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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, January 28, 2022
Grab Bag of American Corruption, Autocracy, Fascism: 'BradCast' 1/27/22
Record U.S. corruption; Biden economy booms (don't tell media!); Snowflake Youngkin; 'Maus' ban in TN before Holocaust Remembrance...
'Green News Report' 1/27/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
The costs of achieving net zero; Air pollution more deadly than known; More new plant-based fast food options; PLUS: Biden Admin revokes controversial mine leases in MN...
Recent GNRs: 1/25/22 - 1/20/22 - Archives...
Breyer Stepping Down from SCOTUS; Progressives Stepping Up to Run for Local Office: 'BradCast' 1/26/22
Guest: Run for Something's Amanda Litman; Also: Eastman loses suit to hide 1/6 emails...
Lots of Marginally Good News (But We Take What We Get): 'BradCast' 1/25/22
Drop Box voting restored in WI (for now); Great redistricting news in AL (unless appealed); 'Calming down' in Ukraine; Bad news for Alex Jones and John Eastman; More!...
'Green News Report' 1/25/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
OUR 1,200th EPISODE! Chemical pollution and the global ecosystem; Russia/Ukraine tensions to roil energy prices; PLUS: Intel's new $20B OH manufacturing hub...
Recent GNRs: 1/20/22 - 1/13/22 - Archives...
'So False it's Unbelievable': Plaintiff in Lawsuit Cited by Trump 'Order' to Seize Vote Systems: 'BradCast' 1/24/22
Guest: Marilyn Marks of CGG; Also: Ukraine tensions; SCOTUS takes up affirmative action...
Sunday 'Team Player' Toons
Join the party! With PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons!...
Draft Trump Order to Seize 2020 Vote Systems Misrepped Longstanding GA Lawsuit: 'BradCast' 1/21/22
Also: Harold Meyerson on building back BBB; Shell's billion dollar 'carbon capture' scam...
Trump Crime Family's Very Bad Week Gets Much MUCH Worse: 'BradCast' 1/20/22
Also: In vote of historic shame, Manchin and Sinema join Senate Republicans to undermine voting rights and American democracy...
'Green News Report' 1/20/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Breaking up Build Back Better?; Tonga devastated by volcano, tsunami; Extreme heat records in Southern Hemisphere; PLUS: Exxon pretends to care about the climate...
Recent GNRs: 1/13/22 - 1/11/22 - Archives...
On the Media, One Year In
and One Year Out: 'BradCast' 1/19/22
Guest: Eric Boehlert of Press Run; Also: SCOTUS okays release of Trump Jan. 6 records; NY A.G. details 'fraud' by Trump family; Fox Nation gets an hilarious 'hard no'...
GOP Gerrymanders 'Not So Bad' for Dems This Year? Think Again, Argues Expert: 'BradCast' 1/18/20
Guest: Brennan Center's Michael Li: Also: No fraud found in AZ; TX rejecting VBM requests...
Sunday 'National Treasure' Toons
Be sure to steal a moment for PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons...
DOJ 'Turning the Screws' on Path to Trump with Oath Keepers Sedition Charges: 'BradCast' 1/14/22
Guest: Marcy Wheeler; Also: WI judge bans drop boxes; OH Supremes nix GOP maps...
'Green News Report' 1/13/22
Offshore wind on NY, NJ horizons; 2021 oceans warmest ever recorded; Extreme weather spikes food, commodity prices; PLUS: EPA cracks down on toxic coal ash ponds...
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...


Still featuring the BradCast Radio Theatre Players --- and Mr. Henry Ford!...
By Brad Friedman on 12/24/2021 1:58pm PT  

The beloved award-wanting holiday special is back!
Just in time to save another COVID Christmas Eve!
And this year we dedicate it to Joe Manchin with an extra sockful of coal!

What would Henry Ford think about his company's new, all-electric F-150 Lightning pickup truck? Clues are available yet again this year, scattered throughout the program, as he hosted several great BradCast episodes from the bygone days of yesteryear.

So, dim the lights, stir up a cocktail, stoke up the fireplace and, for God's sake, put the kids to bed! (Or don't. What do we care? Maybe they'll learn something for a change.)

No masks required, as we travel back to the 1930s and 40s to revisit some of our earliest BradCasts from the golden days of radio, featuring three timeless short radio plays from the days when our program was still sponsored by the Ford Motor Company of Dearborn, Michigan and introduced each night by Mr. Ford himself!

Enjoy the world-renowned "BradCast Radio Theatre Players," featuring a very young Brad Friedman, Desi Doyen and the late great actor/playwright Paul Byrne!

And to all a good night! (Except to Communists!)

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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: 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...

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 host Nicole Sandler with Just Care USA's Dr. Diane Archer...
By Nicole Sandler on 12/10/2021 3:43pm PT  

Brad and Desi are out today, getting their COVID booster vaccines. They did it on a Friday so that if they have any side effects, they'll be fine by Monday, hopefully in time for their next show. So, today you got me again, NICOLE SANDLER, guest hosting today's BradCast. [Audio link to today's show follows this summary below.]

Medicare Open Enrollment ended on Tuesday, but I learned that you can still make changes to your plan during a special period that runs from January to March. So, with that in mind, I'm sharing an interview I did on my show on Monday, the day before open enrollment ended.

But, first up today, some of today’s news headlines, including the Supreme Court's ruling on the Texas abortion ban case, S.B. 8; the threat posed to Ukraine by Russia; the UK court determining that Julian Assange may be extradited to the U.S. to stand trial; the successful vote to create a union shop at a Starbucks in Buffalo, New York and the decision by Kellogg's to replace striking workers at their Michigan factory with scabs (and an Internet scheme that has crashed that plan); how Big Pharma has raised prices far in excess of the current rate of inflation, and more.

Then...by now, you've probably been inundated with commercials about Medicare Advantage. Remember the old adage, if something seems too good to be true, it usually is? That applies to healthcare too. Not only is Medicare Advantage not what they present it to be, it is an instrument leading to the privatization of Medicare.

And from an article I read at Common Dreams last week, I learned that there's another Medicare privatization scheme that started under Trump and is still forging ahead during the Biden years, called Direct Contracting.

So today, I speak with DR. DIANE ARCHER of JustCareUSA.org, who truly explains all you need to know about traditional Medicare and gap insurance, Medicare Advantage, and the new Direct Contracting program. And as I mentioned during the interview, there's an explanation of what it takes to buy a Medicare gap policy after you've been in a Medicare Advantage program. Find that explainer here. But beware, it's not pretty!

For those of us still too young for Medicare, we're still in the open enrollment period for the ACA (or, Obamacare) through healthcare.gov or your state exchange. Biden's pandemic relief bill, the American Rescue Plan, that was passed soon after he tool office really brought down our costs. So if you go to the exchange, you can find good insurance at a very good price.

To be covered on Jan. 1, you must enroll by Dec. 15. Open enrollment runs through Jan. 15...

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!




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

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

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

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

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Guest: Labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein of UC Santa Barbara; Also: Federal Appeals Court hears Trump case for blocking release of Jan 6 docs; Meadows now said 'cooperating' with Jan 6 Committee...
By Brad Friedman on 11/30/2021 5:53pm PT  

The accountability train and unionization train are both chugging forward on today's BradCast. So, that's a good thing! And we've also got a news-packed catch-up episode of the Green News Report following our week off last week. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, after losing at the U.S. District Court level, Donald Trump had his day before a three-judge panel at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday. He is still attempting to block the release of his White House documents related to the attack on the U.S. Capitol which he incited on January 6th in his desperate, last ditch effort to steal the 2020 election. The former President is claiming "executive privilege" to block the release of hundreds of documents, even though he is no longer President or, as the lower court judge declared just weeks ago: "Presidents are not kings and plaintiff is not President". The current President, Joe Biden, has rejected Trump's plea to invoke executive privilege to block the release of the White House records subpoenaed by the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack. We detail today's hearing and the arguments made in court on both sides.

Next, in related news, Trump's former Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, has also been subpoenaed for both documents and testimony by the House Select Committee. Like Steve Bannon before him, Meadows previously ignored those subpoenas, also claiming "executive privilege". But now that Bannon has been indicted on two federal counts of Contempt of Congress for having done so, Meadows appears to be having second thoughts. The Committee now says Meadows is cooperating and plans to sit for a deposition. The question remains as to how much he will actually share with the Committee, which still seems prepared to pull the "Contempt" trigger against him, if necessary.

Also coming up in related accountability news this week: A likely Contempt referral for low-level DoJ Trump lackey Jeffrey Clark, who the disgraced former President almost elevated to Attorney General just prior to January 6th attack, due to his willingness to lie to state legislatures that the DoJ had found fraud in the 2020 election. They didn't. Now, Clark has been refusing fully respond to the Committee's subpoenas and will hopefully pay a price for it in the coming days.

Meanwhile, in some good labor news on Monday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found in favor of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU)'s complaint that retail giant Amazon unlawfully gamed a unionization vote at its Bessemer, Alabama warehouse earlier this year. The NLRB has now ordered a re-vote for workers this Spring, after they voted against unionization by a 2 to 1 margin following months of pressure, weekly mandatory meetings with anti-union consultants, and all other forms or propaganda from the company during the initial election.

We're joined to discuss the (seemingly) good news from the NLRB by longtime labor historian, author and Distinguished Professor at UC Santa Barbara, NELSON LICHTENSTEIN, who joined us earlier this year to discuss the initial, now nullified unionization vote in Bessemer.

The colorful Lichtenstein explains the history of similar revotes, how frequently they are ordered by the federal labor board and what the odds are of the union winning this time, given the nearly 100 percent turnover in workers at the e-commerce giant's Alabama fulfillment center since the initial vote last March. He also explains that while the NLRB found a number of violations by the company, most of the egregious stuff they did to intimidate workers --- including one-on-one pressure sessions, anti-union propaganda posted in restrooms, offers of $1,000 to quit --- is almost all actually legal under current federal law.

"Once Amazon realized that probably the election would be overturned, they once again began to hold these captive audience meetings," says Lichtenstein. "These are meetings that are called by the company as they lecture to the workers why a union is a bad thing. They're really closer to Maoist re-education camps or Stalinist coercion methods than anything else. That is happening as we speak. Plus, Amazon is also keeping tabs on who the union activists are."

"All this," he argues, "points out that we really need a completely fundamental and radical change in the labor law. And more than just the labor law --- in the whole ethos that surrounds the idea of workers having rights, a voice, and having a union."

As it turns out, there is a new labor law, the Protect the Right to Organize (or PRO) Act, currently pending in Congress. "It would make illegal these captive audience meetings, which are very, very intimidating and authoritarian. It would eliminate that. It would also increase the penalties --- the financial penalties --- on companies for violating the labor law," notes Lichtenstein, the author of some 16 books related to these issues. "Right now, how much does Amazon have to pay for its violation of the labor law, which is creating this new election? Zero. The penalties are utterly trivial."

But the odds for passage of the PRO Act at this time remain long, Lichtenstein concedes. That said, he also notes that both the recently signed bipartisan infrastructure bill and Joe Biden's still-pending Build Back Better social safety net and climate action proposal have quite a few measures that support union labor.

As the "Great Resignation" continues for workers who are finding opportunities with better pay and benefits elsewhere, while the nation tries to move on from the pandemic, Lichtenstein (who recently compared the situation to opportunities for former slaves during the Civil War reconstruction era in a Washington Post op-ed) does suggest a potential way forward for anti-union companies that now face threats of being broken up by Biden's aggressive appointees at federal agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission.

"What needs to happen is this," Lichtenstein advises, "you need to make management come to the conclusion that the lesser evil, the lesser problem in their business model, would be recognizing the union rather than facing the ire of either an aroused public or government action." He tells us that Amazon, Facebook and other Silicon Valley firms are facing a "re-invigoration of anti-trust law in the Biden Administration," which he describes as "actually very pro-labor."

Those companies, he notes, could use some friends, "and an essential ally is labor." Lichtenstein details how such alliances prevented the breakup of big chain stores under anti-trust laws in the 1930s and even at General Motors in the 1950s. "Companies like that said to the labor movement, 'Well, we'll recognize you, if you let us stay big.' And that happened!"

Finally today, Desi Doyen jams about 20 minutes (or more!) of environmental news into our latest 6-minute Green News Report in hopes of getting us at least partially caught up on so much that we missed after taking the last week off for the holiday...

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We're back! Setting the record straight with REAL news on the economy, COVID, Ukraine and more. Plus: Callers help out on all of the above...
By Brad Friedman on 11/29/2021 5:46pm PT  

We're back live on today's BradCast after a week off for travel and downtime over the holiday --- and the need to set the record straight on a few things that have been misreported in our otherwise blissful absence. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

There's plenty to worry about right now in this country and on this planet. Just not necessarily the stuff the corporate media (and GOP) are telling us (or hoaxing us) to worry about. So, after a week away, we ease our way back in, beginning with the process of trying to help reset what Americans should be worried about, should not be worried about, or should otherwise be thankful for. And we also open up the phones to callers to help us do all of the above.

Among some of the source material for stories covered and/or records set straight on today's program...

  • No, as we discussed just before we left for Thanksgiving break, post-pandemic inflation is not the disaster that Republicans (and the nation's corporate media) have a stake in pretending that it is. Especially not with the recent, under-reported statistics regarding the lowest number of new weekly jobless claims filed since 1969 (a story that both the media and the GOP haven't spent nearly as much time telling you about, even as Republicans are describing Americans suffering from inflation and high gas prices as a "gold mine" for their party.)
  • The corporate media have spent most of the weekend freaking out about the scary-sounding new COVID variant called Omicron. It might be scary. It might not be. Frankly, health officials just don't know enough to know either way. But, if you're already vaccinated (especially with a booster!) and wear a mask when indoors in public places, you are likely to be just fine. That, before the mRNA vaccines get quickly updated to handle the Omicron variant in a remarkable 100 days or less, as both Pfizer and Moderna are now working toward. As President Biden correctly noted at the White House today, "This variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic." From what little we know, at least to date, no, this isn't worth being overly worried about...at least not yet --- unless you're unable to or are dumb enough or hoaxed enough to not have gotten vaccinated by now.
  • Very much worth being worried about? What is now going on --- potentially --- in both the South China Sea and Ukraine. With the pandemic, the economy and, most appallingly, the Republican Party working to destabilize the U.S. right now, China and Russia are far greater threats in both regions than they might otherwise be.
  • There is much more to be either worried or not worried about as we detail on today's program, along with a bunch of callers who help along those lines...or don't...

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Guest: Dr. Matthew Boedy of the Univ. of North Georgia; Also: Shatner in space; Workers have had enough; Biden's big new off-shore wind plan...
By Brad Friedman on 10/13/2021 6:56pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We're nearly two years into this seemingly endless pandemic. If you happen to teach at a college or university in a "blue" state and have been vaccinated, you can probably go to work each day feeling relatively safe. If you work at a "red" state university, however, the story is very different. That, of course, is thanks to the twisted politics of our former President and those who either fear his wrath or have been brain-poisoned enough to put their own families and communities at risk because of it. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, first up --- mostly for Desi and other Trekkers like her --- we spend a few minutes on William "Captain Kirk" Shatner after he oldly went were a few have gone before. But while Shatner got a free ride to the edge of space for three minutes on Wednesday, courtesy of Jeff Bezos, it only serves as a reminder of the many essential, working class grunts who actually paid for his trip. On the other hand, some of Shatner's remarks upon return to Earth also remind us of our fragile climate and thin blue atmosphere that keeps us alive, even as we treat it like a garbage dump.

Speaking of essential workers, new data from the Labor Department this week reveals many are quitting their jobs in droves, particularly those forced to come face-to-face with an angry, frequently privileged, sometimes violent, often mask-free public right now in low-wage service jobs at bars, restaurants, hotels and retail outlets. The record number of workers quitting to look for better working conditions in August comes as businesses are struggling to find workers, with some employers --- gasp! --- forced to offer higher wages and benefits to stay in business.

But while it may be easy enough to leave one bartender job for a better one at an establishment that takes better care of its workers, it's not quite as easy for those who teach at colleges and universities. We've all seen endless videos of furious parents at local school board meetings, threatening school officials if they dare institute mask mandates to help keep teachers and children --- and their furious parents --- safe. But we've heard less about higher education faculty whose institutions, often in Republican-leaning states, find themselves at the mercy of GOP Governors mandating anti-masking rules or state-run boards (often controlled by the same rightwing politicos) who refuse to hear the pleas of college and university students and faculty alike.

Late last month, for example, more than 50 faculty members at the University of Georgia, many with expertise in the study of infectious diseases, signed a faculty statement declaring: "In order to protect our students, staff and faculty colleagues, we will wear masks and will require all of our students and staff to wear masks in our classes and laboratories until local community transmission rates improve, despite the ban on mask mandates and the USG [University System of Georgia] policy to punish, and potentially fire, any faculty taking this action."

We're joined today by DR. MATTHEW BOEDY, Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Composition at the University of North Georgia in Gainesville. He also serves as the Georgia chapter President of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), where eight national chapters recently urged the federal government to step in to help keep faculty and students safe at public universities were Governors and school boards will not.

The USG is governed in the Peach State by the Board of Regents, many of whom are appointed by the sitting Republican Governor. "They generally follow the Governor's wishes in terms of policies," Boedy explains. But last year, "they pushed him aside and gave us a mask mandate when Gov. Brian Kemp said he didn't want any mask mandates." The rule was repealed in June, however, as the pandemic momentarily ebbed. "Then Delta came, and we desperately needed [another mask mandate], and they refused to have one because they weren't going to push aside the Governor a second time, especially in terms of how heated it has gotten. The Governor, of course, has banned mask mandates around the state."

As an expert in rhetoric, I asked about the irony of Republicans opposing mandates by instituting mandates against mandates. "The groups on the right and politicians on the right will use words in opposite of their intended meaning or their usual meaning to get what they want. They don't like mandates, but they'll push mandates in another way. It is truly cognitive dissonance," Boedy asserts. "And it just shows that this is not driven by science, it's not driven by common sense. It's not even driven by any type of logic that I can follow, because if you speak to these people, they just change in any direction that is against what you're saying. "

"As a rhetoric teacher," he continues, "I'm teaching a class on misinformation, and I'm doing it for this reason. It's just really difficult to get beyond the cognitive dissonance, and I'm trying to teach people not just to recognize it but to find rhetorical ways to persuade people who seem to not want to be persuaded." We wish him luck.

In the meantime, Boedy also details the actions that the AAUP has taken to try and get help for "red" state universities from government officials and the responses they've received from elected officials both at the state and federal level. He notes that in a state where "collective bargaining is barred by state law," they don't have unionized power behind them, but they had considered walkouts anyway, before deciding against it. At least for now. "We didn't want to punish our students for the deplorable actions of our university administration.  We didn't want to walk out. We didn't want to stop class. We didn't want to add to the punishment their getting with the lack of masks," he says. "What we're trying to do is keep up public pressure --- I call it a public shaming of our university leaders --- and hopefully, they respond. So far, sadly, they have not."

Boedy says, however, that they may get some help from the Biden Administration's Department of Education. In the meantime, we happened to catch him on "a dark day" for higher education in Georgia. On Wednesday, the Board of Regents made conditions arguably worse for professors in the University of Georgia System, as they voted on Wednesday to approve a new tenure policy allowing tenured professors to be fired without faculty input. "What we have now is tenure in name only," Boedy explains. "They erased the due process protections for a particular group of professors, ending tenure protections for them. So, the dominoes can certainly fall after that to the rest of us. But it is, yes, the death of tenure and due process in Georgia."

Finally, after a week or two of reporting on the recent oil spill off the coast of Southern California in Orange County on this show, some much brighter, somewhat related news. "The Biden administration announced on Wednesday a plan to develop large-scale wind farms along nearly the entire coastline of the United States, the first long-term strategy from the government to produce electricity from offshore turbines," according to the New York Times late today. We happily discuss...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern; Also: NYC mayoral primary will take weeks to tally by RCV system; Socialist wins upset in Buffalo mayoral primary; Dems 'not deterred' by GOP filibuster of voting rights bill...
By Brad Friedman on 6/23/2021 6:00pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The Republicans' stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court handed down a bunch of new decisions today. New York's primaries elections were very interesting in both NYC and Buffalo on Tuesday. And Congressional Democrats vow to fight on for voting rights after Senate Republicans, as expected, used the filibuster to block debate on protecting voting rights. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

First, on yesterday's primaries in NY, the race for Mayor in New York City featured almost 15 candidates. But, under the city's new Ranked Choice Voting system, as we explained on yesterday's program, it could take weeks before we are told who the winner is. Whether voters will have confidence in those results --- after weeks of the virtually-impossible-to-oversee RCV counting (and recounting) system --- is anyone's guess. For the moment, a fairly conservative law-and-order candidate, Eric Adams, leads the pack in the ongoing first round of tallying, with about 32 points. He's followed by progressives Maya Wiley and Kathryn Garcia with 22 and 19.5% each, respectively. Andrew Yang is in fourth place with almost 12% of the vote. As none of the candidates received more than 50 percent, however, the Ranked Choice tallying will soon begin. When it ends, and who wins, is anybody's guess. Yes, even though Yang conceded after his 4th place finish, he could still end up winning under the confusing RCV process. And the winner of the Democratic primary is almost certain to be the next Mayor of NYC.

Meanwhile, up in Buffalo, New York's second largest city, India Walton, a 39 year-old African American socialist with no experience in political office, unseated the city's four-term Democratic Mayor Byron Brown in a huge upset. If she wins the general in November, Walton will be the first socialist mayor of a major city since 1960, after unseating an incumbent Buffalo Mayor for the first time since 1961. Brown, however, reportedly is considering a write-in campaign this fall against Walton, given that there will be no Republican for her to face on this year's ballot in the heavily Democratic city.

Down in D.C. on Tuesday, the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate "won" the vote to proceed with debate on their sweeping elections, voting rights and campaign reform bill known as For the People, when all 50 Democrats stuck together to vote in favor. But they lost anyway, because Republicans, for their part, all voted against debating voting rights, even as state level GOP legislatures are adopting bills all across the country to restrict such rights. 60 votes would have been needed to overcome the Republican filibuster in the Senate, where Senators representing a tiny majority of Americans (about 20 percent, according to Ari Berman), have the ability to block any and all legislation offered by Democrats, whose 50 Senators represent some 43 million more Americans than those represented by the 50 Republicans in the upper chamber. Nonetheless, Majority Leader Schumer, President Biden and House Speaker Pelosi all vowed to fight on, with Pelosi announcing that Dems would "not be deterred"; Biden declaring "this fight is far from over"; and Schumer promising that Tuesday's vote "was the starting gun, not the finish line."

For any of that to be true, however, West Virginia's Joe Manchin and Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema, at the very least, would have to agree to change the rules for the Senate filibuster. Dems hope that voters may help convince them to do so over the Independence Day recess, given that For the People is supported by some 68% of American voters.

Next, we're joined by the always-great MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal reporter at Slate, to discuss, among other things, the decisions handed down today at SCOTUS, as the Court wraps up this year's term at the end of the week. Despite the 6 to 3 advantage for rightwingers on the Republicans' stolen and packed Supreme Court (because Republicans were more than willing to kill the filibuster in order to accomplish it!), Chief Justice John Roberts, once again, managed to produce largely consensus decisions on all but one of the opinions released today.

Among those opinions, as explained and analyzed by Stern, was a very troubling ruling that kneecaps union organizing rights across the country. That one, which Stern notes "is very over the top" and makes up "a completely new rule that did not exist before," was the one decided by the rightwingers' 6 to 3 vote. It continues the Roberts Court's relentless erosion of labor rights. But there were also reasonable decisions handed down on police powers to enter your home without a warrant and on a high school's punishment of a cheerleader who used the F-word on Snapchat over a weekend while she was in 9th grade. One other decision was also released today, allowing President Biden to replace Donald Trump's terrible director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which oversees mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

"There's enough credit to go around here," says Stern, in response to my question about whether Roberts deserves credit for some of the narrow decisions that were able to overcome a bitterly divided Court without causing too much damage to longstanding rights and precedent. "I think Chief Justice John Roberts is in the driver's seat on some of these compromise decisions. But I think that, to some degree, Justices Kavanaugh and Barrett are willing to go along, and so are the liberal justices. I think a lot of these decisions involve compromise on both sides. Some of them include some bitter pills for the left or the right to swallow, but at the end of the day, six justices are trying their best to duck the big issues, and issue really small decisions that don't ruffle too many feathers."

The fallout so far this term, the first with the GOP's 6 to 3 advantage, was "not as terrible as it could be." Though, Stern cautions, "It's not over yet. There are still some major decisions coming down the pike. And no matter what happens, we've still got next term with guns and abortion, of course."

The biggest decision this term, however, may be whether or not 82-year old Justice Stephen Breyer is going to step down to allow President Biden to nominate someone younger to fill his seat while Democrats hold the majority in the Senate, or whether he's going to pull a Ruth Bader Ginsburg and wait to leave the Court, one way or another, after Republicans have regained a majority in the upper chamber. Given that the Senate's Republican leader Mitch McConnell has already indicated he is unlikely to ever allow a Democratic President to fill a Supreme Court vacancy while Republicans hold a majority, we both hope that Breyer will take McConnell at his word, and get out now while the getting is still good.

As usual, it's another jam-packed BradCast. Enjoy!

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 5/4/2021 10:55am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Biden makes history with climate-focused Congressional address; Senate GOP won't vote for Biden's infrastructure bill, no matter what's in it; New report finds reduction of methane crucial for climate; PLUS: Washington State passes landmark cap and trade law... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): U.S. climate 'normals' that are warmer than ever; Satellites show world’s glaciers melting faster than ever; Leaked docs: Gas industry secretly fights electrification; Biden admin proposes phase out of climate-damaging refrigerant HFCs; Hidden Super Polluters Revealed in Wake of Texas Energy Crisis; Forest Offsets Actually Adding Millions of Tons of CO2 Into Atmosphere; RIP Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant in New York; Lithium-ion battery soaks up the sun for recharge... PLUS: Electric cars: What will happen to all the dead batteries?... and much, MUCH more! ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: CUNY's Deepak Bhargava; Also: Biden raises fed contractor min. wage to $15/hr; Fox 'News' tosses new 'red meat' lies to gullible viewers...
By Brad Friedman on 4/27/2021 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: There is at least one thing Republicans are very good at. Whenever possible, they leverage their rightwing policy agenda --- such that they have one --- however they can in order to shift political power to their advantage. They do this both inside government and in their external communities, such as media, law enforcement agencies and corporate industry. Our guest today suggests that Democrats must learn from the Right to do the same thing...but completely differently. [Link to full audio of today's show is posted below this summary.]

They shouldn't adopt policies to prevent their opponents from being able to vote, as Republicans do. But the progressive policy agenda should be constructed to expand the base of progressive voters. While Democrats are unlikely, at this point, to win the hearts and minds of many Trump supporters after their years of brainwashing by the Republican/Fox "News" propaganda industrial complex (including a weekend full of lies falsely claiming that Joe Biden's climate policy includes a ban on red meat --- or, as Trump's former WH Economic Advisor warned on his Fox show over the weekend, Americans may soon only be be allowed to drink "plant-based beer" on July 4...yeah, seriously), Democrats can expand their own electorate through both smart legislation and executive actions.

We're joined today to explain all of this by City University of New York's Distinguished Lecturer of Urban Studies and Roosevelt Institute Fellow DEEPAK BHARGAVA who, with Dorian T. Warren last month at The American Prospect, detailed what they describe as the "Progressive Multiplier" effect. A way, they argue, to defeat Trumpism, as long as Dems take the right lessons --- not the wrong ones! --- from Republicans.

"When rightwing governments take hold, when the Republicans take power, they of course care about their policy agenda, like tax cuts and deregulation," Bhargava tells me. "But they start with the premise that in order to get all that done, they have to take the knees out from under their opposition. They're first order of business --- even though they often don't run on these issues because they're manifestly unpopular --- their very first orders of business are typically to weaken unions. That's often number one. Number two is to weaken voting rights, targeting people of color especially, and young voters who lean Democratic. And number three is to change the rules of the political game through gerrymandering and other means, so that they are making an electorate that is more favorable to them.  By doing these things, by passing these things first, conservatives and Republicans create a situation where they have more power in the next legislature and the one after that, to do more and more conservative policy, to take the state or the country in a more extreme direction."

Bhargava is clear, however, the lesson for progressives must not be to prevent their opponents from access to the ballot box, as Republicans do, but to expand their own pool of voters. "This is the crucial distinction. I do want Democrats to be ruthless. But I want them to be ruthless about expanding democracy -- Republicans have been ruthless about restricting democracy --- democracy at the workplace, meaning unions, democracy at the polls, meaning voting rights. I want the Democratic Party to be ruthless about expanding everybody's participation. That means Republicans, too. But making it easier to participate, easier to join a union, easier to vote, easier to participate in all kinds of ways in civil society. So, this is the crucial difference. Yes, it will redound to Democrats' favor and progressives' favor if more people are able to be part of our democracy."

"The underlying agenda here is to expand democracy in America," he reiterates, "and that's why the two strategies don't have any equivalence."

How can that be done via legislation and --- as the GOP has taken obstruction of legislation to an art form --- via Executive Actions by the President? We discuss all of that, including many examples --- from labor policy to policing to immigration enforcement and much more --- on today's program.

One key example Bhargava offers today, among many --- as also discussed in his new book, out today, called Immigration Matters: Movements, Visions, and Strategies for a Progressive Future --- is that the Biden Administration could add millions of new voters to the rolls, almost overnight. "There are nine million people who right now are legal permanent residents with green cards who could become citizens if we aggressively did outreach, lowered the prohibitive fees, undid all the barriers Trump created. Nine million new people by 2022 could be voting. And, as it happens, the vast majority of those will turn out to be Democrats."

Of course, Republicans know this, which is why Trump's executive policies were "hugely strategic in making it much, much harder for people to become citizens and vote. They increased fees, they made the questions harder. They lengthened the time you had to wait. They did everything they could to throw roadblocks in the way." The Biden Administration could, and should, reverse all of that immediately, Bhargava argues.

Also on today's program, several examples of both the GOP's institutionalized and well-funded rightwing agenda machine --- courtesy, in this case, of Fox' phony "Biden burger ban" lie all weekend long, across all of their shows, and the upcoming extreme gerrymandering by several states where Republicans are picking up House seats after the 2020 decennial Census, where they control the entire redistricting process. While several Democratic-leaning states are picking up seats as well, none of them have processes completely controlled by Dems. But Democrats are not completely unaware of these ideas, as illustrated today by President Biden's Executive Order raising the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $15/hour and automatically indexing the new wage to inflation for the future. That will be hundreds of thousands of Americans who will have Democrats to thank for a nearly 50% raise. Dems, however, as Bhargava agrees, need to get much better at letting those Americans know who is responsible for their newly increased fortunes.

I hope you'll tune in for today's important discussion.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, with news on the GOP's laughable infrastructure counter-proposal to Biden's American Jobs Plan; the EPA revoking the Trump Administration's Big Government ban on state's rights to set their own emissions standards; and a very important message to climate emergency obstructionists from teen climate activist Greta Thunberg...

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Guest: Jordan Blair Woods of Univ. of Arkansas School of Law; Also: CHAUVIN 'GUILTY' ON ALL COUNTS; MT's new vote suppression laws...
By Brad Friedman on 4/20/2021 7:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A day in which a cop was finally found guilty of the murder of a hand-cuffed black man is probably a good day to discuss an important idea for long-overdue police reforms that could help keep people alive and allow police to do more of what they should be doing and less of what they are not needed to do. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of summary.]

Just before airtime today, the verdict was announced in the trial of white, 45-year old former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was notoriously seen on video last year with his knee on the neck of George Floyd, a 46-year old handcuffed black man. After more than 9 minutes, Chauvin choked the life out of Floyd and was found guilty today on all three counts of 2nd and 3rd degree murder and 2nd degree manslaughter by a unanimous jury in Minneapolis. In a state already on edge from the killing of a 20-year old motorist by a 26-year veteran white cop just over a week ago in neighboring Brooklyn Center, MN, the state and the nation exhaled a collective sigh of relief as the judge announced the jury found Chauvin guilty on all counts before he was handcuffed and marched off to prison.

Before speaking to our guest on a related note today...Republicans at the state level in Montana are the latest to pass new laws to restrict access to the voting booth (for certain voters) on the heels of Donald Trump's evidence-free claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Two new provisions were adopted in MT on Monday under the guise of preventing fraud, despite Republicans in the state being unable to cite any examples at all of voter fraud there in modern history. One bill would end same-day voter registration, which has been a problem-free success in the state since its broad bipartisan passage in 2005. The other measure enacts new Photo ID restrictions at the polling place by, among other things, disallowing student IDs as an acceptable form of ID for voting, despite 20 years of zero problems or fraud with such IDs. The bills were signed by the Governor yesterday, and the state was sued by Democrats in response today. Montana becomes the third state to adopt newly restrictive voting laws following the 2020 election, after Iowa and Georgia did so previously. All three are now be forced to defend their new suppression laws in court.

On the federal level, Democrats in the House have passed several laws which would counter many of the new restrictions being pushed forward by Republicans at the state level. But filibustering Republicans and the refusal by Democrats like West Virginia's Joe Manchin to reform or kill the undemocratic Senate rule are preventing passage of those landmark measures that would protect voters and elections nationally. Today, during a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on "Jim Crow 2021: The Latest Assault on the Right to Vote," ranking Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley made clear how out to lunch he is and how disingenuous his party is in supporting these new restrictions on the franchise. Among Grassley's embarrassing comments at today's hearing: His contention that Major League Baseball pulling their All-Star game out of Atlanta is "likely to cost the city's economy 100 million jobs" (there are fewer than 11 million people in the entire state) and that corporations and voters exercising their free speech rights to decry vote suppression amounts to "economic terrorism".

Then, it's back to policing with our guest today, JORDAN BLAIR WOODS, criminology expert and Associate Professor of Law at University of Arkansas' School of Law. Amid outrage over a seemingly never ending series of incidents revealing cops assaulting and/or killing motorists --- usually black ones --- following otherwise routine traffic stops, the demands for policing reforms grow seemingly louder each day.

Woods has been writing at a number of law journals for several years now about one seemingly simple reform that could save lives and prevent so many traffic stops from turning deadly: replace traffic stops by armed police with unarmed traffic monitors. According to the Dept. of Justice [PDF], more Americans, 24 million, come into contact with police via traffic stops than by any other means each year. Routine stops for a missing tail light, an expired tag or even an air freshener hanging from a rear view mirror too often turns unnecessarily deadly. As Woods detailed in a 2019 Michigan Law Review article [PDF], this can be attributed to cops being trained to believe that every traffic stop could turn deadly in seconds (even though that is decidedly not the case.)

As he tells me today, "One of the key reasons why we see officers having so much authority to do what they're able to do during traffic stops really rests on this myth that traffic stops are especially dangerous settings for police officers.  But what we're seeing play out, and what empirical research has really documented, is that when we're thinking about who is harmed during traffic stops, it's those who are from communities of color that are disproportionately stopped, frisked, cited, arrested and ultimately subjected to force. And, unfortunately, too many times it results in their death during traffic stops."

Reporting on this same topic earlier this year at The Appeal, Meg O'Connor notes: "Black drivers are 20 percent more likely to be stopped than white drivers, and as much as twice as likely to be searched, according to a study of 100 million traffic stops conducted by the Stanford Open Policing Project. And 11 percent of all fatal shootings by police in 2015 occurred during traffic stops, according to a Washington Post database of police killings."

So, what if cops were taken out of that equation entirely? In his recent Stanford Law Review article, Woods offers a framework for doing just that. "The basic idea behind the framework," he explains, "is that we know that tens of millions of traffic stops occur every year. Many of these are for run-of-the-mill traffic violations. I argue in my framework that we don't really need police to be involved in this type of enforcement. So it creates new public agencies that are completely separate from the police, work independently from the police.  Their basic role is to enforce traffic and not to conduct criminal investigations, which is really where we see a lot of problems during traffic stops today come from."

He calls for traffic agencies to be created and manned by "unarmed traffic monitors to essentially do routine traffic enforcement. They wouldn't be armed, they wouldn't have the typical police powers to search or arrest. It really bring the traffic stop to being just about traffic."

"One of the advantages I see to having non-police agencies and non-police traffic monitors conducting these types of stops, is that we could really use discretion to only be enforcing traffic laws in situations where we think there's a notable safety threat, and eliminating these situations that we are seeing now over air fresheners. We know that these minor infractions are being used for pre-textual reasons by police to pull people over. We avoid that by at least moving to a regime where police are not handling this type of work," Woods argues.

But would such a system place unarmed traffic monitors in harms way during stops? Would it cut off a necessary crime fighting tool for police? Can much of this work simply be automated to remove many of the face-to-face confrontations in the first place? And, given that Wood's proposition seems like such a no-brainer reform, frankly, what legitimate objections might police or lawmakers have to such a new framework?

We discuss all of that and much more with Woods today, who also comments on similar reforms recently enacted in places like Berkley, California and elsewhere, as many cities and towns across the nation seek reforms to help stem the tide of our excruciating epidemic of unnecessarily violent and systemically racist policing.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report. As usual, she rings the alarm bell on new studies warning of our worsening climate emergency, even while sharing some exceptionally encouraging news today, including word that the nation's largest coal mining union now appears to be on board with Joe Biden's plan to find new work in renewable energy for those whose jobs in dying fossil fuel industries will necessarily be displaced in the critical effort to mitigate the most deadly effects of our ever-warming climate.

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