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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, October 5, 2022
'Green News Report' 10/4/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Ian's catastrophic damage, death toll; FL climate resilience community passes Ian's test; Biden vows timely, full aid to P.R. after Fiona; PLUS: SCOTUS threatens clean water...
Recent GNRs: 9/29/22 - 9/27/22 - Archives...
New Bill Would Bar Congressmembers, Family from Trading Stocks: 'BradCast' 10/3/22
Guest: Craig Holman; Also: Ian's death toll; Biden in P.R.; Putin's failures; Brazil's lessons...
Sunday 'Think About It' Toons
There's plenty to ponder in PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
High Cost of Climate Denial and Collapse of FL's Insurance Industry: 'BradCast' 9/30/22
Guest: Thomas Frank of E&E News; Also: DeSantis suddenly supports federal aid; Big Oil exposed (again) lying about climate change...
Keeping Up With Ian and Trump's GOP Fraudsters: 'BradCast' 9/29/22
Guest: Nicole Sandler from FL; Also: Election tampering charges in MI; Bad days in court for Powell, Dobbs, Fox 'News'; Trump's corrupt MAL judge strikes again...
'Green News Report' 9/29/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Ian smashes records, pummels FL; Manchin's permitting bill collapses; New probe for PG&E; PLUS: Mysteriioius breaches on Russian pipelines to Europe...
Recent GNRs: 9/27/22 - 9/22/22 - Archives...
KS Abortion Referendum Data Suggest Women Being Under-Counted in Midterm Polling: 'BradCast' 9/28/22
Guest: Tom Bonier of TargetSmart; Also: Hurricane Ian storms ashore in FL...
Critical Elections, Catastrophic Storm Bear Down: 'BradCast' 9/27/22
Poll workers needed!; Ian closing in on FL; Scofflaw TX A.G. flees process server; Congress nears Electoral Count Act update; Listener mail...
'Green News Report' 9/27/22
Ian takes aim at FL; Fiona broke records in Canada; Noru pummels Philippines; Winter fuel prices soar; PLUS: Island nations call for fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty at U.N.
'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
U.N. Sec-Gen wants fossil fuel industry to pay up; New plastics initiative; P.R. still lacking power and clean water; PLUS: Senate approves first climate treaty in decades...
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...


Corrupt WV Dem still undermining Dems, nation, planet; Secret Service deleted Jan. 6 texts; Arrest warrant issued for indicted CO GOP election official; NY's GOP Guv nom submitted 13,000 fraudulent signatures...
By Brad Friedman on 7/15/2022 6:29pm PT  

I don't relish saying "I told ya so" on The BradCast. But, in today's lead story, unfortunately, I have to yet again. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

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

  • We've been telling you for months that West Virginia's corrupt Democratic U.S. Senator Joe Manchin --- whose family makes millions from the coal industry and campaign rakes in millions from the fossil fuel industry --- never had any intention of allowing any environmental measures to pass that might actually help reduce the deadly emissions that are causing our climate crisis. Nonetheless, his fellow Democrats and corporate media, like Charlie Brown, seem to keep buying his BS claims that he really really wants to adopt environmental provisions and raise taxes on the wealthy to help pay for them. After months of more pretend negotiations, Lucy pulled the football away from Charlie Brown yet again on Thursday night.
  • Gas prices are finally falling. Will Joe Biden get credit for that, since he was inappropriately blamed for Big Oil's record profits from war profiteering and price gouging? (Which all Republicans in Congress refused to outlaw recently?)
  • Texas' privatized, unregulated electric grid is on the brink of collapse yet again, thanks to record heat (which is thanks to a fossil fuel industry-sponsored climate crisis that all Republicans and Democrat Joe Manchin refuse to do anything about.) Will Lone Star State voters this November finally figure out who is to blame for the outages --- and hundreds of deaths that continue to come with them --- during both extreme heat and cold in the state?
  • Oh, look! The Secret Service seem to have accidentally erased all of their text messages from January 5 and 6, 2021, even after the Dept. of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General asked to see them. Luckily, not much happened over those days that the American people would very much like to know about.
  • Oh, look! A D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer has reportedly testified to the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 insurrection and Donald Trump's other attempts to steal the election that there was a physical altercation with Secret Service officials inside Trump's limo when he wanted to go to the Capitol instead of back to the White House that day. The alleged under-oath corroboration has so far received much less corporate media notice than the anonymous, still-unnamed person at the Service who claimed that Cassidy Hutchinson was lying during her explosive public testimony late last month about what she'd been told about the incident just after it happened. And the Secret Service officials who were supposed to come forward to dispute her story to the Committee have still failed to do so. (Sure would have been helpful if the Service hadn't erased their text messages from that day.)
  • Mesa County, Colorado's disgraced County Clerk (and recently failed GOP candidate for Secretary of State), Tina Peters, is in yet more legal trouble. The easily-duped MAGA election fraud conspiracy theorist --- now charged with 7 felonies and 3 misdemeanors related to her orchestrating an illicit scheme to unlawfully copy and publicly distribute very sensitive voting system software last year --- had a warrant issued for her arrest by a Judge on Thursday after she left the state without court permission to speak at another evidence-free MAGA election fraud conspiracy conference in Vegas.
  • But the actual election fraud perpetrated by GOP officials running for office continues. Just a few short weeks after 5 of the 10 Republicans running for the Gubernatorial nomination in Michigan were struck from the ballot for turning in tens of thousands of fraudulent petition signatures, it's happened again. This time in New York. The GOP nominee for Governor, U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin --- who voted against confirming Joe Biden's 2020 Electoral College victory and whose website features a "Team Zeldin Election Integrity Task Force" page, vowing to work "around the clock now and into November to ensure we have fair elections" --- apparently turned in nearly 13,000 fraudulent petition signatures, including 900 pages of photocopies of signatures, in hopes of appearing on the Independent Party ballot line this fall. The Libertarian Party challenged the fraudulent signatures and the state Board of Elections confirmed the fraud, denying Zeldin a third line on the November ballot.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen has our latest Green News Report, with a passel of climate related stories that are so grim, we can't even bring ourselves to tease them here. On the other hand, she does have one pretty good piece of news out of California...so there's that!

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Jordan Zakarin of Progress Report and More Perfect Union; Also: The Obamas on SCOTUS scheme to gut Roe's Constitutional freedoms; Big Oil's record profits and wartime profiteering...
By Brad Friedman on 5/5/2022 6:43pm PT  

It's been another rough week in these United States and, in turn, on The BradCast. The War in Ukraine, the corrupted Supreme Court stealing freedoms from Americans, the stock market roller coaster, COVID deaths topping 1 million and beginning to rise again, along with the nation's expanding far-right authoritarian movement. But there has been at least one bright spot of late, which we're happy to spend some time covering today. [Audio link to full show is posted at the end of this summary.]

First, however, following Justice Samuel Alito's leaked draft majority opinion [PDF] that would end the Constitutional freedom for a woman's right to an abortion, subsequently mandating forced pregnancies, even due to rape and incest, in many states, the Obamas, Barack and Michelle, released an eloquent and important statement this week.

They focus on Roe v. Wade's recognition "that the freedom enshrined in the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution requires all of us to enjoy a sphere of our lives that isn't subject to meddling from the state --- a sphere that includes personal decisions involving who we sleep with, who we marry, whether or not to use contraception, and whether or not to bear children." If Roe is overturned, they explain, all of those so-called "unenumerated" Constitutional rights, established by the courts through decades of precedent, will all now be vulnerable to dismantling by the GOP's packed and stolen SCOTUS. They would soon be left to Big Government whims of the far Right.

Their statement also urges that it is important not to "feel helpless" in light of all of this or feel "there's nothing any of us can do." They note, as we often do, that "elections have consequence" and, "in the end, if we want judges who will protect all, not just some, of our rights, then we've got to elect officials committed to doing the same."

NEXT, we turn to a bit of brighter news amid so much darkness, about American working men and women finally standing up for themselves to organize at companies both big and small. There has been awe inspiring activity across the country in recent weeks and months to establish labor unions for collective bargaining by workers at huge, anti-union companies like Amazon and Starbucks and others.

We're joined to discuss this hopeful surge in working class Americans --- from the Right and the Left --- standing up for their labor rights by JORDAN ZAKARIN, publisher of the Progress Report newsletter and contributor to More Perfect Union. His great newsletter (worth subscribing to!) focuses on all things progressive, including "fact-based advocacy, and the voices of people organizing on the ground." This week, as we discuss today, he rounded up many of the encouraging union activities happening around the country in a piece headlined "A May Day of Momentum."

Among the points discussed, how Amazon, "known as an unbelievably abusive employer" has spent millions to defeat union drives, deploying their "union-busting handbook". Nonetheless, there was a recent historic victory by the underdog crowd-funded Amazon Labor Union last month that established the company's first union facility in the U.S. in Staten Island, New York.

Then there's Starbucks, where more than 50 shops have become unionized in recent weeks. There are several thousand more to go. But, Zakarin reports today, "it's much easier for them to do small, tight knit units of people that stick together" with unionization elections at each shop, rather than entire regions at once, as Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz would prefer.

We discuss recent successes at Kellogg's in Michigan, where their VP of Labor Relations was caught on tape describing union negotiators as "terrorists", and at Delta, the only major non-unionized airline, where, until workers there began to organize for a union vote, flight attendants were only paid for time in the air, not for the hours spent boarding and deplaning passengers!

"We're constantly finding that conditions are even worse than we expect," at such companies, says Zakarin. But "people are starting to stand up and walk out" in protest of lousy wages and horrible working conditions at many of these companies. "The more that people start to organize, the more it galvanizes others," he explains. "It really is a spark that catches. It's been really inspiring to see."

Zakarin also offers his insight on hearings held today in the U.S. Senate's Budget Committee, chaired by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), focused on withholding federal contracts from non-union companies; why this surge in union activity is now occurring; and whether or not he agrees with some who say that Joe Biden is the most pro-union President since FDR.

FINALLY today, news that oil giant Shell enjoyed their most profitable quarter in history, bringing in more than $9 billion dollars in pure profit while their post-pandemic and war-time profiteering pays off for them at the pump. Shell --- like ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron (which is also fighting its union workers) and all of the other oil majors --- continues to raise prices on consumers while pretending that it's Russia's war in Ukraine that is forcing them to bilk customers with higher and higher prices.

And, oh yeah, we finish up today with a bit of listener mail...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: The American Prospect's David Dayen on the magazine's ambitious Special Issue: Also: Gun-maker settles with Sandy Hook families; Prince Andrew settles sex-abuse case; Palin loses (again); Putin blinks?...
By Brad Friedman on 2/15/2022 6:05pm PT  

Today on The BradCast, we tackle another small, totally easy to solve issue: Untangling the worldwide supply chain debacle. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, before that, at least a few stories seem to be resolving themselves today...

  • Nine families of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre settled their lawsuit with Remington, the manufacturer and marketer of the semi-automatic rifle used to kill their family members, for $73 million. The deal is noteworthy because federal law bans such suits against the gun industry, but Connecticut law does not. In this case, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Remington's attempt to block the suit based on the protections in federal law.
  • Prince Andrew settled a lawsuit filed against him by a woman who says she was 17-years old when she was sexually abused by Andrew, as coerced by the late financier and child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. The settlement includes an undisclosed donation to the charity of the victim, Virginia Giuffre, and an acknowledgement by Andrew that she has suffered abuse as a victim It is unknown if Giuffre will personally receive any money as part of the agreement.
  • Both a jury and a judge helped settle former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's defamation lawsuit against the New York Times by rejecting it in no uncertain terms. On Tuesday, the jury in the civil trial brought by Palin found the Times' editorial board not guilty of libeling the former GOP Vice Presidential nominee. The paper had erroneously cited a "clear link" between a map published by a Palin campaign websites featuring a gun site on certain Congressional districts --- including then Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords' --- and the 2013 mass shooting in Tuscon that killed six people and critically injured the Congresswoman. The jury's rejection of Palin's suit came the day after the judge, as the jury was still deliberating, declared that he planned to dismiss the case anyway after finding that Palin failed to prove the paper acted maliciously against her. For its part, the Times described the verdict as "reaffirmation of a fundamental tenet of American law: public figures should not be permitted to use libel suits to punish or intimidate news organizations that make, acknowledge and swiftly correct unintentional errors."
  • And, in the weeks-long Russian/Ukraine military stand-off, there was a long-awaited easing of tensions as President Putin announced that Russia was ready for talks with the U.S. and NATO on a number of issues and that some Russian forces on the border with Ukraine would be withdrawing. President Biden, however, in remarks this afternoon at the White House, said the U.S. had "not yet verified" any troop withdraws and that a Russian invasion of Ukraine remained a possibility. The White House noted, however, that the U.S. remains opens to high-level diplomacy in hopes of avoiding military conflict in Europe.

On that news, Wall Street rallied after weeks of saber-rattling had weighed down the market and helped send oil and gas prices through the roof, serving as another reminder today of just one more way that our vulnerable supply chain can wreak havoc on an otherwise booming economy.

As it turns out, The American Prospect recently devoted an entire Special Issue for February to a very related topic: "The Supply Chain Debacle: How bad policy—outsourcing, financialization, monopolization, deregulation, and just-in-time logistics—broke our supply chains, raised costs and caused shortages."

We're joined today by The Prospect's Executive Editor and author David Dayen to help us untangle the mess that has been made over the past 40 or 50 years, under both political parties in this rare case, of a supply chain that has exposed its vulnerabilities with the onset of the COVID pandemic two years ago. But since then, it has continued to reveal its ill-designed brittleness and the very serious threat it poses to America's economic security.

Dayen walks us through how his Special Issue delves into the broad failures of the supply chain, largely put in place over the years by the Wall Street "free market" to maximize corporate profit at the expense of American jobs and national security...in exchange for cheap prices on goods! As Dayen details, the problems here are not one single failure across the chain, but as he breaks down, "multiple 'single points of failure'" across industry after industry all along the broken chain.

"We designed a system over the course of decades --- both parties --- that had lean inventories, that relied on offshore production, that relied on this concept of globalization," he explains. "That allowed the production facilities to become very concentrated. That allowed the spokes within the system to become concentrated. That deregulated everything to try to lower prices on shipping and transportation. And that allowed Wall Street to take the primary role in governing these efforts --- in other words, telling corporations 'Yes, you have to move your production offshore for cheap labor', and 'We have to deregulate these industries so that costs stay low,' and 'You have to have just-in-time production so that you don't have any inventory sitting around just wasting money, and we're spending too much money on warehouses.'"

With this precarious, profit-driven system in place, Dayen steps through The Prospect's full team coverage of how a virus breaking out in a manufacturing hub in China can shut down the entire system. Any sudden increase in a demand for goods --- say, during a pandemic --- ends up tying the giant, oligopolized over-seas container shipping system into knots and stranding massive cargo ships at sea while there is no room left for off-loading at U.S. ports. Once finally off-loaded, sometimes after months waiting in line off-shore, a U.S. rail system run by just a couple of companies and a trucking system that doesn't pay workers nearly enough for their efforts further bottlenecks the process. Then there's the vast lack of warehouse space for all those goods if they can ever get to where they need to be. All the while, these disruptions and failures work to the benefit of the largest distributors --- like Amazon and Walmart --- while cutting the knees out from under independent retailers and raising prices for everyone. So much for those low prices that consumers, at least, were supposed to get out of the deal.

But, as Dayen also explains, it doesn't take a pandemic. A cross-border bridge protest in Canada, saber-rattling in Eastern Europe or the Middle East and, perhaps even more crippling to the supply chain over the past year than anything else, climate change related disasters which promise to only get much more frequent and severe in the years ahead.

"The problem is the supply chain is run on these knife-edge principles that make it impossible for it to adjust to a shift up in demand. That is the entire problem," he argues. "So people who go on and say, 'No, this isn't a problem, it's just this shift. Everything will be fine.' They're missing the point. The point is that this lack of adjustment reflects problems with how the system is engineered."

And, yes, Dayen has advice on how to re-engineer the entire system. The good news, he also explains, is that both corporations and members of Congress --- from BOTH parties --- seem to finally be getting it. They are looking at and passing bills that encourage (and spend money on) the regionalization and onshoring of manufacturing back here in the U.S., and the Biden administration is investing heavily --- when Congress allows them --- into a number of long-overdue fixes.

It may all sound dry on paper, but it's actually a fascinating and very lively conversation on today's program that I hope you'll tune in for.

Finally --- and including a few related points --- Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, on the crippling Western U.S. megadrought; the Biden Administration's roll-out of a national EV charging network; the spike in oil prices amid tensions in Russia-Ukraine; and the Super Bowl blitz by U.S. carmakers launching long overdue electric vehicle production lines...

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Guest: Labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein of UC Santa Barbara; Also: Federal Appeals Court hears Trump case for blocking release of Jan 6 docs; Meadows now said 'cooperating' with Jan 6 Committee...
By Brad Friedman on 11/30/2021 5:53pm PT  

The accountability train and unionization train are both chugging forward on today's BradCast. So, that's a good thing! And we've also got a news-packed catch-up episode of the Green News Report following our week off last week. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, after losing at the U.S. District Court level, Donald Trump had his day before a three-judge panel at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday. He is still attempting to block the release of his White House documents related to the attack on the U.S. Capitol which he incited on January 6th in his desperate, last ditch effort to steal the 2020 election. The former President is claiming "executive privilege" to block the release of hundreds of documents, even though he is no longer President or, as the lower court judge declared just weeks ago: "Presidents are not kings and plaintiff is not President". The current President, Joe Biden, has rejected Trump's plea to invoke executive privilege to block the release of the White House records subpoenaed by the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack. We detail today's hearing and the arguments made in court on both sides.

Next, in related news, Trump's former Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, has also been subpoenaed for both documents and testimony by the House Select Committee. Like Steve Bannon before him, Meadows previously ignored those subpoenas, also claiming "executive privilege". But now that Bannon has been indicted on two federal counts of Contempt of Congress for having done so, Meadows appears to be having second thoughts. The Committee now says Meadows is cooperating and plans to sit for a deposition. The question remains as to how much he will actually share with the Committee, which still seems prepared to pull the "Contempt" trigger against him, if necessary.

Also coming up in related accountability news this week: A likely Contempt referral for low-level DoJ Trump lackey Jeffrey Clark, who the disgraced former President almost elevated to Attorney General just prior to January 6th attack, due to his willingness to lie to state legislatures that the DoJ had found fraud in the 2020 election. They didn't. Now, Clark has been refusing fully respond to the Committee's subpoenas and will hopefully pay a price for it in the coming days.

Meanwhile, in some good labor news on Monday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found in favor of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU)'s complaint that retail giant Amazon unlawfully gamed a unionization vote at its Bessemer, Alabama warehouse earlier this year. The NLRB has now ordered a re-vote for workers this Spring, after they voted against unionization by a 2 to 1 margin following months of pressure, weekly mandatory meetings with anti-union consultants, and all other forms or propaganda from the company during the initial election.

We're joined to discuss the (seemingly) good news from the NLRB by longtime labor historian, author and Distinguished Professor at UC Santa Barbara, NELSON LICHTENSTEIN, who joined us earlier this year to discuss the initial, now nullified unionization vote in Bessemer.

The colorful Lichtenstein explains the history of similar revotes, how frequently they are ordered by the federal labor board and what the odds are of the union winning this time, given the nearly 100 percent turnover in workers at the e-commerce giant's Alabama fulfillment center since the initial vote last March. He also explains that while the NLRB found a number of violations by the company, most of the egregious stuff they did to intimidate workers --- including one-on-one pressure sessions, anti-union propaganda posted in restrooms, offers of $1,000 to quit --- is almost all actually legal under current federal law.

"Once Amazon realized that probably the election would be overturned, they once again began to hold these captive audience meetings," says Lichtenstein. "These are meetings that are called by the company as they lecture to the workers why a union is a bad thing. They're really closer to Maoist re-education camps or Stalinist coercion methods than anything else. That is happening as we speak. Plus, Amazon is also keeping tabs on who the union activists are."

"All this," he argues, "points out that we really need a completely fundamental and radical change in the labor law. And more than just the labor law --- in the whole ethos that surrounds the idea of workers having rights, a voice, and having a union."

As it turns out, there is a new labor law, the Protect the Right to Organize (or PRO) Act, currently pending in Congress. "It would make illegal these captive audience meetings, which are very, very intimidating and authoritarian. It would eliminate that. It would also increase the penalties --- the financial penalties --- on companies for violating the labor law," notes Lichtenstein, the author of some 16 books related to these issues. "Right now, how much does Amazon have to pay for its violation of the labor law, which is creating this new election? Zero. The penalties are utterly trivial."

But the odds for passage of the PRO Act at this time remain long, Lichtenstein concedes. That said, he also notes that both the recently signed bipartisan infrastructure bill and Joe Biden's still-pending Build Back Better social safety net and climate action proposal have quite a few measures that support union labor.

As the "Great Resignation" continues for workers who are finding opportunities with better pay and benefits elsewhere, while the nation tries to move on from the pandemic, Lichtenstein (who recently compared the situation to opportunities for former slaves during the Civil War reconstruction era in a Washington Post op-ed) does suggest a potential way forward for anti-union companies that now face threats of being broken up by Biden's aggressive appointees at federal agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission.

"What needs to happen is this," Lichtenstein advises, "you need to make management come to the conclusion that the lesser evil, the lesser problem in their business model, would be recognizing the union rather than facing the ire of either an aroused public or government action." He tells us that Amazon, Facebook and other Silicon Valley firms are facing a "re-invigoration of anti-trust law in the Biden Administration," which he describes as "actually very pro-labor."

Those companies, he notes, could use some friends, "and an essential ally is labor." Lichtenstein details how such alliances prevented the breakup of big chain stores under anti-trust laws in the 1930s and even at General Motors in the 1950s. "Companies like that said to the labor movement, 'Well, we'll recognize you, if you let us stay big.' And that happened!"

Finally today, Desi Doyen jams about 20 minutes (or more!) of environmental news into our latest 6-minute Green News Report in hopes of getting us at least partially caught up on so much that we missed after taking the last week off for the holiday...

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Guest: SCOTUS expert, author Ian Millhiser; Also: Amazon unionization vote goes down in AL, union cries foul; Biden creates commission to study SCOTUS reform; Everyone loves hating on Cruz and Graham...
By Brad Friedman on 4/9/2021 6:02pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Maybe we've been too quick to say that Republicans no longer have any governing philosophy or legislative agenda. They do. And it's being carried out. Just not be elected officials. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But first up today, following 'good' news for Alabamians on yesterday's BradCast, as the state's corrupt, lying, homophobic, vote suppressing Republican Sec. of State John Merrill was publicly revealed as the sleazy, cheating, liar that he is (joining a very long line of corrupt, lying, cheating top Republicans in the state, as we break down today), some less good news today for workers in the state.

The unionization vote at Amazon's warehouse in Bessemer, near Birmingham, apparently lost by a nearly two to one margin, after millions were spent in a campaign by the company to scare and misinform its workers. The union is crying foul, charging that the nation's second largest private employer violated labor laws in its campaign to propagandize workers at the facility. They vow to challenge the company's "lies, deception and illegal activities" with the National Labor Relations Board.

"We won’t rest until workers' voices are heard fairly under the law," the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) President railed in a statement on Friday after results were announced, claiming the company illegally interfered with the vote. "When they are, we believe they will be victorious in this historic and critical fight to unionize the first Amazon warehouse in the United States."

For their part, Amazon disputes all of the union's charges, asserting that their "employees heard far more anti-Amazon messages from the union, policymakers, and media outlets than they heard from us." That, even after Amazon posted anti-union messages, literally, inside of bathroom stalls at their Bessemer fulfillment facility and forced workers to sit through hours of seminars on the evils of unionization.

Meanwhile, at the White House today, Joe Biden announced his new Executive Order to form a bi-partisan Presidential Commission to examine potential reform of the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as the federal judiciary overall. The declaration makes good on a 2020 campaign promise in response to calls for expansion of the GOP's stolen and packed Court. A report is expected in six months, following a series of public hearings by the Commission. Of course, any actual reforms to SCOTUS would likely require ending or modifying the Senate filibuster, which Lord Joe Manchin has expressly prohibited at this time.

As our guest notes today, that all works out great for the Republican Party who, at first glance, appear to no longer have any actual party principles, governing philosophy or legislative agenda, beyond suppressing voting rights in order to keep themselves in power.

But that's not actually true, argues our guest, Supreme Court expert IAN MILLHISER, Senior correspondent at Vox.com and author of the new book, The Agenda: How a Republican Supreme Court Is Reshaping America. He details in both the book and his recent New York Times op-ed that the GOP does, in fact, have a legislative agenda. But it's not being carried out by either of the elected branches. "Its agenda lives in the judiciary," he explains, "and especially in the Supreme Court."

Millhiser runs down the extraordinary agenda that activist jurists at SCOTUS have accomplished on behalf of Republicans from 2011 to 2020, and warns there is much more to come as "the Supreme Court is now the locus of policy-making" while GOP lawmakers in Congress have halted the passage of pretty much any actual legislation.

"We are basically at the end of a lost decade in Congress," he tells me. "From 2011 when Republicans took over the House, until 2020 when the pandemic happened and doing nothing really wasn't an option, Congress did a lot of nothing.  They passed the Trump tax bill, but there was very little major legislation enacted." During that same period, however, the Republican-dominated activist SCOTUS was exceedingly busy.

"They severely weakened the Voting Rights Act. They basically dismantled much of our campaign finance law. They permitted states to opt-out of the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court created this new religious liberty doctrine that allows people with religious objections to the law to diminish the rights of other people. They weakened sexual and racial harassment laws. They expanded something called forced arbitration, which allows your boss, or really any company you deal with, to force you to sign away your right to sue them. They undercut public sector unions. They effectively eliminated the President's recess appointments power. They halted Obama's Clean Power Plan," Millhiser summarizes.

He goes on to preview more of what the Court has in store, particularly when it comes to voting rights, noting that this Court has been "attacking democracy in two ways --- by preventing the people in office from governing, and then also by harming the process that we use to pick who our leaders are."

So, how can this mess be turned around? Millhiser warns it's unlikely to be correctly quickly. But, until it can be, Americans must continue to vote in large enough numbers to ensure there are lawmakers in office who actually want to protect democracy rather than destroy it and, ultimately, reform our broken judiciary.

Finally, we leave on a slightly more upbeat note, with more from former Republican House Speaker John Boehner's new book in which describes his own party as "unrecognizable" now; says he was wrong to go along with the impeachment of Bill Clinton; calls out the rightwing media echo chamber for poisoning our politics; blames Donald Trump for sowing "chaos" and inciting the "bloody insurrection on January 6th" by "claim[ing] voter fraud without any evidence", while reserving his greatest contempt for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Why is that a "more upbeat note"? Because it gives us the chance to close today with a new song from national treasure Randy Rainbow about how much America loves to hate on both Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham. Enjoy!...

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Guest: Dr. Trita Parsi of the Quincy Inst. for Responsible Statecraft; Also: 10 more Dem Reps join insurrection lawsuit against Trump; Update on Amazon unionization vote in Alabama...
By Brad Friedman on 4/7/2021 6:43pm PT  

The long, necessary and arduous 'Clean up on Aisle 45' isn't only a domestic challenge. The disgraced former President also left a disastrous mess behind in hard won foreign alliances and unilaterally broken international agreements. On today's BradCast, we dive back into the landmark, 7-party nuclear accord with Iran which Donald Trump not only violated and broke, but specifically sabotaged thereafter in order to make it more difficult, if not impossible, for future American Presidents to restore. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But before we dive into that foreign mess today, the domestic disaster Trump unleashed on January 6th at the U.S. Capitol continues to reverberate. On Wednesday, 10 more members of Congress joined the federal civil suit filed against the former President in February by Mississippi's Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson. The suit charges Trump violated the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 by inciting his supporters to block Congress from carrying out its Constitutional duty of counting and ratifying the Electoral College vote from the 2020 Presidential election.

The newly amended complaint, filed by the NAACP, also names Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, the white supremacist group The Proud Boys (and several newly formed entities created after the legal dissolution of that extremist organization), as well as the Oath Keepers as defendants. It details the trauma suffered by the Congressional members during the deadly attack and in the days that followed.

In February, a 57-43 majority of the U.S. Senate, including 7 Republicans, found Trump guilty of "Incitement of Insurrection" during his historic second impeachment trial. The plaintiffs in the amended Thompson complaint seek both compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief, with the dollar amount to be determined by jurors at a D.C. federal court trial.

Coincidentally today, the New York Times obtained an excerpt from a new book by former Republican U.S. House Speaker John Boehner who correctly writes that his party has been taken over by "whack jobs" and cites Trump as having "incited that bloody insurrection," charging him with "stoking the flames of conspiracy that turned into violence in the seat of our democracy."

Next, we turn to one of Trump's (many) foreign disasters, as talks began this week in Vienna, through intermediaries for the U.S. and Iran, in hopes of finding a way toward restoration of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between the two countries. The pact was struck after years of delicate negotiation by the Obama Administration along with China, France, Russia, the UK and Germany. As you'll recall, Trump unilaterally violated the otherwise successful deal that curbed Iran's nuclear program and removed stockpiles of uranium from the country in exchange for the lifting of certain sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Even though the Trump Administration confirmed Iran's compliance with the terms of the deal, the 45th President nonetheless violated it by by pulling the U.S. out and re-imposing punishing sanctions. According to our guest today, however, that's not all he did. Trump also imposed additional punishing sanctions and did so in a way that would cripple the ability for any future President to lift them and return to the agreement.

We're joined today by DR. TRITA PARSI, Middle East foreign policy expert and Executive Vice President of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Parsi, who also co-founded the National Iranian American Council, the largest Iranian-American grassroots organization in the U.S., worked as an advisor to the Obama White House during the complicated negotiations for the 2015 deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (or JCPOA). He documents those efforts in his book, Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran, and the Triumph of Diplomacy.

Today, Parsi details Trump's sabotage of the JCPOA, and the clever trick employed by the Administration to make it far more difficult to lift the "sanctions wall" they imposed. While his Administration was a failure at just about everything else, Parsi quips, "I don't think anyone actually has accused them of being bad at destruction. At destruction they actually excelled quite well, and in almost an unprecedented and unparalleled way."

During the conversation, he goes on to explains the clear --- if difficult --- road back toward restoration of the accord; discusses the week's encouraging news out of Vienna; outlines the urgency of the talks just two months before new elections are held in Iran; and offers insight on the price the U.S. may now have to pay in order to win back the trust of the Iranians after the U.S. violated the hard-won terms of the agreement.

"To put it into context," Parsi tells me, "the Iranians just signed a 25-year agreement with the Chinese. The Iranians probably do not care at all who comes in and replaces [Chinese President] Xi, they don't care who is the head of the Communist Party, because they have confidence that the Chinese are going to keep their word. Whereas on our end, unfortunately, we couldn't keep an agreement for two years, even one that we were the lead negotiator of."

In some related-ish news which broke during our conversation with Parsi, the Biden Administration announced plans to restore some $325 million in U.S. humanitarian assistance to Palestinians which had been terminated by the Trump Administration.

Finally, we close today with an update on the landmark unionization vote at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, at what would be the first such facility in the U.S. for the retail giant where workers win collective bargaining rights. Voting in the mail-in election ended about a week and a half ago. So what's the delay in learning the results? I explain the complicated process the federal National Labor Relations Board must carry out in tallying the secret ballots from the company's 5,800 warehouse workers in Bessemer. Long story short: We may be hearing news of the results fairly soon...

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'It reeks of politics,' says Don Siegelman, citing Repub campaign 'laced with racism,' aimed at sabotaging 'a rising star in the Democratic Party'
Also: Siegelman on Biden and hopes for criminal justice reform; The Amazon unionization vote near Birmingham; And whether he might run for public office again in the future...
By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2021 6:41pm PT  

On today's BradCast: an exclusive interview with someone who knows a thing or two about GOP hit jobs on Democratic Governors. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

Republicans are having trouble of late winning elections by simply having the most popular positions. Thus, the attempts to lie about their positions, to suppress the vote and, in California, to try and recall another Democratic Governor, in a state where Republicans are wildly unpopular.

It now appears that the rightwing effort to place a recall of first-term Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom on the ballot will be successful. The Republican scheme to remove Newsom has reportedly gained more than enough signatures to place the measure on the ballot (2.1 million gathered, 1.5 million needed), though those signatures now need to be certified by each of the state's 59 counties and those who signed (64% are Republicans, 25% have No Party Preference, and just 6% are registered Democrats), will also be able to remove their names by the time a date is set for the election.

When and if it happens later this year, it would place two questions on the ballot: 1) Should Newsom be recalled from office? And 2) If so, who should replace him? That second referendum also raises an interesting question: Should Democrats bother to place a plausible Dem on the ballot, in the event that Newsom is officially recalled by the first question, even as registered Democrats now outnumber registered Republicans in the Golden State by a nearly 2 to 1 margin? It was not all that long ago when Democratic Gov. Gray Davis was set up by Republicans (and a phony, Enron-generated energy "scandal") for a recall, in which he was ultimately replaced by Republicans with Hollywood superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger.

We're joined today by Alabama's former Democratic GOV. DON SIEGELMAN who has, for years, explained how his election to a second term was stolen from him via a computerized optical-scan tabulator system in the middle of the night, and how he was subsequently targeted by Karl Rove and GOP operatives including Siegelman's main rival, Gov. Bob Riley, in a scheme which would send him to jail on a 7-year federal sentence. The "bribery" charge he was convicted of, as more than 100 former Republican and Democratic state Attorneys General explained in a letter to federal officials, should not have been considered bribery in the first place, did not net Siegelman one thin dime, and had never been a crime at all until the popular Alabama Governor was charged with it.

Siegelman --- who has now finished serving his time and has written a book about it called STEALING OUR DEMOCRACY: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Nation --- now sees a similar scheme in the effort to take down California's first term progressive Democratic Governor Newsom.

"This is nothing more than a Republican attempt to create turmoil, to rev up its troops, to try --- to try --- to replace Gavin Newsom, who is a rising star in the Democratic Party," Siegelman tells me. "This is exactly what they did to Gray Davis."

Responding to the news we shared from the San Francisco Chronicle over the weekend, detailing the repeated racist slurs from the official Recall Campaign --- on its website, by its advisors, organizers and funders --- referring to the "China virus", "Wuhan flu", etc., amid a wave of hate crimes against the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community since the COVID epidemic began, Siegelman argues the effort is "laced with racism."

"Coming from Alabama, I'm steeped in the politics of racism, starting with [four-term Alabama Governor] George Wallace," Siegelman explains. "I lived through that era where he was raising the Confederate battle flag at the state capitol and a few months later, four little girls at a Birmingham Church were blown to death with a dynamite bomb by the Ku Klux Klan because they felt emboldened by the racist comments of a Southern governor.  That's the danger of these people, like those who are organizing the recall of Gov. Newsom. It has serious consequences."

"On a political front," he adds, the recall effort "has to be taken seriously. Democrats have to understand that these people will do anything to try to take over our democracy, and it doesn't matter what they have to do to do it."

"Throughout the United States, they're trying to steal our democracy through changing election laws," the Governor notes, citing the more than 250 GOP measures now moving through more than 40 states to suppress the vote after the party lost the White House and U.S. Senate in last year's election. "HR1 [a massive Democratic election reform measure adopted by the U.S. House, but stalled by the filibuster in the U.S. Senate] needs to pass, in some form or other, and Joe Biden has simply got to find the votes to get it passed. If he has to run over the Republicans to get it done, so be it."

We also discuss a number of other points today during the interview with the former Alabama Governor, who was not only the last Democratic Governor to serve the state since leaving office in 2003, but also the only person to ever be elected to every major statewide office (Attorney General, Sec. of State, Lt. Governor and Governor). That, before any Presidential aspirations the then very popular Governor might have had were ultimately thwarted by the GOP hit job. (Sound familiar?)

Among the other points we discuss today: The dangers still facing federal prisoners during the COVID pandemic (which he joined us to discuss almost a year ago at the beginning of the pandemic), and his hopes that President Biden will help improve conditions in federal facilities and otherwise institute long-overdue criminal justice reform; The ongoing election at an Amazon Fulfillment Center in Bessemer, Alabama (near Birmingham) that, if successful, would result in the first unionized Amazon warehouse in the nation; And whether Siegelman, now that he has finally completed his full sentence and served his time as a "political prisoner", has any interest in returning to elected public life. (There is, after all, a U.S. Senate seat opening up in Alabama next year, after Democrat turned Republican U.S. Senator Richard Shelby recently announced plans to retire at the end of his current term. ("Never say never," teases the former Guv...after I rudely force it out of him!)

Finally, we close with a few calls from listeners in response to all of the above --- or try to, anyway...as we find ourselves forced to work to overcome a few phone hook-up snafus here at the station today...

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Guest: Labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein of UC-Santa Barbara; Also: Biden's hugely progressive $1.9T 'American Rescue Plan' receives final Congressional approval; And Randy Rainbow needs a vaccine...
By Brad Friedman on 3/10/2021 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Joe Biden has been winning quite a bit lately. Today was no exception. So, can he turn that winning streak into a win for labor unions and keep his campaign promise to be "the most pro-union President you've ever seen"?  As of now, he's on track for that as well, according to historians and labor leaders --- even if that's admittedly not a very high bar. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

On Wednesday, Biden saw three more of his cabinet picks nominated on a bipartisan basis in the U.S. Senate.  Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio will become the first African American woman to lead the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development in 40 years, after vowing to address systemic racial inequities at the federal agency. Michael Regan was confirmed as the first black man to head up the Environmental Protection Agency. And Merrick Garland received his long awaited confirmation as our new Attorney General, as the widely-respected, veteran federal judge takes on the tall task of fulfilling Biden's promise to restore independence to the Dept. of Justice.

None of those, however, were Biden's biggest wins of the day, as the U.S. House gave final approval for his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. The massive COVID relief and stimulus package now heads to the White House for his signature on what some describe as one of the most progressive bills to ever come out of Congress. $1,400 checks to individuals and a $300/week extension of unemployment benefits is just a small part of the bill, which also includes annual payments of up to $3,600 per child, in a provision which policy experts say will cut child poverty in half and adult poverty by a quarter. It will reduce the overall poverty rate in 2021 by more than a third, lower the rate for Black people by as much as 42%, 39% for Hispanics and 34% for white people. In addition, the measure will send $130 billion to reopen schools safely, $34 billion will expand Obamacare subsidies to many more people, $25 billion for emergency rental assistance, and $14 billion will help to speed vaccine distribution, among many other such initiatives. That, on a day that Biden also announced he was securing another 100 million vaccine doses from Johnson & Johnson.

No wonder Republicans have no clue how to oppose the plan (other than with obviously ridiculous and silly lies), after the package received zero votes from GOPers in either the House or Senate. Democrats own this one, and they should do so loudly and proudly. The additional good news here for now is that even Chuck Schumer finally seems to "get it". There is no upside to negotiating with Republicans if they are going to be doing so in bad faith, as they did on the stimulus bill under Obama in response to the Great Recession.

But the central focus of our show today is on a couple of moves by the President that labor leaders, experts, and academics are citing to describe Biden as, so far, the most pro-worker, pro-labor, pro-union President in decades, and maybe ever.

Last week, he surprised a lot of folks on the left by tweeting a direct, unambiguous video message of support for workers who are now voting on whether to unionize at an Amazon warehouse outside of Birmingham, Alabama. It would be the first such facility to do so in the nation. Biden's two and a half message lauded unions for creating the middle class and spoke to American workers' rights under the law to organize for collective bargaining without corporate interference.

And this week, he issued a direct, unambiguous statement of support for the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act before its passage in the House on Tuesday. Labor leaders describe the initiative as the most progressive, pro-union bill in 80 years. Of course, now all it has to do is overcome a filibuster in the Senate.

We're joined today by longtime labor historian and author NELSON LICHTENSTEIN, Distinguished Professor at UC-Santa Barbara, where he directs the Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy. Lichtenstein explains both the importance of the PRO Act and the ongoing vote to unionize Amazon down in Alabama. He also addresses the question as to whether Biden could become the most pro-union President in modern times, or even in history.

"The bar is very low," Lichtenstein concedes, in comparing Biden to recent Presidents who may have supported unions with words --- though none as directly as we've seen from Biden to date --- but not necessarily with their actions. "Biden is saying all the right things, but this will all fade unless there actually is legislation that is passed in some form" that turns "the reality on the ground" into a "revival of trade unionism."

"It's one thing to say terrific things --- and I'm not being cynical, all power to him  --  but history will judge him by whether or not there is in fact an increase in real wages, an increase in union membership, an increase in the power of organized labor."

The colorful professor has much more to say that I can possibly do justice to here, so please tune in. But, after we discuss how it just so happens that the most prosperous period in history for the American middle class also coincides with the era when trade unionism and collective bargaining were at their zenith, I ask if there is any actual historical economic data in support of the notion that unions are somehow either bad for business or workers, as folks on the right would have you believe, and as all too many in this country have fallen for after decades of corporate, anti-union propaganda.

"No," Lichtenstein answers emphatically. "There is no support for that. It is good both economically, in an immediate sense, and even more important, politically, because it helps sustain a social democratic ethos and policy block in the country." He goes on to add: "One of the reasons for the deterioration in America of everything --- from race relations to stagnating living standards --- is because of the weakness of unions in the last forty, fifty years."

As noted, do yourself a favor and tune in for our conversation. I learned a lot and suspect you may as well. And, as a gift, we close today with arguably the ONLY good thing to come out of the Trump years: national treasure Randy Rainbow returns with another new tune that may keep you humming all night...

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Guest: David Dayen on Wednesday's 'incredible' anti-trust hearing in the House and new book 'Monopolized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power'; Also: Herman Cain dies of COVID; Trump tries to distract from newly disastrous economic numbers; Rep. Lewis laid to rest...
By Brad Friedman on 7/30/2020 7:01pm PT  

The day began with a middle of the night earthquake here in Los Angeles. It was the least turbulent part of the day. We open with some grim news on today's BradCast before moving on to some shockingly encouraging news out of....wait for it....Congress of all places! [Audio link to full show is posted at end of summary.]

First up today, former Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain succumbed to the coronavirus. As co-chair of Black Voices for Trump, the 74-year old Cain attended Donald Trump's controversial mask-free rally in Tulsa on June 20. By July 2nd he was hospitalized with COVID-19 and now dead a month later. He wasn't the only high profile Republican to pass away from the coronavirus today. Bill Montgomery also died. He was the 80-year old co-founder of the rightwing "student group" (yes, a GOP student group founded by an 80-year old!) called Turning Point USA. The organization hosted Trump's second, similarly mask-free rally after Tulsa in Phoenix. Despite claims by both Cain and Montgomery's group that hydroxychloroquine was "100% effective" in treating coronavirus, turns out, as the FDA has emphasized, it isn't.

Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis was finally laid to rest on Thursday in Atlanta, where he was eulogized by three former Presidents. Trump did not attend after also failing to pay his respects while Lewis lay in state at the U.S. Capitol earlier this week. President Obama, however, offered stirring remarks in memoriam, calling for the expansion of voting rights which Lewis spent a lifetime --- and no small amount of blood --- fighting for.

The former President's remarks came shortly after our current President feebly suggested on Twitter that the November election should be delayed "until people can properly, securely and safely vote," charging that "2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history" due to the use of mail-in ballots needed to counteract the dangers of in-person voting during the pandemic that Trump utterly failed to control. That controversial call for delaying the election --- immediately and universally rejected by Republicans and Democrats alike --- was largely to a) further propagandize Trump's supporters into believing the November election results will be illegitimate and, more immediately, b) distract from the horrific economy news released by the federal government just minutes before Trump's tweet.

The news he was hoping to distract from: The U.S. economy plunged a staggering, unprecedented, annualized 32.9% in the second quarter of this year. By way of comparison, it took three years before the economy fell 30% during the Great Depression. This has happened in months, as another 1.4 million workers filed for new unemployment claims last week. It was the 19th week in a row of record-shattering 1 million plus applicants, leaving some 30 million Americans now jobless, as Republicans in Congress have failed to extend the expanded unemployment payments from he CARES Act. Those benefits have expired as of this week, and neither Congressional Republicans nor the White House appear to have an acceptable plan to replace them. House Democrats passed their own $3 trillion HEROES Act several months ago to continue those payments and much more critical relief to workers, states and cities, hospitals, homeowners, the U.S. Post Office and many others through the end of the year. Republicans appear to be in stultifying disarray.

But there is some good news today and, believe it or not, it comes out of Congress! The U.S. House Antitrust Subcommittee on Wednesday held a five-hour hearing on Big Tech monopolies, featuring the CEOs of Amazon (Jeff Bezos), Apple (Tim Cook), Google (Sundar Pichai) and Facebook (Mark Zuckerberg) as witnesses. All of them were grilled by Democrats and, yes, even Republicans alike for years of runaway, anti-competitive business practices. Progressive Matt Stoller's coverage of the hearing at The Guardian was headlined "Congress forced Silicon Valley to answer for its misdeeds. It was a glorious sight." Our guest today, DAVID DAYEN, author, investigative financial journalist and Executive Editor of the progressive American Prospect, filed a piece with the exhuberant hed: "The Triumphant Return of Congress," following up his 175-tweet live thread from his Wednesday coverage.

Dayen tells me today that it was "probably the most consequential hearing on corporate power in decades," where one CEO after another was called on the carpet to answer for years of crushing, anti-competitive practices in their sectors. He reports that the "members of that subcommittee," headed up by Democratic Chair David Cicilline of Rhode Island, "knew exactly what they wanted to talk about. They knew who they wanted to target. This is the culmination of a year-long investigation and these members had an incredible amount of knowledge about the harms that these four large corporations have been causing through the exertion of their power."

"They really extracted confessions from Bezos and Zuckerberg and others about the practices they engage in which really are illegal," he says. The hearing couldn't have been better timed for Dayen, coming just a week or so after the publication of his new book Monoplized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power documenting the breathtaking reach of unchecked corporate mergers and consolidation over the past four decades. He explains on today's show, as he does in the book, how century old anti-trust laws were turned on their head during the Reagan Administration, when a theory promoting the idea that monopolies are actually good for consumers was advanced by one Robert Bork. The theory would eventually prove untrue by its own standards. It was not good for consumers and, Dayen describes, failed to take into account the damage that anti-competitive practices actually wrought on small business, employees and the supply chain itself --- leading directly to some of the dangerous consequences and ridiculous shortages we've seen during the COVID crisis in everything from toilet paper to critical medical supplies and personal protective equipment.

"This hearing was a complete indictment of the Federal Trade Commission and the anti-trust division of the Justice Department, who had access to all this information that the subcommittee had. They had all of these documents. They had all of the ability to conduct an investigation. In fact, it's their job to do so," Dayen observes. "They did not do that, and waved through merger after merger after merger, and the people who had that authority, under Democratic administrations and Republican administrations, who were responsible for this failure should not be listened to again, and they should not hold power again."

Dayen is hopeful that Wednesday's hearing may actually spur action --- grant permission, if you will --- to the FTC and DOJ to start upholding those unenforced anti-trust and anti-monopoly laws and regulations that remain on the books. "The only way that gets done is that the momentum from this hearing is built, where a popular movement to understand and work against the power of monopolies is what is going to carry us forward. It has in the past. That's how we got these laws in the first place, because people demanded the political system respond, and it's how we're going to get them now."

I should note here that I make a personal cameo appearance in Dayen's new book (beginning on page 85, if you must know) discussing my own personal experience with the anti-competitive monopoly practices in the media industry, and how the unchecked "sale" of our public airwaves to a handful of mega-media corporations has led directly to all of the various disasters --- political, economic, societal and, yes, medical --- that are now rending apart our very republic.

Dayen, whose indispensable daily "Unsanitized" column at The American Prospect chronicles the continuing eroding state of our national battle with the global coronavirus pandemic and its ever-worsening toll on our economy, closes by bringing us up to date on the disastrous Republican effort to craft a new emergency relief bill in Congress, as expanded unemployment benefits expire and the U.S. Postal Service faces implosion just months away from the largest vote-by-mail election in the nation's history...

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Guest: American Prospect's David Dayen; Also: TX Guv knew deaths would spike after reopening, did it anyway; Judge reinstates NY Dem Prez primary; MT's Bullock leading U.S. Senate race...
By Brad Friedman on 5/6/2020 7:00pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We start and finish today with some good news. Everything else inside that sandwich may be a different matter. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, a federal judge has ordered the New York State Board of Elections to reinstate all candidates to the ballot who have not asked to be removed for the state's June 23 Democratic Presidential primary. The order is in response to a lawsuit filed by former candidate Andrew Yang following the state Board's effective cancellation of the primary --- ostensibly to lower polling place turnout to make it safer voters. The move last week angered the Bernie Sanders campaign, his supporters and, yes, Yang. That seemingly good news for voters is tempered by the fact that the NY Board says they plan to appeal the decision.

In less good news today, the coronavirus infection and death rate in Texas has --- completely predictably --- spiked with thousands of new cases after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott lifted restrictions in the Lone Star State last week for businesses. Even more disturbingly, Abbott knew that it would happen, but did it anyway. An audio recording of a private phone conversation of Abbott speaking to other lawmakers released on Tuesday appears to contradict the Governor's public statements about what would happen after the state reopened all businesses.

Our guest today, The American Prospect's Executive Editor and investigative financial journalist DAVID DAYEN is not happy with public officials who are standing by while the nation is prematurely reopened for business, even as the COVID-19 infection and death rate continues to increase --- not decrease --- across the country. "Anyone working in the federal government on pandemic response right now who doesn't want to be known historically as a mass murderer should probably resign," he recently wrote in one of his must-read daily "Unsanitized" columns.

Dayen speaks to that ("The administration has pretty clearly signaled they are done with pandemic response. They're over it. ... This is a prescription for tens of thousands of people unnecessarily dying. And we should be really clear about that."); the disastrous roll-out of the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), meant to provide short-term relief to small businesses; the far smoother roll-outs of big bailouts for huge corporations; how the federal coronavirus financial relief response compares to the programs implemented in response to the 2008 mortgage crisis and Great Recession (about which Dayen wrote an award-winning book); and his scoop today regarding the U.S. Postal Service.

As we've discussed on the show previously, the USPS is in trouble, thanks to the crash in postal deliveries with so many businesses shut down. The Post Office does not receive any tax-payer dollars. It runs solely on the postage it sells as it delivers to every address in the nation, six days a week. It is also responsible for delivering absentee ballots in all 50 states amid the ongoing global pandemic and will be crucial to our ability to hold something that resembles a legitimate Presidential election this November. But now the Service has said they may have to stop operating entirely as early as June without an infusion of cash.

Republicans in Congress and Donald Trump in the White House have refused, so far, to provide a bailout to the Postal Service as they have for thousands of other private companies. But Congress did approve a $10 billion extension of credit for the USPS, to allow them to borrow more money to weather the crisis. However, the Treasury Department is holding up the increase in the USPS credit limit in hopes of forcing a bunch of conditions on them first.

"The Treasury Department, which offers that line of credit, has signaled that they will use that to make major policy changes," Dayen explains. "In other words, you want that $10 billion? You're going to have to pay the Piper. You're going to have to bust your unions, you're going to have to get some give backs on pay and benefits. You're going to have to do what we want in terms of package delivery. Specifically, making sure Amazon pays through the nose --- this is the thing Donald Trump is obsessed with, because he hates Jeff Bezos --- and you're going to have to institute a bunch of policy changes and give us some decision-making authority on personnel, including the Postmaster General. And that's just to get the loan. ... It's really an imposition into the authority of the Postal Service, which is an independent entity that is self-sufficient."

With that explained, Dayen's scoop today is that the Administration's strong-arming appears to be working. That insight is based on the recently revealed resignation from the USPS Board of Governors by David C. Williams, the former longtime Inspector General and the Democratic appointee to the Board. A longtime champion of the Postal Service (and its return to postal banking --- which could, on its own, save the Service, as we also discuss), Williams' departure, Dayen reports, is a very bad sign that the Republican appointees who control the Board are on the precipice of winning this battle.

What it may mean for the near future of the USPS and its union workers is ominous. All of this is made even worse because Democrats have now given away much, if not all, of their negotiating leverage in Congress to include a bailout for the USPS by kicking the can down the road in earlier emergency relief bills, even as Republicans got just about everything they wanted already in those measures. All and all, this will not be good for the American people in a multitude of ways.

Finally, we close with some slightly better news as promised. According to a new poll in Montana, the state's very popular Democratic Governor Steve Bullock is up by 6 points (46% to 39%) at the moment in his U.S. Senate race against the Montana's GOP incumbent Sen. Steve Daines. A once-longshot win for Democrats in the U.S. Senate, flipping a seat in Montana this year would go a long way towards flipping control of the upper chamber of Congress from red to blue this November. The state which went for Trump by more than 20 points in 2016 (on the same statewide ballot where Bullock won reelection the same year) is also now trending toward Biden, as the same poll from Montana State University finds Trump with only a 5 point lead (45% to 40%) over the former Vice President right now. Of course, it's only May. But we'll take our encouraging news where ever we can find it these days...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 2/18/2020 10:57am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Yet another state now grappling with extreme rains and floods; Antarctica hits another record high; Trump EPA trying to gut yet another public health pollution standard; PLUS: CNBC investment guru warns the writing is on the wall for fossil fuels... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO HELP US WITH A (MUCH-NEEDED) DONATION to celebrate 1000+ episodes of independent, listener-supported climate, energy and environmental news! Thank you!
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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Anti-pipeline protests shut down Canadian rail networks; Global financial giants swear off funding Alberta's dirty tar sands; Peach grower awarded $265 million from Bayer, BASF in weedkiller lawsuit; Huge locust outbreak in East Africa reaches South Sudan; 211 million gallons of sewage spilled into Fort Lauderdale waterways; Hundreds of thousands of mussels cooked to death on New Zealand beach in heatwave...PLUS: It’s official: Federal judge shuts down the largest oil refinery on the East Coast... and much, MUCH more! ...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Guest-host Angie Coiro with Joel Simon of Comm. to Protect Journalists; Also: Fate of big-tech host cities; Weld to primary Trump?; RBG returns...
By Angie Coiro on 2/15/2019 6:11pm PT  

On today's BradCast, I'm in for Brad and Des, dropping by from my own show, In Deep with Angie Coiro.

Today's Rose Garden press conference was drenched in irony: a faltering, incoherent, angry man declaring a "national emergency", even as he demonstrated that he's the crisis. Donald Trump yelled at reporters to sit down, fell into sing-song whimsy, showed off his version of a Chinese accent, repeated phrases when he lost his train of thought, wielding terrifyingly grown-up powers with the gravitas of a toddler in a man's suit.

Fortunately, enough roadblocks will be thrown down --- by Reps AOC and Castro, by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, by the ACLU, and presumably by property owners along the proposed wall sites --- that he should be kept busy and irritated for some time. The taxpayer money wasted will be appalling.

Republican former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld appears willing to throw himself atop the bomb: he says he may primary Donald Trump. He minced no words -– I mean, he was stunningly straightforward -– in criticizing his fellow GOPers, who he said exhibit all the signs of Stockholm Syndrome(!). Someone needs to step up, he says. He even hints that he's willing to act as a spoiler to damage Trump in the general.

Plus the latest on Facebook, Amazon, and what tech campuses have to offer their neighbors.

Finally, my guest JOEL SIMON of the Committee to Protect Journalists. His new book, We Want To Negotiate, makes a compelling case that both the US and Britain need to re-examine their "we don't negotiate with terrorists" policies. His research puts the lie to a lot of assumptions, for example, that to pay ransoms will encourage more kidnappings. It makes sense on the face of it, but --- wrong.

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 11/29/2018 11:25am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: The world is not doing nearly enough to cut emissions, warns new U.N. report; Amazon's new headquarters in Queens, NY will be hit with rising seas; House Democrats introduce a price on carbon; PLUS: Australia grapples with massive wildfire outbreak amid record heat waves... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...

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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Trump's comments defending his climate change denial are bonkers; The Depravity of Climate Denial; World's emissions gap is widening --- here's how to close it; Adani's controversial Carmichael coal mine to go ahead with plans to self-fund entire operation; UK company has ambitious plan to replace natural gas with hydrogen; Why focusing on money misses the big climate picture; Cost of keeping Asian carp from Great Lakes nearly triples; Rivian launches an all-electric 7-seat SUV with over 410 miles of range; Brazil backs out of hosting 2019 U.N. climate change meeting; Stop letting Republicans lie on TV about climate science.. PLUS: 3 issues to watch at the COP24 climate summit... and much, MUCH more! ...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Guest hosted by Angie Coiro, with wisdom from historian Adam Hochschild; Abortion rights update; John Roberts vs. Donald Trump; Saudi Arabia torture reports; urban housing insights, and more!...
By Angie Coiro on 11/21/2018 6:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast, I'm in for Brad today --- Angie Coiro, host of In Deep with Angie Coiro.

Quite the contrast between all the news Brad and Desi had to fit in yesterday, and the relatively quiet developments today; everyone's hitting the road. Except Donald, who's hitting Twitter, and SCOTUS chief John Roberts, who's hitting back.

We start with a round-up of news, including three abortion stories (yes, politicians in Ohio want you dead if you get or give an abortion); three tales of adults adulting, even in DC; and a story out of Saudi Arabia that makes it even more astounding that Trump loves the Crown Prince (and Saudi-tied profits) so dearly. Plus a look at Robert Reich's antitrust take on Facebook, Google, and Amazon.

Then long-time historian/journalist ADAM HOCHSCHILD discusses his book, Lessons from a Dark Time --- a collection of his work from over the decades. (A warning here for those who are sensitive to sexual assault discussions, as that does come up.) We talk about prison reform, redefining gun issues, and how far the Nazi Germany metaphor might play out in the US.

Housing activist and journalist RANDY SHAW has a book, too, and it has an unusual take on the urban housing crisis: it's a generational thing. Generation Priced Out documents his investigations in twelve major US cities, seeking both factors and fixes. In addition to the more universally-recognized culprits, he sees a less-discussed one: Baby Boomer resistance to housing the next generations.

And at the very tail end of the hour, a little something to make you smile --- to get you into the Thanksgiving spirit of gratitude. I'll let you check it out for yourself.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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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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