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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, July 3, 2022
WARNING: SCOTUS Takes Case to Legitimize Fringe 'Indpndnt State Legislature' Doctrine!: 'BradCast' 7/1/22
Corrupt Court may legalize election theft; Also: Ginni lies; Fox defamation; CA Internet Voting...
Activist SCOTUS Torches EPA's 'Clean Air Act' Mandate to Regulate Carbon Pollution: 'BradCast' 6/30/22
Guest: Mark Joseph Stern on that, much more on the final day of the corrupt Court's term...
'Green News Report' 6/30/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Rightwing SCOTUS guts EPA's power to regulate carbon emissions; Residential gas stoves leak carcinogens; PLUS: Clean energy jobs booming! Fossil fuel jobs not so much...
Recent GNRs: 6/28/22 - 6/23/22 - Archives...
Tuesday's Election Results
and the Tea Leaves of 'UNconventional Times': 'BradCast' 6/29/22
What to glean from the first midterm primaries and special elections after the fall of 'Roe'...
JAN. 6 HEARINGS (Day 6): Meadows' Top WH Aide Offers Insider Trump Bombshell After Bombshell: 'BradCast' 6/28/22
Cassidy Hutchinson's explosive testimony w/ John Amato and Heather Digby Parton...
'Green News Report' 6/28/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Cause of NM's largest-ever wildfire revealed; Japan's grid straining under extreme heat; Colombia's new Prez a climate hawk; PLUS: Americans' high cost of extreme weather...
Recent GNRs: 6/23/22 - 6/21/22 - Archives...
After Corrupt Reversal of 'Roe', What Now? What Next?: 'BradCast' 6/27/22
Callers ring in; Also: Russia attacks Ukrainian shopping mall; Surprise J6 hearing announced; SCOTUS further erodes separation of church and state with new ruling...
Sunday 'Supremely Unjust' Toons
PDiddie's latest radical collection of this extremist week's most activist and supremely corrupted toons...
SUPREME CORRUPTION: 'BradCast' 6/24/22
Packed Court of radical, activist GOP Justices invent imaginary 'historical' reasons to cancel reproductive freedoms, personal privacy rights, gun safety laws; Also: Many more well-established Constitutional rights now in peril...
JAN. 6 HEARINGS (Day 5): Trump's Failed DoJ Coup and 'How Close We Came to Losing it All': 'BradCast' 6/23/22
With former Deputy Asst. AG Lisa Graves, Salon's Heather Digby Parton...
'Green News Report' 6/23/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Biden calls for temporary gas tax cut; Arctic warming really fast; New management for national monument; PLUS: IEA warns Europe about Russian gas exports this winter...
Recent GNRs: 6/21/22 - 6/16/22 - Archives...
Rebutting Raffensperger's 'Recount', Calling Out His Coffee County 'Cover-Up':
'BradCast' 6/22/22
Guest: Marilyn Marks of CGG; Also: DoJ broadens fake Trump electors probe...
J6 HEARINGS (Day 4): Trump Threatened, Targeted, Terror-ized State Officials, Election Workers: 'BradCast' 6/21/22
Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, 'Driftglass' of the Pro Left Podcast...
'Green News Report' 6/21/22
Deadly heat in Europe, U.S.; Catastrophic flooding in India, Bangladesh; Climate change a 'public health crisis'; PLUS: Corrupt SCOTUS set to undermine EPA...
A Conservative Appeal to Repubs to Save America, End Uncivil War on Democracy: 'BradCast' 6/20/22
Also: More Americans seek Trump J6 accountability; Callers ring in...
Sunday 'Right-Wing Freakout' Toons...
PDiddie apologizes to Dad for ruining his day, in his latest weekly toon collection...
Can Our Democracy Survive All of This?: 'BradCast' 6/17/22
Guest Host Nicole Sandler w/ The Nation's John Nichols...
J6 HEARINGS (Day 3): Trump, Eastman Knew VP Scheme Unlawful, Pressured Pence Anyway: 'BradCast' 6/16/22
Guests: Former DoJ fraud prosecutor Randall D. Eliason, Salon's Heather Digby Parton...
'Green News Report' 6/16/22
'Delusional' rush to new fossil fuel supplies; A surprising source of pollution; 'World's first zero emissions cement'; PLUS: TX grid saved by wind, solar...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern on that and much more on the final day of the corrupt rightwing Supreme Court's unprecedented term...
By Brad Friedman on 6/30/2022 6:23pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was the grand finale at the end of a U.S. Supreme Court term like no other. Now that its packed with rightwing extremists, the unleashed activists on the GOP's illegitimate 6 to 3 U.S. Supreme Court pretended on Thursday that the text of the written law doesn't say what it actually says, in order to offer a parting gift for the year to the fossil fuel industry --- as the nation and globe burn.

The Clean Air Act, as Justice Elena Kagan wrote [PDF] on behalf of the three dissenters, "directs the EPA to regulate stationary sources of any substance that 'causes, or contributes significantly to, air pollution' and that 'may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.'" She made clear that, as the Court has determined on multiple occasions, the Environmental Protection Agency "serves as the Nation's 'primary regulator of greenhouse gas emissions.'"

But, never mind all of that. On Thursday, writing for the Court's far-right majority in West Virginia v. EPA --- and ignoring its own precedents --- Chief Justice John Roberts pretended none of those mandates existed in the law adopted by Congress in 1963 and amended a number of times over the years. Despite any actual existing Administrative rule to regulate carbon emissions by coal and gas-fired power plants --- Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan was put on hold by the Court years ago, and Donald Trump's scheme to restrict the EPA's power to do so was rejected by lower courts --- SCOTUS took up this coal-industry sponsored law suit and gave them pretty much everything they sought, text of the written law be damned.

As they did when striking down the Administration's vaccine-or-test mandate, the Court once again invoked their newly invented "Major Questions" doctrine in order to declare that any issue that may be controversial in any way may not be decided by the scientists and experts at the federal agencies created to handle such things. Instead, they must be specifically directed, by Congress, to do so. Because the Clean Air Act, which tasks the EPA with regulating dangerous pollutants --- such as carbon released by coal-fired power plants, currently exacerbating our deadly climate crisis --- doesn't actually cite "carbon" specifically, the Trump/McConnell/Roberts Court has now declared the federal agency may take no action to help reduce it. Never mind their own previous findings and, of course, the number of Americans who will die because of this ruling.

The opinion was as predictable as it is corrupt. We're joined today by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist and Constitutional law expert at Slate, to discuss the opinion that will not only limit the EPA from doing the job it has already been tasked with by Congress, but prevent many other federal agencies from carrying out their mandates as well. It's all part of the corporate rightwing's long "war on the Administrative State". And it's a war they are now winning --- and we are all losing.

"Massachusetts v. EPA held that the federal government must --- not can, but must --- regulate and limit carbon emissions in the United States because carbon is a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, and thus the EPA has a legal obligation to institute guidelines that reduce the level of greenhouse gases the US is emitting," Stern emphasizes, noting that today's opinion in West Virginia v. EPA "involves a regulation that does not exist."

Nonetheless, "the Supreme Court decided to take it up just to stop Joe Biden from trying" to regulate the greenhouse emissions now warming our planet at an alarming rate. "The Supreme Court," Stern adds, "decided to simply slap limitations on [the Clean Air Act] that do not exist in the text because they do not like it as a matter of policy."

As to the so-called "Major Questions" doctrine, argues Stern, "It's hard to define, because it is made up." It's not in the Constitution and, as far as he can tell, "it comes from Brett Kavanaugh's brain. This was his idea when he was on the lower court, to try to smuggle in a kind of anti-regulatory agenda into what looks like statutory interpretation."

"The basic idea is that if an agency tries to take some kind of very consequential action, that has a serious and vast impact on the people, or the economy, or private industry, then that is a 'major question', and the Congress has to give the Agency an extremely granular and explicit permission slip to do what it wants to do, otherwise the courts will block it. The problem with this test that should be clear, is that it is totally subjective. What looks like a major question to you may look like a frivolous question to me, and it really shifts policy-making over to unelected judges from experts in federal agencies."

Of course, this is just one of the many reasons I don't refer to these people as "conservatives". They don't merely interpret the law and the Constitution, as they claim. They make shit up to justify their politics. They are the "activists legislating from the bench" that Republicans pretend to oppose --- when they are trying to block Democratic appointees from positions on the bench.

There is much more today from the wise and colorful Mr. Stern, on this matter; on a separate (largely good news) ruling from the Court today on immigration policy; on the Court's opinion last week that begins to gut the famous Miranda Rights (the right to remain silent, to an attorney, etc.) for people who are detained by law enforcement (a "sleeper case" overlooked because it came on the same day that the Court overturned Roe v. Wade); on what will or can happen once the illegitimacy of this Court becomes clear to all; and on Justice Stephen Breyer's last day on the Court today before Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in as its first-ever black female jurist.

As if that's not enough, a ruling this week by SCOTUS overturned a lower federal court that found Louisiana's newly gerrymandered Congressional District map to be an unconstitutional violation of the Voting Rights Act. The lower court ordered another black majority District to be created, as state Republicans had only one among six, in a state where one-third of population is black. The ruling was similar to another in Alabama, which SCOTUS also struck down recently, ordering both states to use the gerrymandered and unconstitutional House maps drawn by Republicans for this year's critical 2022 midterm elections.

Does this signal the Court intends to overturn the entirety of the landmark Voting Rights Act, as they did with Roe? "Yes," Stern answers, before explaining how "really, they've already done it."

And then there's the new case that SCOTUS announced today they will take up in their next term, as their destruction continues. It's an election case out of North Carolina to allow the Court to create another pretend legal notion that the Right calls the "Independent State Legislature" Doctrine.

"I am terrified about this case," Stern says, as it will almost certainly be decided to allow "state legislatures to appoint electors in the Electoral College to the losing candidate in a Presidential race. Which is exactly what Donald Trump wanted them to do in 2020, and what Ginni Thomas was urging legislators to do while her husband was trying to institute this theory."

"The American people are in deep, deep, DEEP trouble," he warns.

Please "enjoy" today's program!...

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Just another day on Democracy Watch...cuz someone's gotta...
By Brad Friedman on 6/7/2022 6:13pm PT  

It's 'Super Duper Tuesday' Midterm Election Day today in Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota and California. The good news on today's BradCast? So far, no noteworthy reports, as of airtime, of voting system disasters that we've heard about or been able to find. But the night is young. Results from today's elections, such that we have them, on tomorrow's show. But, don't worry, we've got tons of elections and democracy related news for you nonetheless. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among our many stories covered today...

  • As Philadelphia Inquirer's Will Bunch described it in his email newsletter today, "the multi-millionaire celebrity doctor from New Jersey officially defeated the multi-millionaire hedge fund CEO from Connecticut to become the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania." He's mostly correct. The Connecticut hedge fund millionaire, Dave McCormick, did concede late last week to the New Jersey millionaire TV doctor, Mehment Oz amid Pennsylvania's recount in the very close May 17 race to become the GOP nominee for the Keystone State's U.S. Senate contest to replace retiring Republican Senator Pat Toomey. But a concession doesn't actually mean anything. Oz will not become the "official" nominee until the recount is finalized over the next day or so. Then, the Trump-endorsed celebrity TV doctor, who is not a resident of Pennsylvania, but is a Turkish citizen, will become the GOP's "America First" nominee to run against PA's Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman this November. Presuming Fetterman's health holds out. Dems see the seat as among the most flippable this fall...assuming Fetterman's health etc...
  • In other very close primary news, two Democratic recounts in U.S. House primaries now await in Texas. In the state's 28th Congressional District, rightwing, pro-gun, anti-choice Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar ended the canvass period up by just 281 votes (out of about 45,000 cast) over progressive favorite Jessica Cisneros after their May 24 runoff election. Today, Cisneros officially requested a recount --- and must pay for it, unless she ends up winning it --- despite some obnoxious comments from Cuellar who, himself, ended up winning a 2004 primary recount against his Democratic opponent when he first went to Congress. Back then, he had lost by 145 votes after the canvass, but ended up winning the race by 58 votes after a recount. So, you'd think he'd be a bit less obnoxious in this case...but you'd be wrong. Whoever wins the recount will probably take the House seat in the "blue"-leaning district.
  • In another Democratic primary race for U.S. House in Texas, there was an even closer race, with progressive Michelle Vallejo topping the more conservative Ruben Ramirez by just 30 votes (out of about 12,000 cast) in the state's 15th Congressional District. Ramirez says he too will seek a recount. Whether either of these races will be recounted by hand in the state is unclear. But if the candidates want to know who really won or lost, they will fight for a count by hand, rather than by the same computers that tallied the results in the first place. The winner of the race will face off with Republican Monica De La Cruz in November, in what is expected to be one of the most competitive House races in the state after this year's round of gerrymandering.
  • And speaking of gerrymandering...last month, a state court in Florida found Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' new U.S. House map to be in violation of the state Constitution after voters, in 2010, added an Amendment that outlaws partisan maps and specifically those that diminish the ability of minority voters to elect their chosen candidate. The DeSantis map was enacted after he vetoed the GOP legislature's already-gerrymandered map and made it even worse by removing a district currently represented by Democratic African-American Rep. Al Lawson. Last month, the state court ordered a new, fairer map, but a state appeals court blocked that order. The appellate decision was quickly appealed by voting rights groups. But late last week the state's GOP state Supreme Court allowed the appeals court's stay to remain in place. That means that DeSantis' extremely gerrymander U.S. House map --- found to have been in violation of the state Constitution --- will almost certainly be used anyway this year. The unconstitutional map allows a GOP advantage in 20 of the state's 28 districts, despite DeSantis having barely won his own election in 2018 in the closely divided state by less than one-half of a percentage point.
  • In somewhat brighter gerrymandering news (at least until the ruling is overturned by the very rightwing 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals), a federal judge in Louisiana on Monday found the state GOP's U.S. House map in violation of the Voting Rights Act. The map --- originally vetoed by Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, but overridden by the GOP state legislature --- includes just one black majority Congressional District, out of six, even though the state's population is almost one-third black. LA's Republican Sec. of State has vowed to appeal the court ruling which bars the use of the gerrymandered map. But, given the corrupt 5th Circuit Appeals Court and the GOP's corrupt, stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court above them, it's a safe bet the state's unconstitutional map will be allowed for the critical 2022 midterms anyway. It'd be nice if we're wrong about that. But don't bet on it.
  • Next, we've been covering, in great detail in recent months, the many schemes by Republican election insiders across the country, in the wake of the 2020 election, to breach proprietary computerized voting systems, make copies of the sensitive software, and even release it to the public in some cases. (See the Mesa County, Colorado County Clerk Tina Peters, who is now facing criminal charges for what she did, or the GOP Board of Elections in Coffee County, Georgia, for just two examples.) While Reuters reports that there have been at least 17 such incidents nationwide, their new exclusive finds that 11 of them took place in Michigan. Based on public records requests, the new outlet found discovered that there has been "a flurry of efforts by state authorities to secure voting machines, poll books, data-storage devices and phone records as evidence in a probe launched in mid-February." Luckily, the state has a Democratic Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State, the latter of whom tells Reuters that law enforcement officials are now probing whether the broad election system breaches by GOP "fraud" dead-enders are coordinated. This in a state where even the GOP state legislature issued a report finding no evidence of widespread fraud and called for the prosecution of those who fraudulently claimed that there was. "If there is coordination," Sec. of State Jocelyn Benson told Reuters, "whether it's among those in our state or reaching up to a national level, we can determine that and then we can seek accountability for all involved." I expect we'll be hearing more about this effort in the days, weeks and months ahead.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as she gets us caught up on a whole bunch of stuff that happened while we were out last week. Happily, not all of it --- just some of it --- is terrible news...

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Guest: Redistricting expert, author David Daley; Also: Did you hear Republicans tried to 'unwind' the 2020 Presidential election?...
By Brad Friedman on 4/27/2022 6:43pm PT  

As midterm primary elections begin in earnest next month, today on The BradCast, we catch up with the latest successful attempts by GOP states to undermine their constituents' wishes through new, partisan gerrymanders following the 2020 Census and the Courts which are helping them do so. In the meantime, a Democratic-leaning court in New York today did the opposite, blocking a Dems from gerrymandering in the Empire State. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Before we're joined by our guest to discuss all of that and more today, just a quick kudos to Rebecca Beitsch at The Hill for coming up with a new euphemism --- or, at least, one we haven't seen used yet by the rest of the corporate media --- to report on new evidence documenting the failed Trump/GOP attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election. It's getting more difficult by the day to do so without using the correct word, "steal", when doing so. Sure, anyone can describe the GOP's attempt to "undermine" or "overturn" or "question the results". But that gets stale after a while. So, congrats to Beitsch for reporting on their attempt to "UNWIND the 2020 election", just to freshen things up! <insert eyeroll emoji here>

Then, we're joined today by redistricting expert and author DAVID DALEY, Senior Fellow at FairVote, to get caught up on a whole bunch of recent court rulings (and outrages) from over the past week or three when it comes to the last minute efforts --- largely by Republican-controlled states --- to game the 2022 midterms (and elections for the next ten years), with outrageously partisan gerrymandering of U.S. House maps.

Daley walks us through a number of such cases, including in several states where, over the past decade, large majorities of voters have adopted ballot initiatives to prevent the very gerrymandering that Republicans appear to be getting away with, nonetheless, in their newly redistricted maps.

In Ohio, the GOP-majority Redistricting Commission has had its new maps rejected four different times in recent weeks by the state's Supreme Court, with the help of its Republican Chief Justice. Despite being ordered by the court to follow the state's Constitution --- which now requires districts that generally reflect the partisan balance of the closely divided, if GOP-leaning state --- Republican Commissioners (which include state Gov. Mike DeWine, whose son sits on the state Supreme Court but refuses to recuse) aren't even trying anymore. With primaries scheduled for next month in the Buckeye State, the Commission is "just not meeting" anymore at all, says Daley. "They're trying to run out the clock so the federal court imposes one of the unconstitutional maps that has already been rejected by Ohio's state Supreme Court."

The state's previous gerrymandered map gave the GOP a 12 to 4 advantage in U.S. House districts. The new ones, repeatedly rejected by the state court, would give them a 13 to 2 advantage, despite the roughly 53-45% partisan split in the 2020 Presidential election and a 2015 mandate from more than 70% of voters rewriting the state Constitution to ensure new maps reflect the statewide partisan makeup.

In Florida, where voters also voted for redistricting reform, things are even more obnoxious and anti-democratic. The GOP-controlled legislature produced a map giving Republicans a 16 to 12 advantage, but it was rejected by Governor and Presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis for his own hand-drawn map that is likely to result in 20 Republican House seats and just 8 Democratic ones. State Republicans "already produced a pretty good Republican gerrymander," Daley explains, "and DeSantis said, 'Wait a second, I can do even better than that.'" With the state's high court packed with his own appointees, Daley warns, "that is not a Supreme Court that we should look to for any sort of help when it comes to fair maps."

Back in 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that federal courts may play no role in preventing partisan redistricting, leaving the matter the chaos of each individual state court to decide. But on the matter of racial gerrymandering, SCOTUS is still happy to tell states what they can and can't do, even when the High Court's own rulings disagree with each other.

Daley explains how SCOTUS jumped in, back in February, months before the primaries, to block a new black-majority district ordered in Alabama by a lower federal court under the Voting Rights Act because. The Supremes, on the stolen and packed Court, determined it was just too soon before the primary election to draw up a new map. But late last month, after the Wisconsin Supreme Court approved a new state legislative map drawn by the state's Democratic Governor, SCOTUS ordered the state to rewrite the map, just weeks before the primaries, to remove a new black legislative district created in Milwaukee.

"The US Supreme Court has been eager this cycle to help Republicans and to put their foot on the scale against Democrats," Daley charges, describing their rulings as "Heads I win, tails you lose. They're not even pretending anymore."

And then we get to New York, where it was Democrats' turn to face the music for gerrymandering the state's U.S. House map to add three new likely Democratic U.S. House seats. Today, mid-show, NY's high court blocked the map (appropriately, as Daley sees it), ordering a court-appointed Special Master to draw up new maps in time for this year's primary (which the court also postponed until August to allow time to create the new maps.)

Last week, Daley, a longtime proponent of fair maps in all fifty states, wrote at CNN about what he saw as the "indefensible" map drawn up by NY Dems, describing it as "among the most obscene partisan gerrymanders nationwide." NY courts clearly agreed, but even Daley's own opinion article seemed to make the case for what Democrats tried --- but failed --- to do.

"If blue state courts roll back Democratic gerrymanders, but red state judges rule as partisan ideologues, a pro-GOP bias will be baked into the national map for another decade," he wrote. "A maximally gerrymandered national congressional map is...bad in nearly every way except, perhaps, compared with the previous decade's map, rigged so Republicans held control in 2012 even when they won 1.4 million fewer votes."

As regular listeners and readers know, over the past year I've (regrettably) changed my position on partisan gerrymandering, given the gaming of the system by Republicans which has succeeded in endangering America's small-'d' democratic project entirely. Short of federal legislation to ban partisan redistricting everywhere (an effort by Dems that was blocked by all Senate Republicans last year), I've been calling on states controlled by Democrats to gerrymander wherever possible. I hate that position. It's bad for many voters in the states but, ultimately, important for something resembling democracy on the national level at a time when democracy is facing a serious challenge from the forces of authoritarianism.

But Daley disagrees with. At least in as much as he has argued that such an effort could never be successful. "A national map that has been rigged for one side to win is extraordinarily dangerous, especially when one party has completely broken faith with democracy," he tells me as we debate this point again today. "Gerrymandering the hell out of Illinois and New York doesn't save democracy. It doesn't give Democrats that much of a leg up on fixing this. It is a band-aid, when what you need is a tourniquet. It's not sufficient. By all means, go ahead and put a band-aid on, but don't think it's going to stop the bleeding."

"I'm calling for a national standard that fixes the problem in New York as well as in Texas," he argues (as do I). "Because there are not enough New Yorks to balance out the Texases and Floridas. Democrats can gerrymander the hell out of these states if they want, but it's not going to help them. What they need to do is fix the overall structural problem, or it's only going to get worse."

Prepare for it to get worse...

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Also: Brooklyn subway shooting; NY Lt. Gov. indicted; What you don't know about inflation; Biden taps ethanol to further lower gas prices...
By Brad Friedman on 4/12/2022 7:22pm PT  

We've got a very busy and eclectic BradCast for you today. For good or ill. You'll decide. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

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

  • Another mass shooting today, this time in a crowded subway train in Brooklyn. At least 10 were shot and 17 injured. Reportedly, however, even with 5 victims said to be in critical condition, authorities say none of the injuries are life-threatening. The gunman, wearing a gasmask and releasing smoke bombs to add to the nightmarish chaos, appears to have used a semi-automatic handgun with several large magazines and was only stopped, after at least 33 shots, when one of the cartridges is believed to have jammed. The suspect was still on the run as of airtime.
  • Also in New York, recently-minted Democratic Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin was arrested and indicted on several federal felony charges related to bribery, fraud and falsification of records on Tuesday, in an alleged scheme during his time as a state Senator involving campaign payoffs from a real estate developer (who was previously arrested, but is not Donald Trump). Among the records Benjamin is said to have falsified are the vetting documents used by Gov. Kathy Hochul when selecting him for the job of Lt. Gov. after she ascended from that job in the wake of the resignation of the previous Democratic Governor, the scandal-plagued Andrew Cuomo. Benjamin resigned late today. But getting him off the June primary ballot, where he was set to run for election against two other Democrats, is a different matter.
  • You may have heard today via screaming headlines that new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on finds inflation in March was at 8.5% over the past year. It is the highest rate since December of 1981 when that failed, one-term President Ronald Reagan was in the final month of his first year in office. There's probably a bunch of other stuff you haven't heard today beyond the screaming "Inflation hits 40-year high!" headlines from our corporate media. We help you understand some of that stuff.
  • President Joe Biden's recent action to release a million barrels of oil a day, for the next six months from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve immediately helped to lower gas prices at the pump. They've been falling pretty much every day since that unprecedented move, though they remain high thanks to Russia's war in Ukraine and the oil industry's continued profiteering. Today, in a bid to further lower gas prices, Biden announced a plan to waive the ban on summer use of E15 gasoline, which contains a 15% ethanol blend. Desi Doyen helps us make sense of that news and why it is both good and bad.
  • Last week, following a months-long investigation, Arizona's very MAGA, vote-suppressing Attorney General Mark Brnovich, finally released a report [PDF] on his probe of allegations of fraud in Maricopa County (Phoenix)'s 2020 Presidential election. That probe was requested by the very MAGA state Senate after the exceedingly MAGA Cyber Ninjas failed to find any evidence of fraud in their own months-long so-called "audit" in the state's largest county, where Joe Biden won by some 45,000 votes, delivering the state to a Democrat for the first time in decades.

    As it turns out, Brnovich failed to uncover any evidence of fraud or any other crimes, though he did pretend to find "serious vulnerabilities" in the County's elections procedures. But those "serious vulnerabilities", according to the Chair of the County's Republican Board of Supervisors, the County's Republican Controller (its chief election official, who won his position during the same 2020 election), the County's former Democratic Controller (who lost that year), and the state's Democratic Sec. of State are all calling out Brnovich for a BS report that fails to find any evidence of any problems in the election at all, even while using words that help Fox "News" and the losing former President and all his MAGA friends pretend that he did. (Brnovich is in a contested primary race for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination, after all.)

    We let you know what Brnovich actually found (and didn't), even if none of it prevented the MAGA state Senate President who helped kick off all this madness from from claiming the report finds "fraud" (it doesn't) or one of the most rightwing MAGA state Senators from taking to her Twitter account in response to the report to call it "flaccid" and to insist that "WE WANT ARRESTS NOW." --- For what exactly? That part remains unclear. It may take a few more months or years and more millions of dollars of tax-payer money spent by "conservatives" in the state to get to the bottom of it.

  • Finally, Desi Doyen brings our latest Green News Report with some troubling new news on methane and climate change, as well as microplastics now being found in human blood and lungs. But she's got some better news on new mileage standards from Biden's Dept. of Transportation and on the electrification of tens of thousands of government vehicles and school buses in Los Angeles and Boston...

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Guest: Eric Kramer of Arizonans for Fair Elections; Also: Good news on the economy, unions, COVID and cannabis!; Plus: Annoy a Nazi!...
By Brad Friedman on 4/1/2022 6:54pm PT  

Yes, on today's BradCast, we discuss a new, maddening --- and likely unconstitutional --- voter suppression law signed this week by Arizona's Republican Governor. But, as our guest notes, "Don't worry, we've got this!" We'll see. He's got a plan in response that voters in other swing-states may wish to look at as well. Other than that though, today's show ends your week with nothin' but good news! (Mostly.) [Audio link to full toe-tappin' show is posted below this summary.]

First up, good news on COVID! According to the Dept. of Health and Human Services, hospitalizations are now at their lowest rate since the U.S. began keeping records at the beginning of the pandemic two years ago. Of course, last time hospitalizations where near this low we got slammed by Delta and then Omicron shortly thereafter. So, hey, now's a great time to get a vaccine shot or a booster if you haven't in the past 4 months or so!

Then, more good news on the economy! 431,000 new jobs were added in March, as Americans continue to shake off the pandemic, even amid war in Europe and inflation. Since Joe Biden took office, the economy has added a record 7.9 million jobs. Unemployment is the lowest it's been since before the pandemic and barely higher than the nation has seen in a half-century, as the President did some justifiable crowing about those numbers today. Things would be even better had Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin allowed his Build Back Better bill to pass, given that many more women are needed to fill millions of open jobs, but can't afford the child care (that BBB would have paid for) in order to take them.

But there's still more good news today, for workers and labor unions! Amazon employees in deep red Republican Staten Island, New York voted "yes" to unionize in an historic labor win at the only fulfillment center in New York City! It's the first Amazon facility in the U.S. to do so, but it likely means many others will join them. Another unionization vote at Amazon's fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama remains too close to call for the moment. It's the second such vote held at that plant after the National Labor Relations Board found that Amazon had cheated in the first vote and ordered a re-do.

Speaking of cheating in elections: Republicans. Though it may make your head (and mine) explode, mid-term primaries are beginning to kick off all over the country. The first one, last month in Texas, resulted in tens of thousands of disenfranchised absentee voters whose ballots were rejected thanks to the state GOP's new voter suppression law there.

We had slightly better news this week in Florida. There, a federal judge struck down several provisions of the new voter suppression law adopted last year by the GOP-dominated state legislature and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis (who barely won his initial election back in 2018). U.S. District Judge Mark Walker found that the law unlawfully targeted black voters in violation of both the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act. Most notably, he ordered the state back under the VRA's preclearance regime for the next decade, mandating approval in advance from the federal government for any new election-related laws that may effect minority voters.

Republicans in Arizona, however, have been running a bit behind in their voter suppression. But, on Wednesday this week, the state's Governor Doug Ducey, also facing re-election this year, signed HB 2492 [PDF], even though legislative attorneys in both the state House and Senate found the measure to be likely unconstitutional. In short, it requires state voters to prove they are citizens before they may vote for candidates in state and local elections. But it goes farther than previous such laws in the state. This one could disenfranchise anywhere from 31,000 to nearly 200,000 voters in a state where Democrats won the Presidential election in 2020 by just over 10,000 votes. It would prevent voters who fail to prove their citizenship (or can afford to do so) from voting for either state officials or President. They may still be able to vote for members of Congress, but not during either early voting or via absentee ballot.

We're joined today by ERIC KRAMER, former Chair of the Navajo County Democrats, now Director of the Arizona Deserves Better non-profit coalition to discuss HB 2492 and, more importantly, what he and other voting rights advocates in the state are currently doing to both overturn such measures and prevent even worse ones from being adopted at any time in the future with their new Arizonans for Fair Elections ballot initiative.

We first learned of the effort via DailyKos, where Kramer writes as "EricAZ". Two articles of his there caught our eye in particular. The first, in early March, was headlined "Arizona Right-Wing Goes Batshit Crazy in Attack on Voters (Don’t Worry, We’ve Got This)". The second, a few weeks later, is titled, "The Joy of Soon Beating the U.S. Supreme Court on Several Voting Rights Issues".

Kramer explains how the AZ Fair Elections initiative, targeted for inclusion on the ballot this November, would work to prevent the kind of voter suppression we have been seeing from the increasingly extremist Republican radicals who now control the AZ state legislature. It would roll back laws like HB 2492 and prevent similarly disenfranchising laws from being adopted in an election year. It would also repeal a number of other laws recently adopted by state Republicans which target minority voters (Native Americans in particular), while instituting proactive measures to increase voter turnout, rather than block it, as the GOP is now working so hard to do there and elsewhere.

"In addition to these places where we're kind of playing defense against what they've done to voters in the past, there are some where we are playing offense," Kramer explains in detailing the voter referendum. "We have automatic voter registration. We have Election Day registration. We expand the periods for early voting. And we do quite a lot to help Native American voters and especially disabled voters --- we give more opportunities to vote. So it is a very good initiative."

Can his group, which is currently in the signature gathering process, get the measure onto the ballot in November? And, if so, can they get it passed? "We are going to get it done," he tells me confidently. "We need 243,000 signatures [by July 7] to get on the ballot. We're currently collecting at more than twice the rate we need. Fundraising has gone well. People from all over the country are supporting this. We will get it done."

You can get more information on the initiative --- in case you'd like to support it or consider something similar in your own state --- at the website for the Arizonans for Fair Elections initiative (azfe.org).

Finally, we close with even more good news and a song!

Our final good news for the day is about cannabis. U.S. House Democrats, with almost zero help from Republicans, adopted a measure today to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, though it will still have to overcome a likely GOP filibuster in the Senate. That, despite the American public's overwhelming support not just for decriminalizing cannabis, but for fully legalizing it once and for all. Not sure why the GOP would be dumb enough to take a pass on shooting the measure down again, as they did back in 2020 when they held the majority in the upper chamber, but explaining Republican stupidity is not my strong suit.

But to keep you happy and singing well into the weekend, we close with a new ditty from Canadian comedian and "The Internet's Favourite Dad* (*unproven)", according to his Twitter profile, Stewart Reynolds, who sings that "it's nice to be disliked!"...So "annoy a Nazi" today!...

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The President takes on Big Oil, 'Putin's price hike' at the pump; DeSantis' new voting law struck down, found unconstitutional, racially motivated...
By Brad Friedman on 3/31/2022 6:53pm PT  

We cover two big stories in depth on today's BradCast. One out of the White House which effects the world. The other out of Florida, which effects the rest of the nation...or, at least, it should. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

President Biden, on Thursday, announced that he is releasing one million barrels of oil, per day, for the next 180 days, from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve in hopes of lowering gas prices for Americans in response to what he described as the "Putin Price Hike".

In addition to the unprecedented release from the Reserve, Biden called out Big Oil companies for keeping prices high (previously known as war profiteering) as they see record profits and pad the pockets of investors and executives, even as Putin's war inflates prices on global energy markets. He also called on Congress to pass a "Use it or Lose it" law that would charge a fee to oil and gas producers who are sitting on as many as 9,000 unused drilling permits on more than a million acres of land, as prices rise for Americans at the pump.

At the same time, Biden announced his plan to invoke the Defense Production Act to encourage American production of minerals that are needed for electric vehicle battery production.

We share the President's remarks today at the White House and Desi Doyen helps us unpack what it all means --- for gas prices and for our climate crisis.

Next, the big news out of Florida. A federal judge on Thursday struck down parts of a new state law that makes voting much harder for many in the Sunshine State, finding it unconstitutional and racially motivated. Moreover, he invoked a key provision of the Voting Rights Act to prevent more such measures for the next ten years.

FL's Senate Bill 90 was adopted by the state's Republican legislature last year in the wake of Donald Trump's evidence free claims about fraud in the 2020 election. That, despite Florida's claims that the election was well run and free of fraud or other problems. The new law limits the use of drop boxes; adds more ID requirements for those requesting absentee ballots; restricts who may collect and drop off ballots; further restricts third-party voter registration; and makes it a crime to give voters food or water to voters as they wait in line to cast their ballot, among other restrictions challenged by the League of Women Voters of Florida and other voting rights advocates.

In his 288-page order [PDF], U.S. District Court Judge Mark Walker slammed parts of the measure as racially motivated and little more than a law enacted "to improve the Republican Party's electoral prospects." His ruling quotes Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. throughout, while asserting that plaintiffs "allege that SB 90 runs roughshod over the right to vote, unnecessarily making voting harder for all eligible Floridians, unduly burdening disabled voters, and intentionally targeting minority voters --- all to improve the electoral prospects of the party in power...Having reviewed all the evidence, this Court finds that, for the most part, Plaintiffs are right."

But the most noteworthy element of this story is that Judge Walker also invoked a little used provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act to "bail-in" the state of Florida to the VRA's preclearance requirement for the next 10 years. That provision, used against repeat violators of the VRA, will force the state to obtain approval from the U.S. Dept. of Justice or a three-judge federal panel before new voting laws that may have a racially disparate effect on voters can be implemented.

As UC-Irvine election law expert Rick Hasen described the ruling as "quite a blockbuster" and a "a huge deal." He told the New York Times, "This is an opinion that full throatedly reads the Voting Rights Act in the expansive way that Congress intended it to be read, and essentially dares the higher courts to overrule it." He also believes that "conservative 11th Circuit or the Supreme Court" is likely to do so, even though "the district court's analysis is probably right."

Florida Republicans are furious. Gov. Ron DeSantis calls the ruling "performative partisanship". The State's Republican Senate President calls it "highly unprofessional, inaccurate, and unbecoming of an officer of the court." That, as the League of Women Voters celebrated the ruling against "an anti-voter measure that raised barriers to voting with specific impacts on elderly voters, voters with disabilities, students, and communities of color."

"State legislatures everywhere should recognize that anti-voter laws like SB 90 violate the fundamental rights of their constituents," said the LWV's Chief Counsel, adding: "We call on legislatures around the country to stop making laws that impede the rights of the people they are elected to protect and serve."

Naturally, Florida Republicans say they intend to appeal, and many think that our right-leaning federal appeals courts and/or our corrupt U.S. Supreme Court will overturn Judge Walker's landmark ruling. For now, however, it's a critical one that should be echoed against many of the intentionally discriminatory laws that have been adopted by GOP-controlled states over the past year.

We explain what it all means and why it matters on today's program.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us again for our latest Green News Report, recorded today before Biden's big White House announcement (though we anticipated it). We also detail Europe prepares for energy shortages, Poland's decision to ban Russian energy imports and much more, including a major milestone for solar power!...

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Guest: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern of Slate; Also: Major new study confirms Ivermectin ineffective as COVID treatment...
By Brad Friedman on 3/30/2022 7:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast, one of our favorite guests is back to explain why the wildly corrupt Thomases, as horrible as they are, may be one of the least of our concerns when it comes to what the rest of the GOP's wildly corrupt --- not to mention stolen and packed --- U.S. Supreme Court may now be moving toward.[Audio link to full, must-listen show is posted below.]

First up, however, a major new, peer-reviewed, double-blind study released in full today, finds what many have been trying to make clear for quite some time: There is no legitimate evidence that the anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin, most commonly used to de-worm horses, has any positive effect as a treatment for COVID.

In fact, as one part of the huge new Brazilian study found, placebo pills were actually more effective than Ivermectin! Dr. Andrew Hill, a virologist at the University of Liverpool in England, whose early analysis (since retracted) of several smaller studies (at least one of which appears to have been fraudulent) was frequently cited for evidence of the drug's effectiveness, appears now to concur that the new Brazilian study pretty much removes all doubt. Ivermectin is of no use in treating COVID. We now have a pretty large body of evidence demonstrating that is true no matter what clownish TV doctors and profiteers and misinformation specialists on Fox "News" or Joe Rogan's podcast have to say about it.

That said, there are safe and effective (and free) ways to avoid the worst effects of COVID, which peer-reviewed studies have confirmed. They include the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. Actual professional virologists, epidemiologists and both the CDC and FDA strongly recommend them, as do we. Earlier this week the FDA authorized a second booster shot for anyone over 50 who hasn't received a shot in the past four months. Please get one and let's end this goddamn pandemic once and for all. Thanks.

On to our main topic(s) today, as we're joined by the always great, always illuminating, and pretty much always-right-about-everything MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist from Slate.com who smartly covers the law, the court system, the U.S. Supreme Court, election law, LGBTQ issues and much more.

We've got just a few things to discuss with Stern today, including the ridiculous Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings last week for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Joe Biden's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, where she would be its first black female Justice. On Wednesday, it was actually news for some reason that one Senate Republican has announced she will vote for Jackson's confirmation. But, beyond the childish stupidity of Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee last week falsely suggesting that Jackson is somehow in favor of child porn and terrorists, there was something else far more disturbing that emerged from the GOP questioning of Biden's highly qualified nominee.

In short: Republicans aren't just targeting Roe v. Wade's well-established right to an abortion (which the Supreme Court is very likely to overturn within the next few months), but they actually appear to be gunning to reverse a whole bunch of landmark, privacy-related rights, including Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark 2015 ruling establishing a Constitutional right to same sex marriage equality. But that's not all. Also now in their sites for reversal are Griswold v. Connecticut (1965, establishing the right for married couples to buy and use contraceptives) and, yes, even Loving v. Virginia (1967's landmark civil rights decision establishing the right to interracial marriage)!

Think these concerns are exaggerated? That Republicans aren't actually gunning for those federal rights as well? Tune in and find out if you're wrong.

Also, as we discuss, Stern now believes it is unlikely that Republicans will ever vote to confirm another Supreme Court Justice nominated by a Democratic President if they regain majority control of the Senate. He further believes they will stop confirming the President's nominees for any judgeship on the federal bench.

"It is very clear now that Republicans begin from the position that Democratic Presidents have no authority and no right to appoint Supreme Court Justices, or to appoint lower court judges. This is following a longstanding pattern in the Senate of Republicans almost uniformly --- or all uniformly --- voting against nominees to the lower court, including many who are super-qualified and uncontroversial," Stern observes. "We have swung back and forth between close confirmation votes and big overwhelming lopsided confirmation votes, but I fear that this is how it will be forevermore."

While those issues would be more than enough to fill an entire interview, it's not even half of what we cover with Stern today, including his thoughts on the wildly corrupt longtime rightwing activist Ginni Thomas and her husband, the wildly corrupt longtime rightwing activist Justice Clarence Thomas. The conversation follows on last week's explosive revelations that Ginni was relentlessly texting Donald Trump's Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in November of 2020, urging him to fight to reverse the results of Joe Biden's election victory, in hopes of overturning American democracy itself.

Given that Clarence was the only vote on the High Court in favor of blocking subpoenaed documents from the Trump White House, which might have included emails and text from Ginni, from being turned over by the National Archives to the U.S. House January 6 Committee, Stern believes this matter is now like nothing we have ever seen at SCOTUS.

"This may feel like the latest in a long line of atrocious conflicts of interest and injustices that Clarence and Ginni Thomas have inflicted on the country, but it is materially different, because we have never before seen a case where Clarence Thomas' vote so directly implicates his wife's work," Stern argues. After I note another such case --- where Ginni received hundreds of thousands of dollars in dark money for her so-called non-partisan non-profits following Clarence's vote in the 2010 Citizens United case (after that very same group, Citizens United, had quietly spent hundreds of thousands to help push through Clarence's controversial confirmation in 1991!), Stern notes that it "looks to the world, quite reasonably, like a husband trying to shield his wife from legal scrutiny. I think that is a huge leap forward in this story. This is different in kind, not just degree." He adds: "I think it's helpful to draw this distinction between votes that benefit a spouse and votes that shield them from a criminal probe."

So what should be done about the Thomases? Tune in for Stern's thoughts (and mine!) for a very lively conversation on that.

But wait, there's more! You may have heard about last week's outrageous "shadow docket" decision by the Court that put on hold a ruling by Wisconsin's Supreme Court, including the opinion written by one of its leading conservative justices, finding that Democratic Governor Tony Evers' new map for state legislative seats in the Badger State should be used in this year's redistricting, following the 2020 Census. The GOP's corrupt SCOTUS, however, feels otherwise, even though Evers' map was closer to the state's previous (and wildly gerrymandered) one than the map pushed by the state's far-right gerrymandered state legislature. To make the matter even more absurd, the High Court completely ignored its own entirely made up and opportunistically used "Purcell Principle", which is supposedly meant to prevent last minutes changes to laws that might throw elections into chaos. In this case, since Wisconsin's Supreme Court and Democratic Governor both agreed that a new black majority district was needed in Milwaukee, the rightwingers on SCOTUS decided they'd never heard of Purcell or, apparently, the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

If you're flummoxed about all of this based on the above explanation, you're not alone. Tune in, as Stern tries, as usual, to help us make sense of the senselessness now coming out of a U.S. Supreme Court that is on the verge of losing whatever shred of legitimacy it may have had left at this point...

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Guest: Amy Slipowitz of Freedom House; Also: Keeping up with the wildly corrupt Clarence and Ginni Thomas; Some good news for EVs in the U.S....
By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2022 7:08pm PT  

I don't think "freedom" means what many on the Right in this country seem to think it means. Our guest on The BradCast today, an expert in such things, seems to agree. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

First up, Lord Manchin has spoken! We'll soon learn if Lady Sinema agrees. But, for now at least, West Virginia's Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is not taking the bait from Republicans this time around. He says he will be be voting in favor of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Joe Biden's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, after a week in which she was flogged by all sorts of stuff and nonsense from an increasingly ridiculous, pathetic and extreme Republican caucus in the U.S. Senate. We don't yet know if the other obstructionist Democratic Senator, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, agrees, but if so --- and presuming all 50 Democratic Senators stay healthy between now and the time they hold a vote to confirm Judge Jackson --- we should have our first black female Supreme Court Justice on the High Court very soon.

But, speaking of both corruption and the Supreme Court, its longest-serving and arguably most corrupt Justice (though there's much competition here), Clarence Thomas has reportedly been discharged from the hospital after a week of treatment for a still unspecified "infection". After waiting two days to report that he'd been admitted in the first place last Friday, the Court said on Sunday that the 73-year old Thomas would be out of the hospital after receiving intravenous antibiotics for his "flu-like symptoms" by Tuesday. But after Wednesday and Thursday happened without any updates on his condition or whereabouts, we are told he was finally released on Friday, though no more information was provided on either his condition or his ailment.

That news comes a day after his similarly corrupt, far-right activist wife Ginni Thomas made headlines again on Thursday, when news of a series of insane text messages she sent to then White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was made public on Thursday afternoon. The messages Ginni sent to Meadows in November of 2020 included loony conspiracy theories claiming the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump and instructed Meadows to fight to overturn the results finding that Joe Biden had won.

And all of that was going on even as Ginni's husband Clarence was voting (thankfully) in the minority on the Court in favor of Trump's various dumb challenges to the results of the election he lost, and for attempts to block things like lawful Congressional subpoenas, which would include Ginni's messages to Meadows, from being shared with the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6th 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Of course, Clarence, who has been trying to hide both his and his wife's corruption for decades now, never recused himself from any of those cases, despite the outrageous conflicts of interest caused by his far-right activist wife. Luckily for them both, they are Republicans. So his corruption on the bench will likely be allowed to continue.

But, It is that sort of corruption and much more from the unapologetic Rightwing in this country --- as opposed to a lack of "freedom" to go maskless during the worst pandemic in a century --- that has helped precipitate the United States' fall in the annual Freedom House ranking on the condition of political rights and civil liberties in nations across the globe.

The non-partisan group's 2022 report is titled "The Global Expansion of Authoritarian Rule." It follows on last year's, titled "Democracy Under Siege," which we discussed at the time of its release on this show with one of its co-authors. In both, the U.S. no longer even cracks the top 50 most "Free" countries anymore, based on the 25 indicators measured by the group of international experts who work with Freedom House, which, founded in 1941, describes itself as "the oldest American organization devoted to the support and defense of democracy around the world."

After 16 consecutive years now of what Freedom House warns to be a "decline in global freedom," in which democracies are becoming less democratic and authoritarianism continues to rise across the globe, the U.S. now ranks at about 63rd on the list. It's tied with nations like South Korea, Romania and Panama, and and comes in just behind nations like Argentina, Mongolia, Croatia and Latvia on their Freedom House's index. We are now far behind Slovenia and the Czech Republic and, according to this year's report, have nowhere near the Freedoms available in nations such as Taiwan, Estonia or Chile, much less Australia, Switzerland, Japan, Uruguay, the Netherlands, Canada and New Zealand. For the record, the nations tied for the most "Free" in the world: Norway, Finland and Sweden.

Our guest today is AMY SLIPOWITZ, Freedom House Research Manager and co-author of their flagship annual report. Our conversation includes the methodologies used in compiling the group's findings and how they define what "freedom" actually is. "It's pretty simple," she explains. "To us, freedom means democracy, a governing system based on the will and consent of the governed. It has institutions that are accountable to all citizens. These include things like an independent judiciary, free media, and strong civil society. And ultimately, a democracy is the best system for ensuring that everyone's human rights are respected, no matter who they voted for."

What are the key differences between this year's reports and last year's? "The main driver that we found for the decline in 2021 was that autocrats are increasingly cooperating and supporting each other in their attacks on democratic norms and institutions," Slipowitz asserts. "And with this, authoritarians have made really enormous gains in the international system. So they've been able to use that influence to promote autocracy as a viable alternative to democracy. The cooperation isn't based on any unifying ideology, or even friendship or affinity among authoritarians, but on a single shared interest, which is to stay in power by any means necessary."

"A key part of this is trying to transform the international system, where the rules-based international order no longer applies," she adds. "So that's where you see authoritarian regimes causing conflict and other really egregious abuses. We've seen this manifest with things like more military coups, more elections with pre-determined outcomes, power grabs. To give just a couple of examples, military coups happened in five countries this year. This was more common in 2021 than in any year of the past decade."

Among the related issues discussed with Slipowitz: What are the greatest factors in the slow decline of freedom and democracy across the globe over the past 15 years and the sudden plunge in freedom seen in 2020? Why is the U.S. now ranked so low on the Freedom House index, near the bottom of its index of "Free" nations? How much of a factor was the January 6th insurrection last year and new restrictions on voting in the U.S. in their determination? Does the rest of the world still consider the U.S. to be a "beacon of freedom" worth following and emulating? How do mask and vaccine mandates amid the COVID pandemic, dramatically cited by many on the Right as the death of personal freedom, play into this year's ratings? How about the banning of books and the teaching of subjects such as systemic racism and sexuality? And, have we seen a similar years-long decline in global democracy and rise of authoritarianism at any other time in recent history?

"It's much easier to dismantle democratic systems than it is to build them back up," Slipowitz warns. "For the U.S. to recover from this 11-point decline over ten years, it's really important that the more structural issues be strengthened and fixed." All of that and much more during our enlightening --- and occasionally chilling --- conversation.

Finally today, some quick coverage of several good(ish) news stories we had hoped to cover yesterday, but had to dump at the last minute, thanks to the breaking news of the wildly corrupt Thomas clan. Among those stories: the rise in gas prices due to Big Oil profiteering and Russia's war in Ukraine is leading to a huge increase among American car buyers interest in battery-powered electric vehicles and hybrids; Emerging evidence that the Biden Administration may considering use of the Defense Production Act to build electric heat pumps here in the U.S. to help replace some 75 million oil and gas furnaces in Europe, currently dependent on Russian gas (as we discussed recently with climate journalist and activist Bill McKibben); And a doubling of the number of battery-powered electric delivery trucks being ordered by the U.S. Postal Service and its corrupt Postmaster, Louis DeJoy. (That still only amounts to a bare one-fifth of the new trucks being ordered at the moment to replace the aging, gas-guzzling USPS fleet...but we're still working on it!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pence finally calls out Trump, Trump pushes back, RNC censures two of its own...while economy sizzles, corporate media fail to notice and blame Biden for nation's woes. Callers ring in to explain...
By Brad Friedman on 2/7/2022 6:35pm PT  

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

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

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

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Drop Box voting restored in WI (for now); Excellent redistricting news in AL (unless appealed); 'Calming down' in Ukraine; Bad news for key Jan. 6th instigators Alex Jones and John Eastman; And more!...
By Brad Friedman on 1/25/2022 6:20pm PT  

We'd love to tout all of the encouraging news we have for you on today's BradCast. We have quite a bit of it. Problem is, while we have a lot of it, each story is largely just marginally encouraging in and of itself. Still, these days, we'll take what we can get! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

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

  • An appeals court in Wisconsin unanimously blocks a wingnut lower court judge's ruling from a few weeks ago that had declared the use of absentee ballot drop boxes to be in violation of state law, despite the many years that they've been in use. Who knew? So, good news that the judge was overturned for now. Bad news that the appellate court order only applies for now to the state's upcoming February primary elections.
  • Seemingly encouraging news out of Alabama today --- perhaps the only unqualified good news we've got to share with you all day, in fact! A three-judge federal court panel --- including two Trump appointees --- have rejected the state GOP's newly redistricted U.S. House map, declaring it to be an unlawful racial gerrymander in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act. The court's ruling, if it withstands appeal, would require the Republican-majority state legislature to draw two Black majority districts instead of one. That, in a state with a 27% Black electorate, represented for years by 6 Republican White men and 1 African-American Representative.
  • While the U.S. (and EU and NATO) continue their warnings of an "IMMINENT INVASION!" of Ukraine by Russia, Ukrainian officials have a message for the world: Please calm the fuck down! (Though please keep sending those weapons in the mean time.)
  • Oh, look! Wingnut radio conspiracy theorist, professional grifter, Donald Trump buddy, and key instigator of the deadly January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, Alex Jones, quietly sat down this week for questioning with the U.S. House Select Committee investigating Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election. That, even though Jones had previous filed a lawsuit to quash his subpoena from the Committee. Apparently, he pleaded the Fifth "almost 100 times" for some reason in the bargain, he says.
  • And, speaking of pleading the Fifth, (former?) law professor John Eastman, who wrote the memos detailing a plot for how then Vice President Mike Pence could "legally" steal the election for Trump by refusing to accept lawfully certified 2020 Electoral College votes on January 6th, also chose to avoid self-incrimination in criminal matters by invoking the privilege when he testified recently to the Committee. As of a court hearing on Monday, we now know he did so 146 times! That, according to details proffered during the hearing for a suit in which Eastman is suing his former employer, Chapman University. He is hoping to prevent them from releasing 19,000 of his emails subpoenaed by the House Select Committee and written from his university email address while working for free for Trump (unbeknownst to the non-partisan university, which eventually fired him for doing so.) The judge in the case is reportedly not happy with Eastman, and has ordered him to make a list of which of the 19,000 subpoenaed emails he believes should be withheld from the Committee due to attorney-client privilege.
  • Meanwhile, it continues to be a lousy time to be associated with our disgraced, twice-impeached loser of a former President. Even for a coal lobbyist. Democrats in the Virginia state Senate say they are now united in their hopes of blocking the new GOP Governor Glenn Youngkin's nomination of former Trump EPA Administrator (and coal lobbyist!) Andrew Wheeler for the commonwealth's top environmental official. SAD! That, after 150 former EPA employees signed a letter to the state Senators accusing Wheeler of having "pursued an extremist approach, methodically weakening EPA’s ability to protect public health and the environment, instead favoring polluters." (Though because the state Senate Dems haven't yet taken the very rare step of blocking the new Guv's nominee, the news is still to be considered marginally good for the moment.)
  • Finally, while it should be very good news that we are sharing our 1,200th Green News Report today --- coincidentally in the same week that The BRAD BLOG is celebrating our 18th birthday --- the fact that we've had to do 1,200 GNRs (instead of saving humanity and the entire planet about 800 episodes ago) makes the good news only marginal as well. As usual, the content of today's report doesn't help much either...though even there, we've got a bit of marginally encouraging news for ya.

You're welcome!...

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Also: In vote of historic shame, Manchin and Sinema join Senate Republicans to undermine voting rights and American democracy...
By Brad Friedman on 1/20/2022 5:50pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: While this week will be seen by history as a shameful one for American democracy --- or, more specifically, for 50 Republican Senators and 2 Democratic ones --- it may also eventually become a celebrated week for all of the encouraging criminal accountability news that is now coming in on what seems like an hourly basis for our disgraced and failed former President. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the many stories covered today...

  • After a year-long kabuki drama, played out only for the benefit of obstructionist Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), both have decided to include themselves in American history's hall of shame by siding with segregationists, anti-democracy activists and Republican authoritarians in the U.S. Senate to block much-needed protection for voting rights and American democracy. While claiming to support the critical, combined Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act --- which would have helped to standardize voting rights for all, combat the GOP subversion of election results, ended dark money in campaigns, blocked partisan gerrymandering in all 50 states and restored what SCOTUS broke in the Voting Rights Act in 2013 --- the two both voted to ensure none of it could happen. They chose to embrace the Senate's undemocratic filibuster rule instead, just as opponents of civil and voting rights have done over decades of American history. We put a bow on the year-long saga today, share parts of Wednesday night's maddening debate, and join Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) in his vow from the Senate floor to keep coming back "again and again and again" until the job of protecting and saving American democracy is won.
  • In far less grim news today, the very very bad week for the Trump Crime Family continues to worsen. After Wednesday's devastating loss at his own packed and stolen U.S. Supreme Court, documents from the Trump White House regarding January 6, 2021 have reportedly begun flowing from the National Archives to the bi-partisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol and Donald Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election. We review a few interesting points of note from the High Court's crushing 8 to 1 ruling [PDF] rejecting Trump's claim of Executive Privilege in his failed effort to block the release of thousands of documents to the Committee, including what could be some very incriminating video tape.
  • With hopes of hiding behind Executive Privilege all but dashed by SCOTUS, the ability of Trump's henchmen to avoid subpoenas for documents and testimony by the Jan 6 Committee is quickly fading as well. On Thursday, Ivanka Trump became the first family member to receive an invitation --- not yet a subpoena --- from the House Committee to answer a number of key questions about her role in January 6th, and her various reported contacts with her father that day and in the days prior. The letter from Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) makes clear that the Committee already has a great deal of information. It will be tricky for Trump's daughter, who served as a White House advisor, to avoid speaking with them. It will be a crime if she lies to them.
  • But that's not all. After New York State Attorney General Letitia James detailed evidence of years of bank, insurance and tax fraud by the Trump family this week, on Thursday, Trump's bad week became still worse. Fulton County (Atlanta) District Attorney Fani Willis asked a state Superior Court Chief Judge today to impanel a special grand jury in her nearly year-long probe of the apparent criminal conspiracy by Trump and many others (including WH Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Rudy Giuliani and more) to harangue, harass and threaten state election officials into reversing results of the Peach State's 2020 Presidential election, won by Joe Biden, in favor of Trump. Willis has said she will decide in the first part of this year whether or not criminal indictments are warranted for "potential violations of Georgia law prohibiting the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local government bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election’s administration.” Uh, oh.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, covering the likelihood that Biden's Build Back Better bill, also blocked by Joe Manchin, will now have to be broken up into smaller chunks; the devastating volcano and tsunami disasters in Tonga; smashed heat records in the Southern Hemisphere; and Exxon's new ploy to pretend they give a damn about climate change...

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Guest: Eric Boehlert of Press Run; Also: SCOTUS allows Nat'l Archives to release Trump Jan. 6 records to House; NY A.G. details 'fraud' by Trump family; Fox Nation gets a historian's hilarious 'hard no'...
By Brad Friedman on 1/19/2022 6:21pm PT  

Joe Biden is now one year in. Donald Trump is now one year out. Have the media figured out how to properly cover either or both of them? We discuss on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But first, Trump's troubles are getting worse by the day hour. It's been a bad 24 hours for the disgraced, twice-impeached, one-term former President. But that's usually good news for America!

As we literally begin today's program, news breaks that the U.S. Supreme Court is allowing the National Archive to turn over hundreds of pages of Trump White House documents to the bipartisan U.S. House Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol and Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election.

That bad news for Trump (and good news for everyone else) follows last night's bad news for him (and good news for us) out of a New York state courtroom. NY Attorney General Letitia James has been investigating years of apparent bank, insurance and tax fraud by Trump, the Trump Organization, and Trump's children for years. She recently subpoenaed Trump and his kids Ivanka and Don Jr. to sit for depositions in her civil probe. (She is also working with the Manhattan D.A.'s long-running criminal probe into related matters.) Trump and the kids sued to quash the subpoena and, late on Tuesday night, James' office filed documents in response, detailing what she describes in the court papers as "significant additional evidence indicating that the Trump Organization used fraudulent or misleading asset valuations to obtain a host of economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions.”

We discuss some of that "significant additional evidence" today, along with the additional news that when Eric Trump, back in 2020, failed to quash his own subpoena, he subsequently "then invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in response to more than 500 questions over six hours.” That's his right, of course. But back in 2016, while running for President, Trump described pleading the Fifth as "disgraceful". "The mob takes the Fifth," he said at the time. "If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?" We'll see if he, Ivanka and Don Jr., soon join his "disgraceful" son Eric in doing the same, along with the Trump Organization's "disgraceful" Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, who's already been criminally charged with fraud in Manhattan after also pleading the Fifth more than 500 times as well during his own deposition with James.

And then there's the new guy in the White House, who doesn't seem to be criminal or a liar or a fraudster at all. Today marked the end of Joe Biden's first year in office. It's been a rocky one at times, but also extraordinary successful on a number of legislative and economic issues.

We're joined today by ERIC BOEHLERT, longtime media analyst and publisher of the Press Run newsletter, to discuss media coverage of Biden at the one year mark, and how it compares to coverage of Trump's first --- and subsequent --- years in office.

While Biden's approval numbers have been flagging in recent months --- Gallup pegs his one year average at just under 49% --- they are still above Trump's during his entire Presidency. Nonetheless, we saw little from the media declaring Trump's Presidency was over or a failure at the end of his first year, by way of contrast with what we see from the media now, despite several remarkable successes for Biden over the last 365 days.

"It's very similar to Obama," Boehlert asserts. "If you go back and looked at his first year, first term, 'Oh his coalitions are falling apart!' Lots of doomsday coverage for Obama that turned out to be nonsense." He later adds, "Good luck going back and finding stories about whether the Trump Presidency was failed, 'How does he reset?,'" after his first year. "There was an acceptance that Trump was going to poll in the thirties, and the press just went on from there. In terms of how the coverage differs from Biden and Trump, I think that's the key one there."

Suffice to say, the difference in coverage of each President, as Boehlert details, is stark. And not in a good way. Among the other related issues discussed, above and beyond media coverage of the two Presidents: Has the media come to fully understand, much less appreciate, the unprecedented nature of this tenuous moment for American democracy itself?

"We have two sides," Boehlert explains. "A center-left Democrat doing his best, and we have a Republican Party that wants to destroy free and fair elections in America. So if you're the press, don't play that down the middle. Don't pretend those are similar choices."

"When Trump was inaugurated, the press didn't change how it covered Trump," he observes. "You would read the coverage and think Jeb Bush was President, you would think John McCain was President. You would think this is center-right, normal, traditional....not this madman narcissist. I think with the Biden era, they just want to play this game --- 'His polling is down! We've found some Democrats who are critical of him!' These aren't the times for the norm. The Trump years weren't the time for the norm. And we're not seeing drastic change." And that failure by our corporate media is not a good sign for the nation. Or the planet.

Finally today, it appears that Fox "News" is not satisfied by simply rewriting reality in the present. They are now attempting to rewrite history itself, it seems, as far as who actually killed Abraham Lincoln. Seriously. In the bargain, a Lincoln assassination expert's response to an invitation to appear on Fox Nation (the propaganda streaming service companion to the propaganda cable news channel) to discuss it, is one for the ages!...

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Guest: Brennan Center's Michael Li; Also: AZ County finds no 2020 voter fraud; TX counties rejecting absentee applications under new law; Giuliani, other Trump fraudsters subpoenaed by House Jan. 6 Committee...
By Brad Friedman on 1/18/2022 6:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The ongoing GOP effort to undermine American democracy by making it harder to vote and easier to cheat in elections continues amid the fallout from Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election. While you might think Republicans would pay a price for joining him in that effort, its Democrats --- and voters in general and American democracy itself --- paying the price, even as the Big Lie continues to fall further apart with each passing day. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

As you know, Republicans have been using false claims of massive (and, apparently, evidence-free) "voter fraud" in the 2020 election as a pretext to adopt new voter suppression and election subversion laws in GOP controlled states. The fruits of those corrupt efforts are already paying off. In Texas, for example, County Clerks across the state are reporting that the state's new anti-voting law, S.B.1, is forcing them to reject hundreds of legitimate absent ballot applications in one of the most difficult states in the nation to vote by mail already.

New I.D. requirements for ballot applications have resulted in rejections of nearly half of the absentee applications in Travis County, home to the state's capital of Austin. Worse, the state's Secretary of State has yet to issue rules for how County Clerks may legally notify or help the rejected voters to cure their applications in advance of the state's March mid-term primaries. (The application deadline is Feb. 18.)

Many of the rejected applications are from voters that have been voting by mail for years. But the new state law now requires applicants to include either a drivers license number or state I.D. number or the last four digits of their Social Security number on the application. While some don't notice the new requirement and are rejected on that basis, others do include one of those numbers, but are still being rejected! Why? As Democrats had warned when trying to block the bill, the TX law now requires that whichever number a voter uses on their application must match the number on their voter registration form, many of them completed years ago. If the voter includes a drivers license number on their application, for example, but their registration includes a State I.D. number instead --- or no number at all (as is the case with millions of voter registrations in the Lone Star State) --- their applications must now be rejected. Mission accomplished?

Meanwhile, the GOP's Big "voter fraud" Lie continues to fall apart in Arizona, where Joe Biden has been confirmed many times over to have lawfully defeated Trump in 2020. On Friday, in the second largest county in the state, Pima (home to Tucson), the Pima County Attorney's Office determined that, of the 151 cases referred to them as possible cases of voter fraud after 2020, ZERO actually merited criminal charges. There remain a handful of possible fraud cases elsewhere in a the state (less than 50). But, of course, if all known cases of possible fraud in Arizona turned out to be actual fraud and all of those votes were somehow in favor of Biden, there still wouldn't be nearly enough fraudulent ballots to reverse his 10,000+ vote victory out of about 3.2 million ballots cast in the state. Nonetheless, in AZ as well, Republicans are using their lies about "voter fraud" to make it harder to vote and easier for them to cheat in elections.

But the biggest story on today's BradCast involves gerrymandering, perhaps the most critical reason our federal government and our democracy has become so seemingly irreparably broken. Democrats in the U.S. Senate this week have combined the combined Freedom to Vote Act (which, among many other critical election reforms, makes partisan gerrymandering unlawful in all 50 states) and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (which restores the requirement for federal pre-clearance of new election laws in states with a history of racial discrimination in elections after SCOTUS gutted the landmark provision) into one single bill called the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act. All 50 Democrats in the majority claim to support the newly combined bill. Zero Republicans do. But unless two Democratic Senators (Sinema and Manchin) agree to modify the Senate filibuster rule to allow democracy-saving legislation to be adopted with a simple majority vote, none of it will become law and the GOP efforts to game elections will be largely free and clear through 2022.

For several years, experts have been warning that, following the 2020 Census, the new round of redistricting was going to be very bad for Democrats in GOP-controlled states. That, after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013 and later declared that federal courts may have no say at all on the issue of partisan gerrymandering, But, with about half of the new maps now redrawn by states in advance of the 2022 mid-terms (with several being challenged in state courts), are they as bad as many pundits had foretold?

A number of redistricting experts of late have suggested that the new maps aren't nearly as bad for Dems as they might have been. But is that true? We're joined today by Brennan Center's Senior Counsel for its Democracy Program, MICHAEL LI, who serves as the non-partisan organization's redistricting expert.

Last week, in an op-ed for Washington Post, Li describes the notion that gerrymandering hasn't been too bad for Democrats this year as a "misleading narrative" for a host of reasons. Experts, he notes, had predicted a bunch of safe Democratic seats would be remapped into Republican districts. "They expected Democratic seats to fall," Li explains. "But instead, what Republicans are doing is shoring up the disproportionate advantages they already hold" following the extreme partisan gerrymanders from 2011.

"In Texas, under the old maps, Democrats have 36% of the seats. Under the new maps they have 37% of the seats, so very little change," he tells me by way of just one example. "But the competition is gone. So whereas under the old maps there were competitive districts, under the new maps, even if Democrats got 58% of the vote [across the state], they would still have the same 37% of the seats, which hardly seems fair. Even if Texas turned deep blue, Republicans would have almost a 2-to-1 advantage. That's the perniciousness of the state's gerrymander."

There are other examples, in North Carolina for instance, where the maps are currently being challenged in state courts. We also discuss how the Supreme Court's unwillingness to hear partisan gerrymandering cases has affected all of this and whether or not the Court will similarly begin to turn away racial gerrymander cases as well in the not too distant future.

Li goes on to explain why the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act --- if Republicans or Manchinema were to allow it to be passed into law --- "would be a game-changer" on this issue. It "would transform redistricting. There would be a ban against partisan gerrymandering in Congressional redistricting. It would be easy to calculate and figure out whether a map violates that and, if a map does, then it's blocked from use pretty automatically, perhaps even in time for 2022 if Congress were to pass it soon."

But, alas, unless there are some surprises in the Senate this week, the bill is unlikely to pass anytime soon. So, what's left? Should Democratic-controlled states, in order to save democracy itself before the 2024 elections, gerrymander their own maps as aggressively as Republicans have? As much as it pains me to do so, I have previously argued that they should. Does Li agree? Tune in to find out!

Finally, before we go, the mid-show breaking news that Rudy Giuliani and a number of others who were very close to the disgraced former President as he was attempting to steal the 2020 election have now been subpoenaed by the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol...

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Also: A history lesson for Manchin; And Biden finally calls for Senate filibuster reform to pass voting rights and election protection legislation...
By Brad Friedman on 1/11/2022 6:47pm PT  

As it turns out, it wasn't an attack from highly skilled opposition mercenary warriors trained in the art of espionage, deception and surprise attacks that took down the Cyber Ninjas. It was their own incompetence, dishonesty and hopes of escaping huge court fines for failing to follow the rule of law that appears to have done them in. Or, perhaps they're just in hiding, ready to pounce again when they are least expected! [Audio link to full show is posted at bottom of this summary.]

First up on today's BradCast, however, before we get to the "death" of the Ninjas and their ongoing clown show, President Biden and Vice President Harris traveled to Atlanta on Tuesday to call for U.S. Senate filibuster reform in order to pass voting rights and election protection legislation with a simple majority. That, in hopes of countering voter suppression and election subversion measures being adopted by GOP controlled states across the nation.

All 50 Senators who caucus with the Democrats (plus Vice President Harris) are on record in support of the critical Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. But in the U.S. Senate, while that simple majority vote may be enough to cut taxes or allow drilling and mining on previously protected federal lands or seat Supreme Court Justices for life, it's currently not enough votes to protect American democracy. Not with the Republican Party now fully in opposition to both voting rights and democracy while Senate rules require a 60-vote super-majority to pass both pieces of legislation.

As Biden pointed out in his remarks today --- for the first time, offering a full-throated call to reform the Senate rules --- the united GOP opposition to voting rights is fairly new. Until recently, even Republicans voted in support of expanding and protecting voting rights at the federal level --- at least enough of them to overcome a Senate filibuster. But not anymore. At the same time, obstructionist Democrats Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) have refused to allow the majority to create a carve-out to the filibuster --- akin to hundreds of others in the Senate --- to adopt the legislation that both of them claim to support.

This week, Manchin even went so far as to describe the filibuster to reporters as a critical Senate tradition that has been in place "for 232 years." In fact, the filibuster as we now know it has been in place since 1975, as historian Max Kennerly explained on a Twitter thread in response to Manchin. "232 years ago, in 1790, a simple majority could end any debate," he notes. And Adam Jentleson, Harry Reid's former Chief of Staff who wrote a book on the filibuster, went so far as to alert Manchin to how much the Constitution's framers virulently opposed a super-majority requirement for anything at all, quoting both "father of the Constitution" James Madison and Alexander Hamilton from The Federalist Papers. (Which is why there is no such requirement in the Constitution.)

"Sadly, the United States Senate — designed to be the world's greatest deliberative body — has been rendered a shell of its former self," Biden, a former six-term Senator, declared in his impassioned remarks on Tuesday, describing the filibuster as having been "weaponized and abused."

Whether the Biden/Harris calls in Atlanta for reform will have any effect on the clueless Manchin and the similarly disinformed or dishonest Sinema remains to be seen. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer continues to insist that "failure is not an option", vowing a series of votes on the matter between now and Monday's Martin Luther King Day holiday.

Meanwhile, the GOP fight against election integrity may have hit a few embarrassing snags after their infamously failed "post-election forensic audit" in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona last year. As you already know, the state GOP Senate's taxpayer funded audit theater found no Chinese bamboo in the County's 2.1 million hand-marked paper ballots, but it did declare that Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump by even more votes than originally certified. And if you follow The BradCast, you also may know that real election audit experts discovered that even those numbers were apparently "made up out of whole cloth" by the Ninjas, whose actual count of the ballots (never mind the results on them) was off by tens of thousands.

The final report that the Ninjas and its CEO Doug Logan produced last year on behalf of the GOP State Senate, also included 77 claims of "possible" fraud in the County's reported tallies and other questions to raise alarms about the legitimacy of tens of thousands of "maybe" illegal votes.

As it turns out, however, according to a 93-page, point-by-point rebuttal [PDF] of each of those claims, released last week by the Republican-majority Maricopa County Board of Supervisors after months of investigation, 76 of the Ninjas' 77 claims were completely wrong.

For example, according to the Ninjas' final audit report, 5,295 voters "potentially voted in multiple counties" in Arizona. The county found, however, that, in reality, just 5 voters may have done so. (They've forwarded their findings to the state AG). The Arizona Republic's Jen Fifield offers a helpful, detailed summary of most of the key rebuttals from the County, explaining how the Ninjas got it so embarrassingly wrong on virtually every "misleading, inaccurate and false" score.

The County's response to the Ninjas' pathetic report was mostly lost, however, amid the news the next day that the Cyber Ninjas were claiming to be no more. A spokesperson announced that they had shut their doors and all employees, including founder and CEO Logan, had been let go, following a contempt ruling from an Arizona Superior Court Judge. He found that failure by the Ninjas to turn over thousands of pages of public records documenting their "audit", its financing, and their communications with officials about it in two separate lawsuits violated the law. The plaintiffs sought a $1,000/day penalty until the documents were turned over. The judge informed the Ninjas they would be fined $50,000/day instead! They then declared they no longer existed, like a ninja disappearing into the night! Except they are really shitty ninjas.

The judge has stated that their claims at insolvency in an attempt to shut down to avoid the court fines was not going to work, threatening to apply the $50,000 daily fine to individuals with the company, like "former" CEO Logan. As it turns out, Logan formed a second company last year named Akolytos, using the same business and mailing addresses as the Cyber Ninjas. But his hopes of escaping the court fines through that second company may not work either, as journalist Kim Zetter details in her latest, excellent Zero Day newsletter. SAD!

Finally, as the Northeast grapples with a brutal cold snap today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, detailing the record warmth of 2021, and the disturbing increase in emissions causing our climate emergency over the past year...

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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