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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, October 29, 2020
Cold Civil War Over Democracy Grinds On as Voting Deadline Looms: 'BradCast' 10/29/20
Pro-democracy wins in MN, TX; FL Guv's voter reg hacked; VT demands SCOTUS correction...
'Green News Report' 10/29/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Zeta slams into LA, its 5th storm this season; Logging begins in Tongass National Forest; China vaults ahead of U.S. on climate pledge; PLUS: Expand the Court to save the climate...
Previous GNRs: 10/27/20 - 10/22/20 - Archives...
Preparing to Play the
SCOTUS Trump Cards:
'BradCast' 10/28/20
Guest: Mark Joseph Stern on Kavanaugh's terrifying, error-riddled opinion in the case that blocks WI from counting thousands of ballots; Also: Trump's very VERY bad day...
Dear Dems: Unrig the Court (If They Don't Rig the Election First): 'BradCast' 10/27/20
Guest: Aaron Belkin of Take Back the Court; Also: Barrett joins stolen SCOTUS; Supremes order WI to reject timely mail-in votes...
'Green News Report' 10/27/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Yet another hurricane - Zeta - aims for Gulf Coast; More hurricane-force winds and fires in CA and CO; PLUS: Biden's truth, Trump's nonsense at 2020's final Presidential Debate...
Previous GNRs: 10/22/20 - 10/20/20 - Archives...
Election Official Who Oversaw FL 2000 'Recount' Warns of 'Hacked' 2020 Results: 'BradCast' 10/26/20
Guest: Ion Sancho, former Leon Cnty election chief; Also: 3rd COVID peak; GA ransomware...
Sunday 'Losing It' Toons
We're just trying to keep it all together in PDiddie's penultimate pre-election weekly toon collection....
Special Coverage: The Final 2020 Presidential Debate: 'BradCast' 10/23/20
Guests: Heather Digby Parton and Richard 'R.J.' Eskow decode Thursday's face-off in Nashville and our nightmares before (and after?) Halloween...
Trump, Barr, Wolf Sued for Unlawful Voter Intimidation: 'BradCast' 10/22/20
Guest: Attorney Ron Fein; Also: Biden's Court expansion plan; Graham breaks rules to approve Barrett; Bad news for AL voters; Admin says Iran behind Dem email threats?!...
'Green News Report' 10/22/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Another new record storm in a record-breaking hurricane season; Great Barrier Reef half dead; First all-climate campaign ad; PLUS: The Hummer is back, and now it's all-electric...
Previous GNRs: 10/20/20 - 10/15/20 - Archives...
Are Americans Ready (or Even Able) to Roll Back the GOP's 'Permanent Minority Rule'?: 'BradCast' 10/21/20
Guest: David Daley; Also: Lawyers hate Trump; Fed court allows TX to reject mail-in ballots...
Good News, Bad News! It's 'The Caveat Show!': 'BradCast' 10/20/20
All sorts of reasons for Dems to feel good about Biden and re-taking the Senate...And plenty of reasons to remain concerned about both...
'Green News Report' 10/20/20
Massive CO wildfires; Trump flip-flops on disaster aid to CA; Wind, solar energy now the cheapest energy in the world; PLUS: Biden talks clean energy at ABC Town Hall...
Voting is Not Enough: How YOU Can Help Oversee and Protect Our Elections!: 'BradCast' 10/19/20
Guest: Emily Levy of Scrutineers.org; Also: Bad news for MI voters; FL voting website fails...
Sunday 'A Bigger Boat' Toons
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the voting booth...PDiddie offers his latest collection of the week's best toons...
2020's Federal Court Voting Rights Roller Coaster: 'BradCast' 10/16/20
Guest: Election law Prof. Joshua A. Douglas; Also: Trump's CA wildfire disaster relief roller coaster...
'Deranged Power Grab': Barrett SCOTUS Hearings Conclude: 'BradCast' 10/15/20
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: E-Pollbook systems fail in GA; FBI reports 'unauthorized access to elections systems'...
'Green News Report' 10/15/20
Barrett sounds like climate denier at Senate hearings; Sen. Whitehouse on dark-money polluter capture of judiciary; PLUS: Sept. 2020 hottest ever...
'Hypocrisy in Daylight? Look for Power in the Shadows': 'BradCast' 10/14/20
Guest: Lisa Graves on Sen. Whitehouse's revelations of GOP's $250M SCOTUS-packing coup; Also: Good voting news in VA, TX, AK!...
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: 28-year former Leon County, FL Supervisor of Elections, Ion Sancho; Also: Coronavirus begins third U.S. peak; Ransomware attack hits GA county's election infrastructure...
By Brad Friedman on 10/26/2020 6:54pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We're now just one week from Election Day. But as today's guest underscores, we may be much farther away from knowing who actually won it, given disturbing vulnerabilities that remain in our nation's voting system, beginning --- if not ending --- in the battleground state of Florida. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But first, the Trump Administration announced over the weekend, via White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, that it is no longer even trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19, with Meadows telling CNN that "we aren't going to control the pandemic." Rather, he said, they'll work on mitigating its effects, eventually, through the development of therapies and vaccines.

That, as the U.S. hit its third peak of infections over the weekend, with new daily records that outpaced those from the June-July peak, which previously outpaced those from the original March-April peak. The pandemic is getting far worse, not better, and it's now being super-spread by the President of the United States himself at maskless rallies around the country. The virus which has now killed almost a quarter of a million Americans in the past six months is also being similarly spread by Vice President Mike Pence at rallies, even after five of his top staffers and advisers, including his Chief of Staff Marc Short, were revealed over the weekend to have tested positive.

On Monday morning, Trump actually tweeted that reporting on COVID numbers should now be outlawed. At the same time, talks on a new emergency relief package for the American people, between the White House and Democrats in the U.S. House, collapsed yet again. And, in response to all of the above, the Dow plummeted 650 points on Monday.

Things are not going well, just one week out from Election Day, even after some 60 million Americans have already cast their vote this year, outpacing all early voting from 2016.

But, if you think Election Day will be the answer to all of our woes --- while I pray you are right --- you may want to hedge that bet. One of my greatest fears about the election, a ransomware attack, appears to already be playing out in one county in the battleground state of Georgia. In Hall County, a ransomware attack has hit the county's elections infrastructure by taking out its voter signature database and a precinct map hosted on its website. If a similar attack were to occur on or before Election Day, in any one of the thousands of counties which now rely on the Internet or networked computers to allow voters to cast a vote at all, we could see absolute chaos. This President, of course, is all to ready to exploit such a case to his advantage with the help of gerrymandered Republican-controlled state legislatures around the country and a compliant (and stolen) U.S. Supreme Court (made even more stolen today by the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett in the U.S. Senate.)

Down in the critical battleground of Florida, as my guest explains today, voters may never even know if the election is stolen from them. That guest today is the legendary, former 28-year Supervisor of Elections in Leon County (Tallahassee), Florida, ION SANCHO, who was so well-respected by his peers on both the right and left he was appointed to oversee the eventually-aborted year 2000 recount between Al Gore and George W. Bush in the Sunshine State.

On Friday, Sancho sent an urgent letter [PDF] to the Supervisors of Elections in 47 of Florida's 67 counties which use wireless cellular modems to transmit precinct election results to county headquarters after the close of polls on Election Night. The letter warns that those modems --- and the Internet connections to them at the counties' central tabulators --- can be easily hacked "from anywhere in the world." If they are, he explains on today's program, it's very likely that such a hack, changing election results, would never be noticed by election officials.

"The issue is that we’re using equipment that is not secure," Sancho tells me. "To quote Sen. Marco Rubio, 'Many Florida election officials are arrogant over their belief that they can’t be touched, that they are secure.' And this is a state that does not compare the numbers that we generate on those electrical optical scanners to the actual, physical votes on the piece of paper. We’re completely dependent upon those electronic totals on Election Night."

Manual examination of hand-marked paper ballots in Florida, to make sure the reported computer tabulation was correct, is prohibited by state law. Sancho details his concerns about those modems --- which are not federally certified for use in elections --- and how the state's election officials can avoid the threat posed by this very serious vulnerability to the state's election infrastructure. Making matters worse, he notes, "We do not audit the paper ballots to confirm that the election totals are correct. And that’s a huge, huge problem – not just in Florida, but everywhere in the country."

"Most of the election officials were not even aware that their systems were connected [to the Internet], because the vendor [in this case, ES&S, the nation's largest] never told them. You’re almost 100% dependent upon the vendor for the information about your system. So our most public process – our elections process, which is public – really are controlled by private entities."

"The worst-case scenario," with the modems now used in the systems in Florida, "is that a man-in-the-middle attack could actually intercept the totals that are being electronically-transmitted over the Internet, and manipulate them --- not only to the central tabulator, but re-routing back into the actual digital voting machine and altering the results in that device," he warns. "You could have a complete disaster here."

Sancho may be familiar to some listeners from his landmark appearance in HBO's Emmy-nominated 2006 documentary Hacking Democracy, in which he allows an experiment by "white hat" Finnish hacker Harri Hursti. In the film's climactic scene, we see an actual hack of one of Leon County's optical scan systems, as carried out by Hursti in a mock election. The hack flips the results of the election in a way that would never be noticed by elections officials, save for a manual examination of the hand-marked paper ballots cast.

Sancho also offers his concerns today about whether the 2020 Presidential election could become a redux of what played out in Florida in 2000, when a weeks-long battle to determine who would be President of the United States was kicked off on Election Night, after an optical-scan tabulator --- for reasons still unknown to this day --- recorded negative 16,022 votes for Al Gore in Volusia County. The election was ultimately decided in favor of Bush by an "official" margin of just 527 votes, thanks to a right-wing U.S. Supreme Court which stopped Sancho's statewide hand recount from ever being completed...

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

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Guests: Heather Digby Parton and Richard 'R.J.' Eskow decode Thursday's face-off in Nashville and our nightmares before (and after?) Halloween...
By Brad Friedman on 10/23/2020 5:52pm PT  

As new coronavirus infections spike to an all-time daily record in the U.S. on Thursday (and again today), with cases now on the rise in nearly 75% of the nation and hospitalizations increasing again in 38 states, our infected President, Donald Trump, and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, faced off in Nashville, TN for the (mercifully) final debate of the 2020 season.

We've got full special coverage on today's BradCast with a very smart panel, including RICHARD "R.J." ESKOW of The Zero Hour; HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullaballoo; and, of course, our very own Desi Doyen.

It's a rather lively hour today as we try to make sense of our collective Nightmare Before Halloween, which continued to play out on Thursday night at Belmont University, even while deftly moderated (with a helpful mute button) by NBC's Kristen Welker. As CNN's great fact-checker Daniel Dale explained on Twitter last night: "Biden was again imperfect from a fact check perspective. He made at least a few false, misleading, or lacking-in-context claims. Trump was, as usual, a serial liar," adding: "From a lying perspective, Trump is even worse tonight than in the first debate."

For our part, along with a bit of fact-checking, among the many issues we cover on today's program...

  • Eskow offers insight --- as a former health insurance industry executive and Bernie Sanders 2016 campaign writer --- on the facts about both Biden and Trump's plans for healthcare coverage amid the worsening pandemic and a threat by the GOP's stolen U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the Affordable Care Act just days after the election. ("He keeps saying that 'my plan is that I'm going to have a plan.'");
  • Parton, no stranger to deep dives into wingnut rabbit holes, helpfully decodes Trump's ginned-up Fox "News"-fueled "scandals" regarding Biden's family. ("This is about harassing Biden once he's elected. This isn't really about the election. Trump doesn't know that.")
  • And Desi helps us make sense of Biden's newsworthy dose of reality offered near the end of the debate that, yes, we will have to transition away from oil and other fossil fuels, toward renewable, job-creating, emissions-free alternatives in the very near future...if we hope to survive on this planet.

You may also wish to buckle up for a bit of a scary ending today, as all three offer their thoughts to voters who may be under the impression that Biden has this wrapped up, and as Desi sagely warns: "The margin of victory [for Biden] must be greater than the margin of theft, suppression, and litigation." And that's not even the scary part!

Anyway, that's a tiny sample of today's offerings, during which you'll laugh, cry, and maybe even go to bed with nightmares. You're welcome! Please enjoy today's special coverage on The BradCast!...

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

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Guest host Nicole Sandler with author, journalist Thomas Frank...
By Nicole Sandler on 8/14/2020 4:59pm PT  

It’s NICOLE SANDLER back behind the guest host’s microphone today for a special edition of the BradCast. [Audio link is posted below.]

It's special because I'm joined by one of my favorite guests of all time. THOMAS FRANK is the author of many books, essential reads for anyone who cares about the future of our country and certainly for those with a progressive point of view. What’s the Matter with Kansas?, Pity the Billionaire, Listen, Liberal and The Wrecking Crew are just a few.

Frank's new book is The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism. He gives us the fascinating story behind the populist movement and how the two sides flipped. And he bemoans our lost opportunities to harness the populist power when it was so close so recently...

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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Plus 'back to school' with listener calls, as it all goes from bad to worse...
By Brad Friedman on 8/10/2020 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: This is not a drill. In my nearly-two decades of covering elections, I've never been as concerned about attempts to undermine an election than I now am regarding this year's Presidential election on November 3rd. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Last Friday's BradCast interview with American Postal Worker Union President Mark Dimondstein, regarding the mandates by Louis DeJoy, Trump's newly-appointed Postmaster General, to slow down the mail "everywhere" --- and DeJoy's Friday Night Massacre that took place moments after we got off air --- are just some of the huge reasons for my concern. Please make sure that you are prepared, well in advance, for this year's election, and that you know how to not only receive a Vote-by-Mail ballot, as necessary for many due to the pandemic, but that you know what the deadlines are for registering to vote, requesting a VBM ballot, and where and how to drop it off IN PERSON, so your ballot doesn't get lost in Trump's USPS slowdown. Once you've learned all of that, please make sure everyone you know does the same. Ernie Canning has written a helpful article at Bradblog.com with some important related tips, and 2020VotersCalendar.org is a very helpful new website resource with specific information along these lines for voters in each of the 50 states.

Over the weekend, Puerto Rico's primary was a disaster, as ballots did not arrive at all --- or far too late for many to vote --- in 50 out of 110 voting centers across the island. A second make-up election is now being planned, hopefully, for next Sunday. If something like that happens on November 3rd, of course, all may be lost.

In the meantime, just days after Donald Trump falsely claimed that children were "almost immune" to the coronavirus, a new report finds that nearly 100,000 children in the US tested positive for it in just the last two weeks of July alone. That's a 40% increase in child coronavirus cases during those two weeks in the U.s. jurisdictions researchers examined. At least 86 children have died from COVID-19 since May, the report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association also finds, including a 7-year old with no pre-existing conditions in Georgia last week.

This coincides with the mind-boggling push by Trump to reopen schools for in-person classes immediately, as a number of states run by Trumpy Governors press forward with plans to do so. One such state is Georgia, where some schools opened for the new term already last week and saw photos of crowded hallways and maskless children go viral on social media almost immediately (before suspending the student who posted them). Now that same school is returning to distance learning this week after six students and three staff members at the school tested positive. Other school districts in the state reported even worse numbers.

In Florida, where two teenagers have died so far this month, at least 12 counties are reopening schools this week, more than 17% of tests are now coming back positive. The CDC recommends schools only reopen where the positive test rate is lower than 5%, yet at least 9 of the 12 school districts planning to open in the Sunshine State are currently seeing rates much higher than that. That, as nearly 165,000 are confirmed to have died from COVID in the U.S. and new data from the CDC finds 200,000 more deaths since mid-March than would normally be expected at this time of year, based on recent trends before the pandemic.

As bad as its all getting, the White House appears unwilling to compromise with Democrats on a new COVID emergency relief bill, despite tens of millions of Americans who saw their expanded federal unemployment benefits from an earlier relief bill expire at the end of July. In response, rather than negotiate or demonstrate the art of his pretend deal-making prowess, Trump spent the weekend playing golf and signed one Executive Order and three Executive Memos that pretend to do a whole bunch of stuff that they actually don't and are most likely unconstitutional to boot. One of his executive actions, to temporarily defer payroll taxes for those who are working (the taxes will have to paid at the end of the year instead), would actually cut funding to Social Security and Medicare. Another would take money from FEMA to restore some of the expanded unemployment benefits, but slash them by a third, prevent them from being paid to the lowest-income earners, and require cash-strapped states pay 25% percent of the expanded payments.

Yet, there is no effort in his executive actions to bailout states and cities who are now completely out of money due to their COVID-related crash in revenues. Many couldn't help fund the expanded unemployment even if they wanted to. Similarly, there is no effort to fund the Post Office with the $25 billion that its GOP-dominated Board of Governors has requested to keep the USPS running. And no effort to give $4 billion to election officials around the country to help upgrade their systems to help manage the huge influx of absentee voting due to COVID or even to help make in-person voting safer, as election officials across the country have long sought.

In short, the weekend's news was terrible and the news ahead is likely to get nothing but worse for a while. But we thought you should know it, since the President of the United States --- who said his executive actions this weekend "will take care of pretty much this entire situation, as we know it" --- continues lying to the nation in hopes that it will somehow help him get reelected. It won't. But stealing the election remains completely on the table and actively under way.

Finally, we open up the phones to callers on all of the above. And, though I specifically asked several times, I couldn't seem to find one listener willing to call in and explain why they would be happy to send their kids back to in-person classes right now. Go figure.

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

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Also: Trump is in for big legal trouble in NY too; Economy heading over a cliff as White House, Congressional Republicans dither...
By Brad Friedman on 8/6/2020 6:41pm PT  

Michelle Obama says that quarantine, racial strife and the "day in and day out" "hypocrisy" of the Trump Administration has left her wrestling with "low-grade depression". We know the feeling and suspect you do as well. But, as we noted almost four years ago here on the BradCast, we're all going through this nightmare together. We said we'd be here with you throughout, and we still are. And we will come through this together. [Audio link to show is posted below the following summary.]

All of our stories today are today's top story. And we couldn't even get to all of them. But we tried. Among those stories...

  • Ohio's Republican Governor Mike DeWine tested positive today for the coronavirus just minutes before he was to meet with the President. Lucky for him --- and the President --- that everyone who meets with Donald Trump must be tested first. If we were all only as lucky as the President; Trump was in Ohio today to sing the praises of the "economic prosperity" his Administration has brought to the nation (and attend a fund raiser for his reelection). [UPDATE POST-SHOW, 7:49p PT: A more sensitive test finds DeWine negative for COVID-19 after all!]

  • That "economic prosperity", according to the Labor Department today, includes another 1.2 million Americans who newly filed for unemployment last week. It was the 20th straight week with more than one million new jobless claims. Before the pandemic, the all time highest number of weekly jobless claims was 695,000. More than 31 million Americans are now out of work as they enjoy Trump's "economic prosperity" as the GDP fell a record annualized rate of nearly 33% in the second quarter. It took three years of the Great Depression before we even got close to an annualized negative 30%. During the Great Recession, we only ever topped out at about negative 8%. Other than that, how about all that "economic prosperity" thanks to Donald Trump?!;
  • As bad as things are, they are likely to get much MUCH worse, unless Republicans in Congress and at the White House get their act together and quickly. The $600/week expanded unemployment payments from an earlier COVID emergency relief bill for those 30 million or so unemployed Americans has now expired. The moratorium on evictions has also ended. But Republicans and the White House are still unable to put together a new relief package that can pass Congress. Democrats in the House already adopted a $3 trillion package to extend unemployment, the eviction moratorium, and give hundreds of billions to cash-strapped states, cities and hospitals, not to mention the U.S. Postal Service months ago. Tens of thousands of deaths later, however, we're still waiting on the GOP and the Administration to take action. How many will be homeless, starving or dead before they do?;
  • In some brighter news --- at least for those who weren't suckers enough to donate money to the con-artists at the terrorist-supporting National Rifle Association --- New York state's Attorney General Letitia James sued the NRA on Thursday, charging massive financial fraud by its leaders and seeking to dissolve the once-powerful, now wholly corrupt 150-year old organization. James' civil suit details a gobsmacking amount of corruption and unlawful self-dealing by the NRA's leader Wayne LaPierre (pictured above) and four other top officials. It alleges the "non-profit's" executives diverted tens of millions of dollars to themselves for lavish personal vacations and other personal expenses, no-show contracts for associates --- including family members and girlfriends --- and even secret contracts created for themselves. LaPierre is alleged to have hidden millions of dollars in personal income from the IRS in the bargain. James is seeking to shutdown the organization's charter as a non-profit organization established in New York, and to bar the executives for life from holding any major role in any charitable organization. Donald Trump said today that he thinks the matter is "a very terrible thing"...for the NRA, an ally of his, as opposed to the millions of Americans who have been ripped off by rightwing political group of grifters;
  • But James' announcement today may just be a preview of wait awaits Trump himself (along with his associates and family members) down the road. While James already shut down Trump's own so-called "charitable" organization for similar fraud and self dealing, and the President was forced to cough up $25 million dollars just after his 2016 election to settle fraud complaints against his "Trump University" scam, the worst may still be ahead him. The New York Times revealed on Wednesday night that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. successfully subpoenaed Deutsche Bank last year --- one of the only banks willing to loan him money --- for years of financial documents from the Trump Organization. Trump had sued both Deutsche Bank and his accounting firm Mazars USA to prevent them from turning over financial records in response to subpoenas from Congress, and sued Mazars to prevent them from giving similar tax-related statements to Vance --- successfully stalling the prosecutor, who now has clearance from SCOTUS to pursue that subpoena. But Trump apparently failed to prevent Deutsche Bank, which loaned him some $2 billion over the years, from responding to the subpoena from Vance. The documents now reportedly in the DA's possession are believed to reveal that Trump vastly and fraudulently over-inflated his personal assets (we know, doesn't sound like him at all, right?) Last week, Vance argued before a federal court that Trump's tax records were needed from Mazars as part of his investigation into public reports of "extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization." Given that we have now learned Vance already has many of Trump's financial documents from the German bank, it sounds like the District Attorney knows exactly what he expects to find in the rest of the documents he is seeking;
  • Finally today, after some quick and disturbing news from NOAA about this year's already-record Atlantic Hurricane season on what we are now likely to see over the next four months as it continues, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report. It, too, is chock full of quick and disturbing news....but also some very encouraging news here and there and wherever else we can find it...

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Guest: CLC's Brendan Fischer on an extraordinary new Trump grift; Also: Stop cowering at and covering his wannabe dictatorial tweets!...
By Brad Friedman on 7/31/2020 6:06pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the grifts continue --- huge new ones that few yet know about --- but too many are focused on Donald Trump's latest distractions to notice. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today: Please stop taking Trump's bait. His tweet on Thursday suggesting the postponement of the November election was little more than an attempt to distract from the day's very real news, including the horrific numbers from the Commerce Department (finding that the U.S. economy had plunged a record, unprecedented, staggering annualized 33% in the second quarter.). It worked. Media fell for it, and so did you, even though the President of the United States has no power to change the date of the Presidential election. The tweet not only helped to flip the entire day's news cycle, it also further terrorized the nation and helped to reinforce his desperate narrative that the 2020 election will be "the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history."

Democrats need to stop cowering in fear at Trump's wannabe dictatorial pronouncements. As Josh Marshall correctly wrote in response, "I understand everyone is afraid. But this is loser talk." The anti-Trump Republicans at the Lincoln Project ain't buying it. And the co-founder of the far-right Federalist Society has called for Trump's immediate impeachment because of it. Media need to learn to stop allowing Trump to hijack the news cycle and Americans need to learn to stop cowering in fear of Trump, despite his only actual talent: masterfully tricking both you and the media into falling for his pathetic manipulation.

Next up, the powerful Republican Speaker of the House, Larry Householder, who was arrested and charged last week by federal prosecutors in a massive, $60 million bribery, money laundering and racketeering scheme, has now been removed from the Speaker position in a unanimous bipartisan vote of the Buckeye State's House of Representatives. Householder and four others (including a senior aide, a former state GOP chair, and two top energy industry lobbyists) were charged in a racketeering scheme funded by FirstEnergy. The scheme was used to force a wildly unpopular bill through the state legislature last year that raised electricity bills on Ohio ratepayers to bail out two failing, hyper-polluting coal plants and two failing nuclear plants, while gutting the state's successful renewable energy and efficiency programs.

Despite the felony charges and lost speakership, Householder has yet to resign, the corrupt $1.5 billion House Bill 6 is still on the books, and Ohio's Republican Governor, Mike DeWine, who quickly signed the measure, still has some explaining to do. But while that scheme, described by federal prosecutors last week as the "the largest bribery, money laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people of the state of Ohio," allegedly netted Householder some $60 million in bribes from FirstEnergy, laundered through a non-profit front group, it may pale in comparison to what one good government group now charges the Trump reelection campaign is doing.

Earlier this week, the non-partisan watchdog Campaign Legal Center (CLC), headed up by a former Republican Chair of the Federal Elections Commission, filed a new complaint with the FEC charging that the Trump Campaign and a joint fundraising committee is violating federal law by "laundering" nearly $170 million in campaign spending through firms headed up by Trump's former campaign manager, Brad Parscale (pictured above). The money, according to my guest today, CLC's Director of Federal Reform, BRENDAN FISCHER, is secretly being funneled to Trump associates and even family members.

"We've never seen anything like this. The scope and scale of this secrecy scheme is unprecedented," Fischer says, explaining how tens of millions of dollars in campaign ad buys and other large campaign expenses are all being run through two companies created by Parscale. One is called American Made Media and the other is Parscale Strategies. The campaign has claimed the companies are being used to save money by cutting out middle-man vendors, but CLC has discovered that the companies are being used as pass-throughs, and that sub-contracted vendors are making ad buys on behalf of the Trump Campaign anyway. Moreover, those vendors are not being disclosed, as required by campaign finance law, on the Campaign's financial disclosure forms. That, as Fischer tells me, means that payments are being hidden for campaign work, including potentially millions of dollars siphoned to groups with whom it is unlawful for the Campaign to coordinate efforts, and even to Trump associates and family members like Lara Trump (Eric Trump's wife) and former Fox "News" host Kimberly Guilfoyle (Donald Trump Jr.'s girlfriend).

"These two Parscale firms are being used only as pass-throughs to disguise the ultimate recipients of the money," Fischer and the CLC complaint alleging civil violations of campaign finance laws charge. "If the Trump Campaign gets away with this, it's just going to become a common practice. It's going to get replicated by campaigns, both Democrat and Republican, to disguise all of their political spending," he warns, adding that "if there was evidence that the violation was knowing and willful, there potentially could be criminal penalties."

Fischer offers many more details on what CLC knows and, due to the purposeful obfuscation through campaign finance records, what they still don't know, but hope that FEC investigators will be able to find out. We also discuss the dysfunction of the impossibly broken FEC and how that may affect action on this new and very serious complaint.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report on Trump's visit to Texas to help sell dirty oil while undermining the state's growing wind industry and lying about Joe Biden. Also, we cover the latest storm now barreling towards Florida as this year's record Hurricane Season continues and those "mystery seeds" that many are reporting as showing up in the mail from China...

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Guest: David Dayen on Wednesday's 'incredible' anti-trust hearing in the House and new book 'Monopolized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power'; Also: Herman Cain dies of COVID; Trump tries to distract from newly disastrous economic numbers; Rep. Lewis laid to rest...
By Brad Friedman on 7/30/2020 7:01pm PT  

The day began with a middle of the night earthquake here in Los Angeles. It was the least turbulent part of the day. We open with some grim news on today's BradCast before moving on to some shockingly encouraging news out of....wait for it....Congress of all places! [Audio link to full show is posted at end of summary.]

First up today, former Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain succumbed to the coronavirus. As co-chair of Black Voices for Trump, the 74-year old Cain attended Donald Trump's controversial mask-free rally in Tulsa on June 20. By July 2nd he was hospitalized with COVID-19 and now dead a month later. He wasn't the only high profile Republican to pass away from the coronavirus today. Bill Montgomery also died. He was the 80-year old co-founder of the rightwing "student group" (yes, a GOP student group founded by an 80-year old!) called Turning Point USA. The organization hosted Trump's second, similarly mask-free rally after Tulsa in Phoenix. Despite claims by both Cain and Montgomery's group that hydroxychloroquine was "100% effective" in treating coronavirus, turns out, as the FDA has emphasized, it isn't.

Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis was finally laid to rest on Thursday in Atlanta, where he was eulogized by three former Presidents. Trump did not attend after also failing to pay his respects while Lewis lay in state at the U.S. Capitol earlier this week. President Obama, however, offered stirring remarks in memoriam, calling for the expansion of voting rights which Lewis spent a lifetime --- and no small amount of blood --- fighting for.

The former President's remarks came shortly after our current President feebly suggested on Twitter that the November election should be delayed "until people can properly, securely and safely vote," charging that "2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history" due to the use of mail-in ballots needed to counteract the dangers of in-person voting during the pandemic that Trump utterly failed to control. That controversial call for delaying the election --- immediately and universally rejected by Republicans and Democrats alike --- was largely to a) further propagandize Trump's supporters into believing the November election results will be illegitimate and, more immediately, b) distract from the horrific economy news released by the federal government just minutes before Trump's tweet.

The news he was hoping to distract from: The U.S. economy plunged a staggering, unprecedented, annualized 32.9% in the second quarter of this year. By way of comparison, it took three years before the economy fell 30% during the Great Depression. This has happened in months, as another 1.4 million workers filed for new unemployment claims last week. It was the 19th week in a row of record-shattering 1 million plus applicants, leaving some 30 million Americans now jobless, as Republicans in Congress have failed to extend the expanded unemployment payments from he CARES Act. Those benefits have expired as of this week, and neither Congressional Republicans nor the White House appear to have an acceptable plan to replace them. House Democrats passed their own $3 trillion HEROES Act several months ago to continue those payments and much more critical relief to workers, states and cities, hospitals, homeowners, the U.S. Post Office and many others through the end of the year. Republicans appear to be in stultifying disarray.

But there is some good news today and, believe it or not, it comes out of Congress! The U.S. House Antitrust Subcommittee on Wednesday held a five-hour hearing on Big Tech monopolies, featuring the CEOs of Amazon (Jeff Bezos), Apple (Tim Cook), Google (Sundar Pichai) and Facebook (Mark Zuckerberg) as witnesses. All of them were grilled by Democrats and, yes, even Republicans alike for years of runaway, anti-competitive business practices. Progressive Matt Stoller's coverage of the hearing at The Guardian was headlined "Congress forced Silicon Valley to answer for its misdeeds. It was a glorious sight." Our guest today, DAVID DAYEN, author, investigative financial journalist and Executive Editor of the progressive American Prospect, filed a piece with the exhuberant hed: "The Triumphant Return of Congress," following up his 175-tweet live thread from his Wednesday coverage.

Dayen tells me today that it was "probably the most consequential hearing on corporate power in decades," where one CEO after another was called on the carpet to answer for years of crushing, anti-competitive practices in their sectors. He reports that the "members of that subcommittee," headed up by Democratic Chair David Cicilline of Rhode Island, "knew exactly what they wanted to talk about. They knew who they wanted to target. This is the culmination of a year-long investigation and these members had an incredible amount of knowledge about the harms that these four large corporations have been causing through the exertion of their power."

"They really extracted confessions from Bezos and Zuckerberg and others about the practices they engage in which really are illegal," he says. The hearing couldn't have been better timed for Dayen, coming just a week or so after the publication of his new book Monoplized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power documenting the breathtaking reach of unchecked corporate mergers and consolidation over the past four decades. He explains on today's show, as he does in the book, how century old anti-trust laws were turned on their head during the Reagan Administration, when a theory promoting the idea that monopolies are actually good for consumers was advanced by one Robert Bork. The theory would eventually prove untrue by its own standards. It was not good for consumers and, Dayen describes, failed to take into account the damage that anti-competitive practices actually wrought on small business, employees and the supply chain itself --- leading directly to some of the dangerous consequences and ridiculous shortages we've seen during the COVID crisis in everything from toilet paper to critical medical supplies and personal protective equipment.

"This hearing was a complete indictment of the Federal Trade Commission and the anti-trust division of the Justice Department, who had access to all this information that the subcommittee had. They had all of these documents. They had all of the ability to conduct an investigation. In fact, it's their job to do so," Dayen observes. "They did not do that, and waved through merger after merger after merger, and the people who had that authority, under Democratic administrations and Republican administrations, who were responsible for this failure should not be listened to again, and they should not hold power again."

Dayen is hopeful that Wednesday's hearing may actually spur action --- grant permission, if you will --- to the FTC and DOJ to start upholding those unenforced anti-trust and anti-monopoly laws and regulations that remain on the books. "The only way that gets done is that the momentum from this hearing is built, where a popular movement to understand and work against the power of monopolies is what is going to carry us forward. It has in the past. That's how we got these laws in the first place, because people demanded the political system respond, and it's how we're going to get them now."

I should note here that I make a personal cameo appearance in Dayen's new book (beginning on page 85, if you must know) discussing my own personal experience with the anti-competitive monopoly practices in the media industry, and how the unchecked "sale" of our public airwaves to a handful of mega-media corporations has led directly to all of the various disasters --- political, economic, societal and, yes, medical --- that are now rending apart our very republic.

Dayen, whose indispensable daily "Unsanitized" column at The American Prospect chronicles the continuing eroding state of our national battle with the global coronavirus pandemic and its ever-worsening toll on our economy, closes by bringing us up to date on the disastrous Republican effort to craft a new emergency relief bill in Congress, as expanded unemployment benefits expire and the U.S. Postal Service faces implosion just months away from the largest vote-by-mail election in the nation's history...

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On safeguarding the 2020 election and worsening economic inequailty...
By Desi Doyen on 7/24/2020 3:33pm 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 --- or just need to hear again. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

  • Then, Brad's conversation on 6/12/2020 with voting rights journalist and author ARI BERMAN of Mother Jones, on the fight against Republicans' new surge of voter suppression during the coronavirus pandemic and steps we can take to prevent a stolen election this November.

We'll be back soon!

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RNC cancelled in FL; Another COVID breakout at White House; FL Guv wobbles on school reopening; Jobless claims continue to break records; Congressional GOP in disarray over emergency relief; Trump's federal storm troopers tear gas Portland mayor; And too much more!...
By Brad Friedman on 7/23/2020 6:47pm PT  

It was some weeks ago that we warned listeners to "buckle up" for what was to come over the next several month in the lead up to Election Day (and for whatever nightmares are likely to come thereafter). Today's BradCast provides ample evidence that we were right to issue that warning --- which remains in effect for the foreseeable future. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

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

  • Breaking at top of show - Trump cancels plans for Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, Florida due to out-of-control coronavirus surge in the Sunshine State. That, after previously moving the convention from Charlotte, North Carolina because the state's Democratic Governor wouldn't allow a maskless deathtrap convention;
  • Federal Judge orders former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to be released from prison, citing "retaliation" by the federal government after he was removed from home detention and locked back up for refusing to sign a document vowing he wouldn't write a book or speak to the media about Trump. Cohen had previously been furloughed from prison and placed into home detention after one year of his three year sentence for lying to Congress to protect Donald Trump and participating in a hush-money conspiracy "directed" by the President, according to both him and federal prosecutors. Trump remains uncharged and at large despite running the conspiracy Cohen was imprisoned for in paying off porn star Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal to keep quiet before the 2016 election sexual affairs with Trump. The judge excoriated the DoJ and Bureau of Prisons for violating Cohen's First Amendment right to free speech;
  • Trump sycophant and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis finally begins to wobble on his demand that schools in the state reopen next month for five days a week in-person classes, despite explosion of coronavirus cases. Tells Fox "News" that parents should have the "option" of sending kids to class, but offers no such "option" to teachers, whose union is now suing DeSantis;
  • Republicans are in disarray in Congress and at the White House after denying (for months) the need for additional emergency economic relief amid the pandemic. That, as expanded unemployment benefits --- one of the few actions taken by Congress that has successfully helped to avoid a complete economic collapse over the past 6 months --- are set to run out at week's end;
  • Breaking mid-show - New Fox "News" poll finds Joe Biden leading Trump, beyond the margin of error, in the key battleground states of Michigan (by 9 points) , Minnesota (by 13 points) and Pennsylvania (by 11 points);
  • Portland, Oregon Mayor Ted Wheeler was among those tear-gassed by Donald Trump's federal stormtroopers on Wednesday night. The Mayor, whose local police force had previously tear-gassed protesters who have been gathering nightly for more than a month following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, now claims to be rethinking his own tactics while decrying "flat out urban warfare, being brought on the people of this country by the President of the United States";
  • In response to the violence being perpetrated by Trump's federal goon squad, John McCain's former Campaign Manager and longtime Republican campaign consultant Steve Schmidt unleashes a Twitter thread calling for Congressional investigations, cites Trump's use of the military against phony threats by "caravans" at the U.S. southern border before the 2018 election, and compares Trump's tactics, applauded by rightwing media, to those of Hitler's Nazi brownshirts;
  • Finally, a delightfully light-hearted Green News Report with Desi Doyen! Sort of. Other than a story about cow farts and Burger King, we also highlight the stunning arrest this week of Ohio's Republican House Speaker Larry Householder, nabbed as the ringleader of a $61 million conspiracy to funnel a $150 billion bailout to utility company FirstEnergy to prop up two failing nuclear plants and two aging, hyper-polluting coal plants at the expense of the state's rate-payers and renewable energy and efficiency initiatives in the Buckeye State. In a quick follow-up today, the company's stock price has plunged following the federal arrests this week, but questions remain about the company's own complicity in the scheme and the involvement of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine in last year's passage of HB6, the controversial boondoggle of a bill that resulted in Householder lining his pockets with millions in dark money from FirstEnergy and other utility company interests.

Hopefully your seatbelt is still on and will remain locked and in place until the chaos comes to a complete and full stop...if it ever does...

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Also: Trump's top General apologizes; Confederate monuments fall...
By Brad Friedman on 6/11/2020 7:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Sometimes it's good news when bad news arrives. At least when it's a breath of reality in the Trump Era. [Audio link to today''s show is posted below the summary.]

We've been trying on this program to make some sense in recent weeks of Wall Street's alternative reality, as seen over the past 12 weeks or so while millions of Americans have become unemployed as states ordered shutdowns and business closures while the coronavirus wreaked deadly havoc across the country. The economy has, understandably, tanked in the bargain. But the stock market's major indexes have nonetheless surged some 44.5% between late March and this week. American billionaires, as discussed in detail on a recent show, have seen their fortunes rise by some $565 billion between March 18 and the first week of June, even as the economy has largely ground to halt and entered its worst recession since the Great Depression.

The irrational exuberance of Wall Street has continued week after week, for each of the past twelve, while millions of American have newly filed unemployment claims in record numbers that simply blow away any other downturn in our nation's history beyond the Great Depression. Major companies like Hertz and J.C. Penney are declaring bankruptcy, and yet the marketeers in the Wall Street casino continue to bid up the companies share prices. On Wednesday, the NASDAQ hit its all time high. Not its highest level during the pandemic, but its ALL TIME highest trading price.

It's as if the market and the reality of the economy exist on two entirely different planets. But they don't. That was made clear again today as yet another 1.5 million new jobless claims were reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, leaving anywhere from 20 to 40 million Americans out of work and Congress' expansion of unemployment benefits set to expire at the end of next month.

And yet, as Donald Trump becomes increasingly concerned about his reelection chances, he and his supporters are citing the booming stock market as if it's the same thing as the economy. It decidedly isn't. That reality finally appears to have hit home on Thursday --- at least for now --- as the Dow plunged some 1,800 points along with the other major market indexes which plummeted as well. Traders seem to have finally noticed that the coronavirus can't simply be pretended away. It is not only NOT going away anytime soon, but infections and hospitalizations are currently surging to record highs in at least 21 states on the heels of many of those states --- talking to you Arizona and Texas, among others --- dangerously "reopening" far too early.

Some have (wrongly) dismissed the reported increases in the number of confirmed infections as an byproduct of increased testing. That is not true. The increases of note are in both the percentages of positive tests and in hospitalizations in many areas around the U.S. That disturbing surge comes largely before we begin to see whether the past two weeks or nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd substantively adds to the totals, as some fear.

Ultimately, today's market crash can be seen as "good" news, in that perhaps reality is finally catching up with the markets whose inflated value has helped to prevent Donald Trump and his Republican sycophants in Congress from taking the necessary actions needed to prevent both the economy and the health of the American people from becoming decidedly worse. I've got a rant or two about all of this on today's show.

But there was more heavily-qualified "good" news on Thursday as Trump's Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, Army General Mark Milley, made clear in a video-taped statement, that it was a "mistake" for him to have joined Trump for his obnoxious photo-op last week at St. John's Episcopal Church across from the White House after Trump ordered peaceful protesters violently cleared out of Lafayette Square.

And, in further encouraging news, protesters around the country have begun to take matters into their own hands in removing offensive monuments to Confederate traitors who rebelled against the United States and killed hundreds of thousands in the bargain, in hopes of preserving slavery in "the land of the free". On Wednesday, a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Richmond, VA, the former capital of the Confederacy, was pulled down, as other such statues --- many of them erected decades after the Civil War during the Jim Crow era, as segregationist policies further institutionalized white supremacy in the U.S. --- were defaced, decapitated or destroyed as well. Yes, I've got a thought or two on all of that today as well.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, in which major environmental groups are also taking action towards racial justice within their own organizations in the wake of nationwide protests, and as communities of color continue to be disproportionately harmed by pollution, climate change and other environmental issues. She also has a bit of good news regarding a newly coal-free Britain and some less good news on our latest new plague in the U.S. --- or, at least in Florida: giant toxic toads! Buckle up!

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Surprise! The Peach State's new $104 million, unverifiable touchscreen vote system melts down in its first statewide election; Also: IPS' Chuck Collins on inequality and the 'Wall Street casino' coronavirus jackpot...
By Brad Friedman on 6/9/2020 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Who could have predicted it? Another Election Day meltdown in Georgia? Even with the brand new, $104 million, unverifiable, disease-vector touchscreen voting system the state's Republican Secretary of State forced every voter in the state to use at the polls for the first time during Tuesday's twice-postponed Presidential primary in the critical battleground state? Yup. And what has been happening on Wall Street of late underscores how perilous this moment is, and the need to save the voting system in the battleground Peach State before the critical November 3rd elections. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Yes, as we've been warning for years now, the roll out of Secretary Brad Raffensperger's new computerized voting system would be a disaster for Georgia voters --- at least for those in or near Atlanta in some of the most heavily Democratic, heavily minority counties in the state. Voters reported wait times as long as 2, 3 and 4 hours in precinct after precinct, to cast their votes today --- even those who showed up before 6am in hopes of being first in line!

New computerized electronic poll-books failed. New computerized touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) failed. New optical-scan computers used to scan the unverifiable ballots printed out by the $4,000 electronic pens (BMDs) failed. What didn't fail was Raffensperger's propensity to blame county officials and poll workers who risked their lives to help voters vote during a deadly pandemic for his own failures to implement a simple, verifiable and much less expensive hand-marked paper ballot system.

More disturbing, the outrageous (if predictable) catastrophic failures of his new systems --- featuring touchscreens made by Canada's Dominion Voting Systems --- come even after Raffensperger ordered absentee ballot applications sent to each of the state's 6.9 million active registered voters (whatever "active" means in his assessment) to help mitigate the dangers of COVID-19 on state voters. Many of those in the same counties which saw huge lines at a reduced number of polling places on Tuesday reported never receiving their requested absentee ballots in the mail.

Today, we detail just some of the hundreds of reported nightmares voters faced trying to vote on Tuesday in Fulton, Cobb, Gwinnett, Muscogee and other counties in the Peach State, as voting equipment was missing altogether at some polling places when they opened; as hand-marked paper ballots quickly ran out at precincts where electronic voting systems couldn't be booted up or failed to work properly once they were turned on; as County officials called for official investigations; and as Raffensperger tried to blame it all on everyone but himself. Yes, we have spent many months (in fact, years now) detailing the lawsuits filed against him, as voters (and some counties) begged him to to move to a hand-marked paper ballot system instead.

Then: No, you are not crazy. You are not imagining it. Yes, up is down and down is up right now. Coronavirus infection rates are, indeed, spiking in a whole bunch of states that have opened up for business around the U.S., despite many collectively pretending the nightmare is over. It isn't. But much of the nation, encouraged by Donald Trump and his supporters, is now pretending otherwise. Similarly, on Wall Street, investors are pretending that the economy is great and the worst of the coronavirus pandemic's shock to the U.S. financial system is over. Of course, we now know the economy had already gone into recession as of February, even before the worst of the COVID-19 shutdowns had begun, ending an 11-year economic expansion that started during Barack Obama's administration and ended under Trump's.

But Wall Street is decidedly not the economy, where, back here in the real world, tens of millions of Americans are newly jobless amid the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Nonetheless, on Wall Street, the Nasdaq closed at a record high on Tuesday and both the Dow and S&P 500 indexes have rallied back in recent days to near the record highs they were at before the economy crashed. Billionaires on Wall Street are so drunk with irrational exuberance and flush with decades of sweet sweet tax cut cash that they are even beginning to buy up shares in companies that have filed for bankruptcy amid the crash.

According to the Institute of Policy Study's updated "Billionaire Bonanza 2020" report, between March 18 (roughly the start of the pandemic shutdown), through the fist week of June, "U.S. billionaire's total wealth surged by over $565 billion," even as 42.6 million U.S. workers filed for unemployment. What explains the obscene inequality between the billionaire oligarch class and all of the rest of us?

We're joined today by CHUCK COLLINS, co-author of the IPS study as Director of their Program on Inequality and the Common Good, where he co-edits Inequality.org, to explain what happened and how we can --- and must --- begin to correct the absurd, decades-long and still-growing imbalances in our economy.

"Only 14% of Americans have direct investments in stock," Collins explains. "So this tells us the story of how the top ten percent --- and in this case, how the billionaires --- are seeing their wealth surge during an unfortunate time for everyone else."

"We're now at the culmination of four decades of growing income and wealth inequality. As we went into the pandemic, we were at maybe our greatest unequal level since the Gilded Age. And the reality is, since 2009, only about 20 percent of households have recovered where they were in terms of savings and net worth prior to the Great Recession of 2008. So, think about that --- 80 percent of households went into the pandemic with an economic hangover, still not really fully back on their feet in the last eleven years. This recession and pandemic are going to supercharge the existing income and wealth inequalities that we are already living through."

Collins charges that "we're just absorbing now the pre-existing condition of extreme inequality in America," while reminding us that America did manage to "reverse the first Gilded Age" about 100 years ago. But, he cautions, "It required the fight of our lives. And that's what we're heading into."

As you might suspect, the solutions begin (though do not end) at the ballot box. But, he says, as he details a number of programs that could reverse our current Gilded Age, "the pressure is building" and "people understand the rich have been gaming the system." But, the reversal will not come easily, as "we're living in an oligarchy where the rich use their wealth and power to get more wealth and power."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as the 2020 hurricane season is already breaking records; as the Trump Administration is using coronavirus Shock Doctrine politics to roll back tons of public health and endangered species protections while few are noticing; and as record warmth in May has resulted in a catastrophic oil spill on the melting permafrost in Siberia...

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Guest: The Prospect's David Dayen; Also: PA Repubs kept COVID infection a secret from Dems; Absentee ballot applications for all in WI...
By Brad Friedman on 5/28/2020 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast, it's concierge service from the Fed for Wall Street during the crisis, as American workers are left fighting for table scraps to stay alive. Again. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of summary.]

New weekly unemployment numbers out on Thursday from the U.S. Dept. of Labor suggest that while new jobless claims are beginning to slow, they are still coming in each week at all-time record numbers. Another 2.1 million Americans filed new claims last week, bringing the number of unemployed to Great Depression era levels of nearly 41 million Americans out of work. Another way to look at it is that a staggering one in four working Americans has filed for unemployment over the past 10 weeks since the COVID-19 crisis began in earnest in the U.S. Those official government numbers [PDF], however, are still lower than the real unemployment numbers, as millions are believed still stuck in line or having trouble getting through to still-overburdened state unemployment offices.

"A closer depiction of reality in the crisis," our guest DAVID DAYEN of The American Prospect, reports today, is a recent Census Bureau survey finding "that nearly half of all households have lost income" since the crisis struck in mid-March. At the very same time, however, as jobs are still disappearing and S&P 500 companies report an average 13% loss in profits during the first quarter of the year, the stock market has been soaring of late. Even with today's record jobless numbers, the market continued to rise (though it dropped a bit just before today's close) with the Dow up over 1,000 points in the past three days and the S&P 500 reporting record gains over the past month.

Another study cited by Dayen today comes from the Institute for Policy Studies, finding that "since March 18, as 100,000 died from COVID-19 and 40 million lost their jobs, billionaires in America have added $485 billion in wealth." Must be nice. So why is this happening? Why does the economy appear to be tanking everywhere except for on Wall Street?

Dayen, who, in his daily "Unsanitized" columns at The Prospect has been reporting for weeks on the "$4.5 trillion money cannon" unleashed by the Federal Reserve, with the approval of Congress in the CARES Act. He explains how that relief bill gave the go-ahead for the Fed to signal in late March, for the first time in history, that they will backstop corporate debt for huge companies. Without spending a dime, the signal the Fed gave on March 23rd is that investors didn't have to worry about about any risk associated with buying bonds from those companies. The Fed would back them up in the event the companies failed. So, as Dayen detailed this week, troubled firms like Carnival Cruise Lines, which is unable to make a penny now in the cruise line business, and Boeing, which was already in trouble before the coronavirus crisis began, are still raking in tens of millions (even billions) of dollars in the bargain. And, since the funding is coming from private equity firms and hedge funds (as guaranteed by the federal government), that "mothers milk", as Dayen describes it, is coming with no strings attached, unlike direct loans from the Government's CARES Act might have. That means, he says, that at least 49 major companies have brought in enormous sums of money during the crisis this way, even as they've laid off tens of thousands of workers at the very same time while using their windfall of cheap money to pay executive bonuses and purchase stock buybacks as working class American suffer in a way they haven't since the Great Depression.

"What idiot would send money to Carnival Cruise lines right now?," Dayen quips, before explaining how the Fed's announcement gave the go ahead to private equity firms to invest in the company anyway. "What they're saying is 'We're going to support the entire market'. ... They're essentially saying to investors, we will take care of you, we will do whatever it takes. The markets take that as a signal that they're going to be coddled, they're going to be protected, and that's all it takes."

This was all done with the approval of both parties in Congress, even as some Dems are now beginning to regret giving no-string attached approval to Donald Trump's Treasury Dept./Federal Reserve money cannon. "When you defer to the Fed as your main policy-making engine in the country, you're going to get disproportionate responses, because the Fed deals with banks and they deal with large corporations. And that's who is going to get the relief. Not the average person on the street."

"When ordinary people, 40 million strong, have to go on to the unemployment lines, they get limited, temporary relief that will probably go away very soon, and they struggle to obtain food and figure out how to maintain their shelter," Dayen explains. "The problem is not that large companies got a bailout from something that wasn't of their own making --- the coronavirus crisis --- the problem is that there's one system for elite investors and large corporations and one system for everybody else."

How long can this last? Dayen discusses that as well, as states and municipalities around the country are themselves facing massive revenue shortages and fiscal year budget deadlines by July 1 in many cases. Without Congress enacting another relief bill for those states and municipalities, critical local services will soon be slashed. Cops, firefighters, teachers, and even medical workers will be laid off amid the continuing global pandemic, gutting revenue to those states even further. Democrats in the House have already passed a $3 trillion bill to help out state and local governments. Republicans in the Senate, however, have said they are in no rush to take any further action for now.

We also discuss the unimaginable politicization of this pandemic, where even the idea that measures to keep Americans alive has now become a political hot potato just five months before the crucial November elections.

That unimaginable politicization is now on full display in Pennsylvania, where a Republican state lawmaker disclosed on Wednesday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. While he had known for at least ten days, he told only his Republican colleagues in the House. Democrats were left in the dark, even as GOPers in the gerrymandered House demanded in-person committee hearings where Dems were unknowingly put in contact with colleagues who had been in contact with the infected Rep and didn't even bother to wear masks during hearings demanding the reopening of businesses in the state. One Democratic Representative from Philadelphia unleashed a tirade during a Facebook Live video Wednesday night (which we share on today's show), calling on the GOP Speaker of the House to resign and for the state Attorney General to consider prosecution of those members who endangered the others along with their families. All of which underscores, yet again, the importance of the upcoming election and the reckoning that should come with it.

To that end, we've got some good news out of the state of Wisconsin (for a change), where the bi-partisan state Election Commission voted unanimously on Wednesday to send absentee ballot applications to all of the Badger State's 2.7 million registered voters before the November election. That, in hopes of avoiding the nightmarish consequences of the state's April 7th primary when GOP state lawmakers refused to agree to the Democratic Governor's attempt to postpone the election or extend absentee balloting to keep residents safe during the crisis. So, will Donald Trump threaten to cut off funding to WI as he did last week when Michigan announced their intention to also sent absentee ballot applications to all registered voters? Stay tuned.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report with troubling predictions from NOAA for hurricane season; the plague of locusts spreading from Africa to India; New York and New Jersey reject a proposal for a new fracked-gas pipeline; and a new $14 million ad campaign ties Trump's deadly coronavirus denial to his long-standing deadly denial of our climate crisis...

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Also: Ernest A. Canning on GOP's CA Vote-by-Mail ballot lawsuit; Federal judge guts FL Republicans' newest voter suppression law...
By Brad Friedman on 5/26/2020 6:47pm PT  

On today's BradCast: As the U.S. crossed the 100,000 coronavirus death Rubicon over Memorial Day weekend, the President of the United States played golf. Twice. And called a potential Democratic Vice Presidential nominee fat. And a former Secretary of State and Democratic Presidential nominee a "skank". He also suggested a popular TV host murdered someone. And he lied again (and again) about absentee voting fraud (even though he committed it himself.) The Presidential election is 161 days away. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Before we get there, however, former CDC Director Tom Frieden said this weekend, "It's 100,000, but it looks like we're still at the beginning of this pandemic." He is not alone. According to the Imperial College London, the U.S. could see another 200,000 dead on top of those who have died already from COVID-19, thanks to the President's desperately premature push to reopen the nation's economy. That, while Trump is ignoring the first 100,000 dead, even though, as the New York Times observes:

"More Americans have died of the coronavirus in the last 12 weeks than died in the Vietnam and Korean Wars combined and nearly twice as many as died of battle wounds during World War I. The death toll has nearly matched the number of people killed by the initial blasts of the world’s first atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In terms of American deaths, it is the equivalent of 22 Iraq wars, 33 Sept. 11 attacks, 41 Afghanistan wars, 42 Pearl Harbors or 25,000 Benghazis."

At the same time, despite the Republicans' attempt to pretend the viral pandemic away, without very quick action by the Republicans who control the U.S. Senate to prevent massive layoffs at the state and local level, we could be looking squarely at a second Great Depression before year's end, The American Prospect's David Dayen reports today with very good evidence in support.

Other than all of that, we hope you had a delightful holiday weekend!

Speaking of that Presidential election (did we mention it's just 161 days away? --- but who's counting?), we have some very good news from Florida today to counter the grim news with which we felt it necessary to open today's program. A federal judge has nixed the voter suppression law enacted by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state's GOP-controlled legislature. The law was adopted to gut the state Constitutional Amendment passed by 65% of FL voters in 2018 to allow most former felons to register to vote after having completed "all terms of their sentence including probation and parole."

Amendment 4 ended the state's shameful lifetime ban on voting rights for former felons. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, following an eight-day trial earlier in Spring, declared the GOP's new Jim Crow law --- enacted to upend Amendment 4 --- to be an unconstitutional poll tax, as the law mandated the payment of all fines and fees before former felons would be allowed to register to vote, whether they could afford the payments or not. Moreover, the state keeps no database of such fines and fees, so many former felons had no idea if they owed money or not. Because of that, many declined to register to vote for fear of being charged with perjury when attesting that they had they had "completed all terms" of their sentence on the voter registration application.

Despite that very good news, we suspect the roller coaster battle by the Florida GOP to prevent as many as 1.5 million new voters in the crucial battleground state --- including about a quarter of the its African-American male voting age population --- from getting their voting rights back will continue.

Of course, the GOP War on Democracy is happening all over the country right now. We close today's show with a new front opened in that war over the weekend by the Republican National Committee and former GOP Congressman-turned-candidate-again Darrell Issa. They filed a federal lawsuit alleging that California Gov. Gavin Newsom's May 8 order to send absentee ballots to all registered voters in the state for the November election is in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Yes, it even sounds absurd on its face, but longtime BRAD BLOG legal analyst ERNEST A. CANNING joins us today to explain exactly why the complaint is even more ridiculous than it sounds and the two big reasons why he believes it is likely to be "dismissed at the district court level". Whether that dismissal will be upheld by the GOP's stolen majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, should Republicans push it that far (and why wouldn't they?), is a separate question. Tune in for Canning's thoughts on that and much more...

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

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* 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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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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