It seemed like everything I read before today's BradCast, everything I was pushed toward via social media, everything that I simply happened to stumble upon on my own one way or another, felt like a soundtrack for America's rising authoritarianism. Everything, that is, except for the inspirational words about journalism from Pope Francis. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]
Among the stories providing today's unmistakably dark drumbeat of America's rising authoritarianism...
- The Pope pays "homage" to journalists and journalism, including this passage that serves us inspiration today: "Your mission is to explain the world, to make it less dark, to make those who live there fear it less and look at others with greater awareness, and also with more confidence. It is not an easy mission. It is difficult to think, meditate, deepen, stop to collect ideas and to study the contexts and precedents of a news item. The risk, you know well, is that of letting oneself be crushed by the news instead of being able to make sense of it." [The full comments in Italian; The Vatican's translation.]
- More disturbing, extreme GOP gerrymandering this week in both Ohio and Georgia (and what we think Democrats should do in response before it's successfully used by Republicans take over the U.S. House majority in 2022 and then steal the American Presidency with it in 2024.)
- Picking up on where we left off at the end of yesterday's BradCast, with the violent death threats against Michigan's Republican Rep. Fred Upton, who dared vote for Joe Biden's non-controversial, bipartisan infrastructure bill. Upton is hardly the only Republican now being turned on by fellow Republicans for voting to improve the nation's roads and bridges. Or, as Georgia's Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene describes it, a "communist takeover of America". Rep. Anthony Gonzales (R-OH) voted, along with Upton, in favor of Trump's second impeachment earlier this year following the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, incited by the disgraced President as part of his efforts to steal the 2020 election. Gonzales has decided not to run for re-election and explained his thoughts over the weekend on the "political loser" Trump, the mistake his party has made by backing him, and his plans to fight against Trump's re-election in 2024 if he runs. Gonzales' thoughts are worth hearing (so we share some of them), though they also reveal that Gonzales does not have clean hands himself in the ugly, growing divisiveness between Republicans and Democrats. (And between Republicans and other Republicans who are deemed not Trumpy enough.)
- Speaking of which, despite a 93% record of voting with the former President during his four years in office (a higher percentage than Trump apparatchiks Jim Jordan, Elise Stefanik, Paul Gosar or Matt Gaetz), the Wyoming state Republican Central Committee voted over the weekend to no longer recognize conservative Republican Rep. Liz Cheney as a member of their party. Yes, that's how twisted --- and terrifying --- and authoritarian --- the Republican Party has now become. (Can you hear the drumbeat?)
- New details, via a new book from ABC News' Jonathan Karl, on how Trump Campaign attorney, Jenna Ellis, sent a memo with instructions to then Vice-President Mike Pence on the specific steps he needed to take in order to direct several swing-state legislatures and the U.S. House to steal the Presidential election on January 6th.
- Not authoritarian enough for ya yet? It goes all the way down to the ground. The School Board in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, last week, had a debate about whether they should ban certain books from school libraries or whether they should both ban and burn them. Seriously. (Hearing those drums yet?) For now, they voted unanimously to ban them...and to reconsider burning later. They are hardly the only ones on the increasingly hard right to cancel facts and ideas they do not like. Over the summer, Florida's authoritarian Governor and Presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis convinced his appointed State Board of Education to approve a rule banning critical race theory and the use of material from the New York Times' Pulitzer Prize winning "1619 Project" from Florida classrooms.
- While it's still remarkable that Trump has yet to face charges for mass homicide for the hundreds of thousands of Americans he helped to die from the coronavirus last year, more details are now emerging, via the U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, about how the Administration purposefully suppressed science and public health guidance from the CDC last year. Amidst the most deadly pandemic in more than 100 years, the Administration, according to testimony and documentation from both current and former public health officials given to the Subcommittee, decisions were made to alter scientific guidance and prevent health officials from communicating directly with the public. They were even given instructions at various points to destroy evidence of their email communications on these matters. Sounds like criminal activity to me. (You still there, Merrick Garland?)
- Finally, taking a break from the drumbeat of rising American authoritarianism, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as the U.N.'s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow ends in overtime with progress, compromises and disappointments. And President Biden signs his landmark, bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal with billions of dollars worth of long-overdue climate-related measures contained within...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)