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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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...


Also: GOPers laughing at, thanking Manchin, Sinema; Encouraging news on Dems' landmark infrastructure bill; Trump's COVID Death Cult rising...
By Brad Friedman on 7/15/2021 6:41pm PT  

Democracy, politics and death. Ya know, just another day on The BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

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

  • Maricopa County, Arizona will now be forced to spend millions on new voting systems after state and County officials determined that their previous machines, which they only began using in 2019 and still haven't paid off, cannot be used again, and will be destroyed. That, after potential corruption of the systems during the Arizona GOP Senate's secret "audit" process, carried out by a private, conspiracy theory contractor named Cyber Ninjas. So much for those "fiscally conservative" Republicans (just in case you're wondering why we almost never refer to Republicans as "conservative" in almost any context. It's because they ain't. And folks in the media and in Congress and everywhere else should stop doing them the favor of playing along with their friendly, if utterly false and misleading, branding.)

    As we also discuss today, Maricopa doesn't actually have to spend millions of dollars on new computers to scan their hand-marked paper ballots. They could simply count them publicly by hand in the first place!

    The real cost of the phony, completely non-transparent and still-ongoing "audit" clown show in Phoenix, however, is that it is likely to make Democrats even more reluctant to seek recounts and post-election audits in the many cases where they absolutely should. (Here's just one such example.)

  • The wingnuts at CPAC over the weekend were laughing at Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) for their gullible willingness to do their obstruction bidding for them. A group of Republican officials were caught on video tape, laughing, applauding and urging others to call and thank the two Democrats for blocking reform of the Senate filibuster. "We don't want the people's will to be done," says former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum in the clip. "Call Joe Manchin an say thank you, seriously. Call Kyrsten Sinema and say thank you," the failed Presidential candidate and fired CNN pundit says. That, as Senate filibuster reform (or elimination entirely!) is desperately needed right now in order to adopt federal protections for voting rights in hopes of countering GOP voter suppression measures now being adopted in Republican-controlled state after Republican-controlled state.
  • But, in somewhat brighter Manchin-related news, he does seem at least mostly willing to go along with the Democrats' landmark, "transformative", $3.5 trillion infrastructure reconciliation package, which --- unlike a voting rights bill --- can be adopted by the U.S. Senate with a simple majority vote...so long as Manchin and Sinema, and all of the other Democrats, play along.
  • In the meantime, back in the states, the COVID infection rates are on the rise again nationally, along with surging hospitalization and death rates in areas of the country with the lowest vaccination rates. That, as the Delta variant is quickly gaining a foothold across the nation. Last week, we discussed Missouri's horrific situation in the rural, Southwestern part of the state, where hospitals are already overwhelmed. Today, we discuss the similarly horrific numbers out of Mississippi, where state officials issued new recommendations for masking indoors once again, and warned the unvaccinated last week that "people are going to die needlessly."

    But the Trump Death Cult appears to be in full flower now in Tennessee, where the State Health Department's new directive bars state health officials from vaccination outreach to teens, incredibly enough. But that's not only for the COVID vaccines, but any and all vaccines --- from Measles to HPV to flu shots! They are no longer allowed to even remind teens when it is time to get their second COVID shot, despite the lack of protection against the Delta variant after only one dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. That, just one day after the same brainwashed wingnut ghouls of Trump's Death Cultists at CPAC last weekend actually broke into cheers when a panelist discussed the unwillingness of millions of Americans to save their own lives by getting vaccinated.

    There is, however, a bit of apparent good news regarding some of these Trump Death Cult states. Vaccination rates have suddenly been increasing by double digits in some of them over the past week. So, maybe they're finally getting the fear of God in them. Not everywhere, unfortunately. In Tennessee, the number of doses administered over the past week, versus the prior one has fallen by 70 percent as of today. In Mississippi, it's fallen by 80 percent! It's only worse in Joe Manchin's home state of West Virginia, where the rate of vaccination has fallen 94 percent since the previous week, according to Washington Post's vaccine tracker.

  • Finally, I'm happy to say that Desi Doyen's latest Green News Report has much more encouraging news packed into it than usual, including a breakdown of the many long-overdue climate and clean energy provisions currently set for inclusion in the Dems' new infrastructure package (if Manchin doesn't kill them), and in a similar new "Green Deal" initiative being launched this week in the European Union...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Election security expert Susan Greenhalgh of plaintiff Free Speech for People; Also: Senate Dems announce deal for 'transformative' $3.5 trillion health care, climate, infrastructure package...
By Brad Friedman on 7/14/2021 6:28pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Senate Dems strike a very big deal and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission gets sued again, this time for rolling back voting system standards after secret, unlawful meetings with the manufacturers they are supposed to be regulating. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up, in what is being reported as potentially "transformative" legislation for the country, Senate Democrats on Tuesday night announced they had come to an agreement on a deal that would invest $3.5 trillion into the expansion of Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, child care and a host of other "human infrastructure" priorities, while also addressing climate change with a broad array of clean energy incentives. The blueprint for the agreement still lacks specific legislative language, but was struck after weeks of work in the Senate Budget Committee chaired by Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Democratic Committee members, such as centrist Mark Warner of Virginia, are also said to be on board with the package, which would be paid for by increased taxes on those making more than $400,000 a year and on large corporations. If all Senate Dems agree to the final bill and no more than 4 Democrats defect in the House, the measure could be adopted under Senate Reconciliation rules with a simple majority vote without the need for any Republicans.

Passage of that package, along with adoption of the smaller bipartisan nearly $600 billion proposal recently hashed out among moderate Senators on more traditional infrastructure spending, such as for roads and bridges, would amount to a massive victory for Democrats (presuming Republicans do not renege on their part of the agreement) and, more importantly, for jobs, families the climate and the American people as a whole. It would be the largest such spending package since the New Deal. We walk through some of the reported details of the new reconciliation package and what it may mean for Americans before the 2022 mid-term elections.

And, speaking of elections, earlier this year we reported on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC)'s secret and unlawful meetings last year with voting system vendors, as discovered by SUSAN GREENHALGH, longtime election integrity advocate and Senior Advisor on Election Security at the non-partisan government watchdog group, Free Speech for People (FSFP). As she revealed at the time, the EAC's meetings, even with vendors, are all supposed to be public, according to the federal Help American Vote Act (HAVA). Her group was forced to sue to make the EAC cough up emails and other records detailing the secret vendor meetings. Most disturbingly, the EAC's Commissioners made alarming changes to newly drafted voting system certification guidelines just after those meetings.

The EAC is the federal agency responsible for creating certification guidelines for the nation's voting and tabulation systems. After a painstaking 5-year process in public consultation with technical advisors and other experts, the final draft of the much-needed and long-awaited Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG) 2.0 was released last year. It included, among other important elements, a ban on wireless modems in voting and tabulation systems. Cybersecurity experts applauded the provision, after long warning of the dangers of such devices in systems that register, record and tabulate the nation's votes.

After the EAC's secret meetings with voting system vendors last year, however, the agency weakened the new guidelines --- removing, for instance, the ban against wireless modems --- and revealed an amended, watered-down version just days before Commissioners voted for final approval of the new standards. Experts were stunned. Now Greenhalgh's FSFP is suing the EAC again, along with co-plaintiff Philip Stark, an elections expert from UC-Berkeley and a member of the EAC's own Board of Advisors (as well as a recent guest on this program). The complaint [PDF] calls for the EAC to roll back the last minute changes made to the guidelines after they secretly met with the voting system manufacturers.

Greenhalgh joins us to explain all of this latest madness, what it could mean for election security, why the EAC made these changes and continue to roll over for the vendors they are supposed to be regulating, and to discuss the perils of the woeful EAC's under-handed changes at a time when cyberattacks are on the rise and confidence in election results (justifiably or not) is plummeting.

"Rather than being an independent source of information regarding voting systems, the EAC is going to the vendors to ask them the questions and understand how the systems work. And, of course, the vendors aren't going to say, 'Yeah, this is highly insecure, we shouldn't be doing this,'" Greenhalgh explains.

"It's mind blowing to me," Greenhalgh tells me, when I ask if the EAC Commissioners fully understand the security risks involved in allowing the modems that vendors want in their systems (for reasons she also explains.) "You would think they'd want to err on the side of caution, they would want to err on the side of security. And if there was a good reason to allow this, then why not have this process out in the open where they can make the case to the public as to why 'we think this is a secure way to go.'? Instead they did the whole thing behind closed doors, in a super shady manner. Doesn't engender a lot of confidence." 

Finally today, in addition to the Dems' massive new infrastructure proposal announced on Tuesday night, Senate Democrats also unveiled a long-overdue, landmark proposal to finally legalize cannabis at the federal level. That bill, however, will require some Republicans to come aboard for passage, so we'll see how it goes...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Dr. Brian Hughes of American University's PERIL; Also: Criminal charges soon for Trump Org?; DoJ sues GA for vote suppression; More on climate change effects on collapsed FL high-rise...
By Brad Friedman on 6/25/2021 6:30pm PT  

As usual in this country, we're dealing with the crisis all wrong. Violent domestic extremism --- domestic terrorism --- has become a public-health issue in this country, according to our guest today on The BradCast. If we treat it as such, it may not become the security problem that we're currently treating it as. We're good at law enforcement and security issues in this country. Public-health issues? Not so much. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up today, a few breaking news stories of note...

  • Several news outlets this afternoon are confirming that Donald Trump's family business could face criminal charges as soon as next week. Not Trump himself --- yet --- or his family members or other employees, but the Trump Organization itself. New York Times was first to report that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance could file criminal indictments next week against the Trump Organization, based on fringe benefits given to employees, such as expensive apartments, cars and school tuition for employee family members on which taxes were not properly paid. The Trump Org's CFO Allen Weisselberg and possibly his son, who also work for the company, seem to be targeted here. Both Vance and New York Attorney General Letitia James have been investigating whether the disgraced former President committed bank and tax fraud and whether he committed campaign finance felonies with hush-money payments to two different women before the 2016 election. It's believed that prosecutors are hoping that the company's longtime financial chief, Weisselberg, will flip against his boss. These charges are likely part of that effort.
  • Also today, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the filing of a federal lawsuit against the state of Georgia over it's expansive new voter-suppression law, SB202. Seven non-profit voting and civil rights organizations have filed separate complaints (including one, filed by the Coalition for Good Governance, in which I am a named plaintiff). But the big guns of a federal lawsuit by the DOJ suggest that the Biden Administration is taking seriously the spate of new laws being adopted by GOP-controlled legislatures around the country aimed at making it harder for Americans --- specifically, minorities --- to vote. Comments from Garland and his deputies in the Voting Rights Division today, when announcing the legal action, suggest there may be more such suits against other states coming soon as well.
  • Finally, before we get to our guest today, some additional information on a question we posed yesterday, as to whether rising seas due to human-caused climate change may have played a part in the tragic, deadly collapse of a 12-story high-rise condominium in Surfside, Florida near Miami Beach on Thursday. A number of experts have hinted at the possibility over the past 24 hours since our last show. One is a professor at the Florida International University’s Institute of Environment, speaking to CNN, citing the building's subsidence rate (how much it is sinking into the ground) during a study in the 1990s. And NBC News spoke to a number of experts who cited the towns along the sandy, reclaimed wetlands barrier island on which Miami Beach and Surfside stand --- an island which, we now understand, actually migrates and moves along with rising sea levels. One geologist quoted suggests that the necessity of a coastal retreat from barrier islands --- where currently $3 trillion worth of property is now located in the U.S. --- may soon be upon us. "It’s a tough conversation to have, but the building shouldn’t have been there --- along with a lot of other buildings," he says. "We’re due for a real awakening."

Next, it's on to the rise in violent domestic extremism, particularly fostered by White Supremacy in the wake of Donald Trump's presidency and the deadly, Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. After Republicans reneged on a deal with House Democrats to form an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the 1/6 attack, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week announced plans to create a House Select Committee to get to the root cause of what happened and why. During a House hearing this week, the nation's highest ranking military leader, Gen. Mark Milley, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, offered an impassioned response to criticism of interest in Critical Race Theory among military leadership, and the causes of "white rage", in which he spoke to the importance of learning "what is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America."

Our guest today, DR. BRIAN HUGHES of American University's Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab (PERIL), suggests Pelosi and Milley and "the Biden Administration's proposal for how to tackle domestic terrorism and extremism points in the right direction." Hughes' colleague, Cynthia Miller-Idriss, also of PERIL, recently penned an op-ed at The Atlantic arguing that far-right domestic extremism has now spread into the mainstream, and must be dealt with as more than simply a security and law-enforcement issue. It is no longer a matter of tracking specific organizations, but now a matter of radicalization by individuals "who are influenced by ideas online rather than by plots hatched by group leaders in secret gatherings," Miller-Idriss posits. It is now a public-health issue, she argues, and must be dealt with by a whole-of-society approach.

"We, as a society, are incredibly militarized, we're incredibly securitized, and so the solutions that we reach to, when we have a problem, are almost inevitably securitized or militarized and  contain some element of that securitization," Hughes explains today. "Our approach to extremism and terrorism is no different.  Certainly law enforcement and intelligence have a very important role to play here.  But it can never be more than a band-aid solution. As we see now, there aren't enough band-aids in the world to deal with the violence that this country is facing.  We really have to go deeper to the root causes of these issues."

Hughes cites the Biden Administration's proposal to incorporate the Dept. of Health and Human Services and the Dept. of Education into their initiative to take on violent extremism as "really, really critical. But even more critical is allocating resources to local communities.  The more locally we can distribute the necessary training, the necessary education, and the necessary funding to address radicalization before it even starts, the fewer of those security, and law enforcement, and militarized solutions that we're going to have to come up with in the future."

As we delve into details, we discuss ways that state and local communities must take on the issue as well. (The "seven minutes of reading to improve understanding of how radical ideas spread online," which we discuss as having helped some 750 parents and caregivers in a recent study by PERIL and the Southern Poverty Law Center is posted here.) We also discuss the paradox of how coming to a collective understanding of the effects of systemic racism in the U.S., as well as actions taken by social media companies to help curb the effectiveness of propaganda and far-right radicalism, can also serve to increase the "white rage" that new policies and new ways of facing this as a public-health issue are meant to counteract.

Hughes also shares his experience in working with former extremists and the "deep, deep sense of shame" and "horror" they ultimately experience after they come to terms with having been radicalized. "It just tears families apart. It absolutely ruins relationships as surely as drugs and alcohol do. This isn't just a matter of a person becoming a jerk. This is a question of a person blowing up their own life and the lives of the people around them." All of which is just part of the reason why we must rethink our approach to the problem as one of public-health.

As Hughes concedes, none of this is "going to change overnight," but there are ways that we can start taking action right now, particularly at the local level, where he urges people to get involved with their local school systems on this matter in order to prevent the radicalization long before it begins. "Request this kind of education, request these kinds of materials. Education happens at the local level in the United States, so it's really on all of us to improve things in our local communities."

I hope you'll tune in for this fascinating and insightful conversation...

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Also: Juneteenth now a federal holiday! And SCOTUS allows religious discrimination against same-sex couples, but it could have been worse...
By Brad Friedman on 6/17/2021 6:43pm PT  

The news just isn't slowing down in these "slow news days of summer". At least not on today's BradCast. But at least much of that news is actually good, including more progress today toward protecting democracy in the U.S., as per the shifting whims of Lord and Senator Joe Manchin. [Audio link to full program follows below this summary.]

Among the many stories covered on today's news-chocked program...

  • Who says Congress can't move something quickly when they want to? Juneteenth, commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S. in 1865 --- albeit at least two and a half years after it was supposed to have ended with the Emancipation Proclamation, is now an official federal holiday. President Biden signed the new law for our nation's 12th federal holiday on Thursday, after the U.S. House overwhelmingly adopted the measure on Wednesday (with all but 14 shameful, white, male Republicans voting in favor), after unanimous passage in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday. Since June 19thfalls on a Saturday this year, the new holiday will officially be observed tomorrow! That was fast! See? Congress CAN move quickly when they try! Unless you consider the hundreds of years of slavery in this country and the more than 150 years it took for a holiday to commemorate its final end. Never mind that comment earlier about Congress moving "quickly."
  • The latest attempt by shameful white, male Republicans to kill the popular Affordable Care Act (better known as ObamaCare) was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court today. The law has helped tens of millions of Americans obtain access to heath care, and hundreds of millions more Americans by, among other things, making it unlawful for insurance companies to reject customers due to pre-existing conditions. The stupid attempt by a bunch of GOP-Controlled states to find the entire bill unconstitutional was rejected by SCOTUS today with a 7 to 2 vote, after finding the states represented by white, male Republicans were not harmed by the law and, therefore, had no standing to challenge it. That, after a series of white, male Republican lower court judges had used a ridiculous claim made by the GOP states --- and countered by the actions of REPUBLICANS in Congress themselves(!) --- to strike down the entirely of the landmark 2010 law as unconstitutional. We explain how this third attempt to have SCOTUS do what Congress would not, has gone down, yet again, in flames.
  • Meanwhile, the fight to pass federal voting rights protections to counter new GOP voter-suppression laws at the state level moved one small step forward again today. Yesterday, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin --- the only Dem in the Senate who is not a co-sponsor of the sweeping election and campaign reform bill known as the For the People Act (even though he co-sponsored the same legislation in 2019) --- offered a compromise proposal [PDF] for the bill that he recently declared that he opposed. As we discussed on yesterday's show, his compromise proposal is not horrible and Dems should work quickly to get some version of it to a floor vote! UC-Irvine's election law expert Rick Hasen last night penned a column at Slate which sounded almost exactly like our coverage yesterday, urging Dems to leap at this opportunity, with his first paragraph arguing: "Democrats should grab the deal, even though it is not perfect, is still unlikely to pass, and doesn’t yet address the greatest threat in upcoming elections: the danger of election subversion."

    As we discuss today, the original For the People Act, already passed by the House, doesn't "address...the danger of election subversion" either, as that danger is being baked into GOP voter suppression bills around the country, allowing Republican state Legislatures to reverse election results for virtually any reason they like. We explain why Hasen's argument --- at least on that one narrow point --- is a bit misleading, while he is otherwise right on the money.

    At the same time, Georgia's voting rights champion Stacey Abrams has also come out in favor of Manchin's compromise proposal and speaks, as we did yesterday, to the concerns that some may have about Manchin's inclusion of a "Voter ID" provision. She explains, as we did, that his provision on Voter ID is not really a huge concern --- as some Dems and/or voting rights advocates may view it --- in that Manchin's proposal allows other means for voters to identify themselves beyond a strict, small, very limited list of acceptable Photo IDs. He cites, for example, "utility bill, etc." as acceptable means of identification to vote, in line with the already-existing rules in a majority of states. Such reasonable requirements that do not prevent voters from voting are a far cry from the strict Photo ID restrictions adopted by some GOP states meant not to prevent fraud, but to prevent voting (by certain people who may lack the specific type of ID that Republicans are purposely requiring in hopes of disenfranchising them.)

    Of course, even if all 50 Senate Dems come to an agreement on a version of For the People that they can accept, it would still require 10 Republicans coming on board in the Senate to defeat a GOP filibuster. As that remains a virtual impossibility, reform of the filibuster would still be needed for passage of this bill, and, unfortunately Manchin leads the opposition on that as well. However, as a recording of a Zoom teleconference with the so-called "centrist" group No Labels (actually a big money conservative Dem and moderate-ish Republican business group) reveals, Manchin is not quite as against filibuster reform as he has made out publicly, at least when he is not speaking to big money business donors. Lee Fang and Ryan Grim from The Intercept obtained audio from that Zoom session, wherein Manchin suggests his potential openness to lowering the filibuster threshold from 60 to 55, or to force a 41 person minority to stand up and make their case against a bill they oppose and explain what they object to, rather than require those in favor of the bill to come up with 60 votes.

    Again, more progress. Too slow, to be sure --- especially with the dangers of the 2022 mid-terms looming --- but progress nonetheless, which those claiming to be progressives should certainly be in favor of!

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report which, like the rest of today's show, is simply chocked full of news, both good and bad, as the fight against our ongoing climate emergency continues...

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Guest: 30-year former Leon County, FL elections chief, Ion Sancho; Also: L.A. County records zero COVID deaths two days in row while California infection, hospitalization, death rates fall dramatically...
By Brad Friedman on 5/4/2021 6:21pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we're happy to begin with just about the best news we could expect to stumble across these days. Happily, not everything goes down hill from there. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

There has been a stunning drop in COVID infections, hospitalization and death numbers in California. Just 15 deaths were reported on Monday across the entire state of 40 million people. Perhaps even more incredibly, ZERO deaths were reported in all of Los Angeles County --- the most populous in the nation, with 10 million people --- on either Sunday or Monday. We have not had two straight days here without COVID deaths in this County since the pandemic began in mid-March of 2020. Officials caution, however, that some of the drop in numbers could be due to slow reporting over the weekend.

Still, the Golden State is certainly doing something right, as both the state and L.A. County also clock in with among the lowest test positivity rates in the nation. Moreover, Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Monday that COVID-related hospitalizations are at their lowest, by far, since the pandemic began. (And, keep in mind that state Republicans are citing his handling of the pandemic as reason he should be recalled from office.)

But while California also has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country, like the rest of the nation, the number of shots being administered has fallen off sharply of late. Today, President Biden announced a plan to increase vaccine numbers, targeting adults who need more convincing; those who have struggled with availability; and, after expected FDA approval next week, adolescents aged 12 to 15. His new goal is deliver at least one dose to 70% of American adults by July 4th.

At the same time, the American Rescue Plan (adopted by Democrats in Congress without one single vote from any Republican) will now cover paid days off to get shots, as well as for the number of days needed to recover from them. The ARP has also dramatically lowered monthly health care premiums for those receiving federal subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). With, so far, wildly successful programs like the $1.9 trillion ARP, and hoped for passage of massive jobs and care bills like the proposed $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan and $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, which Repubs have vowed to obstruct as well, is it any wonder they hope to simply block grateful voters from being able to cast a vote at all in next year's elections?

Last week, on the heels of similar measures in states like Georgia and Iowa, GOP state lawmakers in Florida adopted yet another sweeping voter restriction bill, even after claiming a wildly successful and secure election in 2020, when Donald Trump won the state by 3 points. The new bill --- passed in the Senate last week on Florida's Confederate Memorial Day --- is expected to target new voters, younger voters and, specifically, African American voters. It restricts mail-in voting after GOP lawmakers had spent decades expanded it in Florida. To their chagrin, apparently, after years of no-excuse absentee voting being predominantly used by Republicans (including Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis last year), more Democrats than GOPers took advantage of the option during the 2020 election. Therefore, it must be cut back. With the Sunshine State's traditionally close statewide elections, GOP lawmakers went to work. Senate Bill 90 now requires long-time mail-in voters request such ballots every single election cycle. It mandates new ID requirements for even requesting such ballots, severely restricts the use of absentee drop-boxes, and adds many other restrictive measures, such as a provision to prevent the distribution of food or water to voters waiting in long lines in the hot Florida sun.

While some Republicans are now reportedly concerned that the measure may prevent many of their own voters from casting a vote, our guest today has an additional serious concern with SB90. We're joined again today by former 30-year Leon County (Tallahassee) elections chief, ION SANCHO, who cites the way this bill --- and others being adopted by GOPers around the country --- specifically targets elections officials with threats of job loss and fines. The Florida bill, in fact, authorizes a personal, $25,000 fine against County Supervisors of Elections (who are elected in the Sunshine State) for failing, in any way, to follow every provision of the state's ever-changing elections code, even in cases of emergencies that otherwise might prevent voters from being able to cast their ballots.

"The larger, unstated thing here that, quite frankly, bothers me the most --- not only about Florida, Georgia, Iowa or Arkansas, you name it, it's happening in Republican-dominated legislatures --- is the fact that this is an attack on non-partisan, professional elections administration, all across the country," Sancho tells me. "It didn't begin in 2020, but 2020 has clearly lit the fuse."

In addition to noting that SB 90 has "made it more difficult for ALL citizens to request a vote-by-mail ballot," Sancho observes that all of the new, unnecessary measures are "providing more hoops to jump through for citizens." But, in particular, he cites, "best practices for elections are being thrown out by Republican legislatures, who are now inserting themselves much more directly into the elections process --- a reversal of the trend that we saw in the latter half of the 20th century when citizens demanded fairer elections. The trend to try to professionalize and get a higher class of election officials that act on a fair and non-partisan basis, that's what's being attacked in all of this legislation. That's what's got me concerned."

All of it, he opines, is part of "The Big Lie" (Trump's unsubstantiated claims of massive fraud in the 2020 election he lost) now being used as cover to pass these new restrictions. "In fact, it is Gov. DeSantis, not the ex-President, who is pushing for these changes in Florida. He's on the ballot [in 2022], and the fact that a million and a half more citizens have registered to vote by mail as Democrats than Republicans has caused this attack on vote-by-mail balloting. Gov. DeSantis is, I will tell you, far sharper than our ex-President.  In my opinion, more vile, because he understands what he's doing. I'm not sure the ex-President did."

Sancho --- who was so well respected by his peers in Florida that he was selected by them to oversee Florida's eventually aborted statewide Presidential recount in 2000 --- also confirms that in that same year, Republicans sent absentee ballot applications to every single Republican in the state. Now, they are trying to shut down much of the entire process that made voting easier there, even for many of their own voters. "This continual erosion is, in my view, disgraceful, disgusting, and un-American. But it's happened, and we have to deal with this."

We have much to discuss on that front on today's program.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report, which, much as our program began, finishes things off with quite a bit of surprisingly very good news, this time for climate hawks...

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Also: Special election goes poorly for Dems in TX; The musical Marsh Family brighten our pandemic; Callers ring in on second shots...
By Brad Friedman on 5/3/2021 6:54pm PT  

After getting our second COVID vaccine shots on Friday, we return for today's BradCast. For Desi, it was mostly a breeze. For me, just a few hours after taking the photo at right, as discussed on today's show, it was a bit of a nightmare (if a worthwhile one) --- as explained today along with some special election news out of Texas and some disturbing exclusive information out of the 2020 election "audit" theater being carried out by Trump supporters in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

First up, news out of the Saturday special election in Texas' 6th Congressional District for a U.S. House seat left vacant by Republican Congressman Ron Wright, who died from COVID last December. His widow, Susan Wright, was the top vote-getter in the 23-person, all-parties race. And another Republican, GOP fundraiser and state Rep. Jake Ellzey reportedly came in second, narrowly edging out Democrat Jana Lynne Sanchez by less than half a percentage point. Sanchez conceded on Sunday in the contest where most votes were cast at polling places on 100 percent unverifiable touchscreens and none of the candidates came close to the 50 percent mark that they'd need to beat to avoid an upcoming runoff election for the seat. Dems hopes of expanding their narrow majority in the U.S. House were dashed with the loss in the mostly rural, reliably Republican district south of Dallas.

While there were no challenges to the unverifiable results in Texas with two Republicans winning, Trump supporters in Arizona continue their tax-payer funded [PDF], but privately-run "audit" of 2.1 million hand-marked paper ballots in Maricopa County, as we discussed last week in detail on the show with two experienced election auditors who had rare access inside the secret counting at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, while media were locked out. Late last week, in response to a state judge's order, the Florida tech firm --- a group named Cyber Ninjas, with no experience in either elections or voting systems, who were retained by the GOP-majority state Senate to carry out this unprecedented "audit" --- revealed a 191-page document [PDF] supposedly detailing their recount and forensic audit procedures. (Though in fact, as we also report, these procedures have been changed many times since the "audit" began over a week ago.)

Many questions, such as why they are running ballots through a UV light, are not answered by the documents, which the far-right group, whose leader has claimed last year's Presidential election was stolen (without offering actual evidence to support the claim), attempted to keep concealed as "trade secrets".

Other information was revealed, however, such as the group's process for tallying ballots which, as I explain today, would actually allow the group to add (yes, steal) a minimum of 42,000 votes for Trump, without ever raising any alarms or red flags in the group's internal procedures. That, in race that was decided statewide for Joe Biden by just over 10,000 votes.

Worse, because the Ninjas are keeping all of their daily counts and tally sheets secret from the public, there will be no way to know at the end of the process (if they even finish before they must leave their rented venue on May 14), how they actually derived their numbers or if they, in any way, match up with what the paid counters actually tallied.

In short, we support any citizens being allowed to examine ballots to determine if elections are accurately tabulated --- even extreme partisans. But their are rules that need to be minded to assure integrity of that process as well. The process currently under way in AZ is a joke. It is election "audit" theater. That's because there is zero real oversight by the public in place. And the state GOP Senate has forced the County Board of Supervisors (4 Rs and 1 D, who all opposed this privatized, tax-payer funded charade) to give up secure control of the actual ballots to the Ninjas, who could now do anything they want to them.

And while the documents are short on details on the group's actual tallying procedures, they are long on concerns about how "Antifa" might use extreme violence to attack the venue with firebombs and chemical weapons. Seriously. That's who these people are and how they think.

Finally, it was a looong weekend for me, after suffering from a couple of days of seemingly endless chills, fever and pounding headaches after receiving my second Moderna shot on Friday. For Desi, beyond a few mild aches and pains, it was a breeze. Still, it was in those horrible, fever dream moments that I came to appreciate how important it was for everyone to get their shots anyway. I knew I was lucky enough that whatever I was going through would not, in fact, be "endless", as it has been for so many unfortunate people who contracted the actual virus. So, I tell some truths about both what I went through (which media too often downplay), and why that made me happy --- not upset --- to have gone through it...and why you should too.

Also today, we share one of the great "parody" songs by the Marsh Family in Great Britain, who have become a bit of a sensation during the pandemic in the UK. Today's song is a beautiful, moving yet amusing take off on Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, directed toward vaccine skeptics, called Have the New Jab. I liken this adorable family to the Family Von Trapp of Sound of Music fame!

And then we open up the phone lines to listeners who have recently had their 2nd jabs, to hear how things went for them, and if it was more like my experience or Desi's...

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Guests: Salon's Heather Digby Parton, Pro Left Podcast's 'Driftglass'...
By Brad Friedman on 4/29/2021 5:46pm PT  

Last month on The BradCast, after Joe Biden signed his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan with emergency COVID relief and stimulus for the poor and middle class, we suggested that passage of that bill would likely be seen in history as the beginning of the end of the Reagan Era. Now, it appears, we're hardly the only ones. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Since that wildly popular landmark measure was adopted (without a single Republican vote), Biden has proposed a $2.25 trillion infrastructure package called the American Jobs Plan. And, on Wednesday night, he officially introduced his $1.8 trillion American Families Plan proposal for perhaps the nation's largest-ever investment in human infrastructure, including free access to pre-school, two years of community college, subsidies for child care, paid family leave, expanded health care subsidies and child tax credits and much more.

With Reaganesque optimism during his first address to a joint session of Congress, citing a statistic published in a report by one of our guests earlier this year (Chuck Collins of the Institute for Policy Studies) finding that just 650 billionaires in America saw their own net worth increase by a trillion dollars as 20 million Americans lost jobs during the pandemic, the President pounded what could become a final nail in the Reagan Era coffin, declaring: "My fellow Americans, trickle down economics has never worked and it's time to grow the economy from the bottom and the middle out."

We're joined today, on Biden's 100th day as President, by HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo, and by 'DRIFTGLASS' of the The Professional Left Podcast, for analysis of his stunningly-well received remarks (even by Republicans) on Wednesday night and his pitch for an extraordinarily bold and long-overdue government investment in the American people.

Says Digby, on how we arrived at this moment: "We've just been reminded that we need government, because look what happened. We had this pandemic and having the freak show that had been sort of entertaining like a horror show for the last four years, it suddenly became pretty clear what the problem was with that. Because when you really need government, it wasn't there. They were completely out to lunch. For a lot of people in this country, they're out their floundering under this trickle-down, rugged individualism. This is what it's like when you're left completely on your own."

Says Driftglass, mocking GOP rhetoric of the past forty years: "If you're not rich, it's your own fault, and the only thing standing in the way of being the best you is this evil government. [But] suddenly, a whole bunch of people absolutely have to have assistance from the government or their going to die, or go broke, or they're going to go out of business.  And the only thing Republicans had to offer was a sneer...So, there's this literally once-in-a-hundred years crisis, where the actual effect of good government is so visible, right now, that you can now make the case credibly that there are other large problems that we have ignored and disinvested in for decades that we need to fix."

Even for longtime, cynical, old-school progressive bloggers like us --- none of whom had supported Biden during last year's primaries --- we are all pleasantly taken aback at his remarkably ambitious plans and expansive proposed agenda. We discuss, dissect and debate all of that, how it should or shouldn't be "paid for", and whether any of it can possibly be adopted into law with the exceedingly narrow majorities Democrats currently hold in Congress on today's special coverage edition of The BradCast...

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Guest: Slate legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Biden soaring in polls, young voters hopeful again about the future...
By Brad Friedman on 4/23/2021 6:27pm PT  

Today on The BradCast, a very ominous sign from the U.S. Supreme Court. Very. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

On Thursday, the Court issued a 6 to 3 opinion in Jones v. Mississippi, which shatters years of established Court precedent that had prevented minors from being charged with life in prison without the possibility of parole in all but the most extraordinary circumstances, and where a judge has specifically made a rare finding that the juvenile's "crimes reflect permanent incorrigibility."

But the ruling by the Court this week --- in a case where a boy, Brett Jones, who had turned 15 days earlier, grew up as "the victim of violence and neglect that he was too young to escape," before snapping and killing one of his abusers just after he had abruptly lost access to the medication he took for mental health issues --- is appalling for a host of reasons.

Not only because, at 31 years old, Jones has since become a reformed, model prisoner in every regard (even the widow of his victim has urged the court for his release); Not only for the 6 to 3 majority decision by all 6 Republicans appointed to the stolen and packed Court; Not only for the opinion itself which will consign more than 1,500 others who committed crimes as children to dying in prison; Not only for the fact that this particular opinion was written for the majority by Justice Brett "What I did when I was young doesn't matter" Kavanaugh (of all people!); Not only for the fact that the decision overturns long-standing, painstaking Court precedents developed over several cases throughout the years; Not only for the fact that the majority simply pretend they did not overturn established legal precedent at all; And not only for the fact that Justice Sotomayor was forced to call the majority out for all of that in the starkest, most savage terms on behalf of the minority (charging the majority "is fooling no one" and "distorts [the precedential cases] beyond recognition", even as she specifically quotes Kavanaugh's very own prior statements on the importance of respecting established legal precedent); But, most troublingly, also for what it may portend in the weeks ahead, much less the years ahead, unless Democrats can quickly, at this point, figure out that they better come to their senses and figure out how to reform the U.S. Supreme Court before we see a boatload of similarly long-held precedents in even more disturbing cases, being completely trashed and overturned by this newly emboldened rightwing Court.

We're joined today by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, our go-to Supreme Court correspondent from Slate, to discuss not only the Jones v. MS case itself, but what we should glean --- and none of it is good --- from how it has just played out before our eyes, now that the stolen majority on the Court has a full three Donald Trump appointees packed onto it.

As the newly emboldened rightwing activist Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court this week merely pretended precedent didn't exist, by essentially adopting dissenting views from the several cases that created the precedents, a newly emboldened rightwing state Supreme Court majority in Florida did something very similar. Stern also reports on that case, concerning a people's ballot initiative on recreational marijuana in the Sunshine State, which also underscores the long GOP Big Lies that they oppose judicial activism or Big Government tyranny.

With those outrages --- and what they portend for an era of rightwing judicial activism this week --- we also discuss the new proposal by Democrats in the House and Senate to expand SCOTUS from 9 Justices to 13, and the "kick-the-can-down-the-road" bipartisan Presidential Commission empaneled by Joe Biden to "study" the idea of reform for both SCOTUS and the federal judiciary as a whole.

Stern closes with a heads up --- a stark warning, in truth --- as to the big decisions still to come from the Court before the session ends in June, on the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare"); foster care by same-sex couples; and a clearly unconstitutional new abortion law (also out of Mississippi) in light of Thursday's appalling decision in Jones v. MS, which Stern categorizes as both "barbaric" and "one of the most dishonest and cynical decisions in recent memory."

Finally, in hopes of leaving you with some slightly brighter news after such a foreboding, grim report from SCOTUS and Stern, we've got some encouraging new polling numbers for Joe Biden. But, much more importantly, from young people who, for the first time in many years, and in rather substantial (even record) numbers across all races, are beginning to feel hopeful about the future again, as they see government as an ally on issues of poverty, combating climate change and on health care.

Hopefully none of them tune in for the earlier part of today's program...

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Guest host Nicole Sandler with Rep. Ted Deutch, journalist Ryan Grim...
By Nicole Sandler on 4/16/2021 8:10pm PT  

NICOLE SANDLER here, once again guest hosting The BradCast. I'm numb today, as there was yet another mass shooting overnight. This one was at a Fed Ex facility in Indianapolis. The shooter, a 19-year old former employee, killed eight people before turning the gun on himself.

That follows another cop killing another Black kid, another school shooting, and another mass shooting before that…all within the last few weeks. And that's a non-exhaustive list.

I live in Coral Springs, FL. We're next door to Parkland, with whom we share Fire and Police departments. Obviously, we know from mass shootings down here.

My congressman is TED DEUTCH. Since the massacre of 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School three years ago, Congressman Deutch has really stepped up his game on trying to do something about our national gun problem.

He was a guest on my own show Monday, and given the latest swarm of shootings, I thought that would be a good segment to include today.

Yesterday, I awoke to a story at The Intercept from RYAN GRIM, who reported that a group of progressive members of Congress were going to, on Friday, introduce a plan to expand the Supreme Court from its current nine members to 13. He joins us today to put that story into context, to explain why the PRO Act is so important, and a bit about the possibility of DC statehood anytime soon.

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Wherein Brad and Desi get their first dose; COVID cases surge again, particularly among the young; The U.S. tops its record for vaccine distribution in a race with deadly new variants; And listeners ring in with their own experiences and concerns on all of the above...
By Brad Friedman on 4/5/2021 5:31pm PT  

Both Desi and I, as seen in the photo, got our first COVID vaccine shots over the weekend! It was on the same day that a record 4 million Americans also received shots. And it was, in various ways, both revelatory and relieving as discussed on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows summary below.]

There are additional signs today that there is, indeed, light at the end of the COVID tunnel (and that the light is not an oncoming train, as Desiree often warns!), but there are also serious concerns as confirmed infection rates are back on the rise in more than 30 states, including some where it's absolutely spiking in recent weeks.

Overall, cases rose more than 5% in the past week in the U.S., even as testing declined by 13%. We have significantly better news in that the new daily death rate has fallen by some 20% over the past week, but COVID-related hospitalizations are once again on the rise. That's usually followed by an increase in deaths.

Moreover, there have been some very disturbing spikes in cases of younger people becoming hospitalized in recent weeks in several states, as we are now in a race to distribute vaccine quickly enough to avoid allowing for deadlier and more transmissible variants to develop.

As it has been a while, and as I'm in a reasonable good mood after Moderna #1 over the weekend, today seemed a good day to open up the phones to listeners to hear about how their own experiences getting vaccinated --- or trying to --- has been going and how it has gone for them. (I experienced mild fatigue for a day or so. Desi felt pretty much nothing.) And, for those listeners who do not plan to get a vaccine for some reason, we're open to hearing why would be.

Lots of different calls today made for another lively BradCast! Please give it a listen!...

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Guest: Sarah Repucci of Freedom House; Also: Senate passes Biden's very progressive $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill; SCOTUS rejects last of Trump's 2020 election challenges...
By Brad Friedman on 3/8/2021 6:44pm PT  

It's not only in the U.S. where democracy is now under attack. Unfortunately, as discussed with our guest on today's BradCast, when freedom and democracy begin to collapse here, it gets even worse everywhere else. [Audio link to show follows below this summary.]

But, first up today, a quick word or two on Harry and Meghan (because in case you thought a parliamentary monarchy was a better idea than our representative democracy....well, that's not working out so well either these days.)

Very good news out of Congress, however, where the U.S. Senate finally passed Joe Biden's massive $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan over the weekend. Sadly, it was adopted 50-49 without a single Republican vote. The wildly popular measure provides critical relief across a whole bunch of sectors, with, as the New York Times describes, it "the principle Democrats and liberal economists have espoused over the past decade: that the best way to stoke faster economic growth is from the bottom up."  We go through many of the details of this major relief and stimulus plan that both Democrats and progressives should be damned proud of. Hopefully they remember to sing its praises between now and November of 2022, at the very least.  While the bill was changed marginally in the Senate after House passage (in some ways, it was even made more progressive!), it remained pretty much the same bold plan as initially proposed. It is, as many have described it, the most progressive relief bill ever passed by both Houses of Congress.

Democrats, by and large, seem to have figured out that it's ridiculous to negotiate with themselves in order to win the fool's errand of receiving Republican votes, when they ain't coming on board for anything Democrats in power favor, no matter how popular the measure is with their own Republican constituents (very!) or how many of them it will actually help in myriad ways. The measure must be approved one more time in the House before it heads to the President's desk likely this week, followed by his signatures and then individual checks of $1,400 to most Americans, $3,600 for most children, new expansions to Obamacare to allow those with higher incomes to receive subsidies for health insurance premiums and much much more to get American and its economy and schools back open faster and safer.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Donald Trump lost Wisconsin yet again, as the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his appeal of a lower court ruling upholding the bipartisan Wisconsin Election Commission's handling of mail-in ballots in the 2020 election. And, with that, SCOTUS has now officially rejected every challenge to the 2020 election results brought by Trump and his MAGA Mob to the Republicans' stolen and packed high court.  Sadly, GOP state legislatures are now in the process of attempting to impose severe new restrictions on voting in multiple states, including by rolling back measures, for example, for no-excuse absentee voting in Georgia, that they themselves had previously enacted.

So the fight for democracy and voting rights continues. Sunday marked the 56th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march in Selma, Alabama, when civil rights icon, the late Rep. John Lewis and hundreds of others were beaten to a pulp by state troopers during a protest walk for voting voting rights across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. That violence at that 1965 march, witnessed live on television, resulted in President Johnson signing the landmark Voting Rights Act that year. In commemoration over the weekend, President Biden issued an executive order "to promote voting access to all all eligible Americans to participate in our democracy." The order, as the White House describes it, "will leverage the resources of the federal government to increase access to voter registration services and information about voting."

The effort comes not a moment too soon, unfortunately, as underscored by a new report out last week from Freedom House titled Freedom in the World 2021: Democracy under Siege. It finds, among other troubling things: "As a lethal pandemic, economic and physical insecurity, and violent conflict ravaged the world, democracy’s defenders sustained heavy new losses in their struggle against authoritarian foes, shifting the international balance in favor of tyranny."

Three-quarters of people in the world now live in countries where freedom and democracy are on the decline, according to the group's latest annual report. As Washington Post's coverage notes, "This year’s survey, published Wednesday, marked the 15th consecutive year of global democratic backsliding --- 'a long democratic recession,' in the organization’s words, that is 'deepening.'' Moreover, the United States dropped three rankings in this year's survey which, its co-author explains on today's show, has been carried out by the 80-year old, non-partisan, non-profit group every year since 1972.

We're joined today by Freedom House Vice President of Research and Analysis SARAH REPUCCI, who notes that while the report cites the "unprecedented attacks on one of the world’s most visible and influential democracies," with the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol in January, and that his "actions went unchecked by most lawmakers from his own party, with a stunning silence that undermined basic democratic tenets," the 1/6 insurrection attempt wasn't even considered as part of this year's rankings of 195 countries, since it occurred in 2021.

Moreover, Freedom House found the largest "democracy gap" (the number of countries that improved minus the number of countries that declined) in the report's history last year, which marked 15 years of decline by the group's measure.

Repucci explains the report's methodology, which areas of the world are now seen as most at risk, and how the decline in freedoms and democracy in the U.S. over the past 15 years --- particularly over the past decade --- have helped to encourage the grim turn for democratic movements across the globe in recent years. She also offers some key recommendations for how to turn things around in this country, including reform in a number of areas --- such as ending partisan gerrymandering and instituting campaign finance reform. Both of those items are central tenets of the critical H.R.1, or "For the People Act", an omnibus and long-overdue elections and ethics reform package that has now been adopted by the U.S. House but faces a Republican filibuster in the U.S. Senate at this time.

"What many of us have been witnessing here in the United States is part of this larger global trend," Repucci tells me. "We've been tracking 15 years of decline globally, and the US has been declining the last ten years. So this is not totally not new in the US, and it's definitely not new globally.  What we are seeing are declines across the board in very repressive settings and also in democracies and everything in between." She warns: "The main takeaway is that no country is safe from this. It's affecting all types and all regions. It's something that we need to take really seriously."

Finally today, the CDC has issued its first guidelines for those who are now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. The guidance, which we discuss, allows for, among other things, those who have been fully vaccinated to hang out indoors, in private settings, without masks or social distancing with others who have been fully vaccinated as well. So, there's just one more good reason to get a shot as soon as you can figure out how to get one (or two, as the case may be). So far, just under 10% of Americans have been fully vaccinated...

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Also: Brutal winter storm locks down TX, much of nation; Biden, Dems push ahead with progressive agenda; Callers ring in on Impeachment verdict and what must come next for disgraced former President...
By Brad Friedman on 2/15/2021 6:23pm PT  

Donald Trump was found guilty by a huge, bipartisan 57 to 43 verdict in the U.S. Senate of having incited the deadly, attempted January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. On discuss on today's BradCast, 7 Republican Senators joined all of the Democrats in that majority finding on Saturday, affirming that Trump attempted to overthrow the U.S. Government and the 2020 Presidential election. Nonetheless, due to the U.S. Constitution's requirement that a two-thirds vote of the Senate is needed to secure a conviction under the rules for Impeachment, our disgraced former President was "acquitted" of the charge he was found guilty of during his second Senate Impeachment Trial. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

We discuss what happened on Saturday in detail today, and take a bunch of calls from listeners on the matter. But first up, we cover the catastrophic winter storm --- featuring crippling snow, record cold and power outages for millions, particularly in Texas --- amid the ongoing COVID pandemic and attempt to distribute vaccinations to tens of millions of Americans. Native Texan Desi Doyen, co-host of our Green News Report, joins us to explain what's going on and why scientists tell us that it is happening.

Also, even while still on the Trump Accountability beat (as we've previously noted, this is going to take a while), we cover a bit of Biden Administration news today, including the quiet weekend withdrawal of Trump-era work requirements for Medicaid, as pushed and allowed to some states by the previous Administration, and the re-opening of the Healthcare.gov exchange to accommodate new "ObamaCare" signups during massive unemployment wrought by the pandemic. That, as the very popular American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief and stimulus package, moves toward passage with or without Republican support in the Senate and (thanks to pushback from the House Progressive Caucus) without the potential cuts to the promised $1,400 relief checks which Republicans and some of the more conservative Democrats were previously considering.

Though an occasional kick to the head is required, it does seem like --- at least for now --- Democrats are "getting it" when it comes to the nation's bipartisan desire for big and bold action from lawmakers in D.C. Even conservative Democratic Rep. Richie Neal, Chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, is now calling for new, monthly cash payments totaling $3,600 per year for every child under age 6, and $3,000 for children from 6 to 17. We hope Dems continue to offer the progressive policy the country yearns for, and we're glad to see progressives pushing Democrats when they need to.

Of course, Democrats have yet to learn all of the lessons they need to, as revealed by the Saturday snafu when House Impeachment Managers easily won a bipartisan vote to call witnesses at Trump's second Senate Impeachment Trial, only to cave shortly thereafter. There were arguably legitimate reasons to not call witnesses --- even if we would have preferred to see that happen. But to get everyone's hopes up, only to dash them --- without figuring out the concerns in advance --- was an inexcusable self own.

Nonetheless, Democrats won an historic 57-43 majority in the conviction votes, with an unheard of seven Senators from the opposing party joining all of the Democrats and independents in finding Trump guilty. Even the snake Mitch McConnell was forced to admit that, yes, Trump incited the violence at the Capitol. Though he still voted "not guilty", falsely and ridiculously claiming that it was unconstitutional to hold a trial after the impeached Executive Branch official was already out of office. His claims were even more grotesquely absurd given that he was the one that prevented the trial from happening while Trump was still in office.

So, what happens next? Will Trump ever face real accountability for his many crimes, including an attempt to overthrow the U.S. Government itself? If so, how, when and by whom? (Our own Ernie Canning has a few ideas today.) We discuss and open up the phone lines today to listeners to discuss that and other related matters on today's lively BradCast. Enjoy!

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GM to end production of gasoline cars and SUVs; Trump's economy paled next to Obama's; Biden reopens access to healthcare amid pandemic; MAGA terrorism and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene...
By Brad Friedman on 1/28/2021 6:42pm PT  
NOW CELEBRATING THE BRAD BLOG'S 17th ANNIVERSARY!
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Some pretty huge news on today's BradCast, for the American economy and for the continuing prospects for human civilization. So, yeah, pretty huge news. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

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

  • General Motors announced on Thursday that it will end the production of all gasoline and diesel powered cars and SUVs by 2035. The announcement signals a potential sea change (both figuratively and literally) in American automobile production --- and not a moment too soon;
  • That news comes on the heels of President Biden's ambitious climate action agenda announced on Wednesday, which includes plans to replace the entire federal fleet of about half a million cars with electric vehicles, fueling about a million new jobs in the industry, and a rapid move away from dangerous, dirty, expensive fossil fuels towards cheaper, cleaner renewable energy. He also called for a carbon emissions-free national power grid by 2035 and full carbon neutrality by 2050. Naturally, fossil fuel-captured Republican officials and Fox "News" dupes are freaking out about the bad news for their industry funders (even if it's great news for their constituents!);
  • The potential boost to jobs and the economy comes not a moment too soon, as federal government numbers released on Thursday reveal that 2020 saw the biggest collapse of the American economy since World War II. The numbers also signal the end of the longest economic expansion in U.S. history (11 years! Thanks, Obama!) and that the average annual GDP growth under President Obama far outpaced that of supposed business genius Donald Trump. Just like the last Republican President before him, Trump inherited a booming economy from a Democratic President and subsequently tanked it for the next Democratic President to have to clean up after him;
  • That next Democrat, President Biden, continued his Executive Order flurry on Thursday by rolling back Trump's efforts to prevent Americans from receiving healthcare coverage. Biden re-opened the Healthcare.gov exchange to allow millions of Americans who lost their jobs during the pandemic to obtain affordable health insurance, which Trump refused to do. (Did I mention we are still in the middle of the worst healthcare crisis in 100 years? Made even worse by the failures of the former President?);
  • Despite all of that --- a new Democratic President working to create millions of new, good paying jobs and provide healthcare and vaccines to all --- there are still a whole bunch of brain-poisoned MAGA wingnuts so misinformed that they are plotting to kill Democratic officials and overthrow the American government. One such brain-poisoned MAGA wingnut, freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), was recently discovered to have supported calls for Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton to be killed, and to have stalked and harassed a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre just weeks after the 2018 shooting in Parkland, Florida. She described him as a coward. Now, a Democratic Congressmember is calling for Greene to be expelled from the U.S. House;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen heroically --- in just six minutes! --- summarizes Biden's massive, landmark plan for climate action, as unveiled at the White House on Wednesday, in our latest Green News Report...

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Guest host Nicole Sandler with Carter Center chair Jason Carter and health insurance industry whistleblower Wendell Potter...
By Nicole Sandler on 11/13/2020 6:07pm PT  

What a day this has been! And what a day for Brad & Desi to take off. But I've got it covered. It's NICOLE SANDLER, back to guest host today's edition of the BradCast. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Things got interesting last night, when CNN finally called Arizona for Biden, and the snowball started rolling. By mid-day Friday, CNN also called Georgia for Biden and North Carolina for Trump, dispensing with the last two races still to be settled. Their final tally: Biden 306 electoral college votes to Trump's 232. The other news organizations quickly followed, and Trump now appears to be toast.

But Georgia is still doing an audit/recount, as Brad explained in detail earlier this week. Apparently, this was going to happen regardless of the outcome. I learned that when I spoke with JASON CARTER, Chair of the Board of Trustees of The Carter Center, which is observing the audit. This is the first time the Carter Center has jumped into US elections, as our practice of employing different voting systems in each state does not meet the Center's criteria for their election observer program.

This afternoon, Donald Trump spoke publicly for the first time since Nov. 4 at 2:30am when, in a very strange moment, he declared himself the winner of the race. Today, the White House announced he was going to talk about progress toward a coronavirus vaccine. Of course, all the networks took the feed live because surely he'd mention the election he lost. He did not. Just like COVID-19, he must figure that if he just ignores it, it'll go away.

But in the middle of this global pandemic, Trump was still trying to take our health care away. The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday heard the Trump Administration's third challenge to the Affordable Care Act. I invited WENDELL POTTER, the only whistleblower from the health insurance industry to step up, to tell us how it went. These days he heads an organization called The Center for Health and Democracy...

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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Guests: Heather Digby Parton and Richard 'R.J.' Eskow decode Thursday's face-off in Nashville and our nightmares before (and after?) Halloween...
By Brad Friedman on 10/23/2020 5:52pm PT  

As new coronavirus infections spike to an all-time daily record in the U.S. on Thursday (and again today), with cases now on the rise in nearly 75% of the nation and hospitalizations increasing again in 38 states, our infected President, Donald Trump, and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, faced off in Nashville, TN for the (mercifully) final debate of the 2020 season.

We've got full special coverage on today's BradCast with a very smart panel, including RICHARD "R.J." ESKOW of The Zero Hour; HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullaballoo; and, of course, our very own Desi Doyen.

It's a rather lively hour today as we try to make sense of our collective Nightmare Before Halloween, which continued to play out on Thursday night at Belmont University, even while deftly moderated (with a helpful mute button) by NBC's Kristen Welker. As CNN's great fact-checker Daniel Dale explained on Twitter last night: "Biden was again imperfect from a fact check perspective. He made at least a few false, misleading, or lacking-in-context claims. Trump was, as usual, a serial liar," adding: "From a lying perspective, Trump is even worse tonight than in the first debate."

For our part, along with a bit of fact-checking, among the many issues we cover on today's program...

  • Eskow offers insight --- as a former health insurance industry executive and Bernie Sanders 2016 campaign writer --- on the facts about both Biden and Trump's plans for healthcare coverage amid the worsening pandemic and a threat by the GOP's stolen U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the Affordable Care Act just days after the election. ("He keeps saying that 'my plan is that I'm going to have a plan.'");
  • Parton, no stranger to deep dives into wingnut rabbit holes, helpfully decodes Trump's ginned-up Fox "News"-fueled "scandals" regarding Biden's family. ("This is about harassing Biden once he's elected. This isn't really about the election. Trump doesn't know that.")
  • And Desi helps us make sense of Biden's newsworthy dose of reality offered near the end of the debate that, yes, we will have to transition away from oil and other fossil fuels, toward renewable, job-creating, emissions-free alternatives in the very near future...if we hope to survive on this planet.

You may also wish to buckle up for a bit of a scary ending today, as all three offer their thoughts to voters who may be under the impression that Biden has this wrapped up, and as Desi sagely warns: "The margin of victory [for Biden] must be greater than the margin of theft, suppression, and litigation." And that's not even the scary part!

Anyway, that's a tiny sample of today's offerings, during which you'll laugh, cry, and maybe even go to bed with nightmares. You're welcome! Please enjoy today's special coverage on The BradCast!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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