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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, January 29, 2023
Sunday 'Bullet Points' Toons
PDiddie takes aim at the problem in this week's collection of targeted toons...
NJ 2022 Computer Mistally Means Loser Actually Won: 'BradCast' 1/26/2023
Also: 'Doomsday Clock' ticked forward; Opposing war and supporting Ukraine; And, 'Russia, please!'...
'Green News Report' 1/26/23
  w/ Brad & Desi
Spate of new studies find climate impacts escalating; Logging banned (again) in Alaskan rainforest; PLUS: 'Doomsday Clock' moved closer than ever to 'midnight'...
Recent GNRs: 1/24/23 - 1/19/23 - Archives...
Republican Dark Money Group's Multi-Million Dollar 'Grassroots' Vote Suppression Scheme: 'BradCast' 1/25/23
Guest: Brendan Fischer of Documented; Also: My ridiculous, couldn't-be-true Santos theory...
'Decisions are Imminent' in Trump Probe, Says Willis in GA: 'BradCast' 1/24/23
Also: Mass shooting spate; Pence found classified docs at home, returned them; Media still failing on Trump document theft story...
'Green News Report' 1/24/23
  w/ Brad & Desi
CA storm damage tops $1B; Offshore wind doesn't kill whales; Disasters displaced 3.3M in U.S. last year; PLUS: Hand-feeding manatees in FL appears to be saving them...
Recent GNRs: 1/19/23 - 1/17/23 - Archives...
Listeners Ring in on Just About Everything. (Everywhere. All at Once.): 'BradCast' 1/23/23
From the debit limit to Biden/Trump docs to mass shootings to Ukraine and much more...
Million Dollar Sanctions Ruling Underscores Trump's Seemingly Never-Ending Litigation Grift
Ernest A. Canning on why nothing less than a criminal prosecution will end it. (Maybe.)
Sunday 'Selective Focus' Toons
Keeping priorities straight in PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons...
GOP Targets Ballot Initiatives After 2022 Progressive Wins: 'BradCast' 1/20/23
Guest: Chris Melody Fields Figueredo of Ballot Initiative Strategy Center; Also: Judge orders Trump to pay Hillary, others nearly $1M...
OH's Completely Moderate, Not-Corrupt-At-All Republican Governor: 'BradCast' 1/19/23
Dark money fossil fuel bribery and disen-franchising military voters in the Buckeye State; Also: GOP's dangerous limit debt game...
'Green News Report' 1/19/23
  w/ Brad & Desi
EU's plan to compete with U.S. on renewables; Banks spend billions on fossil fuel despite net zero pledges; PLUS: Dark money led Ohio Repubs to redefine NatGas as 'green energy'...
Recent GNRs: 1/17/23 - 1/12/23 - Archives...
GOP's 'One-Two Punch to Shut Down' House Ethics Watchdog: 'BradCast' 1/18/23
Guest: Public Citizen's Craig Holman; Also: VA Guv kills new EV battery plant, 2,500 new jobs; Kobach fined by FEC as he becomes KS A.G...
GOP Election Denialist Candidate Arrested in NM Shooting Spree: 'BradCast' 1/17/23
What did you THINK would happen?; Also: House GOP to crash economy over debt limit...
'Green News Report' 1/17/23
As CA recovers from epic storms, water wars in U.S. West just beginning; Massive boost to U.S. solar thanks to new Biden/Dem law; PLUS: 1970s Exxon scientists nailed it...
Sunday 'Documenting the Atrocities' Toons
PDiddie curates another first draft of history in his latest weekly toon collection...
Republican Federal Courts Take Aim at VRA Section 2: 'BradCast' 1/14/23
Guest: ACLU attorney Jonathan Topaz; Also: IA, NY GOPers charged with mass vote fraud; OH Guv signs bill restricting voting rights...
Transparency and Public Oversight to the Rescue: 'BradCast' 1/12/23
Hand-count of 2020 Prez race in PA county confirms tally; Also: Garland taps Special Counsel in Biden docs case; Trump still obstructing justice in stolen docs case...
'Green News Report' 1/12/23
Extreme weather damage cost $1T in U.S. over past 7 years; Last 8 years hottest ever recorded; PLUS: Kitchen stove warning results in latest dumb Fox 'News' freak out...
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: Campaign finance expert Brendan Fischer of Documented; Also: My ridiculous, couldn't-possibly-be-true George Santos theory...
By Brad Friedman on 1/25/2023 6:22pm PT  

On today's BradCast we focus on two different rightwing scammers: The Heritage Foundation and George Santos. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

The Heritage Foundation's decades-long effort to suppress the vote received a multi-million dollar boost following the 2020 election. Also, there is some new news today on what appears to be a fairly huge campaign finance violation by newly-elected Republican pathological liar, Rep. George Santos. But is it possible that Santos' scam is larger than anybody seems to yet appreciate?

We're joined today to discuss both scammers by BRENDAN FISCHER, one of the nation's foremost campaign finance experts who now serves as Deputy Executive Director for Documented, an investigative watchdog and journalism organization.

For some time, Fischer's group has been digging into and exposing the multi-state, multi-million dollar campaign by the rightwing Heritage Foundation's political action offshoot, Heritage Action. The "dark money" group has been pushing new voter suppression bills through swing-state legislatures with copy and paste "model legislation" in the wake of false claims of fraud in the 2020 Presidential election. Their work is often disguised --- as Executive Director Jessica Anderson was caught boasting to donors about in a 2021 video tape --- to have that "grassroots, ya know, from the bottom-up type of vibe."

Documented recently unearthed Heritage's four-page "Election Integrity Plan" [PDF] from 2021. It details the effort to push restrictions on voting through state legislatures after "in some cases, we actually draft" the bills for them, as Anderson, a former Trump official, is seen bragging to donors on that tape.

"Iowa's the first state that we got to work in," she explains, "and we did it quickly and we did it quietly. Honestly? Nobody noticed!" Anderson also cites "eight key provisions" the group supposedly was able to get into Georgia's controversial 2021 voter suppression measure, SB202, which was quickly signed into law --- supposedly at Heritage's urging --- by Gov. Brian Kemp.

IA and GA were two of "19 states [that] passed 34 laws restricting access to voting" in 2021, according to the Brennan Center for Justice that year, more than in any year since they began tracking such legislation in 2011.

Earlier this month, in addition to obtaining and publishing Heritage Action's "Election Integrity Plan", Fischer joined with Ed Pilkington at The Guardian to detail the organization's previously-unreported tax filings from 2021 [PDF], detailing more than $5 million in outside lobbying services in at least 24 states. That, after spending $0 on outside lobbying the previous year. The anti-democracy "dark money" outfit also spent more than $6 million on contractors for "marketing and advertising" in 2021, a substantial increase from the year before. The expenditures including more than a million dollars spent in support of GA's bill alone. In all, as Fischer and Pilkington report, Heritage's "Election Integrity Plan" earmarked at least $24 million to push these measures in at least eight swing-states over the past two years.

In addition to efforts to adopt restrictions on voting in the states, Heritage also worked to block legislation that would protect voting rights at the federal level. "The millions of dollars that Heritage Action spent in 2021 included substantial expenditures to pressure [Senators Joe] Manchin and [Kyrsten] Sinema in order to not reform the filibuster and thwart democracy reform legislation," Fischer tells me today.

"In West Virginia, in particular, they also did it with drummed-up fake grassroots activity," he explains. "Heritage Action and other groups organized buses to bus activists from out of state to West Virginia for a rally that was intended to 'save the filibuster' and protest Manchin's potential openness to changing the filibuster rules." It worked. Manchin and Sinema refused to reform the Senate's anti-democratic filibuster rule to pass the landmark Freedom to Vote Act in 2021. That measure would have been the most comprehensive voting rights and campaign finance reform measure since the 1960s. And, yes, as Fischer notes, the bill would have also "ended dark money!"

We've got a lot more to discuss along those lines with Fischer today. But, as long as he was here, there was an unrelated matter I wanted to get his thoughts on.

On Tuesday night, newly elected Republican Congressman and unrepentant liar George Santos amended several of his campaign finance disclosure documents. Santos had previously claimed in FEC disclosures that he had loaned his own campaign some $700,000. That was already suspicious, given that two years earlier, Santos claimed to have been making about $50,000/year. But, as The Daily Beast's Roger Sollenberger noticed on Tuesday, his amended forms now claim the funds did not come from him personally --- though they don't explain where the money actually did come from. Any campaign donation that large from someone other than the candidate would be an unlawful contribution.

While the Santos campaign seems to be admitting to what Josh Marshall characterizes as "major crimes" in their new filings, I have a different, completely ridiculous, couldn't-possible-be-true theory to ask Fischer about today: Is it possible that nobody actually gave $700,000 to Santos' campaign? That it was a paper claim only? There was no such loans at all?

Of course, that seems absurd, but this is George Santos we're talking about. More to the point, it should be noted that last year Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) successfully won a case at the corrupt U.S. Supreme Court which held that personal loans made to campaigns by candidates could actually be paid back after the election, in unlimited amounts, by anyone else. Lobbyists, etc. Is it even possible that Santos could have claimed to have made those personal loans to his campaign but that no money was actually ever given to his campaign at all? Allowing him to be "repaid" later by others after the election? It would certainly be a swell way for a wayward conman like Santos to make a cool $700,000, no?

I pose the question about this to Fischer with the full expectation that I'll be told there's no way something like that could have happened without it being discovered by officials long ago. Tune in to hear his response...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Or, 'All the news that's fit to fight about over our public airwaves'...from the debit limit to the Biden and Trump docs to mass shootings to insurrection accountability and much more...
By Brad Friedman on 1/23/2023 6:17pm PT  

There has been a boatload of news from late on Friday, over the weekend, right on up to airtime before today's BradCast. That seems to happen a lot these days. In any event, we tried to keep up or get caught up with a whole bunch of it today, and to take calls from a diverse range of listeners on almost all of it.

Among the topics and news items we discussed today (along with a number of callers who saw some of these things differently than me...at least when their calls began)...

  • The House GOP's dangerous plan to hold the nation's borrowing limit (and the nation's and world's economy along with it) hostage to their disingenuous demands to cut spending programs such as Social Security and Medicare. The White House is refusing to negotiate on the stupid, statutory debt limit, but should they?
  • The corporate media's ridiculous coverage of some more classified documents discovered at Joe Biden's home over the weekend, thanks to a 13-hour consensual search by the DoJ that uncovered a few more documents. Despite the entirely different nature of this case as compared to Donald Trump actually stealing classified documents, refusing to return them, even after subpoenaed, and lying to officials about them, corporate media outlets --- and elected Democrats who are too cowardly to challenge them --- are painting the two cases as somehow similar. Or, at least, claiming that Biden's case means charges cannot not be be brought against Trump for some reason. As explained, that is absurd.

    In fact, this is the "Goofus and Gallant" of document scandals, as fans of Highlights Magazine from the dentist office of your childhood may remember. Goofus (Trump) stole documents and, when caught, lied and refused to return them. Gallant (Biden) discovered he had documents he wasn't supposed to have, promptly notified authorities and returned them. As explained today, if anything, that stark difference should make it more, not less likely that Trump is charged. Or even that both are charged. But to suggest Trump can't be charged now --- as media and some Dems are doing --- is patently ridiculous. We discuss. Including with callers. One of whom tells us she also got in trouble regarding classified documents that were accidentally mishandled by someone who worked with her.

  • An 11th victim was pronounced dead shortly before airtime today in the mass shooting that took place at a dance hall Lunar New Year celebration in Monterey Park, just east of L.A. over the weekend. One interesting caller tried to make the case that the problem with all of these mass shootings is not semi-automatic weapons with extended magazines that can kill dozens of people within second. The real problem is mental health issues in America, he argued. Our conversation was very interesting, I thought. You'll let me know if you agree.
  • Four more Oath Keepers were found guilty today of Seditious Conspiracy for their part in attacking the U.S. Capitol during the insurrection on January 6, 2021. The leader of that conspiracy, however --- the disgraced former President --- has yet to be charged.
  • The idiot infamously photographed putting his feet up on the desk in then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office during the Jan. 6 insurrection was found guilty today on all 8 counts on which he was charged after just two hours of jury deliberation. He also brought a weapon into the office with him and stole an envelope. Apparently, the jury didn't buy his "I was just looking for the bathroom" defense.
  • A few thoughts on the nearly $1 million in sanctions slapped on Donald Trump and his attorney last week by a federal judge in response to a laughable dismissed-with-prejudice lawsuit filed by the former President against Hillary Clinton, James Comey and more than a dozen other FBI agents and elected officials. The largest single recipient of those sanctions will be Clinton, who Trump will have to give nearly $172,000 to. But Trump's litigation grift continues, as our own Ernie Canning wrote about here earlier this afternoon.
  • Another reminder today as to why elections and democracy matter. On Friday, the newly-elected Attorney General and newly-elected Governor in Arizona --- both Democrats for the first time in years --- finally put the state's death penalty on hold, following an horrifically "botched" execution that took more than two hours to complete in 2014. Hopefully, this will eventually result in a full moratorium on the barbaric practice in the state. None of this would have happened had Republicans been elected as Governor or Attorney General last November.
  • And, though I don't believe I raised the issue myself today, a caller rang in to explain why Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine is actually all the fault of the United States...or something. I disagreed and explained why. But, in fairness, as we got to the call very late in the hour, I had to end it much sooner than I would have liked. Hopefully we can pick it up again with more time the next time we're able to open up the phone lines! Always happy to have the conversation and appreciative of all of today's excellent callers!

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Nothing less than a criminal prosecution will end it. (Maybe.)
By Ernest A. Canning on 1/23/2023 10:47am PT  

"Everything Donald does is transactional," Mary Trump, a licensed psychologist and niece of the disgraced former President has explained.

A scathing federal court decision late last week, awarding nearly one million dollars in sanctions against Don the Con and his attorney in response to just one of his many recent frivolous lawsuits against perceived political enemies, underscores Mary's point. It also details how, since leaving office, 2020's biggest loser has engaged in and continues to engage in a litigation grift.

The withering 46-page order [PDF] handed down last Thursday by U.S. District Court Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks in Donald J. Trump v. Hillary Clinton, et al. does more than explain why the veteran federal jurist awarded an eye-popping $937,989 in attorney's fee sanctions against the former President and his New Jersey lawyer, Alina Habba. The erudite legal ruling also contained an in-depth discussion of more than a half-dozen other deceptive and frivolous lawsuits that this "predator" and "successful sociopath" filed against those he has long hoped to paint as enemies since leaving office.

In an attempt at reversing his more than 7 million vote loss at the polls, Trump and his allies filed and lost 61 out of 62 post-election lawsuits. The cases were so devoid of merit, so replete with deceptive allegations, that many of the former President's attorneys were later confronted with ethics complaints and sanctions ranging from fines, to censure and even disbarment.

In the aftermath of that debacle, a normal, non-sociopathic person would have slunk off towards oblivion, tail between his/her legs. Not The Donald.

From a "transactional" perspective, those 61 "losing" cases were a smashing success. They provided the failed President an opportunity to rake-in $250 million from his gullible "base".

But, along with imposing nearly $1 million in attorney's fees sanctions --- including almost $172,000 that Trump will now have to pay out to perhaps his greatest perceived personal nemesis, Hillary Clinton --- Judge Middlebrooks expressed the need to remediate the harm caused to the 31 named Defendants, whom he regarded as the victims of an "abusive" and "completely frivolous" complaint. His Honor eviscerated Trump's lawsuit as one "that should never have been filed"; a lawsuit that was drafted only "to advance a political narrative; not to address legal harm caused by any Defendant." The veteran and very able jurist also expressed a hope that the eye-popping amount of court sanctions might act as a deterrent.

Nonetheless, as long as Trump's litigation fundraising continues to rake-in enormous sums, it's unlikely that anything short of criminal prosecution for some of his many alleged crimes will ultimately accomplish that worthy goal. Maybe...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Dark money fossil fuel bribery and disenfranchising military voters in the Buckeye State; Also: GOP House continues dangerous debt limit game...
By Brad Friedman on 1/19/2023 6:13pm PT  

Is there any amount of blatant corruption that would result in Ohio voters finally turning against Republicans? As we discuss in detail on today's BradCast, state GOP lawmakers seem to really be testing that question at this point. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up, speaking of testing voters, the Treasury Department made it official today. The U.S. Government has now hit its current, statutory borrowing limit. We are now officially using "extraordinary measures" to continue paying our bills to avoid defaulting on our debts. But that can only go on for so long. At this point, according to Treasury's best guess, the U.S. will see its first-ever default "before early June" unless House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and his Republicans in Congress cast a simple vote to raise the amount we are allowed to borrow so that we can pay for all the stuff that Congress and Presidents of both parties long ago agreed to pay for.

It's not hard. It's been done about 80 times since the 1960s, mostly without a problem. But now, with a Democrat in the White House and radicalized Republicans in control of the U.S. House, GOP hard-liners seem determined to play a dangerous game that could result in a national or even world-wide recession or depression. They are pretending to care about the national debt, after years of voting to increase spending while reducing revenue with huge tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. Their performative actions now --- as they hold the nation hostage, demanding cuts to Social Security and Medicare --- will only make the national debt worse. Will voters remember, the next time they go to the voting booth, the damage the GOP seems hell-bent on causing?

We can only hope there will be some not totally insane, "moderate" Republicans left in Congress to join with Democrats to end this madness before its too late, because nobody knows how bad the damage will soon be if they don't. They are likely to run this up to the wire. Again. So, buckle up.

Meanwhile, there's Republican-controlled Ohio, with its totally not insane, supposedly "moderate" Republican Governor, Mike DeWine. He just signed legislation, passed by the GOP state legislature, redefining natural gas --- one of the worst causes of global warming --- as "green energy" under state law. Not insane or corrupt at all, right?

As it turns out, DeWine and state Republicans, once again, seem to be participants in another dark money corruption scandal courtesy of the fossil fuel industry. That, as the state's Republican former House Speaker, Larry Householder, begins his $60 million federal bribery trial next week. That, after Householder, former Ohio Republican Party chair Matt Borges, three others and a dark money political group controlled by Householder participated in "an elaborate scheme, secretly funded by FirstEnergy, to secure Householder's power, elect his allies, pass legislation containing a $1 billion bailout for two aging nuclear power plants, and then vex a ballot effort to overturn the bill with a dirty tricks campaign," according to prosecutors.

Householder shepherded the 2019 passage of the bill to bailout the nuke plants (and a coal-fired power plant) owned by FirstEnergy, a huge energy and fossil fuel conglomerate based in Akron. The bailout was to have been paid for with an additional fee on the utility bills of Buckeye State rate payers, according to the legislation that was signed be DeWine just hours after passage.

And now, it seems, DeWine has done it again. This time on behalf of the natural gas industry. But, why not? Last November, Ohio voters said they didn't mind all the corruption. DeWine easily won a second term in office and state GOP lawmakers increased their super-majorities in both chambers of the legislature.

But, just in case the voters get wise, DeWine recently signed a major overhaul of state election laws, implementing a series of new restrictions on voters. One of those restrictions, however, will make it more difficult for active-duty military members overseas to cast their votes without being disenfranchised. Oops. Military families are said to be furious. But do Republicans actually care about that either? Why would they?

Finally, Desi Doyen joins for our latest Green News Report with more details on DeWine's friendly payback to the natural gas industry; the European Union's new plan to try and compete with renewable energy incentives in the U.S. adopted last year by Democrats; and Germany's recent crack down on anti-coal protesters...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Public Citizen's Government Affairs lobbyist Craig Holman; Also: VA's Youngkin kills new Ford EV battery plant, 2,500 new jobs; Kobach fined by FEC as he takes seat as top law enforcement official in KS...
By Brad Friedman on 1/18/2023 5:38pm PT  

On today's BradCast: With so many referrals of Republican members of Congress to House ethics investigators of late, is it any wonder the GOP and Kevin McCarthy just voted to gut the critical Office of Congressional Ethics (or OCE) as part of their new rules package for taking over the majority in the 118th Congress? [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

At the end of last year, the bipartisan House Select Committee investigating the Trump-incited insurrection on January 6, 2021, recommended Congressional ethics investigations of then-Minority Leader, now-Speaker McCarthy (R-CA); Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) for their failure to respond to lawful Congressional subpoenas. More recently, there have been calls for an ethics investigation of New York's newly seated Republican Rep. and pathological liar, George Santos.

Naturally then, as their first order of business when approving the chambers Rules Package last week, which will now be used to govern for the next two years, Republicans moved to all but kill the only investigative ethics body in the House with actual teeth, the OCE.

We're joined today for insight on all of this by longtime Government Affairs lobbyist on ethics, lobbying and campaign finance rules for good government group Public Citizen, CRAIG HOLMAN. He helps us understand the difference between the House Ethics Committee and the totally separate and independent Office of Congressional Ethics, and explains how Republicans have just implemented a "one-two punch to shut down" the latter and any real ethics investigations along with it.

"The ethics process in Congress, in both the House and the Senate, has historically been run by members of Congress themselves," Holman explains. "So we've got this permanent committee called the House Ethics Committee that is run by members of Congress who are very, very reluctant to be critical of their fellow colleagues. They operate in secret. They will do their investigations, sometimes, but we never really know what they found or what they ended up recommending because they operate in secret. The House Ethics Committee is literally designed to sweep ethics matters under the rug, so that the public doesn't know what's going on."

On the other hand, "In 2008, as part of the huge ethics and lobby reform package that we passed in the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, we created an outside, independent Office of Congressional Ethics," he continues, explaining why the OCE is so critical. To be on its eight-member Board, you can't be a lobbyist or Congressional member. You must be a bona fide outsider. "It's staffed by eight board members --- four Republicans, four Democrats --- and it's done a phenomenal job at opening up the whole ethics process."

"Even though OCE doesn't have any actual enforcement authority, it does an actual investigation and then publishes the results of that investigation. And when it becomes public record, that has compelled the House Ethics Committee to actually do something." Holman observes that, since OCE's creation, actual enforcement actions by the House Ethics Committee has literally quadrupled.

Now, however, new rules adopted last week by House Republicans will force almost every Democratic member of the OCE's Board to step down, any replacements for them must be approved by at least four existing Board Members (which would now be 3 Rs and 1 D). Critically, Dems will have just 30 days find and to appoint those new members, hire staff and have it all approved by the Board. That, he explains, will be virtually impossible. "After that 30-day window, there's no staff. There's no investigators. There's no one able to do the work of OCE. It will effectively shut down OCE."

"It's a very strategic one-two punch to close down the ethics process," Holman argues. So, what does all of this mean for ethics investigations under GOP House rule over the next two years? And is there any way to either reverse the newly adopted rules or re-interpret them somehow in the GOP-majority Rules Committee? We discuss. But Holman describes the outlook as "grim" at this point.

Also on today's show...

  • Virginia's Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin has killed a new Ford Motor Co. project to build electric vehicle batteries in his state. The new plant would have brought at least 2,500 new jobs to a rural area of the commonwealth which has been under development for years in hopes of attracting new industry. But the plant was to have been a partnership with a Chinese company. Youngkin, who is believed likely to run for a Presidential nod in 2024, claims the company is a secret front for the "Chinese Communist Party" and poses a threat to the security of Virginians somehow. Meanwhile the new Ford employees will be hired in a different state, and the 3,500-acre megasite in VA remains vacant after 15 years and more than $200 million in public development funding. Desi Doyen suggests that the oil industry's efforts to put the brakes on the EV boom also plays a part in this fiasco.
  • Last week, Kansas' Democratic Governor Laura Kelly was sworn in for a second term in the usually "red" state. This time, however, she was joined by longtime immigration opponent, vote suppressor and GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach, who was sworn in as the state's new Attorney General. Kobach's long-sought political comeback --- after losing the Governor's contest to Kelly in 2018 and the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in 2020 --- comes along with a $30,000 fine from the Federal Election Commission for election law violations during his failed 2020 election when he received unlawful help from a fraudulent private border wall group called "We Build the Wall". After embarrassing the state of KS, Kobach served as Board Member and General Counsel for the group which is, itself, facing fraud charges at both the federal and state level in New York (along with Board Member Steve Bannon). Other than that, of course, and the federal court sanctions he received while serving as SoS --- including orders to attend law school classes at the time --- there's a new sheriff in town in the great state of Kansas. I'm sure it will go very well...

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What did you THINK would happen?; Also: House GOP plans to crash economy over debt limit. We should believe them on that too...
By Brad Friedman on 1/17/2023 5:48pm PT  

Seriously, what did you think was eventually going to happen after years of Republicans being lied to that elections were being rigged against them? Lots to discuss on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

The shooting spree for now --- we hope --- has come to an end in Bernalillo County (Albuquerque) New Mexico with the arrest of a Trump fan boy and failed Republican state House candidate who lost his election last November by nearly 50 points. With the help of four others, he's allegedly been shooting at the houses of local and state Democratic elected officials over the past month and a half. He was finally nabbed on Monday night. Luckily, no one was killed in the at least four houses he visited and targeted.

Today, we tell the story and detail how elections work in the state (after their disastrous use of touchscreens back in 2000, they now use hand-marked paper ballots tallied by computer tabulators with results confirmed, theoretically, by hand-counted, post-election audits); how the shooter should have been more of a concern much earlier (even before Republicans nominated this dude who only recently ended a 7-year prison sentence); and the fact that none of what happened over the past coupla months in the state's most populous Dem-leaning County should really have come as a surprise. After more than two years of Donald Trump lying about "rigged" elections --- and the state Republican party lying along with him --- it's almost more surprising that this hasn't happened sooner.

It was, as Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller observed at a news conference on Monday night after the arrest, "what we had all feared and what we had suspected --- that these shootings were indeed politically motivated." He correctly added: "They were dangerous attacks not only to these individuals … but, fundamentally, also to democracy. ... This was about a rightwing radical, an election denier ... And someone who did the worst imaginable thing you can do when you have a political disagreement, which is turn that to violence."

And, in another example today of why, when Republicans tell us what they are going to do, we should believe them: the GOP economic terrorists in the U.S. House, as Washington Post reported on Friday, are now making plans for crashing the nation's (and world's) economy by refusing to increase the U.S. debt limit this year.

Hopefully, there will be a large enough handful of not-insane Republicans in the House to work with Dems to raise it in order to pay for what the U.S. (Congress and Presidents of both parties) have already bought, so that we can avoid a first-ever default of U.S. Government debt payments. But, even the dangerous game that the hard-right, radical extremist Republicans are preparing for could send markets --- and the credit rating of the U.S. --- plummeting. As TPM's Josh Marshall smartly headlined a short item on some of these points over the weekend, paraphrasing an infamously ignored Presidential Daily Briefing from August of 2001: "House GOP Determined to Strike US".

Finally, with the seemingly endless storms in California finally ended, for now, we're back to the continuing water woes in the U.S. West. And it's not looking good for Arizona right now. Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report on that and U.S. solar manufacturing seeing a massive boost, thanks to legislation passed by Dems and signed by President Biden last year (and opposed by all Congressional Republicans); and Exxon scientists from the 70s, sadly, are proven to have been exactly right in their warnings about climate change. Unfortunately, Exxon paid millions to make sure you never heard about those warnings...

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Guest: ACLU attorney Jonathan Topaz; Also: IA, NY GOPers charged with mass vote fraud; OH Guv signs bill restricting voting rights...
By Brad Friedman on 1/13/2023 6:17pm PT  

What a way to "celebrate" Martin Luther King Day this year on The BradCast. Fifty-eight years since the passage of the Voting Rights Act and 10 years since the rightwingers on the U.S. Supreme Court gutted one of its central provisions, our even farther rightwing courts now appear to be gunning for much of the rest of the landmark civil rights voting law. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up today, while GOP-appointed federal judges are finding new ways to allow racial discrimination at the voting booth, Republicans --- including a top election official in upstate New York, and the wife of a U.S. House candidate in Iowa --- are nabbed by the Justice Department for committing mass vote fraud with absentee ballots.

The DoJ announcements in those cases come after a year in which Republicans filed a record number of anti-voting lawsuits --- in hopes of preventing (certain) voters from voting and/or having their votes counted as cast --- under the pretend guise of fighting fraud. They also come just days after Ohio's supposedly "moderate" GOP Governor signed new legislation to make it more difficult for (certain) voters to vote at all in upcoming elections.

Voting rights advocates in the Buckeye State charge the new measure will create barriers to the ballot for the elderly, rural voters and members of the military. But if it makes it more difficult for minority voters to vote, it may soon be impossible for groups like the League of Women Voters or the NAACP or the ACLU to file lawsuits charging violations of anti-discrimination laws under the Voting Rights Act.

When SCOTUS gutted Section 5 of the VRA in 2013 --- the part that required new election laws in jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination at the polling place to be precleared by federal authorities before they could go into effect --- the rightwing majority on the High Court claimed the provision was antiquated and no longer necessary. Besides, even though thousands of discriminatory laws had been blocked by Section 5 since 1965, there was always Section 2, which blocks racially discriminatory voting laws in all 50 states.

After all, as an ACLU attorney was forced to point out during a federal appeals court hearing this week: “For over 40 years, dozens of federal courts have heard hundreds of Section 2 claims brought by federal plaintiffs.”

Unfortunately, that lawyer was defending the use of Section 2 before a three-judge panel, where she had to add that, “In that time, not one court denied the plaintiffs their day in court because of a lack of private action.”

The hearing in question came this week after a lower, federal district Court judge in Arkansas tossed out a challenge to a new state House district map implemented by state Republicans. The map includes 11 black majority districts, when the population of the state suggests there should be 16 such districts.

But Judge Lee Rudofsky, a Donald Trump appointee, dismissed the challenge to the new map, declaring that Section 2 of the VRA does not allow private individuals and groups, like the ACLU or NAACP, to file suit against such laws. Only the U.S. Attorney General may do so, he held.

As our guest explains today, Rudofsky's court "the first court in the history of the country to find that there is no private right of action" in Section 2. For a host of reasons, it's an absurd argument. And yet, this week at the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, according to CNN, two of the three judges on the appeals panel (all of them are Republican appointees) appeared open to the idea that there is no right to private action under Section 2, because the federal statute doesn't specifically say as much. Never mind that private parties have been suing for decades under Section 2, including at the U.S. Supreme Court, where the Justices never said a word against it.

We're joined to explain this newly-attempted GOP voter suppression nightmare by JONATHAN TOPAZ, the ACLU Voting Rights Project staff attorney who served as the trial attorney on the initial case that was tossed by Judge Rudofsky last year.

"I think it's hard for most people to fathom that this is a question that needs to be litigated in 2023," Topaz tells me. "There have been hundreds of cases over the course of Section 2's history litigated by private plaintiffs, and many of those cases --- at least 10 at the Supreme Court, and at least 18 in the 8th Circuit where we were arguing earlier this week --- were brought by private plaintiffs."

"Congress had opportunities --- in 1982 when they amended the Voting Rights Act, as recently as 2006 when they reauthorized the Voting Rights Act --- to correct any mistakes it saw out there as private plaintiffs brought cases across the country, which would have been purportedly in open defiance of what Congress had intended, and Congress never saw fit to correct anyone," he explains.

Topaz goes on to cite a case as recently as 1996 when "five justices of the Supreme Court --- so, a majority --- held that there was a private right of action under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act." Of course, our newly corrupted, stolen, and extremist rightwing majority on the High Court has had no trouble of late reversing its own precedents whenever they feel like it. So this case, which will almost certainly end up at SCOTUS no matter what happens at the 8th Circuit, could tee up a potentially near-fatal blow to the already teetering VRA.

"Section 2 is one of the crown jewels of American legislative history," Topaz argues today. "It's one of the finest statutes ever passed. Section 2 is absolutely essential in terms of ensuring equal voting access around the country. And we will do everything we can do defend it."

In the meantime, as he observes, this particular fight has prevented the courts from deciding on the merits of the original case, which means that --- even if it's ultimately settled at SCOTUS in favor of the ACLU --- "there will have been several elections taking place with discriminatory maps in Arkansas."

In 1957, in his "Give us the Ballot" speech eight years before passage of the VRA, MLK reportedly said: "So long as I do not firmly and irrevocably possess the right to vote I do not possess myself. I cannot make up my mind --- it is made up for me. I cannot live as a democratic citizen, observing the laws I have helped to enact --- I can only submit to the edict of others."

Happy Martin Luther King Day. It's on Monday.

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Guest: Public Citizen's competition policy expert Matt Kent; Also: House GOP's dangerous debt default gambit may come sooner than expected...
By Brad Friedman on 1/11/2023 6:24pm PT  

If you can get through the troubling news at the top of today's BradCast, we've got far more encouraging news beyond it! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, the dangerous GOP scheme to use the need to raise the nation's borrowing limit to hold the nation's economy hostage, may come sooner than expected this year. The debt ceiling will have to be raised this year so that we can cover the cost of stuff that Congress and Presidents have already committed to paying for. But, if hardline Republicans who now control the House and its Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, carry out their threats, bumping into our current debt ceiling could place the nation on the brink of the first default of the federal government in U.S. history. Immediate market crashes and millions of layoffs could follow, along with a national and/or global recession and/or depression in the bargain.

According to AP today, the federal government could run out of money as early as this week or as late as March. After that, they will institute "extraordinary measures" to continue paying our bills as long as possible. But unless Congress adopts another increase in the debt ceiling (which is never a problem when a Republican is in the White House) a default could occur as soon as mid-summer. Given the promises made by McCarthy to the hardliners in his caucus last week, in order to win the Speakership on the 15th ballot, this could all get very dangerous very quickly. Especially given the way Republican extremists carry out "negotiations" in the modern age.

Beyond that, we've got some much better news today as we turn our eyes toward Executive Actions and those by Executive Branch agencies to move the nation forward while the GOP brings legislative progress to a screeching halt. On that front, while Joe Biden vowed to be the most labor friendly President in U.S. history (granted, a pretty low bar), his Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair, progressive Lina Khan, is working hard to help him keep the promise.

Last month, more than two dozen consumer advocacy groups and labor unions sent a letter to Khan and the other FTC Commissioners asking them to quickly begin the process to create a new rule that would ban the use of non-compete contracts by employers. "Employers’ use of non-compete clauses inflict real and substantial harms on the American worker and the overall U.S. economy without any legitimate justification," the groups argued. "By limiting worker’s mobility, non-competes drive down wages, reduce the formation of new businesses and keep workers stuck in unsafe or hostile workplaces. These one-sided contracts can also unfairly restrain competition in downstream markets by allowing dominant firms to hold on to specialized workers --- think of monopolistic hospitals and surgeons."

Last week, the FTC did precisely as asked, kicking off the rule-making process to ban such contract clauses in all 50 states! Today, we're joined by MATT KENT, competition policy advocate at Public Citizen, one of the letter's signatories, to discuss what his organization described last week as "thrilling" news.

"Non-compete clauses are built into employment contracts to require employees to not work against an employer," Kent tells me. "This was originally used as something for higher level senior executive types, to prevent them from going from boardroom to boardroom. Over the decades, employers realized this was a useful tactic in depressing workers' wages by taking away their leverage to move to another company."

He explains that such clauses are now common for everything from food-service workers to security guards. "In a lot of cases, folks would move to another job only to find out that their former employer was suing them for violating a non-compete, to make an example [of them], and put the fear into workers [and] cut down on their mobility. It's become a major problem."

The text of the FTC's newly proposed rule is "very encouraging," Kent says. "When you do this work, you're ready for disappointment. So we were expecting to see a proposal from the FTC with common carve-outs and exceptions." Instead, they got just about everything they asked for. Nonetheless, changes to the final rule "could still happen. That's the battle ahead of us now at the FTC. But we are very, very excited by the fact that, as proposed right now, the FTC does not include any carve-outs or special exceptions that Big Business could really exploit."

Because of that, he warns, "the business community is going to come hard for this one" both in the courts and during the public comment period which is now open. "The FTC needs to hear from the public," he implores. "More people than you think have a story about someone who has been stuck in a bad situation with a non-compete. People feel afraid to talk about them because they're worried about employer retribution," Kent notes. "But people have the ability to comment anonymously. People who have experiences with non-compete clauses in an employment contract affecting them or their family, now is the time to communicate that to the FTC as they make this rule, because public support is going to be really important."

Also in my conversation today with Kent: Why this rule-making process must be finished quickly to avoid the possibility of the regulation being overturned through the Congressional Review Act after the 2024 elections; excitement among the progressive and labor community about Khan's appointment as FTC Chair; the possibility of revitalizing long-moribund, anti-trade, anti-competition, anti-monopoly laws like the Sherman and Clayton Acts; and whether it's possible or not to find common ground with some members of the Republican right who claim to be troubled by overly-powerful corporate control of everything from Big Tech to Big Grocery...

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Also: Evacuations, flooding in CA; Brazil's MAGA-style coup; Prosecutors in GA, MI move closer to Trump/2020 accountability; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 1/9/2023 6:13pm PT  

It's our first call-in show of the new year on today's BradCast, but we've got a lot of news to get to as well first. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among the bevy of stuff covered on today's program...

  • Thousands in California face mandatory evacuations due to flooding and possible mudslides, with emergency declarations by the state's Governor and President Biden for more than a dozen counties. Some 8 inches of rain drenched some areas over the past 12 hours. A line of repeated deluges are expected to slam the otherwise drought-stricken state over the next week or more.
  • Over the weekend, thousands stormed government buildings in Brazil in a January 6, MAGA-style insurrection in support of former President Jair Bolsonaro who recently lost his election to former Brazilian President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (known simply as "Lula" by his countrymen). Bolsonaro has taken refuge near Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago in Florida, as nearly 1,500 of his supporters were rounded up and arrested after Sunday's attempted coup. Democratic leadership in the White House and Congress condemned the attempt to undermine the peaceful transfer of power in Brazil. Republican leadership had yet to say a word as of airtime today.
  • Speaking of Republican "leadership", GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy gave away the store to his farther right wing late on Friday to finally win the House Speakership after an embarrassing 15 rounds of voting. But at what cost? We discuss a number of his concessions, what they are likely to mean for McCarthy and his party, and for the rest of us going forward, with nation's debt ceiling and much more hanging in the balance. McCarthy's late night victory on Friday, January 6th 2023 (and into the early Saturday morning hours) came two years to the day after the Trump-incited insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. It also came on the evening after Republicans failed to turn out for the second-year anniversary memorial, recognition event on the Capitol steps for 140 law enforcement officials who were injured or died during and after the Republican riot. During McCarthy's acceptance speech as Speaker, he also vowed to defund federal law enforcement. His GOP colleagues cheered in response.
  • As the 118th Congress finally got under way on Monday, Republicans are expected to use their very slim majority to investigate Joe Biden's family and the so-called "weaponization of the federal government" against Twitter and other social media outlets...ironically enough, from during the time that Trump controlled the FBI. As explained on today's show today briefly (and I suspect we'll have to offer more details in the weeks and months ahead), claims being made by the liars on the Right (and a few misled and/or confused folks on the Left, sadly) that "Twitter was paid to practice censorship by the government and ban people the government did not like," is evidence-free nonsense. But you'll be hearing a lot of those false claims, as based on the so-called "Twitter Files" they misleadingly cite as evidence. That, even though the files in question, at least to date, reveal nothing of the sort.
  • Relatedly, at least one of the far-right Freedom Caucus Members, its chair, Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), hopes to sit on a new Congressional Committee to investigate the federal investigators probing Donald Trump's many crimes related to his attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election and his theft of classified White House documents. That, even though Perry has had his phone confiscated as evidence by the FBI and faces potential criminal charges for his role in the J6 insurrection. He sees no conflict of interest in sitting on that Congressional panel.
  • In Michigan on Friday, Attorney General Dana Nessel, tired of waiting for the Feds to act, has announced plans to reopen her own investigation into the fake electors plot in her state after referring the matter to the U.S. Dept. of Justice one year ago.
  • And in Georgia, the Special Grand Jury convened by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has now wrapped up its work. According to a state judge, they have delivered their report on who, if anyone, should be indicted in the broad conspiracy led by Donald Trump and many of his top supporters to strong-arm state officials into overturning the election he lost there in 2020. Special Grand Juries in the state may not issue not issue indictments. So Willis must now decide if she wishes to seek indictments from a regular grand jury, and the judge overseeing the matter must decide if the Special Grand Jury's report should be publicly released, as they have requested.
  • Finally, callers ring in on all of the above and more for the first time since the turn of the new year!...

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Guest: Philly Inquirer's Will Bunch; Also: Repubs fail to elect Speaker on 13th ballot; Biden awards cops who defended Capitol, election officials who defended democracy...
By Brad Friedman on 1/6/2023 6:24pm PT  

It's January 6 again, so our "weird annual tradition," as our guest describes it today, continues on The BradCast. Sadly, so does the GOP's continuing threat to American democracy, two years after the deadly assault at the U.S. Capitol. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

First up, it is also Day 4 of the House Republicans' failures to select a Speaker. There were some breakthroughs for GOP leader Kevin McCarthy on Friday, however, after 13 unsuccessful ballots (for the first time in 134 years). His desperation to give away pretty much everything in exchange for winning the weakest Speakership in history earned him another 15 votes or so from his GOP opponents. And, with that, he was finally able to get more votes than Democratic House leader Hakeem Jeffries. Nonetheless, he was still shy of a majority as we went to air today. So, the "Never Kevins" are still winning the day and the 118th Congress is still unable to get underway.

As one Democratic member, elected last November for a third term, noted about his time, so far, in Congress: "1st term started with a GOP-led govt shutdown. 2nd term started with a deadly insurrection incited by the former Republican president. And my 3rd term has yet to begin due to @HouseGOP’s failure to elect a speaker. Notice a pattern?"

All of this on the second anniversary of the deadly, Donald Trump-incited insurrection at the U.S. Capitol back in 2021, as one of his last, desperate, failed attempts to steal the Presidency from the American people.

A memorial was held by House Democrats outside the Capitol today, in remembrance of those law enforcement officials who lost their lives while, and just after, defending it on January 6, 2021. We observed no Republicans at the ceremony.

At the White House, President Biden marked the occasion by awarding 14 individuals with the Presidential Citizens Medal. The awardees including three law enforcement officials who lost their lives and five who were critically injured that day. Also, a collection of bipartisan election officials, poll workers and others who defended the 2020 election at great personal threat, after being personally targeted by the former President of the United States and his supporters were honored as well. We share an excerpt from Biden's remarks today on the need to continue defending democracy and recognizing those who "stand watch" over it.

Finally, our "weird annual tradition" of visiting with the author and longtime Philadelphia Inquirer national columnist WILL BUNCH on January 6 continues today. He was with us on the program as the Capitol was under attack back in 2021, initially to talk about a different insurrection of sorts by Republicans at the state Senate in Pennsylvania.

Today was the third January 6 in a row he was able to be with us, and we focused today on the still-missing accountability for the ringleaders of the 1/6/21 attack, and on his latest column tying together that assault on democracy with this past week's GOP chaos and failure to select a Speaker in the U.S. House. They are all, it seems, of a piece, suggests Bunch, noting "the irony of this going on during the January 6 anniversary."

"No matter what sound minds want to get done, this band of obstructionists is in control," he argues. Citing them as "the spoiled children of Trumpism," Bunch says, "I would call them nihilists. They really believe in nothing other than their own air time, raising their own profile."

"Everybody in this [GOP House] leadership group voted to throw out people's votes in the 2020 election," Bunch, a resident of Pennsylvania, whose vote they tried to steal from him on January 6, 2021, notes. And it's not only those who tried to undermine democracy two years ago who have still failed to be held accountable. "The five freshmen who voted against McCarthy all ran as Trumpified election deniers."

"I mean, is it against the law to overthrow the government or not?," Bunch quips today, only somewhat rhetorically.

"The common thread is minority rule," he goes on to observe. "They believe they have some kind of divine right. It's really linked to these hierarchies of American life --- white supremacy, or white privilege, the patriarchy and other things. Running for office as the protectors of that. You're not going to do anything affirmatively to help people. You're just going to stop these people you see as destroyers of your way of life, your culture. It doesn't matter who gets the most votes, because the culture is more important than democracy. I think that motivates these people."

We discuss all of that and much more, as both Bunch and I share our frustration and hope that those who created all of these messes may finally face accountability some day soon...

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Also: Dems outmaneuver Repubs to elect state House Speakers in PA and OH; And, our first 'Green News Report' of the new year...
By Brad Friedman on 1/5/2023 5:56pm PT  

The last time multiple ballots were needed for any party to elect a House Speaker, a century ago in 1923, it took nine ballots to settle the matter. Today, before we got off the air from today's BradCast, Republican leader Kevin McCarthy had failed to secure a majority on the eleventh ballot. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Not all hope is lost. There's still the all-time record of 133 ballots over two months in 1855-1856 that today's Republican Party has yet to break. Give them time.

So, the 118th U.S. Congress has not yet been gavelled into existence. But that's not the only place where Republicans seem to be tripping over their own legislative [bleeps].

On today's program...

  • Up-to-the-minute coverage of the madness and idiocy of Day 3 in the Republican-led House; how the 20 far-right anti-McCarthyites are shooting themselves and their party in the foot; what McCarthy has already given away (pretty much everything) in his still-failed effort to win them over; how Trump may be the biggest loser of all here; the Democratic Party's continuing unified support for leader Hakeem Jeffries (the lead vote-getter, with 212 votes, on each and every ballot to date); why all of this is important and the dangers ahead; a reminder of what the nation is now missing without Dems in control of the chamber; and the question of whether Dems should help McCarthy win the Speakership in exchange for a promise to raise the debt ceiling to avoid a national and potentially global depression, as suggested by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA).
  • In Pennsylvania on Thursday, Democratic Gov.-Elect Josh Shapiro tapped former Philadelphia city commissioner and election official, Al Schmidt, a Republican, to serve as Sec. of the Commonwealth.
  • Also in the Keystone State this week, Democrats in the State House have out-maneuvered Republicans to seat a House Speaker. In a surprise victory last November, Dems won back the majority from the GOP for the first time in a decade, but only by one seat. Then, one Democratic member died and two others vacated their seats for higher office. Until special elections to fill those three seats can be scheduled, both parties were claiming the majority and the right to run the House, set the legislative agenda, and schedule the special elections, which will likely result in a clear majority for the Dems after they are finally held. But Dems were able to win over some Republican votes to elect one of their own as Speaker in a surprise victory this week.
  • In another surprise victory for Democrats, this time in the very Republican Ohio state House, Democrats out-maneuvered the GOP again by voting en masse with a group of Republicans to elect a more moderate Speaker than the one the GOP had chosen as their leader just last month. The power struggle comes in the wake of a still-unfolding racketeering scandal for the GOP as the state's former Republican House Speaker, Larry Householder, begins a federal trial this month with his co-defendant, the former Chair of the Ohio Republican Party, regarding $61 million in alleged bribes to pass legislation to help bail out energy giant, FirstEnergy.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our first Green News Report of the new year, with a ton of stuff we missed over our holiday break, and a bunch of stuff that has happened since our return, including the roll out of billions of dollars in infrastructure upgrades and new incentives for consumers to move to clean, renewable energy, as adopted when Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress...

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Guest: Data researcher Tom Bonier of TargetSmart; Also: Hilarious Republican failure to select a House Speaker continues into Day 2...
By Brad Friedman on 1/4/2023 5:59pm PT  

As the ingenious GOP on GOP rebellion continues in the U.S. House today, we cover that and some clarifying new insights from the 2022 elections regarding the "red wave" that never came (as we long told you it wouldn't) on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Day 2 of the GOP Rebellion Without Any Actual Cause That I Know Of continued on Wednesday, with Republicans failing on Ballots 4, 5 and 6 to secure a majority of votes of those present and voting for any candidate for House Speaker. The Democratic nominee on every ballot, their new leader Hakeem Jeffries, continued to be the top vote-getter in every round, receiving a unified 212 votes on each ballot.

On the GOP side, their leader Kevin McCarthy received just 201 votes on each of Wednesday's three ballots, down one vote from the third vote yesterday and still well shy of the 218 votes needed for a majority. The new trick today from the Republican "rebels" was nominating African-American second-term back-bencher Byron Donalds of Florida to be Speaker even though (or, perhaps, because?) he pleaded guilty to felony bribery charges back in 2000 in a scheme to defraud a bank. A bit on-brand for today's GOP but otherwise perfect for the job!

There were a few tiny nuances and the slightest movement (away from McCarthy and toward the Gaetz/Boehbert-led rebel group of 20) in the afternoon's three rounds of voting. We'll see what, if anything, happens when they reconvene for an evening session at 8pm ET on Wednesday night. (They just reconvened. The GOP moved to adjourn until Thursday at noon, and won that chaotic vote by the barest of margins.)

But, hey, so far, for two days in a row, the GOP House has been unable to do any legislative damage to the country!

Next, it's on to our guest today, the great TOM BONIER, master Tweeter and CEO of the Democratic data research firm, TargetSmart. Bonier joined us on the program a number of times since late last summer, in the run-up to the 2022 elections and in the days that followed. He was one of very few publicly on record (along with Simon Rosenberg of New Democrat Network) who presented hard data that correctly countered the false "red wave" narrative promulgated in the months before last year's November midterms.

Over the weekend, the New York Times ran a 4,000-word analysis headlined "The 'Red Wave' Washout: How Skewed Polls Fed a False Election Narrative". It explores no small amount of what we'd been trying to tell you since early last spring. Namely, that Democrats were likely to do much better than both history and professional pundits were telling you, and that, as Bonier and Rosenberg detailed in the face of mockery by some last year, the polls late in the season were actually misleading voters.

Specifically, as the paper reports, beginning in September last year, a bevy of partisan Republican polls with dodgy methodology were released, almost all suggesting the GOP was on the verge of not only a "red wave" election but a "red tsunami". The partisan numbers, cited with great excitement by rightwing media outlets initially and then by non-rightwing media, seemed to conflict with polls from most legitimate, nonpartisan polling outfits. But the public release of a ton of partisan polling served to game the polling averages at highly-trafficked forecast sites like 538 and RealClearPolitics. More disturbingly, the skewed numbers resulted in Democratic campaigns changing strategies and spending in hopes of shoring up otherwise safe seats, while abandoning races --- such as U.S. Senate contests in Wisconsin, Ohio and North Carolina and a bunch of House districts around the country --- that were almost certainly otherwise winnable.

Why did this happen? Was it a concerted strategy by Republicans to game the public polling averages? And, if so, why did the supposed polling gatekeepers --- like Nate Silver at 538, who dismissed and mocked folks like Bonier and Rosenberg for relying on "hopium" in their accurate data analysis --- fail to protect against the partisan manipulation? Also, while the Times analysis suggests otherwise, did those false numbers actually serve to goose Dem turnout in some races last year?

In short, when I ask Bonier directly today if Republicans figured out last year how to game the polling averages, he responds, "Yes. Simply, yes. That's what happened. And it couldn't have happened without others playing along with it and empowering it."

"In the end, they were successful," he tells me. "Were they successful to the point where they were able to create a red wave? No. But they were successful to the point where Republicans won some races that I don't think they would have without this happening."

So, what to do about it moving forward? We dig into details on that and much more with Bonier today, and also get his insight into whatever the hell is going on in the Republicans' dumpster fire failure to select a House Speaker to begin the 118th U.S. Congress after two days (and counting) of trying...

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GOP-majority House adjourns after failing to elect Speaker; Also: AZ's A.G. recount ends, Dems take statewide office in previously 'red' state...
By Brad Friedman on 1/3/2023 5:46pm PT  

Well, we're back on today's BradCast --- like it or not --- after our holiday break, with a head cold (but not COVID) and a doozy of a day in Washington D.C.! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

For the first time in 100 years, the party in charge of the U.S. House --- which would theoretically now be the Republicans --- adjourned on the first day of the new, 118th Congress without electing a House Speaker.

After three ballots in which he failed to win the 218 votes needed, Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California actually lost one of his votes on the third ballot to Republican Jim Jordan. The Ohio right-winger received 20 votes in the third round of voting, even after he had actually been the one to nominate McCarthy on the second round. And even after McCarthy had desperately attempted to broker deals for votes up until this afternoon.

On all three ballots, Democrats remained unified behind their new leader, Hakeem Jeffries of New York. He received 212 votes to McCarthy's 203 in the first and second round. McCarthy won only 202 on the last ballot before Republicans decided to adjourn for the day and regroup before trying again tomorrow. While Jeffries won more votes than anyone else on all three ballots, a majority of members present and voting is required to win the Speakership. That number today --- and presumably tomorrow --- is 218.

Without a Speaker, no business in the House can proceed. Given the silly business planned by the GOP majority in the House, that's no great loss. Back in December of 1855 it took until February of 1856 for a speaker to be chosen. But since the Civil War, there has only been one time until today --- way back in 1923 --- that the majority party was unable to elect a Speaker without multiple ballots. It remains to be seen how long it will now take Republicans to select a Speaker this time, as at least 20 GOP "rebels", led by Florida's Rep. Matt Gaetz, appear to be "Never Kevins" for the time being, with no particular Plan B in sight.

House Dems, of course, are eating it all up, as they should. We'll see how it goes tomorrow.

Also today, we catch up with a few items we missed while away over the holidays. Specifically, some of the remaining statewide contests in Arizona, one of which was still somewhat up-in-the-air before we left in the formerly "red" state.

Over the holidays, the GOP's gubernatorial candidate and Donald Trump "Mini-me", Kari Lake, saw her election challenge dismissed by a Maricopa County Superior Court Judge after she was certified to have lost by some 12,000 votes out of more than 2.5 million cast. Her victorious opponent, Democrat Katie Hobbs, was sworn in as the state's new Governor on New Years Day after receiving a generous hand-written note of welcome from her not-insane Republican predecessor, Gov. Doug Ducey.

But the incredibly tight Attorney General's race in the Grand Canyon State was still facing an automatic recount through the holidays after Democrat Kristin Mayes was certified as having defeated 2020 election denier Abe Hamadeh by just 511 votes.

At year's end, the state's mostly machine-recount wrapped up, with Mayes remaining victorious over the Republican by 280 votes. That's actually a fairly sizeable vote shift for a machine-recount, with most of the changes being attributed to "human error" in the original count in Republican-heavy Pinal County.

Hamadeh, like Lake, vows to continue to challenge the results. Nonetheless, Democrats in the state were sworn in to office for Governor, Sec. of State and Attorney General on January 1. Arizona's Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Kelly was sworn in for his first full six-year term today in D.C. after also winning election in the state in November, as the fall-out and disarray from the Trump Era for Republicans continues from D.C. to Phoenix and beyond.

Happy New Year!

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House J6 Committee's report details how the then-President's anti-Pence tweet was directed at, and likely to produce, 'imminent lawless action'...
By Ernest A. Canning on 12/28/2022 9:05am PT  

The violence was no accident. It was not a peaceful protest that spun out of control. Instead, as Rep. Elizabeth Cheney (R-WY) observed, in explaining her Jan. 11, 2021 vote to impeach, a then "President of the United States summoned the mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame for this attack." It was, by the former President's deliberate design, a violent insurrection.

In its Executive Summary [PDF] released last week, the bipartisan House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol amplified its referral to the U.S. Department of Justice for potential prosecution of former President Donald J. Trump et al. under provisions of 18 U.S.C. §2383 - Rebellion or Insurrection, which expressly applies to anyone who "incites" an insurrection.

"A Federal Court", the Committee observed, "has already concluded that President Trump's statements during his Ellipse speech were "plausibly words of incitement not protected by the First Amendment."

Those "words", uttered by the then President on January 6, 2021 at what was billed as a "Stop the Steal Rally" at the Ellipse near the White House, included 22 occasions in which Trump urged his supporters to "fight". He told them: "We fight like hell. And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore." Trump offered those words to an angry, armed mob gathered in D.C. that morning after his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, at the same rally, called for "trial by combat."

While not mentioned in the Committee report's Executive Summary, the video recordings of the rally reflect that, as the former President was speaking, the crowd chanted: "Fight for Trump! Fight for Trump!"

Trump knew those he'd summoned to Washington D.C. on Jan. 6 were both armed and dangerous. According to Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to then Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and one of the J6 Committee's star witnesses, Trump became irate when "thousands would not pass through the magnetometers" at the rally site, which had been erected by the Secret Service for his protection. She testified that the former President said: "I don't F'ing care that they have weapons. They're not here to hurt me."

Given the totality of the evidence assembled by the Committee over the past 18 months, detailing Trump's multifaceted effort to overturn and steal the election from the American people in order to retain the Presidency, a prosecutor would be well positioned to argue that, when Trump directed thousands of angry and armed supporters to move to the Capitol, he was extolling them to essentially carry out a violent coup and that the words uttered at the Ellipse were, indeed, "incitement" within the meaning of the Insurrection statute.

Indeed, his reported irate antics in response to his Secret Service detail's refusal to permit him to accompany the mob at the Capitol, suggests that the former President saw his own role as that of an insurrectionist Commander in Chief --- someone who could direct the actions of an armed mob that included members of extremist militias clad in tactical gear.

As defined by the U.S. Supreme Court in Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), however, speech is prohibited only where it is (1) "directed at inciting or producing imminent lawless action", and (2) "likely to incite or produce such action." [Emphasis added.]

That definition provides room for Trump's legal counsel to argue the former President merely told the crowd to "go to the Capitol"; that it wasn't an incitement to "imminent" violence.

However, that plausible defense evaporated on Jan. 6, 2021 at 2:24 p.m. when Trump tweeted...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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