Utah, voting to censure its own Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kingzinger (R-IL) for daring to join in the probe of the deadly, January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, which the RNC's resolution described as nothing more than "legitimate political discourse".

At the same time, the economy is booming at record numbers under President Biden and Democratic control of Congress. So, given all of that, we asked yesterday why Democrats are thought to be in so much trouble this November? We placed a lot of blame on the corporate media for their often ridiculous, lazy, sometimes out-and-out inaccurate, double-standard coverage of Biden and the Dems. Most notably, as we've been shouting here for months, on the economy, with last year's 6.6 million new jobs simply blowing away all previous Presidents in U.S. history, not to mention the lowest unemployment and highest growth in GDP since the 1980s.

Among the many failures of the corporate media is their reporting on monthly jobs numbers from by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as "disappointing" (including numbers that, when they were even lower under Trump, were described as "robust" or even better). That, as the BLS has, almost every single month for the past year, revised previous monthly new job numbers upward by more than 100,000 and sometimes much much more. Well, the media did it again at the end of last year, when describing "disappointing" new jobs numbers in November and December. Both months, as expected, were revised upward last Friday by BLS, but were largely overlooked by the media. And yet these were no small adjustments!

November's new jobs numbers were adjusted from 199,000 initially to 510,000! And the jobs gain revisions in December went from a "disappointing" 249,000 new jobs to 647,000 — painting a much stronger picture of the labor market than reported over those months last year. If we knew the numbers would be revised upwards last year, with our huge BRAD BLOG World News Headquarters resources, why didn't the corporate media report that appropriately at the time? Of course, they did know, but, for some reason, buried that information along with the record low unemployment numbers and record high GDP growth. Why? Decide as you see fit.

Next, the new decennial round of Congressional redistricting has been looking much better for Democrats (and American Democracy along with them), than previously predicted by experts in the run-up to drawing new maps following the 2020 Census. Last week, Cook Political Report's Dave Wasserman even declared "Dems have taken the lead on" his group's "2022 redistricting scorecard," citing favorable state court rulings and other developments putting Democrats "on track to net 2-3 seats from new maps vs. old ones."

Among the recent new developments, late last week North Carolina's state Supreme Court found that the state's GOP-created Congressional and state legislative maps were partisan gerrymanders in violation of their state Constitution. That ruling followed on a similar one from Ohio's Supreme Court which found the same in the Buckeye State, leading them to order new maps as well. At the same time in New York, one of the few states where Democrats control the process for drawing new maps, three districts were drawn that are likely to flip "red" House seats to "blue" (which has outraged state Republicans, leading them to file a lawsuit against what they see as a "partisan gerrymander" in violation of the state Constitution, despite their party doing the same and much worse in a bunch of states where they control the redistricting process.)

And, all of that followed a recent ruling from a three-judge panel in federal court finding that Alabama Republicans violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act with their new House map that drew six White-majority districts and just one Black-majority district, even though Black voters in Alabama represent 27% of the electorate. The three federal judges --- two of them Trump appointees --- ordered a second Black-majority district to be drawn after a days-long trial, including more than a dozen expert witnesses. The three judges unanimously declared in their "meticulous" 225-page ruling [PDF] that "we do not regard the question ... as a close one.”

Nonetheless, on Monday, in a stunning 5 to 4 ruling on the U.S. Supreme Court's "Shadow Docket", without any oral argument, etc., the rightwingers on the High Court stayed [PDF] the lower court's ruling to allow the unlawful racial gerrymander to remain in place for the 2022 mid-terms and perhaps longer. Even Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the 2013 opinion that gutted the VRA's critical Section 5 preclearance provision, voted with the Court's liberals. But, Roberts' vote was not enough. All of which tees up the Court, as expert fear, to gut Section 2 of the Act as well.

Since the Court's 2013 decision all but killing Section 5 preclearance of new election laws in jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination at the polling place, Republicans have claimed that there was always Section 2 that protected against laws with a discriminatory effect in all 50 states, though only after such laws went into effect. Now, experts worry that a full SCOTUS opinion after a hearing later this year on Alabama's racial gerrymander may result in the Court further chopping away at Section 2.

We're joined by one of those experts today. Common Cause's National Redistricting Manager DAN VICUÑA is here to explain both the good news and, as of Monday, very troubling news on the latest round of redistricting, including what the new SCOTUS ruling is likely to mean moving forward, for Alabama, for other states, for the future of the VRA, and for American Democracy itself.

"I think there is within the conservative majority on the Supreme Court a sort of deep skepticism about the Voting Rights Act, which is one of the most effective pieces of legislation to turn back, fight back against our sordid history of racism," Vicuña explains today. "It's been incredibly effective in giving people of color the opportunity to make their voices heard in elections. I think the conservative majority --- at least some of them --- just don't like it very much." And that could be very bad news for American Democracy indeed.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with a boatload of both good and bad (mostly bad, as usual) news on our ever-worsening climate crisis emergency...

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US v. ISIS; Omicron falling, deaths rising; Good swing-state redistricting news; Biden EPA applying brakes on DeJoy's insane, corrupt USPS gas-powered delivery truck boondoggle...
By Brad Friedman on 2/3/2022 6:30pm PT  

Like the Energizer Bunny, the stories on today's BradCast are still going and going and going... [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among them...

The Never-Ending "Global War on Terror": An overnight, on-the-ground U.S. special forces led raid on a house in northwestern Syria is said to have taken out the latest leader of ISIS, along with more than a dozen others, including six children. We share what we know via sources from Al Jazeera to New York Times to President Biden.

The Never-Ending Coronavirus: As quickly as it spiked, Omicron is now falling in almost every state in the nation. But COVID deaths are still on the rise (averaging about 2,600 per day) and hospitals are still up against it. Almost all entirely thanks to the unvaccinated who are now 60 times more likely to die from the disease than those who have received their shots.

The Never-Ending Assault on Democracy: Following the good redistricting news yesterday out of New York state, more good news today from the critical swing-state of Pennsylvania, where the state Supreme Court has jumped into the redistricting fight between the Keystone State's Democratic Governor and its (gerrymandered) Republican state legislature. The 5-2 Dem majority state Supremes have determined they will have the last word on new maps soon and that's likely good news for American democracy.

The Never-Ending Madness of DeJoy's USPS: It's insanity really. It's also wildly corrupt. Donald Trump's still-in-his-position-for-some-reason Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is overseeing a massive Postal Service contract to purchase 165,000 new mail delivery trucks to replace its aging, 30-year old fleet, which averaged 10 miles per gallon. Instead of moving to all-electric vehicles, the $11.3 billion purchase with a Wisconsin-based defense contractor (for some reason) will consist of 90% gasoline-powered trucks for use over the next several decades, despite boasts from DeJoy's PR team that the trucks are more fuel-efficient than the old fleet, with an increase of 0.4 MPG! The Biden EPA is hoping to put the brakes on the independent federal agency. They've found the service's environmental analysis to be wildly flawed and is directing them to start over before replacing a full one-third of the federal fleet with more climate destroying vehicles that will emit the equivalent of 4.3 million gas-powered passenger vehicles over their expected lifespan. The details in WaPo's exclusive on this catastrophic boondoggle illustrate nothing less than mind-bending madness amid our worsening climate emergency.

The Never-Ending Climate Crisis: Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with bad news on gas stoves and on a massive chemical fire in NC; but good news on the U.S. Interior Department distributing billions of job-creating dollars to states to clean up millions of leaking, toxic, abandoned oil and gas wells across the country, as part of Biden's recently signed infrastructure law...

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Guest: Grace Panetta of Business Insider; Also: Dem Senator hospitalized with stroke; Manchin's big 'Build Back Better' lie; NY state redistricting adds 3 new Dem House districts...
By Brad Friedman on 2/2/2022 6:51pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: On January 6, 2021, Donald Trump and his democracy-hating supporters hoped to exploit the vagaries of the horribly written Electoral Count Act (ECA) of 1887 --- along with several vagaries of the U.S. Constitution itself --- to try and steal the 2020 President election during the joint session of Congress meant to affirm the state certified results of the Electoral College. Now, there is an ongoing bipartisan effort in Congress to modernize and reform the ECA to prevent a similar nightmare in 2024 or beyond. But will even that reform, if successfully adopted, be able to prevent a political party from acting in bad faith to steal a Presidential election in plain sight in the future? [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up today, before we get to the ECA, Democrats are down to just 49 voting members of the Senate at the moment, after New Mexico's 49-year old Senator Ben Ray Luján, his office announced on Tuesday, has been hospitalized with a stroke after experiencing dizziness and fatigue last week. The statement suggests a full recovery is expected, even as the incident serves as a reminder of the Party's tenuous 50-vote majority in the Senate...as long as everyone is well and Vice President Kamala Harris is there to break any ties. Dems seem to think that Luján will recover in time to support Joe Biden's eventual nominee to fill the Supreme Court seat being vacated by the retiring Justice Stephen Breyer in June.

Also, speaking of the U.S. Senate, we've got a minor update on the landmark Build Back Better proposal that had served for months last year as the $1.7 trillion centerpiece of President Biden's agenda: Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) says that "it's dead". That, after he killed it at the end of last year following months of negotiations and citing several ridiculous reasons. And while Democrats are hopefully they may still be able to pass Manchin-approved chunks of the bill in the future, I remain dubious that Manchin --- whose family rakes in millions from their coal business, supplying just one single coal plant with waste coal in West Virginia --- will ever allow the measure's critical $555 billion in environmental spending to help tackle climate change to be adopted.

Manchin spent months last year pretending to negotiate "in good faith" on the bill, even claiming repeatedly to support its climate provisions which incentivize the nation's power plants to move from dirty fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy. Even in recent days, Democrats have repeated the notion that Manchin supports at least those provisions of the sweeping measure that would have also expanded healthcare, education, child care, elder care and much more. But if you believe Manchin supports BBB's environmental initiatives, I've got a coal-fired power plant in West Virginia to sell ya. Of course, I hope to be wrong. But I haven't been, so far, on this matter unfortunately.

Next, it's on to the ridiculously written Electoral Count Act (ECA) which was adopted, as our guest today, GRACE PANETTA of Business Insider detailed in her deep-dive report this week, "following the disputed 1876 election between Samuel Tilden and Rutherford B. Hayes, which was marred by allegations of fraud and the disenfranchisement of Black voters." The ECA was passed at the time to help clarify certain aspects of the U.S. Constitution's mandated 12th Amendment process for counting and determining the eligibility of Electoral College votes. But it is so vaguely written --- Panetta cites an ECA scholar who notes that "many of its substantive rules are set out in a single sentence that is 275 words long" --- that Trump and his corrupt team of advisors were able to claim that the ECA allowed for Vice President Pence to pretty much name anybody he liked as the winner of the 2020 election during the joint session of Congress on January 6th.

This week, several coalitions in the Senate --- one, a group of three Democrats; the other, a bipartisan group of 16 Senators including nine Republicans --- are working to rewrite the measure in hopes of both clarifying it and preventing it from being exploited to steal a Presidential election. At least in theory.

As I've discussed on several shows of late, I often go to bed at night pondering the many ways that a political party prepared to act in bad faith --- in this case, Republicans --- can quite easily steal a Presidential election via the Electoral College with literally nothing more than norms, traditions and good faith to stop them. That's a fact, no matter what happens at the precinct level in each state, no matter who is and isn't allowed to vote, and no matter how those votes may be tallied. A party acting in concert in bad faith can steal an American Presidential election and there is little if anything in current law or the Constitution to prevent it.

Moreover, depending on how the ECA is rewritten --- if Republicans allow such a rewrite to be passed in both chambers and signed by the President --- it may still leave the door open for a rogue state legislature or even a single Governor acting in bad faith to steal an election, in what one ECA expert that Panetta cites describes as "the Swing State Governor's Gambit".

Panetta, a senior politics reporter at Insider, joins us from the Senate Gallery today to explain what the ECA is supposed to do; how Trump attempted to abuse it to steal the 2020 election; how reform can hopefully prevent that from happening in the future; and what the chances currently are that this new reform movement in the Senate will be successful.

She also makes clear --- in response to Trump's idiotic statement (admission?) on Sunday, claiming Pence had "the right to change the outcome" of the election --- that "the ECA does NOT give the Vice President the authority to unilaterally decide which electoral votes to count or not."

"The ECA as it exists, in its imperfect, flawed form, does NOT give the Vice President this authority," Panetta reiterates. "At the same time, however, I think what both the bipartisan group and another trio of Democratic Senators who introduced an ECA reform bill yesterday are trying to do is even more clearly state, clearly clarify in 21st-century language, that single slates of electors sent to Congress should be treated as final and the Vice President really has no role to adjudicate this."

Right now, she warns, "the groundwork is being laid at the state level for state officials --- like Governors, like Secretaries of State --- to overturn elections. In short, a Governor could submit an illegitimate slate of electors that does not reflect the popular vote in the state, and candidates could try in federal court to compel a Governor to send the correct slate, but that's no guarantee that that would fully work." So, yes, getting ECA reform right is now more critical than ever.

Finally today, some good news --- at least as I see it. New York's legislature has approved a new Congressional map for the state that will most likely add three additional Democratic members of Congress from the Empire State. New York Republicans are hopping mad about what they describe as an outrageous partisan gerrymander by Democrats. Ya know, just like the even more egregious ones being carried out by Republicans in GOP-controlled states like Ohio, North Carolina and Texas, where population growth was due almost entirely to minority voters, and yet state Republicans removed minority voting districts to add GOP seats. While I certainly would have opposed such efforts by Dems in the past (many redistricting experts still do), given the efforts right now by Republicans to undermine American democracy itself, I'm just fine with what NY is doing. If Republicans oppose it, they can (and should!) take it to court. Unfortunately, they won't be able to take it to federal court, because their own stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court majority recently declared that federal courts may play no part in adjudicating partisan state gerrymanders. SAD!...

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Also: In vote of historic shame, Manchin and Sinema join Senate Republicans to undermine voting rights and American democracy...
By Brad Friedman on 1/20/2022 5:50pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: While this week will be seen by history as a shameful one for American democracy --- or, more specifically, for 50 Republican Senators and 2 Democratic ones --- it may also eventually become a celebrated week for all of the encouraging criminal accountability news that is now coming in on what seems like an hourly basis for our disgraced and failed former President. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the many stories covered today...

  • After a year-long kabuki drama, played out only for the benefit of obstructionist Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), both have decided to include themselves in American history's hall of shame by siding with segregationists, anti-democracy activists and Republican authoritarians in the U.S. Senate to block much-needed protection for voting rights and American democracy. While claiming to support the critical, combined Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act --- which would have helped to standardize voting rights for all, combat the GOP subversion of election results, ended dark money in campaigns, blocked partisan gerrymandering in all 50 states and restored what SCOTUS broke in the Voting Rights Act in 2013 --- the two both voted to ensure none of it could happen. They chose to embrace the Senate's undemocratic filibuster rule instead, just as opponents of civil and voting rights have done over decades of American history. We put a bow on the year-long saga today, share parts of Wednesday night's maddening debate, and join Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) in his vow from the Senate floor to keep coming back "again and again and again" until the job of protecting and saving American democracy is won.
  • In far less grim news today, the very very bad week for the Trump Crime Family continues to worsen. After Wednesday's devastating loss at his own packed and stolen U.S. Supreme Court, documents from the Trump White House regarding January 6, 2021 have reportedly begun flowing from the National Archives to the bi-partisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol and Donald Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election. We review a few interesting points of note from the High Court's crushing 8 to 1 ruling [PDF] rejecting Trump's claim of Executive Privilege in his failed effort to block the release of thousands of documents to the Committee, including what could be some very incriminating video tape.
  • With hopes of hiding behind Executive Privilege all but dashed by SCOTUS, the ability of Trump's henchmen to avoid subpoenas for documents and testimony by the Jan 6 Committee is quickly fading as well. On Thursday, Ivanka Trump became the first family member to receive an invitation --- not yet a subpoena --- from the House Committee to answer a number of key questions about her role in January 6th, and her various reported contacts with her father that day and in the days prior. The letter from Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) makes clear that the Committee already has a great deal of information. It will be tricky for Trump's daughter, who served as a White House advisor, to avoid speaking with them. It will be a crime if she lies to them.
  • But that's not all. After New York State Attorney General Letitia James detailed evidence of years of bank, insurance and tax fraud by the Trump family this week, on Thursday, Trump's bad week became still worse. Fulton County (Atlanta) District Attorney Fani Willis asked a state Superior Court Chief Judge today to impanel a special grand jury in her nearly year-long probe of the apparent criminal conspiracy by Trump and many others (including WH Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Rudy Giuliani and more) to harangue, harass and threaten state election officials into reversing results of the Peach State's 2020 Presidential election, won by Joe Biden, in favor of Trump. Willis has said she will decide in the first part of this year whether or not criminal indictments are warranted for "potential violations of Georgia law prohibiting the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local government bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election’s administration.” Uh, oh.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, covering the likelihood that Biden's Build Back Better bill, also blocked by Joe Manchin, will now have to be broken up into smaller chunks; the devastating volcano and tsunami disasters in Tonga; smashed heat records in the Southern Hemisphere; and Exxon's new ploy to pretend they give a damn about climate change...

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Guest: Eric Boehlert of Press Run; Also: SCOTUS allows Nat'l Archives to release Trump Jan. 6 records to House; NY A.G. details 'fraud' by Trump family; Fox Nation gets a historian's hilarious 'hard no'...
By Brad Friedman on 1/19/2022 6:21pm PT  

Joe Biden is now one year in. Donald Trump is now one year out. Have the media figured out how to properly cover either or both of them? We discuss on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But first, Trump's troubles are getting worse by the day hour. It's been a bad 24 hours for the disgraced, twice-impeached, one-term former President. But that's usually good news for America!

As we literally begin today's program, news breaks that the U.S. Supreme Court is allowing the National Archive to turn over hundreds of pages of Trump White House documents to the bipartisan U.S. House Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol and Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election.

That bad news for Trump (and good news for everyone else) follows last night's bad news for him (and good news for us) out of a New York state courtroom. NY Attorney General Letitia James has been investigating years of apparent bank, insurance and tax fraud by Trump, the Trump Organization, and Trump's children for years. She recently subpoenaed Trump and his kids Ivanka and Don Jr. to sit for depositions in her civil probe. (She is also working with the Manhattan D.A.'s long-running criminal probe into related matters.) Trump and the kids sued to quash the subpoena and, late on Tuesday night, James' office filed documents in response, detailing what she describes in the court papers as "significant additional evidence indicating that the Trump Organization used fraudulent or misleading asset valuations to obtain a host of economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions.”

We discuss some of that "significant additional evidence" today, along with the additional news that when Eric Trump, back in 2020, failed to quash his own subpoena, he subsequently "then invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in response to more than 500 questions over six hours.” That's his right, of course. But back in 2016, while running for President, Trump described pleading the Fifth as "disgraceful". "The mob takes the Fifth," he said at the time. "If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?" We'll see if he, Ivanka and Don Jr., soon join his "disgraceful" son Eric in doing the same, along with the Trump Organization's "disgraceful" Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, who's already been criminally charged with fraud in Manhattan after also pleading the Fifth more than 500 times as well during his own deposition with James.

And then there's the new guy in the White House, who doesn't seem to be criminal or a liar or a fraudster at all. Today marked the end of Joe Biden's first year in office. It's been a rocky one at times, but also extraordinary successful on a number of legislative and economic issues.

We're joined today by ERIC BOEHLERT, longtime media analyst and publisher of the Press Run newsletter, to discuss media coverage of Biden at the one year mark, and how it compares to coverage of Trump's first --- and subsequent --- years in office.

While Biden's approval numbers have been flagging in recent months --- Gallup pegs his one year average at just under 49% --- they are still above Trump's during his entire Presidency. Nonetheless, we saw little from the media declaring Trump's Presidency was over or a failure at the end of his first year, by way of contrast with what we see from the media now, despite several remarkable successes for Biden over the last 365 days.

"It's very similar to Obama," Boehlert asserts. "If you go back and looked at his first year, first term, 'Oh his coalitions are falling apart!' Lots of doomsday coverage for Obama that turned out to be nonsense." He later adds, "Good luck going back and finding stories about whether the Trump Presidency was failed, 'How does he reset?,'" after his first year. "There was an acceptance that Trump was going to poll in the thirties, and the press just went on from there. In terms of how the coverage differs from Biden and Trump, I think that's the key one there."

Suffice to say, the difference in coverage of each President, as Boehlert details, is stark. And not in a good way. Among the other related issues discussed, above and beyond media coverage of the two Presidents: Has the media come to fully understand, much less appreciate, the unprecedented nature of this tenuous moment for American democracy itself?

"We have two sides," Boehlert explains. "A center-left Democrat doing his best, and we have a Republican Party that wants to destroy free and fair elections in America. So if you're the press, don't play that down the middle. Don't pretend those are similar choices."

"When Trump was inaugurated, the press didn't change how it covered Trump," he observes. "You would read the coverage and think Jeb Bush was President, you would think John McCain was President. You would think this is center-right, normal, traditional....not this madman narcissist. I think with the Biden era, they just want to play this game --- 'His polling is down! We've found some Democrats who are critical of him!' These aren't the times for the norm. The Trump years weren't the time for the norm. And we're not seeing drastic change." And that failure by our corporate media is not a good sign for the nation. Or the planet.

Finally today, it appears that Fox "News" is not satisfied by simply rewriting reality in the present. They are now attempting to rewrite history itself, it seems, as far as who actually killed Abraham Lincoln. Seriously. In the bargain, a Lincoln assassination expert's response to an invitation to appear on Fox Nation (the propaganda streaming service companion to the propaganda cable news channel) to discuss it, is one for the ages!...

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Guest: Brennan Center's Michael Li; Also: AZ County finds no 2020 voter fraud; TX counties rejecting absentee applications under new law; Giuliani, other Trump fraudsters subpoenaed by House Jan. 6 Committee...
By Brad Friedman on 1/18/2022 6:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The ongoing GOP effort to undermine American democracy by making it harder to vote and easier to cheat in elections continues amid the fallout from Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election. While you might think Republicans would pay a price for joining him in that effort, its Democrats --- and voters in general and American democracy itself --- paying the price, even as the Big Lie continues to fall further apart with each passing day. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

As you know, Republicans have been using false claims of massive (and, apparently, evidence-free) "voter fraud" in the 2020 election as a pretext to adopt new voter suppression and election subversion laws in GOP controlled states. The fruits of those corrupt efforts are already paying off. In Texas, for example, County Clerks across the state are reporting that the state's new anti-voting law, S.B.1, is forcing them to reject hundreds of legitimate absent ballot applications in one of the most difficult states in the nation to vote by mail already.

New I.D. requirements for ballot applications have resulted in rejections of nearly half of the absentee applications in Travis County, home to the state's capital of Austin. Worse, the state's Secretary of State has yet to issue rules for how County Clerks may legally notify or help the rejected voters to cure their applications in advance of the state's March mid-term primaries. (The application deadline is Feb. 18.)

Many of the rejected applications are from voters that have been voting by mail for years. But the new state law now requires applicants to include either a drivers license number or state I.D. number or the last four digits of their Social Security number on the application. While some don't notice the new requirement and are rejected on that basis, others do include one of those numbers, but are still being rejected! Why? As Democrats had warned when trying to block the bill, the TX law now requires that whichever number a voter uses on their application must match the number on their voter registration form, many of them completed years ago. If the voter includes a drivers license number on their application, for example, but their registration includes a State I.D. number instead --- or no number at all (as is the case with millions of voter registrations in the Lone Star State) --- their applications must now be rejected. Mission accomplished?

Meanwhile, the GOP's Big "voter fraud" Lie continues to fall apart in Arizona, where Joe Biden has been confirmed many times over to have lawfully defeated Trump in 2020. On Friday, in the second largest county in the state, Pima (home to Tucson), the Pima County Attorney's Office determined that, of the 151 cases referred to them as possible cases of voter fraud after 2020, ZERO actually merited criminal charges. There remain a handful of possible fraud cases elsewhere in a the state (less than 50). But, of course, if all known cases of possible fraud in Arizona turned out to be actual fraud and all of those votes were somehow in favor of Biden, there still wouldn't be nearly enough fraudulent ballots to reverse his 10,000+ vote victory out of about 3.2 million ballots cast in the state. Nonetheless, in AZ as well, Republicans are using their lies about "voter fraud" to make it harder to vote and easier for them to cheat in elections.

But the biggest story on today's BradCast involves gerrymandering, perhaps the most critical reason our federal government and our democracy has become so seemingly irreparably broken. Democrats in the U.S. Senate this week have combined the combined Freedom to Vote Act (which, among many other critical election reforms, makes partisan gerrymandering unlawful in all 50 states) and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (which restores the requirement for federal pre-clearance of new election laws in states with a history of racial discrimination in elections after SCOTUS gutted the landmark provision) into one single bill called the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act. All 50 Democrats in the majority claim to support the newly combined bill. Zero Republicans do. But unless two Democratic Senators (Sinema and Manchin) agree to modify the Senate filibuster rule to allow democracy-saving legislation to be adopted with a simple majority vote, none of it will become law and the GOP efforts to game elections will be largely free and clear through 2022.

For several years, experts have been warning that, following the 2020 Census, the new round of redistricting was going to be very bad for Democrats in GOP-controlled states. That, after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013 and later declared that federal courts may have no say at all on the issue of partisan gerrymandering, But, with about half of the new maps now redrawn by states in advance of the 2022 mid-terms (with several being challenged in state courts), are they as bad as many pundits had foretold?

A number of redistricting experts of late have suggested that the new maps aren't nearly as bad for Dems as they might have been. But is that true? We're joined today by Brennan Center's Senior Counsel for its Democracy Program, MICHAEL LI, who serves as the non-partisan organization's redistricting expert.

Last week, in an op-ed for Washington Post, Li describes the notion that gerrymandering hasn't been too bad for Democrats this year as a "misleading narrative" for a host of reasons. Experts, he notes, had predicted a bunch of safe Democratic seats would be remapped into Republican districts. "They expected Democratic seats to fall," Li explains. "But instead, what Republicans are doing is shoring up the disproportionate advantages they already hold" following the extreme partisan gerrymanders from 2011.

"In Texas, under the old maps, Democrats have 36% of the seats. Under the new maps they have 37% of the seats, so very little change," he tells me by way of just one example. "But the competition is gone. So whereas under the old maps there were competitive districts, under the new maps, even if Democrats got 58% of the vote [across the state], they would still have the same 37% of the seats, which hardly seems fair. Even if Texas turned deep blue, Republicans would have almost a 2-to-1 advantage. That's the perniciousness of the state's gerrymander."

There are other examples, in North Carolina for instance, where the maps are currently being challenged in state courts. We also discuss how the Supreme Court's unwillingness to hear partisan gerrymandering cases has affected all of this and whether or not the Court will similarly begin to turn away racial gerrymander cases as well in the not too distant future.

Li goes on to explain why the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act --- if Republicans or Manchinema were to allow it to be passed into law --- "would be a game-changer" on this issue. It "would transform redistricting. There would be a ban against partisan gerrymandering in Congressional redistricting. It would be easy to calculate and figure out whether a map violates that and, if a map does, then it's blocked from use pretty automatically, perhaps even in time for 2022 if Congress were to pass it soon."

But, alas, unless there are some surprises in the Senate this week, the bill is unlikely to pass anytime soon. So, what's left? Should Democratic-controlled states, in order to save democracy itself before the 2024 elections, gerrymander their own maps as aggressively as Republicans have? As much as it pains me to do so, I have previously argued that they should. Does Li agree? Tune in to find out!

Finally, before we go, the mid-show breaking news that Rudy Giuliani and a number of others who were very close to the disgraced former President as he was attempting to steal the 2020 election have now been subpoenaed by the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol...

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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...

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