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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, July 21, 2024
What J.D. Vance Forgot to Tell You (and Lied About) at the RNC: 'BradCast' 7/18/24
Also: More pressure from top Dems for Biden to reconsider candidacy; Judge nixes GOP vote suppression suit in NV; Biden calls for SCOTUS reform, national rent control...
'Green News Report' 7/18/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Toronto crippled by extreme storms, flooding; Heat related costs rising in U.S.; Extreme weather and aging dams; PLUS: Marathon Oil pays record fine under Clean Air Act...
Previous GNRs: 7/16/24 - 7/11/24 - Archives...
Holding on for Dear Life Amid the Political Whirlwind: 'BradCast' 7/17/24
Guests: Heather Digby Parton and 'Driftglass' on Presidential politics after the shooting; Dems still fighting over Biden; Trump's weird choice of Vance for VP; the RNC's 'unity' convention...
Cannon's Corruption: 'BradCast' 7/16/24
Guest: Attorney Keith Barber; Also: Menendez 'guilty' on all counts...
'Green News Report' 7/16/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Texas grid buckles under multiple disasters; Hurricane Beryl damages now estimated at $3 billion; PLUS: Climate crisis flip-flopper J.D. Vance gets GOP Veep nod...
Previous GNRs: 7/11/24 - 7/9/24 - Archives...
Amid the Assassination Attempt Aftermath:
'BradCast' 7/15/24
Also: Trump Stolen Docs Case Dismissed; OH's J.D. Vance named as GOP Veep nom; Callers ring in on all of the nightmares...
Sunday Monday 'Google Project 2025' Toons
After a brief pause following Saturday's assassination attempt of Donald Trump, we are back with our latest collection of last week's best political toons...
Meanwhile... :
'BradCast' 7/11/24
Biden's tenuous candidacy; Trump and Orban; Inflation, prices falling; Climate liar Inhofe dies; California's stunning solar revolution...
'Green News Report' 7/11/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Flooding, power outages, sweltering heat as deadly Beryl fallout continues; New FEMA flood risk standards; PLUS: House Republicans bravely seek Freedom for Refrigerators!...
Previous GNRs: 7/9/24 - 6/25/24 - Archives...
Paging 'Johnny Unbeatable'! Dems (Actually!) in Disarray!: 'BradCast' 7/10/24
Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, 'Driftglass' of 'Pro Left Podcast'...
SCOTUS Immunity Ruling 'As Bad as it Sounds', And Worse: 'BradCast' 7/9/24
Guest: LawDork's Chris Geidner on that and the Court's massive 'power grab'; Also: Record-breaking Beryl; U.S. heat records smashed...
'Green News Report' 7/9/24
Beryl breaks records, slams TX; 140m in U.S. under heat advisories; Big SCOTUS gifts for polluters; PLUS: Biden unveils first-ever extreme heat protections for workers...
So, What Now?: 'BradCast' 7/8/24
Listeners have strong opinions about where we are and how to move forward to save democracy after corrupt SCOTUS rulings and disastrous Presidential Debate...
Debunking MAGA Cult Xenophobia
CANNING: Throughout U.S. history, decent, hard-working immigrants (like me) have contributed to the economy and our nation's security: CANNING
Sunday 'Courting Disaster' Toons
THIS WEEK: Kings and Things! In our special SCOTUS-sized edition of the last impossible week's best political toons!...
Sunday 'Bad Medicine' Toons
THIS WEEK: Trump's hot pants ... Biden's cool reception ... SCOTUS gone wild ... and more in our latest collection of the week's best toons...
'Green News Report' 6/27/24
China flooding; Heatwave, crop failure in India; Disaster upon disaster in NM; On edge for SCOTUS decision; PLUS: Biden climate law creates 300,000 jobs!...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: Randall D. Eliason, former DOJ Chief of Fraud and Public Corruption Section; Also: On edge for landmark 'Chevron Deference' ruling; SCOTUS nixes EPA 'Good Neighbor' pollution rule, for now...
By Brad Friedman on 6/27/2024 4:58pm PT  

It's our last BradCast before time off for travel over the holiday next week. Unlike years past, it looks like SCOTUS will be late in releasing all of their opinions for this term before its normal end this week, so we won't be here to comment immediately on some of the biggest decisions (or on tonight's Presidential Debate) until after our return. But we've got plenty to cover from the corrupted rightwing Court already this week, including with a guest today who suggests the analysis by many legal experts on yesterday's ruling striking down yet another part of federal public corruption law has been somewhat misleading. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among the big SCOTUS decisions still to come, is a case regarding the "Chevron Doctrine" which, for decades, has given legal deference to federal agency experts over judges or corporate challengers, when it comes to the interpretation of federal laws through rules and regulations promulgated by those federal agencies. That could all be about to change, with enormous consequences first for the EPA, but also across the entirety of the federal government --- or, the so-called "Administrative State" as rightwingers have taken to deriding it. We explain the doctrine and some remarkable ironies behind the Court's upcoming ruling, whatever it may be, today.

But the corrupted, stolen and packed rightwing Supreme Court did manage to issue several rulings today. Among them....

  • The Court rejected a multi-billion dollar nationwide opioid settlement with OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma and its owners, the Sackler family.
  • In a clear win for corporate interests, they gutted the SEC's ability to carry out in-house proceedings on civil fraud complaints, requiring federal jury trials instead in an opinion likely to have far-reaching effects on other regulatory agencies as well.
  • SCOTUS also kicked a Presidential election year hot potato down the road for another day by allowing Idaho hospitals, for now, to perform emergency abortions under federal law, even though the procedure is barred under state law.
  • And, as we also discuss with Desi, the High Court blocked, for now, to the EPA's "Good Neighbor" rule which limited air pollution from power plants and other facilities that pollute downwind states. While the regulation has already substantially lowered pollution --- and saved lives --- in the states where it is in place, the Court prevented the EPA from enforcing it until after lower court challenges by largely Republican-controlled states and several industries are completed.

NEXT... On yesterday's show we critically covered the Wednesday SCOTUS ruling in Snyder v. U.S. [PDF], an opinion which overturned the conviction and 21-month prison sentence of an Indiana Mayor who received a $13,000 check from a company just two weeks after his city had granted them a contract worth more than a million dollars. The Court's rightwingers determined that the federal statute in question only applies to out-and-out bribery cases, where a quid pro quo was agreed upon before a public action. After-the-fact "gratuities", the Court's six Republican-appointees ruled, are apparently just fine. Or, at least, not unlawful under their reading of the federal statute in question.

While many legal analysts and experts have derided the ruling since it was issued on Wednesday, our guest today, RANDALL D. ELIASON, former chief of the Fraud and Public Corruption Section at the U.S. Attorney's Office in D.C., now a white-collar criminal law professor at George Washington University Law School, had a different take that he posted to Twitter yesterday: "I have no problem with the Snyder decision, that 18 USC §666 covers only bribes and not gratuities. I think that makes sense."

Really? Why? Today Eliason joins us to explain why the law --- which, as Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson notes in her dissent with the Court's other liberals, "imposes federal criminal penalties on agents of those entities who 'corruptly' solicit, accept, or agree to accept payments 'intending to be influenced or rewarded'" --- can arguably be interpreted as applying onlyto before-the-fact bribes, as opposed to after-the-fact "gratuities", as they are described by the Court's majority.

"I'm not happy about the outcome," Eliason concedes today. "You're right that there's been a pattern of decisions over the last more than a decade narrowing public corruption laws, and I've been critical of a lot of them. And I've been on your program being critical of a number of them in the past."

"So I'm not happy about the outcome. But I don't think the majority is being unreasonable in this particular decision. Because what this decision is about is not whether the conduct of the Mayor is a good thing, or whether it should be prohibited. It's just about the language in this particular criminal statute that Congress drafted. And it's really a badly drafted statute. It's poorly written. It's confusing. And even though the lower court in this case had upheld his conviction, several other federal courts of appeals had said the same thing, that this law does not apply to gratuities, and agreed with Snyder."

He explains that there is "a real legal distinction between a bribery and a gratuity", and that other federal statutes prohibit them both. But in this case, §666 is less than perfectly clear. And, when there is a "tie" in legal interpretation, the tie is supposed to go to the defendant who, the Court noted, can still be held accountable for accepting a gratuity under state and local laws.

"You see a lot of headlines in the wake of this decision: 'Supreme Court says bribery is okay.' No, the whole point was it wasn't bribery. It was a gratuity, which is something far less serious. And the issue was does this particular statute cover this kind of gratuity? The answer is no. I think, based on the way that statute is written, it's a reasonable outcome."

While I'm not sure I fully agree --- and even he notes that Justice Jackson makes several good arguments in her dissent --- Eliason's expertise and insight into the laws in question shed welcome light on this otherwise seemingly corrupt ruling.

On a related note, we also discuss how all of this might apply to the arguable millions of dollars in "gratuities" that members of SCOTUS, like Clarence Thomas, have accepted over the years and whether that might play into the Court majority's opinion. And how Congress, had they not become completely dysfunctional in recent years, could easily clarify this issue through simple legislation.

On one other matter before we finish our conversation with Eliason today, he offers his thoughts on SCOTUS' upcoming Fischer decision regarding whether the statute used to charge hundreds of January 6 defendants --- including Donald Trump --- with "obstruction of an official proceeding" may be struck down by the Court. Eliason is "pessimistic" about what is likely to happen, though believes that even if the Court strikes it down for use against many of those charged for the J6 insurrection, that "there's a good chance that the charges against Trump would still survive."

FINALLY... Before we disappear for the next week, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest 'Green News Report', with more thoughts on the imperiled Chevron Deference Doctrine; Climate disaster upon climate disaster this week for a New Mexico town; and some very good news indeed for President Biden's job-creating climate law...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Our global air pollution and climate crisis and what we can do about it; Also: Biden now leads in national Fox 'News' polling; Trump Media stock tanking again; CNN debate rules, participants set...
By Brad Friedman on 6/20/2024 6:21pm PT  

Given the rarity of the event, and what it said to portend, we're taking a few lessons, and warnings, from Lakota legend on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Last week, it was reported that a white buffalo calf was discovered to have been born among thousands of brown bison in Yellowstone National Park. That is never before known to have happened. And though no one is able to explain exactly how it did --- the calf is white, with a black nose, eyes and hooves, as opposed to albino, in which case the eyes would be pink --- its birth, in native American lore, is said to be akin to the second coming of Christ, according to Chief Arvol Looking Horse, the spiritual leader of the Lakota, Dakota and the Nakota Oyate in South Dakota. He is also the 19th keeper of the sacred White Buffalo Calf Woman Pipe and Bundle. (All explained, as well as we can, on today's show.)

The birth of the rare white buffalo, according to Lakota prophecy, portends better times. That's the good news. It also is said to serve as a warning that more must be done to protect the earth and its inhabitants. We take both that encouraging news and its accompany warning to heart on today's program.

To that end, a few of the stories/warnings we cover on today's show...

  • A new study finds nearly 2,000 children under five are now dying every day from air pollution. Yes, you read that correctly! That, and a number of other alarming new studies we've reported on in recent weeks --- such as the 50,000 Californians killed by chronic exposure to wildfire smoke from 2008 to 2018, and the $250 billion in climate and health benefits thanks to wind and solar over four years amid Joe Biden's renewable energy boom --- underscore the critical, life and death stakes of this year's Presidential election.
  • If all of that isn't warning enough, perhaps the oppressive heat wave across much of the nation today --- and for at least the next week --- may help Americans appreciate the importance of this coming election, as Donald Trump has vowed to his fossil fuel industry donors that he will reverse all of President Biden's unprecedented, landmark climate achievements.
  • Some good polling news today --- from Fox "News"(!) --- for Joe Biden, following Trump's 34 felony convictions last month in New York related to his rigging of the 2016 election with hush-money payments to a porn star. In short, Biden now narrowly leads Trump in a head-to-head contest, according to Fox' latest national survey, by 2 points, 50% to 48%. There are a whole lot of caveats on this, but the more noteworthy news is that the new numbers represent a 3-point swing in Biden's direction since Fox' last national survey in May, and a 7-point swing since March. There is other news of note from this poll, including that Biden also now tops Trump when polling is expanded to include Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Jill Stein and Cornel West, who will be on the Presidential ballot in a number of states as well this November.
  • The stock price for former President's latest grift is tanking again. Bigly. The company known as Trump Media and Technology Group, which has just one wildly money-losing venture (his failing Truth Social site) has tanked in market value an astonishing 50% since his felony convictions last month. On Thursday alone the stock price, which trades as "DJT", plummeted by more than 14.5%, after skidding by about 35% over the past week. A lot of MAGA dupes dumb enough to invest in this loser have lost a whole lotta money this month.
  • Next Thursday's first 2024 President Debate is now set, according to CNN. It will be a two-man affair between Trump and Biden only, with RFK, Jr. (and the others) failing to meet the polling and ballot criteria set by CNN. The debate will be 90 minutes long, will have no studio audience, and the participants microphones will be turned off when it is not their turn to speak. It will be moderated by CNN's Jake Tapper and Dana Bash...and we wish them well.
  • Finally, as record wildfires, heat waves and the first named storm of this year's hurricane season explode across the nation (and world), Desi Doyen is here with our latest Green News Report. On all of that, and the even more devastating impacts of our quickly worsening climate crisis...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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NY judge finds Trump in criminal contempt; A 'key' prediction for 2024; UAW wins again; Indicted AZ state Senator rewarded by RNC; Good news for trans people in WV, NC; Biden goes to pot...not a moment too soon...
By Brad Friedman on 4/30/2024 6:56pm PT  

We've got quite a few good news items amidst all the madness on today's BradCast. You may enjoy a few hits of dopamine along the way. Your welcome. Please listen responsibly. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among our stories today...

  • Just to help kick things off...American University distinguished professor Allan Licthman has a "13 keys to the White House" method for predicting who will win any Presidential election. His method has accurately called the winners in 9 of the past 10 elections. (In fact, he was arguably right in 10 out of 10!) We discuss his method and, though he's not yet made his "official" prediction this year, who he believes currently has the upper hand in 2024.
  • Donald Trump was found in criminal contempt of court in his New York trial related to his 2016 election interference via hush-money felony charges. Justice Juan Merchan found [PDF] Trump violated his gag order barring attacks on jurors and witnesses via social media and elsewhere in nine different instances. The judge made clear that incarceration is pretty much the only option left by state law if Trump commits new violations. Veteran federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner suggests today's ruling may make things "significantly worse" for the disgraced former President, as the bail conditions in all four of his criminal indictments in four different jurisdictions bar him from committing new crimes. We also get you quickly up to speed on some of the Prosecution's new witnesses on the stand in the actual trial on Tuesday.
  • United Auto Workers' chief Shawn Fain is on a roll. Just over a week ago workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga voted by a 3 to 1 margin to unionize on the heels of the UAW's huge victories last year in their strike against Detroit's Big Three automakers. The victory by workers at the Tennessee plant was the first of its kind in the South. And then, late last week, the union struck a last minute deal for a new contract with Daimler Truck in North Carolina, bringing big pay raises and major benefit increases to workers at four of the company's plants in the state.
  • As we reported previously, 18 Trump allies in Arizona last week were criminally indicted on nine charges each of conspiracy, fraud and forgery related to their failed attempt to steal the 2020 election for Trump in the state via a Fake Electors plot. Over the weekend, state Sen. Jake Hoffman, one of two sitting state Senators indicted as a Fake Elector, was chosen, just days later, by the Republican National Committee to be an official National Committeeman in the 2024 election. Apparently criminal indictments for election fraud are now being rewarded by today's GOP.
  • The full 4th U.S. Court of Appeals on Monday ruled that West Virginia and North Carolina's decision to refuse health care for transgender people under government-sponsored insurance is discriminatory and a violation of federal law. NC blocked gender-affirming care for state employees and WV Medicaid blocked coverage for gender-affirming surgery. The plaintiffs won in an 8 to 6 ruling at the appeals court, though the thoroughly corrupted and illegitimate U.S. Supreme Court Republican majority will almost certainly have the final say in the matter.
  • The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will finally remove marijuana as a Schedule III narcotic, according to a report by AP today. It will no longer be treated similar to heroin and cocaine, as the Biden Administration plans to finally reclassify the popular plant as Schedule I after 50 years, now that some 38 states have already legalized cannabis for medicinal and/or recreational use. President Biden previously pardoned thousands of Americans charged with simple possession under federal law and urged states to do the same. Democrats in Congress, in the meantime, are pushing the DEA and Attorney General to drop it from the list of controlled-substances entirely to treat it more like alcohol.
  • The news above is one of a spate of newly or soon-to-be finalized regulations from a bunch of Biden Administration Executive Agencies. You may (or may not) have heard news of late about a cascade of new rules issued by the Administration on everything from Student Loan forgiveness to dozens of new environmental and climate-related regulations. There is a reason they are all happening right about now, and it has to do with the Congressional Review Act, which we explain in detail on today's program.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our 1,400th Green News Report! And yes, along with troubling news for Africa and the U.S. Gulf Coast, she's got some historic news of landmark new regulations from the EPA to curb pollution from U.S. power plants. And, yes, that too should be in time to beat GOP abuse of the Congressional Review Act as cited above...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Alex Mahadevan of Poynter's MediaWise; Also: Trump CFO goes back to jail; GOP chaos, panic in AZ after 1864 abortion ban restored...
By Brad Friedman on 4/10/2024 6:32pm PT  

And we thought the real news sites were bad enough. Now, as discussed on today's BradCast, fake ones, aided by Artificial Intelligence and funded by shadowy rightwingers to surreptitiously promote candidates and rightwing propaganda, are springing to life across the country in advance of this year's critical election. Ain't that all that we need? [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But first up, a few news headlines of note today...

The Trump Organization's long-time Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg returned to Rikers Island today after serving a 100 day sentence just last year on tax fraud charges related to unreported perks he received over many years from the company. Today, the 76-year old Weisselberg was sentenced to five more months in the pen after pleading guilty to perjury for lying to state prosecutors in testimony and on the witness stand in Donald Trump's recent $454 million civil fraud trial about the size of the disgraced former President's New York apartment. The lie inflated the value of the Trump Tower penthouse on financial statements by some $200 million.

And, in Arizona, the state's all-Republican Supreme Court unleashed havoc on Tuesday --- for both abortion supporters and opponents alike --- when it reinstated a 160-year old near-total abortion ban originally adopted in 1864, before Arizona was a state or women had the right to vote. Many state Republicans, like U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake, are now in full panic mode on the heels of the Court approving the law she previously claimed to support. Now, for some reason, she doesn't, as revealed in an incoherent (and hilarious) statement demanding that AZ's Democratic Governor somehow roll it all back, even while Lake also still claims to oppose abortion.

For his part on Wednesday, Donald Trump, who on Monday bragged yet again about his role in overturning Roe v. Wade, both claimed that the abortion issue was now settled to everyone's satisfaction as a states' rights matter, while calling out the AZ Supreme Court for "going too far" in reinstating the 1864 ban on all abortions in the state, with an exception only for saving the life of mother. He insists that the GOP-controlled (for now) state legislature will repeal the ban. But Republicans leaders in both the state House and Senate on Wednesday insisted otherwise, thwarting attempts by Democrats to repeal the antiquated law.

It is all as mad as it sounds. But, despite the havoc this is causing for women and doctors in the state, all of it may turn out to be very good news for Democrats in the battleground state this November. Arizona, and other states, will see ballot initiatives to protect reproductive rights. That is likely to have a remarkable effect on turnout by angry voters.

Of course, that also depends on an educated --- not disinformed --- electorate. And, right now, as the Financial Times recently reported, there is a well-funded scheme underway by rightwing billionaire activists, the Republican Party and fossil fuel interests, among others, to confuse as many people as possible about real news by using real looking "pink slime" websites that push political propaganda while masquerading as legitimate local news sites.

According to media watchdog NewsGuard, as of April 1, there were as many fake "pink slime" websites operating in the U.S., pretending to be real local news outlets, as there were actual, real, local news sites!

We're joined today by ALEX MAHADEVAN, Director at the non-profit Poynter Institute's MediaWise project, which seeks to "empower diverse communities with the skills to identify misinformation."

"The word 'pink slime' encompasses a lot of different types of these algorithmically-generated or poorly reported news websites," Mahadevan tells me. "To me, the 'pink slime' news websites that worry me the most are the ones that aren't necessarily fake news, but have a lot of real news in it. Most of it has been scraped by algorithms from press releases, but then within some of those articles are very biased, misleading articles that favor one candidate or another candidate."

The websites have names like "Chicago City Wire", a cite which doesn't disclose its funding or political purpose other than to say, "Funding for this news site is provided, in part, by advocacy groups who share our beliefs in limited government." At least if you bother to dig deep enough on the site to find that statement.

One of the largest networks of "pink slime" sites is run by an outfit named Metric Media, which claims to feature about 1,000 "local" sites, most of which, according to FT, "do not disclose any political funding or partisan stance, saying that they provide 'data-driven information without political bias.'" Metric Media is reportedly run by a web of shell companies, non-profits and corporate entities linked to three men, "conservative businessman and publisher Brian Timpone, Texas oil billionaire Tim Dunn, and Republican Party adviser Bradley Cameron."

Creation of these sites, according to researchers, is now easier than ever thanks to Artificial Intelligence apps, and comes at a time when social media outlets have cut back on their moderation teams that might otherwise prevent links to such propaganda outlets from proliferating. Instead, the "pink slime" sites are spending millions to advertise on those same social media sites like Facebook, Twitter/X and Instagram.

Mahadevan explains how he was able, in February of last year, to use the free version of the AI app, Chat-GPT, to create such a fake cite. "In about a half hour I was able to generate fake news articles, along with fake news reporters, fake editors, and fake publishers --- along with their headshots --- and create the code and launch a fake news website completely out of thin air. To me, that was really frightening."

All of it, in fact, is frightening --- not only the fake news that is taking the place of real local news reporting, but the loss of those critical local outlets in the first place and what happens to "the soul of these communities when we lose local news outlets," laments Mahadevan, who goes on to warn that all of this is "terrible for democracy."

So what, if anything can be done about it? We discuss that as well on today's somewhat disturbing, if hopefully eye-opening, BradCast...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Three strikes for former Prez; 'No Labels' out; Soft sentence for GOP vote fraudster; WI reconsiders drop-boxes; NE nixes Electoral College change; Biden v. Israel; Sanders joins Biden to tout success against Big Pharma...
By Brad Friedman on 4/4/2024 6:36pm PT  

It was yet another busy news day and, thus, it was another very busy BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

Among the many stories covered today...

  • It has been a very very bad 24 hours for our disgraced former President in three of his four criminal cases, as he's now received rejections from three different judges to three different motions to dismiss or delay in three different jurisdictions over that period. Last night, Juan Merchan, the judge in his New York hush-money fraud case rejected his last minute motion to delay his April 15th trial until after SCOTUS rules on his laughable "Presidential Immunity" claim. The judge in his Georgia election theft conspiracy case, Scott McAfee, rejected Trump's effort to dismiss on ridiculous First Amendment "protected political speech" grounds. And even Aileen Cannon, the corrupt Trump-appointed federal judge overseeing his case in Florida for stealing national security documents upon leaving the White House, finally issued an order rejecting his absurd Presidential Records Act defense as cause for pre-trial dismissal. Sad!
  • The secretive, supposedly "centrist" No Labels group announced they will not be running a third-party candidate for President in 2024 after all.
  • Kim Taylor, the wife of an elected Republican official in Iowa who was named as an unindicted co-conspirator, will get just four months in prison after being found guilty last year of 52(!) election fraud crimes, including registering and casting votes for her husband in the names of others. (Tip for vote fraudsters looking to get off easy: Be a Republican.)
  • Wisconsin's newly progressive Supreme Court majority will now decide whether to reverse the previous right-wing majority's ban on the use of absentee ballot drop-boxes in the critical battleground state this year.
  • An out-of-the-blue call on Tuesday by a rightwing extremist on Twitter to change the way Nebraska will allocate its Electoral College votes in 2024 --- in hopes of awarding an extra vote for Trump this year --- gained support just hours later from the state's Governor and the desperate former President before failing in a vote by the state legislature Wednesday night. Bigly. The measure still could come back up for another vote, however, before the legislative session's end on April 18, or in a Special Session thereafter if called by the Governor.
  • Following a reportedly tense call on Thursday between the nation's two leaders, the White House announced that President Biden issued a warning to Israel's far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Change course in Gaza or...else. The White House said the President demanded swift changes to Israel's war on Gaza to allow much more food and humanitarian aid to reach starving citizens and protection for both civilians and relief workers. Though it remains unclear how U.S. support may change, an Administration spokesperson said they expected to see action from Israel "in hours or days" before reassessing current policy.
  • On Wednesday, Senator Bernie Sanders joined President Biden at the White House to tout their successful efforts at lowering the cost of healthcare and, specially, prescription drug prices following the adoption of the Inflation Reduction Act which every Republican in Congress voted again. After forcing Big Pharma to lower the cost of insulin and certain asthma medication for Medicare recipients to no more than $35/month, both men called for still more cuts in the price of overpriced prescription drugs sold in America to everyone, not just those on Medicare.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with news on a looming, climate-change fueled hunger crisis in Southern Africa; the Biden Administration's largest-ever investment to decarbonize American manufacturing; how melting polar ice is bending time itself; and the opening of America's first commercial-scale offshore wind farm...which is decidedly not killing whales (insists Desi.)

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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'No one is entitled to sell the Government drugs at prices the Government won't agree to pay,' federal judge rules...
By Ernest A. Canning on 3/6/2024 10:35am PT  

In the second loss for Big Pharma in less than a month, the Trump-appointed Chief Judge of the Delaware U.S. District Court rejected a Constitutional challenge to a law adopted by Democrats in Congress and signed by President Joe Biden which allows for the negotiation of drug prices for Medicare.

Last week, in a 45-page Memorandum Opinion issued in AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals v. Becerra, Chief Judge Colm F. Connolly summarily rejected the drug manufacturer's assertion that provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA), authorizing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to negotiate prescription drug prices, violates the pharmaceutical industry's 5th Amendment rights.

The 5th Amendment provides that no person shall "deprived of...property without due process of law." A person (in this instance, a corporation) cannot be unlawfully deprived of a property right that does not exist.

The IRA, which President Biden signed into law on Aug. 16, 2022 --- an Act that every House Republican opposed --- reversed a provision of the Medicare Part D law, enacted in 2003 during the George W. Bush administration, which statutorily prevented CMS from negotiating prescription drug prices.

According to a press release issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the government's ability to negotiate pricing is essential given that "the United States pays three times more for prescription drug prices than any other developed nation." The conservative federal judge in Delaware ruled that the 5th Amendment due process clause doesn't create a pharmaceutical property right to force the federal government to agree to pay those higher prices...

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

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Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, 'Driftglass' of 'ProLeft Podcast'...
By Brad Friedman on 1/11/2024 5:13pm PT  

And then there were two. Well, actually three. (Well, probably still just one.) It's another episode of Special Coverage on today's BradCast! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Former SC Gov. Nikki Haley squared off with FL Gov. Ron DeSantis in Des Moines, Iowa on CNN Wednesday night for the 5th, so-called "GOP Presidential Debate," just hours after former NJ Gov. Chris Christie decided to drop out and as the disgraced former President and presumptive Republican front-runner did a live town hall on Fox "News" just up the road. All just days before voters trudge out into -6 degree ("Feels Like" -25 degree) temps on Monday night for the first-in-the-nation Iowa Caucuses.

Topline: Haley and DeSantis repeatedly called each other liars (she even created a website for his); DeSantis largely dominated Haley (while calling in some sexist tropes for good measure); and nobody laid much of a glove on GOP polling leader and four-time indictee, Donald Trump --- as usual.

Of course, there was much more than just that going on. Which is why we're joined today for smart insights on all of it by our 2024 post-debate analytical champeens and long-time OG bloggers HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo and 'DRIFTGLASS' of the weekly Professional Left Podcast and its companion show, No Fair Remembering Stuff.

"This is not a debate," explains the sage Driftglass. "This is a televised entertainment for a very specific audience." On the other hand, argues the insightful Digby, "this is the most irrelevant political spectacle I have ever observed."

And yet, we still had more to talk about than we could fit into an hour! About what all of it means (if anything) for the GOP, for Americans, for Democrats, for Joe Biden and --- most importantly --- for American democracy. Enjoy!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Threat of nationwide ban is over, likelihood of newly imposed restrictions on expanded, FDA-approved availability dimmed...
By Ernest A. Canning on 12/21/2023 12:35pm PT  

Believe it or not, we have good news at year's end from our otherwise radicalized and corrupted U.S. Supreme Court regarding abortion rights.

SCOTUS' recent decision [PDF], in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. Food & Drug Adm., to hear the abortion pill case in response to the Petition [PDF] filed by the Biden Administration's U.S. Solicitor General and to grant the Petition [PDF] filed by manufacturer Danco Laboratories --- together with its denial of AHM's Cross Petition [PDF] --- is an encouraging development for reproductive liberty.

The Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine (AHM) is a group of right-wing Christian physicians who sought, and initially obtained, a nationwide ban on the prescription, sale, distribution and use of mifepristone --- a medication first approved by the FDA in 2000 as part of a two-drug regimen to terminate early-stage, intrauterine pregnancies.

According to the FDA's January 2023 Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies [REMS] determination for the drug, mifepristone enables a woman "to end an intrauterine pregnancy through ten weeks gestation," during which it is found to be both 98% effective and safer than Tylenol.

On April 7, 2023, however, Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointed, Texas-based U.S. District Court Judge, issued a preliminary injunction that imposed a nationwide ban on mifepristone. Before being tapped by Trump, Kacsmaryk was an anti-choice activist and is regarded by many as a right-wing religious zealot. His ruling was in direct conflict with a separate decision issued on the same day by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas O. Rice in Washington State. Rice ordered the FDA to keep mifepristone on the shelves of 14 States and the District of Columbia.

Although the conservative 5th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to stay Kacsmaryk's nationwide ban, the U.S. Supreme court, in late April, by way of a 7 - 2 Decision [PDF] (with Justices Alito and Thomas dissenting), granted a stay of both the 5th Circuit and Judge Kacsmaryk's temporary, nationwide ban on mifepristone. By the express terms of the April 21 SCOTUS decision, the stay would remain in effect until the end of the appellate process.

Because the Supreme Court has now granted both the government's and mifepristone manufacturer Danco's petitions for certiorari, at a minimum, that stay will remain in effect until the Supreme Court issues its final ruling.

Kacsmaryk's original total ban rested upon what, even then, seemed like a tenuous AHM effort to evade a six-year statute of limitations with respect to the FDA's initial approval of mifepristone that was issued while Bill Clinton was still in office. The Supreme Court's denial of the AHM cross-petition, which contested the 5th Circuit's ruling [PDF] --- that the effort to contest the 2000 approval is barred by the statute of limitations --- is now final.

Thus, the judicial threat of a nationwide ban on mifepristone no longer exists!

One of the two remaining issues, however, entails whether the 5th Circuit erred in finding that the FDA acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner in its subsequent REMS determinations, years after the 2000 approval. (Those subsequent REMS determinations, based upon extensive medical studies and worldwide practical use, made it easier for patients to obtain access to mifepristone). But before the Supremes can even reach that issue, they face the threshold question as to whether AHM physicians who do not even use or prescribe mifepristone have Article III standing to file their legal challenge to the FDA-approved abortion pill in the first place...

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

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Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, 'Driftglass' of 'ProLeft Podcast'...
By Brad Friedman on 12/7/2023 5:27pm PT  

It was debate number four for all of the eligible GOP 2024 primary candidates who decided to show up. And, for reasons best left to one of our guests to explain on today's BradCast, we once again offer Special Coverage of yet another LOL bat-crap insane evening! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

This one was broadcast from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It was sponsored by new media outlet NewsNation and moderated (for the first time?) by three women. The GOP's Race for Second Place on Wednesday night featured just four candidate who qualified: former UN Ambassador and former SC Gov. Nikki Haley; FL Gov. Ron DeSantis; former NJ Gov. Chris Christie and scammy business dude and unspeakably annoying conspiracy theory bro Vivek Ramaswamy. Presumed front-runner Donald Trump didn't bother to show up again. Though, after winning the three previous debates by not being there, he may have actually lost a few points this time around, for reasons discussed on today's program.

We're joined once again today by our tireless 2024 post-debate panelists and long-time OG bloggers HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo and 'DRIFTGLASS' of the weekly Professional Left Podcast and its companion show, No Fair Remembering Stuff.

It was a lively, if insane affair, as expected from today's broken Republican Party, with the candidates viciously attacking each other throughout the night as "obnoxious blowhard", "corrupt", "toxic", "fascist" and "liar". But who are we to disagree with the GOP's own carefully curated collection of 2024 candidates for President of the United States?

Aside from the smaller group of participants, the biggest change was that Christie decided to finally weigh in both as the adult in the room with actual old-school Republican "conservative" values, and to finally take on Trump head on as he'd long promised. As we discuss, the room did not boo him as vigorously this time out, and may (may!) have actually listened to a word or two he had to say about Trump. While Christie scored a number of direct hits on the four-time criminally indicted former President, his best moments --- other than beating the hell out of DeSantis and Ramaswamy --- came in calling out Trump as "unfit for office", before noting in closing that Trump is likely to be disqualified from even voting for himself next year.

"I want you all to kinda picture in your mind its Election Day. You all will be heading to the polls to vote, and that's something that Donald Trump will not be able to do. Because he will be convicted of felonies before then and his right to vote will be taken away," explained Christie, followed by a bit of half-hearted booing from the assembled crowd at the University of Alabama. "You can boo about it all you like and continue to deny reality," he continued. "But if we deny reality as a party, we're gonna have four more years of Joe Biden." He went on to add for his fellow candidates: "If you're too timid to take on Trump, believe me, others will see that timidity: Xi, Putin and the Ayatollah, the border-crossers on the southern border and the criminals on our streets."

The full frontal --- and accurate --- attack may or may not work. But it was the message that the crowd eventually seemed to be listening to and that Christie had long promised to deliver, but hadn't until last night. It was also the argument that every other major candidate in the party has, so far, been too "timid" to make. In fact, the lawless, autocratic threat posed by Donald Trump to his own party, our nation, and this world is really the only issue that matters in 2024.

We discuss all of that and much more today, including...

  • Why we're devoting an hour to this madness at all.
  • The reasons for the lack of a single question about abortion.
  • Why the sponsors of this debate thought it appropriate to feature two video questions for the candidates from the far-right Judicial Watch's Tom Fitton, identified as one of Trump's many unindicted co-conspirators in his Georgia election theft indictment and likely in his federal indictment for same.
  • Why the party that used to pretend to oppose Big Government clearly doesn't anymore (and never actually did.)
  • How Haley and DeSantis claim to support "freedom", while each opposing freedom of speech on the Internet (and elsewhere.)
  • Who would actually be the best GOP candidate to defeat Joe Biden and who would actually be the easiest for Joe Biden to defeat.

Please enjoy our...for some reason...BradCast Special Coverage!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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With smart special guests Heather Digby Parton of Salon and 'Driftglass' of 'The Pro Left Podcast'...
By Brad Friedman on 9/28/2023 5:20pm PT  

Woah, Nelly! Today's BradCast may arguably be both the dumbest and most fun ever! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

The subject material --- Wednesday night's ridiculous GOP 2024 "Presidential Primary Debate" (if it's even worth calling it that) at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library out here in Simi Valley, California --- is what makes it dumb.

It featured seven "candidates" --- former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, supposed businessman Vivek Ramaswamy and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum --- but not the much-indicted guy who Republicans apparently intend, for now, to actually nominate for the job next year.

Our excellent special coverage panelists --- award-winning blogger and columnist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo, and "DRIFTGLASS" of the Professional Left Podcast from "Flyover Country, Illinois" --- are what make it fun.

Hear Digby discuss the GOP's "Bizarro World alternet universe" and the "big orange elephant in the room"! Hear Driftglass explain the "Doomsday machine with no off switch" and "the smelly wet sock of the mainstream media"! Also, Doug Burgum!

To paraphrase Haley last night, hearing us today may help you "feel a little bit dumber." I'd tell you more, but that would ruin all the fun...and most of the dumbness! Enjoy!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Hurricane Hillary eyes Southern CA and/or AZ...
By Brad Friedman on 8/17/2023 7:11pm PT  

If you had "Hurricane in Southern California" on your Climate Crisis 2023 Bingo card, please come on up to accept your prize. Details on that on today's BradCast, along with a whole bunch of other stuff we've had to set aside of late, thanks to the now 91 criminal felony charges being faced by our corrupt and disgraced former President. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among the stories covered today that (largely) have nothing to do with felony indictments...

  • Hurricane Hilary spins up suddenly off the coast of Mexico and is now gaining strength amid an El Nino. The storm is said to be heading north to make what could be an "exceedingly rare" landfall over the next few days somewhere here in Southern California or along the Baja Peninsula before moving up and into Arizona --- if you believe scientists who are experts in this sort of thing.
  • The gerrymandered Republican state legislature in North Carolina on Wednesday overrode vetoes by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper to enact new laws that are unspeakable cruel to, among others, transgender children. If you are unaware, we explain exactly why these types of laws --- now adopted by 22 GOP-controlled states (though being challenged in court in most of them) --- are so awful and cruel. That is, unless you are a Republican, like those who stole control of the NC legislature, who believe Big Government should intercede between doctors and patients and that so-called "parental rights" should also be overruled by Big Government autocratic fiat.
  • Speaking of autocracy, gerrymanders and Big Government Republicans now dictating to small, local government and voters...the morally and ethically broken GOP-controlled state legislature in Texas has recently passed a law to oust the chief election official in Harris County (Houston) --- and only in Harris County --- just months before upcoming municipal elections in the state's largest and most Democratic-leaning County. A state judge this week found the new law in violation of the Lone Star State's constitution. But, just hours later, the state put that ruling on hold by appealing it to the TX Supreme Court (all Republican). The November elections are now just weeks away and, unless something changes quickly, will apparently be run by the Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector who has zero experience running elections and had nothing to do with the months-long planning for the one where early voting is set to begin next month.
  • In far more encouraging news about autocracy, gerrymandering and, in this case, democracy, we head to the great state of Wisconsin. On August 1, Justice Janet Protasiewicz became the state Supreme Court's newest member after being elected earlier this year. Her landslide (for Wisconsin) 11-point victory in April means that liberals now hold a majority on the state's High Court for the first time in about 15 years. On August 2, a group of petitioners filed with the state Supremes to not only force new, fair legislative maps for the state's House and Senate for the first time in more than a decade, but also for emergency elections next year for all members of the state Senate, many of whom will not otherwise face reelection until 2026 despite occupying seats that petitioners argue are held only thanks to the GOP's unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders. BRAD BLOG legal analyst Ernie Canning wrote about this challenge to the state's illicit, entrenched legislative majorities this week and the potentially very good news it represents for Badger State voters. Just after airtime today, however, he updated his article with...well, some more good news but also...some troubling news about the gerrymandered GOP's new scheme to undermine democracy, the rule of law, the state constitution and state voters with impeachment proceedings against Protasiewicz in hopes of stealing back the Court to hold onto their entrenched, corrupt state legislative majorities. (See Ernie's UPDATE today on that story for more details.)
  • Then, a bit of listener mail in response to my apparently controversial suggestions of late that Donald Trump may very well not be on the general election ballot by November of next year.
  • And, finally, Desi Doyen has our latest Green News Report with updates on the horrific fires on Maui and in Canada, but some very encouraging news about President Biden and the Democrats' landmark climate law, signed one year ago this week, which is already resulting in a clean energy manufacturing, construction and jobs boom in the U.S. --- and even overseas!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Robin Marty of the West Alabama Women's Center, author of 'The End of Roe v. Wade'; Also: Deadly, climate fueled wildfires in Maui, HI...
By Brad Friedman on 8/9/2023 6:33pm PT  

It was a great day for democracy in Ohio on Tuesday. And how often do we get to say that on The BradCast? [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

But first, it's not a great day for our friends in Maui, Hawaii, where windswept wildfires have leveled homes and businesses and a historic town; killed at least six and injured dozens so far; and sent some residents fleeing into the ocean to avoid the flames. That, as wind gusts above 60 mph --- part of Hurricane Dora passing about 500 miles safely to the south --- kept firefighting helicopters out of the sky, while climate change-fueled dry conditions and non-native, non-drought tolerant plant species (brought there by humans) went up like torches. Sending our best wishes to our listeners at our affiliate station, KAKU 88.5FM, "The Voice of Maui"! Please drop us a line when you can to let us know how you're doing!

Moving on from that terrible news, to much better news out of Ohio last night, where democracy was literally on the ballot. The Buckeye State GOP's anti-democracy constitutional amendment, known as Issue 1 on Tuesday's special election ballot, went down to huge defeat by some 13 points --- 57% to 43% --- according to the latest unconfirmed tallies. The measure, which could have passed with a simple majority, would have changed the state constitution to require 60% voter approval for all future constitutional amendments. As it turns out, voters don't like voting their own democracy away.

As Ohio's Sec. of State Frank LaRose was eventually caught on tape admitting to supporters --- after claiming for months it had nothing to do with abortion --- the measure was "100% about abortion". It was meant to preempt a citizen-led ballot initiative set for this November that will codify reproductive freedoms into the constitution of the otherwise right-leaning and wildly gerrymandered state.

We spend some time today explaining what happened, why it happened, and just how extraordinarily corrupt and hypocritical the measure's lead proponent, LaRose, actually is, as he hopes to become the state's GOP nominee to square off with Ohio's Democratic U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown next year. Good luck after Tuesday's $20 million, anti-democracy boondoggle, Frank!

But what happened in Ohio on Tuesday is reverberating throughout the nation today and will, almost certainly, continue to reverberate into next year's 2024 general election. It is also giving hope to a lot of otherwise "deep red" states, proving again that their citizenry can also successfully push back against GOP forces of hypocrisy, anti-democracy and pro-autocracy. Even in states like "deep red" Alabama.

We're joined today by ROBIN MARTY, Operations Director at the West Alabama Women's Center, and the prescient author of 2019's The New Handbook for a Post-Roe America and The End of Roe v. Wade: Inside the Right's Plan to Destroy Legal Abortion.

Marty, as you might guess, is elated about the great news out of Ohio. "Of course, I am very excited about it," she says, before adding: "I'm not surprised, though. This is yet another in a series of wins for abortion rights when it is put up to a statewide vote." Indeed, every time a measure even tangentially related to reproductive rights has appeared on a statewide ballot since the corrupt U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, reproductive freedoms have ultimately won. That is true in both "red" and "blue" states alike.

But Marty also shares just some of the authoritarian horror still playing out in her own home state where abortion has now been banned entirely by state Republicans, and where her West Alabama Women's Center still offers much-needed healthcare for woman...but may no longer provide them with abortion services.

Most incredibly, as Marty tells details today, the medical professionals at her clinic are not even allowed, by law, to tell patients where they might go --- which states or clinics --- to receive lawful abortion care elsewhere. That, she says, could result in felony charges and up to 99 years in prison. In fact, she wasn't even certain she could tell me about that on air!

"The moment it became illegal in our state, not only did we have to stop every bit of abortion care that we were doing in the clinic," she explains, "our Attorney General made statements saying that, in his opinion, he believed that providing a person with information about how they could access abortion care somewhere else would, in fact, constitute a criminal conspiracy. And people could be arrested over that."

The center has just filed suit against the state A.G., hoping to win back their free speech rights. As the ACLU describes the case, the lawsuit was last month "in federal court to prevent Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall and district attorneys throughout the state from prosecuting those who assist Alabamians seeking to travel across state lines to access abortion care where abortion is legal. Attorney General Marshall has explicitly threatened that health care providers could face felony charges for assisting Alabamians seeking to travel out of state to obtain abortion where it is legal."

The health care providers are fighting the law adopted by the very same hypocritical GOP lawmakers who pretended to be "outraged" about "Big Government coming between a patient and their doctor" during the passage of ObamaCare in 2010. And the very same ones who, today, are pretending to be "outraged" about Trump being prosecuted for "nothing more than exercising his Free Speech rights!" (that's not why he is being prosecuted) and pretending to be concerned that social media sites are "censoring" rightwing opinions.

Marty has a lot to say on all of these topics, so I hope you'll tune in for today's very lively conversation with her!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Actors on strike; Contraceptives for sale; GOP megadonors blown off; New U.S. House maps for NY; Free tuition at UNC; Biden's new student loan repayment plan; And much more...
By Brad Friedman on 7/13/2023 6:30pm PT  

We not only cover a whole bunch of news stories on today's BradCast, we also explain what they mean and why they matter. As always, we want you to not only know what happened, but understand why it did and what can be done about it, so you can pass that important information on to others. [Audio link to full program follows this summary.]

Among the many stories both reported and explained on today's program...

  • Film and TV actors of SAG-AFTRA join the Writers Guild of America (WGA) in going on strike against producers in hopes of proper payment and residuals for streaming services and AI usage, among other appropriate demands.
  • We take another quick spin through my new favorite website --- FoxWeather.com --- where they report on all of the catastrophic effects of climate change now devastating much of the planet, but because Fox hates its duped readers and viewers so much, they never even once explain why all of these disasters are now happening. (Hint for Fox "News" dupes, if I'm lucky enough that you stopped by: It's the climate change, stupid, as caused by the burning of fossil fuels.)
  • The Biden FDA approves the first ever over-the-counter birth control pill. Happily, this should be bring the abortion rate way down. So, rightwingers will be delighted with this news, right?
  • Dumb GOP megadonors in Illinois lose their ill-considered fight to prevent the use of clean, electric leaf blowers on their 22-acre estate. But it's a win for their neighbors and for the rest of us. (And even for them, whether they too dumb to know it or not!)
  • A state court orders New York to redraw U.S. House maps before the 2024 elections. That alone could end up flipping the House back to Democratic control next year, after the GOP flipped four NY seats from "blue" to "red" last year, after the state court blocked an attempted Democratic gerrymander. It's complicated.
  • Great news for North Carolina residents! After Republicans on the corrupted U.S. Supreme Court recently blocked Affirmative Action for college admissions at the University of North Carolina (and everywhere else in the bargain), the school has announced it will be offering FREE tuition to many in-state students "as part of their continued effort to boost diversity".
  • Late last month, the corrupt rightwing SCOTUS majority used their recently invented-from-whole-cloth "Major Questions Doctrine" to block the Biden Administration from using the specific text of the federal HEROES Act to forgive up to $20,000 in student loans to borrowers. The President has announced a new plan to use a different law to accomplish even broader forgiveness, though it will take a bit more time than his initial plan. In the meantime, beginning next month, a newly restructured repayment plan for loans will allow millions to pay just $0 a month (you read that right) without seeing any interest added. Their entire loan may then be considered as paid in full after 10 years. We break down the key details of the new plan and how Republicans are already attempting to undermine it, because they hate people who aren't millionaires or billionaires.
  • Finally, it's our latest disturbing Green News Report with Desi Doyen here to drive you crazy as the summer of climate catastrophes continue. Among our coverage: another major insurer flees Florida; California works out a deal with manufacturers to phase out polluting big rigs; and the U.S. becomes the blackout capital of the world, thanks to the many failures of natural gas...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern of Slate on that and other 'Major Questions' from our radical, activist, corrupted U.S. Supreme Court...
By Brad Friedman on 7/12/2023 6:35pm PT  

It's been too long, but we're delighted to have one of our favorite guests back on today's BradCast! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But first, in a rare, one day only special session of the State Legislature called by Iowa's Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds on Tuesday, GOP lawmakers in the Hawkeye State hastily adopted a ban on almost all abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, before most know they are even pregnant.

Reynolds had the temerity to declare that "the voices of Iowans and their democratically elected representatives cannot be ignored any longer." That, despite recent state polling finding that 61% of voters in Iowa support legal abortion in all or most cases, with just 35% saying it should be banned.

Well, the "elected representatives" have now been heard --- Reynolds plans to sign the measure on Friday, when it will immediately take effect --- but the voices of Iowans certainly haven't. The new law was passed with only Republican votes. It allows limited exceptions after 6 weeks in some cases of rape, incest and certain medical emergencies. A lawsuit by proponents of reproductive freedom was filed today. We explain the details and the news that former Vice President and current 2024 GOP candidate for President, Mike Pence, is both calling for a similar ban at the federal level and believes abortion should be banned even when a pregnancy is not viable and doctors have determined a baby cannot survive outside of the womb. (None of the other 2024 GOP candidates has been willing to say they disagree with Pence.)

That cruelty, unfortunately, is now par for the course in the Republican Party, and is reflected in similar legislative bans on reproductive freedoms now in at least 17 states just one year after the corrupted, far-right U.S. Supreme Court activist majority overturned Roe v. Wade's 50 years of Constitutional reproductive freedoms.

Rulings made by SCOTUS this year, sadly, are no less radical, even as several of them issued at term's end last month have been cited by some in the media to suggest that Chief Justice John Roberts has somewhat "moderated" the most extreme positions of the Court. That would be inaccurate, but exactly what Roberts had hoped for.

We're joined today by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist at Slate to discuss a number of those decisions, and what has now emerged as Roberts' neat trick to hoax the media into regarding him and some of the opinions issued by the Court this year as "moderate".

In short, as Stern details today, Roberts is essentially manipulating the Court's docket --- by determining which cases to hear and which ones not to --- in order to make SCOTUS' end-of-term opinions appear less extreme, overall, than they actually are.

"They have consistently taken up these cases that sort of seem designed to terrify liberals. Then, when the case comes down in a way that's not the end of the world, they get good headlines," he explains.

"The Court really shouldn't have been hearing a lot of these cases in the first place. So, by deciding them in a so-called 'liberal way', they create this image of balance and moderation that's not really deserved," he argues. "There's no better example of that than the Independent State Legislature case [Moore v. Harper]. There was absolutely no reason for the Supreme Court to intervene, and yet it reached down and grabbed that case. And, by deciding it in a somewhat moderate way --- although Roberts left the door open for mischief, as he so often does --- the Court got great headlines as being so moderate and thoughtful."

"That is a trick that the Chief Justice is very good at playing on the media. But it's not one I think we should fall for, given how obvious it is and how many decisions that he really cares about [that] end up coming out so far to the right over and over again."

"We pretend as though these cases emerged out of nowhere, when in reality, the Court is building a very careful story, using each individual case to try to show something about the Court that it thinks will appeal to the public." But that doesn't reveal the full story, Stern argues. "The 'liberal victories' simply leave the law as it was, without making any changes. Whereas the conservative victories radically overhaul the law in ways that were unimaginable just five or six years ago. That's also something that I think is very difficult to explain to people who don't watch the Court closely, but becomes blazingly obvious once you apply a little bit of scrutiny to how this Court operates."

And now, it's all making much more sense.

We saw that neat trick play out once again this year, as the stolen, packed and corrupted far-right majority, at terms end, ultimately reverted to form to overturn decades-old precedents regarding race-based Affirmative Action in college admissions (though not other Affirmative Actions, for example, legacy admissions and those for the kids of high ticket donors); the Court expanded newly discovered Constitutional "religious freedoms" to allow web page designers (and, actually, any other business) to discriminate against LGBTQ+ customers based on imaginary --- in fact, wholly fraudulent --- grievances; they picked up on last year's Judicial Activism by further restricting the EPA's ability to meet mandates of landmark laws passed by Congress, in this year's case, the Clean Water Act; and, they determined that while forgiving millions of dollar in loans to so-called small businesses and cutting taxes for billionaires was just fine, forgiving $10,000 to student loan borrowers during a national emergency --- in specific accordance with the original text of federal law --- was a bridge too far for a President of the United States...or, at least for the current President of the United States. (The Court showed no such "conservatism" when Donald Trump used the same exact law to "modify or waive" conditions for the same student loans.)

As bad as all of those decisions were, I had specific questions about one of them that sort of seems to give away the game for this far-right Court, with six Republican-appointed Justices now more than happy to legislate from the bench after years of their party pretending to be against that sort of thing.

As it turns out, the case I had questions about --- the one I saw as the most alarming and worst ruling of the term --- is one that Stern felt the same about. It's the one in which the Court relies on a made-up-out-of-whole-cloth, completely subjective test they now refer to as the "Major Questions Doctrine" whenever they don't have a legitimate reason to block an Executive Branch action, even when it's based on the specific text of a law they may not like.

"Justice Kagan has called this a 'get-out-of-text-free card,'" Stern tells me. "This is not a legitimate tool of statutory interpretation, because it means that the Court can set aside what the actual words of the law say, and just apply their own opinion, under this very thin guise of trying to uphold Congress' will." Last year they cited this pretend "doctrine" to say the EPA couldn't regulate carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act, despite the specific text of the law, because it was just too much of a "Major Question" that Congress had to speak to in more specific language somehow. This year, they used it to block President Biden from forgiving certain student loans amid the COVID pandemic, as specifically allowed by the HEROES Act.

"When you're dealing with the federal government, every policy is going to be major," Stern argues. "Every policy is going to affect as many as 300 million Americans. Every policy is going to have a fiscal impact of more than billions of dollars. So this is really just an excuse, in every single case, for the Court to ignore the law that Congress has passed, perversely while claiming to uphold Congress' wishes."

We discuss that and much more today, including which upcoming cases most concern him on the docket for the Court's next term. Should we freak out about them? Or are they also now just part of Robert's insidious manipulation to be sure to have a few cases on which the Court's rightwingers can appear to be far less radical than they actually are?...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Unrelenting climate change-fueled weather pummels nation...
By Brad Friedman on 6/26/2023 6:17pm PT  

Welp, it was another slow news weekend [insert eyes-rolling emoji here]. But we try to come up with something to cover on today's BradCast nonetheless. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

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

  • Extreme weather and warnings of same walloping much of the nation today, as two weeks of historic triple digit temperatures in Texas spread to other states, resulting in major storms, deadly tornadoes, widespread power outages and cancelled flights from Arizona through the mid-west up into New England and down to the Carolinas and Florida. But if you hear about these seemingly ever-worsening nightmares from some major U.S. outlets --- like Fox "News" (and even ABC, etc.) --- you may hear absolutely nothing about the man-made climate change that is fueling our intensifying global crisis.
  • On Friday, Politico finally covered the story that we broke on this show six weeks ago about how Georgia Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger says he will not be installing urgently recommended security upgrades to its horribly vulnerable Dominion voting systems until after the 2024 Presidential election in the critical battleground state. We covered that news exclusively here in mid-May. Politico covered it here on Friday. And my tweet pointing both out was throttled by Twitter over the weekend so that it's nearly impossible to find without a direct link. That is here. (More, hopefully, on this issue tomorrow!)
  • Speaking of Georgia, a federal judge has ordered Rudy Giuliani to pay the legal fees for the two Atlanta election workers --- Shaye Moss and her elderly mother Ruby Freeman --- who are suing him for defamation after he (and Trump, and the rest of the MAGA crew) falsely accused them of committing fraud in the ballot tabulation room during the 2020 Presidential election.
  • Curiously enough, the far-right, wildly corrupted U.S. Supreme Court keeps making not terrible rulings at the end of this year's term. Today, a challenge to a ruling on a case out of Louisiana, where a federal court mandated an additional black majority U.S. House district, was rejected. The case will be sent back to a lower court. If the lower court rules as SCOTUS did a few weeks ago --- when they stunned the world by upholding the Voting Rights Act and requiring another black majority House district in Alabama --- today's decision could be very good news for those that care about voting rights, the Constitution, and equal representation for all.
  • Also today, SCOTUS allowed several lawsuits against Ohio State University to proceed, after it was discovered the school had, for years, protected a serial sexual abuser who served as a team doctor for years. This is probably not good news for OSU's former wrestling coach and serial denier Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH).
  • The lower courts are holding as well, for now. Last week, a federal judge permanently overturned Arkansas' unspeakably cruel ban on gender-affirming medical care for transgender kids, and a federal judge in Florida temporarily blocked Gov. Ron DeSantis' anti-freedom crusade to ban minors from attending drag shows. Amusingly, one of the reasons the judge blocked the new law was because it was in conflict with DeSantis' so-called "Parents Bill of Rights" legislation adopted in 2021.
  • Finally today, before opening the phones to listeners, we discuss the bizarre story of whatever the hell happened over the weekend in Russia where, for about 24 hours or so, civil war nearly broke out. That, as Yevgeny Prigozhin, formerly a close ally of Vladimir Putin and commander of the mercenary Wagner Group (arguably Russia's best fighting force in Ukraine), declared Russia's justification for attacking Ukraine --- to demilitarize and de-Nazify the sovereign nation --- to be a lie. Wagner's march toward Moscow, however, ended as quickly as it began, with Putin theoretically granting Prigozhin safe harbor in Belarus, even if both his future and those of the troops in the Wagner brigade remain uncertain at this hour. We open the phones with what is left of today's show to discuss what the hell is going on and where both Russia and Putin's fortunes may be heading from here...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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