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Guest: Media analyst Eric Boehlert of PRESS RUN; Also: Masks back on in L.A. County; Deadly climate change-fueled deluge in Germany...
By Brad Friedman on 7/16/2021 6:26pm PT  

If you are faint of heart or a Fox "News" viewer, please proceed with caution before listening to today's BradCast, as we mention the very very scary issue of "Critical Race Theory" on today's program. Please call 911 immediately if, at any time while listening, you find yourself hating white people or turning into a gay communist. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

With that warning out of the way (you're welcome!), we start today with a few less amusing matters. First, Los Angeles County is restoring its indoors mask mandate as of this weekend, due to a surge in COVID infections thanks to the Delta variant, largely affecting the unvaccinated.

Then, horrific flooding in Germany and elsewhere in Europe has resulted in a death toll topping 125 as we went to air, with hundreds still missing. Desi Doyen walks us through what happened and why and how, yes, this deadly deluge is related to climate change. In somewhat related news, she also explains some of the science behind the recent headlines you may have seen of late regarding a "moon wobble" that could result in serious flooding problems in coastal areas across the world in the years ahead, as sea level rise due to our climate crisis intensifies along with it.

Next up today, we're happy to lighten the mood. After outrage over Mr. Potato Head and Dr. Seuss failed to have the legs that Fox "News" and the Republican Party had hoped for, they've moved on to CRITICAL RACE THEORY(!!!) as the latest and greatest threat to our children, and life on Planet Earth itself. Since Joe Biden's inauguration, a recent study found, mentions of the obscure issue on Fox have at least doubled each month since. But, like most Americans --- and pretty much every Fox "News" viewer today --- you probably had no idea what Critical Race Theory actually was (and maybe still don't) until Fox started screaming about it and Republicans pretended to be outraged enough about it to actually pass First Amendment-defying laws to cancel its teaching in our schools.

(Fox would also appreciate, very much, if you'd run for your local school boards and demand they stop teaching it as well, before every good white person is "replaced" by a gay black Jewish communist...or something.)

Don't tell Fox or its easily duped viewers, but Critical Race Theory --- a decades old, largely obscure (until now), academic theory that (correctly) argues our nation's long history of systemic racism is now baked into our legal system, economy and society itself --- isn't actually taught in K-12 schools. It's barely taught in colleges and universities for that matter. But, if you turn on Fox "News" these days, you'll learn that it's actually a clear and present threat to our nation and that Joe Biden is now demanding every Kindergartner be indoctrinated to believe that white people are evil and America is bad. Or something.

Of course, all of this is as ridiculous as it sounds and something we have spent many weeks working hard not to waste your time on by covering it, because it's all so stupid. But, as longtime media critic and analyst ERIC BOEHLERT points out again this week in his PRESS RUN newsletter, when the Right gets angry, no matter the cause, non-wingnut media like the New York Times and Washington Post feel obligated to cover the faux fury. But on that, he argues on today's show, they are failing miserably in their coverage.

"The entire Republican Party is in on this," Boehlert explains. "This is how these phony outrages are created, and why the press pretends there's nothing they can do, they have to cover it. If you have the entire weight of the Republican Party, and the weight of a billion-dollar rightwing propaganda media empire and infrastructure all talking about the same thing, the press is defenseless."

"Yes, it is news that the Governor of Florida wants to ban the teaching of a topic in public schools," he rails. "What is also news, and what is also getting ignored, is that this topic is not taught in Florida schools! That should be the second paragraph of every one of these stories! "

"There have been hundreds of these stories. Most of the coverage doesn't even mention that Critical Race Theory is not taught in public schools!" Citing a recent 1,500 word story in the Times headlined "Why is the Country Panicking About Critical Race Theory?", Boehlert notes: "The country is not panicked. Trump voters and QAnon nut-jobs are. Most people don't know what Critical Race Theory is, they can't describe it, and people --- outside of that 30% [Fox] bubble --- are not panicked about it!"

"The real story --- if the press was being transparent and honest --- the real story is that this entire machinery has created this issue around a topic that must be banned, this kind of sorcery that they're depicting Critical Race Theory as, and it's not taught in a single school in this country. If I'm a reporter, and I look at that, I'd say, oh, I see the real story here!"

This sort of rightwing hoax, grievance culture, ginned-up outrage is meant, in this case, to somehow help Republicans in the 2022 mid-terms. It's nothing new. It's now the stock in trade for the post-governance Republican Party. So, how is it that the (theoretically) legitimate media can't seem to figure that out when they cover it? As you might guess, we've got plenty to talk to political media maven Boehlert about on today's program.

Just proceed with caution. We'd hate for anybody to be harmed during the listening of today's BradCast...

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Also: GOPers laughing at, thanking Manchin, Sinema; Encouraging news on Dems' landmark infrastructure bill; Trump's COVID Death Cult rising...
By Brad Friedman on 7/15/2021 6:41pm PT  

Democracy, politics and death. Ya know, just another day on The BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

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

  • Maricopa County, Arizona will now be forced to spend millions on new voting systems after state and County officials determined that their previous machines, which they only began using in 2019 and still haven't paid off, cannot be used again, and will be destroyed. That, after potential corruption of the systems during the Arizona GOP Senate's secret "audit" process, carried out by a private, conspiracy theory contractor named Cyber Ninjas. So much for those "fiscally conservative" Republicans (just in case you're wondering why we almost never refer to Republicans as "conservative" in almost any context. It's because they ain't. And folks in the media and in Congress and everywhere else should stop doing them the favor of playing along with their friendly, if utterly false and misleading, branding.)

    As we also discuss today, Maricopa doesn't actually have to spend millions of dollars on new computers to scan their hand-marked paper ballots. They could simply count them publicly by hand in the first place!

    The real cost of the phony, completely non-transparent and still-ongoing "audit" clown show in Phoenix, however, is that it is likely to make Democrats even more reluctant to seek recounts and post-election audits in the many cases where they absolutely should. (Here's just one such example.)

  • The wingnuts at CPAC over the weekend were laughing at Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) for their gullible willingness to do their obstruction bidding for them. A group of Republican officials were caught on video tape, laughing, applauding and urging others to call and thank the two Democrats for blocking reform of the Senate filibuster. "We don't want the people's will to be done," says former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum in the clip. "Call Joe Manchin an say thank you, seriously. Call Kyrsten Sinema and say thank you," the failed Presidential candidate and fired CNN pundit says. That, as Senate filibuster reform (or elimination entirely!) is desperately needed right now in order to adopt federal protections for voting rights in hopes of countering GOP voter suppression measures now being adopted in Republican-controlled state after Republican-controlled state.
  • But, in somewhat brighter Manchin-related news, he does seem at least mostly willing to go along with the Democrats' landmark, "transformative", $3.5 trillion infrastructure reconciliation package, which --- unlike a voting rights bill --- can be adopted by the U.S. Senate with a simple majority vote...so long as Manchin and Sinema, and all of the other Democrats, play along.
  • In the meantime, back in the states, the COVID infection rates are on the rise again nationally, along with surging hospitalization and death rates in areas of the country with the lowest vaccination rates. That, as the Delta variant is quickly gaining a foothold across the nation. Last week, we discussed Missouri's horrific situation in the rural, Southwestern part of the state, where hospitals are already overwhelmed. Today, we discuss the similarly horrific numbers out of Mississippi, where state officials issued new recommendations for masking indoors once again, and warned the unvaccinated last week that "people are going to die needlessly."

    But the Trump Death Cult appears to be in full flower now in Tennessee, where the State Health Department's new directive bars state health officials from vaccination outreach to teens, incredibly enough. But that's not only for the COVID vaccines, but any and all vaccines --- from Measles to HPV to flu shots! They are no longer allowed to even remind teens when it is time to get their second COVID shot, despite the lack of protection against the Delta variant after only one dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. That, just one day after the same brainwashed wingnut ghouls of Trump's Death Cultists at CPAC last weekend actually broke into cheers when a panelist discussed the unwillingness of millions of Americans to save their own lives by getting vaccinated.

    There is, however, a bit of apparent good news regarding some of these Trump Death Cult states. Vaccination rates have suddenly been increasing by double digits in some of them over the past week. So, maybe they're finally getting the fear of God in them. Not everywhere, unfortunately. In Tennessee, the number of doses administered over the past week, versus the prior one has fallen by 70 percent as of today. In Mississippi, it's fallen by 80 percent! It's only worse in Joe Manchin's home state of West Virginia, where the rate of vaccination has fallen 94 percent since the previous week, according to Washington Post's vaccine tracker.

  • Finally, I'm happy to say that Desi Doyen's latest Green News Report has much more encouraging news packed into it than usual, including a breakdown of the many long-overdue climate and clean energy provisions currently set for inclusion in the Dems' new infrastructure package (if Manchin doesn't kill them), and in a similar new "Green Deal" initiative being launched this week in the European Union...

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Also: Rudy's woes worsen; Heat wave kills hundreds in U.S. and Canada; How Rupert Murdoch's Fox 'News' broke the nation and the planet...
By Brad Friedman on 7/8/2021 6:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we're still trying to clean up the deadly mess from the past four years of Donald Trump and the nearly 20 since 9/11. [Audio link to today's full show is posted below summary.]

Among our stories today...

  • More bad news for Rudy Giuliani, after he was foolish enough to throw away whatever shreds were left of his reputation in order to serve as the attorney for a well known con-man. Oh, well. In addition to facing a federal probe for his foreign work on behalf of Donald Trump, facing two different billion dollar defamation suits by voting machine companies he lied about, facing lawsuits from members of Congress for having helped to incite the deadly January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, and seeing his law license suspended in New York for having lied on Trump's behalf that the 2020 election was stolen, Rudy has just had his law license suspended in Washington D.C. for the same reasons. Womp womp.
  • In significantly sadder news, even as COVID infections and deaths continue to plummet in much of the country, both are now spiking in pockets of Trump Country where his duped followers are refusing to get vaccinated. Missouri has now become the nation's hotspot, with infections rates up nearly 50 percent across the state, but much higher in the farthest rightwing pockets of the state, where there is a shortage of ventilators and respiratory specialists to handle the surge. Infection rates have spiked more than 70 percent in some areas of the Show-Me State, and include hospitalizations for a number of patients in their 20s and 30s as the Delta variant grows in dominance. Hospital officials fear the numbers may get far worse over the next week or so, in the wake of the 4th of July holiday weekend. What are state officials doing about it? Republican Governor Mike Parson just signed a law passed by the GOP-dominated state legislature to shield businesses and churches from COVID-related lawsuits.
  • Correctly describing it as an "unwinnable war", President Biden announced that all U.S. combat troops would be out of Afghanistan no later than the end of August, somewhat earlier than his announced plans of leaving the war-torn nation by this year's 20th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. He spoke to criticism from those who believe he's pulling out from America's longest war too soon, with the Taliban already taking back control of the country as the U.S. leaves. "How many more thousands of American daughters and sons are you willing to risk?,” Biden asked, adding: "I will not send another generation of Americans to war in Afghanistan, with no reasonable expectation of achieving a different outcome." He also vowed to help safely evacuate thousands of Afghani translators, drivers and others who assisted the U.S. mission, as they now face certain danger from the Taliban. And he took questions from the press about whether 2,300 Americans deaths, more than 20,000 U.S. casualties and more than a trillion tax-payer dollars spent on the conflict over the past 20 years was all worth it. We share some of his remarks today.
  • After breaking the nation, the world and arguably the planet itself (with years of climate change denialism), Rupert Murdoch's Fox "News" will soon be expanding to break the weather as well. "People are hungry for more information about what the hell is going on with the weather because of climate change," Desi Doyen notes today. "So now you can get not only rightwing media news, you can get your rightwing weather, that will tell you only things about the weather that you want to hear!"
  • But now, at least one very long time former Fox executive close to Murdoch is speaking out against his old boss for "the real damage that Fox News is doing to America." That includes "the unnecessary deaths of many Americans" fueled by sowing doubt about COVID-19 and spreading lies about the 2020 Presidential election. "Fox News has caused many millions of Americans --- most of them Republicans (as my wife and I were for 50 years) --- to believe things that simply are not true," writes Preston Padden at the Daily Beast this week, after decades at Murdoch's network, where worked closely with its now 90-year old CEO since the company's inception in the 1980s.
  • Finally, its our first Green News Report since returning from our July 4th break, after a week of record smashing temps in the Pacifica Northwest and Canada which killed hundreds, to the record breaking Elsa which stormed ashore in Florida on Wednesday and is wreaking havoc up the Eastern Seaboard today. Plus, a whole lot of both disturbing and encouraging climate news items for us to get caught up with after taking last week off...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Robert Brandon of Fair Elections Center; Also: We're back! But with a week of news in one segment to get you (and us) all caught up!...
By Brad Friedman on 7/6/2021 6:48pm PT  

We're back on today's BradCast after a much-needed week off, which turned out to be a really big news week. But don't worry. We get all caught up somehow (mostly) on everything you need to know in just one segment today! Plus, an excellent guest to explain how the Republicans' packed U.S. Supreme Court has undermined both democracy and the Constitution yet again at the end of this year's term. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

Among the stories from last week (and this week) that we catch up on before moving to our guest...

  • The thought-to-be-extinguished Lava Fire in Northern California erupts with two others;
  • Last week's deadly, climate-change fueled heat wave in the Pacifica Northwest and British Columbia resulted in hundreds of deaths in the U.S. and Canada;
  • The confirmed death toll at the condo collapse in Surfside, Florida ticks up over 30 with more than 100 still unaccounted for, as recovery is hampered by the incoming, already record-breaking Hurricane Elsa;
  • An ExxonMobil lobbyist was caught on video admitting to the company's years of subterfuge about our climate emergency caused by the unmitigated burning of their products;
  • Attorney General Merrick Garland declared a moratorium on federal executions;
  • George W. Bush's "war criminal" Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, died;
  • The U.S. finally, permanently evacuated Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan as President Biden tries to finally end America's longest war before the 20th Anniversary of 9/11;
  • COVID infections spiked 10% over the previous week as the Delta Variant continues to pose a quickly growing danger, effecting mostly unvaccinated people (so far);
  • Despite its low infection rate, Los Angeles County urged residents to wear masks indoors again, thanks to the increasing spread of the much more infectious coronavirus variant;
  • More than 180 people were shot and killed over the July 4th holiday weekend in more than 540 shootings in the U.S. over a 72-hour period;
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi named her selections, including one Republican, to a House Select Committee to investigate the Trump-incited January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol after Republicans in the House and Senate recently reneged on a deal with Democrats for a bipartisan independent commission;
  • Sexual predator Bill Cosby was freed from jail thanks to a ridiculous deal made years ago by one of the lead defense attorneys in Donald Trump's second impeachment trial;
  • The Boy Scouts of America agreed to an $850 million settlement with victims over thousands of sexual abuse allegations;
  • The Trump Organization and its longtime Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg were indicted on multiple state criminal charges including Scheme to Defraud, Conspiracy, Grand Larceny, Criminal Tax Fraud and Falsifying of Business Records;
  • The NYC Mayor's election, already made ridiculously complicated by Ranked Choice Voting, went sideways last week after it was discovered that 135,000 sample ballots were accidentally included by NYC election officials in the weeks-long, impossible-to-oversee RCV tabulation procedure;
  • Arizona's months-long "audit" theater was extended yet again, as the rightwing, QAnon conspiracy company called Cyber Ninjas continued its secret examination of 2.1 million ballots cast during last year's Presidential election in Maricopa County (Phoenix). That's the partially taxpayer-funded clown show that, as I reported weeks ago now, according to the Ninjas' own documents [PDF], allows them to miscount a MINIMUM of 42,000 votes without setting off any internal alarm bells, in a race that was decided by a statewide margin of just 10,000 votes;
  • And, the Dept. of Justice called on Congress to adopt new laws to protect voters after the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court ended their term last week by undermining democracy and the U.S. Constitution yet again.

In Brnovich vs. DNC [PDF], the Court's 6 to 3 Republican majority overturned a lower appeals court decision that had blocked two new restrictions on voting in Arizona. One barred the counting of ballots cast by voters in the wrong precinct and the other banned the collection of ballots by third-parties (derisively known as "ballot harvesting" by Rightwingers implying it's used by minorities to defraud elections...despite the lack of any evidence in support of that assertion). Both laws were shown to have disproportionately impacted minority voters in the state. That is supposed to be barred by Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. But, writing for the Court's majority, activist Justice Samuel Alito made up new "guidelines" that ignore both Congress' intent in its passage of the VRA and the Constitution's own plain language that "Congress shall have the power to enforce" the 15th Amendment decree that "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

So, how will the Court's ruling in Brnovich, allowing for discrimination in voting laws, effect the spate of pending challenges to new voter suppression laws now being enacted by GOP-controlled states around the country? What, if anything, can Congress do about it? And, if they do, will this hard-right anti-democracy Court allow any such new laws to stand?

We're joined today to discuss all of that and more by longtime public interest attorney ROBERT BRANDON, President, CEO and co-founder of the Fair Elections Center. He describes the Republican Justices' opinion as "a real departure" from the claims of so-called originalism and Constitutional textualism --- a literal reading of the plain words of the Constitution --- which the rightwing Justices have long pretended to believe in. This decision, he explains, is "clearly is going to make it harder to challenge and defeat, in court, the laws that disenfranchise the most Americans, particularly black and brown voters, and other marginalized voters. In the case of Arizona, including disabled voters, who often need help delivering their ballots."

Alito's ruling, according to Brandon, essentially says "discrimination is okay as long as it's not a whole lot." But Brandon also explains why the Court's decision, as terrible as it is, doesn't necessarily mean that the multiple legal challenges to dozens of new GOP suppression laws adopted since last year, in the wake of Trump's evidence-free Big Lie that the election was stolen, will fail.

"It's a great irony, of course, that we just had the highest turnout election in history," he says, "yet now we're talking about adding all of these new barriers to voting around the country."

Finally, on this four-day work week following the Monday Independence Day holiday, a new analysis of a years-long study in Iceland finds that productivity either remained the same or improved in the majority of workplaces when the work week was cut to just four days. How can we get this progressive idea --- now also being studied in Spain and New Zealand, and found to benefit workers' health and lives without harming corporate bottom lines --- adopted here in the U.S.? Working on it...

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Also: Netanyahu finally out in Israel; 'Imminent radiological threat' at Chinese nuke plant?; 2016 whistleblower leaves prison; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 6/14/2021 6:07pm PT  

We try to hit a lot of news on today's BradCast after yet another very busy news weekend both at home and abroad. We don't get through our entire stack, but that's only thanks to some good calls from listeners along the way. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Among the stories we cover on today's program...

  • 600,000 are now dead from COVID-19 in the U.S. as states --- including California on Tuesday --- begin opening up again for business at full capacity (and as infection rates start to tick up again nationally...we're hoping it's just some noise in the data for now...)
  • Israel's longtime, hard-right leader Benjamin Netanyu, recently indicted on corruption charges, is finally out as Prime Minister of Israel. On Sunday, the Israeli Knesset officially approved a new governing coalition with a former top Netanyahu aide, Naftali Bennett, as the Jewish state's new Prime Minister. He will lead a broad coalition of some eight left, right and center parties, including the first Arab party to sit in a governing coalition. The fragile new partnership aims to move beyond the exceedingly polarizing years of the former PM, even as Netanyahu --- in one of his Trumpiest tantrums to date --- demonized many of his former rightwing colleagues in the new coalition as an "evil and dangerous leftist government" and decried his personal legal troubles as the result of a witch hunt. (Sound familiar?)
  • A disturbing story broke over night by CNN, suggesting there may be an ongoing or "imminent radiological threat" at a new nuclear power plant in China. Details come largely via a French company that has partnered with the Chinese on the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant in Guangdong province. Independent experts are watching the situation closely to determine how dangerous --- or, not-that-unusual --- the situation now is, as cracks seem to have formed in the main encasement of fuel rods at the plant. We'll continue to watch this one as well.
  • U.S. allies appeared just shy of giddy over the weekend and into today, as Joe Biden made his first appearance as President at the G7 summit in Cornwall, England and the NATO meetings that followed it. Biden and longtime allies in Europe hope the new President will restore a sense of normalcy to the proceedings and the post-WWII order, even as old disputes continue and many in Europe remain concerned (for good reason!) about the continuing fragile and divisive political situation in the U.S. that allowed the rise of Donald Trump's autocratic regimes in the first place.
  • Former National Security Agency whistleblower Reality Winner was released early from prison on Monday for good behavior. Winner had sent documents to media revealing Russia's attempted hacks of a voter registration software company in the U.S. during the 2016 election. The extent of those hacks is still publicly unknown but, arguably, wouldn't be known at all had it not been for Winner revealing the information to the media and public. As thanks, she was slapped with one of the longest prison sentences ever for such a leak to the media.
  • Then, callers ring in on a number of the various stories covered above, as well as some additional ones, including the news that Trump's DoJ secretly subpoenaed phone, email and text message records from Democratic lawmakers; Republicans continue to undermine American democracy in states across the nation; Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin continues to obstruct democratic reforms; and concerns persist about whether Biden's Attorney General Merrick Garland is up to the task of bringing accountability for so much of the unprecedented damage wrought by the Department during the Trump years...

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Guest: 9th generation West Virginian Robyn Kincaid; Also: Keystone XL is over!; COVID vaccines for the world; Biden to reportedly close Gitmo...
By Brad Friedman on 6/9/2021 6:15pm PT  

Yes. We're obsessed of late with Joe Manchin on The BradCast. But that's only because the fate of the entire progressive Biden and Democratic Party agenda is now being blocked by him...which also means the fate of American Democracy and even life on Planet Earth depends on the seemingly inexplicable whims of one obstructionist Democratic Senator from West Virginia. Other than that, no biggie. Why obsess? [Audio link to full show is posted at end of summary.]

Before diving back headlong into that frustration today with someone whose endured it first-hand far longer than many of us, some slightly more encouraging news today, beginning with the rather huge breaking news that broke, literally, as we began today's show.

The Keystone XL Pipeline is dead. Kaput. Over. Done. Yeah, we know you've heard that before, but this time it's the pipeline's owner themselves, TC Energy (formerly TransCanada), conceding that their 13-year dream of a massive 1,200 mile pipeline to ship 830,000 barrels of dirty tar sands oil each day from Alberta, Canada to refineries in Texas for shipment overseas amid catastrophically dangerous global warming due to the burning of fossil fuels is now, officially, cancelled. That, after Joe Biden cancelled the permit granted to the company by Donald Trump. And while we've got some other good-ish news items today, that one will likely prove to be the most expansive and enduring. Finally.

As far as news we'd actually planned to cover today, President Biden will reportedly commit at the G7 in Britain this week to buying some 500 million doses of COVID vaccine to donate to nations who desperately need them, as infection and death rates plummet in the U.S. while soaring in much of the world. The announcement will come as a new, highly transmissible and more dangerous viral variant is overtaking much of the UK and beginning to gain a foothold in the U.S.

The Administration also, according to NBC News today, has begun efforts to permanently close the extra-judicial, extra-constitutional detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in advance of the 20-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that led to then-President George W. Bush opening the shameful Gitmo chapter in the first place. While President Obama, upon taking office, had ordered the facility to be shut down in 2009, Congressional Democrats helped block that effort. Obama did, however, succeed in radically reducing Gitmo's prison population from about 250 to about 40 until Donald Trump stopped the U.S. relocation program. Biden's Administration reportedly hopes to close the facility permanently during his first term.

While Presidents can take certain Executive Actions regarding things like vaccines and Gitmo, acts of Congress are needed for the big stuff. Which bring us --- maddeningly enough --- back to Manchin today. On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's plan to bring up stuff for a vote this month that Manchin supports --- only to see all of it filibustered and blocked by Republicans --- got underway, with the GOP filibuster of the Paycheck Fairness Act on Tuesday. The measure, originally co-sponsored by Manchin and already passed by the House, is aimed at eliminating the appalling gender pay gap between women and men. Manchin announced he was "disappointed" by the floor vote that received support from ZERO Republicans, much less the ten votes that is currently required to overcome obstructionist GOP filibusters in the Senate.

But Manchin has long vowed to oppose the simple majority vote needed to eliminate or even reform the filibuster. He announced as much again last weekend when he also declared his opposition to the Democrats' For the People Act, a massive election and campaign reform bill that, among other things, mandates early voting and no-excuse absentee ballots in all 50 states, ends partisan gerrymandering, and curbs dark money in campaigns. 49 out of 50 Democratic Senators are co-sponsors. Every Republican and Joe Manchin oppose it (even though he co-sponsored the bill in 2019!) Manchin's reason for opposition is, apparently, because no Republicans support it (nor did they in 2019!), even as they are adopting voter suppression measures at the state level all over the country right now.

All of that, amid a massive rightwing effort by dark money groups led by the Koch Network to target Manchin to keep him opposed to both filibuster reform and the For the People Act, while a stunning 79% of West Virginians (including 76% of Republicans in the state!) support the Democrats' sweeping election reform package.

We've been trying of late to figure out Manchin's game and a way to move the country (and planet) forward through it. We've struck out so far. So today we turn to our old friend ROBYN KINCAID (formerly known as Bob Kincaid), a 9th generation West Virginian, host and creator of the progressive Head-On Radio Network, co-founder of the Appalachian Communities Health Emergency Campaign and President of the Coal River Mountain Watch.

As a longtime opponent of deadly mountain top removal coal mining, Kincaid has years of experience in dealing with Manchin beginning during his days as a state official, including as Governor. If anyone has insight and helpful advice on how to deal with Manchin, it's the always colorful Kincaid, who kicks things off by explaining what it is that the rest of the nation may not know, but needs to, in order to understand him, beginning with the contention that also includes Manchin's politico father, that "No Manchin has ever voted for a Democrat whose name wasn't Manchin."

"He is the Queen of the May right now," Kincaid tells me. "Everybody is paying attention to him. He is on the lips of every political observer in the country, and he is, I assure you, basking in it."

But why the intransigence when it comes to taking the action necessary to move litigation forward that he, himself (not to mention his own constituents, in big numbers), actually supports?

"He gets hold of an idea and he hangs onto it like a junkyard dog with a bone," explains Kincaid. "For years and years, when we would talk about mountaintop removal, he would answer by saying 'We have to have balance', for about ten years. Now the word is 'bipartisan.' I don't think he fully understands how 'bipartisan' works. Because if he wants bipartisanship, it's HIS job to lean in and use coercive power and say, 'Listen, y'all can come along, or I break the filibuster.' But I don't think he's as willing to play hardball with the Republicans as he is with somebody like Joe Biden and Democrats because he is more philosophically aligned with the Republicans."

Offering a very generous benefit of the doubt that some of Manchin's institutional concerns about doing away with the filibuster are sincere, Kincaid explains that "West Virginia relies profoundly on things like Medicaid and Medicare, and forms of federal government assistance for a workforce that has been beaten and bedraggled and tormented over the years. ... I think in the back of his mind, he can foresee a future where there's a Republican-controlled Senate with no filibuster where they they can do what they wish. He knows as well as anybody else what the Republican wish-list is in the modern Republican Party of Nitwit Nero [Trump]. That is a world without Social Security, a world without the Affordable Care Act, a world without Medicaid. And that means a West Virginia that is already as...as... [heavy sigh]...as beaten down as we are, that we'll be even more so, and left to perish."

Among the many other mysteries of Manchin on which Kincaid offers insight today:

  • Is he captured by the rightwing Koch Network's dark money?
  • Is there any hope in threatening to primary him (even though he's not up for reelection again until 2024)?
  • Why would he oppose a measure (the For the People Act) THAT HE HAD CO-SPONSORED IN 2019(!) and that is so wildly popular in WV?
  • What does he want and can he be bought off, given that Democrats are looking to spend hundreds of billions right now via Biden's American Jobs and Families Plans?

We also take a few minutes to discuss Kincaid's Appalachian Communities Health Emergency (ACHE) Act, "that has the power to stop mountaintop [coal] removal once and for all". The bill has been reintroduced as H.R. 2073 and Kincaid asks BradCast listeners to "please, pretty please, go to the phone, go to your keyboards, call, send an email to your members of the House of Representatives and say please co-sponsor H.R. 2073, the ACHE Act, because it means the world to West Virginia. It means the world to Appalachia. It literally means a future for us."

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Also: Very good U.S. COVID news; More bad news for Exxon (but good news for the planet); Bad news for Postmaster General DeJoy...
By Brad Friedman on 6/3/2021 5:44pm PT  

We're old enough on The BradCast to remember the days when the news got really slow during the summer months after Memorial Day. These are no longer those days. [Audio link to full show follows summary below.]

Among the many and various stories covered on today's program...

  • Thanks to the Biden Administration's COVID vaccine efforts, infection rates in the U.S. are now as low as they have been since March of 2020 --- the very beginning of the pandemic --- and are still dropping. Death rates have plummeted as well. Infection and death rates elsewhere in the world, however, are still soaring. So, even while upping their efforts to get folks vaccinated in the U.S. in June, the Biden Administration is finally taking action to help the rest of the world as well, vowing to distribute 80 million doses to nations in need --- near and far --- over the next month.
  • On our Green News Report earlier this week, we reported on Big Oil's very bad day last week, which is now being referred to as "Black Wednesday" for the fossil fuel industry. It was the day that Shell, Chevron and Exxon each got very bad news in either the courtroom or the boardroom. While the news was bad for them, it was great for the planet and those of us concerned about global warming amidst our worsening climate emergency. For Exxon, the bad news was that two "activist" candidates for its Board of Directors were elected by shareholders to push the company toward a more sustainable business model. Two other climate advocate candidates, also backed by large, forward thinking hedge funds, were also on the ballot last week. But their contests, we were told, were too close to call. As of last night, Exxon announced a third activist candidate was indeed also elected to the company's 12-member board.
  • Bad news for Donald Trump's Postmaster General Louis DeJoy (who, unfortunately, is still somehow in charge of the U.S. Postal Service, despite his best efforts to dismantle it.) The FBI is now said to be investigating DeJoy for unlawful campaign fund raising for Trump and the GOP, after a report last year by the Washington Post revealed he had allegedly pressured employees at his company (before being appointed Postmaster) to give contributions to Republicans for which he would later paid them back. "Straw-donor" campaign finance schemes like that are unlawful. But while DeJoy has previously denied violating any campaign finance laws, his defense, since reportedly being subpoenaed recently by the FBI, has changed in a noteworthy way, which we explain.
  • That, of course, was just a preamble today for our coverage of the ongoing Texas Republican attempt to pass a massive new voter suppression law, known as Senate Bill 7 (or SB7). Yes, that's the measure that was blocked over the weekend, at least temporarily, when Democratic state lawmakers walked out at the end of the year's legislative session over the weekend, denying Republicans a quorum in the House and final passage of the bill for this session along with it. Nonetheless, Gov. Greg Abbot has vowed to call an "emergency" special session to get it passed in the near future.

    In the meantime, the GOP claims that the new law is needed to combat "voter fraud" in the state, even after their own Secretary of State in March declared the 2020 election to have been "smooth and secure". That, after the state's Lt. Governor Daniel Patrick offered a $1,000,000 reward for evidence of voter fraud (still no takers, apparently), and the state's Attorney General Ken Paxton (indicted on multiple felony counts of securities fraud, but still somehow in office), logged 22,000 staff hours to sniff out voter fraud, coming up with barely a handful of cases out of more than 11 million ballots cast in 2020.

    The TX GOP's "voter fraud" claims are --- as they always have been --- built on a house of blatant lies. We walk you through the real facts about their phony "voter fraud" claims today and explain why they're really hoping to get this bill passed, above and beyond hoping to disenfranchise voters of color. Also, we offer a big hat-tip to CNN's Brianna Keilar who shut down some serious bullshit lies this week by her guest, Republican state Sen. Bryan Hughes, the bill's lying lead sponsor.

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest, very busy, Green News Report, including news of a major ecological disaster in Sri Lanka; bad news about global warming and heat deaths; bad news regarding water in the U.S. Southwest; tragic news about the REAL death toll from Texas' winter storm and completely avoidable power blackouts; but good news for Alaska (and the nation), as the Biden Administration is now blocking the Trump-era scheme to lease oil and gas wells in the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Preserve...

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Guest: BRAD BLOG legal analyst Ernest A. Canning; Also: CA GOP's Newsom recall falling flat so far; Israel, Hamas agree to cease-fire; GOP disgraces self, infuriates cops by trying to block Jan. 6th Commission...
By Brad Friedman on 5/20/2021 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the fight for truth and justice continues from Palestine to Washington D.C. to Los Angeles, CA. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Just before airtime today, encouraging news broke that Israel and Hamas have agreed to a cease-fire after nearly two weeks of fighting that left at least 230 Palestinians (including at least 65 children) dead in Gaza, and 12 Israels (including two children) dead on the other side. The promised pause in hostilities comes after President Biden's long-overdue pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which came after pressure from Congressional Democrats on Biden.

Republicans in Congress, meanwhile, revealed once again this week the bad faith with which they are supposedly "working" with Democrats. After the top Democrat and Republican on the Homeland Security Committee in the House negotiated a deal for the structure of an evenly partisan divided, independent commission to examine the deadly January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, the GOP minority leaders in both the House and Senate whipped their own members to reject it. Nonetheless, the House passed the resolution to create the Jan. 6 Commission on Wednesday, after some stunning and dramatic debate, with 35 Republicans joining all of the Dems to adopt the Commission. The rest of the House GOPers scoffed at the attack on the Capitol and even at the U.S. Capitol Police themselves, the very law enforcement officials who risked life and limb to protect all Congressional members on that shameful, historic day. The measure must still overcome a Republican filibuster to be adopted in the Senate, where Mitch McConnell is opposing with lies about it being "unbalanced", in hopes of protecting his party, his counterpart in the House, Kevin McCarthy, and our disgraced former President who incited the riot.

Meanwhile, back here in California, we catch up with the GOP's ongoing recall attempt of progressive Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, whose poll numbers are on the rise, as the rates of COVID infections, deaths and positive tests are now among the lowest --- if not THE lowest --- in the nation. The CA GOP, unable to win statewide elections anymore, unless they can fool voters during a low turnout recall election, had cited Newsom's handling of the pandemic and the state's homelessness crisis as reason to unseat the first term Governor in a recall election later this year.

As our guest today, retired attorney and longtime BRAD BLOG legal analyst ERNEST A. CANNING explained in a fascinating post this week, however, a federal judge may have recently buttressed Newsom's case when it comes to his efforts on the housing crisis in the Golden State as well.

Specifically, while noting the high marks given to the Governor in the judge's ruling in the case filed by the Los Angeles Alliance for Human Rights seeking federal intervention on the homelessness crisis in L.A. City and County, U.S. District Court Judge David Carter's 110-page decision cites the real reason for, as Canning described it, "the nightmare of homelessness at the heart of a place that dares to call itself the City of Angels."

Canning explains Judge Carter's "eye-opening" historical revelations as he detailed a century of systemic racism and corruption in Southern California that has directly resulted in the crisis which now disproportionately affects African-Americans. From "racially restrictive covenants, redlining and eminent domain" used by Los Angeles "to racially segregate neighborhoods" to "Ku Klux Klan violence [that] further targeted Black families who resided in majority white neighborhoods" to sea-side property taken "from Black families and turn[ed]...into a whites-only park," the judge offered an insightful and maddening history of the horrors that have come to haunt all of us --- or, certainly should --- here in Southern California.

"There were no African Americans," says Canning, where he went to school while growing up in SoCal in the 50s and 60s. "The thing that Judge Carter reveals is that that didn't happen by happenstance. Back in 1910, 36% of African Americans were living in racially-diverse neighborhoods, and they were homeowners. In steps, the KKK, enforcement of racially restrictive covenants, redlining, and eminent domain" changed all of that. "We're not talking about Georgia or any of the former Confederate states, we're talking about Southern California."

I hope you'll take a look at his coverage of Judge Carter's ruling here.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with some not horrible, landmark news from the International Energy Agency on how the usually fossil fuel-friendly agency is now calling for reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050; and some incredibly exciting news on Wednesday night's unveiling by the Ford Motor Company of their brand-new, game-changing, all-electric F-150 Lightning pick-up truck, that could just save the world...and power your entire house for days...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: OH's million dollar COVID vaccine lottery is working; Millions of parents will soon get monthly checks from Dems' American Rescue Plan...
By Brad Friedman on 5/18/2021 7:08pm PT  

There is nothing wrong with citizens --- no matter how partisan or misinformed --- demanding to know for themselves that election results have been accurately recorded and reported. That's true even in cases where they have been blatantly lied to by, say, a disgraced, failed President of the United States. But post-election audits must be done in full public view from top to bottom, with all processes and evidence from the election kept within a transparent, well-documented, secure chain-of-custody at every step. Two ongoing post-election audits from the 2020 election are currently underway. One offers an example of exactly how not to do such a probe, the other one is shaping up to be a model for the nation.

Among the stories covered on today's BradCast [Audio link to show follows this summary]...

  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's scheme to hold a $1 million lottery each week for the next five weeks for any Buckeye Stater 18 and over who has received at least one COVID vaccine shot, appears to be working. While we've got a few suggestions on how it could have been done more effectively, at least it appears to have slowed and even reversed (for some ages) the state's recent drop-off in the number of folks getting their shots. As it turns out, Ohioans seem to like DeWine's plan to offer federal government-sponsored cash prizes (yes, socialism!) courtesy of the America Rescue Plan in exchange for receiving life-saving inoculation from a deadly disease. More states should consider the same and the federal government oughta just pay people to get their shots! We suspect a crisp $100 bill in exchange for a shot in the arm would do the trick. (By the way, Ohioans need to opt-in for the lottery, at OhioVaxAMillion.com, to be eligible for the prizes!)
  • Another direct benefit for Americans from the American Rescue Plan (Biden's emergency pandemic relief and stimulus bill adopted by Democrats while being VOTED DOWN BY EVERY SINGLE REPUBLICAN IN CONGRESS), is the expanded child tax credits which will, beginning in July, send monthly checks of $300 per child under 6, and $250 for kids between 6 and 17, to parents making less than $150,000 over the next year. If Americans liked the Democrats' $1,400 individual payments from the ARP, they may love its expanded child tax credits which start this summer. Experts say the payments are likely to help cut child poverty in half this year. Hopefully, Dems will remember to loudly remind Americans of all parties which party it was that made those payments possible, and which party attempted to prevent them. Democrats are not usually very good at that. And hopefully they'll be able to extend those payments through at least 2025 as Biden has proposed in his American Families Plan --- which Republicans also oppose.
  • Then it's back to the clown show "audit" theater in Maricopa County, Arizona, where the county's 2.1 million public ballots from the 2020 Presidential and Senatorial elections last year are being inspected, in secret, by a private company with no experience in elections, voting systems or audits named Cyber Ninjas. Now, it seems, the Ninjas and a number of their allegedly false claims made about the materials turned over to them by the County (as ordered by a state court in response to the Republican-controlled state Senate's mandate) were the final straw for the majority GOP Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and its new Republican County Recorder.

    On Monday, the 5-person Board (4 Rs, 1 D), denounced the audit as a "sham" and a "con," lamenting the "spectacle" that they say "is harming all of us" and turning Arizona into "a laughingstock". The new Republican County Recorder, Steven Richer, now in charge of elections in one of the nation's largest counties, blasted the Ninjas for what he describes as blatantly false claims that election databases were unlawfully deleted and for ensuring attacks on his new staff. The Board also sent a blistering 13-page letter [PDF] to the state Senate's President detailing their anger, frustration and embarrassment, calling for the audit to be ended, while responding to charges they claim to be lies coming out of process. The Maricopa "audit" is now in it's third week in Phoenix, but reportedly nowhere near complete.

  • Meanwhile, by way of a critical contrast, another post-election forensic audit is underway in Windham, New Hampshire, led by actual experts in post-election audits and voting systems. Unlike the evidence-free claims of fraud in AZ, there is reason to be alarmed by the results of a state House of Representatives race in the town of 14,000 people. There, on election night last November, in an 8-person race (4 Ds and 4 Rs) for 4 seats in the state House, all four Republican candidates won. According to the computer tabulations, they were the four top vote-getters for those seats, with the Democratic candidate, Kristi St. Laurent, coming in 5th by just 24 votes.

    Last November, after she requested a hand-count of the town's hand-marked paper ballots --- previously tallied only by 20-year old, easily manipulated, oft-failed Diebold optical scanners --- it was discovered that the 4 Republicans actually received about 300 more votes each than the tabulators had reported on Election Night. And St. Laurent, the hand-tally found, actually received 99 fewer votes than initially credited with. So what explains the discrepancy between the computer count and the hand count? That's what the auditors began to investigate last week in one of the most open, professional, well-documented and transparent such processes I've ever seen in my nearly twenty years on this beat.

    This week, the auditors explained --- via the live streaming audio and video coming out of the audit room, their own Twitter feed, as well as in interviews with local media --- their leading working theory that could explain the numbers seen one way (incorrectly) by the computer scanners and another way (correctly) by the hand-counters last November. Their working theory, if it bears out, would explain the disparity between the two separate tallies last November. We explain that theory today. And, no, unlike our disgraced former President's recent false claims about both Arizona and New Hampshire, the reasonable hypothesis does not involve "massive election fraud" with "thousands and thousands" of newly "found" ballots. It involves the scanners misreading folds on mail-in ballots as votes.

    But, of course, most critically, the side-by-side comparison of the clown show "audit" theater in Maricopa, which the public (and even local officials) are not allowed to fully oversee, versus the methodical, transparent, public process being carried out in Windham, should be an illustrative model for all future such probes. In the case of Windham, we are likely to have an answer to the mystery that everyone can agree with when all is said and done in the next few weeks. In Maricopa, I think its safe to say, little is expected to be settled one way or another after this ill-considered exercise is finally finished...if it ever is.

  • Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as calls grow for increased cybersecurity for the nation's energy infrastructure in the wake of last week's Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack; another pipeline company defies a shutdown order from a state Governor; and the EPA finally shuts down --- at least for now --- a disastrous, toxic mess of an oil refinery in the U.S. Virgin Islands...among other American disaster tales hastening our worsening climate crisis...

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Also: Ohio's $1M vaccine lottery; Greene bullies AOC in Congress; McGahn agrees to testify in House; Trump could soon face extradition...
By Brad Friedman on 5/13/2021 6:29pm PT  

We barely made it for today's BradCast, after a nightmarish computer crash. So, if today's show is an odd, disjointed mess that makes no sense at all, feel free to blame Microsoft. But if it's great, I'll take all the credit! [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

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

  • Huge news today from the CDC! "This is a great day for America," President Joe Biden proclaimed in the Rose Garden, after his mask free meeting with vaccinated Republicans in the Oval. The fully vaccinated may now take off their masks in most places both indoors and out, and end social distancing protocols, according to the CDC's surprise announcement. There are a few caveats, as we discuss, and, of course, even though this weekend marks two weeks since the second COVID shot for Desi and me (and the "fully vaccinated" status that comes with it), we've still got a few reservations.
  • Even the friends on Fox and Friends admit they are all vaxxed up now! But even that hasn't kept them from continuing to pump disinformation about vaccines into the veins and brains of their horrifically misinformed viewers.
  • The quest continues to get shots into arms of the hesitant --- many of whom not-coincidentally-at-all happen to be Republican male and Fox "News" viewers. Some GOP state Governors are now coming up with clever incentives. West Virginia's Jim Justice is offering $100 savings bonds to residents age 16 to 35 who get their shots. Ohio's Mike DeWine announced on Wednesday that vaxxed up Buckeye Staters will be eligible to win 1 million dollars in a lottery, five weeks in a row! (But why not 10 winners each week of $100,000? We discuss.) In both cases, the payoffs are coming courtesy of the federal government, via Joe Biden and the Democrats' American Rescue Plan, which no Republicans voted for. But it's nice to see Republican Governors enticing their residents with "socialist" cash prizes!
  • And then there's Georgia's embarrassing Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene who "aggressively confronted" New York's Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Wednesday night in the halls of Congress. She followed her, stalked her, and called her a "terrorist" and a "chicken" for refusing, apparently, to debate her about...whatever. It was some top-notch 5th grade level bullying, but nothing new for the loathsome Greene. Her caucus, apparently, has no problem with her behavior, even as they voted this week to remove Rep. Liz Cheney from her leadership position because she refuses to participate in the Big Lie about a stolen election and believes Donald Trump should be held accountable for inciting an insurrection on the U.S. Capitol.
  • And, yes, it was an insurrection, despite the attempts by House GOPers in recent days to pretend that it was not. (Here's some fresh video evidence if you need it.)
  • Speaking of accountability (or lack thereof), Politico offers a fascinating scoop today --- for some reason --- regarding extradition statutes in two different states in the event that, for example, someone who is staying at a resort in Palm Beach, Florida or Bedminster, New Jersey finds themselves criminally indicted by a District Attorney from Manhattan within the next few months. Hmmm....
  • And, speaking of a bit more accountability --- let's say, at the federal level --- on Wednesday night, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee struck a court-approved deal with the U.S. Dept. of Justice for Donald Trump's White House Counsel Don McGahn to finally answer his 2019 subpoena to testify about his starring role in the 448-page report [PDF] issued by Special Counsel Robert Mueller concerning at least 10 documented instances of apparent criminal obstruction by the disgraced former President. No extradition charges are needed for federal indictments...unless the perp flees the country.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report as the Colonial Pipeline restarts after a ransomware attack shut down the nation's largest pipeline network (and, yes, as I asserted in the GNR, we learned later today the company did pay a ransom to the hackers!); as gas hording Americans on the Eastern Seaboard have been panic-buying; as the Biden Administration greenlights the first major offshore wind farm in the U.S.; and as Tesla dumps Bitcoin due to its massive carbon footprint...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: 30-year former Leon County, FL elections chief, Ion Sancho; Also: L.A. County records zero COVID deaths two days in row while California infection, hospitalization, death rates fall dramatically...
By Brad Friedman on 5/4/2021 6:21pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we're happy to begin with just about the best news we could expect to stumble across these days. Happily, not everything goes down hill from there. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

There has been a stunning drop in COVID infections, hospitalization and death numbers in California. Just 15 deaths were reported on Monday across the entire state of 40 million people. Perhaps even more incredibly, ZERO deaths were reported in all of Los Angeles County --- the most populous in the nation, with 10 million people --- on either Sunday or Monday. We have not had two straight days here without COVID deaths in this County since the pandemic began in mid-March of 2020. Officials caution, however, that some of the drop in numbers could be due to slow reporting over the weekend.

Still, the Golden State is certainly doing something right, as both the state and L.A. County also clock in with among the lowest test positivity rates in the nation. Moreover, Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Monday that COVID-related hospitalizations are at their lowest, by far, since the pandemic began. (And, keep in mind that state Republicans are citing his handling of the pandemic as reason he should be recalled from office.)

But while California also has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country, like the rest of the nation, the number of shots being administered has fallen off sharply of late. Today, President Biden announced a plan to increase vaccine numbers, targeting adults who need more convincing; those who have struggled with availability; and, after expected FDA approval next week, adolescents aged 12 to 15. His new goal is deliver at least one dose to 70% of American adults by July 4th.

At the same time, the American Rescue Plan (adopted by Democrats in Congress without one single vote from any Republican) will now cover paid days off to get shots, as well as for the number of days needed to recover from them. The ARP has also dramatically lowered monthly health care premiums for those receiving federal subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). With, so far, wildly successful programs like the $1.9 trillion ARP, and hoped for passage of massive jobs and care bills like the proposed $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan and $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, which Repubs have vowed to obstruct as well, is it any wonder they hope to simply block grateful voters from being able to cast a vote at all in next year's elections?

Last week, on the heels of similar measures in states like Georgia and Iowa, GOP state lawmakers in Florida adopted yet another sweeping voter restriction bill, even after claiming a wildly successful and secure election in 2020, when Donald Trump won the state by 3 points. The new bill --- passed in the Senate last week on Florida's Confederate Memorial Day --- is expected to target new voters, younger voters and, specifically, African American voters. It restricts mail-in voting after GOP lawmakers had spent decades expanded it in Florida. To their chagrin, apparently, after years of no-excuse absentee voting being predominantly used by Republicans (including Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis last year), more Democrats than GOPers took advantage of the option during the 2020 election. Therefore, it must be cut back. With the Sunshine State's traditionally close statewide elections, GOP lawmakers went to work. Senate Bill 90 now requires long-time mail-in voters request such ballots every single election cycle. It mandates new ID requirements for even requesting such ballots, severely restricts the use of absentee drop-boxes, and adds many other restrictive measures, such as a provision to prevent the distribution of food or water to voters waiting in long lines in the hot Florida sun.

While some Republicans are now reportedly concerned that the measure may prevent many of their own voters from casting a vote, our guest today has an additional serious concern with SB90. We're joined again today by former 30-year Leon County (Tallahassee) elections chief, ION SANCHO, who cites the way this bill --- and others being adopted by GOPers around the country --- specifically targets elections officials with threats of job loss and fines. The Florida bill, in fact, authorizes a personal, $25,000 fine against County Supervisors of Elections (who are elected in the Sunshine State) for failing, in any way, to follow every provision of the state's ever-changing elections code, even in cases of emergencies that otherwise might prevent voters from being able to cast their ballots.

"The larger, unstated thing here that, quite frankly, bothers me the most --- not only about Florida, Georgia, Iowa or Arkansas, you name it, it's happening in Republican-dominated legislatures --- is the fact that this is an attack on non-partisan, professional elections administration, all across the country," Sancho tells me. "It didn't begin in 2020, but 2020 has clearly lit the fuse."

In addition to noting that SB 90 has "made it more difficult for ALL citizens to request a vote-by-mail ballot," Sancho observes that all of the new, unnecessary measures are "providing more hoops to jump through for citizens." But, in particular, he cites, "best practices for elections are being thrown out by Republican legislatures, who are now inserting themselves much more directly into the elections process --- a reversal of the trend that we saw in the latter half of the 20th century when citizens demanded fairer elections. The trend to try to professionalize and get a higher class of election officials that act on a fair and non-partisan basis, that's what's being attacked in all of this legislation. That's what's got me concerned."

All of it, he opines, is part of "The Big Lie" (Trump's unsubstantiated claims of massive fraud in the 2020 election he lost) now being used as cover to pass these new restrictions. "In fact, it is Gov. DeSantis, not the ex-President, who is pushing for these changes in Florida. He's on the ballot [in 2022], and the fact that a million and a half more citizens have registered to vote by mail as Democrats than Republicans has caused this attack on vote-by-mail balloting. Gov. DeSantis is, I will tell you, far sharper than our ex-President.  In my opinion, more vile, because he understands what he's doing. I'm not sure the ex-President did."

Sancho --- who was so well respected by his peers in Florida that he was selected by them to oversee Florida's eventually aborted statewide Presidential recount in 2000 --- also confirms that in that same year, Republicans sent absentee ballot applications to every single Republican in the state. Now, they are trying to shut down much of the entire process that made voting easier there, even for many of their own voters. "This continual erosion is, in my view, disgraceful, disgusting, and un-American. But it's happened, and we have to deal with this."

We have much to discuss on that front on today's program.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report, which, much as our program began, finishes things off with quite a bit of surprisingly very good news, this time for climate hawks...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Special election goes poorly for Dems in TX; The musical Marsh Family brighten our pandemic; Callers ring in on second shots...
By Brad Friedman on 5/3/2021 6:54pm PT  

After getting our second COVID vaccine shots on Friday, we return for today's BradCast. For Desi, it was mostly a breeze. For me, just a few hours after taking the photo at right, as discussed on today's show, it was a bit of a nightmare (if a worthwhile one) --- as explained today along with some special election news out of Texas and some disturbing exclusive information out of the 2020 election "audit" theater being carried out by Trump supporters in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

First up, news out of the Saturday special election in Texas' 6th Congressional District for a U.S. House seat left vacant by Republican Congressman Ron Wright, who died from COVID last December. His widow, Susan Wright, was the top vote-getter in the 23-person, all-parties race. And another Republican, GOP fundraiser and state Rep. Jake Ellzey reportedly came in second, narrowly edging out Democrat Jana Lynne Sanchez by less than half a percentage point. Sanchez conceded on Sunday in the contest where most votes were cast at polling places on 100 percent unverifiable touchscreens and none of the candidates came close to the 50 percent mark that they'd need to beat to avoid an upcoming runoff election for the seat. Dems hopes of expanding their narrow majority in the U.S. House were dashed with the loss in the mostly rural, reliably Republican district south of Dallas.

While there were no challenges to the unverifiable results in Texas with two Republicans winning, Trump supporters in Arizona continue their tax-payer funded [PDF], but privately-run "audit" of 2.1 million hand-marked paper ballots in Maricopa County, as we discussed last week in detail on the show with two experienced election auditors who had rare access inside the secret counting at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, while media were locked out. Late last week, in response to a state judge's order, the Florida tech firm --- a group named Cyber Ninjas, with no experience in either elections or voting systems, who were retained by the GOP-majority state Senate to carry out this unprecedented "audit" --- revealed a 191-page document [PDF] supposedly detailing their recount and forensic audit procedures. (Though in fact, as we also report, these procedures have been changed many times since the "audit" began over a week ago.)

Many questions, such as why they are running ballots through a UV light, are not answered by the documents, which the far-right group, whose leader has claimed last year's Presidential election was stolen (without offering actual evidence to support the claim), attempted to keep concealed as "trade secrets".

Other information was revealed, however, such as the group's process for tallying ballots which, as I explain today, would actually allow the group to add (yes, steal) a minimum of 42,000 votes for Trump, without ever raising any alarms or red flags in the group's internal procedures. That, in race that was decided statewide for Joe Biden by just over 10,000 votes.

Worse, because the Ninjas are keeping all of their daily counts and tally sheets secret from the public, there will be no way to know at the end of the process (if they even finish before they must leave their rented venue on May 14), how they actually derived their numbers or if they, in any way, match up with what the paid counters actually tallied.

In short, we support any citizens being allowed to examine ballots to determine if elections are accurately tabulated --- even extreme partisans. But their are rules that need to be minded to assure integrity of that process as well. The process currently under way in AZ is a joke. It is election "audit" theater. That's because there is zero real oversight by the public in place. And the state GOP Senate has forced the County Board of Supervisors (4 Rs and 1 D, who all opposed this privatized, tax-payer funded charade) to give up secure control of the actual ballots to the Ninjas, who could now do anything they want to them.

And while the documents are short on details on the group's actual tallying procedures, they are long on concerns about how "Antifa" might use extreme violence to attack the venue with firebombs and chemical weapons. Seriously. That's who these people are and how they think.

Finally, it was a looong weekend for me, after suffering from a couple of days of seemingly endless chills, fever and pounding headaches after receiving my second Moderna shot on Friday. For Desi, beyond a few mild aches and pains, it was a breeze. Still, it was in those horrible, fever dream moments that I came to appreciate how important it was for everyone to get their shots anyway. I knew I was lucky enough that whatever I was going through would not, in fact, be "endless", as it has been for so many unfortunate people who contracted the actual virus. So, I tell some truths about both what I went through (which media too often downplay), and why that made me happy --- not upset --- to have gone through it...and why you should too.

Also today, we share one of the great "parody" songs by the Marsh Family in Great Britain, who have become a bit of a sensation during the pandemic in the UK. Today's song is a beautiful, moving yet amusing take off on Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, directed toward vaccine skeptics, called Have the New Jab. I liken this adorable family to the Family Von Trapp of Sound of Music fame!

And then we open up the phone lines to listeners who have recently had their 2nd jabs, to hear how things went for them, and if it was more like my experience or Desi's...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest host Nicole Sandler with Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Ruth Bader Ginsberg's co-author Amanda L. Tyler...
By Nicole Sandler on 4/30/2021 4:34pm PT  

Brad & Desi are out today. They’re getting their second Moderna vaccine. Hopefully any side effects they get will be long gone by Monday. Anyway, that's why it's me here today, NICOLE SANDLER once again guest hosting The BradCast.

After a look at the latest news, we salute great American women today! I was inspired Wednesday night by the sight of the first female VP sitting behind the President at the (not) State of the Union address, next to the first female Speaker of the House. Their elbow bump was historic!

So today, I feature two fabulous powerful female guests.

First up is Democratic SEN. MAZIE HIRONO of Hawaii. She just released her first book, Heart of Fire: An Immigrant Daughter’s Story. She’s become one of the more outspoken Senators on the Dem side in her second term. She's up for re-election again in 2024.

If I had to pick one American woman alive during my lifetime who I’d like to interview, it's hands down Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Obviously, that's no longer possible. But in her final months, Ginsburg enlisted one of her former clerks, now a law professor at UC Berkeley, AMANDA L. TYLER to help her compile her swansong.

The book, attributed to both women, Justice, Justice Thou Shalt Pursue: A Life's Work Fighting for a More Perfect Union, is a collection of Ginsburg's lectures, briefs, oral arguments and Supreme Court decisions that she felt best represented her body of work...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...




Guests: Salon's Heather Digby Parton, Pro Left Podcast's 'Driftglass'...
By Brad Friedman on 4/29/2021 5:46pm PT  

Last month on The BradCast, after Joe Biden signed his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan with emergency COVID relief and stimulus for the poor and middle class, we suggested that passage of that bill would likely be seen in history as the beginning of the end of the Reagan Era. Now, it appears, we're hardly the only ones. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Since that wildly popular landmark measure was adopted (without a single Republican vote), Biden has proposed a $2.25 trillion infrastructure package called the American Jobs Plan. And, on Wednesday night, he officially introduced his $1.8 trillion American Families Plan proposal for perhaps the nation's largest-ever investment in human infrastructure, including free access to pre-school, two years of community college, subsidies for child care, paid family leave, expanded health care subsidies and child tax credits and much more.

With Reaganesque optimism during his first address to a joint session of Congress, citing a statistic published in a report by one of our guests earlier this year (Chuck Collins of the Institute for Policy Studies) finding that just 650 billionaires in America saw their own net worth increase by a trillion dollars as 20 million Americans lost jobs during the pandemic, the President pounded what could become a final nail in the Reagan Era coffin, declaring: "My fellow Americans, trickle down economics has never worked and it's time to grow the economy from the bottom and the middle out."

We're joined today, on Biden's 100th day as President, by HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo, and by 'DRIFTGLASS' of the The Professional Left Podcast, for analysis of his stunningly-well received remarks (even by Republicans) on Wednesday night and his pitch for an extraordinarily bold and long-overdue government investment in the American people.

Says Digby, on how we arrived at this moment: "We've just been reminded that we need government, because look what happened. We had this pandemic and having the freak show that had been sort of entertaining like a horror show for the last four years, it suddenly became pretty clear what the problem was with that. Because when you really need government, it wasn't there. They were completely out to lunch. For a lot of people in this country, they're out their floundering under this trickle-down, rugged individualism. This is what it's like when you're left completely on your own."

Says Driftglass, mocking GOP rhetoric of the past forty years: "If you're not rich, it's your own fault, and the only thing standing in the way of being the best you is this evil government. [But] suddenly, a whole bunch of people absolutely have to have assistance from the government or their going to die, or go broke, or they're going to go out of business.  And the only thing Republicans had to offer was a sneer...So, there's this literally once-in-a-hundred years crisis, where the actual effect of good government is so visible, right now, that you can now make the case credibly that there are other large problems that we have ignored and disinvested in for decades that we need to fix."

Even for longtime, cynical, old-school progressive bloggers like us --- none of whom had supported Biden during last year's primaries --- we are all pleasantly taken aback at his remarkably ambitious plans and expansive proposed agenda. We discuss, dissect and debate all of that, how it should or shouldn't be "paid for", and whether any of it can possibly be adopted into law with the exceedingly narrow majorities Democrats currently hold in Congress on today's special coverage edition of The BradCast...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Columnist Will Bunch on the need for institutional policing reform; Also: DoJ to probe MPD after Floyd murder; Biden meets 200M COVID vaccine goal, will now pledge to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030...
By Brad Friedman on 4/21/2021 6:28pm PT  

It's turning out to be Policing Week on The BradCast for some odd reason...even as a police helicopter circled above our studio here in L.A. for most of today's show. We don't think they were there for us, but apologies for any unexpected noise throughout. [Audio link to full show follows below summary.]

Speaking of policing, Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday announced a Dept. of Justice "pattern or practice" probe of the Minneapolis Police Department, the day after a jury found former MPD officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts of murder and manslaughter for his killing of George Floyd last year. Garland explained that "yesterday’s verdict in the state criminal trial does not address potentially systemic policing issues in Minneapolis," but that the DoJ investigation could result in mandated changes if the federal agency finds systemic abuses in the MPD's use of force policies, including that deployed against protesters.

Garland may need to expand that probe to neighboring Brooklyn Center, MN and to the Minnesota State Patrol after their outrageous behavior during the past week of protests in response to the police killing of 20-year old black motorist Duane Wright. In addition to the use of pepper spray, tear gas and paintballs against protesters, similar tactics were used on media attempting to cover the demonstrations and what our guest today describes as "police riots". In addition to being directly sprayed and gassed and beaten up, members of the media on Friday were forced to lie face down on the ground so that cops could photograph their media credentials, drivers licenses and faces. The violence deployed against the press exercising their First Amendment rights in Brooklyn Center was particularly egregious coming just hours after a court order --- in a case filed by the ACLU after press mistreatment during the George Floyd protests last year --- specifically barred police from "arresting, threatening to arrest, or threatening/using physical force" against members of the media.

But, as our guest today, longtime Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News national columnist WILL BUNCH noted in a recent column referencing the violence against press and protesters in Brooklyn Center that is making us all "less safe," none of this should be a surprise. "Officers in the Minneapolis suburb --- just 10 miles or so from the corner where Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on the neck of a dying George Floyd...-- raised a version of the 'thin blue line' flag over their embattled station house, which was their bold and outrageously arrogant signal that Brooklyn Center was about to become some kind of Alamo for racist, oppressive policing in America."

We discuss all of the above and much more with Bunch today, who explains that he has been "very focused on the institution of policing in this country" of late, "because there's a school of thought in this country that if we just weed out the bad apple cops --- and Derek Chauvin being Exhibit A --- if we just weed out the handfuls of Derek Chauvins, that policing will be great in America, and that's just not the case."

Given the seemingly endless stream of appalling videos, revealing more killings by police each day, and broad calls for nationwide policing reform, we've got much to talk about on today's program. After "some accountability" in Minneapolis on Tuesday, the long "arc of the moral universe" continues to "bend toward justice," even if, as Bunch notes, it continues to take an intolerably long time for too many Americans.

"One reason why I focus on these police abuses of the media," Bunch tells me, is "if this is how they treat people who have cameras, who have the megaphone of working for a large news organization and can tell the world about what happened to them, if this is how they treat people who are clearly marked as journalists, and if they have half a brain and know that they will write or publish pictures of what happened to them, how do you think they're treating citizens when there are no cameras? Or citizens who don't have the power of the New York Times or the AP or other news organizations to tell their story? If they're doing this to reporters, what they're doing to regular citizens is almost certainly going to be worse."

Finally, we close with some slightly brighter news today from the White House. First, Joe Biden appears to have met his doubled-down goal of 200 million COVID vaccine shots during his first 100 days in office. That landmark was reached today, he said, on his 92nd day.

But, as that promise was met, Biden is preparing to unleash an even more ambitious goal on Earth Day tomorrow, according to AP. During a two-day virtual climate summit hosted by the White House, the President will pledge to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 %below 2005 levels by 2030, with the ultimate goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The news was met with huge plaudits from many (if not all) climate scientists and environmental groups, as appropriate to mitigate the growing dangers our climate emergency and for meeting the Paris Climate Agreement goal of limiting warming to what would be a catastrophic 1.5 degrees Celsius global rise. Of course, that also means that fossil fueled wingnut heads are already exploding in the Republican Party and at Fox "News". So, let the explosions begin! We could use a good laugh these days...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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