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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, February 21, 2024
Wisconsin's Decade-Long Un-Democracy Finally Undone. (Almost.): 'BradCast' 2/20/24
Guest: WI's John Nichols of 'The Nation'; Also: 2020 Team Trump attorneys lose again at SCOTUS; And a word on the 'victims' of Trump's decades-long NY real estate fraud...
'Green News Report' 2/20/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Record ocean heat decimating FL's coral reefs; Plastics industry's 50-year recycling scam; PLUS: Nearly half of world's migratory species in decline, U.N. study finds...
Previous GNRs: 2/15/24 - 2/13/24 - Archives...
After Navalny:
'BradCast' 2/19/24
Also: Massive election fraud alleged in Pakistan; Final death blow for GOP fraudsters' phony election fraud film, '2000 Mules'...
Sunday 'Partying With Putin' Toons
Can someone let Tucker know that Vlad got another one? It's our latest collection of the week's best toons...
In Memoriam: Alexei Navalny (1976-2024)
So, remind me again how wonderful Vladimir Putin is...
Guns Again, Trump as Ever, Media Failure and the Way Forward: 'BradCast' 2/15/24
Also: Special Counsel probing Hunter Biden indicts informant who lied about 'bribes' to the Bidens from a Ukrainian energy company...
'Green News Report' 2/15/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Mysterious oil spill in Trinidad and Tobago; Big changes as Greenland gets greener; Wildfires reversing hard-won gains against air pollution; PLUS: Climate change comes for chocolate...
Previous GNRs: 2/13/24 - 2/8/24 - Archives...
New Chesebro Docs Detail Trump's Failed 2020 'Legal Coup': 'BradCast' 2/14/24
Guest: TPM's Josh Kovensky; Also: Another huge night for Dems in NY, PA; WI gets closer to fair maps; MI 'fake elector' says GOP lied...
Stewart Return to 'Daily Show' Not a Moment Too Soon!: 'BradCast' 2/13/24
Also: GOP takes mulligan on Mayorkas impeachment; Sen. passes Ukraine bill; Media's epic fail on Hur's obnoxious vindication of Biden in classified docs probe...
'Green News Report' 2/13/24
Culture shift from fossil fuels in Super Bowl EV ads; Big Oil/Gas spending big on Trump; PLUS: Climate scientist wins $1 million defamation suit against rightwing deniers...
Russia, If You're Listening, Trump Says 'Do Whatever the Hell You Want' to NATO Allies: 'BradCast' 2/12/24
Also: Last week's GOP Caucuses in NV, V.I.; Special Election in NY-3; Callers ring in...
Super Sunday 'Borderline Insanity' Toons
Just a few too many tokes over the line in our latest collection of the week's best toons...
Biden Should Federalize TX National Guard Amid State's Defiance of SCOTUS Order
POTUS must address, expose 'moral crisis' of GOP hypocrisy, cruelty, dehumanizing anti-immigrant propaganda...
'Green News Report' 2/8/24
EPA cracks down on deadly soot pollution; January was hottest ever recorded on Planet Earth; PLUS: Hurricanes are getting so intense, scientists propose a 'Category 6'...
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...


Longtime, very conservative federal judge warns GOP planning to steal 2024; Where the hell is Transnistria and why does it matter in Putin's war?; Biden asks Congress for $33 billion to help arm Ukraine...
By Brad Friedman on 4/28/2022 6:33pm PT  

When we've got to turn to our Green News Report on any given BradCast for some good news, it's probably a fairly grim BradCast, as is the case today. Still, it includes a lot of stuff that you need to know about. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, a very conservative, well-respected and longtime federal appellate court judge has issued a stark warning about what he describes as "The Republican blueprint to steal the 2024 election." Again, this is from a very conservative Republican-appointed federal judge who then VP Mike Pence turned to for advice before January 6th, 2021 to learn if it would be legal for him to unilaterally reject the 2020 Electoral College results as Team Trump advocated for under a rag-tag opportunistic combination of several arcane and century-old laws and untested Constitutional theories.

In his must-understand opinion piece at CNN, Judge J. Michael Luttig explains why Republicans are now "obsessed about making the 2024 race a referendum on the 'stolen' election of 2020, which even they know was not stolen." But, as Luttig warns, their "objective is not somehow to rescind the 2020 election, as they would have us believe. That's constitutionally impossible. Trump's and the Republicans' far more ambitious objective is to execute successfully in 2024 the very same plan they failed in executing in 2020 and to overturn the 2024 election if Trump or his anointed successor loses again in the next quadrennial contest."

"The last presidential election," he warns, "was a dry run for the next." He goes on to explain what the "independent state legislature" doctrine is and why you should become very aware of its meaning, sooner, rather than later, before its adopted as a legitimate thing by the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court (which Luttig was twice considered for, by the way, by George W. Bush.)

"Forewarned is to be forearmed," Luttig correctly argues. We try to help with both today.

Next, in a similar vein, we discuss what Russia --- now regrouping its forces in the south and east of Ukraine --- may be planning next. If you've heard of a place called "Transnistria" in recent days, and wondered where and what the hell it is, we help explain where that is and why it (may) matter to what happens next in Putin's horrific ongoing attack on its sovereign neighbor.

And, toward that end, at the White House today, President Biden offered remarks to explain his request for $33 billion from Congress to help further arm Ukraine to defend itself against Russia's onslaught and provide much-needed humanitarian aid at the same time. We share his remarks on that, and discuss why the aid is so vitally important right now, as peace talks appear all but stalled out and as Russian media and military are beginning to frame the conflict as an existential "holy war."

Finally, Desi Doyen leads our latest Green News Report, with more on Russia's (ill-considered) gambit to use fossil fuels as a weapon of blackmail against NATO nations; 'unprecedented' water restrictions in Southern California; record-breaking heat in South Asia; and, mercifully, some very good news on Ford's not-a-moment-too-soon unveiling of their new, all-electric, F-150 pickup truck...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Redistricting expert, author David Daley; Also: Did you hear Republicans tried to 'unwind' the 2020 Presidential election?...
By Brad Friedman on 4/27/2022 6:43pm PT  

As midterm primary elections begin in earnest next month, today on The BradCast, we catch up with the latest successful attempts by GOP states to undermine their constituents' wishes through new, partisan gerrymanders following the 2020 Census and the Courts which are helping them do so. In the meantime, a Democratic-leaning court in New York today did the opposite, blocking a Dems from gerrymandering in the Empire State. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Before we're joined by our guest to discuss all of that and more today, just a quick kudos to Rebecca Beitsch at The Hill for coming up with a new euphemism --- or, at least, one we haven't seen used yet by the rest of the corporate media --- to report on new evidence documenting the failed Trump/GOP attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election. It's getting more difficult by the day to do so without using the correct word, "steal", when doing so. Sure, anyone can describe the GOP's attempt to "undermine" or "overturn" or "question the results". But that gets stale after a while. So, congrats to Beitsch for reporting on their attempt to "UNWIND the 2020 election", just to freshen things up! <insert eyeroll emoji here>

Then, we're joined today by redistricting expert and author DAVID DALEY, Senior Fellow at FairVote, to get caught up on a whole bunch of recent court rulings (and outrages) from over the past week or three when it comes to the last minute efforts --- largely by Republican-controlled states --- to game the 2022 midterms (and elections for the next ten years), with outrageously partisan gerrymandering of U.S. House maps.

Daley walks us through a number of such cases, including in several states where, over the past decade, large majorities of voters have adopted ballot initiatives to prevent the very gerrymandering that Republicans appear to be getting away with, nonetheless, in their newly redistricted maps.

In Ohio, the GOP-majority Redistricting Commission has had its new maps rejected four different times in recent weeks by the state's Supreme Court, with the help of its Republican Chief Justice. Despite being ordered by the court to follow the state's Constitution --- which now requires districts that generally reflect the partisan balance of the closely divided, if GOP-leaning state --- Republican Commissioners (which include state Gov. Mike DeWine, whose son sits on the state Supreme Court but refuses to recuse) aren't even trying anymore. With primaries scheduled for next month in the Buckeye State, the Commission is "just not meeting" anymore at all, says Daley. "They're trying to run out the clock so the federal court imposes one of the unconstitutional maps that has already been rejected by Ohio's state Supreme Court."

The state's previous gerrymandered map gave the GOP a 12 to 4 advantage in U.S. House districts. The new ones, repeatedly rejected by the state court, would give them a 13 to 2 advantage, despite the roughly 53-45% partisan split in the 2020 Presidential election and a 2015 mandate from more than 70% of voters rewriting the state Constitution to ensure new maps reflect the statewide partisan makeup.

In Florida, where voters also voted for redistricting reform, things are even more obnoxious and anti-democratic. The GOP-controlled legislature produced a map giving Republicans a 16 to 12 advantage, but it was rejected by Governor and Presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis for his own hand-drawn map that is likely to result in 20 Republican House seats and just 8 Democratic ones. State Republicans "already produced a pretty good Republican gerrymander," Daley explains, "and DeSantis said, 'Wait a second, I can do even better than that.'" With the state's high court packed with his own appointees, Daley warns, "that is not a Supreme Court that we should look to for any sort of help when it comes to fair maps."

Back in 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that federal courts may play no role in preventing partisan redistricting, leaving the matter the chaos of each individual state court to decide. But on the matter of racial gerrymandering, SCOTUS is still happy to tell states what they can and can't do, even when the High Court's own rulings disagree with each other.

Daley explains how SCOTUS jumped in, back in February, months before the primaries, to block a new black-majority district ordered in Alabama by a lower federal court under the Voting Rights Act because. The Supremes, on the stolen and packed Court, determined it was just too soon before the primary election to draw up a new map. But late last month, after the Wisconsin Supreme Court approved a new state legislative map drawn by the state's Democratic Governor, SCOTUS ordered the state to rewrite the map, just weeks before the primaries, to remove a new black legislative district created in Milwaukee.

"The US Supreme Court has been eager this cycle to help Republicans and to put their foot on the scale against Democrats," Daley charges, describing their rulings as "Heads I win, tails you lose. They're not even pretending anymore."

And then we get to New York, where it was Democrats' turn to face the music for gerrymandering the state's U.S. House map to add three new likely Democratic U.S. House seats. Today, mid-show, NY's high court blocked the map (appropriately, as Daley sees it), ordering a court-appointed Special Master to draw up new maps in time for this year's primary (which the court also postponed until August to allow time to create the new maps.)

Last week, Daley, a longtime proponent of fair maps in all fifty states, wrote at CNN about what he saw as the "indefensible" map drawn up by NY Dems, describing it as "among the most obscene partisan gerrymanders nationwide." NY courts clearly agreed, but even Daley's own opinion article seemed to make the case for what Democrats tried --- but failed --- to do.

"If blue state courts roll back Democratic gerrymanders, but red state judges rule as partisan ideologues, a pro-GOP bias will be baked into the national map for another decade," he wrote. "A maximally gerrymandered national congressional map is...bad in nearly every way except, perhaps, compared with the previous decade's map, rigged so Republicans held control in 2012 even when they won 1.4 million fewer votes."

As regular listeners and readers know, over the past year I've (regrettably) changed my position on partisan gerrymandering, given the gaming of the system by Republicans which has succeeded in endangering America's small-'d' democratic project entirely. Short of federal legislation to ban partisan redistricting everywhere (an effort by Dems that was blocked by all Senate Republicans last year), I've been calling on states controlled by Democrats to gerrymander wherever possible. I hate that position. It's bad for many voters in the states but, ultimately, important for something resembling democracy on the national level at a time when democracy is facing a serious challenge from the forces of authoritarianism.

But Daley disagrees with. At least in as much as he has argued that such an effort could never be successful. "A national map that has been rigged for one side to win is extraordinarily dangerous, especially when one party has completely broken faith with democracy," he tells me as we debate this point again today. "Gerrymandering the hell out of Illinois and New York doesn't save democracy. It doesn't give Democrats that much of a leg up on fixing this. It is a band-aid, when what you need is a tourniquet. It's not sufficient. By all means, go ahead and put a band-aid on, but don't think it's going to stop the bleeding."

"I'm calling for a national standard that fixes the problem in New York as well as in Texas," he argues (as do I). "Because there are not enough New Yorks to balance out the Texases and Floridas. Democrats can gerrymander the hell out of these states if they want, but it's not going to help them. What they need to do is fix the overall structural problem, or it's only going to get worse."

Prepare for it to get worse...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest host Nicole Sandler w/ Tulane Law's Amy Gajda and Tanya in Kyiv...
By Nicole Sandler on 4/15/2022 2:23pm PT  

It's your friendly, reliable guest host NICOLE SANDLER in for Brad and Desi today on The BradCast, as they begin a much-needed Spring Break. We've got some news of the day as usual, along with two timely guests for your listening pleasure. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

First, however, a few quick news items of the day. Among them: Ukraine's sinking of the Moskva, Russia's flagship in its Black Sea war fleet; and new anti-abortion laws being quickly enacted by GOP states in anticipation of this summer's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that may well end or, at least, severely restrict 1973's landmark Roe v. Wade precedent and its right to privacy for women seeking reproductive care.

Next, my conversation this week with my friend TANYA in Ukraine. I met her six weeks ago as Putin's war began, when I cold called the Friends Forever Hostel in Kyiv. We've been communicating ever since via text message. And, this week, we connected for the first time via video with Zoom. I'll share some of that conversation on today's program.

Finally, my discussion with AMY GAJDA, former journalist turned Tulane University Professor of Law and an expert on privacy and the media. We discuss her new book Seek and Hide: The Tangled History of the Right to Privacy on what is clearly an important topic these days.

Enjoy!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Political scientist David Faris; Also: Finland, Sweden may join NATO in 'weeks'; Listeners on Trump corruption, Thomas impeachment...
By Brad Friedman on 4/13/2022 7:04pm PT  

We repeatedly advised, back in 2016, that voters should ignore the so-called Conventional Wisdom heard from so-called "experts" and TV pundits at the time who insisted, over and again, there was no way Donald Trump could ever become President. Today on The BradCast we've got many more such reasons why Americans should similarly ignore Conventional Wisdom in these times which have proven to be anything but conventional. [Audio link to full story is posted below this summary..]

First, a little over a month ago, the Conventional Wisdom was that Russia's powerful military would quickly take over Ukraine within days, that NATO would likely have trouble uniting in their response, and that the entire organization itself could be on precarious grounds. Not only did all of that Conventional Wisdom prove to be wrong, but on Wednesday, Finland and Sweden, which have remained neutral for decades (if not centuries, in Sweden's case) announced they are very seriously considering joining the Western military alliance, perhaps as soon as in the coming weeks, after witnessing what happened to Ukraine. Yes, contrary to Conventional Wisdom, NATO may end up stronger and even larger than it has been in years.

In other Conventional Wisdom worth ignoring today, we are being told that Democrats are going to take a shellacking in this November's elections and are likely to lose their majorities in both the U.S. House and Senate in the bargain. Conventional Wisdom has it that the party in power before the midterms, especially with an unpopular President in the White House, pays a big price in those election years. Of course, that may well prove to be the case. But, as noted, these are not conventional times. Moreover, this year's elections are far more than a contest between Democrats and Republicans. They are no less than a contest between Democracy and Authoritarianism.

We're joined today by Roosevelt University political scientist DAVID FARIS, author of It's Time to Fight Dirty: How Democrats Can Build a Lasting Majority in American Politics and The Kids Are All Left: How Young Voters Will Unite America.

He recently penned a column at The Week, where he is a regular contributor, headlined "Democrats could still win in November. No, really." Really? Yes, really. Faris joins us to discuss how he believes it's still possible that Democratic candidates and President Biden can still take action to, at the very least, hold on to the U.S. Senate this fall and why, as he notes in the conclusion of his article, "it is still possible to squint and see a winning environment for Democrats this November."

His recommendations include, among other things we discuss today, Biden's use of his executive power to exercise the Defense Production Act; to take on corporate price-gouging and monopolies; and to combat Big Oil profiteering. Next, he explains how Democrats must turn the Right's idiotic (if effective) culture war --- banning books, threatening teachers who discuss race and gender, making abortion illegal --- against them, by boldly and aggressively taking on "radical Republican authoritarianism". And, yes, Dems need to loudly describe it as such.

"The stakes of these midterm elections are extraordinarily high," Faris explains, "because the Republican Party is like a proto-authoritarian cult. And every time that they are up for power, it could be the last free election that we have, as we currently understand them. And as long as that iteration of the Republican Party is what it is, every single national election that we hold here in the United States will have extraordinarily high stakes, because the Republicans are telling us exactly what they plan to do with their power."

"What we have to do is go on the offensive on some of these things. We have to identify the pieces of these culture war items, the panic of the day, most of which is not popular at all. The public does not support silencing public school teachers. People like teachers. The public does not support NOT teaching about slavery. The public does not support book banning."

"What's happening in Republican states is a comprehensive assault on human liberty," he argues. "These laws where you have people informing on one another --- cut an ad with what they did in East Germany. They had the Stasi, had people turn on each other and turn each other in. That's what this stuff is. It's authoritarian attempts to insinuate the Republican Party's priorities into our private lives and into our relationships with our fellow citizens, all in the service of creating this authoritarian dystopia where women are deprived of their rights and LGBTQ people are put back into their place."

He goes on to note that Dems may get some help from the Supreme Court between now and November, as the GOP's stolen and packed SCOTUS majority appears ready to turn back the clock on reproductive rights. "It will be a dark day in the United States when I think the Supreme Court overturns 'Roe v. Wade' sometime this summer. And this is a terrible tragedy that will impact the lives of many millions of women. It's just the first step in a path to gender tyranny, gender apartheid. It's a dark vision that they have for this country. But it could scramble the whole political landscape in this country in ways that we simply cannot anticipate right now."

The alternative to Dems shaking of their malaise and going on the bold offensive is detailed in Faris' more recent piece at The Week, headlined "Countdown to the Democrats' doomsday." That one persuasively explains how, by 2024, Republicans could end up winning a majority trifecta in D.C., with control of the White House, House of Representatives and, yes, even a filibuster-proof majority in the U.S. Senate.

So, yeah. It's time to ignore the Conventional Wisdom and get busy to help save this country and democracy itself. The alternative should be too grim by now to even contemplate. (Or, it would be, if the progressive side of the aisle had a media machine even close to what now exists on the Right.)

Finally, some listener mail (we got a lot of it!) in response to Monday's show with The Nation's John Nichols, in which we discussed accountability for the Trump Crime Family and the need to impeach the corrupt far-right active Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Brooklyn subway shooting; NY Lt. Gov. indicted; What you don't know about inflation; Biden taps ethanol to further lower gas prices...
By Brad Friedman on 4/12/2022 7:22pm PT  

We've got a very busy and eclectic BradCast for you today. For good or ill. You'll decide. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

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

  • Another mass shooting today, this time in a crowded subway train in Brooklyn. At least 10 were shot and 17 injured. Reportedly, however, even with 5 victims said to be in critical condition, authorities say none of the injuries are life-threatening. The gunman, wearing a gasmask and releasing smoke bombs to add to the nightmarish chaos, appears to have used a semi-automatic handgun with several large magazines and was only stopped, after at least 33 shots, when one of the cartridges is believed to have jammed. The suspect was still on the run as of airtime.
  • Also in New York, recently-minted Democratic Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin was arrested and indicted on several federal felony charges related to bribery, fraud and falsification of records on Tuesday, in an alleged scheme during his time as a state Senator involving campaign payoffs from a real estate developer (who was previously arrested, but is not Donald Trump). Among the records Benjamin is said to have falsified are the vetting documents used by Gov. Kathy Hochul when selecting him for the job of Lt. Gov. after she ascended from that job in the wake of the resignation of the previous Democratic Governor, the scandal-plagued Andrew Cuomo. Benjamin resigned late today. But getting him off the June primary ballot, where he was set to run for election against two other Democrats, is a different matter.
  • You may have heard today via screaming headlines that new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on finds inflation in March was at 8.5% over the past year. It is the highest rate since December of 1981 when that failed, one-term President Ronald Reagan was in the final month of his first year in office. There's probably a bunch of other stuff you haven't heard today beyond the screaming "Inflation hits 40-year high!" headlines from our corporate media. We help you understand some of that stuff.
  • President Joe Biden's recent action to release a million barrels of oil a day, for the next six months from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve immediately helped to lower gas prices at the pump. They've been falling pretty much every day since that unprecedented move, though they remain high thanks to Russia's war in Ukraine and the oil industry's continued profiteering. Today, in a bid to further lower gas prices, Biden announced a plan to waive the ban on summer use of E15 gasoline, which contains a 15% ethanol blend. Desi Doyen helps us make sense of that news and why it is both good and bad.
  • Last week, following a months-long investigation, Arizona's very MAGA, vote-suppressing Attorney General Mark Brnovich, finally released a report [PDF] on his probe of allegations of fraud in Maricopa County (Phoenix)'s 2020 Presidential election. That probe was requested by the very MAGA state Senate after the exceedingly MAGA Cyber Ninjas failed to find any evidence of fraud in their own months-long so-called "audit" in the state's largest county, where Joe Biden won by some 45,000 votes, delivering the state to a Democrat for the first time in decades.

    As it turns out, Brnovich failed to uncover any evidence of fraud or any other crimes, though he did pretend to find "serious vulnerabilities" in the County's elections procedures. But those "serious vulnerabilities", according to the Chair of the County's Republican Board of Supervisors, the County's Republican Controller (its chief election official, who won his position during the same 2020 election), the County's former Democratic Controller (who lost that year), and the state's Democratic Sec. of State are all calling out Brnovich for a BS report that fails to find any evidence of any problems in the election at all, even while using words that help Fox "News" and the losing former President and all his MAGA friends pretend that he did. (Brnovich is in a contested primary race for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination, after all.)

    We let you know what Brnovich actually found (and didn't), even if none of it prevented the MAGA state Senate President who helped kick off all this madness from from claiming the report finds "fraud" (it doesn't) or one of the most rightwing MAGA state Senators from taking to her Twitter account in response to the report to call it "flaccid" and to insist that "WE WANT ARRESTS NOW." --- For what exactly? That part remains unclear. It may take a few more months or years and more millions of dollars of tax-payer money spent by "conservatives" in the state to get to the bottom of it.

  • Finally, Desi Doyen brings our latest Green News Report with some troubling new news on methane and climate change, as well as microplastics now being found in human blood and lungs. But she's got some better news on new mileage standards from Biden's Dept. of Transportation and on the electrification of tens of thousands of government vehicles and school buses in Los Angeles and Boston...

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Guest: John Nichols of The Nation; Also: State Dept. has no records of gifts to Trump; Don Jr. plotted to steal 2020 two days after the election...
By Brad Friedman on 4/11/2022 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The corruption never ends and will only get far worse until someone finally faces accountability. Whether it's Donald Trump for his unspeakable corruption and attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election or Justice Clarence Thomas, whose corruption has been well-documented for decades now, as he appears to have joined the effort to help Trump steal that election --- or, at the very least, avoid accountability for trying. Thomas needs to be impeached, argues our guest today, or we might as well put our Constitution "through the shredder." [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

As to Trump's unspeakable corruption, yes, we are still learning about much more of it. As TPM reported over the weekend, apparently the State Department is now reporting they have no records of gifts given to Trump (or Vice President Mike Pence and other Administration members) by foreign leaders during Trump's final year in office. Worse, according to the State Dept.'s report, the Office of the Chief of Protocol's Gift Unit reports no records of any gifts at all from January 20, 2017 (the day Trump took office) until the end of his first failed term in January of 2020. No record of what the President of the United States received from Foreign Leaders?! Um, that's not good.

We've come to expect this kind of grotesque corruption from Trump and his family members. So, it shouldn't come as a surprise to learn over the weekend, as we did via CNN, that Don Jr. was texting then White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows just two days after Election Day in November of 2020 --- before the race had even been called or all of its votes tallied --- to detail one way after another that the election could and should be stolen for his father. "We control them all," Don Jr. told Meadows, while describing the way that state legislatures or Congress, or even the judiciary could help steal the election before Team Trump even knew for certain they had lost. "We have operational control Total leverage....POTUS must start 2nd term now," Trump Sr.'s corrupt son instructed the White House Chief of Staff on November 5th, 2020, according to messages obtained by the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection.

It's troubling enough that the man and his party who are planning to steal the 2024 election, if necessary, have yet to be held to account. It is no less troubling that at least one member of the U.S. Supreme Court is corrupt enough to help them. Outrage over Ginni Thomas, the far-right activist wife of far-right activist Justice Clarence Thomas, having texted Meadows dozens of times after the election, encouraging the Administration to steal the election for Trump, faded quickly after it was initially reported just over two weeks ago by the Washington Post's Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. Sure, there is a war in Europe and Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars, but a corrupt sitting Supreme Court Justice --- willing to be the lone dissenting vote to potentially keep his own wife's text messages out of the hands of House J6 Committee is impeachment-worthy, according to my guest today, JOHN NICHOLS, National Affairs Correspondent for The Nation.

The news about corruption of Clarence and Ginni is just the latest apparent law-breaking by the couple. We've been reporting on it for more than a decade. So has Nichols, who tells me he reported on conflicts of interest regarding Ginni's far-right activism 22 years ago. "Ginni Thomas was already working with the Bush-Cheney Administration at the same time that Clarence Thomas joined in that closely divided decision to close down [the 2000 Presidential] recount," he notes today. "So this woman has a quarter century of engagement in politics in a way that should not only have led to recusals by her husband, but ultimately, when he didn't recuse, should have led to his removal from the Supreme Court."

But enough is enough. And it would nice if both the corporate media (which has largely ignored this matter) and elected Democrats (who have tepidly called for Thomas to recuse himself from 2020-related cases) starting doing something about it. "We have reached that point," Nichols argues, when asked if Justice Thomas needs to be held to account for "seri­ous ethical or crim­inal miscon­duct" after the House Select Committee gathered evidence of his wife's texts to the White House Chief of Staff. "Trump tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election in what can accurately be referred to only as a coup attempt. And he sought to hold office illegally. That is a coup. When you are investigating something of that consequence, if there is even the slightest possibility that a member of the U.S. Supreme Court used his position to try to undermine or limit that investigation --- because his wife was a co-conspirator, because his political allies were involved in the issue --- that has to be investigated. It is best investigated, in my opinion, in an impeachment inquiry."

"We're having a discussion about recusal at this point for Clarence Thomas? This is absurd!," Nichols insists. "This guy isn't going to recuse. He's made it absolutely clear. This is like saying, 'At the very least, Jesse James should recuse himself from robbing banks.' The crime has already been committed! The notion that we would now say 'Oh, he should recuse himself going forward' doesn't get to the heart of the matter, and it doesn't get to the reality. The only option we have in this case is impeachment."

But, of course, even if Democrats in the House stepped up to do the right thing, Mitch McConnell and the Republicans would never remove Thomas from the High Court, right? "For those who say, 'Oh, we can't do that because Mitch McConnell might not let us,' then you might as well take the Constitution out of the National Archives and put it through the shredder. What's the point of having an impeachment power if you don't use it in a moment like this?"

Good argument. And we've got much more along those lines with Nichols today, including some of his thoughts on the huge hole left behind in the progressive media following last week's tragic loss of longtime media critic Eric Boehlert, and on whether he believes Attorney Merrick Garland and the DoJ are taking the appropriate steps to hold Trump and the rest of his cabal to account for their part in the insurrection (as discussed last Thursday on this show with former federal prosecutor Randall Eliason) and the broader attempt to steal a Presidential election before our very eyes...

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Guest Host Nicole Sandler with science author Eugene Linden...
By Nicole Sandler on 4/8/2022 4:59pm PT  

It's NICOLE SANDLER back today on The BradCast, filling in for Brad and Desi.

After recapping the celebration of Ketanji Brown Jackson's confirmation as the next Justice of the Supreme Court on the south lawn of the White House today and a look at the rest of the day's news, we jumped into the flood waters of our climate crisis.

EUGENE LINDEN is an award-winning journalist and author who deals with science, nature and the environment. His last book on climate change, Winds of Change, explored the connection between climate change and the rise and fall of civilizations.

His new book, released this week, is called Fire and Flood: A People's History of Climate Change, from 1979 to the Present. Along with the history of climate change, Linden points a big finger at the insurance industry for encouraging people to move to high risk areas.

He tells me there is a path back from the cliff, but we need to act now…

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Guest: GW University Law School's Randall D. Eliason; Also: KBJ's historic SCOTUS confirmation; Insurrectionist House members facing ballot eligibility challenges in AZ; Trump facing contempt in NY...
By Brad Friedman on 4/7/2022 5:34pm PT  

A bad day for Donald Trump is generally a good day for America. Today on The BradCast (after horrible and tragic news unexpectedly swept over our show yesterday), it's one of those days. And, if our guest, a former federal prosecutor is correct, there may well be many more such bad days ahead for our disgraced former President. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

FIRST, history was made toward "a more perfect union" on Thursday when the U.S. Senate voted 53 to 47 to confirm Joe Biden's nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson, as the nation's first black female Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. She will officially be sworn in and seated in July, at the end of the Court's current term, when Justice Stephen Breyer officially resigns.

SECOND, three more 2022 ballot eligibility challenges were filed today against three more Republican insurrectionists, courtesy of good government group Free Speech for People, this time on behalf of voters in Arizona against Congressmen Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs, as well as AZ State Rep. Mark Finchem, the Trump-endorsed candidate for Secretary of State. The new Constitutional challenges follow on similar ones currently being litigated against Rep. Madison Cawthorn in North Carolina and Marjorie Taylor Greene in Georgia. All are based on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment which bars those from holding office who have sworn an oath to support the Constitution, before subsequently, as per 14.3, having “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof."

THIRD, yet more good news today, as New York Attorney General Letitia James asked a state Court to hold Donald Trump in civil contempt for refusing to comply with a court order to turn over documents, as part of her investigation into bank, tax, and insurance fraud by the former President and his family members, Ivanka and Don Jr. Shortly after that court filing on Thursday, Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg told CNN that his criminal probe into many of the same matters is "very much ongoing," despite the two lead prosecutors in the years-long probe recently resigning after charging that Bragg was not willing to move forward with indictments against Trump.

THEN, we get to our guest today, who may --- depending on how you look at it --- have the best news of all for those hoping to see actual federal prison time for the disgraced former President. It could take a while, but he's here to tell us today that U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland's investigation of the January 6th insurrection is proceeding in precisely the way he would expect it to proceed if, in fact, the AG was investigating possible criminal indictments of Trump for his part in inciting the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Writing at Washington Post late last week, RANDALL D. ELIASON, a former Asst. U.S. Attorney in D.C., where he served as Chief of the Public Corruption/Government fraud section, argued that legal critics of Garland, mostly on the left, are wrong. He sees progress by the Department as moving "impressively fast" and "unfolding at an increasingly rapid clip" just over one year into the investigation. (Eliason penned a similar argument late last year at WaPo.)

To date, independent investigative journalist Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel has made one of the loudest cases, in the face of skeptics, that Garland is, indeed, working his way up the legal food chain toward Trump in the DoJ's huge investigation of the J6 insurrection. (She's joined us on the show a number of times in recent months to argue as much.) Today, Eliason says he believes she's absolutely right.

"There's this huge debate on Twitter and elsewhere, whether Garland's doing nothing at all or whether this is just what we should expect [if working toward a potential Trump indictment]. I agree with Marcy Wheeler here that this is exactly what we should expect," he tells me. "The signs are this is in fact what's happening."

"The alternative is you rush, you put together a case without doing it properly just to bring some charges, and you lose. You don't want to bring a half-baked case in something that's this significant or this important. If you're going to bring a case at all, you've got to do it properly."

"Garland's role here is to not be swayed by political pressures, but to take the case wherever the facts and the law lead them, as he said. Which, to me, appears to be exactly what he's doing," argues Eliason, who now teaches white collar criminal law at George Washington University Law School in D.C. "And the suggestions, frankly, from some of the critics, that Biden should replace him, or fire him, or lean on him to do something --- that's exactly what everybody was outraged about when Trump and Barr were doing it. That kind of politicization of the Justice Department --- the idea that Biden should lean on Garland or fire him because he's not moving fast enough --- is the exact opposite of what we want. And the exact opposite of what Biden and Garland promised to do to get away from the Trump era, where Bill Barr was running around and doing favors for Trump cronies, interfering in the administration of justice, and politicizing the Justice Department. That is the last thing we want."

Eliason speaks to how and if DoJ and the House January 6 Committee may be coordinating their efforts, and why some members of that Committee have recently called on the Departments to do more, faster. He also offers insight on why it may be that Mark Meadows, Trump's last Chief of Staff, has yet to be indicted for Contempt after Congress, after being referred for the charge months ago by the House, even as Steve Bannon was indicted within weeks after a similar referral.

In our broad discussion on these matters, we also discuss the unique time elements involved here, in regard to the possibility that Trump could declare his candidacy to run in 2024; what DoJ guidelines mandate regarding investigations or indictments to close to an election; and whether a federal indictment by Biden's Justice Dept. in such a case would be seen by the former President and his cult-like followers as little more than a political vendetta

There's a lot to tune in for here, particularly if you are a Garland skeptic or frustrated with the pace of his investigation. As Eliason reminds us, the Enron indictments came a full four years after the collapse of the company and their scam was exposed. Even Watergate took at least two years before major charges were brought. We are now just over one year out from what has become the largest probe in DoJ history. By far.

In addition to discussion about Trump accountability for his attempts to try and steal the 2020 election, we also discuss Trump's NY legal threats, and what should be done about corrupt, far-right activist Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas following the recent news that his corrupt, far-right activist wife Ginni was relentlessly texting Meadows in the days following Trump's election loss to encourage the Administration to prevent the peaceful transfer of power to Joe Biden, the winner of the 2020 Presidential election.

FINALLY, Desi Doyen joins us for a bit more accountability talk, this time for Big Oil CEO war profiteers who testified this week in Congress, in our latest Green News Report. Also on the GNR rundown today, Europe's move to ban Russian coal, the EPA's plan to finally ban deadly asbestos and the increasing cost to tax-payers --- in dollars and lives --- of increasing power outages during increasingly powerful climate change-fueled storms...

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Guest: Jeanne Devon of Alaska's Mudflats with all the inside skinny; Also: Zelenskyy chides the U.N. Security Council as evidence of Russian war crimes mount; Three GOP Senators will vote for KBJ...
By Brad Friedman on 4/5/2022 7:03pm PT  

Santa, according to my guest today on The BradCast, is a "democratic socialist". Sarah Palin, on the other hand is...well...Sarah Palin, and she has decided to "un-quit politics." [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Before we get there today, however, a bit more on the grim news coming out of Ukraine this week, as independently documented evidence of horrific war crimes by Russia continues to mount. On Tuesday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the U.N. Security Council from Ukraine and charged that if the U.N. is unable to remove Russia's veto, as a permanent member of the Council, then they might as well dissolve it entirely. He has a point.

Then, before we get to Sarah and Santa...The news that shouldn't be news at all. Three Republican Senators have now announced they intend to vote in favor of Joe Biden's nominee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, perhaps the most qualified jurist every nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court. On Monday night, Utah's Mitt Romney and Alaska's Lisa Murkowski declared they will support Brown's confirmation, joining Maine's Susan Collins who did so last week. None of that should be news at all, but in the Republicans' twisted, hyper-partisanized world, voting for a SCOTUS nominee tapped by a Democratic President apparently it is. During Monday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, South Carolina's Lindsey Graham (who voted for Jackson's appointment to a federal Appeals Court seat just last year, but refuses to vote for her this year) said the quiet part out loud when he declared that if Republicans win back the Senate in November, none of Biden's nominees are likely to be seated to the federal bench.

In other insane GOP Congressional news, Michigan Rep. Fred Upton announced today that he will not seek re-election. He is the fourth of 10 Republican House members who voted in favor of Donald Trump's second impeachment (for inciting the January 6th insurrection) to retire instead of run for re-election.

Meanwhile, way up north in Alaska, more than 40 candidates are now running in the upcoming June Special Election to fill the state's one U.S. House seat, which had been held for 49(!) years by Don Young, the 88-year old Republican Congressman who died suddenly last month.

Donald Trump has chosen his favorite candidate in the race, the one my guest today describes alternately as "The Quitter" and the "former half-term Governor", Sarah Palin. The failed 2008 Vice Presidential candidate is emerging from Alaskan and rightwing media obscurity in hopes of finding relevance again in the far-right wingnut world she helped create during her 2008 run, just before quitting politics halfway through her first term as Alaska's Governor. Palin signed up to run for the Special Election and regular general election primaries --- both to be held on June 11th --- on the final day to qualify, last Friday on April Fools Day. (Seriously.)

We're joined today by one of the nation's foremost Palinologists, JEANNE DEVON, who made a name for herself as "AK Muckraker", helping to introduce Palin to the world in 2008 at her award-winning The Mudflats blog. She has since gone on to co-write a NYTimes best seller, Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin - A Memoir of Our Tumultuous Years, and served as Press Secretary for Alaska's state Senate Democrats and as Communications Director for the state's Democratic Party. (She is currently working with FX to develop a television series based on her book, The Blood of Patriots, which she co-wrote will Bill Fulton about the Alaska militia movement.)

Before we get to Palin and the potentially insane way that Alaska is about to run its Special Election, Devon offers some thoughts on the decades long legacy of the late Don Young who, though "he didn't have that much power anymore" after being stripped of Congressional committee assignments due to "blatant corruption," was still "an institution, and Alaskans like their institutions."

While some in the media have been regarding Palin as the front-runner to fill Young's seat, Devon seems less convinced. "Palin's approval rating and likeability has been underwater since she quit [in 2009.] She is not a popular figure in the state anymore." Devon cites a comment she saw at today one of the "hardcore fringey rightwing" Facebook groups she sometimes drops in on, suggesting those folks do not appear to be fans. "Very hard pass," she reports one commenter as writing, adding "she quit once when the going got tough. And in my mind that defines her entire political career."

A lack of popularity is not all Palin will have to contend with. There are more than 40 candidates running in both the Special and regular primaries, which will be held on the same day. Palin has signed up for both. But in addition to several progressive candidates Devon cites, with impressive resumes and following, she seems most excited about one candidate on the ballot with at least as much "name recognition" as Palin: Santa Claus!

Yes, Claus is "actually a member of the North Pole City Council" and "literally on the ballot". He represents what Devon describes as "one of the most conservative towns in Alaska" and "he is a democratic socialist --- of course --- because he's Santa!"

Devon notes, however, that "Santa Claus has also said he will not run for the next full term. He will just run to finish the end of Don Young's term. Because we are now faced with two elections."

As to those two elections, they will be run under a new scheme in the state. For the first time, anybody who wants to run for office can simply sign up to run, no petition gathering necessary. (Thus, the 40+ candidates!) The top four vote-getters in the primary will then go on to the general election, which will use Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) --- a confusing and difficult to both count and oversee method of voting, allowing voters to rank their choices for the office. (As I explain to Devon, when and if Alaska tires of RCV, as many jurisdictions do after using it, when they discover that neither voters nor candidates understand it, they may wish to look into the simpler Approval Voting method, allowing voters to choose Yes or No for all candidates on the ballot. Easier to understand, to count and to oversee, since computers and centralized counting aren't needed for the complicated math and many rounds of tallying necessary under RCV.)

Of course, Devon has much more insight on what is likely to be a fascinating and/or hilarious race, with both Palin and Clause on the ballot. Additionally, there are six Democrats on the Special Election ballot. Among them, she cites "Christopher Constant, who was the first openly gay person to be elected to the Anchorage Assembly --- and remember, Anchorage is half the population of the state. Then there is Mary Peltola, who long ago served 12 years in the legislature. She's an amazing Native leader who is also an expert in fisheries, which is important up here. And there's a sitting legislator from Fairbanks named Adam Wool. So all of these are Democrats who could certainly fill that slot."

She also has some thoughts to share on Sen. Murkowski, who is up for re-election this year as a Republican --- after voting to remove Trump from office in his second impeachment and declaring her support for Ketanji Brown Jackson this week. Will that doom her chances of re-election? Tune in to find out what Devon has to say about that race --- which will also be run as a top-four primary contest with an RCV general, in a state which has a history of plenty of election and tabulation controversy in recent years.

Finally, after that amusing segment, Desi Doyen joins us to ruin all the fun, as usual, with our latest Green News Report, including special coverage of the U.N. IPCC's latest report warning that Planet Earth is likely to blow past the climate targets set by the Paris Climate Accord, even though, as the scientists note in their report, it is still not too late for the nations of the world to institute mitigation efforts to avoid catastrophic global warming in our all-too-near future...

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Guest: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern of Slate; Also: Major new study confirms Ivermectin ineffective as COVID treatment...
By Brad Friedman on 3/30/2022 7:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast, one of our favorite guests is back to explain why the wildly corrupt Thomases, as horrible as they are, may be one of the least of our concerns when it comes to what the rest of the GOP's wildly corrupt --- not to mention stolen and packed --- U.S. Supreme Court may now be moving toward.[Audio link to full, must-listen show is posted below.]

First up, however, a major new, peer-reviewed, double-blind study released in full today, finds what many have been trying to make clear for quite some time: There is no legitimate evidence that the anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin, most commonly used to de-worm horses, has any positive effect as a treatment for COVID.

In fact, as one part of the huge new Brazilian study found, placebo pills were actually more effective than Ivermectin! Dr. Andrew Hill, a virologist at the University of Liverpool in England, whose early analysis (since retracted) of several smaller studies (at least one of which appears to have been fraudulent) was frequently cited for evidence of the drug's effectiveness, appears now to concur that the new Brazilian study pretty much removes all doubt. Ivermectin is of no use in treating COVID. We now have a pretty large body of evidence demonstrating that is true no matter what clownish TV doctors and profiteers and misinformation specialists on Fox "News" or Joe Rogan's podcast have to say about it.

That said, there are safe and effective (and free) ways to avoid the worst effects of COVID, which peer-reviewed studies have confirmed. They include the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. Actual professional virologists, epidemiologists and both the CDC and FDA strongly recommend them, as do we. Earlier this week the FDA authorized a second booster shot for anyone over 50 who hasn't received a shot in the past four months. Please get one and let's end this goddamn pandemic once and for all. Thanks.

On to our main topic(s) today, as we're joined by the always great, always illuminating, and pretty much always-right-about-everything MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist from Slate.com who smartly covers the law, the court system, the U.S. Supreme Court, election law, LGBTQ issues and much more.

We've got just a few things to discuss with Stern today, including the ridiculous Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings last week for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Joe Biden's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, where she would be its first black female Justice. On Wednesday, it was actually news for some reason that one Senate Republican has announced she will vote for Jackson's confirmation. But, beyond the childish stupidity of Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee last week falsely suggesting that Jackson is somehow in favor of child porn and terrorists, there was something else far more disturbing that emerged from the GOP questioning of Biden's highly qualified nominee.

In short: Republicans aren't just targeting Roe v. Wade's well-established right to an abortion (which the Supreme Court is very likely to overturn within the next few months), but they actually appear to be gunning to reverse a whole bunch of landmark, privacy-related rights, including Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark 2015 ruling establishing a Constitutional right to same sex marriage equality. But that's not all. Also now in their sites for reversal are Griswold v. Connecticut (1965, establishing the right for married couples to buy and use contraceptives) and, yes, even Loving v. Virginia (1967's landmark civil rights decision establishing the right to interracial marriage)!

Think these concerns are exaggerated? That Republicans aren't actually gunning for those federal rights as well? Tune in and find out if you're wrong.

Also, as we discuss, Stern now believes it is unlikely that Republicans will ever vote to confirm another Supreme Court Justice nominated by a Democratic President if they regain majority control of the Senate. He further believes they will stop confirming the President's nominees for any judgeship on the federal bench.

"It is very clear now that Republicans begin from the position that Democratic Presidents have no authority and no right to appoint Supreme Court Justices, or to appoint lower court judges. This is following a longstanding pattern in the Senate of Republicans almost uniformly --- or all uniformly --- voting against nominees to the lower court, including many who are super-qualified and uncontroversial," Stern observes. "We have swung back and forth between close confirmation votes and big overwhelming lopsided confirmation votes, but I fear that this is how it will be forevermore."

While those issues would be more than enough to fill an entire interview, it's not even half of what we cover with Stern today, including his thoughts on the wildly corrupt longtime rightwing activist Ginni Thomas and her husband, the wildly corrupt longtime rightwing activist Justice Clarence Thomas. The conversation follows on last week's explosive revelations that Ginni was relentlessly texting Donald Trump's Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in November of 2020, urging him to fight to reverse the results of Joe Biden's election victory, in hopes of overturning American democracy itself.

Given that Clarence was the only vote on the High Court in favor of blocking subpoenaed documents from the Trump White House, which might have included emails and text from Ginni, from being turned over by the National Archives to the U.S. House January 6 Committee, Stern believes this matter is now like nothing we have ever seen at SCOTUS.

"This may feel like the latest in a long line of atrocious conflicts of interest and injustices that Clarence and Ginni Thomas have inflicted on the country, but it is materially different, because we have never before seen a case where Clarence Thomas' vote so directly implicates his wife's work," Stern argues. After I note another such case --- where Ginni received hundreds of thousands of dollars in dark money for her so-called non-partisan non-profits following Clarence's vote in the 2010 Citizens United case (after that very same group, Citizens United, had quietly spent hundreds of thousands to help push through Clarence's controversial confirmation in 1991!), Stern notes that it "looks to the world, quite reasonably, like a husband trying to shield his wife from legal scrutiny. I think that is a huge leap forward in this story. This is different in kind, not just degree." He adds: "I think it's helpful to draw this distinction between votes that benefit a spouse and votes that shield them from a criminal probe."

So what should be done about the Thomases? Tune in for Stern's thoughts (and mine!) for a very lively conversation on that.

But wait, there's more! You may have heard about last week's outrageous "shadow docket" decision by the Court that put on hold a ruling by Wisconsin's Supreme Court, including the opinion written by one of its leading conservative justices, finding that Democratic Governor Tony Evers' new map for state legislative seats in the Badger State should be used in this year's redistricting, following the 2020 Census. The GOP's corrupt SCOTUS, however, feels otherwise, even though Evers' map was closer to the state's previous (and wildly gerrymandered) one than the map pushed by the state's far-right gerrymandered state legislature. To make the matter even more absurd, the High Court completely ignored its own entirely made up and opportunistically used "Purcell Principle", which is supposedly meant to prevent last minutes changes to laws that might throw elections into chaos. In this case, since Wisconsin's Supreme Court and Democratic Governor both agreed that a new black majority district was needed in Milwaukee, the rightwingers on SCOTUS decided they'd never heard of Purcell or, apparently, the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

If you're flummoxed about all of this based on the above explanation, you're not alone. Tune in, as Stern tries, as usual, to help us make sense of the senselessness now coming out of a U.S. Supreme Court that is on the verge of losing whatever shred of legitimacy it may have had left at this point...

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Guest: Philly Inquirer's Will Bunch on the corrupt Thomases, criminal Trump, missing 1/6 phone logs, and our never-ending quest for account-ability; Also: Smith apologizes to Rock; FDA okays new booster shots...
By Brad Friedman on 3/29/2022 6:51pm PT  

As usual, on today's BradCast, there is more continuing Trump corruption news than we can possibly keep up with. But don't blame us for trying. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, however, a bit of news on the Omicron sub-variant BA.2, which has now become the dominant variant in the U.S. The FDA announced today that it has approved second Pfizer and Moderna boosters for everyone 50 years of age and over who received their last shot at least four months ago. Also, Will Smith apologized on Instagram to Chris Rock for assaulting him at the Oscars. A day late, but there ya go.

Then, we try to catch up with some of the latest Trump corruption/accountability news and some that we've fallen behind on, with an assist from longtime Philadelphia Inquirer columnist WILL BUNCH, who has been in a bit of a funk over the mountain of evidence of corruption on the Right and the lack of accountability for it.

Among the stories he and I discuss today...

  • The news of the longtime prosecutors who recently resigned from the probe of Trump's years-long bank, tax and insurance fraud felonies after the new Manhattan D.A., Alvin Bragg, took over the investigation and tanked it. As revealed last week, one of the disappointed lead prosecutors told Bragg in his resignation letter last month that Trump was "guilty of numerous felony violations, that dropping the probe was "a grave failure of justice" and that "the team that has been investigating Mr. Trump harbors no doubt about whether he committed crimes - he did."
  • The insane, conspiracy-theory laden text messages sent in November 2020 by longtime rightwing activist Ginni Thomas --- wife of longtime rightwing Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas --- to Trump's then Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, encouraging him to fight to steal the 2020 election. And the difficulty (at least by Democrats) of bringing accountability for our corrupted Court and its "giant legitimacy crisis".
  • The seven and half hour gap in the Trump White House call logs from January 6th, 2021, as reported today by the Washington Post's Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, showing no record of Trump calls during the insurrection he incited at the U.S. Capitol from 11:17am that day until 6:54pm that night, even though the U.S. House Committee investigating the insurrection has confirmed a number of phone conversations that occurred with Trump that day.

"There seems to be no way or no will to hold our staggeringly corrupt leaders accountable --- whether it's Trump defrauding the banks or plotting an attempted coup from the Oval Office, or a Supreme Court justice ruling on his wife's bat-guano crazy political crusade," Bunch lamented in his column over the weekend. "I'm in a total funk over the state of the union."

Today he tells me, "We have this situation where there are a lot of people in the body politic saying look, the evidence is overwhelming that the 45th President of the United States was a criminal, and yet, the handful of people who are actually in the most key positions for possibly doing something about it won't go there, apparently." While he recognizes that some, such as our friend Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel, believe Attorney Gernal Merrick Garland actually is working his way up the food chain toward Trump, he remains dubious.

"Common sense is telling me that, given what's at stake, this is taking too long," he argues. "While this hangs out there, you've got all of these state legislatures enacting laws to make it possible to pull off a coup in 2024. Maybe putting a few of these guys on trial and sending a few of them up the river, maybe that would change the dynamic a bit in the country."

Bunch does put stock in the House J6 Committee's work and looks forward to Watergate-like hearings in the coming months which might change the current trajectory. But, in the meantime, he remains concerned about the ability of key institutions, like our corrupted SCOTUS, to maintain any legitimacy.

"A healthy democracy would have a healthy Supreme Court. But it's a very reform-proof operation. Only one Supreme Court Justice has been impeached in U.S. history," he notes. "They don't have any particular code of ethics, even when it comes to recusing themselves on cases like this Clarence Thomas situation. They're supposed to use their best judgment, and we kind of have to hope for the best."

"For a long time there has been this simmering general sense that there are two systems. There's not one system of justice in this country. That certain privileged people at the top, it's not just politicians, it's wealthy people, it's high-profile people...Here's New York City with six cops ganging up on somebody who jumps a subway turnstile because they didn't pay the $2.50 fare because they probably couldn't afford it. There's a sense of anger about that, and I think it ties in to how people feel about Trump or Ginni Thomas, that it's all of one piece. And I think that is just causing a broader lack of trust in this country."

But, Bunch also insists that he remains "an optimist," is hopeful things can still change and that we may soon begin to see accountability. "That's the January 6 Committee. Once they get their case out there, the public demand for [accountability] might peak. And for that, we can only hope."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with news on Europe weaning itself from Russian fossil fuels and, speaking of a lack of accountability, new reporting on how corrupt Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has, for years now, used his public office for massive personal financial gain...

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Federal Judge finds Trump 'more likely than not' committed felonies in trying to steal 2020 election; Ginni Thomas to be called by House J6 Comm.; Callers ring in on Will Smith's Oscars assault of Chris Rock...
By Brad Friedman on 3/28/2022 6:43pm PT  

Given how many folks saw what happened at the Oscar's on Sunday night, today's BradCast summary needn't be very detailed on that point, I suspect. The second half of our program today is filled with our own thoughts and those of callers, on the many fascinating angles on why Will Smith's assault of Chris Rock on live TV was both so traumatizing to many and so very wrong. (Though not all of our callers agree!) [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

First, before we get there, a bit of somewhat satisfying news, for the moment, from a federal judge in California. It comes in the case of Rightwing Trump attorney John Eastman, who has filed a lawsuit to try and withhold documents he describes as attorney-client privileged from the House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 insurrection. The ruling is the first by a federal judge to hold that "based on the evidence", both Donald Trump (and Eastman) "more likely than not" committed federal felonies in their attempt to steal the 2020 election.

Judge David Carter, a Bill Clinton appointee, declared [PDF] the evidence suggests both men "corruptly attempted" to obstruct the work of Congress on January 6, 2021, and conspired to defraud the United States in the bargain. "The illegality of the plan was obvious," writes Carter, ordering Eastman to turn over about 100 documents to the House Committee. "Our nation was founded on the peaceful transition of power, epitomized by George Washington laying down his sword to make way for democratic elections. Ignoring this history, President Trump vigorously campaigned for the vice president to single-handedly determine the results of the 2020 election.”

"Every American --- and certainly the President of the United States --- knows that in a democracy, leaders are elected, not installed" Carter continued. "If the country does not commit to investigating and pursuing accountability for those responsible, the Court fears January 6 will repeat itself."

Of particularly note, since some prosecutors have suggested that it would be difficult to win a conviction against the former President, since he might argue he didn't understand he was committing various crimes, Carter wrote: "President Trump and Dr. Eastman justified the plan with allegations of election fraud, but President Trump likely knew the justification was baseless, and therefore that the entire plan was unlawful." [Emphasis added.]

Eastman, of course, may try to appeal the ruling all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, where one of the most corrupt jurists to ever sit on the formerly esteemed body, Justice Clarence Thomas, still sits. But the good(ish) news on that front, for now, is that the House J6 Committee reportedly intends to ask his equally corrupt wife Ginni, a longtime, far-right activist and, apparently, conspiracy theorist, to sit for an interview before the panel.

That invitation (not yet a subpoena, according to reporting suggesting the Committee's lead Republican, Rep. Liz Cheney opposes issuing one to her), follows the stunning news last week of more than two dozen text messages exchanged by Ginni with Trump's then Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in November of 2020, encouraging him to keep fighting to reverse the election (to steal it!) and overturn what Ginni cluelessly described in one of her insane notes as "the greatest heist in American history."

She also mentioned discussing the matter with an unnamed "best friend". The Thomases have been known to refer to each other as "best friends". Democrats are now calling on Thomas to recuse himself, due to the obvious conflicts of interest, from any cases having anything to do with the 2020 election. But we believe Dems need to go much farther than that (and I hope to discuss that in more detail soon.)

Finally then, it's on to the slap seen and heard around the world at Sunday's Academy Awards. The one that kept me up until 4am for reasons that I had difficulty understanding. We talk it through today with a bunch of callers, most of whom condemn Smith for what he did (as do we), though at least one caller does not. Then again, he also thinks the entire thing was "staged" and thought it appropriate to call me "Beta Boy"(?) for some reason. That quite amusing and, of course, very persuasive!

I suspect you'll enjoy today's BradCast, even if it's a bit more pop culture-oriented than usual! But there's a reason (perhaps several) that Smith's assault of Rock was so traumatizing for many, going beyond mere pop culture, as we discuss as well. Besides that, we can all use a bit of a break every now and again with a "scandal" that doesn't touch on corruption, war, nuclear terror, the rise of autocracy and the persistent undermining of the U.S. Constitution --- not to mention the destruction of Planet Earth...

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Guest: Amy Slipowitz of Freedom House; Also: Keeping up with the wildly corrupt Clarence and Ginni Thomas; Some good news for EVs in the U.S....
By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2022 7:08pm PT  

I don't think "freedom" means what many on the Right in this country seem to think it means. Our guest on The BradCast today, an expert in such things, seems to agree. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

First up, Lord Manchin has spoken! We'll soon learn if Lady Sinema agrees. But, for now at least, West Virginia's Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is not taking the bait from Republicans this time around. He says he will be be voting in favor of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Joe Biden's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, after a week in which she was flogged by all sorts of stuff and nonsense from an increasingly ridiculous, pathetic and extreme Republican caucus in the U.S. Senate. We don't yet know if the other obstructionist Democratic Senator, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, agrees, but if so --- and presuming all 50 Democratic Senators stay healthy between now and the time they hold a vote to confirm Judge Jackson --- we should have our first black female Supreme Court Justice on the High Court very soon.

But, speaking of both corruption and the Supreme Court, its longest-serving and arguably most corrupt Justice (though there's much competition here), Clarence Thomas has reportedly been discharged from the hospital after a week of treatment for a still unspecified "infection". After waiting two days to report that he'd been admitted in the first place last Friday, the Court said on Sunday that the 73-year old Thomas would be out of the hospital after receiving intravenous antibiotics for his "flu-like symptoms" by Tuesday. But after Wednesday and Thursday happened without any updates on his condition or whereabouts, we are told he was finally released on Friday, though no more information was provided on either his condition or his ailment.

That news comes a day after his similarly corrupt, far-right activist wife Ginni Thomas made headlines again on Thursday, when news of a series of insane text messages she sent to then White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was made public on Thursday afternoon. The messages Ginni sent to Meadows in November of 2020 included loony conspiracy theories claiming the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump and instructed Meadows to fight to overturn the results finding that Joe Biden had won.

And all of that was going on even as Ginni's husband Clarence was voting (thankfully) in the minority on the Court in favor of Trump's various dumb challenges to the results of the election he lost, and for attempts to block things like lawful Congressional subpoenas, which would include Ginni's messages to Meadows, from being shared with the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6th 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Of course, Clarence, who has been trying to hide both his and his wife's corruption for decades now, never recused himself from any of those cases, despite the outrageous conflicts of interest caused by his far-right activist wife. Luckily for them both, they are Republicans. So his corruption on the bench will likely be allowed to continue.

But, It is that sort of corruption and much more from the unapologetic Rightwing in this country --- as opposed to a lack of "freedom" to go maskless during the worst pandemic in a century --- that has helped precipitate the United States' fall in the annual Freedom House ranking on the condition of political rights and civil liberties in nations across the globe.

The non-partisan group's 2022 report is titled "The Global Expansion of Authoritarian Rule." It follows on last year's, titled "Democracy Under Siege," which we discussed at the time of its release on this show with one of its co-authors. In both, the U.S. no longer even cracks the top 50 most "Free" countries anymore, based on the 25 indicators measured by the group of international experts who work with Freedom House, which, founded in 1941, describes itself as "the oldest American organization devoted to the support and defense of democracy around the world."

After 16 consecutive years now of what Freedom House warns to be a "decline in global freedom," in which democracies are becoming less democratic and authoritarianism continues to rise across the globe, the U.S. now ranks at about 63rd on the list. It's tied with nations like South Korea, Romania and Panama, and and comes in just behind nations like Argentina, Mongolia, Croatia and Latvia on their Freedom House's index. We are now far behind Slovenia and the Czech Republic and, according to this year's report, have nowhere near the Freedoms available in nations such as Taiwan, Estonia or Chile, much less Australia, Switzerland, Japan, Uruguay, the Netherlands, Canada and New Zealand. For the record, the nations tied for the most "Free" in the world: Norway, Finland and Sweden.

Our guest today is AMY SLIPOWITZ, Freedom House Research Manager and co-author of their flagship annual report. Our conversation includes the methodologies used in compiling the group's findings and how they define what "freedom" actually is. "It's pretty simple," she explains. "To us, freedom means democracy, a governing system based on the will and consent of the governed. It has institutions that are accountable to all citizens. These include things like an independent judiciary, free media, and strong civil society. And ultimately, a democracy is the best system for ensuring that everyone's human rights are respected, no matter who they voted for."

What are the key differences between this year's reports and last year's? "The main driver that we found for the decline in 2021 was that autocrats are increasingly cooperating and supporting each other in their attacks on democratic norms and institutions," Slipowitz asserts. "And with this, authoritarians have made really enormous gains in the international system. So they've been able to use that influence to promote autocracy as a viable alternative to democracy. The cooperation isn't based on any unifying ideology, or even friendship or affinity among authoritarians, but on a single shared interest, which is to stay in power by any means necessary."

"A key part of this is trying to transform the international system, where the rules-based international order no longer applies," she adds. "So that's where you see authoritarian regimes causing conflict and other really egregious abuses. We've seen this manifest with things like more military coups, more elections with pre-determined outcomes, power grabs. To give just a couple of examples, military coups happened in five countries this year. This was more common in 2021 than in any year of the past decade."

Among the related issues discussed with Slipowitz: What are the greatest factors in the slow decline of freedom and democracy across the globe over the past 15 years and the sudden plunge in freedom seen in 2020? Why is the U.S. now ranked so low on the Freedom House index, near the bottom of its index of "Free" nations? How much of a factor was the January 6th insurrection last year and new restrictions on voting in the U.S. in their determination? Does the rest of the world still consider the U.S. to be a "beacon of freedom" worth following and emulating? How do mask and vaccine mandates amid the COVID pandemic, dramatically cited by many on the Right as the death of personal freedom, play into this year's ratings? How about the banning of books and the teaching of subjects such as systemic racism and sexuality? And, have we seen a similar years-long decline in global democracy and rise of authoritarianism at any other time in recent history?

"It's much easier to dismantle democratic systems than it is to build them back up," Slipowitz warns. "For the U.S. to recover from this 11-point decline over ten years, it's really important that the more structural issues be strengthened and fixed." All of that and much more during our enlightening --- and occasionally chilling --- conversation.

Finally today, some quick coverage of several good(ish) news stories we had hoped to cover yesterday, but had to dump at the last minute, thanks to the breaking news of the wildly corrupt Thomas clan. Among those stories: the rise in gas prices due to Big Oil profiteering and Russia's war in Ukraine is leading to a huge increase among American car buyers interest in battery-powered electric vehicles and hybrids; Emerging evidence that the Biden Administration may considering use of the Defense Production Act to build electric heat pumps here in the U.S. to help replace some 75 million oil and gas furnaces in Europe, currently dependent on Russian gas (as we discussed recently with climate journalist and activist Bill McKibben); And a doubling of the number of battery-powered electric delivery trucks being ordered by the U.S. Postal Service and its corrupt Postmaster, Louis DeJoy. (That still only amounts to a bare one-fifth of the new trucks being ordered at the moment to replace the aging, gas-guzzling USPS fleet...but we're still working on it!)

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Lowest jobless numbers since 1969; MTG faces ballot disqualification in GA; Trump dumps Brooks, Brooks turns on seditionist Trump; Ginni Thomas texted Meadows to steal 2020; And, again, where is Clarence?
By Brad Friedman on 3/24/2022 6:57pm PT  

There's plenty of bad news out there. But on today's BradCast, we've got plenty of good news amid the bad...some of which is interrupted by breaking, bizarre, though hardly surprising news (at least when it comes to the corrupt Clarence and Ginni Thomas!) [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Almost all of these stories deserve more attention than they've been getting. But, because they tend to amount to good news and/or news that may help Dems and/or hurt Republicans, you haven't heard as much about them as you should from corporate media outlets where bad news leads or on social media, where rightwing outrage is monetized and weaponized. Among our many stories today...

  • According to the Commerce Dept., via Reuters, weekly jobless claims last week hit their lowest level since 1969! Seriously. But who knew? Do you think you might have heard more about that if Trump was President instead of Biden? While stories about inflation tend to dominate headlines, stories about Joe Biden's economy --- firing on all pistons, even amid both inflation and war in Europe --- quickly disappear off the front pages (if they showed up there in the first place.) Little wonder the President's approval ratings remain low, despite a booming economy and huge majorities of Americans (of all parties) supporting his response to Russia's war on Ukraine.
  • Far-right Congressional loon Marjorie Taylor Greene's eligibility to run for re-election is being officially contested today by Georgia voters and the Constitutional law experts at Free Speech for People (FSFP). The non-partisan group previously filed a separate challenge against the Constitutional eligibility of North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn to run in 2022 on the same basis. Greene, like Cawthorn, is accused of violating Section 3 of the 14th Amendment which bars those who have taken a federal oath to defend the Constitution from running again if they have subsequently "shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof." FSFP cites Greene's participation in the January 6, 2021 insurrection, including her pre-Jan 6 video-taped message urging supporters to block the peaceful transfer of power after Biden's 2020 Electoral College victory ("You can't allow it to just transfer power 'peacefully,'") and her charge that Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were "guilty of treason", which she described as "a crime punishable by death". That, before her supporters went on to attack the U.S. Capitol to block the peaceful transfer of power while calling for death of Pelosi. Under Georgia law, MTG will now have the burden of proving she isn't an insurrectionist, and FSFP will be able to depose her under oath in the process. Moreover, FSFP Co-Founder and President John Bonifaz tells The BRAD BLOG today: "There will be more such challenges to be filed this year."
  • Speaking of insurrectionists, one of Trump's favorite ones just got dumped by him. Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, running to win the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in the state, was unendorsed by Trump on Wednesday. Brooks, a top "Stop the Stealer", spoke at Trump's January 6th Insurrection Day rally near the White House. But, after urging the MAGA mob last year to turn their disappointment about 2020 into efforts to win in 2022 and 2024, Trump pretended he didn't like Brooks anymore and unendorsed him yesterday. The real reason he dumped him, of course, is because Brooks is currently running third in the GOP primary and Trump doesn't want to be seen as backing yet another loser. But in response to getting dumped, Brooks put out an extraordinary statement last night claiming Trump asked him to "rescind the 2020 elections, immediately remove Joe Biden from the White House, immediately put President Trump back in the White House, and hold a new special election for the presidency." Brooks stood by the claim during a local TV interview last night, saying that Trump asked him repeatedly to remove Biden and restore Trump, even recently. TPM's Josh Marshall describes it as "definitional sedition."
  • Then, as we did yesterday, we have to ask again: Where is Clarence Thomas? After being admitted to the hospital last Friday with an "infection" and "flu-like symptoms", the Supreme Court finally disclosed the hospitalization of the 73-year old Justice on Sunday, announcing "his symptoms are abating" after intravenous antibiotic treatment and that he'll be released "in a day or two". The Court has had no update since Sunday. Today, four days later, The Hill reports a friend says Thomas is "resting" and "going to be just fine", but won't disclose whether he's "resting" in the hospital or at home, for some reason. Why not? We discuss.
  • And, speaking of the apparently ailing and clearly corrupt Clarence Thomas, his far-right activist wife Ginni Thomas --- according to breaking news this afternoon from Bob Woodward and Robert Costa at Washington Post --- sent dozens of insane text messages to then White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, encouraging him to somehow steal the 2020 election in November of that year. The Thomases have long been corrupt, but this incident may take the cake. She was encouraging the Trump White House to find ways to overturn the results of a Presidential election while her husband was often the lone vote at SCOTUS in favor of absurd MAGA lawsuits challenging the election. He even voted in favor of challenges regarding the January 6 House Select Committee's subpoenas. Ya know, subpoenas that resulted in Meadows turning over text messages from his wife Ginni Thomas! This is a remarkable amount of corruption inside of corruption inside of corruption. Is it finally time to impeach Clarence Thomas? (If he is ever released from the hospital, in any event.)
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, in which --- aside from more climate-fueled disasters in Texas and Louisiana, and nuclear concerns rising at Chernobyl --- she manages to find a whole bunch of surprising silver linings in the response to Putin's war on Ukraine, which is resulting in Europe speeding up their move away from fossil fuels...

If the news of late has ya down, today's show may offer a brief respite. You're welcome! (Yeah, we needed it too!)

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Guest: Prof. Jeffrey Sonnenfeld of Yale School of Management; Also: More climate-fueled disasters in LA, TX; And, where is Clarence Thomas?...
By Brad Friedman on 3/23/2022 6:47pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: If you might otherwise expect a Senior Associate Dean at Yale University's School of Business Management to be a stodgy, rightwing, so-called pro-business conservative, think again. The one joining us today, naming and shaming major international corporations for continuing to do business with Russia even after their barbaric, nearly month-long destruction of Ukraine, is anything but. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But first up today, very quickly, what you need to know about the deadly tornado swarm that slammed Louisiana and Texas overnight. It's just the latest in an increasingly long and violent string of climate change-fueled disasters slamming both states. Desi Doyen explains what climate scientists are learning about changes in tornadic weather as our climate crisis worsens in places like her old home state of Texas which, in recent years, has faced one such costly and deadly disaster after another (as the Republicans who control the state pretend fossil fuels have nothing to do with it.) From hurricanes to flooding to cold snaps that knock out power to the recent drought and wild fires which, at least last night's storms helped, in part, to have quelled a bit for now.

Next: Where is Clarence Thomas? The wildly corrupt U.S. Supreme Court Justice was admitted to the hospital last Friday, though the Court didn't announce it until Sunday, when their statement said he was being treated with intravenous antibiotics for an "infection" and "flu-like symptoms." The Court said on Sunday that the 73-year old Thomas would be out of the hospital by Monday or Tuesday. But, as of Wednesday, the Court had no comment on his whereabouts or his condition. Hmm...That, as Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson faced another ridiculous day of childish questioning from Republicans in her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings to replace Justice Stephen Breyer on the High Court.

Then, we're joined by Yale School of Management's Senior Associate Dean and Professor of Management Practice JEFFREY SONNENFELD for a very lively discussion of the more than 450 American and international corporations that have withdrawn partially or fully from Russia, and the smaller (but still substantive and extremely shameful) number of companies still doing business there during Putin's deadly siege on his sovereign neighbor.

Sonnenfeld and his team of colleagues and researchers at the school began by compiling a list of those companies who had pulled out of Russia shortly after Putin's invasion, and those that had yet to. That "Hall of Shame" list has since gained a great deal of public attention and, he tells us, has both helped to both encourage and shame CEOs into shutting their doors in Russia.

"We just had a session with 70 CEOs --- you're the first to know about this --- major CEOs across the face of American industry, with General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff," Sonnenfeld tells us. "And he did emphasize that they are working off our list. We're humbled by that, but we know that people on Wall Street and the activist community are using it" as well.

Since its initial creation, the list is now broken down into more specific categories, including companies that have announced a full "Withdrawal"; others which merely declared a "Suspension" of operations for now; those that are "Scaling Back" by reducing operations; and the two most pernicious categories of companies that are either "Buying Time" by postponing new investments while continuing substantive business or, worst of all, "Digging In" by defying all demands to leave or even reduce operations there.

While Sonnenfeld notes that the list remains "a moving target", with several companies see their rating changed even as we went to air (the fossil fuel services giant Halliburton was moved from the worst, "Digging In," to the second worst, "Buying Time" today, for example), you'll be delighted to know our friends at the rightwing dark money conglomerate Koch Industries and its crappy paper subsidiaries like Georgia-Pacific, are staying put with Team Fascist Dictator for now.

On the other hand, Sonnenfeld says that he was pleasantly surprised that a number of Big Oil companies, "not usually on the leading edge of social change," pulled out early on. But, he has a thought or two for companies like Dunkin Donuts, Nestle, Mars candy and, yes, the rightwing Koch Industries, which, for its part, says they are staying in Russia for what they describe as the "health, safety and wellbeing of all employees. Leaving, they assert, "would only put our employees there at greater risk and do more harm than good."

Koch also justified their decision by claiming they refuse to "hand over these manufacturing facilities to the Russian government so it can operate and benefit from them." Sonnefeld identifies that as closer to the real reason Koch doesn't want to leave. "It's so ludicrous, on every level," he tells me. "There are now millions and million of employees that used to work for Western companies" now out of work in Russia. If all of those companies pulled out, "there wouldn't be a shred of legitimacy for the government. It would make the revolution happen instantly." He argues Russia couldn't "round up fifteen million people and then figure out what to do with them because they're not working for Western companies anymore. It's ridiculous."

Even companies like McDonald's, which has at least done the right thing by shuttering its 850 stores in Russia, only gets a "B" grade on the list's second, "Suspension" category, as they continue to pay their workers there in hopes of returning. "It allows Putin and Putin supporters to say, 'This was just ceremonial, it's temporary. You don't need to worry, they're not really leaving, they'll be back.'"

When asked if the company should receive plaudits for helping to keep their from going hungry, Sonnenfeld is unimpressed. "Those 60,000 people should be out of work and in the streets. That's what people don't understand on this," he insists. "They say, 'Oh, innocent Russians aren't responsible for what Putin is doing.' Yes, they are! It's their complacency. Putin is in power, not because he is popularly elected. He rules because of this iron fist of being a murderous tyrant. To take that on you've got to go in there with warfare. If we don't want to do that, one thing we can do to help those innocent Russians is to at least get them angry to be part of a civil disobedience, to be part of a shutdown of civil society."

He cites "bloodless revolutions" elsewhere, charging that "if you freeze up the economy, then you get people angry, out on the streets, and they bring down the government. But to keep them complacent and comfortable, that does no good whatsoever."

While recognizing the lack of a free press in Russia at this point, Sonnenfeld also has little sympathy. "It's because they willingly don't want to know. It isn't just because they don't get a free press. When all their favorite brands shut down and they're out of work --- if all of these non-Russian companies say 'You're a rogue nation!' --- maybe they'll start to realize that what Putin is telling them, that he's trying to 'liberate' Ukraine, they'll realize that's not true."

As you might guess, Sonnenfeld, the author of many books and academic papers on business management, leadership, and corporate governance, has much more to say on this subject and on the many companies who have done what he sees as the right thing, as well as those he feels should be penalized by the American people for failing to do so.

You can view the list or download a searchable Excel version here. But, first, you'll want to tune in for today's very lively and colorful conversation with Sonnenfeld...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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