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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, April 18, 2024
SCOTUS Suddenly Worried About Overcriminalization ... for J6 Insurrectionists: 'BradCast' 4/17/24
Guest: LawDork's Chris Geidner; Also: GOP impeachment ends; Turnout doubles in AL...
'Trump Media' Plummeting, MAGA Buyers Losing Life Savings: 'BradCast' 4/16/24
Also: Trump's ridiculous 'immunity'; 7 jurors seated in NY criminal trial; Repubs deliver impeachment to Senate; Smartmatic, OAN settle 2020 defamation suit...
'Green News Report' 4/16/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Record ocean heat bleaching corals worldwide; EV charging roads in Indiana; Biden raising drilling, mining royalties for first time in a century; PLUS: A marine mystery in Florida...
Previous GNRs: 4/11/24 - 4/9/24 - Archives...
Trump's First Criminal Trial, for Cheating in 2016, Begins in NY: 'BradCast' 4/15/24
Special coverage of an historic day with Heather Digby Parton of Salon, attorney Keith Barber of Daily Kos...
Sunday 'Party Like It's 1864' Toons
THIS WEEK: Bad politics, good toonery and at least one wake-up call, in our latest collection of the week's best toons!...
Biden Closes 'Gun Show Loophole'; Repubs Turn Desperate: 'BradCast' 4/11/24
RNC Chair says Ukraine our enemy; GA Lt. Guv faces probe; Fox hides AZ abortion ruling, Hannity blames Dems; WI Justice to retire...
'Green News Report' 4/11/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
10th hottest month ever in a row; Swiss climate inaction violates human rights; PLUS: EPA crack down on airborne chemical plant pollution, 'forever chemicals' in drinking water...
Previous GNRs: 4/9/24 - 4/4/24 - Archives...
'Pink Slime': Fake 'Local News' Sites Proliferating in Advance of Election: 'BradCast' 4/10/24
Guest: Alex Mahadevan; Also: Trump CFO back to jail; GOP chaos, panic after AZ's 1864 abortion ban restored...
Dirty Tricks and the Dirtiest Candidate Of All Time: 'BradCast' 4/9/24
A CA three-way!; Polls shift toward Biden; RW scam artists pay the price; Trump rejected again in NY criminal case, facing trouble for phony $175M bond in NY civil case...
'Green News Report' 4/9/24
Big hurricane season coming; Colorado River used mostly for cattle; Good news for CA snowpack, for now; PLUS: Disney's Tomorrowland says goodbye to Yesterdayville...
'Titanic Law' Reform Just Tip of Iceberg in Quest for Key Bridge Accountability: 'BradCast' 4/8/24
Guest: Helen Santoro; Also: Media echo Trump abortion lies; Biden's new debt relief for 30M...
Sunday 'Dark Days Indeed' Toons
FEATURING: The Eclipse! Disinformation! 'Victimless' Crimes! And much more in our latest collection of the week's darkest toons...
Trump's Very Bad Day in Court(s), Other Good (& Less Good) News: 'BradCast' 4/4
No Labels out; Soft sentence for vote fraudster; WI reconsiders drop-boxes; NE nixes Elctrl College change; Biden v. Israel; Sanders, Biden tout drug price success...
'Green News Report' 4/4/24
Hunger crisis amid drought in Africa; Biden invests billions to decarbonize manufacturing; Melting ice is bending time; America's first commercial-scale offshore wind farm...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: David Dayen of The American Prospect; Also: Biden forgives another $9B in student loans; Jordan, Scalise to run for Speaker; Republicans try to blame Dems for Repub removal of McCarthy...
By Brad Friedman on 10/4/2023 6:47pm PT  

The corrupt House GOP is in shambles but, for some reason, the corrupt Republicans at SCOTUS appear to have momentarily lost the plot, as all discussed on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

We begin where we left off yesterday, as the historic and stunning news had just broken that far-right Republican members succeeded in their scheme to unseat Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the U.S. House. Moments later, he announced he would not run again for the position. Then, after Republicans adjourned the House until next Tuesday to try and regroup, they immediately began trying to blame Democrats for the Republican coup. They even kicked former Speaker Nancy Pelosi out of her Capitol office, despite her being in California yesterday for Sen. Dianne Feinstein's funeral.

Of course, despite GOP politicians and pundits hoping to blame Dems for their own failure, none of it was evidence of Democratic genius, but of a thoroughly broken Republican party. They may not yet have noticed --- or care to admit it to themselves --- but the party has been collapsing for years under the strain of its own corruption, lack of self awareness, dedication to an autocratic cult leader, and its own toxic mix of of victim-hood, grievance, entitlement, rage and revenge.

Today, far-right Republicans Jim Jordan of Ohio and Steve Scalise of Louisiana tossed their hat into the ring to become the next Speaker. Others may jump in before next week. It may take even more than the record 15 rounds of voting the Republicans needed just nine months ago in January to install McCarthy as their new, if short-lived Speaker.

While the GOP continues to fall apart, the White House continues to fight for Americans by battling back against the corrupted rightwing U.S. Supreme Court. On Wednesday, the Biden Administration announced another $9 billion of student loan debt relief, for a total of $127 billion in loan forgiveness to date for some 3.6 million borrowers. That, as the Administration reformulates a plan to forgive the debt of tens of millions of Americans after SCOTUS made up a reason out of whole cloth earlier this year to reject Biden's previous plan.

But SCOTUS, as their new term got under way on Monday, has already unleashed some surprises. On Monday, the most corrupt Justice on the Court, Clarence Thomas, actually did the right thing and recused himself from a case where he obviously should have. (Are you okay, Clarence?) And on Tuesday, the majority of the Court, including Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh and several other rightwingers, appeared to push back hard against the attempt by Payday Lenders to dismantle the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) entirely on wildly dubious grounds.

The effort to undo the CFPB was actually spearheaded by rightwing extremists on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, arguably the most "conservative" (and corrupt) appellate court in the nation. They used a narrow lawsuit by the lenders to declare the CFPB's entire funding mechanism to somehow be unconstitutional, even though, when the consumer bureau was stood up, as the brainchild of Elizabeth Warren during the Obama Administration (before she went on to become a U.S. Senator), its funding mechanism was similar to many other quasi-independent Executive Branch agencies since the founding of the republic.

Thomas noted during oral argument on Tuesday that he did not see "a Constitutional problem" with the funding mechanism. Kavanaugh observed that Congress could change it "tomorrow" if they had a problem with it. Justice Elana Kagan charged the claims of the case were "flying in the face of 250 years of history." Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, at one point, characterized the challenger's argument to say that "a provision of the Constitution is unconstitutional."

In short, it didn't go well for the lenders or Donald Trump's former Solicitor General who represented them at SCOTUS.

We're joined today to discuss what happened and what it all means --- including for other Executive Branch agencies that the right is similarly hoping to see dismantled, piece by piece, by the Judicial Branch --- by progressive financial journalist, author and Executive Editor of The American Prospect, DAVID DAYEN. He wrote a award-winning 2016 book about the same 2008 financial crisis that spurred the creation of the CFPB.

As Dayen explains today, the agency was created by Congress specifically to protect American consumers against scams by payday lenders, banks, credit card companies and other corporations. It receives its annual funding via the Federal Reserve, with a cap set by Congress. He argues that this case "threatens practically every consumer financial transaction that is made in the country."

After citing dozens of other federal agencies that are not funded via annual appropriates by Congress itself, Dayen asks, "If CFPB is unconstitutional, why wouldn't all these other things also be unconstitutional? In fact, there are plenty of other programs that are not funded by direct annual appropriations by Congress. I'll give you two big ones: Medicare and Social Security. They are mandatory spending. 60% of the federal budget is funded this way. Are they also unconstitutional because they are not exclusively funded by Congress?"

The 5th Circuit, he notes, "made this one ruling trying to help out payday lenders, but it really affects the functioning of daily life." The right has been gunning for the CFPB ever since its creation, and this case was supposed to be the one that finally killed it once and for all. But, Dayen suggests, with the caveat that anything could happen with this Court, after yesterday's argument at SCOTUS, he doesn't see the five votes that would be needed there to kill the CFPB...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Hard right moves to vacate, Dems stay united, next steps unclear; Also: Trump gag order in NY; John Kelly confirms Trump attacks on military, vets; Milley slams former Prez as 'wannabe dictator'...
By Brad Friedman on 10/3/2023 6:16pm PT  

Breaking just before air on today's BradCast: Yup. More GOP chaos in Congress. But I'm sure, by week's end, it'll all be the Democrats' fault somehow. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

In the wake of House Dems helping to keep the federal government from a shutdown over the weekend by voting in support of then House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's last-minute, 45-day Continuing Resolution to keep the government open until the GOP's warring factions can pass a budget, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz filed a Motion to Vacate against the Speaker of the House on Monday. By Tuesday afternoon, just before airtime, McCarthy was ousted in a dramatic 216 - 210 floor vote.

Gaetz and 7 other far-right Republicans joined all Democrats in voting to vacate the Office of Speaker of the House. It was a first in U.S. history.

Of course, we all saw it coming when McCarthy agreed to a deal with the farthest rightwing members of his own caucus in January to allow a single member to file a Motion to Vacate. It was one of many concessions by McCarthy in exchange for allowing him to become Speaker last on the 15th ballot. Moreover, he did himself few favors with the opposition party by breaking many promises with Biden and the Democrats regarding the shutdown, an absurd, evidence-free Impeachment Inquiry and more.

What happens next? That is completely unclear as of this hour, and as we scrambled to cover the historic news while still salvaging at least part of our previously planned program.

As the Republican Party falls apart in Congress, so does the life of the Republican front-runner for the 2024 Presidential nomination. Among our other stories, breaking or otherwise, today...

  • The judge in New York overseeing the state's $250 million civil fraud trial against Donald Trump, his company and two of his sons issued a gag order against the former President on Tuesday, after he targeted the judge's law clerk this afternoon in a social media posting and in an email blast to supporters.
  • Picking up on our continuing coverage of the racketeering case against Trump and 18 co-defendants in Georgia, related to their broad, failed conspiracy to steal the 2020 election in the Peach State, there was bad news in court on Friday for at least four of the co-defendants. We explain.
  • Retired U.S. Marine Corps General, former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and Trump's second and longest-serving Chief of Staff, John Kelly, finally went on record today to confirm his direct knowledge of a number of Trump's long-reported attacks against military members and veterans, including by describing them as "suckers" and "losers".
  • Kelly's devastating, if long-overdue, on-the-record remarks came in the wake of Trump's recent attack against General Mark Milley, Trump's Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who the former President recently charged with committing "treason", a crime punishable by execution. For his part, Milley, whose four-year term expired last week, offered thinly-veiled, if striking and piqued remarks during his Farewell Address late last week. Without mentioning Trump by name, while describing the uniqueness of the American military's mission to protect the nation and our democracy by taking an oath to protect the Constitution, Milley railed: "We don't take an oath to a country. We don't take an oath to a tribe. We don't take an oath to a religion. We don't take an oath to a king or a queen or to a tyrant or a dictator, and we don't take an oath to a wannabe dictator!" While those comments have received a fair amount of attention by the media, Milley had much more to say along those lines. We share a bit more of his remarks that are worth hearing today.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, after New York saw its third 100-year flood in the past two years over the weekend; extreme heatwaves shattered September records; climate change is straining the home insurance bubble; and Norway's effort to move to 100% electric vehicles is all but complete...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Author, historian, political scientist Norm Ornstein; Also: Gobsmacking details from NY state fraud ruling against Trump family; Late-night shows returning!...
By Brad Friedman on 9/27/2023 5:52pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A couple of follow-ups and a deep dive into what almost certainly lies ahead beginning this weekend, including who is likely to be blamed for it, who may or may not still have a job when all is said and done, and what the cost is likely to be to the American people. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

FIRST UP: The news broke just before airtime on yesterday's program, but I've now had time to read Tuesday's full, breathtaking court ruling [PDF] which seemed impossible to believe as it broke yesterday. But, yes, Judge Arthur Engoron's summary judgement ruling in New York state's $250 million fraud case against Donald Trump and his company and his two eldest sons is as brutal, if not more so, than we initially reported it yesterday.

In addition to utterly obliterating the case presented by defendants --- as "pure sophistry", "not relevant", "patently false", "fatally flawed", "simply untrue", "completely irrelevant," and "frivolous", among other things, some of which we share today --- Engoron details several of the eye-popping fraudulent lies told in years of Statements of Financial Condition (SFCs) signed off on by Trump in applications for bank loans. Breathtakingly inflated overvaluations of his key properties, including by 2,300% at Mar-a-Lago alone, where Palm Beach County assessed the property to be valued anywhere from $18 to 27.6 million in the years from 2011 to 2021. During those same years, Trump's SFCs said the property was worth from $426 to $612 million!

In total, the fraudulent overvaluations documented by the suit, just in the years in question, total anywhere from $812 million to $2.2 billion. "Even in the world of high finance," writes the Judge in response to defendants attempts to marginalize the false statements, "this Court cannot endorse a proposition that finds a misstatement of at least $812 million dollars to be 'immaterial'."

Each of the Trump properties seem to be "owned" by Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs) created by the Trump Organization to manage each of them. And, yes, the result of yesterday's ruling --- which we couldn't believe as it was breaking, but have now been able to confirm in the actual court order --- is that the Judge has ordered NY business certificates "controlled or beneficially owned by Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., Eric Trump, Allen Weisselberg, and Jeffrey McConney" to be "canceled". He has also ordered "independent receivers to manage the dissolution of the cancelled LLCs."

All of that on summary judgement before the non-jury trial, to be decided by the very same judge, begins on Monday. Youch. There is, of course, the possibility for appeals and such. But it is kinda remarkable how Tuesday's ruling has sort of been downplayed by many of the corporate media outlets. Perhaps they can't believe it either.

Before we get to our guest today on a completely different topic, more good news as the Writers Guild of America approved their new contract with major corporate producers on Tuesday after a nearly 150-day strike. That now clears the way for a bunch of late-night shows to finally return to the air beginning this weekend and by Monday. Some shows and most films will still be largely paused as the actors union remains on strike against the studios.

NEXT UP: A federal government shutdown is now all but certain to begin as of Saturday, thanks to far-right Republicans in the House who are unable to strike a deal amongst themselves for a short-term Continuing Resolution, much less a full budget package for the new fiscal year. Nonetheless, a new poll out this morning suggests that while 1 in 3 Americans blame Republicans, 2 out of 3 are blaming either Democrats or President Biden for the shutdown?!? Seriously?!? How can that be?!?

To help make some sense out of all of this and what is about to happen and what its historical antecedents may be, we're joined today for a great conversation by author, columnist, political scientist, and longtime Congressional historian NORM ORNSTEIN of the American Enterprise Institute. He blames the corporate media's terrible "both sides", "access journalism" coverage for the mistargeting of blame by Americans for a shutdown by Republicans.

"It's entirely on House Republicans, egged on by Donald Trump," he explains. "These people want a shutdown. Because this is not an ideology. It is a theology. The theology is that government is evil, government is bad, lose government, we get freedom, without regard to the realities in the real world and on the ground. They are very happy to have chaos out there."

Ornstein also charges that the GOP, claiming to seek government spending cuts, are "hypocrites" because shutdowns end up costing the government money while hurting actual Americans. "This is not a harm-free zone we're entering into," he warns. "Not only does it not save the government money. In some instances, because functions will be postponed, maintenance will not be done, ultimately it will cost more. They're hypocrites, at minimum. They're not really talking about savings for the government. They're talking about bringing the whole mechanism down because they hate government."

While Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is unable to wrangle his own caucus to even adopt a short term spending package to keep the government open as talks continue, he is also threatened with removal from his post as Speaker by the farthest right elements in the House. Ornstein offers some historical comparisons to this extraordinary moment, and argues that McCarthy "is in deep trouble."

"This movement towards using the threat of chaos, of shutdown, of default, as hostages" by Republicans in recent years, has "resulted in absolutely nothing happening. No concessions. Just the disruption." In recent years, he says, "we have been on a trajectory that is leading us further and further away from adults --- at least those that understand that no one is going to gain politically from a shutdown --- to a position now where we are basically being driven by the lunatic fringe."

He has, as ever, much more to help clarify on all of this today. All of it, as usual, well worth tuning in for...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Biden, Zelenskyy fight for democracy at U.N.; House GOP in 'civil war' as government shutdown looms, impeachment scam moves forward...
By Brad Friedman on 9/19/2023 6:53pm PT  

Thanks to the billionaire-funded rightwing media machine (and much of the corporate media that is a part of it), it remains all too easy to muddy enough waters to fool a huge chunk of the American people these days with evil, lies and bad faith. All we can do is hold on for dear life on The BradCast each day and hope that pushing back with facts and truth ultimately wins out over evil, bad faith and lies. [Audio link to full program follows below this summary.]

On today's program...

  • President Biden made an impassioned case to world leaders for continuing support for Ukraine's existential battle against Russia's evil and lies --- and in defense of democracy --- at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday. He also called for uniting the world against our ever-worsening climate crisis.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also addressed the same body to make his own impassioned case that his nation's battle against the barbaric, 19-month invasion by autocratic neighboring Russia is, in fact, a warning for other democracies around the world.
  • Here at home, U.S. House Republicans --- who have become alarmingly pro-Putin, pro-Russia and pro-autocracy --- are now eating themselves alive. It seems increasingly unlikely that they can even come to an agreement among their own warring factions to adopt a measure to simply keep the government open and funded after the federal fiscal year ends next week. It is unclear that many of them even want to. As Democratic House Leader Hakeem Jeffries aptly observed over the weekend, the House GOP is now "in the middle of a civil war."
  • So, what is Speaker Kevin McCarthy's plan to get out of this mess by October 1, when his extremist GOP caucus threatens to shut down the government without, at the very least, adopting a Continuing Resolution to stay open for another 30 days so Republicans can negotiate with themselves? Impeachment of Joe Biden, of course! (Spoiler alert: There is still no evidence of either high crimes or misdemeanors, but that may not matter. As we discuss, this is the very same playbook that did in Hillary Clinton with "but her emails!" and, back in 2004, John Kerry with that swiftboat nonsense. Apparently, the American people are very easy to fool. Do Democrats have a plan in response?)
  • Finally, speaking of being fooled again, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as California pushes back, in court, against Big Oil's decades of deadly climate lies. As Gov. Gavin Newsom explained when announcing the state's lawsuit against five of the largest fossil fuel companies: "These guys have been playing us for fools. They've been playing all of us for fools."

Don't get fooled again.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: David Roberts, climate and energy journalist; Also: Senate Repubs don't think much of McCarthy's Impeachment Inquiry either...
By Brad Friedman on 9/13/2023 6:59pm PT  

The landmark federal climate bill called the Inflation Reduction Act, adopted last year without a single Republican vote when Democrats held majorities in both chambers of Congress, has a long way to go before we can determine its full success or failure.

On the other hand, as discussed on today's BradCast, if it is going well, but few Americans know it's going well --- as corporate broadcast media spend nearly 24 hours a day on various crises both manufactured and real (ironically, many caused by climate change!) --- can it or will it make a difference in next year's elections? [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, FIRST UP today, one (or more) of those manufactured crises. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's desperate attempt on Tuesday to win over his own far-right caucus in the House by unilaterally declaring an impeachment inquiry of President Joe Biden doesn't seem to be going over very well. He had to break his own vow, made just 11 days ago, to do it only after a full vote of the House. It doesn't seem to be winning over enough colleagues to help him avoid a federal Government shutdown at the beginning of the new fiscal year on October 1. And even fellow Republicans in the U.S. Senate apparently see no evidence of High Crimes or Misdemeanors by the President to warrant impeachment.

On the other hand, he hasn't been pushed out of Speaker job by his own party this week...yet. So there's that!

NEXT: Biden and the Democrats' landmark Inflation Reduction Act --- featuring the largest single investment in history in climate change mitigation and clean energy manufacturing and jobs --- is now one year old. It has already begun to "turbocharging" a massive investment in new manufacturing plants and jobs in the U.S. to help reduce fossil fuel carbon emissions causing our climate crisis. It will soon be funding billions of dollars in home improvement projects to allow low and middle-income homeowners to electrify, solarize, upgrade and simply increase energy efficiency to save money. (NOTE: Not currently applicable in states like Florida, Kentucky, Iowa or South Dakota, apparently, which have failed to join the federal program to help their own residents save money and improve their home values while fighting climate change.)

Our guest today to discuss all of this is the great DAVID ROBERTS, longtime climate, energy and politics journalist and podcaster at Volts.WTF. We last spoke to him a year ago, just after passage of the critical legislation.

He explains today that it is still "too early to tell" whether the legislation is a success or not given all of its many practical objectives, which include vastly lowering emissions, creating millions of good paying jobs, sparking a manufacturing renaissance in the U.S. to bring supply chains home for renewable energy technology and overtaking China's dominance in the sector.

"Because the IRA's goals are so vast," Roberts explains, "it will only be over the course of five to ten years that we really have any understanding of whether it pulled it off. It's trying to do enormous things."

"What we definitely can say," however, is "that one of the goals --- which was to spur private investment into these products and supply chains in the U.S. --- is absolutely working. Last I looked, it's like $270 billion-worth of private investment flooding into the U.S."

But the yardstick for success here may be even longer than you think, according to Roberts. He tells me there is yet another goal for the legislation that is "not as public, but, if you talk to some Biden people behind the scenes, they will tell you that this apocalyptic terror you have about the future of democracy is not crazy."

"We are in a perilous, perilous moment. And part of the thinking behind IRA was that it is these parts of the country that were hollowed out by globalization, hollowed out by decades of reflexive 'free trade' dogma --- it's these parts of the county that have experienced this reactionary backlash that we've all been living through over the past little while. And if that goes on, U.S. democracy is in serious, existential trouble. People are freaked out about that all the way to the top. So, part of the goal of IRA was to channel investment into those areas. And that is happening."

Roberts says that much of the new investment "is coming into Southern and Midwestern states," including by companies like First Solar, which is "investing $1.2 billion into a facility in Louisiana. That is the single largest private investment in that state's history." Similar projects are happening in states like Georgia, West Virginia and elsewhere.

So, all we need to assess success of this enormous new law is whether it helps solves both of the nation's most existential crises: Democracy and Climate Change.

"Spurring investment, yes, it is succeeding. Is it succeeding in muting that reactionary backlash? Is it succeeding in muting these horrendous politics we've dealt with? Is it succeeding in turning a few swing voters in those swing states to help Joe Biden get back into office? That we don't know yet. And part of the problem is that our media ecosystem is broken and dysfunctional, and people just don't know about [the law]."

How to solve that? Well, as you can tell, we've got much to discuss today with Roberts along those lines as well, as he characterizes that part of issue as "the six million question" given "how broken the media is, and how difficult it is to get it to focus on these things."

He's got a few ideas, however, some involve "a huge role for NGOs, for the green movement" and even for you, as the climate, economic and political effects of the IRA one year on are still "TBD"...

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Guest: Author, redistricting expert David Daley of FairVote; Also: House Republicans mutiny against House Republicans...
By Brad Friedman on 6/8/2023 6:26pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Yes, some actual, unqualified good and, frankly, surprisingly good news from our otherwise wildly corrupted U.S. Supreme Court on voting rights and racial gerrymandering! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Last year, following oral argument at the High Court in Allen v. Milligan, a Voting Rights Act challenge in Alabama, pretty much all Court watchers and voting rights advocates thought that Section 2 of the VRA was in big, big trouble. That, after the Supremes had already gutted Section 5 of the Act in the Shelby County case back in 2013 and have been nibbling away at the rest of the landmark 1965 law ever since.

But on Thursday, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh actually joined with the Court's three liberals in a 5 to 4 majority opinion [PDF], upholding a lower court ruling by a three-judge panel --- including two Trump appointees --- which had determined that Alabama must rewrite its redistricted Congressional maps after the 2020 Census to include a second majority Black U.S. House District.

Early last year SCOTUS had used the "shadow docket" to temporarily put the lower court's ruling on hold without a hearing, allowing the 2022 elections to move forward with just one out of AL's seven U.S. House Districts having a Black majority, despite African-Americans comprising some 27% of the state's population. That ruling --- along with tea leaves read from oral argument last year and Roberts' history of working to dismantle the VRA --- led many to believe the Court would permanently allow the state's racial gerrymander to remain in place, effectively overturning the ban on election laws and House maps created with a racially discriminatory intent.

Alabama's GOP gerrymander had been challenged as a violation of both the Constitution and Section 2 of the VRA, after the Supremes' previous gutting of Section 5 of the Act removed the mandate for jurisdictions to demonstrate in advance that new election laws did not discriminate on the basis of race. Challenges under the Act may still be filed under Section 2, but only after the discriminatory voting measure has been enacted.

The Court's actions last year also allowed similar racial gerrymanders in several other states, including Louisiana, Georgia, Texas and elsewhere, resulting in the GOP winning a razor-thin 5-seat majority in the U.S. House in November.

Thursday's stunning decision, according to experts, could net Democrats as many as four or more seats in the House in the 2024 elections, and is likely to affect ongoing legal challenges in as many as 10 states.

Our guest on today's program believes that, "Gerrymandering and redistricting was one of the big reasons why Republicans probably had about a net gain of between 12 and 15 seats [last year] when you look at the various partisan gerrymanders and the various racial gerrymanders that the Court allowed."

We're joined today to discuss all of this, the details of how it happened, and what it appears to mean going by forward by a stunned DAVID DALEY of FairVote, where he is an expert on gerrymandering and author of two different books on the topic.

"I don't even know what to say," Daley explains at the top of our conversation. "I'm so used to delivering the bad news, and all of a sudden I'm a doctor telling you you're going to live forever. This is an unusual role for me."

But, don't worry. Daley is still able to share a number of concerns about several other cases with opinions coming soon from SCOTUS, despite today's unreservedly good news for voters, voting rights, and the future of the not-dead-yet Voting Rights Act!

THEN, with today's excellent news that may well result in Democrats regaining the majority arguably stolen from them by unlawful GOP gerrymanders last November, the current GOP majority in the House is busy eating itself alive. The party's far-right flank has mounted a mutiny on the House floor this week, in rebellion against Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's debt ceiling deal last week with President Biden to avoid the first-ever default of the U.S. Government. And it's all quite hilarious.

FINALLY, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as the worsening affects of our climate crisis are now choking Americans across much of the east coast and midwest with toxic smoke from hundreds of record, out-of-control, Canadian wildfires blanketing much of the nation. We also cover the Biden EPA's long-overdue upgrades of Jackson, Mississippi's water system and the ecological disaster in the wake of the destruction of a critical dam in Russian-occupied Ukraine.

[NOTE: Today's program was completed just prior to the breaking news late today of Donald Trump's reportedly 7-count federal criminal indictment in Special Counsel Jack Smith's probe in the disgraced former President's stolen documents case. We'll pick up on that historically good news, no doubt, next week!]

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Also: Dems outmaneuver Repubs to elect state House Speakers in PA and OH; And, our first 'Green News Report' of the new year...
By Brad Friedman on 1/5/2023 5:56pm PT  

The last time multiple ballots were needed for any party to elect a House Speaker, a century ago in 1923, it took nine ballots to settle the matter. Today, before we got off the air from today's BradCast, Republican leader Kevin McCarthy had failed to secure a majority on the eleventh ballot. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Not all hope is lost. There's still the all-time record of 133 ballots over two months in 1855-1856 that today's Republican Party has yet to break. Give them time.

So, the 118th U.S. Congress has not yet been gavelled into existence. But that's not the only place where Republicans seem to be tripping over their own legislative [bleeps].

On today's program...

  • Up-to-the-minute coverage of the madness and idiocy of Day 3 in the Republican-led House; how the 20 far-right anti-McCarthyites are shooting themselves and their party in the foot; what McCarthy has already given away (pretty much everything) in his still-failed effort to win them over; how Trump may be the biggest loser of all here; the Democratic Party's continuing unified support for leader Hakeem Jeffries (the lead vote-getter, with 212 votes, on each and every ballot to date); why all of this is important and the dangers ahead; a reminder of what the nation is now missing without Dems in control of the chamber; and the question of whether Dems should help McCarthy win the Speakership in exchange for a promise to raise the debt ceiling to avoid a national and potentially global depression, as suggested by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA).
  • In Pennsylvania on Thursday, Democratic Gov.-Elect Josh Shapiro tapped former Philadelphia city commissioner and election official, Al Schmidt, a Republican, to serve as Sec. of the Commonwealth.
  • Also in the Keystone State this week, Democrats in the State House have out-maneuvered Republicans to seat a House Speaker. In a surprise victory last November, Dems won back the majority from the GOP for the first time in a decade, but only by one seat. Then, one Democratic member died and two others vacated their seats for higher office. Until special elections to fill those three seats can be scheduled, both parties were claiming the majority and the right to run the House, set the legislative agenda, and schedule the special elections, which will likely result in a clear majority for the Dems after they are finally held. But Dems were able to win over some Republican votes to elect one of their own as Speaker in a surprise victory this week.
  • In another surprise victory for Democrats, this time in the very Republican Ohio state House, Democrats out-maneuvered the GOP again by voting en masse with a group of Republicans to elect a more moderate Speaker than the one the GOP had chosen as their leader just last month. The power struggle comes in the wake of a still-unfolding racketeering scandal for the GOP as the state's former Republican House Speaker, Larry Householder, begins a federal trial this month with his co-defendant, the former Chair of the Ohio Republican Party, regarding $61 million in alleged bribes to pass legislation to help bail out energy giant, FirstEnergy.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our first Green News Report of the new year, with a ton of stuff we missed over our holiday break, and a bunch of stuff that has happened since our return, including the roll out of billions of dollars in infrastructure upgrades and new incentives for consumers to move to clean, renewable energy, as adopted when Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress...

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Guest: Data researcher Tom Bonier of TargetSmart; Also: Hilarious Republican failure to select a House Speaker continues into Day 2...
By Brad Friedman on 1/4/2023 5:59pm PT  

As the ingenious GOP on GOP rebellion continues in the U.S. House today, we cover that and some clarifying new insights from the 2022 elections regarding the "red wave" that never came (as we long told you it wouldn't) on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Day 2 of the GOP Rebellion Without Any Actual Cause That I Know Of continued on Wednesday, with Republicans failing on Ballots 4, 5 and 6 to secure a majority of votes of those present and voting for any candidate for House Speaker. The Democratic nominee on every ballot, their new leader Hakeem Jeffries, continued to be the top vote-getter in every round, receiving a unified 212 votes on each ballot.

On the GOP side, their leader Kevin McCarthy received just 201 votes on each of Wednesday's three ballots, down one vote from the third vote yesterday and still well shy of the 218 votes needed for a majority. The new trick today from the Republican "rebels" was nominating African-American second-term back-bencher Byron Donalds of Florida to be Speaker even though (or, perhaps, because?) he pleaded guilty to felony bribery charges back in 2000 in a scheme to defraud a bank. A bit on-brand for today's GOP but otherwise perfect for the job!

There were a few tiny nuances and the slightest movement (away from McCarthy and toward the Gaetz/Boehbert-led rebel group of 20) in the afternoon's three rounds of voting. We'll see what, if anything, happens when they reconvene for an evening session at 8pm ET on Wednesday night. (They just reconvened. The GOP moved to adjourn until Thursday at noon, and won that chaotic vote by the barest of margins.)

But, hey, so far, for two days in a row, the GOP House has been unable to do any legislative damage to the country!

Next, it's on to our guest today, the great TOM BONIER, master Tweeter and CEO of the Democratic data research firm, TargetSmart. Bonier joined us on the program a number of times since late last summer, in the run-up to the 2022 elections and in the days that followed. He was one of very few publicly on record (along with Simon Rosenberg of New Democrat Network) who presented hard data that correctly countered the false "red wave" narrative promulgated in the months before last year's November midterms.

Over the weekend, the New York Times ran a 4,000-word analysis headlined "The 'Red Wave' Washout: How Skewed Polls Fed a False Election Narrative". It explores no small amount of what we'd been trying to tell you since early last spring. Namely, that Democrats were likely to do much better than both history and professional pundits were telling you, and that, as Bonier and Rosenberg detailed in the face of mockery by some last year, the polls late in the season were actually misleading voters.

Specifically, as the paper reports, beginning in September last year, a bevy of partisan Republican polls with dodgy methodology were released, almost all suggesting the GOP was on the verge of not only a "red wave" election but a "red tsunami". The partisan numbers, cited with great excitement by rightwing media outlets initially and then by non-rightwing media, seemed to conflict with polls from most legitimate, nonpartisan polling outfits. But the public release of a ton of partisan polling served to game the polling averages at highly-trafficked forecast sites like 538 and RealClearPolitics. More disturbingly, the skewed numbers resulted in Democratic campaigns changing strategies and spending in hopes of shoring up otherwise safe seats, while abandoning races --- such as U.S. Senate contests in Wisconsin, Ohio and North Carolina and a bunch of House districts around the country --- that were almost certainly otherwise winnable.

Why did this happen? Was it a concerted strategy by Republicans to game the public polling averages? And, if so, why did the supposed polling gatekeepers --- like Nate Silver at 538, who dismissed and mocked folks like Bonier and Rosenberg for relying on "hopium" in their accurate data analysis --- fail to protect against the partisan manipulation? Also, while the Times analysis suggests otherwise, did those false numbers actually serve to goose Dem turnout in some races last year?

In short, when I ask Bonier directly today if Republicans figured out last year how to game the polling averages, he responds, "Yes. Simply, yes. That's what happened. And it couldn't have happened without others playing along with it and empowering it."

"In the end, they were successful," he tells me. "Were they successful to the point where they were able to create a red wave? No. But they were successful to the point where Republicans won some races that I don't think they would have without this happening."

So, what to do about it moving forward? We dig into details on that and much more with Bonier today, and also get his insight into whatever the hell is going on in the Republicans' dumpster fire failure to select a House Speaker to begin the 118th U.S. Congress after two days (and counting) of trying...

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GOP-majority House adjourns after failing to elect Speaker; Also: AZ's A.G. recount ends, Dems take statewide office in previously 'red' state...
By Brad Friedman on 1/3/2023 5:46pm PT  

Well, we're back on today's BradCast --- like it or not --- after our holiday break, with a head cold (but not COVID) and a doozy of a day in Washington D.C.! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

For the first time in 100 years, the party in charge of the U.S. House --- which would theoretically now be the Republicans --- adjourned on the first day of the new, 118th Congress without electing a House Speaker.

After three ballots in which he failed to win the 218 votes needed, Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California actually lost one of his votes on the third ballot to Republican Jim Jordan. The Ohio right-winger received 20 votes in the third round of voting, even after he had actually been the one to nominate McCarthy on the second round. And even after McCarthy had desperately attempted to broker deals for votes up until this afternoon.

On all three ballots, Democrats remained unified behind their new leader, Hakeem Jeffries of New York. He received 212 votes to McCarthy's 203 in the first and second round. McCarthy won only 202 on the last ballot before Republicans decided to adjourn for the day and regroup before trying again tomorrow. While Jeffries won more votes than anyone else on all three ballots, a majority of members present and voting is required to win the Speakership. That number today --- and presumably tomorrow --- is 218.

Without a Speaker, no business in the House can proceed. Given the silly business planned by the GOP majority in the House, that's no great loss. Back in December of 1855 it took until February of 1856 for a speaker to be chosen. But since the Civil War, there has only been one time until today --- way back in 1923 --- that the majority party was unable to elect a Speaker without multiple ballots. It remains to be seen how long it will now take Republicans to select a Speaker this time, as at least 20 GOP "rebels", led by Florida's Rep. Matt Gaetz, appear to be "Never Kevins" for the time being, with no particular Plan B in sight.

House Dems, of course, are eating it all up, as they should. We'll see how it goes tomorrow.

Also today, we catch up with a few items we missed while away over the holidays. Specifically, some of the remaining statewide contests in Arizona, one of which was still somewhat up-in-the-air before we left in the formerly "red" state.

Over the holidays, the GOP's gubernatorial candidate and Donald Trump "Mini-me", Kari Lake, saw her election challenge dismissed by a Maricopa County Superior Court Judge after she was certified to have lost by some 12,000 votes out of more than 2.5 million cast. Her victorious opponent, Democrat Katie Hobbs, was sworn in as the state's new Governor on New Years Day after receiving a generous hand-written note of welcome from her not-insane Republican predecessor, Gov. Doug Ducey.

But the incredibly tight Attorney General's race in the Grand Canyon State was still facing an automatic recount through the holidays after Democrat Kristin Mayes was certified as having defeated 2020 election denier Abe Hamadeh by just 511 votes.

At year's end, the state's mostly machine-recount wrapped up, with Mayes remaining victorious over the Republican by 280 votes. That's actually a fairly sizeable vote shift for a machine-recount, with most of the changes being attributed to "human error" in the original count in Republican-heavy Pinal County.

Hamadeh, like Lake, vows to continue to challenge the results. Nonetheless, Democrats in the state were sworn in to office for Governor, Sec. of State and Attorney General on January 1. Arizona's Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Kelly was sworn in for his first full six-year term today in D.C. after also winning election in the state in November, as the fall-out and disarray from the Trump Era for Republicans continues from D.C. to Phoenix and beyond.

Happy New Year!

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Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton; Trump's running again; House, Senate GOP leadership chaos; MS moves to hand-marked paper ballots...
By Brad Friedman on 11/16/2022 5:40pm PT  

It may be a somewhat disconcerting deja vu on today's BradCast for longtime listeners. Apologies in advance. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Seven and a half years ago, on the day Donald Trump came down his golden escalator at Trump Tower to declare that Mexicans were rapists and he was running for President, our guest was HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo. Since then, she's joined us to try and make sense of virtually every landmark event during his disastrous candidacy, Presidency and post-Presidency.

Back in June of 2015, when posting that day's show at The BRAD BLOG, I headlined it "The GOP's New 'Frankenstein's Monster'". Most in the media considered Trump's candidacy a joke at the time. We felt otherwise. I believe history has proven us right on that one.

After multiple failed attempts at trying to steal the 2020 election, including inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in hopes of stealing it by force, and with multiple criminal investigations against him now underway at both the state and federal level, Trump announced (to the nation's chagrin) his third run for President on Tuesday night. He did so at a really long and boring super-spreader event at Mar-a-Lago, the scene of at least one of the many crimes for which he's being investigated. Parton joins us once again today to discuss whether we should be as worried this time about Trump's candidacy (she describes it at Salon today as "the America First Vengeance Tour 2024") and whether he or Ron DeSantis would be more difficult for Democrats to defeat in 2024.

We spend more time, however, discussing the three-ring circus, circular firing squad, or whatever metaphor you wish to use, for the Republican House and Senate leadership battles now under way following last week's midterm elections in which the GOP appears to have won the narrowest of majorities in the U.S. House --- but not much more than that anywhere else. Will the splintered, increasingly loony GOP caucus in the House even be able to get 218 votes for anybody as House Speaker come January? ("They have created an absolutely insane caucus filled with lunatics, and now they're having to pay the piper on this," says Parton. "This is what happens when you embolden people like Marjorie Taylor-Greene. She'll be operating as a shadow Speaker.")

Also today...A note of caution at the top of the show: Do not be fooled by Trump's deceptive call at his announcement speech on Tuesday night for "paper ballots" to help fight fraud in elections. He has no clue what he's talking about. Else he would have called for "hand-marked paper ballots," since all of the states he lost (but pretends to have won) already use paper ballots! He's also demanding new voter suppression measures. We explain all of the above today.

In related news, two counties in the state of Mississippi used hand-marked paper ballots in the 2022 midterms for the first time. After some 20 years of forcing voters to vote on 100% unverifiable touchscreen systems --- while we've been begging them to move to hand-counted paper ballots for all of those years --- the clerks of both counties report that voters and pollworkers loved the new system and it worked great! In fact, the clerks also found that it was both faster and more cost-efficient than their 20-year old unverifiable touchscreens. Who could have predicted it?

Following a new state law adopted in April, all counties in MS must upgrade their systems before the 2024 Presidential elections. As noted on today's show, I've long argued that it would likely take a high-profile Republican getting screwed by touchscreen voting systems before GOPers finally demanded a move to verifiable voting systems. I was close. What I should have said was that it would take a high-profile Republican pretending to be screwed by touchscreen voting systems before they'd finally demand such changes.

Finally, we close with some listener email. Enjoy!...

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Guest: Data analyst Tom Bonier of TargetSmart; Also: House Special election in NY a political 'earthquake' and other results from NY, FL, OK...
By Brad Friedman on 8/24/2022 6:01pm PT  

For some, it was a political "earthquake" on Tuesday. For us here at BradCast, it largely served to confirm what we've been arguing for many months now: Reports about a Democratic shellacking this fall are greatly exaggerated. And, the swing-district Democratic win in a New York U.S. House special election on Tuesday isn't the only new evidence today helping to support that case. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

First up, we run through some of the noteworthy reported election results from yesterday's primaries and runoffs in Oklahoma, Florida and New York. Tune in for specific details and specific races. But while there was good news and bad for both Democrats and progressives on Tuesday, the biggest story of the night was clearly Democratic candidate Pat Ryan's defeat of Republican Marc Molinaro in what both parties have been regarding as a bellwether for this November, a special U.S. House election in NY's 19th Congressional District. The Hudson Valley district is a classic "swing-district" that tends to follow the mood of the nation. It barely went for Biden in 2020 and for Trump and Obama in the years prior. In a "red wave" year for Republicans --- as both the GOP and media have long been instructing us that this year's midterms would be --- Molinaro should have easily won on Tuesday. Instead, he lost by 2 points.

In another special election for the U.S. House yesterday, in the state 23rd District, the Republican candidate won in the very Trumpy district, but by just over 6 points. That, after the Republican who previously held the seat had won it by 17 points back in 2020. It was yet another contest in which Democrats gained over their 2020 numbers, rather than lost, as would be expected in a "red wave" year.

In fact, where Republicans earlier this year had been winning special elections for the House by anywhere from 10 to 20 points more than Trump had won the same districts just two years ago, everything changed on June 24, when the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court, in their Dobbs decision, overturned Roe v. Wade and its 50 years of Constitutionally-protected privacy rights and reproductive freedoms. Since that ruling, every single special House election --- four of them, from Nebraska to Minnesota to New York --- has seen results swing toward Democrats from their 2020 numbers in the same district.

Ryan's victory on Tuesday in NY-19 is being chalked up to his campaign focused on abortion rights, fueled by campaign signs reading "Choice is on the Ballot." Indeed, Ryan also tied choice to freedom and democracy, as noted in his victory tweet last night. "Choice was on the ballot. Freedom was on the ballot, and tonight choice and freedom won," said Ryan, adding: "We voted like our democracy was on the line because it is." In the bargain, he concluded, "We upended everything we thought we knew about politics and did it together."

The GOP candidate, meanwhile --- a fairly strong candidate, not one of the Trump-backed insane ones --- attempted to make the contest a referendum on President Biden, inflation, crime and against one-party rule in D.C., as Republicans have hoped to do elsewhere for this November's midterms. It didn't work.

We've been arguing for many months now on this show that voters should simply ignore "Conventional Wisdom" based on historical data for this year's elections, as these are decidedly UNconventional times. There are many things that make it so, but the overturning of Roe v. Wade is certainly a great big one.

Evidence of that is also showing up elsewhere, as our guest today, TOM BONIER, CEO of TargetSmart, a Democratic data firm, has been noticing and tweeting excitedly about over the past few weeks since Kansas voters decisively rejected a state Constitutional ballot initiative that would have allowed Republicans in the traditionally conservative state to ban abortion rights.

Since then, Bonier explains, in state after state that he has examined --- so-called "red" and "blue" ones and even critical battlegrounds like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and North Carolina, among others --- the data for new voter registrations after the Dobbs ruling show numbers are spiking for women, particularly Democratic women and, specifically, those under 25.

"I'm not one that's prone to hyperbole," Bonier tells me, responding to a question about one of the stats he posted to Twitter, which he described as "jaw-dropping." He says that "when analyzing election data, you generally don't see variations from the norm, from past historical precedent, that are really that substantial." But, after being stunned by what happened in Kansas, he noticed there had been a huge spike in voter registrations in the state in its run-up.

"Of the voters who registered to vote in Kansas after the June 24th Dobbs decision, 70% were women," he found. "I've never seen anything approaching that degree of gender gap. It just doesn't happen."

"The reason you look at new registrants is because it's a great indicator of intensity. It's not that new registrants by themselves will swing the election, but it is a reliable indicator of which groups are really fired up about voting, and that's what's going to decide this election."

He discovered similarly "jaw-dropping" numbers for Pennsylvania after the Dobbs ruling. "It's not just that women are registering to vote. When you look at who those women are, they're overwhelmingly women and Democrats." New Dem registrations, he says, are outpacing Republicans 4 to 1. "Over half of them --- 54% of them --- are under the age of 25. So again, they're younger, they're more likely to be Democrats, overwhelmingly, young Democratic women being engaged."

In North Carolina, like Pennsylvania, where Democrats are eyeing another potential U.S. Senate pick-up that seemed impossible just several weeks ago, Bonier says he is seeing a similar trend. Before Dobbs, "Republicans had a one point advantage among new registrants. Since Dobbs that's shifted to a 5-point Democratic advantage...again, driven by younger women primarily, though not exclusively."

In Ohio, a similar story. In fact, Bonier says women are out-registering men in Idaho, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Arkansas and elsewhere.

Has he drilled down on these statewide numbers to see if they will have an affect on the heavily gerrymandered new maps that will favor Republicans in the U.S. House this year? So far, Bonier argues, they are "seeing the same pattern in these more potentially competitive Congressional districts."

Are the numbers large enough that, even with that gerrymandering, Democrats might actually be able to hold their majority in the House this November? "If you'd asked me this a few months ago, I never would have said this, but yes, Democrats have a chance. It's still an uphill battle --- especially because of the structural disadvantages --- but there's clearly a chance. We're not talking about the slimmest of margins, we're talking about a real opportunity. But for that to bear fruit for Democrats, it's going to take this trend continuing. It's going to take Dobbs being an inflection point, where we look back and we say, 'This election cycle, there was pre-Dobbs and there was post-Dobbs, and Dobbs is really what changed everything.'"

Bonier cautions that it "will still be difficult" and nothing is certain, especially since betwen this and so much else this year, there are simply no modern historical equivalents to compare it to. "So the best thing we can do is go out, work as hard as we can, and fight for every vote."

Have we been right to argue for so many months that voters should simply ignore the "conventional wisdom" --- from political professionals, including guys like Bonier --- in these UNconventional times? Tune in for his answer...

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Special Coverage with former Deputy Asst. Attorney General Lisa Graves, Salon contributor Heather Digby Parton...
By Brad Friedman on 6/23/2022 6:41pm PT  

Yes, we heard him correctly! Rep. Bennie Thompson, Chair of the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection, opened today's 5th day of public hearings by noting that Donald Trump tried to "steal" the 2020 election! Finally, as noted on today's BradCast Special Coverage, we're getting somewhere! Let's see if the rest of the media is still as allergic to using the correct word for the crime that Trump and his supporters hoped to pull off! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Before we get to our Special Coverage today, we've got a few too-brief words on today's unelected, rogue, corrupt, stolen and packed 6 to 3 Republican US Supreme Court majority undermining states' rights to "well-regulate" the carrying of firearms in public in their own states, and undercutting Miranda rights for those detained by law enforcement.

Then, it's on to another harrowing day of the House J6 Committee's gripping hearings, detailing Trump's unrelenting and virtually psychotic attempts to steal the 2020 Presidential election from the American people. Today's hearing focused on his failed attempt to decapitate the remaining leadership at the U.S. Department of Justice after his own Attorney General Bill Barr resigned in response to the loser Trump's repeated and knowingly false claims that Joe Biden only defeated him thanks to massive, if apparently evidence-free, fraud.

The DoJ scheme involved replacing Trump's Acting Attorney General with a low-level apparatchik named Jeffrey Clark who agreed to do Trump's bidding. The plot came within a hair's breadth of overthrowing the entire American government. It was only the promise of hundreds of top DoJ officials resigning en masse that ultimately forced Trump to relent.

Three of those top officials, former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, his acting Deputy AG Richard Donoghue, and former Asst. AG in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), Steve Engel, testified live on Thursday under questioning by Illinois' Republican Rep. Adam Kinziger, who detailed just "how close we came to losing it all."

The panel laid out in detail how the DoJ (as well as DHS and DoD) were relentlessly directed by Trump, over and again, to investigate every absurd, easily-debunked conspiracy theory dredged up by rightwing MAGA Internet clowns. From false claims about Dominion voting systems to false claims about truckloads of shredded ballots to false claims about Italian military satellites and Chinese-made smart thermostats flipping votes from Trump to Biden.

Nevertheless, Trump's apparatchik Clark was willing to do Trump's bidding. He drafted a letter to send to swing-state legislatures falsely instructing them that the Department had found massive fraud that would change the results of the elections, directing their state legislatures to reconvene to choose electors for Trump instead of Biden. Rosen and Donoghue, to their credit, testified that they refused to sign the bogus letter, and then detailed how Trump schemed to fire Rosen and replace him with Clark, who had never even tried a criminal case, as the DoJ's chief. It all culminated in the infamous, hours-long, January 3rd, 2021, Celebrity Apprentice-style Oval Office showdown where both Rosen and Clark made their cases. Rosen's was backed up by the entire leadership at DoJ (as well as White House Counsel), who vowed to leave if Trump pulled the trigger and fired Rosen. That would have resulted in an unprecedented Constitutional crisis just days before the joint session of Congress to confirm Biden's victory.

And, after all of that, Kinzinger noted at the end of today's hearing, Trump still went out to his rally on the Ellipse on January 6th and repeated all of the long-ago debunked claims of fraud, inciting the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Today's hearing began just moments after CNN reported that Clark's home had been raided by the FBI before dawn on Wednesday. So, it would seem, the current Dept. of Justice is actually on the case.

We're delighted to be joined today by two fantastic guests, one of whom is a former DoJ Attorney with a great deal of insight into DoJ procedures and the harrowing testimony offered today. LISA GRAVES, who is now Executive Director of the research firm True North Research, served as Deputy Asst. Attorney General at the U.S. Justice Dept during the Clinton Administration and into the peaceful transition to George W Bush's Administration. She then became Chief Counsel for nominations in the U.S. Senate and a Deputy Chief for the US Court system. HEATHER DIGBY PARTON, our anchor guest during all of the hearings to date, is the beloved proprietor of her long-running Hullabaloo blog and an award-winning contributor at Salon.

Graves is a font of insight regarding the way the DoJ is supposed to work and just how wildly dysfunctional, inappropriate --- and most likely criminal --- the actions of both Trump and Clark were during the disgraced former President's final days attempting to cling to power.

Clark, she argues, "is a man who was willing to bend any law in order to serve the political agenda of this President, and is exactly the type of person who should never be entrusted with any position of power or public trust. He clearly is someone who is more than willing to set aside facts and law. What we see is this man at the center of a criminal conspiracy, in my view, and the [former] President is at the helm of that conspiracy."

As Parton notes today, the "the Constitutional crisis that everyone was hinting at [was] in retrospect, a very close thing," as Trump was trying to "overthrow the government" just three weeks before the inauguration. But Trump's ultimate, begrudging decision to not fire Rosen and replace him with Clark means that "Trump was not irrational. He did know what he was doing." And that, she observes, is "a new and interesting data point" to come out of today's hearings.

Also coming out of today's hearings, a list of six Republican members of Congress who apparently recognized that their involvement in this criminal conspiracy could land them in prison. So much so that they unsuccessfully sought pardons from Trump before he left office. Among those named by former White House officials as seeking pardons: Reps. Mo Brooks (AL), Matt Gaetz (FL), Scott Perry (PA), Louie Gohmert (TX), Andy Biggs (AZ) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA).

We've got much more smart insight and analysis in today's Special Coverage. Please tune in!...

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Guest: Adam Green of Progressive Change Campaign Committee; Also: Gaetz' ex-girlfriend flipping on him, Trump's finance chief may flip on Trump, Trump may flip on everyone, including his own family...
By Brad Friedman on 5/21/2021 7:17pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Everyone in Trump World is now either flipping on everyone else in Trump World, or appears on their way to doing so. Including Trump himself Fun! Less fun: Democrats in Congress wasting their time in negotiations on Biden's bold Build Back Better agenda with Republicans who are decidedly not negotiating in good faith, as they made clear to everyone once again this week. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But first, the flippin' fun part of the show! Just before airtime, CNN reported that Rep. Matt Gaetz' ex-girlfriend is now said to be cooperating with federal investigators believed to be looking into the Republican Congressman from Florida's many alleged payments for sex and illicit sex trafficking of a minor.

And while Gaetz, Donald Trump's number one fan in Congress, is facing a world of trouble (and years in prison), so, of course, is Trump, as it appears to be getting hotter by the hour inside the Trump Organization. This week, we learned that the New York state Attorney General, Letitia James, who had been looking at civil violations of bank and tax fraud laws by Trump and his company, joined the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance's criminal investigation of many of the same matters.

The next day, we learned that Allen Weisselberg, the long time Chief Financial Officer of the Trump Organization --- beginning all the way back to when Trump's dad Fred was in charge --- is now facing his own criminal tax-related probe by the NY AG's office as well. That, as our guest earlier in the week, former Asst. U.S. Attorney Randall Eliason explained at the time, is a likely precursor to getting him to flip on his boss, the disgraced former President.

And the next day after that, Weisselberg's former daughter-in-law Jennifer --- who has announced that she's been cooperating with prosecutors for some time, after explaining that her former husband Barry (also a Trump employee) was often paid with free rent in expensive luxury apartments and some $500,000 worth of private school tuition for their kids --- believes that her former father-in-law, Allen, will absolutely flip on Trump to save himself.

That revelation came as Trump's own former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen --- who flipped on Trump long ago, as he earned federal prison time by pleading guilty to participating in a campaign finance hush-money conspiracy "directed" by Trump --- believes that Trump will eventually flip on everyone, including Allen Weisselberg, and even his own kids(!) if necessary, to save himself! "I think Donald Trump is going to flip on all of them, including his children," Cohen told MSNBC, adding: "I really believe that Donald Trump cares for only himself and he realizes that his goose is cooked."

It's all flippin' hilarious, in truth. We'll see if things continue to come crashing down on the former Criminal-in-Chief --- as they sure seem set to do, at this point --- in the coming days and weeks. Fun!

Less fun, unfortunately, is the continuing obstruction campaign being waged by Congressional Republicans, who laid bare their bad faith yet again this week, after spending months negotiating with Democrats on an evenly balanced January 6th Commission, only for GOP leadership in both chambers to then whip their members against it after the bipartisan deal was finally struck in the House Homeland Security Committee.

A similar pageant of bad faith negotiations have been underway for several weeks now with Republicans pretending they are interested in working with Democrats on Biden's $2.25 trillion infrastructure proposal, the American Jobs Plan, and his $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, to support "human infrastructure", such as child care, paid family leave and free daycare and community college.

We've seen this bad movie before. Just look back at the months that Dems spent "negotiating" with Republicans in 2009 and 2010 over the Affordable Care Act, when the GOP failed to offer a single vote in favor of the landmark healthcare law, even after winning all kinds of concessions from Dems to water down the plan.

Now, Democrats are finally saying enough is enough. At least some of them, who, Politico reports, are speaking up and calling for the Jobs Plan and Families Plan to be combined into a megabill and passed in one fell swoop under the Senate's Budget Reconciliation rules allowing passage of almost all of it with a simple majority vote. The only problem: Not all Dems are ready to do so, especially West Virginia's Joe Manchin, who is also not yet onboard with the Dems' sweeping proposal for election and campaign finance reform --- the For the People Act (or H.R.1 in the House and S.1 in the Senate) --- and the filibuster reform that would be required to pass it with just 50 Democratic votes.

Joining us to today to explain how Dems and progressives can possibly move forward through all of these obstacles is ADAM GREEN, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, who told Politico this week that: "The only two scenarios for Democrats are to go big or get nothing."

Green expands on those comments today, arguing that the process of negotiation going on right now is, by and large, meant to convince Manchin, and maybe a few other conservative Democrats, that there is only one real path forward to carry out Biden's truly ambitious progressive agenda.

"I think that there are two genres in working with Republicans," he tells me. "One, that hearkens back to the Obama era, where they really thought that Republicans were potentially willing to deal with them, and wasted a year and quarter negotiating with them before passing Obamacare. It wasted a lot of time that led to a lack of results by the 2010 election. And the lack of results meant low motivation for voters to turnout and vote, or vote Democrat."

"In this case, " Green continues, "I think we have a little bit of a different scenario, where most people understand the game. The game here is there are one or two Senate Democrats with that old mindset --- they genuinely believe Republicans will deal in good faith.  Everybody else is ready to get this done but has to play ball for a couple of months to make abundantly clear that these Republicans don't come in good faith."

Green also cites this week's last minute u-turn on the January 6th Commission as a perfect example, where the GOP had "pretty much of all of their demands met," only to see "Republican leaders coming out against it." That, he says, leads him to feel "hopeful that we're nearing the time when  even the Joe Manchins of the world realize that they did their best, but too bad, it's time to go it alone with Democratic votes and score big for the American people."

But even if Manchin is ultimately willing to agree to pass the infrastructure plans with a simple majority under Senate Reconciliation rules, is there ANY path that would allow for passage of other top Dem priorities like the For the People Act? That bill would almost certainly fail to meet Senate Parliamentarian muster to be passed under the same rules, so would somehow have to overcome a GOP filibuster to be adopted. An optimistic Green believes there is a VERY narrow path to make that happen as well, and he details how progressives in not just West Virginia, but every state, can help push Dems --- and Manchin --- through that narrow path. It includes, among other things, a new "Democracy exception" to Senate filibuster rules. Such an exception, he notes, could also allow D.C. to finally become a state in the bargain. As I said, optimistic!

Finally, we're always happy to end another mad week in these "United" States with another gem from the great Randy Rainbow, this one dedicated to all of the swell, not-at-all horrible Republican lawmakers in Congress. Enjoy!...

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Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: SCOTUS takes up abortion; Gaetz in trouble; Israel bombs AP's building in Gaza...
By Brad Friedman on 5/17/2021 6:54pm PT  

As AP reports today, a new lawsuit "against [Georgia's] secretary of state and the members of the State Election Board was filed in federal court in Atlanta by county election board members, individual voters, election volunteers, nonprofit organizations and a journalist." As broken on today's BradCast, that journalist is me. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

I am one of the several named plaintiffs in the 200-page suit [PDF] filed in U.S. District Court on Monday seeking to block a number of outrageous and dangerous provisions in the state GOP's new voter-suppression bill. While the measure, SB202 [PDF], adopted by GA Republicans, does a lot of terrible stuff, some of which is well known by now (making it harder to vote by mail, banning absentee drop boxes, blocking the distribution of food or water on long voting lines), much of which will disproportionately suppress minority voters, there are a number of other provisions which are simply jaw-dropping, but have not yet been challenged in the several suits previously filed against the law by a number of civil rights and voting rights groups.

My part in the suit, filed today by the non-partisan, non-profit, indispensable Coalition for Good Governance, revolves around press freedoms which are outrageously and unconstitutionally trampled by SB202. In fact, as discussed on the show today with the Coalition's Executive Director, MARILYN MARKS, no small amount of the detailed reporting we have done here over the years focused on Georgia has now been criminalized by the new statute!

As detailed in the complaint (see the section on "Plaintiff FRIEDMAN" beginning on p. 101), it is now unlawful to report on "mail balloting discrepancies or security concerns that he or The BRAD BLOG or BradCast journalists may personally observe as members of the press"; "Plaintiff FRIEDMAN will be injured because the party appointed observers he has relied on to supply first-hand accounts...are are prohibited under penalty of misdemeanor from reporting their observations" on Georgia elections to me; As Marks explains, photographs that I or others may have taken in a polling place and used on the blog would be illegal; Observers from the media watching the tallying of absentee ballots will be committing a crime just by reporting on how many ballots they are "estimating" or "attempting to estimate" have been counted or are left to be tallied, according to the language of the hastily written SB2020 ("It's a thought crime!," Marks charges. "Literally, it says you cannot 'estimate' or 'attempt to estimate' anything about votes in the ballot processing room for mail ballots!"); Video interviews or photographs taken inside of counting rooms or in polling places in front Georgia's giant, new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems could be evidence of a felony(!) under the new law, which poll workers, poll watchers, media observers and even voters could now be charged with under state law!

"On BRAD BLOG," Marks observes, "you frequently post a picture, many a picture of election activity, including people in the mail ballot rooms looking at hand-marked voted ballots. To take a picture of a ballot now is a misdemeanor." Yes, those posted photos would now be evidence of a crime. "You would not be permitted to take a picture of anonymous ballots. We see thousands of pictures, every election, of voted ballots being counted. But for some reason --- I guess we know what reason --- they are criminalizing it."

Yes, the photo used above, as taken from the complaint's numerous examples, of voters voting at Atlanta's State Farm Arena last year in Fulton County, could be used as evidence of a felony by the Reuters photo-journalist, Chris Aluka Berry, who took it.

As the suit notes, "Plaintiff FRIEDMAN is already injured by SB202 because the criminalization of constitutionally protected activity has a chilling effect on his exercise of First Amendment rights" and because "Plaintiff FRIEDMAN is threatened with injuries arising from SB202’s prior restraints on his First Amendment right of free speech and right of freedom of the press."

We have "reported on Georgia election integrity and election security hundreds of times over the last almost twenty years," the lawsuit accurately explains. Much of that coverage could now constitute a state crime under this horrible, unconstitutional law. "I have a feeling they will find any little tripwire they can about the two of us," Marks tells me. "If you were complimentary toward Georgia, I don't think you'd have any problems."

This BradCast, for example, from June of last year, featuring a Democratic Party post-election adjudication observer (and now co-plaintiff in this suit) Jeanne DuFort --- breaking the news of her discovery that GA's new Dominion tabulation computers were failing to count votes on tens of thousands of ballots --- would have been a crime in several ways, according to the state's new law.

There are other provisions in SB202 of concern as well --- beyond those being challenged in several of the voting rights lawsuits --- as Marks explains in the Coalition's press release today, from the law's "Takeover Provision" that permits bi-partisan County Elections Boards to be removed entirely and replaced by a single partisan, for virtually any reason (even minor infractions by a low-level worker up to four years ago!) to a few items we didn't have time cover on today's show, like the impossible new deadlines for requesting absentee ballots (in cases before a run-off election, the deadline to request such a ballot for it will now end before the original election is even certified to include a run-off!) and more.

As AP highlights in its report today, the suit argues: "Liberty requires at least three essential things — an unfettered right to vote, freedom of speech, and the meaningful separation of powers. This lawsuit is necessary to preserve individual constitutional rights, and constitutional government, against the attacks that SB202 makes on these three pillars of liberty."

Marks elucidates today on "Those three pillars of liberty: the right to vote, the right to free speech, and the right to separation of powers. What's happening here is the first one that they are violating is that separation of powers. That is a key one. Once they grab all of the powers, they close the doors. Yeah, they still have to deal with the pesky press and pesky watchers, but not anymore --- not if they criminalize your reports."

So, yeah. Even as its strange to become a part of a story I've been covering for so long, I am very proud to be a plaintiff in this lawsuit against SB202, which Georgia's Republican Governor and Sec. of State falsely claim "makes it easier to vote and harder to cheat". In truth, Marks told me off air after the show, the opposite is true. "It makes it harder to vote and easier to cheat," she said.

Also today, the GOP's packed and stolen U.S. Supreme Court announced it's taking up Mississippi's restriction on abortion rights that was blocked by a lower court. This is not good news for freedom lovers and those who oppose Big Government coming between a woman and her doctor; A former elected Florida official who is a buddy of Rep. Matt Gaetz has agreed to a federal plea deal that requires he tells federal prosecutors all that he knows about Gaetz' alleged sex trafficking of a minor; And in Gaza City over the weekend, Israel outrageously targeted and destroyed a 12-story high-rise building housing AP's office for the past 15 years. It's top floor cameras have been the eyes for the world, witnessing, as the news agency reported this weekend, "24-hour live shots as militants’ rockets arched toward Israel and Israeli airstrikes hammered the city and its surrounding area this week."

Those cameras will no longer be there to bear witness to the world. As AP's President noted in a statement describing the attack as "shocking and horrifying" on Saturday, "The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today."

And, in Georgia, if SB202 is allowed to stay in place, the world will know less about what is happening in the Peach State's elections because of it. As in Gaza, I suspect that is the point...

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Also: Other sorry sleazy news from a GOP in free fall; Biden's gun safety executive actions; Manchin's ridiculous blockade of progress...
By Brad Friedman on 4/8/2021 7:05pm PT  

We try like crazy to avoid sleazy, tabloid sensationalism on The BradCast. But, at this point at least, the Republican Party has made that pretty much all but impossible. Just covering any of the latest actual, legitimate news from the party which seems to be in free fall right now, necessarily requires a whole bunch of sleazy, cheap, tawdry stories that sound sensationalistic and tabloidy...but that's only because they are...whether we like it or not. [Audio link to today's full show is posted below this summary.]

On the way to the central story in our A Block today, regarding the stunning crash and burn of Alabama's Sec. of State who, until late yesterday was likely to have been a front-runner for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated next year by Republican Senator Richard Shelby, we are forced to reference a number of the sleazy cheap stories that have now become central to the GOP itself...above and beyond their nationwide attempt to suppress Democratic-leaning voters in a democracy...

  • Over the weekend, the New York Times exposed how the Trump Campaign ripped of its own donors before and after last year's election, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars by pre-checking checkboxes that were difficult to notice. That would turn one-time donations into recurring monthly or even weekly donations, when many if not most donors did not even notice. Donor credit cards were unwittingly maxed out and bank accounts were drained by the Trump scheme. But, even after the Times' exposé, it appears that the Republican Party itself, via its U.S. House fundraising arm, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), is now using that same sleazy trick to rip off its donors as well! They're arguably making it even worse by telling donors (all-caps in the original): "If you UNCHECK this box, we will have to tell Trump you’re a DEFECTOR."
  • Then of course, there's the ongoing sleazy story about Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz, one of Trump's top supporters in the U.S. House, who is reportedly being investigated for alleged sex trafficking of a minor. Today, several outlets are reporting that Gaetz' pal, Joel Greenberg, the former Tax Collector in FL's Seminole County, is now cooperating with prosecutors. Greenberg has already been charged with sex trafficking of a minor and more than 30 other federal charges, including stalking, identity theft, wire fraud, bribery, theft of government property, conspiracy to bribe a public official and creating fake IDs. Suffice to say, if it's true that he's cooperating, that is likely very bad news for Gaetz.
  • But today's sleaziest story concerns Alabama's Republican Sec. of State John Merrill. Long time readers and listeners may recall my bizarre run-in with Merrill back in 2017, when, after politely pointing out on Twitter that Merrill was wrong about the way Alabama's voting systems actually worked, the Secretary blocked him on the social media platform and left bizarre messages on Brad's cell phone. Later, when a federal court ruled in a lawsuit against Trump that public officials were violating First Amendment rights by blocking people on Twitter, I sought comment from Merrill's office to see if, like Trump had been ordered, Merrill planned to unblock the many constituents and election experts he had blocked on Twitter over the years. Not only did Merrill himself make it very clear to me that he had no intention of doing so, the entire matter devolved into a wildly bizarre email attack by Merrill. That all played out in 2017 and 2018.

    Move the clock forward to 2020, and Merrill, using his powers as Alabama's top election official, prevented Counties in his state from offering safe, curbside voting for those who feared exposure to the coronavirus inside polling places. Despite a state court order to allow it, Merrill refused and took the matter all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. He was ultimately victorious in his efforts to suppress Alabama voters who feared for their lives and were forced to choose between staying safe and casting a vote inside the polls during last year's Presidential election.

    And now, the clock turns forward to yesterday when, on Wednesday morning, Merrill --- who is married with two children and who had already begun his campaign for the GOP nomination to fill the U.S. Senate seat being vacated next year by Sen. Shelby --- denied an extra-marital affair with a 44-year old women that he described as a "stalker" who had been "harassing" him. Just hours later, however, by Wednesday afternoon, Merrill admitted to his years long involvement with the woman after AL.com played him a portion of a salacious phone call between him and her that she had provided to the media outlet. Yes, we share part of that call on today's show. Yes, we told you this was all sleazy. Yes, the story is actually much sleazier than we are sharing with you on air today. And, yes, there is something very wrong with Merrill, as we had repeatedly tried to explain over the years ever since my first bizarre encounter with him.

    Merrill, who is already well known for his anti-LGBTQ statements, has denied describing African-American judges and voters --- whose rights he's supposed to be protecting --- as "the coloreds," as the woman also alleges. We'll let you decide if you'd like to believe him or not. He says he is seeking help from "the Lord". He has yet to resign from his role as the state's chief election official or from his position as Chair of the Republican Secretaries of State Executive Committee.

  • In much less sleazy --- if still somewhat depressing news --- President Biden announced a number of new Executive Orders related to gun safety during a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden on Thursday. The President, accurately characterizing America's gun epidemic as an "international embarrassment" and "public health crisis", noted that between the mass killings at Atlanta massage parlors and the Boulder, Colorado grocery store shooting last month, there were more than 850 additional shootings that killed 250 and injured 500 in the U.S. In his own remarks at the ceremony, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland noted that "so far this year, guns have taken the lives of 11,000" in this country. While Biden's Executive Actions (which we detail during the show) are likely to have a marginal effect in curbing our nation's gun violence epidemic, they are no replacement for real legislation that might actually have a measurable effect on decreasing gun violence.
  • Of course, given that Republicans refuse to support any measures proposed by Democrats in the U.S. Senate --- much less regarding gun safety, God forbid, no matter how popular such measures are, even with Republican voters --- it will be impossible to pass any such legislation unless the filibuster in the Senate is either ended or reformed. Key to that, however, is the Democratic Senate's most conservative member, West Virginia's Joe Manchin. On Wednesday, pathetically enough, Manchin penned an op-ed at Washington Post declaring: "There is no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster." He went on to offer a few twisted, counterfactual reasons as to why, and even suggested he may block further legislation from passing via the Senate's Budget Reconciliation rules which allow for passage of certain budget related matters with a simple majority vote. Yes, today is that kind of a day. For what it's worth, the White House seems less bothered about Manchin's statements than we are.
  • Finally, with marginally brighter news scattered throughout, Desi Doyen's got our latest Green News Report, with details of the Biden Administration's pushback against silly GOP critiques of his $2.25 trillion infrastructure, jobs and climate proposal; a new warning about a wave of abandoned oil and gas mines; and General Motors' plans to go all in on electric vehicles, including with their first all-electric pickup truck!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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