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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, November 27, 2022
Turkey Toons
Gobble gobble! Our thanks to the one and only Pdidddie for a special holiday collection of toons to help you burn off a few calories!...
Debating the Merits of Garland's New Special Counsel: 'BradCast' 11/21/22
Guests: Former DoJ prosecutor Randall D. Eliason of GWU, Const'l law expert John Bonifaz of FSFP; Also: Does the Constitution disqualify insurrectionist Trump from 2024?...
Sunday 'Ready or Not' Toons
PDiddie's latest collection of the past week's most gut-busting political toons...
Now Back to the Quest for Trump Accountability, Still in Progress: 'BradCast' 11/17/22
Guest: Allison Gill of 'Mueller, She Wrote'; Also: Pelosi leaves Dem leadership; GOP secures House majority; Bass wins L.A. Mayor...
'Green News Report' 11/17/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Crunch time for COP27 climate agreement; NASA says sea levels to rise a foot by 2050; Trump's 2024 announcement climate lies; PLUS: Climate disinfo surging again...
Recent GNRs: 11/15/22 - 11/10/22 - Archives...
2022 GOP Political Fallout, Blame, Circus Begins: 'BradCast' 11/16/22
Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Trump's running again; House, Senate GOP leadership chaos; MS moves to hand-marked paper ballots...
'Green News Report' 11/15/22
Biden pledges leadership, funding at U.N. climate summit; U.S. and China resume climate talks; Costly Nicole; PLUS: Dems Sen. majority to hold line on climate policy...
Sunday 'Red Wave' Toons
Surf the wave! It's Pdiddie's first post-midterms collection of the week's best political toons!...
The Guy Whose Data Analysis Was Right on the Election on Why Media Got It So Wrong (Again): 'BradCast' 11/11/22
Guest: TargetSmart's Tom Bonier; 'Red wave' buffoonery; Latest results from AZ, NV...
It's the Gerrymandering (and Corrupted Courts), Stupid: 'BradCast' 11/10/22
Guest: Redistricting expert, author David Daley; Also: How Fox 'News' dupes followers via smartphone; Latest Sen, House, Guv results...
'Green News Report' 11/10/22
Failed 'red wave' is good news for the climate; New reports warn of skyrocketing methane levels; PLUS: Mixed results for state environmental ballot propositions...
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: Tom Bonier of TargetSmart; Also: Fox 'News' 'red wave' buffoonery; Latest results on Sen, Guv, SoS and A.G. races from AZ, NV...
By Brad Friedman on 11/11/2022 6:28pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's no surprise that Fox 'News' deluded itself for months and even years about a "red wave" or "tsunami" coming for the 2022 midterm elections. It shouldn't be a surprise that the theoretically legitimate media got it wrong as well, given that they seem to make the same errors election after election. And yet, it's both surprising and disappointing, given that the data to counter their erroneous narrative was right there in front of their face the whole time...if they simply bothered to, or had the courage to, listen to it. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

"There was nothing magical about what I did," our guest today, TOM BONIER of the Democratic data research firm, TargetSmart, explains. "It was, as you say, seeing the numbers and reporting the numbers and, in the end, trying to stay away from predictions or projections, but to say, 'Look, this is what we're seeing'."

Bonier's well-documented Twitter threads on the data over the past many months spelled out what shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone. In the face of extremism from the right and, in particular, the Supreme Court, there was a backlash against Republicans which served to boost Democrats across the board.

Prior to today, Bonier joined us twice in recent months to discuss his analysis of data and what he was seeing and tweeting about to anyone who might have wanted to listen. In late August, after voters in deep red Kansas decisively rejected a ballot initiative that would have rewritten the state constitution to allow abortion to be banned, he joined us to explain what he saw as a "jaw-dropping" spike in new voter registrations for young, Democratic women following the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision in late June, overturning Roe v. Wade. Bonier saw similar spikes in new registrations all over the map, in "red" and "blue" states alike, but particularly where reproductive rights were most threatened.

In late September he joined us again after analyzing specific voter data from that failed Kansas referendum. Hard evidence of an incredible spike in women voters that, he told us at the time, "just doesn't happen in elections." He posited that any suggestion that Democrats would be swamped in November, as the so-called Conventional Wisdom offered by pundits would have it, was simply ignoring the available data. He argued the election would be very close and almost certainly not a "wave" for the GOP.

He was right. Even though, over the past month in the run-up to Election Day, the corporate media were, largely in lock step, warning that Dems were done for, soon to be swamped by a red wave or even tsunami! How much of that erroneous punditry "blunted" the final results, Bonier laments, citing races like Mandela Barnes' in Wisconsin, where the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate fell just shy of unseating incumbent Republican Ron Johnson by a single point.

"I like to think of myself as an optimist, but it was difficult over the last few weeks and months," he tells me. "In reality, what we do at TargetSmart is we listen to the data. That's all we were doing. Along the way I was looking at the voter registration data, looking at the early vote data, looking at it in the context of the polls and trying to draw some conclusions. But mostly providing context and questioning the hard-set assumptions that were really leading everyone."

We discuss, among other things, the "flood of Republican polling" in the last few weeks of the campaign and how it warped forecasts from poll aggregation sites like FiveThirtyEight, and how his fellow traveler, Simon Rosenberg, who also had it right, was "mocked" when he highlighted how forecasts were being swamped by those bad GOP polls.

By itself, the media failure "doesn't happen. It took some level of complicit behavior from those who should be guards against it," Bonier insists. "People are mocking Fox News at this point. We know it is a very biased Republican media platform. But the bottom line is most of cable and these other outlets had a level of certainty about this outcome in a very similar way. I have to say, as I spoke with reporters in the closing weeks, I would be telling them 'Look, this is going to be a close election. I don't see a Republican wave. I don't see that in the numbers.' And I was just short of mocked by reporters."

But, why? Is it a lack of courage to stray from the pack journalism and group think? Or, as media critic Dan Froomkin argued today, a symptom of systemic "rot" in the political media? Bonier offers his frank thoughts on that and much more as we dig deep in today's discussion. I strongly urge you to tune in for it in full.

Also today, in addition to our own mocking of Fox "News", we've got plenty left over to mock folks like HBO's Bill Maher and Spotify's Joe Rogan and CNN's Fareed Zakaria and NYTimes' Maggie Haberman who all got it wrong as well --- and misled the American electorate in the bargain --- for many of the reasons discussed on today's program. And, we've also got the latest reported results out of still uncalled critical races for U.S. Senate, Governor, Sec. of State and Attorney General in Arizona and Nevada...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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GOP seeks to toss thousands of legal ballots in PA, WI, MI; Still fighting for the right to vote in GA; Callers turn 'pundit' with their 2022 predictions...
By Brad Friedman on 11/7/2022 5:40pm PT  

We try (though don't always necessarily succeed) to lighten things up a bit on today's BradCast, on the final day before our critical midterm Election Day on Tuesday and the rare Blood Moon eclipse that heralds its arrival after midnight tonight. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

After a weekend full of "experts" and TV pundits telling us that Democrats are going to face a bloodbath in both the House and Senate on Tuesday --- they might, though the TV pundits have no actual idea one way or another --- we open the phones to second opinions from listeners.

First, however, some quick items of note...

  • In case you're wondering which candidates those might be, Washington Post offers a few hints today, as they round up some of the key lawsuits filed by Republicans hoping to disenfranchise voters in the critical battlegrounds states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. The suits seek to toss out thousands of perfectly legitimate absentee ballots lawfully cast by legal voters.
  • A screw-up admitted by election officials in Cobb County (Atlanta), Georgia resulted in more than 1,000 absentee ballots failing to go out to voters who requested them. A consent decree via a last minute lawsuit may help make up for some of those votes, with the judge allowing those voters to receive ballots by overnight mail and count them as long as they're cast by Election Day and arrive by November 14, as overseas and military voters are already allowed. A similar problem, however, appears to have occurred for some voters in DeKalb County for reasons still unknown. Though its still unclear how many are affected, they may end up being disenfranchised in the critical swing state.
  • We cover a few other items of note today as we go, but as we're hoping to lighten things up for a change today and bring some "joy" before Election Day, we turn to callers to see if they agree with the overwhelming consensus of corporate media of late regarding which party will win majorities in the House and Senate on Tuesday. The professional media have been reporting all weekend long (and, really, for the last two or three weeks or so), that Dems will take a drubbing on Tuesday. They might, of course. But there does seem to be some mitigating evidence to that conclusion, including unusually robust early and absentee voting numbers in critical states. Numbers that outpace 2018, when Dems saw a "blue tsunami". Of course, who knows who those early voters are actually voting for. Callers ring in with their own thoughts in response to the pundits and who they think will end up capturing majorities in the two chambers of Congress on Tuesday. As with professional, highly paid corporate media pundits, there will be absolutely zero consequences for our "caller pundits" if they turn out to be wrong...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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

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Guest: Alan Minsky of Progressive Democrats of America; Also: Final federal jobs report before midterms beats expectations again...
By Brad Friedman on 11/4/2022 6:29pm PT  

After a few quick words about the "Goldilocks" final jobs report to be released by the federal government before Tuesday's critical midterms on today's BradCast, we get right to what might be regarded as a closing argument for progressives. Of course, we're unlikely to change the minds of many brain-poisoned MAGA rightwingers at this late date, but there may still be some on the left who are reachable and could use some encouragement. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Last week, The BRAD BLOG's legal contributor, Ernie Canning, who served as a Senior Advisor to Vets for Bernie during his 2016 campaign, published his latest article. It's titled "To Save American Democracy: A long time Bernie Sanders supporter on why we must vote 'blue' in '22". Please give it a read if you haven't.

Ernie updated his post the next day to note that former Green Party Presidential candidate Ralph Nader had also endorsed voting for Democrats this year on Democracy Now!, describing the GOP as a "dictatorship party" and "the most dangerous political movement since the Civil War."

As readers and listeners know, I too have broken from my nearly 20 years of remaining non-partisan when covering major elections, to specifically call on folks to vote this year for Democrats. As I have explained, that is not because I believe the Democratic Party is wonderful, but because I am really really concerned right now about the survival of American democracy itself. For reasons that I've detailed on both The BRAD BLOG and The BradCast for months (if not longer), the issue of its survival is quite literally on the line in the 2022 elections ahead of the 2024 Presidential election.

All of that, even as I've heard from too many folks on the so-called progressive left who still don't seem to fully appreciate what is at stake and believe that we still enjoy the luxury this year of voting for a third party or sitting out entirely. We don't.

Over the weekend, my guest today, ALAN MINSKY, a lifelong activist and Bernie Sanders supporter himself who now serves as the Executive Director of Progressive Democrats of America, published an article headlined "No Person of Conscience Can Sit Out this Midterm Election", wherein he makes the progressive case for voting for the Democratic Party this year. "Democracy and the very principle of a Society of Equals are on the ballot," the sub-title of his piece reads, adding, "and, yes, it's about the Economy too."

From the need to codify the rights and freedoms of Roe v. Wade, stolen by our corrupt Supreme Court, into federal law, to passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Freedom to Vote Act and much more, Minsky makes the case that "The 2022 midterm election represents a unique and historic opportunity to protect our democracy and our right to equality before the law against an unrelenting offensive being waged by the reactionary right." That, amid a rising authoritarian movement here and around the world and "widespread Republican support for Trump's Big Lie and the embrace of Authoritarian despots like Hungary's Victor Orban by Republican elites."

Though we haven't spoken on air (or at all actually!) for a number of years, Alan is an old friend after his years of formerly serving as Program Director at Pacifica Radio's KPFK, our flagship station here in Los Angeles. Alan has always been passionately progressive and likely even farther to the left than me, so I took careful notice when I came across his new piece at the liberal Common Dreams website.

We discuss all of the above and the concerns we both share about those on the progressive left who have either been misled or simply have yet to grasp the historic nature of this moment and the need to push back against rising authoritarianism, even if it means voting for a decidedly imperfect Democratic Party right now.

"If American democracy is toppled, this whole era we've lived through, understanding that we are citizens of a democratic society, the notion of a society of equals will be in such peril," he tells me today. "The reactionary right, coming off of January 6, coming off of Donald Trump's refusal to accept the election, they are emboldened to take down American democracy in their efforts to create a permanent ruling party."

"Bernie Sanders himself is barnstorming around the country to lift up Democratic candidates," Minsky observes, "to make the economic justice components of American society real for the average person." He urges that "we can't just cede this territory. Not just to a very dangerous rightwing, but even to the neo-liberal centrist Democrats."

"What I would encourage people to do is to recognize by voting and preserving the democratic process and improving it, you are maintaining capacity for a real progressive movement to be vibrant in the United States," Minsky argues. "This midterm election opens a space --- that I really want to encourage everyone listening who is a progressive --- we can win this in the Democratic Party."

"We can change this country for the better. But we have to preserve our democracy to leave that opportunity open. And that's why this election cycle is so important."

"If young people get out and vote at the level they did in 2018, let alone 2020, Democrats will win this election," he notes. "But that doesn't look to be where it is. I think that does have a lot to do with the perception that the Democratic Party is not a welcoming institution. But again, for those folks, you have allies on the inside of the party. We will fight this fight together, we will win this together. But right now it is essential that people DO vote in this election to preserve the democratic process that will be the instrument to allow us to win those victories in the near future. So, if we can preserve democracy, there's a bright future ahead."

"We have to preserve democracy now and strengthen it," Minsky concludes near the end of our broad conversation on a whole bunch of related topics. "We can do that with a victory in this election. So I encourage everybody, yes, to vote Democratic on Tuesday, or before Tuesday if you're in a state you can do that, and let's win this thing."

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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

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Guest: Theeda Murphy of No Exceptions Prison Collective; Also: Corrupt SCOTUS helps Trump on tax returns, Graham on GA testimony...
By Brad Friedman on 11/1/2022 6:01pm PT  

We've been discussing for weeks (months, actually) on The BradCast how critical the November 8 midterm elections are to American democracy itself. I've even referred to it as the most critical midterms since the Civil War. Until recently, however, I had no idea how on the money that comparison actually is. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

In five states this year --- from so-called "red" states like Alabama, Louisiana and Tennessee to the theoretically liberal bastions of Oregon and Vermont --- slavery itself will be on the ballot. Seriously. Or, at least "involuntary servitude". What's the difference between that and slavery? Even our guest today, an expert on such issues, has trouble discerning that.

The U.S. Constitution's 13th Amendment, adopted in 1865 to end slavery, reads [emphasis added]: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

In other words, slavery was abolished --- except for prisoners, who may be forced into involuntary servitude as part of their punishment. It's a not-accidental loophole, you'll be shocked to learn, that has been disproportionately exercised historically against Black Americans.

In 2020, however, several Democratic members of Congress introduced a resolution to begin amending that part of the 13th Amendment. But changing the U.S. Constitution is a heavy lift that requires passage by two-thirds of each chamber of Congress and approval by three-fourths of the states. In the meantime, there are the exact same or very similar references to involuntary servitude --- or even slavery itself --- still present in a number of state Constitutions and/or statutes. And, this year, there are ballot initiatives in the five states mentioned above to finally change or remove those references entirely.

So, yeah. Ending slavery, at least in some state constitutions, at least for prisoners, is actually on this year's ballot as well.

We're joined today for insight by THEEDA MURPHY, Co-Director of the No Exceptions Prison Collective, a non-profit, grassroots initiative based in Nashville, TN, dedicated to, among other things, aboloshing slavery!

"Any type of forced labor is slavery. Period. And should not exist in the United States in 2022," Murphy explains, stating what one would think should be obvious. Surprisingly, it isn't. There are elected officials --- both Democratic and Republican --- who have offered various reasons to oppose such initiatives to rewrite the 13th Amendment and the state-based provisions which echo it. Most of their reasons have to do with assuring that cheap prison labor can continue, a $500 billion industry where the average pay is $1/hour. (Though that is, somehow, not considered slavery!)

Over the past two elections, in 2018 and 2020, three states, Colorado, Nebraska and Utah, adopted measures to ban involuntary servitude. A recent effort here in California failed to make it onto the ballot this year. But the hope of advocates like Murphy is that, with reform at the state level, interest may grow in a federal Constitutional amendment that finally ends what is known as the "Punishment Clause" or the "Exception Clause'. But there are other reasons to adopt such measures as well.

States where similar changes have been made, explains Murphy, "are beginning to have these discussions about what does it mean to now have people that cannot be treated like property, that the state no longer owns, and what that means for every aspect of a person who is incarcerated. Can you deny them healthcare? What kind of food do you feed them? Do you charge them for their clothes? Those are the kinds of questions that begin to be answered, or to be asked, because people are no longer property."

Murphy says that in her home-state of Tennessee, internal polling shows both Democrats and Republicans are "united" on the ballot measure this year. "Nobody is FOR slavery," she quips. "Nobody at least will come out and SAY they're for it."

Hey! Maybe we found at least one issue that doesn't divide Americans? We'll find out after next Tuesday.

In other noteworthy news today...

  • After nearly four years of House Democrats attempting to exercise the federal law that mandates the IRS "shall furnish" the tax returns of any taxpayer to the heads of several Congressional committees upon request, Donald Trump is running out of legal (and illegal) options to block the Democratic-controlled House Ways and Means Committee from reviewing his tax documents. But, after the federal appeals court in D.C. unanimously said last week that the IRS must turn them over, Trump filed an emergency appeal to his stolen, packed and corrupted Supreme Court. Today, Chief Justice John Roberts placed a temporary administrative hold on the lower court's order, buying Trump at least 10 days while the House responds to the disgraced former President's motion. But now, every day counts, with the possibility of Democrats losing their majority at the beginning of next year, when Republicans will almost certainly drop the House request. The clock is ticking.
  • In somewhat brighter related news, after a similar administrative hold by the corrupt Justice Clarence Thomas last week, the Supremes have decided that Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) must sit for a deposition with the Special Grand Jury created by Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis, in her investigation of the Trump-led conspiracy to steal the 2020 election in the Peach State. SCOTUS, however, has left open some doors for Graham to return to district court if he believes any of the questions he's asked violate his right to not answer questions related to his legislative activity as a Senator under the Constitution's Speech and Debate Clause.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with a bit of bona fide good news --- in several different stories, in fact --- to wrap up today's program...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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

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'Democracy came out victorious' in Lula's defeat of Bolsonaro; U.S. democracy at stake in next week's midterms; New Senate polling; Pelosi's would-be assassin was a follower of Trump's election lies; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 10/31/2022 5:51pm PT  

We're just over one week from the most critical midterm elections in these United States since the Civil War. So, we've got a lot to discuss on today's BradCast. And the phones are finally fixed at KPFK, so we were actually able to hear from callers today as well! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the stories covered on today's program before listeners ring...

  • Why it really matters: A few thoughts on why, exactly, these elections are so critical, in all 50 states, for the future of American democracy itself; why you need to vote in whatever state you live in by Tuesday; and why, depending on how it all goes, this could be the last democratic election in this country. An overstatement? I don't think so in the least. But tune in for much more on all of that and for listner calls from folks who may or may not agree with me.
  • If they can do it in Brazil: Great news! The far-right, Donald Trump-supported autocrat Jair Bolsonaro was deposed in a runoff election on Sunday to Brazil's former leftist President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, popularly known as "Lula". The race was closer than polls had predicted, but it was the first time since the nation became democratized in the 1980s that an incumbent President went down to defeat. That is good for workers, that is good for the planet (given Bolsonaro's destruction of the Amazon rainforest), and, as Lula said up winning, good for democracy itself. "This isn’t a victory of mine or the Workers’ Party, nor the parties that supported me in the campaign," said the once and future President. "It's the victory of a democratic movement that formed above political parties, personal interests and ideologies so that democracy came out victorious."
  • After all that: New polling out today from New York Times and Siena College finds four key U.S. Senate races are still polling pretty much where they were several weeks ago, despite recent breathless corporate media reports that Dem support was tanking and a "red" wave was forming. Perhaps it is, but that's not what today's new polling suggests. The Democratic Senate candidates in Arizona, Pennsylvania and Georgia all still lead their Republican opponents, if by slim margins, and the race in Nevada is said to be a dead heat. At least, if you believe pre-election polling. (And I wouldn't, if I were you.) It's all likely to be very close. All of it. Everywhere. Please get out and vote, as they did in Brazil...for democracy.
  • Another assassination attempt on the Speaker of the House: We were off on Friday, so didn't get to ring in on it, but we've learned more over the weekend about the attacker who, echoing January 6, 2021 insurrectionists, was hunting for Nancy Pelosi as he hoped to use zip ties to restrain her 82-year old husband Paul last Friday morning at their house in San Francisco. The attacker ended up cracking Paul Pelosi's skull with a hammer before he was tackled by police. By way of contrast with the "outrage" expressed for weeks by Republicans at peaceful protests outside the homes of corrupt Supreme Court Justices several months ago, many of those same GOPers made jokes over the weekend about the attack on the Pelosis by a man who appears to have been a supporter of QAnon conspiracies and far-right commentators and who believed Trump's lie that the 2020 Presidential election was stolen from him. The 42-year old assailant has now been charged with both state and federal felonies, including attempted murder; assault with a deadly weapon; assault on the immediate family member of a federal official; and attempted kidnapping of a federal official. Paul Pelosi is said to be recovering after emergency surgery for a fractured skull.
  • Calls forward: Finally, we open up the phone lines --- for the first time in a month, now that they're fixed here at the station! --- on all of the above and more with some very lively callers (several of whom, as usual, don't agree with me on every li'l thang...)

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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

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On climate, natural gas, 'junk fees' and other substantive issues worth knowing about ahead of our critical midterm elections...
By Brad Friedman on 10/27/2022 6:18pm PT  

The element of surprise plays a central role in several of the stories covered on today's BradCast.

Among them...

  • SURPRISE! Natural gas prices actually went negative (companies paying to give it away) in parts of Europe this week, as the EU now has a glut of natural gas with Winter approaching and storage facilities reaching capacity. That's particularly surprising after earlier concerns earlier this year that folks could freeze to death after Russia's Vladimir Putin cut off much of its supply in retaliation for sanctions against his brutal invasion of Ukraine. So, why the glut? Several reasons: EU nations scrambled to make up for the gas cut off by Putin with sources from elsewhere while also working toward a quicker transition to renewable sources of energy. Also, mild, climate changed weather in the region has eased demand so far this Autumn.
  • SURPRISE! The price of natural gas in parts of west Texas also plummeted to nearly zero recently, thanks to over-production and a lack of storage there as well. All of which is "surprising", if only because Republicans have been telling (lying to) Americans that Joe Biden had crippled fossil fuel energy production in the U.S. (he hasn't), which has lead to increased prices...which is actually largely due to price gouging that every Republican in Congress recently voted against prohibiting.
  • SURPRISE! Russia's war in Ukraine is hastening, not slowing, a global shift away from fossil fuels and towards cleaner, renewable energy sources like wind, solar and EV's, according to a new International Energy Agency (IAE) report on Thursday. Global investment in renewable sources is quickly rising, as nations seek energy security in response to Putin's war and in hopes of improving their economies by grabbing a chunk of the trillions of dollars being spent on development and manufacturing in the burgeoning clean energy industry. Nonetheless, while the shift will reportedly result in peak fossil fuel usage by 2025, the current pace of the transition is still nowhere near what climate scientists say is necessary to avoid the worst impacts of global warming.
  • SURPRISE (FEES)! The Biden Administration's Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced on Wednesday that it is cracking down on unlawful corporate junk fees --- for checks you deposit at your bank from someone which ends up bouncing; for changing plane tickets after an airline cancelled your flight, etc. --- amounting to billions of dollars in savings for American consumers. The President's announcement at the White House on Wednesday comes just days after three Trump-appointees on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with part of a lawsuit from the sleazy Payday Lending Industry lobby charging that the funding mechanism for the CFPB --- created during the Obama Administration in response to the Great Recession as the only federal agency created to protect consumers rather than corporations --- was somehow unconstitutional. And after Biden's announcement to end junk fees, Republicans in both the House and Senate released statements vowing to end the new consumer protections...which will be much easier for them to do if they win majorities in either chamber in the November midterms.
  • SURPRISE (NOT)! After Amazon indignantly pretended to cut off political donations to Republicans who voted against certifying Joe Biden's Electoral College victory after the January 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol insurrection, the monopolistic retailer apparently restarted them...just as soon as the nation's next major election got under way.
  • Finally, it's no surprise that Desi Doyen has both good news and bad in our latest Green News Report, as drought deepens across the U.S.., the U.N. warns about catastrophic consequences of climate change; Australia builds a really really big battery; and as the Biden Administration rolls out a national fleet electric school buses...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: David Dayen of The American Prospect; Also: Follow science and save lives by voting NO on CA's Prop 31 vaping flavor ban!...
By Brad Friedman on 10/24/2022 6:35pm PT  

Today on The BradCast, some help for voters in California trying to make sense of some of those confusing propositions on this year's midterm ballot, and some new worries for the entire nation when it comes to the GOP's vow to destroy the so-called "administrative state". [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

We're joined today by DAVID DAYEN, investigative financial journalist, Executive Editor of The American Prospect and author of (most recently), Monopolized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power. We've got quite a bit to discuss with him today.

First, ride-share companies Lyft and Uber scammed California voters two years ago with the landslide passage of Prop 22, which the companies spent nearly $250 million to put on the ballot and misrepresent to voters. They claimed that their workers in the state should not be treated as employees under CA law --- with all the benefits that come with it --- but as a new type of independent contractor. The companies told voters that, under Prop 22, their drivers would make at least 20% above minimum wage (currently $15/hour in the state) and would receive other increased benefits for healthcare, etc.

Now, two years in, it turns out that Uber and Lyft drivers in CA are averaging just $6.20/hour. Dayen explains how that can possibly be, adding: "When you allow a corporation to set the terms of employment and to opt out of, in this case, the state system that governs employment arrangements, they're probably going to take advantage of it for their devices. And that's exactly what happened here."

This year, Lyft is supporting another CA ballot initiative, Prop 30, that would tax millionaires to help subsidize elective vehicles for their drivers and to fund CA firefighting efforts. The state's Democratic Party seems to believe them. The state's Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, on the other hand, doesn't. What explains that? We try to figure it out.

But, more importantly, Dayen argues the entire matter is symptomatic of what he now sees as CA's "failed experiment with direct democracy" in its ballot initiative process. Can it be reformed to make it work for the people as intended? Or has it been irreversibly taken over by corporate interests who have learned how to purchase their interests into state law?

Also today, Dayen breaks down last week's stunning ruling by a three-judge panel on the hard-right 5th Circuit Court of Appeals (all three were Trump appointees), finding that the way Congress chose to fund the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is, somehow, unconstitutional. The CFPB was created during the Obama Administration to protect consumers after the 2008 global banking crisis and subsequent Great Recession. It was the brainchild of Elizabeth Warren before she became a Senator. The Bureau is the only federal agency built and devoted specifically to protecting consumers, as opposed to corporations.

As Dayen explains, the court's ruling, if allowed to stand, would not only make the CFPB go away entirely (long a goal of Republicans), but also hundreds of regulations and consumer protections that the Bureau oversees. Moreover, if the judges are right about the funding mechanism for CFPB being unconstitutional, well then so is the funding for dozens of other critical federal agencies and programs!

"The logic of the 5th Circuit's ruling is that all of those other agencies [including the FDA] are also unconstitutional," says Dayen. "There are also a number of mandatory spending items in America that are not funded through the appropriations process. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps. The logic of the 5th Circuit's ruling is that all those things are all unconstitutional."

In addition to "this ruling defunding the police --- the consumer protection police" in a case brought by the rapacious payday lending industry, he details how this is the very definition of the GOP's years-long vow to "destroy the administrative state". In this case, as Dayen argues, there are also a bunch of protections for big banks that would be wiped out as well unless the ruling is overturned. So, maybe that little glitch will --- ironically enough --- help to save the CFPB.

One more matter we touch on with the author of Monopolized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power, the recently announced takeover of Albertsons by Kroger, which already owns Ralph's, Food For less, and many others as the nation's largest grocery store conglomerate. Albertsons is the second largest. They own Vons, Safeway and many others. In short, Kroger's takeover, if it goes through, would result in one company owning --- and having near monopolistic pricing power over --- more than 60% of the nation's grocery stores. As you might imagine, Dayen has a few warnings about this "very, very disturbing merger," but adds that he's pretty sure that Biden's Federal Trade Commission (FTC) "is going to take a healthy look at it."

Finally today, one more thought on one more initiative on this November's CA ballot, one which is likely to spread like a deadly virus to much of the rest of the country if successful here. Prop 31 would ban the sale of flavored e-juice for vaping and e-cigs in the state. The disingenuous claim by supporters is that flavors --- like the one that I used, espresso, to finally successfully quit smoking --- are attractive to kids. Prop 31 proponents argue this ban on flavored vape juice is needed to keep kids from vaping. But the fact is that kids are already banned from buying these products in CA! Instead, the ban would serve only to kill actual smokers by preventing them from switching to vaping, which scientists universally find to be far safer than smoking. More details in support of "NO" on CA's Prop 31 --- a maddening and deadly scam --- on today's BradCast...

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A long time Bernie Sanders supporter on why we must vote 'blue' in '22...
UPDATE: Independent progressive Ralph Nader joins call to vote 'blue' in '22...
By Ernest A. Canning on 10/24/2022 10:05am PT  

I was a long time Bernie Sanders supporter. I still am. As an attorney and Vietnam veteran I even served as a Senior Adviser to Vets for Bernie during his 2016 campaign. I also supported Sen. Sanders during the 2020 primaries. That was then. This is 2022.

President Biden was not engaging in hyperbole when he recently warned the nation that "democracy will be on the ballot" this November.

I recently underscored his message with my coverage of the amicus brief to SCOTUS from all 50 State Supreme Court Chief Justices warning in no uncertain terms against the dangers of the "fringe", so-called "Independent State Legislature" (ISL) theory, soon to be decided by the High Court. The case, Moore v. Harper, was brought to the Court via North Carolina Republicans seeking to override their own state Supreme Court regarding partisan gerrymandering. The theory they are using to do so echoes the radical interpretation of the U.S. Constitution's Elections Clause as advanced by disgraced former law professor, John Eastman, during his attempt to help Donald Trump steal the 2020 Presidential election.

Irrespective of whether it comes by way of a violent insurrection or via judicial fiat handed down from the U.S. Supreme Court's "radicals in robes", American democracy may soon be all but lost absent a massive turnout for the midterms by everyone who desires to save it.

If a SCOTUS majority embraces the ISL theory, it could lead to a circumstance where MAGA Republican State legislatures can not only rig all future U.S. House elections via partisan gerrymandering, voter suppression and intimidation but also present what the Brennan Center described as a "nightmare scenario" in which a partisan, gerrymandered State legislature "would invoke [the ISL] as a pretext to refuse to certify the results of a presidential election and instead select its own slate of electors." In other words, under the ISL theory a partisan gerrymandered State Legislature, and not the People, would hold the ultimate power to "elect" all future Presidents. Neither gubernatorial vetoes, nor state voters nor state Constitutions nor state Supreme Courts would be able to overrule them.

Where MAGA Republicans proponents of the ISL theory offer an absurd bastardization of the Constitution's Elections Clause as a ticket to undermine democracy, most legal scholars regard the same Clause as providing a means by which democracy can be saved...

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




DeSantis' shameful 'voter fraud' round-up; Blistering progressive midterm ads; Disastrous 'conservative' fiscal leadership in U.K., U.S.; Good CO2 emissions news (mostly); Rubio bombs in FL debate with Demings...
By Brad Friedman on 10/20/2022 6:56pm PT  

It's a grab bag on today's BradCast, as we cover a ton of stuff from around the world and here at home, just over two weeks before another critical Election Day. [Audio link to today's show follows below.]

Among our many stories covered today...

  • With one disgraced, failed Conservative Party Prime Minister after another in Britain since they fell for that whole rightwing BREXIT scam, perhaps the good citizens of the UK might want to consider leadership from amongst the liberal Labour Party instead? Just a thought, but surely they couldn't perform any worse than the Torries, could they Lizz Truss, the third Tory PM to resign amid financial chaos and disgrace in as many years (she lasted just 44 days!) exited stage right today as the financial markets look to downgrade the the UK's credit rating amid continuing fiscal havoc and political uncertainty.

    It's all "self-immolation" and it echoes financial and political chaos repeatedly sown by our own "conservative" party here in the U.S. And yet, for some reason, a majority of the American public reportedly remain disinformed enough to believe, somehow, that Republicans are better on economic issues than Democrats. It's yet another sign of a failed corporate U.S. media, frankly. More thoughts and details in today's actual show, of course.

  • There was better than expected news on global CO2 emissions this week! Despite a temporary return to coal, oil and gas by some in the EU in response to Russia's horrific war on Ukraine, the growth in fossil fuel emissions this year is far lower than previously predicted. This year, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), growth in emissions from fossil fuels was just 300 million metric tons, compared to nearly 2 billion tons last year. New renewable energy coming on line from wind and solar and other sources of clean energy, along with the world's move to Electric Vehicles, is helping to counter a temporary return to fossil fuels in some parts of the world. Much of this is attributed to the acceleration of major clean energy policy plans around the world, some in response to Russia's war, but also to nations' effort to meet goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. That would include efforts here at home by Democrats and President Biden who enacted the world's largest single investment in climate --- nearly $400 billion --- in the Inflation Reduction Act, adopted without one Republican vote.
  • With just over two weeks until the critical midterm elections with so much on the ballot, from democracy itself to all manner of Constitutional rights and freedoms, Democrats, progressives and other anti-authoritarians are pushing hard to win over voters. VoteVets, the nation's largest progressive veterans support group, released a blistering ad this week targeting Wisconsin's Republican Senator and insurrection enthusiast Ron Johnson, as a "traitor". And California's Rep. Eric Swalwell released a bone-chilling ad illustrating a dystopian future where police are knocking on doors to round women who've had an illegal abortion.
  • Swalwell's fictional ad is hauntingly echoed by actual video footage obtained and published this week by the Tampa Bay Times in Florida, revealing law enforcement officials rounding up and arresting residents for what even the confused officers describe as "some sort of voter fraud thing". In August, GOP Governor and Presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis --- who is on this year's ballot against Democrat and former Gov. Charlie Crist --- held a dramatic news conference announcing 20 arrests by his new "Office of Election Crimes and Security". As we have since learned, those arrested were former felons who believed their voting rights had been restored after the landslide 65 to 35% passage of a statewide ballot initiative in 2018. But, the initiative had a few exceptions that the former felons weren't told about when they registered and when those registrations were approved by DeSantis' own State Department.

    “Voter fraud?," said one perplexed man as he was told he was being hauled off to jail for voting illegally years earlier. "Y’all said anybody with a felony could vote, man." Other arrestees, nabbed out of the blue at their homes just hours before DeSantis' news conference, were similarly stunned. Local law enforcement officials participating in the arrests also seemed unable to explain exactly why any of this was happening. The majority of the arrestees, according to the paper, were black and/or Democrats, "a throwback to the worst images of the Jim Crow South and a preview of a dystopian future under GOP authoritarianism," writes the Philly Inquirer's Will Bunch today.

    Yes, the authoritarian dystopian future envisioned by Swalwell's fictional video of cops rounding up a woman who had an abortion is shockingly similar to the videos published this week by Tampa Bay Times.

  • Speaking of Florida and dystopia, GOP Sen. Marco Rubio and his Democratic challenger for reelection, Rep. Val Demings, squared off in a debate this week. Among the embarrassing moments for the two-term Republican Senator: his claim that absentee ballot drop-boxes shouldn't be used because someone could "put some explosives in it and blow it up and burn all of those ballots' and his explanation for why he previously claimed, after the 2018 Parkland high school massacre that killed 17, to support a ban on the sale of semi-automatic assault weapons to those under the age of 21 --- but he no longer does. "You've done nothing, nothing to help address gun violence," charged Demings, the former Police Chief of Orland in response. "How long will you watch people being gunned down in first grade, fourth grade, high school, college, church, synagogue, a grocery store, a movie theater, a mall and a night club and do nothing?!”
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as the President releases more oil from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve; New Jersey sues Big Oil for decades of climate lies; and as the November 8 midterm elections are set to determine the course of climate action for decades to come...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Congressional historian, political scientist Norm Ornstein; Also: Leahy's Iraq War spy story...
By Brad Friedman on 10/19/2022 5:41pm PT  

We've spent quite a bit of time of late on The BradCast discussing what could happen if Democrats are able to hold their majority in the U.S. House this year and pick up two more seats in the Senate. Codifying privacy rights and reproductive freedoms into federal law; passage of the much-needed Freedom to Vote Act; expansion of the corrupted U.S. Supreme Court to un-corrupt it. That all become possible in such an event, just to cite a few of the most pressing issues. But what happens if they don't? [Audio link to today's full show follows this summary.]

We've noted that it remains an uphill battle for Democrats to hold their majorities in either chamber of Congress this year, much less expand one of them. So, what happens if Republicans win a majority in one or both?

In short, it would be very very bad for a host of reasons, including for democracy itself. But TPM's Kate Riga detailed just some of the political nightmares that are likely to occur, as Republicans have revealed in their own words. From endless Congressional investigations of nonsense (think "Benghazi on steroids") to pointless culture war legislation that would be vetoed by President Biden even if it somehow overcame a Senate filibuster, to impotent efforts to impeach the President and various members of his Cabinet...for something or other.

But, even without majorities in both chambers, Republicans can wreak extraordinary damage to both the U.S. and global economies simply by re-upping their 2011 "Tea Party" scheme to hold the nation (and world) hostage to any number of demands in exchange for raising the dumb debt ceiling next year. ("Dumb", because it's absurd that the U.S. even has such a statute requiring Congressional permission to borrow money to pay for stuff that has already been purchased with Congressional and Presidential authority. Also "dumb" because Republicans only use it as a dangerous bargaining chip when a Democrat is in the White House. Despite blowing up the deficit by trillions during the Trump Administration, the debt limit was raised three times by Congress with nary a peep.)

As Riga and others have reported this week, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the GOP's presumptive House Speaker if they take back a majority, has signaled that his party intends to hold cuts to Medicare and Social Security among hostages in exchange for agreeing to lift the debt ceiling. That, in the words of our guest today, would be "catastrophic" on several levels.

We're joined today by Congressional historian, political scientist and author NORM ORNSTEIN, who has been covering Congress for nearly 50 years via the conservative American Enterprise Institute, where he is a Senior Fellow Emeritus and now as contributing editor and columnist for The Atlantic.

Last week at The Atlantic, Ornstein warned that it's not just "democracy at stake this fall", as he asked "how far would a Republican majority go?" in undermining the U.S. economy in advance of the 2024 Presidential election. He recounts the first real use of the debt ceiling as a blunt political instrument to wreak havoc on U.S. policy and the economy along with it by the "Tea Party" back in 2011. While a last minute compromise at the time avoided a first-ever default of the U.S. government and the inability to pay its debts, the brinkmanship and hostage-taking cost the economy billions. Our credit rating was downgraded for the first time ever and the Dow plunged some 2,000 points.

But Ornstein is now more worried about what may happen next year if the GOP wins a House majority. As he explains today, "back in 2011, there were grownups in the room who kept it from getting out of control." Today, however "we're in a different world."

"In the past," he tells me, citing Donald Trump as an "accelerant" for GOP "dysfunction," "we still had what we could think of as a political party, even as it began to go downhill. But now it's a full-blown cult. The willingness of new members coming in, joining with a lot of radical members who will be returning to blow the whole thing up, the lack of interest in fundamental institutions or in the need to be responsible at governance is astonishing."

"I have never, in fifty-plus years of being immersed in the institution, seen a weaker or more pathetic leader than Kevin McCarthy," he says. "The idea that he would stop them from mayhem is, at this point, not believable."

"Other than that the fact that these are radicals dominating the party, they can't pass legislation on their own. They can't impeach and convict and remove from office the officials they would want to, including the President and the Attorney General and Sec. of Homeland Security, among many others."

But, as Ornstein adds, they will have "the power for the purse" with which they can cause extraordinary damage both here and around the world. He details both the chaos and what Democrats can do to try and preempt it during the Lame Duck period after the November midterms in the event that Republicans win back a majority in one or both chambers.

"The best thing to do is to do as every other country does and eliminate this ridiculous device [the debt ceiling]," but, since Dems can't do that on their own via reconciliation, they could invoke "the ironically named McConnell Rule" through reconciliation to stave off the threat of GOP debt ceiling brinkmanship that could result in a first-ever financial default by the nation. Tune in for an explanation of that ironically named rule and much more on all of this today.

Or, of course, Americans could simply reelect Democrats to majorities in both chambers and avoid the guaranteed nightmares that lie ahead with GOP control of either, now that they have wasted away into little more than a radical, extremist, "full-blown cult."

Finally, we close today with a fascinating spy story, of sorts, regarding retiring, eight-term Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and the U.S. intel agencies during the lead-up to the Iraq War (which he voted against), based on false evidence of WMDs hyped by the Bush/Cheney Administration...

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UT's Sen. Lee in dead heat; Biden Admin begins student loan forgiveness; Biden vows to codify 'Roe' if Dems hold House, increase Senate majority; Also: Trump/Barr's dumb Special Counsel Durham loses another case...
By Brad Friedman on 10/18/2022 6:20pm PT  

Democratic voters, it seems, are an easily spooked bunch. A few bad polls and some seem ready to all but throw in the towel on the November midterms. But now is not the time for that sort of thinking. As discussed on today's BradCast, there is simply too much at stake this year --- Constitutional freedoms, democracy itself, survival on Planet Earth, just to name a few --- to get sidetracked by despair. To paraphrase Obama, don't boo-hoo! Vote! (And make sure everyone else you know does the same!) [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

It was always gonna be an uphill fight this year. It still is. But it makes no sense to wallow. It does make sense to get to work. As President Biden correctly noted this afternoon, "Today we face an inflection point, one of those moments that only come around every several generations where there's so much change happening --- technologically, politically, and socially --- that the decisions we make now are going to determine the future of our nation and the future of your generation for the next 30 or more years."

With all of that in mind, these are among the stories covered on today's program...

  • Breaking just before airtime: Special Counsel John Durham --- tapped by Donald Trump and Bill Barr to investigate the investigators who investigated Russia's interference in the 2016 election --- is now 0 for 2 in Court. Igor Danchenko, said to have been a primary source for the so-called "Steel dossier", was charged in Durham's probe with five counts of lying to the FBI. He was acquitted today by a jury on all charges. He was the second to be indicted by Durham and then fully exonerated at trial. Even more humiliating for Durham: he personally handled most of the argument and questioning in court and reportedly ended up being rebuffed by his own witnesses who provided support for the defense. Worse, Danchenko, a Russian citizen living in the U.S., was reportedly "a treasured FBI informant" whose indictment "hurt U.S. national security."
  • Last week we detailed the five U.S. Senate seats that could plausibly be flipped this year from Republican to Democratic (in PA, OH, WI, NC and FL) and the two Democratic seats that could plausibly be won by Republicans (in NV and GA). At the end of yesterday's show, however, we added another to the Plausible Red to Blue list when the "gold standard" Des Moines Register poll over the weekend found Iowa's 89-year old, 7-term Republican Senator Chuck Grassley to be just three points ahead of his Democratic challenger Mike Franken. Today, there's yet another Republican Senate seat said to be in jeopardy --- in deep red Utah of all places! According to two different polls, independent candidate Evan McMullin is said to be in a dead heat with GOP Senator Presidential election theft enthusiast and not Trump "bootlicker" Mike Lee. On Monday, the two sparred in their only debate. It didn't go all that well for Lee.
  • On Monday, the Biden Administration opened its student loan forgiveness program at StudentAid.gov. The process has reportedly already served some 12 million applicants who may be forgiven for as much as $20,000 in debt. The process to apply reportedly takes no more than five minutes. All that is needed is a name, birthdate and social security number. The government will supposedly take care of the rest. At the same time, Republicans are suing to block Biden's program, created via Executive Order. But if they believe it's truly illegal, as Slate's Mark Joseph Stern observes today, they should introduce a bill to force those who received debt forgiveness to pay the money back. Do you think Republicans will do so?
  • On Tuesday, President Biden spoke at a DNC event and vowed to codify the Constitutional rights and freedoms previously guaranteed by Roe v. Wade into federal law as his first order of business in January, after our corrupt, stolen and packed Republican Supreme Court majority took privacy rights and reproductive freedoms away from Americans last June. We share Biden's remarks today. But, in order to enact those protections, as he points out, Dems will need to hold their House majority and pick up at least two more Democratic Senators willing to reform the undemocratic Senate filibuster rule in November. If that happens, not only can abortion and privacy rights be protected by federal law, but voting rights can be expanded and protected, and the corrupt Supreme Court itself can be expanded and un-corrupted. But, again, if that's what you'd like to see, you better to get to work between now and November 8!
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with news on how GOP rollbacks to climate policies made things worse for Florida; how the Pacific Northwest is facing record heat and wildfires in mid-October(!); how FL's Sen. Rick Scott wants the government to do less for disaster victims; and how a can of soup and a priceless Van Gogh have sparked debate over climate protest tactics...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Rare brief submitted to SCOTUS by top state judges underscores how American democracy is, itself, on the ballot this November...
UPDATE 10/14/22: 2nd GOP petition seeks to overturn OH Supreme Court redistricting ruling based in 'Independent State Legislature' Theory...
By Ernest A. Canning on 10/12/2022 11:05am PT  

A no-uncertain-terms brief [PDF] submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court by all 50 state Supreme Court Chief Justices eviscerated the so-called "Independent State Legislature" (ISL) theory being pushed by far-right legal activists.

Their rare decision to file an amicus curiae (friend of the court) SCOTUS brief reflects the unanimous recognition by all of the nation's State Chief Justices that the fringe ISL "legal" theory is so dangerous that, if it were to be embraced by a majority on our nation's highest federal court, it could hasten an end to our Constitutional democracy. And that is not hyperbole.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court, now dominated by six unelected "radicals in robes", granted review in Moore v. Harper, a case brought to SCOTUS by North Carolina's Republican-controlled State Legislature after their partisan gerrymandered Congressional redistricting plan was struck down by their state's Supreme Court on the grounds that it violated NC's Constitution.

Ironically, Tar Heel State Republicans owe their own control of the General Assembly to partisan gerrymandering. When Democratic Governor Roy Cooper was reelected in 2020, he defeated his Republican opponent 51.5% to 47% statewide, yet GOPers were able to retain control of 56% of NC Senate seats and 57.5% of the House thanks to extremely partisan state district maps.

In Moore the NC Republican petitioners to SCOTUS rely upon the same ISL theory advanced by disgraced former Chapman Univ. Law Professor John Eastman as part of Team Trump's effort to steal the 2020 Presidential election.

Their argument is that, absent a federal law to the contrary, a State legislature has a plenary right to engage in what NYU's Brennan Center for Justice describes as "deeply undemocratic" partisan gerrymandering of Congressional Districts. They contend that, when it comes to laws regarding federal elections, state legislatures may not be constrained by a state's constitution as interpreted by its state courts.

In their brief, the 50 State Chief Justices argue that the ISL, as advanced by NC Republicans, does violence to the meaning of the word "Legislature" as envisioned by the framers and as it appears in the U.S. Constitution's Elections Clause (Article 1, Section 4), which provides that the "Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations."

Embrace of the ISL theory by a SCOTUS majority in Moore could similarly result in approval of Eastman's radical theory that state legislatures enjoy a Constitutional right to override the will of state voters to choose electors in the next Presidential election. It all underscores President Joe Biden's recent assessment that, come November, "democracy will be on the ballot"...

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




Dem Senate candidates smack down GOP opponents in OH, WI debates; Also: SCOTUS undermines key election provision of Civil Rights Act; Is FBI underplaying threats to election security?...
By Brad Friedman on 10/11/2022 6:38pm PT  

As noted on today's BradCast, we generally cover the track conditions of our elections more than the actual horse races. We do so again today. But, as it turns out, Dems have put up some pretty good horses this year. We cover a couple of them today as well. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First, track conditions...

The corrupt, stolen and packed rightwing U.S. Supreme Court majority on Tuesday overturned an appeals court ruling which had found that both the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Pennsylvania law mandates that legitimately voted ballots may not be invalidated due to minor errors that are "immaterial" to determining voter qualification. In this case, the question was about absentee ballots where voters had forgotten to fill in the date on the ballot's outer envelope. The activists on SCOTUS, however, held today that such ballots may not be counted this November, despite the Civil Rights Act provision that previously ended the Jim Crow era's use of immaterial errors to invalidate perfectly legitimate votes.

Also, FBI officials say they have identified no credible threats to U.S. election systems this year, despite efforts by some foreign adversaries, including Russia, to sow doubt about fraud. But do these officials understand the actual threats now posed to our non-transparent, easily manipulated and error-prone computerized voting and tabulation systems? Do they appreciate the increased threat level thanks to recent breaches of election management systems by MAGA conspiracy theorists in several states following the former President's false claims of fraud?

While the Trump-appointed FBI Director Christopher Wray seems to falsely suggest there are similar domestic threats of violence from "both sides" following the 2020 election and the SCOTUS ruling on Roe v. Wade, the federal Elections Threat Task Force, launched last year by the Dept. of Justice, seems to finally be taking at least some action in response to the thousands of violent threats made by rightwingers against election officials and poll workers following the last Presidential election.

Next, horse races...

During a U.S. Senate debate in Ohio on Monday night, Democratic candidate Rep. Tim Ryan called out his Republican opponent, author J.D. Vance, for running a fake non-profit charity to support opioid addicts; defending January 6 insurrectionists; and for giving up his "dignity" to Trump who said about Vance at a recent rally in Youngstown: "All you do is kiss my ass to get my support," before Vance went on to pose for pictures with the disgraced former President. "Ohio needs an ass-kicker, not an ass-kisser," said Ryan in response.

In Wisconsin's U.S.. Senate race, Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes was similarly ass-kicking in his debate against incumbent Republican Sen. Ron Johnson. Barnes called out the Badger State GOPer for supporting the January 6 insurrection while claiming to support police, despite the serious injuries to more than 140 law enforcement officials that day. Barnes also made clear he would vote to codify the rights of Roe v. Wade into federal law, and made a very impressive showing against Johnson.

Both races are currently neck and neck, and are among at least five Senate races this year (along with Pennsylvania, North Carolina and even Florida) where Dems have real shots at flipping currently GOP-held seats from "red" to "blue". That, by way of contrast with Republicans who are looking at just two states (Nevada and Georgia), where they stand any real chance, generally speaking, of flipping a Senate seat from "blue" to "red" this year --- at least if you have any confidence in this year's pre-election polling.

Finally...

Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, underscoring, yet again, the stakes of this year's critical midterms following the devastation of Hurricane Ian in Florida; consequences of our worsening climate crisis around the world; and the Governor of California's new effort to hold Big Oil accountable for price gouging...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: 30-year Leon County, FL elections chief Ion Sancho; Also: 'Fun' with COVID shots; Enraged Putin unleashes new war crimes on Ukraine civilians; GOP election deniers on 2022 ballot from coast to coast...
By Brad Friedman on 10/10/2022 6:24pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It has been nearly two weeks since Hurricane Ian slammed the great state of Florida, leaving behind a swath of destruction across much of the state. Midterm elections, meanwhile, are now just 4 weeks away, but FL's chief elections official --- its Governor, Ron DeSantis --- has yet to approve a plan for how to carry them out amid the rubble. [Audio file to full program follows this summary.]

Last week, Tommy Doyle, Supervisor of Elections in Lee County, home to Fort Myers, the hardest hit part of the state, released a proposal to extend early voting at 12 sites, turning them into Voting Centers where anyone in the County can vote from October 24 through Election Day on November 8. That, in place of the County's normal 97 community precincts, many of which were blown entirely away by Hurricane Ian.

But, according to our guest today, DeSantis has yet to respond to Doyle's proposal, despite the fact that much of the country is already voting in the critical midterms, while many Florida residents do not even have a mailbox left to send vote-by-mail ballots to. Furthermore, as our guest today --- a legendary former Election Supervisor in FL's Leon County (which includes the state capital of Tallahassee) --- notes, allowing the expansion of early voting and use of Voting Centers is now illegal in the state, despite a similar plan to hold elections carried out just after Hurricane Michael in 2018.

The great ION SANCHO, who retired in 2016 after nearly 30 years as Leon County's elections chief, joins us today to detail the very serious --- I would say, critical --- mess the state is currently in when it comes to carrying out the upcoming midterms. DeSantis, a Republican, happens to be running for re-election this year against the Democratic nominee, former Governor Charlie Crist. There is also a very tight race between incumbent GOP Senator Marco Rubio and his Democratic challenger Rep. Val Demings.

Sancho notes that Hurricane Michael, which made landfall in a rural area of the state's panhandle, ended up decreasing turnout there by about 8% in 2018. But Ian hit one of the state's most densely populated areas. "It's a terrible situation," Sancho tells us, describing how "most of the precinct sites have been destroyed." Supervisor Doyle, he explains, has plans to run Voting Centers in Lee County "all the way through Election Day with expanded hours, which is illegal in Florida. You may not have early voting, for example, or a Vote Center open on Monday, or on Election Day."

Many of these problems come thanks to the state GOP's newly discovered hatred for absentee voting and other restrictions on voting passed after 2020 to make it more difficult to do so. Many of the suggestions for how to carry out the elections after Ian are the same as those carried out after an order signed by Gov. Rick Scott following Michael. But now, says Sancho, "we are all on pins and needles. Governor Scott issued his executive order giving the Supervisor of Elections expanded authority to deal with his voters eight days after the hurricane hit. We are now on Day 12 and Governor DeSantis has not told any Supervisor anything."

There are also political considerations likely in play for DeSantis. "He's in a pickle. He needs to provide expanded voting access, and that is made more critical by the fact that the areas that were hit were 2-to-1 Republican over Democrat," Sancho says. "The best that we can hope for is he gives the Supervisor of Elections the same kind of flexibility as Governor Scott gave the Supervisors in the Panhandle to deal with Michael. But [DeSantis] may be loathe to do that because it means he has to recant some of the things that he did this past legislative session."

It's not only Lee County where election plans have been rocked, Sancho explains. "I would count at least 9 counties. It caused a swath of destruction across the state. This is a huge number of voters." Nonetheless, early voting is supposedto begin in the Sunshine State in just two weeks. Whether that can happen remains anyone's guess at this hour. Tune in today for much more on this.

Also on today's show...

  • We got our latest COVID boosters on Friday (and Flu shots along with them, just to up the ante.) How did they go? Tune in to find out. Suffice to say, my experience was, once again, very different from Desi's. But, if you haven't gotten a COVID shot lately, now is not a moment too soon to protect yourself and everyone else from the likely autumn/winter surge.
  • An explosion on the only bridge between Russian-annexed Crimea and the Russian mainland collapsed a portion of it over the weekend, and Russia's main military supply line to its war of aggression against sovereign Ukraine in the south along with it. In response today, Russia's Vladimir Putin doubled down on his many war crimes to date by launching another massive missile strike against nearly a dozen densely populated civilian areas, include Kyiv, Ukraine's capital.
  • Finally, from the war between autocracy and democracy oversees, to the same (if, so far, less bloody) conflict here at home. If they are Republican and on the 2022 ballot, chances are they are a denier of Joe Biden's 2020 Presidential election victory and/or will vote against certification of the next Presidential election if a Democrat is established once again to be the legitimate winner. Many GOP candidates across the country have been shifting their public positions on Trump's evidence-free claims of a stolen 2020 election following the primaries, in hopes of trying to fool more mainstream general election voters. But, don't be fooled. Some, like Mark Finchem, Arizona's GOP nominee for Secretary of State nominee, even claims to be an opponent now of vote-by-mail. ("I don't care for mail-in voting. That's why I go to the polls," he lied at a recent debate, before a public records search revealed last week that he has voted by mail in every election since 2004, and only voted in person this year for the first time since then.)

    A Washington Post analysis last week found "A majority of Republican nominees on the ballot this November for the House, Senate and key statewide offices" are, in fact, election deniers and "running in every region of the country and in nearly every state. Republican voters in three states nominated election deniers in all federal and statewide races The Post examined." That includes critical roles --- such as Governors and Secretaries of State --- responsible for certifying the 2024 Presidential election. We share some of the evidence of those lying, dishonest candidates and their deceptively shifting position presented a threat to American democracy, on today's program...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest Host Nicole Sandler with authors Cory Doctorow, Rebecca Giblin...
By Nicole Sandler on 10/7/2022 4:04pm PT  

It's NICOLE SANDLER, filling in again for Brad and Desi on the BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Today's interview should be of great interest to all of the creators out there. Artists (both fine and musical), authors, and creators of goods that are sold to consumers all fight an uphill battle against a handful of giant corporations who call the shots, set the prices, and take advantage.

In their new book, Chokepoint Capitalism: How Big Tech and Big Content Captured Creative Labor Markets and How We'll Win Them Back, authors CORY DOCTOROW and REBECCA GIBLIN show how powerful corporations construct "anti-competitive flywheels" designed to lock in users and suppliers, make their markets hostile to new entrants, and then force workers and suppliers to accept unfairly low prices.

In the second half of the book, they explain how to navigate around the chokepoints, using tools ranging from transparency rights to collective action and ownership, radical interoperability, contract terminations, job guarantees, and minimum wages for creative work.

Focused on solutions, they're calling on workers from all sectors to unite to help smash these chokepoints and take back the power and profit that's being heisted away --- before it's too late.

There's also is a bit of news to report at the top of the show. The two big items both coming from President Joe Biden. On Thursday, he surprised everyone by announcing an Executive Action to pardon everyone convicted on federal simple marijuana possession charges, and called for the reclassification of marijuana as NOT a Schedule I narcotic. Pretty huge.

Then, at a fundraiser in NY on Thursday night, Biden, referencing Russia's assault on Ukraine, warned that "for the first time since the Cuban missile crisis, we have a direct threat of the use of a nuclear weapon if in fact things continue down the path they are going … we have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban missile crisis …. I don't think there's any such thing as the ability to easily use a tactical nuclear weapon and not end up with Armageddon."

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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