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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, November 28, 2021
Sunday 'Friendsgiving' Toons
PDiddie's latest festive collection! Because that's what toons are for...
There'd Be No Trucker Short-age If Industry Took Care of Drivers: 'BradCast' 11/19/21
Guest: Nicolas Rivero of Quartz; Also: House passes BBB; VA school board unbans books; Recounts will determine control of VA House...
Digging Deeper Into the Case for Homicide Charges Against Both Trump AND Pence: 'BradCast' 11/18/21
Also: COVID rising again before holidays; OK clemency for Julius Jones...
'Green News Report' 11/18/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Deadly extreme flooding in Pacific Northwest; Admin's controversial oil and gas lease sale; F.T.C. to probe Big Oil corruption; PLUS: Biden promotes American-made EVs in Detroit...
Previous GNRs: 11/16/21 - 11/11/21 - Archives...
Deflating Inflation Panic: 'BradCast' 11/17
Guest: The Intercept's Jon Schwarz on how it's misreported, good for many workers, bad for big banks; Also: 3+ years for 'QAnon Shaman'; Gosar censured; Biden' Big Oil probe; Sanders on 'Defense'...
The Unmistakable Drumbeat of Authoritarianism: 'BradCast' 11/16/21
Ominous warnings: Gerrymanders continue; GOPers v. GOPers; More on the attempt to steal 2020; Book 'burning'; Trump's COVID cover-up...
'Green News Report' 11/16/21
U.N. climate summit ends with progress, compromise; Coal 'down' but not 'out' at Glasgow; PLUS: Biden signs landmark bipartisan infrastructure deal into law...
Long Roads to Accountability, Climate Action, Infrastructure: 'BradCast' 11/15
Bannon surrenders; COP26 concludes; Biden signs landmark, roads, bridges, enviro bill...
Sunday 'Big Bird, Little Bird' Toons
Flip on over to PDiddie's toon collection this week for the latest signs of the times...
Sports, Politics, Race and Florida:
'BradCast' 11/12/21
Guest host Nicole Sandler with FL Guber-natorial Candidate Annette Taddeo and The Nation's Dave Zirin; Also: BANNON FINALLY INDICTED!...
'Green News Report' 11/11/21
COP26 crunch time; Surprise US/China climate deal; Big EV agreement; Renewables rise in U.S.; PLUS: Nations under-reporting emissions, new analysis finds...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Guest: Campaign Legal Center's Brendan Fischer; Also: Big news out of UN Climate Summit; Bad news out of federal court for Trump and friends...
By Brad Friedman on 11/10/2021 6:12pm PT  

Before my head explodes on today's BradCast while speaking with our guest about the latest ruling from the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) on foreign money in American elections, we open with some seemingly better news --- and then close later with some definitely better news. [Audio link to show is posted below this summary.]

First up, three noteworthy points came out of the COP26 U.N. climate summit in Glasgow on Wednesday, even if all three points are still somewhat vague and it remains to be seen if all 196 participating nations can unanimously (as required) come to an agreement by the end of this week's conference to cut enough global warming-causing emissions to save humanity. Is that too much to ask?

The three noteworthy points which we discuss, and quickly explain why they are so noteworthy, regard 1) a draft text [PDF] of a final agreement for COP26 (which could change before all is said and done), that actually mentions the need to phase out coal and subsidies for fossil fuels. Though that would seem obvious, it would actually be a landmark statement. 2) A pledge was announced between six major automakers (including Ford and GM!) and 30 national governments to phase out the sale of all new internal combustion vehicles worldwide by 2040 and in "leading markets" by 2035. And 3) A "surprise joint announcement" from the U.S. and China to work together to slow global warming in this decade (including reductions of emissions from both methane and coal!) and to ensure the Glasgow conference ends in success. All three points are actually big news, even if each comes with some vagaries and caveats and, in and of themselves, are nowhere near enough to save us. But all three are important and even landmark early steps toward that end, for reasons we discuss.

Next up, the FEC has affirmed that it's perfectly legal under federal law for foreign countries to spend as much as they like on American ballot referenda, at least in states that don't have laws outlawing it. Their recent 4 to 2 ruling comes from a 2018 Montana complaint where a Canadian subsidiary of an Australian firm had spent money to back a ballot measure placing new restrictions on hard rock mining in the state. It also comes on the heels of a ballot proposition last week in Maine where a record $89 million was spent on campaigns for and against a ballot initiative to halt a $1 billion cross-border corridor for a high-impact, clean electricity transmission line to bring power to the state generated by a Quebec-owned hydro-power company.

The FEC ruling allows unlimited millions from foreign individuals, companies and nations to be dumped into American ballot campaigns. We're joined today to discuss this seemingly mind-blowing FEC ruling by BRENDAN FISCHER, Director of the Federal Reform Program at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center in Washington D.C. He explains the gaping loophole in the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) that bars foreign money in American candidate elections, but not, apparently, on ballot referenda and propositions, which the FEC says federal law does not consider to be an "election"!

While objectionable and a "kind of insane outcome" to the Montana case, according to Fischer, "this is not a totally crazy or unfounded interpretation" of the federal statute. In this case, it was, in fact, the Democratic Chair of the FEC who voted with all three Republicans on the Commission. Moreover, Fischer says, in Maine, there had been a bipartisan bill adopted by the state legislature to ban foreign money in ballot initiative campaigns, which was ultimately vetoed by the state's Democratic Governor. "That was really controversial in Maine," Fischer explains, "and voters, both Republican and Democrat, were unhappy about it."

He notes that elected officials from both parties in Congress have expressed concern about this problem with FECA and have put forward legislation to fix it. "There's a surprising amount of bipartisan support for plugging this loophole," Fischer tells me. "It also should be noted that the Freedom To Vote Act --- the big voting rights and campaign finance reform bill, supported by Joe Manchin --- also includes a provision that would extend the foreign national prohibition to state and local ballot measures."

Fischer also rings in today on the scathing report [PDF] issued this week by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, led by a Republican Trump-appointee, finding that more than a dozen top Trump Administration officials --- often repeatedly and knowingly --- violated the Hatch Act's ban on federal employees using their office to campaign for candidates (specifically for Trump) in the run-up to the 2020 election. While top Trump officials, including Sec. of State Mike Pompeo, violated the decades-old Act, the punishment for doing so --- at least for political appointees, if not career federal employees --- is left up to the discretion of the sitting President. Thus, naturally, under our disgraced former President, none of the thirteen who violated the Act faced any consequences from the federal law. Fischer offers his thoughts on whether the Hatch Act, like FECA, can or should be reformed by this Congress.

Finally, Tuesday night offered some actual bad news for that disgraced former President, as a federal judge rejected his attempt to block to the release of January 6-related White House documents subpoenaed by the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Trump-incited insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan thoroughly shut down Trump's claims that Executive Privilege "exists in perpetuity" for him and that he otherwise faces irreparable harm if the National Archives releases the subpoenaed documents as scheduled this Friday. Chutkan's scathing 39-page ruling confirms the well-established principle that only a SITTING President has the power to exercise Executive Privilege to block the release of documents and that "Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President.”

Ouch. Trump's attorneys have, naturally, vowed to appeal. But the ruling is also very bad news for his disgraced former advisor Steve Bannon, who is facing a criminal Contempt of Congress charge referred to the Dept. of Justice by the U.S. House after his refusal to answer a lawful subpoena from the Select Committee. His basis for refusing to do so was that Trump told him his own documents and testimony were exempt under Executive Privilege. They aren't, because the former President has no such privilege. Neither are the documents and testimony of dozens of others subpoenaed by the Committee, all of whom, like Bannon, could be facing a year in prison for defying lawful Congressional subpoenas. As you know, this story will continue to develop in the days ahead...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Legal expert John Bonifaz of Free Speech for People; Also: GOP gerrymandering getting worse, Dems running out of time to stop it...
By Brad Friedman on 11/5/2021 6:31pm PT  

On today's BradCast: There is a long list of pretty clear crimes that Donald Trump and his cronies have committed and might have been charged with by now. So far, however, a full year since he lost the election and nearly eight months since Merrick Garland was sworn in as President Biden's Attorney General, there is little sign of accountability for the disgraced former President at the federal level. Citing what they describe as a failure to meet this critical moment for the nation, some legal and Constitutional experts are now calling for Garland to resign. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

It's not as though the U.S. Department of Justice hasn't been busy in the wake of Trump's four years of undermining both the rule of law and the DoJ itself. They have, to date, brought charges against nearly 700 rioters incited by Trump to attack the U.S. Capitol in hopes of stealing the 2020 election somehow on January 6th.

In recent days, the Department has also filed two federal lawsuits against the state of Texas for their new voter suppression law and their clearly unconstitutional new law banning most abortions in the state. They've also brought suit against the state of Georgia in recent months, challenging their new voter suppression law as well.

Meanwhile, active investigations into Trump's potential violations of law are underway by state and local prosecutors both in New York and Georgia. But, at the federal level, there seems to be nothing, at least in sight, despite a laundry list of legal transgressions by the former President and his accomplices, dating well before his term in office and continuing right up through the very end.

"Over the past thirty years, Merrick Garland served with distinction as a federal prosecutor and then as an appellate judge," a new statement [PDF] and campaign by the nonpartisan legal advocacy nonprofit Free Speech for People (FSFP) begins. "Unfortunately, as Attorney General for the past eight months, he has failed to take any meaningful action to hold accountable former president Donald Trump and his co-conspirators for attempting to overthrow the government on January 6, 2021 and a flurry of criminal acts in the months and years leading up to that date. Instead, he has adopted indefensible positions of the Trump Department of Justice (DOJ) to protect Trump from accountability. Since Garland is unwilling to step up, it is time for him to step down."

Their statement this week concludes: "As long as Trump and his co-conspirators walk free, American democracy is in danger. We need an Attorney General who understands that danger and is willing to take action to protect democracy and the rule of law. Merrick Garland must resign."

In response to FSFP's campaign launched on Thursday, Laurence Tribe, Harvard Law School's renowned legal scholar and Professor Emeritus, tweeted out on Thursday night that while he was "not ready to join this movement", he believes it is "worth noting" as it comes from "serious and responsible" people. "DOJ must take note," he warned.

Joining us to discuss their call for Garland to step down is FSFP's "serious and responsible" Co-Founder and President, JOHN BONIFAZ, a longtime, well-respected Constitutional expert, author and accountability champion. Back in January, before Garland was even sworn in as Attorney General, FSFP led a campaign with nearly a dozen other good government groups and some 200,000 individuals who signed on, calling for the nation's top cop, once sworn in, to form an independent task force to investigate "any potential federal criminal or civil violations that may have been committed by President Trump, members of his administration, or his campaign, business, or other associates."

Now, months later, with no sign of any such task force OR investigation, FSFP has regrettably determined that Garland is not up to the task, with Bonifaz citing the apparent lack of charges --- at least so far --- against former Trump advisor Steve Bannon as "the last straw". Bannon was referred by the U.S. House for criminal Contempt of Congress to the DoJ two weeks ago. But as the group's statement observes, after detailing a panoply of apparent, if uncharged Trump-era crimes: "The last time that the House referred a contempt of Congress charge to DOJ, then-President Reagan’s prosecutors immediately brought the matter to a grand jury; it returned an indictment just nine days after the House vote."

In response to my questions as to whether federal probes could be ongoing at DoJ, but we simply don't know about them yet, Bonifaz cites the agency's prosecution of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen for charges related to a criminal conspiracy the DoJ declared at the time was "directed" by Trump, and the ten or more instances of Obstruction of Justice by the then-sitting President, as cited by Robert Mueller's Special Counsel investigation. While it has been DoJ's (ridiculous) policy that sitting Presidents may not be indicted while in office, that excuse is long gone, Bonifaz argues. "The fact that there's been no action whatsoever on any of these offenses, including the ones that were well-established the moment that Garland took office as Attorney General --- that is deeply concerning, and signals that they ultimately do not intend to engage in holding him accountable. We're ready to be surprised, but at this point, nine months after he has taken office, we need new leadership at the Dept. of Justice, in our view, to ensure that the rule of law is enforced."

Does Bonifaz believe that Biden's DoJ may be trying to protect the office of the President itself from charges of political bias or from the DoJ being used as --- or being seen as being used as --- a political weapon? "What is at issue is that the Donald Trump Administration and Donald Trump himself used the Dept. of Justice as his own private agency to cover up. So what's critical now is that the Justice Department establish itself as an independent agency that's not going to carry out the political agenda of the President. If anything, doing what they're doing, in this particular instance, indicates somehow that they may have political considerations at stake," he contends. "That they may not want to engage in indicting a former President because of the impact it will have on the current President and his own political agenda --- that is just as wrong as a decision by Donald Trump to misuse the Justice Department for his own political purposes."

"There is no get-out-of-jail-free card because it's hard for the nation to handle it, or because we somehow need to come up with this fiction that the President is protected in a special way than others are," he asserts. "He's a former President, and if he engaged in these federal crimes, he needs to be held accountable."

There is, of course, MUCH more from Bonifaz today on all of this, including whether he thinks folks like Harvard's Tribe and other accountability groups may sign on to FSFP's effort) they are collecting signatures on a petition at GarlandMustResign.org); the outrage of actual legal protections the DoJ has been offering on Trump's behalf in court; and whether he believes that state prosecutors in New York and Georgia, at this point, are more likely to ultimately bring at least some accountability for at least some of Trump's many crimes.

Also on today's show, more troubling evidence of outrageously extreme partisan gerrymandering being enacted as we speak by Republican-controlled states around the country, and the need --- for the survival of democracy itself --- for Democrats to step up in response, whether by partisan gerrymandering states that they control or, preferably, by passage of federal voting rights and election reform legislation in Congress, such as the Freedom to Vote Act, to ban partisan gerrymandering in all 50 states prior to the 2022 midterm elections...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Dems continue legislative struggle to protect voting rights, Repubs face new legal woes for trying to steal 2020; Also: More results from 2021 elections; Progress at U.N. climate summit in Glasgow...
By Brad Friedman on 11/4/2021 6:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast": Despite what you may hear from certain elements of the media, the differences between the two parties when it comes to democracy and voting rights could not be more stark. Democrats are currently trying (and still failing, so far) in Congress, to protect voting rights for all voters. Republicans, meanwhile, are undermining those most basic of American rights around the country, even while facing mounting legal problems for having been gullible enough to play along with Donald Trump's Big Lie effort to steal the 2020 election. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But we've got a lot more than that on today's program. Among the many stories covered...

  • More ballot initiative results from Tuesday's off-year elections, including out of Tucson, Arizona where voters, by a nearly 2 to 1 margin, approved a new minimum wage of $15/hour. The victory for some 85,000 workers in the state's Democratic stronghold comes just months after its Senior Senator, Kyrsten Sinema, infamously thumbs-downed her own parties efforts to raise the federal minimum wage nationally to $15/hour. Hoping she noticed what happened in Tucson on Tuesday, because we're betting the folks in Tucson noticed her thumbs-down.
  • In New York state, all three election and voting rights reform propositions placed on the ballot by the Democratic legislature failed by wide margins. Republicans opposed all three and mounted an aggressive campaign to defeat them. Prop 1 involved redistricting reform. Prop 3 would have allowed same-day registration. Prop 4 would have allowed for no-excuse absentee voting in the Empire State. We discussed all three with two longtime NY election integrity advocates last week. Even though there was disagreement on several of measures, it's still a bit of a surprise that all three went down. That, even as Prop 2, a very progressive proposition on the same ballot establishing "the Right to clean air, water and a healthful environment" in the state's Constitution, did pass, by a more than 2 to 1 margin. Hmmm.
  • On Wednesday, back in D.C., a Senate vote on whether to proceed to debate on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act --- which restores much of what the U.S. Supreme Court has gutted in recent years from the Voting Rights Act of 1965 --- was blocked by Republicans. All Democrats voted in favor (including Joe Manchin) and even one Republican for a change (Lisa Murkowski). But as with the similarly Manchin-approved Freedom to Vote Act two weeks ago, a majority vote was not enough to overcome yet another GOP filibuster in the U.S. Senate, requiring 60 votes to even move to debate. So now we seem to be getting to the point where both Manchin and Sinema may need to put up or shut up on reforming the filibuster to allow for passage of these bills to help save democracy itself. In the meantime, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) are vowing to "restore the Senate", whatever that may end up meaning, in order to push election and voting reform through. We'll see if that happens, because...
  • ...As New York Times reports late today, the Democrats' big money donors are getting restless. They are whining that Joe Biden isn't giving them enough attention (good!) and that they are very unhappy about the party's seeming inability to adopt critical voting rights legislation. One major donor has gone so far as to vow to withhold any more money until election reform is passed. The pressure, even from wealthy donors, is welcome and could be helpful. Though what they believe President Biden is actually able to do if two intransigent Democratic Senators refuse to change Senate rules for passage is a separate question. Hopefully these donors also give to Manchin and Sinema and are cutting them off as well while they refuse to stand up and do the right thing for the country.
  • On the other side of the political aisle, it's just nothing but ugly when it comes to democracy. Though some of our stories today may be worth popping some popcorn for. The Smartmatic voting tech company filed two new lawsuits on Wednesday against two "right-wing U.S. television networks," as Reuters properly describes them. One America News (OAN) and Newsmax are being sued for false claims made against the company, including that Smartmatic --- which doesn't have any election business in the U.S. at all other than a recent contract in Los Angeles County --- helped steal the election from Donald Trump in 2020. (And, yes, the fact that Smartmatic was brought into this at all is largely thanks to my series of exclusives from some years ago involving that company and its competitor Dominion Voting Systems, which Trump's dupes have happily misinterpreted and bastardized for their dumb corrupt purposes. You're welcome!) The two complaints are the latest billion dollar lawsuits filed by both Smartmatic and Dominion against the two right-wing networks, Fox "News", as well as Trump friends and attorneys like Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and Pillow Guy Mike Lindell. We wish them all the worst of luck.
  • Even wingnut Erick Erickson has had enough of the "Stop the Steal" falderal --- at least when he's drunk enough to say so after his party won a few elections on Tuesday night. His rant to his fellow Republicans includes stuff like this: "You idiots have spent a year peddling the fiction the 2020 election was stolen because you were so busy humping Trump's leg that you never really even tried to convince persuadable voters to vote. ... either admit the election wasn't stolen or STFU from here on out. ... And if you really have clung to the 2020 was stolen mythology that lets you sleep well at night as a professional victim, please unfriend me and unfollow me because your presence is needed in Neverland and not here in reality."
  • And, back in Arizona, the GOP-controlled Senate appears to be threatening and/or turning on the Cyber Ninjas they hired for their pretend audit of Maricopa County's 2020 election earlier this year. Or, at least, they are play-acting as much for the benefit of a judge as the Senate is facing potential sanctions for failing to turn over public documents related to the phony audit which claims to have found that Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump by an even larger margin than originally certified in the state. But, as it turns out, even those numbers appear to have been "made up out of whole cloth" by the Ninjas, according to experts who looked a bit closer. This could get ugly. At least we hope so.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen's got some seemingly good news for us coming out of the critical U.N. Climate Conference in Glasgow, Scotland in our latest Green News Report, along with results of a number of environment and climate related issues that were on the ballot across the country in Tuesday's off-year elections...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: John Nichols of The Nation on what went right and wrong; Also: E-Pollbook failures in NJ open door for loser to challenge results...
By Brad Friedman on 11/3/2021 6:24pm PT  

Today on BradCast: No, Tuesday's off-year elections were not nearly as disastrous for Democrats as the national media seems to want to insist. But there were both red flag warnings and important lessons they should absolutely pay attention to, and quickly. There were also wholly avoidable voting system failures which, unfortunately, open the door for some results to be challenged. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, the latest summary on the marquee Gubernatorial races that seemed to encompass the entirety of the national media's coverage on Tuesday and into Wednesday. In Virginia, decades of modern history repeated itself, as the party that didn't win the White House last year appears to have taken control of the Governor's mansion this year. Trump-endorsed businessman and first-time candidate Glenn Youngkin was declared the narrow winner over VA's Democratic former Gov. Terry McCauliffe, after Youngkin dog-whistled his kinder, gentler not-Donald-Trump-at-all act into office.

His campaign leaned heavily on pretend, Fox "News"-generated phony outrage issues like opposition to teaching Critical Race Theory in public schools, even though there are no public schools in VA who actually teach it. But fake issues are much easier for Republicans to run on than the unpopular ones they actually support. So, with that, it appears Republicans may also have narrowly taken back majority control of the Commonwealth's House of Delegates, though those final numbers were still too close to call as of airtime.

In New Jersey, it appears that history will not repeat itself. Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy was declared the unofficial winner by media outlets late during today's show. If officially certified, Murphy will have defeated Republican John Ciaterelli to become the first Democrat to win a second term in the Garden State since the 1970s. But Ciaterelli made clear on Election Night that he plans to challenge the results. Reported electronic pollbook failures across the state on Tuesday (little noticed by most of the media, though we covered the pretty serious issue in some detail on our previous BradCast) may well give him an opening to mount such a challenge --- not that Republican election challengers these days generally need real problems to buttress false claims of fraud when they lose. If Murphy ends up falling behind again, he too could use the failure in his own contest.

We detail what appears to have happened across the state, preventing many voters from being able to vote at the polls for several hours on Tuesday morning, and why we've been warning about issues exactly like this for years when it comes to electronic voting, tabulation and pollbook issues that continue to threaten democracy itself.

But while many Democrats have been beside themselves since the polls closed on Tuesday night, wondering where they went wrong --- at least in those statewide contests --- in truth, if you dig below the national headlines, progressives had a bunch of victories on Tuesday in local races and on ballot initiatives.

We're joined today by one of our favorite post-election guests (following both good and bad nights for Democrats over the years), progressive champion, JOHN NICHOLS, Washington Correspondent for for The Nation, longtime contributor to The Progressive and Associate Editor of Madison, Wisconsin's Capital Times. We try to make sense of where both Dems and national media went both right and wrong during both the election and its aftermath. Why, for example, in both VA and NJ, where Democrats held control and adopted a host of very popular progressive policies in the past several years, did they have such a difficult time turning that record into victories yesterday? We also discuss several progressive wins that flew beneath the radar, and what Dems in D.C. and across the nation should take from what happened on Tuesday.

Finally, we close with a boatload of under-reported progressive wins in Tuesday's elections across the country, including historic mayoral victories from Boston to Pittsburgh to Albuquerque to Cincinnati to Durham, NC and beyond, along with a number of local ballot initiatives that defy the media narrative of the past 24 hours which seems to be arguing that Dems must immediately start acting more like Republicans if they hope to have any chance of victory during next year's critical 2022 mid-terms...

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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FL blocks Univ. of Florida profs from serving as expert witnesses in lawsuits against the state; SCOTUS may be having second thoughts about TX' unconstitutional anti-abortion law; And more chilling stories of democracy dying before our eyes...
By Brad Friedman on 11/1/2021 6:23pm PT  

The through-line for today's BradCast comes courtesy of Meathead. Actor and director Rob Reiner was arguing, via Twitter over the weekend, that "until Donald Trump is prosecuted for leading a deadly Insurrection to overthrow the Government and Voting Rights are passed," we are witnessing the death of Democracy.

He was much more correct than he may have realized. But the stories we cover today --- only half of those we had hoped to get today, and none of which directly covered the two issues Reiner was referring to --- underscore that theme. If it's not immediately obvious, tune into today's show to find out how.

Among the stories covered, discussed, explained, warned about, expounded and ranted upon on today's program (along with listener calls throughout)...

  • Election Day is Tuesday in states across the country. As discussed last week, democracy itself is on the ballot in New York state. But most attention on Tuesday has been going to Virginia, where Trump-endorsed Gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin has now taken a lead in FiveThirtyEight's pre-election polling average over VA's former Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe. We explain why history is on Youngkin's side. Perhaps by Wednesday we'll find out if the voters in Virginia are as well, as democracy is not yet dead (hopefully) in some pockets of the nation.
  • In Florida, a simply remarkable and, yes, chilling story. The University of Florida has barred three professors --- each one an expert in democracy and voting rights (two of whom have appeared on The BradCast multiple times over the years) --- from testifying as expert witnesses for the plaintiffs in a challenge to the state's new voter suppression law passed earlier this year. The measure, signed on Fox "News" by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, surrounded by Trump supporters and with local media locked out entirely, restricts the use of drop-boxes for absentee ballots, while making it more difficult to obtain Vote-by-Mail ballots and harder to register to vote, among other democracy killing provisions. The university (whose Board of Trustees is headed up by a close DeSantis confidante and major GOP donor) claims that testifying against a state law would represent a conflict of interest for UF. That's an idea that is unheard of, frankly, and would prevent experts in their fields from being able to testify on their expertise in states in which they live and work. The same profs were never prevented from doing so in the past and experts on academic freedom describe this novel notion as unprecedented. A lawsuit seeking the review of documents from DeSantis on this matter, to determine his involvement in the University's decision, was filed on Friday.
  • At the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, the new "unprecedented" anti-abortion law in Texas, barring the otherwise Constitutionally protected medical procedure after just six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even known they are pregnant, was heard on SCOTUS' rocket docket just two months after they'd allowed it to take effect in the Lone Star State. The matter in question is whether a case filed by abortion providers in the state and another by the U.S. Department of Justice should be allowed to proceed, despite the virtually unquestioned matter of the new state law, S.B. 8, violating Roe v. Wade. The reason the question even arises is because Texas purposely structured the law in a way that hopes to side-step any and all judicial review of the law. That is done by the statute empowering members of the public with a right to file a civil lawsuit against anyone who, in any way, aids a woman in receiving an abortion after six weeks. Under S.B. 8, plaintiffs may even sue an Uber driver who brought a woman to a clinic, for at least $10,000, and the State argues that because they are not enforcing the law, members of the public are doing so, the law cannot be challenged in either federal or state court.

    But even far-right Republican Justice Brett Kavanaugh (and, of course, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan) was able to put two and two together during today's hearing to realize that if this type of law is allowed to go forward, states could adopt laws that effectively outlawed many other long-settled Constitutional rights, and avoid judicial oversight in the bargain. So, yes, California could adopt a law similar to S.B. 8 that makes owning a gun a civil violation for which anyone in the public could sue a gun owner for, say, a million dollars. Are the Justices on the High Court --- who allowed this law to take effect two months ago, ending almost all abortions for now in TX --- sure they want the nation to go down this path?

  • One of the other several stories we quickly covered of democracy dying today, referenced the newly gerrymandered maps for the four U.S. House seats in Iowa. Last week, after Republicans rejected a new map that would have split the state into two districts that voted for Biden last year and two that voted for Trump, they instead approved a second version of a map in which Trump won all four districts. One expert in redistricting describes the new maps as "a dream Republican map." Yes. That is yet another way in which democracy dies...unless we fight like hell to prevent it from doing so.

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Guests: Dr. Virginia Martin, former Columbia County, NY Election Commissioner and Allegra Dengler of Citizens for Voting Integrity NY; Also: Taxing U.S. billionaire pandemic profiteers...
By Brad Friedman on 10/27/2021 6:13pm PT  

It's Election Day in America once again next Tuesday, whether you've noticed or not. In New York, democracy itself is on the ballot, even as longtime election and democracy champions (real ones, not the phony, post-2020 MAGA Mob fakers) differ on how to vote next week on three different democracy- and elections-related Constitutional amendments. On today's BradCast, we discuss all three proposed measures which will have far-reaching consequences for voters both in New York and across the nation. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But, very quickly at the top of today's show...As Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) continue to obstruct and, actually, shred the bulk of the far-reaching, long-overdue progressive social safety net and climate change agenda of Joe Biden and pretty much the entirety of the Democratic Congressional caucus, we offer a friendly reminder.

Dems insist on making their Build Back Better package fully paid for (unlike the deficit spending in the separate bipartisan roads and bridges infrastructure deal supported by Manchin, Sinema and a bunch of Republicans). But Sinema has nixed her own party's plan for a tiny tax increase on corporations and the wealthy, even though, in 2017, she voted against the $2 trillion Trump/GOP tax cuts for those same people.  One alternate "pay-for" mechanism now being proposed by Dems is a wealth tax on those worth more than a billion dollars or who made $100 million for three consecutive years in a row. On Wednesday, however, Manchin was suggesting such a tax might be too divisive for his tastes, by "targeting" certain people.

So, here's the reminder, courtesy of Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies Program on Inequality: There were 614 U.S. billionaires before the pandemic and 745 of them now. Billionaires have seen their wealth grow 70%(!) since the start of the pandemic, to more than $5 trillion. The money they made during the pandemic alone --- from March of 2020 through last month --- would fully cover the cost of Biden's entire 10-year spending plan in the Build Back Better Act, to offer a transformative expansion of healthcare, education, child care and take on climate change for every person in the nation, more than 330 million of us. Meanwhile, a White House analysis last month found that the wealthiest 400 families in the country paid an average federal income tax of 8.2%. (How much did you pay last year?)

Anyway, that's just a reminder as this madness continues. We'll likely discuss all of that more in the days ahead.

Meanwhile, voters --- at least some of them --- are heading to the polls for off-year elections on Tuesday. The neck-and-neck race for Governor in Virginia is receiving much of the attention, but we have our eyes elsewhere today --- on the great state of New York, one of the nation's, theoretically, most "liberal" states which has some of its most restrictive voting policies.

There are several important state constitutional measures on the ballot this year, with three of them having a direct effect on elections in the Empire State and even democracy across the nation.

  • Prop 1 would make it easier for the majority party in Albany (currently Democrats) to approve new legislative and Congressional maps for redistricting following the 2020 Census. That, as Republicans pretend to be furious about the notion that it might allow partisan gerrymandering in the state (which we no longer oppose, for reasons explained again today --- at least until federal legislation bars it in all 50 states.)
  • NY's Prop 3 would abolish the 10-day Constitutional deadline for voter registration before elections, paving the way for eventual election-day registration at the polls.
  • And Prop 4 will remove restrictions on absentee voting in the state, where voters are currently required to attest to being out of town on Election Day or being too ill to go to the polls in order to vote by mail. The hope for proponents is that this will allow for no-excuse absentee voting in the future, as currently available in the majority of states.

While I suspect many believe that folks on the left side of the political aisle might favor all three propositions, that's not actually true, as discussed today with two of New York's longtime champions of election integrity. We walk through all three propositions with them to explain what each may or may not mean for voters and election integrity.

We're joined by DR. VIRGINA MARTIN, who served for 11 years, until 2020, as the Democratic Election Commissioner of the Columbia County, NY Board of Elections and ALLEGRA DENGLER, a longtime election security advocate with Citizens for Voting Integrity NY.

You may be shocked to learn that all three of us do not actually agree on how voters should vote on each of these measures. They each offer their own well-informed and nuanced opinions on the issues at stake in each ballot proposition. We hope this is helpful not only for NY voters, but for others around the nation, where similar issues are being addressed and debated at both the state and local levels, not to mention in proposed federal legislation.

Given Martin's decade-long personal experience as an election official, we also take a few minutes to discuss her thoughts on the ongoing nationwide assault and threats against election officials and poll workers in the wake of sore loser Donald Trump's evidence-free false claims of fraud in the 2020 Presidential election and the very real concerns (as opposed to the MAGA Mob's) when it comes to computerized voting and tabulation systems. Martin made a name for herself amongst election integrity advocates when, in 2010, she joined with her Republican counterpart on Columbia County's Board of Elections to carry out full, transparent hand-counts of hand-marked paper ballots in the county. That, after --- and despite of --- the state's mandate for optical-scan computerized tabulation systems in all of New York's 57 counties...

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House holds Bannon in contempt; TX Lt. Gov. pays out for GOP voter fraud; CA GOP's recall boondoggle; Vets dump Sinema; Manchin could dump Dems; TX steals minority House seats; IL boosts Dems (a little)...
By Brad Friedman on 10/21/2021 6:06pm PT  

We covered a whole bunch of stories on today's BradCast. You'll have to tune in to find out what I have to say about most of them. Suffice to say there was a lot of both good news and bad. Often at the same time. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

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

  • The full U.S. House voted to recommend criminal contempt charges to the DoJ for Steve Bannon's refusal to answer his subpoena for documents and testimony from the House Select Committee investigating Trump's January 6th insurrection.
  • California certifies the results from last month's GOP Gubernatorial recall election, with the state's Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom winning by the exact same percentages --- to the decimal --- that he won his first term back in 2018. Money well spent, Repubs! And thanks for wasting $300 million taxpayer dollars.
  • Five veteran advisors to Arizona's Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema have had enough. They quit her advisory board for service members with a blistering letter citing her obstruction of democracy and the Biden agenda. The progressive veterans group Common Defense has now turned the letter into a TV ad with a seven figure buy to condemn the obstructionist Dem.
  • MoJo's David Corn reports that West Virginia's obstructionist Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has a plan to quit the Democratic Party altogether. Manchin disputes the report. Corn stands by it. Either way, it should serve as a reminder of how fraught things are in the Senate right now, how narrow the Democratic majority is, and how the Senate could see Mitch McConnell and the GOP back in control, literally, at any moment. That, of course, would immediately end any hope of passing any part of the Biden, Democratic and/or progressive agenda. Perhaps there's good reason that President Biden isn't calling out Manchin by name for failing to reform the filibuster as many progressive voting rights activists have been demanding?
  • The GOP's ongoing assault on American democracy continues apace, as they plan to gerrymander their way into the House majority in 2022, and then use that control --- along with new election subversion laws in states they control --- to try and steal the 2024 Presidential election in a way they weren't prepared to do in 2020. All of which should serve as a reminder to every democracy loving American that it's time to step up --- even if it means reconsidering long-held, rock-solid beliefs. For example, that extreme partisan gerrymandering is wrong. It is. But is it wrong if it's needed to actually save American democracy? In Texas, new Republican-adopted Congressional (and state legislative) maps steal seats from minorities, despite the fact that the state's population growth --- and two new U.S. House seats to go with it --- is due almost entirely to minorities. Happily, states like Illinois are not taking the matter (entirely, anyway) lying down.

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Guest: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern; Also: 'Contempt' for Bannon; Manchin, Sanders in talks; GOP Senate blocks voting rights again...
By Brad Friedman on 10/20/2021 6:51pm PT  

On today's BradCast: President Biden has, thankfully, edged toward the left on a number of things during his candidacy and Presidency to date. Reforming the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court, however, at least for now, does not appear to be one of those things. At least if the findings of his blue ribbon Commission of academics studying potential reforms is any indication.

But first up today, several quick updates on a number of stories we've been covering of late...

  • On Tuesday night, shortly after we got off air, the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Trump-incited January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol voted unanimously to hold Steve Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to answer their subpoena for documents and testimony. A vote on the resolution by the full House is scheduled for Thursday and, if adopted (as expected), a referral for criminal prosecution will be sent to the DoJ. Bannon could face as much as a year in prison. But it was remarks by Committee member Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) before Tuesday's vote that jumped out: "Mr. Bannon's and Mr. Trump's privilege arguments do appear to reveal one thing. They suggest that President Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of January 6, and this Committee will get to the bottom of that." If I was Trump, I'd take Cheney at her word. Bannon's future could also be Trump's.
  • There was additional encouraging news from Congress on Tuesday night, as outlets are reporting that obstructionist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) are now in direct talks on Biden's Build Back Better Act and that they hope to reach a deal on a path forward for the once-and-hopefully-still transformative social safety net and climate change bill by week's end. Manchin, as we discussed on yesterday's show, has apparently already gutted the legislation's central climate change provision, and is sure to force the removal of many other wildly popular provisions before all is said and done. But negotiation, in theory, means progress. And progress moving toward passage of the Biden agenda is better than the stalemate of recent weeks. One Senator quoted by The Hill describes the news as a "breakthrough". We'll see.
  • And, in one other Congressional story today with the tiniest ray of sunshine attached to it, Republican Senators on Wednesday once again filibustered to prevent passage of the Manchin-approved Freedom to Vote Act, a transformative elections and voting rights bill that is desperately needed to counteract the anti-democracy and voter suppression laws being adopted by state Republicans around the nation in advance of 2022 and 2024. It's the third time Republicans have blocked Democrats' attempt to move to debate on their voting rights bill. The ray of sunshine here is that Sen. Angus King (I-ME), one of the other holdouts against the filibuster reform that is needed to pass the Act with a simple majority, now says he has "concluded that democracy itself is more important than any Senate rule." Let's see if Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) get the message any time soon enough to reform the filibuster to pass legislation in hopes of actually saving democracy from the rising Authoritarian Front (GOP).

Then, we're joined by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, Slate's ace legal reporter and U.S. Supreme Court expert, to discuss the draft report issued late last week by President Biden's blue ribbon panel of academics --- with remarkably little coverage by the corporate media --- on potential reforms for SCOTUS following its years-long bastardization and theft by the Republican Party.

The bipartisan Commission, created by the President in April with a mandate to study potential reforms for six months before issuing a report but not to offer formal recommendations, for some reason). They were tasked with studying the pros and cons of possible changes such as expanding the number of seats on the high court and/or the creation of term limits for Justices. The panel was comprised of 36 academics and Courts experts who, according to Stern, included "a lot of conservatives" with a number of "so-called liberals" who were "mostly moderates and institutional liberals who have a vested interest in a Supreme Court that looks favorably upon them. If you survey it all together, you see what is basically a faculty meeting of moderates and conservatives, with a few token liberals, none of whom were happy with this draft report. None of which is a recipe for any kind of real, meaningful reform."

"Notably," Stern observes, "not a single person added to the Commission had ever endorsed serious Court reform in the past, [while] there were many people who had said that they opposed Court expansion. So in some ways, this Commission was maybe rigged from the start."

While the deck was stacked against Court expansion, the idea of term limits didn't fair all that much better, according to Stern, who cites an obsession by the panel's members with what other nations might learn from a partisan restructuring of the U.S. Supreme Court. That said, as Stern notes, "we are the only country in the world that gives lifetime tenure to our judges and justices. It is obviously a huge mistake. But the committee comes from the perspective that it is basically a great idea and anyone who criticizes it bears a heavy, heavy burden of proving that it would make things better."

He charges that the panel appeared to be essentially "governing out of fear" and that its draft report "projects the worst possible outcome and says, 'We think this is what's going to happen so we shouldn't even risk it.'"

While the Commission's draft argues that America must be mindful that we are "a leader to the rest of the world," Stern notes, "this report does not even begin to grapple with the fact that no other country, except arguably India, gives its high court nearly as much power as we do. No European nation gives its high court the unfettered ability to veto all legislation. No other nation - not Israel, not Chile or Argentina, not Mexico, not Canada --- none of them allow the court to simply smack down any kind of legislative action that it deems to be violative of the Constitution. That's not how judicial review works anywhere else."

"If these scholars took a look around," he argues, "they would realize that other countries have decided our system doesn't work too well, that they want to do something different. I think there's a lot of merit to that, and I find it very disappointing that they don't even grapple with that."

Of course, he has many more observations, including on what appears to be a "one-way ratchet" where the panel cites public opinion polls as a reason to oppose Court expansion, while ignoring the "overwhelming" public polling from across the entire political spectrum favoring term limits and opposing lifetime appointments for U.S. judges and justices. "Giving anyone that much power for so long is just objectively crazy." The draft report also includes a number of flat-out lies and tries to "lay equal blame at the feet of both parties" for the crisis of public confidence, unprecedented in modern times, now befalling SCOTUS. Stern hopes that some of the Commission's liberals, such as the NAACP's Sherilyn Ifill, may correct the record before their final report is issued and used by Republicans for eternity to claim that "Even Joe Biden's court commission opposes term limits!"

Finally, in our closing few minutes, Stern explains the pathetic roller coaster legal rulings that have allowed Texas' new anti-abortion law, S.B.8, to stay in place for now, despite its clear violation of decades of 'Roe v. Wade's legal precedent, and the terrifying ease with which the GOP's stolen and packed Supreme Court is preparing to overturn that and other long-settled precedents.

"You should be terrified," he warns. "We should all be terrified. And we should all be aware that if we choose not to expand the Court, that we are going to have to live with this current conservative super-majority for years, if not decades."

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Also: How the unvaxxed helped kill fully-vaxxed Colin Powell; And how Manchin is killing Biden's landmark plan to take on the climate crisis...
By Brad Friedman on 10/18/2021 6:20pm PT  

Most of the callers to today's BradCast were in favor of it, though a few were opposed and explained why. But, since many of our callers come from Dem-leaning Southern California, we stacked the deck a bit against our own "yes" position when it came to the callers we brought on the air in our limited time. Seemed only fair. [Audio link to full show is posted at the end of this summary.]

First up, however, a few quick thoughts on today's death of 84-year old, fully-vaccinated Republican former Secretary of State and Chair of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell. Though he (sort of) apologized for it and tried to make good in other ways, it's still difficult for me to shake his infamous presentation of lies at the U.N., falsely claiming that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. That presentation, which he later described as a "blot" on his career, arguably sealed the deal in favor of the U.S. going to war in Iraq. But our focus today is on those who are dishonestly using his COVID-related death to claim vaccines don't work. That is a lie that conveniently avoids the fact that Powell was battling multiple myeloma (a form of blood cancer) which greatly reduces the strength of ones immune system and is known to make vaccines less effective. It was, in fact, those who failed to get inoculated from COVID who helped kill Powell. We explain the facts and the math.

Next, before opening the phones to today's main topic, a few words on the news that broke late on Friday, reporting that the White House is now rewriting their sweeping Build Back Better budget reconciliation bill to not include the critical, landmark Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP) that was designed to provide financial incentives to utility companies to quickly transition from dirty fossil fuel use to clean, renewable energy. It also levied financial penalties on those power companies who failed to do so. The program was at the heart of the Biden Administration's climate plan and its vow to reduce dangerous greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity sector 80% by 2030, to reach net-zero in that sector by 2035, and to reach net-zero emissions economy-wide by 2050. If Friday's reports are accurate, the rewrite is a major blow to those plans and comes at the insistence of Coal Country West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, whose family has made a fortune on fossil fuels in the state. He also receives huge campaign funding from the fossil fuel industry. We discuss this troubling news with Desi Doyen and hope to have more on tomorrow's BradCast.

Then, we pick up the debate we left off at from last Friday's show with gerrymandering expert David Daley of FairVote.org. Daley literally wrote the book on the GOP's extreme partisan gerrymandering scheme after the 2010 Census and warns that it's about to get much worse as Republican state redistricting gets underway following the 2020 Census, particularly in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court gutting the Voting Rights Act to allow even more extreme partisan gerrymanders in even more states.

Despite the fact that, as Daley warned on the show last week, Republican state gerrymanders, on their own, will cost Dems control of the House even if America votes as it did in 2020 (when Dem House members received almost 5 million more votes than Republicans), he made the argument against Democratic states instituting similar extreme partisan gerrymanders in response.

As I explained on Friday, after many months of torturous consideration, I now favor Dem state gerrymanders to counter the Republicans in hopes of saving democracy itself in the bargain. It's an argument I hate making as a longtime election integrity and democracy champion, but I explain again today why the rising, anti-democracy Authoritarian Front (GOP) has changed my thinking as of now --- at least in lieu of passage of the Freedom to Vote Act by Congress, which would ban partisan gerrymandering in all 50 states.

Before we open the phones to listeners to hear their opinions on this contentious matter, we share Daley's argument explaining why he opposes Dem gerrymanders, along with my own, as I now advise against unilateral disarmament by the Democratic Party. All of which, of course, is only necessary right now, thanks to good ol' Joe Manchin's opposition to reforming the filibuster in order to pass the Freedom to Vote Act, a sweeping and long overdue election reform and voting rights measure --- actually designed by Manchin himself --- which would, among many other things, ban partisan gerrymanders all together.

As noted, while the majority of our callers were in favor of my position here, we tried to put a bit of a thumb on the scale for those who opposed it, so we could hear out "both sides" as best as possible on today's program. And, yes, we will continue this discussion in the days and week's ahead, as the redistricting fights get underway in earnest, and while the GOP has left survival of American democracy itself hanging by a thread...

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Guest: Author, gerrymandering expert David Daley of Fair Vote; Also: Hope springs eternal for Freedom to Vote in the U.S. Senate; And GOP bathtub climate change physics in Virginia...
By Brad Friedman on 10/15/2021 6:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast, I share an idea that I've thought long and hard about, struggled with and, frankly, never thought I'd have, much less recommend, as this idea is essentially counter to everything I have long fought for as a democracy advocate. But, as they say, desperate times...and all that. [Audio link to full show follows this summary below. ]

Next Wednesday, Senate Majority Chuck Schumer has told Democrats, he plans to bring up the Freedom to Vote Act for a cloture vote, which --- if successful --- would then allow the Senate to proceed to debate on the bill that is critical right now for the survival of American democracy itself. Even if passed, Freedom to Vote won't save everything, of course, but it will help. Big time. The Joe Manchin-approved "compromise" version of the For the People Act (which has already been passed by the House) would, among a boatload of other long-overdue things, institute automatic voter registration and minimum requirements for Absentee and Early Voting in all 50 states; adopt rules that would limit the most disenfranchising Photo ID restriction laws; require hand-marked paper ballots for all voters(!); and prevent extreme partisan gerrymandering among other much needed stuff that would benefit all voters and democracy itself --- if not necessarily the Republican Party, as they see it, while they continue to lie about the bill in order to place party above both country and democracy.

Next week's cloture vote on the measure is likely to be supported by all 50 members of the Democratic caucus in the Senate. But it is unlikely to be allowed up for debate in the minoritarian Senate because, unless Manchin and any other Democratic obstructionists agree to reform the filibuster to allow democracy saving legislation to pass with a simple majority, it won't receive the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican obstructionist filibuster. That, as GOP-controlled states across the country continue to adopt measures making it harder for (certain) voters to vote and easier for Republicans to cheat by overturning election results they don't like by partisan fiat.

In 2010, the GOP's so-called "REDMAP" program succeeded with Republicans taking over state legislatures in order to draw extreme partisan gerrymanders following that year's decennial census to assure themselves majorities in both statehouses and Congressional delegations for the ensuing decade, even when receiving a minority of the vote. Now that the 2020 census has been completed --- and the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court has determined that federal courts may not intercede to block partisan gerrymanders in any way --- those same Republican state legislatures are in the process of drawing even more extreme gerrymanders for partisan advantage over the next decade. Experts say that "red" states are now in the process of redistricting in such a way that even if the nation voted exactly as it did in 2020, Republicans would end up taking control of the U.S. House --- even with millions of fewer votes than Democrats receive for their elected members of Congress.

That is just part of the near future that all Americans can look forward to if the Republicans and Democrats like Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema in the Senate prevent passage of the Freedom to Vote Act along with its federal restrictions on extreme partisan gerrymanders.

While I hate the idea, all one has to do is take a look at what the Texas legislature (and others like it) are currently up to and planning this year to realize that it's time --- at least if Freedom to Vote is not adopted --- for Democratically-controlled states to answer the GOP assault on democracy by instituting their own extreme partisan gerrymanders in response.

As noted, I hate that idea. It is, at least on the surface, counter to the small "d" democratic ideals that I have always fought for. But, at this point, with the American democratic experiment now teetering toward unstoppable authoritarianism, unilateral disarmament by Democrats seems more like a suicide pact. Yes, for Democrats, but, much more importantly, for democracy itself.

I suspect not everyone will agree with me here, including my guest today. I'm joined by the man who actually wrote the book on partisan gerrymanders, DAVID DALEY of FairVote.org. His book on the GOP's REDMAP assault on democracy is called Ratfucked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy. His more recent follow-up, out this year, is Unrigged: How Americans Are Battle Back to Save Democracy.

Daley details the horrors to come from the GOP's extreme gerrymandering plans that we will see in the next few weeks and months, describing them as "really bleak for the Democrats on the redistricting front". For example, he explains, "if you look at the 2020 election, Democratic candidates for the U.S. House won 4.7 million more votes than Republican candidates, but that only turned into a 5 seat majority. Republicans, simply by redistricting in Texas, Georgia, North Carolina and Florida alone --- before you even get to the handful of other states where they can pick up individual seats --- could probably get at least twice the number that they need to flip the House simply by gerrymandering those states."

But, even as he argues in favor of "Constitutional hardball" from Democrats, he does not agree with me that Dems should participate in the same sort of behavior in response when it comes to redistricting this year, describing it as "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic." He explains why, and we debate the issue on today's program.

I welcome your thoughts on this matter via email or in comments below, as I hope to discuss this more on the show in the days ahead.

Finally today, as if anyone needed more evidence of the dangers that await a fully Trumpified GOP takeover of democracy (even more than has already occurred), at least one Republican candidate running for the House of Delegates in Virginia next month should scare the hell out of you..and, for reasons that Desi Doyen explains, especially Virginians...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Why Bannon's in big trouble (probably); And why Trump may not be planning to run in 2024 after all...
By Brad Friedman on 10/14/2021 6:29pm PT  

From legal and election wonkery to supply chain wonkery, there is no wonkery that is too wonky for today's BradCast! But I suspect (or, at least, hope) you'll find it a pretty good show nonetheless. And you'll even find out why I actually agree (mostly, sort of) with not one, but two of Donald Trump's dumb, manipulative, self-serving statements he released yesterday! [Audio link to full show is posted below at end of this summary.]

  • First up, Steve Bannon is in trouble. He has no legitimate legal claim to not answer the subpoena of the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6th attack for both testimony and documents. Yet he's taking his (bad) legal advice from the disgraced former President and may wind up in jail because of it. If --- and it's still a big if --- Attorney General Merrick Garland is up to the job he was appointed to. We bring you up to date on all of the Committee's subpoenas to date, and who, other than Bannon, may also soon be facing criminal contempt charges.
  • Then, on Wednesday, Trump issued two dumb statements that we, shockingly. can (mostly, sort of) get behind. The first one was simply this: "If we don’t solve the Presidential Election Fraud of 2020 (which we have thoroughly and conclusively documented), Republicans will not be voting in ‘22 or ‘24. It is the single most important thing for Republicans to do." --- Of course, there has been zero evidence of election fraud of any note from 2020 documented thoroughly or otherwise. But we definitely agree his Republican supporters should absolutely stay home during next year's mid-terms and 2024's Presidential election. It's just the right thing for Republicans to do. That said, I also explain why this statement may suggest that Trump, contrary to conventional wisdom of late, may not be planning to run for President again.
  • Next, on Wednesday, a state Superior Court judge in Georgia (I misspoke on the show, describing this as a federal case) dismissed [PDF] the last major legal challenge still pending to the 2020 Presidential election in the state. It's a civil complaint filed by lead petitioner Garland Favorito of VoterGA. He has been on this show several times over the years, and who I've known him as an election integrity advocate long before Trump decided to pretend to be one. As explained, while I've got some problems with Favorito's lawsuit and, in fact, a number of claims he's made regarding the 2020 election since being discovered by the MAGA Mob (who, like Trump, also had zero interest in actual election integrity until now --- and still don't, to be frank), his lawsuit should not have been dismissed. At least not on the grounds that the Judge Brian J. Amero did so.

    The petition, seeking a physical inspection of absentee ballots in Fulton County (Atlanta), charges, among other things, that "pristine" counterfeit ballots --- never folded and bubbled in perfectly, as if by a computer --- were discovered during one of three statewide post-election "audits" last year. The evidence for the claim is largely based on allegations made by a woman who participated in the state-run hand-count "audit", though the affiant reportedly never brought the matter to the attention of officials during the audit and her story has changed somewhat over time, as she received attention from the MAGA media.

    Nonetheless, investigators from Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger's office told the court this week that they examined the ballots in question, and reported to the judge that they could find no such "pristine" counterfeit ballots in the batches specified by the complaint. While the judge says he reviewed that report by the state investigators, he says his dismissal is for a different reason. He held that the petitioners had no legal standing to sue, since they could show no "particularized injury," affecting them "in a personal and individual way". In other words, while their complaint could be true, it affected all Fulton voters, not just Favorito and friends.

    It's not Judge Amero's fault. The judicial theory is absurd, but it is based on a ruling by the state's 11th Circuit Court earlier this year. It was used as the basis to dismiss a separate attempt to overturn Georgia's 2020 elections results filed by L. Lin Wood, one of several Trumpy attorneys who, like Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, have had laughable, evidence-free 2020 "fraud" cases tossed out of courts and have been sanctioned for filing them. But the notion that a petitioner can't sue in Georgia, essentially because everyone has been affected by a certain alleged wrong, is a very bad precedent. And it's likely to harm other important and actually legtiimate lawsuits in the Peach State.

    More to the direct point here for now, as Favorito correctly noted in response to the ruling, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution: "All citizens of Georgia have a right to know whether or not counterfeit ballots were injected into the Fulton County election results. It is not adequate for any organization [in this case, the inspectors at the Sec. of State's office] to secretly tell us there are no counterfeit ballots and refuse to let the public inspect them."

    He is right. And so was Trump --- accidentally and disingenuously, of course --- in his own dumb, self-serving response to the court's ruling on Wednesday when he correctly asked "Why can't the public see the ballots?" (Most of the rest of his statement was either wrong or ridiculous.) Favorito says he will appeal.

    As explained on the show in more detail, public elections belong to the public. And only public oversight of public elections offer any chance of avoiding the situation we are now in where dishonest cretins, like Trump and his supporters, can falsely claim fraud. Secret vote counting by computers and ballots kept beyond the (controlled) reach of the public will guarantee that such claims --- legitimate or otherwise --- will continue to be made in future elections. That is a grave threat to democracy itself --- just in case you haven't noticed. It is the one we are now facing. And it can only have a chance of being cured by public oversight. Favorito and the public should be allowed to visually inspect the actual physical ballots --- so long as he pays for the effort and the ballots stay in the custody of public officials (unlike what happened in the Cyber Ninjas' clown show "audit" in Maricopa County, AZ). If it reveals counterfeit ballots, good. We should know that. If it doesn't, even better. The claim can be, hopefully, put to bed.

    Anyway, more detail and explanation on all of this on today's program.

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, on the disrupted global supply chain amid the pandemic resulting in a huge spike in energy prices and some very good climate news for both California under Gov. Gavin Newsom and the United States under President Joe Biden...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Maricopa 'audit' insider and 'bamboo guy' John Brakey of AUDIT-USA; Also: Congressional GOP pushing the U.S. government toward default and global economic disaster...
By Brad Friedman on 9/27/2021 6:39pm PT  

As we head into a week of what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi understated over the weekend as "a time of intensity", we cover that on today's BradCast along with a bit of postmortem mop-up following last week's spectacular fail by the dopey Cyber Ninjas in their Maricopa County, Arizona "audit" of the 2020 election. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

This week, Congress --- and the Democratic Party which is now, apparently, being forced to run it all by themselves --- is facing several precarious moment on a number of fronts. For a start Congress must pass a continuing resolution to keep the government operating after September 30th, when the current fiscal year ends. Even more importantly, to avoid a "financial calamity", they must pass a resolution to suspend or raise the statutory debt limit --- the amount of money the nation can borrow to pay for spending that has already been approved by Congress --- before the country defaults on its loans for the first time in history at some point in October.

Republicans in the U.S. Senate are blocking Democrats from doing either of those things at the moment, in what Pelosi describes as brinkmanship that is "irresponsible beyond words". That, after Democrats voted with Republicans time and again (three times during the Trump Administration alone) to suspend the debt ceiling in order to pay for much of the $8 trillion in debt that was run up with Republican approval over the past 4 years when Donald Trump was in the White House and they controlled Congress.

We explain the incredibly dangerous (and hypocritical) game that Mitch McConnell and the GOP are currently playing with the world economy, even as Democrats face their own internecine battles over how to pass final approval for the Biden Build Back Better agenda, including a bi-partisan $1.5 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill (which Dems can pass by themselves, if they can agree on it) to expand health care, child care, education and much more, including long-overdue action to address on climate emergency.

Next, BradCast listeners last week may know that we were the first in the nation to break the news that the phony, so-called "audit" of the 2020 Presidential and Senatorial election results in Maricopa (Phoenix), AZ by the partisan, conspiracy theorist Cyber Ninjas outfit ended up proving that the Dominion Voting Systems computer tabulators used to tally results in the state's largest county did so accurately. That, according to the Ninjas' own hand-count [PDF] of some 2.1 million ballots. In fact, in a spectacular and hilarious failure, the Ninjas count found the margins of victory for the Democrats in both Joe Biden's Presidential contest and Mark Kelly's Senatorial race, were actually larger than those certified by the County and state officials last year.

But, while the Ninjas tried (unsuccessfully) to bury that embarrassing finding, they also tried to flood the zone with smoke and mirrors about tens of thousands of ballots that they suggested were either illegal or fraudulent in their three-volume report on the audit, and a three-hour presentation last Friday to the GOP-controlled AZ state Senate. There too, they failed spectacularly with one outlet after another, including the Republican-majority Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, fact-checking, debunking and explaining the so-called "critical" claims made by the Ninjas.

It seems the Ninjas never bothered to check with any actual election administration professionals, else most of their concerns would likely have been explained to them.

We're joined today for a postmortem debrief by an insider to much of the past five months of "audit" clown show theater in Maricopa,. You know him as that "bamboo guy". We have known him for many years as the longtime progressive election transparency advocate JOHN BRAKEY of AUDIT-USA. Brakey joined us previously at the beginning of the "audit" for an insider view, and as it continued on for months past its initially planned three weeks, after comments of his taken out of context by a local reporter went viral, reporting that Brakey was looking for bamboo in the ballots, suggesting they were fraudulent and stuffed into the ballot box by China (as many in the MAGA set falsely claimed). In fact, as the later posted full context of his remarks reveals, Brakey was explaining what the Ninjas believed, not him, and that he was participating in the effort in hopes of "ungaslighting" the public about false and otherwise evidence-free claims being made by Trump supporters about the election results.

Brakey worked --- for free, while also refusing to sign the Ninjas' non-disclosure agreement --- with AZ's former Sec. of State, Ken Bennett, a Republican, who was tapped by the GOP state Senate to serve as their liaison to the "audit".

"The whole thing was a grift. Okay?," Brakey tells me today after the audits conclusion. "They didn't want people to know how screwed up they were. They're the best talkers but the worst producers. They pretend to know what they were talking about." But, as Brakey explains again today, they didn't have a clue what they were doing.

Among the many questions of mine that Brakey speaks to today:

  • Were his efforts to "ungaslight" the public by working on the audit successful or was it a mistake on his part to lend his credibility?
  • Does he believe the minds of any of the MAGA Mob were ultimately changed through this exercise?
  • As a long time election transparency and integrity champion, was there anything that the Ninjas DID uncover that was actually troubling and needs to be addressed or corrected by election officials?
  • Will the AZ "audit" make similar post-election reviews more or less likely elsewhere in the country?
  • What is the AZ Senate hiding by failing to release thousands of public documents and communications between them and the Ninjas (including emails and texts from Brakey), as ordered by a state judge?
  • And much more, including whether or not the Ninjas ever found that elusive "bamboo" in Maricopa County's 2.1 million hand-marked paper ballots!...

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Guest: Congressional historian and author Norman Ornstein of AEI on why he believes Dems will both reform the filibuster and pass a transformative Build Back Better budget reconciliation package...
By Brad Friedman on 9/22/2021 6:23pm PT  

On today's BradCast: What we are witnessing right now in Washington D.C. is not just an exercise in how the sausage gets made...or doesn't. While it is that, it is also an extraordinarily perilous moment for the survival of the republic, as Democrats try to step up, in order to face down an insurrectionist GOP seemingly hell bent on taking the nation and the world down with them. Fortunately, our guest today --- who knows this landscape as well as anyone in the nation --- seems optimistic, despite the fraught dangers that lie ahead. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

The nightmare moment for Joe Biden, the Democrats and the nation, includes a Congressional Republican Party willing to default on the, until now, iron-clad good faith and credit of the U.S. economy, by refusing to vote to raise the ridiculous "debt ceiling" in order to borrow the money needed to pay for all the stuff that we (including Republicans!) have already committed to paying for, including trillions spent or given away during the Trump years.

It also includes several mighty internecine battles inside the Congressional Democratic caucus itself, as the so-called "moderate" and progressive wings of the big tent party attempt to navigate through landmines over the next several days and weeks to come to an agreement on Joe Biden's proposed $3.5 trillion Build Back Better social safety net programs (which, in addition to the expansion of health and child care, also includes a laundry list of long-overdue programs, such as our first major attempt to take on our climate emergency) and the critical Freedom to Vote Act, a sweeping election reform package to try and counter the massive voter suppression and election subversion efforts being adopted by GOP-controlled states in advance of 2022.

To pass the latter, Democrats will almost certainly need to reform the filibuster in some way, to allow passage with a simple majority of Senators. Sadly, there do not appear to be any Republicans left in Congress who are willing to support the right to vote and fair elections. These problems seem insurmountable for the moment, even as we've been fairly bullish on the Dems' ultimate ability to overcome the many hurdles they currently face.

Similarly bullish, it seems, is NORMAN ORNSTEIN [pictured above], longtime Congressional historian and political science PhD, who has spent the bulk of the last four decades studying politics, elections, and the US Congress at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, where he is now a senior fellow emeritus. He is also a contributing editor and columnist for The Atlantic and author of a host of books, including his latest, One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported, with E. J. Dionne and Thomas E. Mann.

Last week, Ornstein and Norman Eisen, of the left-leaning Brookings Institution, published a Washington Post op-ed headlined "Seven reasons to think Senate Democrats will actually change the filibuster". It's based on a paper they published at the same time at Brookings, along with Mel Barnes and Jeffrey A. Mandell, titled "Filibuster reform is coming --- here's how".

Both pieces are surprisingly optimistic when it comes to what will have to happen --- and how West Virginia's Joe Manchin and Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema will have to play along --- in order to reform the filibuster to adopt the Freedom to Vote Act, before that freedom is all but foreclosed by GOP voter suppression and election subversion in next year's mid-terms and 2024's Presidential race.

"We're seeing more and more intense understanding on the part of Democrats in the Senate that the road to accomplishing significant goals, in a time frame that's short for Democrats, has to require some change in their rules," Ornstein tells me, explaining why he believes that even Manchin and Sinema will come around to understanding the existential necessity of countering "the over-the-top actions by --- it's not a party anymore --- the Republican cult, to try not just to obstruct votes and to suppress votes, but to intimidate election workers and overturn legitimate results."

He walks us through why he believes that both of those two currently obstructionist Democratic Senators will come around in the end, on both filibuster reform and the Dems' budget reconciliation bill, which can be adopted with a simple majority vote. "Joe Manchin, throughout his career, has been a transactional politician. You could do a bill that's, say, $2.2 or $2.5 trillion, that actually preserves all of your core priorities" by simply trimming the number of years those proposals will be in effect. And, he argues, it can be done "if not being revenue neutral," then in a way that "is a pretty trivial amount as a share of our Gross Domestic Product."

In the end, he believes Manchin will come along, and Sinema along with him. "I think it's dicey, but I also think it's doable," Ornstein argues.

Among other key points of our conversation today, we discuss how Nancy Pelosi can hold the vote on the smaller, bipartisan, $1.5 trillion infrastructure package that Democratic House "moderates" are demanding next week, but not send the bill to the President's desk until the larger reconciliation package supported by progressives is adopted in both chambers; and how (and if) Democrats will be able to overcome objections by the Senate Parliamentarian to include things like immigration reform in a budget reconciliation package, "awkwardly thrown in". All necessary, says Ornstein, "because of the goddamn filibuster! Because there's no other way to get it done with 50 votes. So you create this ungainly hodgepodge of things as a way to try to circumvent the rules, and the better way to deal with it is to change the damn rules!"

If these things don't happen, he warns, if Democrats fail to successfully navigate the many minefields to adopt both election reform and Biden's Build Back Better Agenda, we are in "deep, deep, deep trouble," he says. "I think we're done for, frankly, if they can't do both of these things."

Of course, in the next few days, we'll also have to somehow get over the debt ceiling cliff that Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are threatening to push the nation over. On that, Ornstein is less sanguine. "I'm actually more concerned about that, because we have a group of Republicans like [Governors] Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott, Kristi Noem and Tate Reeves, and so many others who are willing to let hundreds of thousands of people die [from COVID] for their own political purposes. Can I believe that Mitch McConnell and his colleagues would let the nation go into default and cause the economy to go into huge upheaval? Sadly, yes."

There is also at least one extra treat in my interview with Ornstein today, however, for those who may remember the hilarious and shockingly prescient 1998 satirical novel by Al Franken, written prior to his career as a U.S. Senator, entitled Why Not Me?: The Inside Story of the Making and Unmaking of the Franken Presidency. Ornstein actually "co-stars" in the book as Franken's unlikely Campaign Manager before becoming his Presidential Chief of Staff. I'll not give any more of the book away, since I suspect it's still an hilarious read. But today, Ornstein shares the backstory of how that book came about, and how much more prescient it actually turned out to be than even I remembered!...

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Guest: The American Prospect's Harold Meyerson; Also: Senate's 'Freedom to Vote Act' will mandate hand-marked paper ballots for all!...
By Brad Friedman on 9/15/2021 6:19pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: It takes a lot of chutzpah --- and plenty of confidence that corporate media is too cowed to call you out for it --- to continue calling your party a "conservative" one, after forcing state taxpayers to waste almost $300 million to run a special Recall Election that ends with almost the exact same results as the last time Republicans tried to defeat the popular Democratic Governor in an election. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, yeah, that's what happened on Tuesday. With about three quarters of the vote now tabulated in California, Governor Gavin Newsom has clearly crushed the GOP's attempted Recall Election in California --- by a mile. As of now, the vote to keep the Governor in office is ahead by about 28 points, or 64% to 36%. That's almost the same margin by which President Biden annihilated Donald Trump in the state in 2020, and slightly smaller than Newsom first term victory in 2018. (Though the results may still widen for Newsom before all is said and done with the processing of late Vote-by-Mail ballots and Provisionals over the next few weeks.)

The Governor, who will face a normal reelection contest in just over a year, offered brief remarks after media called the race on Tuesday night. "'No' is not the only thing that was expressed tonight," Newsom told supporters. "I want to focus on what we said ‘yes’ to as a state: We said yes to science, we said yes to vaccines, we said yes to ending this pandemic."

Along with a laundry list of rights and freedoms that progressive California voters "said yes" to, in contrast to the rightwingers hoping to end public health mandates and more, Newsom also noted the state "said yes to people's right to vote without fake fraud or voter suppression."

On Monday, the day before the Recall --- before any results were known at all --- the GOP's top candidate, far-right radio talk show host Larry Elder, unveiled a "Stop CA Fraud" website demanding a special session of the state legislature be convened to "investigate and ameliorate the twisted results of this 2021 Recall Election." That would have been unknown results, at the time, which he disingenuously charged included "improperly formed ballots"; "instances of undocumented ballots"; and "statistical analyses [that] have detected fraud in California resulting in Governor Gavin Newsom being reinstated as governor." Without such a special session --- presumably at an even higher "conservative" cost to taxpayers --- Elder's campaign threatened use of the "ammo-box."

Hours after most media outlets had called the race for Newsom on Tuesday night --- after Fox "News" had quickly pulled down all of their Election Night incoming results numbers in order to pretend there had been no election at all that day --- Elder finally conceded and encouraged supporters to be "gracious in defeat". But, after lying about "fraud" in the election and threatening use of the "ammo-box", he should receive zero credit for those remarks. He then pledged that, though he "may have lost the battle, we are going to win the war."

We're joined today by longtime Editor of The American Prospect, former Editor of L.A. Weekly and frequent Los Angeles Times contributor HAROLD MEYERSON. We discuss whatever lessons may be learned from the Recall for both Democrats and Republicans in the state, as well as across the nation, as we head into next year's mid-term elections and, as Meyerson writes at The Prospect today, "the California GOP has gone down the same rathole as the rest of the Trumpified horde."

"They're saying Larry Elder is now the dominant figure in the California Republican Party," Meyerson observes, regarding GOP hopes for a rematch against Newsom next year. "If you want your party leader, your standard bearer, your best electoral prospect to come into the next race trailing by four to five million votes --- okay! Take it away!"

We also discuss why and how California's 100-year old, once well-intentioned progressive Recall and Ballot Initiative process needs to be overhauled in the state, where it should have been done by Democrats years ago.

Finally, in a BradCast with way more good news than we are accustomed to these days, more good news on the Senate Democrats' newly unveiled election reform compromise bill known as the "Freedom to Vote Act". We summarized the wildly encouraging key points of the new bill, crafted by eight Senate Dems including Joe Manchin, on yesterday's program. But, we didn't have the legislative text at the time to report on whether the summary's promise of "Voter-Verified Paper Ballots," would truly offer the long-overdue right to a hand-marked paper ballot for all voters across the country, or whether the legislation would offer gaping holes on that point, as the Dems' otherwise excellent For the People Act --- on which the Freedom to Vote Act is based --- currently does.

On that point, now that we've seen the actual text of the proposed 592-page bill [PDF], we can happily report the good news that the new legislation does, on page 318, appear to promise long-overdue HMPBs for all "at every in-person voting location" in the country! Passage of this bill --- if Dems can figure out how to get Manchin's permission to reform the filibuster to do it --- would be the most transformative legislation for American democracy since the Voting Rights Act of 1965...and could, arguably, even out do it!

Let's get the "Freedom to Vote Act" passed, ASAP!!!

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Elder pretends to care about 'election integrity', lies about fraud before Election Day; Senate Dems reach fantastic election reform 'compromise'; More anti-vax RWers 'bite the dust' while inflaming the pandemic for all...
By Brad Friedman on 9/14/2021 6:57pm PT  

Get ready for another roller-coaster ride on today's BradCast, which also happens to be Recall Election Day in California. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

As of airtime on Tuesday, we heard of no major reports of voting problems at the polls across the Golden State, though that may be thanks to so many already having voted by mail or during early voting. But, while pretending to support "election integrity" during an interview on MSNBC, Larry Elder, rightwing talk show host and GOP front-runner to become Governor if popular Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom loses on the ballot's first question, was busy lying about "fraud" and the "twisted results of this 2021 Recall Election" on his "Stop CA Fraud" website, before any results are known whatsoever. Oh, and he's also threatening the use of the "ammo box" if the results don't go his way.

(And, in related comment, we discuss why these "Will you accept the results of the election tomorrow?" questions are really unfair and unhelpful gotcha questions, that it would be really nice if media stopped asking.)

In far brighter news, a group of eight U.S. Senators --- representing the broad political spectrum across the Democratic caucus in the upper chamber and including Joe Manchin --- announced a "compromise" election reform package with a ton of really really good stuff in it. Among the huge number of long overdue reforms in what they have dubbed the "Freedom to Vote Act": Automatic and same-day voter registration for all; restoration of voting rights for former felons; federal minimum standards for absentee voting, drop boxes and early voting; an end to partisan gerrymandering; curbs on dark money in elections; the prevention of the ability of partisan state legislatures to overturn results derived by non-partisan election officials; new cybersecurity standards for computerized voting systems; and much much more.

The devil is often in the details, and I've yet to review the actual legislative text as of airtime, but from the summary description made available by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Senate committee that oversees federal elections and campaign law, almost any one of the items included in this proposed bill would be hugely good news. I'll need to review the specific language on the measure's requirements for hand-marked paper ballots to sign off on that part of the bill, but even the proposed requirements for Voter ID are very good ones. They will serve to force states with purposely restrictive Photo ID voting restrictions (enacted to suppress the vote, not to protect against fraud) to be much less onerous, while avoiding new restrictive mandates in the majority of states which already have reasonable ID rules or few at all.

The legislation is based on Manchin's personal "compromise" version of the For the People Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, both of which have already been passed by the House. Manchin is one of the eight Senators who worked out this proposal, and is said to be reaching out to bring Republicans on board. Of course, even if all 50 Senators who caucus with the Dems vote in favor, as appears likely (Schumer says he is scheduling a vote for next week), it seems unimaginable that any Republicans will join them, much less the 10 that would be required to overcome a Senate filibuster. But with Manchin as a co-sponsor, it will now be on him to get the GOP votes needed for passage or face the prospect of no long-overdue election protection at all...UNLESS he is willing to support a "democracy reconciliation" carve-out to the Senate filibuster. It should be a very interesting, maddening and/or fantastic week or two. We'll be following it all very closely, of course.

And, as Dems are trying to improve representative Democracy in the U.S., Republicans are still, apparently, in the business of simply trying to kill as many Americans as they can to make some sort of twisted political point.

Yet another fervent, anti-vaxxer rightwing radio and TV host died from COVID over the weekend, the fifth in the past month and a half. And while we've had a modicum of sympathy for some of the others who have recently passed, as we explain, this one, 62-year old Bob Enyart, is very difficult to feel anything but contempt for.

We have slightly more sympathy, however, for the wildly misinformed and brainwashed 64-year old anti-vax QAnon supporter and highway overpass activist and YouTuber, Veronica Wolski who bragged last month on her final video about never having worn a mask in her life, and about the need to "NEVER COMPLY" with any COVID public health measures in order to "never give up your freedoms" so "you never have to fight to get them back."

She won't be fighting for anything anymore. Wolski died over the weekend from COVID-related illness in the ICU, but not before the QAnon dupes, led by disgraced Georgia attorney Lin Wood, sicced supporters on the hospital trying to save her life and threatened its workers with "murder" charges unless they agreed to treat her with Ivermectin, the horse deworming medicine not approved for treatment of COVID. That, before Wood declared on his Telegram channel to his more than 800,000 followers: "Now, we go to war."

Unfortunately, deadly climate change (not to mention COVID) is what wingnuts should be going to war against. As Desi Doyen explains in our latest Green News Report today, yet another massive tropical storm, Hurricane Nicholas, is now knocking out power (again) and drenching the U.S. Gulf Coast with some 20 inches of rain in parts of Texas flooded out in 2017 by Hurricane Harvey and sections of Louisiana that were already still under water following last week's Hurricane Ida. President Biden, meanwhile, is pushing for action on climate in his $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill, and his EPA is taking several long-overdue actions on behalf of clean, non-toxic drinking water across the U.S., and an age-old salmon fishery in Alaska...

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