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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, August 2, 2021
4th Surge and Callers on Why They Finally Got Vax'd (Or Still Haven't): 'BradCast' 8/2/21
Also: Biden's landmark infrastructure agenda takes another step forward in the Senate...
CANNING: The Legal Case for Compulsory Vaccinations
...and for patent waivers for life-saving innoculation drugs...
Sunday 'No Vaccine for Stupid' Toons
For whatever ails you, it's Pdiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons...
'American Fascism' Rising (But Not YET Unavoidable!): 'BradCast' 7/30/21
Guest: Author Brynn Tannehill; Also: Trump pushed DoJ to falsely claim 2020 election was 'corrupt'; Biden DoJ confirms IRS must give Trump tax docs to Congress...
Long Struggle for TX Voting Rights Laid Bare in U.S. House Hearing: 'BradCast' 7/29/21
Also: AZ GOP state Senate liaison UNresigns as 'botched' 2020 'audit' falls apart; Biden unveils new vax incentives as Delta surges...
'Green News Report' 7/29/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Infrastructure bill inches forward in Senate; FL slammed by massive, toxic red tide; Extreme heat curbing nuclear plant reliability; PLUS: OR enacts historic clean energy legislation...
Previous GNRs: 7/27/21 - 7/22/21 - Archives...
GOP's AZ Election 'Audit' Coming Apart at the Seams: 'BradCast' 7/28/21
Guest: John 'Bamboo' Brakey of AUDIT-USA; Also: Bipartisan Senators reach agreement on $1T infrastructure deal; Biden to require vax or tests for federal work force...
'A Cancer on Our Constitutional Republic': 'BradCast' 7/27/21
Harrowing testimony at first hearing of 1/6 Committee hearing; Also: More unvaccinated regrets, new CDC mask guidance as Delta variant rises...
'Green News Report' 7/27/21
London drowning; Middle East burning; Lake Powell's lowest level ever; PLUS: Study warns extreme heat will be much more frequent, costly...
L.A.s New 'Vote Centers' Make Recounts All But Impossible: 'BradCast' 7/26/21
Guest: Ian Patton of Long Beach Reform Coalition; Also: COVID deniers learn they were wrong...the hard way...
Sunday 'Gold Medal' Toons
PDiddie's latest, award-wanting collection of the week's best toons!...
Break Them Up! AntiTrust To the Rescue: 'BradCast' 7/23/21
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with author/journalist Cory Doctorow...
'Green News Report' 7/22/21
Catastrophic flooding in China; Health alerts from Western wildfires triggered as far as the East Coast; PLUS: Utility giant PG&E finally pledges to bury its power lines...
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: Media analyst Eric Boehlert of PRESS RUN; Also: Masks back on in L.A. County; Deadly climate change-fueled deluge in Germany...
By Brad Friedman on 7/16/2021 6:26pm PT  

If you are faint of heart or a Fox "News" viewer, please proceed with caution before listening to today's BradCast, as we mention the very very scary issue of "Critical Race Theory" on today's program. Please call 911 immediately if, at any time while listening, you find yourself hating white people or turning into a gay communist. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

With that warning out of the way (you're welcome!), we start today with a few less amusing matters. First, Los Angeles County is restoring its indoors mask mandate as of this weekend, due to a surge in COVID infections thanks to the Delta variant, largely affecting the unvaccinated.

Then, horrific flooding in Germany and elsewhere in Europe has resulted in a death toll topping 125 as we went to air, with hundreds still missing. Desi Doyen walks us through what happened and why and how, yes, this deadly deluge is related to climate change. In somewhat related news, she also explains some of the science behind the recent headlines you may have seen of late regarding a "moon wobble" that could result in serious flooding problems in coastal areas across the world in the years ahead, as sea level rise due to our climate crisis intensifies along with it.

Next up today, we're happy to lighten the mood. After outrage over Mr. Potato Head and Dr. Seuss failed to have the legs that Fox "News" and the Republican Party had hoped for, they've moved on to CRITICAL RACE THEORY(!!!) as the latest and greatest threat to our children, and life on Planet Earth itself. Since Joe Biden's inauguration, a recent study found, mentions of the obscure issue on Fox have at least doubled each month since. But, like most Americans --- and pretty much every Fox "News" viewer today --- you probably had no idea what Critical Race Theory actually was (and maybe still don't) until Fox started screaming about it and Republicans pretended to be outraged enough about it to actually pass First Amendment-defying laws to cancel its teaching in our schools.

(Fox would also appreciate, very much, if you'd run for your local school boards and demand they stop teaching it as well, before every good white person is "replaced" by a gay black Jewish communist...or something.)

Don't tell Fox or its easily duped viewers, but Critical Race Theory --- a decades old, largely obscure (until now), academic theory that (correctly) argues our nation's long history of systemic racism is now baked into our legal system, economy and society itself --- isn't actually taught in K-12 schools. It's barely taught in colleges and universities for that matter. But, if you turn on Fox "News" these days, you'll learn that it's actually a clear and present threat to our nation and that Joe Biden is now demanding every Kindergartner be indoctrinated to believe that white people are evil and America is bad. Or something.

Of course, all of this is as ridiculous as it sounds and something we have spent many weeks working hard not to waste your time on by covering it, because it's all so stupid. But, as longtime media critic and analyst ERIC BOEHLERT points out again this week in his PRESS RUN newsletter, when the Right gets angry, no matter the cause, non-wingnut media like the New York Times and Washington Post feel obligated to cover the faux fury. But on that, he argues on today's show, they are failing miserably in their coverage.

"The entire Republican Party is in on this," Boehlert explains. "This is how these phony outrages are created, and why the press pretends there's nothing they can do, they have to cover it. If you have the entire weight of the Republican Party, and the weight of a billion-dollar rightwing propaganda media empire and infrastructure all talking about the same thing, the press is defenseless."

"Yes, it is news that the Governor of Florida wants to ban the teaching of a topic in public schools," he rails. "What is also news, and what is also getting ignored, is that this topic is not taught in Florida schools! That should be the second paragraph of every one of these stories! "

"There have been hundreds of these stories. Most of the coverage doesn't even mention that Critical Race Theory is not taught in public schools!" Citing a recent 1,500 word story in the Times headlined "Why is the Country Panicking About Critical Race Theory?", Boehlert notes: "The country is not panicked. Trump voters and QAnon nut-jobs are. Most people don't know what Critical Race Theory is, they can't describe it, and people --- outside of that 30% [Fox] bubble --- are not panicked about it!"

"The real story --- if the press was being transparent and honest --- the real story is that this entire machinery has created this issue around a topic that must be banned, this kind of sorcery that they're depicting Critical Race Theory as, and it's not taught in a single school in this country. If I'm a reporter, and I look at that, I'd say, oh, I see the real story here!"

This sort of rightwing hoax, grievance culture, ginned-up outrage is meant, in this case, to somehow help Republicans in the 2022 mid-terms. It's nothing new. It's now the stock in trade for the post-governance Republican Party. So, how is it that the (theoretically) legitimate media can't seem to figure that out when they cover it? As you might guess, we've got plenty to talk to political media maven Boehlert about on today's program.

Just proceed with caution. We'd hate for anybody to be harmed during the listening of today's BradCast...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Dr. Brian Hughes of American University's PERIL; Also: Criminal charges soon for Trump Org?; DoJ sues GA for vote suppression; More on climate change effects on collapsed FL high-rise...
By Brad Friedman on 6/25/2021 6:30pm PT  

As usual in this country, we're dealing with the crisis all wrong. Violent domestic extremism --- domestic terrorism --- has become a public-health issue in this country, according to our guest today on The BradCast. If we treat it as such, it may not become the security problem that we're currently treating it as. We're good at law enforcement and security issues in this country. Public-health issues? Not so much. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up today, a few breaking news stories of note...

  • Several news outlets this afternoon are confirming that Donald Trump's family business could face criminal charges as soon as next week. Not Trump himself --- yet --- or his family members or other employees, but the Trump Organization itself. New York Times was first to report that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance could file criminal indictments next week against the Trump Organization, based on fringe benefits given to employees, such as expensive apartments, cars and school tuition for employee family members on which taxes were not properly paid. The Trump Org's CFO Allen Weisselberg and possibly his son, who also work for the company, seem to be targeted here. Both Vance and New York Attorney General Letitia James have been investigating whether the disgraced former President committed bank and tax fraud and whether he committed campaign finance felonies with hush-money payments to two different women before the 2016 election. It's believed that prosecutors are hoping that the company's longtime financial chief, Weisselberg, will flip against his boss. These charges are likely part of that effort.
  • Also today, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the filing of a federal lawsuit against the state of Georgia over it's expansive new voter-suppression law, SB202. Seven non-profit voting and civil rights organizations have filed separate complaints (including one, filed by the Coalition for Good Governance, in which I am a named plaintiff). But the big guns of a federal lawsuit by the DOJ suggest that the Biden Administration is taking seriously the spate of new laws being adopted by GOP-controlled legislatures around the country aimed at making it harder for Americans --- specifically, minorities --- to vote. Comments from Garland and his deputies in the Voting Rights Division today, when announcing the legal action, suggest there may be more such suits against other states coming soon as well.
  • Finally, before we get to our guest today, some additional information on a question we posed yesterday, as to whether rising seas due to human-caused climate change may have played a part in the tragic, deadly collapse of a 12-story high-rise condominium in Surfside, Florida near Miami Beach on Thursday. A number of experts have hinted at the possibility over the past 24 hours since our last show. One is a professor at the Florida International University’s Institute of Environment, speaking to CNN, citing the building's subsidence rate (how much it is sinking into the ground) during a study in the 1990s. And NBC News spoke to a number of experts who cited the towns along the sandy, reclaimed wetlands barrier island on which Miami Beach and Surfside stand --- an island which, we now understand, actually migrates and moves along with rising sea levels. One geologist quoted suggests that the necessity of a coastal retreat from barrier islands --- where currently $3 trillion worth of property is now located in the U.S. --- may soon be upon us. "It’s a tough conversation to have, but the building shouldn’t have been there --- along with a lot of other buildings," he says. "We’re due for a real awakening."

Next, it's on to the rise in violent domestic extremism, particularly fostered by White Supremacy in the wake of Donald Trump's presidency and the deadly, Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. After Republicans reneged on a deal with House Democrats to form an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the 1/6 attack, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week announced plans to create a House Select Committee to get to the root cause of what happened and why. During a House hearing this week, the nation's highest ranking military leader, Gen. Mark Milley, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, offered an impassioned response to criticism of interest in Critical Race Theory among military leadership, and the causes of "white rage", in which he spoke to the importance of learning "what is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America."

Our guest today, DR. BRIAN HUGHES of American University's Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab (PERIL), suggests Pelosi and Milley and "the Biden Administration's proposal for how to tackle domestic terrorism and extremism points in the right direction." Hughes' colleague, Cynthia Miller-Idriss, also of PERIL, recently penned an op-ed at The Atlantic arguing that far-right domestic extremism has now spread into the mainstream, and must be dealt with as more than simply a security and law-enforcement issue. It is no longer a matter of tracking specific organizations, but now a matter of radicalization by individuals "who are influenced by ideas online rather than by plots hatched by group leaders in secret gatherings," Miller-Idriss posits. It is now a public-health issue, she argues, and must be dealt with by a whole-of-society approach.

"We, as a society, are incredibly militarized, we're incredibly securitized, and so the solutions that we reach to, when we have a problem, are almost inevitably securitized or militarized and  contain some element of that securitization," Hughes explains today. "Our approach to extremism and terrorism is no different.  Certainly law enforcement and intelligence have a very important role to play here.  But it can never be more than a band-aid solution. As we see now, there aren't enough band-aids in the world to deal with the violence that this country is facing.  We really have to go deeper to the root causes of these issues."

Hughes cites the Biden Administration's proposal to incorporate the Dept. of Health and Human Services and the Dept. of Education into their initiative to take on violent extremism as "really, really critical. But even more critical is allocating resources to local communities.  The more locally we can distribute the necessary training, the necessary education, and the necessary funding to address radicalization before it even starts, the fewer of those security, and law enforcement, and militarized solutions that we're going to have to come up with in the future."

As we delve into details, we discuss ways that state and local communities must take on the issue as well. (The "seven minutes of reading to improve understanding of how radical ideas spread online," which we discuss as having helped some 750 parents and caregivers in a recent study by PERIL and the Southern Poverty Law Center is posted here.) We also discuss the paradox of how coming to a collective understanding of the effects of systemic racism in the U.S., as well as actions taken by social media companies to help curb the effectiveness of propaganda and far-right radicalism, can also serve to increase the "white rage" that new policies and new ways of facing this as a public-health issue are meant to counteract.

Hughes also shares his experience in working with former extremists and the "deep, deep sense of shame" and "horror" they ultimately experience after they come to terms with having been radicalized. "It just tears families apart. It absolutely ruins relationships as surely as drugs and alcohol do. This isn't just a matter of a person becoming a jerk. This is a question of a person blowing up their own life and the lives of the people around them." All of which is just part of the reason why we must rethink our approach to the problem as one of public-health.

As Hughes concedes, none of this is "going to change overnight," but there are ways that we can start taking action right now, particularly at the local level, where he urges people to get involved with their local school systems on this matter in order to prevent the radicalization long before it begins. "Request this kind of education, request these kinds of materials. Education happens at the local level in the United States, so it's really on all of us to improve things in our local communities."

I hope you'll tune in for this fascinating and insightful conversation...

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Guest: Legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern; Also: NYC mayoral primary will take weeks to tally by RCV system; Socialist wins upset in Buffalo mayoral primary; Dems 'not deterred' by GOP filibuster of voting rights bill...
By Brad Friedman on 6/23/2021 6:00pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The Republicans' stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court handed down a bunch of new decisions today. New York's primaries elections were very interesting in both NYC and Buffalo on Tuesday. And Congressional Democrats vow to fight on for voting rights after Senate Republicans, as expected, used the filibuster to block debate on protecting voting rights. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

First, on yesterday's primaries in NY, the race for Mayor in New York City featured almost 15 candidates. But, under the city's new Ranked Choice Voting system, as we explained on yesterday's program, it could take weeks before we are told who the winner is. Whether voters will have confidence in those results --- after weeks of the virtually-impossible-to-oversee RCV counting (and recounting) system --- is anyone's guess. For the moment, a fairly conservative law-and-order candidate, Eric Adams, leads the pack in the ongoing first round of tallying, with about 32 points. He's followed by progressives Maya Wiley and Kathryn Garcia with 22 and 19.5% each, respectively. Andrew Yang is in fourth place with almost 12% of the vote. As none of the candidates received more than 50 percent, however, the Ranked Choice tallying will soon begin. When it ends, and who wins, is anybody's guess. Yes, even though Yang conceded after his 4th place finish, he could still end up winning under the confusing RCV process. And the winner of the Democratic primary is almost certain to be the next Mayor of NYC.

Meanwhile, up in Buffalo, New York's second largest city, India Walton, a 39 year-old African American socialist with no experience in political office, unseated the city's four-term Democratic Mayor Byron Brown in a huge upset. If she wins the general in November, Walton will be the first socialist mayor of a major city since 1960, after unseating an incumbent Buffalo Mayor for the first time since 1961. Brown, however, reportedly is considering a write-in campaign this fall against Walton, given that there will be no Republican for her to face on this year's ballot in the heavily Democratic city.

Down in D.C. on Tuesday, the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate "won" the vote to proceed with debate on their sweeping elections, voting rights and campaign reform bill known as For the People, when all 50 Democrats stuck together to vote in favor. But they lost anyway, because Republicans, for their part, all voted against debating voting rights, even as state level GOP legislatures are adopting bills all across the country to restrict such rights. 60 votes would have been needed to overcome the Republican filibuster in the Senate, where Senators representing a tiny majority of Americans (about 20 percent, according to Ari Berman), have the ability to block any and all legislation offered by Democrats, whose 50 Senators represent some 43 million more Americans than those represented by the 50 Republicans in the upper chamber. Nonetheless, Majority Leader Schumer, President Biden and House Speaker Pelosi all vowed to fight on, with Pelosi announcing that Dems would "not be deterred"; Biden declaring "this fight is far from over"; and Schumer promising that Tuesday's vote "was the starting gun, not the finish line."

For any of that to be true, however, West Virginia's Joe Manchin and Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema, at the very least, would have to agree to change the rules for the Senate filibuster. Dems hope that voters may help convince them to do so over the Independence Day recess, given that For the People is supported by some 68% of American voters.

Next, we're joined by the always-great MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal reporter at Slate, to discuss, among other things, the decisions handed down today at SCOTUS, as the Court wraps up this year's term at the end of the week. Despite the 6 to 3 advantage for rightwingers on the Republicans' stolen and packed Supreme Court (because Republicans were more than willing to kill the filibuster in order to accomplish it!), Chief Justice John Roberts, once again, managed to produce largely consensus decisions on all but one of the opinions released today.

Among those opinions, as explained and analyzed by Stern, was a very troubling ruling that kneecaps union organizing rights across the country. That one, which Stern notes "is very over the top" and makes up "a completely new rule that did not exist before," was the one decided by the rightwingers' 6 to 3 vote. It continues the Roberts Court's relentless erosion of labor rights. But there were also reasonable decisions handed down on police powers to enter your home without a warrant and on a high school's punishment of a cheerleader who used the F-word on Snapchat over a weekend while she was in 9th grade. One other decision was also released today, allowing President Biden to replace Donald Trump's terrible director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which oversees mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

"There's enough credit to go around here," says Stern, in response to my question about whether Roberts deserves credit for some of the narrow decisions that were able to overcome a bitterly divided Court without causing too much damage to longstanding rights and precedent. "I think Chief Justice John Roberts is in the driver's seat on some of these compromise decisions. But I think that, to some degree, Justices Kavanaugh and Barrett are willing to go along, and so are the liberal justices. I think a lot of these decisions involve compromise on both sides. Some of them include some bitter pills for the left or the right to swallow, but at the end of the day, six justices are trying their best to duck the big issues, and issue really small decisions that don't ruffle too many feathers."

The fallout so far this term, the first with the GOP's 6 to 3 advantage, was "not as terrible as it could be." Though, Stern cautions, "It's not over yet. There are still some major decisions coming down the pike. And no matter what happens, we've still got next term with guns and abortion, of course."

The biggest decision this term, however, may be whether or not 82-year old Justice Stephen Breyer is going to step down to allow President Biden to nominate someone younger to fill his seat while Democrats hold the majority in the Senate, or whether he's going to pull a Ruth Bader Ginsburg and wait to leave the Court, one way or another, after Republicans have regained a majority in the upper chamber. Given that the Senate's Republican leader Mitch McConnell has already indicated he is unlikely to ever allow a Democratic President to fill a Supreme Court vacancy while Republicans hold a majority, we both hope that Breyer will take McConnell at his word, and get out now while the getting is still good.

As usual, it's another jam-packed BradCast. Enjoy!

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Guests: Salon's Heather Digby Parton, Pro Left Podcast's 'Driftglass'...
By Brad Friedman on 4/29/2021 5:46pm PT  

Last month on The BradCast, after Joe Biden signed his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan with emergency COVID relief and stimulus for the poor and middle class, we suggested that passage of that bill would likely be seen in history as the beginning of the end of the Reagan Era. Now, it appears, we're hardly the only ones. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Since that wildly popular landmark measure was adopted (without a single Republican vote), Biden has proposed a $2.25 trillion infrastructure package called the American Jobs Plan. And, on Wednesday night, he officially introduced his $1.8 trillion American Families Plan proposal for perhaps the nation's largest-ever investment in human infrastructure, including free access to pre-school, two years of community college, subsidies for child care, paid family leave, expanded health care subsidies and child tax credits and much more.

With Reaganesque optimism during his first address to a joint session of Congress, citing a statistic published in a report by one of our guests earlier this year (Chuck Collins of the Institute for Policy Studies) finding that just 650 billionaires in America saw their own net worth increase by a trillion dollars as 20 million Americans lost jobs during the pandemic, the President pounded what could become a final nail in the Reagan Era coffin, declaring: "My fellow Americans, trickle down economics has never worked and it's time to grow the economy from the bottom and the middle out."

We're joined today, on Biden's 100th day as President, by HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo, and by 'DRIFTGLASS' of the The Professional Left Podcast, for analysis of his stunningly-well received remarks (even by Republicans) on Wednesday night and his pitch for an extraordinarily bold and long-overdue government investment in the American people.

Says Digby, on how we arrived at this moment: "We've just been reminded that we need government, because look what happened. We had this pandemic and having the freak show that had been sort of entertaining like a horror show for the last four years, it suddenly became pretty clear what the problem was with that. Because when you really need government, it wasn't there. They were completely out to lunch. For a lot of people in this country, they're out their floundering under this trickle-down, rugged individualism. This is what it's like when you're left completely on your own."

Says Driftglass, mocking GOP rhetoric of the past forty years: "If you're not rich, it's your own fault, and the only thing standing in the way of being the best you is this evil government. [But] suddenly, a whole bunch of people absolutely have to have assistance from the government or their going to die, or go broke, or they're going to go out of business.  And the only thing Republicans had to offer was a sneer...So, there's this literally once-in-a-hundred years crisis, where the actual effect of good government is so visible, right now, that you can now make the case credibly that there are other large problems that we have ignored and disinvested in for decades that we need to fix."

Even for longtime, cynical, old-school progressive bloggers like us --- none of whom had supported Biden during last year's primaries --- we are all pleasantly taken aback at his remarkably ambitious plans and expansive proposed agenda. We discuss, dissect and debate all of that, how it should or shouldn't be "paid for", and whether any of it can possibly be adopted into law with the exceedingly narrow majorities Democrats currently hold in Congress on today's special coverage edition of The BradCast...

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Also: Genuinely good news from Mars; Good phone calls from listeners...
By Brad Friedman on 4/19/2021 6:05pm PT  

We open up the phones on today's BradCast for a bunch of very good calls, including from a teacher who was back for in-person instruction today for the first time in a year here in Los Angeles; a gun supporter who isn't insane, though we bicker a bit on his actual level of support for democracy as we succeed in finding some common ground; and a caller who survived a mass shooting in Oregon in 2013, among a number of other excellent calls from listeners today. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But first up today, before we get to the phones...

  • Some genuinely not divisive news (at least I think) regarding the first controlled flight of an aircraft on a planet other than Earth (that we know of). The Ingenuity helicopter alit above Mars today for its first test flight after arriving at the red planet hitched to the Perseverance rover. The flight was about 39 seconds in all, and traveled about 10 feet before landing at the newly-christened "Wright Field" on Mars, so named in honor of the Wright Brothers whose own first flight at Kitty Hawk, NC in 1903 was memorialized with a piece of wing fabric from the wings of that historic flight carried aboard the Ingenuity copter.
  • In only slightly more divisive news, President Biden made it official today, announcing that all adults over the age of 16 are now eligible for COVID vaccine shots in all 50 states (as well as D.C. and Puerto Rico). The date for that nation-wide rollout, announced two weeks ago, was moved up from Biden's originally planned deadline of May 1. The news also comes the day after the CDC announced that just over 50% of U.S. adults have now received at least one COVID shot, with 32.5% now fully vaccinated.
  • Next, if you're having trouble keeping up with the spate of one-after-another mass shootings of late, you're not alone. We try to get you all caught up on all of these horrific, arguably avoidable massacres today, including two that each took place over the weekend and took three lives each (one shooting was in Kenosha County, WI and the other, allegedly by a former police detective, in Austin, TX, a state which has seen at least three such incidents over the past month), as well as the latest news following the shooting by a 19-year old at a FedEx plant in Indianapolis that killed eight. In that case, the shooter had been visited last year by police after his mother called with concerns that he might commit "suicide by cop". His pump-action shotgun was confiscated under Indiana's red-flag law which allows officials to take weapons from someone considered to be a danger to themselves or others. But, somehow, the alleged shooter, who killed himself at the scene last Thursday, was able to legally purchase two semi-automatic rifles later last year anyway.

    Not that any of it matters, as long as NRA-funded Republicans, including Indiana's U.S. Senator Todd Young, are willing to pretend that this is a "mental health" issue (even as his party has spent the past decade trying to take such health care away from tens of millions of Americans) as opposed to a guns availability issue.

    In all, there were at least 9 such mass shootings over the past month, in Georgia, Colorado, Maryland, California, South Carolina, Texas, Indiana and Wisconsin. And yet, Republicans in the U.S. Senate, still doing the bidding of the terrorist-loving NRA, still refuse to allow any votes in the U.S. Senate on any gun safety measures. That includes even the lowest hanging fruit, such as closing background check loopholes which is even supported even by some 90% of NRA members (if not by their corrupt leadership).

  • Finally, we had so many folks calling in on all of the above, that I threw over my plans to discuss the outrageous and violent attacks on journalists (and their First Amendment rights) by the Minnesota State Police in Brooklyn Center, MN, where protests continue on the heels of last week's killing of Daunte Wright, a black motorist during a routine traffic stop, by a 26-veteran cop on the local police force.

    As noted, tune in today for some great calls --- all of which remained shockingly civil and arguably constructive --- from the teacher, the gun supporter, the mass shooting survivor and many more...

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Biden launches 'wartime effort' to tackle vaccine, testing and economic disaster left behind by Trump; Also: QAnon conspiracy followers sad, racist Proud Boys mad. Both abandoning Trump...
By Brad Friedman on 1/21/2021 7:05pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Now that the new Administration is actually inside the White House, the extent of the unspeakable mess left behind by the previous occupants are only just now beginning to come to light. [Audio link to show follows summary below.]

When it comes to the still-worsening COVID crisis --- just one of the several crises left for President Biden to clean up in the wake of the unprecedented failures of the Trump Administration --- apparently it's all much worse than feared. There was, reportedly, no coordinated effort in place at all to deal with national distribution of vaccines, nor to deal with the difficult task of safely reopening schools and businesses in hopes of reviving the still-worsening economic crisis that Trump and Congressional Republicans also left behind for the new Democratic Administration to clean up as well.

After yet another Democratic President is left to clean up yet another economic disaster following yet another Republican Administration, one might wonder why it is that Americans and many in the media continue to falsely suggest the GOP is the party of fiscal responsibility, when they are clearly the complete opposite. I've got a thought or two today on how that scam continues, year after year after year, despite actual facts to the contrary.

Among the many stories covered on today's program, as the "clean up on aisle 45" gets under way on the first full day of the new Biden Administration...

  • The new, weekly jobless claim numbers from the final week of Trump's Presidency are out today, and they are horrendous. Since the crisis began last March, for the 44th week in a row, they once again are hundreds of thousands of applications higher than the worst-ever week during the Great Recession. (Ya know...the last time a Dem Prez had to save the economy after a Republican Administration destroyed it.);
  • Perhaps you can take some comfort in the fact that at least Trump's own businesses are tanking as well, thanks to his fatally horrific decision to pretend the coronavirus was a hoax and to do nothing about it --- other than to make it far worse than it should have been;
  • Biden's first full day clean-up also included firing a number of wingnut Trumpers who had burrowed in at several Executive Branch agencies. One of them is the top lawyer at the National Labor Relations Board who is decidedly anti-labor!;
  • Meanwhile, in the nether-reaches of the Internet, there is much sadness, confusion and despondency. Adherents of the ridiculous QAnon conspiracy theory --- who believe that Democrats and "deep-staters" are secretly baby-eating, satanic, pedophiles (oh, like they're not!) and that Trump, as a super-genius, had a secret plan to round them all up, arrest them in mass and execute them at the Inauguration, before reclaiming his rightful second term --- are disappointed today for some odd reason and have reportedly "lost all hope". Turns out that, after none of that actually happened, as promised by "Q" for years, the QAnon dupes and stooges are only now beginning to realize they may have been played for suckers all along;
  • Also newly disappointed of late by their former hero, Donald Trump, is the rightwing racist street gang Proud Boys. Following Trump selling them out after the January 6th U.S. Capitol riots, many in the extremist hate-group seem to have decided the former President is a "shill", "extraordinarily weak" and "a total failure". (SAD!);
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with more news on Biden's efforts to clean up and reverse scores of anti-environmental regulations and actions taken by the previous Administration, and on renewed hopes for the revival of real climate action by the U.S. Government...if a few questionable Dems in the Senate play along...

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Also: Courts continue to save nation on COVID dangers, voting, more...
By Brad Friedman on 8/25/2020 6:28pm PT  

I'll be brief in today's BradCast summary, because I've got to head back into Day 2 of the bizarre dystopian nightmare known as Donald Trump's Republican National Convention. We're watching it so you don't have to. You're welcome. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

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

  • Two nightmare storms slamming the Gulf Coast in the same week as the biggest and more dangerous of the two, Hurricane Laura, is gunning for the Louisiana/Texas border, likely as a Category 3;
  • A Florida judge puts the brakes on Gov. Ron DeSantis' demand that all public schools open five days a week for in-person classes by the end of this month. He says the state's plan "disregards safety" amid a still roiling --- if slightly easing (for now) --- pandemic in the Sunshine State;
  • Highlights (low lights?) from Day 1 of the RNC, in which every speaker sounded as if their remarks were either written by the same person, or simply ripped straight off of Fox "News". As ridiculous as the evening was --- featuring enough dangerous lies about Trump's mishandling of the COVID crisis that MSNBC had to break in with a doctor for some serious fact-checking; a couple of accused felons warned Democrats will "“abolish the suburbs altogether"; a seemingly stoned Don Jr. and his seemingly insane former Fox "News" host girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle --- we determined that ridicule was the best was to cover it. So we called in Stephen Colbert for some assistance.
  • Good news, for now, for voters in Pennsylvania. A Trump-appointed federal judge forced the Trump Campaign to make fools of themselves by demanding they present evidence of voter fraud via secure absentee ballot drop-boxes in Pennsylvania, where they are suing to prevent the use of the convenient devices during this year's general election. The plaintiffs were unable to to present any such evidence.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with more on the twin storms pummeling the Gulf Coast and the raging fires in California (both amid a global pandemic making evacuating shelters very tricky for social distancing), the Trump Administration puts a pause on it's approval for the controversial Pebble Mine in Alaska after Don Jr. and Fox "News" decide maybe they're against it after all, and a quick review of last week's virtual Democratic National Convention where Joe Biden and many others promised action on climate change...

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Plus 'back to school' with listener calls, as it all goes from bad to worse...
By Brad Friedman on 8/10/2020 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: This is not a drill. In my nearly-two decades of covering elections, I've never been as concerned about attempts to undermine an election than I now am regarding this year's Presidential election on November 3rd. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Last Friday's BradCast interview with American Postal Worker Union President Mark Dimondstein, regarding the mandates by Louis DeJoy, Trump's newly-appointed Postmaster General, to slow down the mail "everywhere" --- and DeJoy's Friday Night Massacre that took place moments after we got off air --- are just some of the huge reasons for my concern. Please make sure that you are prepared, well in advance, for this year's election, and that you know how to not only receive a Vote-by-Mail ballot, as necessary for many due to the pandemic, but that you know what the deadlines are for registering to vote, requesting a VBM ballot, and where and how to drop it off IN PERSON, so your ballot doesn't get lost in Trump's USPS slowdown. Once you've learned all of that, please make sure everyone you know does the same. Ernie Canning has written a helpful article at Bradblog.com with some important related tips, and 2020VotersCalendar.org is a very helpful new website resource with specific information along these lines for voters in each of the 50 states.

Over the weekend, Puerto Rico's primary was a disaster, as ballots did not arrive at all --- or far too late for many to vote --- in 50 out of 110 voting centers across the island. A second make-up election is now being planned, hopefully, for next Sunday. If something like that happens on November 3rd, of course, all may be lost.

In the meantime, just days after Donald Trump falsely claimed that children were "almost immune" to the coronavirus, a new report finds that nearly 100,000 children in the US tested positive for it in just the last two weeks of July alone. That's a 40% increase in child coronavirus cases during those two weeks in the U.s. jurisdictions researchers examined. At least 86 children have died from COVID-19 since May, the report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association also finds, including a 7-year old with no pre-existing conditions in Georgia last week.

This coincides with the mind-boggling push by Trump to reopen schools for in-person classes immediately, as a number of states run by Trumpy Governors press forward with plans to do so. One such state is Georgia, where some schools opened for the new term already last week and saw photos of crowded hallways and maskless children go viral on social media almost immediately (before suspending the student who posted them). Now that same school is returning to distance learning this week after six students and three staff members at the school tested positive. Other school districts in the state reported even worse numbers.

In Florida, where two teenagers have died so far this month, at least 12 counties are reopening schools this week, more than 17% of tests are now coming back positive. The CDC recommends schools only reopen where the positive test rate is lower than 5%, yet at least 9 of the 12 school districts planning to open in the Sunshine State are currently seeing rates much higher than that. That, as nearly 165,000 are confirmed to have died from COVID in the U.S. and new data from the CDC finds 200,000 more deaths since mid-March than would normally be expected at this time of year, based on recent trends before the pandemic.

As bad as its all getting, the White House appears unwilling to compromise with Democrats on a new COVID emergency relief bill, despite tens of millions of Americans who saw their expanded federal unemployment benefits from an earlier relief bill expire at the end of July. In response, rather than negotiate or demonstrate the art of his pretend deal-making prowess, Trump spent the weekend playing golf and signed one Executive Order and three Executive Memos that pretend to do a whole bunch of stuff that they actually don't and are most likely unconstitutional to boot. One of his executive actions, to temporarily defer payroll taxes for those who are working (the taxes will have to paid at the end of the year instead), would actually cut funding to Social Security and Medicare. Another would take money from FEMA to restore some of the expanded unemployment benefits, but slash them by a third, prevent them from being paid to the lowest-income earners, and require cash-strapped states pay 25% percent of the expanded payments.

Yet, there is no effort in his executive actions to bailout states and cities who are now completely out of money due to their COVID-related crash in revenues. Many couldn't help fund the expanded unemployment even if they wanted to. Similarly, there is no effort to fund the Post Office with the $25 billion that its GOP-dominated Board of Governors has requested to keep the USPS running. And no effort to give $4 billion to election officials around the country to help upgrade their systems to help manage the huge influx of absentee voting due to COVID or even to help make in-person voting safer, as election officials across the country have long sought.

In short, the weekend's news was terrible and the news ahead is likely to get nothing but worse for a while. But we thought you should know it, since the President of the United States --- who said his executive actions this weekend "will take care of pretty much this entire situation, as we know it" --- continues lying to the nation in hopes that it will somehow help him get reelected. It won't. But stealing the election remains completely on the table and actively under way.

Finally, we open up the phones to callers on all of the above. And, though I specifically asked several times, I couldn't seem to find one listener willing to call in and explain why they would be happy to send their kids back to in-person classes right now. Go figure.

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Guest: Media Matters' Zachary Pleat; Also: If MLB can't avoid COVID, how's your local school district going to?; Trump's pathetic Fauci envy...
By Brad Friedman on 7/28/2020 6:44pm PT  

We're getting our sea legs back n today's BradCast, after a few days off (thanks, Nicole Sandler for filling in for us!) Luckily it's been a slow few new days since we last spoke. Sigh... [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Anyway, among the stories covered on today's program...

  • How pathetic is malignant narcissist, Donald Trump? So pathetic that he completely made up an invitation to throw out the first pitch at a Yankees game after the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, was invited to toss the first pitch at the Washington Nationals' home opener last week;
  • Well, that didn't take long. Now 17 members of the Florida Marlins are said to be infected with the coronavirus, leading Major League Baseball to suspend the Marlins' season through at least this Sunday along with the cancellation of three games this week between the Yankees and Phillies. All of this comes just days after MLB opened for a truncated 60 game season. They didn't make it past Day 3 without an outbreak;
  • If MLB and its billions of dollars can't keep its player safe, how do you suppose your local school district is gonna fare next month if they are ordered to re-open for in-person classes? That is still the plan for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis who is bravely risking the lives of his state's children and their teachers in hopes that somehow that will help Donald Trump get re-elected in 98 days. We wonder if he's noticed that the infection and hospitalization rate for KIDS in the hot-spot Sunshine State is now exploding, with more than 31,000 cases of COVID-19 for Floridians under the age of 18 as of late last week --- a 34% increase in cases and a 23% increase in hospitalizations since the week prior. More than 300 children in Florida are now hospitalized with the virus, with one-third of them between the ages of 14 and 17, and 67 cases of hospitalization for those younger than one year old. That, after Donald Trump told the nation last week at a White House coronavirus briefing that school age kids "don’t catch it easily; they don’t bring it home easily";
  • Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, the nation's most corrupt Attorney General in history, Bill Barr, testified for the first time ever before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, as federal troops wreak chaos on American streets and after interceding in criminal cases on behalf of Trump's convicted felon friends, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and GOP dirty trickster Roger Stone. Both were found guilty of lying to federal investigators during Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. It was a contentious hearing that seems to have accomplished little. Though it did include a moment when Barr, who pretended to be concerned about the rule of law, seemed to suggest it might be just fine for the President to solicit and/or accept foreign assistance in an election. For the record, that remains illegal --- at least for those who actually do care about the rule of law --- whether Barr actually enforces such things or not;
  • Then, the disinformation wars continue, as led by the President of the United States and his more-than-willing accomplices. One of which, naturally, is his eldest son and namesake Don Jr., who ended up in "Twitter Jail" today for retweeting a video by Breitbart "News" that Twitter, Facebook and YouTube consider to be "false information about cures and treatments for COVID-19."
  • But, of course, Trump Sr. has many such accomplices in the rightwing media. Unfortunately, that isn't limited only to wingnut propaganda cable channels like Fox "News" or Internet propaganda outlets like Breitbart. It also includes the second largest owner of local television stations in the nation. Late last week Sinclair Broadcasting Group, which is allowed to own nearly 200 local stations in more than 100 markets, was shamed into temporarily pulling an episode of American This Week, as hosted by disgraced and fired Fox "News" personality Eric Bolling. (While texting unsolicited photos of one's genitalia is apparently enough to get ya fired by Fox, Sinclair doesn't seem to mind it all!)

    The episode in question featured an interview with a dubious, self-proclaimed "expert in virology" who, among other thing, claims that wearing a mask causes COVID-19, that Dr. Fauci "manufactured" the virus and sent it to Wuhan, China for some reason, and that an eventual coronavirus vaccine will "kill millions". After light was spread on the false claims featured in the episode, Sinclair pulled it for retooling. Today, CNN reports, they will not be airing it at all anymore. The Media Matters Senior Researcher who first exposed the Sinclair conspiracy propaganda, ZACHARY PLEAT, joins us on today's show to explain what happened and why Sinclair's pro-Trump propaganda --- hidden in plain sight, often coming out of the mouths of your favorite trusted local news anchors --- is arguably more insidious than even Fox "News".

    Moreover, that rightwing propaganda is being spread over OUR PUBLIC AIRWAVES in dozens of mostly southern and midwestern states across the country, on stations owned by Sinclair with frequencies licensed (for free) to them by the federal government in exchange for serving "in the public interest". Hopefully the FCC, during the next Administration, will take a long hard look at Sinclair's licensing agreements next time they come up for renewal;

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with two surprise hurricanes in two different U.S. states over just one weekend; more environmental destruction by the Trump Administration on (hopefully) their way out the door; and the installation of the world's largest battery now set to power tens of thousands of homes with clean, renewable energy in Southern California...

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RNC cancelled in FL; Another COVID breakout at White House; FL Guv wobbles on school reopening; Jobless claims continue to break records; Congressional GOP in disarray over emergency relief; Trump's federal storm troopers tear gas Portland mayor; And too much more!...
By Brad Friedman on 7/23/2020 6:47pm PT  

It was some weeks ago that we warned listeners to "buckle up" for what was to come over the next several month in the lead up to Election Day (and for whatever nightmares are likely to come thereafter). Today's BradCast provides ample evidence that we were right to issue that warning --- which remains in effect for the foreseeable future. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

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

  • Breaking at top of show - Trump cancels plans for Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, Florida due to out-of-control coronavirus surge in the Sunshine State. That, after previously moving the convention from Charlotte, North Carolina because the state's Democratic Governor wouldn't allow a maskless deathtrap convention;
  • Federal Judge orders former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to be released from prison, citing "retaliation" by the federal government after he was removed from home detention and locked back up for refusing to sign a document vowing he wouldn't write a book or speak to the media about Trump. Cohen had previously been furloughed from prison and placed into home detention after one year of his three year sentence for lying to Congress to protect Donald Trump and participating in a hush-money conspiracy "directed" by the President, according to both him and federal prosecutors. Trump remains uncharged and at large despite running the conspiracy Cohen was imprisoned for in paying off porn star Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal to keep quiet before the 2016 election sexual affairs with Trump. The judge excoriated the DoJ and Bureau of Prisons for violating Cohen's First Amendment right to free speech;
  • Trump sycophant and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis finally begins to wobble on his demand that schools in the state reopen next month for five days a week in-person classes, despite explosion of coronavirus cases. Tells Fox "News" that parents should have the "option" of sending kids to class, but offers no such "option" to teachers, whose union is now suing DeSantis;
  • Republicans are in disarray in Congress and at the White House after denying (for months) the need for additional emergency economic relief amid the pandemic. That, as expanded unemployment benefits --- one of the few actions taken by Congress that has successfully helped to avoid a complete economic collapse over the past 6 months --- are set to run out at week's end;
  • Breaking mid-show - New Fox "News" poll finds Joe Biden leading Trump, beyond the margin of error, in the key battleground states of Michigan (by 9 points) , Minnesota (by 13 points) and Pennsylvania (by 11 points);
  • Portland, Oregon Mayor Ted Wheeler was among those tear-gassed by Donald Trump's federal stormtroopers on Wednesday night. The Mayor, whose local police force had previously tear-gassed protesters who have been gathering nightly for more than a month following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, now claims to be rethinking his own tactics while decrying "flat out urban warfare, being brought on the people of this country by the President of the United States";
  • In response to the violence being perpetrated by Trump's federal goon squad, John McCain's former Campaign Manager and longtime Republican campaign consultant Steve Schmidt unleashes a Twitter thread calling for Congressional investigations, cites Trump's use of the military against phony threats by "caravans" at the U.S. southern border before the 2018 election, and compares Trump's tactics, applauded by rightwing media, to those of Hitler's Nazi brownshirts;
  • Finally, a delightfully light-hearted Green News Report with Desi Doyen! Sort of. Other than a story about cow farts and Burger King, we also highlight the stunning arrest this week of Ohio's Republican House Speaker Larry Householder, nabbed as the ringleader of a $61 million conspiracy to funnel a $150 billion bailout to utility company FirstEnergy to prop up two failing nuclear plants and two aging, hyper-polluting coal plants at the expense of the state's rate-payers and renewable energy and efficiency initiatives in the Buckeye State. In a quick follow-up today, the company's stock price has plunged following the federal arrests this week, but questions remain about the company's own complicity in the scheme and the involvement of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine in last year's passage of HB6, the controversial boondoggle of a bill that resulted in Householder lining his pockets with millions in dark money from FirstEnergy and other utility company interests.

Hopefully your seatbelt is still on and will remain locked and in place until the chaos comes to a complete and full stop...if it ever does...

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Guest: Constitutional attorney Thomas Wolf of Brennan Center's Democracy Program; Also: America STRONGLY against Trump school reopening plan during COVID surge; And, Kris Kobach for Senate!
By Brad Friedman on 7/22/2020 7:00pm PT  

On today's BradCast: the COVID crisis continues to get worse, Americans wise up on reopening schools, potential hope for Kansas, and Donald Trump becomes a laughing stock. Again. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Last week, during his rambling, wildly political Rose Garden "press conference" (it was really a political rally), Trump promised that over the next eight weeks, we would be seeing "things that nobody has even contemplated, thought about, thought possible," and that "nobody's ever going to see eight weeks like we're going to have." While, I think it was meant as a rallying cry for a bunch of initiatives he plans to pretend to invoke during desperate days in advance of the November election, it sure sounded like a threat to me. Either way, we suspect he's right about what we will see. He suggested he would be "taking on immigration, taking on education" and that it all would start "some time on Tuesday."

On Tuesday, Trump unveiled something that had to do with immigration, which we discuss with our guest today (see below). As to "taking on education", that part remains somewhat less clear. But if it has to do with insisting that school kids go back to in-person classes next month in the middle of a deadly and worsening pandemic, the American people are decidedly not with him on that one. A new poll out today from AP/NORC finds that just 8% of Americans believe K-12 schools should reopen this Fall for normal, in-person instruction. Nonetheless, Trump is still threatening to take away federal money for special ed to those schools who do not obey his command.

That command is still in place --- and being ignored by most of the nation's largest school districts --- as more than 1,000 Americans died from COVID-related illnesses on Tuesday alone. It was the first time since May that that has happened, as mountains of evidence --- including 59,000 hospitalizations on Tuesday --- underscore, yet again, that the U.S. is headed in decidedly the wrong direction in dealing with the crisis. These will be a very difficult eight weeks indeed. There are fifteen weeks until the November 3rd Presidential election.

And, speaking of elections, state primaries are still ongoing, with statewide contests in Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washingtonstate coming up on August 4th. We take some time to focus on Kansas today, where notoriously failed GOP "voter fraud" fraudster and the state's former Sec. of State Kris Kobach is running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, in hopes of filling the seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Pat Roberts. It has been an embarrassing few days for Kobach, after his friend Rep. Steve Watkins was indicted last week on 3 felony counts and 1 misdemeanor charge related to voter fraud. As we reported last week, Watkins was charged for doing precisely what Donald Trump did. He unlawfully registered to vote at an address where he did not live, and then he unlawfully voted in an election using that unlawful address. Watkins has been indicted in Kansas. Trump is still a Florida voter fraud criminal at large at this hour.

Kobach, who built his entire two-term career as Sec. of State by promising to stamp out rampant "voter fraud" in Kansas by Democrats and non-citizens, was able to bring only 15 prosecutions during his eight years in office, obtaining convictions on fewer than 10 of them, with nobody receiving any jail time. Virtually all of the convictions were against people who voted twice in two separate states, because they owned homes in both, with many not realizing that was against the law. Nonetheless, Kobach prosecuted people who did the same thing that Watkins (and Trump) did. But, when asked by the Kansas City Star for comment after Watkins' indictment, Kobach offered a bizarre reason why he disagreed with the charges.

All of which helps underscore the fact that the fraud Kobach --- after losing to a Democrat during his 2018 run for Governor in Kansas --- is now hoping to secure the GOP nomination for the Senate. He is running in a field of 11 candidates seeking the honor and we completely endorse him! So, apparently, does his presumptive Democratic challenger, Barbara Bollier, who, in the second quarter of this year, according to AP, "raised almost $1.3 million more than the top-tier Republican primary candidates combined."

Could a Democrat actually flip the Kansas Senate seat from "red" to "blue" this year for the first time since 1932? Bollier was a moderate Republican until she became so embarrassed by Trump and her own party that she became a Democrat at the end of 2018. We'll will find out in about 15 weeks. But a Kobach win in the August 4th primary would certainly help, as Kobach is far "too conservative" for Kansas.

Finally, back to Trump's promise to "take on immigration" on Tuesday, when he unveiled an Executive Memorandum (not an Executive Order, but a memo...not sure if he knows the difference), declaring it to be the position of the United States that immigrants in this country should not be counted when determining the next Congressional apportionment that is to occur after the completion of the 2020 Census. That, despite the very plain language of the 14th Amendment which reads: "Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state".

We're joined today by Constitutional law expert THOMAS WOLF of Brennan Center's Democracy Program, where he specializes in the Census, redistricting, and immigrant rights. He tells me, quite bluntly, that "the memorandum [issued by Trump] is not worth the paper its printed on. The Constitution's plain text is very clear: every person counts. 'Persons' means persons and 'persons' means everyone. That means that everyone is to be counted."

Even Bill Barr, when he was Attorney General the first time, back in 1989, agreed!

"The memorandum that President Trump issued yesterday," Wolf continues, "assumes that President Trump has the power to decide who counts and who doesn't. Unfortunately for him, but fortunately for the rest of the country, the Constitution has already made that decision for him, and the Constitution decided that all people count."

In case he was unclear about that, Wolf adds later: "From the top, there is no legitimacy to this order." But, if so, what was the point of Trump issuing the memo that obviously tries to reverse the 14th Amendment adopted during Reconstruction to do away with the Constitution's previous clause declaring that some people in America --- slaves --- were to be counted by the Constitutionally-mandated decennial Census as three-fifths of a person? Wolf offers insight and answers to that question, as well as how to help counter Trump's plan which, as he notes, "is so patently unconstitutional, it's astonishing."

(Hint: One of the ways to counter it, argues Wolf, is to "Get counted! That's how we push back against this." If your household has yet to do so, please go and fill out a Census form today at 2020Census.gov!)

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SCOTUS blocks 1.4M potential new voters in FL; Tough choice for TX voters diagnosed with COVID; Absentee ballots returned to Dallas voters; MI court blocks counting of tens of thousands of mail-in ballots...
By Brad Friedman on 7/16/2020 6:51pm PT  

I'm calling them Democracy Wars today. But I could just as easy call them Infinity Wars --- as the fight by so many for the right to vote and the fight by others to prevent them from voting at all --- never seems to end. But the name Infinity War may already be otherwise spoken for. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

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

  • A couple in Ohio sends their kids to summer camp, with masks and social distancing in an area of the country with a very low infection rate. Days later, predictably, COVID breaks out at camp, kids and counselors get sick, everyone becomes terrified, overwhelmed and is quarantining. Just a preview of what you will begin to see when/if schools are ordered to prematurely reopen for in-person classes as soon as next month, as Trump and his Republicans are pushing for;
  • In Texas, Republicans recently went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to make sure only voters over 65 or those actively infected with COVID can vote by absentee ballot (with a doctor's order). Last Tuesday, the Lone Star state held its primary runoffs, but 68,0000 Texans were diagnosed with the virus after the deadline for registering to vote absentee and before the actual election. How many of them were then forced to endanger everyone else at the polling place or lose their right to vote? One couple's story of the difficult choices they were forced to make after recently contracting the virus after the deadline, and the nightmares they confronted in order to try and safely cast a vote (or not) under the state's absurdly restrictive absentee ballot laws;
  • The U.S. Supreme Court blocks a compromise today by a U.S. District Court judge in Florida that would have allowed as many as 1.4 million former felons to register to vote this year, after the state's Republican Governor and legislature passed a law to undermine the state constitutional amendment, adopted statewide in 2018 by an overwhelming 65 to 35 percent of the vote, to allow exactly what the GOP is now blocking. Hundreds of thousands will not be able to vote in the state's August primary, thanks to the stolen Republican majority at SCOTUS. That voter suppression may continue in the Sunshine State even through November's critical Presidential Election unless the new Republican majority on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals works very quickly. But why would they? Expect much more of this between now and November. And it's a good time to familiarize yourself with the absurd, so-called "Purcell Principle", if you haven't already;
  • A three judge panel on a state court in Michigan, by a vote of 2 to 1 this week, has ruled that absentee ballots which arrive after the close of polls may not be counted. That, after voters expanded absentee voting via a statewide Constructional ballot measure in 2018 that allowed for voters to vote by mail during the 40 days prior to an election. If not overturned by the state Supreme Court, the ruling --- which seems wildly wrong on the law --- could result in tens of thousands of votes, cast and postmarked by Election Day, not being counted in November, in a state which Trump is said to have won by just over 10,000 votes in 2016. (That's especially troubling given this week's directive from Donald Trump's new Postmaster General to all USPS postal workers to slow mail delivery down, please!);
  • And then, quickly back to Texas, where absentee voters, prior to Tuesday's Primary Runoff Election Day, were mysteriously receiving their voted and mailed ballots back in the mail, for reasons still unknown;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as Joe Biden announces a major progressive proposal to fight climate change and create millions of jobs, while Donald Trump rolls back yet another landmark environmental law.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: High School senior Shourya Seth, COO of Project Paralink; Also: Admin's top-to-bottom failures in managing COVID crisis continue; Biden proposes 100% carbon-free power by 2035, millions of jobs with it...
By Brad Friedman on 7/14/2020 6:55pm PT  

On today's BradCast: How bad is Donald Trump's Administration response to the COVID-19 crisis? Bad enough that "a guerrilla network" of high school kids seem to be doing a better job of getting some much-needed life-saving protective gear to medical workers than the federal government itself, at least in one state so far. [Audio link to show follows below.]

If you tried to fail any worse than the Trump Administration and his GOP acolyte Governors around the nation (Hello, Florida's Gov. Ron DeSantis!), you'd be hard-pressed to fail as thoroughly as Trump has managed to, in virtually every aspect of the COVID-19 crisis. His deadly incompetence is continuing to help drive up infection rates, hospitalization rates and deaths in the U.S., even now, some five months into the pandemic. In Florida, the state's incompetent and very Trumpy Governor is at least finally admitting that they do not have nearly enough rapid tests to keep up with the explosion of new cases in the state after DeSantis reopened opened businesses far too early in the spring. But, even as FL hit a national record on Sunday of 15,300 newly confirmed cases in a single day on Sunday (more than most entire nations!), he continues to keep hospitalization rates a secret, despite promising last week to begin reporting them transparently to the public.

For their part, the Trump Administration is at least pulling back on one element of their shambolic crisis management. After being sued by 17 states this week, the Administration has walked back its vow to withdraw visas from foreign exchange students attending schools which refuse to open their classrooms to deadly in-person classes five days a week beginning next month. Other than that, the Administration response continues to go from horrific to even more horrific, if that's even imaginable.

NBC News reports today that, according to internal Health and Human Services documents they've obtained, shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) persist across the country as cases and hospitalizations and death rates continue to surge in major metropolitan cities and rural areas alike. The Strategic National Stockpile and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are still only able to fulfill about 30% of the requests for PPE for front-line medical and long-term care facility workers across the country, according to the federal documents, despite the President's ability to invoke the Defense Production Act to commandeer manufacturing facilities to meet the nation's needs.

Meanwhile, some high school kids in Atlanta, Georgia have taken it upon themselves to actually do something about the problem. We're joined today by SHOURYA SETH, high school senior and Chief Operating Officer for Project Paralink, a grassroots organization built with his friends to combat the coronavirus pandemic with the decentralized production producing and distribution of PPE to health workers. So far, they've managed to manufacture and donate more than 420,000 units of PPE, from face-shields to masks to more than 1,500 locations.

They've also gained some corporate support for their efforts, which are now joined by nearly 1,000 volunteers in the work to distribute much-needed protective gear in at least four states, to date. Seth says they have distributed to Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and Alabama, though he tells me today they've recently begun working with California, New York, New Mexico and the Navajo Nation as well, for what they describe as "decentralization for social good" and "localized disaster relief".

Recently, he explains, "some hospitals had gone back to the position where they were only left with one week of supplies. And it was just, you know, really frustrating to see that the federal government was not doing anything about it." The project's ultimate goal, Seth explains, is to replace, or at least augment, FEMA's efforts with "Parapod Relief Stockpiles" all over the nation. He describes the project as "a guerrilla network of sorts [to] get the PPE supplies delivered faster than the federal supply chain." He also tells me that Paralink has already even outpaced FEMA in at least one respect in Georgia.

"Recently we actually passed FEMA in the donation of face shields," says Seth. "We didn't really see any coordination, at least on the gubernatorial level or the city level. On June 11th, FEMA put out a public press release, giving out state-by-state PPE data. When we looked at Georgia, what we found out was that FEMA had, at that time, only been able to produce 189,000 face shields, while we had been able to produce 370,000 face shields, essentially doubling the output. And the funny part is, some of the donations we made were to FEMA! So while we had been overproducing we had also been donating to FEMA!"

Seth tells us how how the project came about as an effort to improve food delivery logistics before the COVID crisis struck. They then decided to modify their algorithms to turn to PPE manufacturing and delivery.

"Just before the surge of cases, we started to notice a very, very slow downward trend in the cases. And we realized a lot of people, like Dr. Fauci, were talking about a second wave of the pandemic coming during the winter. We wanted to create the stockpiles in states to prepare for the future," he says. "A lot of the Republican-controlled state governments were ignoring those warnings, but we understood according to virologists, according to common sense, the cases were going to rise again." So, they sprung into action.

Seth also offers his own feelings about whether schools should be opened for in-person classes, as the Administration is now insisting upon, and asks for your help in growing the project. "If you have any sort of questions, inquiries, or ways that you can help us out, reach out to us!"

So, if you're worried about the next generation, today's conversation is likely to make you feel much better about their ability to handle --- and fix --- so much that we've already screwed up for them.

Then, another bit of encouraging and progressive news, this time from the Joe Biden Campaign today. The presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee announced a massive climate plan aimed at combating climate change and spurring economic growth by overhauling America's energy industry with a proposal to achieve carbon-free renewable power across the entire country by 2035. The ambitious plan echoes that offered during the Democratic primary campaign by then rival Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington state. The ambitious progressive plan would more than doubles the resources and halve the time-frame that Biden had previously proposed during the campaign. The effort to tackle our climate crisis would also, as Desi Doyen explains today, serve as a massive infrastructure jobs engine to help the U.S. climb out of the pandemic, it's accompanying economic crisis, and systemic racism, as the proposal requires that 40 percent of the money spent on clean energy deployment goes to historically disadvantaged front line communities, which have been among the worst and first victims of the climate crisis. It's a New Deal-like proposal that some might even call a Green New Deal --- if that phrase didn't startle delicate Republicans so.

Finally, we close with our latest Green News Report, as the nation attempts to deal with an extended extreme heat wave amidst our coronavirus crisis; as oil and gas companies go belly up, while both leaving environmental disasters for tax-payers to clean up and making sure their executives get huge bonuses on the way out the door; and as one venerable environmental group goes all in on ad buys highlighting Trump's deadly, parallel denial of both COVID-19 and climate change...

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Record surges in FL, TX, elsewhere; CA Guv re-closes bars, restaurants, churches, gyms, salons; Callers ring in on Trump's 'genocide'...
By Brad Friedman on 7/13/2020 6:14pm PT  

We raise a whole bunch of topics and news from the weekend for conversation with listeners on The BradCast today, but most wanted to only to discuss the Trump Administration's twisted demand that schools reopen next month for in-person classes, even as COVID-19 cases are now exploding around the country. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Florida, on Sunday, reported a record 15,300 cases. That's a larger single day record than any state in the nation. It is more than either California at its recent peak or New York at its peak back in April. The news of Florida's quickly worsening crisis comes just days after the state announced that all schools in Florida must reopen for in-person classes for all, five days a week, despite concerns expressed by local school officials.

As Florida shattered the national record, many states, most controlled by Republican Governors, continue to hit new seven-day rolling average records of new cases (even as testing plateaus or even decreases in some states), California, with its Democratic Governor is spiking as well. Governor Gavin Newsom in the Golden State on Monday declared that bars, indoor dining at restaurants, hair and nail salons, churches and gyms would all be shut down again in counties that are the hardest hit. Los Angeles and San Diego County both announced that the school year will reopen with remote learning instead of in-person classes, to the great relief of teachers who are, overwhelmingly, against reopening school campuses.

Donald Trump's Secretary of Education, meanwhile, appeared (poorly) on the Sunday news shows, to insist that schools must reopen, or face lost federal funding, while admitting she has absolutely no federal plan for what do when coronavirus spikes occur. That, she said, should be left to local officials --- the same local officials that she and Trump are hoping to force to reopen schools next month, even as a new Kaiser Family Foundation analysis finds nearly 1.5 million teachers (one in four) are older than 65 or have health conditions that place them at higher risk of serious illness should they contract COVID-19.

At the same time, oddly enough, Admiral Brett Giroir, the federal government's coronavirus testing coordinator, warned on ABC News' This Week on Sunday that the U.S. shouldn't even be thinking about how to get kids back into the classroom until we get the virus under control. "When we get the virus more under control," he said, "then we can really think about how we put children back in the classroom." We suspect the Admiral may not be in his position very much longer. People who tend to tell the truth are not particularly welcome in the Trump Administration.

Getting the virus under control, of course, as Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pointed out over the weekend, is made all the more difficult, if not impossible, because the federal government is still failing --- more than four months into this crisis --- to ensure adequate testing kits or personal protective equipment (PPE) as cases spike, hospitalizations surge and the death rates began to climb in every region of the country over the past two weeks.

Trump's plan to pretend that everything is somehow normal in time for the November 3rd Presidential Election is beginning to look a whole lot like genocide or at least mass murder, as a whole bunch of callers today seem to agree. (I wanted to hear from those who disagreed with me. None of them were willing to call in for some reason, even though they frequently email me after the show. Cowards.)

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern explains today's rulings; Also: Two conditions on Biden's debates with Trump?; Continuing COVID-19 havoc...
By Brad Friedman on 7/9/2020 6:02pm PT  

On today's BradCast: They were the last major decisions of the term for the Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court. And at least all of the Justices seemed to mostly agree that Presidents are not above the law, even if this one was allowed to buy some time before facing accountability. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Lucky for Donald J. Trump, that extra time granted by two remands to lower courts by SCOTUS today will almost certainly prevent the public from seeing his tax returns and other likely fraudulent financial documents from the years before his Presidency, before he must stand for re-election on November 3rd. Despite those considerable gifts from SCOTUS today, Donald Trump went off on an incomprehensible Twitter tantrum in response. For some, I guess, too much is never enough.

"Not even the President, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority in one of Thursday's long-awaited 7 to 2 opinions [PDF]. Citing 200-year old remarks by Chief Justice John Marshall, Roberts observed: "We reaffirm that principle and hold that the President is neither absolutely immune from state criminal subpoenas seeking his private papers nor entitled to a heightened standard of need." Even accused sexual assaulter Justice Brett Kavanaugh agreed in a concurring opinion that "no one is above the law."

While no one may be above the law, Trump received two extraordinary gifts from the court today. One opinion, Trump v. Vance [PDF] effectively postpones the disclosure of his dubious financial documents to the Manhattan District Attorney for a criminal grand jury investigation until, mostly likely, after the November election. The other, Trump v. Mazars [PDF] prevents several Congressional Committees from seeing similar documents that they subpoenaed from Trump's accounting firm, also until after the election --- and maybe never if the clock runs out on the end of the Congressional session in December. It will likely take at least that long to work through the courts with SCOTUS' newly-raised bar for such subpoenas of the Executive Branch by Congress.

We're joined once again today, at the last minute, by Slate's great court reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN to offer his ever-helpful clarity and context to today's complicated opinions, which one attorney today described thusly: "The ruling is 'No president is above the law', but they post-dated it to the Biden administration".

"I think he just doesn't really understand how the Court gave him a gift," Stern explains, in response to my questions about Trump's whining, incoherent Twitter response to today's ruling. "These decisions are wrapped up in a lot of language that pointedly reduces the President's immunity and executive privilege from oversight and investigations. And announces or reaffirms some crucial principles, like, of course a state can subpoena a President's records for a grand jury proceeding and, yes, Congress can also subpoena the President and his confederates and businesses if it seeks to get that information to pass legislation."

"But the Court said 'We are going to draw a line because we're not so sure that here, either the New York grand jury or the House of Representatives checked all the boxes that we think they needed to in order to get this information.' So, there's going to be a run-down-the-clock thing now, where Trump tries to keep fighting this in the lower courts --- at least through the November election --- and that means we may never actually get to see these records that the Supreme Court said, theoretically, we could have a right to see."

Stern observes: "It was almost like it was a carefully brokered compromise to reach this exact result and then work backwards for the reasoning." Nonetheless, Stern notes, even if his financial firms are allowed to escape subpoenas by Congress, "the writing is on the wall" for the subpoenas filed by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. "I think the lower court is going to very quickly say, 'Yep, these records can go to the grand jury.' And that's going to be that. It could happen in a matter of weeks."

We will see. Or not.

Next, a few more accountability odds and ends today. Trump received another gift this week in the form of a second --- and still-unexplained --- extension of the deadline for the release of his annual financial disclosure statement. Speaking of, the New York Times' Thomas Friedman thinks that Joe Biden should refuse to debate Trump (who now needs the debates more than Biden does) unless Trump releases his tax returns from his years as President, since he promised to do so in 2016, and Biden has already done so. Friedman has one other condition as well that he suggest Biden place on the debates before agreeing to participate this year.

On the COVID-19 front today, the CDC is now claiming they are not planning to rewrite guidance for the reopening of schools after Vice President Mike Pence indicated yesterday they would be doing so following Trump's complaint that their original recommendation for opening schools safely was "very tough and expensive". And, whaddaya know? There's a surge of COVID cases in Tulsa following Trump's unmasked super-spreader campaign rally there in late June, according to the city's top health official.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report with record-breaking Siberian wildfires; a record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season (which only just kicked off!); the new natural gas bomb trains the Trump Administration has just approved to move through your hometown; and some good truckin' news for breathers in California!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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