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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, December 9, 2021
Pandemic Inflation Profit-eering and What Can Be Done About It: 'BradCast' 12/8/21
Guest: American Prospect's David Dayen; Also: Omicron lab studies suggest booster shots critical; Congressional priorities laid bare...
Fixing the Electoral Count Act of 1887 BEFORE It's Used to Try and Steal ANOTHER Election: 'BradCast' 12/7/21
Guest: Paul Lehto; Also: Biden v Putin; U.S. v China; Meadows v House; DoJ v TX...
'Green News Report' 12/7/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Climate change is changing Western forests, mountain snowpack; December heat wave breaks records, sparks late-season fires; PLUS: Oil giant ditches drilling project in Scotland...
Previous GNRs: 12/2/21 - 11/30/21 - Archives...
Biden's Media Coverage Confirmed Worse Than Trump's. Why Would That Be?: 'BradCast' 12/6/21
Also: DoJ sues TX for gerrymanders; Omicron more/less dangerous than known; Callers...
Sunday 'Morale Booster' Toons
It's another shot in the arm from PDiddie in his latest collection of the week's best toons!...
Partisan Gerrymander Fights in State Courts and Debating Tit-for-Tat Dem Redistricting: 'BradCast' 12/3/21
Guest: Univ. of KY's Joshua A. Douglas; Also: Media mislead again on new jobs numbers...
When Wingnuts Collide!:
'BradCast' 12/2/21
Trump grifters turn on each other from 'Stop the Steal' world to Congress, as legal probs and death threats mount and laughter ensues...
'Green News Report' 12/2/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
2021 hurricane season ends, and it was a costly; U.S. world's biggest plastic polluter; Big breakthrough on EV charging; PLUS: A ray of sunshine for monarch butterflies...
Previous GNRs: 11/30/21 - 11/18/21 - Archives...
SCOTUS Set to Cancel Abortion Rights; GOP Set to Steal 2024: 'BradCast' 12/1/21
Guest: Kenny Bruno on 'DEFCON for Democracy'; Also: 4th student dies in MI...
NLRB Orders New Amazon Unionization Vote in AL: 'BradCast' 11/30/21
Guest: Labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein; Also: Fed Appeals Court hears Trump case for blocking 1/6 docs; Meadows said 'cooperating' with 1/6 Comm...
'Green News Report' 11/30/21
While we were out -- 52 killed in Russian coal mine; Water scarcity unrest in Iran; Biden opens Strategic Oil Reserve; Seattle's wettest fall ever; PLUS: Much MUCH more...
Worry, Don't Worry and/or be Thankful: 'BradCast' 11/29/21
We're back! With REAL news on the economy, COVID, Ukraine and more. Plus: Callers on all of the above...
More Thanksgiving Leftover Toons
Overstuff yourself with PDiddie's still tasty SECOND HELPING of T-Day week toons!...
Leftover Turkey Toons
Delicious toons with all the trimmings in PDiddie's Turkey Day toon collection...
Sunday 'Friendsgiving' Toons
PDiddie's latest festive collection! Because that's what toons are for...
There'd Be No Trucker Short-age If Industry Took Care of Drivers: 'BradCast' 11/19/21
Guest: Nicolas Rivero of Quartz; Also: House passes BBB; VA school board unbans books; Recounts will determine control of VA House...
'Green News Report' 11/18/21
Deadly extreme flooding in Pacific NW; Admin's contro-versial oil and gas lease sale; FTC to probe Big Oil corr-uption; PLUS: Biden in Detroit on American-made EVs...
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...


Under Trump, the federal agency created a Catch-22 on new rule by requiring private research to counter hidden public data...
By Sue Wilson on 4/12/2021 9:35am PT  

While I was researching a piece last September about Sinclair Broadcasting's illegal TV ownership shell game, I stumbled into a Supreme Court case. Donald Trump's Federal Communications Commission Chair, Ajit Pai, had filed a case at SCOTUS, Federal Communications Commission v. Prometheus Radio Project [PDF], which would allow one media conglomerate to own the local newspaper, 2 network TV stations, 1-2 additional TV stations, and 8 radio stations --- all in the same community.

The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals had previously found, in 2017, that the FCC failed to adequately study the matter before making the rules change that would adversely affect ownership of media outlets by women and minorities.

But the danger of the scheme to all of us was immediately apparent. Imagine the potential for propaganda by allowing one company to control the local reporters in virtually every media outlet in a single town!

I had already discovered that Sinclair Broadcasting was illegally controlling three TV stations in Columbus, Ohio, and doing little more than duplicating local news content across all three stations. So, on advice of my colleague and friend Brad Friedman, I began writing an Amicus ("Friend of the Court") brief in the case to inform the U.S. Supreme Court of this and other related information.

My first step was to find the research papers the FCC had done on the topic before its Chair --- on behalf of we, the people --- filed its case with SCOTUS. To my surprise, however, I found there were none. Zip, nada, nothing. The FCC was literally taking a case to the Supreme Court in which it had done no independent research at all...

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




Guest: SCOTUS expert, author Ian Millhiser; Also: Amazon unionization vote goes down in AL, union cries foul; Biden creates commission to study SCOTUS reform; Everyone loves hating on Cruz and Graham...
By Brad Friedman on 4/9/2021 6:02pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Maybe we've been too quick to say that Republicans no longer have any governing philosophy or legislative agenda. They do. And it's being carried out. Just not be elected officials. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But first up today, following 'good' news for Alabamians on yesterday's BradCast, as the state's corrupt, lying, homophobic, vote suppressing Republican Sec. of State John Merrill was publicly revealed as the sleazy, cheating, liar that he is (joining a very long line of corrupt, lying, cheating top Republicans in the state, as we break down today), some less good news today for workers in the state.

The unionization vote at Amazon's warehouse in Bessemer, near Birmingham, apparently lost by a nearly two to one margin, after millions were spent in a campaign by the company to scare and misinform its workers. The union is crying foul, charging that the nation's second largest private employer violated labor laws in its campaign to propagandize workers at the facility. They vow to challenge the company's "lies, deception and illegal activities" with the National Labor Relations Board.

"We won’t rest until workers' voices are heard fairly under the law," the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) President railed in a statement on Friday after results were announced, claiming the company illegally interfered with the vote. "When they are, we believe they will be victorious in this historic and critical fight to unionize the first Amazon warehouse in the United States."

For their part, Amazon disputes all of the union's charges, asserting that their "employees heard far more anti-Amazon messages from the union, policymakers, and media outlets than they heard from us." That, even after Amazon posted anti-union messages, literally, inside of bathroom stalls at their Bessemer fulfillment facility and forced workers to sit through hours of seminars on the evils of unionization.

Meanwhile, at the White House today, Joe Biden announced his new Executive Order to form a bi-partisan Presidential Commission to examine potential reform of the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as the federal judiciary overall. The declaration makes good on a 2020 campaign promise in response to calls for expansion of the GOP's stolen and packed Court. A report is expected in six months, following a series of public hearings by the Commission. Of course, any actual reforms to SCOTUS would likely require ending or modifying the Senate filibuster, which Lord Joe Manchin has expressly prohibited at this time.

As our guest notes today, that all works out great for the Republican Party who, at first glance, appear to no longer have any actual party principles, governing philosophy or legislative agenda, beyond suppressing voting rights in order to keep themselves in power.

But that's not actually true, argues our guest, Supreme Court expert IAN MILLHISER, Senior correspondent at Vox.com and author of the new book, The Agenda: How a Republican Supreme Court Is Reshaping America. He details in both the book and his recent New York Times op-ed that the GOP does, in fact, have a legislative agenda. But it's not being carried out by either of the elected branches. "Its agenda lives in the judiciary," he explains, "and especially in the Supreme Court."

Millhiser runs down the extraordinary agenda that activist jurists at SCOTUS have accomplished on behalf of Republicans from 2011 to 2020, and warns there is much more to come as "the Supreme Court is now the locus of policy-making" while GOP lawmakers in Congress have halted the passage of pretty much any actual legislation.

"We are basically at the end of a lost decade in Congress," he tells me. "From 2011 when Republicans took over the House, until 2020 when the pandemic happened and doing nothing really wasn't an option, Congress did a lot of nothing.  They passed the Trump tax bill, but there was very little major legislation enacted." During that same period, however, the Republican-dominated activist SCOTUS was exceedingly busy.

"They severely weakened the Voting Rights Act. They basically dismantled much of our campaign finance law. They permitted states to opt-out of the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court created this new religious liberty doctrine that allows people with religious objections to the law to diminish the rights of other people. They weakened sexual and racial harassment laws. They expanded something called forced arbitration, which allows your boss, or really any company you deal with, to force you to sign away your right to sue them. They undercut public sector unions. They effectively eliminated the President's recess appointments power. They halted Obama's Clean Power Plan," Millhiser summarizes.

He goes on to preview more of what the Court has in store, particularly when it comes to voting rights, noting that this Court has been "attacking democracy in two ways --- by preventing the people in office from governing, and then also by harming the process that we use to pick who our leaders are."

So, how can this mess be turned around? Millhiser warns it's unlikely to be correctly quickly. But, until it can be, Americans must continue to vote in large enough numbers to ensure there are lawmakers in office who actually want to protect democracy rather than destroy it and, ultimately, reform our broken judiciary.

Finally, we leave on a slightly more upbeat note, with more from former Republican House Speaker John Boehner's new book in which describes his own party as "unrecognizable" now; says he was wrong to go along with the impeachment of Bill Clinton; calls out the rightwing media echo chamber for poisoning our politics; blames Donald Trump for sowing "chaos" and inciting the "bloody insurrection on January 6th" by "claim[ing] voter fraud without any evidence", while reserving his greatest contempt for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Why is that a "more upbeat note"? Because it gives us the chance to close today with a new song from national treasure Randy Rainbow about how much America loves to hate on both Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham. Enjoy!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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GA's new Senator appeals to our better angels to save our democracy...
By Ernest A. Canning on 3/27/2021 11:14am PT  

"A republic," Ben Franklin famously said, "if you can keep it."

After more than 230 years, the great American experiment --- constitutional democracy --- has arrived at a moment of grave national peril, once again testing Franklin's warning. Like the Confederates who fired on Fort Sumter at the outset of a bloody Civil War, a major segment of our polity today is being led by racist and seditious reactionaries --- "domestic enemies" of the very Constitution they solemnly swore to uphold and defend.

This unscrupulous lot call themselves "Republicans". Yet, they have absolutely nothing in common with the Party once led by Abraham Lincoln, an intellectual giant, who extolled the need to see that "government of the People, by the People and for the People shall not perish..."

The right to vote is foundational to all other rights. By way of more than 253 restrictive bills, introduced in 43 States, these elected autocratic "American Fascists" seek to strip that foundational right from millions of their fellow Americans.

The For the People Act of 2021, recently passed by Democrats in the House as H.R.1, is a comprehensive election, campaign, ethics and voting rights reform measure that would, among other things, eliminate partisan gerrymandering of Congressional Districts, curb dark money campaign contributions, and preempt many state-based GOP voter suppression and intimidation laws, schemes and tactics. The Senate version of the bill, S1, is co-sponsored by 49 of the chamber's 50 Democrats.

If, at this critical moment, all 50 Senate Democrats do not agree to eliminate the filibuster, at least for Voting Rights-related legislation, in order to pass S1 before the end of the year, a clear path will have been paved for the GOP to retake majority control of both Houses of Congress in 2022 and recapture the Presidency in 2024 through a combination of extreme partisan gerrymandering and surgically precise voter suppression.

What better moment for Georgia's freshman Democratic Senator, Reverend Raphael Warnock, to call upon our better angels to save our democracy in a maiden address on the Senate floor (see video and link to transcript below) that amounted to what has been aptly described as a "Voting Rights Speech for the Ages"...

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




Guest: Migration Policy Institute's Sarah Pierce; Also: More 'Clean up on Aisle 45' news on the FBI, Kavanaugh and the Vindman family...
By Brad Friedman on 3/16/2021 6:28pm PT  

We've got quite a bit of 'Clean up on Aisle 45' news on today's BradCast, particularly at the U.S. southern border. [Audio link to today's full show is posted below this summary.]

But first, a few noteworthy 'Clean up" news items. Rhode Island's Democratic Sen. Sheldon has written a letter to Joe Biden's newly confirmed Attorney General Merrick Garland, requesting an investigation into what he describes as the "fake" investigation the FBI apparently made into sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh before his confirmation to a lifetime appointment as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. That confirmation, by the way, happened only thanks to Senate Republicans willingness to do away with the filibuster on Supreme Court Justices. Of course, it wasn't only sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh that deserved a real probe by the FBI. There is still the matter of what happened to the $60,000 to $200,000 worth of credit card debt that Kavanaugh carried the year before his nomination, which magically disappeared by the time he was tapped by Trump to help pack the stolen Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Also today, Army Lt. Col Yevgeny Vindman --- twin brother of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who testified against Donald Trump during his first impeachment --- will now be promoted to Colonel under the Biden Administration. That, despite a revenge campaign leveled against the Vindman family by the former disgraced President, which resulted in some negative job reviews for Yevgeny during his time as deputy legal advisor on Trump's National Security Council. Shortly after the impeachment, Trump fired both men from their NSC posts and Yevgeny filed a whistleblower complaint over the retaliation with the Pentagon's Inspector General. The IG's report has not yet been released.

Then, for the biggest 'Clean up on Aisle 45 ' news of the day, we move down to the U.S. Southern Border, where Republicans have been taking a cue from the former disgraced President to claim a massive "Biden border crisis!" is current under way, not two months into the new President's tenure. Sadly, corporate media have taken that cue as well. As they do.

House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) traveled to the border this week and, among other apparent lies, claimed that terrorists from Yemen, Iran and Turkey were "rushing" the border "all at once." While that is almost certainly untrue, there has been an increase over the past two months in unaccompanied children, seeking asylum at the border, after making the arduous journey from beleaguered Central American "Northern Triangle" countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Thanks to the influx of unaccompanied kids, a hollowed out asylum system left behind by the previous administration, along with pandemic social distancing requirements, Custom and Border Patrol (CBP) facilities meant to house children before they are handed over to the Dept. of Health and Human Services to find sponsored shelters are running out of space. The influx is also leading to many being held in the CBP facilities beyond the 72-hour legal limit, even as the Biden Administration has, for the time being, left many of Trump's policies in place, expelling families and single adults fleeing from gang violence, climate change and poverty in their troubled nations.

So, what is actually going on at the border right now? Is it really a crisis? And how much is the Biden Administration, not even two full months on the job, to blame? We're joined today by SARAH PIERCE, immigration attorney and Policy Analyst for the U.S. Immigration Policy Program at the Migration Policy Institute to help us separate fact from breathless, GOP/media-inflated fiction.

"I think there is a significant challenge at the southern border," she explains. "I don't think we can call it a crisis yet. But we could certainly be moving in the direction of a crisis.  We had a really fast acceleration in the number of unaccompanied child migrants arriving at the southern border between January and February. But we still haven't reached record numbers of children arriving at the southern border. We saw records during 2019 and 2014 that we haven't yet broken."

"But our facilities are limited because of the pandemic," she continues, "and so that is making what would already be a challenge even more difficult as the administration scrambles to bring beds back online, and move children out of Border Patrol custody as quickly as they possibly can."

Pierce explains how bad the situation currently is; whether she believes the Biden Administration is taking the appropriate measures to handle it; whether GOP claims about terrorists rushing the border or becoming "super-spreader caravans" are in any way true; and whether the situation can be handled at all without Congressional action (which seems a long shot while the filibuster remains in place, with Republicans seeking distraction from their failure to vote for the COVID relief bill and relying on alarmist rhetoric about the border to try and hold on to their base).

The Biden Administration "inherited a really, really big challenge and a system that was just gutted by the prior administration. So, whether or not they'll be able to do this all, while also dealing with what could very well be a crisis in the near future at the southern border, is a really big question."

She also offers, among other direct answers, a response to my question about the oft-repeated spurious claim that Trump's infamous family separation policy that resulted in those horrific "kids in cages" photographs was was actually begun by the Obama Administration. The answer will probably not shock you.

Next, it's our latest Green News Report with Desi Doyen (and, yes, more 'Clean up on Aisle 45' news there as well). And, finally, I close with a plea for Congress to do the right thing, once and for all, when it comes to...daylight saving time...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Public Citizen's Matt Kent on the Congressional Review Act's closing window; Also: IA, GA Repubs pass vote suppression bills; Palm Beach resident Trump votes by absentee...again...
By Brad Friedman on 3/9/2021 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Democrats could roll back dozens of toxic and/or corrupt Trump-era regulations, many of which had, themselves, rolled back previous regulations. And they can do it with a simple, filibuster-proof majority vote in the U.S. Senate. But they must act quickly. So, what's the hold up? [Audio link to full show follows below summary.]

First up today, however, some quick elections news. Donald Trump, who decried absentee voting for everyone but himself while he lived at the White House and voted by mail unlawfully using Mar-a-Lago as his voting address, had previous claimed it was just fine that he voted by absentee, since he was legitimately not in Palm Beach, Florida to cast his vote.  Well, Palm Beach is holding municipal elections today, and guest which current resident of the town has requested an absentee ballot to vote?

Meanwhile, the post-2020 GOP attempt to roll back access to the ballot is gaining speed in state legislatures across the country. The Brennan Center for Justice cites more than 200 such measures proposed in more than 40 states as of mid-February.  One of them, a bill in Iowa that shortens Early Voting days and polling place hours, among other restrictions, was signed into law by the state's Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds on Monday.  On Tuesday, civil rights groups filed suit.

Down in Georgia, a massive number of restrictions on voting --- most notably, mail-in voting --- are being quickly passed by both chambers of the state General Assembly.  As in Iowa, it's all being done with party line votes, with furious Democrats voting in opposition. On Monday, the GA state Senate passed a bill that, among other things, ends no-excuse absentee voting for most voters, even as 1.3 million took advantage of the convenient (and, during a pandemic, safer) way to vote in last year's Presidential election. But after Democrats won that election in November and both U.S. Senate runoffs in January, Republicans are now hoping to reverse the no-excuse mail-in voting law they themselves passed with their GOP-majority back in 2005. Shamefully, that is not the only new restriction that Republican state lawmakers are trying to enact in the Peach State, with many of the new restrictions aimed at suppressing minority voters.  And, as in Iowa, despite a lack of evidence of any voter fraud in their elections, Republicans are pretending that these new suppression tactics are necessary to prevent voter fraud.

Many provisions of the restrictive bills being pushed through state legislatures would be blocked by the Democrats' major voting rights bill, H.R.1, the "For the People Act" at the federal level.  The bill has already been passed in the U.S. House (with zero GOP votes), but unless the Senate filibuster rules are reformed --- or Joe Manchin comes to his senses (or both) --- the bill will almost certainly fail to overcome Republican opposition in the upper chamber.

At the same time, however, while Democrats are forced to look forward to protect upcoming elections, there are scores of corrupt, dangerous, Trump-era federal regulations that can now be rolled back with a simple majority vote in both chambers of Congress. No need to get 60 votes in the Senate! But Democrats have to act fast to overturn these Trump rules before the clock runs out on the 60 legislative days since the new Congress began which allow for rolling back a previous Administration's regulatory rules under the Clinton-era Congressional Review Act (CRA).

There is an enormous number of measures that Democrats could reverse immediately, enacted at the last minute by the Trump Administration at dozens of federal agencies such as the EPA, Dept. of Interior, Dept. of Energy, USDA, NOAA, Dept. of Justice, Dept. of Transportation, Dept. of Labor, HUD, HHS, the Veterans Administration, DHS and others. But, as Public Citizen has been reporting, the window to repeal parts of "Trump's deregulatory legacy" is quickly closing before an April 4th deadline to introduce simple resolutions for each specific regulatory action they wish to roll back.

We're joined today by MATT KENT, Regulatory Policy Associate at Public Citizen who, with Amit Narang, has been furiously attempting to sound the alarm about all of this (and about the regulations that the Trump Administration screwed up when issuing them, making it even easier for Biden to reverse on his own.)

"Anything completed within 60 legislative days of the end of the preceding Congress --- so, for our purposes, anything the Trump Administration finalized after August 21, 2020 --- anything after that is available to be undone by this Congress," Kent explains. "There's a real opportunity here for the Biden Administration and the Democratic Congress to more or less supercharge their efforts to use the CRA, to really expand the scope of regulations that are available to be removed --- deregulatory action is a better way to put it."

"This is a filibuster buster," he tells me. "This is something you can use to really get around a huge roadblock in the Senate. That's the way it was designed by the Republicans who created the law."

While the non-partisan government watchdog Public Citizen has long opposed the CRA, Kent argues turnabout is fair play. While the law was little used until Trump came to office, Republicans too advantage of it to overturn more than a dozen Obama-era rules. Kent advises it should be used here again, and then "pull up the ladder" to abolish it.

"The sands are moving through the hourglass here," he says, referencing the upcoming CRA deadline before offering some bewildering news: "So far, there have not been any Congressional  Review Act resolutions introduced at all. I am a little surprised that no Democrat has introduced a disapproval resolution."

He predicts "we'll probably see some in the next few weeks, but the pace has definitely been slow." What could possibly explain the hold up? We discuss.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with some more news about rollbacks to Trump-era rollbacks, specifically, in this case, at the Dept. of Interior. That good news, as usual in the GNR, is balanced by some decidedly less good news --- on another bankrupt coal company hoping to pass its toxic mess on to the tax-payers, and a sleazy (and so far, successful) effort by the natural gas industry to block any and all changes to city building codes, meant to combat climate change, around the nation...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Sarah Repucci of Freedom House; Also: Senate passes Biden's very progressive $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill; SCOTUS rejects last of Trump's 2020 election challenges...
By Brad Friedman on 3/8/2021 6:44pm PT  

It's not only in the U.S. where democracy is now under attack. Unfortunately, as discussed with our guest on today's BradCast, when freedom and democracy begin to collapse here, it gets even worse everywhere else. [Audio link to show follows below this summary.]

But, first up today, a quick word or two on Harry and Meghan (because in case you thought a parliamentary monarchy was a better idea than our representative democracy....well, that's not working out so well either these days.)

Very good news out of Congress, however, where the U.S. Senate finally passed Joe Biden's massive $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan over the weekend. Sadly, it was adopted 50-49 without a single Republican vote. The wildly popular measure provides critical relief across a whole bunch of sectors, with, as the New York Times describes, it "the principle Democrats and liberal economists have espoused over the past decade: that the best way to stoke faster economic growth is from the bottom up."  We go through many of the details of this major relief and stimulus plan that both Democrats and progressives should be damned proud of. Hopefully they remember to sing its praises between now and November of 2022, at the very least.  While the bill was changed marginally in the Senate after House passage (in some ways, it was even made more progressive!), it remained pretty much the same bold plan as initially proposed. It is, as many have described it, the most progressive relief bill ever passed by both Houses of Congress.

Democrats, by and large, seem to have figured out that it's ridiculous to negotiate with themselves in order to win the fool's errand of receiving Republican votes, when they ain't coming on board for anything Democrats in power favor, no matter how popular the measure is with their own Republican constituents (very!) or how many of them it will actually help in myriad ways. The measure must be approved one more time in the House before it heads to the President's desk likely this week, followed by his signatures and then individual checks of $1,400 to most Americans, $3,600 for most children, new expansions to Obamacare to allow those with higher incomes to receive subsidies for health insurance premiums and much much more to get American and its economy and schools back open faster and safer.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Donald Trump lost Wisconsin yet again, as the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his appeal of a lower court ruling upholding the bipartisan Wisconsin Election Commission's handling of mail-in ballots in the 2020 election. And, with that, SCOTUS has now officially rejected every challenge to the 2020 election results brought by Trump and his MAGA Mob to the Republicans' stolen and packed high court.  Sadly, GOP state legislatures are now in the process of attempting to impose severe new restrictions on voting in multiple states, including by rolling back measures, for example, for no-excuse absentee voting in Georgia, that they themselves had previously enacted.

So the fight for democracy and voting rights continues. Sunday marked the 56th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march in Selma, Alabama, when civil rights icon, the late Rep. John Lewis and hundreds of others were beaten to a pulp by state troopers during a protest walk for voting voting rights across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. That violence at that 1965 march, witnessed live on television, resulted in President Johnson signing the landmark Voting Rights Act that year. In commemoration over the weekend, President Biden issued an executive order "to promote voting access to all all eligible Americans to participate in our democracy." The order, as the White House describes it, "will leverage the resources of the federal government to increase access to voter registration services and information about voting."

The effort comes not a moment too soon, unfortunately, as underscored by a new report out last week from Freedom House titled Freedom in the World 2021: Democracy under Siege. It finds, among other troubling things: "As a lethal pandemic, economic and physical insecurity, and violent conflict ravaged the world, democracy’s defenders sustained heavy new losses in their struggle against authoritarian foes, shifting the international balance in favor of tyranny."

Three-quarters of people in the world now live in countries where freedom and democracy are on the decline, according to the group's latest annual report. As Washington Post's coverage notes, "This year’s survey, published Wednesday, marked the 15th consecutive year of global democratic backsliding --- 'a long democratic recession,' in the organization’s words, that is 'deepening.'' Moreover, the United States dropped three rankings in this year's survey which, its co-author explains on today's show, has been carried out by the 80-year old, non-partisan, non-profit group every year since 1972.

We're joined today by Freedom House Vice President of Research and Analysis SARAH REPUCCI, who notes that while the report cites the "unprecedented attacks on one of the world’s most visible and influential democracies," with the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol in January, and that his "actions went unchecked by most lawmakers from his own party, with a stunning silence that undermined basic democratic tenets," the 1/6 insurrection attempt wasn't even considered as part of this year's rankings of 195 countries, since it occurred in 2021.

Moreover, Freedom House found the largest "democracy gap" (the number of countries that improved minus the number of countries that declined) in the report's history last year, which marked 15 years of decline by the group's measure.

Repucci explains the report's methodology, which areas of the world are now seen as most at risk, and how the decline in freedoms and democracy in the U.S. over the past 15 years --- particularly over the past decade --- have helped to encourage the grim turn for democratic movements across the globe in recent years. She also offers some key recommendations for how to turn things around in this country, including reform in a number of areas --- such as ending partisan gerrymandering and instituting campaign finance reform. Both of those items are central tenets of the critical H.R.1, or "For the People Act", an omnibus and long-overdue elections and ethics reform package that has now been adopted by the U.S. House but faces a Republican filibuster in the U.S. Senate at this time.

"What many of us have been witnessing here in the United States is part of this larger global trend," Repucci tells me. "We've been tracking 15 years of decline globally, and the US has been declining the last ten years. So this is not totally not new in the US, and it's definitely not new globally.  What we are seeing are declines across the board in very repressive settings and also in democracies and everything in between." She warns: "The main takeaway is that no country is safe from this. It's affecting all types and all regions. It's something that we need to take really seriously."

Finally today, the CDC has issued its first guidelines for those who are now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. The guidance, which we discuss, allows for, among other things, those who have been fully vaccinated to hang out indoors, in private settings, without masks or social distancing with others who have been fully vaccinated as well. So, there's just one more good reason to get a shot as soon as you can figure out how to get one (or two, as the case may be). So far, just under 10% of Americans have been fully vaccinated...

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Guest host Nicole Sandler with Constitutional law expert Ian Millhiser...
By Nicole Sandler on 2/26/2021 4:45pm PT  

I'm sorry to end the week on such a scary note, but I don't make the news, I just report it. It's NICOLE SANDLER again, guest hosting another edition of the The BradCast today. [Audio link to the full show is below.]

I read an article at Vox titled "Two Supreme Court cases could destroy what remains of the Voting Rights Act". It so thoroughly freaked me out that I immediately reached out to its author, IAN MILLHISER, and invited him to join me on The BradCast.

The fact is, Trump stacked the courts with right wingers who'll stop at nothing to get and retain power. And it's not only that. We're headed down a really ugly road, as is evidenced by watching the wingnut travesty that began today in Orlando known as CPAC. One look at the stage and you realize something's not quite right. Look closely and you'll figure it out. There's no question that it's in the shape of the Odal Rune, a decidedly fascist symbol that was worn as a badge by the SS during WWII.

I started the show with the latest news. And ended it with some lighter fare because after all of this depressing stuff, we needed something to laugh about. I hope it worked!...

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Guest: Slate's legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Virginia is no longer for death penalty lovers...
By Brad Friedman on 2/24/2021 6:24pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Try as they did, Donald Trump and the Republican Party were unable to steal the 2020 Presidential election. But they've got their plans in place for how to try and do it next time. They just need their currently stolen and packed Republican U.S. Supreme Court majority to help them pull it off. This week, SCOTUS chose not to do so --- even if they may in the future. But, in a separate decision, the Court did radically help increase the odds that our disgraced former President could be headed to jail before he's even able to run for office again. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

But first up today, some good news out of Virginia, where more people have been put to death by the Commonwealth's government than in any other state in the nation. Since their founding as a colony in 1608, some 1,390 people have been executed by the government there. Since SCOTUS reinstated the death penalty in 1976, Virginia has executed 113 people. That is more than any other state but Texas. This week, however, following Democrats gaining majorities in both chambers of the legislature, Virginia will now become the first Southern state --- and the 23rd in the union --- to abolish the abhorrent practice. And not a moment too soon, particularly given the systemic racism of their death penalty practices. For example, as the Death Penalty Information Center pointed out to Washington Post this week, "From 1900 to 1969...Virginia did not execute a single White person for any offense that did not result in death, while 73 Black men were executed for rape, attempted rape or robbery." So, yeah. Very good news out of Virginia this week, as Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam prepares to sign the long-overdue measures finally adopted by the state legislature.

Speaking of state legislatures, on yesterday's BradCast, we reported on this week's decision by SCOTUS to purge a bunch of held over Trump/GOP challenges to the 2020 election. Cases from Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia and Arizona were all dismissed as moot. But dismissal of the Pennsylvania cases found three Justices --- Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch --- in dissent [PDF]. The two nearly identical cases in question had challenged the PA state Supreme Court's decision to extend the deadline [PDF] for the return of absentee ballots by three days after Election Day, due to the pandemic, slowdowns by the U.S. Postal Service and a provision in their state constitution mandating fair elections.

With all of their many other attempts to steal the 2020 election having failed, the GOP has now latched on to a radical interpretation of the U.S. Constitution's Elections Clause to argue that only state legislatures --- not Governors, not Secretaries of State, not State Elections Board or even state Supreme Courts --- may set any procedure for federal elections. Therefore, the Trumpers argued in their now-dismissed Pennsylvania challenges, the three day extension by the PA Supreme Court to enforce their state's Constitution by allowing for the arrival of late mail-in ballots cast by Election Day, was an unlawful violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Though no SCOTUS majority has ever affirmed this extreme reading of the federal Constitution, this is what many Republicans have now decided to believe to make themselves feel better after losing last November. In Pennsylvania, however, there were only 10,000 late arriving ballots and Joe Biden won the Keystone State by about 80,000. So SCOTUS decided the issue was moot and dismissed the cases. But Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch argued the case should have been heard anyway.

"A decision in these cases would not have any implications regarding the 2020 election," Alito wrote in dissent. "But a decision would provide invaluable guidance for future elections." On yesterday's program, I actually agreed with Alito and explained why.

Today, for a counter-point, we're joined by Slate's great legal journalist MARK JOSEPH STERN who offered a very different view from mine in his own coverage of Monday's decision by the high court. While justifiably destroying Justice Thomas' solo dissent in which he argued that mail-in ballots are bad even if there is no fraud, simply because people may think there is fraud, Stern also argued that SCOTUS was right to dismiss the case, rather than hear it. In part, he argues, that's because this Court has been packed so far to the extreme right. "We should be very afraid of what the Court would say," he tells me. "And that fear is enough for us to just hope that the Justices put off a decision on this matter for as long as humanly possible."

But I disagree with Stern and, in a very spirited debate, explain why. Who wins that one? Tune in and decide for yourself.

Stern also comments today on whether our failed former President should be concerned that his own packed and stolen U.S. Supreme Court, in an apparently unanimous decision on Monday, finally allowed Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance to obtain Trump's financial and tax records as part of Vance's grand jury criminal probe into alleged bank, tax and insurance fraud by Trump and his organization. In short, Stern asserts, "the answer is yes," Trump should be very concerned. "They're looking at felony offenses here, not just civil offenses, run-of-the-mill white collar stuff, but serious crimes. I do think there's a serious chance that we could see an indictment of Donald Trump coming down the pipeline in the near future." Though he does add a caveat or two.

Of even more immediate concern, Stern recently wrote, Trump's efforts to interfere with Georgia's election results --- for example, cajoling and threatening the state's Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to "find" enough votes to declare him the winner --- could spell trouble, and even jail time, even sooner.

"You'll see some people argue that Trump can't be convicted under this law --- the ban on criminal solicitation of election fraud --- because he didn't have the requisite state of mind, because he didn't actually want the Sec. of State to falsify records because he was deluded enough to believe that there were actually 12,000 secret votes for him out there that could be found. That's a question for the jury, that's not a question for the prosecutors or the grand jury. That is something Trump could argue at a criminal trial," says Stern, before adding: "I think that any reasonable reading of that transcript proves that Trump was, in fact, looking for the Secretary of State to falsify records, to commit election fraud. It is very difficult to read those sentences in any other way."

He explains why Trump could soon be looking at anywhere from 1 to 3 years in that criminal probe by the Fulton County (Atlanta) District Attorney and whether he thinks it is actually possible that a former President of the United States may actually receive prison time before all of this is said and done...

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Guest: Dr. Robert Bullard of TSU and Nat'l Black Environmental Justice Network; Also: COVID kills 500k in U.S.; SCOTUS denies Trump's last plea to protect his finance docs; Dominion's $1.7B suit against MyPillow CEO...
By Brad Friedman on 2/22/2021 7:03pm PT  

There was so much news over the weekend and into Monday that it began to feel a bit like the Trump Era again. Don't worry! It ain't. But it sure felt like it trying to get caught up on today's BradCast. (Or maybe it was barely making it on air in time after we learned the catalytic converter had been stolen from our Prius. Apparently, that's now a thing!) [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Among the stories covered at the top of today's show:

  • The U.S. reached the grim milestone of 500,000 confirmed deaths due to COVID-19, the disease which our failed former President had told us would simply "disappear like magic" when the weather warmed last year in Spring. Turns out he was genocidally wrong.
  • Speaking of Donald Trump the failure, it looks like he's finally run out of options to prevent his accounting firm, Mazars USA, from turning over subpoenaed tax and other financial documents to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr.'s criminal investigation into Trump's hush money payments to Stormy Daniels and into other allegedly fraudulent tax and loan schemes. The U.S. Supreme Court --- yes, even those in the stolen and packed seats filled with Trump appointees --- denied the disgraced former President's final appeal on Monday.
  • And, speaking of Trump-related frauds, his buddy Mike Lindell, the CEO of MyPillow, was sued today by Dominion Voting Systems for more than $1.7 billion dollars, in just the latest example of attempted accountability for the suckers who played along with Trump's Big Lie that the 2020 Presidential election was stolen by computerized voting and tabulation systems. Lindell, the wingnut Trump suckup who produced a silly documentary called Absolute Proof (which, as I explain, appears to contain everything but that), has ignored the private voting vendor's prior legal warnings to cease and desist his false claims alleging that Dominion's systems were used to steal the election for Joe Biden. Monday's Dominion suit against Lindell [PDF] is just the latest. The company previously sued Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani [PDF] and Sidney Powell [PDF] for the same amount in each suit. Another company, Smartmatic --- which has only one contract in the U.S. (here in Los Angeles County, not in any of the battleground states) --- was similarly targeted by Team Trump's Big Lie, as they re-imagined a BRAD BLOG exclusive from 2010 to support their evidence-free claims. They have recently sued Fox "News" [PDF], several of their hosts, as well as Giuliani and Powell for $3.7 billion. We suspect there are still more such suits to come.

Then, as Texas finally begins to thaw out from a massive winter storm that knocked out power and water to millions in the state last week (thanks to the Lone Star State's deregulated system that left it up to private power utilities to decide if they wished to winterize their systems --- they held onto their profits instead, go figure!), it is, once again, the most poor and disenfranchised minority communities who are likely to have the most difficult time recovering. As is too often the case after such disasters, communities of color are likely to pay the biggest price for it.

We're joined today by DR. ROBERT BULLARD, Distinguished Professor at Texas Southern University, author of some 18 books, co-chair of the National Black Environmental Justice Network, and known as the "Father of Environmental Justice". Bullard himself was a victim of last week's power failures in Houston for several days.

"Texas prides itself on being the Lone Star State," he tells me. "But this severe weather event and the power outages and loss of water, has shown us that we are the ALONE Star State. Our energy policy of go it alone, keep the federal government out, doesn't make any sense. And it's never made any sense. We need to re-join the United States [and] rejoin the grid."

"They planned it on the cheap. These [Texas] officials had the nerve, they had the gall to say 'Oh, it's the windmills causing the problem.' In Texas, we have privatized the energy system to the point where people gambled --- they gambled and lost," he says.

Bullard explains the concept of "Environmental Justice" in layman's terms for us, as the need to overcome decades of redlining and poverty that has resulted in a disproportionate impact on minority communities when it comes to pollution, natural disasters and climate change itself. We discuss the "cascading threats that are pushed into certain communities. That's the double whammy, the triple whammy --- what the medical folks call 'co-morbidity', but we call it 'You get hit with everything damn thing!'" He adds: "How these things intersect, it means that these communities are limited when the lights go out, limited in terms of their ability to bounce back. This, for communities that are struggling with a challenge, with a disaster, and the disaster that will unfold when they get these big bills, when the shutoffs come."

On the positive side, however, on the same day that Joe Biden's Attorney General-designate Merrick Garland cited "communities of color and other minorities [who do not have equal justice and] bear the brunt caused by pandemic, pollution and climate change," during his Senate confirmation hearing, Bullard is optimistic. He says he is encouraged by the new Biden Administration's promises to tackle systemic racism and the need for environmental justice.  "These issues were on the ballot in November and we won," Bullard asserts. "We won on policies and platforms that brings justice at the center. Not a footnote, but a headline.  Environmental justice, climate justice, economic justice, racial justice, energy justice, health justice. JUSTICE is the headline"...

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Survival of the republic may now hinge on a wide-ranging criminal probe...
By Ernest A. Canning on 2/15/2021 11:01am PT  

It's bad enough that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), based upon deeply flawed opinion memos, issued by its own Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), believes a sitting President cannot be prosecuted while in office for his or her crimes.

Now, 43 Republican Senators have sought to justify their "not guilty" votes in Donald J. Trump's second impeachment trial based on the specious assertion that an impeached President cannot be tried in the Senate for crimes committed while in office after he/she is no longer in office. That disingenuous notion is at odds with historical Senate precedent, the opinions of more than 170 legal scholars from both the Right and Left, and a simple reading of the plain text of the U.S. Constitution, not to mention the Senate's own decisive, bi-partisan, 56-44 majority vote at the start of this latest Senate Impeachment trial establishing that such a trial is indeed Constitutional.

Obviously most of the 43 "impartial" Republican jurors --- a number of whom share responsibility for the insurrection because they either directly perpetrated or failed to timely refute the Big "Stop the Steal" Lie --- latched onto the "no jurisdiction" defense in a desperate effort to erect plausible deniability for themselves. A fig leaf, if you will, designed to conceal their own duplicity and cowardice. Indeed, the remarks by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered on the floor of the Senate immediately after he cast his "not guilty" vote reveal that the factual case presented by the House Managers was both clear and convincing.

For that reason, an historically huge, bi-partisan, 57-43 majority of the U.S. Senate found Trump guilty as charged of "Incitement of Insurrection". That there were enough misinformed, duplicitous or simply cowardly Republican Senators to prevent the two-thirds vote required to meet the incredibly high bar for conviction under Senate Impeachment rules is of little moment.

A political impeachment process is very different from a legal proceeding. There are, in fact, grave statutory crimes at the heart of Trump's most recent Article of Impeachment, including 18 U.S. Code § 373 - Solicitation to commit a crime of violence; 18 U.S. Code § 2383 - Rebellion or insurrection; and 18 U.S. Code § 2384 - Seditious conspiracy. With that in mind, the DOJ's failure or refusal to prosecute the former President could result in impunity with respect to an Office that is already considered the most powerful on earth.

Trump's attempted coup may have failed, but if we cloak the Office of the President with impunity, we invite a more skilled, future demagogue to do anything --- legal or illegal --- to retain power. To counter that more-serious-than-ever concern, the DOJ, under the leadership of Attorney General-designate Merrick Garland, must investigate and prosecute the former President for violations of applicable federal laws...

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Landmark bill would enact long-overdue voting reforms, but needs at least one key rewrite to close a loophole regarding hand-marked paper ballots...
By Ernest A. Canning on 2/5/2021 10:35am PT  

As their first official bills in each chamber of Congress --- H.R.1 in the House and S.1 in the Senate --- Democrats are proposing a remarkably ambitious election, campaign and ethics reform measure which would go a long way towards enhancing our system of democracy. At least one important rewrite is needed, however, in order to close a loophole in its mandate regarding hand-marked paper ballots.

H.R.1 or the For The People Act of 2021, was introduced by Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) with hundreds of Democratic co-sponsors on January 4. It is supported by both Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

With the exception of partisan gerrymandering as applied to State legislative offices --- which is out of the hands of federal lawmakers --- the bill would, for all intents and purposes, outlaw a wide array of voter suppression, intimidation and deceptive practices that have, for decades, been used to undermine American democracy.

The massive bill, clocking in at nearly 800 pages, also includes Congressional ethics reforms and other important measures, but we focus here on the statute's provisions to help outlaw suppressive measures and improve election security, transparency and the verifiability of results.

As presently written, the measure appears to mandate the use of "voter verified permanent paper ballots" in all federal elections. That aspect, however, must be improved with minor, but very important revisions to mandate the availability of hand-marked paper ballots --- the only type that can be known to be "voter verifiable" --- for all voters at the polling place for both early and Election Day voting.

H.R.1 also includes provisions for either hand-counting of paper ballots or the use of optical scanning computers accompanied by Risk Limiting Audits. It includes mechanisms to fund those post-election activities.

The bill provides for minimum periods during which States must make early voting available in federal elections and promotes, streamlines and secures mail-in voting. It tightens ethical standards and also takes a stab at reducing the role of dark money in campaigns, while prohibiting the presence of foreign money and interference in our elections. This includes a mandate that TV, radio and online platforms "make reasonable efforts to ensure that [election-related] communications...are not purchased by a foreign national".

The real question isn't whether H.R.1, if appropriately amended, should become law. The question is whether a sufficient number of Senators are willing and able to do what is necessary to ensure it becomes law...

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Guest: Impeachment expert Ron Fein of Free Speech for People; Also: DHS warns of domestic terror threat in wake of Trump's 'voter fraud' lies...
By Brad Friedman on 1/27/2021 7:16pm PT  
NOW CELEBRATING THE BRAD BLOG'S 17th ANNIVERSARY!
WE WELCOME YOUR ANNIVERSARY SUPPORT/DONATIONS HERE!

And here I thought dealing with one President in a single hour on The BradCast was tough. Now we've got the previous one on trial after his second impeachment and a new one unveiling an ambitious new agenda to begin cleaning up the other guy's horrific mess, particularly on climate today...and not a moment too soon! [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

First up today, the Department of Homeland Security issues a new warning about ongoing threats of violence by domestic, home-grown terrorists in the U.S., many of whom have been radicalized by Donald Trump's many lies about the 2020 election having been stolen.

Then, It's been only three weeks since Trump encouraged his MAGA Mob to march down Pennsylvania Avenue and "fight like hell" to prevent the formal counting of Electoral College votes by the U.S. Congress. The attempted insurrectionists violently broke into the U.S. Capitol, called for the hanging of the Vice President, succeeded in shutting down the tally for several hours and sent lawmakers fleeing for their lives into secured locations. Five people were killed, including a Capitol Police officer, in the ensuing violence. One week later, then President Trump was impeached by the U.S. House for a second time, this time for "Incitement of Insurrection", though the Senate's then Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to convene a trial. One week after that, Joe Biden was successfully sworn in as President. And today, just three weeks to the day since the Trump-incited mob's murderous attack on the Capitol, with Democrats now officially in the Senate majority, Trump's second Impeachment Trial has officially begun.

While the arguments in the trial will not be presented in full for another two weeks, Republican Senator and pretend Constitutionalist Rand Paul forced a vote on Tuesday, just after Senators were sworn in as "impartial jurors", to try and dismiss the entire matter by falsely claiming that an Impeachment trial after a President is out of office is "unconstitutional". (Though he repeatedly argued that "private citizens" cannot be impeached and that "If the accused is no longer President - where is the constitutional power to impeach him?")

Joining us today to answer to the clearly false and almost-certainly disingenuous argument proffered by Paul --- and, incredibly, supported by 45 of the Senate's 50 Republicans who voted in favor of his resolution on Tuesday --  is Constitutional law expert RON FEIN of the non-partisan government accountability group Free Speech for People. Fein, with John Bonifaz and Ben Clements, authored the 2018 book, The Constitution Demands It: The Case for the Impeachment of Donald Trump

"The obvious flaw," in Paul's argument, Fein explains, is that Trump WAS impeached while he was President, and then McConnell stalled the process of the Senate trial by refusing to allow it to be held until Trump was already out of office." But on the broader issue, as he tells us, impeachment trials may absolutely be held after an official is out of office. "Congress has done it before and explicitly considered that exact question."

"If their argument was allowed to go forth, then what it would say is that any President can do whatever they want in the last couple of weeks of their term, because by the time they would get impeached, and by the time the Senate could convene for a trial, they'd be out of office already," he persuasively argues. "Disqualification from future office is an important remedy and penalty for impeachment. It is important to have that hanging over the head of a President even in their last couple of weeks in office."

We also discuss whether the votes of 45 GOP Senators --- including McConnell, who just last week conceded that Trump "provoked" the riot at the Capitol --- to dismiss the trial, signals that it will be impossible to win over the 17 Republicans needed to win the two-thirds vote necessary for a conviction; whether a vote can be held to prevent Trump from holding future office even without conviction; whether a second failure to win a conviction in a second impeachment would redound to Trump's benefit; and whether a resolution to censure the disgraced former President would serve as any kind of deterrent for similar behavior in the future (by Trump or other future Presidents), in the event that he is not convicted once again.

Fein also rings in with his thoughts in response to the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court which, on Monday, dismissed two cases regarding Trump's alleged violation of the Constitution's Emoluments Clause as "moot" since he is no longer in office and why it took so long for the cases to even reach the high court. We also discuss whether Fein believes that Trump actually did pardon himself, but is keeping that pardon a secret, somehow, until he's actually charged with a federal crime.

Finally, in far less maddening news, it was "Climate Day" in Joe Biden's new White House on Wednesday! And the new President unveiled an historically ambitious climate agenda that will, among many other things, if successful, result in carbon emissions-free power, nationally, by 2035. Declaring that "we can't wait any longer" to address our worsening climate crisis, Biden detailed his new Executive Orders and Directives to "supercharge" the United States' efforts to combat global warming by pausing new oil and gas leases on federal lands, ending fossil fuel industry subsidies, and creating millions of new jobs in the electric car market and renewable energy industry, and by capping and closing old, unused mines and wells across the nation. His new Climate Envoy, former Sec. of State John Kerry and new White House National Climate Advisor, former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, also responded to media questions (naturally framed by rightwing talking points) during a White House briefing. We share some of their remarks, and the entirety of Biden's historic announcement during today's very busy BradCast...

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Also: Dominion Voting Systems sues Rudy Giuliani for $1.3 billion in yet another defamation suit against a Team Trump attorney...
By Brad Friedman on 1/25/2021 6:22pm PT  

If you thought the news might slow down a bit with Donald Trump finally out of office, you may still have to wait a while.  On today's BradCast, we pick up where Friday's left. Moments after we got off air a ton of astonishing news broke, and it has continued right up through airtime today.  Most notably, the stunning story of just how close the nation's mercifully former President actually came to stealing the election from Joe Biden and the American people is only just now beginning to come together. [Audio link to full show follows below summary.]

We start today --- (which, by the way, marks our 17th Anniversary of muck-raking and trouble-making via The BRAD BLOG! Please feel free to help us continue our reader/listener supported work into our 18th year with a much-needed donation!) --- with another $1.3 billion defamation suit filed against yet another Team Trump legal liar and defamer.  Following a similar suit filed by Dominion Voting Systems against Trump's attorney Sidney Powell just weeks ago, his lead election-theft attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has now also been slapped with a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit by the Canadian-owned firm.

The 107-page complaint [PDF] filed on Monday, as we detail at some length today, charges that Giuliani repeatedly fueled Trump's "Big Lie" about the election and the repeatedly evidence-free claims that Dominion's systems were somehow used to steal it from Trump for Biden. These are the false claims that Giuliani made over and over again in public, on rightwing media and on his snake-oil peddling YouTube show, ironically named "Common Sense". They are also, as Dominion points out in the complaint, the same claims that Giuliani failed to make in a court of law, where he could actually be punished for his egregious and repeated "voter fraud" lies.

The company charges that the false information from Trump's attorney was also retweeted and shared millions of times on social media, leading to broad distrust and millions in potentially lost business by the private voting systems vendor. Giuliani's months long assault also resulted in a number of vile and violent death threats to company employees and contractors alike.

The central false claim by Giuliani --- which we have detailed on previous programs --- is based on a wildly bastardized and re-imagined version of a deep-dive investigative exclusive from The BRAD BLOG that I published more than 10 years ago. It relates to Dominion's 2010 purchase of another voting machine company that had once been owned by still another voting machine company that was once tied to Venezuela and its now deceased President, Hugo Chavez. My decade-old, completely accurate story was so bastardized by Rudy and Team Trump that, at one point, while he was giving false testimony about Dominion "fraud" to the GOP-majority Michigan state legislature in early December, Rudy claimed that Dominion's owners were brought "down to meet Chavez just two years ago."  (Chavez has been dead for seven years.)

As also explained today, we are no fans here of private voting companies having any place in our public elections. Nonetheless, Dominion is right to sue for the libelous and dangerous falsehoods repeatedly told by Team Trump, which also fueled the violent, attempted insurrection by the enraged and disinformed MAGA Mob at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Moreover, there may well be more such suits coming in the days ahead. The firm has indicated they may even file suit against Trump himself.

All of that served as the basis --- at least in Donald Trump's addled-brain, as we learned over the weekend --- for a gob-smacking, last minute attempt by the then President of the United States earlier this month to also stage a coup at the U.S. Justice Department! He reportedly attempted to replace his Acting Attorney General with yet another lackey who was willing to use the Dept. of Justice to file suit at Trump's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the 2020 Presidential election results in one or more states, and to lie to Georgia's elected officials that the DoJ was investigating major voter fraud in the state. That, the hare-brained but wildly dangerous scheme argued, should have then led Georgia state legislators to void the results and award the state's electors to Trump. In reality, Biden won the Peach State narrowly last November. There has been no credible evidence to suggest otherwise and, in fact, there has been quite a bit of evidence to suggest the results in Georgia were accurately tabulated by the Dominion systems.

On Friday, the New York Times' Katie Benner published the shocking scoop on that attempted DoJ coup, that --- along with several other pieces of reporting in recent days and weeks --- gets us a bit closer to understanding just how close Trump was to pulling a trigger that might have resulted in the complete undermining of American democracy and the stolen election he was after. We detail the plot to remove Trump's Acting Attorney General (the one he installed when even Bill Barr was unwilling to go along with Trump's phony election fraud scheme), prevented only by a vow of top officials at DoJ to resign en masse if Trump went through with it. The details, however, are as stunning as the story itself, and help to spell out exactly what Trump was hoping for with the insurrection he (and Giuliani!) incited at the Capitol on January 6th and how close he came to actually pulling it all off!

All of which underscores how the two week delay now scheduled in the U.S. Senate before Trump's second impeachment trial begins is likely to make things far worse, rather than better, for the disgraced, now former President.

Buckle up for today's latest edition of The BradCast!...

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Did the Framers really wish to give Get-Out-of-Jail Free cards to insurrectionists?...
By Ernest A. Canning on 1/15/2021 11:30am PT  

When Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe was interviewed by MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell last year, his remarks specifically related to Presidential self-pardons. His observations, however, reveal why the Department of Justice (DOJ) should also contest any effort by President Donald J. Trump to grant a pardon to anyone who could be considered a co-conspirator in carrying out an insurrection designed to allow the loser of the 2020 Presidential Election to remain in power...

If a self-pardon could be given recognition by any court, then the President would know that he could commit crimes from day one of his presidency to the end of four years --- even horrible crimes; crimes like treason, crimes like making war on his own people...That would, as George Mason said, turn us from a constitutional republic to a monarchy, or worse.

In an amicus brief [PDF] filed late last year in the Michael Flynn case, the legal advocacy group, Free Speech for People (FSFP) observed that, while the U.S. Supreme Court, in Schick v Reed (1974), described the Presidential pardon power as "plenary", or absolute, the Court added that the limitations on the pardon power, "if any, must be found in the Constitution itself." Citing a recent Georgetown Law Review article [PDF] that reached a similar conclusion, FSFP argued that the U.S. Constitution's command that a President ensure that the laws be "Faithfully Executed" broadly prevents a President from granting a pardon for a corrupt purpose.

Although U.S. District Court Judge Emmett Sullivan issued a 43-page Memorandum Opinion explaining that he had dismissed the Flynn case as moot following Flynn's acceptance of a Presidential pardon, the court neither referenced nor rejected the corrupt purpose limitation set forth by the FSFP amicus brief. Even if that ruling implicitly entailed a rejection of the FSFP argument, as applied to the Flynn case, it would not foreclose a DOJ challenge to the limits of the pardon power with respect to the unprecedented events that occurred on Jan. 6th.

This is not an abstract question. An attorney representing insurrectionist Jacob Anthony Chancey announced he'd request a Presidential pardon, Democracy Now's Amy Goodman reported. Evidence suggests that Chancey, who was filmed "shirtless, wearing buffalo horns and holding a spear", may be one of the rioters who intended "to capture and assassinate elected officials," according to Goodman. As rioters yelled "Hang Mike Pence", the charging documents allege, Chancey aka the "QAnon Shamen", left a note on the VP's desk that ominously warned that "it's only a matter of time, justice is coming", according to Anna Lucia Murillo of the Daily Beast.

No President, before this one, has ever been implicated in a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2383 - Rebellion or insurrection or 18 U.S. Code § 2384 - Seditious conspiracy. It is virtually impossible to believe that the framers of the U.S. Constitution intended the availability of the pardon power to be utilized as an instrument designed to entice others to assist in the ultimate violation of the solemn oath to see that the laws of the United States are "Faithfully Executed". The framers of the U.S. Constitution regarded the duty to "Faithful Execute" our laws as so central to our constitutional scheme of governance that Art. II, §1, Cl. 8 of the U.S. Constitution mandates that every President "shall" take the oath before entering office.

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Ernest A. Canning is a retired attorney, author, and Vietnam Veteran (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968). He previously served as a Senior Advisor to Veterans For Bernie. Canning has been a member of the California state bar since 1977. In addition to a juris doctor, he has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science. Follow him on twitter: @cann4ing




Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern on recent cases, Bill Barr, Kris Kobach and accountability for TX' attempt to overturn the election; Also: GOP now eating its own with GA's U.S. Senate runoffs underway...
By Brad Friedman on 12/15/2020 7:54pm PT  

On today's BradCast: While the GOP's packed and stolen 6 to 3 U.S. Supreme Court did the right thing last Friday in unanimously rejecting [PDF] indicted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's attempt to steal the 2020 election (and receive a Presidential Pardon for his thanks), there remains the question of accountability for those who signed on to the frivolous and arguably "seditious" attempt to undermine democracy. Especially from the 19 wingnut state Attorneys General who should both have known better and, according to our guest today, have a legal obligation to do so. In the meantime, SCOTUS made a couple of other rulings this week that have received far less notice, but that are also surprisingly good, given the Court's radical, far-right majority. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But first up today, a few quick observations on the Republican Party that now seems to be eating itself alive in the wake of Trump's loss. On yesterday's BradCast we noted the weekend MAGA Mob rally in D.C., where angry brain-poisoned Trump supporters broke into chants of "Destroy the GOP!" before booing Georgia's incumbent Republican U.S. Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue who are facing tough runoffs against Democratic challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff for contests that will determine control of the U.S. Senate on January 5.

Today, sore loser Donald Trump, who has been attacking Georgia's extremely Trumpy Republican Governor Brian Kemp and Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger for weeks in order to (absurdly) blame them, instead of himself, for losing the election in the state, upped the stakes considerably. He retweeted a message from a mentally unbalanced Georgia attorney and conspiracy theorist calling for Kemp and Raffensperger to be jailed. The post also includes Photoshopped graphics of Kemp and Raffensperger --- both of whom are Trump supporters that have faced death threats since Trump turned on them --- wearing masks with Chinese flags on them.

But, hey, at least Mitch McConnell finally recognized the election of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris today, after Monday's Electoral College vote confirmed their "landslide" victory. Also, one "courageous" and very rightwing House Republican, on Monday, decided he has finally had enough of his colleagues' attacks on democracy itself and has announced he is officially becoming an "independent"...now that he'll be leaving Congress at the end of the year anyway.

Then its on to a number of not horrible things done over the past several days by the U.S. Supreme Court, as we are delighted to be joined once again by one of our very favorite legal reporters, MARK JOSEPH STERN of Slate.

On Monday, SCOTUS rejected an appeal by the state of Indiana in a years-long case brought by a number of married lesbian couples regarding marriage rights. The couples all had children using artificial insemination, but Indiana law had forced the spouses of the women who gave birth to go through onerous, expensive adoption procedures in order to become a legal parent. There is no such requirement for men in opposite-sex marriages to do so in similar situations. Happily, the Court dismissed Indiana's challenge to lower courts which found the state's law unconstitutional, in what might have been the first chance to roll back marriage equality protections since Amy Coney Barrett was rammed onto the Court.

Also on Monday, SCOTUS put a merciful end, once and for all, to the voter suppression law written by disgraced former Kansas Sec. of State and GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach requiring proof of citizenship papers when registering to vote in the state. The 2013 law would have disenfranchised tens of thousands of legal Kansas voters and was found unconstitutional by court after court. The SCOTUS decision to not hear the case finally makes Kobach's unnecessary law a dead letter, though Stern says he believes it's likely to pop up again in similar forms from other states, given the radical, anti-voter, anti-immigrant, anti-democracy fever running rampant right now in the GOP.

In addition to a eulogy, of sorts, for the pathetic "clownish" legacy of Kansas' failed former Sec. of State, failed gubernatorial candidate and failed Senatorial candidate, Kobach --- who is also now mixed up with an anti-immigrant "Build the Wall" group facing fraud charges with Steve Bannon --- Stern unloads with another eulogy for the legacy of another similarly disgraced rightwinger today, U.S. Attorney General and Trump fixer Bill Barr. Trump tweeted on Monday that Barr would be leaving DoJ just weeks before the one-term President leaves office, after Barr had the temerity to admit that there is no known evidence of mass voter fraud that stole the election for Biden.

Barr, Stern argues, is "more offensive, terrifying and obnoxious" than Trump himself, because he is "
a creature of the Republican Establishment, a creature of the conservative legal movement. Bill Barr is at the heart of it." He believes "Barr did immense damage to the rule of law" and "may have permanently hobbled the Justice Department's integrity and legitimacy." That's just part of Stern's invective for Barr, who he describes as "just an awful person, and I wish him nothing but bad luck for the rest of his life."

Finally, we dig into the mess surrounding the shameless attempt to win a Presidential Pardon by TX Attorney General Paxton, who, as he filed his suit last week, was also subpoenaed by the FBI in a bribery and abuse of power investigation by the FBI. His lawsuit [PDF] filed with SCOTUS on behalf of Texas, sought to nullify all of the votes --- some 20 million of them --- in four different states (Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia) in a fruitless attempt to steal the election for Trump. We've got lots to discuss on this today. The radical legal concept at the center of Paxton's case (and several others which similarly failed over the past month) would nullify all election laws, rules and regulations not expressly enacted by state legislatures and ONLY state legislatures. In addition to turning centuries of American democracy and voting rights on its head, this literal, radical, ill-considered, "textualist " or "originalist" reading of the Constitution's Elections Clause --- arguing that Governors, Secretaries of State and even state courts may have no say at all over election rules --- would have broad ramifications for all sorts of other laws. For example, as we discuss, if Governors may no longer veto State Legislatures regarding election laws, does that mean a President may not veto Congress on tax laws, given they are granted the power of taxation in the Constitution by a similarly literal reading?

While SCOTUS rejected Paxton's case on jurisdictional grounds Friday night, many of the failed cases brought by Team Trump hoping to overturn the election results over the past month similarly relied on that radical theory. They were tossed before that question could be answered by the courts, however. So, will Republicans continue to push for a SCOTUS opinion on this matter from the high court in the months and years ahead? Stern believes that, before Amy Coney Barrett was added to the Court, there were at least four Justices who had signaled willingness to support the radical theory.

Should Texas' election results also be thrown out under Paxton's theory, given that its Governor Greg Abbott, without legislative approval, limited mail-in dropboxes to just one per county for November? How about Alabama's results, where its Republican Sec. of State John Merrill decreed curbside voting to be unlawful in a case which was met with approval by SCOTUS earlier this year?

Also, what of the 18 state Attorneys General who signed on to Paxton's cuckoo complaint, who are members of the bar and officers of the court with a duty to not bringing frivolous, much less arguably "seditious" (as Pennsylvania's defendant AG described it) lawsuits. Should they be punished in some way? Can they be sanctioned for their actions? And, as one caller asked during yesterday's show, should all of these repeated attempts filed by Republicans in hopes of overturning a legitimate Presidential election be regarded as "treasonous"? (My answer yesterday was "no", but does Stern agree?)

All of that and much more on today's very lively --- and, hopefully, informative --- BradCast!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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