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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Sunday 'I Scream Cohen' Toons
THIS WEEK: Unethical Lying Sleazebags ... The Death of Satire ... Trains are Real ... And many more primal screams in our latest collection of the week's best toons...
FEC Repubs Vote to Allow Campaign Donor Anonymity: 'BradCast' 5/16/24
Guest: Public Citizen's Craig Holman; Also: Two (generally) encouraging SCOTUS rulings on CFPB funding and a second Black-majority U.S. House district in Louisiana...
'Green News Report' 5/16/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Canadian wildfires expand; Climate change exacerbated extreme heat in Asia; Broadcast media ignored Trump's billion dollar Big Oil quid pro quo; Plus: Biden v. China on EVs...
Previous GNRs: 5/14/24 - 5/9/24 - Archives...
Trump Trial Ketchup: Cohen, 'Smoking Gun', 'Cult of Trump': 'BradCast' 5/15/24
Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, attorney Keith Barber of Daily Kos; Also: MD, NE, WV primary results; Biden, Trump agree to early debates...
LAPD Right-Wing Bias in Violent Response to UCLA Protest Was No Surprise
U.S. law enforcement has long sided with the right against peaceful anti-war, environmental, racial and economic injustice protesters...
Could Ohio Repubs REALLY Keep Biden Off the Ballot?!: 'BradCast' 5/14/24
Also: GOP dirty tricks in WA; More GOP voter suppression in GA; Brighter news from WI and on the slow painful death of 'stare decisis'...
'Green News Report' 5/14/24
Canada's fire season erupts; Record-breaking increase in global CO2 levels; PLUS: MI is newest state to sue Big Oil for climate damages...
Recount in Tied House Primary Reveals Probs in CA Law: 'BradCast' 5/13/24
Guest: Dr. John Maa; Also: Bannon denied; Giuliani fired; Menendez trial begins; Cohen takes stand in Trump's NY criminal trial...
Sunday 'Stormy Weather Continues' Toons
THIS WEEK: Cannon Fire ... Catch and Kill ... Parasites ... Protesting Too Much ... and more, in our latest collection of the week's most turbulent toons...
'Green News Report' 5/9/24
Tornadoes across U.S.; FL Repubs ban 'climate change'; House Repubs' latest salvo in 'War on Woke Appliances'; PLUS: US culture shift in portrayal of climate reality...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 1/18/2024 10:41am PT  


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IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: U.S. Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority appears ready to gut federal agency authority on environmental regulations and more; Social media sites profiting off of a new breed of climate denial, new study finds; PLUS: Frigid Arctic air strands drivers of both electric and gasoline vehicles... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): An unprecedented flu strain is attacking hundreds of animal species. Humans could be next; 'Control the narrative': Alabama utility wields influence by financing news; EU bans 'misleading' environmental claims that rely on offsetting; Bird populations are declining. Some are in your neighborhood; Dr. Michael Mann’s defamation case over online attacks finally comes to trial... PLUS: These startups are teaming up to decarbonize cement and concrete... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guest host Nicole Sandler with messaging expert Anat Shenker-Osorio; Also: Trump trials continue; SCOTUS eyes another landmark precedent...
By Desi Doyen on 1/17/2024 5:28pm PT  

Brad is out today, trying to recover once and for all from his rebound case of COVID. So guest host Nicole Sandler joins me (producer Desi Doyen) to bring you a fresh, new BradCast to tickle your ears and brain cells. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among our stories covered today...

  • The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Wednesday in two important cases: Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo and Relentless v. Department of Commerce. On the surface, the two cases appear to be somewhat innocuous, focused on technical issues about the scope of federal fees and regulations. But, in reality, the cases are vehicles of the fossil fuel industry and rightwing legal groups to achieve their long-sought goal of dismantling federal regulatory and administrative authority by overturning the four-decade old, landmark precedent known as the "Chevron deference". It is, as Cornell Law School describes, "One of the most important principles in administrative law."

    Established in 1984's Chevron v. National Resources Defense Council, the ruling is a key underpinning of federal administrative law with broad applications to nearly every single aspect of American life. At its core, it holds that judges are not technical experts, so they should defer to federal agency expertise when determining Congressional intent on an ambiguous law or statute.

    According to legal analyst Ian Millhiser at Vox, Chevron "places strict limits on unelected federal judges’ ability to make policy decisions for the entire nation," establishing that it is "better for federal agencies, and not judges, to make these sorts of decisions". Millhiser concludes that overturning it would "shift policymaking authority from the executive branch to the judiciary," allowing unelected judges to effectively make policy and insert their own political or ideological preferences.

    In oral arguments at SCOTUS on Wednesday morning, four members of the rightwing supermajority on the packed and corrupted Court --- Justices Clarence Thomas, Sam Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh --- each signaled they were likely to overturn this landmark precedent.

  • Details from the contentious federal court hearing in New York on Wednesday in the second civil defamation trial brought by author and former columnist E. Jean Carroll against disgraced ex-President Donald Trump. The judge threatened to expel Trump from the courtroom after he repeatedly ignored warnings to remain quiet as Carroll testified that he shattered her reputation after she publicly accused him of sexual abuse. A previous state case in NY established that Trump did, in fact, sexually abuse Carroll at a department store in the 1990s. That jury awarded her $5 million for the defamatory comments he made about her after leaving office. He has continued his defamation since then. The jury in this federal case will only determine how much, if any, damages should be for the defamatory remarks he made about her while serving as President.
  • Finally, Nicole's speaks with author and communications expert ANAT SHENKER-OSORIO, founder of ASO Communications and host of the Words to Win By podcast. In an illuminating interview, Shenker-Osorio offers key insights and practical advice on winning political messaging, the ways in which the words that we use matter, and how to help ensure voters are engaged and informed that the critical 2024 election is now a choice between "freedom or fascism."

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: David Dayen of The American Prospect; Also: Biden forgives another $9B in student loans; Jordan, Scalise to run for Speaker; Republicans try to blame Dems for Repub removal of McCarthy...
By Brad Friedman on 10/4/2023 6:47pm PT  

The corrupt House GOP is in shambles but, for some reason, the corrupt Republicans at SCOTUS appear to have momentarily lost the plot, as all discussed on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

We begin where we left off yesterday, as the historic and stunning news had just broken that far-right Republican members succeeded in their scheme to unseat Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the U.S. House. Moments later, he announced he would not run again for the position. Then, after Republicans adjourned the House until next Tuesday to try and regroup, they immediately began trying to blame Democrats for the Republican coup. They even kicked former Speaker Nancy Pelosi out of her Capitol office, despite her being in California yesterday for Sen. Dianne Feinstein's funeral.

Of course, despite GOP politicians and pundits hoping to blame Dems for their own failure, none of it was evidence of Democratic genius, but of a thoroughly broken Republican party. They may not yet have noticed --- or care to admit it to themselves --- but the party has been collapsing for years under the strain of its own corruption, lack of self awareness, dedication to an autocratic cult leader, and its own toxic mix of of victim-hood, grievance, entitlement, rage and revenge.

Today, far-right Republicans Jim Jordan of Ohio and Steve Scalise of Louisiana tossed their hat into the ring to become the next Speaker. Others may jump in before next week. It may take even more than the record 15 rounds of voting the Republicans needed just nine months ago in January to install McCarthy as their new, if short-lived Speaker.

While the GOP continues to fall apart, the White House continues to fight for Americans by battling back against the corrupted rightwing U.S. Supreme Court. On Wednesday, the Biden Administration announced another $9 billion of student loan debt relief, for a total of $127 billion in loan forgiveness to date for some 3.6 million borrowers. That, as the Administration reformulates a plan to forgive the debt of tens of millions of Americans after SCOTUS made up a reason out of whole cloth earlier this year to reject Biden's previous plan.

But SCOTUS, as their new term got under way on Monday, has already unleashed some surprises. On Monday, the most corrupt Justice on the Court, Clarence Thomas, actually did the right thing and recused himself from a case where he obviously should have. (Are you okay, Clarence?) And on Tuesday, the majority of the Court, including Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh and several other rightwingers, appeared to push back hard against the attempt by Payday Lenders to dismantle the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) entirely on wildly dubious grounds.

The effort to undo the CFPB was actually spearheaded by rightwing extremists on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, arguably the most "conservative" (and corrupt) appellate court in the nation. They used a narrow lawsuit by the lenders to declare the CFPB's entire funding mechanism to somehow be unconstitutional, even though, when the consumer bureau was stood up, as the brainchild of Elizabeth Warren during the Obama Administration (before she went on to become a U.S. Senator), its funding mechanism was similar to many other quasi-independent Executive Branch agencies since the founding of the republic.

Thomas noted during oral argument on Tuesday that he did not see "a Constitutional problem" with the funding mechanism. Kavanaugh observed that Congress could change it "tomorrow" if they had a problem with it. Justice Elana Kagan charged the claims of the case were "flying in the face of 250 years of history." Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, at one point, characterized the challenger's argument to say that "a provision of the Constitution is unconstitutional."

In short, it didn't go well for the lenders or Donald Trump's former Solicitor General who represented them at SCOTUS.

We're joined today to discuss what happened and what it all means --- including for other Executive Branch agencies that the right is similarly hoping to see dismantled, piece by piece, by the Judicial Branch --- by progressive financial journalist, author and Executive Editor of The American Prospect, DAVID DAYEN. He wrote a award-winning 2016 book about the same 2008 financial crisis that spurred the creation of the CFPB.

As Dayen explains today, the agency was created by Congress specifically to protect American consumers against scams by payday lenders, banks, credit card companies and other corporations. It receives its annual funding via the Federal Reserve, with a cap set by Congress. He argues that this case "threatens practically every consumer financial transaction that is made in the country."

After citing dozens of other federal agencies that are not funded via annual appropriates by Congress itself, Dayen asks, "If CFPB is unconstitutional, why wouldn't all these other things also be unconstitutional? In fact, there are plenty of other programs that are not funded by direct annual appropriations by Congress. I'll give you two big ones: Medicare and Social Security. They are mandatory spending. 60% of the federal budget is funded this way. Are they also unconstitutional because they are not exclusively funded by Congress?"

The 5th Circuit, he notes, "made this one ruling trying to help out payday lenders, but it really affects the functioning of daily life." The right has been gunning for the CFPB ever since its creation, and this case was supposed to be the one that finally killed it once and for all. But, Dayen suggests, with the caveat that anything could happen with this Court, after yesterday's argument at SCOTUS, he doesn't see the five votes that would be needed there to kill the CFPB...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Democracy can reverse the damage wrought by corrupt, right-wing Supreme Court ideologues...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/7/2023 9:49am PT  

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that."
-- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

When our corrupted U.S. Supreme Court, in June, handed down their closing opinions for last year's term, it became clear that we are facing a dark judicial hour in this nation.

Dark for women whose reproductive liberty and very lives have been placed at risk; dark for those who are drowning in seemingly insurmountable student debt; dark for those in the LGBTQ+ community who are seeing their very existence and right to medical care being challenged; dark for young African-American students hoping to acquire a higher education so as to overcome our nation's legacy of systemic racism; dark for the families of the ever-growing number of victims of mass shootings.

Our judicial institutions, for the moment, are still holding when it comes to accountability for the scoundrel who served as our 45th President. But, for too many others, the High Court has wrought a darkness brought on by the corrosive influence of the billionaire class and the "dark money" that billionaires and corporations use to corrupt our political and legal institutions.

That darkness comes courtesy of the Supreme Court's infamous 2010 Citizens United decision. It is a darkness also facilitated by political chicanery resulting in a Republican Party, which lost the popular vote in seven of the last eight Presidential Elections, packing a "corrupt" supermajority of six right-wing ideologues onto the nine-member High Court.

Their dark, radical interpretations of the Rule of Law have done more than simply endanger democracy's survival. By inventing a Second Amendment right of an individual to bear arms unrelated to military service in a State's "well-regulated" militia, the Roberts Court has become "destructive" of the first of the "unalienable Rights" listed in our nation's Declaration of Independence --- the right to "Life"!

Early last month, for example, CBS published a jaw-dropping U.S. statistic, citing "26 mass shootings in the first five days of July."

Yet, it is the dark and oppressive nature of the immensely unpopular decisions handed down by six unelected "radicals in robes", that, ironically, may help to facilitate a new dawn. The bright side of their decisions can be found in an incensed electorate, whose approval of the Court, as presently constituted, has plunged to a dismal 29%.

Democracy, as the late British MP Tony Benn described it, is "more revolutionary than socialist ideas." It is the light that can drive out the darkness.

The very existence of public revulsion towards the dark turn by the Court in recent years, such as overturning abortion rights and much more, make a 2024 Blue Tsunami possible. If the source of the darkness lies in the decisions of a corrupt and radicalized Supreme Court, then Democrats must convey a clear and coherent message that a vote for their candidates will serve to restore the light...including with reform of the Court itself...

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The fight against propaganda, denial, corruption and racism continues...
By Brad Friedman on 6/29/2023 6:37pm PT  

We wrap up our last BradCast before standing down next week with a bunch of disparate stuff, both good and bad, and even a song to help you whistle as you leave the theater before next week's holiday. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

WE DID START THE FIRE: And we're also responsible for the smoke from hundreds of them in Canada, now threatening the health of more than 100 million Americans. We're also responsible for the record, weeks-long deadly, triple-digit heat wave in Texas now spreading north and east and touching off deadly severe storms along with it. Of course, those who watch Fox "News" and the read their deceptive Fox Weather website will never know who's to blame for it all and who is endangering their lives and those of their great grand-kids. But keeping their viewers and readers dumb and disinformed is the whole purpose of the Fox fake news project. Sadly, we all pay the price.

'CEASEFIRE AND NEGOTIATE!': Happily, it seems the 24-hour mutiny in Russia last weekend --- wherein longtime Vladimir Putin-ally, Yevgeny Prigozhin, gave the game away by declaring that their imperialist invasion of Ukraine was built on lies and was never about either "demilitarizing" or "de-Nazifying" Ukraine --- has helped the scales fall from a bunch of Americans' eyes. New polling from Reuters/Ipsos since the Prigozhin's short-lived insurrection finds a nearly 20-point bump since last month in American support for Joe Biden's policy of helping Ukraine defend themselves. That includes majorities in both major parties as well as independents. That's very good news. And, while I'm unlikely to reach many of the duped rightwingers who have fallen hook, line and sinker for Putin (and Trump) propaganda about the conflict, I am hoping that I might still be able to help some of those on the supposed anti-war Left who have fallen for the same propaganda. I'm talking largely about the "ceasefire and negotiate!" crowd. A few words for them today in hopes of helping a least a few of them understand how they have also been played by the same, authoritarian sources as the rightwingers.

'THIS IS NOT A NORMAL COURT': President Biden was right about that today, at least. We knew after all of the surprisingly good rulings of late from our otherwise corrupted, stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court majority --- on issues of democracy and voting, in particular --- that it was almost certainly too good to last. As the high court's 2022 term comes to a close, they returned to their corrupted form on Thursday by overturning more than 40 years of precedent to bar Affirmative Action policies in college admissions for all private and public colleges and universities (while exempting military academies for some odd reason). Though it's not easy, we try to make sense of the Court's dizzying 237-page ruling [PDF], including multiple concurrences and dissents, as the far-right activists on the bench --- and those that put them there --- get to cross another long-term project off their list today.

SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES: And lungs, from the record shattering Canadian wildfires. At least if you live in any of a whole bunch of states in the mid-west or east this week. That, and more climate news, both good and bad, as Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report.

THEY DEFINITELY DIDN'T START THE FIRE: But they did, after 34 years, put all news words to it! And not a moment too soon, in my opinion! Yours may vary. Either way, we're happy to close out today's final show before taking off next week over the Independence Day holiday, with Fall Out Boy's brand-new version of a 1989 Billy Joel classic...

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Guest: Author, redistricting expert David Daley of FairVote; Also: House Republicans mutiny against House Republicans...
By Brad Friedman on 6/8/2023 6:26pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Yes, some actual, unqualified good and, frankly, surprisingly good news from our otherwise wildly corrupted U.S. Supreme Court on voting rights and racial gerrymandering! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Last year, following oral argument at the High Court in Allen v. Milligan, a Voting Rights Act challenge in Alabama, pretty much all Court watchers and voting rights advocates thought that Section 2 of the VRA was in big, big trouble. That, after the Supremes had already gutted Section 5 of the Act in the Shelby County case back in 2013 and have been nibbling away at the rest of the landmark 1965 law ever since.

But on Thursday, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh actually joined with the Court's three liberals in a 5 to 4 majority opinion [PDF], upholding a lower court ruling by a three-judge panel --- including two Trump appointees --- which had determined that Alabama must rewrite its redistricted Congressional maps after the 2020 Census to include a second majority Black U.S. House District.

Early last year SCOTUS had used the "shadow docket" to temporarily put the lower court's ruling on hold without a hearing, allowing the 2022 elections to move forward with just one out of AL's seven U.S. House Districts having a Black majority, despite African-Americans comprising some 27% of the state's population. That ruling --- along with tea leaves read from oral argument last year and Roberts' history of working to dismantle the VRA --- led many to believe the Court would permanently allow the state's racial gerrymander to remain in place, effectively overturning the ban on election laws and House maps created with a racially discriminatory intent.

Alabama's GOP gerrymander had been challenged as a violation of both the Constitution and Section 2 of the VRA, after the Supremes' previous gutting of Section 5 of the Act removed the mandate for jurisdictions to demonstrate in advance that new election laws did not discriminate on the basis of race. Challenges under the Act may still be filed under Section 2, but only after the discriminatory voting measure has been enacted.

The Court's actions last year also allowed similar racial gerrymanders in several other states, including Louisiana, Georgia, Texas and elsewhere, resulting in the GOP winning a razor-thin 5-seat majority in the U.S. House in November.

Thursday's stunning decision, according to experts, could net Democrats as many as four or more seats in the House in the 2024 elections, and is likely to affect ongoing legal challenges in as many as 10 states.

Our guest on today's program believes that, "Gerrymandering and redistricting was one of the big reasons why Republicans probably had about a net gain of between 12 and 15 seats [last year] when you look at the various partisan gerrymanders and the various racial gerrymanders that the Court allowed."

We're joined today to discuss all of this, the details of how it happened, and what it appears to mean going by forward by a stunned DAVID DALEY of FairVote, where he is an expert on gerrymandering and author of two different books on the topic.

"I don't even know what to say," Daley explains at the top of our conversation. "I'm so used to delivering the bad news, and all of a sudden I'm a doctor telling you you're going to live forever. This is an unusual role for me."

But, don't worry. Daley is still able to share a number of concerns about several other cases with opinions coming soon from SCOTUS, despite today's unreservedly good news for voters, voting rights, and the future of the not-dead-yet Voting Rights Act!

THEN, with today's excellent news that may well result in Democrats regaining the majority arguably stolen from them by unlawful GOP gerrymanders last November, the current GOP majority in the House is busy eating itself alive. The party's far-right flank has mounted a mutiny on the House floor this week, in rebellion against Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's debt ceiling deal last week with President Biden to avoid the first-ever default of the U.S. Government. And it's all quite hilarious.

FINALLY, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as the worsening affects of our climate crisis are now choking Americans across much of the east coast and midwest with toxic smoke from hundreds of record, out-of-control, Canadian wildfires blanketing much of the nation. We also cover the Biden EPA's long-overdue upgrades of Jackson, Mississippi's water system and the ecological disaster in the wake of the destruction of a critical dam in Russian-occupied Ukraine.

[NOTE: Today's program was completed just prior to the breaking news late today of Donald Trump's reportedly 7-count federal criminal indictment in Special Counsel Jack Smith's probe in the disgraced former President's stolen documents case. We'll pick up on that historically good news, no doubt, next week!]

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Dan Vicuña of Common Cause; Also: Walker revelations prove GOP doesn't care about abortion or think it's 'murder'; Another court loss for Trump in stolen docs case...
By Brad Friedman on 10/5/2022 6:32pm PT  

What's left of the Voting Rights Act is in danger yet again, thanks to the Republicans' stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court majority. But this time, as we report on today's BradCast, the VRA has a new champion on the Court who seems to know how to speak in terms that even corrupt GOP Justices may have a difficult time ignoring. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up today, however, the continuing fallout from Monday's Daily Beast exclusive revealing that Georgia's Republican U.S. Senate nominee and accomplished liar, Hershel Walker, urged a girlfriend to have an abortion in 2009 and paid for the procedure himself. That, despite Walker's staunchly "pro-life" claims and campaign opposition to any and all abortions without exception, even in cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother.

The blockbuster story has rocked GOP hopes of flipping the Peach State Senate seat currently occupied by Democratic Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock from "blue" to "red" in November and, if true (Walker "flat out" denies the allegations) reveals the former football pro to be an extraordinary hypocrite. More staggering than that, however, is the hypocrisy currently on display by Republican leaders who are standing behind Walker despite the well-documented reporting, revealing that they never actually gave a damn about abortion in the first place. As MSNBC's Chris Hayes correctly observed on Twitter: "I just want to be clear that in the moral cosmology of Herschel Walker and Republicans the accusation is that he paid to have his child murdered."

No worries! According to new reporting, Republicans knew about the allegations long ago and just hoped they wouldn't come to light before November. But now that it has, as we detail today, longtime GOP leaders, pundits and media influencers --- who have long claimed to be "family values" "conservatives" who believe abortion is "murder" --- have come up with all sorts of ways to justify their continued support of Walker because they believe they need him to win back a Senate majority next month.

Next: As detailed on yesterday's program, Ketanji Brown Jackson, the U.S. Supreme Court's newest Justice, made a splash during the Court's first day of oral argument in the new term on Monday, in her response to a rightwing challenge to the EPA's authority to regulate water under the Clean Water Act. On Tuesday, KBJ was spectacular once again during a rightwing challenge to provisions barring racial discrimination in voting under the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965.

KBJ may have out-foxed fellow SCOTUS colleagues in her defense of the VRA, using an "originalist" defense for consideration of race in voting laws. We share the heart of her brilliant argument today, in detailing the Alabama case before the Court. Merrill v. Milligan challenges a unanimous appeals court ruling that the state's Republican legislature violated the Constitution and Section 2 of the VRA by creating just one Congressional District out of seven in the state, in which black voters would be able to select a candidate of their choosing following 2020 Census redistricting. That, despite the fact that more than a quarter of the state's population is black.

The Court of Appeals ordered AL to create a second majority-minority Congressional District in time for the 2022 elections. Instead, state Republicans challenged the ruling at SCOTUS, which, in February, put the lower court's ruling on hold until they could hear the case. (They also blocked a similar ruling in Louisiana, where state lawmakers were also ordered to create a second majority black Congressional District.)

In February, after the dubious SCOTUS ruling that would essentially steal a Congressional seat in AL (and in LA) for Republicans in the 2022 elections, we were joined to discuss it by DAN VICUÑA, longtime National Redistricting Manager at Common Cause. He joins us again today to discuss Tuesday's hearing at SCOTUS; KBJ's ingenious defense of "race conscious" Congressional map-making in response to AL's claim that redistricting should be "race neutral" despite mandates of the VRA and the Civil War's reconstructionist Constitutional Amendments that it is meant to enforce; and what the various potential rulings by the Court's corrupt, far-right super-majority may mean for the future of what is left of the VRA.

"What Alabama is seeking is a fairly radical change to the law and current Supreme Court jurisprudence," Vicuña explains. "It's essentially asking the court to allow a 'race-neutral' drawing of districts. And, as long as you are 'race neutral', it doesn't really matter if a community of color [is] allowed to elect their candidate of choice. They're basically saying the black community in Alabama could have no districts in which they elect their candidate of choice unless it was drawn in a so-called 'race neutral' way. It's a huge change, and I think Justice Jackson was rightfully pushing back in a forceful manner on what would be a significant change and blow to voting rights."

In her argument during Tuesday's hearing, Jackson went back to what the original framers of the Reconstruction-era 14th and 15th Amendments argued at the time of their adoption. And it appears to be the opposite of what AL is now arguing in court. In recent years, Republicans have claimed to support a so-called "originalist" legal theory when determining the Constitutionality of various laws. But now that KBJ has handed them such a theory for defending the VRA, it will be interesting to see if she helps to peel off enough rightwing Justices to stave off this latest attack on the nation's critical voter protection law.

Finally today, there was another procedural win handed down to the Dept. of Justice from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in the criminal investigation of Donald Trump's theft of thousands of documents retrieved by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago in August...

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Also: Walker, Georgia Hypocrite...
By Brad Friedman on 10/4/2022 6:30pm PT  

It's another 10-pound show in another 5-pound BradCast today. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the many stories covered...

  • A state police detective in Michigan, according to email obtained by Reuters, recommends criminal charges be brought against Stephanie Scott, a Republican Michigan township clerk, for yet another breach of yet another voting tabulator and for allegedly giving a database of confidential voter data to a fellow 2020 election conspiracist. The media outlet reports there have been at least 18 similar breaches or attempted breaches of voting systems across the country by sore loser election deniers, including 12 in MI alone. Separately, a state Special Prosecutor is currently investigating nine people "for an alleged conspiracy to gain unauthorized access to voting equipment in a case that involves alleged breaches across the state." One of those under investigation is the GOP's Attorney General nominee Matt DePerno.
  • Speaking of 2020 election conspiracists, pillow salesman Mike Lindell's petition to the U.S. Supreme Court was rejected on Monday. He was seeking to challenge one of two defamation suits filed against him by a voting machine company, in this case, Dominion, which he baselessly accused of helping to steal the 2020 election from Donald Trump. Lindell had been hoping to change long-standing federal law regarding defamation suits brought by public figures. SCOTUS rejected him. So the previous ruling in the matter, by a Trump-appointed federal District Court judge in D.C., means that Dominion's $1.3 defamation suit against Lindell may now move forward to discovery and trial. (Along with several other defamation lawsuits against a bunch of Lindell's fellow GOP election fraudsters and rightwing media outlets.)
  • Speaking of SCOTUS, Monday was the first day of their new term. It included oral argument in a case challenging the EPA's authority to regulate the waters of the United States under the Clean Water Act. It was also the first oral argument to feature the Court's newest member, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. By all reports and audio evidence, she kicked ass. We detail the case and explain KBJ's awesome first day performance.
  • Speaking of asses, Donald Trump filed an emergency request to SCOTUS on Tuesday, seeking their intervention in his dispute over hundreds of pages of stolen documents marked as classified that were retrieved by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago as part of the DoJ's criminal probe into the former President's apparent violations of the Espionage Act and other federal statutes. Trump's filing comes just days after a three-judge panel on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (featuring two Trump appointees), dismembered a lower court ruling by another Trump judge who is corruptly attempting to stall the investigation with her appointment of a Special Master to review the documents in question.
  • Next up, the pathetic story that broke over the last 24 hours regarding Republican U.S. Senate nominee, former football hero and seemingly mentally unstable liar, Herschel Walker. He is running to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in Georgia next month. On Monday night, The Daily Beast's Roger Sollenberger reported that Walker --- who is running, in no small part, on claims to oppose abortion in every instance, without exceptions for rape, incest or the life of the mother (which he called "excuses") --- paid for a girlfriend to have an abortion in 2009. Sollenberger appears to, literally, have the receipts to prove it. But, even as Walker was flatly denying the charges on Fox "News" on Monday night and vowing to sue The Daily Beast for defamation, one of his adult children lit up a Twitter storm with an astonishing rant, characterizing his father as a liar and hypocrite and anything but a "family man." Christian Walker charged, among many other things, that his father committed "atrocities" against his mom. She charged years ago, on CNN, that Walker held a gun to her head "and said he was gonna blow my brains out." Incredibly enough, prior to the hectic revelations of the last 24 hours, and despite a long list of proven lies told by Walker, the GOP nominee was virtually tied in pre-election polling with Warnock in GA, for reasons that, as we discuss, are difficult to even fathom.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with updates on Hurricane Ian's catastrophic damage and death toll in Florida; Biden's visit to Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Fiona; and the SCOTUS case heard on Monday challenging the EPA's power to enforce the Clean Water Act...

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern on that and much more on the final day of the corrupt rightwing Supreme Court's unprecedented term...
By Brad Friedman on 6/30/2022 6:23pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was the grand finale at the end of a U.S. Supreme Court term like no other. Now that its packed with rightwing extremists, the unleashed activists on the GOP's illegitimate 6 to 3 U.S. Supreme Court pretended on Thursday that the text of the written law doesn't say what it actually says, in order to offer a parting gift for the year to the fossil fuel industry --- as the nation and globe burn.

The Clean Air Act, as Justice Elena Kagan wrote [PDF] on behalf of the three dissenters, "directs the EPA to regulate stationary sources of any substance that 'causes, or contributes significantly to, air pollution' and that 'may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.'" She made clear that, as the Court has determined on multiple occasions, the Environmental Protection Agency "serves as the Nation's 'primary regulator of greenhouse gas emissions.'"

But, never mind all of that. On Thursday, writing for the Court's far-right majority in West Virginia v. EPA --- and ignoring its own precedents --- Chief Justice John Roberts pretended none of those mandates existed in the law adopted by Congress in 1963 and amended a number of times over the years. Despite any actual existing Administrative rule to regulate carbon emissions by coal and gas-fired power plants --- Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan was put on hold by the Court years ago, and Donald Trump's scheme to restrict the EPA's power to do so was rejected by lower courts --- SCOTUS took up this coal-industry sponsored law suit and gave them pretty much everything they sought, text of the written law be damned.

As they did when striking down the Administration's vaccine-or-test mandate, the Court once again invoked their newly invented "Major Questions" doctrine in order to declare that any issue that may be controversial in any way may not be decided by the scientists and experts at the federal agencies created to handle such things. Instead, they must be specifically directed, by Congress, to do so. Because the Clean Air Act, which tasks the EPA with regulating dangerous pollutants --- such as carbon released by coal-fired power plants, currently exacerbating our deadly climate crisis --- doesn't actually cite "carbon" specifically, the Trump/McConnell/Roberts Court has now declared the federal agency may take no action to help reduce it. Never mind their own previous findings and, of course, the number of Americans who will die because of this ruling.

The opinion was as predictable as it is corrupt. We're joined today by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist and Constitutional law expert at Slate, to discuss the opinion that will not only limit the EPA from doing the job it has already been tasked with by Congress, but prevent many other federal agencies from carrying out their mandates as well. It's all part of the corporate rightwing's long "war on the Administrative State". And it's a war they are now winning --- and we are all losing.

"Massachusetts v. EPA held that the federal government must --- not can, but must --- regulate and limit carbon emissions in the United States because carbon is a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, and thus the EPA has a legal obligation to institute guidelines that reduce the level of greenhouse gases the US is emitting," Stern emphasizes, noting that today's opinion in West Virginia v. EPA "involves a regulation that does not exist."

Nonetheless, "the Supreme Court decided to take it up just to stop Joe Biden from trying" to regulate the greenhouse emissions now warming our planet at an alarming rate. "The Supreme Court," Stern adds, "decided to simply slap limitations on [the Clean Air Act] that do not exist in the text because they do not like it as a matter of policy."

As to the so-called "Major Questions" doctrine, argues Stern, "It's hard to define, because it is made up." It's not in the Constitution and, as far as he can tell, "it comes from Brett Kavanaugh's brain. This was his idea when he was on the lower court, to try to smuggle in a kind of anti-regulatory agenda into what looks like statutory interpretation."

"The basic idea is that if an agency tries to take some kind of very consequential action, that has a serious and vast impact on the people, or the economy, or private industry, then that is a 'major question', and the Congress has to give the Agency an extremely granular and explicit permission slip to do what it wants to do, otherwise the courts will block it. The problem with this test that should be clear, is that it is totally subjective. What looks like a major question to you may look like a frivolous question to me, and it really shifts policy-making over to unelected judges from experts in federal agencies."

Of course, this is just one of the many reasons I don't refer to these people as "conservatives". They don't merely interpret the law and the Constitution, as they claim. They make shit up to justify their politics. They are the "activists legislating from the bench" that Republicans pretend to oppose --- when they are trying to block Democratic appointees from positions on the bench.

There is much more today from the wise and colorful Mr. Stern, on this matter; on a separate (largely good news) ruling from the Court today on immigration policy; on the Court's opinion last week that begins to gut the famous Miranda Rights (the right to remain silent, to an attorney, etc.) for people who are detained by law enforcement (a "sleeper case" overlooked because it came on the same day that the Court overturned Roe v. Wade); on what will or can happen once the illegitimacy of this Court becomes clear to all; and on Justice Stephen Breyer's last day on the Court today before Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in as its first-ever black female jurist.

As if that's not enough, a ruling this week by SCOTUS overturned a lower federal court that found Louisiana's newly gerrymandered Congressional District map to be an unconstitutional violation of the Voting Rights Act. The lower court ordered another black majority District to be created, as state Republicans had only one among six, in a state where one-third of population is black. The ruling was similar to another in Alabama, which SCOTUS also struck down recently, ordering both states to use the gerrymandered and unconstitutional House maps drawn by Republicans for this year's critical 2022 midterm elections.

Does this signal the Court intends to overturn the entirety of the landmark Voting Rights Act, as they did with Roe? "Yes," Stern answers, before explaining how "really, they've already done it."

And then there's the new case that SCOTUS announced today they will take up in their next term, as their destruction continues. It's an election case out of North Carolina to allow the Court to create another pretend legal notion that the Right calls the "Independent State Legislature" Doctrine.

"I am terrified about this case," Stern says, as it will almost certainly be decided to allow "state legislatures to appoint electors in the Electoral College to the losing candidate in a Presidential race. Which is exactly what Donald Trump wanted them to do in 2020, and what Ginni Thomas was urging legislators to do while her husband was trying to institute this theory."

"The American people are in deep, deep, DEEP trouble," he warns.

Please "enjoy" today's program!...

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Guest Host Nicole Sandler with science author Eugene Linden...
By Nicole Sandler on 4/8/2022 4:59pm PT  

It's NICOLE SANDLER back today on The BradCast, filling in for Brad and Desi.

After recapping the celebration of Ketanji Brown Jackson's confirmation as the next Justice of the Supreme Court on the south lawn of the White House today and a look at the rest of the day's news, we jumped into the flood waters of our climate crisis.

EUGENE LINDEN is an award-winning journalist and author who deals with science, nature and the environment. His last book on climate change, Winds of Change, explored the connection between climate change and the rise and fall of civilizations.

His new book, released this week, is called Fire and Flood: A People's History of Climate Change, from 1979 to the Present. Along with the history of climate change, Linden points a big finger at the insurance industry for encouraging people to move to high risk areas.

He tells me there is a path back from the cliff, but we need to act now…

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Guest: GW University Law School's Randall D. Eliason; Also: KBJ's historic SCOTUS confirmation; Insurrectionist House members facing ballot eligibility challenges in AZ; Trump facing contempt in NY...
By Brad Friedman on 4/7/2022 5:34pm PT  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Jeanne Devon of Alaska's Mudflats with all the inside skinny; Also: Zelenskyy chides the U.N. Security Council as evidence of Russian war crimes mount; Three GOP Senators will vote for KBJ...
By Brad Friedman on 4/5/2022 7:03pm PT  

Santa, according to my guest today on The BradCast, is a "democratic socialist". Sarah Palin, on the other hand is...well...Sarah Palin, and she has decided to "un-quit politics." [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Before we get there today, however, a bit more on the grim news coming out of Ukraine this week, as independently documented evidence of horrific war crimes by Russia continues to mount. On Tuesday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the U.N. Security Council from Ukraine and charged that if the U.N. is unable to remove Russia's veto, as a permanent member of the Council, then they might as well dissolve it entirely. He has a point.

Then, before we get to Sarah and Santa...The news that shouldn't be news at all. Three Republican Senators have now announced they intend to vote in favor of Joe Biden's nominee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, perhaps the most qualified jurist every nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court. On Monday night, Utah's Mitt Romney and Alaska's Lisa Murkowski declared they will support Brown's confirmation, joining Maine's Susan Collins who did so last week. None of that should be news at all, but in the Republicans' twisted, hyper-partisanized world, voting for a SCOTUS nominee tapped by a Democratic President apparently it is. During Monday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, South Carolina's Lindsey Graham (who voted for Jackson's appointment to a federal Appeals Court seat just last year, but refuses to vote for her this year) said the quiet part out loud when he declared that if Republicans win back the Senate in November, none of Biden's nominees are likely to be seated to the federal bench.

In other insane GOP Congressional news, Michigan Rep. Fred Upton announced today that he will not seek re-election. He is the fourth of 10 Republican House members who voted in favor of Donald Trump's second impeachment (for inciting the January 6th insurrection) to retire instead of run for re-election.

Meanwhile, way up north in Alaska, more than 40 candidates are now running in the upcoming June Special Election to fill the state's one U.S. House seat, which had been held for 49(!) years by Don Young, the 88-year old Republican Congressman who died suddenly last month.

Donald Trump has chosen his favorite candidate in the race, the one my guest today describes alternately as "The Quitter" and the "former half-term Governor", Sarah Palin. The failed 2008 Vice Presidential candidate is emerging from Alaskan and rightwing media obscurity in hopes of finding relevance again in the far-right wingnut world she helped create during her 2008 run, just before quitting politics halfway through her first term as Alaska's Governor. Palin signed up to run for the Special Election and regular general election primaries --- both to be held on June 11th --- on the final day to qualify, last Friday on April Fools Day. (Seriously.)

We're joined today by one of the nation's foremost Palinologists, JEANNE DEVON, who made a name for herself as "AK Muckraker", helping to introduce Palin to the world in 2008 at her award-winning The Mudflats blog. She has since gone on to co-write a NYTimes best seller, Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin - A Memoir of Our Tumultuous Years, and served as Press Secretary for Alaska's state Senate Democrats and as Communications Director for the state's Democratic Party. (She is currently working with FX to develop a television series based on her book, The Blood of Patriots, which she co-wrote will Bill Fulton about the Alaska militia movement.)

Before we get to Palin and the potentially insane way that Alaska is about to run its Special Election, Devon offers some thoughts on the decades long legacy of the late Don Young who, though "he didn't have that much power anymore" after being stripped of Congressional committee assignments due to "blatant corruption," was still "an institution, and Alaskans like their institutions."

While some in the media have been regarding Palin as the front-runner to fill Young's seat, Devon seems less convinced. "Palin's approval rating and likeability has been underwater since she quit [in 2009.] She is not a popular figure in the state anymore." Devon cites a comment she saw at today one of the "hardcore fringey rightwing" Facebook groups she sometimes drops in on, suggesting those folks do not appear to be fans. "Very hard pass," she reports one commenter as writing, adding "she quit once when the going got tough. And in my mind that defines her entire political career."

A lack of popularity is not all Palin will have to contend with. There are more than 40 candidates running in both the Special and regular primaries, which will be held on the same day. Palin has signed up for both. But in addition to several progressive candidates Devon cites, with impressive resumes and following, she seems most excited about one candidate on the ballot with at least as much "name recognition" as Palin: Santa Claus!

Yes, Claus is "actually a member of the North Pole City Council" and "literally on the ballot". He represents what Devon describes as "one of the most conservative towns in Alaska" and "he is a democratic socialist --- of course --- because he's Santa!"

Devon notes, however, that "Santa Claus has also said he will not run for the next full term. He will just run to finish the end of Don Young's term. Because we are now faced with two elections."

As to those two elections, they will be run under a new scheme in the state. For the first time, anybody who wants to run for office can simply sign up to run, no petition gathering necessary. (Thus, the 40+ candidates!) The top four vote-getters in the primary will then go on to the general election, which will use Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) --- a confusing and difficult to both count and oversee method of voting, allowing voters to rank their choices for the office. (As I explain to Devon, when and if Alaska tires of RCV, as many jurisdictions do after using it, when they discover that neither voters nor candidates understand it, they may wish to look into the simpler Approval Voting method, allowing voters to choose Yes or No for all candidates on the ballot. Easier to understand, to count and to oversee, since computers and centralized counting aren't needed for the complicated math and many rounds of tallying necessary under RCV.)

Of course, Devon has much more insight on what is likely to be a fascinating and/or hilarious race, with both Palin and Clause on the ballot. Additionally, there are six Democrats on the Special Election ballot. Among them, she cites "Christopher Constant, who was the first openly gay person to be elected to the Anchorage Assembly --- and remember, Anchorage is half the population of the state. Then there is Mary Peltola, who long ago served 12 years in the legislature. She's an amazing Native leader who is also an expert in fisheries, which is important up here. And there's a sitting legislator from Fairbanks named Adam Wool. So all of these are Democrats who could certainly fill that slot."

She also has some thoughts to share on Sen. Murkowski, who is up for re-election this year as a Republican --- after voting to remove Trump from office in his second impeachment and declaring her support for Ketanji Brown Jackson this week. Will that doom her chances of re-election? Tune in to find out what Devon has to say about that race --- which will also be run as a top-four primary contest with an RCV general, in a state which has a history of plenty of election and tabulation controversy in recent years.

Finally, after that amusing segment, Desi Doyen joins us to ruin all the fun, as usual, with our latest Green News Report, including special coverage of the U.N. IPCC's latest report warning that Planet Earth is likely to blow past the climate targets set by the Paris Climate Accord, even though, as the scientists note in their report, it is still not too late for the nations of the world to institute mitigation efforts to avoid catastrophic global warming in our all-too-near future...

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Guest: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern of Slate; Also: Major new study confirms Ivermectin ineffective as COVID treatment...
By Brad Friedman on 3/30/2022 7:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast, one of our favorite guests is back to explain why the wildly corrupt Thomases, as horrible as they are, may be one of the least of our concerns when it comes to what the rest of the GOP's wildly corrupt --- not to mention stolen and packed --- U.S. Supreme Court may now be moving toward.[Audio link to full, must-listen show is posted below.]

First up, however, a major new, peer-reviewed, double-blind study released in full today, finds what many have been trying to make clear for quite some time: There is no legitimate evidence that the anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin, most commonly used to de-worm horses, has any positive effect as a treatment for COVID.

In fact, as one part of the huge new Brazilian study found, placebo pills were actually more effective than Ivermectin! Dr. Andrew Hill, a virologist at the University of Liverpool in England, whose early analysis (since retracted) of several smaller studies (at least one of which appears to have been fraudulent) was frequently cited for evidence of the drug's effectiveness, appears now to concur that the new Brazilian study pretty much removes all doubt. Ivermectin is of no use in treating COVID. We now have a pretty large body of evidence demonstrating that is true no matter what clownish TV doctors and profiteers and misinformation specialists on Fox "News" or Joe Rogan's podcast have to say about it.

That said, there are safe and effective (and free) ways to avoid the worst effects of COVID, which peer-reviewed studies have confirmed. They include the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. Actual professional virologists, epidemiologists and both the CDC and FDA strongly recommend them, as do we. Earlier this week the FDA authorized a second booster shot for anyone over 50 who hasn't received a shot in the past four months. Please get one and let's end this goddamn pandemic once and for all. Thanks.

On to our main topic(s) today, as we're joined by the always great, always illuminating, and pretty much always-right-about-everything MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist from Slate.com who smartly covers the law, the court system, the U.S. Supreme Court, election law, LGBTQ issues and much more.

We've got just a few things to discuss with Stern today, including the ridiculous Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings last week for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Joe Biden's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, where she would be its first black female Justice. On Wednesday, it was actually news for some reason that one Senate Republican has announced she will vote for Jackson's confirmation. But, beyond the childish stupidity of Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee last week falsely suggesting that Jackson is somehow in favor of child porn and terrorists, there was something else far more disturbing that emerged from the GOP questioning of Biden's highly qualified nominee.

In short: Republicans aren't just targeting Roe v. Wade's well-established right to an abortion (which the Supreme Court is very likely to overturn within the next few months), but they actually appear to be gunning to reverse a whole bunch of landmark, privacy-related rights, including Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark 2015 ruling establishing a Constitutional right to same sex marriage equality. But that's not all. Also now in their sites for reversal are Griswold v. Connecticut (1965, establishing the right for married couples to buy and use contraceptives) and, yes, even Loving v. Virginia (1967's landmark civil rights decision establishing the right to interracial marriage)!

Think these concerns are exaggerated? That Republicans aren't actually gunning for those federal rights as well? Tune in and find out if you're wrong.

Also, as we discuss, Stern now believes it is unlikely that Republicans will ever vote to confirm another Supreme Court Justice nominated by a Democratic President if they regain majority control of the Senate. He further believes they will stop confirming the President's nominees for any judgeship on the federal bench.

"It is very clear now that Republicans begin from the position that Democratic Presidents have no authority and no right to appoint Supreme Court Justices, or to appoint lower court judges. This is following a longstanding pattern in the Senate of Republicans almost uniformly --- or all uniformly --- voting against nominees to the lower court, including many who are super-qualified and uncontroversial," Stern observes. "We have swung back and forth between close confirmation votes and big overwhelming lopsided confirmation votes, but I fear that this is how it will be forevermore."

While those issues would be more than enough to fill an entire interview, it's not even half of what we cover with Stern today, including his thoughts on the wildly corrupt longtime rightwing activist Ginni Thomas and her husband, the wildly corrupt longtime rightwing activist Justice Clarence Thomas. The conversation follows on last week's explosive revelations that Ginni was relentlessly texting Donald Trump's Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in November of 2020, urging him to fight to reverse the results of Joe Biden's election victory, in hopes of overturning American democracy itself.

Given that Clarence was the only vote on the High Court in favor of blocking subpoenaed documents from the Trump White House, which might have included emails and text from Ginni, from being turned over by the National Archives to the U.S. House January 6 Committee, Stern believes this matter is now like nothing we have ever seen at SCOTUS.

"This may feel like the latest in a long line of atrocious conflicts of interest and injustices that Clarence and Ginni Thomas have inflicted on the country, but it is materially different, because we have never before seen a case where Clarence Thomas' vote so directly implicates his wife's work," Stern argues. After I note another such case --- where Ginni received hundreds of thousands of dollars in dark money for her so-called non-partisan non-profits following Clarence's vote in the 2010 Citizens United case (after that very same group, Citizens United, had quietly spent hundreds of thousands to help push through Clarence's controversial confirmation in 1991!), Stern notes that it "looks to the world, quite reasonably, like a husband trying to shield his wife from legal scrutiny. I think that is a huge leap forward in this story. This is different in kind, not just degree." He adds: "I think it's helpful to draw this distinction between votes that benefit a spouse and votes that shield them from a criminal probe."

So what should be done about the Thomases? Tune in for Stern's thoughts (and mine!) for a very lively conversation on that.

But wait, there's more! You may have heard about last week's outrageous "shadow docket" decision by the Court that put on hold a ruling by Wisconsin's Supreme Court, including the opinion written by one of its leading conservative justices, finding that Democratic Governor Tony Evers' new map for state legislative seats in the Badger State should be used in this year's redistricting, following the 2020 Census. The GOP's corrupt SCOTUS, however, feels otherwise, even though Evers' map was closer to the state's previous (and wildly gerrymandered) one than the map pushed by the state's far-right gerrymandered state legislature. To make the matter even more absurd, the High Court completely ignored its own entirely made up and opportunistically used "Purcell Principle", which is supposedly meant to prevent last minutes changes to laws that might throw elections into chaos. In this case, since Wisconsin's Supreme Court and Democratic Governor both agreed that a new black majority district was needed in Milwaukee, the rightwingers on SCOTUS decided they'd never heard of Purcell or, apparently, the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

If you're flummoxed about all of this based on the above explanation, you're not alone. Tune in, as Stern tries, as usual, to help us make sense of the senselessness now coming out of a U.S. Supreme Court that is on the verge of losing whatever shred of legitimacy it may have had left at this point...

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Guest: Amy Slipowitz of Freedom House; Also: Keeping up with the wildly corrupt Clarence and Ginni Thomas; Some good news for EVs in the U.S....
By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2022 7:08pm PT  

I don't think "freedom" means what many on the Right in this country seem to think it means. Our guest on The BradCast today, an expert in such things, seems to agree. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

First up, Lord Manchin has spoken! We'll soon learn if Lady Sinema agrees. But, for now at least, West Virginia's Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is not taking the bait from Republicans this time around. He says he will be be voting in favor of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Joe Biden's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, after a week in which she was flogged by all sorts of stuff and nonsense from an increasingly ridiculous, pathetic and extreme Republican caucus in the U.S. Senate. We don't yet know if the other obstructionist Democratic Senator, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, agrees, but if so --- and presuming all 50 Democratic Senators stay healthy between now and the time they hold a vote to confirm Judge Jackson --- we should have our first black female Supreme Court Justice on the High Court very soon.

But, speaking of both corruption and the Supreme Court, its longest-serving and arguably most corrupt Justice (though there's much competition here), Clarence Thomas has reportedly been discharged from the hospital after a week of treatment for a still unspecified "infection". After waiting two days to report that he'd been admitted in the first place last Friday, the Court said on Sunday that the 73-year old Thomas would be out of the hospital after receiving intravenous antibiotics for his "flu-like symptoms" by Tuesday. But after Wednesday and Thursday happened without any updates on his condition or whereabouts, we are told he was finally released on Friday, though no more information was provided on either his condition or his ailment.

That news comes a day after his similarly corrupt, far-right activist wife Ginni Thomas made headlines again on Thursday, when news of a series of insane text messages she sent to then White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was made public on Thursday afternoon. The messages Ginni sent to Meadows in November of 2020 included loony conspiracy theories claiming the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump and instructed Meadows to fight to overturn the results finding that Joe Biden had won.

And all of that was going on even as Ginni's husband Clarence was voting (thankfully) in the minority on the Court in favor of Trump's various dumb challenges to the results of the election he lost, and for attempts to block things like lawful Congressional subpoenas, which would include Ginni's messages to Meadows, from being shared with the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6th 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Of course, Clarence, who has been trying to hide both his and his wife's corruption for decades now, never recused himself from any of those cases, despite the outrageous conflicts of interest caused by his far-right activist wife. Luckily for them both, they are Republicans. So his corruption on the bench will likely be allowed to continue.

But, It is that sort of corruption and much more from the unapologetic Rightwing in this country --- as opposed to a lack of "freedom" to go maskless during the worst pandemic in a century --- that has helped precipitate the United States' fall in the annual Freedom House ranking on the condition of political rights and civil liberties in nations across the globe.

The non-partisan group's 2022 report is titled "The Global Expansion of Authoritarian Rule." It follows on last year's, titled "Democracy Under Siege," which we discussed at the time of its release on this show with one of its co-authors. In both, the U.S. no longer even cracks the top 50 most "Free" countries anymore, based on the 25 indicators measured by the group of international experts who work with Freedom House, which, founded in 1941, describes itself as "the oldest American organization devoted to the support and defense of democracy around the world."

After 16 consecutive years now of what Freedom House warns to be a "decline in global freedom," in which democracies are becoming less democratic and authoritarianism continues to rise across the globe, the U.S. now ranks at about 63rd on the list. It's tied with nations like South Korea, Romania and Panama, and and comes in just behind nations like Argentina, Mongolia, Croatia and Latvia on their Freedom House's index. We are now far behind Slovenia and the Czech Republic and, according to this year's report, have nowhere near the Freedoms available in nations such as Taiwan, Estonia or Chile, much less Australia, Switzerland, Japan, Uruguay, the Netherlands, Canada and New Zealand. For the record, the nations tied for the most "Free" in the world: Norway, Finland and Sweden.

Our guest today is AMY SLIPOWITZ, Freedom House Research Manager and co-author of their flagship annual report. Our conversation includes the methodologies used in compiling the group's findings and how they define what "freedom" actually is. "It's pretty simple," she explains. "To us, freedom means democracy, a governing system based on the will and consent of the governed. It has institutions that are accountable to all citizens. These include things like an independent judiciary, free media, and strong civil society. And ultimately, a democracy is the best system for ensuring that everyone's human rights are respected, no matter who they voted for."

What are the key differences between this year's reports and last year's? "The main driver that we found for the decline in 2021 was that autocrats are increasingly cooperating and supporting each other in their attacks on democratic norms and institutions," Slipowitz asserts. "And with this, authoritarians have made really enormous gains in the international system. So they've been able to use that influence to promote autocracy as a viable alternative to democracy. The cooperation isn't based on any unifying ideology, or even friendship or affinity among authoritarians, but on a single shared interest, which is to stay in power by any means necessary."

"A key part of this is trying to transform the international system, where the rules-based international order no longer applies," she adds. "So that's where you see authoritarian regimes causing conflict and other really egregious abuses. We've seen this manifest with things like more military coups, more elections with pre-determined outcomes, power grabs. To give just a couple of examples, military coups happened in five countries this year. This was more common in 2021 than in any year of the past decade."

Among the related issues discussed with Slipowitz: What are the greatest factors in the slow decline of freedom and democracy across the globe over the past 15 years and the sudden plunge in freedom seen in 2020? Why is the U.S. now ranked so low on the Freedom House index, near the bottom of its index of "Free" nations? How much of a factor was the January 6th insurrection last year and new restrictions on voting in the U.S. in their determination? Does the rest of the world still consider the U.S. to be a "beacon of freedom" worth following and emulating? How do mask and vaccine mandates amid the COVID pandemic, dramatically cited by many on the Right as the death of personal freedom, play into this year's ratings? How about the banning of books and the teaching of subjects such as systemic racism and sexuality? And, have we seen a similar years-long decline in global democracy and rise of authoritarianism at any other time in recent history?

"It's much easier to dismantle democratic systems than it is to build them back up," Slipowitz warns. "For the U.S. to recover from this 11-point decline over ten years, it's really important that the more structural issues be strengthened and fixed." All of that and much more during our enlightening --- and occasionally chilling --- conversation.

Finally today, some quick coverage of several good(ish) news stories we had hoped to cover yesterday, but had to dump at the last minute, thanks to the breaking news of the wildly corrupt Thomas clan. Among those stories: the rise in gas prices due to Big Oil profiteering and Russia's war in Ukraine is leading to a huge increase among American car buyers interest in battery-powered electric vehicles and hybrids; Emerging evidence that the Biden Administration may considering use of the Defense Production Act to build electric heat pumps here in the U.S. to help replace some 75 million oil and gas furnaces in Europe, currently dependent on Russian gas (as we discussed recently with climate journalist and activist Bill McKibben); And a doubling of the number of battery-powered electric delivery trucks being ordered by the U.S. Postal Service and its corrupt Postmaster, Louis DeJoy. (That still only amounts to a bare one-fifth of the new trucks being ordered at the moment to replace the aging, gas-guzzling USPS fleet...but we're still working on it!)

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Guest: Prof. Jeffrey Sonnenfeld of Yale School of Management; Also: More climate-fueled disasters in LA, TX; And, where is Clarence Thomas?...
By Brad Friedman on 3/23/2022 6:47pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: If you might otherwise expect a Senior Associate Dean at Yale University's School of Business Management to be a stodgy, rightwing, so-called pro-business conservative, think again. The one joining us today, naming and shaming major international corporations for continuing to do business with Russia even after their barbaric, nearly month-long destruction of Ukraine, is anything but. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But first up today, very quickly, what you need to know about the deadly tornado swarm that slammed Louisiana and Texas overnight. It's just the latest in an increasingly long and violent string of climate change-fueled disasters slamming both states. Desi Doyen explains what climate scientists are learning about changes in tornadic weather as our climate crisis worsens in places like her old home state of Texas which, in recent years, has faced one such costly and deadly disaster after another (as the Republicans who control the state pretend fossil fuels have nothing to do with it.) From hurricanes to flooding to cold snaps that knock out power to the recent drought and wild fires which, at least last night's storms helped, in part, to have quelled a bit for now.

Next: Where is Clarence Thomas? The wildly corrupt U.S. Supreme Court Justice was admitted to the hospital last Friday, though the Court didn't announce it until Sunday, when their statement said he was being treated with intravenous antibiotics for an "infection" and "flu-like symptoms." The Court said on Sunday that the 73-year old Thomas would be out of the hospital by Monday or Tuesday. But, as of Wednesday, the Court had no comment on his whereabouts or his condition. Hmm...That, as Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson faced another ridiculous day of childish questioning from Republicans in her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings to replace Justice Stephen Breyer on the High Court.

Then, we're joined by Yale School of Management's Senior Associate Dean and Professor of Management Practice JEFFREY SONNENFELD for a very lively discussion of the more than 450 American and international corporations that have withdrawn partially or fully from Russia, and the smaller (but still substantive and extremely shameful) number of companies still doing business there during Putin's deadly siege on his sovereign neighbor.

Sonnenfeld and his team of colleagues and researchers at the school began by compiling a list of those companies who had pulled out of Russia shortly after Putin's invasion, and those that had yet to. That "Hall of Shame" list has since gained a great deal of public attention and, he tells us, has both helped to both encourage and shame CEOs into shutting their doors in Russia.

"We just had a session with 70 CEOs --- you're the first to know about this --- major CEOs across the face of American industry, with General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff," Sonnenfeld tells us. "And he did emphasize that they are working off our list. We're humbled by that, but we know that people on Wall Street and the activist community are using it" as well.

Since its initial creation, the list is now broken down into more specific categories, including companies that have announced a full "Withdrawal"; others which merely declared a "Suspension" of operations for now; those that are "Scaling Back" by reducing operations; and the two most pernicious categories of companies that are either "Buying Time" by postponing new investments while continuing substantive business or, worst of all, "Digging In" by defying all demands to leave or even reduce operations there.

While Sonnenfeld notes that the list remains "a moving target", with several companies see their rating changed even as we went to air (the fossil fuel services giant Halliburton was moved from the worst, "Digging In," to the second worst, "Buying Time" today, for example), you'll be delighted to know our friends at the rightwing dark money conglomerate Koch Industries and its crappy paper subsidiaries like Georgia-Pacific, are staying put with Team Fascist Dictator for now.

On the other hand, Sonnenfeld says that he was pleasantly surprised that a number of Big Oil companies, "not usually on the leading edge of social change," pulled out early on. But, he has a thought or two for companies like Dunkin Donuts, Nestle, Mars candy and, yes, the rightwing Koch Industries, which, for its part, says they are staying in Russia for what they describe as the "health, safety and wellbeing of all employees. Leaving, they assert, "would only put our employees there at greater risk and do more harm than good."

Koch also justified their decision by claiming they refuse to "hand over these manufacturing facilities to the Russian government so it can operate and benefit from them." Sonnefeld identifies that as closer to the real reason Koch doesn't want to leave. "It's so ludicrous, on every level," he tells me. "There are now millions and million of employees that used to work for Western companies" now out of work in Russia. If all of those companies pulled out, "there wouldn't be a shred of legitimacy for the government. It would make the revolution happen instantly." He argues Russia couldn't "round up fifteen million people and then figure out what to do with them because they're not working for Western companies anymore. It's ridiculous."

Even companies like McDonald's, which has at least done the right thing by shuttering its 850 stores in Russia, only gets a "B" grade on the list's second, "Suspension" category, as they continue to pay their workers there in hopes of returning. "It allows Putin and Putin supporters to say, 'This was just ceremonial, it's temporary. You don't need to worry, they're not really leaving, they'll be back.'"

When asked if the company should receive plaudits for helping to keep their from going hungry, Sonnenfeld is unimpressed. "Those 60,000 people should be out of work and in the streets. That's what people don't understand on this," he insists. "They say, 'Oh, innocent Russians aren't responsible for what Putin is doing.' Yes, they are! It's their complacency. Putin is in power, not because he is popularly elected. He rules because of this iron fist of being a murderous tyrant. To take that on you've got to go in there with warfare. If we don't want to do that, one thing we can do to help those innocent Russians is to at least get them angry to be part of a civil disobedience, to be part of a shutdown of civil society."

He cites "bloodless revolutions" elsewhere, charging that "if you freeze up the economy, then you get people angry, out on the streets, and they bring down the government. But to keep them complacent and comfortable, that does no good whatsoever."

While recognizing the lack of a free press in Russia at this point, Sonnenfeld also has little sympathy. "It's because they willingly don't want to know. It isn't just because they don't get a free press. When all their favorite brands shut down and they're out of work --- if all of these non-Russian companies say 'You're a rogue nation!' --- maybe they'll start to realize that what Putin is telling them, that he's trying to 'liberate' Ukraine, they'll realize that's not true."

As you might guess, Sonnenfeld, the author of many books and academic papers on business management, leadership, and corporate governance, has much more to say on this subject and on the many companies who have done what he sees as the right thing, as well as those he feels should be penalized by the American people for failing to do so.

You can view the list or download a searchable Excel version here. But, first, you'll want to tune in for today's very lively and colorful conversation with Sonnenfeld...

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