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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, February 2, 2023
'Green News Report' 2/2/23
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GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
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Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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But the accountability is only just beginning...
By Brad Friedman on 12/6/2022 6:04pm PT  

Let's enjoy the good news on today's BradCast --- and we've got quite a bit of it --- because things may or may not be as bright tomorrow, as returns come in from the U.S. Senate runoff in Georgia and the corrupt rightwing U.S. Supreme Court hears a case they may use to undermine American democracy as we have known it for more than 200 years. [Audio link to full show follow this summary.]

But, for tonight, at least, there is a whole bunch of good news regarding a whole bunch of bad news for our disgraced former President...which is great news for everyone else...

  • A New York jury in Manhattan took little more than one day to find the Trump Organization guilty of all criminal state tax fraud charges brought against it --- 17 counts in all. That follows its longtime Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg's guilty plea on 15 counts of fraud. He's set to receive about five months in prison after his plea and agreement to testify against the company. A company, however, can't be sentenced to prison, so a fine will be levied instead. But the Manhattan D.A.'s office may have other plans for criminal charges against Donald Trump, which we discuss as well today.
  • Meanwhile, Trump is now claiming that he didn't say what everybody saw him say, when he called for the "termination" of the U.S. Constitution over the weekend. It was, of course, part of his continuing effort to pretend the 2020 Presidential election that he lost was actually stolen from him. More disturbing, however, is the lack of elected Republican officials who, while pretending to be "Constitutional conservatives", are unable to say whether Trump's comments disqualify him from becoming President again.
  • But, back to brighter news as we continue to try and keep track of accountability for at least 56 known criminal violations of law by the former President since he first ran for office. (That doesn't include all of the civil violations, such as the $250 million lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James against him, his company and his three oldest children on state tax fraud violations.) The Manhattan D.A.'s office of Alvin Bragg, which successfully prosecuted the criminal tax fraud cases against the Trump Organization, has made a new hire that suggests the office may be eyeing new criminal charges against Trump himself this time. We 'splain.
  • Also on Tuesday, the Chair of the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection and Trump's many failed attempts to steal the 2020 election, said that the panel will be making criminal referrals to the U.S. Dept. of Justice before year's end. That may or may not be bad news for Trump himself and many others in the MAGA Cinematic Universe. But it almost certainly ain't good news for any of them.
  • Also also on Tuesday, it is being reported that Jack Smith --- newly tapped by Attorney General Merrick Garland as Special Counsel overseeing the DoJ's federal criminal probes into January 6, the documents stolen by Trump from the White House, and any other matters related to either of those cases --- has issued his first subpoenas since taking his new position. Officials in Wisconsin, Michigan and Arizona according to Washington Post, as well as in Pennsylvania, as confirmed by AP, have all recently received demands from Smith for "any and all communications with Trump, his campaign, and a long list of aides and allies."

It's going to be a very long rest-of-his-life for Donald Trump --- unless he pulls a Ken Lay first. Of course, we wish him nothing but the best.

  • And, finally, we finish up today with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, including news on the electric grid attack in North Carolina; Russia targeting energy infrastructure in Ukraine (a war crime); and EV sales now surging in U.S. and across the globe...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Progressive journalist, author, John Nichols of 'The Nation'...
By Brad Friedman on 11/15/2022 5:30pm PT  

"Election Day" coverage continues today into its second week on BradCast, as more of the closest races are being called and as a clearer picture emerges as to what actually happened and why. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Shortly after airtime on Monday night, media outlets finally called the very close Arizona Governor's race for Democratic Sec. of State Katie Hobbs over former TV news anchor and failed Trump-wannabe Kari Lake. As we detail, Lake's apparent narrow loss was likely particularly satisfying for outgoing GOP Rep. Liz Cheney.

Hobbs' lead over Lake, with almost all votes tallied, is 0.7% as we go to air. That is above the 0.5% or less required for an automatic recount in AZ, where state law (shamefully) does not allow for candidates to request and pay for a recount on their own. That, of course, will allow Lake to continue to present evidence-free claims of "fraud" in her election, particularly given unexplained Election Day failures of some optical scanner at some polling places in Maricopa County. That shouldn't have prevented anybody from voting --- thankfully, Arizona votes on hand-marked paper ballots --- but it did mean that some ballots cast at the polls on Election Day had to be tabulated back at County headquarters later.

Presuming Hobbs' victory is certified as expected, that means the AZ's Governor's office turns from "red" to "blue" for the first time in 13 years. (It'll be the third state where that happened this year.) Add to that the state's two Democratic U.S. Senators and Democrat Adrian Fontes' victory over Trump-backed election liar Mark Finchem for Sec. of State, and Democrat Kris Mayes currently leading Republican Abe Hamadeh (if barely --- and easily within recount territory for now) in the race to replace the state's outgoing Republican Attorney General. All of that looks a lot like a new "blue" state, with every major statewide seat in AZ perhaps soon to be occupied by a Democrat in advance of 2024.

Yes, it was a stunning midterm election across the nation, as that "red wave" that Republicans and corporate media imagined and promised, never arrived.

"This is the best midterm election result for a newly-elected Democratic President in their first term since Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1934," notes our guest today, progressive journalist and author JOHN NICHOLS of The Nation, describing the results as "remarkable" and "against all sorts of historical patterns," while observing that this is the "third election cycle in a row where Donald Trump has been the dominant figure in the Republican Party and the Republican Party has lost. It's kind of a pattern."

So why did the results defy history? "I think the answer is that our politics have changed. We're not in the same world that we were in before," explains Nichols, who we have turned to many times over the years following Election Days to try and make sense of them. "Local media doesn't exist the way it used to, so elections are nationalized. We have seen the two parties go more to their corners --- the Democrats at least somewhat to the left, Republicans way to the right --- so we have to adjust our filter. And if we do, we understand that this election actually tells us a lot about where potential Democratic majorities and coalitions are in the future."

We dig deep into the remarkable results and how they may have been even better for the Democrats had the party not been so taken by their own fears that the media might have been right about the "red wave" which never came. Those poor predictions (which often contradicted the media's own available evidence to the contrary) also resulted in an overconfident GOP which, like the Democrats, ended up spending money in many of the wrong races. Nichols explains how Dem victories might have been even broader had they fought more aggressively and less defensively by funding, for example, more rural races where Democrats could have also won with more support from the Party.

He breaks down the likely reasons that the excellent Democratic candidate Mandela Barnes, in Nichols home state of Wisconsin, ended up losing to the insufferable Republican insurrection enthusiast Sen. Ron Johnson, and why other excellent candidates, if arguably less progressive ones, like Tim Ryan in Ohio and Cheri Beasley in North Carolina, ended up falling short.

In addition we also dig into how critical young voters --- lots of them! --- were to what ultimately happened this year. "Young people ought to be where you're putting a lot of your resources. As a party, Democrats need to be talking to young voters, bringing young people into leadership positions in the party. If you do, the rewards are immense," he avers. "Under 30 and especially under 25, the bias is 28% in favor of the Democrats. At the very end of the 2022 cycle, in states across the country, you had a lot of young voters lining up and casting votes. They don't turn out at the same percentage, at the same level, as older voters do. But if they turn out strong, it has a huge impact."

We also discuss how an institutionalist like Joe Biden has been clever enough as President to shift his policies toward the progressive left, in tune with those voters and the American electorate overall.

"Let's be very clear," Nichols argues today, "despite what games pundits try to play, Americans had a very clear choice. In 2022, they had a choice between an extreme rightwing Republican Party straying toward authoritarianism on many issues and a Democratic Party that was edging toward progressivism, and was attacked for that. And what did the American people decide to do? In a surprise to everyone, to the politicians and the pundits, they decided to go for the party that is edging towards progressivism."

Finally today, we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, as Biden pledges leadership and funding at the U.N. climate conference in Egypt, and restarts climate negotiations with China...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Tom Bonier of TargetSmart; Also: Fox 'News' 'red wave' buffoonery; Latest results on Sen, Guv, SoS and A.G. races from AZ, NV...
By Brad Friedman on 11/11/2022 6:28pm PT  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Redistricting expert, author David Daley; Also: How Fox 'News' dupes followers via smartphone; Latest key Senate, House, Guv results...
By Brad Friedman on 11/10/2022 6:25pm PT  

On today's BradCast: If the Republican Party wins a narrow majority in the U.S. House following this week's nowhere-near-a-red-wave midterm elections, will it have been because of gerrymandering? Our guest today explains why the answer to that question is unequivocal. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, however, a few observations on how Fox "News" uses its smartphone app to insidiously further brain-poison followers with rightwing propaganda and disinformation. Today's example: How very encouraging news from the federal government on the economy, with signs that inflation may be easing, sent the stock market soaring. But for duped users of the Fox "News" app, it became just more terrible news about the economy injected straight into their brains.

Next, we get caught up on the latest reported results from the ongoing tabulation of very tight Senate (and Gubernatorial) races in Arizona and Nevada, which, along with the critical December 6th U.S. Senate runoff election in Georgia will determine control of the upper chamber of Congress for the next two years.

Also, an update on the vote counting in Colorado's 3rd Congressional District where far-right Rep. Lauren Boebert --- listed in the New York Times' "Republicans expected to win easily" column this year --- has regained a razor-thin 0.38% lead over Democratic challenger Adam Frisch. That, after she was losing by just 64 votes overnight out of more than 300,000 counted.

In all of those states --- Arizona, Nevada and Colorado --- Democratic advocates are suggesting confidence that remaining untallied votes will secure victories for their candidates in most of those races, including those in which tallies show them trailing at the moment or just barely ahead. I'm dubious about some of those claims, but we'll see if they're right and which of the races end up in recounts as the grueling battles for narrow control of both chambers of Congress continues.

When it comes to the House, however, given the limp performance by Republicans on Tuesday, it's become clear that if they regain a majority there, it will only be due to gaming the electorate through both extreme partisan and racial gerrymandering...with the help of corrupt courts at both the state and federal level.

We're joined once again today by redistricting expert and author DAVID DALEY, a Senior Fellow at FairVote. In an article on this today at The Nation he describes how aggressive --- and frequently unlawful and unconstitutional --- gerrymandering by GOP legislatures in several "red" states following the 2020 Census, in concert with corrupt rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court and several state high courts, is to be credited for what most currently see as a likely, if very narrow, GOP takeover of the U.S. House. He calls it a "rigged House majority.'

"Republicans really won the redistricting wars," Daley tells me today. "Their partisan and racial gerrymanders won them more than enough seats to make up the difference between the two parties in what was essentially a jump ball election. By having gerrymandered maps in Florida, Ohio, Texas, Georgia; by having courts put a thumb on the scales for them in Alabama, Wisconsin, Louisiana and elsewhere; and by having blue state courts not allow Democrats to engage in the same kind of anti-democratic behavior, Republicans were able to take enough seats to take the House."

He explains: "Once you start adding up all of the states that Republicans claimed either through extreme partisan gerrymandering, and what the federal courts and the state courts gifted them; when you take the four seats in Florida, a couple seats in Ohio, a couple in Texas, in Tennessee, and Wisconsin; when you take the seats that Republicans bulldozed or hijacked from independent commissions in Arizona and Iowa, you're looking at somewhere between 12 and 14 seats --- which, I think, will probably end up being something close to twice what the ultimate majority in the House ends up being."

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with news on the rare, late-season Hurricane Nicole, which slammed into Florida's eastern seaboard overnight and a round-up of climate related victories and losses in Tuesday's midterm elections...

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Conventional wisdom and corporate media proven wrong. Again.; Also: Big midterm wins, losses, surprises as voters hold the line for democracy, Congressional majorities remain up in the air...
By Brad Friedman on 11/9/2022 6:17pm PT  

Republicans and corporate media appeared to be shocked on Tuesday night. But it looks like we had it right all along on BradCast regarding this year's midterm elections. And, once again, the corporate media didn't. But, good news for them! As usual, they'll pay no price for being wrong, no matter how many times they ill-serve the nation with their failures. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

There was no "red" wave. Conventional wisdom, as we've been advising since early Spring, was to be ignored before this year's midterms in these decidedly UNconventional times. If we could see that data --- sometimes via polling from some of the very same media outlets --- why couldn't the corporate media? Maybe its group think. Maybe its because whatever Republicans tell them they believe to be the truth, or simply report it as such.

In any event, while there was no "red" wave, it is still quite possible that Republicans win majorities in both the U.S. House and the Senate --- if just barely in each case. And while Dems, as we go to air today, have an apparent edge to hold on to their Senate majority, it'll almost certainly require another win in another U.S. Senate runoff in Georgia next month to nail it down. There even remains a long-shot chance that Dems can keep a majority in the House as well, and that, as we explained yesterday, it all may come down to the effect of unusually large downpours on Tuesday's Election Day in both Northern and Southern California.

Either way, for the moment, American democracy, while still on life support, has lived to see another day. For now. In similarly encouraging news, our previous President may even finally face some accountability from his own infuriated party. They were deprived of what should have been a huge and easy win on Tuesday, but for the rightwing loons that Donald Trump helped push into the Party and onto ballots across the nation. Many of them, if not all, lost bigly.

On today's program, we discuss all of the above and, based on what we know as of airtime, run through a ton of critical victories and losses --- including both inspiring surprise wins and several disappointments --- in dozens of states, at both the state and federal level.

As of yesterday's election, anyway, American voters (including many young ones, thankfully!) appear to have held the line for democracy. It is not dead yet. For that, I hope you'll take a minute or two to breathe a small sigh of relief. But not too many minutes. The good fight ain't over yet. Not by a long shot...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Among our many stories covered today...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First, track conditions...

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

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

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

Next, horse races...

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

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

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

Finally...

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

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Also: Beer shortage?!; More on DeSantis' migrant scam; Electoral Count Act reform news; Good (and bad) news for disabled voters...
By Brad Friedman on 9/20/2022 6:38pm PT  

Today's BradCast starts off with a show-stopper! Everything else thereafter, well, you'll decide for yourself. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

On today's program...

  • Since it's, apparently, National Voter Registration Day today (yes, that's a thing), we thought we'd celebrate by starting off with a fantastic new lyric rewrite video from the cast of Broadway's Hamilton. They've updated a song from the show called "The Election of 1800" to a new version called "The Election of 2022" to raise awareness of the importance of voting this year. Their effort is in partnership with Michelle Obama's When We All Vote and Vote Riders. But for help in registering to vote, checking to make sure your registration still exists (and is at the address where you actually live), and for information on the type of ID required to vote where you live, I recommend either the DNC's IWillVote.com app or the federal government's Vote.gov. Both sites allow you to check your registration or register to vote without having to give information to a third party. And, since merely voting is no longer enough, we are officially enlisting you to spread the word to others on all of this! Ask your friends, co-workers, neighbors etc., if they are registered to vote; help them do so, if not; make sure they get to the polls to vote by November 8 this year, etc. etc. Yes, it's that important this year!
  • There is a weird beer shortage looming! Why? Lack of carbon dioxide due to contamination at an extinct volcano in Mississippi. Yes, I realize that sounds bizarre --- especially given the deadly over-abundance of CO2 in our atmosphere, causing our deadly climate crisis --- but, well...tune in for the full bizarre explanation.
  • On yesterday's program, we detailed some of the apparent federal criminal statutes, such as kidnapping, that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis seems to have violated when he shipped 48 Venezuelan migrants from San Antonio, Texas to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts on behalf of the state of Florida. We noted that requests had been made to the MA Attorney General U.S. Attorney's office in the state to investigate whether laws were violated. But shortly after airtime yesterday, news broke that Bexar County (San Antonio), Texas Sheriff's office has opened a criminal investigation into the matter. Good news!
  • As to what actually happened --- versus what DeSantis is claiming --- TPM's Josh Marshall has been trying to do some digging, after first noting that the initial story "Doesn't Add Up". Why did DeSantis hunt down migrants in Texas seeking asylum to entice (with false promises) to go to Massachusetts? Are there no migrants in Florida that could have been similarly abused, since the Florida state legislature has set allocated some $12 million to use to transport migrants out of the state (as opposed to out of the state of Texas)?! Who is this mysterious "Perla" character who has been identified as having recruited the migrants and organized luxury corporate jets to fly theme to MA? And, though the Florida Governor and Presidential hopeful is refusing to offer specifics, what clues can be gleaned about all of this from some of the statements that he has made, referencing a "contractor" or "vendor" who seems to have been hired for all of this, rather than government workers. In other words, what the hell is really going on here?
  • Then, in some election law related news today, the House January 6 Select Committee Vice-Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) and committee member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) detailed proposed reforms to the Electoral Count Act, over the weekend. The Committee, they explain, hopes to make it more difficult in the future to steal elections via the Electoral College, as Donald Trump attempted to do on January 6, 2021. The new measure, officially introduced by the Committee in the House on Monday, is called the Presidential Election Reform Act. It would clarify the role of the Vice President on January 6 as purely ministerial; increase the number of Representative and Senators required to challenge any state's Electoral College votes; offer legal options to Presidential candidates in the event that a state fails to certify its Electoral Votes (as a number of GOP candidates for Governor and Sec. of State this year have said they would have done in 2020, had they been in office at the time); and prevents state legislatures from changing the rules for determining election results after the election has already started. The House measure is similar to one recently introduced by a bipartisan group in the Senate, and would need to be reconciled with that version if both versions are successfully brought to a vote in each chamber.
  • Some good news --- and some troubling news --- for disabled voters. New voting restrictions adopted by Republicans in several different states have made it literally impossible for some disabled voters to vote at all without breaking the law. For example, a Wisconsin law had mandated that nobody other than the voter him or herself could place an absentee ballot in a mailbox. That means that those without use of their arms --- such as voters suffering from advanced multiple sclerosis or who may have been injured --- might not be able to vote absentee at all. A recent federal court victory in WI will at least allow disabled voters in that state to receive assistance when casting their ballot. But several other states, such as Kansas, Iowa, Kentucky and Missouri, still have measures in place that could make it impossible --- and/or illegal --- for some disabled voters to vote at all in 2022 and beyond.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as three major storms made simultaneous, catastrophic landfall in Puerto Rico, Alaska and Japan over the weekend; a new report finds climate change made Pakistan's recent catastrophic flooding much much worse; better news in Australia where the nation, until recently controlled by climate change deniers, is finally moving to reduce carbon emissions; and, in Louisiana, a court has blocked the construction of a massive, toxic plastics plant in area of the state known as "Cancer Alley"...

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Guest: Former Asst. U.S. Attorney, Randall D. Eliason; Also: Inflation slowing?; Noteworthy primary results from CT, MN, VT, WI (and WA)...
By Brad Friedman on 8/10/2022 5:57pm PT  

Remember during the 2016 Presidential election when Donald Trump repeated over and over how only mobsters plead the Fifth Amendment? Yeah, so does he, as discussed on today's BradCast . And yet, he repeatedly took the Fifth for some four hours in a row during his deposition in New York today. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

Before we get to those details and the related story of the FBI search at Trump's home in Florida on Monday...Good news for Americans is, of course, bad news for Republicans. According to new numbers released by the Department of Labor on Wednesday, inflation may now be slowing, along with gas prices which fell in July by roughly 20%. Obviously, that is completely thanks to the brilliant policies of President Joe Biden. (It's not, but since the GOP blamed him for inflation and the rise in prices at the pump, it seems only fair to give him all the credit when the numbers go the other way.)

Next, our highly selective and curated coverage of noteworthy results from Tuesday's primary elections in four states --- Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont and Wisconsin. (And one last noteworthy race called from last week's primary in the state of Washington.) Here too, good news for far-right MAGA Republican voters may turn out to be very bad news for them in November. If not, it's likely to be very bad news for American democracy in advance of the 2024 elections. Many of Trump's endorsed candidates, all of whom are 2020 election deniers, are winning GOP nominations for offices likely to be critical during the 2024 Presidential election, if those candidates are successful in the 2022 election. We cover a bunch of them today, with appropriate warnings, along with a number of the encouraging Democratic victories on Tuesday.

Then, Trump's horrible, no good, very VERY bad week continues to get worse. Of course, that is good news for the bulk of Americans who actually do believe in law and order and accountability and stuff. On Wednesday, Trump finally sat down for the under oath deposition he has fought so hard against in New York Attorney General Letitia James' civil probe into his and the Trump Organization's years of apparent bank, tax and insurance fraud. For four hours, he repeatedly exercised his Constitutional Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself, despite claiming for years --- or, at least while he was running for President in 2016 --- that doing so is "horrible, horrible, horrible" and "disgraceful" because "if you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?"

(As it turns out, Trump invoked the Fifth nearly 100 times during his 1990 divorce deposition as well. His own kid, Eric, one of the titular heads of the Trump Organization while Trump was in office, invoked the privilege more than 500 times when he was deposed in the James' probe back in 2020. And, over the past several days, two of his other kids, Don Jr. and Ivanka, were also reportedly deposed. Any guess what they might have done?)

All of this, of course, comes on the heels of the FBI executing a search warrant at Trump's Mar-a-Lago home on Monday, though we still don't actually know what they were looking for nor which of the several federal criminal investigations Trump is the focus of it pertained to. Trump does. It says as much on the warrant he has in his possession. He's just not telling anyone, while describing the matter (as usual) as a "political witch hunt" and declaring that it means the U.S. is now a "broken, Third-World Country."

We're joined today for some really helpful insight into both of these ongoing cases by former Asst. U.S. Attorney in D.C. and chief of the DoJ Public Corruption/Government Fraud section, RANDALL D. ELIASON.

As usual, Eliason, who now teaches law with a focus on white collar crime at George Washington University Law School, is able to offer clear, straight-forward facts on what much of cable news has been speculating about over the past 72 hours or so.

For example, what's the difference between a "raid", as Trump and many on the Right are describing what happened in South Florida on Monday, and the lawful exercise of a search warrant, approved by a federal judge? "I'm not sure if there is a universally agreed-upon definition of a raid," he explains, "but I think the most likely definition is it's a raid if it happens to you."

In response to the reports of Trump pleading the Fifth in his NY fraud case, Eliason doesn't think it's "terribly surprising, given what we know" about both the case and the former President, but he goes on to lay out both the difference between a civil case (such as the James') and a criminal probe, and how the Fifth Amendment can be used against Trump in the former, but not the latter, even if it may help criminal prosecutors, like the Manhattan District Attorney, identify where the disgraced former President himself believes he has potentially committed a crime.

Eliason explains what material would be revealed by the portion of the FBI search warrant from Mar-a-Lago that is now in Trump's possession, even as he is refusing to disclose it. "It has to cite the statutes that the investigators believe might have been violated," he says, while noting that there is nothing that legally prevents Trump from releasing it tothe public. Also, he asserts, Trump would, by now, "have an inventory of what was seized" by the FBI, even if he has also failed to release that information as well, despite his many claims of innocence and being a victim.

We also discuss the hurdles that would have to have been cleared by Trump-appointed FBI Director Christopher Wray, Biden-appointed U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, as well as the federal magistrate judge who finally approved the Mar-a-Lago search warrant. (Eliason also breaks down the difference between a federal judge and a federal magistrate judge, who Florida's Republican Sen. Marco Rubio suggested on Fox "News" last night, isn't actually a real judge.)

"Given the outcry that you know was going to result from this, and that we've actually seen, you'd want something far beyond just 'probable cause'," argues Eliason, a contributing columnist at the Washington Post and at his own Sidebars Blog. "The DoJ is not going to do this in a marginal case. Before taking this kind of extraordinary, unprecedented step, they're going to really be sure they've got substantial proof, and that it's something really important that they're going after."

As far as what they're "going after"? Well, nobody --- other than Trump, his attorneys and the FBI, DoJ and a federal judge --- actually knows at this point. There has been much TrumpWorld-sourced reportage that this all has something to do with the more than 15 boxes of Presidential Records, many of them highly classified, according to the National Archives, that Trump absconded with to Florida after leaving the White House. But none of that is actually confirmed.

I convince the usually quite careful Eliason to offer his own speculation about what the FBI could be looking for that would involve such a monumental and politically fraught step as obtaining a search warrant for the home of a former President. "Most people are speculating about these crimes that involve Presidential Records," he says. "If that's all it was, and it was relatively routine stuff, I would be surprised that they'd take this kind of step. That makes me think either the documents themselves are something extraordinarily sensitive, and potentially dangerous to national security, or that there's something else going on."

What might that "something else" be, according to Eliason? For that, you'll need to tune in...

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GOP TX Reps threaten law firm for out-of-state abortions; Facing contempt trial, leaked Bannon audio reveals Trump scheme to steal 2020; DoJ sues AZ for vote suppression; WI's GOP Supremes ban drop-box voting; GA GOP Senate nom's sad climate change remarks...
By Brad Friedman on 7/13/2022 6:24pm PT  

We've got a grab bag of news items on today's BradCast, though almost all of it ends up making the same case: 'Both sides' are decidedly not the same. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

We kick off with some listener mail, critical of our recent show discussing why it's so deadly important to elect Democrats in 2022 in order to have any chance of saving American democracy itself --- and much more along with it --- before 2024. The listener argues that, in fact, democracy no longer exists in the U.S. following 2010's Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court. He argues that "both of the two major parties" are now so corrupted that "the chances of non-corporate funded candidates" being elected to national office are now "equivalent to nil". While that may come as a surprise to folks like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders, just to name a couple, there are many other reasons our correspondent couldn't be more wrong. We explain why.

The bulk of the news items in the rest of today's program underscore why that lazy "both sides are the same" notion (while founded in fragments of cynically misreported truths) is dangerously wrong. They also underscore how those on the Left who buy into that self-defeating nonsense are being played as assuredly as Donald Trump and his MAGA buddies have played their own gullible supporters.

Among those news stories covered today...

  • Elected Republicans members of the Texas state House, ironically calling themselves the "Texas Freedom Caucus," have sent a letter to a Dallas law firm threatening them with legal "consequences" including "felony criminal prosecution and disbarment" for reimbursing their own employees for out-of-state travel as needed to obtain an abortion, now that Texas Republicans have ended such rights and personal freedoms for residents of the Lone Star State.
  • A Donald Trump-appointed federal judge has laughed Steve Bannon's attempt to delay his pending federal trial out of the courtroom. The trial, on two counts of Contempt of Congress in response to the former Trump aide's unlawful refusal to respond to subpoenas from the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection and Trump's many failed attempts to steal the 2020 election, is scheduled to begin next week and could result in up to two years in prison for Bannon.
  • At the same time, Mother Jones has obtained leaked audio of Bannon speaking to supporters of his Chinese billionaire pal/funder three days before the 2020 election, explaining that Trump planned to declare victory, whether he won the election or not, and pretend to be the victim of fraud. "He's gonna say they stole it...he's not going out easy...Trump is gonna do some crazy shit," Bannon promised (sound familiar?), as they all laughed about what would become the most dangerous assault on American democracy in our history.
  • DoJ has sued Arizona for violations of the National Voter Registration Act and Civil Rights Act, following the signing of a new voter suppression law earlier this year. Adopted by the state's GOP-dominated state legislature and signed by its Republican Governor, the new measure would block voters from voting in the 2024 election without first presenting documents proving their citizenship.
  • Wisconsin's GOP-dominated state Supreme Court finds absentee ballot drop-boxes are now illegal in the Badger State. Donald Trump declares the ruling to be proof that he actually won Wisconsin in 2020! (He didn't.) And a Republican state lawmaker running for Governor vows to reverse the state's election results in response.
  • In Georgia, a pathetic audio clip from the Republican Party's U.S. Senate nominee, Hershel Walker, discussing climate change --- ("Since we don't control the air, our good air decided to float over to China's bad air. So when China gets our good air, their bad air got to move. So it moves over to our good air space. Then...now we got we to clean that back up.") --- underscores, once again, the sad, cynical (and ill-considered) scheme by GOPers to push this seemingly mentally ill former football star as their candidate to run against Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock this fall.
  • And finally, Desi Doyen has our latest Green News Report, as wildfires once again threaten California's iconic Giant Sequoias; Utah's Great Salt Lake is drying up; and offshore wind power is booming...in China...

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Guest: Redistricting expert, author David Daley; Also: Did you hear Republicans tried to 'unwind' the 2020 Presidential election?...
By Brad Friedman on 4/27/2022 6:43pm PT  

As midterm primary elections begin in earnest next month, today on The BradCast, we catch up with the latest successful attempts by GOP states to undermine their constituents' wishes through new, partisan gerrymanders following the 2020 Census and the Courts which are helping them do so. In the meantime, a Democratic-leaning court in New York today did the opposite, blocking a Dems from gerrymandering in the Empire State. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Before we're joined by our guest to discuss all of that and more today, just a quick kudos to Rebecca Beitsch at The Hill for coming up with a new euphemism --- or, at least, one we haven't seen used yet by the rest of the corporate media --- to report on new evidence documenting the failed Trump/GOP attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election. It's getting more difficult by the day to do so without using the correct word, "steal", when doing so. Sure, anyone can describe the GOP's attempt to "undermine" or "overturn" or "question the results". But that gets stale after a while. So, congrats to Beitsch for reporting on their attempt to "UNWIND the 2020 election", just to freshen things up! <insert eyeroll emoji here>

Then, we're joined today by redistricting expert and author DAVID DALEY, Senior Fellow at FairVote, to get caught up on a whole bunch of recent court rulings (and outrages) from over the past week or three when it comes to the last minute efforts --- largely by Republican-controlled states --- to game the 2022 midterms (and elections for the next ten years), with outrageously partisan gerrymandering of U.S. House maps.

Daley walks us through a number of such cases, including in several states where, over the past decade, large majorities of voters have adopted ballot initiatives to prevent the very gerrymandering that Republicans appear to be getting away with, nonetheless, in their newly redistricted maps.

In Ohio, the GOP-majority Redistricting Commission has had its new maps rejected four different times in recent weeks by the state's Supreme Court, with the help of its Republican Chief Justice. Despite being ordered by the court to follow the state's Constitution --- which now requires districts that generally reflect the partisan balance of the closely divided, if GOP-leaning state --- Republican Commissioners (which include state Gov. Mike DeWine, whose son sits on the state Supreme Court but refuses to recuse) aren't even trying anymore. With primaries scheduled for next month in the Buckeye State, the Commission is "just not meeting" anymore at all, says Daley. "They're trying to run out the clock so the federal court imposes one of the unconstitutional maps that has already been rejected by Ohio's state Supreme Court."

The state's previous gerrymandered map gave the GOP a 12 to 4 advantage in U.S. House districts. The new ones, repeatedly rejected by the state court, would give them a 13 to 2 advantage, despite the roughly 53-45% partisan split in the 2020 Presidential election and a 2015 mandate from more than 70% of voters rewriting the state Constitution to ensure new maps reflect the statewide partisan makeup.

In Florida, where voters also voted for redistricting reform, things are even more obnoxious and anti-democratic. The GOP-controlled legislature produced a map giving Republicans a 16 to 12 advantage, but it was rejected by Governor and Presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis for his own hand-drawn map that is likely to result in 20 Republican House seats and just 8 Democratic ones. State Republicans "already produced a pretty good Republican gerrymander," Daley explains, "and DeSantis said, 'Wait a second, I can do even better than that.'" With the state's high court packed with his own appointees, Daley warns, "that is not a Supreme Court that we should look to for any sort of help when it comes to fair maps."

Back in 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that federal courts may play no role in preventing partisan redistricting, leaving the matter the chaos of each individual state court to decide. But on the matter of racial gerrymandering, SCOTUS is still happy to tell states what they can and can't do, even when the High Court's own rulings disagree with each other.

Daley explains how SCOTUS jumped in, back in February, months before the primaries, to block a new black-majority district ordered in Alabama by a lower federal court under the Voting Rights Act because. The Supremes, on the stolen and packed Court, determined it was just too soon before the primary election to draw up a new map. But late last month, after the Wisconsin Supreme Court approved a new state legislative map drawn by the state's Democratic Governor, SCOTUS ordered the state to rewrite the map, just weeks before the primaries, to remove a new black legislative district created in Milwaukee.

"The US Supreme Court has been eager this cycle to help Republicans and to put their foot on the scale against Democrats," Daley charges, describing their rulings as "Heads I win, tails you lose. They're not even pretending anymore."

And then we get to New York, where it was Democrats' turn to face the music for gerrymandering the state's U.S. House map to add three new likely Democratic U.S. House seats. Today, mid-show, NY's high court blocked the map (appropriately, as Daley sees it), ordering a court-appointed Special Master to draw up new maps in time for this year's primary (which the court also postponed until August to allow time to create the new maps.)

Last week, Daley, a longtime proponent of fair maps in all fifty states, wrote at CNN about what he saw as the "indefensible" map drawn up by NY Dems, describing it as "among the most obscene partisan gerrymanders nationwide." NY courts clearly agreed, but even Daley's own opinion article seemed to make the case for what Democrats tried --- but failed --- to do.

"If blue state courts roll back Democratic gerrymanders, but red state judges rule as partisan ideologues, a pro-GOP bias will be baked into the national map for another decade," he wrote. "A maximally gerrymandered national congressional map is...bad in nearly every way except, perhaps, compared with the previous decade's map, rigged so Republicans held control in 2012 even when they won 1.4 million fewer votes."

As regular listeners and readers know, over the past year I've (regrettably) changed my position on partisan gerrymandering, given the gaming of the system by Republicans which has succeeded in endangering America's small-'d' democratic project entirely. Short of federal legislation to ban partisan redistricting everywhere (an effort by Dems that was blocked by all Senate Republicans last year), I've been calling on states controlled by Democrats to gerrymander wherever possible. I hate that position. It's bad for many voters in the states but, ultimately, important for something resembling democracy on the national level at a time when democracy is facing a serious challenge from the forces of authoritarianism.

But Daley disagrees with. At least in as much as he has argued that such an effort could never be successful. "A national map that has been rigged for one side to win is extraordinarily dangerous, especially when one party has completely broken faith with democracy," he tells me as we debate this point again today. "Gerrymandering the hell out of Illinois and New York doesn't save democracy. It doesn't give Democrats that much of a leg up on fixing this. It is a band-aid, when what you need is a tourniquet. It's not sufficient. By all means, go ahead and put a band-aid on, but don't think it's going to stop the bleeding."

"I'm calling for a national standard that fixes the problem in New York as well as in Texas," he argues (as do I). "Because there are not enough New Yorks to balance out the Texases and Floridas. Democrats can gerrymander the hell out of these states if they want, but it's not going to help them. What they need to do is fix the overall structural problem, or it's only going to get worse."

Prepare for it to get worse...

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Guest: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern of Slate; Also: Major new study confirms Ivermectin ineffective as COVID treatment...
By Brad Friedman on 3/30/2022 7:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast, one of our favorite guests is back to explain why the wildly corrupt Thomases, as horrible as they are, may be one of the least of our concerns when it comes to what the rest of the GOP's wildly corrupt --- not to mention stolen and packed --- U.S. Supreme Court may now be moving toward.[Audio link to full, must-listen show is posted below.]

First up, however, a major new, peer-reviewed, double-blind study released in full today, finds what many have been trying to make clear for quite some time: There is no legitimate evidence that the anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin, most commonly used to de-worm horses, has any positive effect as a treatment for COVID.

In fact, as one part of the huge new Brazilian study found, placebo pills were actually more effective than Ivermectin! Dr. Andrew Hill, a virologist at the University of Liverpool in England, whose early analysis (since retracted) of several smaller studies (at least one of which appears to have been fraudulent) was frequently cited for evidence of the drug's effectiveness, appears now to concur that the new Brazilian study pretty much removes all doubt. Ivermectin is of no use in treating COVID. We now have a pretty large body of evidence demonstrating that is true no matter what clownish TV doctors and profiteers and misinformation specialists on Fox "News" or Joe Rogan's podcast have to say about it.

That said, there are safe and effective (and free) ways to avoid the worst effects of COVID, which peer-reviewed studies have confirmed. They include the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. Actual professional virologists, epidemiologists and both the CDC and FDA strongly recommend them, as do we. Earlier this week the FDA authorized a second booster shot for anyone over 50 who hasn't received a shot in the past four months. Please get one and let's end this goddamn pandemic once and for all. Thanks.

On to our main topic(s) today, as we're joined by the always great, always illuminating, and pretty much always-right-about-everything MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist from Slate.com who smartly covers the law, the court system, the U.S. Supreme Court, election law, LGBTQ issues and much more.

We've got just a few things to discuss with Stern today, including the ridiculous Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings last week for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Joe Biden's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, where she would be its first black female Justice. On Wednesday, it was actually news for some reason that one Senate Republican has announced she will vote for Jackson's confirmation. But, beyond the childish stupidity of Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee last week falsely suggesting that Jackson is somehow in favor of child porn and terrorists, there was something else far more disturbing that emerged from the GOP questioning of Biden's highly qualified nominee.

In short: Republicans aren't just targeting Roe v. Wade's well-established right to an abortion (which the Supreme Court is very likely to overturn within the next few months), but they actually appear to be gunning to reverse a whole bunch of landmark, privacy-related rights, including Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark 2015 ruling establishing a Constitutional right to same sex marriage equality. But that's not all. Also now in their sites for reversal are Griswold v. Connecticut (1965, establishing the right for married couples to buy and use contraceptives) and, yes, even Loving v. Virginia (1967's landmark civil rights decision establishing the right to interracial marriage)!

Think these concerns are exaggerated? That Republicans aren't actually gunning for those federal rights as well? Tune in and find out if you're wrong.

Also, as we discuss, Stern now believes it is unlikely that Republicans will ever vote to confirm another Supreme Court Justice nominated by a Democratic President if they regain majority control of the Senate. He further believes they will stop confirming the President's nominees for any judgeship on the federal bench.

"It is very clear now that Republicans begin from the position that Democratic Presidents have no authority and no right to appoint Supreme Court Justices, or to appoint lower court judges. This is following a longstanding pattern in the Senate of Republicans almost uniformly --- or all uniformly --- voting against nominees to the lower court, including many who are super-qualified and uncontroversial," Stern observes. "We have swung back and forth between close confirmation votes and big overwhelming lopsided confirmation votes, but I fear that this is how it will be forevermore."

While those issues would be more than enough to fill an entire interview, it's not even half of what we cover with Stern today, including his thoughts on the wildly corrupt longtime rightwing activist Ginni Thomas and her husband, the wildly corrupt longtime rightwing activist Justice Clarence Thomas. The conversation follows on last week's explosive revelations that Ginni was relentlessly texting Donald Trump's Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in November of 2020, urging him to fight to reverse the results of Joe Biden's election victory, in hopes of overturning American democracy itself.

Given that Clarence was the only vote on the High Court in favor of blocking subpoenaed documents from the Trump White House, which might have included emails and text from Ginni, from being turned over by the National Archives to the U.S. House January 6 Committee, Stern believes this matter is now like nothing we have ever seen at SCOTUS.

"This may feel like the latest in a long line of atrocious conflicts of interest and injustices that Clarence and Ginni Thomas have inflicted on the country, but it is materially different, because we have never before seen a case where Clarence Thomas' vote so directly implicates his wife's work," Stern argues. After I note another such case --- where Ginni received hundreds of thousands of dollars in dark money for her so-called non-partisan non-profits following Clarence's vote in the 2010 Citizens United case (after that very same group, Citizens United, had quietly spent hundreds of thousands to help push through Clarence's controversial confirmation in 1991!), Stern notes that it "looks to the world, quite reasonably, like a husband trying to shield his wife from legal scrutiny. I think that is a huge leap forward in this story. This is different in kind, not just degree." He adds: "I think it's helpful to draw this distinction between votes that benefit a spouse and votes that shield them from a criminal probe."

So what should be done about the Thomases? Tune in for Stern's thoughts (and mine!) for a very lively conversation on that.

But wait, there's more! You may have heard about last week's outrageous "shadow docket" decision by the Court that put on hold a ruling by Wisconsin's Supreme Court, including the opinion written by one of its leading conservative justices, finding that Democratic Governor Tony Evers' new map for state legislative seats in the Badger State should be used in this year's redistricting, following the 2020 Census. The GOP's corrupt SCOTUS, however, feels otherwise, even though Evers' map was closer to the state's previous (and wildly gerrymandered) one than the map pushed by the state's far-right gerrymandered state legislature. To make the matter even more absurd, the High Court completely ignored its own entirely made up and opportunistically used "Purcell Principle", which is supposedly meant to prevent last minutes changes to laws that might throw elections into chaos. In this case, since Wisconsin's Supreme Court and Democratic Governor both agreed that a new black majority district was needed in Milwaukee, the rightwingers on SCOTUS decided they'd never heard of Purcell or, apparently, the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

If you're flummoxed about all of this based on the above explanation, you're not alone. Tune in, as Stern tries, as usual, to help us make sense of the senselessness now coming out of a U.S. Supreme Court that is on the verge of losing whatever shred of legitimacy it may have had left at this point...

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Record U.S. corruption; Biden economy booming (don't tell the media!); Snowflake Youngkin's 'tip-line' pratfall; 'Maus' banned in TN before Holocaust Remembrance Day; Internet's dumbest man strikes again...
By Brad Friedman on 1/27/2022 7:17pm PT  

Today, The BradCast is more than just a grab bag of American corruption. It's also topped off with several heaping helpings of rising rightwing autocracy and fascism! Enjoy! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the stories covered today...

  • A new report ranking corruption among 180 countries ranks the U.S. as the 27th least corrupt in the world. In 2021, we fell to our worst score ever --- tied with Chile --- in Transparency International's index. For some reason or another, that's a fall from our previous (less corrupt) high in 2015. Whatever could have happened between then and now to make us more corrupt? The group suggests new efforts already under way by the Biden Administration to tackle corporate corruption could "significantly enhance" our ranking in future surveys. But, for now, they chalk up the nations new record low to, among other things, "persistent attacks against free and fair elections, culminating in a violent assault on the US Capitol, and an increasingly opaque campaign finance system."
  • You may or may not have heard the news --- it disappeared off of AP's front page as quickly as it was posted there today --- but the U.S. economy under Joe Biden in 2021 was absolutely booming. New Commerce Department numbers released Thursday finds that U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) increased last year at the fastest pace since Ronald Reagan's Presidency. The economy expanded by 5.7% in 2021, the best calendar year growth since 1984. Based on 4th quarter numbers, however, GDP was growing at an even faster, 6.9% annualized pace. You sure wouldn't know it from corporate media coverage, however, focused as it is on things like inflation (due, in no small part, to the exploding consumer demand). All of this is akin to AP's recent ridiculous reporting on new jobs numbers, even amid decades-low unemployment numbers and rising wages. Their headline under Trump in February of 2018, for example: "U.S. Employers Added a Robust 200,000 Jobs in January". Compare that to their December 2021 headline under Biden: "U.S. Employers Added a Sluggish 210,000 Jobs in November." (Yes, you read those correctly.)
  • Corruption takes many forms and has many different effects on a nation, none of them good. Some of them, however, can be quite amusing, even when it comes from the clumsy rightwing spread of autocracy and facism, such as that playing out under the freshly sworn in Republican Governor in Virginia, Glenn Youngkin. He announced this week that he has created a tip-line for folks to report teachers who might teach anything objectionable. That might include, for example, anything that may have to do with systemic racism (in Virginia, of all places!) or that could be perceived as making (white) children uncomfortable (aware of) our nation's past (and present). But, "Whatever you do," one Virginia lawyer and former Democratic Congressional candidate hilariously cautioned this week in a viral Twitter thread, "don't make a mockery of this with fake tips" sent to the state's helpeducation@governor.virginia.gov email tip line! He even provided some examples of several fake racism tips that should absolutely not be sent to that address!
  • As amusing as that might be, the rising tide of Republican snowflakes seeking safe spaces is also taking darker turns. This week --- just before today's Holocaust Remembrance Day, as irony would have it --- the McMinn County, Tennessee School Board voted 10 to 0 to ban Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel MAUS: A Survivor's Tale from the school's 8th grade curriculum. The remarkable (beautiful, touching, terrifying, horrifying and even hilarious at times) story of Spiegelman's relationship with his parents, both Holocaust victims, relating their stories and his mother's horrible suicide with Jews drawn as mice and Nazis as cats, should be read by everyone. It's unclear if the County School Board is aware of the irony of banning books about Nazis who famously banned books, but the entire affair has left the author Spiegelman baffled and concerned about the rise of "autocracy and fascism" in the U.S., akin to what his parents eventually escaped in Europe. But it serves as another reminder of how important it is --- as discussed on yesterday's BradCast with Run For Something's Amanda Litman --- that more pro-democracy, anti-Nazi candidates need to run for local office everywhere! Including school boards!
  • And just one more for you today on the corruption of the media --- or at least, the fake, if wildly popular, disinformation propaganda site called Gateway Pundit. We usually try to ignore them and the clownish stuff they post. But they are behind about 90% of the phony wingnut "fraud" claims used by Trump and his gullible MAGA dupes to try and steal the 2020 election. This week, the website's super genius proprietor, Jim Hoft, posted a 100% phony story claiming that the Wisconsin state Assembly voted "unanimously" on Tuesday night to advance a resolution to decertify the Badger State's 10 electoral votes for Joe Biden from 2020. That, because they "were certified under fraudulent purposes." And because MAGA dupes are dupes, the story went viral, natch. As it turns out, one single state legislator in WI tried to introduce that resolution, with zero co-sponsors, was rejected, and it received zero votes in the Assembly. In fact, it wasn't allowed up for a vote at all. But don't tell the dopey propagandist/yutz Hoft, who still has the story posted on his site --- along with years of other phony, discredited, false stories --- two days after publishing it, even after USA Today's fact check thoroughly and verifiably showed it to be completely fake news. Sigh...
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for some actual and verifiable news in our latest Green News Report, with a new report on the costs of reaching net zero emissions; another finding air pollution to be much deadlier than previously known; the Biden Administration revoking controversial mining permits in Minnesota; and both McDonald's and KFC each offering a new, plant-based menu item which may, or may not, move you to want to eat it...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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