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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, September 30, 2022
Keeping Up With Ian and Trump's GOP Fraudsters: 'BradCast' 9/29/22
Guest: Nicole Sandler from FL; Also: Election tampering charges in MI; Bad days in court for Powell, Dobbs, Fox 'News'; Trump's corrupt MAL judge strikes again...
'Green News Report' 9/29/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Hurricane Ian smashes records, pummels FL; Manchin's permitting reform bill collapses; New probe for PG&E; PLUS: Mysterious breaches erupt on Russian gas pipelines to Europe...
Recent GNRs: 9/27/22 - 9/22/22 - Archives...
KS Abortion Referendum Data Suggest Women Being Under-Counted in Midterm Polling: 'BradCast' 9/28/22
Guest: Tom Bonier of TargetSmart; Also: Hurricane Ian storms ashore in FL...
Critical Elections, Catastrophic Storm Bear Down: 'BradCast' 9/27/22
Poll workers needed!; Ian closing in on FL; Scofflaw TX A.G. flees process server; Congress nears Electoral Count Act update; Listener mail...
'Green News Report' 9/27/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Ian takes aim at Florida; Fiona broke records in Canada; Noru pummels Philippines; Winter fuel prices soar; PLUS: Pacific Island nations call for fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty at U.N.
Recent GNRs: 9/22/22 - 9/20/22 - Archives...
'Gold Standard' SCOTUS Poll Finds Majority of Americans Support Expansion of High Court: 'BradCast' 9/26/22
Also: Disinformationists; Fascism rising; Hurricane Ian threatens FL; Callers ring in...
Sunday 'Heavy Traffic' Toons
Be sure to check PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons before crossing state borders. You're welcome!...
Trump, Lindell, Ginni Thomas --- Geniuses All!:
'BradCast' 9/22/22
GOP election conspiracists have bad lawyers; Also: Garland's moving (and telling) remarks at swearing-in of new American citizens...
'Green News Report' 9/22/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
U.N. Sec-Gen wants fossil fuel industry to pay up; New plastics initiative; Puerto Rico still lacking power and clean water; PLUS: Senate approves first climate treaty in decades...
Recent GNRs: 9/20/22 - 9/15/22 - Archives...
It's National Voter Registration Day!
(Who Knew?): 'BradCast' 9/20/22
Also: Beer shortage?!; More on DeSantis' migrant scam; Electoral Count Act reform news; Good (and bad) news for disabled voters; Much more...
'Green News Report' 9/20/22
Simultaneous storms, in Puerto Rico, Alaska, Japan; Climate change juiced Pakistan floods; Aussie energy turnabout; PLUS: Plastics plant blocked in LA...
Kidnapping is a Crime. Will DeSantis Be Held Accountable for It?: 'BradCast' 9/19/22
Also: Media still pulling punches on GOP; Elizabeth finally buried, so will CNN finally cover weekend's THREE hurricane landfalls?!; Plus, callers!...
Sunday 'Pawn' Toons
Make your move to PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
Reagan's Big Government Gift to Big Pharma is Still Giving, Killing: 'BradCast' 9/16/22
Guest: Ernest A. Canning; Also: Trump's failed GA election theft; NH GOP Sen. nom flip-flops on 2020 denial; Patagonia gives away company to save planet...
More Good News for Ds; More Fraud Accountability for Rs: 'BradCast' 9/15/22
Biden approval up, strike averted; Trump NY fraud; Feds probe Lindell CO fraud; Fraud probe of MI GOP A.G. nom; NY Election Commish charged w/ absentee vote fraud...
'Green News Report' 9/15/22
U.N. says world in 'uncharted climate territory'; Summer 2022 hottest ever; Clean energy will save world $12 trillion; PLUS: Biden touts IRA, national EV charging network...
'Groundbreaking' Victory for CA's Half-Million Fast-Food Workers: 'BradCast' 9/14/22
Guest: TAP's Harold Meyerson; Also: Rail worker strike looms; Noteworthy primary results from DE, RI, NH...
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...


Also: The corruption of Zinke in MT; The ridiculousness of Walker in GA; Much more...
By Brad Friedman on 8/25/2022 6:44pm PT  

Until (and unless) Democrats can pick up at least two seats in the U.S. Senate this November in order to reform the filibuster --- while retaining their majority in the U.S. House and control of the White House --- the fight for personal freedoms, such as reproductive rights and voting rights, is going to remain a grueling, state-by-state slog. That's where we are right now. But we can change that this November if we ALL turn out and fight like hell to cast our vote. In the meantime, on today's BradCast, we've got some good news in at least some of those state-by-state battles.

Among the many stories covered today...

  • New evidence of the unapologetic corruption of Donald Trump's disgraced former Interior Dept. Secretary Ryan Zinke, who, incredibly enough, is currently the front-runner to win a new U.S. House seat in Montana. Voters in Montana would be wise to reconsider that idea.
  • New evidence of the unspeakable ignorance of former NFL great Herschel Walker, who is now the embarrassing Trump-backed nominee for the U.S. Senate in Georgia, where he is running against Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock. Despite lying about his past, and offering inane, barely comprehensible comments on the campaign trail, not to mention his latest ridiculous response to the Democrats' landmark new climate bill, investing $370 billion to take on our climate crisis, Walker remains very much in the running to unseat Warnock. Voters in Georgia would be wise to reconsider that idea.
  • Newly triggered abortion bans went into effect in three more states on Thursday, in Idaho, Tennessee and Texas. That brings the number of states where reproductive rights and personal freedoms are now completely banned or severely restricted to 14. Many of those states do not allow exceptions for rape, incest or even the life or health of the mother. As the President of the Center for Reproductive Rights told HuffPost, "Vast swaths of the nation, especially in the South and Midwest, are now abortion deserts that, for many, will be impossible to escape." There was a small bit of good news on this front on Wednesday in federal court, however, regarding Idaho's draconian restrictions, as challenged by the Biden Administration's Dept. of Justice. Voters in all of these states are going to need to show up in unprecedented numbers to make their voices heard in November.
  • There was also some good news on this front following this week's elections in New York and Florida, even beyond the political earthquake of Democratic candidate Pat Ryan's win in a special election for the U.S. House in a NY swing-district that would almost certainly have been won by the Republican candidate prior to the U.S. Supreme Court's corrupt GOP majority overturning Roe v. Wade earlier this summer. In FL, the sole Democrat in the state House to vote in favor of new restrictions on abortion and in favor of the Republicans' "Don't Say Gay" law was booted from his job on Tuesday. Also, a judge in FL's Hillsborough County, who made himself infamous earlier this year by denying an abortion to a 17-year old girl because he didn't think her grades were high enough, was also tossed out of his job. Good work, Florida voters! More like that on November 8, please!
  • And then there's the state-by-state fight for voting rights. Here, we've got several encouraging pieces of news from the court in recent days. Earlier this month, a federal court in Texas rejected a state voter suppression law that would leave those who do not live permanently in the state (for example, those who may attend school there) from being able to register to vote in either that state or their own home state! "The part-time and off-campus college students are undeniably disenfranchised because they are unable to register to vote both where they have moved and where they have moved from," the U.S. District Court Judge wrote when issuing his summary judgment [PDF] in favor of plaintiffs. "The court is likewise unable to discern where college students should register as the Temporary-Relocation Provision [of Senate Bill 1111] is written. And the possible repercussions are not just complete disenfranchisement, but also criminal liability. The Temporary-Relocation Provision does not overcome any degree of constitutional scrutiny," he found in tossing out the provision. Naturally, the state's criminally-indicted Attorney General Ken Paxton is appealing the matter to the rightwing 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Late last week, there was good news for voters in North Carolina, as the state's Supreme Court determined that two state Constitutional Amendments --- one to impose Photo ID restrictions on voters, the other to lower taxes --- were unlawfully adopted by a racially gerrymandered state legislature. Some 28 seats in the GOP-majority General Assembly were found by a federal court to have been unlawful racial gerrymanders. But, after that finding and before a new election to correct the gerrymanders, the state Assembly rushed a vote to put the Amendments onto the state ballot. Without the illegal gerrymanders, they likely wouldn't have had enough votes to do so. NC's high court last week ruled, as WRAL summarized, "lawmakers who won their seats through unconstitutional racial gerrymandering cannot then submit constitutional amendments that would permanently disadvantage the same groups discriminated against in the racial gerrymandering process." The state's Republican House Speaker vows to appeal to SCOTUS.
  • And, also late last week, a federal judge determined that Arkansas violated the Voting Rights Act by restricting the number of people who could receive assistance in voting --- such as help in translating an English language ballot --- by any one person. The state law said no single person could help more than six voters. The court found that to be arbitrary and in violation of federal law. "Arkansas has determined that voters should only get the assistor of their choice up to a point," the Judge wrote in his ruling, "but there is no evidence Congress contemplated this numerical restriction on the right.” A similar suit has been filed in Missouri, where state Republicans have limited the number of voters who may be helped by any one person to...one!
  • Finally, before we get to today's Green News Report with Desi Doyen --- in which compelling reason is offered to Virginia voters to vote out their GOP climate change denying Congressman Bob Good --- some breaking news out of California, where regulators have finalized a requirement that will allow only new, zero-emissions vehicles (for example, all-electric vehicles) to be sold in the Golden State as of 2035. Desi explains why that's very good news for both the state and the world. Then, she closes out today's program with our latest GNR, including disturbing news on the worst draught in Europe in at least 500 years; the surprising popularity of climate action among Americans; troubling news about fracking and children's health; and oil giant Saudi Arabia's plan to break into the emerging EV market...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Data analyst Tom Bonier of TargetSmart; Also: House Special election in NY a political 'earthquake' and other results from NY, FL, OK...
By Brad Friedman on 8/24/2022 6:01pm PT  

For some, it was a political "earthquake" on Tuesday. For us here at BradCast, it largely served to confirm what we've been arguing for many months now: Reports about a Democratic shellacking this fall are greatly exaggerated. And, the swing-district Democratic win in a New York U.S. House special election on Tuesday isn't the only new evidence today helping to support that case. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

First up, we run through some of the noteworthy reported election results from yesterday's primaries and runoffs in Oklahoma, Florida and New York. Tune in for specific details and specific races. But while there was good news and bad for both Democrats and progressives on Tuesday, the biggest story of the night was clearly Democratic candidate Pat Ryan's defeat of Republican Marc Molinaro in what both parties have been regarding as a bellwether for this November, a special U.S. House election in NY's 19th Congressional District. The Hudson Valley district is a classic "swing-district" that tends to follow the mood of the nation. It barely went for Biden in 2020 and for Trump and Obama in the years prior. In a "red wave" year for Republicans --- as both the GOP and media have long been instructing us that this year's midterms would be --- Molinaro should have easily won on Tuesday. Instead, he lost by 2 points.

In another special election for the U.S. House yesterday, in the state 23rd District, the Republican candidate won in the very Trumpy district, but by just over 6 points. That, after the Republican who previously held the seat had won it by 17 points back in 2020. It was yet another contest in which Democrats gained over their 2020 numbers, rather than lost, as would be expected in a "red wave" year.

In fact, where Republicans earlier this year had been winning special elections for the House by anywhere from 10 to 20 points more than Trump had won the same districts just two years ago, everything changed on June 24, when the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court, in their Dobbs decision, overturned Roe v. Wade and its 50 years of Constitutionally-protected privacy rights and reproductive freedoms. Since that ruling, every single special House election --- four of them, from Nebraska to Minnesota to New York --- has seen results swing toward Democrats from their 2020 numbers in the same district.

Ryan's victory on Tuesday in NY-19 is being chalked up to his campaign focused on abortion rights, fueled by campaign signs reading "Choice is on the Ballot." Indeed, Ryan also tied choice to freedom and democracy, as noted in his victory tweet last night. "Choice was on the ballot. Freedom was on the ballot, and tonight choice and freedom won," said Ryan, adding: "We voted like our democracy was on the line because it is." In the bargain, he concluded, "We upended everything we thought we knew about politics and did it together."

The GOP candidate, meanwhile --- a fairly strong candidate, not one of the Trump-backed insane ones --- attempted to make the contest a referendum on President Biden, inflation, crime and against one-party rule in D.C., as Republicans have hoped to do elsewhere for this November's midterms. It didn't work.

We've been arguing for many months now on this show that voters should simply ignore "Conventional Wisdom" based on historical data for this year's elections, as these are decidedly UNconventional times. There are many things that make it so, but the overturning of Roe v. Wade is certainly a great big one.

Evidence of that is also showing up elsewhere, as our guest today, TOM BONIER, CEO of TargetSmart, a Democratic data firm, has been noticing and tweeting excitedly about over the past few weeks since Kansas voters decisively rejected a state Constitutional ballot initiative that would have allowed Republicans in the traditionally conservative state to ban abortion rights.

Since then, Bonier explains, in state after state that he has examined --- so-called "red" and "blue" ones and even critical battlegrounds like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and North Carolina, among others --- the data for new voter registrations after the Dobbs ruling show numbers are spiking for women, particularly Democratic women and, specifically, those under 25.

"I'm not one that's prone to hyperbole," Bonier tells me, responding to a question about one of the stats he posted to Twitter, which he described as "jaw-dropping." He says that "when analyzing election data, you generally don't see variations from the norm, from past historical precedent, that are really that substantial." But, after being stunned by what happened in Kansas, he noticed there had been a huge spike in voter registrations in the state in its run-up.

"Of the voters who registered to vote in Kansas after the June 24th Dobbs decision, 70% were women," he found. "I've never seen anything approaching that degree of gender gap. It just doesn't happen."

"The reason you look at new registrants is because it's a great indicator of intensity. It's not that new registrants by themselves will swing the election, but it is a reliable indicator of which groups are really fired up about voting, and that's what's going to decide this election."

He discovered similarly "jaw-dropping" numbers for Pennsylvania after the Dobbs ruling. "It's not just that women are registering to vote. When you look at who those women are, they're overwhelmingly women and Democrats." New Dem registrations, he says, are outpacing Republicans 4 to 1. "Over half of them --- 54% of them --- are under the age of 25. So again, they're younger, they're more likely to be Democrats, overwhelmingly, young Democratic women being engaged."

In North Carolina, like Pennsylvania, where Democrats are eyeing another potential U.S. Senate pick-up that seemed impossible just several weeks ago, Bonier says he is seeing a similar trend. Before Dobbs, "Republicans had a one point advantage among new registrants. Since Dobbs that's shifted to a 5-point Democratic advantage...again, driven by younger women primarily, though not exclusively."

In Ohio, a similar story. In fact, Bonier says women are out-registering men in Idaho, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Arkansas and elsewhere.

Has he drilled down on these statewide numbers to see if they will have an affect on the heavily gerrymandered new maps that will favor Republicans in the U.S. House this year? So far, Bonier argues, they are "seeing the same pattern in these more potentially competitive Congressional districts."

Are the numbers large enough that, even with that gerrymandering, Democrats might actually be able to hold their majority in the House this November? "If you'd asked me this a few months ago, I never would have said this, but yes, Democrats have a chance. It's still an uphill battle --- especially because of the structural disadvantages --- but there's clearly a chance. We're not talking about the slimmest of margins, we're talking about a real opportunity. But for that to bear fruit for Democrats, it's going to take this trend continuing. It's going to take Dobbs being an inflection point, where we look back and we say, 'This election cycle, there was pre-Dobbs and there was post-Dobbs, and Dobbs is really what changed everything.'"

Bonier cautions that it "will still be difficult" and nothing is certain, especially since betwen this and so much else this year, there are simply no modern historical equivalents to compare it to. "So the best thing we can do is go out, work as hard as we can, and fight for every vote."

Have we been right to argue for so many months that voters should simply ignore the "conventional wisdom" --- from political professionals, including guys like Bonier --- in these UNconventional times? Tune in for his answer...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Election law experts are freaking out over corrupt Court's plan to legalize stolen elections; Also: Ginni Thomas lied about J6 testimony; Defamation suit proceeds against Fox 'News'; Internet Voting scheme dead in CA...
By Brad Friedman on 7/1/2022 6:49pm PT  

We have a very serious warning for voters about elections and American democracy and the corrupt U.S. Supreme Court on today's BradCast. Please tune in and listen! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

To quickly summarize my half-hour or so long rant at the top of today show...On Thursday, as discussed on our previous show with legal expert Mark Joseph Stern, the corrupt, radical, illegitimate, not-conservative-in-the-least U.S. Supreme Court used a made-up, phony legal doctrine --- the "Major Questions" doctrine --- to justify gutting the Environmental Protection Agency's statutory mandate to protect the environment by regulating climate warming carbon emissions. The so-called doctrine, not found anywhere in the Constitution or historic case law, was made up for use by the Court's rightwing extremists. They are now about to do something very similar in order to gut federal elections and American democracy as we know it in advance of the 2024 Presidential election.

In their last order of business, before the end of this past year's term on Thursday, the Court announced that next term they would take up the North Carolina case of Moore v. Harper. The case involves a voter challenge to the state GOP's newly-drawn U.S. House maps. The NC state Supreme Court agreed the map was an unlawful gerrymander under the state constitution and drew up a fairer map. But North Carolina Republicans sued, charging that state Supreme Court was not allowed, according to the U.S. Constitution, to nix the GOP gerrymander due to the so-called "Independent State Legislature" theory. In short, it's a made up "doctrine" --- not unlike the "Major Questions" doctrine used to justify gutting the EPA --- that has been pushed for a number of years by fringe Republicans.

The ISL doctrine cites some lines from the U.S. Constitution to argue that state legislatures and only state legislatures --- not Boards of Elections or Secretaries of State or Governors or even state courts or Constitutions or popular ballot initiatives adopted by voters --- may dictate how federal elections are run. That is a job solely granted to state legislatures, according to this previously-fringe theory.

It was one of the failed arguments under which Donald Trump supporters tried to claim that emergency pandemic voting rules adopted by state officials (other than the state legislature) were unlawful in 2020. It was also one of the arguments pushed by rightwingers that state legislatures could have simply voted to name Trump electors in states where the voters actually chose Joe Biden's electors.

The "Independent State Legislature" doctrine has never been granted legitimacy by a majority on the U.S. Supreme Court. But, earlier this year, four of the Court's six radical Republicans --- Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh --- called for the Court to examine the issue more closely. They now need just one more vote to recognize this controversial Constitutional claim as "legitimate", which is why so many in the election law world are freaking out today after SCOTUS announced yesterday that they will hear 'Moore v. Harper' next term.

Usually, quite staid UC Irvine law professor Rick Hasen's argues "It's hard to overstate the danger" of this case. Vox's Ian Millhiser describes the "grave threat to US democracy" it presents. You --- and elected Democrats(!) --- should be freaking out at this point as well. Or, at least, understanding what is about to happen to what is left of our representative "democracy" if this switch gets thrown by the newly emboldened and radicalized Court.

Given the many radical, not-conservative-in-least rulings over the past several weeks by the six far-right extremists on this stolen and packed Court --- overturning Roe v. Wade, blocking the ability for states to well-regulate firearms, eroding the separation of church and state, all but gutting Miranda rights, further gutting the Voting Rights Act, and torching the EPA's ability to regulate deadly carbon pollution --- we should all be very concerned about what this Court is likely to do regarding Moore in 2023...in advance of the 2024 Presidential election.

We put the case in full context on today's BradCast, and detail why its so important to elect enough Democrats this November --- love them or hate them --- to hold the majority in the House and add enough Democrats to the Senate to finally reform or end the filibuster in order to codify Roe and respond to many of the other matters mentioned above, as well as finally expand SCOTUS to re-legitimize the de-legitimized Trump/McConnell/Roberts Court before they unleash every manner of electoral chaos --- and outright "legalized" stolen elections --- in advance of 2024.

PLEASE. PAY. ATTENTION. TO. THIS. CASE!

Beyond that red flag warning at the top of today's show, and before standing down for a few much-needed days off next week, we also catch up on several other news items of note that we've had to put off over the past week or so due to Congressional hearings, primary elections, and wholly corrupt Supreme Court opinions. Among them...

  • After rightwing activist Ginni Thomas, wife of rightwing activist Justice Clarence Thomas, was revealed to have been deeply involved in Trump's effort to steal the 2020 election, she was invited to testify to the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 insurrection. She received much coverage when she announced she would be happy to do so, declaring, "I can’t wait to clear up misconceptions. I look forward to talking to them.” You'll be shocked to learn that Ginni was lying. This week, her attorney said she will not testify because there is "not...a sufficient basis" for the Committee to interview her under oath.
  • A judge in Delaware has found that Dominion Voting Systems has presented sufficient evidence to determine that Rupert Murdoch and his son Lachlan of Fox "News" may have acted with "actual malice" when causing their Republican propaganda station to broadcast false claims that the voting system vendor helped steal the election for Joe Biden. The judge ruled that the billion dollar defamation suit against Fox may now proceed toward trial.
  • Here in California, where we recently reported on the attempt by some Democrats in the state legislature to adopt an insane Internet Voting scheme, we've got some good news. After passage in the state Senate, the matter was killed in the state Assembly following critical work by grassroots voting system and cybersecurity experts in opposition and a letter from the Sec. of State opposing the measure as well. But CA Dems keep trying to this, year after year, so watch out for another attempt in future sessions.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report on the heels of SCOTUS gutting the EPA's ability to regulate carbon emissions amid our deadly climate crisis and much more...

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: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern on that and much more on the final day of the corrupt rightwing Supreme Court's unprecedented term...
By Brad Friedman on 6/30/2022 6:23pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was the grand finale at the end of a U.S. Supreme Court term like no other. Now that its packed with rightwing extremists, the unleashed activists on the GOP's illegitimate 6 to 3 U.S. Supreme Court pretended on Thursday that the text of the written law doesn't say what it actually says, in order to offer a parting gift for the year to the fossil fuel industry --- as the nation and globe burn.

The Clean Air Act, as Justice Elena Kagan wrote [PDF] on behalf of the three dissenters, "directs the EPA to regulate stationary sources of any substance that 'causes, or contributes significantly to, air pollution' and that 'may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.'" She made clear that, as the Court has determined on multiple occasions, the Environmental Protection Agency "serves as the Nation's 'primary regulator of greenhouse gas emissions.'"

But, never mind all of that. On Thursday, writing for the Court's far-right majority in West Virginia v. EPA --- and ignoring its own precedents --- Chief Justice John Roberts pretended none of those mandates existed in the law adopted by Congress in 1963 and amended a number of times over the years. Despite any actual existing Administrative rule to regulate carbon emissions by coal and gas-fired power plants --- Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan was put on hold by the Court years ago, and Donald Trump's scheme to restrict the EPA's power to do so was rejected by lower courts --- SCOTUS took up this coal-industry sponsored law suit and gave them pretty much everything they sought, text of the written law be damned.

As they did when striking down the Administration's vaccine-or-test mandate, the Court once again invoked their newly invented "Major Questions" doctrine in order to declare that any issue that may be controversial in any way may not be decided by the scientists and experts at the federal agencies created to handle such things. Instead, they must be specifically directed, by Congress, to do so. Because the Clean Air Act, which tasks the EPA with regulating dangerous pollutants --- such as carbon released by coal-fired power plants, currently exacerbating our deadly climate crisis --- doesn't actually cite "carbon" specifically, the Trump/McConnell/Roberts Court has now declared the federal agency may take no action to help reduce it. Never mind their own previous findings and, of course, the number of Americans who will die because of this ruling.

The opinion was as predictable as it is corrupt. We're joined today by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist and Constitutional law expert at Slate, to discuss the opinion that will not only limit the EPA from doing the job it has already been tasked with by Congress, but prevent many other federal agencies from carrying out their mandates as well. It's all part of the corporate rightwing's long "war on the Administrative State". And it's a war they are now winning --- and we are all losing.

"Massachusetts v. EPA held that the federal government must --- not can, but must --- regulate and limit carbon emissions in the United States because carbon is a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, and thus the EPA has a legal obligation to institute guidelines that reduce the level of greenhouse gases the US is emitting," Stern emphasizes, noting that today's opinion in West Virginia v. EPA "involves a regulation that does not exist."

Nonetheless, "the Supreme Court decided to take it up just to stop Joe Biden from trying" to regulate the greenhouse emissions now warming our planet at an alarming rate. "The Supreme Court," Stern adds, "decided to simply slap limitations on [the Clean Air Act] that do not exist in the text because they do not like it as a matter of policy."

As to the so-called "Major Questions" doctrine, argues Stern, "It's hard to define, because it is made up." It's not in the Constitution and, as far as he can tell, "it comes from Brett Kavanaugh's brain. This was his idea when he was on the lower court, to try to smuggle in a kind of anti-regulatory agenda into what looks like statutory interpretation."

"The basic idea is that if an agency tries to take some kind of very consequential action, that has a serious and vast impact on the people, or the economy, or private industry, then that is a 'major question', and the Congress has to give the Agency an extremely granular and explicit permission slip to do what it wants to do, otherwise the courts will block it. The problem with this test that should be clear, is that it is totally subjective. What looks like a major question to you may look like a frivolous question to me, and it really shifts policy-making over to unelected judges from experts in federal agencies."

Of course, this is just one of the many reasons I don't refer to these people as "conservatives". They don't merely interpret the law and the Constitution, as they claim. They make shit up to justify their politics. They are the "activists legislating from the bench" that Republicans pretend to oppose --- when they are trying to block Democratic appointees from positions on the bench.

There is much more today from the wise and colorful Mr. Stern, on this matter; on a separate (largely good news) ruling from the Court today on immigration policy; on the Court's opinion last week that begins to gut the famous Miranda Rights (the right to remain silent, to an attorney, etc.) for people who are detained by law enforcement (a "sleeper case" overlooked because it came on the same day that the Court overturned Roe v. Wade); on what will or can happen once the illegitimacy of this Court becomes clear to all; and on Justice Stephen Breyer's last day on the Court today before Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in as its first-ever black female jurist.

As if that's not enough, a ruling this week by SCOTUS overturned a lower federal court that found Louisiana's newly gerrymandered Congressional District map to be an unconstitutional violation of the Voting Rights Act. The lower court ordered another black majority District to be created, as state Republicans had only one among six, in a state where one-third of population is black. The ruling was similar to another in Alabama, which SCOTUS also struck down recently, ordering both states to use the gerrymandered and unconstitutional House maps drawn by Republicans for this year's critical 2022 midterm elections.

Does this signal the Court intends to overturn the entirety of the landmark Voting Rights Act, as they did with Roe? "Yes," Stern answers, before explaining how "really, they've already done it."

And then there's the new case that SCOTUS announced today they will take up in their next term, as their destruction continues. It's an election case out of North Carolina to allow the Court to create another pretend legal notion that the Right calls the "Independent State Legislature" Doctrine.

"I am terrified about this case," Stern says, as it will almost certainly be decided to allow "state legislatures to appoint electors in the Electoral College to the losing candidate in a Presidential race. Which is exactly what Donald Trump wanted them to do in 2020, and what Ginni Thomas was urging legislators to do while her husband was trying to institute this theory."

"The American people are in deep, deep, DEEP trouble," he warns.

Please "enjoy" today's program!...

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Just another day on Democracy Watch...cuz someone's gotta...
By Brad Friedman on 6/7/2022 6:13pm PT  

It's 'Super Duper Tuesday' Midterm Election Day today in Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota and California. The good news on today's BradCast? So far, no noteworthy reports, as of airtime, of voting system disasters that we've heard about or been able to find. But the night is young. Results from today's elections, such that we have them, on tomorrow's show. But, don't worry, we've got tons of elections and democracy related news for you nonetheless. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among our many stories covered today...

  • As Philadelphia Inquirer's Will Bunch described it in his email newsletter today, "the multi-millionaire celebrity doctor from New Jersey officially defeated the multi-millionaire hedge fund CEO from Connecticut to become the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania." He's mostly correct. The Connecticut hedge fund millionaire, Dave McCormick, did concede late last week to the New Jersey millionaire TV doctor, Mehment Oz amid Pennsylvania's recount in the very close May 17 race to become the GOP nominee for the Keystone State's U.S. Senate contest to replace retiring Republican Senator Pat Toomey. But a concession doesn't actually mean anything. Oz will not become the "official" nominee until the recount is finalized over the next day or so. Then, the Trump-endorsed celebrity TV doctor, who is not a resident of Pennsylvania, but is a Turkish citizen, will become the GOP's "America First" nominee to run against PA's Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman this November. Presuming Fetterman's health holds out. Dems see the seat as among the most flippable this fall...assuming Fetterman's health etc...
  • In other very close primary news, two Democratic recounts in U.S. House primaries now await in Texas. In the state's 28th Congressional District, rightwing, pro-gun, anti-choice Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar ended the canvass period up by just 281 votes (out of about 45,000 cast) over progressive favorite Jessica Cisneros after their May 24 runoff election. Today, Cisneros officially requested a recount --- and must pay for it, unless she ends up winning it --- despite some obnoxious comments from Cuellar who, himself, ended up winning a 2004 primary recount against his Democratic opponent when he first went to Congress. Back then, he had lost by 145 votes after the canvass, but ended up winning the race by 58 votes after a recount. So, you'd think he'd be a bit less obnoxious in this case...but you'd be wrong. Whoever wins the recount will probably take the House seat in the "blue"-leaning district.
  • In another Democratic primary race for U.S. House in Texas, there was an even closer race, with progressive Michelle Vallejo topping the more conservative Ruben Ramirez by just 30 votes (out of about 12,000 cast) in the state's 15th Congressional District. Ramirez says he too will seek a recount. Whether either of these races will be recounted by hand in the state is unclear. But if the candidates want to know who really won or lost, they will fight for a count by hand, rather than by the same computers that tallied the results in the first place. The winner of the race will face off with Republican Monica De La Cruz in November, in what is expected to be one of the most competitive House races in the state after this year's round of gerrymandering.
  • And speaking of gerrymandering...last month, a state court in Florida found Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' new U.S. House map to be in violation of the state Constitution after voters, in 2010, added an Amendment that outlaws partisan maps and specifically those that diminish the ability of minority voters to elect their chosen candidate. The DeSantis map was enacted after he vetoed the GOP legislature's already-gerrymandered map and made it even worse by removing a district currently represented by Democratic African-American Rep. Al Lawson. Last month, the state court ordered a new, fairer map, but a state appeals court blocked that order. The appellate decision was quickly appealed by voting rights groups. But late last week the state's GOP state Supreme Court allowed the appeals court's stay to remain in place. That means that DeSantis' extremely gerrymander U.S. House map --- found to have been in violation of the state Constitution --- will almost certainly be used anyway this year. The unconstitutional map allows a GOP advantage in 20 of the state's 28 districts, despite DeSantis having barely won his own election in 2018 in the closely divided state by less than one-half of a percentage point.
  • In somewhat brighter gerrymandering news (at least until the ruling is overturned by the very rightwing 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals), a federal judge in Louisiana on Monday found the state GOP's U.S. House map in violation of the Voting Rights Act. The map --- originally vetoed by Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, but overridden by the GOP state legislature --- includes just one black majority Congressional District, out of six, even though the state's population is almost one-third black. LA's Republican Sec. of State has vowed to appeal the court ruling which bars the use of the gerrymandered map. But, given the corrupt 5th Circuit Appeals Court and the GOP's corrupt, stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court above them, it's a safe bet the state's unconstitutional map will be allowed for the critical 2022 midterms anyway. It'd be nice if we're wrong about that. But don't bet on it.
  • Next, we've been covering, in great detail in recent months, the many schemes by Republican election insiders across the country, in the wake of the 2020 election, to breach proprietary computerized voting systems, make copies of the sensitive software, and even release it to the public in some cases. (See the Mesa County, Colorado County Clerk Tina Peters, who is now facing criminal charges for what she did, or the GOP Board of Elections in Coffee County, Georgia, for just two examples.) While Reuters reports that there have been at least 17 such incidents nationwide, their new exclusive finds that 11 of them took place in Michigan. Based on public records requests, the new outlet found discovered that there has been "a flurry of efforts by state authorities to secure voting machines, poll books, data-storage devices and phone records as evidence in a probe launched in mid-February." Luckily, the state has a Democratic Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State, the latter of whom tells Reuters that law enforcement officials are now probing whether the broad election system breaches by GOP "fraud" dead-enders are coordinated. This in a state where even the GOP state legislature issued a report finding no evidence of widespread fraud and called for the prosecution of those who fraudulently claimed that there was. "If there is coordination," Sec. of State Jocelyn Benson told Reuters, "whether it's among those in our state or reaching up to a national level, we can determine that and then we can seek accountability for all involved." I expect we'll be hearing more about this effort in the days, weeks and months ahead.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as she gets us caught up on a whole bunch of stuff that happened while we were out last week. Happily, not all of it --- just some of it --- is terrible news...

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J6 Comm subpoenas McCarthy, four other Reps; Fed grand jury probes Trump handling of classified docs; Eastman advised how to steal PA's 2020 election; House finds meatpackers colluded with Trump Admin for deadly COVID Exec Order; DeSantis' FL gerrymander nixed by judge...
By Brad Friedman on 5/12/2022 6:55pm PT  

It's another one of those BradCasts where our disgraced former President casts a very long shadow. We've got way too much breaking news, as one accountability story after another broke today. Theoretically, that's a good thing. But you may need to take notes. We've got a lot to cover. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the stories covered today...

  • First up, after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently overruled his own far-right state legislature's already-gerrymandered new U.S. House map in favor of his own even more extreme gerrymander, a state judge that HE appointed has shut that whole thing down. For now. On Wednesday, Judge J. Layne Smith determined DeSantis' map --- which could give Republicans a 20 to 8 advantage in the their U.S. House delegation --- violates the state Constitution's 2010 Fair Districts Amendment "because it diminishes African Americans' ability to elect the representatives of their choice." Of course, that was the whole point when DeSantis --- who won his race for Governor in 2018 by less than one percentage point --- nixed two black majority districts in the state (one of which was created by the state Supreme Court the last time the map was challenged.) DeSantis believes his own state Constitution violates the U.S. Constitution. (So much for the states' rights he used to pretend to believe in.) So, Florida will now be paying for an appeal to fight for the voter disenfranchisement.
  • The House January 6 Committee on Thursday subpoenaed House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, as well as Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Mo Brooks of Alabama. The Committee says they each "participated in meetings at the White House" and/or "had direct conversations with President Trump leading up to and during the attack on the Capitol." All five were previously invited to voluntary speak to the Committee. They didn't. Now they are receiving what appear to be unprecedented Congressional subpoenas to members of Congress from the bipartisan panel probing Trump's 2021 insurrection and his attempt to steal the 2020 election.
  • The New York Times is reporting today that federal prosecutors have opened a grand jury probe into whether laws were violated when Trump absconded with 15 boxes full of items and documents --- including some marked as classified national security documents --- when he left the White House for Mar-a-Lago. The items belong to to the American people under the Presidential Records Act, but the larger question is about his treatment of boxes and boxes of classified documents. (Recall he used to pretend to care about such things. In 2016, when running against Hillary Clinton, he called for her to be "locked up" because she lawfully used a private email server and received or forwarded several documents with classified material in them.) A grand jury convened by DoJ would suggest this matter has advanced very quickly.
  • Speaking of grand juries, just a friendly reminder that Fulton County (Atlanta) District Attorney Fanni Willis convened her Special Grand Jury last week on Monday, May 2. She's investigating Trump's conspiracy to steal the 2020 election in Georgia, following his infamous and threatening call to the state's Sec. of State, instructing him to "find" just enough votes to name Trump the winner there. The probe could bring charges any day now (not that we have any insider knowledge) of a criminal conspiracy that includes Trump, his Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, his attorney Rudy Giuliani and even North Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, all of whom participated in strong-arming the Sec. of State and other officials to steal the election for Trump who lost the state by about 10,000 votes.
  • Emails unearthed by the Denver Post and reported by Politico this week from Trump's MAGA attorney John Eastman (who spoke at Trump's rally on January 6 and wrote the memos calling for VP Mike Pence to ignore the Electoral College votes to steal the election for Trump), reveal that he also advised a Pennsylvania state legislator how to steal the election for Trump in the state by tossing out legal votes and using absurd pretend math to declare Joe Biden lost, even though he won there by about 85,000 votes. Eastman told PA state Rep. Paul Diamond how Republicans in the legislature could change the results to "provide cover" for choosing Trump electors instead of the ones for Biden who the voters actually elected.
  • Trump's corruption was also deadly for hundreds of thousands when it came to the COVID pandemic. As President Biden marked the passing of one million Americans due to coronavirus at the White House on Thursday, a new report from a House Select Subcommittee finds the nation's meat packing industry hyped "baseless" concerns about shortages and colluded with top Trump Admin officials --- including Meadows, Pence Chief of Staff Marc Short and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue --- to invoked an Executive Order. The order, which the industry drafted, invoked the Defense Production Act to bar state officials from shutting down meatpacking plants during the first year of the pandemic. At least 269 industry workers died, 59,000 were infected, and an estimated 334,000 infections nationwide were tied to meatpacking plants where workers were forced to work in dangerous, close conditions. The industry got their Executive Order from Trump, barring plant shutdowns under the lie that the nation's food supply was at risk. As the Committee's report finds, in fact, the five major companies which comprise the industry in the U.S. saw record profits during the pandemic, and saw pork exports at a three-year high during the first three quarters of 2020 when they sent more than 300% more pork to China than in normal years. There ought to be a lot of criminal charges --- including for homicide --- brought here. We'll see if anyone pays a price for it.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as Australia's Great Barrier Reef is hit with yet another climate change-induced mass bleaching event; a new study finds climate change is a key concern regarding the emergence of new viruses and pandemics; new severe drought restrictions are enacted in Arizona and California...but last year, at least, was a very good one for renewable energy across the globe...

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Also: Turner loses again to Brown in OH; Trump-endorsees win in OH and IN; Amazing appeals court hearing in Cawthorn ballot eligibility case; Trump wanted to shoot BLM protesters, says his former SecDef...
By Brad Friedman on 5/4/2022 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: With midterm primaries in Ohio and Indiana yesterday kicking off a month of about a dozen such primaries across the country, and more to come in subsequent months, America is voting again. So, naturally, America's voting systems are failing voters again. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

In Ohio, in at least three different counties (Lucas, Cuyahoga and Williams) reports of misprogrammed systems prevented voters from casting their votes or forced them to return later in the day to do so. Electronic pollbooks used as part of computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) appear to be the culprit this time. Again. In this case, at least in Lucas (Toledo) and Cuyahoga (Cleveland) it appears the e-pollbook vendor misprogrammed them to print out barcodes on ballot cards that subsequently brought up the ballot for the wrong party when voters put those ballot cards into the BMDs to try and cast their votes. Republicans received Democratic ballots and vice versa.

The widespread failure was reportedly corrected eventually, by about 2pm. In some cases, poll workers were able to manually punch in codes to bring up the correct party ballots and precincts onto the BMD systems for voters. In other cases, voters were given printed ballots that they could fill in by hand (begging the question as to why all voters weren't simply given reliable, verifiable hand-marked paper ballots to use in the first place to avoid these ongoing electoral nightmares!) Either way, problems like these do little to foster confidence in our electoral system, particularly on BMD systems which are already 100% unverifiable after elections, making it impossible to know if votes cast via such systems actually reflect the intent of any voter.

Luckily, confidence in our voting systems hasn't been a big concern in the U.S. of late, right?

As to actual reported results of voting on Tuesday, we cover, among other things, the Democratic U.S. House race watched closed by some on the progressive left between Rep. Shontel Brown and Bernie Sanders-ally Nina Turner in the state's 11th Congressional District (which happens to touch both Lucas and Cuyahoga Counties, where voting systems failed). The contest was a re-run of last Summer's special election to fill the House seat vacated by Rep. Marcia Fudge after she was tapped to serve as Joe Biden's HUD Secretary. Turner lost once again on Tuesday, reportedly by a much wider margin this time, before suggesting in her fiery concession speech that she may be planning an independent run for President in 2024.

All of the U.S. House races in Ohio were run on a new map found by the state Supreme Court to violate the state's constitution, requiring districts that reflect the state's partisan balance after a 2018 ballot iniative for fairer maps won 70% of the vote. Ohio's Presidential contest in 2020 was about 53 to 45% in Trump's favor. Nonetheless, the new maps created by the GOP-majority Redistricting Commission in the Buckeye State will likely result in a 13 to 2 --- or maybe 12 to 3 --- advantage in favor of Republicans in Ohio's U.S. House delegation, as redistricting expert Dave Daley told me via email today. The unconstitutional map is being used in 2022 as the court challenge continues. Perhaps they'll get fair U.S. House maps by 2024. Or not.

On the Republican side of Tuesday's primaries, all of Trump's endorsed candidates --- no matter how crazy, no matter how many times they've been accused of domestic violence or sexual harassment --- won yesterday in both Ohio and Indiana. In Ohio, that even included author and former never-Trumper J.D. Vance in his bid for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination. Vance, back in 2016, said he couldn't "stomach Trump" and found him "noxious". But he changed his tune when he decided to run for the open Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman. Now, Vance says, Trump's "a great President, certainly the best President of my lifetime." That was enough, apparently, to win Trump's endorsement, which appears to have catapulted Vance from third place, just a few weeks ago, to a reported win on Tuesday night. He'll be running in November against Democratic nominee Rep. Tim Ryan.

While all of this is great for Trump's considerable ego, it remains to be seen whether having a bunch of far-right, radical loons and alleged abusers who insist the election was stolen from Trump in 2020 (despite any evidence to support the claim) will be good or bad for the GOP this November. It should be a big year for them, but there are still a whole lot of X Factors that could affect so-called Conventional Wisdom on this.

Next, the voters challenging the eligibility of North Carolina insurrectionist Rep. Madison Cawthorn to run for reelection had their day in federal appeals court on Tuesday, after a Trump-appointed lower court judge tossed their Constitutional challenge to Cawthorn's eligibility under the "Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause" of the 14th Amendment. The Q&A between Cawthorn's defense attorney and one of the judge's on the appeals panel was...um...kinda mind-blowing.

As Constitutional law expert John Bonifaz of Free Speech for People, the group representing the voter challengers, summarized on Twitter yesterday: "'Let's say you want to run for office at 12 years old, or something like that,' Judge James Wynn said. 'The state can't do anything? You've got to wait until Congress says they can't run?' Cawthorn's counsel: Yes, the state has no role + must allow that 12 year old on the ballot." Even that snippet doesn't do this hearing justice. We break the whole thing down for ya today.

Then, as we try to get caught up on a bunch of stuff that's been buried by larger stories (in Ukraine, at the Supreme Court) this week, a new memoir by Trump's last Defense Secretary, Mark Esper, claims that Trump wondered why the military couldn't just shoot Black Lives Matter protesters in the street.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as unprecedented heat in South Asia is now "testing the limits of human survivability" and much more, including even some good news on Denmark going all-electric...

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Callers respond on Kremlin talking points echoed by some on the Left, and on why Americans support Biden's Ukraine policies while disapproving of his policy on Ukraine. (You read that right.)
By Brad Friedman on 5/2/2022 5:51pm PT  

We had a very lively call-in show today on The BradCast, as we stacked the deck with folks who disagree with me, in response to my calling out those, particularly on the (supposed) Left, for forwarding Kremlin propaganda (including at on our own flagship station, KPFK, here in Los Angeles), over our public airwaves, amid Russia's deadly and grotesque war and war crimes against Ukraine. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Before we get to that and to a bunch of callers on that topic...The midterm primary season gets under way in earnest this week --- with Ohio and Indiana voters holding Election Day tomorrow. So, we've got a few quick words on that, and on the gerrymandered U.S. House District map that Republicans have managed to keep in play this year, even though it was found --- four times to date! --- to be in violation of the Ohio state Constitution by its state Supreme Court. But, as we discussed in detail last week, the GOP's packed federal courts allowed the even more gerrymandered map drawn after 2010 to be used once again in this year's election, as Ohio's GOP-majority Redistricting Commission purposely ran out the clock on drawing new legal maps following the 2020 Census.

Then, it's on to our main topic: Namely, Russia's ongoing military invasion of its sovereign neighbor and the propaganda help Vladimir Putin is getting from some on the far-Left in this country who are lying and/or misinformed about it all. Hopefully, via at least some of the calls from listeners today, we straighten out at least some of what happens to be Kremlin propaganda and what is not.

It remains unclear some on the Left --- who claim to be anti-war (like us), who were critical of the U.S. when we were the empire invading a sovereign nation (as we were) --- are now having such a difficult time condemning Russia for doing the very same thing. Our anti-war position has been both accurate and consistent. As you'll hear on today's program, at least a few of our listeners seem to have a problem with that sort of consistency, choosing to blame the U.S. for Russia's war.

Today's lively conversation also comes as new polling from WaPo/ABC finds huge, bipartisan majorities of Americans support Joe Biden's actions in Ukraine, including his vow to keep American troops out of the conflict, sanctions against Russia; and sending defensive weaponry, humanitarian and economic aid to Ukraine. Despite that, in the very same poll, only a minority of Americans say they support Joe Biden's actions in Ukraine! Ya know, the same ones they previously said in the very same poll that they supported. Seriously. So, what's going on here? We open the phones to callers to try and help us understand that puzzle as well today.

Among the lively calls, several who try to forward more Russia propaganda on Ukraine (it didn't go well), and one who seemed disappointed, oddly enough, that the U.S. was trying to stay out of the direct conflict in hopes of avoiding a nuclear World War III.

As noted...a lively, but also kinda crazy program today with a lot of callers both fun and "fun". So we expect you may enjoy it!...Or you won't...

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Guest: Redistricting expert, author David Daley; Also: Did you hear Republicans tried to 'unwind' the 2020 Presidential election?...
By Brad Friedman on 4/27/2022 6:43pm PT  

As midterm primary elections begin in earnest next month, today on The BradCast, we catch up with the latest successful attempts by GOP states to undermine their constituents' wishes through new, partisan gerrymanders following the 2020 Census and the Courts which are helping them do so. In the meantime, a Democratic-leaning court in New York today did the opposite, blocking a Dems from gerrymandering in the Empire State. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Before we're joined by our guest to discuss all of that and more today, just a quick kudos to Rebecca Beitsch at The Hill for coming up with a new euphemism --- or, at least, one we haven't seen used yet by the rest of the corporate media --- to report on new evidence documenting the failed Trump/GOP attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election. It's getting more difficult by the day to do so without using the correct word, "steal", when doing so. Sure, anyone can describe the GOP's attempt to "undermine" or "overturn" or "question the results". But that gets stale after a while. So, congrats to Beitsch for reporting on their attempt to "UNWIND the 2020 election", just to freshen things up! <insert eyeroll emoji here>

Then, we're joined today by redistricting expert and author DAVID DALEY, Senior Fellow at FairVote, to get caught up on a whole bunch of recent court rulings (and outrages) from over the past week or three when it comes to the last minute efforts --- largely by Republican-controlled states --- to game the 2022 midterms (and elections for the next ten years), with outrageously partisan gerrymandering of U.S. House maps.

Daley walks us through a number of such cases, including in several states where, over the past decade, large majorities of voters have adopted ballot initiatives to prevent the very gerrymandering that Republicans appear to be getting away with, nonetheless, in their newly redistricted maps.

In Ohio, the GOP-majority Redistricting Commission has had its new maps rejected four different times in recent weeks by the state's Supreme Court, with the help of its Republican Chief Justice. Despite being ordered by the court to follow the state's Constitution --- which now requires districts that generally reflect the partisan balance of the closely divided, if GOP-leaning state --- Republican Commissioners (which include state Gov. Mike DeWine, whose son sits on the state Supreme Court but refuses to recuse) aren't even trying anymore. With primaries scheduled for next month in the Buckeye State, the Commission is "just not meeting" anymore at all, says Daley. "They're trying to run out the clock so the federal court imposes one of the unconstitutional maps that has already been rejected by Ohio's state Supreme Court."

The state's previous gerrymandered map gave the GOP a 12 to 4 advantage in U.S. House districts. The new ones, repeatedly rejected by the state court, would give them a 13 to 2 advantage, despite the roughly 53-45% partisan split in the 2020 Presidential election and a 2015 mandate from more than 70% of voters rewriting the state Constitution to ensure new maps reflect the statewide partisan makeup.

In Florida, where voters also voted for redistricting reform, things are even more obnoxious and anti-democratic. The GOP-controlled legislature produced a map giving Republicans a 16 to 12 advantage, but it was rejected by Governor and Presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis for his own hand-drawn map that is likely to result in 20 Republican House seats and just 8 Democratic ones. State Republicans "already produced a pretty good Republican gerrymander," Daley explains, "and DeSantis said, 'Wait a second, I can do even better than that.'" With the state's high court packed with his own appointees, Daley warns, "that is not a Supreme Court that we should look to for any sort of help when it comes to fair maps."

Back in 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that federal courts may play no role in preventing partisan redistricting, leaving the matter the chaos of each individual state court to decide. But on the matter of racial gerrymandering, SCOTUS is still happy to tell states what they can and can't do, even when the High Court's own rulings disagree with each other.

Daley explains how SCOTUS jumped in, back in February, months before the primaries, to block a new black-majority district ordered in Alabama by a lower federal court under the Voting Rights Act because. The Supremes, on the stolen and packed Court, determined it was just too soon before the primary election to draw up a new map. But late last month, after the Wisconsin Supreme Court approved a new state legislative map drawn by the state's Democratic Governor, SCOTUS ordered the state to rewrite the map, just weeks before the primaries, to remove a new black legislative district created in Milwaukee.

"The US Supreme Court has been eager this cycle to help Republicans and to put their foot on the scale against Democrats," Daley charges, describing their rulings as "Heads I win, tails you lose. They're not even pretending anymore."

And then we get to New York, where it was Democrats' turn to face the music for gerrymandering the state's U.S. House map to add three new likely Democratic U.S. House seats. Today, mid-show, NY's high court blocked the map (appropriately, as Daley sees it), ordering a court-appointed Special Master to draw up new maps in time for this year's primary (which the court also postponed until August to allow time to create the new maps.)

Last week, Daley, a longtime proponent of fair maps in all fifty states, wrote at CNN about what he saw as the "indefensible" map drawn up by NY Dems, describing it as "among the most obscene partisan gerrymanders nationwide." NY courts clearly agreed, but even Daley's own opinion article seemed to make the case for what Democrats tried --- but failed --- to do.

"If blue state courts roll back Democratic gerrymanders, but red state judges rule as partisan ideologues, a pro-GOP bias will be baked into the national map for another decade," he wrote. "A maximally gerrymandered national congressional map is...bad in nearly every way except, perhaps, compared with the previous decade's map, rigged so Republicans held control in 2012 even when they won 1.4 million fewer votes."

As regular listeners and readers know, over the past year I've (regrettably) changed my position on partisan gerrymandering, given the gaming of the system by Republicans which has succeeded in endangering America's small-'d' democratic project entirely. Short of federal legislation to ban partisan redistricting everywhere (an effort by Dems that was blocked by all Senate Republicans last year), I've been calling on states controlled by Democrats to gerrymander wherever possible. I hate that position. It's bad for many voters in the states but, ultimately, important for something resembling democracy on the national level at a time when democracy is facing a serious challenge from the forces of authoritarianism.

But Daley disagrees with. At least in as much as he has argued that such an effort could never be successful. "A national map that has been rigged for one side to win is extraordinarily dangerous, especially when one party has completely broken faith with democracy," he tells me as we debate this point again today. "Gerrymandering the hell out of Illinois and New York doesn't save democracy. It doesn't give Democrats that much of a leg up on fixing this. It is a band-aid, when what you need is a tourniquet. It's not sufficient. By all means, go ahead and put a band-aid on, but don't think it's going to stop the bleeding."

"I'm calling for a national standard that fixes the problem in New York as well as in Texas," he argues (as do I). "Because there are not enough New Yorks to balance out the Texases and Floridas. Democrats can gerrymander the hell out of these states if they want, but it's not going to help them. What they need to do is fix the overall structural problem, or it's only going to get worse."

Prepare for it to get worse...

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Guest: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern of Slate; Also: Major new study confirms Ivermectin ineffective as COVID treatment...
By Brad Friedman on 3/30/2022 7:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast, one of our favorite guests is back to explain why the wildly corrupt Thomases, as horrible as they are, may be one of the least of our concerns when it comes to what the rest of the GOP's wildly corrupt --- not to mention stolen and packed --- U.S. Supreme Court may now be moving toward.[Audio link to full, must-listen show is posted below.]

First up, however, a major new, peer-reviewed, double-blind study released in full today, finds what many have been trying to make clear for quite some time: There is no legitimate evidence that the anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin, most commonly used to de-worm horses, has any positive effect as a treatment for COVID.

In fact, as one part of the huge new Brazilian study found, placebo pills were actually more effective than Ivermectin! Dr. Andrew Hill, a virologist at the University of Liverpool in England, whose early analysis (since retracted) of several smaller studies (at least one of which appears to have been fraudulent) was frequently cited for evidence of the drug's effectiveness, appears now to concur that the new Brazilian study pretty much removes all doubt. Ivermectin is of no use in treating COVID. We now have a pretty large body of evidence demonstrating that is true no matter what clownish TV doctors and profiteers and misinformation specialists on Fox "News" or Joe Rogan's podcast have to say about it.

That said, there are safe and effective (and free) ways to avoid the worst effects of COVID, which peer-reviewed studies have confirmed. They include the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. Actual professional virologists, epidemiologists and both the CDC and FDA strongly recommend them, as do we. Earlier this week the FDA authorized a second booster shot for anyone over 50 who hasn't received a shot in the past four months. Please get one and let's end this goddamn pandemic once and for all. Thanks.

On to our main topic(s) today, as we're joined by the always great, always illuminating, and pretty much always-right-about-everything MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist from Slate.com who smartly covers the law, the court system, the U.S. Supreme Court, election law, LGBTQ issues and much more.

We've got just a few things to discuss with Stern today, including the ridiculous Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings last week for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Joe Biden's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, where she would be its first black female Justice. On Wednesday, it was actually news for some reason that one Senate Republican has announced she will vote for Jackson's confirmation. But, beyond the childish stupidity of Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee last week falsely suggesting that Jackson is somehow in favor of child porn and terrorists, there was something else far more disturbing that emerged from the GOP questioning of Biden's highly qualified nominee.

In short: Republicans aren't just targeting Roe v. Wade's well-established right to an abortion (which the Supreme Court is very likely to overturn within the next few months), but they actually appear to be gunning to reverse a whole bunch of landmark, privacy-related rights, including Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark 2015 ruling establishing a Constitutional right to same sex marriage equality. But that's not all. Also now in their sites for reversal are Griswold v. Connecticut (1965, establishing the right for married couples to buy and use contraceptives) and, yes, even Loving v. Virginia (1967's landmark civil rights decision establishing the right to interracial marriage)!

Think these concerns are exaggerated? That Republicans aren't actually gunning for those federal rights as well? Tune in and find out if you're wrong.

Also, as we discuss, Stern now believes it is unlikely that Republicans will ever vote to confirm another Supreme Court Justice nominated by a Democratic President if they regain majority control of the Senate. He further believes they will stop confirming the President's nominees for any judgeship on the federal bench.

"It is very clear now that Republicans begin from the position that Democratic Presidents have no authority and no right to appoint Supreme Court Justices, or to appoint lower court judges. This is following a longstanding pattern in the Senate of Republicans almost uniformly --- or all uniformly --- voting against nominees to the lower court, including many who are super-qualified and uncontroversial," Stern observes. "We have swung back and forth between close confirmation votes and big overwhelming lopsided confirmation votes, but I fear that this is how it will be forevermore."

While those issues would be more than enough to fill an entire interview, it's not even half of what we cover with Stern today, including his thoughts on the wildly corrupt longtime rightwing activist Ginni Thomas and her husband, the wildly corrupt longtime rightwing activist Justice Clarence Thomas. The conversation follows on last week's explosive revelations that Ginni was relentlessly texting Donald Trump's Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in November of 2020, urging him to fight to reverse the results of Joe Biden's election victory, in hopes of overturning American democracy itself.

Given that Clarence was the only vote on the High Court in favor of blocking subpoenaed documents from the Trump White House, which might have included emails and text from Ginni, from being turned over by the National Archives to the U.S. House January 6 Committee, Stern believes this matter is now like nothing we have ever seen at SCOTUS.

"This may feel like the latest in a long line of atrocious conflicts of interest and injustices that Clarence and Ginni Thomas have inflicted on the country, but it is materially different, because we have never before seen a case where Clarence Thomas' vote so directly implicates his wife's work," Stern argues. After I note another such case --- where Ginni received hundreds of thousands of dollars in dark money for her so-called non-partisan non-profits following Clarence's vote in the 2010 Citizens United case (after that very same group, Citizens United, had quietly spent hundreds of thousands to help push through Clarence's controversial confirmation in 1991!), Stern notes that it "looks to the world, quite reasonably, like a husband trying to shield his wife from legal scrutiny. I think that is a huge leap forward in this story. This is different in kind, not just degree." He adds: "I think it's helpful to draw this distinction between votes that benefit a spouse and votes that shield them from a criminal probe."

So what should be done about the Thomases? Tune in for Stern's thoughts (and mine!) for a very lively conversation on that.

But wait, there's more! You may have heard about last week's outrageous "shadow docket" decision by the Court that put on hold a ruling by Wisconsin's Supreme Court, including the opinion written by one of its leading conservative justices, finding that Democratic Governor Tony Evers' new map for state legislative seats in the Badger State should be used in this year's redistricting, following the 2020 Census. The GOP's corrupt SCOTUS, however, feels otherwise, even though Evers' map was closer to the state's previous (and wildly gerrymandered) one than the map pushed by the state's far-right gerrymandered state legislature. To make the matter even more absurd, the High Court completely ignored its own entirely made up and opportunistically used "Purcell Principle", which is supposedly meant to prevent last minutes changes to laws that might throw elections into chaos. In this case, since Wisconsin's Supreme Court and Democratic Governor both agreed that a new black majority district was needed in Milwaukee, the rightwingers on SCOTUS decided they'd never heard of Purcell or, apparently, the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

If you're flummoxed about all of this based on the above explanation, you're not alone. Tune in, as Stern tries, as usual, to help us make sense of the senselessness now coming out of a U.S. Supreme Court that is on the verge of losing whatever shred of legitimacy it may have had left at this point...

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Guest: Amy Slipowitz of Freedom House; Also: Keeping up with the wildly corrupt Clarence and Ginni Thomas; Some good news for EVs in the U.S....
By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2022 7:08pm PT  

I don't think "freedom" means what many on the Right in this country seem to think it means. Our guest on The BradCast today, an expert in such things, seems to agree. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

First up, Lord Manchin has spoken! We'll soon learn if Lady Sinema agrees. But, for now at least, West Virginia's Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is not taking the bait from Republicans this time around. He says he will be be voting in favor of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Joe Biden's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, after a week in which she was flogged by all sorts of stuff and nonsense from an increasingly ridiculous, pathetic and extreme Republican caucus in the U.S. Senate. We don't yet know if the other obstructionist Democratic Senator, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, agrees, but if so --- and presuming all 50 Democratic Senators stay healthy between now and the time they hold a vote to confirm Judge Jackson --- we should have our first black female Supreme Court Justice on the High Court very soon.

But, speaking of both corruption and the Supreme Court, its longest-serving and arguably most corrupt Justice (though there's much competition here), Clarence Thomas has reportedly been discharged from the hospital after a week of treatment for a still unspecified "infection". After waiting two days to report that he'd been admitted in the first place last Friday, the Court said on Sunday that the 73-year old Thomas would be out of the hospital after receiving intravenous antibiotics for his "flu-like symptoms" by Tuesday. But after Wednesday and Thursday happened without any updates on his condition or whereabouts, we are told he was finally released on Friday, though no more information was provided on either his condition or his ailment.

That news comes a day after his similarly corrupt, far-right activist wife Ginni Thomas made headlines again on Thursday, when news of a series of insane text messages she sent to then White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was made public on Thursday afternoon. The messages Ginni sent to Meadows in November of 2020 included loony conspiracy theories claiming the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump and instructed Meadows to fight to overturn the results finding that Joe Biden had won.

And all of that was going on even as Ginni's husband Clarence was voting (thankfully) in the minority on the Court in favor of Trump's various dumb challenges to the results of the election he lost, and for attempts to block things like lawful Congressional subpoenas, which would include Ginni's messages to Meadows, from being shared with the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6th 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Of course, Clarence, who has been trying to hide both his and his wife's corruption for decades now, never recused himself from any of those cases, despite the outrageous conflicts of interest caused by his far-right activist wife. Luckily for them both, they are Republicans. So his corruption on the bench will likely be allowed to continue.

But, It is that sort of corruption and much more from the unapologetic Rightwing in this country --- as opposed to a lack of "freedom" to go maskless during the worst pandemic in a century --- that has helped precipitate the United States' fall in the annual Freedom House ranking on the condition of political rights and civil liberties in nations across the globe.

The non-partisan group's 2022 report is titled "The Global Expansion of Authoritarian Rule." It follows on last year's, titled "Democracy Under Siege," which we discussed at the time of its release on this show with one of its co-authors. In both, the U.S. no longer even cracks the top 50 most "Free" countries anymore, based on the 25 indicators measured by the group of international experts who work with Freedom House, which, founded in 1941, describes itself as "the oldest American organization devoted to the support and defense of democracy around the world."

After 16 consecutive years now of what Freedom House warns to be a "decline in global freedom," in which democracies are becoming less democratic and authoritarianism continues to rise across the globe, the U.S. now ranks at about 63rd on the list. It's tied with nations like South Korea, Romania and Panama, and and comes in just behind nations like Argentina, Mongolia, Croatia and Latvia on their Freedom House's index. We are now far behind Slovenia and the Czech Republic and, according to this year's report, have nowhere near the Freedoms available in nations such as Taiwan, Estonia or Chile, much less Australia, Switzerland, Japan, Uruguay, the Netherlands, Canada and New Zealand. For the record, the nations tied for the most "Free" in the world: Norway, Finland and Sweden.

Our guest today is AMY SLIPOWITZ, Freedom House Research Manager and co-author of their flagship annual report. Our conversation includes the methodologies used in compiling the group's findings and how they define what "freedom" actually is. "It's pretty simple," she explains. "To us, freedom means democracy, a governing system based on the will and consent of the governed. It has institutions that are accountable to all citizens. These include things like an independent judiciary, free media, and strong civil society. And ultimately, a democracy is the best system for ensuring that everyone's human rights are respected, no matter who they voted for."

What are the key differences between this year's reports and last year's? "The main driver that we found for the decline in 2021 was that autocrats are increasingly cooperating and supporting each other in their attacks on democratic norms and institutions," Slipowitz asserts. "And with this, authoritarians have made really enormous gains in the international system. So they've been able to use that influence to promote autocracy as a viable alternative to democracy. The cooperation isn't based on any unifying ideology, or even friendship or affinity among authoritarians, but on a single shared interest, which is to stay in power by any means necessary."

"A key part of this is trying to transform the international system, where the rules-based international order no longer applies," she adds. "So that's where you see authoritarian regimes causing conflict and other really egregious abuses. We've seen this manifest with things like more military coups, more elections with pre-determined outcomes, power grabs. To give just a couple of examples, military coups happened in five countries this year. This was more common in 2021 than in any year of the past decade."

Among the related issues discussed with Slipowitz: What are the greatest factors in the slow decline of freedom and democracy across the globe over the past 15 years and the sudden plunge in freedom seen in 2020? Why is the U.S. now ranked so low on the Freedom House index, near the bottom of its index of "Free" nations? How much of a factor was the January 6th insurrection last year and new restrictions on voting in the U.S. in their determination? Does the rest of the world still consider the U.S. to be a "beacon of freedom" worth following and emulating? How do mask and vaccine mandates amid the COVID pandemic, dramatically cited by many on the Right as the death of personal freedom, play into this year's ratings? How about the banning of books and the teaching of subjects such as systemic racism and sexuality? And, have we seen a similar years-long decline in global democracy and rise of authoritarianism at any other time in recent history?

"It's much easier to dismantle democratic systems than it is to build them back up," Slipowitz warns. "For the U.S. to recover from this 11-point decline over ten years, it's really important that the more structural issues be strengthened and fixed." All of that and much more during our enlightening --- and occasionally chilling --- conversation.

Finally today, some quick coverage of several good(ish) news stories we had hoped to cover yesterday, but had to dump at the last minute, thanks to the breaking news of the wildly corrupt Thomas clan. Among those stories: the rise in gas prices due to Big Oil profiteering and Russia's war in Ukraine is leading to a huge increase among American car buyers interest in battery-powered electric vehicles and hybrids; Emerging evidence that the Biden Administration may considering use of the Defense Production Act to build electric heat pumps here in the U.S. to help replace some 75 million oil and gas furnaces in Europe, currently dependent on Russian gas (as we discussed recently with climate journalist and activist Bill McKibben); And a doubling of the number of battery-powered electric delivery trucks being ordered by the U.S. Postal Service and its corrupt Postmaster, Louis DeJoy. (That still only amounts to a bare one-fifth of the new trucks being ordered at the moment to replace the aging, gas-guzzling USPS fleet...but we're still working on it!)

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Guest: Ron Fein of Free Speech for People; Also: Russian atrocities; SCOTUS threatens fair elections; 'Help Fight Fascism! Work from Home!'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/9/2022 7:01pm PT  

The news out of Ukraine continues to be grim, but there are a few bright spots here at home on today's BradCast, a way that you can help fight fascism without leaving home, and a renewed challenge to an alleged insurrectionist Congressman's eligibility to run for re-election. [Audio link to full show is posted at the end of this summary.]

FIRST UP, Vladimir Putin is now unleashing outright atrocities and unspeakable war crimes against the civilian population of Ukraine. On Wednesday, for example, Russian troops bombed a maternity hospital in Mariupol as nearly half a million residents in the southern Ukrainian city have been cut off from food, water, medicine and power for days. It could all still get much worse. In several ways. One of them is that the crippled Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine, now in the control of the Russians, has now been cut off from the power grid. Diesel generators are hoped capable of keeping the cooling system for the plant's 20,000 spent fuel rods from melting down entirely...as long as generators can be refueled and kept running.

Yesterday, we discussed a bit how working at home --- as many of us did during the pandemic lockdowns --- can help the war effort against Russia in several ways, if only by tamping down surging oil prices. A new poll from Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal finds a huge majority of Americans, 79%, favor cutting off Russian oil imports, even if it further increases the cost of gas at the pump.

Today, we double down on our call: HELP FIGHT FASCISM! WORK FROM HOME! (For now. If you can. It really could make a difference in several ways!) One of our listeners has some additional thoughts, via email, which we share today along similar lines.

NEXT UP, some good news for Democrats --- and those who support representative democracy --- from the U.S. Supreme Court this week. But that good news on U.S. House redistricting in two critical swing states also served to overshadow some potentially ominous news from the GOP's stolen and packed Court. The good news was that the Justices turned away two Republican challenges to new U.S. House maps selected by two state Supreme Courts in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Each is likely to benefit Democrats this November. The disturbing, largely overshadowed news, is that the four rightwing Justices who would have preferred to have heard the challenges to the new House maps, made clear in their dissents that they are likely supportive of the bonkers "Independent State Legislature Theory".

In short, that's an old Constitutional argument that's been around for years, but has never received the support of a majority of Justices. It holds that two clauses in the U.S. Constitution delegating the "time, place and manner" of elections to state legislatures means that only state legislatures can set any election law, procedures or district map. That means that any other state officials --- Secretaries of State, state Boards of Elections, Governors through their veto pens, or even state courts --- have absolutely no authority to challenge or change any election-related provision adopted by a state legislature. Under this theory, even state Constitutional amendments adopted by a vote of the people would be deemed unconstitutional!

As noted, it's a bonkers theory. But it's one that now apparently has at least four votes in support on the Republican Party's far-right stolen majority. The dissenting Justices in the redistricting cases made quite clear: this issue will return to the Court soon, and it needs the support of just one more Justice. You have now been warned.

FINALLY, for the past two weeks or so, largely since Russia invaded Ukraine, we've been trying unsuccessfully to get back to a story we were covering closely prior to the war, as its both an important one, and there have been a number of twists and turns in it since over the past several weeks.

As we discussed early last month with John Bonifaz, Constitutional law expert and Free Speech for People (FSFP)'s co-founder and President, voters in North Carolina filed a challenge with the State Board of Elections to first-term MAGA Congressman Madison Cawthorn's eligibility to run for re-election. The challenge is based on their claim that Cawthorn violated Sec. 3 of the 14th Amendment which bars anyone from running for federal office who has taken an oath to defend the Constitution, but subsequently "engaged in insurrection or rebellion" against it. The Civil War-era amendment was initially meant to prevent Confederates from running for federal office. Now it is being used to challenge Cawthorn's eligibility to run and, if successful, others as well, including Donald Trump himself if he becomes a candidate in 2024.

Cawthorn spoke at Trump's rally on January 6th, 2021, just days after being sworn in. He is also said to have been among some of the elected officials who may have helped organize the deadly assault on the Capitol that day, meant to prevent the ratification of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory.

There have been a number of twists and turns in this story in recent weeks. Rather than defend himself before the State Board, Cawthorn filed a federal lawsuit to block the challenge entirely, absurdly claiming the Board had no right to determine anyone's eligibility to run for office. Both the State Board and the state's Attorney General filed motions rejecting that argument.

As the case worked it's way through federal district court, the State Board of Elections paused the challenge, as the state's U.S. House map was being contested in state court as well. Once the state Supreme Court selected the maps to be used in the 2022 mid-terms, Cawthorn's district had changed. The voters who initially filed the challenge to his eligibility, with the help of the non-partisan, government accountability group, FSFP, were no longer residents of Cawthorn's new district. But FSFP found new voters in Cawthorn's new district to refile the challenge.

And then, last Friday, in a gobsmacking ruling from the bench, the Trump-appointed federal judge overseeing Cawthorn's lawsuit to block the state challenge ruled in his favor. Judge Richard E. Meyers II declared that a law adopted by Congress in the years after the Civil War, the Amnesty Act of 1872, somehow forgave not only Confederate soldiers, but also any insurrectionists against the United States at any time in the future. The judge's ruling essentially holds that an act of Congress 150 years ago --- without ratification by any states --- nullifies an actual Constitutional Amendment for all time.

Yes, as FSFP's Legal Director RON FEIN, who joins us today explains, the ruling is largely as absurd as it sounds. Fein explains why, and what FSFP plans to do about it, including their emergency appeal to Judge Meyers ruling, filed in federal court today...

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Third round of Russia-Ukraine talks end; We open the phones to listeners to discuss possibilities for a peaceful solution and end to the aggression...
By Brad Friedman on 3/7/2022 6:03pm PT  

The war porn continues on too much of the corporate media. Too many pundits. Too many self-declared experts without actual expertise or who have ideological axes to grind. Too much politics, not enough talk about how to get to peace. Once again on today's BradCast, we're trying our best to get there. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

On last Friday's show, we spoke with longtime Russia-Ukraine expert and author Anatol Lieven of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft about his proposed roadmap, of sorts --- and the tough choices for all sides that comes with it --- for peace in Ukraine.

In short (and please read Lieven for a more complete description) it entails....

  • Ukraine declaring neutrality (not unlike Austria or Finland after WWII), and that they they will not join NATO or any other military bloc (including Russia's!), while "demilitarizing" offensively, but retaining defensive-only military capability.
  • Recognizing Crimea as part of the Russian Federation and allow some form of independence for the Russia-backed separatist regions in the Donbas in the eastern part of the nation. All three territories would then hold internationally observed referenda on who they would like to align with. (This would also likely include revisiting the Minsk II agreement that was brokered in 2015, leading to a a cease-fire in the Donbas region, even as Ukraine has been disinclined to move ahead with the negotiated terms of that agreement, thanks, in part, to opposition from ultra-nationalist factions in its country.)

Lieven's roadmap shares the broad contours --- if not every detail and critical nuance --- with the conditions for cease-fire the Kremlin reportedly putting forward before today's peace talks with Ukraine. That's good news. Or, at least we are choosing to see as such today.

The two parties had their third round of such talks on Monday, with hopes of first reaching an agreement on a temporary cease-fire to allow for humanitarian corridors so citizens can leave besieged cities and allow food and medicine to be brought in. Similiar hopes for cease-fires over the weekend were dashed after just a few hours. Both sides blame the other.

But, even as they struggle to create humanitarian corridors, Ukraine has reportedly agreed to Russia's condition of dropping hopes of joining NATO. But Russia, reportedly, is insisting that all conditions for a treaty be met before they end their lawless aggression. This could take a while --- even as both parties have good reason at this time to find their way to peace as quickly as possible.

We open the phones today to listeners to discuss peace, and whether Ukraine should take such a deal; whether Putin can be trusted to keep it (or whether his interests in reconstituting the Soviet Union or an even more expansive Greater Russian empire would see him continue his march of military aggression); and whether accepting such terms would be the equivalent of rewarding Putin's bad behavior (and war crimes.)

When Lieven opened his article last week on a potential path to peace in Ukraine, he used a quote from Robert Lovett, U.S. Defense Secretary for several years in the early 50s, declaring: "Forget the cheese --- let's get out of the trap." That argument has been cycling through my brain ever since. Today, we get to find out how listeners feel about it when we open the phones for an important conversation: one that was more about peace, for a happy change, than about war...

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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...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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