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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, April 17, 2021
Taking the 'DUH' Out of Floriduh: 'BradCast' 4/16/21
Guest host Nicole Sandler with Rep. Ted Deutch and journalist Ryan Grim...
Corporations Pretend to
Stand Up for Democracy:
'BradCast' 4/15/21
Guest: Pulitzer Prize-winning biz journalist Michael Hiltzik; Also: New U.S. sanctions on Russia reveal previously unknown detail on alleged 2016 election interference...
'Green News Report' 4/15/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
US threat assessments finds climate change a clear, present danger; Japan to dump radio-active water in ocean; Biden undoing Trump damage; PLUS: France to ban short flights...
Previous GNRs: 4/13/21 - 4/8/21 - Archives...
Biden's Infrastructure Plan Begins End of Govt Socialism for Fossil Fuel Industry: 'BradCast' 4/14/21
Guest: David Roberts of Volts; Also: DHS knew Capitol was 'target'; Biden to end 'forever war'...
'Both Sides'? Really, Liz?: 'BradCast' 4/13
New data shows stunning rise in RW domestic terror; Also: US 'out' of Afghanistan by 9/11/21; J&J vaccine 'paused'; Cop, police chief resign in MN; Appalling video shows VA cops pepper-spraying black service member in car...
'Green News Report' 4/13/21
Western drought worsens before fire season, water cuts; CA's fire prevention plan; EV battery company settlement; PLUS: NOAA predicts bad 2021 hurricane season...
The SCOTUS-Approved, FCC Ownership Rule Catch-22: 'BradCast' 4/12/21
Guest: Sue Wilson of the Media Action Center; Also: More news from vaccination nation; More corporate pushback against vote suppression...
SCOTUS Approves FCC Rule to Allow Further Consolidation of Local Media Outlets
The FCC, under Trump, created a Catch-22 on new rule, requiring private research to counter hidden public data...
Sunday 'Avoid the Politicks' Toons
PDiddie's Springtime reminder to avoid 'blood-sucking insects' in his latest collection of the week's best toons...
GOP 'Legislative' Agenda Now Carried Out by Activist SCOTUS: 'BradCast' 4/9/21
Guest: Court expert Ian Millhiser; Also: Amazon union vote loses in AL; Biden's new SCOTUS reform Comm.; Hating on Cruz and Graham...
'Green News Report' 4/8/21
Biden on dumb GOP infrastructure attacks; Abandoned oil, gas wells loom; Treasury to help private sector decarbon-ize economy; PLUS: GM's all in on EV future...
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...


New analysis finds stunning rise in RW domestic terror; Also: US 'out' of Afghanistan by 9/11/21; J&J vaccine 'paused'; Cop, police chief resign in MN; Appalling video of cops pepper-spraying black service member...
By Brad Friedman on 4/13/2021 6:41pm PT  

Hopefully today's BradCast, if nothing else, serves as a friendly reminder that Liz Cheney --- whether or not she met the incredibly low Republican bar by voting to impeach Donald Trump after the January 6th MAGA Mob insurrection at the U.S. Capitol --- is still not your friend, much less some sort of hero. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of summary below.]

Among the many news items and important insights and context covered on today's program...

  • The Biden Administration will finally withdraw the last of our 2,500 U.S. troops still deployed to Afghanistan by September 11th of this year, 20 years after the 9/11 attacks which resulted in our seemingly endless war there and elsewhere. For some reason we remain dubious about that exit date...even if we are hopeful.
  • The FDA and CDC are recommending a "pause" on the use of Johnson & Johnson's COVID vaccine after finding it led to rare blood clots in six women out of more than 3.8 doses administered in the U.S. For the record, the coronavirus, as of today, has killed more than 562,000 Americans to date, which is more deaths over the past year than 188 September 11th attacks.
  • After two nights of protests and unrest in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota --- a suburb outside of Minneapolis, where white, former cop Dereck Chauvin is currently on trial for the murder of George Floyd --- the city's Police Chief and 26-year officer Kim Potter resigned Tuesday following her Sunday killing of Daunte Wright. Potter says she accidentally shot the 20-year old black man while attempting to taze him after he was pulled over for expired tags on his vehicle. The incident was capture by Potter's body cam video released on Monday, the day after the shooting.
  • As disturbing as the video of Wright's killing was, another confrontation captured via body cam between cops and a black Hispanic man --- this one, a uniformed Army lieutenant named Caron Nazario --- is arguably even more disturbing for reasons we discuss on today's show. The incident, which included the berating and point-blank pepper-spraying at gun-point of an incredibly compliant and polite unarmed Nazario, occurred last December. The video tape, however, was only released publicly on Monday as part of Nazario's lawsuit against the abusive Windsor, Virginia police officers Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker who pulled him over on a dark highway for a missing permanent license plate on his new car. (Temporary tags were in the window and clearly visible in the video tape.) Gutierrez has now resigned and Virginia's Attorney General has opened a civil rights investigation into the incident, one of undoubtedly thousands of similar ones not caught on viral video tape each year in America.
  • Wyoming's Republican Rep. Liz Cheney has been attacked by many in her party and lauded by some on the non-right for living up to the absolutely lowest expectations for a Republican these days after having voted in favor of the second impeachment of Trump in January, for his incitement of the U.S. Capitol attack. But, as we've noted on several occasions since then, nobody should mistake her for anything other than her diabolically rightwing father's daughter. That was made clear on Monday during an appearance with Georgetown’s Institute of Politics and Public Service when she appeared to condemn the radical extremism rampant in her own party while simultaneously "both sidesing" the matter with references to extremist in "both parties". Sorry, Liz. This isn't even close to a "both sides" issue. But, if there are still any question about that...
  • ...Disturbing new data released by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), reaching back 25 years and analyzed by the Washington Post on Monday, finds "Domestic terrorism incidents have soared to new highs in the United States, driven chiefly by white-supremacist, anti-Muslim and anti-government extremists on the far right." And the numbers of both incidents and fatalities in recent years aren't even close to those attributed to "far left" attacks. We comb through the Post's analysis of the troubling data, while noting its alarming similarity to the warnings included in a 2009 DHS report on far-right domestic extremism that was ultimately retracted by the Obama Administration after Republicans pretended to be outraged about it (after saying nothing about a similar report regarding left-wing extremism released just prior.) Coincidentally we notice that WaPo's original headline for their analysis on Monday was "Domestic terrorism data shows right-wing violence on the rise." That was apparently quickly changed online yesterday to the more GOP-friendly "The rise of domestic extremism in America." We're sure Liz Cheney is delighted about that.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, chocked full of troubling climate change news, as usual, but featuring at least one story that leaves us moderately more hopeful today...at least when it comes to the ability for warring battery makers to come together for the good of our not-a-moment-too-soon electric car future...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Sue Wilson of the Media Action Center; Also: More news from vaccination nation; More corporate pushback against vote suppression...
By Brad Friedman on 4/12/2021 6:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast, our lonely fight to save what is left of our public airwaves continues, as mainstream media outlets continue to benefit from --- and therefore do not bother to report on --- the march toward full corporate ownership of what were once our prized and protected airwaves. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But first up today, the breaking news on that nation's latest school shooting. Today it was in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Next, the vaccination of the nation continues apace, with about 36% of adult Americans now having received at least one shot. This week, many more states will open eligibility to all adults 16 years of age and older in advance of Joe Biden's national date for doing so in all 50 states next Monday (April 19). Here in Los Angeles, all adult residents will be eligible as of Tuesday. We offer a few tips for how to get an appointment quickly. (Specifically, Kaiser-Permanente appears to have tons of available appointments, for members and non-members alike, via their website at KP.org.)

While vaccinations are proceeding at an impressive pace, hitting another 24-hour record of 4.6 million shots on Saturday, the race to outpace the spread of variants continues. While much of the nation is plateauing in case numbers at high levels or even surging slightly upward, a number of states, particularly in the Northeast and upper Midwest are surging quite steeply. The most disturbing case at the moment, by far, is in Michigan, where its Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer has been begging the Biden Administration for a vaccine surge in response to a spike that is as bad there as it was last Fall. For reasons that aren't entirely clear, the Administration has offered additional vaccinators and test kits, but not additional vaccine as of now. The CDC Director said on Monday that what is needed in MI's case is not more vaccine, but lockdowns. However, one of the reasons the state is in such bad shape now is because Trump-incited rightwingers last year not only rebelled against Whitmer's mandatory lockdowns, but even hatched a plot to kidnap her after Trump tweeted to "Liberate Michigan!"

What happens in Michigan, unfortunately, won't stay in Michigan. Their surge will spread elsewhere unless someone figures out how to get it under control. Similarly, what happens in Georgia will absolutely not stay in Georgia, as Republican lawmakers across the country are continuing to push voter suppression measures akin to the suppressive law adopted by Republicans in the Peach State last month.

The corporate pushback against Georgia's anti-voting law and those in other states continues to grow. Over the weekend, 100 corporate executives held a Zoom meeting to discuss how they planned to respond. On Monday, the first major Hollywood production --- Will Smith's "Emancipation" film --- previously set to film in Georgia, announced they were pulling production from the state due to the new law. Other productions could follow suit, given that Georgia has become a bit of a filmmakers Mecca by offering generous tax breaks to Hollywood production teams.

In addition to the group of corporate execs planning their own actions against anti-democracy laws, a group of some 60 law firms is reportedly teaming up to take action as well. That said, it's pathetic that the citizenry has to rely on corporations to become angry enough that Republicans might pay attention to their concerns --- the same concerns that the GOP ignored when they came from the citizenry itself before Georgia adopted its new law. In today's America, the citizenry don't seem to matter. It's corporate dollars to (or withheld from) Republicans that appears to be our only chance of convincing desperate Republicans to block or rollback these onerous restrictions on access to the ballot box. We're happy to see companies jumping in, but its absurd that we need to rely on them to somehow save "democracy".

Speaking of the need to save democracy, we're then joined by media reform activist SUE WILSON of the Media Action Center. Late last year, she and former Republican FCC official Art Belendiuk joined us on the program to discuss actions they were taking to expose the fact that rightwing media behemoth Sinclair Broadcasting appeared to be blatantly violating FCC ownership rules by taking secret ownership of more than one television station in a number of major markets, using sham front companies to skirt federal scrutiny.

At the same time, as Wilson reports today at BradBlog.com, the FCC has been attempting to change its own media ownership rules to allow for more corporate consolidation by granting major broadcasters the right to own more than one TV station in any given market. The FCC's initial attempt to change the rule preventing companies from controlling all of the public airwaves in major markets was blocked by the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which found that the FCC violated the Administrative Procedures Act in not carrying out proper studies to determine the effects of the rule change on broadcast outlets owned by women and minorities. SCOTUS heard the FCC's appeal in the case on January 19th (Trump's last full day in office). The Court handed down its decision in FCC v. Prometheus Radio Project on April 1, overturning the lower court to allow the FCC's new, relaxed ownership rule, even as Justice Kavanaugh, in his opinion for the unanimous Court, conceded that the record evidence relied on by the FCC was "sparse". But, he held on behalf of the Court, the rules in question, now changed by the FCC, "were no longer necessary to serve the agency's public interest goals."

As Wilson found, however, the reason the record was so sparse was because the FCC had carried out no studies of its own to determine the adverse effect of consolidation on minority owned business before formalizing their new rules. They relied instead on private organizations to present evidence as to why the consolidation would harm minority broadcasters. But private organizations did not have access to much of the FCC's public information, because the federal agency hasn't collected the information from stations around the country.

It all amounts to what Wilson describes as a Catch-22 that ill-serves the public, and further undermines our public airwaves, handing off even more control to corporate interests, rather than we, the people. "This is the worst decision that nobody knows about," Wilson tells me. And, of course, they don't know about it, because mainstream corporate broadcasters benefits from the rule change, so they haven't bothered to mention much about it to any of their listeners or viewers.

Wilson argues that Congress needs to take action, and asks listeners to contact their members of Congress. "We're finding that Republicans and Democrats are very interested in this [because] this is bad for our whole country."

Finally, we open up the phones for a few quick minutes today, to hear from listeners on both the FCC's latest boondoggle and with more thoughts on vaccination nation...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: State GOPers adopt Fossil Fuel Industry bills to nix renewables, block small government; Rep. Hastings RIP; Vaccines to all on April 19...
By Brad Friedman on 4/6/2021 6:27pm PT  

We have several fairly stunning plot twists to try and make sense of on today's BradCast, as Democrats hit a potential legislative jackpot in the U.S. Senate and Republicans pretend to turn against big business while actually turning against small government. [Audio link to the full show follows the summary below.]

Among the many stories covered on today's twisted up program...

  • President Biden moves up the date for vaccine eligibility to all Americans by two weeks, announcing that everyone in the U.S., 16 and older, will be eligible to sign up for COVID-19 shots by April 19th. That, as the race against new, deadlier variants --- and the premature easing of safety restrictions --- continues.
  • Florida's civil rights champion and 15-term Democratic Congressman Alcee Hastings passes away at age 84 after a battle with pancreatic cancer, further narrowing, for now, the Democrats' already-narrow majority in the U.S. House. That, as...
  • Huge new legislative possibilities were opened for Democrats by the Senate Parliamentarian on Monday night. As we briefly explained last week (and in more detail on today's show), an obscure provision in the Budget Act of 1974 will allow Dems to "revise" their Budget Reconciliation bills, allowing them to pass new measures under arcane Senate rules that permit certain budget-related measures to be adopted by a simple majority vote. Democrats already knew they had two opportunities to do that this year --- and avoid the GOP filibuster against all of their proposals --- with budgets for fiscal year 2021 (since Republicans failed to pass one last year when they had control of the upper chamber) and for fiscal year 2022. Biden's COVID relief and stimulus bill, the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, was adopted under the FY 2021 budget reconciliation provision and his $2.25 trillion infrastructure, jobs and climate proposal, the American Jobs Plan, was previously targeted for passage under FY 2022's budget reconciliation. But, after inquiry by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer as to whether a little-known or used provision of the Budget Act would allow more such bills to be adopted as "revisions" to both of those budget reconciliation packages, the Senate Parliamentarian has reportedly given her okay. That means that the American Jobs Plan can be adopted as a "revision" to the 2021 budget, and a previously unimagined set of possibilities has suddenly emerged for the 2022 plan or even additional revisions to 2021. There are some caveats --- as we discuss --- but, as wonky as all of it sounds, it is wildly good news for Democrats.
  • That good news for Dems is, of course, more bad news for a Republican Party drifting farther and farther away from both reality and their own supposedly long-held governing values --- at least the ones they pretended to have. Each passing day makes it clear that the GOP is adrift without any actual legislative agenda or principles at all. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has long championed unlimited (and even undisclosed) corporate money in elections and politics, issued a statement on Monday pretending to be outraged by dozens of corporations speaking out democracy and against the voter suppression bill adopted by Republicans in Georgia last week.
  • But while Repubs in D.C. are trying on their new, "populist", "anti-corporate" costumes for a post-Trump era, GOPers in state legislatures across the country are still snuggling up with huge corporate interests in the fossil fuel industry to adopt legislation at the state level making it illegal for local towns and cities to ban the use of fossil fuels. Georgia is just the latest of dozens of states where this is happening right now. Among the states where efforts exactly like this are underway or already in place: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Utah

    And, if you're keeping score at home, that means the adrift Republican Party now claims to oppose corporate free expression in politics (they don't really) and are against local government decision making (they always have been, at least when small, local governments disagree with the GOP's corporate paymasters). Told you everything was twisted today! Or, as Desi Doyen smartly observes at one point: "It's not logical. It's political."

  • Finally, Desi's got our latest Green News Report, as failing infrastructure near Tampa, Florida is posing a huge, toxic crisis to local residents and wildlife; the Biden Administration pushes back against Republicans who pretend they don't know what infrastructure is; troubling new confirmation of climate change in Japan; and some very good news for a town with very bad air in Massachusetts...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Wherein Brad and Desi get their first dose; COVID cases surge again, particularly among the young; The U.S. tops its record for vaccine distribution in a race with deadly new variants; And listeners ring in with their own experiences and concerns on all of the above...
By Brad Friedman on 4/5/2021 5:31pm PT  

Both Desi and I, as seen in the photo, got our first COVID vaccine shots over the weekend! It was on the same day that a record 4 million Americans also received shots. And it was, in various ways, both revelatory and relieving as discussed on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows summary below.]

There are additional signs today that there is, indeed, light at the end of the COVID tunnel (and that the light is not an oncoming train, as Desiree often warns!), but there are also serious concerns as confirmed infection rates are back on the rise in more than 30 states, including some where it's absolutely spiking in recent weeks.

Overall, cases rose more than 5% in the past week in the U.S., even as testing declined by 13%. We have significantly better news in that the new daily death rate has fallen by some 20% over the past week, but COVID-related hospitalizations are once again on the rise. That's usually followed by an increase in deaths.

Moreover, there have been some very disturbing spikes in cases of younger people becoming hospitalized in recent weeks in several states, as we are now in a race to distribute vaccine quickly enough to avoid allowing for deadlier and more transmissible variants to develop.

As it has been a while, and as I'm in a reasonable good mood after Moderna #1 over the weekend, today seemed a good day to open up the phones to listeners to hear about how their own experiences getting vaccinated --- or trying to --- has been going and how it has gone for them. (I experienced mild fatigue for a day or so. Desi felt pretty much nothing.) And, for those listeners who do not plan to get a vaccine for some reason, we're open to hearing why would be.

Lots of different calls today made for another lively BradCast! Please give it a listen!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Caren Short, Voting Rights Attny, Southern Poverty Law Center...
By Brad Friedman on 3/29/2021 6:48pm PT  

Attempted voter suppression must come at a very serious cost to the suppressors. Hopefully, we are beginning to see at least some of that beginning to build in Georgia on today's BradCast --- even as voting rights advocates are forced to take legal action to block this latest attack on democracy by the state's Republican Party. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Hopefully, the blowback is just beginning. Last Wednesday, we were joined on the show by Marilyn Marks of the Coalition for Good Governance, as she warned about the massive voter suppression bill that Republicans in the GA state legislature were trying to jam through before this week's final day of the legislative session. But, in less than 24 hours, by Thursday, voting rights advocates were stunned --- and, arguably, caught off guard --- when the GOP-dominated state House and Senate both adopted a newly-introduced, nearly 100-page bill to pare back voting rights in a single day, before the measure, known as SB 202, was then signed just an hour or so later by long-time champion GOP vote suppressor and former Sec. of State, Governor Brian Kemp. For good measure, he did so under a painting of a slave plantation as an elected African-American member of the state House of Representatives was arrested for trying to witness the signing behind closed doors.

The measure, among other things, will increase ID requirements for absentee voting; reduce early in-person voting in some places; restrict the use of drop-boxes for mail-in ballots; ban the distribution of food and beverages to voters waiting in Georgia's famously long (in some places) voting lines; threaten third-party advocacy groups with criminal prosecution if they dare send an absentee ballot request form to someone already signed up to vote by mail; and, perhaps most perniciously, according to Marks sounding the alarm last week, allow the state's majority-GOP legislature to essentially take over control of the State Board of Elections. In turn, the State Board can then replace entire County Boards of Elections with a single partisan person, pretty much for any reason they like, threatening to both undermine or even overturn election results at the county level in...ya know...certain counties --- just as Donald Trump tried to do after losing the 2020 election in The Peach State last year.

All of that, despite zero evidence of fraud or mistally in last year's Presidential election in Georgia, where three statewide counts --- twice by machines, once by hand --- all confirmed the results, which the state confirmed to be free of fraud.

Since passage and signing of SB 202 last week, not one, but two lawsuits have been filed to try and block the law, charging that it violates both the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act (VRA), as the multiple civil and voting rights group plaintiffs allege the new voting restrictions are specifically designed to target minority voters. The President of the United States has subsequently described the law as "un-American", an "atrocity" and "Jim Crow in the 21st Century". Despite all of that, it ultimately could be the Major League Baseball Player's Association which ends up making a real difference in regards this new anti-democracy scheme. The players are reportedly deciding whether to demand this year's MLB All-Star Game, currently set for Atlanta in July, be moved to a different state if the law is not struck down.

At the same time, federal laws --- such as the For the People Act (H.R.1) or John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R.4) --- which would help protect against a number of the worst GOP voter suppression tactics now adopted by the Peach State and moving ahead in others where Republicans are considering similar measures, will not pass unless the undemocratic Jim Crow-era U.S. Senate Filibuster is, in some fashion, killed or reformed.

We're joined today by CAREN SHORT, Senior Voting Rights Attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center to discuss all of this. While her group has not yet joined either of the two federal lawsuits filed against Georgia's law, she suggests they are considering as much. In the meantime, she explains what she finds so devious about GA's racist new law, and whether or not the current lawsuits --- or even the Dept. of Justice --- may be able to reverse the worst of SB 202's attack on voters and voting in the state.

Among the issues we discuss with Short: Her views on the worst aspects of SB 202; Whether its possible to demonstrate a disproportionate affect on minority voters before an election is run with this new law in place; How the portion of the Voting Rights Act struck down by SCOTUS in 2013 would likely have prevented this entire bill from even being introduced in the first place; Whether the DoJ has grounds for filing suit themselves under still-standing portions of the VRA to protect Georgia voters; And how courts will determine whether FEARS of voter fraud (in the absence of same) is enough to justify taking rights already granted to voters away from them, among much more!

"You're right, there's a lot to be troubled about," she tells me at the top of our discussion. "This bill is troubling. It would really disenfranchise a lot of people in Georgia. Although it would apply equally to everyone, it is specifically targeted to harm black voters, brown voters, young people, voters with disabilities --- and it will do so."

"You mentioned that democracy is everyone's job. I could not agree more with that," Short says, when I ask what needs to be done to see the filibuster reformed in the U.S. Senate so that H.R.1 and H.R.4 can passed and become law. "These are our representatives. These are our policy makers. They represent what we want. ... We need democracy reform. We need transparency. We need fairness. We need protections for folks in the Deep South who are facing bills like the one in Georgia. This cannot stand. It cannot happen in my name as an American. We need to get involved. This is our moment. Call your friends who live in those states who are going to be needed for filibuster reform, if necessary. Some Democratic folks have said, 'failure is not an option.' And it's absolutely true."

Finally, with both good and worrying news about COVID (good, in that President Biden has announced vaccine distribution is moving ahead even quicker than previously hoped; worrying, in that the new CDC Director is "scared" with a sense of "impending doom" about the recent 16% rise in infections as mask mandates have been lifted in some states), we open up the phones for a quick call or two on all of this at the end of another important and lively hour...

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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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Biden's first presser and filibuster reform; Good economic numbers, maddening COVID numbers; Death penalty banned in VA; NY finally goes to pot; GA undermines democracy; Senate GOP pretends vote suppression doesn't exist; Also: Oil and plastic...
By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2021 7:05pm PT  

Lots of news, breaking and otherwise, on today's BradCast. Much of it encouraging, some of it much less so. Join us, won't you? [Audio link to full show follows summary below.]

We begin today with Joe Biden's first press conference as President, as he answered a bunch of questions, often in detail, on a bunch of topics. We focus specifically on the questions and his answers on both reforming the filibuster and the almost certain need to do so in order to see passage of the Democrats' massive, much-needed electoral reform bill, the "For the People Act" in the U.S. Senate. That measure, as Biden seems to understand quite clearly, will be needed to counter the avalanche of voter suppression laws being moved, right now, through state legislatures by Republicans.

We share a number of his remarks in response to those efforts and read the tea leaves on what seems to be his commitment to first restoring the "Talking Filibuster" in the Senate and then, if necessary, perhaps even doing away with it all together for passage of democracy and civil rights-related measures.

As to the anti-democracy schemes being pushed by Republicans around the country, Biden says: "How un-American this whole initiative is. It's sick. It's sick," referring to the measure which has now been passed and signed in Georgia that would, among many other things, outlaw even given water to voters standing on line. He claims that "Republican voters I know find this despicable" and that "this makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle." As to being pressed on his plans to counter GOP obstructionism in the Senate, he teases: "Successful electoral politics is the Art of the Possible."

Amongst the rest of the flurry of news covered on today's show...

  • Donald Trump's figure at a wax museum in San Antonio has been removed for now, after it was repeatedly punched in the face --- which presents me with a serious moral dilemma.
  • For the first time since the pandemic began a year ago, last week's jobless claims fell to a number that is finally below the all-time, pre-pandemic weekly record. That is a good --- if still precarious --- sign.
  • A new report finds that 400,000 American lives could have been saved had the U.S. adopted widespread masking, social distancing and testing protocols by late May last year. 400,000 lives! Kinda makes ya want to punch a wax statue of Donald Trump in the face.
  • In some long-overdue good progressive news, the Governor of Virginia --- in a state which has killed more people with the death penalty than any other state --- signed a bill to ban the barbaric, racist practice once and for all. The state becomes the first in the South to do so.
  • In some long-overdue good progressive news in the North, New York State lawmakers finalized a deal with the scandal-plagued Gov. Cuomo to legalize recreational marijuana in the state, in a plan "crafted with an intense focus on making amends in communities impacted by the decades-long war on drugs." There's some more, very good racial justice news today.
  • Breaking late during today's show, the Georgia legislature adopted a massive voter suppression bill that we discussed in detail on yesterday's BradCast with Marilyn Marks of the Coalition for Good Governance, when she warned about a little discussed provision that will allow a partisan State Board of Elections to replace any County's Board of Elections with one partisan person for virtually any reason they wish. Had this measure been in place in 2020, she explained, the legislature could have used it to overturn the results of the Presidential election in Atlanta. Georgia's champion vote suppressing Secretary of State turned Governor Brian Kemp signed the measure moments later, just after we signed off air tonight. (See Biden's comments above about how "sick" and "despicable" all of this is.)
  • At the same time, Republicans in the U.S. Senate. on Wednesday are pretending there is no voter suppression being adopted by states at all around the country. One of them --- Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) --- speaking up in favor of banning Sunday "souls to the polls" voting, which is popular with Black church-goers, believes voting on Sunday shouldn't be allowed anyway...because God says so.
  • And, before we get to Desi Doyen and the GNR, a bit more breaking news out of California, where those as young as 50 will be eligible for COVID vaccines as of April 1, and those older than 16 will be able to sign up beginning on April 15.
  • Finally, Desi joins us for our latest Green News Report, for a delightfully toxic blend of the fossil fuel industry's oil and plastic...that is killing us all.

As suggested, some encouraging news on today's show, and some that is less so. We don't make it. We just deliver it. Enjoy!...

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'It reeks of politics,' says Don Siegelman, citing Repub campaign 'laced with racism,' aimed at sabotaging 'a rising star in the Democratic Party'
Also: Siegelman on Biden and hopes for criminal justice reform; The Amazon unionization vote near Birmingham; And whether he might run for public office again in the future...
By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2021 6:41pm PT  

On today's BradCast: an exclusive interview with someone who knows a thing or two about GOP hit jobs on Democratic Governors. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

Republicans are having trouble of late winning elections by simply having the most popular positions. Thus, the attempts to lie about their positions, to suppress the vote and, in California, to try and recall another Democratic Governor, in a state where Republicans are wildly unpopular.

It now appears that the rightwing effort to place a recall of first-term Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom on the ballot will be successful. The Republican scheme to remove Newsom has reportedly gained more than enough signatures to place the measure on the ballot (2.1 million gathered, 1.5 million needed), though those signatures now need to be certified by each of the state's 59 counties and those who signed (64% are Republicans, 25% have No Party Preference, and just 6% are registered Democrats), will also be able to remove their names by the time a date is set for the election.

When and if it happens later this year, it would place two questions on the ballot: 1) Should Newsom be recalled from office? And 2) If so, who should replace him? That second referendum also raises an interesting question: Should Democrats bother to place a plausible Dem on the ballot, in the event that Newsom is officially recalled by the first question, even as registered Democrats now outnumber registered Republicans in the Golden State by a nearly 2 to 1 margin? It was not all that long ago when Democratic Gov. Gray Davis was set up by Republicans (and a phony, Enron-generated energy "scandal") for a recall, in which he was ultimately replaced by Republicans with Hollywood superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger.

We're joined today by Alabama's former Democratic GOV. DON SIEGELMAN who has, for years, explained how his election to a second term was stolen from him via a computerized optical-scan tabulator system in the middle of the night, and how he was subsequently targeted by Karl Rove and GOP operatives including Siegelman's main rival, Gov. Bob Riley, in a scheme which would send him to jail on a 7-year federal sentence. The "bribery" charge he was convicted of, as more than 100 former Republican and Democratic state Attorneys General explained in a letter to federal officials, should not have been considered bribery in the first place, did not net Siegelman one thin dime, and had never been a crime at all until the popular Alabama Governor was charged with it.

Siegelman --- who has now finished serving his time and has written a book about it called STEALING OUR DEMOCRACY: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Nation --- now sees a similar scheme in the effort to take down California's first term progressive Democratic Governor Newsom.

"This is nothing more than a Republican attempt to create turmoil, to rev up its troops, to try --- to try --- to replace Gavin Newsom, who is a rising star in the Democratic Party," Siegelman tells me. "This is exactly what they did to Gray Davis."

Responding to the news we shared from the San Francisco Chronicle over the weekend, detailing the repeated racist slurs from the official Recall Campaign --- on its website, by its advisors, organizers and funders --- referring to the "China virus", "Wuhan flu", etc., amid a wave of hate crimes against the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community since the COVID epidemic began, Siegelman argues the effort is "laced with racism."

"Coming from Alabama, I'm steeped in the politics of racism, starting with [four-term Alabama Governor] George Wallace," Siegelman explains. "I lived through that era where he was raising the Confederate battle flag at the state capitol and a few months later, four little girls at a Birmingham Church were blown to death with a dynamite bomb by the Ku Klux Klan because they felt emboldened by the racist comments of a Southern governor.  That's the danger of these people, like those who are organizing the recall of Gov. Newsom. It has serious consequences."

"On a political front," he adds, the recall effort "has to be taken seriously. Democrats have to understand that these people will do anything to try to take over our democracy, and it doesn't matter what they have to do to do it."

"Throughout the United States, they're trying to steal our democracy through changing election laws," the Governor notes, citing the more than 250 GOP measures now moving through more than 40 states to suppress the vote after the party lost the White House and U.S. Senate in last year's election. "HR1 [a massive Democratic election reform measure adopted by the U.S. House, but stalled by the filibuster in the U.S. Senate] needs to pass, in some form or other, and Joe Biden has simply got to find the votes to get it passed. If he has to run over the Republicans to get it done, so be it."

We also discuss a number of other points today during the interview with the former Alabama Governor, who was not only the last Democratic Governor to serve the state since leaving office in 2003, but also the only person to ever be elected to every major statewide office (Attorney General, Sec. of State, Lt. Governor and Governor). That, before any Presidential aspirations the then very popular Governor might have had were ultimately thwarted by the GOP hit job. (Sound familiar?)

Among the other points we discuss today: The dangers still facing federal prisoners during the COVID pandemic (which he joined us to discuss almost a year ago at the beginning of the pandemic), and his hopes that President Biden will help improve conditions in federal facilities and otherwise institute long-overdue criminal justice reform; The ongoing election at an Amazon Fulfillment Center in Bessemer, Alabama (near Birmingham) that, if successful, would result in the first unionized Amazon warehouse in the nation; And whether Siegelman, now that he has finally completed his full sentence and served his time as a "political prisoner", has any interest in returning to elected public life. (There is, after all, a U.S. Senate seat opening up in Alabama next year, after Democrat turned Republican U.S. Senator Richard Shelby recently announced plans to retire at the end of his current term. ("Never say never," teases the former Guv...after I rudely force it out of him!)

Finally, we close with a few calls from listeners in response to all of the above --- or try to, anyway...as we find ourselves forced to work to overcome a few phone hook-up snafus here at the station today...

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Guest: Election integrity advocate, journalist Jennifer Cohn on newly discovered ES&S, EAC failures; Also: Biden endorses filibuster reform...
By Brad Friedman on 3/17/2021 7:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast: While Team Trump spent months pretending the Dominion Voting Systems company stole votes from Trump and flipped them to Biden with their computerized voting and tabulation systems, there is exactly zero independently verifiable evidence to support that baseless conclusion. At the same time, however, recently unearthed documents from the state of Texas and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), reveal a gaping security hole in new systems made by the largest voting system company in the nation, Election Systems and Software, Inc. (better known as ES&S), which has systems deployed in dozens of states. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But, first up today, some annoying (if long overdue) news that Donald Trump finally made it clear(ish), during a Tuesday interview on Fox "News", that he recommends his own supporters should, indeed, get vaccinated against COVID. He cites the "great" and "safe" vaccines that are now available, describing them as "something that works" to prevent the deadly disease. We hope his supporters listen, since they are currently the most disinclined to want to get vaccinated.

Next, some long overdue encouraging news on the Senate legislative filibuster. In a Tuesday interview with ABC News, President Biden --- a longtime Senate institutionalist previously opposed to filibuster reform --- said he now favors it being overhauled. He says he supports a modification to bring back the "talking filibuster", where obstructionists are forced to hold the floor and keep speaking until they can't anymore. That would place the onus on the minority hoping to block legislation, rather than forcing Democrats, in this case, to try and find 60 votes to pass anything at all. Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had no problem unilaterally killing the filibuster entirely to steal and pack Trump nominees onto the U.S. Supreme Court, now vows to grind the Senate to a halt if Dems dare change the legislative filibuster. But, of course, McConnell has already done that with his unprecedented use of the legislative filibuster to block everything! We discuss.

Then, on to our main story today. Shortly after the November election last year, Donald Trump and his gaggle of dopey friends and clueless, corrupt attorneys hatched an evidence-free conspiracy theory that Canadian-based Dominion Voting Systems had participated in an elaborate plot to secretly flip votes and steal the election for Biden. (The theory was based in part on my accurate, deep-dive exclusive investigative reporting from 2010, regarding some voting system vendors --- though not Dominion --- who then had ties to Venezuela and its then living President, Hugo Chavez. Team Trump bastardized that reporting to pretend it had something to do with their dumb theory that Dominion stole the 2020 election from Trump.) Dominion has since sued Team Trumpers Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell for defamation, slapping them with suits for $1.3 billion each. Last week, news out of Stark County, Ohio and out of Louisiana proved that Dominion is, in fact, being financially harmed by the fraudulent "fraud" plot used to try and discredit them.

But the nation's largest voting machine company, ES&S --- with a years-long, thuggish reputation according to elections insiders, along with a long history of failed elections on their crappy, computerized voting and tabulation systems --- largely escaped scrutiny by Republicans after last November's election. But they shouldn't have, given the disturbing, well-supported, deep-dive exclusive that election integrity advocate and Twitter phenom JENNIFER COHN broke last week at Who, What, Why. She joins us today to explain both her well-sourced report and its far-reaching ramifications.

As it turns out, she reports, there is a flaw in ES&S' installation process that prevents "hash-verification" when software is installed or patched onto their ExpressVote touchscreen voting systems. What that means, in layman's terms, is that its impossible to know if the software installed onto the systems actually matches the certified version of the software that was tested by federal testing authorities under the purview of the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission.

This gaping hole --- discovered by the state of Texas in advance of last November's election --- means that untested, modified software, perhaps containing malware, could potentially have been installed onto ES&S' systems in more than a dozen states last year. Even more maddening is that ES&S was well aware of this flaw, but told elections officials (if they happened to notice the failed hash test) that it was nothing to worry about, nothing to see here, everything is fine --- just trust us.

"The strong implication from the documents which were produced is that [ES&S was] telling them that a mismatch should just be treated as a match," Cohn tells me. "That blanket instruction really concerned the Texas examiners when they found out this was happening."

More maddening still, as Cohn reports, is that ES&S forces jurisdictions to allow their own employees or contractors to do these installations, rather than allowing jurisdictions to do so themselves, which might allow local or state officials to do their own hash-verification (or "acceptance testing", as it is known by some in the industry). Some jurisdictions that refuse to allow ES&S to do the installation will have their warrantees void by the company. As one former voting system employee tweeted in response to all of this, it is "like buying a new home and before the closing the seller says, 'You don't need a final walk-through. Just trust me."

"Normally, the customer is supposed to do it. The whole point of it is to make sure that the vendor is being honest and they're not giving malicious vote-flipping software. So to have the vendor do the hash testing themselves defeats the whole point," Cohn explains. "One of the examiners called it 'the fox guarding the henhouse', and said it was ES&S self-certifying their systems. Even the attorneys for the Texas Secretary of state were appalled."

Cohn's reporting at Who, What, Why is based on a passel of documents obtained via public records requests that reveal, for example, a troubled Texas election examiner complaining via email to their Secretary of State's attorney that this security flaw is "a gift wrapped opportunity to an insider threat," before going on to add: "It’s similar to a bank robber knowing that the camera covering teller #3 is broken."

In addition to Texas, ES&S systems used last year in Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Washington, DC, Florida, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Washington state, Wisconsin and Wyoming may all have been similarly vulnerable to running modified, vulnerable and uncertified software during the election, as Cohn details in her report, explaining today that it could be as many as 35 states.

And, as if all of that is not yet maddening enough, she also reports on the disturbing reaction from the EAC to this gaping security hole. The federal agency which is supposed to oversee voting system certification, apparently knew about this issue prior to the election, but failed to inform the public and quietly helped patch it all over for ES&S before, essentially, lying about it all once Cohn started asking questions in February. The EAC, as we have reported at The BRAD BLOG for years, has a long and troubling history of protecting private voting system vendors rather than the voters they are supposed to be watching out for.

When the EAC learned about it, Cohn says, they were "in kind of a panic, I think, because if it had leaked out, they couldn't honestly say they knew what had been installed in those states was what it was supposed to be."

So, is any of this related to why Team Trump focused their phony, evidence-free complaints almost exclusively on Dominion, while ignoring well-documented problems with ES&S almost entirely? We discuss that and much more with Cohn on today's --- yes --- maddening BradCast, where she also notes that, despite Texas officials being as troubled as they were by all of this, "I don't think that anybody ever said, 'Why don't we use pens? They don't require hash testing.'"...

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Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton on the new President's unexpected progressivism, 'the death knell of Republican ideology,' and 'a very consequential battle over the future of American politics'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/12/2021 6:34pm PT  

On Thursday night, on the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring the coronavirus to be a pandemic, on Joe Biden's 50th day in office, on the day he signed what we have argued on The BradCast may go down as the most progressive, equitable relief, stimulus and investment package perhaps in U.S. history, the new President delivered his first prime time address to the American people. [Audio link to full show follows summary.]

In addition to spending a (surprisingly) few minutes touting the many benefits to all Americans in his $1.9 trillion "American Rescue Plan" (ARP), Biden offered a cautiously optimistic vow that there will be enough vaccine for all Americans to sign up for a shot by May 1. Moreover, he continued, by July 4th the nation which has seen nearly 550,000 deaths over the past year, may even be able to hold small family and neighborhood gatherings to celebrate Independence Day.

"After this long hard year," said Biden, following his trademark empathy for all this nation has gone through over the past year, before offering caveats about the need to continue mask wearing for now and get vaccine shots as soon as possible, "that will make this Independence Day something truly special, where we not only mark our independence as a nation but we begin to mark our independence from this virus."

I argued on yesterday's program that Biden's ARP --- passed by Democrats in Congress with the help of ZERO Republicans --- may eventually come to be seen in history as the long-overdue end to the four-decade old Reagan Era. Today, I share some responses to my argument, including from folks who both agree and disagree.

Then we're joined to discuss all of the above by the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo. It's our first conversation with her in years that isn't dominated by...that previous guy who lived in the White House. In fact, today's conversation is almost entirely about Biden and the Democrats (and, for good measure, some of the folks in rightwing media who appear to have no clue how to respond to all of this.) Both Parton and I --- neither of whom supported Biden during the primary or saw him as the best candidate for the moment to take on...that other guy --- find ourselves in the uncomfortable position, at least for now, of being impressed by the achievements, to date, of both Biden and the Democrats.

And while I was citing Reagan in my argument this week, Digby actually went so far in her coverage today at Salon to raise the specter of Franklin Roosevelt, arguing that Biden "could end up being the most transformative president since FDR."

So, what the hell is actually going on here?! Tune in and find out! "We really live in interesting times," quips Parton. "Maybe too interesting, to be honest."

"I knew he'd be good for healing the country, which is highly important," she tells me. "You can't possibly denigrate the idea that we needed somebody who could speak to the horrifying loss and pain that the country has gone through. We knew he'd be good at that. But this other side --- this putting in a policy agenda that would take us into this more progressive direction? I didn't expect it. I'm happily surprised by it and hopeful he's going to go forward."

Finally, after that very lively discussion, we close today with a pretty hilarious (and on point, given today's conversation) segment from The Daily Show's "Remotely Educational" special this week, called "How Business Works". Enjoy!...

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Working class, poor waited decades for Dems' progressive, equitable, paradigm-shifting $1.9T COVID rescue, relief and stimulus package
Also: Rememberinig 1 year since the world locked down, 10 years since Japan's triple disaster; And Trump is in big trouble in GA...
By Brad Friedman on 3/11/2021 6:34pm PT  

If nothing else, the thing to remember from today's BradCast is that not one single Republican in either the House or Senate voted for Joe Biden and the Democrats' remarkably robust, progressive and equitably written American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion COVID rescue and relief package that history may someday regard as the long-overdue end of the four-decade old Reagan Era.

The President signed the sweeping bill on Thursday, which our friend David Dayen at The American Prospect described today as "maybe the largest pure economic uplift bill in U.S. history." GOPers may come to rue the day they didn't vote for it. Especially in 2022 when some of the key provisions --- like lowered health care premiums and monthly checks amounting to up to $3,600 per child, per year --- will expire unless those provisions are made permanent.

We discuss today a number of the less reported pieces built into the ARP, most of which --- unlike previous stimulus and rescue plans over the past several decades --- are crafted to benefit the poor and working class, and actually help lift many of them out of poverty. That is, by contrast, with the Trump/Republican 2017 tax cuts which also cost about $2 trillion, but overwhelmingly benefited corporations and the already wealthy.

All Republicans in both house of Congress voted against a nearly $2 trillion measure meant to largely help the middle class and the poor. Yet all Republicans in both houses of Congress voted in favor of the nearly $2 trillion measure to help the rich and corporations, which were already enjoying record profits at the time. Got it? Please keep that in mind --- and share it with your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers, in case they are lied to about all of this --- when 2022 rolls around.

This bill marks a fundamental progressive change in the way our federal government has been doing business for the past four decades since the so-called Reagan Revolution. And it comes not a moment too soon, as we discuss today.

Today also marks the one year anniversary since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus to be an official pandemic, when I stated on the program (to the surprise of, at least, Desi Doyen) that America was "shutting down". We share a clip of that somewhat breathtaking historical moment today.

More than 2.5 million have since died around the world, but the U.S., under Donald Trump's horrifically failed leadership, saw more deaths than any other country, with more than half a million lost here and still counting. That, even as we represent only about 5 percent of the world's population.

It is also the 10th anniversary of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster that struck Japan in 2011. We remember that still-ongoing disaster as well today, and the nearly 16,000 lives that were lost that fateful day.

In somewhat brighter news...As Republican state lawmakers around the country are moving hundreds of bills in more than 40 states to try and disenfranchise voters in a way not seen since the end of Reconstruction, according to a new analysis by Washington Post, it may be Donald Trump's attempted election fraud that could be the biggest news in coming weeks. It appears he may be in even more trouble than it previously appeared in the state of in Georgia!

A new recording of his phone call to the top Georgia state election investigator, made during a post-election audit in Cobb County prior to Christmas last year, was released Wednesday night by the Wall Street Journal. We share the full, gob-smacking conversation, in which our then President is heard buttering up the investigator and telling her, among other things, that "when the right answer comes out, you'll be praised."

The newly released 6-minute recording with the Georgia Secretary of State's chief investigator Frances Watson, can't really be heard in any other way than Trump hoping to encourage her into finding "fraud" where none existed. The recording is now undoubtedly part of the growing body of evidence being examined by Fulton County, Georgia's District Attorney, Fani Willis. The Democratic prosecutor is investigating "the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local governmental bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election's administration" after the 2020 Presidential election in the Peach State.

Willis has reportedly hired a racketeering and conspiracy expert for her grand jury probe, which could ultimately rope in Trump, his former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, his attorney Rudy Giuliani and even Sen. Lindsey Graham, who are all known to have tried to encourage state officials to change the results of Georgia's 2020 Presidential election after Trump lost. That alone is a state felony punishable by a year in jail. With added charges for racketeering and conspiracy, those convicted under those state felony statutes could face 20 years in jail!

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more on the 10-year anniversary of the still-ongoing disaster at the Fukushima Daichii nuclear plant and several much brighter and more hopeful pieces of news...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 3/11/2021 11:12am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: U.S. Senate confirms historic nomination of Michael Regan to head EPA; Biden's COVID relief bill is also sort of a climate bill; First major U.S. offshore wind farm clears key hurdle; PLUS: Ten years since triple disasters devastated Japan... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

GNR's now celebrating 12 YEARS of independent green news, politics, analysis, snarky comment and connecting climate change dots over your public airwaves!
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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Geothermal Could be a Sleeper; European Parliament backs carbon border tax; DOE will spend billions on electric vehicle R&D in jobs fight with China; One bright side of 2020: A surge in battery storage; U.S. lawmakers propose giving USPS $6 billion for electric delivery vehicles... PLUS: Direct Air Capture of CO2 Is Suddenly a Carbon Offset Option... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guest: Labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein of UC-Santa Barbara; Also: Biden's hugely progressive $1.9T 'American Rescue Plan' receives final Congressional approval; And Randy Rainbow needs a vaccine...
By Brad Friedman on 3/10/2021 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Joe Biden has been winning quite a bit lately. Today was no exception. So, can he turn that winning streak into a win for labor unions and keep his campaign promise to be "the most pro-union President you've ever seen"?  As of now, he's on track for that as well, according to historians and labor leaders --- even if that's admittedly not a very high bar. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

On Wednesday, Biden saw three more of his cabinet picks nominated on a bipartisan basis in the U.S. Senate.  Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio will become the first African American woman to lead the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development in 40 years, after vowing to address systemic racial inequities at the federal agency. Michael Regan was confirmed as the first black man to head up the Environmental Protection Agency. And Merrick Garland received his long awaited confirmation as our new Attorney General, as the widely-respected, veteran federal judge takes on the tall task of fulfilling Biden's promise to restore independence to the Dept. of Justice.

None of those, however, were Biden's biggest wins of the day, as the U.S. House gave final approval for his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. The massive COVID relief and stimulus package now heads to the White House for his signature on what some describe as one of the most progressive bills to ever come out of Congress. $1,400 checks to individuals and a $300/week extension of unemployment benefits is just a small part of the bill, which also includes annual payments of up to $3,600 per child, in a provision which policy experts say will cut child poverty in half and adult poverty by a quarter. It will reduce the overall poverty rate in 2021 by more than a third, lower the rate for Black people by as much as 42%, 39% for Hispanics and 34% for white people. In addition, the measure will send $130 billion to reopen schools safely, $34 billion will expand Obamacare subsidies to many more people, $25 billion for emergency rental assistance, and $14 billion will help to speed vaccine distribution, among many other such initiatives. That, on a day that Biden also announced he was securing another 100 million vaccine doses from Johnson & Johnson.

No wonder Republicans have no clue how to oppose the plan (other than with obviously ridiculous and silly lies), after the package received zero votes from GOPers in either the House or Senate. Democrats own this one, and they should do so loudly and proudly. The additional good news here for now is that even Chuck Schumer finally seems to "get it". There is no upside to negotiating with Republicans if they are going to be doing so in bad faith, as they did on the stimulus bill under Obama in response to the Great Recession.

But the central focus of our show today is on a couple of moves by the President that labor leaders, experts, and academics are citing to describe Biden as, so far, the most pro-worker, pro-labor, pro-union President in decades, and maybe ever.

Last week, he surprised a lot of folks on the left by tweeting a direct, unambiguous video message of support for workers who are now voting on whether to unionize at an Amazon warehouse outside of Birmingham, Alabama. It would be the first such facility to do so in the nation. Biden's two and a half message lauded unions for creating the middle class and spoke to American workers' rights under the law to organize for collective bargaining without corporate interference.

And this week, he issued a direct, unambiguous statement of support for the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act before its passage in the House on Tuesday. Labor leaders describe the initiative as the most progressive, pro-union bill in 80 years. Of course, now all it has to do is overcome a filibuster in the Senate.

We're joined today by longtime labor historian and author NELSON LICHTENSTEIN, Distinguished Professor at UC-Santa Barbara, where he directs the Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy. Lichtenstein explains both the importance of the PRO Act and the ongoing vote to unionize Amazon down in Alabama. He also addresses the question as to whether Biden could become the most pro-union President in modern times, or even in history.

"The bar is very low," Lichtenstein concedes, in comparing Biden to recent Presidents who may have supported unions with words --- though none as directly as we've seen from Biden to date --- but not necessarily with their actions. "Biden is saying all the right things, but this will all fade unless there actually is legislation that is passed in some form" that turns "the reality on the ground" into a "revival of trade unionism."

"It's one thing to say terrific things --- and I'm not being cynical, all power to him  --  but history will judge him by whether or not there is in fact an increase in real wages, an increase in union membership, an increase in the power of organized labor."

The colorful professor has much more to say that I can possibly do justice to here, so please tune in. But, after we discuss how it just so happens that the most prosperous period in history for the American middle class also coincides with the era when trade unionism and collective bargaining were at their zenith, I ask if there is any actual historical economic data in support of the notion that unions are somehow either bad for business or workers, as folks on the right would have you believe, and as all too many in this country have fallen for after decades of corporate, anti-union propaganda.

"No," Lichtenstein answers emphatically. "There is no support for that. It is good both economically, in an immediate sense, and even more important, politically, because it helps sustain a social democratic ethos and policy block in the country." He goes on to add: "One of the reasons for the deterioration in America of everything --- from race relations to stagnating living standards --- is because of the weakness of unions in the last forty, fifty years."

As noted, do yourself a favor and tune in for our conversation. I learned a lot and suspect you may as well. And, as a gift, we close today with arguably the ONLY good thing to come out of the Trump years: national treasure Randy Rainbow returns with another new tune that may keep you humming all night...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 3/9/2021 11:25am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Global oil prices are rising again, and so is the price at the pump; Interior Department moving swiftly to roll back Trump-era rollbacks; Bankrupt coal company seeks to shed responsibility for mine clean-up; PLUS: Cities thwarted in effort to change building codes to combat climate change... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Big Oil May Want Carbon Tax, But Biden and GOPers Not So Much; Tesla's secret big battery revealed in Texas;
First major U.S. offshore wind project moves closer to reality under Biden; Big Banks Make a Dangerous Bet on the World’s Growing Demand for Food; White House’s Reworked Climate Metric Draws Lawsuit from [GOP-controlled] States; Caribbean Refinery To Test Biden's Promises On Poverty And Pollution... PLUS: For Planet Earth, No Tourism is a Curse and a Blessing... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guest: Sarah Repucci of Freedom House; Also: Senate passes Biden's very progressive $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill; SCOTUS rejects last of Trump's 2020 election challenges...
By Brad Friedman on 3/8/2021 6:44pm PT  

It's not only in the U.S. where democracy is now under attack. Unfortunately, as discussed with our guest on today's BradCast, when freedom and democracy begin to collapse here, it gets even worse everywhere else. [Audio link to show follows below this summary.]

But, first up today, a quick word or two on Harry and Meghan (because in case you thought a parliamentary monarchy was a better idea than our representative democracy....well, that's not working out so well either these days.)

Very good news out of Congress, however, where the U.S. Senate finally passed Joe Biden's massive $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan over the weekend. Sadly, it was adopted 50-49 without a single Republican vote. The wildly popular measure provides critical relief across a whole bunch of sectors, with, as the New York Times describes, it "the principle Democrats and liberal economists have espoused over the past decade: that the best way to stoke faster economic growth is from the bottom up."  We go through many of the details of this major relief and stimulus plan that both Democrats and progressives should be damned proud of. Hopefully they remember to sing its praises between now and November of 2022, at the very least.  While the bill was changed marginally in the Senate after House passage (in some ways, it was even made more progressive!), it remained pretty much the same bold plan as initially proposed. It is, as many have described it, the most progressive relief bill ever passed by both Houses of Congress.

Democrats, by and large, seem to have figured out that it's ridiculous to negotiate with themselves in order to win the fool's errand of receiving Republican votes, when they ain't coming on board for anything Democrats in power favor, no matter how popular the measure is with their own Republican constituents (very!) or how many of them it will actually help in myriad ways. The measure must be approved one more time in the House before it heads to the President's desk likely this week, followed by his signatures and then individual checks of $1,400 to most Americans, $3,600 for most children, new expansions to Obamacare to allow those with higher incomes to receive subsidies for health insurance premiums and much much more to get American and its economy and schools back open faster and safer.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Donald Trump lost Wisconsin yet again, as the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his appeal of a lower court ruling upholding the bipartisan Wisconsin Election Commission's handling of mail-in ballots in the 2020 election. And, with that, SCOTUS has now officially rejected every challenge to the 2020 election results brought by Trump and his MAGA Mob to the Republicans' stolen and packed high court.  Sadly, GOP state legislatures are now in the process of attempting to impose severe new restrictions on voting in multiple states, including by rolling back measures, for example, for no-excuse absentee voting in Georgia, that they themselves had previously enacted.

So the fight for democracy and voting rights continues. Sunday marked the 56th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march in Selma, Alabama, when civil rights icon, the late Rep. John Lewis and hundreds of others were beaten to a pulp by state troopers during a protest walk for voting voting rights across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. That violence at that 1965 march, witnessed live on television, resulted in President Johnson signing the landmark Voting Rights Act that year. In commemoration over the weekend, President Biden issued an executive order "to promote voting access to all all eligible Americans to participate in our democracy." The order, as the White House describes it, "will leverage the resources of the federal government to increase access to voter registration services and information about voting."

The effort comes not a moment too soon, unfortunately, as underscored by a new report out last week from Freedom House titled Freedom in the World 2021: Democracy under Siege. It finds, among other troubling things: "As a lethal pandemic, economic and physical insecurity, and violent conflict ravaged the world, democracy’s defenders sustained heavy new losses in their struggle against authoritarian foes, shifting the international balance in favor of tyranny."

Three-quarters of people in the world now live in countries where freedom and democracy are on the decline, according to the group's latest annual report. As Washington Post's coverage notes, "This year’s survey, published Wednesday, marked the 15th consecutive year of global democratic backsliding --- 'a long democratic recession,' in the organization’s words, that is 'deepening.'' Moreover, the United States dropped three rankings in this year's survey which, its co-author explains on today's show, has been carried out by the 80-year old, non-partisan, non-profit group every year since 1972.

We're joined today by Freedom House Vice President of Research and Analysis SARAH REPUCCI, who notes that while the report cites the "unprecedented attacks on one of the world’s most visible and influential democracies," with the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol in January, and that his "actions went unchecked by most lawmakers from his own party, with a stunning silence that undermined basic democratic tenets," the 1/6 insurrection attempt wasn't even considered as part of this year's rankings of 195 countries, since it occurred in 2021.

Moreover, Freedom House found the largest "democracy gap" (the number of countries that improved minus the number of countries that declined) in the report's history last year, which marked 15 years of decline by the group's measure.

Repucci explains the report's methodology, which areas of the world are now seen as most at risk, and how the decline in freedoms and democracy in the U.S. over the past 15 years --- particularly over the past decade --- have helped to encourage the grim turn for democratic movements across the globe in recent years. She also offers some key recommendations for how to turn things around in this country, including reform in a number of areas --- such as ending partisan gerrymandering and instituting campaign finance reform. Both of those items are central tenets of the critical H.R.1, or "For the People Act", an omnibus and long-overdue elections and ethics reform package that has now been adopted by the U.S. House but faces a Republican filibuster in the U.S. Senate at this time.

"What many of us have been witnessing here in the United States is part of this larger global trend," Repucci tells me. "We've been tracking 15 years of decline globally, and the US has been declining the last ten years. So this is not totally not new in the US, and it's definitely not new globally.  What we are seeing are declines across the board in very repressive settings and also in democracies and everything in between." She warns: "The main takeaway is that no country is safe from this. It's affecting all types and all regions. It's something that we need to take really seriously."

Finally today, the CDC has issued its first guidelines for those who are now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. The guidance, which we discuss, allows for, among other things, those who have been fully vaccinated to hang out indoors, in private settings, without masks or social distancing with others who have been fully vaccinated as well. So, there's just one more good reason to get a shot as soon as you can figure out how to get one (or two, as the case may be). So far, just under 10% of Americans have been fully vaccinated...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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