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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, May 17, 2024
FEC Repubs Vote to Allow Campaign Donor Anonymity: 'BradCast' 5/16/24
Guest: Public Citizen's Craig Holman; Also: Two (generally) encouraging SCOTUS rulings on CFPB funding and a second Black-majority U.S. House district in Louisiana...
'Green News Report' 5/16/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Canadian wildfires expand; Climate change exacerbated extreme heat in Asia; Broadcast media ignored Trump's billion dollar Big Oil quid pro quo; Plus: Biden v. China on EVs...
Previous GNRs: 5/14/24 - 5/9/24 - Archives...
Trump Trial Ketchup: Cohen, a 'Smoking Gun', and 'The Cult of Trump': 'BradCast' 5/15/24
Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, attorney Keith Barber of Daily Kos; Also: MD, NE, WV primary results; Biden, Trump agree to early debates...
LAPD Right-Wing Bias in Violent Response to UCLA Protest Was No Surprise
U.S. law enforcement has long sided with the right against peaceful anti-war, environmental, racial and economic injustice protesters...
Could Ohio Repubs REALLY Keep Biden Off the Ballot?!: 'BradCast' 5/14/24
Also: GOP dirty tricks in WA; More GOP voter suppression in GA; Brighter news from WI and on the slow painful death of 'stare decisis'...
'Green News Report' 5/14/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Canada's fire season erupts, as smoke chokes U.S. Upper Midwest; Record-breaking increase in global CO2 levels; PLUS: MI is newest state to sue Big Oil for climate damages...
Previous GNRs: 5/9/24 - 5/7/24 - Archives...
Recount in Tied U.S. House Primary Highlights Probs in CA Law: 'BradCast' 5/13/24
Guest: Dr. John Maa; Also: Bannon denied; Giuliani fired; Menendez trial begins; Cohen takes stand in Trump's NY criminal trial...
Sunday 'Stormy Weather Continues' Toons
THIS WEEK: Cannon Fire ... Catch and Kill ... Parasites ... Protesting Too Much ... and more, in our latest collection of the week's most turbulent toons...
Facing Down the Threat to American Democracy: 'BradCast' 5/9/24
A veteran reporter speaks out; DHS marshals defenses; Lara lies about ballots; Johnson lies about 'illegals' voting; Also: MTG's spectacular fail; Stormy wins the day; Biden cuts off Israel...
'Green News Report' 5/9/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Tornado outbreaks across U.S.; FL Repubs ban 'climate change'; House Repubs' latest salvo in 'War on Woke Appliances'; PLUS: US culture shift in portrayal of climate reality...
Previous GNRs: 5/7/24 - 5/2/24 - Archives...
Trump Trial Ketchup:
Stormy Takes the Stand: 'BradCast' 5/8/24
Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, attorney Keith Barber of Daily Kos; Also: 'Warning signs' from IN primary results; Blankenship's run in WV...
New Cybersecurity Breach in Coffee County, GA: 'BradCast' 5/7/24
Guest: Election integrity expert Marilyn Marks; Also: Stormy takes the stand in NY; GA's Republican former Lt. Gov. endorses Biden...
'Green News Report' 5/7/24
Relentless rain, flooding in Houston and Brazil; April 2024 was hottest on record; PLUS: Biden unveils billions for rural clean energy, replacing toxic lead water pipes...
2024 Electoral -- and Climate -- Omens: 'BradCast' 5/6/24
From Britain to Panama to Brazil to Houston; Also: Latest in Israel's war on Gaza and in Trump's NY criminal trial...
Sunday 'Self Reflecting' Toons
THIS WEEK: Champions of 'free speech' ... 'Captain Fascism' ... Kristi 'Dog Gone' Noem... and more, in our latest collection of the week's best political toons...
'Green News Report' 5/2/24
Extreme heat, storms grip Asia; Big brands and Big Plastic; Plastic pollution treaty talks end; PLUS: Congress finds Big Oil still trying to deceive the public...
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: GOP dirty tricks in WA; More GOP voter suppression in GA; Brighter news from WI and on the slow painful death of 'stare decisis'...
By Brad Friedman on 5/14/2024 6:34pm PT  

We're covering 2024 election news in at least four different states on today's BradCast --- track conditions, not horse race --- and only one of those stories is particularly good news as GOP dirty tricks and voter suppression seem to be getting an early start this year. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among our main stories today...

  • Voters in Maryland, Nebraska and West Virginia headed to primary polls on Tuesday, with critical U.S. Senate and other races on the ballot. Noteworthy results and/or problem reports on tomorrow's program.
  • We first began reporting on this story early last month, when it seemed utterly ridiculous to even contemplate. It still does, frankly. Nonetheless, Ohio's wildly dysfunctional, partisan-gerrymandered Republican state legislature missed last week's deadline for a legislative fix to allow Joe Biden on the Buckeye State ballot this year. Ohio has a state law that requires Presidential candidates be officially certified by their party 90 days before the general election to be included on the state ballot. But the Dems' convention this year is just 74 days before the election. In past years --- for example, for Donald Trump in 2020 --- lawmakers simply changed the deadline to cure the problem as needed when conventions are held later in the Summer. This year, however, petulant state Republicans are demanding a pound of flesh from Democrats to make any such changes. And now, with last week's deadline past, its going to be even more difficult to do so. Tune in for the full --- and still ridiculous --- skinny.
  • Speaking of ridiculous, a rightwing activist in the state of Washington placed two Democratic candidates for Governor named Bob Ferguson on the ballot last Friday, just hours before the state's August 6th primary deadline. The state's longtime Democratic Attorney General, and front-runner to win the Governorship this year, is also named Bob Ferguson. And so the GOP's dirty tricks chaos for 2024 officially begins.
  • If they can't keep Democratic candidates off the ballot for no good reason, or add several candidates with the same name to the ballot to wreak confusion, Republicans still remember how to do it with good old fashioned voter suppression laws, like the newest one signed last week by Georgia's Republican Governor Brian Kemp.
  • Meanwhile, Democrats are still in court fighting back Republican voter suppression from years ago. On Monday, the newly liberal majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court heard oral argument to reverse a ridiculous ruling by the high court's previous rightwing majority that bans the use of secure absentee ballot drop-boxes. That, even as they've been used for years without incident or fraud in the Badger State (or anywhere else, for that matter.) The hearing was encouraging, as even the defendants --- the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission --- agree there is nothing in state law that actually bans their use. "The Commission fully agrees that drop boxes are permitted under Wisconsin statutes," said the Asst. AG representing them at the hearing. But it sure was amusing to hear Republicans argue in favor of stare decisis (respect for legal precedent and settled law) to keep the 2022 ruling in place from the rightwing partisan court just two years ago. Especially when one of the court's liberal justices at the hearing cited none other than U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito's majority opinion in Dobbs that overturned 50 years of Roe v. Wade legal precedent. Using Alito's precise language from the SCOTUS ruling, the WI Justice asked what Republican plaintiffs thought the court should do if they found the previous ruling to be "egregiously wrong".
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as wildfire season explodes in Canada; the world records a record-breaking rise in CO2 levels; and Michigan moves to sue Big Oil for ever-worsening climate damages...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Dr. John Maa; Also: Bannon appeal denied; Giuliani fired; Trial begins for Menendez; Cohen takes stand in Trump's NY criminal case...
By Brad Friedman on 5/13/2024 6:23pm PT  

We've got a whole lotta Trump accountability news (and some for one high-ranking Democrat as well) since we last spoke to you on The BradCast last week. We'll get you up to speed on all of that today, but not before getting caught up on a crazy recount situation out here in the Golden State which I hope does not serve as a precursor to election challenges this Fall. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

The March 5th Super Tuesday primary elections here in California ended in an exact tie in the race to fill the Northern California U.S. House seat being vacated by long-serving, now-retiring Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo in the state's 16th Congressional District.

The exact tie --- with 30,249 votes for each candidate --- was not for first place, but for second place. Since 2010, California has used a Top-Two primary system where all candidates in a race, from any and all parties, run in the same primary. The top two vote getters --- regardless of party --- then move on to the general election in November.

In the CA-16 race, with 11 candidates running in March, former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo won with a fairly comfortable 5 point margin. In second place, however, Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian and state Assemblymember Evan Low were tied according to the certified results in early April.

Under CA law, that meant all three --- all Democrats in the very left-leaning Bay Area district --- would advance to the general, for the first time in CA's Top-Two primary history. That left all three men seemingly happy enough. Liccardo, in first place, would have his competition split between two competitors and Simitian and Low would each go to the general election. Neither dared asked for a recount, because a single change of even one vote would knock one of the second-place finishers out.

CA law doesn't allow for an automatic, state-funded recount in such closes races (as dozens of other states do). But it does allow any voter to request a recount in any race they like, so long as they are willing to pay for it. If the final recounted results cause a change to the certified results of the election, the requester is supposed to be refunded. At least, in theory.

A guy by the name of Jonathan Padilla sought a recount in the race. He filed on behalf of Low, because you have to file on behalf of one of the candidates, even though Low says he had nothing to do with the request. Padilla, it seems, had worked for first-place finisher Liccardo during his 2014 run for Mayor in San Jose, though not lately. And while Liccardo says he knows nothing about Padilla's effort here, and nobody seems to know who actually funded the recount, it was carried out over several weeks recently in both San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, which the 16th CD splits across.

Padilla was initially told that the recount would cost about $320,000 in Santa Clara alone. It would cost another $84,000 to recount in San Mateo, astronomically high numbers in a state which still allows County Registrars to charge pretty much anything they like. Those charges vary wildly from county to county (as we have detailed multiple times over the years) and all votes cast in a race must be re-tallied in order for results to be official recertified.

The costs to Padilla were then largely cut in half once he agreed to a recount by the same computer scanners that tallied the ballots in the initial count, rather than by a manual hand-count wherein results can be known to be accurate.

In any event, please tune in to find out who won the recount (by just 5 votes total!) and why it is that the CA Sec. of State now says Padilla is not due a refund after all, even though the results of the recount changed the results of the election to send just two candidates, instead of three, to this year's general.

We're joined today by DR. JOHN MAA, a San Francisco-based surgeon who was the first voter ever in California to seek and fund a statewide recount of a ballot initiative way back in 2010. He has become a bit of an expert in CA recounts since then, and advised both Low and Simitian during the recent 16th District recount.

Maa explains a number of vulnerabilities in CA's antiquated recount laws that were once again exposed by this latest recount, from seemingly arbitrary costs to requesters in each CA county (making recounts unaffordable to all but the weathiest of voters or candidates), to the concerns about retallying votes by the same computer scanners that tallied them in the first place, to the absurd ruling by the SoS that Padilla should not be refunded for the entire thing.

"Ultimately, I believe that the requester is a hero for Election Integrity," Maa tells me about Padilla. "And they bore the cost of what I believe that the Registrar's office should have done, because their certification of a tie was actually in error."

Tune in for much more.

THEN, in the second half of today's program, we get caught up on a whole bunch of legal woes for Donald Trump and several of his top supporters, as well as accountability for New Jersey's sitting Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, who is accused, along with his wife, of bribery and corruption to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. His criminal trial began jury selection in Manhattan today.

As to the Trumpers, 2016 Campaign Manager and top Trump White House Advisor Steve Bannon's appeal was rejected late last week in the two Contempt of Congress charges he was found guilty of, resulting in a four-month sentence for defying subpoenas from the Congressional Committee investigating the Trump-incited January 6th insurrection. Bannon has a few more appeal options left before he, like White House trade advisor Pete Navarro (already serving four months for the same crime) is sent off to a federal penal facility.

Trump's disgraced 2020 attorney and former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani --- who is also facing criminal charges in Arizona and Georgia, a bunch of civil lawsuits and has already been found liable for $148 million for repeatedly defaming two Atlanta poll workers in 2020 --- was fired from his daily radio show gig at WABC in New York. Apparently, the billionaire Republican owner of the station let him go because Rudy refused to stop lying about the results of the 2020 election on air. Sad!

And, also in New York on Monday, Trump's former personal lawyer and "fixer" Michael Cohen finally took the stand to offer pivotal testimony in the disgraced former President's first criminal trial on 34 felony counts related to the falsification of business records meant to hide his White House repayments to Cohen for hush-money given to porn star Stormy Daniels to help him win the 2016 election.

Oh, and a few callers ring in today as well, in another very busy BradCast to kick off the week!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Congressional Dems expose depths of Big Oil deception, denial...
By Brad Friedman on 5/2/2024 6:16pm PT  

Today's BradCast is perhaps better listened to than explained. But here's a quick summary and some links for more details. [Audio link to full program follows this summary.]

We focus today on the largely peaceful pro-Palestinian protests that have sprung up on college campuses across the U.S. over the past week or two in response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's punishing, ongoing assault of Gaza and the Biden Administration's facilitation --- reluctant or otherwise --- of that effort. Our central focus is on the responses to the protests here in the U.S. by counter protesters, media, politicians (including remarks by Joe Biden today), and, most disturbingly, armed riot police who seem to be touching off the bulk of the violence, or at least the eye-catching "if it bleeds it leads" scenes of chaotic confrontations that are easy to show on television news, whether they capture the truth of the moment or not.

As noted, today's program is better listened to than explained, I think. But, among the source material referenced in our coverage...

As usual, I welcome your responses in comments below or via email. If you can keep 'em short and sweet perhaps I'll share them on the show.

Also today, Desi Doyen covers the damning new report [PDF] from Congressional Democrats exposing how the oil industry spent decades deceiving the public and sowing doubt about the dangers of burning the fossil fuels that are the primary drivers of our climate crisis. Internal documents reveal how Big Oil shifted from outright climate denial to a covert strategy of "deception, disinformation and doublespeak" to delay the transition to clean energy and preserve their profits --- publicly professing support for reducing emissions while privately lobbying against climate laws and regulations. The tranche of subpoenaed communications were the focus of a Senate Budget Committee hearing on Wednesday, with expert testimony delving into the details of the oil industry's ongoing efforts to mislead the public about fossil fuels and the climate crisis.

And finally, our latest Green News Report with a bit more on the above, and on the unforgiving costs the world continues to pay for it, including this week with extreme heat and storms in Asia and the oil industry-facilitated plastic pollution crisis across the globe...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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NY judge finds Trump in criminal contempt; A 'key' prediction for 2024; UAW wins again; Indicted AZ state Senator rewarded by RNC; Good news for trans people in WV, NC; Biden goes to pot...not a moment too soon...
By Brad Friedman on 4/30/2024 6:56pm PT  

We've got quite a few good news items amidst all the madness on today's BradCast. You may enjoy a few hits of dopamine along the way. Your welcome. Please listen responsibly. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among our stories today...

  • Just to help kick things off...American University distinguished professor Allan Licthman has a "13 keys to the White House" method for predicting who will win any Presidential election. His method has accurately called the winners in 9 of the past 10 elections. (In fact, he was arguably right in 10 out of 10!) We discuss his method and, though he's not yet made his "official" prediction this year, who he believes currently has the upper hand in 2024.
  • Donald Trump was found in criminal contempt of court in his New York trial related to his 2016 election interference via hush-money felony charges. Justice Juan Merchan found [PDF] Trump violated his gag order barring attacks on jurors and witnesses via social media and elsewhere in nine different instances. The judge made clear that incarceration is pretty much the only option left by state law if Trump commits new violations. Veteran federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner suggests today's ruling may make things "significantly worse" for the disgraced former President, as the bail conditions in all four of his criminal indictments in four different jurisdictions bar him from committing new crimes. We also get you quickly up to speed on some of the Prosecution's new witnesses on the stand in the actual trial on Tuesday.
  • United Auto Workers' chief Shawn Fain is on a roll. Just over a week ago workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga voted by a 3 to 1 margin to unionize on the heels of the UAW's huge victories last year in their strike against Detroit's Big Three automakers. The victory by workers at the Tennessee plant was the first of its kind in the South. And then, late last week, the union struck a last minute deal for a new contract with Daimler Truck in North Carolina, bringing big pay raises and major benefit increases to workers at four of the company's plants in the state.
  • As we reported previously, 18 Trump allies in Arizona last week were criminally indicted on nine charges each of conspiracy, fraud and forgery related to their failed attempt to steal the 2020 election for Trump in the state via a Fake Electors plot. Over the weekend, state Sen. Jake Hoffman, one of two sitting state Senators indicted as a Fake Elector, was chosen, just days later, by the Republican National Committee to be an official National Committeeman in the 2024 election. Apparently criminal indictments for election fraud are now being rewarded by today's GOP.
  • The full 4th U.S. Court of Appeals on Monday ruled that West Virginia and North Carolina's decision to refuse health care for transgender people under government-sponsored insurance is discriminatory and a violation of federal law. NC blocked gender-affirming care for state employees and WV Medicaid blocked coverage for gender-affirming surgery. The plaintiffs won in an 8 to 6 ruling at the appeals court, though the thoroughly corrupted and illegitimate U.S. Supreme Court Republican majority will almost certainly have the final say in the matter.
  • The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will finally remove marijuana as a Schedule III narcotic, according to a report by AP today. It will no longer be treated similar to heroin and cocaine, as the Biden Administration plans to finally reclassify the popular plant as Schedule I after 50 years, now that some 38 states have already legalized cannabis for medicinal and/or recreational use. President Biden previously pardoned thousands of Americans charged with simple possession under federal law and urged states to do the same. Democrats in Congress, in the meantime, are pushing the DEA and Attorney General to drop it from the list of controlled-substances entirely to treat it more like alcohol.
  • The news above is one of a spate of newly or soon-to-be finalized regulations from a bunch of Biden Administration Executive Agencies. You may (or may not) have heard news of late about a cascade of new rules issued by the Administration on everything from Student Loan forgiveness to dozens of new environmental and climate-related regulations. There is a reason they are all happening right about now, and it has to do with the Congressional Review Act, which we explain in detail on today's program.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our 1,400th Green News Report! And yes, along with troubling news for Africa and the U.S. Gulf Coast, she's got some historic news of landmark new regulations from the EPA to curb pollution from U.S. power plants. And, yes, that too should be in time to beat GOP abuse of the Congressional Review Act as cited above...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Pandora, TuneIn, Google, Amazon or our native RSS feed!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Also: 12 jurors now seated in Trump's NY criminal trial; NV Supreme Court approves ballot measure to protect 'reproductive freedoms'; OH Republicans still refusing to put Biden on the 2024 ballot...
By Brad Friedman on 4/18/2024 6:49pm PT  

You may be happy to know we don't begin today's BradCast with news about the disgraced former President. But you may be less happy about what we do lead with, especially if you own a home or a car or live on Planet Earth. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among our many stories today...

  • Recently, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell confirmed that, thanks in no small part to our quickly worsening climate, insurance rates for cars and homes continue to skyrocket. Yes, manmade climate change is a key factor in slowing the decrease of inflation (which, of course, is just one reason Republicans would rather do nothing about it). As the frequency and intensity of weather-related disasters quickens (just ask the folks in New Orleans who were swamped with some 8 inches of rain in a matter of hours last week), the cost of insurance is spiking, becoming unaffordable for many and even unattainable in a number of coastal states. You may soon discover that your home is worth a lot less than you think, thanks to the climate crisis. We step through some of those grim details today, the trillions of dollars it is ALREADY costing Americans, and the even grimmer news about what is still to come unless and until we can end the burning of fossil fuels that is only beginning to wreak so much havoc across the entire globe.
  • We started reporting on this story last week, when it didn't seem like it could really be a story. Well, it's beginning, at least, to look more like it really could be a real story. Ohio's Republican Attorney General has now joined the state's Republican Sec. of State to say they will not allow Joe Biden on the state's ballot this November unless the Democratic Party certifies his candidacy before the state's statutory deadline of August 7. The Democratic National Convention, which is set to officially nominate the President, doesn't happen until August 19. When a similar situation occurred in 2020 --- which might have kept Donald Trump off the ballot --- the GOP state legislature simply changed the statutory deadline for that year. But now, because it's only Democrats whose convention isn't scheduled to take place until after OH's 90-day deadline before the November 5th election, Buckeye State Republicans seem to be suggesting they may actually not put Biden on the ballot...as impossible as that seems to believe. Let the lawsuits begin...
  • The Nevada Supreme Court on Thursday overturned a lower court ruling that had blocked a broad, Constitutional "Reproductive Freedom" measure to protect prenatal care, abortion, vasectomies and infertility care from appearing on this November's ballot in the critical battle ground state. Supporters of the measure are celebrating today, but are also said to be gathering signatures for a second measure that will focus only on abortion rights for this year's ballot.
  • After two of seven previously-seated jurors were dismissed on Thursday morning in Donald Trump's criminal trial in New York, seven more were seated before the day was done. Barring any other dismissals, that fills out the 12 jurors that will be needed to begin the case proper, once six alternate jurors are chosen. The judge admonished the press for reporting enough details about jurors that one who asked to be removed this morning said that friends had been able to identify her from media reports. Also, after prosecutors earlier this week sought sanctions against Trump for three violations of his gag order, they cited another seven incidents since then. That issue will be heard next week. Opening Statements in the trial could begin as early as Monday if the case continues to move briskly forward.
  • Very exciting news is underway in the South this week, specifically in Tennessee, where workers at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga are now voting to unionize and join the United Auto Workers. Workers at the plant seem confident that the election will be successful. But that's just the first of 13 non-union automakers who are being targeted for unionization by the UAW since labor unions huge victories last year in strikes against GM, Ford and Stellantis (which now owns Jeep and Chrysler). Another election is likely to happen soon at a Mercedes-Benz plant in Alabama, with 36 non-union plants targeted in all. If workers are successful in unionizing at both VW and Mercedes in the two southern states, according to one labor historian, it "would be nothing less than an earthquake" for the labor movement and its "biggest breakthrough in private-sector organizing in decades." It apparently has anti-labor Republicans worried. In a joint statement described by one expert as "unprecedented and shocking", six southern state governors, all Republican --- from Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas --- issued a joint statement on the day before voting began at VW, charging that "unionization would put our states' jobs in jeopardy." Kentucky's Democratic Governor, Andy Beshear, by contrast, announced last week that he was "proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder" with the UAW.
  • Finally, in case we didn't frighten you enough with our opening coverage of the catastrophic, climate change-fueled weather driving insurance rates through the roof, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with much more to frighten you about. But she also has good news for workers as well, and bad news for the fossil fuel industry tools at Fox "News"...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: LawDork's Chris Geidner; Also: Scam GOP impeachment trial ends in one day; AZ Repubs spike repeal of 1864 abortion law (again); Voter turnout doubles in AL's new majority minority U.S. House District...
By Brad Friedman on 4/17/2024 6:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast: If only the corrupted U.S. Supreme Court cared as much about the exact words in Section 3 of the 14th Amendment (the "Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause") as they pretend to care about the word "otherwise" in a criminal statute used to hold hundreds of January 6 insurrectionists --- including the former President --- accountable for obstructing an official government proceeding. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

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

  • Yesterday, House Republicans formerly delivered two articles of revenge impeachment against DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to the U.S. Senate for a trial. Today the trial began and ended, as Democrats determined the articles contained no High Crimes and Misdemeanors as required by the Constitution.
  • Despite pleas from Donald Trump and GOP U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake for Arizona state lawmakers to repeal their draconian 1864 total abortion ban (which Lake long supported...until the all-GOP state Supreme Court revived the law last week), Republicans lawmakers in the state legislature blocked another attempt by Democrats to repeal the 160-year old territorial law.
  • In Tuesday's Democratic Primary runoff for Alabama's newly redrawn 2nd Congressional District, the popular progressive, Shomari Figures, easily won. The more important news, however, may be that Democratic voter turnout during the first round of voting last month on Super Tuesday doubled from two years earlier. That, after the state was finally ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court to redraw their unconstitutionally, racially gerrymandered Congressional Map to include a second district where Black voters may have a chance of selecting a candidate of their choosing.

Next, we're joined by longtime legal journalist CHRIS GEIDNER of Law Dork News to discuss Tuesday's Oral Argument in Fischer v. U.S. at the U.S. Supreme Court. The case questions whether a January 6th insurrectionist was properly charged with a 2002 law that criminalizes obstruction of an official government proceeding.

Some 300 of about 1,400 of those charged for their participation in the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol --- including Trump himself --- have been charged and/or convicted by more than a dozen D.C. federal judges under this same statute. But one of those judges, a Trump appointee, rejected the use of the law. He was overturned by the D.C. Court of Appeals, but the plaintiff --- a police officer at the time --- took his case to SCOTUS, which heard it on Tuesday.

Geidner was at the Court this week during Oral Argument and joins us today to explain how the hearing went; why this challenge over the the meaning of the word "otherwise" in the statute even exists; the rightwing Justices' newly-discovered concerns about overcriminalization; whether he believes the Court will kill, narrow or allow the statute to stand as is; and how their ruling might affect both the cases for hundreds of insurrectionists and two of the four criminal charges that rely on the statute in Special Counsel Jack Smith's federal indictment of the former President for his multiple failed attempts to steal the 2020 election.

Geidner also offers a preview of next Thursday's looong-awaited hearing on Trump's ridiculous, rejected-by-every-lower-court, "Presidential Immunity" case, in which he asserts that all Presidents must have absolute immunity to commit any and all crimes they like while in office.

"The arguments advanced by Trump have no foundation in history, in practice, or in experience. And there is a very strong case for imagining that we will get a 9-0 decision in that case, even with this Court," Geidner argues, before noting: "The bottom line here is Trump will still have delayed [his federal 2020 election interference] case. It will be at least May before we get a ruling on this. So, in some ways, win lose or draw, he has won, if the goal here is to avoid the possibility of a conviction on these charges before the election is held in November."

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New RNC Chair suggests Ukraine a U.S. enemy; GA Lt. Guv facing fake elector probe; OH, AL may keep Biden off ballot; Fox 'News' hides AZ abortion ruling, then Hannity blames Dems; Liberal WI Justice to retire...
By Brad Friedman on 4/11/2024 6:49pm PT  

Desperate times, desperate measures and all that that entails on today's BradCast. Plus, we've got several pieces of long-overdue and wildly under-reported very good news as well. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

  • Yes, Donald Trump's newly hand-picked RNC Chair Michael Whatley really did argue this week that America's enemies include Ukraine and charged that the President's "feckless leadership" encourages them to "meddle with our elections here." He also mentioned China and Iran as U.S. adversaries, but failed to say a word about Russia.
  • Gun safety advocates --- which is to say, the vast majority of Americans --- have been hoping for years to see the so-called "gun show loophole" to avoid background checks closed. Today, after a lengthy rule-making process by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) following passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act in 2022, President Biden and the Dept. of Justice announced they are finally doing it. "This is going to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and felons," said Biden in a statement today. His Attorney General, Merrick Garland, who signed off on the rule on Thursday, told reporters: "Under this regulation, it will not matter if guns are sold on the Internet, at a gun show or in a brick and mortar store. If you sell guns [you] must conduct background checks."
  • Last week it was Ohio's Republican Secretary of State, and now Alabama's is warning Democrats that he may not allow Joe Biden on the state's ballot this November because the Democratic National Convention falls several days after state ballot deadlines. Both Secretaries of State had previously opposed Trump's removal from the ballot in Colorado due to the state Supreme Court's finding that he violated the U.S. Constitution's "Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause". And both OH and AL allowed Donald Trump on their state's ballots in 2020 despite the Republican National Convention being convened after each state's statutory deadlines that year. Are Republicans really that desperate?
  • In 2022, Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis was disqualified from criminally investigating Georgia's Lt. Governor Burt Jones, who aided Trump's attempt to steal the Peach State's 2020 election as a "fake elector". Willis was blocked because she had hosted a fund-raiser for a political rival of Jones. Now, two years later, a former Republican D.A. in the state, Pete Skandalakis, who was tasked with naming an alternate prosecutor to probe Jones --- and sued for taking so long to do it --- has finally named a replacement. Himself.
  • The rightwing propagandists at Fox "News" are definitely getting desperate following the all-Republican Arizona Supreme Court's ruling this week that reinstates an 1864 territorial law mandating a near-total ban on abortion in the state. On Tuesday, the day the ruling was handed down, not one of the rightwing propaganda outlet's evening prime-time stars even discussed it on their shows. That day, the topic was discussed for just 12 minutes across three different Fox programs earlier in the day, as compared to more than two-hours each of coverage on both CNN and MSNBC that same day and night. The next day, on Wednesday, Sean Hannity decided the 160-year old law should now be overturned and blamed the AZ Court's wildly unpopular decision --- and the predicament it offers to both women in the state and Republican candidates around the country --- on Arizona's Democratic Governor and Attorney General (who opposed the ruling.)
  • After the most expensive state Supreme Court race in U.S. history last year, resulting in liberals retaking a majority on Wisconsin's high court for the first time in 15 years, the longest serving member of its now-liberal majority, 73-year old Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, announced she will not run for another 10-year term next year as previously planned. Thursday's decision by the popular, longtime jurist offers a chance for rightwingers to retake control of the Court in the state's 2025 Spring election. They will have to defend seats on the Court in both 2026 and 2027 thereafter. So, if they don't win next year, they won't get another chance at winning back a majority until 2028. The stakes could hardly be higher.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with more wildly under-reported good news on the Biden EPA's new rules to end deadly airborne pollution from chemical plants pollution and cancer-causing PFAS "forever chemicals" in our drinking water. It's about damn time. She's got still more good --- and not so good --- news in today's report as well...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Investigative journalist Helen Santoro; Also: Could OH block Biden from 2024 ballot?; Big media help Trump lie about his abortion position; Biden unveils new student loan debt relief for 30 million Americans...
By Brad Friedman on 4/8/2024 6:19pm PT  

The warnings came from safety experts, insurance companies and environmentalists. Years ago. So, of course, they were all ignored by both the then Republican Governor and big business, including Big Oil, who all got their way over safety concerns and the public interest, as discussed on today's BradCast. [Audio link posted below this summary.]

But first up, some other news of note...

  • Ohio's Republican Secretary of State informed Democrats on Friday that they must change the date of their party's national convention this summer or Joe Biden will not qualify to be on the state's 2024 ballot under state law. Or, of course, the state's GOP legislature could simply change the law, as they did in 2020 when the Republican National Convention was scheduled too late for Donald Trump to qualify for that year's ballot. But the state legislature will have to do so by May 9. Mark your calendars.
  • On Monday in Wisconsin, President Biden unveiled yet another plan, this a very big one, to relieve hundreds of billions of dollars in student loan debt, this time for 30 million Americans after the corrupted U.S. Supreme Court, last year, blocked his original plan to do so for 40 million borrowers.
  • Also on Monday, Donald Trump released a rambling video on his social media cite purporting to be his new position on abortion rights. He takes credit for his SCOTUS majority overturning Roe v. Wade, but says nothing about whether he would sign a national abortion ban; have his FDA block the use of abortion medication; or allow his DoJ to block abortions entirely if he is re-elected this November. So, how did pretty much every single corporate mainstream media outlet headline the "news"? By falsely claiming that "Trump Says Abortion Law Should be Left to the States". But, of course, he didn't. And you wonder how it can be that so many Americans are so misinformed about the threat to the nation and world posed by Donald Trump? There's your answer.

Then, we're joined by investigative journalist HELEN SANTORO of The Lever, who has been digging deep into the Francis Scott Key Bridge disaster ever since its deadly collapse two weeks ago, after being struck by a massive, 980-foot mega-container-ship in the Port of Baltimore.

We discuss two of her recent articles on the tragedy today, both of which underscore how corporate greed and industry lobbyists have been allowed to run roughshod over common sense, public safety, and corporate responsibility.

The first story, filed shortly after the tragedy which killed six bridge workers and has shut down all traffic in or out of one of the East Coast's largest shipping ports ever since, focuses on Maryland's Republican former Governor --- now U.S. Senate Candidate --- Larry Hogan, who ignored multiple, repeated warnings, year after year, in his continuing efforts to bring ever larger vessels into the Port. In doing so, he discounted safety warnings from an insurance giant and an international transit group, while accepting millions in federal funding from the Trump Administration to expand the port and push for still-larger cargo ships. Environmental groups also sounded the alarm about Hogan's efforts, as did a top state engineer as long ago as 1980, when he warned that the Key Bridge could not withstand such a crash, even by smaller vessels, without falling down.

"It seems very clear that [Hogan] really prioritized private interests again and again, wanting Maryland to be this point of business," Santoro explains. "And, it seems like, with prioritizing these private interests, the safety of the bridge was clearly not considered."

The second of Santoro's investigative articles that we discuss today focuses on the 173-year old federal Limitation of Liability Act which caps the amount that shipping companies may be held liable for in such disasters. It earned the nickname "The Titanic Law" back in 1912, when White Star Line, the British-owner of the doomed ship, invoked the Act to pay no more than $430 for each of the more than 1,500 passengers who were lost in that fatal tragedy.

The Act has seen some small reforms over the years, but most attempts in recent years to finally modernize the 1851 law have been stymied by Congressional Republicans at the behest of lobbyists from Big Oil and other industries in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling that same year.

"It was pretty crazy going back and seeing that people have been complaining about this law since the Titanic crashed in 1912," Santoro tells me. "And yet the reforms have been, I would argue, pretty minimal, in terms of upping the amount that a company has to pay."

"Big Oil has really latched on to the Limitation of Liability Act to get themselves out of paying a lot of money for the Deepwater Horizon fiasco and other issues," she says. "There's a lot of industry funding and interest that is big on keeping damage control and the amount they're paying out for damages as low as possible."

Will Maryland's popular former Governor Hogan face accountability in his Senate race to fill the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin this fall for dismissing years of warnings about the very tragedy that has now befallen his state (and the national economy along with it)? Will Congress finally update the antiquated Titanic Law when they return this week, so that major corporations --- which, unlike in the 1850s, are well insured to cover the costs of such disasters --- can be held to real account for the damage they cause in the name of greater and greater profit? Those are just some of the many questions we discuss with Santoro on today's program...

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Three strikes for former Prez; 'No Labels' out; Soft sentence for GOP vote fraudster; WI reconsiders drop-boxes; NE nixes Electoral College change; Biden v. Israel; Sanders joins Biden to tout success against Big Pharma...
By Brad Friedman on 4/4/2024 6:36pm PT  

It was yet another busy news day and, thus, it was another very busy BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

Among the many stories covered today...

  • It has been a very very bad 24 hours for our disgraced former President in three of his four criminal cases, as he's now received rejections from three different judges to three different motions to dismiss or delay in three different jurisdictions over that period. Last night, Juan Merchan, the judge in his New York hush-money fraud case rejected his last minute motion to delay his April 15th trial until after SCOTUS rules on his laughable "Presidential Immunity" claim. The judge in his Georgia election theft conspiracy case, Scott McAfee, rejected Trump's effort to dismiss on ridiculous First Amendment "protected political speech" grounds. And even Aileen Cannon, the corrupt Trump-appointed federal judge overseeing his case in Florida for stealing national security documents upon leaving the White House, finally issued an order rejecting his absurd Presidential Records Act defense as cause for pre-trial dismissal. Sad!
  • The secretive, supposedly "centrist" No Labels group announced they will not be running a third-party candidate for President in 2024 after all.
  • Kim Taylor, the wife of an elected Republican official in Iowa who was named as an unindicted co-conspirator, will get just four months in prison after being found guilty last year of 52(!) election fraud crimes, including registering and casting votes for her husband in the names of others. (Tip for vote fraudsters looking to get off easy: Be a Republican.)
  • Wisconsin's newly progressive Supreme Court majority will now decide whether to reverse the previous right-wing majority's ban on the use of absentee ballot drop-boxes in the critical battleground state this year.
  • An out-of-the-blue call on Tuesday by a rightwing extremist on Twitter to change the way Nebraska will allocate its Electoral College votes in 2024 --- in hopes of awarding an extra vote for Trump this year --- gained support just hours later from the state's Governor and the desperate former President before failing in a vote by the state legislature Wednesday night. Bigly. The measure still could come back up for another vote, however, before the legislative session's end on April 18, or in a Special Session thereafter if called by the Governor.
  • Following a reportedly tense call on Thursday between the nation's two leaders, the White House announced that President Biden issued a warning to Israel's far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Change course in Gaza or...else. The White House said the President demanded swift changes to Israel's war on Gaza to allow much more food and humanitarian aid to reach starving citizens and protection for both civilians and relief workers. Though it remains unclear how U.S. support may change, an Administration spokesperson said they expected to see action from Israel "in hours or days" before reassessing current policy.
  • On Wednesday, Senator Bernie Sanders joined President Biden at the White House to tout their successful efforts at lowering the cost of healthcare and, specially, prescription drug prices following the adoption of the Inflation Reduction Act which every Republican in Congress voted again. After forcing Big Pharma to lower the cost of insulin and certain asthma medication for Medicare recipients to no more than $35/month, both men called for still more cuts in the price of overpriced prescription drugs sold in America to everyone, not just those on Medicare.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with news on a looming, climate-change fueled hunger crisis in Southern Africa; the Biden Administration's largest-ever investment to decarbonize American manufacturing; how melting polar ice is bending time itself; and the opening of America's first commercial-scale offshore wind farm...which is decidedly not killing whales (insists Desi.)

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

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

Among our many stories today...

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guests: 'Driftglass' and Frances Langum of 'The Pro Left' podcast on (almost) everything we missed last week, and why it matters this week...
By Brad Friedman on 4/1/2024 5:40pm PT  

It may be April Fools Day, but its no joke that we are back on today's BradCast after a half-planned, half-doctor-advised Spring Break week off! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Before we left, it seemed like last week might prove to be a slow news week, with Congress on vacation, no primary elections last Tuesday and Trump's New York felony hush-money trial postponed a few weeks until this month.

Boy were we wrong about that. Last week was anything but a slow news week, and we've got the headlines today to prove it! To add some actual context, depth and insight to those headlines --- and to hold my hand after I'd been trying to look away for the past week --- we're joined by two old friends, though only one who you may have heard on this program before.

Our friend known mostly as 'DRIFTGLASS' is back with us again today. He is co-host, along with his wife, of The Professional Left podcast recorded each week from "Flyover Country, Illinois." He is also, today, celebrating his 19th blogiversary at the Driftglass blog, so we're honored he agreed to spend it with us!

And, as if that's not swell enough, his Pro Left Pod co-hosting wife, FRANCES LANGUM, who is also a longtime Associate Editor over at the Crooks & Liars blog, joins us as well today for a romping, rollicking, breathless review of much that we missed last week and why most of it still matters this week!

Among the huge number of topics from last week covered on today's program...

  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA)'s vow to call for removing House Speaker Mike Johnson for his daring to work with Democrats to keep the government from shutting down by passing a long-delayed 2024 spending bill just over a week ago.
  • The failed attempted conspiracy theories forwarded by Russia and its supporters following the horrific massacre by ISIS-K at a concert venue in Moscow a week ago Sunday.
  • Donald Trump's failure to cough up a $454 million bond during the appeal of his New York civil fraud case and the various lifelines thrown to him (for now) by the Appeals Court in NY.
  • Trump's scammy, just-in-time merger of his failing social media site with a public company that could result in billions of dollars --- including "straight-up bribery" as Driftglass describes it --- for the disgraced former President.
  • Trump's New York criminal trial on 34 felony charges related to hush-money payments to porn-star Stormy Daniels to help him win the 2016 Presidential election is now set to begin on April 15. And, as Fran believes, Trump "will do anything to make the evidence that's going to appear in this case not come to trial." Including, she argues, even if he must "spend two or three nights in jail, violating the gag orders, in order to make this case not happen."
  • What the Biden Administration's decision last week to abstain from a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding a ceasefire in Gaza may mean for Israel and for some on the Left in the U.S. And why, if you don't like what Israel is doing, Fran advises: "Don't elect Bibi Netanyahu President of the United States --- which is what Trump is."
  • Why NBC News' ill-considered hiring and then firing of former RNC Chair and attempted election thief Ronna Romney McDaniel matters.
  • What Arizona's failed 2022 Republican Gubernatorial candidate and election liar turned 2024 Senate candidate Kari Lake's decision not to contest the claims in an election fraud defamation lawsuit filed against her by Maricopa County's Republican County Recorder (and chief election official) Stephen Richer means and how Lake is hoping to be saved --- somehow --- by a victorious Trump this year. (We wish her the best of luck with that.)
  • The remarkable, 25-point Special Election victory last week by Democrat Marilyn Lands in Alabama who focused her campaign on reproductive rights and subsequently flipped a state legislative seat from "red" to "blue" after losing her race for that same seat by 7 points in the 2022 general election. What will a post-Dobbs, post-IVF general election look like in supposedly "deep red" AL and elsewhere this November?
  • The desperate-for-quick-cash former President and huckster-in-chief is now selling bibles for $59.99 a piece. Though, to be fair, this version also includes the U.S. Constitution. Has Donald Trump ever read either of them? Says Driftglass today: "Good thing he did this to raise money to pay for the court costs of paying off a [porn star] that he was sleeping with while his wife was nursing their child. So the circle of absolute blasphemy is now complete."
  • Joe Lieberman died last week.
  • Independent 2024 Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., currently on the ballot in 8 states, thrilled dozens with his announcement of his running mate last week, the former wife of one of Google's founders, Nicole Shanahan. Or, as Driftglass describes her, "a big bag of money who is as crazy as he is".

That's just some of the firehose of news from both last week and this that we cover in today's very lively BradCast...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern on two ridiculous cases, increasing court dysfunction; Also: Primary, Special Election results from AZ, FL, IL, KS, OH, CA; And the Biden EPA's 'biggest climate move yet'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/20/2024 6:36pm PT  

From top to bottom, the Federal Judiciary, as evidenced several times this week alone and discussed in detail on today's BradCast, seems to be coming undone. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

But, first up today, a quick review of Tuesday's Primary and Special Election results in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Ohio and California. Both Joe Biden and Donald Trump have already won enough delegates to clinch their respective party's nomination, but there are still a several interesting data points of notes to be gleaned from Tuesday's results.

Among them, Trump is consistently losing a far larger share of Republican votes than Biden is losing on the Democratic side. On Tuesday, for example, Biden's reported margin of victory in the states where he was on the ballot was anywhere from 74 to 88 points, while Trump's margin never cracked even 70 points, ranging from 59 to 67. In short, Biden seems to be far more popular among Democratic primary voters than Trump is among Republicans.

We've got other noteworthy tales of the tape today, along with Senate Primary results out of Ohio, where both Democrats and Donald Trump appear to be very happy that Trump-backed Bernie Moreno will be the GOP's nominee running against three-term progressive Democratic U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown in November. And, in California, Democrats are no doubt happy to see that nobody won more than 50% of the vote in the Special Election to fill the seat left vacant by ousted Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday. That means his seat in the closely divided U.S. House, which will almost certainly go to a Republican eventually, will remain empty until at least the Special Election runoff in May.

Also of note today, what the Washington Post is describing as the Biden Administration's "biggest climate move yet". Desi Doyen joins us to explain the EPA's new final rule that is set to increase the speed of the nation's transition to cleaner Electric and Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles; how rightwing media are already lying about the EPA's new rule; and how Republican states and the fossil fuel industry will soon be seeking out friendly judges in the federal judiciary to try and undermine the new rule and its billions of dollars in life-saving new vehicle emissions standards for the American people and the planet.

Then, speaking of friendly rightwing judges, two cases that came before the corrupted U.S. Supreme Court this week --- when, in fact, neither of them should have --- serve to highlight our increasingly brittle judicial system and how it is being gamed by the far-right.

We're joined today by Slate's great legal journalist, MARK JOSEPH STERN to discuss both cases and what they might tell us about a court system, and perhaps a U.S. Supreme Court, nearing a breaking point.

We originally invited Stern for today's show to discuss Monday's absurd case brought by Republican-run states falsely claiming the Biden Administration is somehow violating First Amendment free speech rights by forcing social media companies like Twitter and Facebook to take down posts they don't like regarding COVID, election fraud and more. Of course, the government is not doing that at all. Stern describes the case at Slate --- Murthy v. Missouri (originally Missouri v. Biden) --- as "brain-meltingly dumb", "asinine", and "what happens when a lawless judge and a terrible appeals court embrace the dopiest First Amendment claim you’ve ever heard out of pure spite toward a Democratic president."

The case should never have even made it out of the lowest District Court, but for a Trump-appointed judge who "completely butchered the record and, I think, willfully misrepresented a huge amount of communications between federal officials and social media companies," Stern tells me. "He would pluck individual little clauses from those emails, rearrange them to make it sound like coercion, and then use that to develop what is frankly a conspiracy theory that the federal government strong-armed these companies into silencing their users and censoring speech. It's just not true." (See this article for just some of the gobsmacking examples of ways in which U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty "butchered the record" by falsely representing the evidence record in his ruling.)

Making matters worse, the nation's most extreme appellate court, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, further butchered the record to accomplish what corrupt Supreme Court Justices Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch laughably described when the case came up to SCOTUS as "extensive findings of fact" that "showed the existence of ‘a coordinated campaign’ of unprecedented ‘magnitude orchestrated by federal officials that jeopardized a fundamental aspect of American life.'"

Monday's Oral Argument at SCOTUS, however, pulled the rug out from under pretty much all of that, as the phony allegations met skepticism from even the bulk of the Court's rightwingers. But before we could get to that case today, as previously planned, we had to get through the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals' other recent clown show (which the rightwingers on SCOTUS were happy to play along with last night): their attempt to allow Texas' new law that overturns a century of legal precedent and the U.S. Constitution itself to grant powers to state and local police that override federal immigration law, allowing them to arrest and deport suspected undocumented immigrants.

Stern unpacks the bizarre twists and turns the case has seen over the past 24 hours, and charges that the procedural nonsense from the 5th Circuit and subsequent acquiescence by SCOTUS simply "boggles the mind."

So, what might we learn from all of this --- and all that has come before it --- regarding corrupt Trump-appointed judges, a corrupt 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, a corrupt and increasingly volatile SCOTUS, and the rightwing judge shopping that exploits all of it? We discuss all of that and more with Stern who details "a kind of terrifying intramural war within the judiciary," as some of the courts are pushing back against an attempt by the U.S. Judicial Conference (headed up by Chief Justice Roberts) to rein in judge shopping, and, ultimately, how restoring confidence in the High Court itself may "all come down to what Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett want to do with the courts and want their legacy to be."

"Until they take a harder line here, it's going to remain just as broken as it looks," Stern asserts. "It's going to be even worse behind the scenes, based on what I'm hearing about how these judges' relationships are breaking down over this stuff --- and we're going to have different factions within the judiciary that are fighting for power, not unlike the Kremlin at the height of Soviet-era madness"...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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