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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, August 5, 2021
'Green News Report' 8/5/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Record heat in Europe accelerates record wildfires; Carbon offsets up in smoke; Shipping co. buys all-electric cargo planes; PLUS: CA tourist town almost out of water...
Previous GNRs: 8/3/21 - 7/29/21 - Archives...
Establishment v. Progressives in OH Special and 'Death by DeSantis': 'BradCast' 8/4/21
Guest: The Nation's John Nichols on all of that, plus infrastructure; Also: We found a Repub Guv who seems to regret killing people!...
NY's Going Through Some Things...and Other Dark News: 'BradCast' 8/3/21
NY AG details Cuomo harassment; NYC to require vax proof; COVID records, havoc in South -- unvax'd and influencers to blame; Also: Trump's new jihadi social network...
'Green News Report' 8/3/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Infrastructure Week is happening!; Mudslide shuts I-70 indefinitely in CO; Washington county bans new fossil fuel infrastructure; PLUS: Massive new wildfires across the globe...
Previous GNRs: 7/29/21 - 7/27/21 - Archives...
4th Surge and Callers on Why They Finally Got Vax'd (Or Still Haven't): 'BradCast' 8/2/21
Also: Biden's landmark infrastructure agenda takes another step forward in the Senate...
CANNING: The Legal Case for Compulsory Vaccinations
...and for patent waivers for life-saving innoculation drugs...
Sunday 'No Vaccine for Stupid' Toons
For whatever ails you, it's Pdiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons...
'American Fascism' Rising (But Not YET Unavoidable!): 'BradCast' 7/30/21
Guest: Author Brynn Tannehill; Also: Trump pushed DoJ to falsely claim 2020 election was 'corrupt'; Biden DoJ confirms IRS must give Trump tax docs to Congress...
Long Struggle for TX Voting Rights Laid Bare in U.S. House Hearing: 'BradCast' 7/29/21
Also: AZ GOP state Senate liaison UNresigns as 'botched' 2020 'audit' falls apart; Biden unveils new vax incentives as Delta surges...
'Green News Report' 7/29/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Infrastructure bill inches forward in Senate; FL slammed by massive, toxic red tide; Extreme heat curbing nuclear plant reliability; PLUS: OR enacts historic clean energy legislation...
Previous GNRs: 7/27/21 - 7/22/21 - Archives...
GOP's AZ Election 'Audit' Coming Apart at the Seams: 'BradCast' 7/28/21
Guest: John 'Bamboo' Brakey of AUDIT-USA; Also: Bipartisan Senators reach agreement on $1T infrastructure deal; Biden to require vax or tests for federal work force...
'A Cancer on Our Constitutional Republic': 'BradCast' 7/27/21
Harrowing testimony at first hearing of 1/6 Committee hearing; Also: More unvaccinated regrets, new CDC mask guidance as Delta variant rises...
'Green News Report' 7/27/21
London drowning; Middle East burning; Lake Powell's lowest level ever; PLUS: Study warns extreme heat will be much more frequent, costly...
L.A.s New 'Vote Centers' Make Recounts All But Impossible: 'BradCast' 7/26/21
Guest: Ian Patton of Long Beach Reform Coalition; Also: COVID deniers learn they were wrong...the hard way...
Sunday 'Gold Medal' Toons
PDiddie's latest, award-wanting collection of the week's best toons!...
Break Them Up! AntiTrust To the Rescue: 'BradCast' 7/23/21
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with author/journalist Cory Doctorow...
'Green News Report' 7/22/21
Catastrophic flooding in China; Health alerts from Western wildfires triggered as far as the East Coast; PLUS: Utility giant PG&E finally pledges to bury its power lines...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: Former Asst. U.S. Attorney Randall D. Eliason on NY indictments of Trump Organization, CFO Weisselberg, and what's next; Also: Trump files 'asinine' lawsuit against social media companies, stiffs Giuliani...
By Brad Friedman on 7/7/2021 5:54pm PT  

Last week, New York prosecutors filed multiple criminal indictments against the Trump Organization and its CFO Allen Weisselberg in response to an alleged "sweeping and audacious" 15-year tax fraud scheme. Today, Donald Trump himself filed a lawsuit against social media companies for banning him after he used his accounts to incite an attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. Today on The BradCast, we discuss both issues and more, including our conversation with a former Asst. U.S. Attorney who is dubious about the legal expert consensus that NY prosecutors plan to file additional charges against other "senior executives" at the Trump Organization. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

First up, Trump's new lawsuits against Facebook, Twitter and YouTube were announced on Wednesday, with the disgraced former President claiming that his First Amendment rights are being violated by the private companies who no longer allow him to use their platforms to lie about last year's election and to incite violence. The First Amendment, however, does not apply to private companies. It applies to the Government. In fact, as one legal expert notes today, "Trump has the First Amendment argument exactly wrong. In fact, Facebook and Twitter themselves have a First Amendment free speech right to determine what speech their platforms project and amplify --- and that right includes excluding speakers who incite violence."

It was next to impossible to find coverage of the lawsuit today which quoted any legal expert unrelated to the suit or the disgraced former President, who supported Trump's legal theory. Even Fox "News" quoted a libertarian lawyer describing the complaint as "asinine".

While it's unclear who is footing the legal bill for Trump's latest legal folly, seemingly meant to further hoax his gullible "conservative" supporters into believing they are all "victims" of political censorship by "radical left" giant social media companies, we're almost certain that Rudy Giuliani will no longer be lending his efforts. A new book by Michael Wolff documents Trump's rage over losing to Joe Biden last year, and claims that he is now unwilling to pay Giuliani for his legal work in criss-crossing the country to claim, without evidence, that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. That, as Rudy has now had his law license suspended in New York for his false legal claims about the election; is facing a federal investigation for his foreign lobbying work on behalf of Trump; and is named in billion dollar lawsuits by the Dominion Voting System [PDF] company for myriad lies about their products.

But Trump, of course, is facing his own legal problems as well, including the 10 criminal indictments filed against his company last week, along with 15 counts against his longtime Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg. The indictments, which include charges such as Scheme to Defraud; Conspiracy; Grand Larceny; Criminal Tax Fraud; and Falsifying of Business Records, stem from what prosecutors describe as a tax fraud scheme that includes more than a million dollars in off-the-books compensation for apartments, cars, and school tuition for Weisselberg and others, "orchestrated by the most senior executives” at the Trump Organization from 2005 until this year.

In the wake of last week's charges, many legal experts have argued the indictments suggest more charges will be coming, as part of the ongoing two year investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and NY Attorney General Letitia James --- perhaps even for "senior executives" named Trump. Our guest today, however, former Asst. U.S. Attorney RANDALL D. ELIASON of George Washington University Law School, disagrees. At least, he is dubious.

In the days both before and after last week's indictments, Eliason suggested on Twitter that if NY ended up charging Trump's company along with Weisselberg, that would be a signal that there is not, in fact, more charges to come, as many have speculated.

Eliason, an expert in White Collar Criminal Law and a frequent contributor to Washington Post and his own Sidebars Blog, describes the charges against Weisselberg --- who allegedly received more than $1.7 million in untaxed, off-the-books compensation and stiffed city, state and federal governments for at least $900,000 --- as a very "serious case" indeed. He explains why nobody should be fooled by "Attorneys for Weisselberg and the Trump Organization [who] have tried to downplay these as just a 'fringe benefits' case, to make it sound as though it's about the company maybe just failing to report something."

He notes, in particular, prosecutors claims that the company was "keeping two sets of books" to hide their "tax fraud scheme". Eliason says this suggests a "very deliberate" effort to defraud that "makes it pretty hard to claim that it was just a mistake or a misunderstanding about the complicated tax code," as Trump implied during a rally in Sarasota, Florida over the weekend. (That, by way of stark contrast with his boast at a 2016 rally when he declared: "I know more about taxes than human being that God ever created!")

Eliason offers a great deal of insight into what these charges mean and how serious they are. Still, he goes on to argue that, in his opinion, unless prosecutors manage to flip Weisselberg --- which he believes would have already happened if Weisselberg was flippable --- that it is unlikely there will be further charges against others in the case.

"Failing cooperation by Weisselberg," he tells me, "the fact that they included the company [in the indictments] makes me think, if he doesn't flip, that's all we're going to have. Because otherwise you hold off on the company, you isolate Weisselberg, and if you bring cases against other individuals, with or without Weisselberg, that just makes the case against the company stronger. Because the company is only liable vicariously through the actions of its agents. So you don't charge the company now if you think there's more to come."

I challenge Eliason on a number of these points today, in which each of us concede we are reading tea leaves. Of course, he's the expert attorney and I am anything but. Please tune in for this interesting discussion!

Finally, we close with what is best described as some "good-ish news" regarding Elsa, the first Atlantic storm to come ashore this year, in what is already a record setting storm season...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Robert Brandon of Fair Elections Center; Also: We're back! But with a week of news in one segment to get you (and us) all caught up!...
By Brad Friedman on 7/6/2021 6:48pm PT  

We're back on today's BradCast after a much-needed week off, which turned out to be a really big news week. But don't worry. We get all caught up somehow (mostly) on everything you need to know in just one segment today! Plus, an excellent guest to explain how the Republicans' packed U.S. Supreme Court has undermined both democracy and the Constitution yet again at the end of this year's term. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

Among the stories from last week (and this week) that we catch up on before moving to our guest...

  • The thought-to-be-extinguished Lava Fire in Northern California erupts with two others;
  • Last week's deadly, climate-change fueled heat wave in the Pacifica Northwest and British Columbia resulted in hundreds of deaths in the U.S. and Canada;
  • The confirmed death toll at the condo collapse in Surfside, Florida ticks up over 30 with more than 100 still unaccounted for, as recovery is hampered by the incoming, already record-breaking Hurricane Elsa;
  • An ExxonMobil lobbyist was caught on video admitting to the company's years of subterfuge about our climate emergency caused by the unmitigated burning of their products;
  • Attorney General Merrick Garland declared a moratorium on federal executions;
  • George W. Bush's "war criminal" Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, died;
  • The U.S. finally, permanently evacuated Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan as President Biden tries to finally end America's longest war before the 20th Anniversary of 9/11;
  • COVID infections spiked 10% over the previous week as the Delta Variant continues to pose a quickly growing danger, effecting mostly unvaccinated people (so far);
  • Despite its low infection rate, Los Angeles County urged residents to wear masks indoors again, thanks to the increasing spread of the much more infectious coronavirus variant;
  • More than 180 people were shot and killed over the July 4th holiday weekend in more than 540 shootings in the U.S. over a 72-hour period;
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi named her selections, including one Republican, to a House Select Committee to investigate the Trump-incited January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol after Republicans in the House and Senate recently reneged on a deal with Democrats for a bipartisan independent commission;
  • Sexual predator Bill Cosby was freed from jail thanks to a ridiculous deal made years ago by one of the lead defense attorneys in Donald Trump's second impeachment trial;
  • The Boy Scouts of America agreed to an $850 million settlement with victims over thousands of sexual abuse allegations;
  • The Trump Organization and its longtime Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg were indicted on multiple state criminal charges including Scheme to Defraud, Conspiracy, Grand Larceny, Criminal Tax Fraud and Falsifying of Business Records;
  • The NYC Mayor's election, already made ridiculously complicated by Ranked Choice Voting, went sideways last week after it was discovered that 135,000 sample ballots were accidentally included by NYC election officials in the weeks-long, impossible-to-oversee RCV tabulation procedure;
  • Arizona's months-long "audit" theater was extended yet again, as the rightwing, QAnon conspiracy company called Cyber Ninjas continued its secret examination of 2.1 million ballots cast during last year's Presidential election in Maricopa County (Phoenix). That's the partially taxpayer-funded clown show that, as I reported weeks ago now, according to the Ninjas' own documents [PDF], allows them to miscount a MINIMUM of 42,000 votes without setting off any internal alarm bells, in a race that was decided by a statewide margin of just 10,000 votes;
  • And, the Dept. of Justice called on Congress to adopt new laws to protect voters after the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court ended their term last week by undermining democracy and the U.S. Constitution yet again.

In Brnovich vs. DNC [PDF], the Court's 6 to 3 Republican majority overturned a lower appeals court decision that had blocked two new restrictions on voting in Arizona. One barred the counting of ballots cast by voters in the wrong precinct and the other banned the collection of ballots by third-parties (derisively known as "ballot harvesting" by Rightwingers implying it's used by minorities to defraud elections...despite the lack of any evidence in support of that assertion). Both laws were shown to have disproportionately impacted minority voters in the state. That is supposed to be barred by Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. But, writing for the Court's majority, activist Justice Samuel Alito made up new "guidelines" that ignore both Congress' intent in its passage of the VRA and the Constitution's own plain language that "Congress shall have the power to enforce" the 15th Amendment decree that "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

So, how will the Court's ruling in Brnovich, allowing for discrimination in voting laws, effect the spate of pending challenges to new voter suppression laws now being enacted by GOP-controlled states around the country? What, if anything, can Congress do about it? And, if they do, will this hard-right anti-democracy Court allow any such new laws to stand?

We're joined today to discuss all of that and more by longtime public interest attorney ROBERT BRANDON, President, CEO and co-founder of the Fair Elections Center. He describes the Republican Justices' opinion as "a real departure" from the claims of so-called originalism and Constitutional textualism --- a literal reading of the plain words of the Constitution --- which the rightwing Justices have long pretended to believe in. This decision, he explains, is "clearly is going to make it harder to challenge and defeat, in court, the laws that disenfranchise the most Americans, particularly black and brown voters, and other marginalized voters. In the case of Arizona, including disabled voters, who often need help delivering their ballots."

Alito's ruling, according to Brandon, essentially says "discrimination is okay as long as it's not a whole lot." But Brandon also explains why the Court's decision, as terrible as it is, doesn't necessarily mean that the multiple legal challenges to dozens of new GOP suppression laws adopted since last year, in the wake of Trump's evidence-free Big Lie that the election was stolen, will fail.

"It's a great irony, of course, that we just had the highest turnout election in history," he says, "yet now we're talking about adding all of these new barriers to voting around the country."

Finally, on this four-day work week following the Monday Independence Day holiday, a new analysis of a years-long study in Iceland finds that productivity either remained the same or improved in the majority of workplaces when the work week was cut to just four days. How can we get this progressive idea --- now also being studied in Spain and New Zealand, and found to benefit workers' health and lives without harming corporate bottom lines --- adopted here in the U.S.? Working on it...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Dr. Brian Hughes of American University's PERIL; Also: Criminal charges soon for Trump Org?; DoJ sues GA for vote suppression; More on climate change effects on collapsed FL high-rise...
By Brad Friedman on 6/25/2021 6:30pm PT  

As usual in this country, we're dealing with the crisis all wrong. Violent domestic extremism --- domestic terrorism --- has become a public-health issue in this country, according to our guest today on The BradCast. If we treat it as such, it may not become the security problem that we're currently treating it as. We're good at law enforcement and security issues in this country. Public-health issues? Not so much. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up today, a few breaking news stories of note...

  • Several news outlets this afternoon are confirming that Donald Trump's family business could face criminal charges as soon as next week. Not Trump himself --- yet --- or his family members or other employees, but the Trump Organization itself. New York Times was first to report that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance could file criminal indictments next week against the Trump Organization, based on fringe benefits given to employees, such as expensive apartments, cars and school tuition for employee family members on which taxes were not properly paid. The Trump Org's CFO Allen Weisselberg and possibly his son, who also work for the company, seem to be targeted here. Both Vance and New York Attorney General Letitia James have been investigating whether the disgraced former President committed bank and tax fraud and whether he committed campaign finance felonies with hush-money payments to two different women before the 2016 election. It's believed that prosecutors are hoping that the company's longtime financial chief, Weisselberg, will flip against his boss. These charges are likely part of that effort.
  • Also today, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the filing of a federal lawsuit against the state of Georgia over it's expansive new voter-suppression law, SB202. Seven non-profit voting and civil rights organizations have filed separate complaints (including one, filed by the Coalition for Good Governance, in which I am a named plaintiff). But the big guns of a federal lawsuit by the DOJ suggest that the Biden Administration is taking seriously the spate of new laws being adopted by GOP-controlled legislatures around the country aimed at making it harder for Americans --- specifically, minorities --- to vote. Comments from Garland and his deputies in the Voting Rights Division today, when announcing the legal action, suggest there may be more such suits against other states coming soon as well.
  • Finally, before we get to our guest today, some additional information on a question we posed yesterday, as to whether rising seas due to human-caused climate change may have played a part in the tragic, deadly collapse of a 12-story high-rise condominium in Surfside, Florida near Miami Beach on Thursday. A number of experts have hinted at the possibility over the past 24 hours since our last show. One is a professor at the Florida International University’s Institute of Environment, speaking to CNN, citing the building's subsidence rate (how much it is sinking into the ground) during a study in the 1990s. And NBC News spoke to a number of experts who cited the towns along the sandy, reclaimed wetlands barrier island on which Miami Beach and Surfside stand --- an island which, we now understand, actually migrates and moves along with rising sea levels. One geologist quoted suggests that the necessity of a coastal retreat from barrier islands --- where currently $3 trillion worth of property is now located in the U.S. --- may soon be upon us. "It’s a tough conversation to have, but the building shouldn’t have been there --- along with a lot of other buildings," he says. "We’re due for a real awakening."

Next, it's on to the rise in violent domestic extremism, particularly fostered by White Supremacy in the wake of Donald Trump's presidency and the deadly, Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. After Republicans reneged on a deal with House Democrats to form an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the 1/6 attack, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week announced plans to create a House Select Committee to get to the root cause of what happened and why. During a House hearing this week, the nation's highest ranking military leader, Gen. Mark Milley, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, offered an impassioned response to criticism of interest in Critical Race Theory among military leadership, and the causes of "white rage", in which he spoke to the importance of learning "what is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America."

Our guest today, DR. BRIAN HUGHES of American University's Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab (PERIL), suggests Pelosi and Milley and "the Biden Administration's proposal for how to tackle domestic terrorism and extremism points in the right direction." Hughes' colleague, Cynthia Miller-Idriss, also of PERIL, recently penned an op-ed at The Atlantic arguing that far-right domestic extremism has now spread into the mainstream, and must be dealt with as more than simply a security and law-enforcement issue. It is no longer a matter of tracking specific organizations, but now a matter of radicalization by individuals "who are influenced by ideas online rather than by plots hatched by group leaders in secret gatherings," Miller-Idriss posits. It is now a public-health issue, she argues, and must be dealt with by a whole-of-society approach.

"We, as a society, are incredibly militarized, we're incredibly securitized, and so the solutions that we reach to, when we have a problem, are almost inevitably securitized or militarized and  contain some element of that securitization," Hughes explains today. "Our approach to extremism and terrorism is no different.  Certainly law enforcement and intelligence have a very important role to play here.  But it can never be more than a band-aid solution. As we see now, there aren't enough band-aids in the world to deal with the violence that this country is facing.  We really have to go deeper to the root causes of these issues."

Hughes cites the Biden Administration's proposal to incorporate the Dept. of Health and Human Services and the Dept. of Education into their initiative to take on violent extremism as "really, really critical. But even more critical is allocating resources to local communities.  The more locally we can distribute the necessary training, the necessary education, and the necessary funding to address radicalization before it even starts, the fewer of those security, and law enforcement, and militarized solutions that we're going to have to come up with in the future."

As we delve into details, we discuss ways that state and local communities must take on the issue as well. (The "seven minutes of reading to improve understanding of how radical ideas spread online," which we discuss as having helped some 750 parents and caregivers in a recent study by PERIL and the Southern Poverty Law Center is posted here.) We also discuss the paradox of how coming to a collective understanding of the effects of systemic racism in the U.S., as well as actions taken by social media companies to help curb the effectiveness of propaganda and far-right radicalism, can also serve to increase the "white rage" that new policies and new ways of facing this as a public-health issue are meant to counteract.

Hughes also shares his experience in working with former extremists and the "deep, deep sense of shame" and "horror" they ultimately experience after they come to terms with having been radicalized. "It just tears families apart. It absolutely ruins relationships as surely as drugs and alcohol do. This isn't just a matter of a person becoming a jerk. This is a question of a person blowing up their own life and the lives of the people around them." All of which is just part of the reason why we must rethink our approach to the problem as one of public-health.

As Hughes concedes, none of this is "going to change overnight," but there are ways that we can start taking action right now, particularly at the local level, where he urges people to get involved with their local school systems on this matter in order to prevent the radicalization long before it begins. "Request this kind of education, request these kinds of materials. Education happens at the local level in the United States, so it's really on all of us to improve things in our local communities."

I hope you'll tune in for this fascinating and insightful conversation...

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: Adam Green of Progressive Change Campaign Committee; Also: Gaetz' ex-girlfriend flipping on him, Trump's finance chief may flip on Trump, Trump may flip on everyone, including his own family...
By Brad Friedman on 5/21/2021 7:17pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Everyone in Trump World is now either flipping on everyone else in Trump World, or appears on their way to doing so. Including Trump himself Fun! Less fun: Democrats in Congress wasting their time in negotiations on Biden's bold Build Back Better agenda with Republicans who are decidedly not negotiating in good faith, as they made clear to everyone once again this week. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But first, the flippin' fun part of the show! Just before airtime, CNN reported that Rep. Matt Gaetz' ex-girlfriend is now said to be cooperating with federal investigators believed to be looking into the Republican Congressman from Florida's many alleged payments for sex and illicit sex trafficking of a minor.

And while Gaetz, Donald Trump's number one fan in Congress, is facing a world of trouble (and years in prison), so, of course, is Trump, as it appears to be getting hotter by the hour inside the Trump Organization. This week, we learned that the New York state Attorney General, Letitia James, who had been looking at civil violations of bank and tax fraud laws by Trump and his company, joined the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance's criminal investigation of many of the same matters.

The next day, we learned that Allen Weisselberg, the long time Chief Financial Officer of the Trump Organization --- beginning all the way back to when Trump's dad Fred was in charge --- is now facing his own criminal tax-related probe by the NY AG's office as well. That, as our guest earlier in the week, former Asst. U.S. Attorney Randall Eliason explained at the time, is a likely precursor to getting him to flip on his boss, the disgraced former President.

And the next day after that, Weisselberg's former daughter-in-law Jennifer --- who has announced that she's been cooperating with prosecutors for some time, after explaining that her former husband Barry (also a Trump employee) was often paid with free rent in expensive luxury apartments and some $500,000 worth of private school tuition for their kids --- believes that her former father-in-law, Allen, will absolutely flip on Trump to save himself.

That revelation came as Trump's own former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen --- who flipped on Trump long ago, as he earned federal prison time by pleading guilty to participating in a campaign finance hush-money conspiracy "directed" by Trump --- believes that Trump will eventually flip on everyone, including Allen Weisselberg, and even his own kids(!) if necessary, to save himself! "I think Donald Trump is going to flip on all of them, including his children," Cohen told MSNBC, adding: "I really believe that Donald Trump cares for only himself and he realizes that his goose is cooked."

It's all flippin' hilarious, in truth. We'll see if things continue to come crashing down on the former Criminal-in-Chief --- as they sure seem set to do, at this point --- in the coming days and weeks. Fun!

Less fun, unfortunately, is the continuing obstruction campaign being waged by Congressional Republicans, who laid bare their bad faith yet again this week, after spending months negotiating with Democrats on an evenly balanced January 6th Commission, only for GOP leadership in both chambers to then whip their members against it after the bipartisan deal was finally struck in the House Homeland Security Committee.

A similar pageant of bad faith negotiations have been underway for several weeks now with Republicans pretending they are interested in working with Democrats on Biden's $2.25 trillion infrastructure proposal, the American Jobs Plan, and his $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, to support "human infrastructure", such as child care, paid family leave and free daycare and community college.

We've seen this bad movie before. Just look back at the months that Dems spent "negotiating" with Republicans in 2009 and 2010 over the Affordable Care Act, when the GOP failed to offer a single vote in favor of the landmark healthcare law, even after winning all kinds of concessions from Dems to water down the plan.

Now, Democrats are finally saying enough is enough. At least some of them, who, Politico reports, are speaking up and calling for the Jobs Plan and Families Plan to be combined into a megabill and passed in one fell swoop under the Senate's Budget Reconciliation rules allowing passage of almost all of it with a simple majority vote. The only problem: Not all Dems are ready to do so, especially West Virginia's Joe Manchin, who is also not yet onboard with the Dems' sweeping proposal for election and campaign finance reform --- the For the People Act (or H.R.1 in the House and S.1 in the Senate) --- and the filibuster reform that would be required to pass it with just 50 Democratic votes.

Joining us to today to explain how Dems and progressives can possibly move forward through all of these obstacles is ADAM GREEN, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, who told Politico this week that: "The only two scenarios for Democrats are to go big or get nothing."

Green expands on those comments today, arguing that the process of negotiation going on right now is, by and large, meant to convince Manchin, and maybe a few other conservative Democrats, that there is only one real path forward to carry out Biden's truly ambitious progressive agenda.

"I think that there are two genres in working with Republicans," he tells me. "One, that hearkens back to the Obama era, where they really thought that Republicans were potentially willing to deal with them, and wasted a year and quarter negotiating with them before passing Obamacare. It wasted a lot of time that led to a lack of results by the 2010 election. And the lack of results meant low motivation for voters to turnout and vote, or vote Democrat."

"In this case, " Green continues, "I think we have a little bit of a different scenario, where most people understand the game. The game here is there are one or two Senate Democrats with that old mindset --- they genuinely believe Republicans will deal in good faith.  Everybody else is ready to get this done but has to play ball for a couple of months to make abundantly clear that these Republicans don't come in good faith."

Green also cites this week's last minute u-turn on the January 6th Commission as a perfect example, where the GOP had "pretty much of all of their demands met," only to see "Republican leaders coming out against it." That, he says, leads him to feel "hopeful that we're nearing the time when  even the Joe Manchins of the world realize that they did their best, but too bad, it's time to go it alone with Democratic votes and score big for the American people."

But even if Manchin is ultimately willing to agree to pass the infrastructure plans with a simple majority under Senate Reconciliation rules, is there ANY path that would allow for passage of other top Dem priorities like the For the People Act? That bill would almost certainly fail to meet Senate Parliamentarian muster to be passed under the same rules, so would somehow have to overcome a GOP filibuster to be adopted. An optimistic Green believes there is a VERY narrow path to make that happen as well, and he details how progressives in not just West Virginia, but every state, can help push Dems --- and Manchin --- through that narrow path. It includes, among other things, a new "Democracy exception" to Senate filibuster rules. Such an exception, he notes, could also allow D.C. to finally become a state in the bargain. As I said, optimistic!

Finally, we're always happy to end another mad week in these "United" States with another gem from the great Randy Rainbow, this one dedicated to all of the swell, not-at-all horrible Republican lawmakers in Congress. Enjoy!...

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Guest: Former Asst. U.S. Attorney Randall D. Eliason of GWU Law School; Also: Manchin's voting rights folly; Major fossil fuel supporting group says it's time to end new fossil fuel development...
By Brad Friedman on 5/19/2021 6:58pm PT  

On today's BradCast: In a bit of an earth-shaking statement issued to CNN late on Tuesday, which has echoed across the nation ever since, a spokesperson for New York's Attorney General said: "We have informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the company is no longer purely civil in nature. We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan DA." [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

The Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, has been running a criminal grand jury probe of our disgraced former President and his business empire for almost two years, looking into, among other things, allegations of major bank and tax fraud crimes. The New York Attorney General, Letitia James, has also been investigating some of the same allegations of falsely-inflated values of certain real estate holdings in order to receive loans, while Trump reportedly under-valued many of the same properties in order to pay lower taxes. That would be fraud. But, until last night, the NY AG's probe was understood to be looking at civil violations of the law, not criminal ones. That has all now changed.

We're joined today by former Asst. U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, RANDALL D. ELIASON who, while serving as AUSA, was also Chief of the Public Corruption/Government Fraud section at DoJ. He is now a professor at George Washington University Law School, a contributing columnist at Washington Post, and writes about corporate and white collar crime at his own Sidebars Blog.

Given today's news, we have a lot of questions for him, beginning with the most fundamental: What is the difference between a criminal and a civil investigation? "The most important difference," Eliason explains, "is in a criminal case, people can go to jail. Only in a criminal prosecution can somebody actually lose their liberty. Of course, criminal cases have the higher burden of proof, as well. You've got to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a unanimous jury. [In] civil cases the burden of proof is much lower, typically just a preponderance of evidence that you can establish the offense took place. So, civil cases can lead to hefty fines, but the stakes are lower, because at the end it's usually primarily about money. In a criminal case, you're talking about people possibly going to jail, and the stakes are much higher."

Beyond that, of course, we've got many more questions about the scintillating news out of James' office today:

  • Why would NY state's civil probe turn into a criminal one?;
  • If James' office has joined Vance's criminal probe, is her own civil investigation still moving forward at the same time?;
  • Why would the NY AG announce this new development publicly at all?;
  • Does anyone go to jail if a corporation is charged, rather than an individual?;
  • Why does it matter if the Trump Organization paid its longtime Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg and his sons (who are also employed by Trump) with free NYC apartments and private school tuition for their children?;
  • Why is it a concern for prosecutors that Trump's company spent millions on consultants, including to his own daughter Ivanka while she was already employed at the company?;
  • Are the various probes of Trump and his company taking longer than might be expected in cases such as these?;
  • If Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen was convicted and imprisoned by federal prosecutors for participating in a hush-money conspiracy "directed" by Trump, why hasn't Trump been charged yet for "directing" that criminal conspiracy not that he's no longer in office?;
  • And, with all of Trump's looming legal concerns that we currently know of --- from New York to Atlanta to Washington D.C. --- would Eliason be more surprised if Trump has NOT been criminally indicted by this time next year or if he has been?

As you might expect, Eliason has a lot of helpful insight on all those questions and others today!

Next, West Virginia's Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and Alaska's Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski joined forces this week to issue a letter calling on leaders of both parties in the House and Senate to move forward with a measure to repair the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that was gutted by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. "Inaction is not an option," they write, "Congress must come together."

The effort comes as Manchin is the only Democrat in the Senate to have not signed on as a co-sponsor of the For The People Act (known as H.R.1 in the House and S.1 in the Senate). That is the Democrats' critical, omnibus election and campaign finance reform bill that would, among MANY other things, end gerrymandering, mandate automatic voter registration and early voting and curb the use of dark money in political campaigns. But it does not restore the critical provision in the VRA, gutted by SCOTUS, that mandate pre-clearance by the Dept. of Justice of new voting laws in jurisdictions with a long history of racial voter suppression. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (or H.R.4) does that.

While Manchin is, so far, unwilling to support H.R.1, because he believes election reform bills must be bipartisan (all Republicans in the House voted against it, and all have opposed it so far in the Senate), this week's efforts with Murkowski seems to suggest he'd be open to support H.R.4, the John Lewis Act, or something akin to it.

I explain why that bill is currently on a separate legislative track from the For the People Act --- instead of simply combined with it --- and why Manchin appears to be under the absurd illusion that somehow at least ten Republican Senators would support any legitimate fix to the Voting Rights Act in order to allow such a bill to overcome a GOP filibuster in the upper chamber.

Finally, a "blockbuster" new climate report was issued on Tuesday by the International Energy Agency (IEA), a U.N. partner group that is traditionally, and notoriously, pro-fossil fuel. This report, however, offers a road map on how the world's energy needs can be met while still achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. As Desi Doyen explains, the plan mandates no new fossil fuel development beyond what is already in place. That's a stunning turnabout on its own from this particular agency, which also points out that we already have the technological innovation that is needed to achieve net zero in 30 years, but a significant portion of it is not yet ready (or is currently prohibitively expensive) for broad commercial use. Desi details the IEA's road map, what it signals, and what it will mean both politically and for the energy sector as the world continues to come to terms with our quickly worsening climate emergency...

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Guest: NRA expert and author Igor Volsky of Guns Down America; Also: Minors held in Border Patrol custody plummet 90%, media downplays; Trump kids still grifting tax-payer money from Secret Service detail...
By Brad Friedman on 5/5/2021 6:54pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the end sure seems nigh for the indescribably corrupt, terrorist-supporting National Rifle Association, after some big news out of a federal courtroom in Texas this week. If it's too soon to discuss the news, I hope they'll understand that we're sending them our thoughts and prayers. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of summary.]

But first up, some more good news today, even if you'd be forgiven if you hadn't noticed, given the lack of media coverage. The Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, announced this week that the Biden Administration has "drastically reduced" the number of unaccompanied minors being held in Customs and Border Patrol facilities by nearly 90% over the past month. From almost 6,000 at the end of March --- when much of the non-wingnut corporate media had taken their cues from the wingnut media to declare a "Biden Border Crisis!" --- to fewer than 600 children held in CBP cages as of Tuesday. After covering the "crisis" in breathless headline after breathless headline at Washington Post over the past month, the paper noted the good news in an 8 paragraph squib that is almost impossible to find amid a long blog page of Tuesday news items, and comes days after both CNN and NYTimes and others (though probably not Fox "News") had already noted the development.

Then, some more news that --- given everything else going on --- has flown a bit under the radar. Amid the NRA's ongoing bankruptcy trial in federal court in Texas, a U.S. Dept. of Justice official from the U.S. Trustees office --- which enforces federal bankruptcy law --- has told the judge she opposes the gun group's petition for Chapter 11 protection. The unusual declaration may all but quash the NRA's hopes of going into bankruptcy in a corrupt scheme to avoid legal accountability in New York. State Attorney General Letitia James sued the NRA last August to dissolve the state's 150-year old "charitable" organization, due to wildly corrupt violations of the state's charter for non-profits. The NRA had hoped to receive bankruptcy protection from the federal government in order to duck the suit by closing shop in NY and reestablishing themselves in Texas, which apparently welcomes cartoonishly corrupt "non-profits" with open arms. (With a state Attorney General who is currently under indictment himself for state felony securities fraud and facing a broadening FBI criminal probe for corruption of his office, that should come as little surprise.)

The latest NRA news, of course, was a stunner to the group as it was revealed in court near the end of their trial this week. It also comes on the heels of another series of mass shootings in recent months. But good luck finding any news in recent years that doesn't. It does underscore, however, the absurd scam that the NRA's Wayne LaPierre has been pulling off against his own duped members for decades now (with millions of dollars in expensive vacations, hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on fancy suits, sweetheart contracts for himself and his friends, all on the NRA's dime) and the far worse con that they've been pulling off on the American people in their corrupt, willful misinterpretation and lies about the 2nd Amendment.

The late, conservative U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger knew about it. He said during an interview in 1991, the 2nd Amendment had been "the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud on the American public by special interest groups that I have seen in my lifetime." The current Chief Justice, however, may be willing to play along with that fraud in an upcoming NRA challenge, just accepted by the Court last week, that may upend more than 100 years of state gun laws barring weapons carried outside of the house without a permit.

We're joined today to discuss all of that --- and how, and if, Joe Biden and the Democrats can possibly take action on gun safety legislation in this environment --- by IGOR VOLSKY, author of Guns Down: How To Defeat The NRA And Build A Safer Future With Fewer Guns. He is founder of Guns Down America, and details today the astonishing news emerging from the NRA's attempt to escape accountability in NY, while suggesting that this may really be the end for the NRA gun lobby as we know it.

He accused me "understat[ing] the kind of revelations we've heard from the bankruptcy trial, in which Wayne LaPierre, NRA board members and many other top NRA officials admitted to many of the just jaw-dropping allegations that were made against it by the NY Attorney General. Just to underscore, one the admissions that really stunned the courtroom was the current NRA president admitting that she shred and burnt documents because she feared they could be used against the organization."

"The great fear, according to insiders, that at least Wayne LaPierre has, is that the next wave of charges are going to be criminal and that he's going to find himself in an orange jumpsuit," Volsky reports.

"They also took a very unusual approach for an organization that claims they can no longer pay their bills," he says. "They publicly said they're as strong as they've ever been, they're still the nation's premiere gun rights organization, but that they were simply using this maneuver in order to get outside of the New York Attorney General's jurisdiction and move to Texas, where the laws are much weaker. That's not how one uses bankruptcy. That's not the way bankruptcy law works." It's also very likely another violation of the law.

So, what do its members think of all of this? And who will replace the NRA if they really are shut down for good? Those are among the separate questions we discuss as well, along with much more related to this topic.

Finally, speaking of rightwing grifters, good government group Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW) has obtained records from the Secret Service, suggesting that, while Donald Trump may no longer be in office, he is continuing to steal a whole lot of tax-payer money for himself and his company. While the children of most Presidents no longer receive Secret Service protection after a new President is sworn in, before leaving office, Trump signed off on protection for his kids and three top appointees for and additional six months. Those kids do a LOT of travel and spend a LOT of time at Trump-owned properties --- in Bedminster, NJ, Palm Beach, FL, and Briarcliff, NY, to name a few --- and when they do, guess who receives tens of thousands of dollars from the Secret Service for accommodations?

Yup. The Trump grift never ends...

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Guest: Accountable's Lizzy Price on holding corporate CEOs to account for hiring Trumpers; Also: Trump loses Impeachment lawyers; Callers ring in on whether Biden should compromise with GOP on COVID bill...
By Brad Friedman on 2/1/2021 6:27pm PT  
NOW CELEBRATING THE BRAD BLOG'S 17th ANNIVERSARY!
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Our ongoing parallel coverage on The BradCast of the insane former President and the not-insane current President continues today, as one faces a decision whether to compromise with Republicans on COVID relief, and the other continues to dig his own grave even deeper while facing still more accountability for his disastrous Presidency. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But first up, as COVID vaccinations get shut down in the Northeast due to a monster winter storm, anti-vaccination protesters and rightwing Trump-supporting extremist in sunny Los Angeles over the weekend temporarily shut down COVID vaccinations at Dodger Stadium. Because they are jackasses.

Speaking of jackasses, Donald Trump lost all five of his impeachment defense attorneys on Sunday, just days before his historic second impeachment trial is set to begin next week in the U.S. Senate --- this one, for "Incitement of Insurrection" at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. The five, actually respectable attorneys, quit Team Trump, reportedly, because the former failed President insisted his impeachment defense should include his false claims that the election was stolen from him. The lawyers wanted to stick with the false argument that an Impeachment Trial after a President is out of office is somehow unconstitutional. But, no worries! Trump has reportedly replaced two of those attorneys already, with one who represented now-deceased sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein and another who, as a state prosecutor in Pennsylvania, refused to file criminal charges against convicted sex predator Bill Cosby. Trump's new attorneys should be a match made in heaven for the disgraced former President and accused sex predator himself.

In the meantime, the accountability continues for Trump's business, as a New York Supreme Court Justice on Friday ordered the Trump Organization to turn over even more documents related to the ongoing civil bank and tax fraud investigation being carried out by the state's Attorney General. That probe is running parallel to a similar criminal investigation by the state prosecutor in Manhattan, into the 45th President's allegedly fraudulent activities. Trump continues to lose in court in virtually every single one of his challenges to both probes.

And, accountability continues at the same time for some of the thousands of those in the MAGA Mob who attended the U.S. Capitol insurrection, even if they didn't (apparently) join those breaking into the building to try and overturn the 2020 election. Just ask Mark Hastings, the CEO of an online bartending supply company who proudly posted his "Stop the Steal!" selfie from outside the Capitol on his Facebook page. Customers are now said to be leaving BarProducts.com in droves. He has since deleted the selfie, for some reason.

But while Trump is facing accountability, as are his supporters who attacked the U.S. Capitol, what of those officials in his Administration who quietly and dutifully served him for years as he separated immigrant children from their parents, helped killed hundreds of thousands by opportunistically treating COVID as a hoax, and incited an attempted insurrection?

Last week, non-partisan government watchdog groups Accountable.us and American Oversight launched a new campaign called CorporateComplicity.org to hold American corporate CEOs to account for hiring former senior Trump Administration officials. Accountable's LIZZY PRICE joins us today to explain the campaign, and the difference between the "cancel culture" Republicans are now whining about --- now that some are finally facing a few consequences for their actions --- and accountability. (Answer: None. Also, the irony of GOPers whining about "cancel culture" after years of boycotts against those with whom they disagreed politically, is laughable. Especially just days after the Arizona GOP voted to "cancel" (censure) their own Republican Governor Doug Ducey, their own former Republican Senator Jeff Flake, and even the late John McCain's wife Cindy for daring to oppose overturning the state's lawful election of Joe Biden last November.)

"There are three real fundamental foundations to this campaign. One, no one is guaranteed a cushy job just because they served in the Administration.  Two, actions have consequences.  And three, staff at any organization reflects their [organization's] values. We're trying to make it very clear to companies that your staff reflect your values. So to hire the architect of these harmful, anti-democratic policies and rhetoric is to be complicit in that, to take that on as your corporate identity," Price explains. "So we want to make that sure corporations really think hard about doing that."

"This isn't about 'cancel culture.'  It's about what kind of behavior and what kind of policies that you reward. Corporations have a part to play in making sure that Trump is not normalized. If these officials are welcomed back into high-profile jobs, it only encourages more bad behavior."

And what does the campaign plan to do, if companies ignore their friendly warning [PDF]? "We're saying, look, if you won't vet your candidates, we will.  And we'll use any tool in our toolbox to make sure the facts are out there," Price tells me.

Finally, we close with calls from listeners ringing in one whether they'd like to see President Biden compromise with Republicans on his proposed $1.9 trillion COVID relief package in order to see it passed with bipartisan support via regular order in the U.S. Senate, instead of by a simple majority vote under the Budget Reconciliation process. On Monday, the new President was meeting with 10 Republican Senators who proposed a $600 billion package on Sunday night --- about a third of the size of Biden's --- offering much less relief for the American people.

So, should Joe and the Dems move ahead with the much-needed package they ran and won on (including $1,400 relief checks for those making $75,000 or less) or a smaller package (with just $1,000 checks for those making $50,000 or less) to keep his promise of reaching out to try and find compromise with Republicans? Callers have a few thoughts on that, and we are with almost all of them...

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Guest: The Prospect's David Dayen on Biden out of the starting gate and Senate dysfunction; Also: House to transmit Impeachment on Monday; Trump's empire continues to crumble; and a prescient Jon Stewart...
By Brad Friedman on 1/22/2021 6:27pm PT  

It's only Day 3 for the Biden Administration, but it feels like Donald Trump has been gone for months. And that feels fantastic. On today's BradCast, we catch up with the new President's flurry of Executive Actions since taking office and the GOP's attempt to continue Senate dysfunction, even with Democrats now (theoretically) in the majority. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Also today, some news on Donald Trump's upcoming second Senate Impeachment Trial, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces plans to transmit Trump's latest Article of Impeachment --- for "Incitement of Insurrection" --- to the upper chamber on Monday. And we've got more good news on Trump's crumbling empire, with more banks and law firms having dumped the toxic former President and his company following his incitement of the attempted U.S. Capitol insurrection by MAGA Mobsters on January 6.

We're joined today by progressive financial journalist and author DAVID DAYEN, Executive Editor of The American Prospect and author of its new, daily, FIRST 100 newsletter. Dayen, whose magazine has devoted no small amount of the past year toward detailing a progressive Day One Agenda for the new Democratic President, offers his take on President Biden's first (less-than-half) week in office, the corporate media's curious adjustments in covering a new Administration, and Mitch McConnell's attempt at delaying the full turn over of the Senate to Democrats.

While he remains cautious this early in the Administration, Dayen notes that he has been pleased, so far, with their "unwillingness to get caught up in a Fox News game of worrying about 'optics'" and indications that Biden, to date, is "not going to get sucked into a deficit hawk argument."

After a year covering the COVID crisis for his magazine, Dayen also offers a prescription for how to get both new relief checks and vaccine shots to the American people as quickly as possible while Republicans balk at Biden's critical $1.9 trillion COVID relief proposal and even attempt to stymie a power-sharing deal in the 50/50 Senate unless Dems agree to not do away with the democracy-stifling legislative filibuster.

So far, Dayen observes, Senate Democrats appear unwilling to give up the leverage of potentially doing away with the filibuster. "There's nothing in it" for them, he says, adding "Schumer has been insistent that he's not going to take that deal." There's a bit more good news to end your week for now.

Finally, we close a remarkable and historic week --- the last one to include Donald Trump as President of the United States (was that still this week?!) --- with some prescient thoughts from Jon Stewart, as shared with Steven Colbert just 11 days into the then-nascent but already-exhausting Trump Administration, from January 31, 2017...

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Biden launches 'wartime effort' to tackle vaccine, testing and economic disaster left behind by Trump; Also: QAnon conspiracy followers sad, racist Proud Boys mad. Both abandoning Trump...
By Brad Friedman on 1/21/2021 7:05pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Now that the new Administration is actually inside the White House, the extent of the unspeakable mess left behind by the previous occupants are only just now beginning to come to light. [Audio link to show follows summary below.]

When it comes to the still-worsening COVID crisis --- just one of the several crises left for President Biden to clean up in the wake of the unprecedented failures of the Trump Administration --- apparently it's all much worse than feared. There was, reportedly, no coordinated effort in place at all to deal with national distribution of vaccines, nor to deal with the difficult task of safely reopening schools and businesses in hopes of reviving the still-worsening economic crisis that Trump and Congressional Republicans also left behind for the new Democratic Administration to clean up as well.

After yet another Democratic President is left to clean up yet another economic disaster following yet another Republican Administration, one might wonder why it is that Americans and many in the media continue to falsely suggest the GOP is the party of fiscal responsibility, when they are clearly the complete opposite. I've got a thought or two today on how that scam continues, year after year after year, despite actual facts to the contrary.

Among the many stories covered on today's program, as the "clean up on aisle 45" gets under way on the first full day of the new Biden Administration...

  • The new, weekly jobless claim numbers from the final week of Trump's Presidency are out today, and they are horrendous. Since the crisis began last March, for the 44th week in a row, they once again are hundreds of thousands of applications higher than the worst-ever week during the Great Recession. (Ya know...the last time a Dem Prez had to save the economy after a Republican Administration destroyed it.);
  • Perhaps you can take some comfort in the fact that at least Trump's own businesses are tanking as well, thanks to his fatally horrific decision to pretend the coronavirus was a hoax and to do nothing about it --- other than to make it far worse than it should have been;
  • Biden's first full day clean-up also included firing a number of wingnut Trumpers who had burrowed in at several Executive Branch agencies. One of them is the top lawyer at the National Labor Relations Board who is decidedly anti-labor!;
  • Meanwhile, in the nether-reaches of the Internet, there is much sadness, confusion and despondency. Adherents of the ridiculous QAnon conspiracy theory --- who believe that Democrats and "deep-staters" are secretly baby-eating, satanic, pedophiles (oh, like they're not!) and that Trump, as a super-genius, had a secret plan to round them all up, arrest them in mass and execute them at the Inauguration, before reclaiming his rightful second term --- are disappointed today for some odd reason and have reportedly "lost all hope". Turns out that, after none of that actually happened, as promised by "Q" for years, the QAnon dupes and stooges are only now beginning to realize they may have been played for suckers all along;
  • Also newly disappointed of late by their former hero, Donald Trump, is the rightwing racist street gang Proud Boys. Following Trump selling them out after the January 6th U.S. Capitol riots, many in the extremist hate-group seem to have decided the former President is a "shill", "extraordinarily weak" and "a total failure". (SAD!);
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with more news on Biden's efforts to clean up and reverse scores of anti-environmental regulations and actions taken by the previous Administration, and on renewed hopes for the revival of real climate action by the U.S. Government...if a few questionable Dems in the Senate play along...

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Guest: Progressive columnist, broadcaster Richard 'RJ' Eskow on Trump's bitter end, Biden's difficult new beginning, America's challenges ahead...
By Brad Friedman on 1/19/2021 6:17pm PT  

It's our final BradCast with Donald Trump still serving as President of the United States! Though it's likely to take a while before the stink fully dissipates. [Audio link to the show follows below the summary.]

The soon-to-be-former President is said to have been in a foul mood all weekend (SAD!) as he prepares, reportedly, to announce as many as 100 or more last minute Presidential Pardons. Reporting today suggests he will not issue pardons for either his family or himself (or even for the under-indictment Steve Bannon or the reportedly under-federal investigation Rudy Giuliani). Color us dubious about that, however.

The failed President's mood was undoubtedly not brightened by Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, who --- while convening the Senate for what is likely his last full day as Majority Leader --- declared that Trump "provoked" the violent attack and riots at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. That may not be a good sign for the disgraced man who will face an Impeachment Trial in that same Senate in coming days, as the first ever twice-Impeached President.

The fact that few wish to show up to send Trump off from Joint Base Andrews on Wednesday morning, or that tons of A-List stars are showing up for Joe Biden's inauguration, probably hasn't made Trump any less bitter. So at least America can be happy about that. Trump did release a video today in which he bid "farewell" to the nation (promises, promises), and --- without mentioning Joe Biden's name --- said out loud that there would be a "new administration" as of Wednesday.

That may still come as a shock to many of those gullible supporters of his to whom he's spent the last several months lying about that fact. But since he's been banned from Twitter, according to new research, misinformation about the election has plummeted on social media sites, along with hate speech and calls for violence. Go figure.

Still, as Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris held a moving memorial service for the more than 400,000 Americans killed by COVID-19 thanks to Trump's delinquent response, the streets of D.C. are otherwise locked down tight today in advance of Wednesday's inauguration.

We're joined from D.C. today by progressive columnist and broadcaster RICHARD 'RJ' ESKOW of The Zero Hour to discuss a whole bunch of related stuff. Our conversation ranges from the on-edge mood in the nation's capitol on the eve of an unprecedented Inauguration Day lockdown to Eskow's concerns about Big Tech's muzzling of political viewpoints (even Trump's) to questions of accountability for the outgoing President and to what the former health insurance executive and senior writer for Bernie Sanders' 2016 campaign thinks of Biden's cabinet selections and stated agenda to date.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our last Green News Report of the Trump Presidency, with some good news on Biden's economic recovery plan and his intention to reverse a host of environmental rollbacks by the previous Administration; some good news on the zombie Keystone XL pipeline, and; some very good news from the courts, late today, regarding the Trump EPA's failed attempt to allow coal-fired power plants to continue to pollute and contribute to deadly global warming.

Yes, it's the end of an error...with a lot of cleaning up to do in the days, weeks, months and, sadly, years ahead. But at least we will soon have all of that to look forward to, with the nation's worst ever President, hopefully, becoming nothing more than a terrible terrible memory...

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Also: Another Schadenfreude Update as Trump's empire crumbles...
By Brad Friedman on 1/14/2021 6:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Donald Trump's Big Lie(s) continue to pose a terror threat, even as his world is crumbling. [Audio link to show follows summary below.]

On Wednesday, during the debate in the U.S. House over Donald Trump's second impeachment, a number of GOPers argued that the bipartisan call for accountability in response to the President of the United States inciting a terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol last week would only serve to make matters worse. A number of Trump's defenders charged that if the Congress that was attacked by his MAGA Mob attempted to hold him to account it would be too "divisive" and anger his supporters at a time that the nation needed "unity" and "healing".

At the very same time, according to Greg Sargent at Washington Post today, a number of U.S. intelligence agencies, including DHS and DoJ, issued a memo warning that Trump's Big Lie about a "stolen election" was serving as the driving force for "Domestic Violence Extremists" (DVEs) who pose a serious threat of further violence in coming days.

Nonetheless, few of those Republicans in the House pretending to be concerned about dividing the nation further were willing to say the one thing that might actually "lower the temperature": That Joe Biden won the election fair and square according to all available evidence and that Donald Trump lost it in the same fashion.

Phony GOP concerns about "divisiveness" not withstanding, their refusal to do the right thing by debunking Trump's ridiculous claims that the election was stolen, rather than play along with them, has resulted in news that the National Mall in D.C. will now reportedly be closed entirely for the first time during a Presidential Inauguration due to the threat of domestic terrorism.

Trump's Big Lie about the election is not the only one. Some of the House Republicans on Wednesday were attempting to rewrite reality by claiming that Trump, at his MAGA Mob rally before the insurrection at the Capitol, did little more than "urged attendees to, quote, unquote, peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard. There was no mention of violence, let alone calls to action." That was the claim made by Pennsylvania's lying Rep. Guy Reschenthaler. Reality --- and actual evidence --- prove otherwise, as we do as well on today's program. Given that Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate on this very matter awaits, it seems wise to get a jump on this newest Big Lie.

But, as dark as this moment may be for the safety of Americans and future of American democracy, there is still plenty of Trump Schadenfreude News to be enjoyed today. Including the fact that Trump is reportedly "isolated and angry at aides for failing to defend him" during his second impeachment; his approval ratings have plummeted 11 points since December; and New York City is joining a growing list of those cutting ties to the disgraced Trump. As his Trump Organization empire begins to crumble, he is already losing millions of dollars worth of business from those who regard his brand as too toxic to get anywhere near at this point. And things are likely to get much much worse for him in the days ahead.

All of that and much more, with gusto, on today's program, before we close with some accountability news when Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report...

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Staring down --- and making sense of --- Trump's cowardly threats against a peaceful transition and to democracy itself; Also: Accountability coming soon for Trump Family in NY; And, yes, even TX is now in play...
By Brad Friedman on 9/24/2020 6:27pm PT  

On today's BradCast: He wants you to be frightened. He wants to terrorize you. Don't let him. Vote instead. [Audio link to today's show.]

The fact that time is running out for the Trump Crime Family and their decades of fraud in New York --- as Eric also clearly knows --- is probably not helping, but Donald Trump is getting desperate. Hence, his refusal to commit, when when asked about it during a press briefing Wednesday at the White House, to a peaceful transfer of power after this year's Presidential election.

His excuse? "The ballots are a disaster...Get rid of the ballots....The ballots are out of control." While many have been discussing the disturbing options that some Republican controlled states may consider using to override the ballots by having their legislature select Electors to the Electoral College this year in defiance of voters, that's probably not what Trump was talking about yesterday when pretending "the ballots are out of control!"

He has been complaining for months about states that are automatically sending absentee ballots to all active registered voters this year. He is pretending this is "out of control" and a "scam" by Democrats to somehow steal the election. In fact, as we break down on today's show, Trump's complaints are, themselves, a scam.

In short, 5 states (Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Utah and Hawaii) have long sent all voters absentee ballots, whether they request one or not. Of those, only Utah is a so-called "red" state, and none of them are seen as anywhere close to likely to flip their Presidential vote from the way they voted in 2016. So, Trump is almost certainly not complaining about those five states.

But this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic that Trump failed so disastrously to control, 5 other states (California, Vermont, New Jersey, Montana and Nevada) will also be sending mail-in ballots to all voters. Of those, the first three are very reliably Democratic states in Presidential elections. Trump won Montana by some 20 points in 2016. So, of those five, only Nevada (whose Republican Secretary of State is in charge of the election) could be considered, in any sense, a swing-state --- though it hasn't elected a Republican nominee for President since 2004, and a new Fox "News" poll out this afternoon shows Trump trailing Joe Biden there by 11 points.

If somehow, magically --- due to some imagined massive Democratic fraud --- both Montana and Utah suddenly flipped to Biden this year, but Trump managed to hold all the same other states he won in 2016 (none of which have instituted universal Vote-by-Mail this year), Trump would still win the Electoral College.

So what is he pretending to be so bothered by? Actually, nothing. He is simply desperate to win and, as his chances of doing so are dwindling, he's desperately grasping to pretend there is a massive Democratic scheme to cheat him out of that win with universal Vote-by-Mail. There isn't.

But make no mistake, he will do nearly anything to come up with a way to get a "win" --- as long as it's other people who will risk their lives for it. That, of course, is also why he is hoping to further pack an already stolen, 5 to 3 rightwing U.S. Supreme Court, and why he is signaling that there may not be a peaceful transfer of power in the event that he loses.

Despite his threats, Trump is a coward. Bullies want you to be afraid of them, when, in fact, they are terrified of you. As well he now should be.

This nation is about to be tested in a way that we haven't seen since at least the Civil War. But, as we discuss today --- and in agreement with both Nancy Pelosi's and Bernie Sanders' responses today to Trump's Briefing Room thuggery --- the solution is the vote. An overwhelming landslide of a vote, which is now completely possible if we all step up and do our duty to save this democracy. To paraphrase Barack Obama: Yes, we can!...But will we?

We will find out over the next six weeks...and beyond. We offer both advice and encouragement to that end on today's show.

Also today, just a few more reasons for Trump's increasing panic, in addition to the New York State Attorney General and the Manhattan District Attorney both quickly closing in on Trump Organization crimes in two separate probes: A federal court this week tossed out the Trump/RNC lawsuit in Nevada seeking to block their Vote-by-Mail election, despite legislation adopted by the state legislature and signed by its Governor; And the news that even Texas could now be in play, with a record 1.6 million newly registered voters, Democrats spending millions on TV ads in a state long previously considered to be a Republican state, the Biden Campaign hiring on-the-ground staffers, and CBS' latest Battleground Tracker poll finding Trump leading Biden by just two points in a state that hasn't elected a Democratic nominee for President since 1976. Oh, and Republicans appear so frightened about what could happen if voters are allowed to cast their votes in Texas this year, that a bunch of them are suing their own Republican Governor to roll back his tepid expansion of Early Voting in response to the coronavirus.

Finally, Desi Doyen has quite a bit of "big" and, yes, very good news for us today (for a change) in our latest Green News Report...

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Guest: Aklima Khondoker of All Voting is Local; Also: Hurricane Laura to slam Gulf Coast; White vigilante arrested for killing Kenosha protesters; Trump's violations of law at RNC Day 2 reveal 'The Audacity of the Grift'...
By Brad Friedman on 8/26/2020 7:16pm PT  

On today's BradCast we head back to Georgia --- yes, again! --- for yet more new evidence highlighting the state as offering arguably the worst --- and most racist --- voting system in the nation. But we begin with breaking news today. Too much of it. [Audio link to full show is posted at bottom of summary.]

First up, Hurricane Laura is now a monster storm, currently a Category 4, and headed for landfall near the Texas/Louisiana border. The National Hurricane Center warns it will be "unsurvivable" and could submerge entire towns near the coast, with a storm surge as high as 20 feet and a menace to cities as far as 200 miles inland. A massive evacuation is now under way in both states, though avoiding the COVID pandemic in evacuation shelters may be very tricky, even as some areas in the storm's target zone have recently seen high positive test rates.

In Kenosha, Wisconsin, where protests continued for a third straight night following the outrageous police shooting, caught on tape, of African-American father Jacob Blake, two protesters were killed by a gunman on Tuesday. The alleged shooter, according to police, is a white 17-year old police fan boy from across the border in Illinois. Tuesday's shootings were also caught by cell phone video, not long after the suspected gunman was seen on video with a group of armed vigilantes being thanked by local police for their presence. After he had shot at least three protesters and was identified to police by others, the cops reportedly allowed him to walk right past them, assault rifle in hand, as they focused on the victims instead. The man was arrested today in Illinois.

Then --- after still more breaking news that the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks were boycotting their playoff game today to protest the shooting of Blake, leading the NBA to cancel all of tonight's playoff games --- we get to what necessarily became our truncated coverage of Day 2 of the Republican National Convention.

It was a stunning evening, in which one law after another was proudly broken or flaunted as the White House, U.S. Marines, the Acting Sec. of Homeland Security, a tax-payer funded trip by the Sec. of State to Israel, and the Presidential Seal were all used for political purposes, during the convention itself, so that Donald Trump could ironically be declared "the Law and Order President" by one hypocritical speaker after another.

Among the speakers were Trump's daughter Tiffany, his wife Melania and his son Eric who followed former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi making the case --- with a straight face --- that Joe Biden's family members were involved in some sort of criminal nepotism. Trump's son Eric, who serves as Executive Vice President for his father's company, was sued this week by the New York State Attorney General for failing to respond with documents and testimony to a lawful subpoena amid an investigation into bank and tax fraud by his father and the Trump Organization where Eric works. All of that as Trump's senior economic adviser Larry Kudlow pretended that the COVID pandemic --- which has so far killed at least 178,000 Americans, including more than 1,100 on Tuesday alone --- was over, thanks to Donald Trump's quick response.

As usual, all of these nightmares underscore the need to prevent Trump from winning a second term. But it won't be easy, as we learn again today with yet another story of targeted voter suppression out of Georgia. We have spent a disproportionate amount of time in recent years on this program reporting on the disastrous state of voting in Georgia. It is thought possible that the battleground state could finally flip to "blue" for this year's Presidential election and its TWO U.S. Senate races, but it continues to feature arguably offer the worst voting system in the nation.

By way of very quick summary of just a few data points to back up that allegation:

  • In 2016, after a huge purge of voters from the roles, we would learn after the Presidential election that Georgia's then Republican Sec. of State, now Governor, Brian Kemp, left the entire voter database and passwords to its voting systems unprotected online for download by anyone. When caught, he lied about it and wiped the entire server despite an ongoing lawsuit.
  • In 2018, a federal judge found the state's nearly 20-year old, unverifiable, easily-hacked touchscreen voting systems, mandated for use at the polling place in every county, to be outdated, insecure and unverifiable.
  • In that year's election, overseen by Kemp himself, he was narrowly found (by those same failed systems) to have "won" the Governor's race in a contest that his Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams, regards as illegitimate due to, among other things, the purges and disproportionate rejection of absentee ballots cast by African-Americans.
  • Also in 2018, some 250,000 votes in the Lt. Governor's race inexplicably disappeared in black precincts.
  • In 2019, the federal judge ruled the state's voting system so insecure and unverifiable that they were, in fact, unconstitutional. She banned them from further use and ordered the system to be replaced by a new one.
  • In 2019, the new Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger ordered new, similarly unverifiable, easily-hacked touchscreen voting systems to replace the old systems found to be unconstitutional, rather than move to a cheaper, VERIFIABLE, hand-marked paper ballot system recommended by voting and computer experts. The new $130 million systems failed in their first outing late last year and again during primaries this year, leading to hours-long voting lines in the Peach State, once again, largely in minority areas.
  • And we would also later learn that the new digital optical-scan computers used to tally hand-marked absentee ballots in the Peach State had skipped counting unknown thousands of votes during the June primaries, due to a software setting that allows election officials or the private voting system vendor or even hackers to dial up or down the sensitivity setting to determine which votes are counted or not.

All of which brings us to this week, as the Georgia chapter of All Voting Is Local unveiled a new analysis of rejected vote-by-mail ballots from the June primary elections in the state. You'll be shocked to learn that in the three counties they examined, the mail-in ballots from black voters were rejected at disproportionately higher rates than others. For example, in the Atlanta suburb of Cobb County, Black voters submitted 24 percent of the absentee ballots requested but accounted for 38 percent of mail-in ballots rejected by the County.

We're joined today by AKLIMA KHONDOKER, former ACLU attorney, now Georgia State Director for All Voting is Local, to explain her group's analysis and why the rates of absentee ballot rejection are so high for black voters in Georgia and, to a lesser extent, Hispanic and Asian voters as well. Khondoker warns that while the group only looked at three counties in Georgia --- finding similarly alarming statistics in each --- the problem likely extends not only to the rest of the state, but likely to many others around the nation.

"I don't think this is unique to Georgia. This is likely something we would see nationwide," she argues, citing the "institutional and structural racism that has led to the wealth of problems that we see in our elections. There is no way to cleave the two. Because we have a clear system that has always worked for one and not the other." She goes on to explain how this new analysis is just one more data point underscoring evidence that institutional racism "undercuts everything in our election systems."

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Also: Trump is in for big legal trouble in NY too; Economy heading over a cliff as White House, Congressional Republicans dither...
By Brad Friedman on 8/6/2020 6:41pm PT  

Michelle Obama says that quarantine, racial strife and the "day in and day out" "hypocrisy" of the Trump Administration has left her wrestling with "low-grade depression". We know the feeling and suspect you do as well. But, as we noted almost four years ago here on the BradCast, we're all going through this nightmare together. We said we'd be here with you throughout, and we still are. And we will come through this together. [Audio link to show is posted below the following summary.]

All of our stories today are today's top story. And we couldn't even get to all of them. But we tried. Among those stories...

  • Ohio's Republican Governor Mike DeWine tested positive today for the coronavirus just minutes before he was to meet with the President. Lucky for him --- and the President --- that everyone who meets with Donald Trump must be tested first. If we were all only as lucky as the President; Trump was in Ohio today to sing the praises of the "economic prosperity" his Administration has brought to the nation (and attend a fund raiser for his reelection). [UPDATE POST-SHOW, 7:49p PT: A more sensitive test finds DeWine negative for COVID-19 after all!]

  • That "economic prosperity", according to the Labor Department today, includes another 1.2 million Americans who newly filed for unemployment last week. It was the 20th straight week with more than one million new jobless claims. Before the pandemic, the all time highest number of weekly jobless claims was 695,000. More than 31 million Americans are now out of work as they enjoy Trump's "economic prosperity" as the GDP fell a record annualized rate of nearly 33% in the second quarter. It took three years of the Great Depression before we even got close to an annualized negative 30%. During the Great Recession, we only ever topped out at about negative 8%. Other than that, how about all that "economic prosperity" thanks to Donald Trump?!;
  • As bad as things are, they are likely to get much MUCH worse, unless Republicans in Congress and at the White House get their act together and quickly. The $600/week expanded unemployment payments from an earlier COVID emergency relief bill for those 30 million or so unemployed Americans has now expired. The moratorium on evictions has also ended. But Republicans and the White House are still unable to put together a new relief package that can pass Congress. Democrats in the House already adopted a $3 trillion package to extend unemployment, the eviction moratorium, and give hundreds of billions to cash-strapped states, cities and hospitals, not to mention the U.S. Postal Service months ago. Tens of thousands of deaths later, however, we're still waiting on the GOP and the Administration to take action. How many will be homeless, starving or dead before they do?;
  • In some brighter news --- at least for those who weren't suckers enough to donate money to the con-artists at the terrorist-supporting National Rifle Association --- New York state's Attorney General Letitia James sued the NRA on Thursday, charging massive financial fraud by its leaders and seeking to dissolve the once-powerful, now wholly corrupt 150-year old organization. James' civil suit details a gobsmacking amount of corruption and unlawful self-dealing by the NRA's leader Wayne LaPierre (pictured above) and four other top officials. It alleges the "non-profit's" executives diverted tens of millions of dollars to themselves for lavish personal vacations and other personal expenses, no-show contracts for associates --- including family members and girlfriends --- and even secret contracts created for themselves. LaPierre is alleged to have hidden millions of dollars in personal income from the IRS in the bargain. James is seeking to shutdown the organization's charter as a non-profit organization established in New York, and to bar the executives for life from holding any major role in any charitable organization. Donald Trump said today that he thinks the matter is "a very terrible thing"...for the NRA, an ally of his, as opposed to the millions of Americans who have been ripped off by rightwing political group of grifters;
  • But James' announcement today may just be a preview of wait awaits Trump himself (along with his associates and family members) down the road. While James already shut down Trump's own so-called "charitable" organization for similar fraud and self dealing, and the President was forced to cough up $25 million dollars just after his 2016 election to settle fraud complaints against his "Trump University" scam, the worst may still be ahead him. The New York Times revealed on Wednesday night that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. successfully subpoenaed Deutsche Bank last year --- one of the only banks willing to loan him money --- for years of financial documents from the Trump Organization. Trump had sued both Deutsche Bank and his accounting firm Mazars USA to prevent them from turning over financial records in response to subpoenas from Congress, and sued Mazars to prevent them from giving similar tax-related statements to Vance --- successfully stalling the prosecutor, who now has clearance from SCOTUS to pursue that subpoena. But Trump apparently failed to prevent Deutsche Bank, which loaned him some $2 billion over the years, from responding to the subpoena from Vance. The documents now reportedly in the DA's possession are believed to reveal that Trump vastly and fraudulently over-inflated his personal assets (we know, doesn't sound like him at all, right?) Last week, Vance argued before a federal court that Trump's tax records were needed from Mazars as part of his investigation into public reports of "extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization." Given that we have now learned Vance already has many of Trump's financial documents from the German bank, it sounds like the District Attorney knows exactly what he expects to find in the rest of the documents he is seeking;
  • Finally today, after some quick and disturbing news from NOAA about this year's already-record Atlantic Hurricane season on what we are now likely to see over the next four months as it continues, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report. It, too, is chock full of quick and disturbing news....but also some very encouraging news here and there and wherever else we can find it...

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Guest: Maya Worman of Univ. of Chicago Harris Cyber Policy Initiative; Also: Trump facing big trouble in NY; Callers ring in on the VEEPStakes...
By Brad Friedman on 8/3/2020 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Elections are under threat once again this year, and not just from the President of the United States. But one group of cybersecurity experts launched a new initiative on Friday to try and help --- and not a moment too soon. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, what suffices for some good news today: The Manhattan District Attorney seeking 8 years of Donald Trump's tax records and those from the Trump Organization suggested in a court filing today that his investigation requires those documents since he is examining "extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization...dating back over a decade." Until today, the office of Manhattan District Attorney District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. had indicated only that he was probing the hush-money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal before the 2016 election. Those payments were meant to keep them quiet about affairs with Donald Trump.

Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen is serving a three year sentence for his part in that criminal campaign finance conspiracy which both he and federal prosecutors say was "directed" by Trump himself. But today's court filing makes clear that Vance's probe goes far beyond that. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court said that subpoenas of Trump's financial services institution by the Grand Jury impaneled by Vance were permissible, though they sent the case back to a lower court for one more review, delaying any potential state prosecution of Trump or his associates likely until after the election. Now we have some confirmation that Vance's state investigation (which is immune to Presidential pardon power) appears much broader than previously publicly known.

In other accountability news, a 17-year old from Tampa, Florida was arrested on Friday, accused of being the mastermind behind a scheme last month that commandeered the Twitter accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and other high-profile politicians, CEOs and pop stars. The conspiracy --- two others were also arrested, including a 19-year old from the UK and a 22-year old from Orlando --- was an attempt to scam more than $100,000 in Bitcoin out of gullible people who followed the Twitter accounts of those celebrities, which were taken over by the alleged perpetrators.

As we've observed before, if multi-billion dollar social media companies such as Twitter, which spends huge sums of money on cybersecurity, can't keep their systems safe from hacks like this, what chance does Mr. and Mrs. Local County Election Clerk have in protecting their computer voter registration databases, electronic pollbooks, computerized voting systems and computer tabulators this November? That effort is made all the more impossible this year thanks to the expansion of Vote-by-Mail in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the refusal of Republicans in Congress to appropriate the $4 billion that election officials across the country have been seeking for months in hopes of expanding election systems and protecting it from cyber-intrusion and other related failures this year. The federal government --- via the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) --- offers extremely limited support for the nation's 13,000 independent voting jurisdictions.

But with just over 90 days until Election Day now, a new initiative is being launched out of the University of Chicago Harris Cyber Policy Initiative called the Election Cyber Surge. The initiative, according to its Executive Director MAYA WORMAN, who joins us on the show today, is to bring volunteer cybersecurity and voting systems experts together with local elections officials to help them with whatever cyber-related problems or concerns they may be facing before the election. The hope, she explains, is to help prevent cyberintrusions and ransomware attacks and the like before they happen.

"The need is clear," she tells me. "I think it's increasingly more obvious to those who aren't following this closely, who aren't following this beat. That, in itself, is a strong indicator that we are needed. ... It's not just voter rolls. It's not just the output of the machines, but all of the things in between, including maps of where all of your polling place might be, the hours that they're open, what the deadlines are to register, the information you need once you get there --- all of this stuff can be tweaked just slightly. That could affect the major portion of the voters in any given jurisdiction."

Given the enormous complexity of today's voting and counting systems --- not to mention often-interconnected voter registration systems and electronic pollbooks --- the free help offered by Cyber Surge is likely to be invaluable to thousands of local jurisdictions who may have limited, if any, IT support and a lack of access to cybsersecurity experts. Though we are now just three months out from this year's critical Presidential election (mail-in ballots will go out and early voting will begin in as few as 45 days in some places), Worman says she is confident that the new initiative --- born out of DefCon's "Voting Village", a hacking conference where white-hat hackers have been successfully trying their luck on various voting systems since 2017 --- will prove helpful to myriad election officials who, too often, rely only on private voting systems vendors for support.

"More than 50% of all election officials rely on at least 6 different vendors," Worman observes. "I think there's obviously an expectation that the people with whom they are doing business will not lead them astray, and maybe they won't. But when you have so many different, overlapping tools and systems and a network, and it's all being fed by an antiquated database that is protected who knows how, that is where vulnerabilities from having multiple vendors comes in."

Worman, and (hopefully) cavalry of experts aim to help. And quickly. The effort will be more necessary than ever this year given the necessary changes being made to voting during the pandemic and, thanks to Republican intransigence in Congress, a lack of financial resources to pay for it. "The days of making sure that the room where the ballots are kept is locked --- we're far beyond that now. So a reality check that is gentle, but based in reality, is critical," she warns, adding: "Without sounding too trite, I think staying positive is key here. I think it is very clear that there are more people who want our elections to work than who don't want them to work. And that's important to remember."

Finally, on a somewhat lighter note today, we open up the phone lines to listeners for their thoughts on a) who they would like to see presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden choose as his Vice-Presidential candidate and b) who those same listeners fear he will actually name. Some of the responses from callers may surprise you!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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