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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, May 22, 2022
Longtime Election Observers Barred from Wake County, NC Count, Threatened with Arrest: 'BradCast' 5/20/22
Guests: Lynn Bernstein, John Brakey; Also: GA officials debunk 2000 Mules vote fraud claims...
GOP Sen. Candidates Used 'Replacement' Rhetoric of NY White Supremacist Shooter: 'BradCast' 5/19/22
Also: Cruz TX disbarment sought for 2020 steal effort; Young voters eager for 2022; MORE...
'Green News Report' 5/19/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
New U.N. climate change warning; Fossil fuel air pollution kills 50,000 per year in U.S.; Bloomberg's new clean air initiative; PLUS: Wildfires force national forest closures...
Recent GNRs: 5/17/22 - 5/12/22 - Archives...
Did GOP Election Officials Facilitate Vote Software Theft in GA?: 'BradCast' 5/18/22
'The system has been breached' says Marilyn Marks; Also: Primary results in NC, KY, OR, ID, PA...
'Widespread' Primary Day Vote System Failures in PA Counties: 'BradCast' 5/17/22
Also: Biden in Buffalo condemns racist lies spread 'for power, political gain and profit'...
'Green News Report' 5/17/22
U.S. wildfire risk doubling over next 30 years; Russia's energy and now food war; California hits 100% renewable electricity, as Texas struggles to keep the lights on...
'A Movement Not a Moment': Rev. Barber Says 'Consistency' Needed to Restore America: 'BradCast' 5/17/22
Guests: Rev. Dr. William J. Barber; Kenia Alcocer of CA Poor People's Campaign...
Sunday 'Undesirable Outcomes' Toons
You can chalk up PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection to the rightwing radicalism still unmooring our nation from facts and reality...
Attempted Stolen Election, Stolen Docs, and Murder: 'BradCast' 5/12/22
McCarthy's J6 subpoena; Trump's new fed grand jury; Eastman advised 2020 PA election theft; Trump, meat-packers collusion; DeSantis FL gerrymander nixed...
'Green News Report' 5/12/22
Great Barrier Reef bleaching again; Global warming and new diseases; Interior cancels offshore lease sales; PLUS: AZ, CA move to enact more severe drought restrictions...
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: Legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern on KBJ, the EPA, dark money in the federal judiciary and much more; Also: Latest good-ish news and bleak news out of Ukraine...
By Brad Friedman on 3/3/2022 6:34pm PT  

We continue the impossible balancing act on today's BradCast between coverage of the chilling news out of Ukraine and the somewhat less grim --- but still (mostly) grim --- news out of the federal judiciary in our own teetering democracy. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

FIRST, in our quick round-up of the latest developments in Russia's horrific assault against Ukraine:

  • Some good-ish news as the second round of peace talks results in a "possible temporary ceasefire" to establish humanitarian corridors in some areas of Ukraine to allow safe evacuation out of the country and for food and medical supplies to be brought in.
  • The UN says 1 million refugees have already fled Ukraine over the past week, a record for number to leave any nation that quickly this century. But, they warn, the number of displaced residents could rise to more than 4 million, and potentially as high as 10 million as the unspeakable violence continues.
  • More good-ish news in that the Pentagon has reportedly established a direct line of communication with the Russian defense ministry. The so-called "de-confliction line" has been established "for the purpose of preventing miscalculation, military incidents, and escalation," as AP is reporting.
  • The International Criminal Court is said to have opened an investigation into Russian war crimes and atrocities.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron, after a "not-so-friendly" call with Vladimir Putin, reports "the worst is yet to come" in the conflict.
  • According to its Mayor, Russian troops have finally taken control of a major city in Ukraine, the city of Kherson on the Black Sea near Crimea. Russian troops are said to be "laying siege" to the key nearby Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is pleading for more international assistance and calling on NATO to establish a no-fly zone over the country. That, however, would directly pull both U.S. and NATO into direct military conflict with Russia, sparking WWIII in the bargain.
  • And, in the U.S. House on Wednesday, a bipartisan, non-binding resolution "Supporting the people of Ukraine" and its sovereign territory, condemning Russia, was approved by an overwhelming 426 to 3 vote. The three members voting against were all Republicans: Reps. Paul Gosar of Arizona, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Matt Rosendale of Montana. The explanations from all three are appalling.

NEXT, it's back to U.S. news focused on the federal judiciary, with the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist at Slate, who, on the day that Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court back in January, told us that his "likely" successor would be Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Last week, she was nominated by President Biden to the High Court.

Among the many court-related matters discussed with Stern today (including several of them in a lightning round, as we tried to catch up with a boatload of news that has otherwise been overshadowed by the war in Eastern Europe)...

  • His thoughts on Judge Jackson, why he predicted back in January that she'd be nominated, what difference she can make on the GOP's stolen and packed Court, and what, if any, roadblocks may stand in the way of her confirmation as the first black woman to sit as a Justice.
  • This week's SCOTUS hearing on West Virginia v. EPA, a challenge by "red" states and the fossil fuel industry to President Obama's Clean Power Plan (which never went into effect) and Trump's subsequent program that replaced it (which was rolled back by the Court and also never went into effect). So why did the GOP's stolen and packed SCOTUS shock Court watchers by deciding to hear this case at all, since nobody has actually been harmed in any way? We discuss. But it's about not only gutting the EPA's statutory ability in the near future to regulate greenhouse gas emissions causing our deadly climate crisis, but also about undermining regulatory actions by all Executive Branch agencies (at least when a Democrat is in control of them.)
  • While the role of dark money in campaigns and elections is fairly well understood, how dark money affects appointments to the federal judiciary and the cases they hear is much less appreciated. Stern explains some of the many ways this has poisoned the U.S. judicial system.
  • Last week, SCOTUS turned away a challenge to Maine's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, filed by plaintiffs seeking a religious exemption. Why has the Court been allowing some state and local mandates to proceed, even without religious exemptions, while blocking others imposed by the Biden Administration? Stern explains.
  • Remember that 2018 decision by SCOTUS regarding a baker who didn't want to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple in Colorado? His bigotry was allowed, but for largely technical reasons. Now the Court has decided to hear yet another challenge to Colorado's anti-discrimination law from a woman who is considering expanding her web design business to create wedding sites. But, if she does, she doesn't want to create them for same sex weddings, in violation of CO's law. Stern explains that idiocy as well.
  • And, finally, in perhaps the most insane court story we discuss today, this one out of the far-right 5th federal Circuit. The lede from Stern's coverage at Salon this week should give you a taste of just how insane it actually is: "On Monday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stunning decision transferring control over the Navy’s special operations forces from the commander in chief to a single federal judge in Texas. The 5th Circuit’s decision marks an astonishing infringement of President Joe Biden’s constitutional authority over the nation’s armed forces, directing him to follow the instructions of an unelected judge—rather than his own admirals—in deploying [Navy] SEALs. High-ranking military personnel have testified under oath that this power grab constitutes a direct threat to the Navy’s operational abilities. As Russia invades Ukraine and declares a nuclear alert, Donald Trump’s judges are actively threatening America’s national security."

FINALLY, Desi Doyen joins us for an only slightly less insane Green News Report: On Biden's SOTU, on Russia's oil and gas industry getting pummeled because of its attack on Ukraine; and some VERY encouraging news about wind energy...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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US v. ISIS; Omicron falling, deaths rising; Good swing-state redistricting news; Biden EPA applying brakes on DeJoy's insane, corrupt USPS gas-powered delivery truck boondoggle...
By Brad Friedman on 2/3/2022 6:30pm PT  

Like the Energizer Bunny, the stories on today's BradCast are still going and going and going... [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among them...

The Never-Ending "Global War on Terror": An overnight, on-the-ground U.S. special forces led raid on a house in northwestern Syria is said to have taken out the latest leader of ISIS, along with more than a dozen others, including six children. We share what we know via sources from Al Jazeera to New York Times to President Biden.

The Never-Ending Coronavirus: As quickly as it spiked, Omicron is now falling in almost every state in the nation. But COVID deaths are still on the rise (averaging about 2,600 per day) and hospitals are still up against it. Almost all entirely thanks to the unvaccinated who are now 60 times more likely to die from the disease than those who have received their shots.

The Never-Ending Assault on Democracy: Following the good redistricting news yesterday out of New York state, more good news today from the critical swing-state of Pennsylvania, where the state Supreme Court has jumped into the redistricting fight between the Keystone State's Democratic Governor and its (gerrymandered) Republican state legislature. The 5-2 Dem majority state Supremes have determined they will have the last word on new maps soon and that's likely good news for American democracy.

The Never-Ending Madness of DeJoy's USPS: It's insanity really. It's also wildly corrupt. Donald Trump's still-in-his-position-for-some-reason Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is overseeing a massive Postal Service contract to purchase 165,000 new mail delivery trucks to replace its aging, 30-year old fleet, which averaged 10 miles per gallon. Instead of moving to all-electric vehicles, the $11.3 billion purchase with a Wisconsin-based defense contractor (for some reason) will consist of 90% gasoline-powered trucks for use over the next several decades, despite boasts from DeJoy's PR team that the trucks are more fuel-efficient than the old fleet, with an increase of 0.4 MPG! The Biden EPA is hoping to put the brakes on the independent federal agency. They've found the service's environmental analysis to be wildly flawed and is directing them to start over before replacing a full one-third of the federal fleet with more climate destroying vehicles that will emit the equivalent of 4.3 million gas-powered passenger vehicles over their expected lifespan. The details in WaPo's exclusive on this catastrophic boondoggle illustrate nothing less than mind-bending madness amid our worsening climate emergency.

The Never-Ending Climate Crisis: Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with bad news on gas stoves and on a massive chemical fire in NC; but good news on the U.S. Interior Department distributing billions of job-creating dollars to states to clean up millions of leaking, toxic, abandoned oil and gas wells across the country, as part of Biden's recently signed infrastructure law...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Const'l attorney John Bonifaz of FSFP; Also: Trump more involved in 2020 gambit to seize voting machines than previously known...
By Brad Friedman on 2/1/2022 6:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Self-declared Republican "Constitutionalists" may not turn out to be huge fans of the written text of the U.S. Constitution after all. Particularly Section 3 of the 14th Amendment which bars from federal office those "who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States...to support the Constitution of the United States...engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same." [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

That's turning out to be very bad news right now for North Carolina's Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn. It could also turn out to be bad news in the not too distant for other members of the MAGA Caucus in Congress and even our disgraced former President --- even if that might be good news for the rest of the nation.

Last month, an official complaint [PDF] was filed by voters with NC's State Board of Elections, charging that Cawthorn must be disqualified from running for re-election this year in the Tar Heel State. The freshman Congressman reportedly participated in planning meetings for the rallies in advance of the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, 2021 and spoke at the rally on the Eclipse in front of the White House prior to Donald Trump's speech directing supporters to head to the Capitol and "fight like hell". Cawthorn also joined dozens of other members of the House and Senate that day in voting against Joe Biden's Electoral College victory, despite the lack of evidence of fraud that might have changed the certified results of the election in any state.

The effort to block Cawthorn's candidacy in NC is the first official volley in the 14Point3.org campaign created by good government groups Free Speech for People and Our Revolution. NC state law requires that candidates must meet all requirements for office as detailed in the U.S. Constitution and further requires potential candidates to disprove any challenges to those qualifications, such as their age, legal residency, citizenship status or, in this case, whether or not they've "engaged in insurrection or rebellion" against the U.S. Constitution.

We're joined today by longtime Constitutional law expert JOHN BONIFAZ, co-founder and President of the non-partisan, non-profit Free Speech for People, to discuss this rather amazing and actually quite serious challenge to Cawthorn's candidacy and perhaps additional challenges to other insurrectionist candidates such as Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Lauren Boebert of Colorado and potentially even one Donald J. Trump.

"It's a 'novel' challenge in the sense that it's the first such challenge since the Reconstruction Era," Bonifaz tells me, while noting that "during that time, Section 3 of the 14th Amendment was applied to many Confederates who remained in positions of government power." But, he explains, "the Framers of the 14th Amendment were clear that if you take an oath of office to defend and protect the Constitution, and then you turn around and engage in insurrection or give aid and comfort to it, then you are prohibited from holding future public office. Now, we have the second insurrection in our nation's history and those who incited the insurrection or gave aid or comfort to it must also face accountability under that mandate."

The challenge is serious enough that, on Monday, Cawthorn filed a federal lawsuit in hopes of quashing the inquiry into his role on January 6th. His lawsuit claims that the State Board has no authority to keep him off the ballot. Bonifaz describes the claim as absurd. "If Madison Cawthorn were ten years old and seeking to be on the ballot in North Carolina, there'd be no question that he's ineligible to be placed on the ballot because he doesn't meet the age qualification for a member of Congress. This is another qualification requirement --- you cannot take an oath of office, as Madison Cawthorn did on Jan. 3, 2021, and then turn around and engage in insurrection and hold public office again."

"Instead of complying with the process that is laid out under state law, he has now rushed to federal court with his attorney to try to completely declare the whole process by which candidate qualifications are brought to be unconstitutional" Bonifaz contends. "If it's so hard for him to prove that he's not an insurrectionist, maybe the real question is why Section 3 of the 14th Amendment should not be applied to him."

"If he's really nervous about appearing before the State Board of Elections, that may be a real indication that the Board needs to act in the voters' favor. But the very fact that he's doing an end run around the state process and rushing into federal court ought to tell you a lot about whether Madison Cawthorn wants to appear before the State Board of Elections to defend himself."

Cawthorn's attorney has also offered another unique defense. He charges that the last part of Section 3 states that "Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability" and that the Amnesty Act of 1872 declared just that. Yes, Cawthorn is relying on the dispensation given specifically to former Confederate rebels in 1872 to try and remain on the ballot in 2022. Bonifaz explains on today's program why he is less than impressed with that defense.

For the moment, while there is a separate legal challenge to NC's newly gerrymandered Congressional maps, the qualifications process for all candidates in the state is on hold. Once the maps are settled, however, Bonifaz says the Board's "longstanding process by which voters can bring these kinds of challenges" includes creating a panel that will have 20 days to hear the case in which Cawthorn will have to defend himself, before the matter goes to the full Board and then, potentially, to state court on appeal.

One way or another, the matter must be settled in a few months before the state's primary election. It has resulted in a fascinating conversation among Constitutional law experts on the matter of what it means to "engage" in an insurrection. Bonifaz explains why he believes that conviction for sedition or insurrection in a court of law is not necessary to trigger the Constitutional clause. And if Cawthorn is, in fact, disqualified from running in North Carolina based on restrictions in the U.S. Constitution, what will that mean for other such insurrectionist candidates in other states in 2022 and, indeed, for Trump himself, if and when he attempts to become a candidate on the ballot again in the critical and closely divided swing-state in 2024? All of that, and much more is discussed on today's program.

Also today, speaking of insurrectionist Trump, new exclusives late last night from both CNN and the New York Times suggest that the disgraced, twice-impeached former President was much more personally involved in the attempt to seize the nation's voting machines following the 2020 election than previously reported. Also, that his efforts were far broader than previously known. CNN reports that there were actually two different Executive Orders drafted up for Trump's use. One was recently obtained by Politico, which we discussed last week. That one would have ordered the Department of Defense to seize the machines. The other order would have directed the Department of Homeland Security to do so. Team Trump was reportedly told by DHS that the federal agency lacked the authority to impound the voting systems.

But the Times offers new details on a third effort, which included a personal appeal by Trump in the Oval Office to his then Attorney General Bill Barr to have DOJ impound the voting systems. Barr, to his credit, is said to have immediately shot down the idea, telling the desperate loser that, since there was no evidence of fraud on the systems, the DoJ had no probable cause to believe they had been used in any crime. Trump's A.G. tendered his resignation shortly thereafter.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with bad news for fans of winter sports and good news for opponents of more deadly oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: Tensions boil in Russia-Ukraine standoff; SCOTUS takes affirmative action cases...
By Brad Friedman on 1/24/2022 6:38pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we pick up, in no small part, where we left off on Friday's show regarding that chilling, newly unearthed, December 16, 2020 draft Executive Order [PDF] created for Donald Trump to allow him to declare a national security emergency, seize the nation's voting systems, and implement a military coup that would have left him in power after the 2020 election's actual winner, Joe Biden, was supposed to have been sworn in. We are joined today by the woman whose organization's federal lawsuit in Georgia was quoted extensively in that draft EO as a pretext for seizing the nation's voting systems. Of course, the MAGA Mob lied about the ruling they quoted from her lawsuit in the never-issued EO. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

But first, we cover some quick news headlines today...

  • Just before airtime, the Fulton County, Georgia Superior Court reportedly approved District Attorney Fani Willis' request for the creation of a Special Grand Jury to aid her ongoing investigation into the criminal conspiracy to steal the state's 2020 Presidential election by Trump and others in his cabal, potentially including former WH Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and Trump buddy Sen. Lindsey Graham among others.
  • Then, news on the quickly ratcheting tensions in Ukraine, where Russia continues to amass thousands of troops on their eastern border in preparation, according to NATO and the U.S., for an invasion of the former Soviet Union satellite country. Russia, on the other hand, says it has no intention of invading and is simply responding to provocations by NATO and the West. We detail the latest as tensions continue to grow by the hour --- along with new military hardware in the region --- on all sides.
  • Also on Monday, the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court announced plans to take up two cases next term on affirmative action in college admissions. One case challenges the use of race in Harvard's admissions policies, the other looks at similar policies at the public University of North Carolina. The Court's decision to hear these cases, despite multiple cases in recent years confirming the Constitutionality of such policies, signals the likelihood that the newly far-right 6 to 3 Court is looking to overturn long-standing precedent on race-based policies. Such a reversal of otherwise settled law would echo similarly radical moves in other recent rightwing hobby horse cases taken up by this Court regarding abortion, gun rights, voting rights, vaccine mandates, and environmental regulations.

Then we're joined by MARILYN MARKS, longtime election integrity, security and transparency advocate and Executive Director of the non-partisan Coalition for Good Governance. It was a ruling in the Coalition's long-standing lawsuit seeking to ban Georgia's new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems made by Dominion Voting Systems that was quoted, at length, in the December 2020 draft Executive Order [PDF] that was to direct Trump's Secretary of Defense to immediately seize the nation's voting systems and institute a military coup to keep him in office.

The EO quotes a ruling in the Coalition's case made by U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg just prior to the November 2020 election. In it, as we reported at the time, she recognized the massive vulnerabilities in Georgia's new Dominion touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems, but allowed them for first-time use in the 2020 election anyway. The previous year, as part of the very same lawsuit, Judge Totenberg finally banned the state's controversial, 20-year old, unverifiable, insecure touchscreen systems made by Diebold, finding the vulnerabilities made them unconstitutional for use in Georgia's elections. Rather than replace those old systems with verifiable hand-marked paper ballot systems, Georgia's Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger forced every county in the state to switch to the new, unverifiable Dominion systems which share many of the same problems as those they replaced.

In the draft EO, after citing Totenberg's 2020 ruling at length, the drafters of the document (likely Sidney Powell and Michael Flynn, among others), falsely claim that "Every defect and hazard of which Judge Totenberg warned, happened in Georgia."

Marks, whose has joined us many times on this program over the years to discuss her legitimate case to ban those Dominion systems in Georgia (a case which continues), offers her reaction today to seeing a ruling from her case included in the EO drafted for Trump's military coup.

"I was ready for the whole world to know about our lawsuit --- those who don't listen to you --- but this is not the way I wanted to have it happen!," quips Marks. "Because, of course, it is a totally serious lawsuit and this [EO] is preposterous, silly and crazy. And chilling, as well!"

She says that she was "horrified" when she first saw the news come in via headlines. "It's just so shocking that this would have gotten on paper anywhere, that anybody could have these ideas to use the judge's very serious ruling, to take it totally out, twist the words [and] wrap it in a bunch of lies. It's really so sad and scary."

Marks notes as well that, while there are indeed very serious vulnerabilities in Georgia's new voting systems (and others like it in use around the country) making them "hackable", the evidence-free (and/or wholly inaccurate) claims made by the Trumpers in the EO about them having been manipulated "is just so false. It's unbelievable that someone could get away with putting that on paper because there's no evidence that any of those things happened. Yes, there were problems [in Georgia]. Yes, those problems need to be resolved. But certainly not what these people are claiming."

She also explains why, even if the Pentagon had seized the voting machines in Georgia as the document called for, they were not likely to find the "malware" they pretended was on those systems in November of 2020 because the systems had already been wiped for upcoming municipal elections and the January U.S. Senate runoffs by that time in December.

We go on to discuss how both this newly revealed EO and all of the phony, evidence-free claims that the 2020 election was stolen --- as part of Trump's actual efforts to steal the election --- has made the fight for election integrity all the more difficult for real advocates. In response, she argues that many Democrats are now even more afraid to take action on anything that has to do with concerns about voting systems. Some, she notes, are even working to make such systems less transparent in the bargain. "So what we are seeing is some pushback that is really unhealthy in terms of let's reduce transparency, let's reduce citizen oversight, thinking that somehow that will quiet the citizens talking about the problems. It's a dangerous reaction," warns Marks...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Also: The Prospect's Harold Meyerson on how Biden and Dems can build back 'Build Back Better' before mid-terms; And: Shell's billion dollar Canadian 'carbon capture' facility EMITS more than it captures!...
By Brad Friedman on 1/21/2022 6:50pm PT  

Trump's never-issued draft Executive Order to seize the nation's voting machines in December of 2020 has now been released, and it contains a surprise or two that may sound familiar to BradCast listeners! Also today, some thoughts from our guest on how President Biden and Democrats may still be able to salvage the critical Build Back Better agenda recently blocked by Lord Manchin and Lady Sinema. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, the National Archives is believed to have turned over most of the hundreds --- and perhaps thousands --- of documents subpoenaed by the House Select Committee investigating Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election with his attack on the U.S. Capitol and other actions. The documents from the Trump White House were handed over to the Committee this week following the crushing, 8 to 1 defeat [PDF] issued to the disgraced former President by his own stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday.

One of the many documents we've been looking forward to seeing was said to be a never-issued draft Executive Order on "Election Integrity", supposedly directing the Dept. of Defense to seize the nation's computerized voting and tabulation systems on the baseless premise that they had all been hacked or manipulated in some fashion, and to establish a Special Counsel to investigate and prosecute the criminals responsible.

That draft EO was obtained and published today by Politico's Betsy Woodruff Swan. The 3-page order [PDF], dated December 16, 2020, directs the Secretary of Defense, "effective immediately", to "seize, collect, retain and analyze all machines, equipment, electronically stored information, and material records required for retention under" the federal law related to the preservation of election materials.

Happily, the Order was never actually issued. But, as we detail today, it's still stunning on several levels. For one, it quotes at some length from a 2020 ruling [PDF] by U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg in the long-standing federal lawsuit challenging Georgia's use of new, unverifiable computerized Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems made by Dominion. That lawsuit was filed years ago by the non-profit Coalition for Good Governance.

If that all sounds familiar, it may be because we have covered that specific case on this program for many years now, as filed by the Coalition headed up by founder and longtime election security champion Marilyn Marks. She has joined us countless times on this program to discuss it, including after the complaint saw its biggest victory when Totenberg banned the state's 20-year old touchscreen voting systems made by Diebold, after she ruled them to be unverifiable, unsecure and, therefore, unconstitutional. Shamefully, Georgia's Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger subsequently replaced them with Dominion's equally unverifiable and vulnerable touchscreen systems, despite many warnings from voting system and cybersecurity experts. Totenberg's 2020 ruling, quoted in the draft Trump EO, allowed those new systems to be used for the first time that year anyway, despite the vulnerabilities, while issuing clear notice that she may well end up banning their use as well in the future.

The unidentified Trumpers who wrote the draft Executive Order titled "PRESIDENTIAL FINDINGS TO PRESERVE COLLECT AND ANALYZE NATIONAL SECURITY INFORMATION REGARDING THE 2020 GENERAL ELECTION", peppered the draft with lies about evidence of "probable cause" that Dominion's systems --- (as well as those made by about 8 other companies, several of which don't even deploy voting systems in the U.S., much less in the states Trump was challenging) --- were manipulated by "a massive cyber-attack by foreign interests". The Trumpers used the 2020 federal court ruling out of Georgia to further their evidence-free claims and even lied to say that "Every defect and hazard of which Judge Totenberg warned happened in Georgia."

If so, there is absolutely zero evidence to that end, according to one of the Coalition's experts on the case, Dr. Philip Stark of UC-Berkeley. He told me today via email that while "the vulnerabilities undeniably exist" in those Dominion voting systems, "there is (so far) no evidence that they were exploited in 2020 --- contrary to the claims in the draft EO."

In addition to misidentifying voting system vendors (and some of their actual correct names), the Order would have also directed the Sec. of Defense to compile an assessment of the matter in 60 days which, as Woodruff Swan observes, "could have been a gambit to keep Trump in power until at least mid-February of 2021."

The unissued Order is dated just two days before a much-reported, lengthy, reportedly "bonkers" meeting in the Oval Office with Trump, his disgraced former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne (for some reason), and loony conspiracist attorney Sidney Powell, who reportedly hoped to be named as a Special Counsel to oversee this emergency "national security" matter after the systems were seized. The final directive in the draft EO calls for the appointment of "a Special Counsel to oversee this operation and institute all criminal and civil proceedings [and to be] provided all resources necessary to carry out her duties." [Emphasis added.]

All of this underscores at least two important things. 1) Just how close this country under Trump came to an actual military coup ordered by the President of the United States to undermine and steal a Presidential election. And 2) The warnings that we have issued for nearly two decades now about how computerized voting systems that are so opaque and impossible for the public to actually oversee when they create and/or tally votes in secret, that --- even when they work as designed --- still allow for disingenuous cretins and liars like Team Trump to claim that they did not. That, in and of itself, as we have long warned, poses a grave threat to democracy and, clearly, national security. This matter should finally make that point crystal clear.

Before that story broke this afternoon, we had planned for our lede story today to be about how (and if) Joe Biden and Democrats can retrench and get their transformative Build Back Better agenda back on course, after both it and critical voting rights and election protection legislation were all blocked by Senate Republicans and Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.

We're joined today by HAROLD MEYERSON, longtime progressive columnist and editor at The American Prospect to discuss just that. He wrote about it earlier this week, before his suggestion for breaking up the Build Back Better act into small chunks (and hold votes to put everyone on record for the stuff that was being blocked) was echoed by President Biden during his press conference two days later.

As usual, it is an insightful and very lively conversation on all of that and more with the delightful Meyerson today.

Finally, we close with a story out of Canada on the billion dollar "carbon capture" facility built by Shell as a demonstration for how their new technology could remove dangerous emissions from the air and allow for the continued use of fossil fuels in a climate changed world. As it turns out, according to a new report this week, the facility actually emits more greenhouse gasses than it captures. Go figure!...

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Guest: American Prospect's David Dayen; Also: Omicron lab studies suggest booster shots critical; Congressional priorities laid bare...
By Brad Friedman on 12/8/2021 6:15pm PT  

The U.S. economy, of course, has been rigged for years. The pandemic, in the meantime, has now made that clearer than ever. Not that the corporate media is bothering to explain it to Americans. So, w try to do so on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up, results from several, eagerly awaited new lab studies on the effectiveness of the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna on the Omicron variant have been released over the past 24 hours. Two independent studies, one from South Africa and another from Sweden, along with a press release on findings of a study by Pfizer, all suggest that getting a booster shot as soon as possible is the best way to avoid severe illness both from Omicron and all of the other previously-known variants. We walk you through the details and explain the findings today.

The upshot: Two vaccine doses and natural immunity from COVID is way better against Omicron than just two vaccine doses. Two vaccine doses and a booster shot is as good or better than two doses and COVID. So, unless you want to try your luck by getting COVID to protect yourself against it, a booster shot, right now, is your very best best. That, as infections, hospitalizations and deaths are all beginning to sky-rocket again, as the nation is on the verge of 800,000 COVID deaths.

Next, we've been reporting for the past several weeks on the lousy job the corporate media have been doing in covering what is, overall, a surprisingly robust economic recovery in the first year of the Biden Administration, as the nation (and world) struggles to emerge from our nearly two-year pandemic.

One of the media's worst and most misleading points of coverage has been on the matter of inflation. And, while our regular, global supply chains have certainly become knotted up, leading to legitimate upward price pressures, much of the added costs for goods and services is now thanks to good old profiteering and price fixing by companies which have been enjoying record profits, even during the worst of the pandemic and subsequent supply chain snarls.

As our guest today, author and financial journalist DAVID DAYEN, Executive Editor of The American Prospect recently reported, "In a time of high inflation, you hear a lot about companies 'passing costs' on to customers. In order for companies to maintain their God-given right to earn a profit, they must raise prices to offset the cost of producing goods and getting them into peoples’ hands. And thanks mostly to the hidden risk, exposed by the pandemic, of neoliberal gospels like just-in-time logistics, deregulation, and offshoring, prices really are going up."

"But," he continues, "there’s something else mixed in with this latest bout of inflation. Companies aren’t just passing costs onto us. With corporations using inflation as a cover for raising their prices, you and I are passing profits onto companies."

Dayen, author of the new book Monopolized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power, details how companies are not only profiteering, price-fixing and colluding to do so, they're actually bragging about it, out loud, on corporate earnings calls. That is sending up both stock prices and profits up for hundreds of the most profitable public corporations, many of whom have monopolistically been allowed to corner their markets, giving consumers few, if any, cheaper alternatives for the products and services they sell. Companies that don't play ball --- like Target, which announced they would not be raising prices --- have been punished, in turn, by Wall Street for daring to do so.

"The problem is that we have a business climate today where people have locked in their customer base. Your customers can't escape, because we have a series of consolidated companies that have a stranglehold on market share, and we don't even know that it's happening. You stroll down a grocery aisle and you see hundreds of items, but you don't know that the same handful of companies have created all of them," Dayen explains today. "And that's why you have large companies like Proctor & Gamble and Unilever saying 'We know we can raise prices on people...and we don't have to worry about any kind of material reaction.'" The same is true, of course, with many other companies, such as the Big Oil cartel, which is raking in record profits as raw materials fall, but failing to reflect those falling costs at the pump.

So, what, if anything, can be done about it? Are Presidents and their Administrations actually able to take actions that might roll back the corporate profiteering? Yes, Dayen explains, at least some, both with the use of the bully pulpit --- which, in the model of JFK, Biden has begun to try and do --- and also with the use of existing anti-trust and anti-price-fixing laws that are still on the books today, if rarely enforced.

"It is price-fixing," Dayen tells me. "But we don't spend a whole lot of time on that anymore in America. It's still unlawful. It's still occasionally prosecuted. And now we do have a different regime at places like the Federal Trade Commission, and the anti-trust division at the Justice Department." He believes that several key, progressive Biden appointments at both may be able to "turn the tide" back against corporate mergers and unapologetic (and potentially unlawful) corporate greed. "There is certainly a faction within the White House that feels like this is a serious problem and that we have to do everything possible to stamp it out," he says, but "they're swimming upstream, as it were."

There is a lot on these points to discuss with Dayen today. As well, we also get his reaction to the announcement today that Biden is withdrawing his nomination of Saule Omarova as Comptroller of the Currency, a key banking regulator, after red-baiting by Republican Senators (she was born in the Soviet Union) and concerns from conservative Democrats that she might be too tough on big banks. He also offers his two cents on our complaints, of late, about the terrible job that corporate media are doing in covering both Joe Biden and the economy.

Finally, after months of pretend complaints by Republicans and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin that spending $1.75 trillion in paid-for taxpayer dollars to expand health care, education, child care, elder care, and fight climate change over the next ten years in the Build Back Better bill is just too much money to spend for a poor country like ours, the House on Tuesday night, in record time, passed its latest annual defense spending bill with a lopsided bi-partisan vote in favor (opposed largely only by progressive Democrats). It'll cost nearly one trillion dollar ($768 billion, $24 billion more than the Biden Administration even asked for) for one single year of military spending --- much of which will go to stuff we never use and/or literally blow up.

Priorities.

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Guest: Jon Schwarz of The Intercept: Also: 'QAnon Shaman' gets 3+ years (while Trump runs free); Gosar censured by House; Biden seeks probe of Big Oil profiteering; Sanders on Defense spending hypocrisy...
By Brad Friedman on 11/17/2021 6:18pm PT  

Yes, inflation is real. But the panic around it is, if you will, wildly inflated and horribly misreported by the American corporate media. As Paul Waldman notes at WaPo this afternoon, "Inflation is a genuine problem, but it's hardly spinning out of control. Inflation PANIC, on the other hand, is getting ridiculous." Our guest on today's BradCast made the same argument last week as the media touched off the panic. He joins us to explain and go even further than Waldman. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up, the so-called 'QAnon Shaman' Jacob Chansley, the guy with face paint and a horned hat who took control of the dais in the U.S. Senate during the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, was sentenced to 41 months in prison on Wednesday. That's more than three and a half years, for a man with mental issues who was not particularly violent while serving as a henchman for Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election that day. Meanwhile, the organizers and planners of the assault --- namely Donald Trump himself and a whole bunch of others --- have faced zero accountability, much less jail time for their crimes lighting the fire in the first place.

In more accountability news, Arizona's far-right Republican Rep. Paul Gosar was censured by the U.S. House in response to an animated video he posted to Twitter, appearing to show him murdering Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and threatening the same for President Biden. House Republicans refused to reprimand him, so a rare censure vote was held today and Gosar was removed from his House committee assignments in the bargain. He's the second Republican to be removed from committee seats this year, after Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) faced a similar punishment for support of violent threats against Democrats prior to being elected and a similar failure by her own caucus to take action in any way. Accountability is always good, but, as with Chansley's punishment, there are some nuances and concerns worth discussing on this point as well today.

And, before we get to our guest, President Biden on Wednesday asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate potentially "illegal conduct" by Big Oil companies such as ExxonMobil and Chevron who may be inflating gas prices, even as their profits have risen and the cost of refined fuel has fallen. But the recent spike in prices at the pump has helped fuel economy-wide inflation. That, in turn --- thanks, at least in part, to some really bad reporting by the American corporate media --- has also undercut Biden's approval ratings, and is being used (disingenuously) to try and jeopardize passage of Biden's Build Back Better (BBB) social spending and climate change reconciliation bill.

Unlike the recently signed $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, the $1.75 trillion BBB is fully paid for with increases on taxes to corporations and the wealthy. And, unlike stimulus bills passed recently under both this President and the previous one, the BBB's spending is spread over the next decade, instead of as a quick jolt to the economic system. Thus, the consensus of economic experts is that it will not cause inflation and its expansion of the economy may, in fact, help ease inflation in several ways, particularly for the working class.

Still, West Virginia's obstructionist Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is using inflation fears again to try and put the brakes on the BBB package, and the corporate media are certainly helping him. For example, while largely ignoring undeniably positive news about the economy in recent months --- on everything from record job growth to very low unemployment to three months of rising retail sales --- last week, the media offered breathless reports on new inflation numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

You may recall some of the panic when the media informed us that inflation had risen to a record 6.2% in October! If true, a one month 6.2% increase in prices would be a panic. But, in truth, inflation was just 0.9 percent last month. As our guest today points out, "products that cost $10.00 in September now cost a terrifying $10.09." But lost in the panicked coverage was that the 6.2% rise in retail prices was in comparison to what they were a full year ago, in the middle of the worst of the pandemic. They didn't rise "6.2% in October" as many have misleadingly reported.

But all of that also ignores something else that most Americans do not understand about inflation, according to our guest today: It can actually be good for the working class and very very bad for corporations, in particular, for big banks. That may be just one of the reasons why media are so quick to report on inflation numbers as terrible, terrible news for the country.

We're joined today by JON SCHWARZ of The Intercept to explain all of this, as he detailed recently in an article with what he admits is "a little bit of a troll-y headline", "Inflation is Good for You". In fact, as we discuss, he's not entirely "troll-y" on that point. For one, the booming economy has resulted in rising wages (for the first time in years) at almost the same rate as inflation over the past year. He notes at The Intercept: "As prices increased 6.2 percent over the past year, wages for regular people went up 5.8 percent. In other words, inflation barely touched their purchasing power."

The larger point, however, that he explains today is why inflation can be actually be good for workers but not for big corporations like banks: "Household debt in the United States is a gigantic number, difficult to comprehend. It's like $14.5 trillion --- that is mortgages, credit card debt, student debt, it's a whole bunch of things... And when there's inflation of this kind, 6.2%, that is around $850 billion-worth of that debt falling in value. That is a transfer of wealth from creditors, the people who loaned out the money, to borrowers."

Those creditors/lenders "are the richest people in America, and they are losing a lot of money. And they don't like that! People with tons of money do not like losing enormous amounts of it," Schwarz notes. "Inflation is the absolute worst for people who have loaned out a lot of money. It is something that is never discussed, because it is a sort of clear class issue. It makes you realize that, just as a great economy for regular people is not so great for people at the top, it makes you think about what inflation actually does, and who it affects the most."

While he recognizes that "inflation can be real trouble for some people," (and there is some nuance here) the overall effects are often more positive for the working class and not even particularly harmful to those on a fixed income, such as the elderly living on Social Security, which increases each year as its tied to inflation.

There is a lot to discuss on this matter that the corporate media fail to adequately cover (for reasons which we also discuss) while misleading the nation and delighting Republicans and, yes, Joe Manchin, who has fresh (if false) evidence to use in further cutting back on Biden's Build Back Better agenda or even stopping it dead in its tracks.

Finally, as long as we're myth busting today, Congress is preparing to approve the annual National Defense Authorization Act, with nearly as much spending --- for one single year --- as BBB would cost over ten years. Yet, you'll hear almost nothing about how the U.S. can't afford to spend so much money, or that it might lead to inflation, etc. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has a thought or two on all of that, with which we close today's program...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 10/25/2021 8:23pm PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Historic storm slams drought-stricken Western U.S., as climate-intensified extreme weather threatens 90 million Americans across the nation; U.N. study finds greenhouse gas emissions hit new record highs in 2020; PLUS: New reports warn man-made climate change poses a serious and growing threat to national and global security... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

GNR's now celebrating 12 YEARS of independent green news, politics, analysis, snarky comment and connecting climate change dots over your public airwaves!
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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): 2050: what happens if we ignore the climate crisis; The world needs to cut its emissions 7x as fast to hit climate goals, UN report finds; EPA deems 'forever chemical' toxic to humans; Total Oil accused of downplaying risk from fossil fuel for decades; Manchin pushes for more climate cuts from budget bill; Natural gas leaks in homes vastly under-reported; Unchecked oil and gas wastewater threatens CA groundwater... PLUS: Plastic's GHG emissions could outpace those from coal by 2030, report warns ... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Trump lawyers sanctioned, will face disbarment probes; Capitol officers sue Trump; Terror suspect sentenced in MI Guv kidnap plot; House files massive 1/6 records requests; TX AG Paxton clears TX AG Paxton; More...
By Brad Friedman on 8/26/2021 6:57pm PT  

Donald Trump tried to steal the 2020 election. We really must stop describing his efforts and those by his supporters as "questioning the results" or "claiming fraud" or "trying to overturn the election." The fact is, Trump tried to steal it. He used every means at his disposal to try and do so. Thankfully, he is largely a failure at pretty much everything, so it didn't work, though we now know it came exceedingly close. So, let's start calling it for what it is: An unprecedented attempted by a President of the United States to try and steal a Presidential election. To that end, accountability is now happening. Slowly but quite assuredly, along with a number of other related accountability stories on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

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

  • Some of the breaking news on today's terror attack at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan, which killed at least 13 U.S. service members and 60 Afghans and seriously injured many more. ISIS-K, an off-shoot of the Islamic State and an enemy of the Taliban, has claimed responsibility for the attack by two suicide bombers. If anything, Thursday's tragedy amidst the largest airlift in U.S. history --- following the swift takeover of the country by the Taliban --- simply serves to underscore even further why the U.S. pullout must continue, and why we certainly shouldn't have been there for 20 years (if at all);
  • In much less horrific news, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) released its 2020 post-election survey [PDF] of various voting and election-related data from all 50 states last year. While The Guardian's Sam Levine characterizes the report as proving the election was "a remarkable success", we explain why that may be a bit of an overstatement. That said, the data does reveal yet again that, while there were far too many rejections of absentee and mail-in ballots (as is always the case, but especially amid pandemic voting last year), there is still no evidence at all to even suggest that the Presidential election was stolen in any way, shape or form by Joe Biden, the Democrats or anyone else. Not that Donald Trump didn't try (and fail) to do exactly that, of course;
  • In much brighter related news, a federal judge in Michigan on Wednesday brought some serious accountability down on nine of the Trump attorneys, including Sidney Powell and Lin Wood, who both helped Trump try to steal the 2020 election by filing fraudulent lawsuits, in this case in Michigan, fraudulently claiming that the election was stolen, using fraudulent claims about fraud. All nine lawyers were excoriated by U.S. District Court Judge Linda V. Parker's scathing 110-page order [PDF], which should (hopefully) end each of the attorneys' careers as officers of the court. Parker mandated the Trump lawyers pay attorneys fees accrued by the city of Detroit and state of Michigan in defending against the "frivolous" so-called "Kraken" lawsuit; take 12 hours of legal classes each (including 6 on Election Law); and, most importantly, face investigations for possible suspension and/or disbarment by legal authorities in each of their home states;
  • More accountability for Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election, specifically for the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol that he incited as part of that effort. Seven Capitol Police officers on Thursday filed a lawsuit [PDF] against Trump, several far-right extremist groups charged with aiding the deadly plot, and even against Trump associates like Roger Stone. It is, as the New York Times describes it, "the most expansive civil effort to date seeking to hold Mr. Trump and his allies legally accountable." Trump is already facing two other similar lawsuits filed by the NAACP and by Rep. Eric Swalwell. But, no doubt, the disgraced former President and his supporters will see this new complaint differently, because it is filed by police officers and, as you know, Republicans always "back the blue", right?;
  • That lawsuit follows just one day after the bi-partisan U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6th attack issued a massive series of records requests to at least 8 different federal agencies for documents related to Trump's movements, actions and meetings on January 6th, and in the weeks and months both before and after. The requests were sent to, among others, the FBI, Dept. of Homeland Security and National Archives, where Presidential White House records are stored. Trump is apparently livid about the effort, describing it as a "partisan exercise" being carried out by a "Leftist" House Committee. (That may come as a surprise to "Leftist" Committee members Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger);
  • In still more accountability news today, tangentially related to Trump's attempt to steal last year's election in Michigan: The sentence for the first domestic terrorist, among some 13 charged in the plot to kidnap Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last year, was handed down on Wednesday. A 25-year old man who, according to Justice Department prosecutors, cooperated with the investigation after initially pleading not guilty, changed his plea and was sentenced to more than 6 years in prison on charges of providing material support for terrorist acts and felony firearms charges. The failed conspiracy, according to the FBI and Whitmer, sprang from Trump's attempt to vilify the Governor for her science-based handling of the COVID pandemic, in a year in which Trump was willing to say and do anything to win the important battleground state. (He lost it by 150,000 votes instead);
  • In accountability news only spiritually related to Trump, a federal appeals court declined to overturn the sentence of the man who killed nine Black parishioners at the Emanuel Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015. The now-27-year old avowed white supremacist is the first person charged with a death sentence for committing a federal hate crime. While accountability is great, a life sentence would have been sufficient. Killing people is bad, as some of us learned even before Kindergarten. Apparently, the U.S. Government has yet to do so;
  • Only politically related to Trump, the Republican state Attorney General in South Dakota, Jason Ravnsborg, who fatally struck a pedestrian last year and left him to die, decided to take a plea deal rather than begin his trial today. Nonetheless, as of airtime, despite the hit and run fatality, Ravnsborg was still in office as the state's top law enforcement official;
  • And, in related corrupt Republican state Attorney General news, definitely politically related to Trump, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is also still in office. That, despite being charged with multiple felonies for securities fraud some time ago (and, so far, evading trial on those years-old, but still-pending indictments); facing potential disbarment by the State Bar of Texas for his attempt to help Trump steal the election with a bogus, fraudulent, rejected lawsuit filed with the U.S. Supreme Court to try and overturn results in four non-Texas states; and under investigation by the FBI after 7 top staffers in his office quit and filed a legal complaint detailing how AG Paxton was involved in a serious bribery and abuse of power scheme involving protection for one of his top donors and a scheme that involved having the man give a job to his mistress. Well, on that federal investigation, AG Paxton had some good news this week! In an unsigned 374-page report [PDF] published by AG Paxton's office on AG Paxton's letterhead, AG Paxton's own internal investigation found that "AG Paxton’s actions were lawful" and that "AG Paxton committed no crime". Phew! That was close! I'm sure the FBI is calling off their probe, even as we speak.
  • Finally, as a late brewing potential major hurricane (Ida) spins toward the Gulf Coast for possible landfall over the weekend, Desi Doyen joins us today for our latest Green News Report, with a suspiciously inordinate amount of encouraging news. But don't worry, there are a few items of the usual catastrophic nature GNR is known for as well. We'd hate to leave anyone disappointed...

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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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Guest: Robert Brandon of Fair Elections Center; Also: We're back! But with a week of news in one segment to get you (and us) all caught up!...
By Brad Friedman on 7/6/2021 6:48pm PT  

We're back on today's BradCast after a much-needed week off, which turned out to be a really big news week. But don't worry. We get all caught up somehow (mostly) on everything you need to know in just one segment today! Plus, an excellent guest to explain how the Republicans' packed U.S. Supreme Court has undermined both democracy and the Constitution yet again at the end of this year's term. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

Among the stories from last week (and this week) that we catch up on before moving to our guest...

  • The thought-to-be-extinguished Lava Fire in Northern California erupts with two others;
  • Last week's deadly, climate-change fueled heat wave in the Pacifica Northwest and British Columbia resulted in hundreds of deaths in the U.S. and Canada;
  • The confirmed death toll at the condo collapse in Surfside, Florida ticks up over 30 with more than 100 still unaccounted for, as recovery is hampered by the incoming, already record-breaking Hurricane Elsa;
  • An ExxonMobil lobbyist was caught on video admitting to the company's years of subterfuge about our climate emergency caused by the unmitigated burning of their products;
  • Attorney General Merrick Garland declared a moratorium on federal executions;
  • George W. Bush's "war criminal" Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, died;
  • The U.S. finally, permanently evacuated Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan as President Biden tries to finally end America's longest war before the 20th Anniversary of 9/11;
  • COVID infections spiked 10% over the previous week as the Delta Variant continues to pose a quickly growing danger, effecting mostly unvaccinated people (so far);
  • Despite its low infection rate, Los Angeles County urged residents to wear masks indoors again, thanks to the increasing spread of the much more infectious coronavirus variant;
  • More than 180 people were shot and killed over the July 4th holiday weekend in more than 540 shootings in the U.S. over a 72-hour period;
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi named her selections, including one Republican, to a House Select Committee to investigate the Trump-incited January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol after Republicans in the House and Senate recently reneged on a deal with Democrats for a bipartisan independent commission;
  • Sexual predator Bill Cosby was freed from jail thanks to a ridiculous deal made years ago by one of the lead defense attorneys in Donald Trump's second impeachment trial;
  • The Boy Scouts of America agreed to an $850 million settlement with victims over thousands of sexual abuse allegations;
  • The Trump Organization and its longtime Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg were indicted on multiple state criminal charges including Scheme to Defraud, Conspiracy, Grand Larceny, Criminal Tax Fraud and Falsifying of Business Records;
  • The NYC Mayor's election, already made ridiculously complicated by Ranked Choice Voting, went sideways last week after it was discovered that 135,000 sample ballots were accidentally included by NYC election officials in the weeks-long, impossible-to-oversee RCV tabulation procedure;
  • Arizona's months-long "audit" theater was extended yet again, as the rightwing, QAnon conspiracy company called Cyber Ninjas continued its secret examination of 2.1 million ballots cast during last year's Presidential election in Maricopa County (Phoenix). That's the partially taxpayer-funded clown show that, as I reported weeks ago now, according to the Ninjas' own documents [PDF], allows them to miscount a MINIMUM of 42,000 votes without setting off any internal alarm bells, in a race that was decided by a statewide margin of just 10,000 votes;
  • And, the Dept. of Justice called on Congress to adopt new laws to protect voters after the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court ended their term last week by undermining democracy and the U.S. Constitution yet again.

In Brnovich vs. DNC [PDF], the Court's 6 to 3 Republican majority overturned a lower appeals court decision that had blocked two new restrictions on voting in Arizona. One barred the counting of ballots cast by voters in the wrong precinct and the other banned the collection of ballots by third-parties (derisively known as "ballot harvesting" by Rightwingers implying it's used by minorities to defraud elections...despite the lack of any evidence in support of that assertion). Both laws were shown to have disproportionately impacted minority voters in the state. That is supposed to be barred by Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. But, writing for the Court's majority, activist Justice Samuel Alito made up new "guidelines" that ignore both Congress' intent in its passage of the VRA and the Constitution's own plain language that "Congress shall have the power to enforce" the 15th Amendment decree that "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

So, how will the Court's ruling in Brnovich, allowing for discrimination in voting laws, effect the spate of pending challenges to new voter suppression laws now being enacted by GOP-controlled states around the country? What, if anything, can Congress do about it? And, if they do, will this hard-right anti-democracy Court allow any such new laws to stand?

We're joined today to discuss all of that and more by longtime public interest attorney ROBERT BRANDON, President, CEO and co-founder of the Fair Elections Center. He describes the Republican Justices' opinion as "a real departure" from the claims of so-called originalism and Constitutional textualism --- a literal reading of the plain words of the Constitution --- which the rightwing Justices have long pretended to believe in. This decision, he explains, is "clearly is going to make it harder to challenge and defeat, in court, the laws that disenfranchise the most Americans, particularly black and brown voters, and other marginalized voters. In the case of Arizona, including disabled voters, who often need help delivering their ballots."

Alito's ruling, according to Brandon, essentially says "discrimination is okay as long as it's not a whole lot." But Brandon also explains why the Court's decision, as terrible as it is, doesn't necessarily mean that the multiple legal challenges to dozens of new GOP suppression laws adopted since last year, in the wake of Trump's evidence-free Big Lie that the election was stolen, will fail.

"It's a great irony, of course, that we just had the highest turnout election in history," he says, "yet now we're talking about adding all of these new barriers to voting around the country."

Finally, on this four-day work week following the Monday Independence Day holiday, a new analysis of a years-long study in Iceland finds that productivity either remained the same or improved in the majority of workplaces when the work week was cut to just four days. How can we get this progressive idea --- now also being studied in Spain and New Zealand, and found to benefit workers' health and lives without harming corporate bottom lines --- adopted here in the U.S.? Working on it...

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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 Host Nicole Sandler with 'United States of War' author and American University anthropology professor David Vine...
By Nicole Sandler on 5/27/2021 4:54pm PT  

NICOLE SANDLER back again, holding down the fort, guest hosting the BradCast while Brad and Desi are sidelined due to jackhammers tearing up the concrete outside their studio. Hopefully the noise ends soon, and they can return. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

President Biden announced recently that he'd withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan by 9/11-- the 20th anniversary of the attack. But now, military officials say that the withdrawal will be complete by early-mid July. The fact is, there’s no reason we should have been in Afghanistan for 20 years...but it seems that when the United States sends troops somewhere, they usually leave a few behind.

So I thought today was a good day to talk with DAVID VINE, Professor of Anthropology at American University and author of United States of War: A Global History of America's Endless Conflicts, from Columbus to the Islamic State. Vine explains, among other things, that in its 245-year existence, the US has been involved in war for all but 11 of those years!

After a heavy discussion about war, I thought it was time to lighten the mood a bit. One of my favorite pandemic discoveries is the Marsh family from Kent, England, who have charmed the world with their musical videos dealing with life during the pandemic and lockdowns. I know that Brad shared their song imploring everyone to get vaccinated, "Have the New Jab" because I sent it to him to try to ease his needle nervousness.

Memorial Day is Monday, and now that most of us have been vaccinated, many will head out to parties or other gatherings for the holiday. Well, apparently the Marsh family is a bit ahead of us, as it seems that Ben and Danielle, the Marsh parents, overdid it on their first night out with friends, and the children scold them in song in this clever mashup of song parodies, "Sipping Through Their Fingers / Father and Sons," giving Abba and Cat Stevens the Marsh Family treatment. Enjoy!...

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Also: Russia to draw down troop build-up on Ukrainian border...
By Brad Friedman on 4/22/2021 6:00pm PT  

On today's BradCast: After a disastrous four year mistake by the name of Donald Trump, the United States, under the leadership of Joe Biden, is taking the lead once again on our global climate emergency on Earth Day 2021. Or, at least, trying to. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Among our coverage today...

  • Global tensions were greatly eased on Thursday with the announcement that Russia --- which had been amassing more than 100,000 troops on its border with Ukraine --- plans to deescalate and pull most of its troops back by May 1. The tensions continue to simmer, however, amid the years-long, ongoing conflict in the region, between NATO-backed Ukraine and Russia-backed separatists, where 14,000 have died over the past 6 or 7 years of war. And, of course, the U.S. and Russia remain at odds over any number of things. But today's announcement at least lowers figurative global temperatures just a bit.
  • As to lowering literal global temperatures, more than 40 world leaders --- including Russia's Vladimir Putin and China's Xi Jingping --- met today for Day 1 of a virtual global climate summit hosted by Joe Biden and the White House, as the U.S. rejoins the landmark Paris Climate Agreement and hopes to assert its critical leadership role once again after Trump left the pact, increased the dangerous production of fossil fuels, and dismissed deadly global warming as a "hoax". President Biden, on the other hand, doubled-down on President Obama's previous commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement today, by announcing today that the U.S. vows to cut deadly greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, and reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Desi Doyen binge-watched hours of today's worldwide Zoom conference and shares both key details and those that may not make the corporate media headlines. Including desperate pleas for help and funding from some of the nations most effected by --- but least responsible for --- climate change, and from young climate activists who urge the nations of the world to stop making excuses and take far more decisive action to meet the true, scientific urgency of the moment.
  • Back in D.C., Republicans continue to block the formation of a bipartisan 9/11-style commission to examine the deadly, Trump-fueled insurrection on January 6th, despite a rapidly growing number of troubling new questions about the disastrous failure to protect the U.S. Capitol from the angry MAGA Mob while Joe Biden's 2020 Electoral College victory was ratified during a joint session of Congress. Last week, an Inspector General's report found that both DHS and the FBI had warned Capitol Police, days before the attack, that "Congress is the target". And yet, Capitol Police leadership instructed officers NOT to use their most effective methods to defend the Capitol. Why? A Washington Post investigation subsequently found that D.C. Metro Police --- out-manned by 58 to 1 on the west side of the Capitol --- radioed for emergency back-up at least 17 times over 78 minutes at the height of the attack, but received no response. Why? New evidence has been emerging from more than 400 indictments made in the days following the insurrection to reveal that the assault, which injured and hospitalized more than 140 law enforcement officials, was far more violent than many have understood. And, on Wednesday, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) revealed during a hearing in the House Administration Committee that she chairs, that undisclosed internal investigations suggest Capitol Police were instructed to seek out anti-Trump protesters, but not pro-Trump protesters. Why? We ask those questions and many more, as the chaos and confusion of disparate investigations continues while the GOP obstructs the formation of an over-arching commission that might be able to make sense of what actually happened on January 6th, and who should actually be held accountable.
  • Finally, Desi returns for our latest Green News Report on Earth Day, documenting new commitments to stave off the worst effects of our climate emergency by world powers; Rep. AOC and Sen. Markey reintroduce their Green New Deal; And Nobel-prize winning climate scientist Dr. Michael E. Mann offers his thoughts as to whether the latest actions may be enough to save humanity...

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Guest: Climate and energy journalist David Roberts of Volts; Also: MN cop charged in shooting; FBI, DHS knew Capitol was the 'target' on Jan. 6; Biden declares 'It's time to end the forever war'...
By Brad Friedman on 4/14/2021 6:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Joe Biden is on a "go big" roll that has stunned even many long time progressives. Another one of them joins us on today's show to sing the praises (mostly) of his $2.25 trillion infrastructure, jobs and climate proposal known as the American Jobs Plan. It will be paid for --- at least in very small part --- by ending long time direct subsidies (yes, government socialism) to the Fossil Fuel Industry. But, even on that, the industry is getting a break that they shouldn't. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up today, however, some noteworthy news headlines...

  • The white Brooklyn Center, Minnesota police officer who resigned yesterday after shooting black motorist Daunte Wright during a traffic stop on Sunday, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter after days of protest and unrest. The city's Police Chief, who also resigned on Tuesday, has said that the 26-year veteran officer, Kim Potter, meant to taze the 20-year old Wright, but shot him instead.
  • A scathing new Inspector General's report finds that U.S. Capitol Police were instructed by leadership not to use their best crowd-control weapons on January 6th, despite clear intelligence from the FBI and Dept. of Homeland Security warning that "Congress itself is the target" for protests by Donald Trump supporters who were scammed by his false claims that the Presidential election was stolen. In the days before the assault, pro-Trump social media sites included explicit details regarding plans by MAGA Mob extremists to target both the Capitol and members of Congress, including maps of underground tunnels at the Capitol building and threats calling for "violence" and "war". While DHS and the FBI were aware of these threats --- and, therefore, so was Trump --- for reasons that still remain unclear, the Capitol Police were left wildly unprepared for the deadly siege.
  • And, in perhaps the most critical news of the day, President Biden announced, in no uncertain terms, his plans to remove all U.S. troops (other than those needed to protect diplomats) from Afghanistan no later than September 11th of this year, the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. He explained his reasoning and responded to critics of the move in remarks at the White House today, declaring that "It's time to end the forever war." We share extended excerpts from his address.

Then, we're joined by the great energy and climate journalist DAVID ROBERTS --- formerly of Vox, now publishing his own must-read newsletter called "Volts" --- for insight into Biden's plans to pay for what Roberts characterizes as a remarkably progressive infrastructure, jobs and climate proposal.

Introduced two weeks ago, the American Jobs Plan is to be paid for largely by an increase on the corporate tax rate. But, as Roberts detailed in a recent Volts article, it will also include a repeal of some of the permanent subsidies to the Fossil Fuel industry which they have enjoyed for decades, as written into the tax code. While many progressives are pleased about that, including Roberts, the fact is that those direct subsidies to the industry, as he points out, amount to a very small fraction of the cost of Biden's ambitious plan. Indeed, at some $35 billion for the entire industry, spread out over ten years, it also amounts to a very small amount of the true cost of the "indirectsubsidies" or "externalities" which the public pays for to boost profits for the polluting industry.

The direct subsidies, says Roberts, are "a drop in the bucket" compared to "the total amount of money that would be raised if you went after the indirect subsidies" with a carbon tax that accounts for the true cost of the industry's "products that produce a lot of social harm.  Harm in terms of air pollution that they generate, which then produces health costs, and people miss work. There's the climate damages that they do when they're burned. There's land pollution. There's abandoned oil and gas wells at the end of their life. Those cost a lot of money" to clean up, which the companies rarely, if ever, do.

"The oil and gas industry itself doesn't pay any of those costs. So when your product imposes all these costs and you don't pay them, the public steps in and pays them. Like the kids with asthma who are paying, rather than the fossil fuel companies." Roberts suggests "those externalities, as they're called, have always been the premise for a carbon tax, why we would want to put a tax on carbon so that you can recoup all these damages that the oil and gas industry are not paying for."

Still, setting aside how the package is to be paid for, Roberts concedes that he is "pleasantly surprised" about the "super-big and ambitious" package which includes, as he also details, a whole bunch of cool stuff that has received little coverage, since there is actually so much packed into the sweeping, long-overdue proposal.

How to get it passed, however --- and, specifically approved by "our emperor and benefactor Joe Manchin, long may He reign" --- is another matter, which we discuss in detail today as well.

"Where we are is so ludicrously far away from where we need to be, that it becomes difficult to judge anything in the middle," Roberts argues. "Is this a good big step or is it a grossly inadequate step? Yes. It's both. Everything we're going to do on climate change for the next decades will fit that description. It's going to be big and not big enough."

We then close today with a quick thought or two on a new statement from hundreds of companies and corporate executives in opposition to the GOP attempts to restrict voting rights around the country. We hope to have more time to discuss the matter on tomorrow's BradCast...

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