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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, September 26, 2022
'Gold Standard' SCOTUS Poll Finds Majority of Americans Support Expansion of High Court: 'BradCast' 9/26/22
Also: Disinformationists; Fascism rising; Hurricane Ian threatens FL; Callers ring in...
Sunday 'Heavy Traffic' Toons
Be sure to check PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons before crossing state borders. You're welcome!...
Trump, Lindell, Ginni Thomas --- Geniuses All!:
'BradCast' 9/22/22
GOP election conspiracists have bad lawyers; Also: Garland's moving (and telling) remarks at swearing-in of new American citizens...
'Green News Report' 9/22/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
U.N. Sec-Gen wants fossil fuel industry to pay up; New plastics initiative; Puerto Rico still lacking power and clean water; PLUS: Senate approves first climate treaty in decades...
Recent GNRs: 9/20/22 - 9/15/22 - Archives...
It's National Voter Registration Day!
(Who Knew?): 'BradCast' 9/20/22
Also: Beer shortage?!; More on DeSantis' migrant scam; Electoral Count Act reform news; Good (and bad) news for disabled voters; Much more...
'Green News Report' 9/20/22
Simultaneous storms, in Puerto Rico, Alaska, Japan; Climate change juiced Pakistan floods; Aussie energy turnabout; PLUS: Plastics plant blocked in LA...
Kidnapping is a Crime. Will DeSantis Be Held Accountable for It?: 'BradCast' 9/19/22
Also: Media still pulling punches on GOP; Elizabeth finally buried, so will CNN finally cover weekend's THREE hurricane landfalls?!; Plus, callers!...
Sunday 'Pawn' Toons
Make your move to PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
Reagan's Big Government Gift to Big Pharma is Still Giving, Killing: 'BradCast' 9/16/22
Guest: Ernest A. Canning; Also: Trump's failed GA election theft; NH GOP Sen. nom flip-flops on 2020 denial; Patagonia gives away company to save planet...
More Good News for Ds; More Fraud Accountability for Rs: 'BradCast' 9/15/22
Biden approval up, strike averted; Trump NY fraud; Feds probe Lindell CO fraud; Fraud probe of MI GOP A.G. nom; NY Election Commish charged w/ absentee vote fraud...
'Green News Report' 9/15/22
U.N. says world in 'uncharted climate territory'; Summer 2022 hottest ever; Clean energy will save world $12 trillion; PLUS: Biden touts IRA, national EV charging network...
'Groundbreaking' Victory for CA's Half-Million Fast-Food Workers: 'BradCast' 9/14/22
Guest: TAP's Harold Meyerson; Also: Rail worker strike looms; Noteworthy primary results from DE, RI, NH...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-4), on his bills to expand the Court, impose term limits and ethics rules for 'unaccountable', 'corrupt' Justices; Also: TN's Thursday primaries and unverifiable voting systems...
By Brad Friedman on 8/4/2022 6:49pm PT  

I suspect you'll get much more out of listening to today's BradCast than I can possibly share in this summary. Hearing my conversation with the Congressman --- who has a very dry wit --- is also much, much funnier than reading about it. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

But, before we get there today, voters in Tennessee were voting in their midterm primaries on Thursday. Yes, on a Thursday! In a state where the right-wingers who run it aren't all that interested in democracy, apparently. Otherwise, they would hold primaries on a normal Tuesday, and they wouldn't have upended a state law passed years ago --- when Democrats held the legislative majority there --- to move from unverifiable touchscreen voting systems to hand-marked paper ballots. A story today out of one of their counties where a touchscreen system appears to have failed for one of their voters (described misleadingly in the report as "a rare glitch") underscores this point and my continuing, expanding, years-long nightmare.

Then, we're joined by REP. HANK JOHNSON, Democrat from Georgia's 4th Congressional District and Chair of the House Judiciary's Subcommittee on the Courts, for a detailed and lively discussion about his ongoing attempts to bring accountability to what he describes as the "corrupt system" embodied by today's U.S. Supreme Court.

In April of last year, Johnson introduced the Judiciary Act of 2021, a simple, single paragraph bill [PDF], co-sponsored by a number of House colleagues and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) who declared, at the time, that when "Republicans stole the Court’s majority" they "undermined its legitimacy, and threatened the rights of millions of Americans". Over a year later, with little progress for the measure, after a full term with the Republicans' packed majority now having run roughshod over longstanding Constitutional rights and Court precedents --- on everything from the rights of voters to those of detainees, to gun safety and the environment and, of course, privacy rights and reproductive freedoms --- the bill's sponsors held another press event last month in front of the Capitol to try and bring focus to the need to, as Johnson describes it today, "re-balance the Court away from this current 6-3 rightwing extremist majority that was packed by Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump, and the Federalist Society."

This week Johnson also introduced another measure --- this one, just three pages [PDF] long --- called the Supreme Court Tenure Establishment and Retirement Modernization (TERM) Act of 2022, to introduce term limits for Justices and mandating that new appointees shall be appointed solely by each President in the first and third years of their terms.

"It would establish an 18-year term limit for Supreme Court Justices, if that legislation passes --- and it needs to pass along with the Judiciary Act to expand the Court. We don't really need Justices letting the grass grow under their feet, becoming insulated and removed from accountability from the public", Johnson charges. "You can appoint a conservative judge, but that judge's views would have to end up being subject to being replaced by another judge at the end of that judge's tenure. So, in this way, we give every President the opportunity to appoint new blood into the Supreme Court. Keep the Supreme Court from getting old, stale, and rotten, as it is now...starting with the Honorable Clarence Thomas. "

The Georgia Congressman has also introduced the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency (SCERT) Act of 2022 [PDF], recently marked-up in the Judiciary Committee to bring ethics reform to the High Court, where Justices currently are allowed to police themselves and are exempt from the judicial ethics rules and requirements which govern the rest of the federal judiciary. That, he asserts, has brought us to the "corrupt system" we have to today.

"The Supreme Court can simply decide to ignore all of the cases it chooses to ignore, and cherry-pick cases that have been inserted into the legal pipeline by activists who are intent on getting their way in the United States Supreme Court," says Johnson. "These are the same activists that have these same Supreme Court Justices traveling to exotic locations to be wined and dined, to deliver a speech to the assembled audience, who happen to be stakeholders in one position or another, that they want to insert into the Court and have the Court decide it their way."

"This is the system that we have now, with the Court being able to select a few cases in the pipeline, for that pipeline to be packed with issues that are ripe for these rightwing Justices carefully indoctrinated through their law school years with Federalist Society 'free market' thinking," the Congressman continues. "They have gotten the jobs with the law firms and with the prosecutors' offices that put them on a track to be nominated by a Republican to a judgeship. And they preside over the judgeship and then they get elevated to the United States Supreme Court, after being recommended by the same Federalist Society that indoctrinated them from law school and secured the job for them. These Justices are primed to rule in favor of the rightwing, 'free-market' capitalist interests that put them in the pipeline. It's a corrupt system that we have at this point, and Congress definitely is in position to do something about it."

Johnson has created a website called CourtReformNow.com to detail these measure and many others in order "to do something about it."

That said, many of these long-overdue reforms have had trouble gaining traction in Congress. I ask the Congressman if there is any reason, for example, that his Subcommittee couldn't call in Justice Thomas (who he describes as "ethically bankrupt") to discuss years of impropriety, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of dollars those same activist groups have given his wife Ginni. (She was also recently revealed to have been a key player in helping Donald Trump to try and steal the 2020 Presidential election.) In response, Johnson offers a fascinating --- and amusing --- insight into how the House and its leadership work. That alone is worth tuning in for. But, the central point is that Committee and Subcommittee Chairs don't necessarily have the final say on what those committees may do and who they may call in for testimony. Moreover, as Johnson collegially chafes against some of those restrictions, he also underscores the need to "educate my colleagues about the power that we have and the need for us to use the power."

At "a political moment when the future of our democracy, our freedoms, are at risk," he notes, pressure from the public "has a lot of bearing" on what Committees and the Party itself in Congress are able and allowed to do.

As mentioned, tune in for this one for a much more expansive and colorful explanation on all of this.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with a very "sexy" close to today's show...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Alissa Jean Schafer of Energy and Policy Inst.; Also: OAN deathwatch; Trump's CNN 'Big Lie' threat; Stewart slams GOP Senators...
By Brad Friedman on 7/29/2022 6:41pm PT  

On today's BradCast: When you're a monopoly power company --- especially in Florida --- they let you do it, I guess. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

Before we get to the massive scandal(s) unspooling this week in Florida, a few other notes about corrupt media and corrupt power brokers. Donald Trump's favorite "Big Lie" fake news network, One American News (OAN), looks to be on the brink of going out of business, after Verizon joined AT&T to stop carrying their programming this weekend. Sad! At the same time, Trump is threatening to sue actual news network, CNN, because they repeatedly reported on his "Big Lie" attempts to steal the 2020 election. Good luck with that.

Then, it's on to the mind-blowing story out of the Sunshine State this week, where a leak of thousands of documents from a consulting firm in Alabama, has revealed all sorts of corruption by Florida Power & Light (FPL), the state's monopoly public utility company. The Florida papers are having a field day as they comb through the documents, publishing damning exposé after damning exposé on the dirt they are finding, which goes all the way up to FLP President and CEO, Eric Silagy, who, according to our guest today, incredibly enough, still has his job!

The documents were released amid a power battle over Montgomery, AL-based Matrix, LLC, a "powerful but little-known political consulting firm that has operated behind the scenes in at least eight states," according to the Guardian. They reveal a boatload of corruption by FPL, its CEO and many of its executive, including running "ghost candidates" in elections, mounting disinformation campaigns to maintain their monopoly (for example, to oppose residential solar power in the Sunshine State!) and secretly taking over pretty much full control of an "independent", right-leaning "news" site in Tallahassee called The Capitolist.

The website (which is still online, also incredibly enough) has been influential for years among Florida lawmakers. Its editor and founder is a guy by the name of Brian Burgess, the former Communications Director for FL's former Governor, now U.S. Senator Rick Scott. According to a deep dive from the Miami Herald, Burgess was being paid some $12,000 a month by FPL --- via a web of third parties cut-outs, including the consulting firm Matrix --- to publish its propaganda, push its preferred (sometimes fake) candidates, and ruthlessly attack its opponents, including both elected officials and reporters who dared publish stories the power company didn't like.

For insight into this (these) still unfolding scandal (scandals), we're joined today by ALISSA JEAN SCHAFER, the FL-based Research and Communications Manager for the Energy and Policy Institute, a non-profit "watchdog organization working to expose attacks on renewable energy and counter misinformation by fossil fuel and utility interests". Her organization certainly has its work cut out for it with this gobsmacking "web of scandal," as Schafer describes it.

"If you are a Floridian," she notes, "you have no choice who your power company is. We are in a monopoly market. So if you have Florida Power & Light, you're stuck with them. You're paying that bill every month. If you're seeing these headlines, I don't know understand how you can NOT be furious."

"It's kind of a crazy state. People like to make fun of us," concedes Schafer. "But at the end of the day, there are a lot of folks that are being impacted by this nonsense. We have elections coming up, and how are people supposed to know that their votes aren't being manipulated by these fake candidates that are being propped up by dark money. It's a very real concern."

Among those fake candidates, as the Herald reports, was one who was "running" against state Senator José Javier Rodríguez, who proposed legislation to allow landlords to sell cheap rooftop solar power directly to tenants. "I want you to make his life a living hell … seriously,” wrote FPL’s CEO Silagy in a 2019 email to two of his vice-presidents. They then ran a third-party candidate with the same last name as Rodriguez, who split the vote. The state Senator was pushed out of his job by just 32 votes. FPL's "ghost candidate" later admitted he had been bribed to put his name on the ballot.

There is a lot to discuss today with Schafer on all of this, including how FPL is claiming they broke no laws; their ridiculous claim that rate-payer money wasn't actually used to hoax rate-payers through these schemes; and how The Capitolist's editor Burgess is able to claim with a straight face that he has "never pitched nor solicited feedback from FPL executives on any story or business venture" and has "never received a story pitch from any FPL executive." (Of course not. That's what Matrix was for! And they were in near daily communications with FPL execs, according to the leaked documents.)

"If we take a step back and look at our investor-owned utilities across the country, whether they are working with Matrix or not, this is a playbook that we do see time and time again," Schafer explains. "You have a consulting firm as the middle-man to do some of the dirty work, because utilities don't want their name on it. They want to be able to say, 'I never spoke to XYZ.' They can say that because they spoke to the consultant who then spoke to XYZ. You have similar trends of setting up shell companies to pass money through, so that it looks like the utility is just being a utility and not actually a political operative."

Finally today, Mitch McConnell is apparently furious at being out-foxed by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on this week's surprise agreement with Sen. Joe Manchin for a major tax, healthcare and climate deal called the Inflation Reduction Act. McConnell and his fellow Senate Republicans decided to take it out on sick combat veterans who were exposed to deadly chemicals and toxic burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan by voting against healthcare protections for them. Former Daily Show host and actual supporter of America's veterans, Jon Stewart, had a word or two for those Republican Senators at the Capitol on Thursday morning, including: "If this is America First, then America is fucked."

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Even more amazing: Schumer outfoxed McConnell to do it! Also: Deadly flash flooding in KY; More signs of UNconventional November elections...
By Brad Friedman on 7/28/2022 5:50pm PT  

When Democrats outfox Republicans you know the world has gone bonkers. But, welcome to another BradCast from Bonkers World! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

With weeks of unprecedented global heat records around the world and here in the U.S., and more deadly flash flooding --- today it was Kentucky's turn, sadly --- a major deal to finally take on climate change among Democrats comes not a moment too soon.

Surprising apparently everyone in D.C., corrupt coal-state Senator Joe Manchin and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced a deal on Wednesday night to raise taxes on huge corporations and allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices in order to help pay for pharmaceutical subsidies for the elderly, expansion of subsidies for individuals who purchased health care on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) exchanges and...wait for it...to make the federal government's largest-ever investment to fight climate change and decrease carbon emissions that cause it by 40% by 2030.

It's not saying much, of course, to say "largest-ever investment" to fight climate change, given how little the U.S. government has ever spent on it, thanks to fossil fuel-funded Congressional denial and obstruction. And whether this measure can actually curb that much of the deadly emissions causing our climate emergency remains to be seen. But the agreement struck, in apparent complete secret by Manchin and Schumer for what is now called the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (nee: Build Back Better Act), is set to raise $739 billion in revenues and spend some $433 billion on long-overdue investments (including at least $369 billion for climate) over the next decade. It will also decrease the deficit by hundreds of billions and will keep Joe Biden's long promise to not raise taxes on individuals or companies making less than $400,000 a year. (Shumer/Manchin's one-page summary is here. Full 725-page bill is here. Both PDFs.)

Yes, the new proposal is smaller than Biden and the Democrats had originally hoped, and leaves out some critical stuff for another day. It also includes some pretty outrageous fossil fuel-friendly provisions to win over Manchin. But, all told, this bill is nothing to sneeze at.

The question, of course, is whether all Dems in the Senate (including Manchin, who has a habit of changing his mind, if you haven't heard) and enough Dems in the House can agree to pass the bill. No Republican votes will be needed to pass the spending measure under the Senate's special reconciliation rule.

Schumer says the bill will be put up for a vote next week. That, after he outfoxed Mitch McConnell to broker the deal in the first place. McConnell is so hopping mad about it all that he's now, foolishly, actually taking it out on combat veterans who were exposed to toxic burn pits. We explain how all of this happened on today's show, along with details on what is actually in the bill --- both good and bad --- and what is not.

If it's passed successfully --- still a big "if" --- it could prove to be a breakthrough for Dems in advance of the November elections which, as we've discussed, may not play out with a Dem shellacking as pundits citing "Conventional Wisdom" have long told you. We've been arguing in recent weeks and months that these are decidedly UNconventional times and --- along with the potential...hopeful...maybe passage of this major new bill and its revival of a Joe Biden/Democratic Party agenda --- there are additional reasons this week to remain skeptical of the "Conventional Wisdom" from TV pundits and op-ed geniuses about this year's midterm elections.

Desi Doyen is along for the ride as usual today, with keen insight and smart explanation of the climate portions of the new Dem deal and our latest Green News Report...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Sarah Lipton-Lubet of Take Back the Court; Also: Biden positive for COVID; Report finds Newsmax lying even more than Fox 'News' about J6...
By Brad Friedman on 7/21/2022 4:08pm PT  

When you thought things couldn't get any more insane (nobody actually thought that, did they?), 79-year old President Biden tests positive for COVID. The White House says he is suffering only "very mild symptoms". We'll hope it stays that way and he gets well soon. Meanwhile, we're still busy trying to save the world on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Tonight, the bipartisan House Select Committee investigating Donald Trump's Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and his many other attempts to steal the 2020 Presidential election, holds the last of their summer series of blockbuster public hearings, for now. We'll see if Fox "News" bothers to carry this one, since they didn't last time, choosing to run an ad-free episode of Tucker Carlson's show instead. God forbid their groomed viewers turn away during commercials for even a second and learn any actual news.

But, of course, Fox isn't the only rightwing TV channel lying to their viewers day in and out about these remarkable, historic hearings, the deadly events of January 6, and all of the other ways Trump tried undermine American democracy. A new report finds that Newsmax is duping their viewers even worse than Fox, if that's possible, broadcasting at least 40 false claims about the J6 attack since the Committee's hearings began last month. Among the station's lies peddled repeatedly to their easily-played viewers: There were only a few hundred rioters in the Capitol that day (DoJ pegs the number at around 2,000); They were "unarmed" (except for all of the guns, knives, pepper spray, spears, brass knuckles, baseball bats, etc.); and that Trump ordered the National Guard to the Capitol, but was blocked by Nancy Pelosi (the President, not the Speaker of the House, commands the National Guard.)

In any event, whether Fox or Newsmax carry tonight's hearings and/or lies about them, we'll tell you the truth about them on our own Special Coverage on tomorrow's BradCast.

Today, we discuss the need for the long-overdue expansion of the Supreme Court. New polling finds approval of the Court has plummeted over the past two years. According to Marquette University Law School's poll today, 66% of Americans approved of SCOTUS in September of 2020. That number is now at stunning 38%. Their survey follows Gallup's recent finding (before the overturning of Roe v. Wade) that confidence in the Court is at an all-time historic low since they began asking the question in the 1970s.

Of course, this comes on the heels of Mitch McConnell nuking the Senate filibuster in order to pack the High Court with Donald Trump's three corrupt, extremist Republican nominees, including one of them (Amy Coney Barrett) just eight days before the 2020 election. That, after McConnell had changed the size of the Court for over a year while refusing to seat Barack Obama's nominee to the seat vacated by Justice Antonin Scalia in February of 2016, because, according to Mitch, the vacancy came just too close to a Presidential election, when the voice of the American people deserved to be heard first.

But now, with SCOTUS closing out its term with an unprecedented spate of radical rulings --- rolling back long-held Miranda rights; throwing out states Second Amendment rights to well-regulate the concealed carry of firearms; further eroding the long-standing Constitutional separation of church and state; blocking the Environmental Protection Agency from protecting the environment through the regulation of carbon pollution; and, of course, overturning the privacy rights and reproductive freedoms established 50 years ago by Roe v. Wade --- it sure seems like a re-balancing (and de-corrupting) is in order!

Given the striking down of privacy rights in Roe, Democrats in the House have been scrambling to codify reproductive freedom into federal law, along with bills that guarantee the right to both interracial and same-sex marriage, and even the right to use contraception. That, after the Court struck down the same privacy rights in 'Roe' that are the basis of those other Constitutional rights that Justice Clarence Thomas called for revisiting in his concurrence to the majority opinion overturning Roe.

But while codifying those rights into federal statute is critical (most House Republicans voted against all of them this week!), expanding the Court, to UNpack and UNsteal it, so that it represents the American people once again is even more critical.

On Monday, a group of Democratic lawmakers called for exactly that, touting their Judiciary Act of 2021 [PDF] which would expand the number of seats on the Court from 9 to 13. But that measure, so far, has not yet even received a Committee hearing, much less a vote on the Democratic-controlled House floor. What gives?

We're joined today by SARAH LIPTON-LUBET, Executive Director of the non-profit Take Back the Court organization, to discuss exactly that. Her group was formed in 2018 to warn of the danger then posed to democracy itself by the GOP's stolen Supreme Court, and to call for its expansion as the only strategy to re-balance SCOTUS after its 2016 theft. [We spoke with Aaron Belkin, the group's founder, back in 2020.)

"Republicans already changed the size of the Court for a year while they blockaded Merrick Garland's nomination. So a Republican power grab, that's just a part of reality. Given that, isn't a world where we fight for what's right better than a world where we surrender unilaterally?," Lipton-Lubet posits today, when I ask her about the fear expressed by some Democrats that Republicans will just take similar action the next time they are in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House. "To folks who are worried about what Republicans might do in the future, I have to say I'm really worried about what they've done already, and about what we need to do to fix the harm that they've caused in the here and now. They've stolen the Court. They've overturned Roe. They've undermined our democracy. And expanding the Court is our only shot at rebalancing the system and regaining those rights."

"This is only headed in one direction," she warns. "The ideologues on the Court are only going to get more radical. They're only going to get more unhinged. I think leaders can lead, or they try to play catch-up later after countless people have been irreparably harmed. And that's really the situation we're in."

"Living under the control of this Court --- it's not tenable. It's not sustainable. It's not going to stand," she argues. "Eventually we are going to get there." So, why are the bulk of elected Democrats, including the President, still pulling their punches and dragging their feet on this? We discuss that and much more with Lipton-Lubet today.

Finally, Desi Doyen has our latest Green News Report on a week that has been so grim for the climate that we're considering a new name for our GNR. Tune in to find out what it might be!...

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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Packed Court of radical, activist GOP Justices invent imaginary 'historical' reasons to cancel reproductive freedoms, personal privacy rights, gun safety laws; Also: Many more well-established Constitutional rights now in peril; Biden, Pelosi respond; Voting remains the answer...
By Brad Friedman on 6/24/2022 6:29pm PT  

On a dark and historic day in America (and, apparently, on The BradCast), I offer a few thoughts on how unelected, radical, extremist, activists Justices (who are not "conservative" by any stretch of the imagination, please stop calling them that), who have been packed onto a stolen U.S. Supreme Court majority have only just begun the corrupt work for which their lifetime seats on the High Court were purchased. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

On Thursday, the illegitimate Republican majority simply ignored the written text of the 2nd Amendment's mandate to "well regulate" the right to bear arms by cancelling [PDF] New York's century-old law limiting the concealed carrying of weapons in public, robbing elected state officials of their right to protect their citizenry from gun violence.

Then, on Friday, after declaring in their gun ruling that officials elected by the voters have no right to well regulate firearms, the same corrupt Justices cancelled [PDF] a half century of well-established Constitutional rights to personal privacy and reproductive freedom. The rightwing Court extremists declared that states and, indeed, the federal government, do have the right to force women to bear the child of their rapist --- even as the product of incest or sex trafficking.

In overturning 1973's Roe v. Wade (the landmark 7 to 2 majority opinion written by a non-corrupt Republican-appointed Justice), Sam Alito echoed Clarence Thomas' gun ruling one day earlier by pretending that any specific rights not in existence 233 years ago, when the Bill of Rights was written, lacks the "historical tradition" to be considered a Constitutionally-protected right. (Never mind that whole "well regulated" mandate of the 2nd Amendment which is, as it turns out, literally in the Bill of Rights.)

Neither Thomas' newly divined "historical tradition" requirement for Constitutional rights or Alito's "historical understanding of ordered liberty", are made up out of whole cloth. The concept appears nowhere in the Constitution, which actual, if uncorrupted, conservative legal experts know very well.

As horrible as all of this is, it will only get worse until the corrupt Court is unpacked and expanded to reflect the actual will of the American electorate. The Court's rulings on abortion and on gun safety are opposed by huge, bipartisan majorities.

In a separate opinion on Roe, Thomas --- arguably the Court's most corrupt Justice --- called for the Court to cancel other long-standing Constitutional rights established under the same 14th Amendment privacy rights which the Court has now dismantled in cancelling Roe. "We have a duty to 'correct the error'" by reversing the landmark opinions that established Constitutional rights to contraception, same-sex intimacy and marriage...though not inter-racial marriage for reasons that the inter-racially married Thomas failed to explain.

We share both President Biden and House Speaker Pelosi's responses to today's historically corrupt ruling, as they vow that the fight for Constitutional freedoms is not over and call on Americans to make their voices heard in response this November.

"Today the Supreme Court of the United States expressly took away a Constitutional right from the American people that it had already recognized," the President said. "They didn't limit it, they simply took it away. That's never been done to a right so important to so many Americans. But they did it."

"This fall," he later emphasized, "Roe is on the ballot. Personal freedoms are on the ballot. The right to privacy, liberty, equality --- they're all on the ballot."

They are indeed.

After plenty more on all of the above, we conclude today with our latest Green News Report, most topics of which are also on the ballot this November. Please prepare your voting plans now...

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Guest: Attorney Jessica Mason Pieklo of Rewired News Group on leaked Court opinion to end reproductive freedom by overturning 'Roe v. Wade'...
By Brad Friedman on 5/3/2022 6:11pm PT  

You've heard the stunning news from the GOP's packed and stolen Supreme Court by now. But whatever you have heard, it's likely even worse than that, as explained on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

For years in the U.S., polling has found that huge majorities of Americans oppose overturning Roe v. Wade, 1973's landmark, 7 to 2 SCOTUS opinion (with five Republicans voting in its majority), establishing the now, long-settled Constitutional right to abortion services in all 50 states. Polling released today from just last week confirms Roe's popularity, with approximately 2 to 1 majority support across the country.

On Monday night, however, Politico published an unprecedented leak of a 98-page draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito, on behalf of a reported 5 to 4 Court majority, that would completely overturn Roe and a number of other rulings that had further affirmed it more recent years.

Unless one of the Justices decides to change their vote between now and the final release of the opinion over the next two months, it will then be left to states to decide whether they wish to allow women the right to have the procedure. In nearly two dozen states, it will immediately become unlawful if the draft majority opinion is published. In Texas, for example, "The second Roe is struck down, it will be a first degree felony --- punishable by life in prison --- for a Texas doctor to perform an abortion for a woman who was raped and impregnated by a family member."

As terrible as that is, it could get even worse. Earlier rulings that helped establish the right to reproductive freedom for women, and several that came after Roe, would then be teed up to be overturned as well by the radical Rightwing activists now packed onto our SCOTUS. Rights to purchase contraception and for same-sex marriage could also be overturned, just to name two such "unenumerated rights" that, like abortion, have been established by the Court even though they are not specifically named in the Constitution.

And for those who have been conned by the same liars who said claimed Roe would never be overturned, that the GOP didn't really want that to happen, who are now being told that overturning Roe would simply leave it to states to decide whether or not women are allowed to enjoy personal liberty, there is already a national movement afoot to ban abortion at the federal level. If Roe is struck down, as now appears almost certain, all it will require is a GOP majority in each chamber of Congress and a Republican in the White House to turn the clock back 50 years in all 50 states.

Lots to discuss today, obviously, including the dishonest remarks Samuel Alito offered during his 2006 Senate confirmation hearings before he was granted his lifetime appointment, when he lied in his answer as to whether he believed Roe to be settled law. Also, regrets today --- apparently, they have a few --- from theoretically pro-choice Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Both previously said they were convinced by Trump's anti-choice nominees to the High Court --- Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett --- that Roe would remain in place. So, they each supported Trump's nominations, even after Mitch McConnell blew up the filibuster rule for lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court in order to pack them onto it. In Barrett's case, she was seated just eight days before the 2020 Presidential election, after Republicans refused to even allow a vote on Barack Obama's nominee for a year following the death of Antonin Scalia in 2016.

We're joined today by attorney and former law school teacher turned journalist and podcaster, JESSICA MASON PIEKLO, Executive Editor of Rewire News Group. She last joined us on the program back when Kavanaugh was similarly lying his way through his own confirmation hearings.

She predicted in June of 2021 --- when the Court first took up Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, the case now being decided by the Court, the Mississippi case seeking to ban abortions after 15 weeks, in violation of Roe --- that SCOTUS was preparing to overturn Roe entirely. "This is the Supreme Court Case That Will End 'Roe v. Wade,'" she warned at the time. And that was well before Barrett was even nominated.

"There was no reason for the Supreme Court to take up the Dobbs case unless it had plans to overturn Roe v. Wade. That's just a fundamental fact," she explains today. "At the time, there was not a single federal court in the country that thought that law was Constitutional. Every court that looked at this issue, whether it was Mississippi's law or copycat laws in other states across the country, had said the Constitution, Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, very clearly do not allow states the power to ban abortion before fetal viability. Then Amy Coney Barrett happened, and here we are."

When Dobbs was taken up at SCOTUS last year, she explains, "the question was whether or not the Court was going to uphold the Mississippi law within the confines of Roe v. Wade. So, as of June last year, even the state of Mississippi hadn't asked the Court to formally overturn Roe v. Wade." But after Barrett was seated, just before the 2020 election, MS began asking the Court to fully overturn it. "It's a full bait-and-switch," charges Pieklo today.

Worse, she explains, Alito's leaked draft opinion "doesn't just call for overturning 'Roe'. It really attacks privacy rights writ large, makes it clear that they're coming for rights like marriage equality...sodomy bans...birth control. All of those things are there. Fetal personhood is there. There's just so much to be concerned about [with] the plans that are there."

Think none of that stuff could ever happen? Yeah, Collins and Murkowski probably agree with you.

What can be done? We discuss. But, as we've been explaining for some time, never mind Conventional Wisdom that says Democrats will take a shellacking this November. These are decidedly unconventional times. Stop whining. Get to work...

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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...

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Also: Pipeline co.'s leak tech failed in SoCal spill; Judge restores freedom of choice to TX women (for now); Media misreport GOP debt threat...
By Brad Friedman on 10/7/2021 6:42pm PT  

Way back in January, we reported on "How Trump Attempted to Use DoJ to Steal the Election". Why do our nation's corporate media outlets, all these months later, still have so much difficulty reporting it as such, despite the growing mountain of evidence on the unprecedented attempted theft of a Presidential election by a sitting U.S. President? That's just one of a number of stories and questions asked on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among those many stories...

  • What took the Coast Guard and Amplify Energy Corp --- owner of the pipeline that spewed more than 3,000 barrels of crude oil into the waters and protected wetlands nearly Huntington Beach in Southern California last week --- so long to respond to the spill? Residents smelled it, witnesses saw oil on the water and on boats, and even the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) called in their report to the Coast Guard of a possible spill spotted from a satellite. Still, it was almost 10 hours before the Coast Guard investigated, and almost 12 hours before Amplify shut it down. That, despite technology pipeline companies always (falsely) claim will immediately detect spills and shut down the system as soon as they occur. Someone needs to face criminal charges, and this nation needs to get off oil, ASAP.
  • Some brighter news out of Texas, where a federal judge has temporarily enjoined the state's S.B. 8 statute that deprives women of their Constitutionally-protected right to an abortion. The new GOP law in the Lone Star State inserts Big Government between a woman and her doctor to mandate that the medical procedure may not be carried out after 6 weeks of pregnancy, before most women know they're pregnant. Even in the case of rape or incest, Texas Republicans are demanding that women carry their rapists babies to term under the new law. On Wednesday, a U.S. District Court judge shut that whole thing down. For now. He also refused to put his stay on hold pending the state's appeal, because, as he wrote in his 113-page decision [PDF]: "The State has forfeited the right to any such accommodation by pursuing an unprecedented and aggressive scheme to deprive its citizens of a significant and well established constitutional right."
  • Yesterday, we reported that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and fellow Republicans blinked in their ongoing effort to block Democrats from lifting the nation's borrowing limit to avoid the economic calamity that would ensue when the U.S. defaults on its debts, for the first time in history, on October 18th. Today, after McConnell blinked, he and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer agreed on terms for the legislative process that Republicans will allow to let Democrats avoid disaster, at least until early December, when the GOP threatens the same economic terrorism all over again. AP (and other national outlets) continued to mislead the public by reporting: "the Republican and Democratic leaders edged back from a perilous standoff." But that's not what happened at all. The "leaders" (plural) did not "edge back", and it was not a "standoff". As  longtime journalist, author and media critic James Fallows has been expertly reporting for some time now, this was nothing more than a nihilistic Republican threat to tank the nation's, and the world's, economy. "To call it an 'impasse' or 'standoff' is misleading," writes Fallows this week. "This is the same kind of 'impasse' as one between a kidnapper demanding ransom for a captured executive, and a company that believes it should not pay. It is not a level-playing-field difference of view."
  • The debt ceiling is hardly the only area where mainstream corporate media have been failing by ill-serving the public and our democracy. Today, they were joined in that disservice by the Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats, who released an otherwise very important report on how Donald Trump attempted to use the U.S. Dept. of Justice to STEAL the 2020 Presidential election. The 394-page report [PDF] was eight months in the making and is titled: "Subverting Justice: How the Former President and his Allies Pressured DOJ to Overturn the 2020 Election." Media reporting on the new report has taken to echoing that language (as they have since last November) in explaining how Trump tried to "subvert" the election, or "question" its results, or tried to "undermine" its legitimacy.  He used a "big lie" to try and pull off a "self coup". Of course, Trump did all of those things, but it was all in service to one single criminal objective: An attempt to STEAL the election!  Why do corporate media --- and Democrats, for that matter --- have such a difficult time calling it out as such? There is a mountain of hard, independently verifiable evidence to support that admittedly very serious charge, that I would never issue lightly. Today, Senate Democrats just added 394 more pages of said evidence to that mountain. Media need to start accurately calling out what happened here. A then sitting President of the United States abused the levers of his power to try and STEAL a Presidential election from the American people. It's as simple as that. Media should begin reporting it as such.
  • Trump's attempted theft of the 2020 election continues, at least in hopes of stealing the next one. Despite the abject failure of the Cyber Ninjas in Maricopa County, Arizona (Sen. Dick Durbin called them "Ninja Turtles" today) to find any legitimate evidence of election fraud (or to even hand-count the results of the election accurately), the MAGA Mob is still continuing to waste tax payer dollars with phony "audits" and "investigations" of last year's election in other states. In Wisconsin, as in Arizona, Republican legislators have hired someone completely inexperienced in elections to investigate their loss in last year's election. In this case, the man placed in charge of the review is a former state Supreme Court Justice named Michael Gableman. This week Gableman admitted to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he does not have "any understanding of how elections work." Great choice, Republicans!  I'm sure he'll very wisely spend the $676,000 in taxpayer money that you "conservatives" gave him. The effort may even be as successful as the Turtles'!
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more on last weekend's massive SoCal oil spill; a new study finding that, globally, the fossil fuel industry receives $11 million in government subsidies every minute (no doubt Joe Manchin will be furious about their "entitlement society"!); and another notorious pipeline company with high-tech spill prevention technology is charged with dozens of criminal counts for pipelines that leaked into Pennsylvania's drinking water...

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Guest: Philly Inquirer's Will Bunch; Also: Idaho's Lt. Guv may be insane --- or maybe just a Republican...
By Brad Friedman on 10/6/2021 5:52pm PT  

Something not terrible actually happened in D.C. today! We celebrate at the top of today's BradCast! [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Faced with the likelihood of the U.S. defaulting on its debts in a matter of days for the first time in American history (and being blamed for the economic devastation that would go with it), or otherwise facing the possibility that Democrats would be forced to reform the filibuster to allow a carve out for raising the debt ceiling, Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans blinked today. They have now agreed to call off their filibuster to allow Democrats to raise the debt ceiling by themselves, if only for about two months. That's okay. It's a clear win for the Dems, whose unwillingness to back down to the GOP's economic terrorism and weaponization of the need to borrow money to pay for stuff that Congress (including Republicans!) have already bought, has paid off. It has also revealed McConnell's bluff. Something to keep in mind the next time this comes up again in December. We explain.

It also means that Congressional Dems can now focus on passage of their Build Back Better agenda, specifically, their transformative and long-overdue expansion of healthcare, education, child care and the first real attempt to take on climate change in their proposed $3.5 trillion bill that would spend $350 billion a year over the next ten years. That's not a lot of money, in truth, for the U.S. Government. The Treasury Department may take in $300 billion in tax revenue on any given single day. Not to mention, the entire bill, as proposed, is paid for with a small tax increase on corporations and the wealthy. But that hasn't prevented Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and his sidekick Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) from pretending that the implementation of wildly popular progressive programs --- which the Democratic President actually ran and won on --- will lead to an "entitlement society".

Amid the negotiations over the final price tag of the Build Back Better Act, Manchin has been demanding "means testing guardrails" on all new family and health related programs. What does that mean, exactly? If only Americans below a certain income are allowed, for example, to enjoy the two free years of pre-K and community college included in the Democratic proposal, why not impose such conditions on the rest of our public education system? "Once we’re means-testing pre-K," The Prospect's Harold Meyerson recently observed in response to Manchin's demands, "it’s hard to see why governments at all levels don’t means-test K itself, not to mention K-12."

The Philadelphia Inquirer's longtime national columnist WILL BUNCH describes "means testing" in his newsletter this week as "two dirty words for America's middle class" and "the two most insidious and abused words in American politics." He joins us today to explain why that is and what other, alternate, betters ways their may be to meet the seemingly intractable (and dumb) demands from Manchin and Sinema that the Democrats' fully-paid-for bill be scaled back from it's current price tag.

"When means testing is applied," Bunch explains, "the reality is, what you're really doing is reducing the size of the program, so you're reducing the amount of money that needs to be raised to pay for the programs, which means you're reducing the amount that taxes would be increased on these wealthy people and on these corporations, who happen to be Joe Manchin's patrons."

"What really happens is that people who are entitled to these programs don't get the benefits because of means testing," he argues, "because it creates all kinds of bureaucratic hoops. The more you make them jump through hoops, the more you heighten the feeling of stigma that some people feel about getting government aid, they just say 'forget it' and give up. So the utilization rate of these programs --- they find that usually a quarter of the people eligible for these programs don't take advantage of them for reasons like that."

But, he says, it's also simply about money. "Let's focus on what's really going on here. They're really trying to squeeze every dollar to not go to middle class and working class families. And all those dollars that they squeeze, they go into bigger tax cuts for billionaires and corporations," who, unlike middle-class tax-payers, do not face such means testing for benefits they enjoy. "It's like reverse means-testing! The more means you have, the more we're going to bend over backwards to cut your taxes!"

We discuss all of that and more --- including the Rolling Stones concert that Bunch went to this week in Pittsburgh. Yes, I'm jealous!

Finally, as crazy and dangerous as the Republican Party has become in recent years, a number of its elected officials are apparently set on pushing the envelope to new standards of insane behavior...even if it means taking on fellow elected Republican officials, as the Lt. Governor of Idaho has done this week --- once again --- while the state's Republican Governor was out of town on state business. Yes, the madness continues on today's BradCast. We do our best to keep up with it...

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Guest: Laura Deehan of Environment California on SoCal pipeline rupture that spilled at least 126,000 gallons of crude; Also: GOP economic terrorism on 'debt ceiling'; Callers on all of the above...
By Brad Friedman on 10/4/2021 6:25pm PT  

With a long history of fossil fuel disasters up and down the California coastline, another one erupted over the weekend here in Southern California, as we discuss at the top of today's BradCast, along with the latest on the Congressional GOP Caucus threat to tank the U.S. economy by defaulting on trillions of dollars in debt they long ago agreed to incur.

First up, at least 126,000 gallons (approximately 3,000 barrels) of crude spilled into the ocean waters near Huntington Beach, California over the weekend, about 30 minutes south of Los Angeles. The full extent and cause of the damage is currently unknown as we went to air, but it includes a 13-square mile oil slick, dead birds and fish washing ashore, and sensitive ecological preserves along the coastline having been sullied by thick oil and tarballs.

The oil appears to have leaked from some part of a 17.5 mile pipeline which has extended, since the 1980s, from oil drilling and production platforms more than 3 miles offshore, in federal waters overseen by the U.S. Dept. of Interior. The pipeline is one of hundreds running up and down the oil rich CA coastline, where the state has banned new fossil fuel infrastructure, but where, as our guest notes today, the Trump Administration attempted to open up still more dangerous oil production over the past four years. The U.S. Coast Guard is now investigating whether a ship anchor dragging on the ocean floor may have caused the rupture.

We're joined on the program by LAURA DEEHAN, State Director of the non-profit Environment California, for the latest on the state's most recent fossil fuel disaster and what can and should be done about it moving forward.

"We need to get to the bottom of what's happened here," she tells us, adding: "I think our immediate concern is let's protect the wildlife, let's minimize the damage to our beaches and coastline as much as we can right now. But ultimately, of course, we're calling for a permanent end to this activity. Because clearly enough is enough."

Similar disasters have been killing wildlife and covering Southern California beaches in sticky, toxic tarballs for decades. The current spill has now shut down the tourism rich beaches of Huntington Beach, resulted in the cancellation of the third day of an air show on Sunday featuring the Blue Angeles and some 1.5 million spectators, and may similarly affect other beaches in the area from Long Beach to Newport Beach in Orange County in the coming days.

Deehan confirmed that the sensitive, 25-acre Talbert Marsh ecological reserve near Huntington Beach has now been sullied, threatening the lives of dozens of rare and endangered birds and other species. "We clearly need to end our dependence on oil to power our lives as fast as possible. So, we're calling for an end to drilling of the California coast," she explains. "Our coastline is too precious, it's too vulnerable, and we need to prevent anything like this from happening ever again."

So, who is to blame here? The private companies who run the platforms and pipelines (the Elly platform near where the leak occurred is run by a company named Beta Offshore, which is owned by another named Amplify Energy Corp.) Or is the state and/or federal government to blame? It took nearly 24 hours after residents smelled petroleum fumes and reported boats coming into docks with oiled hulls before a response was mounted and the pipeline, eventually, shut down. Dolphins and whales have reportedly been seen swimming through the oil slick ever since.

We discuss all of that and how the Biden Build Back Better agenda, supported by almost the entirety of the Congressional Democratic Caucus, might help to begin making all of these recurring disasters a thing of the past. Eventually. If Dems can overcome a handful of party obstructionists, which largely amount to two Senators, Joe Manchin from West Virginia coal country and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

"When you think about the consequences of NOT ending our dependence on oil, I really think the costs to our society are so much greater," Deehan argues. "We can no longer afford to have these significant negative events, like a massive oil spill off our coast. There are economic impacts from that, too. The coastal communities, the people who want to be able to go surfing, the people who want to visit our Southern California beaches, the tourism industry, the fishing industry. All of these industries are going to lose a lot from this event."

As you might imagine, we'll be keeping our eye on that mess. But, next today, we head back to D.C. for the latest in the GOP's threat to tank the entire U.S. economy --- and the world's with it --- by obstructing Democratic efforts to lift the debt ceiling in order to continue paying off our already existing debt (including $8 trillion in deficit spending approved by Congress during the Trump Administration). The stakes are nothing less than the avoidance of a global fiscal calamity if the U.S. defaults on its debt for the first time in history, as of October 18. President Biden called out Republicans at the White House today for their brinkmanship, asking them to "get out of the way" if they won't help, and arguing that a "meteor is headed to crash into our economy" while the GOP plays "Russian Roulette" with it. Over the weekend, Democratic Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois called out Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for "playing games with a loaded weapon".

We open up the phones to discuss all of the above and more with listeners today...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Biden and Congressional Dems face down a GOP hell-bent on chaos and a handful of 'moderate' Dems set on undermining the Build Back Better agenda; Also: Is the electric vehicle inflection point finally here?...
By Brad Friedman on 9/28/2021 6:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Over the weekend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned her caucus in a "Dear Colleague" letter that "the next few days will be a time of intensity". She wasn't kidding. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Today, we bring you up to date on the four different major pieces of legislation that Democrats must push through Congress, somehow, within the next few days. All four are incredibly important for different reasons, have slightly different deadlines, and slightly different obstacles to passage, each of those obstacles are difficult.

As of midnight Thursday (September 30), the government will shut down if a Continuing Resolution to keep it open is not passed in the Senate. That will end up costing taxpayers a lot of money and financial markets will take a hit, as we already saw today, with the Dow dropping more than 550 points and the S&P falling 2 percent. Of far greater danger to both the stability of the U.S. AND global economy, as of October 18, as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has now cautioned lawmakers, the government will run out of "extraordinary measures" to avoid defaulting on U.S. debt unless the ridiculous, statutory debt ceiling is raised or suspended by Congress. That would allow the government to continuing borrowing to pay for all the stuff that Congress has already committed to spending, such as the $8 trillion increase to the national debt that was run up with the approval of Republicans during the Trump Administration, for example. Without raising the debt limit, Yellen warned, we will face "catastrophic economic consequences".

Republicans in the Senate, however, are currently filibustering the bill that would solve both of those problems in one simple fell swoop, just because they can. They appear to want chaos, uncertainty and a potential meltdown of the global economy, even at the cost of a first-ever default on the good faith and credit of the U.S. government. How that destructive hostage taking ends before the imposing deadlines nobody currently seems to know.

The other two pieces of legislation that need to pass quickly comprise Joe Biden's progressive agenda, which he ran on, is wildly popular among the American people, and which Democrats can now enact into law without any Republican help. One is the $1.5 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package for stuff like roads and bridges. The other is the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill known as the Build Back Better Act to expand health care, education, child care and take on climate change among a host of other critical stuff. The framework for the latter bill was approved by Democrats in both chambers on the basis that both bills would be passed together, appeasing both progressives and so-called "moderates". Together, the two bills make up the bulk of the Biden agenda which every Democrat in both chambers voted to support...at least until a small handful of "moderate" Dems in the House and two Dems in the Senate (Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema), tried to break the deal recently and force a vote on the smaller bill while kicking the larger one down the road.

But a newly robust and emboldened Progressives Caucus in the House is having none of it, and has vowed to vote against the smaller bill if the larger one isn't passed along with it. The hold up on the larger one appears to largely be Manchin and Sinema who have been vague in their objections, other than to protest that $3.5 trillion is too much spend. That, despite the fact that Democrats and the President say the entire ten-year ($350 billion/year) bill is fully paid for by small tax increases on corporations and the wealthy. Biden describes the cost of the bill as "zero".

All of which has resulted in "a time of intensity" on Capitol Hill right now which we walk through today --- intensely --- even as Manchin refuses to come up with a number that he would accept, and as Sinema's vague objections are made somewhat clearer by a fund-raiser being held today for her by several business lobbies who oppose having their taxes raised (to a lower amount than they were before Trump), and as her position is now costing her dearly at the moment among both the Arizona state Democratic Party and Democratic voters across her state. Tune in. We'll explain all.

In less intense --- and actually encouraging --- progressive news OUTSIDE of D.C, the inflection point to electric vehicles may just about be here, if Ford's new announcement this week of a huge, $11 billion investment to build three battery factories and an electric truck plant (creating 11,000 jobs in the bargain) is any indication.

Finally, in a related-ish news, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with even more encouraging news on electric vehicles coming out of Norway this week, along with much less encouraging news regarding the high cost of climate change, the GOP obstruction of aid to victims of Hurricane Ida, and new manslaughter charges against California's largest utility company, PG&E...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Maricopa 'audit' insider and 'bamboo guy' John Brakey of AUDIT-USA; Also: Congressional GOP pushing the U.S. government toward default and global economic disaster...
By Brad Friedman on 9/27/2021 6:39pm PT  

As we head into a week of what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi understated over the weekend as "a time of intensity", we cover that on today's BradCast along with a bit of postmortem mop-up following last week's spectacular fail by the dopey Cyber Ninjas in their Maricopa County, Arizona "audit" of the 2020 election. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

This week, Congress --- and the Democratic Party which is now, apparently, being forced to run it all by themselves --- is facing several precarious moment on a number of fronts. For a start Congress must pass a continuing resolution to keep the government operating after September 30th, when the current fiscal year ends. Even more importantly, to avoid a "financial calamity", they must pass a resolution to suspend or raise the statutory debt limit --- the amount of money the nation can borrow to pay for spending that has already been approved by Congress --- before the country defaults on its loans for the first time in history at some point in October.

Republicans in the U.S. Senate are blocking Democrats from doing either of those things at the moment, in what Pelosi describes as brinkmanship that is "irresponsible beyond words". That, after Democrats voted with Republicans time and again (three times during the Trump Administration alone) to suspend the debt ceiling in order to pay for much of the $8 trillion in debt that was run up with Republican approval over the past 4 years when Donald Trump was in the White House and they controlled Congress.

We explain the incredibly dangerous (and hypocritical) game that Mitch McConnell and the GOP are currently playing with the world economy, even as Democrats face their own internecine battles over how to pass final approval for the Biden Build Back Better agenda, including a bi-partisan $1.5 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill (which Dems can pass by themselves, if they can agree on it) to expand health care, child care, education and much more, including long-overdue action to address on climate emergency.

Next, BradCast listeners last week may know that we were the first in the nation to break the news that the phony, so-called "audit" of the 2020 Presidential and Senatorial election results in Maricopa (Phoenix), AZ by the partisan, conspiracy theorist Cyber Ninjas outfit ended up proving that the Dominion Voting Systems computer tabulators used to tally results in the state's largest county did so accurately. That, according to the Ninjas' own hand-count [PDF] of some 2.1 million ballots. In fact, in a spectacular and hilarious failure, the Ninjas count found the margins of victory for the Democrats in both Joe Biden's Presidential contest and Mark Kelly's Senatorial race, were actually larger than those certified by the County and state officials last year.

But, while the Ninjas tried (unsuccessfully) to bury that embarrassing finding, they also tried to flood the zone with smoke and mirrors about tens of thousands of ballots that they suggested were either illegal or fraudulent in their three-volume report on the audit, and a three-hour presentation last Friday to the GOP-controlled AZ state Senate. There too, they failed spectacularly with one outlet after another, including the Republican-majority Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, fact-checking, debunking and explaining the so-called "critical" claims made by the Ninjas.

It seems the Ninjas never bothered to check with any actual election administration professionals, else most of their concerns would likely have been explained to them.

We're joined today for a postmortem debrief by an insider to much of the past five months of "audit" clown show theater in Maricopa,. You know him as that "bamboo guy". We have known him for many years as the longtime progressive election transparency advocate JOHN BRAKEY of AUDIT-USA. Brakey joined us previously at the beginning of the "audit" for an insider view, and as it continued on for months past its initially planned three weeks, after comments of his taken out of context by a local reporter went viral, reporting that Brakey was looking for bamboo in the ballots, suggesting they were fraudulent and stuffed into the ballot box by China (as many in the MAGA set falsely claimed). In fact, as the later posted full context of his remarks reveals, Brakey was explaining what the Ninjas believed, not him, and that he was participating in the effort in hopes of "ungaslighting" the public about false and otherwise evidence-free claims being made by Trump supporters about the election results.

Brakey worked --- for free, while also refusing to sign the Ninjas' non-disclosure agreement --- with AZ's former Sec. of State, Ken Bennett, a Republican, who was tapped by the GOP state Senate to serve as their liaison to the "audit".

"The whole thing was a grift. Okay?," Brakey tells me today after the audits conclusion. "They didn't want people to know how screwed up they were. They're the best talkers but the worst producers. They pretend to know what they were talking about." But, as Brakey explains again today, they didn't have a clue what they were doing.

Among the many questions of mine that Brakey speaks to today:

  • Were his efforts to "ungaslight" the public by working on the audit successful or was it a mistake on his part to lend his credibility?
  • Does he believe the minds of any of the MAGA Mob were ultimately changed through this exercise?
  • As a long time election transparency and integrity champion, was there anything that the Ninjas DID uncover that was actually troubling and needs to be addressed or corrected by election officials?
  • Will the AZ "audit" make similar post-election reviews more or less likely elsewhere in the country?
  • What is the AZ Senate hiding by failing to release thousands of public documents and communications between them and the Ninjas (including emails and texts from Brakey), as ordered by a state judge?
  • And much more, including whether or not the Ninjas ever found that elusive "bamboo" in Maricopa County's 2.1 million hand-marked paper ballots!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Controversial partisan hand-count in Maricopa County also found 2020 margin increased for Dem over Repub in U.S. Senate race; Plus: GOP Senate now threatening to force unprecedented default on U.S. debt...
By Brad Friedman on 9/23/2021 5:16pm PT  

Now, even the Cyber Ninjas agree that Donald Trump lost, and by more than originally thought. The full, final, long-awaited report is set to be released on Friday in three different "volumes" in which they hope to bury the lede. But we've got the breaking skinny, exclusively reported for you on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

According to a months-long, so-called "forensic audit" and hand-count of more than 2.1 million ballots in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona from the 2020 election, not only did Joe Biden defeat Trump, as previously reported by the County and the state, the private partisan company hired by the GOP state Senate to carry out the exercise, found that Biden actually received more votes over Trump than originally reported.

Information obtained just minutes before airtime today, reveals that the months-long "audit" by the far-right, partisan, conspiracy-promoting Florida company named Cyber Ninjas, headed up by CEO Doug Logan, determined that Biden's vote total in the state's most populous county was actually larger, by about 100 votes, than the certified numbers, while Trump's total decreased by more than 200.

The certified results in Arizona determined that Biden defeated Trump by about 10,000 votes statewide, and by some 45,000 votes in Maricopa.

The Ninjas' "clown show" hand-count was paid for partially with Arizona taxpayer dollars, along with millions in private donations raised from duped Trump supporters who believed his claims that the election was somehow rigged in the state with the help of Dominion's voting and tabulation computers. The post-election review was carried out largely without public or media oversight, but it found numbers remarkably similar to those initially tallied by the County's Dominion tabulators, as previously reported by Maricopa County and certified by the state.

Similarly, the Ninjas' hand-count of the U.S. Senate race between Democrat Mark Kelly and then Republican Senator Martha McSally --- the only other statewide race won by Democrats last year --- found an increase in the margin of the Democrat over the Republican. In the Senate contest, both candidates lost a small number of votes compared to the County's certified computer tally, according to the numbers the Ninjas are set to report publicly on Friday. While Kelly lost fewer than 100 votes in the private hand-count, McSally lost more than 500.

The final report, scheduled for its long-awaited release tomorrow, will include three different volumes. Volume I is said to include the Ninjas' "Executive Summary & Recommendations". Their recommendations, as we have learned, are fairly standard recommendations for ways to improve local procedures, similar to recommendation often made by actual longtime Election Integrity advocates in previous elections in both Arizona and other states. The second volume of the report details "Operations and Methodology" claimed to have been used by the Ninjas. And the third, by far the largest and most detailed, is titled "Results Details".

It is not until the third volume of the report that the Ninjas finally get around to detailing the actual results of their hand-counts as compared to the County's tally. They almost precisely confirm the originally reported official results of both the 2020 Presidential and Senatorial races in Maricopa County. There still may be some changes made to the report before the final version is released on Friday.

I suspect we'll have more details on all of this in the coming days, since today's program began just minutes after we obtained a large amount of the data, which we work through on air.

What is clear, however, is that Republicans who were told that the election in Arizona was somehow manipulated, were lied to. From our review of the Ninja's information, there remains zero evidence of fraud that might have altered the ultimate results in either the county or the state. Nonetheless, based on the theatrical performance put on by the Ninjas beginning in April and continuing over the past five months, Republicans in states across the country are now planning similar, taxpayer funded exercises to review the results of the 2020 election. They may be as disappointed as the Ninjas and those who gave them their money.

If the Arizona findings are echoed elsewhere, the Republican Party is on the verge of wasting a whole lot more taxpayer money, along with millions in private donations that their "forensic audit" proponents are currently raising to fund those similar investigations.

Beyond that on today's program, we cover, in some detail, the Congressional GOP's dangerous threat to force a default on the good faith and credit of the U.S. Government. Senate Republicans are currently vowing to block an increase in the nation's allowable statutory debt limit before the U.S. runs out of borrowing power to cover bills for stuff approved by Congress (both Republicans and Democrats) long ago. That, as Republicans in the Senate also threaten to force a full government shutdown as the new fiscal year begins on October 1.

We've got a lot of detail on that shameful, reckless and under-reported mess today, as Republicans, once again, hold a nation hostage to their demands...even if, this time, they don't seem to actually be making any. They appear to simply be causing havoc and potentially costing the U.S. economy trillions, simply because they can.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us today with our latest Green News Report, as President Biden calls for unified climate action at the U.N. and as China vows to end international financing of coal plants, and much more...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

* * *

CORRECTION 9/23/2021: In the article above, I initially misidentified Cyber Ninjas' CEO Doug Logan as Doug Jones, who, unlike Logan, is an actual voting system and cybersecurity expert. Another Doug Jones is the former Senator from Alabama. Also, while going through the just obtained information live on air, I misspoke at one point to say there were some 4 million ballots cast in Maricopa. In fact, as I noted elsewhere during the show, there were 2.1 million ballots cast in the County last November. I had misread, on the fly, some of the data showing 2.x million votes tabulated by the County originally and 2.x million tabulated by the Ninjas. I read that on the fly on air as 4 million votes total (incorrectly seeing those numbers as one row for Trump and the other for Biden, when they actually were for each of the two different tallies.) My apologies for both errors!

* * *

UPDATE 9/24/2021: National media picks up this story several hours after our scoop. Full details now here...

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Guest: Congressional historian and author Norman Ornstein of AEI on why he believes Dems will both reform the filibuster and pass a transformative Build Back Better budget reconciliation package...
By Brad Friedman on 9/22/2021 6:23pm PT  

On today's BradCast: What we are witnessing right now in Washington D.C. is not just an exercise in how the sausage gets made...or doesn't. While it is that, it is also an extraordinarily perilous moment for the survival of the republic, as Democrats try to step up, in order to face down an insurrectionist GOP seemingly hell bent on taking the nation and the world down with them. Fortunately, our guest today --- who knows this landscape as well as anyone in the nation --- seems optimistic, despite the fraught dangers that lie ahead. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

The nightmare moment for Joe Biden, the Democrats and the nation, includes a Congressional Republican Party willing to default on the, until now, iron-clad good faith and credit of the U.S. economy, by refusing to vote to raise the ridiculous "debt ceiling" in order to borrow the money needed to pay for all the stuff that we (including Republicans!) have already committed to paying for, including trillions spent or given away during the Trump years.

It also includes several mighty internecine battles inside the Congressional Democratic caucus itself, as the so-called "moderate" and progressive wings of the big tent party attempt to navigate through landmines over the next several days and weeks to come to an agreement on Joe Biden's proposed $3.5 trillion Build Back Better social safety net programs (which, in addition to the expansion of health and child care, also includes a laundry list of long-overdue programs, such as our first major attempt to take on our climate emergency) and the critical Freedom to Vote Act, a sweeping election reform package to try and counter the massive voter suppression and election subversion efforts being adopted by GOP-controlled states in advance of 2022.

To pass the latter, Democrats will almost certainly need to reform the filibuster in some way, to allow passage with a simple majority of Senators. Sadly, there do not appear to be any Republicans left in Congress who are willing to support the right to vote and fair elections. These problems seem insurmountable for the moment, even as we've been fairly bullish on the Dems' ultimate ability to overcome the many hurdles they currently face.

Similarly bullish, it seems, is NORMAN ORNSTEIN [pictured above], longtime Congressional historian and political science PhD, who has spent the bulk of the last four decades studying politics, elections, and the US Congress at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, where he is now a senior fellow emeritus. He is also a contributing editor and columnist for The Atlantic and author of a host of books, including his latest, One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported, with E. J. Dionne and Thomas E. Mann.

Last week, Ornstein and Norman Eisen, of the left-leaning Brookings Institution, published a Washington Post op-ed headlined "Seven reasons to think Senate Democrats will actually change the filibuster". It's based on a paper they published at the same time at Brookings, along with Mel Barnes and Jeffrey A. Mandell, titled "Filibuster reform is coming --- here's how".

Both pieces are surprisingly optimistic when it comes to what will have to happen --- and how West Virginia's Joe Manchin and Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema will have to play along --- in order to reform the filibuster to adopt the Freedom to Vote Act, before that freedom is all but foreclosed by GOP voter suppression and election subversion in next year's mid-terms and 2024's Presidential race.

"We're seeing more and more intense understanding on the part of Democrats in the Senate that the road to accomplishing significant goals, in a time frame that's short for Democrats, has to require some change in their rules," Ornstein tells me, explaining why he believes that even Manchin and Sinema will come around to understanding the existential necessity of countering "the over-the-top actions by --- it's not a party anymore --- the Republican cult, to try not just to obstruct votes and to suppress votes, but to intimidate election workers and overturn legitimate results."

He walks us through why he believes that both of those two currently obstructionist Democratic Senators will come around in the end, on both filibuster reform and the Dems' budget reconciliation bill, which can be adopted with a simple majority vote. "Joe Manchin, throughout his career, has been a transactional politician. You could do a bill that's, say, $2.2 or $2.5 trillion, that actually preserves all of your core priorities" by simply trimming the number of years those proposals will be in effect. And, he argues, it can be done "if not being revenue neutral," then in a way that "is a pretty trivial amount as a share of our Gross Domestic Product."

In the end, he believes Manchin will come along, and Sinema along with him. "I think it's dicey, but I also think it's doable," Ornstein argues.

Among other key points of our conversation today, we discuss how Nancy Pelosi can hold the vote on the smaller, bipartisan, $1.5 trillion infrastructure package that Democratic House "moderates" are demanding next week, but not send the bill to the President's desk until the larger reconciliation package supported by progressives is adopted in both chambers; and how (and if) Democrats will be able to overcome objections by the Senate Parliamentarian to include things like immigration reform in a budget reconciliation package, "awkwardly thrown in". All necessary, says Ornstein, "because of the goddamn filibuster! Because there's no other way to get it done with 50 votes. So you create this ungainly hodgepodge of things as a way to try to circumvent the rules, and the better way to deal with it is to change the damn rules!"

If these things don't happen, he warns, if Democrats fail to successfully navigate the many minefields to adopt both election reform and Biden's Build Back Better Agenda, we are in "deep, deep, deep trouble," he says. "I think we're done for, frankly, if they can't do both of these things."

Of course, in the next few days, we'll also have to somehow get over the debt ceiling cliff that Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are threatening to push the nation over. On that, Ornstein is less sanguine. "I'm actually more concerned about that, because we have a group of Republicans like [Governors] Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott, Kristi Noem and Tate Reeves, and so many others who are willing to let hundreds of thousands of people die [from COVID] for their own political purposes. Can I believe that Mitch McConnell and his colleagues would let the nation go into default and cause the economy to go into huge upheaval? Sadly, yes."

There is also at least one extra treat in my interview with Ornstein today, however, for those who may remember the hilarious and shockingly prescient 1998 satirical novel by Al Franken, written prior to his career as a U.S. Senator, entitled Why Not Me?: The Inside Story of the Making and Unmaking of the Franken Presidency. Ornstein actually "co-stars" in the book as Franken's unlikely Campaign Manager before becoming his Presidential Chief of Staff. I'll not give any more of the book away, since I suspect it's still an hilarious read. But today, Ornstein shares the backstory of how that book came about, and how much more prescient it actually turned out to be than even I remembered!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 8/3/2021 10:51am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Looks like Infrastructure Week is finally happening; Major U.S. interstate in Colorado shut down indefinitely by wildfire-related mudslide; County in Washington State passes America's first-ever ban on new fossil fuel infrastructure; PLUS: Massive new wildfires force evacuations in Greece, Turkey and Italy... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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

Click here to listen or download MP3 (6 mins)...

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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): The Bipartisan Bill Enters The Amendment Process, Length TBD; Big banks, financial firms hatch plan for Asian coal-fired closures; Western Wildfires Are Sending Carbon Offsets Up in Smoke; Tokyo Olympics may be hottest ever; Biden mileage rule to exceed Obama climate goal; Shell sponsored a museum exhibit on climate solutions, with strings attached; A Geothermal Energy Boom May Be Coming, and Ex-Oil Workers Are Leading the Way; Google is quietly trying to find out if hard drives are recyclable... PLUS: DHL Express buys electric cargo planes for U.S. package delivery... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




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