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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, January 27, 2022
Breyer Stepping Down from SCOTUS; Progressives Stepping Up to Run for Local Office: 'BradCast' 1/26/22
Guest: Run for Something's Amanda Litman; Also: Eastman loses suit to hide 1/6 emails...
Lots of Marginally Good News (But We Take What We Get): 'BradCast' 1/25/22
Drop Box voting restored in WI (for now); Great redistricting news in AL (unless appealed); 'Calming down' in Ukraine; Bad news for Alex Jones and John Eastman; More!...
'Green News Report' 1/25/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
OUR 1,200th EPISODE! Chemical pollution and the global ecosystem; Russia/Ukraine tensions to roil energy prices; PLUS: Intel's new $20B OH manufacturing hub...
Previous GNRs: 1/20/22 - 1/13/22 - Archives...
'So False it's Unbelievable': Plaintiff in Lawsuit Cited by Trump 'Order' to Seize Vote Systems: 'BradCast' 1/24/22
Guest: Marilyn Marks of CGG; Also: Ukraine tensions; SCOTUS takes up affirmative action...
Sunday 'Team Player' Toons
Join the party! With PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons!...
Draft Trump Order to Seize 2020 Vote Systems Misrepped Longstanding GA Lawsuit: 'BradCast' 1/21/22
Also: Harold Meyerson on building back BBB; Shell's billion dollar 'carbon capture' scam...
Trump Crime Family's Very Bad Week Gets Much MUCH Worse: 'BradCast' 1/20/22
Also: In vote of historic shame, Manchin and Sinema join Senate Republicans to undermine voting rights and American democracy...
'Green News Report' 1/20/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Breaking up Build Back Better?; Tonga devastated by volcano, tsunami; Extreme heat records in Southern Hemisphere; PLUS: Exxon pretends to care about the climate...
Previous GNRs: 1/13/22 - 1/11/22 - Archives...
On the Media, One Year In
and One Year Out: 'BradCast' 1/19/22
Guest: Eric Boehlert of Press Run; Also: SCOTUS okays release of Trump Jan. 6 records; NY A.G. details 'fraud' by Trump family; Fox Nation gets an hilarious 'hard no'...
GOP Gerrymanders 'Not So Bad' for Dems This Year? Think Again, Argues Expert: 'BradCast' 1/18/20
Guest: Brennan Center's Michael Li: Also: No fraud found in AZ; TX rejecting VBM requests...
Sunday 'National Treasure' Toons
Be sure to steal a moment for PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons...
DOJ 'Turning the Screws' on Path to Trump with Oath Keepers Sedition Charges: 'BradCast' 1/14/22
Guest: Marcy Wheeler; Also: WI judge bans drop boxes; OH Supremes nix GOP maps...
'Green News Report' 1/13/22
Offshore wind on NY, NJ horizons; 2021 oceans warmest ever recorded; Extreme weather spikes food, commodity prices; PLUS: EPA cracks down on toxic coal ash ponds...
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...


Also: Oath Keepers founder charged with 'seditious conspiracy' for Capitol attack; Bernstein says Jan 6. 'cover-up in excess of Watergate'...
By Brad Friedman on 1/13/2022 6:59pm PT  

Our guest on yesterday's BradCast nailed it. The stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court did, in fact, strike down one of the Biden Administration's vaccine mandates today (the one that allows employees to not get vaccinated if they choose), while narrowly approving the vaccine mandate for all health care workers at facilities that receive federal funding. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

The Omicron surge continues to rack up both record infections and hospitalizations. Death counts are now on the rise as well. Though there are hopeful signs that some parts of the U.S. may be peaking or plateauing, and that, in a few weeks, the surge may plunge as quickly as it initially spiked over the past few weeks. The advice this week from the Los Angeles County Health Director to hang on for just a few more weeks and avoid any non-essential public gatherings, particularly indoors with the unvaccinated or those at high risk of severe illness during that period, is likely good advice for everyone in the nation at this time.

That is especially true now that the non-medical experts at the U.S. Supreme Court seem dead set on preventing actual experts charged with protecting workers from helping to protect millions of them.

As Slate's ace legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern predicted on yesterday's BradCast, the packed Republican Supreme Court did, in fact, put a stay on President Biden's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandate for workers at large companies with more than 100 employees to either get vaccinated or get tested weekly. The other case heard during emergency oral arguments last week, the Administration's Health and Human Services mandate for vaccination of all workers at health care facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid funding, was narrowly allowed to remain. Chief Justice John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh joined the Court's three liberals in a 5 to 4 opinion [PDF] on that one.

Today, we step through the absurdities of the Majority opinion from the Court's rightwingers on the stayed employer mandate [PDF], as well as the even more absurd --- but dangerously so --- Concurring opinion authored by Justice Gorsuch with Thomas and Alito, as well as the furious Dissent, jointly penned by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan.

"Underlying everything else in this dispute is a single, simple question," the Dissenters wrote, 'Who decides how much protection, and of what kind, American workers need from COVID–19? An agency with expertise in workplace health and safety, acting as Congress and the President authorized? Or a court, lacking any knowledge of how to safeguard workplaces, and insulated from responsibility for any damage it causes?"

The stinging Minority dissent derides the non-expert Court Majority for being the ones to decide that the non-experts in Congress, as opposed to the experts at the Executive Branch agency charged by Congress via specific statue to protect workers, must make specific medical decisions through legislation for those workers. It is, of course, madness. Especially, as the Dissenters note, the Court's "Members are elected by, and accountable to, no one," whereas those at OSHA are not only experts, but "responsible to the President, and the President is responsible to—and can be held to account by—the American public."

Tune in for all the details. But the good-ish news for the moment is that only three of the Court's rightwingers were willing to sign on to the idea that statutes granting Executive Agencies the power to regulate things should be ignored when there is a "major question" at stake, as we discussed in some detail with Stern on Wednesday. But that good-ish news may not stand for long, as the Court will hear a case next month with even broader implications, as to whether the EPA, despite its statutory charge by Congress, is allowed to regulate pollution that is causing our climate emergency and much more. As we detailed yesterday, we are, in fact, watching the far-right "deconstruction of the Administrative state" before our very eyes.

Then, in what would, during normal times, be our lead story today, we quickly cover the arrest of Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the far-right Oath Keepers militia outfit, who, along with ten others in his group, were charged today "seditious conspiracy" for their part in the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, as part of Donald Trump's plot to steal the 2020 election.

The federal charges are the most serious to date in relation to the January 6 attack and are precisely what our guest from several weeks ago, Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel, told guest host Nicole Sandler was likely to soon happen, as the Dept. of Justice and Attorney General Merrick Garland continued a painstaking bottom-up probe. And yes, we did interview the Oath Keepers' Rhodes on this program back in 2016. Here is a link to that lively, if occasionally testy, interview.

And, in one more related matter on an absurdly busy show (restructured about five times before air today as news kept breaking!), GOP House Leader Kevin McCarthy, who recently told a reporter he "wouldn't hide from anything" when he asked if he was willing to speak to the bipartisan House Select Committee investigating January 6th, refused to cooperate with a voluntary invitation on Wednesday to speak with the Committee. In response to the news, Carl Bernstein (of Watergate's Woodward and Bernstein) told CNN on Wednesday night that the Committee already "has the goods" on McCarthy and what he said to Trump on Jan. 6 "and McCarthy has lied about it since."

"So, we have a real conspiracy, a real cover-up, real stonewalling in excess of anything we saw in Watergate," said Bernstein...who should know.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, which is packed with even more news during the final few minutes of today's program...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Jan 6. Comm seeks McCarthy interview; Fulton County, GA D.A. closing in on Trump...
By Brad Friedman on 1/12/2022 6:39pm PT  

Well, we start today's BradCast with some encouraging news. At least until our guest arrives. [Audio link to full, must-listen show follows this summary.]

First up, the investigators are closing in. In Congress, the House Select Committee investigating Trump's January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol are now "requesting" an interview and documents from House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, centered on his communications with Donald Trump "before, during and after" the insurrection.

Meanwhile, down in Georgia, Fulton County (Atlanta) District Attorney Fanni Willis also appears to be closing in on Trump and his fellow conspirators regarding their attempt to steal the 2020 election in the Peach State. In an interview with AP published on Monday, Willis said her team is making "making solid progress, and she’s leaning toward asking for a special grand jury with subpoena power to aid the investigation." She also believes a decision will soon be made on whether to indict Trump and several others. (Meadows? Giuliani? Lindsey Graham?) “I believe in 2022 a decision will be made in that case,” she told AP. “I certainly think that in the first half of the year that decisions will be made.”

And on Tuesday, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow reported "that attorneys for former President Donald Trump have now met in person with the Fulton County District Attorney's office in Georgia." The meeting reportedly took place last month, around the same time that Trump issued an unhinged, seemingly out-of-the-blue statement that few knew what to make of: "All the Democrats want to do is put people in jail. They are vicious, violent, and Radical Left thugs. They are destroying people's lives, which is the only thing they are good at...their DA's, AG's, and Dem Law Enforcement are out of control." Suddenly, his remarks makes a lot more sense.

Welp...That's about it for today's encouraging news, before we are then joined by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist for Slate on what appears to be Steve Bannon's dream of the "deconstruction of the Administrative State" about to come true.

Last Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on challenges to two separate COVID-related Biden Administration mandates. One applies to businesses with more than 100 employees, requiring them all to either get vaccinated or take weekly tests for the virus. The other requires vaccination for all workers at health care facilities that accept money from either Medicaid or Medicare. Both rules were set to take effect as the Omicron surge has led to record pandemic hospitalization numbers. The first was issued by way of regulations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the second via the Health and Human Services Administration (HHS). Both are based on authorities granted to the Executive Branch agencies via statutes adopted by Congress. Though none of those statutes, passed years ago, include the word "COVID" in them. So now they are both being challenged by Republican state Attorneys General as unconstitutional over-reaches by the Administration.

Based on tea leaves read during Friday's oral arguments --- with two of the challenging attorneys infected with COVID and arguing remotely --- Stern believes it's possible the employer mandate could survive, but that the health care mandate is likely to be struck down.

But buckle up for today's conversation with Stern about all of this, because these cases are a much much larger than simply about the COVID mandates, even though they are likely to save hundreds of thousands of American lives unless struck down by the Court. These challenges squarely target the so-called "Administrative State" which, as you'll recall, Trump's disgraced Senior Political Adviser Bannon vowed in 2017 that they planned to "deconstruct". That may finally be about to happen, thanks to Trump's stolen and packed Supreme Court.

We dive too far into the legal and Constitutional and political weeds to adequately summarize here, but the argument comes down to who has the Constitutional right to "protect the general welfare" of the citizenry on matters of public health (and much more). Is it Congress, which has no expertise in these matters? Or the Executive Branch agencies created by Congress and filled with such experts? Ironically, the ultimate body who will make this decision is going to be the Judicial Branch, which, like the Legislative Branch also has no expertise in these issues.

All of the COVID mandate challenges are based on legal doctrines such as the "major question doctrine" and the "nondelegation doctrine" (both explained by Stern) which, unlike the General Welfare clause, do not actually appear anywhere in the Constitution at all.

"There is nothing (in the Constitution) that requires these principles, and certainly nothing that gives the federal judiciary the power to decide what the Executive Branch gets to do and not do under Congressional delegations," Stern explains. "All of this stuff has been made up. It was made up a long time ago, and used to block New Deal programs under FDR, then immediately abandoned and discarded for nearly a century. Only in the last few years has it been revived by so-called 'originalists' who are seeking to box in Democratic Presidents and prevent them from issuing any kind of policy."

"We are talking about a really recent revival," he continues. "Because as recently as the early 2000s, the Supreme Court unanimously disclaimed any real version of the non-delegation doctrine, and a majority opinion written by Antonin Scalia [of all people!] basically said 'We don't have any expertise, it's not our job to tell Congress what it can and cannot entrust the Executive to do'. We are only about two decades out from that, and the entire conservative legal movement has turned on a dime and decided that, in fact, the courts have this intense obligation to police the boundaries between these branches, even though there's nothing in the Constitution that permits it, much less requires it."

The Scalia majority opinion in question, which Stern "encourage[s] everyone to read" is 2001's Whitman vs. American Trucking. "It is a very clear explanation of why the federal courts have absolutely no business mucking around in this kind of cooperation and negotiation between Congress and the Executive Branch. Twenty-one years later, everyone has decided to ignore that opinion on the Right and pretend like it never happened."

So, what will it mean if the Court now decides that experts at Executive agencies mandated by Congress to exercise their expertise may not do so? The fallout could be enormous and terrifying and go well beyond COVID and these two cases. By way of one example, Stern notes, next month the Court is about to hear a case where "the Biden EPA wants to restrict carbon emissions at power plants. While federal law gives the EPA vast authority to regulate and restrict all kinds of toxic and harmful emissions from power plants, it doesn't explicitly say 'carbon'. It says the EPA needs to decide what counts, and we will defer to their expertise."

But, Stern notes later in our conversation, "this does not start or stop with carbon. This goes to every toxic chemical on the planet, which Congress simply does not have the time or expertise to list. So, anytime you're thinking about the amount of benzene, or methane, or whatever horrific chemical you want to talk about in the water supply, the air supply, that stuff is regulated by the EPA, not directly by Congress. And if this Supreme Court goes as far as I fear it will, we are going to have a lot more unnecessary deaths because of a horrific amount of pollution that the President is going to be told that he simply cannot curb."

And, yes, even that is only the tip of the melting iceberg. It also goes farther than the EPA, to dozens, if not hundreds of other federal agencies and regulations on labor rights and much more, as Stern details. "But that is what these Justices seem to want, and that is the road that we are already following down," he warns. "We live in a juristocracy, my friend, and we are only just beginning to see the downstream consequences of it."

As noted, buckle up for this one...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Biden addresses nation on Omicron emergency plans, begs vaccine disinfo peddlers to 'stop'; Also: Trump got secretly boosted; Coal miners union wants thin-skinned, corrupt Manchin to reconsider BBB...
By Brad Friedman on 12/21/2021 6:03pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: As the year grinds toward another bizarre, unbalanced close, America tries to pick up the pieces and keep moving forward. So do we. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

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

  • On the heels of Sen. Joe Manchin's stunning weekend announcement that he was breaking his promise to the President and his party to support the Build Back Better Act, which includes nearly $600 million to fight climate change and help coal miners in Manchin's home state, the nation's largest mining union is hoping that the West Virginia Senator will reconsider his decision. Among the funds in BBB is money earmarked for victims of black lung disease as well as tax incentives to help ex-miners from the dying industry and to protect its union workers. While Manchin makes millions from the coal industry via the coal brokerage firm he founded, which is now owned by his son, he doesn't appear to give a damn about the industry's actual miners.
  • A few additional thoughts today on why the corrupt Democratic Senator from West Virginia --- who is killing the most progressive climate and social spending agenda in the nation's history (after every single Republican in Congress has refused to support it in anyway) --- is still needed in the Democratic caucus. For a start, without him, there would have been no American Rescue Plan (which sent $1,400 checks to Americans earlier this year, expanded the Child Tax Credit program to send $300 per child each month to parents, and helped get hundreds of millions vaccinated), nor would President Biden have been able to seat a record number of federal judges in the first year of his Presidency. Without Manchin as a Democrat --- love him or hate him --- Mitch McConnell and the Republicans would be in the Senate majority right now and none of Biden's many critical accomplishments to date would have happened.
  • So, why did Manchin decide to break his promise to his party and the President on BBB? Steve Clemons reports that while negotiations between the two Joes had been moving forward, even if slowly, the thin-skinned Senator didn't like being singled out by name in a statement from the White House --- even though the statement was largely encouraging about the state of negotiations. Lame. But we think that even that explanation is likely little more than excuse for Manchin's betrayal. We explain why.
  • Next, the remarkably transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus is spreading at an absolutely unfathomable speed in the U.S. just before the Christmas holiday, according to the latest CDC numbers out this week. In little over a week, it appears to have gone from just 3% of cases to 73% of cases nationwide, all but edging out Delta entirely. There are one or two possibly encouraging pieces of news about the new variant, but it will still be a matter of weeks before we know if those potentially reassuring points will come to pass. In the meantime, a whole bunch of people are going to get sick and many are likely to die. Almost all of those who get severely ill and face both hospitalization and death will be those who refused to (or couldn't, for legitimate reasons) get vaccinated, including with a critical booster shot.
  • Among those who received a booster shot recently --- in secret --- is former President Donald Trump. That, after suggesting in September he was unlikely to get one. Turns out he's a liar. Who knew?
  • Amidst the disturbing news of Omicron's lightning surge, and the hospitals that are likely to become overwhelmed very shortly across the nation (many already are), President Biden addressed the nation from the White House on Tuesday afternoon. He shared the Administration's plans to try and minimize the coming damage. Biden announced that the federal government will spend more than a billion dollars on free home COVID test kits; instructed the Pentagon to be prepared to deploy more than 1,000 National Guard troops to help overcrowded hospitals handle the coming testing, infection, and hospitalization surge; is activating FEMA to deploy additional hospital beds where hospitals are overrun, and to have ambulances on standby to help transport patients from one overrun hospital to another where a bed may be available. He reiterated the need for everyone to get vaccinated and explained what families should and shouldn't do over the coming holidays. We share his address in full today, and offer a few thoughts in response.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us with our latest Green News Report on climate fallout from Manchin's BBB announcement; a deadly December super-typhoon that slammed the Philippines; and some good news on mileage standards from the EPA and for the U.S. offshore wind industry...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Manchin is trying to kill the most progressive Presidential agenda in decades; Omicron is trying to kill everyone; Both are killing Christmas; Plus: Trump's new lawsuit means he's in trouble; And callers ring in!...
By Brad Friedman on 12/20/2021 5:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Merry Christmas. Christmas is cancelled. Thanks Joe Manchin and Omicron.

Manchin dropped a bombshell over the weekend, announcing on Fox "News" that he could not support the Build Back Better (BBB) act, the better part of the historically progressive agenda of President Biden and of largely every other Democrat in the House and Senate. That, after the measure was scaled from a $6.5 trillion package to just $1.75 trillion in order to appease the West Virginia Democrat. If Manchin remains a "NO", the bill --- and, perhaps the Biden Presidency along with it --- is largely dead. The White House offered an unusually lenthy and, frankly, blistering statement in response to Manchin, calling him out for his lack of "good faith" and broken promises made to the President personally. We share that blistering response in full today.

It should be noted that all of the limp reasons Manchin offered for breaking his promise to support BBB are all BS. The bill is fully paid for (unlike the bipartisan infrastructure bill that Manchin whole-heartedly supported and voted for) and it will actual lower the national deficit eventually, not increase it; The bill will not worsen inflation either. It will in fact, ease it. Moreover, since Manchin's announcement, the biggest Wall Street economists have actually downgraded their outlook for 2022 based on Manchin's sleazy move; And no, the monthly child tax credit expansion that lifted half of the nation's children out of poverty during its first year, after originally being included in Biden's American Rescue Plan earlier this year, will not lead parents to spend it on drugs.

The bad news (for now) of Manchin's self-serving decision is on par with COVID's decision to not be done with us yet, as the Omicron variant, just before airtime, was declared by the CDC to now be the most dominant variant in the nation. They say it now accounts for about 73% of new cases. That was fast. As we'd warned. That's how wildly transmissible it is. Desi Doyen joins us with some clear, sobering thoughts from WaPo's national science reporter Dan Diamond that you may wish to consider on how to help keep yourself and your family safe over the holidays.

On this matter, it should be noted, since some are dismissing the dangers of Omicron --- citing its predicted infections as mostly "mild" --- that means only that many cases may not result in hospitalization. Don't fool yourself by convincing yourself that, even if you do contract Omicron, it will most likely be a "mild" case of COVID. Short of asymptomatic cases, a "mild" version of COVID could lay you up for weeks or longer. It means you won't be hospitalized, but that's about it. And, yes, it's going to land a lot of people in the hospital, as experts believe we're likely to begin seeing as many as 500,000 infections per day. During the January 2021 peak we had "only" about 250,000 infections a day.

Finally, before opening up the phones today to listeners on Manchin, Omicron and more, some slightly better news. Donald Trump is terrified that he is soon to be indicted in New York. So, as he does when he knows he's in big trouble, he has filed a ridiculous lawsuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James in hopes of buying time. It probably won't work.

Then, callers ring in on all of the above. It was a very lively show --- particularly considering the content we had to work with today...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Also: 'A lot of people are about to get sick' due to 'explosive' Omicron...
By Brad Friedman on 12/16/2021 6:30pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we cover both COVID and SCOTUS and how to try and stay safe from and/or fight back against the very serious threats now posed by both of these hideous, rogue, all-caps acronyms. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

First up, it's COVID. Specifically, the Omicron variant, as the CDC finds that, according to their latest data, unvaccinated people are 14 times more likely to die and 11 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than those who are vaccinated. Those numbers seem to refer to those vaccinated by two mRNA shots without a booster shot, which is now key to fighting the quickly rising threat of Omicron.

As Josh Marshall bluntly warns in one of his chilling recent updates on newly emerging data on the new, highly transmissible variant --- which still include a number of unknowns --- "A lot of people are about to get sick."

New studies just coming in from around the world suggest that Omicron is incredibly aggressive, even for those with some immunity from two vaccine shots or previous infection. A booster shot, the studies are finding, help tremendously to ward off both the likelihood of infection, as well as the worst symptoms. Two doses and a booster will roughly offer the same protection against Omicron as two shots alone did against Delta. Marshall reports the data show "late December through January will be explosive in terms of numbers of infections" in the U.S. He repeated a similar warning based on newer incoming data on Omicron last night: "The rate of growth is simply explosive. There’s no other way to put it...we should expect a very, very large wave of infections in the coming weeks...The pace and scope of the surge looks likely to be something like the original one in the Spring of 2020."

Too many people, I believe, have been placating themselves on the somewhat misleading data point suggesting Omicron infection appears to be less severe than previous variants. There are a number of reasons that it could be (including the fact that many now have at least some immunity due to vaccination or antibodies from a previous infection), but the severity level misses the point of the somewhat terrifying transmissibility numbers emerging right now and how that is likely to overwhelm health systems in this country and result in a lot of people dying. A more mild disease that infects 5 times more people is equally or potentially even more deadly.

The current surge under way in the U.S. is still almost entirely comprised of Delta cases. Once Omicron --- which is really good at breaking through immunity created by both infection antibodies and vaccines --- begins to rise over the next 2 to 4 weeks, things could get really bad on several levels. We are already seeing deaths spike again to more than 1,700 a day in the U.S., and that's almost entirely from Delta.

Bottom line: Get boosted. "It's not a marginal difference" from two shots, Marshall advises, based on a very close reading of emerging data and discussion with experts, "It's a big one." He goes on to write: "I would also seriously consider limiting obvious vectors of exposure: indoor activities in large groups, eating indoors, large crowds indoors or out. We all have our own levels of risk aversion and we can’t hide forever. But you should assume that your risk of being exposed to COVID is about to go up a lot. So plan accordingly.

Of course, he's hardly the only one sending this similar message. "All the models right now are flashing bright red," warns New York "Intelligencer" science writer David Wallace-Wells in one of his latest pieces headlined "Omicron is About to Overwhelm Us: The new COVID variant has all the makings of a mass wave." Pay attention please. Get boosted.

Next up, it's SCOTUS. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) penned a blistering --- if absolutely correct on every key point --- op-ed at Boston Globe yesterday, calling for the expansion of the Republicans "packed" and "stolen" and "corrupt" Supreme Court. The call comes not a moment too soon (and, perhaps a year or so too late). Still, it's good to hear elected officials speak as directly about the threat now posed by this corrupted, partisan Court to "basis principles of law" which now "threaten the democratic foundations of our nation."

We share most of her piece on air today. But if you don't listen to the show, read her must-read piece. She breaks down precisely how Mitch McConnell's hypocritical "Republican court-packing has undermined the legitimacy of every action the current court takes" as its illegitimate 6 to 3 rightwing "supermajority will continue to threaten basic liberties for decades to come." Democrats, she advises, must exercise their Constitutional Article III, Section 1 authority to change the size of the Court, as Congress has done at least seven times before. That number doesn't even include what happened after McConnell, corruptly "reduced the size of the court for over a year solely for ... partisan gain and then turned around and jammed through another nominee days before losing the presidency."

But, as welcome as op-eds are, action is better. So we were delighted when, immediately after the Supremes last week once again allowed Texas' clearly unconstitutional six-week abortion ban law to stay in place, the Governor of California announced plans for actual action to push back. If its now judicially acceptable to write laws that both undermine Constitutional rights and evade judicial review by allowing private citizens to enforce it, as the Texas law does, the same can be done with other rights.

On Saturday, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared his intention to "work with the Legislature and the Attorney General on a bill that would create a right of action allowing private citizens to seek injunctive relief, and statutory damages of at least $10,000 per violation plus costs and attorney’s fees, against anyone who manufactures, distributes, or sells an assault weapon or ghost gun kit or parts in the State of California."

"If states can now shield their laws from review by the federal courts that compare assault weapons to Swiss Army knives, then California will use that authority to protect people’s lives, where Texas used it to put women in harm’s way," the Governor noted in his brief statement. "If the most efficient way to keep these devastating weapons off our streets is to add the threat of private lawsuits, we should do just that."

He seems quite serious. And so does New York Attorney General Leticia James who, when asked about whether her state might take similar actions to Newsom's this week on ABC's The View, cited the outrageous immunity against prosecution that gun manufacturer's have been afforded by federal statute to say: "Yes! When I heard about that, I said to my team, we need to follow his lead."

Good. It's remarkable that the extremist radical rightwingers on the High Court either didn't see this coming, or didn't care. Of course, if the Supremes are cool with the Texas law as written, what is to stop any state from allowing "lawful" private, vigilante law suits against people who are simply exercising their First Amendment rights by, say, wearing a MAGA hat or being members of the Republican Party? In truth, nothing stops that at all, which is why Sen. Warren's op-ed is so on point.

Finally, as if those threats are aren't enough, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more threats to our climate than the Supreme Court should allow us to fit into six minutes...

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Guest host Nicole Sandler with Just Care USA's Dr. Diane Archer...
By Nicole Sandler on 12/10/2021 3:43pm PT  

Brad and Desi are out today, getting their COVID booster vaccines. They did it on a Friday so that if they have any side effects, they'll be fine by Monday, hopefully in time for their next show. So, today you got me again, NICOLE SANDLER, guest hosting today's BradCast. [Audio link to today's show follows this summary below.]

Medicare Open Enrollment ended on Tuesday, but I learned that you can still make changes to your plan during a special period that runs from January to March. So, with that in mind, I'm sharing an interview I did on my show on Monday, the day before open enrollment ended.

But, first up today, some of today’s news headlines, including the Supreme Court's ruling on the Texas abortion ban case, S.B. 8; the threat posed to Ukraine by Russia; the UK court determining that Julian Assange may be extradited to the U.S. to stand trial; the successful vote to create a union shop at a Starbucks in Buffalo, New York and the decision by Kellogg's to replace striking workers at their Michigan factory with scabs (and an Internet scheme that has crashed that plan); how Big Pharma has raised prices far in excess of the current rate of inflation, and more.

Then...by now, you've probably been inundated with commercials about Medicare Advantage. Remember the old adage, if something seems too good to be true, it usually is? That applies to healthcare too. Not only is Medicare Advantage not what they present it to be, it is an instrument leading to the privatization of Medicare.

And from an article I read at Common Dreams last week, I learned that there's another Medicare privatization scheme that started under Trump and is still forging ahead during the Biden years, called Direct Contracting.

So today, I speak with DR. DIANE ARCHER of JustCareUSA.org, who truly explains all you need to know about traditional Medicare and gap insurance, Medicare Advantage, and the new Direct Contracting program. And as I mentioned during the interview, there's an explanation of what it takes to buy a Medicare gap policy after you've been in a Medicare Advantage program. Find that explainer here. But beware, it's not pretty!

For those of us still too young for Medicare, we're still in the open enrollment period for the ACA (or, Obamacare) through healthcare.gov or your state exchange. Biden's pandemic relief bill, the American Rescue Plan, that was passed soon after he tool office really brought down our costs. So if you go to the exchange, you can find good insurance at a very good price.

To be covered on Jan. 1, you must enroll by Dec. 15. Open enrollment runs through Jan. 15...

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We're back! Setting the record straight with REAL news on the economy, COVID, Ukraine and more. Plus: Callers help out on all of the above...
By Brad Friedman on 11/29/2021 5:46pm PT  

We're back live on today's BradCast after a week off for travel and downtime over the holiday --- and the need to set the record straight on a few things that have been misreported in our otherwise blissful absence. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

There's plenty to worry about right now in this country and on this planet. Just not necessarily the stuff the corporate media (and GOP) are telling us (or hoaxing us) to worry about. So, after a week away, we ease our way back in, beginning with the process of trying to help reset what Americans should be worried about, should not be worried about, or should otherwise be thankful for. And we also open up the phones to callers to help us do all of the above.

Among some of the source material for stories covered and/or records set straight on today's program...

  • No, as we discussed just before we left for Thanksgiving break, post-pandemic inflation is not the disaster that Republicans (and the nation's corporate media) have a stake in pretending that it is. Especially not with the recent, under-reported statistics regarding the lowest number of new weekly jobless claims filed since 1969 (a story that both the media and the GOP haven't spent nearly as much time telling you about, even as Republicans are describing Americans suffering from inflation and high gas prices as a "gold mine" for their party.)
  • The corporate media have spent most of the weekend freaking out about the scary-sounding new COVID variant called Omicron. It might be scary. It might not be. Frankly, health officials just don't know enough to know either way. But, if you're already vaccinated (especially with a booster!) and wear a mask when indoors in public places, you are likely to be just fine. That, before the mRNA vaccines get quickly updated to handle the Omicron variant in a remarkable 100 days or less, as both Pfizer and Moderna are now working toward. As President Biden correctly noted at the White House today, "This variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic." From what little we know, at least to date, no, this isn't worth being overly worried about...at least not yet --- unless you're unable to or are dumb enough or hoaxed enough to not have gotten vaccinated by now.
  • Very much worth being worried about? What is now going on --- potentially --- in both the South China Sea and Ukraine. With the pandemic, the economy and, most appallingly, the Republican Party working to destabilize the U.S. right now, China and Russia are far greater threats in both regions than they might otherwise be.
  • There is much more to be either worried or not worried about as we detail on today's program, along with a bunch of callers who help along those lines...or don't...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Nicolás Rivero of Quartz; Also: House finally passes Biden BBB agenda, hard part waits in Senate; VA school board unbans books; Fight for majority control of VA House of Delegates not over yet...
By Brad Friedman on 11/19/2021 7:00pm PT  

Apparently it's another myth busting episode of The BradCast today. It would be nice if lousy reporting from the corporate media --- particularly regarding the economy --- didn't make these so frequently necessary of late. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up today, a few other stories of note today...

  • The 17-year old white kid who crossed a state border into Kenosha, Wisconsin to unlawfully wield a semi-automatic weapon before using it to shoot three anti-racism protesters, killing two of them, was acquitted of all charges today. So, we guess it's now open season to shoot anyone ya like, as long as you claim it was done in self-defense. And, yes, as long as you're white.
  • Democrats in the U.S. House finally came together today to pass the Build Back Better Act, President Biden's nearly $2 trillion landmark spending bill to expand healthcare, childcare, education, eldercare and much MUCH more, including the most substantive action to combat the global climate crisis in the history of the nation. Every Republican in the chamber voted against it. The transformative legislation includes scores and scores of long-overdue provisions that, if virtually any one of them were passed on their own as a standalone bill, it would be, to paraphrase the President, a BFD. But, of course, while getting it through the House took months, that was the easy part. Now, the crowning achievement of Biden's agenda will have to get through the U.S. Senate, where, without any Republican votes, all 50 Senators who caucus with the Democrats will have to sign off on in order to pass it under Senate budget reconciliation rules. That means obstructionist Democrats like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema may feel free to water it down further than they already have, or kill it all together. We'll find out what happens when the upper chamber picks up the measure, after the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • A few days ago, we reported on the Spotsylvania County, Virginia School Board's 6 to 0 vote last week to begin removing certain books from their school's libraries after a debate about whether they should ban the books or both ban and burn them. It was one of several stories we highlighted to underscore the unmistakable drumbeat of rising authoritarianism in our country right now. But, at least on that story, there is some good news this week. Democracy struck back! After 4 and a half hours of public comment at the Board's subsequent meeting this week, cut off only because it was midnight, the Board voted to reverse it's ban! Though the Board's two book burning proponents stood their ground, they lost in a 5 to 2 vote. All thanks to excellent local media reporting and a huge turnout from teachers, librarians, parents and teachers who spoke passionately in favor of libraries and books while calling for the book burners to resign.
  • Following up on another story we covered earlier this week, on the media's horrifically misleading reporting on inflation, we share part of a Paul Waldman excellent column from WaPo that sounds as if it could have been ripped straight from The BradCast's coverage that day, myth busting the very same issues that we did.
  • Then, picking up on a related-ish myth that needs busting as well this week, we're joined by NICOLÁS RIVERO of Quartz, to discuss his recent myth-busting, deep-dive reporting on our current, pre-Christmas, "post-pandemic" supply chain issues and why, despite no shortage of bad reporting on this, a shortage of truck drivers is not actually to blame.

    In fact, the industry has been claiming virtually every year since 2005 (and, really, going back to the late 1980s as Rivero documents), that they have a shortage of drivers. Last month, the American Trucking Associations announced a shortage of 80,000 drivers, declaring it "an all-time high for the industry." That, despite the fact that states issue more than 450,000 new commercial driver's licenses every year. Something doesn't add up here. At the same time, as Rivero tells me today, "between 1995 and 2017, the turnover rate at big trucking companies averaged 94%," according to the industry's own data. "That means that every year, they are refilling the equivalent of virtually every driving position, because people are quitting and leaving."

    "The real shortage," he explains, is not of truckers, but "of good trucking jobs that can attract and retain workers in a tight labor market." So, why isn't supply keeping up with demand in that supposedly free market? Rivero discusses the industry's "race to the bottom," leading drivers to take equal or better paying jobs elsewhere that don't come with all of the burdens --- especially for long-haulers --- the industry now forces onto their drivers.

    We also discuss the trucker's unions' part in all of this, and how --- and if --- Biden's new infrastructure bill might actually improve the situation, for drivers, for the industry and, yes, for our "post-pandemic" supply chain woes.

  • Finally, in our closing few minutes (before standing down to hit the road ourselves for the holiday next week!), the fight for control of the Virginia House of Delegates may not be as over as it appeared almost three weeks ago, when Republicans were declared by media to have taken the majority back from the Democrats during the off-year elections. A very close race in one district and a tallying error in another very close race (leading the Dem who currently holds that seat to withdraw her concession), has now resulted in two upcoming recounts. Republicans will control 50 seats in the 100-seat chamber. The question is now whether the GOP will control the chamber outright or --- long shot as it may be --- if both races flip to the Democrats resulting in a 50-50 power sharing agreement. Luckily, the commonwealth recently moved from 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems to hand-marked paper ballots. So a fair, overseeable count of voter intent is now possible in the state where Republican Glenn Youngkin was declared the winner in the Gubernatorial race and Republicans swept the other two statewide races on November 2nd for Lt. Governor and Attorney General.

We'll be watching over the holidays, even as 'The BradCast' and 'GNR' stand down next week for a much needed recharge of batteries and some long-overdue family time. We'll see ya after the holiday! Desi and I both hope it will be a healthy and happy one for all!...

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Also: COVID rising again before holidays; OK clemency for Julius Jones...
By Brad Friedman on 11/18/2021 6:34pm PT  

Justice isn't gonna demand itself, apparently. So we're happy (if that's the right word here) to continue doing it ourselves on today's BradCast, along with a bit of help from an actual, longtime homicide prosecutor. [Audio link to today's full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up, the mess the perps have left us with. New COVID cases are on the rise again across much of the country in recent weeks, even as the death rate is falling. But deaths tend to lag infections, which has officials concerned as we head into the holiday season once again. We take the opportunity to catch up on where the nation is in that regard, with recommendations for all to get booster shots as soon as feasible, and fresh, empirical, conclusive evidence that masking up is still the best non-pharmaceutical defense against the disease for both the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike.

In slightly brighter news, of a sort, Oklahoma's Republican Governor actually did the right thing on Thursday, if only at the last minute, by granting clemency to 41-year old Julius Jones who had been scheduled to be killed by state the today for a crime that occurred more than 20 years ago. Just hours before he was to be put to death, Gov. Kevin Stitt converted his sentence to life in prison for a murder that Jones has insisted he had nothing to do with. His case gained notoriety following a three-part documentary produced by Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis that aired on ABC in 2018. The clemency was also appropriate after the state had paused its capitol punishments following horrifically flawed executions by lethal injection in 2014 and 2015. After restarting them last month, a 60-year old prisoner convulsed and vomited as he was killed.

But speaking of murder by the government, a week or two ago on The BradCast we were joined by our friend, author and progressive talk show host Thom Hartmann, to discuss his case for mass second degree murder against Donald Trump for what he described as the disgraced former President's purposeful mishandling of the COVID pandemic in 2020. Thom's case is largely predicated on evidence revealing that, after initially taking the coronavirus seriously, the Administration changed course once they came to believe the disease was far more fatal against minorities who lived in blue states --- in other words, those who were unlikely to vote for him last year anyway.

Since we spoke with Hartmann, there has been additional damning evidence unearthed against the Trump Administration's COVID response, released by the U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, based on testimony from a number of both current and former Administration public health officials. The new information from those officials includes testimony, for example, from then White House COVID Task Force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, who reportedly believes that at least 130,000 lives could have been saved, had the the Administration taken appropriate action. Other officials have reportedly detailed how the White House blocked the CDC from sharing health guidance with the public while officials were even instructed to delete emails regarding directives on the pandemic response.

One of the maddening questions that arose during our discussion with Hartmann was why it seemed to be falling to a couple of radio hosts to even be building this public, legal case of accountability for mass murder by Trump in the first place. Where were the state prosecutors? Where was the Dept. of Justice and Attorney General Merrick Garland? Were we completely off-base in even suggesting criminal liability for mass homicide by a former President? That, as Hartmann conceded that he was, by and large, taking his best guess, as a layman, at whether charges for homicide by Trump should consist of first or second degree murder or something else entirely.

I heard from a number of folks after that program with thoughts on our conversation, including from several attorneys, two of whom had somewhat differing views on Trump's criminal liability. One suggested that, indeed, second degree murder charges seemed to fit the crime, while another felt that Trump had no direct culpability in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans. Or, at least, that it would likely be very difficult to prove any such culpability. We share the thoughts from both today.

We also heard from others who noted there was, in fact, someone else making a public case to bring homicide charges against Trump for some time. Specifically, we were pointed to longtime Washington D.C. homicide prosecutor, Glenn Kirschner, who now has his own podcast called Justice Matters. Kirschner spent some thirty years prosecuting murder cases, eventually becoming D.C.'s chief homicide prosecutor. On today's program, we share a clip from a podcast he released last December, shortly after revelations that the Administration had largely given up on trying to stop the spread of COVID and were, in fact, hoping that it would spread widely in order to eventually achieve herd immunity. That, even as infectious disease experts believed at the time that reaching herd immunity would take years and, literally, millions of American deaths before enough of the population would have enough immunity to halt the spread.

At the time, Kirschner used his podcast to explain what he saw as a clear cut case of what he described as "criminally negligent" or "criminally reckless homicide" (noting that the crime has different names in various jurisdictions). He explained how both Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence, who headed up the White House Coronavirus Task Force at the time, were "criminally responsible for needless coronavirus deaths" by the end of last year and the deaths of some 350,000 Americans at that point.

In his December 2020 podcast, Kirschner shared his belief, as a former prosecutor, that both Trump and Pence met the tests for such charges. Today, we continue to ask if any current prosecutors --- whether at the state or federal level --- are actually working to build such a case. And if not, why not?

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our last Green News Report before next week's Thanksgiving holiday. (We'll be taking the week off in desperate need of recharging our batteries and making up for family time lost during the worst of the pandemic last year.) Among the stories covered on today's GNR: disastrous extreme flooding in the Pacific Northwest on the heels of disastrous and deadly extreme heat in the same region just months ago; the Administration's controversial court-ordered oil and gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico; and President Biden's trip to Detroit to this week to promote both his new infrastructure plan and new, American-made electric vehicles...

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Son of VA's GOP Guv-elect tried to vote illegally. Twice; 1/6 Comm. moving toward Trump; COVID lies widen death gap between 'red', 'blue' states...
By Brad Friedman on 11/9/2021 6:34pm PT  

We've got a lot of news to cover on today's BradCast, breaking and otherwise. Not all of it is terrible. So there's that! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among today's stories...

  • First up, a story that broke late last week which we need to note here for the record. The 17-year old son of Glenn Youngkin, Virginia's presumptive Governor-elect, tried to vote illegally last week. Twice. At a precinct where his family isn't even registered to vote --- even though he's too young to vote at all, but "insisted" on being allowed to do so. His father pretended to run on an "election integrity" platform during the primary, but his campaign is now criticizing the media for reporting on the story at all. Meanwhile, Virginia election officials suggest Youngkin's son broke no laws --- which seems impossible to fathom once you hear the details. Of course, it's made all the more maddening by knowing what generally happens to those who happen to be black or brown while unknowingly voting or registering unlawfully --- versus what happens to the white son of an incoming Republican Governor. Just ask Crystal Mason in Texas for one.
  • On Tuesday, a U.S. District Court judge overseeing Donald Trump's federal lawsuit attempting to prevent the National Archives from releasing January 6th-related records from his White House, denied his latest motion. The records were been subpoenaed by the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol and will be turned over to the Committee on Friday unless the judge, or a higher court, rules otherwise before then. We explain.
  • The same Committee, led by its Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Vice Chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), have been very busy so far this week. On Monday, they subpoenaed six top Trump Campaign officials, including disgraced former National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and far-right attorney John Eastman. And on Tuesday they issued 10 more subpoenas, this time to officials who worked for Trump or the Justice Department, including his senior adviser Stephen Miller and Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany. While its unclear if the Committee will end up subpoenaing Trump himself, they have expressly not ruled it out and sure do seem to be working their way quickly up the food. Of course, until we learn if Attorney General Merrick Garland and the DoJ intend to bring criminal Contempt of Congress charges against Steve Bannon --- in response to the referral sent to them by the U.S. House --- for refusing to testify and turn over subpoenaed documents in the same investigation, none of these subpoenas will have much teeth. If Bannon is indicted, on the other hand, it will be game on for everyone. We continue to wait and watch...
  • In COVID news, a North Dakota lawmaker who organized a rally on Monday to oppose vaccine mandates wasn't able to make it. He has COVID. But he's also certain that Ivermectin, the horse deworming anti-parasitic he is taking, will cure him. Public health experts do not concur.
  • That NC lawmaker is hardly alone in falling for the vast, criminal, disinformation industry surrounding the coronavirus. A new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds nearly 80% of Americans either believe or are unsure whether to believe one or more complete falsehoods surround the pandemic, including evidence-free claims that the government is exaggerating the number of COVID deaths; that the government is hiding deaths caused by the vaccines; that the vaccines can give you COVID; that they contain microchips; or can change your DNA. The survey also found that those who trusted rightwing outlets like Fox "News", OAN and Newsmax were FAR more likely to be suckered by those lies.
  • All of which helps explain the news that the gap between COVID infections and deaths in "red" states versus "blue" states continues to widen with each passing month. Last month, 25 out of every 100,000 residents in heavy Trump counties died from COVID, versus just 7.8 residents in counties that voted heavily for Joe Biden. It was the fifth straight month that the gap in death rates between Trump and Biden counties has widened. That gap continues to grow this month as well, with new deaths now running 5.8 times higher per capita in the the heaviest "red" counties versus the heaviest "blue" counties.
  • We've reported many tragic stories over the past year about those who've refused, for various reasons, to get vaccinated, only to come to regret their choice after becoming hospitalized with a severe case of COVID. Many went on to die. Today, we have a variation on that story...with a sobering, but happier ending.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for another very busy Green News Report, following the passage last week of the $1.2 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill in Congress, including a number of key climate provisions, and as the critical U.N. climate summit known as COP 26 continues this week in Glasgow, Scotland...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Vote system failure in NJ; Another GOP gerrymander in OK; Too many Atlantic storms; Major climate deals in Glasgow; Breakthrough deal on drug pricing in Senate; NYC's vax mandate working well so far at NYPD...
By Brad Friedman on 11/2/2021 5:49pm PT  

Millions are voting around the country on Tuesday. Governors, Mayors, school boards and various initiatives are on the ballot (along with a couple of Special U.S. House elections) in a whole bunch of states in this year's off-year elections. Full results, such as we might have them, on tomorrow's BradCast. But for today, as voters vote (or try to), elected officials were making some pretty big and important and long-overdue deals today, from D.C. to Glasgow. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

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

  • The extreme partisan gerrymandering in states controlled by Republicans continues apace, with Oklahoma the latest to propose cracking a major Dem stronghold into three pieces in order to squeeze out another GOP House member for the next decade in the already very "red" state. All of that made much easier in states that, prior to the 2020 Census, had to win approval for new maps from the federal Government under the Voting Rights Act. The GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court majority has helpfully done away with that little annoyance in advance of 2022 and 2024.
  • Thanks to lighter off-year election turnout and measures enacted before and during the pandemic to make early and remote access to the ballot box easier, we're not hearing about too many voting problems today so far...except for in New Jersey, where electronic pollbooks reportedly failed across the state for several hours when polls opened. Unclear if there were backup paper pollbooks available, but as one outlet reported: "When the Internet would go down, the machines would crash."
  • For the second year in a row --- and the third time in history (the first time was in 2005) --- the National Weather Service has once again run through all of the names in the alphabet for named Atlantic storms. With the naming of Subtropical Storm Wanda over the weekend, we are turning to the supplemental name set, which is starting over from "A" this year. Unlike last year, they won't be using letters from the Greek alphabet which seems to have confused a whole bunch of us. But the increasing number of storms is the real worry, despite absurd, years-ago-debunked climate change denialist talking points still coming out from the fossil fuel-sponsored Republicans in Congress.
  • With the critical U.N. Climate Summit (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland now officially underway, President Biden officially apologized to the world for Donald Trump pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Climate agreement, during his four disastrous years as President. (The U.S. was the only country, out of about 200 across the world, to withdraw from the pact.) Now that we're back in, two fairly big agreements were struck in the conference's opening days. One to stop and reverse deforestation and another to cut climate warming methane emissions by 30% by 2030. The first was signed on to by more than 100 countries, including the U.S., UK, China, Russia and Brazil. The second did not yet win the support of China or Russia, but the others, including Brazil, seem to be in. The agreements are pretty big deals, as Desi Doyen explains today --- even if there is much more work that must be done at this two week summit.
  • Speaking of big deals, apparently another big one was struck in the U.S. Senate between Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) and all of the other Democrats to lower prescription drug prices in Biden's Build Back Better bill. The details are still not fully known, but the agreement will allow "lower prescription drug prices for seniors and families," according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. The seemingly interminable negotiations continue on the BBB, but that news from Sinema and some encouraging remarks today from the other Democratic obstructionist, Joe Manchin (WV) are hopeful signs today, as Mitch McConnell makes clear that he is rooting for Sinema and Manchin to gut the (currently) $1.75 trillion social safety net and climate change legislation.
  • After anti-vax alarmists had warned for weeks that as many as 10,000 cops would be lost from the NYPD once Mayor Bill deBlasio's vaccine mandate kicked in on November 1, it turns out the number of uniformed police placed on unpaid leave was much smaller. As of Monday, the number was 34, or 0.15 percent of NYPD employees. Over the past week, NYPD's vaccination rate jump 15 points to 85 percent. As evidence from other states and industries reveals, mandates work.
  • Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report as host UK's Prime Minister Boris Johnson opens COP26 with a dramatic flair; as the U.S. House calls Big Oil on the carpet for decades of climate lies; and as the corrupted U.S. Supreme Court agrees to review a case that could dismantle the EPA's authority to regulate dangerous greenhouse gas emissions...

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Guest: Heather Digby Parton of Salon and Hullabaloo; Also: Here we go again! Another QAnon GOP election clerk steals another voting system!...
By Brad Friedman on 10/29/2021 6:16pm PT  

Rogue Republicans and rogue Democrats on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, the rogue --- and really dumb --- Republican in Michigan's Adams Township. The Township Clerk there, Stephanie Scott, was elected last November and is certain that the election must have been fraudulent, even though she won and Trump was certified as defeating Joe Biden in the County by 48 points. (That's more than Trump won by in 2016!) Scott was a QAnon loon before the 2020 election and even more so since then. This week, she was removed by the State Elections Bureau from her job and replaced, for now, by the Republican County Clerk in Hillsdale County (home of Adams Township), who discovered on Tuesday that the Township's tabulation computer, the "brains" of the whole system, is now missing in advance of next week's local elections.

Michigan State Police are said to have launched a criminal investigation, and Scott seems to admit to a Michigan news outlet that she stole it, claiming that the vendor, Hart Intercivic, was coming in to perform routine maintenance that was actually a secret scheme to delete all of the evidence of fraud on behalf Joe Biden in the 2020 election. Or something. The Township votes on hand-marked paper ballots. So if the new Clerk had any actual concerns about whether the computer accurately tabulated results last year, she might have tried hand-counting those paper ballots to find out. The population of the entire Township is only about 2,500 people. But apparently Scott is not particularly bright, despite all of her QAnon "research".

We unpack the entire insane incident, which echoes one from a few months back, where the Republican County Clerk in Mesa County, Colorado also had to be replaced by the Sec. of State after she brought two people with her into the secure area where voting systems are stored in the middle of the night, turned off the security cameras, made full, unlawful copies of the hard drives of the Dominion Voting System's Election Management software and then released it to the Internet during MyPillow CEO and failed conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell's so-called "cyber symposium" in South Dakota. The unlawful release wreaked havoc and a call for "emergency action" before California 's Gubernatorial Recall election just weeks later. The Mesa County Clerk is also facing a criminal investigation because, ya know, they're all "law and order conservatives" who think it's just fine to steal voting systems and software when they feel like it.

Of course, there are very real concerns about vulnerabilities in such voting systems, though zero known evidence to date that any of them were used to steal any election last year. But these lamebrains don't seem to have a clue what the vulnerabilities actually are or what to legally do about them, even though many of us real Election Integrity advocates have been showing them how to do exactly that for nearly 20 years.

As to the Democratic rogues in our stories today, we're joined again by the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hulaballoo to talk about Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) and if their real game is actually to undermine the entire Biden agenda by weakening, stalling and then ultimately just killing the Build Back Better bill.

The pair have already succeeded in gutting a number of the most popular key provisions of the bill favored by progressive and centrist Dems alike, and even by Republican voters (if not members of Congress). Though there are a boatload of critical, long-overdue and progressive programs still left in what the White House described as the bill's new "framework" [PDF] on Thursday. But do Manchin and Sinema intend to let even that much go through to full passage? Or are they playing a different game entirely? We discuss it all with Digby today.

We also discuss the painfully disinformed, so-called "progressives" out in the Twittersphere and beyond who are actually either gullible enough or disinformed enough to believe that Biden and Pelosi and Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal --- not to mentioned Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez(!) --- have all been coopted by "corporatists" (or something) to undermine Biden's own agenda and the bill that the entire Democratic caucus, save for Manchin and Sinema, would have approved months ago when it was twice the size in dollars.

The corporate media also come in for criticism again today, for their failure to accurately inform the American people of the wildly popular provisions that were and still are in the still-transformative Biden agenda (even as Democrats themselves share some of that blame). Instead, the media have turned the negotiations over Build Back Better into a misleading game of (paid for) spending numbers and a "showdown" between "progressives" and "centrists". In fact, it's always been a no-choice effort by Congressional and White House Dems to win the must-have votes of Manchin and Sinema --- ("The Diva Twins" as Parton calls them) --- who have opposed many of the bill's most popular programs in a 50/50 Senate.

Lots to discuss here with Parton today, as usual. Please tune in!...

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Biden claims 'historic deal' on Build Back Better agenda, details framework 'agreement' for critical social safety net and climate package; U.S. House Comm. calls Big Oil CEOs on carpet for decades of lies...
By Brad Friedman on 10/28/2021 5:15pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We appear (maybe, probably, hopefully?) one step closer to the end of the endless sausage making process in Congress to get Joe Biden's still-huge, still-transformative (at least for now) agenda through to final passage. At the same time, Big Oil was called on the carpet by Congressional Democrats in the Oversight Committee for their years of lies and deadly deceptions on climate change. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

I've seen a number of predictable, knee-jerk complaints today from some sectors of the Progressive Twittersphere that seem short-sighted, self-defeating and, frankly, both misinformed and stupid. The maddening problem for Democrats in getting Biden's agenda through Congress is not "Democrats". It's Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema! Not to mention every single member of the Republican caucus in both chambers! Everyone else in the Democratic caucus --- in the House and Senate and White House --- was good to go weeks ago with the Build Back Better (BBB) bill when it still clocked in at $3.5 trillion.

Thanks to Manchin and Sinema, however, the measure, according to a new framework "agreement" [PDF] released by the White House today, now clocks in at about $1.75 trillion in spending and is fully paid for with increased taxes on the wealthy and other measures.

Much of the news on this front from the last several weeks has been devoted almost solely to what Manchin and Sinema have forced to be cut from the bill. That, as the two corrupt Democrats push for final passage of the smaller bipartisan infrastructure bill (BIF) that progressive Democrats have smartly refused to pass in the House, using it for leverage to ensure Manchinema don't get their (not-paid-for, deficit-increasing) infrastructure bill and then bail on the larger reconciliation spending package. That critical package still includes climate change action and broad expansion of the social safety net, from health care to education to elder care to child tax credits and much more.

With a continuous drumbeat of what Manchin and Sinema have succeeded in killing from the bill, the American people may have lost sight of a whole bunch of really excellent, very progressive stuff that is actually still in it. Today, after claiming an "agreement among Democrats" on a framework for the Build Back Better Act, (we'll see if there really is such an agreement), President Biden offered remarks at the White House to remind everyone of what is very much still in his critical and transformative legislation. We share his remarks in full today.

Whether the "deal" really represents an "agreement", and whether everything currently in the framework remains in the final BBB, and whether Manchin and Sinema agree to vote for it, and whether enough of the rest of the Democratic caucus will still support it after all is said and done, remains to be seen. But it's long past time to wrap it up and get both the BIF and the BBB working for the American people. As Biden said today: "Let's get this done."

Meanwhile, in the House Oversight Committee on Thursday, the CEOs of six Big Oil companies and their major lobbying groups were called on the carpet for their decades of deadly lies about global warming and their hundreds of millions of dollars spent deceiving the American people about it. Desi Doyen joins us for coverage of the key takeaways and testimony from the Big Oil liars and their GOP apologists and facilitators in the House.

Finally, it's our latest Green News Report in advance of next week's major U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, known as COP (Conference of Parties) 26, where Biden and a bevy of top Administration officials headed today after his speech. It's being touted as the most important such summit since the Paris Climate Accord was hammered out in 2015, with the U.N. warning that current commitments from the nations of the world to curb greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change are still not enough to avoid the worst impacts of our growing climate crisis. But, as usual, Desi also offers some encouraging news on that front as well...

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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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Guest: Attorney, blogger Keith Barber on where the Jan 6 probe may be heading; Also: Majority of Americans now very worried about climate crisis; Manchin nixing another climate provision from Build Back Better...
By Brad Friedman on 10/26/2021 4:52pm PT  

As usual, we're looking both forward and back on today's BradCast...and not a whole lot of it looks fantastic in either direction. But their could be some accountability on the horizon, which always looks good to us. [Audio link to full show is below this summary.]

First up, some climate and "sausage making" news. New polling finds that a majority of Americans --- in both major parties --- now finally see our quickly worsening climate crisis as being of "high importance" to them. We break down the new survey and what it does and doesn't mean.

In related matters, as discussed on yesterday's program, there is still a chance that the U.S. could meet President Biden's pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming in half by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2050, even after corrupt, coal-state Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin insisted on removing the key program for clean electricity from Biden's Build Back Better reconciliation bill. That program would have paid utility companies to move quickly to clean energy sources and penalized those that stuck with dirty, dangerous fossil fuels like coal and natural gas. But those already long odds may be getting much longer if Manchin is successful in removing yet another key climate provision from the bill, fees that are to be levied against the release of methane from oil and gas wells. Desi Doyen explains why that program is so important and how killing or weakening it, as Manchin reportedly wants, could be a fatal blow to our chances of surviving our ongoing climate emergency.

Next, the Biden Administration this week has, for a second time, rejected our disgraced, twice-impeached former President's attempt to invoke Executive Privilege to prevent the release of more Trump-era White House documents regarding the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. The documents are the second tranche requested of the National Archives by the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Trump-incited attack.

That bad news for the former President (but good news for all democracy-loving Americans) comes on the heels of a series of reporting shedding additional light on Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election, including by insurrection at the Capitol. Over the weekend, Washington Post detailed the "war room" effort carried out at the historic Willard Hotel near the White House from December through January, as Trump's activist lawyers, goons and other operatives, such as Rudy Giuliani and Steve Bannon, plotted various ways to overturn Joe Biden's victory.

Another report over the weekend from Rolling Stone documents the ways in which at least seven GOP U.S. House Reps participating in the planning of the rallies that led to the assault on the Capitol. Those members of Congress, according to two of the organizers who served as sources for the magazine (who are also said to be cooperating with the Jan. 6 Committee) are Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Mo Brooks (R-AL), Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), Andy Biggs (R-AZ) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX). In the wake of the reporting, a number of Democrats in the House are now calling for the expulsion of those Republican members.

The Rolling Stone report also cites Gosar as encouraging the two unnamed organizers by telling them they could expect a "blanket pardon" from the President for a separate, unidentified matter in which they are said to have been involved. If true, Gosar's (apparently false) promise, if it was actually made, also seems to place Trump himself squarely at the center of organizing the conspiracy that eventually became a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Monday, on MSNBC, Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, who detailed the Willard Hotel war room in their new book PERIL, offered more details, with Woodward reporting that the pair had "talked recently with a former Republican head of the Criminal Division in the Justice Department who said there is a 'lay down case,' just in what we know --- 18 U.S. Code, Section 371 --- a law that says it is a crime to defraud the government in any deceptive way, and that's exactly what they did here."

Last night, citing Woodward's comment, our guest today, KEITH BARBER, who blogs at Daily Kos under the name "KeithDB", broke down exactly what 18 U.S.C. § 371 actually is and how it could or should be applied here. In addition to being a regular dKos contributor on legal and constitutional matters, Barber is a former U.S. Army Captain, a longtime (now retired) attorney, and a lifelong Republican, at least "pre- Trump", according to his profile at the website.

Today, he walks us through the statute in question today, explaining how it is interpreted by the DoJ and how it appears to apply quite perfectly to both Trump and his cronies in their efforts to steal last year's Presidential election through deception and fraud.

Citing the DoJ's own explanation for its attorneys, Barber notes that he "was really surprised how stunningly broad" the statute is. "It basically can refer to impairing, obstructing or defeating the lawful function of any department of government, or depriving any department of government of its lawful right and duty required by law."

"Here," he continues, "we have counting of the Electoral College votes, very much required by law. That has to be done. A duty of Congress by law. And, arguably, the efforts going on in that 'war room', even setting aside the violence question --- the efforts to, through legalese and bogus Constitutional means, overturn the election --- constituted an effort, through deception and dishonesty, to overturn the election." Barber argues that Trump's criminal conspiracy seems to perfectly meets the DoJ's definition of the law, exactly as Woodward and Costa's former DoJ source posited.

Then, of course, the question is: Will the House Select Committee on January 6 cite that section of federal law and, more importantly, will the DoJ take action to enforce it against Trump and/or his cronies? As we also discuss, the DoJ has been less than aggressive in upholding the conspiracy law against Trump in other matters, such as the criminal conspiracy that both federal prosecutors and his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, allege that Trump "directed" in the hush-money payoffs to adult film actress Stormy Daniels --- for which his co-conspirator Cohen served time in prison.

There's much more in our conversation, including what to make of Gosar's alleged promise of "blanket pardons" and whether the attempts by Trump attorneys, such as John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani, to avoid testimony to the January 6 Committee by claiming attorney/client privilege, will legally hold up. (Spoiler: It won't, explains Barber.)

Finally, we're joined again by Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report on one of the busiest weeks in climate news in our 12 years of producing the GNR. So, I won't even try to summarize it here. But, please do tune in for that and much more on today's BradCast!...

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