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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, May 18, 2024
FEC Repubs Vote to Allow Campaign Donor Anonymity: 'BradCast' 5/16/24
Guest: Public Citizen's Craig Holman; Also: Two (generally) encouraging SCOTUS rulings on CFPB funding and a second Black-majority U.S. House district in Louisiana...
'Green News Report' 5/16/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Canadian wildfires expand; Climate change exacerbated extreme heat in Asia; Broadcast media ignored Trump's billion dollar Big Oil quid pro quo; Plus: Biden v. China on EVs...
Previous GNRs: 5/14/24 - 5/9/24 - Archives...
Trump Trial Ketchup: Cohen, a 'Smoking Gun', and 'The Cult of Trump': 'BradCast' 5/15/24
Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, attorney Keith Barber of Daily Kos; Also: MD, NE, WV primary results; Biden, Trump agree to early debates...
LAPD Right-Wing Bias in Violent Response to UCLA Protest Was No Surprise
U.S. law enforcement has long sided with the right against peaceful anti-war, environmental, racial and economic injustice protesters...
Could Ohio Repubs REALLY Keep Biden Off the Ballot?!: 'BradCast' 5/14/24
Also: GOP dirty tricks in WA; More GOP voter suppression in GA; Brighter news from WI and on the slow painful death of 'stare decisis'...
'Green News Report' 5/14/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Canada's fire season erupts, as smoke chokes U.S. Upper Midwest; Record-breaking increase in global CO2 levels; PLUS: MI is newest state to sue Big Oil for climate damages...
Previous GNRs: 5/9/24 - 5/7/24 - Archives...
Recount in Tied U.S. House Primary Highlights Probs in CA Law: 'BradCast' 5/13/24
Guest: Dr. John Maa; Also: Bannon denied; Giuliani fired; Menendez trial begins; Cohen takes stand in Trump's NY criminal trial...
Sunday 'Stormy Weather Continues' Toons
THIS WEEK: Cannon Fire ... Catch and Kill ... Parasites ... Protesting Too Much ... and more, in our latest collection of the week's most turbulent toons...
Facing Down the Threat to American Democracy: 'BradCast' 5/9/24
A veteran reporter speaks out; DHS marshals defenses; Lara lies about ballots; Johnson lies about 'illegals' voting; Also: MTG's spectacular fail; Stormy wins the day; Biden cuts off Israel...
'Green News Report' 5/9/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Tornado outbreaks across U.S.; FL Repubs ban 'climate change'; House Repubs' latest salvo in 'War on Woke Appliances'; PLUS: US culture shift in portrayal of climate reality...
Previous GNRs: 5/7/24 - 5/2/24 - Archives...
Trump Trial Ketchup:
Stormy Takes the Stand: 'BradCast' 5/8/24
Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, attorney Keith Barber of Daily Kos; Also: 'Warning signs' from IN primary results; Blankenship's run in WV...
New Cybersecurity Breach in Coffee County, GA: 'BradCast' 5/7/24
Guest: Election integrity expert Marilyn Marks; Also: Stormy takes the stand in NY; GA's Republican former Lt. Gov. endorses Biden...
'Green News Report' 5/7/24
Relentless rain, flooding in Houston and Brazil; April 2024 was hottest on record; PLUS: Biden unveils billions for rural clean energy, replacing toxic lead water pipes...
2024 Electoral -- and Climate -- Omens: 'BradCast' 5/6/24
From Britain to Panama to Brazil to Houston; Also: Latest in Israel's war on Gaza and in Trump's NY criminal trial...
Sunday 'Self Reflecting' Toons
THIS WEEK: Champions of 'free speech' ... 'Captain Fascism' ... Kristi 'Dog Gone' Noem... and more, in our latest collection of the week's best political toons...
'Green News Report' 5/2/24
Extreme heat, storms grip Asia; Big brands and Big Plastic; Plastic pollution treaty talks end; PLUS: Congress finds Big Oil still trying to deceive the public...
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: Campaign finance expert Craig Holman of Public Citizen; Also: Two (generally) encouraging SCOTUS rulings on CFPB funding and a second Black-majority U.S. House district in Louisiana...
By Brad Friedman on 5/16/2024 6:55pm PT  

It's received almost zero attention or notice, but the Republican appointees to the Federal Election Commission on Thursday tried to overturn a bedrock principle of American democracy: transparency of contributions and the identities of donors to political campaigns. The move caught us here at The BradCast by surprise, but we feel slightly better after hearing that our guest today, one of the nation's foremost experts on campaign finance, also just learned about this unprecedented effort. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

BUT FIRST UP... Two unusual rulings from the packed, stolen and corrupted U.S. Supreme Court. Unusual for several reasons. One, because both oppose rightwing advocacy. Two, because a majority of rightwingers on the Court voted in favor of both of them. And three, because the Court's liberals voted in a bloc against one of them! We try to make sense of all of that for you today in each of the two rulings.

One came late on Wednesday, when the Court invoked the so-called Purcell Principle, which prevents changes to election rules, laws and district maps too close to an election, theoretically in order to avoid confusion by voters or election administrators. But this principle is opportunistically invoked by the rightwing Court when they feel like it --- even it means allowing, for example, the use of a U.S. House District map that has been found unconstitutional by the courts --- and ignored when they don't.

Their unsigned shadow-docket ruling [PDF] on Wednesday, however, invoked Purcell to allow a U.S. House District map that was newly approved by Louisiana's GOP-controlled legislature. It adds a second Black-majority voting district in the state after its previous map was found to be in violation of the Voting Rights Act following a years-long legal fight. But after the new map was approved by the state earlier this year, a group of self-described "non-Black voters" sued, claiming the new map was an unlawful racial gerrymander. A 3-judge panel on the 5th Circuit agreed and ordered a new new map. That is the order that was blocked on Wednesday by SCOTUS, allowing the second Black-majority district to stand as is, at least for 2024, even as the Court's liberal Justices, to the surprise of many, voted in against the rightwing majority. If you're confused as to why, tune in! We explain all!

The other unusual SCOTUS ruling came today, via a 7 to 2 majority opinion [PDF] written by Justice Clarence Thomas(!) and opposed only by fellow rightwing Justices Sam Alito and Neil Gorsuch. The majority opinion rejected an effort by the sleazy payday lending industry to kill the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

The CFPB was the brainchild of Elizabeth Warren during the Obama Administration, before she became a U.S. Senator. It was created on the heels of the subprime mortgage crisis that led to the Great Recession. To avoid industry influence on funding of the federal government's only consumer-oriented agency, it was housed inside of the Federal Reserve and allowed to draw up to $600 million per year for its budget, rather than go through the Congressional appropriations process each year. The payday lender group filed suit to argue the CFPB's funding mechanism ran afoul of the Constitution's Appropriations Clause and, therefore, all of the CFPB's actions since its 2010 founding, including billions of dollars in fines leveed against their industry, must all be rolled back and the agency dissolved.

Thomas, the Court's liberals, and three more of its Republican appointees flatly rejected the lender's case. They held that, though its funding mechanism is somewhat outside the norm, Congress may still change the way it is funded at any time. Also, as the majority opinion notes, there have been other agencies, such as the Customs Service and USPS, which have had similar, non-annual standing appropriations since the founding of the country.

NEXT... On Thursday, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) held an historic vote on a new rule to allow campaign donors to remain anonymous if they claimed that allowing their identities to become public would lead to harassment. The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) already allows some very rare exceptions for members of groups who are shown to have been historically harassed by the U.S. Government itself. Beyond that, however, allowing for campaign donors to remain anonymous challenges the very basis of our system of open, transparent, democratic elections.

We're joined today by CRAIG HOLMAN, longtime government affairs and ethics lobbyist at the non-profit watchdog Public Citizen. He is helping to lead the fight against this startling effort headed up by Trump-appointed FEC Commissioner Alan Dickerson.

The new rule "cuts into the very fabric of a functional democratic society," argues Public Citizen in its public comment against the rule. They note it would "vastly expand the donor [disclosure] exemption far beyond its original purpose, would undermine effective disclosure of the sources of political spending, deprive voters of critical election information, swamp the FEC under a wave of new paperwork, and runs contrary to the core mission of the agency." Other than that, it's great!

"What I really find astounding is that people of all partisan persuasions, Democrats and Republicans, have always believed in disclosure," Holman tells me today. "That's the one pillar of campaign finance law that no one has really come out against. The Republicans may come out against contribution limits, regulation of money in politics, but they always say to have transparency so we know where the money is coming from. This is the very first time that the FEC has encroached upon that principle."

The good(ish) news for now, is that he reports the Commission deadlocked, in a three-to-three vote along partisan lines today. That kills it for the moment. Though, in a second vote today, Holman says they agreed to ask the FEC's General Counsel to study the matter and report back in 75 days. That, he says, is likely to result in a second attempt by Dickerson later this year. Holman says he knows Dickerson to be a "hardcore deregulation" supporter. But "this is the first time the FEC has addressed the actual issue: 'Should we just get rid of disclosure altogether?'"

"Fortunately the FEC deadlocked," Holman says. But "that means three Republicans were saying 'Yes, let's get rid of disclosure!' That's frightening. We only defeated this resolution by a deadlock vote."

Holman has much more on "how absurd" Dickerson's proposal is, and the fact that "it caught us all by surprise." He also fills us in on a petition that he has filed for a new FEC rule that will be voted on next month regarding mandatory disclosure by campaigns when they use deepfake audio and video, created by Artificial Intelligence, to mislead voters.

FINALLY... Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as wildfires continue to explode in Canada; Broadcast media continues to ignore Donald Trump's billion-dollar quid pro quo proposal to Big Oil donors; and Joe Biden takes on China regarding the sale of electric vehicles and solar panels in the U.S...

[NOTE: The BradCast will be off at the beginning of next week due to a family funeral. We'll be back soon!]

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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So what do we do now? Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 4/29/2024 5:47pm PT  

Today we had our first live BradCast out of KPFK's new (if temporary) broadcast facility, where everything is not yet quite in place. Nonetheless, I think we survived it in good order, including some good callers! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

On our last show last week, with two top-notch federal law experts, we went to air just after the U.S. Supreme Court completed hearing the absurd Oral Argument on whether Presidents have "absolute immunity" for any and all crimes they commit while in office. They don't. It's nowhere to be found in the Constitution or anywhere else. But Donald Trump has made that argument in order to delay his federal criminal trial on charges related to having attempted to steal the 2020 Presidential election. The lower courts denied his argument, and yet the corrupted SCOTUS decided to hear it anyway and took their sweet time in doing so.

We spent a fair amount of time on that previous show discussing the ridiculous question that the Supremes claim to be examining --- whether a President is immune "from criminal prosecution for conduct alleged to involve official acts during his tenure in office" --- and how the Justices on the Court questioned the counselor representing Special Counsel Jack Smith and the attorney representing Trump in the disgraced former President's delayed 2020 election interference case.

The decision to hear the case, of course, has prevented that federal trial --- originally scheduled for March --- from moving forward at all. The Court took enough time even scheduling Oral Argument to likely prevent the case on four felony charges from going to trial, much less completing, before America is asked to vote on whether to give the President who tried to steal the 2020 election another term of office in the 2024 election.

But we didn't spend as much time in our coverage last week on just how transparently corrupt this entire exercise was and is, with at least five of the rightwing Justices appearing more concerned about the potential rogue prosecution of a President than about the ability for the American people to bring criminal accountability against an actual rogue President.

The upside --- if there can be one --- is that it seems the scales have fallen from the eyes of most serious Court watchers who had long fooled themselves into believe that, when the rubber meets the road, even the rightwing Justices (three of them appointed by Trump himself) would do the right thing for the nation instead of their party. Thursday's absurd hearing seems to have made it clear to just about every serious person that the Roberts court is now doing little more than running interference for Republican policies in general and the former Republican President in particular. In a word: it is corrupt.

Our long-held position that the stolen and packed rightwing supermajority on the U.S. Supreme Court has been completely corrupted is no longer a particularly radical, or even minority view among serious people. Recognizing that is a first step toward figuring out what to do about it and how, if possible, to overcome it.

We were also able to take some calls from listeners today --- (surprisingly, we were able to do so at the new KPFK location, where the phone system is largely only half in place ) --- regarding what, if anything, can or should be done about any of this as the nation stumbles its way toward November, potential autocracy under a rogue, criminal President and his Court, and whatever dystopian American future may accompany it...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Despite media punditry, the facts, the law, lightning-fast scheduling and an insulated Judiciary may not bode well for the former President...
By Ernest A. Canning on 1/15/2024 11:35am PT  

As a poll-obsessed media focuses on what many see as a seemingly inevitable contest next November between the former and current Presidents, it has become easy to look past the distinct possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court might bring about a swift end to the 2024 Presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump.

By way of a Jan. 5 decision, in Trump v. Anderson, SCOTUS agreed to hear the former President's Jan. 3 legal challenge to the Colorado Supreme Court's ruling, in Anderson v. Griswold. In that case, the high court in CO ruled that, by reason of §3 of the 14th Amendment, Trump is an insurrectionist and, therefore, disqualified from running for the Office of President of the United States. The CO ruling has been stayed pending a final decision from the U.S. Supreme Court.

There are multiple reasons why the SCOTUS decision to hear this landmark case may not bode well for the former President, even if the many pundits are inclined to believe that a majority of Justices on the High Court will concoct some extra-Constitutional reason to allow him off the hook. Neither the facts, the law, nor published opinions advanced by conservative constitutional scholars support a decision to overturn the CO Supremes' landmark ruling.

While widely overlooked by most in the media, the identity of the parties could also be critically important. The Anderson Respondents --- 4 Republicans and 2 independents eligible to vote in the Colorado Republican Primary --- essentially represent the dwindling number of honest conservatives, who make up what might be described as the Liz Cheney Wing of the GOP.

Unlike Congressional Republican cowards, who know better, yet shamelessly embrace the dangerous Orwellian lies of a would-be dictator, GOP-appointed, life-tenured members of the federal judiciary need not fear being removed from the bench during a primary election by the MAGA base. While Trump sycophants in the U.S. House have demonstrated a willingness to initiate baseless, partisan impeachment inquiries, the prospect of impeachment of any Justice who voted to uphold Colorado's §3 disqualification decision, followed by a 2/3 vote to convict in the Senate, are so remote as to not even be worthy of consideration.

The lightning fast scheduling set forth in the Court's order to hear the CO matter reflects a recognition that, if it upholds the state trial court's factual finding that Trump "engaged" in an "insurrection" and the Colorado Supreme Court's legal determination that Trump is therefore disqualified by reason of §3 of the 14th Amendment, SCOTUS can both prevent the former President from running for office and afford voters --- especially Republican primary voters --- the opportunity to make an informed choice between qualified candidates.

The facts of the case --- if not necessarily the media punditry or courage of our Republican-appointed Supremes --- reflect that reality...

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

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We're back! (Sort of.) With former Dep. Asst. AG Lisa Graves of True North Research and attorney Keith Barber of Daily Kos...
By Brad Friedman on 1/4/2024 6:21pm PT  

We're still wrestling and/or dodging COVID on today's BradCast --- and not sure we can pull it off again until everyone tests negative (see this for more details.) But we really wanted to get back on the air for the first time this year after a longer-than-planned holiday break! And so we did. (No promises as to our next air date, however! Working on it. Not easy.) [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Our guests today are former U.S. Deputy Asst. Attorney General LISA GRAVES, now of True North Research, and retired attorney KEITH BARBER ('KeithDB' at Daily Kos), who, like Desi, is also fighting a post-holiday bout with COVID.

After new news today on Donald J. Trump's never-ending corruption, we pick up in 2024 following the several cliff-hangers of 2023. We literally left off at the end of our final show last year, when, just minutes before signing off, the Colorado Supreme Court released its 200-page Opinion [PDF] that the disgraced former President and presumptive GOP front-runner was in violation of Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment, barring insurrectionists from public office. Thus, the SCOCO ordered that he may not appear on the Colorado ballot as a candidate in 2024.

Since then (among a thousand other things), the Maine Sec. of State has similarly barred Trump from the ballot in her state. He has appealed that ruling to the state's Superior Court. and both the Colorado Republican Party and Trump himself have now appealed CO's ruling directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

That, of course, is just one of the many critical cases on which American democracy may hang, as pending either now or soon before the corrupted and disgraced Republican majority at SCOTUS. They will also likely soon be wrestling with Trump's claim --- in Jack Smith's federal case against him related to his attempts to steal the 2020 election --- that Presidents have "absolute immunity" from charges for any crime they commit while serving in office.

Moreover, SCOTUS has already decided to hear a challenge to the charge of Obstruction of an Official Proceeding --- as successfully brought against hundreds of January 6 defendants --- on the basis that the law was originally intended only for white collar financial crimes. In addition to hundreds of J6 defendants charged with and/or convicted of that crime, two of Trump's four counts in his federal indictment for 2020 election interference are based on that same statute.

So, what does all of this mean for Trump and the High Court --- and the American voters! --- as we enter the 2024 election year? Will his corrupt SCOTUS friends (and appointees) use any of those three cases to let Trump off the accountability hook? Will the Court's so-called "conservatives", who have claimed for years to believe in a strict textualist and originalist interpretations of the Constitution, conjure up some excuse to ignore the simple text of the 14th Amendment and the original intent of its post-Civil War framers? Will they allow Trump's March 4 trial date in the Jan. 6 case to slip beyond the election as they determine whether Presidents are allowed to violate any law they wish? Or will they choose instead to "settle all family business" by doing the right thing in the above-noted matters and, thus, end their own Trump-fueled nightmares along with the nation's?

"The same people that went to the courts scores of times trying to keep Obama off the ballot, under the absurd birther argument, are now trying to say the courts can't decide" on the Insurrection Disqualification Clause, observes Barber, a former Republican, today. "They let the courts decide before, and no one argued then that the courts couldn't."

Warns Graves about Trump's argument in favor of Presidential Immunity, it "is literally a recipe for tyranny," as it would allow any President (even the current one, apparently) to commit any crime at any time without possibility of ever facing charges.

Tune in for a bunch of smart thoughts and helpful insights on all of the above today as we head into what Graves aptly describes as a "land of uncertainty" as 2024 unfolds (unravels?) before our very eyes.

Also, while she was unable to join us for today's full show due to her COVID diagnosis, Desi Doyen joins us nonetheless for our first Green News Report of the year today, as we try to begin catching up with a whole bunch of stuff we missed over our longer-than-expected holiday break...which --- depending on how a whole bunch of antigen tests go for both of us in the days ahead --- may or may not continue, whether we like it or not...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Threat of nationwide ban is over, likelihood of newly imposed restrictions on expanded, FDA-approved availability dimmed...
By Ernest A. Canning on 12/21/2023 12:35pm PT  

Believe it or not, we have good news at year's end from our otherwise radicalized and corrupted U.S. Supreme Court regarding abortion rights.

SCOTUS' recent decision [PDF], in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. Food & Drug Adm., to hear the abortion pill case in response to the Petition [PDF] filed by the Biden Administration's U.S. Solicitor General and to grant the Petition [PDF] filed by manufacturer Danco Laboratories --- together with its denial of AHM's Cross Petition [PDF] --- is an encouraging development for reproductive liberty.

The Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine (AHM) is a group of right-wing Christian physicians who sought, and initially obtained, a nationwide ban on the prescription, sale, distribution and use of mifepristone --- a medication first approved by the FDA in 2000 as part of a two-drug regimen to terminate early-stage, intrauterine pregnancies.

According to the FDA's January 2023 Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies [REMS] determination for the drug, mifepristone enables a woman "to end an intrauterine pregnancy through ten weeks gestation," during which it is found to be both 98% effective and safer than Tylenol.

On April 7, 2023, however, Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointed, Texas-based U.S. District Court Judge, issued a preliminary injunction that imposed a nationwide ban on mifepristone. Before being tapped by Trump, Kacsmaryk was an anti-choice activist and is regarded by many as a right-wing religious zealot. His ruling was in direct conflict with a separate decision issued on the same day by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas O. Rice in Washington State. Rice ordered the FDA to keep mifepristone on the shelves of 14 States and the District of Columbia.

Although the conservative 5th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to stay Kacsmaryk's nationwide ban, the U.S. Supreme court, in late April, by way of a 7 - 2 Decision [PDF] (with Justices Alito and Thomas dissenting), granted a stay of both the 5th Circuit and Judge Kacsmaryk's temporary, nationwide ban on mifepristone. By the express terms of the April 21 SCOTUS decision, the stay would remain in effect until the end of the appellate process.

Because the Supreme Court has now granted both the government's and mifepristone manufacturer Danco's petitions for certiorari, at a minimum, that stay will remain in effect until the Supreme Court issues its final ruling.

Kacsmaryk's original total ban rested upon what, even then, seemed like a tenuous AHM effort to evade a six-year statute of limitations with respect to the FDA's initial approval of mifepristone that was issued while Bill Clinton was still in office. The Supreme Court's denial of the AHM cross-petition, which contested the 5th Circuit's ruling [PDF] --- that the effort to contest the 2000 approval is barred by the statute of limitations --- is now final.

Thus, the judicial threat of a nationwide ban on mifepristone no longer exists!

One of the two remaining issues, however, entails whether the 5th Circuit erred in finding that the FDA acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner in its subsequent REMS determinations, years after the 2000 approval. (Those subsequent REMS determinations, based upon extensive medical studies and worldwide practical use, made it easier for patients to obtain access to mifepristone). But before the Supremes can even reach that issue, they face the threshold question as to whether AHM physicians who do not even use or prescribe mifepristone have Article III standing to file their legal challenge to the FDA-approved abortion pill in the first place...

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

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Guest: Pulitzer Prize-winning business columnist Michael Hiltzik; Also: Otis becomes Cat 5 hurricane in 12 hours before slamming Acapulco...
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2023 6:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we cover, once again, the thoroughly corrupted "conservative" cabals in both the U.S. House and U.S. Supreme Court as they flex their ill-gotten powers.

But FIRST...on our Green News Report yesterday, we briefly referenced a storm named Otis in the Pacific as a "tropical storm" heading toward Mexico. It was set to be the fourth major storm in a month to slam its Pacific coast. We also happened to discuss a new study of recent hurricanes in the Atlantic, finding that warming waters due to climate change have increased the speed and strength, along with the rapid intensification, of such storms. That behavior, as it turns out, was on full display last night with Otis, which stunned meteorologists and public officials by spinning up from a tropical storm during yesterday's show to become a major Category 5 hurricane in less than 12 hours, before slamming into Acapulco.

With some one million residents and tourists in the resort city caught largely by surprise, we await news and hope for the best, as power and cell phone coverage has been down most of the day, and major roads are said to be unpassable in the region following the catastrophic storm. In addition to being the fourth major storm to slam the coast, it was also the most powerful ever. Acapulco has never seen higher than a Cat 1 hurricane --- until now.

NEXT...The dysfunctional U.S. House Republican majority was finally able to re-open Congress on Wednesday, after selecting a new House Speaker. It was their fourth try after moving to remove Kevin McCarthy more than three weeks ago. Last night the party nominated --- and crucially, today, actually elected on the House floor --- hard-right Louisiana Congressman Mike Johnson as their new leader.

Johnson is being described today as the "architect" of the GOP's attempt to block the certification of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory in 2020. He is a close all of Donald Trump; an ardent religious opponent of abortion rights, supporting jail time and "hard labor" for those who carry them out; he supports government restrictions on medical care for trans people; and opposes further aid to Ukraine to help defend democracy against imperialistic fascism.

In other words, he shares the same positions as Ohio's Jim Jordan --- whose Speakership was blocked by so-called Republican "moderates" last week --- only more so. Apparently, despite their claims, it wasn't Jordan's positions that those "moderates" objected to. It was the fact that Americans knew about them. The little-known Johnson shares no such baggage. So they're fine with him.

FINALLY...The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear another case in December ginned up by the billionaire-funded, rightwing legal mill that looks for --- or creates out of whole cloth --- aggrieved victims of tyrannical government laws and regulations. From fake website designers worried they may someday have to create a site for a same-sex couple, to red state attorneys general falsely claiming that loan agencies are suffering from President Biden's attempted student loan debt relief program, there seems to be an endless supply of "victims" that the industry is able to come up with to parade before the far-right SCOTUS supermajority that the same rightwing billionaires continue to lavish with luxury gifts, travel, and even just cash money.

But Moore v. United States goes even farther. Its proponents hope for a ruling from their friends on the High Court majority which might knee-cap a future progressive wealth tax, akin to the ones long-proposed by Senators like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Warren's proposal, for example, would add a 2% tax --- two cents of every dollar --- to those with an accrued wealth of more than $50 million. Currently, unrealized gains in the value of real estate portfolios, stocks and bonds, fine art, etc., are not taxed, even at death, allowing for heirs of the richest 0.1% to inherit and continue generational, dynastic fortunes of billions of dollars.

The wealthy can then borrow against those accumulated assets without ever having to cash them in, which would otherwise trigger a capital gains tax (at an already very low rate.) "That is a scam and a scandal," my guest tells me today. Taxing just a portion of that wealth would result in "trillions of dollars of revenue for the U.S. Treasury that could be captured just by instituting a small percentage wealth tax on the richest families [with] more than $50 million in assets." That revenue could then be used for universal childcare, healthcare, education, and pretty much everything else that Republicans like to claim that America is just too broke to be able to afford.

So how will the Supreme Court be able to kill a still non-existent "wealth tax", when the Constitution and long-standing precedent prevents it from issuing advisory rulings on issues that aren't currently resulting in actual harm to any victims?

We're joined today by the L.A. Times' Pulitzer Prize-winning business columnist, investigative journalist and author MICHAEL HILTZIK to explain. He argues the case "stinks to high heaven," citing opponents of this case who charge that the GOP billionaire patrons of Justices Sam Alito and Clarence Thomas "have their fingerprints all over this case."

"The miasma of corruption really is laid all over this case," asserts Hiltzik. "I think it's one of the reasons that legal scholars who are watching this are very concerned that, once again, the Supreme Court's conservative majority is going to step out of its proper limited role, and essentially legislate" from the bench. "When the Supreme Court, or any federal court, actually rules on something that is not a real case or controversy, then almost by definition they are making new law, they are legislating. That is something under the Constitution that they are not supposed to do."

As Hiltzik notes, we are now seeing more and more of that from this corrupted Court. So, how can it possibly be stopped at this point? Hiltzik, who has written best-selling books about FDR's New Deal and the robber barons who originally corrupted the entire system, has some ideas on that today that as well...

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Guest: David Dayen of The American Prospect; Also: Biden forgives another $9B in student loans; Jordan, Scalise to run for Speaker; Republicans try to blame Dems for Repub removal of McCarthy...
By Brad Friedman on 10/4/2023 6:47pm PT  

The corrupt House GOP is in shambles but, for some reason, the corrupt Republicans at SCOTUS appear to have momentarily lost the plot, as all discussed on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

We begin where we left off yesterday, as the historic and stunning news had just broken that far-right Republican members succeeded in their scheme to unseat Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the U.S. House. Moments later, he announced he would not run again for the position. Then, after Republicans adjourned the House until next Tuesday to try and regroup, they immediately began trying to blame Democrats for the Republican coup. They even kicked former Speaker Nancy Pelosi out of her Capitol office, despite her being in California yesterday for Sen. Dianne Feinstein's funeral.

Of course, despite GOP politicians and pundits hoping to blame Dems for their own failure, none of it was evidence of Democratic genius, but of a thoroughly broken Republican party. They may not yet have noticed --- or care to admit it to themselves --- but the party has been collapsing for years under the strain of its own corruption, lack of self awareness, dedication to an autocratic cult leader, and its own toxic mix of of victim-hood, grievance, entitlement, rage and revenge.

Today, far-right Republicans Jim Jordan of Ohio and Steve Scalise of Louisiana tossed their hat into the ring to become the next Speaker. Others may jump in before next week. It may take even more than the record 15 rounds of voting the Republicans needed just nine months ago in January to install McCarthy as their new, if short-lived Speaker.

While the GOP continues to fall apart, the White House continues to fight for Americans by battling back against the corrupted rightwing U.S. Supreme Court. On Wednesday, the Biden Administration announced another $9 billion of student loan debt relief, for a total of $127 billion in loan forgiveness to date for some 3.6 million borrowers. That, as the Administration reformulates a plan to forgive the debt of tens of millions of Americans after SCOTUS made up a reason out of whole cloth earlier this year to reject Biden's previous plan.

But SCOTUS, as their new term got under way on Monday, has already unleashed some surprises. On Monday, the most corrupt Justice on the Court, Clarence Thomas, actually did the right thing and recused himself from a case where he obviously should have. (Are you okay, Clarence?) And on Tuesday, the majority of the Court, including Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh and several other rightwingers, appeared to push back hard against the attempt by Payday Lenders to dismantle the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) entirely on wildly dubious grounds.

The effort to undo the CFPB was actually spearheaded by rightwing extremists on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, arguably the most "conservative" (and corrupt) appellate court in the nation. They used a narrow lawsuit by the lenders to declare the CFPB's entire funding mechanism to somehow be unconstitutional, even though, when the consumer bureau was stood up, as the brainchild of Elizabeth Warren during the Obama Administration (before she went on to become a U.S. Senator), its funding mechanism was similar to many other quasi-independent Executive Branch agencies since the founding of the republic.

Thomas noted during oral argument on Tuesday that he did not see "a Constitutional problem" with the funding mechanism. Kavanaugh observed that Congress could change it "tomorrow" if they had a problem with it. Justice Elana Kagan charged the claims of the case were "flying in the face of 250 years of history." Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, at one point, characterized the challenger's argument to say that "a provision of the Constitution is unconstitutional."

In short, it didn't go well for the lenders or Donald Trump's former Solicitor General who represented them at SCOTUS.

We're joined today to discuss what happened and what it all means --- including for other Executive Branch agencies that the right is similarly hoping to see dismantled, piece by piece, by the Judicial Branch --- by progressive financial journalist, author and Executive Editor of The American Prospect, DAVID DAYEN. He wrote a award-winning 2016 book about the same 2008 financial crisis that spurred the creation of the CFPB.

As Dayen explains today, the agency was created by Congress specifically to protect American consumers against scams by payday lenders, banks, credit card companies and other corporations. It receives its annual funding via the Federal Reserve, with a cap set by Congress. He argues that this case "threatens practically every consumer financial transaction that is made in the country."

After citing dozens of other federal agencies that are not funded via annual appropriates by Congress itself, Dayen asks, "If CFPB is unconstitutional, why wouldn't all these other things also be unconstitutional? In fact, there are plenty of other programs that are not funded by direct annual appropriations by Congress. I'll give you two big ones: Medicare and Social Security. They are mandatory spending. 60% of the federal budget is funded this way. Are they also unconstitutional because they are not exclusively funded by Congress?"

The 5th Circuit, he notes, "made this one ruling trying to help out payday lenders, but it really affects the functioning of daily life." The right has been gunning for the CFPB ever since its creation, and this case was supposed to be the one that finally killed it once and for all. But, Dayen suggests, with the caveat that anything could happen with this Court, after yesterday's argument at SCOTUS, he doesn't see the five votes that would be needed there to kill the CFPB...

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Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: Shutdown averted; CA's new Senator; Nobel prize for COVID vaccine masterminds; Trump in deeper trouble by the day...
By Brad Friedman on 10/2/2023 7:08pm PT  

Longtime listeners of The BradCast likely knew about the big news last Friday better than almost anyone in the nation. Certainly better than those in the corporate media. We'd been reporting on it for years now, so our listeners likely knew the name "Scott Hall" before pretty much everyone else in the country. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.

On Friday, Atlanta bail bondsman Scott Hall was the first among Donald Trump's 18 co-defendants to plead guilty in the Fulton County, Georgia racketeering indictment, detailing Trump's broad conspiracy to steal the state's 2020 Presidential election in the state. Hall was indicted in the RICO scheme [PDF] on five felony charges related to his participation in the January 7, 2021 breach of Georgia's voting system software in rural, Republican-leaning Coffee County. The plot included Trump supporters unlawfully gaining access to the state's proprietary voting system software at the County's elections office, making copies of it and illegally distributing it via the Internet.

The crime first came to light after Hall called longtime Election Integrity champion and frequent BradCast guest MARILYN MARKS, founder of the nonpartisan Coalition for Good Governance, and essentially confessed to the entire scheme. Marks recorded the phone call "confession" and we were the first in the nation to broadcast audio from that phone call last year in May. Marks' group has been leading a long-running lawsuit against GA Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger, seeking to replace the Peach State's wildly vulnerable and unverifiable touchscreen voting systems with verifiable hand-marked paper ballots before next year's Presidential election. Her quick thinking to record Hall's phone call resulted in at least five of the indictments in District Attorney Fani Willis' case against Trump and friends.

"It was one of the more intelligent things I've done, which are not many!," quips Marks today. "But I'm glad I recorded that." She joins us today for the first time since Hall was the first to cop a plea in the case last week to avoid jail time in exchange for testifying against his fellow defendants. He received 12 months of probation and a $5,000 fine.

Marks explains that Hall will have a lot to share with Willis' team. "On mainstream media over the weekend, I heard many commentators saying, 'Well, he's kind of a small player.' Oh no no no --- he is not a 'small player'," she insists. "He knows the ladder, up and down. He was smart to get that deal he did. He got in early. And now Fani Willis has his truthful testimony about a whole range of characters and facts."

Among the many points we discuss with Marks today...

  • What Hall knows about the Coffee County breach, its organization by co-defendant and Trump attorney Sidney Powell, and the genesis of the multi-state plot beginning in Trump's Oval Office in December of 2020.
  • Why MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell flew into tiny Coffee County in his private plane for a few hours in the middle of the night as the County was preparing to fire its Election Director, co-defendant Misty Hampton, in the wake of the breach.
  • Why did all of Hampton's emails from her years as the County's Elections Supervisor supposedly disappear after she was fired? (Though, on today's show, we found one of them! Read on!)
  • Who else was involved in the breach but wasn't indicted by Willis (for example, Lindell and head of the now-defunct "Cyber Ninjas" outfit, Doug Logan) and why?
  • Why has GA SoS Raffensperger been covering up the breach since it happened in early 2021, and why is he still refusing to take any action in response to it? For example, why is his office refusing to install new security patches created by Dominion Voting Systems for the touchscreen voting systems until after the 2024 Presidential election?
  • Why is the state's voting system software breach in Coffee County important to the Coalition's lawsuit against Raffensperger, which seeks to move to hand-counted paper ballots? (The trial in that years-long case, by the way, is finally set to begin in federal court in January.)

"There is nothing to suggest that [Raffensperger] is remotely interested in learning what happened," Marks argues today. "He has still not started an investigation of the implications of this breach --- who was involved, how the administrative rules fell apart --- and has not done any kind of work on the security implications of it. It is absolutely shameful."

That's just the tip of the iceberg today which also includes another 'BradCast' first: We share the long sought after invitation letter allegedly sent by Hampton to the MAGA breachers on December 31, 2020, giving them the greenlight to come to the Coffee County Board of Elections office. "Y'all are welcome in our office any time," writes Hampton in the brief letter that Powell had claimed would somehow exonerate her, and in which Hampton goes out of her way to mention being in accordance with "Georgia Law" at least three different times, for some reason, in a single paragraph letter.

Tune in for all of that and much more today, including several news headlines on the federal government shutdown averted over the weekend, thanks to Democrats, and the price GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy may now pay for that; California Gov. Gavin Newsom's selection of political consultant, labor leader and Emily's List President Laphonza Butler to complete the term of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who died late last week; Today's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine awarded to two researchers who invested decades into developing the technology that would eventually become used to develop the COVID vaccines in record time in 2020; And several pieces of news from several different ongoing cases against Trump and his fellow co-conspirators, including his surprise appearance at the first day of New York state's $250 million civil fraud suit against him in Manhattan.

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Democracy can reverse the damage wrought by corrupt, right-wing Supreme Court ideologues...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/7/2023 9:49am PT  

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that."
-- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

When our corrupted U.S. Supreme Court, in June, handed down their closing opinions for last year's term, it became clear that we are facing a dark judicial hour in this nation.

Dark for women whose reproductive liberty and very lives have been placed at risk; dark for those who are drowning in seemingly insurmountable student debt; dark for those in the LGBTQ+ community who are seeing their very existence and right to medical care being challenged; dark for young African-American students hoping to acquire a higher education so as to overcome our nation's legacy of systemic racism; dark for the families of the ever-growing number of victims of mass shootings.

Our judicial institutions, for the moment, are still holding when it comes to accountability for the scoundrel who served as our 45th President. But, for too many others, the High Court has wrought a darkness brought on by the corrosive influence of the billionaire class and the "dark money" that billionaires and corporations use to corrupt our political and legal institutions.

That darkness comes courtesy of the Supreme Court's infamous 2010 Citizens United decision. It is a darkness also facilitated by political chicanery resulting in a Republican Party, which lost the popular vote in seven of the last eight Presidential Elections, packing a "corrupt" supermajority of six right-wing ideologues onto the nine-member High Court.

Their dark, radical interpretations of the Rule of Law have done more than simply endanger democracy's survival. By inventing a Second Amendment right of an individual to bear arms unrelated to military service in a State's "well-regulated" militia, the Roberts Court has become "destructive" of the first of the "unalienable Rights" listed in our nation's Declaration of Independence --- the right to "Life"!

Early last month, for example, CBS published a jaw-dropping U.S. statistic, citing "26 mass shootings in the first five days of July."

Yet, it is the dark and oppressive nature of the immensely unpopular decisions handed down by six unelected "radicals in robes", that, ironically, may help to facilitate a new dawn. The bright side of their decisions can be found in an incensed electorate, whose approval of the Court, as presently constituted, has plunged to a dismal 29%.

Democracy, as the late British MP Tony Benn described it, is "more revolutionary than socialist ideas." It is the light that can drive out the darkness.

The very existence of public revulsion towards the dark turn by the Court in recent years, such as overturning abortion rights and much more, make a 2024 Blue Tsunami possible. If the source of the darkness lies in the decisions of a corrupt and radicalized Supreme Court, then Democrats must convey a clear and coherent message that a vote for their candidates will serve to restore the light...including with reform of the Court itself...

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And his inability to read the simple text of the U.S. Constitution; Also: Callers ring in on him, Trump and other democracy v. autocracy issues...
By Brad Friedman on 7/31/2023 6:07pm PT  

Whenever we're able to open up the phones to callers on The BradCast, I invite listeners to ring in and disrupt all of my plans for the day. Happily, they took me up on the offer today! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Thus, my plan for the second half of today's show --- to focus on Trump's latest criminal charges (Which ones? Take your pick!) --- was largely waylaid by folks who wanted to discuss both him and the topic of my monologue in the first part of today's show regarding the wildly corrupt U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Samuel Alito.

On Friday, the Wall Street Journal's editorial page ran parts of fawning 4-hour interview with Alito, in which he falsely claimed: "No provision in the Constitution gives [Congress] the authority to regulate the Supreme Court-period."

Perhaps Alito has never read the U.S. Constitution? For example, he must have missed the part (Article III, Section 2) which reads: "[T]he supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact...and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make." [Emphasis mine.]

As Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) pointed out on CNN over the weekend in response to Alito's B.S., Alito arguably owes his seat to the fact that Congress has regulated the number of seats that are on the Court (and have changed that number many times over the years) since the Constitution was founded! Of course, Alito likely also hates the fact that Congress, after Watergate, as per the Constitution, created legislation (regulations!) requiring annual financial disclosures by SCOTUS Justices. As ProPublica recently detailed, Alito has flouted that legislation by failing to disclose his luxury travel funded by GOP megadonors and other Republican ideologues.

Arguably worse, however, is the fact that one of the authors of the WSJ piece is attorney David Rivkin. He is currently representing the far-right Leonard Leo before the U.S. Senate, which is seeking Leo's testimony as part of their consideration of reforming the corrupted Court. Leo is the longtime head of the Federalist Society, which has spent decades shaping the federal judiciary --- including SCOTUS --- to the liking of billionaire rightwing ideologues.

Even more shameful than that, Rivkin currently has a case pending before the High Court next term! Moore v. U.S. is likely to result in a landmark ruling that could establish whether or not a wealth tax --- long sought by progressive Dems and opposed by rightwing ideologues --- is Constitutional or not.

And yet, Rivkin arguably gave Alito something of value --- presumably for free --- in his four-hour softball interview with the Justice, headlined "Samuel Alito, The Supreme Court's Plain Spoken Defender," in which Rivkin and his co-writer (WSJ Editorial Page Editor James Taranto) fluffed him up with a 2,400-word puff piece including remarks praising Alito, for instance, for his "candor that is refreshing and can be startling."

I'm sure Sammy appreciates it and will remember the favor when it's time to decide Moore v. U.S next year. That's because Alito is damned near as corrupt as Clarence Thomas and don't even get me started here on him today. (I had a few words for the corrupted Clarence on today's show, however.)

After that, my plans to cover Donald Trump's latest criminal problems and two recent Court losses (one today, one last Friday) in the second part of the show, as mentioned, were largely waylaid by callers. And happily so! We had some very good ones! Enjoy!...

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The fight against propaganda, denial, corruption and racism continues...
By Brad Friedman on 6/29/2023 6:37pm PT  

We wrap up our last BradCast before standing down next week with a bunch of disparate stuff, both good and bad, and even a song to help you whistle as you leave the theater before next week's holiday. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

WE DID START THE FIRE: And we're also responsible for the smoke from hundreds of them in Canada, now threatening the health of more than 100 million Americans. We're also responsible for the record, weeks-long deadly, triple-digit heat wave in Texas now spreading north and east and touching off deadly severe storms along with it. Of course, those who watch Fox "News" and the read their deceptive Fox Weather website will never know who's to blame for it all and who is endangering their lives and those of their great grand-kids. But keeping their viewers and readers dumb and disinformed is the whole purpose of the Fox fake news project. Sadly, we all pay the price.

'CEASEFIRE AND NEGOTIATE!': Happily, it seems the 24-hour mutiny in Russia last weekend --- wherein longtime Vladimir Putin-ally, Yevgeny Prigozhin, gave the game away by declaring that their imperialist invasion of Ukraine was built on lies and was never about either "demilitarizing" or "de-Nazifying" Ukraine --- has helped the scales fall from a bunch of Americans' eyes. New polling from Reuters/Ipsos since the Prigozhin's short-lived insurrection finds a nearly 20-point bump since last month in American support for Joe Biden's policy of helping Ukraine defend themselves. That includes majorities in both major parties as well as independents. That's very good news. And, while I'm unlikely to reach many of the duped rightwingers who have fallen hook, line and sinker for Putin (and Trump) propaganda about the conflict, I am hoping that I might still be able to help some of those on the supposed anti-war Left who have fallen for the same propaganda. I'm talking largely about the "ceasefire and negotiate!" crowd. A few words for them today in hopes of helping a least a few of them understand how they have also been played by the same, authoritarian sources as the rightwingers.

'THIS IS NOT A NORMAL COURT': President Biden was right about that today, at least. We knew after all of the surprisingly good rulings of late from our otherwise corrupted, stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court majority --- on issues of democracy and voting, in particular --- that it was almost certainly too good to last. As the high court's 2022 term comes to a close, they returned to their corrupted form on Thursday by overturning more than 40 years of precedent to bar Affirmative Action policies in college admissions for all private and public colleges and universities (while exempting military academies for some odd reason). Though it's not easy, we try to make sense of the Court's dizzying 237-page ruling [PDF], including multiple concurrences and dissents, as the far-right activists on the bench --- and those that put them there --- get to cross another long-term project off their list today.

SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES: And lungs, from the record shattering Canadian wildfires. At least if you live in any of a whole bunch of states in the mid-west or east this week. That, and more climate news, both good and bad, as Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report.

THEY DEFINITELY DIDN'T START THE FIRE: But they did, after 34 years, put all news words to it! And not a moment too soon, in my opinion! Yours may vary. Either way, we're happy to close out today's final show before taking off next week over the Independence Day holiday, with Fall Out Boy's brand-new version of a 1989 Billy Joel classic...

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Guest: Former DoJ, U.S. Senate, U.S. Court system official Lisa Graves of True North Research; Also: Texas heat; Ridiculous House GOP majority...
By Brad Friedman on 6/22/2023 5:52pm PT  

On today's BradCast, it's yet another "tour de force" of rightwing U.S. Supreme Court Justice corruption by billionaire Republican megadonors. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, FIRST UP, a few words on the climate change-intensified heatwaves continuing to pulse through Texas and threatening to max out its rickety privatized electric grid, as officials attempt to conserve their way out of the crisis and as the state's cruel GOP Governor Greg Abbott enacts a big government ban on local ordinances mandating water breaks for construction workers.

Also, a few thoughts today on the indescribably dumb GOP House majority, hellbent on shooting themselves, repeatedly, in their collective feet --- over and over again --- and why they've decided to take out their impotency, frustration and failure, at least this week, on the very effective Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA).

THEN, the investigative team at non-profit news outlet ProPublica strikes again this week. On the heels of recent blockbuster reports detailing decades of corruption by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas via hundreds of thousands of dollars in undeclared luxury vacations and travel, gifts, real estate deals and cash payments from rightwing megadonor Harlan Crow (and the Federalist Society's Leonard Leo), it was apparently Justice Sam Alito's time in the barrel this week.

As ProPublica's Justin Elliott, Joshua Kaplan and Alex Mierjeski documented Wednesday, Alito enjoyed private jet travel to a fancy Alaskan fishing excursion some years ago courtesy of rightwing billionaire megadonor Paul Singer. The hedge fund "vulture capitalist" would go on to repeatedly sing the praises of his fishing buddy over the years as "a model Supreme Court Justice" when introducing him at rightwing fundraisers, even as Singer had repeated business before the Court. Alito never declared the subsidized travel with Singer on annual disclosure forms, nor did he recuse himself from SCOTUS cases in which Singer would eventually reap billions of dollars.

Sound familiar? It should. In both Alito and Thomas' cases, the blooming friendships between Justices and billionaires was fostered and massaged by Leo, longtime leader of the far-right Federalist Society, which has been shaping the federal judiciary via Republican Presidents --- and matchmaking between Justices and wealthy benefactors --- for decades now.

We're joined today by the great LISA GRAVES, who previously served as Deputy Asst. A.G. at the Justice Department, Chief Counsel for nominations in the US Senate, and as a Deputy Chief of the Article III Judges Division for the U.S. court system. She now rakes muck as the founder of Truth North Research, helping to expose the toxic and corrupting effect of unbridled rightwing money poured into our political and judicial system from those like Crow, Singer, Leo and the Koch network.

Graves responds to a number of claims made by Alito in his unusual op-ed published by rightwing billionaire Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal this week, where he chose to prebut ProPublica's reporting on Tuesday, instead of either responding to the journalists questions or doing so through the Court's communications office. Graves describes his remarks in the Journal as "extraordinarily deceitful and deceptive."

"Everyone knows that private jet travel is not permissible as a gift of supposed 'hospitality'," she explains. "The hospitality exception in those long-standing gift rules is basically meant to cover things like your high school friend throws you a party for your birthday at their house. Not this sort of post-appointment currying of favor by super-rich people subsidizing a luxury lifestyle through fabulous trips."

She argues the subsidized travel violates the law, along with Alito's failure to disclose it on his annual financial statements. There's false statements on those disclosure forms in which they [both Alito and Thomas] assert there's nothing more to disclose, that they've disclosed everything that they've been obligated to, and they clearly haven't."

"One of the things that this reveals is that the Court actually has no enforceable ethical code which would require the Justices to recuse themselves if there is bias or the appearance of bias, similar to the language that's in the Code of Conduct for US judges that does not apply to the Supreme Court, that they've chosen to not have any enforceable mechanism for."

"If an ordinary person would think that this sort of thing would create bias, a judge basically has an obligation to disclose it and/or to recuse themselves from cases where that bias might be raised," she says. But those rules only apply to the lower courts. When it comes to SCOTUS, the decision of whether to recuse is left entirely up to each Justice.

Graves also offers insight on the corrosive effect of "travel agent" and "matchmaker" Leo, who wields power with donors by hooking them up with Justices for "luxury travel subsidized by billionaires who have business before the Court."

When it comes to Alito, "this is a man who has acted as though he is the keeper of the kingdom in terms of strictly reading the Constitution, claiming this 'strict constructionist' or so-called 'originalist' approach, a faux neutral approach to the law. This is the man who orchestrated the overturning of almost 50 years of legal precedent on abortion. If this guy can't read the actual statute and regulations which expressly describe how [private] jets don't count as hospitality, how can we possibly have any confidence --- and I think most people don't --- that he would act impartially to read the Constitution or the case law around abortion or other issues that he doesn't like?" --- Or, other issues that his billionaire benefactors don't like.

FINALLY, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, which begins with astonishing heat in Texas and India and ends on an even more fowl note...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Former AL Gov. Don Siegelman; Also: A smoky climate crisis wake-up call; Biden EPA upgrades Jackson, MS water system; Clarence Thomas delays annual financial disclosure for some reason...
By Brad Friedman on 6/7/2023 6:36pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Amidst all the madness, we take a moment to revisit a continuing stain on the nation and what can be done about it, with a longtime friend of this program. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

FIRST UP, however, a few news headlines...

  • The cost of our climate crisis strikes home for a huge swath of the nation, as smoke from hundreds of Canadian wildfires chokes American states from Minnesota to New York to the Ohio Valley to the Carolinas.
  • Joe Biden's EPA announces it is sending $115 million to Jackson, Mississippi to begin repairing the city's long deteriorating water system. It's the first of some $600 million Congress has allocated to support long-overdue water infrastructure upgrades in the state's capital city, where more than 80% of the population is Black and drinking water supplies have repeatedly failed in recent years.
  • The corrupt U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has asked for another 90 days before filing his annual financial disclosures, following months of brutal investigative reporting revealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of his undisclosed luxury vacations, real estate deals and more with billionaire GOP megadonor Harlan Crow.

THEN, we're joined by Alabama's former Democratic Governor DON SIEGELMAN, who recently penned an op-ed at Washington Post with the state's former Republican Governor Robert Bentley. As explained in their piece, both men have come to "regret" overseeing executions during their time as the state's chief executive after witnessing, first hand, "the flaws in our nation's justice system" during their own prosecutions.

Siegelman discusses one death penalty case in particular, the 2000 execution of Freddie Lee Wright, which he says he is now "personally haunted by", telling me today that Wright "should never have been charged with capital murder in the first place. He was exonerated by a jury, 11-1 voted to acquit him of this crime. Then the D.A. came back and struck Blacks from the jury and got a conviction."

There are many other such cases, and he details a few of them. In fact, while AL currently has 167 people on death row, both Bentley and Siegelman write that "at least" 146 of them should have their death sentences commuted. Siegelman tells me he believes all of them should be spared from the barbaric practice of state execution.

He and Bentley are calling for several reforms of the criminal justice system, particularly as it applies to the death penalty. Siegelman details reforms he seeks for the secret Grand Jury system and the outrage of "judicial overrides" that allowed judges to overrule juries to issue death sentences and the lack of unanimous verdicts required for sentencing a convicted criminal to death.

Siegelman also discusses the politics of the death penalty, including during the time that he held the power to block executions as Governor. We discuss that awesome and horrible power as it is wielded by government officials today, even after all that we now know about the racial injustices of a Jim Crow era system that disproportionately targets people of color and has been found to have been exercised against innocent people in the cases of at least 12% of those who have been put to death.

"Here we are in 2023, still using a method that was devised after the Civil War as a way of thwarting a Black juror. The white power structure at the time had a unanimous verdict. But they said, 'No, you know, with Blacks being able to be on a jury, we can't risk not being able to put somebody to death when we want to, so let's go with a non-unanimous jury.' So that's where this relic of the Jim Crow era came from. It was purely a racist process."

"It is just wrong, certainly morally wrong, for Alabama or for any other state. Now Florida has even lowered the bar," notes Siegelman, citing a bill recently signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis. "Alabama has a 10-2 verdict. Florida has an 8-4 verdict, to make it even easier to put people to death by this relic of the 1870s."

"Until I was actually convicted of something that didn't exist except in the minds of the prosecutors, I thought that our system would somehow or another work itself out and be fair," he tells me. "But at the moment that I heard the word 'guilty' from the foreman of my jury, I said a prayer. It was instantaneous, more like a flash, asking God to forgive me because I remembered setting execution dates as Attorney General. And I remembered those that came before me while I was Governor asking that their sentences be commuted."

"But it wasn't even then that I realized how perverted our system of justice is. If in everything there is a purpose, or in every situation one should find a purpose, it was as if God was telling me, 'Okay, Governor, you see what's wrong. Now go fix it.'"

NOTE: We have covered Gov. Siegelman's personal story many times over the past two decades, before, during and after his time as a political prisoner as he was targeted for prosecution by a corrupt Republican cabal, including Karl Rove, state officials, and a federal judge who was eventually forced to resign after being arrested for beating his wife. Alabama's Governor from 1999 to 2003 and the only Democrat to serve in every statewide office, Siegelman tells his story in full in his 2020 book, STEALING OUR DEMOCRACY: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Nation.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Former federal prosecutor Randall D. Eliason; Also: How DeSantis robbed freedoms and weaponized Big Government 'cancel culture' in FL...
By Brad Friedman on 5/24/2023 6:47pm PT  

After more than twenty years of rolling back corruption and bribery statutes, is it any wonder, as our guest on today's BradCast observed in his latest op-ed, that the U.S. Supreme Court is now "blind to its own corruption"?

BUT FIRST, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is announcing his 2024 Presidential run today, and corporate media outlets are focusing on his horse race with the disgraced former President. We mark the day, however, by focusing on several of the latest victims of DeSantis' Big Government weaponization against people of color and the LGBTQ+ community. That, by a guy whose 2022 re-election slogan in Florida was, laughably, "Freedom Lives Here".

DeSantis deserves credit for leading the way for other, similarly gerrymandered and GOP-controlled states which have begun to adopt many of the same, hateful, Big Government "cancel culture" statutes that, in Florida, have resulted in banned books, muzzled teachers, lost rights, vile threats against those who support freedom and travel warnings issued for those visiting the Sunshine State.

Today, the effort is playing out in terroristic threats against Target employees; an investigation of a Florida grade school teacher for showing an animated Disney film to her class; and the removal of The Hill We Climb --- a poem by Amanda Gorman which she read at Joe Biden's 2021 inauguration --- from a grade school library. That's just a sampling of some of the latest victims of DeSantis' cruel agenda during his tenure as Governor.

As California's Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted in response to Target's removal of items from its Pride Month collection under threats from the MAGA right, "Wake up America. This doesn’t stop here. You’re black? You’re Asian? You’re Jewish? You’re a woman? You’re next."

THEN, it's back to the seemingly never-ending, decades-long corruption of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and some similar, recently revealed corruption by Justice Neil Gorsuch and even Chief Justice John Roberts who, by and large, refuses to do anything about any of it.

There's an explanation for that, argues RANDALL D. ELIASON, George Washington University Law School professor and former chief of the fraud and public corruption section at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C.

"Over more than two decades, the Supreme Court has gutted laws aimed at fighting corruption and at limiting the ability of the powerful to enrich public officials in a position to advance their interests. As a result, today wealthy individuals and corporations may buy political access and influence with little fear of legal consequences, either for them or for the beneficiaries of their largess," Eliason argued in a New York Times op-ed over the weekend, adding: "No wonder Justice Thomas apparently thought his behavior was no big deal."

Today, Eliason tells me, "the Court itself has contributed to a legal environment over the last twenty years, where, at least as far as the Court is concerned, many of the things that are going on are not, in fact, corrupt, because they've taken this extremely narrow view of what corruption is." Essentially, he explains, cases such as Citizens United v. FEC; United States v. Sun-Diamond Growers; Skilling v. U.S.; and McDonnell v. U.S. have all greatly narrowed the definition of corruption to largely nothing less than a very specific quid pro quo bribe where a politician promises a very specific official act in exchange for payment.

That means, as some on the Court may now see it, long-term relationships where a GOP megadonor like Harlan Crow has sponsored hundreds of thousands of dollars in undisclosed luxury travel for Thomas, or purchased his mother's house, improved it, and allowed her to live there rent-free to this day, or even paying private school tuition for Thomas' grand-nephew, is not seen as "corruption" if it wasn't in return for a specific thing. Even Thomas' wife Ginni can receive tens of thousands of dollars in payoffs by far-right activists, and it's not considered corruption.

"These long term relationships, where wealthy donors can shower a politician or a Supreme Court justice with huge gifts over years --- that's okay. At least it's not criminal, unless prosecutors can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that one particular gift was because of one particular thing they did," Eliason explains, detailing how the Court has cloistered itself into a world where all of this is somehow okay.

"The reality of corruption is usually much more subtle that that, and pervasive than that. It's a long-term 'You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours' kind of arrangement. 'I'll give you these fancy trips and gifts and things over time, and then when things happen to come up that I'm interested in, you'll do the right thing for me, and we don't even have to talk about it. We don't have to have an explicit deal, it's just an understanding between us.' That's what real-world corruption is like. But for more than twenty years, the Court has issued a series of opinions that have largely put arrangements like that --- like the arrangement between Harlan Crow and Clarence Thomas --- out of the reach of the law."

We've got a lot to discuss on these matters with Eliason today, including his suggestions for how Congress could fix this clearly broken and corrupt system, even as the Chief Justice suggests (inaccurately) that doing so would somehow be a violation of the Constitution's Separation of Powers doctrine. Ironically enough, if Congress finally does manage to legislate ethics reform for the Court and someone did challenge it as unconstitutional, guess who would get to be the final arbiter? "I wonder how they are going to rule?," quips Eliason...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: 'Blue Wave' in NE; OH, MO Repubs gaming ballot initiatives; DeSantis suppressing more FL voters; Proud Boys guilty; Trump's NYT suit tossed; More gob-smacking Clarence Thomas corruption...
By Brad Friedman on 5/4/2023 6:53pm PT  

There was far too much news to fit into one BradCast today. We tried to do it anyway. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

Among our many stories...

  • It was difficult to notice this week, but there was yet another very good election day on Tuesday for non-Rightwingers, including more bad news for MAGA World in several local contests around the country. In Lincoln, Nebraska, incumbent Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird, supported by Democrats, defeated a well-funded opponent supported by the state's billionaire Republican U.S. Senator (and former Governor) Pete Ricketts and fellow billionaire publisher Thomas Peed. Gaylor Baird won by nearly 10 points. Apparently, ads describing Lincoln, the state capital, as a dystopian hellhole did not go over well with voters...in Lincoln.
  • A MAGA election conspiracist and local elections clerk named Stephanie Scott (pictured above), was tossed out of her job in a rare recall election on Tuesday in Adams Township, Michigan in Hillsdale County, one of the state's most Republican-leaning areas. Scott is under state criminal investigation after refusing to turn over her town's computer vote tabulator in 2021, which she believed held evidence of fraud revealing Democrats had stolen the state's Presidential election in 2020. That, in a town that Trump/Pence won with 75% of the vote that year. (If the story sounds familiar, see Tina Peters, former Mesa County, Colorado Clerk, who has since been tossed out of her job and indicted on 10 counts.) This appears to be part of the multi-state MAGA conspiracy to breach voting systems, hatched at the Trump White House in December 2020, as we detailed again last week. Scott was defeated by a 2 to 1 margin on Tuesday by an independent challenger running on the slogan "Make Adams Township Boring Again".
  • But, if ya can't beat 'em, suppress their vote! That seems to be the Republican plan for "winning" elections from here on out, apparently. After losing statewide ballot initiatives that would have restricted abortion rights last year, including in so-called "red" states like Kansas and Kentucky, the GOP is now hoping to game the ballot initiative process itself in several states. The most immediate and noteworthy is Ohio, where supporters of reproductive freedom hope to place an initiative on the ballot in November to establish a state Constitutional right to abortion. But Republicans, who just four months ago adopted a statute ending costly August elections, are now moving to place an amendment on the ballot in a $20 million Special Election in August that would raise the requirement for adoption of Constitutional Amendments from a simple majority vote to a required 60% for passage. (Ironically, the GOP lawmakers own Amendment, if voted on in August, would only require 50% to be adopted.) Other gerrymandered GOP states are now attempted to do the same thing, including Missouri, where Republican lawmakers there are doing something arguably even more insidious in their own attempt to fool voters into supporting their anti-democracy measure.
  • And then there's Florida, where democracy goes to die. The state legislature has just passed a one of their final gifts to beleaguered Presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis: a 96-page law that will, among other things, severely restrict voter registration by nonpartisan third-party organizations. As recent research finds, Black and Latino voters are more than five times more likely to be registered by third-party groups than White voters. DeSantis is expected to sign the legislation soon as one of his last official acts before declaring his 2024 candidacy. It will be the third year in a row that Sunshine State Republicans have adopted new voting restrictions.
  • A D.C. jury on Thursday convicted four members of the far-right, racist militia group, Proud Boys, of seditious conspiracy, obstructing an official proceeding, conspiring to impede Congress from performing its duties, obstructing law enforcement and other federal crimes related to their participation in Donald Trump's Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. The charges for conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding both carry sentences of up to 20 years in prison. Their former leader, like Donald Trump, was not even at the Capitol during the riot, but was among those found guilty. All of that good news is likely very bad news for the former President and the specific federal charges likely to soon be brought against him.
  • In still more bad news for Trump today, his lawsuit against the New York Times and several of their reporters, charging an "insidious plot" to obtain his tax records resulting in Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting by the paper, was tossed out by a New York judge on Wednesday. Moreover, the judge --- finding Trump's claims "fail as a matter of constitutional law" and that the paper's newsgathering efforts were "the very core of protected First Amendment activity" --- ordered Trump to pay all of the attorneys fees, legal expenses and other associated costs for the Times and their reporters.
  • ProPublica strikes again. First they revealed that GOP megadonor Harlan Crow showered U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for decades with hundreds of thousands of dollars in luxury vacations which he unlawfully failed to disclose. Then they reported that Crow had actually purchased Thomas' mother's house from him, made nearly $40,000 worth of improvements to it, and has allowed the corrupt Justices mom in it, rent-free, ever since. None of that was ever disclosed by Thomas either, in violation of the law. And now, on Wednesday, they did it again. Their latest bombshell scoop documents how Crow's company paid for years of tuition to private schools for Thomas' grandnephew who the nation's longest serving Justice says he raised "as a son" since taking legal custody at the age of 6. The tuition for the boy, now in his 30s, amounted to approximately $100,000. Congressional Republicans continue to applaud the unspeakably corrupt Thomas.
  • Finally, as you haven't had enough already today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report to detail the unprecedented heat wave in Spain, as Italy's rivers dry up; the EU's passage of "the biggest climate protection law of all time"; and New York's adoption of a landmark law banning natural gas hookups in new building construction...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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