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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, August 17, 2022
'Emptywheel' on Trump, Espionage and the FBI Seizure of Stolen NatSec Docs at Mar-a-Lago: 'BradCast' 8/17/22
Guest: Marcy Wheeler; Also: WY's Cheney out; AK's Palin awaits RCV count in House race...
'Green News Report' 8/16/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Landmark $370B climate bill passes House, Prez to sign; Scientists find trees growing in rapidly warming Arctic; PLUS: 'Extreme heat belt' coming to 100M Americans, study warns...
Recent GNRs: 8/9/22 - 8/11/22 - Archives...
Trump's Continuing Crimes and Consequences:
'BradCast' 8/15/22
Fallout from retrieval of stolen, classified docs at Mar-a-Lago; Also: 'Unprecedented' FBI threats; Giuliani now a 'target', Graham must testify in GA 2020 theft probe; Callers ring in...
Sunday 'A Fifth of Outrage' Toons
We've got nothing to say about PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons that wouldn't incriminate us...
Before FBI Search, Grand Jury Subpoenaed NatSec Docs Trump Stole from WH: 'BradCast' 8/11/22
RW political violence after Trump's Mar-a-Lago lies; Also: Midterms trend toward Dems...
'Green News Report' 8/11/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
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Recent GNRs: 8/9/22 - 8/4/22 - Archives...
'If You're Innocent, Why Are You Taking the Fifth?' Great Question!: 'BradCast' 8/10/22
Guest: Former Asst. U.S. Attorney, Randall D. Eliason; Also: Inflation slowing?; Noteworthy primary results from CT, MN, VT, WI (and WA)
What We Know (& Don't) About the FBI Search at Mar-a-Lago: 'BradCast' 8/9/22
Also: Late AZ, WA primary results; MI's GOP A.G. nominee facing criminal probe; Federal judges approve release of Trump taxes...
'Green News Report' 8/9/22
GNR Special Coverage: U.S. Senate Democrats pass landmark climate legislation, the first in U.S. history...
Pennsylvania's Supreme Court Rejects Yet Another GOP Challenge to Absentee Voting
Ruling is good news for democracy and, perhaps, state Democrats...
Sunday 'Woke' Toons!
Wake up and smell PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons!...
'Green News Report' 8/4/22
Back-to-back storms show U.S. not ready for impacts; Climate change raising humidity; Big biz targets Dem climate bill; PLUS: Nat'l EV charging network begins...
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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...
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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...

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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
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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
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Also: Other sorry sleazy news from a GOP in free fall; Biden's gun safety executive actions; Manchin's ridiculous blockade of progress...
By Brad Friedman on 4/8/2021 7:05pm PT  

We try like crazy to avoid sleazy, tabloid sensationalism on The BradCast. But, at this point at least, the Republican Party has made that pretty much all but impossible. Just covering any of the latest actual, legitimate news from the party which seems to be in free fall right now, necessarily requires a whole bunch of sleazy, cheap, tawdry stories that sound sensationalistic and tabloidy...but that's only because they are...whether we like it or not. [Audio link to today's full show is posted below this summary.]

On the way to the central story in our A Block today, regarding the stunning crash and burn of Alabama's Sec. of State who, until late yesterday was likely to have been a front-runner for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated next year by Republican Senator Richard Shelby, we are forced to reference a number of the sleazy cheap stories that have now become central to the GOP itself...above and beyond their nationwide attempt to suppress Democratic-leaning voters in a democracy...

  • Over the weekend, the New York Times exposed how the Trump Campaign ripped of its own donors before and after last year's election, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars by pre-checking checkboxes that were difficult to notice. That would turn one-time donations into recurring monthly or even weekly donations, when many if not most donors did not even notice. Donor credit cards were unwittingly maxed out and bank accounts were drained by the Trump scheme. But, even after the Times' exposé, it appears that the Republican Party itself, via its U.S. House fundraising arm, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), is now using that same sleazy trick to rip off its donors as well! They're arguably making it even worse by telling donors (all-caps in the original): "If you UNCHECK this box, we will have to tell Trump you’re a DEFECTOR."
  • Then of course, there's the ongoing sleazy story about Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz, one of Trump's top supporters in the U.S. House, who is reportedly being investigated for alleged sex trafficking of a minor. Today, several outlets are reporting that Gaetz' pal, Joel Greenberg, the former Tax Collector in FL's Seminole County, is now cooperating with prosecutors. Greenberg has already been charged with sex trafficking of a minor and more than 30 other federal charges, including stalking, identity theft, wire fraud, bribery, theft of government property, conspiracy to bribe a public official and creating fake IDs. Suffice to say, if it's true that he's cooperating, that is likely very bad news for Gaetz.
  • But today's sleaziest story concerns Alabama's Republican Sec. of State John Merrill. Long time readers and listeners may recall my bizarre run-in with Merrill back in 2017, when, after politely pointing out on Twitter that Merrill was wrong about the way Alabama's voting systems actually worked, the Secretary blocked him on the social media platform and left bizarre messages on Brad's cell phone. Later, when a federal court ruled in a lawsuit against Trump that public officials were violating First Amendment rights by blocking people on Twitter, I sought comment from Merrill's office to see if, like Trump had been ordered, Merrill planned to unblock the many constituents and election experts he had blocked on Twitter over the years. Not only did Merrill himself make it very clear to me that he had no intention of doing so, the entire matter devolved into a wildly bizarre email attack by Merrill. That all played out in 2017 and 2018.

    Move the clock forward to 2020, and Merrill, using his powers as Alabama's top election official, prevented Counties in his state from offering safe, curbside voting for those who feared exposure to the coronavirus inside polling places. Despite a state court order to allow it, Merrill refused and took the matter all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. He was ultimately victorious in his efforts to suppress Alabama voters who feared for their lives and were forced to choose between staying safe and casting a vote inside the polls during last year's Presidential election.

    And now, the clock turns forward to yesterday when, on Wednesday morning, Merrill --- who is married with two children and who had already begun his campaign for the GOP nomination to fill the U.S. Senate seat being vacated next year by Sen. Shelby --- denied an extra-marital affair with a 44-year old women that he described as a "stalker" who had been "harassing" him. Just hours later, however, by Wednesday afternoon, Merrill admitted to his years long involvement with the woman after AL.com played him a portion of a salacious phone call between him and her that she had provided to the media outlet. Yes, we share part of that call on today's show. Yes, we told you this was all sleazy. Yes, the story is actually much sleazier than we are sharing with you on air today. And, yes, there is something very wrong with Merrill, as we had repeatedly tried to explain over the years ever since my first bizarre encounter with him.

    Merrill, who is already well known for his anti-LGBTQ statements, has denied describing African-American judges and voters --- whose rights he's supposed to be protecting --- as "the coloreds," as the woman also alleges. We'll let you decide if you'd like to believe him or not. He says he is seeking help from "the Lord". He has yet to resign from his role as the state's chief election official or from his position as Chair of the Republican Secretaries of State Executive Committee.

  • In much less sleazy --- if still somewhat depressing news --- President Biden announced a number of new Executive Orders related to gun safety during a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden on Thursday. The President, accurately characterizing America's gun epidemic as an "international embarrassment" and "public health crisis", noted that between the mass killings at Atlanta massage parlors and the Boulder, Colorado grocery store shooting last month, there were more than 850 additional shootings that killed 250 and injured 500 in the U.S. In his own remarks at the ceremony, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland noted that "so far this year, guns have taken the lives of 11,000" in this country. While Biden's Executive Actions (which we detail during the show) are likely to have a marginal effect in curbing our nation's gun violence epidemic, they are no replacement for real legislation that might actually have a measurable effect on decreasing gun violence.
  • Of course, given that Republicans refuse to support any measures proposed by Democrats in the U.S. Senate --- much less regarding gun safety, God forbid, no matter how popular such measures are, even with Republican voters --- it will be impossible to pass any such legislation unless the filibuster in the Senate is either ended or reformed. Key to that, however, is the Democratic Senate's most conservative member, West Virginia's Joe Manchin. On Wednesday, pathetically enough, Manchin penned an op-ed at Washington Post declaring: "There is no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster." He went on to offer a few twisted, counterfactual reasons as to why, and even suggested he may block further legislation from passing via the Senate's Budget Reconciliation rules which allow for passage of certain budget related matters with a simple majority vote. Yes, today is that kind of a day. For what it's worth, the White House seems less bothered about Manchin's statements than we are.
  • Finally, with marginally brighter news scattered throughout, Desi Doyen's got our latest Green News Report, with details of the Biden Administration's pushback against silly GOP critiques of his $2.25 trillion infrastructure, jobs and climate proposal; a new warning about a wave of abandoned oil and gas mines; and General Motors' plans to go all in on electric vehicles, including with their first all-electric pickup truck!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: State GOPers adopt Fossil Fuel Industry bills to nix renewables, block small government; Rep. Hastings RIP; Vaccines to all on April 19...
By Brad Friedman on 4/6/2021 6:27pm PT  

We have several fairly stunning plot twists to try and make sense of on today's BradCast, as Democrats hit a potential legislative jackpot in the U.S. Senate and Republicans pretend to turn against big business while actually turning against small government. [Audio link to the full show follows the summary below.]

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

  • President Biden moves up the date for vaccine eligibility to all Americans by two weeks, announcing that everyone in the U.S., 16 and older, will be eligible to sign up for COVID-19 shots by April 19th. That, as the race against new, deadlier variants --- and the premature easing of safety restrictions --- continues.
  • Florida's civil rights champion and 15-term Democratic Congressman Alcee Hastings passes away at age 84 after a battle with pancreatic cancer, further narrowing, for now, the Democrats' already-narrow majority in the U.S. House. That, as...
  • Huge new legislative possibilities were opened for Democrats by the Senate Parliamentarian on Monday night. As we briefly explained last week (and in more detail on today's show), an obscure provision in the Budget Act of 1974 will allow Dems to "revise" their Budget Reconciliation bills, allowing them to pass new measures under arcane Senate rules that permit certain budget-related measures to be adopted by a simple majority vote. Democrats already knew they had two opportunities to do that this year --- and avoid the GOP filibuster against all of their proposals --- with budgets for fiscal year 2021 (since Republicans failed to pass one last year when they had control of the upper chamber) and for fiscal year 2022. Biden's COVID relief and stimulus bill, the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, was adopted under the FY 2021 budget reconciliation provision and his $2.25 trillion infrastructure, jobs and climate proposal, the American Jobs Plan, was previously targeted for passage under FY 2022's budget reconciliation. But, after inquiry by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer as to whether a little-known or used provision of the Budget Act would allow more such bills to be adopted as "revisions" to both of those budget reconciliation packages, the Senate Parliamentarian has reportedly given her okay. That means that the American Jobs Plan can be adopted as a "revision" to the 2021 budget, and a previously unimagined set of possibilities has suddenly emerged for the 2022 plan or even additional revisions to 2021. There are some caveats --- as we discuss --- but, as wonky as all of it sounds, it is wildly good news for Democrats.
  • That good news for Dems is, of course, more bad news for a Republican Party drifting farther and farther away from both reality and their own supposedly long-held governing values --- at least the ones they pretended to have. Each passing day makes it clear that the GOP is adrift without any actual legislative agenda or principles at all. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has long championed unlimited (and even undisclosed) corporate money in elections and politics, issued a statement on Monday pretending to be outraged by dozens of corporations speaking out democracy and against the voter suppression bill adopted by Republicans in Georgia last week.
  • But while Repubs in D.C. are trying on their new, "populist", "anti-corporate" costumes for a post-Trump era, GOPers in state legislatures across the country are still snuggling up with huge corporate interests in the fossil fuel industry to adopt legislation at the state level making it illegal for local towns and cities to ban the use of fossil fuels. Georgia is just the latest of dozens of states where this is happening right now. Among the states where efforts exactly like this are underway or already in place: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Utah

    And, if you're keeping score at home, that means the adrift Republican Party now claims to oppose corporate free expression in politics (they don't really) and are against local government decision making (they always have been, at least when small, local governments disagree with the GOP's corporate paymasters). Told you everything was twisted today! Or, as Desi Doyen smartly observes at one point: "It's not logical. It's political."

  • Finally, Desi's got our latest Green News Report, as failing infrastructure near Tampa, Florida is posing a huge, toxic crisis to local residents and wildlife; the Biden Administration pushes back against Republicans who pretend they don't know what infrastructure is; troubling new confirmation of climate change in Japan; and some very good news for a town with very bad air in Massachusetts...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 4/6/2021 11:05am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Florida races to prevent massive toxic wastewater breach in Manatee County; Biden Administration pushes back on Republican opposition to infrastructure jobs package; Japan sees earliest cherry blossom peak in 1,200 years; PLUS: Victory for breathers in Springfield, Massachusetts... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

GNR's now celebrating 12 YEARS of independent green news, politics, analysis, snarky comment and connecting climate change dots over your public airwaves!
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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Trump Landfill Methane Emissions Rule Scrapped by Appeals Court; US, UAE say they'll invest in Middle East decarbonization; Fossil Firms Took Billions in Virus Aid but Still Cut Nearly 60,000 Jobs; Louisville’s Polluting Chemical Plant Emits Two Potent Greenhouse Gases; Canada's Herring Face Collapse, Say First Nations And Activists; Can Biden Change America's Preference For Cars Over Trains and Buses?; More U.S. Coal Power Retired Under Trump Than in Obama's Second Term; Our Last, Best Chance to Save Atlantic Salmon... PLUS: Test Flight for Sunlight-Blocking Research Is Canceled... and much, MUCH more! ...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Biden's American Jobs Plan
By Desi Doyen on 4/1/2021 11:03am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: GNR Special Coverage --- President Biden unveils sweeping, $2 trillion American Jobs Plan to rebuild the nation's infrastructure and take on the climate crisis... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

GNR's now celebrating 12 YEARS of independent green news, politics, analysis, snarky comment and connecting climate change dots over your public airwaves!
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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): On Tap In California: Another Drought Four Years After Last; Biden’s Climate Plan Means Tough Choices: Which Homes Get Saved?; A Moonshot Approach to Replacing Lead Water Pipes; The Battle To Protect One Of America’s Last Wild Landscapes; 'Seaspiracy': Netflix Doc Accused Of Misrepresentation By Participants; Hemp: The secret ingredient in Paris’ green public housing... PLUS: Lawyer Who Took On Chevron Marks His 600th Day Under House Arrest... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guest: The American Prospect's David Dayen; Also: U.S. Capitol Police officers sue Trump over insurrection; Dominion Voting Systems' legal team hires more defamation attorneys, suggesting more lawsuits ahead...
By Brad Friedman on 3/31/2021 6:14pm PT  

If we can look both forward and back at the same time on The BradCast, so can the Biden Administration. (Hint, hint, Merrick Garland.) But the Administration is certainly looking forward today, and not a moment too soon, with the introduction of Joe Biden's $2 trillion American Jobs Act proposal. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But first, we look "back" at the continuing disaster left behind by the previous guy's lies about a "stolen" election. Two U.S. Capitol Police officers have now filed a lawsuit against Donald Trump for his incitement of the January 6th insurrection which, according to the complaint, has left both men struggling to cope with long term physical and psychological issues. The suit follows on the heels of two others filed by two different members of Congress, Reps. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi and Eric Swalwell of California.

In somewhat related "looking back" news today, the legal team representing Dominion Voting Systems is reportedly beefing up its team of defamation attorneys after filing $1.3 billion complaints earlier this year against Trump Attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and, last Friday, a new $1.6 billion defamation suit against Fox "News". (That one follows on a separate $2.7 billion suit filed against Fox by another voting machine company, Smartmatic, which doesn't even do business in any of the states contested by Trump's MAGA Mob.) All of the Dominion suits allege the voting system company was defamed by evidence-free claims that their software somehow flipped votes from Trump to Biden. The new attorneys said to be joining Dominion's legal team buttress reporting that additional rightwing media outlets, such as NewsmaxTV and One America News, may soon be sued as well. Moreover, the Dominion legal team has suggested in several instances that they have not ruled out a suit against the Big Liar himself.

Then, we finally get to look forward today with the introduction of Biden's sweeping, much-anticipated infrastructure, jobs and climate proposal, now officially named the American Jobs Plan, echoing the name of his wildly popular and progressive $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, signed into law this month to speed relief and stimulus to Americans slammed by the COVID pandemic.

The new AJP proposal is a $2 trillion package, promising to create millions of good-paying jobs through massive and long-overdue public works projects to shore up the nation's crumbling roads, bridges, airports, water systems and electrical grid, while investing in efforts to remove lead pipes from homes and lead exposure in hundreds of thousands of schools.

Crucially, it would also invest hundreds of billions in electric vehicle manufacturing and charging stations, cap hundreds of thousands of uncapped fossil fuel wells, while ending fossil fuel industry subsidies and offering billions in renewable energy tax credits. It would also "build back better" by hardening much of our nation's infrastructure to better handle our worsening climate crisis. Much of the package would be paid for by an increase in corporate tax rates that reverse unpaid-for tax cuts by Trump and the GOP in 2017.

That, of course, is a very slim summary of the expansive proposal introduced on Wednesday in Pittsburgh by the President. But, why is it only a $2 trillion package when we had previously been told to expect a $3 or even $4 trillion proposal?

Our guest today, financial journalist, author and Executive Editor of The American Prospect, DAVID DAYEN reports that the proposal is being split into two separate packages. "This is the first half of apparently a two-part sequence," he explains. "This has most of the physical infrastructure investments. I would call this more of a public investment bill, rather than infrastructure bill. But this has the physical investments and then the second half is really the care infrastructure --- the care investments on health care, on paid family leave, on community colleges and things like that."

The plan is likely to change a great deal as it moves toward hopeful passage in Congress. Some Progressive Democrats feel it doesn't currently go far enough to meet the scale of the threat posed by climate change. Some conservative Dems are worried about spending too much money. And, of course, Republicans have no interest in passing any bills proposed by Democratic Presidents, no matter how much it will help their own constituents, even with projects they'd long supported.

"Spending of this type, which is public investment, pays for itself many, many times over," Dayen argues. "It does that just by the virtue of greater efficiency [and] averting risk. When we make all of these climate investments, we then have the opportunity to not have to spend hundreds of billions and trillions of dollars on damages from catastrophic weather events and things like that."

We discuss what it may take to get the broad Democratic caucus in Congress all on the same page, and the likelihood that many elements of the second part of the package may end up being combined with the first, in the event that Chuck Schumer's hopes of additional Budget Reconciliation packages this year (which allow passage with a simple majority vote, rather than needing to overcome a GOP filibuster), are blocked by the Senate Parliamentarian --- or, if Democrats become concerned that items planned for the second package may fall to the wayside if Biden's agenda loses steam on Capitol Hill.

We've got a lot to discuss about all of this with Dayen today, much more than we can cover here. So, I hope you'll tune in!...

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Secret audio reveals 'conservatives' support Dems' For the People Act (H.R.1); Also: Economists giddy about Biden's infrastructure, jobs and climate plan; Third lawsuit filed against GA's new vote suppression law...
By Brad Friedman on 3/30/2021 6:49pm PT  

On today's BradCast: More evidence that the rightwing billionaire Koch network really needs a better security plan. And Republicans really need a more popular agenda. [Audio link to show follows summary below.]

We now have still more audio that has leaked out of a super-secret Koch Network event. The latest is embarrassing yet again for them, as it reveals that even Republican voters want corrupting "dark money" out of politics. Sorry, Koch folks like Mitch McConnell and all of the other elected GOPers who owe their corrupt careers (and votes in Congress) to whatever it is that the Koch Network wants from them! Looks like they'll need to rely on out-and-out lies about what is actually in the Democrats' popular election and campaign finance reform bill known as H.R.1 (the For the People Act) in order to undermine it. But they've become very good at that sort of thing by now.

On Monday, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer published a story about audio she obtained from a super-secret conference call in which the guy running a Koch-backed effort to figure out how to message against H.R.1 concedes that even "conservative" voters appear to like the proposal, which includes disclosure requirements for donations larger than $10,000 to "dark money" non-profit groups like the dozens of "non-partisan" groups run and funded by billionaire donors to the Koch Network.

As Mayer reports: "The speakers on the call expressed alarm at the broad popularity of the bill's provision calling for more public disclosure about secret political donors. The participants conceded that the bill, which would stem the flow of dark money from such political donors as the billionaire oil magnate Charles Koch, was so popular that it wasn't worth trying to mount a public-advocacy campaign to shift opinion. Instead, a senior Koch operative said that opponents would be better off ignoring the will of American voters and trying to kill the bill in Congress."

The research director for a Koch-run advocacy group is heard explaining on the call, which reportedly included a partisan representative from McConnell's office, that when even "conservative" voters hear that the legislation "stops billionaires from buying elections," they support it. "Unfortunately," he tells the group somewhat sheepishly, "we've found that that is a winning message, for both the general public and also conservatives."

We share the full audio disclosed by Mayer on today's program. (And, since I referenced it it today, here's a link to my 2011 exposé of the Koch Brothers' super-secret billionaire confab at a resort near Vail, CO. The first, to my knowledge, to include audio from one of the group's meetings. The several-part exposé I published at Mother Jones and at The BRAD BLOG at the time included audio I obtained revealing the undisclosed keynote speech by NJ's then Gov. Chris Christie, as well as remarks from Charles Koch and others at the highly secured --- but not highly enough secured --- event.)

Also today, Axios reports that economists are very excited about the approximately $3 trillion infrastructure, jobs and, yes, climate plan that Joe Biden is set to roll out in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. He previewed a bit of that plan during his press conference last week. The plan, in theory, will create millions of new, high paying jobs repairing, improving and building roads, bridges, electrical grids and other infrastructure that has been dilapidating for years, while hardening it all for climate resilience in a dangerously warming world. The Koch Network and Congressional Republicans are likely to have a hard time messaging against that long-overdue proposal as well. But we'll find out as much after Biden introduces the plan tomorrow.

Then, a bit of a follow-up to my conversation with Caren Short, Senior Voting Rights Attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on Monday's show, about Georgia's sweeping new voter suppression bill. Yesterday, I had asked Short whether SPLC was planning to join either of the so-far two different lawsuits filed by civil rights groups just after the controversial GOP measure was passed by both houses in the state legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp last Thursday, all within a 7-hour time span. She told me the group was looking closely at the suits, but had made no decision yet. Today, SPLC touched base with the news announcing a third suit [PDF] now filed in federal court against the GA law. This one has been filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and others on behalf of several Black, Latino and Muslim organizations in the Peach State.

Finally today, Desi Doyen has our latest Green News Report, with more news on Biden's infrastructure plan; deadly storms in Nashville; a disturbing update to the death toll in Texas after last month's winter storm; and more...some of it actually good enough news that we close with a song that many of you likely hoped we'd have forgotten by now. But, sorry not sorry...we didn't!...

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GA's new Senator appeals to our better angels to save our democracy...
By Ernest A. Canning on 3/27/2021 11:14am PT  

"A republic," Ben Franklin famously said, "if you can keep it."

After more than 230 years, the great American experiment --- constitutional democracy --- has arrived at a moment of grave national peril, once again testing Franklin's warning. Like the Confederates who fired on Fort Sumter at the outset of a bloody Civil War, a major segment of our polity today is being led by racist and seditious reactionaries --- "domestic enemies" of the very Constitution they solemnly swore to uphold and defend.

This unscrupulous lot call themselves "Republicans". Yet, they have absolutely nothing in common with the Party once led by Abraham Lincoln, an intellectual giant, who extolled the need to see that "government of the People, by the People and for the People shall not perish..."

The right to vote is foundational to all other rights. By way of more than 253 restrictive bills, introduced in 43 States, these elected autocratic "American Fascists" seek to strip that foundational right from millions of their fellow Americans.

The For the People Act of 2021, recently passed by Democrats in the House as H.R.1, is a comprehensive election, campaign, ethics and voting rights reform measure that would, among other things, eliminate partisan gerrymandering of Congressional Districts, curb dark money campaign contributions, and preempt many state-based GOP voter suppression and intimidation laws, schemes and tactics. The Senate version of the bill, S1, is co-sponsored by 49 of the chamber's 50 Democrats.

If, at this critical moment, all 50 Senate Democrats do not agree to eliminate the filibuster, at least for Voting Rights-related legislation, in order to pass S1 before the end of the year, a clear path will have been paved for the GOP to retake majority control of both Houses of Congress in 2022 and recapture the Presidency in 2024 through a combination of extreme partisan gerrymandering and surgically precise voter suppression.

What better moment for Georgia's freshman Democratic Senator, Reverend Raphael Warnock, to call upon our better angels to save our democracy in a maiden address on the Senate floor (see video and link to transcript below) that amounted to what has been aptly described as a "Voting Rights Speech for the Ages"...

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




Sec. of State Katie Hobbs speaks with Nicole Sandler; Also: Brad's recent interview with former FL Election Supervisor Ion Sancho, recounted...
By Desi Doyen on 3/26/2021 2:25pm PT  

We had planned for NICOLE SANDLER to fill in for us on today's BradCast, to share her exclusive interview this week with Arizona's Democratic Secretary of State. Unfortunately, Nicole got hit pretty hard after her second COVID vaccine shot, so she's been a bit under the weather (but getting much better!). However, she was kind enough to share the interview with us anyway so we could share it with you on today's program. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

In her conversation with Nicole, AZ's Sec. of State KATIE HOBBS, among other things, debunks false claims of "fraud" in the Grand Canyon State's successful 2020 Presidential election, where Joe Biden became the first Democrat to win the state on the Presidential level in several decades. The Grand Canyon State also elected Democrat Mark Kelly for the U.S. Senate last November. He joins AZ's Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, mirroring the case in Georgia, which also went "blue" for the first time in decades last year for Biden and elected two Dems to the U.S. Senate.

On Thursday night, Georgia's GOP rammed through sweeping new restrictions on voting that will curb voting rights and (as Brad discussed with Marilyn Marks of the Coalition for Good Governance earlier this week) allow the GOP-majority state legislature to undermine County Boards of Elections and even overturn election results, if they like. GA's former Republican Sec. of State and current Governor Brian Kemp signed the new anti-democracy measure last night almost immediately after it was passed in the Peach State's House and Senate at lightning speed on Thursday. Today, President Biden described the GA measure as an "atrocity".

On today's program, Hobbs speaks to similar efforts now under way by Arizona's GOP state lawmakers to roll back voting rights, including the state's popular mail-in voting options, despite last year's "very successful" election...or, perhaps, because of it. Hobbs describes the measures being pushed by state Republicans as "unprecedented" and "really dangerous in terms of voting rights, not just in Arizona but across the country."

She tells Nicole that these efforts, being sold in response to Donald Trump's evidence-free Big Lie that last year's election was stolen for Biden, are based on "a false premise. We do not have to make the choice between voter access and security. What we saw in the 2020 election proves that we can have both."

Finally today, in case you missed it previously or might like to hear it again, we revisit Brad's recent conversation from 3/15/2021 with Leon County, Florida's legendary, 30-year former Supervisor of Elections ION SANCHO on similar GOP efforts to roll back voting rights in the Sunshine State and in neighboring Georgia...

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Biden's first presser and filibuster reform; Good economic numbers, maddening COVID numbers; Death penalty banned in VA; NY finally goes to pot; GA undermines democracy; Senate GOP pretends vote suppression doesn't exist; Also: Oil and plastic...
By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2021 7:05pm PT  

Lots of news, breaking and otherwise, on today's BradCast. Much of it encouraging, some of it much less so. Join us, won't you? [Audio link to full show follows summary below.]

We begin today with Joe Biden's first press conference as President, as he answered a bunch of questions, often in detail, on a bunch of topics. We focus specifically on the questions and his answers on both reforming the filibuster and the almost certain need to do so in order to see passage of the Democrats' massive, much-needed electoral reform bill, the "For the People Act" in the U.S. Senate. That measure, as Biden seems to understand quite clearly, will be needed to counter the avalanche of voter suppression laws being moved, right now, through state legislatures by Republicans.

We share a number of his remarks in response to those efforts and read the tea leaves on what seems to be his commitment to first restoring the "Talking Filibuster" in the Senate and then, if necessary, perhaps even doing away with it all together for passage of democracy and civil rights-related measures.

As to the anti-democracy schemes being pushed by Republicans around the country, Biden says: "How un-American this whole initiative is. It's sick. It's sick," referring to the measure which has now been passed and signed in Georgia that would, among many other things, outlaw even given water to voters standing on line. He claims that "Republican voters I know find this despicable" and that "this makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle." As to being pressed on his plans to counter GOP obstructionism in the Senate, he teases: "Successful electoral politics is the Art of the Possible."

Amongst the rest of the flurry of news covered on today's show...

  • Donald Trump's figure at a wax museum in San Antonio has been removed for now, after it was repeatedly punched in the face --- which presents me with a serious moral dilemma.
  • For the first time since the pandemic began a year ago, last week's jobless claims fell to a number that is finally below the all-time, pre-pandemic weekly record. That is a good --- if still precarious --- sign.
  • A new report finds that 400,000 American lives could have been saved had the U.S. adopted widespread masking, social distancing and testing protocols by late May last year. 400,000 lives! Kinda makes ya want to punch a wax statue of Donald Trump in the face.
  • In some long-overdue good progressive news, the Governor of Virginia --- in a state which has killed more people with the death penalty than any other state --- signed a bill to ban the barbaric, racist practice once and for all. The state becomes the first in the South to do so.
  • In some long-overdue good progressive news in the North, New York State lawmakers finalized a deal with the scandal-plagued Gov. Cuomo to legalize recreational marijuana in the state, in a plan "crafted with an intense focus on making amends in communities impacted by the decades-long war on drugs." There's some more, very good racial justice news today.
  • Breaking late during today's show, the Georgia legislature adopted a massive voter suppression bill that we discussed in detail on yesterday's BradCast with Marilyn Marks of the Coalition for Good Governance, when she warned about a little discussed provision that will allow a partisan State Board of Elections to replace any County's Board of Elections with one partisan person for virtually any reason they wish. Had this measure been in place in 2020, she explained, the legislature could have used it to overturn the results of the Presidential election in Atlanta. Georgia's champion vote suppressing Secretary of State turned Governor Brian Kemp signed the measure moments later, just after we signed off air tonight. (See Biden's comments above about how "sick" and "despicable" all of this is.)
  • At the same time, Republicans in the U.S. Senate. on Wednesday are pretending there is no voter suppression being adopted by states at all around the country. One of them --- Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) --- speaking up in favor of banning Sunday "souls to the polls" voting, which is popular with Black church-goers, believes voting on Sunday shouldn't be allowed anyway...because God says so.
  • And, before we get to Desi Doyen and the GNR, a bit more breaking news out of California, where those as young as 50 will be eligible for COVID vaccines as of April 1, and those older than 16 will be able to sign up beginning on April 15.
  • Finally, Desi joins us for our latest Green News Report, for a delightfully toxic blend of the fossil fuel industry's oil and plastic...that is killing us all.

As suggested, some encouraging news on today's show, and some that is less so. We don't make it. We just deliver it. Enjoy!...

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Heroes and heartbreak in Boulder; Filibuster reform inches forward; Response to Siegelman interview, Repub recall of CA's Dem Governor...
By Brad Friedman on 3/23/2021 6:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast: While U.S. flags were already at half-staff following last week's mass killings in Atlanta, another mass shooting erupted on Monday in Boulder, Colorado. On Tuesday, President Biden called for the flags to remain lowered, for the U.S. Senate to pass two bills already approved by the U.S. House to close loopholes in our federal background check system; and to restore the ban on assault weapons that helped keep down such mass casualty events before the George W. Bush Administration allowed it to expire. [Audio link to show follows summary below.]

"We can ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country once again. I got that done when I was a Senator. It passed. It was law for the longest time, and it brought down these mass killings. We should do it again," the President urged in his brief remarks at the White House. "This is not and should not be a partisan issue; this is an American issue. It will save lives --- American lives --- and we have to act."

Today, we cover some of the reaction following the latest mass shooting in the U.S., which took 10 lives at a supermarket in Boulder yesterday. We honor the heroes that include not only the police who responded --- one of whom, who had seven children, was killed during the shooting --- but also the grocery store workers who courageously helped to save customer lives in the store and, as their union has noted, have been risking their lives for all of us every day over the past year, as essential workers during the pandemic.

We also note the reactions from those who have spent years working to support the ability of terrorists to easily acquire weapons of mass destruction --- such as CO's Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert and the Colorado State Shooters Association --- who suddenly feel that this is no time to talk about guns. "Congressman" Boebert, who appears with guns in virtually appearance, says she "refuses" to use this shooting "to advance a political agenda." And the Shooters Association informs us that "Today is not a day to cloud our remembrance with ... emotional sensationalism."

All of that, after a state judge, just 10 days ago, struck down a law adopted unanimously by the Boulder City Council in 2018 to ban assault weapons in the city, after years of similar massacres in the Centennial State and elsewhere. The Colorado State Shooters Association was one of the plaintiffs in that case, which was "celebrated" just last week by the disgraced, terrorist-supporting NRA, because local laws supported by residents in the CO town were preempted by Big Government at the state and federal level.

But, despite urging from the President on Tuesday, if Republicans won't even agree to allow an up or down vote on background checks, the lowest hanging fruit when it comes to gun safety reforms, it seems impossible to imagine they would ever agree to restoring the federal assault weapons ban. That, no matter how many American lives it might save, no matter how many of their own constituents continue to be massacred in these tragic events.

In response to GOP intransigence, conservative, institutionalist Democrats in the U.S. Senate late last week and over the weekend, continued to inch toward support for filibuster reform --- the only way that gun safety reform and most of the rest of the Democrats' ambitious, progressive agenda will ever be adopted. So there's a small amount of encouraging news on another dark day.

Also today, some response from listeners to our interview with Alabama's former Democratic Governor, Don Siegelman on yesterday's BradCast and his response --- as someone who knows a thing or two about GOP hit jobs on popular Democratic Governors --- to the attempted recall of California's progressive Governor, Gavin Newsom.

Finally, we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, as yet another natural disaster befalls Australia; our global climate crisis becomes the top cause for refugees worldwide; and the Biden White House begins to unveil its promised massive, long-overdue, nearly $4 trillion infrastructure (and climate) plan...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 3/23/2021 11:12am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Catastrophic flooding the latest disaster to pummel Australia; Climate-related disasters now produce the most refugees in the world; Judge rules bankrupt coal company can leave mine cleanup obligations to the tax-payers; PLUS: Biden White House prepares massive infrastructure jobs bill... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

GNR's now celebrating 12 YEARS of independent green news, politics, analysis, snarky comment and connecting climate change dots over your public airwaves!
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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Indigenous Anti-Dam Activist Killed In Honduras; Trump’s Parting Gift to St. Croix: One of America’s Largest Refineries; Germany dismisses Australia's claims that planned EU carbon border tax is 'protectionism'; Coal Markets Roiled as Australia’s Flood Crisis Worsens; Interior Reverses Course On Tribal Ownership Of Portion Of Missouri River... PLUS: If your flood insurance bill is $30,000 it's sending a message --- don't live there... and much, MUCH more! ...

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'It reeks of politics,' says Don Siegelman, citing Repub campaign 'laced with racism,' aimed at sabotaging 'a rising star in the Democratic Party'
Also: Siegelman on Biden and hopes for criminal justice reform; The Amazon unionization vote near Birmingham; And whether he might run for public office again in the future...
By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2021 6:41pm PT  

On today's BradCast: an exclusive interview with someone who knows a thing or two about GOP hit jobs on Democratic Governors. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

Republicans are having trouble of late winning elections by simply having the most popular positions. Thus, the attempts to lie about their positions, to suppress the vote and, in California, to try and recall another Democratic Governor, in a state where Republicans are wildly unpopular.

It now appears that the rightwing effort to place a recall of first-term Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom on the ballot will be successful. The Republican scheme to remove Newsom has reportedly gained more than enough signatures to place the measure on the ballot (2.1 million gathered, 1.5 million needed), though those signatures now need to be certified by each of the state's 59 counties and those who signed (64% are Republicans, 25% have No Party Preference, and just 6% are registered Democrats), will also be able to remove their names by the time a date is set for the election.

When and if it happens later this year, it would place two questions on the ballot: 1) Should Newsom be recalled from office? And 2) If so, who should replace him? That second referendum also raises an interesting question: Should Democrats bother to place a plausible Dem on the ballot, in the event that Newsom is officially recalled by the first question, even as registered Democrats now outnumber registered Republicans in the Golden State by a nearly 2 to 1 margin? It was not all that long ago when Democratic Gov. Gray Davis was set up by Republicans (and a phony, Enron-generated energy "scandal") for a recall, in which he was ultimately replaced by Republicans with Hollywood superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger.

We're joined today by Alabama's former Democratic GOV. DON SIEGELMAN who has, for years, explained how his election to a second term was stolen from him via a computerized optical-scan tabulator system in the middle of the night, and how he was subsequently targeted by Karl Rove and GOP operatives including Siegelman's main rival, Gov. Bob Riley, in a scheme which would send him to jail on a 7-year federal sentence. The "bribery" charge he was convicted of, as more than 100 former Republican and Democratic state Attorneys General explained in a letter to federal officials, should not have been considered bribery in the first place, did not net Siegelman one thin dime, and had never been a crime at all until the popular Alabama Governor was charged with it.

Siegelman --- who has now finished serving his time and has written a book about it called STEALING OUR DEMOCRACY: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Nation --- now sees a similar scheme in the effort to take down California's first term progressive Democratic Governor Newsom.

"This is nothing more than a Republican attempt to create turmoil, to rev up its troops, to try --- to try --- to replace Gavin Newsom, who is a rising star in the Democratic Party," Siegelman tells me. "This is exactly what they did to Gray Davis."

Responding to the news we shared from the San Francisco Chronicle over the weekend, detailing the repeated racist slurs from the official Recall Campaign --- on its website, by its advisors, organizers and funders --- referring to the "China virus", "Wuhan flu", etc., amid a wave of hate crimes against the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community since the COVID epidemic began, Siegelman argues the effort is "laced with racism."

"Coming from Alabama, I'm steeped in the politics of racism, starting with [four-term Alabama Governor] George Wallace," Siegelman explains. "I lived through that era where he was raising the Confederate battle flag at the state capitol and a few months later, four little girls at a Birmingham Church were blown to death with a dynamite bomb by the Ku Klux Klan because they felt emboldened by the racist comments of a Southern governor.  That's the danger of these people, like those who are organizing the recall of Gov. Newsom. It has serious consequences."

"On a political front," he adds, the recall effort "has to be taken seriously. Democrats have to understand that these people will do anything to try to take over our democracy, and it doesn't matter what they have to do to do it."

"Throughout the United States, they're trying to steal our democracy through changing election laws," the Governor notes, citing the more than 250 GOP measures now moving through more than 40 states to suppress the vote after the party lost the White House and U.S. Senate in last year's election. "HR1 [a massive Democratic election reform measure adopted by the U.S. House, but stalled by the filibuster in the U.S. Senate] needs to pass, in some form or other, and Joe Biden has simply got to find the votes to get it passed. If he has to run over the Republicans to get it done, so be it."

We also discuss a number of other points today during the interview with the former Alabama Governor, who was not only the last Democratic Governor to serve the state since leaving office in 2003, but also the only person to ever be elected to every major statewide office (Attorney General, Sec. of State, Lt. Governor and Governor). That, before any Presidential aspirations the then very popular Governor might have had were ultimately thwarted by the GOP hit job. (Sound familiar?)

Among the other points we discuss today: The dangers still facing federal prisoners during the COVID pandemic (which he joined us to discuss almost a year ago at the beginning of the pandemic), and his hopes that President Biden will help improve conditions in federal facilities and otherwise institute long-overdue criminal justice reform; The ongoing election at an Amazon Fulfillment Center in Bessemer, Alabama (near Birmingham) that, if successful, would result in the first unionized Amazon warehouse in the nation; And whether Siegelman, now that he has finally completed his full sentence and served his time as a "political prisoner", has any interest in returning to elected public life. (There is, after all, a U.S. Senate seat opening up in Alabama next year, after Democrat turned Republican U.S. Senator Richard Shelby recently announced plans to retire at the end of his current term. ("Never say never," teases the former Guv...after I rudely force it out of him!)

Finally, we close with a few calls from listeners in response to all of the above --- or try to, anyway...as we find ourselves forced to work to overcome a few phone hook-up snafus here at the station today...

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OH AG looks $5.5B federal gift-horse in mouth; AZ GOP sanctioned for 'groundless' lawsuit after well-run 2020 election; Repub attacks on democracy seek to send voters to 'Back of the Line'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/18/2021 7:17pm PT  

It's a bit of a grab bag on today's BradCast, but one that will hopefully keep you well prepared for your next conversation with any of your still brain-poisoned wingnut friends, family and coworkers.[Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Included in our grab bag of coverage today...

  • Ohio's Republican Attorney General Dave Yost is suing the Biden Administration because the $350 billion that the Democratic COVID relief bill (the American Rescue Plan) allocates to help all 50 states overcome a revenue cash crunch includes a provision that prevents states from using that free federal money to finance state tax cuts.
  • Of course, Ohio could also just refuse to take the $5.5 billion earmarked for them in the federal legislation, which not a single Republican voted for in the U.S. House or Senate, often describing it as a "blue state bailout". But, because we believe in facts around here...As detailed in a new report this week from the financial website WalletHub, Ohio's Republican-majority state government ranks 16th among those most dependent on the federal Government. In fact, the site's latest annual analysis finds that 11 of the top 12 states most dependent on D.C. are all controlled by Republicans, while 12 of the 14 least dependent are run by Democrats. In other words, "blue" state taxpayer dollars continue to be a perpetual "red" state bailout.
  • With the election of Joe Biden and two Democratic U.S. Senators in Arizona (the 7th most dependent on federal dollars), the state is finally trending "blue", even as Republicans still hold control of the state legislature and governor's mansion. But turning "purple" is only leading the state Republican Party to lurch farther and farther to the right under the embarrassing --- and now costly --- leadership of AZ GOP Chair Kelli Ward. This week, a state judge ordered the Party to pay $18,000 in costs and attorneys fees to the state's Democratic Secretary of State after a frivolous lawsuit sought to force another post-2020 election audit in Maricopa County (Phoenix). The "bad faith" and "groundless" GOP suit, as the judge noticed in his sanctions order describing the effort as "gaslighting," failed to recognize that the County had already run a post-election hand-counted ballot audit, finding no fraud or inaccuracies in its Dominion Voting System tabulators.
  • For good measure, in late January, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors commissioned another audit, this one examining voting system equipment and source code, searching for malicious software or hardware on the systems used in November, checking for evidence of inappropriate network or Internet connectivity issues and rechecking the accuracy of the tabulation system itself against millions of actual votes cast last year. In all cases, according to the two separate, independent, federally accredited voting system test labs commissioned to carry out the audit, "No Issues" were discovered across the board.
  • Despite the clean bill of health from those post-election audits and the failed, evidence-free lawsuits to try and overturn Biden's win in the Grand Canyon State, Republican lawmakers in the state legislature continue to move dozens of voter suppression bills forward in hopes of, at the very least, undercutting the state's very popular mail voting system, as used by 80 percent of voters (Republican and Democratic alike) even before the COVID pandemic. One such measure would both add onerous ID requirements to mail-in ballots and require that absentee ballots be postmarked by the Thursday before Election Day!
  • The efforts in Arizona are, of course, being echoed by Republicans in statehouses all across the country of late, with more than 250 voter suppression bills introduced in more than 40 states so far this year. All of which share the hope of making it harder for (certain) voters to cast ballots at all. The GOP has been hard at work at this sort of suppression for some time, though they are doubling and tripling down since the 2020 contest. All of which has echoes for folk singer/song writer MATT SIRCELY, whose new Back of the Line tune harkens back to the voting lines in Ohio in 2004, the lines of protesters marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama in 1965, and the bread lines of the Great Depression. If Matt thought that thanking me for inspiration on this song would lead us to play it on the show...he is correct!
  • Finally, we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, as extreme weather slams the North, South and West; as corporate media coverage of climate change fell over a cliff with the COVID pandemic last year; and as a top Texas utility regulator gets fired after being caught on tape helping to rig the system for corporate investors over Lone Star State rate-payers...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 3/16/2021 10:51am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: U.S. Senate confirms historic nomination of Rep. Deb Haaland as Interior Secretary; Jackson, MS still without clean drinking water one month after winter storm; US dams and levees get D grades from American engineers; Democrats turn to crafting massive infrastructure bill, with focus on climate resilience; PLUS: February 2021 was the 16th warmest February globally... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): New E.P.A. Head Says Agency Has Climate Regulations Underway; Congress Launches Probe Into Multibillion-Dollar 'Clean Coal' Tax Credit; Cold War Ice Core Reveals Greenland Was Recently Ice-Free; Countries Tried to Curb Trade in Plastic Waste. The US Is Shipping More; Western States Chart Diverging Paths As Water Shortages Loom; Tiny Town, Big Decision: What Are We Willing to Pay to Fight Rising Sea?; Auto industry urges emissions deal weaker than Obama’s; 8-month PFAS disclosure gap draws backlash for MI officials... PLUS: Capitol mob may have trashed 3 Trump pollution rules... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guest: 30-year veteran Leon County, FL elections chief Ion Sancho; Also: Callers ring in on that and Biden's progressive American Rescue Plan...
By Brad Friedman on 3/15/2021 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The Republican assault on voting rights is not only happening in states where the GOP lost, for the first time in many years, at the Presidential level in 2020, like Georgia. It's also happening in states that Donald Trump won in 2020, but by a smaller margin than in 2016, like Texas. And, yes, it's also happening in the few states where Trump won in 2020 and actually increased his winning margin over 2016, like Florida. But in Florida, state elections officials, including Republicans, are furious about it. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

While GOP state lawmakers are, right now, pushing hundreds of vote suppression bills in more than 40 states, based on Trump's Big Lie that he won the 2020 election (he didn't), a very small handful of Republicans are pushing back. In Georgia, on Sunday, the state's Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan appeared to decry at least some of the GOP efforts to curb voting rights in the Peach State. Last week, he walked out of the state Senate while presiding over a debate over passage of a new GOP bill that would disallow no-excuse absentee voting and implement many other restrictions. Over the weekend on NBC's 'Meet the Press', Duncan argued "Republicans don’t need election reforms to win, we need leadership."

Meanwhile, in Florida, where even Trump didn't forward phony claims about absentee fraud --- where he actually lauded their absentee vote system (in no small part because he voted illegally by absentee there) --- GOPers are, nonetheless, instituting new restrictions that would ban drop-boxes and remove the state's system that allows voters to sign up to be on the mail-in voting list for four years at a time. That, and other new restrictions on voting rights in the Sunshine State, are all included in an omnibus bill introduced by state Sen. Dennis Baxley called SB90. But, at least in Florida, state elections officials --- Democratic and Republican alike --- are pushing back.

Why, after the 2020 election, when even Republicans in the state like Gov. Ron DeSantis declared it to be one of the best and most secure elections in state history are GOPers now moving to restrict the franchise?

We're joined for some answers today by 30-year veteran Leon County (Tallahassee), FL Supervisor of Elections, ION SANCHO. The longtime, legendary champion of voting rights finally retired in 2016, after becoming so well respected by his fellow county elections officials, from all parties, that he was tapped to oversee the contentious and eventually aborted 2000 statewide recount between George W. Bush and Al Gore.

But now, the longtime Election Integrity champion says, he is furious at what Republicans are doing, and says that it's all about DeSantis' 2022 re-election hopes. "What's being overlooked by the national press," Sancho tells us today, "is that this issue, while framed nationally by the disgraced ex-President, is really being pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, who in 2018 won by a scant 30,000 votes out of 8 million cast. He's scared to death because the Democrats right now have an over-half-a-million vote margin for individuals signed up to get that vote-by-mail ballot."

All of that plays into Republican fears of mail-in ballot drop-boxes, even though, as Sancho notes, they are far more secure than the U.S. mail, particularly after Republicans in the state's General Assembly previously adopted rules to ensure secure, manned drop-boxes in every county.

"Of the millions of Democratic voters that voted by mail, 1.5 million of them dropped them off in those vote-by-mail ballot drop-boxes before Trump laid out his plot to try to steal the election by damning vote-by-mail ballots," Sancho explains. "The Republican legislature, whose Republican base had always outvoted the Democrats from 2000 to 2020, required by law that each vote-by-mail ballot establishment have a drop -box."

"Then the bottom dropped out. COVID hit and the Democratic Party in the State of Florida said we don't want to subject our voters to go door to door, so they embarked on a phone program to enroll people in vote-by-mail . That was overwhelmingly successful, and vote-by-mail dramatically increased on the Democratic Party side to the point now that today, if Gov. DeSantis doesn't get rid of that list [of voters signed up for long-term absentee voting], he's facing a half a million vote margin to begin with. That's what's driving this particular bill this year." The new bill would wipe out the existing list and mandate that all voters re-sign up for it now, and then every two years thereafter.

"This is deja vu all over again," rails Sancho who charges "this slander" that "has caused people to doubt the veracity of elections" has made him "very angry." He draws a bead on Republican state Senator Baxley, the sponsor of SB90, charging this is not his "first drive-by shooting on carrying the Republican voter suppression. In 2010 he was author of [a bill] which dramatically curtailed early voting, because Obama carried early voting here in Florida [in 2008] by such a large margin that an actual majority of all African-Americans in this state voted at an early voting location. This is a tried-and-true playbook with the same characters involved."

As usual, there is much more in our conversation, including Sancho's take on the evidence-free, post-2020 GOP attacks on the Dominion Voting Systems company. Sancho has been a longtime thorn in the side of private elections vendors and their computerized voting and tabulation systems. He played a starring role in HBO's Emmy-nominated 2006 documentary Hacking Democracy, when he oversaw what became the first known hack of a Diebold optical-scan tabulator, as depicted live, as it happened, in the film's climactic finale.

"It's been rigged here," he tells me flatly. "Again, I've been watching these 'How can we curtail this? How can we do that?', and it's been going on since 2000."

Finally, we open the phones up for a few minutes for listener feedback on all of the above (including one fun Trump-supporting caller who is hopping mad about the conversation with Sancho!), and on my contention last week that Joe Biden and the Democrats' massive, progressive $1.9 trillion COVID relief and stimulus bill, the American Rescue Plan, could finally signal the long-overdue end of the four-decade old Ronald Reagan Era in this country...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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