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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, July 6, 2022
Sunday 'Read the Room' Toons
The writing (and much more) is on the wall in PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
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...


Callers respond on Kremlin talking points echoed by some on the Left, and on why Americans support Biden's Ukraine policies while disapproving of his policy on Ukraine. (You read that right.)
By Brad Friedman on 5/2/2022 5:51pm PT  

We had a very lively call-in show today on The BradCast, as we stacked the deck with folks who disagree with me, in response to my calling out those, particularly on the (supposed) Left, for forwarding Kremlin propaganda (including at on our own flagship station, KPFK, here in Los Angeles), over our public airwaves, amid Russia's deadly and grotesque war and war crimes against Ukraine. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Before we get to that and to a bunch of callers on that topic...The midterm primary season gets under way in earnest this week --- with Ohio and Indiana voters holding Election Day tomorrow. So, we've got a few quick words on that, and on the gerrymandered U.S. House District map that Republicans have managed to keep in play this year, even though it was found --- four times to date! --- to be in violation of the Ohio state Constitution by its state Supreme Court. But, as we discussed in detail last week, the GOP's packed federal courts allowed the even more gerrymandered map drawn after 2010 to be used once again in this year's election, as Ohio's GOP-majority Redistricting Commission purposely ran out the clock on drawing new legal maps following the 2020 Census.

Then, it's on to our main topic: Namely, Russia's ongoing military invasion of its sovereign neighbor and the propaganda help Vladimir Putin is getting from some on the far-Left in this country who are lying and/or misinformed about it all. Hopefully, via at least some of the calls from listeners today, we straighten out at least some of what happens to be Kremlin propaganda and what is not.

It remains unclear some on the Left --- who claim to be anti-war (like us), who were critical of the U.S. when we were the empire invading a sovereign nation (as we were) --- are now having such a difficult time condemning Russia for doing the very same thing. Our anti-war position has been both accurate and consistent. As you'll hear on today's program, at least a few of our listeners seem to have a problem with that sort of consistency, choosing to blame the U.S. for Russia's war.

Today's lively conversation also comes as new polling from WaPo/ABC finds huge, bipartisan majorities of Americans support Joe Biden's actions in Ukraine, including his vow to keep American troops out of the conflict, sanctions against Russia; and sending defensive weaponry, humanitarian and economic aid to Ukraine. Despite that, in the very same poll, only a minority of Americans say they support Joe Biden's actions in Ukraine! Ya know, the same ones they previously said in the very same poll that they supported. Seriously. So, what's going on here? We open the phones to callers to try and help us understand that puzzle as well today.

Among the lively calls, several who try to forward more Russia propaganda on Ukraine (it didn't go well), and one who seemed disappointed, oddly enough, that the U.S. was trying to stay out of the direct conflict in hopes of avoiding a nuclear World War III.

As noted...a lively, but also kinda crazy program today with a lot of callers both fun and "fun". So we expect you may enjoy it!...Or you won't...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Political scientist, international relations Prof. Nicholas Grossman of Univ. of IL; Also: EU to embargo Russian oil; USPS sued to block new gas-guzzling truck contract; More bad news for Trump in NY...
By Brad Friedman on 4/29/2022 5:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Putin's war in Ukraine continues, as do fears that it could expand into a nuclear World War III. That has led some on the anti-war Left to demand the U.S. and EU spend more energy pushing for a diplomatic solution rather than sending more deadly arms to Ukraine to help it defend itself. But that, according to our guest today, is a false choice. [Audio link to full show is posted after this summary below.]

First up, after recently cutting off the purchase of coal from Russia, the European Union is reportedly now prepared to embargo oil purchases as well. That's good news for Ukraine, very bad news for Russia, but also potentially bad news for American consumers as the global price of oil is likely to further spike as Big Oil CEOs in the U.S. continue to rake in record profits rather than increase production or lower gas prices at the pump. We discuss.

In not entirely unrelated news, as EarthJustice senior attorney Adrian Martinez vowed on this program back in February, his organization along with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the United Auto Workers (UAW), 16 states and the District of Columbia are now now suing the U.S. Postal Service to block its purchase of nearly 150,000 new gas-guzzling mail delivery trucks. The $11.3 billion contract, carried out by corrupt Donald Trump's corrupt Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, is unlawful on several bases, they argue. Most notably, the USPS failed to do an environmental impact study, in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act, until after inking their deal with Wisconsin defense contractor, Oshkosh Defense, to build the trucks.

The new gas-powered vehicles are designed to get just 8.6 mpg, barely more than the 30-year old trucks they're replacing and, to make matters worse, will be built in a new non-union facility in South Carolina, rather than the company's union shop in Wisconsin. “Once this purchase goes through, we’ll be stuck with more than 100,000 new gas-guzzling vehicles on neighborhood streets for the next 30 years," California's Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement.

The states and the environmental groups --- with the support of the EPA and White House --- are hoping to move the USPS to deploy an all-electric fleet instead. Transportation is the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., and the postal fleet's 217,000 trucks is the largest share of the government's nonmilitary vehicles. Federal regulators estimate the new trucks will emit roughly the same amount of Earth-warming carbon dioxide each year as 4.3 million passenger vehicles.

Next, as Russia regroups in the east and south of Ukraine to prepare their next offensive, we're joined today by NICHOLAS GROSSMAN, international relations professor and political scientist at the University of Illinois. He's also Senior Editor at Arc Digital and author of Drones and Terrorism: Asymmetric Warfare and the Threat to Global Security.

This week, Grossman wrote a piece at The Daily Beast, responding to recent commentary from liberal academic icon and anti-war advocate Noam Chomsky, who is critical of the U.S. and NATO for continuing to supply Ukraine with weapons of war, rather than demand negotiations toward peace. As Chomsky argued, while sympathetic with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's position, increased arming of the beseiged nation fails to "pay attention to the reality of the world," which, without conceding to Russian demands via negotiations, will result in "the destruction of Ukraine and nuclear war."

But Grossman argues that's a false choice and that arming Ukraine is, in fact, at least right now, the best path to peace. "Even just framing it as diplomacy or war is a mistake," Grossman responds today, "in that war and diplomacy are not alternatives that go together. Just about every war ends with some sort of negotiated solution. Ukraine was willing to meet with Russia and did offer some concessions and those weren't enough. But, also, the actions on the ground are in effect a negotiation."

"The way that a lot of political science treats war is to think of it as a bargaining process. You have these two sides, Russia and Ukraine. Russia wants something and Ukraine really doesn't want to give it. And Russia's willing to kill to try to get it, and Ukraine is willing to kill to try to not give it. As long as that's the case, then the two of them don't actually know what they can force the other to accept. And so the war itself, the actual fighting, is to some extent a negotiating process. It is the fighting on the ground that is pushing both sides to figure out what exactly they can force the other one to accept."

"There will be peace," Grossman insists, "but the peace is going to look like many possible different things. One option is a peace where Ukraine is independent. Another option is where Ukraine is subjugated by Russia. Both of those are technically peace. But the Chomsky argument seems to be pushing more for the peace with Ukraine bowing down before Russia. And the problem with that is the Ukrainians don't want to, and there's nothing American can do to make them do it. So the action of 'Hey, we could have this option of getting them to sit down and then work it out and there would be peace, but instead we're not doing that, we're just causing war', just misunderstands that."

"As long as Russia and Ukraine want to fight, they're going to fight, and the United States can't stop that. So our choice is leave the Ukrainians on their own, or help them as they try to fight for independence."

There is, of course, much more to discuss with Grossman, including Chomsky's concerns (and many others'!) that this all leads to the use of nuclear weapons by Russia, as well as his thoughts on those who claim to be anti-war while blaming the U.S. for Russia's aggression. Please tune in for our very insightful and informative discussion today.

Finally, we close with some brighter news. A judge in New York has refused to end the $10,000/day fines levied against Donald Trump earlier this week, after the disgraced former President was found in contempt for failing to adequately respond to document subpoenas from New York state Attorney General Letitia James. Her civil probe into alleged "fraudulent" financial statements by Trump --- inflating or deflating his net worth as part of an alleged years-long bank, tax and insurance fraud scheme by Trump, his company and perhaps his children Ivanka, Don Jr. and Eric --- is continuing toward a potential lawsuit. The Manhattan District Attorney is supposedly reviewing similar matters in consideration of criminal charges. Today, Judge Arthur Engoron denied Trump's motion to purge the contempt ruling (and the daily fines that go with it) after Trump submitted a one-page affidavit claiming he did not have any of the documents sought by James. He failed to explain who did or what he did to search for them.

"Mr. Trump's two-paragraph affidavit adds no useful information to the mix," said James before Engoron's decision today. "Mr. Trump merely states off the top of his head, with no hint that he conducted any type of search, that he has no documents in response to the December 2021 subpoena in his 'personal possession.'"

"It is simply not plausible that Mr. Trump authored only three documents dealing with the value of his assets and his wealth," the state AG wrote. The fines will continue to mount for now, as James' office makes their final determination as to whether or not to formally charge the former President in the coming weeks...

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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Guests: Susan Greenhalgh of Free Speech for People; Ian Patton of Long Beach Reform Coalition; Also: Atrocities in Ukraine, in the U.S. and why protecting democracy remains more important than ever...
By Brad Friedman on 4/4/2022 6:59pm PT  

We all woke up to atrocities on Sunday. In Ukraine and in Sacramento, California. Russian war crimes in Europe and another mass shooting in the U.S. On today's BradCast, we detail the atrocities in both places before turning to the fight for the only thing that still has a chance of stopping them: democracy. But we can't have democracy without voting systems the public can oversee, and that remains a huge problem, even in our own home county of Los Angeles. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, some of the newly revealed, gruesome details and evidence of war crimes allegedly committed by fleeing Russian troops against Ukrainian civilians in newly liberated towns, villages and suburbs outside of Kyiv. Despite being witnessed by independent journalists and catalogued by outside watchdogs like Human Rights Watch, which describes some of the crimes as "unspeakable, deliberate cruelty and violence against Ukrainian citizens," including "rape, murder, and other violent acts," the Russian Government contends the charges are "fake" and little more than "stage-managed anti-Russian provocation." In response on Monday, President Biden reiterated his belief that Vladimir Putin is a "war criminal."

The gruesome body count in the U.S. also continued to mount over the weekend, as another mass shooting, this time in downtown Sacramento, left six dead and more than a dozen injured after "at least fifty rounds" were "fired right into the crowd" with high-powered weaponry during bustling Saturday night revelry, according to an eyewitness. That, just one day after Georgia's legislature passed a new law allowing concealed weapons to be carried pretty much anywhere without the need for a license. They are the 23rd state to do so. Our gun violence epidemic is getting worse, not better, as Republicans refuse to allow any action that might lessen America's shamefully continuing scourge.

But tyranny is not going to defeat itself. Not in Ukraine. Not in the U.S. To that end, we remain vigilant in our efforts to help the public try and oversee this year's critical mid-term elections. Unfortunately, problems with our un-overseeable and unverifiable voting systems continue into yet another election year in so-called "red" and "blue" states alike. While the GOP is actively undermining democracy with new voter suppression laws in "red" states, vulnerable electronic voting and tabulation systems remain a huge problem across the nation.

Back in 2020, Los Angeles County deployed a new, unverifiable touchscreen voting system called "Voting Solutions for All People" (or, VSAP) across the nation's most populous voting jurisdiction. Some ten years in development by the County's Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan, the new touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) failed spectacularly in that year's Super Tuesday Presidential Primary, leading to long lines and questions about the results. The VSAP system had been conditionally certified by the Secretary of State just weeks before their first county-wide use, after state testing discovered about 30 different violations of California Voting System Standards.

The County was required to correct the violations detailed in the Conditional Certification in the months following the election, though they failed to do so in many cases --- for years. Now, the County is seeking state certification of VSAP v3.0 but, according to our guests today, has still failed to correct a number of critical security issues that failed more than two years ago.

We're joined today to discuss these concerns in advance of California's June 7th mid-term primary elections by SUSAN GREENHALGH, Senior Advisor on Election Security at the non-profit Free Speech for People and by IAN PATTON of the Long Beach Reform Coalition (he is also now running for the Long Beach City Council). Both recently wrote a letter [PDF] to California Sec. of State Dr. Shirley Weber, detailing uncorrected security issues in the VSAP system and urging her to force L.A. County to fix them before issuing certification to the newly updated voting and counting system yet again.

We invited L.A. County's Registrar Dean Logan --- the VSAP system is his brainchild --- to join us as well, after his office recently described Greenhalgh's public testimony on her concerns about certification for VSAP 3.0 as "mis- and disinformation". In declining to join us today, Logan once again accused Greenhalgh and Patton of "mis-stating facts" and took a swipe at the election integrity advocates by smearing them as if they were part of Donald Trump's mob of conspiracists offering evidence-free claims of fraud since his loss in 2020. Logan charged the documented concerns detailed in Greenhalgh and Patton's memo to the Secretary "contributes to further the false narrative about elections integrity and transparency that is pervading the country."

For her part, Greenhalgh has been an expert in elections security, integrity and transparency for decades. Patton had represented the Long Beach Reform Coalition in a lawsuit against the VSAP systems long before Trump's 2020 sore loser act, when a ballot initiative in Long Beach failed by just 16 votes. After the Coalition raised tens of thousands of dollars to pay for a recount of that initiative, they were informed by Logan that the price would, in fact, be hundreds of thousands of dollars instead-- to count just a few thousand votes. The reason, as we reported at the time, is that the new VSAP system is deployed at Voting Centers across the County, which have replaced community precincts. That means that Long Beach voters may vote at any Voting Center in the County, where more than 4 million cast ballots in 2020. Logan attempted to charge the Coalition for the hours and hours it would have taken the county to cull through some 4 million ballots (computer-marked by VSAP and hand-marked by mail voters) in order to find the ones cast by Long Beach voters at any of the hundreds of Voting Centers in the County. Of course, this is just another problem with the Voting Center model, particularly in large counties like L.A. The ballot initiative that is said to have passed by 16 votes never did receive a hand recount to make sure the results were accurate.

Greenhalgh details the security vulnerabilities that remain in the VSAP system, despite state requirements that they be corrected by last year. She was also surprised to hear that Logan claimed in his email to us that "the VSAP 3.0 upgrade is over and it has been approved by the Secretary of State."

"I'm disappointed that the Secretary is not taking further action to enforce these requirements, to really require LA County to meet them," she tells us. "Also it hasn't been updated on the website, that it's already been approved. That's not public information yet." We'll just take Logan's word for it, I guess.

For his part, Patton explains the aborted recount effort in Long Beach ("I'm not a conspiracy theorist in any way," he notes. "We have never alleged a rigged election. We were just talking about the facts. The facts are this was an extremely close election, and we were just not allowed to have a hand count."); the fact that L.A.'s $300 million voting system was promised to be the nation's first open source system (but has yet to disclose any of its source code); and whether he feels confident that his election for City Council this year will be accurately tallied under the still-unverifiable and virtually unrecountable new systems.

"We can speak very factually and say that vulnerabilities don't equate to a stolen election," Greenhalgh asserts, before describing Logan's smears as "extremely disheartening." She described the comments as "a new low to hear somebody try to smear and tar real serious questions, real serious issues that need to be addressed. We still have serious security issues in our election systems that need to be fixed. We all need to pull together to fix them. And if we are having election officials refuse to address those problems by dismissing them improperly as mis- and dis-information, there's two problems with that: We're not going to actually fix the problems, but also we have a crisis of confidence in our election system right now. And when somebody in a position of power says something that is pretty easily proven to be false....they're not going to have a lot of confidence in his ability to run an election. And we can't afford that. He needs to be honest."

Logan never did cite any specific claims from Greenhalgh and Patton's concerns that he believed to be misinformation, despite my repeated query. He has a standing invitation to join us on the show any time to do so. Hiding behind false claims by rightwingers of "stolen elections" is unbecoming of a public official, particularly when the very specific concerns in question are legitimate and publicly well-documented.

There is much more discussed about all of this on today's show, and the concerns about similarly unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices now in use across the country, along with the similarly problematic Voting Center model replacing community precincts in other counties and states.

California's primary this year is on June 7th. Cross your fingers that things work out. Good luck even being able to figure out afterward is they did or didn't...

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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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: Prof. Jeffrey Sonnenfeld of Yale School of Management; Also: More climate-fueled disasters in LA, TX; And, where is Clarence Thomas?...
By Brad Friedman on 3/23/2022 6:47pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: If you might otherwise expect a Senior Associate Dean at Yale University's School of Business Management to be a stodgy, rightwing, so-called pro-business conservative, think again. The one joining us today, naming and shaming major international corporations for continuing to do business with Russia even after their barbaric, nearly month-long destruction of Ukraine, is anything but. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But first up today, very quickly, what you need to know about the deadly tornado swarm that slammed Louisiana and Texas overnight. It's just the latest in an increasingly long and violent string of climate change-fueled disasters slamming both states. Desi Doyen explains what climate scientists are learning about changes in tornadic weather as our climate crisis worsens in places like her old home state of Texas which, in recent years, has faced one such costly and deadly disaster after another (as the Republicans who control the state pretend fossil fuels have nothing to do with it.) From hurricanes to flooding to cold snaps that knock out power to the recent drought and wild fires which, at least last night's storms helped, in part, to have quelled a bit for now.

Next: Where is Clarence Thomas? The wildly corrupt U.S. Supreme Court Justice was admitted to the hospital last Friday, though the Court didn't announce it until Sunday, when their statement said he was being treated with intravenous antibiotics for an "infection" and "flu-like symptoms." The Court said on Sunday that the 73-year old Thomas would be out of the hospital by Monday or Tuesday. But, as of Wednesday, the Court had no comment on his whereabouts or his condition. Hmm...That, as Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson faced another ridiculous day of childish questioning from Republicans in her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings to replace Justice Stephen Breyer on the High Court.

Then, we're joined by Yale School of Management's Senior Associate Dean and Professor of Management Practice JEFFREY SONNENFELD for a very lively discussion of the more than 450 American and international corporations that have withdrawn partially or fully from Russia, and the smaller (but still substantive and extremely shameful) number of companies still doing business there during Putin's deadly siege on his sovereign neighbor.

Sonnenfeld and his team of colleagues and researchers at the school began by compiling a list of those companies who had pulled out of Russia shortly after Putin's invasion, and those that had yet to. That "Hall of Shame" list has since gained a great deal of public attention and, he tells us, has both helped to both encourage and shame CEOs into shutting their doors in Russia.

"We just had a session with 70 CEOs --- you're the first to know about this --- major CEOs across the face of American industry, with General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff," Sonnenfeld tells us. "And he did emphasize that they are working off our list. We're humbled by that, but we know that people on Wall Street and the activist community are using it" as well.

Since its initial creation, the list is now broken down into more specific categories, including companies that have announced a full "Withdrawal"; others which merely declared a "Suspension" of operations for now; those that are "Scaling Back" by reducing operations; and the two most pernicious categories of companies that are either "Buying Time" by postponing new investments while continuing substantive business or, worst of all, "Digging In" by defying all demands to leave or even reduce operations there.

While Sonnenfeld notes that the list remains "a moving target", with several companies see their rating changed even as we went to air (the fossil fuel services giant Halliburton was moved from the worst, "Digging In," to the second worst, "Buying Time" today, for example), you'll be delighted to know our friends at the rightwing dark money conglomerate Koch Industries and its crappy paper subsidiaries like Georgia-Pacific, are staying put with Team Fascist Dictator for now.

On the other hand, Sonnenfeld says that he was pleasantly surprised that a number of Big Oil companies, "not usually on the leading edge of social change," pulled out early on. But, he has a thought or two for companies like Dunkin Donuts, Nestle, Mars candy and, yes, the rightwing Koch Industries, which, for its part, says they are staying in Russia for what they describe as the "health, safety and wellbeing of all employees. Leaving, they assert, "would only put our employees there at greater risk and do more harm than good."

Koch also justified their decision by claiming they refuse to "hand over these manufacturing facilities to the Russian government so it can operate and benefit from them." Sonnefeld identifies that as closer to the real reason Koch doesn't want to leave. "It's so ludicrous, on every level," he tells me. "There are now millions and million of employees that used to work for Western companies" now out of work in Russia. If all of those companies pulled out, "there wouldn't be a shred of legitimacy for the government. It would make the revolution happen instantly." He argues Russia couldn't "round up fifteen million people and then figure out what to do with them because they're not working for Western companies anymore. It's ridiculous."

Even companies like McDonald's, which has at least done the right thing by shuttering its 850 stores in Russia, only gets a "B" grade on the list's second, "Suspension" category, as they continue to pay their workers there in hopes of returning. "It allows Putin and Putin supporters to say, 'This was just ceremonial, it's temporary. You don't need to worry, they're not really leaving, they'll be back.'"

When asked if the company should receive plaudits for helping to keep their from going hungry, Sonnenfeld is unimpressed. "Those 60,000 people should be out of work and in the streets. That's what people don't understand on this," he insists. "They say, 'Oh, innocent Russians aren't responsible for what Putin is doing.' Yes, they are! It's their complacency. Putin is in power, not because he is popularly elected. He rules because of this iron fist of being a murderous tyrant. To take that on you've got to go in there with warfare. If we don't want to do that, one thing we can do to help those innocent Russians is to at least get them angry to be part of a civil disobedience, to be part of a shutdown of civil society."

He cites "bloodless revolutions" elsewhere, charging that "if you freeze up the economy, then you get people angry, out on the streets, and they bring down the government. But to keep them complacent and comfortable, that does no good whatsoever."

While recognizing the lack of a free press in Russia at this point, Sonnenfeld also has little sympathy. "It's because they willingly don't want to know. It isn't just because they don't get a free press. When all their favorite brands shut down and they're out of work --- if all of these non-Russian companies say 'You're a rogue nation!' --- maybe they'll start to realize that what Putin is telling them, that he's trying to 'liberate' Ukraine, they'll realize that's not true."

As you might guess, Sonnenfeld, the author of many books and academic papers on business management, leadership, and corporate governance, has much more to say on this subject and on the many companies who have done what he sees as the right thing, as well as those he feels should be penalized by the American people for failing to do so.

You can view the list or download a searchable Excel version here. But, first, you'll want to tune in for today's very lively and colorful conversation with Sonnenfeld...

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Also: GOP's KBJ confirmation idiocy; KY's anti-marriage equality clerk finally found guilty; 23,000 mail ballots rejected under new TX law...
By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2022 6:47pm PT  

There were a surprising number of callers into yesterday's program who seemed to believe that if the U.S. simply left Ukraine to its own devices, somehow there wouldn't be a massive genocide and destruction of the Ukrainian state by Russia, and that it wouldn't somehow lead to WWIII. Those callers are wrong, I'm sorry to say. And I'm even sorrier that many of them are on the left. On today's BradCast we spend some time explaining how many have come to misunderstand a lot of bad and (often purposely) misleading information out there, and how deeply-ingrained (and well-justified!) anti-war sentiments against the U.S. war machine are now ill-serving some on the supposed left now that Russia is the actual aggressor. We also cover several ongoing fights for our own struggling democracy here at home --- in the U.S. Senate, at SCOTUS, and in both Kentucky and Texas. [Audio link to today's show is posted below this summary.]

Among the many stories covered or referenced today...

  • A quick review of Day 2 of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's confirmation hearings in the U.S. Senate, where Republicans are spending their time questioning the first black female nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court as a way to improve their own electoral ambitions and/or nab an appearance on Fox "News". ("Do you believe babies are racist, Ms. Jackson?") Since we don't care to privilege the lies, we don't spend much time on that idiocy, though there were some important exchanges with some of the Democratic Senators, including Jackson's thoughts on the importance of respecting long-settled issues of law and civil rights. That, as the GOP's current stolen, packed and bought majority on the High Court begins dismantling decades of well-established and critical legal precedents.
  • Then, some thoughts on some of our callers and emailers on yesterday's program, when we opened the phone lines up to listeners on why they believe President Biden's approval ratings remain low, even as his actions in response to Russia's barbaric attack on Ukraine are so wildly popular among Americans of all parties. We discuss why we believe those callers who want the U.S. to stop supporting Ukraine are deadly wrong about that, and why an emailer who cites Putin's pretext about "de-Nazification" in Ukraine has been wildly misled.
  • That conversation also includes some audio from an interview with a Rabbi in Odesa by NPR's investigative correspondent in Ukraine, Tim Mak. He is told by Rabbi Avraham Wolf, during the interview in a synagogue built by his wife's great great grandfather in 1898, that he believes talk about Nazis in Ukraine is "stupid" and that he has "never in 30 years" experienced any anti-semitism in Odesa.
  • The conversation on all of this also includes this weekend's remarks on ABC News from the courageous Marina Ovsyannikova, a producer at Russia's state-run Channel One, describing her "spontaneous decision" to appear on air with a "NO WAR" protest sign during a news report recently. "I could see what in reality was happening in Ukraine, and what we showed on our programs was very different from what was going on in reality," she explained on Sunday following her arrest, as she still faces a potential 15 years in prison under Putin's new censorship law. While she claims that most Russians oppose Putin's "gruesome war," Ovsyannikova determined that her televised protest might "show to the Russian people that [the state-run media outlet's reports were] just propaganda, expose this propaganda for what it is and maybe stimulate some people to speak up against the war."
  • Then, it's back to our own faltering democracy in the U.S., but with a bit of long-awaited good news for a change. After seven years of delays in court --- thanks to a well-moneyed far-right legal outfit --- Kim Davis, the infamous and Fox-famous Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk who cited "religious beliefs" for her refusal to issue marriage licenses after SCOTUS established the right to marriage equality in 2015, was finally found to have violated the law. In a lawsuit filed by several couples who were refused licenses to marry, a George W. Bush-appointed federal judge held that Davis "cannot use her own constitutional rights as a shield to violate the constitutional rights of others while performing her duties as an elected official.” A jury will determine the financial penalty for Davis, who lost her re-election bid in 2018. Of course her wingnut attorneys will attempt to appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court (even though they already rejected one of Davis' previous arguments...at least before Republicans stole their 6 to 3 majority on the High Court.)
  • In far less encouraging news, an AP analysis has determined that some 23,000 absentee voters in Texas' first-in-the-nation 2022 mid-term primaries on March 1, had their ballots rejected and never counted. AP finds roughly 13% of mail ballots were discarded under the TX GOP's new voter restriction law, SB 1, that they claimed would make it "easier to vote and harder to cheat". That, compared to the 2% of mail ballots that were rejected during the state's previous mid-term primaries in 2018. Thousands of voters in both Republican- and Democratic-leaning counties alike were disenfranchised under the first election held under the new law, though rejection rates were slightly higher in larger, more Dem-leaning counties. Mail voters in Harris County (Houston), for example, saw a gobsmacking rejection rate of 19%! In the weeks and months ahead, primaries will be held in some 17 other states where Republicans have passed new laws making it harder to vote in response to Donald Trump's evidence-free claims of massive fraud in the 2020 election.
  • Finally, and also speaking of Texas, Desi Doyen has our latest Green News Report, with out-of-control climate change-fueled wildfires spreading across the Lone Star State; unbelievably warm and unprecedented simultaneous extreme heat waves at both the North and South poles, and how KBJ's Senate confirmation reminds us yet again that elections (and voting!) have critical consequences...

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Senate confirmation hearings begin for Ketanji Brown Jackson; Russia's ground war on Ukraine nears 'stalemate' as deadly air bombardment continues; Callers ring in on Biden's response to Russia's aggression...
By Brad Friedman on 3/21/2022 6:01pm PT  

We're becoming too used to it by now, but it was another jarring start to an already busy week on The BradCast today, as we lurch once again between domestic politics and the hope for peace to somehow emerge in Ukraine. Callers ring in today on both topics. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the stories covered on our program today...

  • 73-year old judicial activist and corrupt dark money champion Justice Clarence Thomas was hospitalized on Friday with an "infection" and "flu-like symptoms". The Supreme Court waited two days before announcing his hospitalization on Sunday night, claiming that his antibiotic treatment was working and that Thomas should be out of the hospital in a few days. They also report he plans to participate in this week's cases, even though he'll not be present for oral argument. But, since when did hearing the facts of a case ever have any sway on the opinions of the wildly corrupt Thomas? (Or his equally corrupt wife?)
  • After four hours of opening statements and opining by the 22 members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Biden's nominee to fill the seat on the U.S. Supreme Court being vacated by Justice Stephen Breyer this summer, offered her own brief opening remarks. Jackson, vowing to carry out her new role on SCOTUS with transparency and "without fear or favor", would be the first African-American woman on the Court, as well as the first one to have served as a public defender. Unlike Justice Thomas --- and the rest of the Republican appointees on the GOP's packed and stolen majority --- her nomination is, happily, not the culmination of years of dark money spent by activist political hustlers. We share Jackson's opening statement today, just in case you missed it.
  • Next, it's an update on the latest in Russia's horrific war on Ukraine, which is really devolving into two separate wars. One, a ground war which is grinding down to a stalemate for both sides, with Ukraine even winning back a bit of ground in recent days. The other, an aerial bombardment campaign which Russia is brutally winning with long-range missiles launched from within their own borders and an increasing number of criminal attacks by their air force on Ukraine's battered and besieged --- but still determined --- civilian population. There are also new concerns about radiation levels in the 1,000 square mile Exclusion Zone surrounding the cite of the 1986 nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, some 60 miles from the Ukrainian capital. We discuss.
  • Then, new polling finds that Biden's actions in response to Ukraine --- rallying sanctions against Russia by the West, defensive armaments given to Ukraine, otherwise keeping U.S. military troops out of the fighting --- are wildly popular among huge majorities of Americans, both Democrats and Republicans alike. So, why are Biden's approval ratings still so low? So far, there is no indication of a rally-around-the-flag effect that would normally be expected during wars and disasters (and this is both). Why is that? We discuss and open up the phones to listeners on that topic and related matters today...

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Guest: Journalist, author, activist, Bill McKibben of 350.org, ThirdAct.org; Also: Putin on dangerous edge; Ukraine now fully on the EU grid...
By Brad Friedman on 3/17/2022 6:41pm PT  

No biggie, but on today's BradCast we've got a great idea that can help defeat fascism, secure Europe and save the planet, while saving Americans money and adding a ton of new jobs in the U.S. But the best part of the plan may be that Joe Biden can make it all happen tomorrow without begging for the approval of any obstructionist, fossil fuel-loving Senators. Our guest today reports the Administration is now actively considering it --- and not a moment too soon! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

On yesterday's BradCast, as the war in Europe grinds into its fourth deadly week, we cited evidence of progress in peace talks between Ukrainian and Russian negotiators. Those encouraging signs, however, are tempered today by Russian President Vladimir Putin's increasing isolation and darkening tone as displayed yet again during his latest, nationally televised address on Wednesday, boding ominously for the path ahead.

"The Russian people will always be able to distinguish true patriots from scum and traitors," Putin sneered into the camera in his latest chilling screed, "and will simply spit them out like an insect in their mouth onto the pavement." He spoke of his nation's need for "self-detoxification" and derided the "servile mentality" of fleeing Russian oligarchs with "villas in Miami or the French Riviera, who cannot make do without foie gras, oysters or gender freedom, as they call it."

Kremlin experts argue the Russian leader is becoming ever more manic and unpredictable as his war against Ukraine has bogged down; the Russian economy disintegrates, battered by Western sanctions; and as billionaire oligarch escape routes via mega-yachts are being blocked from Spain to France to Norway. As one expert observed, it was as if Putin was warning the elites: "We're all in this together and if I go down, you go down."

Ukraine, on the other hand, even as the punishing, deadly assault by Russian bombardment grinds on, is moving ahead. Last night, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced his nation has now fully disconnected from the Russian and Belarus power grids and is 100% hooked into Europe's after a remarkable three weeks time. In the middle of a war.

"The enemy expected that the Ukrainian power system would collapse, that we would not be able to cope," said Zelenskyy in a statement published by his office on Wednesday night. "As of today, Ukrainian electricity flows to Europe and European electricity flows to Ukraine...We now have a single energy circulatory system from Lisbon to Mariupol. Ukraine is in the 'energy eurozone'. We cannot be defeated."

Still, much of Europe's energy continues to derive from Russian fossil fuels. And much of Russia's economy --- its war engine --- relies on those fossil fuel exports to Europe. That, too, needs to end. Happily, our guest today has a great idea about how to do just that, in a way that helps fight fascism and climate change, while adding jobs, beefing up U.S. manufacturing and securing Europe. And the best part: President Joe Biden can make it all happen without needing corrupt coal-state Senator Joe Manchin's permission!

We're joined today by the great environmental author, journalist and activist BILL MCKIBBEN of 350.org and ThirdAct.org to discuss the plan he recently spelled out in one of his "The Crucial Years" newsletters. It's based on an effort being pushed hard by the non-profit Rewiring America and New Mexico's Sen. Martin Heinrich. The plan would replace tens of millions of Europe's fossil fuel burning furnaces and boilers with new, electrified heat pump technology.

The replacement of old furnaces with electrified heat pump systems could make a huge dent in Russia's fascist petrol-economy, remove Putin's ability to freeze out Europe by flipping a switch, cut deadly greenhouse gas emissions that have lurched our climate into crisis, and could begin right now, in advance of next winter, under Biden's wartime invocation of the Defense Production Act (DPA).

As McKibben details, new electric heat pump technology provides both heat in winter and air conditioning in summer. Much of freezing cold Norway already uses it. And Biden has the authority to use the DPA to kick-start production at major U.S. air condition manufacturers like Carrier and Trane. (Many of whom, on a political note, happen to have manufacturing hubs in swing-states like Florida, Wisconsin, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas.)

"This is obviously a hideous, hideous month. It's completely horrible, and it's completely tied to our dependence on fossil fuel. This is not a war for fossil fuel, the way that some of our wars in the Middle East may have been, but it's a war funded by and about the power that comes with fossil fuel," he tells me.

"The good news is that our scientists and engineers over the last decade have done incredible work," McKibben continues. "They've dropped the price of renewable energy 90 percent. The sun and wind are the cheapest way to generate power now. And they've produced this suite of technologies that allow us to do the things we need to do with that electricity. Everybody knows about the rise of electric vehicles, but it's the same for the gas or oil furnace that's blazing away in one's basement. The most efficient way now, and cheapest and smartest way to heat your home or cool your home, is with this technology that we're calling heat pumps."

Both Biden and Donald Trump invoked the DPA in response to the COVID pandemic. Biden has even "used it to get a factory in Oklahoma to produce hundreds of miles of fire hose at a moment's notice" after we ran out thanks to last year's huge (climate change-fueled) California wildfires.

McKibben explains that U.S. manufacturers have the spare capacity to begin a "Heat Pumps for Peace and Freedom" effort almost immediately. "Every President since" the Korean War-era DPA was adopted has used it and, he asserts, "this is the kind of thing we can use to get this work done now, and get this stuff over to Europe."

"They have to cut back a lot on their consumption of gas. That's basically what Russia is sending to Europe. And that gas is used above all for home heating. So anything that we can do to get even a few million homes off that gas before next October is a big blow to Putin," he argues.

Do heat pumps work as well as the old boiler and furnace systems? "Absolutely," answers McKibben, who uses one in his own home (with solar panels, natch, but that's not a necessity.) "This is good technology. In the same way that my EV works better than any other car I've ever had. This stuff is great. Quiet, clean, works."

"The Europeans can use them," he says. "The chokepoint may actually be trained people to install them. Which is one reason why the good people at RewiringAmerica.org ,who have taken this up in a big way, have in their proposal for the Biden Administration training and sending abroad a big crew of Americans to help with that installation. One of the benefits for us is they get good at it, come back here, and what helps enormously in Austria, Germany, Poland and Moldova this winter helps a lot in Minnesota and Montana the winter after that. So win-win all around."

McKibben says that he is being told the Administration is seriously considering the idea. And while sending defensive munitions and humanitarian aid are both, unfortunately, very necessary right now, sending this kind of assistance helps Europe, the U.S. and the planet for years to come. Indeed, "win-win all around."

Finally, we end an unusually green program, even for us, as Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more reminders of why Heat Pumps for Freedom --- and working around corrupt, coal state Senators like Joe Manchin --- is so vitally important for all of us right now...

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Also: Manchin and petty GOP Senators undermine the Fed; Daylight breaks for permanent DST; Randy Rainbow returns!...
By Brad Friedman on 3/16/2022 7:13pm PT  

It was a day of some light amid the darkness. As usual, these days, we'll take what we can get. Today's BradCast may lurch you back and forth through both, though we do end on several upbeat notes of lightness and light.

Among both the light and dark stories covered on today's program...

  • Russia continued to add to its many war crimes in Ukraine, further assuring Vladimir Putin's ignominious place in the history as one of humanity's most villainous war criminals. On Wednesday, Ukraine charged that Russian airstrikes flattened the historic Donetsk Regional Theatre of Drama in Mariupol, where "hundreds" of civilians were reportedly sheltering. As Ukraine's Foreign Minister tweeted, "the building is now fully ruined," adding "Russia could not have not known this was a civilian shelter." The untold number of victims is added to the thousands already reported as killed and buried in mass graves in the Southern coastal city which has been cut off by Russian forces for weeks now from food, water, electricity and medicine.
  • In brighter news, a glimmer of hope for peace over the past 24 hours or so, amid continuing negotiations between Ukraine and Russia. The framework reportedly echoes a similar roadmap put forth on this program by the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft's Anatole Lieven a couple of weeks ago. Both sides are citing progress toward what is emerging as a 15-point plan for ending the war. It includes Ukraine's acknowledgement that they will not become a member of NATO, but will become a defensively armed neutral country along the lines of Austria or Sweden, with security guarantees from allies such as the US, UK and Turkey. In return, Russia would fully withdraw its troops. There are still many questions surrounding what "security guarantees" might amount to, and exactly which regions Russia would fully withdraw from. But the news of both "hope" and "compromise" is both significant and encouraging.
  • Meanwhile, Ukraine's courageous President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the U.S. Congress on Wednesday morning via video-conference, eliciting bipartisan standing ovations both before and after his remarks. We share his presentation in full today, as he invoked Pearl Harbor and 9/11 and referenced both Martin Luther King and Mount Rushmore as he asked for additional support from U.S. lawmakers, called for still more sanctions against Russian lawmakers, and asked for President Biden's help in leading the world toward peace. "We need you right now," he said, adding: "I see no sense in life if it cannot stop the deaths."
  • Several hours later, President Biden offered his own remarks at the White House, announcing a new round of defensive munitions earmarked for Ukraine. Today's $800 million tranche brings the total, in both military and humanitarian support sent to Ukraine since Biden took office, to about $2 billion. Congress has appropriated another $14 billion or so. In his White House comments, Biden excoriated "Putin's depraved onslaught". Later in the day he described the disgraced Russian leader as a "war criminal".
  • Next, with those heavy lifts behind us, we return to domestic politics, as the Federal Reserve raised interest rates by a quarter of a percent on Wednesday, in hopes of easing inflation by forcing the economy into recession. The move follows yesterday's official withdraw of Biden's nomination of Sarah Bloom Raskin to a seat on the Fed's Board of Governors. Republicans in the Senate Banking Committee had denied a quorum to prevent her confirmation by refusing to show up at all. But her fate was finally sealed this week when Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said he would not support her. The phony complaints from the GOP had to do with Raskin's anodyne commentary in the past that the Fed should reconsider its support of the fossil fuel industry amid our worsening climate crisis. Manchin, of course, makes millions from the coal industry and his campaign has raked in huge bucks from Big Fossil Fuel. Republicans, on the other hand, who approved Raskin for other roles twice in the past, may have had an additional reason to block the confirmation of Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD)'s well-qualified wife to a seat on the Fed Board.
  • In the brightest news we can find today, the U.S. Senate, which usually only finds bipartisan agreement on matters that have to do with war, found something else to agree on Tuesday. It is unqualified great news and anyone who says otherwise is embarrassingly wrong. The Sunshine Protection Act, co-sponsored by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) was passed by the Senate with unanimous consent yesterday! The measure would make Daylight Saving Time permanent as of 2023. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) correctly lauded the long-overdue initiative by declaring: "No more dark afternoons in the winter! No more losing an hour of sleep every spring! We want more sunshine during our most productive waking hours!" Of course, she's right. And --- even though my remarks on this topic bring more email (both for and against) than just about anything else I ever cover --- I will note that anyone who opposes this, no matter how good their reasons by may be, are still shamefully wrong. If I can find time in the days ahead --- especially if it looks like this will move forward in the House and on to the President --- I'll try to find some time to share some of those amusing emails from listeners, especially those from some our nation's most determined Eeyores of Darkness.
  • Finally, after delivering the light that we earlier promised, we end with a rainbow of it! Specifically, it's the return of brilliant satirist and national treasure Randy Rainbow, after a too-long absence. His new tribute to "Karens" Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Lauren Boebert (R-CO) closes out today's program with a much needed laugh...

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More transmissible Omicron variant rising; Ukraine keeps sense of humor amid war; Russia's dark lies and celebration of Tucker Carlson; 'Censorship' on YouTube...
By Brad Friedman on 3/14/2022 6:22pm PT  

These are dark days indeed when the rise of a new Omicron variant turns out to be one of the lighter moments on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

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

  • Some real light amid the darkness. It's the one day of the year when we try to celebrate the one thing that Congress did when it was controlled by Republicans during the George W. Bush era that WASN'T terrible. It was actually good! (Though at least one caller today disagrees.) And, no, it wasn't the 25-year extension of the Voting Rights Act in 2006 (which was great! But they, obviously, didn't actually mean it as anything more than a failed election year ploy.)
  • Sorry! But don't throw those masks away yet! Yes, we're all tired of COVID. But, no, it doesn't not appear to be tired of us yet. A new variant of Omicron --- dubbed "BA.2" or "stealth Omicron" or "Deltacron" --- is potentially 30% more transmissible than the highly infectious original Omicron variant, and its rising right now, and quickly, in parts of Europe and Asia. Luckily, it could never get here, right? Oops. It already has. (HELPFUL REMINDER: Now is the perfect time to get boosted if you haven't bothered yet! Seriously.)
  • Snark amid the horror. The chief of Ukraine's anti-corruption agency writes a letter to the head of Russia's Ministry of Defense, "thanking" him for his embezzlement of the Russian military. The result, as alleged in his pretty hilarious letter (with photos): Russian tanks with armor filled with cardboard egg cartons; Bright light blue military transport vehicles that make for easy target practice for Ukrainian forces; "Bullet-proof" vests filled with cardboard.
  • Russian propaganda debunked by AP. A particularly dark episode, the bombing of a maternity hospital last week in Mariupol, was all a fake, according to Russian officials. AP journalist and photographers, who were first-hand witnesses, however, report otherwise. They also follow up to report that one of the pregnant women at the hospital, videotaped as she was carried away on a stretcher through the rubble after the attack, has now died along with her unborn child.
  • Russia media propaganda ministry makes Tucker Carlson a star! Yes, the Fox "News" anchor is repeatedly referenced in leaked memos sent to Putin's state-controlled media, urging them to play more clips of his various monologues from the Republican news channel repeating Kremlin propaganda. He's the only Western media star so cited in the several communiques obtained Mother Jones.
  • YouTube blocks Russian propaganda channels. But ends up blocking a whole bunch of stuff that isn't Russian propaganda, including a bunch of my own appearances on RT over the years, long before they became little more than a mouthpiece for Putin. Is the loss of access to those videos (many of them previously embedded at The BRAD BLOG) a price worth paying to fight autocracy during wartime? We discuss, and have a bit of time (though very little) for a few callers who ring in today...

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Guests: Kate Neiswender and Kim Andrew Elliott on a U.S. crowd-funded grassroots effort reviving Cold War tech to counter propaganda inside Putin's new Iron Curtain; And, yes, Russians love their children too...
By Brad Friedman on 3/11/2022 6:18pm PT  

In what would be a dream world for our previous President, who declared the media to be "the enemy of the people" just before his infamous 2018 meeting with Russia's Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Russia has now criminalized pretty much any and all independent media. But our guests on today's BradCast have a really cool and, yes, retro idea about how to help counter Russia's media blackout. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among other restrictions, Putin's new censorship law, adopted just after his invasion of Ukraine, mandates harsh penalties, including jail time, for the crime of reporting on the invasion as an "invasion" or "war". Independent outlets have been forced to shutter or have stopped covering the war at all. Western media outlets have pulled their reporters and Russia has closed Internet access to websites of foreign state-run media outlets such as Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, the BBC and Deutsche Welle.

Kremlin-approved propaganda is now all that many Russians have access to, where they are being told that Russia's barbaric military assault on its sovereign neighbor --- including its civilian population --- is little more than a minor, "special military operation" meant to "demilitarize and denazify" Ukraine. Civilians are not being harmed, and anyone who says otherwise is reporting "fake news," the Kremlin insists.

Of late, however, as Julia Davis reported yesterday at The Daily Beast, some cracks are beginning to appear, even on Kremlin-approved television, including one of Moscow's most popular evening news programs, whose Putin-friendly host has been sanctioned by the EU and where nightly broadcasts frequently end with clips of monologues by Fox 'News' star Tucker Carlson.

For most Russians, however, there is very little access to independent, outside reporting to counter the official state media narrative. Our guests today, attorney KATE NEISWENDER and former longtime Voice of America employee and shortwave radio enthusiast KIM ANDREW ELLIOTT are part of a small, grassroots effort aiming to revive a Cold War technology in hopes of helping counter the information desert inside of Putin's new Iron Curtain.

Dubbed #ShortwavesForFreedom on social media, the new project has begun raising money to fund re-broadcasts of Voice of America (VOA) programming into Ukraine and Russia via shortwave frequencies. While the BBC World Service announced this week they were reviving their old shortwave broadcasts into the former Soviet Union, the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty --- both managed by the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) --- have declined to do so, at least so far.

Neiswender, Elliott and a number of other VOA veterans and supporters aim to fill that gap with a crowd-funded effort. The group has already raised enough over just the past week or so to get up and running --- rebroadcasting some of VOA's programming (which is all public domain) --- into Europe via shortwave transmission from Florida station, WRMI Radio Miami International.

They both join us today to explain, among other things: How this effort came together in just over a week's time; how they hope to expand from English-language programming to broadcasts in both Ukrainian and Russian; why they believe VOA (actually, USAGM) has yet to take this step themselves; and how a very small amount of money can go a very long way in this project, as they seek additional broadcasters to help transmit shortwave programming from both the U.S. and Europe.

Does anyone in Russia still even have access to the equipment needed to listen to the broadcasts? "Well, nowadays for sure, fewer people will be listening to shortwave and fewer people have shortwave radios," Elliott explains. "But, when the Internet is cut, squeezed, blocked, and at some point maybe even with lines into the country cut off, radio will be the only way to get in to the country. And then, the people in those countries will have to try to find their old Soviet-era shortwave radios." He believes "that audience can pass the information on to the larger audience in those countries."

Will Russian audiences have any more confidence that what they are hearing from Western state-run outlets like VOA is any more reliable than what their own state-approved outlets are telling them? "VOA and RFE (Radio Free Europe) have a government-imposed, in-the-code-written-by-Congress, can't-get-around-it mandate to be fair," Neiswender argues. She's referring to USAGM's Charter, adopted during the Ford Administration, which one VOA journalist has explained to me, means that, "We're probably the only news organization in the world that is mandated to be fair, objective and unbiased."

Whether VOA and RFE's reports are perceived as such by listeners inside of Russia and Ukraine is another matter, but their broadcasts did serve as an information lifeline to many behind the old Iron Curtain for many decades of the Cold War.

For now, the effort is already working. Elliott, who spent more than 30 years as a broadcaster and audience analyst at VOA tells us that "the signal is getting through to a very large extent, and sometimes with really good reception quality. Direct feedback from the audience, that will take some days and weeks as the word gets around that these transmissions are available. Already, WRMI received a note from a diplomat in Egypt who heard the Russian transmission. It is getting through."

Neiswender says that the project's success is only a matter of raising funds to keep going and expand their reach. The effort is crowdsourced with a fund raiser at Fundrazr.com/RadioWaves. A very small amount of money goes a long way here, she insists. They are already up and broadcasting after raising just over $6,000.

All of the money, "goes directly to the stations. No one is getting a dime from this that is organizing it or running it. Every cent of the money that is coming in is going directly back out to fund these transmissions," she notes.

It's a fascinating conversation about a fascinating project that I believe is well worth your time today, even as these are very strange days indeed.

Finally, we close with one more fascinating story, and a song. The story comes, ironically enough, courtesy of Fox "News", regarding Marina Baronova, the now-former Managing Editor of Russia's state-owned media outlet Russia Today (RT). She resigned her post last week in protest of Putin's invasion of Ukraine. She now fears for her life, though not necessarily for the reasons you may assume. And her interview with Fox concludes with this message: "Russians love their children, too."

As it happens, Grammy-winner Sting, last weekend, posted an Instagram video singing his 1985 tune called "Russians" which, he says, he has rarely sung since the end of the Cold War. Now, as you'll hear, it has new relevance. Apparently even for Baronova...

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Third round of Russia-Ukraine talks end; We open the phones to listeners to discuss possibilities for a peaceful solution and end to the aggression...
By Brad Friedman on 3/7/2022 6:03pm PT  

The war porn continues on too much of the corporate media. Too many pundits. Too many self-declared experts without actual expertise or who have ideological axes to grind. Too much politics, not enough talk about how to get to peace. Once again on today's BradCast, we're trying our best to get there. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

On last Friday's show, we spoke with longtime Russia-Ukraine expert and author Anatol Lieven of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft about his proposed roadmap, of sorts --- and the tough choices for all sides that comes with it --- for peace in Ukraine.

In short (and please read Lieven for a more complete description) it entails....

  • Ukraine declaring neutrality (not unlike Austria or Finland after WWII), and that they they will not join NATO or any other military bloc (including Russia's!), while "demilitarizing" offensively, but retaining defensive-only military capability.
  • Recognizing Crimea as part of the Russian Federation and allow some form of independence for the Russia-backed separatist regions in the Donbas in the eastern part of the nation. All three territories would then hold internationally observed referenda on who they would like to align with. (This would also likely include revisiting the Minsk II agreement that was brokered in 2015, leading to a a cease-fire in the Donbas region, even as Ukraine has been disinclined to move ahead with the negotiated terms of that agreement, thanks, in part, to opposition from ultra-nationalist factions in its country.)

Lieven's roadmap shares the broad contours --- if not every detail and critical nuance --- with the conditions for cease-fire the Kremlin reportedly putting forward before today's peace talks with Ukraine. That's good news. Or, at least we are choosing to see as such today.

The two parties had their third round of such talks on Monday, with hopes of first reaching an agreement on a temporary cease-fire to allow for humanitarian corridors so citizens can leave besieged cities and allow food and medicine to be brought in. Similiar hopes for cease-fires over the weekend were dashed after just a few hours. Both sides blame the other.

But, even as they struggle to create humanitarian corridors, Ukraine has reportedly agreed to Russia's condition of dropping hopes of joining NATO. But Russia, reportedly, is insisting that all conditions for a treaty be met before they end their lawless aggression. This could take a while --- even as both parties have good reason at this time to find their way to peace as quickly as possible.

We open the phones today to listeners to discuss peace, and whether Ukraine should take such a deal; whether Putin can be trusted to keep it (or whether his interests in reconstituting the Soviet Union or an even more expansive Greater Russian empire would see him continue his march of military aggression); and whether accepting such terms would be the equivalent of rewarding Putin's bad behavior (and war crimes.)

When Lieven opened his article last week on a potential path to peace in Ukraine, he used a quote from Robert Lovett, U.S. Defense Secretary for several years in the early 50s, declaring: "Forget the cheese --- let's get out of the trap." That argument has been cycling through my brain ever since. Today, we get to find out how listeners feel about it when we open the phones for an important conversation: one that was more about peace, for a happy change, than about war...

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Guest: Russia-Ukraine author, expert Anatol Leiven of the Quincy Inst. for Responsible Statecraft; Also: Huge new jobs numbers for February as Biden economic boom continues, despite media failure in reporting it...
By Brad Friedman on 3/4/2022 6:44pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We'll leave the drumbeat of military experts and 24-hour, round-the-clock war porn to the cable news nets, and focus instead today on a path to peace, with a longtime expert on the complicated relationship between Ukraine and Russia. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

FIRST UP, however, back here in the U.S., more astoundingly good new jobs numbers were reported by the Labor Department. Some 678,000 new jobs were created last month, and revisions to monthly numbers for December and January add another 100,000 to the already record numbers. Also, the unemployment rate fell even further to a rate of 3.8%, not seen since before the pandemic. Much of that, according to experts, is thanks to Biden and the Democrats American Rescue Plan, passed without any Republican support early last year.

But even while Biden's economy continues to boom with a record 6.6 million new jobs created over the past year --- the most for any single year since record-keeping on this began in the 1930s --- and the highest growth in GDP since the 1980s, Americans appear completely clueless about these facts. Former WaPo columnist, Dan Froomkin, now author of the Press Watch newsletter, explains today why he blames the media for their dismal failures in properly educating the electorate on the basic, cold, hard facts. "When the public thinks up is down," he argues, "it’s time to rethink coverage."

NEXT, regrettably if necessarily, it's back to Russia's horrific, unprovoked war on Ukraine, after a harrowing night during which the largest nuclear power plant in Europe came under attack by Putin's forces, setting part of it ablaze for a time and rattling a lot of nerves in the bargain, and not just in Ukraine.

We're joined today from Great Britain by ANATOL LIEVEN, a former war correspondent in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Chechnya and other former Soviet nations. Lieven has served as a professor in Qatar and at the War Studies Dept. at King's College London and has written a number of books about Ukraine and Russia and other Eastern European conflicts following the fall of the USSR. He is now a Senior Research Fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft where, on Thursday, he penned a quite welcome article on "How to get to a place of peace for Ukraine".

Lieven shares his deep expertise not only on that roadmap, and the hard, but necessary choices it'll require from Ukraine, Russia, the U.S., the EU and NATO, but also much more on how we got to this horrific place; what Putin really wants both on a macro historic level and out of this current conflict; what could happen if peace is not achieved; how this war is being understood by both average Russians, amid heavy-handed media restrictions, and those close to Putin; and whether Putin should be taken seriously regarding his recent, repeated, barely veiled threats of unleashing his nuclear arsenal.

We cover quite a bit of ground in this conversation, all of which is well worth tuning in for. But, just to cover a few of the key points from Lieven today...

On whether Putin is really hoping to brush back NATO's eastward expansion following the end of the Cold War or whether his attack on Ukraine is an attempt to prevent the threat posed by a prosperous, Western-leaning, market-based democracy in a neighboring, former Soviet county, Lieven believes it's the former. He explains that while Putin has been previously willing to accept some NATO expansion, he draws the line at border countries like Georgia and Ukraine, as would the U.S. if, for example, Mexico entered a military alliance with China.

"I think the reason so many people in America, in the West, in NATO" are now claiming this is about preventing a blossoming democracy on Russia's western border "is, basically, to cover their own tracks. They were warned, repeatedly, that this was going to lead to war. They didn't want to listen. And now, they're saying that it wasn't about NATO expansion because they don't want to acknowledge they were warned that this would lead to crisis," Lieven argues. "That doesn't, of course, excuse Putin's invasion. We don't know what's going on in Putin's head, but we do know what the Russians have said repeatedly for almost thirty years."

On Putin's claim that the invasion was meant to end an ongoing "genocide" and to "demilitarize and denazify Ukraine," Lieven scoffs, describing some of the realities about the limited reach of the ultra-nationalist Azov Movement in Ukraine. "This is absolutely grotesque Russian propaganda, colossally exaggerated," he says, adding that the accusation about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is Jewish and lost family members to the Nazis during WWII "is unspeakably mendacious and grotesque. This is not Nazi-ism and this is not genocide. That is a lie on a truly monstrous scale by Putin."

As to his proposed plan for peace, and the difficult choices that will come with it for many in the West, as he detailed yesterday at the Quincy Institute, it largely comes down to an agreement where Ukraine declares neutrality (not unlike Austria did in the 1950s), which means they won't join NATO, but they also won't join an alliance with the eastern military bloc either; ceding Crimea and the eastern Donbass regions held by Russia-backed separatists before the war to the Russians (though internationally-observed referendums should be held by the citizens of each region and territory gained during the current crisis would be returned to Ukraine), and all of the Western sanctions on Russia, both before and during the war would be lifted. There is, of course, a bit more to it, but that seems to be the general contours.

I ask if Putin would accept such an agreement and whether it would be seen as rewarding him for his aggression. "If what you really care about is ending the war and saving the lives of Ukrainians, and eliminating the threat of nuclear annihilation, people need to say just what is wrong with an agreement along these lines," Lieven answers. "If this were offered and the Russians then refused it, and introduced new demands, like replacing the Ukrainian government, then we would know that Putin's ambitions went much further. And that, of course, would be totally illegitimate and a peace agreement would be impossible. But we don't know that until that has been offered."

"In international affairs, alas, you always have to mix some combination of respect for international law with respect for realities on the ground if you're not prepared to fight," he tells me. Or, as he quotes Robert A. Lovett, U.S. Defense Secretary from 1951 to 1953, at the beginning of his article laying out this roadmap: "Forget the cheese --- let's get out of the trap."

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Guest: Legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern on KBJ, the EPA, dark money in the federal judiciary and much more; Also: Latest good-ish news and bleak news out of Ukraine...
By Brad Friedman on 3/3/2022 6:34pm PT  

We continue the impossible balancing act on today's BradCast between coverage of the chilling news out of Ukraine and the somewhat less grim --- but still (mostly) grim --- news out of the federal judiciary in our own teetering democracy. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

FIRST, in our quick round-up of the latest developments in Russia's horrific assault against Ukraine:

  • Some good-ish news as the second round of peace talks results in a "possible temporary ceasefire" to establish humanitarian corridors in some areas of Ukraine to allow safe evacuation out of the country and for food and medical supplies to be brought in.
  • The UN says 1 million refugees have already fled Ukraine over the past week, a record for number to leave any nation that quickly this century. But, they warn, the number of displaced residents could rise to more than 4 million, and potentially as high as 10 million as the unspeakable violence continues.
  • More good-ish news in that the Pentagon has reportedly established a direct line of communication with the Russian defense ministry. The so-called "de-confliction line" has been established "for the purpose of preventing miscalculation, military incidents, and escalation," as AP is reporting.
  • The International Criminal Court is said to have opened an investigation into Russian war crimes and atrocities.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron, after a "not-so-friendly" call with Vladimir Putin, reports "the worst is yet to come" in the conflict.
  • According to its Mayor, Russian troops have finally taken control of a major city in Ukraine, the city of Kherson on the Black Sea near Crimea. Russian troops are said to be "laying siege" to the key nearby Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is pleading for more international assistance and calling on NATO to establish a no-fly zone over the country. That, however, would directly pull both U.S. and NATO into direct military conflict with Russia, sparking WWIII in the bargain.
  • And, in the U.S. House on Wednesday, a bipartisan, non-binding resolution "Supporting the people of Ukraine" and its sovereign territory, condemning Russia, was approved by an overwhelming 426 to 3 vote. The three members voting against were all Republicans: Reps. Paul Gosar of Arizona, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Matt Rosendale of Montana. The explanations from all three are appalling.

NEXT, it's back to U.S. news focused on the federal judiciary, with the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist at Slate, who, on the day that Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court back in January, told us that his "likely" successor would be Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Last week, she was nominated by President Biden to the High Court.

Among the many court-related matters discussed with Stern today (including several of them in a lightning round, as we tried to catch up with a boatload of news that has otherwise been overshadowed by the war in Eastern Europe)...

  • His thoughts on Judge Jackson, why he predicted back in January that she'd be nominated, what difference she can make on the GOP's stolen and packed Court, and what, if any, roadblocks may stand in the way of her confirmation as the first black woman to sit as a Justice.
  • This week's SCOTUS hearing on West Virginia v. EPA, a challenge by "red" states and the fossil fuel industry to President Obama's Clean Power Plan (which never went into effect) and Trump's subsequent program that replaced it (which was rolled back by the Court and also never went into effect). So why did the GOP's stolen and packed SCOTUS shock Court watchers by deciding to hear this case at all, since nobody has actually been harmed in any way? We discuss. But it's about not only gutting the EPA's statutory ability in the near future to regulate greenhouse gas emissions causing our deadly climate crisis, but also about undermining regulatory actions by all Executive Branch agencies (at least when a Democrat is in control of them.)
  • While the role of dark money in campaigns and elections is fairly well understood, how dark money affects appointments to the federal judiciary and the cases they hear is much less appreciated. Stern explains some of the many ways this has poisoned the U.S. judicial system.
  • Last week, SCOTUS turned away a challenge to Maine's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, filed by plaintiffs seeking a religious exemption. Why has the Court been allowing some state and local mandates to proceed, even without religious exemptions, while blocking others imposed by the Biden Administration? Stern explains.
  • Remember that 2018 decision by SCOTUS regarding a baker who didn't want to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple in Colorado? His bigotry was allowed, but for largely technical reasons. Now the Court has decided to hear yet another challenge to Colorado's anti-discrimination law from a woman who is considering expanding her web design business to create wedding sites. But, if she does, she doesn't want to create them for same sex weddings, in violation of CO's law. Stern explains that idiocy as well.
  • And, finally, in perhaps the most insane court story we discuss today, this one out of the far-right 5th federal Circuit. The lede from Stern's coverage at Salon this week should give you a taste of just how insane it actually is: "On Monday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stunning decision transferring control over the Navy’s special operations forces from the commander in chief to a single federal judge in Texas. The 5th Circuit’s decision marks an astonishing infringement of President Joe Biden’s constitutional authority over the nation’s armed forces, directing him to follow the instructions of an unelected judge—rather than his own admirals—in deploying [Navy] SEALs. High-ranking military personnel have testified under oath that this power grab constitutes a direct threat to the Navy’s operational abilities. As Russia invades Ukraine and declares a nuclear alert, Donald Trump’s judges are actively threatening America’s national security."

FINALLY, Desi Doyen joins us for an only slightly less insane Green News Report: On Biden's SOTU, on Russia's oil and gas industry getting pummeled because of its attack on Ukraine; and some VERY encouraging news about wind energy...

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Special coverage with guests Heather Digby Parton of Salon and Richard 'RJ' Eskow of 'The Zero Hour'; Also: TX primary results, election probs...
By Brad Friedman on 3/2/2022 5:37pm PT  

"Democracies are rising to the moment," President Biden forcefully asserted during his first official State of the Union address on Tuesday night. "And the world is clearly choosing the side of peace and security." Is he right? We discuss that and much more on Biden's impossible address last night on today's BradCast.

Before we jump in, however, it was also Election Day in Texas on Tuesday, the nation's first primaries of the 2022 mid-term cycle. We briefly cover the reported results of the top-line races for Governor and Attorney General, as well as some interesting House races with progressive challengers on the Democratic side. There were also several curious anomalies we are looking into out Houston's Harris County, regarding the reported shutdown of some polling places to Democrats (and others, purportedly, shut down to Republican voters); some post-election squabbles on delayed results from the County, reportedly due to problems tallying long ballots on their new, 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems; and continuing concerns about thousands of rejected vote-by-mail ballots thanks to new restrictions on absentee voting enacted by the Republican lawmakers last year in the state's newly adopted SB1 law.

Our main focus today, of course, is on Biden's first SOTU. This one, amid a newly raging war on Ukraine, as the autocratic Russia continues its appalling attack on its democratic sovereign neighbor, and as the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday condemned Russia's aggression and atrocities by a lopsided 141 to 5 vote. There were 35 abstentions (including China) and support for Russia offered from Belarus, Cuba, North Korea and Syria.

As if Biden didn't already have enough to worry about with the continuing, if waning (for now), pandemic; an insurrectionist and obstructionist Republican Party; two obstructionist Democrats blocking the bulk of his domestic agenda; and both an opposition party and corporate media hell-bent on weaponizing predictable post-pandemic inflation, even amid a booming economy with growing wages, record corporate profits, record low unemployment, and the highest growth in GDP since the 1980s. All of which has resulted, reasonably or not, resulted in Biden's approval ratings plummeting in advance of this year's critical mid-terms.

Any one of those issues (and, yes, there are more!) would be enough for one State of the Union address. Biden, somehow, had to deal with them all on Tuesday night.

We're joined today for our special coverage by fellow longtime progressive troublemakers and muckrakers HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo and RICHARD 'RJ' ESKOW of The Zero Hour.

There is a lot to discuss today, as we break down key moments from Biden's remarks. But, just for a taste, while they both Parton and Eskow laud the President for rising to the moment and bringing the world together regarding Russia, on the domestic front, political trouble may loom.

"Democrats always have this problem," Parton notes. "The historical pattern here is clear. The Republicans come in and they wreck the place, and Democrats come in and have to clean up the mess. And in the first two years, it's really hard."

"He's not getting a break from the media," Eskow argues. "I think people are also terribly sick of COVID, and he's had to bow to that fatigue. On the grand scheme of things, the big lesson here is the limits of Presidential power, and the fact that he would love to be doing a lot more. Here's a man who spent 50 years running for President, now he's got it, and I feel sorry for him."

Did last night serve to help Biden and the Democrats change their trajectory as we head toward a mid-term election which the media continues to remind voters is (almost always) a historically difficult one for the party in power? Tune in for our special coverage and conversation on that and much, much more...

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