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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, June 29, 2022
JAN. 6 HEARINGS (Day 6): Meadows' Top WH Aide Offers Insider Trump Bombshell After Bombshell: 'BradCast' 6/28/22
Cassidy Hutchinson's explosive testimony w/ John Amato and Heather Digby Parton...
'Green News Report' 6/28/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Cause of NM's largest-ever wildfire revealed; Japan's grid straining under extreme heat; Colombia's new Prez a climate hawk; PLUS: Americans' high cost of extreme weather...
Recent GNRs: 6/23/22 - 6/21/22 - Archives...
After Corrupt Reversal of 'Roe', What Now? What Next?: 'BradCast' 6/27/22
Callers ring in; Also: Russia attacks Ukrainian shopping mall; Surprise J6 hearing announced; SCOTUS further erodes separation of church and state with new ruling...
Sunday 'Supremely Unjust' Toons
PDiddie's latest radical collection of this extremist week's most activist and supremely corrupted toons...
SUPREME CORRUPTION: 'BradCast' 6/24/22
Packed Court of radical, activist GOP Justices invent imaginary 'historical' reasons to cancel reproductive freedoms, personal privacy rights, gun safety laws; Also: Many more well-established Constitutional rights now in peril...
JAN. 6 HEARINGS (Day 5): Trump's Failed DoJ Coup and 'How Close We Came to Losing it All': 'BradCast' 6/23/22
With former Deputy Asst. AG Lisa Graves, Salon's Heather Digby Parton...
'Green News Report' 6/23/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Biden calls for temporary gas tax cut; Arctic warming really fast; New management for national monument; PLUS: IEA warns Europe about Russian gas exports this winter...
Recent GNRs: 6/21/22 - 6/16/22 - Archives...
Rebutting Raffensperger's 'Recount', Calling Out His Coffee County 'Cover-Up':
'BradCast' 6/22/22
Guest: Marilyn Marks of CGG; Also: DoJ broadens fake Trump electors probe...
J6 HEARINGS (Day 4): Trump Threatened, Targeted, Terror-ized State Officials, Election Workers: 'BradCast' 6/21/22
Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, 'Driftglass' of the Pro Left Podcast...
'Green News Report' 6/21/22
Deadly heat in Europe, U.S.; Catastrophic flooding in India, Bangladesh; Climate change a 'public health crisis'; PLUS: Corrupt SCOTUS set to undermine EPA...
A Conservative Appeal to Repubs to Save America, End Uncivil War on Democracy: 'BradCast' 6/20/22
Also: More Americans seek Trump J6 accountability; Callers ring in...
Sunday 'Right-Wing Freakout' Toons...
PDiddie apologizes to Dad for ruining his day, in his latest weekly toon collection...
Can Our Democracy Survive All of This?: 'BradCast' 6/17/22
Guest Host Nicole Sandler w/ The Nation's John Nichols...
J6 HEARINGS (Day 3): Trump, Eastman Knew VP Scheme Unlawful, Pressured Pence Anyway: 'BradCast' 6/16/22
Guests: Former DoJ fraud prosecutor Randall D. Eliason, Salon's Heather Digby Parton...
'Green News Report' 6/16/22
'Delusional' rush to new fossil fuel supplies; A surprising source of pollution; 'World's first zero emissions cement'; PLUS: TX grid saved by wind, solar...
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...


Since nobody seems to know much about either, we open the phone lines to listeners to see what we can learn...
By Brad Friedman on 2/14/2022 6:05pm PT  

There are two stories, one major, the other one only "major" thanks to rightwing media fueling it, that I've wanted to cover more on The BradCast of late, but haven't. Why? Because, in both cases, both stories make little sense to me and the so-called "experts" or pundits out there seem to be ideological, for or against, in one way or another that fails to offer much clarity or insight to either story. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

So, I figure, if the so-called pundits and experts don't know much and are doing little more than offering their opinions and best-guesses, our callers couldn't do much worse, right? Fact-check: True! Callers came through today with shining colors!

The first story is the dumb Canadian trucker protests over vaccine mandates. As you know, they are attempting to shut down U.S.-Canadian trade across transcontinental bridges in hopes of forcing the government to meet their demands. They have been succeeding at harming the economy in both countries, at least until this weekend when Canadian police finally cleared the crossing at the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit. That closure threatened some $360 million a day in two-way cargo across the bridge or about 25% of the U.S.-Canada goods trade, according to Reuters.

The otherwise unpopular demonstrations in Canada are being fueled with money from the U.S. and round-the-clock coverage on wingnut cable TV. And, in addition to shutting off trade (leading some automakers to have to shut down some production), the demonstrations have included Trump, Nazi and Confederate flags, as well as protesters urinating on a Canadian war memorial. At a crossing into Montana from Coutts, Alberta, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police say they arrested 11 people blockading the border after learning of a cache of guns and ammunition, including long guns, handguns, body armor, and a lot of ammo and high-capacity magazines.

Can you imagine Fox "News" supporting an actual civil rights protests in this country that included weapons, Nazi flags and urinating on war memorials? But, of course, the dumb protests in Canada have little to do with actual civil rights --- even as I strongly support the right for anybody to protest whatever they want, even dumb stuff like opposition to life-saving vaccine mandates.

The far more dangerous story, obviously, continues in Russia and Ukraine, where the former has now reportedly deployed as many as 130,000 troops on three sides of the latter and where, according to the weeks long insistence from the U.S., an invasion is now as "imminent" as this Wednesday. The U.S. --- and NATO and the EU --- have been warning of an "imminent" attack for weeks now, and one may be. But Russia continues to deny any plans for an attack on the former Soviet state and nobody seems to have any more than best guesses about what the truth is and what will actually happen next.

Perhaps a better question is why is the U.S. so loudly broadcasting what they see as Russia's "imminent" plans to invade --- now said to be as early as this Wednesday. Is it because Russia really is going to invade? Or is there another reason?

We discuss all of that and much more with some terrific callers today --- including one who says he used to work for in Russ for a vodka millionaire, and another who explains that she had been working recently on a construction project at the border crossing into British Columbia from Washington State.

Then, as usual, there are the always-fun callers who completely disagree with me on everything (particularly on life-saving COVID vaccines), and I always enjoy those calls the most! I'll hope you do too!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Dan Vicuña of Common Cause; Also: More lousy reporting from corporate media on Biden's booming economy...
By Brad Friedman on 2/8/2022 6:40pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: As of this past weekend, the news was much better than expected regarded this decade's round of redistricting around the country. That may have changed in a heartbeat on Monday evening with another horrible "Shadow Docket" ruling from the Republicans' stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, before we get there today, one additional point on a topic discussed in detail on yesterday's show. We noted that the GOP appears to be eating itself alive, with Trump attacking Pence for not helping him steal the 2020 election, Pence (gently, but finally) pushing back at Trump, and the RNC, at its Winter Meeting last week in Utah, voting to censure its own Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kingzinger (R-IL) for daring to join in the probe of the deadly, January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, which the RNC's resolution described as nothing more than "legitimate political discourse".

At the same time, the economy is booming at record numbers under President Biden and Democratic control of Congress. So, given all of that, we asked yesterday why Democrats are thought to be in so much trouble this November? We placed a lot of blame on the corporate media for their often ridiculous, lazy, sometimes out-and-out inaccurate, double-standard coverage of Biden and the Dems. Most notably, as we've been shouting here for months, on the economy, with last year's 6.6 million new jobs simply blowing away all previous Presidents in U.S. history, not to mention the lowest unemployment and highest growth in GDP since the 1980s.

Among the many failures of the corporate media is their reporting on monthly jobs numbers from by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as "disappointing" (including numbers that, when they were even lower under Trump, were described as "robust" or even better). That, as the BLS has, almost every single month for the past year, revised previous monthly new job numbers upward by more than 100,000 and sometimes much much more. Well, the media did it again at the end of last year, when describing "disappointing" new jobs numbers in November and December. Both months, as expected, were revised upward last Friday by BLS, but were largely overlooked by the media. And yet these were no small adjustments!

November's new jobs numbers were adjusted from 199,000 initially to 510,000! And the jobs gain revisions in December went from a "disappointing" 249,000 new jobs to 647,000 — painting a much stronger picture of the labor market than reported over those months last year. If we knew the numbers would be revised upwards last year, with our huge BRAD BLOG World News Headquarters resources, why didn't the corporate media report that appropriately at the time? Of course, they did know, but, for some reason, buried that information along with the record low unemployment numbers and record high GDP growth. Why? Decide as you see fit.

Next, the new decennial round of Congressional redistricting has been looking much better for Democrats (and American Democracy along with them), than previously predicted by experts in the run-up to drawing new maps following the 2020 Census. Last week, Cook Political Report's Dave Wasserman even declared "Dems have taken the lead on" his group's "2022 redistricting scorecard," citing favorable state court rulings and other developments putting Democrats "on track to net 2-3 seats from new maps vs. old ones."

Among the recent new developments, late last week North Carolina's state Supreme Court found that the state's GOP-created Congressional and state legislative maps were partisan gerrymanders in violation of their state Constitution. That ruling followed on a similar one from Ohio's Supreme Court which found the same in the Buckeye State, leading them to order new maps as well. At the same time in New York, one of the few states where Democrats control the process for drawing new maps, three districts were drawn that are likely to flip "red" House seats to "blue" (which has outraged state Republicans, leading them to file a lawsuit against what they see as a "partisan gerrymander" in violation of the state Constitution, despite their party doing the same and much worse in a bunch of states where they control the redistricting process.)

And, all of that followed a recent ruling from a three-judge panel in federal court finding that Alabama Republicans violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act with their new House map that drew six White-majority districts and just one Black-majority district, even though Black voters in Alabama represent 27% of the electorate. The three federal judges --- two of them Trump appointees --- ordered a second Black-majority district to be drawn after a days-long trial, including more than a dozen expert witnesses. The three judges unanimously declared in their "meticulous" 225-page ruling [PDF] that "we do not regard the question ... as a close one.”

Nonetheless, on Monday, in a stunning 5 to 4 ruling on the U.S. Supreme Court's "Shadow Docket", without any oral argument, etc., the rightwingers on the High Court stayed [PDF] the lower court's ruling to allow the unlawful racial gerrymander to remain in place for the 2022 mid-terms and perhaps longer. Even Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the 2013 opinion that gutted the VRA's critical Section 5 preclearance provision, voted with the Court's liberals. But, Roberts' vote was not enough. All of which tees up the Court, as expert fear, to gut Section 2 of the Act as well.

Since the Court's 2013 decision all but killing Section 5 preclearance of new election laws in jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination at the polling place, Republicans have claimed that there was always Section 2 that protected against laws with a discriminatory effect in all 50 states, though only after such laws went into effect. Now, experts worry that a full SCOTUS opinion after a hearing later this year on Alabama's racial gerrymander may result in the Court further chopping away at Section 2.

We're joined by one of those experts today. Common Cause's National Redistricting Manager DAN VICUÑA is here to explain both the good news and, as of Monday, very troubling news on the latest round of redistricting, including what the new SCOTUS ruling is likely to mean moving forward, for Alabama, for other states, for the future of the VRA, and for American Democracy itself.

"I think there is within the conservative majority on the Supreme Court a sort of deep skepticism about the Voting Rights Act, which is one of the most effective pieces of legislation to turn back, fight back against our sordid history of racism," Vicuña explains today. "It's been incredibly effective in giving people of color the opportunity to make their voices heard in elections. I think the conservative majority --- at least some of them --- just don't like it very much." And that could be very bad news for American Democracy indeed.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with a boatload of both good and bad (mostly bad, as usual) news on our ever-worsening climate crisis emergency...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Pence finally calls out Trump, Trump pushes back, RNC censures two of its own...while economy sizzles, corporate media fail to notice and blame Biden for nation's woes. Callers ring in to explain...
By Brad Friedman on 2/7/2022 6:35pm PT  

The title and sub-title above pretty much say it all about today's BradCast, but for a few specifics. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary]

Before opening up the phone lines to callers today for their thoughts on what the hell is going on that leaves Democrats, not Republicans, in trouble this November, a few of the specific stories we touched on first...

  • BREAKING moments before airtime: SCOTUS blocks recent lower federal court ruling that found Alabama Republicans' new U.S. House maps are an unlawful racial gerrymander under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (the part of the VRA that SCOTUS didn't kill entirely previously.) In a 5 to 4 decision today, with Chief Justice Roberts joining the Dem appointees on the bench, the Court blocked the lower court's order which would have mandated another Black-majority House district in Alabama. Moreover, in deciding to hear the case later this year, the Supremes, many justifiably fear, are now set to kill Section 2 of the landmark Voting Rights Act entirely. More (hopefully) on this on tomorrow's BradCast.
  • Last Friday, former Vice President Mike Pence finally stood up for himself (a little) by declaring during a speech for the rightwing Federalist Society in Florida that "President Trump was wrong" when he claimed that Pence had the Constitutional or statutory power to unilaterally overturned Joe Biden's victory during the final certification of the Electoral College results on January 6th, 2021. (That, after a week of Trump haranguing Pence in a number of statements, with Trump essentially admitting in the bargain that he was trying to steal the 2020 Presidential election.)
  • At the very same time on Friday, at the RNC's Winter Meeting in Utah, Trump's party voted to censure longtime, very conservative Congressmembers Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), for daring to work on the bipartisan Committee investigating the worst, most deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol --- and, arguably, on American Democracy itself --- in the nation's history. The RNC's censure resolution of Cheney and Kinzinger appears to declare that the attack on the Capitol --- which ended up with 9 deaths and injuries to more than 140 law enforcement officials --- was little more than "legitimate political discourse".
  • The censure resolution adopted nearly unanimously by voice vote in Utah was shepherded by RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel. Her uncle, Utah's Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, decried the GOP's attack on Cheney and Kingzinger, tweeting: "Shame falls on a party that would censure persons of conscience, who seek truth in the face of vitriol. Honor attaches to Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for seeking truth even when doing so comes at great personal cost.”
  • And, as if that's not enough madness and dysfunction and disarray inside the once great "Party of Lincoln" on behalf of their scofflaw, twice-impeached, disgraced former President, Washington Post reported on Monday that Donald Trump absconded with boxes and boxes of Presidential Records when he left the White House. That, in strict violation of the Presidential Records Act of 1975, created in the wake of Watergate. The National Archives had to go to Mar-a-Lago in December to try and get the stolen documents --- many of which had been torn up by Trump during his time in office (also in violation of the PRA) --- but did they get them all? And will Trump ever be held accountable for breaking any of the seemingly hundreds of laws he's broken before, during and after his Presidency? Jury is still out. (Actually, no jury has been created nor charges filed at all yet, incredibly enough.)
  • And, all the while, throughout all of that GOP disarray, Joe Biden's economy is booming at record levels. The corporate media, which have been downplaying monthly jobs reports and record low unemployment and record high growth in the GDP over the past year, was forced to begrudgingly concede at least a few of those points on Friday. The new jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found a remarkable 467,000 new jobs were created in December and that previous monthly job reports needed to be revised upward by several hundreds of thousands of new jobs. Not by a little, but by a lot. Last December was revised from 199,000 new jobs to 510,000. And November was adjusted from a 249,000 gain in jobs to an astounding 647,000. Both months saw media report the initial numbers as a "disappointment", despite a year's worth of monthly numbers being revised upward each and every month. In all, as Biden was left to explain himself, a record 6.6 million jobs were added last year. It's never happened before in American history. Also, 2021 saw the largest drop of unemployment ever in a single year; the largest drop in childhood poverty ever in a single year; and the largest drop in unemployment in 40 years. Sounds terrible!
  • So, with all of that, why are Joe Biden's approval numbers tanking? And why are Democrats --- not Republicans --- thought by the corporate media to be in big trouble this November? We open the phones to callers with a few thoughts on that, including one caller who thinks it's my fault! Mmmmkay...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Record U.S. corruption; Biden economy booming (don't tell the media!); Snowflake Youngkin's 'tip-line' pratfall; 'Maus' banned in TN before Holocaust Remembrance Day; Internet's dumbest man strikes again...
By Brad Friedman on 1/27/2022 7:17pm PT  

Today, The BradCast is more than just a grab bag of American corruption. It's also topped off with several heaping helpings of rising rightwing autocracy and fascism! Enjoy! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the stories covered today...

  • A new report ranking corruption among 180 countries ranks the U.S. as the 27th least corrupt in the world. In 2021, we fell to our worst score ever --- tied with Chile --- in Transparency International's index. For some reason or another, that's a fall from our previous (less corrupt) high in 2015. Whatever could have happened between then and now to make us more corrupt? The group suggests new efforts already under way by the Biden Administration to tackle corporate corruption could "significantly enhance" our ranking in future surveys. But, for now, they chalk up the nations new record low to, among other things, "persistent attacks against free and fair elections, culminating in a violent assault on the US Capitol, and an increasingly opaque campaign finance system."
  • You may or may not have heard the news --- it disappeared off of AP's front page as quickly as it was posted there today --- but the U.S. economy under Joe Biden in 2021 was absolutely booming. New Commerce Department numbers released Thursday finds that U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) increased last year at the fastest pace since Ronald Reagan's Presidency. The economy expanded by 5.7% in 2021, the best calendar year growth since 1984. Based on 4th quarter numbers, however, GDP was growing at an even faster, 6.9% annualized pace. You sure wouldn't know it from corporate media coverage, however, focused as it is on things like inflation (due, in no small part, to the exploding consumer demand). All of this is akin to AP's recent ridiculous reporting on new jobs numbers, even amid decades-low unemployment numbers and rising wages. Their headline under Trump in February of 2018, for example: "U.S. Employers Added a Robust 200,000 Jobs in January". Compare that to their December 2021 headline under Biden: "U.S. Employers Added a Sluggish 210,000 Jobs in November." (Yes, you read those correctly.)
  • Corruption takes many forms and has many different effects on a nation, none of them good. Some of them, however, can be quite amusing, even when it comes from the clumsy rightwing spread of autocracy and facism, such as that playing out under the freshly sworn in Republican Governor in Virginia, Glenn Youngkin. He announced this week that he has created a tip-line for folks to report teachers who might teach anything objectionable. That might include, for example, anything that may have to do with systemic racism (in Virginia, of all places!) or that could be perceived as making (white) children uncomfortable (aware of) our nation's past (and present). But, "Whatever you do," one Virginia lawyer and former Democratic Congressional candidate hilariously cautioned this week in a viral Twitter thread, "don't make a mockery of this with fake tips" sent to the state's helpeducation@governor.virginia.gov email tip line! He even provided some examples of several fake racism tips that should absolutely not be sent to that address!
  • As amusing as that might be, the rising tide of Republican snowflakes seeking safe spaces is also taking darker turns. This week --- just before today's Holocaust Remembrance Day, as irony would have it --- the McMinn County, Tennessee School Board voted 10 to 0 to ban Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel MAUS: A Survivor's Tale from the school's 8th grade curriculum. The remarkable (beautiful, touching, terrifying, horrifying and even hilarious at times) story of Spiegelman's relationship with his parents, both Holocaust victims, relating their stories and his mother's horrible suicide with Jews drawn as mice and Nazis as cats, should be read by everyone. It's unclear if the County School Board is aware of the irony of banning books about Nazis who famously banned books, but the entire affair has left the author Spiegelman baffled and concerned about the rise of "autocracy and fascism" in the U.S., akin to what his parents eventually escaped in Europe. But it serves as another reminder of how important it is --- as discussed on yesterday's BradCast with Run For Something's Amanda Litman --- that more pro-democracy, anti-Nazi candidates need to run for local office everywhere! Including school boards!
  • And just one more for you today on the corruption of the media --- or at least, the fake, if wildly popular, disinformation propaganda site called Gateway Pundit. We usually try to ignore them and the clownish stuff they post. But they are behind about 90% of the phony wingnut "fraud" claims used by Trump and his gullible MAGA dupes to try and steal the 2020 election. This week, the website's super genius proprietor, Jim Hoft, posted a 100% phony story claiming that the Wisconsin state Assembly voted "unanimously" on Tuesday night to advance a resolution to decertify the Badger State's 10 electoral votes for Joe Biden from 2020. That, because they "were certified under fraudulent purposes." And because MAGA dupes are dupes, the story went viral, natch. As it turns out, one single state legislator in WI tried to introduce that resolution, with zero co-sponsors, was rejected, and it received zero votes in the Assembly. In fact, it wasn't allowed up for a vote at all. But don't tell the dopey propagandist/yutz Hoft, who still has the story posted on his site --- along with years of other phony, discredited, false stories --- two days after publishing it, even after USA Today's fact check thoroughly and verifiably showed it to be completely fake news. Sigh...
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for some actual and verifiable news in our latest Green News Report, with a new report on the costs of reaching net zero emissions; another finding air pollution to be much deadlier than previously known; the Biden Administration revoking controversial mining permits in Minnesota; and both McDonald's and KFC each offering a new, plant-based menu item which may, or may not, move you to want to eat it...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)




Guest host Nicole Sandler with author John M. Barry and Times columnist turned gubernatorial candidate Nicholas Kristof…
By Nicole Sandler on 12/28/2021 3:47pm PT  

It's the excruciatingly long final week of the year. Brad and Desi are on vacation. I'm NICOLE SANDLER, holding down the fort and guest hosting The BradCast for a few days. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

I have a busy show for you today. But I start today's companion post with a bit of a retraction from the CDC which just arrived in my inbox. I honestly don’t know whether to laugh or cry, as it showed up just as I put the finishing touches on today's show.

Our first guest today is JOHN M BARRY, a professor at Tulane and author of a number of books. The one we're concerned with today is The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History. Barry literally wrote the book on the closest approximation of what we're living through right now. So I wanted to check in with him to ask how the 1918 Spanish Flu finally ended, and to ask if we might be on the same track with the arrival and potential predominance of the Omicron variant. And, frankly, it appeared that I may have hit on something.

At least until five minutes ago, when I received this alert. "CDC significantly cuts estimate of omicron's prevalence in US," reads the headline at The Hill. So I kept reading...

According to agency data, omicron accounted for about 59% of all US infections as of Dec 15. Previously, the CDC said the omicron variant comprised 73% of all cases for the week ending Dec 18. But that number has now been revised to 22.5% of all cases. And the Delta variant still accounts for about 41%...and to make matters even worse, the US is now averaging more than 206,000 cases a day and climbing, according to the CDC.

I guess that just means the situation is even more dire than we thought.

Also today, I reached back into late 2020 for our second interview, but there’s a method to my madness. In October of 2020, NY Times columnist NICHOLAS KRISTOF and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, produced a film to go along with the book they released the previous year with the same title, Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope.

In it, Kristof takes a hard look into poverty in America, the wealthiest nation on the planet. He takes us back to his hometown of Yamhill, Oregon, where people are really struggling.

Perhaps it was the journey of making the film and writing the book that convinced Kristof to make a major life change. This year, he quit the NY Times, moved back to Oregon and launched his campaign to run for Governor. It appears to me that he's doing it for all the correct reasons. Listen to our conversation, and you’ll understand what I mean…

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Guest: The Nation's John Nichols on that and other progressive wins and losses this year; Also: In the spirit of the season, lauding not one, but TWO Republicans (and one of them is Trump!)...
By Brad Friedman on 12/23/2021 5:41pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we continue to catch up with a few of our favorite progressive journalists as the year grinds down. And, yes, there are still a few things to celebrate before Christmas. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

This week, unionized Kellogg's workers in four states --- Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Tennessee --- approved a new five-year contract after a long, 11-week strike. The corporate cereal behemoth had recently threatened to replace the strikers with new, permanent (scab) workers. But, according to members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) International Union, the loud support of lawmakers, including the President of the United States and members of his Administration, Sen. Bernie Sanders, as well as state and local officials in Michigan and elsewhere, buoyed their resolve to keep going. And it worked! The BCTGM President noted this week that the new contract includes wage increases, cost-of-living adjustments, expanded health and retirement benefits and "does not include any concessions."

The victory for 1,400 workers, at a company which touted its workers just last year, during the darkest days of the pandemic, as "essential workers helping to feed the nation," was one of several for unionized labor this year. Our guest today, author and longtime progressive journalist JOHN NICHOLS of The Nation and Madison, Wisconsin's Capitol Times, joins us to help explain why.

"What's happened again and again" this year at companies like Kellogg's, John Deere and elsewhere, Nichols explains, "is that initially, the company bargains in the old-fashioned way. 'We're going to be tough with you...We'll permanently replace you.' All the old tricks." But, in a labor market with very low unemployment, where it is now difficult to find skilled workers or those willing to work in difficult, often dangerous conditions for low pay and benefits, "it's not going to work in this situation. The end result is the companies blinked."

But we've got much more than just the rise of labor in 2021 to catch up on with Nichols today in a lively, wide-ranging conversation on that...

  • on how the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act would help a broad swath of workers across the country;
  • on Joe Manchin and the (theoretical) death of Biden's Build Back Better Act and what the West Virginia Democratic Senator's betrayal to his own party and his own constituents may mean for the future of the filibuster and federal voting rights legislation;
  • on Nichols' fascinating new article for The Nation on the FBI's weird scrutiny of It's a Wonderful Life as a Communist tool back in the 1950s (they thought it made Mr. Potter --- and capitalism --- look bad);
  • and on his upcoming new book calling for accountability --- akin to that which came out of FDR's Pecora Commission following the Great Depression --- for Coronavirus Criminals and Pandemic Profiteers. "In every chapter in the book," Nichols explains, "I find individuals who died, and I track through the cabinet members, the judges, the CEOs, whoever, who could have taken actions that would have let that person live."

That's just a taste. Tune in for much more today with the great Mr. Nichols!

Then, yes, in the spirit of the holidays (and, perhaps, in hopes that it may save even one life), we laud two Republicans today for (barely) doing the right thing this week. One is Congressman Tom Rice of South Carolina, who now says he regrets voting against Joe Biden's certification in two states following the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. ("There was a coward in that equation," Rice told Politico. "But it wasn’t Mike Pence.") And, perhaps most begrudgingly of all, we laud Trump himself for saying out loud during a wingnut interview this week: "The vaccine worked. But some people aren't taking it. The ones that get very sick and go to the hospital are the ones that don't take the vaccine. ... If you take the vaccine, you're protected. Look, the results of the vaccine are very good...People aren't dying when they take the vaccine."

Yes, the bar is admittedly very low at this point, but we've gotta start somewhere if we want to figure out how to repair this broken nation (and planet.)

Speaking of...the fine folks at ExxonMobil were apparently able to fit in one last disaster before year's end, with an explosion in the middle of the night at one of their refineries near Houston that injured four workers, three of whom were airlifted from the scene. The company downplayed the incident, as usual, describing it as "a fire occurred at our facility". The Houston County Sheriff's office described a "major industrial accident". We hope to learn more soon.

No room for that story today, however, in our final Green News Report of the year (we're standing down next week, Nicole Sandler will be filling in for us for most of it), as Desi Doyen joins us for a round-up of the disasters and successes in the environmental world in 2021, and much more...including one more victory for labor and union workers, as the Biden Administration mobilizes to rid the nation of millions of lead pipes...

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Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton on that and MUCH more at year's end; Also: FDA approves COVID pill; Biden seats 40th judge; U.S. economy 'booming' says WSJ (someone please tell rest of the media!)...
By Brad Friedman on 12/22/2021 6:11pm PT  

We've been arguing for weeks that the accountability walls are closing in on Donald Trump. Scoff if you will, but we have still more evidence of that on today's BradCast --- plus a lot more to talk about with our guest as another year crawls toward its close. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Donald Trump-incited January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol and his attempt to steal the 2020 election is now turning their attention to fellow sitting members of Congress. On Monday, they requested (not subpoenaed, but requested) far-right Freedom Caucus member and conspiracy theorist Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA, that's him on the left in the graphic) come in to answer a few questions about his efforts to install Jeffrey Clark as Attorney General in the days before Jan. 6th. Clark, a Trump DoJ officials who has pleaded the 5th in response to a Committee subpoena, was part of a scheme to lie to swing-state legislatures that the Justice Department had discovered fraud in the 2020 election, mandating new electors be selected by them for Trump instead of the ones voters actually selected for Joe Biden. The Committee informed Perry that they "have received evidence from multiple witnesses that you had an important role in the efforts to install Clark as acting Attorney General.”

By Tuesday, Perry declined to accept the polite invite, and the Committee subsequently said they are prepared to seek the information they need "using other tools." That may include a subpoena, which Perry cannot reject, unless he either wishes to plead the 5th or risk jail time via a Contempt of Congress citation.

Today, far-right Congressman and key Trump ally Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH, that's him on the right) --- who has admitted to having had multiple conversations and meetings with the disgraced former President both on January 6th and in the weeks preceding it --- received a request similar to Perry's. The Committee would like Jordan to "discuss each such communication with [Trump] in detail," according to a letter sent to the Congressman just before air time today. Back in October, Jordan announced during a House Rules Committee hearing, when asked if he'd speak to the Jan 6th Committee about his conversations with the then-President, that he had "nothing to hide." We'll soon find out if that was a lie.

Buttressing all of this, New York Times reported earlier in the week that the Committee, while its 40 investigators and staffers (including former federal prosecutors) have been sifting through some 30,000 documents and interviews with more than 300 witnesses, has shifted from plans to merely detail what happened during the January insurrection to considering criminal referrals to the DoJ. Among the crimes they are looking into are those related to felony obstruction of an official proceeding and "wire fraud by Republicans who raised millions of dollars off assertions that the election was stolen, despite knowing the claims were not true," as the paper reports.

As noted, walls are closing in. Will Attorney General Merrick Garland soon take notice? Or action?

Beyond that, while there has been much troubling news as the year draws to its dark conclusion --- from the rise of Omicron to Joe Manchin gutting President Biden's progressive agenda --- there is also a bunch of encouraging news, too much of which is being ignored or downplayed by media.

Today, the FDA approved emergency authorization for Pfizer's anti-viral pill to treat COVID, said to reduce severe illness and hospitalization by nearly 90% if taken early enough. This week, the U.S. Senate confirmed Biden's 40th nominee to a lifetime appointment on the federal bench. In addition to being the most diverse such group of appointees, their number far outpaces Trump's first year (who saw just 18 nominees seated) and ties the record set by Ronald Reagan more than 40 years ago.

The most maddening news being downplayed by corporate media for weeks, however, is what Wall Street Journal (of all papers!) described today as the "booming U.S. economy," which they report to be outpacing Europe and Asia by a mile. "U.S. economic output is set to expand by more than 7% annualized in the final three months of the year," the paper notes, as compared to "about 2% in the eurozone and 4% in China."

On top of that, "Major U.S. ports are processing almost one-fifth more container volume this year than they did in 2019," also "leaping ahead" of European and Asian ports, while the purchase of durable goods has surged by about 45% above its 2018 pace in the U.S., compared to a 2% rise in Europe. Unemployment is heading toward lows not seen in decades and wages are growing at about 4%, well above both Europe and pre-pandemic rates.

So, it's little wonder that the bulk of the corporate media seems obsessed with inflation as Joe Biden's poll numbers, particularly on his handling of the economy, go South. We can't imagine where the American public may have gotten such a misleading impression of his accomplishments in his first year.

Joining us today to discuss all of the above and much more at year's end, is our old friend and award-winning progressive columnist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo. Among the boatload of questions she speaks to...

  • Why is corporate media coverage of Biden and the Democrats so wildly out of balance with reality, as compared to their coverage of Republican Presidents?
  • Why doesn't the media note that, in addition to Manchin declaring his opposition to Biden's Build Back Better agenda, not one single Republican supports it --- or pretty much anything else Democrats propose, including the American Rescue Plan, passed with no Republican votes earlier this year to get life-saving vaccines to Americans and money in their pockets? Guaranteed filibusters on everything is actually a very new phenomenon, even if it only seems to occur when Democrats are in control for some odd reason.
  • Is Manchin really hoping to kill the Build Back Better Act? Or is something else going on? And is there a way for Democrats to get him back on board with the Biden Agenda?
  • Where the hell is Merrick Garland and will the Jan 6th Committee finally kick the Department of Justice into gear when it comes to accountability for the people who actually incited the insurrection and tried to steal a Presidential election?
  • Will Donald Trump finally be criminally indicted in the year ahead in New York, Georgia and/or by the DoJ? And, if so, will that make him more likely to run in 2024, or less?
  • Will 2022 be better or worse than 2021? (Which was, easily, the best year we've had since 2020.)

I don't have the heart today, so close to Christmas, to tell you how she answered that last question. As noted, a lot to discuss with Digby today!...

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Biden addresses nation on Omicron emergency plans, begs vaccine disinfo peddlers to 'stop'; Also: Trump got secretly boosted; Coal miners union wants thin-skinned, corrupt Manchin to reconsider BBB...
By Brad Friedman on 12/21/2021 6:03pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: As the year grinds toward another bizarre, unbalanced close, America tries to pick up the pieces and keep moving forward. So do we. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

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

  • On the heels of Sen. Joe Manchin's stunning weekend announcement that he was breaking his promise to the President and his party to support the Build Back Better Act, which includes nearly $600 million to fight climate change and help coal miners in Manchin's home state, the nation's largest mining union is hoping that the West Virginia Senator will reconsider his decision. Among the funds in BBB is money earmarked for victims of black lung disease as well as tax incentives to help ex-miners from the dying industry and to protect its union workers. While Manchin makes millions from the coal industry via the coal brokerage firm he founded, which is now owned by his son, he doesn't appear to give a damn about the industry's actual miners.
  • A few additional thoughts today on why the corrupt Democratic Senator from West Virginia --- who is killing the most progressive climate and social spending agenda in the nation's history (after every single Republican in Congress has refused to support it in anyway) --- is still needed in the Democratic caucus. For a start, without him, there would have been no American Rescue Plan (which sent $1,400 checks to Americans earlier this year, expanded the Child Tax Credit program to send $300 per child each month to parents, and helped get hundreds of millions vaccinated), nor would President Biden have been able to seat a record number of federal judges in the first year of his Presidency. Without Manchin as a Democrat --- love him or hate him --- Mitch McConnell and the Republicans would be in the Senate majority right now and none of Biden's many critical accomplishments to date would have happened.
  • So, why did Manchin decide to break his promise to his party and the President on BBB? Steve Clemons reports that while negotiations between the two Joes had been moving forward, even if slowly, the thin-skinned Senator didn't like being singled out by name in a statement from the White House --- even though the statement was largely encouraging about the state of negotiations. Lame. But we think that even that explanation is likely little more than excuse for Manchin's betrayal. We explain why.
  • Next, the remarkably transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus is spreading at an absolutely unfathomable speed in the U.S. just before the Christmas holiday, according to the latest CDC numbers out this week. In little over a week, it appears to have gone from just 3% of cases to 73% of cases nationwide, all but edging out Delta entirely. There are one or two possibly encouraging pieces of news about the new variant, but it will still be a matter of weeks before we know if those potentially reassuring points will come to pass. In the meantime, a whole bunch of people are going to get sick and many are likely to die. Almost all of those who get severely ill and face both hospitalization and death will be those who refused to (or couldn't, for legitimate reasons) get vaccinated, including with a critical booster shot.
  • Among those who received a booster shot recently --- in secret --- is former President Donald Trump. That, after suggesting in September he was unlikely to get one. Turns out he's a liar. Who knew?
  • Amidst the disturbing news of Omicron's lightning surge, and the hospitals that are likely to become overwhelmed very shortly across the nation (many already are), President Biden addressed the nation from the White House on Tuesday afternoon. He shared the Administration's plans to try and minimize the coming damage. Biden announced that the federal government will spend more than a billion dollars on free home COVID test kits; instructed the Pentagon to be prepared to deploy more than 1,000 National Guard troops to help overcrowded hospitals handle the coming testing, infection, and hospitalization surge; is activating FEMA to deploy additional hospital beds where hospitals are overrun, and to have ambulances on standby to help transport patients from one overrun hospital to another where a bed may be available. He reiterated the need for everyone to get vaccinated and explained what families should and shouldn't do over the coming holidays. We share his address in full today, and offer a few thoughts in response.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us with our latest Green News Report on climate fallout from Manchin's BBB announcement; a deadly December super-typhoon that slammed the Philippines; and some good news on mileage standards from the EPA and for the U.S. offshore wind industry...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 12/21/2021 10:52am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Manchin's Build Back Better bombshell threatens to cancel Biden's climate agenda; Unusual deadly December super-typhoon slams Philippines; EPA issues stringent new mileage standards; PLUS: U.S. offshore wind industry wins key decision... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

GNR's now celebrating 12 YEARS of independent green news, politics, analysis, snarky comment and connecting climate change dots over your public airwaves!
PLEASE CLICK HERE TO HELP US CELEBRATE WITH A DONATION!

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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Can Reality Denial be Countered?; DOJ Charges 3 Companies For OC Pipeline Break; From the pandemic to climate change, Americans are still expected to work no matter what happens; EPA begins rolling out billions to clean up Superfund sites; U.S. fishing industry teams up with oil lobby to fight offshore wind; Black Communities Become "Sacrifice Zones" for Industrial Air Pollution; Unprecedented die-offs, melting ice: Climate change is wreaking havoc in the Arctic and beyond... PLUS: Walmart sued over huge illegal dumps of toxic waste in California landfills... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Manchin is trying to kill the most progressive Presidential agenda in decades; Omicron is trying to kill everyone; Both are killing Christmas; Plus: Trump's new lawsuit means he's in trouble; And callers ring in!...
By Brad Friedman on 12/20/2021 5:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Merry Christmas. Christmas is cancelled. Thanks Joe Manchin and Omicron.

Manchin dropped a bombshell over the weekend, announcing on Fox "News" that he could not support the Build Back Better (BBB) act, the better part of the historically progressive agenda of President Biden and of largely every other Democrat in the House and Senate. That, after the measure was scaled from a $6.5 trillion package to just $1.75 trillion in order to appease the West Virginia Democrat. If Manchin remains a "NO", the bill --- and, perhaps the Biden Presidency along with it --- is largely dead. The White House offered an unusually lenthy and, frankly, blistering statement in response to Manchin, calling him out for his lack of "good faith" and broken promises made to the President personally. We share that blistering response in full today.

It should be noted that all of the limp reasons Manchin offered for breaking his promise to support BBB are all BS. The bill is fully paid for (unlike the bipartisan infrastructure bill that Manchin whole-heartedly supported and voted for) and it will actual lower the national deficit eventually, not increase it; The bill will not worsen inflation either. It will in fact, ease it. Moreover, since Manchin's announcement, the biggest Wall Street economists have actually downgraded their outlook for 2022 based on Manchin's sleazy move; And no, the monthly child tax credit expansion that lifted half of the nation's children out of poverty during its first year, after originally being included in Biden's American Rescue Plan earlier this year, will not lead parents to spend it on drugs.

The bad news (for now) of Manchin's self-serving decision is on par with COVID's decision to not be done with us yet, as the Omicron variant, just before airtime, was declared by the CDC to now be the most dominant variant in the nation. They say it now accounts for about 73% of new cases. That was fast. As we'd warned. That's how wildly transmissible it is. Desi Doyen joins us with some clear, sobering thoughts from WaPo's national science reporter Dan Diamond that you may wish to consider on how to help keep yourself and your family safe over the holidays.

On this matter, it should be noted, since some are dismissing the dangers of Omicron --- citing its predicted infections as mostly "mild" --- that means only that many cases may not result in hospitalization. Don't fool yourself by convincing yourself that, even if you do contract Omicron, it will most likely be a "mild" case of COVID. Short of asymptomatic cases, a "mild" version of COVID could lay you up for weeks or longer. It means you won't be hospitalized, but that's about it. And, yes, it's going to land a lot of people in the hospital, as experts believe we're likely to begin seeing as many as 500,000 infections per day. During the January 2021 peak we had "only" about 250,000 infections a day.

Finally, before opening up the phones today to listeners on Manchin, Omicron and more, some slightly better news. Donald Trump is terrified that he is soon to be indicted in New York. So, as he does when he knows he's in big trouble, he has filed a ridiculous lawsuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James in hopes of buying time. It probably won't work.

Then, callers ring in on all of the above. It was a very lively show --- particularly considering the content we had to work with today...

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Guest: Helen Butler of The People's Agenda, purged from the Morgan County, GA Board of Elections; Also: Listener mail!...
By Brad Friedman on 12/15/2021 6:28pm PT  

If you're wondering how to stay positive as America appears on the brink of a very dark authoritarian takeover by Republicans, we may have just the answer for you in the form of today's guest on The BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Reuters has been doing an incredibly well-reported series of special reports of late on the Republicans' ongoing assault on democracy itself in America. They've covered, among other aspects, the attacks on elections officials stemming from Donald Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election by blatantly lying about it, and even citing certain election officials by name who were subsequently targeted and terrorized --- sometimes, along with their family members --- with threats of violence and death by his supporters. They have also been very smartly covering the effects of new voter suppression laws being adopted in GOP controlled states around the nation, as part of the opportunistic fall-out from the lies that Trump told in his effort to steal last year's Presidential election.

Recently, Reuters' James Oliphant and Nathan Layne took a detailed look at the effect all of this is having on local elections officials in a state we have covered in great detail on this program: Georgia, where longtime, local election board officials --- specifically, Democratic election officials ... specifically black Democratic election officials (and frequently black Democratic women) --- are now being purged from County election boards across the state at an alarming rate.

The purge is thanks to two different state laws. One is GA's terrible new anti-voting law, SB 202, passed earlier this year, which allows for --- among other anti-democratic things --- officials on the State Board of Elections, which is controlled by the GOP state legislature and Republican Sec. of State, to replace county election officials with partisan operatives (for virtually any reason) who can then overturn election results (also, for virtually any reason.) [FULL DISCLOSURE: I am a named plaintiff, representing media, challenging several provisions of SB 202 in a federal lawsuit filed by the Coalition for Good Governance.] The other law being used even more, referred to as "local legislation", has been in place for a while, but was rarely invoked until this year in the wake of Trump's "Big Lie" after Democrats won the Presidential election in the state for the first time in years, along with both of the Peach State's U.S. Senate seats. The state law allows County Commissions to restructure their County Boards of Elections pretty much anyway they like after receiving approval for the restructuring from the state legislature.

In at least half a dozen Georgia counties that have restructured their election boards so far this year, Oliphant and Layne report, "the legislature shifted the power to appoint some or all election board members to local county commissions, all of which are currently controlled by Republicans. Previously, the appointments had been split evenly between the local Democratic and Republican parties." They detail how black Democrats --- often long-serving champions of voting rights --- have been systematically purged from those county boards and replaced with White Republican majorities in advance of next year's critical mid-terms, where popular black Democratic voting rights advocates Stacey Abrams and Sen. Raphael Warnock will both be on the ballot, for Governor and U.S. Senator respectively.

"In Morgan County, the majority-Republican county commission reconstituted its election board, ousting two outspoken Black Democrats," Reuters reports, "Helen Butler and Avery Jackson were removed after the new law eliminated political-party appointments and handed appointment power to the Republican-dominated commission. Butler and Jackson sought reappointments but were denied."

We're thrilled to be joined once again today by one of those two ousted officials, HELEN BUTLER, who served honorably on the Morgan County Board of Elections and Registration for a decade until she was pushed out this year. Butler, who we first spoke with over the summer, after she offered testimony in the U.S. Senate, is the Executive Director of the Georgia Coalition for the People's Agenda, a civil rights organization founded by the late, great civil rights icon, Reverend Dr. Joseph Lowery (who founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King Jr.).

She is also the winner of the Voter Empowerment Collaborative's 2021 Love Award, named after the 40-year old civil rights group's legendary founder, Reverend Albert E. Love, known as "Mr. Vote," after dedicating his life to registering, educating and mobilizing voters. And Butler is also a 2021 "Defender of the Dream" awardee by the AFL-CIO Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Civil and Human Rights Conference. We leave it to you to decide if those awards are as prestigious as Butler being named last month as a "Goddess of Democracy" in Glamour magazine's "Women of the Year" issue.

Butler describes today what is going on right now in Georgia, largely under the national media radar, as being part of the GOP's "insurrection plan nationally, that 'We are going to take over every aspect of controlling the outcome of elections, so if I don't like the results, I can put in the results that I want to have.'" She also notes that it is happening not only with boards of elections in her state, but at school boards as well.

"They're not stopping with just elections. They're trying to take over control of all aspects of government. Education departments are the largest generators of revenue in counties, so if they get to control that, they get to control all money, they get to control what our children learn, what they get, where schools are located," she warns. "So again, it's a total takeover process that they're going after...They are stacking control of all levels of government."

When I ask how much control local county boards of elections have over elections and voting processes, and even outcomes, as compared to the state itself, Butler pulls no punches: "The county levels are the ones where the rubber meets the road. They do all of the voter registration, making sure people are registered to vote. They get to determine with their redistricting process, how the maps are drawn, how people are put into those maps for purposes of voting. They also control who gets an absentee ballot, whether it gets counted or is rejected. If there are provisional ballots, they get to determine which ones are counted, which ones are rejected. They get to certify the results --- they get to count all of the votes that are cast. And they get to certify who gets to win each race. So they are very critical... and if you stack it so those people can conform to a lie versus the truth, then you don't get true democracy... you get an autocratic form of government, because someone wants it to go a certain way, and not necessarily to the will of the voters."

With that, Butler explains, "they can control the outcome of all elections." And while all of this sounds --- and is --- quite chilling, Butler's optimism, as you'll hear, is absolutely infectious. As dark as the topic of discussion is, you'll be astounded to walk away from this conversation actually feeling somewhat better about everything...including the possibility of federal legislation in the form of the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act actually being adopted by the U.S. Senate, and maybe even saving democracy in Georgia and everywhere else before all is said and done. She explains how those bills will go a long way toward reversing the worst of the GOP's now-ongoing assault on American democracy and, if passed, could be "our saving grace."

"I always try to be optimistic, to look for the good things rather than dwell on the bad," she tells me, as she also explains how Americans across the country can help right now. "It's very important we get those bills passed...As my leader, the late Dr. Joseph Lowery said, 'Voting is a sacred right, but it's also a moral obligation.'"

Tune in for much more in today's conversation. You can thank me later.

Finally, we close today with a listener mail segment, including some great letters from listeners in response to several recent shows that may help you keep Butler's infectious optimism going through the holidays...or at least for the next few hours...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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In other words...a whole lotta news...
By Brad Friedman on 12/9/2021 6:33pm PT  

Yes, the walls are continuing to close in on our disgraced, twice-impeached, indescribably criminal previous President, as discussed in two encouraging news stories today. But much of his damage is already done, to a rightwing party that has become so whacked out and authoritarian that the rails they are now off of can no longer be seen. On the other hand, we've got more good news for labor, the economy and maybe even democracy under Joe Biden's Presidency on today's BradCast...whether the corporate media decides to notice such things or not. [Audio link to full program is posted at the end of this summary.]

Among the enormous grab bag of stories covered on today's program...

  • Lowest in 52 years: New weekly jobless claims come in at another record low today. And, while you might think such good news numbers, not seen since 1969, would be both cause of celebration and front page news alerts, that sort of thing only happens when such things occur while's there's a Republican in the White House, apparently.
  • Good news brewing for workers: A Starbucks shop in Buffalo, New York becomes the first of the coffee giant's corporate-owned stores to become unionized in the United States. As discussed with labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein on a recent BradCast, the company will spend untold millions to keep that from spreading to its tens of thousands of other stores where workers may finally be realizing the collective bargaining is good for everybody.
  • At least someone's doing something about it: Italy issues a record fine to e-commerce giant Amazon of more than a billion dollars for their monopolistic practices. Why doesn't the U.S. do the same thing? Perhaps it will with Joe Biden's new, anti-monopoly warriors setting up shop at the Federal Trade Commission and the anti-trust division at the Dept. of Justice.
  • Unsolved MAGA mysteries: Some of the wingnuts on pillow impresario and failed election fraud fraudster Mike Lindell's streaming disinformation channel think it must be a Big Government conspiracy causing rightwing anti-vax and anti-mask warriors to keeping contracting COVID and dying from it. We think there may be another explanation.
  • You decide: Authoritarian Fox "News" prime time star Laura Ingram can't figure out what Washington Post's Dana Milbank could possibly be referring to in calling for media to stand up for democracy right now. "Authoritarians? What are they even talking about?," Ingram puzzles. "Authoritarians? Who's that?!"
  • Show-Me shame: Missouri's embarrassing wingnut Attorney General and U.S. Senate hopeful Eric Schmitt embarrasses my old home state with a letter welcoming President Biden to the Show Me state for his "first visit as President to one of the 25 states that cast its electoral votes for President Trump in 2020" before, on official state AG letterhead, describing him as a "socialist" endangering "the livelihoods of tens of millions" by mandating vaccines or testing for many workers. For an AG, you'd think he'd be better at fact-checking. (Biden has actually visited seven other Trump states before arriving in MO.) But, it's Schmitt's recent Big Government mandate to local public health officials and school boards across the state to immediately end "all" public health orders --- for mask mandates, quarantines and more --- that has one of our listeners from the state (an elementary school teacher) so troubled. She also smartly wonders: "What happened to Republicans being the party of local control?"
  • I ❤ New York: As to those walls continuing to close in on the criminal former President, we've got two related pieces of good news today. In one, New York Attorney General Leticia James is reportedly calling Trump in for a deposition in her civil suit examining years of apparent tax and bank fraud by the Trump Organization.
  • I ❤ the D.C. Court of Appeal: In today's second Trump accountability story, the federal appeals court in D.C. has denied his appeal claiming "Executive Privilege" should block the release of a treasure trove of White House documents regarding his January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, as subpoenaed from the National Archives by the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection and approved by the current Commander-in-Chief (the only one who ACTUALLY is able to invoke Executive Privilege.)
  • 'Yes, Democracy is hard': Democracy is down but not out...yet. President Biden convened the first Summit for Democracy today, with more than 100 of the world's democratic nations invited to attend. We share part of his opening statement, wherein he acknowledges that democracy is on a "backward slide", even here in the U.S., but that its still well worth fighting for and definitely beats the alternative of autocracy, rising around the world, and even here at home.
  • State of emergency: Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, covering Biden's new Executive Orders to achieve net zero emissions by 2050; Florida taking unprecedented steps to save beloved manatees; troubling news for New Englanders this winter; and a heads-up on a new, blockbuster Hollywood "comedy" aiming to underscore our climate change emergency in a very clever way...

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Guest: American Prospect's David Dayen; Also: Omicron lab studies suggest booster shots critical; Congressional priorities laid bare...
By Brad Friedman on 12/8/2021 6:15pm PT  

The U.S. economy, of course, has been rigged for years. The pandemic, in the meantime, has now made that clearer than ever. Not that the corporate media is bothering to explain it to Americans. So, w try to do so on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up, results from several, eagerly awaited new lab studies on the effectiveness of the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna on the Omicron variant have been released over the past 24 hours. Two independent studies, one from South Africa and another from Sweden, along with a press release on findings of a study by Pfizer, all suggest that getting a booster shot as soon as possible is the best way to avoid severe illness both from Omicron and all of the other previously-known variants. We walk you through the details and explain the findings today.

The upshot: Two vaccine doses and natural immunity from COVID is way better against Omicron than just two vaccine doses. Two vaccine doses and a booster shot is as good or better than two doses and COVID. So, unless you want to try your luck by getting COVID to protect yourself against it, a booster shot, right now, is your very best best. That, as infections, hospitalizations and deaths are all beginning to sky-rocket again, as the nation is on the verge of 800,000 COVID deaths.

Next, we've been reporting for the past several weeks on the lousy job the corporate media have been doing in covering what is, overall, a surprisingly robust economic recovery in the first year of the Biden Administration, as the nation (and world) struggles to emerge from our nearly two-year pandemic.

One of the media's worst and most misleading points of coverage has been on the matter of inflation. And, while our regular, global supply chains have certainly become knotted up, leading to legitimate upward price pressures, much of the added costs for goods and services is now thanks to good old profiteering and price fixing by companies which have been enjoying record profits, even during the worst of the pandemic and subsequent supply chain snarls.

As our guest today, author and financial journalist DAVID DAYEN, Executive Editor of The American Prospect recently reported, "In a time of high inflation, you hear a lot about companies 'passing costs' on to customers. In order for companies to maintain their God-given right to earn a profit, they must raise prices to offset the cost of producing goods and getting them into peoples’ hands. And thanks mostly to the hidden risk, exposed by the pandemic, of neoliberal gospels like just-in-time logistics, deregulation, and offshoring, prices really are going up."

"But," he continues, "there’s something else mixed in with this latest bout of inflation. Companies aren’t just passing costs onto us. With corporations using inflation as a cover for raising their prices, you and I are passing profits onto companies."

Dayen, author of the new book Monopolized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power, details how companies are not only profiteering, price-fixing and colluding to do so, they're actually bragging about it, out loud, on corporate earnings calls. That is sending up both stock prices and profits up for hundreds of the most profitable public corporations, many of whom have monopolistically been allowed to corner their markets, giving consumers few, if any, cheaper alternatives for the products and services they sell. Companies that don't play ball --- like Target, which announced they would not be raising prices --- have been punished, in turn, by Wall Street for daring to do so.

"The problem is that we have a business climate today where people have locked in their customer base. Your customers can't escape, because we have a series of consolidated companies that have a stranglehold on market share, and we don't even know that it's happening. You stroll down a grocery aisle and you see hundreds of items, but you don't know that the same handful of companies have created all of them," Dayen explains today. "And that's why you have large companies like Proctor & Gamble and Unilever saying 'We know we can raise prices on people...and we don't have to worry about any kind of material reaction.'" The same is true, of course, with many other companies, such as the Big Oil cartel, which is raking in record profits as raw materials fall, but failing to reflect those falling costs at the pump.

So, what, if anything, can be done about it? Are Presidents and their Administrations actually able to take actions that might roll back the corporate profiteering? Yes, Dayen explains, at least some, both with the use of the bully pulpit --- which, in the model of JFK, Biden has begun to try and do --- and also with the use of existing anti-trust and anti-price-fixing laws that are still on the books today, if rarely enforced.

"It is price-fixing," Dayen tells me. "But we don't spend a whole lot of time on that anymore in America. It's still unlawful. It's still occasionally prosecuted. And now we do have a different regime at places like the Federal Trade Commission, and the anti-trust division at the Justice Department." He believes that several key, progressive Biden appointments at both may be able to "turn the tide" back against corporate mergers and unapologetic (and potentially unlawful) corporate greed. "There is certainly a faction within the White House that feels like this is a serious problem and that we have to do everything possible to stamp it out," he says, but "they're swimming upstream, as it were."

There is a lot on these points to discuss with Dayen today. As well, we also get his reaction to the announcement today that Biden is withdrawing his nomination of Saule Omarova as Comptroller of the Currency, a key banking regulator, after red-baiting by Republican Senators (she was born in the Soviet Union) and concerns from conservative Democrats that she might be too tough on big banks. He also offers his two cents on our complaints, of late, about the terrible job that corporate media are doing in covering both Joe Biden and the economy.

Finally, after months of pretend complaints by Republicans and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin that spending $1.75 trillion in paid-for taxpayer dollars to expand health care, education, child care, elder care, and fight climate change over the next ten years in the Build Back Better bill is just too much money to spend for a poor country like ours, the House on Tuesday night, in record time, passed its latest annual defense spending bill with a lopsided bi-partisan vote in favor (opposed largely only by progressive Democrats). It'll cost nearly one trillion dollar ($768 billion, $24 billion more than the Biden Administration even asked for) for one single year of military spending --- much of which will go to stuff we never use and/or literally blow up.

Priorities.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: DoJ sues Texas for racial gerrymandering; Omicron more/less dangerous than you may know; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 12/6/2021 6:35pm PT  

Lots to get caught up with on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the stories covered...

  • We hope to cover this more on an upcoming show, but on Monday, not long before air, the Dept. of Justice filed a federal lawsuit against Texas, hoping to block the Lone Star state's newly drawn and racially gerrymandered Congressional and state legislative districts under what is left of the Voting Rights Act. The state is adding two new Congressional districts following the 2020 Census, after gaining some 4 million new residents over the past decade. But, despite growth in the Latino and Black populations comprising 95% of the increase in voters, the state Republicans added two new majority White districts on their new maps, and removed yet another Latino-majority district.
  • Health officials over the past 24 to 48 hours, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have been suggesting that early data on the coronavirus Omicron variant indicates that, while it appears to be much more transmissible than previous variants, it may be less lethal. Though that is the headline you may have seen from the media since the weekend, that doesn't actually tell the full story about what that could mean. We try to fill in at least some of the blanks for the moment before folks get too prematurely excited. In short, if you haven't received a booster yet, now is a great time to do so. And, if you haven't had your initial shots, 6 months ago would have been a great time to do so (but now will suffice.) AND, if you think that already having had COVID --- and, thus, now have antibodies that you believe will protect you --- now is a great time to think again about that. We explain in full on today's show.
  • Finally, we've been reporting --- somewhat anecdotally in recent weeks --- on the bizarre way that the corporate media have been misreporting on the largely robust, and at times record, growth in the economy under President Biden over the past year as the nation attempts to crawl out from under the pandemic. Millions of jobs have been created (more than during the entire Trump Presidency); unemployment has plummeted to 4.2% (falling a remarkable four tenths of a percent in November compared to October and a full two points since the beginning of the year, when experts said it would be 2025 before unemployment fell to 4.2% again); New weekly jobless claims the week before last were the lowest they have been since 1969; etc. Yet, oddly enough, Biden's approval ratings have been driven down in recent months, thanks, in no small part, to often wildly misleading media coverage that continues to lead with areas of perceived weakness in the economy. That, despite the fact that those perceived weaknesses are misleading and/or not weakness in the economy at all.

    Late last week, Washington Post's Dana Milbank wrote that he's noticed the same thing from his colleagues. He commissioned a study to find out if he was right and, as it turns out, he is. "After a honeymoon of slightly positive coverage in the first three months of the year, Biden’s press for the past four months has been as bad as --- and for a time worse than --- the coverage Trump received for the same four months of 2020."

    "Think about that," wrote Milbank. "In 2020, Trump presided over a worst-in-world pandemic response that caused hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths; held a superspreader event at the White House and got covid-19 himself; praised QAnon adherents; embraced violent white supremacists; waged a racist campaign against Black Lives Matter demonstrators; attempted to discredit mail-in voting; and refused to accept his defeat in a free and fair election, leading eventually to the violence of Jan. 6 and causing tens of millions to accept the 'big lie,' the worst of more than 30,000 he told in office....And yet Trump got press coverage as favorable as, or better than, Biden is getting today."

    Now, why would that be? We discuss and open up the phone lines today to listeners who call in with their own thoughts on why the so-called "liberal media" has been doing such a lousy, misleading job in covering Biden's Presidency to date...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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