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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, July 25, 2021
Break Them Up!
AntiTrust To the Rescue: 'BradCast' 7/23/21
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with author/journalist Cory Doctorow...
Another Cuban Crisis:
'BradCast' 7/22/21
Guest host Nicole Sandler with journalist and author Anthony DePalma...
'Green News Report' 7/22/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Catastrophic flooding in central Chinese; Health alerts from Western wildfires triggered as far as the East Coast; PLUS: Utility giant PG&E finally pledges to bury its power lines...
Previous GNRs: 7/20/21 - 7/15/21 - Archives...
'Our Darkest Hour, Our Selma Moment...We Must Act': 'BradCast' 7/21/21
Guest: Voting rights champion Helen Butler, after her GOP removal as a GA election official; Also: Tragic ends for COVID deniers; More clues AZ's election 'auditers' are clueless...
Fact-Checking Right (Phony AZ 'Audit') and Left (Garland's DoJ): 'BradCast' 7/20/21
Also: Chair of Trump Inaugural Committee, Tom Barrack, arrested, charged with acting as foreign agent, lying to FBI...
'Green News Report' 7/20/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Europe flooding shows nowhere safe from our climate emergency; Parts of Amazon now emit more carbon than they absorb; PLUS: High-tide flooding is about to get much, much worse...
Previous GNRs: 7/15/21 - 7/13/21 - Archives...
Callers Explain Their Refusal to Get Vaccinated as Deadly Delta Variant Surges: 'BradCast' 7/19/21
Also: New analysis finds fewer than 200 POTENTIAL cases of voter fraud in AZ...
Sunday 'Critical Erase Theory' Toons
PDiddie's latest collection of the best, unavoidable, toons of the week...
Critical Failure in Coverage of RW 'Critical Race Theory' Hoax: 'BradCast' 7/16/21
Guest: Media analyst Eric Boehlert; Also: Masks back on in L.A. County; Deadly climate change-fueled deluge in Germany...
The REAL Cost of the Maricopa, AZ 'Audit': 'BradCast' 7/15/21
Also: GOPers laughing at, thanking Manchin, Sinema; Good news on Dem infrastructure bill; Trump's COVID Death Cult rising...
'Green News Report' 7/15/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Senate Dems unveil $3.5 trillion infrastructure and climate deal; EU unveils landmark 'Green Deal'; PLUS: More evidence that climate action would save lives and money...
Previous GNRs: 7/13/21 - 7/8/21 - Archives...
EAC Sued Over Guidelines After Secret Meets with E-Vote Vendors Allows Modems: 'BradCast' 7/14/21
Guest: FSFP's Susan Greenhalgh; Also: Dems' $3.5T health, climate, infrastructure deal...
'Test of Our Time': Biden Steps Up for Voting Rights, Democracy: 'BradCast' 7/13/21
Also: 2020 Election Night genesis of the 'Big Lie'; Heroic TX Dems land in D.C. to press for federal reform...
'Green News Report' 7/13/21
Western grid tested by massive fires, more extreme heat; CA expands state drought emergency; June 2021 hottest ever in U.S.; PLUS: Fox to launch a weather channel...
Amid CA Emergencies, State GOP Tries to Oust Dem Guv in Recall: 'BradCast' 7/12
Guest: Ernie Canning on reforming CA's Recall process; Also: TX DEMS FLEE STATE TO BLOCK GOP VOTE-SUPPRESSION BILL...
Sunday 'Delta is Ready' Toons
PDiddie is ready when you are, with his latest collection of the week's best (and worst!) political toons...
SCOTUS' Disregard of Constitution's Plain Text Augurs Dark Days: 'BradCast' 7/9/21
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern on Alito's 'fabricated' rules for the VRA and much more...
Now May Be a Good Time to Reform or Eliminate CA's Gubernatorial Recall System
CANNING: GOP abuse of the time-honored progressive process is wearing thin...
COVID Surge in Trump Country; US (Almost) Out of Afghanistan: 'BradCast' 7/8/21
Also: Rudy's woes worsen; U.S., Canada heat wave kills 100s; Murdoch's Fox 'News' broke the nation and planet...
'Green News Report' 7/8/21
While we were out...Historic heat wave killed hundreds, shattered all time records in PNW, Canada; Exxon lobbyists caught on tape; PLUS: Record-breaker Elsa...
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: 'Jackpot' author Michael Mechanic; Also: Trump's politicized DoJ spied on Dems in unprecedented violation of Separation of Powers...
By Brad Friedman on 6/11/2021 6:30pm PT  

The volume of incoming huge news stories these days is getting to be as overwhelming as it was during the Trump years. But it's also a reminder to anyone who has deluded themselves into thinking that the Trump Era is over, it is anything but. We were planning on covering ProPublica's blockbuster bombshell exclusive this week on today's BradCast --- and we still do --- though it has been somewhat eclipsed by last night's New York Times blockbuster bombshell exclusive. We do our best to cover both today. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

First, the remarkable news broken by the Times late on Thursday is that Donald Trump's wildly corrupt Dept. of Justice was a whole lot more corrupt than we have all yet fully appreciated. As it turns out, in an unprecedented move, his DoJ secretly subpoenaed phone, email and text message data of Democratic members of Congress on the House Judiciary Committee. But it wasn't just members that Trump saw as political enemies, including top Judiciary Dem Adam Schiff and Rep. Eric Swalwell. It was also their staff and even their children, one of whom was a minor, according to the Times' blockbuster.

All of that, even as the Trump Administration spent years blocking Congress from lawful subpoenas for testimony and documents from the White House itself and virtually every Executive branch agency, under the false premise that it would violate the Constitution's Separation of Powers, granting co-equal powers to both the Legislative and Executive branches. All the while, the Trump Administration was actually --- literally --- spying on members of the Legislative branch, while claiming (disingenuously) that Congress was overstepping its bounds by issuing lawful, public subpoenas for testimony to members of the Executive branch.

The stunning news comes after a week in which we previously learned that the Trump DoJ also secretly obtained phone, email and text records of journalists at the Washington Post, New York Times and CNN. Democrats claim to be outraged by it all, and vow to investigate. But without real legal consequences, accompanied by sweeping reforms by both Congress and, most immediately, Merrick Garland's Dept. of Justice, the appalling and outrageous and unlawful acts carried out during four years of the Trump Administration will absolutely be carried out again --- and even worse next time --- in the very near future.

Speaking of much-needed, long-overdue action from Congress, the ProPublica bombshell this week revealed that --- based on a "vast cache of IRS information" somehow obtained by the non-profit media outlet on the nation's wealthiest men --- American billionaires have been allowed to avoid almost all federal income taxes for years on their accumulated and still-surging wealth. As the media outlet reports in their jaw-dropping, nearly 6,000 word exclusive this week, "billionaires like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Warren Buffett pay little in income tax compared to their massive wealth — sometimes, even nothing."

Their months-long analysis of the data "demolishes the cornerstone myth of the American tax system: that everyone pays their fair share and the richest Americans pay the most. The IRS records show that the wealthiest can --- perfectly legally --- pay income taxes that are only a tiny fraction of the hundreds of millions, if not billions, their fortunes grow each year."

The raw IRS data show that billionaires like Bezos (the world's wealthiest man), Musk, Buffett and the others often pay zero in federal income taxes. Overall, the nation's top 25 wealthiest --- whose fortunes increased collectively by $401 billion between 2014 and 2018 --- paid a tax rate on that accumulated wealth of just 3.4% on average. That, compared to a median tax rate of 14% paid by regular, middle-class Americans, as the U.S. tax code rewards wealth over labor.

The New York Times explains in its own coverage of ProPublica's scoop, that even as Congress and President Biden bicker over tweaks to marginal tax rates, the ultra-wealthy avoid such trivialities all together. "The ProPublica revelations got to a widely understood issue: that the superrich earn virtually all their wealth from the constantly rising value of their assets, particularly in the stock market, and that the sales of those assets are taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income from a paycheck...But the analysis also revealed a less recognized strategy employed by the superrich: taking huge loans, using their assets as collateral. It allows them to avoid selling their assets and facing taxation, and even to write off some lending costs. In that way, Mr. Bezos and Mr. Buffett were able to show yearly income losses even as their wealth grew by billions of dollars."

Mother Jones' Senior Editor MICHAEL MECHANIC joins us today with a great deal of context and perspective on this long running, if legal, scam, after spending a couple of years hanging out with the ultra rich while researching his newly published book, Jackpot: How the Super-Rich Really Live --- and How Their Wealth Harms Us All.

Mechanic underscores the scam revealed by ProPublica: "As we've seen from the way the tax code works, wealth begets wealth, and we reward capital over wages. If you make a fortune on a stock, you pay a maximum of 20% when you sell that stock. In the meantime, when you hold it, you don't pay any taxes at all --- it's called 'unrealized gains.' What these billionaires have done is they just borrow against that. They never have to sell, so they never even pay the capital gains tax.  Meanwhile, you and I are getting a paycheck. If we made as much as they did, we'd be charged 37%.  So it's 37% versus 20% for assets, but they're not even paying the 20% because they're not selling the assets. They're taking out low-interest loans, paying a few percent, living on that money." And, yes, even as the cost of the interest would be less than they'd have to pay in taxes if they sold assets to live on their own money instead, they actually get to deduct the cost of those loans from their income taxes!

We discuss, among other things, how all of this actually hurts average Americans; how, because of it, trillions of dollars are not available to the government to spend on healthcare, schools, climate change, infrastructure and other public services; what, if anything, can or will be done about it by Congress --- where Republicans (and too many Democrats) seems to be just fine with a system that rewards wealth over work; whether proposals like Elizabeth Warren's wealth tax of .02 cents on every dollar of wealth by those worth more than $50 million could ever be adopted in Congress or is even Constitutional; and how all of this wealth doesn't even get taxed upon death when it's passed from generation to generation, as Mechanic reports at MoJo today.

"There's always been this argument, from the very beginning, that if you tax investors and business people, those people then won't invest, won't create jobs," Mechanic observes. "It's a spurious argument. If you have $100 million and somebody raises the capital gains rate, does that mean you're not going to start a company? You're not going to put it into the stock market? No, of course not. What else are you going to do with your money, put it under your mattress?!"

And, yes, we also discuss his new book (highly lauded by the legendary Bill Moyers!), which Mechanic describes as "not a polemical book. It's a funny, entertaining, and enraging character-driven narrative, in which I basically hang out with super-wealthy people and their minions. I interview researchers, I talk to a woman who trains billionaires' nannies in physical combat, [and] a guy who builds luxury safe rooms. It's a journey of the American wealth fantasy and how it's gone off the rails."

So, hey, if you're not already enraged enough by today's program, please buy Mike's book! It's out just in time to enrage Dad for Father's Day!

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest host Nicole Sandler with economist, author and Modern Monetary proponent Stephanie Kelton...
By Nicole Sandler on 5/25/2021 3:59pm PT  

It's NICOLE SANDLER guest hosting The BradCast for the next few days while they tear up the concrete around Brad & Desi's studio.

After a look at the news and the latest Green News Report, we turned to today's guest, STEPHANIE KELTON . She's an economist, an expert in Modern Monetary Theory and the author of The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the Peoples Economy.

While the Republicans keep screaming about the deficit, you must remember they only do that when Democrats are in charge. When a Republican is in the White House and when they also control Congress, they spend like it's going out of style.

Well, Stephanie explains that "every deficit is good for someone." She says: "Don’t run away from the word deficit. In financial terms, the other side of their deficit lies a financial surplus in some other part of the economy. The question is for whom? Who is getting it? And for what? Are we using the deficit to make investments in critical infrastructure and R&D? Fighting climate change, paying for education...doing those sorts of things? Or are we using the deficit simply to deliver a windfall for people in our society who least need the help?”

So the Republican talking points about things being too expensive are just that, talking points...

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!




Guests: Salon's Heather Digby Parton, Pro Left Podcast's 'Driftglass'...
By Brad Friedman on 4/29/2021 5:46pm PT  

Last month on The BradCast, after Joe Biden signed his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan with emergency COVID relief and stimulus for the poor and middle class, we suggested that passage of that bill would likely be seen in history as the beginning of the end of the Reagan Era. Now, it appears, we're hardly the only ones. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Since that wildly popular landmark measure was adopted (without a single Republican vote), Biden has proposed a $2.25 trillion infrastructure package called the American Jobs Plan. And, on Wednesday night, he officially introduced his $1.8 trillion American Families Plan proposal for perhaps the nation's largest-ever investment in human infrastructure, including free access to pre-school, two years of community college, subsidies for child care, paid family leave, expanded health care subsidies and child tax credits and much more.

With Reaganesque optimism during his first address to a joint session of Congress, citing a statistic published in a report by one of our guests earlier this year (Chuck Collins of the Institute for Policy Studies) finding that just 650 billionaires in America saw their own net worth increase by a trillion dollars as 20 million Americans lost jobs during the pandemic, the President pounded what could become a final nail in the Reagan Era coffin, declaring: "My fellow Americans, trickle down economics has never worked and it's time to grow the economy from the bottom and the middle out."

We're joined today, on Biden's 100th day as President, by HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo, and by 'DRIFTGLASS' of the The Professional Left Podcast, for analysis of his stunningly-well received remarks (even by Republicans) on Wednesday night and his pitch for an extraordinarily bold and long-overdue government investment in the American people.

Says Digby, on how we arrived at this moment: "We've just been reminded that we need government, because look what happened. We had this pandemic and having the freak show that had been sort of entertaining like a horror show for the last four years, it suddenly became pretty clear what the problem was with that. Because when you really need government, it wasn't there. They were completely out to lunch. For a lot of people in this country, they're out their floundering under this trickle-down, rugged individualism. This is what it's like when you're left completely on your own."

Says Driftglass, mocking GOP rhetoric of the past forty years: "If you're not rich, it's your own fault, and the only thing standing in the way of being the best you is this evil government. [But] suddenly, a whole bunch of people absolutely have to have assistance from the government or their going to die, or go broke, or they're going to go out of business.  And the only thing Republicans had to offer was a sneer...So, there's this literally once-in-a-hundred years crisis, where the actual effect of good government is so visible, right now, that you can now make the case credibly that there are other large problems that we have ignored and disinvested in for decades that we need to fix."

Even for longtime, cynical, old-school progressive bloggers like us --- none of whom had supported Biden during last year's primaries --- we are all pleasantly taken aback at his remarkably ambitious plans and expansive proposed agenda. We discuss, dissect and debate all of that, how it should or shouldn't be "paid for", and whether any of it can possibly be adopted into law with the exceedingly narrow majorities Democrats currently hold in Congress on today's special coverage edition of The BradCast...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: CUNY's Deepak Bhargava; Also: Biden raises fed contractor min. wage to $15/hr; Fox 'News' tosses new 'red meat' lies to gullible viewers...
By Brad Friedman on 4/27/2021 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: There is at least one thing Republicans are very good at. Whenever possible, they leverage their rightwing policy agenda --- such that they have one --- however they can in order to shift political power to their advantage. They do this both inside government and in their external communities, such as media, law enforcement agencies and corporate industry. Our guest today suggests that Democrats must learn from the Right to do the same thing...but completely differently. [Link to full audio of today's show is posted below this summary.]

They shouldn't adopt policies to prevent their opponents from being able to vote, as Republicans do. But the progressive policy agenda should be constructed to expand the base of progressive voters. While Democrats are unlikely, at this point, to win the hearts and minds of many Trump supporters after their years of brainwashing by the Republican/Fox "News" propaganda industrial complex (including a weekend full of lies falsely claiming that Joe Biden's climate policy includes a ban on red meat --- or, as Trump's former WH Economic Advisor warned on his Fox show over the weekend, Americans may soon only be be allowed to drink "plant-based beer" on July 4...yeah, seriously), Democrats can expand their own electorate through both smart legislation and executive actions.

We're joined today to explain all of this by City University of New York's Distinguished Lecturer of Urban Studies and Roosevelt Institute Fellow DEEPAK BHARGAVA who, with Dorian T. Warren last month at The American Prospect, detailed what they describe as the "Progressive Multiplier" effect. A way, they argue, to defeat Trumpism, as long as Dems take the right lessons --- not the wrong ones! --- from Republicans.

"When rightwing governments take hold, when the Republicans take power, they of course care about their policy agenda, like tax cuts and deregulation," Bhargava tells me. "But they start with the premise that in order to get all that done, they have to take the knees out from under their opposition. They're first order of business --- even though they often don't run on these issues because they're manifestly unpopular --- their very first orders of business are typically to weaken unions. That's often number one. Number two is to weaken voting rights, targeting people of color especially, and young voters who lean Democratic. And number three is to change the rules of the political game through gerrymandering and other means, so that they are making an electorate that is more favorable to them.  By doing these things, by passing these things first, conservatives and Republicans create a situation where they have more power in the next legislature and the one after that, to do more and more conservative policy, to take the state or the country in a more extreme direction."

Bhargava is clear, however, the lesson for progressives must not be to prevent their opponents from access to the ballot box, as Republicans do, but to expand their own pool of voters. "This is the crucial distinction. I do want Democrats to be ruthless. But I want them to be ruthless about expanding democracy -- Republicans have been ruthless about restricting democracy --- democracy at the workplace, meaning unions, democracy at the polls, meaning voting rights. I want the Democratic Party to be ruthless about expanding everybody's participation. That means Republicans, too. But making it easier to participate, easier to join a union, easier to vote, easier to participate in all kinds of ways in civil society. So, this is the crucial difference. Yes, it will redound to Democrats' favor and progressives' favor if more people are able to be part of our democracy."

"The underlying agenda here is to expand democracy in America," he reiterates, "and that's why the two strategies don't have any equivalence."

How can that be done via legislation and --- as the GOP has taken obstruction of legislation to an art form --- via Executive Actions by the President? We discuss all of that, including many examples --- from labor policy to policing to immigration enforcement and much more --- on today's program.

One key example Bhargava offers today, among many --- as also discussed in his new book, out today, called Immigration Matters: Movements, Visions, and Strategies for a Progressive Future --- is that the Biden Administration could add millions of new voters to the rolls, almost overnight. "There are nine million people who right now are legal permanent residents with green cards who could become citizens if we aggressively did outreach, lowered the prohibitive fees, undid all the barriers Trump created. Nine million new people by 2022 could be voting. And, as it happens, the vast majority of those will turn out to be Democrats."

Of course, Republicans know this, which is why Trump's executive policies were "hugely strategic in making it much, much harder for people to become citizens and vote. They increased fees, they made the questions harder. They lengthened the time you had to wait. They did everything they could to throw roadblocks in the way." The Biden Administration could, and should, reverse all of that immediately, Bhargava argues.

Also on today's program, several examples of both the GOP's institutionalized and well-funded rightwing agenda machine --- courtesy, in this case, of Fox' phony "Biden burger ban" lie all weekend long, across all of their shows, and the upcoming extreme gerrymandering by several states where Republicans are picking up House seats after the 2020 decennial Census, where they control the entire redistricting process. While several Democratic-leaning states are picking up seats as well, none of them have processes completely controlled by Dems. But Democrats are not completely unaware of these ideas, as illustrated today by President Biden's Executive Order raising the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $15/hour and automatically indexing the new wage to inflation for the future. That will be hundreds of thousands of Americans who will have Democrats to thank for a nearly 50% raise. Dems, however, as Bhargava agrees, need to get much better at letting those Americans know who is responsible for their newly increased fortunes.

I hope you'll tune in for today's important discussion.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, with news on the GOP's laughable infrastructure counter-proposal to Biden's American Jobs Plan; the EPA revoking the Trump Administration's Big Government ban on state's rights to set their own emissions standards; and a very important message to climate emergency obstructionists from teen climate activist Greta Thunberg...

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: The American Prospect's David Dayen; Also: U.S. Capitol Police officers sue Trump over insurrection; Dominion Voting Systems' legal team hires more defamation attorneys, suggesting more lawsuits ahead...
By Brad Friedman on 3/31/2021 6:14pm PT  

If we can look both forward and back at the same time on The BradCast, so can the Biden Administration. (Hint, hint, Merrick Garland.) But the Administration is certainly looking forward today, and not a moment too soon, with the introduction of Joe Biden's $2 trillion American Jobs Act proposal. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But first, we look "back" at the continuing disaster left behind by the previous guy's lies about a "stolen" election. Two U.S. Capitol Police officers have now filed a lawsuit against Donald Trump for his incitement of the January 6th insurrection which, according to the complaint, has left both men struggling to cope with long term physical and psychological issues. The suit follows on the heels of two others filed by two different members of Congress, Reps. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi and Eric Swalwell of California.

In somewhat related "looking back" news today, the legal team representing Dominion Voting Systems is reportedly beefing up its team of defamation attorneys after filing $1.3 billion complaints earlier this year against Trump Attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and, last Friday, a new $1.6 billion defamation suit against Fox "News". (That one follows on a separate $2.7 billion suit filed against Fox by another voting machine company, Smartmatic, which doesn't even do business in any of the states contested by Trump's MAGA Mob.) All of the Dominion suits allege the voting system company was defamed by evidence-free claims that their software somehow flipped votes from Trump to Biden. The new attorneys said to be joining Dominion's legal team buttress reporting that additional rightwing media outlets, such as NewsmaxTV and One America News, may soon be sued as well. Moreover, the Dominion legal team has suggested in several instances that they have not ruled out a suit against the Big Liar himself.

Then, we finally get to look forward today with the introduction of Biden's sweeping, much-anticipated infrastructure, jobs and climate proposal, now officially named the American Jobs Plan, echoing the name of his wildly popular and progressive $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, signed into law this month to speed relief and stimulus to Americans slammed by the COVID pandemic.

The new AJP proposal is a $2 trillion package, promising to create millions of good-paying jobs through massive and long-overdue public works projects to shore up the nation's crumbling roads, bridges, airports, water systems and electrical grid, while investing in efforts to remove lead pipes from homes and lead exposure in hundreds of thousands of schools.

Crucially, it would also invest hundreds of billions in electric vehicle manufacturing and charging stations, cap hundreds of thousands of uncapped fossil fuel wells, while ending fossil fuel industry subsidies and offering billions in renewable energy tax credits. It would also "build back better" by hardening much of our nation's infrastructure to better handle our worsening climate crisis. Much of the package would be paid for by an increase in corporate tax rates that reverse unpaid-for tax cuts by Trump and the GOP in 2017.

That, of course, is a very slim summary of the expansive proposal introduced on Wednesday in Pittsburgh by the President. But, why is it only a $2 trillion package when we had previously been told to expect a $3 or even $4 trillion proposal?

Our guest today, financial journalist, author and Executive Editor of The American Prospect, DAVID DAYEN reports that the proposal is being split into two separate packages. "This is the first half of apparently a two-part sequence," he explains. "This has most of the physical infrastructure investments. I would call this more of a public investment bill, rather than infrastructure bill. But this has the physical investments and then the second half is really the care infrastructure --- the care investments on health care, on paid family leave, on community colleges and things like that."

The plan is likely to change a great deal as it moves toward hopeful passage in Congress. Some Progressive Democrats feel it doesn't currently go far enough to meet the scale of the threat posed by climate change. Some conservative Dems are worried about spending too much money. And, of course, Republicans have no interest in passing any bills proposed by Democratic Presidents, no matter how much it will help their own constituents, even with projects they'd long supported.

"Spending of this type, which is public investment, pays for itself many, many times over," Dayen argues. "It does that just by the virtue of greater efficiency [and] averting risk. When we make all of these climate investments, we then have the opportunity to not have to spend hundreds of billions and trillions of dollars on damages from catastrophic weather events and things like that."

We discuss what it may take to get the broad Democratic caucus in Congress all on the same page, and the likelihood that many elements of the second part of the package may end up being combined with the first, in the event that Chuck Schumer's hopes of additional Budget Reconciliation packages this year (which allow passage with a simple majority vote, rather than needing to overcome a GOP filibuster), are blocked by the Senate Parliamentarian --- or, if Democrats become concerned that items planned for the second package may fall to the wayside if Biden's agenda loses steam on Capitol Hill.

We've got a lot to discuss about all of this with Dayen today, much more than we can cover here. So, I hope you'll tune in!...

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Secret audio reveals 'conservatives' support Dems' For the People Act (H.R.1); Also: Economists giddy about Biden's infrastructure, jobs and climate plan; Third lawsuit filed against GA's new vote suppression law...
By Brad Friedman on 3/30/2021 6:49pm PT  

On today's BradCast: More evidence that the rightwing billionaire Koch network really needs a better security plan. And Republicans really need a more popular agenda. [Audio link to show follows summary below.]

We now have still more audio that has leaked out of a super-secret Koch Network event. The latest is embarrassing yet again for them, as it reveals that even Republican voters want corrupting "dark money" out of politics. Sorry, Koch folks like Mitch McConnell and all of the other elected GOPers who owe their corrupt careers (and votes in Congress) to whatever it is that the Koch Network wants from them! Looks like they'll need to rely on out-and-out lies about what is actually in the Democrats' popular election and campaign finance reform bill known as H.R.1 (the For the People Act) in order to undermine it. But they've become very good at that sort of thing by now.

On Monday, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer published a story about audio she obtained from a super-secret conference call in which the guy running a Koch-backed effort to figure out how to message against H.R.1 concedes that even "conservative" voters appear to like the proposal, which includes disclosure requirements for donations larger than $10,000 to "dark money" non-profit groups like the dozens of "non-partisan" groups run and funded by billionaire donors to the Koch Network.

As Mayer reports: "The speakers on the call expressed alarm at the broad popularity of the bill's provision calling for more public disclosure about secret political donors. The participants conceded that the bill, which would stem the flow of dark money from such political donors as the billionaire oil magnate Charles Koch, was so popular that it wasn't worth trying to mount a public-advocacy campaign to shift opinion. Instead, a senior Koch operative said that opponents would be better off ignoring the will of American voters and trying to kill the bill in Congress."

The research director for a Koch-run advocacy group is heard explaining on the call, which reportedly included a partisan representative from McConnell's office, that when even "conservative" voters hear that the legislation "stops billionaires from buying elections," they support it. "Unfortunately," he tells the group somewhat sheepishly, "we've found that that is a winning message, for both the general public and also conservatives."

We share the full audio disclosed by Mayer on today's program. (And, since I referenced it it today, here's a link to my 2011 exposé of the Koch Brothers' super-secret billionaire confab at a resort near Vail, CO. The first, to my knowledge, to include audio from one of the group's meetings. The several-part exposé I published at Mother Jones and at The BRAD BLOG at the time included audio I obtained revealing the undisclosed keynote speech by NJ's then Gov. Chris Christie, as well as remarks from Charles Koch and others at the highly secured --- but not highly enough secured --- event.)

Also today, Axios reports that economists are very excited about the approximately $3 trillion infrastructure, jobs and, yes, climate plan that Joe Biden is set to roll out in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. He previewed a bit of that plan during his press conference last week. The plan, in theory, will create millions of new, high paying jobs repairing, improving and building roads, bridges, electrical grids and other infrastructure that has been dilapidating for years, while hardening it all for climate resilience in a dangerously warming world. The Koch Network and Congressional Republicans are likely to have a hard time messaging against that long-overdue proposal as well. But we'll find out as much after Biden introduces the plan tomorrow.

Then, a bit of a follow-up to my conversation with Caren Short, Senior Voting Rights Attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on Monday's show, about Georgia's sweeping new voter suppression bill. Yesterday, I had asked Short whether SPLC was planning to join either of the so-far two different lawsuits filed by civil rights groups just after the controversial GOP measure was passed by both houses in the state legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp last Thursday, all within a 7-hour time span. She told me the group was looking closely at the suits, but had made no decision yet. Today, SPLC touched base with the news announcing a third suit [PDF] now filed in federal court against the GA law. This one has been filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and others on behalf of several Black, Latino and Muslim organizations in the Peach State.

Finally today, Desi Doyen has our latest Green News Report, with more news on Biden's infrastructure plan; deadly storms in Nashville; a disturbing update to the death toll in Texas after last month's winter storm; and more...some of it actually good enough news that we close with a song that many of you likely hoped we'd have forgotten by now. But, sorry not sorry...we didn't!...

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Biden's first presser and filibuster reform; Good economic numbers, maddening COVID numbers; Death penalty banned in VA; NY finally goes to pot; GA undermines democracy; Senate GOP pretends vote suppression doesn't exist; Also: Oil and plastic...
By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2021 7:05pm PT  

Lots of news, breaking and otherwise, on today's BradCast. Much of it encouraging, some of it much less so. Join us, won't you? [Audio link to full show follows summary below.]

We begin today with Joe Biden's first press conference as President, as he answered a bunch of questions, often in detail, on a bunch of topics. We focus specifically on the questions and his answers on both reforming the filibuster and the almost certain need to do so in order to see passage of the Democrats' massive, much-needed electoral reform bill, the "For the People Act" in the U.S. Senate. That measure, as Biden seems to understand quite clearly, will be needed to counter the avalanche of voter suppression laws being moved, right now, through state legislatures by Republicans.

We share a number of his remarks in response to those efforts and read the tea leaves on what seems to be his commitment to first restoring the "Talking Filibuster" in the Senate and then, if necessary, perhaps even doing away with it all together for passage of democracy and civil rights-related measures.

As to the anti-democracy schemes being pushed by Republicans around the country, Biden says: "How un-American this whole initiative is. It's sick. It's sick," referring to the measure which has now been passed and signed in Georgia that would, among many other things, outlaw even given water to voters standing on line. He claims that "Republican voters I know find this despicable" and that "this makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle." As to being pressed on his plans to counter GOP obstructionism in the Senate, he teases: "Successful electoral politics is the Art of the Possible."

Amongst the rest of the flurry of news covered on today's show...

  • Donald Trump's figure at a wax museum in San Antonio has been removed for now, after it was repeatedly punched in the face --- which presents me with a serious moral dilemma.
  • For the first time since the pandemic began a year ago, last week's jobless claims fell to a number that is finally below the all-time, pre-pandemic weekly record. That is a good --- if still precarious --- sign.
  • A new report finds that 400,000 American lives could have been saved had the U.S. adopted widespread masking, social distancing and testing protocols by late May last year. 400,000 lives! Kinda makes ya want to punch a wax statue of Donald Trump in the face.
  • In some long-overdue good progressive news, the Governor of Virginia --- in a state which has killed more people with the death penalty than any other state --- signed a bill to ban the barbaric, racist practice once and for all. The state becomes the first in the South to do so.
  • In some long-overdue good progressive news in the North, New York State lawmakers finalized a deal with the scandal-plagued Gov. Cuomo to legalize recreational marijuana in the state, in a plan "crafted with an intense focus on making amends in communities impacted by the decades-long war on drugs." There's some more, very good racial justice news today.
  • Breaking late during today's show, the Georgia legislature adopted a massive voter suppression bill that we discussed in detail on yesterday's BradCast with Marilyn Marks of the Coalition for Good Governance, when she warned about a little discussed provision that will allow a partisan State Board of Elections to replace any County's Board of Elections with one partisan person for virtually any reason they wish. Had this measure been in place in 2020, she explained, the legislature could have used it to overturn the results of the Presidential election in Atlanta. Georgia's champion vote suppressing Secretary of State turned Governor Brian Kemp signed the measure moments later, just after we signed off air tonight. (See Biden's comments above about how "sick" and "despicable" all of this is.)
  • At the same time, Republicans in the U.S. Senate. on Wednesday are pretending there is no voter suppression being adopted by states at all around the country. One of them --- Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) --- speaking up in favor of banning Sunday "souls to the polls" voting, which is popular with Black church-goers, believes voting on Sunday shouldn't be allowed anyway...because God says so.
  • And, before we get to Desi Doyen and the GNR, a bit more breaking news out of California, where those as young as 50 will be eligible for COVID vaccines as of April 1, and those older than 16 will be able to sign up beginning on April 15.
  • Finally, Desi joins us for our latest Green News Report, for a delightfully toxic blend of the fossil fuel industry's oil and plastic...that is killing us all.

As suggested, some encouraging news on today's show, and some that is less so. We don't make it. We just deliver it. Enjoy!...

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Working class, poor waited decades for Dems' progressive, equitable, paradigm-shifting $1.9T COVID rescue, relief and stimulus package
Also: Rememberinig 1 year since the world locked down, 10 years since Japan's triple disaster; And Trump is in big trouble in GA...
By Brad Friedman on 3/11/2021 6:34pm PT  

If nothing else, the thing to remember from today's BradCast is that not one single Republican in either the House or Senate voted for Joe Biden and the Democrats' remarkably robust, progressive and equitably written American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion COVID rescue and relief package that history may someday regard as the long-overdue end of the four-decade old Reagan Era.

The President signed the sweeping bill on Thursday, which our friend David Dayen at The American Prospect described today as "maybe the largest pure economic uplift bill in U.S. history." GOPers may come to rue the day they didn't vote for it. Especially in 2022 when some of the key provisions --- like lowered health care premiums and monthly checks amounting to up to $3,600 per child, per year --- will expire unless those provisions are made permanent.

We discuss today a number of the less reported pieces built into the ARP, most of which --- unlike previous stimulus and rescue plans over the past several decades --- are crafted to benefit the poor and working class, and actually help lift many of them out of poverty. That is, by contrast, with the Trump/Republican 2017 tax cuts which also cost about $2 trillion, but overwhelmingly benefited corporations and the already wealthy.

All Republicans in both house of Congress voted against a nearly $2 trillion measure meant to largely help the middle class and the poor. Yet all Republicans in both houses of Congress voted in favor of the nearly $2 trillion measure to help the rich and corporations, which were already enjoying record profits at the time. Got it? Please keep that in mind --- and share it with your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers, in case they are lied to about all of this --- when 2022 rolls around.

This bill marks a fundamental progressive change in the way our federal government has been doing business for the past four decades since the so-called Reagan Revolution. And it comes not a moment too soon, as we discuss today.

Today also marks the one year anniversary since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus to be an official pandemic, when I stated on the program (to the surprise of, at least, Desi Doyen) that America was "shutting down". We share a clip of that somewhat breathtaking historical moment today.

More than 2.5 million have since died around the world, but the U.S., under Donald Trump's horrifically failed leadership, saw more deaths than any other country, with more than half a million lost here and still counting. That, even as we represent only about 5 percent of the world's population.

It is also the 10th anniversary of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster that struck Japan in 2011. We remember that still-ongoing disaster as well today, and the nearly 16,000 lives that were lost that fateful day.

In somewhat brighter news...As Republican state lawmakers around the country are moving hundreds of bills in more than 40 states to try and disenfranchise voters in a way not seen since the end of Reconstruction, according to a new analysis by Washington Post, it may be Donald Trump's attempted election fraud that could be the biggest news in coming weeks. It appears he may be in even more trouble than it previously appeared in the state of in Georgia!

A new recording of his phone call to the top Georgia state election investigator, made during a post-election audit in Cobb County prior to Christmas last year, was released Wednesday night by the Wall Street Journal. We share the full, gob-smacking conversation, in which our then President is heard buttering up the investigator and telling her, among other things, that "when the right answer comes out, you'll be praised."

The newly released 6-minute recording with the Georgia Secretary of State's chief investigator Frances Watson, can't really be heard in any other way than Trump hoping to encourage her into finding "fraud" where none existed. The recording is now undoubtedly part of the growing body of evidence being examined by Fulton County, Georgia's District Attorney, Fani Willis. The Democratic prosecutor is investigating "the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local governmental bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election's administration" after the 2020 Presidential election in the Peach State.

Willis has reportedly hired a racketeering and conspiracy expert for her grand jury probe, which could ultimately rope in Trump, his former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, his attorney Rudy Giuliani and even Sen. Lindsey Graham, who are all known to have tried to encourage state officials to change the results of Georgia's 2020 Presidential election after Trump lost. That alone is a state felony punishable by a year in jail. With added charges for racketeering and conspiracy, those convicted under those state felony statutes could face 20 years in jail!

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more on the 10-year anniversary of the still-ongoing disaster at the Fukushima Daichii nuclear plant and several much brighter and more hopeful pieces of news...

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Guest: Labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein of UC-Santa Barbara; Also: Biden's hugely progressive $1.9T 'American Rescue Plan' receives final Congressional approval; And Randy Rainbow needs a vaccine...
By Brad Friedman on 3/10/2021 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Joe Biden has been winning quite a bit lately. Today was no exception. So, can he turn that winning streak into a win for labor unions and keep his campaign promise to be "the most pro-union President you've ever seen"?  As of now, he's on track for that as well, according to historians and labor leaders --- even if that's admittedly not a very high bar. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

On Wednesday, Biden saw three more of his cabinet picks nominated on a bipartisan basis in the U.S. Senate.  Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio will become the first African American woman to lead the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development in 40 years, after vowing to address systemic racial inequities at the federal agency. Michael Regan was confirmed as the first black man to head up the Environmental Protection Agency. And Merrick Garland received his long awaited confirmation as our new Attorney General, as the widely-respected, veteran federal judge takes on the tall task of fulfilling Biden's promise to restore independence to the Dept. of Justice.

None of those, however, were Biden's biggest wins of the day, as the U.S. House gave final approval for his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. The massive COVID relief and stimulus package now heads to the White House for his signature on what some describe as one of the most progressive bills to ever come out of Congress. $1,400 checks to individuals and a $300/week extension of unemployment benefits is just a small part of the bill, which also includes annual payments of up to $3,600 per child, in a provision which policy experts say will cut child poverty in half and adult poverty by a quarter. It will reduce the overall poverty rate in 2021 by more than a third, lower the rate for Black people by as much as 42%, 39% for Hispanics and 34% for white people. In addition, the measure will send $130 billion to reopen schools safely, $34 billion will expand Obamacare subsidies to many more people, $25 billion for emergency rental assistance, and $14 billion will help to speed vaccine distribution, among many other such initiatives. That, on a day that Biden also announced he was securing another 100 million vaccine doses from Johnson & Johnson.

No wonder Republicans have no clue how to oppose the plan (other than with obviously ridiculous and silly lies), after the package received zero votes from GOPers in either the House or Senate. Democrats own this one, and they should do so loudly and proudly. The additional good news here for now is that even Chuck Schumer finally seems to "get it". There is no upside to negotiating with Republicans if they are going to be doing so in bad faith, as they did on the stimulus bill under Obama in response to the Great Recession.

But the central focus of our show today is on a couple of moves by the President that labor leaders, experts, and academics are citing to describe Biden as, so far, the most pro-worker, pro-labor, pro-union President in decades, and maybe ever.

Last week, he surprised a lot of folks on the left by tweeting a direct, unambiguous video message of support for workers who are now voting on whether to unionize at an Amazon warehouse outside of Birmingham, Alabama. It would be the first such facility to do so in the nation. Biden's two and a half message lauded unions for creating the middle class and spoke to American workers' rights under the law to organize for collective bargaining without corporate interference.

And this week, he issued a direct, unambiguous statement of support for the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act before its passage in the House on Tuesday. Labor leaders describe the initiative as the most progressive, pro-union bill in 80 years. Of course, now all it has to do is overcome a filibuster in the Senate.

We're joined today by longtime labor historian and author NELSON LICHTENSTEIN, Distinguished Professor at UC-Santa Barbara, where he directs the Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy. Lichtenstein explains both the importance of the PRO Act and the ongoing vote to unionize Amazon down in Alabama. He also addresses the question as to whether Biden could become the most pro-union President in modern times, or even in history.

"The bar is very low," Lichtenstein concedes, in comparing Biden to recent Presidents who may have supported unions with words --- though none as directly as we've seen from Biden to date --- but not necessarily with their actions. "Biden is saying all the right things, but this will all fade unless there actually is legislation that is passed in some form" that turns "the reality on the ground" into a "revival of trade unionism."

"It's one thing to say terrific things --- and I'm not being cynical, all power to him  --  but history will judge him by whether or not there is in fact an increase in real wages, an increase in union membership, an increase in the power of organized labor."

The colorful professor has much more to say that I can possibly do justice to here, so please tune in. But, after we discuss how it just so happens that the most prosperous period in history for the American middle class also coincides with the era when trade unionism and collective bargaining were at their zenith, I ask if there is any actual historical economic data in support of the notion that unions are somehow either bad for business or workers, as folks on the right would have you believe, and as all too many in this country have fallen for after decades of corporate, anti-union propaganda.

"No," Lichtenstein answers emphatically. "There is no support for that. It is good both economically, in an immediate sense, and even more important, politically, because it helps sustain a social democratic ethos and policy block in the country." He goes on to add: "One of the reasons for the deterioration in America of everything --- from race relations to stagnating living standards --- is because of the weakness of unions in the last forty, fifty years."

As noted, do yourself a favor and tune in for our conversation. I learned a lot and suspect you may as well. And, as a gift, we close today with arguably the ONLY good thing to come out of the Trump years: national treasure Randy Rainbow returns with another new tune that may keep you humming all night...

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Guest: Chuck Collins of Institute for Policy Studies' Inequality.org; Also: 2021 flu season proves masks work; Swalwell latest to sue Trump...
By Brad Friedman on 3/5/2021 7:00pm PT  

Prepare to be outraged by some gobsmacking and maddening numbers from today's guest on The BradCast. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

But first, speaking of startling numbers, statistics from this year's flu season prove that masks and social distancing do indeed help to prevent viral transmission and death. That, of course, is bad news for residents of Texas and Mississippi, where their idiot Governors this week lifted statewide mask mandates and all restrictions on businesses, even as COVID infection rates are on the rise in both states. Both are among the top 10 worst states in the nation in that regard in recent weeks. Mississippi leads the nation, with Texas not far behind. And that was before they ended statewide mandates this week in contradiction of strong advice from health experts.

In Washington, Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA), one of the House Impeachment Managers during Donald Trump's second Impeachment Trial, filed suit against the disgraced former President, his son Don Jr., Rudy Giuliani and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) for their roles in inciting the January 6th U.S. Capitol insurrection. Swalwell's civil complaint follows on a similar one filed last month by Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson and the NAACP.

At the same time today, the U.S. Senate continued debate over the American Rescue Plan, President Biden's $1. 9 trillion emergency COVID relief and stimulus package after Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin forced an all-night reading of the 628-page measure that was passed by the House late last week. In addition to funds to speed distribution of vaccines, the bill includes $1,400 payments to Americans making less than $75,000, an extension of federal unemployment benefits, hundreds of millions to reopen schools safely, and to supplement lost revenue to hard-hit, cash-strapped states and cities.

As tens of millions of Americans have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and are both struggling to keep a roof over their heads and put food on the table, the relief can't come soon enough, despite zero votes of support from Republicans in either the House or Senate, so far, for the otherwise wildly popular bill. Johnson described it as a "boondoggle" full of unnecessary spending that would blow out the national deficit, even as it will cost the same amount of money that he and all the other Republicans voted in favor of when they passed Donald Trump's 2017 tax cuts for mostly wealthy Americans and corporations.

But while Senators --- even on the Democratic side --- squabble over whether unemployment payments should be $400 a week and last through August, or $300 a week and last until September, America's 664 billionaires could cover almost the entire cost of the measure from only the money they've made during the last 11 months of the pandemic.

We spoke last Summer with CHUCK COLLINS, Director of the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies, where he co-edits Inequality.org, about his "Billionaire Bonanza 2020" report. Today, he joins us again with a maddening update to that report, finding that, as more than half a million Americans died, 73 million lost work, nearly 100,000 business permanently closed, 29 million adults reported their household did not have enough food over the past week and 11 million children didn't eat enough because their household couldn't afford to fully feed them, the 664 billionaires in the U.S. actually gained $1.3 trillion in added wealth since the beginning of the pandemic!

The profits of that handful of mostly white, male billionaires could cover more than two-thirds of the entire $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and, "At $4.2 trillion," Collins' updated report reveals, "the total wealth of America's 664 billionaires is also more than two-thirds higher than the $2.4 trillion in total wealth held by the bottom half of the population, 165 million Americans."

Those are just some of the startling numbers from his latest report, highlighting the obscene inequality in the U.S., made even worse by the nearly year-long coronavirus pandemic. Shamefully, all of the numbers are still worse for women and people of color. "The inequalities of income and wealth and the racial wealth divide were the pre-existing conditions as we went into the pandemic," he explains. Collins tell me that "the number of people who have no financial reserves --- zero, or negative financial wealth" is "14% of white households...but double that, 28% of Black households, 26% of Latino households...[and] that was before the pandemic."

"That's why 660 billionaires can have almost twice as much as the bottom half of US households --- because the bottom half doesn't have much!," he reports. So, what to do about it? Will the American Rescue Plan help? How about Sen. Elizabeth Warren's recently refiled "Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act" that would tax two cents of every dollar of wealth above $50 million, generating at least $3 trillion in revenue over ten years in the bargain.

Warren cites Collins' new study in making the case for her new wealth tax proposal. Her proposal is wildly popular among voters of all political stripes, as she pitched a similar version during her Presidential run last year. The fact that it isn't already the law, Collins argues, "is simply a reflection of the power of wealthy interests to block change in our political system. It's not that they're changing the political system --- they're able to stop and thwart and block change. And that's unfortunately what we're up against."

"That's the debate we're watching right now in the Senate," he adds, "where half the members in the Senate, they don't have a program to help America get through these hard times. They just want to block the one that would actually make a difference. Unfortunately, the Republicans have been the 'Party of No' because they don't want government to succeed in making a difference in people's lives, because that would undermine their whole program."

Yes, we've got a lot to discuss today with Collins, whose newest book out this month, The Wealth Hoarders: How Billionaires Spend Millions to Hide Trillions, details "the shadowy Wealth Defense Industry," which he explains today as well. Sen. Bernie Sanders writes that "Chuck's book reveals a blueprint for reversing this obscene inequality so we can take back our democracy and ensure that our government works for everybody --- not just the billionaire class and wealthy campaign contributors"...

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Guest: NatSec expert Elizabeth Goitein of Brennan Center; Also: U.S. economy twice as good under Dem Presidents than Repubs for the past 90 years; MyPillow guy may not be sleeping well these days...
By Brad Friedman on 2/3/2021 7:06pm PT  

Now that Trump is safely out of office, as my guest on today's BradCast argues, Congress needs to "get back in the game" to reform the National Emergencies Act now, so it cannot be so easily abused by yet another President. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But, first up today, we pick up on a study we cited on yesterday's show finding that, in 16 developed countries examined over the past 50 years --- from the U.S. to Australia --- tax cuts have had no effect whatsoever on either jobs or Gross Domestic Product. The only thing they have done, however, is make the rich richer and increase economic inequality in countries that institute them.

In that vein, a new piece from the New York Times David Leonhardt reports on economic data finding that the U.S. economy has done better by every measure --- from jobs to GDP to incomes and even stock prices --- under Democratic Presidents than Republicans for the past 90 years. Going all the way back to FDR, the economy has grown at an average annual rate of 4.6 percent under Democrats and just 2.4 percent under Republicans. That means, as Leonhardt notes, that "The average income of Americans would be more than double its current level if the economy had somehow grown at the Democratic rate for all of the past nine decades." But why is that? We discuss. (HINT: It has to do with Dems heeding economic and historic lessons, such as using government resources to invest in flagging economies during recessions, versus the GOP's only apparent economic strategy for both good times and bad --- tax cuts!)

But, with Joe Biden now safely in office and Democrats finally in control of both Houses of Congress, things are, surprisingly enough, working out very well for a change...for now...after just two weeks. Years of Post Traumatic Democrat Syndrome, however, has left us waiting for that to change for the worse at any moment. Nonetheless, before that happens, what other lessons can be learned from the previous, disastrous Administration?

We're joined today by ELIZABETH GOITEIN, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at NYU's Brennan Center for Justice. Back in 2018, with a report at the Brennan Center and a disturbing landmark article for The Atlantic on "The Alarming Scope of the President's Emergency Powers", Goitein scared the hell out of a lot of us, when she warned of the dangers of the National Emergencies Act and the extraordinary powers it affords to the White House. The Act --- ironically enough, enacted by Congress, in theory, to rein in Presidential emergency powers --- "unlocks powers contained in more than 100 different provisions of law," as she recently discusses again at Politico.  However, "Since the law’s enactment in 1976, presidents have declared 69 national emergencies; 39 remain in effect today," she explains.

One of those "emergencies," a phony one, was Trump's declaration at the border with Mexico, used to steal money appropriated to the U.S. Military in order to build his wall, after Congress expressly voted against it. Another one might have been a national emergency declaration that we now know --- thanks to some stunning reporting by Axios yesterday --- that Team Trump loons Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Flynn were encouraging him to declare during an absolutely bonkers (and frightening!) White House meeting in December. They were hoping he'd invoke the act in order to impound Dominion Voting Systems machines and somehow use them to steal the election from Biden.

Goitein argues that after the last four years offered a very clear demonstration of how Presidents can abuse these emergencies powers, now is the time to reform the "under a president who seems more inclined to rescind bogus emergency declarations than issue them." On today's show, she explains how that can responsibly be done by Congress.

"I think there is an understanding that this administration is our chance --- and it's a chance that we must seize - to shore up the guardrails on our democracy. Emergency Powers has been part of that conversation, and I hope and trust that it will continue to be," she tells me. "Many of those laws absolutely need to be revisited and reformed to be made more narrow. There's absolutely no reason why, in a national emergency, the President should be able to take over radio stations. And the fact that by merely declaring a threat of war, the President could potentially even take over the Internet in this country is horrifying."

At the same time, however, new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is now calling on President Biden to invoke an emergency declaration to take action on our worsening climate crisis, which, as Schumer argues, would allow him to do "many, many things under the emergency powers of the President...that he could do without legislation," in order to get around Republican denialism and intransigence in Congress. Is that a good idea? Is it justifiable? Is it even possible under the National Emergencies Act, reformed or otherwise? Goitein recently responded to some of those questions at WaPo. We discuss them with her today, along with her revelations about some of her worst fears that Trump might have carried out under the existing powers.

Finally, it seems that the loony wingnut MyPillow CEO, Mike Lindell, is having trouble selling both pillows right now and his evidence-free claims that Dominion voting machines were used to steal the election from Trump. We share an hilarious clip of Lindell trying --- and failing miserably --- to make his case, even on the far-right NewsmaxTV, after the voting machine company has issued very serious legal warnings to both Newsmax and Lindell that they intend to sue for defamation if they continue to libel the company. After $1.3 billion lawsuits filed against both Powell [PDF] and Giuliani [PDF], Newsmax appears to be taking that threat very seriously. Lindell? Not so much!...

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Also: Dem House Managers, Trump lawyers submit pre-Impeachment Trial briefs; AOC shares harrowing personal story from January 6th attack...
By Brad Friedman on 2/2/2021 7:31pm PT  
NOW CELEBRATING THE BRAD BLOG'S 17th ANNIVERSARY!
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So far, so good. Neither Joe Biden nor Chuck Schumer nor Nancy Pelosi seem to be falling for the GOP's "conservative" budget concerns, newly rediscovered by the Party now that there's a Dem in the White House.  Also on today's BradCast, the stage gets set for next week's historic second Impeachment Trial of disgraced former President Donald Trump. [Audio link to full show follows summary below.]

A study last December from economists at the London School of Economics and King's College London looked at 18 developed countries over a 50 year period from 1965 to 2015 to find out if tax cuts actually "trickle down" to improve economic outcomes. You'll be "shocked" to hear the results. Tax cuts in the nations examined (including the U.S.), do not improve either GDP or unemployment rates.  They do, however, help the wealthy to become wealthier --- by a lot --- while increasing economic inequality.

That report may have come in useful as President Biden was considering a proposal from 10 Republican Senators at the White House on Monday night to slash his proposed $1.9 trillion COVID relief and stimulus bill down to about $600 billion, or one-third of what Biden and the Dems are proposing. The GOP proposal leaves out a lot of much-needed funding from Biden's proposal for no apparent reason, other than Republicans are pretending to be concerned about spending and deficits again --- a concern they decidedly did not remember to have when they gave away much more with their $2.3 trillion tax cuts mostly to the rich during Donald Trump's Administration.

The good news today is that the White House is moving ahead with their planned $1.9 trillion proposal, and both  Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have queued up the measure to be quickly adopted under Budget Reconciliation procedures which require only a simple majority vote in the Senate. No need to overcome a filibuster with 60 votes.  Now we just have to see if conservative Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia decides to play along. He certainly should, given that his state's own Republican Governor is calling on Biden to "go big" in his COVID relief package.

With things moving encouragingly forward, at least for the moment, with the new President and Dem control of both houses of Congress, we turn back to the disastrous previous President, who helped get us into all of these messes.

To help set the stage, we share an extended excerpt from an hour-long live Instagram video by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) on Monday night. She detailed for the first time, her harrowing experience on January 6th, describing how she was forced to hide in the dark behind the bathroom door in her personal office at the Capitol, as the murderous and attempted insurrection by Trump's MAGA Mob was underway. As she makes clear, she had very good reason to fear for her life and is still reeling from the trauma of that day.

Trump's second Impeachment Trial, for "Incitement of Insurrection" at the U.S. Capitol that day, is set to begin next week in the Senate. Both the Democratic House Impeachment Managers and Trump's brand new attorneys (all five of his previous ones left him over the weekend) submitted their pre-trial filings on Tuesday. The 80-page Dem memorandum [PDF] lays out the House's case against Trump, alleging he falsely worked his supporters into an outrage over many months --- even before Election Day, as early as last summer --- with baseless claims of a stolen election. He then "aimed them like a loaded cannon down Pennsylvania Avenue" toward the Capitol on January 6th with instructions to "fight like hell" as a Joint Session of Congress was underway to affirm the 2020 Presidential election results. They offer a graphic, detailed, painstakingly-documented argument for Trump's conviction and a thorough response to the false GOP claim that it is somehow unconstitutional to hold an Impeachment Trial after the impeached officer in question has left office.

"If the Senate does not try President Trump (and convict him) it risks declaring to all future Presidents that there will be no consequences, no accountability, indeed no Congressional response at all if they violate their Oath to ‘preserve, protect and defend the Constitution’ in their final weeks," the House Managers write. "There is no ‘January Exception’ to impeachment or any other provision of the Constitution," they explain, "A president must answer comprehensively for his conduct in office from his first day in office through his last."

For his part, Trump's 14-page response [PDF] is brief and unsurprisingly limp. He cites First Amendment Free Speech rights to support his evidence-free claims that the election was stolen from him and repeatedly claims --- over and over --- that the Senate trial is unconstitutional, since he is no longer in office. There is one point, regarding his personal (if evidence-free) belief that the election was stolen, that should be worth noting when it comes to the difficulty of public oversight and the availability of evidence regarding U.S. election results. Not that he bothered to actually try to get at most of what is available. Beyond that, however, its clear he is hoping that his fellow Republicans in the Senate remain captured, in his thrall and afraid of the wrath of his brain-poisoned supporters.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with GM's landmark announcement that they intend to end production of internal combustion engine vehicles; as global temperatures are now at the highest since the dawn of human civilization; as Biden releases billions of dollars in disaster relief to Puerto Rico that Trump had held back for years; and as a federal court rolls back one of Trump's final rollbacks to Obama's environmental protections...

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Guest: Accountable's Lizzy Price on holding corporate CEOs to account for hiring Trumpers; Also: Trump loses Impeachment lawyers; Callers ring in on whether Biden should compromise with GOP on COVID bill...
By Brad Friedman on 2/1/2021 6:27pm PT  
NOW CELEBRATING THE BRAD BLOG'S 17th ANNIVERSARY!
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Our ongoing parallel coverage on The BradCast of the insane former President and the not-insane current President continues today, as one faces a decision whether to compromise with Republicans on COVID relief, and the other continues to dig his own grave even deeper while facing still more accountability for his disastrous Presidency. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But first up, as COVID vaccinations get shut down in the Northeast due to a monster winter storm, anti-vaccination protesters and rightwing Trump-supporting extremist in sunny Los Angeles over the weekend temporarily shut down COVID vaccinations at Dodger Stadium. Because they are jackasses.

Speaking of jackasses, Donald Trump lost all five of his impeachment defense attorneys on Sunday, just days before his historic second impeachment trial is set to begin next week in the U.S. Senate --- this one, for "Incitement of Insurrection" at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. The five, actually respectable attorneys, quit Team Trump, reportedly, because the former failed President insisted his impeachment defense should include his false claims that the election was stolen from him. The lawyers wanted to stick with the false argument that an Impeachment Trial after a President is out of office is somehow unconstitutional. But, no worries! Trump has reportedly replaced two of those attorneys already, with one who represented now-deceased sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein and another who, as a state prosecutor in Pennsylvania, refused to file criminal charges against convicted sex predator Bill Cosby. Trump's new attorneys should be a match made in heaven for the disgraced former President and accused sex predator himself.

In the meantime, the accountability continues for Trump's business, as a New York Supreme Court Justice on Friday ordered the Trump Organization to turn over even more documents related to the ongoing civil bank and tax fraud investigation being carried out by the state's Attorney General. That probe is running parallel to a similar criminal investigation by the state prosecutor in Manhattan, into the 45th President's allegedly fraudulent activities. Trump continues to lose in court in virtually every single one of his challenges to both probes.

And, accountability continues at the same time for some of the thousands of those in the MAGA Mob who attended the U.S. Capitol insurrection, even if they didn't (apparently) join those breaking into the building to try and overturn the 2020 election. Just ask Mark Hastings, the CEO of an online bartending supply company who proudly posted his "Stop the Steal!" selfie from outside the Capitol on his Facebook page. Customers are now said to be leaving BarProducts.com in droves. He has since deleted the selfie, for some reason.

But while Trump is facing accountability, as are his supporters who attacked the U.S. Capitol, what of those officials in his Administration who quietly and dutifully served him for years as he separated immigrant children from their parents, helped killed hundreds of thousands by opportunistically treating COVID as a hoax, and incited an attempted insurrection?

Last week, non-partisan government watchdog groups Accountable.us and American Oversight launched a new campaign called CorporateComplicity.org to hold American corporate CEOs to account for hiring former senior Trump Administration officials. Accountable's LIZZY PRICE joins us today to explain the campaign, and the difference between the "cancel culture" Republicans are now whining about --- now that some are finally facing a few consequences for their actions --- and accountability. (Answer: None. Also, the irony of GOPers whining about "cancel culture" after years of boycotts against those with whom they disagreed politically, is laughable. Especially just days after the Arizona GOP voted to "cancel" (censure) their own Republican Governor Doug Ducey, their own former Republican Senator Jeff Flake, and even the late John McCain's wife Cindy for daring to oppose overturning the state's lawful election of Joe Biden last November.)

"There are three real fundamental foundations to this campaign. One, no one is guaranteed a cushy job just because they served in the Administration.  Two, actions have consequences.  And three, staff at any organization reflects their [organization's] values. We're trying to make it very clear to companies that your staff reflect your values. So to hire the architect of these harmful, anti-democratic policies and rhetoric is to be complicit in that, to take that on as your corporate identity," Price explains. "So we want to make that sure corporations really think hard about doing that."

"This isn't about 'cancel culture.'  It's about what kind of behavior and what kind of policies that you reward. Corporations have a part to play in making sure that Trump is not normalized. If these officials are welcomed back into high-profile jobs, it only encourages more bad behavior."

And what does the campaign plan to do, if companies ignore their friendly warning [PDF]? "We're saying, look, if you won't vet your candidates, we will.  And we'll use any tool in our toolbox to make sure the facts are out there," Price tells me.

Finally, we close with calls from listeners ringing in one whether they'd like to see President Biden compromise with Republicans on his proposed $1.9 trillion COVID relief package in order to see it passed with bipartisan support via regular order in the U.S. Senate, instead of by a simple majority vote under the Budget Reconciliation process. On Monday, the new President was meeting with 10 Republican Senators who proposed a $600 billion package on Sunday night --- about a third of the size of Biden's --- offering much less relief for the American people.

So, should Joe and the Dems move ahead with the much-needed package they ran and won on (including $1,400 relief checks for those making $75,000 or less) or a smaller package (with just $1,000 checks for those making $50,000 or less) to keep his promise of reaching out to try and find compromise with Republicans? Callers have a few thoughts on that, and we are with almost all of them...

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GM to end production of gasoline cars and SUVs; Trump's economy paled next to Obama's; Biden reopens access to healthcare amid pandemic; MAGA terrorism and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene...
By Brad Friedman on 1/28/2021 6:42pm PT  
NOW CELEBRATING THE BRAD BLOG'S 17th ANNIVERSARY!
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Some pretty huge news on today's BradCast, for the American economy and for the continuing prospects for human civilization. So, yeah, pretty huge news. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

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

  • General Motors announced on Thursday that it will end the production of all gasoline and diesel powered cars and SUVs by 2035. The announcement signals a potential sea change (both figuratively and literally) in American automobile production --- and not a moment too soon;
  • That news comes on the heels of President Biden's ambitious climate action agenda announced on Wednesday, which includes plans to replace the entire federal fleet of about half a million cars with electric vehicles, fueling about a million new jobs in the industry, and a rapid move away from dangerous, dirty, expensive fossil fuels towards cheaper, cleaner renewable energy. He also called for a carbon emissions-free national power grid by 2035 and full carbon neutrality by 2050. Naturally, fossil fuel-captured Republican officials and Fox "News" dupes are freaking out about the bad news for their industry funders (even if it's great news for their constituents!);
  • The potential boost to jobs and the economy comes not a moment too soon, as federal government numbers released on Thursday reveal that 2020 saw the biggest collapse of the American economy since World War II. The numbers also signal the end of the longest economic expansion in U.S. history (11 years! Thanks, Obama!) and that the average annual GDP growth under President Obama far outpaced that of supposed business genius Donald Trump. Just like the last Republican President before him, Trump inherited a booming economy from a Democratic President and subsequently tanked it for the next Democratic President to have to clean up after him;
  • That next Democrat, President Biden, continued his Executive Order flurry on Thursday by rolling back Trump's efforts to prevent Americans from receiving healthcare coverage. Biden re-opened the Healthcare.gov exchange to allow millions of Americans who lost their jobs during the pandemic to obtain affordable health insurance, which Trump refused to do. (Did I mention we are still in the middle of the worst healthcare crisis in 100 years? Made even worse by the failures of the former President?);
  • Despite all of that --- a new Democratic President working to create millions of new, good paying jobs and provide healthcare and vaccines to all --- there are still a whole bunch of brain-poisoned MAGA wingnuts so misinformed that they are plotting to kill Democratic officials and overthrow the American government. One such brain-poisoned MAGA wingnut, freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), was recently discovered to have supported calls for Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton to be killed, and to have stalked and harassed a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre just weeks after the 2018 shooting in Parkland, Florida. She described him as a coward. Now, a Democratic Congressmember is calling for Greene to be expelled from the U.S. House;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen heroically --- in just six minutes! --- summarizes Biden's massive, landmark plan for climate action, as unveiled at the White House on Wednesday, in our latest Green News Report...

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Guest: The Prospect's David Dayen on Biden out of the starting gate and Senate dysfunction; Also: House to transmit Impeachment on Monday; Trump's empire continues to crumble; and a prescient Jon Stewart...
By Brad Friedman on 1/22/2021 6:27pm PT  

It's only Day 3 for the Biden Administration, but it feels like Donald Trump has been gone for months. And that feels fantastic. On today's BradCast, we catch up with the new President's flurry of Executive Actions since taking office and the GOP's attempt to continue Senate dysfunction, even with Democrats now (theoretically) in the majority. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Also today, some news on Donald Trump's upcoming second Senate Impeachment Trial, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces plans to transmit Trump's latest Article of Impeachment --- for "Incitement of Insurrection" --- to the upper chamber on Monday. And we've got more good news on Trump's crumbling empire, with more banks and law firms having dumped the toxic former President and his company following his incitement of the attempted U.S. Capitol insurrection by MAGA Mobsters on January 6.

We're joined today by progressive financial journalist and author DAVID DAYEN, Executive Editor of The American Prospect and author of its new, daily, FIRST 100 newsletter. Dayen, whose magazine has devoted no small amount of the past year toward detailing a progressive Day One Agenda for the new Democratic President, offers his take on President Biden's first (less-than-half) week in office, the corporate media's curious adjustments in covering a new Administration, and Mitch McConnell's attempt at delaying the full turn over of the Senate to Democrats.

While he remains cautious this early in the Administration, Dayen notes that he has been pleased, so far, with their "unwillingness to get caught up in a Fox News game of worrying about 'optics'" and indications that Biden, to date, is "not going to get sucked into a deficit hawk argument."

After a year covering the COVID crisis for his magazine, Dayen also offers a prescription for how to get both new relief checks and vaccine shots to the American people as quickly as possible while Republicans balk at Biden's critical $1.9 trillion COVID relief proposal and even attempt to stymie a power-sharing deal in the 50/50 Senate unless Dems agree to not do away with the democracy-stifling legislative filibuster.

So far, Dayen observes, Senate Democrats appear unwilling to give up the leverage of potentially doing away with the filibuster. "There's nothing in it" for them, he says, adding "Schumer has been insistent that he's not going to take that deal." There's a bit more good news to end your week for now.

Finally, we close a remarkable and historic week --- the last one to include Donald Trump as President of the United States (was that still this week?!) --- with some prescient thoughts from Jon Stewart, as shared with Steven Colbert just 11 days into the then-nascent but already-exhausting Trump Administration, from January 31, 2017...

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