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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, January 29, 2023
Sunday 'Bullet Points' Toons
PDiddie takes aim at the problem in this week's collection of targeted toons...
NJ 2022 Computer Mistally Means Loser Actually Won: 'BradCast' 1/26/2023
Also: 'Doomsday Clock' ticked forward; Opposing war and supporting Ukraine; And, 'Russia, please!'...
'Green News Report' 1/26/23
  w/ Brad & Desi
Spate of new studies find climate impacts escalating; Logging banned (again) in Alaskan rainforest; PLUS: 'Doomsday Clock' moved closer than ever to 'midnight'...
Recent GNRs: 1/24/23 - 1/19/23 - Archives...
Republican Dark Money Group's Multi-Million Dollar 'Grassroots' Vote Suppression Scheme: 'BradCast' 1/25/23
Guest: Brendan Fischer of Documented; Also: My ridiculous, couldn't-be-true Santos theory...
'Decisions are Imminent' in Trump Probe, Says Willis in GA: 'BradCast' 1/24/23
Also: Mass shooting spate; Pence found classified docs at home, returned them; Media still failing on Trump document theft story...
'Green News Report' 1/24/23
  w/ Brad & Desi
CA storm damage tops $1B; Offshore wind doesn't kill whales; Disasters displaced 3.3M in U.S. last year; PLUS: Hand-feeding manatees in FL appears to be saving them...
Recent GNRs: 1/19/23 - 1/17/23 - Archives...
Listeners Ring in on Just About Everything. (Everywhere. All at Once.): 'BradCast' 1/23/23
From the debit limit to Biden/Trump docs to mass shootings to Ukraine and much more...
Million Dollar Sanctions Ruling Underscores Trump's Seemingly Never-Ending Litigation Grift
Ernest A. Canning on why nothing less than a criminal prosecution will end it. (Maybe.)
Sunday 'Selective Focus' Toons
Keeping priorities straight in PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons...
GOP Targets Ballot Initiatives After 2022 Progressive Wins: 'BradCast' 1/20/23
Guest: Chris Melody Fields Figueredo of Ballot Initiative Strategy Center; Also: Judge orders Trump to pay Hillary, others nearly $1M...
OH's Completely Moderate, Not-Corrupt-At-All Republican Governor: 'BradCast' 1/19/23
Dark money fossil fuel bribery and disen-franchising military voters in the Buckeye State; Also: GOP's dangerous limit debt game...
'Green News Report' 1/19/23
  w/ Brad & Desi
EU's plan to compete with U.S. on renewables; Banks spend billions on fossil fuel despite net zero pledges; PLUS: Dark money led Ohio Repubs to redefine NatGas as 'green energy'...
Recent GNRs: 1/17/23 - 1/12/23 - Archives...
GOP's 'One-Two Punch to Shut Down' House Ethics Watchdog: 'BradCast' 1/18/23
Guest: Public Citizen's Craig Holman; Also: VA Guv kills new EV battery plant, 2,500 new jobs; Kobach fined by FEC as he becomes KS A.G...
GOP Election Denialist Candidate Arrested in NM Shooting Spree: 'BradCast' 1/17/23
What did you THINK would happen?; Also: House GOP to crash economy over debt limit...
'Green News Report' 1/17/23
As CA recovers from epic storms, water wars in U.S. West just beginning; Massive boost to U.S. solar thanks to new Biden/Dem law; PLUS: 1970s Exxon scientists nailed it...
Sunday 'Documenting the Atrocities' Toons
PDiddie curates another first draft of history in his latest weekly toon collection...
Republican Federal Courts Take Aim at VRA Section 2: 'BradCast' 1/14/23
Guest: ACLU attorney Jonathan Topaz; Also: IA, NY GOPers charged with mass vote fraud; OH Guv signs bill restricting voting rights...
Transparency and Public Oversight to the Rescue: 'BradCast' 1/12/23
Hand-count of 2020 Prez race in PA county confirms tally; Also: Garland taps Special Counsel in Biden docs case; Trump still obstructing justice in stolen docs case...
'Green News Report' 1/12/23
Extreme weather damage cost $1T in U.S. over past 7 years; Last 8 years hottest ever recorded; PLUS: Kitchen stove warning results in latest dumb Fox 'News' freak out...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: Campaign finance expert Brendan Fischer of Documented; Also: My ridiculous, couldn't-possibly-be-true George Santos theory...
By Brad Friedman on 1/25/2023 6:22pm PT  

On today's BradCast we focus on two different rightwing scammers: The Heritage Foundation and George Santos. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

The Heritage Foundation's decades-long effort to suppress the vote received a multi-million dollar boost following the 2020 election. Also, there is some new news today on what appears to be a fairly huge campaign finance violation by newly-elected Republican pathological liar, Rep. George Santos. But is it possible that Santos' scam is larger than anybody seems to yet appreciate?

We're joined today to discuss both scammers by BRENDAN FISCHER, one of the nation's foremost campaign finance experts who now serves as Deputy Executive Director for Documented, an investigative watchdog and journalism organization.

For some time, Fischer's group has been digging into and exposing the multi-state, multi-million dollar campaign by the rightwing Heritage Foundation's political action offshoot, Heritage Action. The "dark money" group has been pushing new voter suppression bills through swing-state legislatures with copy and paste "model legislation" in the wake of false claims of fraud in the 2020 Presidential election. Their work is often disguised --- as Executive Director Jessica Anderson was caught boasting to donors about in a 2021 video tape --- to have that "grassroots, ya know, from the bottom-up type of vibe."

Documented recently unearthed Heritage's four-page "Election Integrity Plan" [PDF] from 2021. It details the effort to push restrictions on voting through state legislatures after "in some cases, we actually draft" the bills for them, as Anderson, a former Trump official, is seen bragging to donors on that tape.

"Iowa's the first state that we got to work in," she explains, "and we did it quickly and we did it quietly. Honestly? Nobody noticed!" Anderson also cites "eight key provisions" the group supposedly was able to get into Georgia's controversial 2021 voter suppression measure, SB202, which was quickly signed into law --- supposedly at Heritage's urging --- by Gov. Brian Kemp.

IA and GA were two of "19 states [that] passed 34 laws restricting access to voting" in 2021, according to the Brennan Center for Justice that year, more than in any year since they began tracking such legislation in 2011.

Earlier this month, in addition to obtaining and publishing Heritage Action's "Election Integrity Plan", Fischer joined with Ed Pilkington at The Guardian to detail the organization's previously-unreported tax filings from 2021 [PDF], detailing more than $5 million in outside lobbying services in at least 24 states. That, after spending $0 on outside lobbying the previous year. The anti-democracy "dark money" outfit also spent more than $6 million on contractors for "marketing and advertising" in 2021, a substantial increase from the year before. The expenditures including more than a million dollars spent in support of GA's bill alone. In all, as Fischer and Pilkington report, Heritage's "Election Integrity Plan" earmarked at least $24 million to push these measures in at least eight swing-states over the past two years.

In addition to efforts to adopt restrictions on voting in the states, Heritage also worked to block legislation that would protect voting rights at the federal level. "The millions of dollars that Heritage Action spent in 2021 included substantial expenditures to pressure [Senators Joe] Manchin and [Kyrsten] Sinema in order to not reform the filibuster and thwart democracy reform legislation," Fischer tells me today.

"In West Virginia, in particular, they also did it with drummed-up fake grassroots activity," he explains. "Heritage Action and other groups organized buses to bus activists from out of state to West Virginia for a rally that was intended to 'save the filibuster' and protest Manchin's potential openness to changing the filibuster rules." It worked. Manchin and Sinema refused to reform the Senate's anti-democratic filibuster rule to pass the landmark Freedom to Vote Act in 2021. That measure would have been the most comprehensive voting rights and campaign finance reform measure since the 1960s. And, yes, as Fischer notes, the bill would have also "ended dark money!"

We've got a lot more to discuss along those lines with Fischer today. But, as long as he was here, there was an unrelated matter I wanted to get his thoughts on.

On Tuesday night, newly elected Republican Congressman and unrepentant liar George Santos amended several of his campaign finance disclosure documents. Santos had previously claimed in FEC disclosures that he had loaned his own campaign some $700,000. That was already suspicious, given that two years earlier, Santos claimed to have been making about $50,000/year. But, as The Daily Beast's Roger Sollenberger noticed on Tuesday, his amended forms now claim the funds did not come from him personally --- though they don't explain where the money actually did come from. Any campaign donation that large from someone other than the candidate would be an unlawful contribution.

While the Santos campaign seems to be admitting to what Josh Marshall characterizes as "major crimes" in their new filings, I have a different, completely ridiculous, couldn't-possible-be-true theory to ask Fischer about today: Is it possible that nobody actually gave $700,000 to Santos' campaign? That it was a paper claim only? There was no such loans at all?

Of course, that seems absurd, but this is George Santos we're talking about. More to the point, it should be noted that last year Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) successfully won a case at the corrupt U.S. Supreme Court which held that personal loans made to campaigns by candidates could actually be paid back after the election, in unlimited amounts, by anyone else. Lobbyists, etc. Is it even possible that Santos could have claimed to have made those personal loans to his campaign but that no money was actually ever given to his campaign at all? Allowing him to be "repaid" later by others after the election? It would certainly be a swell way for a wayward conman like Santos to make a cool $700,000, no?

I pose the question about this to Fischer with the full expectation that I'll be told there's no way something like that could have happened without it being discovered by officials long ago. Tune in to hear his response...

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Guest: ACLU attorney Jonathan Topaz; Also: IA, NY GOPers charged with mass vote fraud; OH Guv signs bill restricting voting rights...
By Brad Friedman on 1/13/2023 6:17pm PT  

What a way to "celebrate" Martin Luther King Day this year on The BradCast. Fifty-eight years since the passage of the Voting Rights Act and 10 years since the rightwingers on the U.S. Supreme Court gutted one of its central provisions, our even farther rightwing courts now appear to be gunning for much of the rest of the landmark civil rights voting law. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up today, while GOP-appointed federal judges are finding new ways to allow racial discrimination at the voting booth, Republicans --- including a top election official in upstate New York, and the wife of a U.S. House candidate in Iowa --- are nabbed by the Justice Department for committing mass vote fraud with absentee ballots.

The DoJ announcements in those cases come after a year in which Republicans filed a record number of anti-voting lawsuits --- in hopes of preventing (certain) voters from voting and/or having their votes counted as cast --- under the pretend guise of fighting fraud. They also come just days after Ohio's supposedly "moderate" GOP Governor signed new legislation to make it more difficult for (certain) voters to vote at all in upcoming elections.

Voting rights advocates in the Buckeye State charge the new measure will create barriers to the ballot for the elderly, rural voters and members of the military. But if it makes it more difficult for minority voters to vote, it may soon be impossible for groups like the League of Women Voters or the NAACP or the ACLU to file lawsuits charging violations of anti-discrimination laws under the Voting Rights Act.

When SCOTUS gutted Section 5 of the VRA in 2013 --- the part that required new election laws in jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination at the polling place to be precleared by federal authorities before they could go into effect --- the rightwing majority on the High Court claimed the provision was antiquated and no longer necessary. Besides, even though thousands of discriminatory laws had been blocked by Section 5 since 1965, there was always Section 2, which blocks racially discriminatory voting laws in all 50 states.

After all, as an ACLU attorney was forced to point out during a federal appeals court hearing this week: “For over 40 years, dozens of federal courts have heard hundreds of Section 2 claims brought by federal plaintiffs.”

Unfortunately, that lawyer was defending the use of Section 2 before a three-judge panel, where she had to add that, “In that time, not one court denied the plaintiffs their day in court because of a lack of private action.”

The hearing in question came this week after a lower, federal district Court judge in Arkansas tossed out a challenge to a new state House district map implemented by state Republicans. The map includes 11 black majority districts, when the population of the state suggests there should be 16 such districts.

But Judge Lee Rudofsky, a Donald Trump appointee, dismissed the challenge to the new map, declaring that Section 2 of the VRA does not allow private individuals and groups, like the ACLU or NAACP, to file suit against such laws. Only the U.S. Attorney General may do so, he held.

As our guest explains today, Rudofsky's court "the first court in the history of the country to find that there is no private right of action" in Section 2. For a host of reasons, it's an absurd argument. And yet, this week at the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, according to CNN, two of the three judges on the appeals panel (all of them are Republican appointees) appeared open to the idea that there is no right to private action under Section 2, because the federal statute doesn't specifically say as much. Never mind that private parties have been suing for decades under Section 2, including at the U.S. Supreme Court, where the Justices never said a word against it.

We're joined to explain this newly-attempted GOP voter suppression nightmare by JONATHAN TOPAZ, the ACLU Voting Rights Project staff attorney who served as the trial attorney on the initial case that was tossed by Judge Rudofsky last year.

"I think it's hard for most people to fathom that this is a question that needs to be litigated in 2023," Topaz tells me. "There have been hundreds of cases over the course of Section 2's history litigated by private plaintiffs, and many of those cases --- at least 10 at the Supreme Court, and at least 18 in the 8th Circuit where we were arguing earlier this week --- were brought by private plaintiffs."

"Congress had opportunities --- in 1982 when they amended the Voting Rights Act, as recently as 2006 when they reauthorized the Voting Rights Act --- to correct any mistakes it saw out there as private plaintiffs brought cases across the country, which would have been purportedly in open defiance of what Congress had intended, and Congress never saw fit to correct anyone," he explains.

Topaz goes on to cite a case as recently as 1996 when "five justices of the Supreme Court --- so, a majority --- held that there was a private right of action under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act." Of course, our newly corrupted, stolen, and extremist rightwing majority on the High Court has had no trouble of late reversing its own precedents whenever they feel like it. So this case, which will almost certainly end up at SCOTUS no matter what happens at the 8th Circuit, could tee up a potentially near-fatal blow to the already teetering VRA.

"Section 2 is one of the crown jewels of American legislative history," Topaz argues today. "It's one of the finest statutes ever passed. Section 2 is absolutely essential in terms of ensuring equal voting access around the country. And we will do everything we can do defend it."

In the meantime, as he observes, this particular fight has prevented the courts from deciding on the merits of the original case, which means that --- even if it's ultimately settled at SCOTUS in favor of the ACLU --- "there will have been several elections taking place with discriminatory maps in Arkansas."

In 1957, in his "Give us the Ballot" speech eight years before passage of the VRA, MLK reportedly said: "So long as I do not firmly and irrevocably possess the right to vote I do not possess myself. I cannot make up my mind --- it is made up for me. I cannot live as a democratic citizen, observing the laws I have helped to enact --- I can only submit to the edict of others."

Happy Martin Luther King Day. It's on Monday.

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House J6 Committee's report details how the then-President's anti-Pence tweet was directed at, and likely to produce, 'imminent lawless action'...
By Ernest A. Canning on 12/28/2022 9:05am PT  

The violence was no accident. It was not a peaceful protest that spun out of control. Instead, as Rep. Elizabeth Cheney (R-WY) observed, in explaining her Jan. 11, 2021 vote to impeach, a then "President of the United States summoned the mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame for this attack." It was, by the former President's deliberate design, a violent insurrection.

In its Executive Summary [PDF] released last week, the bipartisan House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol amplified its referral to the U.S. Department of Justice for potential prosecution of former President Donald J. Trump et al. under provisions of 18 U.S.C. §2383 - Rebellion or Insurrection, which expressly applies to anyone who "incites" an insurrection.

"A Federal Court", the Committee observed, "has already concluded that President Trump's statements during his Ellipse speech were "plausibly words of incitement not protected by the First Amendment."

Those "words", uttered by the then President on January 6, 2021 at what was billed as a "Stop the Steal Rally" at the Ellipse near the White House, included 22 occasions in which Trump urged his supporters to "fight". He told them: "We fight like hell. And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore." Trump offered those words to an angry, armed mob gathered in D.C. that morning after his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, at the same rally, called for "trial by combat."

While not mentioned in the Committee report's Executive Summary, the video recordings of the rally reflect that, as the former President was speaking, the crowd chanted: "Fight for Trump! Fight for Trump!"

Trump knew those he'd summoned to Washington D.C. on Jan. 6 were both armed and dangerous. According to Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to then Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and one of the J6 Committee's star witnesses, Trump became irate when "thousands would not pass through the magnetometers" at the rally site, which had been erected by the Secret Service for his protection. She testified that the former President said: "I don't F'ing care that they have weapons. They're not here to hurt me."

Given the totality of the evidence assembled by the Committee over the past 18 months, detailing Trump's multifaceted effort to overturn and steal the election from the American people in order to retain the Presidency, a prosecutor would be well positioned to argue that, when Trump directed thousands of angry and armed supporters to move to the Capitol, he was extolling them to essentially carry out a violent coup and that the words uttered at the Ellipse were, indeed, "incitement" within the meaning of the Insurrection statute.

Indeed, his reported irate antics in response to his Secret Service detail's refusal to permit him to accompany the mob at the Capitol, suggests that the former President saw his own role as that of an insurrectionist Commander in Chief --- someone who could direct the actions of an armed mob that included members of extremist militias clad in tactical gear.

As defined by the U.S. Supreme Court in Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), however, speech is prohibited only where it is (1) "directed at inciting or producing imminent lawless action", and (2) "likely to incite or produce such action." [Emphasis added.]

That definition provides room for Trump's legal counsel to argue the former President merely told the crowd to "go to the Capitol"; that it wasn't an incitement to "imminent" violence.

However, that plausible defense evaporated on Jan. 6, 2021 at 2:24 p.m. when Trump tweeted...

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




Guest: Slate's legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Griner heading home; 'Respect for Marriage Act' to become law; Report: DoJ seeking to hold Trump in contempt in stolen docs case...
By Brad Friedman on 12/8/2022 5:54pm PT  

It could have been much worse. That seems to be the message from our guest on today's BradCast after yesterday's oral argument in the U.S. Supreme Court case that could blow up everything we know about American elections, including some 233 years of otherwise settled election laws in all 50 states. We'll hope he's right. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, first up today, some less ambiguous good news to kick things off. WNBA star Brittney Griner is on her way home from Russia, where she has been held as a prisoner for at least 8 months after authorities found less than a gram of cannabis oil in a vape cartridge in her suitcase. Her release comes as a swap for a notorious Russian arms dealer, but fails to include the release of Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned by Russia for nearly four years, who many hoped would also be included in the trade.

Griner's wife joined President Biden at the White House on Thursday to announce the good news, while urging the release of Whelan, whose brother praised the Administration for making "the right decision to bring Ms. Griner home, and to make the deal that was possible, rather than waiting for one that wasn’t going to happen."

Also on Thursday, more good news in D.C. as the U.S. House approved the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA) with all Democrats voting in favor with almost 40 Republicans. Shamefully, 169 Republicans voted against recognizing the marriage rights of same-sex and interracial couples. The bill was passed by the U.S. Senate last week (also by all Democrats and opposed by the majority of Republicans) and now heads to the President's desk for his signature. Even though 2015's Obergefell ruling at the U.S. Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land in all 50 states, federal lawmakers determined a statutory backstop was necessary after far-right activist Justice Clarence Thomas called for reconsidering the Obergefell decision when he voted with the Court's corrupted rightwing majority to overturn Roe v. Wade earlier this year.

We're joined today by Slate's longtime legal journalist and SCOTUS expert MARK JOSEPH STERN. Last month, he responded to progressive critics of the RFMA who felt it should have gone farther to require all states to license same-sex marriages --- as Obergefell currently does --- rather than simply mandating that states legally recognize such marriages. Today, Stern breaks down his legal argument for why he believes those critics are wrong about the new, landmark federal statute and notes that, "as a progressive in a same-sex marriage, I feel like I have some skin in the game here."

But, our initial reason for booking Stern today was to discuss Moore v. Harper, the ridiculous --- if wildly dangerous --- case heard by the Supremes on Wednesday. As discussed on yesterday's show with FairVote's David Daley, who attended the oral argument, if a majority on the Court agrees with North Carolina Republican petitioners, the fallout for American elections from Moore will be "seismic".

The case argues that a fringe, so-called "Independent State Legislature" theory found in the U.S. Constitution's Elections Clause, means that only State Legislatures may craft specific state rules and laws for federal elections and may not be overruled or even reviewed by gubernatorial vetoes or state court review to ensure those laws meet requirements of state Constitutions. Even voter-approved ballot initiatives would be considered unlawful.

It would, in the case of Moore, allow North Carolina Republicans who control the gerrymandered majority in the evenly-divided state Legislature to gerrymander U.S. House districts however they like, even after the state Supreme Court determined their partisan gerrymander violated the state Constitution. By the same theory, a majority opinion in favor of the NC GOP, by the rigged 6 to 3 SCOTUS, could also allow state Legislatures to simply choose whichever Presidential Electors they preferred, even when voters voted otherwise. Yes, it's just that insane and, arguably, should never have even been heard at the High Court.

The good news today, is that, after yesterday's hearing --- when the "Court's most conservative justices got outplayed," as Stern reported at Slate --- he now believes the worst-case scenario is far less inevitable. "Those of us who’ve been ringing the alarm over this dangerous theory --- and who've been disgusted by the campaign to drag it from the far-right fringe all the way to the Supreme Court --- can take solace that these capable lawyers exposed [the Independent State Legislature theory] as an utter fraud," he wrote last night.

"Even though we have a ton of rules in every single state's Constitution that have been enforced for 230+ years, this theory says that all of those are invalid, we've been doing it wrong the whole time," Stern told me today, adding that he "heard maybe two votes for that position" during oral argument on Wednesday.

"But then, once you get into the more compromise positions, it gets harder to gauge," he warns. "I don't think the Court is going to totally cut out state Constitutions and state statutes from federal elections. I don't think that the Court is going to go as far as Republicans want. I think that there's a chance that the Court could issue a decision that is bad but not catastrophic, that essentially says that, as a general principle, state courts can regulate elections, but that federal courts get to double-check their work and decide if they got it wrong."

"But we have to be, when this decision comes down, really vigilant about drawing any conclusions before we figure out exactly where they land." If Federal courts can review state court rulings that are regarded as "egregious," Stern says he could live with that. But if they allow state courts only "mild deference," he explains, "that's no good, because that is really not how we do things in this country. State courts have the final say over the meaning of state law in almost all circumstances. And if we take that away, then it is just empowering this conservative super-majority on SCOTUS to decide all these cases in favor of Republicans."

Given the ridiculous basis for the Independent State Legislature theory --- that we've been doing it all wrong for more than 230 years since the nation's founding, but nobody noticed until now --- there would be hundreds of election laws in all 50 states that could then be challenged in federal courts. It's all somewhat ironic given that this fringe interpretation of the Elections Clause was, itself, built on "a fraudulent document that purported to be an account of the Constitutional Convention" that, as early as the 1800's, was described as "fake" by James Madison, "who actually did write the definitive account of the Constitutional Convention," notes Stern.

Much more on all of that today and, before he leaves, a quick explanation of how "stupid" the case heard earlier this week by SCOTUS regarding a web designer in Colorado who refuses to design a website for same-sex marriages actually is. Hint: She "has never been asked by any couple, gay or straight, to make a wedding website for them. Yet she sued before anyone could ask her, and argued that Colorado's civil rights law was infringing on her freedom of speech."

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report with both good and bad news, as per usual, when news broke late from CNN that, according to their sources, the U.S. Dept. of Justice has asked a federal judge to hold Donald Trump in contempt for failing to comply with a subpoena ordering him over the summer to turn over classified records he stolen upon leaving the White House.

It turns out that it may have been an even better day today than we originally thought...

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Guest: FairVote's David Daley on 'bonkers' Independent State Legislature theory's 'seismic consequences' as weighed by our corrupt High Court...
By Brad Friedman on 12/7/2022 6:19pm PT  

Democracy had a good night in Georgia on Tuesday night, before facing a brand-new nightmare by Wednesday morning at the far-right U.S. Supreme Court. We cover both on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

The final votes of the 2022 midterms have at last been cast --- though some counting and recounting remains --- and Georgia's Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock has been re-elected to his first full 6-year term in the U.S. Senate. His apparent defeat of Herschel Walker, loser Donald Trump's personally selected candidate in Tuesday's runoff election in the Peach State, caps a string of contests that the GOP arguably could have or should have won across the country in a midterm year like this one. But they chose to go with the far-right, loony-tunes candidates preferred by the disgraced former President instead.

After picking up a Senate seat this year, Democrats are set to hold an outright 51 to 49 majority in the upper chamber beginning in January, even as they narrowly lost their majority in the U.S. House. We discuss what all of that is likely to mean and review several remarkable historic milestones for Democrats in this year's anything-but-red-wave midterms.

After a late night of celebration, it was an early morning of worry, as the U.S. Supreme Court heard Moore v. Harper. We have long warned of the dangers of this case for American elections as we know them. The dispute comes from a challenge filed by North Carolina Republicans after the state's Supreme Court nixed partisan U.S. House maps gerrymandered by the state's GOP legislature. The state court ordered new, fair maps to be drawn instead for 2022, when Republicans and Democrats would evenly split the state's 14 House Districts, winning seven seats each in the closely divided state.

But state Republicans sued, arguing a novel, never-before-approved-by-SCOTUS legal theory they've recently discovered in the U.S. Constitution's Elections Clause called the "Independent State Legislature" theory. They argue that the Constitution mandates that state laws regarding federal elections may be created only by state Legislatures and that no judicial review by state courts is allowable.

That means, as argued in Moore, that partisan-gerrymandered Legislatures may create election laws that cannot be vetoed by Governors or overruled by state courts or constitutions. The theory holds that even voter-approved ballot initiatives could suddenly be found unlawful and those same state legislative bodies could also select whoever they wish to be Presidential Electors no matter who state voters actually selected. It is just that insane. But it's actually in front of a corrupted, stolen and packed right-wing SCOTUS on which a radical majority may offer its blessing.

"The blast radius from their theory would sow elections chaos," warned former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, one of the three attorneys who argued on behalf of respondents to NC's Republican petitioners, "forcing a confusing two track system with one set of rules for federal elections and another for state ones" with "case after case" being brought before SCOTUS challenging long-established election laws in all 50 states as adopted over the past 233 years.

Gerrymandering expert and author DAVID DALEY of FairVote was in the Courtroom to witness the proceedings at SCOTUS Wednesday morning and joined us this afternoon from the U.S. Capitol to help unpack it all.

"The consequences for this case are seismic," Daley warns. "This is yet another case that could shake the very foundation of our democracy if the court were to find that state legislatures face no constraints, either from a Governor's veto or from a state constitution, or the state Supreme Court, in how they create election law, how they certify elections, how they draw redistricting maps. It would give these state Legislatures complete, unfettered power to effectively do as they will. And that is a terrifying prospect."

We discuss what he describes as the "bonkers" ISL theory and whether, as AP argued today in its coverage, Daley agrees that there were "at least six Supreme Court justices" who "sound skeptical of making a broad ruling that would leave state legislatures virtually unchecked when making rules for elections for Congress and the presidency."

Says Daley, based on what he witnessed at the High Court this morning: "I would say that there were three Justices who were opposed --- the three liberals, Jackson, Sotomayor and Kagan. There were three who seemed very much on board in Thomas, Gorsuch and Alito. And there were three that I would define not as 'skeptical' but as 'Independent State Legislature-curious'. And I don't think they were looking for a way to knock a bonkers theory down."

Tune in for much more on today's program...

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Guest: Tom Bonier of TargetSmart; Also: Fox 'News' 'red wave' buffoonery; Latest results on Sen, Guv, SoS and A.G. races from AZ, NV...
By Brad Friedman on 11/11/2022 6:28pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's no surprise that Fox 'News' deluded itself for months and even years about a "red wave" or "tsunami" coming for the 2022 midterm elections. It shouldn't be a surprise that the theoretically legitimate media got it wrong as well, given that they seem to make the same errors election after election. And yet, it's both surprising and disappointing, given that the data to counter their erroneous narrative was right there in front of their face the whole time...if they simply bothered to, or had the courage to, listen to it. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

"There was nothing magical about what I did," our guest today, TOM BONIER of the Democratic data research firm, TargetSmart, explains. "It was, as you say, seeing the numbers and reporting the numbers and, in the end, trying to stay away from predictions or projections, but to say, 'Look, this is what we're seeing'."

Bonier's well-documented Twitter threads on the data over the past many months spelled out what shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone. In the face of extremism from the right and, in particular, the Supreme Court, there was a backlash against Republicans which served to boost Democrats across the board.

Prior to today, Bonier joined us twice in recent months to discuss his analysis of data and what he was seeing and tweeting about to anyone who might have wanted to listen. In late August, after voters in deep red Kansas decisively rejected a ballot initiative that would have rewritten the state constitution to allow abortion to be banned, he joined us to explain what he saw as a "jaw-dropping" spike in new voter registrations for young, Democratic women following the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision in late June, overturning Roe v. Wade. Bonier saw similar spikes in new registrations all over the map, in "red" and "blue" states alike, but particularly where reproductive rights were most threatened.

In late September he joined us again after analyzing specific voter data from that failed Kansas referendum. Hard evidence of an incredible spike in women voters that, he told us at the time, "just doesn't happen in elections." He posited that any suggestion that Democrats would be swamped in November, as the so-called Conventional Wisdom offered by pundits would have it, was simply ignoring the available data. He argued the election would be very close and almost certainly not a "wave" for the GOP.

He was right. Even though, over the past month in the run-up to Election Day, the corporate media were, largely in lock step, warning that Dems were done for, soon to be swamped by a red wave or even tsunami! How much of that erroneous punditry "blunted" the final results, Bonier laments, citing races like Mandela Barnes' in Wisconsin, where the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate fell just shy of unseating incumbent Republican Ron Johnson by a single point.

"I like to think of myself as an optimist, but it was difficult over the last few weeks and months," he tells me. "In reality, what we do at TargetSmart is we listen to the data. That's all we were doing. Along the way I was looking at the voter registration data, looking at the early vote data, looking at it in the context of the polls and trying to draw some conclusions. But mostly providing context and questioning the hard-set assumptions that were really leading everyone."

We discuss, among other things, the "flood of Republican polling" in the last few weeks of the campaign and how it warped forecasts from poll aggregation sites like FiveThirtyEight, and how his fellow traveler, Simon Rosenberg, who also had it right, was "mocked" when he highlighted how forecasts were being swamped by those bad GOP polls.

By itself, the media failure "doesn't happen. It took some level of complicit behavior from those who should be guards against it," Bonier insists. "People are mocking Fox News at this point. We know it is a very biased Republican media platform. But the bottom line is most of cable and these other outlets had a level of certainty about this outcome in a very similar way. I have to say, as I spoke with reporters in the closing weeks, I would be telling them 'Look, this is going to be a close election. I don't see a Republican wave. I don't see that in the numbers.' And I was just short of mocked by reporters."

But, why? Is it a lack of courage to stray from the pack journalism and group think? Or, as media critic Dan Froomkin argued today, a symptom of systemic "rot" in the political media? Bonier offers his frank thoughts on that and much more as we dig deep in today's discussion. I strongly urge you to tune in for it in full.

Also today, in addition to our own mocking of Fox "News", we've got plenty left over to mock folks like HBO's Bill Maher and Spotify's Joe Rogan and CNN's Fareed Zakaria and NYTimes' Maggie Haberman who all got it wrong as well --- and misled the American electorate in the bargain --- for many of the reasons discussed on today's program. And, we've also got the latest reported results out of still uncalled critical races for U.S. Senate, Governor, Sec. of State and Attorney General in Arizona and Nevada...

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Guest: Redistricting expert, author David Daley; Also: How Fox 'News' dupes followers via smartphone; Latest key Senate, House, Guv results...
By Brad Friedman on 11/10/2022 6:25pm PT  

On today's BradCast: If the Republican Party wins a narrow majority in the U.S. House following this week's nowhere-near-a-red-wave midterm elections, will it have been because of gerrymandering? Our guest today explains why the answer to that question is unequivocal. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, however, a few observations on how Fox "News" uses its smartphone app to insidiously further brain-poison followers with rightwing propaganda and disinformation. Today's example: How very encouraging news from the federal government on the economy, with signs that inflation may be easing, sent the stock market soaring. But for duped users of the Fox "News" app, it became just more terrible news about the economy injected straight into their brains.

Next, we get caught up on the latest reported results from the ongoing tabulation of very tight Senate (and Gubernatorial) races in Arizona and Nevada, which, along with the critical December 6th U.S. Senate runoff election in Georgia will determine control of the upper chamber of Congress for the next two years.

Also, an update on the vote counting in Colorado's 3rd Congressional District where far-right Rep. Lauren Boebert --- listed in the New York Times' "Republicans expected to win easily" column this year --- has regained a razor-thin 0.38% lead over Democratic challenger Adam Frisch. That, after she was losing by just 64 votes overnight out of more than 300,000 counted.

In all of those states --- Arizona, Nevada and Colorado --- Democratic advocates are suggesting confidence that remaining untallied votes will secure victories for their candidates in most of those races, including those in which tallies show them trailing at the moment or just barely ahead. I'm dubious about some of those claims, but we'll see if they're right and which of the races end up in recounts as the grueling battles for narrow control of both chambers of Congress continues.

When it comes to the House, however, given the limp performance by Republicans on Tuesday, it's become clear that if they regain a majority there, it will only be due to gaming the electorate through both extreme partisan and racial gerrymandering...with the help of corrupt courts at both the state and federal level.

We're joined once again today by redistricting expert and author DAVID DALEY, a Senior Fellow at FairVote. In an article on this today at The Nation he describes how aggressive --- and frequently unlawful and unconstitutional --- gerrymandering by GOP legislatures in several "red" states following the 2020 Census, in concert with corrupt rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court and several state high courts, is to be credited for what most currently see as a likely, if very narrow, GOP takeover of the U.S. House. He calls it a "rigged House majority.'

"Republicans really won the redistricting wars," Daley tells me today. "Their partisan and racial gerrymanders won them more than enough seats to make up the difference between the two parties in what was essentially a jump ball election. By having gerrymandered maps in Florida, Ohio, Texas, Georgia; by having courts put a thumb on the scales for them in Alabama, Wisconsin, Louisiana and elsewhere; and by having blue state courts not allow Democrats to engage in the same kind of anti-democratic behavior, Republicans were able to take enough seats to take the House."

He explains: "Once you start adding up all of the states that Republicans claimed either through extreme partisan gerrymandering, and what the federal courts and the state courts gifted them; when you take the four seats in Florida, a couple seats in Ohio, a couple in Texas, in Tennessee, and Wisconsin; when you take the seats that Republicans bulldozed or hijacked from independent commissions in Arizona and Iowa, you're looking at somewhere between 12 and 14 seats --- which, I think, will probably end up being something close to twice what the ultimate majority in the House ends up being."

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with news on the rare, late-season Hurricane Nicole, which slammed into Florida's eastern seaboard overnight and a round-up of climate related victories and losses in Tuesday's midterm elections...

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Guest: Theeda Murphy of No Exceptions Prison Collective; Also: Corrupt SCOTUS helps Trump on tax returns, Graham on GA testimony...
By Brad Friedman on 11/1/2022 6:01pm PT  

We've been discussing for weeks (months, actually) on The BradCast how critical the November 8 midterm elections are to American democracy itself. I've even referred to it as the most critical midterms since the Civil War. Until recently, however, I had no idea how on the money that comparison actually is. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

In five states this year --- from so-called "red" states like Alabama, Louisiana and Tennessee to the theoretically liberal bastions of Oregon and Vermont --- slavery itself will be on the ballot. Seriously. Or, at least "involuntary servitude". What's the difference between that and slavery? Even our guest today, an expert on such issues, has trouble discerning that.

The U.S. Constitution's 13th Amendment, adopted in 1865 to end slavery, reads [emphasis added]: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

In other words, slavery was abolished --- except for prisoners, who may be forced into involuntary servitude as part of their punishment. It's a not-accidental loophole, you'll be shocked to learn, that has been disproportionately exercised historically against Black Americans.

In 2020, however, several Democratic members of Congress introduced a resolution to begin amending that part of the 13th Amendment. But changing the U.S. Constitution is a heavy lift that requires passage by two-thirds of each chamber of Congress and approval by three-fourths of the states. In the meantime, there are the exact same or very similar references to involuntary servitude --- or even slavery itself --- still present in a number of state Constitutions and/or statutes. And, this year, there are ballot initiatives in the five states mentioned above to finally change or remove those references entirely.

So, yeah. Ending slavery, at least in some state constitutions, at least for prisoners, is actually on this year's ballot as well.

We're joined today for insight by THEEDA MURPHY, Co-Director of the No Exceptions Prison Collective, a non-profit, grassroots initiative based in Nashville, TN, dedicated to, among other things, aboloshing slavery!

"Any type of forced labor is slavery. Period. And should not exist in the United States in 2022," Murphy explains, stating what one would think should be obvious. Surprisingly, it isn't. There are elected officials --- both Democratic and Republican --- who have offered various reasons to oppose such initiatives to rewrite the 13th Amendment and the state-based provisions which echo it. Most of their reasons have to do with assuring that cheap prison labor can continue, a $500 billion industry where the average pay is $1/hour. (Though that is, somehow, not considered slavery!)

Over the past two elections, in 2018 and 2020, three states, Colorado, Nebraska and Utah, adopted measures to ban involuntary servitude. A recent effort here in California failed to make it onto the ballot this year. But the hope of advocates like Murphy is that, with reform at the state level, interest may grow in a federal Constitutional amendment that finally ends what is known as the "Punishment Clause" or the "Exception Clause'. But there are other reasons to adopt such measures as well.

States where similar changes have been made, explains Murphy, "are beginning to have these discussions about what does it mean to now have people that cannot be treated like property, that the state no longer owns, and what that means for every aspect of a person who is incarcerated. Can you deny them healthcare? What kind of food do you feed them? Do you charge them for their clothes? Those are the kinds of questions that begin to be answered, or to be asked, because people are no longer property."

Murphy says that in her home-state of Tennessee, internal polling shows both Democrats and Republicans are "united" on the ballot measure this year. "Nobody is FOR slavery," she quips. "Nobody at least will come out and SAY they're for it."

Hey! Maybe we found at least one issue that doesn't divide Americans? We'll find out after next Tuesday.

In other noteworthy news today...

  • After nearly four years of House Democrats attempting to exercise the federal law that mandates the IRS "shall furnish" the tax returns of any taxpayer to the heads of several Congressional committees upon request, Donald Trump is running out of legal (and illegal) options to block the Democratic-controlled House Ways and Means Committee from reviewing his tax documents. But, after the federal appeals court in D.C. unanimously said last week that the IRS must turn them over, Trump filed an emergency appeal to his stolen, packed and corrupted Supreme Court. Today, Chief Justice John Roberts placed a temporary administrative hold on the lower court's order, buying Trump at least 10 days while the House responds to the disgraced former President's motion. But now, every day counts, with the possibility of Democrats losing their majority at the beginning of next year, when Republicans will almost certainly drop the House request. The clock is ticking.
  • In somewhat brighter related news, after a similar administrative hold by the corrupt Justice Clarence Thomas last week, the Supremes have decided that Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) must sit for a deposition with the Special Grand Jury created by Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis, in her investigation of the Trump-led conspiracy to steal the 2020 election in the Peach State. SCOTUS, however, has left open some doors for Graham to return to district court if he believes any of the questions he's asked violate his right to not answer questions related to his legislative activity as a Senator under the Constitution's Speech and Debate Clause.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with a bit of bona fide good news --- in several different stories, in fact --- to wrap up today's program...

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'Democracy came out victorious' in Lula's defeat of Bolsonaro; U.S. democracy at stake in next week's midterms; New Senate polling; Pelosi's would-be assassin was a follower of Trump's election lies; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 10/31/2022 5:51pm PT  

We're just over one week from the most critical midterm elections in these United States since the Civil War. So, we've got a lot to discuss on today's BradCast. And the phones are finally fixed at KPFK, so we were actually able to hear from callers today as well! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the stories covered on today's program before listeners ring...

  • Why it really matters: A few thoughts on why, exactly, these elections are so critical, in all 50 states, for the future of American democracy itself; why you need to vote in whatever state you live in by Tuesday; and why, depending on how it all goes, this could be the last democratic election in this country. An overstatement? I don't think so in the least. But tune in for much more on all of that and for listner calls from folks who may or may not agree with me.
  • If they can do it in Brazil: Great news! The far-right, Donald Trump-supported autocrat Jair Bolsonaro was deposed in a runoff election on Sunday to Brazil's former leftist President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, popularly known as "Lula". The race was closer than polls had predicted, but it was the first time since the nation became democratized in the 1980s that an incumbent President went down to defeat. That is good for workers, that is good for the planet (given Bolsonaro's destruction of the Amazon rainforest), and, as Lula said up winning, good for democracy itself. "This isn’t a victory of mine or the Workers’ Party, nor the parties that supported me in the campaign," said the once and future President. "It's the victory of a democratic movement that formed above political parties, personal interests and ideologies so that democracy came out victorious."
  • After all that: New polling out today from New York Times and Siena College finds four key U.S. Senate races are still polling pretty much where they were several weeks ago, despite recent breathless corporate media reports that Dem support was tanking and a "red" wave was forming. Perhaps it is, but that's not what today's new polling suggests. The Democratic Senate candidates in Arizona, Pennsylvania and Georgia all still lead their Republican opponents, if by slim margins, and the race in Nevada is said to be a dead heat. At least, if you believe pre-election polling. (And I wouldn't, if I were you.) It's all likely to be very close. All of it. Everywhere. Please get out and vote, as they did in Brazil...for democracy.
  • Another assassination attempt on the Speaker of the House: We were off on Friday, so didn't get to ring in on it, but we've learned more over the weekend about the attacker who, echoing January 6, 2021 insurrectionists, was hunting for Nancy Pelosi as he hoped to use zip ties to restrain her 82-year old husband Paul last Friday morning at their house in San Francisco. The attacker ended up cracking Paul Pelosi's skull with a hammer before he was tackled by police. By way of contrast with the "outrage" expressed for weeks by Republicans at peaceful protests outside the homes of corrupt Supreme Court Justices several months ago, many of those same GOPers made jokes over the weekend about the attack on the Pelosis by a man who appears to have been a supporter of QAnon conspiracies and far-right commentators and who believed Trump's lie that the 2020 Presidential election was stolen from him. The 42-year old assailant has now been charged with both state and federal felonies, including attempted murder; assault with a deadly weapon; assault on the immediate family member of a federal official; and attempted kidnapping of a federal official. Paul Pelosi is said to be recovering after emergency surgery for a fractured skull.
  • Calls forward: Finally, we open up the phone lines --- for the first time in a month, now that they're fixed here at the station! --- on all of the above and more with some very lively callers (several of whom, as usual, don't agree with me on every li'l thang...)

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A long time Bernie Sanders supporter on why we must vote 'blue' in '22...
UPDATE: Independent progressive Ralph Nader joins call to vote 'blue' in '22...
By Ernest A. Canning on 10/24/2022 10:05am PT  

I was a long time Bernie Sanders supporter. I still am. As an attorney and Vietnam veteran I even served as a Senior Adviser to Vets for Bernie during his 2016 campaign. I also supported Sen. Sanders during the 2020 primaries. That was then. This is 2022.

President Biden was not engaging in hyperbole when he recently warned the nation that "democracy will be on the ballot" this November.

I recently underscored his message with my coverage of the amicus brief to SCOTUS from all 50 State Supreme Court Chief Justices warning in no uncertain terms against the dangers of the "fringe", so-called "Independent State Legislature" (ISL) theory, soon to be decided by the High Court. The case, Moore v. Harper, was brought to the Court via North Carolina Republicans seeking to override their own state Supreme Court regarding partisan gerrymandering. The theory they are using to do so echoes the radical interpretation of the U.S. Constitution's Elections Clause as advanced by disgraced former law professor, John Eastman, during his attempt to help Donald Trump steal the 2020 Presidential election.

Irrespective of whether it comes by way of a violent insurrection or via judicial fiat handed down from the U.S. Supreme Court's "radicals in robes", American democracy may soon be all but lost absent a massive turnout for the midterms by everyone who desires to save it.

If a SCOTUS majority embraces the ISL theory, it could lead to a circumstance where MAGA Republican State legislatures can not only rig all future U.S. House elections via partisan gerrymandering, voter suppression and intimidation but also present what the Brennan Center described as a "nightmare scenario" in which a partisan, gerrymandered State legislature "would invoke [the ISL] as a pretext to refuse to certify the results of a presidential election and instead select its own slate of electors." In other words, under the ISL theory a partisan gerrymandered State Legislature, and not the People, would hold the ultimate power to "elect" all future Presidents. Neither gubernatorial vetoes, nor state voters nor state Constitutions nor state Supreme Courts would be able to overrule them.

Where MAGA Republicans proponents of the ISL theory offer an absurd bastardization of the Constitution's Elections Clause as a ticket to undermine democracy, most legal scholars regard the same Clause as providing a means by which democracy can be saved...

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




Guest: Angela Peoples of Election Defenders; Also: Bannon sentenced; Trump subpoenaed; Graham appeals to SCOTUS; And, still more evidence of looming Trump accountability...
By Brad Friedman on 10/21/2022 5:48pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: There is a great deal to be concerned about between now and November 8, when American holds its first nationwide elections since Donald Trump tried to steal the last one. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Since then, his unrelenting lies that the 2020 election was stolen from him (ironically enough) have resulted in, among other things, newly restrictive voting laws adopted by GOP-controlled states, a shortage of poll workers following death threats from disinformed rightwingers, and concerns of both intimidation and the potential of violence at polling places (and ballot drop-boxes.)

But the Election Defenders vow to be out in force, as they were in 2020, attempting to make sure everyone can vote freely and fairly.

"One of my biggest concerns is the impact the attempts at intimidation may play on the electorate," my guest today, the group's Campaign Director, ANGELA PEOPLES, tells me. "In some places, these threats of violence are very real, and we're preparing folks to be responsive to those." But, she adds, "a lot of this is just talk, and attempts to create an atmosphere of fear. So we are planning to counter that fear with joy, with enthusiasm, to make sure that people can cast their ballot with safety and dignity."

Election Defenders is a coalition formed in 2020 by The Frontline, a joint campaign of the Working Families Party, the Movement for Black Lives Electoral Justice Project, United We Dream and Rising Majority. They deployed some 2,000 volunteers trained in de-escalation techniques to polling places in all 50 states in 2020. This year, they hope to station about 1,250 in key battleground states including Wisconsin, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona.

"We are trained not only in de-escalation, but also in what we call Voter Care --- to support folks at the polls, making sure folks have information about what those new laws may be and how to make sure that, if they feel like they are denied their ability to vote, they have a chance to address that and to not be denied their ability to cast their ballot, whether it's provisional or otherwise, on Election Day," Peoples explains.

"We'll be making sure that things stay calm, stay joyful, stay energetic and are the type of experience that can keep people engaged all the way through to casting their ballot," she says. The group hopes to counter so many who have been lied into rage on the Right over the past two years. "A lot of their playbook is about intimidation [and] fear tactics. So we have really focused on the joy that we can bring to people and reminding folks that, as much as some may try to make voting seem like something that is privileged, or something only a few should be able to do, that everyone that has the right to vote in this country should be able to exercise that."

Critically, she adds, "we are reminding our volunteers that this Election Defense opportunity is something that we need to do from voting, to counting, all the way to certification."

And, yes, the group is still welcoming volunteers and helping to train them all over the country. If you'd like to join the effort, you can get more details and sign up for trainings here or text FRONTLINE to 20403.

Also today, the outer bands of the coming Trump Accountability Hurricane continue to blow in...

  • Steve Bannon was sentenced to 4 months in prison for Contempt of Congress after refusing to answer subpoenas for testimony and documents from the House January 6 Committee. He remains free for now pending appeal.
  • Donald Trump was sent his own subpoena by the same House Committee today, seeking documents from the disgraced former President by November 4 and under oath deposition testimony beginning on or about November 14. If he refuses, he could face similar charges to those Bannon has now been found guilty of and sentenced to prison for.
  • On Thursday, Sen. Lindsey Graham was ordered by a three-judge panel (two of whom are Trump appointees) at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to testify to the Special Grand Jury in Atlanta set up by Fulton County, Georgia Prosecutor Fani Willis. She is investigating an alleged criminal conspiracy led by Donald Trump to force state officials to falsify the 2020 election results. Today, Graham, who has lost every court battle to avoid testimony so far, asked SCOTUS to intervene. Even though the denies any wrongdoing, it appears he really really doesn't want to testify to that end under oath for some reason.
  • Also this week, Trump was forced to testify under oath in the defamation case against him by author E. Jean Carroll, who alleges he raped her in a department store dressing room in the 1990s and then lied about both her and it while serving as President. But, because he can't help himself, Trump really screwed himself over regarding the only quasi-legit defense he had left to try and duck Carroll's defamation complaint. SAD!

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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UT's Sen. Lee in dead heat; Biden Admin begins student loan forgiveness; Biden vows to codify 'Roe' if Dems hold House, increase Senate majority; Also: Trump/Barr's dumb Special Counsel Durham loses another case...
By Brad Friedman on 10/18/2022 6:20pm PT  

Democratic voters, it seems, are an easily spooked bunch. A few bad polls and some seem ready to all but throw in the towel on the November midterms. But now is not the time for that sort of thinking. As discussed on today's BradCast, there is simply too much at stake this year --- Constitutional freedoms, democracy itself, survival on Planet Earth, just to name a few --- to get sidetracked by despair. To paraphrase Obama, don't boo-hoo! Vote! (And make sure everyone else you know does the same!) [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

It was always gonna be an uphill fight this year. It still is. But it makes no sense to wallow. It does make sense to get to work. As President Biden correctly noted this afternoon, "Today we face an inflection point, one of those moments that only come around every several generations where there's so much change happening --- technologically, politically, and socially --- that the decisions we make now are going to determine the future of our nation and the future of your generation for the next 30 or more years."

With all of that in mind, these are among the stories covered on today's program...

  • Breaking just before airtime: Special Counsel John Durham --- tapped by Donald Trump and Bill Barr to investigate the investigators who investigated Russia's interference in the 2016 election --- is now 0 for 2 in Court. Igor Danchenko, said to have been a primary source for the so-called "Steel dossier", was charged in Durham's probe with five counts of lying to the FBI. He was acquitted today by a jury on all charges. He was the second to be indicted by Durham and then fully exonerated at trial. Even more humiliating for Durham: he personally handled most of the argument and questioning in court and reportedly ended up being rebuffed by his own witnesses who provided support for the defense. Worse, Danchenko, a Russian citizen living in the U.S., was reportedly "a treasured FBI informant" whose indictment "hurt U.S. national security."
  • Last week we detailed the five U.S. Senate seats that could plausibly be flipped this year from Republican to Democratic (in PA, OH, WI, NC and FL) and the two Democratic seats that could plausibly be won by Republicans (in NV and GA). At the end of yesterday's show, however, we added another to the Plausible Red to Blue list when the "gold standard" Des Moines Register poll over the weekend found Iowa's 89-year old, 7-term Republican Senator Chuck Grassley to be just three points ahead of his Democratic challenger Mike Franken. Today, there's yet another Republican Senate seat said to be in jeopardy --- in deep red Utah of all places! According to two different polls, independent candidate Evan McMullin is said to be in a dead heat with GOP Senator Presidential election theft enthusiast and not Trump "bootlicker" Mike Lee. On Monday, the two sparred in their only debate. It didn't go all that well for Lee.
  • On Monday, the Biden Administration opened its student loan forgiveness program at StudentAid.gov. The process has reportedly already served some 12 million applicants who may be forgiven for as much as $20,000 in debt. The process to apply reportedly takes no more than five minutes. All that is needed is a name, birthdate and social security number. The government will supposedly take care of the rest. At the same time, Republicans are suing to block Biden's program, created via Executive Order. But if they believe it's truly illegal, as Slate's Mark Joseph Stern observes today, they should introduce a bill to force those who received debt forgiveness to pay the money back. Do you think Republicans will do so?
  • On Tuesday, President Biden spoke at a DNC event and vowed to codify the Constitutional rights and freedoms previously guaranteed by Roe v. Wade into federal law as his first order of business in January, after our corrupt, stolen and packed Republican Supreme Court majority took privacy rights and reproductive freedoms away from Americans last June. We share Biden's remarks today. But, in order to enact those protections, as he points out, Dems will need to hold their House majority and pick up at least two more Democratic Senators willing to reform the undemocratic Senate filibuster rule in November. If that happens, not only can abortion and privacy rights be protected by federal law, but voting rights can be expanded and protected, and the corrupt Supreme Court itself can be expanded and un-corrupted. But, again, if that's what you'd like to see, you better to get to work between now and November 8!
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with news on how GOP rollbacks to climate policies made things worse for Florida; how the Pacific Northwest is facing record heat and wildfires in mid-October(!); how FL's Sen. Rick Scott wants the government to do less for disaster victims; and how a can of soup and a priceless Van Gogh have sparked debate over climate protest tactics...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Special Coverage of final(?) public hearing with Heather Digby Parton of Salon and 'Driftglass' of 'Pro Left Podcast'; Also: SCOTUS rejects Trump's emergency motion on stolen classified docs retrieved from Mar-a-Lago...
By Brad Friedman on 10/13/2022 6:17pm PT  

It was a very bad day for our disgraced former President. So, it was a good day for the nation and for today's special BradCast coverage of what is likely to be the final public hearing of the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Trump-incited insurrection of January 6, 2021 and his many failed attempts to steal the 2020 Presidential election. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

The Committee on Thursday presented both new video footage and documents obtained since their last public hearing back in July. Among the new video: Chilling footage of Democratic and Republican lawmakers attempting to fill the leadership gap left by the President during the three hours the Capitol was under siege while Donald Trump sat in the White House dining room watching Fox "News" coverage of the violence he sparked unfolding.

Among the new documents: email and chat messages from the Secret Service revealing they knew damned well about the threat of violence on Jan. 6, long prior to the insurrection. Also: more evidence from well before Election Day revealing Trump planned to falsely claim the election was stolen from him, and that he knew damned well that he lost and there was no evidence of election-changing fraud.

But, of course, the biggest news from Thursday's hearing was the panel's unanimous, 9 to 0 vote taken at the end to subpoena documents and under-oath testimony from the ringleader of the riot.

"Our duty today is to our country and our children and our Constitution. We are obligated to seek answers from the man who set this all in motion, and every American is entitled to those answers so we can act now to protect our republic," explained Republican Vice Chair Rep. Liz Cheney, introducing the motion. "So, this afternoon I am offering this resolution that the Committee direct the Chairman to issue a subpoena for relevant documents and testimony under oath from Donald John Trump in connection with the January 6th attack on the United States Capitol."

That wasn't the only bad news for the disgraced former President today. As the hearing was playing out, his corrupt, stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court majority rejected his emergency motion regarding the classified documents he stole from the White House and retrieved by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago in early August. The High Court nixed, without comment, his appeal of a lower court ruling that blocked the documents marked as classified from a privilege review by a Special Master.

All of that came the day after Washington Post and New York Times each published stories last night reporting that a Trump employee was captured on security camera video from inside Mar-a-Lago moving boxes of documents both in and out of a storage room both before and after Trump had been subpoenaed by the Dept. of Justice earlier this year for the return of all documents that he had stolen from the White House upon leaving office. The reports allege that the employee is said to be cooperating with DoJ, at least to some extent, and was ordered to move the documents by Trump himself.

Like I said, a bad day for Trump...but a great day for everyone else!

Joining us for a very lively conversation attempting to make sense of all of this madness and much more today in our Special Coverage, are HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo and 'DRIFTGLASS' of the Professional Left Podcast. And while both of them have been right about pretty much everything over the last 20 years, they disagree today on whether Trump will actually answer that Congressional subpoena to testify. Tune in to find out why.

As usual, they offer smart insight today on the new video footage and many other fresh revelations from this afternoon's J6 hearing, and we discuss whether Trump will now finally be indicted; on which of the several different criminal investigations he's now facing; and when such charges will --- or won't --- finally come...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Rare brief submitted to SCOTUS by top state judges underscores how American democracy is, itself, on the ballot this November...
UPDATE 10/14/22: 2nd GOP petition seeks to overturn OH Supreme Court redistricting ruling based in 'Independent State Legislature' Theory...
By Ernest A. Canning on 10/12/2022 11:05am PT  

A no-uncertain-terms brief [PDF] submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court by all 50 state Supreme Court Chief Justices eviscerated the so-called "Independent State Legislature" (ISL) theory being pushed by far-right legal activists.

Their rare decision to file an amicus curiae (friend of the court) SCOTUS brief reflects the unanimous recognition by all of the nation's State Chief Justices that the fringe ISL "legal" theory is so dangerous that, if it were to be embraced by a majority on our nation's highest federal court, it could hasten an end to our Constitutional democracy. And that is not hyperbole.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court, now dominated by six unelected "radicals in robes", granted review in Moore v. Harper, a case brought to SCOTUS by North Carolina's Republican-controlled State Legislature after their partisan gerrymandered Congressional redistricting plan was struck down by their state's Supreme Court on the grounds that it violated NC's Constitution.

Ironically, Tar Heel State Republicans owe their own control of the General Assembly to partisan gerrymandering. When Democratic Governor Roy Cooper was reelected in 2020, he defeated his Republican opponent 51.5% to 47% statewide, yet GOPers were able to retain control of 56% of NC Senate seats and 57.5% of the House thanks to extremely partisan state district maps.

In Moore the NC Republican petitioners to SCOTUS rely upon the same ISL theory advanced by disgraced former Chapman Univ. Law Professor John Eastman as part of Team Trump's effort to steal the 2020 Presidential election.

Their argument is that, absent a federal law to the contrary, a State legislature has a plenary right to engage in what NYU's Brennan Center for Justice describes as "deeply undemocratic" partisan gerrymandering of Congressional Districts. They contend that, when it comes to laws regarding federal elections, state legislatures may not be constrained by a state's constitution as interpreted by its state courts.

In their brief, the 50 State Chief Justices argue that the ISL, as advanced by NC Republicans, does violence to the meaning of the word "Legislature" as envisioned by the framers and as it appears in the U.S. Constitution's Elections Clause (Article 1, Section 4), which provides that the "Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations."

Embrace of the ISL theory by a SCOTUS majority in Moore could similarly result in approval of Eastman's radical theory that state legislatures enjoy a Constitutional right to override the will of state voters to choose electors in the next Presidential election. It all underscores President Joe Biden's recent assessment that, come November, "democracy will be on the ballot"...

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




Dem Senate candidates smack down GOP opponents in OH, WI debates; Also: SCOTUS undermines key election provision of Civil Rights Act; Is FBI underplaying threats to election security?...
By Brad Friedman on 10/11/2022 6:38pm PT  

As noted on today's BradCast, we generally cover the track conditions of our elections more than the actual horse races. We do so again today. But, as it turns out, Dems have put up some pretty good horses this year. We cover a couple of them today as well. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First, track conditions...

The corrupt, stolen and packed rightwing U.S. Supreme Court majority on Tuesday overturned an appeals court ruling which had found that both the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Pennsylvania law mandates that legitimately voted ballots may not be invalidated due to minor errors that are "immaterial" to determining voter qualification. In this case, the question was about absentee ballots where voters had forgotten to fill in the date on the ballot's outer envelope. The activists on SCOTUS, however, held today that such ballots may not be counted this November, despite the Civil Rights Act provision that previously ended the Jim Crow era's use of immaterial errors to invalidate perfectly legitimate votes.

Also, FBI officials say they have identified no credible threats to U.S. election systems this year, despite efforts by some foreign adversaries, including Russia, to sow doubt about fraud. But do these officials understand the actual threats now posed to our non-transparent, easily manipulated and error-prone computerized voting and tabulation systems? Do they appreciate the increased threat level thanks to recent breaches of election management systems by MAGA conspiracy theorists in several states following the former President's false claims of fraud?

While the Trump-appointed FBI Director Christopher Wray seems to falsely suggest there are similar domestic threats of violence from "both sides" following the 2020 election and the SCOTUS ruling on Roe v. Wade, the federal Elections Threat Task Force, launched last year by the Dept. of Justice, seems to finally be taking at least some action in response to the thousands of violent threats made by rightwingers against election officials and poll workers following the last Presidential election.

Next, horse races...

During a U.S. Senate debate in Ohio on Monday night, Democratic candidate Rep. Tim Ryan called out his Republican opponent, author J.D. Vance, for running a fake non-profit charity to support opioid addicts; defending January 6 insurrectionists; and for giving up his "dignity" to Trump who said about Vance at a recent rally in Youngstown: "All you do is kiss my ass to get my support," before Vance went on to pose for pictures with the disgraced former President. "Ohio needs an ass-kicker, not an ass-kisser," said Ryan in response.

In Wisconsin's U.S.. Senate race, Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes was similarly ass-kicking in his debate against incumbent Republican Sen. Ron Johnson. Barnes called out the Badger State GOPer for supporting the January 6 insurrection while claiming to support police, despite the serious injuries to more than 140 law enforcement officials that day. Barnes also made clear he would vote to codify the rights of Roe v. Wade into federal law, and made a very impressive showing against Johnson.

Both races are currently neck and neck, and are among at least five Senate races this year (along with Pennsylvania, North Carolina and even Florida) where Dems have real shots at flipping currently GOP-held seats from "red" to "blue". That, by way of contrast with Republicans who are looking at just two states (Nevada and Georgia), where they stand any real chance, generally speaking, of flipping a Senate seat from "blue" to "red" this year --- at least if you have any confidence in this year's pre-election polling.

Finally...

Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, underscoring, yet again, the stakes of this year's critical midterms following the devastation of Hurricane Ian in Florida; consequences of our worsening climate crisis around the world; and the Governor of California's new effort to hold Big Oil accountable for price gouging...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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