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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, October 17, 2021
Sunday 'Democracy's Boundaries' Toons
PDiddie draws a few lines in his latest collection of the week's best toons...
Why Dems Should Now Gerrymander 'Blue' States (and Why They Shouldn't): 'BradCast' 10/15/21
Guest: FairVote's Dave Daley; Also: Freedom to Vote in the Senate; GOP physics in VA...
Why the Last Remaining 2020 Election Contest in GA Should Not Have Been Dismissed: 'BradCast' 10/14/21
Also: Why Bannon's in big trouble (probably); And why Trump may not be running in 2024...
'Green News Report' 10/14/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Supply chain disruptions spike global energy prices; Russia says they didn't do it!; CA bans gas-powered leaf blowers; PLUS: Biden Administration goes big on offshore wind...
Previous GNRs: 10/12/21 - 10/7/21 - Archives...
'Red' State Profs Fight for Masking at Universities: 'BradCast' 10/13/21
Guest: Dr. Matthew Boedy of UNG; Also: Shatner in space; Workers have had enough; Biden's big new off-shore wind plan...
'Green News Report' 10/12/21
'No climate, no deal!' on Build Back Better; Critical infrastructure facing flood, failure; 2021 extreme weather costs; PLUS: Biden restores national monuments...
'Change the Whole Process': CA Rep on Ending Big Oil After State's Latest Offshore Spill: 'BradCast' 10/11/21
Guest: Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA); Also: Trump's plan to steal 2024; Callers...
Sunday 'Privilege' Toons
You know you deserve PDiddie's collection of this week's best political toons...
Media Downplaying Trump, GOP's Threat to U.S. Democracy: 'BradCast' 10/8/21
Guest: Eric Boehlert; Also: Biden restores nat'l monuments; Trump hid losses at D.C. hotel...
Trump Didn't Try to 'Subvert Results', He Tried to Steal 2020!: 'BradCast' 10/7/21
Also: Pipeline co.'s leak tech failed in SoCal spill; Freedom of choice restored to TX women (for now); Media misreport GOP debt threat...
'Green News Report' 10/7/21
Ship anchor may be cause of SoCal oil spill; Fossil fuel industry subsized $11 million every minute; PLUS: PA A.G. criminally charges notorious pipeline developer...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: Author, gerrymandering expert David Daley of Fair Vote; Also: Hope springs eternal for Freedom to Vote in the U.S. Senate; And GOP bathtub climate change physics in Virginia...
By Brad Friedman on 10/15/2021 6:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast, I share an idea that I've thought long and hard about, struggled with and, frankly, never thought I'd have, much less recommend, as this idea is essentially counter to everything I have long fought for as a democracy advocate. But, as they say, desperate times...and all that. [Audio link to full show follows this summary below. ]

Next Wednesday, Senate Majority Chuck Schumer has told Democrats, he plans to bring up the Freedom to Vote Act for a cloture vote, which --- if successful --- would then allow the Senate to proceed to debate on the bill that is critical right now for the survival of American democracy itself. Even if passed, Freedom to Vote won't save everything, of course, but it will help. Big time. The Joe Manchin-approved "compromise" version of the For the People Act (which has already been passed by the House) would, among a boatload of other long-overdue things, institute automatic voter registration and minimum requirements for Absentee and Early Voting in all 50 states; adopt rules that would limit the most disenfranchising Photo ID restriction laws; require hand-marked paper ballots for all voters(!); and prevent extreme partisan gerrymandering among other much needed stuff that would benefit all voters and democracy itself --- if not necessarily the Republican Party, as they see it, while they continue to lie about the bill in order to place party above both country and democracy.

Next week's cloture vote on the measure is likely to be supported by all 50 members of the Democratic caucus in the Senate. But it is unlikely to be allowed up for debate in the minoritarian Senate because, unless Manchin and any other Democratic obstructionists agree to reform the filibuster to allow democracy saving legislation to pass with a simple majority, it won't receive the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican obstructionist filibuster. That, as GOP-controlled states across the country continue to adopt measures making it harder for (certain) voters to vote and easier for Republicans to cheat by overturning election results they don't like by partisan fiat.

In 2010, the GOP's so-called "REDMAP" program succeeded with Republicans taking over state legislatures in order to draw extreme partisan gerrymanders following that year's decennial census to assure themselves majorities in both statehouses and Congressional delegations for the ensuing decade, even when receiving a minority of the vote. Now that the 2020 census has been completed --- and the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court has determined that federal courts may not intercede to block partisan gerrymanders in any way --- those same Republican state legislatures are in the process of drawing even more extreme gerrymanders for partisan advantage over the next decade. Experts say that "red" states are now in the process of redistricting in such a way that even if the nation voted exactly as it did in 2020, Republicans would end up taking control of the U.S. House --- even with millions of fewer votes than Democrats receive for their elected members of Congress.

That is just part of the near future that all Americans can look forward to if the Republicans and Democrats like Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema in the Senate prevent passage of the Freedom to Vote Act along with its federal restrictions on extreme partisan gerrymanders.

While I hate the idea, all one has to do is take a look at what the Texas legislature (and others like it) are currently up to and planning this year to realize that it's time --- at least if Freedom to Vote is not adopted --- for Democratically-controlled states to answer the GOP assault on democracy by instituting their own extreme partisan gerrymanders in response.

As noted, I hate that idea. It is, at least on the surface, counter to the small "d" democratic ideals that I have always fought for. But, at this point, with the American democratic experiment now teetering toward unstoppable authoritarianism, unilateral disarmament by Democrats seems more like a suicide pact. Yes, for Democrats, but, much more importantly, for democracy itself.

I suspect not everyone will agree with me here, including my guest today. I'm joined by the man who actually wrote the book on partisan gerrymanders, DAVID DALEY of FairVote.org. His book on the GOP's REDMAP assault on democracy is called Ratfucked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy. His more recent follow-up, out this year, is Unrigged: How Americans Are Battle Back to Save Democracy.

Daley details the horrors to come from the GOP's extreme gerrymandering plans that we will see in the next few weeks and months, describing them as "really bleak for the Democrats on the redistricting front". For example, he explains, "if you look at the 2020 election, Democratic candidates for the U.S. House won 4.7 million more votes than Republican candidates, but that only turned into a 5 seat majority. Republicans, simply by redistricting in Texas, Georgia, North Carolina and Florida alone --- before you even get to the handful of other states where they can pick up individual seats --- could probably get at least twice the number that they need to flip the House simply by gerrymandering those states."

But, even as he argues in favor of "Constitutional hardball" from Democrats, he does not agree with me that Dems should participate in the same sort of behavior in response when it comes to redistricting this year, describing it as "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic." He explains why, and we debate the issue on today's program.

I welcome your thoughts on this matter via email or in comments below, as I hope to discuss this more on the show in the days ahead.

Finally today, as if anyone needed more evidence of the dangers that await a fully Trumpified GOP takeover of democracy (even more than has already occurred), at least one Republican candidate running for the House of Delegates in Virginia next month should scare the hell out of you..and, for reasons that Desi Doyen explains, especially Virginians...

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Guest: Dr. Matthew Boedy of the Univ. of North Georgia; Also: Shatner in space; Workers have had enough; Biden's big new off-shore wind plan...
By Brad Friedman on 10/13/2021 6:56pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We're nearly two years into this seemingly endless pandemic. If you happen to teach at a college or university in a "blue" state and have been vaccinated, you can probably go to work each day feeling relatively safe. If you work at a "red" state university, however, the story is very different. That, of course, is thanks to the twisted politics of our former President and those who either fear his wrath or have been brain-poisoned enough to put their own families and communities at risk because of it. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, first up --- mostly for Desi and other Trekkers like her --- we spend a few minutes on William "Captain Kirk" Shatner after he oldly went were a few have gone before. But while Shatner got a free ride to the edge of space for three minutes on Wednesday, courtesy of Jeff Bezos, it only serves as a reminder of the many essential, working class grunts who actually paid for his trip. On the other hand, some of Shatner's remarks upon return to Earth also remind us of our fragile climate and thin blue atmosphere that keeps us alive, even as we treat it like a garbage dump.

Speaking of essential workers, new data from the Labor Department this week reveals many are quitting their jobs in droves, particularly those forced to come face-to-face with an angry, frequently privileged, sometimes violent, often mask-free public right now in low-wage service jobs at bars, restaurants, hotels and retail outlets. The record number of workers quitting to look for better working conditions in August comes as businesses are struggling to find workers, with some employers --- gasp! --- forced to offer higher wages and benefits to stay in business.

But while it may be easy enough to leave one bartender job for a better one at an establishment that takes better care of its workers, it's not quite as easy for those who teach at colleges and universities. We've all seen endless videos of furious parents at local school board meetings, threatening school officials if they dare institute mask mandates to help keep teachers and children --- and their furious parents --- safe. But we've heard less about higher education faculty whose institutions, often in Republican-leaning states, find themselves at the mercy of GOP Governors mandating anti-masking rules or state-run boards (often controlled by the same rightwing politicos) who refuse to hear the pleas of college and university students and faculty alike.

Late last month, for example, more than 50 faculty members at the University of Georgia, many with expertise in the study of infectious diseases, signed a faculty statement declaring: "In order to protect our students, staff and faculty colleagues, we will wear masks and will require all of our students and staff to wear masks in our classes and laboratories until local community transmission rates improve, despite the ban on mask mandates and the USG [University System of Georgia] policy to punish, and potentially fire, any faculty taking this action."

We're joined today by DR. MATTHEW BOEDY, Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Composition at the University of North Georgia in Gainesville. He also serves as the Georgia chapter President of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), where eight national chapters recently urged the federal government to step in to help keep faculty and students safe at public universities were Governors and school boards will not.

The USG is governed in the Peach State by the Board of Regents, many of whom are appointed by the sitting Republican Governor. "They generally follow the Governor's wishes in terms of policies," Boedy explains. But last year, "they pushed him aside and gave us a mask mandate when Gov. Brian Kemp said he didn't want any mask mandates." The rule was repealed in June, however, as the pandemic momentarily ebbed. "Then Delta came, and we desperately needed [another mask mandate], and they refused to have one because they weren't going to push aside the Governor a second time, especially in terms of how heated it has gotten. The Governor, of course, has banned mask mandates around the state."

As an expert in rhetoric, I asked about the irony of Republicans opposing mandates by instituting mandates against mandates. "The groups on the right and politicians on the right will use words in opposite of their intended meaning or their usual meaning to get what they want. They don't like mandates, but they'll push mandates in another way. It is truly cognitive dissonance," Boedy asserts. "And it just shows that this is not driven by science, it's not driven by common sense. It's not even driven by any type of logic that I can follow, because if you speak to these people, they just change in any direction that is against what you're saying. "

"As a rhetoric teacher," he continues, "I'm teaching a class on misinformation, and I'm doing it for this reason. It's just really difficult to get beyond the cognitive dissonance, and I'm trying to teach people not just to recognize it but to find rhetorical ways to persuade people who seem to not want to be persuaded." We wish him luck.

In the meantime, Boedy also details the actions that the AAUP has taken to try and get help for "red" state universities from government officials and the responses they've received from elected officials both at the state and federal level. He notes that in a state where "collective bargaining is barred by state law," they don't have unionized power behind them, but they had considered walkouts anyway, before deciding against it. At least for now. "We didn't want to punish our students for the deplorable actions of our university administration.  We didn't want to walk out. We didn't want to stop class. We didn't want to add to the punishment their getting with the lack of masks," he says. "What we're trying to do is keep up public pressure --- I call it a public shaming of our university leaders --- and hopefully, they respond. So far, sadly, they have not."

Boedy says, however, that they may get some help from the Biden Administration's Department of Education. In the meantime, we happened to catch him on "a dark day" for higher education in Georgia. On Wednesday, the Board of Regents made conditions arguably worse for professors in the University of Georgia System, as they voted on Wednesday to approve a new tenure policy allowing tenured professors to be fired without faculty input. "What we have now is tenure in name only," Boedy explains. "They erased the due process protections for a particular group of professors, ending tenure protections for them. So, the dominoes can certainly fall after that to the rest of us. But it is, yes, the death of tenure and due process in Georgia."

Finally, after a week or two of reporting on the recent oil spill off the coast of Southern California in Orange County on this show, some much brighter, somewhat related news. "The Biden administration announced on Wednesday a plan to develop large-scale wind farms along nearly the entire coastline of the United States, the first long-term strategy from the government to produce electricity from offshore turbines," according to the New York Times late today. We happily discuss...

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Another busy day taking on America's rising GOP Authoritarian Front...
By Brad Friedman on 10/12/2021 6:31pm PT  

Well, we've got another news-packed, rant-packed, and (hopefully) democracy-saving BradCast for you today. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Tune in for the most bang for your buck (by far), but among the stories and issues touch-stoned on today's program...

  • Democratic U.S. Senators held a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol last week to insist that critical provisions to finally take on our climate crisis may not be removed from the Dems' proposed Build Back Better Act to win the support of obstructionist Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the hop-hop caucus, spoke at the presser, and laid out the "no climate, no deal" existential stakes. We share his important remarks.
  • Speaking of the Dems' proposed, expansive, ten-year, $3.5 trillion bill, never mind the price tag. Unlike the accompanying smaller bipartisan infrastructure bill championed by Manchin and Sinema with Republicans, which is not fully paid for, the Build Back Better bill is, via small tax increases for wealthy people and corporations. But, lost in Manchin and Sinema's silly quibbles over the price tag for Build Back Better is the extraordinary number of wildly popular provisions in it, on everything from the expansion of Medicare to include hearing, vision and dental coverage for seniors, to free pre-K and community college, to 12 weeks of paid family leave, and, of course, the critical climate measures to move the nation's utility companies from dirty fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy. But that's a tiny sampling of what's in this long-overdue bill. MSNBC's Mehdi Hasan offers much more on what's actually in the most transformative piece of legislation since the LBJ- and FDR-eras --- and he does so in less than 60 seconds!
  • Both the larger bill and the smaller bill compromising Biden's agenda must be passed (and soon!) if Democrats are to have any chance at holding off the Authoritarian Front (otherwise known as the Republican Party) in 2022. To that end, we've been discussing of late how the media (including us!) do not seem to be sounding the alarm bells as loudly as warranted, given the Trump/GOP assault on democracy itself in advance of next year's mid-terms and the 2024 Presidential race. A recent conversation on that point with media critic Eric Boehlert last Friday on this show, included a "major error", brought to our attention via email by a listener. After sharing the error with Boehlert, he issued a correction. Tune in for all the details today, but we are grateful to listener Linda C. for checking the facts and holding our feet to the same fire as we hold to everyone else's!
  • In more American-democracy-on-the-brink news, top Republicans are still, shamefully, unwilling to say out loud that Joe Biden won the 2020 election fair and square, that it was not stolen from Donald Trump, and that there is absolutely zero credible evidence suggesting otherwise, nearly a full year since the election. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), the second-highest ranking Republican in the House after minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), is the latest to prove his cowardice and refusal to say as much during a weekend interview on Fox "News".
  • Speaking about his new book, Midnight in Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could, detailing Trump's two impeachments and the disgraced former President's attempt to steal the 2020 election by sending his supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) discussed what happened that day on CNN this morning. Of note, as we share, he discusses the abject fear among GOP leadership to cross Donald Trump in any way, and the threat that poses to democracy itself. Schiff describes "the insurrectionists in suits and tie", like Scalise and McCarthy, who, "unlike those people climbing outside the building" on January 6th, "they knew it was a lie". But, in their "relentless attack on the truth," he explains, they are now willing to pretend that they don't know that Trump tried to steal the 2020 election.
  • Longtime Republican columnist Max Boot, however, does know that the Big Lie was, in fact, a lie. He also seems to appreciate the threat it now poses to democracy itself. In his Washington Post column this week, he explains why, despite formerly being a lifelong Republican, he is now "a single-issue voter. My issue is the fate of democracy in the United States. Simply put, I have no faith that we will remain a democracy if Republicans win power. Thus, although I’m not a Democrat, I will continue to vote exclusively for Democrats ... until the GOP ceases to pose an existential threat to our freedom." Thank you, Max. I hope anyone who still supports democracy takes Boot's warning to heart because, as he notes, "What matters now is preserving our democracy."
  • And what are Republicans doing where they do hold the power to govern instead of destroy? They're destroying. In Texas yesterday, Republican Governor and cowardly tyrant Greg Abbott issued an executive order certain to results in many more dead Texans. It prohibits any entity in the state, including private business, from imposing any COVID vaccine requirements for employees or customers. Because, freedom? At the same time, the Texas Republican Party chair who thinks Abbott isn't Trumpy enough, stepped down from the Chairmanship several months ago to oppose the incredibly-Trumpy Governor in next year's primary. That former chair is former Florida Congressman and loon Allen West, who, as of this weekend, is now hospitalized with COVID. He's now posting on Facebook from his hospital bed about taking hydroxychloroquine and the horse de-worming drug Ivermectin, while proudly swearing he's more anti-vaccine than ever and simultaneously proving he knows absolutely nothing about how either health care or even "Big Pharma" works.

    (For the record, even though he's a far-right wingnut loon, we went to bat for West and his supporters in 2012 after he got screwed by a major voting system tabulation failure during his failed reelection bid against Democrat Patrick Murphy in Florida that year. Scroll down his BRAD BLOG category page for some of the highlights. Just a helpful reminder for all of the brain-poisoned dupes stopping by the blog of late to say, "Hey, Brad what happened to you?! I can't believe you'd put party over country by failing to call out all the fraud in the 2020 election!" Yes, brain-poisoning is exceedingly toxic. Try some horse de-wormer, kiddies.)

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with her usual roller-coaster mix of horrific and hopeful (but mostly horrific) environmental news...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Media analyst Eric Boehlert; Also: Biden restores sacred lands to national monuments; House reveals Trump concealed losses, foreign money, 'preferential treatment' on loans at his failing D.C. hotel...
By Brad Friedman on 10/8/2021 6:17pm PT  

After five years of underestimating Donald Trump, and nearly a full year since he tried to steal the 2020 election, you'd think the media would "get it" by now. But, according to our guest on today's BradCast, the national press is still under-appreciating and under-reporting the very real threat that Trump and his far-right radicalized Republican Party now represent to democracy itself. And maybe that's on purpose. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

But first up, some brighter news. President Biden has now reversed Trump's unprecedented (and likely unlawful) rollback of protected public lands established by his predecessors in three different national monuments. On Friday, Biden restored environmental protections for millions of acres of pristine expanses and sacred tribal lands at Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah, and the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts marine monument off the coast of New England. Deb Haaland, the nation's first native American Interior Secretary, was justifiably emotional about today's return of protection from mining, drilling and other development for millions of acres of sacred lands and architectural treasures. Biden's rollback of Trump's order, however, left in place a small parcel of acreage newly established as protected public lands by the former President at Bears Ears. So that national monument is now even larger than it was before Trump attempted to sell it off to his investors. Add it to the long list of losses for our loser former President.

And here's another. New documents released by the U.S. House Committee on Oversight on Friday reveal that Trump's company concealed losses of more than $70 million on his D.C. hotel during his four years in office, even while a major part of the business at the Trump International Hotel at the old D.C. post office building came from foreign governments, as well as lobbyists and businesses hoping to curry favor with the disgraced President.  All of that, as Trump attempted to portray the project publicly as a stunning success while the Trump Organization had to quietly pump in more than $24 million dollars to it to cover losses, and as Deutsche Bank, according to the Democratic Committee co-chairs, offered "undisclosed preferential treatment" on a $170 million loan for the project that had been personally guaranteed by Trump. The Trump Organization is now desperate to find a buy to unload the loser project, but there are reportedly few takers as the current, inflated asking price.

While the media failed to adequately sound the alarm about a Trump property just blocks from the White House used as a deposit box for unconstitutional payments to the President from foreign governments, businesses, lobbyists and party faithful during his tenure in the White House, are they doing any better in raising what should be an even louder alarm following the past year of Trump attempting to steal a second term while directing supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol itself to block the Constitutional transfer of power on January 6th?

Our guest today, longtime media analyst ERIC BOEHLERT argues the mainstream corporate media appear to have learned next to nothing. More insidiously, he suggests, they are even "purposely" ignoring what he describes in a PressRun newsletter this week as "the clarion calls of democratic doom." That, despite alarm bells and clear signs that American democracy is facing an unprecedented internal threat from the rise of rightwing authoritarianism. "America isn’t guaranteed a happy ending," he writes, "although most of us grew up with the shared assumption that it was."

"There's a failure of imagination, but I feel like it's a purposeful failure of imagination," among the press, he tells us today, citing what he sees as the media's vested interest in the return of Trump as a candidate and even as President in a second term.  "After the election, long before the insurrection, Trump was doing everything in his power, as we now know more and more" to try and overturn --- yes, to steal --- Joe Biden's election victory. "But in November and December of 2020, Politico called it 'bad sportsmanship.'  There was lots of media coverage on he was 'sulking' in the White House. Basically the media's narrative was 'Just give him some time. He's mad. He's upset he lost. No big deal. He's not going to try to steal the election. The Republican Party would never do that,' etc. And we know how that unfolded."

But, nearly one year and an attempted U.S. Capitol insurrection later, the "purposeful failure of imagination" by the press still persists, he charges. Given all of the many signs of increasing political violence and radicalism from the Right and the Republican Party itself, how should the press be appropriately covering and warning about what appears to be going on in and our nation? How could they --- and we --- be doing a better job of adequately sounding the "fire alarm"?

Boehlert explains, and cites by way of one critical example, the media's fear of "taking sides", even when the two sides are no longer Democratic v. Republican parties, but democracy v. authoritarianism.  "'We can't take sides! If the Republican Party is anti-democracy, we can't be PRO-democracy, because that looks like we're opposing them! So we're just going to recede into the sidelines, and we'll give you updates every time they try to demolish our democracy.'"

"It's just this passive frog in the boiling water, the lack of clarity about authoritarianism in this country. This idea that it can't happen here, we are immune to this, we are immune to fascism, we are immune to authoritarianism. Oh sure, in the last ten years, it's happened in Hungary, it's happened in Poland, it's happened in Turkey. Those aren't us," he snarks. "We've been doing this for 270 years. No matter what Trump and the Republican Party hatch, this country is indestructible, this democracy is indestructible --- which is a complete fantasy."

Tune in for much more.

Finally, after starting off today with some good news for native Americans, we end with a bit more, as the Biden White House becomes the first to officially commemorate Indigenous Peoples' Day this coming Monday, on what is still officially known, barring an act of Congress, as Columbus Day...

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Also: Pipeline co.'s leak tech failed in SoCal spill; Judge restores freedom of choice to TX women (for now); Media misreport GOP debt threat...
By Brad Friedman on 10/7/2021 6:42pm PT  

Way back in January, we reported on "How Trump Attempted to Use DoJ to Steal the Election". Why do our nation's corporate media outlets, all these months later, still have so much difficulty reporting it as such, despite the growing mountain of evidence on the unprecedented attempted theft of a Presidential election by a sitting U.S. President? That's just one of a number of stories and questions asked on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among those many stories...

  • What took the Coast Guard and Amplify Energy Corp --- owner of the pipeline that spewed more than 3,000 barrels of crude oil into the waters and protected wetlands nearly Huntington Beach in Southern California last week --- so long to respond to the spill? Residents smelled it, witnesses saw oil on the water and on boats, and even the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) called in their report to the Coast Guard of a possible spill spotted from a satellite. Still, it was almost 10 hours before the Coast Guard investigated, and almost 12 hours before Amplify shut it down. That, despite technology pipeline companies always (falsely) claim will immediately detect spills and shut down the system as soon as they occur. Someone needs to face criminal charges, and this nation needs to get off oil, ASAP.
  • Some brighter news out of Texas, where a federal judge has temporarily enjoined the state's S.B. 8 statute that deprives women of their Constitutionally-protected right to an abortion. The new GOP law in the Lone Star State inserts Big Government between a woman and her doctor to mandate that the medical procedure may not be carried out after 6 weeks of pregnancy, before most women know they're pregnant. Even in the case of rape or incest, Texas Republicans are demanding that women carry their rapists babies to term under the new law. On Wednesday, a U.S. District Court judge shut that whole thing down. For now. He also refused to put his stay on hold pending the state's appeal, because, as he wrote in his 113-page decision [PDF]: "The State has forfeited the right to any such accommodation by pursuing an unprecedented and aggressive scheme to deprive its citizens of a significant and well established constitutional right."
  • Yesterday, we reported that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and fellow Republicans blinked in their ongoing effort to block Democrats from lifting the nation's borrowing limit to avoid the economic calamity that would ensue when the U.S. defaults on its debts, for the first time in history, on October 18th. Today, after McConnell blinked, he and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer agreed on terms for the legislative process that Republicans will allow to let Democrats avoid disaster, at least until early December, when the GOP threatens the same economic terrorism all over again. AP (and other national outlets) continued to mislead the public by reporting: "the Republican and Democratic leaders edged back from a perilous standoff." But that's not what happened at all. The "leaders" (plural) did not "edge back", and it was not a "standoff". As  longtime journalist, author and media critic James Fallows has been expertly reporting for some time now, this was nothing more than a nihilistic Republican threat to tank the nation's, and the world's, economy. "To call it an 'impasse' or 'standoff' is misleading," writes Fallows this week. "This is the same kind of 'impasse' as one between a kidnapper demanding ransom for a captured executive, and a company that believes it should not pay. It is not a level-playing-field difference of view."
  • The debt ceiling is hardly the only area where mainstream corporate media have been failing by ill-serving the public and our democracy. Today, they were joined in that disservice by the Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats, who released an otherwise very important report on how Donald Trump attempted to use the U.S. Dept. of Justice to STEAL the 2020 Presidential election. The 394-page report [PDF] was eight months in the making and is titled: "Subverting Justice: How the Former President and his Allies Pressured DOJ to Overturn the 2020 Election." Media reporting on the new report has taken to echoing that language (as they have since last November) in explaining how Trump tried to "subvert" the election, or "question" its results, or tried to "undermine" its legitimacy.  He used a "big lie" to try and pull off a "self coup". Of course, Trump did all of those things, but it was all in service to one single criminal objective: An attempt to STEAL the election!  Why do corporate media --- and Democrats, for that matter --- have such a difficult time calling it out as such? There is a mountain of hard, independently verifiable evidence to support that admittedly very serious charge, that I would never issue lightly. Today, Senate Democrats just added 394 more pages of said evidence to that mountain. Media need to start accurately calling out what happened here. A then sitting President of the United States abused the levers of his power to try and STEAL a Presidential election from the American people. It's as simple as that. Media should begin reporting it as such.
  • Trump's attempted theft of the 2020 election continues, at least in hopes of stealing the next one. Despite the abject failure of the Cyber Ninjas in Maricopa County, Arizona (Sen. Dick Durbin called them "Ninja Turtles" today) to find any legitimate evidence of election fraud (or to even hand-count the results of the election accurately), the MAGA Mob is still continuing to waste tax payer dollars with phony "audits" and "investigations" of last year's election in other states. In Wisconsin, as in Arizona, Republican legislators have hired someone completely inexperienced in elections to investigate their loss in last year's election. In this case, the man placed in charge of the review is a former state Supreme Court Justice named Michael Gableman. This week Gableman admitted to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he does not have "any understanding of how elections work." Great choice, Republicans!  I'm sure he'll very wisely spend the $676,000 in taxpayer money that you "conservatives" gave him. The effort may even be as successful as the Turtles'!
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more on last weekend's massive SoCal oil spill; a new study finding that, globally, the fossil fuel industry receives $11 million in government subsidies every minute (no doubt Joe Manchin will be furious about their "entitlement society"!); and another notorious pipeline company with high-tech spill prevention technology is charged with dozens of criminal counts for pipelines that leaked into Pennsylvania's drinking water...

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Guest: Philly Inquirer's Will Bunch; Also: Idaho's Lt. Guv may be insane --- or maybe just a Republican...
By Brad Friedman on 10/6/2021 5:52pm PT  

Something not terrible actually happened in D.C. today! We celebrate at the top of today's BradCast! [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Faced with the likelihood of the U.S. defaulting on its debts in a matter of days for the first time in American history (and being blamed for the economic devastation that would go with it), or otherwise facing the possibility that Democrats would be forced to reform the filibuster to allow a carve out for raising the debt ceiling, Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans blinked today. They have now agreed to call off their filibuster to allow Democrats to raise the debt ceiling by themselves, if only for about two months. That's okay. It's a clear win for the Dems, whose unwillingness to back down to the GOP's economic terrorism and weaponization of the need to borrow money to pay for stuff that Congress (including Republicans!) have already bought, has paid off. It has also revealed McConnell's bluff. Something to keep in mind the next time this comes up again in December. We explain.

It also means that Congressional Dems can now focus on passage of their Build Back Better agenda, specifically, their transformative and long-overdue expansion of healthcare, education, child care and the first real attempt to take on climate change in their proposed $3.5 trillion bill that would spend $350 billion a year over the next ten years. That's not a lot of money, in truth, for the U.S. Government. The Treasury Department may take in $300 billion in tax revenue on any given single day. Not to mention, the entire bill, as proposed, is paid for with a small tax increase on corporations and the wealthy. But that hasn't prevented Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and his sidekick Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) from pretending that the implementation of wildly popular progressive programs --- which the Democratic President actually ran and won on --- will lead to an "entitlement society".

Amid the negotiations over the final price tag of the Build Back Better Act, Manchin has been demanding "means testing guardrails" on all new family and health related programs. What does that mean, exactly? If only Americans below a certain income are allowed, for example, to enjoy the two free years of pre-K and community college included in the Democratic proposal, why not impose such conditions on the rest of our public education system? "Once we’re means-testing pre-K," The Prospect's Harold Meyerson recently observed in response to Manchin's demands, "it’s hard to see why governments at all levels don’t means-test K itself, not to mention K-12."

The Philadelphia Inquirer's longtime national columnist WILL BUNCH describes "means testing" in his newsletter this week as "two dirty words for America's middle class" and "the two most insidious and abused words in American politics." He joins us today to explain why that is and what other, alternate, betters ways their may be to meet the seemingly intractable (and dumb) demands from Manchin and Sinema that the Democrats' fully-paid-for bill be scaled back from it's current price tag.

"When means testing is applied," Bunch explains, "the reality is, what you're really doing is reducing the size of the program, so you're reducing the amount of money that needs to be raised to pay for the programs, which means you're reducing the amount that taxes would be increased on these wealthy people and on these corporations, who happen to be Joe Manchin's patrons."

"What really happens is that people who are entitled to these programs don't get the benefits because of means testing," he argues, "because it creates all kinds of bureaucratic hoops. The more you make them jump through hoops, the more you heighten the feeling of stigma that some people feel about getting government aid, they just say 'forget it' and give up. So the utilization rate of these programs --- they find that usually a quarter of the people eligible for these programs don't take advantage of them for reasons like that."

But, he says, it's also simply about money. "Let's focus on what's really going on here. They're really trying to squeeze every dollar to not go to middle class and working class families. And all those dollars that they squeeze, they go into bigger tax cuts for billionaires and corporations," who, unlike middle-class tax-payers, do not face such means testing for benefits they enjoy. "It's like reverse means-testing! The more means you have, the more we're going to bend over backwards to cut your taxes!"

We discuss all of that and more --- including the Rolling Stones concert that Bunch went to this week in Pittsburgh. Yes, I'm jealous!

Finally, as crazy and dangerous as the Republican Party has become in recent years, a number of its elected officials are apparently set on pushing the envelope to new standards of insane behavior...even if it means taking on fellow elected Republican officials, as the Lt. Governor of Idaho has done this week --- once again --- while the state's Republican Governor was out of town on state business. Yes, the madness continues on today's BradCast. We do our best to keep up with it...

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Bill to keep U.S. government open (for two more months) gets passed, but the three more difficult and critical bills remain blocked by obstructionists with economic disaster and Biden agenda hanging in the balance...
By Brad Friedman on 9/30/2021 6:46pm PT  

Hopefully today's BradCast is at least slightly less chaotic than Capitol Hill right now. We do our best to help you make sense of the Democrats' attempts to move four critical bills through to law, as they all come due at about the same time, and all must overcome obstructionists from both the Right and the Left. One bill today, has made it through. The fates of the other three --- and those of the nation, the economy, the Presidency and the Democrats --- are less than clear at this hour.

Among the stories covered, discussed, referenced and/or ranted upon on today's program...

  • We start with some listener email in response to our interview last week with NASA climate scientist Dr. Peter Kalmus, who argues that our planet's climate emergency is far worse and more immediate than many other climate scientists are willing to say. Emailer RC concurs, and explains why current plans to curb carbon emissions by both the US and EU are not nearly enough to meet the moment, and entirely unfair to the rest of the world.
  • With those thoughts underscoring much of the rest of our coverage today, we move to the ongoing mess in D.C., where Dems must pass four different pieces of critical legislation in the next few days and/or weeks for various critical reasons. One is a bill to keep the government open and operating after midnight tonight. After a Republican filibuster and a decoupling of that measure from the lifting of the debt ceiling before the government runs out of the ability to borrow money on October 18, the bill to keep the government open was passed by both chambers today (and signed by the President tonight). That Continuing Resolution will keep the government operating until December 3rd, when this ridiculousness will happen again, and Republicans are sure to create still more chaos and uncertainty...just because they can. Their filibuster of raising or suspending the debt ceiling, however, continues to march toward fiscal calamity [PDF] and deep recession as of October 18, unless they relent or Dems come up with some other idea.
  • As we went to air today, it was still unclear whether a vote would be held in the House on the bipartisan $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill, which all Democrats in both chambers agreed to couple for passage with the much larger, very popular $3.5 trillion Build Back Better social spending and climate change bill that encompasses the bulk of the Biden agenda. At least it had been coupled until a small handful of shameless corporatist Dems in the House and Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema in the Senate reneged on the original agreement. Now, they are trying to force Pelosi into calling a vote on the smaller bill, which was already passed by the Senate, and which House progressives have vowed to vote against unless the larger bill is adopted along with it. And though we hadn't seen anyone else make this point before airtime (Josh Marshall mentions it tonight), while House Repubs have been whipping against the smaller bill in the House, if they really wanted to muck things up for the Dems, they could vote in favor of the measure that many of their Republican colleagues in the Senate have already approved. That would replace the votes of the objecting progressives and remove pretty much all of the leverage they currently have to force passage of the larger reconciliation bill. So don't tell Republicans.
  • The log jam on that larger bill, of course, has been Manchin and Sinema. And while neither Democratic Senator had made their objections to the measure particularly clear --- other than they didn't want to spend that much money (even though, unlike the deficit spending of the bipartisan infrastructure bill they supported, the larger one is actually paid for with tax increases on corporations and the wealthy!) --- at least Manchin was open to negotiation. Sinema, who is a terrible person, has said she wouldn't negotiate on the larger bill at all until the smaller one was passed. That is, apparently, still her position. But as of shortly before air today, we now know a bit more about Manchin's position. That, based on a bullet-point memo [PDF] obtained by Politico, which he gave to Chuck Schumer in late July, detailing his demands. Among them, the bill can't spend more than $1.5 trillion, and the coal state Senator (whose family makes millions on fossil fuel extraction each year) really really wants to undermine the critical climate components at the heart of the Biden agenda. We discuss.
  • While Democrats are trying to move their wildly popular agenda forward, despite the obstructionism from both the Right and Left, Republicans and their media machine are busy lying to the public about the effort. We do our part to correct the record today with more information on what Democrats are actually hoping to do --- so you can help be the media and counter the rightwing lies on social media and elsewhere. (Pretty please?) Among those lies, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) offered a whopper today, describing the Biden agenda as "Marxism" on Twitter. And fake news site Newsmax is lying to their gullible viewers about the bipartisan infrastructure bill including an 8-cent per mile "driving tax". It doesn't. We try and help correct the record on both scores.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report. Today, we have yet another California utility company coughing up billions to settle with residents after their negligence led to disaster following the largest methane leak in U.S. history; New polling finds a dramatic spike in concern among a majority of Americans regarding our climate crisis; And another major automaker makes another major bet on our electric vehicle future...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 9/30/2021 11:21am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: California gas company agrees to nearly $2 billion settlement after largest methane leak in U.S. history; 23 species dropped from the U.S. endangered list because they're officially extinct; Poll shows dramatic increase in Americans' concern about climate change PLUS: Ford Motor Company makes an $11 billion bet on electric vehicles... 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): Why Some Utilities Support, and Others Are Wary of, the Federal Clean Energy Proposal; Climate change is 'a freight train' making some places too dangerous to live in; NC Civil Rights Groups Say Hog Waste 'Biogas' Harms Communities of Color; Enbridge: Line 3 Replacement Complete; Oil Will Flow Friday; USDA pledges billions for climate-smart farm projects, resilience; Report Alleges Conflicts Of Interest Among Texas Oil And Gas Regulators... PLUS: China’s Power Cuts Shut Down Factories, Fuel Climate Goal Pushback... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guest: ACLU policing expert Carl Takei; Also: Sinema tanking Dems' Build Back Better agenda; Trumpworld circulates fake AZ 'audit' report...
By Brad Friedman on 9/29/2021 6:38pm PT  

On today's BradCast: MAGA dead-enders have found a way to continuing pretending the 2020 election was stolen from them in Arizona; it's now down to pretty much one Democrat in Congress who seems willing to take down Joe Biden and the Democratic party's entire agenda; and the lazy corporate media fall for another phony narrative, fed to them by police, to explain 2020's spike in killings across the country. Just another day making sense of the absurd. It's what we do.

First up, despite last week's hilariously embarrassing news for Donald Trump that his own Republican partisans hired by the Republican state Senate in Arizona to "audit" last year's election found that, yup, Trump lost to Biden as originally certified (and by an even larger margin), the disgraced former President is still lying to his supporters, claiming the audit found that he won. It didn't. But, at the same time, his supporters --- including perhaps the top wingnut website responsible for false reports of "fraud" in the 2020 election, Jim Hoft's Gateway Pundit --- are now circulating a phony "draft" of the Cyber Ninja's audit report. The fake report is being characterized as the "real" report by Hoft and friends. One of them, Matthew DePerno, a candidate for Michigan Attorney General(!) who Trump recently endorsed, posted it to Twitter claiming it was the "real " report from the Ninjas that RINOs in the GOP state Senate tried to "censure" [sic].

The fraudulent "draft" claims that the 2020 election in AZ "should not be certified," even though it already was, ten months ago, by the state's Republican Governor. A Ninjas spokesperson denies having anything to do with it, claims the very real looking "draft report" is "absolutely false", and "that it was not written by Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan, nor was [the call for decertification] in any version that was ever sent or shown to the [state] Senate for review."

Thankfully, Hoft, often referred to as the dumbest man on the Internet, isn't buying it! He and his site are furious that the national GOP and Republicans in Arizona are hiding the truth and "are working for the other side!" He's totally right! Hopefully Republican voters won't stand for it any longer and will vote all of them out of office next year to show 'em!

Next, from RINOs in Arizona, to DINOs in Arizona. Kyrsten Sinema, according to a number of her fellow Democrats today, seems to be the one --- even more than Joe Manchin --- holding up passage, and even negotiation, on the Build Back Better Act, the wildly popular $3.5 trillion sweeping social safety net and climate change legislation which is at the heart of the Biden agenda. It's also fully paid for by a small increase on taxes on corporations and the wealthy. While we covered the four pieces of legislation at the heart of what led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to describe this week as "a time of intensity" in some detail on yesterday's BradCast, I'll refer you to that one and today's show for all of the maddening details here. Though I will note that Sinema's (and Manchin's, to a slightly lesser extent) intransigence could result in both the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill failing to pass, along with the smaller, bipartisan infrastructure bill that Sinema was key to crafting with Republican Senators. She seems far more willing to negotiate with GOPers than with Congressional Dems in her own party, or even the Democratic President of the United States.

The result of all of this could be the death of both bills and Democratic hopes for success in 2022 along with it. But, it should be noted here, that even if Pelosi allows a House vote on the smaller, bipartisan infrastructure package that Sinema really wants to see passed this week (even though, unlike the larger package, it is not "paid for" and will increase the deficit that she and Republicans who support it claim to oppose), and even if it somehow is passed in the House (despite the Progressive Caucus vowing to vote against it), as Congressional expert Norm Ornstein explained on this program last week, Pelosi doesn't have to send it to the President until the reconciliation bill is passed as well. She can hold the smaller bill as long as she likes, according to Ornstein, who told us the Speaker never has to send it to the President's desk, if she doesn't feel like it.

Next, you may have seen the widely reported new statistics released by the FBI on Monday, finding an alarming spike in killings in the U.S., mostly with guns, during 2020. You may also have noticed that many of the stories on the new data --- from Washington Post, New York Times, NPR and others --- all referenced claims from police officials and academics who support them, that the record spike should be attributed, at least in part, to new policing rules and reticence by cops to take action following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year and the many others who were caught on tape being killed by the police.

Darn those "Defund the Police" activists whose outrageous advocacy has led to an historic spike in U.S. homicides!

Of course, that all appears to be bullshit, as explained by our guest today, CARL TAKEI, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU's Trone Center for Justice and Equality, where he litigates police practices. "This is a story that we have heard before," Takei explains. "It actually goes back to 2014, when then-St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson coined the term 'Ferguson Effect'" after the police killing of Michael Brown in Missouri that year, which sparked national outrage, weeks of protests and demands for police reform. "The 'Ferguson Effect', according to its proponents, means that police choose to be less proactive because protests against police hurt their feelings. And this decrease in proactivity then leads to a rise in homicides and other violent crimes."

"The problem with this is it doesn't  make sense," says Takei. "Why would decreases in arrests of people for low-level offenses like pan-handling or passing bad checks --- using counterfeit bills, as George Floyd was accused of doing before he was murdered --- why would decreases in these kinds of arrests lead to more homicides? That's the unanswered question at the core of the 'Ferguson Effect' idea."

"Police, when it comes especially to serious violent offenses like homicide, are reactive," he argues. "They respond after the shooting has already taken place. And they don't actually have the ability to prevent gun violence. And that's why, over forty years of seeing crime go up and police budgets going up, and then crime going down but police budgets continuing to go up --- we have forty years of year-on-year increases in police budgets and we've seen that there's actually no relationship between how much we are funding the police and what is happening in terms of crime rates."

Takei tells me, "Police aren't actually able to address the root causes of crimes. Especially crimes like interpersonal violence, or crimes that come from economic distress, from mental health issues, drug dependence issues. All of that requires different tools. But we live in a country where oftentimes the first and only response to anything that's labeled as crime is 'give more money to the police.'"

So, to what does Takei attribute the largest one-year spike in murder and manslaughter since record keeping began on these statistics in the 1960s? And what should be done about it? Tune in to find out. But it is damned frustrating to see so many theoretically legitimate news outlets incuriously parroting these unsupported-at-best and arguably completely phony claims about violent crime.

Finally today, a bit of good crime-related news out of Los Angeles this week, where prosecutors have moved to expunge another nearly 60,000 marijuana-related convictions from the past three decades, some five years after California voters approved the use and sale of recreational cannabis...

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Biden and Congressional Dems face down a GOP hell-bent on chaos and a handful of 'moderate' Dems set on undermining the Build Back Better agenda; Also: Is the electric vehicle inflection point finally here?...
By Brad Friedman on 9/28/2021 6:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Over the weekend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned her caucus in a "Dear Colleague" letter that "the next few days will be a time of intensity". She wasn't kidding. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Today, we bring you up to date on the four different major pieces of legislation that Democrats must push through Congress, somehow, within the next few days. All four are incredibly important for different reasons, have slightly different deadlines, and slightly different obstacles to passage, each of those obstacles are difficult.

As of midnight Thursday (September 30), the government will shut down if a Continuing Resolution to keep it open is not passed in the Senate. That will end up costing taxpayers a lot of money and financial markets will take a hit, as we already saw today, with the Dow dropping more than 550 points and the S&P falling 2 percent. Of far greater danger to both the stability of the U.S. AND global economy, as of October 18, as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has now cautioned lawmakers, the government will run out of "extraordinary measures" to avoid defaulting on U.S. debt unless the ridiculous, statutory debt ceiling is raised or suspended by Congress. That would allow the government to continuing borrowing to pay for all the stuff that Congress has already committed to spending, such as the $8 trillion increase to the national debt that was run up with the approval of Republicans during the Trump Administration, for example. Without raising the debt limit, Yellen warned, we will face "catastrophic economic consequences".

Republicans in the Senate, however, are currently filibustering the bill that would solve both of those problems in one simple fell swoop, just because they can. They appear to want chaos, uncertainty and a potential meltdown of the global economy, even at the cost of a first-ever default on the good faith and credit of the U.S. government. How that destructive hostage taking ends before the imposing deadlines nobody currently seems to know.

The other two pieces of legislation that need to pass quickly comprise Joe Biden's progressive agenda, which he ran on, is wildly popular among the American people, and which Democrats can now enact into law without any Republican help. One is the $1.5 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package for stuff like roads and bridges. The other is the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill known as the Build Back Better Act to expand health care, education, child care and take on climate change among a host of other critical stuff. The framework for the latter bill was approved by Democrats in both chambers on the basis that both bills would be passed together, appeasing both progressives and so-called "moderates". Together, the two bills make up the bulk of the Biden agenda which every Democrat in both chambers voted to support...at least until a small handful of "moderate" Dems in the House and two Dems in the Senate (Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema), tried to break the deal recently and force a vote on the smaller bill while kicking the larger one down the road.

But a newly robust and emboldened Progressives Caucus in the House is having none of it, and has vowed to vote against the smaller bill if the larger one isn't passed along with it. The hold up on the larger one appears to largely be Manchin and Sinema who have been vague in their objections, other than to protest that $3.5 trillion is too much spend. That, despite the fact that Democrats and the President say the entire ten-year ($350 billion/year) bill is fully paid for by small tax increases on corporations and the wealthy. Biden describes the cost of the bill as "zero".

All of which has resulted in "a time of intensity" on Capitol Hill right now which we walk through today --- intensely --- even as Manchin refuses to come up with a number that he would accept, and as Sinema's vague objections are made somewhat clearer by a fund-raiser being held today for her by several business lobbies who oppose having their taxes raised (to a lower amount than they were before Trump), and as her position is now costing her dearly at the moment among both the Arizona state Democratic Party and Democratic voters across her state. Tune in. We'll explain all.

In less intense --- and actually encouraging --- progressive news OUTSIDE of D.C, the inflection point to electric vehicles may just about be here, if Ford's new announcement this week of a huge, $11 billion investment to build three battery factories and an electric truck plant (creating 11,000 jobs in the bargain) is any indication.

Finally, in a related-ish news, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with even more encouraging news on electric vehicles coming out of Norway this week, along with much less encouraging news regarding the high cost of climate change, the GOP obstruction of aid to victims of Hurricane Ida, and new manslaughter charges against California's largest utility company, PG&E...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 9/28/2021 11:17am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Hurricane Ida's destruction caused a record number of oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico; Today's children will face more climate disasters than their grandparents, new study warns; Senate GOP obstruction blocks disaster aid for hurricane victims; Biden EPA moves to cut powerful, climate-warming HFCs; PLUS: California utility PG&E faces new manslaughter felony charges in wildfire that killed four people... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Explosion at Louisiana chemical plant leaves 5 injured; Emerging Impact? Global Warming Effect on Fertility; SoCalGas agrees to pay up to $1.8 billion in settlement for 2015 Aliso Canyon gas leak; Ford Unveils Record $11B Bet On Sprawling EV Factories; PennEast Becomes The Latest To Scuttle A Natural Gas Pipeline Project; 21 States Urge EPA To Toughen Vehicle Emissions Rewrite; Iceland Turns On The World's Biggest Machine To Pull Carbon Out Of The Air; Former Fox News Host Sues Facebook Over Climate Fact Checks... PLUS: Race To The Bottom: Disastrous Blindfolded Rush To Mine The Deep Sea... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guest: Maricopa 'audit' insider and 'bamboo guy' John Brakey of AUDIT-USA; Also: Congressional GOP pushing the U.S. government toward default and global economic disaster...
By Brad Friedman on 9/27/2021 6:39pm PT  

As we head into a week of what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi understated over the weekend as "a time of intensity", we cover that on today's BradCast along with a bit of postmortem mop-up following last week's spectacular fail by the dopey Cyber Ninjas in their Maricopa County, Arizona "audit" of the 2020 election. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

This week, Congress --- and the Democratic Party which is now, apparently, being forced to run it all by themselves --- is facing several precarious moment on a number of fronts. For a start Congress must pass a continuing resolution to keep the government operating after September 30th, when the current fiscal year ends. Even more importantly, to avoid a "financial calamity", they must pass a resolution to suspend or raise the statutory debt limit --- the amount of money the nation can borrow to pay for spending that has already been approved by Congress --- before the country defaults on its loans for the first time in history at some point in October.

Republicans in the U.S. Senate are blocking Democrats from doing either of those things at the moment, in what Pelosi describes as brinkmanship that is "irresponsible beyond words". That, after Democrats voted with Republicans time and again (three times during the Trump Administration alone) to suspend the debt ceiling in order to pay for much of the $8 trillion in debt that was run up with Republican approval over the past 4 years when Donald Trump was in the White House and they controlled Congress.

We explain the incredibly dangerous (and hypocritical) game that Mitch McConnell and the GOP are currently playing with the world economy, even as Democrats face their own internecine battles over how to pass final approval for the Biden Build Back Better agenda, including a bi-partisan $1.5 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill (which Dems can pass by themselves, if they can agree on it) to expand health care, child care, education and much more, including long-overdue action to address on climate emergency.

Next, BradCast listeners last week may know that we were the first in the nation to break the news that the phony, so-called "audit" of the 2020 Presidential and Senatorial election results in Maricopa (Phoenix), AZ by the partisan, conspiracy theorist Cyber Ninjas outfit ended up proving that the Dominion Voting Systems computer tabulators used to tally results in the state's largest county did so accurately. That, according to the Ninjas' own hand-count [PDF] of some 2.1 million ballots. In fact, in a spectacular and hilarious failure, the Ninjas count found the margins of victory for the Democrats in both Joe Biden's Presidential contest and Mark Kelly's Senatorial race, were actually larger than those certified by the County and state officials last year.

But, while the Ninjas tried (unsuccessfully) to bury that embarrassing finding, they also tried to flood the zone with smoke and mirrors about tens of thousands of ballots that they suggested were either illegal or fraudulent in their three-volume report on the audit, and a three-hour presentation last Friday to the GOP-controlled AZ state Senate. There too, they failed spectacularly with one outlet after another, including the Republican-majority Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, fact-checking, debunking and explaining the so-called "critical" claims made by the Ninjas.

It seems the Ninjas never bothered to check with any actual election administration professionals, else most of their concerns would likely have been explained to them.

We're joined today for a postmortem debrief by an insider to much of the past five months of "audit" clown show theater in Maricopa,. You know him as that "bamboo guy". We have known him for many years as the longtime progressive election transparency advocate JOHN BRAKEY of AUDIT-USA. Brakey joined us previously at the beginning of the "audit" for an insider view, and as it continued on for months past its initially planned three weeks, after comments of his taken out of context by a local reporter went viral, reporting that Brakey was looking for bamboo in the ballots, suggesting they were fraudulent and stuffed into the ballot box by China (as many in the MAGA set falsely claimed). In fact, as the later posted full context of his remarks reveals, Brakey was explaining what the Ninjas believed, not him, and that he was participating in the effort in hopes of "ungaslighting" the public about false and otherwise evidence-free claims being made by Trump supporters about the election results.

Brakey worked --- for free, while also refusing to sign the Ninjas' non-disclosure agreement --- with AZ's former Sec. of State, Ken Bennett, a Republican, who was tapped by the GOP state Senate to serve as their liaison to the "audit".

"The whole thing was a grift. Okay?," Brakey tells me today after the audits conclusion. "They didn't want people to know how screwed up they were. They're the best talkers but the worst producers. They pretend to know what they were talking about." But, as Brakey explains again today, they didn't have a clue what they were doing.

Among the many questions of mine that Brakey speaks to today:

  • Were his efforts to "ungaslight" the public by working on the audit successful or was it a mistake on his part to lend his credibility?
  • Does he believe the minds of any of the MAGA Mob were ultimately changed through this exercise?
  • As a long time election transparency and integrity champion, was there anything that the Ninjas DID uncover that was actually troubling and needs to be addressed or corrected by election officials?
  • Will the AZ "audit" make similar post-election reviews more or less likely elsewhere in the country?
  • What is the AZ Senate hiding by failing to release thousands of public documents and communications between them and the Ninjas (including emails and texts from Brakey), as ordered by a state judge?
  • And much more, including whether or not the Ninjas ever found that elusive "bamboo" in Maricopa County's 2.1 million hand-marked paper ballots!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Jet Propulsion Lab's Dr. Peter Kalmus on the need for 'climate emergency mode'; Also: Yesterday's 'BradCast' scoop on Cyber Ninjas' hilarious AZ 'audit' fail confirmed by rest of national media...
By Brad Friedman on 9/24/2021 7:05pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Several hours after we got off air from yesterday's program, our first-in-the-nation scoop on the pretty hilarious results of the Cyber Ninjas' Arizona "audit" was confirmed by the national media, including New York Times, Washington Post and CNN, not to mention the Arizona Republic and other local outlets. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

The main part of our exclusive news yesterday was that Trump's sore-loser, publicly financed, privately purchased and secretly carried out 2020 "audit" in Maricopa County found that the hand-count of 2.1 million hand-marked paper ballots cast there, as tallied by Dominion Voting Systems' tabulators prior to certification, were, in fact, tallied almost entirely accurately. The evidence-free lie that there had been some nefarious conspiracy to hack the Dominion systems on Joe Biden's behalf by communists in China, Cuba, Venezuela, along with George Soros, the "deep state" and "antifa", proved to be the bullshit most of the not-brainwashed Americans had presumed.

In fact, according to the Ninjas' own hand-count, Joe Biden picked up 99 votes over the state certified totals while Donald Trump lost 261, widening Biden's slim margin of more than 10,000 votes in Arizona by another 360. The "audit" hand-count of the state's U.S. Senate race also found a larger margin for the Democratic candidate than certified, though both candidates lost some votes in the Ninjas' count. Republican Martha McSally lost 541 votes, while Democrat Mark Kelly lost just 60, for an overall increase of 481 votes for Kelly, the certified winner.

We were a bit more general and circumspect during Thursday's show than we usually like to be, in our description of those findings while breaking the news in order to protect sourcing. But with the Ninjas three volume report now full released you can download it yourself for inspection. The numbers in the Presidential and Senate race are, however, buried way back in the report's third volume [PDF] for some odd reason. That's another reason we felt it important to break the news before the Ninjas put their purposefully diverting spin on things.

As Phoenix' NPR station KJZZ reported last night, even Randy Pullen, a spokesman for the state Senate and major proponent of the "audit" was forced to concede: "Was there massive fraud or anything? It doesn't look like it."

Today, Arizona's GOP state Senate held a forum to allow the Ninjas and friends to present their findings, though the Senate's feed crapped out about an hour into it (and long before Ninja CEO Doug Logan ever conceded that his hand-count confirmed the previously certified Democratic victories, if he ever offered such a concession. You can watch a replay of the three-hour forum now here.), We'll almost certainly pick up any newsworthy information or legitimate concerns from the hearing and/or the report in the not too distant future, if warranted.

All of this nonsense, of course, is a perfect way to disguise and distract from the fact that the GOP is now a broken political party with absolute no actual legislative agenda. But it comes at a time when when humanity itself is hanging in the balance, unfortunately, and when a legitimate opposition party to the Democrats might be very useful.

Earlier this month, NASA climate scientist and author DR. PETER KALMUS responded to recent calls from President Biden and nations around the world, to reach "net zero" greenhouse gas emissions "by 2050", by citing "two fatal flaws" in that plan: "One is 'net zero,'" he wrote at The Guardian, "the other is 'by 2050'."

Kalmus' argument comes as climate disasters around the world are now happening much sooner, more broadly and more fiercely than long predicted by climate scientists, and as new U.N. reports argue that even if the nations of the world meet their current pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, we will still see catastrophic, humanity-threatening disaster by century's end. That, as a handful of so-called "moderate" Democrats in the House and Senate this week hold up efforts to at least begin facing this challenge, as designed in the Clean Energy Performance Program (or CEPP, offering financial incentives for utility companies to move to renewable energy production) built into the heart of President Biden's proposed $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act.

"In my opinion, and I think many of my colleagues would agree, the climate science community is pretty surprised by how fast climate breakdown is progressing, in terms of extreme heat, which kicks off the fires, along with the extreme drought in the Western part of the US, the extreme flooding that we've been seeing in the Eastern part of the U.S. All of this is coming a lot faster than we thought as a community," Kalmus tells me, explaining why he is calling for "climate emergency mode" in which "a lot of things in society would have to change pretty drastically and quickly."

When there's an emergency," he argues, "you don't typically just keep doing what you were doing." He notes that most calls for net zero by 2050 assume some sort of negative emissions or carbon capture technology which either doesn't yet exist or, where it does, is not nearly robust enough to remove anywhere near the amount of greenhouse gas that must be removed from the atmosphere to even make a dent in our quickly worsening climate crisis.

He is calling for much more drastic measures --- such as the nationalization of the fossil fuel industry --- than most of the climate scientists and experts we've interviewed on the program, or who are usually allowed to speak in the national media.

While Kalmus concedes many of his arguments "might sound a little too radical" for many now, he believes that with each successive disaster, people will begin to understand more and more the consequences of failing to take appropriate action to meet the moment. He argues that while carbon capture technologies will not save us, neither will kicking the can down to 2050 to reach net zero. That, Kalmus explains, needs to happen more like by 2035 and, he believes, it is actually doable.

His case "might sound a little too radical to some of your listeners," the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist (who notes he's speaking on his own behalf) concedes, but "my response to them would be that they haven't fully understood just what an emergency we're in, or just how irreversible the damage that we're doing and leaving for future generations is going to be."

Kalmus, whose research at the nation's space agency employs satellite data and models to study our rapidly changing Earth, warns: "I see what is coming in the future years, and I'm just trying to get people to respond now to what I know is coming. And that's really hard. I take a lot of criticism for that. But I know I'm right. So I keep trying."

"Ten years ago when I was saying similar things, but it wasn't so immediate to people, no one was listening," he says, adding: "Recent years have started to shift that balance. It's just basic physics and it's continuing as we continue to emit these greenhouse gases. So I can say with complete confidence that in the coming years, what I'm saying now that sounds radical to people will not seem radical anymore. I just wish that people would listen now."

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Controversial partisan hand-count in Maricopa County also found 2020 margin increased for Dem over Repub in U.S. Senate race; Plus: GOP Senate now threatening to force unprecedented default on U.S. debt...
By Brad Friedman on 9/23/2021 5:16pm PT  

Now, even the Cyber Ninjas agree that Donald Trump lost, and by more than originally thought. The full, final, long-awaited report is set to be released on Friday in three different "volumes" in which they hope to bury the lede. But we've got the breaking skinny, exclusively reported for you on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

According to a months-long, so-called "forensic audit" and hand-count of more than 2.1 million ballots in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona from the 2020 election, not only did Joe Biden defeat Trump, as previously reported by the County and the state, the private partisan company hired by the GOP state Senate to carry out the exercise, found that Biden actually received more votes over Trump than originally reported.

Information obtained just minutes before airtime today, reveals that the months-long "audit" by the far-right, partisan, conspiracy-promoting Florida company named Cyber Ninjas, headed up by CEO Doug Logan, determined that Biden's vote total in the state's most populous county was actually larger, by about 100 votes, than the certified numbers, while Trump's total decreased by more than 200.

The certified results in Arizona determined that Biden defeated Trump by about 10,000 votes statewide, and by some 45,000 votes in Maricopa.

The Ninjas' "clown show" hand-count was paid for partially with Arizona taxpayer dollars, along with millions in private donations raised from duped Trump supporters who believed his claims that the election was somehow rigged in the state with the help of Dominion's voting and tabulation computers. The post-election review was carried out largely without public or media oversight, but it found numbers remarkably similar to those initially tallied by the County's Dominion tabulators, as previously reported by Maricopa County and certified by the state.

Similarly, the Ninjas' hand-count of the U.S. Senate race between Democrat Mark Kelly and then Republican Senator Martha McSally --- the only other statewide race won by Democrats last year --- found an increase in the margin of the Democrat over the Republican. In the Senate contest, both candidates lost a small number of votes compared to the County's certified computer tally, according to the numbers the Ninjas are set to report publicly on Friday. While Kelly lost fewer than 100 votes in the private hand-count, McSally lost more than 500.

The final report, scheduled for its long-awaited release tomorrow, will include three different volumes. Volume I is said to include the Ninjas' "Executive Summary & Recommendations". Their recommendations, as we have learned, are fairly standard recommendations for ways to improve local procedures, similar to recommendation often made by actual longtime Election Integrity advocates in previous elections in both Arizona and other states. The second volume of the report details "Operations and Methodology" claimed to have been used by the Ninjas. And the third, by far the largest and most detailed, is titled "Results Details".

It is not until the third volume of the report that the Ninjas finally get around to detailing the actual results of their hand-counts as compared to the County's tally. They almost precisely confirm the originally reported official results of both the 2020 Presidential and Senatorial races in Maricopa County. There still may be some changes made to the report before the final version is released on Friday.

I suspect we'll have more details on all of this in the coming days, since today's program began just minutes after we obtained a large amount of the data, which we work through on air.

What is clear, however, is that Republicans who were told that the election in Arizona was somehow manipulated, were lied to. From our review of the Ninja's information, there remains zero evidence of fraud that might have altered the ultimate results in either the county or the state. Nonetheless, based on the theatrical performance put on by the Ninjas beginning in April and continuing over the past five months, Republicans in states across the country are now planning similar, taxpayer funded exercises to review the results of the 2020 election. They may be as disappointed as the Ninjas and those who gave them their money.

If the Arizona findings are echoed elsewhere, the Republican Party is on the verge of wasting a whole lot more taxpayer money, along with millions in private donations that their "forensic audit" proponents are currently raising to fund those similar investigations.

Beyond that on today's program, we cover, in some detail, the Congressional GOP's dangerous threat to force a default on the good faith and credit of the U.S. Government. Senate Republicans are currently vowing to block an increase in the nation's allowable statutory debt limit before the U.S. runs out of borrowing power to cover bills for stuff approved by Congress (both Republicans and Democrats) long ago. That, as Republicans in the Senate also threaten to force a full government shutdown as the new fiscal year begins on October 1.

We've got a lot of detail on that shameful, reckless and under-reported mess today, as Republicans, once again, hold a nation hostage to their demands...even if, this time, they don't seem to actually be making any. They appear to simply be causing havoc and potentially costing the U.S. economy trillions, simply because they can.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us today with our latest Green News Report, as President Biden calls for unified climate action at the U.N. and as China vows to end international financing of coal plants, and much more...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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CORRECTION 9/23/2021: In the article above, I initially misidentified Cyber Ninjas' CEO Doug Logan as Doug Jones, who, unlike Logan, is an actual voting system and cybersecurity expert. Another Doug Jones is the former Senator from Alabama. Also, while going through the just obtained information live on air, I misspoke at one point to say there were some 4 million ballots cast in Maricopa. In fact, as I noted elsewhere during the show, there were 2.1 million ballots cast in the County last November. I had misread, on the fly, some of the data showing 2.x million votes tabulated by the County originally and 2.x million tabulated by the Ninjas. I read that on the fly on air as 4 million votes total (incorrectly seeing those numbers as one row for Trump and the other for Biden, when they actually were for each of the two different tallies.) My apologies for both errors!

* * *

UPDATE 9/24/2021: National media picks up this story several hours after our scoop. Full details now here...

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Guest: Congressional historian and author Norman Ornstein of AEI on why he believes Dems will both reform the filibuster and pass a transformative Build Back Better budget reconciliation package...
By Brad Friedman on 9/22/2021 6:23pm PT  

On today's BradCast: What we are witnessing right now in Washington D.C. is not just an exercise in how the sausage gets made...or doesn't. While it is that, it is also an extraordinarily perilous moment for the survival of the republic, as Democrats try to step up, in order to face down an insurrectionist GOP seemingly hell bent on taking the nation and the world down with them. Fortunately, our guest today --- who knows this landscape as well as anyone in the nation --- seems optimistic, despite the fraught dangers that lie ahead. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

The nightmare moment for Joe Biden, the Democrats and the nation, includes a Congressional Republican Party willing to default on the, until now, iron-clad good faith and credit of the U.S. economy, by refusing to vote to raise the ridiculous "debt ceiling" in order to borrow the money needed to pay for all the stuff that we (including Republicans!) have already committed to paying for, including trillions spent or given away during the Trump years.

It also includes several mighty internecine battles inside the Congressional Democratic caucus itself, as the so-called "moderate" and progressive wings of the big tent party attempt to navigate through landmines over the next several days and weeks to come to an agreement on Joe Biden's proposed $3.5 trillion Build Back Better social safety net programs (which, in addition to the expansion of health and child care, also includes a laundry list of long-overdue programs, such as our first major attempt to take on our climate emergency) and the critical Freedom to Vote Act, a sweeping election reform package to try and counter the massive voter suppression and election subversion efforts being adopted by GOP-controlled states in advance of 2022.

To pass the latter, Democrats will almost certainly need to reform the filibuster in some way, to allow passage with a simple majority of Senators. Sadly, there do not appear to be any Republicans left in Congress who are willing to support the right to vote and fair elections. These problems seem insurmountable for the moment, even as we've been fairly bullish on the Dems' ultimate ability to overcome the many hurdles they currently face.

Similarly bullish, it seems, is NORMAN ORNSTEIN [pictured above], longtime Congressional historian and political science PhD, who has spent the bulk of the last four decades studying politics, elections, and the US Congress at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, where he is now a senior fellow emeritus. He is also a contributing editor and columnist for The Atlantic and author of a host of books, including his latest, One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported, with E. J. Dionne and Thomas E. Mann.

Last week, Ornstein and Norman Eisen, of the left-leaning Brookings Institution, published a Washington Post op-ed headlined "Seven reasons to think Senate Democrats will actually change the filibuster". It's based on a paper they published at the same time at Brookings, along with Mel Barnes and Jeffrey A. Mandell, titled "Filibuster reform is coming --- here's how".

Both pieces are surprisingly optimistic when it comes to what will have to happen --- and how West Virginia's Joe Manchin and Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema will have to play along --- in order to reform the filibuster to adopt the Freedom to Vote Act, before that freedom is all but foreclosed by GOP voter suppression and election subversion in next year's mid-terms and 2024's Presidential race.

"We're seeing more and more intense understanding on the part of Democrats in the Senate that the road to accomplishing significant goals, in a time frame that's short for Democrats, has to require some change in their rules," Ornstein tells me, explaining why he believes that even Manchin and Sinema will come around to understanding the existential necessity of countering "the over-the-top actions by --- it's not a party anymore --- the Republican cult, to try not just to obstruct votes and to suppress votes, but to intimidate election workers and overturn legitimate results."

He walks us through why he believes that both of those two currently obstructionist Democratic Senators will come around in the end, on both filibuster reform and the Dems' budget reconciliation bill, which can be adopted with a simple majority vote. "Joe Manchin, throughout his career, has been a transactional politician. You could do a bill that's, say, $2.2 or $2.5 trillion, that actually preserves all of your core priorities" by simply trimming the number of years those proposals will be in effect. And, he argues, it can be done "if not being revenue neutral," then in a way that "is a pretty trivial amount as a share of our Gross Domestic Product."

In the end, he believes Manchin will come along, and Sinema along with him. "I think it's dicey, but I also think it's doable," Ornstein argues.

Among other key points of our conversation today, we discuss how Nancy Pelosi can hold the vote on the smaller, bipartisan, $1.5 trillion infrastructure package that Democratic House "moderates" are demanding next week, but not send the bill to the President's desk until the larger reconciliation package supported by progressives is adopted in both chambers; and how (and if) Democrats will be able to overcome objections by the Senate Parliamentarian to include things like immigration reform in a budget reconciliation package, "awkwardly thrown in". All necessary, says Ornstein, "because of the goddamn filibuster! Because there's no other way to get it done with 50 votes. So you create this ungainly hodgepodge of things as a way to try to circumvent the rules, and the better way to deal with it is to change the damn rules!"

If these things don't happen, he warns, if Democrats fail to successfully navigate the many minefields to adopt both election reform and Biden's Build Back Better Agenda, we are in "deep, deep, deep trouble," he says. "I think we're done for, frankly, if they can't do both of these things."

Of course, in the next few days, we'll also have to somehow get over the debt ceiling cliff that Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are threatening to push the nation over. On that, Ornstein is less sanguine. "I'm actually more concerned about that, because we have a group of Republicans like [Governors] Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott, Kristi Noem and Tate Reeves, and so many others who are willing to let hundreds of thousands of people die [from COVID] for their own political purposes. Can I believe that Mitch McConnell and his colleagues would let the nation go into default and cause the economy to go into huge upheaval? Sadly, yes."

There is also at least one extra treat in my interview with Ornstein today, however, for those who may remember the hilarious and shockingly prescient 1998 satirical novel by Al Franken, written prior to his career as a U.S. Senator, entitled Why Not Me?: The Inside Story of the Making and Unmaking of the Franken Presidency. Ornstein actually "co-stars" in the book as Franken's unlikely Campaign Manager before becoming his Presidential Chief of Staff. I'll not give any more of the book away, since I suspect it's still an hilarious read. But today, Ornstein shares the backstory of how that book came about, and how much more prescient it actually turned out to be than even I remembered!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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