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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, May 20, 2022
GOP Sen. Candidates Used 'Replacement' Rhetoric of NY White Supremacist Shooter: 'BradCast' 5/19/22
Also: Cruz TX disbarment sought for 2020 steal effort; Young voters eager for 2022; MORE...
'Green News Report' 5/19/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
New U.N. climate change warning; Fossil fuel air pollution kills 50,000 per year in U.S.; Bloomberg's new clean air initiative; PLUS: Wildfires force national forest closures...
Recent GNRs: 5/17/22 - 5/12/22 - Archives...
Did GOP Election Officials Facilitate Voting System Software Theft in GA?: 'BradCast' 5/18/22
'The system has been breached' says Marilyn Marks; Also: NC, KY, OR, ID, PA results...
'Widespread' Primary Day E-Voting System Failures in Several PA Counties: 'BradCast' 5/17/22
Also: Biden in Buffalo condemns racist lies spread 'for power, political gain and profit'...
'Green News Report' 5/17/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
U.S. wildfire risk doubling over next 30 years; Russia's energy and now food war; California hits 100% renewable electricity, as Texas struggles to keep the lights on...
Recent GNRs: 5/12/22 - 5/10/22 - Archives...
'A Movement Not a Moment': Rev. Barber Says 'Consistency' Needed to Restore America: 'BradCast' 5/17/22
Guests: Rev. Dr. William J. Barber; Kenia Alcocer of CA Poor People's Campaign...
Sunday 'Undesirable Outcomes' Toons
You can chalk up PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection to the rightwing radicalism still unmooring our nation from facts and reality...
Attempted Stolen Election, Stolen Docs, and Yes, Murder: 'BradCast' 5/12/22
McCarthy subpoenaed for J6; New fed grand jury for Trump; Eastman advised 2020 election theft in PA; Trump, meatpackers deadly collusion; DeSantis FL gerrymander nixed...
'Green News Report' 5/12/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Great Barrier Reef bleaching again; Global warming and new diseases; Interior cancels offshore lease sales; PLUS: AZ, CA move to enact more severe drought restrictions...
Recent GNRs: 5/10/22 - 5/5/22 - Archives...
It Ain't the Supply Chain or War. It's the Greed: 'BradCast' 5/11/22
Guest: Inequality.org's Omar Ocampo: Also: NE, WV primary results (who cares what they mean for Trump?); Federal court allows assault weapon sales to CA kids...
Greene Let Off Hook in GA for 'Insurrection', Challengers Appeal: 'BradCast' 5/10/22
Guest: FSFP President John Bonifaz with updates on ballot eligibility challenges in GA, AZ, NC; Also: Leaked SCOTUS 'Roe' opinion shaking up midterms...
'Green News Report' 5/10/22
Raging wildfires in NM; Siberian fires out of control as Russian military otherwise busy; CA plan to cut cow burps; PLUS: Arctic wildfires speeding Arctic ice melt...
'2000 Mules', 74M Repub Dupes, and GOP Fraud Continues: 'BradCast' 5/9/22
Convicted election fraudster D'Souza makes a 2020 election fraud doc; Also: White GOP voter fraud criminal gets no jail time for voting twice...
Sunday 'Mothers Day' Toons
'More of a collection that reflects a future for women who'll be forced to become mothers as a result of someone else's edict'...
After Justices Lied About 'Roe', GOP Ducks, Dems Mount Response: 'BradCast' 5/6/22
Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Also: Biden's record jobs; Trump wanted to bomb Mexico...
Not Everything Sucks. Organized Labor is Rising: 'BradCast' 5/5/22
Guest: Jordan Zakarin of Progress Report, More Perfect Union; Also: Obamas on SCOTUS gutting Roe's Const'l freedoms; Big Oil's record profits, wartime profiteering...
'Green News Report' 5/5/22
EU proposes Russian oil embargo; Plummeting reservoirs prompt 'unprecedented' cutbacks, expose grim secrets in West; PLUS: CA A.G. probes plastic recycling scam...
Midterm Primary Season Kicks of With Voting System Failures in OH: 'BradCast' 5/4/22
Also: Brown defeats Turner in OH; Trump-endorsees win in OH, IN; Amazing appeals court hearing in Cawthorn eligibility case; Trump wanted to shoot BLM protesters...
'Green News Report' 5/3/22
Unprecedented heat in India, Pakistan; 20% of reptiles face extinction; Denmark to ditch natural gas; PLUS: Mass extinction in oceans could be avoided...
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...


Longtime, very conservative federal judge warns GOP planning to steal 2024; Where the hell is Transnistria and why does it matter in Putin's war?; Biden asks Congress for $33 billion to help arm Ukraine...
By Brad Friedman on 4/28/2022 6:33pm PT  

When we've got to turn to our Green News Report on any given BradCast for some good news, it's probably a fairly grim BradCast, as is the case today. Still, it includes a lot of stuff that you need to know about. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, a very conservative, well-respected and longtime federal appellate court judge has issued a stark warning about what he describes as "The Republican blueprint to steal the 2024 election." Again, this is from a very conservative Republican-appointed federal judge who then VP Mike Pence turned to for advice before January 6th, 2021 to learn if it would be legal for him to unilaterally reject the 2020 Electoral College results as Team Trump advocated for under a rag-tag opportunistic combination of several arcane and century-old laws and untested Constitutional theories.

In his must-understand opinion piece at CNN, Judge J. Michael Luttig explains why Republicans are now "obsessed about making the 2024 race a referendum on the 'stolen' election of 2020, which even they know was not stolen." But, as Luttig warns, their "objective is not somehow to rescind the 2020 election, as they would have us believe. That's constitutionally impossible. Trump's and the Republicans' far more ambitious objective is to execute successfully in 2024 the very same plan they failed in executing in 2020 and to overturn the 2024 election if Trump or his anointed successor loses again in the next quadrennial contest."

"The last presidential election," he warns, "was a dry run for the next." He goes on to explain what the "independent state legislature" doctrine is and why you should become very aware of its meaning, sooner, rather than later, before its adopted as a legitimate thing by the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court (which Luttig was twice considered for, by the way, by George W. Bush.)

"Forewarned is to be forearmed," Luttig correctly argues. We try to help with both today.

Next, in a similar vein, we discuss what Russia --- now regrouping its forces in the south and east of Ukraine --- may be planning next. If you've heard of a place called "Transnistria" in recent days, and wondered where and what the hell it is, we help explain where that is and why it (may) matter to what happens next in Putin's horrific ongoing attack on its sovereign neighbor.

And, toward that end, at the White House today, President Biden offered remarks to explain his request for $33 billion from Congress to help further arm Ukraine to defend itself against Russia's onslaught and provide much-needed humanitarian aid at the same time. We share his remarks on that, and discuss why the aid is so vitally important right now, as peace talks appear all but stalled out and as Russian media and military are beginning to frame the conflict as an existential "holy war."

Finally, Desi Doyen leads our latest Green News Report, with more on Russia's (ill-considered) gambit to use fossil fuels as a weapon of blackmail against NATO nations; 'unprecedented' water restrictions in Southern California; record-breaking heat in South Asia; and, mercifully, some very good news on Ford's not-a-moment-too-soon unveiling of their new, all-electric, F-150 pickup truck...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: John Bonifaz of Free Speech for People; Also: Macron's victory; Trump found in contempt in NY, fined $10k/day until subpoena answered...
By Brad Friedman on 4/25/2022 6:43pm PT  

Well, we're back after a much-needed break last week on The BradCast. (Thanks to Nicole Sandler for covering for us for a few days!) As it turns out, disappointingly, news didn't stop just because we were gone!

First up today, some very good news from over the weekend and from this afternoon...

According to Exit Polling (which tends to accurately report on Europe's various hand-marked, hand-counted balloting) on Sunday, center-right French President Emmanuel Macron defeated far-right extremist Marine Le Pen to win a second five-year term. The European Union and democracy-lovers everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief following the apparently failed third try by Le Pen --- a supporter of Trump, Putin and other far-right autocrats and an opponent of NATO, the EU and immigrants --- to win the Presidency. It was the first time in 20 years that a French President has won a second term. Macron did so by a comfortable 17 points, based on Sunday surveys. Le Pen's far-right coalition will now shift their efforts to Parliamentary elections coming up in June.

More good news today, this time out of New York, where the Judge overseeing state Attorney General Letitia James' civil probe of alleged bank, tax and insurance fraud by Donald Trump, his kids and the Trump Organization has found him in contempt. Trump is now being fined $10,000/day until he adequately answers the AG's subpoenas for documents. "Today, justice prevailed," James said in a statement following following the Judge's order. “For years, Donald Trump has tried to evade the law and stop our lawful investigation into him and his company’s financial dealings. Today’s ruling makes clear: No one is above the law." But, in potentially even better news, Asst. Attorney General Kevin Wallace is quoted by AP as saying "We plan to bring enforcement action in the near future". Translation: Trump is about to face serious civil litigation in NY that could ultimately break up and/or bankrupt his company, if successful.

At the same time, the Manhattan District Attorney's criminal investigation into many of the same matters, regarding Trump committing fraud over many years by lying on his annual financial statements, continues as well.

The quest for accountability in the wake of our failed former President's attempt to steal the 2020 also continues elsewhere. On Friday, Georgia's far-right Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene became the first sitting member of Congress to answer questions under oath about involvement in the January 6th, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Her testimony in an Atlanta courtroom, following a ruling to allow it by a federal judge, came in response to a ballot eligibility challenge filed by several voters in her 14th Congressional District. They charge Greene is ineligible for office based on Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment. The so-called Insurrection Disqualification Clause bars from office those who, after previously taking an oath to defend the Constitution, subsequently "engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same" or have "given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof."

Greene was just one of the members of Congress who was neck-deep in the attempts by Trump and his MAGA Mob to block the certification of Joe Biden's 2020 election victory. She even went so far, as video produced by the plaintiff revealed, as to threaten violence to prevent the peaceful transfer of power to the new President. On Friday, Greene sat for several hours of questioning from attorneys at Free Speech for People (FSFP) who are representing voter-clients in Georgia, as well as several other states where voters are challenging the eligibility of elected officials who "engaged in insurrection" or gave "aid or comfort" to those who did.

Today, we step through her prevaricating testimony from Friday, in which she attempted to lie about charging that Democratic U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had committed treason ("punishable by death," Greene noted in the video she initially tried to pretend did not exist) and about expressing approval for a comment on her own Facebook page calling for a "bullet to the head" of the Speaker.

Much of Greene's testimony consisted of dozens of "I don't recall" and "I don't remember" responses to the plaintiff attorneys, even as her memory was suddenly razor sharp when it came to remembering tweets, comments and other social media posts and videos cited by her own defense attorneys. While Greene claimed she never called for violence, the clear record proves otherwise.

We're joined today by JOHN BONIFAZ, Co-founder and President of FSFP, the group working with voters bringing the challenges to Greene in GA, as well as Rep. Madison Cawthorn in North Carolina, Reps. Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs in Arizona, and against far-right AZ State Rep. Mark Finchem, the Trump-endorsed Republican candidate for Secretary of State.

Bonifaz offers his reaction to Friday's hearing and Greene's attempt to evade accountability for her role in the 2021 insurrection. He also offers updates on the appeals filed in federal court in North Carolina (where a Trump-appointed judge rejected FSFP's challenge to Cawthorn's candidacy on a rather remarkable basis, as discussed) and in AZ, where a Maricopa County Superior Court Judge on Friday dismissed FSFP's challenge to Gosar, Biggs and Finchem. In that case, as Bonifaz details, the judge rejected the Constitutional challenge not on the merits, but on the claim that private citizens have no right to sue under the 14th Amendment. Bonifaz, a longtime, well-respected Constitutional law expert, explains why he believes the AZ judge is wrong (for example, he observes, it would allow a 14-year old or Vladimir Putin to run for Congress!) and the basis for which his organization is appealing that ruling.

Meanwhile, back in Georgia, the state administrative law judge who oversaw Friday's testimony, Charles Beaudrot (a corporate tax attorney who was initially appointed by a Republican Governor), will soon give his recommendation to Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger as to whether Greene should be disqualified from the mid-term ballot. Raffensperger will then decide whether to accept Beaudrot's recommendation or not.

No matter how it all shakes out, Bonifaz tells me today, the federal court ruling which allowed the challenge to go forward in the state last week is a victory in and of itself.

"Independent of what happened in the hearing on Friday," Bonifaz says, "what's happened is the door has now been opened for somebody like Donald Trump --- or anyone else who took an oath of office and engaged in insurrection --- being held accountable in Georgia. That door is now open because the precedent is there for voters to be able to challenge them based on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. Assuming its upheld by the 11th Circuit (Greene's attorney, who also works for Trump, is appealing the U.S. District Court Judge's ruling) that means there will be a challenge, I think, to Donald Trump appearing on the Georgia ballot in 2024."

There's lots more in today's conversation with Bonifaz! Please tune in...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: GW University Law School's Randall D. Eliason; Also: KBJ's historic SCOTUS confirmation; Insurrectionist House members facing ballot eligibility challenges in AZ; Trump facing contempt in NY...
By Brad Friedman on 4/7/2022 5:34pm PT  

A bad day for Donald Trump is generally a good day for America. Today on The BradCast (after horrible and tragic news unexpectedly swept over our show yesterday), it's one of those days. And, if our guest, a former federal prosecutor is correct, there may well be many more such bad days ahead for our disgraced former President. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

FIRST, history was made toward "a more perfect union" on Thursday when the U.S. Senate voted 53 to 47 to confirm Joe Biden's nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson, as the nation's first black female Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. She will officially be sworn in and seated in July, at the end of the Court's current term, when Justice Stephen Breyer officially resigns.

SECOND, three more 2022 ballot eligibility challenges were filed today against three more Republican insurrectionists, courtesy of good government group Free Speech for People, this time on behalf of voters in Arizona against Congressmen Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs, as well as AZ State Rep. Mark Finchem, the Trump-endorsed candidate for Secretary of State. The new Constitutional challenges follow on similar ones currently being litigated against Rep. Madison Cawthorn in North Carolina and Marjorie Taylor Greene in Georgia. All are based on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment which bars those from holding office who have sworn an oath to support the Constitution, before subsequently, as per 14.3, having “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof."

THIRD, yet more good news today, as New York Attorney General Letitia James asked a state Court to hold Donald Trump in civil contempt for refusing to comply with a court order to turn over documents, as part of her investigation into bank, tax, and insurance fraud by the former President and his family members, Ivanka and Don Jr. Shortly after that court filing on Thursday, Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg told CNN that his criminal probe into many of the same matters is "very much ongoing," despite the two lead prosecutors in the years-long probe recently resigning after charging that Bragg was not willing to move forward with indictments against Trump.

THEN, we get to our guest today, who may --- depending on how you look at it --- have the best news of all for those hoping to see actual federal prison time for the disgraced former President. It could take a while, but he's here to tell us today that U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland's investigation of the January 6th insurrection is proceeding in precisely the way he would expect it to proceed if, in fact, the AG was investigating possible criminal indictments of Trump for his part in inciting the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Writing at Washington Post late last week, RANDALL D. ELIASON, a former Asst. U.S. Attorney in D.C., where he served as Chief of the Public Corruption/Government fraud section, argued that legal critics of Garland, mostly on the left, are wrong. He sees progress by the Department as moving "impressively fast" and "unfolding at an increasingly rapid clip" just over one year into the investigation. (Eliason penned a similar argument late last year at WaPo.)

To date, independent investigative journalist Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel has made one of the loudest cases, in the face of skeptics, that Garland is, indeed, working his way up the legal food chain toward Trump in the DoJ's huge investigation of the J6 insurrection. (She's joined us on the show a number of times in recent months to argue as much.) Today, Eliason says he believes she's absolutely right.

"There's this huge debate on Twitter and elsewhere, whether Garland's doing nothing at all or whether this is just what we should expect [if working toward a potential Trump indictment]. I agree with Marcy Wheeler here that this is exactly what we should expect," he tells me. "The signs are this is in fact what's happening."

"The alternative is you rush, you put together a case without doing it properly just to bring some charges, and you lose. You don't want to bring a half-baked case in something that's this significant or this important. If you're going to bring a case at all, you've got to do it properly."

"Garland's role here is to not be swayed by political pressures, but to take the case wherever the facts and the law lead them, as he said. Which, to me, appears to be exactly what he's doing," argues Eliason, who now teaches white collar criminal law at George Washington University Law School in D.C. "And the suggestions, frankly, from some of the critics, that Biden should replace him, or fire him, or lean on him to do something --- that's exactly what everybody was outraged about when Trump and Barr were doing it. That kind of politicization of the Justice Department --- the idea that Biden should lean on Garland or fire him because he's not moving fast enough --- is the exact opposite of what we want. And the exact opposite of what Biden and Garland promised to do to get away from the Trump era, where Bill Barr was running around and doing favors for Trump cronies, interfering in the administration of justice, and politicizing the Justice Department. That is the last thing we want."

Eliason speaks to how and if DoJ and the House January 6 Committee may be coordinating their efforts, and why some members of that Committee have recently called on the Departments to do more, faster. He also offers insight on why it may be that Mark Meadows, Trump's last Chief of Staff, has yet to be indicted for Contempt after Congress, after being referred for the charge months ago by the House, even as Steve Bannon was indicted within weeks after a similar referral.

In our broad discussion on these matters, we also discuss the unique time elements involved here, in regard to the possibility that Trump could declare his candidacy to run in 2024; what DoJ guidelines mandate regarding investigations or indictments to close to an election; and whether a federal indictment by Biden's Justice Dept. in such a case would be seen by the former President and his cult-like followers as little more than a political vendetta

There's a lot to tune in for here, particularly if you are a Garland skeptic or frustrated with the pace of his investigation. As Eliason reminds us, the Enron indictments came a full four years after the collapse of the company and their scam was exposed. Even Watergate took at least two years before major charges were brought. We are now just over one year out from what has become the largest probe in DoJ history. By far.

In addition to discussion about Trump accountability for his attempts to try and steal the 2020 election, we also discuss Trump's NY legal threats, and what should be done about corrupt, far-right activist Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas following the recent news that his corrupt, far-right activist wife Ginni was relentlessly texting Meadows in the days following Trump's election loss to encourage the Administration to prevent the peaceful transfer of power to Joe Biden, the winner of the 2020 Presidential election.

FINALLY, Desi Doyen joins us for a bit more accountability talk, this time for Big Oil CEO war profiteers who testified this week in Congress, in our latest Green News Report. Also on the GNR rundown today, Europe's move to ban Russian coal, the EPA's plan to finally ban deadly asbestos and the increasing cost to tax-payers --- in dollars and lives --- of increasing power outages during increasingly powerful climate change-fueled storms...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: 30-year Florida elections Supervisor Ion Sancho; Also: More signs of new COVID variant rising; Russia's war crimes against Ukraine continue; Fox 'News' journalists killed while reporting on war...
By Brad Friedman on 3/15/2022 7:11pm PT  

As difficult as it has historically been to recruit competent, non-partisan election officials and pollworkers, a new survey suggests its about to become much worse. As we discuss in detail on today's BradCast, that is thanks, in no small part, to persistent threats by Trump's MAGA Mob against local election officials in the wake of his Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him. It's made even worse by state GOP officials translating that lie into new laws that further undermine America's democratic experiment. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But FIRST UP today, a quick follow up underscoring our reporting on yesterday's program, warning about the rise of a new COVID variant (known as BA2, or "stealth Omicron" or "Deltacron") that many seem to be wanting to imagine away. Also several quick updates on the latest news from Russia's relentless bombing and war crimes against Ukraine, as peace talks inch forward, and as at least two Fox "News" journalist are confirmed to have been killed outside of Kyiv.

THEN, on to our main story today. In recent months, Reuters has been unfolding a series of excellent investigative reports on the various, horrific threats issued against election officials by those who bought into Trump's evidence-free claims that the 2020 election was stolen. But GOP state lawmakers have been ignoring those menacing threats and using the Big Lie to create actual legislation allowing them to purge dedicated, non-partisan election officials --- including Republicans seen as not Republican enough --- from their roles and replacing them with partisan operatives.

Brennan Center's recent survey of local election administrators finds that, more than a year after the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol, one in six officials say they "have experienced threats because of their job." More than half of respondents are "concerned about the safety of their colleagues"; 30 percent "know of one or more election workers who have left at least in part because of fear for their safety, increased threats, or intimidation"; and, perhaps most troubling, 20 percent of them now plan to leave their jobs before the 2024 election, with many "citing political leaders’ attacks on a system they know is fair and honest as one of their top reasons for leaving."

Meanwhile, many officials who would like to continue in their jobs are being pushed out thanks to new laws allowing partisan County Commissions in Georgia, for example, to replace longtime Board of Elections officials like Georgia's civil rights icon Helen Butler (who we interviewed about this late last year) in Morgan County, and 27-year Floyd County Board of Elections veteran Vanessa Waddell, who, with the entire Board in the deeply Republican County, was removed from her post, as documented by WaPo yesterday. That, even after she successfully oversaw last year's U.S. Senate runoff elections in the state amid persistent death threats that resulted in some officials in her office deciding they needed to come to work with pepper spray and stun guns to stay safe.

Leon County, Florida's now-retired 30-year veteran Supervisor of Elections, ION SANCHO, is furious about all of this. He joins us today to discuss these growing threats to our teetering American democracy. Sancho, who retired in 2016, is one of our nation's great election officials. He was so well-regarded by his peers, of all political persuasions, that he was tapped to oversee the wildly contentious and eventually-aborted 2000 Presidential recount in Florida. He was also a central figure in HBO's landmark, 2006 Emmy-nominated documentary, Hacking Democracy, detailing the first public hack of a computerized voting tabulator.

What is going on today, he explains, makes him both angry and deeply concerned about American democracy. "Election officials all over the country, irrespective of partisan affiliation, have been tragically attacked because of our ex-President's lie. The most horrible lie about our elections, frankly, in my lifetime," he tells me, adding that it makes his "head explode".

"It's not being dealt with at all. That's why election officials are subject to the most vile attacks, because the supporters --- the cultists, if you want to call them that --- believe that election was stolen, and this is such a bald-faced lie. It's a tragic lie. It's a stupid lie. And it demonstrates the ignorance of the American citizenry about our elections."

Sancho argues that "we are in the process of destroying a model of non-partisan election administration that has taken decades to build."

"Most election officials are administrators, not activists, not individuals who are used to dealing with the political process, except as standing away from it and facilitating elections. We take oaths to be non-partisan," he continues. "One of the proudest moments of my life was the creation of helping write the standards of codes and conduct for the Elections Center, to apply to all national election officials, putting loyalty to the principles of fair and honest elections over anything else."

Of course, over The BRAD BLOG's nearly 20 years of reporting on elections and voting processes and vulnerable computerized voting and tabulation systems --- much of which Sancho has followed closely over those years --- we've had our own fair share of criticism for some election officials (not to mention almost every voting system vendor). Some of that has resulted in occasional criticism that we are "attacking" election officials or pollworkers ourselves. So, how is our attempt to hold feet to the fire any different from what Sancho sees coming from the American MAGA Right?

"The difference is that you are focusing on specific issues of provable fact," Sancho responds. "That's different than the kind of criticism that we have right now. Your criticism doesn't threaten the democratic experiment. And where we find ourselves now is that the great American experiment, our democracy, is being threatened. It's being destroyed by individuals who would rather believe a narcissistic liar than understand the truth."

Sancho has MUCH more to say on all of this, including thoughts on new legislation heading to Florida's Republican Governor and Presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis that would give him what Sancho describes as "the Governor's private police force on elections."

"That's part of the intimidation," he argues. "Now we're seeing a secret police in the state of Florida for elections. Florida is, unfortunately, one of the leaders of this effort nationally to change non-partisan fair elections into something else."

Sancho concedes "it's hard for me to see how we get around this," though he does offer at least some ideas for solutions to find our way out of this nightmare, including laws to specifically prevent threats against election administrators. "It should be illegal to threaten an election official for the purposes of intimidating them from doing their job and counting the votes. That should be illegal, and it is not."

"We've got to turn this around," Sancho insists. "ALL legal citizens should have the right to vote accessibly, and have that vote counted as they intended, and then we should audit the elections to confirm the validity of that election. That's as simple as it can be, and yet we're very far away from that, as you know."

"What were supposed to be laboratories of democracy," he charges, are now "50 citadels of repression." As suggested, we think Sancho is an American hero. He's on fire today and, as ever, worth tuning in to hear in full.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report today, with bad news for climate changed Australia and our global fossil fuel dependence, highlighted yet again by Russia's war on Ukraine. She also has a bit of good news for breathers, however, as President Biden's EPA announces critical new regulations on smog and vehicle emissions that will save thousands of American lives...

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Guest: Grace Panetta of Business Insider; Also: Dem Senator hospitalized with stroke; Manchin's big 'Build Back Better' lie; NY state redistricting adds 3 new Dem House districts...
By Brad Friedman on 2/2/2022 6:51pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: On January 6, 2021, Donald Trump and his democracy-hating supporters hoped to exploit the vagaries of the horribly written Electoral Count Act (ECA) of 1887 --- along with several vagaries of the U.S. Constitution itself --- to try and steal the 2020 President election during the joint session of Congress meant to affirm the state certified results of the Electoral College. Now, there is an ongoing bipartisan effort in Congress to modernize and reform the ECA to prevent a similar nightmare in 2024 or beyond. But will even that reform, if successfully adopted, be able to prevent a political party from acting in bad faith to steal a Presidential election in plain sight in the future? [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up today, before we get to the ECA, Democrats are down to just 49 voting members of the Senate at the moment, after New Mexico's 49-year old Senator Ben Ray Luján, his office announced on Tuesday, has been hospitalized with a stroke after experiencing dizziness and fatigue last week. The statement suggests a full recovery is expected, even as the incident serves as a reminder of the Party's tenuous 50-vote majority in the Senate...as long as everyone is well and Vice President Kamala Harris is there to break any ties. Dems seem to think that Luján will recover in time to support Joe Biden's eventual nominee to fill the Supreme Court seat being vacated by the retiring Justice Stephen Breyer in June.

Also, speaking of the U.S. Senate, we've got a minor update on the landmark Build Back Better proposal that had served for months last year as the $1.7 trillion centerpiece of President Biden's agenda: Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) says that "it's dead". That, after he killed it at the end of last year following months of negotiations and citing several ridiculous reasons. And while Democrats are hopefully they may still be able to pass Manchin-approved chunks of the bill in the future, I remain dubious that Manchin --- whose family rakes in millions from their coal business, supplying just one single coal plant with waste coal in West Virginia --- will ever allow the measure's critical $555 billion in environmental spending to help tackle climate change to be adopted.

Manchin spent months last year pretending to negotiate "in good faith" on the bill, even claiming repeatedly to support its climate provisions which incentivize the nation's power plants to move from dirty fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy. Even in recent days, Democrats have repeated the notion that Manchin supports at least those provisions of the sweeping measure that would have also expanded healthcare, education, child care, elder care and much more. But if you believe Manchin supports BBB's environmental initiatives, I've got a coal-fired power plant in West Virginia to sell ya. Of course, I hope to be wrong. But I haven't been, so far, on this matter unfortunately.

Next, it's on to the ridiculously written Electoral Count Act (ECA) which was adopted, as our guest today, GRACE PANETTA of Business Insider detailed in her deep-dive report this week, "following the disputed 1876 election between Samuel Tilden and Rutherford B. Hayes, which was marred by allegations of fraud and the disenfranchisement of Black voters." The ECA was passed at the time to help clarify certain aspects of the U.S. Constitution's mandated 12th Amendment process for counting and determining the eligibility of Electoral College votes. But it is so vaguely written --- Panetta cites an ECA scholar who notes that "many of its substantive rules are set out in a single sentence that is 275 words long" --- that Trump and his corrupt team of advisors were able to claim that the ECA allowed for Vice President Pence to pretty much name anybody he liked as the winner of the 2020 election during the joint session of Congress on January 6th.

This week, several coalitions in the Senate --- one, a group of three Democrats; the other, a bipartisan group of 16 Senators including nine Republicans --- are working to rewrite the measure in hopes of both clarifying it and preventing it from being exploited to steal a Presidential election. At least in theory.

As I've discussed on several shows of late, I often go to bed at night pondering the many ways that a political party prepared to act in bad faith --- in this case, Republicans --- can quite easily steal a Presidential election via the Electoral College with literally nothing more than norms, traditions and good faith to stop them. That's a fact, no matter what happens at the precinct level in each state, no matter who is and isn't allowed to vote, and no matter how those votes may be tallied. A party acting in concert in bad faith can steal an American Presidential election and there is little if anything in current law or the Constitution to prevent it.

Moreover, depending on how the ECA is rewritten --- if Republicans allow such a rewrite to be passed in both chambers and signed by the President --- it may still leave the door open for a rogue state legislature or even a single Governor acting in bad faith to steal an election, in what one ECA expert that Panetta cites describes as "the Swing State Governor's Gambit".

Panetta, a senior politics reporter at Insider, joins us from the Senate Gallery today to explain what the ECA is supposed to do; how Trump attempted to abuse it to steal the 2020 election; how reform can hopefully prevent that from happening in the future; and what the chances currently are that this new reform movement in the Senate will be successful.

She also makes clear --- in response to Trump's idiotic statement (admission?) on Sunday, claiming Pence had "the right to change the outcome" of the election --- that "the ECA does NOT give the Vice President the authority to unilaterally decide which electoral votes to count or not."

"The ECA as it exists, in its imperfect, flawed form, does NOT give the Vice President this authority," Panetta reiterates. "At the same time, however, I think what both the bipartisan group and another trio of Democratic Senators who introduced an ECA reform bill yesterday are trying to do is even more clearly state, clearly clarify in 21st-century language, that single slates of electors sent to Congress should be treated as final and the Vice President really has no role to adjudicate this."

Right now, she warns, "the groundwork is being laid at the state level for state officials --- like Governors, like Secretaries of State --- to overturn elections. In short, a Governor could submit an illegitimate slate of electors that does not reflect the popular vote in the state, and candidates could try in federal court to compel a Governor to send the correct slate, but that's no guarantee that that would fully work." So, yes, getting ECA reform right is now more critical than ever.

Finally today, some good news --- at least as I see it. New York's legislature has approved a new Congressional map for the state that will most likely add three additional Democratic members of Congress from the Empire State. New York Republicans are hopping mad about what they describe as an outrageous partisan gerrymander by Democrats. Ya know, just like the even more egregious ones being carried out by Republicans in GOP-controlled states like Ohio, North Carolina and Texas, where population growth was due almost entirely to minority voters, and yet state Republicans removed minority voting districts to add GOP seats. While I certainly would have opposed such efforts by Dems in the past (many redistricting experts still do), given the efforts right now by Republicans to undermine American democracy itself, I'm just fine with what NY is doing. If Republicans oppose it, they can (and should!) take it to court. Unfortunately, they won't be able to take it to federal court, because their own stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court majority recently declared that federal courts may play no part in adjudicating partisan state gerrymanders. SAD!...

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Also: Trump vows pardons for insurrectionists; Bi-partisan Senators working to reform law Trump tried to use to steal election; 'Maus' tops best-seller lists after TN school board ban; Callers ring in on all...
By Brad Friedman on 1/31/2022 6:42pm PT  

A few technical demons at the KPFK studio today kept us on our toes during today's BradCast. The chaos was only multiplied by a ton of very lively callers. You may (or may not) be the beneficiary of all of the madness that subsequently ensued. Enjoy! [Audio link to show is posted below this summary.]

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

  • Over the weekend at a rally in Texas, our disgraced, criminal, twice-impeached former President suggested that, if he was elected President again, he would pardon his insurrectionist supporters who attacked the U.S. Capitol and hundreds of law enforcement officials to try and steal the 2020 election on his behalf on January 6, 2021. Never mind the nine people who died during or after the worst assault on our Capitol since the War of 1812. Since Donald Trump actually opposes law and order, he would almost certainly pardon hundreds of the violent attackers. And, at the same rally, he also instructed his brainwashed supporters to launch mass protests if (when?) he's indicted in D.C., New York and/or Georgia.
  • On Sunday, Trump also admitted in a statement that he had wanted Vice President Pence to "change the outcome" of the 2020 election by "overturn[ing]" the certified results on January 6th. No, it was never about giving Congress time to investigate "fraud", for which there has never been evidence, either then or now. The "legal" mechanism that Trump and his duplicitous campaign aids and attorneys were hoping to exploit is the vague and poorly written Electoral Count Act of 1887. A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators are now reportedly working on reforming that century old statute to prevent a similar occurrence in 2024 or beyond.
  • Last week, rocker Neil Young announced that he would pull his music from the Spotify if conspiracy theorist podcast host Joe Rogan was allowed to stay on their streaming service and continue to broadcast misinformation related to the coronavirus, COVID and its vaccines. Spotify is sticking with Rogan after recently signing him to a $100 million contract giving them exclusive rights to stream his show. So, Young and others, including Joni Mitchell, have since pulled their catalog from the service. In response, Rogan has now vowed to add "balance" to his program, and Spotify has said they would slap a "content advisory" on anypodcast episode on which the coronavirus was discussed. Of course, "balance" only serves to level an unlevel playing field for Rogan's deadly false claims about COVID and its vaccines. And Spotify's vow to label all shows with "content advisories" that talk about coronavirus only leaves viewers/listeners confused about what is truth and what is COVID fiction. How many thousands of people have been unnecessarily killed thanks to Rogan (and Spotify)'s irresponsible misinformation is, of course, unknown.

On the second half of today's show, we open up the phone lines to a ton of listener calls on all of the above...though most wanted to talk about Rogan's lies. And, yes, we take calls both for and against those lies...

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Guest: Dr. Nils Gilman of Berggruen Institute; Also: Life sentences for the Arbery murderers; CyberNinjas fined by AZ judge, claim to shut down...
By Brad Friedman on 1/7/2022 7:07pm PT  

It's been a rough week. So before we get to America's rising 'demons of hell' on today's BradCast and how we might counter their re-emergence against what is left of American democracy, a few slightly more encouraging news items to kick things off. [Audio linnk to full show is posted at end of summary.]

In Georgia, the three white men who were caught on video tape murdering 25-year old black jogger Ahmaud Arbery in 2020 after hunting him down in their pick-up trucks, were each sentenced today to life in prison. Two of them, father and son, got life without the possibility of parole. The third, their neighbor, could be paroled after serving 30 years. But he's already 52, so...

In Arizona, or Florida, or wherever "they" preside, the buffoonish, rightwing conspiracy theorists, con-men and theoretical cybersecurity experts calling themselves Cyber Ninjas, declared they exist no more. That, just one day after an AZ state judge said they are to be fined $50,000 for each day that they continued to refuse to hand over public documents regarding the pretend "forensic audit" of Maricopa County (Phoenix), AZ's 2020 Presidential election they were hired by the GOP state Senate to carry out. More on that matter, hopefully, on a not-too-distant BradCast.

Next, as our week commemorating the grim, one-year anniversary of Donald Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election by hurling thousands of supporters at the U.S. Capitol last year on January 6th, in hopes of halting the certification of the Electoral College vote with a deadly insurrection, comes to a close, a bit of mopping up and looking ahead to ways to prevent a more successful election coup from happening in the near future.

First, some reflections today from our 39th President, the 97-year old democracy champion Jimmy Carter. He wrote this week in the New York Times that he now "fears" for our democracy, citing last year's insurrection and the politicians in his home state of Georgia and elsewhere, such as Texas and Florida, who have "leveraged the distrust they have created to enact laws that empower partisan legislatures to intervene in election processes." Carter sees Americans "being persuaded to think and act likewise, threatening to collapse the foundations of our security and democracy with breathtaking speed." He says the he now fears that what he, his Carter Center and America itself "have fought so hard to achieve globally — the right to free, fair elections, unhindered by strongman politicians who seek nothing more than to grow their own power — has become dangerously fragile at home."

Carter is hardly the only one with a long and broad perspective on history who has become unnerved by what we are now seeing in America. Ronald Reagan's U.S. Solicitor General, Charles Fried, interviewed last month by CNN's Christiane Amanpour, noted his birth in Prague in 1935, when "Czechoslovakia was a real democracy" before "the demons of hell came out and spoiled that for 50 years." The 86-year old longtime Republican and Harvard Law professor now says he sees "those people re-emerging" and he "hears the same tune and it scares me."

So, for those of us paying attention, what can be done? We talk about exactly that today with our guest, DR. NILS GILMAN of the Berggruen Institute, following on his recent L.A. Times op-ed discussing similar nightmares as those cited by Carter and Fried which have continue to emerge throughout 2021 and what we can ALL now do to try and counter them.

Gilman was also the co-founder the Transition Integrity Project (TIP), a bipartisan group of security, military, political and media experts who met during the summer of 2020 to game out what might happen [PDF] in various worst-case scenarios if Trump decided to declare the election results invalid and/or refused to leave office that fall. We begin today with how his TIP group viewed the January 6 Electoral College certification event in advance, which he says they saw as a "moment of Constitutional stress that bad actors could potentially exploit," warning at the time that "there needed to be preparations on the part of law enforcement to be ready for that possibility." Perhaps we'll pay more attention to his group's warnings the next time, if they decide they need to reconvene before 2024 election.

He is now warning, in his piece at L.A. Times, that "the runaway train of illiberalism continues to bear down on American democracy, and the need to act could not be more urgent." Gilman explains today what he means by the term "illiberal democracy," a phrase he cites as being coined by Hungarian strongman President Viktor Orban, who was recently endorsed by Donald Trump. Under Orban, Hungary, in recent years, has seen its media essentially taken over by his rightwing government.

Citing strongman leaders "all over the world, in Brazil, Turkey, the Philippines, Poland, "you're seeing the rise of this illiberal democracy, where you still have elections, but the electoral process is so corrupted that it basically ensures that you will get right or far-right victories under any and all circumstances." Sound familiar? That, as nations like Hungary are literally being hailed of late by folks on the American right like Tucker Carlson and Fox "News". "It's being celebrated in rightwing media as a model that America might want to follow," Gilman charges.

He goes on to detail, both in his op-ed and on today's program, what "ordinary citizens" who oppose such fascist takeovers of our democracy can and must do at the state and local level --- as we wait and hope for voting rights and election protection legislation at the federal level --- to otherwise counter such forces. Election officials are now facing threats from Trump's MAGA Mob across the country, even as his supporters are working to take over key election administration positions by both hook and crook.

"People can go out and become pollworkers," urges Gilman. "We have an under-supply. Run as a local election administrator. There are thousands of positions all over the country. Our election system is currently totally decentralized and local administrators have a lot of power, and we need people committed to the democratic process to be in those position, not people who are committed to partisan victory at any and all costs."

As he explains, "there are things that an ordinary citizen can do. But the truth is that the real problem is we need to have elites who are going to be committed to democratic practice. What we have in this country now --- and we're seeing this very much in the current Congress --- you see a split between some elites who are basically complicit with the crimes of the previous administration and then others who are complacent about the likelihood that this could come back. We need elites to take this problem more seriously and really take on the challenge of illiberalism and the anti-democratic tendencies that are becoming more and more legion in this country, particularly on the right."

We also discuss my personal concerns --- my personal nightmares --- about the ability of committed, bad faith Republicans at this point to game the Electoral College in 2024 in a way they were not prepared to do in 2020. If they do so --- at the state legislative and/or Congressional level --- I believe there is nothing currently in federal law or the U.S. Constitution to prevent such a bad-faith exercise from succeeding next time. Please tune in to see if Gilman shares my concern.

Finally today, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest, very lively, Green News Report, which we had to postpone until today to make room yesterday for our special coverage of the first anniversary of the GOP's January 6th, 2021 insurrection...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Helen Butler of The People's Agenda, purged from the Morgan County, GA Board of Elections; Also: Listener mail!...
By Brad Friedman on 12/15/2021 6:28pm PT  

If you're wondering how to stay positive as America appears on the brink of a very dark authoritarian takeover by Republicans, we may have just the answer for you in the form of today's guest on The BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Reuters has been doing an incredibly well-reported series of special reports of late on the Republicans' ongoing assault on democracy itself in America. They've covered, among other aspects, the attacks on elections officials stemming from Donald Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election by blatantly lying about it, and even citing certain election officials by name who were subsequently targeted and terrorized --- sometimes, along with their family members --- with threats of violence and death by his supporters. They have also been very smartly covering the effects of new voter suppression laws being adopted in GOP controlled states around the nation, as part of the opportunistic fall-out from the lies that Trump told in his effort to steal last year's Presidential election.

Recently, Reuters' James Oliphant and Nathan Layne took a detailed look at the effect all of this is having on local elections officials in a state we have covered in great detail on this program: Georgia, where longtime, local election board officials --- specifically, Democratic election officials ... specifically black Democratic election officials (and frequently black Democratic women) --- are now being purged from County election boards across the state at an alarming rate.

The purge is thanks to two different state laws. One is GA's terrible new anti-voting law, SB 202, passed earlier this year, which allows for --- among other anti-democratic things --- officials on the State Board of Elections, which is controlled by the GOP state legislature and Republican Sec. of State, to replace county election officials with partisan operatives (for virtually any reason) who can then overturn election results (also, for virtually any reason.) [FULL DISCLOSURE: I am a named plaintiff, representing media, challenging several provisions of SB 202 in a federal lawsuit filed by the Coalition for Good Governance.] The other law being used even more, referred to as "local legislation", has been in place for a while, but was rarely invoked until this year in the wake of Trump's "Big Lie" after Democrats won the Presidential election in the state for the first time in years, along with both of the Peach State's U.S. Senate seats. The state law allows County Commissions to restructure their County Boards of Elections pretty much anyway they like after receiving approval for the restructuring from the state legislature.

In at least half a dozen Georgia counties that have restructured their election boards so far this year, Oliphant and Layne report, "the legislature shifted the power to appoint some or all election board members to local county commissions, all of which are currently controlled by Republicans. Previously, the appointments had been split evenly between the local Democratic and Republican parties." They detail how black Democrats --- often long-serving champions of voting rights --- have been systematically purged from those county boards and replaced with White Republican majorities in advance of next year's critical mid-terms, where popular black Democratic voting rights advocates Stacey Abrams and Sen. Raphael Warnock will both be on the ballot, for Governor and U.S. Senator respectively.

"In Morgan County, the majority-Republican county commission reconstituted its election board, ousting two outspoken Black Democrats," Reuters reports, "Helen Butler and Avery Jackson were removed after the new law eliminated political-party appointments and handed appointment power to the Republican-dominated commission. Butler and Jackson sought reappointments but were denied."

We're thrilled to be joined once again today by one of those two ousted officials, HELEN BUTLER, who served honorably on the Morgan County Board of Elections and Registration for a decade until she was pushed out this year. Butler, who we first spoke with over the summer, after she offered testimony in the U.S. Senate, is the Executive Director of the Georgia Coalition for the People's Agenda, a civil rights organization founded by the late, great civil rights icon, Reverend Dr. Joseph Lowery (who founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King Jr.).

She is also the winner of the Voter Empowerment Collaborative's 2021 Love Award, named after the 40-year old civil rights group's legendary founder, Reverend Albert E. Love, known as "Mr. Vote," after dedicating his life to registering, educating and mobilizing voters. And Butler is also a 2021 "Defender of the Dream" awardee by the AFL-CIO Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Civil and Human Rights Conference. We leave it to you to decide if those awards are as prestigious as Butler being named last month as a "Goddess of Democracy" in Glamour magazine's "Women of the Year" issue.

Butler describes today what is going on right now in Georgia, largely under the national media radar, as being part of the GOP's "insurrection plan nationally, that 'We are going to take over every aspect of controlling the outcome of elections, so if I don't like the results, I can put in the results that I want to have.'" She also notes that it is happening not only with boards of elections in her state, but at school boards as well.

"They're not stopping with just elections. They're trying to take over control of all aspects of government. Education departments are the largest generators of revenue in counties, so if they get to control that, they get to control all money, they get to control what our children learn, what they get, where schools are located," she warns. "So again, it's a total takeover process that they're going after...They are stacking control of all levels of government."

When I ask how much control local county boards of elections have over elections and voting processes, and even outcomes, as compared to the state itself, Butler pulls no punches: "The county levels are the ones where the rubber meets the road. They do all of the voter registration, making sure people are registered to vote. They get to determine with their redistricting process, how the maps are drawn, how people are put into those maps for purposes of voting. They also control who gets an absentee ballot, whether it gets counted or is rejected. If there are provisional ballots, they get to determine which ones are counted, which ones are rejected. They get to certify the results --- they get to count all of the votes that are cast. And they get to certify who gets to win each race. So they are very critical... and if you stack it so those people can conform to a lie versus the truth, then you don't get true democracy... you get an autocratic form of government, because someone wants it to go a certain way, and not necessarily to the will of the voters."

With that, Butler explains, "they can control the outcome of all elections." And while all of this sounds --- and is --- quite chilling, Butler's optimism, as you'll hear, is absolutely infectious. As dark as the topic of discussion is, you'll be astounded to walk away from this conversation actually feeling somewhat better about everything...including the possibility of federal legislation in the form of the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act actually being adopted by the U.S. Senate, and maybe even saving democracy in Georgia and everywhere else before all is said and done. She explains how those bills will go a long way toward reversing the worst of the GOP's now-ongoing assault on American democracy and, if passed, could be "our saving grace."

"I always try to be optimistic, to look for the good things rather than dwell on the bad," she tells me, as she also explains how Americans across the country can help right now. "It's very important we get those bills passed...As my leader, the late Dr. Joseph Lowery said, 'Voting is a sacred right, but it's also a moral obligation.'"

Tune in for much more in today's conversation. You can thank me later.

Finally, we close today with a listener mail segment, including some great letters from listeners in response to several recent shows that may help you keep Butler's infectious optimism going through the holidays...or at least for the next few hours...

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Guest: Election law scholar and democracy activist, Paul Lehto; Also: Biden v. Putin; U.S. v. China; Meadows v. 1/6 Committee; DoJ v. Texas...
By Brad Friedman on 12/7/2021 5:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we've got trouble both at home and abroad. But what else is new? [Audio link to full program is posted at the end of this summary.]

As if our domestic problems aren't disturbing enough, a couple of roiling foreign policy issues are landing on Joe Biden's desk this week. The President met via video-conference on Tuesday with Russia President Vladimir Putin to discuss the troubling build-up of Russian forces near the border of eastern Ukraine, suggesting a full-scale invasion of the former Soviet bloc country could be imminent in coming weeks and months. Biden reportedly threatened serious economic consequences for Russia if that happens. For his part, Putin seeks a commitment from NATO that Ukraine will never be allowed to join the joint defense organization. That condition is said to be a non-starter for both Biden and our NATO allies.

Elsewhere, China is none too happy with Biden's decision to implement a "diplomatic boycott" of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing. Though U.S. athletes will be allowed to attend, Administration officials will not, leading China to describe the move as an "outright political provocation" and vowing "firm countermeasures," whatever that might mean.

Meanwhile, here at home, we're still trying to clean up after Donald Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election, while trying to prevent him and the Republicans from more successfully stealing future elections. It won't be easy.

Last week, following the two federal indictments of Steve Bannon for failing to answer lawful subpoenas issued by the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol, Trump's former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows agreed --- sort of --- to cooperate with the Committee in regards his own subpoenas. Today, he reportedly changed his mind and, in turn, may also now be looking at indictments in the days ahead, along with two years in prison. Apparently his boss, the disgraced, twice-impeached former President, doesn't want him talking to the Committee for some reason. Happily, Mike Pence's former Chief of Staff, reportedly --- along with hundreds of others --- are already doing so.

With at least some accountability now likely in the offing for Meadows --- even as Merrick Garland's Dept. of Justice has, to date, brought no accountability on its own to the former President and his criminal clan for an endless list of crimes that includes the attempt to steal 2020 --- the Department filed a new lawsuit against Texas on Monday. The litigation seeks to block the Lone Star State's new Congressional and legislative maps as violations of the Voting Rights Act. While Texas gained two new House seats following the 2020 Census, they have now added two new White-majority Congressional Districts and eliminated a Latino-controlled seat. That, despite the fact that 95% of the population growth in the state is thanks to Latinos and Blacks. The DoJ, in their press conference announcing the suit yesterday, noted this isn't the first time TX has attempted to racially gerrymander its maps for partisan advantage. Though it may be much more difficult to challenge them this time around with the gutting of the VRA by the U.S. Supreme Court in recent years and, of course, the Republicans having packed the Court's 6 to 3 majority.

But as the GOP prepares to win a majority of the House in 2022 with a minority of votes from Americans, the vagaries of both the U.S. Constitution and the Electoral Count Act (ECA) of 1887 may make it easier to steal the Presidential election in 2024 as well. Longtime Republican election attorney Ben Ginsberg --- who helped steal the 2000 election for George W. Bush but rejected Trump's attempts to steal 2020 --- is now pressing his own party to reform the ECA before it comes back to bite them in the future.

It was, in fact, confusion surrounding the incredibly poorly written ECA that Team Trump hoped to exploit to their advantage when they tried to coerce then Vice President Mike Pence to declare electoral votes in a number of swing-states to be invalid during the joint session of Congress to certify the electoral votes on January 6. He refused, but the usually pro forma Congressional certification of the Electoral College, as you know, was then interrupted by Trump's MAGA Mob insurrection, in his last desperate attempt to steal the election that he lost.

We were joined on this program, on January 4th, by election law scholar and democracy activist PAUL LEHTO who joined us to warn, at the time, of the dangers that awaited on January 6th, thanks in no small part to the confusing ECA and Team Trump's attempts to take advantage of that confusion. Lehto joins us again today to discuss Ginsberg's recommendations to reform the Act and whether such reforms --- even if they could ever be adopted by the current dysfunctionally divided Congress --- would help to avoid another attempted theft of the Electoral College by Trump...or anyone else.

"If Congress understood that all they are doing is tabulating votes --- their scope is very limited --- they wouldn't have these disagreements about whether the Vice President has a sweeping authority to do this," Lehto explains. "They would realize they're clerks. But because that's not an understanding that's out there like it ought to be, yet another major norm of democracy, you could say, is being completely violated. And that's why there are so many holes that can be manipulated in the ECA. Because people are looking for 'How can we game the system?'"

Lehto, whose warnings were prescient in November, December and January, warns today that while the ECA "ought to be amended...whenever you close a loophole, the action just moves to the loopholes that still exist. Amending the ECA all by itself isn't going to solve the problem. Because you have constitutional issues, you have issues of people being partisan when they really should be patriots and act like clerks counting ballots."

He also has a few thoughts on what would help make Presidential elections less fraught and easily exploited, which involves both transparency and some key changes to the Constitution. "I think maybe what Democrats don't fully give enough weight to is the fact that we have an ancient Constitution that did not provide a democratic means of selecting the President," he tells me. "So that feels anti-democratic and fraudulent to Democrats, but that's what the system was set up. So we need to amend the Constitution in order to have it line up with what our reasonable expectations are for living in a modern democracy."

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, with troubling news for the Western U.S. and for Christmas tree fans, but with a bit of good news out of Scotland...

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Guest: Univ. of KY election law professor Joshua A. Douglas; Also: Media fail again in reporting on latest, wildly misleading jobs numbers...
By Brad Friedman on 12/3/2021 7:13pm PT  

Should Democrats draw extreme partisan gerrymanders in states they control the way Republicans are doing in states where they have control over redistricting maps? On today's BradCast we have a very animated debate on the issue, along with a discussion of the few other ways that fans of democracy may still try and save the republic from the GOP's unabashed authoritarian lurch toward minority rule. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up today, a few quick thoughts on the corporate media, yet again, wildly misreporting national economic news amid the very robust --- and, in many ways, record --- recovery, while the country attempts to come out from under its pandemic-induced recession. On Friday, new numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) declared that America's unemployment rate continue to tumble to just 4.2% --- a remarkable, nearly half point decline since just last month to virtually where it was pre-pandemic. Nonetheless, morning headlines focused instead on lower than expected new jobs created in November, which sent the stock markets tumbling once again. That, even though, over the past year, the BLS has substantially upwardly revised previously reported monthly jobs numbers every single month except for one. They've done so with numbers that are nearly double or more than the initially reported monthly BLS statistics, amounting to nearly 1 million more jobs in 2021 than initially reported.

While its unclear why initial BLS numbers are now so far off the mark. Historically, they always revise. But, this year, post-pandemic survey numbers have been wildly off for some reason. The consequences both politically and economically have been huge. The fact that the corporate media can't seem to account for that by now in their panicked reports with each new "disappointing" set of numbers --- which will almost certainly be revised up very soon --- remains disturbing. That, as media continue to misreport on inflation and downplay positive economic news such as the lowest number of new weekly jobless claims since 1969 just last week; the nearly 1 million new jobs created this year alone; and the 1.1 million jobs filled since just last month's BLS report, to name a few points that have received much less notice from the media...for some reason. If the media can't adjust for the misleading initial BLS reports themselves, perhaps Biden's Labor Dept. Secretary should help them.

THEN, as we've been documenting, Republican-controlled states around the nation continue to implement new, extremely partisan redistricting maps for U.S. House and state legislators following the 2020 census. With computer-drawn precision, these new maps will ensure GOP gains in 2022 --- and a Republican majority in the U.S. House --- even if America votes exactly as they did in 2020, when Democratic House candidates received nearly 5 million more votes than GOP candidates.

Two years ago, the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court declared they would not intercede in fights over partisan gerrymanders. So, how can Democrats push back against this anti-democracy putsch by Republicans hoping to secure minority rule in the House for the next decade (adding to already existing minority rule in the Senate and electoral college, as baked into the Constitution, and on the Supreme Court, thanks to Republicans gaming the system there in recent years)?

We're joined today for a lively discussion on exactly that by JOSHUA A. DOUGLAS, author and election law professor at University of Kentucky's J. David Rosenberg College of Law. Last week, he proffered at least one solution in an op-ed at Politico calling for litigation in state courts all over the country, now that SCOTUS has washed their hands of the matter, while Democratic obstructionists in the Senate (Manchin and Sinema) block the party's ability to reform the filibuster in order to ban partisan gerrymandering nationwide in the Freedom to Vote Act.

"It was thought to be that the House of Representatives would be 'the people's house', the body that would represent a majority of the people and be a check on some of these other institutions that might give outsized weight to the smaller states, the rural states --- in the pre-Civil War era, the states that were trying to protect slavery," Douglas explains today. "But now, with sophisticated computers and algorithms where we can predict with such accuracy how people are going to vote, the House has become completely out of whack, such that Democrats need to win a lot more than 50 percent plus 1 in order to gain a majority in that chamber."

With federal courts no longer an option for the time being, Douglas notes that almost all states have constitutions that, unlike the U.S. Constitution, grant citizens an affirmative, fundamental right to vote. Those provisions, declaring that elections must be "free" or "free and equal" or "free and open", can and should be exploited to challenge the parties in power currently drawing maps that deprive residents of those rights, he argues. "My argument is that state courts should robustly use these phrases to protect democracy, and to throw out maps that are so skewed that the maps don't represent a fair democracy, a fair majoritarian rule, but instead keep the party in power to stay in power, to entrench them in power, just because of the way the lines are drawn."

Douglas observes that, while more challenges are beginning to be filed along those lines in state courts in recent days, he "was a little surprised" that, at least until recently, there had been very few such challenges brought in state courts, despite legal foothold offered by many of those state constitutions. "If we're looking for a solution to a situation that is untenable for democracy, at least here's one where we've seen some success," he tells me. "Just a couple of years ago, both the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the North Carolina Supreme Court relied on their state constitutions to strike down gerrymandering maps in those states. And other states' Supreme Courts have relied on their state constitutions for other democracy decisions, other issues involving the right to vote. So we have some precedent that is favorable to using these state constitutions robustly."

While I also support such challenges --- along with sharing Douglas' call for reforming the Senate filibuster to allow passage of federal legislation that would ban partisan gerrymanders in all 50 states --- I've also recently been forced to reluctantly change my position on partisan gerrymanders in states controlled by Democrats. I believe "blue" states should not unilaterally disarm. That, due to the threat to democracy itself now posed by the GOP gerrymandering scheme to "win" a House majority with a minority of votes in 2022 and then use that majority to steal the Presidential election in the House in 2024, as Douglas himself warns against in a separate op-ed this week at CNN.

Despite his assertion in his CNN piece that "we must treat the 2022 election as existential for the continued vitality of our democracy," noting that "American democracy barely survived 2020. The attacks on 2024 are already underway" and "Whether they succeed will depend on what we do right now," Douglas remains firmly opposed to tit-for-tat partisan gerrymandering by Democrats and explains why.

He and I have that out in a very lively debate to close out today's program...

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Guest: Activist, author Kenny Bruno on 'DEFCON for Democracy'; Also: Fourth student dies after MI high school gun massacre...
By Brad Friedman on 12/1/2021 5:51pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's a grim day in America. But it's one that every American should be paying very close attention to nonetheless. [Audio link to full show posted at the end of this summary.]

First up today, a fourth student, a 17-year old, has died following Tuesday's mass shooting by a 15-year old at Oxford High School in Michigan. The other three victims who were killed, as well as seven other students who remained in the hospital overnight after being shot, were all aged 14 to 17. The shooter used his father's new semi-automatic pistol purchased just last Friday to carry out the massacre. There were still seven more bullets in the weapon when he surrendered to authorities. But, that's "freedom" for ya in 2021 America, apparently.

On Wednesday morning, the Republicans' stolen and packed 6 to 3 U.S. Supreme Court majority met to consider removing the previously long-settled freedom for a woman to determine her own reproductive rights in all 50 states. The case heard at SCOTUS was Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the last remaining abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi, where legislators have adopted a law that would ban all abortions in the state after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The measure was overturned in lower courts after being found a clear violation of the nearly 50-year old Roe v. Wade precedent set in 1973 and reaffirmed as settled law in 1992's Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

When MS filed their initial appeal at the Supreme Court they sought approval for their then-radical 15-week ban. It was only after last year's death of abortion rights champion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and her subsequent replacement on the Court by the far-right Amy Coney Barret just eight days before the 2020 Presidential election, that the state decided to also ask the court to strike down Roe in its entirety.

Little, if anything, has changed legally since 1992 regarding the reproductive rights Constitutionally guaranteed by Roe and reaffirmed by Casey. But the make-up of the High Court itself has changed radically. Its majority has been stolen by Republicans who cancelled the filibuster in the Senate in order to pack three, hard-right Donald Trump appointees onto it. That fact, made clear by MS legislators themselves, led Justice Sonia Sotomayor to aptly ask the state's Republican Attorney General today: "Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?"

Good question. Of course, the answer is that those on the political Right don't actually care. As the twice federally indicted Steve Bannon recently noted on his War Room radio show/podcast, Republicans are only interested in "taking over" --- from school boards to the White House --- and whether or not their hardball methods result in "a Constitutional crisis," they really don't care. "We're a big and tough country and we can handle that," he preached to his followers.

To that end, Republican officials across the country are, right now, hoping to break American democracy itself, by installing loyalist Trump party apparatchik in key election administration positions, from precinct judges to county clerks to canvassing boards to Secretaries of State, as Washington Post reported in great detail on Monday. The Plot to Steal the 2024 Election is underway RIGHT NOW. Ignore these warnings at all of our peril.

We're joined today by longtime progressive activist and author KENNY BRUNO who offered a similarly chilling --- and even more direct --- warning at Truthout over the weekend, spelling out how Trump and the GOP have already "laid the groundwork for assuming the U.S. presidency regardless of the result of the 2024 election." He details today how "most of the conditions they would need to execute [their plan] is already in place."

"Often you see it covered, or you see various aspects covered, as if they were disparate things," Bruno explains, "like the treatment of Liz Cheney, the sham audit in Arizona, the repetition of the Big Lie, the new voter suppression laws in 19 states --- covered as if they are disparate things. But the simplest explanation is that they are all part of a plan," he charges, before spelling out exactly how that plan is meant to work between now and the certification of state electors on January 6, 2025.

To "undermine faith in elections" in order to steal a Presidential election, Bruno argues, "you would want radical state legislatures, especially in swing states. You would want a majority of states with a majority of loyal members of Congress. You would want to purge moderate representatives and election officials who might not go along with ending democracy, who might not play ball. You'd want a compliant Supreme Court. You'd want to intimidate the election officials who are left. I could go on...These are things that you need in place. If you look now at Trump and the GOP, most of those boxes are already checked. And they're part of a comprehensive plan."

What --- if anything --- can be done about it? Well, the options in response, as also spelled out by Bruno in his op-ed and on today's program, are not great. But knowing and understanding what is going on is a critical first step. While we have been warning and reporting on this stuff seemingly forever (for example, while the actual attempt to steal the 2020 election was underway in advance of the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol), it seems the warnings are not being adequately amplified by either corporate media or Democrats, as Bruno sees it.

He goes on to note that his originally suggested title for his Truthout piece was "DEFCON for Democracy," before the headline was somewhat softened by editors. "I think if you understand the threat to be that severe, then you have to take drastic action. Unless you're talking about it, and preparing people for drastic action, they're not going to understand why it's justified," cautions Bruno. "This is a real threat, it's a real plan. The evidence is that it's being carried out. And if you want to stop it, you might have to take some drastic action."

"I would love to be wrong about the whole thing, to be honest," he concedes. "I think the most important thing at the moment is to talk about it, to call it out. Because if you don't socialize people to the idea that this steal, subversion, gaming of the Electoral College is underway, they won't be ready to accept your actions to defend it."

As noted, it's a grim day and a grim show today, but one that we hope will be well worth your time to listen in full...

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Ominous warnings for those who wish to notice: Republican gerrymanders continue; GOPers v. GOPers; More details on the attempt to steal the 2020 election; Book 'burning'; Trump's COVID cover-up...
By Brad Friedman on 11/16/2021 7:18pm PT  

It seemed like everything I read before today's BradCast, everything I was pushed toward via social media, everything that I simply happened to stumble upon on my own one way or another, felt like a soundtrack for America's rising authoritarianism. Everything, that is, except for the inspirational words about journalism from Pope Francis. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among the stories providing today's unmistakably dark drumbeat of America's rising authoritarianism...

  • The Pope pays "homage" to journalists and journalism, including this passage that serves us inspiration today: "Your mission is to explain the world, to make it less dark, to make those who live there fear it less and look at others with greater awareness, and also with more confidence. It is not an easy mission. It is difficult to think, meditate, deepen, stop to collect ideas and to study the contexts and precedents of a news item. The risk, you know well, is that of letting oneself be crushed by the news instead of being able to make sense of it." [The full comments in Italian; The Vatican's translation.]
  • More disturbing, extreme GOP gerrymandering this week in both Ohio and Georgia (and what we think Democrats should do in response before it's successfully used by Republicans take over the U.S. House majority in 2022 and then steal the American Presidency with it in 2024.)
  • Picking up on where we left off at the end of yesterday's BradCast, with the violent death threats against Michigan's Republican Rep. Fred Upton, who dared vote for Joe Biden's non-controversial, bipartisan infrastructure bill. Upton is hardly the only Republican now being turned on by fellow Republicans for voting to improve the nation's roads and bridges. Or, as Georgia's Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene describes it, a "communist takeover of America". Rep. Anthony Gonzales (R-OH) voted, along with Upton, in favor of Trump's second impeachment earlier this year following the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, incited by the disgraced President as part of his efforts to steal the 2020 election. Gonzales has decided not to run for re-election and explained his thoughts over the weekend on the "political loser" Trump, the mistake his party has made by backing him, and his plans to fight against Trump's re-election in 2024 if he runs. Gonzales' thoughts are worth hearing (so we share some of them), though they also reveal that Gonzales does not have clean hands himself in the ugly, growing divisiveness between Republicans and Democrats. (And between Republicans and other Republicans who are deemed not Trumpy enough.)
  • Speaking of which, despite a 93% record of voting with the former President during his four years in office (a higher percentage than Trump apparatchiks Jim Jordan, Elise Stefanik, Paul Gosar or Matt Gaetz), the Wyoming state Republican Central Committee voted over the weekend to no longer recognize conservative Republican Rep. Liz Cheney as a member of their party. Yes, that's how twisted --- and terrifying --- and authoritarian --- the Republican Party has now become. (Can you hear the drumbeat?)
  • New details, via a new book from ABC News' Jonathan Karl, on how Trump Campaign attorney, Jenna Ellis, sent a memo with instructions to then Vice-President Mike Pence on the specific steps he needed to take in order to direct several swing-state legislatures and the U.S. House to steal the Presidential election on January 6th.
  • Not authoritarian enough for ya yet? It goes all the way down to the ground. The School Board in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, last week, had a debate about whether they should ban certain books from school libraries or whether they should both ban and burn them. Seriously. (Hearing those drums yet?) For now, they voted unanimously to ban them...and to reconsider burning later. They are hardly the only ones on the increasingly hard right to cancel facts and ideas they do not like. Over the summer, Florida's authoritarian Governor and Presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis convinced his appointed State Board of Education to approve a rule banning critical race theory and the use of material from the New York Times' Pulitzer Prize winning "1619 Project" from Florida classrooms.
  • While it's still remarkable that Trump has yet to face charges for mass homicide for the hundreds of thousands of Americans he helped to die from the coronavirus last year, more details are now emerging, via the U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, about how the Administration purposefully suppressed science and public health guidance from the CDC last year. Amidst the most deadly pandemic in more than 100 years, the Administration, according to testimony and documentation from both current and former public health officials given to the Subcommittee, decisions were made to alter scientific guidance and prevent health officials from communicating directly with the public. They were even given instructions at various points to destroy evidence of their email communications on these matters. Sounds like criminal activity to me. (You still there, Merrick Garland?)
  • Finally, taking a break from the drumbeat of rising American authoritarianism, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as the U.N.'s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow ends in overtime with progress, compromises and disappointments. And President Biden signs his landmark, bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal with billions of dollars worth of long-overdue climate-related measures contained within...

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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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Also: How the unvaxxed helped kill fully-vaxxed Colin Powell; And how Manchin is killing Biden's landmark plan to take on the climate crisis...
By Brad Friedman on 10/18/2021 6:20pm PT  

Most of the callers to today's BradCast were in favor of it, though a few were opposed and explained why. But, since many of our callers come from Dem-leaning Southern California, we stacked the deck a bit against our own "yes" position when it came to the callers we brought on the air in our limited time. Seemed only fair. [Audio link to full show is posted at the end of this summary.]

First up, however, a few quick thoughts on today's death of 84-year old, fully-vaccinated Republican former Secretary of State and Chair of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell. Though he (sort of) apologized for it and tried to make good in other ways, it's still difficult for me to shake his infamous presentation of lies at the U.N., falsely claiming that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. That presentation, which he later described as a "blot" on his career, arguably sealed the deal in favor of the U.S. going to war in Iraq. But our focus today is on those who are dishonestly using his COVID-related death to claim vaccines don't work. That is a lie that conveniently avoids the fact that Powell was battling multiple myeloma (a form of blood cancer) which greatly reduces the strength of ones immune system and is known to make vaccines less effective. It was, in fact, those who failed to get inoculated from COVID who helped kill Powell. We explain the facts and the math.

Next, before opening the phones to today's main topic, a few words on the news that broke late on Friday, reporting that the White House is now rewriting their sweeping Build Back Better budget reconciliation bill to not include the critical, landmark Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP) that was designed to provide financial incentives to utility companies to quickly transition from dirty fossil fuel use to clean, renewable energy. It also levied financial penalties on those power companies who failed to do so. The program was at the heart of the Biden Administration's climate plan and its vow to reduce dangerous greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity sector 80% by 2030, to reach net-zero in that sector by 2035, and to reach net-zero emissions economy-wide by 2050. If Friday's reports are accurate, the rewrite is a major blow to those plans and comes at the insistence of Coal Country West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, whose family has made a fortune on fossil fuels in the state. He also receives huge campaign funding from the fossil fuel industry. We discuss this troubling news with Desi Doyen and hope to have more on tomorrow's BradCast.

Then, we pick up the debate we left off at from last Friday's show with gerrymandering expert David Daley of FairVote.org. Daley literally wrote the book on the GOP's extreme partisan gerrymandering scheme after the 2010 Census and warns that it's about to get much worse as Republican state redistricting gets underway following the 2020 Census, particularly in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court gutting the Voting Rights Act to allow even more extreme partisan gerrymanders in even more states.

Despite the fact that, as Daley warned on the show last week, Republican state gerrymanders, on their own, will cost Dems control of the House even if America votes as it did in 2020 (when Dem House members received almost 5 million more votes than Republicans), he made the argument against Democratic states instituting similar extreme partisan gerrymanders in response.

As I explained on Friday, after many months of torturous consideration, I now favor Dem state gerrymanders to counter the Republicans in hopes of saving democracy itself in the bargain. It's an argument I hate making as a longtime election integrity and democracy champion, but I explain again today why the rising, anti-democracy Authoritarian Front (GOP) has changed my thinking as of now --- at least in lieu of passage of the Freedom to Vote Act by Congress, which would ban partisan gerrymandering in all 50 states.

Before we open the phones to listeners to hear their opinions on this contentious matter, we share Daley's argument explaining why he opposes Dem gerrymanders, along with my own, as I now advise against unilateral disarmament by the Democratic Party. All of which, of course, is only necessary right now, thanks to good ol' Joe Manchin's opposition to reforming the filibuster in order to pass the Freedom to Vote Act, a sweeping and long overdue election reform and voting rights measure --- actually designed by Manchin himself --- which would, among many other things, ban partisan gerrymanders all together.

As noted, while the majority of our callers were in favor of my position here, we tried to put a bit of a thumb on the scale for those who opposed it, so we could hear out "both sides" as best as possible on today's program. And, yes, we will continue this discussion in the days and week's ahead, as the redistricting fights get underway in earnest, and while the GOP has left survival of American democracy itself hanging by a thread...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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