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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, October 20, 2021
'Despair is Not an Option' After Manchin Tanks Biden's Central Climate Plan: 'BradCast' 10/19/21
Guest: UCSB's Dr. Leah Stokes; Also: 'Mass homicide' allegations for Brazil's Bolsonaro...
'Green News Report' 10/19/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Manchin tosses hand grenade into Biden's climate agenda; EPA to crack down on PFAS; Million of polluting, abandoned U.S. wells; PLUS: McDonald's finally going beyond meat...
Previous GNRs: 10/14/21 - 10/12/21 - Archives...
Listeners Ring in on Whether Ds Should Gerrymander 'Blue' States: 'BradCast' 10/18/21
Also: How the unvaxxed helped kill fully-vaxxed Colin Powell; How Manchin is killing Biden's landmark climate change plan...
Sunday 'Democracy's Boundaries' Toons
PDiddie draws a few lines in his latest collection of the week's best toons...
Why Dems Should Now Gerrymander 'Blue' States (and Why They Shouldn't): 'BradCast' 10/15/21
Guest: FairVote's Dave Daley; Also: Freedom to Vote in the Senate; GOP physics in VA...
Why the Last Remaining 2020 Election Contest in GA Should Not Have Been Dismissed: 'BradCast' 10/14/21
Also: Why Bannon's in big trouble (probably); And why Trump may not be running in 2024...
'Green News Report' 10/14/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Supply chain disruptions spike global energy prices; Russia says they didn't do it!; CA bans gas-powered leaf blowers; PLUS: Biden Administration goes big on offshore wind...
Previous GNRs: 10/12/21 - 10/7/21 - Archives...
'Red' State Profs Fight for Masking at Universities: 'BradCast' 10/13/21
Guest: Dr. Matthew Boedy of UNG; Also: Shatner in space; Workers have had enough; Biden's big new off-shore wind plan...
'Green News Report' 10/12/21
'No climate, no deal!' on Build Back Better; Critical infrastructure facing flood, failure; 2021 extreme weather costs; PLUS: Biden restores national monuments...
'Change the Whole Process': CA Rep on Ending Big Oil After State's Latest Offshore Spill: 'BradCast' 10/11/21
Guest: Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA); Also: Trump's plan to steal 2024; Callers...
Sunday 'Privilege' Toons
You know you deserve PDiddie's collection of this week's best political toons...
Media Downplaying Trump, GOP's Threat to U.S. Democracy: 'BradCast' 10/8/21
Guest: Eric Boehlert; Also: Biden restores nat'l monuments; Trump hid losses at D.C. hotel...
Trump Didn't Try to 'Subvert Results', He Tried to Steal 2020!: 'BradCast' 10/7/21
Also: Pipeline co.'s leak tech failed in SoCal spill; Freedom of choice restored to TX women (for now); Media misreport GOP debt threat...
'Green News Report' 10/7/21
Ship anchor may be cause of SoCal oil spill; Fossil fuel industry subsized $11 million every minute; PLUS: PA A.G. criminally charges notorious pipeline developer...
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: Dr. Matthew Boedy of the Univ. of North Georgia; Also: Shatner in space; Workers have had enough; Biden's big new off-shore wind plan...
By Brad Friedman on 10/13/2021 6:56pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We're nearly two years into this seemingly endless pandemic. If you happen to teach at a college or university in a "blue" state and have been vaccinated, you can probably go to work each day feeling relatively safe. If you work at a "red" state university, however, the story is very different. That, of course, is thanks to the twisted politics of our former President and those who either fear his wrath or have been brain-poisoned enough to put their own families and communities at risk because of it. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, first up --- mostly for Desi and other Trekkers like her --- we spend a few minutes on William "Captain Kirk" Shatner after he oldly went were a few have gone before. But while Shatner got a free ride to the edge of space for three minutes on Wednesday, courtesy of Jeff Bezos, it only serves as a reminder of the many essential, working class grunts who actually paid for his trip. On the other hand, some of Shatner's remarks upon return to Earth also remind us of our fragile climate and thin blue atmosphere that keeps us alive, even as we treat it like a garbage dump.

Speaking of essential workers, new data from the Labor Department this week reveals many are quitting their jobs in droves, particularly those forced to come face-to-face with an angry, frequently privileged, sometimes violent, often mask-free public right now in low-wage service jobs at bars, restaurants, hotels and retail outlets. The record number of workers quitting to look for better working conditions in August comes as businesses are struggling to find workers, with some employers --- gasp! --- forced to offer higher wages and benefits to stay in business.

But while it may be easy enough to leave one bartender job for a better one at an establishment that takes better care of its workers, it's not quite as easy for those who teach at colleges and universities. We've all seen endless videos of furious parents at local school board meetings, threatening school officials if they dare institute mask mandates to help keep teachers and children --- and their furious parents --- safe. But we've heard less about higher education faculty whose institutions, often in Republican-leaning states, find themselves at the mercy of GOP Governors mandating anti-masking rules or state-run boards (often controlled by the same rightwing politicos) who refuse to hear the pleas of college and university students and faculty alike.

Late last month, for example, more than 50 faculty members at the University of Georgia, many with expertise in the study of infectious diseases, signed a faculty statement declaring: "In order to protect our students, staff and faculty colleagues, we will wear masks and will require all of our students and staff to wear masks in our classes and laboratories until local community transmission rates improve, despite the ban on mask mandates and the USG [University System of Georgia] policy to punish, and potentially fire, any faculty taking this action."

We're joined today by DR. MATTHEW BOEDY, Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Composition at the University of North Georgia in Gainesville. He also serves as the Georgia chapter President of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), where eight national chapters recently urged the federal government to step in to help keep faculty and students safe at public universities were Governors and school boards will not.

The USG is governed in the Peach State by the Board of Regents, many of whom are appointed by the sitting Republican Governor. "They generally follow the Governor's wishes in terms of policies," Boedy explains. But last year, "they pushed him aside and gave us a mask mandate when Gov. Brian Kemp said he didn't want any mask mandates." The rule was repealed in June, however, as the pandemic momentarily ebbed. "Then Delta came, and we desperately needed [another mask mandate], and they refused to have one because they weren't going to push aside the Governor a second time, especially in terms of how heated it has gotten. The Governor, of course, has banned mask mandates around the state."

As an expert in rhetoric, I asked about the irony of Republicans opposing mandates by instituting mandates against mandates. "The groups on the right and politicians on the right will use words in opposite of their intended meaning or their usual meaning to get what they want. They don't like mandates, but they'll push mandates in another way. It is truly cognitive dissonance," Boedy asserts. "And it just shows that this is not driven by science, it's not driven by common sense. It's not even driven by any type of logic that I can follow, because if you speak to these people, they just change in any direction that is against what you're saying. "

"As a rhetoric teacher," he continues, "I'm teaching a class on misinformation, and I'm doing it for this reason. It's just really difficult to get beyond the cognitive dissonance, and I'm trying to teach people not just to recognize it but to find rhetorical ways to persuade people who seem to not want to be persuaded." We wish him luck.

In the meantime, Boedy also details the actions that the AAUP has taken to try and get help for "red" state universities from government officials and the responses they've received from elected officials both at the state and federal level. He notes that in a state where "collective bargaining is barred by state law," they don't have unionized power behind them, but they had considered walkouts anyway, before deciding against it. At least for now. "We didn't want to punish our students for the deplorable actions of our university administration.  We didn't want to walk out. We didn't want to stop class. We didn't want to add to the punishment their getting with the lack of masks," he says. "What we're trying to do is keep up public pressure --- I call it a public shaming of our university leaders --- and hopefully, they respond. So far, sadly, they have not."

Boedy says, however, that they may get some help from the Biden Administration's Department of Education. In the meantime, we happened to catch him on "a dark day" for higher education in Georgia. On Wednesday, the Board of Regents made conditions arguably worse for professors in the University of Georgia System, as they voted on Wednesday to approve a new tenure policy allowing tenured professors to be fired without faculty input. "What we have now is tenure in name only," Boedy explains. "They erased the due process protections for a particular group of professors, ending tenure protections for them. So, the dominoes can certainly fall after that to the rest of us. But it is, yes, the death of tenure and due process in Georgia."

Finally, after a week or two of reporting on the recent oil spill off the coast of Southern California in Orange County on this show, some much brighter, somewhat related news. "The Biden administration announced on Wednesday a plan to develop large-scale wind farms along nearly the entire coastline of the United States, the first long-term strategy from the government to produce electricity from offshore turbines," according to the New York Times late today. We happily discuss...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Another busy day taking on America's rising GOP Authoritarian Front...
By Brad Friedman on 10/12/2021 6:31pm PT  

Well, we've got another news-packed, rant-packed, and (hopefully) democracy-saving BradCast for you today. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Tune in for the most bang for your buck (by far), but among the stories and issues touch-stoned on today's program...

  • Democratic U.S. Senators held a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol last week to insist that critical provisions to finally take on our climate crisis may not be removed from the Dems' proposed Build Back Better Act to win the support of obstructionist Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the hop-hop caucus, spoke at the presser, and laid out the "no climate, no deal" existential stakes. We share his important remarks.
  • Speaking of the Dems' proposed, expansive, ten-year, $3.5 trillion bill, never mind the price tag. Unlike the accompanying smaller bipartisan infrastructure bill championed by Manchin and Sinema with Republicans, which is not fully paid for, the Build Back Better bill is, via small tax increases for wealthy people and corporations. But, lost in Manchin and Sinema's silly quibbles over the price tag for Build Back Better is the extraordinary number of wildly popular provisions in it, on everything from the expansion of Medicare to include hearing, vision and dental coverage for seniors, to free pre-K and community college, to 12 weeks of paid family leave, and, of course, the critical climate measures to move the nation's utility companies from dirty fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy. But that's a tiny sampling of what's in this long-overdue bill. MSNBC's Mehdi Hasan offers much more on what's actually in the most transformative piece of legislation since the LBJ- and FDR-eras --- and he does so in less than 60 seconds!
  • Both the larger bill and the smaller bill compromising Biden's agenda must be passed (and soon!) if Democrats are to have any chance at holding off the Authoritarian Front (otherwise known as the Republican Party) in 2022. To that end, we've been discussing of late how the media (including us!) do not seem to be sounding the alarm bells as loudly as warranted, given the Trump/GOP assault on democracy itself in advance of next year's mid-terms and the 2024 Presidential race. A recent conversation on that point with media critic Eric Boehlert last Friday on this show, included a "major error", brought to our attention via email by a listener. After sharing the error with Boehlert, he issued a correction. Tune in for all the details today, but we are grateful to listener Linda C. for checking the facts and holding our feet to the same fire as we hold to everyone else's!
  • In more American-democracy-on-the-brink news, top Republicans are still, shamefully, unwilling to say out loud that Joe Biden won the 2020 election fair and square, that it was not stolen from Donald Trump, and that there is absolutely zero credible evidence suggesting otherwise, nearly a full year since the election. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), the second-highest ranking Republican in the House after minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), is the latest to prove his cowardice and refusal to say as much during a weekend interview on Fox "News".
  • Speaking about his new book, Midnight in Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could, detailing Trump's two impeachments and the disgraced former President's attempt to steal the 2020 election by sending his supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) discussed what happened that day on CNN this morning. Of note, as we share, he discusses the abject fear among GOP leadership to cross Donald Trump in any way, and the threat that poses to democracy itself. Schiff describes "the insurrectionists in suits and tie", like Scalise and McCarthy, who, "unlike those people climbing outside the building" on January 6th, "they knew it was a lie". But, in their "relentless attack on the truth," he explains, they are now willing to pretend that they don't know that Trump tried to steal the 2020 election.
  • Longtime Republican columnist Max Boot, however, does know that the Big Lie was, in fact, a lie. He also seems to appreciate the threat it now poses to democracy itself. In his Washington Post column this week, he explains why, despite formerly being a lifelong Republican, he is now "a single-issue voter. My issue is the fate of democracy in the United States. Simply put, I have no faith that we will remain a democracy if Republicans win power. Thus, although I’m not a Democrat, I will continue to vote exclusively for Democrats ... until the GOP ceases to pose an existential threat to our freedom." Thank you, Max. I hope anyone who still supports democracy takes Boot's warning to heart because, as he notes, "What matters now is preserving our democracy."
  • And what are Republicans doing where they do hold the power to govern instead of destroy? They're destroying. In Texas yesterday, Republican Governor and cowardly tyrant Greg Abbott issued an executive order certain to results in many more dead Texans. It prohibits any entity in the state, including private business, from imposing any COVID vaccine requirements for employees or customers. Because, freedom? At the same time, the Texas Republican Party chair who thinks Abbott isn't Trumpy enough, stepped down from the Chairmanship several months ago to oppose the incredibly-Trumpy Governor in next year's primary. That former chair is former Florida Congressman and loon Allen West, who, as of this weekend, is now hospitalized with COVID. He's now posting on Facebook from his hospital bed about taking hydroxychloroquine and the horse de-worming drug Ivermectin, while proudly swearing he's more anti-vaccine than ever and simultaneously proving he knows absolutely nothing about how either health care or even "Big Pharma" works.

    (For the record, even though he's a far-right wingnut loon, we went to bat for West and his supporters in 2012 after he got screwed by a major voting system tabulation failure during his failed reelection bid against Democrat Patrick Murphy in Florida that year. Scroll down his BRAD BLOG category page for some of the highlights. Just a helpful reminder for all of the brain-poisoned dupes stopping by the blog of late to say, "Hey, Brad what happened to you?! I can't believe you'd put party over country by failing to call out all the fraud in the 2020 election!" Yes, brain-poisoning is exceedingly toxic. Try some horse de-wormer, kiddies.)

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with her usual roller-coaster mix of horrific and hopeful (but mostly horrific) environmental news...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Philly Inquirer's Will Bunch; Also: Idaho's Lt. Guv may be insane --- or maybe just a Republican...
By Brad Friedman on 10/6/2021 5:52pm PT  

Something not terrible actually happened in D.C. today! We celebrate at the top of today's BradCast! [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Faced with the likelihood of the U.S. defaulting on its debts in a matter of days for the first time in American history (and being blamed for the economic devastation that would go with it), or otherwise facing the possibility that Democrats would be forced to reform the filibuster to allow a carve out for raising the debt ceiling, Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans blinked today. They have now agreed to call off their filibuster to allow Democrats to raise the debt ceiling by themselves, if only for about two months. That's okay. It's a clear win for the Dems, whose unwillingness to back down to the GOP's economic terrorism and weaponization of the need to borrow money to pay for stuff that Congress (including Republicans!) have already bought, has paid off. It has also revealed McConnell's bluff. Something to keep in mind the next time this comes up again in December. We explain.

It also means that Congressional Dems can now focus on passage of their Build Back Better agenda, specifically, their transformative and long-overdue expansion of healthcare, education, child care and the first real attempt to take on climate change in their proposed $3.5 trillion bill that would spend $350 billion a year over the next ten years. That's not a lot of money, in truth, for the U.S. Government. The Treasury Department may take in $300 billion in tax revenue on any given single day. Not to mention, the entire bill, as proposed, is paid for with a small tax increase on corporations and the wealthy. But that hasn't prevented Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and his sidekick Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) from pretending that the implementation of wildly popular progressive programs --- which the Democratic President actually ran and won on --- will lead to an "entitlement society".

Amid the negotiations over the final price tag of the Build Back Better Act, Manchin has been demanding "means testing guardrails" on all new family and health related programs. What does that mean, exactly? If only Americans below a certain income are allowed, for example, to enjoy the two free years of pre-K and community college included in the Democratic proposal, why not impose such conditions on the rest of our public education system? "Once we’re means-testing pre-K," The Prospect's Harold Meyerson recently observed in response to Manchin's demands, "it’s hard to see why governments at all levels don’t means-test K itself, not to mention K-12."

The Philadelphia Inquirer's longtime national columnist WILL BUNCH describes "means testing" in his newsletter this week as "two dirty words for America's middle class" and "the two most insidious and abused words in American politics." He joins us today to explain why that is and what other, alternate, betters ways their may be to meet the seemingly intractable (and dumb) demands from Manchin and Sinema that the Democrats' fully-paid-for bill be scaled back from it's current price tag.

"When means testing is applied," Bunch explains, "the reality is, what you're really doing is reducing the size of the program, so you're reducing the amount of money that needs to be raised to pay for the programs, which means you're reducing the amount that taxes would be increased on these wealthy people and on these corporations, who happen to be Joe Manchin's patrons."

"What really happens is that people who are entitled to these programs don't get the benefits because of means testing," he argues, "because it creates all kinds of bureaucratic hoops. The more you make them jump through hoops, the more you heighten the feeling of stigma that some people feel about getting government aid, they just say 'forget it' and give up. So the utilization rate of these programs --- they find that usually a quarter of the people eligible for these programs don't take advantage of them for reasons like that."

But, he says, it's also simply about money. "Let's focus on what's really going on here. They're really trying to squeeze every dollar to not go to middle class and working class families. And all those dollars that they squeeze, they go into bigger tax cuts for billionaires and corporations," who, unlike middle-class tax-payers, do not face such means testing for benefits they enjoy. "It's like reverse means-testing! The more means you have, the more we're going to bend over backwards to cut your taxes!"

We discuss all of that and more --- including the Rolling Stones concert that Bunch went to this week in Pittsburgh. Yes, I'm jealous!

Finally, as crazy and dangerous as the Republican Party has become in recent years, a number of its elected officials are apparently set on pushing the envelope to new standards of insane behavior...even if it means taking on fellow elected Republican officials, as the Lt. Governor of Idaho has done this week --- once again --- while the state's Republican Governor was out of town on state business. Yes, the madness continues on today's BradCast. We do our best to keep up with it...

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Bill to keep U.S. government open (for two more months) gets passed, but the three more difficult and critical bills remain blocked by obstructionists with economic disaster and Biden agenda hanging in the balance...
By Brad Friedman on 9/30/2021 6:46pm PT  

Hopefully today's BradCast is at least slightly less chaotic than Capitol Hill right now. We do our best to help you make sense of the Democrats' attempts to move four critical bills through to law, as they all come due at about the same time, and all must overcome obstructionists from both the Right and the Left. One bill today, has made it through. The fates of the other three --- and those of the nation, the economy, the Presidency and the Democrats --- are less than clear at this hour.

Among the stories covered, discussed, referenced and/or ranted upon on today's program...

  • We start with some listener email in response to our interview last week with NASA climate scientist Dr. Peter Kalmus, who argues that our planet's climate emergency is far worse and more immediate than many other climate scientists are willing to say. Emailer RC concurs, and explains why current plans to curb carbon emissions by both the US and EU are not nearly enough to meet the moment, and entirely unfair to the rest of the world.
  • With those thoughts underscoring much of the rest of our coverage today, we move to the ongoing mess in D.C., where Dems must pass four different pieces of critical legislation in the next few days and/or weeks for various critical reasons. One is a bill to keep the government open and operating after midnight tonight. After a Republican filibuster and a decoupling of that measure from the lifting of the debt ceiling before the government runs out of the ability to borrow money on October 18, the bill to keep the government open was passed by both chambers today (and signed by the President tonight). That Continuing Resolution will keep the government operating until December 3rd, when this ridiculousness will happen again, and Republicans are sure to create still more chaos and uncertainty...just because they can. Their filibuster of raising or suspending the debt ceiling, however, continues to march toward fiscal calamity [PDF] and deep recession as of October 18, unless they relent or Dems come up with some other idea.
  • As we went to air today, it was still unclear whether a vote would be held in the House on the bipartisan $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill, which all Democrats in both chambers agreed to couple for passage with the much larger, very popular $3.5 trillion Build Back Better social spending and climate change bill that encompasses the bulk of the Biden agenda. At least it had been coupled until a small handful of shameless corporatist Dems in the House and Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema in the Senate reneged on the original agreement. Now, they are trying to force Pelosi into calling a vote on the smaller bill, which was already passed by the Senate, and which House progressives have vowed to vote against unless the larger bill is adopted along with it. And though we hadn't seen anyone else make this point before airtime (Josh Marshall mentions it tonight), while House Repubs have been whipping against the smaller bill in the House, if they really wanted to muck things up for the Dems, they could vote in favor of the measure that many of their Republican colleagues in the Senate have already approved. That would replace the votes of the objecting progressives and remove pretty much all of the leverage they currently have to force passage of the larger reconciliation bill. So don't tell Republicans.
  • The log jam on that larger bill, of course, has been Manchin and Sinema. And while neither Democratic Senator had made their objections to the measure particularly clear --- other than they didn't want to spend that much money (even though, unlike the deficit spending of the bipartisan infrastructure bill they supported, the larger one is actually paid for with tax increases on corporations and the wealthy!) --- at least Manchin was open to negotiation. Sinema, who is a terrible person, has said she wouldn't negotiate on the larger bill at all until the smaller one was passed. That is, apparently, still her position. But as of shortly before air today, we now know a bit more about Manchin's position. That, based on a bullet-point memo [PDF] obtained by Politico, which he gave to Chuck Schumer in late July, detailing his demands. Among them, the bill can't spend more than $1.5 trillion, and the coal state Senator (whose family makes millions on fossil fuel extraction each year) really really wants to undermine the critical climate components at the heart of the Biden agenda. We discuss.
  • While Democrats are trying to move their wildly popular agenda forward, despite the obstructionism from both the Right and Left, Republicans and their media machine are busy lying to the public about the effort. We do our part to correct the record today with more information on what Democrats are actually hoping to do --- so you can help be the media and counter the rightwing lies on social media and elsewhere. (Pretty please?) Among those lies, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) offered a whopper today, describing the Biden agenda as "Marxism" on Twitter. And fake news site Newsmax is lying to their gullible viewers about the bipartisan infrastructure bill including an 8-cent per mile "driving tax". It doesn't. We try and help correct the record on both scores.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report. Today, we have yet another California utility company coughing up billions to settle with residents after their negligence led to disaster following the largest methane leak in U.S. history; New polling finds a dramatic spike in concern among a majority of Americans regarding our climate crisis; And another major automaker makes another major bet on our electric vehicle future...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Biden and Congressional Dems face down a GOP hell-bent on chaos and a handful of 'moderate' Dems set on undermining the Build Back Better agenda; Also: Is the electric vehicle inflection point finally here?...
By Brad Friedman on 9/28/2021 6:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Over the weekend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned her caucus in a "Dear Colleague" letter that "the next few days will be a time of intensity". She wasn't kidding. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Today, we bring you up to date on the four different major pieces of legislation that Democrats must push through Congress, somehow, within the next few days. All four are incredibly important for different reasons, have slightly different deadlines, and slightly different obstacles to passage, each of those obstacles are difficult.

As of midnight Thursday (September 30), the government will shut down if a Continuing Resolution to keep it open is not passed in the Senate. That will end up costing taxpayers a lot of money and financial markets will take a hit, as we already saw today, with the Dow dropping more than 550 points and the S&P falling 2 percent. Of far greater danger to both the stability of the U.S. AND global economy, as of October 18, as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has now cautioned lawmakers, the government will run out of "extraordinary measures" to avoid defaulting on U.S. debt unless the ridiculous, statutory debt ceiling is raised or suspended by Congress. That would allow the government to continuing borrowing to pay for all the stuff that Congress has already committed to spending, such as the $8 trillion increase to the national debt that was run up with the approval of Republicans during the Trump Administration, for example. Without raising the debt limit, Yellen warned, we will face "catastrophic economic consequences".

Republicans in the Senate, however, are currently filibustering the bill that would solve both of those problems in one simple fell swoop, just because they can. They appear to want chaos, uncertainty and a potential meltdown of the global economy, even at the cost of a first-ever default on the good faith and credit of the U.S. government. How that destructive hostage taking ends before the imposing deadlines nobody currently seems to know.

The other two pieces of legislation that need to pass quickly comprise Joe Biden's progressive agenda, which he ran on, is wildly popular among the American people, and which Democrats can now enact into law without any Republican help. One is the $1.5 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package for stuff like roads and bridges. The other is the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill known as the Build Back Better Act to expand health care, education, child care and take on climate change among a host of other critical stuff. The framework for the latter bill was approved by Democrats in both chambers on the basis that both bills would be passed together, appeasing both progressives and so-called "moderates". Together, the two bills make up the bulk of the Biden agenda which every Democrat in both chambers voted to support...at least until a small handful of "moderate" Dems in the House and two Dems in the Senate (Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema), tried to break the deal recently and force a vote on the smaller bill while kicking the larger one down the road.

But a newly robust and emboldened Progressives Caucus in the House is having none of it, and has vowed to vote against the smaller bill if the larger one isn't passed along with it. The hold up on the larger one appears to largely be Manchin and Sinema who have been vague in their objections, other than to protest that $3.5 trillion is too much spend. That, despite the fact that Democrats and the President say the entire ten-year ($350 billion/year) bill is fully paid for by small tax increases on corporations and the wealthy. Biden describes the cost of the bill as "zero".

All of which has resulted in "a time of intensity" on Capitol Hill right now which we walk through today --- intensely --- even as Manchin refuses to come up with a number that he would accept, and as Sinema's vague objections are made somewhat clearer by a fund-raiser being held today for her by several business lobbies who oppose having their taxes raised (to a lower amount than they were before Trump), and as her position is now costing her dearly at the moment among both the Arizona state Democratic Party and Democratic voters across her state. Tune in. We'll explain all.

In less intense --- and actually encouraging --- progressive news OUTSIDE of D.C, the inflection point to electric vehicles may just about be here, if Ford's new announcement this week of a huge, $11 billion investment to build three battery factories and an electric truck plant (creating 11,000 jobs in the bargain) is any indication.

Finally, in a related-ish news, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with even more encouraging news on electric vehicles coming out of Norway this week, along with much less encouraging news regarding the high cost of climate change, the GOP obstruction of aid to victims of Hurricane Ida, and new manslaughter charges against California's largest utility company, PG&E...

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Hospitals in GOP-leaning states begin rationing healthcare as Delta variant skyrockets, even among children (while DeSantis tries to kill them); Better news in Alaska; Good jobs numbers; DoJ sues Texas; Much more...
By Brad Friedman on 9/9/2021 6:36pm PT  

The news, as you may have noticed, continued to be somewhat grim. But we do manage to find a bit of encouraging news here and there on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary below.]

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

  • Good news in the long (very long!) battle to protect Alaska's nearly-pristine Bristol Bay and its native run, $2 billion a year salmon fishery industry from the ecological devastation of a huge, open pit gold and copper extraction operation known as Pebble Mine. Biden's EPA is invoking a section of the Clean Water Act to block the project. Hopefully it will stay blocked for good this time, but we'll see.
  • New jobs numbers from the Department of Labor are encouraging today, with unemployment rates now at a pandemic low and reaching pre-pandemic levels. That's cautiously good news, given the effect that the Delta variant is now beginning to have on the economy. But, because it's largely encouraging news which works against Republican hopes for a disastrous economy, you probably didn't hear too much about today's numbers. We also explain why this largely good, if under-reported, news also undercuts Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)'s argument for undercutting Joe Biden's proposed, landmark $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill.
  • More encouraging news (before we get to the less encouraging news today): It turns out we do have an Attorney General and he is capable of acting quickly and decisively...at least when he's pushed to do so. The Dept. of Justice today announced a federal lawsuit to enjoin the state of Texas' new law undercutting the Constitutional right for women to have an abortion, as per the previously-settled, nearly 50-year old precedent established by Roe v. Wade. Whether the DOJ's "relatively novel theories developed in reaction to a novel law" will be successful, given the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court, remains to be seen.
  • Remember back during the summer of 2009, when rightwingers were instructed by Fox "News" and the Republican Party to be outraged about "death panels" in President Obama's then-proposed Affordable Care Act that would lead to the rationing of health care and decisions by government bureaucrats about who should live or die? The argument was all nonsense at the time, as there were no such "death panels" in ObamaCare that would kill granny. But, guess what? States around the country are now beginning to ration healthcare and are deciding who gets to live or die. That is thanks to the very same Republicans who were told to be outraged about phony "death panels" in 2009, now being told to be outraged about life-saving vaccines and mask mandates. Thanks to those idiots, COVID infections, hospitalizations and death rates are skyrocketing, particularly in GOP-run states with low vaccination rates. And, because of it, and the lack of ability to handle the surge, the state of Idaho has announced new "crisis standards of care." That means they are now literally forced to ration health care, as they try to save those with the highest chances of survival, while wishing the best of luck and "comfort care" to everyone else. Kentucky and other states are now on the brink of doing the same, as hospitals continue to be overwhelmed in states with low vaccination rates.
  • COVID infection, hospitalization and death rates were, incredibly --- and completely unnecessarily --- 2 to 3.5 times higher this Labor Day, then they were over Labor Day last year, in 2020.  Moreover, infection, hospitalization and death rates are also skyrocketing among children right now, with kids now comprising more than a quarter of all new cases.
  • Despite the alarming rates of sickness among children, twisted GOP Governors in states like Texas and Florida are still fighting tooth and nail to block local school districts from determining what is best for their students and staff alike. Florida's largest school district, Miami-Dade, announced this week that 13 staffers have died since mid-August. All of them were unvaccinated. But, in brighter news, a state judge has --- for now --- blocked Gov. Ron DeSantis' appalling authoritarian attempt to ban mask mandates and punish school districts who defy him.
  • Amid all of this today, President Biden announced new federal directives to try and curb the deadly pandemic by mandating vaccination or regular testing for as many as 100 million workers nationally. In remarks sharply critical of those who have chosen to remain unvaccinated, Biden also announced that Executive Branch employees and contractors who do business with the federal government will now have to be vaccinated, with no option to test out of it.
  • Late today, Los Angeles School District, the second largest in the country, voted to implement a mandatory vaccination regime for those older than 12.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as Biden pushes for infrastructure resiliency and "building back better" after the deadly devastation of Hurricane Ida, and much more...

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Also: Unhappy updates on COVID hospitalized RW radio hosts and other anti-vaxxers; FBI joins CO voting software theft probe, as Mike Lindell harbors Mesa County Clerk in 'safe house'; And, hey, AP...are you okay?...
By Brad Friedman on 8/19/2021 6:36pm PT  

We've got quite a few updates on a number of stories we've been covering of late on The BradCast. Some of them not necessarily happy and others quite astounding. As well as some mainstream media failure, and other news from this seemingly endless Summer. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the stories covered on today program...

  • Even as infections, hospitalizations and deaths continue to soar in their states, more politically ambitious Trumpy Rightwing Governors are leading their constituents on a death march by banning mask mandates by small local governments and school districts. Happily, a number of the school districts are putting the health and safety of their children above the authoritarian edicts of their Governors, as well as over the deadly demands of too many brainwashed, disinformed parents fighting to endanger their own children and themselves.
  • We've got updates today on several stories we've covered in recent weeks, including the anti-vax parents of four children in Texas, who both changed their minds about vaccinations just before they were intubated several weeks ago. Also, updates on some of the Rightwing anti-vax radio hosts who have either recently died or are now hospitalized in grave condition from COVID. Also, yet another far-right radio host --- this one a Christian broadcaster who derided COVID vaccines as "government control" on his daily "Prophecy Today" program --- has now died from...you guessed it.
  • A disturbed far-right Trumper from North Carolina brought Capitol Hill to a standstill today --- requiring evacuations from the U.S. Capitol to the U.S. Supreme Court --- after pulling his license plate-free pickup truck onto the sidewalk in front of the Library of Congress and threatening to detonate a bomb. During the 5-hour standoff with police, which thankfully ended peacefully, media outlets reviewed the man's Facebook Live-streamed rants and other videos. He reportedly railed against Joe Biden, "Nancy", "antifa" and the Democrats, demanding they all resign en masse; declared "the revolution is here" and that he is the "last generation" of those willing to stand up for America. He said that Trump will be reinstated and posted video from his participation at "Stop the Steal" and "Million MAGA March" rallies. So, how did Associated Press, at least for a time today (via the Internet Archives), lead their description of the man's politics? By claiming that in one of his videos he "said he loved the president, Democrat Joe Biden." --- Really, AP?
  • We've also got a few quick updates today on the Trump-loving Mesa County, Colorado County Clerk, Tina Peters, who, as we have been reporting in some detail over the past week, allegedly entered a secure area of the County's Election Division in the middle of the night with two accomplices last May, turned off the security cameras, and allowed two hard drives containing Dominion Voting's Election Management System (EMS) software to be copied in full. During one of her several appearances on stage last week at MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's failed three-day "Cyber Symposium" where he didn't reveal the promised "proof" that China stole the election for Joe Biden, the extremely sensitive contents of those hard drives were released into the Internet wilds for download by thousands. That, in the middle of California's critical Gubernatorial Recall election, where some 60% of the state will rely on that same, proprietary Dominion EMS software. Peters claimed during Lindell's forum that she was being "persecuted" by CO's Democratic Sec. of State Jenna Griswold because she's a "conservative Republican". Griswold has now removed Peters from her role, as Mesa's now-former chief election official is facing a criminal probe by the County's conservative Republican District Attorney. This week, the FBI joined that investigation, as federal crimes may have been violated in the theft and release of that software. And today, VICE reports, Peters is on the lam, being sheltered in a "safe house" somewhere by the MyPillow guy (who already faces a $1.3 billion lawsuit [PDF] from Dominion himself.) Will the "persecution" never end?
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with grim news of deadly climate change-fueled extreme weather from Haiti to both coasts of the U.S. to much of Europe; and some happier news this week from the Biden Administration...

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Also: FL, TX Guvs stand by deadly mask mandate ban; Biden addresses nation, callers ring in on U.S. Afghanistan pull-out as Kabul falls...
By Brad Friedman on 8/16/2021 6:20pm PT  

Grim, breaking news out of both Haiti and Afghanistan forced us to set aside our previous plans for today's BradCast. [Audio link to show follows below this summary.]

First, breaking coverage on the continuing fallout and search for survivors following the enormous, 7.2 magnitude earthquake on Saturday in Les Cays, Haiti, about 80 miles east of the capitol, Port-au-Prince. As we went to air, more than 1,400 have been declared dead, with thousands more injured. There is already a shortage of hospitals, doctors, medicine and shelter as tens of thousands of families have been left homeless. The temblor in the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation comes as it was already struggling with the pandemic and a lack of vaccines, gang violence, and political chaos in the wake of the July 7 assassination of its President.

It also comes as Tropical Depression Grace is set to roll in on Monday night, with some 15 inches of rain expected in some areas. The scale of human tragedy at this hour in Haiti is unfathomable. It's likely to get much worse in the days ahead.

And while nations like Haiti are desperate for vaccines, authoritarian governors in Florida and Texas are blocking small, local governments and schools from even instituting mask requirements as the school year begins. Last week it was announced that 3 Broward County, FL teachers died from COVID over a 24-hour period. None were vaccinated. That, as several school districts defy Gov. Ron DeSantis order blocking mandates to help keep schools open and children alive.

In Texas, the state's all-Republican Supreme Court stood behind Gov. Greg Abbott's similar ban on mask requirements. Several of the state's most populous counties, such as Dallas and Bexar (San Antonio) are also defying their Governors deadly, authoritarian edict.

Then, on the other side of the globe, another massive human tragedy is unfolding today, as Kabul, the capitol city in Afghanistan, fell to the Taliban on Sunday, while U.S. forces are completing their withdraw by months end after 20 years of war launched following the 9/11 attacks in 2001. Seven Afghans were killed at Kabul's airport today, as chaos erupted on the tarmac with hundreds of Afghans desperately swarming and clinging to a departing U.S. military jet.

The total collapse of Afghanistan's government --- propped up by the U.S. for decades --- was remarkably swift, with its President fleeing the country over the weekend, handing control of the nation back to the Taliban. U.S. officials say they are stunned by the speed with which the Afghan government simply melted away in recent days. They shouldn't have been. Washington Post's Susannah George reported over the weekend on local, regional and provincial officials literally selling out to the Taliban over the past year and a half, beginning on the very day that the Trump Administration announced an agreement with the Taliban and Afghan Government to withdraw all U.S. forces by May 1 of this year.

Though President Biden extended the deadline for leaving until the end of August, he honored the deal made by the previous Administration to pull out. He spoke today at the White House as to why he stands by his decision, despite the unfolding tragedies. We share his remarks in full, in which he reiterated his previous vow in July that after the deaths of some 2,500 U.S. troops and injuries to more than 20,000 of them, following 20 years of war and more than a trillion dollars spent, he says he cannot, in good conscience, pass on this war to yet a 5th President.

Near the end of the show we open the phone lines to listeners on whether they support Biden's decisions to pull out. The responses, at least today, are remarkably unanimous...

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Cybersecurity and voting system expert confirms security breach, software authenticity to BRAD BLOG, as Mike Lindell's event to 'prove' stolen 2020 election, 'reinstate' Trump goes criminally off rails
Also: Rightwing radio hosts hospitalized, dying from COVID; Trump judge allows Dominion's defamation suit against Giuliani, Powell, Lindell to proceed; MUCH MORE...
By Brad Friedman on 8/12/2021 6:51pm PT  

Okay. Now it's not just insane. It could also be criminal, as a leak of actual voting system software at MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's three-day, so-called "cyber symposium" in South Dakota may have imperiled the security of the Gubernatorial Recall election now under way in California. We've got some exclusive details on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, before the details on what appears to have happened at Lindell's bizarre circus show in Sioux Falls, some very quick news, on the Census Bureau's release of 2020 data today and the GOP's plans to use it to gerrymander themselves into a U.S. House majority; U.S. plans to evacuate the embassy in Kabul as the Taliban retakes much of Afghanistan; Support from national teacher's unions to mandate vaccination or testing for the nation's school staff; and Rightwing radio host COVID and vaccine deniers findings themselves dead and/or hospitalized...with COVID.

Then, it's on to the 2020 "stolen election" Crazy Train still unfolding in MAGALand.

On Wednesday, a U.S. District Court judge appointed by Donald Trump, ruled that Dominion Voting Systems' $1.6 billion defamation lawsuits against Trump attorneys Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani and, yes, Mike Lindell, may proceed. Judge Carl J. Nichols' 44-page ruling [PDF] denied all parts of the defendants various Motions to Dismiss. Suffice to say it did not go well for them, on any front, leading former crack-addict and current phony stolen-election addict Lindell to declare the ruing "the worst decision a judge has made in the history of this country." (Which someone named Dred Scott would likely dispute.)

But the real madness has been unfolding in South Dakota this week, at Lindell's three-day "Cyber Symposium" that was promised to reveal "absolute proof" that the 2020 election was stolen through a massive, sophisticated cyberattack by China (I think.) Lindell's promised "proof" of the steal was so unimpeachable that it was to result, he's been declaring for weeks, in an immediate 9 to 0 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate Trump to the White House this Friday the 13th!

It may not work out that way, however. The far-right newspaper Washington Times published a gob-smacking story on Wednesday, in which a cyber expert hired by Lindell himself to examine and explain the super-secret 37 terabytes of data --- said to have been captured from Internet transfers just days after the November election, revealing that China flipped millions of votes --- told the paper that the data and claims about them were illegitimate.

It's a simply coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs story --- again, from a Rightwing outlet --- detailing how none of Lindell's claims appear to be real, and seem to be sourced to a former Government contractor who was also the source of (false) claims that the Obama Administration wiretapped Trump Tower in 2016. But, as Lindell's own experts explained to the Washington Times, the data doesn't show what it is supposed to show...but that may only be because the source dude supposedly had a stroke the day before the symposium!

Lindell's expert, who says there still could be some evidence of something anyway in the data they did examine, told the paper: "We were handed a turd. And I had to take that turd and turn it into a diamond."

But now the loony toons story takes a potentially much darker turn, albeit a somewhat confusing one. Mother Jones' AJ Vicens does a fine job attempting to make at least some sense of what has happened with this part of the story over the last several days. It seems to involve an election official named Tina Peters, County Clerk of Mesa County, Colorado (who is now apparently being investigated by state law enforcement authorities), a guy named Ron Watkins, widely thought to be "Q" of the infamous Q-Anon MAGA conspiracy world, and potentially a former campaign manager for Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO). See Vicens for that part of the story.

The upshot is that duplicate images said to be of stolen hard drives containing actual, proprietary Dominion Voting System software, seemingly from Mesa County, was released at Lindell's Cyber Symposium and is now said to be out in the wild, as it was made available for download to pretty much anybody with the technical know-how to grab it.

This afternoon, we confirmed with legendary Finnish cybersecurity and voting systems expert Harri Hursti, who is at South Dakota conference, apparently serving as an analyst for a news outlet, that the hard drives do, in fact, contain Dominion's Election Management System (EMS) software, though not its source code, as some have reported via Twitter. As Dominion explains on its website, the EMS "Drives the entire election project through a single comprehensive database...From election definition to results reporting." It is, in short, the heart of the entire Dominion election system suite.

"What was shared were 3 different images of installed EMS systems," Hursti told me via email from Sioux Falls. "I can confirm that those were circulated for copying. It [isn't] source code as such, but part of the code is interpreted code, there is human readable and editable things there."

Hursti is well known in the voting system world, where his most notorious "white hat" hack of a Diebold voting system was revealed in HBO's Emmy-nominated 2006 documentary, Hacking Democracy; He was also featured in their 2020 Emmy-nominated Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America's Elections; and, in what may have been Hursti's first American film interview, my own with him in 2010's award-winning Murder, Spies and Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story. He also heads up the infamous DefCon Voting Village in Las Vegas each year, and most recently was tapped by the state of New Hampshire to oversee a very thorough, professional and transparent post-election audit to determine why the Diebold optical-scanners in the town of Windham miscounted several hundred votes in a State Representative race last November.

In other words, his credentials here are impeccable. Though what the dangers of the release of Dominion's software into the wild may be is still less than clear. Particularly as it pertains to the September 14th Gubernatorial Recall election now underway here in California. It's something that I am still trying to dig into. Dominion's EMS software is used in a number of large jurisdictions in the state, including San Diego County, San Francisco and Riverside Counties.

Earlier this week, I spoke on The BradCast with cybersecurity and voting system expert Rich DeMillo, founder of Georgia Tech's School of Cybersecurity and Privacy, about serious vulnerability concerns that have recently emerged [PDF] in a long-running federal lawsuit seeking to ban Dominion's touchscreen vote systems across the state of Georgia. How this new security breach may now come into play in either that case, here in California, or in any of the other many jurisdictions which use the same software across the nation, is unclear at the moment. One expert I spoke with this afternoon, however, said it does seem to prove yet again that "security by obscurity" (attempting to keep vulnerable software safe by keeping it a secret) doesn't actually work, especially when it comes to voting systems.

More on this story, I suspect, in the days ahead.

Finally, we close today with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, as Senate Dems move forward with critical climate legislation in their $3.5 trillion reconciliation package, even as deadly, climate change-fueled wildfires, heat waves and floods continue to wreak absolute havoc around the globe this week...

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Guest: Penn State climate scientist, author Dr. Michael E. Mann on the U.N. IPCC's alarming new 'code red for humanity' climate assessment
Also: TX warrants for arrest of Dem lawmakers; CDC urges vaccines for pregnant women; CA vax mandates for teachers; Senate Dems pass $3.5T reconciliation bill framework...
By Brad Friedman on 8/11/2021 6:27pm PT  

The Washington Post leads its story on this week's startling new climate assessment by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) by calling back to the earliest, prescient warnings issued by the panel more than 30 years ago "that humans were fueling a dangerous greenhouse effect and that if the world did not act collectively and deliberately to slow Earth’s warming, there could be 'profound consequences' for civilization itself. "The scientists were right," they declare, citing evidence from the latest alarming iteration of the IPCC's dire report released this week. But, as our guest, one of the scientists who contributed to the panel's 2001 Nobel Prize-winning assessment, explains on today's BradCast, there is still time to act to avoid the worst consequences of having ignored the early alarm bells. But we are very much now on a "knife's edge". [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up today, however, some very quick news: On Texas Republicans issuing arrest warrants for Democratic state lawmakers who are fighting to prevent the GOP legislature from instituting new voter suppression measures; On the CDC urging vaccination of pregnant women amid a surge in COVID hospitalizations, miscarriages and deaths of expectant mothers; On California mandating either vaccination or regular testing for all teachers and school staff as the new school year begins; And on the overnight passage in Congress of a framework for the Democrats' landmark $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill that is to designed to expand health care, child care, education and much more, including long overdue measures to finally take on our worsening climate emergency by reducing reliance on the fossil fuels that are quickly hastening the deadly effects of global warming.

Amid a summer marked by seemingly endless and catastrophic heat waves, wildfires, floods and droughts across the globe, the 6th IPCC Climate Assessment comes not a moment too soon. Described by the U.N. Secretary-General this week as a "code red for humanity", the latest report, coming 8 years after the previous one, now cites "unprecedented" warming that has already occurred, and unstoppable catastrophes to come if the nations of the world are unable to immediately begin to sharply decrease the dangerous burning of fossil fuels.

We're joined today by DR. MICHAEL E. MANN, Distinguished Professor and Director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. He is also the author of more than 160 peer-reviewed publications and numerous books on climate change and the battles to avoid its most cataclysmic effects. He is also one of the few climate scientists who spoke up early and loudly about the desperate need for action by our political leaders. Happily, as we also discuss today, there are now many more such scientists who have joined in that existential effort.

"What's different about this latest report is that now the scientists really are standing on the rooftop of the tallest building, shouting at the top of their lungs that dangerous climate change is here," Mann tells us. He says the new IPCC assessment "finally connects the dots in a way that previous reports haven't. And it does so in a profound way, because we are literally watching the disastrous impacts of climate change playing out right now in real time."

Mann breaks down what the new, non-partisan study, compiled by nearly 250 of the world's leading climatologists, synthesizing some 14,000 peer-reviewed studies from over the past 8 years, means for the public in general, policy makers specifically, as well as the fossil fuel industry and even his fellow scientists.

Policy makers "have to act now," he charges. "Not ten years from now. Not twenty years from now. We need to decarbonize the planet, our global economy, as quickly as possible." Mann also notes the "fortuitous timing" of the $3.5 trillion budget bill from President Biden and the Democrats now moving through Congress, which, he says, "really does have meaningful climate policy" to narrow "the implementation gap" between what politicians are saying and the "policies that actually get us there."

As to the science revealed by the U.N.'s new assessment, Mann details our various potential paths outlined by the report, predicated on the choices that world leaders now make, and whether any of those paths can prevent us from exceeding the maximum 2 degrees Celsius warming over pre-industrial times that scientists have long warned would result in irreversible damage to nature, society, and humanity itself.

"The report, I think, defensibly concludes that we can still prevent the worst impacts from playing out, if we can hold temperatures below 1.5C.  I think the weight of evidence suggests that we can still keep all of this within what you might call our 'adaptive capacity' as a civilization.  Once we go beyond 2C, you're starting to test the limits of that adaptive capacity. Once you get to 3C, 4C, or 5C, it's appropriate to start talking about civilization-ending climate change," Mann explains, before adding: "But we can avoid that.  That's a critical point.  That does not have to be our future. That's a future of inaction."

That, as the report notes global temperatures have already spiked by about 1.1 Celsius (almost 2 degrees Fahrenheit) on average since the 19th century, a trend which will almost certainly require decades to reverse, even under the best-case scenarios.

There is, of course, much more to our conversation, including what Mann derides as "doomism" among those inclined to take action to meet necessary goals such as reaching net-zero emissions by mid-century, if not earlier, but who may have decided that it's just too late, that only a miracle can save us now. He compares "doomism" to the worst of "denialism" by the fossil fuel-funded nihilist fighting AGAINST taking action. He also takes another shot at billionaire Bill Gates, whose book on climate Mann and I discussed on his previous appearance on the program earlier this year.

"To reduce carbon emissions, as the report says we need to, as energy experts say we can, we don't need a miracle , Bill Gates. Sorry. But we have the technology now to do this. What we need is the political willpower. If we do that, we really can keep the warming to a level we can adapt to."

Whether he's right remains to be seen. So far, however, the scientists have been right about pretty much everything else on this front. The only real question is if we're finally willing to listen to them and take the immediate action they have long been urging us to take...

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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...

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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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