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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, October 25, 2021
Sunday Spooky Toons
Be very afraid. Just in time for the holiday...It's PDiddie's latest collection of the week's scariest editorial toons...
Anita Hill Still Changing the World, 30 Years Later: 'BradCast' 10/22/21
Guest host Nicole Sandler with author, lawyer, Brandeis University professor Anita Hill...
The Good with the Bad: 'BradCast' 10/21/21
House holds Bannon in contempt; TX Lt. Gov. pays out for GOP voter fraud; CA GOP's recall boondoggle; Vets dump Sinema; Manchin could dump Dems; TX steals minority House seats; IL boosts Dems (a little)...
'Green News Report' 10/21/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
We're making too much fossil fuel; Climate change imperils millions, study finds; CA expands drought emergency; PLUS: Cutting emissions is hard, but will lower energy bills...
Previous GNRs: 10/19/21 - 10/14/21 - Archives...
'A One-Way Ratchet': Biden's SCOTUS Comm. Does GOP's Bidding: 'BradCast' 10/20/21
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: 'Contempt' for Bannon; Manchin, Sanders in talks; GOP Senate blocks voting rights again...
'Despair is Not an Option' After Manchin Tanks Biden's Central Climate Plan: 'BradCast' 10/19/21
Guest: UCSB's Dr. Leah Stokes; Also: 'Mass homicide' allegations for Brazil's Bolsonaro...
'Green News Report' 10/19/21
Manchin blows up Biden's climate agenda; EPA to crack down on PFAS; Million of polluting, abandoned U.S. wells; PLUS: McDonald's finally going beyond meat...
Listeners on Whether Ds Should Gerry-mander 'Blue' States: 'BradCast' 10/18/21
Also: How the unvaxxed helped kill Colin Powell; How Manchin is killing Biden's climate change plan...
Sunday 'Democracy's Boundaries' Toons
PDiddie draws a few lines in his latest collection of the week's best toons...
Why Dems Should Gerrymander 'Blue' States (& Why They Shouldn't): 'BradCast' 10/15
Guest: FairVote's Dave Daley; Also: Freedom to Vote in the Senate; GOP physics in VA...
'Green News Report' 10/14/21
Supply chain disruptions spike energy prices; Russia says they didn't do it!; CA bans gas-powered leaf blowers; PLUS: Biden Admin goes big on offshore wind...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern; Also: 'Contempt' for Bannon; Manchin, Sanders in talks; GOP Senate blocks voting rights again...
By Brad Friedman on 10/20/2021 6:51pm PT  

On today's BradCast: President Biden has, thankfully, edged toward the left on a number of things during his candidacy and Presidency to date. Reforming the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court, however, at least for now, does not appear to be one of those things. At least if the findings of his blue ribbon Commission of academics studying potential reforms is any indication.

But first up today, several quick updates on a number of stories we've been covering of late...

  • On Tuesday night, shortly after we got off air, the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Trump-incited January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol voted unanimously to hold Steve Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to answer their subpoena for documents and testimony. A vote on the resolution by the full House is scheduled for Thursday and, if adopted (as expected), a referral for criminal prosecution will be sent to the DoJ. Bannon could face as much as a year in prison. But it was remarks by Committee member Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) before Tuesday's vote that jumped out: "Mr. Bannon's and Mr. Trump's privilege arguments do appear to reveal one thing. They suggest that President Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of January 6, and this Committee will get to the bottom of that." If I was Trump, I'd take Cheney at her word. Bannon's future could also be Trump's.
  • There was additional encouraging news from Congress on Tuesday night, as outlets are reporting that obstructionist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) are now in direct talks on Biden's Build Back Better Act and that they hope to reach a deal on a path forward for the once-and-hopefully-still transformative social safety net and climate change bill by week's end. Manchin, as we discussed on yesterday's show, has apparently already gutted the legislation's central climate change provision, and is sure to force the removal of many other wildly popular provisions before all is said and done. But negotiation, in theory, means progress. And progress moving toward passage of the Biden agenda is better than the stalemate of recent weeks. One Senator quoted by The Hill describes the news as a "breakthrough". We'll see.
  • And, in one other Congressional story today with the tiniest ray of sunshine attached to it, Republican Senators on Wednesday once again filibustered to prevent passage of the Manchin-approved Freedom to Vote Act, a transformative elections and voting rights bill that is desperately needed to counteract the anti-democracy and voter suppression laws being adopted by state Republicans around the nation in advance of 2022 and 2024. It's the third time Republicans have blocked Democrats' attempt to move to debate on their voting rights bill. The ray of sunshine here is that Sen. Angus King (I-ME), one of the other holdouts against the filibuster reform that is needed to pass the Act with a simple majority, now says he has "concluded that democracy itself is more important than any Senate rule." Let's see if Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) get the message any time soon enough to reform the filibuster to pass legislation in hopes of actually saving democracy from the rising Authoritarian Front (GOP).

Then, we're joined by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, Slate's ace legal reporter and U.S. Supreme Court expert, to discuss the draft report issued late last week by President Biden's blue ribbon panel of academics --- with remarkably little coverage by the corporate media --- on potential reforms for SCOTUS following its years-long bastardization and theft by the Republican Party.

The bipartisan Commission, created by the President in April with a mandate to study potential reforms for six months before issuing a report but not to offer formal recommendations, for some reason). They were tasked with studying the pros and cons of possible changes such as expanding the number of seats on the high court and/or the creation of term limits for Justices. The panel was comprised of 36 academics and Courts experts who, according to Stern, included "a lot of conservatives" with a number of "so-called liberals" who were "mostly moderates and institutional liberals who have a vested interest in a Supreme Court that looks favorably upon them. If you survey it all together, you see what is basically a faculty meeting of moderates and conservatives, with a few token liberals, none of whom were happy with this draft report. None of which is a recipe for any kind of real, meaningful reform."

"Notably," Stern observes, "not a single person added to the Commission had ever endorsed serious Court reform in the past, [while] there were many people who had said that they opposed Court expansion. So in some ways, this Commission was maybe rigged from the start."

While the deck was stacked against Court expansion, the idea of term limits didn't fair all that much better, according to Stern, who cites an obsession by the panel's members with what other nations might learn from a partisan restructuring of the U.S. Supreme Court. That said, as Stern notes, "we are the only country in the world that gives lifetime tenure to our judges and justices. It is obviously a huge mistake. But the committee comes from the perspective that it is basically a great idea and anyone who criticizes it bears a heavy, heavy burden of proving that it would make things better."

He charges that the panel appeared to be essentially "governing out of fear" and that its draft report "projects the worst possible outcome and says, 'We think this is what's going to happen so we shouldn't even risk it.'"

While the Commission's draft argues that America must be mindful that we are "a leader to the rest of the world," Stern notes, "this report does not even begin to grapple with the fact that no other country, except arguably India, gives its high court nearly as much power as we do. No European nation gives its high court the unfettered ability to veto all legislation. No other nation - not Israel, not Chile or Argentina, not Mexico, not Canada --- none of them allow the court to simply smack down any kind of legislative action that it deems to be violative of the Constitution. That's not how judicial review works anywhere else."

"If these scholars took a look around," he argues, "they would realize that other countries have decided our system doesn't work too well, that they want to do something different. I think there's a lot of merit to that, and I find it very disappointing that they don't even grapple with that."

Of course, he has many more observations, including on what appears to be a "one-way ratchet" where the panel cites public opinion polls as a reason to oppose Court expansion, while ignoring the "overwhelming" public polling from across the entire political spectrum favoring term limits and opposing lifetime appointments for U.S. judges and justices. "Giving anyone that much power for so long is just objectively crazy." The draft report also includes a number of flat-out lies and tries to "lay equal blame at the feet of both parties" for the crisis of public confidence, unprecedented in modern times, now befalling SCOTUS. Stern hopes that some of the Commission's liberals, such as the NAACP's Sherilyn Ifill, may correct the record before their final report is issued and used by Republicans for eternity to claim that "Even Joe Biden's court commission opposes term limits!"

Finally, in our closing few minutes, Stern explains the pathetic roller coaster legal rulings that have allowed Texas' new anti-abortion law, S.B.8, to stay in place for now, despite its clear violation of decades of 'Roe v. Wade's legal precedent, and the terrifying ease with which the GOP's stolen and packed Supreme Court is preparing to overturn that and other long-settled precedents.

"You should be terrified," he warns. "We should all be terrified. And we should all be aware that if we choose not to expand the Court, that we are going to have to live with this current conservative super-majority for years, if not decades."

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Author, gerrymandering expert David Daley of Fair Vote; Also: Hope springs eternal for Freedom to Vote in the U.S. Senate; And GOP bathtub climate change physics in Virginia...
By Brad Friedman on 10/15/2021 6:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast, I share an idea that I've thought long and hard about, struggled with and, frankly, never thought I'd have, much less recommend, as this idea is essentially counter to everything I have long fought for as a democracy advocate. But, as they say, desperate times...and all that. [Audio link to full show follows this summary below. ]

Next Wednesday, Senate Majority Chuck Schumer has told Democrats, he plans to bring up the Freedom to Vote Act for a cloture vote, which --- if successful --- would then allow the Senate to proceed to debate on the bill that is critical right now for the survival of American democracy itself. Even if passed, Freedom to Vote won't save everything, of course, but it will help. Big time. The Joe Manchin-approved "compromise" version of the For the People Act (which has already been passed by the House) would, among a boatload of other long-overdue things, institute automatic voter registration and minimum requirements for Absentee and Early Voting in all 50 states; adopt rules that would limit the most disenfranchising Photo ID restriction laws; require hand-marked paper ballots for all voters(!); and prevent extreme partisan gerrymandering among other much needed stuff that would benefit all voters and democracy itself --- if not necessarily the Republican Party, as they see it, while they continue to lie about the bill in order to place party above both country and democracy.

Next week's cloture vote on the measure is likely to be supported by all 50 members of the Democratic caucus in the Senate. But it is unlikely to be allowed up for debate in the minoritarian Senate because, unless Manchin and any other Democratic obstructionists agree to reform the filibuster to allow democracy saving legislation to pass with a simple majority, it won't receive the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican obstructionist filibuster. That, as GOP-controlled states across the country continue to adopt measures making it harder for (certain) voters to vote and easier for Republicans to cheat by overturning election results they don't like by partisan fiat.

In 2010, the GOP's so-called "REDMAP" program succeeded with Republicans taking over state legislatures in order to draw extreme partisan gerrymanders following that year's decennial census to assure themselves majorities in both statehouses and Congressional delegations for the ensuing decade, even when receiving a minority of the vote. Now that the 2020 census has been completed --- and the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court has determined that federal courts may not intercede to block partisan gerrymanders in any way --- those same Republican state legislatures are in the process of drawing even more extreme gerrymanders for partisan advantage over the next decade. Experts say that "red" states are now in the process of redistricting in such a way that even if the nation voted exactly as it did in 2020, Republicans would end up taking control of the U.S. House --- even with millions of fewer votes than Democrats receive for their elected members of Congress.

That is just part of the near future that all Americans can look forward to if the Republicans and Democrats like Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema in the Senate prevent passage of the Freedom to Vote Act along with its federal restrictions on extreme partisan gerrymanders.

While I hate the idea, all one has to do is take a look at what the Texas legislature (and others like it) are currently up to and planning this year to realize that it's time --- at least if Freedom to Vote is not adopted --- for Democratically-controlled states to answer the GOP assault on democracy by instituting their own extreme partisan gerrymanders in response.

As noted, I hate that idea. It is, at least on the surface, counter to the small "d" democratic ideals that I have always fought for. But, at this point, with the American democratic experiment now teetering toward unstoppable authoritarianism, unilateral disarmament by Democrats seems more like a suicide pact. Yes, for Democrats, but, much more importantly, for democracy itself.

I suspect not everyone will agree with me here, including my guest today. I'm joined by the man who actually wrote the book on partisan gerrymanders, DAVID DALEY of FairVote.org. His book on the GOP's REDMAP assault on democracy is called Ratfucked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy. His more recent follow-up, out this year, is Unrigged: How Americans Are Battle Back to Save Democracy.

Daley details the horrors to come from the GOP's extreme gerrymandering plans that we will see in the next few weeks and months, describing them as "really bleak for the Democrats on the redistricting front". For example, he explains, "if you look at the 2020 election, Democratic candidates for the U.S. House won 4.7 million more votes than Republican candidates, but that only turned into a 5 seat majority. Republicans, simply by redistricting in Texas, Georgia, North Carolina and Florida alone --- before you even get to the handful of other states where they can pick up individual seats --- could probably get at least twice the number that they need to flip the House simply by gerrymandering those states."

But, even as he argues in favor of "Constitutional hardball" from Democrats, he does not agree with me that Dems should participate in the same sort of behavior in response when it comes to redistricting this year, describing it as "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic." He explains why, and we debate the issue on today's program.

I welcome your thoughts on this matter via email or in comments below, as I hope to discuss this more on the show in the days ahead.

Finally today, as if anyone needed more evidence of the dangers that await a fully Trumpified GOP takeover of democracy (even more than has already occurred), at least one Republican candidate running for the House of Delegates in Virginia next month should scare the hell out of you..and, for reasons that Desi Doyen explains, especially Virginians...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Why Bannon's in big trouble (probably); And why Trump may not be planning to run in 2024 after all...
By Brad Friedman on 10/14/2021 6:29pm PT  

From legal and election wonkery to supply chain wonkery, there is no wonkery that is too wonky for today's BradCast! But I suspect (or, at least, hope) you'll find it a pretty good show nonetheless. And you'll even find out why I actually agree (mostly, sort of) with not one, but two of Donald Trump's dumb, manipulative, self-serving statements he released yesterday! [Audio link to full show is posted below at end of this summary.]

  • First up, Steve Bannon is in trouble. He has no legitimate legal claim to not answer the subpoena of the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6th attack for both testimony and documents. Yet he's taking his (bad) legal advice from the disgraced former President and may wind up in jail because of it. If --- and it's still a big if --- Attorney General Merrick Garland is up to the job he was appointed to. We bring you up to date on all of the Committee's subpoenas to date, and who, other than Bannon, may also soon be facing criminal contempt charges.
  • Then, on Wednesday, Trump issued two dumb statements that we, shockingly. can (mostly, sort of) get behind. The first one was simply this: "If we don’t solve the Presidential Election Fraud of 2020 (which we have thoroughly and conclusively documented), Republicans will not be voting in ‘22 or ‘24. It is the single most important thing for Republicans to do." --- Of course, there has been zero evidence of election fraud of any note from 2020 documented thoroughly or otherwise. But we definitely agree his Republican supporters should absolutely stay home during next year's mid-terms and 2024's Presidential election. It's just the right thing for Republicans to do. That said, I also explain why this statement may suggest that Trump, contrary to conventional wisdom of late, may not be planning to run for President again.
  • Next, on Wednesday, a state Superior Court judge in Georgia (I misspoke on the show, describing this as a federal case) dismissed [PDF] the last major legal challenge still pending to the 2020 Presidential election in the state. It's a civil complaint filed by lead petitioner Garland Favorito of VoterGA. He has been on this show several times over the years, and who I've known him as an election integrity advocate long before Trump decided to pretend to be one. As explained, while I've got some problems with Favorito's lawsuit and, in fact, a number of claims he's made regarding the 2020 election since being discovered by the MAGA Mob (who, like Trump, also had zero interest in actual election integrity until now --- and still don't, to be frank), his lawsuit should not have been dismissed. At least not on the grounds that the Judge Brian J. Amero did so.

    The petition, seeking a physical inspection of absentee ballots in Fulton County (Atlanta), charges, among other things, that "pristine" counterfeit ballots --- never folded and bubbled in perfectly, as if by a computer --- were discovered during one of three statewide post-election "audits" last year. The evidence for the claim is largely based on allegations made by a woman who participated in the state-run hand-count "audit", though the affiant reportedly never brought the matter to the attention of officials during the audit and her story has changed somewhat over time, as she received attention from the MAGA media.

    Nonetheless, investigators from Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger's office told the court this week that they examined the ballots in question, and reported to the judge that they could find no such "pristine" counterfeit ballots in the batches specified by the complaint. While the judge says he reviewed that report by the state investigators, he says his dismissal is for a different reason. He held that the petitioners had no legal standing to sue, since they could show no "particularized injury," affecting them "in a personal and individual way". In other words, while their complaint could be true, it affected all Fulton voters, not just Favorito and friends.

    It's not Judge Amero's fault. The judicial theory is absurd, but it is based on a ruling by the state's 11th Circuit Court earlier this year. It was used as the basis to dismiss a separate attempt to overturn Georgia's 2020 elections results filed by L. Lin Wood, one of several Trumpy attorneys who, like Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, have had laughable, evidence-free 2020 "fraud" cases tossed out of courts and have been sanctioned for filing them. But the notion that a petitioner can't sue in Georgia, essentially because everyone has been affected by a certain alleged wrong, is a very bad precedent. And it's likely to harm other important and actually legtiimate lawsuits in the Peach State.

    More to the direct point here for now, as Favorito correctly noted in response to the ruling, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution: "All citizens of Georgia have a right to know whether or not counterfeit ballots were injected into the Fulton County election results. It is not adequate for any organization [in this case, the inspectors at the Sec. of State's office] to secretly tell us there are no counterfeit ballots and refuse to let the public inspect them."

    He is right. And so was Trump --- accidentally and disingenuously, of course --- in his own dumb, self-serving response to the court's ruling on Wednesday when he correctly asked "Why can't the public see the ballots?" (Most of the rest of his statement was either wrong or ridiculous.) Favorito says he will appeal.

    As explained on the show in more detail, public elections belong to the public. And only public oversight of public elections offer any chance of avoiding the situation we are now in where dishonest cretins, like Trump and his supporters, can falsely claim fraud. Secret vote counting by computers and ballots kept beyond the (controlled) reach of the public will guarantee that such claims --- legitimate or otherwise --- will continue to be made in future elections. That is a grave threat to democracy itself --- just in case you haven't noticed. It is the one we are now facing. And it can only have a chance of being cured by public oversight. Favorito and the public should be allowed to visually inspect the actual physical ballots --- so long as he pays for the effort and the ballots stay in the custody of public officials (unlike what happened in the Cyber Ninjas' clown show "audit" in Maricopa County, AZ). If it reveals counterfeit ballots, good. We should know that. If it doesn't, even better. The claim can be, hopefully, put to bed.

    Anyway, more detail and explanation on all of this on today's program.

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, on the disrupted global supply chain amid the pandemic resulting in a huge spike in energy prices and some very good climate news for both California under Gov. Gavin Newsom and the United States under President Joe Biden...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Dr. Matthew Boedy of the Univ. of North Georgia; Also: Shatner in space; Workers have had enough; Biden's big new off-shore wind plan...
By Brad Friedman on 10/13/2021 6:56pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We're nearly two years into this seemingly endless pandemic. If you happen to teach at a college or university in a "blue" state and have been vaccinated, you can probably go to work each day feeling relatively safe. If you work at a "red" state university, however, the story is very different. That, of course, is thanks to the twisted politics of our former President and those who either fear his wrath or have been brain-poisoned enough to put their own families and communities at risk because of it. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, first up --- mostly for Desi and other Trekkers like her --- we spend a few minutes on William "Captain Kirk" Shatner after he oldly went were a few have gone before. But while Shatner got a free ride to the edge of space for three minutes on Wednesday, courtesy of Jeff Bezos, it only serves as a reminder of the many essential, working class grunts who actually paid for his trip. On the other hand, some of Shatner's remarks upon return to Earth also remind us of our fragile climate and thin blue atmosphere that keeps us alive, even as we treat it like a garbage dump.

Speaking of essential workers, new data from the Labor Department this week reveals many are quitting their jobs in droves, particularly those forced to come face-to-face with an angry, frequently privileged, sometimes violent, often mask-free public right now in low-wage service jobs at bars, restaurants, hotels and retail outlets. The record number of workers quitting to look for better working conditions in August comes as businesses are struggling to find workers, with some employers --- gasp! --- forced to offer higher wages and benefits to stay in business.

But while it may be easy enough to leave one bartender job for a better one at an establishment that takes better care of its workers, it's not quite as easy for those who teach at colleges and universities. We've all seen endless videos of furious parents at local school board meetings, threatening school officials if they dare institute mask mandates to help keep teachers and children --- and their furious parents --- safe. But we've heard less about higher education faculty whose institutions, often in Republican-leaning states, find themselves at the mercy of GOP Governors mandating anti-masking rules or state-run boards (often controlled by the same rightwing politicos) who refuse to hear the pleas of college and university students and faculty alike.

Late last month, for example, more than 50 faculty members at the University of Georgia, many with expertise in the study of infectious diseases, signed a faculty statement declaring: "In order to protect our students, staff and faculty colleagues, we will wear masks and will require all of our students and staff to wear masks in our classes and laboratories until local community transmission rates improve, despite the ban on mask mandates and the USG [University System of Georgia] policy to punish, and potentially fire, any faculty taking this action."

We're joined today by DR. MATTHEW BOEDY, Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Composition at the University of North Georgia in Gainesville. He also serves as the Georgia chapter President of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), where eight national chapters recently urged the federal government to step in to help keep faculty and students safe at public universities were Governors and school boards will not.

The USG is governed in the Peach State by the Board of Regents, many of whom are appointed by the sitting Republican Governor. "They generally follow the Governor's wishes in terms of policies," Boedy explains. But last year, "they pushed him aside and gave us a mask mandate when Gov. Brian Kemp said he didn't want any mask mandates." The rule was repealed in June, however, as the pandemic momentarily ebbed. "Then Delta came, and we desperately needed [another mask mandate], and they refused to have one because they weren't going to push aside the Governor a second time, especially in terms of how heated it has gotten. The Governor, of course, has banned mask mandates around the state."

As an expert in rhetoric, I asked about the irony of Republicans opposing mandates by instituting mandates against mandates. "The groups on the right and politicians on the right will use words in opposite of their intended meaning or their usual meaning to get what they want. They don't like mandates, but they'll push mandates in another way. It is truly cognitive dissonance," Boedy asserts. "And it just shows that this is not driven by science, it's not driven by common sense. It's not even driven by any type of logic that I can follow, because if you speak to these people, they just change in any direction that is against what you're saying. "

"As a rhetoric teacher," he continues, "I'm teaching a class on misinformation, and I'm doing it for this reason. It's just really difficult to get beyond the cognitive dissonance, and I'm trying to teach people not just to recognize it but to find rhetorical ways to persuade people who seem to not want to be persuaded." We wish him luck.

In the meantime, Boedy also details the actions that the AAUP has taken to try and get help for "red" state universities from government officials and the responses they've received from elected officials both at the state and federal level. He notes that in a state where "collective bargaining is barred by state law," they don't have unionized power behind them, but they had considered walkouts anyway, before deciding against it. At least for now. "We didn't want to punish our students for the deplorable actions of our university administration.  We didn't want to walk out. We didn't want to stop class. We didn't want to add to the punishment their getting with the lack of masks," he says. "What we're trying to do is keep up public pressure --- I call it a public shaming of our university leaders --- and hopefully, they respond. So far, sadly, they have not."

Boedy says, however, that they may get some help from the Biden Administration's Department of Education. In the meantime, we happened to catch him on "a dark day" for higher education in Georgia. On Wednesday, the Board of Regents made conditions arguably worse for professors in the University of Georgia System, as they voted on Wednesday to approve a new tenure policy allowing tenured professors to be fired without faculty input. "What we have now is tenure in name only," Boedy explains. "They erased the due process protections for a particular group of professors, ending tenure protections for them. So, the dominoes can certainly fall after that to the rest of us. But it is, yes, the death of tenure and due process in Georgia."

Finally, after a week or two of reporting on the recent oil spill off the coast of Southern California in Orange County on this show, some much brighter, somewhat related news. "The Biden administration announced on Wednesday a plan to develop large-scale wind farms along nearly the entire coastline of the United States, the first long-term strategy from the government to produce electricity from offshore turbines," according to the New York Times late today. We happily discuss...

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Another busy day taking on America's rising GOP Authoritarian Front...
By Brad Friedman on 10/12/2021 6:31pm PT  

Well, we've got another news-packed, rant-packed, and (hopefully) democracy-saving BradCast for you today. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Tune in for the most bang for your buck (by far), but among the stories and issues touch-stoned on today's program...

  • Democratic U.S. Senators held a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol last week to insist that critical provisions to finally take on our climate crisis may not be removed from the Dems' proposed Build Back Better Act to win the support of obstructionist Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the hop-hop caucus, spoke at the presser, and laid out the "no climate, no deal" existential stakes. We share his important remarks.
  • Speaking of the Dems' proposed, expansive, ten-year, $3.5 trillion bill, never mind the price tag. Unlike the accompanying smaller bipartisan infrastructure bill championed by Manchin and Sinema with Republicans, which is not fully paid for, the Build Back Better bill is, via small tax increases for wealthy people and corporations. But, lost in Manchin and Sinema's silly quibbles over the price tag for Build Back Better is the extraordinary number of wildly popular provisions in it, on everything from the expansion of Medicare to include hearing, vision and dental coverage for seniors, to free pre-K and community college, to 12 weeks of paid family leave, and, of course, the critical climate measures to move the nation's utility companies from dirty fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy. But that's a tiny sampling of what's in this long-overdue bill. MSNBC's Mehdi Hasan offers much more on what's actually in the most transformative piece of legislation since the LBJ- and FDR-eras --- and he does so in less than 60 seconds!
  • Both the larger bill and the smaller bill compromising Biden's agenda must be passed (and soon!) if Democrats are to have any chance at holding off the Authoritarian Front (otherwise known as the Republican Party) in 2022. To that end, we've been discussing of late how the media (including us!) do not seem to be sounding the alarm bells as loudly as warranted, given the Trump/GOP assault on democracy itself in advance of next year's mid-terms and the 2024 Presidential race. A recent conversation on that point with media critic Eric Boehlert last Friday on this show, included a "major error", brought to our attention via email by a listener. After sharing the error with Boehlert, he issued a correction. Tune in for all the details today, but we are grateful to listener Linda C. for checking the facts and holding our feet to the same fire as we hold to everyone else's!
  • In more American-democracy-on-the-brink news, top Republicans are still, shamefully, unwilling to say out loud that Joe Biden won the 2020 election fair and square, that it was not stolen from Donald Trump, and that there is absolutely zero credible evidence suggesting otherwise, nearly a full year since the election. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), the second-highest ranking Republican in the House after minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), is the latest to prove his cowardice and refusal to say as much during a weekend interview on Fox "News".
  • Speaking about his new book, Midnight in Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could, detailing Trump's two impeachments and the disgraced former President's attempt to steal the 2020 election by sending his supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) discussed what happened that day on CNN this morning. Of note, as we share, he discusses the abject fear among GOP leadership to cross Donald Trump in any way, and the threat that poses to democracy itself. Schiff describes "the insurrectionists in suits and tie", like Scalise and McCarthy, who, "unlike those people climbing outside the building" on January 6th, "they knew it was a lie". But, in their "relentless attack on the truth," he explains, they are now willing to pretend that they don't know that Trump tried to steal the 2020 election.
  • Longtime Republican columnist Max Boot, however, does know that the Big Lie was, in fact, a lie. He also seems to appreciate the threat it now poses to democracy itself. In his Washington Post column this week, he explains why, despite formerly being a lifelong Republican, he is now "a single-issue voter. My issue is the fate of democracy in the United States. Simply put, I have no faith that we will remain a democracy if Republicans win power. Thus, although I’m not a Democrat, I will continue to vote exclusively for Democrats ... until the GOP ceases to pose an existential threat to our freedom." Thank you, Max. I hope anyone who still supports democracy takes Boot's warning to heart because, as he notes, "What matters now is preserving our democracy."
  • And what are Republicans doing where they do hold the power to govern instead of destroy? They're destroying. In Texas yesterday, Republican Governor and cowardly tyrant Greg Abbott issued an executive order certain to results in many more dead Texans. It prohibits any entity in the state, including private business, from imposing any COVID vaccine requirements for employees or customers. Because, freedom? At the same time, the Texas Republican Party chair who thinks Abbott isn't Trumpy enough, stepped down from the Chairmanship several months ago to oppose the incredibly-Trumpy Governor in next year's primary. That former chair is former Florida Congressman and loon Allen West, who, as of this weekend, is now hospitalized with COVID. He's now posting on Facebook from his hospital bed about taking hydroxychloroquine and the horse de-worming drug Ivermectin, while proudly swearing he's more anti-vaccine than ever and simultaneously proving he knows absolutely nothing about how either health care or even "Big Pharma" works.

    (For the record, even though he's a far-right wingnut loon, we went to bat for West and his supporters in 2012 after he got screwed by a major voting system tabulation failure during his failed reelection bid against Democrat Patrick Murphy in Florida that year. Scroll down his BRAD BLOG category page for some of the highlights. Just a helpful reminder for all of the brain-poisoned dupes stopping by the blog of late to say, "Hey, Brad what happened to you?! I can't believe you'd put party over country by failing to call out all the fraud in the 2020 election!" Yes, brain-poisoning is exceedingly toxic. Try some horse de-wormer, kiddies.)

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with her usual roller-coaster mix of horrific and hopeful (but mostly horrific) environmental news...

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Also: Pipeline co.'s leak tech failed in SoCal spill; Judge restores freedom of choice to TX women (for now); Media misreport GOP debt threat...
By Brad Friedman on 10/7/2021 6:42pm PT  

Way back in January, we reported on "How Trump Attempted to Use DoJ to Steal the Election". Why do our nation's corporate media outlets, all these months later, still have so much difficulty reporting it as such, despite the growing mountain of evidence on the unprecedented attempted theft of a Presidential election by a sitting U.S. President? That's just one of a number of stories and questions asked on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among those many stories...

  • What took the Coast Guard and Amplify Energy Corp --- owner of the pipeline that spewed more than 3,000 barrels of crude oil into the waters and protected wetlands nearly Huntington Beach in Southern California last week --- so long to respond to the spill? Residents smelled it, witnesses saw oil on the water and on boats, and even the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) called in their report to the Coast Guard of a possible spill spotted from a satellite. Still, it was almost 10 hours before the Coast Guard investigated, and almost 12 hours before Amplify shut it down. That, despite technology pipeline companies always (falsely) claim will immediately detect spills and shut down the system as soon as they occur. Someone needs to face criminal charges, and this nation needs to get off oil, ASAP.
  • Some brighter news out of Texas, where a federal judge has temporarily enjoined the state's S.B. 8 statute that deprives women of their Constitutionally-protected right to an abortion. The new GOP law in the Lone Star State inserts Big Government between a woman and her doctor to mandate that the medical procedure may not be carried out after 6 weeks of pregnancy, before most women know they're pregnant. Even in the case of rape or incest, Texas Republicans are demanding that women carry their rapists babies to term under the new law. On Wednesday, a U.S. District Court judge shut that whole thing down. For now. He also refused to put his stay on hold pending the state's appeal, because, as he wrote in his 113-page decision [PDF]: "The State has forfeited the right to any such accommodation by pursuing an unprecedented and aggressive scheme to deprive its citizens of a significant and well established constitutional right."
  • Yesterday, we reported that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and fellow Republicans blinked in their ongoing effort to block Democrats from lifting the nation's borrowing limit to avoid the economic calamity that would ensue when the U.S. defaults on its debts, for the first time in history, on October 18th. Today, after McConnell blinked, he and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer agreed on terms for the legislative process that Republicans will allow to let Democrats avoid disaster, at least until early December, when the GOP threatens the same economic terrorism all over again. AP (and other national outlets) continued to mislead the public by reporting: "the Republican and Democratic leaders edged back from a perilous standoff." But that's not what happened at all. The "leaders" (plural) did not "edge back", and it was not a "standoff". As  longtime journalist, author and media critic James Fallows has been expertly reporting for some time now, this was nothing more than a nihilistic Republican threat to tank the nation's, and the world's, economy. "To call it an 'impasse' or 'standoff' is misleading," writes Fallows this week. "This is the same kind of 'impasse' as one between a kidnapper demanding ransom for a captured executive, and a company that believes it should not pay. It is not a level-playing-field difference of view."
  • The debt ceiling is hardly the only area where mainstream corporate media have been failing by ill-serving the public and our democracy. Today, they were joined in that disservice by the Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats, who released an otherwise very important report on how Donald Trump attempted to use the U.S. Dept. of Justice to STEAL the 2020 Presidential election. The 394-page report [PDF] was eight months in the making and is titled: "Subverting Justice: How the Former President and his Allies Pressured DOJ to Overturn the 2020 Election." Media reporting on the new report has taken to echoing that language (as they have since last November) in explaining how Trump tried to "subvert" the election, or "question" its results, or tried to "undermine" its legitimacy.  He used a "big lie" to try and pull off a "self coup". Of course, Trump did all of those things, but it was all in service to one single criminal objective: An attempt to STEAL the election!  Why do corporate media --- and Democrats, for that matter --- have such a difficult time calling it out as such? There is a mountain of hard, independently verifiable evidence to support that admittedly very serious charge, that I would never issue lightly. Today, Senate Democrats just added 394 more pages of said evidence to that mountain. Media need to start accurately calling out what happened here. A then sitting President of the United States abused the levers of his power to try and STEAL a Presidential election from the American people. It's as simple as that. Media should begin reporting it as such.
  • Trump's attempted theft of the 2020 election continues, at least in hopes of stealing the next one. Despite the abject failure of the Cyber Ninjas in Maricopa County, Arizona (Sen. Dick Durbin called them "Ninja Turtles" today) to find any legitimate evidence of election fraud (or to even hand-count the results of the election accurately), the MAGA Mob is still continuing to waste tax payer dollars with phony "audits" and "investigations" of last year's election in other states. In Wisconsin, as in Arizona, Republican legislators have hired someone completely inexperienced in elections to investigate their loss in last year's election. In this case, the man placed in charge of the review is a former state Supreme Court Justice named Michael Gableman. This week Gableman admitted to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he does not have "any understanding of how elections work." Great choice, Republicans!  I'm sure he'll very wisely spend the $676,000 in taxpayer money that you "conservatives" gave him. The effort may even be as successful as the Turtles'!
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more on last weekend's massive SoCal oil spill; a new study finding that, globally, the fossil fuel industry receives $11 million in government subsidies every minute (no doubt Joe Manchin will be furious about their "entitlement society"!); and another notorious pipeline company with high-tech spill prevention technology is charged with dozens of criminal counts for pipelines that leaked into Pennsylvania's drinking water...

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Guest: Philly Inquirer's Will Bunch; Also: Idaho's Lt. Guv may be insane --- or maybe just a Republican...
By Brad Friedman on 10/6/2021 5:52pm PT  

Something not terrible actually happened in D.C. today! We celebrate at the top of today's BradCast! [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Faced with the likelihood of the U.S. defaulting on its debts in a matter of days for the first time in American history (and being blamed for the economic devastation that would go with it), or otherwise facing the possibility that Democrats would be forced to reform the filibuster to allow a carve out for raising the debt ceiling, Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans blinked today. They have now agreed to call off their filibuster to allow Democrats to raise the debt ceiling by themselves, if only for about two months. That's okay. It's a clear win for the Dems, whose unwillingness to back down to the GOP's economic terrorism and weaponization of the need to borrow money to pay for stuff that Congress (including Republicans!) have already bought, has paid off. It has also revealed McConnell's bluff. Something to keep in mind the next time this comes up again in December. We explain.

It also means that Congressional Dems can now focus on passage of their Build Back Better agenda, specifically, their transformative and long-overdue expansion of healthcare, education, child care and the first real attempt to take on climate change in their proposed $3.5 trillion bill that would spend $350 billion a year over the next ten years. That's not a lot of money, in truth, for the U.S. Government. The Treasury Department may take in $300 billion in tax revenue on any given single day. Not to mention, the entire bill, as proposed, is paid for with a small tax increase on corporations and the wealthy. But that hasn't prevented Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and his sidekick Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) from pretending that the implementation of wildly popular progressive programs --- which the Democratic President actually ran and won on --- will lead to an "entitlement society".

Amid the negotiations over the final price tag of the Build Back Better Act, Manchin has been demanding "means testing guardrails" on all new family and health related programs. What does that mean, exactly? If only Americans below a certain income are allowed, for example, to enjoy the two free years of pre-K and community college included in the Democratic proposal, why not impose such conditions on the rest of our public education system? "Once we’re means-testing pre-K," The Prospect's Harold Meyerson recently observed in response to Manchin's demands, "it’s hard to see why governments at all levels don’t means-test K itself, not to mention K-12."

The Philadelphia Inquirer's longtime national columnist WILL BUNCH describes "means testing" in his newsletter this week as "two dirty words for America's middle class" and "the two most insidious and abused words in American politics." He joins us today to explain why that is and what other, alternate, betters ways their may be to meet the seemingly intractable (and dumb) demands from Manchin and Sinema that the Democrats' fully-paid-for bill be scaled back from it's current price tag.

"When means testing is applied," Bunch explains, "the reality is, what you're really doing is reducing the size of the program, so you're reducing the amount of money that needs to be raised to pay for the programs, which means you're reducing the amount that taxes would be increased on these wealthy people and on these corporations, who happen to be Joe Manchin's patrons."

"What really happens is that people who are entitled to these programs don't get the benefits because of means testing," he argues, "because it creates all kinds of bureaucratic hoops. The more you make them jump through hoops, the more you heighten the feeling of stigma that some people feel about getting government aid, they just say 'forget it' and give up. So the utilization rate of these programs --- they find that usually a quarter of the people eligible for these programs don't take advantage of them for reasons like that."

But, he says, it's also simply about money. "Let's focus on what's really going on here. They're really trying to squeeze every dollar to not go to middle class and working class families. And all those dollars that they squeeze, they go into bigger tax cuts for billionaires and corporations," who, unlike middle-class tax-payers, do not face such means testing for benefits they enjoy. "It's like reverse means-testing! The more means you have, the more we're going to bend over backwards to cut your taxes!"

We discuss all of that and more --- including the Rolling Stones concert that Bunch went to this week in Pittsburgh. Yes, I'm jealous!

Finally, as crazy and dangerous as the Republican Party has become in recent years, a number of its elected officials are apparently set on pushing the envelope to new standards of insane behavior...even if it means taking on fellow elected Republican officials, as the Lt. Governor of Idaho has done this week --- once again --- while the state's Republican Governor was out of town on state business. Yes, the madness continues on today's BradCast. We do our best to keep up with it...

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Bill to keep U.S. government open (for two more months) gets passed, but the three more difficult and critical bills remain blocked by obstructionists with economic disaster and Biden agenda hanging in the balance...
By Brad Friedman on 9/30/2021 6:46pm PT  

Hopefully today's BradCast is at least slightly less chaotic than Capitol Hill right now. We do our best to help you make sense of the Democrats' attempts to move four critical bills through to law, as they all come due at about the same time, and all must overcome obstructionists from both the Right and the Left. One bill today, has made it through. The fates of the other three --- and those of the nation, the economy, the Presidency and the Democrats --- are less than clear at this hour.

Among the stories covered, discussed, referenced and/or ranted upon on today's program...

  • We start with some listener email in response to our interview last week with NASA climate scientist Dr. Peter Kalmus, who argues that our planet's climate emergency is far worse and more immediate than many other climate scientists are willing to say. Emailer RC concurs, and explains why current plans to curb carbon emissions by both the US and EU are not nearly enough to meet the moment, and entirely unfair to the rest of the world.
  • With those thoughts underscoring much of the rest of our coverage today, we move to the ongoing mess in D.C., where Dems must pass four different pieces of critical legislation in the next few days and/or weeks for various critical reasons. One is a bill to keep the government open and operating after midnight tonight. After a Republican filibuster and a decoupling of that measure from the lifting of the debt ceiling before the government runs out of the ability to borrow money on October 18, the bill to keep the government open was passed by both chambers today (and signed by the President tonight). That Continuing Resolution will keep the government operating until December 3rd, when this ridiculousness will happen again, and Republicans are sure to create still more chaos and uncertainty...just because they can. Their filibuster of raising or suspending the debt ceiling, however, continues to march toward fiscal calamity [PDF] and deep recession as of October 18, unless they relent or Dems come up with some other idea.
  • As we went to air today, it was still unclear whether a vote would be held in the House on the bipartisan $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill, which all Democrats in both chambers agreed to couple for passage with the much larger, very popular $3.5 trillion Build Back Better social spending and climate change bill that encompasses the bulk of the Biden agenda. At least it had been coupled until a small handful of shameless corporatist Dems in the House and Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema in the Senate reneged on the original agreement. Now, they are trying to force Pelosi into calling a vote on the smaller bill, which was already passed by the Senate, and which House progressives have vowed to vote against unless the larger bill is adopted along with it. And though we hadn't seen anyone else make this point before airtime (Josh Marshall mentions it tonight), while House Repubs have been whipping against the smaller bill in the House, if they really wanted to muck things up for the Dems, they could vote in favor of the measure that many of their Republican colleagues in the Senate have already approved. That would replace the votes of the objecting progressives and remove pretty much all of the leverage they currently have to force passage of the larger reconciliation bill. So don't tell Republicans.
  • The log jam on that larger bill, of course, has been Manchin and Sinema. And while neither Democratic Senator had made their objections to the measure particularly clear --- other than they didn't want to spend that much money (even though, unlike the deficit spending of the bipartisan infrastructure bill they supported, the larger one is actually paid for with tax increases on corporations and the wealthy!) --- at least Manchin was open to negotiation. Sinema, who is a terrible person, has said she wouldn't negotiate on the larger bill at all until the smaller one was passed. That is, apparently, still her position. But as of shortly before air today, we now know a bit more about Manchin's position. That, based on a bullet-point memo [PDF] obtained by Politico, which he gave to Chuck Schumer in late July, detailing his demands. Among them, the bill can't spend more than $1.5 trillion, and the coal state Senator (whose family makes millions on fossil fuel extraction each year) really really wants to undermine the critical climate components at the heart of the Biden agenda. We discuss.
  • While Democrats are trying to move their wildly popular agenda forward, despite the obstructionism from both the Right and Left, Republicans and their media machine are busy lying to the public about the effort. We do our part to correct the record today with more information on what Democrats are actually hoping to do --- so you can help be the media and counter the rightwing lies on social media and elsewhere. (Pretty please?) Among those lies, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) offered a whopper today, describing the Biden agenda as "Marxism" on Twitter. And fake news site Newsmax is lying to their gullible viewers about the bipartisan infrastructure bill including an 8-cent per mile "driving tax". It doesn't. We try and help correct the record on both scores.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report. Today, we have yet another California utility company coughing up billions to settle with residents after their negligence led to disaster following the largest methane leak in U.S. history; New polling finds a dramatic spike in concern among a majority of Americans regarding our climate crisis; And another major automaker makes another major bet on our electric vehicle future...

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Guest: ACLU policing expert Carl Takei; Also: Sinema tanking Dems' Build Back Better agenda; Trumpworld circulates fake AZ 'audit' report...
By Brad Friedman on 9/29/2021 6:38pm PT  

On today's BradCast: MAGA dead-enders have found a way to continuing pretending the 2020 election was stolen from them in Arizona; it's now down to pretty much one Democrat in Congress who seems willing to take down Joe Biden and the Democratic party's entire agenda; and the lazy corporate media fall for another phony narrative, fed to them by police, to explain 2020's spike in killings across the country. Just another day making sense of the absurd. It's what we do.

First up, despite last week's hilariously embarrassing news for Donald Trump that his own Republican partisans hired by the Republican state Senate in Arizona to "audit" last year's election found that, yup, Trump lost to Biden as originally certified (and by an even larger margin), the disgraced former President is still lying to his supporters, claiming the audit found that he won. It didn't. But, at the same time, his supporters --- including perhaps the top wingnut website responsible for false reports of "fraud" in the 2020 election, Jim Hoft's Gateway Pundit --- are now circulating a phony "draft" of the Cyber Ninja's audit report. The fake report is being characterized as the "real" report by Hoft and friends. One of them, Matthew DePerno, a candidate for Michigan Attorney General(!) who Trump recently endorsed, posted it to Twitter claiming it was the "real " report from the Ninjas that RINOs in the GOP state Senate tried to "censure" [sic].

The fraudulent "draft" claims that the 2020 election in AZ "should not be certified," even though it already was, ten months ago, by the state's Republican Governor. A Ninjas spokesperson denies having anything to do with it, claims the very real looking "draft report" is "absolutely false", and "that it was not written by Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan, nor was [the call for decertification] in any version that was ever sent or shown to the [state] Senate for review."

Thankfully, Hoft, often referred to as the dumbest man on the Internet, isn't buying it! He and his site are furious that the national GOP and Republicans in Arizona are hiding the truth and "are working for the other side!" He's totally right! Hopefully Republican voters won't stand for it any longer and will vote all of them out of office next year to show 'em!

Next, from RINOs in Arizona, to DINOs in Arizona. Kyrsten Sinema, according to a number of her fellow Democrats today, seems to be the one --- even more than Joe Manchin --- holding up passage, and even negotiation, on the Build Back Better Act, the wildly popular $3.5 trillion sweeping social safety net and climate change legislation which is at the heart of the Biden agenda. It's also fully paid for by a small increase on taxes on corporations and the wealthy. While we covered the four pieces of legislation at the heart of what led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to describe this week as "a time of intensity" in some detail on yesterday's BradCast, I'll refer you to that one and today's show for all of the maddening details here. Though I will note that Sinema's (and Manchin's, to a slightly lesser extent) intransigence could result in both the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill failing to pass, along with the smaller, bipartisan infrastructure bill that Sinema was key to crafting with Republican Senators. She seems far more willing to negotiate with GOPers than with Congressional Dems in her own party, or even the Democratic President of the United States.

The result of all of this could be the death of both bills and Democratic hopes for success in 2022 along with it. But, it should be noted here, that even if Pelosi allows a House vote on the smaller, bipartisan infrastructure package that Sinema really wants to see passed this week (even though, unlike the larger package, it is not "paid for" and will increase the deficit that she and Republicans who support it claim to oppose), and even if it somehow is passed in the House (despite the Progressive Caucus vowing to vote against it), as Congressional expert Norm Ornstein explained on this program last week, Pelosi doesn't have to send it to the President until the reconciliation bill is passed as well. She can hold the smaller bill as long as she likes, according to Ornstein, who told us the Speaker never has to send it to the President's desk, if she doesn't feel like it.

Next, you may have seen the widely reported new statistics released by the FBI on Monday, finding an alarming spike in killings in the U.S., mostly with guns, during 2020. You may also have noticed that many of the stories on the new data --- from Washington Post, New York Times, NPR and others --- all referenced claims from police officials and academics who support them, that the record spike should be attributed, at least in part, to new policing rules and reticence by cops to take action following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year and the many others who were caught on tape being killed by the police.

Darn those "Defund the Police" activists whose outrageous advocacy has led to an historic spike in U.S. homicides!

Of course, that all appears to be bullshit, as explained by our guest today, CARL TAKEI, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU's Trone Center for Justice and Equality, where he litigates police practices. "This is a story that we have heard before," Takei explains. "It actually goes back to 2014, when then-St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson coined the term 'Ferguson Effect'" after the police killing of Michael Brown in Missouri that year, which sparked national outrage, weeks of protests and demands for police reform. "The 'Ferguson Effect', according to its proponents, means that police choose to be less proactive because protests against police hurt their feelings. And this decrease in proactivity then leads to a rise in homicides and other violent crimes."

"The problem with this is it doesn't  make sense," says Takei. "Why would decreases in arrests of people for low-level offenses like pan-handling or passing bad checks --- using counterfeit bills, as George Floyd was accused of doing before he was murdered --- why would decreases in these kinds of arrests lead to more homicides? That's the unanswered question at the core of the 'Ferguson Effect' idea."

"Police, when it comes especially to serious violent offenses like homicide, are reactive," he argues. "They respond after the shooting has already taken place. And they don't actually have the ability to prevent gun violence. And that's why, over forty years of seeing crime go up and police budgets going up, and then crime going down but police budgets continuing to go up --- we have forty years of year-on-year increases in police budgets and we've seen that there's actually no relationship between how much we are funding the police and what is happening in terms of crime rates."

Takei tells me, "Police aren't actually able to address the root causes of crimes. Especially crimes like interpersonal violence, or crimes that come from economic distress, from mental health issues, drug dependence issues. All of that requires different tools. But we live in a country where oftentimes the first and only response to anything that's labeled as crime is 'give more money to the police.'"

So, to what does Takei attribute the largest one-year spike in murder and manslaughter since record keeping began on these statistics in the 1960s? And what should be done about it? Tune in to find out. But it is damned frustrating to see so many theoretically legitimate news outlets incuriously parroting these unsupported-at-best and arguably completely phony claims about violent crime.

Finally today, a bit of good crime-related news out of Los Angeles this week, where prosecutors have moved to expunge another nearly 60,000 marijuana-related convictions from the past three decades, some five years after California voters approved the use and sale of recreational cannabis...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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SCOTUS may soon overturn Roe v. Wade, but, until then, an injunction would restore long-established legal precedent in the Lone Star State...
[UPDATED 10/6/21: Judge grants preliminary injunction; temporarily enjoins state ban] [UPDATED 10/8/21: 5th Circuit grants temporary administrative stay][UPDATED 10/15/21: DOJ will ask Supreme Court to lift 5th Circuit stay]
By Ernest A. Canning on 9/29/2021 10:05am PT  

On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Robert L. Pitman is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Texas' new anti-abortion law, S.B. 8 in the federal government's Emergency Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order or Preliminary Injunction [PDF]. He is likely to rule in favor of the federal government.

If granted, the ruling by Judge Pitman, an Obama appointee, would temporarily prevent enforcement of the new Texas statute banning pre-viability abortions performed on or after 6 weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know they are pregnant. That preliminary injunction would, for now, restore the status quo ante --- the state of the law in Texas prior to Sept. 1, 2021, when S.B. 8 first went into effect.

Unless overturned on appeal, the preliminary injunction would then remain in effect pending a final decision on the legal issues raised by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in the federal Complaint it filed in United States v. Texas.

The issuance of a temporary injunction by Judge Pitman would not be inconsistent with the U.S. Supreme Court's recent 5-4 rejection of a private medical provider's similar request for an injunction in Whole Woman's Health v. Jackson, the initial federal challenge to the Lone Star State's new law.

As the DOJ argues in its filing, no one, not even Texas, contends that S.B. 8's pre-viability abortion ban --- one that also contains no exception for unwanted pregnancies due to rape or incest --- is Constitutional under existing federal law. To the contrary, even in the first case, Whole Women's Health, the right-wing Supreme Court majority conceded the medical provider plaintiff "raised serious questions regarding the constitutionality of the Texas law at issue".

The core problem which prevented the issuance of an injunction in the initial case arose from "uncertainties" both as to federal court jurisdiction and whether any of the named defendants in that case could lawfully be the subject of a federal court injunction.

Those "uncertainties" arose because S.B. 8 was specifically designed to prevent challenges to its constitutionality in federal courts. The statute was crafted to prevent the Executive Branch of state government from enforcing the 6-week abortion ban. Instead, according to the DOJ's Complaint, S.B. 8 "deputized ordinary citizens to serve as bounty hunters who are statutorily authorized to recover $10,000 per claim from individuals who facilitate a woman's exercise of her constitutional rights."

In Whole Woman's Health, a legal concept known as State sovereign immunity prevented the plaintiff from naming Texas as a defendant. Because the statute prevents enforcement of the Act by members of the state's Executive Branch, the private medical provider was unable to seek an injunction against anyone working for that branch of the Lone Star State. There's legal uncertainty as to whether the State court judge, who was a named defendant in the case, could be enjoined by a federal court. The only potential private "bounty hunter" named in the medical provider's complaint filed an affidavit with the U.S. Supreme Court, asserting he had no present intent to file an S.B. 8 enforcement lawsuit.

The Supreme Court's "shadow docket" majority decision held that those "uncertainties" warranted a denial of the private medical provider's request for injunctive relief in Whole Women's Health. However, that same majority expressly noted their decision "in no way limits other procedurally proper challenges to the Texas law."

Texas cannot assert sovereign immunity when it is directly sued by the federal government in a case that alleges a State enactment violates the sovereignty of the United States. Thus, the DOJ's case, United States v. Texas, is a "procedurally proper" challenge...

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




Biden and Congressional Dems face down a GOP hell-bent on chaos and a handful of 'moderate' Dems set on undermining the Build Back Better agenda; Also: Is the electric vehicle inflection point finally here?...
By Brad Friedman on 9/28/2021 6:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Over the weekend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned her caucus in a "Dear Colleague" letter that "the next few days will be a time of intensity". She wasn't kidding. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Today, we bring you up to date on the four different major pieces of legislation that Democrats must push through Congress, somehow, within the next few days. All four are incredibly important for different reasons, have slightly different deadlines, and slightly different obstacles to passage, each of those obstacles are difficult.

As of midnight Thursday (September 30), the government will shut down if a Continuing Resolution to keep it open is not passed in the Senate. That will end up costing taxpayers a lot of money and financial markets will take a hit, as we already saw today, with the Dow dropping more than 550 points and the S&P falling 2 percent. Of far greater danger to both the stability of the U.S. AND global economy, as of October 18, as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has now cautioned lawmakers, the government will run out of "extraordinary measures" to avoid defaulting on U.S. debt unless the ridiculous, statutory debt ceiling is raised or suspended by Congress. That would allow the government to continuing borrowing to pay for all the stuff that Congress has already committed to spending, such as the $8 trillion increase to the national debt that was run up with the approval of Republicans during the Trump Administration, for example. Without raising the debt limit, Yellen warned, we will face "catastrophic economic consequences".

Republicans in the Senate, however, are currently filibustering the bill that would solve both of those problems in one simple fell swoop, just because they can. They appear to want chaos, uncertainty and a potential meltdown of the global economy, even at the cost of a first-ever default on the good faith and credit of the U.S. government. How that destructive hostage taking ends before the imposing deadlines nobody currently seems to know.

The other two pieces of legislation that need to pass quickly comprise Joe Biden's progressive agenda, which he ran on, is wildly popular among the American people, and which Democrats can now enact into law without any Republican help. One is the $1.5 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package for stuff like roads and bridges. The other is the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill known as the Build Back Better Act to expand health care, education, child care and take on climate change among a host of other critical stuff. The framework for the latter bill was approved by Democrats in both chambers on the basis that both bills would be passed together, appeasing both progressives and so-called "moderates". Together, the two bills make up the bulk of the Biden agenda which every Democrat in both chambers voted to support...at least until a small handful of "moderate" Dems in the House and two Dems in the Senate (Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema), tried to break the deal recently and force a vote on the smaller bill while kicking the larger one down the road.

But a newly robust and emboldened Progressives Caucus in the House is having none of it, and has vowed to vote against the smaller bill if the larger one isn't passed along with it. The hold up on the larger one appears to largely be Manchin and Sinema who have been vague in their objections, other than to protest that $3.5 trillion is too much spend. That, despite the fact that Democrats and the President say the entire ten-year ($350 billion/year) bill is fully paid for by small tax increases on corporations and the wealthy. Biden describes the cost of the bill as "zero".

All of which has resulted in "a time of intensity" on Capitol Hill right now which we walk through today --- intensely --- even as Manchin refuses to come up with a number that he would accept, and as Sinema's vague objections are made somewhat clearer by a fund-raiser being held today for her by several business lobbies who oppose having their taxes raised (to a lower amount than they were before Trump), and as her position is now costing her dearly at the moment among both the Arizona state Democratic Party and Democratic voters across her state. Tune in. We'll explain all.

In less intense --- and actually encouraging --- progressive news OUTSIDE of D.C, the inflection point to electric vehicles may just about be here, if Ford's new announcement this week of a huge, $11 billion investment to build three battery factories and an electric truck plant (creating 11,000 jobs in the bargain) is any indication.

Finally, in a related-ish news, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with even more encouraging news on electric vehicles coming out of Norway this week, along with much less encouraging news regarding the high cost of climate change, the GOP obstruction of aid to victims of Hurricane Ida, and new manslaughter charges against California's largest utility company, PG&E...

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Guest: Congressional historian and author Norman Ornstein of AEI on why he believes Dems will both reform the filibuster and pass a transformative Build Back Better budget reconciliation package...
By Brad Friedman on 9/22/2021 6:23pm PT  

On today's BradCast: What we are witnessing right now in Washington D.C. is not just an exercise in how the sausage gets made...or doesn't. While it is that, it is also an extraordinarily perilous moment for the survival of the republic, as Democrats try to step up, in order to face down an insurrectionist GOP seemingly hell bent on taking the nation and the world down with them. Fortunately, our guest today --- who knows this landscape as well as anyone in the nation --- seems optimistic, despite the fraught dangers that lie ahead. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

The nightmare moment for Joe Biden, the Democrats and the nation, includes a Congressional Republican Party willing to default on the, until now, iron-clad good faith and credit of the U.S. economy, by refusing to vote to raise the ridiculous "debt ceiling" in order to borrow the money needed to pay for all the stuff that we (including Republicans!) have already committed to paying for, including trillions spent or given away during the Trump years.

It also includes several mighty internecine battles inside the Congressional Democratic caucus itself, as the so-called "moderate" and progressive wings of the big tent party attempt to navigate through landmines over the next several days and weeks to come to an agreement on Joe Biden's proposed $3.5 trillion Build Back Better social safety net programs (which, in addition to the expansion of health and child care, also includes a laundry list of long-overdue programs, such as our first major attempt to take on our climate emergency) and the critical Freedom to Vote Act, a sweeping election reform package to try and counter the massive voter suppression and election subversion efforts being adopted by GOP-controlled states in advance of 2022.

To pass the latter, Democrats will almost certainly need to reform the filibuster in some way, to allow passage with a simple majority of Senators. Sadly, there do not appear to be any Republicans left in Congress who are willing to support the right to vote and fair elections. These problems seem insurmountable for the moment, even as we've been fairly bullish on the Dems' ultimate ability to overcome the many hurdles they currently face.

Similarly bullish, it seems, is NORMAN ORNSTEIN [pictured above], longtime Congressional historian and political science PhD, who has spent the bulk of the last four decades studying politics, elections, and the US Congress at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, where he is now a senior fellow emeritus. He is also a contributing editor and columnist for The Atlantic and author of a host of books, including his latest, One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported, with E. J. Dionne and Thomas E. Mann.

Last week, Ornstein and Norman Eisen, of the left-leaning Brookings Institution, published a Washington Post op-ed headlined "Seven reasons to think Senate Democrats will actually change the filibuster". It's based on a paper they published at the same time at Brookings, along with Mel Barnes and Jeffrey A. Mandell, titled "Filibuster reform is coming --- here's how".

Both pieces are surprisingly optimistic when it comes to what will have to happen --- and how West Virginia's Joe Manchin and Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema will have to play along --- in order to reform the filibuster to adopt the Freedom to Vote Act, before that freedom is all but foreclosed by GOP voter suppression and election subversion in next year's mid-terms and 2024's Presidential race.

"We're seeing more and more intense understanding on the part of Democrats in the Senate that the road to accomplishing significant goals, in a time frame that's short for Democrats, has to require some change in their rules," Ornstein tells me, explaining why he believes that even Manchin and Sinema will come around to understanding the existential necessity of countering "the over-the-top actions by --- it's not a party anymore --- the Republican cult, to try not just to obstruct votes and to suppress votes, but to intimidate election workers and overturn legitimate results."

He walks us through why he believes that both of those two currently obstructionist Democratic Senators will come around in the end, on both filibuster reform and the Dems' budget reconciliation bill, which can be adopted with a simple majority vote. "Joe Manchin, throughout his career, has been a transactional politician. You could do a bill that's, say, $2.2 or $2.5 trillion, that actually preserves all of your core priorities" by simply trimming the number of years those proposals will be in effect. And, he argues, it can be done "if not being revenue neutral," then in a way that "is a pretty trivial amount as a share of our Gross Domestic Product."

In the end, he believes Manchin will come along, and Sinema along with him. "I think it's dicey, but I also think it's doable," Ornstein argues.

Among other key points of our conversation today, we discuss how Nancy Pelosi can hold the vote on the smaller, bipartisan, $1.5 trillion infrastructure package that Democratic House "moderates" are demanding next week, but not send the bill to the President's desk until the larger reconciliation package supported by progressives is adopted in both chambers; and how (and if) Democrats will be able to overcome objections by the Senate Parliamentarian to include things like immigration reform in a budget reconciliation package, "awkwardly thrown in". All necessary, says Ornstein, "because of the goddamn filibuster! Because there's no other way to get it done with 50 votes. So you create this ungainly hodgepodge of things as a way to try to circumvent the rules, and the better way to deal with it is to change the damn rules!"

If these things don't happen, he warns, if Democrats fail to successfully navigate the many minefields to adopt both election reform and Biden's Build Back Better Agenda, we are in "deep, deep, deep trouble," he says. "I think we're done for, frankly, if they can't do both of these things."

Of course, in the next few days, we'll also have to somehow get over the debt ceiling cliff that Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are threatening to push the nation over. On that, Ornstein is less sanguine. "I'm actually more concerned about that, because we have a group of Republicans like [Governors] Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott, Kristi Noem and Tate Reeves, and so many others who are willing to let hundreds of thousands of people die [from COVID] for their own political purposes. Can I believe that Mitch McConnell and his colleagues would let the nation go into default and cause the economy to go into huge upheaval? Sadly, yes."

There is also at least one extra treat in my interview with Ornstein today, however, for those who may remember the hilarious and shockingly prescient 1998 satirical novel by Al Franken, written prior to his career as a U.S. Senator, entitled Why Not Me?: The Inside Story of the Making and Unmaking of the Franken Presidency. Ornstein actually "co-stars" in the book as Franken's unlikely Campaign Manager before becoming his Presidential Chief of Staff. I'll not give any more of the book away, since I suspect it's still an hilarious read. But today, Ornstein shares the backstory of how that book came about, and how much more prescient it actually turned out to be than even I remembered!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Debunking CA Recall 'fraud' claim; COVID crisis creating hospital death panels as the voluntarily unvaxxed killing themselves and others...
By Brad Friedman on 9/16/2021 6:10pm PT  

If there's one guy you really don't want vowing to dog you, it may be Rhode Island's Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, easily one of the most persistent Senators in the upper chamber. If you're Trump's FBI Director or, especially, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, that's probably not good news. But it's just one of the stories covered on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Here's a quick summary of many more of them...

  • No, the disappearance of 350,000 votes from CNN's California Recall Election Night live ticker is not proof that it was stolen. Especially when there is a perfectly plausible (and checkable) explanation for it.
  • After the well-publicized testimony of U.S. gymnasts in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, regarding the FBI's years-long failure to adequately investigate hundreds of allegations of sexual assault against now-convicted team physician Larry Nassar, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse had a few related questions for Trump-appointed FBI Director Christopher Wray about another similarly flubbed investigation --- perhaps more accurately described as a Trump Administration/FBI cover-up --- regarding serious allegations of sexual assault against a young girl by a now sitting Supreme Court Justice. After alleged sexual assaulter Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump's second nominee to be packed onto the U.S. Supreme Court by Republicans, Whitehouse vowed to Christine Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh's main accuser, that he would get to the bottom of the FBI's clearly whitewashed pre-confirmation "background check" probe of Kavanaugh. It's three years later and Whitehouse has not forgotten. As he explained while pressing Wray during Wednesday's hearing, he has been waiting all of that time for answers and documents from the FBI. He made clear to Wray that he will not stop until he gets them. As evidenced by his nearly ten years of weekly "Time to Wake Up" climate addresses on the floor of the U.S. Senate, the Rhode Island Senator does not back down easily.
  • The COVID pandemic continues to worsen in the U.S., with no end in sight. That, of course, thanks to the voluntarily unvaccinated. Hospitals across the entire state of Idaho are now rationing care under "critical care standards" that allow them to try and save the lives of those most likely to survive, while offering comfort and best wishes to those unlikely to make it. Similar "death panels" are now in place or "imminent" in other states with similarly low vaccination rates, mostly run by Trumpy, denialist, Republican Governors. While the vast majority of those paying the worst price are the unvaccinated, their selfishness comes at an unspeakable to cost to many who are vaccinated, as we detail today. Those include the Alabama man who died last week in Mississippi after his Trump Country Alabama hospital had to call 43 hospitals before finding one, 200 miles away, that could give him care; the Illinois woman with a comorbidity who died after becoming infected with a breakthrough COVID case after visiting a family friend in Mississippi whose husband had died in the state with one of the lowest vaccine uptake rates; the man in Hawaii who remains in excruciating pain today, because he can't get a non-emergency operation for kidney stones due to lack of oxygen supply for all but COVID patients on all of the islands. Yes, the voluntarily (and selfishly) unvaccinated continue to bring pain, harm, sadness and death to far more people than just themselves...which is already bad enough.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, featuring news on Nicholas, the latest storm to make landfall in our latest record hurricane season, exacerbating recovery in Louisiana, where folks are just beginning to recover from Hurricane Ida the week before last; Biden's continuing push for his landmark climate infrastructure plan; States now beginning to hold plastic producers to account for their pollution; and Vermont stepping up as the latest state to sue fossil fuel giants for decades of deadly lies about climate change...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Elder pretends to care about 'election integrity', lies about fraud before Election Day; Senate Dems reach fantastic election reform 'compromise'; More anti-vax RWers 'bite the dust' while inflaming the pandemic for all...
By Brad Friedman on 9/14/2021 6:57pm PT  

Get ready for another roller-coaster ride on today's BradCast, which also happens to be Recall Election Day in California. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

As of airtime on Tuesday, we heard of no major reports of voting problems at the polls across the Golden State, though that may be thanks to so many already having voted by mail or during early voting. But, while pretending to support "election integrity" during an interview on MSNBC, Larry Elder, rightwing talk show host and GOP front-runner to become Governor if popular Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom loses on the ballot's first question, was busy lying about "fraud" and the "twisted results of this 2021 Recall Election" on his "Stop CA Fraud" website, before any results are known whatsoever. Oh, and he's also threatening the use of the "ammo box" if the results don't go his way.

(And, in related comment, we discuss why these "Will you accept the results of the election tomorrow?" questions are really unfair and unhelpful gotcha questions, that it would be really nice if media stopped asking.)

In far brighter news, a group of eight U.S. Senators --- representing the broad political spectrum across the Democratic caucus in the upper chamber and including Joe Manchin --- announced a "compromise" election reform package with a ton of really really good stuff in it. Among the huge number of long overdue reforms in what they have dubbed the "Freedom to Vote Act": Automatic and same-day voter registration for all; restoration of voting rights for former felons; federal minimum standards for absentee voting, drop boxes and early voting; an end to partisan gerrymandering; curbs on dark money in elections; the prevention of the ability of partisan state legislatures to overturn results derived by non-partisan election officials; new cybersecurity standards for computerized voting systems; and much much more.

The devil is often in the details, and I've yet to review the actual legislative text as of airtime, but from the summary description made available by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Senate committee that oversees federal elections and campaign law, almost any one of the items included in this proposed bill would be hugely good news. I'll need to review the specific language on the measure's requirements for hand-marked paper ballots to sign off on that part of the bill, but even the proposed requirements for Voter ID are very good ones. They will serve to force states with purposely restrictive Photo ID voting restrictions (enacted to suppress the vote, not to protect against fraud) to be much less onerous, while avoiding new restrictive mandates in the majority of states which already have reasonable ID rules or few at all.

The legislation is based on Manchin's personal "compromise" version of the For the People Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, both of which have already been passed by the House. Manchin is one of the eight Senators who worked out this proposal, and is said to be reaching out to bring Republicans on board. Of course, even if all 50 Senators who caucus with the Dems vote in favor, as appears likely (Schumer says he is scheduling a vote for next week), it seems unimaginable that any Republicans will join them, much less the 10 that would be required to overcome a Senate filibuster. But with Manchin as a co-sponsor, it will now be on him to get the GOP votes needed for passage or face the prospect of no long-overdue election protection at all...UNLESS he is willing to support a "democracy reconciliation" carve-out to the Senate filibuster. It should be a very interesting, maddening and/or fantastic week or two. We'll be following it all very closely, of course.

And, as Dems are trying to improve representative Democracy in the U.S., Republicans are still, apparently, in the business of simply trying to kill as many Americans as they can to make some sort of twisted political point.

Yet another fervent, anti-vaxxer rightwing radio and TV host died from COVID over the weekend, the fifth in the past month and a half. And while we've had a modicum of sympathy for some of the others who have recently passed, as we explain, this one, 62-year old Bob Enyart, is very difficult to feel anything but contempt for.

We have slightly more sympathy, however, for the wildly misinformed and brainwashed 64-year old anti-vax QAnon supporter and highway overpass activist and YouTuber, Veronica Wolski who bragged last month on her final video about never having worn a mask in her life, and about the need to "NEVER COMPLY" with any COVID public health measures in order to "never give up your freedoms" so "you never have to fight to get them back."

She won't be fighting for anything anymore. Wolski died over the weekend from COVID-related illness in the ICU, but not before the QAnon dupes, led by disgraced Georgia attorney Lin Wood, sicced supporters on the hospital trying to save her life and threatened its workers with "murder" charges unless they agreed to treat her with Ivermectin, the horse deworming medicine not approved for treatment of COVID. That, before Wood declared on his Telegram channel to his more than 800,000 followers: "Now, we go to war."

Unfortunately, deadly climate change (not to mention COVID) is what wingnuts should be going to war against. As Desi Doyen explains in our latest Green News Report today, yet another massive tropical storm, Hurricane Nicholas, is now knocking out power (again) and drenching the U.S. Gulf Coast with some 20 inches of rain in parts of Texas flooded out in 2017 by Hurricane Harvey and sections of Louisiana that were already still under water following last week's Hurricane Ida. President Biden, meanwhile, is pushing for action on climate in his $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill, and his EPA is taking several long-overdue actions on behalf of clean, non-toxic drinking water across the U.S., and an age-old salmon fishery in Alaska...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guests: Emily Levy of Scrutineers, Jim Soper of NVRTF; Also: GOP freaks out over Biden's vaccine mandate; Cat 5 super typhoon targets Taiwan...
By Brad Friedman on 9/10/2021 6:58pm PT  

On today's BradCast: There's an old idiom about the importance of "knowing the room" you're talking to. It seems the California Sec. of State and/or her office may be unfamiliar with that old idiom. At least based on the bizarre request they made during a meeting on Thursday with some of the nation's top cybersecurity and voting systems experts, asking them to be "cheerleaders" for the state's voting system security procedures. That, following the recent theft and release of key voting system software by rightwingers that has set the hair of those computer scientists on fire, leaving them to urge the SoS to take "urgent" and immediate "emergency actions" to protect Tuesday's Gubernatorial Recall in the Golden State. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But before the inside details on that meeting, Republicans are now predictably freaking out after President Biden announced reasonable, science-based mandates on Thursday, requiring millions of federal employees and contractors to be vaccinated against COVID-19 without an option to test out. There was nothing particular unusual about the executive directive. There are thousands of such vaccines mandates across the country, and have been for decades. They have long been approved by both state and federal courts.

But the GOP, having abandoned any and all actual policy agenda, has become little more than a party of grievance and evidence-free conspiracy theories. Following Biden's new mandates, their heads are exploding as they vow to sue and are equating reasonable new efforts to try and help keep Americans alive (while the Delta variant is surging and infecting and killing more school children) with "tyranny" and "Hitler". Some, including a top U.S. Senate candidate in Ohio, are even encouarging violence against Government officials he is now equating with the "Gestapo".

But that's what Republicans now do. Back here in the Not Crazy World, in places like San Francisco, the city's Health Department announced this week that there have been zero outbreaks of COVID since the school year began in mid-August. That's thanks to universal masking and other common sense requirements for staff and students alike. Contrast that with Florida and Texas and other GOP run states, where schools are shutting down yet again as hospitals are being overwhelmed with cases.

When they're not drama queening about the "FREEDOM!" to infect and kill their friends, family, neighbors and co-workers, they're busy pretending that elections are being stolen from them, despite any hint of evidence to support such serious charges. Lack of evidence this week has not prevented either the former President or rightwing radio host Larry Elder from claiming the ongoing CA Recall election is "rigged" if the popular Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is not removed from office...in a state where registered Ds outnumber Rs by about 2 to 1.

But even if there is no evidence to date of the "voter fraud" Trump and Elder are certain is going to rob Republicans of a victory, there is reason to be concerned about the results of the September 14th Recall. As we've been reporting over the past month --- too often exclusively --- the theft by a Republican County Clerk in Mesa County, Colorado of the Election Management System (EMS) software made by Dominion Voting Systems, and its wide release for download by anyone via the Internet, has placed Tuesday's election in peril, according to cybersecurity and voting systems experts.

Last week, eight of them penned an "urgent" letter [PDF] to CA Sec. of State Dr. Shirley Weber, warning her about the serious security breach caused by the release of the key software used to run and tabulate elections in nearly 60% of California counties. Those top experts --- including UC Berkley's Philip Stark, Georgia Tech's Rich DeMillo, the legendary cybersecurity and voting system white hat hacker Harri Hursti, Livermore National Laboratory cyber expert and longtime CA Sec. of State voting system Advisor David Jefferson, Univ. of South Carolina's Duncan Buell and others --- urged Weber, in their letter, to immediately mandate statewide, public, post-election Risk-Limiting Audits in order to ensure both the accuracy of the computer-tallied results and confidence in them by the public.

"It is critical to recognize that the release of the Dominion software into the wild has increased the risk to the security of California elections to the point that emergency action is warranted," the scientists wrote to Weber, citing the "critical new risk to the recall election" and how to mitigate those risks.

As we've reported, along with a number of the scientists who sent that letter who have appeared on this program, the Secretary's office, while claiming the state's existing security procedures will protect against any problems (even though the scientists explained otherwise in their letter), seemed to be in denial about the concerns. As we've reported, her office had not even offered a direct reply to the scientists until they and a number of state election integrity advocates were invited to a last-minute video conference meeting with Weber and her staff yesterday.

It was at that meeting where the participants --- again, some of the world's top experts in computer and voting system security --- were asked to be "cheerleaders" for California's current security procedures. Of course, anyone who knows folks like the legendary Hursti would be likely to laugh at that particular request.

We're joined today by two participants in Thursday's video meeting with Weber, longtime election transparency advocate EMILY LEVY of Scrutineers.org and JIM SOPER, co-chair of the CA-based National Voting Rights Task Force, which had also sent a letter to Weber urging improved post-election processes following last month's leak of the Dominion EMS software.

Levy confirmed that participants were asked, to be "cheerleaders" during the meeting. "Absolutely, that did happen," she tells us today, confirming my own reporting with a number of other participants. "And I have to say it was quite surprising, especially when coupled with the turning down of our requests about doing the Risk Limiting Audit. So, 'No, we won't do what you're asking, but we do want you to be cheerleaders for the security of the election.'"

"You know, I will applaud any increase in security procedures that I am aware that they are doing," she added. "But I'm certainly not in any position, and I don't think anyone there is, to put our reputations on the line saying  we'll swear by the security of this election. Especially if they're not going to be increasing auditing procedures."

Both Levy and Soper suggested the office seems to understand that the Dominion Election Management System software has now been released, but didn't seem to fully appreciate the threat it poses to the election, as the scientists --- who were also on the video call --- made clear in their letter. "I didn't hear the level of alarm that I think is warranted," Levy notes.

"I think she understands the threat," Soper argued, before explaining that "a big part of the problem is the shortage of time" between now and Tuesday's Recall Election Day. He says, however --- as did UC-Berkeley's Stark, a signatory on the letter, participant in Thursday's meeting and the inventor of the Risk-Limiting Audit protocol --- that there are simplified versions of the RLA format that could be implemented quickly enough and announced for before Tuesday to avoid the appearance of partisanship.

"There is something called a 'Ballot-Polling Risk-Limiting Audit' that they could do," says Soper. "It's not as effective [as a regular, full RLA], but it would be better than doing nothing." He also notes that Weber asked the meeting participants to "send in a little letter with some notes on what we think should be done [and] that they're going to consider 'what can we do?' out of all of these suggestions."

Weber, a Democrat, may not be as concerned as she could be about all of this, as recent polling shows opposition growing to the removal of Newsom. Still, holding ones breath and crossing ones fingers is hardly a recipe for either success or for the protection of election results that voters of all political leanings can have confidence in.

On the other hand, Levy offers several actions that the public can take in the meantime, both from inside and outside of California, to help oversee and secure the election and try to ensure its integrity, via her Scrutineers site.

Finally today, we close with yet another warning of yet another monster hurricane. This time, it's the Category 5 Super Typhoon Chathu that recently spun up in record time. It's now set on a deadly collision course with Taiwan. Just more fallout from our ever-worsening climate emergency in yet another record storm season fueled by non-stop man-made global warming...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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