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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, May 18, 2024
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, a 'Smoking Gun', and 'The 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
  w/ Brad & Desi
Canada's fire season erupts, as smoke chokes U.S. Upper Midwest; Record-breaking increase in global CO2 levels; PLUS: MI is newest state to sue Big Oil for climate damages...
Previous GNRs: 5/9/24 - 5/7/24 - Archives...
Recount in Tied U.S. House Primary Highlights 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...
Facing Down the Threat to American Democracy: 'BradCast' 5/9/24
A veteran reporter speaks out; DHS marshals defenses; Lara lies about ballots; Johnson lies about 'illegals' voting; Also: MTG's spectacular fail; Stormy wins the day; Biden cuts off Israel...
'Green News Report' 5/9/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Tornado outbreaks 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...
Previous GNRs: 5/7/24 - 5/2/24 - Archives...
Trump Trial Ketchup:
Stormy Takes the Stand: 'BradCast' 5/8/24
Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, attorney Keith Barber of Daily Kos; Also: 'Warning signs' from IN primary results; Blankenship's run in WV...
New Cybersecurity Breach in Coffee County, GA: 'BradCast' 5/7/24
Guest: Election integrity expert Marilyn Marks; Also: Stormy takes the stand in NY; GA's Republican former Lt. Gov. endorses Biden...
'Green News Report' 5/7/24
Relentless rain, flooding in Houston and Brazil; April 2024 was hottest on record; PLUS: Biden unveils billions for rural clean energy, replacing toxic lead water pipes...
2024 Electoral -- and Climate -- Omens: 'BradCast' 5/6/24
From Britain to Panama to Brazil to Houston; Also: Latest in Israel's war on Gaza and in Trump's NY criminal trial...
Sunday 'Self Reflecting' Toons
THIS WEEK: Champions of 'free speech' ... 'Captain Fascism' ... Kristi 'Dog Gone' Noem... and more, in our latest collection of the week's best political toons...
'Green News Report' 5/2/24
Extreme heat, storms grip Asia; Big brands and Big Plastic; Plastic pollution treaty talks end; PLUS: Congress finds Big Oil still trying to deceive the public...
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
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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: Labor journalist Steven Greenhouse; Also: House finally passes aid package for Ukraine; Prosecutors accuse Trump of 'election fraud' in NY criminal trial opening statement...
By Brad Friedman on 4/22/2024 6:05pm PT  

Nothing but huge news --- all of several different sorts --- on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

FIRST UP: After months of stalling to the benefit of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and our wannabe dictator former President, Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson, to his credit, bucked the majority of his own caucus and reversed course last week on Ukraine. The full reason for his sudden about-face remains unclear --- and a majority of his own party still voted against aid to our besieged democratic allies in Europe --- but whatever the reason, it is very good news for both Ukraine and global democracy. The full Democratic caucus in the House backed Johnson's plan to adopt some $95 billion in military, humanitarian and economy aid to Ukraine, Israel (including more than $9 billion in assistance to residents of Gaza), Taiwan and other Indo-Pacific allies. Far-right House Republicans derided the legislation as "America Last" aid to foreign wars and have been threatening to invoke another motion to vacate the Speaker's chair. So far, however, they've failed to pull the trigger.

NEXT UP: The first criminal trial of a former (and perhaps future) U.S. President got underway for reals on Monday in New York, with opening statements presented by both sides in what Prosecutors are characterizing as a 2016 "election fraud" via hush-money case against Donald J. Trump. We step through the opening presentations of each side's case today. NY prosecutors detailed how they intend to demonstrate that Trump, in a panic following the release of the infamous Access Hollywood tape, where he boasted about assaulting women, took measures just before the 2016 election to pay off women he was alleged to have had affairs with, including Playboy Model Karen McDougal and adult film star Stormy Daniels.

The schemes to silence the women, according to state prosecutor Matthew Colangelo, were carried out via an elaborate conspiracy between Trump, his then attorney and fixer Michael Cohen, and then publisher of the National Enquirer, David Pecker. The plot involved 34 allegedly falsified business transactions --- including checks signed by Trump while serving in the White House --- disguised as legal retainers to Cohen, rather than reimbursement money for hush-money payments. The Trump Organization couldn’t cut a check to Cohen with the memo "reimbursement for porn star payoff," so "they agreed to cook the books," said Colangelo, to make the payments appear to be for legal services.

The Enquirer produced what prosecutors described as "checkbook journalism" on Trump's behalf to "catch and kill" McDougal's story of a nearly year-long affair with Trump while his wife Melania was pregnant in 2006. And Cohen paid Daniels directly in exchange for signing a $130,000 non-disclosure agreement that prevented her from revealing her 2006 tryst with Trump while Melania was nursing their infant son. "He covered up that criminal conspiracy by lying in his New York business records over and over and over again," Colangelo told the jury, detailing what he characterized as "election fraud, pure and simple."

In Trump's defense, his attorney Todd Blanche made the case that none of the actions described by prosecutors are crimes. "I have a spoiler alert," he told the jury, "there’s nothing wrong with trying to influence an election. It’s called democracy."

Prosecutors called Pecker as their first witness on Monday, but the court session was cut short on due to a dental emergency for one of the jurors and a planned early finish to the day due to the Jewish Passover holiday. Pecker is set to return to the stand for the prosecution on Tuesday.

FINALLY: The story that (understandably, given the above) is not getting nearly the attention it deserves today. On Friday, by an overwhelming 3 to 1 margin, workers at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee voted to unionize by joining the United Auto Workers. The landmark vote came after a full-court press against it the day before the unionization election was to begin last Wednesday, via an unprecedented joint statement by six Republican southern state Governors. TN's Gov. Bill Lee and the Governors of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas warned in the statement against workers voting to join the union, charging that it would result in jobs leaving the state.

Nonetheless, VW's workers overwhelmingly approved the historic resolution, in what UAW leader Shawn Fain described on Sunday to our guest today, veteran labor journalist and author STEVEN GREENHOUSE of The Guardian, as "the first domino to fall" in what Greenhouse describes as the UAW's "ambitious $40m campaign targeting 13 automakers, including VW, Mercedes, Tesla, BMW, Toyota, Nissan and Hyundai, with a total of 35 non-union plants across the US."

"It's a very big deal," Greenhouse tells me today. "It's a big deal because unions have had a very hard time organizing the South. Indeed, unions and union leaders are often told 'it's impossible to win the South, don't even bother.' Factory-workers are so worried that if they vote to unionize, the plant will close and move overseas. So this victory really bursts the citadel, breaks down the tradition of all these losses in the South. This finally shows you can win."

In fact, two previous efforts to unionize the same VW plant failed some 10 and 15 years ago. But now, post-pandemic and, most notably, with the rise and inspiration of the UAW's new, charismatic leader Fain, there is renewed action and optimism. "This gives a lot of momentum, a lot of energy and inspiration to autoworkers, and I think to the larger labor movement," says Greenhouse, the author of several books on the subject including his latest, Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present and Future of American Labor.

We discuss, among other things today: why this effort at VW succeeded where previous votes failed; how unprecedented the statement was from those six southern Governors (In Greenhouse's interview with Fain on Sunday, the labor leader called them "liars" and "puppets for corporate America" that "don't give a damn about working-class people...even though workers are the ones who elect them."); how the unionization in the auto industry may inspire similar efforts by workers in other industries for the first time in man years; whether the UAW will actually be able to unionize Tesla, as led by the very anti-union Elon Musk, as well as the other non-union plants being targeted by the UAW around the country, following their wildly successful strike against Detroit's Big Three automakers last year.

One of those targeted non-union plants belongs to Mercedes-Benz in Vance, Alabama where workers are scheduled to hold a unionization vote next month. If both VW and Mercedes are unionized, as Greenhouse reported a Georgetown labor historian observing last week, it would "be nothing less than an earthquake [and] the biggest breakthrough in private-sector organizing in decades."

As noted, some pretty huge news on today's program...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Labor journalist, author Steven Greenhouse; Also: Putin steals another election; Trump tries to avoid coughing up $450M in NY...
By Brad Friedman on 3/18/2024 6:10pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Given all of the ongoing madness, this story has not yet broken through all of the noise. But there is a concerted effort by several large corporations underway right now to undermine nearly 100 years of labor law in these United States. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

After some news headlines from today and the past several, we're joined by longtime, award-winning labor journalist STEVEN GREENHOUSE, formerly of the New York Times, now at The Guardian, and author of the new book, Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present and Future of American Labor.

At The Guardian last week, Greenhouse reported on the disturbing effort now under way by a number of major corporations, including Amazon, Starbucks, Trader Joe's and Elon Musk's SpaceX, to have the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) --- established as part of the 89-yeard old National Labor Relations Act --- declared unconstitutional by the federal courts.

The NLRB is critical to the survival of workers' rights and the unionization of workplaces. "The NLRB functions, essentially, as a referee, as an umpire, when workers seek to unionize. It tries to get workers, unions and companies to follow certain rules," Greenhouse explains today. "It's illegal, for instance, for companies to fire workers for supporting a union. Starbucks is accused of this. Companies fire the leaders of unionization efforts to decapitate, to kill the effort. The NLRB comes in as the empire and blows the whistle, saying, 'You can't do that. You can't fire people for supporting a union.'"

That said, the Board and its team of Administrative Judges who make determinations about violations of labor law, don't have the power to do much more than make findings. "It doesn't have the power to fine companies one penny for firing ten or twenty or thirty workers for supporting a union." Thus, companies like Starbucks have been in violation of the law more than a hundreds times over the past year, but clearly see the largely non-existent "penalties" for doing so, worth the crime.

The NLRB tends to side with management when Republicans are in the White House and control the Board, and with labor when a Democrat occupies the Oval Office. Greenhouse explains that Democrats have made efforts over the years to give more muscle to the NLRB, but have been blocked, for decades, by Republicans.

Still, as weak as the NLRB is, it plays a vital role in American labor law and workers right to collectively bargain for better pay and working conditions. "Corporations have long gloated at how weak the NRLB is. But what's really different now is that corporations, instead of just shrugging when they're slapped on the wrist, they're really taking a bazooka and going to court trying to have the NLRB declared unconstitutional," Greenhouse tells me.

Even though the NLRB has "been found constitutional time and again" over the past century, now that the federal court system --- including the Supreme Court --- has been so thoroughly captured by rightwing judges, these companies appear to be trying to gut the entire apparatus. And they may get away with it. Unions "fear that the Supreme Court and many judges have moved so far to the right that they are ready to blow up the system of federal agencies that generally has worked very well, over the past 90 years, protecting workers, protecting consumers, protecting investors."

But, Greenhouse warns, these companies "should be careful what they wish for." Finding the NLRB or the Act itself unconstitutional could return labor law to "the law of the jungle", as one labor expert cited in Greenhouse's report suggests. It could also work out much worse for the companies themselves than they may be realizing.

Tune in today for much more on all of the above.

Then, we dive into a bit more detail on some of the news of note since last week, including dictator Vladimir Putin's illegitimate reelection over the weekend to a third term --- and third decade --- of rule in Russia, and Donald Trump's claim that he is unable to come up with a bond to cover the $464 million fine he, his company, and his top execs (including his two eldest sons) now owe in New York after being found liable for years of massive bank, tax and insurance fraud...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: TikTok foolishness; NY hush-money trial delay?; Navarro must go to jail; Trump owes $400k for failed 'Steele Dossier' lawsuit in UK...
By Brad Friedman on 3/14/2024 6:51pm PT  

Lots (and lots) of news on today's BradCast, from Israel to TikTok foolishness to lots (and lots) of Trump accountability news. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

Among our lead stories today...

  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, an ardent, longtime supporter of Israel, called on Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to hold new elections. New York's Schumer, a Jew who happens to come from NYC, which has the world's largest Jewish population, cited the far-right Prime Minister as an obstacle to peace who is turning Israel into the world's "pariah". In a 40-minute floor speech, the Senate's top Democrat charged that the unpopular Netanyahu, who is avoiding facing felony charges while remaining in office and avoiding a new election until his war against Hamas in Gaza is over (which it will never be, as long as these are the stakes), "has lost his way by allowing his political survival to take precedence over the best interests of Israel." This is a very big deal in a whole bunch of ways. We discuss some of them today.
  • There has been a bipartisan push this week to adopt a bill that would result in the banning of the TikTok app in the U.S. if the company which owns it does not divest from China. Donald Trump, who, as President, issued a failed Executive Order to ban the popular social media video app (it was blocked by the Courts for violating First Amendment free speech rights) has recently flip-flopped to support the app, after meeting with a billionaire hedge fund manager heavily invested in the company. But, despite the popularity of the bill which has now passed in the House, we discuss why it is a terrible idea. Social media regulations are long overdue. But the menace of China's (theoretical) ownership of TikTok is no worse than Elon Musk's actual ownership of Twitter/X. And, in case Democrats failed to notice today, Trump's former Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, announced that he is trying to bring together an investor group to purchase the company. Still think this is a good idea, Dems?
  • The UK's Guardian, in an excellent piece today, details the Trump business associates who prosecutors say paid Alexander Smirnov $600,000 in 2020, the year that Smirnov, now charged with lying to the FBI, fed them false claims that Joe Biden accepted bribes from the Ukrainian energy company named Burisma. Prosecutors have also charged that Smirnov met with Russian Intelligence officials before passing on the lie to the FBI, which House Republicans cited at the center of their doomed impeachment probe of the President. So, Smirnov passed on disinformation from Russian intelligence to the FBI and was paid by longtime business associates in the U.S., UK and Dubai of the then-President who was running for re-election that year. And, after losing the election, those lies were used to try and impeach the guy who defeated him. This movie keeps getting worse and worse.

In Trump accountability news today (there is lots of that as well)...

  • U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, appointed by Trump after he lost the election, but before he left the White House, rejected a Team Trump motion, for a happy change, in the case of the highly classified documents he stole when leaving the White House, and then hid from prosecutors seeking to get them back. Cannon turned down his attempt to dismiss the felony charges based on his claim that the Espionage Act he is charged under is too vague.
  • Meanwhile, the one criminal case that Trump is facing which had not yet been derailed by Trump's various delay tactics --- his New York state hush-money case --- may now be delayed following a tranche of thousands of documents from a previous federal investigation recently turned over to Manhattan prosecutors. We explain what happened here and why the NY D.A.'s office cites the defendants actions for this surprise revelation. Prosecutors have agreed to a 30-day delay before the start of the trial, which was previously scheduled to begin on March 25. The judge overseeing the case, however, Judge Juan Merchan, has yet to decide how much, if any, delay he will allow.
  • Trump's former White House trade advisor, and one of his top 2020 "voter fraud" fraudsters, Peter Navarro must report to federal prison in Miami next Tuesday, according to a federal appeals court panel today. Navarro was charged with criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to answer subpoenas from the House January 6 Committee. Like former Trump advisor Steve Bannon, who has managed to remain free pending appeal, Navarro was sentenced to four months for his crimes.
  • And, in a bit of Trump accountability news that appears to have slipped through the cracks, last week, a judge in the UK ordered Trump to pay some $382,000 in attorneys fees to the lawyers of former British spy Christopher Steele and his private intelligence company. Trump had filed sued in the UK, charging that the "shocking and scandalous" allegations in the so-called Steele Dossier had harmed his reputation. (Please hold your laughter.) The British judge determined the claims were "bound to fail" and ordered Trump to cough up legal fees to cover the frivolous suit. In 2022, Trump lost a similar case he filed in Florida against Steele, Hillary Clinton and a number of top former FBI officials. That case was also tossed and he was ordered to pay nearly a million dollars for that fiasco. I guess he's still not tired of winning.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with cruel news out of Ron DeSantis' Florida; disturbing news about the fossil fuel industry's continuing methane leaks; terrifying news about GOP plans if Trump retakes the White House; and sad news for California salmon...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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RNC rigging nomination for Trump; Also: Luttig's 'textualist' SCOTUS brief argues Trump 'disqualified himself'; More bad news for Bannon; Court nixes Musk's $56B pay package; Biden pauses new NatGas terminals...
By Brad Friedman on 1/30/2024 6:11pm PT  

Be sure to put on your mud boots for today's BradCast. You're gonna need 'em. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

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

  • American Presidential Primaries and Caucuses were always confusing for voters. This year, they are even more so. That, however, suits Donald Trump just fine in advance of next week's Nevada Primary (on Feb. 6) and Caucuses (on Feb. 8 ), which have been rigged by Team Trump to assure he cannot lose a single delegate to Nikki Haley, his last remaining challenger for the 2024 GOP Presidential nomination.
  • The day after the New Hampshire Primary last week, Trump supported an RNC executive resolution to officially declare him to be party's "presumptive 2024 nominee for the office of President of the United States." That, after nominating contests in only two states (Iowa and NH) where he won just 32 of the 1,215 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. Two days later (perhaps after receiving some sage legal advice) the desperate former President came out against the resolution, so the RNC promptly killed it. We what actually appears to have happened.
  • Well-respected and very conservative former U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Michael Luttig filed an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief [PDF] with the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, arguing that the Justices must adhere to the "textualist" approach that rightwingers on the High Court have claimed to follow in recent years, as they weigh whether Donald Trump is eligible for the 2024 ballot under the U.S. Constitution's "Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause." Trump has "disqualified himself" for the office of President under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, Judge Luttig and others argue in the brief, after having "engaged in insurrection" on January 6, 2021, when he "sought to prevent the vesting of the authority and functions of the Presidency in the newly-elected President." That, the brief contends, may be even worse than when South Carolina seceded from the Union on December 20, 1860 to "prevent the newly-elected President Lincoln from governing only in that State." The Justices must not construct an artificial "off-ramp" to avoid their Constitutional mandate, the brief asserts. The matter will be heard by SCOTUS on Thursday next week.
  • Disgraced former Trump White House advisor and campaign Chair turned podcaster and con-artist, Steve Bannon, may be in more trouble than you know. He has already been convicted and sentenced to four months in federal prison for Contempt of Congress for his refusal to answer subpoenas from the House Select Committee investigating January 6. While free on appeal, he has also been charged by New York state for massive fraud in the "We Build the Wall" campaign which siphoned millions from duped Trump supporters. And now his former attorney in that case is gunning for Bannon's bank accounts after he was found to owe the law firm nearly half a million dollars in unpaid legal fees. Bannon's latest attempt to block his banks from turning over documents to the firm claims that doing so "poses a significant risk of compromising Mr. Bannon’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination." Sad!
  • BREAKING DURING SHOW: A Delaware court judge has voided Tesla CEO Elon Musk's nearly $56 billion compensation package, ruling it was unlawfully dictated by Musk himself to a non-independent Board of Directors in sham negotiations. Also sad!
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as President Biden puts a pause on approvals for new Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) export terminals; new reports find Canada tar sands are up to 6000% more toxic than previously known and that climate change made Brazil's Amazon rainforest draught 30 times more likely; and China, as it turns out, built more new solar power in 2023 alone than the U.S. has in its entire history...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Pandora, TuneIn, Google, Amazon or our native RSS feed!

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Not suitable for children or adults of any age...
By Brad Friedman on 11/22/2023 12:04pm PT  

Desi and I were happy(ish) to take a break from our holiday break to join our friend Nicole Sandler on her live show on Tuesday. (She had otherwise planned to take the day off as well, until we decided to show up and ruin her plans.)

A few folks, via email, Twitter, and her live chat room during and after the program, reported hilarity. You may decide if they are correct. Either way, since it is an Internet Only show, the language may or may not be appropriate for children. Or for you. Though we do hope it goes down well either before or after Turkey and stuffing...

11-21-23 Nicole Sandler Show -
A Special Live Show with Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen

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Guest: Journalist Russ Baker; Also: House GOP scheme uses Israel to attack IRS; WI Guv sues Legislature for blocking government functions...
By Brad Friedman on 11/1/2023 7:03pm PT  

I'm guessing my use of his name in the headline will get me even further downgraded on Twitter/X when posting today's BradCast there. So be it. It's just one more example of how bad it has become. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

That is not just hyperbole. Ask the guy in Berlin who is now suing Twitter to have his account reinstated on the social media site after data he compiled was used by the New York Times and CNN to detail how Twitter restored accounts of far-right extremists after Elon Musk purchased the company last year. More on Musk in a moment.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found [PDF] on Wednesday that Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson's proposal to "pay for" $14.3 billion in emergency aid to Israel amid its war with Hamas by "offsetting" the cost with cuts to the IRS budget would cost the U.S. tens of billions in revenue and increase the federal deficit. The plan, according to the CBO, would prevent the IRS from enforcing tax laws against the wealthy and corporations to the tune of $26.8 billion in lost revenue and would add $12.5 billion to the deficit over the next ten years. The White House describes proposal as a "non-starter" and has vowed to veto it if it should ever show up on his desk. It won't. In the meantime, a bipartisan plan for emergency aid to Israel, Ukraine and for the U.S. southern border continues to move forward in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

The U.S. House is hardly the only dysfunctional Republican-run legislative body these days. On Tuesday, Wisconsin's Democratic Governor Tony Evers filed suit at the state's Supreme Court against the gerrymandered GOP state House and Senate, accusing them of failing to carry out basic government functions, like signing off on previously-legislated pay raises for some 35,000 University of Wisconsin employees; blocking new state agency rules for updating commercial building codes and ethics standards for licensed social workers, therapists and other professional counselors.

Compared to the ongoing disaster in the Middle East, however, perhaps those issues are small potatoes. The death toll in Gaza continues to quickly escalate in the wake of Israel's unrelenting response to Hamas' barbaric attack on October 7. But, as bad as it all is, it has been made unnecessarily worse thanks to a flood of disinformation on social media, most notably, on Elon Musk's rebranded Twitter/X.

We're joined today by longtime investigative journalist RUSS BAKER, now Editor-in-Chief of Who, What Why and publisher of the "Going Deep" newsletter where he recently described Elon Musk as "Chaos Agent #1". (Don't tell Trump. He might sue for the title!)

"Let's be realistic about what X, formerly known as Twitter, is," Baker argues today. "It is the world's largest public address system ... Essentially, what has happened here is that the P.A. system has been taken over by the school bully. Normally, the school would never allow such a thing. But that's all gone out the window" now that the bully --- one of the richest men in the world --- actually owns the whole school!

We've discussed just some of the disinformation that has been flooding out from Twitter of late, and the increasing danger of disinformation via social media with expert Lee McIntyre in recent weeks. But what, if anything, can --- or even should --- be done about it? There are a lot of tricky Constitutional issues here, at least in the U.S. The EU, on the other hand, has recently begun to crack down on Musk for failing to moderate the increasing tidal wave of disinformation since he purchased Twitter, and the tsunami which has followed in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war.

Aren't our hands largely tied here because of the First Amendment? Says Baker: "I am a person who doesn't just automatically accept any such claims, including those who say we can't fix the Electoral College, we can't do anything about the Constitution. I think all of those things are up for discussion. I am not an expert, but I believe there are ways, if there is a will, that there are forms of regulatory relief, issues about monopoly practices, there are many, many things that could possibly be applied to him. I would like to see a discussion happening now about this."

And so we have such a discussion today. Or begin one. On the possibility of an outside council of news organizations and social media organizers, to develop best practices for social media and content moderation. On the necessity of independent media to counter disinformation both on social media and from governments. And what FDR and JFK had to say when it became clear that the "concentration of wealth and unbridled power, and our society's failure to address the threat that represents to the public interest" needed to be addressed in their times as well...

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Guest: Author, researcher Lee McIntyre; Also: Latest on Israel-Hamas and GOP House debacle; 'New Yorker' confirms GA Sec. of State delayed criminal probe of Team Trump's Coffee County voting system breach...
By Brad Friedman on 10/23/2023 6:46pm PT  

More voices over "the information superhighway" was supposed to make it easier for the public to discern fact from fiction. As discuss on today's BradCast, it seems to have done the exact opposite. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Two hot wars in both Israel and Ukraine, a still-simmering pandemic, a worsening climate crisis, the takeover of Twitter by a disgruntled rightwing billionaire, and a "master propagandist" running again for President of the United States, have all combined into a "perfect storm" of disinformation, my guest today explains.

We're joined by Boston University research fellow and best-selling author LEE MCINTYRE, author of 2018's Post-Truth, 2021's How to Talk to a Science Denier, and the just-published On Disinformation: How to Fight for Truth and Protect Democracy.

He's here today to help us understand the difference between misinformation and disinformation; to discuss which is worse; and what, if anything, can be done about any of it. In short, as he explains, "Misinformation is an accident. Disinformation is a lie." For example, the New York Times' (and others') coverage of the deadly explosion at a hospital in Gaza City last week, which now appears to have been caused by an errant rocket fired by a Palestinian militant group, was misinformation when the Times reported it as having been caused by an Israeli airstrike in the immediate aftermath. The misleading reportage might have originated, however, as disinformation from Hamas sources, whose allegations the Times --- as they finally conceded today --- was not properly vetted before being used to drive traffic to its website.

McIntyre also focuses on the danger that social media sites like Twitter/X now pose to democracy and the world, particularly since its takeover by Elon Musk, his blowing up of the previously helpful blue-check "verified" system which helped users distinguish legitimate sources from fakes, and his removal of most of the company's trust, safety, and information moderation team.

He details how disinformation also serves the dual purpose of not just forwarding false information on any particular issue --- like the war in the Middle East or denial of the efficacy of COVID vaccines, our climate crisis, or democratic elections --- but also collapses trust in all verified information and news sources. "Through polarization and the raising of mistrust and distrust, one message that comes through with disinformation is, 'Maybe we can't even know the truth. How do we know? Is everybody biased?' Because in that situation, you might give up on the idea of truth. That paves the way for authoritarianism."

Among the other points we discuss with McIntyre today...

  • How disinformation is now flourishing under Musk on Twitter/X and at competing sites like Mark Zuckerberg's Threads.
  • How we are all victims of whatever algorithms people like Musk and Zuckerberg may wish to put in place to determine what information we see...and don't.
  • How to walk the difficult line between content moderation and censorship, whether its via mainstream press outlets or social networking sites.
  • How "master propagandist" Donald Trump has created a career and an industry out of disinformation which now threatens the veracity of the 2024 elections.
  • How repetition works for both spreading lies and reporting the truth.
  • How to fight back against our "perfect storm of more disinformation, less content moderation, and fewer safeguards."

"I wrote my book because I want people to understand there's a way to fight back against this," McIntyre tells me. "You don't just have to believe the first media accounts. There's a way to be critical, a way to be skeptical, but also a way to push back against social media, push back against cable news, and even the government, to try to make them better and more responsible in how they fight disinformation."

ALSO TODAY...

  • The latest on the Israel-Hamas war, including the release of two more hostages from Gaza on Monday and the Biden Administration's reported efforts to try and forestall Israel's planned ground invasion of Gaza to allow for the release of hostages and foreign nationals and the delivery of humanitarian aid.
  • The latest on the continuing embarrassment of the GOP U.S. House's failure to elect a Speaker and re-open Congress.
  • The latest in the Georgia RICO case against Trump and his alleged co-conspirators for trying to steal the 2020 election in the Peach State. Following guilty pleas last week by Trump attorneys Sidney Powell and Ken Chesebro, the New Yorker's Charles Betha and Sue Halpern reported on the 400-page Georgia Bureau of Investigations' probe of Team Trump's Coffee County voting system breach. It appears to confirm our repeated reporting over the past year that GA's Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger was instrumental in delaying, if not obstructing, the GBI's criminal investigation of the theft and distribution of Georgia's statewide voting system software [emphasis mine]...
    On January 7, 2021, the day after a right-wing mob stormed the Capitol building, several people paid a visit to the Coffee County elections office. A year and a half later, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation began formally looking into allegations that “computer trespass” had taken place that day. The delay seems to have been due to resistance from the Georgia secretary of state’s office, which, for months, denied that a breach had occurred.

    Whaddaya know?...

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Guest: Dr. Marick Masters of Wayne State University; Also: Twitter/X allowing flood of misinfo, disinfo, propaganda amid Israel-Hamas war...
By Brad Friedman on 10/11/2023 6:21pm PT  

On the heels of last weekend's Hamas attack on Israel and Israel's subsequent retaliation against Gaza, there has been a flood of disinformation about the conflict allowed to circulate on social media. Also on today's BradCast, we take some time to focus on a major victory back home in the ongoing strike by auto workers against Detroit's Big Three. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

FIRST UP, a quick word or two on the landfall of Hurricane Lidia last night on the Pacific Coast of Mexico near the resort of Puerta Vallarta. When we got off air yesterday, the storm had quickly spun up to a Category 3 before ultimately making landfall as a Category 4, with windspeeds topping 140 mph. Happily, it hit in a sparsely populated area, so damage and loss of life, so far, has reportedly been minimal. But the rapid intensification of the storm, and its gaining of strength as it got closer to land is both remarkable and something we have seen much more of in recent years as our climate crisis worsens. Also, the fact that Lidia made landfall on the Pacific Coast of Mexico just one day after another storm, Max, did as well, should similarly be ringing alarm bells.

NEXT, the relentless military response by Israel against Gaza continues in the wake of the unspeakably horrific attack by Hamas on Israel over the weekend. So does a flood of misinformation, disinformation and propaganda on social media sites. Elon Musk's Twitter/X site is particularly horrible in this regard, following his firing of most of the company's content moderation team and its replacement by community volunteers who are, according to an NBC report today, largely being ignored by the company as false and inflammatory content runs wild. AP is helpful today in offering independently verifiable facts to correct the record on a number of viral social media videos and photos purposely doctored to mislead. One, for example, showed a manipulated "order" from President Biden, claiming to send $8 billion in aid to Israel. Another purports to show videos of Russian President Vladimir Putin warning the U.S. to "stay away" from the Israel-Hamas conflict. Both assertions were completely false, but were allowed to remain on Twitter for hours without correction to be seen by millions of users.

THEN, in some brighter news, the United Auto Workers union struck a stunning deal late last week with GM that will allow workers who build batteries for electric vehicles to join the union's master agreement with the company. That, after many thought that an agreement to unionize workers at EV plants would be impossible.

Our guest today is DR. MARICK MASTERS, Professor of Business and Political Science at Wayne State University in Detroit, where he also served as Director of the Labor@Wayne program. He joins us to discuss the big news for workers at battery plants and other successes, so far, by the UAW and its President Shawn Fain during the ongoing, unprecedented strike against all three major U.S. automakers.

Late last week, Masters published an article at The Conversation on "Why the UAW union's tough bargaining strategy is working". He joins us today to discuss the new tactics and strategies employed by union leaders in the growing work stoppage and how it might both lead to success and ultimately be adopted by other union organizers.

On the landmark agreement with GM to include workers making parts for battery electric vehicles in the master union contract, Masters describes the deal as "a monumental achievement on the part of the UAW," adding: "I don't think that anyone, including myself, thought that this was doable. I didn't think that was something that the companies would concede, but GM did."

He cautions, however, that "it remains to be seen whether the two other companies [Ford and Stellantis] will accede to this demand of the union. But I don't think the UAW would sign a tentative agreement with them if they didn't."

Masters breaks down the UAW's so-far successful three-part strategy in the ongoing strike; explains why labor leader Fain is receiving so much support from the public both for his "audacious" demands and style of negotiations; and discusses whether the strategies employed by the auto workers might be applied elsewhere, at both non-union companies like Elon Musk's Tesla and in other industries where workers are finally standing up to management and demanding better pay, benefits and working conditions...

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Also: First 2024 GOP debate takes shape; Majority says Trump should drop out; Fox, Repubs and Fossil Fuel industry turbo-charge EV attacks...
By Brad Friedman on 7/25/2023 6:04pm PT  

As the nation awaits new, almost-certainly coming indictments of the former President at both the federal and state level within the next few days and/or weeks, we were able to catch up on several related and unrelated items on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

Among today's stories...

  • Congrats to AP for coming up with yet another novel way to not report directly on the fact that Donald Trump tried to STEAL the 2020 election! I'm fairly certain theirs is the first reference I've seen over the past two and half years of media trying to avoid the most accurate term for what he did by, in this case, reporting on his efforts to "unravel" his 2020 loss. Really, AP? Unravel?
  • Meanwhile, we've been reporting for well over a year now, in detail, on the dangerous, unlawful, MAGA-led breach of wildly vulnerable statewide voting systems in Coffee County, Georgia beginning the day after the January 6 insurrection in D.C. We've come at it from all angles over that year, and are still digging in to critical, uninvestigated elements of the story --- including the attempts to cover it all up by the County itself and GA's Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger. But I've been asked by a number of readers and listeners of late if I know whether or not Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis is probing that breach --- which could help unravel the 2024 election --- as part of her broad conspiracy investigation into Trump's various attempts to steal the 2020 election in the Peach State. The short answer is "sorta". The Guardian's Hugo Lowell has been reporting of late that "computer trespass", in reference to what Team Trump did in Coffee, is likely to be included among the charges for some named in Willis' "imminent" indictments. (See here today and a few more details four days ago from Lowell here. For more details beyond that, tune in to today's show!)
  • While the odds are getting longer by the day, there is still a chance that Trump will not ultimately be the GOP candidate for President in 2024. I explain why that could still be the case and, with that in mind, which of the many GOP also-rans appear likely to qualify for the first GOP Presidential debate next month in Milwaukee.
  • As to the "imminent" indictments expected from Special Counsel Jack Smith in relation to Trump's attempts to steal the 2020 election before, during and after January 6, 2021, new polling suggests a majority of Americans (if not Republican voters) believe that a third indictment would be a good enough reason for the disgraced former President to drop out of next year's race. Not that he will.
  • While our fossil-fueled climate continues to wreak havoc across the globe this Summer, it seems as if a switch has been flipped in recent days, with Fox "News" and the Republican Party suddenly launching a last-gasp, desperate attempt at preventing the quickly accelerating global transition to clean, Electric Vehicles. Now who could possibly be behind such an effort? We discuss and debunk the everything-old-is-new again attacks on EVs coming from the Fossil Fuel industry's tools on the right.
  • Finally, speaking of climate havoc, Desi Doyen has our latest Green News Report as the Summer of 2023 continues to break records for record-breaking heat, fire and flooding. Oh, and Fox "News" has found their newest dumb thing to pretend to freak about in the bargain: saving money with more efficient water heaters! Sigh...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 5/2/2023 10:57am PT  


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IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Drought in East Africa was caused by man-made climate change; U.S. Supreme Court to hear case challenging federal agency authority to regulate pollution; PLUS: SpaceX grounded in Texas after catastrophic rocket failure damages wildlife reserves... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Global ocean temperatures spike to record levels as El Niño nears; EU adopts "biggest climate protection law of all time"; Farewell Transmission: Texas’ plan to fix its power grid is a disaster; Lack of snow condemns Italy's Po River to a desperately dry summer; GM announces Chevy Bolt is over, long live the Equinox; Flooding on Upper Mississippi River to halt barge traffic for weeks; New York to ban natural gas, including stoves, in new buildings; Deadly Illinois dust storm raises soil questions - is solar the answer?... PLUS: U.S. coal plants cost more money to maintain than to simply replace ... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton joins us for our final show of 2022...
By Brad Friedman on 12/20/2022 6:54pm PT  

Before our Holiday Hiatus, we wrap up the year on today's BradCast with a look both back and forward along with one of our favorite regular guests. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, first up today, I've noticed a number of folks from what I describe as the Left's "Contrarian Industrial Complex" --- comprised of some of the same folks who, like most of the Right, also fell for Trump's cons about Russia, COVID, 2020 election fraud, etc. --- now falling for the many new cons and lies being propagated by Latter Day Trump, Elon Musk, on Twitter.

The continuing public prat falls from the world's previously richest man (at least until he bought Twitter for about $30 billion more than it was worth, began driving it into the ground, along with the stock price of Tesla) are too numerous and ridiculous to detail here tonight. But one of Musk's latest and greatest scams at his social media site since since taking it over and blowing it all up deserves quick notice today. Specifically, the scam that resulted in Musk's temporary "permanent suspension" of a number of top journalists late last week, including recent in-studio BradCast guest, Steve Herman of Voice of America.

As you probably know, those suspensions happened as part of the fallout from what Musk described as a stalker incident that threatened him and/or his family. He blamed it on a Twitter account that tracks the whereabouts of his private jet based on publicly available data. He likened the posting of that information as "assassination coordinates" and then banned journalists from Twitter who had simply reported on his original suspension of the @ElonJet account.

As it turns out, however, Washington Post dug into the story over the weekend to report that the original incident appears to have had absolutely nothing to do with that Twitter account. Two of its journalists, both of whom had also been suspended by Musk, report that the incident between the alleged stalker and a member of Musk's security team actually "took place at a gas station 26 miles from Los Angeles International Airport and 23 hours after the @ElonJet account had last located the jet’s whereabouts."

Moreover, The Guardian reports today that Musk's tweet about the "crazy stalker" who supposedly followed a car carrying one of his children, may have been even more misleading than previously known. According to their report of a statement obtained from the South Pasadena Police Department, "a member of Elon Musk’s security team is currently a suspect in the investigation, not a victim."

The full story --- and its subsequent fallout, including Musk holding a poll on his Twitter account on Sunday in which a majority of users voted for him to step down as Chief Twit --- is sort of the perfectly insane way to end 2022. Whether at the social media site at year's end or in the U.S. House of Representatives next month, when the GOP is set to regain a slim majority, "the inmates have literally taken over the asylum," as our guest notes today.

We're joined for our final show of the year by old friend, award-winning Salon columnist and Hullabaloo's OG blogger HEATHER DIGBY PARTON. She's been with us for post-game analysis following every single one of this year's ten or so hearings held by the bipartisan House Select Committee investigating the January 6th, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and the former President's many failed attempts to steal the 2020 Presidential election from the American people. She joins us once again today for that and more.

Among the topics of today's lively discussion...

  • The House J6 Committee's unprecedented referral of a former U.S. President on four criminal charges, including Insurrection, to the U.S. Dept. of Justice at their final hearing on Monday;
  • The critical importance to the nation of real accountability for Donald Trump;
  • Whether potential criminal charges against him will hurt or help his political fortunes for 2024;
  • The extraordinary success of the House J6 Committee as its mission comes to a close along with this session of Congress;
  • Whether GOP House leader Kevin McCarthy will actually be able to close the deal this time and win the Speakership in 2023 among his fractured caucus (and what may happen if his caucuses asylum inmates have their way);
  • What we should expect from the Democrats' new leader in the House, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries;
  • And how to make any sense at all of Elon Musk and his ever-increasing Twitter madness.

Finally, Desi Doyen delivers what is also our final Green News Report of 2022, with all of the good news and bad (even at holiday time!), that you've come to expect from the nation's preeminent, twice-weekly, six-minute environmental radio news feature.

Please enjoy the show. We'll see you next year. And here's to a happy and healthy holiday season for all and perhaps a less insane 2023...though I wouldn't count on it...

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Guest: Media activist (and Musk's former corporate PR trainer!) 'Spocko'; Also: Oregon Guv commutes all state death sentences; Schumer says ECA reform to be included in lame duck spending bill...
By Brad Friedman on 12/14/2022 6:36pm PT  

So, I've sorta been trying to avoid coverage on The BradCast of the idiocy underway at Twitter following Elon Musk's takeover of the social network for a ridiculous $44 billion six weeks ago. But today, as things are quickly turning much darker and dangerous, we're jumping down the rabbit hole. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

First up, however, two much more encouraging stories from elsewhere. In Oregon, outgoing Democratic Governor Kate Brown, who will be replaced by Democratic Gov.-elect Tina Kotek in January, has commuted the death sentences of every prisoner in the state on death row! There are 17 of them in all. They will now face life without the possibility of parole instead of being murdered by the government. Brown has also ordered the dismantling of the state's execution chamber in hopes of ending the practice for good there, describing the gruesome punishment (correctly) as "both dysfunctional and immoral."

In other encouraging news before decks are shuffled in January following this year's midterm elections, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has announced that the long-overdue Electoral Count Act reform measure (which we discussed on this program in detail back in February), as negotiated over the summer by a bipartisan group of Senators, will be included in the omnibus spending bill that lawmakers are scrambling to adopt this week before the deadline for a government shutdown.

The ECA reform measure, a version of which already passed in the House, would clarify the poorly-written 1887 law regarding procedures for certifying Electoral College votes following Presidential elections. In addition to making clear that a Vice President does not have the power to unilaterally toss out Electoral votes during the joint session of Congress to confirm Electoral College results, the bill would also raise the requirements for lawmakers to challenge slates of Electors and make it more difficult for a state Legislature to simply select different Electors than those chosen by state voters. All of that in response to Donald Trump's various attempts to exploit the original ECA on January 6th, 2021 to steal the 2020 Presidential election.

Hopefully there are enough Republican votes to overcome a filibuster in the Senate, and House Democrats will find the Senate version acceptable during this lame duck period. Otherwise, it'll be next to impossible to adopt ECA reform in advance of the 2024 Presidential election after the GOP takes over the House majority in January.

Then, it's down the Elon Musk Twitter Rabbit Hole, but with an eye toward potential solutions to the increasingly dark chaos he's unleashed since taking over the once-popular social network. While we've largely been trying to ignore the idiocy and hard-right political turn by Musk in his six weeks since taking over Twitter, what has largely been dumb has now arguably turned dangerous.

Over the past week or so, Musk has given a few journalists selective access to internal communications of former Twitter executives, resulting in online stories he refers to as "The Twitter Files". Rightwingers have pretended the published threads somehow confirm some sort of political bias against Donald Trump and fellow political travelers. Trump is pretending they prove that the 2020 election was stolen. They don't. In fact, they largely show Twitter execs wrestling in good faith with difficult internal decisions.

At the same time, Musk has restored previously suspended accounts to many on the far-right, including white supremacists, neo-Nazis, QAnon conspiracists, COVID deniers and 2020 election fraudsters.

More disturbing, however, are Musk's own recent tweets. They've grown darker and increasingly menacing, with attacks on transgender people, the revival of long-debunked COVID conspiracies and false accusations of pedophilia against named Twitter employees. One former top executive was reportedly forced to flee his home this week in response to growing threats. On the same day, Musk suddenly dissolved the company's volunteer Trust and Safety Council, an advisory group which AP describes as "around 100 independent civil, human rights and other organizations that the company formed in 2016 to address hate speech, child exploitation, suicide, self-harm and other problems on the platform."

That's just a taste of how all of this is quickly devolving. We're joined today by longtime media activist and pseudonymous progressive blogger 'SPOCKO', who has some thoughts on how people can push back against all of this. As it turns out, Spocko, who has worked to organize campaigns against a number of Rightwing media outlets and personalities over the past two decades, actually worked directly with Musk before he became unspeakably wealthy with the creation of PayPal.

At the time, Spocko was helping to train high-tech execs on how to speak to media, customers and investors. He shares his thoughts today on what he learned about Musk even back in the 1990s, when he was called in because Musk wouldn't listen to the female communications experts initially hired to help him.

Now, Spocko explains, "the thing we are talking about with Musk is what do you do when somebody has so much money and so much power, and then he gets rid of the checks and balances?" That becomes dangerous, especially for someone like Musk who he describes as a liar who "makes promises that he doesn't keep."

We discuss a number of campaigns --- both potential and underway --- to hold Musk to account for his increasingly threatening behavior, including the use of "free speech" tools that the billionaire claims to believe in (despite evidence showing he actually doesn't) to target advertisers that Twitter relies on to survive as well as companies like Apple, whose app store is critical to that survival, and the potential filing of civil lawsuits to hold Musk to account for defamation. There are also international efforts underway in places like Europe where the EU has informed social media networks that, by law, they must have measures in place to reduce potential harm or face being cut off entirely.

There is lots to dig into on today's program, whether we're happy to dig into it or not...

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Guest: Longtime election expert Eddie Perez of OSET Institute; Also: PA Supremes cause absentee ballot chaos; Judge blocks armed AZ voter intimidation; Rightwing NV hand-counters halted after exposing results...
By Brad Friedman on 11/2/2022 6:39pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we continue to focus on the critical November 8 midterms as we will most likely be doing between now and then and --- given how important and close many key races are expected to be --- probably well beyond Election Day. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

We're joined today by EDDIE PEREZ, who has spent more than 20 years focused on elections in various capacities. He spent some 15 years at the Austin, Texas-based Hart-Intercivic, one of the big three private voting system vendors in the U.S. He moved on to become Global Director of Technology and Standards at the nonpartisan, nonprofit Open Source Election Technology (OSET) Institute before, last year, becoming Twitter's Director of Product Management for Societal Health, where he played a role in fighting against mis- and disinformation at the beleaguered social media site. He left the company recently (before Elon Musk's takeover) and remains a Board Member at OSET.

Perez has been writing, blogging and tweeting of late on what he sees as "manufactured chaos" by Republicans in advance of the 2022 midterms, calling the threat they pose a "a knife at democracy's throat" and charging that the chaos is now "on a collision course" with next week's elections.

He worries and warns, both in his writing and on today's program, of "coordinated attempts to interfere with or potentially overwhelm what can broadly be regarded as normal election administration processes."

As usual, when Perez is kind enough to join us, he (a former voting system vendor) and I (a long time Election Integrity journalist and critic of vulnerable, difficult-to-oversee voting systems) both tussle and find common ground on many of these topics. We also discuss concerns about "manufactured chaos" on Twitter as well, now that Musk has reportedly withdrawn access to content moderation tools previously used by staffers to help curb toxic disinformation.

"It's genuinely not really clear whether Elon Musk fully appreciates the harm that can come from a social media platform, particularly in the realm of elections," Perez frets, adding that "we have seen this spin off in to political violence." He notes "the concerns are very real," but believes the "wheels haven't fallen off Twitter", at least not yet, assuring that there are "still good people there."

He warns, however, "it's a fragile time" and says it's good to have "conversations like this so that we can talk to your listeners about what they should be paying attention to and what they can maybe do to cut through some of the noise."

We discuss examples of chaos that most worry him and how no small part of the lack of confidence Americans now have in our election system may actually be due to the way voting system vendors and election officials have spent years preventing oversight by the public. Of course, much of it is due to Donald Trump's lies about the 2020 election. But Perez concedes that insiders, in fact, now pose a unique threat to democracy, as demonstrated by GOP officials facilitating the breach of voting system hardware and software in several different states and releasing its proprietary software to potentially nefarious individuals. Can that previously secret code now be used to undermine those systems next week? If so, how so?

"It has certainly not helped public trust in the machinery of democracy that voting technology is limited to as few companies as it is," Perez concedes, citing the proprietary software now used to run elections and tally votes in almost every jurisdiction in the country. "There is no doubt that having that whole ecosystem --- that can fairly be called a 'black box' --- is not helping. It is a kind of tinder box and has turned into a vacuum of information that a lot of conspiracy theorists have been happy to fill."

"On something as essential as the legitimacy of the outcomes in our public elections --- which, again, involves process and involves voting technology --- we can never ever discount the importance of transparency and accountability," he tells me, citing some of my own advocacy and criticism of voting systems and vendors over the years. "In that sense, I don't think it's unreasonable for some people to say that was a collective failure and, yes, that has contributed to us having a lot of the challenges that we're in today."

Of course, we also discuss what Americans can do now --- from voters to election officials to journalists --- to gird for the chaos that is almost certain to come and how best to defend against it.

Also today, several recent legal rulings in response to an explosion of election law challenges manufacturing more chaos around the 2022 elections...

  • Our corrupt U.S. Supreme Court, along with the unexpected death of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's Chief Justice, allows Republicans to obtain a ruling that may allow them to reject thousands of completely legitimate absentee ballots across the Keystone State, due to missing or incorrect dates written on their outer envelopes.
  • A Trump-appointed federal judge in Arizona issues a ruling [PDF] to block voter intimidation near absentee ballot drop boxes, where masked rightwingers, toting guns and clad in tactical gear, have been menacing and photographing voters dropping of their ballots.
  • Nevada's Sec. of State shuts down a slapdash, nascent rightwing effort in Nye County to hand-count early and absentee ballots after the hand-counters were said to be revealing results to the public during their tally in defiance of a state Supreme Court order. Thankfully, given the very few ballots they were able to count before being shut down (just 50 on their first day, in a County with some 30,000 voters), the damage was contained. But expect more such "manufactured chaos" between now and next Tuesday and, almost certainly, well beyond...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 9/20/2022 11:00am PT  


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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...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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