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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, December 9, 2021
Pandemic Inflation Profit-eering and What Can Be Done About It: 'BradCast' 12/8/21
Guest: American Prospect's David Dayen; Also: Omicron lab studies suggest booster shots critical; Congressional priorities laid bare...
Fixing the Electoral Count Act of 1887 BEFORE It's Used to Try and Steal ANOTHER Election: 'BradCast' 12/7/21
Guest: Paul Lehto; Also: Biden v Putin; U.S. v China; Meadows v House; DoJ v TX...
'Green News Report' 12/7/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Climate change is changing Western forests, mountain snowpack; December heat wave breaks records, sparks late-season fires; PLUS: Oil giant ditches drilling project in Scotland...
Previous GNRs: 12/2/21 - 11/30/21 - Archives...
Biden's Media Coverage Confirmed Worse Than Trump's. Why Would That Be?: 'BradCast' 12/6/21
Also: DoJ sues TX for gerrymanders; Omicron more/less dangerous than known; Callers...
Sunday 'Morale Booster' Toons
It's another shot in the arm from PDiddie in his latest collection of the week's best toons!...
Partisan Gerrymander Fights in State Courts and Debating Tit-for-Tat Dem Redistricting: 'BradCast' 12/3/21
Guest: Univ. of KY's Joshua A. Douglas; Also: Media mislead again on new jobs numbers...
When Wingnuts Collide!:
'BradCast' 12/2/21
Trump grifters turn on each other from 'Stop the Steal' world to Congress, as legal probs and death threats mount and laughter ensues...
'Green News Report' 12/2/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
2021 hurricane season ends, and it was a costly; U.S. world's biggest plastic polluter; Big breakthrough on EV charging; PLUS: A ray of sunshine for monarch butterflies...
Previous GNRs: 11/30/21 - 11/18/21 - Archives...
SCOTUS Set to Cancel Abortion Rights; GOP Set to Steal 2024: 'BradCast' 12/1/21
Guest: Kenny Bruno on 'DEFCON for Democracy'; Also: 4th student dies in MI...
NLRB Orders New Amazon Unionization Vote in AL: 'BradCast' 11/30/21
Guest: Labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein; Also: Fed Appeals Court hears Trump case for blocking 1/6 docs; Meadows said 'cooperating' with 1/6 Comm...
'Green News Report' 11/30/21
While we were out -- 52 killed in Russian coal mine; Water scarcity unrest in Iran; Biden opens Strategic Oil Reserve; Seattle's wettest fall ever; PLUS: Much MUCH more...
Worry, Don't Worry and/or be Thankful: 'BradCast' 11/29/21
We're back! With REAL news on the economy, COVID, Ukraine and more. Plus: Callers on all of the above...
More Thanksgiving Leftover Toons
Overstuff yourself with PDiddie's still tasty SECOND HELPING of T-Day week toons!...
Leftover Turkey Toons
Delicious toons with all the trimmings in PDiddie's Turkey Day toon collection...
Sunday 'Friendsgiving' Toons
PDiddie's latest festive collection! Because that's what toons are for...
There'd Be No Trucker Short-age If Industry Took Care of Drivers: 'BradCast' 11/19/21
Guest: Nicolas Rivero of Quartz; Also: House passes BBB; VA school board unbans books; Recounts will determine control of VA House...
'Green News Report' 11/18/21
Deadly extreme flooding in Pacific NW; Admin's contro-versial oil and gas lease sale; FTC to probe Big Oil corr-uption; PLUS: Biden in Detroit on American-made EVs...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Guest: Nicolás Rivero of Quartz; Also: House finally passes Biden BBB agenda, hard part waits in Senate; VA school board unbans books; Fight for majority control of VA House of Delegates not over yet...
By Brad Friedman on 11/19/2021 7:00pm PT  

Apparently it's another myth busting episode of The BradCast today. It would be nice if lousy reporting from the corporate media --- particularly regarding the economy --- didn't make these so frequently necessary of late. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up today, a few other stories of note today...

  • The 17-year old white kid who crossed a state border into Kenosha, Wisconsin to unlawfully wield a semi-automatic weapon before using it to shoot three anti-racism protesters, killing two of them, was acquitted of all charges today. So, we guess it's now open season to shoot anyone ya like, as long as you claim it was done in self-defense. And, yes, as long as you're white.
  • Democrats in the U.S. House finally came together today to pass the Build Back Better Act, President Biden's nearly $2 trillion landmark spending bill to expand healthcare, childcare, education, eldercare and much MUCH more, including the most substantive action to combat the global climate crisis in the history of the nation. Every Republican in the chamber voted against it. The transformative legislation includes scores and scores of long-overdue provisions that, if virtually any one of them were passed on their own as a standalone bill, it would be, to paraphrase the President, a BFD. But, of course, while getting it through the House took months, that was the easy part. Now, the crowning achievement of Biden's agenda will have to get through the U.S. Senate, where, without any Republican votes, all 50 Senators who caucus with the Democrats will have to sign off on in order to pass it under Senate budget reconciliation rules. That means obstructionist Democrats like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema may feel free to water it down further than they already have, or kill it all together. We'll find out what happens when the upper chamber picks up the measure, after the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • A few days ago, we reported on the Spotsylvania County, Virginia School Board's 6 to 0 vote last week to begin removing certain books from their school's libraries after a debate about whether they should ban the books or both ban and burn them. It was one of several stories we highlighted to underscore the unmistakable drumbeat of rising authoritarianism in our country right now. But, at least on that story, there is some good news this week. Democracy struck back! After 4 and a half hours of public comment at the Board's subsequent meeting this week, cut off only because it was midnight, the Board voted to reverse it's ban! Though the Board's two book burning proponents stood their ground, they lost in a 5 to 2 vote. All thanks to excellent local media reporting and a huge turnout from teachers, librarians, parents and teachers who spoke passionately in favor of libraries and books while calling for the book burners to resign.
  • Following up on another story we covered earlier this week, on the media's horrifically misleading reporting on inflation, we share part of a Paul Waldman excellent column from WaPo that sounds as if it could have been ripped straight from The BradCast's coverage that day, myth busting the very same issues that we did.
  • Then, picking up on a related-ish myth that needs busting as well this week, we're joined by NICOLÁS RIVERO of Quartz, to discuss his recent myth-busting, deep-dive reporting on our current, pre-Christmas, "post-pandemic" supply chain issues and why, despite no shortage of bad reporting on this, a shortage of truck drivers is not actually to blame.

    In fact, the industry has been claiming virtually every year since 2005 (and, really, going back to the late 1980s as Rivero documents), that they have a shortage of drivers. Last month, the American Trucking Associations announced a shortage of 80,000 drivers, declaring it "an all-time high for the industry." That, despite the fact that states issue more than 450,000 new commercial driver's licenses every year. Something doesn't add up here. At the same time, as Rivero tells me today, "between 1995 and 2017, the turnover rate at big trucking companies averaged 94%," according to the industry's own data. "That means that every year, they are refilling the equivalent of virtually every driving position, because people are quitting and leaving."

    "The real shortage," he explains, is not of truckers, but "of good trucking jobs that can attract and retain workers in a tight labor market." So, why isn't supply keeping up with demand in that supposedly free market? Rivero discusses the industry's "race to the bottom," leading drivers to take equal or better paying jobs elsewhere that don't come with all of the burdens --- especially for long-haulers --- the industry now forces onto their drivers.

    We also discuss the trucker's unions' part in all of this, and how --- and if --- Biden's new infrastructure bill might actually improve the situation, for drivers, for the industry and, yes, for our "post-pandemic" supply chain woes.

  • Finally, in our closing few minutes (before standing down to hit the road ourselves for the holiday next week!), the fight for control of the Virginia House of Delegates may not be as over as it appeared almost three weeks ago, when Republicans were declared by media to have taken the majority back from the Democrats during the off-year elections. A very close race in one district and a tallying error in another very close race (leading the Dem who currently holds that seat to withdraw her concession), has now resulted in two upcoming recounts. Republicans will control 50 seats in the 100-seat chamber. The question is now whether the GOP will control the chamber outright or --- long shot as it may be --- if both races flip to the Democrats resulting in a 50-50 power sharing agreement. Luckily, the commonwealth recently moved from 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems to hand-marked paper ballots. So a fair, overseeable count of voter intent is now possible in the state where Republican Glenn Youngkin was declared the winner in the Gubernatorial race and Republicans swept the other two statewide races on November 2nd for Lt. Governor and Attorney General.

We'll be watching over the holidays, even as 'The BradCast' and 'GNR' stand down next week for a much needed recharge of batteries and some long-overdue family time. We'll see ya after the holiday! Desi and I both hope it will be a healthy and happy one for all!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Dems continue legislative struggle to protect voting rights, Repubs face new legal woes for trying to steal 2020; Also: More results from 2021 elections; Progress at U.N. climate summit in Glasgow...
By Brad Friedman on 11/4/2021 6:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast": Despite what you may hear from certain elements of the media, the differences between the two parties when it comes to democracy and voting rights could not be more stark. Democrats are currently trying (and still failing, so far) in Congress, to protect voting rights for all voters. Republicans, meanwhile, are undermining those most basic of American rights around the country, even while facing mounting legal problems for having been gullible enough to play along with Donald Trump's Big Lie effort to steal the 2020 election. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But we've got a lot more than that on today's program. Among the many stories covered...

  • More ballot initiative results from Tuesday's off-year elections, including out of Tucson, Arizona where voters, by a nearly 2 to 1 margin, approved a new minimum wage of $15/hour. The victory for some 85,000 workers in the state's Democratic stronghold comes just months after its Senior Senator, Kyrsten Sinema, infamously thumbs-downed her own parties efforts to raise the federal minimum wage nationally to $15/hour. Hoping she noticed what happened in Tucson on Tuesday, because we're betting the folks in Tucson noticed her thumbs-down.
  • In New York state, all three election and voting rights reform propositions placed on the ballot by the Democratic legislature failed by wide margins. Republicans opposed all three and mounted an aggressive campaign to defeat them. Prop 1 involved redistricting reform. Prop 3 would have allowed same-day registration. Prop 4 would have allowed for no-excuse absentee voting in the Empire State. We discussed all three with two longtime NY election integrity advocates last week. Even though there was disagreement on several of measures, it's still a bit of a surprise that all three went down. That, even as Prop 2, a very progressive proposition on the same ballot establishing "the Right to clean air, water and a healthful environment" in the state's Constitution, did pass, by a more than 2 to 1 margin. Hmmm.
  • On Wednesday, back in D.C., a Senate vote on whether to proceed to debate on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act --- which restores much of what the U.S. Supreme Court has gutted in recent years from the Voting Rights Act of 1965 --- was blocked by Republicans. All Democrats voted in favor (including Joe Manchin) and even one Republican for a change (Lisa Murkowski). But as with the similarly Manchin-approved Freedom to Vote Act two weeks ago, a majority vote was not enough to overcome yet another GOP filibuster in the U.S. Senate, requiring 60 votes to even move to debate. So now we seem to be getting to the point where both Manchin and Sinema may need to put up or shut up on reforming the filibuster to allow for passage of these bills to help save democracy itself. In the meantime, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) are vowing to "restore the Senate", whatever that may end up meaning, in order to push election and voting reform through. We'll see if that happens, because...
  • ...As New York Times reports late today, the Democrats' big money donors are getting restless. They are whining that Joe Biden isn't giving them enough attention (good!) and that they are very unhappy about the party's seeming inability to adopt critical voting rights legislation. One major donor has gone so far as to vow to withhold any more money until election reform is passed. The pressure, even from wealthy donors, is welcome and could be helpful. Though what they believe President Biden is actually able to do if two intransigent Democratic Senators refuse to change Senate rules for passage is a separate question. Hopefully these donors also give to Manchin and Sinema and are cutting them off as well while they refuse to stand up and do the right thing for the country.
  • On the other side of the political aisle, it's just nothing but ugly when it comes to democracy. Though some of our stories today may be worth popping some popcorn for. The Smartmatic voting tech company filed two new lawsuits on Wednesday against two "right-wing U.S. television networks," as Reuters properly describes them. One America News (OAN) and Newsmax are being sued for false claims made against the company, including that Smartmatic --- which doesn't have any election business in the U.S. at all other than a recent contract in Los Angeles County --- helped steal the election from Donald Trump in 2020. (And, yes, the fact that Smartmatic was brought into this at all is largely thanks to my series of exclusives from some years ago involving that company and its competitor Dominion Voting Systems, which Trump's dupes have happily misinterpreted and bastardized for their dumb corrupt purposes. You're welcome!) The two complaints are the latest billion dollar lawsuits filed by both Smartmatic and Dominion against the two right-wing networks, Fox "News", as well as Trump friends and attorneys like Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and Pillow Guy Mike Lindell. We wish them all the worst of luck.
  • Even wingnut Erick Erickson has had enough of the "Stop the Steal" falderal --- at least when he's drunk enough to say so after his party won a few elections on Tuesday night. His rant to his fellow Republicans includes stuff like this: "You idiots have spent a year peddling the fiction the 2020 election was stolen because you were so busy humping Trump's leg that you never really even tried to convince persuadable voters to vote. ... either admit the election wasn't stolen or STFU from here on out. ... And if you really have clung to the 2020 was stolen mythology that lets you sleep well at night as a professional victim, please unfriend me and unfollow me because your presence is needed in Neverland and not here in reality."
  • And, back in Arizona, the GOP-controlled Senate appears to be threatening and/or turning on the Cyber Ninjas they hired for their pretend audit of Maricopa County's 2020 election earlier this year. Or, at least, they are play-acting as much for the benefit of a judge as the Senate is facing potential sanctions for failing to turn over public documents related to the phony audit which claims to have found that Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump by an even larger margin than originally certified in the state. But, as it turns out, even those numbers appear to have been "made up out of whole cloth" by the Ninjas, according to experts who looked a bit closer. This could get ugly. At least we hope so.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen's got some seemingly good news for us coming out of the critical U.N. Climate Conference in Glasgow, Scotland in our latest Green News Report, along with results of a number of environment and climate related issues that were on the ballot across the country in Tuesday's off-year elections...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 11/4/2021 11:29am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Major agreements on methane, deforestation, climate finance and more at U.N. COP26 climate summit; Critical world conference now moves into difficult negotiating phase; PLUS: 2021 off-year elections in U.S. deliver a mixed bag for the environment... 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!
PLEASE CLICK HERE TO HELP US CELEBRATE WITH A DONATION!

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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Half world's fossil fuel assets could become worthless by 2036 in net zero transition; The EPA allows polluters to turn neighborhoods into "sacrifice zones"; Countries have failed to adapt for unavoidable climate damage; 10 Facebook publishers responsible for nearly 70 percent of climate change denial content; Banks 'being let off hook by weak climate regulation'; The Dalles sues to keep Google’s water use a secret... PLUS: This US city just voted to decarbonize every building... and much, MUCH more! ...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Guest: John Nichols of The Nation on what went right and wrong; Also: E-Pollbook failures in NJ open door for loser to challenge results...
By Brad Friedman on 11/3/2021 6:24pm PT  

Today on BradCast: No, Tuesday's off-year elections were not nearly as disastrous for Democrats as the national media seems to want to insist. But there were both red flag warnings and important lessons they should absolutely pay attention to, and quickly. There were also wholly avoidable voting system failures which, unfortunately, open the door for some results to be challenged. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, the latest summary on the marquee Gubernatorial races that seemed to encompass the entirety of the national media's coverage on Tuesday and into Wednesday. In Virginia, decades of modern history repeated itself, as the party that didn't win the White House last year appears to have taken control of the Governor's mansion this year. Trump-endorsed businessman and first-time candidate Glenn Youngkin was declared the narrow winner over VA's Democratic former Gov. Terry McCauliffe, after Youngkin dog-whistled his kinder, gentler not-Donald-Trump-at-all act into office.

His campaign leaned heavily on pretend, Fox "News"-generated phony outrage issues like opposition to teaching Critical Race Theory in public schools, even though there are no public schools in VA who actually teach it. But fake issues are much easier for Republicans to run on than the unpopular ones they actually support. So, with that, it appears Republicans may also have narrowly taken back majority control of the Commonwealth's House of Delegates, though those final numbers were still too close to call as of airtime.

In New Jersey, it appears that history will not repeat itself. Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy was declared the unofficial winner by media outlets late during today's show. If officially certified, Murphy will have defeated Republican John Ciaterelli to become the first Democrat to win a second term in the Garden State since the 1970s. But Ciaterelli made clear on Election Night that he plans to challenge the results. Reported electronic pollbook failures across the state on Tuesday (little noticed by most of the media, though we covered the pretty serious issue in some detail on our previous BradCast) may well give him an opening to mount such a challenge --- not that Republican election challengers these days generally need real problems to buttress false claims of fraud when they lose. If Murphy ends up falling behind again, he too could use the failure in his own contest.

We detail what appears to have happened across the state, preventing many voters from being able to vote at the polls for several hours on Tuesday morning, and why we've been warning about issues exactly like this for years when it comes to electronic voting, tabulation and pollbook issues that continue to threaten democracy itself.

But while many Democrats have been beside themselves since the polls closed on Tuesday night, wondering where they went wrong --- at least in those statewide contests --- in truth, if you dig below the national headlines, progressives had a bunch of victories on Tuesday in local races and on ballot initiatives.

We're joined today by one of our favorite post-election guests (following both good and bad nights for Democrats over the years), progressive champion, JOHN NICHOLS, Washington Correspondent for for The Nation, longtime contributor to The Progressive and Associate Editor of Madison, Wisconsin's Capital Times. We try to make sense of where both Dems and national media went both right and wrong during both the election and its aftermath. Why, for example, in both VA and NJ, where Democrats held control and adopted a host of very popular progressive policies in the past several years, did they have such a difficult time turning that record into victories yesterday? We also discuss several progressive wins that flew beneath the radar, and what Dems in D.C. and across the nation should take from what happened on Tuesday.

Finally, we close with a boatload of under-reported progressive wins in Tuesday's elections across the country, including historic mayoral victories from Boston to Pittsburgh to Albuquerque to Cincinnati to Durham, NC and beyond, along with a number of local ballot initiatives that defy the media narrative of the past 24 hours which seems to be arguing that Dems must immediately start acting more like Republicans if they hope to have any chance of victory during next year's critical 2022 mid-terms...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Vote system failure in NJ; Another GOP gerrymander in OK; Too many Atlantic storms; Major climate deals in Glasgow; Breakthrough deal on drug pricing in Senate; NYC's vax mandate working well so far at NYPD...
By Brad Friedman on 11/2/2021 5:49pm PT  

Millions are voting around the country on Tuesday. Governors, Mayors, school boards and various initiatives are on the ballot (along with a couple of Special U.S. House elections) in a whole bunch of states in this year's off-year elections. Full results, such as we might have them, on tomorrow's BradCast. But for today, as voters vote (or try to), elected officials were making some pretty big and important and long-overdue deals today, from D.C. to Glasgow. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

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

  • The extreme partisan gerrymandering in states controlled by Republicans continues apace, with Oklahoma the latest to propose cracking a major Dem stronghold into three pieces in order to squeeze out another GOP House member for the next decade in the already very "red" state. All of that made much easier in states that, prior to the 2020 Census, had to win approval for new maps from the federal Government under the Voting Rights Act. The GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court majority has helpfully done away with that little annoyance in advance of 2022 and 2024.
  • Thanks to lighter off-year election turnout and measures enacted before and during the pandemic to make early and remote access to the ballot box easier, we're not hearing about too many voting problems today so far...except for in New Jersey, where electronic pollbooks reportedly failed across the state for several hours when polls opened. Unclear if there were backup paper pollbooks available, but as one outlet reported: "When the Internet would go down, the machines would crash."
  • For the second year in a row --- and the third time in history (the first time was in 2005) --- the National Weather Service has once again run through all of the names in the alphabet for named Atlantic storms. With the naming of Subtropical Storm Wanda over the weekend, we are turning to the supplemental name set, which is starting over from "A" this year. Unlike last year, they won't be using letters from the Greek alphabet which seems to have confused a whole bunch of us. But the increasing number of storms is the real worry, despite absurd, years-ago-debunked climate change denialist talking points still coming out from the fossil fuel-sponsored Republicans in Congress.
  • With the critical U.N. Climate Summit (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland now officially underway, President Biden officially apologized to the world for Donald Trump pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Climate agreement, during his four disastrous years as President. (The U.S. was the only country, out of about 200 across the world, to withdraw from the pact.) Now that we're back in, two fairly big agreements were struck in the conference's opening days. One to stop and reverse deforestation and another to cut climate warming methane emissions by 30% by 2030. The first was signed on to by more than 100 countries, including the U.S., UK, China, Russia and Brazil. The second did not yet win the support of China or Russia, but the others, including Brazil, seem to be in. The agreements are pretty big deals, as Desi Doyen explains today --- even if there is much more work that must be done at this two week summit.
  • Speaking of big deals, apparently another big one was struck in the U.S. Senate between Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) and all of the other Democrats to lower prescription drug prices in Biden's Build Back Better bill. The details are still not fully known, but the agreement will allow "lower prescription drug prices for seniors and families," according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. The seemingly interminable negotiations continue on the BBB, but that news from Sinema and some encouraging remarks today from the other Democratic obstructionist, Joe Manchin (WV) are hopeful signs today, as Mitch McConnell makes clear that he is rooting for Sinema and Manchin to gut the (currently) $1.75 trillion social safety net and climate change legislation.
  • After anti-vax alarmists had warned for weeks that as many as 10,000 cops would be lost from the NYPD once Mayor Bill deBlasio's vaccine mandate kicked in on November 1, it turns out the number of uniformed police placed on unpaid leave was much smaller. As of Monday, the number was 34, or 0.15 percent of NYPD employees. Over the past week, NYPD's vaccination rate jump 15 points to 85 percent. As evidence from other states and industries reveals, mandates work.
  • Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report as host UK's Prime Minister Boris Johnson opens COP26 with a dramatic flair; as the U.S. House calls Big Oil on the carpet for decades of climate lies; and as the corrupted U.S. Supreme Court agrees to review a case that could dismantle the EPA's authority to regulate dangerous greenhouse gas emissions...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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FL blocks Univ. of Florida profs from serving as expert witnesses in lawsuits against the state; SCOTUS may be having second thoughts about TX' unconstitutional anti-abortion law; And more chilling stories of democracy dying before our eyes...
By Brad Friedman on 11/1/2021 6:23pm PT  

The through-line for today's BradCast comes courtesy of Meathead. Actor and director Rob Reiner was arguing, via Twitter over the weekend, that "until Donald Trump is prosecuted for leading a deadly Insurrection to overthrow the Government and Voting Rights are passed," we are witnessing the death of Democracy.

He was much more correct than he may have realized. But the stories we cover today --- only half of those we had hoped to get today, and none of which directly covered the two issues Reiner was referring to --- underscore that theme. If it's not immediately obvious, tune into today's show to find out how.

Among the stories covered, discussed, explained, warned about, expounded and ranted upon on today's program (along with listener calls throughout)...

  • Election Day is Tuesday in states across the country. As discussed last week, democracy itself is on the ballot in New York state. But most attention on Tuesday has been going to Virginia, where Trump-endorsed Gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin has now taken a lead in FiveThirtyEight's pre-election polling average over VA's former Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe. We explain why history is on Youngkin's side. Perhaps by Wednesday we'll find out if the voters in Virginia are as well, as democracy is not yet dead (hopefully) in some pockets of the nation.
  • In Florida, a simply remarkable and, yes, chilling story. The University of Florida has barred three professors --- each one an expert in democracy and voting rights (two of whom have appeared on The BradCast multiple times over the years) --- from testifying as expert witnesses for the plaintiffs in a challenge to the state's new voter suppression law passed earlier this year. The measure, signed on Fox "News" by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, surrounded by Trump supporters and with local media locked out entirely, restricts the use of drop-boxes for absentee ballots, while making it more difficult to obtain Vote-by-Mail ballots and harder to register to vote, among other democracy killing provisions. The university (whose Board of Trustees is headed up by a close DeSantis confidante and major GOP donor) claims that testifying against a state law would represent a conflict of interest for UF. That's an idea that is unheard of, frankly, and would prevent experts in their fields from being able to testify on their expertise in states in which they live and work. The same profs were never prevented from doing so in the past and experts on academic freedom describe this novel notion as unprecedented. A lawsuit seeking the review of documents from DeSantis on this matter, to determine his involvement in the University's decision, was filed on Friday.
  • At the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, the new "unprecedented" anti-abortion law in Texas, barring the otherwise Constitutionally protected medical procedure after just six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even known they are pregnant, was heard on SCOTUS' rocket docket just two months after they'd allowed it to take effect in the Lone Star State. The matter in question is whether a case filed by abortion providers in the state and another by the U.S. Department of Justice should be allowed to proceed, despite the virtually unquestioned matter of the new state law, S.B. 8, violating Roe v. Wade. The reason the question even arises is because Texas purposely structured the law in a way that hopes to side-step any and all judicial review of the law. That is done by the statute empowering members of the public with a right to file a civil lawsuit against anyone who, in any way, aids a woman in receiving an abortion after six weeks. Under S.B. 8, plaintiffs may even sue an Uber driver who brought a woman to a clinic, for at least $10,000, and the State argues that because they are not enforcing the law, members of the public are doing so, the law cannot be challenged in either federal or state court.

    But even far-right Republican Justice Brett Kavanaugh (and, of course, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan) was able to put two and two together during today's hearing to realize that if this type of law is allowed to go forward, states could adopt laws that effectively outlawed many other long-settled Constitutional rights, and avoid judicial oversight in the bargain. So, yes, California could adopt a law similar to S.B. 8 that makes owning a gun a civil violation for which anyone in the public could sue a gun owner for, say, a million dollars. Are the Justices on the High Court --- who allowed this law to take effect two months ago, ending almost all abortions for now in TX --- sure they want the nation to go down this path?

  • One of the other several stories we quickly covered of democracy dying today, referenced the newly gerrymandered maps for the four U.S. House seats in Iowa. Last week, after Republicans rejected a new map that would have split the state into two districts that voted for Biden last year and two that voted for Trump, they instead approved a second version of a map in which Trump won all four districts. One expert in redistricting describes the new maps as "a dream Republican map." Yes. That is yet another way in which democracy dies...unless we fight like hell to prevent it from doing so.

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Guest: Heather Digby Parton of Salon and Hullabaloo; Also: Here we go again! Another QAnon GOP election clerk steals another voting system!...
By Brad Friedman on 10/29/2021 6:16pm PT  

Rogue Republicans and rogue Democrats on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, the rogue --- and really dumb --- Republican in Michigan's Adams Township. The Township Clerk there, Stephanie Scott, was elected last November and is certain that the election must have been fraudulent, even though she won and Trump was certified as defeating Joe Biden in the County by 48 points. (That's more than Trump won by in 2016!) Scott was a QAnon loon before the 2020 election and even more so since then. This week, she was removed by the State Elections Bureau from her job and replaced, for now, by the Republican County Clerk in Hillsdale County (home of Adams Township), who discovered on Tuesday that the Township's tabulation computer, the "brains" of the whole system, is now missing in advance of next week's local elections.

Michigan State Police are said to have launched a criminal investigation, and Scott seems to admit to a Michigan news outlet that she stole it, claiming that the vendor, Hart Intercivic, was coming in to perform routine maintenance that was actually a secret scheme to delete all of the evidence of fraud on behalf Joe Biden in the 2020 election. Or something. The Township votes on hand-marked paper ballots. So if the new Clerk had any actual concerns about whether the computer accurately tabulated results last year, she might have tried hand-counting those paper ballots to find out. The population of the entire Township is only about 2,500 people. But apparently Scott is not particularly bright, despite all of her QAnon "research".

We unpack the entire insane incident, which echoes one from a few months back, where the Republican County Clerk in Mesa County, Colorado also had to be replaced by the Sec. of State after she brought two people with her into the secure area where voting systems are stored in the middle of the night, turned off the security cameras, made full, unlawful copies of the hard drives of the Dominion Voting System's Election Management software and then released it to the Internet during MyPillow CEO and failed conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell's so-called "cyber symposium" in South Dakota. The unlawful release wreaked havoc and a call for "emergency action" before California 's Gubernatorial Recall election just weeks later. The Mesa County Clerk is also facing a criminal investigation because, ya know, they're all "law and order conservatives" who think it's just fine to steal voting systems and software when they feel like it.

Of course, there are very real concerns about vulnerabilities in such voting systems, though zero known evidence to date that any of them were used to steal any election last year. But these lamebrains don't seem to have a clue what the vulnerabilities actually are or what to legally do about them, even though many of us real Election Integrity advocates have been showing them how to do exactly that for nearly 20 years.

As to the Democratic rogues in our stories today, we're joined again by the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hulaballoo to talk about Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) and if their real game is actually to undermine the entire Biden agenda by weakening, stalling and then ultimately just killing the Build Back Better bill.

The pair have already succeeded in gutting a number of the most popular key provisions of the bill favored by progressive and centrist Dems alike, and even by Republican voters (if not members of Congress). Though there are a boatload of critical, long-overdue and progressive programs still left in what the White House described as the bill's new "framework" [PDF] on Thursday. But do Manchin and Sinema intend to let even that much go through to full passage? Or are they playing a different game entirely? We discuss it all with Digby today.

We also discuss the painfully disinformed, so-called "progressives" out in the Twittersphere and beyond who are actually either gullible enough or disinformed enough to believe that Biden and Pelosi and Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal --- not to mentioned Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez(!) --- have all been coopted by "corporatists" (or something) to undermine Biden's own agenda and the bill that the entire Democratic caucus, save for Manchin and Sinema, would have approved months ago when it was twice the size in dollars.

The corporate media also come in for criticism again today, for their failure to accurately inform the American people of the wildly popular provisions that were and still are in the still-transformative Biden agenda (even as Democrats themselves share some of that blame). Instead, the media have turned the negotiations over Build Back Better into a misleading game of (paid for) spending numbers and a "showdown" between "progressives" and "centrists". In fact, it's always been a no-choice effort by Congressional and White House Dems to win the must-have votes of Manchin and Sinema --- ("The Diva Twins" as Parton calls them) --- who have opposed many of the bill's most popular programs in a 50/50 Senate.

Lots to discuss here with Parton today, as usual. Please tune in!...

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Guests: Dr. Virginia Martin, former Columbia County, NY Election Commissioner and Allegra Dengler of Citizens for Voting Integrity NY; Also: Taxing U.S. billionaire pandemic profiteers...
By Brad Friedman on 10/27/2021 6:13pm PT  

It's Election Day in America once again next Tuesday, whether you've noticed or not. In New York, democracy itself is on the ballot, even as longtime election and democracy champions (real ones, not the phony, post-2020 MAGA Mob fakers) differ on how to vote next week on three different democracy- and elections-related Constitutional amendments. On today's BradCast, we discuss all three proposed measures which will have far-reaching consequences for voters both in New York and across the nation. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But, very quickly at the top of today's show...As Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) continue to obstruct and, actually, shred the bulk of the far-reaching, long-overdue progressive social safety net and climate change agenda of Joe Biden and pretty much the entirety of the Democratic Congressional caucus, we offer a friendly reminder.

Dems insist on making their Build Back Better package fully paid for (unlike the deficit spending in the separate bipartisan roads and bridges infrastructure deal supported by Manchin, Sinema and a bunch of Republicans). But Sinema has nixed her own party's plan for a tiny tax increase on corporations and the wealthy, even though, in 2017, she voted against the $2 trillion Trump/GOP tax cuts for those same people.  One alternate "pay-for" mechanism now being proposed by Dems is a wealth tax on those worth more than a billion dollars or who made $100 million for three consecutive years in a row. On Wednesday, however, Manchin was suggesting such a tax might be too divisive for his tastes, by "targeting" certain people.

So, here's the reminder, courtesy of Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies Program on Inequality: There were 614 U.S. billionaires before the pandemic and 745 of them now. Billionaires have seen their wealth grow 70%(!) since the start of the pandemic, to more than $5 trillion. The money they made during the pandemic alone --- from March of 2020 through last month --- would fully cover the cost of Biden's entire 10-year spending plan in the Build Back Better Act, to offer a transformative expansion of healthcare, education, child care and take on climate change for every person in the nation, more than 330 million of us. Meanwhile, a White House analysis last month found that the wealthiest 400 families in the country paid an average federal income tax of 8.2%. (How much did you pay last year?)

Anyway, that's just a reminder as this madness continues. We'll likely discuss all of that more in the days ahead.

Meanwhile, voters --- at least some of them --- are heading to the polls for off-year elections on Tuesday. The neck-and-neck race for Governor in Virginia is receiving much of the attention, but we have our eyes elsewhere today --- on the great state of New York, one of the nation's, theoretically, most "liberal" states which has some of its most restrictive voting policies.

There are several important state constitutional measures on the ballot this year, with three of them having a direct effect on elections in the Empire State and even democracy across the nation.

  • Prop 1 would make it easier for the majority party in Albany (currently Democrats) to approve new legislative and Congressional maps for redistricting following the 2020 Census. That, as Republicans pretend to be furious about the notion that it might allow partisan gerrymandering in the state (which we no longer oppose, for reasons explained again today --- at least until federal legislation bars it in all 50 states.)
  • NY's Prop 3 would abolish the 10-day Constitutional deadline for voter registration before elections, paving the way for eventual election-day registration at the polls.
  • And Prop 4 will remove restrictions on absentee voting in the state, where voters are currently required to attest to being out of town on Election Day or being too ill to go to the polls in order to vote by mail. The hope for proponents is that this will allow for no-excuse absentee voting in the future, as currently available in the majority of states.

While I suspect many believe that folks on the left side of the political aisle might favor all three propositions, that's not actually true, as discussed today with two of New York's longtime champions of election integrity. We walk through all three propositions with them to explain what each may or may not mean for voters and election integrity.

We're joined by DR. VIRGINA MARTIN, who served for 11 years, until 2020, as the Democratic Election Commissioner of the Columbia County, NY Board of Elections and ALLEGRA DENGLER, a longtime election security advocate with Citizens for Voting Integrity NY.

You may be shocked to learn that all three of us do not actually agree on how voters should vote on each of these measures. They each offer their own well-informed and nuanced opinions on the issues at stake in each ballot proposition. We hope this is helpful not only for NY voters, but for others around the nation, where similar issues are being addressed and debated at both the state and local levels, not to mention in proposed federal legislation.

Given Martin's decade-long personal experience as an election official, we also take a few minutes to discuss her thoughts on the ongoing nationwide assault and threats against election officials and poll workers in the wake of sore loser Donald Trump's evidence-free false claims of fraud in the 2020 Presidential election and the very real concerns (as opposed to the MAGA Mob's) when it comes to computerized voting and tabulation systems. Martin made a name for herself amongst election integrity advocates when, in 2010, she joined with her Republican counterpart on Columbia County's Board of Elections to carry out full, transparent hand-counts of hand-marked paper ballots in the county. That, after --- and despite of --- the state's mandate for optical-scan computerized tabulation systems in all of New York's 57 counties...

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House holds Bannon in contempt; TX Lt. Gov. pays out for GOP voter fraud; CA GOP's recall boondoggle; Vets dump Sinema; Manchin could dump Dems; TX steals minority House seats; IL boosts Dems (a little)...
By Brad Friedman on 10/21/2021 6:06pm PT  

We covered a whole bunch of stories on today's BradCast. You'll have to tune in to find out what I have to say about most of them. Suffice to say there was a lot of both good news and bad. Often at the same time. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

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

  • The full U.S. House voted to recommend criminal contempt charges to the DoJ for Steve Bannon's refusal to answer his subpoena for documents and testimony from the House Select Committee investigating Trump's January 6th insurrection.
  • California certifies the results from last month's GOP Gubernatorial recall election, with the state's Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom winning by the exact same percentages --- to the decimal --- that he won his first term back in 2018. Money well spent, Repubs! And thanks for wasting $300 million taxpayer dollars.
  • Five veteran advisors to Arizona's Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema have had enough. They quit her advisory board for service members with a blistering letter citing her obstruction of democracy and the Biden agenda. The progressive veterans group Common Defense has now turned the letter into a TV ad with a seven figure buy to condemn the obstructionist Dem.
  • MoJo's David Corn reports that West Virginia's obstructionist Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has a plan to quit the Democratic Party altogether. Manchin disputes the report. Corn stands by it. Either way, it should serve as a reminder of how fraught things are in the Senate right now, how narrow the Democratic majority is, and how the Senate could see Mitch McConnell and the GOP back in control, literally, at any moment. That, of course, would immediately end any hope of passing any part of the Biden, Democratic and/or progressive agenda. Perhaps there's good reason that President Biden isn't calling out Manchin by name for failing to reform the filibuster as many progressive voting rights activists have been demanding?
  • The GOP's ongoing assault on American democracy continues apace, as they plan to gerrymander their way into the House majority in 2022, and then use that control --- along with new election subversion laws in states they control --- to try and steal the 2024 Presidential election in a way they weren't prepared to do in 2020. All of which should serve as a reminder to every democracy loving American that it's time to step up --- even if it means reconsidering long-held, rock-solid beliefs. For example, that extreme partisan gerrymandering is wrong. It is. But is it wrong if it's needed to actually save American democracy? In Texas, new Republican-adopted Congressional (and state legislative) maps steal seats from minorities, despite the fact that the state's population growth --- and two new U.S. House seats to go with it --- is due almost entirely to minorities. Happily, states like Illinois are not taking the matter (entirely, anyway) lying down.

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Guest: Author, gerrymandering expert David Daley of Fair Vote; Also: Hope springs eternal for Freedom to Vote in the U.S. Senate; And GOP bathtub climate change physics in Virginia...
By Brad Friedman on 10/15/2021 6:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast, I share an idea that I've thought long and hard about, struggled with and, frankly, never thought I'd have, much less recommend, as this idea is essentially counter to everything I have long fought for as a democracy advocate. But, as they say, desperate times...and all that. [Audio link to full show follows this summary below.]

Next Wednesday, Senate Majority Chuck Schumer has told Democrats, he plans to bring up the Freedom to Vote Act for a cloture vote, which --- if successful --- would then allow the Senate to proceed to debate on the bill that is critical right now for the survival of American democracy itself. Even if passed, Freedom to Vote won't save everything, of course, but it will help. Big time. The Joe Manchin-approved "compromise" version of the For the People Act (which has already been passed by the House) would, among a boatload of other long-overdue things, institute automatic voter registration and minimum requirements for Absentee and Early Voting in all 50 states; adopt rules that would limit the most disenfranchising Photo ID restriction laws; require hand-marked paper ballots for all voters(!); and prevent extreme partisan gerrymandering among other much needed stuff that would benefit all voters and democracy itself --- if not necessarily the Republican Party, as they see it, while they continue to lie about the bill in order to place party above both country and democracy.

Next week's cloture vote on the measure is likely to be supported by all 50 members of the Democratic caucus in the Senate. But it is unlikely to be allowed up for debate in the minoritarian Senate because, unless Manchin and any other Democratic obstructionists agree to reform the filibuster to allow democracy saving legislation to pass with a simple majority, it won't receive the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican obstructionist filibuster. That, as GOP-controlled states across the country continue to adopt measures making it harder for (certain) voters to vote and easier for Republicans to cheat by overturning election results they don't like by partisan fiat.

In 2010, the GOP's so-called "REDMAP" program succeeded with Republicans taking over state legislatures in order to draw extreme partisan gerrymanders following that year's decennial census to assure themselves majorities in both statehouses and Congressional delegations for the ensuing decade, even when receiving a minority of the vote. Now that the 2020 census has been completed --- and the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court has determined that federal courts may not intercede to block partisan gerrymanders in any way --- those same Republican state legislatures are in the process of drawing even more extreme gerrymanders for partisan advantage over the next decade. Experts say that "red" states are now in the process of redistricting in such a way that even if the nation voted exactly as it did in 2020, Republicans would end up taking control of the U.S. House --- even with millions of fewer votes than Democrats receive for their elected members of Congress.

That is just part of the near future that all Americans can look forward to if the Republicans and Democrats like Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema in the Senate prevent passage of the Freedom to Vote Act along with its federal restrictions on extreme partisan gerrymanders.

While I hate the idea, all one has to do is take a look at what the Texas legislature (and others like it) are currently up to and planning this year to realize that it's time --- at least if Freedom to Vote is not adopted --- for Democratically-controlled states to answer the GOP assault on democracy by instituting their own extreme partisan gerrymanders in response.

As noted, I hate that idea. It is, at least on the surface, counter to the small "d" democratic ideals that I have always fought for. But, at this point, with the American democratic experiment now teetering toward unstoppable authoritarianism, unilateral disarmament by Democrats seems more like a suicide pact. Yes, for Democrats, but, much more importantly, for democracy itself.

I suspect not everyone will agree with me here, including my guest today. I'm joined by the man who actually wrote the book on partisan gerrymanders, DAVID DALEY of FairVote.org. His book on the GOP's REDMAP assault on democracy is called Ratfucked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy. His more recent follow-up, out this year, is Unrigged: How Americans Are Battle Back to Save Democracy.

Daley details the horrors to come from the GOP's extreme gerrymandering plans that we will see in the next few weeks and months, describing them as "really bleak for the Democrats on the redistricting front". For example, he explains, "if you look at the 2020 election, Democratic candidates for the U.S. House won 4.7 million more votes than Republican candidates, but that only turned into a 5 seat majority. Republicans, simply by redistricting in Texas, Georgia, North Carolina and Florida alone --- before you even get to the handful of other states where they can pick up individual seats --- could probably get at least twice the number that they need to flip the House simply by gerrymandering those states."

But, even as he argues in favor of "Constitutional hardball" from Democrats, he does not agree with me that Dems should participate in the same sort of behavior in response when it comes to redistricting this year, describing it as "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic." He explains why, and we debate the issue on today's program.

I welcome your thoughts on this matter via email or in comments below, as I hope to discuss this more on the show in the days ahead.

Finally today, as if anyone needed more evidence of the dangers that await a fully Trumpified GOP takeover of democracy (even more than has already occurred), at least one Republican candidate running for the House of Delegates in Virginia next month should scare the hell out of you..and, for reasons that Desi Doyen explains, especially Virginians...

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Guest: Dr. Christy Brigham, chief science officer at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks; Also: Late breaking COVID news, democracy news, and callers...
By Brad Friedman on 9/20/2021 6:30pm PT  

Today's BradCast is a bit of a grab bag of late updates on stories we've been covering, new breaking news of the day, a fantastic guest from on the ground amid massive wildfires in and near Sequoia National Park and listeners calling in with thoughts about all of the above. [Audio link to the full show follows this summary.]

First up today, just before we get to our guest, a bit of a rant about the not-in-the-least-"conservative" Republicans and rightwingers who forced taxpayers to spend millions to defend the U.S. Capitol from domestic terrorists during Trump's dumb, failed "Justice for J6" rally over the weekend. That's the same not-conservative Republican Party who just forced California tax-payers to cough up nearly $300 million for a sore loser do-over Gubernatorial recall election, where the Governor appears to have received a higher percentage of the vote than he did the first time he ran in 2018, and almost the exact same percentage of the vote by which Joe Biden trounced Donald Trump in the state in 2020. (Little wonder, with California now having the lowest COVID infection rate in the nation, and creating jobs at three times the national rate! Thank you, Governor Newsom! After months of being told by rightwing media --- and non-rightwing media alike --- that the popular governor was unpopular, we hope you'll keep that in mind as the media churns out a similar narrative right now about President Biden.)

Next, we pick up on a breaking story we covered first on Friday's show, as massive wildfires were then encroaching about a mile from the world's oldest and largest tree, known as "General Sherman", one of many majestic, awe-inspiring giants in Sequoia National Park that are as old as 3,000 years, stand as tall as 250 feet, and as wide as 100 feet around at their base.

That tree and thousands of others are being defended right now in the park from fires that have already scorched hundreds of square miles in the national forest, with many of the trees being wrapped, one-by-one in fire-resistant blanketing at their base. We're joined for the latest on this active, potentially unspeakable tragedy by DR. CHRISTY BRIGHAM, Chief of resources management and science at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, which are located about 3 and a half hours north of Los Angeles on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Despite the threats of at least three different, major, converging fires, Brigham reports today that "the news so far is quite good." She explains that "the fire has burned into Giant Forest, but because of five decades of prescribed burning in that forest, the fire really laid down and is not progressing rapidly in the grove." She describes seeing "great fire behavior in that grove, the kind of fire that sequoias like." That new is "quite good," indeed!

In fact, the reason Sequoia's trees are so old and enormous is due to natural, fire-resistant tannins in the bark, which can be as thick as 12 inches. But after decades (centuries!) of fires, holes in the base of the bark can allow fire into the tree, which can kill it. Brigham also explains how climate change is now "at the root of this problem," resulting in fires and dryness the likes of which we've "never seen before in recorded history, or even deep history looking at fire scars."

This, she says, "has changed everything in terms of how we fight wildfire and keep it out of these sequoia groves if we can." Citing more than 10% of the world's giant sequoias that were lost in one single fire in the area last year, Brigham notes four groves of giants have burned in recent days, but that they've yet to be able to get to in order to survey the damage. "Fingers crossed that we won't see terrible outcomes, but we've got a long way to go with this fire still burning, and still threatening a number of groves."

Next up, a number of stories breaking today, including the U.S. easing pandemic travel restrictions on foreign visitors by mandating that they must prove they are fully vaccinated and have been tested within three days of traveling to the U.S., and another related-ish story on Pfizer finding that the use of its COVID vaccine is effective for children between the ages of 4 and 11. The FDA will review their application for emergency authorization in the next few weeks.

We're certain that even COVID vaccine opponents don't want unvaccinated foreign travelers flying into the U.S., right? So, surely they support the Biden Administration's new travel guidelines, right? And, like all of the other vaccines mandated for public school children, the same folks almost certainly support kids being vaccinated amid a deadly pandemic, now featuring a huge Delta variant spike in pediatric infections and deaths, right?

We open the phones today to listeners on all of those topics and more. Please tune in, won't you?...

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Also: Debunking CA Recall 'fraud' claim; COVID crisis creating hospital death panels as the voluntarily unvaxxed killing themselves and others...
By Brad Friedman on 9/16/2021 6:10pm PT  

If there's one guy you really don't want vowing to dog you, it may be Rhode Island's Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, easily one of the most persistent Senators in the upper chamber. If you're Trump's FBI Director or, especially, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, that's probably not good news. But it's just one of the stories covered on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Here's a quick summary of many more of them...

  • No, the disappearance of 350,000 votes from CNN's California Recall Election Night live ticker is not proof that it was stolen. Especially when there is a perfectly plausible (and checkable) explanation for it.
  • After the well-publicized testimony of U.S. gymnasts in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, regarding the FBI's years-long failure to adequately investigate hundreds of allegations of sexual assault against now-convicted team physician Larry Nassar, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse had a few related questions for Trump-appointed FBI Director Christopher Wray about another similarly flubbed investigation --- perhaps more accurately described as a Trump Administration/FBI cover-up --- regarding serious allegations of sexual assault against a young girl by a now sitting Supreme Court Justice. After alleged sexual assaulter Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump's second nominee to be packed onto the U.S. Supreme Court by Republicans, Whitehouse vowed to Christine Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh's main accuser, that he would get to the bottom of the FBI's clearly whitewashed pre-confirmation "background check" probe of Kavanaugh. It's three years later and Whitehouse has not forgotten. As he explained while pressing Wray during Wednesday's hearing, he has been waiting all of that time for answers and documents from the FBI. He made clear to Wray that he will not stop until he gets them. As evidenced by his nearly ten years of weekly "Time to Wake Up" climate addresses on the floor of the U.S. Senate, the Rhode Island Senator does not back down easily.
  • The COVID pandemic continues to worsen in the U.S., with no end in sight. That, of course, thanks to the voluntarily unvaccinated. Hospitals across the entire state of Idaho are now rationing care under "critical care standards" that allow them to try and save the lives of those most likely to survive, while offering comfort and best wishes to those unlikely to make it. Similar "death panels" are now in place or "imminent" in other states with similarly low vaccination rates, mostly run by Trumpy, denialist, Republican Governors. While the vast majority of those paying the worst price are the unvaccinated, their selfishness comes at an unspeakable to cost to many who are vaccinated, as we detail today. Those include the Alabama man who died last week in Mississippi after his Trump Country Alabama hospital had to call 43 hospitals before finding one, 200 miles away, that could give him care; the Illinois woman with a comorbidity who died after becoming infected with a breakthrough COVID case after visiting a family friend in Mississippi whose husband had died in the state with one of the lowest vaccine uptake rates; the man in Hawaii who remains in excruciating pain today, because he can't get a non-emergency operation for kidney stones due to lack of oxygen supply for all but COVID patients on all of the islands. Yes, the voluntarily (and selfishly) unvaccinated continue to bring pain, harm, sadness and death to far more people than just themselves...which is already bad enough.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, featuring news on Nicholas, the latest storm to make landfall in our latest record hurricane season, exacerbating recovery in Louisiana, where folks are just beginning to recover from Hurricane Ida the week before last; Biden's continuing push for his landmark climate infrastructure plan; States now beginning to hold plastic producers to account for their pollution; and Vermont stepping up as the latest state to sue fossil fuel giants for decades of deadly lies about climate change...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: The American Prospect's Harold Meyerson; Also: Senate's 'Freedom to Vote Act' will mandate hand-marked paper ballots for all!...
By Brad Friedman on 9/15/2021 6:19pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: It takes a lot of chutzpah --- and plenty of confidence that corporate media is too cowed to call you out for it --- to continue calling your party a "conservative" one, after forcing state taxpayers to waste almost $300 million to run a special Recall Election that ends with almost the exact same results as the last time Republicans tried to defeat the popular Democratic Governor in an election. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, yeah, that's what happened on Tuesday. With about three quarters of the vote now tabulated in California, Governor Gavin Newsom has clearly crushed the GOP's attempted Recall Election in California --- by a mile. As of now, the vote to keep the Governor in office is ahead by about 28 points, or 64% to 36%. That's almost the same margin by which President Biden annihilated Donald Trump in the state in 2020, and slightly smaller than Newsom first term victory in 2018. (Though the results may still widen for Newsom before all is said and done with the processing of late Vote-by-Mail ballots and Provisionals over the next few weeks.)

The Governor, who will face a normal reelection contest in just over a year, offered brief remarks after media called the race on Tuesday night. "'No' is not the only thing that was expressed tonight," Newsom told supporters. "I want to focus on what we said ‘yes’ to as a state: We said yes to science, we said yes to vaccines, we said yes to ending this pandemic."

Along with a laundry list of rights and freedoms that progressive California voters "said yes" to, in contrast to the rightwingers hoping to end public health mandates and more, Newsom also noted the state "said yes to people's right to vote without fake fraud or voter suppression."

On Monday, the day before the Recall --- before any results were known at all --- the GOP's top candidate, far-right radio talk show host Larry Elder, unveiled a "Stop CA Fraud" website demanding a special session of the state legislature be convened to "investigate and ameliorate the twisted results of this 2021 Recall Election." That would have been unknown results, at the time, which he disingenuously charged included "improperly formed ballots"; "instances of undocumented ballots"; and "statistical analyses [that] have detected fraud in California resulting in Governor Gavin Newsom being reinstated as governor." Without such a special session --- presumably at an even higher "conservative" cost to taxpayers --- Elder's campaign threatened use of the "ammo-box."

Hours after most media outlets had called the race for Newsom on Tuesday night --- after Fox "News" had quickly pulled down all of their Election Night incoming results numbers in order to pretend there had been no election at all that day --- Elder finally conceded and encouraged supporters to be "gracious in defeat". But, after lying about "fraud" in the election and threatening use of the "ammo-box", he should receive zero credit for those remarks. He then pledged that, though he "may have lost the battle, we are going to win the war."

We're joined today by longtime Editor of The American Prospect, former Editor of L.A. Weekly and frequent Los Angeles Times contributor HAROLD MEYERSON. We discuss whatever lessons may be learned from the Recall for both Democrats and Republicans in the state, as well as across the nation, as we head into next year's mid-term elections and, as Meyerson writes at The Prospect today, "the California GOP has gone down the same rathole as the rest of the Trumpified horde."

"They're saying Larry Elder is now the dominant figure in the California Republican Party," Meyerson observes, regarding GOP hopes for a rematch against Newsom next year. "If you want your party leader, your standard bearer, your best electoral prospect to come into the next race trailing by four to five million votes --- okay! Take it away!"

We also discuss why and how California's 100-year old, once well-intentioned progressive Recall and Ballot Initiative process needs to be overhauled in the state, where it should have been done by Democrats years ago.

Finally, in a BradCast with way more good news than we are accustomed to these days, more good news on the Senate Democrats' newly unveiled election reform compromise bill known as the "Freedom to Vote Act". We summarized the wildly encouraging key points of the new bill, crafted by eight Senate Dems including Joe Manchin, on yesterday's program. But, we didn't have the legislative text at the time to report on whether the summary's promise of "Voter-Verified Paper Ballots," would truly offer the long-overdue right to a hand-marked paper ballot for all voters across the country, or whether the legislation would offer gaping holes on that point, as the Dems' otherwise excellent For the People Act --- on which the Freedom to Vote Act is based --- currently does.

On that point, now that we've seen the actual text of the proposed 592-page bill [PDF], we can happily report the good news that the new legislation does, on page 318, appear to promise long-overdue HMPBs for all "at every in-person voting location" in the country! Passage of this bill --- if Dems can figure out how to get Manchin's permission to reform the filibuster to do it --- would be the most transformative legislation for American democracy since the Voting Rights Act of 1965...and could, arguably, even out do it!

Let's get the "Freedom to Vote Act" passed, ASAP!!!

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Elder pretends to care about 'election integrity', lies about fraud before Election Day; Senate Dems reach fantastic election reform 'compromise'; More anti-vax RWers 'bite the dust' while inflaming the pandemic for all...
By Brad Friedman on 9/14/2021 6:57pm PT  

Get ready for another roller-coaster ride on today's BradCast, which also happens to be Recall Election Day in California. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

As of airtime on Tuesday, we heard of no major reports of voting problems at the polls across the Golden State, though that may be thanks to so many already having voted by mail or during early voting. But, while pretending to support "election integrity" during an interview on MSNBC, Larry Elder, rightwing talk show host and GOP front-runner to become Governor if popular Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom loses on the ballot's first question, was busy lying about "fraud" and the "twisted results of this 2021 Recall Election" on his "Stop CA Fraud" website, before any results are known whatsoever. Oh, and he's also threatening the use of the "ammo box" if the results don't go his way.

(And, in related comment, we discuss why these "Will you accept the results of the election tomorrow?" questions are really unfair and unhelpful gotcha questions, that it would be really nice if media stopped asking.)

In far brighter news, a group of eight U.S. Senators --- representing the broad political spectrum across the Democratic caucus in the upper chamber and including Joe Manchin --- announced a "compromise" election reform package with a ton of really really good stuff in it. Among the huge number of long overdue reforms in what they have dubbed the "Freedom to Vote Act": Automatic and same-day voter registration for all; restoration of voting rights for former felons; federal minimum standards for absentee voting, drop boxes and early voting; an end to partisan gerrymandering; curbs on dark money in elections; the prevention of the ability of partisan state legislatures to overturn results derived by non-partisan election officials; new cybersecurity standards for computerized voting systems; and much much more.

The devil is often in the details, and I've yet to review the actual legislative text as of airtime, but from the summary description made available by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Senate committee that oversees federal elections and campaign law, almost any one of the items included in this proposed bill would be hugely good news. I'll need to review the specific language on the measure's requirements for hand-marked paper ballots to sign off on that part of the bill, but even the proposed requirements for Voter ID are very good ones. They will serve to force states with purposely restrictive Photo ID voting restrictions (enacted to suppress the vote, not to protect against fraud) to be much less onerous, while avoiding new restrictive mandates in the majority of states which already have reasonable ID rules or few at all.

The legislation is based on Manchin's personal "compromise" version of the For the People Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, both of which have already been passed by the House. Manchin is one of the eight Senators who worked out this proposal, and is said to be reaching out to bring Republicans on board. Of course, even if all 50 Senators who caucus with the Dems vote in favor, as appears likely (Schumer says he is scheduling a vote for next week), it seems unimaginable that any Republicans will join them, much less the 10 that would be required to overcome a Senate filibuster. But with Manchin as a co-sponsor, it will now be on him to get the GOP votes needed for passage or face the prospect of no long-overdue election protection at all...UNLESS he is willing to support a "democracy reconciliation" carve-out to the Senate filibuster. It should be a very interesting, maddening and/or fantastic week or two. We'll be following it all very closely, of course.

And, as Dems are trying to improve representative Democracy in the U.S., Republicans are still, apparently, in the business of simply trying to kill as many Americans as they can to make some sort of twisted political point.

Yet another fervent, anti-vaxxer rightwing radio and TV host died from COVID over the weekend, the fifth in the past month and a half. And while we've had a modicum of sympathy for some of the others who have recently passed, as we explain, this one, 62-year old Bob Enyart, is very difficult to feel anything but contempt for.

We have slightly more sympathy, however, for the wildly misinformed and brainwashed 64-year old anti-vax QAnon supporter and highway overpass activist and YouTuber, Veronica Wolski who bragged last month on her final video about never having worn a mask in her life, and about the need to "NEVER COMPLY" with any COVID public health measures in order to "never give up your freedoms" so "you never have to fight to get them back."

She won't be fighting for anything anymore. Wolski died over the weekend from COVID-related illness in the ICU, but not before the QAnon dupes, led by disgraced Georgia attorney Lin Wood, sicced supporters on the hospital trying to save her life and threatened its workers with "murder" charges unless they agreed to treat her with Ivermectin, the horse deworming medicine not approved for treatment of COVID. That, before Wood declared on his Telegram channel to his more than 800,000 followers: "Now, we go to war."

Unfortunately, deadly climate change (not to mention COVID) is what wingnuts should be going to war against. As Desi Doyen explains in our latest Green News Report today, yet another massive tropical storm, Hurricane Nicholas, is now knocking out power (again) and drenching the U.S. Gulf Coast with some 20 inches of rain in parts of Texas flooded out in 2017 by Hurricane Harvey and sections of Louisiana that were already still under water following last week's Hurricane Ida. President Biden, meanwhile, is pushing for action on climate in his $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill, and his EPA is taking several long-overdue actions on behalf of clean, non-toxic drinking water across the U.S., and an age-old salmon fishery in Alaska...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: No, we weren't 'united' after 9/11. My 'Presidential Speech', written 20 years ago this week. Plus: Callers...
By Brad Friedman on 9/13/2021 6:44pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Election Day for the California Gubernatorial Recall is tomorrow, though many have already voted across the nation's most populous state with Vote-by-Mail ballots. And we also share some thoughts on 9/11 that may be very different from the coverage of its 20th anniversary over the weekend.

Today would have been the last chance for CA Sec. of State Dr. Shirley Weber to mandate a statewide post-election Risk-Limiting Audit (RLA), as the nation's top cybersecurity and voting system experts have urgently asked her [PDF] to do on an "emergency" basis. That, following a recent voting system security breach that effects election management systems and tabulators made by Dominion, as used in 60% of the state's counties. Despite their pleading, Weber declined to call for such an audit.

Instead, she sent a letter [PDF] in reply to the security experts who contacted her with "urgent" concerns, after she held a meeting with them last week (which we reported on in detail on Friday). She sung the praises of California's election security process in the letter, and dismissed their concerns, as AP's coverage highlighted, as "inaccurate," noting that, in any event, there was no time to mandate such an audit because it would require "significant preparation, training and testing."

"Further," she wrote the group of top voting and cybersecurity scientists in the nation (and perhaps the world), "the implication that California’s elections cannot be conducted safely and securely without [a more rigorous audit] is inaccurate, as California has the strictest voting system testing, procedures for use and security requirements in the nation."

Suffice to say, as we've been reporting in detail over the past month (as succinctly summarized by longtime listener/reader Sheila Bernard in an L.A. Times Letter to the Editor today) --- ever since a Republican County Clerk in CO made illicit copies of the Dominion Election Management System (EMS) software in her county before it was later released to the Internet for wide download, to the shock and horror of the voting system scientists whose warnings Weber has now ignored --- what happens next is anyone's guess. In its latest coverage, AP cites local election officials in the state, such as Santa Barbara County Clerk Joe Holland claiming it would be "near impossible" for anyone to manipulate results. "It's not even a concern," he said.

That disregard for the scientists warning of the need for "emergency actions" brings to mind a comment from one of those scientists, University of South Carolina's Duncan Buell, who told us on The BradCast last week: "I have seen well meaning election officials with too little skepticism and too much hubris. And I think that's a problem." It certainly might be. We'll find out, perhaps, in a day or two.

At the same time, we report on a few other problems that polling place voters have reportedly had trying to cast their ballot in Los Angeles County over the weekend, thanks to yet another failure of the County's new electronic pollbook system. The same system failed repeatedly during its maiden use in the 2020 election cycle and, over the weekend, the new computer systems incorrectly informed both Democratic and Republican voters that they had voted already...when they had not, in at least two different voting locations. Those voters were given provisional ballots and the e-pollbooks in question were said to have eventually been removed from operation, according to a statement from the L.A. County Registrar's office.

Both California and the nation are now on pins and needles. There are disturbing implications if Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is removed from office in California and replaced in the Recall by rightwing talk show host Larry Elder, particularly with the state's 88-year old U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein in office with the barest of majorities for Democrats in the Senate.

Next, there were 20th anniversary commemorations over the weekend to mark the horrific terror attacks of September 11, 2001. Along with it, there was more repetition of the false claim that "America came together, united as one after the attacks". That has always been a myth, as we discuss today.

To underscore that myth, I share a part of my 20-year old, never before shared publicly (I think), "My Speech to the Nation After 9/11 (Were I President, Which I am Not.)" which I wrote and shared with family members on September 14th, 2001, just days after the attacks. The speech, as written (but, obviously, never delivered) was, to say the least, a very different one --- with a very different call to action --- than the one delivered at that same time by George W. Bush. And, had I been President at the time (which I wasn't), it likely would have resulted in a very different America and world today. Whether it would be a better one? Well, you can decide and let me know.

Finally, we open up the phone lines today to callers on all of the above, many of whom are focused on questions and concerns about the CA Recall...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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