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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, December 1, 2022
'Green News Report' 12/1/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
DoJ sues to clean up water supply in Jackson, MS; Mauna Loa shuts global CO2 monitor; New methane rules for drilling; PLUS: Int. Dept to help tribal communities escape rising seas...
Recent GNRs: 11/29/22 - 11/17/22 - Archives...
Good News and Bad News in GA Early Runoff Voting: 'BradCast' 11/30/22
Guest: GA election integrity expert, observer Jeanne Dufort; Also: Dems unite behind new House leadership; Bills passed to help avert rail strike; Meadows ordered to testify in GA...
Fun Times in MAGA Land!:
Sedition! Collusion! Denial!:
'BradCast' 11/29/22
Oath Keepers chief 'guilty'; GOP money launderer 'guilty'; AZ Dem SoS/Guv-elect fights to keep Repubs from disenfranchising selves...
'Green News Report' 11/29/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
While we were out... Breakthrough at U.N. climate conference; Americans at risk of power blackouts; Buffalo, NY buried by blizzard; PLUS: Houston, TX under boil water notice...
Recent GNRs: 11/17/22 - 11/15/22 - Archives...
We're Back! But Election and Accountability Season Never Left: 'BradCast' 11/28/22
Pillow Guy is running!; Special Counsel wasting no time; Trumpers failed in AK too; Lake still pretending in AZ; Callers have a few thoughts...
Sunday 'Once More Unto the Breach' Toons
And here we go again...into PDiddie's latest post-Turkey toon collection...
Turkey Toons
Gobble gobble! Our thanks to the one and only Pdiddie for a special holiday collection of toons to help you burn off a few calories!...
Debating the Merits of Garland's New Special Counsel: 'BradCast' 11/21/22
Guests: Former DoJ prosecutor Randall D. Eliason of GWU, Const'l law expert John Bonifaz of FSFP; Also: Does the Constitution disqualify insurrectionist Trump from 2024?...
Sunday 'Ready or Not' Toons
PDiddie's latest collection of the past week's most gut-busting political toons...
Now Back to the Quest for Trump Accountability, Still in Progress: 'BradCast' 11/17/22
Guest: Allison Gill of 'Mueller, She Wrote'; Also: Pelosi leaves Dem leadership; GOP secures House majority; Bass wins L.A. Mayor...
'Green News Report' 11/17/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Crunch time for COP27 climate agreement; NASA says sea levels to rise a foot by 2050; Trump's 2024 announcement climate lies; PLUS: Climate disinfo surging again...
Recent GNRs: 11/15/22 - 11/10/22 - Archives...
2022 GOP Political Fallout, Blame, Circus Begins: 'BradCast' 11/16/22
Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Trump's running again; House, Senate GOP leadership chaos; MS moves to hand-marked paper ballots...
'Green News Report' 11/15/22
Biden pledges leadership, funding at U.N. climate summit; U.S. and China resume climate talks; Costly Nicole; PLUS: Dems Sen. majority to hold line on climate policy...
Sunday 'Red Wave' Toons
Surf the wave! It's Pdiddie's first post-midterms collection of the week's best political toons!...
The Guy Whose Data Analysis Was Right on the Election on Why Media Got It So Wrong (Again): 'BradCast' 11/11/22
Guest: TargetSmart's Tom Bonier; 'Red wave' buffoonery; Latest results from AZ, NV...
It's the Gerrymandering (and Corrupted Courts), Stupid: 'BradCast' 11/10/22
Guest: Redistricting expert, author David Daley; Also: How Fox 'News' dupes followers via smartphone; Latest Sen, House, Guv results...
'Green News Report' 11/10/22
Failed 'red wave' is good news for the climate; New reports warn of skyrocketing methane levels; PLUS: Mixed results for state environmental ballot propositions...
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...
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'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: GA election integrity expert, observer Jeanne Dufort; Also: Dems unite behind new House leadership; Bills passed to help avert rail strike; Meadows ordered to testify in GA...
By Brad Friedman on 11/30/2022 6:24pm PT  

As early voting records are smashed and lines are obscenely long once again in advance of Tuesday's U.S. Senate Runoff Election Day, today's BradCast offers a maddening reminder of why we've been covering Georgia elections, in such detail, for so many years. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Thanks to state Republicans who cut the time for runoff elections by more than half after the 2020 elections, voters across the GA are now forced to wait in hours-long lines to vote early this week in the contest between incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Trump-backed former football player and unapologetic liar Herschel Walker. While early voting records are being broken, as we detailed yesterday, much of that is thanks to the GOP's SB202 voter suppression bill [PDF], adopted last year by the state legislature, supported by its Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger and signed by its Republican Governor Brian Kemp.

Where Peach State voters had as many as 17 early voting days in the November 8 elections, they now have no more than 7. And with the compressed time between the general and the runoff, few are able to request, receive and return absentee mail ballots in time. Instead, voters are now being forced to stand in line to vote at polling places on the state's 100% unverifiable touchscreen computer voting systems.

We're joined today to discuss that and much more by longtime election integrity champion JEANNE DUFORT of the Coalition for Good Governance. Dufort has served as Georgia election observer for many years, representing both the Democratic and Libertarian Parties at various times in the Peach State's rural, Republican-leaning Morgan County. She is also a named plaintiff (Full Disclosure: Along with me!) in the Coalition's lawsuit challenging several of the many disturbing provisions of SB202.

Dufort offers insight today from on the ground on how things went for voters on November 8, with most of SB202's voting restrictions in place; why it's now so difficult to vote there once again in the runoff; and why voters should be concerned about the ability to know if results reported next week by Raffensperger's insecure and unverifiable touchscreen systems --- forced on voters at every polling place, instead of verifiable hand-marked paper ballots! --- will actually reflect the intent of state voters.

"You can break all the daily [early voting] records that you want and still not have enough capacity for everybody who wants to vote," she explains. "All of the bottlenecks are at check-in. They haven't been able to figure out how to get enough check-in stations to get 17 days-worth of early voting, plus people who would prefer to vote by mail but don't think they can" into the short early voting period now allotted by SB202. "Compressing all that into these seven days is ten pounds in a five pound sack."

In addition to check-in bottlenecks, the computerized voting systems don't make any of it easier or faster, particularly in an election with one single race on most ballots across the state. "It would be faster if they handed them a ballot and just marked it. That would be faster than putting the card into the machine, bringing it up, tabbing through the things, do the check and waiting for the printer. It's just stupid. When you think about marking a ballot by a pen and then watch the process on a machine, it seems amazing that somebody would spend $3,000 on a machine to do what a $1 pen would do. But here we are."

As usual, there is much much more to discuss with Dufort about all of this today!

Also on today's program...

  • "Dems in array!" In a rare display of unity on the left, House Democrats voted unanimously on Wednesday for their new leadership beginning in January. New York's Rep. Hakeem Jeffries will be the first black American to head up a major political party in Congress, taking the reigns following Nancy Pelosi's historic tenure as she and the rest of the party's longtime leadership team step aside to allow a new, younger generation to take over. All of that by way of contrast with the chaos on the GOP side and whether Rep. Kevin McCarthy will be able to muster enough votes from his own caucus to become the new Republican House Speaker next year.
  • With Pelosi still serving as Speaker in the lame duck session of Congress, the House passed two bills today to try and help avert a rail strike that would cripple the nation's economy. With 4 of 12 rail unions opposing a new contract negotiated with the help of the White House in September --- granting a 24% pay raise to workers, but failing to allow for paid sick days --- a bipartisan bill would force the agreement to be adopted. A second bill passed by all Democrats and only three Republicans in the House on Wednesday would mandate seven paid sick days per year. Whether either measure can now be passed in the Senate, where approval by 10 Republicans would be needed to overcome a filibuster, remains to be seen.
  • And, in a unanimous three-paragraph ruling late Tuesday, the South Carolina Supreme Court ordered Trump's last Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, to testify before the Special Grand Jury in Atlanta convened by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to probe the Trump-lead conspiracy to strong-arm GA election officials into changing the 2020 results in his favor. Meadows argued he didn't have to testify due to executive privilege. SC's Supreme Court tersely responded in their order: "We have reviewed the arguments raised by [Meadows] and find them to be manifestly without merit." Ouch...

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Guest: The American Prospect's Harold Meyerson; Also: Rail worker strike looms; Noteworthy primary results from DE, RI, NH...
By Brad Friedman on 9/14/2022 6:32pm PT  

We've got a lot of news, both good and not as good, for labor on today's BradCast. Also, some results of some pretty crazy primary contests on Tuesday from the final three states to hold primary elections this year before November's critical midterms. [Audio link to full show is posted after this summary.]

First up, those primary results in Delaware, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. After a couple of races in DE and RI, we hit the most notable on the night, coming out of the Granite State, where Republican voters have elected another hard-right, conspiracy theorist and election denying loon as their nominee in a U.S. Senate race they might have been able to easily win this fall with a non-insane candidate. Instead, retired Army Brigadier General Don Bolduc --- who wants to abolish the FBI and the 17th Amendment (the direct election of U.S. Senators) and has described the state's popular, relatively moderate Republican Governor Chris Sununu as "a Chinese communist sympathizer” --- will now take on New Hampshire's incumbent Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan in November.

Two hard-right Trumpers also won the GOP nominations for the NH's two U.S. House Seats, each currently held by Democrats. We take a bit of time today to focus on Karoline Leavitt, the apparent winner of the Republican nod in the NH's 1st Congressional District, where she will fake Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas after winning her upset victory against establishment-preferred Trumper Matt Mowers. The 25-year old Leavitt (who, mark my words, will be a new GOP star whether she wins or loses), previously worked in the Trump White House and has clearly taken on the hard-right mantle and obnoxious manner of her former boss. That resulted in an extraordinarily ugly primary battle between her and fellow Trump Administration colleague Mowers for the nomination and the title of who was the Trumpiest of them all. In both the Senate and House GOP primaries, the candidates preferred (and heavily invested in) by Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy lost. Democrats are likely just fine with the results.

Then, railroad workers appear to be ready to go on strike as of 12:01am on Friday, over the horrific working conditions they have been required to endure for years. We detail some of those terrible conditions in advance of what could be a wildly disruptive and expensive work stoppage in advance of the midterm elections, with some 57,000 workers now set to strike barring a breakthrough.

Next, we're joined for some significantly more positive labor news today by The American Prospect's longtime Editor-at-Large, HAROLD MEYERSON to discuss what he describes as a "groundbreaking" new labor law in California to improve the wages and working conditions of some 550,000 fast-food workers in the state. The measure was signed last week, on Labor Day, by the state's Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom.

In addition to setting a $22/hour minimum wage for the state's half-million fast-food workers (adjusted annually to keep up with the consumer price index), AB 257 also mandates the creation of a 10-person Council to oversee working conditions in the sector statewide. The Council, as Meyerson reported recently at The Prospect, would include "two representatives of franchise owners, two from the corporate chains, two fast-food workers, two fast-food 'advocates' (likely SEIU), and two who are the governor’s appointees to head labor-related state agencies."

"It's been really groundbreaking," Meyers explains today, "There's been nothing like it, really, in American history. It sets up what's called sectoral bargaining, in which representatives of workers in an entire industry sit down with representatives of management in the industry, and in this case, with a couple of state officials, as well. And they set standards for the industry...to craft wage and benefit and workplace safety and other standards for every worker in a chain fast-food outlet in California that has at least 100 outlets nationwide. So McDonalds, Jack in the Box, Starbucks, you name it."

That is a huge victory for labor groups like the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and is likely to bring positive change for workers faster than otherwise unionizing hundreds of Taco Bell shops, one at a time.

Along with a helpful dose of American Labor history, Meyerson details how "sectoral bargaining is actually fairly common in Western Europe [where] it evolved on top of a much higher level of unionization of their workers than we have here in the United States." For now, however, as the SEIU has been fighting for a decade to unionize fast-food shops and establish a $15 minimum wage for their workers, the CA state effort is indeed both progressive and ground-breaking.

Of course, that means that an effort is already under way by the franchise industry and other wealthy business interests to shut the whole thing down. If the anti-worker forces in the state can collect enough signatures in the next several months, they can prevent the measure from going into full effect until voters decide on it via a 2024 ballot initiative. Otherwise, as Meyerson explains, "the law goes into effect. They can always then put an initiative on the ballot [in 2024 anyway], but at that point they would effectively be demanding a wage cut for half a million workers and their families."

All of this comes as a new Gallup survey found that, as of Labor Day, support for unions was at 71% among Americans, a nearly 60-year high. That, paradoxically, as just 6% of workers are currently in private unions. Yet, approval for labor unions hasn't been this high since 1965. Interestingly, when Gallup began their annual survey in 1936, amid the Great Depression, approval for labor unions was only one point higher, at 72%.

Lots to digest, I suspect, on today's BradCast. Buckle up...

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We're back! And we've got a LOT to catch up on...
By Brad Friedman on 9/6/2022 6:27pm PT  

Like it or not, we're back on today's BradCast after a much-needed week off! And, as it turns out, we've got plenty to talk about. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the huge number of stories covered on today's show, as we try to get caught up with both what we missed and what's still unraveling today...

  • It's hot here in Los Angeles. Really hot. A record heat wave (in both intensity and duration) now stretches from Southern California all the way up into Canada. And, no, it is not normal. (Or at least it didn't used to be.)
  • It's also not normal for Mississippi's capital city of Jackson to have no water for drinking, bathing, flushing or even fighting fires. But it was predictable. That's what happens when you lower taxes and defer maintenance on critical infrastructure for decades before a warming climate dumps tons of rain to knock your water systems offline entirely. Now the state's Republican Governor (who has been instrumental in deferring that maintenance), is discussing privatizing the water system. As of Sunday, in any event, water pressure is finally returning to residents after a full week without, and about a month of boil water notices prior to the outage.
  • Some good news following Labor Day: Public approval of labor unions, at 71% of the American people, is now the highest it has been since 1965, according to Gallup. That's a 7-point spike in their pre-Labor Day survey since the pandemic began and a more than 21-point jump since 2009. And, as we discuss, that's all good news for both union workers and non-union workers alike!
  • There is new evidence out of Coffee County, Georgia today --- including security camera surveillance video gathered via a federal lawsuit against Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger to block use of his unverifiable touchscreen voting systems --- revealing that rightwing MAGA Trump supporters lied about unlawfully breaching and making copies of the County's voting system software after the 2020 election. The long-running lawsuit was filed by Coalition for Good Governance founder Marilyn Marks, a regular guest on this program. She originally broke the Coffee County voting system software breach story on this show some months ago, along with detailing Raffensperger's clumsy, months-long efforts to cover-up of the entire boondoggle. More details on that story coming soon!
  • In the second-to-last primary day of the midterm election season, voters in Massachusetts are selecting party nominees for the contest to succeed the state's popular, outgoing Republican Governor in the otherwise liberal-leaning state. As in Maryland in July, the choice on the GOP side in MA is between a Trump-backed election denier and an otherwise normal-ish Republican candidate. In MD, the Trump-backed loon won, likely handing Governor's mansion to the Democrats this fall. Will the same thing happen in MA? Tune in tomorrow!
  • While we were out, Alaska's embarrassing former Republican Governor Sarah Palin, did not win the Special Election for the state's only U.S. House seat. After a Ranked Choice Voting election featuring two Republicans and one Democrat, the Democrat, Mary Peltola was elected to fill the seat occupied for nearly 50 years by the late Republican Rep. Don Young. She'll serve the rest of Young's term through the end of the year and becomes the first Alaska Native elected to Congress. The same three candidates, and one other, will square off in another RCV election in November for a full term beginning in January. Hopefully Palin will continue her losing streak.
  • Also, while we were out, the President of the United States found it necessary to offer a prime-time address to warn of the rising menace posed to democracy itself by Donald Trump and his supporters. Joe Biden was, of course, both correct and accurate in his remarks outside of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, highlighting the fact that democracy itself will be on the ballot this fall and the threat that demagogues from the right now pose to our nation. "What’s happening in our country today is not normal," he said, though corporate media outlets seemed to have a tremendously difficult time simply pointing out how Biden's assertions were demonstrably true. By way of just one example, after a Trump rally in Pennsylvania over the weekend, in which an invited speaker discussed support for January 6 insurrectionists, including her nephew, who is literally a Hitler fan, USA Today's Francesca Chambers actually said: "President Biden and former President Trump are having some difficulties when it comes to optical issues both could have avoided." (!!!)
  • Finally today, some thoughts on the Trump-appointed federal judge in Florida who, on Monday, issued an absurd ruling ordering a Special Master to review thousands of pages of highly classified and other stolen government documents obtained by the FBI during its federal court-ordered search of Donald Trump's home at Mar-a-Lago last month. The ruling by Judge Aileen Cannon --- to appoint a Special Master to examine the documents for both executive privilege (which hasn't been claimed by Trump, and can only be asserted by Biden) and for attorney-client privilege --- was ridiculous and absurd on several counts and yet still somewhat less of an outrage than many have characterized it to be over the past 24 hours. We explain why.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Omar Ocampo of Inequality.org: Also: NE, WV primary results and who cares what they mean for Trump?; Senate abortion vote; Federal court ruling on semi-automatic weapons sales to children in CA...
By Brad Friedman on 5/11/2022 6:35pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: Sure, the supply chain was, and occasionally still is, a problem. So is Russia's war on Ukraine, obviously. But it's the greed of billionaires and the cowardice (or corruption) of public officials to do anything about that greed in this country that must be turned around in order to save the U.S. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first, speaking of corruption...New numbers out today from the Labor Department suggest that inflation may have peaked before April. As the Times alerted today, "Inflation moderated slightly in April, though the 8.3% annual gain in U.S. consumer prices remained uncomfortably high." As AP trumpeted in its breaking news iPhone alert: "U.S. inflation slowed slightly last month, a tentative sign that prices may be peaking while still imposing a financial strain on American households." Reuters: "U.S. consumer price growth slowed sharply to 0.3% in April, suggesting that inflation may have peaked." They were all similar....Well, except for Fox "News": "Inflation higher than expected in April, holding near 40-year high."

And you wonder why Rightwingers are so angry? It's still the Fox "News", stupid.

And speaking of stupid...Midterm primaries were held in Nebraska and West Virginia on Tuesday. (Happily, unlike in Ohio last week, we saw no reports of voting problems or voting system breakdowns, so far.) As you may have noticed, pretty much every news report about Tuesday's results focused on what they mean for Donald Trump and his party and the candidates he endorsed. The incumbent U.S. House member that Trump endorsed in WV who ran for the GOP nomination against another incumbent U.S. House member who voted for Joe Biden's bipartisan infrastructure bill won on Tuesday. Kingmaker Trump's power over the party is still strong! But the 8-time accused sexual harasser that Trump endorsed and stumped for in NE's GOP Gubernatorial primary lost. Trump's influence may be faltering!

As we discuss today, that framing by the corporate media --- reporting on these critical elections through the lens of Trump --- is wildly unhelpful and ill-serves the public at a time when democracy itself is on the line this November (and in 2024). It's not about Trump. He's already captured and broken the party. And that is true if he drops dead tomorrow and Ron DeSantis --- or anyone else --- takes his place. The damage is done. So, how can we fix it? Much more on that on today's show.

And speaking of failures all around... as the nation's death toll from COVID hits a staggering 1 million... The nation's corporations and rich people are doing just fine, thanks.

Big Oil continues to raise prices at the pump for consumers by pretending that its caused by post-pandemic supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine, even as they continue to rake in record profits (not revenue, but profits) in recent months. The profiteering --- under the guise of supply chain-induced "inflation" --- is also seen in other industries, of course, including the food industry, as well as the apparel business. In their latest reports on the industry profiteering, Accountable.us President Kyle Herrig appropriately derides "the industries most unapologetic about charging their customers more during a fragile economic recovery, apparently just because they can." And they can, because we let them develop monopolies and near-monopolies so there is little or no price competition left in the "free market".

And then there are the the nation's 727 billionaires whose growth in net worth over the two-plus years of the pandemic --- while you were struggling to stay employed, housed and fed --- is up $1.71 trillion from March 2020 to May 2022. That's a gain of more than the entire annual GDP of Canada for just those 727 U.S. billionaires. The biggest winner seems to have been Elon Musk, whose personal wealth was valued at just under $25 billion in March of 2020. Now, after two years of a pandemic economy, his wealth is said to be $255 billion as of the beginning of this month.

How did that happen? Why did that happen? What can and should be done about it? And does anyone in D.C. --- any one, from any party --- have the courage and ability to lead the nation to do anything about it?

All of those questions and more are answered today by our guest, OMAR OCAMPO of the Institute for Policy Studies' Program on Inequality and the Common Good, who asks today, "What about the rest of us? The median income, comparing 2020 to 2021, for your average U.S. worker has actually decreased by $2,000. And our median household wealth, comparing 2019 to 2001, has actually decreased. So yes, when you look at it by income or wealth percentile, it has been the top 10%, but especially the top 1%, that have seen impressive gains."

Ocampo helps explain how it happened, and what steps can and must be made to reverse this obscene continuing trend. Among the policy ideas discussed --- several of which have long been pushed by members of the progressive caucus in Congress --- a wealth tax on the assets of the richest Americans; partial student loan forgiveness; establishing a federal Commission on Profiteering, empowered with the ability to claw back some of what has been robbed from American consumers; strengthening organized labor and democracy itself.

And, yes, he explains, that will mean voting for more Democrats in Congress and at all levels of government. Hopefully good ones. Or this is going to continue to get much, much worse.

"The Republicans, from an ideological perspective, they are not interested in having some type of government intervention in order to solve societal problems," Ocampo charges. "They normally pivot towards philanthropy. But now is not the time to pivot to philanthropy, mainly because philanthropy does not scale, and it also denies public accountability for social problems or things that have to deal with the public good. So issues that affect the public should involve public input, and it should be carried out by democratic institutions."

"Economic inequality translates into political inequality. And the greater your material resources, the greater your access to participate in the state," he tells me. "This is very detrimental to democracy, because it makes the democratic institutions unresponsive to what the majority wants. The majority wants increased taxes on the wealthy, but it never seems to happen. That's probably because of their influence they have on both political parties."

"Elections matter, and to alleviate, especially in the short term, it would be best to elect Democrats. Because there is a section of the Democratic Party, specifically those that self-identify as progressives, who care about wealth inequality and know that it has distorting effects across our whole society."

Finally today, speaking of things getting much worse... Democrats held a show vote in the U.S. Senate to codify abortion rights (the Constitutional freedoms about to be taken away by the stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court) after the Women's Health Protect Act was already passed by Democrats in the House. As expected, all Republicans and Joe Manchin voted against it, so the measure failed to reach the 60 votes necessary to do almost anything in the undemocratic Senate.

And, also breaking during today's program, an insane, corrupted federal appeals court in California decided that the state's law restricting the purchase of semi-automatic firearms to those 21 or older is a violation of the Constitution's 2nd Amendment. So, yup, apparently 12-year olds in CA can now buy semi-automatic weapons! Have fun, kids!

Did I mention we need more democracy and fewer corrupted federal judges? Yeah, that also comes with voting. Please get busy. Thanks...

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Guest: Jordan Zakarin of Progress Report and More Perfect Union; Also: The Obamas on SCOTUS scheme to gut Roe's Constitutional freedoms; Big Oil's record profits and wartime profiteering...
By Brad Friedman on 5/5/2022 6:43pm PT  

It's been another rough week in these United States and, in turn, on The BradCast. The War in Ukraine, the corrupted Supreme Court stealing freedoms from Americans, the stock market roller coaster, COVID deaths topping 1 million and beginning to rise again, along with the nation's expanding far-right authoritarian movement. But there has been at least one bright spot of late, which we're happy to spend some time covering today. [Audio link to full show is posted at the end of this summary.]

First, however, following Justice Samuel Alito's leaked draft majority opinion [PDF] that would end the Constitutional freedom for a woman's right to an abortion, subsequently mandating forced pregnancies, even due to rape and incest, in many states, the Obamas, Barack and Michelle, released an eloquent and important statement this week.

They focus on Roe v. Wade's recognition "that the freedom enshrined in the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution requires all of us to enjoy a sphere of our lives that isn't subject to meddling from the state --- a sphere that includes personal decisions involving who we sleep with, who we marry, whether or not to use contraception, and whether or not to bear children." If Roe is overturned, they explain, all of those so-called "unenumerated" Constitutional rights, established by the courts through decades of precedent, will all now be vulnerable to dismantling by the GOP's packed and stolen SCOTUS. They would soon be left to Big Government whims of the far Right.

Their statement also urges that it is important not to "feel helpless" in light of all of this or feel "there's nothing any of us can do." They note, as we often do, that "elections have consequence" and, "in the end, if we want judges who will protect all, not just some, of our rights, then we've got to elect officials committed to doing the same."

NEXT, we turn to a bit of brighter news amid so much darkness, about American working men and women finally standing up for themselves to organize at companies both big and small. There has been awe inspiring activity across the country in recent weeks and months to establish labor unions for collective bargaining by workers at huge, anti-union companies like Amazon and Starbucks and others.

We're joined to discuss this hopeful surge in working class Americans --- from the Right and the Left --- standing up for their labor rights by JORDAN ZAKARIN, publisher of the Progress Report newsletter and contributor to More Perfect Union. His great newsletter (worth subscribing to!) focuses on all things progressive, including "fact-based advocacy, and the voices of people organizing on the ground." This week, as we discuss today, he rounded up many of the encouraging union activities happening around the country in a piece headlined "A May Day of Momentum."

Among the points discussed, how Amazon, "known as an unbelievably abusive employer" has spent millions to defeat union drives, deploying their "union-busting handbook". Nonetheless, there was a recent historic victory by the underdog crowd-funded Amazon Labor Union last month that established the company's first union facility in the U.S. in Staten Island, New York.

Then there's Starbucks, where more than 50 shops have become unionized in recent weeks. There are several thousand more to go. But, Zakarin reports today, "it's much easier for them to do small, tight knit units of people that stick together" with unionization elections at each shop, rather than entire regions at once, as Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz would prefer.

We discuss recent successes at Kellogg's in Michigan, where their VP of Labor Relations was caught on tape describing union negotiators as "terrorists", and at Delta, the only major non-unionized airline, where, until workers there began to organize for a union vote, flight attendants were only paid for time in the air, not for the hours spent boarding and deplaning passengers!

"We're constantly finding that conditions are even worse than we expect," at such companies, says Zakarin. But "people are starting to stand up and walk out" in protest of lousy wages and horrible working conditions at many of these companies. "The more that people start to organize, the more it galvanizes others," he explains. "It really is a spark that catches. It's been really inspiring to see."

Zakarin also offers his insight on hearings held today in the U.S. Senate's Budget Committee, chaired by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), focused on withholding federal contracts from non-union companies; why this surge in union activity is now occurring; and whether or not he agrees with some who say that Joe Biden is the most pro-union President since FDR.

FINALLY today, news that oil giant Shell enjoyed their most profitable quarter in history, bringing in more than $9 billion dollars in pure profit while their post-pandemic and war-time profiteering pays off for them at the pump. Shell --- like ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron (which is also fighting its union workers) and all of the other oil majors --- continues to raise prices on consumers while pretending that it's Russia's war in Ukraine that is forcing them to bilk customers with higher and higher prices.

And, oh yeah, we finish up today with a bit of listener mail...

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Guest: Political scientist, international relations Prof. Nicholas Grossman of Univ. of IL; Also: EU to embargo Russian oil; USPS sued to block new gas-guzzling truck contract; More bad news for Trump in NY...
By Brad Friedman on 4/29/2022 5:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Putin's war in Ukraine continues, as do fears that it could expand into a nuclear World War III. That has led some on the anti-war Left to demand the U.S. and EU spend more energy pushing for a diplomatic solution rather than sending more deadly arms to Ukraine to help it defend itself. But that, according to our guest today, is a false choice. [Audio link to full show is posted after this summary below.]

First up, after recently cutting off the purchase of coal from Russia, the European Union is reportedly now prepared to embargo oil purchases as well. That's good news for Ukraine, very bad news for Russia, but also potentially bad news for American consumers as the global price of oil is likely to further spike as Big Oil CEOs in the U.S. continue to rake in record profits rather than increase production or lower gas prices at the pump. We discuss.

In not entirely unrelated news, as EarthJustice senior attorney Adrian Martinez vowed on this program back in February, his organization along with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the United Auto Workers (UAW), 16 states and the District of Columbia are now now suing the U.S. Postal Service to block its purchase of nearly 150,000 new gas-guzzling mail delivery trucks. The $11.3 billion contract, carried out by corrupt Donald Trump's corrupt Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, is unlawful on several bases, they argue. Most notably, the USPS failed to do an environmental impact study, in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act, until after inking their deal with Wisconsin defense contractor, Oshkosh Defense, to build the trucks.

The new gas-powered vehicles are designed to get just 8.6 mpg, barely more than the 30-year old trucks they're replacing and, to make matters worse, will be built in a new non-union facility in South Carolina, rather than the company's union shop in Wisconsin. “Once this purchase goes through, we’ll be stuck with more than 100,000 new gas-guzzling vehicles on neighborhood streets for the next 30 years," California's Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement.

The states and the environmental groups --- with the support of the EPA and White House --- are hoping to move the USPS to deploy an all-electric fleet instead. Transportation is the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., and the postal fleet's 217,000 trucks is the largest share of the government's nonmilitary vehicles. Federal regulators estimate the new trucks will emit roughly the same amount of Earth-warming carbon dioxide each year as 4.3 million passenger vehicles.

Next, as Russia regroups in the east and south of Ukraine to prepare their next offensive, we're joined today by NICHOLAS GROSSMAN, international relations professor and political scientist at the University of Illinois. He's also Senior Editor at Arc Digital and author of Drones and Terrorism: Asymmetric Warfare and the Threat to Global Security.

This week, Grossman wrote a piece at The Daily Beast, responding to recent commentary from liberal academic icon and anti-war advocate Noam Chomsky, who is critical of the U.S. and NATO for continuing to supply Ukraine with weapons of war, rather than demand negotiations toward peace. As Chomsky argued, while sympathetic with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's position, increased arming of the beseiged nation fails to "pay attention to the reality of the world," which, without conceding to Russian demands via negotiations, will result in "the destruction of Ukraine and nuclear war."

But Grossman argues that's a false choice and that arming Ukraine is, in fact, at least right now, the best path to peace. "Even just framing it as diplomacy or war is a mistake," Grossman responds today, "in that war and diplomacy are not alternatives that go together. Just about every war ends with some sort of negotiated solution. Ukraine was willing to meet with Russia and did offer some concessions and those weren't enough. But, also, the actions on the ground are in effect a negotiation."

"The way that a lot of political science treats war is to think of it as a bargaining process. You have these two sides, Russia and Ukraine. Russia wants something and Ukraine really doesn't want to give it. And Russia's willing to kill to try to get it, and Ukraine is willing to kill to try to not give it. As long as that's the case, then the two of them don't actually know what they can force the other to accept. And so the war itself, the actual fighting, is to some extent a negotiating process. It is the fighting on the ground that is pushing both sides to figure out what exactly they can force the other one to accept."

"There will be peace," Grossman insists, "but the peace is going to look like many possible different things. One option is a peace where Ukraine is independent. Another option is where Ukraine is subjugated by Russia. Both of those are technically peace. But the Chomsky argument seems to be pushing more for the peace with Ukraine bowing down before Russia. And the problem with that is the Ukrainians don't want to, and there's nothing American can do to make them do it. So the action of 'Hey, we could have this option of getting them to sit down and then work it out and there would be peace, but instead we're not doing that, we're just causing war', just misunderstands that."

"As long as Russia and Ukraine want to fight, they're going to fight, and the United States can't stop that. So our choice is leave the Ukrainians on their own, or help them as they try to fight for independence."

There is, of course, much more to discuss with Grossman, including Chomsky's concerns (and many others'!) that this all leads to the use of nuclear weapons by Russia, as well as his thoughts on those who claim to be anti-war while blaming the U.S. for Russia's aggression. Please tune in for our very insightful and informative discussion today.

Finally, we close with some brighter news. A judge in New York has refused to end the $10,000/day fines levied against Donald Trump earlier this week, after the disgraced former President was found in contempt for failing to adequately respond to document subpoenas from New York state Attorney General Letitia James. Her civil probe into alleged "fraudulent" financial statements by Trump --- inflating or deflating his net worth as part of an alleged years-long bank, tax and insurance fraud scheme by Trump, his company and perhaps his children Ivanka, Don Jr. and Eric --- is continuing toward a potential lawsuit. The Manhattan District Attorney is supposedly reviewing similar matters in consideration of criminal charges. Today, Judge Arthur Engoron denied Trump's motion to purge the contempt ruling (and the daily fines that go with it) after Trump submitted a one-page affidavit claiming he did not have any of the documents sought by James. He failed to explain who did or what he did to search for them.

"Mr. Trump's two-paragraph affidavit adds no useful information to the mix," said James before Engoron's decision today. "Mr. Trump merely states off the top of his head, with no hint that he conducted any type of search, that he has no documents in response to the December 2021 subpoena in his 'personal possession.'"

"It is simply not plausible that Mr. Trump authored only three documents dealing with the value of his assets and his wealth," the state AG wrote. The fines will continue to mount for now, as James' office makes their final determination as to whether or not to formally charge the former President in the coming weeks...

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Guest: Eric Kramer of Arizonans for Fair Elections; Also: Good news on the economy, unions, COVID and cannabis!; Plus: Annoy a Nazi!...
By Brad Friedman on 4/1/2022 6:54pm PT  

Yes, on today's BradCast, we discuss a new, maddening --- and likely unconstitutional --- voter suppression law signed this week by Arizona's Republican Governor. But, as our guest notes, "Don't worry, we've got this!" We'll see. He's got a plan in response that voters in other swing-states may wish to look at as well. Other than that though, today's show ends your week with nothin' but good news! (Mostly.) [Audio link to full toe-tappin' show is posted below this summary.]

First up, good news on COVID! According to the Dept. of Health and Human Services, hospitalizations are now at their lowest rate since the U.S. began keeping records at the beginning of the pandemic two years ago. Of course, last time hospitalizations where near this low we got slammed by Delta and then Omicron shortly thereafter. So, hey, now's a great time to get a vaccine shot or a booster if you haven't in the past 4 months or so!

Then, more good news on the economy! 431,000 new jobs were added in March, as Americans continue to shake off the pandemic, even amid war in Europe and inflation. Since Joe Biden took office, the economy has added a record 7.9 million jobs. Unemployment is the lowest it's been since before the pandemic and barely higher than the nation has seen in a half-century, as the President did some justifiable crowing about those numbers today. Things would be even better had Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin allowed his Build Back Better bill to pass, given that many more women are needed to fill millions of open jobs, but can't afford the child care (that BBB would have paid for) in order to take them.

But there's still more good news today, for workers and labor unions! Amazon employees in deep red Republican Staten Island, New York voted "yes" to unionize in an historic labor win at the only fulfillment center in New York City! It's the first Amazon facility in the U.S. to do so, but it likely means many others will join them. Another unionization vote at Amazon's fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama remains too close to call for the moment. It's the second such vote held at that plant after the National Labor Relations Board found that Amazon had cheated in the first vote and ordered a re-do.

Speaking of cheating in elections: Republicans. Though it may make your head (and mine) explode, mid-term primaries are beginning to kick off all over the country. The first one, last month in Texas, resulted in tens of thousands of disenfranchised absentee voters whose ballots were rejected thanks to the state GOP's new voter suppression law there.

We had slightly better news this week in Florida. There, a federal judge struck down several provisions of the new voter suppression law adopted last year by the GOP-dominated state legislature and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis (who barely won his initial election back in 2018). U.S. District Judge Mark Walker found that the law unlawfully targeted black voters in violation of both the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act. Most notably, he ordered the state back under the VRA's preclearance regime for the next decade, mandating approval in advance from the federal government for any new election-related laws that may effect minority voters.

Republicans in Arizona, however, have been running a bit behind in their voter suppression. But, on Wednesday this week, the state's Governor Doug Ducey, also facing re-election this year, signed HB 2492 [PDF], even though legislative attorneys in both the state House and Senate found the measure to be likely unconstitutional. In short, it requires state voters to prove they are citizens before they may vote for candidates in state and local elections. But it goes farther than previous such laws in the state. This one could disenfranchise anywhere from 31,000 to nearly 200,000 voters in a state where Democrats won the Presidential election in 2020 by just over 10,000 votes. It would prevent voters who fail to prove their citizenship (or can afford to do so) from voting for either state officials or President. They may still be able to vote for members of Congress, but not during either early voting or via absentee ballot.

We're joined today by ERIC KRAMER, former Chair of the Navajo County Democrats, now Director of the Arizona Deserves Better non-profit coalition to discuss HB 2492 and, more importantly, what he and other voting rights advocates in the state are currently doing to both overturn such measures and prevent even worse ones from being adopted at any time in the future with their new Arizonans for Fair Elections ballot initiative.

We first learned of the effort via DailyKos, where Kramer writes as "EricAZ". Two articles of his there caught our eye in particular. The first, in early March, was headlined "Arizona Right-Wing Goes Batshit Crazy in Attack on Voters (Don’t Worry, We’ve Got This)". The second, a few weeks later, is titled, "The Joy of Soon Beating the U.S. Supreme Court on Several Voting Rights Issues".

Kramer explains how the AZ Fair Elections initiative, targeted for inclusion on the ballot this November, would work to prevent the kind of voter suppression we have been seeing from the increasingly extremist Republican radicals who now control the AZ state legislature. It would roll back laws like HB 2492 and prevent similarly disenfranchising laws from being adopted in an election year. It would also repeal a number of other laws recently adopted by state Republicans which target minority voters (Native Americans in particular), while instituting proactive measures to increase voter turnout, rather than block it, as the GOP is now working so hard to do there and elsewhere.

"In addition to these places where we're kind of playing defense against what they've done to voters in the past, there are some where we are playing offense," Kramer explains in detailing the voter referendum. "We have automatic voter registration. We have Election Day registration. We expand the periods for early voting. And we do quite a lot to help Native American voters and especially disabled voters --- we give more opportunities to vote. So it is a very good initiative."

Can his group, which is currently in the signature gathering process, get the measure onto the ballot in November? And, if so, can they get it passed? "We are going to get it done," he tells me confidently. "We need 243,000 signatures [by July 7] to get on the ballot. We're currently collecting at more than twice the rate we need. Fundraising has gone well. People from all over the country are supporting this. We will get it done."

You can get more information on the initiative --- in case you'd like to support it or consider something similar in your own state --- at the website for the Arizonans for Fair Elections initiative (azfe.org).

Finally, we close with even more good news and a song!

Our final good news for the day is about cannabis. U.S. House Democrats, with almost zero help from Republicans, adopted a measure today to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, though it will still have to overcome a likely GOP filibuster in the Senate. That, despite the American public's overwhelming support not just for decriminalizing cannabis, but for fully legalizing it once and for all. Not sure why the GOP would be dumb enough to take a pass on shooting the measure down again, as they did back in 2020 when they held the majority in the upper chamber, but explaining Republican stupidity is not my strong suit.

But to keep you happy and singing well into the weekend, we close with a new ditty from Canadian comedian and "The Internet's Favourite Dad* (*unproven)", according to his Twitter profile, Stewart Reynolds, who sings that "it's nice to be disliked!"...So "annoy a Nazi" today!...

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Guest: The American Prospect's David Dayen on the magazine's ambitious Special Issue: Also: Gun-maker settles with Sandy Hook families; Prince Andrew settles sex-abuse case; Palin loses (again); Putin blinks?...
By Brad Friedman on 2/15/2022 6:05pm PT  

Today on The BradCast, we tackle another small, totally easy to solve issue: Untangling the worldwide supply chain debacle. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, before that, at least a few stories seem to be resolving themselves today...

  • Nine families of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre settled their lawsuit with Remington, the manufacturer and marketer of the semi-automatic rifle used to kill their family members, for $73 million. The deal is noteworthy because federal law bans such suits against the gun industry, but Connecticut law does not. In this case, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Remington's attempt to block the suit based on the protections in federal law.
  • Prince Andrew settled a lawsuit filed against him by a woman who says she was 17-years old when she was sexually abused by Andrew, as coerced by the late financier and child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. The settlement includes an undisclosed donation to the charity of the victim, Virginia Giuffre, and an acknowledgement by Andrew that she has suffered abuse as a victim It is unknown if Giuffre will personally receive any money as part of the agreement.
  • Both a jury and a judge helped settle former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's defamation lawsuit against the New York Times by rejecting it in no uncertain terms. On Tuesday, the jury in the civil trial brought by Palin found the Times' editorial board not guilty of libeling the former GOP Vice Presidential nominee. The paper had erroneously cited a "clear link" between a map published by a Palin campaign websites featuring a gun site on certain Congressional districts --- including then Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords' --- and the 2013 mass shooting in Tuscon that killed six people and critically injured the Congresswoman. The jury's rejection of Palin's suit came the day after the judge, as the jury was still deliberating, declared that he planned to dismiss the case anyway after finding that Palin failed to prove the paper acted maliciously against her. For its part, the Times described the verdict as "reaffirmation of a fundamental tenet of American law: public figures should not be permitted to use libel suits to punish or intimidate news organizations that make, acknowledge and swiftly correct unintentional errors."
  • And, in the weeks-long Russian/Ukraine military stand-off, there was a long-awaited easing of tensions as President Putin announced that Russia was ready for talks with the U.S. and NATO on a number of issues and that some Russian forces on the border with Ukraine would be withdrawing. President Biden, however, in remarks this afternoon at the White House, said the U.S. had "not yet verified" any troop withdraws and that a Russian invasion of Ukraine remained a possibility. The White House noted, however, that the U.S. remains opens to high-level diplomacy in hopes of avoiding military conflict in Europe.

On that news, Wall Street rallied after weeks of saber-rattling had weighed down the market and helped send oil and gas prices through the roof, serving as another reminder today of just one more way that our vulnerable supply chain can wreak havoc on an otherwise booming economy.

As it turns out, The American Prospect recently devoted an entire Special Issue for February to a very related topic: "The Supply Chain Debacle: How bad policy—outsourcing, financialization, monopolization, deregulation, and just-in-time logistics—broke our supply chains, raised costs and caused shortages."

We're joined today by The Prospect's Executive Editor and author David Dayen to help us untangle the mess that has been made over the past 40 or 50 years, under both political parties in this rare case, of a supply chain that has exposed its vulnerabilities with the onset of the COVID pandemic two years ago. But since then, it has continued to reveal its ill-designed brittleness and the very serious threat it poses to America's economic security.

Dayen walks us through how his Special Issue delves into the broad failures of the supply chain, largely put in place over the years by the Wall Street "free market" to maximize corporate profit at the expense of American jobs and national security...in exchange for cheap prices on goods! As Dayen details, the problems here are not one single failure across the chain, but as he breaks down, "multiple 'single points of failure'" across industry after industry all along the broken chain.

"We designed a system over the course of decades --- both parties --- that had lean inventories, that relied on offshore production, that relied on this concept of globalization," he explains. "That allowed the production facilities to become very concentrated. That allowed the spokes within the system to become concentrated. That deregulated everything to try to lower prices on shipping and transportation. And that allowed Wall Street to take the primary role in governing these efforts --- in other words, telling corporations 'Yes, you have to move your production offshore for cheap labor', and 'We have to deregulate these industries so that costs stay low,' and 'You have to have just-in-time production so that you don't have any inventory sitting around just wasting money, and we're spending too much money on warehouses.'"

With this precarious, profit-driven system in place, Dayen steps through The Prospect's full team coverage of how a virus breaking out in a manufacturing hub in China can shut down the entire system. Any sudden increase in a demand for goods --- say, during a pandemic --- ends up tying the giant, oligopolized over-seas container shipping system into knots and stranding massive cargo ships at sea while there is no room left for off-loading at U.S. ports. Once finally off-loaded, sometimes after months waiting in line off-shore, a U.S. rail system run by just a couple of companies and a trucking system that doesn't pay workers nearly enough for their efforts further bottlenecks the process. Then there's the vast lack of warehouse space for all those goods if they can ever get to where they need to be. All the while, these disruptions and failures work to the benefit of the largest distributors --- like Amazon and Walmart --- while cutting the knees out from under independent retailers and raising prices for everyone. So much for those low prices that consumers, at least, were supposed to get out of the deal.

But, as Dayen also explains, it doesn't take a pandemic. A cross-border bridge protest in Canada, saber-rattling in Eastern Europe or the Middle East and, perhaps even more crippling to the supply chain over the past year than anything else, climate change related disasters which promise to only get much more frequent and severe in the years ahead.

"The problem is the supply chain is run on these knife-edge principles that make it impossible for it to adjust to a shift up in demand. That is the entire problem," he argues. "So people who go on and say, 'No, this isn't a problem, it's just this shift. Everything will be fine.' They're missing the point. The point is that this lack of adjustment reflects problems with how the system is engineered."

And, yes, Dayen has advice on how to re-engineer the entire system. The good news, he also explains, is that both corporations and members of Congress --- from BOTH parties --- seem to finally be getting it. They are looking at and passing bills that encourage (and spend money on) the regionalization and onshoring of manufacturing back here in the U.S., and the Biden administration is investing heavily --- when Congress allows them --- into a number of long-overdue fixes.

It may all sound dry on paper, but it's actually a fascinating and very lively conversation on today's program that I hope you'll tune in for.

Finally --- and including a few related points --- Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, on the crippling Western U.S. megadrought; the Biden Administration's roll-out of a national EV charging network; the spike in oil prices amid tensions in Russia-Ukraine; and the Super Bowl blitz by U.S. carmakers launching long overdue electric vehicle production lines...

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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!)

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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...

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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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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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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...

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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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