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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, September 26, 2022
'Gold Standard' SCOTUS Poll Finds Majority of Americans Support Expansion of High Court: 'BradCast' 9/26/22
Also: Disinformationists; Fascism rising; Hurricane Ian threatens FL; Callers ring in...
Sunday 'Heavy Traffic' Toons
Be sure to check PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons before crossing state borders. You're welcome!...
Trump, Lindell, Ginni Thomas --- Geniuses All!:
'BradCast' 9/22/22
GOP election conspiracists have bad lawyers; Also: Garland's moving (and telling) remarks at swearing-in of new American citizens...
'Green News Report' 9/22/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
U.N. Sec-Gen wants fossil fuel industry to pay up; New plastics initiative; Puerto Rico still lacking power and clean water; PLUS: Senate approves first climate treaty in decades...
Recent GNRs: 9/20/22 - 9/15/22 - Archives...
It's National Voter Registration Day!
(Who Knew?): 'BradCast' 9/20/22
Also: Beer shortage?!; More on DeSantis' migrant scam; Electoral Count Act reform news; Good (and bad) news for disabled voters; Much more...
'Green News Report' 9/20/22
Simultaneous storms, in Puerto Rico, Alaska, Japan; Climate change juiced Pakistan floods; Aussie energy turnabout; PLUS: Plastics plant blocked in LA...
Kidnapping is a Crime. Will DeSantis Be Held Accountable for It?: 'BradCast' 9/19/22
Also: Media still pulling punches on GOP; Elizabeth finally buried, so will CNN finally cover weekend's THREE hurricane landfalls?!; Plus, callers!...
Sunday 'Pawn' Toons
Make your move to PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
Reagan's Big Government Gift to Big Pharma is Still Giving, Killing: 'BradCast' 9/16/22
Guest: Ernest A. Canning; Also: Trump's failed GA election theft; NH GOP Sen. nom flip-flops on 2020 denial; Patagonia gives away company to save planet...
More Good News for Ds; More Fraud Accountability for Rs: 'BradCast' 9/15/22
Biden approval up, strike averted; Trump NY fraud; Feds probe Lindell CO fraud; Fraud probe of MI GOP A.G. nom; NY Election Commish charged w/ absentee vote fraud...
'Green News Report' 9/15/22
U.N. says world in 'uncharted climate territory'; Summer 2022 hottest ever; Clean energy will save world $12 trillion; PLUS: Biden touts IRA, national EV charging network...
'Groundbreaking' Victory for CA's Half-Million Fast-Food Workers: 'BradCast' 9/14/22
Guest: TAP's Harold Meyerson; Also: Rail worker strike looms; Noteworthy primary results from DE, RI, NH...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Also: Beer shortage?!; More on DeSantis' migrant scam; Electoral Count Act reform news; Good (and bad) news for disabled voters...
By Brad Friedman on 9/20/2022 6:38pm PT  

Today's BradCast starts off with a show-stopper! Everything else thereafter, well, you'll decide for yourself. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

On today's program...

  • Since it's, apparently, National Voter Registration Day today (yes, that's a thing), we thought we'd celebrate by starting off with a fantastic new lyric rewrite video from the cast of Broadway's Hamilton. They've updated a song from the show called "The Election of 1800" to a new version called "The Election of 2022" to raise awareness of the importance of voting this year. Their effort is in partnership with Michelle Obama's When We All Vote and Vote Riders. But for help in registering to vote, checking to make sure your registration still exists (and is at the address where you actually live), and for information on the type of ID required to vote where you live, I recommend either the DNC's IWillVote.com app or the federal government's Vote.gov. Both sites allow you to check your registration or register to vote without having to give information to a third party. And, since merely voting is no longer enough, we are officially enlisting you to spread the word to others on all of this! Ask your friends, co-workers, neighbors etc., if they are registered to vote; help them do so, if not; make sure they get to the polls to vote by November 8 this year, etc. etc. Yes, it's that important this year!
  • There is a weird beer shortage looming! Why? Lack of carbon dioxide due to contamination at an extinct volcano in Mississippi. Yes, I realize that sounds bizarre --- especially given the deadly over-abundance of CO2 in our atmosphere, causing our deadly climate crisis --- but, well...tune in for the full bizarre explanation.
  • On yesterday's program, we detailed some of the apparent federal criminal statutes, such as kidnapping, that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis seems to have violated when he shipped 48 Venezuelan migrants from San Antonio, Texas to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts on behalf of the state of Florida. We noted that requests had been made to the MA Attorney General U.S. Attorney's office in the state to investigate whether laws were violated. But shortly after airtime yesterday, news broke that Bexar County (San Antonio), Texas Sheriff's office has opened a criminal investigation into the matter. Good news!
  • As to what actually happened --- versus what DeSantis is claiming --- TPM's Josh Marshall has been trying to do some digging, after first noting that the initial story "Doesn't Add Up". Why did DeSantis hunt down migrants in Texas seeking asylum to entice (with false promises) to go to Massachusetts? Are there no migrants in Florida that could have been similarly abused, since the Florida state legislature has set allocated some $12 million to use to transport migrants out of the state (as opposed to out of the state of Texas)?! Who is this mysterious "Perla" character who has been identified as having recruited the migrants and organized luxury corporate jets to fly theme to MA? And, though the Florida Governor and Presidential hopeful is refusing to offer specifics, what clues can be gleaned about all of this from some of the statements that he has made, referencing a "contractor" or "vendor" who seems to have been hired for all of this, rather than government workers. In other words, what the hell is really going on here?
  • Then, in some election law related news today, the House January 6 Select Committee Vice-Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) and committee member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) detailed proposed reforms to the Electoral Count Act, over the weekend. The Committee, they explain, hopes to make it more difficult in the future to steal elections via the Electoral College, as Donald Trump attempted to do on January 6, 2021. The new measure, officially introduced by the Committee in the House on Monday, is called the Presidential Election Reform Act. It would clarify the role of the Vice President on January 6 as purely ministerial; increase the number of Representative and Senators required to challenge any state's Electoral College votes; offer legal options to Presidential candidates in the event that a state fails to certify its Electoral Votes (as a number of GOP candidates for Governor and Sec. of State this year have said they would have done in 2020, had they been in office at the time); and prevents state legislatures from changing the rules for determining election results after the election has already started. The House measure is similar to one recently introduced by a bipartisan group in the Senate, and would need to be reconciled with that version if both versions are successfully brought to a vote in each chamber.
  • Some good news --- and some troubling news --- for disabled voters. New voting restrictions adopted by Republicans in several different states have made it literally impossible for some disabled voters to vote at all without breaking the law. For example, a Wisconsin law had mandated that nobody other than the voter him or herself could place an absentee ballot in a mailbox. That means that those without use of their arms --- such as voters suffering from advanced multiple sclerosis or who may have been injured --- might not be able to vote absentee at all. A recent federal court victory in WI will at least allow disabled voters in that state to receive assistance when casting their ballot. But several other states, such as Kansas, Iowa, Kentucky and Missouri, still have measures in place that could make it impossible --- and/or illegal --- for some disabled voters to vote at all in 2022 and beyond.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as three major storms made simultaneous, catastrophic landfall in Puerto Rico, Alaska and Japan over the weekend; a new report finds climate change made Pakistan's recent catastrophic flooding much much worse; better news in Australia where the nation, until recently controlled by climate change deniers, is finally moving to reduce carbon emissions; and, in Louisiana, a court has blocked the construction of a massive, toxic plastics plant in area of the state known as "Cancer Alley"...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Media still pulling punches on GOP authoritarianism; Queen Elizabeth finally buried, so will CNN finally cover the weekend's THREE hurricane landfalls?!; Plus, callers!...
By Brad Friedman on 9/19/2022 5:49pm PT  

Well, that was a lively BradCast today. Especially the caller segment! Please tune in! [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

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

  • Despite a bizarre, very much Nazi-like rally in Ohio held by our former President over the weekend, mainstream corporate media are still pulling their punches in calling out the Republican Party for having gone full bore authoritarian at this point under their far-right MAGA cult leader Donald Trump. Democracy itself is now very much at stake in this nation, and we really need a professional media corps which isn't afraid to start acting like it, calling it out, and reporting it to the American people.
  • While the death and funeral of Queen Elizabeth in Great Britain has received virtual wall-to-wall coverage from outlets such as CNN since her death 11 days ago, three major climate change-fueled hurricanes made landfall over the weekend. Puerto Rico had its power knocked out island-wide by Hurricane Fiona (almost 5 years to the day since Hurricane Maria did the same), with as much as 30 inches of rain falling catastrophically in some areas. In Alaska, remnants of Typhoon Merbok resulted in the state's most intense storm in 50 years, leading to widespread flooding across a thousand miles of coastline. And, in Japan, over the same weekend, Supertyphoon Nanmadol resulted in widespread flooding and power outages, while clocking in as the fourth most intense typhoon to make landfall in the nation's history. As Desi Doyen reports today, all of those storms were super-charged by our warming climate and all seemingly quite newsworthy. Then again, Queen Elizabeth died 11 days ago, so...ya know.
  • As you have heard by now, Ron DeSantis, Florida's ambitious Republican Governor, has taken credit for coercing 48 migrants from Venezuela, who were lawfully seeking asylum in San Antonio, Texas, onto to two chartered private jets to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. Neither the people of Martha's Vineyard, nor even the state's Republican Governor, were notified in advance before the migrants were left stranded. While DeSantis claims the migrants boarded the planes "voluntarily", a brochure, obtained by Popular Information today, citing "Massachusetts Refugee Benefits," appears to have falsely informed the migrants that they would be eligible for "8 months cash assistance," "assistance with housing," "food," "clothing," "transportation to job interviews," "job training," "job placement," "registering children for school," "assistance applying for Social Security cards," and more in MA. That brochure, according to attorneys for 30 of the 48 migrants, is now evidence of a crime --- specifically, as former life-long Republican attorney Keith Barber describes, the federal crime of kidnapping (18 U.S.C. § 1201).
  • So, what will or should be done about DeSantis' apparent political stunt that actually appears to have been a pretty straightforward federal crime? Will he be held accountable by MA's Democratic Attorney General or by the U.S. Dept. of Justice? Callers ring in with their thoughts (several of whom, by the way, support DeSantis' crime!), on today's very lively program!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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: Alissa Jean Schafer of Energy and Policy Inst.; Also: OAN deathwatch; Trump's CNN 'Big Lie' threat; Stewart slams GOP Senators...
By Brad Friedman on 7/29/2022 6:41pm PT  

On today's BradCast: When you're a monopoly power company --- especially in Florida --- they let you do it, I guess. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

Before we get to the massive scandal(s) unspooling this week in Florida, a few other notes about corrupt media and corrupt power brokers. Donald Trump's favorite "Big Lie" fake news network, One American News (OAN), looks to be on the brink of going out of business, after Verizon joined AT&T to stop carrying their programming this weekend. Sad! At the same time, Trump is threatening to sue actual news network, CNN, because they repeatedly reported on his "Big Lie" attempts to steal the 2020 election. Good luck with that.

Then, it's on to the mind-blowing story out of the Sunshine State this week, where a leak of thousands of documents from a consulting firm in Alabama, has revealed all sorts of corruption by Florida Power & Light (FPL), the state's monopoly public utility company. The Florida papers are having a field day as they comb through the documents, publishing damning exposé after damning exposé on the dirt they are finding, which goes all the way up to FLP President and CEO, Eric Silagy, who, according to our guest today, incredibly enough, still has his job!

The documents were released amid a power battle over Montgomery, AL-based Matrix, LLC, a "powerful but little-known political consulting firm that has operated behind the scenes in at least eight states," according to the Guardian. They reveal a boatload of corruption by FPL, its CEO and many of its executive, including running "ghost candidates" in elections, mounting disinformation campaigns to maintain their monopoly (for example, to oppose residential solar power in the Sunshine State!) and secretly taking over pretty much full control of an "independent", right-leaning "news" site in Tallahassee called The Capitolist.

The website (which is still online, also incredibly enough) has been influential for years among Florida lawmakers. Its editor and founder is a guy by the name of Brian Burgess, the former Communications Director for FL's former Governor, now U.S. Senator Rick Scott. According to a deep dive from the Miami Herald, Burgess was being paid some $12,000 a month by FPL --- via a web of third parties cut-outs, including the consulting firm Matrix --- to publish its propaganda, push its preferred (sometimes fake) candidates, and ruthlessly attack its opponents, including both elected officials and reporters who dared publish stories the power company didn't like.

For insight into this (these) still unfolding scandal (scandals), we're joined today by ALISSA JEAN SCHAFER, the FL-based Research and Communications Manager for the Energy and Policy Institute, a non-profit "watchdog organization working to expose attacks on renewable energy and counter misinformation by fossil fuel and utility interests". Her organization certainly has its work cut out for it with this gobsmacking "web of scandal," as Schafer describes it.

"If you are a Floridian," she notes, "you have no choice who your power company is. We are in a monopoly market. So if you have Florida Power & Light, you're stuck with them. You're paying that bill every month. If you're seeing these headlines, I don't know understand how you can NOT be furious."

"It's kind of a crazy state. People like to make fun of us," concedes Schafer. "But at the end of the day, there are a lot of folks that are being impacted by this nonsense. We have elections coming up, and how are people supposed to know that their votes aren't being manipulated by these fake candidates that are being propped up by dark money. It's a very real concern."

Among those fake candidates, as the Herald reports, was one who was "running" against state Senator José Javier Rodríguez, who proposed legislation to allow landlords to sell cheap rooftop solar power directly to tenants. "I want you to make his life a living hell … seriously,” wrote FPL’s CEO Silagy in a 2019 email to two of his vice-presidents. They then ran a third-party candidate with the same last name as Rodriguez, who split the vote. The state Senator was pushed out of his job by just 32 votes. FPL's "ghost candidate" later admitted he had been bribed to put his name on the ballot.

There is a lot to discuss today with Schafer on all of this, including how FPL is claiming they broke no laws; their ridiculous claim that rate-payer money wasn't actually used to hoax rate-payers through these schemes; and how The Capitolist's editor Burgess is able to claim with a straight face that he has "never pitched nor solicited feedback from FPL executives on any story or business venture" and has "never received a story pitch from any FPL executive." (Of course not. That's what Matrix was for! And they were in near daily communications with FPL execs, according to the leaked documents.)

"If we take a step back and look at our investor-owned utilities across the country, whether they are working with Matrix or not, this is a playbook that we do see time and time again," Schafer explains. "You have a consulting firm as the middle-man to do some of the dirty work, because utilities don't want their name on it. They want to be able to say, 'I never spoke to XYZ.' They can say that because they spoke to the consultant who then spoke to XYZ. You have similar trends of setting up shell companies to pass money through, so that it looks like the utility is just being a utility and not actually a political operative."

Finally today, Mitch McConnell is apparently furious at being out-foxed by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on this week's surprise agreement with Sen. Joe Manchin for a major tax, healthcare and climate deal called the Inflation Reduction Act. McConnell and his fellow Senate Republicans decided to take it out on sick combat veterans who were exposed to deadly chemicals and toxic burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan by voting against healthcare protections for them. Former Daily Show host and actual supporter of America's veterans, Jon Stewart, had a word or two for those Republican Senators at the Capitol on Thursday morning, including: "If this is America First, then America is fucked."

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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And why SCOTUS has given us no choice but to elect Democrats in 2022 to save democracy itself in 2024...
By Brad Friedman on 7/11/2022 5:55pm PT  

We had a bunch of excellent callers on today's BradCast. It sounds like many of them heard my warning today. Hopefully you will too. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up, on our first show after taking several much-need days off last week, we catch up with just a few of the most noteworthy items from what turned out to be another very busy news week. Among those items...

  • the Independence Day mass shooting in IL;
  • the popular and political uprisings resulting in agreements by both British Prime Minister Boris Johnson as well as Sri Lanka's Prime Minister and President to resign;
  • the horrific assassination of Japan's longest-serving Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (in a nation where just one person, out of population of 125 million, was killed by a gun in 2021);
  • the excellent jobs and unemployment numbers released by the Labor Department last Friday (and, as usual, ignored by the bulk of the corporate media due to everything else);
  • the good news that Rudy Giuliani, Sen. Lindsey Graham and 5 others who served as attorneys for Donald Trump in 2020 have now been subpoenaed to testify by the Special Grand Jury in Atlanta, convened by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, in her criminal investigation of the disgraced former President's attempt to steal Georgia's election in 2020.
  • All of that in advance of another public hearing to be held on Tuesday by the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee probing the Jan. 6 insurrection and Trump's multiple failed attempts to steal the election from Joe Biden and the American voters.

Then, its back to the issue that I haven't been able to get out of my head since we previously WARNED about it on our last show before taking a break. Specifically, the corrupt, extremist, illegitimate U.S. Supreme Court's announcement that they intend to hear Moore v. Harper next term, in a case that will give the stolen and packed far-right Court majority the opportunity to undermine American electoral democracy as we know it. That is not an overstatement.

If you thought what the Supremes did at the end of this past term --- ignoring the text of the Second Amendment in order to block states' rights to well-regulate firearms; stripping away previously protected Constitutional privacy rights and reproductive freedoms to overturn Roe v. Wade; all but ending Constitutionally-required Miranda Rights for those detained by law enforcement; further eroding what's left of our Constitutional separation between Church and State; and gutting the ability of the EPA to regulate carbon emissions driving our deadly climate crisis, as mandated by Congress --- well, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

As explained, SCOTUS is now set to undermine any and all elections laws for federal elections enacted by state Boards of Elections, Secretaries of States, Governors, state constitutions, state Supreme Courts or even ballot initiatives adopted by voters themselves. The corrupt Republican Court is likely to do this by declaring that Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution mandates that state legislatures --- and only state legislatures --- may determine laws regarding the "manner" of federal elections. Specifically of note in 2024, the way each state appoints Electoral College votes, as the Constitution says, "in such Manner as the Legislature therefore may direct".

In other words, in 2020, while most swing-states had rules, laws and state Constitutional mandates in place declaring that voters shall determine who will win the state's Electoral votes, an opinion by the Court, likely to come as early as 2023 in Moore v. Harper, will free up the gerrymandered GOP-controlled state legislatures in our nation's half a dozen or so swing-states to name anybody they like as the winner of their Electoral College votes, no matter what the Governor, state Courts or, crucially, the voters of those states have to say about it.

It's called the "Independent State Legislature" theory (or doctrine, as the GOP autocrats supporting it describe it.) As we noted in our last show on this, this is not a drill. This is very real, and now even very likely to happen.

While we were away, our friend and colleague Thom Hartmann posted a chilling Twitter thread on the ISL theory/doctrine, detailing just one potential scenario --- which includes thousands of dead bodies in the streets --- which he describes as not "just plausible" but now "probable".

We agree. Thus, we explain the importance of electing Democratic majorities in 2022 in both the U.S. House and Senate as our only hope of defeating this "probable" scenario. If 52 Democrats can be elected in the Senate and the Party is able to hold the House (both tall lifts), then the possibility of filibuster reform in the upper chamber and the expansion of the Supreme Court in order to unpack and uncorrupt it becomes a reality.

As discussed on today's show, the luxury of pretending that "both parties are equally bad" is over, as I see it. And not because I give a damn about protecting Democrats, but because I believe we must protect --- indeed, SAVE --- democracy itself at this point.

Anyway, please tune in for a very lively, if occasionally chilling hour, along with some really great calls from listeners on all of this in the second half...

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

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

Among our many stories covered today...

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

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

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

Among the stories covered today...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prepare for it to get worse...

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Don't be afraid to keep your mask on! Also: Twitter bans climate change denialist ads. Will 'free speech absolutist' Musk keep the ban in place?...
By Brad Friedman on 4/26/2022 6:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast: When the hot debates die down, the liars, of late, having been trying to claim (false) victory. Let's not let them, shall we? [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

We're seeing a lot of that in recent days when it comes to, for example, Russia's help for Donald Trump election in 2016 (yes, it actually happened, despite the disinformed denialists now opportunistically claiming otherwise) and, as we focus on today's program, on those pretending that the CDC and other public health officials had it all wrong about COVID. They didn't. And just because we're all really sick and tired of the continuing pandemic and discussion of COVID in the news has largely been overtaken by other pressing matters, the deadly virus is still killing hundreds of Americans each day. That, after nearly 1,000,000 Americans were killed over the past two and half years. Please don't let the anti-mask and anti-vaccine bullies mislead or cow you.

We never enjoy being the bearer of bad news (it just seems to be our lot in life of late), but a new COVID sub-variant of Omicron, known as BA.2.12.1, is apparently the most transmissible yet, and it is quickly rising across the nation (and world). Some facts you may want to know about that today, why you should get your shots if you haven't already, and why you shouldn't bow to pressure from anyone to not wear a mask indoors if you damned well feel like it.

Also, the Vice President tested positive today. Thankfully, because she is double-vaccinated and boosted, she is, so far at least, said to be asymptomatic. Many others are not quite as lucky, particularly the unvaccinated, many children, and, in particular, those who live in states run by Republicans like Florida Governor and Presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis. He is still turning up the heat on his lies that critics of his failed COVID policies --- the state banned mask mandates and forced schools to remain open when they shouldn't have --- were wrong, and that he was right.

Well, if death rates in states like Florida and Georgia last year, which were two to three times those in blue states per capita, are considered to be "right", then I guess I'm glad I don't live in such states. But I'd still like to help those who do. Yes, as Axios reported late last month, based on then-new CDC numbers, "America's political divisions are now on display in mortality rates."

Sadly, Florida, with its more than 73,000 COVID deaths, is a perfect example. As Axios Tampa Bay reported, "Death rates in Florida and Georgia (more than 200 deaths per 100,000) were much higher than in states with largely vaccinated populations such as New York (112 per 100,000), New Jersey (73 deaths per 100,000), and Massachusetts (50 per 100,000)." And, based on data comparing deaths that would normally be expected, "Between August and December 2021, Florida experienced more than triple the number of excess deaths (29,252) as New York (8,786), despite both states having similar population counts."

That didn't stop DeSantis, during his State of the State address earlier this year, from lying to his constituents: "We would not allow fear or politics to harm our kids. We were right and they wrong and millions of families in Florida are better for it." Sure. Unless you count the tens of thousands of Florida families mourning the unnecessary loss of their loved ones thanks to DeSantis' deadly lies and horrific COVID policies.

In other news of note late last week, on Earth Day, Twitter announced a long overdue policy banning advertisements purchased to push climate change denialism. We'll see if they actually carry it out. But, perhaps more of note, since Elon Musk's $44 billion purchase of the social media company was announced on Monday, it will be interesting to see if the self-proclaimed "free speech absolutest" and CEO of Tesla, the company almost single-handedly responsible for kicking off the planet's electric vehicle revolution, will keep the ban in place as he takes the company private to use as his own personal plaything. (P.S. The entire story of Musk's purchase of Twitter serves as still more evidence that taxes are way way too low for rich people and corporations!)

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for a chocked-full-o'-news Green News Report, as we try to get you all caught up with all of the climate related stuff of note that you missed while we dared take a much-needed Spring Break last week...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The President takes on Big Oil, 'Putin's price hike' at the pump; DeSantis' new voting law struck down, found unconstitutional, racially motivated...
By Brad Friedman on 3/31/2022 6:53pm PT  

We cover two big stories in depth on today's BradCast. One out of the White House which effects the world. The other out of Florida, which effects the rest of the nation...or, at least, it should. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

President Biden, on Thursday, announced that he is releasing one million barrels of oil, per day, for the next 180 days, from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve in hopes of lowering gas prices for Americans in response to what he described as the "Putin Price Hike".

In addition to the unprecedented release from the Reserve, Biden called out Big Oil companies for keeping prices high (previously known as war profiteering) as they see record profits and pad the pockets of investors and executives, even as Putin's war inflates prices on global energy markets. He also called on Congress to pass a "Use it or Lose it" law that would charge a fee to oil and gas producers who are sitting on as many as 9,000 unused drilling permits on more than a million acres of land, as prices rise for Americans at the pump.

At the same time, Biden announced his plan to invoke the Defense Production Act to encourage American production of minerals that are needed for electric vehicle battery production.

We share the President's remarks today at the White House and Desi Doyen helps us unpack what it all means --- for gas prices and for our climate crisis.

Next, the big news out of Florida. A federal judge on Thursday struck down parts of a new state law that makes voting much harder for many in the Sunshine State, finding it unconstitutional and racially motivated. Moreover, he invoked a key provision of the Voting Rights Act to prevent more such measures for the next ten years.

FL's Senate Bill 90 was adopted by the state's Republican legislature last year in the wake of Donald Trump's evidence free claims about fraud in the 2020 election. That, despite Florida's claims that the election was well run and free of fraud or other problems. The new law limits the use of drop boxes; adds more ID requirements for those requesting absentee ballots; restricts who may collect and drop off ballots; further restricts third-party voter registration; and makes it a crime to give voters food or water to voters as they wait in line to cast their ballot, among other restrictions challenged by the League of Women Voters of Florida and other voting rights advocates.

In his 288-page order [PDF], U.S. District Court Judge Mark Walker slammed parts of the measure as racially motivated and little more than a law enacted "to improve the Republican Party's electoral prospects." His ruling quotes Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. throughout, while asserting that plaintiffs "allege that SB 90 runs roughshod over the right to vote, unnecessarily making voting harder for all eligible Floridians, unduly burdening disabled voters, and intentionally targeting minority voters --- all to improve the electoral prospects of the party in power...Having reviewed all the evidence, this Court finds that, for the most part, Plaintiffs are right."

But the most noteworthy element of this story is that Judge Walker also invoked a little used provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act to "bail-in" the state of Florida to the VRA's preclearance requirement for the next 10 years. That provision, used against repeat violators of the VRA, will force the state to obtain approval from the U.S. Dept. of Justice or a three-judge federal panel before new voting laws that may have a racially disparate effect on voters can be implemented.

As UC-Irvine election law expert Rick Hasen described the ruling as "quite a blockbuster" and a "a huge deal." He told the New York Times, "This is an opinion that full throatedly reads the Voting Rights Act in the expansive way that Congress intended it to be read, and essentially dares the higher courts to overrule it." He also believes that "conservative 11th Circuit or the Supreme Court" is likely to do so, even though "the district court's analysis is probably right."

Florida Republicans are furious. Gov. Ron DeSantis calls the ruling "performative partisanship". The State's Republican Senate President calls it "highly unprofessional, inaccurate, and unbecoming of an officer of the court." That, as the League of Women Voters celebrated the ruling against "an anti-voter measure that raised barriers to voting with specific impacts on elderly voters, voters with disabilities, students, and communities of color."

"State legislatures everywhere should recognize that anti-voter laws like SB 90 violate the fundamental rights of their constituents," said the LWV's Chief Counsel, adding: "We call on legislatures around the country to stop making laws that impede the rights of the people they are elected to protect and serve."

Naturally, Florida Republicans say they intend to appeal, and many think that our right-leaning federal appeals courts and/or our corrupt U.S. Supreme Court will overturn Judge Walker's landmark ruling. For now, however, it's a critical one that should be echoed against many of the intentionally discriminatory laws that have been adopted by GOP-controlled states over the past year.

We explain what it all means and why it matters on today's program.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us again for our latest Green News Report, recorded today before Biden's big White House announcement (though we anticipated it). We also detail Europe prepares for energy shortages, Poland's decision to ban Russian energy imports and much more, including a major milestone for solar power!...

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Guest: 30-year Florida elections Supervisor Ion Sancho; Also: More signs of new COVID variant rising; Russia's war crimes against Ukraine continue; Fox 'News' journalists killed while reporting on war...
By Brad Friedman on 3/15/2022 7:11pm PT  

As difficult as it has historically been to recruit competent, non-partisan election officials and pollworkers, a new survey suggests its about to become much worse. As we discuss in detail on today's BradCast, that is thanks, in no small part, to persistent threats by Trump's MAGA Mob against local election officials in the wake of his Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him. It's made even worse by state GOP officials translating that lie into new laws that further undermine America's democratic experiment. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But FIRST UP today, a quick follow up underscoring our reporting on yesterday's program, warning about the rise of a new COVID variant (known as BA2, or "stealth Omicron" or "Deltacron") that many seem to be wanting to imagine away. Also several quick updates on the latest news from Russia's relentless bombing and war crimes against Ukraine, as peace talks inch forward, and as at least two Fox "News" journalist are confirmed to have been killed outside of Kyiv.

THEN, on to our main story today. In recent months, Reuters has been unfolding a series of excellent investigative reports on the various, horrific threats issued against election officials by those who bought into Trump's evidence-free claims that the 2020 election was stolen. But GOP state lawmakers have been ignoring those menacing threats and using the Big Lie to create actual legislation allowing them to purge dedicated, non-partisan election officials --- including Republicans seen as not Republican enough --- from their roles and replacing them with partisan operatives.

Brennan Center's recent survey of local election administrators finds that, more than a year after the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol, one in six officials say they "have experienced threats because of their job." More than half of respondents are "concerned about the safety of their colleagues"; 30 percent "know of one or more election workers who have left at least in part because of fear for their safety, increased threats, or intimidation"; and, perhaps most troubling, 20 percent of them now plan to leave their jobs before the 2024 election, with many "citing political leaders’ attacks on a system they know is fair and honest as one of their top reasons for leaving."

Meanwhile, many officials who would like to continue in their jobs are being pushed out thanks to new laws allowing partisan County Commissions in Georgia, for example, to replace longtime Board of Elections officials like Georgia's civil rights icon Helen Butler (who we interviewed about this late last year) in Morgan County, and 27-year Floyd County Board of Elections veteran Vanessa Waddell, who, with the entire Board in the deeply Republican County, was removed from her post, as documented by WaPo yesterday. That, even after she successfully oversaw last year's U.S. Senate runoff elections in the state amid persistent death threats that resulted in some officials in her office deciding they needed to come to work with pepper spray and stun guns to stay safe.

Leon County, Florida's now-retired 30-year veteran Supervisor of Elections, ION SANCHO, is furious about all of this. He joins us today to discuss these growing threats to our teetering American democracy. Sancho, who retired in 2016, is one of our nation's great election officials. He was so well-regarded by his peers, of all political persuasions, that he was tapped to oversee the wildly contentious and eventually-aborted 2000 Presidential recount in Florida. He was also a central figure in HBO's landmark, 2006 Emmy-nominated documentary, Hacking Democracy, detailing the first public hack of a computerized voting tabulator.

What is going on today, he explains, makes him both angry and deeply concerned about American democracy. "Election officials all over the country, irrespective of partisan affiliation, have been tragically attacked because of our ex-President's lie. The most horrible lie about our elections, frankly, in my lifetime," he tells me, adding that it makes his "head explode".

"It's not being dealt with at all. That's why election officials are subject to the most vile attacks, because the supporters --- the cultists, if you want to call them that --- believe that election was stolen, and this is such a bald-faced lie. It's a tragic lie. It's a stupid lie. And it demonstrates the ignorance of the American citizenry about our elections."

Sancho argues that "we are in the process of destroying a model of non-partisan election administration that has taken decades to build."

"Most election officials are administrators, not activists, not individuals who are used to dealing with the political process, except as standing away from it and facilitating elections. We take oaths to be non-partisan," he continues. "One of the proudest moments of my life was the creation of helping write the standards of codes and conduct for the Elections Center, to apply to all national election officials, putting loyalty to the principles of fair and honest elections over anything else."

Of course, over The BRAD BLOG's nearly 20 years of reporting on elections and voting processes and vulnerable computerized voting and tabulation systems --- much of which Sancho has followed closely over those years --- we've had our own fair share of criticism for some election officials (not to mention almost every voting system vendor). Some of that has resulted in occasional criticism that we are "attacking" election officials or pollworkers ourselves. So, how is our attempt to hold feet to the fire any different from what Sancho sees coming from the American MAGA Right?

"The difference is that you are focusing on specific issues of provable fact," Sancho responds. "That's different than the kind of criticism that we have right now. Your criticism doesn't threaten the democratic experiment. And where we find ourselves now is that the great American experiment, our democracy, is being threatened. It's being destroyed by individuals who would rather believe a narcissistic liar than understand the truth."

Sancho has MUCH more to say on all of this, including thoughts on new legislation heading to Florida's Republican Governor and Presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis that would give him what Sancho describes as "the Governor's private police force on elections."

"That's part of the intimidation," he argues. "Now we're seeing a secret police in the state of Florida for elections. Florida is, unfortunately, one of the leaders of this effort nationally to change non-partisan fair elections into something else."

Sancho concedes "it's hard for me to see how we get around this," though he does offer at least some ideas for solutions to find our way out of this nightmare, including laws to specifically prevent threats against election administrators. "It should be illegal to threaten an election official for the purposes of intimidating them from doing their job and counting the votes. That should be illegal, and it is not."

"We've got to turn this around," Sancho insists. "ALL legal citizens should have the right to vote accessibly, and have that vote counted as they intended, and then we should audit the elections to confirm the validity of that election. That's as simple as it can be, and yet we're very far away from that, as you know."

"What were supposed to be laboratories of democracy," he charges, are now "50 citadels of repression." As suggested, we think Sancho is an American hero. He's on fire today and, as ever, worth tuning in to hear in full.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report today, with bad news for climate changed Australia and our global fossil fuel dependence, highlighted yet again by Russia's war on Ukraine. She also has a bit of good news for breathers, however, as President Biden's EPA announces critical new regulations on smog and vehicle emissions that will save thousands of American lives...

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

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

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

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

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Guest host Nicole Sandler with FL Gubernatorial Candidate Annette Taddeo, The Nation's Dave Zirin; Also: BANNON FINALLY INDICTED!
By Nicole Sandler on 11/12/2021 4:56pm PT  

It's NICOLE SANDLER, back to guest host today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Before we get to today's guests, there was some big breaking news just as the show was going to air. Steve Bannon was finally indicted Friday on two counts of criminal Contempt of Congress after he defied a congressional subpoena from the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

That was followed by two other interesting news tidbits. Summer Zervos, the former Apprentice contestant who accused Donald Trump of sexual assault and subsequently sued him for defamation after he smeared her, abruptly dropped her case today, while still maintaining the allegations. There has to be more to that story!

And, the week officially ended with the news that Brittany Spears is finally free of the conservatorship that's controlled her life for the past 13 years.

Now for the rest of today's show...I'm based in South Florida, where we have one of the all-time worst Governors ever. Job One is voting Ron DeSantis out of office next November. On a previous BradCast episode, I shared my interviews with the first two Democrats to enter the race against him: Nikki Fried and Charlie Crist. Today, I bring you the third candidate to jump in, FL state senator ANNETTE TADDEO.

The second of today's double-header is a conversation with DAVE ZIRIN, sports editor atThe Nation and host of the Edge of Sports podcast. Today we didn't really talk sports, but Dave's new book, The Kaepernick Effect, which isn't even about Kaepernick himself but, as the title suggests, the effect his activism had on athletes from high school to college to the pros. If you need something that'll make you feel better about humanity today (I think we all do!), then listen to this interview and read the book...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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