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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, May 24, 2020
Sunday Memorial Weekend Toons
Please maintain responsible social distancing, even while enjoying PDiddie's Summer kick-off toon collection. Thank you...
Transitioning to Greatness!*: 'BradCast' 5/21/20
* If 'Greatness' means record unemployment and tens of thousands of unnecessarily dead Americans...
'Green News Report' 5/21/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
MI dams fail, cause flooding, toxic threat amid pandemic; SuperCyclone slams India; Admin wants rent from renewable energy projects; PLUS: Emissions fell 17% during shutdowns...
Previous GNRs: 5/19/20 - 5/14/20 - Archives...
'A Historic Event Playing Out in the Midst of an Historic Event': 'BradCast' 5/20/20
Guest: Climate scientist Dr. Michael E. Mann; Also: OR Primary results; FL voter fraud criminal Trump threatens MI amid two concurrent disasters in the state...
Flynn-Flop! Bill Barr's DoJ v. Bill Barr's DoJ: 'BradCast' 5/19/20
Guest: EmptyWheel's Marcy Wheeler; Also: COVID science censored by Florida...
'Green News Report' 5/19/20
SuperCyclone to slam Bangladesh; Hurricanes intensifying; Trump EPA won't limit rocket fuel chemical in drinking water; PLUS: What Covid crisis should teach us about the climate crisis...
The Race To Stupid: 'BradCast' 5/18/20
Trump fires another IG, this one probing Pompeo; Amash nixes Prez run; MO allows absentee voting for all (sort of); CA relaxes reopen rules; Anti-lockdown protester threatens journo; Callers ring in...
Sunday 'Maskuline' Toons
Stay safe and at home with PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection!...
The Bright Side of the COVID Crisis: 'BradCast' 5/15/20
Govt whistleblower slams Trump's COVID response; Dems ditch 'dark money' group give-away; WI Supremes endanger state again; Trump voters more at risk of virus...
The Return of Accountability!
(For Now. Sort Of.): 'BradCast' 5/14/20
Burr served; Barr blowback; Flynn's new 'prosecutor'; Trump overturned; Also: David Dayen on coronavirus economy, what Congress is/isn't doing about it...
'Green News Report' 5/14/20
'Unsurvivable' heat; Despite oil crash, Trump expands drilling on public lands; Air pollution increasing again; PLUS: Gas stoves a major source of indoor pollution...
Donald Trump is a Voter Fraud Criminal: 'BradCast' 5/13/20
Guest: Howie Klein on progressive Dem win in Nebraska, establishment Dem loss in California; Also: Trump voted illegally by absentee ballot in Florida and...'OBAMAGATE'!
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...


* If 'Greatness' means record unemployment and tens of thousands of unnecessarily dead Americans..
By Brad Friedman on 5/21/2020 6:59pm PT  

Remember waaay back on Monday when we warned you to take the news from biotech company Moderna about their self-proclaimed early success in tests of a coronavirus vaccine with a huge grain of salt? The announcement that spiked their stock price some 50% in one single day and resulted in a 900 point rally for the Dow? Well, the market is still enjoying its irrational exuberance, but Moderna's stock price is largely back to where it was before Monday's "science by press release". Not to be a party pooper before the Memorial Day weekend, but that seems an apt analog, somehow, for much of what we cover/warn about on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is at bottom of summary.]

Donald Trump and his Republican henchmen in Congress are running into a problem. Pretending the coronavirus crisis away only goes so far. Sure, you can announce that you have "reopened" for business, but that doesn't mean anybody will show up. Even with all 50 states now relaxing various restrictions, demand remains low and, therefore, unemployment remains high and is still getting higher each week.

New numbers from the U.S. Dept. of Labor report that 2.4 million Americans filed new unemployment claims last week. It is the ninth week in a row of new claims higher than 2 million --- some weeks were larger than 6 million --- even though the all-time weekly record, prior to COVID-19, was less than one million. Even during the 2008 Great Recession, initial claims for unemployment insurance never topped one million. The good news is the number of new filers has been decreasing in recent weeks. The bad news is that almost all of those people, nearly 40 million of them, remain out of work. For now, however, they have been able to rely on expanded benefits enacted by Congress that offer an additional $600 a week through the end of July. The program was designed to, yes, keep people at home in order to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Those payments have, by and large, prevented the U.S. economy from tanking entirely. And now, Republicans in Congress are insisting that they will not extend those benefits, as they join Trump in trying to convince themselves and the nation that the crisis is over. It isn't. Not by a long shot. Ending that expansion of unemployment right now in hopes of forcing workers back to their jobs --- where they may well get sick and die, just as had been happening before the shutdowns --- in hopes of restarting the economy, is likely to kill the economy entirely, according to economists, anyway. But what do they know? We discuss.

In lieu of an actual plan --- versus a Jedi Mind Trick --- to prevent a new rise in infections and deaths, Trump and his GOP pals seem prepared to hide the statistics and otherwise distract us with things like a new, wholly (and statutorily) unqualified Director of National Intelligence! Gutting a long-standing arms control deal with Russia! And trying to blame Obama for all sorts of imaginary scandals in hopes of harming presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden.

It shouldn't work. But, given our gullible corporate media, who knows? Satirist Randy Rainbow, however, has a new musical take on it all for us today.

While Republicans on Fox "News" are instructing their "patriotic" American cult members to get out there and get back to work, their star anchors continue to do so from the safety of their own home studios, where Fox Corp has directed them to remain for at least another month. YOU are supposed to die for the economy and the President's reelection! Not THEM!

And the irrational exuberant premature reopenings could well make a huge difference in the ultimate COVID-19 death toll, if a new study about the timing of the initial lockdowns from Columbia University disease modelers tells us anything. They find that a heart-breaking 36,000 fewer Americans would have died if the country had implemented stay-at-home restrictions just one week earlier in March. Moreover, the researchers found, had shutdowns occurred on March 1 the vast majority (83%) of deaths would have been avoided. Each single day that Trump and Governors around the country ignored or refused too take the crisis seriously resulted in the unnecessary loss of thousands of American lives.Depending on how quickly and/or irresponsibly states now lift restrictions, many more thousands of lives could be lost. Given the way a number of GOP-run states are now attempting to hide or censor infection and death rates, the cost could ultimately become unspeakable.

Another new study from the University of Wisconsin and Ball State University offers a real life example of all of this. The analysis found that last month's primary election in Wisconsin --- when the state's rightwing Supreme Court blocked attempts by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers to postpone the election or switch it to an all Vote-by-Mail election --- resulted in a "statistically and economically significant association between in-person voting and the spread of COVID-19 two to three weeks after the election." They found that WI counties "with higher levels of in-person voting per polling location led to increases in the weekly positive rate of COVID-19 tests. Furthermore, counties with higher absentee voting participation had lower rates of detecting COVID-19 two to three weeks after the election."

Yes, these decisions matter. Lives hang in the balance. No matter the Jedi Mind Trick Trump was hoping to pull off when he recently declared: "We're opening up; the states are opening up. It's a transition to greatness!" Perhaps "greatness" is now just another word for mass murder.

Finally today, a bit of email from a listener in the Badger State who now regards it as "Wississippi," and Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with ongoing climate disasters --- yes, our climate crisis continues even as the coronavirus has temporarily cleared the air a bit --- from the state of Michigan to the Bay of Bengal...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

P.S. By the way, we are ducking out early for some much needed Memorial Day weekend down time. Yes, my brain actually hurts each day these days. Hopefully a few days off will help. See ya on the other side! Stay safe and healthy until then!

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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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Burr gets served; Barr gets blowback; Flynn gets a new 'prosecutor'; Trump gets overturned; Also: American Prospect's David Dayen on coronavirus economics and what Congress is (and isn't) doing about it...
By Brad Friedman on 5/14/2020 7:01pm PT  

It's another one of those days on The BradCast when we've got more news than we can adequately handle. On the upside, much of it is actually encouraging news for a happy change! At least for those of us who have yet to give up on the idea of accountability for corrupt, very very bad people. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

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

  • The FBI served a warrant on Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) Wednesday night, seizing his cell phone as part of an investigation into a huge number of stocks he unloaded on a single day before the stock market crashed on bad coronavirus news which he received early as the Chair of the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee and a member of the Committee overseeing health care issues. On Thursday, amid what appears to be a very serious scandal, Burr "temporarily" stepped down as head of the bipartisan Intel Committee. But there may be much more behind this otherwise seemingly good news of a Republican Senator actually being held accountable for something. We discuss;
  • The federal judge overseeing the case against Donald Trump's first National Security Advisor Michael Flynn is not taking the DoJ's unprecedented recent motion to dismiss all charges against him at face value. Flynn, who twice pleaded guilty to lying to FBI officials about his contacts with Russians before Trump's inauguration and about secretly serving as a Turkish agent even while serving as National Security Advisor in the White House may not yet be off the hook. That, even after Trump's corrupt AG/fixer Bill Barr is attempting to toss two years of DoJ prosecution, without the approval of the actual DoJ career prosecutors, in hopes of keeping Trump's pal out of jail. The federal judge on the case has appointed a bulldog former prosecutor and federal judge to argue against the DoJ's new position after Barr merged it with that of Flynn's Defense team. Judge Emmet Sullivan has also asked the newly retained Judge John Gleeson to investigate whether Flynn committed perjury by lying to the court when he twice admitted lying to federal officials;
  • Still more encouraging accountability news came out of a federal appeals court in Virginia today, with the Fourth Circuit reversing a ruling from a three-judge panel (of Republican-appointed judges) last year. The full en banc panel held, in a 9 to 6 ruling, that the smaller group of judges had wrongly dismissed a Constitutional Emoluments Clause lawsuit filed against Trump. The complaint was brought by the Attorneys General of Maryland and D.C., arguing that Trump's hotel in the nation's capital --- now a favorite spot of world diplomats and others seeking favor from the Administration --- violates the Constitutional prohibition against President's receiving "any present, emolument, office or title of any kind whatever from any king, prince, or foreign state" or any state in the U.S. Naturally, the DoJ is now vowing to appeal to the Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court;

From all of that (potentially) encouraging accountability news, we move on to....the economy and DAVID DAYEN of The American Prospect. First, new jobless numbers from the Labor Department once again highlight the crushing toll that the COVID-19 crisis is taking on the nation's economy, with nearly 3 million having filed for unemployment last week. We have now seen two straight months of unprecedented new weekly jobless claims from 3 to 6.5 million each and every week. The previous weekly record, before this crisis, was less than one million. The official unemployment rate soared to 14.7% in April, the highest since the Great Depression, after more than 20 million jobs --- a decade's worth or job growth --- simply vanished over the past two months. Economist believe the actual unemployment rate, including those not currently looking for work or who are still unable to access overburdened state facilities to apply for unemployment --- is closer to 24%. At the same time, a new Kaiser Family Foundation report estimates that 27 million Americans have lost their employer-based health insurance due to the crisis, and Fed Chair Jerome Powell is calling for much more money to be appropriated by Congress to "avoid long-term economic damage". That, even after Congress already appropriated a record $2 trillion in stimulus and relief packages and the Fed itself has committed nearly $4 trillion to shore up companies and, in theory, the economy.

Dayen, an author and investigative financial journalist, has been documenting the stumbling Congressional responses to the crisis in his daily "Unsanitized" column and newsletter, and explains how the massive unemployment numbers we are now seeing was largely by Congressional design. He also details the state of play today for the next Congressional relief package, including a mini uprising from progressives on Nancy Pelosi's Democratic side in the House and the complete inaction on the Republican side from Mitch McConnell in the Senate and Trump in the White House. Dayen details the "laundry list of ideas" included in Pelosi's $3 trilion Heroes Act, which may come up for a vote on Friday in the House, though is unlikely to get much further as is, and a disturbing provision in the measure that would actually serve as a bailout for lobbyists and dark money groups. We debate whether that would be a good or bad idea and exactly why. (David calls it "insane", I'm not quite as certain...)

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest-host Nicole Sandler with 'Modern Monetary Theory' economist Stephanie Kelton, former Deputy Asst. Attorney General Lisa Graves...
By Nicole Sandler on 5/11/2020 2:12pm PT  

It's NICOLE SANDLER back again to guest-host today's edition of the BradCast. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

It's a crazy time in American history as, under the background of a global pandemic for which there is no cure, vaccine or treatment, we have an out-of-control President who hasn't got a clue how to handle the economic meltdown we're experiencing. So I called on my favorite expert to talk all things economic-- STEPHANIE KELTON! With all indicators showing that we've entered depression territory, the time is ripe for her forthcoming book, The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the Peoples Economy.

And we have an out-of-control U.S. Attorney General in Bill Barr who last week moved to dismiss the charges against Trump's former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn --- charges to which he'd already pleaded guilty! I couldn't think of a better guest to call on than LISA GRAVES, who rose to Deputy Assistant Attorney General under Janet Reno in the Clinton administration, and is one of 2000 former DOJ officials signing on to a letter today asking Barr to resign...

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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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!




AZ Guv shuts down COVID study; Trump plans to question death toll, buries CDC reopen guidance; CO's GOP Chair Rep. Ken Buck ordered a Party official to falsify elections results; And we finally reach 'Peak GNR'...
By Brad Friedman on 5/7/2020 6:46pm PT  

Donald Trump is putting George Orwell to shame. A Republican U.S. Congressman is caught on tape committing election fraud. And our Green News Report may have finally jumped the shark --- or at least the news we report in it today has. All on today's BradCast. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

I've said many times on the show that Donald Trump and the Republicans can't simply lie this one away. Or vote it away. Or simply ignore it. The hard numbers of Americans dying --- at least 75,000 already --- can't merely be wished away, as Trump has successfully been able to do with so many of his crimes, misdemeanors, appalling failures as President and other scandals. But maybe I was wrong. Maybe they can actually pretend it all away. In fact, that is now what they are trying to do.

In Arizona, some two dozen experts at two top universities who had been compiling the state's most robust public modeling for COVID-19 were told by the head of the state's Department of Health Services to stop their work immediately, according to an email obtained by Phoenix' ABC affiliates and reported by the Arizona Republic on Wednesday. They will also no longer have access to special data sets the team had employed in their work. The order came as AZ's Republican Governor Doug Ducey was lifting coronavirus restrictions across the state, and after the experts from Arizona State University and the University of Arizona produced five different potential models for reopening the state, with only one scenario that did not show a dramatic increase in cases. That one allowed for businesses to reopen at the end of May. But Ducey wants them open now, so his Health Department has shut down the state's best information in favor of models they claim are coming from FEMA and the CDC --- moels that have no been released publicly.

Back in D.C., the President of the United States is now reportedly questioning the coronavirus death toll numbers, believing them to be lower than reported, according to AXIOS, when, in fact, it is almost universally agreed among experts that the most widely reported numbers from Johns Hopkins University are likely vastly lower than the actual death toll, since most states have only reported those who have died after testing positive for COVID. Tens of thousands of more Americans have died over the past several months almost certainly from the virus, but they are not currently included in those figures. Nonetheless, Trump and other senior aides are now planning to publicly question the death toll as being falsely inflated, while the tragic numbers continue to blow away Trump's repeated lies since January about expected U.S. deaths from the pandemic. Yes, he's preparing to simply pretend it all away, as he did with the death toll for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and as Republicans have done for years regarding the science of climate change.

At the same time, as AP revealed today, the Administration is also preventing the release of a 17-page CDC guidance report meant to help local churches, restaurants, schools, summer camps, transit systems and other business reopen safely, with one CDC source telling AP they were told the guidance "would never see the light of day." After the publication of the report by the AP documenting the Administration's attempt to bury it, the New York Times reports the White House "rejected the recommendations over concerns that they were overly prescriptive, infringed on religious rights and risked further damaging an economy that Mr. Trump was banking on to recover quickly." In other words, Trump believes he can revive the economy quickly to improve his re-election chances, no matter how many Americans are unnecessarily killed in service to that cause.

And, speaking of elections, the Denver Post published a remarkable story on Wednesday night, along with an audio recording revealing Colorado U.S. Congressman and state Republican Party Chair Ken Buck ordering another GOP party official to falsify election results on an affidavit in order to place a Republican candidate for state Senate on Colorado's upcoming primary ballot.

The Republican official, Eli Bremer, GOP chair of state Senate District 10, is heard on the call refusing to do so without consulting with an attorney first. He asserts that he was being asked by Buck to commit a crime in signing a false affidavit to certify that at a local candidate received the 30% support necessary to be placed on the ballot when, in fact, he received only 24% in a recent vote.

A state District Court judge ruled on Monday that Bremer would have, in fact, been in violation of state law had he signed the affidavit as ordered by Buck. The state Republican Party appealed the ruling to the Colorado Supreme Court which declined to hear the case, leaving the lower court's ruling in place. Buck, a Tea Party right-winger and former District Attorney, claims the initial vote was flawed. He has yet to resign his post as Colorado GOP Chair or U.S. Congressman. He should step down from both. Had any Democrat been caught on tape doing anything even close to what Buck is heard doing in the recording, they would already be gone. We'll hope the Colorado state Bar Association, at the very least, sees fit to take away Buck's license to practice law after being caught on tape repeatedly ordering someone else to violate it.

Finally, even with what may be our most ridiculously apocalyptic Green News Report ever today, we have to tack on one more sign of the end of the world, as a potentially historic snowstorm is now forecast to dump as much as one foot this weekend in parts of the Northeast and New England --- in MAY! That story seems an apt intro today for Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report today, in which it all falls apart --- including terrible climate crisis news and, yes, Murder Hornets! --- suggesting that, in fact, we may finally have reached 'Peak GNR'.

Enjoy! (If you dare...)

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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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: Iowa U.S. House candidate J.D. Scholten; Also: The fight for safe, verifiable elections is now a state-by-state, county-by-county battle...
By Brad Friedman on 5/1/2020 7:03pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Make no mistake. Donald Trump's Executive Order earlier in the week pretending to force meatpacking plants to stay open did no such thing, despite how it was misreported by the corporate media. But for those really interested in protecting the nation's food supply, there is an answer. [Audio link to the full show is posted below.]

Trump's order was issued as meatpackers working on lines across the country, now at least 7,000 of them, have been infected with coronavirus, with at least 25 of them now killed by it. Workers are being sacrificed as Just four Big Ag monopolies now control 85% of the nation's beef supply with just 50 plants producing 98% of it for the nation.That is down from thousands that did so all across the country until recent decades when those four mostly foreign-owned companies were allowed to buy up and dangerously consolidate the nation's food supply.

It is now costing us in a number of ways. Many of the worst COVID-19 hot spots across the country are in meatpacking plants with hundreds of infections in each and many of those are concentrated in South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa. While the CDC and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have issued guidance recommendations for how the crowded plants may be run more safely, OSHA has made those recommendations voluntary, not mandatory. Thus, the Big Ag companies are largely ignoring the CDC safety guidelines in order to keep cranking out the meat, no matter the deadly cost to the workers and their families and communities where the disease continues to spread.

In Republican-run states like SD, NE and IA, the Governors have refused to issue stay-at-home orders, despite pleas from local Mayors and health officials to do so. Worse, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has told the companies that they may regard any workers too afraid to risk their lives by showing up to work in unsafe conditions as having voluntary quit. Therefore, says Reynolds, those workers will not qualify for state unemployment benefits when the companies fire them. As all of this has played out, and plants have been forced to shut down with workers literally collapsing on the lines, the nation has begun to see shortages of beef, pork and chicken in grocery stores, leading the CEO of Tyson Foods to recently declare that the "the food supply chain is breaking." No kidding. But that is thanks, in no small part, to the consoladition of companies by Tyson and the few others!

Fifth generation Iowan J.D. SCHOLTEN, who joins us on today's show, says that it doesn't have to be this way. The Democratic candidate for the U.S. House in Iowa's 4th Congressional District blames the consolidation of the nation's food supply by a handful of companies for multiple disasters the industry is now facing. "One of the reasons we're a secure nation is because we are a food secure nation," Scholten tells me. "And we're getting dangerously close to being so concentrated that we're very vulnerable. This pandemic has put a spotlight on that. If one plant goes down for any reason, that really hurts the entire system."

Scholten is running for Congress this year again after nearly unseating 9-term Republican white nationalist Rep. Steve King in 2018, when the Democratic nominee was just over 3 points shy of winning in the deep-red district that Donald Trump won by 27 points in 2016. He argues today that the threats to our broken food supply chain --- with few farm-to-table restaurants in the entire state, despite being the very heart of Farm County --- can easily be fixed if the nation enforces long-ignored trust busting laws already on the federal books.

"We had this battle 100 years ago," he says, "and, as a result, we had the Packers and Stockers Act. That was in 1921. Next year, which I hope to be my first year in Congress, will be the 100th anniversary" of the Act which he wants to see invoked again. "I think it's a real opportunity coming out of this that farmers and workers come together. If we enforce our anti-trust laws, we can balance the playing field, allow farmers to stay on their land and make a dime, and allow workers to make an honest wage and be respected."

He also believes that the crisis has turned many of Iowa's previously-solid Republicans away from their Party. "It's really in the last couple of weeks where we've really gotten the attention of farmers who, I would say, traditionally don't give a crap about the Democratic candidate in this race. I've had a number of Republicans, whether they're farm managers or actual farmers, reach out to me and say, 'You're dead on, on this issue! Thank you for saying something, because we all know [Steve] King won't.'"

Scholten wants to restore regional systems of food production and delivery that he says "will benefit Iowa. Not only will it help our farmers, it will help our rural communities. If we create this alternative local and regional food system, for pennies on the dollar, it would create so many decent jobs in rural Iowa that have really gone to the wayside."

We discuss all of that and much more today, including why he thinks that this year he may finally be able to remove the execrable racist Steve King from office once and for all and how the Hawkeye State now plans to mail absentee ballot request forms to every registered voter for their upcoming June 2nd primary. Scholten is running unopposed in the primary, but King --- who has been removed by House Republican leadership from all of his committee assignments after racist statements that even they couldn't ignore --- is facing a challenge from four other Republicans. Scholten believes King will win the GOP nod anyway, but will be cash-starved after doing so.

Next, the continuing state-by-state and county-by-county slog to reform election procedures to ensure voters can safely vote in upcoming primaries and this November's critical general election amid a global pandemic. On that score, bad news for voters out of the GOP-controlled state legislature in Louisiana, where in-person voters across the entire state are forced to vote at the polls on unverifiable touchscreen voting systems which are now also deadly disease vectors for the coronavirus. While the state's Republican Secretary of State and Democratic Governor had struck a deal for a scheme that would allow most voters in the state to vote by absentee ballot, Republicans in the state legislature gutted most of that proposal to make voting by mail much more restrictive. How did both state chambers hold full votes on the measure? They voted by mail of course!

Much better news for voters this week in two counties in Pennsylvania where primaries will be held on June 2nd as well. Election officials in Crawford and Luzerne Counties --- which previously forced all voters to use 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems at the polls --- have now decided to allow in-person voters to vote on hand-marked paper ballots instead. Happily, few will even need to do so. Late last year the state, for the first time in its history, adopted a measure that allows for no-excuse absentee voting for all. Many voters will be sent an absentee ballot application for the primary in the mail, but all registered voters may request a mail ballot online at VotesPA.com by May 26. The deadline to register to vote in the Keystone State's primary is May 18.

Finally, we close today with a song and a laugh to shuffle off into the weekend. Once again, it comes from satirist Randy Rainbow, who joins the President in offering a "Spoonful of Clorox" to make the COVID infection rate go down. [PLEASE NOTE: A spoonful of Clorox will not kill the coronavirus. It will, however, kill you. So don't drink any!]

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Guest: Slate's legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern; Also: U.S. economy plummeting at staggering rate; One Fox 'News' host pushes back (a bit)...
By Brad Friedman on 4/30/2020 6:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The number of lawsuits being filed by voters and voting rights advocates across the country is increasing with incredible speed as the coronavirus crisis continues and as we race toward the most critical Presidential election in the history of the nation on November 3rd. A new suit filed in federal court in Texas this week raises a very good and important challenge, arguing that the state (and 6 others with similarly restrictive state absentee voting laws) appears to be in strict violation of the U.S. Constitution. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But first, speaking of Texas, a new poll finds presumptive Democratic Party Presidential nominee Joe Biden now leading Donald Trump in the Lone Star state by 1 point. While that's within the poll's margin of error, that and other recent polls suggest Texas is most definitely in play this year for Democrats and underscores the importance of a number of lawsuits currently working through that state and other battlegrounds in hopes of ensuring that every legal voter who wishes to vote is able to do so (and without risking their lives in the bargain.)

Next, new weekly unemployment claim numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor today are bad. Really bad. All time record bad. Again. For the sixth week in a row. A staggering and unprecedented 30 million Americans have now filed new jobless claims over the past six weeks alone, with researchers finding that as many as 50% more have been unable to file a claim due to overloaded state agencies that are supposed to handle them. Moreover, according to figures released today from the Commerce Department, consumer spending plummeted 7.5% in March, the sharpest drop on record as the real Job Creators (that would be workers whose spending comprises 70% of the American economy!) have simply stopped spending as they were laid off or furloughed amid to the COVID-19 pandemic. That was in a month where only half of it was disrupted. April's numbers when available will likely be far worse.

And, with those numbers --- and still absolutely no plan to contain the virus at the federal level after all of these months and deaths --- Republicans are nonetheless attempting to fling open the doors to business, end stay-at-home requirements and social distancing measures across the country. But while the Republican propaganda hosts at Fox "News" tend to march in lock-step to encourage Americans (other than them) to stand up to restrictive measures meant to slow the spread of the virus, one host of Donald Trump's favorite morning show pushed back a bit today against her dangerously misinformed co-hosts.

Then, we're joined by Slate's ace legal reporter, MARK JOSEPH STERN, who has been focusing, of late, on the many voting rights battles now playing out across the country. He brings us up to date on a fascinating new federal lawsuit filed this week in Texas, charging that the state's law allowing no-excuse absentee voting for those aged 65 and older --- with severe restrictions on Vote-by-Mail balloting for anyone who is younger --- is in strict violation of the U.S. Constitution's 26th Amendment. Ratified in just 100 days in 1971, the Vietnam-era Amendment lowered the federal voting age from 21 while guaranteeing "The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged."

The suit argues that the TX absentee voting law, in fact, does abridge that right. Stern also explains that similar state laws restricting the right to vote by mail based on age in Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky do the exact same thing. The issue, which few have noticed following the ratification of the rarely-pondered 26th Amendment, is now more germane than ever given the deadly threat of the coronavirus to those required in such states to cast a ballot in-person at the polling place.

"Texas is one of seven states that grants special privileges to older voters," Stern says. "You are allowed to vote absentee if you qualify. But, to qualify, you have to either have a serious medical illness or be over the age of 65. If you are 64, you have no such luxury. You have to expose yourself to the coronavirus. If you are over a certain age, you get a privilege, and if you are under a certain age, you essentially get a burden. And that is exactly the kind of thing that the 26th Amendment was passed to try to abolish."

Though the Constitutional challenge is "a really cut-and-dry case" based on a very conservative, strict, textualist reading of the text of the "unambiguous" Amendment, defenders of the law in Texas (and elsewhere) may have a difficult time doing so without undermining their own defenses of the 2nd Amendment at the same time, as I discuss Stern.

But, while that federal complaint moves forward --- and faces anticipated procedural roadblocks to run out the clock from the very rightwing 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal in Texas (featuring what Stern describes as "some of the worst, most outwardly-partisan, hackish, nihilistic judges that this country has ever seen in its entire history sitting on that bench") and the stolen Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court --- voting rights champions have begun to open up another avenue in hopes of guaranteeing voting rights for all and saving the 2020 election: legal challenges in state courts based on the many state Constitutions which expressly guarantee "free and fair" elections.

If the stolen GOP majority on the U.S. Supreme Court is going to continue their open hostility toward voting rights that they've displayed since the gutting of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, challenges at the state Constitutional level could prove to be very fruitful, says Stern. "Voting rights advocates are marching into state courts and saying, 'Look, this election cannot be free and fair if people have to make the choice between risking their lives and exercising their Constitutional rights."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us with the latest Green News Report with the usual number of disturbing developments, but also a surprise happy ending today courtesy of the U.S. Supreme Court! Yes, that U.S. Supreme Court!...

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Biden takes OH; Mfume wins in MD; Yang sues NY state; MI's Amash likely running for Prez; Kobach loses again in KS; Also: Trump and economy sink like stones and a NYer on the government's f**ked up response...
By Brad Friedman on 4/29/2020 6:51pm PT  

We've got a boatload of news today (for a change) on The BradCast. And yes, we still need a much bigger boat. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

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

  • Democrat Kweisi Mfume surprises nobody by winning back his old seat in the U.S. House in Maryland's special election to replace the late Rep. Elijah Cummings in Baltimore (according to incomplete, unverified results.);
  • Joe Biden surprises nobody by winning the first quickly conceived and rescheduled statewide almost-all absentee ballot primary election during the COVID era in Ohio (according to incomplete, unverified results.);
  • Donald Trump's approval rating for his handling of the COVID crisis plummets in new poll, though his national head-to-head numbers against Biden remain the same;
  • Andrew Yang sues New York state over this week's cancellation of the Democratic Presidential Primary by two Democrats on the State Board of Elections;
  • In what could be game-changing news for the Presidential race (though how it will change the game precisely is still unclear), Michigan's Republican-turned-independent U.S. House Rep. Justin Amash announces likely plans to run for President on the Libertarian Party ticket;
  • Kansas' former Secretary of State, long time GOP "voter fraud" fraudster and current Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kris Kobach loses again, this time at a U.S. court of appeals which upheld a lower court ruling finding Kobach's "papers please" proof-of-citizenship voter registration law to be in violation of the Constitution's Equal Protection clause and the National Voter Registration Act, after it prevented 30,000 legal Kansas voters from voting;
  • New numbers from the Commerce Department confirm that the U.S. economy is in big BIG trouble;
  • Steven Colbert explains why Trump can't lie his way out of the coronavirus disaster;
  • And New York comedian Vic DiBitetto offers a rant FOR THE AGES (the uncensored version we couldn't play on air is here) in response to the federal government's pathetic response to the economic damage caused by the coronavirus...in a way that only a real New Yorker can...

I'm short on time tonight. So to find out my thoughts on any or all of the stories above, you'll have to tune in. Enjoy!

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 4/23/2020 11:12am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Coronavirus shutdown has drastically cut pollution and emissions around the world; World's oceans hit record high temperatures; 2020 on track to be hottest year on record; PLUS: COVID-19 is redefining what's possible in climate action... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO HELP US WITH A (MUCH-NEEDED) DONATION to celebrate 1000+ episodes of independent, listener-supported climate, energy and environmental news! Thank you!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): The coronavirus crisis means we may have already reached peak carbon; 50 Years Ago: An Awesome Earth Day Warning; Environmental Destruction Brought Us COVID-19. What It Brings Next Could Be Far Worse; Permian Oil Fields Leak Enough Methane for 7 Million Homes; A no-brainer stimulus idea: Electrify USPS mail trucks; WA Gov. Jay Inslee endorses Biden; US power demand falls to 2003 low due to coronavirus shutdown... PLUS: Will the coronavirus kill the oil industry and help save the climate?... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guest: Financial journalist David Dayen; Also: COVID economic numbers getting worse; TX judge allows absentee voting during pandemic...
By Brad Friedman on 4/16/2020 7:18pm PT  

On today's BradCast: More economic fallout and Administration failure amid the coronavirus crisis, but some good news for Texas voters...at least for now. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Devastating and unprecedented economic numbers continue to pour out from D.C. today, with new unemployment claims last week topping 5.2 million. That totals nearly 22 million new jobless claims over the past month, once again blowing away --- for the fourth week running --- the pre-COVID weekly jobless claims record of 695,000 in 1992. Economists now believe the U.S. unemployment rate is about 15%, rivaling numbers from the Great Depression.

At the same time, several of the federal programs run by the Executive Branch meant to provide relief to individuals and small businesses amid the pandemic, are failing or have collapsed entirely. For example, the $350 billion appropriated to forgivable small business loans in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) included as part of the CARES Act is now completely gone, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Millions who applied for loans and grants under PPP have been shut out entirely.

Separately, while some have received their promised $1,200 individual payments also allocated by the Act, there are reports today that $500 payments included for dependent children have not been included for many, even as many more still wait for their payments entirely. (Some of which are likely delayed thanks to Donald Trump insisting his name be added to the paper checks being mailed out.)

"What you'll see if this continues for months and months, and people are still inside, are just closures of businesses," today's returning guest DAVID DAYEN, Executive Editor of The American Prospect and author of its daily, indispensable "Unsanitized" report tells me . "Right now, businesses are shuttered, they're looking for this CARES Act, the PPP loans. They're trying to figure out a way to stay alive, they'll just close if it's months before they can open."

He cites potential closures of as many as 60% of businesses in the retail sector and 70% in the restaurant sector who may soon be forced to simply shut down entirely. "That is absolute economic devastation. That's not something that you can easily come back from when you throw open the doors. If people can't stay in business right now, they're not going to be able to go back into business when everything opens."

But that is unlikely to happen on the schedule the President is pretending it will, says Dayen. "You can say 'we're going to re-open the economy', but a large segment of the American people aren't going to willingly go like lambs to the slaughter back to a restaurant if they expect that there is an outbreak that the government doesn't have a handle on. You see business executives saying to Trump, 'You can't do anything with this until you get massive testing in place.' And we just don't have that right now. So the economic pain and the public health hazard will continue until such time as we get our act together. That time has not yet been upon us."

All of this, of course, is even worse than it has to be, thanks to this disastrous Administration. A number of Dayen's recent scoops from his daily column at The Prospect have recently been picked up by the corporate media, including the New York Times Editorial Board which last night cited his coverage of a recording he obtained between Treasury Department officials and bank executives. The recording reveals the Trump Administration gave a green light to banks to withhold the money from those $1,200 payments sent to their customers who had unpaid fees and debts. That, despite the fact that Congress allowed Treasury to draft regulations to prevent the banks from stealing those emergency payments from customers.

Dayen further reports today that USAA, a bank which services many American veterans, has been stealing those funds from disabled vets and their families. Thanks to Dayen's reporting, however, the company has now announced they will reverse the practice.

In yet another scoop from Dayen's "Unsanitized" today, a new report from a number of non-governmental organizations suggests that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce --- the nation's largest, richest and most powerful lobbying organization, which spends hundreds of millions of dollars to elect Republicans across the country --- has been urging the White House against invoking the Defense Production Act to force the production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as much-needed N95 masks to guard against the coronavirus pandemic. Why would they do that? Well, as Dayen explains, many of the companies who might be forced to comply with the Act to manufacture highly sought after protective gear and ventilators, etc. have top executive who sit on the Chamber's Board of Directors. That may very well answer the mystery of why the Trump Administration has been so hesitant to invoke the Korean War-era statute to help fight the alarming spread of COVID-19.

Next, we return to the growing fight over how Americans will be allowed to vote during the pandemic, with some Republicans taking extraordinary measures to prevent voters from being able to vote by absentee ballot this year, despite the dangers now presented by in-person voting amid stay-at-home orders across the country. In Texas, the Attorney General is attempting to block Lone Star State voters from requesting absentee ballots based on their fear of contracting coronavirus at the polls. The AG recently declared [PDF] that such concerns do not meet the state's statutory requirement that a voter must have a "physical condition" that constitutes a "disability" in order to apply for an absentee ballot. Moreover, the AG's office declared that third parties who recommend voters take advantage of that option, without an actual physical disability that prevents them from going to the polls, could be held criminally liable for doing so.

Thankfully, a state District Court judge on Wednesday, in a suit filed by the Texas Democratic Party with a number of voting rights groups, ruled that all Texas voters may legally apply for mail-in ballots due to social distancing restrictions and the risk of contracting the virus. At least for now. That good news is tempered by the fact that the Republican Attorney General has made clear that the case is likely to be appealed to a higher state court. That, ironically enough, as the TX AG who is still facing his own felony indictments on securities fraud, declared after the judge's ruling that "The integrity of our democratic election process must be maintained, and law established by our legislature must be followed consistently."

The legal fight in Texas, however, clearly illustrates the battle lines now being drawn between Democrats and voting rights advocates hoping to make it easier for Americans to vote amid a pandemic in this year's critical elections and Republicans who are attempting to suppress as many voters as they can --- even if it means forcing their own voters to choose between risking their lives or losing their right to vote.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report, with some more good news out of now "blue" Virginia, some more disturbing news from the Trump EPA (which is also happy to allow Americans to die unnecessarily), some good global news regarding renewable energy, and a look back at the BP Gulf Oil Spill ten years ago this week, where the damage persists even a full decade after the nation's worst fossil-fuel disaster...

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Guest: Alexander Sammon of The American Prospect; Also: Some much brighter news about voting in Virginia...and even Pennsylvania!
By Brad Friedman on 4/15/2020 5:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The U.S. and world economies continue to collapse amid ridiculous happy talk largely from the President and his GOP pals, as the suffering of millions of Americans grows amid the coronavirus pandemic and, incredibly enough, millions of tons of fresh food being destroyed by farmers and other food producers. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Why are farmers and dairy producers doing that? The American Prospect's ALEXANDER SAMMON joins us today to explain how "Coronavirus has Broken America's Food Supply", and how, amazingly enough, the federal government (including the President who pretends to love farmers...especially in swing states) appears to be doing absolutely nothing about about a collapsing supply chain.

To be fair, neither party seems to be loudly pressing for action here, according to Sammon. But, as we discuss, this is a problem that could pretty easily be solved by the federal government. American families are running out of money as workers are being laid off. The Government is sending them a paltry $1,200 check (which may be delayed for many, because Trump is insisting on his name appearing on the checks), which many are likely to use to buy food. At the same time, food and milk created for commercial use in sectors which have collapsed (restaraunts, hotels, schools) is being destroyed. The Government could be buying that food (delivering much-needed relief to struggling farmers and food producers) and use the storied logistics skills of the U.S. Military to help deliver it to people in desperate need all over the country and around the world.

"It's one of those things where we've seen the President basically almost allergic to using federal authority, the national authority that is at his disposal to make these things right," Sammon explains. "Here is something he could do, well within the capacity of the federal government and the military, but there's been no indication they're going to pursue that. I think that's a pretty astounding political failure, at a very basic level."

Sammon goes on to describe the worsening conditions for food producers and the laborers in the industry who are becoming sick at an alarming rate, as "a very troubling sign for farmers and the food supply chain going forward."

"There's going to be a lot of farmers entering in to bankruptcy," he tells me. "The jolt to the system is not going to be immediate. But a year from now we could be looking at diminished supply at a pretty significant level. That could result in much higher prices. If we're emerging from a global recession, where we're talking about forecasts of 30% unemployment, potentially, at some point later in the year, the notion of having escalating food prices is certainly not something that's going to take the edge off of that."

Despite that grim news and the horrific economic numbers released on Wednesday regarding retail sales --- (yes, CONSUMERS, as it turns out, are the backbone of the nation's economy...They are the job creators, not the parasitic corporations and executives who pretend to be) --- we've got some more good news today for those who can't wait to vote this November. It'll much easier --- and safer --- to do that in Virginia this year, thanks to a series of important election reforms signed into law over the weekend by the state's Democratic Governor. Among the many long-overdue reforms: No-excuse absentee voting; Automatic voter registration at the DMV; Repeal of Photo ID voting restrictions; Expanded early and Election Day voting hours; and Election Day will now be a state holiday, while the Lee-Jackson Day holiday, celebrating Confederate Generals who attacked the U.S., will no longer be celebrated.

All of those reforms come thanks to the Democratic majorities won for the first time in years in both the Commonwealth's Senate and House last year. And that is thanks, in no small part, to the court-ordered UNgerrymandering of Virginia last year.

But that's not all the good news about upcoming elections today. The Republican National Committee, according to mailers they paid for and sent out to Republican voters in Pennsylvania, has declared that absentee voting is "easy, convenient and secure"! Yes, the word "secure" was made bold on the "Official Republican Party Mail-in Ballot Application" sent out to voters in the Keystone State this week.

So, apparently, we can all happily ignore the President and other high-profile Republicans around the country who claim that Vote-by-Mail is a vector for fraud. Their own party, it seems, has just made liars of them! (Though that's not particularly difficult to do these days.)

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On the COVID outbreak in our nation's prison system and on $2.2 trillion created out of nowhere for the emergency relief bill…
By Brad Friedman on 4/13/2020 5:14pm PT  

We're off today, but we've got a BradCast 'RECOUNTED' for your listening pleasure, with two excellent recent interviews you may have missed. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

  • Then, my conversation on 4/8/2020 with former Alabama Gov. DON SIEGELMAN on the quickly deteriorating conditions at the Federal Correctional Institution at Oakdale, LA, where he served 5 years on a trumped up charge before finally being released in 2017, and where a tragic outbreak of COVID-19 is now said to be the worst of all the facilities in our federal prison system.

We're back tomorrow!

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Also: Trump dreaming about 're-opening'; Many waiting for checks that won't come; Some good news about Biden; And a happy ending...
By Brad Friedman on 4/10/2020 6:03pm PT  

What a week. We've got a lot to catch up with on today's BradCast, with much of it not good news at all. But we do try to offer a few bright spots along the way, and finish with a song, to make the stories you need to know about slightly less maddening. [Audio link to show follows below summary.]

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

  • Biden leads Trump by 11 points in a new NATIONAL poll taken before Sanders dropped out;
  • Tuesday's shameful, disastrous and, likely, deadly "shit show" of an election in Wisconsin --- with in-person voting forced in the middle of a global pandemic by Republicans in the state legislature, state Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court --- was even worse and more disenfranchising than previously known. Officials are now calling for an investigation from the U.S. Postal Service to explain why thousands of absentee ballots, many sent far in advance of Election Day, never arrived for many voters in Milwaukee, and as Republican state Sen. Dan Feyen now hypocritically wants an extension to vote for some voters in his district after several tubs of absentee ballots were discovered at a postal facility undelivered. (That, after he and his GOP colleagues in the state legislature repeatedly prevented a postponement of the election and applauded the SCOTUS ruling that prevented a 6-day extension for tens of thousands of voters to return their absentee ballots after having not even received them at all before the April 7 Election Day.);
  • And, in very related news, the U.S. Postal Service is now apparently on the brink of complete shutdown, as early as June, thanks to a decrease in mail delivery during the coronavirus pandemic. Democrats on Capitol Hill are begging for a short term bailout [PDF] for the quasi-independent federal agency that otherwise receives no tax-payer dollars. Republicans, however, blocked the effort to include $25 billion to save the USPS in the recent $2.2 Trillion emergency relief/corporate bailout CARES Act (which included $500 billion for private corporations). That, as millions rely on the USPS for prescription drugs and states across the country hope to rely on the Post Office for Vote-by-Mail primary elections in June and perhaps in all 50 states this November. Republicans also refused to include $4 billion needed to help states conduct elections during a pandemic, but they did include $400 million which, since there are few, if any, restrictions on that money, states are already using it for other things instead;
  • Finally, we end with a song and a laugh (cuz we really need both at the end of this week as much as you do), as Randy Rainbow plays us out with a tribute to his new favorite Governor...

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Guest: American Prospect's David Dayen on the failure of coronavirus relief measures and 'Great Depression II'...
By Brad Friedman on 4/9/2020 6:25pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Don't believe a word you are being told by the Administration or Wall Street. Actual facts and data suggest its almost entirely all bullshit. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The economic outlook in the U.S. continues to quickly degrade in light of the coronavirus pandemic, with another record 6.6 million applying for unemployment benefits last week. That brings the total number of jobless claims to an unheard of 17 million or so in the past three weeks alone, with millions more unable to even apply for benefits due to still-overloaded websites and continuously busy phone lines at states across the country. The all-time weekly record for jobless claims, until three weeks ago, was 695,000. Over the past three weeks it has been 3.2 million, followed by 6.6 million, followed again by another 6.6 million.

The numbers are stultifying. For example, that 17 million figure is more than the total number of jobs added since 2013; far more than the total number of jobs in the 20 smallest U.S. states combined; and far more than every single job in the state of Texas, which has the 2nd largest state workforce in the country. The unemployment rate, believed to now be at least 12%, goes far beyond the worst days of the Great Recession and are now in Great Depression territory, with some independent economists refering to what we are now looking at as "Great Depression II". (Check out the two gobsmacking charts in WaPo's coverage today.)

And, yet, despite those data, and still climbing coronavirus cases and deaths, we are getting a whole lot of happy talk from the Administration. And not just from our desperate, pathetic Liar-in-Chief, from whom we'd expect it, but from folks like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who absurdly suggested today on CNBC that America "could be open for business" by May! Donald Trump's Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell assured the Brookings Institution that the "strong economic footing" before the COVID-19 crisis will support a "robust" recovery, as if we could expect one any day now! All of which was enough to continue the recent Wall Street rally that resulted in the biggest weekly jump in the S&P 500 since 1974!

Everything must be going great! But, of course, it isn't. At least not back here in Realityville, where the "irrational exuberance" (as long-ago Fed Chair Alan Greenspan once described it) of the Administration and Wall Street is nowhere near seeing its way to Main Street. That, even though the Fed announced $2.3 trillion in new funding schemes --- creating money out of nowhere (no Congress needed, thanks!) --- in hopes of offsetting the impact of the pandemic on the economy. The Fed initiative includes something they are calling the "Main Street Lending Program" to shovel money to "Main Street" companies with up to 10,000 workers and less than $2.5 billion in revenue. Ya know, like most of those business on your friendly local "Main Street".

At the same time, none of the promised, measly $1,200 checks for individuals from the $2.2 trillion CARES Act have made their way to Americans yet (Mnuchin says "next week!"), and the $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) from the same emergency relief package adopted by Congress two weeks ago is still said to be mired in bureaucratic red tape at the commercial banks tapped to hand out the money (and take a cut in the bargain). There is little if any money actually getting to people and small businesses that need it most at the moment, even as Congress was bickering again on Thursday about adding another $250 billion to the program which will still be woefully underfunded even then.

But, somehow, Wall Street and the Administration are sending the message that all will be well, with America "back in business" as early as May! Don't count on it.

Investigative financial journalist DAVID DAYEN, Executive Editor of The American Prospect and author of its daily and indispensable "Unsanitized" report (which warned about all of these matters before they happened today and were only then picked up by the corporate mainstream media) joins us again to help unpack the details on all of the above, more related failures, and a few that we should be expecting in the days ahead, as the dire situation gets worse and the irrational exuberance and happy talk from D.C. and Wall Street continues impotently.

"John Edwards used to talk about the 'Two Americas'," Dayen notes. "Those two sets of statistics couldn't be starker about the Two Americas. Investors are letting the good times roll, while ordinary Americans are losing their jobs in numbers with a speed that we have never seen before."

"The difference between 2008 and today is that, in 2008, the institutions that were getting this largess were largely responsible for the downturn, whereas these businesses pretty much aren't responsible for the coronavirus. When you look at the proportionality of the response --- when you look at the neighborhood pizza shop or the neighborhood dry cleaner, and what they have to go through to survive in this Second Depression --- and you look at a 'main street' business with 10,000 workers, or the airlines, or some other large businesses, the velvet rope service they are getting, it is obviously very disproportional," he tells me.

"So let's not say nobody has been helped. We sped relief where we could, to the people who this bill was for, and that's investors on Wall Street."

Finally today, we're joined by Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report, with some actual good news --- even if it is paired, as usual, with her usual dose of much less than good news...

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Guest: David Dayen of The American Prospect; Also: Callers!...
By Brad Friedman on 4/6/2020 6:47pm PT  

It was an action-packed BradCast today, though not in a good way, unfortunately, thanks to Republicans and their state Supreme Court majority in Wisconsin. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, as we've been telling you for weeks, there is absolutely no plan at the federal level for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic --- on either a medical level or an economic level --- even months after the Trump Administration first learned about it. The $2.2 trillion so-called Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, hastily adopted by Congress and signed by the President just over a week ago is a mess.

Individual checks for $1,200 may take months to get to many Americans (if they get them at all) and the process for doling out $350 billion allocated by the measure towards immediate relief for small businesses via forgivable loans is even more of a disaster out of the gate. Banks, serving as middlemen, are not set up for the onslaught of applications that began on Friday, with many applicants being turned away entirely by the largest banks, and with nowhere near enough money included in the pool to serve the 30 million companies considered eligible small businesses. Our guest today suggests that no more than 5% of businesses who need help under the CARES Act's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) are likely to receive the immediately needed loans before the funding runs out.

Moreover, there is still no nationalized plan by the Trump Administration to ensure that states have all of the basic equipment they need --- from masks, gloves and gowns to ventilators and test kits --- as supply chains have become an all out "Wild West show, with middlemen and drop points and plane rescues," according to our guest DAVID DAYEN, financial investigative journalist and Executive Editor of The American Prospect. He is now producing his indispensable "Unsanitized: Covid-19 Daily Report" column and newsletter at The Prospect.

He reports that it is not only states competing with other states and the federal government for critical life-saving equipment, but that the federal government (FEMA) is also competing with the federal government (the Strategic National Stockpile or SNS), bidding up the same gear! All of this as U.S. deaths officially attributed to COVID-19 blew past the 10,000 mark on Monday, with a week ahead that could include a "9/11 attack worth of Americans" dying, day after day, for 10 days in a row beginning in the next few days, according to one of the more conservative data projections.

Dayen offers detail on much of the above and the problem that many Americans are also now facing in their attempts to file for bankruptcy protection --- at a time that many desperately need to do so --- with courthouses shutdown around the country, and only those lucky enough to be able to afford an attorney able to file electronically.

As CNN's Jake Tapper made clear on Sunday: there is no plan for any of this. It is a disaster that is likely to continue for months (at least) with no competent officials leading the way at the federal level, and absolutely no ultimate plan to help us get out, eventually, from under what is likely to be as bad or worse than the Great Depression. That, despite the "irrational exuberance" exhibited today by a Wall Street that seems to be in utter denial.

Then, where we had hoped when today's show began to bring you the long overdue good news that Wisconsin's Democratic Governor Tony Evers finally did the right thing on Monday morning by issuing an Executive Order to postpone tomorrow's Presidential Primary, state Supreme Court election and municipal races until June 9, we were forced to change course mid-show after the state's Rightwing Supremes blocked Evers' order along a 4 to 2 party line vote.

Therefore, unless something changes, where Badger State voters can find an open polling place tomorrow (scores of municipalities found zero poll workers willing to face death to man the polls, and Milwaukee's usual 180 polling sites are being reduced to just 5!), voters will have to risk their lives to cast a vote in person on Tuesday. After Republicans had their way with the state Supremes, they have also filed with the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an order by a federal judge last week that allowed 6 extra days for voters to turn in absentee ballots, many of which have not yet even arrived to voters on the day before the Election (when they would otherwise be due.) After air time, it appears that the stolen Republican Majority on SCOTUS has also decided with their GOP brethren in WI, and voted along party lines to overturn the federal judge's extension of the deadline for absentee ballots. Tens of thousands will be disenfranchised in the bargain.

It is a chaotic mess and electoral disaster. But, more to the point, it is a DEADLY disaster in the making, with Republicans in the state all too happy to condemn voters to potential death because they think more Democrats will be affected and possibly killed, and they hope that their incumbent Republican state Supreme Court Justice, who is on the ballot on Tuesday, will prevail under these conditions. It is appalling and Americans should get ready for much more of this in the months ahead, with more than 20 states still to cast their postponed primary votes, and all 50 states preparing to figure out how to run an election during a deadly pandemic this November. One of the two major parties has made clear that they are more than happy to place their retention of political power over the lives of actual American citizens.

Finally, today, we open up the phones to allow a few callers from the coronaverse to ring in....

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Staggering unemployment numbers; McConnell tells Pelosi to 'stand down' from new relief measure; WI set to hold deadly vote on Tuesday...
By Brad Friedman on 4/2/2020 6:59pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Yes, it is as bad as we warned it would be. And it is getting even worse. And the way some state officials are now behaving, even upcoming elections may be unable to reverse much of this madness. [Audio link to full program is posted at end of summary.]

On Thursday, the U.S. Labor Department released gobsmacking statistics revealing that a record 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the past week. That follows more than 3 million doing so the week before. Both weeks blow to smithereens the previous all-time record high for weekly jobless claims since such records have been kept. That numbers was of 695,000, as set in 1982. We are quickly blowing past the disastrous economic tailspin of the 2008 Great Recession and moving into Great Depression territory.

In response, House Dems are attempting to move to another relief bill, in the form of a $2 trillion infrastructure plan to follow up last week's $2.2 trillion stimulus/corporate bailout bill. But Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is, so far, rejecting Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's proposal to do so, while telling her to "stand down" as the GOP does nothing instead. That, as NBC News reports today that Americans may be waiting as long as five months for the paltry $1,200 check promised them by last week's emergency relief bill.

But, of course, Congressional Republicans aren't doing absolutely nothing. McConnell has vowed to continuing packing the federal courts with unqualified judges, even among this disaster. And several GOP members of the House and Senate are proposing a bill to punish those who disseminated false information about coronavirus or who profited from it --- so long as those people are from other countries. Luckily, Donald Trump's months of repeated and purposeful and deadly disinformation that he and his Administration fed to the American people about the pandemic is all cool! So, apparently, are any U.S. Senators who may have profited from early information about the virus by trading millions of dollars of stock based on insider information, including Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Kelly Loeffler (R-GA). Presumably, they will not be held to account by the GOP's proposal to punish anyone who "financially benefits from acts intended to deliberately conceal or distort information about a public health emergency of international concern."

In the House, at the same time, Pelosi has announced the formation of a new bipartisan Select Committee to oversee the Trump Administration's response to the pandemic and its use of the $2 trillion allocated by last week's relief package. The committee, she says, will have subpoena power. So, if there are any questions the panel may have for members of the Administration dolling out that record amount of tax payer funds, we're certain that all of the President's men will undoubtedly respect any lawful Congressional subpoena they may receive.

Meanwhile, we continue to keep our eyes on how to help to begin to end many of these ongoing nightmares, somehow, via the ballot box. Toward that end, the Democratic National Committee announced they are postponing their national nominating convention, previously scheduled for Milwaukee, Wisconsin in July, back to August instead, in hopes that it will be possible to gather in person by that time (it likely will not be.) It would be held the week before Republicans plan to hold theirs in Charlotte, North Carolina, which Trump has vowed to hold with delegates gathered in person in the final week of August.

But, we're still in utter disbelief that Wisconsin is actually --- seriously --- going to hold their Presidential Primary, statewide Supreme Court election and municipal contests NEXT TUESDAY on April 7, despite, as we noted yesterday, the ongoing unprecedented health emergency, statewide stay-at-home order, and "a massive shortage of poll workers across the state, with more than 100 communities having no poll workers at all as of [this past Tuesday, and] an overall shortage of some 7,000 workers in 60% of the state's municipalities."

As we reported Wednesday, the only thing set to stop this madness with both the state's Democratic Governor and Republican heads of the state House and Senate also on board, is a federal lawsuit filed by voting rights advocates. Well, U.S. District Judge Mark M. Conley issued his ruling on Thursday, declining to postpone the election, while making clear that though he disagrees with the state's decision to move forward, he does not have the authority to postpone it due to a health emergency in which, he suggested correctly, residents could die. "That may be something that happens," he said during closing arguments, adding "that would be outside my jurisdiction. But it will be on the hands of the legislature and the governor."

Yes, it will. Judge Conley did, however, extend a few deadlines for absentee balloting, which has also reportedly already overwhelmed local elections officials who are having trouble keeping up with incoming ballots as well as sending out a record number of requested ballots. The Wisconsin Election Commission has already stated that it is very likely, barring a legislative change by the Republican-controlled legislature, that many votes will not be able to be counted at all in time for the state's statutory deadline. Republicans appear to be very happy about that. Conley suggested he may rule again, if voting rights are seen as imperiled on Election Day.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with the U.N. cancelling its critical upcoming climate conference due to the corona virus pandemic; a bankrupt U.S. coal company attempting to pass its obligations to retired miners over to tax payers instead; several states use the COVID-19 crisis as an excuse to pass laws criminalizing pipeline protests; and Trump's Interior Dept. keeps national parks open despite worker illnesses and their pleas to close the parks in the name of public safety...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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