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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, October 20, 2021
'Despair is Not an Option' After Manchin Tanks Biden's Central Climate Plan: 'BradCast' 10/19/21
Guest: UCSB's Dr. Leah Stokes; Also: 'Mass homicide' allegations for Brazil's Bolsonaro...
'Green News Report' 10/19/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Manchin tosses hand grenade into Biden's climate agenda; EPA to crack down on PFAS; Million of polluting, abandoned U.S. wells; PLUS: McDonald's finally going beyond meat...
Previous GNRs: 10/14/21 - 10/12/21 - Archives...
Listeners Ring in on Whether Ds Should Gerrymander 'Blue' States: 'BradCast' 10/18/21
Also: How the unvaxxed helped kill fully-vaxxed Colin Powell; How Manchin is killing Biden's landmark climate change plan...
Sunday 'Democracy's Boundaries' Toons
PDiddie draws a few lines in his latest collection of the week's best toons...
Why Dems Should Now Gerrymander 'Blue' States (and Why They Shouldn't): 'BradCast' 10/15/21
Guest: FairVote's Dave Daley; Also: Freedom to Vote in the Senate; GOP physics in VA...
Why the Last Remaining 2020 Election Contest in GA Should Not Have Been Dismissed: 'BradCast' 10/14/21
Also: Why Bannon's in big trouble (probably); And why Trump may not be running in 2024...
'Green News Report' 10/14/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Supply chain disruptions spike global energy prices; Russia says they didn't do it!; CA bans gas-powered leaf blowers; PLUS: Biden Administration goes big on offshore wind...
Previous GNRs: 10/12/21 - 10/7/21 - Archives...
'Red' State Profs Fight for Masking at Universities: 'BradCast' 10/13/21
Guest: Dr. Matthew Boedy of UNG; Also: Shatner in space; Workers have had enough; Biden's big new off-shore wind plan...
'Green News Report' 10/12/21
'No climate, no deal!' on Build Back Better; Critical infrastructure facing flood, failure; 2021 extreme weather costs; PLUS: Biden restores national monuments...
'Change the Whole Process': CA Rep on Ending Big Oil After State's Latest Offshore Spill: 'BradCast' 10/11/21
Guest: Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA); Also: Trump's plan to steal 2024; Callers...
Sunday 'Privilege' Toons
You know you deserve PDiddie's collection of this week's best political toons...
Media Downplaying Trump, GOP's Threat to U.S. Democracy: 'BradCast' 10/8/21
Guest: Eric Boehlert; Also: Biden restores nat'l monuments; Trump hid losses at D.C. hotel...
Trump Didn't Try to 'Subvert Results', He Tried to Steal 2020!: 'BradCast' 10/7/21
Also: Pipeline co.'s leak tech failed in SoCal spill; Freedom of choice restored to TX women (for now); Media misreport GOP debt threat...
'Green News Report' 10/7/21
Ship anchor may be cause of SoCal oil spill; Fossil fuel industry subsized $11 million every minute; PLUS: PA A.G. criminally charges notorious pipeline developer...
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...


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Guest: FSFP's Courtney Hostetler on federal suit challenging two new vote suppression laws in AZ; Also: John Lewis Voting Rights Enhancement Act passed by House Dems; NC court restores voting rights to 50k...
By Brad Friedman on 8/25/2021 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was bad enough in 2013 when Chief Justice John Roberts gutted Section 5, the key provision of the Voting Rights Act. That section prevented discriminatory voting laws before they could take effect. By the time Justice Samuel Alito, on behalf of the Republicans' stolen and packed 6 to 3 majority, legislated from the bench last month to create new tests for Section 2 of the VRA, pulled largely out of thin air, it felt like there was little left in the landmark 1965 federal legislation to protect voters. But voting rights champions are moving forward in courts, nonetheless, even as the battle for new federal voting rights legislation continues.

On Tuesday night, without a single Republican vote, Democrats in the House adopted the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The measure would fix much of the damage done to Section 5 of the VRA by the GOP Supremes in 2013, allowing laws with a discriminatory impact on minorities to be blocked in all fifty states before they can suppress voters. But that bill have to overcome a Senate filibuster by Republicans to become law. Still, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia says he support its passage, so perhaps he'll support the modification to the filibuster necessary to pass it. Given the federal lawsuit filed last week in Arizona against two new GOP voter suppression schemes in that state, perhaps AZ's Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, another opponent of filibuster reform --- even on behalf off democracy --- will rethink her position as well when the Senate returns from its August recess.

On Monday, however, there was some bona fide good news out of the very closely divided state of North Carolina, where a court overturned a century old law that prevented former felons from voting upon release from prison. The measure, originally enacted after the Civil War to stop access to the ballot box for black Americans, was finally overturned this week, allowing some 50,000 former felons to register to vote immediately. Of course, state Republicans are appealing the ruling.

And, despite good news last month from a Florida court, tossing a GOP cap on how much money can be donated to get initiatives onto the ballot in the Sunshine State, the effort to once again reenfranchise former felons in that state will now have to wait until the 2024 ballot. That, even after Florida voters already voted for exactly that in a landslide 65% to 35% victory in 2018. It seems Republicans will never run out of ways to prevent some 800,000 returning citizens in the state from being able to participate in their own democracy. It's what they do. It's also why it is so critical to adopt federal reforms, currently being blocked by Republicans and a couple of intransigent Democratic Senators.

In Arizona last week, several voting and civil rights group filed a federal lawsuit challenging two laws recently enacted by state Republicans aimed at suppressing the minority vote, according to our guest today, COURTNEY HOSTETLER, Senior Counsel at the non-partisan government watchdog Free Speech for People (FSFP). Her organization is litigating the case on behalf of Mi Familia Vota, Arizona Coalition for Change, Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA), and Chispa Arizona. One law ends the state's very popular permanent early voting list, which allowed voters to receive Vote-by-Mail ballots automatically for every election. The other restriction requires voters who forgot to sign their VBM ballot to do so by 7pm on Election Night. That, even though voters judged to have a "mismatched" signature on their absentee ballot are allowed to "cure" the problem for up to five days after Election Day.

On the first restriction, Hostetler explains today that the permanent early voting list "is supposed to permanent. It's right in the name." But under the new law, she says, "if you don't vote in two consecutive election cycles, you're out. Two election cycles is not that many. There are local elections, many elections that happen. If you decide to skip two elections, for whatever reason, you're off this list and you might not realize it" until its too late.

On the second restriction, she describes that many voters are unlikely to be able to sign their ballot in time, or even be notified that there is a problem, particularly if they only dropped it off the day before the election and especially in the many cases where there is a two-hour, one-way trip for voters forced to use public transportation.

All of this is supposedly to prevent "voter fraud", according to Republicans in a state which has been unable to show any evidence of substantive fraud in past elections, much less fraud that would be prevented by the new restrictions. On the other hand, as Hostetler details, these laws --- which appear neutral on their face --- are specifically designed to "impact minority voters" in several different nefarious ways.

"We can't divorce this from the history of voting suppression in Arizona," she argues, listing many of the ways in which minorities will see a disparate impact from these laws. "Arizona has an unfortunate and long history of voter suppression of Latino, Black and Native American voters."

As the federal complaint [PDF] filed last week reads: "It is no coincidence that the Arizona legislature enacted these changes only after an election in which (1) for the first time in recent memory, the presidential candidate preferred by Arizona voters of color won; and (2) voters of color increasingly used early voting --- the target of the new laws --- to help elect their candidate of choice."

But how can these restrictions be challenged in federal court, given Justice Alito's absurd, created-from-whole-cloth new "guideposts" for adjudicating Section 2 cases under the VRA, where, as we discussed on The BradCast last month, he literally conceded that discriminatory laws are okay, so long as they don't discriminated too much?

Hostetler explains the groups' strategy for challenging these laws under the VRA as well as Amendments 1, 14, and 15 of the U.S. Constitution which, she argues, these restrictions "clearly violate". She also speaks to the necessity of passage of new federal laws to give voting rights attorneys more tools to work with, since SCOTUS has twice gutted the VRA over the past decade. She similarly offers advice on and what we can all do --- as voters, as citizens --- to help reverse this cycle of insidious voter suppression now setting in across the country...especially in swing states like Kyrsten Sinema's Arizona...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Vote 'NO' on recalling Gov. Newsom on the first question and for the Green Party's Dan Kapelovitz on the second. Here's why...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/18/2021 10:35am PT  

"For the September 14, 2021 Gubernatorial Recall Election," according to the CA Secretary of State's Quick Facts Sheet [PDF], "all active registered California voters will receive their ballot in the mail." The ballot will contain two questions: (1) Whether California's Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom shall be Recalled, and (2) if Recalled, which of 46 official candidates should succeed him. Voters are expected to complete both parts of the ballot, even if they vote "NO" on the first question, though it is not a requirement.

California residents, who are 17-years old but will turn 18 on or before Sept. 14, can pre-register to vote. Otherwise eligible voters, who are not yet registered, can register to vote within 14 days of the Recall Election (by August 30) in order to receive a Vote-by-Mail ballot. Or, they can fill out a Conditional Voter Registration at the polls during either early, in-person voting or on Election Day.

For the reasons set forth in my July article, "Now May Be a Good Time to Reform or Eliminate California's Gubernatorial Recall System", this progressive believes the answer to question (1) of the ballot is simple and straightforward. I'll vote "NO" only because the ballot does not contain the option to vote "HELL NO!"

This GOP-initiated Recall, which, per the California Voters' Guide, will cost state taxpayers an estimated $246 million, is the product of a purely partisan abuse of the Recall process. It was engineered by an increasingly authoritarian and immensely unpopular Republican Party --- a Party which hasn't won a statewide election in California since 2006; a Party that accounts for less than 1 in 4 registered CA voters; a Party which lost the last Presidential Election in the Golden State by more than 5 million votes; a Party that knows its only prospect for winning lies in what it hopes to be a low turnout, Special Recall Election. It's a cynical divide-the-vote-among-multiple-and-largely-unknown-candidates strategy that could potentially allow an otherwise unelectable Republican to prevail.

In recent television ads, sponsored by state Democrats and labor unions, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) described what will take place on Sept. 14 as a "Republican Recall". Question (2) on the ballot reflects the accuracy of that assessment. Out of a total of 46 candidates on the second part of the ballot, 24 are Republicans. One other candidate, Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Hewitt, is a Libertarian --- the Party that embraces the deceptive ideology of the infamous Koch Brothers and hard-right ideologues like Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

The difficult decision for progressives is how to unite behind only one of the 21 remaining candidates so as to avert the disaster that could ensue if more than 50% of the electorate vote to recall the incumbent Governor, as recent polling suggests a very tight race on the ballot's first question.

Allow me to explain why the election of either of the two leading question (2) candidates --- Democrat Kevin Paffrath and Republican Larry Elder --- both represent a clear and present danger if Newsom is recalled on question (1). Then, I'll share my conclusion --- along with information on each of the non-Republican/Libertarian candidates on the ballot --- as to why Green Party Candidate Dan Kapelovitz, an ardent opponent of the "Republican Recall", who is running only to avert disaster should the Recall succeed, is the candidate Democrats and progressives would do well to support...

[Disclaimer: The opinions set forth here are solely those of the author and should not be construed as an endorsement of any one candidate by The BRAD BLOG.]

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




...And for patent waivers for life-saving inoculation drugs...
UPDATE 8/12/21 U.S. Supreme Court upholds Indiana University COVID vaccine mandate...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/2/2021 10:58am PT  

In the short term, the U.S. government can and should compel all citizens, other than those for whom the COVID vaccines may be medically contraindicated, to be vaccinated at the government's expense. It should also insist that the major U.S. pharmaceutical companies contractually waive their right to enforce their COVID vaccine intellectual property rights before a World Trade Organization (WTO) tribunal.

Long term, if we place a greater value on human life than we now do with respect to obscene levels of wealth accumulation by a privileged few, both the U.S. and other governments should renegotiate the TRIPS agreement so as to eliminate intellectual property rights of pharmaceutical companies over life-saving vaccines developed with the aid of public monies.

Alternatively, the U.S. and other governments should take a hard look at whether their respective pharmaceutical industries should be nationalized...

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




Guest: Author, analyst, researcher Brynn Tannehill; Also: Trump pushed his DoJ to falsely claim 2020 election was 'corrupt'; Biden's DoJ confirms law requires IRS to turn Trump tax docs over to Congress...
By Brad Friedman on 7/30/2021 6:03pm PT  

Today's BradCast should serve as yet another wake up call for those of us who may need one. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

First up, Washington Post revealed on Friday that Donald Trump, late last year, attempted to order his acting Attorney General to declare that the 2020 election was "corrupt". To his credit, the acting AG refused to, since there was no evidence of systemic fraud that might have reversed Trump's painful loss to Joe Biden. And, to the credit of the acting AG's staff, all of this was documented in real time with contemporaneous hand-written notes --- from that call and similar ones that reportedly took place on a near daily basis --- with the desperate loser President calling with fraudulent information from the Internet about "fraud". Those notes from the DoJ have now helpfully been handed over to Congress, so there will likely be more to come.

Of note, however, was Trump's response when he was told there was no evidence that would "change the outcome of the election." According to the hand-written notes of senior DoJ staff, Trump replied: "Just say the election was corrupt [and] leave the rest to me and the [Republican] Congressmen."

It was enough, for Trump's dishonest purposes, for the DoJ to simply say the election was "corrupt", even though there was no such evidence to support such a claim. It was similar to how, as we learned during his first impeachment, he wanted the President of Ukraine to say they were investigating Joe Biden and his family for corruption, even though they actually weren't. This is how a liar and a con-man and, yes, how a wannabe autocrat works.

But where Trump's pathetic attempt to stay in power failed last time, that may not be the case in the near future, as many respected voices are now warning. Fox "News" may say the Left is a bunch of autocrats and fascists, but that's only because they hope you won't notice that the Republican Right actually is, and becoming more so by the day. Many respected scholars and pundits from both the Left and the not-insane Right, such as David Frum and Steve Schmidt, are trying to warn about exactly that in advance of the 2022 mid-terms. Schmidt, John McCain's former Campaign Manager, asserted in a Twitter thread this past week, for example, that Trump will be the GOP nominee in 2024, adding that "the Pro-Democracy coalition is sleep walking into the ‘22 election and the stakes couldn’t be higher."

U.S. Naval Academy and Air Force Institute of Technology graduate BRYNN TANNEHILL, who served as a longtime naval aviator, with deployments to the Adriatic, Middle East and North Atlantic, says today that she shares a number of Schmidt's concerns. Her recently published book, hoping to call attention to the unprecedented perils the nation is now facing, is called American Fascism: How the GOP is Subverting Democracy. She joins us on today's show for a chilling, if insightful conversation.

As an investigator of shoot-downs in the military, she explains that she decided to approach this topic not unlike the NTSB might investigate a crash scene, examining every single potential factor that could have played a role in the disaster. "My book traces back some of the roots of the modern Republican Party all the way back to slavery and the Civil War," she explains, "to kind of give an historical sense of where this came from. [It] looks holistically at a lot of the different factors, including the media, loss of faith in science, how white evangelicals are different, how the system has been manipulated, the role of wealth inequality," examining "like an NTSB investigation, as many of the driving factors behind where we are today as possible."

But her clarion warning of where we now are is as chilling as her comparison of the Trump-incited failed insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th with Hitler and the Nazi's failed Beer Hall Putsch of 1923. "What Republicans can take away from [Jan. 6] is that even when there is a naked attempt at a coup, it costs them nothing. If they attempt to steal democracy by simply overturning an election, there's going to be even less consequences. That's our lesson."

Her book documents (and explains) what she describes as the rise of "competitive autocracy" in the U.S. or "managed democracy" as Russian President Vladimir Putin refers to it. "It's a type of government that has emerged since the end of the Cold War. Essentially, you have a democracy, or something close to a democracy, and then one party wins an election and then changes the rules, such that the incumbent party can essentially never be removed from power.  There are still elections. They are still very often 'free' in the sense that anybody can vote, and there's not just one person on the ballot. But the election through various means has been rigged such that the playing field has been so tilted that you can't remove the incumbent party from power."

We are seeing exactly that, as GOP-controlled states are changing the rules of elections right now, not only to make it harder for Democratic-leaning voters to vote next year and in 2024, but to allow them to replace election officials with partisans who can reverse election results no matter how the electorate actually votes. (See, for example, my conversation last week with now-former Morgan County, Georgia Board of Elections member and longtime voting rights champion Helen Butler who was just removed from her seat on the Board by the partisan County Board of Supervisors after 10 years, following the approval of the state's Republican Governor Brian Kemp.)

Citing similar democracies-turned-autocracies, she points to Russia, Hungary, Poland and others countries, noting that once a nation has headed down the path we are now on, historically, none of have been able to reverse course. "Hungary is absolutely a fascist movement," Tannehill points out, following the 2010 election of Victor Orbán, "and they have absolutely ended democracy there. That's a real danger, in the sense that we have a party that regards democracy as a hindrance to their goals, and their goals of establishing a particular kind of country is more important than the democracy itself."

So does the U.S. stand a chance of turning the tide? "The problem is the system is broken," she argues. "it is so easy to thwart solutions, via Congress, the Presidency, the courts, that it's really unlikely that a lot of the necessary solutions could ever happen.  For example, Senators representing only 19% of the American population can block virtually any legislation that they want to in the Senate."

"To an extent," Tannehill tells me today, the Founders, who thought their system of democracy would prevent a wholly unqualified person from being able to become President, "never dreamed that their vision for a country would be so corrupted that you would have legislators who would overturn elections based off of lies. They also never dreamed that the parties would become so powerful that they would pick the electors for the Electoral College.  The Electoral College was meant to prevent people like Trump."

There is much more to today's conversation, including a bit of hope. No, all is not necessarily lost, as grim as all of this sounds. But unless folks begin to appreciate the dangers of this moment in history, things could get very much worse --- and soon --- before they get better...if they ever do.

Finally, following that dark (if enlightening) conversation, some slightly more encouraging news. After Trump's DoJ spent years ignoring the plain text of the rule of law --- as authoritarian administrations do --- in refusing to enforce the federal statute requiring the IRS to share Trump's tax returns with Congress, Biden's DoJ has reversed course. In a memo issued today by the DoJ's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), the Department has declared that, in fact, the Treasury Dept. must turn over those long-sought documents to the House Ways and Means Committee after their lawful requests beginning in 2019. Better late than never anyway. And it's nice to see an Administration with some apparent actual respect for law and order once again.

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: Legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern on activist Alito's 'totally fabricated' new rules for Voting Rights Act enforcement and much more; Also: Corporations break vow on donations to insurrectionist GOPers...
By Brad Friedman on 7/9/2021 5:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A very lively conversation with one of our favorite guests...about a very dark moment in our nation's history. [Audio link to full show is posted at bottom of this summary.]

Last week, on the final day of its term this year, the 6 Republican Justices on the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court majority, "turned back the clock on voting rights," according to UC Irvine election law professor Rick Hasen. A week after Justice Samuel Alito opinion for the majority in Brnovich v. DNC was published, Hasen is "angry" that "so much of the public does not realize what a hit American democracy has taken," as the ruling "reopens the door to a United States in which states can put up roadblocks to minority voting and engage in voter suppression with few legal consequences once a state has raised tenuous and unsupported concerns about the risk of voter fraud. It's exactly the opposite of what Congress intended."

We share Hasen's fury today. Not only about the activist Rightwing SCOTUS jurists legislating from the bench to wholly rewrite the intent of Congress, but also about them ignoring the couldn't-be-clearer, simple meaning of the plain text of the 15th Amendment. The entire thing is only two sentences long. The first declares "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." The second states that "The CONGRESS shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation." [Emphasis added for our six deceitful, dishonest SCOTUS Justices.]

Once again, the Supreme Court has chosen to simply ignore that second sentence in --- yet again --- gutting the Voting Rights Act, the appropriate legislation Congress wrote, and has amended to strengthen several times, in order to enforce the 15th Amendment, as literally directed by the Constitution. And, once again, the Roberts Court has put the lie to the bogus claim by the Right that the Republican appointees are "originalists" or "Constitutional textualists" who believe only in the literal, plain text meaning of Constitution as it was written. That is clearly, and always has been, a bald-faced lie.

We're joined today by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal reporter at Slate, to discuss, at term's end, the outrage of the "mangled" Brnovich opinion, which now allows Arizona and other Republican controlled states to simply ignore the expressed intent of Congress' specific legislation barring voting laws that result in disproportionate disenfranchisement of minority voters and pretends that the Judiciary, not Congress, has the "power to enforce" the Constitution's 15th Amendment.

"You're dead right about the Fifteenth Amendment," Stern tells me. "And I do think it's worth noting that all of the Reconstruction amendments expressly empower Congress to enforce them. Because the framers of these amendments after the Civil War recognized that it was crucial not to just rely on the federal courts to protect rights, that Congress itself needed to play a leading role in the protection of Constitutional rights. And, particularly, the protection of political equality for people of all races."

"The conservative Justices [they're not "conservative", which we discuss as well!] have adopted this position not just of judicial supremacy but judicial arrogance, that the framers of the Reconstruction amendments couldn't possibly have intended to give Congress power to go beyond the Supreme Court's own interpretation of the Constitution.," Stern fumes. "This is a theme that we see from conservative justices over and over again --- where they say 'We're the ones who decide what counts as a right. We're the ones who decide what counts as legal and illegal, and Congress has nothing to say. Congress can only enforce our own rulings. What five of us say on this Supreme Court overrules what everyone says in Congress and the elected democratic branches. That has led to this twisted position where we don't see a lot of litigators actually speaking about the text of the 15th Amendment because the court has said, 'We sit at the top of the hierarchy, we get to decide, and all Congress can do is enforce our positions.'"

Stern also joins Hasen's (and my) anger in seeing SCOTUS blatantly ignore Congress's express intent for Section 2 of the VRA to prevent voting laws that result in the disenfranchisement of minorities. "What Justice Alito has done," Stern tells us, amounts to simply "making up" a new rule that is "totally fabricated" and "nowhere in the text" of either the law or the Constitution, in setting new "guideposts" for the use of the VRA's Section 2. "The law says very explicitly that any voting restrictions that results in disproportionate impact on racial minorities is illegal."

At the same time that the Court allowed Arizona's new voter suppression laws, Stern notes the irony of Chief Justice John Roberts, on the very same day in another "bitterly divided" 6 to 3 opinion (Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta), blocking the state of California's law that allowed its Attorney General to learn the name of "dark money" donors to non-profit groups in order to enforce state laws and limits. All of which, Stern observes, bodes very darkly for both what is to come in the next term of SCOTUS (major cases on guns, abortion and affirmative action are on the docket) and beyond --- not to mention any laws Democrats in Congress may pass (if they can ever reform the filibuster) to protect voting rights.

"In fact, I have been saying for a long time, unfortunately, that this Supreme Court will strike down large portions, if not all, of the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act," Stern warns. "Next term is winding up to be one of the most catastrophic terms for progressives, for the left, in history --- in the entire history of the country."

With that bright news, we also discuss the disappointment of 82-year old, Democratic-appointed Justice Stephen Breyer failing to announce his retirement last week as many hoped, so he could be replaced by a Democratic White House and Senate, while both still exist. And, yes, there is much more in our conversation today regarding SCOTUS at the end of its first term with three far-right activist jurists packed onto it by Senate Republicans who happily blocked a Democratic appointee to the Court for year, before unilaterally killing the Senate filibuster to seat all three of Trump's appointees.

Also today, remember all of those major corporations who pretended to express outrage after the January 6th insurrection and the passage of voter suppression laws around the country, vowing to halt corporate donations to members of Congress who voted against the certification of Joe Biden's decisive victory over Trump? Yeah, as we warned you months ago, most of them didn't actually mean it. Now we have much more proof...

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Guest: Former Asst. U.S. Attorney Randall D. Eliason on NY indictments of Trump Organization, CFO Weisselberg, and what's next; Also: Trump files 'asinine' lawsuit against social media companies, stiffs Giuliani...
By Brad Friedman on 7/7/2021 5:54pm PT  

Last week, New York prosecutors filed multiple criminal indictments against the Trump Organization and its CFO Allen Weisselberg in response to an alleged "sweeping and audacious" 15-year tax fraud scheme. Today, Donald Trump himself filed a lawsuit against social media companies for banning him after he used his accounts to incite an attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. Today on The BradCast, we discuss both issues and more, including our conversation with a former Asst. U.S. Attorney who is dubious about the legal expert consensus that NY prosecutors plan to file additional charges against other "senior executives" at the Trump Organization. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

First up, Trump's new lawsuits against Facebook, Twitter and YouTube were announced on Wednesday, with the disgraced former President claiming that his First Amendment rights are being violated by the private companies who no longer allow him to use their platforms to lie about last year's election and to incite violence. The First Amendment, however, does not apply to private companies. It applies to the Government. In fact, as one legal expert notes today, "Trump has the First Amendment argument exactly wrong. In fact, Facebook and Twitter themselves have a First Amendment free speech right to determine what speech their platforms project and amplify --- and that right includes excluding speakers who incite violence."

It was next to impossible to find coverage of the lawsuit today which quoted any legal expert unrelated to the suit or the disgraced former President, who supported Trump's legal theory. Even Fox "News" quoted a libertarian lawyer describing the complaint as "asinine".

While it's unclear who is footing the legal bill for Trump's latest legal folly, seemingly meant to further hoax his gullible "conservative" supporters into believing they are all "victims" of political censorship by "radical left" giant social media companies, we're almost certain that Rudy Giuliani will no longer be lending his efforts. A new book by Michael Wolff documents Trump's rage over losing to Joe Biden last year, and claims that he is now unwilling to pay Giuliani for his legal work in criss-crossing the country to claim, without evidence, that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. That, as Rudy has now had his law license suspended in New York for his false legal claims about the election; is facing a federal investigation for his foreign lobbying work on behalf of Trump; and is named in billion dollar lawsuits by the Dominion Voting System [PDF] company for myriad lies about their products.

But Trump, of course, is facing his own legal problems as well, including the 10 criminal indictments filed against his company last week, along with 15 counts against his longtime Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg. The indictments, which include charges such as Scheme to Defraud; Conspiracy; Grand Larceny; Criminal Tax Fraud; and Falsifying of Business Records, stem from what prosecutors describe as a tax fraud scheme that includes more than a million dollars in off-the-books compensation for apartments, cars, and school tuition for Weisselberg and others, "orchestrated by the most senior executives” at the Trump Organization from 2005 until this year.

In the wake of last week's charges, many legal experts have argued the indictments suggest more charges will be coming, as part of the ongoing two year investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and NY Attorney General Letitia James --- perhaps even for "senior executives" named Trump. Our guest today, however, former Asst. U.S. Attorney RANDALL D. ELIASON of George Washington University Law School, disagrees. At least, he is dubious.

In the days both before and after last week's indictments, Eliason suggested on Twitter that if NY ended up charging Trump's company along with Weisselberg, that would be a signal that there is not, in fact, more charges to come, as many have speculated.

Eliason, an expert in White Collar Criminal Law and a frequent contributor to Washington Post and his own Sidebars Blog, describes the charges against Weisselberg --- who allegedly received more than $1.7 million in untaxed, off-the-books compensation and stiffed city, state and federal governments for at least $900,000 --- as a very "serious case" indeed. He explains why nobody should be fooled by "Attorneys for Weisselberg and the Trump Organization [who] have tried to downplay these as just a 'fringe benefits' case, to make it sound as though it's about the company maybe just failing to report something."

He notes, in particular, prosecutors claims that the company was "keeping two sets of books" to hide their "tax fraud scheme". Eliason says this suggests a "very deliberate" effort to defraud that "makes it pretty hard to claim that it was just a mistake or a misunderstanding about the complicated tax code," as Trump implied during a rally in Sarasota, Florida over the weekend. (That, by way of stark contrast with his boast at a 2016 rally when he declared: "I know more about taxes than human being that God ever created!")

Eliason offers a great deal of insight into what these charges mean and how serious they are. Still, he goes on to argue that, in his opinion, unless prosecutors manage to flip Weisselberg --- which he believes would have already happened if Weisselberg was flippable --- that it is unlikely there will be further charges against others in the case.

"Failing cooperation by Weisselberg," he tells me, "the fact that they included the company [in the indictments] makes me think, if he doesn't flip, that's all we're going to have. Because otherwise you hold off on the company, you isolate Weisselberg, and if you bring cases against other individuals, with or without Weisselberg, that just makes the case against the company stronger. Because the company is only liable vicariously through the actions of its agents. So you don't charge the company now if you think there's more to come."

I challenge Eliason on a number of these points today, in which each of us concede we are reading tea leaves. Of course, he's the expert attorney and I am anything but. Please tune in for this interesting discussion!

Finally, we close with what is best described as some "good-ish news" regarding Elsa, the first Atlantic storm to come ashore this year, in what is already a record setting storm season...

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Guest: Robert Brandon of Fair Elections Center; Also: We're back! But with a week of news in one segment to get you (and us) all caught up!...
By Brad Friedman on 7/6/2021 6:48pm PT  

We're back on today's BradCast after a much-needed week off, which turned out to be a really big news week. But don't worry. We get all caught up somehow (mostly) on everything you need to know in just one segment today! Plus, an excellent guest to explain how the Republicans' packed U.S. Supreme Court has undermined both democracy and the Constitution yet again at the end of this year's term. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

Among the stories from last week (and this week) that we catch up on before moving to our guest...

  • The thought-to-be-extinguished Lava Fire in Northern California erupts with two others;
  • Last week's deadly, climate-change fueled heat wave in the Pacifica Northwest and British Columbia resulted in hundreds of deaths in the U.S. and Canada;
  • The confirmed death toll at the condo collapse in Surfside, Florida ticks up over 30 with more than 100 still unaccounted for, as recovery is hampered by the incoming, already record-breaking Hurricane Elsa;
  • An ExxonMobil lobbyist was caught on video admitting to the company's years of subterfuge about our climate emergency caused by the unmitigated burning of their products;
  • Attorney General Merrick Garland declared a moratorium on federal executions;
  • George W. Bush's "war criminal" Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, died;
  • The U.S. finally, permanently evacuated Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan as President Biden tries to finally end America's longest war before the 20th Anniversary of 9/11;
  • COVID infections spiked 10% over the previous week as the Delta Variant continues to pose a quickly growing danger, effecting mostly unvaccinated people (so far);
  • Despite its low infection rate, Los Angeles County urged residents to wear masks indoors again, thanks to the increasing spread of the much more infectious coronavirus variant;
  • More than 180 people were shot and killed over the July 4th holiday weekend in more than 540 shootings in the U.S. over a 72-hour period;
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi named her selections, including one Republican, to a House Select Committee to investigate the Trump-incited January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol after Republicans in the House and Senate recently reneged on a deal with Democrats for a bipartisan independent commission;
  • Sexual predator Bill Cosby was freed from jail thanks to a ridiculous deal made years ago by one of the lead defense attorneys in Donald Trump's second impeachment trial;
  • The Boy Scouts of America agreed to an $850 million settlement with victims over thousands of sexual abuse allegations;
  • The Trump Organization and its longtime Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg were indicted on multiple state criminal charges including Scheme to Defraud, Conspiracy, Grand Larceny, Criminal Tax Fraud and Falsifying of Business Records;
  • The NYC Mayor's election, already made ridiculously complicated by Ranked Choice Voting, went sideways last week after it was discovered that 135,000 sample ballots were accidentally included by NYC election officials in the weeks-long, impossible-to-oversee RCV tabulation procedure;
  • Arizona's months-long "audit" theater was extended yet again, as the rightwing, QAnon conspiracy company called Cyber Ninjas continued its secret examination of 2.1 million ballots cast during last year's Presidential election in Maricopa County (Phoenix). That's the partially taxpayer-funded clown show that, as I reported weeks ago now, according to the Ninjas' own documents [PDF], allows them to miscount a MINIMUM of 42,000 votes without setting off any internal alarm bells, in a race that was decided by a statewide margin of just 10,000 votes;
  • And, the Dept. of Justice called on Congress to adopt new laws to protect voters after the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court ended their term last week by undermining democracy and the U.S. Constitution yet again.

In Brnovich vs. DNC [PDF], the Court's 6 to 3 Republican majority overturned a lower appeals court decision that had blocked two new restrictions on voting in Arizona. One barred the counting of ballots cast by voters in the wrong precinct and the other banned the collection of ballots by third-parties (derisively known as "ballot harvesting" by Rightwingers implying it's used by minorities to defraud elections...despite the lack of any evidence in support of that assertion). Both laws were shown to have disproportionately impacted minority voters in the state. That is supposed to be barred by Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. But, writing for the Court's majority, activist Justice Samuel Alito made up new "guidelines" that ignore both Congress' intent in its passage of the VRA and the Constitution's own plain language that "Congress shall have the power to enforce" the 15th Amendment decree that "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

So, how will the Court's ruling in Brnovich, allowing for discrimination in voting laws, effect the spate of pending challenges to new voter suppression laws now being enacted by GOP-controlled states around the country? What, if anything, can Congress do about it? And, if they do, will this hard-right anti-democracy Court allow any such new laws to stand?

We're joined today to discuss all of that and more by longtime public interest attorney ROBERT BRANDON, President, CEO and co-founder of the Fair Elections Center. He describes the Republican Justices' opinion as "a real departure" from the claims of so-called originalism and Constitutional textualism --- a literal reading of the plain words of the Constitution --- which the rightwing Justices have long pretended to believe in. This decision, he explains, is "clearly is going to make it harder to challenge and defeat, in court, the laws that disenfranchise the most Americans, particularly black and brown voters, and other marginalized voters. In the case of Arizona, including disabled voters, who often need help delivering their ballots."

Alito's ruling, according to Brandon, essentially says "discrimination is okay as long as it's not a whole lot." But Brandon also explains why the Court's decision, as terrible as it is, doesn't necessarily mean that the multiple legal challenges to dozens of new GOP suppression laws adopted since last year, in the wake of Trump's evidence-free Big Lie that the election was stolen, will fail.

"It's a great irony, of course, that we just had the highest turnout election in history," he says, "yet now we're talking about adding all of these new barriers to voting around the country."

Finally, on this four-day work week following the Monday Independence Day holiday, a new analysis of a years-long study in Iceland finds that productivity either remained the same or improved in the majority of workplaces when the work week was cut to just four days. How can we get this progressive idea --- now also being studied in Spain and New Zealand, and found to benefit workers' health and lives without harming corporate bottom lines --- adopted here in the U.S.? Working on it...

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Guest: 'Jackpot' author Michael Mechanic; Also: Trump's politicized DoJ spied on Dems in unprecedented violation of Separation of Powers...
By Brad Friedman on 6/11/2021 6:30pm PT  

The volume of incoming huge news stories these days is getting to be as overwhelming as it was during the Trump years. But it's also a reminder to anyone who has deluded themselves into thinking that the Trump Era is over, it is anything but. We were planning on covering ProPublica's blockbuster bombshell exclusive this week on today's BradCast --- and we still do --- though it has been somewhat eclipsed by last night's New York Times blockbuster bombshell exclusive. We do our best to cover both today. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

First, the remarkable news broken by the Times late on Thursday is that Donald Trump's wildly corrupt Dept. of Justice was a whole lot more corrupt than we have all yet fully appreciated. As it turns out, in an unprecedented move, his DoJ secretly subpoenaed phone, email and text message data of Democratic members of Congress on the House Judiciary Committee. But it wasn't just members that Trump saw as political enemies, including top Judiciary Dem Adam Schiff and Rep. Eric Swalwell. It was also their staff and even their children, one of whom was a minor, according to the Times' blockbuster.

All of that, even as the Trump Administration spent years blocking Congress from lawful subpoenas for testimony and documents from the White House itself and virtually every Executive branch agency, under the false premise that it would violate the Constitution's Separation of Powers, granting co-equal powers to both the Legislative and Executive branches. All the while, the Trump Administration was actually --- literally --- spying on members of the Legislative branch, while claiming (disingenuously) that Congress was overstepping its bounds by issuing lawful, public subpoenas for testimony to members of the Executive branch.

The stunning news comes after a week in which we previously learned that the Trump DoJ also secretly obtained phone, email and text records of journalists at the Washington Post, New York Times and CNN. Democrats claim to be outraged by it all, and vow to investigate. But without real legal consequences, accompanied by sweeping reforms by both Congress and, most immediately, Merrick Garland's Dept. of Justice, the appalling and outrageous and unlawful acts carried out during four years of the Trump Administration will absolutely be carried out again --- and even worse next time --- in the very near future.

Speaking of much-needed, long-overdue action from Congress, the ProPublica bombshell this week revealed that --- based on a "vast cache of IRS information" somehow obtained by the non-profit media outlet on the nation's wealthiest men --- American billionaires have been allowed to avoid almost all federal income taxes for years on their accumulated and still-surging wealth. As the media outlet reports in their jaw-dropping, nearly 6,000 word exclusive this week, "billionaires like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Warren Buffett pay little in income tax compared to their massive wealth — sometimes, even nothing."

Their months-long analysis of the data "demolishes the cornerstone myth of the American tax system: that everyone pays their fair share and the richest Americans pay the most. The IRS records show that the wealthiest can --- perfectly legally --- pay income taxes that are only a tiny fraction of the hundreds of millions, if not billions, their fortunes grow each year."

The raw IRS data show that billionaires like Bezos (the world's wealthiest man), Musk, Buffett and the others often pay zero in federal income taxes. Overall, the nation's top 25 wealthiest --- whose fortunes increased collectively by $401 billion between 2014 and 2018 --- paid a tax rate on that accumulated wealth of just 3.4% on average. That, compared to a median tax rate of 14% paid by regular, middle-class Americans, as the U.S. tax code rewards wealth over labor.

The New York Times explains in its own coverage of ProPublica's scoop, that even as Congress and President Biden bicker over tweaks to marginal tax rates, the ultra-wealthy avoid such trivialities all together. "The ProPublica revelations got to a widely understood issue: that the superrich earn virtually all their wealth from the constantly rising value of their assets, particularly in the stock market, and that the sales of those assets are taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income from a paycheck...But the analysis also revealed a less recognized strategy employed by the superrich: taking huge loans, using their assets as collateral. It allows them to avoid selling their assets and facing taxation, and even to write off some lending costs. In that way, Mr. Bezos and Mr. Buffett were able to show yearly income losses even as their wealth grew by billions of dollars."

Mother Jones' Senior Editor MICHAEL MECHANIC joins us today with a great deal of context and perspective on this long running, if legal, scam, after spending a couple of years hanging out with the ultra rich while researching his newly published book, Jackpot: How the Super-Rich Really Live --- and How Their Wealth Harms Us All.

Mechanic underscores the scam revealed by ProPublica: "As we've seen from the way the tax code works, wealth begets wealth, and we reward capital over wages. If you make a fortune on a stock, you pay a maximum of 20% when you sell that stock. In the meantime, when you hold it, you don't pay any taxes at all --- it's called 'unrealized gains.' What these billionaires have done is they just borrow against that. They never have to sell, so they never even pay the capital gains tax.  Meanwhile, you and I are getting a paycheck. If we made as much as they did, we'd be charged 37%.  So it's 37% versus 20% for assets, but they're not even paying the 20% because they're not selling the assets. They're taking out low-interest loans, paying a few percent, living on that money." And, yes, even as the cost of the interest would be less than they'd have to pay in taxes if they sold assets to live on their own money instead, they actually get to deduct the cost of those loans from their income taxes!

We discuss, among other things, how all of this actually hurts average Americans; how, because of it, trillions of dollars are not available to the government to spend on healthcare, schools, climate change, infrastructure and other public services; what, if anything, can or will be done about it by Congress --- where Republicans (and too many Democrats) seems to be just fine with a system that rewards wealth over work; whether proposals like Elizabeth Warren's wealth tax of .02 cents on every dollar of wealth by those worth more than $50 million could ever be adopted in Congress or is even Constitutional; and how all of this wealth doesn't even get taxed upon death when it's passed from generation to generation, as Mechanic reports at MoJo today.

"There's always been this argument, from the very beginning, that if you tax investors and business people, those people then won't invest, won't create jobs," Mechanic observes. "It's a spurious argument. If you have $100 million and somebody raises the capital gains rate, does that mean you're not going to start a company? You're not going to put it into the stock market? No, of course not. What else are you going to do with your money, put it under your mattress?!"

And, yes, we also discuss his new book (highly lauded by the legendary Bill Moyers!), which Mechanic describes as "not a polemical book. It's a funny, entertaining, and enraging character-driven narrative, in which I basically hang out with super-wealthy people and their minions. I interview researchers, I talk to a woman who trains billionaires' nannies in physical combat, [and] a guy who builds luxury safe rooms. It's a journey of the American wealth fantasy and how it's gone off the rails."

So, hey, if you're not already enraged enough by today's program, please buy Mike's book! It's out just in time to enrage Dad for Father's Day!

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Lengthy opinion exposes century of entrenched racism, corruption and indifference but overlooks extreme predatory capitalist inequality...
UPDATE, 9/24/21: 9th Circuit Overturns Injunction
By Ernest A. Canning on 5/19/2021 10:35am PT  

Even if it withstands Los Angeles County's appeal to the 9th Circuit, the well intended decision, handed down last month by veteran U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter in a federal lawsuit filed by the LA Alliance for Human Rights, will, at best, ameliorate but not eliminate the nightmare of homelessness at the heart of a place that dares to call itself the City of Angels.

In support of legal grounds for federal court intervention, such as the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, Judge Carter laid out, in compelling detail, the link between LA's deadly "crisis of homelessness" and "entrenched structural racism". The validity of that link was underscored by the fact that African-Americans account for only 8% of the general population in the County; yet they account for 42% of the now more than 66,000 unhoused residents.

Judge Carter's lengthy, 110-page decision contains a deep dive into a sordid history of systemic racism in Southern California and its disparate impact on people of color. This, in the Court's view, has given rise to what California Governor Gavin Newson, in his Feb. 19, 2020 State of the State Address, referred to as "the wrenching reality of families, children and seniors living unfed on a concrete bed." The Court condemned the City and County's deliberate decisions to perpetuate unspeakable squalor by attempting to physically contain it within a 50-square-block downtown Skid Row and by policing policies that criminalize homelessness.

The Court described the mishandling of funds intended to provide shelter as the product of "corruption" and "deliberate indifference" towards the unhoused, who suffer from rampant crime, drug addiction, mental illness and deaths caused by all manner of disease. In 2016, for example, LA voters passed a $1.2 billion bond measure that was supposed to create up to 10,000 homes. Over the ensuing four-years, the City erected only 489 housing units (apartments) at a median cost of $531,000 per unit --- units that have been disproportionately occupied by the unhoused who are white.

To rectify this, the Court, by way of a preliminary injunction, ordered an audit of all relief funds and the placement of $1 billion from Mayor Eric Garcetti's "Justice Budget" into an Escrow Account. Judge Carter appointed a Special Master to assist with the implementation of the Court's directives. Despite protestations that they lacked the necessary funds and an objective reality that one can't expect to extract blood from a stone, the Court also ordered the City and County to provide shelter to all unhoused residents within 180 days. (The preliminary injunction will not take effect prior to June 15 by reason of a temporary 9th Circuit administrative stay).

As we observed in 2019, the source of LA's homeless crisis lies not only in a legacy of systemic racism, but also in extreme inequality, which is tied to neoliberal capitalism. This entails a radical form of market fundamentalism, which has been at the center of U.S. economic policies since the Reagan administration.

LA's homelessness crisis will not end absent the federal government's adoption of what former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich has described as "Bidenomics"...

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




Guest: Slate legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Biden soaring in polls, young voters hopeful again about the future...
By Brad Friedman on 4/23/2021 6:27pm PT  

Today on The BradCast, a very ominous sign from the U.S. Supreme Court. Very. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

On Thursday, the Court issued a 6 to 3 opinion in Jones v. Mississippi, which shatters years of established Court precedent that had prevented minors from being charged with life in prison without the possibility of parole in all but the most extraordinary circumstances, and where a judge has specifically made a rare finding that the juvenile's "crimes reflect permanent incorrigibility."

But the ruling by the Court this week --- in a case where a boy, Brett Jones, who had turned 15 days earlier, grew up as "the victim of violence and neglect that he was too young to escape," before snapping and killing one of his abusers just after he had abruptly lost access to the medication he took for mental health issues --- is appalling for a host of reasons.

Not only because, at 31 years old, Jones has since become a reformed, model prisoner in every regard (even the widow of his victim has urged the court for his release); Not only for the 6 to 3 majority decision by all 6 Republicans appointed to the stolen and packed Court; Not only for the opinion itself which will consign more than 1,500 others who committed crimes as children to dying in prison; Not only for the fact that this particular opinion was written for the majority by Justice Brett "What I did when I was young doesn't matter" Kavanaugh (of all people!); Not only for the fact that the decision overturns long-standing, painstaking Court precedents developed over several cases throughout the years; Not only for the fact that the majority simply pretend they did not overturn established legal precedent at all; And not only for the fact that Justice Sotomayor was forced to call the majority out for all of that in the starkest, most savage terms on behalf of the minority (charging the majority "is fooling no one" and "distorts [the precedential cases] beyond recognition", even as she specifically quotes Kavanaugh's very own prior statements on the importance of respecting established legal precedent); But, most troublingly, also for what it may portend in the weeks ahead, much less the years ahead, unless Democrats can quickly, at this point, figure out that they better come to their senses and figure out how to reform the U.S. Supreme Court before we see a boatload of similarly long-held precedents in even more disturbing cases, being completely trashed and overturned by this newly emboldened rightwing Court.

We're joined today by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, our go-to Supreme Court correspondent from Slate, to discuss not only the Jones v. MS case itself, but what we should glean --- and none of it is good --- from how it has just played out before our eyes, now that the stolen majority on the Court has a full three Donald Trump appointees packed onto it.

As the newly emboldened rightwing activist Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court this week merely pretended precedent didn't exist, by essentially adopting dissenting views from the several cases that created the precedents, a newly emboldened rightwing state Supreme Court majority in Florida did something very similar. Stern also reports on that case, concerning a people's ballot initiative on recreational marijuana in the Sunshine State, which also underscores the long GOP Big Lies that they oppose judicial activism or Big Government tyranny.

With those outrages --- and what they portend for an era of rightwing judicial activism this week --- we also discuss the new proposal by Democrats in the House and Senate to expand SCOTUS from 9 Justices to 13, and the "kick-the-can-down-the-road" bipartisan Presidential Commission empaneled by Joe Biden to "study" the idea of reform for both SCOTUS and the federal judiciary as a whole.

Stern closes with a heads up --- a stark warning, in truth --- as to the big decisions still to come from the Court before the session ends in June, on the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare"); foster care by same-sex couples; and a clearly unconstitutional new abortion law (also out of Mississippi) in light of Thursday's appalling decision in Jones v. MS, which Stern categorizes as both "barbaric" and "one of the most dishonest and cynical decisions in recent memory."

Finally, in hopes of leaving you with some slightly brighter news after such a foreboding, grim report from SCOTUS and Stern, we've got some encouraging new polling numbers for Joe Biden. But, much more importantly, from young people who, for the first time in many years, and in rather substantial (even record) numbers across all races, are beginning to feel hopeful about the future again, as they see government as an ally on issues of poverty, combating climate change and on health care.

Hopefully none of them tune in for the earlier part of today's program...

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Also: Genuinely good news from Mars; Good phone calls from listeners...
By Brad Friedman on 4/19/2021 6:05pm PT  

We open up the phones on today's BradCast for a bunch of very good calls, including from a teacher who was back for in-person instruction today for the first time in a year here in Los Angeles; a gun supporter who isn't insane, though we bicker a bit on his actual level of support for democracy as we succeed in finding some common ground; and a caller who survived a mass shooting in Oregon in 2013, among a number of other excellent calls from listeners today. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But first up today, before we get to the phones...

  • Some genuinely not divisive news (at least I think) regarding the first controlled flight of an aircraft on a planet other than Earth (that we know of). The Ingenuity helicopter alit above Mars today for its first test flight after arriving at the red planet hitched to the Perseverance rover. The flight was about 39 seconds in all, and traveled about 10 feet before landing at the newly-christened "Wright Field" on Mars, so named in honor of the Wright Brothers whose own first flight at Kitty Hawk, NC in 1903 was memorialized with a piece of wing fabric from the wings of that historic flight carried aboard the Ingenuity copter.
  • In only slightly more divisive news, President Biden made it official today, announcing that all adults over the age of 16 are now eligible for COVID vaccine shots in all 50 states (as well as D.C. and Puerto Rico). The date for that nation-wide rollout, announced two weeks ago, was moved up from Biden's originally planned deadline of May 1. The news also comes the day after the CDC announced that just over 50% of U.S. adults have now received at least one COVID shot, with 32.5% now fully vaccinated.
  • Next, if you're having trouble keeping up with the spate of one-after-another mass shootings of late, you're not alone. We try to get you all caught up on all of these horrific, arguably avoidable massacres today, including two that each took place over the weekend and took three lives each (one shooting was in Kenosha County, WI and the other, allegedly by a former police detective, in Austin, TX, a state which has seen at least three such incidents over the past month), as well as the latest news following the shooting by a 19-year old at a FedEx plant in Indianapolis that killed eight. In that case, the shooter had been visited last year by police after his mother called with concerns that he might commit "suicide by cop". His pump-action shotgun was confiscated under Indiana's red-flag law which allows officials to take weapons from someone considered to be a danger to themselves or others. But, somehow, the alleged shooter, who killed himself at the scene last Thursday, was able to legally purchase two semi-automatic rifles later last year anyway.

    Not that any of it matters, as long as NRA-funded Republicans, including Indiana's U.S. Senator Todd Young, are willing to pretend that this is a "mental health" issue (even as his party has spent the past decade trying to take such health care away from tens of millions of Americans) as opposed to a guns availability issue.

    In all, there were at least 9 such mass shootings over the past month, in Georgia, Colorado, Maryland, California, South Carolina, Texas, Indiana and Wisconsin. And yet, Republicans in the U.S. Senate, still doing the bidding of the terrorist-loving NRA, still refuse to allow any votes in the U.S. Senate on any gun safety measures. That includes even the lowest hanging fruit, such as closing background check loopholes which is even supported even by some 90% of NRA members (if not by their corrupt leadership).

  • Finally, we had so many folks calling in on all of the above, that I threw over my plans to discuss the outrageous and violent attacks on journalists (and their First Amendment rights) by the Minnesota State Police in Brooklyn Center, MN, where protests continue on the heels of last week's killing of Daunte Wright, a black motorist during a routine traffic stop, by a 26-veteran cop on the local police force.

    As noted, tune in today for some great calls --- all of which remained shockingly civil and arguably constructive --- from the teacher, the gun supporter, the mass shooting survivor and many more...

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Congress and courts are still ignoring the full text of the Amendment, as penned by the Founders, to prevent any and all gun safety legislation...
By Ernest A. Canning on 4/19/2021 9:35am PT  

Nearly nine years ago, we published an article called "High Cost of Willfully Misinterpreting the 2nd Amendment." It highlighted the compelling U.S. Supreme Court dissents written by the late Justice John Paul Stevens and Justice Stephen Breyer in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) --- a 5 - 4 decision in which the Court's right-wing majority overruled a 1939 SCOTUS precedent by ruling, for the first time in our nation's history, that the Second Amendment created an individual's right to possess a firearm unconnected to service in a State militia.

Our coverage was written against the backdrop of that year's midnight massacre where one individual, sporting body armor and an AR-15 assault rifle with a high-capacity, 100-round drum magazine capable of firing between 50-60 rounds/minute, murdered 16 people and wounded 58 inside an Aurora, CO movie theater. The 2012 article was also written against the backdrop of the large number of mass shootings within the U.S. that could, at that time, be sharply contrasted with what had transpired in Australia.

Following what became known as the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre in Australia --- where a lone gunman, sporting an AR-15, murdered 35 people --- the country enacted strict gun laws that included a gun buy-back program. The result: Australia did not experience a single mass shooting over the next 20 years.

Over these past nine years in this country, Congressional Republicans, who, in 2004, refused to extend the successful 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, continued to oppose any and all forms of gun safety legislation. Not coincidentally, the carnage wrought by the radical assertion of an unfettered individual "right" to bear arms helped lead to more than 600 mass shootings in the U.S. over the course of the 366 leap year days in 2020, according to a The New York Times database. There were, according to Wikipedia's Mass Shooting Tracker project, 150 U.S. mass shootings, producing 148 deaths while wounding 485, over the first 106 days in 2021.

With that in mind, as the unrelenting death toll mounts in the U.S., revisiting our earlier analysis is once again apropos...

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




Guest: Slate's legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Virginia is no longer for death penalty lovers...
By Brad Friedman on 2/24/2021 6:24pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Try as they did, Donald Trump and the Republican Party were unable to steal the 2020 Presidential election. But they've got their plans in place for how to try and do it next time. They just need their currently stolen and packed Republican U.S. Supreme Court majority to help them pull it off. This week, SCOTUS chose not to do so --- even if they may in the future. But, in a separate decision, the Court did radically help increase the odds that our disgraced former President could be headed to jail before he's even able to run for office again. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

But first up today, some good news out of Virginia, where more people have been put to death by the Commonwealth's government than in any other state in the nation. Since their founding as a colony in 1608, some 1,390 people have been executed by the government there. Since SCOTUS reinstated the death penalty in 1976, Virginia has executed 113 people. That is more than any other state but Texas. This week, however, following Democrats gaining majorities in both chambers of the legislature, Virginia will now become the first Southern state --- and the 23rd in the union --- to abolish the abhorrent practice. And not a moment too soon, particularly given the systemic racism of their death penalty practices. For example, as the Death Penalty Information Center pointed out to Washington Post this week, "From 1900 to 1969...Virginia did not execute a single White person for any offense that did not result in death, while 73 Black men were executed for rape, attempted rape or robbery." So, yeah. Very good news out of Virginia this week, as Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam prepares to sign the long-overdue measures finally adopted by the state legislature.

Speaking of state legislatures, on yesterday's BradCast, we reported on this week's decision by SCOTUS to purge a bunch of held over Trump/GOP challenges to the 2020 election. Cases from Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia and Arizona were all dismissed as moot. But dismissal of the Pennsylvania cases found three Justices --- Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch --- in dissent [PDF]. The two nearly identical cases in question had challenged the PA state Supreme Court's decision to extend the deadline [PDF] for the return of absentee ballots by three days after Election Day, due to the pandemic, slowdowns by the U.S. Postal Service and a provision in their state constitution mandating fair elections.

With all of their many other attempts to steal the 2020 election having failed, the GOP has now latched on to a radical interpretation of the U.S. Constitution's Elections Clause to argue that only state legislatures --- not Governors, not Secretaries of State, not State Elections Board or even state Supreme Courts --- may set any procedure for federal elections. Therefore, the Trumpers argued in their now-dismissed Pennsylvania challenges, the three day extension by the PA Supreme Court to enforce their state's Constitution by allowing for the arrival of late mail-in ballots cast by Election Day, was an unlawful violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Though no SCOTUS majority has ever affirmed this extreme reading of the federal Constitution, this is what many Republicans have now decided to believe to make themselves feel better after losing last November. In Pennsylvania, however, there were only 10,000 late arriving ballots and Joe Biden won the Keystone State by about 80,000. So SCOTUS decided the issue was moot and dismissed the cases. But Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch argued the case should have been heard anyway.

"A decision in these cases would not have any implications regarding the 2020 election," Alito wrote in dissent. "But a decision would provide invaluable guidance for future elections." On yesterday's program, I actually agreed with Alito and explained why.

Today, for a counter-point, we're joined by Slate's great legal journalist MARK JOSEPH STERN who offered a very different view from mine in his own coverage of Monday's decision by the high court. While justifiably destroying Justice Thomas' solo dissent in which he argued that mail-in ballots are bad even if there is no fraud, simply because people may think there is fraud, Stern also argued that SCOTUS was right to dismiss the case, rather than hear it. In part, he argues, that's because this Court has been packed so far to the extreme right. "We should be very afraid of what the Court would say," he tells me. "And that fear is enough for us to just hope that the Justices put off a decision on this matter for as long as humanly possible."

But I disagree with Stern and, in a very spirited debate, explain why. Who wins that one? Tune in and decide for yourself.

Stern also comments today on whether our failed former President should be concerned that his own packed and stolen U.S. Supreme Court, in an apparently unanimous decision on Monday, finally allowed Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance to obtain Trump's financial and tax records as part of Vance's grand jury criminal probe into alleged bank, tax and insurance fraud by Trump and his organization. In short, Stern asserts, "the answer is yes," Trump should be very concerned. "They're looking at felony offenses here, not just civil offenses, run-of-the-mill white collar stuff, but serious crimes. I do think there's a serious chance that we could see an indictment of Donald Trump coming down the pipeline in the near future." Though he does add a caveat or two.

Of even more immediate concern, Stern recently wrote, Trump's efforts to interfere with Georgia's election results --- for example, cajoling and threatening the state's Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to "find" enough votes to declare him the winner --- could spell trouble, and even jail time, even sooner.

"You'll see some people argue that Trump can't be convicted under this law --- the ban on criminal solicitation of election fraud --- because he didn't have the requisite state of mind, because he didn't actually want the Sec. of State to falsify records because he was deluded enough to believe that there were actually 12,000 secret votes for him out there that could be found. That's a question for the jury, that's not a question for the prosecutors or the grand jury. That is something Trump could argue at a criminal trial," says Stern, before adding: "I think that any reasonable reading of that transcript proves that Trump was, in fact, looking for the Secretary of State to falsify records, to commit election fraud. It is very difficult to read those sentences in any other way."

He explains why Trump could soon be looking at anywhere from 1 to 3 years in that criminal probe by the Fulton County (Atlanta) District Attorney and whether he thinks it is actually possible that a former President of the United States may actually receive prison time before all of this is said and done...

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Guest: National Security blogger Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel; Also: SCOTUS rejects GOP challenge to PA's 2020 election results; GA Repubs move new vote suppression measures forward...
By Brad Friedman on 2/23/2021 6:45pm PT  

By a number of happily surprising measures, the confirmation of Joe Biden's Attorney General nominee is going very well. Perhaps even better than expected, according to our guest on today's BradCast.  And, best yet, it may even result in some serious consequences for our former President. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But, first up today...The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday finally dismissed a bunch of silly and/or meritless MAGA challenges to the 2020 Presidential elections results in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia and Arizona. But the case out of Pennsylvania, in which dissents [PDF] to its dismissal were offered by Justices Clarence Thomas, Sam Alito and Neil Gorsuch, warrants notice. The case argued that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in ordering [PDF] a three-day extension for the arrival of mail-in ballots, prior to the November 2020 election, violated the U.S. Constitution. The PA Supremes found that, given the pandemic and slow-downs in mail delivery by the U.S. Postal Service, the state's deadline for ballots to arrive by the close of polls at 8pm on Election Night violated their own state constitution's mandate for fair elections. The Republican challenge to their ruling charged that the state high court was in violation of a radical interpretation of the U.S. Constitution's Elections Clause allowing "The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections" for federal office "shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof".

That, their argument goes, means that only state legislatures may set any provision whatsoever pertaining to elections. Any such procedure set by a Secretary of State or Governor or even a state Supreme Court is therefore unconstitutional on the federal level. Or so the GOP is now claiming. It is, for several reasons, a ridiculous argument. But it is one that has been given new life in the Trump Era as desperate Republicans took their cue from the former President to come up with any reason whatsoever to nullify election results they didn't like.  There are now at least three, arguably four, Justices on our stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court who appear to buy into the radical argument. Nonetheless, the case was dismissed on Monday on the grounds that the matter was moot. (There were about 10,000 late arriving ballots in PA last November, and Biden won the state by about 80,000 votes.) But, without an election hanging in the balance, the dissenters noted that this case would have been an ideal moment to settle this matter. Oddly enough, I actually agree on that last point with Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch, and we discuss why on today's show.

That, as GOP-controlled legislatures around the country continue to move forward with new voter suppression schemes following their loss on the Presidential level in 2020. Today for example, Georgia's Republican-majority Senate approved a measure that would require a copy of a Photo ID to even request a mail-in ballot. And that's just the start of what the state's wingnut legislature is now up to, after having recently lost the Presidential race and two U.S. Senate seats in the Peach State.

All of which underscores again the critical need for Congress to pass HR-1, the "For the People Act," which would go a long way toward blocking the new GOP attacks on the right to vote. To do that, of course, Democrats in the Senate will need to end the filibuster. And to do that, Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema will have to come to understand how they are allowing these overt attacks on democracy itself to worsen at the state level, as they protect the undemocratic Jim Crow-era filibuster.

Then, we're joined by longtime national security and accountability blogger MARCY WHEELER of Emptywheel, who has now moved to Ireland for reasons that she explains on today's program. The real reason we wanted to catch up with her, however, is to discuss the ongoing confirmation process for Biden's AG-designate Merrick Garland --- who completed his GOP-stalled second day of testimony in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday and to discuss Monday's unanimous ruling by SCOTUS that Trump's financial documents must now be handed over to the Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, Jr., for his criminal probe into alleged tax, bank and insurance fraud by Trump and his organization, as well as the unlawful conspiracy he directed involving hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.

Is Trump soon to face very real accountability that could actually include jail time? Whether it's in the New York state case, another criminal investigation into his election interference in Georgia, or even under AG Garland's promised federal response to the conspiracy to take over the U.S. Capitol on January 6th?

Wheeler has lots of thoughts on all of the above on today's BradCast --- and you probably won't be angry about (most of) them. I'll share just one of them for now here, regarding those charged for conspiracy for the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol: "All of these defendants, one after another, saying 'I was just swept up by the inflammatory language of the then-President. That may be true, but it doesn't get them off for the crime. But if one after another are saying 'Trump made me do it,' then at some point you've got to respond to that."

Now may be a good time to brush up on the legal meaning of the phrase "seditious conspiracy."

Finally, we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, on the continuing fall out from the Texas power and water failure over the past week, the fossil fuel-funded GOPers who lied about it, and the not-a-moment-too-soon official U.S. return to the Paris Climate Agreement...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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