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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: Philly Inquirer's Will Bunch; Also: Garland vows accountability for 'all Jan. 6 perpetrators, at any level'; Coward Trump cancels anniversary presser; Hannity's insider testimony sought by House 1/6 Committee...
By Brad Friedman on 1/5/2022 6:24pm PT  

One year after the former President's attempt to steal the 2020 election by hurling the bodies of his supporters at the U.S. Capitol, we're more convinced than ever on The BradCast that, as the New York Times Editorial Board declared on New Years Day, "Every Day is Jan. 6 Now". [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

We will soon be entering our 19th year at The BRAD BLOG of trying to warn about the ongoing and worsening threats facing American democracy. But the rising tide of authoritarianism in this nation is now more of a threat than at any time in modern decades. If American democracy falls, so does virtually every other pressing demand, like the need to save humanity from the ravages of climate change. So, yeah. It's kind of important, and we will continue to stay on this beat as long as necessary, as long as we can.

Toward that end today, the despicable, disgraced, twice-impeached, failed, loser of a former President, Donald Trump, who lied about voter and election fraud in order to try and steal a Presidential election, cancelled his planned press conference at Mar-a-Lago on the first anniversary of his pathetic, desperate and deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol. As it turns out, he's both a coward and didn't actually have anything to say that hasn't already been heard and/or debunked as bullshit.

His ridiculously (but not surprisingly) childish statement announcing he was calling off the presser came just hours after his pal, Sean Hannity of Fox 'News', was politely invited to answer questions from the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Capitol assault and Trump's attempt to steal the election which lead up to it. The Committee makes clear in its letter [PDF] that they have already obtained many documents from others regarding Hannity's insider status and direct conversations with Trump in the days before, during and after the attack. While the Committee explained their efforts to go out of their way to avoid any First Amendment press freedom issues with Hannity, and even tried to appeal to his (pretend) patriotism, its unclear whether the Fox propagandist will cooperate.

Next, buttressing the persuasive argument made by Marcy Wheeler with Nicole Sandler on The BradCast last week, Attorney General Merrick Garland, facing pressure from the left to bring accountability to Trump and his cronies, addressed DoJ officials on Wednesday on the occasion of the first anniversary of last year's Capitol attack. After detailing the more than 700 arrests made to date, and at least 250 perpetrators who are still being sought for assaulting law enforcement officials that day, Garland promised the probe was far from complete and was following the facts of the case from the bottom up.

"The Justice Department remains committed to holding all Jan. 6 perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law --- whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy," the AG vowed, adding: "We will follow the facts wherever they lead."

He also highlighted how the U.S. Supreme Court has radically gutted the Voting Rights Act twice over the past decade, and called again for new federal legislation to give the DoJ tools they need to assure the right to vote and to combat state legislatures institutionalizing the ability to subvert election results on a partisan whim.

Finally, we're joined again today by WILL BUNCH, longtime national correspondent and columnist at Philadelphia Inquirer. Bunch was with us on January 6th last year for a wild ride of a broadcast that day as the Capitol was still under assault during the official confirmation of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory as we went to air. At the time, it was particularly unclear what exactly the MAGA Mob was doing and how they might be stopped.

Among the topics of our conversation one year later with Bunch (who just tested positive for COVID!): Lessons learned since Jan. 6 and the many questions still unknown; The many, still confusing reasons and explanations as to why it took so long for law enforcement to respond to the worse attack on the Capitol in two centuries (he suggests part of that was due to "a dog that didn't bark"); Whether or not there should have been more accountability brought by the Justice Department by now (he notes that the Watergate probe took much longer); And his thoughts on Garland's comments at the DoJ today...among much more!

"Honestly, it's taken a full year and it's taken really diligent, praise-worthy work from the January 6th Committee in the House to bring into focus some of what we saw happening that day, that we didn't fully understand in real time," Bunch observes. "What the goals were, who was behind what and why. We've learned so much in the last twelve months."

We've got a lot to discuss on today's program...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: 'A lot of people are about to get sick' due to 'explosive' Omicron...
By Brad Friedman on 12/16/2021 6:30pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we cover both COVID and SCOTUS and how to try and stay safe from and/or fight back against the very serious threats now posed by both of these hideous, rogue, all-caps acronyms. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

First up, it's COVID. Specifically, the Omicron variant, as the CDC finds that, according to their latest data, unvaccinated people are 14 times more likely to die and 11 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than those who are vaccinated. Those numbers seem to refer to those vaccinated by two mRNA shots without a booster shot, which is now key to fighting the quickly rising threat of Omicron.

As Josh Marshall bluntly warns in one of his chilling recent updates on newly emerging data on the new, highly transmissible variant --- which still include a number of unknowns --- "A lot of people are about to get sick."

New studies just coming in from around the world suggest that Omicron is incredibly aggressive, even for those with some immunity from two vaccine shots or previous infection. A booster shot, the studies are finding, help tremendously to ward off both the likelihood of infection, as well as the worst symptoms. Two doses and a booster will roughly offer the same protection against Omicron as two shots alone did against Delta. Marshall reports the data show "late December through January will be explosive in terms of numbers of infections" in the U.S. He repeated a similar warning based on newer incoming data on Omicron last night: "The rate of growth is simply explosive. There’s no other way to put it...we should expect a very, very large wave of infections in the coming weeks...The pace and scope of the surge looks likely to be something like the original one in the Spring of 2020."

Too many people, I believe, have been placating themselves on the somewhat misleading data point suggesting Omicron infection appears to be less severe than previous variants. There are a number of reasons that it could be (including the fact that many now have at least some immunity due to vaccination or antibodies from a previous infection), but the severity level misses the point of the somewhat terrifying transmissibility numbers emerging right now and how that is likely to overwhelm health systems in this country and result in a lot of people dying. A more mild disease that infects 5 times more people is equally or potentially even more deadly.

The current surge under way in the U.S. is still almost entirely comprised of Delta cases. Once Omicron --- which is really good at breaking through immunity created by both infection antibodies and vaccines --- begins to rise over the next 2 to 4 weeks, things could get really bad on several levels. We are already seeing deaths spike again to more than 1,700 a day in the U.S., and that's almost entirely from Delta.

Bottom line: Get boosted. "It's not a marginal difference" from two shots, Marshall advises, based on a very close reading of emerging data and discussion with experts, "It's a big one." He goes on to write: "I would also seriously consider limiting obvious vectors of exposure: indoor activities in large groups, eating indoors, large crowds indoors or out. We all have our own levels of risk aversion and we can’t hide forever. But you should assume that your risk of being exposed to COVID is about to go up a lot. So plan accordingly.

Of course, he's hardly the only one sending this similar message. "All the models right now are flashing bright red," warns New York "Intelligencer" science writer David Wallace-Wells in one of his latest pieces headlined "Omicron is About to Overwhelm Us: The new COVID variant has all the makings of a mass wave." Pay attention please. Get boosted.

Next up, it's SCOTUS. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) penned a blistering --- if absolutely correct on every key point --- op-ed at Boston Globe yesterday, calling for the expansion of the Republicans "packed" and "stolen" and "corrupt" Supreme Court. The call comes not a moment too soon (and, perhaps a year or so too late). Still, it's good to hear elected officials speak as directly about the threat now posed by this corrupted, partisan Court to "basis principles of law" which now "threaten the democratic foundations of our nation."

We share most of her piece on air today. But if you don't listen to the show, read her must-read piece. She breaks down precisely how Mitch McConnell's hypocritical "Republican court-packing has undermined the legitimacy of every action the current court takes" as its illegitimate 6 to 3 rightwing "supermajority will continue to threaten basic liberties for decades to come." Democrats, she advises, must exercise their Constitutional Article III, Section 1 authority to change the size of the Court, as Congress has done at least seven times before. That number doesn't even include what happened after McConnell, corruptly "reduced the size of the court for over a year solely for ... partisan gain and then turned around and jammed through another nominee days before losing the presidency."

But, as welcome as op-eds are, action is better. So we were delighted when, immediately after the Supremes last week once again allowed Texas' clearly unconstitutional six-week abortion ban law to stay in place, the Governor of California announced plans for actual action to push back. If its now judicially acceptable to write laws that both undermine Constitutional rights and evade judicial review by allowing private citizens to enforce it, as the Texas law does, the same can be done with other rights.

On Saturday, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared his intention to "work with the Legislature and the Attorney General on a bill that would create a right of action allowing private citizens to seek injunctive relief, and statutory damages of at least $10,000 per violation plus costs and attorney’s fees, against anyone who manufactures, distributes, or sells an assault weapon or ghost gun kit or parts in the State of California."

"If states can now shield their laws from review by the federal courts that compare assault weapons to Swiss Army knives, then California will use that authority to protect people’s lives, where Texas used it to put women in harm’s way," the Governor noted in his brief statement. "If the most efficient way to keep these devastating weapons off our streets is to add the threat of private lawsuits, we should do just that."

He seems quite serious. And so does New York Attorney General Leticia James who, when asked about whether her state might take similar actions to Newsom's this week on ABC's The View, cited the outrageous immunity against prosecution that gun manufacturer's have been afforded by federal statute to say: "Yes! When I heard about that, I said to my team, we need to follow his lead."

Good. It's remarkable that the extremist radical rightwingers on the High Court either didn't see this coming, or didn't care. Of course, if the Supremes are cool with the Texas law as written, what is to stop any state from allowing "lawful" private, vigilante law suits against people who are simply exercising their First Amendment rights by, say, wearing a MAGA hat or being members of the Republican Party? In truth, nothing stops that at all, which is why Sen. Warren's op-ed is so on point.

Finally, as if those threats are aren't enough, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more threats to our climate than the Supreme Court should allow us to fit into six minutes...

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 host Nicole Sandler with Just Care USA's Dr. Diane Archer...
By Nicole Sandler on 12/10/2021 3:43pm PT  

Brad and Desi are out today, getting their COVID booster vaccines. They did it on a Friday so that if they have any side effects, they'll be fine by Monday, hopefully in time for their next show. So, today you got me again, NICOLE SANDLER, guest hosting today's BradCast. [Audio link to today's show follows this summary below.]

Medicare Open Enrollment ended on Tuesday, but I learned that you can still make changes to your plan during a special period that runs from January to March. So, with that in mind, I'm sharing an interview I did on my show on Monday, the day before open enrollment ended.

But, first up today, some of today’s news headlines, including the Supreme Court's ruling on the Texas abortion ban case, S.B. 8; the threat posed to Ukraine by Russia; the UK court determining that Julian Assange may be extradited to the U.S. to stand trial; the successful vote to create a union shop at a Starbucks in Buffalo, New York and the decision by Kellogg's to replace striking workers at their Michigan factory with scabs (and an Internet scheme that has crashed that plan); how Big Pharma has raised prices far in excess of the current rate of inflation, and more.

Then...by now, you've probably been inundated with commercials about Medicare Advantage. Remember the old adage, if something seems too good to be true, it usually is? That applies to healthcare too. Not only is Medicare Advantage not what they present it to be, it is an instrument leading to the privatization of Medicare.

And from an article I read at Common Dreams last week, I learned that there's another Medicare privatization scheme that started under Trump and is still forging ahead during the Biden years, called Direct Contracting.

So today, I speak with DR. DIANE ARCHER of JustCareUSA.org, who truly explains all you need to know about traditional Medicare and gap insurance, Medicare Advantage, and the new Direct Contracting program. And as I mentioned during the interview, there's an explanation of what it takes to buy a Medicare gap policy after you've been in a Medicare Advantage program. Find that explainer here. But beware, it's not pretty!

For those of us still too young for Medicare, we're still in the open enrollment period for the ACA (or, Obamacare) through healthcare.gov or your state exchange. Biden's pandemic relief bill, the American Rescue Plan, that was passed soon after he tool office really brought down our costs. So if you go to the exchange, you can find good insurance at a very good price.

To be covered on Jan. 1, you must enroll by Dec. 15. Open enrollment runs through Jan. 15...

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!




Guest: Univ. of KY election law professor Joshua A. Douglas; Also: Media fail again in reporting on latest, wildly misleading jobs numbers...
By Brad Friedman on 12/3/2021 7:13pm PT  

Should Democrats draw extreme partisan gerrymanders in states they control the way Republicans are doing in states where they have control over redistricting maps? On today's BradCast we have a very animated debate on the issue, along with a discussion of the few other ways that fans of democracy may still try and save the republic from the GOP's unabashed authoritarian lurch toward minority rule. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up today, a few quick thoughts on the corporate media, yet again, wildly misreporting national economic news amid the very robust --- and, in many ways, record --- recovery, while the country attempts to come out from under its pandemic-induced recession. On Friday, new numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) declared that America's unemployment rate continue to tumble to just 4.2% --- a remarkable, nearly half point decline since just last month to virtually where it was pre-pandemic. Nonetheless, morning headlines focused instead on lower than expected new jobs created in November, which sent the stock markets tumbling once again. That, even though, over the past year, the BLS has substantially upwardly revised previously reported monthly jobs numbers every single month except for one. They've done so with numbers that are nearly double or more than the initially reported monthly BLS statistics, amounting to nearly 1 million more jobs in 2021 than initially reported.

While its unclear why initial BLS numbers are now so far off the mark. Historically, they always revise. But, this year, post-pandemic survey numbers have been wildly off for some reason. The consequences both politically and economically have been huge. The fact that the corporate media can't seem to account for that by now in their panicked reports with each new "disappointing" set of numbers --- which will almost certainly be revised up very soon --- remains disturbing. That, as media continue to misreport on inflation and downplay positive economic news such as the lowest number of new weekly jobless claims since 1969 just last week; the nearly 1 million new jobs created this year alone; and the 1.1 million jobs filled since just last month's BLS report, to name a few points that have received much less notice from the media...for some reason. If the media can't adjust for the misleading initial BLS reports themselves, perhaps Biden's Labor Dept. Secretary should help them.

THEN, as we've been documenting, Republican-controlled states around the nation continue to implement new, extremely partisan redistricting maps for U.S. House and state legislators following the 2020 census. With computer-drawn precision, these new maps will ensure GOP gains in 2022 --- and a Republican majority in the U.S. House --- even if America votes exactly as they did in 2020, when Democratic House candidates received nearly 5 million more votes than GOP candidates.

Two years ago, the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court declared they would not intercede in fights over partisan gerrymanders. So, how can Democrats push back against this anti-democracy putsch by Republicans hoping to secure minority rule in the House for the next decade (adding to already existing minority rule in the Senate and electoral college, as baked into the Constitution, and on the Supreme Court, thanks to Republicans gaming the system there in recent years)?

We're joined today for a lively discussion on exactly that by JOSHUA A. DOUGLAS, author and election law professor at University of Kentucky's J. David Rosenberg College of Law. Last week, he proffered at least one solution in an op-ed at Politico calling for litigation in state courts all over the country, now that SCOTUS has washed their hands of the matter, while Democratic obstructionists in the Senate (Manchin and Sinema) block the party's ability to reform the filibuster in order to ban partisan gerrymandering nationwide in the Freedom to Vote Act.

"It was thought to be that the House of Representatives would be 'the people's house', the body that would represent a majority of the people and be a check on some of these other institutions that might give outsized weight to the smaller states, the rural states --- in the pre-Civil War era, the states that were trying to protect slavery," Douglas explains today. "But now, with sophisticated computers and algorithms where we can predict with such accuracy how people are going to vote, the House has become completely out of whack, such that Democrats need to win a lot more than 50 percent plus 1 in order to gain a majority in that chamber."

With federal courts no longer an option for the time being, Douglas notes that almost all states have constitutions that, unlike the U.S. Constitution, grant citizens an affirmative, fundamental right to vote. Those provisions, declaring that elections must be "free" or "free and equal" or "free and open", can and should be exploited to challenge the parties in power currently drawing maps that deprive residents of those rights, he argues. "My argument is that state courts should robustly use these phrases to protect democracy, and to throw out maps that are so skewed that the maps don't represent a fair democracy, a fair majoritarian rule, but instead keep the party in power to stay in power, to entrench them in power, just because of the way the lines are drawn."

Douglas observes that, while more challenges are beginning to be filed along those lines in state courts in recent days, he "was a little surprised" that, at least until recently, there had been very few such challenges brought in state courts, despite legal foothold offered by many of those state constitutions. "If we're looking for a solution to a situation that is untenable for democracy, at least here's one where we've seen some success," he tells me. "Just a couple of years ago, both the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the North Carolina Supreme Court relied on their state constitutions to strike down gerrymandering maps in those states. And other states' Supreme Courts have relied on their state constitutions for other democracy decisions, other issues involving the right to vote. So we have some precedent that is favorable to using these state constitutions robustly."

While I also support such challenges --- along with sharing Douglas' call for reforming the Senate filibuster to allow passage of federal legislation that would ban partisan gerrymanders in all 50 states --- I've also recently been forced to reluctantly change my position on partisan gerrymanders in states controlled by Democrats. I believe "blue" states should not unilaterally disarm. That, due to the threat to democracy itself now posed by the GOP gerrymandering scheme to "win" a House majority with a minority of votes in 2022 and then use that majority to steal the Presidential election in the House in 2024, as Douglas himself warns against in a separate op-ed this week at CNN.

Despite his assertion in his CNN piece that "we must treat the 2022 election as existential for the continued vitality of our democracy," noting that "American democracy barely survived 2020. The attacks on 2024 are already underway" and "Whether they succeed will depend on what we do right now," Douglas remains firmly opposed to tit-for-tat partisan gerrymandering by Democrats and explains why.

He and I have that out in a very lively debate to close out today's program...

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: Activist, author Kenny Bruno on 'DEFCON for Democracy'; Also: Fourth student dies after MI high school gun massacre...
By Brad Friedman on 12/1/2021 5:51pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's a grim day in America. But it's one that every American should be paying very close attention to nonetheless. [Audio link to full show posted at the end of this summary.]

First up today, a fourth student, a 17-year old, has died following Tuesday's mass shooting by a 15-year old at Oxford High School in Michigan. The other three victims who were killed, as well as seven other students who remained in the hospital overnight after being shot, were all aged 14 to 17. The shooter used his father's new semi-automatic pistol purchased just last Friday to carry out the massacre. There were still seven more bullets in the weapon when he surrendered to authorities. But, that's "freedom" for ya in 2021 America, apparently.

On Wednesday morning, the Republicans' stolen and packed 6 to 3 U.S. Supreme Court majority met to consider removing the previously long-settled freedom for a woman to determine her own reproductive rights in all 50 states. The case heard at SCOTUS was Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the last remaining abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi, where legislators have adopted a law that would ban all abortions in the state after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The measure was overturned in lower courts after being found a clear violation of the nearly 50-year old Roe v. Wade precedent set in 1973 and reaffirmed as settled law in 1992's Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

When MS filed their initial appeal at the Supreme Court they sought approval for their then-radical 15-week ban. It was only after last year's death of abortion rights champion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and her subsequent replacement on the Court by the far-right Amy Coney Barret just eight days before the 2020 Presidential election, that the state decided to also ask the court to strike down Roe in its entirety.

Little, if anything, has changed legally since 1992 regarding the reproductive rights Constitutionally guaranteed by Roe and reaffirmed by Casey. But the make-up of the High Court itself has changed radically. Its majority has been stolen by Republicans who cancelled the filibuster in the Senate in order to pack three, hard-right Donald Trump appointees onto it. That fact, made clear by MS legislators themselves, led Justice Sonia Sotomayor to aptly ask the state's Republican Attorney General today: "Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?"

Good question. Of course, the answer is that those on the political Right don't actually care. As the twice federally indicted Steve Bannon recently noted on his War Room radio show/podcast, Republicans are only interested in "taking over" --- from school boards to the White House --- and whether or not their hardball methods result in "a Constitutional crisis," they really don't care. "We're a big and tough country and we can handle that," he preached to his followers.

To that end, Republican officials across the country are, right now, hoping to break American democracy itself, by installing loyalist Trump party apparatchik in key election administration positions, from precinct judges to county clerks to canvassing boards to Secretaries of State, as Washington Post reported in great detail on Monday. The Plot to Steal the 2024 Election is underway RIGHT NOW. Ignore these warnings at all of our peril.

We're joined today by longtime progressive activist and author KENNY BRUNO who offered a similarly chilling --- and even more direct --- warning at Truthout over the weekend, spelling out how Trump and the GOP have already "laid the groundwork for assuming the U.S. presidency regardless of the result of the 2024 election." He details today how "most of the conditions they would need to execute [their plan] is already in place."

"Often you see it covered, or you see various aspects covered, as if they were disparate things," Bruno explains, "like the treatment of Liz Cheney, the sham audit in Arizona, the repetition of the Big Lie, the new voter suppression laws in 19 states --- covered as if they are disparate things. But the simplest explanation is that they are all part of a plan," he charges, before spelling out exactly how that plan is meant to work between now and the certification of state electors on January 6, 2025.

To "undermine faith in elections" in order to steal a Presidential election, Bruno argues, "you would want radical state legislatures, especially in swing states. You would want a majority of states with a majority of loyal members of Congress. You would want to purge moderate representatives and election officials who might not go along with ending democracy, who might not play ball. You'd want a compliant Supreme Court. You'd want to intimidate the election officials who are left. I could go on...These are things that you need in place. If you look now at Trump and the GOP, most of those boxes are already checked. And they're part of a comprehensive plan."

What --- if anything --- can be done about it? Well, the options in response, as also spelled out by Bruno in his op-ed and on today's program, are not great. But knowing and understanding what is going on is a critical first step. While we have been warning and reporting on this stuff seemingly forever (for example, while the actual attempt to steal the 2020 election was underway in advance of the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol), it seems the warnings are not being adequately amplified by either corporate media or Democrats, as Bruno sees it.

He goes on to note that his originally suggested title for his Truthout piece was "DEFCON for Democracy," before the headline was somewhat softened by editors. "I think if you understand the threat to be that severe, then you have to take drastic action. Unless you're talking about it, and preparing people for drastic action, they're not going to understand why it's justified," cautions Bruno. "This is a real threat, it's a real plan. The evidence is that it's being carried out. And if you want to stop it, you might have to take some drastic action."

"I would love to be wrong about the whole thing, to be honest," he concedes. "I think the most important thing at the moment is to talk about it, to call it out. Because if you don't socialize people to the idea that this steal, subversion, gaming of the Electoral College is underway, they won't be ready to accept your actions to defend it."

As noted, it's a grim day and a grim show today, but one that we hope will be well worth your time to listen in full...

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The walls are closing in on Trump. The courts are unlikely to save him.; Also: UK Prime Ministers remind us of what actual 'conservatives' sound like, as the fight to save humanity continues at COP26...
By Brad Friedman on 11/11/2021 6:20pm PT  

Even today's late breaking news, as we are able to make sense of it on today's BradCast, is unlikely to end well for our disgraced former President, while the U.S. House Select Committee continues to close in on their man.

We were forced to shake up today's show at the last minute, thanks to the late decision by a three judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. that buys Donald Trump a few more weeks until damning documents (including video tape and more) are likely to be turned over by the National Archives to the bipartisan House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. The deadline set for this Friday is now on hold for the moment.

There's been a whole bunch of legal rulings happening very quickly over the past three days, with U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan's Tuesday night, 39-page "Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President" ruling [PDF] being the most devastating for now. All of which culminated, as of today, in a temporary administrative injunction [PDF] issued on Thursday by three Democratic appointees to the D.C. Court of Appeals and a hearing, set on an expedited schedule, for November 30th on Trump's attempt to invoke Executive Privilege as a private citizen, in desperate hopes of blocking the release of those documents.

If you're having trouble keeping up, don't worry. Today, we try to walk you through those legal rulings and where the case is heading, as the House Committee continues to make clear they have no intention of letting any of it go, in their probe of the insurrection incited by Trump as his last ditch effort to steal the 2020 election.

Top staffers in Mike Pence's office are now being brought into the probe, as top staffers in both the Trump Administration and Campaign are already facing subpoenas from the panel. The U.S. Supreme Court's previous sparse rulings on Executive Privilege from the Nixon Watergate-era do not bode well for the latest former President. That said, this Supreme Court, stolen and packed by Trump and the GOP, has also shown itself willing to ignore any and all precedent whenever they feel like it.

And while saving the nation from a bitter, angry, broken despot bent on revenge is no easy feat for any of us, imagine what it's like for the 196 nations meeting in Glasgow, Scotland right now to try and save humanity itself this week. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, of host nation Great Britain, goes to bat for the planet in the closing, crunch-time hours of the COP26 U.N. Climate Summit. His remarks serve as a helpful reminder that real conservatives (unlike American ones) are not actually insane. And, also unlike American ones, they're also actually conservative.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, on the good news and bad coming out of the closing hours of the critical climate conference...

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

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

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

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

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 11/2/2021 11:38am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: BoJo dramatically kicks off landmark U.N. climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland; Big Oil CEOs testify in U.S. House on their decades of climate deception; PLUS: U.S. Supreme Court case seeks to dismantle EPA's authority to regulate emissions... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

GNR's now celebrating 12 YEARS of independent green news, politics, analysis, snarky comment and connecting climate change dots over your public airwaves!
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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): How today's elections may remake renewables, clean energy; U.S. Announces New Rules to Curtail Methane; Biden administration acknowledges impacts of oil and gas sales on public land, but hasn’t stopped them; Atacama Desert May Contain Secrets To Avoiding Climate Famine; Biden Admin To Require New Climate Analysis Before Oil Leasing; Trump EPA Withheld Reports of Substantial Risk Posed by 1,240 Chemicals ... PLUS: Reluctant Middle East Forced To Open Eyes To Climate Crisis... and much, MUCH more! ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest host Nicole Sandler with author, lawyer, Brandeis University professor Anita Hill...
By Nicole Sandler on 10/22/2021 3:58pm PT  

It's NICOLE SANDLER, back to guest host the BradCast today for Brad & Desi. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Thirty years and 11 days ago, a woman named ANITA HILL swore an oath to tell the truth. She then testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about her experience working for Clarence Thomas. It was his confirmation hearing for a seat on the US Supreme Court. Her testimony was devastating. It was the first time anyone ever spoke of sexual harassment in such a public venue, especially from someone who was about to become an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

Those of us who were around and paying attention in 1991 remember it clearly, especially the reference to pubic hair on his coke can. Truly offensive. The only thing more offensive was the treatment of Hill by the panel of white male senators on the Judiciary Committee, including its chair, then-Senator Joe Biden.

A quick search of YouTube turns up a few video compilations of the most offensive questions they asked her. Here’s one from CNN, and another from Vice News.

After that, you really should listen to her opening statement too.

Well, it’s 30 years (and 11 days) later, and today, I'm talking with ANITA HILL. She's written a new book, Believing: Our Thirty Year Journey to End Gender Violence.

The topic is an important one that she now realized is her calling. Hill changed the world three decades ago. She's setting out to do it again. I hope you enjoy our conversation nearly as much as I did...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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SCOTUS may soon overturn Roe v. Wade, but, until then, an injunction would restore long-established legal precedent in the Lone Star State...
[UPDATED 10/6/21: Judge grants preliminary injunction; temporarily enjoins state ban] [UPDATED 10/8/21: 5th Circuit grants temporary administrative stay][UPDATED 10/15/21: DOJ will ask Supreme Court to lift 5th Circuit stay]
By Ernest A. Canning on 9/29/2021 10:05am PT  

On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Robert L. Pitman is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Texas' new anti-abortion law, S.B. 8 in the federal government's Emergency Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order or Preliminary Injunction [PDF]. He is likely to rule in favor of the federal government.

If granted, the ruling by Judge Pitman, an Obama appointee, would temporarily prevent enforcement of the new Texas statute banning pre-viability abortions performed on or after 6 weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know they are pregnant. That preliminary injunction would, for now, restore the status quo ante --- the state of the law in Texas prior to Sept. 1, 2021, when S.B. 8 first went into effect.

Unless overturned on appeal, the preliminary injunction would then remain in effect pending a final decision on the legal issues raised by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in the federal Complaint it filed in United States v. Texas.

The issuance of a temporary injunction by Judge Pitman would not be inconsistent with the U.S. Supreme Court's recent 5-4 rejection of a private medical provider's similar request for an injunction in Whole Woman's Health v. Jackson, the initial federal challenge to the Lone Star State's new law.

As the DOJ argues in its filing, no one, not even Texas, contends that S.B. 8's pre-viability abortion ban --- one that also contains no exception for unwanted pregnancies due to rape or incest --- is Constitutional under existing federal law. To the contrary, even in the first case, Whole Women's Health, the right-wing Supreme Court majority conceded the medical provider plaintiff "raised serious questions regarding the constitutionality of the Texas law at issue".

The core problem which prevented the issuance of an injunction in the initial case arose from "uncertainties" both as to federal court jurisdiction and whether any of the named defendants in that case could lawfully be the subject of a federal court injunction.

Those "uncertainties" arose because S.B. 8 was specifically designed to prevent challenges to its constitutionality in federal courts. The statute was crafted to prevent the Executive Branch of state government from enforcing the 6-week abortion ban. Instead, according to the DOJ's Complaint, S.B. 8 "deputized ordinary citizens to serve as bounty hunters who are statutorily authorized to recover $10,000 per claim from individuals who facilitate a woman's exercise of her constitutional rights."

In Whole Woman's Health, a legal concept known as State sovereign immunity prevented the plaintiff from naming Texas as a defendant. Because the statute prevents enforcement of the Act by members of the state's Executive Branch, the private medical provider was unable to seek an injunction against anyone working for that branch of the Lone Star State. There's legal uncertainty as to whether the State court judge, who was a named defendant in the case, could be enjoined by a federal court. The only potential private "bounty hunter" named in the medical provider's complaint filed an affidavit with the U.S. Supreme Court, asserting he had no present intent to file an S.B. 8 enforcement lawsuit.

The Supreme Court's "shadow docket" majority decision held that those "uncertainties" warranted a denial of the private medical provider's request for injunctive relief in Whole Women's Health. However, that same majority expressly noted their decision "in no way limits other procedurally proper challenges to the Texas law."

Texas cannot assert sovereign immunity when it is directly sued by the federal government in a case that alleges a State enactment violates the sovereignty of the United States. Thus, the DOJ's case, United States v. Texas, is a "procedurally proper" challenge...

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




Also: Debunking CA Recall 'fraud' claim; COVID crisis creating hospital death panels as the voluntarily unvaxxed killing themselves and others...
By Brad Friedman on 9/16/2021 6:10pm PT  

If there's one guy you really don't want vowing to dog you, it may be Rhode Island's Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, easily one of the most persistent Senators in the upper chamber. If you're Trump's FBI Director or, especially, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, that's probably not good news. But it's just one of the stories covered on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Here's a quick summary of many more of them...

  • No, the disappearance of 350,000 votes from CNN's California Recall Election Night live ticker is not proof that it was stolen. Especially when there is a perfectly plausible (and checkable) explanation for it.
  • After the well-publicized testimony of U.S. gymnasts in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, regarding the FBI's years-long failure to adequately investigate hundreds of allegations of sexual assault against now-convicted team physician Larry Nassar, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse had a few related questions for Trump-appointed FBI Director Christopher Wray about another similarly flubbed investigation --- perhaps more accurately described as a Trump Administration/FBI cover-up --- regarding serious allegations of sexual assault against a young girl by a now sitting Supreme Court Justice. After alleged sexual assaulter Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump's second nominee to be packed onto the U.S. Supreme Court by Republicans, Whitehouse vowed to Christine Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh's main accuser, that he would get to the bottom of the FBI's clearly whitewashed pre-confirmation "background check" probe of Kavanaugh. It's three years later and Whitehouse has not forgotten. As he explained while pressing Wray during Wednesday's hearing, he has been waiting all of that time for answers and documents from the FBI. He made clear to Wray that he will not stop until he gets them. As evidenced by his nearly ten years of weekly "Time to Wake Up" climate addresses on the floor of the U.S. Senate, the Rhode Island Senator does not back down easily.
  • The COVID pandemic continues to worsen in the U.S., with no end in sight. That, of course, thanks to the voluntarily unvaccinated. Hospitals across the entire state of Idaho are now rationing care under "critical care standards" that allow them to try and save the lives of those most likely to survive, while offering comfort and best wishes to those unlikely to make it. Similar "death panels" are now in place or "imminent" in other states with similarly low vaccination rates, mostly run by Trumpy, denialist, Republican Governors. While the vast majority of those paying the worst price are the unvaccinated, their selfishness comes at an unspeakable to cost to many who are vaccinated, as we detail today. Those include the Alabama man who died last week in Mississippi after his Trump Country Alabama hospital had to call 43 hospitals before finding one, 200 miles away, that could give him care; the Illinois woman with a comorbidity who died after becoming infected with a breakthrough COVID case after visiting a family friend in Mississippi whose husband had died in the state with one of the lowest vaccine uptake rates; the man in Hawaii who remains in excruciating pain today, because he can't get a non-emergency operation for kidney stones due to lack of oxygen supply for all but COVID patients on all of the islands. Yes, the voluntarily (and selfishly) unvaccinated continue to bring pain, harm, sadness and death to far more people than just themselves...which is already bad enough.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, featuring news on Nicholas, the latest storm to make landfall in our latest record hurricane season, exacerbating recovery in Louisiana, where folks are just beginning to recover from Hurricane Ida the week before last; Biden's continuing push for his landmark climate infrastructure plan; States now beginning to hold plastic producers to account for their pollution; and Vermont stepping up as the latest state to sue fossil fuel giants for decades of deadly lies about climate change...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Cybersecurity and voting system experts alert CA SoS to stolen election software threat to Recall...
By Brad Friedman on 9/7/2021 6:07pm PT  

We're back! Luckily it was a slow news week while we we're off last week, right? Okay, maybe not. So, on today's BradCast we begin to pick up on just some of that "slow" news. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

After nearly month or so of trying to ring alarm bells for the national media and election officials in California, hoping they would connect the dots between the ongoing CA Gubernatorial Recall election and the threat of Dominion Voting Systems election software stolen from a Mesa County, Colorado's County Clerk's office (apparently BY the Mesa County Clerk herself!) and released into the wilds of the Internet, we had some progress late last week!

Eight of the nation's top cybersecurity and voting systems experts sent an urgent 3-page letter [PDF] to CA Sec. of State Shirley Weber, warning her about the threat that the stolen software now poses to the CA Recall (Election Day is next Tuesday, Sept. 14th) and the need for her to immediately mandate a statewide post-election Risk Limiting Audit to both ensure the computer-tallied results are accurate and to offer confidence in those results to those who may think they are not. That, no matter who wins or loses. As we reported late last week at The BRAD BLOG, the scientists, in their letter to Weber, warn the Secretary that "it is critical to recognize that the release of the Dominion software into the wild has increased the risk to the security of California elections to the point that emergency action is warranted."

Associated Press reported on the letter as it was released last Thursday, as did we. But the response from the SoS' office for now is, shall we say, somewhat lackluster. We hope to have more on this as the week progresses and Election Day nears. But at least it's not only us with our hair on fire about these serious concerns.

Next, there were three disturbing rulings issued --- largely in the middle of the night --- by the stolen and packed GOP majority on the U.S. Supreme Court while we were gone or just before we left. All three cases have major consequences. And, in all cases, the rulings were issued without hearings, oral argument, public debate or oversight, or even full explanation from the rightwing Justices.

One "stunning" ruling prevents President Biden from setting U.S. immigration policy, by forcing him to continue the so-called "Remain in Mexico" policy instituted by his predecessor for asylum seekers coming up from Central America; Another blocked the President's moratorium on evictions amid the pandemic; and, perhaps the most disturbing one, as you may have heard, effectively overturns the long-standing precedent of Roe v. Wade's constitutional protections of the right of a woman to have an abortion in the state of Texas. All three decisions were issued with no hearings or public debate and virtually no comment from the Justice's as part of the Court's "Shadow Docket" while they are on Summer break between terms.

Longtime legal journalist MARK JOSEPH STERN has been warning for a while about the increasing use (and abuse) of the "Shadow Docket" by the increasingly activist authoritarian Court, now that it's been packed with three Donald Trump appointees, rammed onto the Court after Senate Republicans did away with the filibuster to do so. Now, as we discuss with Stern on today's program, it should be clear to just about everyone what it is that he's been warning about.

"With the Shadow Dockets, it means that basically we all have to be on high alert 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, because at any time the Supreme Court could issue a monumental decision overturning decades of precedent," says Stern, with little or no warning or explanation.

On the "Remain in Mexico" ruling, Stern observes: "You might have thought that the Supreme Court does not let lower court judges issue sweeping injunctions blocking the President's immigration policies. As you recall, under Trump, the Supreme Court's conservatives leapt in, time and time again, to swat down judges who had tried to halt the former President's immigration rules. But all of that is out the window now that Joe Biden is in the White House. Instead, we have a new principle here that, apparently, the President no longer runs foreign policy." In fact, in this case, that lower Trump-appointed judge actually ordered Biden to enter foreign policy negotiations with Mexico and, astonishingly, the high court let the order stand without comment!

"The hypocrisy here is stunning," Stern argues. "The Supreme Court said that the President gets to make immigration law over and over again under Trump. Remember the travel ban case? Remember the wealth-test case? Remember all of these awful cases where the Supreme Court said Trump can do whatever he wants? And then Biden comes in, and the Supreme Court says Biden can't do anything he wants."

On the eviction moratorium, also overruled by the rightwing Justices, "we're being deprived of any kind of clear debate" via the Court's Shadow Docket, where "the conservatives are awarding themselves more and more power to pretend that debatable decisions in the lower courts are so obviously wrong that they can intervene and resolve them whenever they want."

But, of course, the most egregious item decided without explanation or public debate --- or even a hearing in the lower appellate courts! --- over the last two weeks, is the SCOTUS decision that allows Texas Republicans' new abortion ban law to take effect. The state statute bans all abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy and deputizes citizens to file lawsuits against anyone --- from family members to friends to clergy members to Uber drivers --- who helps a woman in any fashion to obtain an abortion. Such citizen "bounty hunters" will each be awarded at least $10,000 for doing so, under Texas law. All of this, of course, blatantly undercuts the precedent set by SCOTUS in 1973's Roe v. Wade, establishing a Constitutional right to an abortion. And, it's all now being done under the cover of the Shadow Docket, which even Chief Justice Roberts, in this one instance, was forced dissent against.

Whether the Lone Star State's convoluted scheme of deputizing citizens to enforce the law, rather than the state doing so directly, gets around the mandates of Roe is "a huge question, and it's one that I think deserves a full airing, especially after 50 years of Americans enjoying a constitutional right to reproductive autonomy," Stern explains. "It's the kind of thing that would be debated in public if this were a regular case. And also, traditionally in the law, there's a really strong bias toward the status quo, to keeping things as they have been until the Court can have a full and fair hearing on the merits. We didn't get that hearing here, and yet the Court refused to step in and maintain the status quo of abortion access. So we are left with the nation's second largest state shuttering its abortion providers and forcing women to flee out of state if they want to terminate a pregnancy."

So, what, if anything, can be done about the emboldened far-right's abuse of the Shadow Docket at SCOTUS? We discuss that as well, including measures that could --- and, arguably should --- be taken immediately by Congress to reign in an out-of-control Court. Those measures, however, would likely require Democrats to reform the Senate filibuster in order to enact them --- ya know, just as Senate Republicans did to jam these far-right activist jurists onto the Court in the first place, where they are now using the Shadow Docket to, cowardly, run wild. And, all of that, before SCOTUS even begins its term on the first Monday in October, when, Stern predicts, there is even more bad news regarding freedom and civil rights in these United States...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: FSFP's Courtney Hostetler on federal suit challenging two new vote suppression laws in AZ; Also: John Lewis Voting Rights Enhancement Act passed by House Dems; NC court restores voting rights to 50k...
By Brad Friedman on 8/25/2021 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was bad enough in 2013 when Chief Justice John Roberts gutted Section 5, the key provision of the Voting Rights Act. That section prevented discriminatory voting laws before they could take effect. By the time Justice Samuel Alito, on behalf of the Republicans' stolen and packed 6 to 3 majority, legislated from the bench last month to create new tests for Section 2 of the VRA, pulled largely out of thin air, it felt like there was little left in the landmark 1965 federal legislation to protect voters. But voting rights champions are moving forward in courts, nonetheless, even as the battle for new federal voting rights legislation continues.

On Tuesday night, without a single Republican vote, Democrats in the House adopted the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The measure would fix much of the damage done to Section 5 of the VRA by the GOP Supremes in 2013, allowing laws with a discriminatory impact on minorities to be blocked in all fifty states before they can suppress voters. But that bill have to overcome a Senate filibuster by Republicans to become law. Still, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia says he support its passage, so perhaps he'll support the modification to the filibuster necessary to pass it. Given the federal lawsuit filed last week in Arizona against two new GOP voter suppression schemes in that state, perhaps AZ's Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, another opponent of filibuster reform --- even on behalf off democracy --- will rethink her position as well when the Senate returns from its August recess.

On Monday, however, there was some bona fide good news out of the very closely divided state of North Carolina, where a court overturned a century old law that prevented former felons from voting upon release from prison. The measure, originally enacted after the Civil War to stop access to the ballot box for black Americans, was finally overturned this week, allowing some 50,000 former felons to register to vote immediately. Of course, state Republicans are appealing the ruling.

And, despite good news last month from a Florida court, tossing a GOP cap on how much money can be donated to get initiatives onto the ballot in the Sunshine State, the effort to once again reenfranchise former felons in that state will now have to wait until the 2024 ballot. That, even after Florida voters already voted for exactly that in a landslide 65% to 35% victory in 2018. It seems Republicans will never run out of ways to prevent some 800,000 returning citizens in the state from being able to participate in their own democracy. It's what they do. It's also why it is so critical to adopt federal reforms, currently being blocked by Republicans and a couple of intransigent Democratic Senators.

In Arizona last week, several voting and civil rights group filed a federal lawsuit challenging two laws recently enacted by state Republicans aimed at suppressing the minority vote, according to our guest today, COURTNEY HOSTETLER, Senior Counsel at the non-partisan government watchdog Free Speech for People (FSFP). Her organization is litigating the case on behalf of Mi Familia Vota, Arizona Coalition for Change, Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA), and Chispa Arizona. One law ends the state's very popular permanent early voting list, which allowed voters to receive Vote-by-Mail ballots automatically for every election. The other restriction requires voters who forgot to sign their VBM ballot to do so by 7pm on Election Night. That, even though voters judged to have a "mismatched" signature on their absentee ballot are allowed to "cure" the problem for up to five days after Election Day.

On the first restriction, Hostetler explains today that the permanent early voting list "is supposed to permanent. It's right in the name." But under the new law, she says, "if you don't vote in two consecutive election cycles, you're out. Two election cycles is not that many. There are local elections, many elections that happen. If you decide to skip two elections, for whatever reason, you're off this list and you might not realize it" until its too late.

On the second restriction, she describes that many voters are unlikely to be able to sign their ballot in time, or even be notified that there is a problem, particularly if they only dropped it off the day before the election and especially in the many cases where there is a two-hour, one-way trip for voters forced to use public transportation.

All of this is supposedly to prevent "voter fraud", according to Republicans in a state which has been unable to show any evidence of substantive fraud in past elections, much less fraud that would be prevented by the new restrictions. On the other hand, as Hostetler details, these laws --- which appear neutral on their face --- are specifically designed to "impact minority voters" in several different nefarious ways.

"We can't divorce this from the history of voting suppression in Arizona," she argues, listing many of the ways in which minorities will see a disparate impact from these laws. "Arizona has an unfortunate and long history of voter suppression of Latino, Black and Native American voters."

As the federal complaint [PDF] filed last week reads: "It is no coincidence that the Arizona legislature enacted these changes only after an election in which (1) for the first time in recent memory, the presidential candidate preferred by Arizona voters of color won; and (2) voters of color increasingly used early voting --- the target of the new laws --- to help elect their candidate of choice."

But how can these restrictions be challenged in federal court, given Justice Alito's absurd, created-from-whole-cloth new "guideposts" for adjudicating Section 2 cases under the VRA, where, as we discussed on The BradCast last month, he literally conceded that discriminatory laws are okay, so long as they don't discriminated too much?

Hostetler explains the groups' strategy for challenging these laws under the VRA as well as Amendments 1, 14, and 15 of the U.S. Constitution which, she argues, these restrictions "clearly violate". She also speaks to the necessity of passage of new federal laws to give voting rights attorneys more tools to work with, since SCOTUS has twice gutted the VRA over the past decade. She similarly offers advice on and what we can all do --- as voters, as citizens --- to help reverse this cycle of insidious voter suppression now setting in across the country...especially in swing states like Kyrsten Sinema's Arizona...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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