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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, May 17, 2022
'A Movement Not a Moment': Rev. Barber Says 'Consistency' Needed to Restore America: 'BradCast' 5/17/22
Guests: Rev. Dr. William J. Barber; Kenia Alcocer of CA Poor People's Campaign...
Sunday 'Undesirable Outcomes' Toons
You can chalk up PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection to the rightwing radicalism still unmooring our nation from facts and reality...
Attempted Stolen Election, Stolen Docs, and Yes, Murder: 'BradCast' 5/12/22
McCarthy subpoenaed for J6; New fed grand jury for Trump; Eastman advised 2020 election theft in PA; Trump, meatpackers deadly collusion; DeSantis FL gerrymander nixed...
'Green News Report' 5/12/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Great Barrier Reef bleaching again; Global warming and new diseases; Interior cancels offshore lease sales; PLUS: AZ, CA move to enact more severe drought restrictions...
Recent GNRs: 5/10/22 - 5/5/22 - Archives...
It Ain't the Supply Chain or War. It's the Greed: 'BradCast' 5/11/22
Guest: Inequality.org's Omar Ocampo: Also: NE, WV primary results (who cares what they mean for Trump?); Federal court allows assault weapon sales to CA kids...
Greene Let Off Hook in GA for 'Insurrection', Challengers Appeal: 'BradCast' 5/10/22
Guest: FSFP President John Bonifaz with updates on ballot eligibility challenges in GA, AZ, NC; Also: Leaked SCOTUS 'Roe' opinion shaking up midterms...
'Green News Report' 5/10/22
Raging wildfires in NM; Siberian fires out of control as Russian military otherwise busy; CA plan to cut cow burps; PLUS: Arctic wildfires speeding Arctic ice melt...
'2000 Mules', 74M Repub Dupes, and GOP Fraud Continues: 'BradCast' 5/9/22
Convicted election fraudster D'Souza makes a 2020 election fraud doc; Also: White GOP voter fraud criminal gets no jail time for voting twice...
Sunday 'Mothers Day' Toons
'More of a collection that reflects a future for women who'll be forced to become mothers as a result of someone else's edict'...
After Justices Lied About 'Roe', GOP Ducks, Dems Mount Response: 'BradCast' 5/6/22
Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Also: Biden's record jobs; Trump wanted to bomb Mexico...
Not Everything Sucks. Organized Labor is Rising: 'BradCast' 5/5/22
Guest: Jordan Zakarin of Progress Report, More Perfect Union; Also: Obamas on SCOTUS gutting Roe's Const'l freedoms; Big Oil's record profits, wartime profiteering...
'Green News Report' 5/5/22
EU proposes Russian oil embargo; Plummeting reservoirs prompt 'unprecedented' cutbacks, expose grim secrets in West; PLUS: CA A.G. probes plastic recycling scam...
Midterm Primary Season Kicks of With Voting System Failures in OH: 'BradCast' 5/4/22
Also: Brown defeats Turner in OH; Trump-endorsees win in OH, IN; Amazing appeals court hearing in Cawthorn eligibility case; Trump wanted to shoot BLM protesters...
'Green News Report' 5/3/22
Unprecedented heat in India, Pakistan; 20% of reptiles face extinction; Denmark to ditch natural gas; PLUS: Mass extinction in oceans could be avoided...
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: Omar Ocampo of Inequality.org: Also: NE, WV primary results and who cares what they mean for Trump?; Senate abortion vote; Federal court ruling on semi-automatic weapons sales to children in CA...
By Brad Friedman on 5/11/2022 6:35pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: Sure, the supply chain was, and occasionally still is, a problem. So is Russia's war on Ukraine, obviously. But it's the greed of billionaires and the cowardice (or corruption) of public officials to do anything about that greed in this country that must be turned around in order to save the U.S. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first, speaking of corruption...New numbers out today from the Labor Department suggest that inflation may have peaked before April. As the Times alerted today, "Inflation moderated slightly in April, though the 8.3% annual gain in U.S. consumer prices remained uncomfortably high." As AP trumpeted in its breaking news iPhone alert: "U.S. inflation slowed slightly last month, a tentative sign that prices may be peaking while still imposing a financial strain on American households." Reuters: "U.S. consumer price growth slowed sharply to 0.3% in April, suggesting that inflation may have peaked." They were all similar....Well, except for Fox "News": "Inflation higher than expected in April, holding near 40-year high."

And you wonder why Rightwingers are so angry? It's still the Fox "News", stupid.

And speaking of stupid...Midterm primaries were held in Nebraska and West Virginia on Tuesday. (Happily, unlike in Ohio last week, we saw no reports of voting problems or voting system breakdowns, so far.) As you may have noticed, pretty much every news report about Tuesday's results focused on what they mean for Donald Trump and his party and the candidates he endorsed. The incumbent U.S. House member that Trump endorsed in WV who ran for the GOP nomination against another incumbent U.S. House member who voted for Joe Biden's bipartisan infrastructure bill won on Tuesday. Kingmaker Trump's power over the party is still strong! But the 8-time accused sexual harasser that Trump endorsed and stumped for in NE's GOP Gubernatorial primary lost. Trump's influence may be faltering!

As we discuss today, that framing by the corporate media --- reporting on these critical elections through the lens of Trump --- is wildly unhelpful and ill-serves the public at a time when democracy itself is on the line this November (and in 2024). It's not about Trump. He's already captured and broken the party. And that is true if he drops dead tomorrow and Ron DeSantis --- or anyone else --- takes his place. The damage is done. So, how can we fix it? Much more on that on today's show.

And speaking of failures all around... as the nation's death toll from COVID hits a staggering 1 million... The nation's corporations and rich people are doing just fine, thanks.

Big Oil continues to raise prices at the pump for consumers by pretending that its caused by post-pandemic supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine, even as they continue to rake in record profits (not revenue, but profits) in recent months. The profiteering --- under the guise of supply chain-induced "inflation" --- is also seen in other industries, of course, including the food industry, as well as the apparel business. In their latest reports on the industry profiteering, Accountable.us President Kyle Herrig appropriately derides "the industries most unapologetic about charging their customers more during a fragile economic recovery, apparently just because they can." And they can, because we let them develop monopolies and near-monopolies so there is little or no price competition left in the "free market".

And then there are the the nation's 727 billionaires whose growth in net worth over the two-plus years of the pandemic --- while you were struggling to stay employed, housed and fed --- is up $1.71 trillion from March 2020 to May 2022. That's a gain of more than the entire annual GDP of Canada for just those 727 U.S. billionaires. The biggest winner seems to have been Elon Musk, whose personal wealth was valued at just under $25 billion in March of 2020. Now, after two years of a pandemic economy, his wealth is said to be $255 billion as of the beginning of this month.

How did that happen? Why did that happen? What can and should be done about it? And does anyone in D.C. --- any one, from any party --- have the courage and ability to lead the nation to do anything about it?

All of those questions and more are answered today by our guest, OMAR OCAMPO of the Institute for Policy Studies' Program on Inequality and the Common Good, who asks today, "What about the rest of us? The median income, comparing 2020 to 2021, for your average U.S. worker has actually decreased by $2,000. And our median household wealth, comparing 2019 to 2001, has actually decreased. So yes, when you look at it by income or wealth percentile, it has been the top 10%, but especially the top 1%, that have seen impressive gains."

Ocampo helps explain how it happened, and what steps can and must be made to reverse this obscene continuing trend. Among the policy ideas discussed --- several of which have long been pushed by members of the progressive caucus in Congress --- a wealth tax on the assets of the richest Americans; partial student loan forgiveness; establishing a federal Commission on Profiteering, empowered with the ability to claw back some of what has been robbed from American consumers; strengthening organized labor and democracy itself.

And, yes, he explains, that will mean voting for more Democrats in Congress and at all levels of government. Hopefully good ones. Or this is going to continue to get much, much worse.

"The Republicans, from an ideological perspective, they are not interested in having some type of government intervention in order to solve societal problems," Ocampo charges. "They normally pivot towards philanthropy. But now is not the time to pivot to philanthropy, mainly because philanthropy does not scale, and it also denies public accountability for social problems or things that have to deal with the public good. So issues that affect the public should involve public input, and it should be carried out by democratic institutions."

"Economic inequality translates into political inequality. And the greater your material resources, the greater your access to participate in the state," he tells me. "This is very detrimental to democracy, because it makes the democratic institutions unresponsive to what the majority wants. The majority wants increased taxes on the wealthy, but it never seems to happen. That's probably because of their influence they have on both political parties."

"Elections matter, and to alleviate, especially in the short term, it would be best to elect Democrats. Because there is a section of the Democratic Party, specifically those that self-identify as progressives, who care about wealth inequality and know that it has distorting effects across our whole society."

Finally today, speaking of things getting much worse... Democrats held a show vote in the U.S. Senate to codify abortion rights (the Constitutional freedoms about to be taken away by the stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court) after the Women's Health Protect Act was already passed by Democrats in the House. As expected, all Republicans and Joe Manchin voted against it, so the measure failed to reach the 60 votes necessary to do almost anything in the undemocratic Senate.

And, also breaking during today's program, an insane, corrupted federal appeals court in California decided that the state's law restricting the purchase of semi-automatic firearms to those 21 or older is a violation of the Constitution's 2nd Amendment. So, yup, apparently 12-year olds in CA can now buy semi-automatic weapons! Have fun, kids!

Did I mention we need more democracy and fewer corrupted federal judges? Yeah, that also comes with voting. Please get busy. Thanks...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Prof. Jeffrey Sonnenfeld of Yale School of Management; Also: More climate-fueled disasters in LA, TX; And, where is Clarence Thomas?...
By Brad Friedman on 3/23/2022 6:47pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: If you might otherwise expect a Senior Associate Dean at Yale University's School of Business Management to be a stodgy, rightwing, so-called pro-business conservative, think again. The one joining us today, naming and shaming major international corporations for continuing to do business with Russia even after their barbaric, nearly month-long destruction of Ukraine, is anything but. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But first up today, very quickly, what you need to know about the deadly tornado swarm that slammed Louisiana and Texas overnight. It's just the latest in an increasingly long and violent string of climate change-fueled disasters slamming both states. Desi Doyen explains what climate scientists are learning about changes in tornadic weather as our climate crisis worsens in places like her old home state of Texas which, in recent years, has faced one such costly and deadly disaster after another (as the Republicans who control the state pretend fossil fuels have nothing to do with it.) From hurricanes to flooding to cold snaps that knock out power to the recent drought and wild fires which, at least last night's storms helped, in part, to have quelled a bit for now.

Next: Where is Clarence Thomas? The wildly corrupt U.S. Supreme Court Justice was admitted to the hospital last Friday, though the Court didn't announce it until Sunday, when their statement said he was being treated with intravenous antibiotics for an "infection" and "flu-like symptoms." The Court said on Sunday that the 73-year old Thomas would be out of the hospital by Monday or Tuesday. But, as of Wednesday, the Court had no comment on his whereabouts or his condition. Hmm...That, as Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson faced another ridiculous day of childish questioning from Republicans in her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings to replace Justice Stephen Breyer on the High Court.

Then, we're joined by Yale School of Management's Senior Associate Dean and Professor of Management Practice JEFFREY SONNENFELD for a very lively discussion of the more than 450 American and international corporations that have withdrawn partially or fully from Russia, and the smaller (but still substantive and extremely shameful) number of companies still doing business there during Putin's deadly siege on his sovereign neighbor.

Sonnenfeld and his team of colleagues and researchers at the school began by compiling a list of those companies who had pulled out of Russia shortly after Putin's invasion, and those that had yet to. That "Hall of Shame" list has since gained a great deal of public attention and, he tells us, has both helped to both encourage and shame CEOs into shutting their doors in Russia.

"We just had a session with 70 CEOs --- you're the first to know about this --- major CEOs across the face of American industry, with General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff," Sonnenfeld tells us. "And he did emphasize that they are working off our list. We're humbled by that, but we know that people on Wall Street and the activist community are using it" as well.

Since its initial creation, the list is now broken down into more specific categories, including companies that have announced a full "Withdrawal"; others which merely declared a "Suspension" of operations for now; those that are "Scaling Back" by reducing operations; and the two most pernicious categories of companies that are either "Buying Time" by postponing new investments while continuing substantive business or, worst of all, "Digging In" by defying all demands to leave or even reduce operations there.

While Sonnenfeld notes that the list remains "a moving target", with several companies see their rating changed even as we went to air (the fossil fuel services giant Halliburton was moved from the worst, "Digging In," to the second worst, "Buying Time" today, for example), you'll be delighted to know our friends at the rightwing dark money conglomerate Koch Industries and its crappy paper subsidiaries like Georgia-Pacific, are staying put with Team Fascist Dictator for now.

On the other hand, Sonnenfeld says that he was pleasantly surprised that a number of Big Oil companies, "not usually on the leading edge of social change," pulled out early on. But, he has a thought or two for companies like Dunkin Donuts, Nestle, Mars candy and, yes, the rightwing Koch Industries, which, for its part, says they are staying in Russia for what they describe as the "health, safety and wellbeing of all employees. Leaving, they assert, "would only put our employees there at greater risk and do more harm than good."

Koch also justified their decision by claiming they refuse to "hand over these manufacturing facilities to the Russian government so it can operate and benefit from them." Sonnefeld identifies that as closer to the real reason Koch doesn't want to leave. "It's so ludicrous, on every level," he tells me. "There are now millions and million of employees that used to work for Western companies" now out of work in Russia. If all of those companies pulled out, "there wouldn't be a shred of legitimacy for the government. It would make the revolution happen instantly." He argues Russia couldn't "round up fifteen million people and then figure out what to do with them because they're not working for Western companies anymore. It's ridiculous."

Even companies like McDonald's, which has at least done the right thing by shuttering its 850 stores in Russia, only gets a "B" grade on the list's second, "Suspension" category, as they continue to pay their workers there in hopes of returning. "It allows Putin and Putin supporters to say, 'This was just ceremonial, it's temporary. You don't need to worry, they're not really leaving, they'll be back.'"

When asked if the company should receive plaudits for helping to keep their from going hungry, Sonnenfeld is unimpressed. "Those 60,000 people should be out of work and in the streets. That's what people don't understand on this," he insists. "They say, 'Oh, innocent Russians aren't responsible for what Putin is doing.' Yes, they are! It's their complacency. Putin is in power, not because he is popularly elected. He rules because of this iron fist of being a murderous tyrant. To take that on you've got to go in there with warfare. If we don't want to do that, one thing we can do to help those innocent Russians is to at least get them angry to be part of a civil disobedience, to be part of a shutdown of civil society."

He cites "bloodless revolutions" elsewhere, charging that "if you freeze up the economy, then you get people angry, out on the streets, and they bring down the government. But to keep them complacent and comfortable, that does no good whatsoever."

While recognizing the lack of a free press in Russia at this point, Sonnenfeld also has little sympathy. "It's because they willingly don't want to know. It isn't just because they don't get a free press. When all their favorite brands shut down and they're out of work --- if all of these non-Russian companies say 'You're a rogue nation!' --- maybe they'll start to realize that what Putin is telling them, that he's trying to 'liberate' Ukraine, they'll realize that's not true."

As you might guess, Sonnenfeld, the author of many books and academic papers on business management, leadership, and corporate governance, has much more to say on this subject and on the many companies who have done what he sees as the right thing, as well as those he feels should be penalized by the American people for failing to do so.

You can view the list or download a searchable Excel version here. But, first, you'll want to tune in for today's very lively and colorful conversation with Sonnenfeld...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: New IPCC Report warns we're out of time to adapt to climate change; SCOTUS aims to kill the EPA; Callers ring in on Russia/Ukraine horror...
By Brad Friedman on 2/28/2022 6:44pm PT  

It was a very lively BradCast today, even amidst horrible times. So there's that. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, Desi Doyen joins us for a too-brief summary of the latest report, issued today, by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), warning that the world is running out of time to prevent the worst effects of climate change and even our ability to adapt to it. The new report is almost 4,000 pages, but at least she gets several minutes to explain all of it!

Similarly, we briefly discuss oral argument at SCOTUS today in which the Republicans' stolen and packed Court majority has, virtually out of the blue, decided to hear a challenge to Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan, even though it was never even implemented. The point here, by the newly far-right Court, is clearly to gut the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s regulatory power, despite meeting their mandate for decades to institute regulations that protect the environment and Americans within it. This latest gambit by the Court is akin to their recent move that blocked OSHA's ability to regulate safety in the workplace with a vaccine mandate. Make no mistake: The U.S. Supreme Court is gutting Executive Branch agencies ability to do their job. It is the final step of the GOP's long effort to "deconstruct the administrative state," as many, such as Steve Bannon, have long vowed.

Next, it's on to the latest news in Russian President Vladimir Putin's horrific, appalling, inexcusable war on 41 million innocent men, women and children in Ukraine, after he issued yet another veiled threat over the weekend to use nuclear weapons.

On the upside, peace talks between Ukraine and Russia took place over the past 24 hours, and are on pause as the representatives from both sides take early results of discussions back to their capitals.

In the meantime, the world, at least the western world, continues to unify in opposition to Russia's aggression. The U.S. and 27 EU nations continue to institute more and more crippling financial sanctions against Russia, its banks, companies and oligarchs, despite the considerable costs that will be borne in response by those nations. Many of them, including the U.S. are also sending more weapons to help Ukrainians defend themselves from a slower-than-expected, but still very deadly, assault by Russia, including with the use of cluster munitions deployed to densely populated urban neighborhoods. Germany is upping its commitment to NATO. Finland is considering joining. Even Switzerland(!) has reversed decades of neutrality to freeze Russian assets. Oil companies BP and Shell have announced they are dumping their considerable stakes in Russia's state-owned oil and gas companies (though we're still waiting on Big Oil companies in the U.S. to do the same.) The NYSE and Nasdaq announced they are halting trading of Russian-owned companies.

Russia's appalling aggression has, it seems, united much of the free world against them. So why are there actually some on the American left --- the theoretically anti-war left --- who seem unable to condemn Russia for their unprovoked atrocities? Even some folks who listen to this program?

We have covered in detail many of the legitimate complaints Russia has long had against NATO and the U.S. We have long been, in fact, sympathetic to many of those complaints and have been critical of overly-hawkish Democrats (and Republicans). But when one nation launches a massive, deadly assault on a sovereign neighbor that posed absolutely no threat to them, all bets are off. Any benefit of doubt goes out the window. At least until they call off the attacks and withdraw their troops.

As we noted last week after Russia began their assault (and again on Twitter over the weekend) we oppose naked aggression by nuclear-armed superpowers, whether its the U.S. attacking Iraq or Russia attacking Ukraine. This is an easy call.

Nonetheless, we share some email today in response to that position (which seemed fairly uncontroversial, especially for a largely progressive audience) and open up the phone lines today to a bunch of callers to try and find out why some on the supposed "anti-war left" are having trouble with that idea.

Among today's lively discussions with callers, the truth about Russia's misleading claims about "denazifying" Ukraine (there is an ultra-nationalist faction there, but they have no seats in Parliament, and by the way, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish and lost several family members to Nazis during WWII) and one caller who simply can't even find it within himself to condemn Russia's horrific attack on 41 million innocent people in Ukraine. (Though, to be fair, I couldn't tell you if the caller is actually on "the left" or not)...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: The American Prospect's David Dayen on the magazine's ambitious Special Issue: Also: Gun-maker settles with Sandy Hook families; Prince Andrew settles sex-abuse case; Palin loses (again); Putin blinks?...
By Brad Friedman on 2/15/2022 6:05pm PT  

Today on The BradCast, we tackle another small, totally easy to solve issue: Untangling the worldwide supply chain debacle. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, before that, at least a few stories seem to be resolving themselves today...

  • Nine families of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre settled their lawsuit with Remington, the manufacturer and marketer of the semi-automatic rifle used to kill their family members, for $73 million. The deal is noteworthy because federal law bans such suits against the gun industry, but Connecticut law does not. In this case, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Remington's attempt to block the suit based on the protections in federal law.
  • Prince Andrew settled a lawsuit filed against him by a woman who says she was 17-years old when she was sexually abused by Andrew, as coerced by the late financier and child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. The settlement includes an undisclosed donation to the charity of the victim, Virginia Giuffre, and an acknowledgement by Andrew that she has suffered abuse as a victim It is unknown if Giuffre will personally receive any money as part of the agreement.
  • Both a jury and a judge helped settle former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's defamation lawsuit against the New York Times by rejecting it in no uncertain terms. On Tuesday, the jury in the civil trial brought by Palin found the Times' editorial board not guilty of libeling the former GOP Vice Presidential nominee. The paper had erroneously cited a "clear link" between a map published by a Palin campaign websites featuring a gun site on certain Congressional districts --- including then Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords' --- and the 2013 mass shooting in Tuscon that killed six people and critically injured the Congresswoman. The jury's rejection of Palin's suit came the day after the judge, as the jury was still deliberating, declared that he planned to dismiss the case anyway after finding that Palin failed to prove the paper acted maliciously against her. For its part, the Times described the verdict as "reaffirmation of a fundamental tenet of American law: public figures should not be permitted to use libel suits to punish or intimidate news organizations that make, acknowledge and swiftly correct unintentional errors."
  • And, in the weeks-long Russian/Ukraine military stand-off, there was a long-awaited easing of tensions as President Putin announced that Russia was ready for talks with the U.S. and NATO on a number of issues and that some Russian forces on the border with Ukraine would be withdrawing. President Biden, however, in remarks this afternoon at the White House, said the U.S. had "not yet verified" any troop withdraws and that a Russian invasion of Ukraine remained a possibility. The White House noted, however, that the U.S. remains opens to high-level diplomacy in hopes of avoiding military conflict in Europe.

On that news, Wall Street rallied after weeks of saber-rattling had weighed down the market and helped send oil and gas prices through the roof, serving as another reminder today of just one more way that our vulnerable supply chain can wreak havoc on an otherwise booming economy.

As it turns out, The American Prospect recently devoted an entire Special Issue for February to a very related topic: "The Supply Chain Debacle: How bad policy—outsourcing, financialization, monopolization, deregulation, and just-in-time logistics—broke our supply chains, raised costs and caused shortages."

We're joined today by The Prospect's Executive Editor and author David Dayen to help us untangle the mess that has been made over the past 40 or 50 years, under both political parties in this rare case, of a supply chain that has exposed its vulnerabilities with the onset of the COVID pandemic two years ago. But since then, it has continued to reveal its ill-designed brittleness and the very serious threat it poses to America's economic security.

Dayen walks us through how his Special Issue delves into the broad failures of the supply chain, largely put in place over the years by the Wall Street "free market" to maximize corporate profit at the expense of American jobs and national security...in exchange for cheap prices on goods! As Dayen details, the problems here are not one single failure across the chain, but as he breaks down, "multiple 'single points of failure'" across industry after industry all along the broken chain.

"We designed a system over the course of decades --- both parties --- that had lean inventories, that relied on offshore production, that relied on this concept of globalization," he explains. "That allowed the production facilities to become very concentrated. That allowed the spokes within the system to become concentrated. That deregulated everything to try to lower prices on shipping and transportation. And that allowed Wall Street to take the primary role in governing these efforts --- in other words, telling corporations 'Yes, you have to move your production offshore for cheap labor', and 'We have to deregulate these industries so that costs stay low,' and 'You have to have just-in-time production so that you don't have any inventory sitting around just wasting money, and we're spending too much money on warehouses.'"

With this precarious, profit-driven system in place, Dayen steps through The Prospect's full team coverage of how a virus breaking out in a manufacturing hub in China can shut down the entire system. Any sudden increase in a demand for goods --- say, during a pandemic --- ends up tying the giant, oligopolized over-seas container shipping system into knots and stranding massive cargo ships at sea while there is no room left for off-loading at U.S. ports. Once finally off-loaded, sometimes after months waiting in line off-shore, a U.S. rail system run by just a couple of companies and a trucking system that doesn't pay workers nearly enough for their efforts further bottlenecks the process. Then there's the vast lack of warehouse space for all those goods if they can ever get to where they need to be. All the while, these disruptions and failures work to the benefit of the largest distributors --- like Amazon and Walmart --- while cutting the knees out from under independent retailers and raising prices for everyone. So much for those low prices that consumers, at least, were supposed to get out of the deal.

But, as Dayen also explains, it doesn't take a pandemic. A cross-border bridge protest in Canada, saber-rattling in Eastern Europe or the Middle East and, perhaps even more crippling to the supply chain over the past year than anything else, climate change related disasters which promise to only get much more frequent and severe in the years ahead.

"The problem is the supply chain is run on these knife-edge principles that make it impossible for it to adjust to a shift up in demand. That is the entire problem," he argues. "So people who go on and say, 'No, this isn't a problem, it's just this shift. Everything will be fine.' They're missing the point. The point is that this lack of adjustment reflects problems with how the system is engineered."

And, yes, Dayen has advice on how to re-engineer the entire system. The good news, he also explains, is that both corporations and members of Congress --- from BOTH parties --- seem to finally be getting it. They are looking at and passing bills that encourage (and spend money on) the regionalization and onshoring of manufacturing back here in the U.S., and the Biden administration is investing heavily --- when Congress allows them --- into a number of long-overdue fixes.

It may all sound dry on paper, but it's actually a fascinating and very lively conversation on today's program that I hope you'll tune in for.

Finally --- and including a few related points --- Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, on the crippling Western U.S. megadrought; the Biden Administration's roll-out of a national EV charging network; the spike in oil prices amid tensions in Russia-Ukraine; and the Super Bowl blitz by U.S. carmakers launching long overdue electric vehicle production lines...

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Manchin is trying to kill the most progressive Presidential agenda in decades; Omicron is trying to kill everyone; Both are killing Christmas; Plus: Trump's new lawsuit means he's in trouble; And callers ring in!...
By Brad Friedman on 12/20/2021 5:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Merry Christmas. Christmas is cancelled. Thanks Joe Manchin and Omicron.

Manchin dropped a bombshell over the weekend, announcing on Fox "News" that he could not support the Build Back Better (BBB) act, the better part of the historically progressive agenda of President Biden and of largely every other Democrat in the House and Senate. That, after the measure was scaled from a $6.5 trillion package to just $1.75 trillion in order to appease the West Virginia Democrat. If Manchin remains a "NO", the bill --- and, perhaps the Biden Presidency along with it --- is largely dead. The White House offered an unusually lenthy and, frankly, blistering statement in response to Manchin, calling him out for his lack of "good faith" and broken promises made to the President personally. We share that blistering response in full today.

It should be noted that all of the limp reasons Manchin offered for breaking his promise to support BBB are all BS. The bill is fully paid for (unlike the bipartisan infrastructure bill that Manchin whole-heartedly supported and voted for) and it will actual lower the national deficit eventually, not increase it; The bill will not worsen inflation either. It will in fact, ease it. Moreover, since Manchin's announcement, the biggest Wall Street economists have actually downgraded their outlook for 2022 based on Manchin's sleazy move; And no, the monthly child tax credit expansion that lifted half of the nation's children out of poverty during its first year, after originally being included in Biden's American Rescue Plan earlier this year, will not lead parents to spend it on drugs.

The bad news (for now) of Manchin's self-serving decision is on par with COVID's decision to not be done with us yet, as the Omicron variant, just before airtime, was declared by the CDC to now be the most dominant variant in the nation. They say it now accounts for about 73% of new cases. That was fast. As we'd warned. That's how wildly transmissible it is. Desi Doyen joins us with some clear, sobering thoughts from WaPo's national science reporter Dan Diamond that you may wish to consider on how to help keep yourself and your family safe over the holidays.

On this matter, it should be noted, since some are dismissing the dangers of Omicron --- citing its predicted infections as mostly "mild" --- that means only that many cases may not result in hospitalization. Don't fool yourself by convincing yourself that, even if you do contract Omicron, it will most likely be a "mild" case of COVID. Short of asymptomatic cases, a "mild" version of COVID could lay you up for weeks or longer. It means you won't be hospitalized, but that's about it. And, yes, it's going to land a lot of people in the hospital, as experts believe we're likely to begin seeing as many as 500,000 infections per day. During the January 2021 peak we had "only" about 250,000 infections a day.

Finally, before opening up the phones today to listeners on Manchin, Omicron and more, some slightly better news. Donald Trump is terrified that he is soon to be indicted in New York. So, as he does when he knows he's in big trouble, he has filed a ridiculous lawsuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James in hopes of buying time. It probably won't work.

Then, callers ring in on all of the above. It was a very lively show --- particularly considering the content we had to work with today...

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Guest: American Prospect's David Dayen; Also: Omicron lab studies suggest booster shots critical; Congressional priorities laid bare...
By Brad Friedman on 12/8/2021 6:15pm PT  

The U.S. economy, of course, has been rigged for years. The pandemic, in the meantime, has now made that clearer than ever. Not that the corporate media is bothering to explain it to Americans. So, w try to do so on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up, results from several, eagerly awaited new lab studies on the effectiveness of the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna on the Omicron variant have been released over the past 24 hours. Two independent studies, one from South Africa and another from Sweden, along with a press release on findings of a study by Pfizer, all suggest that getting a booster shot as soon as possible is the best way to avoid severe illness both from Omicron and all of the other previously-known variants. We walk you through the details and explain the findings today.

The upshot: Two vaccine doses and natural immunity from COVID is way better against Omicron than just two vaccine doses. Two vaccine doses and a booster shot is as good or better than two doses and COVID. So, unless you want to try your luck by getting COVID to protect yourself against it, a booster shot, right now, is your very best best. That, as infections, hospitalizations and deaths are all beginning to sky-rocket again, as the nation is on the verge of 800,000 COVID deaths.

Next, we've been reporting for the past several weeks on the lousy job the corporate media have been doing in covering what is, overall, a surprisingly robust economic recovery in the first year of the Biden Administration, as the nation (and world) struggles to emerge from our nearly two-year pandemic.

One of the media's worst and most misleading points of coverage has been on the matter of inflation. And, while our regular, global supply chains have certainly become knotted up, leading to legitimate upward price pressures, much of the added costs for goods and services is now thanks to good old profiteering and price fixing by companies which have been enjoying record profits, even during the worst of the pandemic and subsequent supply chain snarls.

As our guest today, author and financial journalist DAVID DAYEN, Executive Editor of The American Prospect recently reported, "In a time of high inflation, you hear a lot about companies 'passing costs' on to customers. In order for companies to maintain their God-given right to earn a profit, they must raise prices to offset the cost of producing goods and getting them into peoples’ hands. And thanks mostly to the hidden risk, exposed by the pandemic, of neoliberal gospels like just-in-time logistics, deregulation, and offshoring, prices really are going up."

"But," he continues, "there’s something else mixed in with this latest bout of inflation. Companies aren’t just passing costs onto us. With corporations using inflation as a cover for raising their prices, you and I are passing profits onto companies."

Dayen, author of the new book Monopolized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power, details how companies are not only profiteering, price-fixing and colluding to do so, they're actually bragging about it, out loud, on corporate earnings calls. That is sending up both stock prices and profits up for hundreds of the most profitable public corporations, many of whom have monopolistically been allowed to corner their markets, giving consumers few, if any, cheaper alternatives for the products and services they sell. Companies that don't play ball --- like Target, which announced they would not be raising prices --- have been punished, in turn, by Wall Street for daring to do so.

"The problem is that we have a business climate today where people have locked in their customer base. Your customers can't escape, because we have a series of consolidated companies that have a stranglehold on market share, and we don't even know that it's happening. You stroll down a grocery aisle and you see hundreds of items, but you don't know that the same handful of companies have created all of them," Dayen explains today. "And that's why you have large companies like Proctor & Gamble and Unilever saying 'We know we can raise prices on people...and we don't have to worry about any kind of material reaction.'" The same is true, of course, with many other companies, such as the Big Oil cartel, which is raking in record profits as raw materials fall, but failing to reflect those falling costs at the pump.

So, what, if anything, can be done about it? Are Presidents and their Administrations actually able to take actions that might roll back the corporate profiteering? Yes, Dayen explains, at least some, both with the use of the bully pulpit --- which, in the model of JFK, Biden has begun to try and do --- and also with the use of existing anti-trust and anti-price-fixing laws that are still on the books today, if rarely enforced.

"It is price-fixing," Dayen tells me. "But we don't spend a whole lot of time on that anymore in America. It's still unlawful. It's still occasionally prosecuted. And now we do have a different regime at places like the Federal Trade Commission, and the anti-trust division at the Justice Department." He believes that several key, progressive Biden appointments at both may be able to "turn the tide" back against corporate mergers and unapologetic (and potentially unlawful) corporate greed. "There is certainly a faction within the White House that feels like this is a serious problem and that we have to do everything possible to stamp it out," he says, but "they're swimming upstream, as it were."

There is a lot on these points to discuss with Dayen today. As well, we also get his reaction to the announcement today that Biden is withdrawing his nomination of Saule Omarova as Comptroller of the Currency, a key banking regulator, after red-baiting by Republican Senators (she was born in the Soviet Union) and concerns from conservative Democrats that she might be too tough on big banks. He also offers his two cents on our complaints, of late, about the terrible job that corporate media are doing in covering both Joe Biden and the economy.

Finally, after months of pretend complaints by Republicans and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin that spending $1.75 trillion in paid-for taxpayer dollars to expand health care, education, child care, elder care, and fight climate change over the next ten years in the Build Back Better bill is just too much money to spend for a poor country like ours, the House on Tuesday night, in record time, passed its latest annual defense spending bill with a lopsided bi-partisan vote in favor (opposed largely only by progressive Democrats). It'll cost nearly one trillion dollar ($768 billion, $24 billion more than the Biden Administration even asked for) for one single year of military spending --- much of which will go to stuff we never use and/or literally blow up.

Priorities.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Chuck Collins of Institute for Policy Studies' Inequality.org; Also: 2021 flu season proves masks work; Swalwell latest to sue Trump...
By Brad Friedman on 3/5/2021 7:00pm PT  

Prepare to be outraged by some gobsmacking and maddening numbers from today's guest on The BradCast. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

But first, speaking of startling numbers, statistics from this year's flu season prove that masks and social distancing do indeed help to prevent viral transmission and death. That, of course, is bad news for residents of Texas and Mississippi, where their idiot Governors this week lifted statewide mask mandates and all restrictions on businesses, even as COVID infection rates are on the rise in both states. Both are among the top 10 worst states in the nation in that regard in recent weeks. Mississippi leads the nation, with Texas not far behind. And that was before they ended statewide mandates this week in contradiction of strong advice from health experts.

In Washington, Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA), one of the House Impeachment Managers during Donald Trump's second Impeachment Trial, filed suit against the disgraced former President, his son Don Jr., Rudy Giuliani and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) for their roles in inciting the January 6th U.S. Capitol insurrection. Swalwell's civil complaint follows on a similar one filed last month by Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson and the NAACP.

At the same time today, the U.S. Senate continued debate over the American Rescue Plan, President Biden's $1. 9 trillion emergency COVID relief and stimulus package after Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin forced an all-night reading of the 628-page measure that was passed by the House late last week. In addition to funds to speed distribution of vaccines, the bill includes $1,400 payments to Americans making less than $75,000, an extension of federal unemployment benefits, hundreds of millions to reopen schools safely, and to supplement lost revenue to hard-hit, cash-strapped states and cities.

As tens of millions of Americans have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and are both struggling to keep a roof over their heads and put food on the table, the relief can't come soon enough, despite zero votes of support from Republicans in either the House or Senate, so far, for the otherwise wildly popular bill. Johnson described it as a "boondoggle" full of unnecessary spending that would blow out the national deficit, even as it will cost the same amount of money that he and all the other Republicans voted in favor of when they passed Donald Trump's 2017 tax cuts for mostly wealthy Americans and corporations.

But while Senators --- even on the Democratic side --- squabble over whether unemployment payments should be $400 a week and last through August, or $300 a week and last until September, America's 664 billionaires could cover almost the entire cost of the measure from only the money they've made during the last 11 months of the pandemic.

We spoke last Summer with CHUCK COLLINS, Director of the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies, where he co-edits Inequality.org, about his "Billionaire Bonanza 2020" report. Today, he joins us again with a maddening update to that report, finding that, as more than half a million Americans died, 73 million lost work, nearly 100,000 business permanently closed, 29 million adults reported their household did not have enough food over the past week and 11 million children didn't eat enough because their household couldn't afford to fully feed them, the 664 billionaires in the U.S. actually gained $1.3 trillion in added wealth since the beginning of the pandemic!

The profits of that handful of mostly white, male billionaires could cover more than two-thirds of the entire $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and, "At $4.2 trillion," Collins' updated report reveals, "the total wealth of America's 664 billionaires is also more than two-thirds higher than the $2.4 trillion in total wealth held by the bottom half of the population, 165 million Americans."

Those are just some of the startling numbers from his latest report, highlighting the obscene inequality in the U.S., made even worse by the nearly year-long coronavirus pandemic. Shamefully, all of the numbers are still worse for women and people of color. "The inequalities of income and wealth and the racial wealth divide were the pre-existing conditions as we went into the pandemic," he explains. Collins tell me that "the number of people who have no financial reserves --- zero, or negative financial wealth" is "14% of white households...but double that, 28% of Black households, 26% of Latino households...[and] that was before the pandemic."

"That's why 660 billionaires can have almost twice as much as the bottom half of US households --- because the bottom half doesn't have much!," he reports. So, what to do about it? Will the American Rescue Plan help? How about Sen. Elizabeth Warren's recently refiled "Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act" that would tax two cents of every dollar of wealth above $50 million, generating at least $3 trillion in revenue over ten years in the bargain.

Warren cites Collins' new study in making the case for her new wealth tax proposal. Her proposal is wildly popular among voters of all political stripes, as she pitched a similar version during her Presidential run last year. The fact that it isn't already the law, Collins argues, "is simply a reflection of the power of wealthy interests to block change in our political system. It's not that they're changing the political system --- they're able to stop and thwart and block change. And that's unfortunately what we're up against."

"That's the debate we're watching right now in the Senate," he adds, "where half the members in the Senate, they don't have a program to help America get through these hard times. They just want to block the one that would actually make a difference. Unfortunately, the Republicans have been the 'Party of No' because they don't want government to succeed in making a difference in people's lives, because that would undermine their whole program."

Yes, we've got a lot to discuss today with Collins, whose newest book out this month, The Wealth Hoarders: How Billionaires Spend Millions to Hide Trillions, details "the shadowy Wealth Defense Industry," which he explains today as well. Sen. Bernie Sanders writes that "Chuck's book reveals a blueprint for reversing this obscene inequality so we can take back our democracy and ensure that our government works for everybody --- not just the billionaire class and wealthy campaign contributors"...

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Lone Star State's corrupt Ken Paxton hopes to nullify millions of American votes in 4 states, undermine democracy, win a Trump pardon as prize...
By Brad Friedman on 12/9/2020 7:47pm PT  

"We will never surrender," Donald Trump told his brain-poisoned MAGA Mob over the weekend in Valdosta, Georgia after the American people decisively voted for him to lose the 2020 Election. "We will only win. We're gonna win. We always win. Somehow we find a way to win," he declared. Of course, a "win" for Trump, as we detail on today's BradCast, would require the nullification of tens of millions of lawful votes to undermine democracy and the will of the American people in order to steal the election. Trump is all in for that, as he made clear yet again today. [Audio link to full show is posted beneath summary.]

In the meantime, the Trump Campaign lost yet again in court on Tuesday night, as the Nevada Supreme Court agreed with a lower state court that there was no evidence of fraud that could have possibly reversed his loss to Joe Biden in the state by more than 33,000 votes. Team Trump has now lost more than 50 such cases in both state and federal court since Election Day, in no small part because they've failed to present any of evidence of "massive fraud" in any court, despite the false claims made by Trump dozens of times a day since then.

But he continues to try and strong-arm whoever he can --- the GOP leaders of the Michigan legislature, the Republican Governor of Georgia, the Republican leaders of the Pennsylvania House --- in hopes they will abet his unconstitutional coup. His latest "victory" in that Loser's Battle was a letter sent by about 70 members of the Pennsylvania legislature to the state's Congressional delegation to ask them to please disenfranchise every voter in the Keystone State by voting against accepting the state's 20 electors on January 6th. (Mark that day on your calendar, by the way. It's going to be a very long one. I explain why on today's show.) The Republican leader of the state Senate said she feared her house would be "bombed" if she had chosen not to sign the letter. (She didn't, but only because she wasn't given the chance.) Death threats come to all of those Republicans who do not cow to the MAGA Mob, no matter how Trumpy they may otherwise be, no matter how long they have already gamed the system to try and please him.

In Texas, the wildly corrupt, long-ago-indicted Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton, the state's top "law enforcement" official, is already facing state charges for securities fraud felonies and, more recently, eight of his top, very rightwing staffers left the office and informed federal officials that Paxton has been violating the law by using his agency to do favors for a political donor. The FBI is reportedly investigating the charges of bribery and abuse of office. Paxton could probably really use a preemptive pardon and quickly from this outgoing President. This week, he came up with just the ticket that is very likely to win one for him!

Paxton filed a lawsuit on behalf of Texas directly with the U.S. Supreme Court, seeking to toss out the results of the elections in four states --- Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia --- claiming changes to their voting laws due to the COVID pandemic violated the U.S. Constitution. Coincidentally, there are just enough electors in those states that if they weren't allowed to vote, or if they voted for Trump instead, he could "win" the second term that he clearly lost.

We explain the ostensible basis for Paxton's suit today, which relies on a radical reading of the U.S. Constitution to nullify any and all votes cast by voters based on laws or rules or regulations set by state Governors or Secretaries of State or Boards of Elections or even state courts, rather than state legislatures only. Paxton also tosses in some long-ago debunked fraud claims that even the Trump Campaign hasn't tried to argue in their own failed lawsuits (no, there were no "suitcases full of ballots being pulled out from underneath tables" in Atlanta), and some bullshit "commonly accepted statistical tests," just for good measure, claiming, for instance, that the chances Joe Biden could win all four states against a titan of Great Americanism like Donald Trump "is less than one in a quadrillion" according to "expert analysis".

But, in the Trump Era, facts don't matter. Convincing, muscling, threatening, strong-arming Republican stooges into doing his bidding is all that matters, even if those stooges are on Trump's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court. All nine Justices unanimously rejected another challenge that sought to toss out only 2.5 million votes in Pennsylvania on Tuesday. Hopefully they see through this similarly transparent attempt to steal the election and/or win Paxton a preemptive pardon for his federal crimes.

Of note, the Texas state Solicitor General, who would normally take the lead on big cases to be argued before SCOTUS, didn't sign Paxton's 154-page complaint [PDF]. Only he and his new chief deputy (the last one left due to concerns about bribes the AG has allegedly taken) and a private, outside attorney were willing to do so. That attorney is presumably being paid by the taxpayer dollars of Texans who already employ hundreds of capable attorneys in the AG's office who wanted nothing to do with this case, apparently.

Nonetheless, the terrified incumbent Republican U.S. Senators in Georgia --- both facing serious challenges from Democrats in two runoff elections on January 5 that will determine control of the U.S. Senate --- issued a statement of support for the Texas Attorney General's attempt to rob Georgia's own voters, even as their own state's Republican Attorney General described the TX complaint as "constitutionally, legally and factually wrong."

In other news today that doesn't concern pathetic simpering Republicans kowtowing to a desperate, wannabe strongman, the comptroller of New York State has announced plans to divest the state's enormous, $226 billion pension fund from the fossil fuel sector, sending shockwaves through Wall Street and a jolt of excitement through the climate movement. Desi Doyen joins us to explain why this is such a big deal.

Finally, we close with our latest Green News Report on the globe's hottest November since record keeping began; the Trump EPA's decision to help kill tens of thousands of more Americans each year on their way out the door; Denmark's decision to leave the rest of their fossil fuels in the ground, and much more...

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Debunking wingnut 'voter fraud' nonsense while welcoming them to the fight against private voting vendors and inviting them to join our call for hand-marked paper ballots in GA's upcoming U.S. Senate runoffs...
By Brad Friedman on 11/9/2020 7:44pm PT  

Well, it took long enough --- much longer than media usually wait --- but by Saturday morning, they finally recognized the obvious by calling Pennsylvania, and thus the Presidential election, for Joe Biden. The Right --- from the religious wacko Right to the non-religious wacko Right --- are in the midst of some pretty serious denial about it all, as we share at the top of today's BradCast, along with a few quick headlines, some serious debunkery, an invitation to Republicans to join the election integrity movement, and a bunch of gleeful calls from listeners. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

Among the quick headlines today: yet another rally on Wall Street in the wake of Biden's election; good news about a possible COVID vaccine (which Trump had nothing to do with!); Trump fires his Defense Secretary; more top Trump Administration officials test positive for the virus; and Biden's reported plans to issue a quick series of Executive Orders after being sworn in on January 20th to reverse some of the most egregious offenses of the Trump Era.

Then, we pick up today, somewhat, where we left off last week, debunking a number of the many absurd, evidence-free allegations of "voter fraud" being propagated by the deniers and conspiracy theorists on the Right --- from "SharpieGate" to false claims of "dead people" voting in Michigan to false claims (debunked by Fox "News"!) that Republicans were prevented from watching ballot tabulation --- as well as a look at one of the few legitimate concerns that have come to light since last Tuesday's Election Night. Namely, a concern about misreported vote tallies in Antrim County, Michigan, a small, heavily GOP-leaning area in the northern part of the state. According to the Democratic Sec. of State, the problem was due to a failure by Republican county officials to install a late update to their Election Management System software which is used to upload county results to the state at the end of the night. The problem resulted in Joe Biden momentarily appearing to have defeated Donald Trump by a landslide in the County. The error was quickly discovered, corrected and the posted results were properly reversed to reflect Trump's victory there.

But the incident (as well as the apparent losses of both MI and Georgia for the Republicans) has helped fuel a push from the Right toward demonizing Canadian-based Dominion Voting System --- the private voting system vendor in Antrim and other MI counties. While the Trumpers are falsely attacking the company as a tool of Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton (even though Republican lobbyists work for the firm which has donated to Republicans), we're happy to join the critique in as much as no private company should have so much control over what are supposed to be our public elections. A call for an independent investigation and a hand-count of the county's paper ballots would be perfectly appropriate there.

Dominion is also the company which runs Georgia's elections, with a new $100+ million contract to supply 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems for in-person voting at the polls across the entire state and scanners for the state's hand-marked paper absentee ballots --- scanners which were found to have skipped counting many votes during the state's June primary.

While Biden appears to have won the state of Georgia by some 12,000 votes as of airtime (and, in Michigan, by about 150,000 votes), I invited Republicans via Twitter over the weekend (in a short threat that has gone mildly viral) to get rid of Dominion's influence over elections all together by joining me in demanding hand-marked paper ballots, publicly hand-counted, for the state's critical upcoming U.S. Senate runoff elections. Those two runoff elections will determine which party controls the upper chamber of Congress for first two years of the Biden presidency.

If the GOPers --- including folks like Eric Trump --- are serious about their concerns that "software from hell!" as Eric called it, made by Dominion somehow stole the election for Biden, they will join those of us in the fight for real Election Integrity in that call. So far, they haven't. But we can still hope.

Finally today, we open the phones for listeners to ring in following this weekend's huge news --- to gloat, to express their joy, their concerns, and much more --- as we begin to see a glimmer of light at the end of our long, if still-ongoing, national nightmare...

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern on Kavanaugh's terrifying, error-riddled opinion in the case that blocks WI from counting thousands of timely cast mail-in ballots; Also: Trump's very VERY bad day...
By Brad Friedman on 10/28/2020 7:16pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was a very very bad day for Donald J. Trump and for his odds of winning re-election. At least on paper. Don't get too excited just yet. (But please do vote, ASAP, if you have not done so already! And if you're voting by mail-in ballot, do not mail it in! Deliver it in person, at this point!) [Audio link to full show is posted beneath summary.]

Among the very bad news for our failed President on Wednesday...

  • 'Anonymous' was revealed to have been the Chief of Staff of his own Dept. of Homeland Security, who has now endorsed Joe Biden;
  • The stock market --- the only thing that Trump has left to crow about --- plummeted on concerns about the startling third-peak surge in the U.S. COVID pandemic, thanks to Trump's bungled response, with the Dow falling more than 950 points;
  • Hackers defaced the Trump Campaign website;
  • The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy released an embarrassing document detailing the Trump Administration's "accomplishments", leading off with "Ending the COVID-19 pandemic"! If you have any doubts about that, they quote noticed science and technologist Ivanka Trump as supporting evidence;
  • 20 former Republican U.S. Attorneys, serving in Presidential administrations from Eisenhower to George W. Bush came out with their "strongest endorsement" for...Joe Biden. (So much for Trump as the self-proclaimed "law and order President");
  • Hundreds of Trump supporters were left stranded by the Trump Campaign in frigid temps on an airstrip in Omaha, Nebraska on Tuesday night, after Trump's latest super-spreader rally. Seven supporters were hospitalized "with a variety of medical conditions" as they waited in the dark until after midnight for buses to arrive to drive them back three miles to their cars;
  • And, all the while, the polling both nationally and in battleground states continues to appear bleak for Trump, including one (frankly, hard-to-believe) new poll from ABC News/Washington Post finding Biden up by 17 points in Wisconsin.

As noted, it was a very bad day for Donald Trump's reelection effort. At least in theory. But he still has a few Trump Cards that he believes --- with good reason --- he may be able to play at his stolen and corrupt U.S. Supreme Court. That effort will involve preventing timely cast ballots from being tabulated at all following Election Day.

If the concurrence filed in a Wisconsin case on Monday night by former GOP operative turned GOP activist Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, however, is any indication of how this scheme will work, you should plan to either laugh or cry yourself to death in the coming days.

We're joined today once again by Slate's brilliant legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN to explain which of those two options is more likely at this point. Or, as he says today, "be the 'Angel of Doom' on your show, here to deliver some bad news from the heavens and generally terrify you about what's coming from our Supreme Court in the coming weeks and months."

On Monday night, the Supremes issued an order that blocked a lower federal court's ruling allowing the counting of mail-in ballots postmarked in the Badger State by Election Day that arrive up to six days after November 3rd. The opinion was a party-line 5 to 3 vote, with Kavanaugh issuing an extraordinary 18-page concurrence [PDF] with his majority vote to nullify potentially hundreds of thousands of legitimate ballots. The concurrence, however, was full of demonstrable, laughable, egregious errors of fact, including the claim that states like to declare winners on Election Night (zero of them actually do, as Stern correctly notes) and that counting ballots after Election Day might "potentially flip the results of an election."

Since elections are never certified by states on Election Night --- only the media declare "winners", in that sense --- official state results cannot be "flipped" with the counting of ballots after Election Day. It takes anywhere from days to weeks to tally ballots and certify winners even when we're not in the middle of an horrific pandemic that has resulted in an all-time record use of vote-by-mail options across the country.

That said, as insane as Kavanaugh's opinion was, both he and Trump's first stolen Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch, offered a "totally deranged attempt", as Stern described it, to hew to a rejected opinion from the Bush v. Gore case in 2000 that handed the Presidency to George W. Bush. Though it came from a minority of Justices at the time --- in an opinion that specifically said it could never be used as a precedent in any other case --- it does now seem to be one of the Trump Cards that could be played to try and steal this year's election.

As Stern explains today, the portion of Bush v. Gore cited by Kavanaugh (inaccurately claiming it was from a unanimous majority opinion when it was neither unanimous nor in the majority!) was so radical at the time that even Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy refused to concur with it. Nonetheless, incredibly enough, there are now three Republican Party attorneys who worked on that Florida case in 2000 on behalf of Bush --- John Roberts, Kavanaugh and now Amy Coney Barrett --- actually sitting on the Court as Justices. That means anything could now happen, depending on how things work out as of next Tuesday night. So buckle up, as Stern details why all of this could come into play week and in the future, "because if this comes down to a few thousand or a few hundred ballots --- hoo boy --- it's going to make Bush v. Gore look like a warmup act for what's coming next."

We also get some reaction from Stern on Biden's recently stated position to call for a bi-partisan panel of Constitutional scholars to make recommendations for Court reform and/or expansion (presuming Biden wins and Dems take back the Senate), and a federal court's rejection this week of the DoJ's absurd attempt to dismiss a defamation lawsuit against Trump, filed in NY state court by columnist E. Jean Carroll who alleges he raped her in the 1990's.

Finally, we use a few minutes to name the "winner" of our recent bumper music trivia "contest" from Monday, when our guest was Ion Sancho (the legendary former Florida election official who oversaw the aborted 2000 "recount") and then, just in case you needed any more inspiration today to help ensure a landslide next week, we close with a parody song performed by Lauren Myers with lyrics written by our friend and regular guest-host Nicole Sandler!

Oh, and P.S., if you want to share that absolutely bone chilling Lincoln Project ad we opened today's show with, it's right here.

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Guest: 28-year former Leon County, FL Supervisor of Elections, Ion Sancho; Also: Coronavirus begins third U.S. peak; Ransomware attack hits GA county's election infrastructure...
By Brad Friedman on 10/26/2020 6:54pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We're now just one week from Election Day. But as today's guest underscores, we may be much farther away from knowing who actually won it, given disturbing vulnerabilities that remain in our nation's voting system, beginning --- if not ending --- in the battleground state of Florida. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But first, the Trump Administration announced over the weekend, via White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, that it is no longer even trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19, with Meadows telling CNN that "we aren't going to control the pandemic." Rather, he said, they'll work on mitigating its effects, eventually, through the development of therapies and vaccines.

That, as the U.S. hit its third peak of infections over the weekend, with new daily records that outpaced those from the June-July peak, which previously outpaced those from the original March-April peak. The pandemic is getting far worse, not better, and it's now being super-spread by the President of the United States himself at maskless rallies around the country. The virus which has now killed almost a quarter of a million Americans in the past six months is also being similarly spread by Vice President Mike Pence at rallies, even after five of his top staffers and advisers, including his Chief of Staff Marc Short, were revealed over the weekend to have tested positive.

On Monday morning, Trump actually tweeted that reporting on COVID numbers should now be outlawed. At the same time, talks on a new emergency relief package for the American people, between the White House and Democrats in the U.S. House, collapsed yet again. And, in response to all of the above, the Dow plummeted 650 points on Monday.

Things are not going well, just one week out from Election Day, even after some 60 million Americans have already cast their vote this year, outpacing all early voting from 2016.

But, if you think Election Day will be the answer to all of our woes --- while I pray you are right --- you may want to hedge that bet. One of my greatest fears about the election, a ransomware attack, appears to already be playing out in one county in the battleground state of Georgia. In Hall County, a ransomware attack has hit the county's elections infrastructure by taking out its voter signature database and a precinct map hosted on its website. If a similar attack were to occur on or before Election Day, in any one of the thousands of counties which now rely on the Internet or networked computers to allow voters to cast a vote at all, we could see absolute chaos. This President, of course, is all to ready to exploit such a case to his advantage with the help of gerrymandered Republican-controlled state legislatures around the country and a compliant (and stolen) U.S. Supreme Court (made even more stolen today by the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett in the U.S. Senate.)

Down in the critical battleground of Florida, as my guest explains today, voters may never even know if the election is stolen from them. That guest today is the legendary, former 28-year Supervisor of Elections in Leon County (Tallahassee), Florida, ION SANCHO, who was so well-respected by his peers on both the right and left he was appointed to oversee the eventually-aborted year 2000 recount between Al Gore and George W. Bush in the Sunshine State.

On Friday, Sancho sent an urgent letter [PDF] to the Supervisors of Elections in 47 of Florida's 67 counties which use wireless cellular modems to transmit precinct election results to county headquarters after the close of polls on Election Night. The letter warns that those modems --- and the Internet connections to them at the counties' central tabulators --- can be easily hacked "from anywhere in the world." If they are, he explains on today's program, it's very likely that such a hack, changing election results, would never be noticed by election officials.

"The issue is that we’re using equipment that is not secure," Sancho tells me. "To quote Sen. Marco Rubio, 'Many Florida election officials are arrogant over their belief that they can’t be touched, that they are secure.' And this is a state that does not compare the numbers that we generate on those electrical optical scanners to the actual, physical votes on the piece of paper. We’re completely dependent upon those electronic totals on Election Night."

Manual examination of hand-marked paper ballots in Florida, to make sure the reported computer tabulation was correct, is prohibited by state law. Sancho details his concerns about those modems --- which are not federally certified for use in elections --- and how the state's election officials can avoid the threat posed by this very serious vulnerability to the state's election infrastructure. Making matters worse, he notes, "We do not audit the paper ballots to confirm that the election totals are correct. And that’s a huge, huge problem – not just in Florida, but everywhere in the country."

"Most of the election officials were not even aware that their systems were connected [to the Internet], because the vendor [in this case, ES&S, the nation's largest] never told them. You’re almost 100% dependent upon the vendor for the information about your system. So our most public process – our elections process, which is public – really are controlled by private entities."

"The worst-case scenario," with the modems now used in the systems in Florida, "is that a man-in-the-middle attack could actually intercept the totals that are being electronically-transmitted over the Internet, and manipulate them --- not only to the central tabulator, but re-routing back into the actual digital voting machine and altering the results in that device," he warns. "You could have a complete disaster here."

Sancho may be familiar to some listeners from his landmark appearance in HBO's Emmy-nominated 2006 documentary Hacking Democracy, in which he allows an experiment by "white hat" Finnish hacker Harri Hursti. In the film's climactic scene, we see an actual hack of one of Leon County's optical scan systems, as carried out by Hursti in a mock election. The hack flips the results of the election in a way that would never be noticed by elections officials, save for a manual examination of the hand-marked paper ballots cast.

Sancho also offers his concerns today about whether the 2020 Presidential election could become a redux of what played out in Florida in 2000, when a weeks-long battle to determine who would be President of the United States was kicked off on Election Night, after an optical-scan tabulator --- for reasons still unknown to this day --- recorded negative 16,022 votes for Al Gore in Volusia County. The election was ultimately decided in favor of Bush by an "official" margin of just 527 votes, thanks to a right-wing U.S. Supreme Court which stopped Sancho's statewide hand recount from ever being completed...

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On safeguarding the 2020 election and worsening economic inequailty...
By Desi Doyen on 7/24/2020 3:33pm PT  

We're off today, but we've got a BradCast 'RECOUNTED' for your listening pleasure, with two excellent recent interviews you may have missed --- or just need to hear again. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

  • Then, Brad's conversation on 6/12/2020 with voting rights journalist and author ARI BERMAN of Mother Jones, on the fight against Republicans' new surge of voter suppression during the coronavirus pandemic and steps we can take to prevent a stolen election this November.

We'll be back soon!

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Also: Trump's top General apologizes; Confederate monuments fall...
By Brad Friedman on 6/11/2020 7:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Sometimes it's good news when bad news arrives. At least when it's a breath of reality in the Trump Era. [Audio link to today''s show is posted below the summary.]

We've been trying on this program to make some sense in recent weeks of Wall Street's alternative reality, as seen over the past 12 weeks or so while millions of Americans have become unemployed as states ordered shutdowns and business closures while the coronavirus wreaked deadly havoc across the country. The economy has, understandably, tanked in the bargain. But the stock market's major indexes have nonetheless surged some 44.5% between late March and this week. American billionaires, as discussed in detail on a recent show, have seen their fortunes rise by some $565 billion between March 18 and the first week of June, even as the economy has largely ground to halt and entered its worst recession since the Great Depression.

The irrational exuberance of Wall Street has continued week after week, for each of the past twelve, while millions of American have newly filed unemployment claims in record numbers that simply blow away any other downturn in our nation's history beyond the Great Depression. Major companies like Hertz and J.C. Penney are declaring bankruptcy, and yet the marketeers in the Wall Street casino continue to bid up the companies share prices. On Wednesday, the NASDAQ hit its all time high. Not its highest level during the pandemic, but its ALL TIME highest trading price.

It's as if the market and the reality of the economy exist on two entirely different planets. But they don't. That was made clear again today as yet another 1.5 million new jobless claims were reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, leaving anywhere from 20 to 40 million Americans out of work and Congress' expansion of unemployment benefits set to expire at the end of next month.

And yet, as Donald Trump becomes increasingly concerned about his reelection chances, he and his supporters are citing the booming stock market as if it's the same thing as the economy. It decidedly isn't. That reality finally appears to have hit home on Thursday --- at least for now --- as the Dow plunged some 1,800 points along with the other major market indexes which plummeted as well. Traders seem to have finally noticed that the coronavirus can't simply be pretended away. It is not only NOT going away anytime soon, but infections and hospitalizations are currently surging to record highs in at least 21 states on the heels of many of those states --- talking to you Arizona and Texas, among others --- dangerously "reopening" far too early.

Some have (wrongly) dismissed the reported increases in the number of confirmed infections as an byproduct of increased testing. That is not true. The increases of note are in both the percentages of positive tests and in hospitalizations in many areas around the U.S. That disturbing surge comes largely before we begin to see whether the past two weeks or nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd substantively adds to the totals, as some fear.

Ultimately, today's market crash can be seen as "good" news, in that perhaps reality is finally catching up with the markets whose inflated value has helped to prevent Donald Trump and his Republican sycophants in Congress from taking the necessary actions needed to prevent both the economy and the health of the American people from becoming decidedly worse. I've got a rant or two about all of this on today's show.

But there was more heavily-qualified "good" news on Thursday as Trump's Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, Army General Mark Milley, made clear in a video-taped statement, that it was a "mistake" for him to have joined Trump for his obnoxious photo-op last week at St. John's Episcopal Church across from the White House after Trump ordered peaceful protesters violently cleared out of Lafayette Square.

And, in further encouraging news, protesters around the country have begun to take matters into their own hands in removing offensive monuments to Confederate traitors who rebelled against the United States and killed hundreds of thousands in the bargain, in hopes of preserving slavery in "the land of the free". On Wednesday, a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Richmond, VA, the former capital of the Confederacy, was pulled down, as other such statues --- many of them erected decades after the Civil War during the Jim Crow era, as segregationist policies further institutionalized white supremacy in the U.S. --- were defaced, decapitated or destroyed as well. Yes, I've got a thought or two on all of that today as well.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, in which major environmental groups are also taking action towards racial justice within their own organizations in the wake of nationwide protests, and as communities of color continue to be disproportionately harmed by pollution, climate change and other environmental issues. She also has a bit of good news regarding a newly coal-free Britain and some less good news on our latest new plague in the U.S. --- or, at least in Florida: giant toxic toads! Buckle up!

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Surprise! The Peach State's new $104 million, unverifiable touchscreen vote system melts down in its first statewide election; Also: IPS' Chuck Collins on inequality and the 'Wall Street casino' coronavirus jackpot...
By Brad Friedman on 6/9/2020 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Who could have predicted it? Another Election Day meltdown in Georgia? Even with the brand new, $104 million, unverifiable, disease-vector touchscreen voting system the state's Republican Secretary of State forced every voter in the state to use at the polls for the first time during Tuesday's twice-postponed Presidential primary in the critical battleground state? Yup. And what has been happening on Wall Street of late underscores how perilous this moment is, and the need to save the voting system in the battleground Peach State before the critical November 3rd elections. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Yes, as we've been warning for years now, the roll out of Secretary Brad Raffensperger's new computerized voting system would be a disaster for Georgia voters --- at least for those in or near Atlanta in some of the most heavily Democratic, heavily minority counties in the state. Voters reported wait times as long as 2, 3 and 4 hours in precinct after precinct, to cast their votes today --- even those who showed up before 6am in hopes of being first in line!

New computerized electronic poll-books failed. New computerized touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) failed. New optical-scan computers used to scan the unverifiable ballots printed out by the $4,000 electronic pens (BMDs) failed. What didn't fail was Raffensperger's propensity to blame county officials and poll workers who risked their lives to help voters vote during a deadly pandemic for his own failures to implement a simple, verifiable and much less expensive hand-marked paper ballot system.

More disturbing, the outrageous (if predictable) catastrophic failures of his new systems --- featuring touchscreens made by Canada's Dominion Voting Systems --- come even after Raffensperger ordered absentee ballot applications sent to each of the state's 6.9 million active registered voters (whatever "active" means in his assessment) to help mitigate the dangers of COVID-19 on state voters. Many of those in the same counties which saw huge lines at a reduced number of polling places on Tuesday reported never receiving their requested absentee ballots in the mail.

Today, we detail just some of the hundreds of reported nightmares voters faced trying to vote on Tuesday in Fulton, Cobb, Gwinnett, Muscogee and other counties in the Peach State, as voting equipment was missing altogether at some polling places when they opened; as hand-marked paper ballots quickly ran out at precincts where electronic voting systems couldn't be booted up or failed to work properly once they were turned on; as County officials called for official investigations; and as Raffensperger tried to blame it all on everyone but himself. Yes, we have spent many months (in fact, years now) detailing the lawsuits filed against him, as voters (and some counties) begged him to to move to a hand-marked paper ballot system instead.

Then: No, you are not crazy. You are not imagining it. Yes, up is down and down is up right now. Coronavirus infection rates are, indeed, spiking in a whole bunch of states that have opened up for business around the U.S., despite many collectively pretending the nightmare is over. It isn't. But much of the nation, encouraged by Donald Trump and his supporters, is now pretending otherwise. Similarly, on Wall Street, investors are pretending that the economy is great and the worst of the coronavirus pandemic's shock to the U.S. financial system is over. Of course, we now know the economy had already gone into recession as of February, even before the worst of the COVID-19 shutdowns had begun, ending an 11-year economic expansion that started during Barack Obama's administration and ended under Trump's.

But Wall Street is decidedly not the economy, where, back here in the real world, tens of millions of Americans are newly jobless amid the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Nonetheless, on Wall Street, the Nasdaq closed at a record high on Tuesday and both the Dow and S&P 500 indexes have rallied back in recent days to near the record highs they were at before the economy crashed. Billionaires on Wall Street are so drunk with irrational exuberance and flush with decades of sweet sweet tax cut cash that they are even beginning to buy up shares in companies that have filed for bankruptcy amid the crash.

According to the Institute of Policy Study's updated "Billionaire Bonanza 2020" report, between March 18 (roughly the start of the pandemic shutdown), through the fist week of June, "U.S. billionaire's total wealth surged by over $565 billion," even as 42.6 million U.S. workers filed for unemployment. What explains the obscene inequality between the billionaire oligarch class and all of the rest of us?

We're joined today by CHUCK COLLINS, co-author of the IPS study as Director of their Program on Inequality and the Common Good, where he co-edits Inequality.org, to explain what happened and how we can --- and must --- begin to correct the absurd, decades-long and still-growing imbalances in our economy.

"Only 14% of Americans have direct investments in stock," Collins explains. "So this tells us the story of how the top ten percent --- and in this case, how the billionaires --- are seeing their wealth surge during an unfortunate time for everyone else."

"We're now at the culmination of four decades of growing income and wealth inequality. As we went into the pandemic, we were at maybe our greatest unequal level since the Gilded Age. And the reality is, since 2009, only about 20 percent of households have recovered where they were in terms of savings and net worth prior to the Great Recession of 2008. So, think about that --- 80 percent of households went into the pandemic with an economic hangover, still not really fully back on their feet in the last eleven years. This recession and pandemic are going to supercharge the existing income and wealth inequalities that we are already living through."

Collins charges that "we're just absorbing now the pre-existing condition of extreme inequality in America," while reminding us that America did manage to "reverse the first Gilded Age" about 100 years ago. But, he cautions, "It required the fight of our lives. And that's what we're heading into."

As you might suspect, the solutions begin (though do not end) at the ballot box. But, he says, as he details a number of programs that could reverse our current Gilded Age, "the pressure is building" and "people understand the rich have been gaming the system." But, the reversal will not come easily, as "we're living in an oligarchy where the rich use their wealth and power to get more wealth and power."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as the 2020 hurricane season is already breaking records; as the Trump Administration is using coronavirus Shock Doctrine politics to roll back tons of public health and endangered species protections while few are noticing; and as record warmth in May has resulted in a catastrophic oil spill on the melting permafrost in Siberia...

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