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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, November 27, 2021
Sunday 'Friendsgiving' Toons
PDiddie's latest festive collection! Because that's what toons are for...
There'd Be No Trucker Short-age If Industry Took Care of Drivers: 'BradCast' 11/19/21
Guest: Nicolas Rivero of Quartz; Also: House passes BBB; VA school board unbans books; Recounts will determine control of VA House...
Digging Deeper Into the Case for Homicide Charges Against Both Trump AND Pence: 'BradCast' 11/18/21
Also: COVID rising again before holidays; OK clemency for Julius Jones...
'Green News Report' 11/18/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Deadly extreme flooding in Pacific Northwest; Admin's controversial oil and gas lease sale; F.T.C. to probe Big Oil corruption; PLUS: Biden promotes American-made EVs in Detroit...
Previous GNRs: 11/16/21 - 11/11/21 - Archives...
Deflating Inflation Panic: 'BradCast' 11/17
Guest: The Intercept's Jon Schwarz on how it's misreported, good for many workers, bad for big banks; Also: 3+ years for 'QAnon Shaman'; Gosar censured; Biden' Big Oil probe; Sanders on 'Defense'...
The Unmistakable Drumbeat of Authoritarianism: 'BradCast' 11/16/21
Ominous warnings: Gerrymanders continue; GOPers v. GOPers; More on the attempt to steal 2020; Book 'burning'; Trump's COVID cover-up...
'Green News Report' 11/16/21
U.N. climate summit ends with progress, compromise; Coal 'down' but not 'out' at Glasgow; PLUS: Biden signs landmark bipartisan infrastructure deal into law...
Long Roads to Accountability, Climate Action, Infrastructure: 'BradCast' 11/15
Bannon surrenders; COP26 concludes; Biden signs landmark, roads, bridges, enviro bill...
Sunday 'Big Bird, Little Bird' Toons
Flip on over to PDiddie's toon collection this week for the latest signs of the times...
Sports, Politics, Race and Florida:
'BradCast' 11/12/21
Guest host Nicole Sandler with FL Guber-natorial Candidate Annette Taddeo and The Nation's Dave Zirin; Also: BANNON FINALLY INDICTED!...
'Green News Report' 11/11/21
COP26 crunch time; Surprise US/China climate deal; Big EV agreement; Renewables rise in U.S.; PLUS: Nations under-reporting emissions, new analysis finds...
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...


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guests: John Brakey of AUDIT USA and Ray Lutz of Citizens Oversight from inside the 'secret' rightwing tally and forensic probe of 2.1M ballots from 2020, why there's so little transparency, and why it all matters..
By Brad Friedman on 4/28/2021 4:44pm PT  

Okay. Buckle up for today's BradCast special coverage. Seriously. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

As you've almost certainly heard by now, the Republicans in the Arizona state Senate have contracted [PDF] a rightwing tech outfit with no experience in elections or voting systems --- calling themselves Cyber Ninjas --- to oversee an unusual, controversial hand-count audit of the 2.1 million hand-marked paper ballots cast in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona's 2020 Presidential and Senatorial elections. Apparently, the only elections the Senate GOP believe may have been stolen by Dominion Voting Systems tabulation computers or by stuffing ballot boxes were the two statewide elections each won by Democrats for the first time in decades.

The Florida-based Cyber Ninjas are being paid $150,000 tax-payer dollars for this post-election investigation, while collecting an unknown amount of dark money from unknown sources. They have, to date, kept the entire process pretty much a secret, locking out the public and media alike from overseeing the (at least partially) tax-payer funded process inside the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix. The only window into the process for the public, by and large, up until now, have been from 9 video cameras streaming wide shots from different angles of whatever is going on on the main floor of the arena.

The Cyber Ninjas' leader, a guy by the name of Doug Logan, had promoted false, often ludicrous and evidence-free claims of fraud following the 2020 election, asserting that the election must have been stolen from Donald Trump. So, of course, the Arizona GOP Senate hired him to run this effort. In this case, the results in question in Maricopa --- a state which Biden reportedly won by just over 10,000 computer-scanned votes (less than half of a percentage point) --- were certified by the five-person GOP-majority Maricopa County Board of Supervisors (4 Rs and 1 D), the state's Democratic Sec. of State and Arizona's Republican Governor. It's only the state's far-right GOP Senate --- and millions of Trump supporters --- who believe the election must have been stolen for Joe Biden.

Still, some GOPers have their doubts. And we're always in favor of the public being able to check the results of hand-counted paper ballots for themselves whenever there are any questions --- justified or not --- regarding the results of any election, so that all voters can have confidence in the reported results. That is critical to the survival of American democracy. That said, such processes, particularly when they are tax-payer funded, must be open, transparent, overseeable and completely public processes. This process being carried out in Maricopa has decidedly not been that. With the Cyber Ninjas firm even arguing in court that their forensic processes must be kept a trade secret, just like the computer voting machine companies they (and we, for many years!) have complained about.

With no media allowed in (until a court order seems to have finally loosened that up a bit as of last night), there has been little if any information available to the public as far as what the hell is going on. The only reporter who seems to have gained access had signed up as an observer to work a 6-hour shift on Day 1 and discovered the counters were using blue pens --- which can be used to mark or spoil ballots. Following her complaints, they have been swapped out for red and green pens which cannot be read by the optical scanners. Beyond that, we've received little or no information on the process or progress of the count from public observers or media.

But we've had an inside track since the start of the count. And on today's show, we've got two long-time election integrity advocates who have been inside the Coliseum to observe over the last several days, one of them has been there since Day 1.

JOHN BRAKEY, Director of AUDIT USA, is actually working along side AZ's former Republican Sec. of State Ken Bennett --- as of now anyway, as Bennett serves as the Senate GOP's liaison to the count. Brakey, a longtime election integrity champion and transparency activist, is largely the only one involved in the effort who has experience with post-election audits and recounts. He's a Tucson-based Democrat, but has long fought for public oversight in elections across the country and joins us on the show today.

We're also joined by RAY LUTZ, Founder and Exec. Director of San Diego-based Citizens' Oversight Projects, which has helped organize and oversee many post-election audits over the years --- particular of electronic digital ballot images created by scanners when ballots are initially tallied. He spent the last several days inside the Coliseum, observing the count, by invitation of Brakey, until he'd decided he'd "seen enough" and headed back home to California last night.

Both explain what they have seen, what the secret process actually is (as far as they have been able to understand it); some of the positive elements that may come out of this exercise; and a number of very serious concerns they each share about the process, particularly when it comes to the lack of transparency for how the operation works, the lock out of media and the public, the lack of publicly disclosed running totals of the count (as in actual recounts) or comparisons to the initial tallies, and more.

In Brakey's case, he's taking action to try and improve the process. He tells us he filed a Public Records Request today with the Maricopa Board of Supervisors (which has long opposed this exercise) for the original counted vote records of the batches of ballots now being examined in the 15,000 seat arena. His hope is that the Cyber Ninja group, for their part, will publish their own daily results at the same time, so that there can be at least some public oversight of the process. That remains a work in progress, he explains. But Brakey --- who is receiving no money for the work (unlike pretty much everyone else involved in it) and has refused to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (as the Ninjas had initially asked) --- asserts that he is happy to talk about everything that he has seen and is prepared to walk away from the project if transparency is not quickly improved.

"That's what I'm doing here. I'm criticizing. I'm on them," he explains, after pushing to allow media in for several days. "I want you to know they have media in there right now. They have two people, they have a pool camera. They were nervous and I said, 'Don't be. This is the media. Give them what they need.' I want them to have the same access that they would get in [a public Maricopa County recount], and I'm fighting for that, and I'm winning."

For his part, Lutz says he had already grown somewhat frustrated with the lack of transparency, and decided to leave after observing for about two days. He details the complicated, incredibly slow, table-by-table, ballot-by-ballot effort that is being carried out. After he initially estimated the process they were using would take about 15 months to complete, Lutz explains that changes made to simplify the process have brought the task down to one that could be carried out in about a month, unless additional counting shifts are added. That, even though the group is supposed to have completed the entire effort just over two weeks from now, on May 14th.

"This group came in with no experience at all," Lutz says today, "with a lot of new-fangled ideas about how it would work. Apparently no one did any basic math to work out how long it would take. Now they're sitting here with a real big problem on their hands."

"I have to say, it looked like more of a big show than anything else when I first saw it," he says, referring to the color-coded tables and t-shirts being worn by workers, before explaining some of the efficiencies that have been implemented since the counting began. "Now, I have to say that a lot of what I see there is appropriate and pretty good in terms of their fencing off the ballots and how they keep them under control." Still, he is worried about what happens to the tally sheets being created at each individual table, because those are not being shared publicly and are being handed to someone who enters the numbers into a computer --- correctly or otherwise. "What we normally want to have --- and Citizens Oversight has watched many, many of these audits --- we want those sheets to be scanned immediately and published so they can't be altered, because those tally sheets now become just like ballots, but even more so, because they're the accumulation of all the ballot tallying."

He's also critical of the particular hand-count process being used which, he believes, may have an error rate of 1 to 2%, in order to somehow confirm the accurate tabulation of an election that was decided by less than one half of one percent. And we all discuss the unusual efforts by workers to do things like examine ballots under microscopes and with a UV light (apparently to look for bamboo fibers, suggesting the paper came from China, or to find a lack of creases in mailed-in ballots, suggesting the ballot box was somehow stuffed). Lutz also details the effort to take meticulous measurements of the size and thickness, as well as high-def photos, of each ballot, as part of some unclear process to determine whether they are real or fraudulent.

Yes, it's somewhat as nuts as it sounds. But voters are allowed to be nuts, if they like. Locking out the public from the process, however, remains a very serious concern, and leads to some heated exchanges, to say the least, on today's special BradCast coverage...offering a unique and exclusive look inside the Maricopa County, AZ "audit/recount".

"Somebody's going to throw the gauntlet down, and I'm throwing the gauntlet down," Brakey asserts under my questioning about oversight concerns. "And I guess if they don't want to do that, then I guess there's going to be a separation, and all of a sudden I'm going to be on the outside. And maybe that's what has to happen. Because I know that transparency is the solution. We're going to keep improving this process, or I'm outta here," he vows.

As noted, buckle up for this one. You've been warned...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: CUNY's Deepak Bhargava; Also: Biden raises fed contractor min. wage to $15/hr; Fox 'News' tosses new 'red meat' lies to gullible viewers...
By Brad Friedman on 4/27/2021 6:14pm PT  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Biden declares Armenian 'genocide'; SCOTUS takes up guns; DoJ probes Louisville policing; Admin's new child hunger program; AZ's non-transparent 'recount'; Callers assess the Prez...
By Brad Friedman on 4/26/2021 6:54pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We've got a lot of news to catch you up on from over the weekend --- and from today alone --- before we open the phones to listeners to ring in on Joe Biden's first 100 days in office. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, today's news...

  • Over the weekend, Biden officially declared the killing of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire beginning in 1916 to have been a "genocide". U.S. Presidents from both parties have declined to do so for decades, largely out of deference to Turkey, now a major NATO ally. Biden just went ahead and did it, after declaring his intention the day before to the Turkish President. Yes, it's a 100 year old story, in one respect, but not to the Armenian community which has sought such a declaration on the atrocity from a sitting U.S. President for years.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court announced on Monday that it would take up an NRA-backed case next term on the Constitutionality of the right to carry weapons outside of the home, a direct challenge to a century-old New York gun law. Similar statutes are on the books in a number of other states, including Maryland and Massachusetts. Given the news we discussed on last Friday's BradCast about the appalling 6 to 3 opinion issued by the GOP's stolen and packed SCOTUS last week --- and, in lieu of Democrats figuring out how to reform the Court to expand and unpack it --- today's news likely comes as a foreboding sign for gun safety advocates.
  • The U.S. Dept. of Justice on Monday announced a sweeping new "patterns and practice" probe of policing by the Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government and Louisville Metro Police Department in Kentucky, following the middle-of-the-night 2020 police killing of 26-year old Breonna Taylor in her own home during a no-knock raid. The warrant was approved as part of a narcotics investigation which turned up no drugs and for which the City of Louisville has already agreed to a $12 million settlement after the police killing of the African-American emergency medical technician last year.
  • The Biden Administration is announcing the launch of an historic $12 billion summer food program to feed lunch to more than 30 million low-income children, as part of the recently passed $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. The USDA plan, according to experts who study childhood hunger, will go a long way towards feeding children who face food insecurity during summer months, when free school lunches are not available. The initiative comes on the heels of not only a hunger crisis amid the COVID pandemic, but after years of cutbacks to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other programs to combat hunger by the Trump Administration. Another upside: Money spent on SNAP goes directly into local economies.
  • In news that broke just before airtime today, the U.S. Census Bureau released its first tranche of new numbers from the 2020 decennial survey revealing that Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Colorado, Montana and Oregon will each pick up Congressional seats in the once-a-decade redistricting process before the 2021 mid-term elections. New York, Ohio and, for the first time in its 170 years of statehood, California, would each lose a seat in the U.S. House. In fact, Texas is picking up two seats, while it, Florida and North Carolina have redistricting processes that are entirely controlled by Republicans, allowing them to gerrymander their states even further than they already are. Many of the Dem-controlled states picking up seats have processes in place that share power with Republicans for redistricting, or have a process controlled by independent commissions to determine new maps.
  • In some news that broke during today's show, California officials have announced that Republicans hoping to unseat the state's Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom in a recall election, have obtained the requisite number of verified signatures needed to hold the recall election for the first-term Governor this fall. More on that story, undoubtedly, in the days ahead.
  • And lastly, before we turn to callers ringing in on Biden's first 100 days, a word about the unusual, ongoing post-election hand-count in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona, where the Republican-controlled state Senate is using tax-payer money to pay a private company named Cyber Ninjas, run by a Trump-supporting IT expert with no experience in elections, to recount the County's 2.1 million ballots from the 2020 election. The count is examining only the results of last year's Presidential race, reportedly won by Biden, and the U.S. Senate race, won by Democrat Mark Kelly. In both cases, it was the first time in decades for Democratic victories. While we are normally in favor of any and all attempts by citizens to oversee the results of their own elections, the Maricopa count is disturbing on several levels.

    For one, it is being paid for by tax-payer dollars, but run by a Trump supporter who, in addition to having no knowledge of elections or election technology, has a record of promoting demonstrably false claims about the election having been stolen by election system vendors, a number of communist counties, and allies of Joe Biden. The company heading up the count is also not using accepted hand-count practices established by the state. And they also refuses to disclose the amount or additional sources of dark money funding that it is receiving to carry out the hand tally. Moreover --- and most disturbing as of now --- is the fact that the tax-payer funded organizers are barring both media and the general public from overseeing the examination of the ballots from the 2020 election (which should, theoretically be protected and remain in state custody, under federal law, for 22 months.)

    I am in close touch with some of the folks who are working as observers on the count --- the ones with actual experience in post-election audits and recounts, unlike the Republicans in charge of this scheme --- and hope to have more information for you on this in the days ahead. There is no rush, apparently. At the rate of counting being carried out by the paid-for counters --- who not only counting, but examining ballots for signs of fraud --- it could take about 15 months to tally all of the ballots, according to one experienced election integrity advocate closing tracking the process.

  • Finally today, in advance of President Biden's first address to a joint a session of Congress on Wednesday night, his 99th day in office, media are rounding up their various assessments of the Administration's first 100 days and grading the President on his performance to date. It seems his bold actions have taken many in both the media and public --- who had previously regarded old Joe as an establishment, institutionalist centrist --- by surprise. We open up the phones to callers to do a bit of the same temperature taking today, to find surprisingly positive reviews for the new President from our usually somewhat cynical and progressive listener base here in Southern California (and, in Minneapolis, Chicago and elsewhere today.)

Enjoy!...

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Guest: Slate legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Biden soaring in polls, young voters hopeful again about the future...
By Brad Friedman on 4/23/2021 6:27pm PT  

Today on The BradCast, a very ominous sign from the U.S. Supreme Court. Very. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

On Thursday, the Court issued a 6 to 3 opinion in Jones v. Mississippi, which shatters years of established Court precedent that had prevented minors from being charged with life in prison without the possibility of parole in all but the most extraordinary circumstances, and where a judge has specifically made a rare finding that the juvenile's "crimes reflect permanent incorrigibility."

But the ruling by the Court this week --- in a case where a boy, Brett Jones, who had turned 15 days earlier, grew up as "the victim of violence and neglect that he was too young to escape," before snapping and killing one of his abusers just after he had abruptly lost access to the medication he took for mental health issues --- is appalling for a host of reasons.

Not only because, at 31 years old, Jones has since become a reformed, model prisoner in every regard (even the widow of his victim has urged the court for his release); Not only for the 6 to 3 majority decision by all 6 Republicans appointed to the stolen and packed Court; Not only for the opinion itself which will consign more than 1,500 others who committed crimes as children to dying in prison; Not only for the fact that this particular opinion was written for the majority by Justice Brett "What I did when I was young doesn't matter" Kavanaugh (of all people!); Not only for the fact that the decision overturns long-standing, painstaking Court precedents developed over several cases throughout the years; Not only for the fact that the majority simply pretend they did not overturn established legal precedent at all; And not only for the fact that Justice Sotomayor was forced to call the majority out for all of that in the starkest, most savage terms on behalf of the minority (charging the majority "is fooling no one" and "distorts [the precedential cases] beyond recognition", even as she specifically quotes Kavanaugh's very own prior statements on the importance of respecting established legal precedent); But, most troublingly, also for what it may portend in the weeks ahead, much less the years ahead, unless Democrats can quickly, at this point, figure out that they better come to their senses and figure out how to reform the U.S. Supreme Court before we see a boatload of similarly long-held precedents in even more disturbing cases, being completely trashed and overturned by this newly emboldened rightwing Court.

We're joined today by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, our go-to Supreme Court correspondent from Slate, to discuss not only the Jones v. MS case itself, but what we should glean --- and none of it is good --- from how it has just played out before our eyes, now that the stolen majority on the Court has a full three Donald Trump appointees packed onto it.

As the newly emboldened rightwing activist Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court this week merely pretended precedent didn't exist, by essentially adopting dissenting views from the several cases that created the precedents, a newly emboldened rightwing state Supreme Court majority in Florida did something very similar. Stern also reports on that case, concerning a people's ballot initiative on recreational marijuana in the Sunshine State, which also underscores the long GOP Big Lies that they oppose judicial activism or Big Government tyranny.

With those outrages --- and what they portend for an era of rightwing judicial activism this week --- we also discuss the new proposal by Democrats in the House and Senate to expand SCOTUS from 9 Justices to 13, and the "kick-the-can-down-the-road" bipartisan Presidential Commission empaneled by Joe Biden to "study" the idea of reform for both SCOTUS and the federal judiciary as a whole.

Stern closes with a heads up --- a stark warning, in truth --- as to the big decisions still to come from the Court before the session ends in June, on the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare"); foster care by same-sex couples; and a clearly unconstitutional new abortion law (also out of Mississippi) in light of Thursday's appalling decision in Jones v. MS, which Stern categorizes as both "barbaric" and "one of the most dishonest and cynical decisions in recent memory."

Finally, in hopes of leaving you with some slightly brighter news after such a foreboding, grim report from SCOTUS and Stern, we've got some encouraging new polling numbers for Joe Biden. But, much more importantly, from young people who, for the first time in many years, and in rather substantial (even record) numbers across all races, are beginning to feel hopeful about the future again, as they see government as an ally on issues of poverty, combating climate change and on health care.

Hopefully none of them tune in for the earlier part of today's program...

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Also: Russia to draw down troop build-up on Ukrainian border...
By Brad Friedman on 4/22/2021 6:00pm PT  

On today's BradCast: After a disastrous four year mistake by the name of Donald Trump, the United States, under the leadership of Joe Biden, is taking the lead once again on our global climate emergency on Earth Day 2021. Or, at least, trying to. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Among our coverage today...

  • Global tensions were greatly eased on Thursday with the announcement that Russia --- which had been amassing more than 100,000 troops on its border with Ukraine --- plans to deescalate and pull most of its troops back by May 1. The tensions continue to simmer, however, amid the years-long, ongoing conflict in the region, between NATO-backed Ukraine and Russia-backed separatists, where 14,000 have died over the past 6 or 7 years of war. And, of course, the U.S. and Russia remain at odds over any number of things. But today's announcement at least lowers figurative global temperatures just a bit.
  • As to lowering literal global temperatures, more than 40 world leaders --- including Russia's Vladimir Putin and China's Xi Jingping --- met today for Day 1 of a virtual global climate summit hosted by Joe Biden and the White House, as the U.S. rejoins the landmark Paris Climate Agreement and hopes to assert its critical leadership role once again after Trump left the pact, increased the dangerous production of fossil fuels, and dismissed deadly global warming as a "hoax". President Biden, on the other hand, doubled-down on President Obama's previous commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement today, by announcing today that the U.S. vows to cut deadly greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, and reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Desi Doyen binge-watched hours of today's worldwide Zoom conference and shares both key details and those that may not make the corporate media headlines. Including desperate pleas for help and funding from some of the nations most effected by --- but least responsible for --- climate change, and from young climate activists who urge the nations of the world to stop making excuses and take far more decisive action to meet the true, scientific urgency of the moment.
  • Back in D.C., Republicans continue to block the formation of a bipartisan 9/11-style commission to examine the deadly, Trump-fueled insurrection on January 6th, despite a rapidly growing number of troubling new questions about the disastrous failure to protect the U.S. Capitol from the angry MAGA Mob while Joe Biden's 2020 Electoral College victory was ratified during a joint session of Congress. Last week, an Inspector General's report found that both DHS and the FBI had warned Capitol Police, days before the attack, that "Congress is the target". And yet, Capitol Police leadership instructed officers NOT to use their most effective methods to defend the Capitol. Why? A Washington Post investigation subsequently found that D.C. Metro Police --- out-manned by 58 to 1 on the west side of the Capitol --- radioed for emergency back-up at least 17 times over 78 minutes at the height of the attack, but received no response. Why? New evidence has been emerging from more than 400 indictments made in the days following the insurrection to reveal that the assault, which injured and hospitalized more than 140 law enforcement officials, was far more violent than many have understood. And, on Wednesday, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) revealed during a hearing in the House Administration Committee that she chairs, that undisclosed internal investigations suggest Capitol Police were instructed to seek out anti-Trump protesters, but not pro-Trump protesters. Why? We ask those questions and many more, as the chaos and confusion of disparate investigations continues while the GOP obstructs the formation of an over-arching commission that might be able to make sense of what actually happened on January 6th, and who should actually be held accountable.
  • Finally, Desi returns for our latest Green News Report on Earth Day, documenting new commitments to stave off the worst effects of our climate emergency by world powers; Rep. AOC and Sen. Markey reintroduce their Green New Deal; And Nobel-prize winning climate scientist Dr. Michael E. Mann offers his thoughts as to whether the latest actions may be enough to save humanity...

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Guest: Columnist Will Bunch on the need for institutional policing reform; Also: DoJ to probe MPD after Floyd murder; Biden meets 200M COVID vaccine goal, will now pledge to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030...
By Brad Friedman on 4/21/2021 6:28pm PT  

It's turning out to be Policing Week on The BradCast for some odd reason...even as a police helicopter circled above our studio here in L.A. for most of today's show. We don't think they were there for us, but apologies for any unexpected noise throughout. [Audio link to full show follows below summary.]

Speaking of policing, Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday announced a Dept. of Justice "pattern or practice" probe of the Minneapolis Police Department, the day after a jury found former MPD officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts of murder and manslaughter for his killing of George Floyd last year. Garland explained that "yesterday’s verdict in the state criminal trial does not address potentially systemic policing issues in Minneapolis," but that the DoJ investigation could result in mandated changes if the federal agency finds systemic abuses in the MPD's use of force policies, including that deployed against protesters.

Garland may need to expand that probe to neighboring Brooklyn Center, MN and to the Minnesota State Patrol after their outrageous behavior during the past week of protests in response to the police killing of 20-year old black motorist Duane Wright. In addition to the use of pepper spray, tear gas and paintballs against protesters, similar tactics were used on media attempting to cover the demonstrations and what our guest today describes as "police riots". In addition to being directly sprayed and gassed and beaten up, members of the media on Friday were forced to lie face down on the ground so that cops could photograph their media credentials, drivers licenses and faces. The violence deployed against the press exercising their First Amendment rights in Brooklyn Center was particularly egregious coming just hours after a court order --- in a case filed by the ACLU after press mistreatment during the George Floyd protests last year --- specifically barred police from "arresting, threatening to arrest, or threatening/using physical force" against members of the media.

But, as our guest today, longtime Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News national columnist WILL BUNCH noted in a recent column referencing the violence against press and protesters in Brooklyn Center that is making us all "less safe," none of this should be a surprise. "Officers in the Minneapolis suburb --- just 10 miles or so from the corner where Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on the neck of a dying George Floyd...-- raised a version of the 'thin blue line' flag over their embattled station house, which was their bold and outrageously arrogant signal that Brooklyn Center was about to become some kind of Alamo for racist, oppressive policing in America."

We discuss all of the above and much more with Bunch today, who explains that he has been "very focused on the institution of policing in this country" of late, "because there's a school of thought in this country that if we just weed out the bad apple cops --- and Derek Chauvin being Exhibit A --- if we just weed out the handfuls of Derek Chauvins, that policing will be great in America, and that's just not the case."

Given the seemingly endless stream of appalling videos, revealing more killings by police each day, and broad calls for nationwide policing reform, we've got much to talk about on today's program. After "some accountability" in Minneapolis on Tuesday, the long "arc of the moral universe" continues to "bend toward justice," even if, as Bunch notes, it continues to take an intolerably long time for too many Americans.

"One reason why I focus on these police abuses of the media," Bunch tells me, is "if this is how they treat people who have cameras, who have the megaphone of working for a large news organization and can tell the world about what happened to them, if this is how they treat people who are clearly marked as journalists, and if they have half a brain and know that they will write or publish pictures of what happened to them, how do you think they're treating citizens when there are no cameras? Or citizens who don't have the power of the New York Times or the AP or other news organizations to tell their story? If they're doing this to reporters, what they're doing to regular citizens is almost certainly going to be worse."

Finally, we close with some slightly brighter news today from the White House. First, Joe Biden appears to have met his doubled-down goal of 200 million COVID vaccine shots during his first 100 days in office. That landmark was reached today, he said, on his 92nd day.

But, as that promise was met, Biden is preparing to unleash an even more ambitious goal on Earth Day tomorrow, according to AP. During a two-day virtual climate summit hosted by the White House, the President will pledge to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 %below 2005 levels by 2030, with the ultimate goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The news was met with huge plaudits from many (if not all) climate scientists and environmental groups, as appropriate to mitigate the growing dangers our climate emergency and for meeting the Paris Climate Agreement goal of limiting warming to what would be a catastrophic 1.5 degrees Celsius global rise. Of course, that also means that fossil fueled wingnut heads are already exploding in the Republican Party and at Fox "News". So, let the explosions begin! We could use a good laugh these days...

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Guest: Jordan Blair Woods of Univ. of Arkansas School of Law; Also: CHAUVIN 'GUILTY' ON ALL COUNTS; MT's new vote suppression laws...
By Brad Friedman on 4/20/2021 7:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A day in which a cop was finally found guilty of the murder of a hand-cuffed black man is probably a good day to discuss an important idea for long-overdue police reforms that could help keep people alive and allow police to do more of what they should be doing and less of what they are not needed to do. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of summary.]

Just before airtime today, the verdict was announced in the trial of white, 45-year old former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was notoriously seen on video last year with his knee on the neck of George Floyd, a 46-year old handcuffed black man. After more than 9 minutes, Chauvin choked the life out of Floyd and was found guilty today on all three counts of 2nd and 3rd degree murder and 2nd degree manslaughter by a unanimous jury in Minneapolis. In a state already on edge from the killing of a 20-year old motorist by a 26-year veteran white cop just over a week ago in neighboring Brooklyn Center, MN, the state and the nation exhaled a collective sigh of relief as the judge announced the jury found Chauvin guilty on all counts before he was handcuffed and marched off to prison.

Before speaking to our guest on a related note today...Republicans at the state level in Montana are the latest to pass new laws to restrict access to the voting booth (for certain voters) on the heels of Donald Trump's evidence-free claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Two new provisions were adopted in MT on Monday under the guise of preventing fraud, despite Republicans in the state being unable to cite any examples at all of voter fraud there in modern history. One bill would end same-day voter registration, which has been a problem-free success in the state since its broad bipartisan passage in 2005. The other measure enacts new Photo ID restrictions at the polling place by, among other things, disallowing student IDs as an acceptable form of ID for voting, despite 20 years of zero problems or fraud with such IDs. The bills were signed by the Governor yesterday, and the state was sued by Democrats in response today. Montana becomes the third state to adopt newly restrictive voting laws following the 2020 election, after Iowa and Georgia did so previously. All three are now be forced to defend their new suppression laws in court.

On the federal level, Democrats in the House have passed several laws which would counter many of the new restrictions being pushed forward by Republicans at the state level. But filibustering Republicans and the refusal by Democrats like West Virginia's Joe Manchin to reform or kill the undemocratic Senate rule are preventing passage of those landmark measures that would protect voters and elections nationally. Today, during a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on "Jim Crow 2021: The Latest Assault on the Right to Vote," ranking Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley made clear how out to lunch he is and how disingenuous his party is in supporting these new restrictions on the franchise. Among Grassley's embarrassing comments at today's hearing: His contention that Major League Baseball pulling their All-Star game out of Atlanta is "likely to cost the city's economy 100 million jobs" (there are fewer than 11 million people in the entire state) and that corporations and voters exercising their free speech rights to decry vote suppression amounts to "economic terrorism".

Then, it's back to policing with our guest today, JORDAN BLAIR WOODS, criminology expert and Associate Professor of Law at University of Arkansas' School of Law. Amid outrage over a seemingly never ending series of incidents revealing cops assaulting and/or killing motorists --- usually black ones --- following otherwise routine traffic stops, the demands for policing reforms grow seemingly louder each day.

Woods has been writing at a number of law journals for several years now about one seemingly simple reform that could save lives and prevent so many traffic stops from turning deadly: replace traffic stops by armed police with unarmed traffic monitors. According to the Dept. of Justice [PDF], more Americans, 24 million, come into contact with police via traffic stops than by any other means each year. Routine stops for a missing tail light, an expired tag or even an air freshener hanging from a rear view mirror too often turns unnecessarily deadly. As Woods detailed in a 2019 Michigan Law Review article [PDF], this can be attributed to cops being trained to believe that every traffic stop could turn deadly in seconds (even though that is decidedly not the case.)

As he tells me today, "One of the key reasons why we see officers having so much authority to do what they're able to do during traffic stops really rests on this myth that traffic stops are especially dangerous settings for police officers.  But what we're seeing play out, and what empirical research has really documented, is that when we're thinking about who is harmed during traffic stops, it's those who are from communities of color that are disproportionately stopped, frisked, cited, arrested and ultimately subjected to force. And, unfortunately, too many times it results in their death during traffic stops."

Reporting on this same topic earlier this year at The Appeal, Meg O'Connor notes: "Black drivers are 20 percent more likely to be stopped than white drivers, and as much as twice as likely to be searched, according to a study of 100 million traffic stops conducted by the Stanford Open Policing Project. And 11 percent of all fatal shootings by police in 2015 occurred during traffic stops, according to a Washington Post database of police killings."

So, what if cops were taken out of that equation entirely? In his recent Stanford Law Review article, Woods offers a framework for doing just that. "The basic idea behind the framework," he explains, "is that we know that tens of millions of traffic stops occur every year. Many of these are for run-of-the-mill traffic violations. I argue in my framework that we don't really need police to be involved in this type of enforcement. So it creates new public agencies that are completely separate from the police, work independently from the police.  Their basic role is to enforce traffic and not to conduct criminal investigations, which is really where we see a lot of problems during traffic stops today come from."

He calls for traffic agencies to be created and manned by "unarmed traffic monitors to essentially do routine traffic enforcement. They wouldn't be armed, they wouldn't have the typical police powers to search or arrest. It really bring the traffic stop to being just about traffic."

"One of the advantages I see to having non-police agencies and non-police traffic monitors conducting these types of stops, is that we could really use discretion to only be enforcing traffic laws in situations where we think there's a notable safety threat, and eliminating these situations that we are seeing now over air fresheners. We know that these minor infractions are being used for pre-textual reasons by police to pull people over. We avoid that by at least moving to a regime where police are not handling this type of work," Woods argues.

But would such a system place unarmed traffic monitors in harms way during stops? Would it cut off a necessary crime fighting tool for police? Can much of this work simply be automated to remove many of the face-to-face confrontations in the first place? And, given that Wood's proposition seems like such a no-brainer reform, frankly, what legitimate objections might police or lawmakers have to such a new framework?

We discuss all of that and much more with Woods today, who also comments on similar reforms recently enacted in places like Berkley, California and elsewhere, as many cities and towns across the nation seek reforms to help stem the tide of our excruciating epidemic of unnecessarily violent and systemically racist policing.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report. As usual, she rings the alarm bell on new studies warning of our worsening climate emergency, even while sharing some exceptionally encouraging news today, including word that the nation's largest coal mining union now appears to be on board with Joe Biden's plan to find new work in renewable energy for those whose jobs in dying fossil fuel industries will necessarily be displaced in the critical effort to mitigate the most deadly effects of our ever-warming climate.

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Also: Genuinely good news from Mars; Good phone calls from listeners...
By Brad Friedman on 4/19/2021 6:05pm PT  

We open up the phones on today's BradCast for a bunch of very good calls, including from a teacher who was back for in-person instruction today for the first time in a year here in Los Angeles; a gun supporter who isn't insane, though we bicker a bit on his actual level of support for democracy as we succeed in finding some common ground; and a caller who survived a mass shooting in Oregon in 2013, among a number of other excellent calls from listeners today. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But first up today, before we get to the phones...

  • Some genuinely not divisive news (at least I think) regarding the first controlled flight of an aircraft on a planet other than Earth (that we know of). The Ingenuity helicopter alit above Mars today for its first test flight after arriving at the red planet hitched to the Perseverance rover. The flight was about 39 seconds in all, and traveled about 10 feet before landing at the newly-christened "Wright Field" on Mars, so named in honor of the Wright Brothers whose own first flight at Kitty Hawk, NC in 1903 was memorialized with a piece of wing fabric from the wings of that historic flight carried aboard the Ingenuity copter.
  • In only slightly more divisive news, President Biden made it official today, announcing that all adults over the age of 16 are now eligible for COVID vaccine shots in all 50 states (as well as D.C. and Puerto Rico). The date for that nation-wide rollout, announced two weeks ago, was moved up from Biden's originally planned deadline of May 1. The news also comes the day after the CDC announced that just over 50% of U.S. adults have now received at least one COVID shot, with 32.5% now fully vaccinated.
  • Next, if you're having trouble keeping up with the spate of one-after-another mass shootings of late, you're not alone. We try to get you all caught up on all of these horrific, arguably avoidable massacres today, including two that each took place over the weekend and took three lives each (one shooting was in Kenosha County, WI and the other, allegedly by a former police detective, in Austin, TX, a state which has seen at least three such incidents over the past month), as well as the latest news following the shooting by a 19-year old at a FedEx plant in Indianapolis that killed eight. In that case, the shooter had been visited last year by police after his mother called with concerns that he might commit "suicide by cop". His pump-action shotgun was confiscated under Indiana's red-flag law which allows officials to take weapons from someone considered to be a danger to themselves or others. But, somehow, the alleged shooter, who killed himself at the scene last Thursday, was able to legally purchase two semi-automatic rifles later last year anyway.

    Not that any of it matters, as long as NRA-funded Republicans, including Indiana's U.S. Senator Todd Young, are willing to pretend that this is a "mental health" issue (even as his party has spent the past decade trying to take such health care away from tens of millions of Americans) as opposed to a guns availability issue.

    In all, there were at least 9 such mass shootings over the past month, in Georgia, Colorado, Maryland, California, South Carolina, Texas, Indiana and Wisconsin. And yet, Republicans in the U.S. Senate, still doing the bidding of the terrorist-loving NRA, still refuse to allow any votes in the U.S. Senate on any gun safety measures. That includes even the lowest hanging fruit, such as closing background check loopholes which is even supported even by some 90% of NRA members (if not by their corrupt leadership).

  • Finally, we had so many folks calling in on all of the above, that I threw over my plans to discuss the outrageous and violent attacks on journalists (and their First Amendment rights) by the Minnesota State Police in Brooklyn Center, MN, where protests continue on the heels of last week's killing of Daunte Wright, a black motorist during a routine traffic stop, by a 26-veteran cop on the local police force.

    As noted, tune in today for some great calls --- all of which remained shockingly civil and arguably constructive --- from the teacher, the gun supporter, the mass shooting survivor and many more...

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Guest: L.A. Times' Michael Hiltzik; Also: New U.S. sanctions on Russia reveal previously unknown details on 2016 election interference...
By Brad Friedman on 4/15/2021 7:27pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's nice to see hundreds of companies and corporate executives coming out in favor of democracy and voting rights. If only they actually meant it. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up today, however, the Biden Administration announced a spate of new sanctions against Russian organizations and individuals in response to both the massive Solar Winds hack of top U.S. agencies, including including the Treasury, Justice, Energy and Homeland Security departments, as well as for what is described as interference in the 2020 election on behalf of Donald Trump.  At the same time, the Administration seems to be going out of their way to downplay the sweeping sanctions by suggesting that they are open to top level discussions to avoid further exacerbating growing tensions between the two nations.

But one of the 32 individuals sanctioned is of note today because the announcement from the U.S. Treasury Department refers to the 2016 election, charging that the individual, Konstanin Kilimnik shared proprietary polling information given to him by Trump's first campaign manager, Paul Manafort, directly with Russian Intelligence Services.  If true, that would be significant new information. Previous reports on Russia's involvement in the 2016 election from both Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee cite the information Manafort is said to have given to his former business associate Kilimnik, a Russian and Ukrainian political operative linked to Russian intelligence. But neither of those voluminous report goes so far as to say that the data was subsequently given directly to Russian intelligence services.  Those reports acknowledge they were not able to learn what came of it after it was handed over to Kilimnik. Today's announcement of the sanctions by the Treasury, however, notes: "During the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign, Kilimnik provided the Russian Intelligence Services with sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy."

As national security website Just Security observes: "The Treasury Department’s new statement raises questions about why this information is coming out now and why the Special Counsel’s office did not have access to it during its investigation. Was it not available then or did it exist but was not provided to the Mueller team?"   So, does this mean the Biden Administration has uncovered details on manipulation of the 2016 election that was previously hidden or withheld by the Trump Administration?  It looks like the "Clean up on Aisle 45" will be continuing for quite some time. There is a LOT to clean up.

In not entirely unrelated news, hundreds of companies and corporate CEOs issued a full-size, two-page ad in the New York Times, Washington Post and other papers this week, with a short statement purporting to declare "WE STAND FOR DEMOCRACY," and noting: "We all should feel a responsibility to defend the right to vote and to oppose any discriminatory legislation or measures that restrict or prevent any eligible voter from having an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot."

Though the statement doesn't mention any specific states, it was issued in response to Republicans' recently enacted voters suppression law in Georgia and dozens of other states where similar restrictions on the franchise, in bills sponsored by GOP state lawmakers, are moving forward.  All of which is said to be in response to false claims by Trump and Republicans of massive fraud in 2020.  Georgia's new law, for example, makes it more difficult to vote by mail, limits the use of drop boxes, bans the distribution of food or water on long voting lines (which are all too typical in certain parts of the Peach State) and allows the partisan GOP state legislature to replace bipartisan County Election Boards with a single partisan person who will be able to unilaterally undermine elections or even overturn results.

While statements like the one issued this week in the two-page ad --- and, before it, by Atlanta-based companies such as Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines --- have resulted in good publicity for those signed onto them, they have also brought blowback from the right, leading Republicans (who pretend to abhor so-called "cancel culture") to demand boycotts of any company which stands up for voting rights.

I have railed in recent weeks about the absurdity of Republicans finally paying attention to concerns about new voter suppression laws only now that a number of corporations have come out in apparent opposition to such laws. Corporate entities, it seems, have far more sway with the GOP lawmakers who ignored weeks of complaints and protests about the new laws from actual voters before the GA law was passed.

But our guest today is seemingly even more cynical about these recent corporate declarations of fealty to democracy. We're joined today by MICHAEL HILTZIK, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and business columnist at the Los Angeles Times. He argued in his column this week that many of the "vague" declarations recently by large corporations are no substitute for actual action. He cites a host of companies, for example, which, following the January 6th U.S. Capitol insurrection, vowed to suspend donations to lawmakers who had voted to overturn the Electoral College results that same day. Despite those public pronouncements, he details one company after another --- from Jet Blue to AT&T to Toyota --- which, despite their previous public claims, have since given plenty of money to dozens of Republicans who voted against the certification of Biden's Electoral College victory.

In his column, he notes that while many companies and executives have come out in opposition of suppressive voting laws, almost none have gone on record to demand the passage of measures which would counteract them, such as the John Lewis Voting Rights Act or H.R. 1, the For the People Act.

"It's not that unusual for businesses to affiliate themselves on the side of the angels when they feel a lot of popular pressure to do so.  But once again the question is, what are they going to do about it?," Hiltzik tells me today. "Let's face facts. Many of the companies --- if not all of them --- that signed on to these statements, these honeyed words, had been assiduous supporters of the politicians who are now out there introducing and passing laws that restrict the voting franchise."

Criticizing their failure to speak out before Georgia's law was adopted, for example, he says, "They didn't really put their reputations on the line when they didn't think they had to.  And, as a result, we have a law in Georgia that's going to be very hard to repeal because the more these companies come out and say this is wrong, the more the rightwing legislators who passed it are doubling down, saying 'We're not going to kowtow to these liberal leftwing corporations'.  So they lost their chance. They're trying to recover. But I don't think they really deserve a lot of credence just by signing a statement."

Moreover, he explains, many of these very same companies have been opponents of democracy within their own corporate organizations. "What's really hypocritical is that these same companies that have said 'We believe in democracy, we believe in everybody having a vote' --- they've actually gone to the Securities and Exchange Commission and asked for, and received, a tightening of the rules that makes it even harder for small shareholders to get resolutions on the annual meeting agenda, and to actually get votes on the resolutions that they submit."

There is plenty of cynicism on today's show to go around. And it extends to our discussion of the need for campaign finance reform, and several neat GOP tricks that have long been used to prevent such long-overdue efforts to keep corporations out of our elections altogether.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us once again for our latest Green News Report, which, as always, is chocked full of important news, including Japan's announcement that they intend to dump more than a million tons of radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea. And we close with a follow up to that story from the Guardian today, regarding Japan's ill-fated attempt to marginalize concerns from their own citizens and neighboring countries, by using a cartoon character dubbed "Little Mr. Tritium" to make the massive release of radioactive wastewater slightly more adorable than it actually otherwise is...

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Guest: Climate and energy journalist David Roberts of Volts; Also: MN cop charged in shooting; FBI, DHS knew Capitol was the 'target' on Jan. 6; Biden declares 'It's time to end the forever war'...
By Brad Friedman on 4/14/2021 6:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Joe Biden is on a "go big" roll that has stunned even many long time progressives. Another one of them joins us on today's show to sing the praises (mostly) of his $2.25 trillion infrastructure, jobs and climate proposal known as the American Jobs Plan. It will be paid for --- at least in very small part --- by ending long time direct subsidies (yes, government socialism) to the Fossil Fuel Industry. But, even on that, the industry is getting a break that they shouldn't. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up today, however, some noteworthy news headlines...

  • The white Brooklyn Center, Minnesota police officer who resigned yesterday after shooting black motorist Daunte Wright during a traffic stop on Sunday, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter after days of protest and unrest. The city's Police Chief, who also resigned on Tuesday, has said that the 26-year veteran officer, Kim Potter, meant to taze the 20-year old Wright, but shot him instead.
  • A scathing new Inspector General's report finds that U.S. Capitol Police were instructed by leadership not to use their best crowd-control weapons on January 6th, despite clear intelligence from the FBI and Dept. of Homeland Security warning that "Congress itself is the target" for protests by Donald Trump supporters who were scammed by his false claims that the Presidential election was stolen. In the days before the assault, pro-Trump social media sites included explicit details regarding plans by MAGA Mob extremists to target both the Capitol and members of Congress, including maps of underground tunnels at the Capitol building and threats calling for "violence" and "war". While DHS and the FBI were aware of these threats --- and, therefore, so was Trump --- for reasons that still remain unclear, the Capitol Police were left wildly unprepared for the deadly siege.
  • And, in perhaps the most critical news of the day, President Biden announced, in no uncertain terms, his plans to remove all U.S. troops (other than those needed to protect diplomats) from Afghanistan no later than September 11th of this year, the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. He explained his reasoning and responded to critics of the move in remarks at the White House today, declaring that "It's time to end the forever war." We share extended excerpts from his address.

Then, we're joined by the great energy and climate journalist DAVID ROBERTS --- formerly of Vox, now publishing his own must-read newsletter called "Volts" --- for insight into Biden's plans to pay for what Roberts characterizes as a remarkably progressive infrastructure, jobs and climate proposal.

Introduced two weeks ago, the American Jobs Plan is to be paid for largely by an increase on the corporate tax rate. But, as Roberts detailed in a recent Volts article, it will also include a repeal of some of the permanent subsidies to the Fossil Fuel industry which they have enjoyed for decades, as written into the tax code. While many progressives are pleased about that, including Roberts, the fact is that those direct subsidies to the industry, as he points out, amount to a very small fraction of the cost of Biden's ambitious plan. Indeed, at some $35 billion for the entire industry, spread out over ten years, it also amounts to a very small amount of the true cost of the "indirectsubsidies" or "externalities" which the public pays for to boost profits for the polluting industry.

The direct subsidies, says Roberts, are "a drop in the bucket" compared to "the total amount of money that would be raised if you went after the indirect subsidies" with a carbon tax that accounts for the true cost of the industry's "products that produce a lot of social harm.  Harm in terms of air pollution that they generate, which then produces health costs, and people miss work. There's the climate damages that they do when they're burned. There's land pollution. There's abandoned oil and gas wells at the end of their life. Those cost a lot of money" to clean up, which the companies rarely, if ever, do.

"The oil and gas industry itself doesn't pay any of those costs. So when your product imposes all these costs and you don't pay them, the public steps in and pays them. Like the kids with asthma who are paying, rather than the fossil fuel companies." Roberts suggests "those externalities, as they're called, have always been the premise for a carbon tax, why we would want to put a tax on carbon so that you can recoup all these damages that the oil and gas industry are not paying for."

Still, setting aside how the package is to be paid for, Roberts concedes that he is "pleasantly surprised" about the "super-big and ambitious" package which includes, as he also details, a whole bunch of cool stuff that has received little coverage, since there is actually so much packed into the sweeping, long-overdue proposal.

How to get it passed, however --- and, specifically approved by "our emperor and benefactor Joe Manchin, long may He reign" --- is another matter, which we discuss in detail today as well.

"Where we are is so ludicrously far away from where we need to be, that it becomes difficult to judge anything in the middle," Roberts argues. "Is this a good big step or is it a grossly inadequate step? Yes. It's both. Everything we're going to do on climate change for the next decades will fit that description. It's going to be big and not big enough."

We then close today with a quick thought or two on a new statement from hundreds of companies and corporate executives in opposition to the GOP attempts to restrict voting rights around the country. We hope to have more time to discuss the matter on tomorrow's BradCast...

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New analysis finds stunning rise in RW domestic terror; Also: US 'out' of Afghanistan by 9/11/21; J&J vaccine 'paused'; Cop, police chief resign in MN; Appalling video of cops pepper-spraying black service member...
By Brad Friedman on 4/13/2021 6:41pm PT  

Hopefully today's BradCast, if nothing else, serves as a friendly reminder that Liz Cheney --- whether or not she met the incredibly low Republican bar by voting to impeach Donald Trump after the January 6th MAGA Mob insurrection at the U.S. Capitol --- is still not your friend, much less some sort of hero. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of summary below.]

Among the many news items and important insights and context covered on today's program...

  • The Biden Administration will finally withdraw the last of our 2,500 U.S. troops still deployed to Afghanistan by September 11th of this year, 20 years after the 9/11 attacks which resulted in our seemingly endless war there and elsewhere. For some reason we remain dubious about that exit date...even if we are hopeful.
  • The FDA and CDC are recommending a "pause" on the use of Johnson & Johnson's COVID vaccine after finding it led to rare blood clots in six women out of more than 3.8 doses administered in the U.S. For the record, the coronavirus, as of today, has killed more than 562,000 Americans to date, which is more deaths over the past year than 188 September 11th attacks.
  • After two nights of protests and unrest in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota --- a suburb outside of Minneapolis, where white, former cop Dereck Chauvin is currently on trial for the murder of George Floyd --- the city's Police Chief and 26-year officer Kim Potter resigned Tuesday following her Sunday killing of Daunte Wright. Potter says she accidentally shot the 20-year old black man while attempting to taze him after he was pulled over for expired tags on his vehicle. The incident was capture by Potter's body cam video released on Monday, the day after the shooting.
  • As disturbing as the video of Wright's killing was, another confrontation captured via body cam between cops and a black Hispanic man --- this one, a uniformed Army lieutenant named Caron Nazario --- is arguably even more disturbing for reasons we discuss on today's show. The incident, which included the berating and point-blank pepper-spraying at gun-point of an incredibly compliant and polite unarmed Nazario, occurred last December. The video tape, however, was only released publicly on Monday as part of Nazario's lawsuit against the abusive Windsor, Virginia police officers Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker who pulled him over on a dark highway for a missing permanent license plate on his new car. (Temporary tags were in the window and clearly visible in the video tape.) Gutierrez has now resigned and Virginia's Attorney General has opened a civil rights investigation into the incident, one of undoubtedly thousands of similar ones not caught on viral video tape each year in America.
  • Wyoming's Republican Rep. Liz Cheney has been attacked by many in her party and lauded by some on the non-right for living up to the absolutely lowest expectations for a Republican these days after having voted in favor of the second impeachment of Trump in January, for his incitement of the U.S. Capitol attack. But, as we've noted on several occasions since then, nobody should mistake her for anything other than her diabolically rightwing father's daughter. That was made clear on Monday during an appearance with Georgetown’s Institute of Politics and Public Service when she appeared to condemn the radical extremism rampant in her own party while simultaneously "both sidesing" the matter with references to extremist in "both parties". Sorry, Liz. This isn't even close to a "both sides" issue. But, if there are still any question about that...
  • ...Disturbing new data released by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), reaching back 25 years and analyzed by the Washington Post on Monday, finds "Domestic terrorism incidents have soared to new highs in the United States, driven chiefly by white-supremacist, anti-Muslim and anti-government extremists on the far right." And the numbers of both incidents and fatalities in recent years aren't even close to those attributed to "far left" attacks. We comb through the Post's analysis of the troubling data, while noting its alarming similarity to the warnings included in a 2009 DHS report on far-right domestic extremism that was ultimately retracted by the Obama Administration after Republicans pretended to be outraged about it (after saying nothing about a similar report regarding left-wing extremism released just prior.) Coincidentally we notice that WaPo's original headline for their analysis on Monday was "Domestic terrorism data shows right-wing violence on the rise." That was apparently quickly changed online yesterday to the more GOP-friendly "The rise of domestic extremism in America." We're sure Liz Cheney is delighted about that.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, chocked full of troubling climate change news, as usual, but featuring at least one story that leaves us moderately more hopeful today...at least when it comes to the ability for warring battery makers to come together for the good of our not-a-moment-too-soon electric car future...

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Guest: Sue Wilson of the Media Action Center; Also: More news from vaccination nation; More corporate pushback against vote suppression...
By Brad Friedman on 4/12/2021 6:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast, our lonely fight to save what is left of our public airwaves continues, as mainstream media outlets continue to benefit from --- and therefore do not bother to report on --- the march toward full corporate ownership of what were once our prized and protected airwaves. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But first up today, the breaking news on that nation's latest school shooting. Today it was in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Next, the vaccination of the nation continues apace, with about 36% of adult Americans now having received at least one shot. This week, many more states will open eligibility to all adults 16 years of age and older in advance of Joe Biden's national date for doing so in all 50 states next Monday (April 19). Here in Los Angeles, all adult residents will be eligible as of Tuesday. We offer a few tips for how to get an appointment quickly. (Specifically, Kaiser-Permanente appears to have tons of available appointments, for members and non-members alike, via their website at KP.org.)

While vaccinations are proceeding at an impressive pace, hitting another 24-hour record of 4.6 million shots on Saturday, the race to outpace the spread of variants continues. While much of the nation is plateauing in case numbers at high levels or even surging slightly upward, a number of states, particularly in the Northeast and upper Midwest are surging quite steeply. The most disturbing case at the moment, by far, is in Michigan, where its Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer has been begging the Biden Administration for a vaccine surge in response to a spike that is as bad there as it was last Fall. For reasons that aren't entirely clear, the Administration has offered additional vaccinators and test kits, but not additional vaccine as of now. The CDC Director said on Monday that what is needed in MI's case is not more vaccine, but lockdowns. However, one of the reasons the state is in such bad shape now is because Trump-incited rightwingers last year not only rebelled against Whitmer's mandatory lockdowns, but even hatched a plot to kidnap her after Trump tweeted to "Liberate Michigan!"

What happens in Michigan, unfortunately, won't stay in Michigan. Their surge will spread elsewhere unless someone figures out how to get it under control. Similarly, what happens in Georgia will absolutely not stay in Georgia, as Republican lawmakers across the country are continuing to push voter suppression measures akin to the suppressive law adopted by Republicans in the Peach State last month.

The corporate pushback against Georgia's anti-voting law and those in other states continues to grow. Over the weekend, 100 corporate executives held a Zoom meeting to discuss how they planned to respond. On Monday, the first major Hollywood production --- Will Smith's "Emancipation" film --- previously set to film in Georgia, announced they were pulling production from the state due to the new law. Other productions could follow suit, given that Georgia has become a bit of a filmmakers Mecca by offering generous tax breaks to Hollywood production teams.

In addition to the group of corporate execs planning their own actions against anti-democracy laws, a group of some 60 law firms is reportedly teaming up to take action as well. That said, it's pathetic that the citizenry has to rely on corporations to become angry enough that Republicans might pay attention to their concerns --- the same concerns that the GOP ignored when they came from the citizenry itself before Georgia adopted its new law. In today's America, the citizenry don't seem to matter. It's corporate dollars to (or withheld from) Republicans that appears to be our only chance of convincing desperate Republicans to block or rollback these onerous restrictions on access to the ballot box. We're happy to see companies jumping in, but its absurd that we need to rely on them to somehow save "democracy".

Speaking of the need to save democracy, we're then joined by media reform activist SUE WILSON of the Media Action Center. Late last year, she and former Republican FCC official Art Belendiuk joined us on the program to discuss actions they were taking to expose the fact that rightwing media behemoth Sinclair Broadcasting appeared to be blatantly violating FCC ownership rules by taking secret ownership of more than one television station in a number of major markets, using sham front companies to skirt federal scrutiny.

At the same time, as Wilson reports today at BradBlog.com, the FCC has been attempting to change its own media ownership rules to allow for more corporate consolidation by granting major broadcasters the right to own more than one TV station in any given market. The FCC's initial attempt to change the rule preventing companies from controlling all of the public airwaves in major markets was blocked by the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which found that the FCC violated the Administrative Procedures Act in not carrying out proper studies to determine the effects of the rule change on broadcast outlets owned by women and minorities. SCOTUS heard the FCC's appeal in the case on January 19th (Trump's last full day in office). The Court handed down its decision in FCC v. Prometheus Radio Project on April 1, overturning the lower court to allow the FCC's new, relaxed ownership rule, even as Justice Kavanaugh, in his opinion for the unanimous Court, conceded that the record evidence relied on by the FCC was "sparse". But, he held on behalf of the Court, the rules in question, now changed by the FCC, "were no longer necessary to serve the agency's public interest goals."

As Wilson found, however, the reason the record was so sparse was because the FCC had carried out no studies of its own to determine the adverse effect of consolidation on minority owned business before formalizing their new rules. They relied instead on private organizations to present evidence as to why the consolidation would harm minority broadcasters. But private organizations did not have access to much of the FCC's public information, because the federal agency hasn't collected the information from stations around the country.

It all amounts to what Wilson describes as a Catch-22 that ill-serves the public, and further undermines our public airwaves, handing off even more control to corporate interests, rather than we, the people. "This is the worst decision that nobody knows about," Wilson tells me. And, of course, they don't know about it, because mainstream corporate broadcasters benefits from the rule change, so they haven't bothered to mention much about it to any of their listeners or viewers.

Wilson argues that Congress needs to take action, and asks listeners to contact their members of Congress. "We're finding that Republicans and Democrats are very interested in this [because] this is bad for our whole country."

Finally, we open up the phones for a few quick minutes today, to hear from listeners on both the FCC's latest boondoggle and with more thoughts on vaccination nation...

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Guest: SCOTUS expert, author Ian Millhiser; Also: Amazon unionization vote goes down in AL, union cries foul; Biden creates commission to study SCOTUS reform; Everyone loves hating on Cruz and Graham...
By Brad Friedman on 4/9/2021 6:02pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Maybe we've been too quick to say that Republicans no longer have any governing philosophy or legislative agenda. They do. And it's being carried out. Just not be elected officials. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But first up today, following 'good' news for Alabamians on yesterday's BradCast, as the state's corrupt, lying, homophobic, vote suppressing Republican Sec. of State John Merrill was publicly revealed as the sleazy, cheating, liar that he is (joining a very long line of corrupt, lying, cheating top Republicans in the state, as we break down today), some less good news today for workers in the state.

The unionization vote at Amazon's warehouse in Bessemer, near Birmingham, apparently lost by a nearly two to one margin, after millions were spent in a campaign by the company to scare and misinform its workers. The union is crying foul, charging that the nation's second largest private employer violated labor laws in its campaign to propagandize workers at the facility. They vow to challenge the company's "lies, deception and illegal activities" with the National Labor Relations Board.

"We won’t rest until workers' voices are heard fairly under the law," the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) President railed in a statement on Friday after results were announced, claiming the company illegally interfered with the vote. "When they are, we believe they will be victorious in this historic and critical fight to unionize the first Amazon warehouse in the United States."

For their part, Amazon disputes all of the union's charges, asserting that their "employees heard far more anti-Amazon messages from the union, policymakers, and media outlets than they heard from us." That, even after Amazon posted anti-union messages, literally, inside of bathroom stalls at their Bessemer fulfillment facility and forced workers to sit through hours of seminars on the evils of unionization.

Meanwhile, at the White House today, Joe Biden announced his new Executive Order to form a bi-partisan Presidential Commission to examine potential reform of the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as the federal judiciary overall. The declaration makes good on a 2020 campaign promise in response to calls for expansion of the GOP's stolen and packed Court. A report is expected in six months, following a series of public hearings by the Commission. Of course, any actual reforms to SCOTUS would likely require ending or modifying the Senate filibuster, which Lord Joe Manchin has expressly prohibited at this time.

As our guest notes today, that all works out great for the Republican Party who, at first glance, appear to no longer have any actual party principles, governing philosophy or legislative agenda, beyond suppressing voting rights in order to keep themselves in power.

But that's not actually true, argues our guest, Supreme Court expert IAN MILLHISER, Senior correspondent at Vox.com and author of the new book, The Agenda: How a Republican Supreme Court Is Reshaping America. He details in both the book and his recent New York Times op-ed that the GOP does, in fact, have a legislative agenda. But it's not being carried out by either of the elected branches. "Its agenda lives in the judiciary," he explains, "and especially in the Supreme Court."

Millhiser runs down the extraordinary agenda that activist jurists at SCOTUS have accomplished on behalf of Republicans from 2011 to 2020, and warns there is much more to come as "the Supreme Court is now the locus of policy-making" while GOP lawmakers in Congress have halted the passage of pretty much any actual legislation.

"We are basically at the end of a lost decade in Congress," he tells me. "From 2011 when Republicans took over the House, until 2020 when the pandemic happened and doing nothing really wasn't an option, Congress did a lot of nothing.  They passed the Trump tax bill, but there was very little major legislation enacted." During that same period, however, the Republican-dominated activist SCOTUS was exceedingly busy.

"They severely weakened the Voting Rights Act. They basically dismantled much of our campaign finance law. They permitted states to opt-out of the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court created this new religious liberty doctrine that allows people with religious objections to the law to diminish the rights of other people. They weakened sexual and racial harassment laws. They expanded something called forced arbitration, which allows your boss, or really any company you deal with, to force you to sign away your right to sue them. They undercut public sector unions. They effectively eliminated the President's recess appointments power. They halted Obama's Clean Power Plan," Millhiser summarizes.

He goes on to preview more of what the Court has in store, particularly when it comes to voting rights, noting that this Court has been "attacking democracy in two ways --- by preventing the people in office from governing, and then also by harming the process that we use to pick who our leaders are."

So, how can this mess be turned around? Millhiser warns it's unlikely to be correctly quickly. But, until it can be, Americans must continue to vote in large enough numbers to ensure there are lawmakers in office who actually want to protect democracy rather than destroy it and, ultimately, reform our broken judiciary.

Finally, we leave on a slightly more upbeat note, with more from former Republican House Speaker John Boehner's new book in which describes his own party as "unrecognizable" now; says he was wrong to go along with the impeachment of Bill Clinton; calls out the rightwing media echo chamber for poisoning our politics; blames Donald Trump for sowing "chaos" and inciting the "bloody insurrection on January 6th" by "claim[ing] voter fraud without any evidence", while reserving his greatest contempt for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Why is that a "more upbeat note"? Because it gives us the chance to close today with a new song from national treasure Randy Rainbow about how much America loves to hate on both Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham. Enjoy!...

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Also: Other sorry sleazy news from a GOP in free fall; Biden's gun safety executive actions; Manchin's ridiculous blockade of progress...
By Brad Friedman on 4/8/2021 7:05pm PT  

We try like crazy to avoid sleazy, tabloid sensationalism on The BradCast. But, at this point at least, the Republican Party has made that pretty much all but impossible. Just covering any of the latest actual, legitimate news from the party which seems to be in free fall right now, necessarily requires a whole bunch of sleazy, cheap, tawdry stories that sound sensationalistic and tabloidy...but that's only because they are...whether we like it or not. [Audio link to today's full show is posted below this summary.]

On the way to the central story in our A Block today, regarding the stunning crash and burn of Alabama's Sec. of State who, until late yesterday was likely to have been a front-runner for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated next year by Republican Senator Richard Shelby, we are forced to reference a number of the sleazy cheap stories that have now become central to the GOP itself...above and beyond their nationwide attempt to suppress Democratic-leaning voters in a democracy...

  • Over the weekend, the New York Times exposed how the Trump Campaign ripped of its own donors before and after last year's election, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars by pre-checking checkboxes that were difficult to notice. That would turn one-time donations into recurring monthly or even weekly donations, when many if not most donors did not even notice. Donor credit cards were unwittingly maxed out and bank accounts were drained by the Trump scheme. But, even after the Times' exposé, it appears that the Republican Party itself, via its U.S. House fundraising arm, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), is now using that same sleazy trick to rip off its donors as well! They're arguably making it even worse by telling donors (all-caps in the original): "If you UNCHECK this box, we will have to tell Trump you’re a DEFECTOR."
  • Then of course, there's the ongoing sleazy story about Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz, one of Trump's top supporters in the U.S. House, who is reportedly being investigated for alleged sex trafficking of a minor. Today, several outlets are reporting that Gaetz' pal, Joel Greenberg, the former Tax Collector in FL's Seminole County, is now cooperating with prosecutors. Greenberg has already been charged with sex trafficking of a minor and more than 30 other federal charges, including stalking, identity theft, wire fraud, bribery, theft of government property, conspiracy to bribe a public official and creating fake IDs. Suffice to say, if it's true that he's cooperating, that is likely very bad news for Gaetz.
  • But today's sleaziest story concerns Alabama's Republican Sec. of State John Merrill. Long time readers and listeners may recall my bizarre run-in with Merrill back in 2017, when, after politely pointing out on Twitter that Merrill was wrong about the way Alabama's voting systems actually worked, the Secretary blocked him on the social media platform and left bizarre messages on Brad's cell phone. Later, when a federal court ruled in a lawsuit against Trump that public officials were violating First Amendment rights by blocking people on Twitter, I sought comment from Merrill's office to see if, like Trump had been ordered, Merrill planned to unblock the many constituents and election experts he had blocked on Twitter over the years. Not only did Merrill himself make it very clear to me that he had no intention of doing so, the entire matter devolved into a wildly bizarre email attack by Merrill. That all played out in 2017 and 2018.

    Move the clock forward to 2020, and Merrill, using his powers as Alabama's top election official, prevented Counties in his state from offering safe, curbside voting for those who feared exposure to the coronavirus inside polling places. Despite a state court order to allow it, Merrill refused and took the matter all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. He was ultimately victorious in his efforts to suppress Alabama voters who feared for their lives and were forced to choose between staying safe and casting a vote inside the polls during last year's Presidential election.

    And now, the clock turns forward to yesterday when, on Wednesday morning, Merrill --- who is married with two children and who had already begun his campaign for the GOP nomination to fill the U.S. Senate seat being vacated next year by Sen. Shelby --- denied an extra-marital affair with a 44-year old women that he described as a "stalker" who had been "harassing" him. Just hours later, however, by Wednesday afternoon, Merrill admitted to his years long involvement with the woman after AL.com played him a portion of a salacious phone call between him and her that she had provided to the media outlet. Yes, we share part of that call on today's show. Yes, we told you this was all sleazy. Yes, the story is actually much sleazier than we are sharing with you on air today. And, yes, there is something very wrong with Merrill, as we had repeatedly tried to explain over the years ever since my first bizarre encounter with him.

    Merrill, who is already well known for his anti-LGBTQ statements, has denied describing African-American judges and voters --- whose rights he's supposed to be protecting --- as "the coloreds," as the woman also alleges. We'll let you decide if you'd like to believe him or not. He says he is seeking help from "the Lord". He has yet to resign from his role as the state's chief election official or from his position as Chair of the Republican Secretaries of State Executive Committee.

  • In much less sleazy --- if still somewhat depressing news --- President Biden announced a number of new Executive Orders related to gun safety during a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden on Thursday. The President, accurately characterizing America's gun epidemic as an "international embarrassment" and "public health crisis", noted that between the mass killings at Atlanta massage parlors and the Boulder, Colorado grocery store shooting last month, there were more than 850 additional shootings that killed 250 and injured 500 in the U.S. In his own remarks at the ceremony, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland noted that "so far this year, guns have taken the lives of 11,000" in this country. While Biden's Executive Actions (which we detail during the show) are likely to have a marginal effect in curbing our nation's gun violence epidemic, they are no replacement for real legislation that might actually have a measurable effect on decreasing gun violence.
  • Of course, given that Republicans refuse to support any measures proposed by Democrats in the U.S. Senate --- much less regarding gun safety, God forbid, no matter how popular such measures are, even with Republican voters --- it will be impossible to pass any such legislation unless the filibuster in the Senate is either ended or reformed. Key to that, however, is the Democratic Senate's most conservative member, West Virginia's Joe Manchin. On Wednesday, pathetically enough, Manchin penned an op-ed at Washington Post declaring: "There is no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster." He went on to offer a few twisted, counterfactual reasons as to why, and even suggested he may block further legislation from passing via the Senate's Budget Reconciliation rules which allow for passage of certain budget related matters with a simple majority vote. Yes, today is that kind of a day. For what it's worth, the White House seems less bothered about Manchin's statements than we are.
  • Finally, with marginally brighter news scattered throughout, Desi Doyen's got our latest Green News Report, with details of the Biden Administration's pushback against silly GOP critiques of his $2.25 trillion infrastructure, jobs and climate proposal; a new warning about a wave of abandoned oil and gas mines; and General Motors' plans to go all in on electric vehicles, including with their first all-electric pickup truck!...

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