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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, December 6, 2022
All State-Funded Media is
Not Created Equally:
'BradCast' 12/5/22
Guest: Voice of America's former WH House Bureau Chief, Steve Herman; Also: New flu, COVID surge; Russia's latest offensive; Trump calls for 'termination' of U.S. Constitution...
Sunday 'Abandon All Hope' Toons
Give it up for PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
AZ Election Super-Geniuses: 'BradCast' 12/2/22
Cochise County ordered to certify results; Lake, Finchem attorneys sanctioned; Also: Warnock campaigner shot in GA; Boebert recount begins in CO; Dems avert rail strike, but about those paid sick days...
Seditious Conspiracy Verdicts and 'Mob Boss' Obstruction: 'BradCast' 12/1/22
Guest: Emptywheel's Marcy Wheeler; Also: Out of work loser, Dr. Oz; Hilarious sentence for GOP vote suppressors; Breaking: 11th Circuit nixes Special Master in Trump docs case...
'Green News Report' 12/1/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
DoJ sues to clean up water supply in Jackson, MS; Mauna Loa shuts global CO2 monitor; New methane rules for drilling; PLUS: Int. Dept to help tribal communities escape rising seas...
Recent GNRs: 11/29/22 - 11/17/22 - Archives...
Good News and Bad News in GA Early Runoff Voting: 'BradCast' 11/30/22
Guest: GA election expert, observer Jeanne Dufort; Also: Dems unite behind new House leadership; Bills passed to help avert rail strike; Meadows ordered to testify in GA...
Fun Times in MAGA Land!: Sedition! Collusion! Denial!: 'BradCast' 11/29/22
Oath Keepers chief 'guilty'; GOP money launderer 'guilty'; AZ Dem SoS/Guv-elect fights to keep Repubs from disenfranchising selves...
'Green News Report' 11/29/22
Breakthrough at U.N. climate conference; Americans at risk of power blackouts; Buffalo, NY buried by blizzard; PLUS: Houston, TX under boil water notice...
We're Back! But Election and Accountability Season Never Left: 'BradCast' 11/28/22
Pillow Guy is running!; Special Counsel wasting no time; Trumpers failed in AK too; Lake still pretending in AZ; Callers have a few thoughts...
Sunday 'Once More Unto the Breach' Toons
And here we go again...into PDiddie's latest post-Turkey toon collection...
Turkey Toons
Gobble gobble! Our thanks to the one and only Pdiddie for a special holiday collection of toons to help you burn off a few calories!...
Debating the Merits of Garland's New Special Counsel: 'BradCast' 11/21/22
Guests: Former DoJ prosecutor Randall D. Eliason of GWU, Const'l law expert John Bonifaz of FSFP; Also: Does the Const. disqualify Trump from 2024?...
Sunday 'Ready or Not' Toons
PDiddie's latest collection of the past week's most gut-busting political toons...
'Green News Report' 11/17/22
Crunch time for COP27 climate agreement; NASA says sea levels to rise a foot by 2050; Trump's 2024 announce-ment climate lies; PLUS: Climate disinfo surging again...
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...


On climate, natural gas, 'junk fees' and other substantive issues worth knowing about ahead of our critical midterm elections...
By Brad Friedman on 10/27/2022 6:18pm PT  

The element of surprise plays a central role in several of the stories covered on today's BradCast.

Among them...

  • SURPRISE! Natural gas prices actually went negative (companies paying to give it away) in parts of Europe this week, as the EU now has a glut of natural gas with Winter approaching and storage facilities reaching capacity. That's particularly surprising after earlier concerns earlier this year that folks could freeze to death after Russia's Vladimir Putin cut off much of its supply in retaliation for sanctions against his brutal invasion of Ukraine. So, why the glut? Several reasons: EU nations scrambled to make up for the gas cut off by Putin with sources from elsewhere while also working toward a quicker transition to renewable sources of energy. Also, mild, climate changed weather in the region has eased demand so far this Autumn.
  • SURPRISE! The price of natural gas in parts of west Texas also plummeted to nearly zero recently, thanks to over-production and a lack of storage there as well. All of which is "surprising", if only because Republicans have been telling (lying to) Americans that Joe Biden had crippled fossil fuel energy production in the U.S. (he hasn't), which has lead to increased prices...which is actually largely due to price gouging that every Republican in Congress recently voted against prohibiting.
  • SURPRISE! Russia's war in Ukraine is hastening, not slowing, a global shift away from fossil fuels and towards cleaner, renewable energy sources like wind, solar and EV's, according to a new International Energy Agency (IAE) report on Thursday. Global investment in renewable sources is quickly rising, as nations seek energy security in response to Putin's war and in hopes of improving their economies by grabbing a chunk of the trillions of dollars being spent on development and manufacturing in the burgeoning clean energy industry. Nonetheless, while the shift will reportedly result in peak fossil fuel usage by 2025, the current pace of the transition is still nowhere near what climate scientists say is necessary to avoid the worst impacts of global warming.
  • SURPRISE (FEES)! The Biden Administration's Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced on Wednesday that it is cracking down on unlawful corporate junk fees --- for checks you deposit at your bank from someone which ends up bouncing; for changing plane tickets after an airline cancelled your flight, etc. --- amounting to billions of dollars in savings for American consumers. The President's announcement at the White House on Wednesday comes just days after three Trump-appointees on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with part of a lawsuit from the sleazy Payday Lending Industry lobby charging that the funding mechanism for the CFPB --- created during the Obama Administration in response to the Great Recession as the only federal agency created to protect consumers rather than corporations --- was somehow unconstitutional. And after Biden's announcement to end junk fees, Republicans in both the House and Senate released statements vowing to end the new consumer protections...which will be much easier for them to do if they win majorities in either chamber in the November midterms.
  • SURPRISE (NOT)! After Amazon indignantly pretended to cut off political donations to Republicans who voted against certifying Joe Biden's Electoral College victory after the January 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol insurrection, the monopolistic retailer apparently restarted them...just as soon as the nation's next major election got under way.
  • Finally, it's no surprise that Desi Doyen has both good news and bad in our latest Green News Report, as drought deepens across the U.S.., the U.N. warns about catastrophic consequences of climate change; Australia builds a really really big battery; and as the Biden Administration rolls out a national fleet electric school buses...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: David Dayen of The American Prospect; Also: Follow science and save lives by voting NO on CA's Prop 31 vaping flavor ban!...
By Brad Friedman on 10/24/2022 6:35pm PT  

Today on The BradCast, some help for voters in California trying to make sense of some of those confusing propositions on this year's midterm ballot, and some new worries for the entire nation when it comes to the GOP's vow to destroy the so-called "administrative state". [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

We're joined today by DAVID DAYEN, investigative financial journalist, Executive Editor of The American Prospect and author of (most recently), Monopolized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power. We've got quite a bit to discuss with him today.

First, ride-share companies Lyft and Uber scammed California voters two years ago with the landslide passage of Prop 22, which the companies spent nearly $250 million to put on the ballot and misrepresent to voters. They claimed that their workers in the state should not be treated as employees under CA law --- with all the benefits that come with it --- but as a new type of independent contractor. The companies told voters that, under Prop 22, their drivers would make at least 20% above minimum wage (currently $15/hour in the state) and would receive other increased benefits for healthcare, etc.

Now, two years in, it turns out that Uber and Lyft drivers in CA are averaging just $6.20/hour. Dayen explains how that can possibly be, adding: "When you allow a corporation to set the terms of employment and to opt out of, in this case, the state system that governs employment arrangements, they're probably going to take advantage of it for their devices. And that's exactly what happened here."

This year, Lyft is supporting another CA ballot initiative, Prop 30, that would tax millionaires to help subsidize elective vehicles for their drivers and to fund CA firefighting efforts. The state's Democratic Party seems to believe them. The state's Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, on the other hand, doesn't. What explains that? We try to figure it out.

But, more importantly, Dayen argues the entire matter is symptomatic of what he now sees as CA's "failed experiment with direct democracy" in its ballot initiative process. Can it be reformed to make it work for the people as intended? Or has it been irreversibly taken over by corporate interests who have learned how to purchase their interests into state law?

Also today, Dayen breaks down last week's stunning ruling by a three-judge panel on the hard-right 5th Circuit Court of Appeals (all three were Trump appointees), finding that the way Congress chose to fund the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is, somehow, unconstitutional. The CFPB was created during the Obama Administration to protect consumers after the 2008 global banking crisis and subsequent Great Recession. It was the brainchild of Elizabeth Warren before she became a Senator. The Bureau is the only federal agency built and devoted specifically to protecting consumers, as opposed to corporations.

As Dayen explains, the court's ruling, if allowed to stand, would not only make the CFPB go away entirely (long a goal of Republicans), but also hundreds of regulations and consumer protections that the Bureau oversees. Moreover, if the judges are right about the funding mechanism for CFPB being unconstitutional, well then so is the funding for dozens of other critical federal agencies and programs!

"The logic of the 5th Circuit's ruling is that all of those other agencies [including the FDA] are also unconstitutional," says Dayen. "There are also a number of mandatory spending items in America that are not funded through the appropriations process. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps. The logic of the 5th Circuit's ruling is that all those things are all unconstitutional."

In addition to "this ruling defunding the police --- the consumer protection police" in a case brought by the rapacious payday lending industry, he details how this is the very definition of the GOP's years-long vow to "destroy the administrative state". In this case, as Dayen argues, there are also a bunch of protections for big banks that would be wiped out as well unless the ruling is overturned. So, maybe that little glitch will --- ironically enough --- help to save the CFPB.

One more matter we touch on with the author of Monopolized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power, the recently announced takeover of Albertsons by Kroger, which already owns Ralph's, Food For less, and many others as the nation's largest grocery store conglomerate. Albertsons is the second largest. They own Vons, Safeway and many others. In short, Kroger's takeover, if it goes through, would result in one company owning --- and having near monopolistic pricing power over --- more than 60% of the nation's grocery stores. As you might imagine, Dayen has a few warnings about this "very, very disturbing merger," but adds that he's pretty sure that Biden's Federal Trade Commission (FTC) "is going to take a healthy look at it."

Finally today, one more thought on one more initiative on this November's CA ballot, one which is likely to spread like a deadly virus to much of the rest of the country if successful here. Prop 31 would ban the sale of flavored e-juice for vaping and e-cigs in the state. The disingenuous claim by supporters is that flavors --- like the one that I used, espresso, to finally successfully quit smoking --- are attractive to kids. Prop 31 proponents argue this ban on flavored vape juice is needed to keep kids from vaping. But the fact is that kids are already banned from buying these products in CA! Instead, the ban would serve only to kill actual smokers by preventing them from switching to vaping, which scientists universally find to be far safer than smoking. More details in support of "NO" on CA's Prop 31 --- a maddening and deadly scam --- on today's BradCast...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Congressional historian, political scientist Norm Ornstein; Also: Leahy's Iraq War spy story...
By Brad Friedman on 10/19/2022 5:41pm PT  

We've spent quite a bit of time of late on The BradCast discussing what could happen if Democrats are able to hold their majority in the U.S. House this year and pick up two more seats in the Senate. Codifying privacy rights and reproductive freedoms into federal law; passage of the much-needed Freedom to Vote Act; expansion of the corrupted U.S. Supreme Court to un-corrupt it. That all become possible in such an event, just to cite a few of the most pressing issues. But what happens if they don't? [Audio link to today's full show follows this summary.]

We've noted that it remains an uphill battle for Democrats to hold their majorities in either chamber of Congress this year, much less expand one of them. So, what happens if Republicans win a majority in one or both?

In short, it would be very very bad for a host of reasons, including for democracy itself. But TPM's Kate Riga detailed just some of the political nightmares that are likely to occur, as Republicans have revealed in their own words. From endless Congressional investigations of nonsense (think "Benghazi on steroids") to pointless culture war legislation that would be vetoed by President Biden even if it somehow overcame a Senate filibuster, to impotent efforts to impeach the President and various members of his Cabinet...for something or other.

But, even without majorities in both chambers, Republicans can wreak extraordinary damage to both the U.S. and global economies simply by re-upping their 2011 "Tea Party" scheme to hold the nation (and world) hostage to any number of demands in exchange for raising the dumb debt ceiling next year. ("Dumb", because it's absurd that the U.S. even has such a statute requiring Congressional permission to borrow money to pay for stuff that has already been purchased with Congressional and Presidential authority. Also "dumb" because Republicans only use it as a dangerous bargaining chip when a Democrat is in the White House. Despite blowing up the deficit by trillions during the Trump Administration, the debt limit was raised three times by Congress with nary a peep.)

As Riga and others have reported this week, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the GOP's presumptive House Speaker if they take back a majority, has signaled that his party intends to hold cuts to Medicare and Social Security among hostages in exchange for agreeing to lift the debt ceiling. That, in the words of our guest today, would be "catastrophic" on several levels.

We're joined today by Congressional historian, political scientist and author NORM ORNSTEIN, who has been covering Congress for nearly 50 years via the conservative American Enterprise Institute, where he is a Senior Fellow Emeritus and now as contributing editor and columnist for The Atlantic.

Last week at The Atlantic, Ornstein warned that it's not just "democracy at stake this fall", as he asked "how far would a Republican majority go?" in undermining the U.S. economy in advance of the 2024 Presidential election. He recounts the first real use of the debt ceiling as a blunt political instrument to wreak havoc on U.S. policy and the economy along with it by the "Tea Party" back in 2011. While a last minute compromise at the time avoided a first-ever default of the U.S. government and the inability to pay its debts, the brinkmanship and hostage-taking cost the economy billions. Our credit rating was downgraded for the first time ever and the Dow plunged some 2,000 points.

But Ornstein is now more worried about what may happen next year if the GOP wins a House majority. As he explains today, "back in 2011, there were grownups in the room who kept it from getting out of control." Today, however "we're in a different world."

"In the past," he tells me, citing Donald Trump as an "accelerant" for GOP "dysfunction," "we still had what we could think of as a political party, even as it began to go downhill. But now it's a full-blown cult. The willingness of new members coming in, joining with a lot of radical members who will be returning to blow the whole thing up, the lack of interest in fundamental institutions or in the need to be responsible at governance is astonishing."

"I have never, in fifty-plus years of being immersed in the institution, seen a weaker or more pathetic leader than Kevin McCarthy," he says. "The idea that he would stop them from mayhem is, at this point, not believable."

"Other than that the fact that these are radicals dominating the party, they can't pass legislation on their own. They can't impeach and convict and remove from office the officials they would want to, including the President and the Attorney General and Sec. of Homeland Security, among many others."

But, as Ornstein adds, they will have "the power for the purse" with which they can cause extraordinary damage both here and around the world. He details both the chaos and what Democrats can do to try and preempt it during the Lame Duck period after the November midterms in the event that Republicans win back a majority in one or both chambers.

"The best thing to do is to do as every other country does and eliminate this ridiculous device [the debt ceiling]," but, since Dems can't do that on their own via reconciliation, they could invoke "the ironically named McConnell Rule" through reconciliation to stave off the threat of GOP debt ceiling brinkmanship that could result in a first-ever financial default by the nation. Tune in for an explanation of that ironically named rule and much more on all of this today.

Or, of course, Americans could simply reelect Democrats to majorities in both chambers and avoid the guaranteed nightmares that lie ahead with GOP control of either, now that they have wasted away into little more than a radical, extremist, "full-blown cult."

Finally, we close today with a fascinating spy story, of sorts, regarding retiring, eight-term Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and the U.S. intel agencies during the lead-up to the Iraq War (which he voted against), based on false evidence of WMDs hyped by the Bush/Cheney Administration...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Ernest A. Canning on that and CA's big step toward socialized medications; Also: Trump's election theft effort on GA prosecutor's mind; GOP Senate nom no longer an election denier (now that he won the nomination); Patagonia gives away the company to save the planet...
By Brad Friedman on 9/16/2022 6:35pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The story of why Americans are still paying the health care price (in both blood and treasure) in 2022 for "free market champion" Ronald Reagan's 1987 Executive Order that gave away the tax-payer store to Big Pharma. Plus, a bunch of other somewhat happier stories. [Audio link to full story is posted below this summary.]

First up today, an update in the still-broadening criminal conspiracy probe by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis into Donald Trump's many faceted and failed efforts to steal the 2020 Presidential election in Georgia. With 17 known "targets" in the probe so far, including Rudy Giuliani and 16 fake Trump electors, the prosecutor tells Washington Post in an exclusive interview that there will be more "targets" announced soon and that she believes some are likely "facing prison sentences." She has yet to decide if the former President will be among them, though, with dozens of witnesses who have already been subpoenaed and testified to her Special Grand Jury in Atlanta, Willis says the Grand Jury should wrap up by year's end. A decision whether to call Trump in to testify --- or declare him a target --- is likely "to be made late this fall," she says.

Next, now that far-right retired Brigadier General and dyed-in-the-wool conspiracy theorist Don Bolduc won the GOP nomination in New Hampshire this week to challenge incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan this November, he's...um...re-evaluating some of his previous positions. During a primary debate with fellow GOP candidates before the primary, he proudly denied Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 election. "I signed a letter with 120 other Generals and Admirals saying that Trump won the election and, dammit, I stand by my words!," Bolduc bravely declared to cheers from Party faithful. When asked about his position this week on Fox "News," however, after winning the GOP nomination, Bolduc hemmed and hawed his newly discovered belief after "a lot of research on this", finding the 2020 "election was not stolen" and that "President Biden is the legitimate President of this country." Granite Staters will undoubtedly fall for his pretend new "moderate" line, right?

Then, newly reformulated COVID vaccine booster shots from both Pfizer and Moderna, designed to combat both the classic coronavirus and several newer Omicron variants, are now available to the general public in the U.S. The White House and CDC are recommending Americans get the new shot by Halloween to lessen the chance of infection --- or killing your grandmother --- over Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays when a new surge is expected. (They also recommend getting a flu shot at the same time.)

But why are new COVID vaccines even necessary more than two years into the pandemic? One reason is thanks to the fact that, despite tens of billions of tax-payer dollars given by the federal government to private companies for the development of the life-saving vaccines, the private pharmaceutical giants who make them refuse to give up their patent and intellectual property rights to make the vaccines available to the world. That means new variants continue to emerge, leading to more infections and the need for updated vaccines and, yes, more profit for Big Pharma. It's a pretty nice deal...for them.

So, how did we get here? We're joined today by ERNEST A. CANNING, longtime legal analyst at The BRAD BLOG, who recently took a deep dive into a 1987 Executive Order by Ronald Reagan that gifted patents and profits that go with them to huge, for-profit pharmaceutical companies that used tax-payer dollars to develop their inventions. That, from the Republican idol who, ironically, once declared: "We who live in free market societies believe that growth, prosperity and ultimately human fulfillment, are created from the bottom up, not the government down."

The pharmaceutical industry may disagree, even if they won't say so out-loud. "No matter how big a company and how much money was poured in by federal government for research and development, the patent would belong to the giant company," Canning explains. "We've been paying, just in general research, about $28 billion in pharmaceutical R&D every year." Given the "value of those patents," he notes, "we're talking trillions of dollars in a gift, not just tens of billions."

He also explains how all of this came about (beginning with Jimmy Carter) and why its now so difficult for Joe Biden to merely repeal Reagan's Executive Order in regard to the COVID vaccines.

But Canning also offers some brighter news related to patent abuse by Big Pharma, which he also recently wrote about at The BRAD BLOG. In a landmark initiative, the state of California is now fighting back. Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom recently announced the state will begin manufacturing insulin and will make the hundred-year old drug available for just slightly more than it costs to produce. Canning explains why that has become necessary as Big Pharma takes advantage of loopholes in Intellectual Property laws to bilk diabetics with outrageous prices for the inexpensive, life-saving medicine.

Finally, a private company that is --- shockingly enough --- apparently doing the right thing for the country and the world. (What?!) The family that owns outdoor gear brand Patagonia, headed up by its 83-year old founder, announced this week that they will be "making Earth our only shareholder". While the company will remain a for-profit entity, currently valued at around $3 billion, it will now begin giving away all profits --- about $100 million a year --- to two newly created entities, a trust and a non-profit, both devoted to combating our climate crisis.

(Any chance we can coax Patagonia into the pharmaceutical business while we're at it?!)

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Dismantling pharmaceutical monopolies begins with repealing his 1987 Executive Order giveaway...
By Ernest A. Canning on 9/14/2022 11:05am PT  

We should be both relieved and outraged!

Relieved that, earlier this month, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new round of booster shots specifically re-designed to address new variants of the deadly COVID virus.

Outraged because, despite the expenditure of tens of billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars on research and development (R&D), the pharmaceutical industry's refusal to waive its "gifted" patent rights prevented a global rollout of the COVID vaccines. In turn, that refusal resulted in the need for the new booster shots.

Outraged because the industry's refusal to waive their patent rights has produced "excess mortality" with COVID that, as of the beginning of this month, has killed at least 6.5 million people worldwide, with no end in sight.

Outraged because this will, in all likelihood, not be the last newly reconstituted booster shot needed. It is the considered opinion of two thirds of the world's epidemiologists that the failure to provide global vaccinations will give rise to mutations that "could render current COVID vaccines ineffective."

And, yes, the patent rights were, indeed, a gift --- from the United States to the Pharmaceutical Industry...

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




Newsom makes good on vow to manufacture generic drugs, highlighting Big Pharma's long manipulation of Intellectual Property laws for profit...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/29/2022 11:05am PT  

The state of California is embarking on a ground-breaking effort to manufacture and distribute a life-saving drug. The plan also deals a first major blow to private pharmaceutical companies that have long abused the nation's legal system for profit at the expense of the health of the citizenry.

"On my first day in office I signed an Executive Order to put California on a path towards creating our own prescription drugs," Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom declared in a July 7 video posted to Twitter, referencing his inauguration promise in January of 2019. "And now it's happening".

Newsom's statement came in the wake of his approval of a Golden State Budget Proposal that will invest $50 million into development and $50 million more into a State-owned facility that will manufacture and distribute generic (aka biosimilar) insulin to Californians at slightly above cost.

If it succeeds, California, which has the world's 5th largest economy, will not only become the first State, but also the only government, other than Cuba, to embrace the socialized production of generic medications. (Although Cuba develops and manufactures its own generic medications and provides free "preventative medical care, diagnostic tests and medications for hospitalized patients", Pharmacy Times reported, "Cubans pay out-of-pocket for outpatient medications.")

California's progressive Democratic Governor pointed to the extraordinarily high cost of insulin as a form of "market failure" that justifies his embrace of socialized medications. His decision to allow the Golden State to produce its own generic insulin also highlights the immoral manipulation of the nation's patent laws by for-profit drug companies...

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




Guest: Stephanie Foggett of The Soufan Center...
By Brad Friedman on 8/16/2022 6:53pm PT  

We really do have (at least) two Americas at this point. One America, led by President Joe Biden and his Democratic party in Congress, who have now triumphantly signed into law the largest climate bill in U.S. history, which also includes landmark measures to make healthcare cheaper for tens of millions of Americans. And another America, which is calling for violence, mayhem and murder of American law enforcement officials, and they are led there by the disgraced former President of the United States. We discuss both Americas on today's BradCast. Apologies in advance for the whiplash. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

On Tuesday, Joe Biden signed the historic, if somewhat misleadingly named, Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), a trimmed down version of his Build Back Better Act which was blocked by all 50 Senate Republicans and two Democrat last year. The IRA, however, includes some $400 billion to finally begin tackling climate change and moving the nation from dirty fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy; institutes a $2,000 annual cap on prescription drug costs for seniors; allows Medicare to negotiate for cheaper prices with drug companies for the first time ever; and increases taxes on hugely profitable corporations that currently pay no taxes at all. It also helps pays down the deficit and a bunch of other things.

It was passed in both chambers of Congress, where Democrats hold the thinnest of majorities in each, without one single Republican vote, as the President took pains to note during his White House signing ceremony today.

"Let’s be clear," Biden said, "In this historic moment, Democrats sided with the American people, and every single Republican in the Congress sided with the special interests in this vote — every single one. In fact, big drug companies spent nearly $100 million to defeat this bill. A hundred million dollars. And remember: Every single Republican in Congress voted against this bill."

"We’re delivering results for the American people," the President boasted. "We didn’t tear down; we built up. We didn’t look back; we looked forward. And today offers further proof that the soul of America is vibrant, the future of America is bright, and the promise of America is real and just beginning."

"I know there are those here today who hold a dark and despairing view of this country," Biden said. "I’m not one of them. I believe in the promise of America. I believe in the future of this country. I believe in the very soul of this nation. And most of all, I believe in you, the American people."

As to those who do "hold a dark and despairing view of this country," many of them have been showing their true, dark colors over the past week since the FBI obtained a lawful warrant to search Donald Trump's Florida compound for highly classified and sensitive national security documents that he stole from the White House upon leaving office last year.

After Trump revealed the search publicly last week, using rhetoric seemingly chosen to incite violence --- falsely citing "prosecutorial misconduct," "weaponization of the Justice System," describing the U.S. as a "broken, Third-World Country" --- there has been what the DHS and FBI described in a bulletin last week as an "unprecedented" number of "violent threats" against federal law enforcement, courts and government personnel and facilities.

"These threats are occurring primarily online and across multiple platforms, including social media sites, web forums, video sharing platforms, and image boards," the bulletin warns. It was published the day after a Donald Trump supporter was killed following his attempt to attack an FBI field office in Ohio with a nail gun and an AR-15, and as another Trump supporter was taken into custody and charged for issuing graphic calls to "slaughter" federal officers on several different social media cites.

And while threats on far-right, neo-Nazi Internet sites reportedly spiked following Trump's announcement of the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago, it has also spiked on "mainstream" Rightwing media outlets like Fox "News", where the rhetoric --- from many of its prime time hosts and elected Republican officials alike --- has become hauntingly similar to that found on the darkest, far-right cesspools of the Internet.

We're joined today by STEPHANIE FOGGETT, a Research Fellow at The Soufan Center and Director of Global Communications at The Soufan Group, where her areas of expertise include terrorism, online extremism and the rise of white supremacy. She has a great deal of perspective to offer on this issue.

"This rhetoric is alarming, but it is not surprising, especially given the online spaces and activity that I watch every day," she tells me. "I monitor the darkest and most violent corners of this information ecosystem, and I really think, above all, it's important to know that these threats and attacks on law enforcement, they're not coming out of a vacuum."

Indeed, as Matt Gertz at Media Matters observed last week "Fox and other right-wing outlets describe the search as 'the worst attack on this republic in modern history,' part of a 'preemptive coup' to prevent Trump’s reelection, and a sign the country is now a 'tyranny.' They say the FBI is acting like 'the East German Stasi in the Cold War' and the Nazi 'Gestapo,' and call its agents part of a 'lawless criminal organization' that 'planted evidence,' bugged Trump’s bedroom, and may be planning his 'assassination.'"

"And they are quick to tell their viewers that they should fear their own persecution in the wake of the search," Gertz writes. "According to right-wing outlets, 'the real target of this investigation is you'." Just last night, Tucker Carlson, the most popular host on the nation's most popular cable "news" outlet, told viewers that President Biden is now "declar[ing] war on his own population."

"It's rinsing and repeating narratives and concerns that we saw with the Stop the Steal campaign and things like that," Foggett explains. "It's really tapping into this narrative on the far-right that if they can go after a President they will be able to come after you one day."

She worries even more "about what comes next," while offering both historical context for this current moment --- in which "every agency in America, from intelligence agencies to law enforcement agencies [have] come to the assessment that the far-right and domestic extremism is the greatest threat that America is facing today" --- and ways in which responsible Americans can respond in hopes of decreasing the threat.

"It is tricky, and there is no silver bullet. There's no one single thing that can be done to address this," Foggett asserts, before describing how individuals can be mindful of what they share online --- stuff that is meant to go viral with misleading messages --- and how "it's really about individuals in positions of power to be much more careful about the things that they say, and how they interact with the violence that this movement promises."

In short, solving this problem won't be easy, and things may get much worse before they get better. But there are ways to educate Americans about these now main-streamed extremists and ways to "isolate them by rejecting them, by ignoring them, and by denouncing them."

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more on the Democrats' historic climate bill and several alarming new reports underscoring how the measure has finally become law not a moment too soon...

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Guest: Climate and energy journalist David Roberts of Volts...
By Brad Friedman on 8/12/2022 5:21pm PT  

On some days, there is more huge news than others. This is about 10 of those days. With not one, but two absolute blockbuster stories jammed into today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show posted below this summary.]

On Friday, a federal judge unsealed the warrant obtained by the FBI and DOJ to search Trump's Mar-a-Lago compound for classified documents earlier this week. We have now learned that law enforcement officials collected some 11 sets of classified documents from the former President's Florida residence on Monday. Several of them were marked "TOP SECRET/SCI" (Sensitive Compartmented Information), the highest level of security classification. That's an even higher level of secrecy than merely "Top Secret". In all, agents collected four sets of "top secret" docs, three sets of "secret" docs and three marked "confidential", the lowest classification. (The latter, akin to the classification level of a handful of emails sent to Hillary Clinton's private email server when she served as Sec. of State.)

It is currently unknown if any of the sensitive and highly classified documents regarded nuclear secrets or not, as Washington Post reported exclusively on Thursday night.

But the arguably larger blockbuster part of this news is the specific crimes detailed in the warrant, for which DOJ officials sought it in the first place and for which they were required to show "probable cause" to the federal judge. Specially, the warrant reveals that Trump was being investigated for at least three different violations of the United States criminal code. As the Times' Charlie Savage summarizes: "Section 793, better known as the Espionage Act, which covers the unlawful retention of defense-related information that could harm the United States or aid a foreign adversary; Section 1519, which covers destroying or concealing documents to obstruct government investigations or administrative proceedings; and Section 2071, which covers the unlawful removal of government records."

"Notably," Savage adds, "none of those laws turn on whether information was deemed to be unclassified." That is important, of course, because the Trumpers have been claiming over the last day or so that the disgraced former President declassified all the materials before he stole them from the White House. In fact, whether he did or didn't (and that is likely to be of MUCH dispute), it may not matter when prosecuting the Espionage Act, as well as Obstruction, and the Unlawful Removal of Government Documents.

For the record, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were put to death in 1953 for violations of the Espionage Act.

While all of that is blockbuster enough for one show, receiving much less coverage today is a another of arguably even greater consequence: Democrats (and ONLY Democrats) in the U.S. House on Friday passed the Inflation Reduction Act, including a landmark $370 billion investment to battle climate change. It is the largest such single investment in history by any nation. Moreover the Act includes a ton of other longtime progressive priorities, such as the ability to negotiate Medicare drug prices with Big Pharma, price caps on prescriptions for the elderly, the expansion of Obamacare premium subsidies, new taxes on hugely profitable corporations currently paying zero in taxes and much more. It even puts hundreds of billions toward deficit reduction.

The historic measure, the central pillar of Joe Biden and the Democrats' economic agenda, was passed last weekend in the Senate, also with zero Republican votes, and now heads to the President for his signature.

We are joined today by the great DAVID ROBERTS, who has spent too many years writing about the confluence of politics, climate and energy for many different publications. He now publishes the Volts newsletter and podcast after having joined us at various times over the past 15 years or so to discuss climate matters and what, until now, had been a bevy of failed federal climate and energy policies. Today, however, for the first time, we've got something very real to celebrate which, he suggests, is likely to be a game changer in the fight to mitigate climate change.

"The shortest way to put it," he tells me, in response to my request for his top-line reaction to this bill, "If you recall Obama's stimulus bill, it contained about $90 billion for clean energy. That bill is responsible for kicking off an absolute firestorm of growth in both those markets [solar and wind], basically helping to bring their costs down below fossil fuels and revolutionizing the US energy landscape. That was $90 billion mostly on wind and solar. Now we're talking about $370 BILLION on wind, solar, hydrogen, batteries, go on down the list. So just the math of it, this is going to spur another revolution in US energy."

We discuss the various mechanisms by which this sprawling new law will reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 which he sees as likely a minimum of cuts in the deadly pollution driving our worsening climate crisis. All of which, he describes as "miraculous," given the surprising way it all came about just days ago.

"As you know, about a week ago we were staring in the face of a big goose egg from Congress, a big nothing," Roberts recalls. But that changed when Majority Leader Chuck Schumer struck a deal after secret negotiations with, of all people, Sen. Joe Manchin from the coal state of West Virginia. "So this really is the difference between almost total failure on climate and something very close to the level of success that I would have hoped for and dreamed for."

Roberts walks through several of the key points in the bill that he believes will make the greatest difference in our efforts to cut emissions at the federal as well as state and local level.

"One of the most important aspects of this bill is the transformative effects it's going to have on our political economy. It's going to change politics," he argues. "I like to draw the analogy with the defense industry in the US. They are horrific and evil, but they are very savvy in one way, which is that they spread their investments across all 50 states. So then you have 50 states defending defense spending --- which is obnoxious, but it's a good strategy." It's one that he believes will now be echoed in the renewable energy industry, making it much harder to kill in the future, even in --- and, perhaps especially in --- "red" states.

Roberts also concurs with the explanation climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann offered on this show earlier this week, when explained how the bill's incentives work, largely by turning "carrots" (financial incentives) to encourage renewable energy production into "sticks" that will ultimately take down the deadly fossil fuel industry now that they will face real, cleaner and cheaper competition.

"It's a giant bag of carrots," Roberts quips. "The idea, the theory of change, is that these carrots will accelerate the development of renewable energy even further, even faster, and it's going to undercut the economics of fossil fuels even further, even faster. And so fossil fuels are just going to lose on the market." He goes on to add this key point: "One of the things the models find is this bill is going to cause a net reduction in US demand for oil and gasoline for the first time ever. Ever!"

Of course, there are some progressives who have been critical of the bill's giveaways to the fossil fuel industry, included in the 755-page measure in order to win the needed 50th vote in the Senate of Joe Manchin. Those measures "suck," Roberts concurs, even as many on the left have been (purposely?) misinformed about some of those provisions.

"In the grand scheme of things, in the big picture, they are relatively marginal compared to the massive, massive boost that this is going to give clean energy, and the massive amount of emissions it's going to reduce. There is no credible argument otherwise. This is absolutely a net win."

So, yeah. An absolutely historic day --- on at least two remarkable stories...

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Guest: Penn State climate scientist, author, Dr. Michael E. Mann on long-overdue passage of $370 billion to combat global warming...
By Brad Friedman on 8/8/2022 5:55pm PT  

We've been joined countless times over the years on The BradCast by renowned Penn State climate scientist DR. MICHAEL E. MANN. Given the circumstances, he is always remarkably optimistic. Today, there was really something for him to be optimistic about. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

The U.S. Senate held its first hearings on climate change 36 years ago --- led by a Republican Senator from Rhode Island at the time --- and attended by a then new Senator from Tennessee by the name of Al Gore. They were warned, as Washington Post's front page reported at the time, that pollution from the burning of fossil fuels would result in a "greenhouse effect" that would cause the globe to warm "to a level which has not existed on Earth in the past 100,000 years."

Two years later, in 1988, they were warned again by NASA scientist, Dr. James Hansen, that evidence was found that the warming had already begun. "The global warming is now large enough that we can ascribe, with a high degree of confidence, a cause and effect relationship to the greenhouse effect."

"There is no longer any significant difference of opinion within the scientific community about the fact that the greenhouse effect is real and already occurring," Gore made clear at the time, following a conference held in 1985 in Austria which concluded that "as a result of the increasing greenhouse gases it is now believed that in the first half of the next century (21st century) a rise of global mean temperature could occur which is greater than in any man’s history."

Long story short, pretty much everything the scientists warned about has come to pass, much of it even sooner than predicted. And yet, over the ensuing decades the fossil fuel industry has fully captured the Republican Party to the extent that not a single one of them voted over the weekend for the most substantive climate bill ever adopted by the U.S. Senate. The only such bill ever adopted by the Senate, in fact. It only took 36 years, and a tie-breaking vote from the Democratic Vice President, but they did it.

On Sunday, after 16-hours of overnight debate and attempted amendments, the Senate passed the dubiously-named Inflation Reduction Act, so named largely to win the vote of coal state Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. The spending bill will do a lot, including allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices; put a $,2000 annual cap on prescription drug costs for seniors on Medicare; put a $35/month cap on insulin costs for those on government insurance who have diabetes (Republicans forced Dems to kill that provision for those with private insurance); add a new 15% minimum tax on corporations whose annual profits are more than one billion dollars; tax major corporations for buying back their own stock instead of investing in their companies; and it will also pay down the deficit by hundreds of millions of dollars over the next ten years.

But, most importantly, the Act will invest at least $370 billion to combat climate change with incentives for individuals, states and business alike. It will, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Manchin --- and several independent analyses --- cut the greenhouse gas emissions we were warned about decades ago, by about 40% by 2030.

"It is a good day, let's not make any bones about that," says Mann today on the show. "This is, by far, the most aggressive climate legislation --- in fact, the only meaningful climate legislation that has ever passed the U.S. Senate."

"Let's be clear: this isn't the solution. It's not like we've solved the climate crisis. There's a whole lot more work that's left to be done," the author of more than160 peer-reviewed and edited scientific publications and author of more than half a dozen books on the climate crisis tells us. "We need at least 50% reductions by [2030] if we are to stay on course to keeping warming below a really catastrophic 3 degrees Fahrenheit. So there's a lot more work to be done, and there are some things in the bill that some of us wish weren't there. There are some incentives for fossil fuel interests when it comes to drilling leases and pipeline construction, a few bones that were thrown in to get the support of a coal-state Democratic Senator in Joe Manchin." Nonetheless, the bill --- which still must pass the Democrat-controlled House on Friday --- "represents significant progress."

"If you want more progress, if you want more aggressive legislation --- and I certainly do and I think we should expect it --- then we need a larger majority in the U.S. Senate that can pass more aggressive climate legislation," Mann explains. In fact, not one single Republican voted for the measure. It was passed with the barest of majorities. All 50 Senators who caucus with the Democrats (and who, shockingly, stayed unified), plus the vote of the Vice President Kamala Harris.

Mann discusses both the upsides and downside of the bill, including the measures that could expand the use of fossil fuels in order to win the vote of Manchin. But, he asserts, the "carrots" to get off of fossil fuels, as included in the bill, are likely to become "sticks". "If the carrot works, it becomes a stick. Which is to say, if we incentivize renewable energy enough, then fossil fuel energy is no longer competitive."

Of course, he's got much more insight on the measure and what needs to be done moving forward. But it's a start that is "real" and "tangible." he argues. And it only took 36 years to get here --- not a moment too soon.

We open up the phones to some thoughts from callers on all of this today and, of course, our own Desi Doyen has a few as well. A "good day" indeed. We'll take it.

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Can Dems finally pass the critical Schumer/Manchin compromise bill to save the climate (and maybe themselves)?; Also: Biden's 'rebound'; KY's death toll; Tuesday's primaries; And callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 8/1/2022 6:16pm PT  

In our opinion, on today's BradCast, the scaled back, surprise "Build Back Better" spending bill compromise (now renamed the "Inflation Reduction Act" to help win over West Virginia's rightwing Democratic Senator) comes not a moment too soon. And, even "scaled back", it's still chocked full of so much stuff that if each of its provisions were passed in separate bills over the past 18 months, we'd likely be discussing Joe Biden as having one of the most successful first two years of any President in history. That said, the bill has not yet been passed, and it could still be a very bumpy ride in the coming days to see it through to the President's signature. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Before we get to that today --- and some callers on same --- a few other headlines covered on today's show...

  • Minutes before airtime, news broke that the U.S. killed Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan over the weekend in a successful drone strike, in which no civilians are said to have been killed. President Biden was to give remarks about what happened on Monday evening.
  • Speaking of Biden, he tested positive for COVID again over the weekend, in what White House officials are describing as a "rare rebound" case after finishing his 5-day course of the anti-viral drug called Paxlovid. Well, it can't be ALL that rare, because last week, when the White House announced Biden had tested negative and was cleared to leave isolation, we warned about the possibility of such a rebound, as many Paxlovid users have experienced same. The Pfizer drug has very good results at preventing serious cases and hospitalization, but many patients have experienced a second --- non-fatal --- COVID infection shortly after using it. That is, apparently, the case with Biden. His White House doctor says he has few if any symptoms and will likely be fine, despite needing to isolate again.
  • Deadly flash flooding continues in parts of Kentucky today, and warnings for more of the same have been issued for the next several days from Tennessee to Kentucky to West Virginia to Virginia and North Carolina. 37 have so far been confirmed to have died from the horrific flooding in Eastern Kentucky. Governor Andy Beshear believes that toll will continue to rise, as hundreds are still unaccounted for in a number of Appalachian mountain towns after recent, and ongoing, deluges. That, as our climate emergency continues with record heat predicted again this week from the Dakotas to the East Coast.
  • On Tuesday, voters will head to the polls in six states: Ohio, Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington state for primary elections. And there are a lot of 2020 election deniers (and worse) on the GOP ballots. We quickly preview just a few of those insane races today and will have noteworthy reported results, of course, on Wednesday's program.

Then, it's on to the so-called Inflation Reduction Act --- a scaled down version of the Build Back Better Act that Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema killed last year. If successfully adopted this time, it would increase federal revenue by some $750 billion over the next ten years, allowing for some $450 billion in spending on a bunch of several long-overdue programs. Most of them have been progressive priorities for years.

Only Democrats in the U.S. Senate will be needed to pass it under Senate reconciliation rules, but all 50 will have to be there (not out with COVID) and vote yes. Sinema has yet to comment on the measure, even as Manchin has been taking to media over the weekend to try and sell her on it.

If passed, the 725-page measure [PDF] will: Allow Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices; Cap out-of-pocket spending on prescription drugs for seniors at $2,000 per year; Expand federal subsidies for premiums for individuals who purchase health insurance on the federal Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) exchanges; Set a minimum 15% tax for corporations who make more than $1 billion in profits per year; Increase policing of tax cheats; and, perhaps most critically, invest some $369 billion in climate and energy projects to cut deadly greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 through investments that hasten the nation's move from dirty fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy.

What the bill won't do is raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 a year, as Biden has long promised. That, despite blatant lies from Republicans such as Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) who, when announcing he tested positive for COVID today, lied about the bill, declaring on Twitter that he will "continue to fight Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin's massive tax increase on working families." That is a lie. There is no "massive tax increase on working families" in the bill. Republicans hope you are dumb enough to be duped to the contrary.

In order to win over Manchin, whose family and campaign have long been propped up by fossil fuel interests, the bill does mandate oil and gas lease sales on federal lands be auctioned off in exchange for the approval of on- and off-shore wind and solar projects. Even there, however, oil and gas companies will be required to pay higher royalties on whatever they extract, and will be fined for failing to prevent methane leaks that exacerbate global warming. So, yeah. Art of the compromise. But, according to most climate experts we've read, heard from or spoken with, it's a compromise well worth taking..and comes not a moment too soon, as our climate emergency worsens by the day.

We've got much more on all of the above on today's show, and we open up the phone lines to callers to get some of their thoughts on the "Inflation Reduction Act" as the world melts down, and the 2022 primary general election is now less than 100 days away...

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Even more amazing: Schumer outfoxed McConnell to do it! Also: Deadly flash flooding in KY; More signs of UNconventional November elections...
By Brad Friedman on 7/28/2022 5:50pm PT  

When Democrats outfox Republicans you know the world has gone bonkers. But, welcome to another BradCast from Bonkers World! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

With weeks of unprecedented global heat records around the world and here in the U.S., and more deadly flash flooding --- today it was Kentucky's turn, sadly --- a major deal to finally take on climate change among Democrats comes not a moment too soon.

Surprising apparently everyone in D.C., corrupt coal-state Senator Joe Manchin and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced a deal on Wednesday night to raise taxes on huge corporations and allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices in order to help pay for pharmaceutical subsidies for the elderly, expansion of subsidies for individuals who purchased health care on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) exchanges and...wait for it...to make the federal government's largest-ever investment to fight climate change and decrease carbon emissions that cause it by 40% by 2030.

It's not saying much, of course, to say "largest-ever investment" to fight climate change, given how little the U.S. government has ever spent on it, thanks to fossil fuel-funded Congressional denial and obstruction. And whether this measure can actually curb that much of the deadly emissions causing our climate emergency remains to be seen. But the agreement struck, in apparent complete secret by Manchin and Schumer for what is now called the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (nee: Build Back Better Act), is set to raise $739 billion in revenues and spend some $433 billion on long-overdue investments (including at least $369 billion for climate) over the next decade. It will also decrease the deficit by hundreds of billions and will keep Joe Biden's long promise to not raise taxes on individuals or companies making less than $400,000 a year. (Shumer/Manchin's one-page summary is here. Full 725-page bill is here. Both PDFs.)

Yes, the new proposal is smaller than Biden and the Democrats had originally hoped, and leaves out some critical stuff for another day. It also includes some pretty outrageous fossil fuel-friendly provisions to win over Manchin. But, all told, this bill is nothing to sneeze at.

The question, of course, is whether all Dems in the Senate (including Manchin, who has a habit of changing his mind, if you haven't heard) and enough Dems in the House can agree to pass the bill. No Republican votes will be needed to pass the spending measure under the Senate's special reconciliation rule.

Schumer says the bill will be put up for a vote next week. That, after he outfoxed Mitch McConnell to broker the deal in the first place. McConnell is so hopping mad about it all that he's now, foolishly, actually taking it out on combat veterans who were exposed to toxic burn pits. We explain how all of this happened on today's show, along with details on what is actually in the bill --- both good and bad --- and what is not.

If it's passed successfully --- still a big "if" --- it could prove to be a breakthrough for Dems in advance of the November elections which, as we've discussed, may not play out with a Dem shellacking as pundits citing "Conventional Wisdom" have long told you. We've been arguing in recent weeks and months that these are decidedly UNconventional times and --- along with the potential...hopeful...maybe passage of this major new bill and its revival of a Joe Biden/Democratic Party agenda --- there are additional reasons this week to remain skeptical of the "Conventional Wisdom" from TV pundits and op-ed geniuses about this year's midterm elections.

Desi Doyen is along for the ride as usual today, with keen insight and smart explanation of the climate portions of the new Dem deal and our latest Green News Report...

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Anti-choicers embracing 21st century 'Fugitive Slave Act' mentality
UPDATE 7/26/22: Oklahoma threatens librarians with job loss/fines/jail if they say 'abortion'...
By Ernest A. Canning on 7/25/2022 10:05am PT  

"Abortion is an essential component of women's health care" -- American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology

"When women are compelled to carry and bear children, they are subjected to 'involuntary servitude' in violation of the [13th] amendment" -- Andrew Koppelman, Northwestern Univ. Law Review (2010)

The moment the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its opinion in Dobbs --- the case in which five of the Court's six right-wing Radicals in Robes voted to completely overturn Roe v. Wade (1973) --- it resurrected a cruel and grotesque division between States that had not existed since the end of the American Civil War.

In 1860, prior to passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, the very existence of a "United States" was under a grave threat due to an unsustainable, race-based divide between Slave States and Free States.

Today, courtesy of Dobbs, our nation finds itself mired in an unsustainable, gender-based divide between Free States, where a woman's reproductive liberties are preserved, and Slave States, where reproductive liberties no longer exist. (Andrew Koppelman's 2010 paper argued that "forced pregnancy" doesn't just deprive women of their "individual liberty". It also denies Equal Protection under law guaranteed by the 14th Amendment because that "deprivation is selectively imposed on women.")

The immediate impact of Dobbs was felt in Ohio, where the only option available to the parents of a 10-year old rape victim was to flee to neighboring Indiana so that their child would not be forced to carry the rapist's baby to term. But even the liberty that 10-year old's parents took advantage of is now threatened by a gender-based, Fugitive Slave Act mentality...

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




Guest: The Nation's John Nichols on that and midterm primary lessons; Also: Noteworthy results from primaries in IA, MS, MT, NJ, NM, SD, CA...
By Brad Friedman on 6/8/2022 6:25pm PT  

We've got yet another jam-packed BradCast for ya today, with results of note --- as we have them so far --- from the 7 states which held primaries on Tuesday. Then, we're joined by our guest with some helpful insight on what Democrats and progressives should learn from this year's elections to date and some of his critical concerns about the upcoming hearings by the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating January 6, 2021 insurrection. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First, we fly through an extremely curated selection of results from several key races on Tuesday. Among them...

  • IOWA: Retired Navy Admiral Mike Franken upset former U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer in the state's Democratic U.S. Senate primary. He will face off against 88-year old, six-term U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley. Also noteworthy in the Hawkeye State: progressive Democratic criminal justice reformer Kimberly Graham won the Democratic primary for prosecutor in Polk County (Des Moines), where she is likely to win this November.
  • MISSISSIPPI: Two-term Republican Rep. Michael Guest was forced into a runoff by GOP voters as punishment for having voted in favor of a bipartisan, outside Commission to investigative the January 6th insurrection.
  • MONTANA: Donald Trump's disgraced, scandal-plagued, forced-to-resign Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is locked in a tight race to win his old job back as a U.S. Congressman. The final results of the close race with state Sen. Al Olszewski, which Zinke leads by about 1,000 votes as of airtime, will be held up by a day or two due to a ballot printing error that will require, under state law, that all ballots now be hand-counted.
  • NEW JERSEY: While there may have been races of note there, we didn't have time for ANY of them today! Sorry about that, NJ! (I know. Always the bridesmaid...)
  • NEW MEXICO: Seasoned TV weather guy Mark Ronchetti won the GOP primary for Governor after promising to increase the state's already record oil production, deriding new standards in state schools for increased instruction on race (in a state that is half Hispanic and has 23 federally recognized Native American tribes and nations), and by slamming his November opponent, Democratic Gov. Michelle Luhan Grisham, for closing in-person schooling during the worst pandemic in 100 years. Also: Progressive Democrat Gabriel Vasquez was victorious in the 2nd Congressional District race to take on GOP Rep. Yvette Herrell in what is seen by Dems as a possible House pickup this November.
  • SOUTH DAKOTA: The state's only House Member, Republican Dusty Johnson, easily won his primary despite voting to certify the 2020 election results and in favor of the January 6 Commission. Shamefully, there is no Democrat running for the state's single At Large Congressional seat. Of greater note, a ballot proposition that would have raised the threshold for passage of certain future ballot propositions to 60% was soundly rejected by voters. That proposition was meant to make it harder to pass a ballot proposition this November that would expand Medicaid under ObamaCare to state residents. Similar expansions measures have been adopted by voter initiatives in about 7 other states. GOP lawmakers in SD must really hate their own constituents.
  • CALIFORNIA: All statewide office holders are Dems, so there isn't much drama there. But two local contests have received quite a bit of national notice. The Los Angeles Mayoral race will go to a runoff, after Trumpy Republican real estate billionaire turned "Democrat" Rick Caruso failed to clear the 50% bar, despite dropping some $40 million of his own money into the race. He'll face progressive Rep. Karen Bass, previously seen as the favorite to win until Caruso and his money showed up, in the November runoff. But, interestingly, receiving as much or more notice from national corporate news outlets than almost any other race on Tuesday, voters recalled progressive criminal justice reformer, Chesa Boudin, after two and half years as San Francisco's District Attorney. Predictably, national media is (mis)reporting this as a story of "failed progressive policies" that resulted in rampant crime in the city, despite the fact that overall crime decreased during Boudin's tenure.

We're then joined by longtime progressive champion, journalist, and author JOHN NICHOLS of The Nation for analysis of Tuesday's contests --- and those from week's past --- along with his concerns and warnings about the upcoming January 6 hearings in the House.

As to the primaries so far this season, Nichols observes, among other things that while "Republican turnout is very spiked" and Dems "not so spiked", that is "not necessarily a complete disaster" for Democrats. He also notes that "progressives are winning a lot of Democratic primaries" and "in some unexpected and really interesting places".

"Despite what a lot of the pundits will tell you," he argues, means that "the grassroots Democratic voters seem to be sending a very clear signal that they want to go up against these Trump Republicans in this very tough year with clearly defined progressive candidates."

While he offers thoughts on the recall defeat of progressive District Attorney Boudin in San Francisco, Nichols also observes that criminal justice reformers are actually still winning elections in many other places around California and elsewhere. (See, for example, a progressive criminal justice reformer victories in neighboring counties to San Francisco and Kim Reynolds in Des Moines, IA, as mentioned above, as just two such examples.)

Then, it's on to the upcoming January 6 hearings, where Nichols has both advice and concerns, particularly about what the Committee will ultimately offer in their critical recommendations. His greatest concerns seem to center on what Democrats are willing to compromise on in order to find unanimity with the Committee's anti-Trump, but still hard-right Republican Vice Chair Liz Cheney.

Among Nichols' top hopes for the Committee: Recommendations that Congress adopt a resolution that bars insurrectionists like Donald Trump from office, as per Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment; and (in what will clearly be a much heavier lift for the Committee's Republicans like Cheney), a call to abolish the Electoral College.

But will the hearings ultimately make any difference to a divided nation, with so many already having hardened their positions on Trump and his attempt to steal the 2020 election? We've got a whole lot to discuss with Nichols today, so I hope you'll tune in!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Election Integrity activist Sherry Healy on Clackamas County, OR's primary election boondoggle; Also: Abbott slashed mental health care in TX before shooting; GOP blocks domestic terror bill in Senate; Trump loses another appeal in NY...
By Brad Friedman on 5/26/2022 7:10pm PT  

On today's BradCast: More shameful GOP responses to America's continuing mass shooting epidemic; one step closer to some accountability for our corrupt former President; the Republican Party's shameful response to a very close primary election in Pennsylvania; and an unmitigated election disaster for voters continues to hold up a critical U.S. House race two weeks after Oregon's midterm primaries. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

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

  • This week in Uvalde, Texas, 19 fourth graders and two teachers were murdered after the shooter at Robb Elementary School had no problem purchasing two semi-automatic rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammo just days after his 18th birthday this month. The state's Republican Gov. Greg Abbott --- who is up for reelection this November --- declared after the massacre that the problem was mental illness and Texas must "do a better job with mental health." But last month, Abbott slashed $221 million from the department overseeing mental health programs in the state which, according to a new study, ranked 50th last year for access to mental health care. That, after Abbott signed bill after bill making it easier for Texans to buy, carry and kill as many people as possible, with high-powered, military-style weapons. (Did I mention that Abbott is up for reelection this November?)
  • It's not only Texas Republicans working hard to make it as easy as possible to kill fellow Americans. Just days after back-to-back-to-back mass shootings in America, Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked a bill in the U.S. Senate meant to help to prevent domestic terrorism. The measure was already adopted by Democrats in the House. Not one single Republican Senator voted in favor. (Several of them will be on the ballot this November.)
  • In somewhat brighter news, a federal judge on Wednesday rejected a lawsuit by gun manufacturers, distributors and retailers which had attempted to block New York's new law allowing those in the firearms industry to be sued by the state, cities and individuals for endangering the public's safety and health. NY Attorney General Letitia James said the judge's ruling offers "a moment of light and hope" following the American carnage of the past two weeks. The trade group representing the domestic terrorism industry, The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), vowed to appeal.
  • In more good NY/Letitia James-related news, a four-judge state appeals court panel today upheld a lower court ruling that Donald Trump and his children Ivanka and Don Jr. must sit for a deposition in James' civil investigation examining the Trumps' "fraudulent" valuation of properties in bank, tax and insurance filings. The Trumps claimed their comments under oath could be used against them in a parallel criminal investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney into many of the same issues. The court agreed. But noted that that's why the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination exists. If the Trumps want, they may invoke it during their depositions, in the same "disgraceful" way, according to Trump, that "only mobsters" use it. Some difficult choices await in the very near future for our disgraced former President.
  • In Pennsylvania, nearly two weeks ago, Trump-endorsed celebrity TV doctor Mehmet Oz and former hedge-fund CEO Dave McCormick battled to a virtual tie for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination. The winner will run against Democratic nominee, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman. As of today, Oz leads McCormick by fewer than 1,000 votes out of more than 1.3 million cast in the Keystone State's GOP primary. This week, McCormick sued in federal court to assure that all legal ballots are counted, including mail-in ballots that arrived on time but have a missing or incorrect date on the secrecy envelope. Another court recently ruled such ballots are valid and must be tallied. The RNC and Pennsylvania Republican Party, however, are intervening against McCormick to prevent those lawful, valid ballots from being tallied in the U.S. Senate primary and are attacking their own candidate, McCormick, for daring to enfranchise all Republican voters. On Wednesday, the state announced there will be an automatic statewide recount in the race, with about one-tenth of one percentage point currently separating the two leading candidates in the unofficial results. The official winner should be named by June 9.
  • Another midterm primary election held on the same day in Oregon, on May 17, has far worse problems. The closely watched U.S. House race in the state's 5th Congressional District between grassroots-supported Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner and conservative Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader caused much excitement on Election Night, when McLeod-Skinner appeared on her way to unseating the incumbent Congressman. Then, with about 68% of the vote in, pretty much all of the counting stopped and hasn't moved much, if at all, since then.

    What happened? We're joined today by one of Oregon's longtime Election Integrity activists SHERRY HEALY --- co-founder of the California Election Protection Network, and, more recently, the Chair of the Oregon Democratic Party's Election Integrity caucus --- to explain the disaster in Clackamas County, OR which has held up the tally.

    As she details, a printing problem on the barcodes (used to identify party and precinct) on tens of thousands of the County's vote-by-mail ballots means they cannot be run through the computerized tabulation system. But, rather than count those ballots publicly by hand, the County's longtime beleaguered County Clerk, Sherry Hall (pictured above), decided that those tens of thousands of otherwise valid ballots should be "remade" by hand --- duplicated by election officials --- on separate ballot sheets so they can then be running through the optical scanners for tabulation.

    "This county clerk has a long history of bungled elections," Healy explains. "But this is the Hiroshima of botched elections." Healy details how Hall failed to adequately test the ballots for this problem after receiving them from the printer before sending them out to voters. Moreover, the decision to remake tens of thousands of ballots, rather than simply count them by hand, "imperils" the entire election, she charges.

    Healy calls Hall's decision "absurd" and "insane," explaining that a simple hand-count "would take less time and be more efficient and accurate" than recreating "in excess of 66,000" ballots.

    Hall, a Trump supporter elected to the job back in the Tea Party days about a decade ago, has a long history of problems in her office. Way back in 2012 we reported on an election official in Clackamas who was indicted on six felonies and two misdemeanors after she was found to have secretly filled in unvoted races for Republican candidates on incoming mail-in ballots.

    When Hall announced that the printing error on the ballots made them unscannable, she claimed that it was new deadlines adopted by the state legislature for the receipt of incoming mail ballots that would hold up her county's tally, as opposed to her own failure to test ballots before sending them out. More recently, she denied that she gave permission for a Schrader campaign observer to enter the counting room an hour early, before observers from the McLeod-Skinner campaign had arrived. Then security camera footage was obtained through a public records request revealing she had lied about that.

    It's unknown when the tabulation in Clackamas will finally be complete. The 5th Congressional District primaries on both the Democratic and Republican side remain uncalled, with just over 70% tallied in each almost two weeks after Election Day. (More have come in since air time today.) For now, McLeod-Skinner remains almost 15 points ahead of Schrader. But that could change. In the meantime, there are a whole lot of lessons to be learned from this entire mess, as we discuss with Healy today. (And, yes, Hall is also up for reelection this November.)

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with some disturbing news about this year's hurricane season (it officially begins next week, buckle up). But she's also got some encouraging news about accountability for an upcoming climate fraud trial for ExxonMobil, and the Biden Administration's EPA putting what may be the final nail into the coffin on a longtime controversial proposed mining project in Alaska...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Attorney Jessica Mason Pieklo of Rewired News Group on leaked Court opinion to end reproductive freedom by overturning 'Roe v. Wade'...
By Brad Friedman on 5/3/2022 6:11pm PT  

You've heard the stunning news from the GOP's packed and stolen Supreme Court by now. But whatever you have heard, it's likely even worse than that, as explained on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

For years in the U.S., polling has found that huge majorities of Americans oppose overturning Roe v. Wade, 1973's landmark, 7 to 2 SCOTUS opinion (with five Republicans voting in its majority), establishing the now, long-settled Constitutional right to abortion services in all 50 states. Polling released today from just last week confirms Roe's popularity, with approximately 2 to 1 majority support across the country.

On Monday night, however, Politico published an unprecedented leak of a 98-page draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito, on behalf of a reported 5 to 4 Court majority, that would completely overturn Roe and a number of other rulings that had further affirmed it more recent years.

Unless one of the Justices decides to change their vote between now and the final release of the opinion over the next two months, it will then be left to states to decide whether they wish to allow women the right to have the procedure. In nearly two dozen states, it will immediately become unlawful if the draft majority opinion is published. In Texas, for example, "The second Roe is struck down, it will be a first degree felony --- punishable by life in prison --- for a Texas doctor to perform an abortion for a woman who was raped and impregnated by a family member."

As terrible as that is, it could get even worse. Earlier rulings that helped establish the right to reproductive freedom for women, and several that came after Roe, would then be teed up to be overturned as well by the radical Rightwing activists now packed onto our SCOTUS. Rights to purchase contraception and for same-sex marriage could also be overturned, just to name two such "unenumerated rights" that, like abortion, have been established by the Court even though they are not specifically named in the Constitution.

And for those who have been conned by the same liars who said claimed Roe would never be overturned, that the GOP didn't really want that to happen, who are now being told that overturning Roe would simply leave it to states to decide whether or not women are allowed to enjoy personal liberty, there is already a national movement afoot to ban abortion at the federal level. If Roe is struck down, as now appears almost certain, all it will require is a GOP majority in each chamber of Congress and a Republican in the White House to turn the clock back 50 years in all 50 states.

Lots to discuss today, obviously, including the dishonest remarks Samuel Alito offered during his 2006 Senate confirmation hearings before he was granted his lifetime appointment, when he lied in his answer as to whether he believed Roe to be settled law. Also, regrets today --- apparently, they have a few --- from theoretically pro-choice Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Both previously said they were convinced by Trump's anti-choice nominees to the High Court --- Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett --- that Roe would remain in place. So, they each supported Trump's nominations, even after Mitch McConnell blew up the filibuster rule for lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court in order to pack them onto it. In Barrett's case, she was seated just eight days before the 2020 Presidential election, after Republicans refused to even allow a vote on Barack Obama's nominee for a year following the death of Antonin Scalia in 2016.

We're joined today by attorney and former law school teacher turned journalist and podcaster, JESSICA MASON PIEKLO, Executive Editor of Rewire News Group. She last joined us on the program back when Kavanaugh was similarly lying his way through his own confirmation hearings.

She predicted in June of 2021 --- when the Court first took up Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, the case now being decided by the Court, the Mississippi case seeking to ban abortions after 15 weeks, in violation of Roe --- that SCOTUS was preparing to overturn Roe entirely. "This is the Supreme Court Case That Will End 'Roe v. Wade,'" she warned at the time. And that was well before Barrett was even nominated.

"There was no reason for the Supreme Court to take up the Dobbs case unless it had plans to overturn Roe v. Wade. That's just a fundamental fact," she explains today. "At the time, there was not a single federal court in the country that thought that law was Constitutional. Every court that looked at this issue, whether it was Mississippi's law or copycat laws in other states across the country, had said the Constitution, Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, very clearly do not allow states the power to ban abortion before fetal viability. Then Amy Coney Barrett happened, and here we are."

When Dobbs was taken up at SCOTUS last year, she explains, "the question was whether or not the Court was going to uphold the Mississippi law within the confines of Roe v. Wade. So, as of June last year, even the state of Mississippi hadn't asked the Court to formally overturn Roe v. Wade." But after Barrett was seated, just before the 2020 election, MS began asking the Court to fully overturn it. "It's a full bait-and-switch," charges Pieklo today.

Worse, she explains, Alito's leaked draft opinion "doesn't just call for overturning 'Roe'. It really attacks privacy rights writ large, makes it clear that they're coming for rights like marriage equality...sodomy bans...birth control. All of those things are there. Fetal personhood is there. There's just so much to be concerned about [with] the plans that are there."

Think none of that stuff could ever happen? Yeah, Collins and Murkowski probably agree with you.

What can be done? We discuss. But, as we've been explaining for some time, never mind Conventional Wisdom that says Democrats will take a shellacking this November. These are decidedly unconventional times. Stop whining. Get to work...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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