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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, February 20, 2024
'Green News Report' 2/20/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Record ocean heat decimating FL's coral reefs; Plastics industry's 50-year recycling scam; PLUS: Nearly half of world's migratory species in decline, U.N. study finds...
Previous GNRs: 2/15/24 - 2/13/24 - Archives...
After Navalny:
'BradCast' 2/19/24
Also: Massive election fraud alleged in Pakistan; Final death blow for GOP fraudsters' phony election fraud film, '2000 Mules'
Sunday 'Partying With Putin' Toons
Can someone let Tucker know that Vlad got another one? It's our latest collection of the week's best toons...
In Memoriam: Alexei Navalny (1976-2024)
So, remind me again how wonderful Vladimir Putin is...
Guns Again, Trump as Ever, Media Failure and the Way Forward: 'BradCast' 2/15/24
Also: Special Counsel probing Hunter Biden indicts informant who lied about 'bribes' to the Bidens from a Ukrainian energy company...
'Green News Report' 2/15/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Mysterious oil spill in Trinidad and Tobago; Big changes as Greenland gets greener; Wildfires reversing hard-won gains against air pollution; PLUS: Climate change comes for chocolate...
Previous GNRs: 2/13/24 - 2/8/24 - Archives...
New Chesebro Docs Detail Trump's Failed 2020 'Legal Coup': 'BradCast' 2/14/24
Guest: TPM's Josh Kovensky; Also: Another huge night for Dems in NY, PA; WI gets closer to fair maps; MI 'fake elector' says GOP lied...
Stewart Return to 'Daily Show' Not a Moment Too Soon!: 'BradCast' 2/13/24
Also: GOP takes mulligan on Mayorkas impeachment; Sen. passes Ukraine bill; Media's epic fail on Hur's obnoxious vindication of Biden in classified docs probe...
'Green News Report' 2/13/24
Culture shift from fossil fuels in Super Bowl EV ads; Big Oil/Gas spending big on Trump; PLUS: Climate scientist wins $1 million defamation suit against rightwing deniers...
Russia, If You're Listening, Trump Says 'Do Whatever the Hell You Want' to NATO Allies: 'BradCast' 2/12/24
Also: Last week's GOP Caucuses in NV, V.I.; Special Election in NY-3; Callers ring in...
Super Sunday 'Borderline Insanity' Toons
Just a few too many tokes over the line in our latest collection of the week's best toons...
Biden Should Federalize TX National Guard Amid State's Defiance of SCOTUS Order
POTUS must address, expose 'moral crisis' of GOP hypocrisy, cruelty, dehumanizing anti-immigrant propaganda...
'Green News Report' 2/8/24
EPA cracks down on deadly soot pollution; January was hottest ever recorded on Planet Earth; PLUS: Hurricanes are getting so intense, scientists propose a 'Category 6'...
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...


The Right's hilarious Anti-'Woke' Chronicles continue; Anti-abortion Trump judge making chumps of SCOTUS majority; FL now where freedom goes to die; GA grand juror says Trump revelations 'gonna be massive'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/16/2023 6:05pm PT  

Weird. It's almost as if Republicans say one thing but do the exact opposite or something. Especially when it comes to freedom, the First Amendment, personal responsibility, parental rights, Big Government regulations, activist judges legislating from the bench, and...well, tune in to today's BradCast for much more. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

Among the stories helping to highlight all of that today...

  • Wingnut children's book author Bethany Mandel made herself famous this week. Not in a good way...but in an hilarious way, as the GOP's silly and desperate Anti-"Woke" Chronicles continue.
  • In their ongoing Anti-Freedom Crusade, Republicans have now figured out how to gerrymander the federal judiciary. Following a four-hour hearing this week in a federal courtroom in Texas, Trump-appointed, far-right, anti-abortion activist U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk appears on the precipice of legislating from the bench to nullify the FDA by banning the abortion drug mifepristone. The medication was approved by the FDA for use more than 20 years ago and has proven to be incredibly safe and effective ever since. It is used in more than half of the abortions in the U.S. But, as Ernie Canning detailed last month, Kacsmaryk shouldn't even be hearing this unprecedented challenge. It should be tossed out entirely for numerous legal reasons that he helps explain, including lack of legal standing and statute of limitations. Nonetheless, the lawsuit filed by foes of reproductive rights comes after Sam Alito, Brett Kavanaugh and the rest of the corrupted rightwing SCOTUS majority told us just last year, when overturning Roe v. Wade, that they were doing so in order to "return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives." Kacsmaryk may be many things, including "arguably the worst judge in the United States." But he is definitely not an elected representative of the people.
  • In news of still more rightwing hypocrisy and lies this week, it turns out that Florida is not "where woke goes to die," as Gov. Ron DeSantis likes to sputter. Actually, it's where freedom, the First Amendment and parental rights, among other things, go to die. This week, the state's Dept. of Business and Professional Regulation filed to revoke the Hyatt Regency Miami's liquor license. Their crime? The venue featured the popular Drag Queen Christmas show last year, allowing entrance by those under 18 if they were accompanied by an adult to see the show featuring stars from RuPaul's Drag Race program on VH-1 and MTV. Parents in Florida now have Big Government to co-parent with them, apparently, thanks to the Presidential ambitions of their hypocritical book banning, First Amendment hating Governor.
  • CNN reports exclusively today that "At least two dozen people --- from Mar-a-Lago resort staff to members of Donald Trump’s inner circle at the Florida estate --- have been subpoenaed to testify to a federal grand jury that’s investigating the former president’s handling of classified documents." That, as part of Special Counsel's Jack Smith's federal probe.
  • The Atlanta Journal Constitution has a much more explosive exclusive today, however, as based on their interview of five members of the Special Grand Jury in Fulton County, Georgia who, after eight months investigating Trump's conspiracy to steal the 2020 election in the state, unanimously recommended criminal charges for more than a dozen people to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. There's a whole bunch of fascinating details in AJC's detailed report. But the biggest bombshell likely comes at the very end, when one of the jurors tells the paper: "A lot’s gonna come out sooner or later...And it’s gonna be massive. It's gonna be massive." 👀
  • Finally, Desi Doyen has our latest Green News Report, with some good news on "forever chemicals", some accountability for the Norfolk Southern rail company and, believe it or not, some very good news regarding renewable energy in Texas. What?! Yes, Texas!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Climate journalist, videographer Peter Sinclair; Also: Farmers rally for climate in D.C.; MI Democrats repeal GOP anti-union laws...
By Brad Friedman on 3/15/2023 4:23pm PT  

All of that clean, green, renewable energy needs to come from somewhere if we're gonna save humanity. Shamefully, many of those working to help produce it in rural America, including farmers and small town elected officials, have been paying an awful price for their heroic efforts, as detailed on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

First up today, a few quick news items. Speaking of farmers and the climate, last week saw hundreds of climate activists and farmers rally in D.C. in hopes of increased support for climate provisions in this year's federal farm bill. Congress is working toward passage of their latest, half-a-billion dollar, five-year spending bill for farmers and nutrition support. The Biden Administration, the USDA and Congressional Democrats have made climate and net-zero farming a top priority, as agriculture currently contributes almost 10% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Farmers are on the front lines of our quickly changing climate and hope to get more help. Republicans, on the other hand, want to cut funding from the bill despite the farmer's asking for more help thanks to our worsening climate crisis.

Also, some good news out of Michigan today, where the state Senate has followed the state House in passing a bill to repeal the state's so-called "Right-to-Work" (for less!) law, adopted when the GOP controlled the state legislature in 2012. Pending final approval in the House, the measure, seen as a major victory for organized labor, will then be signed by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. All of that made possible by passage of a statewide ballot initiative that ended gerrymandering in Michigan, resulting in a legislative trifecta for Democrats as of last November, giving them control of both chambers of the state legislature and the Governor's mansion. And all of that is resulting in good news for the working class!

Then, speaking of farmers, the climate and Michigan, we're joined by PETER SINCLAIR, a longtime climate videographer, journalist, climate-denial debunker and Michigan native who has been documenting a disturbing --- and disturbingly under-reported --- attack on farmers and elected officials in rural communities in the American heartland.

Through a series of short videos based on interviews with folks in a number of small townships in rural Montcalm County, MI, (see here, here, and here, for example), Sinclair has been telling the story of a broad and well-coordinated misinformation and disinformation campaign, resulting in attacks, threats and boycotts against those who are daring to consider support for wind and solar projects on their own farmlands and in their small towns.

Sinclair, an award-winning climate communicator and producer of Yale Climate Connections' This is Not Cool series, and creator of his long-running Climate Denial Crock of the Week, details the chilling threats and harassment being faced by folks in these communities from clearly coordinated anti-renewable energy campaigns which have polluted local residents with a bombardment of lies about climate change and clean energy.

Today, we share a number of clips from his video series, as farmers and current and former public officials explain the harassment they have been facing; the tools used by the harassers (such as Facebook); how these campaigns mirror other, better-reported ones coming from the right in recent years, such as those town-hall meetings with angry opponents of "ObamaCare" more than a decade ago and similar scenes at school board hearings over COVID requirements, etc.

"This campaign is so well-oiled that it is kind of self-replicating," Sinclair explains. "People hear there's going to be a solar or wind project nearby, they've been primed by twenty, thirty years of Fox News, talk radio to be suspicious. They go on to social media [and] they find literally thousands of references to misinformation and disinformation that's being constantly circulated and recirculated out there. Then they replicate this template. It typically starts by forming a Facebook group, making it private, not allowing any dissension, and herding a whole lot of people into it and continually bombarding them with a stream of negative misinformation. Pretty soon you've got people that are terrified, angry, and aggrieved, and then it's just a matter of pointing them in the direction of the nearest local planning commission or township board."

He tells me: "We have evolved a generation of people who are attuned to this culture war mindset. Some of the earliest anti-wind energy memes that really stood out had a picture of wind turbines and it said, 'The production tax credit, Obamacare's worst tax.' This was ten, twelve years ago, but you're supposed to make a connection between Obamacare, which you're supposed to hate, and wind turbines, which then, I guess you're supposed to make a connection that it has something to do with Obama. Of course there's no connection whatsoever!," laughs Sinclair, "but that connection is continually made."

We also discuss the dirty fingerprints of the fossil fuel industry on these sleazy campaigns (though they are often obscured by "a lot of dark, untraceable money floating around for this kind of activity"); one of the men who seems to be "the big cheese" organizer behind many of them (a guy by the name of Kevon Martis from a climate denier outfit known as the Energy and Environment Legal Institute is cited over and over as a cult-like figure by many of the harassed locals in different townships); and what the public can do to help push back against this corrupt and dangerous madness.

"Mr. Martis follows me closely on social media," Sinclair quipped. "One of my favorite tweets is, 'Peter Sinclair doesn't just want to take your energy, he wants to take your guns!'"

Ridiculous attacks aside, all of this is going on in hundreds of counties in dozens of states across America's farm belt and, frankly, deserves much more light and attention than it has been receiving from both state and national media, as well as state and national politicians. We try to offer some of that long-overdue public attention today in our conversation with Sinclair...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: McConnell checks into rehab; DeSantis flip-flops on Ukraine; NM expands right to vote...
By Brad Friedman on 3/14/2023 5:30pm PT  

On today's BradCast: If lying to Americans about crime failed to result in a "red wave" for Republicans in 2022, perhaps lying to them about "woke" banks will do the trick in 2024! I'm sure it'll work. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the many stories and important context offered on today's program...

  • Moody's considers downgrading the U.S. banking sector in the wake of several bank failures in recent days, even while declaring that the industry's outlook remains strong.
  • Inflation has eased slightly over the past month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wall Street rejoices.
  • Elizabeth Warren, as usual, was right when she warned in 2018 that rolling back the Dodd-Frank Act (enacted to prevent bank failures after the 2008 banking crisis) to loosen regulations and oversight of banks like Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank would end in disaster. As she noted at the time, before Donald Trump signed the bill to loosen restrictions on financial institutions: "Washington is about to make it easier for the banks to run up risk, make it easier to put our constituents at risk, make it easier to put American families in danger, just so the C.E.O.s of these banks can get a new corporate jet and add another floor to their new corporate headquarters." As usual, we should have heeded her warning.
  • Today we explain exactly happened that resulted in the failure and subsequent federal takeover of SVB and Signature by the FDIC, in case it hasn't yet been made clear. And, while the unnecessary failures stem directly from loosening government oversight and restrictions on banks to gamble with depositer funds, as allowed by Congress and Trump in 2018, what didn't cause it, is "wokeness." That's the explanation from Fox "News" over the past few days for what happened.
  • The cause of the bank failures was also not ESG (Environmental Social Governance) or DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, as Fox itself boasts about on its own company's website) or CRT or LGBTQ or anything else that Fox and Ron DeSantis are lying about to Americans about.
  • But what does appear to be true, when it comes to the latest Fox/DeSantis boogeyman of "woke", is that Americans have no problem with being "informed, educated on, and aware of social injustice," the definition of "woke" according to most Americans in a new USA Today/Ipsos poll. The same survey also finds Americans overwhelmingly (75% to 21%) in opposition of book banning by state's such as DeSantis' Florida.
  • 81-year old Republican minority Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has now been released from the hospital after suffering a concussion from a fall last week. But he has checked into inpatient rehab for some reason. We truly hope he will be okay, if only because he may now be the only thing still holding together Congressional GOP support for Ukraine in its war against imperialistic invading Russia.
  • As we learned on Monday night via Tucker Carlson on Fox, DeSantis is now against supporting Ukraine in what he now describes as a "territorial dispute" with Russia, the authoritarian-led nation that has invaded it. As it turns out, DeSantis, while a member of Congress, was strongly in favor of the U.S. supporting Ukraine with lethal aide against Putin. That was before he became a contender for the 2024 GOP Presidential nomination and decided to be against it. The survival of democracy in Europe is, apparently, no longer important for either of the GOP's two 2024 front-runners. Donald Trump has said his "peace plan" is to allow Russia to "take over" parts of Ukraine.
  • But some good news for democracy out of New Mexico, where the state legislature finally passed a voting rights bill on Monday that will expand the franchise to all residents who are now out of prison; strengthen access to the ballot for Native Americans; make Election Day a state holiday; and significantly strengthen the state's automatic voter registration program.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report. Among our stories: The Biden Administration's approval of controversial new oil drilling projects in Alaska, even while banning future such operations in Alaska and the Arctic Sea at the same time; Mack Truck introduces another electrified model; and Tropical Storm Freddy smashes all-time records in the Indian Ocean...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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MN restores voting rights for former felons; First black female House speaker seated in PA; First guilty verdict for Peters in CO; Also: Biden refunding billions to students ripped off by for-profit schools...
By Brad Friedman on 3/7/2023 6:31pm PT  

It's another one of those elections-have-consequences episodes of The BradCast. Happily, most of those consequences are good ones today! [Audio link to full story follows this summary.]

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

  • After flipping a stunning 12 seats in the Pennsylvania statehouse in last year's midterms, Democrats in the chamber now have a majority for the first time in more than a decade and have finally seated Joanna McClinton as the state's first African-American female House Speaker. The months-long roller coaster ride toward between last year's elections and McClinton becoming Speaker includes the unexpected death of a lawmaker and three special elections since last November, the surprise election of a different Speaker earlier this year, and the thinnest possible one-seat margin for Democrats in the House. We 'splain the full crazy story.
  • In Colorado, former Mesa County Clerk and aggressively gullible election fraud conspiracist, Tina Peters, has been found guilty of obstruction, after she refused a lawful warrant to turn over an iPad containing courtroom videos a judge instructed her not to take. While she could face several months in jail on that conviction, there is likely much more trouble ahead for the disgraced Republican and last year's failed GOP Sec. of State candidate. Peters faces a separate trial later this year on seven criminal felonies and three misdemeanors related to sneaking into her county's secured voting system room in the middle of the night while still serving as County Clerk, turning off the security cameras and making illicit copies of sensitive Election Management System software with two accomplices following the 2020 Presidential election. That proprietary software was subsequently leaked to the public while she was on stage at an election denier's conference in 2021. As all of this plays out, Peters --- who has become somewhat of a hero to some equally duped knuckleheads on the Right --- is hoping to become the next Chair of the Colorado Republican Party.
  • As discussed on one of our programs last week, we are now waiting to hear whether the corrupted, stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court will allow President Biden's lawful program to forgive up to $20,000 to federal student loan borrowers making less than $125,000 in annual income. In the meantime, receiving much less news coverage is the Administration's program to refund billions to students ripped off by for-profit schools which lied about their credentials, hoaxed students into enrolling and/or who have gone out of business in recent years. The program, begun during the Obama Administration, was largely put on ice by Donald Trump's Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Following a court settlement last year against DeVos, the program has now begun refunding students, many of whom owe hundreds of thousands of dollars for their scam diplomas.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our 1,300th Green News Report! Including long overdue good news for the world's oceans; good news for solar energy in France; another train derailment in Ohio, and a legal threat to Minnesota's new law mandating 100% clean electricity by 2040...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Dr. Nelson Lichtenstein, UCSB labor historian; Also: Landmark U.N. deal to protect world oceans; Fighting (again) for permanent DST...
By Brad Friedman on 3/6/2023 6:12pm PT  

As discussed on today's BradCast, support for labor unions in the U.S. is now near all-time highs. At the same time, the lawlessness by major companies willingly and repeatedly violating labor law is through the roof. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Last week, by way of just one example, a federal Administrative law judge found Starbucks had committed "egregious" violations of labor law in just one case that combined unfair labor practices charges at 21 union stores in the Buffalo, New York area alone. In fact, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has brought some 75 complaints against the coffee company accusing them of more than 1,000 illegal actions over just the past year or two.

Despite a newly aggressive, pro-labor, pro-union NLRB under President Biden and an explosion of unionization efforts over the past two years at hundreds of shops and facilities owned by firms like Starbucks, Amazon, Apple, REI and Chipotle, those companies have spent tens of millions on attorneys specializing in breaking unions, according to our guest today.

DR. NELSON LICHTENSTEIN, author and longtime professor of labor history at Univ. of California, Santa Barbara, joins us today to discuss both the successes and obstacles faced by the new union movement rising in the U.S. since he was here in 2021. While the companies mentioned have long attempted to project a friendly, progressive image to the public, they have been very aggressive in attempting, frequently unlawfully, to block unionization of stores and facilities around the country. Firing workers who support unions; shutting down shops where union votes have been requested and/or have succeeded; and, where union votes have succeeded, companies have simply refused to negotiate union contracts. That "is par for the course," Lichtenstein argues.

He cites "almost fifty years of specialized anti-labor law firms" now being employed by those companies. "And it works! Why change it?," he quips. "Despite the public relations hit that it has had for Starbucks and the other companies, the managers had their meetings, they've run the numbers, they've decided they'll take a small reduction in their growth and it's worth it."

"The tremendous push-back is really a tribute to the importance of unionism," says Lichtenstein. "The official line of these companies is '[unionization is] not going to change anything!'...While they are moving heaven and earth to stop the union."

Lichtenstein describes "the most aggressively pro-labor" NLRB in decades, noting "they don't have much money and they're putting together real indictments of these companies. The problem is that the NLRB doesn't really have any disciplinary tools at its command. The penalties for breaking the law are really minuscule." And, with those small penalties, these anti-union companies have simply decided that repeatedly and "egregiously" violating the law is merely the cost of doing business.

Republicans in the last Congress blocked passage of the federal Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act which would make many of these violations much more painful for company management. But, Lichtenstein explains, there are already laws on the books --- both anti-trust and RICO statutes --- that could be used by the federal government to bring anti-union companies to heal by making them feel real pain for violating the law.

We discuss all of that and much more today, including what Lichtenstein attributes to the recent rise in support for unions and unionization, and whether he is optimistic or pessimistic about the current state of labor and the new unionization movement.

Also today
, Desi Doyen joins us to explain some very big news from over the weekend on protecting the planet's oceans, after the U.N. sealed a landmark deal in overtime on Saturday, following a nearly 20-year effort for the framework of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. The breakthrough agreement, as she details, will help protect about 50% of the world's "high seas" which are currently outside national boundary waters or otherwise protected only by a patchwork of regional agreements.

And finally, with the clocks mercifully changing once again to Daylight Saving Time this coming weekend, it's time for our annual call to make it permanent. Once again this year, we are backed by a bipartisan effort in both the House and Senate to do just that...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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

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Also: AZ Guv files bar complaint against former A.G. for 2020 fraud lies...
By Brad Friedman on 3/2/2023 6:31pm PT  

There's a reason we don't spend much time discussing the Right's phony "culture war" BS on The BradCast. Today, we talk about why. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

We go into much more detail on the program, but perhaps the biggest reason is likely that most of these so-called "culture wars" aren't any such thing. But talking about it, helps to make them appear to be such a thing. Whether it's outrage over BLM or CRT or, more lately, ESG, the GOP and FNC and all of their various corporate sponsors (mostly from the oil and gas industry), prefer spending time on ginned-up, phony nonsense to keep their readers, listeners and viewers angry, so they don't notice how the Republican Party has absolutely nothing but pain and thievery to offer them.

When the non-wingnut corporate media and Democrats jump in to respond to those ginned-up issues, sadly, the Right has succeeded in creating yet another "partisan" "culture war" out of whole cloth, in which they are able to claim there is a pitched partisan battle between "both sides". They've been mastering this scam for years, and the media and Dems have been falling for it for years as well.

One might think, for example, that the nation is bitterly divided in the "culture war" over abortion rights, one of the GOP's decades-old stand-bys. In fact, it's not much of a partisan or left/right or Republican/Democratic issue at all. The vast majority of Americans, across party lines, support reproductive freedom. And a recently released detailed survey from PRRI (of about 23,000 people in all 50 states!), demonstrates that there is not one single state in the union where a majority of the population supports the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Not one. Not even in the Deep South.

But maybe if you're furious enough about "ESG" you won't notice the Constitutional freedoms the GOP has just stolen from all of us. What's ESG? Well, the folks who watch Fox "News" almost certainly know what it is. It stands for "Environmental Social Governance." And, while the corporate concept has been around for about 20 years, Republicans, with the encouragement (and lots of money) from the fossil fuel industry, have only recently decided to become furious about it. Yup, they're hoping --- and the media are helping --- to turn it into yet another pretend "culture war".

Republican Presidential hopefuls like Florida's Ron DeSantis, Texas' Greg Abbott and former Vice President Mike Pence are all over those "woke" corporations who consider things like the health of the environment when making investments and other business decisions. As discussed today in some detail, Republicans have now decided that sort of thing must stop immediately! Failing to invest as much money as possible, including public funds, in the fossil fuel industry that is helping to wipe out humanity, will almost certainly result in grandma's retirement fund going bankrupt! Or something. And it now appears we're all gonna be dumb enough (again) to help these fake Fox "News" and fossil fuel industry outrages become a real thing.

Just this once --- hopefully, today only --- we're gonna talk about it so you understand exactly what's going on and how you're getting played...so hopefully we'll all stop falling for these scams over and over again.

Also today, a follow-up to a story we covered last week, when Kris Mayes, the new Democratic Attorney General of Arizona, released documents from her office that the previous Attorney General, Republican Mark Brnovich, appears to have forgotten to release before leaving office in January.

Among other things, the documentation reveals that Brnovich's office spent some 10,000 taxpayer-funded hours in 2021 investigating phony claims of election fraud in the state's 2020 Presidential election, assigning everyone in the office to the matter at one point. And though the probe was completed by March 2022, Brnovich never bothered to release the findings, that there was no evidence the election was stolen from Trump in Arizona, to the public. Instead of letting his state and the nation know, during his failed run for the state GOP nomination for U.S. Senate last year, Brnovich lied about the investigation. He told state lawmakers and the public that his office had found "serious vulnerabilities", even while he was ignoring his own staff's recommendations to come clean about the facts.

We covered those disturbing revelations from Mayes last week. And now, the state's new Democratic Governor, former Sec. of State Katie Hobbs, has filed a complaint against Brnovich with the state bar association. Hopefully, that complaint will result in sanctions or even disbarment for the state's corrupt, former top attorney, who was already under sanctions from the state bar association, as it turns out, when he misled the public last year about all of this.

Finally, it's Desi Doyen with our latest woke, ESG, Green News Report! Today, we focus on continuing drought conditions in California, despite the recent series of major storms and continuing, bizarre, climate change-fueled weather across much of the nation; Also, we cover the railroad industry's opposition to new regulations following outrage (phony or otherwise) over the recent toxic train derailment in Ohio...

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Guest: American Prospect's David Dayen on that, CFPB, drug pricing, new Labor Dept. chief; Also: Mayor Lightfoot loses Chicago re-election effort...
By Brad Friedman on 3/1/2023 5:32pm PT  

We've just about arrived at the point where the corrupt, stolen and packed rightwing U.S. Supreme Court almost isn't even trying to hide their corruption anymore. And, yes, as discussed today on The BradCast, that includes the Chief Justice. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, Lori Lightfoot, the first black female and openly gay Mayor of Chicago was reportedly knocked out of contention in her reelection bid on Tuesday. It is the first time in 40 years that an incumbent Mayor was unseated. (The last one was the city's first female Mayor.) Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson will go on to compete in the run-off set for April 4. Vallas is a "tough on crime" candidate vowing to add hundreds of police to the streets of the nation's third-largest city. He is supported by the police union, the Fraternal Order of Police, whose leader defended January 6 insurrectionists and equated Lightfoot's vaccine mandate for city workers to the Holocaust. Johnson, an African-American supported by the teachers union and progressive organizations, has called for more money to be spent not on police, but for mental health care, education, jobs and affordable housing.

Next, we're joined by DAVID DAYEN, progressive financial journalist, author and Executive Editor of The American Prospect to discuss Tuesday's oral arguments at SCOTUS on two different challenges --- both largely absurd --- to President Biden's student loan forgiveness program. But for being blocked by Republican-appointed lower court federal judges, the plan would forgive up to $20,000 for federal student loan borrowers making less than $125,000/year under the authority of the HEROES Act. The 2003 law, adopted by Congress and signed by the President in the wake of 9/11, grants authority to the Education Secretary to "waive or modify any statutory or regulatory provision" regarding student loan programs in the event of a national emergency.

Despite the legal authority granted by the clear language of the text, Republican lower court judges have blocked the program to date, and the corrupt rightwing Justices at SCOTUS seemed to be working hard to do the same during the 3-and-a-half hour hearing at the high court on Tuesday, according to Dayen. The Biden Administration, as he explains, has invoked the very same legal authority from the HEROES Act to "waive" student loan payments as the Trump Administration used to pause them during the pandemic. Of course, neither Trump's authority to do so, nor its authority to issue hundreds of billions of dollars in forgivable PPP loans to small businesses during the crisis, was challenged in court --- or saw its "fairness" questioned --- by Republican litigants. Low income student loan borrowers, however, are apparently a different matter.

There are two different sets of GOP plaintiffs challenging Biden's plan. One (Biden v. Nebraska) is a group of six Republican-controlled states (Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Arkansas, Kansas and South Carolina) and the other (Dept. of Education v. Brown) is two individuals who failed to qualify for student loan forgiveness. It seems that neither group of plaintiffs should have legal standing to sue at all in these cases, as neither seems to be able to demonstrate any real harm or injury. If these cases are to be tossed, it will likely be on those grounds. But, the Court's rightwingers sure did seem to want to block this program during Tuesday's hearing, citing the absurd and wholly-made-up, found-nowhere-in-the-Constitution "Major Questions Doctrine" as just one way to do so.

Dayen details the entire fiasco for us today. The Court will issue its opinion no later than June or July as hundreds of billions in financial relief for those need it most hangs in the balance.

Also discussed with Dayen today: The high court has decided to hear a case on whether the funding mechanism for the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) --- the brainchild of Elizabeth Warren during the Obama Administration following the 2008 financial crisis as the only federal watchdog agency focused mainly on consumers --- is unconstitutional. "If you believe it is," quips Dayen, "then you believe that not only numerous other agencies in the federal government have unconstitutional funding structures, but things like Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional." A similar funding mechanism has been used for decades, without challenge, by the FDIC, the FDA, the Federal Reserve and many others.

Dayen describes the ruling that the CFPB's entire funding mechanism is unconstitutional as coming from the "deeply radical" 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He seems to be hoping that SCOTUS has decided to hear this case next term (which begins in October) in order to reverse or, at least clarify, the lower court's ruling. We'll see if he's right about that.

Finally, we discuss drug-maker Eli Lilly's announcement today that the company plans to lower the cost for insulin, after President Biden and the Democrats' Inflation Reduction Act, adopted last year, capped expenses for the drug at $35/month for federally insured patients, such as those on Medicare. Also, we discuss today's announcement of the nomination of Julie Su as Biden's new Labor Secretary to replace the departing Marty Walsh. As Dayen reports, the clever appointment of Su, a California progressive, will place her in charge of the Department whether her nomination is blocked in the Senate or not...

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Explaining the bumpy and uncertain legal path toward protecting --- or ending --- a critical reproductive freedom in all 50 states
UPDATED 4/8/23: Conflicting preliminary injunctions issued by federal courts in WA & TX; 4/11/23 FDA seeks emergency appellate stay of TX case ruling...
By Ernest A. Canning on 2/20/2023 9:35am PT  

The nationwide right to terminate a pregnancy with medication is now at stake in three pending federal lawsuits. One, in Texas, has been filed by abortion opponents. Another has been filed in West Virginia by a manufacturer of one of the drugs used to terminate a pregnancy, after state lawmakers have attempted to ban its use in the state. The third is a complaint from a physician in North Carolina where her ability to prescribe the drug may now be in peril.

The outcome of these three cases may ultimately succeed in protecting nationwide access to abortion rights even in states where Republican lawmakers have attempted to ban all such freedoms.

That said, while unlikely, it's also possible that one of these three cases could result in the elimination of the right to medical abortion in all 50 states...

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Also: Jeffries blocks GOP attempt to kill Office of Congressional Ethics; PA special elections give Dems full control of state House; New Dem trifecta in MN protects abortion rights, mandates 100% clean power...
By Brad Friedman on 2/9/2023 6:05pm PT  

The long-awaited GOP-led House hearings are now getting under way in full. And, as we've previously predicted, they ain't going well...for the Republicans. Also on today's BradCast, a few critical (and good news) updates to several stories we've covered in the recent past, as well as some encouraging breaking news on the worsening woes of our failed former President. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

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

  • A few weeks back, longtime Congressional ethics expert Craig Holman of Public Citizen joined us to explain the House GOP's attempt, buried in their new rules package adopted at the beginning of the new session last month, to kill the independent Office of Congressional Ethics. That is the very effective body that runs real investigations into Congressional members' crimes and ethics lapses, by way of contrast with the House Ethics Committee which, as Holman told us at the time, is "literally designed to sweep ethics matters under the rug." The new House rules were cleverly crafted by Republicans to cripple the OCE --- along with any real probes of folks like George Santos or Kevin McCarthy and the several other GOP members who defied Congressional subpoenas last year. But, at the last second this week, House Dem Leader Hakeem Jeffries appears to have saved the day --- and the OCE --- with some very quick work to thwart the GOP scheme to kill this critical agency.
  • In another good news update today to yet another story we've been covering in recent weeks, the long and confusing battle over majority control of the Pennsylvania state House is now all but settled with the election of all three Democrats in three different Special Elections held on Tuesday to fill three vacancies in the chamber. That means that Dems will now have full control of the House in the Keystone State for the first time in over a decade. Critically, they will now be able to thwart the effort by the previously GOP-controlled legislature's plan to adopt a state Constitutional amendment that would declare there is no right to an abortion in the state.
  • And, in still more good news on reproductive freedoms and the importance of elections, last November, Democrats won a trifecta in the great state of Minnesota, as they gained majority control of both chambers in the state legislature and control of the Governor's mansion. They have now begun to move a huge number of long-overdue progressive priorities forward. Last week, they adopted a statute to protect reproductive freedoms in the state --- the first state to do so after last summer's SCOTUS reversal of Roe v. Wade --- and, this week, Gov. Tim Walz signed a measure that mandate MN's move to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040! (And there is much more to come. Elections matter!)
  • Next, it's on to the ridiculous hearing held on Wednesday in the newly GOP-controlled Oversight Committee in the U.S. House. The long-awaited hearing, featuring a panel of witnesses who formerly worked at Twitter, was meant to examine alleged federal government censorship on the social media site. Specifically, a two-day pause on the broad sharing of a questionable New York Post article in early October 2020 on a laptop purportedly abandoned by Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden. The hearing did not go well for the Republicans. As it turns out (and as we've told you previously), there is no actual evidence of the FBI or any other government agency, censoring the laptop story --- or any other --- at the social media network, even though Republicans are now pretending that the FBI (Trump's FBI, by the way!) somehow used Twitter to rig the 2020 election for Biden. If all of that sounds ridiculous, it's because it is. We share several clips today from the hearing, which failed to reveal evidence that Biden or the Democrats or the FBI or the "deep state" violated the First Amendment in somehow censoring --- or trying to censor --- Twitter. But, you know who did? Yup, Donald Trump and his White House, as revealed by Democrats and the former Twitter employees who testified at Wednesday's sort of hilariously failed hearing.
  • Also today, Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report with details on environmental elements of Biden's Tuesday State of the Union address; new evidence of more lies and war profiteering by BP; a foiled neo-Nazi attack on the power grid in Baltimore; and more on that great news about the clean energy mandate (as noted above) out of MN.
  • Finally, some breaking news as today's show wraps up: former Vice President Mike Pence has reportedly been subpoenaed by Jack Smith's federal Special Counsel probe of Donald Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election. That, according to ABC News, which broke the story first, suggests "a major escalation of Smith's probe"...

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Special Coverage of the President's ingenious, off-the-cuff GOP Rope-a-Dope and much more with guests Heather Digby Parton of Salon and Hullabaloo, and 'Driftglass' of the 'Pro Left Podcast'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/8/2023 4:52pm PT  

For the first time in a long time on today's BradCast, we're happy to feature a Special Coverage episode of something that isn't actually horrible. In fact, it's something that turned out to be an unexpected amount of fun to watch and cover, while including what was, as I described it on today's show, "the greatest Rope-a-Dope Moment in the all-time history of State of the Union addresses." [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

We've got full post-speech team coverage today of Joe Biden's second SOTU as President (actually his third address to a joint session of Congress), and it was a humdinger! Both the speech and today's coverage. In fact, as our panel appeared to agreed today, it was likely the most enjoyable SOTU any of us had ever witnessed!

We're joined today by the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON, award-winning columnist at Salon and founder of Digby's Hullabaloo blog (which just celebrated it's 20th anniversary!) and "DRIFTGLASS", otherwise known as @Mr_Electrico on Twitter and as simply Bill at home, where he produces The Professional Left Podcast each week with his wife Fran/"BlueGal". Like Digby and me, he too is a longtime, old-school progressive blogger!

Biden's lively remarks on Tuesday --- and his surprisingly brilliant off-the-cuff responses to jeers and obnoxiously inaccurate heckles from members of the new Republican House majority --- cannot be described as delivered by "Sleepy Joe". The 73-minute speech actually flew by, surprisingly enough.

During the address, he, justifiably, sang his Administration's praises for what has amounted to one of the most successful first two years of any Presidency going back to at least FDR. (That, as we discuss, is particularly surprising given the narrowest of majorities he had to work with for the past two years in Congress. And is true, whether or not you liked his many accomplishments, had hoped for still more, or preferred entirely different policies.)

Snap polling following Tuesday's SOTU revealed a whopping 72% of Americans who watched it reacted positively, with some of the most favorable reactions coming from those who, prior to the speech, disapproved of Biden or felt his policies would not move the country in the right direction. So will his remarks on Tuesday make any difference in his approval ratings moving forward?

We cover a lot of ground on today's Special Coverage episode, including thoughts on Biden's brilliant Rope-a-Dope / Jedi Mind Trick that resulted in Republicans yelling and screaming to insist they are absolutely not hoping to gut or cut or even sunset Social Security and Medicare(!); other details from the surprisingly populist and progressive speech; insight on why Biden's approval ratings have been so low over the past year (and who is to blame for that); analysis of the bizarre movement by some in the supposed "Anti-war Left" to oppose support for the fight for democracy in sovereign Ukraine and against the authoritarian invasion by its imperialist neighboring Russia; and of the weird, creepy, dark, up is down/down is up GOP response to Biden's SOTU by Donald Trump's former Press Secretary and "prolific liar" turned new Governor of Arkansas, Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Lots of insight --- and hilarity! --- ensues during today's 'BradCast' Special Coverage! Enjoy!...

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Guest: Former Leon County election chief, Ion Sancho; Also: FL revokes Orlando Philharmonic venue liquor license for 'Drag Queen Xmas' show...
By Brad Friedman on 2/7/2023 5:24pm PT  

We're old enough at The BradCast to remember when Republicans used to at least pretend to believe in things like "personal freedoms." But, now that Florida's Gov. Ron DeSantis is preparing a run for President in 2024, things are getting mighty early 20th-century German-y these days down in the Sunshine State. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

The recently re-elected Governor is on a roll. Most notably, over the past year or so, he has adopted a "Don't Say Gay" law, threatening school teachers with dismissal for referencing LGBTQ issues in public schools, and, more recently, his "Stop W.O.K.E. Act" to prevent discussion of race issues and other things that the all-mighty State decides may make the parents of a white, straight child uncomfortable. Also known (ironically enough) as the "Individual Freedom Act," a federal judge recently cited George Orwell's 1984 in describing the law as "positively dystopian" as it has resulted in the state-ordered banning of library books.

But DeSantis isn't cowed by courts of law or even public opprobrium. Last Friday, his State Department of Business and Professional Regulation (apparently, Republicans now love state regulations too?) filed a 27-page complaint against The Orlando Philharmonic Plaza Foundation, seeking to revoke their liquor license. Why? Well, last December, for the eighth year in a row, they featured a performance of the popular Drag Queen Christmas national tour and "violated Florida statutes" by allowing parents to bring their children, according to the state's complaint. (So much for "parental choice," which GOPers also used to pretend to believe in.)

Perhaps all of that wouldn't be so bad, if Floridians knew they could hold elected officials accountable at the ballot box. Sadly --- and predictably --- the Governor and his henchmen in the state legislator in Tallahassee are working to make that more difficult as well. Last year, DeSantis signed Senate Bill 524. In addition to giving him a personal special "elections crimes" police force (which he immediately abused by ordering the round-up of former felons at gunpoint and on camera for "voter fraud" even though most had been told by the state they were allowed to vote in 2020), the measure also mimics a law recently adopted by Texas that resulted in a huge percentage of vote-by-mail ballots being rejected in 2022.

The new provision mandates that vote-by-mail voters include a drivers license or social security number on their absentee envelope when casting their vote. However, there's no easy way for voters to know which one of those two numbers will match the number on their registration record and ballots will be rejected without a perfect match. The Texas version of the same law --- being pushed as "model legislation" by the far-right Heritage Foundation in several GOP-controlled states --- resulted in preliminary ballot rejection rates as high as 38% in several counties during last year's primaries.

Now, the bipartisan Florida Supervisors of Elections Association, comprised of elected county elections chiefs, are pushing back against the new law. They argue unanimously in a new report [PDF] that it will result in disenfranchised voters, as well as increased costs to counties and security issues for elections.

We're joined today by ION SANCHO, Florida's legendary, former Leon County Supervisor of Elections who served in the elected position for nearly 30 years before resigning in 2016. He explains the many concerns about the new measure and why it is that election officials around the state are so unanimously troubled by it.

"Even though a majority of the Supervisors of Elections are Republicans, they cannot stomach what they see the Florida legislature doing, because it's real simple --- it's not fair," Sancho tells me. "Every Supervisor of Elections in the state can see that this is simply a partisan attack on voters that the Governor is trying to suppress. That offends them."

The new law, he fears, will be "a logistical nightmare" for election officials. "This whole process --- that we carefully spent a decade building to ensure that legal voters could cast and have that ballot counted --- is under direct threat, and by individuals who haven't a clue about how Florida elections work. Because these recommendations came from Heritage Action, the political arm for the Heritage Foundation."

Sancho is hopeful that some of the Republicans in Tallahassee will listen to the elections officials. "Because where this will blow up, the first election under these new rules," will be the state's March 2024 Presidential Preference Primary, "where you've got to two apex Republicans, possibly, on the ballot. And you don't want that election to melt down. These rules could destroy the Presidential primary in Florida. And wouldn't that put some egg on DeSantis' face."

So well respected by his peers that he was selected by them to oversee the ultimately-aborted 2000 Presidential recount in the state, Sancho charges that "Governor DeSantis has really declared war on any human being that has a different political ideology than himself. It's shocking."

Nonetheless, DeSantis, after winning in 2018 by less than half a percentage point, was re-elected to a second term by a landslide last November, even as Republicans elsewhere in the nation had a very difficult election. Why did he do so well last year? Sancho offers his thoughts on that as well today. And, yes, it has to do with the "tremendous impact" of the Governor's new special election crimes police force and a resulting "complete collapse of African-American voting" last year in the state. But that, Sancho seems confident, is likely to turn around in 2024...at least if their votes are allowed to be tallied.

Please tune in for another very clarifying and compelling conversation/warning with the great Ion Sancho today!

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with news on a disturbing chemical train derailment in Ohio; catastrophic heat and wildfires in Chile; EU's successful move away from Russian fossil fuels; and some good news about this year's global investments in clean energy sources versus those in dirty, deadly fossil fuels...

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But DeSantis' totalitarian new law has even darker echoes...
UPDATE 3/16/23: 11th Circuit panel unanimously denied FL request to stay the preliminary injunction...
By Ernest A. Canning on 2/1/2023 9:56am PT  

Late last year, by of way a blistering 139-page order [PDF], Chief U.S. District Court Judge Mark E. Walker agreed that a provision of Florida's totalitarian "Stop W.O.K.E. Act" pertaining to university professors and students should be blocked.

The acronym in the title of the bill --- also referred to, without apparent irony, as the Individual Freedom Act (IFA) --- stands for "Wrong to our Kids and Employees". But, turning to Judge Walker's decision in Pernell v. Fl. Bd. of Governors, it may be useful to understand the intended usage of the word "woke" in Act's title. As defined by Merriam-Webster, it means to be "aware of and actively attentive to important societal facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice)."

In pressing for passage and in signing this Act, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a current front-runner for the 2024 GOP Presidential nomination, vowed "to fight the woke" in our schools, businesses and government agencies. He and other Republican thought police have perniciously conflated the mere mention of historical truths about societal facts and issues relating to race or social justice with "indoctrination".

Last year, Judge Walker's order in response to the Stop W.O.K.E., aka Individual Freedom Act (IFA), hauntingly cited George Orwell's 1984...

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Jordan's FBI lies called out on 'Meet the Press'; Also: Barr's weaponization of the DoJ; 'Red' state murder rates far exceed 'blue' states; More white people voter fraud in FL; Sore-loser Lake violates AZ election law...
By Brad Friedman on 1/31/2023 6:32pm PT  

We've got another grab-bag for you on today's BradCast, from the new challenges faced by corporate media during a U.S. House controlled by GOP liars, to more evidence of the former guy's weaponization of the federal government, to still more voter fraud by wealthy white people in Florida.

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

  • NBC's Chuck Todd, the usually milquetoast host of Meet the Press, actually stood up to a few lies by accomplished GOP liar Rep. Jim Jordan on Sunday. That is never easy, given the flurry of lies the Ohio Congressman is capable of spewing at light speed. But Todd, who traditionally allows rightwingers to get away with all manner of BS with little if any response at all, did an impressive job this week --- at least for a few minutes --- in calling out several of Jordan's patently false assertions attempting to equate Donald Trump's theft of hundreds of classified documents and refusal, for more than a year, to return them to the federal government, with the discovery by Joe Biden's attorneys of a few dozen such documents from during his Vice Presidency found stored by aides at his former office at the Penn Center and his home in Wilmington, Delaware. We share the tale of the tape.
  • Jordan now serves as Chair of the House Judiciary Committee and its silly, newly formed select Subcommittee on "the Weaponization of the Federal Government". The new panel is meant to promote all sorts of QAnon and Fox "News" fantasies and victimization porn about the FBI and DoJ somehow having it out for Republicans. Or something. They will pretend to expose false claims such as the FBI paying millions of dollars to Twitter to censor and ban rightwingers during the Trump years. Or something. Will Democrats and our corporate media be up to the task of countering their nonsense over the next two years?
  • If you're looking for actual "weaponization of the federal government", however, look no further than what the disgraced former President did with his appointment of DoJ weaponizer-in-chief Bill Barr as Attorney General. Late last week, the New York Times published a jaw-dropping exclusive on Barr's failed attempt at revealing "deep state liberals" at the FBI and DoJ with the appointment of John Durham as Special Counsel to "investigate the investigators" of Russia's well-documented plot to interfere in the 2016 election. After four years, Barr and Durham have found none of the corruption that Trump and Barr pretended was there. But they did, apparently, find evidence of financial crimes by Donald Trump that, until the Times report just last week, remained their own little secret. Paging Jack Smith.
  • Speaking of lies propagated by rightwingers and the corporate media, you may recall that, during the runup to the 2022 midterms, allegations of rampant, out-of-control crime in big "blue" state cities was all the rage. Trouble is, that was mostly lies as well. Now, a new analysis puts some meat on those bones and dispels another longtime rightwing myth. As it turns out, murder rates in "red" states not only far exceed "blue" states, but that has been the case since at least 2000, according to evidence documented by the new report.
  • Speaking of elections, yet another wealthy white vote fraudster has been arrested for double-voting during the 2020 election in Ron DeSantis' GOP enclave known as The Villages in Florida. He is the fourth, to date. And you won't believe how easy the penalty was for this guy who, like the others, purposely voted twice. Especially as compared to the people of color who were rounded up at gun point by DeSantis' new "Election Crimes and Security" police force just before last year's elections. Those rounded up and tossed in jail by the GOP Governor and Presidential hopeful's personal police squad were former felons who had apparently been allowed by the state to vote two years earlier, despite a loophole in a new law that bars some former felons from being allowed to vote. They had no idea they were voting unlawfully, unlike the white criminals in The Villages who got off with (less than) a slap on the wrist.
  • And speaking of GOP election liars, Kari Lake, 2022's failed, Trump-endorsed gubernatorial candidate in Arizona who lost by 17,000 votes but is still pretending she won, may now be facing legal issues of her own. According to a complaint filed by the state's newly elected Sec. of State Adrian Fontes (D), in a letter sent to the state's newly elected Attorney General Kris Mayes (D), Lake violated state law by publishing the signatures of several voters on Twitter last week. Fontes is seeking a criminal investigation.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as New Zealand is swamped by stunning, record rainfall; a new study finds building solar and wind projects is now cheaper than using existing coal-fired power plants; Tax payers in Pennsylvania are now on the hook for the clean up of thousands of recently discovered abandoned oil and gas wells; and the Biden Administration reverses a Trump scheme in Minnesota in order to protect a vast wilderness from toxic mining for the next 20 years...

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Guest: Chris Melody Fields Figueredo of Ballot Initiative Strategy Center; Also: Trump sanctioned by federal judge, ordered to pay Hillary Clinton and others nearly $1 million...
By Brad Friedman on 1/20/2023 5:56pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: Naturally. Now they're coming for citizen ballot initiatives too. They really do hate democracy, don't they?

But, first up today... As we await several criminal indictments hopefully headed the way of our failed, twice-impeached former President, an order released by a federal Judge in Florida last night was particularly satisfying.

It came in response to a motion for sanctions by Hillary Clinton, James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok and more than a dozen other defendants in a failed lawsuit filed by Donald Trump and his latest foolish attorney/sucker, Alina Habba, last year. In fact, the first version of Trump's suit was so deficient and devoid of facts or even actual charges, U.S. District Court Judge Donald Middlebrooks was kind enough to allow them to refile it before dismissing the second, longer, but no better version with prejudice.

On Thursday night, Judge Middlebrooks, in a blistering (and I mean blistering) 46-page order [PDF], explained why he was granting the defendants' request for sanctions. He began thusly: "This case should never have been brought. Its inadequacy as a legal claim was evident from the start. No reasonable lawyer would have filed it. Intended for a political purpose, none of the counts of the amended complaint stated a cognizable legal claim. ... Thirty-one individuals and entities were needlessly harmed in order to dishonestly advance a political narrative. A continuing pattern of misuse of the courts by Mr. Trump and his lawyers undermines the rule of law, portrays judges as partisans, and diverts resources from those who have suffered actual legal harm."

And that's just the first two paragraphs! It gets even more brutally scathing from there, before concluding with an order for Trump and Habba to pay nearly $1 million to the defendants for the "completely frivolous bad faith" suit brought for "an improper purpose" amounting to "abusive litigation tactics." Perhaps most fun: the single biggest award of fees for a single defendant went to Clinton, who Trump must now pay almost $172,000!

Then, in more serious news today... Progressive citizen ballot initiatives did exceptionally well in 2022, on everything from abortion rights to the legalization of marijuana to the expansion of health care. Yes, even in so-called "red" states. As it turns out, progressive ideas seem to be wildly popular among voters of all stripes! And there is likely much more to come in 2023 and 2024, on abortion rights, minimum wage, gun safety, independent redistricting commissions and much more.

Therefore, in a number of states where Republicans have locked themselves into power with gerrymandered legislatures, they are moving toward making such statewide exercises in "direct democracy" more difficult to get onto the ballot in the first place, and hoping to make them harder to adopt by raising the threshold for passage, for example, from 50% to 60% where they can get away with it.

We're joined today by CHRIS MELODY FIELDS FIGUEREDO, Executive Director of the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center to discuss both progressive successes on statewide ballot measures around the country in 2022 and what the GOP is now doing to try and prevent those successes from happening again.

"That was a huge moment last year in a trend that I know is going to continue as we look at 2023 and '24, where we really see, in many states, that our elected officials are out of touch with the people," Figueredo tells me. "And in most states where they tried to limit the ability of the people to bring forth issues to their community through the ballot measure process, in most cases those were rejected in the states. So there's a lot of opportunity ahead of us."

But, she cautions, "We are seeing a direct backlash to what is happening across the country, of progressive issues winning when they're put before the voters. We're not seeing those changes, which the people say are urgent and important, through our representatives in government, whether it's at city council, whether it's at the state legislative level, and even in the federal government."

We've got a lot to discuss on all of this, including where the direct democracy ballot initiative process has seemingly been captured by corporate interests (in states like California) and about the dozens of states which still don't even allow citizens to place measures on the statewide ballot at all.

I'm also curious how much of the new blowback against such initiatives Figueredo attributes to the number of them in recent years that have instituted independent redistricting commissions in hopes of breaking gerrymandered strangleholds that the GOP still has on many state legislatures. "You have to connect the dots," Figueredo responds. "I think this is ultimately the question that is before us right now in our democracy. Is it of, for and by the people? And who ultimately has the power to make decisions for all of us? That's what's at stake right now."

"It's ultimately this question about power. You can connect the dots. And if we are looking at the ballot initiative process, or the initiatives in general, as a tool for power in our democracy, then yes, if you are an elected official who does not agree with people who may be your constituents and it doesn't fit your agenda, then your next step would be to undermine or weaken the will of the people."

There is much more in our conversation today, including what the U.S. Supreme Court may soon do to gut all such statewide initiatives regarding elections in their upcoming Moore v. Harper decision. Please tune in!...

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Guest: ACLU attorney Jonathan Topaz; Also: IA, NY GOPers charged with mass vote fraud; OH Guv signs bill restricting voting rights...
By Brad Friedman on 1/13/2023 6:17pm PT  

What a way to "celebrate" Martin Luther King Day this year on The BradCast. Fifty-eight years since the passage of the Voting Rights Act and 10 years since the rightwingers on the U.S. Supreme Court gutted one of its central provisions, our even farther rightwing courts now appear to be gunning for much of the rest of the landmark civil rights voting law. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up today, while GOP-appointed federal judges are finding new ways to allow racial discrimination at the voting booth, Republicans --- including a top election official in upstate New York, and the wife of a U.S. House candidate in Iowa --- are nabbed by the Justice Department for committing mass vote fraud with absentee ballots.

The DoJ announcements in those cases come after a year in which Republicans filed a record number of anti-voting lawsuits --- in hopes of preventing (certain) voters from voting and/or having their votes counted as cast --- under the pretend guise of fighting fraud. They also come just days after Ohio's supposedly "moderate" GOP Governor signed new legislation to make it more difficult for (certain) voters to vote at all in upcoming elections.

Voting rights advocates in the Buckeye State charge the new measure will create barriers to the ballot for the elderly, rural voters and members of the military. But if it makes it more difficult for minority voters to vote, it may soon be impossible for groups like the League of Women Voters or the NAACP or the ACLU to file lawsuits charging violations of anti-discrimination laws under the Voting Rights Act.

When SCOTUS gutted Section 5 of the VRA in 2013 --- the part that required new election laws in jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination at the polling place to be precleared by federal authorities before they could go into effect --- the rightwing majority on the High Court claimed the provision was antiquated and no longer necessary. Besides, even though thousands of discriminatory laws had been blocked by Section 5 since 1965, there was always Section 2, which blocks racially discriminatory voting laws in all 50 states.

After all, as an ACLU attorney was forced to point out during a federal appeals court hearing this week: “For over 40 years, dozens of federal courts have heard hundreds of Section 2 claims brought by federal plaintiffs.”

Unfortunately, that lawyer was defending the use of Section 2 before a three-judge panel, where she had to add that, “In that time, not one court denied the plaintiffs their day in court because of a lack of private action.”

The hearing in question came this week after a lower, federal district Court judge in Arkansas tossed out a challenge to a new state House district map implemented by state Republicans. The map includes 11 black majority districts, when the population of the state suggests there should be 16 such districts.

But Judge Lee Rudofsky, a Donald Trump appointee, dismissed the challenge to the new map, declaring that Section 2 of the VRA does not allow private individuals and groups, like the ACLU or NAACP, to file suit against such laws. Only the U.S. Attorney General may do so, he held.

As our guest explains today, Rudofsky's court "the first court in the history of the country to find that there is no private right of action" in Section 2. For a host of reasons, it's an absurd argument. And yet, this week at the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, according to CNN, two of the three judges on the appeals panel (all of them are Republican appointees) appeared open to the idea that there is no right to private action under Section 2, because the federal statute doesn't specifically say as much. Never mind that private parties have been suing for decades under Section 2, including at the U.S. Supreme Court, where the Justices never said a word against it.

We're joined to explain this newly-attempted GOP voter suppression nightmare by JONATHAN TOPAZ, the ACLU Voting Rights Project staff attorney who served as the trial attorney on the initial case that was tossed by Judge Rudofsky last year.

"I think it's hard for most people to fathom that this is a question that needs to be litigated in 2023," Topaz tells me. "There have been hundreds of cases over the course of Section 2's history litigated by private plaintiffs, and many of those cases --- at least 10 at the Supreme Court, and at least 18 in the 8th Circuit where we were arguing earlier this week --- were brought by private plaintiffs."

"Congress had opportunities --- in 1982 when they amended the Voting Rights Act, as recently as 2006 when they reauthorized the Voting Rights Act --- to correct any mistakes it saw out there as private plaintiffs brought cases across the country, which would have been purportedly in open defiance of what Congress had intended, and Congress never saw fit to correct anyone," he explains.

Topaz goes on to cite a case as recently as 1996 when "five justices of the Supreme Court --- so, a majority --- held that there was a private right of action under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act." Of course, our newly corrupted, stolen, and extremist rightwing majority on the High Court has had no trouble of late reversing its own precedents whenever they feel like it. So this case, which will almost certainly end up at SCOTUS no matter what happens at the 8th Circuit, could tee up a potentially near-fatal blow to the already teetering VRA.

"Section 2 is one of the crown jewels of American legislative history," Topaz argues today. "It's one of the finest statutes ever passed. Section 2 is absolutely essential in terms of ensuring equal voting access around the country. And we will do everything we can do defend it."

In the meantime, as he observes, this particular fight has prevented the courts from deciding on the merits of the original case, which means that --- even if it's ultimately settled at SCOTUS in favor of the ACLU --- "there will have been several elections taking place with discriminatory maps in Arkansas."

In 1957, in his "Give us the Ballot" speech eight years before passage of the VRA, MLK reportedly said: "So long as I do not firmly and irrevocably possess the right to vote I do not possess myself. I cannot make up my mind --- it is made up for me. I cannot live as a democratic citizen, observing the laws I have helped to enact --- I can only submit to the edict of others."

Happy Martin Luther King Day. It's on Monday.

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