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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, December 8, 2022
Warnock Wins GA; Nightmare Election Law Case Heard by SCOTUS: 'BradCast' 12/7/22
Guest: FairVote's David Daley on 'bonkers' Independent State Legislature theory's 'seismic consequences' as weighed by High Court...
TRUMP ORG GUILTY ON
17 COUNTS OF FRAUD:
'BradCast' 12/6/22
But the accountability is only just beginning...
'Green News Report' 12/6/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
FBI probing terror attacks on NC electric grid; Russian missile attacks on civilian targets deepen Ukraine energy crisis; PLUS: EV sales surging in U.S. and around the world...
Recent GNRs: 12/1/22 - 11/29/22 - Archives...
All State-Funded Media is
Not Created Equally:
'BradCast' 12/5/22
Guest: Voice of America's former WH House Bureau Chief, Steve Herman; Also: New flu, COVID surge; Russia's latest offensive; Trump calls for 'termination' of U.S. Constitution...
Sunday 'Abandon All Hope' Toons
Give it up for PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
AZ Election Super-Geniuses: 'BradCast' 12/2/22
Cochise County ordered to certify results; Lake, Finchem attorneys sanctioned; Also: Warnock campaigner shot in GA; Boebert recount begins in CO; Dems avert rail strike, but about those paid sick days...
Seditious Conspiracy Verdicts and 'Mob Boss' Obstruction: 'BradCast' 12/1/22
Guest: Emptywheel's Marcy Wheeler; Also: Out of work loser, Dr. Oz; Hilarious sentence for GOP vote suppressors; Breaking: 11th Circuit nixes Special Master in Trump docs case...
'Green News Report' 12/1/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
DoJ sues to clean up water supply in Jackson, MS; Mauna Loa shuts global CO2 monitor; New methane rules for drilling; PLUS: Int. Dept to help tribal communities escape rising seas...
Recent GNRs: 11/29/22 - 11/17/22 - Archives...
Good News and Bad News in GA Early Runoff Voting: 'BradCast' 11/30/22
Guest: GA election expert, observer Jeanne Dufort; Also: Dems unite behind new House leadership; Bills passed to help avert rail strike; Meadows ordered to testify in GA...
Fun Times in MAGA Land!: Sedition! Collusion! Denial!: 'BradCast' 11/29/22
Oath Keepers chief 'guilty'; GOP money launderer 'guilty'; AZ Dem SoS/Guv-elect fights to keep Repubs from disenfranchising selves...
'Green News Report' 11/29/22
Breakthrough at U.N. climate conference; Americans at risk of power blackouts; Buffalo, NY buried by blizzard; PLUS: Houston, TX under boil water notice...
We're Back! But Election and Accountability Season Never Left: 'BradCast' 11/28/22
Pillow Guy is running!; Special Counsel wasting no time; Trumpers failed in AK too; Lake still pretending in AZ; Callers have a few thoughts...
Sunday 'Once More Unto the Breach' Toons
And here we go again...into PDiddie's latest post-Turkey toon collection...
Turkey Toons
Gobble gobble! Our thanks to the one and only Pdiddie for a special holiday collection of toons to help you burn off a few calories!...
Debating the Merits of Garland's New Special Counsel: 'BradCast' 11/21/22
Guests: Former DoJ prosecutor Randall D. Eliason of GWU, Const'l law expert John Bonifaz of FSFP; Also: Does the Const. disqualify Trump from 2024?...
Sunday 'Ready or Not' Toons
PDiddie's latest collection of the past week's most gut-busting political toons...
'Green News Report' 11/17/22
Crunch time for COP27 climate agreement; NASA says sea levels to rise a foot by 2050; Trump's 2024 announce-ment climate lies; PLUS: Climate disinfo surging again...
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...
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GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Guest: David Dayen of The American Prospect; Also: Follow science and save lives by voting NO on CA's Prop 31 vaping flavor ban!...
By Brad Friedman on 10/24/2022 6:35pm PT  

Today on The BradCast, some help for voters in California trying to make sense of some of those confusing propositions on this year's midterm ballot, and some new worries for the entire nation when it comes to the GOP's vow to destroy the so-called "administrative state". [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

We're joined today by DAVID DAYEN, investigative financial journalist, Executive Editor of The American Prospect and author of (most recently), Monopolized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power. We've got quite a bit to discuss with him today.

First, ride-share companies Lyft and Uber scammed California voters two years ago with the landslide passage of Prop 22, which the companies spent nearly $250 million to put on the ballot and misrepresent to voters. They claimed that their workers in the state should not be treated as employees under CA law --- with all the benefits that come with it --- but as a new type of independent contractor. The companies told voters that, under Prop 22, their drivers would make at least 20% above minimum wage (currently $15/hour in the state) and would receive other increased benefits for healthcare, etc.

Now, two years in, it turns out that Uber and Lyft drivers in CA are averaging just $6.20/hour. Dayen explains how that can possibly be, adding: "When you allow a corporation to set the terms of employment and to opt out of, in this case, the state system that governs employment arrangements, they're probably going to take advantage of it for their devices. And that's exactly what happened here."

This year, Lyft is supporting another CA ballot initiative, Prop 30, that would tax millionaires to help subsidize elective vehicles for their drivers and to fund CA firefighting efforts. The state's Democratic Party seems to believe them. The state's Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, on the other hand, doesn't. What explains that? We try to figure it out.

But, more importantly, Dayen argues the entire matter is symptomatic of what he now sees as CA's "failed experiment with direct democracy" in its ballot initiative process. Can it be reformed to make it work for the people as intended? Or has it been irreversibly taken over by corporate interests who have learned how to purchase their interests into state law?

Also today, Dayen breaks down last week's stunning ruling by a three-judge panel on the hard-right 5th Circuit Court of Appeals (all three were Trump appointees), finding that the way Congress chose to fund the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is, somehow, unconstitutional. The CFPB was created during the Obama Administration to protect consumers after the 2008 global banking crisis and subsequent Great Recession. It was the brainchild of Elizabeth Warren before she became a Senator. The Bureau is the only federal agency built and devoted specifically to protecting consumers, as opposed to corporations.

As Dayen explains, the court's ruling, if allowed to stand, would not only make the CFPB go away entirely (long a goal of Republicans), but also hundreds of regulations and consumer protections that the Bureau oversees. Moreover, if the judges are right about the funding mechanism for CFPB being unconstitutional, well then so is the funding for dozens of other critical federal agencies and programs!

"The logic of the 5th Circuit's ruling is that all of those other agencies [including the FDA] are also unconstitutional," says Dayen. "There are also a number of mandatory spending items in America that are not funded through the appropriations process. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps. The logic of the 5th Circuit's ruling is that all those things are all unconstitutional."

In addition to "this ruling defunding the police --- the consumer protection police" in a case brought by the rapacious payday lending industry, he details how this is the very definition of the GOP's years-long vow to "destroy the administrative state". In this case, as Dayen argues, there are also a bunch of protections for big banks that would be wiped out as well unless the ruling is overturned. So, maybe that little glitch will --- ironically enough --- help to save the CFPB.

One more matter we touch on with the author of Monopolized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power, the recently announced takeover of Albertsons by Kroger, which already owns Ralph's, Food For less, and many others as the nation's largest grocery store conglomerate. Albertsons is the second largest. They own Vons, Safeway and many others. In short, Kroger's takeover, if it goes through, would result in one company owning --- and having near monopolistic pricing power over --- more than 60% of the nation's grocery stores. As you might imagine, Dayen has a few warnings about this "very, very disturbing merger," but adds that he's pretty sure that Biden's Federal Trade Commission (FTC) "is going to take a healthy look at it."

Finally today, one more thought on one more initiative on this November's CA ballot, one which is likely to spread like a deadly virus to much of the rest of the country if successful here. Prop 31 would ban the sale of flavored e-juice for vaping and e-cigs in the state. The disingenuous claim by supporters is that flavors --- like the one that I used, espresso, to finally successfully quit smoking --- are attractive to kids. Prop 31 proponents argue this ban on flavored vape juice is needed to keep kids from vaping. But the fact is that kids are already banned from buying these products in CA! Instead, the ban would serve only to kill actual smokers by preventing them from switching to vaping, which scientists universally find to be far safer than smoking. More details in support of "NO" on CA's Prop 31 --- a maddening and deadly scam --- on today's BradCast...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Omar Ocampo of Inequality.org: Also: NE, WV primary results and who cares what they mean for Trump?; Senate abortion vote; Federal court ruling on semi-automatic weapons sales to children in CA...
By Brad Friedman on 5/11/2022 6:35pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: Sure, the supply chain was, and occasionally still is, a problem. So is Russia's war on Ukraine, obviously. But it's the greed of billionaires and the cowardice (or corruption) of public officials to do anything about that greed in this country that must be turned around in order to save the U.S. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first, speaking of corruption...New numbers out today from the Labor Department suggest that inflation may have peaked before April. As the Times alerted today, "Inflation moderated slightly in April, though the 8.3% annual gain in U.S. consumer prices remained uncomfortably high." As AP trumpeted in its breaking news iPhone alert: "U.S. inflation slowed slightly last month, a tentative sign that prices may be peaking while still imposing a financial strain on American households." Reuters: "U.S. consumer price growth slowed sharply to 0.3% in April, suggesting that inflation may have peaked." They were all similar....Well, except for Fox "News": "Inflation higher than expected in April, holding near 40-year high."

And you wonder why Rightwingers are so angry? It's still the Fox "News", stupid.

And speaking of stupid...Midterm primaries were held in Nebraska and West Virginia on Tuesday. (Happily, unlike in Ohio last week, we saw no reports of voting problems or voting system breakdowns, so far.) As you may have noticed, pretty much every news report about Tuesday's results focused on what they mean for Donald Trump and his party and the candidates he endorsed. The incumbent U.S. House member that Trump endorsed in WV who ran for the GOP nomination against another incumbent U.S. House member who voted for Joe Biden's bipartisan infrastructure bill won on Tuesday. Kingmaker Trump's power over the party is still strong! But the 8-time accused sexual harasser that Trump endorsed and stumped for in NE's GOP Gubernatorial primary lost. Trump's influence may be faltering!

As we discuss today, that framing by the corporate media --- reporting on these critical elections through the lens of Trump --- is wildly unhelpful and ill-serves the public at a time when democracy itself is on the line this November (and in 2024). It's not about Trump. He's already captured and broken the party. And that is true if he drops dead tomorrow and Ron DeSantis --- or anyone else --- takes his place. The damage is done. So, how can we fix it? Much more on that on today's show.

And speaking of failures all around... as the nation's death toll from COVID hits a staggering 1 million... The nation's corporations and rich people are doing just fine, thanks.

Big Oil continues to raise prices at the pump for consumers by pretending that its caused by post-pandemic supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine, even as they continue to rake in record profits (not revenue, but profits) in recent months. The profiteering --- under the guise of supply chain-induced "inflation" --- is also seen in other industries, of course, including the food industry, as well as the apparel business. In their latest reports on the industry profiteering, Accountable.us President Kyle Herrig appropriately derides "the industries most unapologetic about charging their customers more during a fragile economic recovery, apparently just because they can." And they can, because we let them develop monopolies and near-monopolies so there is little or no price competition left in the "free market".

And then there are the the nation's 727 billionaires whose growth in net worth over the two-plus years of the pandemic --- while you were struggling to stay employed, housed and fed --- is up $1.71 trillion from March 2020 to May 2022. That's a gain of more than the entire annual GDP of Canada for just those 727 U.S. billionaires. The biggest winner seems to have been Elon Musk, whose personal wealth was valued at just under $25 billion in March of 2020. Now, after two years of a pandemic economy, his wealth is said to be $255 billion as of the beginning of this month.

How did that happen? Why did that happen? What can and should be done about it? And does anyone in D.C. --- any one, from any party --- have the courage and ability to lead the nation to do anything about it?

All of those questions and more are answered today by our guest, OMAR OCAMPO of the Institute for Policy Studies' Program on Inequality and the Common Good, who asks today, "What about the rest of us? The median income, comparing 2020 to 2021, for your average U.S. worker has actually decreased by $2,000. And our median household wealth, comparing 2019 to 2001, has actually decreased. So yes, when you look at it by income or wealth percentile, it has been the top 10%, but especially the top 1%, that have seen impressive gains."

Ocampo helps explain how it happened, and what steps can and must be made to reverse this obscene continuing trend. Among the policy ideas discussed --- several of which have long been pushed by members of the progressive caucus in Congress --- a wealth tax on the assets of the richest Americans; partial student loan forgiveness; establishing a federal Commission on Profiteering, empowered with the ability to claw back some of what has been robbed from American consumers; strengthening organized labor and democracy itself.

And, yes, he explains, that will mean voting for more Democrats in Congress and at all levels of government. Hopefully good ones. Or this is going to continue to get much, much worse.

"The Republicans, from an ideological perspective, they are not interested in having some type of government intervention in order to solve societal problems," Ocampo charges. "They normally pivot towards philanthropy. But now is not the time to pivot to philanthropy, mainly because philanthropy does not scale, and it also denies public accountability for social problems or things that have to deal with the public good. So issues that affect the public should involve public input, and it should be carried out by democratic institutions."

"Economic inequality translates into political inequality. And the greater your material resources, the greater your access to participate in the state," he tells me. "This is very detrimental to democracy, because it makes the democratic institutions unresponsive to what the majority wants. The majority wants increased taxes on the wealthy, but it never seems to happen. That's probably because of their influence they have on both political parties."

"Elections matter, and to alleviate, especially in the short term, it would be best to elect Democrats. Because there is a section of the Democratic Party, specifically those that self-identify as progressives, who care about wealth inequality and know that it has distorting effects across our whole society."

Finally today, speaking of things getting much worse... Democrats held a show vote in the U.S. Senate to codify abortion rights (the Constitutional freedoms about to be taken away by the stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court) after the Women's Health Protect Act was already passed by Democrats in the House. As expected, all Republicans and Joe Manchin voted against it, so the measure failed to reach the 60 votes necessary to do almost anything in the undemocratic Senate.

And, also breaking during today's program, an insane, corrupted federal appeals court in California decided that the state's law restricting the purchase of semi-automatic firearms to those 21 or older is a violation of the Constitution's 2nd Amendment. So, yup, apparently 12-year olds in CA can now buy semi-automatic weapons! Have fun, kids!

Did I mention we need more democracy and fewer corrupted federal judges? Yeah, that also comes with voting. Please get busy. Thanks...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 3/10/2022 10:54am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Biden bans Russian fossil fuel imports, Americans approve, even if it raises gas prices; Europe rapidly overhauls its energy security strategy; Dems eye tax on Big Oil profiteering; PLUS: Global CO2 emissions hit new all-time high last year... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

GNR's now celebrating 13 YEARS of independent green news, politics, analysis, snarky comment and connecting climate change dots over your public airwaves!
PLEASE CLICK HERE TO HELP US CELEBRATE WITH A DONATION!

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

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Myth-busting: America can't solve its gas price problem (or its Russia problem) with drilling; GOP's Biggest Whoppers About Biden And Fossil Fuels; Trump oversaw massive increase in Russian oil imports on his watch; Shell is betting big on offshore wind following UK ban on Russian oil; Right-wing media is pinning the blame on Greta Thunberg and climate activists for Russian invasion of Ukraine; EPA restores CA authority to set its own auto pollution rules; Biden pushes Congress to help burn pit veterans... PLUS: Half of American adults exposed to harmful levels of lead as children... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




Also: 'A lot of people are about to get sick' due to 'explosive' Omicron...
By Brad Friedman on 12/16/2021 6:30pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we cover both COVID and SCOTUS and how to try and stay safe from and/or fight back against the very serious threats now posed by both of these hideous, rogue, all-caps acronyms. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

First up, it's COVID. Specifically, the Omicron variant, as the CDC finds that, according to their latest data, unvaccinated people are 14 times more likely to die and 11 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than those who are vaccinated. Those numbers seem to refer to those vaccinated by two mRNA shots without a booster shot, which is now key to fighting the quickly rising threat of Omicron.

As Josh Marshall bluntly warns in one of his chilling recent updates on newly emerging data on the new, highly transmissible variant --- which still include a number of unknowns --- "A lot of people are about to get sick."

New studies just coming in from around the world suggest that Omicron is incredibly aggressive, even for those with some immunity from two vaccine shots or previous infection. A booster shot, the studies are finding, help tremendously to ward off both the likelihood of infection, as well as the worst symptoms. Two doses and a booster will roughly offer the same protection against Omicron as two shots alone did against Delta. Marshall reports the data show "late December through January will be explosive in terms of numbers of infections" in the U.S. He repeated a similar warning based on newer incoming data on Omicron last night: "The rate of growth is simply explosive. There’s no other way to put it...we should expect a very, very large wave of infections in the coming weeks...The pace and scope of the surge looks likely to be something like the original one in the Spring of 2020."

Too many people, I believe, have been placating themselves on the somewhat misleading data point suggesting Omicron infection appears to be less severe than previous variants. There are a number of reasons that it could be (including the fact that many now have at least some immunity due to vaccination or antibodies from a previous infection), but the severity level misses the point of the somewhat terrifying transmissibility numbers emerging right now and how that is likely to overwhelm health systems in this country and result in a lot of people dying. A more mild disease that infects 5 times more people is equally or potentially even more deadly.

The current surge under way in the U.S. is still almost entirely comprised of Delta cases. Once Omicron --- which is really good at breaking through immunity created by both infection antibodies and vaccines --- begins to rise over the next 2 to 4 weeks, things could get really bad on several levels. We are already seeing deaths spike again to more than 1,700 a day in the U.S., and that's almost entirely from Delta.

Bottom line: Get boosted. "It's not a marginal difference" from two shots, Marshall advises, based on a very close reading of emerging data and discussion with experts, "It's a big one." He goes on to write: "I would also seriously consider limiting obvious vectors of exposure: indoor activities in large groups, eating indoors, large crowds indoors or out. We all have our own levels of risk aversion and we can’t hide forever. But you should assume that your risk of being exposed to COVID is about to go up a lot. So plan accordingly.

Of course, he's hardly the only one sending this similar message. "All the models right now are flashing bright red," warns New York "Intelligencer" science writer David Wallace-Wells in one of his latest pieces headlined "Omicron is About to Overwhelm Us: The new COVID variant has all the makings of a mass wave." Pay attention please. Get boosted.

Next up, it's SCOTUS. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) penned a blistering --- if absolutely correct on every key point --- op-ed at Boston Globe yesterday, calling for the expansion of the Republicans "packed" and "stolen" and "corrupt" Supreme Court. The call comes not a moment too soon (and, perhaps a year or so too late). Still, it's good to hear elected officials speak as directly about the threat now posed by this corrupted, partisan Court to "basis principles of law" which now "threaten the democratic foundations of our nation."

We share most of her piece on air today. But if you don't listen to the show, read her must-read piece. She breaks down precisely how Mitch McConnell's hypocritical "Republican court-packing has undermined the legitimacy of every action the current court takes" as its illegitimate 6 to 3 rightwing "supermajority will continue to threaten basic liberties for decades to come." Democrats, she advises, must exercise their Constitutional Article III, Section 1 authority to change the size of the Court, as Congress has done at least seven times before. That number doesn't even include what happened after McConnell, corruptly "reduced the size of the court for over a year solely for ... partisan gain and then turned around and jammed through another nominee days before losing the presidency."

But, as welcome as op-eds are, action is better. So we were delighted when, immediately after the Supremes last week once again allowed Texas' clearly unconstitutional six-week abortion ban law to stay in place, the Governor of California announced plans for actual action to push back. If its now judicially acceptable to write laws that both undermine Constitutional rights and evade judicial review by allowing private citizens to enforce it, as the Texas law does, the same can be done with other rights.

On Saturday, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared his intention to "work with the Legislature and the Attorney General on a bill that would create a right of action allowing private citizens to seek injunctive relief, and statutory damages of at least $10,000 per violation plus costs and attorney’s fees, against anyone who manufactures, distributes, or sells an assault weapon or ghost gun kit or parts in the State of California."

"If states can now shield their laws from review by the federal courts that compare assault weapons to Swiss Army knives, then California will use that authority to protect people’s lives, where Texas used it to put women in harm’s way," the Governor noted in his brief statement. "If the most efficient way to keep these devastating weapons off our streets is to add the threat of private lawsuits, we should do just that."

He seems quite serious. And so does New York Attorney General Leticia James who, when asked about whether her state might take similar actions to Newsom's this week on ABC's The View, cited the outrageous immunity against prosecution that gun manufacturer's have been afforded by federal statute to say: "Yes! When I heard about that, I said to my team, we need to follow his lead."

Good. It's remarkable that the extremist radical rightwingers on the High Court either didn't see this coming, or didn't care. Of course, if the Supremes are cool with the Texas law as written, what is to stop any state from allowing "lawful" private, vigilante law suits against people who are simply exercising their First Amendment rights by, say, wearing a MAGA hat or being members of the Republican Party? In truth, nothing stops that at all, which is why Sen. Warren's op-ed is so on point.

Finally, as if those threats are aren't enough, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more threats to our climate than the Supreme Court should allow us to fit into six minutes...

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: 'Jackpot' author Michael Mechanic; Also: Trump's politicized DoJ spied on Dems in unprecedented violation of Separation of Powers...
By Brad Friedman on 6/11/2021 6:30pm PT  

The volume of incoming huge news stories these days is getting to be as overwhelming as it was during the Trump years. But it's also a reminder to anyone who has deluded themselves into thinking that the Trump Era is over, it is anything but. We were planning on covering ProPublica's blockbuster bombshell exclusive this week on today's BradCast --- and we still do --- though it has been somewhat eclipsed by last night's New York Times blockbuster bombshell exclusive. We do our best to cover both today. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

First, the remarkable news broken by the Times late on Thursday is that Donald Trump's wildly corrupt Dept. of Justice was a whole lot more corrupt than we have all yet fully appreciated. As it turns out, in an unprecedented move, his DoJ secretly subpoenaed phone, email and text message data of Democratic members of Congress on the House Judiciary Committee. But it wasn't just members that Trump saw as political enemies, including top Judiciary Dem Adam Schiff and Rep. Eric Swalwell. It was also their staff and even their children, one of whom was a minor, according to the Times' blockbuster.

All of that, even as the Trump Administration spent years blocking Congress from lawful subpoenas for testimony and documents from the White House itself and virtually every Executive branch agency, under the false premise that it would violate the Constitution's Separation of Powers, granting co-equal powers to both the Legislative and Executive branches. All the while, the Trump Administration was actually --- literally --- spying on members of the Legislative branch, while claiming (disingenuously) that Congress was overstepping its bounds by issuing lawful, public subpoenas for testimony to members of the Executive branch.

The stunning news comes after a week in which we previously learned that the Trump DoJ also secretly obtained phone, email and text records of journalists at the Washington Post, New York Times and CNN. Democrats claim to be outraged by it all, and vow to investigate. But without real legal consequences, accompanied by sweeping reforms by both Congress and, most immediately, Merrick Garland's Dept. of Justice, the appalling and outrageous and unlawful acts carried out during four years of the Trump Administration will absolutely be carried out again --- and even worse next time --- in the very near future.

Speaking of much-needed, long-overdue action from Congress, the ProPublica bombshell this week revealed that --- based on a "vast cache of IRS information" somehow obtained by the non-profit media outlet on the nation's wealthiest men --- American billionaires have been allowed to avoid almost all federal income taxes for years on their accumulated and still-surging wealth. As the media outlet reports in their jaw-dropping, nearly 6,000 word exclusive this week, "billionaires like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Warren Buffett pay little in income tax compared to their massive wealth — sometimes, even nothing."

Their months-long analysis of the data "demolishes the cornerstone myth of the American tax system: that everyone pays their fair share and the richest Americans pay the most. The IRS records show that the wealthiest can --- perfectly legally --- pay income taxes that are only a tiny fraction of the hundreds of millions, if not billions, their fortunes grow each year."

The raw IRS data show that billionaires like Bezos (the world's wealthiest man), Musk, Buffett and the others often pay zero in federal income taxes. Overall, the nation's top 25 wealthiest --- whose fortunes increased collectively by $401 billion between 2014 and 2018 --- paid a tax rate on that accumulated wealth of just 3.4% on average. That, compared to a median tax rate of 14% paid by regular, middle-class Americans, as the U.S. tax code rewards wealth over labor.

The New York Times explains in its own coverage of ProPublica's scoop, that even as Congress and President Biden bicker over tweaks to marginal tax rates, the ultra-wealthy avoid such trivialities all together. "The ProPublica revelations got to a widely understood issue: that the superrich earn virtually all their wealth from the constantly rising value of their assets, particularly in the stock market, and that the sales of those assets are taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income from a paycheck...But the analysis also revealed a less recognized strategy employed by the superrich: taking huge loans, using their assets as collateral. It allows them to avoid selling their assets and facing taxation, and even to write off some lending costs. In that way, Mr. Bezos and Mr. Buffett were able to show yearly income losses even as their wealth grew by billions of dollars."

Mother Jones' Senior Editor MICHAEL MECHANIC joins us today with a great deal of context and perspective on this long running, if legal, scam, after spending a couple of years hanging out with the ultra rich while researching his newly published book, Jackpot: How the Super-Rich Really Live --- and How Their Wealth Harms Us All.

Mechanic underscores the scam revealed by ProPublica: "As we've seen from the way the tax code works, wealth begets wealth, and we reward capital over wages. If you make a fortune on a stock, you pay a maximum of 20% when you sell that stock. In the meantime, when you hold it, you don't pay any taxes at all --- it's called 'unrealized gains.' What these billionaires have done is they just borrow against that. They never have to sell, so they never even pay the capital gains tax.  Meanwhile, you and I are getting a paycheck. If we made as much as they did, we'd be charged 37%.  So it's 37% versus 20% for assets, but they're not even paying the 20% because they're not selling the assets. They're taking out low-interest loans, paying a few percent, living on that money." And, yes, even as the cost of the interest would be less than they'd have to pay in taxes if they sold assets to live on their own money instead, they actually get to deduct the cost of those loans from their income taxes!

We discuss, among other things, how all of this actually hurts average Americans; how, because of it, trillions of dollars are not available to the government to spend on healthcare, schools, climate change, infrastructure and other public services; what, if anything, can or will be done about it by Congress --- where Republicans (and too many Democrats) seems to be just fine with a system that rewards wealth over work; whether proposals like Elizabeth Warren's wealth tax of .02 cents on every dollar of wealth by those worth more than $50 million could ever be adopted in Congress or is even Constitutional; and how all of this wealth doesn't even get taxed upon death when it's passed from generation to generation, as Mechanic reports at MoJo today.

"There's always been this argument, from the very beginning, that if you tax investors and business people, those people then won't invest, won't create jobs," Mechanic observes. "It's a spurious argument. If you have $100 million and somebody raises the capital gains rate, does that mean you're not going to start a company? You're not going to put it into the stock market? No, of course not. What else are you going to do with your money, put it under your mattress?!"

And, yes, we also discuss his new book (highly lauded by the legendary Bill Moyers!), which Mechanic describes as "not a polemical book. It's a funny, entertaining, and enraging character-driven narrative, in which I basically hang out with super-wealthy people and their minions. I interview researchers, I talk to a woman who trains billionaires' nannies in physical combat, [and] a guy who builds luxury safe rooms. It's a journey of the American wealth fantasy and how it's gone off the rails."

So, hey, if you're not already enraged enough by today's program, please buy Mike's book! It's out just in time to enrage Dad for Father's Day!

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Guest: Chuck Collins of Institute for Policy Studies' Inequality.org; Also: 2021 flu season proves masks work; Swalwell latest to sue Trump...
By Brad Friedman on 3/5/2021 7:00pm PT  

Prepare to be outraged by some gobsmacking and maddening numbers from today's guest on The BradCast. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

But first, speaking of startling numbers, statistics from this year's flu season prove that masks and social distancing do indeed help to prevent viral transmission and death. That, of course, is bad news for residents of Texas and Mississippi, where their idiot Governors this week lifted statewide mask mandates and all restrictions on businesses, even as COVID infection rates are on the rise in both states. Both are among the top 10 worst states in the nation in that regard in recent weeks. Mississippi leads the nation, with Texas not far behind. And that was before they ended statewide mandates this week in contradiction of strong advice from health experts.

In Washington, Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA), one of the House Impeachment Managers during Donald Trump's second Impeachment Trial, filed suit against the disgraced former President, his son Don Jr., Rudy Giuliani and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) for their roles in inciting the January 6th U.S. Capitol insurrection. Swalwell's civil complaint follows on a similar one filed last month by Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson and the NAACP.

At the same time today, the U.S. Senate continued debate over the American Rescue Plan, President Biden's $1. 9 trillion emergency COVID relief and stimulus package after Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin forced an all-night reading of the 628-page measure that was passed by the House late last week. In addition to funds to speed distribution of vaccines, the bill includes $1,400 payments to Americans making less than $75,000, an extension of federal unemployment benefits, hundreds of millions to reopen schools safely, and to supplement lost revenue to hard-hit, cash-strapped states and cities.

As tens of millions of Americans have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and are both struggling to keep a roof over their heads and put food on the table, the relief can't come soon enough, despite zero votes of support from Republicans in either the House or Senate, so far, for the otherwise wildly popular bill. Johnson described it as a "boondoggle" full of unnecessary spending that would blow out the national deficit, even as it will cost the same amount of money that he and all the other Republicans voted in favor of when they passed Donald Trump's 2017 tax cuts for mostly wealthy Americans and corporations.

But while Senators --- even on the Democratic side --- squabble over whether unemployment payments should be $400 a week and last through August, or $300 a week and last until September, America's 664 billionaires could cover almost the entire cost of the measure from only the money they've made during the last 11 months of the pandemic.

We spoke last Summer with CHUCK COLLINS, Director of the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies, where he co-edits Inequality.org, about his "Billionaire Bonanza 2020" report. Today, he joins us again with a maddening update to that report, finding that, as more than half a million Americans died, 73 million lost work, nearly 100,000 business permanently closed, 29 million adults reported their household did not have enough food over the past week and 11 million children didn't eat enough because their household couldn't afford to fully feed them, the 664 billionaires in the U.S. actually gained $1.3 trillion in added wealth since the beginning of the pandemic!

The profits of that handful of mostly white, male billionaires could cover more than two-thirds of the entire $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and, "At $4.2 trillion," Collins' updated report reveals, "the total wealth of America's 664 billionaires is also more than two-thirds higher than the $2.4 trillion in total wealth held by the bottom half of the population, 165 million Americans."

Those are just some of the startling numbers from his latest report, highlighting the obscene inequality in the U.S., made even worse by the nearly year-long coronavirus pandemic. Shamefully, all of the numbers are still worse for women and people of color. "The inequalities of income and wealth and the racial wealth divide were the pre-existing conditions as we went into the pandemic," he explains. Collins tell me that "the number of people who have no financial reserves --- zero, or negative financial wealth" is "14% of white households...but double that, 28% of Black households, 26% of Latino households...[and] that was before the pandemic."

"That's why 660 billionaires can have almost twice as much as the bottom half of US households --- because the bottom half doesn't have much!," he reports. So, what to do about it? Will the American Rescue Plan help? How about Sen. Elizabeth Warren's recently refiled "Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act" that would tax two cents of every dollar of wealth above $50 million, generating at least $3 trillion in revenue over ten years in the bargain.

Warren cites Collins' new study in making the case for her new wealth tax proposal. Her proposal is wildly popular among voters of all political stripes, as she pitched a similar version during her Presidential run last year. The fact that it isn't already the law, Collins argues, "is simply a reflection of the power of wealthy interests to block change in our political system. It's not that they're changing the political system --- they're able to stop and thwart and block change. And that's unfortunately what we're up against."

"That's the debate we're watching right now in the Senate," he adds, "where half the members in the Senate, they don't have a program to help America get through these hard times. They just want to block the one that would actually make a difference. Unfortunately, the Republicans have been the 'Party of No' because they don't want government to succeed in making a difference in people's lives, because that would undermine their whole program."

Yes, we've got a lot to discuss today with Collins, whose newest book out this month, The Wealth Hoarders: How Billionaires Spend Millions to Hide Trillions, details "the shadowy Wealth Defense Industry," which he explains today as well. Sen. Bernie Sanders writes that "Chuck's book reveals a blueprint for reversing this obscene inequality so we can take back our democracy and ensure that our government works for everybody --- not just the billionaire class and wealthy campaign contributors"...

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Guest: Maya Worman of Univ. of Chicago Harris Cyber Policy Initiative; Also: Trump facing big trouble in NY; Callers ring in on the VEEPStakes...
By Brad Friedman on 8/3/2020 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Elections are under threat once again this year, and not just from the President of the United States. But one group of cybersecurity experts launched a new initiative on Friday to try and help --- and not a moment too soon. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, what suffices for some good news today: The Manhattan District Attorney seeking 8 years of Donald Trump's tax records and those from the Trump Organization suggested in a court filing today that his investigation requires those documents since he is examining "extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization...dating back over a decade." Until today, the office of Manhattan District Attorney District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. had indicated only that he was probing the hush-money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal before the 2016 election. Those payments were meant to keep them quiet about affairs with Donald Trump.

Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen is serving a three year sentence for his part in that criminal campaign finance conspiracy which both he and federal prosecutors say was "directed" by Trump himself. But today's court filing makes clear that Vance's probe goes far beyond that. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court said that subpoenas of Trump's financial services institution by the Grand Jury impaneled by Vance were permissible, though they sent the case back to a lower court for one more review, delaying any potential state prosecution of Trump or his associates likely until after the election. Now we have some confirmation that Vance's state investigation (which is immune to Presidential pardon power) appears much broader than previously publicly known.

In other accountability news, a 17-year old from Tampa, Florida was arrested on Friday, accused of being the mastermind behind a scheme last month that commandeered the Twitter accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and other high-profile politicians, CEOs and pop stars. The conspiracy --- two others were also arrested, including a 19-year old from the UK and a 22-year old from Orlando --- was an attempt to scam more than $100,000 in Bitcoin out of gullible people who followed the Twitter accounts of those celebrities, which were taken over by the alleged perpetrators.

As we've observed before, if multi-billion dollar social media companies such as Twitter, which spends huge sums of money on cybersecurity, can't keep their systems safe from hacks like this, what chance does Mr. and Mrs. Local County Election Clerk have in protecting their computer voter registration databases, electronic pollbooks, computerized voting systems and computer tabulators this November? That effort is made all the more impossible this year thanks to the expansion of Vote-by-Mail in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the refusal of Republicans in Congress to appropriate the $4 billion that election officials across the country have been seeking for months in hopes of expanding election systems and protecting it from cyber-intrusion and other related failures this year. The federal government --- via the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) --- offers extremely limited support for the nation's 13,000 independent voting jurisdictions.

But with just over 90 days until Election Day now, a new initiative is being launched out of the University of Chicago Harris Cyber Policy Initiative called the Election Cyber Surge. The initiative, according to its Executive Director MAYA WORMAN, who joins us on the show today, is to bring volunteer cybersecurity and voting systems experts together with local elections officials to help them with whatever cyber-related problems or concerns they may be facing before the election. The hope, she explains, is to help prevent cyberintrusions and ransomware attacks and the like before they happen.

"The need is clear," she tells me. "I think it's increasingly more obvious to those who aren't following this closely, who aren't following this beat. That, in itself, is a strong indicator that we are needed. ... It's not just voter rolls. It's not just the output of the machines, but all of the things in between, including maps of where all of your polling place might be, the hours that they're open, what the deadlines are to register, the information you need once you get there --- all of this stuff can be tweaked just slightly. That could affect the major portion of the voters in any given jurisdiction."

Given the enormous complexity of today's voting and counting systems --- not to mention often-interconnected voter registration systems and electronic pollbooks --- the free help offered by Cyber Surge is likely to be invaluable to thousands of local jurisdictions who may have limited, if any, IT support and a lack of access to cybsersecurity experts. Though we are now just three months out from this year's critical Presidential election (mail-in ballots will go out and early voting will begin in as few as 45 days in some places), Worman says she is confident that the new initiative --- born out of DefCon's "Voting Village", a hacking conference where white-hat hackers have been successfully trying their luck on various voting systems since 2017 --- will prove helpful to myriad election officials who, too often, rely only on private voting systems vendors for support.

"More than 50% of all election officials rely on at least 6 different vendors," Worman observes. "I think there's obviously an expectation that the people with whom they are doing business will not lead them astray, and maybe they won't. But when you have so many different, overlapping tools and systems and a network, and it's all being fed by an antiquated database that is protected who knows how, that is where vulnerabilities from having multiple vendors comes in."

Worman, and (hopefully) cavalry of experts aim to help. And quickly. The effort will be more necessary than ever this year given the necessary changes being made to voting during the pandemic and, thanks to Republican intransigence in Congress, a lack of financial resources to pay for it. "The days of making sure that the room where the ballots are kept is locked --- we're far beyond that now. So a reality check that is gentle, but based in reality, is critical," she warns, adding: "Without sounding too trite, I think staying positive is key here. I think it is very clear that there are more people who want our elections to work than who don't want them to work. And that's important to remember."

Finally, on a somewhat lighter note today, we open up the phone lines to listeners for their thoughts on a) who they would like to see presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden choose as his Vice-Presidential candidate and b) who those same listeners fear he will actually name. Some of the responses from callers may surprise you!...

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Guest: Investigative journalist David Dayen of The American Prospect; Also: Biden leads Trump by 8 in MI and PA, according to Fox 'News' poll...
By Brad Friedman on 4/23/2020 6:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We start with good news for Democrats and Joe Biden before moving to the bad for Nancy Pelosi and her puzzling pick for a key oversight panel and seemingly terrible negotiation skills on emergency relief bills. [Link to full audio of today's show is posted below.]

On Wednesday, moments after we got off air yesterday, Donald Trump tossed his sorry pal Brian Kemp, Georgia's dumb-as-dirt and illegitimate Governor, under the bus, by pretending that he "disagreed strongly" with and felt it was "too soon" for Kemp's scheme to re-open nail salons, barber shops, tattoo and massage parlors and more in the Peach State as of Friday. That, even though Trump had reportedly called Kemp the day before to congratulate him on the move. At the same time, he was condescendingly tweeting about how much he cares about the old people who will be killed when Republican Governors across the country begun re-opening their states against the advice of health experts.

Trump's latest reversal is likely for good reason. One, the top health officials on his coronavirus task force pretty much insisted that he condemn Kemp's deadly decision and two, older voters --- a key part of his base --- appear to be abandoning Trump in droves thanks to his terrible response to the virus. New polling from Trump's favorite source, Fox "News", now shows Joe Biden beating Trump by 8 points in both Michigan and Pennsylvania, two states that are crucial to Trump's hopes of being re-elected. The Democratic Governors of both states, according to Fox, are very popular while Trump is decidedly not. In both states, large majorities of voters strongly support current stay-at-home restrictions, even if it continues to damage the economy.

The information in those polls amounts to the good news today for Dems. Then we turn to the mess that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seems to be creating in D.C., while members are back in their districts and she is left to negotiate new relief bills, largely by herself with Mitch McConnell in the Senate.

DAVID DAYEN, Executive Editor of The American Prospect and author of the upcoming book, Monopolized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power, joins us again today to catch us up on just some of the very important scoops he has been churning out each day in his daily, must-read "Unsanitized" report at The Prospect.

He has been causing a lot of problems for Pelosi of late, after exposing her embarrassingly poor pick for the four-person Congressional oversight board created by the CARES Act to oversee trillions of dollars of corporate bailouts and giveaways in the bill. Each of the Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate get to pick one member each for the panel. Freshman oversight bulldog Rep. Katie Porter (CA) --- who would be perfect for the job --- had made clear she was hoping to get it. Nonetheless, Pelosi selected her friend, freshman Rep. Donna Shalala (FL), who has absolutely no experience in financial oversight. Worse, much worse, as Dayen first revealed last weekend, Shalala, who previously served as Bill Clinton's Health and Human Services Secretary and CEO of The Clinton Foundation, had mountains of conflicts due to stock investments in dozens of companies whose bailout funds she was being asked to oversee.

The story gets even worse, however, as Shalala first claimed she had sold most (if not all) of those stocks, before Dayen found that, if she had, she failed to publicly report those transactions as mandated by the federal STOCK Act, as her office had previously tried to claim she had. After another day or so of this fact-pummeling by Dayen at The Prospect --- eventually picked up by the corporate media --- Shalala was forced to admit that she, in fact, failed to file those mandatory disclosures. She apologized, claiming she had failed to understand the requirements of the Act, despite it being incredibly simple --- unlike the task of overseeing trillions of dollars in loans and grants by the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve, as required by the oversight panel on which she is now seated.

"How is Donna Shalala going to be in a hearing with the Federal Reserve, asking them about the rules and procedures of the corporate bailout, when she couldn't follow the most simple, basic step required of her as a member of Congress?," Dayen wonders.

Not a promising sign, even as Dayen reports that Shalala continues to have large holdings in a health care company that would also be subject to oversight by her panel. "The one stock she did not sell was in United Health, the health insurance company that she was on the board of for several years. She still holds that now. So she is a walking conflict of interest even in her normal duties in Congress," he tells me.

Nonetheless, nearly a week into Dayen's coverage, after a belated apology from Shalala for her violations of federal law, Pelosi continues to stand by her poor selection. Why? Well, Dayen discusses that and much more on today's show (including the much better selection of former Elizabeth Warren protege, Bharat Ramamurti, by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for the same panel.)

We also discuss what is --- and, more disturbingly, is NOT! --- in the nearly $500 billion bailout bill passed by the House on Thursday, after largely being crafted by Mitch McConnell in the Senate as Dems continue to give away pretty much all of the leverage they may have had for a list of things Dayen argues they should have fought for, including: "State and local government funding...Payroll support along the lines of just having the government operate these payrolls rather than having people laid off...Money for the Postal Service, which is about to go under...Health insurance expansion for the duration of the crisis...Rent relief...foreclosure relief...Nor did they guarantee Vote-By-Mail for every American during the November election."

It's a very lively and troubling conversation, with lots of stuff --- maddening, amusing and informative --- including why Congress has failed to adopt some way of remote voting so that they can somehow continue to carry on the people's business, even during the need for physical distancing.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, with some good news (believe or not) and bad in the age of the coronavirus...as well as some swingin' music to take us out for the day!...

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Guest: Economist Stephanie Kelton on 'The Deficit Myth' and why we can't have nice things; Also: What's in the bill? Who's now holding it up? And how Governors are dismissing our idiot President...
By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2020 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Avery important lesson from the coronavirus crisis for progressives and for all Americans that I hope we are all able to remember once this crisis has finally ended. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article. Please click it!]

Britain's 71-year old Prince Charles, 71-year old Rock-and-Roll Hall of Famer Jackson Browne and 81-year old playwright Terrence McNally all tested positive. The prolific playwright succumbed on Tuesday in Florida. They were all able to get tested for coronavirus. Tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Americans still cannot. Add it to the list of national disgraces we are collectively enduring as we stay-at-home as much as possible in hopes of slowing the spread to keep our medical system from becoming overwhelmed.

That said, Senate Democratic and Republican leaders have come to an agreement on another emergency spending bill to address a bit more of the growing fallout from the global coronavirus pandemic. The bill, if allowed to pass in the Senate by four Republicans now blocking it, and if House Democrats can pass a similarly acceptable bill, will cost a record $2 trillion. That's half the size of the nation's annual $4 trillion annual federal budget, and many experts agree, there will need to be much more spending hereafter.

And yet, nobody --- not Republicans or Democrats in the Senate, House of Representatives or White House --- seems to be complaining that we don't have the money to pay for it, or that we must cut somewhere else or raise taxes to be able to afford it. It is as if, as our guest today, Stony Brook University Professor of Economics and leading authority on Modern Monetary Theory STEPHANIE KELTON notes, we are able to just "conjure into existence, in a matter of days, a couple of trillion dollars," enough money for the largest spending bill in the history of the country. And, as it turns out, she is right!

As Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) noted recently in response to the sudden disappearance of so-called "Deficit Hawks" on Capitol Hill: "It's actually a fascinating progressive moment, because what it's shown is that all of these issues have never been about 'how are you going to pay for it?' It's never been about whether we have the capacity to do these things. All of these excuses that we have been given as to why we can't treat people humanely have suddenly gone up in smoke. And what has been revealed is that all of these issues were really about a lack of political will and who you deemed worthy to be in an emergency or not."

Kelton, the former Chief Economist for the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, has been trying to make these points of late in Twitter threads, New York Times op-eds, and her upcoming book The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People's Economy. As she tells me today, "Congress will always find the funds to accomplish the things that it considers a priority. If that's tax cuts, then that's the priority, and the money will be there. If it's wars, that's the priority. If it's dealing with a global pandemic, then that suddenly becomes a priority."

She laments that Democrats, over months on the Presidential campaign trail, have not been able to educate the American public about these facts and how difficult it has now become --- after years of phony claims from politicians (of both parties) that the U.S. was going broke or that government should be run by the same fiscal rules that govern households and businesses --- "to disabuse people of these myths that we have heard from our politicians, pundits and reporters."

She argues "There is a time and a place for offsets. It's not a free lunch", but Bernie Sanders' call for "canceling $81 billion of medical debt is nothing. It's everything to the people who have medical debt. But from the perspective of the federal budget, it's practically a rounding error, it's so trivial. We could have done that and not offset it," she says. "The federal government's finances don't work like ours. They're not subject to the same constraints as a household or a private company. Once you get your head around that, a lot of other things follow."

"A year ago, could we have just done free college or Medicare For All or whatever? The answer is yes. Congress can write and pass any bill it chooses, period. The risk, though, is that if you don't include offsets, and you're simply authorizing these huge spending bills left and right, at some point you're going to eat up all of the fiscal space left in the economy. In other words, it's going to become inflationary. So there is a time and a place for offsets." That time, apparently, is not now, however. And she hopes that after this emergency finally passes, enough Americans will remember what happened here, how easy it was to "find" all the money when it was needed, to finally do away with the notion that endless wars and corporate subsidies and tax cuts for the wealthy are the only things we can afford to spend money on to "promote the general welfare" of the American people.

We discuss all of that and much more today, including details on what the proposed Phase III emergency coronavirus spending bill will and won't pay for, and the good news that America's Governors --- both Democratic and Republican --- seem to be rejecting our corrupt, man-child President when it comes to his dangerous coronavirus idiocy.

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Guests: L.A. County poll workers Larry Dilg and 'Doug'; Also: Biden's stunning wins over Sanders; Bloomberg quits; Warren reassesses...
By Brad Friedman on 3/4/2020 6:51pm PT  

Voting ground to a near halt on Super Tuesday in a number of states, most notably in major jurisdictions in Texas and California relying on electronic pollbooks and unverifiable computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs). Who could have predicted it? Oh, yeah. We did. Over and over again on The BradCast. Not that many in the corporate media heeded our warnings. We know elections officials certainly didn't. [Audio link to show follows below.]

In Texas, the main problems seem to revolve around a lack of poll workers due to coronavirus fears and, most notably, a lack of voting machines for Democratic voters in many areas, since the Republican Party was unwilling to share their state-mandated even number of voting machines with voters from the other party. Obscene wait times as long as 6 or 7 hours to vote were reported in some locations in the Lone Star State.

In California, many counties did away with precinct based voting for the first time this year in favor of a Voting Center model. That meant that voters could cast their ballot at any of a smaller number of voting centers which took the place of community-based precincts. In Los Angeles County, for example, there were about 1,000 voting centers, compared with 5,000 precinct polling places in previous years. In order to accomplish this new paradigm, and allow voters same-day registration and party switching, computerized electronic pollbooks were used to check in voters. The systems check records against the state voter registration database in order to sign in voters before they can vote. But those computers had trouble in more than a dozen counties syncing up with the state database for some (still-unexplained) reason. That resulted in hours-long lines and voters forced to cast provisional ballots in many locations.

But the worst situation was undoubtedly in L.A. County, where a brand-new, 100% unverifiable, $300,000,000 touchscreen voting system manufactured by a company named Smartmatic was also deployed countywide for the first time. It did not go well. Voters across the nation's largest voting jurisdiction were stuck in two to four hour lines in many cases at voting centers where the e-pollbooks slowed down to a crawl and/or where BMDs failed to work, reportedly flipped votes, or had their paper ballot summaries become jammed in the new computer systems. A County spokesperson estimated on Tuesday that 20% of the new "Voting Solutions for All People" (VSAP) BMDs had failed. (By the way, that link to the main VSAP website at vsap.LAVote.net, singing its praises and listing its many partners who signed on to it, now appears to be down, even as the regular LAVote.net site seems to be working fine. A telling omen?)

As one Twitter listener quipped on Tuesday night: "#ShouldaListenedToBrad". (Anyone feel like making t-shirts for a fund raiser?)

We're joined today by two longtime L.A. County election workers, LARRY DILG and "DOUG", after their impossibly long days of service over this past week. We discuss what went wrong (and right) at their respective voting centers using L.A. County's new voting system --- ten years in development by Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan, and warned against for most of those years by yours truly, for many of the reasons which revealed themselves to all on Tuesday.

"I think we faced into the problems pretty well," Dilg tells me. "We had 25 machines in our room. The machines would sometimes stop working, or get quirky --- paper jams and stuff like that. I thought it went pretty well, actually, considering. The big thing I experienced was there were many more voters than we've ever seen in our center before."

"I think we had one or two machines that just were down for the count," he continued. "Other than that, it was almost like they got overloaded for awhile and needed a rest. We'd give them a rest, then reboot them, and they were back up and running." He pegged the failure rate at closer to 10% for the BMDs at his voting center.

"Doug" reports: "I had eight BMDs, and two of them broke, ultimately with paper jams, and I had to take them out of action. Smartmatic people came and fixed those two." For the record, while the VSAP systems were designed and supposedly owned by the County, they were manufactured by Smartmatic, a voting machine company with a dubious history. I was surprised to hear that their employees were here and allowed to directly service the machines mid-election, much less at all.

As to the e-pollbooks, "Doug" reports: "They seemed to get worse and worse, over time. The problem with them is that they have to re-sync periodically with headquarters in Norwalk, to update themselves so that they know who has voted and who hasn't voted. According to my worker, the machine was updating about every 15 minutes, so every 15 minutes, it was down for two or three minutes ... So the problem was this updating was taking quite a bit of a long time and it seemed to get worse and worse as more people voted. We only had two pollbooks at my location, and sometimes they were both updating at the same time, which meant that anybody you tried to process during that period had to vote with a provisional ballot."

While Doug is "concerned about the tally of the votes", Dilg, a self-identified "idealist" believes "it's a really good system", even with all of the problems revealed on Super Tuesday. "I have to say yesterday was a very positive experience because there were people doing good things, all around the room, and feeling good about being citizens in a democracy. That kind of civic experience is very different from a rally, and it's a beautiful experience." Both say they will work again as pollworkers, and urge others to do the same.

And, oh, yeah. We also discuss the reported results across the country from Super Tuesday, where Joe Biden stunned the pundits with many unexpected victories in 10 states, including in Texas and Elizabeth Warren's home state of Massachusetts (where she placed third according to computer-tallied results!) and where Bernie Sanders won four states, including the day's richest prize of California (presuming the many weeks of counting ahead in the Golden State don't result in a change to the current standings in its partial tallies).

Also, NYC's billionaire former Republican mayor Mike Bloomberg dropped out of the Democratic Presidential race and endorsed Joe Biden, after dumping half a billion dollars to win zero states. And Elizabeth Warren, the only other remaining candidate in the race to have won delegates, is reportedly assessing the outlook on how and if she will move forward in what now appears to be a two-man race for the Democratic nomination...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 3/3/2020 10:35am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer gets out of 2020 Presidential race; Coronavirus concern slams energy markets and cancels global conferences; China's air pollution dramatically decreases amid coronavirus measures; PLUS: Climate change cancels this year's "Firefall" in Yosemite National Park... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Interior Dept. inks deal with water district tied to Interior Sec. Bernhardt; Tornadoes devastate Tennessee, killing at least 19; Green New Deal backers vs. Koch money in Texas; No, Trump, wind turbines are not 'rotting'; Coal miners are being "cheated"; Climate models are running red hot, and scientists don't know why yet; Trump White House rewrote EPA scientists' assessment on toxic chemical, and not in a good way... PLUS: How to prepare for the Coronavirus in the U.S., and why it is your civic duty to get ready... and much, MUCH more! ...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 2/27/2020 11:19am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: CBS News ignores the climate crisis in South Carolina Democratic debate, but candidates don't; JPMorgan economists warn climate change threatens human survival; Colorado River facing 'severe water shortages'; PLUS: Yet another refinery explodes, this time in Southern California... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Tribal nation condemns 'desecration' to build border wall; Trump downplays Coronavirus risk; Dismantling Fred Hiatt's pro-oil, anti-Sanders climate op-ed; Climate change is pushing ocean currents poleward; New Interior rule would limit which scientific studies agency can consider; After Trump mocks proposed sea wall in New York, plan is abruptly shelved; Climate change, soaring flood insurance could trigger a mortgage crisis; Uber and Lyft are convenient and highly carbon-intensive ... PLUS: Brazil is cracking down on climate migrants while worsening the climate crisis... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Special coverage with Heather Digby Parton and David Faris...
By Brad Friedman on 2/26/2020 5:19pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Seven Democratic Presidential candidates turned up the volume --- and on each other (especially against current front-runner Bernie Sanders) --- at Tuesday night's Presidential debate in Charleston, South Carolina. We have special coverage today. [Audio link to show follows below.]

It was the final debate before the crucial South Carolina Primary on Saturday and the critical Super Tuesday primaries just three days later in 14 states across the country. So, tensions were very high and the attacks on Sanders were cranked up to 11 at times, with the elections over the next week likely to be do or die for a number of the "contestants" (as billionaire contestant Michael Bloomberg described them).

We are joined today for insight, analysis and, yes, a few snarky comments from two BradCast post-election special coverage vets. Award-winning opinion journalist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo is with us, along with Roosevelt University political scientist DAVID FARIS, columnist at The Week and author of It's Time to Fight Dirty.

Both offer very smart thoughts, as usual, on the Party's very long debate process to date (Tuesday's was the 10th this cycle), whether the forums as structured have helped the Democratic electorate in making their choices, and how it all might be done better in the future. We cover the reasons behind the, at times high-decibel attacks from several of the candidates amid what seems universally agreed to have been a very poorly-moderated debate, and why so much time has been spent on weedy, wonky health care math, and so little time spent on issues of most interest to the American people, including the greatest threat posed right now to both the nation and the world: Donald Trump.

But the horse race, at this point in the contest, is unavoidable. Will Sanders continue to break away from the pack after Super Tuesday? Will Elizabeth Warren finally break through as a unity candidate? Will Amy Klobuchar and Tom Steyer survive? Does anybody actually like Bloomberg? Will SC Rep. James Clyburn's coveted endorsement for Biden this morning keep the former Vice President alive beyond the Palmetto State? Is it just us, or is Pete Buttigieg beginning to seem desperate? And who, among all of them, is best prepared to take on the elephant in the country, the still-sitting President of the United States?

All of those questions asked and answered on today's program, based on telling comments, strategy and behavior from each of the remaining candidates Tuesday night, a number of whom, sadly or otherwise, may no longer be in the 2020 Presidential nominating race just one week from today...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Former insurance exec Richard 'RJ' Eskow; Also: More Early Voting probs for L.A. County's new, unverifiable e-voting systems...
By Brad Friedman on 2/25/2020 5:54pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A former insurance exec says Medicare for All is better than even the best union healthcare plans, more problems with L.A. County's new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems ahead of next Tuesday's Super Tuesday, and Desi Doyen "celebrates" another birthday...

First up, financial markets continued to plummet on Tuesday after a senior official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) --- which Donald Trump has been gutting and/or attempting to gut since taking office --- announced Americans should prepare for the spread of the Coronavirus, declaring "It's not so much a question of if this will happen any more, but ... when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness."

At the same time, with that cheery news, the Democratic Presidential primary campaign moves forward after Bernie Sanders' landslide win at the Nevada Caucuses on Saturday, with many members of the Party establishment concerned about the likelihood of his nomination. One of their concerns is Sanders' decades-long campaign to establish healthcare as a right, not a privilege, in the U.S., as illustrated by his Medicare for All (M4A) proposal. That plan, and its end to private health insurance in the U.S., was the source of concern by leadership of NV's powerful Culinary Union before the caucuses last week. Its members, however, according to Entrance Polling, were strong supporters of Sanders, a longtime champion for the labor movement, on caucus day nonetheless.

At issue with Sanders' (and Elizabeth Warren's) M4A proposal is the fear of the loss of top-flight, hard-earned health care benefits for the Culinary Union workers. The union has negotiated one of the nation's best health care programs, with leadership worried about losing those benefits under M4A. It's a fear shared by many Americans who are nervous about the prospect of losing their existing private health care coverage, while being misinformed about how the program would actually work.

RICHARD "RJ" ESKOW, however, a former insurance executive turned political columnist, policy analyst and host of The Zero Hour, argues this week in an detailed analysis at The Intercept that, while the Culinary Union's plan is top notch, Medicare For All would actually be even better for them in many ways. He joins us today to explain why he finds that not only those union members would be better off under Sanders' plan if passed as currently proposed, but so would all Americans.

Eskow details his analysis of that union's very good health plan --- which, he tells me, "makes it a perfect test case, in a sense, for comparing Medicare For All to the best plans --- and how M4A would still be better. "My hat's off to the Culinary Union and to the workers, who went on strike and fought for years to get this plan, in the current environment we have now. It's just about as good a plan as you're going to see," Eskow says. "It's well ahead of most other plans, private insurance plans, private employer plans, whether they are union or otherwise. It's really one of the best." Nonetheless, he argues, after detailing all of the excellent benefits for those workers, "Medicare For All gives better benefits."

He also goes on to answer many questions that skeptics and/or critics of universal single-payer coverage --- from both the Left and the Right --- likely have.

Also today, we look forward, again, toward the crucial South Carolina Democratic Presidential Primary on Saturday and concerns about the state's new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems that all voters will be forced to use at the polls (despite myriad failed elections on similar equipment made by the same vendor, ES&S, the nation's largest.) And I've got a correction about a point I made on this topic on yesterday's show.

Then, we look again at more failures already revealing themselves here in L.A. County in advance of the March 3rd Super Tuesday Primary --- just three days after South Carolina --- in California and more than a dozen other states. Problems with L.A.'s brand-new, 100% unverifiable, $300,000,000 touchscreen voting systems surfaced over the weekend on the first day of Early Voting last Saturday, when several Voting Centers in the County were unable to open for hours, as equipment problems left workers unable to set up the new, complicated, Internet-connected computer pollbooks and voting systems.

Those problems continued on Monday, as reported by CBS2-LA's David Goldstein last night. He followed up his earlier investigative report on the new systems several weeks ago (in which I was featured) with another report on Monday night, finding Voting Centers still down in some areas, with one poll worker seen examining the system's user manual for clues and another bemoaning the idle voting systems: "They're not working because the router....we're waiting for AT&T to come," she says.

Oh, brother. 1,000 of these new Voting Centers with all new equipment, replacing 5,000 community precincts used for decades in L.A., are all supposed to be up and running by next Tuesday. Though, even if the new VSAP ("Voting Solutions for All People") systems work as designed, the results of next Tuesday's election will still be 100% unverifiable after the polls close.

Finally, Birthday Girl Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with her usual mix of bad news, very bad news, and some actually good news! It's also her birthday! So, to make up for the fact that she has to work today, all donations to BradBlog.com/Donate are going to her this week! Please consider cheering her up by pitching in!...

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Also: Super Tuesday Early Voting began this weekend on L.A. County's new, unverifiable touchscreen vote systems. How do you think it went?...
By Brad Friedman on 2/24/2020 6:23pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A look at what happened over the weekend in Nevada, and a look ahead at wait awaits in South Carolina on Saturday, Super Tuesday three days later, and yes, even beyond. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

So, the Caucuses in Nevada over the weekend went only slightly better when it came to reporting results than the Iowa Caucuses two weeks ago. But, because Bernie Sanders appears to have won in a rout there, the corporate media declared as much and didn't seem to be bothered, or even much notice, that it took another three days before all results were actually in. (Proving once again that corporate media is interested in headlines, not about making sure that voters see their votes counted accurately.)

We cover the reported results out of NV today, beginning with Sanders' landslide victory there, and the fight for runners-up, with Joe Biden coming in second over Pete Buttigieg, followed by Elizabeth Warren in fourth place. She was followed in turn by Tom Steyer and then Amy Klobuchar.

But the night belonged to Bernie. He received well over twice the number of votes than his nearest competitor (Biden) in NV. Buttigieg challenged the reported results from the Saturday caucuses and attacked Sanders during his post-caucus remarks to supporters in a way that Republicans should be very happy about (and in a way that Sanders would have been justifiably excoriated for, had he done anything similar in either 2016 or in this year's cycle.) We explain all of that on today's show.

We also look forward to this Saturday's important Primary in South Carolina and to Super Tuesday in 14 states just three days later on March 3rd. In SC, Biden's once seemingly-insurmountable lead in pre-election polling appears to be slipping, even as he retains a small edge over Sanders there, according to NBC/Marist, as of today.

At the same time, the national polls are seeing some movement as well, with Warren surging into second place behind Sanders and ahead of Biden in a new CBS/YouGov poll out today, reflecting what many regard as her strong debate performance last Wednesday. Their performance, however, was not reflected in the NV Caucuses given, that most caucus-goers had already voted before the debate in Early Voting (which was used for the first time there this year.)

So, with Sanders the front-runner at the moment, having won the popular vote in each of the first three primary/caucus states, members of the "Democratic Establishment" and their media supporters appear to be, well, freaking out a little bit. We play some of that freak out and discuss.

For the moment, however, all eyes are now on South Carolina, where voters across the entire state will be forced to vote on brand-new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs). The new systems, made by Election Systems and Software, Inc., replace the state's old 100% unverifiable touchscreen Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) systems, also made by ES&S. Their systems have failed in election after election over the past decade in the Palmetto State and elsewhere. But, of course, even if they work as designed this Saturday in the SC Primary, it will still be 100% impossible to know after polls close if any ballot cast on the expensive devices actually reflect the intent of any voter.

That's just one of the problems --- though, one of the biggest --- with BMD voting systems. In Los Angeles County --- which has more registered voters in it than the entire state of South Carolina has people --- the Early Voting period for the March 3rd Super Tuesday primary (which will be held in 14 states) began on Saturday. We've been covering L.A. County's brand-new, $300,000,000 touchscreen BMD voting system for some time (about a decade in fact), warning about many of its failures and potential failures.

So, how do you think the first day of Early Voting went in L.A.? According to this report, and some of our own reporting as well, it did not go well, with officials unable to start up the new e-voting systems at all for several hours in a number of locations, some locations where the equipment didn't even arrive in time for Saturday's Early Voting, and an absense of the paper write-in ballots that were supposed to be available at every polling site as the first "condition" in the CA Sec. of State's recent "conditional certification" [PDF] of L.A.'s new "Voting Solutions for All People" (VSAP) touchscreen system.

And now it's your last chance, if you live in L.A. County, to get a real, hand-marked paper ballot instead, by visiting LAVote.net to request a Vote-by-Mail ballot for the March 3rd election before Tuesday night, February 25th at midnight! (And please do the same if you live in ANY jurisdiction in the country where you will be forced to vote on a touchscreen voting systems at the polls!)

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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