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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, January 18, 2022
GOP Gerrymanders 'Not So Bad' for Dems This Year? Think Again, Argues Expert: 'BradCast' 1/18/20
Guest: Brennan Center's Michael Li: Also: No fraud found in AZ; TX rejecting VBM requests...
Sunday 'National Treasure' Toons
Be sure to steal a moment for PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons...
DOJ 'Turning the Screws' on Path to Trump with Oath Keepers Sedition Charges: 'BradCast' 1/14/22
Guest: Marcy Wheeler; Also: WI judge bans drop boxes; OH Supremes nix GOP maps...
SCOTUS Blocks OSHA Experts from 'Protecting General Welfare' of Workers Amid Pandemic: 'BradCast' 1/13
Also: Oath Keepers charged with 'sedition'; Bernstein: 1/6 'cover-up' exceeds Watergate...
'Green News Report' 1/13/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Offshore wind on NY, NJ horizons; Oceans in 2021 warmest ever recorded; Extreme weather spikes food, commodity prices; PLUS: Biden EPA cracks down on toxic coal ash ponds...
Previous GNRs: 1/11/22 - 1/6/22 - Archives...
Prepare for 'Juristocracy' and Literal 'Destruction of the Administrative State': 'BradCast' 1/12/22
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: 1/6 Comm seeks McCarthy; GA D.A.'s Trump probe...
The Hilarious Death of the Pathetic Cyber Ninjas: 'BradCast' 1/11/22
Also: Biden finally calls for U.S. Senate filibuster reform to pass voting rights and election protection legislation...
'Green News Report' 1/11/22
U.S. emissions spiked in 2021, the 5th hottest year on record; U.S. weather disasters cost $145B in 2021; PLUS: NY's new Guv goes big on climate and clean energy...
Should We Feel Better About Merrick Garland Yet?: 'BradCast' 1/10/22
Omicron rising; Emissions rising; Calls for Trump accountability rising...
Sunday 'First Anniversary' Toons
Commemorating the week that was in PDiddie's latest collection of toons...
Protecting Democracy from the 'Re-Emerging Demons of Hell': 'BradCast' 1/7/22
Guest: Dr. Nils Gilman; Also: Arbery murderers sentenced; CyberNinjas fined, shut down...
1/6 Anniv: 'I Will Allow No One to Place a Dagger at the Throat of Our Democracy': 'BradCast' 1/6/22
Repubs still disinformed; Biden calls out 'lies for profit, power'; American democracy in peril...
'Green News Report' 1/6/22
Germany shuts nuke plants; Trump EPA chief, coal lobby-ist tapped as VA environment chief; Big EV news; PLUS: San Fran gets world's first hydrogen powered ferry...
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...


Also: Oath Keepers founder charged with 'seditious conspiracy' for Capitol attack; Bernstein says Jan 6. 'cover-up in excess of Watergate'...
By Brad Friedman on 1/13/2022 6:59pm PT  

Our guest on yesterday's BradCast nailed it. The stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court did, in fact, strike down one of the Biden Administration's vaccine mandates today (the one that allows employees to not get vaccinated if they choose), while narrowly approving the vaccine mandate for all health care workers at facilities that receive federal funding. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

The Omicron surge continues to rack up both record infections and hospitalizations. Death counts are now on the rise as well. Though there are hopeful signs that some parts of the U.S. may be peaking or plateauing, and that, in a few weeks, the surge may plunge as quickly as it initially spiked over the past few weeks. The advice this week from the Los Angeles County Health Director to hang on for just a few more weeks and avoid any non-essential public gatherings, particularly indoors with the unvaccinated or those at high risk of severe illness during that period, is likely good advice for everyone in the nation at this time.

That is especially true now that the non-medical experts at the U.S. Supreme Court seem dead set on preventing actual experts charged with protecting workers from helping to protect millions of them.

As Slate's ace legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern predicted on yesterday's BradCast, the packed Republican Supreme Court did, in fact, put a stay on President Biden's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandate for workers at large companies with more than 100 employees to either get vaccinated or get tested weekly. The other case heard during emergency oral arguments last week, the Administration's Health and Human Services mandate for vaccination of all workers at health care facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid funding, was narrowly allowed to remain. Chief Justice John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh joined the Court's three liberals in a 5 to 4 opinion [PDF] on that one.

Today, we step through the absurdities of the Majority opinion from the Court's rightwingers on the stayed employer mandate [PDF], as well as the even more absurd --- but dangerously so --- Concurring opinion authored by Justice Gorsuch with Thomas and Alito, as well as the furious Dissent, jointly penned by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan.

"Underlying everything else in this dispute is a single, simple question," the Dissenters wrote, 'Who decides how much protection, and of what kind, American workers need from COVID–19? An agency with expertise in workplace health and safety, acting as Congress and the President authorized? Or a court, lacking any knowledge of how to safeguard workplaces, and insulated from responsibility for any damage it causes?"

The stinging Minority dissent derides the non-expert Court Majority for being the ones to decide that the non-experts in Congress, as opposed to the experts at the Executive Branch agency charged by Congress via specific statue to protect workers, must make specific medical decisions through legislation for those workers. It is, of course, madness. Especially, as the Dissenters note, the Court's "Members are elected by, and accountable to, no one," whereas those at OSHA are not only experts, but "responsible to the President, and the President is responsible to—and can be held to account by—the American public."

Tune in for all the details. But the good-ish news for the moment is that only three of the Court's rightwingers were willing to sign on to the idea that statutes granting Executive Agencies the power to regulate things should be ignored when there is a "major question" at stake, as we discussed in some detail with Stern on Wednesday. But that good-ish news may not stand for long, as the Court will hear a case next month with even broader implications, as to whether the EPA, despite its statutory charge by Congress, is allowed to regulate pollution that is causing our climate emergency and much more. As we detailed yesterday, we are, in fact, watching the far-right "deconstruction of the Administrative state" before our very eyes.

Then, in what would, during normal times, be our lead story today, we quickly cover the arrest of Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the far-right Oath Keepers militia outfit, who, along with ten others in his group, were charged today "seditious conspiracy" for their part in the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, as part of Donald Trump's plot to steal the 2020 election.

The federal charges are the most serious to date in relation to the January 6 attack and are precisely what our guest from several weeks ago, Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel, told guest host Nicole Sandler was likely to soon happen, as the Dept. of Justice and Attorney General Merrick Garland continued a painstaking bottom-up probe. And yes, we did interview the Oath Keepers' Rhodes on this program back in 2016. Here is a link to that lively, if occasionally testy, interview.

And, in one more related matter on an absurdly busy show (restructured about five times before air today as news kept breaking!), GOP House Leader Kevin McCarthy, who recently told a reporter he "wouldn't hide from anything" when he asked if he was willing to speak to the bipartisan House Select Committee investigating January 6th, refused to cooperate with a voluntary invitation on Wednesday to speak with the Committee. In response to the news, Carl Bernstein (of Watergate's Woodward and Bernstein) told CNN on Wednesday night that the Committee already "has the goods" on McCarthy and what he said to Trump on Jan. 6 "and McCarthy has lied about it since."

"So, we have a real conspiracy, a real cover-up, real stonewalling in excess of anything we saw in Watergate," said Bernstein...who should know.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, which is packed with even more news during the final few minutes of today's program...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Jan 6. Comm seeks McCarthy interview; Fulton County, GA D.A. closing in on Trump...
By Brad Friedman on 1/12/2022 6:39pm PT  

Well, we start today's BradCast with some encouraging news. At least until our guest arrives. [Audio link to full, must-listen show follows this summary.]

First up, the investigators are closing in. In Congress, the House Select Committee investigating Trump's January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol are now "requesting" an interview and documents from House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, centered on his communications with Donald Trump "before, during and after" the insurrection.

Meanwhile, down in Georgia, Fulton County (Atlanta) District Attorney Fanni Willis also appears to be closing in on Trump and his fellow conspirators regarding their attempt to steal the 2020 election in the Peach State. In an interview with AP published on Monday, Willis said her team is making "making solid progress, and she’s leaning toward asking for a special grand jury with subpoena power to aid the investigation." She also believes a decision will soon be made on whether to indict Trump and several others. (Meadows? Giuliani? Lindsey Graham?) “I believe in 2022 a decision will be made in that case,” she told AP. “I certainly think that in the first half of the year that decisions will be made.”

And on Tuesday, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow reported "that attorneys for former President Donald Trump have now met in person with the Fulton County District Attorney's office in Georgia." The meeting reportedly took place last month, around the same time that Trump issued an unhinged, seemingly out-of-the-blue statement that few knew what to make of: "All the Democrats want to do is put people in jail. They are vicious, violent, and Radical Left thugs. They are destroying people's lives, which is the only thing they are good at...their DA's, AG's, and Dem Law Enforcement are out of control." Suddenly, his remarks makes a lot more sense.

Welp...That's about it for today's encouraging news, before we are then joined by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist for Slate on what appears to be Steve Bannon's dream of the "deconstruction of the Administrative State" about to come true.

Last Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on challenges to two separate COVID-related Biden Administration mandates. One applies to businesses with more than 100 employees, requiring them all to either get vaccinated or take weekly tests for the virus. The other requires vaccination for all workers at health care facilities that accept money from either Medicaid or Medicare. Both rules were set to take effect as the Omicron surge has led to record pandemic hospitalization numbers. The first was issued by way of regulations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the second via the Health and Human Services Administration (HHS). Both are based on authorities granted to the Executive Branch agencies via statutes adopted by Congress. Though none of those statutes, passed years ago, include the word "COVID" in them. So now they are both being challenged by Republican state Attorneys General as unconstitutional over-reaches by the Administration.

Based on tea leaves read during Friday's oral arguments --- with two of the challenging attorneys infected with COVID and arguing remotely --- Stern believes it's possible the employer mandate could survive, but that the health care mandate is likely to be struck down.

But buckle up for today's conversation with Stern about all of this, because these cases are a much much larger than simply about the COVID mandates, even though they are likely to save hundreds of thousands of American lives unless struck down by the Court. These challenges squarely target the so-called "Administrative State" which, as you'll recall, Trump's disgraced Senior Political Adviser Bannon vowed in 2017 that they planned to "deconstruct". That may finally be about to happen, thanks to Trump's stolen and packed Supreme Court.

We dive too far into the legal and Constitutional and political weeds to adequately summarize here, but the argument comes down to who has the Constitutional right to "protect the general welfare" of the citizenry on matters of public health (and much more). Is it Congress, which has no expertise in these matters? Or the Executive Branch agencies created by Congress and filled with such experts? Ironically, the ultimate body who will make this decision is going to be the Judicial Branch, which, like the Legislative Branch also has no expertise in these issues.

All of the COVID mandate challenges are based on legal doctrines such as the "major question doctrine" and the "nondelegation doctrine" (both explained by Stern) which, unlike the General Welfare clause, do not actually appear anywhere in the Constitution at all.

"There is nothing (in the Constitution) that requires these principles, and certainly nothing that gives the federal judiciary the power to decide what the Executive Branch gets to do and not do under Congressional delegations," Stern explains. "All of this stuff has been made up. It was made up a long time ago, and used to block New Deal programs under FDR, then immediately abandoned and discarded for nearly a century. Only in the last few years has it been revived by so-called 'originalists' who are seeking to box in Democratic Presidents and prevent them from issuing any kind of policy."

"We are talking about a really recent revival," he continues. "Because as recently as the early 2000s, the Supreme Court unanimously disclaimed any real version of the non-delegation doctrine, and a majority opinion written by Antonin Scalia [of all people!] basically said 'We don't have any expertise, it's not our job to tell Congress what it can and cannot entrust the Executive to do'. We are only about two decades out from that, and the entire conservative legal movement has turned on a dime and decided that, in fact, the courts have this intense obligation to police the boundaries between these branches, even though there's nothing in the Constitution that permits it, much less requires it."

The Scalia majority opinion in question, which Stern "encourage[s] everyone to read" is 2001's Whitman vs. American Trucking. "It is a very clear explanation of why the federal courts have absolutely no business mucking around in this kind of cooperation and negotiation between Congress and the Executive Branch. Twenty-one years later, everyone has decided to ignore that opinion on the Right and pretend like it never happened."

So, what will it mean if the Court now decides that experts at Executive agencies mandated by Congress to exercise their expertise may not do so? The fallout could be enormous and terrifying and go well beyond COVID and these two cases. By way of one example, Stern notes, next month the Court is about to hear a case where "the Biden EPA wants to restrict carbon emissions at power plants. While federal law gives the EPA vast authority to regulate and restrict all kinds of toxic and harmful emissions from power plants, it doesn't explicitly say 'carbon'. It says the EPA needs to decide what counts, and we will defer to their expertise."

But, Stern notes later in our conversation, "this does not start or stop with carbon. This goes to every toxic chemical on the planet, which Congress simply does not have the time or expertise to list. So, anytime you're thinking about the amount of benzene, or methane, or whatever horrific chemical you want to talk about in the water supply, the air supply, that stuff is regulated by the EPA, not directly by Congress. And if this Supreme Court goes as far as I fear it will, we are going to have a lot more unnecessary deaths because of a horrific amount of pollution that the President is going to be told that he simply cannot curb."

And, yes, even that is only the tip of the melting iceberg. It also goes farther than the EPA, to dozens, if not hundreds of other federal agencies and regulations on labor rights and much more, as Stern details. "But that is what these Justices seem to want, and that is the road that we are already following down," he warns. "We live in a juristocracy, my friend, and we are only just beginning to see the downstream consequences of it."

As noted, buckle up for this one...

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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Omicron rising; Emissions rising; Calls for Trump accountability rising...
By Brad Friedman on 1/10/2022 6:33pm PT  

As usual, there is nothing but fantastic news on today's BradCast! (Okay, maybe that's not entirely true. But the caller segment was lively!) [Audio link to full show is at the end of this summary.]

Among the stories covered and/or referenced today...

  • Don't be fooled by those claims that Omicron may be "less severe" than previous variants of the coronavirus, or that it only causes "mild" symptoms in most people. As of Monday, according to Reuters, the U.S. broke its all-time COVID hospitalization record, as hospitals are once again forced to cancel elective procedures while Omicron surges. Cases, hospitalizations and, yes, deaths are all rising, with deaths now averaging about 1,700/day (up from 1,400/day just a few days ago --- and nearing the height of the Delta surge just weeks ago.) The vaccinated are still FAR less likely to be infected, hospitalized or killed.
  • A new study released Monday from Europe's Copernicus Climate Change Service finds the last seven years have been the hottest on record globally, with 2021 coming in as the fifth warmest year ever recorded.
  • And the U.S. isn't helping. We're going the wrong way. Another new study published on Monday, from the Rhodium Group, finds that American greenhouse gas emissions from energy and industry rose 6.2% in 2021. In order to meet our commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement (and President Biden's goal of lowering U.S. emissions 50% below 2005 levels by 2030, and reach net-zero by 2050 --- not to mention, to try and save humanity), we need to decrease emissions by at least 5% each year. That said, 2021 could have been worse. One reason for the increase in 2021 was the unprecedented 10% decrease in emissions fueling man-made climate change in 2020, during the pandemic lockdowns. We're still below 2019 levels, for what it's worth. But we need to do much better. And quickly.
  • The Build Back Better Act would help that! It would, among many other transformative things, make an unprecedented historic investment in speeding the transition in the U.S. from dangerous, dirty fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy. But with that bill stalled in the Senate for now, thanks almost entirely to obstructionist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-coal industry), Dems are pivoting back to voting rights and election protection legislation this week in advance of next week's Martin Luther King Day holiday. But, of course, to pass the critical Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, they will still need to reform the filibuster, since the Republican Party is now radically opposed to voting rights and democracy. And to reform the filibuster to protect democracy, Manchin and obstructionist Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Kyrsten Sinema) will have to agree to play along. Good luck with that, Dems! (Seriously. Good luck!)
  • But whether Dems successfully reform elections or not, unless those who tried to steal the 2020 Presidential election in broad daylight are held criminally accountable, they will almost certainly try to do it again in the near future. And this time they'll be better prepared. Last week at The Guardian, Sidney Blumenthal offered a fascinating, detailed report on both the January 6th insurrection and the year-long attempted coup that got us there. The dunderheads and dupes that were hoaxed into storming the U.S. Capitol were, as Blumenthal reports, merely "the tip of the iceberg". The insurrection was, he explains, merely the end result of a year-long attempt to carry out a coup to steal the election, as organized by Koch Network-funded activist and legal groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), and the secretive rightwing Council on National Policy (CNP). Those groups plotted hand-in-glove with state and federal public officials in Congress, at Trump's DoJ, at the Pentagon and, of course, at the White House itself. And yet, nobody other than the dupes and dunderheads have yet been charged by the Dept. of Justice for one of the greatest attempted crimes in U.S. history.

    During the holidays, our guest host Nicole Sandler interviewed longtime independent investigative journalist Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel, who has been tracking the DoJ's probe and indictments of insurrectionists --- as well as the higher-ups who plotted the year-long coup attempt --- as close as anyone. Wheeler argued that those who have been critical of Attorney General Merrick Garland for not doing enough to date (including us!) haven't been paying close enough attention. She explained how the House Select Committee on the January 6 attack is working from the top-down and how DoJ (who, don't forget, raided Giuliani's home, office, computers and telephones soon after Biden took office and is still working through those documents) is working from the bottom-up. Wheeler details that both probes may almost be at the same place now, just a step or two away from Donald Trump himself.

    Moreover, during remarks last week at the DoJ to commemorate the first anniversary of the 1/6 attack and the subsequent largest investigation in the Department's history, Garland explained: "The Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6th perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law --- whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy. We will follow the facts wherever they lead."

    So, with all of that in mind, should we feel better about what Garland and the DoJ are now up to? We open the phones to listeners to get a sense of exactly that...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: UC-Berkeley's Philip B. Stark, post-election audit expert; Also: Another young GOP anti-vaxxer dies in SoCal; 2021 ends and 2022 begins with another round of deadly, climate change-fueled extreme weather...
By Brad Friedman on 1/4/2022 6:16pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Last September, Donald Trump demanded an "audit" of the 2020 Presidential election in Texas, where he was certified to have won by about 550,000 votes, the narrowest victory for a Republican nominee in the Lone Star State in decades. Hours after he demanded it, his lapdog, Republican Governor Greg Abbott, made it happen. Despite the state's top election administrator previously describing the 2020 election as "safe and secure", state taxpayers are now quietly paying for another review of results in the so-called "conservative" state. Four of its largest counties are being reviewed. Three of them went to Joe Biden in 2020. A report from the first phase of the so-called 'forensic audit' was released last week, when as few people as possible might notice: At the end of the day on Friday...New Years Eve. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But before we get there today, a quick update on the quickly intensifying Omicron surge of the coronavirus, as more than 100,000 Americans were hospitalized as of Monday, the highest number since the late summer Delta surge. President Biden once again urged Americans to get their shots. In White House remarks he said the public should "be concerned about Omicron, but don't be alarmed," before adding, "but if you're unvaccinated, you have some reason to be alarmed."

It's unknown if the Republican anti-vaxxer community in Orange County, CA will be moved by the President's comments. Perhaps the death this week of their well known 46-year old Deputy District Attorney, Kelly Ernby, a longtime GOP anti-vaccine activist and failed political candidate, will get their attention. We share her tragic, if predictable, story today, just weeks after the prosecutor's last Southern California rally in December in favor of "freedom" in opposition to vaccine mandates.

Then we're joined by PHILIP B. STARK, longtime Professor of Statistics at UC-Berkeley and the inventor of the post-election Risk Limiting Audit (RLA) protocol, to discuss the very quietly released "Phase 1 Progress Report" [PDF] of what Texas is describing as a "Full Forensic Audit of November 2020 General Election". The phrase "forensic audit", as Stark notes, doesn't actually have any accepted definition or specific meaning. But, we also discuss much more about the newly found "forensic audit" fever among Republicans who have spent years blocking Democratic measures in Congress to institute legitimate post-election audits in all 50 states after every election.

You'll not be surprised to learn that the Lone Star State's review, at least so far, appears to have turned up pretty much nothing unusual at all. Their hand-count of ballots (not of results, apparently, but simply of the number of ballots) in a number of precincts in each of four different large counties (Dallas, Harris, Tarrant and Collin) appears to have largely confirmed the original certified totals in those precincts. We discuss the not-much-to-see-here details that add to the continuing pattern of Republicans finding no evidence at all that the 2020 election was stolen, as Trump continues to falsely complain to this day.

But there is a much larger picture to discuss. The implementation of secret, computerized tallying of ballots over the past two decades has made election results virtually impossible for the public to oversee. That has helped open the door to crackpot claims like those from the loser former President that our elections are littered with fraud and false tallies. Stark explains how the lack of legitimate post-election audits, safeguards, transparency and "evidence-based elections" has led the nation to this moment when American democracy itself is now under very serious threat.

"The end goal is to conduct elections in such a way that we have strong evidence that the reported winners actually won," Stark explains. "In order to do that, you need to start by running your election well. You will have the documents, processes, the security protocols, etc., in place that allow you to do a meaningful audit that can tie a bow around the election, and say, yes, whatever might have gone wrong with the election didn't change the reported outcome."

"The problem," he continues, "is if you go into an election that wasn't run especially well, and then afterwards try to do something based on the records that you do have. You're never going to be able to present affirmative records that the reported winners really did win. They won't give you evidence for or against the outcome being right."

And then, the conversation turns much darker.

"I don't want to be alarmist, but I think we have a very short period of time in which to make our election processes far more publicly transparent and visible, and have much more public participation," Stark warns. "If we haven't implemented evidence-based elections by the 2024 Presidential election we are very likely to see serious civil unrest in the aftermath. We have to make it a top priority to conduct our elections in a way that they produce real evidence of who won, not just 'trust me, I did it right,' or 'trust the vendor who sold me the [voting and tabulation] equipment' or 'trust the people who configured it for me,' or 'trust this or trust that,' but actually 'show me!' We really need to have 'show me,' not 'trust me' elections."

As much as we strive to avoid false "both sidesism" on this program --- and even though some Dems in Congress have tried for years to adopt federal legislation mandating real post-election audits, only to be stymied by Republicans every time --- this really is a bipartisan problem. "After the 2016 election, the Republicans didn't want to look. After the 2020 election, the Democrats don't want to look. If you like the answer, you don't want to look too hard. I think that's a terrible mistake. It allows uncertainty to be weaponized, which is what we've seen in the aftermath of the 2020 election," Stark cautions.

He continues: "The fact that a system is vulnerable does not mean that it was exploited. But we ought to build our systems or run our systems in a way that if a vulnerability was exploited, we can catch it and correct the outcome before it becomes final. And we know how to do that. It is a solved problem. It is not rocket science. It does involve a lot of shoe leather. And it involves not trusting computers on the whole. It requires public transparency."

But if that is not going to happen at the federal level (thanks in no small part to Democratic Senators Manchin and Sinema, who are joining Republicans to block passage of audit mandates in the Freedom to Vote Act), it can certainly happen at the state level, where very few, if any, states currently carry out audits that are robust and transparent enough to earn full voter confidence. "I hope that some state legislatures rise to the occasion and decide to do evidence-based elections in time for at least 2024, if not the midterms," Stark tells me.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our first Green News Report of the new year, with deadly climate change-fueled extreme weather already wreaking havoc across both the nation and the world as 2022 begins...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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New Trump subpoenas; Climate change devastation in CO; Twitter ban for MTG; Hope for accountability as 'Every Day is Jan. 6 Now'; Plus: Callers!...
By Brad Friedman on 1/3/2022 6:33pm PT  

Well, we're back! That may or may not be good news depending on who you are and how you choose to look at it. Either way, we're getting our sea legs back on today's BradCast after a week off between the holidays (thanks, Nicole Sandler for covering for us for much of that time!), but it looks like the new year may not be much different than the old one. At least not necessarily better. At least not immediately. Nonetheless, we remain hopeful since it beats the alternative. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the stories and news both good and bad on today's program...

  • A document unsealed by the New York Supreme Court on Monday confirms that not only was Donald Trump subpoenaed for testimony and documents last month by state Attorney General Letitia James, so were his son and daughter Don Jr. and Ivanka. (Eric had already been subpoenaed and forced to give testimony in late 2020.) James is running a civil investigation into years of alleged bank and tax fraud by Trump and his Trump Organization. The District Attorney's office in Manhattan is also probing similar matters in a criminal investigation that James is partnering with, so there's a lot on the line and all of the Trumps, naturally, will try to quash and/or evade their lawful subpoenas. Like Eric, they will likely fail. The Manhattan DA is now Alvin Bragg as of this past weekend. He replaced the previous DA over the weekend, after Cyrus Vance, Jr. decided not to run for reelection last year. Vance's --- now Bragg's --- office has already brought criminal fraud charges against the Trump Organization and its Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg, for running a tax-avoidance scheme that paid executives benefits that remained off the books and untaxed.
  • In less bright news to start the year (and end the last one), Colorado officials now say that nearly 1,000 homes and other structures were destroyed and hundreds more damaged during a massive December wildfire among hurricane-force wind gusts last Thursday in the now well-populated suburbs between Denver and Boulder. Desi Doyen joins us to explain the climate change-related conditions --- unusual warmth, extreme drought, historic lack of snow and rain --- that made the fire so damaging.
  • The news got a bit brighter --- again, depending on how you look at it --- after Twitter permanently suspended Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA)'s personal account over the weekend. The far rightwinger has long used the social media service to spread lies, fraud and nonsense and, in this case, violated the company's COVID-19 misinformation policy for a fifth time. Her fifth and final strike was a tweet falsely citing "extremely high amounts of Covid vaccine deaths", citing the CDC's self-reported VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting Systems) database frequently and misleading cited by anti-vaxxers. Anyone is able to (and frequently does) add records to the public-facing database falsely claiming injuries or deaths related to COVID vaccines. Greene's Congressional Twitter account has not (yet) been banned, and we discuss the pros and cons of giant social media companies being able to permanently suspend users like the Congresswoman or even the former President, as they did last year. (And, yes, I have some experience in facing down Twitter, even when they inaccurately block the posting of accurate and independently verifiable reporting.)
  • But with all that is going on, none is more important than saving our faltering democracy from those on the Right in the MAGA Mob who are scheming to completely undermine it. On New Year's Day, the New York Times' Editorial Board published a must-read editorial headlined "Every Day is Jan. 6 Now". They are absolutely right. "In short," they argue, "the Republic faces an existential threat from a movement that is openly contemptuous of democracy and has shown that it is willing to use violence to achieve its ends." They conclude...

    Whatever happens in Washington, in the months and years to come, Americans of all stripes who value their self-government must mobilize at every level — not simply once every four years but today and tomorrow and the next day — to win elections and help protect the basic functions of democracy. If people who believe in conspiracy theories can win, so can those who live in the reality-based world.

    Above all, we should stop underestimating the threat facing the country. Countless times over the past six years, up to and including the events of Jan. 6, Mr. Trump and his allies openly projected their intent to do something outrageous or illegal or destructive. Every time, the common response was that they weren’t serious or that they would never succeed. How many times will we have to be proved wrong before we take it seriously? The sooner we do, the sooner we might hope to salvage a democracy that is in grave danger.

  • The Times' warning is on the money. New polling from ABC-Ipsos finds that not nearly enough Americans understand the very real threat posed to American democracy by Donald Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election through violence at the U.S. Capitol last year on January 6, nor the GOP efforts to make such an attempted theft all but impossible to prevent in 2024. On a related note, a new Morning Consult survey finds the Republican Party has paid no price among GOP voters --- and even all voters --- for either the Jan. 6 attack or the party's subsequent efforts to pass new voter suppression laws that also allow partisan officials to overturn legitimate election results for purely partisan reasons.
  • But on that matter too, there is hope as the new year begins. Members of the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack are united in their efforts to expose what happened, who is responsible for it, and any laws they feel may have been broken in the bargain. Over the weekend, Committee Vice-Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) detailed the panel's ongoing plans to hold public hearings in the new year to help detail all of the above, as based on more than 300 witness interviews and some 35,000 pages of documents, texts, emails, etc. Cheney explained on ABC's This Week program on Sunday that then President Trump watched the entire attack unfold on television from the dining room just off the Oval Office while ignoring threats from GOP House minority leader Kevin McCarthy and from his own daughter Ivanka to take action to take action to quell the insurrection that he incited. She even went as far as to say that Trump is "clearly unfit for future office" and "clearly can never be anywhere near the Oval Office ever again." She even went as far as to say she agrees with Hilary Clinton that if Trump runs and wins next time, "that could be the end of our democracy."
  • There was much more today, of course, but that gives you an idea of where we are as the new year begins. And callers also rang in throughout today's program with their own thoughts on all of the above and here is that must-listen interview I mentioned from Nicole Sandler last week with investigative journalist Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel, offering her very well-documented argument that no one should yet give up hope for accountability for Trump from the DoJ and Attorney General Merrick Garland (which we hope to discuss in more detail in the days ahead)...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest host Nicole Sandler with author John M. Barry and Times columnist turned gubernatorial candidate Nicholas Kristof…
By Nicole Sandler on 12/28/2021 3:47pm PT  

It's the excruciatingly long final week of the year. Brad and Desi are on vacation. I'm NICOLE SANDLER, holding down the fort and guest hosting The BradCast for a few days. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

I have a busy show for you today. But I start today's companion post with a bit of a retraction from the CDC which just arrived in my inbox. I honestly don’t know whether to laugh or cry, as it showed up just as I put the finishing touches on today's show.

Our first guest today is JOHN M BARRY, a professor at Tulane and author of a number of books. The one we're concerned with today is The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History. Barry literally wrote the book on the closest approximation of what we're living through right now. So I wanted to check in with him to ask how the 1918 Spanish Flu finally ended, and to ask if we might be on the same track with the arrival and potential predominance of the Omicron variant. And, frankly, it appeared that I may have hit on something.

At least until five minutes ago, when I received this alert. "CDC significantly cuts estimate of omicron's prevalence in US," reads the headline at The Hill. So I kept reading...

According to agency data, omicron accounted for about 59% of all US infections as of Dec 15. Previously, the CDC said the omicron variant comprised 73% of all cases for the week ending Dec 18. But that number has now been revised to 22.5% of all cases. And the Delta variant still accounts for about 41%...and to make matters even worse, the US is now averaging more than 206,000 cases a day and climbing, according to the CDC.

I guess that just means the situation is even more dire than we thought.

Also today, I reached back into late 2020 for our second interview, but there’s a method to my madness. In October of 2020, NY Times columnist NICHOLAS KRISTOF and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, produced a film to go along with the book they released the previous year with the same title, Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope.

In it, Kristof takes a hard look into poverty in America, the wealthiest nation on the planet. He takes us back to his hometown of Yamhill, Oregon, where people are really struggling.

Perhaps it was the journey of making the film and writing the book that convinced Kristof to make a major life change. This year, he quit the NY Times, moved back to Oregon and launched his campaign to run for Governor. It appears to me that he's doing it for all the correct reasons. Listen to our conversation, and you’ll understand what I mean…

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: The Nation's John Nichols on that and other progressive wins and losses this year; Also: In the spirit of the season, lauding not one, but TWO Republicans (and one of them is Trump!)...
By Brad Friedman on 12/23/2021 5:41pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we continue to catch up with a few of our favorite progressive journalists as the year grinds down. And, yes, there are still a few things to celebrate before Christmas. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

This week, unionized Kellogg's workers in four states --- Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Tennessee --- approved a new five-year contract after a long, 11-week strike. The corporate cereal behemoth had recently threatened to replace the strikers with new, permanent (scab) workers. But, according to members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) International Union, the loud support of lawmakers, including the President of the United States and members of his Administration, Sen. Bernie Sanders, as well as state and local officials in Michigan and elsewhere, buoyed their resolve to keep going. And it worked! The BCTGM President noted this week that the new contract includes wage increases, cost-of-living adjustments, expanded health and retirement benefits and "does not include any concessions."

The victory for 1,400 workers, at a company which touted its workers just last year, during the darkest days of the pandemic, as "essential workers helping to feed the nation," was one of several for unionized labor this year. Our guest today, author and longtime progressive journalist JOHN NICHOLS of The Nation and Madison, Wisconsin's Capitol Times, joins us to help explain why.

"What's happened again and again" this year at companies like Kellogg's, John Deere and elsewhere, Nichols explains, "is that initially, the company bargains in the old-fashioned way. 'We're going to be tough with you...We'll permanently replace you.' All the old tricks." But, in a labor market with very low unemployment, where it is now difficult to find skilled workers or those willing to work in difficult, often dangerous conditions for low pay and benefits, "it's not going to work in this situation. The end result is the companies blinked."

But we've got much more than just the rise of labor in 2021 to catch up on with Nichols today in a lively, wide-ranging conversation on that...

  • on how the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act would help a broad swath of workers across the country;
  • on Joe Manchin and the (theoretical) death of Biden's Build Back Better Act and what the West Virginia Democratic Senator's betrayal to his own party and his own constituents may mean for the future of the filibuster and federal voting rights legislation;
  • on Nichols' fascinating new article for The Nation on the FBI's weird scrutiny of It's a Wonderful Life as a Communist tool back in the 1950s (they thought it made Mr. Potter --- and capitalism --- look bad);
  • and on his upcoming new book calling for accountability --- akin to that which came out of FDR's Pecora Commission following the Great Depression --- for Coronavirus Criminals and Pandemic Profiteers. "In every chapter in the book," Nichols explains, "I find individuals who died, and I track through the cabinet members, the judges, the CEOs, whoever, who could have taken actions that would have let that person live."

That's just a taste. Tune in for much more today with the great Mr. Nichols!

Then, yes, in the spirit of the holidays (and, perhaps, in hopes that it may save even one life), we laud two Republicans today for (barely) doing the right thing this week. One is Congressman Tom Rice of South Carolina, who now says he regrets voting against Joe Biden's certification in two states following the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. ("There was a coward in that equation," Rice told Politico. "But it wasn’t Mike Pence.") And, perhaps most begrudgingly of all, we laud Trump himself for saying out loud during a wingnut interview this week: "The vaccine worked. But some people aren't taking it. The ones that get very sick and go to the hospital are the ones that don't take the vaccine. ... If you take the vaccine, you're protected. Look, the results of the vaccine are very good...People aren't dying when they take the vaccine."

Yes, the bar is admittedly very low at this point, but we've gotta start somewhere if we want to figure out how to repair this broken nation (and planet.)

Speaking of...the fine folks at ExxonMobil were apparently able to fit in one last disaster before year's end, with an explosion in the middle of the night at one of their refineries near Houston that injured four workers, three of whom were airlifted from the scene. The company downplayed the incident, as usual, describing it as "a fire occurred at our facility". The Houston County Sheriff's office described a "major industrial accident". We hope to learn more soon.

No room for that story today, however, in our final Green News Report of the year (we're standing down next week, Nicole Sandler will be filling in for us for most of it), as Desi Doyen joins us for a round-up of the disasters and successes in the environmental world in 2021, and much more...including one more victory for labor and union workers, as the Biden Administration mobilizes to rid the nation of millions of lead pipes...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton on that and MUCH more at year's end; Also: FDA approves COVID pill; Biden seats 40th judge; U.S. economy 'booming' says WSJ (someone please tell rest of the media!)...
By Brad Friedman on 12/22/2021 6:11pm PT  

We've been arguing for weeks that the accountability walls are closing in on Donald Trump. Scoff if you will, but we have still more evidence of that on today's BradCast --- plus a lot more to talk about with our guest as another year crawls toward its close. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Donald Trump-incited January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol and his attempt to steal the 2020 election is now turning their attention to fellow sitting members of Congress. On Monday, they requested (not subpoenaed, but requested) far-right Freedom Caucus member and conspiracy theorist Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA, that's him on the left in the graphic) come in to answer a few questions about his efforts to install Jeffrey Clark as Attorney General in the days before Jan. 6th. Clark, a Trump DoJ officials who has pleaded the 5th in response to a Committee subpoena, was part of a scheme to lie to swing-state legislatures that the Justice Department had discovered fraud in the 2020 election, mandating new electors be selected by them for Trump instead of the ones voters actually selected for Joe Biden. The Committee informed Perry that they "have received evidence from multiple witnesses that you had an important role in the efforts to install Clark as acting Attorney General.”

By Tuesday, Perry declined to accept the polite invite, and the Committee subsequently said they are prepared to seek the information they need "using other tools." That may include a subpoena, which Perry cannot reject, unless he either wishes to plead the 5th or risk jail time via a Contempt of Congress citation.

Today, far-right Congressman and key Trump ally Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH, that's him on the right) --- who has admitted to having had multiple conversations and meetings with the disgraced former President both on January 6th and in the weeks preceding it --- received a request similar to Perry's. The Committee would like Jordan to "discuss each such communication with [Trump] in detail," according to a letter sent to the Congressman just before air time today. Back in October, Jordan announced during a House Rules Committee hearing, when asked if he'd speak to the Jan 6th Committee about his conversations with the then-President, that he had "nothing to hide." We'll soon find out if that was a lie.

Buttressing all of this, New York Times reported earlier in the week that the Committee, while its 40 investigators and staffers (including former federal prosecutors) have been sifting through some 30,000 documents and interviews with more than 300 witnesses, has shifted from plans to merely detail what happened during the January insurrection to considering criminal referrals to the DoJ. Among the crimes they are looking into are those related to felony obstruction of an official proceeding and "wire fraud by Republicans who raised millions of dollars off assertions that the election was stolen, despite knowing the claims were not true," as the paper reports.

As noted, walls are closing in. Will Attorney General Merrick Garland soon take notice? Or action?

Beyond that, while there has been much troubling news as the year draws to its dark conclusion --- from the rise of Omicron to Joe Manchin gutting President Biden's progressive agenda --- there is also a bunch of encouraging news, too much of which is being ignored or downplayed by media.

Today, the FDA approved emergency authorization for Pfizer's anti-viral pill to treat COVID, said to reduce severe illness and hospitalization by nearly 90% if taken early enough. This week, the U.S. Senate confirmed Biden's 40th nominee to a lifetime appointment on the federal bench. In addition to being the most diverse such group of appointees, their number far outpaces Trump's first year (who saw just 18 nominees seated) and ties the record set by Ronald Reagan more than 40 years ago.

The most maddening news being downplayed by corporate media for weeks, however, is what Wall Street Journal (of all papers!) described today as the "booming U.S. economy," which they report to be outpacing Europe and Asia by a mile. "U.S. economic output is set to expand by more than 7% annualized in the final three months of the year," the paper notes, as compared to "about 2% in the eurozone and 4% in China."

On top of that, "Major U.S. ports are processing almost one-fifth more container volume this year than they did in 2019," also "leaping ahead" of European and Asian ports, while the purchase of durable goods has surged by about 45% above its 2018 pace in the U.S., compared to a 2% rise in Europe. Unemployment is heading toward lows not seen in decades and wages are growing at about 4%, well above both Europe and pre-pandemic rates.

So, it's little wonder that the bulk of the corporate media seems obsessed with inflation as Joe Biden's poll numbers, particularly on his handling of the economy, go South. We can't imagine where the American public may have gotten such a misleading impression of his accomplishments in his first year.

Joining us today to discuss all of the above and much more at year's end, is our old friend and award-winning progressive columnist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo. Among the boatload of questions she speaks to...

  • Why is corporate media coverage of Biden and the Democrats so wildly out of balance with reality, as compared to their coverage of Republican Presidents?
  • Why doesn't the media note that, in addition to Manchin declaring his opposition to Biden's Build Back Better agenda, not one single Republican supports it --- or pretty much anything else Democrats propose, including the American Rescue Plan, passed with no Republican votes earlier this year to get life-saving vaccines to Americans and money in their pockets? Guaranteed filibusters on everything is actually a very new phenomenon, even if it only seems to occur when Democrats are in control for some odd reason.
  • Is Manchin really hoping to kill the Build Back Better Act? Or is something else going on? And is there a way for Democrats to get him back on board with the Biden Agenda?
  • Where the hell is Merrick Garland and will the Jan 6th Committee finally kick the Department of Justice into gear when it comes to accountability for the people who actually incited the insurrection and tried to steal a Presidential election?
  • Will Donald Trump finally be criminally indicted in the year ahead in New York, Georgia and/or by the DoJ? And, if so, will that make him more likely to run in 2024, or less?
  • Will 2022 be better or worse than 2021? (Which was, easily, the best year we've had since 2020.)

I don't have the heart today, so close to Christmas, to tell you how she answered that last question. As noted, a lot to discuss with Digby today!...

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Biden addresses nation on Omicron emergency plans, begs vaccine disinfo peddlers to 'stop'; Also: Trump got secretly boosted; Coal miners union wants thin-skinned, corrupt Manchin to reconsider BBB...
By Brad Friedman on 12/21/2021 6:03pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: As the year grinds toward another bizarre, unbalanced close, America tries to pick up the pieces and keep moving forward. So do we. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

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

  • On the heels of Sen. Joe Manchin's stunning weekend announcement that he was breaking his promise to the President and his party to support the Build Back Better Act, which includes nearly $600 million to fight climate change and help coal miners in Manchin's home state, the nation's largest mining union is hoping that the West Virginia Senator will reconsider his decision. Among the funds in BBB is money earmarked for victims of black lung disease as well as tax incentives to help ex-miners from the dying industry and to protect its union workers. While Manchin makes millions from the coal industry via the coal brokerage firm he founded, which is now owned by his son, he doesn't appear to give a damn about the industry's actual miners.
  • A few additional thoughts today on why the corrupt Democratic Senator from West Virginia --- who is killing the most progressive climate and social spending agenda in the nation's history (after every single Republican in Congress has refused to support it in anyway) --- is still needed in the Democratic caucus. For a start, without him, there would have been no American Rescue Plan (which sent $1,400 checks to Americans earlier this year, expanded the Child Tax Credit program to send $300 per child each month to parents, and helped get hundreds of millions vaccinated), nor would President Biden have been able to seat a record number of federal judges in the first year of his Presidency. Without Manchin as a Democrat --- love him or hate him --- Mitch McConnell and the Republicans would be in the Senate majority right now and none of Biden's many critical accomplishments to date would have happened.
  • So, why did Manchin decide to break his promise to his party and the President on BBB? Steve Clemons reports that while negotiations between the two Joes had been moving forward, even if slowly, the thin-skinned Senator didn't like being singled out by name in a statement from the White House --- even though the statement was largely encouraging about the state of negotiations. Lame. But we think that even that explanation is likely little more than excuse for Manchin's betrayal. We explain why.
  • Next, the remarkably transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus is spreading at an absolutely unfathomable speed in the U.S. just before the Christmas holiday, according to the latest CDC numbers out this week. In little over a week, it appears to have gone from just 3% of cases to 73% of cases nationwide, all but edging out Delta entirely. There are one or two possibly encouraging pieces of news about the new variant, but it will still be a matter of weeks before we know if those potentially reassuring points will come to pass. In the meantime, a whole bunch of people are going to get sick and many are likely to die. Almost all of those who get severely ill and face both hospitalization and death will be those who refused to (or couldn't, for legitimate reasons) get vaccinated, including with a critical booster shot.
  • Among those who received a booster shot recently --- in secret --- is former President Donald Trump. That, after suggesting in September he was unlikely to get one. Turns out he's a liar. Who knew?
  • Amidst the disturbing news of Omicron's lightning surge, and the hospitals that are likely to become overwhelmed very shortly across the nation (many already are), President Biden addressed the nation from the White House on Tuesday afternoon. He shared the Administration's plans to try and minimize the coming damage. Biden announced that the federal government will spend more than a billion dollars on free home COVID test kits; instructed the Pentagon to be prepared to deploy more than 1,000 National Guard troops to help overcrowded hospitals handle the coming testing, infection, and hospitalization surge; is activating FEMA to deploy additional hospital beds where hospitals are overrun, and to have ambulances on standby to help transport patients from one overrun hospital to another where a bed may be available. He reiterated the need for everyone to get vaccinated and explained what families should and shouldn't do over the coming holidays. We share his address in full today, and offer a few thoughts in response.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us with our latest Green News Report on climate fallout from Manchin's BBB announcement; a deadly December super-typhoon that slammed the Philippines; and some good news on mileage standards from the EPA and for the U.S. offshore wind industry...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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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Also: 'A lot of people are about to get sick' due to 'explosive' Omicron...
By Brad Friedman on 12/16/2021 6:30pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we cover both COVID and SCOTUS and how to try and stay safe from and/or fight back against the very serious threats now posed by both of these hideous, rogue, all-caps acronyms. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

First up, it's COVID. Specifically, the Omicron variant, as the CDC finds that, according to their latest data, unvaccinated people are 14 times more likely to die and 11 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than those who are vaccinated. Those numbers seem to refer to those vaccinated by two mRNA shots without a booster shot, which is now key to fighting the quickly rising threat of Omicron.

As Josh Marshall bluntly warns in one of his chilling recent updates on newly emerging data on the new, highly transmissible variant --- which still include a number of unknowns --- "A lot of people are about to get sick."

New studies just coming in from around the world suggest that Omicron is incredibly aggressive, even for those with some immunity from two vaccine shots or previous infection. A booster shot, the studies are finding, help tremendously to ward off both the likelihood of infection, as well as the worst symptoms. Two doses and a booster will roughly offer the same protection against Omicron as two shots alone did against Delta. Marshall reports the data show "late December through January will be explosive in terms of numbers of infections" in the U.S. He repeated a similar warning based on newer incoming data on Omicron last night: "The rate of growth is simply explosive. There’s no other way to put it...we should expect a very, very large wave of infections in the coming weeks...The pace and scope of the surge looks likely to be something like the original one in the Spring of 2020."

Too many people, I believe, have been placating themselves on the somewhat misleading data point suggesting Omicron infection appears to be less severe than previous variants. There are a number of reasons that it could be (including the fact that many now have at least some immunity due to vaccination or antibodies from a previous infection), but the severity level misses the point of the somewhat terrifying transmissibility numbers emerging right now and how that is likely to overwhelm health systems in this country and result in a lot of people dying. A more mild disease that infects 5 times more people is equally or potentially even more deadly.

The current surge under way in the U.S. is still almost entirely comprised of Delta cases. Once Omicron --- which is really good at breaking through immunity created by both infection antibodies and vaccines --- begins to rise over the next 2 to 4 weeks, things could get really bad on several levels. We are already seeing deaths spike again to more than 1,700 a day in the U.S., and that's almost entirely from Delta.

Bottom line: Get boosted. "It's not a marginal difference" from two shots, Marshall advises, based on a very close reading of emerging data and discussion with experts, "It's a big one." He goes on to write: "I would also seriously consider limiting obvious vectors of exposure: indoor activities in large groups, eating indoors, large crowds indoors or out. We all have our own levels of risk aversion and we can’t hide forever. But you should assume that your risk of being exposed to COVID is about to go up a lot. So plan accordingly.

Of course, he's hardly the only one sending this similar message. "All the models right now are flashing bright red," warns New York "Intelligencer" science writer David Wallace-Wells in one of his latest pieces headlined "Omicron is About to Overwhelm Us: The new COVID variant has all the makings of a mass wave." Pay attention please. Get boosted.

Next up, it's SCOTUS. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) penned a blistering --- if absolutely correct on every key point --- op-ed at Boston Globe yesterday, calling for the expansion of the Republicans "packed" and "stolen" and "corrupt" Supreme Court. The call comes not a moment too soon (and, perhaps a year or so too late). Still, it's good to hear elected officials speak as directly about the threat now posed by this corrupted, partisan Court to "basis principles of law" which now "threaten the democratic foundations of our nation."

We share most of her piece on air today. But if you don't listen to the show, read her must-read piece. She breaks down precisely how Mitch McConnell's hypocritical "Republican court-packing has undermined the legitimacy of every action the current court takes" as its illegitimate 6 to 3 rightwing "supermajority will continue to threaten basic liberties for decades to come." Democrats, she advises, must exercise their Constitutional Article III, Section 1 authority to change the size of the Court, as Congress has done at least seven times before. That number doesn't even include what happened after McConnell, corruptly "reduced the size of the court for over a year solely for ... partisan gain and then turned around and jammed through another nominee days before losing the presidency."

But, as welcome as op-eds are, action is better. So we were delighted when, immediately after the Supremes last week once again allowed Texas' clearly unconstitutional six-week abortion ban law to stay in place, the Governor of California announced plans for actual action to push back. If its now judicially acceptable to write laws that both undermine Constitutional rights and evade judicial review by allowing private citizens to enforce it, as the Texas law does, the same can be done with other rights.

On Saturday, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared his intention to "work with the Legislature and the Attorney General on a bill that would create a right of action allowing private citizens to seek injunctive relief, and statutory damages of at least $10,000 per violation plus costs and attorney’s fees, against anyone who manufactures, distributes, or sells an assault weapon or ghost gun kit or parts in the State of California."

"If states can now shield their laws from review by the federal courts that compare assault weapons to Swiss Army knives, then California will use that authority to protect people’s lives, where Texas used it to put women in harm’s way," the Governor noted in his brief statement. "If the most efficient way to keep these devastating weapons off our streets is to add the threat of private lawsuits, we should do just that."

He seems quite serious. And so does New York Attorney General Leticia James who, when asked about whether her state might take similar actions to Newsom's this week on ABC's The View, cited the outrageous immunity against prosecution that gun manufacturer's have been afforded by federal statute to say: "Yes! When I heard about that, I said to my team, we need to follow his lead."

Good. It's remarkable that the extremist radical rightwingers on the High Court either didn't see this coming, or didn't care. Of course, if the Supremes are cool with the Texas law as written, what is to stop any state from allowing "lawful" private, vigilante law suits against people who are simply exercising their First Amendment rights by, say, wearing a MAGA hat or being members of the Republican Party? In truth, nothing stops that at all, which is why Sen. Warren's op-ed is so on point.

Finally, as if those threats are aren't enough, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more threats to our climate than the Supreme Court should allow us to fit into six minutes...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: We finally got boosted!; And, another deadly climate change fueled disaster devastates Midwest...
By Brad Friedman on 12/13/2021 6:26pm PT  

We've got a lot to catch up with on today's BradCast, after a weekend lost to recovery from our Moderna booster shots. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, we discuss how things went following Friday boosters for both Desi and myself. For me, as after the second shot, not so good (though much better than actual COVID!) For Desi...it was pretty much business as usual beyond a bit of fatigue. Either way: Go get your shots! Also, just before air, California announced they are re-instituting a statewide mask mandate for indoor, public spaces amid another surge in COVID cases.

Next, 74 people are now confirmed dead in Kentucky alone, and more than a dozen were killed in four other Midwestern states on Friday night after a swarm of very late season tornadoes devastated an eight-state area, as unusually warm December air met with a cold front. Predictably, a climate change-fueled disaster ensued as the states, particularly Kentucky, now wrestle with mass power and water outages amid freezing temperatures for tens of thousands of residents while trying to sift through rubble and continue recovery efforts. Desi details the extreme weather's known connections to climate change and how (and if) corporate media are bothering to cite the causes for yet another deadly, intense, out-of-season extreme weather event.

Then, also breaking over the weekend, the release of a PowerPoint document called "Election Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for JAN 6". It was obtained by the U.S. House Select Committee investigating January 6, from Donald Trump's former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. The document was turned over to the Committee as part of a tranche of email and text message documents from Meadows before he decided he would stop cooperating with them. He will now almost certainly face federal criminal contempt charges, just as Trump's former aide Steve Bannon is now facing for also failing to answer lawful subpoenas from Congress.

This latest "smoking gun" document --- a 38-page version of which was circulated after the election last year, and a very similar 36-page version dated on Jan. 5 --- further cements the details behind the broad criminal conspiracy to steal the 2020 election from Joe Biden and the American people by Donald Trump and his minions. In this case, those cronies include the bulk of his Campaign staff and attorneys, much of his White House staff, members of the Dept. of Justice and a whole bunch of elected officials both in Congress and in the states.

We walk through a number of the evidence-free assertions made in the PowerPoint presentation which, according to Meadows, was to be shared with people "on the Hill" on January 5. Among those assertions, that China and Venezuela had "systematically gained control over our election system constituting a national security emergency," after "electronic voting machines were compromised."

Of course, there is zero evidence included in the document for those extraordinary claims. And those referencing Venezuela are known to be nonsense, since they are directly based on my own exclusive reporting at The BRAD BLOG from 2008 to 2010, which Team Trump subsequently lifted, twisted, mangled and bastardized to somehow support their false, easily-disproven and evidence-free narrative.

As to the "national security emergency" cited by the document, Trump was encouraged to declare one in order to then order ballots collected by the National Guard and U.S. Marshalls in all 50 states, to be counted by them once "invalid" and "fraudulent" ballots were somehow removed. Those same National Guard members, Meadows' documents also assert, according to the House Committee, were also to be tasked to "protect pro Trump people" on January 6 during the attack on the U.S. Capitol after Pence refused to go along with the plan to declare the Electoral College votes invalid. The last effort by Team Trump to steal the election was, as we all know, to hurl thousands of his gullible supporters at the Capitol itself in hopes of preventing the Constitutional certification of Joe Biden's legitimate election victory. The subsequent deadly attack was exactly what Bannon blatantly teased on his "War Room" podcast on January 5th. They were all in on it, including a bunch of members of Congress, as the Jan 6 Committee has recently been suggesting.

We explain much more detail on what is revealed by the ridiculous claims in the PowerPoint presentation on today's program, and how the guy --- retired U.S. Army Colonel Philip Waldron --- who reportedly circulated it among the dupes on the Right, actually met with Meadows at the White House as many as 10 times in the run-up to January 6th.

But the main point is this: Donald Trump and his minions employed a coordinated attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election. It was not haphazard and it was not just low level operatives. And it was not, as media and many Dems still mis-describe it, an attempt to overturn or reverse or question or subvert the results. It was not an attempt to ferret out "voter fraud" or "election fraud". Donald Trump tried to STEAL the 2020 election and this was the "Rosetta Stone" road map for it. It would help the nation understand how close we came to losing what is left of our democracy entirely if it was described in those simple, basic and absolutely accurate terms.

What do about it? That will, no doubt, be the subject of future programs. But, at least today, hopefully, you will understand what happened and what didn't --- along with what they tried to do, and what they failed to do --- so we can all take action to make sure, somehow, something like this can never happen again...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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In other words...a whole lotta news...
By Brad Friedman on 12/9/2021 6:33pm PT  

Yes, the walls are continuing to close in on our disgraced, twice-impeached, indescribably criminal previous President, as discussed in two encouraging news stories today. But much of his damage is already done, to a rightwing party that has become so whacked out and authoritarian that the rails they are now off of can no longer be seen. On the other hand, we've got more good news for labor, the economy and maybe even democracy under Joe Biden's Presidency on today's BradCast...whether the corporate media decides to notice such things or not. [Audio link to full program is posted at the end of this summary.]

Among the enormous grab bag of stories covered on today's program...

  • Lowest in 52 years: New weekly jobless claims come in at another record low today. And, while you might think such good news numbers, not seen since 1969, would be both cause of celebration and front page news alerts, that sort of thing only happens when such things occur while's there's a Republican in the White House, apparently.
  • Good news brewing for workers: A Starbucks shop in Buffalo, New York becomes the first of the coffee giant's corporate-owned stores to become unionized in the United States. As discussed with labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein on a recent BradCast, the company will spend untold millions to keep that from spreading to its tens of thousands of other stores where workers may finally be realizing the collective bargaining is good for everybody.
  • At least someone's doing something about it: Italy issues a record fine to e-commerce giant Amazon of more than a billion dollars for their monopolistic practices. Why doesn't the U.S. do the same thing? Perhaps it will with Joe Biden's new, anti-monopoly warriors setting up shop at the Federal Trade Commission and the anti-trust division at the Dept. of Justice.
  • Unsolved MAGA mysteries: Some of the wingnuts on pillow impresario and failed election fraud fraudster Mike Lindell's streaming disinformation channel think it must be a Big Government conspiracy causing rightwing anti-vax and anti-mask warriors to keeping contracting COVID and dying from it. We think there may be another explanation.
  • You decide: Authoritarian Fox "News" prime time star Laura Ingram can't figure out what Washington Post's Dana Milbank could possibly be referring to in calling for media to stand up for democracy right now. "Authoritarians? What are they even talking about?," Ingram puzzles. "Authoritarians? Who's that?!"
  • Show-Me shame: Missouri's embarrassing wingnut Attorney General and U.S. Senate hopeful Eric Schmitt embarrasses my old home state with a letter welcoming President Biden to the Show Me state for his "first visit as President to one of the 25 states that cast its electoral votes for President Trump in 2020" before, on official state AG letterhead, describing him as a "socialist" endangering "the livelihoods of tens of millions" by mandating vaccines or testing for many workers. For an AG, you'd think he'd be better at fact-checking. (Biden has actually visited seven other Trump states before arriving in MO.) But, it's Schmitt's recent Big Government mandate to local public health officials and school boards across the state to immediately end "all" public health orders --- for mask mandates, quarantines and more --- that has one of our listeners from the state (an elementary school teacher) so troubled. She also smartly wonders: "What happened to Republicans being the party of local control?"
  • I ❤ New York: As to those walls continuing to close in on the criminal former President, we've got two related pieces of good news today. In one, New York Attorney General Leticia James is reportedly calling Trump in for a deposition in her civil suit examining years of apparent tax and bank fraud by the Trump Organization.
  • I ❤ the D.C. Court of Appeal: In today's second Trump accountability story, the federal appeals court in D.C. has denied his appeal claiming "Executive Privilege" should block the release of a treasure trove of White House documents regarding his January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, as subpoenaed from the National Archives by the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection and approved by the current Commander-in-Chief (the only one who ACTUALLY is able to invoke Executive Privilege.)
  • 'Yes, Democracy is hard': Democracy is down but not out...yet. President Biden convened the first Summit for Democracy today, with more than 100 of the world's democratic nations invited to attend. We share part of his opening statement, wherein he acknowledges that democracy is on a "backward slide", even here in the U.S., but that its still well worth fighting for and definitely beats the alternative of autocracy, rising around the world, and even here at home.
  • State of emergency: Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, covering Biden's new Executive Orders to achieve net zero emissions by 2050; Florida taking unprecedented steps to save beloved manatees; troubling news for New Englanders this winter; and a heads-up on a new, blockbuster Hollywood "comedy" aiming to underscore our climate change emergency in a very clever way...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: DoJ sues Texas for racial gerrymandering; Omicron more/less dangerous than you may know; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 12/6/2021 6:35pm PT  

Lots to get caught up with on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the stories covered...

  • We hope to cover this more on an upcoming show, but on Monday, not long before air, the Dept. of Justice filed a federal lawsuit against Texas, hoping to block the Lone Star state's newly drawn and racially gerrymandered Congressional and state legislative districts under what is left of the Voting Rights Act. The state is adding two new Congressional districts following the 2020 Census, after gaining some 4 million new residents over the past decade. But, despite growth in the Latino and Black populations comprising 95% of the increase in voters, the state Republicans added two new majority White districts on their new maps, and removed yet another Latino-majority district.
  • Health officials over the past 24 to 48 hours, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have been suggesting that early data on the coronavirus Omicron variant indicates that, while it appears to be much more transmissible than previous variants, it may be less lethal. Though that is the headline you may have seen from the media since the weekend, that doesn't actually tell the full story about what that could mean. We try to fill in at least some of the blanks for the moment before folks get too prematurely excited. In short, if you haven't received a booster yet, now is a great time to do so. And, if you haven't had your initial shots, 6 months ago would have been a great time to do so (but now will suffice.) AND, if you think that already having had COVID --- and, thus, now have antibodies that you believe will protect you --- now is a great time to think again about that. We explain in full on today's show.
  • Finally, we've been reporting --- somewhat anecdotally in recent weeks --- on the bizarre way that the corporate media have been misreporting on the largely robust, and at times record, growth in the economy under President Biden over the past year as the nation attempts to crawl out from under the pandemic. Millions of jobs have been created (more than during the entire Trump Presidency); unemployment has plummeted to 4.2% (falling a remarkable four tenths of a percent in November compared to October and a full two points since the beginning of the year, when experts said it would be 2025 before unemployment fell to 4.2% again); New weekly jobless claims the week before last were the lowest they have been since 1969; etc. Yet, oddly enough, Biden's approval ratings have been driven down in recent months, thanks, in no small part, to often wildly misleading media coverage that continues to lead with areas of perceived weakness in the economy. That, despite the fact that those perceived weaknesses are misleading and/or not weakness in the economy at all.

    Late last week, Washington Post's Dana Milbank wrote that he's noticed the same thing from his colleagues. He commissioned a study to find out if he was right and, as it turns out, he is. "After a honeymoon of slightly positive coverage in the first three months of the year, Biden’s press for the past four months has been as bad as --- and for a time worse than --- the coverage Trump received for the same four months of 2020."

    "Think about that," wrote Milbank. "In 2020, Trump presided over a worst-in-world pandemic response that caused hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths; held a superspreader event at the White House and got covid-19 himself; praised QAnon adherents; embraced violent white supremacists; waged a racist campaign against Black Lives Matter demonstrators; attempted to discredit mail-in voting; and refused to accept his defeat in a free and fair election, leading eventually to the violence of Jan. 6 and causing tens of millions to accept the 'big lie,' the worst of more than 30,000 he told in office....And yet Trump got press coverage as favorable as, or better than, Biden is getting today."

    Now, why would that be? We discuss and open up the phone lines today to listeners who call in with their own thoughts on why the so-called "liberal media" has been doing such a lousy, misleading job in covering Biden's Presidency to date...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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