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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, November 28, 2022
Sunday 'Once More Unto the Breach' Toons
And here we go again...into PDiddie's latest post-Turkey toon collection...
Turkey Toons
Gobble gobble! Our thanks to the one and only Pdidddie for a special holiday collection of toons to help you burn off a few calories!...
Debating the Merits of Garland's New Special Counsel: 'BradCast' 11/21/22
Guests: Former DoJ prosecutor Randall D. Eliason of GWU, Const'l law expert John Bonifaz of FSFP; Also: Does the Constitution disqualify insurrectionist Trump from 2024?...
Sunday 'Ready or Not' Toons
PDiddie's latest collection of the past week's most gut-busting political toons...
Now Back to the Quest for Trump Accountability, Still in Progress: 'BradCast' 11/17/22
Guest: Allison Gill of 'Mueller, She Wrote'; Also: Pelosi leaves Dem leadership; GOP secures House majority; Bass wins L.A. Mayor...
'Green News Report' 11/17/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Crunch time for COP27 climate agreement; NASA says sea levels to rise a foot by 2050; Trump's 2024 announcement climate lies; PLUS: Climate disinfo surging again...
Recent GNRs: 11/15/22 - 11/10/22 - Archives...
2022 GOP Political Fallout, Blame, Circus Begins: 'BradCast' 11/16/22
Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Trump's running again; House, Senate GOP leadership chaos; MS moves to hand-marked paper ballots...
'Green News Report' 11/15/22
Biden pledges leadership, funding at U.N. climate summit; U.S. and China resume climate talks; Costly Nicole; PLUS: Dems Sen. majority to hold line on climate policy...
Sunday 'Red Wave' Toons
Surf the wave! It's Pdiddie's first post-midterms collection of the week's best political toons!...
The Guy Whose Data Analysis Was Right on the Election on Why Media Got It So Wrong (Again): 'BradCast' 11/11/22
Guest: TargetSmart's Tom Bonier; 'Red wave' buffoonery; Latest results from AZ, NV...
It's the Gerrymandering (and Corrupted Courts), Stupid: 'BradCast' 11/10/22
Guest: Redistricting expert, author David Daley; Also: How Fox 'News' dupes followers via smartphone; Latest Sen, House, Guv results...
'Green News Report' 11/10/22
Failed 'red wave' is good news for the climate; New reports warn of skyrocketing methane levels; PLUS: Mixed results for state environmental ballot propositions...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
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...


Guest: Political scientist David Faris; Also: Finland, Sweden may join NATO in 'weeks'; Listeners on Trump corruption, Thomas impeachment...
By Brad Friedman on 4/13/2022 7:04pm PT  

We repeatedly advised, back in 2016, that voters should ignore the so-called Conventional Wisdom heard from so-called "experts" and TV pundits at the time who insisted, over and again, there was no way Donald Trump could ever become President. Today on The BradCast we've got many more such reasons why Americans should similarly ignore Conventional Wisdom in these times which have proven to be anything but conventional. [Audio link to full story is posted below this summary..]

First, a little over a month ago, the Conventional Wisdom was that Russia's powerful military would quickly take over Ukraine within days, that NATO would likely have trouble uniting in their response, and that the entire organization itself could be on precarious grounds. Not only did all of that Conventional Wisdom prove to be wrong, but on Wednesday, Finland and Sweden, which have remained neutral for decades (if not centuries, in Sweden's case) announced they are very seriously considering joining the Western military alliance, perhaps as soon as in the coming weeks, after witnessing what happened to Ukraine. Yes, contrary to Conventional Wisdom, NATO may end up stronger and even larger than it has been in years.

In other Conventional Wisdom worth ignoring today, we are being told that Democrats are going to take a shellacking in this November's elections and are likely to lose their majorities in both the U.S. House and Senate in the bargain. Conventional Wisdom has it that the party in power before the midterms, especially with an unpopular President in the White House, pays a big price in those election years. Of course, that may well prove to be the case. But, as noted, these are not conventional times. Moreover, this year's elections are far more than a contest between Democrats and Republicans. They are no less than a contest between Democracy and Authoritarianism.

We're joined today by Roosevelt University political scientist DAVID FARIS, author of It's Time to Fight Dirty: How Democrats Can Build a Lasting Majority in American Politics and The Kids Are All Left: How Young Voters Will Unite America.

He recently penned a column at The Week, where he is a regular contributor, headlined "Democrats could still win in November. No, really." Really? Yes, really. Faris joins us to discuss how he believes it's still possible that Democratic candidates and President Biden can still take action to, at the very least, hold on to the U.S. Senate this fall and why, as he notes in the conclusion of his article, "it is still possible to squint and see a winning environment for Democrats this November."

His recommendations include, among other things we discuss today, Biden's use of his executive power to exercise the Defense Production Act; to take on corporate price-gouging and monopolies; and to combat Big Oil profiteering. Next, he explains how Democrats must turn the Right's idiotic (if effective) culture war --- banning books, threatening teachers who discuss race and gender, making abortion illegal --- against them, by boldly and aggressively taking on "radical Republican authoritarianism". And, yes, Dems need to loudly describe it as such.

"The stakes of these midterm elections are extraordinarily high," Faris explains, "because the Republican Party is like a proto-authoritarian cult. And every time that they are up for power, it could be the last free election that we have, as we currently understand them. And as long as that iteration of the Republican Party is what it is, every single national election that we hold here in the United States will have extraordinarily high stakes, because the Republicans are telling us exactly what they plan to do with their power."

"What we have to do is go on the offensive on some of these things. We have to identify the pieces of these culture war items, the panic of the day, most of which is not popular at all. The public does not support silencing public school teachers. People like teachers. The public does not support NOT teaching about slavery. The public does not support book banning."

"What's happening in Republican states is a comprehensive assault on human liberty," he argues. "These laws where you have people informing on one another --- cut an ad with what they did in East Germany. They had the Stasi, had people turn on each other and turn each other in. That's what this stuff is. It's authoritarian attempts to insinuate the Republican Party's priorities into our private lives and into our relationships with our fellow citizens, all in the service of creating this authoritarian dystopia where women are deprived of their rights and LGBTQ people are put back into their place."

He goes on to note that Dems may get some help from the Supreme Court between now and November, as the GOP's stolen and packed SCOTUS majority appears ready to turn back the clock on reproductive rights. "It will be a dark day in the United States when I think the Supreme Court overturns 'Roe v. Wade' sometime this summer. And this is a terrible tragedy that will impact the lives of many millions of women. It's just the first step in a path to gender tyranny, gender apartheid. It's a dark vision that they have for this country. But it could scramble the whole political landscape in this country in ways that we simply cannot anticipate right now."

The alternative to Dems shaking of their malaise and going on the bold offensive is detailed in Faris' more recent piece at The Week, headlined "Countdown to the Democrats' doomsday." That one persuasively explains how, by 2024, Republicans could end up winning a majority trifecta in D.C., with control of the White House, House of Representatives and, yes, even a filibuster-proof majority in the U.S. Senate.

So, yeah. It's time to ignore the Conventional Wisdom and get busy to help save this country and democracy itself. The alternative should be too grim by now to even contemplate. (Or, it would be, if the progressive side of the aisle had a media machine even close to what now exists on the Right.)

Finally, some listener mail (we got a lot of it!) in response to Monday's show with The Nation's John Nichols, in which we discussed accountability for the Trump Crime Family and the need to impeach the corrupt far-right active Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Brooklyn subway shooting; NY Lt. Gov. indicted; What you don't know about inflation; Biden taps ethanol to further lower gas prices...
By Brad Friedman on 4/12/2022 7:22pm PT  

We've got a very busy and eclectic BradCast for you today. For good or ill. You'll decide. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

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

  • Another mass shooting today, this time in a crowded subway train in Brooklyn. At least 10 were shot and 17 injured. Reportedly, however, even with 5 victims said to be in critical condition, authorities say none of the injuries are life-threatening. The gunman, wearing a gasmask and releasing smoke bombs to add to the nightmarish chaos, appears to have used a semi-automatic handgun with several large magazines and was only stopped, after at least 33 shots, when one of the cartridges is believed to have jammed. The suspect was still on the run as of airtime.
  • Also in New York, recently-minted Democratic Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin was arrested and indicted on several federal felony charges related to bribery, fraud and falsification of records on Tuesday, in an alleged scheme during his time as a state Senator involving campaign payoffs from a real estate developer (who was previously arrested, but is not Donald Trump). Among the records Benjamin is said to have falsified are the vetting documents used by Gov. Kathy Hochul when selecting him for the job of Lt. Gov. after she ascended from that job in the wake of the resignation of the previous Democratic Governor, the scandal-plagued Andrew Cuomo. Benjamin resigned late today. But getting him off the June primary ballot, where he was set to run for election against two other Democrats, is a different matter.
  • You may have heard today via screaming headlines that new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on finds inflation in March was at 8.5% over the past year. It is the highest rate since December of 1981 when that failed, one-term President Ronald Reagan was in the final month of his first year in office. There's probably a bunch of other stuff you haven't heard today beyond the screaming "Inflation hits 40-year high!" headlines from our corporate media. We help you understand some of that stuff.
  • President Joe Biden's recent action to release a million barrels of oil a day, for the next six months from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve immediately helped to lower gas prices at the pump. They've been falling pretty much every day since that unprecedented move, though they remain high thanks to Russia's war in Ukraine and the oil industry's continued profiteering. Today, in a bid to further lower gas prices, Biden announced a plan to waive the ban on summer use of E15 gasoline, which contains a 15% ethanol blend. Desi Doyen helps us make sense of that news and why it is both good and bad.
  • Last week, following a months-long investigation, Arizona's very MAGA, vote-suppressing Attorney General Mark Brnovich, finally released a report [PDF] on his probe of allegations of fraud in Maricopa County (Phoenix)'s 2020 Presidential election. That probe was requested by the very MAGA state Senate after the exceedingly MAGA Cyber Ninjas failed to find any evidence of fraud in their own months-long so-called "audit" in the state's largest county, where Joe Biden won by some 45,000 votes, delivering the state to a Democrat for the first time in decades.

    As it turns out, Brnovich failed to uncover any evidence of fraud or any other crimes, though he did pretend to find "serious vulnerabilities" in the County's elections procedures. But those "serious vulnerabilities", according to the Chair of the County's Republican Board of Supervisors, the County's Republican Controller (its chief election official, who won his position during the same 2020 election), the County's former Democratic Controller (who lost that year), and the state's Democratic Sec. of State are all calling out Brnovich for a BS report that fails to find any evidence of any problems in the election at all, even while using words that help Fox "News" and the losing former President and all his MAGA friends pretend that he did. (Brnovich is in a contested primary race for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination, after all.)

    We let you know what Brnovich actually found (and didn't), even if none of it prevented the MAGA state Senate President who helped kick off all this madness from from claiming the report finds "fraud" (it doesn't) or one of the most rightwing MAGA state Senators from taking to her Twitter account in response to the report to call it "flaccid" and to insist that "WE WANT ARRESTS NOW." --- For what exactly? That part remains unclear. It may take a few more months or years and more millions of dollars of tax-payer money spent by "conservatives" in the state to get to the bottom of it.

  • Finally, Desi Doyen brings our latest Green News Report with some troubling new news on methane and climate change, as well as microplastics now being found in human blood and lungs. But she's got some better news on new mileage standards from Biden's Dept. of Transportation and on the electrification of tens of thousands of government vehicles and school buses in Los Angeles and Boston...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: John Nichols of The Nation; Also: State Dept. has no records of gifts to Trump; Don Jr. plotted to steal 2020 two days after the election...
By Brad Friedman on 4/11/2022 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The corruption never ends and will only get far worse until someone finally faces accountability. Whether it's Donald Trump for his unspeakable corruption and attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election or Justice Clarence Thomas, whose corruption has been well-documented for decades now, as he appears to have joined the effort to help Trump steal that election --- or, at the very least, avoid accountability for trying. Thomas needs to be impeached, argues our guest today, or we might as well put our Constitution "through the shredder." [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

As to Trump's unspeakable corruption, yes, we are still learning about much more of it. As TPM reported over the weekend, apparently the State Department is now reporting they have no records of gifts given to Trump (or Vice President Mike Pence and other Administration members) by foreign leaders during Trump's final year in office. Worse, according to the State Dept.'s report, the Office of the Chief of Protocol's Gift Unit reports no records of any gifts at all from January 20, 2017 (the day Trump took office) until the end of his first failed term in January of 2020. No record of what the President of the United States received from Foreign Leaders?! Um, that's not good.

We've come to expect this kind of grotesque corruption from Trump and his family members. So, it shouldn't come as a surprise to learn over the weekend, as we did via CNN, that Don Jr. was texting then White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows just two days after Election Day in November of 2020 --- before the race had even been called or all of its votes tallied --- to detail one way after another that the election could and should be stolen for his father. "We control them all," Don Jr. told Meadows, while describing the way that state legislatures or Congress, or even the judiciary could help steal the election before Team Trump even knew for certain they had lost. "We have operational control Total leverage....POTUS must start 2nd term now," Trump Sr.'s corrupt son instructed the White House Chief of Staff on November 5th, 2020, according to messages obtained by the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection.

It's troubling enough that the man and his party who are planning to steal the 2024 election, if necessary, have yet to be held to account. It is no less troubling that at least one member of the U.S. Supreme Court is corrupt enough to help them. Outrage over Ginni Thomas, the far-right activist wife of far-right activist Justice Clarence Thomas, having texted Meadows dozens of times after the election, encouraging the Administration to steal the election for Trump, faded quickly after it was initially reported just over two weeks ago by the Washington Post's Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. Sure, there is a war in Europe and Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars, but a corrupt sitting Supreme Court Justice --- willing to be the lone dissenting vote to potentially keep his own wife's text messages out of the hands of House J6 Committee is impeachment-worthy, according to my guest today, JOHN NICHOLS, National Affairs Correspondent for The Nation.

The news about corruption of Clarence and Ginni is just the latest apparent law-breaking by the couple. We've been reporting on it for more than a decade. So has Nichols, who tells me he reported on conflicts of interest regarding Ginni's far-right activism 22 years ago. "Ginni Thomas was already working with the Bush-Cheney Administration at the same time that Clarence Thomas joined in that closely divided decision to close down [the 2000 Presidential] recount," he notes today. "So this woman has a quarter century of engagement in politics in a way that should not only have led to recusals by her husband, but ultimately, when he didn't recuse, should have led to his removal from the Supreme Court."

But enough is enough. And it would nice if both the corporate media (which has largely ignored this matter) and elected Democrats (who have tepidly called for Thomas to recuse himself from 2020-related cases) starting doing something about it. "We have reached that point," Nichols argues, when asked if Justice Thomas needs to be held to account for "seri­ous ethical or crim­inal miscon­duct" after the House Select Committee gathered evidence of his wife's texts to the White House Chief of Staff. "Trump tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election in what can accurately be referred to only as a coup attempt. And he sought to hold office illegally. That is a coup. When you are investigating something of that consequence, if there is even the slightest possibility that a member of the U.S. Supreme Court used his position to try to undermine or limit that investigation --- because his wife was a co-conspirator, because his political allies were involved in the issue --- that has to be investigated. It is best investigated, in my opinion, in an impeachment inquiry."

"We're having a discussion about recusal at this point for Clarence Thomas? This is absurd!," Nichols insists. "This guy isn't going to recuse. He's made it absolutely clear. This is like saying, 'At the very least, Jesse James should recuse himself from robbing banks.' The crime has already been committed! The notion that we would now say 'Oh, he should recuse himself going forward' doesn't get to the heart of the matter, and it doesn't get to the reality. The only option we have in this case is impeachment."

But, of course, even if Democrats in the House stepped up to do the right thing, Mitch McConnell and the Republicans would never remove Thomas from the High Court, right? "For those who say, 'Oh, we can't do that because Mitch McConnell might not let us,' then you might as well take the Constitution out of the National Archives and put it through the shredder. What's the point of having an impeachment power if you don't use it in a moment like this?"

Good argument. And we've got much more along those lines with Nichols today, including some of his thoughts on the huge hole left behind in the progressive media following last week's tragic loss of longtime media critic Eric Boehlert, and on whether he believes Attorney Merrick Garland and the DoJ are taking the appropriate steps to hold Trump and the rest of his cabal to account for their part in the insurrection (as discussed last Thursday on this show with former federal prosecutor Randall Eliason) and the broader attempt to steal a Presidential election before our very eyes...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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The BRAD BLOG, 'BradCast' and nation have lost a friend and champion...
By Brad Friedman on 4/6/2022 6:01pm PT  

Very shortly before airtime today, we learned that our friend, longtime progressive media critic and frequent guest on The BradCast, ERIC BOEHLERT, was killed earlier this week at the age of 57, in a tragic bicycling accident when he was hit by a commuter train in Montclair, New Jersey. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

We were, and are, a bit shook up today. We had a very different program planned, but decided, at the very last minute, with the wind knocked out of us by the news, to change today's show into a tribute to Eric. He last appeared on this show on January 19th of this year, to discuss the one-year anniversary of President Biden's inauguration and the disturbing difference in the way the corporate media covers his Presidency, versus the guy in office before him. We decided to share that interview again on today's program.

Eric's influence, fighting spirit and sense of fair play has long echoed on both this program and at The BRAD BLOG over many years. He was an indefatigable champion for the truth and frequently supportive of our work, particularly during as we revealed the truth about Breitbart/O'Keefe "ACORN Pimp" hoax and called on the duped mainstream media to issue corrections to dozens of inaccurate stories. In the nearly two decades we've known, worked with, and admired him, he has never stopped holding feet to the fire, particularly those of liars on the right and the supposedly non-right corporate media which, as he long documented, have consistently failed in their critical mission over those critical decades.

His legacy will largely speak for itself --- at Salon, Media Matters, Daily Kos and his latest venture, the Press Run newsletter, "an unfiltered, passionate, and proudly progressive critique of the political press in the age of Trump," and, of course, in his many media appearances, including the dozens of times he's joined us on air over the years. His Twitter feed, I'd be remiss without mentioning, was always a must-follow, particularly as he took on the horrible Andrew Breitbart back in the day.

Eric began as a music critic at Billboard and Rolling Stone before turning to media analysis. He also published two books, Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush and Bloggers On the Bus: How The Internet Changed Politics and the Press.

We discuss what happened --- and the outpouring of warm thoughts shared in his memory this afternoon by many in the media, and even folks like Hillary Clinton and Jon Stewart --- on today's show, along with his most recent and, sadly, final appearance on this program.

We also cover a few other things, including some accountability for a very Trumpy attorney who is (or was) representing a whole bunch of January 6th conspirators until he was disbarred late last week, and the 8-hour appearance on Tuesday by Ivanka Trump before the House Select Committee investigating Donald Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election. But really, today's show is mostly in tribute and in memory of Eric, who, in addition to a much better informed public, leaves behind his wife Tracy Breslin and two children, Jane and Ben.

As Eric always noted at the top of his Press Run newsletters: "Stay Healthy. Be Kind."

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Lowest jobless numbers since 1969; MTG faces ballot disqualification in GA; Trump dumps Brooks, Brooks turns on seditionist Trump; Ginni Thomas texted Meadows to steal 2020; And, again, where is Clarence?
By Brad Friedman on 3/24/2022 6:57pm PT  

There's plenty of bad news out there. But on today's BradCast, we've got plenty of good news amid the bad...some of which is interrupted by breaking, bizarre, though hardly surprising news (at least when it comes to the corrupt Clarence and Ginni Thomas!) [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Almost all of these stories deserve more attention than they've been getting. But, because they tend to amount to good news and/or news that may help Dems and/or hurt Republicans, you haven't heard as much about them as you should from corporate media outlets where bad news leads or on social media, where rightwing outrage is monetized and weaponized. Among our many stories today...

  • According to the Commerce Dept., via Reuters, weekly jobless claims last week hit their lowest level since 1969! Seriously. But who knew? Do you think you might have heard more about that if Trump was President instead of Biden? While stories about inflation tend to dominate headlines, stories about Joe Biden's economy --- firing on all pistons, even amid both inflation and war in Europe --- quickly disappear off the front pages (if they showed up there in the first place.) Little wonder the President's approval ratings remain low, despite a booming economy and huge majorities of Americans (of all parties) supporting his response to Russia's war on Ukraine.
  • Far-right Congressional loon Marjorie Taylor Greene's eligibility to run for re-election is being officially contested today by Georgia voters and the Constitutional law experts at Free Speech for People (FSFP). The non-partisan group previously filed a separate challenge against the Constitutional eligibility of North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn to run in 2022 on the same basis. Greene, like Cawthorn, is accused of violating Section 3 of the 14th Amendment which bars those who have taken a federal oath to defend the Constitution from running again if they have subsequently "shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof." FSFP cites Greene's participation in the January 6, 2021 insurrection, including her pre-Jan 6 video-taped message urging supporters to block the peaceful transfer of power after Biden's 2020 Electoral College victory ("You can't allow it to just transfer power 'peacefully,'") and her charge that Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were "guilty of treason", which she described as "a crime punishable by death". That, before her supporters went on to attack the U.S. Capitol to block the peaceful transfer of power while calling for death of Pelosi. Under Georgia law, MTG will now have the burden of proving she isn't an insurrectionist, and FSFP will be able to depose her under oath in the process. Moreover, FSFP Co-Founder and President John Bonifaz tells The BRAD BLOG today: "There will be more such challenges to be filed this year."
  • Speaking of insurrectionists, one of Trump's favorite ones just got dumped by him. Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, running to win the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in the state, was unendorsed by Trump on Wednesday. Brooks, a top "Stop the Stealer", spoke at Trump's January 6th Insurrection Day rally near the White House. But, after urging the MAGA mob last year to turn their disappointment about 2020 into efforts to win in 2022 and 2024, Trump pretended he didn't like Brooks anymore and unendorsed him yesterday. The real reason he dumped him, of course, is because Brooks is currently running third in the GOP primary and Trump doesn't want to be seen as backing yet another loser. But in response to getting dumped, Brooks put out an extraordinary statement last night claiming Trump asked him to "rescind the 2020 elections, immediately remove Joe Biden from the White House, immediately put President Trump back in the White House, and hold a new special election for the presidency." Brooks stood by the claim during a local TV interview last night, saying that Trump asked him repeatedly to remove Biden and restore Trump, even recently. TPM's Josh Marshall describes it as "definitional sedition."
  • Then, as we did yesterday, we have to ask again: Where is Clarence Thomas? After being admitted to the hospital last Friday with an "infection" and "flu-like symptoms", the Supreme Court finally disclosed the hospitalization of the 73-year old Justice on Sunday, announcing "his symptoms are abating" after intravenous antibiotic treatment and that he'll be released "in a day or two". The Court has had no update since Sunday. Today, four days later, The Hill reports a friend says Thomas is "resting" and "going to be just fine", but won't disclose whether he's "resting" in the hospital or at home, for some reason. Why not? We discuss.
  • And, speaking of the apparently ailing and clearly corrupt Clarence Thomas, his far-right activist wife Ginni Thomas --- according to breaking news this afternoon from Bob Woodward and Robert Costa at Washington Post --- sent dozens of insane text messages to then White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, encouraging him to somehow steal the 2020 election in November of that year. The Thomases have long been corrupt, but this incident may take the cake. She was encouraging the Trump White House to find ways to overturn the results of a Presidential election while her husband was often the lone vote at SCOTUS in favor of absurd MAGA lawsuits challenging the election. He even voted in favor of challenges regarding the January 6 House Select Committee's subpoenas. Ya know, subpoenas that resulted in Meadows turning over text messages from his wife Ginni Thomas! This is a remarkable amount of corruption inside of corruption inside of corruption. Is it finally time to impeach Clarence Thomas? (If he is ever released from the hospital, in any event.)
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, in which --- aside from more climate-fueled disasters in Texas and Louisiana, and nuclear concerns rising at Chernobyl --- she manages to find a whole bunch of surprising silver linings in the response to Putin's war on Ukraine, which is resulting in Europe speeding up their move away from fossil fuels...

If the news of late has ya down, today's show may offer a brief respite. You're welcome! (Yeah, we needed it too!)

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Guest: Russia-Ukraine author, expert Anatol Leiven of the Quincy Inst. for Responsible Statecraft; Also: Huge new jobs numbers for February as Biden economic boom continues, despite media failure in reporting it...
By Brad Friedman on 3/4/2022 6:44pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We'll leave the drumbeat of military experts and 24-hour, round-the-clock war porn to the cable news nets, and focus instead today on a path to peace, with a longtime expert on the complicated relationship between Ukraine and Russia. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

FIRST UP, however, back here in the U.S., more astoundingly good new jobs numbers were reported by the Labor Department. Some 678,000 new jobs were created last month, and revisions to monthly numbers for December and January add another 100,000 to the already record numbers. Also, the unemployment rate fell even further to a rate of 3.8%, not seen since before the pandemic. Much of that, according to experts, is thanks to Biden and the Democrats American Rescue Plan, passed without any Republican support early last year.

But even while Biden's economy continues to boom with a record 6.6 million new jobs created over the past year --- the most for any single year since record-keeping on this began in the 1930s --- and the highest growth in GDP since the 1980s, Americans appear completely clueless about these facts. Former WaPo columnist, Dan Froomkin, now author of the Press Watch newsletter, explains today why he blames the media for their dismal failures in properly educating the electorate on the basic, cold, hard facts. "When the public thinks up is down," he argues, "it’s time to rethink coverage."

NEXT, regrettably if necessarily, it's back to Russia's horrific, unprovoked war on Ukraine, after a harrowing night during which the largest nuclear power plant in Europe came under attack by Putin's forces, setting part of it ablaze for a time and rattling a lot of nerves in the bargain, and not just in Ukraine.

We're joined today from Great Britain by ANATOL LIEVEN, a former war correspondent in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Chechnya and other former Soviet nations. Lieven has served as a professor in Qatar and at the War Studies Dept. at King's College London and has written a number of books about Ukraine and Russia and other Eastern European conflicts following the fall of the USSR. He is now a Senior Research Fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft where, on Thursday, he penned a quite welcome article on "How to get to a place of peace for Ukraine".

Lieven shares his deep expertise not only on that roadmap, and the hard, but necessary choices it'll require from Ukraine, Russia, the U.S., the EU and NATO, but also much more on how we got to this horrific place; what Putin really wants both on a macro historic level and out of this current conflict; what could happen if peace is not achieved; how this war is being understood by both average Russians, amid heavy-handed media restrictions, and those close to Putin; and whether Putin should be taken seriously regarding his recent, repeated, barely veiled threats of unleashing his nuclear arsenal.

We cover quite a bit of ground in this conversation, all of which is well worth tuning in for. But, just to cover a few of the key points from Lieven today...

On whether Putin is really hoping to brush back NATO's eastward expansion following the end of the Cold War or whether his attack on Ukraine is an attempt to prevent the threat posed by a prosperous, Western-leaning, market-based democracy in a neighboring, former Soviet county, Lieven believes it's the former. He explains that while Putin has been previously willing to accept some NATO expansion, he draws the line at border countries like Georgia and Ukraine, as would the U.S. if, for example, Mexico entered a military alliance with China.

"I think the reason so many people in America, in the West, in NATO" are now claiming this is about preventing a blossoming democracy on Russia's western border "is, basically, to cover their own tracks. They were warned, repeatedly, that this was going to lead to war. They didn't want to listen. And now, they're saying that it wasn't about NATO expansion because they don't want to acknowledge they were warned that this would lead to crisis," Lieven argues. "That doesn't, of course, excuse Putin's invasion. We don't know what's going on in Putin's head, but we do know what the Russians have said repeatedly for almost thirty years."

On Putin's claim that the invasion was meant to end an ongoing "genocide" and to "demilitarize and denazify Ukraine," Lieven scoffs, describing some of the realities about the limited reach of the ultra-nationalist Azov Movement in Ukraine. "This is absolutely grotesque Russian propaganda, colossally exaggerated," he says, adding that the accusation about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is Jewish and lost family members to the Nazis during WWII "is unspeakably mendacious and grotesque. This is not Nazi-ism and this is not genocide. That is a lie on a truly monstrous scale by Putin."

As to his proposed plan for peace, and the difficult choices that will come with it for many in the West, as he detailed yesterday at the Quincy Institute, it largely comes down to an agreement where Ukraine declares neutrality (not unlike Austria did in the 1950s), which means they won't join NATO, but they also won't join an alliance with the eastern military bloc either; ceding Crimea and the eastern Donbass regions held by Russia-backed separatists before the war to the Russians (though internationally-observed referendums should be held by the citizens of each region and territory gained during the current crisis would be returned to Ukraine), and all of the Western sanctions on Russia, both before and during the war would be lifted. There is, of course, a bit more to it, but that seems to be the general contours.

I ask if Putin would accept such an agreement and whether it would be seen as rewarding him for his aggression. "If what you really care about is ending the war and saving the lives of Ukrainians, and eliminating the threat of nuclear annihilation, people need to say just what is wrong with an agreement along these lines," Lieven answers. "If this were offered and the Russians then refused it, and introduced new demands, like replacing the Ukrainian government, then we would know that Putin's ambitions went much further. And that, of course, would be totally illegitimate and a peace agreement would be impossible. But we don't know that until that has been offered."

"In international affairs, alas, you always have to mix some combination of respect for international law with respect for realities on the ground if you're not prepared to fight," he tells me. Or, as he quotes Robert A. Lovett, U.S. Defense Secretary from 1951 to 1953, at the beginning of his article laying out this roadmap: "Forget the cheese --- let's get out of the trap."

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Also: Cold soup, dumb members of Congress; GOP flipping Dem voter registrations to Repub in FL; Media and Merrick Garland ill-serving the American people and the rule of law...
By Brad Friedman on 2/10/2022 6:56pm PT  

A helpful reminder or two on today's BradCast. Those haunting, thundering, Third Reich-style Trump campaign rally chants of "LOCK HER UP!" back i 2016 were in response to his claims that Hillary Clinton had criminally mishandled classified information in her emails while serving as Secretary of State. Despite months of very public investigation by the Dept. of Justice at the time --- in violation of their own guidelines --- she was never charged with anything or found to have violated the law. But that's what the MAGA Mob was bellowing about way back then, just in case you may have forgotten. That's just part of, but at the heart of, what I've got a bit of a rant about on today's program. [Audio link to the full show is posted below this summary.]

Before we get there, an item or two to laugh whole-heartedly about. Consider it a cold appetizer. Super-genius Georgia GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene believes Nancy Pelosi is unleashing her "gazpacho police" on Republican members of Congress. Which, as the laughter dies down, we're reminded of the time super-genius Texas GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert accused then Attorney General Eric Holder in 2013 of "casting aspersions on [his] asparagus."

With all of the Republican food-related malapropisms aside, it's back to still more stark examples of how Republicans and Democrats are treated differently by both the corporate media and law enforcement. One swell new example comes out of Florida this week, where it appears that the state Republican Party is sending operatives door-to-door to low-income buildings and targeting senior citizens in Miami-Dade County to sign applications for new voter IDs. Even when the elderly citizens don't bite, apparently, thousands of them may be receiving new voter IDs in the mail with their party affiliation changed from Democratic (or independent) to Republican.

Haven't heard about that story? You would have --- in spades --- had the party affiliations in the story been reversed. It would have been covered virtually wall-to-wall by national media by now, and Republicans would have been demanding prosecutions and legislation in Congress to prevent this kind of outrage from happening again. But, it was Republicans doing the criming with Dems affected by it, so...ya know...

That disparity also permeates the corporate media coverage of just the latest collection of boxes of evidence of criminal felonies committed by our former President. And, by way of help for many in the corporate media, Merriam-Webster offers these two top definitions for the word "steal": "1 - to take (something that does not belong to you) in a way that is wrong or illegal. 2 - to take (something that you are not supposed to have) without asking for permission."

The word "steal" should be particularly useful this week, in their coverage of the growing mountain of evidence that demonstrates, in no uncertain terms, that Trump tried, but failed, to STEAL the 2020 Presidential election. Over and over again.

And, as we've been learning this week, he also STOLE boxes and boxes of documents --- some reportedly "clearly marked" as "classified" and "top secret" --- when he left the White House more than a year ago. The theft is in clear violation of the Watergate-era Presidential Records Act barring the destruction, alteration or theft of such documents. Incredibly, the National Archives is said to have been negotiating for "several months" to get the stolen documents and other items back, and even now, the Archives doesn't know whether they've received everything that Trump stole when he was booted from office.

Of course, we knew he repeatedly broke the Presidential Records Act long ago. But as more reporting this week confirmed, Trump frequently destroyed Presidential records by tearing them up, despite having been "counseled by at least two chiefs of staff and the White House counsel to follow the law on preserving documents."

Today's newest report along those lines is that he may even have flushed unknown numbers of "printed pages" down the toilet at the White House, offering a new light on his attempt to order the EPA to change their water regulations in late 2019 because, as he bizarrely asserted at the time: "People are flushing toilets ten times, fifteen times, instead of once." Really? Are they? Or was he?

I''ve got a quite a bit to say about all of this today, impossible to adequately detail in this summary. Suffice to say, as the media twist themselves into pretzels to both report on Trump's crimes and downplay each and every one of them in the very next sentence, the stark difference in how they cover Republicans versus Democrats has never been clearer or more appalling.

Even more appalling, the difference in the way the Dept. of Justice appears to treat Republicans versus Democrats, especially high profile ones. Especially at this precarious moment in American history.

Note to Merrick Garland. Take your pick. There are mountains of evidence that everyone in the country already knows about. But, if a blatant attempt to steal a Presidential election from the American people is just too complicated or large or somehow too political for you to prosecute, the Presidential Records Act is simple. And you've got tons of evidence for that now as well, which everybody also now knows about. Either way, Mr. Garland, it's time to lock him up.

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Guest: Dan Vicuña of Common Cause; Also: More lousy reporting from corporate media on Biden's booming economy...
By Brad Friedman on 2/8/2022 6:40pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: As of this past weekend, the news was much better than expected regarded this decade's round of redistricting around the country. That may have changed in a heartbeat on Monday evening with another horrible "Shadow Docket" ruling from the Republicans' stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, before we get there today, one additional point on a topic discussed in detail on yesterday's show. We noted that the GOP appears to be eating itself alive, with Trump attacking Pence for not helping him steal the 2020 election, Pence (gently, but finally) pushing back at Trump, and the RNC, at its Winter Meeting last week in Utah, voting to censure its own Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kingzinger (R-IL) for daring to join in the probe of the deadly, January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, which the RNC's resolution described as nothing more than "legitimate political discourse".

At the same time, the economy is booming at record numbers under President Biden and Democratic control of Congress. So, given all of that, we asked yesterday why Democrats are thought to be in so much trouble this November? We placed a lot of blame on the corporate media for their often ridiculous, lazy, sometimes out-and-out inaccurate, double-standard coverage of Biden and the Dems. Most notably, as we've been shouting here for months, on the economy, with last year's 6.6 million new jobs simply blowing away all previous Presidents in U.S. history, not to mention the lowest unemployment and highest growth in GDP since the 1980s.

Among the many failures of the corporate media is their reporting on monthly jobs numbers from by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as "disappointing" (including numbers that, when they were even lower under Trump, were described as "robust" or even better). That, as the BLS has, almost every single month for the past year, revised previous monthly new job numbers upward by more than 100,000 and sometimes much much more. Well, the media did it again at the end of last year, when describing "disappointing" new jobs numbers in November and December. Both months, as expected, were revised upward last Friday by BLS, but were largely overlooked by the media. And yet these were no small adjustments!

November's new jobs numbers were adjusted from 199,000 initially to 510,000! And the jobs gain revisions in December went from a "disappointing" 249,000 new jobs to 647,000 — painting a much stronger picture of the labor market than reported over those months last year. If we knew the numbers would be revised upwards last year, with our huge BRAD BLOG World News Headquarters resources, why didn't the corporate media report that appropriately at the time? Of course, they did know, but, for some reason, buried that information along with the record low unemployment numbers and record high GDP growth. Why? Decide as you see fit.

Next, the new decennial round of Congressional redistricting has been looking much better for Democrats (and American Democracy along with them), than previously predicted by experts in the run-up to drawing new maps following the 2020 Census. Last week, Cook Political Report's Dave Wasserman even declared "Dems have taken the lead on" his group's "2022 redistricting scorecard," citing favorable state court rulings and other developments putting Democrats "on track to net 2-3 seats from new maps vs. old ones."

Among the recent new developments, late last week North Carolina's state Supreme Court found that the state's GOP-created Congressional and state legislative maps were partisan gerrymanders in violation of their state Constitution. That ruling followed on a similar one from Ohio's Supreme Court which found the same in the Buckeye State, leading them to order new maps as well. At the same time in New York, one of the few states where Democrats control the process for drawing new maps, three districts were drawn that are likely to flip "red" House seats to "blue" (which has outraged state Republicans, leading them to file a lawsuit against what they see as a "partisan gerrymander" in violation of the state Constitution, despite their party doing the same and much worse in a bunch of states where they control the redistricting process.)

And, all of that followed a recent ruling from a three-judge panel in federal court finding that Alabama Republicans violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act with their new House map that drew six White-majority districts and just one Black-majority district, even though Black voters in Alabama represent 27% of the electorate. The three federal judges --- two of them Trump appointees --- ordered a second Black-majority district to be drawn after a days-long trial, including more than a dozen expert witnesses. The three judges unanimously declared in their "meticulous" 225-page ruling [PDF] that "we do not regard the question ... as a close one.”

Nonetheless, on Monday, in a stunning 5 to 4 ruling on the U.S. Supreme Court's "Shadow Docket", without any oral argument, etc., the rightwingers on the High Court stayed [PDF] the lower court's ruling to allow the unlawful racial gerrymander to remain in place for the 2022 mid-terms and perhaps longer. Even Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the 2013 opinion that gutted the VRA's critical Section 5 preclearance provision, voted with the Court's liberals. But, Roberts' vote was not enough. All of which tees up the Court, as expert fear, to gut Section 2 of the Act as well.

Since the Court's 2013 decision all but killing Section 5 preclearance of new election laws in jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination at the polling place, Republicans have claimed that there was always Section 2 that protected against laws with a discriminatory effect in all 50 states, though only after such laws went into effect. Now, experts worry that a full SCOTUS opinion after a hearing later this year on Alabama's racial gerrymander may result in the Court further chopping away at Section 2.

We're joined by one of those experts today. Common Cause's National Redistricting Manager DAN VICUÑA is here to explain both the good news and, as of Monday, very troubling news on the latest round of redistricting, including what the new SCOTUS ruling is likely to mean moving forward, for Alabama, for other states, for the future of the VRA, and for American Democracy itself.

"I think there is within the conservative majority on the Supreme Court a sort of deep skepticism about the Voting Rights Act, which is one of the most effective pieces of legislation to turn back, fight back against our sordid history of racism," Vicuña explains today. "It's been incredibly effective in giving people of color the opportunity to make their voices heard in elections. I think the conservative majority --- at least some of them --- just don't like it very much." And that could be very bad news for American Democracy indeed.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with a boatload of both good and bad (mostly bad, as usual) news on our ever-worsening climate crisis emergency...

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Pence finally calls out Trump, Trump pushes back, RNC censures two of its own...while economy sizzles, corporate media fail to notice and blame Biden for nation's woes. Callers ring in to explain...
By Brad Friedman on 2/7/2022 6:35pm PT  

The title and sub-title above pretty much say it all about today's BradCast, but for a few specifics. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary]

Before opening up the phone lines to callers today for their thoughts on what the hell is going on that leaves Democrats, not Republicans, in trouble this November, a few of the specific stories we touched on first...

  • BREAKING moments before airtime: SCOTUS blocks recent lower federal court ruling that found Alabama Republicans' new U.S. House maps are an unlawful racial gerrymander under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (the part of the VRA that SCOTUS didn't kill entirely previously.) In a 5 to 4 decision today, with Chief Justice Roberts joining the Dem appointees on the bench, the Court blocked the lower court's order which would have mandated another Black-majority House district in Alabama. Moreover, in deciding to hear the case later this year, the Supremes, many justifiably fear, are now set to kill Section 2 of the landmark Voting Rights Act entirely. More (hopefully) on this on tomorrow's BradCast.
  • Last Friday, former Vice President Mike Pence finally stood up for himself (a little) by declaring during a speech for the rightwing Federalist Society in Florida that "President Trump was wrong" when he claimed that Pence had the Constitutional or statutory power to unilaterally overturned Joe Biden's victory during the final certification of the Electoral College results on January 6th, 2021. (That, after a week of Trump haranguing Pence in a number of statements, with Trump essentially admitting in the bargain that he was trying to steal the 2020 Presidential election.)
  • At the very same time on Friday, at the RNC's Winter Meeting in Utah, Trump's party voted to censure longtime, very conservative Congressmembers Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), for daring to work on the bipartisan Committee investigating the worst, most deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol --- and, arguably, on American Democracy itself --- in the nation's history. The RNC's censure resolution of Cheney and Kinzinger appears to declare that the attack on the Capitol --- which ended up with 9 deaths and injuries to more than 140 law enforcement officials --- was little more than "legitimate political discourse".
  • The censure resolution adopted nearly unanimously by voice vote in Utah was shepherded by RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel. Her uncle, Utah's Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, decried the GOP's attack on Cheney and Kingzinger, tweeting: "Shame falls on a party that would censure persons of conscience, who seek truth in the face of vitriol. Honor attaches to Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for seeking truth even when doing so comes at great personal cost.”
  • And, as if that's not enough madness and dysfunction and disarray inside the once great "Party of Lincoln" on behalf of their scofflaw, twice-impeached, disgraced former President, Washington Post reported on Monday that Donald Trump absconded with boxes and boxes of Presidential Records when he left the White House. That, in strict violation of the Presidential Records Act of 1975, created in the wake of Watergate. The National Archives had to go to Mar-a-Lago in December to try and get the stolen documents --- many of which had been torn up by Trump during his time in office (also in violation of the PRA) --- but did they get them all? And will Trump ever be held accountable for breaking any of the seemingly hundreds of laws he's broken before, during and after his Presidency? Jury is still out. (Actually, no jury has been created nor charges filed at all yet, incredibly enough.)
  • And, all the while, throughout all of that GOP disarray, Joe Biden's economy is booming at record levels. The corporate media, which have been downplaying monthly jobs reports and record low unemployment and record high growth in the GDP over the past year, was forced to begrudgingly concede at least a few of those points on Friday. The new jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found a remarkable 467,000 new jobs were created in December and that previous monthly job reports needed to be revised upward by several hundreds of thousands of new jobs. Not by a little, but by a lot. Last December was revised from 199,000 new jobs to 510,000. And November was adjusted from a 249,000 gain in jobs to an astounding 647,000. Both months saw media report the initial numbers as a "disappointment", despite a year's worth of monthly numbers being revised upward each and every month. In all, as Biden was left to explain himself, a record 6.6 million jobs were added last year. It's never happened before in American history. Also, 2021 saw the largest drop of unemployment ever in a single year; the largest drop in childhood poverty ever in a single year; and the largest drop in unemployment in 40 years. Sounds terrible!
  • So, with all of that, why are Joe Biden's approval numbers tanking? And why are Democrats --- not Republicans --- thought by the corporate media to be in big trouble this November? We open the phones to callers with a few thoughts on that, including one caller who thinks it's my fault! Mmmmkay...

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Guest: Lynn Bernstein of Transparent Elections NC on intimidation and an independent review of unverifiable ES&S vote systems; Also: Major media failures at Fox 'News', CNN and Washington Post...
By Brad Friedman on 1/28/2022 7:28pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we are bound and determined to take back the real fight for Election Integrity from the MAGA "Stop the Steal" loons and dupes who have no such interest in anything of the sort, as the Right has attempted to co-opt the idea of "Election Integrity" as part of Donald Trump's efforts to steal the election in 2020...and/or to steal the next one. But even too many weak-kneed Democrats have been frightened off of the fight to secure our nation's vulnerable voting and tabulation systems and ensure public oversight of election results for fear of offering fodder to the MAGA Mob. We're not playing that game. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But first up, some pretty dreadful media failures from both the wingnut Right and the non-wingnut Corporate Media. First, after a deteriorating, 50-year old bridge collapsed in Pittsburgh on Friday morning, ironically enough just hours before President Biden's planned appearance in the city to tout his recently signed $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill to repair the nation's crumbling roads and bridges, one Fox "News" host may have jumped the shark when it comes to disinformation from the propaganda news outlet. (Which is not easy!)

Longtime Fox host and news anchor Julie Banderas went off on an embarrassing tear about how "President Biden has been making promises over promises over promises and, as you've noticed, none of them have come true," as she asserted to four others appearing with her, each in their own little silent box. "Back in June of 2021 he started talking about his bipartisan infrastructure deal," she sneered derisively. "There's nothing bipartisan about it! If it was bipartisan, it would have been passed by now!," she continued cluelessly in her rant, slamming the President for failing his vow to "reach across the aisle" to make policy with Republicans. That, she insisted, "has clearly not happened." She was quickly followed by Kayleigh McEnany who concurred. "That might have been the biggest fairy tale of them all," said Trump's former White House Press Secretary.

In fact, Joe Biden's landmark, $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill --- which he was in Pittsburgh to discuss on Friday, fer chrissake --- was passed with nineteen Republicans voting with all the Democrats in the Senate. It was signed into law a full two and a half months ago --- even if word of that promise-kept has yet to pierce the Fox "News" reality bubble.

Sadly, non-wingnut news outlets are not a whole lot better in too many cases of late. On Thursday, a federal judge invalidated the largest offshore oil and gas lease sale in the nation's history. 1.7 million acres were recently auctioned in the Gulf of Mexico after a different federal judge last year, one appointed by Donald Trump, blocked Biden's Executive Order pausing new fossil fuel leases, forcing the Biden Administration to sell off the Gulf. That, even after a scam environmental analysis by Trump's Department of Interior claimed that it would be worse for the climate if Big Oil was not allowed to buy up the leases and expand their drilling there. The Biden Justice Dept. sued to prevent the sale and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki made clear to reporters back in November that the President opposed the auction, but was left no option by the Trump-appointed Judge to carry it out.

So, Thursday's ruling was a welcome victory for the Administration. But one would have to read the actual stories from outlets like Washington Post and CNN to learn that, because both of those outlets sent out news alerts to mobile phones telling a very different story. CNN's alert screamed: "A federal judge invalidated the Biden administration's oil and gas leases for 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico, citing climate change," while WaPo misinformed its readers by declaring "Federal judge throws out Biden administration's massive Gulf of Mexico oil and gas lease sale, faulting its climate analysis."

Wow, if we didn't know better --- or hadn't clicked through to read the actual stories --- it sure would sound like Joe Biden is talking out of both sides of his mouth when he claims to care about climate change and transitioning off of fossil fuels, while carrying out the nation's largest-ever sale of drilling leases in the Gulf! With non-wingnut corporate media like ours, no wonder his approval ratings continue to plummet (despite the fastest growth in the economy since 1984, as the media has also been failing to adequately report, as discussed on yesterday's program!)

NEXT UP...The Department of Justice on Thursday announced that its Election Threats Task Force, formed seven months ago, has made its second arrest. They indicted a 50-year old Nevada man who had repeatedly called the Nevada Secretary of State's office with violent threats on January 7, 2021, just one day after the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol, promising they were "all going to fucking die". That, after hundreds, if not thousands of similar and worse threats have been issued since the 2020 election against elections officials across the country.

But its not only elections officials forced to face down such attempted intimidation. One longtime Election Integrity advocate, who joins us on today's show, says she has faced similar nightmares in response to her work in a critical swing state, resulting in both in-person intimidation to herself and her family, and a chilling attempt to hack into her home security system.

Our guest is LYNN BERNSTEIN, an aerospace engineer with an expertise in testing satellite systems, who has, in recent years, turned her skills toward fighting for evidence-based elections as founder of Transparent Election NC in North Carolina. The non-partisan group's mission, according to its website, "is to confirm that every eligible vote is counted as the voter intended by working with elections officials to ensure that elections are secure, transparent, robustly audited, and publicly verified."

But, Bernstein contends, there are some in her state who may not like that idea. She has become a critic of North Carolina's recently approved, unverifiable computerized touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems made by ES&S, the nation's largest private voting system vendor. Bernstein went public last month on Twitter with some of the threats she began to face after she (a registered and active Democrat) found common ground with the state's Libertarian Party. She helped convince them to exercise their right, under state law, to seek an independent source code and security review of ES&S' unverifiable BMD voting and tabulation systems.

Bernstein offers several chilling details on the intimidation she has faced since the Libertarian Party announced their plans to seek an independent source code review, which will be overseen by the excellent University of South Carolina computer science and voting system expert Dr. Duncan Buell (who has also been a guest on this program). "Elections officials have been in the news a lot about being harassed and threatened," she says. "It seems though that the intimidation of election advocacy leaders happens way more than the public is aware of. I work with people all across the country and privately we discuss it among ourselves, but most won't publicly disclose that they've been hacked or intimidated before."

She also shares her well-researched concerns about the state's controversial new ES&S voting equipment --- which are also used in many other states --- and which experts had strongly advocated against certifying in the closely divided swing-state. "I'm a big proponent of hand-marked paper ballots," says Bernstein. "I think it's just the best record of voter intent. It's a very direct record." She explains how the ES&S BMD systems print out bar-coded paper ballots, supposedly representing voter's touchscreen selections. But those ballots cannot be verified by any voter as actually reflecting their intent. "North Carolina law says that a voter must be able to verify their ballot before casting it. With ES&S's barcode system, it doesn't actually allow the voter to verify their vote before casting it."

During our conversation, Bernstein also offers an endorsement of the state's Libertarian Party chairman who explained in his Party's December press release announcing the review, that "this is not about litigating the 2020 election." She claims that "one of the reasons why he's the perfect person to do this" is because "he has done forensic examinations before" as a former fraud investigator. "When I let him know that this particular ES&S system has never undergone a truly independent source code review, a full comprehensive one, he was shocked, as I think most of us are when we learned of these things."

There's a lot to discuss here, including whether both the state and ES&S will allow the state-mandated review, as we recommit to working to reclaim the real fight for Election Integrity around the nation.

Finally, when it comes to election fraud --- and, arguably, voter fraud --- nobody holds a candle to what Trump and the GOP tried to pull off in 2020. So it's nice to see that the January 6th Committee in the House on Friday, subpoenaed 14 Republicans from seven different states --- all of them won by Biden in 2020 --- who signed their names as duly-sworn "electors" for Trump, on documents fraudulently sent to Congress and the National Archives, in one of the most brazen (and, thankfully, failed) election fraud schemes in the history of this nation...

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Record U.S. corruption; Biden economy booming (don't tell the media!); Snowflake Youngkin's 'tip-line' pratfall; 'Maus' banned in TN before Holocaust Remembrance Day; Internet's dumbest man strikes again...
By Brad Friedman on 1/27/2022 7:17pm PT  

Today, The BradCast is more than just a grab bag of American corruption. It's also topped off with several heaping helpings of rising rightwing autocracy and fascism! Enjoy! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the stories covered today...

  • A new report ranking corruption among 180 countries ranks the U.S. as the 27th least corrupt in the world. In 2021, we fell to our worst score ever --- tied with Chile --- in Transparency International's index. For some reason or another, that's a fall from our previous (less corrupt) high in 2015. Whatever could have happened between then and now to make us more corrupt? The group suggests new efforts already under way by the Biden Administration to tackle corporate corruption could "significantly enhance" our ranking in future surveys. But, for now, they chalk up the nations new record low to, among other things, "persistent attacks against free and fair elections, culminating in a violent assault on the US Capitol, and an increasingly opaque campaign finance system."
  • You may or may not have heard the news --- it disappeared off of AP's front page as quickly as it was posted there today --- but the U.S. economy under Joe Biden in 2021 was absolutely booming. New Commerce Department numbers released Thursday finds that U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) increased last year at the fastest pace since Ronald Reagan's Presidency. The economy expanded by 5.7% in 2021, the best calendar year growth since 1984. Based on 4th quarter numbers, however, GDP was growing at an even faster, 6.9% annualized pace. You sure wouldn't know it from corporate media coverage, however, focused as it is on things like inflation (due, in no small part, to the exploding consumer demand). All of this is akin to AP's recent ridiculous reporting on new jobs numbers, even amid decades-low unemployment numbers and rising wages. Their headline under Trump in February of 2018, for example: "U.S. Employers Added a Robust 200,000 Jobs in January". Compare that to their December 2021 headline under Biden: "U.S. Employers Added a Sluggish 210,000 Jobs in November." (Yes, you read those correctly.)
  • Corruption takes many forms and has many different effects on a nation, none of them good. Some of them, however, can be quite amusing, even when it comes from the clumsy rightwing spread of autocracy and facism, such as that playing out under the freshly sworn in Republican Governor in Virginia, Glenn Youngkin. He announced this week that he has created a tip-line for folks to report teachers who might teach anything objectionable. That might include, for example, anything that may have to do with systemic racism (in Virginia, of all places!) or that could be perceived as making (white) children uncomfortable (aware of) our nation's past (and present). But, "Whatever you do," one Virginia lawyer and former Democratic Congressional candidate hilariously cautioned this week in a viral Twitter thread, "don't make a mockery of this with fake tips" sent to the state's helpeducation@governor.virginia.gov email tip line! He even provided some examples of several fake racism tips that should absolutely not be sent to that address!
  • As amusing as that might be, the rising tide of Republican snowflakes seeking safe spaces is also taking darker turns. This week --- just before today's Holocaust Remembrance Day, as irony would have it --- the McMinn County, Tennessee School Board voted 10 to 0 to ban Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel MAUS: A Survivor's Tale from the school's 8th grade curriculum. The remarkable (beautiful, touching, terrifying, horrifying and even hilarious at times) story of Spiegelman's relationship with his parents, both Holocaust victims, relating their stories and his mother's horrible suicide with Jews drawn as mice and Nazis as cats, should be read by everyone. It's unclear if the County School Board is aware of the irony of banning books about Nazis who famously banned books, but the entire affair has left the author Spiegelman baffled and concerned about the rise of "autocracy and fascism" in the U.S., akin to what his parents eventually escaped in Europe. But it serves as another reminder of how important it is --- as discussed on yesterday's BradCast with Run For Something's Amanda Litman --- that more pro-democracy, anti-Nazi candidates need to run for local office everywhere! Including school boards!
  • And just one more for you today on the corruption of the media --- or at least, the fake, if wildly popular, disinformation propaganda site called Gateway Pundit. We usually try to ignore them and the clownish stuff they post. But they are behind about 90% of the phony wingnut "fraud" claims used by Trump and his gullible MAGA dupes to try and steal the 2020 election. This week, the website's super genius proprietor, Jim Hoft, posted a 100% phony story claiming that the Wisconsin state Assembly voted "unanimously" on Tuesday night to advance a resolution to decertify the Badger State's 10 electoral votes for Joe Biden from 2020. That, because they "were certified under fraudulent purposes." And because MAGA dupes are dupes, the story went viral, natch. As it turns out, one single state legislator in WI tried to introduce that resolution, with zero co-sponsors, was rejected, and it received zero votes in the Assembly. In fact, it wasn't allowed up for a vote at all. But don't tell the dopey propagandist/yutz Hoft, who still has the story posted on his site --- along with years of other phony, discredited, false stories --- two days after publishing it, even after USA Today's fact check thoroughly and verifiably showed it to be completely fake news. Sigh...
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for some actual and verifiable news in our latest Green News Report, with a new report on the costs of reaching net zero emissions; another finding air pollution to be much deadlier than previously known; the Biden Administration revoking controversial mining permits in Minnesota; and both McDonald's and KFC each offering a new, plant-based menu item which may, or may not, move you to want to eat it...

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Guest: Eric Boehlert of Press Run; Also: SCOTUS allows Nat'l Archives to release Trump Jan. 6 records to House; NY A.G. details 'fraud' by Trump family; Fox Nation gets a historian's hilarious 'hard no'...
By Brad Friedman on 1/19/2022 6:21pm PT  

Joe Biden is now one year in. Donald Trump is now one year out. Have the media figured out how to properly cover either or both of them? We discuss on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But first, Trump's troubles are getting worse by the day hour. It's been a bad 24 hours for the disgraced, twice-impeached, one-term former President. But that's usually good news for America!

As we literally begin today's program, news breaks that the U.S. Supreme Court is allowing the National Archive to turn over hundreds of pages of Trump White House documents to the bipartisan U.S. House Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol and Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election.

That bad news for Trump (and good news for everyone else) follows last night's bad news for him (and good news for us) out of a New York state courtroom. NY Attorney General Letitia James has been investigating years of apparent bank, insurance and tax fraud by Trump, the Trump Organization, and Trump's children for years. She recently subpoenaed Trump and his kids Ivanka and Don Jr. to sit for depositions in her civil probe. (She is also working with the Manhattan D.A.'s long-running criminal probe into related matters.) Trump and the kids sued to quash the subpoena and, late on Tuesday night, James' office filed documents in response, detailing what she describes in the court papers as "significant additional evidence indicating that the Trump Organization used fraudulent or misleading asset valuations to obtain a host of economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions.”

We discuss some of that "significant additional evidence" today, along with the additional news that when Eric Trump, back in 2020, failed to quash his own subpoena, he subsequently "then invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in response to more than 500 questions over six hours.” That's his right, of course. But back in 2016, while running for President, Trump described pleading the Fifth as "disgraceful". "The mob takes the Fifth," he said at the time. "If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?" We'll see if he, Ivanka and Don Jr., soon join his "disgraceful" son Eric in doing the same, along with the Trump Organization's "disgraceful" Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, who's already been criminally charged with fraud in Manhattan after also pleading the Fifth more than 500 times as well during his own deposition with James.

And then there's the new guy in the White House, who doesn't seem to be criminal or a liar or a fraudster at all. Today marked the end of Joe Biden's first year in office. It's been a rocky one at times, but also extraordinary successful on a number of legislative and economic issues.

We're joined today by ERIC BOEHLERT, longtime media analyst and publisher of the Press Run newsletter, to discuss media coverage of Biden at the one year mark, and how it compares to coverage of Trump's first --- and subsequent --- years in office.

While Biden's approval numbers have been flagging in recent months --- Gallup pegs his one year average at just under 49% --- they are still above Trump's during his entire Presidency. Nonetheless, we saw little from the media declaring Trump's Presidency was over or a failure at the end of his first year, by way of contrast with what we see from the media now, despite several remarkable successes for Biden over the last 365 days.

"It's very similar to Obama," Boehlert asserts. "If you go back and looked at his first year, first term, 'Oh his coalitions are falling apart!' Lots of doomsday coverage for Obama that turned out to be nonsense." He later adds, "Good luck going back and finding stories about whether the Trump Presidency was failed, 'How does he reset?,'" after his first year. "There was an acceptance that Trump was going to poll in the thirties, and the press just went on from there. In terms of how the coverage differs from Biden and Trump, I think that's the key one there."

Suffice to say, the difference in coverage of each President, as Boehlert details, is stark. And not in a good way. Among the other related issues discussed, above and beyond media coverage of the two Presidents: Has the media come to fully understand, much less appreciate, the unprecedented nature of this tenuous moment for American democracy itself?

"We have two sides," Boehlert explains. "A center-left Democrat doing his best, and we have a Republican Party that wants to destroy free and fair elections in America. So if you're the press, don't play that down the middle. Don't pretend those are similar choices."

"When Trump was inaugurated, the press didn't change how it covered Trump," he observes. "You would read the coverage and think Jeb Bush was President, you would think John McCain was President. You would think this is center-right, normal, traditional....not this madman narcissist. I think with the Biden era, they just want to play this game --- 'His polling is down! We've found some Democrats who are critical of him!' These aren't the times for the norm. The Trump years weren't the time for the norm. And we're not seeing drastic change." And that failure by our corporate media is not a good sign for the nation. Or the planet.

Finally today, it appears that Fox "News" is not satisfied by simply rewriting reality in the present. They are now attempting to rewrite history itself, it seems, as far as who actually killed Abraham Lincoln. Seriously. In the bargain, a Lincoln assassination expert's response to an invitation to appear on Fox Nation (the propaganda streaming service companion to the propaganda cable news channel) to discuss it, is one for the ages!...

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Guest: Philly Inquirer's Will Bunch; Also: Garland vows accountability for 'all Jan. 6 perpetrators, at any level'; Coward Trump cancels anniversary presser; Hannity's insider testimony sought by House 1/6 Committee...
By Brad Friedman on 1/5/2022 6:24pm PT  

One year after the former President's attempt to steal the 2020 election by hurling the bodies of his supporters at the U.S. Capitol, we're more convinced than ever on The BradCast that, as the New York Times Editorial Board declared on New Years Day, "Every Day is Jan. 6 Now". [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

We will soon be entering our 19th year at The BRAD BLOG of trying to warn about the ongoing and worsening threats facing American democracy. But the rising tide of authoritarianism in this nation is now more of a threat than at any time in modern decades. If American democracy falls, so does virtually every other pressing demand, like the need to save humanity from the ravages of climate change. So, yeah. It's kind of important, and we will continue to stay on this beat as long as necessary, as long as we can.

Toward that end today, the despicable, disgraced, twice-impeached, failed, loser of a former President, Donald Trump, who lied about voter and election fraud in order to try and steal a Presidential election, cancelled his planned press conference at Mar-a-Lago on the first anniversary of his pathetic, desperate and deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol. As it turns out, he's both a coward and didn't actually have anything to say that hasn't already been heard and/or debunked as bullshit.

His ridiculously (but not surprisingly) childish statement announcing he was calling off the presser came just hours after his pal, Sean Hannity of Fox 'News', was politely invited to answer questions from the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Capitol assault and Trump's attempt to steal the election which lead up to it. The Committee makes clear in its letter [PDF] that they have already obtained many documents from others regarding Hannity's insider status and direct conversations with Trump in the days before, during and after the attack. While the Committee explained their efforts to go out of their way to avoid any First Amendment press freedom issues with Hannity, and even tried to appeal to his (pretend) patriotism, its unclear whether the Fox propagandist will cooperate.

Next, buttressing the persuasive argument made by Marcy Wheeler with Nicole Sandler on The BradCast last week, Attorney General Merrick Garland, facing pressure from the left to bring accountability to Trump and his cronies, addressed DoJ officials on Wednesday on the occasion of the first anniversary of last year's Capitol attack. After detailing the more than 700 arrests made to date, and at least 250 perpetrators who are still being sought for assaulting law enforcement officials that day, Garland promised the probe was far from complete and was following the facts of the case from the bottom up.

"The Justice Department remains committed to holding all Jan. 6 perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law --- whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy," the AG vowed, adding: "We will follow the facts wherever they lead."

He also highlighted how the U.S. Supreme Court has radically gutted the Voting Rights Act twice over the past decade, and called again for new federal legislation to give the DoJ tools they need to assure the right to vote and to combat state legislatures institutionalizing the ability to subvert election results on a partisan whim.

Finally, we're joined again today by WILL BUNCH, longtime national correspondent and columnist at Philadelphia Inquirer. Bunch was with us on January 6th last year for a wild ride of a broadcast that day as the Capitol was still under assault during the official confirmation of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory as we went to air. At the time, it was particularly unclear what exactly the MAGA Mob was doing and how they might be stopped.

Among the topics of our conversation one year later with Bunch (who just tested positive for COVID!): Lessons learned since Jan. 6 and the many questions still unknown; The many, still confusing reasons and explanations as to why it took so long for law enforcement to respond to the worse attack on the Capitol in two centuries (he suggests part of that was due to "a dog that didn't bark"); Whether or not there should have been more accountability brought by the Justice Department by now (he notes that the Watergate probe took much longer); And his thoughts on Garland's comments at the DoJ today...among much more!

"Honestly, it's taken a full year and it's taken really diligent, praise-worthy work from the January 6th Committee in the House to bring into focus some of what we saw happening that day, that we didn't fully understand in real time," Bunch observes. "What the goals were, who was behind what and why. We've learned so much in the last twelve months."

We've got a lot to discuss on today's program...

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Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton on that and MUCH more at year's end; Also: FDA approves COVID pill; Biden seats 40th judge; U.S. economy 'booming' says WSJ (someone please tell rest of the media!)...
By Brad Friedman on 12/22/2021 6:11pm PT  

We've been arguing for weeks that the accountability walls are closing in on Donald Trump. Scoff if you will, but we have still more evidence of that on today's BradCast --- plus a lot more to talk about with our guest as another year crawls toward its close. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Donald Trump-incited January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol and his attempt to steal the 2020 election is now turning their attention to fellow sitting members of Congress. On Monday, they requested (not subpoenaed, but requested) far-right Freedom Caucus member and conspiracy theorist Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA, that's him on the left in the graphic) come in to answer a few questions about his efforts to install Jeffrey Clark as Attorney General in the days before Jan. 6th. Clark, a Trump DoJ officials who has pleaded the 5th in response to a Committee subpoena, was part of a scheme to lie to swing-state legislatures that the Justice Department had discovered fraud in the 2020 election, mandating new electors be selected by them for Trump instead of the ones voters actually selected for Joe Biden. The Committee informed Perry that they "have received evidence from multiple witnesses that you had an important role in the efforts to install Clark as acting Attorney General.”

By Tuesday, Perry declined to accept the polite invite, and the Committee subsequently said they are prepared to seek the information they need "using other tools." That may include a subpoena, which Perry cannot reject, unless he either wishes to plead the 5th or risk jail time via a Contempt of Congress citation.

Today, far-right Congressman and key Trump ally Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH, that's him on the right) --- who has admitted to having had multiple conversations and meetings with the disgraced former President both on January 6th and in the weeks preceding it --- received a request similar to Perry's. The Committee would like Jordan to "discuss each such communication with [Trump] in detail," according to a letter sent to the Congressman just before air time today. Back in October, Jordan announced during a House Rules Committee hearing, when asked if he'd speak to the Jan 6th Committee about his conversations with the then-President, that he had "nothing to hide." We'll soon find out if that was a lie.

Buttressing all of this, New York Times reported earlier in the week that the Committee, while its 40 investigators and staffers (including former federal prosecutors) have been sifting through some 30,000 documents and interviews with more than 300 witnesses, has shifted from plans to merely detail what happened during the January insurrection to considering criminal referrals to the DoJ. Among the crimes they are looking into are those related to felony obstruction of an official proceeding and "wire fraud by Republicans who raised millions of dollars off assertions that the election was stolen, despite knowing the claims were not true," as the paper reports.

As noted, walls are closing in. Will Attorney General Merrick Garland soon take notice? Or action?

Beyond that, while there has been much troubling news as the year draws to its dark conclusion --- from the rise of Omicron to Joe Manchin gutting President Biden's progressive agenda --- there is also a bunch of encouraging news, too much of which is being ignored or downplayed by media.

Today, the FDA approved emergency authorization for Pfizer's anti-viral pill to treat COVID, said to reduce severe illness and hospitalization by nearly 90% if taken early enough. This week, the U.S. Senate confirmed Biden's 40th nominee to a lifetime appointment on the federal bench. In addition to being the most diverse such group of appointees, their number far outpaces Trump's first year (who saw just 18 nominees seated) and ties the record set by Ronald Reagan more than 40 years ago.

The most maddening news being downplayed by corporate media for weeks, however, is what Wall Street Journal (of all papers!) described today as the "booming U.S. economy," which they report to be outpacing Europe and Asia by a mile. "U.S. economic output is set to expand by more than 7% annualized in the final three months of the year," the paper notes, as compared to "about 2% in the eurozone and 4% in China."

On top of that, "Major U.S. ports are processing almost one-fifth more container volume this year than they did in 2019," also "leaping ahead" of European and Asian ports, while the purchase of durable goods has surged by about 45% above its 2018 pace in the U.S., compared to a 2% rise in Europe. Unemployment is heading toward lows not seen in decades and wages are growing at about 4%, well above both Europe and pre-pandemic rates.

So, it's little wonder that the bulk of the corporate media seems obsessed with inflation as Joe Biden's poll numbers, particularly on his handling of the economy, go South. We can't imagine where the American public may have gotten such a misleading impression of his accomplishments in his first year.

Joining us today to discuss all of the above and much more at year's end, is our old friend and award-winning progressive columnist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo. Among the boatload of questions she speaks to...

  • Why is corporate media coverage of Biden and the Democrats so wildly out of balance with reality, as compared to their coverage of Republican Presidents?
  • Why doesn't the media note that, in addition to Manchin declaring his opposition to Biden's Build Back Better agenda, not one single Republican supports it --- or pretty much anything else Democrats propose, including the American Rescue Plan, passed with no Republican votes earlier this year to get life-saving vaccines to Americans and money in their pockets? Guaranteed filibusters on everything is actually a very new phenomenon, even if it only seems to occur when Democrats are in control for some odd reason.
  • Is Manchin really hoping to kill the Build Back Better Act? Or is something else going on? And is there a way for Democrats to get him back on board with the Biden Agenda?
  • Where the hell is Merrick Garland and will the Jan 6th Committee finally kick the Department of Justice into gear when it comes to accountability for the people who actually incited the insurrection and tried to steal a Presidential election?
  • Will Donald Trump finally be criminally indicted in the year ahead in New York, Georgia and/or by the DoJ? And, if so, will that make him more likely to run in 2024, or less?
  • Will 2022 be better or worse than 2021? (Which was, easily, the best year we've had since 2020.)

I don't have the heart today, so close to Christmas, to tell you how she answered that last question. As noted, a lot to discuss with Digby today!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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