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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, July 4, 2022
Sunday 'Read the Room' Toons
The writing (and much more) is on the wall in PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
WARNING: SCOTUS Takes Case to Legitimize Fringe 'Indpndnt State Legislature' Doctrine!: 'BradCast' 7/1/22
Corrupt Court may legalize election theft; Also: Ginni lies; Fox defamation; CA Internet Voting...
Activist SCOTUS Torches EPA's 'Clean Air Act' Mandate to Regulate Carbon Pollution: 'BradCast' 6/30/22
Guest: Mark Joseph Stern on that, much more on the final day of the corrupt Court's term...
'Green News Report' 6/30/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Rightwing SCOTUS guts EPA's power to regulate carbon emissions; Residential gas stoves leak carcinogens; PLUS: Clean energy jobs booming! Fossil fuel jobs not so much...
Recent GNRs: 6/28/22 - 6/23/22 - Archives...
Tuesday's Election Results
and the Tea Leaves of 'UNconventional Times': 'BradCast' 6/29/22
What to glean from the first midterm primaries and special elections after the fall of 'Roe'...
JAN. 6 HEARINGS (Day 6): Meadows' Top WH Aide Offers Insider Trump Bombshell After Bombshell: 'BradCast' 6/28/22
Cassidy Hutchinson's explosive testimony w/ John Amato and Heather Digby Parton...
'Green News Report' 6/28/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Cause of NM's largest-ever wildfire revealed; Japan's grid straining under extreme heat; Colombia's new Prez a climate hawk; PLUS: Americans' high cost of extreme weather...
Recent GNRs: 6/23/22 - 6/21/22 - Archives...
After Corrupt Reversal of 'Roe', What Now? What Next?: 'BradCast' 6/27/22
Callers ring in; Also: Russia attacks Ukrainian shopping mall; Surprise J6 hearing announced; SCOTUS further erodes separation of church and state with new ruling...
Sunday 'Supremely Unjust' Toons
PDiddie's latest radical collection of this extremist week's most activist and supremely corrupted toons...
SUPREME CORRUPTION: 'BradCast' 6/24/22
Packed Court of radical, activist GOP Justices invent imaginary 'historical' reasons to cancel reproductive freedoms, personal privacy rights, gun safety laws; Also: Many more well-established Constitutional rights now in peril...
JAN. 6 HEARINGS (Day 5): Trump's Failed DoJ Coup and 'How Close We Came to Losing it All': 'BradCast' 6/23/22
With former Deputy Asst. AG Lisa Graves, Salon's Heather Digby Parton...
'Green News Report' 6/23/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Biden calls for temporary gas tax cut; Arctic warming really fast; New management for national monument; PLUS: IEA warns Europe about Russian gas exports this winter...
Recent GNRs: 6/21/22 - 6/16/22 - Archives...
Rebutting Raffensperger's 'Recount', Calling Out His Coffee County 'Cover-Up':
'BradCast' 6/22/22
Guest: Marilyn Marks of CGG; Also: DoJ broadens fake Trump electors probe...
J6 HEARINGS (Day 4): Trump Threatened, Targeted, Terror-ized State Officials, Election Workers: 'BradCast' 6/21/22
Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, 'Driftglass' of the Pro Left Podcast...
'Green News Report' 6/21/22
Deadly heat in Europe, U.S.; Catastrophic flooding in India, Bangladesh; Climate change a 'public health crisis'; PLUS: Corrupt SCOTUS set to undermine EPA...
A Conservative Appeal to Repubs to Save America, End Uncivil War on Democracy: 'BradCast' 6/20/22
Also: More Americans seek Trump J6 accountability; Callers ring in...
Sunday 'Right-Wing Freakout' Toons...
PDiddie apologizes to Dad for ruining his day, in his latest weekly toon collection...
Can Our Democracy Survive All of This?: 'BradCast' 6/17/22
Guest Host Nicole Sandler w/ The Nation's John Nichols...
J6 HEARINGS (Day 3): Trump, Eastman Knew VP Scheme Unlawful, Pressured Pence Anyway: 'BradCast' 6/16/22
Guests: Former DoJ fraud prosecutor Randall D. Eliason, Salon's Heather Digby Parton...
'Green News Report' 6/16/22
'Delusional' rush to new fossil fuel supplies; A surprising source of pollution; 'World's first zero emissions cement'; PLUS: TX grid saved by wind, solar...
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...


Ominous warnings for those who wish to notice: Republican gerrymanders continue; GOPers v. GOPers; More details on the attempt to steal the 2020 election; Book 'burning'; Trump's COVID cover-up...
By Brad Friedman on 11/16/2021 7:18pm PT  

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...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Bannon turns himself in; U.N. Climate Summit concludes with noteworthy agreement; Biden signs landmark, $1.2T roads, bridges, environment bill...
By Brad Friedman on 11/15/2021 6:16pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we try and wrestle the Monday blizzard of incoming news to the ground --- some of which suggest that maybe we're getting somewhere. Finally. Maybe. A little. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

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

  • Steve Bannon turns himself in to federal prosecutors to face two charges of criminal Contempt of Congress, each of which could earn him as much as a year in prison. But the message sent with his indictment by Attorney General Merrick Garland to the other three dozen or so Trumpers who have also been subpoenaed by the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attempt to steal the 2020 election, is the most important point here. Donald Trump's former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows may face similar charges after defying his own subpoena on Friday. Trump himself could also still be subpoenaed by the tenacious, bipartisan House Committee.
  • It took an extra day or so, but the nearly 200 nations that gathered for the COP26 U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland over the past two weeks finally reached an agreement [PDF] that all parties could sign onto over the weekend. For the first time, this year's agreement --- while not nearly enough to take on the worsening threat of our climate emergency --- finally calls for the "phase down" of coal and other fossil fuels. Incredibly, until this year, neither the words "coal" or "fossil fuels" have appeared in any of the previous 25 agreements signed by the parties over the years. And even "phase down" was a last minute change demanded by India and China from "phase out". Desi Doyen explains that and much more, including the continuing problem of securing commitments from developed countries who caused the problem to cover the enormous costs of developing countries who didn't, even as many of them are paying the greatest immediate and long term price for our climate catastrophe.
  • Beto is in. Former Democratic Congressman Beto O'Rourke declares his intention to run for Governor next year against Texas' far-right incumbent Republican Greg Abbott.
  • Leahy is out. The 8-term Democratic U.S. Senator from Vermont, Patrick Leahy, currently the longest servicing member of the upper chamber, announces he will not seek a ninth term.
  • The fate of Kyle Rittenhouse is now in the hands of the jury. The 17-year old counter-protester used a semi-automatic rifle to shoot three demonstrators, killing two of them, in Kenosha, Wisconsin last year after the police killing of George Floyd. Before handing the case to jurors, the judge --- whose bizarre behavior throughout the televised trial suggested he's in the bag for Rittenhouse --- dropped a less significant charge of being a minor in possession of a firearm.
  • Far-right propagandist and conspiracy theory profiteer Alex Jones and his Infowars media outlet were found guilty by default in the latest defamation case against him in Connecticut. The suit was brought by families of eight people killed in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Jones declared the massacre to be a "giant hoax" by the federal government. It's the fourth Sandy Hook case in which Jones has been found guilty of defamation. The first three were in Texas, where Jones' media empire is based. Juries in each state will decide how much Jones must pay in damage and court costs to the families next year.
  • The biggest political news of the day was the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill finally signed into law on Monday by President Biden in a ceremony on the White House lawn. It is the latest component of his sweeping "Build Back Better" agenda following the devastation of COVID, Donald Trump and, in this case, decades of failure to invest in rebuilding and shoring up the nation's crumbling infrastructure. We explain what's in the landmark bill, including the largest single investment in roads and bridges since the Eisenhower era. There are also a number of key environment and climate related elements in the bill, for replacement of toxic lead water pipes, hardening and expansion of the nation's power grid, investment in electric vehicle charging stations and zero- and low-emission public transit and consumer vehicles. The Administration vows the measure will create millions of jobs over the next five years. And while infrastructure has traditionally been one area on which both Republicans and Democrats tend to find common ground, the post-Trump Republican party has described the bill as a "communist takeover" of the country, and has turned on Republicans in both the House and Senate who voted for passage. That has resulted in death threats for a number of the GOPers in the House who voted for the bipartisan measure supported by such noted "communists" in the Senate as Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham.
  • And yes, we take a few calls from listeners on all of the above throughout today's program...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Campaign Legal Center's Brendan Fischer; Also: Big news out of UN Climate Summit; Bad news out of federal court for Trump and friends...
By Brad Friedman on 11/10/2021 6:12pm PT  

Before my head explodes on today's BradCast while speaking with our guest about the latest ruling from the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) on foreign money in American elections, we open with some seemingly better news --- and then close later with some definitely better news. [Audio link to show is posted below this summary.]

First up, three noteworthy points came out of the COP26 U.N. climate summit in Glasgow on Wednesday, even if all three points are still somewhat vague and it remains to be seen if all 196 participating nations can unanimously (as required) come to an agreement by the end of this week's conference to cut enough global warming-causing emissions to save humanity. Is that too much to ask?

The three noteworthy points which we discuss, and quickly explain why they are so noteworthy, regard 1) a draft text [PDF] of a final agreement for COP26 (which could change before all is said and done), that actually mentions the need to phase out coal and subsidies for fossil fuels. Though that would seem obvious, it would actually be a landmark statement. 2) A pledge was announced between six major automakers (including Ford and GM!) and 30 national governments to phase out the sale of all new internal combustion vehicles worldwide by 2040 and in "leading markets" by 2035. And 3) A "surprise joint announcement" from the U.S. and China to work together to slow global warming in this decade (including reductions of emissions from both methane and coal!) and to ensure the Glasgow conference ends in success. All three points are actually big news, even if each comes with some vagaries and caveats and, in and of themselves, are nowhere near enough to save us. But all three are important and even landmark early steps toward that end, for reasons we discuss.

Next up, the FEC has affirmed that it's perfectly legal under federal law for foreign countries to spend as much as they like on American ballot referenda, at least in states that don't have laws outlawing it. Their recent 4 to 2 ruling comes from a 2018 Montana complaint where a Canadian subsidiary of an Australian firm had spent money to back a ballot measure placing new restrictions on hard rock mining in the state. It also comes on the heels of a ballot proposition last week in Maine where a record $89 million was spent on campaigns for and against a ballot initiative to halt a $1 billion cross-border corridor for a high-impact, clean electricity transmission line to bring power to the state generated by a Quebec-owned hydro-power company.

The FEC ruling allows unlimited millions from foreign individuals, companies and nations to be dumped into American ballot campaigns. We're joined today to discuss this seemingly mind-blowing FEC ruling by BRENDAN FISCHER, Director of the Federal Reform Program at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center in Washington D.C. He explains the gaping loophole in the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) that bars foreign money in American candidate elections, but not, apparently, on ballot referenda and propositions, which the FEC says federal law does not consider to be an "election"!

While objectionable and a "kind of insane outcome" to the Montana case, according to Fischer, "this is not a totally crazy or unfounded interpretation" of the federal statute. In this case, it was, in fact, the Democratic Chair of the FEC who voted with all three Republicans on the Commission. Moreover, Fischer says, in Maine, there had been a bipartisan bill adopted by the state legislature to ban foreign money in ballot initiative campaigns, which was ultimately vetoed by the state's Democratic Governor. "That was really controversial in Maine," Fischer explains, "and voters, both Republican and Democrat, were unhappy about it."

He notes that elected officials from both parties in Congress have expressed concern about this problem with FECA and have put forward legislation to fix it. "There's a surprising amount of bipartisan support for plugging this loophole," Fischer tells me. "It also should be noted that the Freedom To Vote Act --- the big voting rights and campaign finance reform bill, supported by Joe Manchin --- also includes a provision that would extend the foreign national prohibition to state and local ballot measures."

Fischer also rings in today on the scathing report [PDF] issued this week by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, led by a Republican Trump-appointee, finding that more than a dozen top Trump Administration officials --- often repeatedly and knowingly --- violated the Hatch Act's ban on federal employees using their office to campaign for candidates (specifically for Trump) in the run-up to the 2020 election. While top Trump officials, including Sec. of State Mike Pompeo, violated the decades-old Act, the punishment for doing so --- at least for political appointees, if not career federal employees --- is left up to the discretion of the sitting President. Thus, naturally, under our disgraced former President, none of the thirteen who violated the Act faced any consequences from the federal law. Fischer offers his thoughts on whether the Hatch Act, like FECA, can or should be reformed by this Congress.

Finally, Tuesday night offered some actual bad news for that disgraced former President, as a federal judge rejected his attempt to block to the release of January 6-related White House documents subpoenaed by the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Trump-incited insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan thoroughly shut down Trump's claims that Executive Privilege "exists in perpetuity" for him and that he otherwise faces irreparable harm if the National Archives releases the subpoenaed documents as scheduled this Friday. Chutkan's scathing 39-page ruling confirms the well-established principle that only a SITTING President has the power to exercise Executive Privilege to block the release of documents and that "Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President.”

Ouch. Trump's attorneys have, naturally, vowed to appeal. But the ruling is also very bad news for his disgraced former advisor Steve Bannon, who is facing a criminal Contempt of Congress charge referred to the Dept. of Justice by the U.S. House after his refusal to answer a lawful subpoena from the Select Committee. His basis for refusing to do so was that Trump told him his own documents and testimony were exempt under Executive Privilege. They aren't, because the former President has no such privilege. Neither are the documents and testimony of dozens of others subpoenaed by the Committee, all of whom, like Bannon, could be facing a year in prison for defying lawful Congressional subpoenas. As you know, this story will continue to develop in the days ahead...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 11/9/2021 11:16am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Bipartisan infrastructure bill passes Congress with key climate investments; Hopeful-ish news from U.N. climate summit in Glasgow; PLUS: At COP26 summit, Obama pushes world governments to do more, and move faster... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

GNR's now celebrating 12 YEARS of independent green news, politics, analysis, snarky comment and connecting climate change dots over your public airwaves!
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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Are carbon markets the new gaming for Native American tribes?; John Oliver explains The Power Grid; No, electric cars not more likely to get stuck in traffic jams; EPA finally takes action on lead contamination in Benton Harbor, MI; Criminal groups profit from trafficking of plastic waste, report finds; White House awaits Enbridge pipeline review before decision; Guyana, a poor country, was a green champion. then Exxon discovered oil... PLUS: Harnessing the energy of the ocean to power homes, planes and whisky distilleries... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Dems continue legislative struggle to protect voting rights, Repubs face new legal woes for trying to steal 2020; Also: More results from 2021 elections; Progress at U.N. climate summit in Glasgow...
By Brad Friedman on 11/4/2021 6:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast": Despite what you may hear from certain elements of the media, the differences between the two parties when it comes to democracy and voting rights could not be more stark. Democrats are currently trying (and still failing, so far) in Congress, to protect voting rights for all voters. Republicans, meanwhile, are undermining those most basic of American rights around the country, even while facing mounting legal problems for having been gullible enough to play along with Donald Trump's Big Lie effort to steal the 2020 election. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But we've got a lot more than that on today's program. Among the many stories covered...

  • More ballot initiative results from Tuesday's off-year elections, including out of Tucson, Arizona where voters, by a nearly 2 to 1 margin, approved a new minimum wage of $15/hour. The victory for some 85,000 workers in the state's Democratic stronghold comes just months after its Senior Senator, Kyrsten Sinema, infamously thumbs-downed her own parties efforts to raise the federal minimum wage nationally to $15/hour. Hoping she noticed what happened in Tucson on Tuesday, because we're betting the folks in Tucson noticed her thumbs-down.
  • In New York state, all three election and voting rights reform propositions placed on the ballot by the Democratic legislature failed by wide margins. Republicans opposed all three and mounted an aggressive campaign to defeat them. Prop 1 involved redistricting reform. Prop 3 would have allowed same-day registration. Prop 4 would have allowed for no-excuse absentee voting in the Empire State. We discussed all three with two longtime NY election integrity advocates last week. Even though there was disagreement on several of measures, it's still a bit of a surprise that all three went down. That, even as Prop 2, a very progressive proposition on the same ballot establishing "the Right to clean air, water and a healthful environment" in the state's Constitution, did pass, by a more than 2 to 1 margin. Hmmm.
  • On Wednesday, back in D.C., a Senate vote on whether to proceed to debate on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act --- which restores much of what the U.S. Supreme Court has gutted in recent years from the Voting Rights Act of 1965 --- was blocked by Republicans. All Democrats voted in favor (including Joe Manchin) and even one Republican for a change (Lisa Murkowski). But as with the similarly Manchin-approved Freedom to Vote Act two weeks ago, a majority vote was not enough to overcome yet another GOP filibuster in the U.S. Senate, requiring 60 votes to even move to debate. So now we seem to be getting to the point where both Manchin and Sinema may need to put up or shut up on reforming the filibuster to allow for passage of these bills to help save democracy itself. In the meantime, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) are vowing to "restore the Senate", whatever that may end up meaning, in order to push election and voting reform through. We'll see if that happens, because...
  • ...As New York Times reports late today, the Democrats' big money donors are getting restless. They are whining that Joe Biden isn't giving them enough attention (good!) and that they are very unhappy about the party's seeming inability to adopt critical voting rights legislation. One major donor has gone so far as to vow to withhold any more money until election reform is passed. The pressure, even from wealthy donors, is welcome and could be helpful. Though what they believe President Biden is actually able to do if two intransigent Democratic Senators refuse to change Senate rules for passage is a separate question. Hopefully these donors also give to Manchin and Sinema and are cutting them off as well while they refuse to stand up and do the right thing for the country.
  • On the other side of the political aisle, it's just nothing but ugly when it comes to democracy. Though some of our stories today may be worth popping some popcorn for. The Smartmatic voting tech company filed two new lawsuits on Wednesday against two "right-wing U.S. television networks," as Reuters properly describes them. One America News (OAN) and Newsmax are being sued for false claims made against the company, including that Smartmatic --- which doesn't have any election business in the U.S. at all other than a recent contract in Los Angeles County --- helped steal the election from Donald Trump in 2020. (And, yes, the fact that Smartmatic was brought into this at all is largely thanks to my series of exclusives from some years ago involving that company and its competitor Dominion Voting Systems, which Trump's dupes have happily misinterpreted and bastardized for their dumb corrupt purposes. You're welcome!) The two complaints are the latest billion dollar lawsuits filed by both Smartmatic and Dominion against the two right-wing networks, Fox "News", as well as Trump friends and attorneys like Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and Pillow Guy Mike Lindell. We wish them all the worst of luck.
  • Even wingnut Erick Erickson has had enough of the "Stop the Steal" falderal --- at least when he's drunk enough to say so after his party won a few elections on Tuesday night. His rant to his fellow Republicans includes stuff like this: "You idiots have spent a year peddling the fiction the 2020 election was stolen because you were so busy humping Trump's leg that you never really even tried to convince persuadable voters to vote. ... either admit the election wasn't stolen or STFU from here on out. ... And if you really have clung to the 2020 was stolen mythology that lets you sleep well at night as a professional victim, please unfriend me and unfollow me because your presence is needed in Neverland and not here in reality."
  • And, back in Arizona, the GOP-controlled Senate appears to be threatening and/or turning on the Cyber Ninjas they hired for their pretend audit of Maricopa County's 2020 election earlier this year. Or, at least, they are play-acting as much for the benefit of a judge as the Senate is facing potential sanctions for failing to turn over public documents related to the phony audit which claims to have found that Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump by an even larger margin than originally certified in the state. But, as it turns out, even those numbers appear to have been "made up out of whole cloth" by the Ninjas, according to experts who looked a bit closer. This could get ugly. At least we hope so.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen's got some seemingly good news for us coming out of the critical U.N. Climate Conference in Glasgow, Scotland in our latest Green News Report, along with results of a number of environment and climate related issues that were on the ballot across the country in Tuesday's off-year elections...

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Guest: John Nichols of The Nation on what went right and wrong; Also: E-Pollbook failures in NJ open door for loser to challenge results...
By Brad Friedman on 11/3/2021 6:24pm PT  

Today on BradCast: No, Tuesday's off-year elections were not nearly as disastrous for Democrats as the national media seems to want to insist. But there were both red flag warnings and important lessons they should absolutely pay attention to, and quickly. There were also wholly avoidable voting system failures which, unfortunately, open the door for some results to be challenged. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, the latest summary on the marquee Gubernatorial races that seemed to encompass the entirety of the national media's coverage on Tuesday and into Wednesday. In Virginia, decades of modern history repeated itself, as the party that didn't win the White House last year appears to have taken control of the Governor's mansion this year. Trump-endorsed businessman and first-time candidate Glenn Youngkin was declared the narrow winner over VA's Democratic former Gov. Terry McCauliffe, after Youngkin dog-whistled his kinder, gentler not-Donald-Trump-at-all act into office.

His campaign leaned heavily on pretend, Fox "News"-generated phony outrage issues like opposition to teaching Critical Race Theory in public schools, even though there are no public schools in VA who actually teach it. But fake issues are much easier for Republicans to run on than the unpopular ones they actually support. So, with that, it appears Republicans may also have narrowly taken back majority control of the Commonwealth's House of Delegates, though those final numbers were still too close to call as of airtime.

In New Jersey, it appears that history will not repeat itself. Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy was declared the unofficial winner by media outlets late during today's show. If officially certified, Murphy will have defeated Republican John Ciaterelli to become the first Democrat to win a second term in the Garden State since the 1970s. But Ciaterelli made clear on Election Night that he plans to challenge the results. Reported electronic pollbook failures across the state on Tuesday (little noticed by most of the media, though we covered the pretty serious issue in some detail on our previous BradCast) may well give him an opening to mount such a challenge --- not that Republican election challengers these days generally need real problems to buttress false claims of fraud when they lose. If Murphy ends up falling behind again, he too could use the failure in his own contest.

We detail what appears to have happened across the state, preventing many voters from being able to vote at the polls for several hours on Tuesday morning, and why we've been warning about issues exactly like this for years when it comes to electronic voting, tabulation and pollbook issues that continue to threaten democracy itself.

But while many Democrats have been beside themselves since the polls closed on Tuesday night, wondering where they went wrong --- at least in those statewide contests --- in truth, if you dig below the national headlines, progressives had a bunch of victories on Tuesday in local races and on ballot initiatives.

We're joined today by one of our favorite post-election guests (following both good and bad nights for Democrats over the years), progressive champion, JOHN NICHOLS, Washington Correspondent for for The Nation, longtime contributor to The Progressive and Associate Editor of Madison, Wisconsin's Capital Times. We try to make sense of where both Dems and national media went both right and wrong during both the election and its aftermath. Why, for example, in both VA and NJ, where Democrats held control and adopted a host of very popular progressive policies in the past several years, did they have such a difficult time turning that record into victories yesterday? We also discuss several progressive wins that flew beneath the radar, and what Dems in D.C. and across the nation should take from what happened on Tuesday.

Finally, we close with a boatload of under-reported progressive wins in Tuesday's elections across the country, including historic mayoral victories from Boston to Pittsburgh to Albuquerque to Cincinnati to Durham, NC and beyond, along with a number of local ballot initiatives that defy the media narrative of the past 24 hours which seems to be arguing that Dems must immediately start acting more like Republicans if they hope to have any chance of victory during next year's critical 2022 mid-terms...

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Vote system failure in NJ; Another GOP gerrymander in OK; Too many Atlantic storms; Major climate deals in Glasgow; Breakthrough deal on drug pricing in Senate; NYC's vax mandate working well so far at NYPD...
By Brad Friedman on 11/2/2021 5:49pm PT  

Millions are voting around the country on Tuesday. Governors, Mayors, school boards and various initiatives are on the ballot (along with a couple of Special U.S. House elections) in a whole bunch of states in this year's off-year elections. Full results, such as we might have them, on tomorrow's BradCast. But for today, as voters vote (or try to), elected officials were making some pretty big and important and long-overdue deals today, from D.C. to Glasgow. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

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

  • The extreme partisan gerrymandering in states controlled by Republicans continues apace, with Oklahoma the latest to propose cracking a major Dem stronghold into three pieces in order to squeeze out another GOP House member for the next decade in the already very "red" state. All of that made much easier in states that, prior to the 2020 Census, had to win approval for new maps from the federal Government under the Voting Rights Act. The GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court majority has helpfully done away with that little annoyance in advance of 2022 and 2024.
  • Thanks to lighter off-year election turnout and measures enacted before and during the pandemic to make early and remote access to the ballot box easier, we're not hearing about too many voting problems today so far...except for in New Jersey, where electronic pollbooks reportedly failed across the state for several hours when polls opened. Unclear if there were backup paper pollbooks available, but as one outlet reported: "When the Internet would go down, the machines would crash."
  • For the second year in a row --- and the third time in history (the first time was in 2005) --- the National Weather Service has once again run through all of the names in the alphabet for named Atlantic storms. With the naming of Subtropical Storm Wanda over the weekend, we are turning to the supplemental name set, which is starting over from "A" this year. Unlike last year, they won't be using letters from the Greek alphabet which seems to have confused a whole bunch of us. But the increasing number of storms is the real worry, despite absurd, years-ago-debunked climate change denialist talking points still coming out from the fossil fuel-sponsored Republicans in Congress.
  • With the critical U.N. Climate Summit (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland now officially underway, President Biden officially apologized to the world for Donald Trump pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Climate agreement, during his four disastrous years as President. (The U.S. was the only country, out of about 200 across the world, to withdraw from the pact.) Now that we're back in, two fairly big agreements were struck in the conference's opening days. One to stop and reverse deforestation and another to cut climate warming methane emissions by 30% by 2030. The first was signed on to by more than 100 countries, including the U.S., UK, China, Russia and Brazil. The second did not yet win the support of China or Russia, but the others, including Brazil, seem to be in. The agreements are pretty big deals, as Desi Doyen explains today --- even if there is much more work that must be done at this two week summit.
  • Speaking of big deals, apparently another big one was struck in the U.S. Senate between Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) and all of the other Democrats to lower prescription drug prices in Biden's Build Back Better bill. The details are still not fully known, but the agreement will allow "lower prescription drug prices for seniors and families," according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. The seemingly interminable negotiations continue on the BBB, but that news from Sinema and some encouraging remarks today from the other Democratic obstructionist, Joe Manchin (WV) are hopeful signs today, as Mitch McConnell makes clear that he is rooting for Sinema and Manchin to gut the (currently) $1.75 trillion social safety net and climate change legislation.
  • After anti-vax alarmists had warned for weeks that as many as 10,000 cops would be lost from the NYPD once Mayor Bill deBlasio's vaccine mandate kicked in on November 1, it turns out the number of uniformed police placed on unpaid leave was much smaller. As of Monday, the number was 34, or 0.15 percent of NYPD employees. Over the past week, NYPD's vaccination rate jump 15 points to 85 percent. As evidence from other states and industries reveals, mandates work.
  • Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report as host UK's Prime Minister Boris Johnson opens COP26 with a dramatic flair; as the U.S. House calls Big Oil on the carpet for decades of climate lies; and as the corrupted U.S. Supreme Court agrees to review a case that could dismantle the EPA's authority to regulate dangerous greenhouse gas emissions...

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FL blocks Univ. of Florida profs from serving as expert witnesses in lawsuits against the state; SCOTUS may be having second thoughts about TX' unconstitutional anti-abortion law; And more chilling stories of democracy dying before our eyes...
By Brad Friedman on 11/1/2021 6:23pm PT  

The through-line for today's BradCast comes courtesy of Meathead. Actor and director Rob Reiner was arguing, via Twitter over the weekend, that "until Donald Trump is prosecuted for leading a deadly Insurrection to overthrow the Government and Voting Rights are passed," we are witnessing the death of Democracy.

He was much more correct than he may have realized. But the stories we cover today --- only half of those we had hoped to get today, and none of which directly covered the two issues Reiner was referring to --- underscore that theme. If it's not immediately obvious, tune into today's show to find out how.

Among the stories covered, discussed, explained, warned about, expounded and ranted upon on today's program (along with listener calls throughout)...

  • Election Day is Tuesday in states across the country. As discussed last week, democracy itself is on the ballot in New York state. But most attention on Tuesday has been going to Virginia, where Trump-endorsed Gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin has now taken a lead in FiveThirtyEight's pre-election polling average over VA's former Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe. We explain why history is on Youngkin's side. Perhaps by Wednesday we'll find out if the voters in Virginia are as well, as democracy is not yet dead (hopefully) in some pockets of the nation.
  • In Florida, a simply remarkable and, yes, chilling story. The University of Florida has barred three professors --- each one an expert in democracy and voting rights (two of whom have appeared on The BradCast multiple times over the years) --- from testifying as expert witnesses for the plaintiffs in a challenge to the state's new voter suppression law passed earlier this year. The measure, signed on Fox "News" by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, surrounded by Trump supporters and with local media locked out entirely, restricts the use of drop-boxes for absentee ballots, while making it more difficult to obtain Vote-by-Mail ballots and harder to register to vote, among other democracy killing provisions. The university (whose Board of Trustees is headed up by a close DeSantis confidante and major GOP donor) claims that testifying against a state law would represent a conflict of interest for UF. That's an idea that is unheard of, frankly, and would prevent experts in their fields from being able to testify on their expertise in states in which they live and work. The same profs were never prevented from doing so in the past and experts on academic freedom describe this novel notion as unprecedented. A lawsuit seeking the review of documents from DeSantis on this matter, to determine his involvement in the University's decision, was filed on Friday.
  • At the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, the new "unprecedented" anti-abortion law in Texas, barring the otherwise Constitutionally protected medical procedure after just six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even known they are pregnant, was heard on SCOTUS' rocket docket just two months after they'd allowed it to take effect in the Lone Star State. The matter in question is whether a case filed by abortion providers in the state and another by the U.S. Department of Justice should be allowed to proceed, despite the virtually unquestioned matter of the new state law, S.B. 8, violating Roe v. Wade. The reason the question even arises is because Texas purposely structured the law in a way that hopes to side-step any and all judicial review of the law. That is done by the statute empowering members of the public with a right to file a civil lawsuit against anyone who, in any way, aids a woman in receiving an abortion after six weeks. Under S.B. 8, plaintiffs may even sue an Uber driver who brought a woman to a clinic, for at least $10,000, and the State argues that because they are not enforcing the law, members of the public are doing so, the law cannot be challenged in either federal or state court.

    But even far-right Republican Justice Brett Kavanaugh (and, of course, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan) was able to put two and two together during today's hearing to realize that if this type of law is allowed to go forward, states could adopt laws that effectively outlawed many other long-settled Constitutional rights, and avoid judicial oversight in the bargain. So, yes, California could adopt a law similar to S.B. 8 that makes owning a gun a civil violation for which anyone in the public could sue a gun owner for, say, a million dollars. Are the Justices on the High Court --- who allowed this law to take effect two months ago, ending almost all abortions for now in TX --- sure they want the nation to go down this path?

  • One of the other several stories we quickly covered of democracy dying today, referenced the newly gerrymandered maps for the four U.S. House seats in Iowa. Last week, after Republicans rejected a new map that would have split the state into two districts that voted for Biden last year and two that voted for Trump, they instead approved a second version of a map in which Trump won all four districts. One expert in redistricting describes the new maps as "a dream Republican map." Yes. That is yet another way in which democracy dies...unless we fight like hell to prevent it from doing so.

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Guest: Heather Digby Parton of Salon and Hullabaloo; Also: Here we go again! Another QAnon GOP election clerk steals another voting system!...
By Brad Friedman on 10/29/2021 6:16pm PT  

Rogue Republicans and rogue Democrats on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, the rogue --- and really dumb --- Republican in Michigan's Adams Township. The Township Clerk there, Stephanie Scott, was elected last November and is certain that the election must have been fraudulent, even though she won and Trump was certified as defeating Joe Biden in the County by 48 points. (That's more than Trump won by in 2016!) Scott was a QAnon loon before the 2020 election and even more so since then. This week, she was removed by the State Elections Bureau from her job and replaced, for now, by the Republican County Clerk in Hillsdale County (home of Adams Township), who discovered on Tuesday that the Township's tabulation computer, the "brains" of the whole system, is now missing in advance of next week's local elections.

Michigan State Police are said to have launched a criminal investigation, and Scott seems to admit to a Michigan news outlet that she stole it, claiming that the vendor, Hart Intercivic, was coming in to perform routine maintenance that was actually a secret scheme to delete all of the evidence of fraud on behalf Joe Biden in the 2020 election. Or something. The Township votes on hand-marked paper ballots. So if the new Clerk had any actual concerns about whether the computer accurately tabulated results last year, she might have tried hand-counting those paper ballots to find out. The population of the entire Township is only about 2,500 people. But apparently Scott is not particularly bright, despite all of her QAnon "research".

We unpack the entire insane incident, which echoes one from a few months back, where the Republican County Clerk in Mesa County, Colorado also had to be replaced by the Sec. of State after she brought two people with her into the secure area where voting systems are stored in the middle of the night, turned off the security cameras, made full, unlawful copies of the hard drives of the Dominion Voting System's Election Management software and then released it to the Internet during MyPillow CEO and failed conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell's so-called "cyber symposium" in South Dakota. The unlawful release wreaked havoc and a call for "emergency action" before California 's Gubernatorial Recall election just weeks later. The Mesa County Clerk is also facing a criminal investigation because, ya know, they're all "law and order conservatives" who think it's just fine to steal voting systems and software when they feel like it.

Of course, there are very real concerns about vulnerabilities in such voting systems, though zero known evidence to date that any of them were used to steal any election last year. But these lamebrains don't seem to have a clue what the vulnerabilities actually are or what to legally do about them, even though many of us real Election Integrity advocates have been showing them how to do exactly that for nearly 20 years.

As to the Democratic rogues in our stories today, we're joined again by the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hulaballoo to talk about Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) and if their real game is actually to undermine the entire Biden agenda by weakening, stalling and then ultimately just killing the Build Back Better bill.

The pair have already succeeded in gutting a number of the most popular key provisions of the bill favored by progressive and centrist Dems alike, and even by Republican voters (if not members of Congress). Though there are a boatload of critical, long-overdue and progressive programs still left in what the White House described as the bill's new "framework" [PDF] on Thursday. But do Manchin and Sinema intend to let even that much go through to full passage? Or are they playing a different game entirely? We discuss it all with Digby today.

We also discuss the painfully disinformed, so-called "progressives" out in the Twittersphere and beyond who are actually either gullible enough or disinformed enough to believe that Biden and Pelosi and Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal --- not to mentioned Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez(!) --- have all been coopted by "corporatists" (or something) to undermine Biden's own agenda and the bill that the entire Democratic caucus, save for Manchin and Sinema, would have approved months ago when it was twice the size in dollars.

The corporate media also come in for criticism again today, for their failure to accurately inform the American people of the wildly popular provisions that were and still are in the still-transformative Biden agenda (even as Democrats themselves share some of that blame). Instead, the media have turned the negotiations over Build Back Better into a misleading game of (paid for) spending numbers and a "showdown" between "progressives" and "centrists". In fact, it's always been a no-choice effort by Congressional and White House Dems to win the must-have votes of Manchin and Sinema --- ("The Diva Twins" as Parton calls them) --- who have opposed many of the bill's most popular programs in a 50/50 Senate.

Lots to discuss here with Parton today, as usual. Please tune in!...

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Biden claims 'historic deal' on Build Back Better agenda, details framework 'agreement' for critical social safety net and climate package; U.S. House Comm. calls Big Oil CEOs on carpet for decades of lies...
By Brad Friedman on 10/28/2021 5:15pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We appear (maybe, probably, hopefully?) one step closer to the end of the endless sausage making process in Congress to get Joe Biden's still-huge, still-transformative (at least for now) agenda through to final passage. At the same time, Big Oil was called on the carpet by Congressional Democrats in the Oversight Committee for their years of lies and deadly deceptions on climate change. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

I've seen a number of predictable, knee-jerk complaints today from some sectors of the Progressive Twittersphere that seem short-sighted, self-defeating and, frankly, both misinformed and stupid. The maddening problem for Democrats in getting Biden's agenda through Congress is not "Democrats". It's Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema! Not to mention every single member of the Republican caucus in both chambers! Everyone else in the Democratic caucus --- in the House and Senate and White House --- was good to go weeks ago with the Build Back Better (BBB) bill when it still clocked in at $3.5 trillion.

Thanks to Manchin and Sinema, however, the measure, according to a new framework "agreement" [PDF] released by the White House today, now clocks in at about $1.75 trillion in spending and is fully paid for with increased taxes on the wealthy and other measures.

Much of the news on this front from the last several weeks has been devoted almost solely to what Manchin and Sinema have forced to be cut from the bill. That, as the two corrupt Democrats push for final passage of the smaller bipartisan infrastructure bill (BIF) that progressive Democrats have smartly refused to pass in the House, using it for leverage to ensure Manchinema don't get their (not-paid-for, deficit-increasing) infrastructure bill and then bail on the larger reconciliation spending package. That critical package still includes climate change action and broad expansion of the social safety net, from health care to education to elder care to child tax credits and much more.

With a continuous drumbeat of what Manchin and Sinema have succeeded in killing from the bill, the American people may have lost sight of a whole bunch of really excellent, very progressive stuff that is actually still in it. Today, after claiming an "agreement among Democrats" on a framework for the Build Back Better Act, (we'll see if there really is such an agreement), President Biden offered remarks at the White House to remind everyone of what is very much still in his critical and transformative legislation. We share his remarks in full today.

Whether the "deal" really represents an "agreement", and whether everything currently in the framework remains in the final BBB, and whether Manchin and Sinema agree to vote for it, and whether enough of the rest of the Democratic caucus will still support it after all is said and done, remains to be seen. But it's long past time to wrap it up and get both the BIF and the BBB working for the American people. As Biden said today: "Let's get this done."

Meanwhile, in the House Oversight Committee on Thursday, the CEOs of six Big Oil companies and their major lobbying groups were called on the carpet for their decades of deadly lies about global warming and their hundreds of millions of dollars spent deceiving the American people about it. Desi Doyen joins us for coverage of the key takeaways and testimony from the Big Oil liars and their GOP apologists and facilitators in the House.

Finally, it's our latest Green News Report in advance of next week's major U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, known as COP (Conference of Parties) 26, where Biden and a bevy of top Administration officials headed today after his speech. It's being touted as the most important such summit since the Paris Climate Accord was hammered out in 2015, with the U.N. warning that current commitments from the nations of the world to curb greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change are still not enough to avoid the worst impacts of our growing climate crisis. But, as usual, Desi also offers some encouraging news on that front as well...

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Guests: Dr. Virginia Martin, former Columbia County, NY Election Commissioner and Allegra Dengler of Citizens for Voting Integrity NY; Also: Taxing U.S. billionaire pandemic profiteers...
By Brad Friedman on 10/27/2021 6:13pm PT  

It's Election Day in America once again next Tuesday, whether you've noticed or not. In New York, democracy itself is on the ballot, even as longtime election and democracy champions (real ones, not the phony, post-2020 MAGA Mob fakers) differ on how to vote next week on three different democracy- and elections-related Constitutional amendments. On today's BradCast, we discuss all three proposed measures which will have far-reaching consequences for voters both in New York and across the nation. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But, very quickly at the top of today's show...As Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) continue to obstruct and, actually, shred the bulk of the far-reaching, long-overdue progressive social safety net and climate change agenda of Joe Biden and pretty much the entirety of the Democratic Congressional caucus, we offer a friendly reminder.

Dems insist on making their Build Back Better package fully paid for (unlike the deficit spending in the separate bipartisan roads and bridges infrastructure deal supported by Manchin, Sinema and a bunch of Republicans). But Sinema has nixed her own party's plan for a tiny tax increase on corporations and the wealthy, even though, in 2017, she voted against the $2 trillion Trump/GOP tax cuts for those same people.  One alternate "pay-for" mechanism now being proposed by Dems is a wealth tax on those worth more than a billion dollars or who made $100 million for three consecutive years in a row. On Wednesday, however, Manchin was suggesting such a tax might be too divisive for his tastes, by "targeting" certain people.

So, here's the reminder, courtesy of Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies Program on Inequality: There were 614 U.S. billionaires before the pandemic and 745 of them now. Billionaires have seen their wealth grow 70%(!) since the start of the pandemic, to more than $5 trillion. The money they made during the pandemic alone --- from March of 2020 through last month --- would fully cover the cost of Biden's entire 10-year spending plan in the Build Back Better Act, to offer a transformative expansion of healthcare, education, child care and take on climate change for every person in the nation, more than 330 million of us. Meanwhile, a White House analysis last month found that the wealthiest 400 families in the country paid an average federal income tax of 8.2%. (How much did you pay last year?)

Anyway, that's just a reminder as this madness continues. We'll likely discuss all of that more in the days ahead.

Meanwhile, voters --- at least some of them --- are heading to the polls for off-year elections on Tuesday. The neck-and-neck race for Governor in Virginia is receiving much of the attention, but we have our eyes elsewhere today --- on the great state of New York, one of the nation's, theoretically, most "liberal" states which has some of its most restrictive voting policies.

There are several important state constitutional measures on the ballot this year, with three of them having a direct effect on elections in the Empire State and even democracy across the nation.

  • Prop 1 would make it easier for the majority party in Albany (currently Democrats) to approve new legislative and Congressional maps for redistricting following the 2020 Census. That, as Republicans pretend to be furious about the notion that it might allow partisan gerrymandering in the state (which we no longer oppose, for reasons explained again today --- at least until federal legislation bars it in all 50 states.)
  • NY's Prop 3 would abolish the 10-day Constitutional deadline for voter registration before elections, paving the way for eventual election-day registration at the polls.
  • And Prop 4 will remove restrictions on absentee voting in the state, where voters are currently required to attest to being out of town on Election Day or being too ill to go to the polls in order to vote by mail. The hope for proponents is that this will allow for no-excuse absentee voting in the future, as currently available in the majority of states.

While I suspect many believe that folks on the left side of the political aisle might favor all three propositions, that's not actually true, as discussed today with two of New York's longtime champions of election integrity. We walk through all three propositions with them to explain what each may or may not mean for voters and election integrity.

We're joined by DR. VIRGINA MARTIN, who served for 11 years, until 2020, as the Democratic Election Commissioner of the Columbia County, NY Board of Elections and ALLEGRA DENGLER, a longtime election security advocate with Citizens for Voting Integrity NY.

You may be shocked to learn that all three of us do not actually agree on how voters should vote on each of these measures. They each offer their own well-informed and nuanced opinions on the issues at stake in each ballot proposition. We hope this is helpful not only for NY voters, but for others around the nation, where similar issues are being addressed and debated at both the state and local levels, not to mention in proposed federal legislation.

Given Martin's decade-long personal experience as an election official, we also take a few minutes to discuss her thoughts on the ongoing nationwide assault and threats against election officials and poll workers in the wake of sore loser Donald Trump's evidence-free false claims of fraud in the 2020 Presidential election and the very real concerns (as opposed to the MAGA Mob's) when it comes to computerized voting and tabulation systems. Martin made a name for herself amongst election integrity advocates when, in 2010, she joined with her Republican counterpart on Columbia County's Board of Elections to carry out full, transparent hand-counts of hand-marked paper ballots in the county. That, after --- and despite of --- the state's mandate for optical-scan computerized tabulation systems in all of New York's 57 counties...

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House holds Bannon in contempt; TX Lt. Gov. pays out for GOP voter fraud; CA GOP's recall boondoggle; Vets dump Sinema; Manchin could dump Dems; TX steals minority House seats; IL boosts Dems (a little)...
By Brad Friedman on 10/21/2021 6:06pm PT  

We covered a whole bunch of stories on today's BradCast. You'll have to tune in to find out what I have to say about most of them. Suffice to say there was a lot of both good news and bad. Often at the same time. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

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

  • The full U.S. House voted to recommend criminal contempt charges to the DoJ for Steve Bannon's refusal to answer his subpoena for documents and testimony from the House Select Committee investigating Trump's January 6th insurrection.
  • California certifies the results from last month's GOP Gubernatorial recall election, with the state's Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom winning by the exact same percentages --- to the decimal --- that he won his first term back in 2018. Money well spent, Repubs! And thanks for wasting $300 million taxpayer dollars.
  • Five veteran advisors to Arizona's Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema have had enough. They quit her advisory board for service members with a blistering letter citing her obstruction of democracy and the Biden agenda. The progressive veterans group Common Defense has now turned the letter into a TV ad with a seven figure buy to condemn the obstructionist Dem.
  • MoJo's David Corn reports that West Virginia's obstructionist Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has a plan to quit the Democratic Party altogether. Manchin disputes the report. Corn stands by it. Either way, it should serve as a reminder of how fraught things are in the Senate right now, how narrow the Democratic majority is, and how the Senate could see Mitch McConnell and the GOP back in control, literally, at any moment. That, of course, would immediately end any hope of passing any part of the Biden, Democratic and/or progressive agenda. Perhaps there's good reason that President Biden isn't calling out Manchin by name for failing to reform the filibuster as many progressive voting rights activists have been demanding?
  • The GOP's ongoing assault on American democracy continues apace, as they plan to gerrymander their way into the House majority in 2022, and then use that control --- along with new election subversion laws in states they control --- to try and steal the 2024 Presidential election in a way they weren't prepared to do in 2020. All of which should serve as a reminder to every democracy loving American that it's time to step up --- even if it means reconsidering long-held, rock-solid beliefs. For example, that extreme partisan gerrymandering is wrong. It is. But is it wrong if it's needed to actually save American democracy? In Texas, new Republican-adopted Congressional (and state legislative) maps steal seats from minorities, despite the fact that the state's population growth --- and two new U.S. House seats to go with it --- is due almost entirely to minorities. Happily, states like Illinois are not taking the matter (entirely, anyway) lying down.

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Guest: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern; Also: 'Contempt' for Bannon; Manchin, Sanders in talks; GOP Senate blocks voting rights again...
By Brad Friedman on 10/20/2021 6:51pm PT  

On today's BradCast: President Biden has, thankfully, edged toward the left on a number of things during his candidacy and Presidency to date. Reforming the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court, however, at least for now, does not appear to be one of those things. At least if the findings of his blue ribbon Commission of academics studying potential reforms is any indication.

But first up today, several quick updates on a number of stories we've been covering of late...

  • On Tuesday night, shortly after we got off air, the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Trump-incited January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol voted unanimously to hold Steve Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to answer their subpoena for documents and testimony. A vote on the resolution by the full House is scheduled for Thursday and, if adopted (as expected), a referral for criminal prosecution will be sent to the DoJ. Bannon could face as much as a year in prison. But it was remarks by Committee member Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) before Tuesday's vote that jumped out: "Mr. Bannon's and Mr. Trump's privilege arguments do appear to reveal one thing. They suggest that President Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of January 6, and this Committee will get to the bottom of that." If I was Trump, I'd take Cheney at her word. Bannon's future could also be Trump's.
  • There was additional encouraging news from Congress on Tuesday night, as outlets are reporting that obstructionist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) are now in direct talks on Biden's Build Back Better Act and that they hope to reach a deal on a path forward for the once-and-hopefully-still transformative social safety net and climate change bill by week's end. Manchin, as we discussed on yesterday's show, has apparently already gutted the legislation's central climate change provision, and is sure to force the removal of many other wildly popular provisions before all is said and done. But negotiation, in theory, means progress. And progress moving toward passage of the Biden agenda is better than the stalemate of recent weeks. One Senator quoted by The Hill describes the news as a "breakthrough". We'll see.
  • And, in one other Congressional story today with the tiniest ray of sunshine attached to it, Republican Senators on Wednesday once again filibustered to prevent passage of the Manchin-approved Freedom to Vote Act, a transformative elections and voting rights bill that is desperately needed to counteract the anti-democracy and voter suppression laws being adopted by state Republicans around the nation in advance of 2022 and 2024. It's the third time Republicans have blocked Democrats' attempt to move to debate on their voting rights bill. The ray of sunshine here is that Sen. Angus King (I-ME), one of the other holdouts against the filibuster reform that is needed to pass the Act with a simple majority, now says he has "concluded that democracy itself is more important than any Senate rule." Let's see if Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) get the message any time soon enough to reform the filibuster to pass legislation in hopes of actually saving democracy from the rising Authoritarian Front (GOP).

Then, we're joined by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, Slate's ace legal reporter and U.S. Supreme Court expert, to discuss the draft report issued late last week by President Biden's blue ribbon panel of academics --- with remarkably little coverage by the corporate media --- on potential reforms for SCOTUS following its years-long bastardization and theft by the Republican Party.

The bipartisan Commission, created by the President in April with a mandate to study potential reforms for six months before issuing a report but not to offer formal recommendations, for some reason). They were tasked with studying the pros and cons of possible changes such as expanding the number of seats on the high court and/or the creation of term limits for Justices. The panel was comprised of 36 academics and Courts experts who, according to Stern, included "a lot of conservatives" with a number of "so-called liberals" who were "mostly moderates and institutional liberals who have a vested interest in a Supreme Court that looks favorably upon them. If you survey it all together, you see what is basically a faculty meeting of moderates and conservatives, with a few token liberals, none of whom were happy with this draft report. None of which is a recipe for any kind of real, meaningful reform."

"Notably," Stern observes, "not a single person added to the Commission had ever endorsed serious Court reform in the past, [while] there were many people who had said that they opposed Court expansion. So in some ways, this Commission was maybe rigged from the start."

While the deck was stacked against Court expansion, the idea of term limits didn't fair all that much better, according to Stern, who cites an obsession by the panel's members with what other nations might learn from a partisan restructuring of the U.S. Supreme Court. That said, as Stern notes, "we are the only country in the world that gives lifetime tenure to our judges and justices. It is obviously a huge mistake. But the committee comes from the perspective that it is basically a great idea and anyone who criticizes it bears a heavy, heavy burden of proving that it would make things better."

He charges that the panel appeared to be essentially "governing out of fear" and that its draft report "projects the worst possible outcome and says, 'We think this is what's going to happen so we shouldn't even risk it.'"

While the Commission's draft argues that America must be mindful that we are "a leader to the rest of the world," Stern notes, "this report does not even begin to grapple with the fact that no other country, except arguably India, gives its high court nearly as much power as we do. No European nation gives its high court the unfettered ability to veto all legislation. No other nation - not Israel, not Chile or Argentina, not Mexico, not Canada --- none of them allow the court to simply smack down any kind of legislative action that it deems to be violative of the Constitution. That's not how judicial review works anywhere else."

"If these scholars took a look around," he argues, "they would realize that other countries have decided our system doesn't work too well, that they want to do something different. I think there's a lot of merit to that, and I find it very disappointing that they don't even grapple with that."

Of course, he has many more observations, including on what appears to be a "one-way ratchet" where the panel cites public opinion polls as a reason to oppose Court expansion, while ignoring the "overwhelming" public polling from across the entire political spectrum favoring term limits and opposing lifetime appointments for U.S. judges and justices. "Giving anyone that much power for so long is just objectively crazy." The draft report also includes a number of flat-out lies and tries to "lay equal blame at the feet of both parties" for the crisis of public confidence, unprecedented in modern times, now befalling SCOTUS. Stern hopes that some of the Commission's liberals, such as the NAACP's Sherilyn Ifill, may correct the record before their final report is issued and used by Republicans for eternity to claim that "Even Joe Biden's court commission opposes term limits!"

Finally, in our closing few minutes, Stern explains the pathetic roller coaster legal rulings that have allowed Texas' new anti-abortion law, S.B.8, to stay in place for now, despite its clear violation of decades of 'Roe v. Wade's legal precedent, and the terrifying ease with which the GOP's stolen and packed Supreme Court is preparing to overturn that and other long-settled precedents.

"You should be terrified," he warns. "We should all be terrified. And we should all be aware that if we choose not to expand the Court, that we are going to have to live with this current conservative super-majority for years, if not decades."

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Also: How the unvaxxed helped kill fully-vaxxed Colin Powell; And how Manchin is killing Biden's landmark plan to take on the climate crisis...
By Brad Friedman on 10/18/2021 6:20pm PT  

Most of the callers to today's BradCast were in favor of it, though a few were opposed and explained why. But, since many of our callers come from Dem-leaning Southern California, we stacked the deck a bit against our own "yes" position when it came to the callers we brought on the air in our limited time. Seemed only fair. [Audio link to full show is posted at the end of this summary.]

First up, however, a few quick thoughts on today's death of 84-year old, fully-vaccinated Republican former Secretary of State and Chair of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell. Though he (sort of) apologized for it and tried to make good in other ways, it's still difficult for me to shake his infamous presentation of lies at the U.N., falsely claiming that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. That presentation, which he later described as a "blot" on his career, arguably sealed the deal in favor of the U.S. going to war in Iraq. But our focus today is on those who are dishonestly using his COVID-related death to claim vaccines don't work. That is a lie that conveniently avoids the fact that Powell was battling multiple myeloma (a form of blood cancer) which greatly reduces the strength of ones immune system and is known to make vaccines less effective. It was, in fact, those who failed to get inoculated from COVID who helped kill Powell. We explain the facts and the math.

Next, before opening the phones to today's main topic, a few words on the news that broke late on Friday, reporting that the White House is now rewriting their sweeping Build Back Better budget reconciliation bill to not include the critical, landmark Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP) that was designed to provide financial incentives to utility companies to quickly transition from dirty fossil fuel use to clean, renewable energy. It also levied financial penalties on those power companies who failed to do so. The program was at the heart of the Biden Administration's climate plan and its vow to reduce dangerous greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity sector 80% by 2030, to reach net-zero in that sector by 2035, and to reach net-zero emissions economy-wide by 2050. If Friday's reports are accurate, the rewrite is a major blow to those plans and comes at the insistence of Coal Country West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, whose family has made a fortune on fossil fuels in the state. He also receives huge campaign funding from the fossil fuel industry. We discuss this troubling news with Desi Doyen and hope to have more on tomorrow's BradCast.

Then, we pick up the debate we left off at from last Friday's show with gerrymandering expert David Daley of FairVote.org. Daley literally wrote the book on the GOP's extreme partisan gerrymandering scheme after the 2010 Census and warns that it's about to get much worse as Republican state redistricting gets underway following the 2020 Census, particularly in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court gutting the Voting Rights Act to allow even more extreme partisan gerrymanders in even more states.

Despite the fact that, as Daley warned on the show last week, Republican state gerrymanders, on their own, will cost Dems control of the House even if America votes as it did in 2020 (when Dem House members received almost 5 million more votes than Republicans), he made the argument against Democratic states instituting similar extreme partisan gerrymanders in response.

As I explained on Friday, after many months of torturous consideration, I now favor Dem state gerrymanders to counter the Republicans in hopes of saving democracy itself in the bargain. It's an argument I hate making as a longtime election integrity and democracy champion, but I explain again today why the rising, anti-democracy Authoritarian Front (GOP) has changed my thinking as of now --- at least in lieu of passage of the Freedom to Vote Act by Congress, which would ban partisan gerrymandering in all 50 states.

Before we open the phones to listeners to hear their opinions on this contentious matter, we share Daley's argument explaining why he opposes Dem gerrymanders, along with my own, as I now advise against unilateral disarmament by the Democratic Party. All of which, of course, is only necessary right now, thanks to good ol' Joe Manchin's opposition to reforming the filibuster in order to pass the Freedom to Vote Act, a sweeping and long overdue election reform and voting rights measure --- actually designed by Manchin himself --- which would, among many other things, ban partisan gerrymanders all together.

As noted, while the majority of our callers were in favor of my position here, we tried to put a bit of a thumb on the scale for those who opposed it, so we could hear out "both sides" as best as possible on today's program. And, yes, we will continue this discussion in the days and week's ahead, as the redistricting fights get underway in earnest, and while the GOP has left survival of American democracy itself hanging by a thread...

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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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