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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, June 16, 2024
Sunday 'Show' Toons
THIS WEEK: Two-Tiered Justice ... False Flags ... The Retribution Machine ... and much more in our latest collection of the week's best political toons!...
The Corrupt Anti-Abortion TX-to-SCOTUS Legal Mill Pipeline: 'BradCast' 6/13/24
Guest: Salon's Amanda Marcotte; Also: Dems outperform in OH Special Election; Brad gets COVID again goddammit...
'Green News Report' 6/13/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Heat wave coming to much of U.S., cooling systems can't keep up; Record rain from Sarasota to Spain to China; NY passes law to charge Big Oil for climate damage...
Previous GNRs: 6/11/24 - 6/6/24 - Archives...
Life With COVID
What goes around comes around. Again...
Hunter Biden's Conviction; Donald Trump's Weaponized Ignorance: 'BradCast' 6/11/24
Also: Biden rising; Fall of Alex Jones' corrupt empire; Phony '2000 Mules' doc pulled; More GOP voter fraud...
'Green News Report' 6/11/24
Big win for far-right in EU, climate action in crosshairs; NY Guv halts NYC congestion pricing; PLUS: Biden mileage rules save consumers money, combat climate change...
After Trump Verdict, GOPers Suddenly Warm to Voting for Felons: 'BradCast' 6/10/24
Listeners call in with explanations; Also: U.N. Security Council approves Biden's Israel/Hamas ceasefire plan; Europe moves toward far-right in EU elections...
Sunday 'Antifa' Toons
THIS WEEK: 80 Years Later ... Fascism Returns ... How Laws Work ... Summer Forecast ... And much more to be proud terrified of in our latest weekly collection...
'Green News Report' 6/6/24
Hottest 12 months ever; US Heat deaths hit new record in 2023; World's largest solar farm now online -- in China; PLUS: U.N. Sec.-Gen's warning to the world...
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...


Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, attorney Keith Barber of Daily Kos; Also: MD, NE, WV primary results; Biden, Trump agree to early debates...
By Brad Friedman on 5/15/2024 6:38pm PT  

It has been the most important week in the New York criminal trial of Donald J. Trump, as the last witness for the prosecution, Trump's former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen took the stand. The court is off today, so we have time on today's BradCast to catch our breath for yet another Trump Trial "ketchup" show for you. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

BUT FIRST, we've got a few noteworthy results from Tuesday's primary elections in Nebraska, Maryland and West Virginia, where, once again --- other than in WV --- Joe Biden outperformed Donald Trump among their respective party voters. Yes, the zombie campaign of Nikki Haley keeps on going. The former South Carolina Governor, who dropped out of the race months ago at this point, won 20% of the GOP vote in MD, while she and one other GOP candidate (that few have heard of) won about the same percentage among Republicans in Nebraska. In both states, Biden outpaced Trump among his own party's primary voters. FWIW.

On Wednesday, Biden threw down the gauntlet to challenge Trump to two early debates hosted by media outlets --- in a studio, without an audience --- rather than by the non-partisan Committee on Presidential Debates. The Biden-Harris Campaign explained their several reasons for pre-empting the CPD in a letter. They are mostly good ones. Among them, the fact that the group has failed to update its schedule for debates to hold them before tens of millions of Americans have already cast their ballots this year via early and absentee voting.

Trump quickly accepted the challenge, and within hours the pair had agreed to allow CNN host the first debate in Atlanta on June 27, and ABC to host the second on September 10.

THEN, it's on to today's coverage of noteworthy news from the 5th week of the first-ever criminal trial of a former American President. We're joined again today for insight and commentary by HEATHER DIGBY PARTON, award-winning Salon columnist and Hullaballoo blogger, and former attorney and former Republican KEITH BARBER, who now blogs on legal matters as "KeithDB" at the progressive Daily Kos.

Among our many topics of discussion today...

  • Parton discusses the embarrassing parade of elected Republican deplorables now showing up at the courthouse in Manhattan --- mostly in red ties and navy suits --- to display their love for the boss, audition to become his Vice Presidential nominee, and/or say the things that the Court has barred Trump from saying via a gag order. Among the "toadies [who] came a-croaking," as Barber quips: Senators JD Vance (OH) and Tommy Tuberville (AL), Rep. Byron Donalds (FL), Gov. Doug Burgham (ND), Vivek Ramaswamy, and, perhaps most shamefully from the former "Rule of Law" party, House Speaker Mike Johnson (LA). "These people are playing to Donald Trump," explains Parton, along with the warning that many of them are "the Michael Cohens the future."
  • This week's critical testimony of Michael Cohen --- who Parton describes as a "diminished, humiliated man sitting on the witness stand having to admit, over and over again, that he was a liar, a fool, a dupe, he got sent to jail, all in service to Donald Trump" --- and the "smoking gun" bank statement featuring proof of Cohen's $130,000 hush-money payment to porn storm Stormy Daniels. That document, we have now learned, also features Cohen's own hand-writing and that of former (now jailed for perjury) Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg. Their marginalia details how the falsified reimbursements to Cohen, fraudulently described in the Trump Org's books as "legal retainer" fees, would be made in $35,000 monthly payments by Trump during his first year in the White House. But, as importantly, Cohen testified that Trump personally approved the fraudulent reimbursement scheme during a meeting at Trump Tower with both Cohen and Weisselberg present after Trump's hush-money scheme helped him to win the 2016 election.
  • Barber describes what he saw as a surprisingly limp start to cross-examination of Cohen by Trump's lead attorney, Todd Blanche, on Tuesday and how, frankly, Team Trump doesn't seem to have much to work with after the Prosecution spent much of their direct examination "inoculating the jury" to Cohen's many years of lying on behalf of Trump before he came clean and pleaded guilty to many of the crimes Trump is now being held to account for. Trump's attorneys have presented no alternative theory in the case, says Barber. Which also means they are unlikely to offer much, if any, defense case at all after the Prosecution rests. On Tuesday, they informed the judge that Cohen will be their final witness. Team Trump, meanwhile, is still pretending that Trump might actually testify. (He won't.)

Cohen's cross-examination of continues and likely completes on Thursday, and then the court will be off on Friday to allow Trump to go to his son Baron's high-school graduation (if the disgraced former President actually bothers to show up for it.) But it's been a fascinating and critical week of testimony so far, including Cohen's explanation of how he spent years "knee-deep in the cult of Donald Trump".

"Cult of Donald Trump"? What "cult of Donald Trump"?...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, attorney Keith Barber of Daily Kos; Also: 'Warning signs' from IN primary results; Blankenship's run in WV...
By Brad Friedman on 5/8/2024 5:23pm PT  

Once again, on today's BradCast, we've got a mid-week "ketchup" for you, with everything you need to know about the disgraced former President's still-ongoing, first criminal trial. And it's been a very big week in that regard. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, first up today, interesting results out of Indiana on Tuesday, where the "zombie campaign" of Nikki Haley, who quit the race two months ago, still racked up nearly 22% of the vote in the Republican Presidential Primary against Donald Trump. (Joe Biden ran uncontested on the Democratic side.)

Next week's primaries will be in Nebraska, Maryland and West Virginia, where former coal baron and federally convicted criminal Don Blankenship --- a hard-right loon --- has decided to run in the Democratic primary to fill the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by rightwing Democrat Joe Manchin. Blankenship lost as the Republican nominee against Manchin in 2018. This year, as a "Democrat", he'll be running next week in WV against staunch pro-union candidate Glenn Elliot and Marine Corp vet and grassroots organizer Zach Shrewsbury. The winner will likely be taking on current Governor and coal baron billionaire Jim Justice who ran for Governor as a Democrat in 2016 before flipping to Republican in 2017 just after he was elected.

Then, it's on to today's coverage of the past week's criminal Trump Trial in New York, where the former (and future?) President faces 34 felony charges related to hush-money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels to help him win the 2016 Presidential election. Daniels was called by the Prosecution for testimony on Tuesday and, as you likely know by now, it was a bit of a blockbuster.

We're joined today by our old friends HEATHER DIGBY PARTON, award-winning columnist at Salon and longtime blogger at Hullaballoo, and former attorney and former Republican KEITH BARBER, who now blogs on legal and Constitutional matters as "KeithDB" at the progressive Daily Kos website.

Among the topics of today's conversation...

  • Daniels' disturbing testimony about her disturbing, apparently "quasi-non-consensual" (as Barber describes it) sexual encounter with Trump during a celebrity golf event in Lake Tahoe and why specific details of that counter either are or are not important to the Prosecution's case. (Barber: "If Trump invites you to a dinner date, don't expect dinner.")
  • Why Trump's attorneys sought a mistrial on Tuesday, but were rejected by the trial judge.
  • How Team Trump's various over-ruled objections are likely working against them.
  • How the Defense is doing in its attempt, so far, to cross-examine Daniels. (Barber: Trump's team was "too ham-fisted" and "outsmarted by the adult industry star.") The cross continues on Thursday.
  • Why last week's testimony by former, longtime Trump aid Hope Hicks was so important to the State's case, and why she broke down in tears as the cross-examination began. (Parton: "A devastating blow to his defense.")
  • Why Monday's testimony from the Trump Organization's former Controller and its current chief of Accounts Payable was so important to the Prosecution's case.
  • How all of this is being reported (or not) by mainstream media and rightwing media (Parton: "Fox is not covering it. Neither is Newsmax or OAN.") and heard by voters in both cases.
  • Whether the lack, so far, of testimony describing Trump himself as ordering the falsification of business records is going to be a problem for the Prosecution, and whether upcoming testimony by Michael Cohen can fix that.
  • Whether Trump will be held in criminal contempt by the judge for the eleventh time and if he'll actually be given jail time for his next violation of the court's gag-order. (Parton: "Trump doesn't want to go to jail. They don't have hair and makeup people in there." Barber: "He doesn't want to go to jail, no matter how much he'll tell his stupid MAGA followers that he does.")

All of that and much more on today's lively Trump Trial Ketchup show!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Latest in Israel's war on Gaza; Latest in Trump's NY criminal trial...
By Brad Friedman on 5/6/2024 6:52pm PT  

We've got a lot of news from around the globe and right here at home on today's BradCast. Some of it is even not terrible! But, yeah, much of it is. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among our stories today...

  • It will be eight years next month since the 2016 BREXIT referendum in Great Britain offered a foreboding omen in advance of that year's Presidential election here in the U.S. We'll hope this past weekend's election results for mayoral races in London and elsewhere in Britain --- where the Conservative Party suffered crushing defeats against the Labour Party --- offer a much brighter omen for the UK's national elections later this year and the 2024 Presidential election here in the U.S. in November.
  • On the other hand, hopefully it is not Panama's weekend elections offering us an omen instead. A last-minute replacement for the country's former, popular, charismatic but criminal President --- who is barred from the ballot as he seeks sanctuary in the Nicaraguan Embassy after being sentenced to 10 years in prison for money laundering --- defeated three other rivals to win the Presidency on Sunday.
  • In other foreign affairs, we've got a lot of news out of Israel today. Over the weekend, the government of rightwing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shut down the local operations of Qatar-based news agency Al-Jazeera in a crackdown being decried by world journalism organizations as an attack on press freedoms. Hamas announced on Monday that it had accepted a cease-fire proposal forwarded via the Egyptian-Qatari based negotiations with Israel, but Israel --- which says it is studying the proposal --- appeared to be rejecting it as they began striking targets in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. That, as the Biden Administration has been warning Israel of threatened changes in U.S. support if a ground invasion in southern Gaza does not include measures to insure the safety of hundreds of thousands of civilian refugees. And all of that follows on what Axios reported last week as a hold placed by the Administration on a shipment of U.S.-made ammo earmarked for Israel, which may now be caught up in President Biden's push for more guarantees about its use by Israel.
  • But I thought the disgraced former President told us that the U.S. Justice Department has been weaponized by Democrats to go after Republicans?! If so, they've got a funny way of showing it. Last year, the DoJ indicted New Jersey's sitting Democratic Senator Bob Menendez (and his wife) on bribery and corruption charges. On Friday, the DoJ indicted Texas' Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar (and his wife) on bribery and corruption charges. Its almost as if Trump was lying about the justice system being "weaponized" by Democrats to go after him and Republicans.
  • Speaking of our corrupt, lying, former President. Donald Trump was slapped with another fine on Monday for violating the court's gag-order against attacking jurors and witnesses. That brings the total number of contempt violations during his 2016 election interference case to 10. New York Superior Court Justice Juan Merchan once again warned that a jail sentence may be imposed after any more violations. As to the actual trial on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records to hide a hush-money payment made to a porn star to help him win in 2016, the Trump Organization's former Controller and its Accounts Payable Supervisor testified for the Prosecution on Monday about how Trump, while serving in the White House, signed checks from his personal account, fraudulently logged as legal expenses, to reimburse his former attorney Michael Cohen for the hush-money payment to Stormy Daniels.
  • Record flooding from climate change-fueled downpours in a wealthy section of Brazil is being described as among the worst disasters in its history, leading to chaos, the shutdown of highways and airports, hospitals without power, widespread looting, helicopter rooftop rescues, 20,000 left homeless and, so far, at least 83 deaths. "This was the third record flood in the same region of the country in less than a year," lamented Brazil's President, decrying his nation's lack of preparedness for the worst effects of climate change and for the "historic debt" that wealthy nations who caused this problem through the unfettered emission of climate warming greenhouse gasses owe to poorer countries who emitted little of it, but are now suffering the worst of the global consequences nonetheless.
  • Brazil's weekend disaster reportedly evoked scenes from post-Katrina New Orleans and post-Harvey Houston here in the U.S. But, over the same weekend, new scenes from Houston itself evoked the same thing, following days of downpours that pummeled the region and left residents stranded on rooftops requiring hundreds of rescues. Again. Some 23 inches of rain fell in Harris County over the past week, as floodwaters are finally beginning to recede in the nation's third-largest county today. Flood insurance has become all but unaffordable for many residents after years of ever-worsening storms as our global climate crisis continues to tighten its deadly grip. A disaster declaration was issued by the state's Governor in 91 counties impacted by the latest round of extreme weather in Texas.
  • Finally, with increased heat and moisture in the air, traditionally mosquito-free Los Angeles County is mosquito-free no more. County officials are now unleashing tens of thousands of irradiated male mosquitos (which don't bite), as part of a pilot program to target the female population (which do) for a particularly aggressive strain of bugs that have grown more aggressive in recent years, and are now said to be a vector for a number of deadly diseases. All thanks to climate change. Happy Spring!

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, Keith Barber of Daily Kos; Also: PA primary results; Biden signs Ukraine aid bill; SCOTUS revisits abortion rights; AZ House Dems repeal 1864 near-total abortion ban...
By Brad Friedman on 4/24/2024 6:48pm PT  

The court takes Wednesdays off in Donald Trump's New York criminal trial on 34 felony counts related to his use of hush-money paid to a porn star to help him cheat his way to winning the 2016 Presidential election. So, today is a good opportunity for us here on The BradCast to get caught up on our trial story so far with two guests who are following it closely. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, FIRST UP, it was Primary day in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, and though the nominations for both major party's Presidential candidates are long ago all but official, the turnout and results from the Keystone State's closed primaries on both sides are somewhat revealing. Tune in for details, but suffice to say, Joe Biden appears to have outperformed Trump in the narrowly divided battleground state yesterday, where Dem turnout outpaced Republicans and Nikki Haley, who quit the race weeks ago, racked up nearly 17% of the GOP Presidential vote. There were several U.S. House races of note and uncontested primaries for this year's critical U.S. Senate race in PA, where incumbent Democrat Bob Casey is taking on billionaire hedge-fund manager Dave McCormick (who has been less than forthright about his upbringing.)

President Biden signed a long-overdue $61 billion aid package for our democratic allies in Ukraine after overwhelming Senate passage on Tuesday night. That followed on the heels of Saturday's passage in the House by Democrats following an about-face by GOP House Speaker Mike Johnson. The package adopted by Congress and signed by the President today is for $95 billion in all, including funding to replenish Israel's missile defense systems following Iran's attack last week, billions of dollars in humanitarian aid in Gaza, and military aid to Taiwan. The bill also includes a ridiculous measure that may result in the popular social media app TikTok being banned in the U.S.

In reproductive rights (or lack thereof) news, the corrupted far-right majority on the U.S. Supreme Court appeared skeptical during heated Oral Argument on Wednesday over a Biden Administration mandate under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). The 1986 statute requires hospitals that accept federal medicare funding to offer emergency, life-stabilizing care to all patients who arrive in the emergency room. After SCOTUS overturned Roe v. Wade, the Administration reminded facilities that such care includes abortions when a patient is "in serious jeopardy" or any condition that might impair bodily functions or organs, no matter the state's own restrictions on reproductive care. Idaho disagreed and sued. The packed rightwing supermajority on the High Court was working hard today to side with Idaho.

There was somewhat brighter related news in Arizona on Wednesday when, after three weeks of trying, Democrats in the state's House were finally able to vote to repeal the state's 1864 territorial ban on nearly all abortions. Three Republicans joined all 29 Democrats to repeal the law. The measure still needs passage in the GOP-controlled state Senate, after which AZ's 15-week abortion ban would take the place of the 160-year old near-total ban.

And THEN, we're joined again today our friends award-winning columnist and blogger HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullaballoo and former attorney (and former Republican) KEITH BARBER of Daily Kos to get up to speed on this week's fits and starts in Donald J. Trump's New York criminal trial.

After last week's faster-than-expected jury selection, the trial began with Opening Statements on Monday in which prosecutors described Trump's criminal scheme to hide several sexual affairs just before the 2016 election as "election fraud, pure and simple". On Tuesday morning, during a contempt hearing on at least 10 instances in which Defendant Trump violated the court's gag order against attacking jurors and witness, the judge instructed Trump's attorney Todd Blanche that he was "losing all credibility with the court." Says Barber today: "In a list of phrases that could be the worst to come out of a judge's mouth in the first two days of a trial, that would be right at the top of the list."

On both days, shortened for the Passover holidays, David Pecker, former National Enquirer publisher and longtime friend of Trump, took the stand on behalf of the prosecution to discuss hush-money payoffs he'd arranged as part of an alleged conspiracy with Trump and his attorney Michael Cohen to publish damaging stories about Trump's political opponents and quash stories that might be damaging to him. As Pecker detailed, that included paying off a Trump Tower doorman to shut up about his claim that Trump fathered an out-of-wedlock child with a maid who also worked there, and to "catch and kill" the story of Playboy model Karen McDougal who says she carried on a nearly year-long affair with Trump while his wife Melania was pregnant.

Parton describes the first witness in this case as offering several ironies since Pecker "said that their little scheme back in 2015 and 2016 was all fake news. Literally fake news. They made up stories. They killed negative stories about Trump and pushed negative stories that were literally fake news about his rivals. It's like gaslighting to the thousandth power."

Pecker's is expected to continue his testimony on Thursday regarding the $130,000 hush-money payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels, which was repaid to Cohen by Trump via monthly installments during his first year in the White House. Those payments became the falsified business records at the center of this trial, as the Trump Organization logged them as legal retainer fees, rather than unreported reimbursements that ran afoul of campaign finance laws, according to prosecutors.

Both Parton and Barber find it curious that, while Trump has been relentless in his attacks on witnesses like his longtime attorney and fixer Cohen, he has not said a negative word about his friend Pecker since the former Enquirer chief signed a cooperation agreement with prosecutors in 2018. She believes there is much more that Pecker knows about Trump above and beyond the scandals he's already detailed in this case. Barber concurs: "There's reason to believe that David Pecker has more of Trump's bodies buried in various places."

Each offer many more thoughts and insights on all of the above, including much more that we've learned over just the first two days of this historic trial, the legal hurdles faced by prosecutors, and what we should expect in the days ahead...

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, Pandora, TuneIn, Google, Amazon or our native RSS feed!

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Trump NY criminal trial update; Also: SCOTUS nixes Lake's 2022 fraud claims; WI U.S. Senate candidate 'doesn't oppose' elderly voters; Trump/RNC's 'election integrity' plan; AZ GOP Rep's apparent 'petition fraud'...
By Brad Friedman on 4/23/2024 7:13pm PT  

During opening statements in the disgraced former President's ongoing criminal trial, prosecutors argued the scheme surrounding his hush-money payments to a porn star just before the 2016 election amounted to "election fraud, pure and simple." Similar fraud since then, by Trump and now much of his Republican party, pervades many of our stories on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

Among our stories today...

  • It's Primary Day in Pennsylvania. We'll have noteworthy results and/or problem reports on tomorrow's program. (Recent elections in PA have revealed serious problems with the touchscreen voting systems still shamefully used in a number of jurisdictions.) But the election in the Keystone State today --- as some voters are reportedly struggling with newly implemented Photo ID requirements --- also provides a reminder as to why it's a good idea to vote in primaries, even when races at the top of the ticket may already be foregone conclusions.
  • Donald Trump's election-fraud-via-hush-money criminal trial in New York continued on Tuesday. We offer a a few quick updates. One point we missed Monday's opening statements, included the fact that prosecutors say they have hand-written documentation from longtime Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg as to why Michael Cohen was paid $420k as reimbursement for his $130k payment to porn star Stormy Daniels. Today, the day began with a contempt hearing over at least ten instances in which prosecutors allege that Trump has violated the court's gag order on attacking jurors and witnesses. The judge has yet to issue his ruling, but the hearing culminated with Trump's attorney Todd Blanche being upbraided by a frustrated Justice Juan Merchan, who told him, "You are losing all credibility with the court." For that, it appears, Trump's campaign and associated groups have been paying about $145,000 in donor money for legal fees each day since early 2023, according to newly released numbers. After the jury arrived, the trial's first witness continued his testimony. That would be former National Enquirer publisher, longtime Trump pal, and alleged "catch and kill"/hush-money co-conspirator David Pecker.
  • Arizona's 2022 Republican election losers, Kari Lake and Mark Finchem, both falsely claim their elections, for Governor and Sec. of State respectively, were stolen from them somehow, by the Republican officials who run elections in the state's largest County. They sued in 2022 and have lost in court after court ever since. On Monday, the corrupted rightwing U.S. Supreme Court also rejected their case. They are both running again in 2024, for U.S. Senate and state Senate respectively. What could possibly go wrong?
  • Speaking of 2024 Republican U.S. Senate candidates in battleground states, Wisconsin's Eric Hovde really, really wants you to know that he totally thinks "elderly should absolutely vote". Even after his previous comments about elderly voters in nursing homes that really kinda makes it seem otherwise.
  • The Trump Campaign and the RNC (now effectively one and the same) have announced their plans for an "Historic, 100,000 person strong Election Integrity operation"! We've got a few thoughts about what that really means. Though it probably doesn't help that a statement from Trump himself included in the announcement echoes almost precisely a statement long attributed to Josef Stalin that "it's not who votes that matters, but who counts the votes".
  • As to actual election fraud, as usual, the call is coming from inside the Republican house. This time, it's a guy named Austin Smith, an Arizona's Republican state Rep. and top leader of Turning Point Action --- a group which has long echoed Trump's false 2020 election fraud claims. Smith has apparently been caught submitting dozens of signatures, in his own hand-writing, for his own reelection campaign. While denying the charges, now being investigated by the AZ Attorney General, Rep. Smith has since resigned from Turning Point and called off his reelection campaign. But really, he insists, he didn't do it!
  • Finally, Desi Doyen is here for our latest Green News Report, including today: news on Europe's stunning rate of warming; new details on the plastic manufacturing industries contribution to man-made climate change; and another series of sweeping actions from the Biden Administration on Solar for All, the American Climate Corps and a whole bunch of brand new conservation initiatives that I can almost bet you haven't heard about until now...

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Guest: Alex Mahadevan of Poynter's MediaWise; Also: Trump CFO goes back to jail; GOP chaos, panic in AZ after 1864 abortion ban restored...
By Brad Friedman on 4/10/2024 6:32pm PT  

And we thought the real news sites were bad enough. Now, as discussed on today's BradCast, fake ones, aided by Artificial Intelligence and funded by shadowy rightwingers to surreptitiously promote candidates and rightwing propaganda, are springing to life across the country in advance of this year's critical election. Ain't that all that we need? [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But first up, a few news headlines of note today...

The Trump Organization's long-time Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg returned to Rikers Island today after serving a 100 day sentence just last year on tax fraud charges related to unreported perks he received over many years from the company. Today, the 76-year old Weisselberg was sentenced to five more months in the pen after pleading guilty to perjury for lying to state prosecutors in testimony and on the witness stand in Donald Trump's recent $454 million civil fraud trial about the size of the disgraced former President's New York apartment. The lie inflated the value of the Trump Tower penthouse on financial statements by some $200 million.

And, in Arizona, the state's all-Republican Supreme Court unleashed havoc on Tuesday --- for both abortion supporters and opponents alike --- when it reinstated a 160-year old near-total abortion ban originally adopted in 1864, before Arizona was a state or women had the right to vote. Many state Republicans, like U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake, are now in full panic mode on the heels of the Court approving the law she previously claimed to support. Now, for some reason, she doesn't, as revealed in an incoherent (and hilarious) statement demanding that AZ's Democratic Governor somehow roll it all back, even while Lake also still claims to oppose abortion.

For his part on Wednesday, Donald Trump, who on Monday bragged yet again about his role in overturning Roe v. Wade, both claimed that the abortion issue was now settled to everyone's satisfaction as a states' rights matter, while calling out the AZ Supreme Court for "going too far" in reinstating the 1864 ban on all abortions in the state, with an exception only for saving the life of mother. He insists that the GOP-controlled (for now) state legislature will repeal the ban. But Republicans leaders in both the state House and Senate on Wednesday insisted otherwise, thwarting attempts by Democrats to repeal the antiquated law.

It is all as mad as it sounds. But, despite the havoc this is causing for women and doctors in the state, all of it may turn out to be very good news for Democrats in the battleground state this November. Arizona, and other states, will see ballot initiatives to protect reproductive rights. That is likely to have a remarkable effect on turnout by angry voters.

Of course, that also depends on an educated --- not disinformed --- electorate. And, right now, as the Financial Times recently reported, there is a well-funded scheme underway by rightwing billionaire activists, the Republican Party and fossil fuel interests, among others, to confuse as many people as possible about real news by using real looking "pink slime" websites that push political propaganda while masquerading as legitimate local news sites.

According to media watchdog NewsGuard, as of April 1, there were as many fake "pink slime" websites operating in the U.S., pretending to be real local news outlets, as there were actual, real, local news sites!

We're joined today by ALEX MAHADEVAN, Director at the non-profit Poynter Institute's MediaWise project, which seeks to "empower diverse communities with the skills to identify misinformation."

"The word 'pink slime' encompasses a lot of different types of these algorithmically-generated or poorly reported news websites," Mahadevan tells me. "To me, the 'pink slime' news websites that worry me the most are the ones that aren't necessarily fake news, but have a lot of real news in it. Most of it has been scraped by algorithms from press releases, but then within some of those articles are very biased, misleading articles that favor one candidate or another candidate."

The websites have names like "Chicago City Wire", a cite which doesn't disclose its funding or political purpose other than to say, "Funding for this news site is provided, in part, by advocacy groups who share our beliefs in limited government." At least if you bother to dig deep enough on the site to find that statement.

One of the largest networks of "pink slime" sites is run by an outfit named Metric Media, which claims to feature about 1,000 "local" sites, most of which, according to FT, "do not disclose any political funding or partisan stance, saying that they provide 'data-driven information without political bias.'" Metric Media is reportedly run by a web of shell companies, non-profits and corporate entities linked to three men, "conservative businessman and publisher Brian Timpone, Texas oil billionaire Tim Dunn, and Republican Party adviser Bradley Cameron."

Creation of these sites, according to researchers, is now easier than ever thanks to Artificial Intelligence apps, and comes at a time when social media outlets have cut back on their moderation teams that might otherwise prevent links to such propaganda outlets from proliferating. Instead, the "pink slime" sites are spending millions to advertise on those same social media sites like Facebook, Twitter/X and Instagram.

Mahadevan explains how he was able, in February of last year, to use the free version of the AI app, Chat-GPT, to create such a fake cite. "In about a half hour I was able to generate fake news articles, along with fake news reporters, fake editors, and fake publishers --- along with their headshots --- and create the code and launch a fake news website completely out of thin air. To me, that was really frightening."

All of it, in fact, is frightening --- not only the fake news that is taking the place of real local news reporting, but the loss of those critical local outlets in the first place and what happens to "the soul of these communities when we lose local news outlets," laments Mahadevan, who goes on to warn that all of this is "terrible for democracy."

So what, if anything can be done about it? We discuss that as well on today's somewhat disturbing, if hopefully eye-opening, BradCast...

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Also: AZ Repubs move to end early and mail-in voting; Trump coughs up $175M bond in NY, sees gag order expanded; FL Supremes approve abortion ban, allow abortion rights ballot measure in November...
By Brad Friedman on 4/2/2024 6:22pm PT  

As it is said, "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." It continues to bend mostly in that direction on today's BradCast.

Among our many stories today...

  • Donald Trump finally coughed up a bond for $175 million --- of the $454 million plus interest that he still owes in full --- in his New York civil fraud case as his appeal continues.
  • The judge in Trump's New York criminal trial related to hush-money payments to a porn star to help him win the 2016 election, has expanded his gag-order [PDF] against the disgraced former President to cover family members of jurors, witnesses, prosecutors and the judge himself, whose daughter had been repeatedly (and fraudulently) attacked in recent days by the GOP's Presidential front-runner. His trial, on 34 felony counts, begins on April 15.
  • Gov. Ron DeSantis' packed state Supreme Court in Florida tossed out decades of state constitutional precedent to allow his Big Government 6-week abortion ban to take effect. At the same time, the court also narrowly allowed a Constitutional Amendment to protect reproductive rights on this year's general election ballot in the Sunshine State. It, like a measure to allow the sale of recreational marijuana that the Justices also approved for the ballot on Monday, will need to receive support from more than 60% of voters this year to take effect. Democrats are hopeful that the ballot measures could help them win back the former swing-state for the first time in years this November.
  • GOP state legislators in Arizona are on the verge of adopting a ballot measure for this November which would end most early voting and vote-by-mail in the state where more than 80% of voters currently take advantage of such conveniences as well as end the use of convenient Voting Centers in the state's two largest (and most Democratic-leaning) counties. Since the resolution will result in a ballot measure, if passed next by the state Senate, it can't be vetoed by the state's Democratic Governor. On the other hand, it'll be something for voters to think about as Dems are now just two swing-seats away from flipping each chamber of the state legislature from "red" to "blue".
  • Ever since Republicans decided to pretend the Presidential election was stolen from them with massive --- if evidence-free --- voter fraud in 2020, almost every case of such fraud that has been found has been carried out by Republicans. Today, we've got two more examples of GOP officials caught having committing such fraud. One is from a state Representative in Alabama who was forced to step down after lying about his residency (his seat was filled last week by a Democrat in a Special Election), and another was by a high-ranking state Republican Party official and rightwing talk show host in Georgia who was voted illegally 9 times. Both got off with largely slaps on the wrist.

    Whenever these stories have come to light in recent years, we've found ourselves comparing the velvet glove treatment of white, Republican voter fraud criminals to the years-long hell on Earth faced by Crystal Mason, the black Texas woman [pictured above] who was sentenced in 2018 to five years in prison for unknowingly casting an unlawful provisional ballot that was never even counted back in 2016. Last week, at long-last, Mason was acquitted of the charges she never should have never faced in the first place.

  • Finally, Desi Doyen is back with our latest Green News Report, as an iconic cliff-side coastal road collapses amid heavy climate-change fueled rains in California; Republicans protest federal funding to rebuild the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore; a new report finds our man-made climate crisis is taking a brutal toll on the economy; and the Biden Administration's EPA makes some major moves on methane leaks and truck pollution...

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Trump staring down barrel of both civil and criminal accountability in Empire State; Also: Biden forgives another $6B in student loans; U.S. calls for 'immediate, sustained ceasefire' in Gaza; Scientists baffled by spike in record year of global heating...
By Brad Friedman on 3/21/2024 7:02pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's crunch time for our disgraced former President in his old home state. Sad! But they ain't playin' in New York. So, get your popcorn ready. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But first, a few other news items of note...

  • The past year has been the warmest on record globally --- on both land and sea --- for likely the last 100,000 years. Some of that warming has long been predicted by scientists, thanks to the continuing release of emissions from burning fossil fuels that are the main cause of global warming. But the sudden spike over the past 12 months has been far worse than predicted based on years of data and computer modeling. Top climate scientists are now baffled about the cause and wondering if, perhaps, they've been low-balling the climate change crisis in their modelling.
  • More good news for student loan borrowers today. The Biden Administration is forgiving another $6 billion in loans to some 78,000 public-service workers who were promised over a decade ago that their service would eventually help forgive their debt, only to be lied to and misled by schools and private companies administering their federal loans. President Biden is correcting that today, and will also be informing an additional 380,000 borrowers that they will also see their debt wiped out over the next two years if they keep their payments up to date. As of now, the Administration has forgiven nearly $144 billion in debt, even after the corrupted U.S. Supreme Court corruptly blocked his original plan for $430 billion in debt relief.
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Cairo on Thursday called for an "immediate, sustained ceasefire" and the release of all hostages in Gaza. He said the Administration is supporting U.N. Security Council resolutions calling for same, and reiterated U.S. opposition to Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's promised offensive in Rafah unless accommodations are in place to prevent still more harm, death and starvation of the civilian population sheltering in southern Gaza. At the same time, the far-right Prime Minister --- facing felony charges whenever he finally leaves office --- is taking aim at high-ranking Jewish leaders in the U.S. like longtime Israel supporter and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, for having dared to call for new elections in Israel.
  • New campaign fundraising numbers are out this week via the Federal Election Commission and reveal that the Biden Campaign and his affiliated fundraising groups are far outpacing the Trump Campaign and its affiliated groups. The Biden Campaign now has more than double the amount of cash on hand as Trump does, even as most of the funds raised by the former President has gone to cover his legal bills over the past year.
  • But the jig may finally be up for Donald Trump in New York, where he must come up with some $464 million dollars in cash or bonds by this Monday to avoid the start of seizure of his assets by the state following his loss in the state's civil trial against him, his company and his two eldest sons for massive bank, tax and insurance fraud. Reportedly, the office of state Attorney General Letitia James has already filed judgements in both New York City (home of Trump Tower, 40 Wall Street and other major property assets) and Westchester County (the location of one of his golf courses and an estate he owns called Seven Springs). The filing of judgements is the first step toward the state's seizure of Trump properties as well as bank and brokerage accounts. That process could begin as early as Monday if Trump is unable to come up with a half-billion dollar bond or get some other form of emergency relief from the NY state appeals court between now and then. Moreover, today the trial judge in the case expanded strict oversight by a court-appointed monitor of just about every financial event or attempted event at the Trump Organization to help ensure the longtime con-man is unable to move funds around or pull off any other chicanery to avoid accountability. As noted, they ain't playin' in NY!
  • But it's not only civil accountability barreling toward Trump in New York. The judge overseeing his upcoming criminal trial, likely to begin next month, related to hush-money payments made before and after the 2016 election, issued a ruling this week on what evidence may and may not be presented at trial by each side. As WaPo's Jennifer Rubin detailed today, it "couldn't have gone worse for Trump". Judge Juan Merchan, she reports, "ruled against [Trump] in virtually all of his motions to exclude evidence. By contrast, the judge largely granted Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s motions to exclude evidence for trial that Trump believed might be exculpatory." The ruling, Rubin suggests, indicates Merchan "will not indulge Trump’s antics nor allow the trial to devolve into a spectacle." We'll see about that. But, she adds: "Based on these rulings, Trump should be quaking in his boots."
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more stunning heat records in South America (144°F heat index in Rio!); the Biden EPA's largest climate regulation ever; a climate "red alert" issued by the U.N.; and new remarks from ExxonMobil's sleazy CEO Darren Woods claiming that climate change isn't his company's fault, it's YOURS!...

NOTE: Both BradCast and Green News Report will be standing down next week for a much-needed Spring Break! I'm sure it'll be a totally slow news week anyway. We'll see you after Easter!

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Guest: Labor journalist, author Steven Greenhouse; Also: Putin steals another election; Trump tries to avoid coughing up $450M in NY...
By Brad Friedman on 3/18/2024 6:10pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Given all of the ongoing madness, this story has not yet broken through all of the noise. But there is a concerted effort by several large corporations underway right now to undermine nearly 100 years of labor law in these United States. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

After some news headlines from today and the past several, we're joined by longtime, award-winning labor journalist STEVEN GREENHOUSE, formerly of the New York Times, now at The Guardian, and author of the new book, Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present and Future of American Labor.

At The Guardian last week, Greenhouse reported on the disturbing effort now under way by a number of major corporations, including Amazon, Starbucks, Trader Joe's and Elon Musk's SpaceX, to have the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) --- established as part of the 89-yeard old National Labor Relations Act --- declared unconstitutional by the federal courts.

The NLRB is critical to the survival of workers' rights and the unionization of workplaces. "The NLRB functions, essentially, as a referee, as an umpire, when workers seek to unionize. It tries to get workers, unions and companies to follow certain rules," Greenhouse explains today. "It's illegal, for instance, for companies to fire workers for supporting a union. Starbucks is accused of this. Companies fire the leaders of unionization efforts to decapitate, to kill the effort. The NLRB comes in as the empire and blows the whistle, saying, 'You can't do that. You can't fire people for supporting a union.'"

That said, the Board and its team of Administrative Judges who make determinations about violations of labor law, don't have the power to do much more than make findings. "It doesn't have the power to fine companies one penny for firing ten or twenty or thirty workers for supporting a union." Thus, companies like Starbucks have been in violation of the law more than a hundreds times over the past year, but clearly see the largely non-existent "penalties" for doing so, worth the crime.

The NLRB tends to side with management when Republicans are in the White House and control the Board, and with labor when a Democrat occupies the Oval Office. Greenhouse explains that Democrats have made efforts over the years to give more muscle to the NLRB, but have been blocked, for decades, by Republicans.

Still, as weak as the NLRB is, it plays a vital role in American labor law and workers right to collectively bargain for better pay and working conditions. "Corporations have long gloated at how weak the NRLB is. But what's really different now is that corporations, instead of just shrugging when they're slapped on the wrist, they're really taking a bazooka and going to court trying to have the NLRB declared unconstitutional," Greenhouse tells me.

Even though the NLRB has "been found constitutional time and again" over the past century, now that the federal court system --- including the Supreme Court --- has been so thoroughly captured by rightwing judges, these companies appear to be trying to gut the entire apparatus. And they may get away with it. Unions "fear that the Supreme Court and many judges have moved so far to the right that they are ready to blow up the system of federal agencies that generally has worked very well, over the past 90 years, protecting workers, protecting consumers, protecting investors."

But, Greenhouse warns, these companies "should be careful what they wish for." Finding the NLRB or the Act itself unconstitutional could return labor law to "the law of the jungle", as one labor expert cited in Greenhouse's report suggests. It could also work out much worse for the companies themselves than they may be realizing.

Tune in today for much more on all of the above.

Then, we dive into a bit more detail on some of the news of note since last week, including dictator Vladimir Putin's illegitimate reelection over the weekend to a third term --- and third decade --- of rule in Russia, and Donald Trump's claim that he is unable to come up with a bond to cover the $464 million fine he, his company, and his top execs (including his two eldest sons) now owe in New York after being found liable for years of massive bank, tax and insurance fraud...

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Also: New rightwing voter suppression schemes in swing-states; Sinema not running again; Trump CFO headed back to prison; New charges for Menendez; 'Christian' Liberty U. covered up sex abuse, rape crimes...
By Brad Friedman on 3/5/2024 5:32pm PT  

We'll have likely-unsurprising results from today's Super Tuesday elections in 16 states on tomorrow's BradCast, but we've got a few reminders today of the stakes, the challenges ahead and why it all matters. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

Among our stories today...

  • Arizona's former corporatist Democrat turned corporatist independent U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema says she will not run for re-election this November, clearing the way for a 2-person race to fill her U.S. Senate seat this fall. (And, perhaps, with both her and West Virginia's Joe Manchin also not running for re-election this year, a path someday to restoring the gutted Voting Rights Act and much more.)
  • Speaking of the Voting Rights Act, a new study from NYU's Brennan Center of Justice out this week finds that the racial gap between white and black voters has been widening since the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the law's key provision in 2013's Shelby v. Holder, claiming the landmark Act's protections against racially discriminatory voting laws and rules was out of date and no longer needed. While the racial disparity gap has grown everywhere across the country, it has grown twice as much in jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination at the polls where minority voters were previously protected by the VRA's currently-gutted Section 5 "preclearance" requirement.
  • As if that is not disturbing enough, Republican "voter fraud" fraudster groups, such as the disgraced disinformationists at True the Vote, are ramping up efforts to suppress the vote in advance of this year's general election. According to a new New York Times investigation, a "grassroots" campaign has been quietly challenging the eligibility of thousands of legally registered voters at the County level in a number of swing-states around the country since 2020, removing eligible voters in the bargain and otherwise setting up for post-election challenges to the rolls this November, in the event that Donald Trump loses again.
  • And speaking of the disgraced former President and current 2024 GOP front-runner, his longtime Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg is headed back to prison after spending about 100 days in Rikers last year related to a years long tax fraud scheme with the Trump Organization. On Monday, the 78-year old pleaded guilty to two counts of perjury after lying on the stand and in depositions with New York state prosecutors regarding his role in the massive, years-long fraud scheme by Trump, his company and his top executives. Trump and the executives, including his two eldest sons and Weisselberg were all found liable in the state's civil fraud case against them. Trump must now pay more than $450 million in penalties. His NY state criminal trial on 34 felony counts related to hush-money payments to help him win the 2016 election begins later this month, as Weisselberg prepares for another five months in the pokey, though he will not be required to testify against Trump under the plea deal.
  • But it's not just rightwingers facing justice this week. On Tuesday, New Jersey's Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Menendez and his wife saw new obstruction charges added to their existing indictments related to allegedly accepting gold bars, cash and a luxury car as bribes in return for favors to several businessmen. Menendez stands accused of using his former position as Chair of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee to help his business associates get multi-millionaire deals with Qatari investment funds and the government of Egypt.
  • Okay, it's just mostly rightwingers. Liberty University, one of the nation's largest so-called "Christian" schools, founded by the late Jerry Falwell, Sr., and subsequently run by his son Jerry Falwell, Jr. (until he was forced out in scandal) has agreed to pay the largest fine ever under the federal Clery Act, requiring that colleges and universities that receive federal funding keep detailed public lists of campus crime statistics. The school must cough up an unprecedented $14 million related to its years-long cover-up of sexual abuse and rape allegations, while fostering a community of fear for women who were often victimized and/or ignored after reporting such incidents to school officials.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as record heat and wildfires continue in Texas; California's Sierra Mountains dig out from an intense weekend blizzard with hurricane-force wind gusts; And as the Biden Administration announced billions of dollars for cleaning up and modernizing the nation's ports under the Democrats' Inflation Reduction Act...

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Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, 'Driftglass' of 'Pro Left Podcast'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/29/2024 5:03pm PT  

I should be in bed nursing my illness (whatever it is), rather than doing today's BradCast. But given the firehose of news, some of it huge, that broke after yesterday's guest-hosted show with Nicole and Desi (thank you, guys!) and today, I felt I had to come in for this one. Nasal congestion be damned. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Back in 2018, as Trump-nominated Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was lying his way through his Senate Confirmation hearings, he made what sure sounded like a threat at the time. "This confirmation process has become a national disgrace," he whined through angry tears. "And as we all know, in the United States political system of the early 2000s, what goes around comes around."

There has been a boatload of important news over the past 24 hours. But what may have been Kavanaugh's long-promised "comes around" moment may have finally occurred last night. The U.S. Supreme Court came up with at least 4 votes to hear Oral Argument of Donald Trump's ridiculous claim that Presidents enjoy "absolutely immunity" for any and all crimes they may commit while in office --- including ordering Seal Team Six to murder domestic political opponents, as Trump's lawyer's argued in this case at the lower D.C. Court of Appeals.

The federal appellate court, as well as the trial court below it, unanimously rejected the argument. But, rather than taking up the case three months ago, when Special Counsel Jack Smith asked them to, the corrupt SCOTUS waited more than two months before deciding, in a terse, one-page order [PDF], to "expedite" the matter by hearing it...seven weeks from now. The question will be: "Whether and if so to what extent does a former President enjoy presidential immunity from criminal prosecution for conduct alleged to involve official acts during his tenure in office." --- Which "official acts" they may be referring to are uncited.

In the bargain, Trump's previously scheduled May 4th federal trial date for attempting to steal the 2020 election remains on on pause and may not now even begin before the 2024 election.

At the same time, in New York state court on Wednesday, an appellate judge, within hours after Trump's filing, rejected his attempt to offer a $100 million bond to prevent Attorney General Letitia James from beginning seizure of his assets in about 30 days for failure to post cash or a bond for the full $454 million penalty he faces for a decade of massive fraud via his corrupt real estate company. And Trump's criminal trial in the state, on 34 charges related to cheating to win the 2016 election with hush-money payments to a porn star, is set to begin at the end of next month.

Given my physical condition of late, we called in our good friends and very wise longtime fellow bloggers HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo, and 'DRIFTGLASS' of The Professional Left Podcast, to help make sense of these key, historic events. They each offer context and analysis of what appears --- to them at least --- to be one of the most corrupt actions ever taken by our corrupted, far-right, Trump-appointed supermajority on the High Court.

Driftglass argues the news from the Court on Wednesday is that "It's a corrupt court. And that corrupt court has rendered a corrupt decision," underscores his belief that Trump will never see a day in prison. Digby reminds us that true accountability was always going to come from only one place: the voters at the ballot box this November. "I'm sorry to have to tell you," she tells me, "but it's going to have to be a grinding out of a Presidential campaign and people are going to have to vote this guy out."

We've got a lot of ground to cover on today's program, with smart insights from both of them as usual, even if I don't have the energy to document much of it here for you today. So, please tune in.

There's one point, however, that I didn't get to on the show --- blame the cold medicine --- in response to the somewhat grim and arguably cynical (if accurate) assessments from Digby and Driftglass. That is, that even if Trump's federal trial for attempting to steal the 2020 election had moved forward, as scheduled, well before this November's election, I think the magic bullet moment that had been applied to that trial --- as if a guilty conviction would be an elixir that finally woke up the nation to how corrupt he truly was, leading supporters to abandon him --- was always, in my estimation, somewhat overblown.

When (not if) Trump is found guilty on any of the 91 criminal counts he is currently facing at both the state and federal level, his supporters will find a way to justify it and continue their support nonetheless. It'll be a evidence of a "corrupt system" or "Joe Biden's witch hunt" against Trump, etc.

I have never quite bought into the prodigious polling which suggests his 2024 support would crater once he was finally found guilty of a crime. His supporters know what he did. We all do. It's obvious. A criminal conviction is unlikely to change many opinions of him either way. This was and still will be --- as both Digby and Drifty point out --- about the VOTERS showing up and VOTING to save our democracy from the clutches of a fascistic, sociopathic, narcissist hell-bent on destroying it for revenge. Whatever happens between now and November 5, nobody else was ever gonna do it for us.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as winter heat in the center of this nation blew away records for February, topping out in the 80s and 90s in huge swaths of the region over the past week. That helped touch off what is now the largest wildfire in Texas history. In February! That, and much more on today's GNR.

Now I'm going back to bed. I'm sure the last 24 hours have been nothing more than a bad Nyquil-induced fever dream...

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Guest: WI's John Nichols of 'The Nation'; Also: 2020 Team Trump attorneys lose again at SCOTUS; And a word on the 'victims' of Trump's decades-long NY real estate fraud...
By Brad Friedman on 2/20/2024 6:03pm PT  

Yesterday was a very good day for democracy in Wisconsin. On today's BradCast, we take a few minutes to celebrate. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

We have been covering the GOP's autocratic takeover of the state following the 2010 elections for some 13 years at this point. After the 2010 Census, state Republicans implemented one of the most extreme gerrymanders in the nation at both the legislative (state Senate and Assembly) level as well as for their U.S. House districts.

The gerrymanders were so extreme that, despite Democrats winning 14 of the past 17 statewide elections in the Badger State, Republicans have maintained super-majority or near super-majority control of both chambers of the Legislature for more than a decade. Meanwhile, WI's 8-seat U.S. House delegation includes just 2 Democrats in the very closely divided Presidential battleground state.

With no fear of losing their legislative majorities, Republicans ran wild. They stripped labor unions of their right to collective bargaining, loosened gun safety laws, suppressed voters, etc. over the past decade. But, as of last year, everything finally began to change when voters finally won back a progressive majority on the state Supreme Court. The day after the liberals 4 to 3 majority was seated, voters filed a challenge to the Constitutionality of the state's legislative gerrymanders and they won. The Court ordered that new maps must be drawn up in time for the 2024 elections.

On Monday, after declaring, "Folks, it's a new day in Wisconsin, and today is a beautiful day for democracy," the state's Democratic Governor Tony Evers signed legislation adopted by the gerrymandered Assembly and House last week, approving new fairer legislative maps that Evers' office itself had drawn up for the state. Those maps will now take effect for this year's elections and democracy may, at long last, be at least partially restored to the Badger State.

We're joined today by our old friend, longtime Wisconsin native and progressive journalist and author, JOHN NICHOLS of The Nation, to discuss all of this very good news --- not for Democrats, per se, but for voters and democracy itself.

"The Republicans tried everything" to prevent this from happening, he tells me. "They threatened to impeach one of the Supreme Court justices. They tried all sorts of stunts." But, on the verge of the high court handing down its own maps, which would arguably have been worse for Republicans, "the very wily Speaker of the State Assembly, Robin Vos, decided he had no options, so he passed the Governor's maps."

Those maps, notes Nichols, are "not a particularly good set of maps for Democrats. In fact, Democrats have a little hill to climb in order to win." He explains, however, that "if it's a good year for the Republicans, it's very likely the Republicans are going to control the legislature. If it's a good year for the Democrats, there's a decent chance that Democrats will control the legislature." That, of course, is how representative democracy is supposed to work, after all.

As Evers declared before signing the measure on Monday: "When I promised I wanted fair maps --- not maps that are better for one party or another, including my own --- I damn well meant it." He added, "Wisconsin is not a red state or a blue state --- we’re a purple state, and I believe our maps should reflect that basic fact."

Interestingly enough, Democrats in the Legislature voted against the Democratic Governor's maps...before celebrating their adoption. We discuss why. But, Nichols also notes this bottom line: "If the Democrats take both chambers of the legislature" this year with the Democratic Evers in the Governor's mansion, "they will be able to, in a matter of weeks, reverse" more than a decade of GOP power grabs and union stripping, not to mention the state's 1849 anti-abortion law and much more. "Every disappointment that Democrats have had over the last twelve, thirteen years could be undone," Nichols argues, and almost as quickly as Republicans implemented their regressive policies (even while they had to bulldoze the rule of law to do so.)

"Look to Michigan," advises Nichols. "Because Wisconsin is still in process. Wisconsin is still struggling to get there. Michigan got there. They got independent redistricting which drew fair maps after the 2018 election. In 2022 they had fair maps, finally, after a long process. They elected a Democratic state assembly [and] a Democratic state senate. On Tuesday, the laws officially went on the books eliminating their anti-labor 'right-to-work' law, expanding collective bargaining rights for teachers and graduate students, restoring all sorts of wage protections for construction workers. Michigan has now gone --- just a couple of years ago --- from being one of the more anti-labor states in the northern part of the country to having probably the best, or very close to the best, labor laws in the country. That's what you get when you don't give up. You get to actually transform it."

We also discuss who gets credit for this long-fought win in WI, from the state's indefatigable Democratic Party Chair Ben Wikler who declared on Monday that "the long, dark night of ultra-partisan gerrymandering is over, and a new day for democracy now dawns in the Badger State," to the progressive grassroots activists who, says Nichols, deserve "the most credit."

And the lesson for other states to take from Wisconsin, as litigation continues in more than a dozen of them over both legislative and the U.S. House districts (including in WI, where that gerrymander could also soon be ended by the state Supreme Court): "Don't give up," urges Nichols, echoing the words, by the way, of the late Russian dissident Alexei Navalny.

ALSO TODAY:

  • The U.S. Supreme Court rejects an appeal from Trump attorneys Sidney Powell and six others, of the $150,000 in legal sanctions they were forced by a judge to pay for abusing the court system in Detroit via Powell's sham, post-2020 "Kraken" lawsuit, challenging the results of MI's election that year.
  • A bedtime story to help you understand the propaganda now coming from Trump supporters claiming there were "no victims" in the New York civil lawsuit against Trump and his company and two eldest sons for inflating the value of their assets to the tune of more than $2 billion each year over the past 11, to receive better rates on bank loans and lower taxes. Last Friday, NY Superior Court Judge Arthur Engoron ruled [PDF] Trump and his eldest sons must pay nearly $400 million in penalties for their decades-long fraud.
  • And finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, to bunk our high over all of today's good news (as usual!) with some chilling reports on Florida's disappearing coral reefs; the plastics industry's 50-year recycling scam, and nearly half of the world's migratory species now in decline thanks to climate change, according to a new U.N. report...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Reformed 'Ultra-MAGA' member Rich Logis on 'Leaving MAGA'; Also: Is this the week the tide finally begins to turn against Trump?...
By Brad Friedman on 1/29/2024 6:06pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: Escaping MAGA and whether real accountability for the former President's many crimes and civil verdicts might finally begin to bend the curve against him from within his own party and from his own supporters. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

On Friday, a nine-member federal jury in New York ordered Donald Trump to pay an additional $83.3 million to writer E. Jean Carroll, who an earlier 9-member jury determined last year that he had sexually assaulted and repeatedly defamed. The original verdict cost him $5 million, but wasn't enough to stop the repeated defamation of Carroll.

All of this comes on the cusp of a completely separate verdict in a state case in NY where the judge has already determined Trump committed massive fraud by falsely inflating his assets to receive more favorable rates on bank loans, insurance and taxes. The State A.G. has asked that the judge now find Trump and his companies and his top executives (including his two eldest sons) liable for at least $370 million. That ruling is likely to come any day now.

A hundred million here, a hundred million there, and, before ya know it, you're talking about real money. Even for a "billionaire" like Trump. But will any of it make a difference to Trump's most ardent supporters? How about the few Republicans left who are neither Never Trumpers nor hardcore MAGA? Will they finally take notice? Might these rulings begin to make a difference in GOP primary polling, as the disgraced former President continues to be the party's front-running nominee for the 2024 Presidential election?

For thoughts on all of that and much more, we're delighted to be joined again today by RICH LOGIS, a former hardcore MAGA member himself who voted for Trump in both 2016 and 2020, before eventually coming to terms with the fact that he had become captive to what is a far-right political cult. (Our first conversation with him, with more details on that, was in October last year.)

Logis now runs PerfectOurUnion.us, devoted to "healing political trauma" and "building diverse, pro-democracy alliances". Today, he offers his insight, as a reformed MAGA member and former Republican pundit, on whether any of the recent verdicts against Trump --- and/or those that are still to come in the four separate criminal felony cases he is facing this year --- might finally begin to turn the tide away from the GOP's cult leader.

We also discuss Logis' thoughts published recently at Salon, on why the MAGA crowd is so gullible to mythologization and race-baiting, and how even Nikki Haley is now tapping into the same bloodstream to capitalize on a party that has long been captured (well before Trump) by racist polarization and "White fright".

Logis is now creating a new organization specifically devoted to "Leaving MAGA" and we begin the important discussion of how to help those captured by MAGA find their way out, and what friends and family members may be able to do to begin helping their loved ones find their way home.

"As someone who was in MAGA for seven years," he tells me, "Most MAGA voters are good people, deep down. But, unfortunately, the relationship between most MAGA Americans and Donald Trump is a very toxic one. While I don't defend ignorance, MAGA Americans have been traumatized by Trump and the rightwing and the Republican Party. They just have a skill set at keeping MAGA Americans desperate and panicked."

But, he insists optimistically, "if someone got into MAGA, they can get out of it." His own catalyst came after coming to terms with the fact that his own Governor, Ron DeSantis, who he had previously supported, was willing to let people die by lying to them about COVID vaccines in 2021.

"If someone who is very pro-MAGA speaks to someone who is very anti-MAGA, I guarantee, if they speak long enough, they're going to find some issues that they have some common ground and agreement on." He cautions, however, that vilification doesn't work. If it did, "everybody would have left at this point."

"It's going to take time," Logis insists. But he believes "there are more out there who are in the nascent stages of remorse. Because ultimately the strength of the numbers in Leaving MAGA will be in how many we can encourage and empower to leave and tell their stories publicly."

Until his new organization is formally unveiled, he asks folks to contact him at his website. This conversation will continue, I hope. Because it must...

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Guest: Dan Froomkin of Press Watch; Also: A whole bunch of long-overdue accountability news for a whole bunch of rightwingers!...
By Brad Friedman on 1/10/2024 5:03pm PT  

No matter what happens in this year's election, the year will be like none other in the U.S. Are the mainstream media --- which arguably helped lead us to our current mess at the edge of a potential collapse of American democracy --- able to meet the challenge? To serve a nation that badly news an unapologetic press able to call out the corrupted without "both sidesing" every issue? That's where we begin on today's BradCast, before covering a whole bunch of accountability for rightwingers and rightwing organizations in recent days and weeks. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

It seems impossible to believe that the U.S. mainstream media will be able to meet this moment. And yet, there are signs, suggests our guest today, longtime journalist and media critic DAN FROOMKIN of Press Watch, formerly of Washington Post, Huff Post, The Intercept and Harvard's journalism watchdog, the Neiman Foundation.

In a column late last year, Froomkin detailed the "intense internal pressure to defend democracy" that newsrooms will be facing in 2024. The greatest pressure, he reports, is likely to come not from outside those newsrooms, but from inside, where "traditional bosses are still in control," holding fast to "both sides" journalism, but where they are finally being challenged by what he describes as a "silent journalistic majority", an often younger and/or more diverse group of reporters "whose sense of self is defined by more than just not taking sides. It’s defined by informing the public of the truth."

With the stakes now higher than ever, he observes, there are signs, at least, that some in the traditional, unhelpful mainstream are begin to change in order to meet the moment. It's a tall order --- especially after so many decades of failure --- but there are some positive signs that even the traditionalists are beginning to understand the threat posed to American democracy itself by a Republican party which has now all but fallen to the fascistic, autocratic demands of its cult leader.

"The good news --- and it is unusual for me to focus on the good news in the media --- is that I think we're seeing two steps forward, one step back, in that I do see some braver, more honest, more upfront journalism happening on occasion at the major institutions," Froomkin tells me, before adding, "And then every so often, they'll backslide terribly."

He argues that many are "getting really impatient with this 'both-side'-ism, this 'a pox on both your houses' stuff."

"If you talk to any journalist who is not personally invested in the old way of doing things, you'll find that they actually agree with this critique. It is not a radical critique anymore. It is very much a 'How do we do journalism in this day and age?' question. And I think the answer is increasingly becoming that we need to call it out the way we see it. And that we need to stand up for democracy and for a free press, and for core journalistic values. It doesn't mean telling people to go vote Democratic, it doesn't mean being easy on the Democrats. But it does mean pointing out what this danger is right now."

"If Trump takes power, he's going to go after the media. And he will criminalize journalism in a lot of ways, and the free press will be under a lot of pressure. I don't think any journalist can sit there and say, 'I'll be fine if Trump wins.' They should all be terrified," Froomkin asserts, adding: "An increasing number are. You're seeing some of that, for instance, in this story on political violence. That was one of the big issues swept under the rug until recently."

As Froomkin explains, the jury is very much still out. But what he once saw as a "generational project" now needs to happen much quicker. "The stakes feel so high right at this moment --- for obvious reasons --- that I think there’s pretty good chance of change before November," he wrote last month. We'll see if he's right about that.

In the meantime, there has been some encouraging news elsewhere, at least from the court system in recent weeks, resulting in a rush of long-overdue accountability for people and organizations of the corrupted right.

  • Last week, New York Attorney General Tish James' office filed motions seeking $370 million from Donald Trump, his company, and its top executives for years of massive bank, tax and insurance fraud. She is also seeking a lifetime ban from the NY real estate market for Trump, and a five-year ban for his eldest sons. The whole crew has already been found liable by the state judge overseeing the case. The only question now is what the penalties will ultimately be. Closing arguments are this week and Trump will not be allowed to make part of them himself, after failing to agree he would do so without attacking prosecutors, the judge or his staff, or turn the remarks into a political statement.
  • Also last week, Wayne LaPierre, the wildly corrupt 30-year leader of the terrorist-supporting National Rifle Association, finally resigned on the eve of his corruption trial --- also thanks to Tish James in New York --- which began this week. LaPierre and other top NRA officials allegedly bilked millions of dollars from the non-profit organization to fund their own lavish lifestyles. James hopes to force LaPierre and the others to pay it all back and permanently bar them from serving on the board of any NY charity. Thoughts and prayers.
  • Longtime Republican grifter James O'Keefe's sleazy, fake "journalism" organization called Project Veritas, finally seems to be all but permanently dead. That, after O'Keefe was found to have overseen years of "financial malfeasance" according to its Board and newly seated CEO, Hannah Giles, who resigned last month citing "an unsalvageable mess" at the organization, "one wrought with strong evidence of past illegality and past financial improprieties." Giles originally played the "prostitute" in heavily edited videos published years ago by Andrew Breitbart targeting the community organizing and voter registration group ACORN. O'Keefe --- as we spent quite a bit of time some years ago detailing to mainstream media outlets who had also fallen for the hoax --- pretended to have dressed up as a "pimp" in those fraudulent videos. Though scams, they still resulted in rightwing millionaire, billionaire and just plain old dupes donating tens of millions of dollars to O'Keefe's organization over the years in support of their phony, frequently unlawful, partisan schemes targeting groups and individuals on the left. The organization and O'Keefe himself are reportedly under criminal and/or civil investigation for a number of those schemes.
  • Remember Kim Davis? The sleazy, far-right Kentucky county clerk who, in 2015, refused to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples after the U.S. Supreme Court's Obergefell ruling? Last week, a federal judge found her liable for $260,000 in legal fees and expenses incurred by one of the couples who she unlawfully refused to license. In 2022, a federal jury said she had to pay the couple $100,000 in damages. The rightwing legal organization representing Davis for free, Liberty Counsel, says they will appeal the original verdict, the order for attorneys fees, and Obergefell itself at the U.S. Supreme Court.

FINALLY, as today's show ended, it looks like former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has decided to suspend his 2024 GOP Presidential campaign (much as we called for him to do --- if he was truly serious about keeping Trump out of the White House --- on yesterday's program.) The announcement comes just hours before a debate tonight between Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis in advance of Monday's Iowa Caucuses. Presumptive frontrunner Donald Trump won't be at this debate either, but we will have Special Coverage, nonetheless, for some reason, on tomorrow's BradCast...

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EPA to mandate removal of nation's lead water pipes; Interior's firefighter, wildfire resilience funding; OPEC to cut production again; NY re-gags Trump; Biden in CO touts clean energy jobs, manufacturing boom...
By Brad Friedman on 11/30/2023 6:29pm PT  

We've got an unusually large amount of somewhat encouraging environmental-related news on today's BradCast. We apologize in advance. Don't worry. It's not all good.

Among today's stories...

  • More than 40 inches of snow fell on parts of the Northeast over the past two days. Desi Doyen explains why that may --- or may not be (though probably is) --- related to climate change.
  • Donald Trump's very narrow gag order in his $250 million civil fraud trial in New York, meant to bar him from attacking the court clerk --- which had resulted in hundreds of vile death threats against her --- has been reinstated by the state appeals court. Trump and his lawyers are pretending this is the greatest "tragedy" and injustice in world history. Shortly after the ruling [PDF] was handed down, Trump began posting attacks on social media against the Judge's wife.
  • OPEC+ member states, including cartel leader Saudi Arabia, Russia and others, announced they will be cutting oil production in 2024 in hopes of raising your gas prices in an election year. They had already cut production in late 2022, but, thanks in part to record U.S. oil production under the Biden Administration, prices came down anyway. (Yes, we realize that's the oppose of what you've been told by Republicans.) Sick of manipulation of global gas prices by foreign adversaries hoping to interfere in U.S. elections? We've got a few answers to that in the rest of today's show.
  • The Biden Interior Dept. announced on Thursday that it had invested some $468 million to advance wildfire resilience and a temporary increase in pay for firefighters across the nation under the Administration's "Investing in America" agenda, as wildfire season gets longer and more deadly thanks to our climate crisis. (The Biden-Harris Administration says it is working hard to find a way to make those pay increases permanent. But GOP members of Congress may have to play along.)
  • The Biden EPA also announced some very big news on Thursday. The Administration has proposed new restrictions on lead levels in drinking water that will result in all 9 million of the nation's lead water pipes --- which can cause brain damage and behavior disorders, particularly in children --- being replaced over the next 10 years! "To finally have a rule that mandates the removal of lead pipes is exactly what the government should be doing,” declared the Michigan pediatrician whose research first discovered the 2014 Flint, Michigan lead poisoning water crisis. This is very very good news and, yes, exactly the sort of thing that the federal government should be doing --- and should have done long ago!
  • But for, perhaps, the best examples of the federal government doing what it should be doing to help Americans this week came from Joe Biden's own remarks at a wind turbine manufacturing plant in Pueblo, Colorado on Wednesday. It is the largest such plant in the world, and will be even larger soon thanks to a number of pieces of legislation adopted during his Presidency. In his remarks, Biden touted the Administration's multifaceted jobs and manufacturing agenda --- via bills such as the Inflation Reduction Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, the CHIPS Act and more --- which has resulted in a clean energy jobs and manufacturing boom across the country. In this case, he was speaking in the district of --- and pushing back at --- handsy far-right Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert and other Republicans who voted against all of the measures that have brought thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars to her own district.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with a suspiciously high ratio of good to bad news for a change today. It must be something in the water today. Hopefully it's not lead.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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