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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, August 14, 2022
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
South Korea latest victim of deadly flash floods; Repub state treasurers coordinate to block climate action by private companies; PLUS: Mexico emergency over drought protests...
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 (& Mostly 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
  w/ Brad & Desi
GNR Special Coverage: U.S. Senate Democrats pass landmark climate legislation, the first in U.S. history...
Recent GNRs: 8/4/22 - 8/2/22 - Archives...
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!...
GA Dem Seeks to 'Unpack' SCOTUS, Hold 'Ethically Bankrupt' Justices to Account: 'BradCast' 8/4/22
Guest: Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-4) on Court expansion, term limits, more; Also: TN votes...
'Green News Report' 8/4/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Back-to-back storms reveal U.S. not ready for climate impacts; Climate change increasing humidity; Big biz targets Dem climate bill; PLUS: Nat'l EV charging network almost here...
Recent GNRs: 8/2/22 - 7/28/22 - Archives...
UNconventional Times: The Power of Abortion Rights (and Danger of Election Deniers) on the Ballot: 'BradCast' 8/3/22
Critical lessons (and warnings) from primary results in AZ, KS, MI, MO, WA, OH...
'Green News Report' 8/2/22
Death toll rises in catastrophic KY flooding; Extreme heat, fires sear U.S. West; Big Oil's big profits; PLUS: Manchin-Schumer compromise a game changer for climate?...
Too Little Too Late? Or Not a Moment Too Soon?: 'BradCast' 8/1/22
Can Dems finally pass Schumer-Manchin bill to save the climate (and themselves)?; Also: Biden's 'rebound'; KY's death toll; Tuesday primaries; Callers ring in...
Sunday 'Party of Personal Freedom' Toons
Bringing new meaning to "freedom isn't free" in PDiddie's latest collection of the best toons of this past week...
Leaked: FL Power Co. Secretly Took Over 'News' Site, Ran Fake Candidates, Targeted Critics: 'BradCast' 7/29/22
Guest: Energy and Policy's Alissa Jean Schafer; OAN cooked?; Stewart v. GOP Sens...
Establishment Pressure Haunted Manchin Into Major Deal on Taxes, Healthcare and Climate: 'BradCast' 7/28/22
And Schumer outfoxed McConnell to do it! Also: More signs of UNconventional midterms...
'Green News Report' 7/28/22
Manchin and Schumer reach deal on climate and energy bill; Russia slashes gas to Europe; PLUS: Public pressure leads USPS to quadruple plan for electric delivery trucks...
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...


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

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: U.S. Senate confirms historic nomination of Michael Regan to head EPA; Biden's COVID relief bill is also sort of a climate bill; First major U.S. offshore wind farm clears key hurdle; PLUS: Ten years since triple disasters devastated Japan... 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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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Geothermal Could be a Sleeper; European Parliament backs carbon border tax; DOE will spend billions on electric vehicle R&D in jobs fight with China; One bright side of 2020: A surge in battery storage; U.S. lawmakers propose giving USPS $6 billion for electric delivery vehicles... PLUS: Direct Air Capture of CO2 Is Suddenly a Carbon Offset Option... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




Guest: Labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein of UC-Santa Barbara; Also: Biden's hugely progressive $1.9T 'American Rescue Plan' receives final Congressional approval; And Randy Rainbow needs a vaccine...
By Brad Friedman on 3/10/2021 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Joe Biden has been winning quite a bit lately. Today was no exception. So, can he turn that winning streak into a win for labor unions and keep his campaign promise to be "the most pro-union President you've ever seen"?  As of now, he's on track for that as well, according to historians and labor leaders --- even if that's admittedly not a very high bar. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

On Wednesday, Biden saw three more of his cabinet picks nominated on a bipartisan basis in the U.S. Senate.  Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio will become the first African American woman to lead the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development in 40 years, after vowing to address systemic racial inequities at the federal agency. Michael Regan was confirmed as the first black man to head up the Environmental Protection Agency. And Merrick Garland received his long awaited confirmation as our new Attorney General, as the widely-respected, veteran federal judge takes on the tall task of fulfilling Biden's promise to restore independence to the Dept. of Justice.

None of those, however, were Biden's biggest wins of the day, as the U.S. House gave final approval for his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. The massive COVID relief and stimulus package now heads to the White House for his signature on what some describe as one of the most progressive bills to ever come out of Congress. $1,400 checks to individuals and a $300/week extension of unemployment benefits is just a small part of the bill, which also includes annual payments of up to $3,600 per child, in a provision which policy experts say will cut child poverty in half and adult poverty by a quarter. It will reduce the overall poverty rate in 2021 by more than a third, lower the rate for Black people by as much as 42%, 39% for Hispanics and 34% for white people. In addition, the measure will send $130 billion to reopen schools safely, $34 billion will expand Obamacare subsidies to many more people, $25 billion for emergency rental assistance, and $14 billion will help to speed vaccine distribution, among many other such initiatives. That, on a day that Biden also announced he was securing another 100 million vaccine doses from Johnson & Johnson.

No wonder Republicans have no clue how to oppose the plan (other than with obviously ridiculous and silly lies), after the package received zero votes from GOPers in either the House or Senate. Democrats own this one, and they should do so loudly and proudly. The additional good news here for now is that even Chuck Schumer finally seems to "get it". There is no upside to negotiating with Republicans if they are going to be doing so in bad faith, as they did on the stimulus bill under Obama in response to the Great Recession.

But the central focus of our show today is on a couple of moves by the President that labor leaders, experts, and academics are citing to describe Biden as, so far, the most pro-worker, pro-labor, pro-union President in decades, and maybe ever.

Last week, he surprised a lot of folks on the left by tweeting a direct, unambiguous video message of support for workers who are now voting on whether to unionize at an Amazon warehouse outside of Birmingham, Alabama. It would be the first such facility to do so in the nation. Biden's two and a half message lauded unions for creating the middle class and spoke to American workers' rights under the law to organize for collective bargaining without corporate interference.

And this week, he issued a direct, unambiguous statement of support for the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act before its passage in the House on Tuesday. Labor leaders describe the initiative as the most progressive, pro-union bill in 80 years. Of course, now all it has to do is overcome a filibuster in the Senate.

We're joined today by longtime labor historian and author NELSON LICHTENSTEIN, Distinguished Professor at UC-Santa Barbara, where he directs the Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy. Lichtenstein explains both the importance of the PRO Act and the ongoing vote to unionize Amazon down in Alabama. He also addresses the question as to whether Biden could become the most pro-union President in modern times, or even in history.

"The bar is very low," Lichtenstein concedes, in comparing Biden to recent Presidents who may have supported unions with words --- though none as directly as we've seen from Biden to date --- but not necessarily with their actions. "Biden is saying all the right things, but this will all fade unless there actually is legislation that is passed in some form" that turns "the reality on the ground" into a "revival of trade unionism."

"It's one thing to say terrific things --- and I'm not being cynical, all power to him  --  but history will judge him by whether or not there is in fact an increase in real wages, an increase in union membership, an increase in the power of organized labor."

The colorful professor has much more to say that I can possibly do justice to here, so please tune in. But, after we discuss how it just so happens that the most prosperous period in history for the American middle class also coincides with the era when trade unionism and collective bargaining were at their zenith, I ask if there is any actual historical economic data in support of the notion that unions are somehow either bad for business or workers, as folks on the right would have you believe, and as all too many in this country have fallen for after decades of corporate, anti-union propaganda.

"No," Lichtenstein answers emphatically. "There is no support for that. It is good both economically, in an immediate sense, and even more important, politically, because it helps sustain a social democratic ethos and policy block in the country." He goes on to add: "One of the reasons for the deterioration in America of everything --- from race relations to stagnating living standards --- is because of the weakness of unions in the last forty, fifty years."

As noted, do yourself a favor and tune in for our conversation. I learned a lot and suspect you may as well. And, as a gift, we close today with arguably the ONLY good thing to come out of the Trump years: national treasure Randy Rainbow returns with another new tune that may keep you humming all night...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Public Citizen's Matt Kent on the Congressional Review Act's closing window; Also: IA, GA Repubs pass vote suppression bills; Palm Beach resident Trump votes by absentee...again...
By Brad Friedman on 3/9/2021 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Democrats could roll back dozens of toxic and/or corrupt Trump-era regulations, many of which had, themselves, rolled back previous regulations. And they can do it with a simple, filibuster-proof majority vote in the U.S. Senate. But they must act quickly. So, what's the hold up? [Audio link to full show follows below summary.]

First up today, however, some quick elections news. Donald Trump, who decried absentee voting for everyone but himself while he lived at the White House and voted by mail unlawfully using Mar-a-Lago as his voting address, had previous claimed it was just fine that he voted by absentee, since he was legitimately not in Palm Beach, Florida to cast his vote.  Well, Palm Beach is holding municipal elections today, and guest which current resident of the town has requested an absentee ballot to vote?

Meanwhile, the post-2020 GOP attempt to roll back access to the ballot is gaining speed in state legislatures across the country. The Brennan Center for Justice cites more than 200 such measures proposed in more than 40 states as of mid-February.  One of them, a bill in Iowa that shortens Early Voting days and polling place hours, among other restrictions, was signed into law by the state's Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds on Monday.  On Tuesday, civil rights groups filed suit.

Down in Georgia, a massive number of restrictions on voting --- most notably, mail-in voting --- are being quickly passed by both chambers of the state General Assembly.  As in Iowa, it's all being done with party line votes, with furious Democrats voting in opposition. On Monday, the GA state Senate passed a bill that, among other things, ends no-excuse absentee voting for most voters, even as 1.3 million took advantage of the convenient (and, during a pandemic, safer) way to vote in last year's Presidential election. But after Democrats won that election in November and both U.S. Senate runoffs in January, Republicans are now hoping to reverse the no-excuse mail-in voting law they themselves passed with their GOP-majority back in 2005. Shamefully, that is not the only new restriction that Republican state lawmakers are trying to enact in the Peach State, with many of the new restrictions aimed at suppressing minority voters.  And, as in Iowa, despite a lack of evidence of any voter fraud in their elections, Republicans are pretending that these new suppression tactics are necessary to prevent voter fraud.

Many provisions of the restrictive bills being pushed through state legislatures would be blocked by the Democrats' major voting rights bill, H.R.1, the "For the People Act" at the federal level.  The bill has already been passed in the U.S. House (with zero GOP votes), but unless the Senate filibuster rules are reformed --- or Joe Manchin comes to his senses (or both) --- the bill will almost certainly fail to overcome Republican opposition in the upper chamber.

At the same time, however, while Democrats are forced to look forward to protect upcoming elections, there are scores of corrupt, dangerous, Trump-era federal regulations that can now be rolled back with a simple majority vote in both chambers of Congress. No need to get 60 votes in the Senate! But Democrats have to act fast to overturn these Trump rules before the clock runs out on the 60 legislative days since the new Congress began which allow for rolling back a previous Administration's regulatory rules under the Clinton-era Congressional Review Act (CRA).

There is an enormous number of measures that Democrats could reverse immediately, enacted at the last minute by the Trump Administration at dozens of federal agencies such as the EPA, Dept. of Interior, Dept. of Energy, USDA, NOAA, Dept. of Justice, Dept. of Transportation, Dept. of Labor, HUD, HHS, the Veterans Administration, DHS and others. But, as Public Citizen has been reporting, the window to repeal parts of "Trump's deregulatory legacy" is quickly closing before an April 4th deadline to introduce simple resolutions for each specific regulatory action they wish to roll back.

We're joined today by MATT KENT, Regulatory Policy Associate at Public Citizen who, with Amit Narang, has been furiously attempting to sound the alarm about all of this (and about the regulations that the Trump Administration screwed up when issuing them, making it even easier for Biden to reverse on his own.)

"Anything completed within 60 legislative days of the end of the preceding Congress --- so, for our purposes, anything the Trump Administration finalized after August 21, 2020 --- anything after that is available to be undone by this Congress," Kent explains. "There's a real opportunity here for the Biden Administration and the Democratic Congress to more or less supercharge their efforts to use the CRA, to really expand the scope of regulations that are available to be removed --- deregulatory action is a better way to put it."

"This is a filibuster buster," he tells me. "This is something you can use to really get around a huge roadblock in the Senate. That's the way it was designed by the Republicans who created the law."

While the non-partisan government watchdog Public Citizen has long opposed the CRA, Kent argues turnabout is fair play. While the law was little used until Trump came to office, Republicans too advantage of it to overturn more than a dozen Obama-era rules. Kent advises it should be used here again, and then "pull up the ladder" to abolish it.

"The sands are moving through the hourglass here," he says, referencing the upcoming CRA deadline before offering some bewildering news: "So far, there have not been any Congressional  Review Act resolutions introduced at all. I am a little surprised that no Democrat has introduced a disapproval resolution."

He predicts "we'll probably see some in the next few weeks, but the pace has definitely been slow." What could possibly explain the hold up? We discuss.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with some more news about rollbacks to Trump-era rollbacks, specifically, in this case, at the Dept. of Interior. That good news, as usual in the GNR, is balanced by some decidedly less good news --- on another bankrupt coal company hoping to pass its toxic mess on to the tax-payers, and a sleazy (and so far, successful) effort by the natural gas industry to block any and all changes to city building codes, meant to combat climate change, around the nation...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Chuck Collins of Institute for Policy Studies' Inequality.org; Also: 2021 flu season proves masks work; Swalwell latest to sue Trump...
By Brad Friedman on 3/5/2021 7:00pm PT  

Prepare to be outraged by some gobsmacking and maddening numbers from today's guest on The BradCast. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

But first, speaking of startling numbers, statistics from this year's flu season prove that masks and social distancing do indeed help to prevent viral transmission and death. That, of course, is bad news for residents of Texas and Mississippi, where their idiot Governors this week lifted statewide mask mandates and all restrictions on businesses, even as COVID infection rates are on the rise in both states. Both are among the top 10 worst states in the nation in that regard in recent weeks. Mississippi leads the nation, with Texas not far behind. And that was before they ended statewide mandates this week in contradiction of strong advice from health experts.

In Washington, Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA), one of the House Impeachment Managers during Donald Trump's second Impeachment Trial, filed suit against the disgraced former President, his son Don Jr., Rudy Giuliani and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) for their roles in inciting the January 6th U.S. Capitol insurrection. Swalwell's civil complaint follows on a similar one filed last month by Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson and the NAACP.

At the same time today, the U.S. Senate continued debate over the American Rescue Plan, President Biden's $1. 9 trillion emergency COVID relief and stimulus package after Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin forced an all-night reading of the 628-page measure that was passed by the House late last week. In addition to funds to speed distribution of vaccines, the bill includes $1,400 payments to Americans making less than $75,000, an extension of federal unemployment benefits, hundreds of millions to reopen schools safely, and to supplement lost revenue to hard-hit, cash-strapped states and cities.

As tens of millions of Americans have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and are both struggling to keep a roof over their heads and put food on the table, the relief can't come soon enough, despite zero votes of support from Republicans in either the House or Senate, so far, for the otherwise wildly popular bill. Johnson described it as a "boondoggle" full of unnecessary spending that would blow out the national deficit, even as it will cost the same amount of money that he and all the other Republicans voted in favor of when they passed Donald Trump's 2017 tax cuts for mostly wealthy Americans and corporations.

But while Senators --- even on the Democratic side --- squabble over whether unemployment payments should be $400 a week and last through August, or $300 a week and last until September, America's 664 billionaires could cover almost the entire cost of the measure from only the money they've made during the last 11 months of the pandemic.

We spoke last Summer with CHUCK COLLINS, Director of the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies, where he co-edits Inequality.org, about his "Billionaire Bonanza 2020" report. Today, he joins us again with a maddening update to that report, finding that, as more than half a million Americans died, 73 million lost work, nearly 100,000 business permanently closed, 29 million adults reported their household did not have enough food over the past week and 11 million children didn't eat enough because their household couldn't afford to fully feed them, the 664 billionaires in the U.S. actually gained $1.3 trillion in added wealth since the beginning of the pandemic!

The profits of that handful of mostly white, male billionaires could cover more than two-thirds of the entire $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and, "At $4.2 trillion," Collins' updated report reveals, "the total wealth of America's 664 billionaires is also more than two-thirds higher than the $2.4 trillion in total wealth held by the bottom half of the population, 165 million Americans."

Those are just some of the startling numbers from his latest report, highlighting the obscene inequality in the U.S., made even worse by the nearly year-long coronavirus pandemic. Shamefully, all of the numbers are still worse for women and people of color. "The inequalities of income and wealth and the racial wealth divide were the pre-existing conditions as we went into the pandemic," he explains. Collins tell me that "the number of people who have no financial reserves --- zero, or negative financial wealth" is "14% of white households...but double that, 28% of Black households, 26% of Latino households...[and] that was before the pandemic."

"That's why 660 billionaires can have almost twice as much as the bottom half of US households --- because the bottom half doesn't have much!," he reports. So, what to do about it? Will the American Rescue Plan help? How about Sen. Elizabeth Warren's recently refiled "Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act" that would tax two cents of every dollar of wealth above $50 million, generating at least $3 trillion in revenue over ten years in the bargain.

Warren cites Collins' new study in making the case for her new wealth tax proposal. Her proposal is wildly popular among voters of all political stripes, as she pitched a similar version during her Presidential run last year. The fact that it isn't already the law, Collins argues, "is simply a reflection of the power of wealthy interests to block change in our political system. It's not that they're changing the political system --- they're able to stop and thwart and block change. And that's unfortunately what we're up against."

"That's the debate we're watching right now in the Senate," he adds, "where half the members in the Senate, they don't have a program to help America get through these hard times. They just want to block the one that would actually make a difference. Unfortunately, the Republicans have been the 'Party of No' because they don't want government to succeed in making a difference in people's lives, because that would undermine their whole program."

Yes, we've got a lot to discuss today with Collins, whose newest book out this month, The Wealth Hoarders: How Billionaires Spend Millions to Hide Trillions, details "the shadowy Wealth Defense Industry," which he explains today as well. Sen. Bernie Sanders writes that "Chuck's book reveals a blueprint for reversing this obscene inequality so we can take back our democracy and ensure that our government works for everybody --- not just the billionaire class and wealthy campaign contributors"...

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House passes H.R.1., so now what?; MI audits find 2020 results accurate, so now what?; AZ Senate finally gets ahold of Maricopa County's 2020 ballots, so now what?; GOP Congressman admits to three counts of felony voter fraud...so guess what?!...
By Brad Friedman on 3/4/2021 6:31pm PT  

We've got mostly democracy-related stories to report on today's BradCast. Some good news, and some bad. But there's a whole bunch of anti-democracy GOP fraud throughout, because what democracy story in the U.S. these days doesn't include Republican fraud and/or attempted voter suppression? [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

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

  • We start with one story that has little to do with democracy, though it should be enough to ensure these two idiot Governors are never elected to anything ever again. In case you are unclear just how idiotic the Governors of Texas and Mississippi are, after they lifted all COVID restrictions in each state this week in hopes that folks won't notice how horrifically they failed their own constituents following the winter storm there three weeks ago, Axios reports today that, while COVID infections rates are still falling in most states, the rate in Texas is up 27 percent over the past week and Mississippi's is up a nation-leading 62 percent! Luckily, both states are islands, so the idiocy of their Republican Governors won't effect everyone else's efforts to get beyond this pandemic once and for all, right?
  • House Democrats, as expected, passed H.R.1 --- the "For the People Act" --- on Wednesday night with zero Republican votes. The massive, landmark, once-in-a-generation voting rights, campaign finance reform and ethics reform bill now moves to the Senate. In that undemocratic body, however, where a simple majority is NOT enough to pass a democracy reform bill as of now, it will likely die, unless enough pressure is applied on Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to do the right thing, reform the filibuster, and allow this critical (if imperfect) measure to pass while Democrats have a brief opportunity right now to do so. The measure is long overdue and, according to new polling, wildly popular with the American people of all parties. 68% of likely voters favor the bill, and even a majority of Republicans (57%), back it as well.
  • The sad (and dangerous) Trump/GOP effort to con Americans into believing last November's election was stolen from the disgraced former President --- despite all evidence to the contrary --- continues.  And the massive evidence to the contrary continues to mount. This week, Michigan's Secretary of State announced that the results of a second statewide post-election audit once again confirms the initially reported results. "All of Michigan’s more than 250 election audits are now complete, and each and every one of them affirmed the integrity of the November election and the accuracy of the results," Sec. of State Jocelyn Benson said on Thursday. The audits were carried out by "More than 1,300 Republican, Democratic, and non-partisan election clerks...working across the aisle to review one another's procedures, ballots and machines in coordination with the state Bureau of Elections." Full hand-counts were carried out in some places, such as Antrim County, where Republicans pretended that Dominion Voting Systems machines were used to try and steal the election from Trump.  And, in heavily populated cities like Detroit, election officials determined that, of 174,000 absentee ballots tallied in the city, only 17 votes were ultimately "out of balance" (where the number of ballots cast in a precinct differed from the number of envelopes or signatures accounted for.)
  • But the most embarrassing state GOP idiocy of the week may belong to the Republican-controlled state Senate in Arizona. After months of subpoenas to elections officials, ordering them to turn over all 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County (Phoenix) last year --- and even coming within one vote of throwing elections officials there in jail for following state law by securely retaining custody of the ballots cast in the County last November --- a state judge finally ordered Maricopa officials to obey the subpoena to deliver all ballots to the Senate, so they could count them themselves. They were all delivered, 73 pallets of them, this week. And guess what? Senate Republicans have no idea what to do with them now.  The story is even worse than it sounds, as we discuss today.
  • But at least officials in Kansas were finally able to find some voter fraud. Specifically, voter fraud by now-former Republican U.S. House Rep. Steve Watkins of Topeka. The one-term Congressman was defeated last year. But not before he lied about his residence, using the address of a UPS store on his voter registration, voted in an election he was not entitled to vote in, and then lied to state investigators about it all.  He was charged with three felonies related to voting. This week, however --- because, luckily, he is a white, male Republican from Kansas --- prosecutors are allowing him to enter a diversion agreement that delays his trial for six months, and drops the charges entirely if he's a good boy through September. We compare his treatment to that of Crystal Mason, an African-American mother of three in Texas, who, unlike the Kansas Congressman, had no idea she was violating the law when she cast a provisional ballot that was never counted in the 2016 election. She received a sentence of five years in prison for her "crime".
  • Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, as climate change has resulted in the weakest Gulf Stream in about 1,000 years; carbon emissions are rising again as COVID restrictions are loosened; Joe Biden raises U.S. targets under the Paris Climate Agreement; and another major carmaker announces plans to stop selling all gas burning, internal combustion engine vehicles in their line in very very short order...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 3/2/2021 11:12am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Water crisis persists in Texas and Jackson, Mississippi, two weeks after extreme winter storm; Latinos disproportionately exposed to worst water in US, new study finds; US House passes Biden's COVID relief bill boosting heating assistance for low-income families; PLUS: As cities move to electrify buildings, the natural gas industry is striking back... 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): Austin, Texas had a bold new climate plan – until a gas company got involved; Biden administration pauses transfer of holy Native American land to mining firm... PLUS: More States Follow California's Lead On Vehicle Emissions Standards... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guest: National Security blogger Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel; Also: SCOTUS rejects GOP challenge to PA's 2020 election results; GA Repubs move new vote suppression measures forward...
By Brad Friedman on 2/23/2021 6:45pm PT  

By a number of happily surprising measures, the confirmation of Joe Biden's Attorney General nominee is going very well. Perhaps even better than expected, according to our guest on today's BradCast.  And, best yet, it may even result in some serious consequences for our former President. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But, first up today...The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday finally dismissed a bunch of silly and/or meritless MAGA challenges to the 2020 Presidential elections results in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia and Arizona. But the case out of Pennsylvania, in which dissents [PDF] to its dismissal were offered by Justices Clarence Thomas, Sam Alito and Neil Gorsuch, warrants notice. The case argued that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in ordering [PDF] a three-day extension for the arrival of mail-in ballots, prior to the November 2020 election, violated the U.S. Constitution. The PA Supremes found that, given the pandemic and slow-downs in mail delivery by the U.S. Postal Service, the state's deadline for ballots to arrive by the close of polls at 8pm on Election Night violated their own state constitution's mandate for fair elections. The Republican challenge to their ruling charged that the state high court was in violation of a radical interpretation of the U.S. Constitution's Elections Clause allowing "The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections" for federal office "shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof".

That, their argument goes, means that only state legislatures may set any provision whatsoever pertaining to elections. Any such procedure set by a Secretary of State or Governor or even a state Supreme Court is therefore unconstitutional on the federal level. Or so the GOP is now claiming. It is, for several reasons, a ridiculous argument. But it is one that has been given new life in the Trump Era as desperate Republicans took their cue from the former President to come up with any reason whatsoever to nullify election results they didn't like.  There are now at least three, arguably four, Justices on our stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court who appear to buy into the radical argument. Nonetheless, the case was dismissed on Monday on the grounds that the matter was moot. (There were about 10,000 late arriving ballots in PA last November, and Biden won the state by about 80,000 votes.) But, without an election hanging in the balance, the dissenters noted that this case would have been an ideal moment to settle this matter. Oddly enough, I actually agree on that last point with Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch, and we discuss why on today's show.

That, as GOP-controlled legislatures around the country continue to move forward with new voter suppression schemes following their loss on the Presidential level in 2020. Today for example, Georgia's Republican-majority Senate approved a measure that would require a copy of a Photo ID to even request a mail-in ballot. And that's just the start of what the state's wingnut legislature is now up to, after having recently lost the Presidential race and two U.S. Senate seats in the Peach State.

All of which underscores again the critical need for Congress to pass HR-1, the "For the People Act," which would go a long way toward blocking the new GOP attacks on the right to vote. To do that, of course, Democrats in the Senate will need to end the filibuster. And to do that, Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema will have to come to understand how they are allowing these overt attacks on democracy itself to worsen at the state level, as they protect the undemocratic Jim Crow-era filibuster.

Then, we're joined by longtime national security and accountability blogger MARCY WHEELER of Emptywheel, who has now moved to Ireland for reasons that she explains on today's program. The real reason we wanted to catch up with her, however, is to discuss the ongoing confirmation process for Biden's AG-designate Merrick Garland --- who completed his GOP-stalled second day of testimony in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday and to discuss Monday's unanimous ruling by SCOTUS that Trump's financial documents must now be handed over to the Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, Jr., for his criminal probe into alleged tax, bank and insurance fraud by Trump and his organization, as well as the unlawful conspiracy he directed involving hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.

Is Trump soon to face very real accountability that could actually include jail time? Whether it's in the New York state case, another criminal investigation into his election interference in Georgia, or even under AG Garland's promised federal response to the conspiracy to take over the U.S. Capitol on January 6th?

Wheeler has lots of thoughts on all of the above on today's BradCast --- and you probably won't be angry about (most of) them. I'll share just one of them for now here, regarding those charged for conspiracy for the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol: "All of these defendants, one after another, saying 'I was just swept up by the inflammatory language of the then-President. That may be true, but it doesn't get them off for the crime. But if one after another are saying 'Trump made me do it,' then at some point you've got to respond to that."

Now may be a good time to brush up on the legal meaning of the phrase "seditious conspiracy."

Finally, we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, on the continuing fall out from the Texas power and water failure over the past week, the fossil fuel-funded GOPers who lied about it, and the not-a-moment-too-soon official U.S. return to the Paris Climate Agreement...

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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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Special Coverage Day 2 with former Deputy Asst. AG Lisa Graves on the point-by-point case against Trump and how he might respond; Also: GA prosecutor opens criminal probe of Trump's attempted election theft...
By Brad Friedman on 2/10/2021 6:38pm PT  

On today's BradCast: On the same day that news broke that Fulton County (Atlanta), Georgia's newly elected prosecutor has opened a criminal investigation into Donald Trump's apparent attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election in her state, the U.S. House Impeachment Managers began their not-unrelated and rather damning opening argument against the disgraced former President in his historic second U.S. Senate Impeachment Trial. And though it was not necessarily surprising, it was still stunning to see that Fox "News" didn't even bother to carry some of the most disturbing and chilling testimony and video presented on Wednesday. [Audio link to show follows below summary.]

Our special, seat-of-our-pants coverage continues today, as Democrats from the House laid out what certainly came across as a compelling, seemingly air-tight, point-by-point case against Trump. They detailed, through his own repeated tweets and media statements, all the way back to last Summer, how he cultivated and prepared his supporters for his false claim that, if he lost the election, it could only be due to massive election fraud.

While the Article of Impeachment itself, for "Incitement of Insurrection" at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, focuses largely on that day's deadly attack by his MAGA Mob, Trump had laid the groundwork for the assault for months. The House Managers offered a meticulous presentation of tweets and media statements from the then-President, detailing how he used his various platforms to gin up false outrage about a "stolen election", both before and after the election itself. That, despite a lack of evidence to support his claims and his carefully orchestrated attack on the last day possible to prevent the final certification of Joe Biden's decisive Electoral College victory.

Lead Impeachment Manager Jamie Raskin (MD), describing Trump as "the Inciter-in-Chief," charged that his scheme was "the greatest betrayal of the Presidential Oath in the history of the United States." The entire team of Managers spelled out exactly how Trump "praised, supported and cultivated" the eventual violence that resulted in five deaths that day, including a Capitol Police officer, two officer suicides in the days that followed, and well over 100 serious injuries to police attempting to protect the Capitol and the hundreds of lawmakers inside.

"For months," Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA) explained during his presentation, "Trump assembled the logs and the kindling" to convince his supporters that the election would be rigged, "so if he lost, his supporters would be ready to light the match."  And they were --- especially after Trump "doused the flames with kerosene" once he lost the election and eventually ran out of non-violent option to overturn it.

Unfolding, appropriately enough, like a violent crime prosecution, the Managers detailed how Trump ignored more than 60 court challenges he lost (several of which were at the hands of federal judges he himself had appointed); pressured and threatened election officials in several states to change results in his favor; attacked Senators and members of the House for failing to take action on his behalf; pressured the Dept. of Justice to bring fraudulent fraud cases; and even used his platforms to repeatedly attack his own Vice President Mike Pence for refusing to try and steal the election for him.

By the time his supporters were primed to storm the Capitol on January 6, as previously unseen video and federal charging documents reveal, many in Trump's mob were focused on the assassinations of Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, among others. Chilling surveillance footage of fleeing lawmakers and courageous, quick-thinking law enforcement officials also reveals how close the insurrectionist mob actually came to being able to do so. It's miraculous that there weren't even more deaths.

Underscoring the entire case, however, is the fact that none of it --- none of the violence, none of the death --- would have occurred, had not Trump incited it and then failed to stop it. All of it. On purpose. Unapologetically, even now.

We're joined today for insight on today's historic proceedings and how Trump's defense team can possibly respond to it, by LISA GRAVES of True North Research. With her experience as a former Deputy Asst. Attorney General at the U.S. Justice Dept., a former Chief Counsel in the U.S. Senate, and a former Deputy Chief for the U.S. Court system, she brings a broad and helpful perspective to all of this.

Among the points discussed today, in addition to her general opinion of the case to date by the House Managers: How this Impeachment Trial differs both from Trump's first one and Bill Clinton's; Whether she would like to see witnesses called during this trial and, if so, who?; How much of this matter should be seen as "Kabuki Theater" given the general belief (true or not) that there are unlikely to be 17 Republican Senators willing to vote for conviction, as needed; Whether this Impeachment Trial helps or hurts the odds of criminal charges being brought against Trump in the future for this matter; And what she might expect from Trump's defense attorneys in response.

"I think it's vital that, under our Constitution, these proceedings take place even if there are members of that body who do not have the courage -- the moral courage --- or the devotion to our Constitution to do the right thing, based on the evidence that's been presented so far, to convict Donald Trump," Graves tells me. "I think there should be accountability for members based on how they vote in this trial. And people should be held to account for whether they are willing to speak up against this unprecedented assault on our democracy, on our legislative branch of government, on the rule of law, and on the very notion of how you determine elections are valid, which is the certification process that every single state engaged in."

"So, I think it's an important thing historically," she argues. "It's important for our Constitution. It's important for the people, regardless of the outcome."

Finally, we get to our latest Green News Report, with some troubling news across the planet, but also some fun, funny and even encouraging news to end a somewhat disturbing and chilling day in D.C....

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Guest: Attorney Ernest A. Canning on the critical H.R.1, 'For the People Act'; Also: GOP Rep. dies with COVID; Another GOP Senator to retire; GA SoS opens probe of Trump's attempted election theft...
By Brad Friedman on 2/8/2021 6:40pm PT  

Among the many stories on today's busy BradCast: How Lou Dobbs' once formidable Election Integrity reporting at CNN turned into his own demise 15 years later at Fox "News"; Donald Trump's second Impeachment Trial begins this week with his attorneys making legally and Constitutionally indefensible claims; And Democrats offer a massive, much-needed measure to shore up our faltering system of democracy --- but it needs an important fix. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

First up...following Smartmatic's $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit [PDF] filed against Fox "News" and three of its anchors --- Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro --- last Thursday, the rightwing propaganda network suddenly and unceremoniously cancelled Dobbs' show the very next day.

Ironically, when Dobbs' was at CNN more than a decade ago, his show was largely the only mainstream broadcast media outlet to offer real, investigative coverage of serious concerns about computerized voting and tabulation systems, and the private corporations who had taken over so much of our public elections. His show delved into legit concerns about Smartmatic's relationship to Venezuela, among other things, resulting in a Treasury Dept. investigation at the time. It ultimately helped lead to the sale of a company named Sequoia, which Smartmatic once owned.

Some of the material his CNN show intelligently covered in the mid-aughts informed some of my own exclusive investigative reporting at The BRAD BLOG from 2008 to 2010 detailing, among other things, Dominion Voting Systems purchase of Sequoia some years later. That deep-dive reporting from 2010, ten years on, was subsequently re-imagined and bastardized by Team Trump to become the basis for their irresponsible, inaccurate and evidence-free claims regarding Dominion and Smartmatic and Venezuela (and the late Hugo Chavez) having stolen the election from Trump. In turn, those false claims have now resulted in Dobbs' own demise at Fox, even though he's the one guy at the Republican misinformation outlet who should have known better. Perhaps he did, but as a dyed-in-the-wool Trump sycophant, he didn't care. We cover the irony (and stupidity).

Speaking of stupidity, Donald Trump's Impeachment Trial defense attorneys filed their final pre-trial brief [PDF] on Monday, falsely claiming, once again, that the Trial itself is in violation of the Constitution (which it isn't, even according to well known conservative Republican Constitutional law experts) and that the former President was merely exercising his First Amendment free speech when instructing his MAGA Mob supporters to "fight like hell" the day they took him up on it and attacked the U.S. Capitol, resulting in five deaths. We discuss how the Trump argument fails in advance of his second Impeachment Trial beginning on Tuesday, and the Democratic House Managers response [PDF] to it.

In not-unrelated news, Reuters is reporting that the Georgia Secretary of State's office has opened an official investigation into Trump's attempts to steal the election in the Peach State.

Then, in the wake of Trump's failed attempt to steal the Presidential election with unfounded claims of mass voter fraud, Republicans in state legislatures across the country are attempting to institute hundreds of new restrictions on voters and voting. But Democrats at the federal level have an antidote to that predictable new wave of attempted suppression by GOPers.

We're joined today by BRAD BLOG legal analyst, attorney ERNEST A. CANNING to discuss his recent, deep-dive analysis of the Democrats' H.R.1. bill, known as the "For the People Act". The massive, 800-page bill, provides a lot of long-overdue reforms for voting and fair elections; ending dominance of big money and dark money in politics; and re-enforcing disclosure and ethics reform for members of Congress. On the voting front, it improves access to the voting booth by creating automatic voter registration across the country; restores voting rights for former felons; expands early voting; simplifies voting by mail; restores the Voting Rights Act gutted by the US Supreme Court in 2013; blocks mass voter roll purges like those seen in recent years in Ohio, Georgia and elsewhere; bars partisan gerrymandering by instituting independent Redistricting Commissions to draw Congressional District maps, instead of the partisan gerrymandered State Legislatures who currently draw them; and includes a call to enfranchise some 700,000 currently unrepresented residents who live in our nation's Capitol by making Washington D.C. the 51st state.

The critical measure also mandates --- sort of --- something that we have called for for a very long time: The option for all voters to vote on verifiable hand-marked paper ballots. Unfortunately, as Canning explains, this one point where the current text of the bill fails. While it mandates that voters must have the option to vote on a hand-marked paper ballot, it does not require that option be made available to voters at the polling place! That means that Election Officials can easily follow the letter of the bill's mandate by saying: "Sure! We offer the option for voters to use a hand-marked paper ballot, instead of 100% unverifiable touchscreens. Voters who wish to do that can simply vote by mail if that's what they prefer!"

That is decidedly not good enough, as we discuss, leaving a gaping loophole to help assure we have unverifiable elections in this country for decades. But is it that a serious enough flaw for Election Integrity advocates to oppose the entire measure, in lieu of amended language to that portion of the bill? And, either way, is it even possible for a bill like this to ever be adopted in a 50/50 U.S. Senate without ending the anti-democratic legislative filibuster once and for all?

Finally, on a sad note, another Republican Congressman, Ron Wright of Texas, has died "from health complications following his COVID-19 diagnosis two weeks ago. The passing of the second-term Congressman follows the death of Rep.-elect Luke Letlow of Louisiana, who died from COVID just days before the start of the new Congress. And another long-time Republican member of the U.S. Senate, 86-year old Richard Shelby of Alabama, has announced his intention to retire when his term ends in 2022. He is the fourth incumbent Republican in the upper chamber to bow out rather than run for re-election in the next mid-terms...

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Guest host Nicole Sandler with author Craig Unger, the latest news, and stories from the Capitol Insurrection...
By Nicole Sandler on 2/5/2021 5:15pm PT  

It's a busy BradCast, today! I'm NICOLE SANDLER, guest hosting for Brad and Desi, with a full plate today.

Because this was such a busy news cycle, we begin with the news about the vote that ousted freshman Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (Q-GA) from the two committees Kevin McCarthy put her on. While that was happening in the House, the Senate began a "vote-a-rama" that went on all night. It finally ended at 5:35am, with VP Kamala Harris in her role as Senate President casting the tie-breaking vote to pass a shell of a bill that will eventually contain the $1.9 trillion COVID relief legislation that will require only 50 (+1) votes to pass using the process known as reconciliation.

Because there was so much news breaking on Thursday, something that should have gotten a lot of attention was overlooked by the media. Following the vote in the House to rid the committee of Marjorie Taylor Greene, there was a "special order" hour on the House floor, organized by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Many of us watched her compelling and frightening account of her experience during the Capitol insurrection on January 6, streamed on Instagram Live. It kept me awake most of the night Monday night, as I couldn't shake the feeling of terror she conveyed over the course of the 90-minute live stream. I'm guessing the response she received was overwhelming, as she put together this "special order" event on the House floor to allow other members to tell their stories of what happened to them that awful day. In the second segment of today's show, I share some of those stories, each of which should be included in next week's Impeachment Trial.

Our guest today is author and investigative journalist CRAIG UNGER, whose new book American Kompromat: How the KGB Cultivated Donald Trump, and Related Tales of Sex, Greed, Power, and Treachery who tells us that Trump was absolutely a Russian asset, cultivated decades ago. Fascinating...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 2/4/2021 10:58am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Democrats take control of US Senate, pledge to act on climate; Automakers drop bid to block California's vehicle emissions standards; Oceans rising faster than scientists' most pessimistic forecasts; Coal will be gone from US electric grid by 2033, says new report; PLUS: COVID lockdowns temporarily cleared the air, but also increased global warming... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Biden’s EPA Nominee Vows ‘Urgency’ On Climate Change; Biden team in talks with utilities, car companies about emissions; Exxon, BP announce billions in losses for 2020; U.S. Cities Are Vastly Undercounting Emissions; Trump’s Last Minute Flubs Gift Biden Time to Rewrite Regulations; Biden Admin To Restart Permitting For Major Offshore Wind Project; California Leads U.S. Sprint Towards Electric Vehicles; K-Pop For The Planet: Fans Of S Korean Stars Take Up Climate Activism ... PLUS: Back of the Line: Chicago's COVID-19 vaccine plan put polluted communities last... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guest: NatSec expert Elizabeth Goitein of Brennan Center; Also: U.S. economy twice as good under Dem Presidents than Repubs for the past 90 years; MyPillow guy may not be sleeping well these days...
By Brad Friedman on 2/3/2021 7:06pm PT  

Now that Trump is safely out of office, as my guest on today's BradCast argues, Congress needs to "get back in the game" to reform the National Emergencies Act now, so it cannot be so easily abused by yet another President. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But, first up today, we pick up on a study we cited on yesterday's show finding that, in 16 developed countries examined over the past 50 years --- from the U.S. to Australia --- tax cuts have had no effect whatsoever on either jobs or Gross Domestic Product. The only thing they have done, however, is make the rich richer and increase economic inequality in countries that institute them.

In that vein, a new piece from the New York Times David Leonhardt reports on economic data finding that the U.S. economy has done better by every measure --- from jobs to GDP to incomes and even stock prices --- under Democratic Presidents than Republicans for the past 90 years. Going all the way back to FDR, the economy has grown at an average annual rate of 4.6 percent under Democrats and just 2.4 percent under Republicans. That means, as Leonhardt notes, that "The average income of Americans would be more than double its current level if the economy had somehow grown at the Democratic rate for all of the past nine decades." But why is that? We discuss. (HINT: It has to do with Dems heeding economic and historic lessons, such as using government resources to invest in flagging economies during recessions, versus the GOP's only apparent economic strategy for both good times and bad --- tax cuts!)

But, with Joe Biden now safely in office and Democrats finally in control of both Houses of Congress, things are, surprisingly enough, working out very well for a change...for now...after just two weeks. Years of Post Traumatic Democrat Syndrome, however, has left us waiting for that to change for the worse at any moment. Nonetheless, before that happens, what other lessons can be learned from the previous, disastrous Administration?

We're joined today by ELIZABETH GOITEIN, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at NYU's Brennan Center for Justice. Back in 2018, with a report at the Brennan Center and a disturbing landmark article for The Atlantic on "The Alarming Scope of the President's Emergency Powers", Goitein scared the hell out of a lot of us, when she warned of the dangers of the National Emergencies Act and the extraordinary powers it affords to the White House. The Act --- ironically enough, enacted by Congress, in theory, to rein in Presidential emergency powers --- "unlocks powers contained in more than 100 different provisions of law," as she recently discusses again at Politico.  However, "Since the law’s enactment in 1976, presidents have declared 69 national emergencies; 39 remain in effect today," she explains.

One of those "emergencies," a phony one, was Trump's declaration at the border with Mexico, used to steal money appropriated to the U.S. Military in order to build his wall, after Congress expressly voted against it. Another one might have been a national emergency declaration that we now know --- thanks to some stunning reporting by Axios yesterday --- that Team Trump loons Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Flynn were encouraging him to declare during an absolutely bonkers (and frightening!) White House meeting in December. They were hoping he'd invoke the act in order to impound Dominion Voting Systems machines and somehow use them to steal the election from Biden.

Goitein argues that after the last four years offered a very clear demonstration of how Presidents can abuse these emergencies powers, now is the time to reform the "under a president who seems more inclined to rescind bogus emergency declarations than issue them." On today's show, she explains how that can responsibly be done by Congress.

"I think there is an understanding that this administration is our chance --- and it's a chance that we must seize - to shore up the guardrails on our democracy. Emergency Powers has been part of that conversation, and I hope and trust that it will continue to be," she tells me. "Many of those laws absolutely need to be revisited and reformed to be made more narrow. There's absolutely no reason why, in a national emergency, the President should be able to take over radio stations. And the fact that by merely declaring a threat of war, the President could potentially even take over the Internet in this country is horrifying."

At the same time, however, new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is now calling on President Biden to invoke an emergency declaration to take action on our worsening climate crisis, which, as Schumer argues, would allow him to do "many, many things under the emergency powers of the President...that he could do without legislation," in order to get around Republican denialism and intransigence in Congress. Is that a good idea? Is it justifiable? Is it even possible under the National Emergencies Act, reformed or otherwise? Goitein recently responded to some of those questions at WaPo. We discuss them with her today, along with her revelations about some of her worst fears that Trump might have carried out under the existing powers.

Finally, it seems that the loony wingnut MyPillow CEO, Mike Lindell, is having trouble selling both pillows right now and his evidence-free claims that Dominion voting machines were used to steal the election from Trump. We share an hilarious clip of Lindell trying --- and failing miserably --- to make his case, even on the far-right NewsmaxTV, after the voting machine company has issued very serious legal warnings to both Newsmax and Lindell that they intend to sue for defamation if they continue to libel the company. After $1.3 billion lawsuits filed against both Powell [PDF] and Giuliani [PDF], Newsmax appears to be taking that threat very seriously. Lindell? Not so much!...

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Also: Dem House Managers, Trump lawyers submit pre-Impeachment Trial briefs; AOC shares harrowing personal story from January 6th attack...
By Brad Friedman on 2/2/2021 7:31pm PT  
NOW CELEBRATING THE BRAD BLOG'S 17th ANNIVERSARY!
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So far, so good. Neither Joe Biden nor Chuck Schumer nor Nancy Pelosi seem to be falling for the GOP's "conservative" budget concerns, newly rediscovered by the Party now that there's a Dem in the White House.  Also on today's BradCast, the stage gets set for next week's historic second Impeachment Trial of disgraced former President Donald Trump. [Audio link to full show follows summary below.]

A study last December from economists at the London School of Economics and King's College London looked at 18 developed countries over a 50 year period from 1965 to 2015 to find out if tax cuts actually "trickle down" to improve economic outcomes. You'll be "shocked" to hear the results. Tax cuts in the nations examined (including the U.S.), do not improve either GDP or unemployment rates.  They do, however, help the wealthy to become wealthier --- by a lot --- while increasing economic inequality.

That report may have come in useful as President Biden was considering a proposal from 10 Republican Senators at the White House on Monday night to slash his proposed $1.9 trillion COVID relief and stimulus bill down to about $600 billion, or one-third of what Biden and the Dems are proposing. The GOP proposal leaves out a lot of much-needed funding from Biden's proposal for no apparent reason, other than Republicans are pretending to be concerned about spending and deficits again --- a concern they decidedly did not remember to have when they gave away much more with their $2.3 trillion tax cuts mostly to the rich during Donald Trump's Administration.

The good news today is that the White House is moving ahead with their planned $1.9 trillion proposal, and both  Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have queued up the measure to be quickly adopted under Budget Reconciliation procedures which require only a simple majority vote in the Senate. No need to overcome a filibuster with 60 votes.  Now we just have to see if conservative Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia decides to play along. He certainly should, given that his state's own Republican Governor is calling on Biden to "go big" in his COVID relief package.

With things moving encouragingly forward, at least for the moment, with the new President and Dem control of both houses of Congress, we turn back to the disastrous previous President, who helped get us into all of these messes.

To help set the stage, we share an extended excerpt from an hour-long live Instagram video by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) on Monday night. She detailed for the first time, her harrowing experience on January 6th, describing how she was forced to hide in the dark behind the bathroom door in her personal office at the Capitol, as the murderous and attempted insurrection by Trump's MAGA Mob was underway. As she makes clear, she had very good reason to fear for her life and is still reeling from the trauma of that day.

Trump's second Impeachment Trial, for "Incitement of Insurrection" at the U.S. Capitol that day, is set to begin next week in the Senate. Both the Democratic House Impeachment Managers and Trump's brand new attorneys (all five of his previous ones left him over the weekend) submitted their pre-trial filings on Tuesday. The 80-page Dem memorandum [PDF] lays out the House's case against Trump, alleging he falsely worked his supporters into an outrage over many months --- even before Election Day, as early as last summer --- with baseless claims of a stolen election. He then "aimed them like a loaded cannon down Pennsylvania Avenue" toward the Capitol on January 6th with instructions to "fight like hell" as a Joint Session of Congress was underway to affirm the 2020 Presidential election results. They offer a graphic, detailed, painstakingly-documented argument for Trump's conviction and a thorough response to the false GOP claim that it is somehow unconstitutional to hold an Impeachment Trial after the impeached officer in question has left office.

"If the Senate does not try President Trump (and convict him) it risks declaring to all future Presidents that there will be no consequences, no accountability, indeed no Congressional response at all if they violate their Oath to ‘preserve, protect and defend the Constitution’ in their final weeks," the House Managers write. "There is no ‘January Exception’ to impeachment or any other provision of the Constitution," they explain, "A president must answer comprehensively for his conduct in office from his first day in office through his last."

For his part, Trump's 14-page response [PDF] is brief and unsurprisingly limp. He cites First Amendment Free Speech rights to support his evidence-free claims that the election was stolen from him and repeatedly claims --- over and over --- that the Senate trial is unconstitutional, since he is no longer in office. There is one point, regarding his personal (if evidence-free) belief that the election was stolen, that should be worth noting when it comes to the difficulty of public oversight and the availability of evidence regarding U.S. election results. Not that he bothered to actually try to get at most of what is available. Beyond that, however, its clear he is hoping that his fellow Republicans in the Senate remain captured, in his thrall and afraid of the wrath of his brain-poisoned supporters.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with GM's landmark announcement that they intend to end production of internal combustion engine vehicles; as global temperatures are now at the highest since the dawn of human civilization; as Biden releases billions of dollars in disaster relief to Puerto Rico that Trump had held back for years; and as a federal court rolls back one of Trump's final rollbacks to Obama's environmental protections...

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