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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, July 12, 2024
Meanwhile... :
'BradCast' 7/11/24
Biden's tenuous candidacy; Trump and Orban; Inflation, prices falling; Climate liar Inhofe dies; California's stunning solar revolution...
'Green News Report' 7/11/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Flooding, power outages, sweltering heat as deadly Beryl fallout continues; New FEMA flood risk standards; PLUS: House Republicans bravely seek Freedom for Refrigerators!...
Previous GNRs: 7/9/24 - 6/25/24 - Archives...
Paging 'Johnny Unbeatable'! Dems in Disarray! (But Really This Time): 'BradCast' 7/10/24
Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, 'Driftglass' of 'Pro Left Podcast'...
SCOTUS Immunity Ruling 'As Bad as it Sounds', Arguably Worse: 'BradCast' 7/9/24
Guest: LawDork's Chris Geidner on that and the Court's massive 'power grab'; Also: Record-breaking Beryl; U.S. heat records smashed...
'Green News Report' 7/9/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Beryl breaks records, slams TX; 140 million Americans under heat advisories; Big SCOTUS gifts for polluters; PLUS: Biden unveils first-ever extreme heat protections for workers...
Previous GNRs: 6/25/24 - 6/27/24 - Archives...
So, What Now?:
'BradCast' 7/8/24
We're back! And our listeners have strong opinions about where the hell we are and how to move forward to save democracy after corrupt SCOTUS rulings and a disastrous Presidential Debate...
Overdue Debunking of MAGA Cult Xenophobia
CANNING: Throughout U.S. history, decent, hard-working immigrants (like me) have contributed to the economy and our nation's security: CANNING
Sunday 'Courting Disaster' Toons
THIS WEEK: Kings and Things! In our special SCOTUS-sized edition of the last impossible week's best political toons!...
Sunday 'Bad Medicine' Toons
THIS WEEK: Trump's hot pants ... Biden's cool reception ... SCOTUS gone wild ... and more in our latest collection of the week's best toons...
A Friendly Suggestion:
Harris-Newsom 2024
An orderly transition to save the nation...if Biden himself agrees...
Former Fed Prosecutor: SCOTUS Corruption Ruling Less Corrupt Than Appears: 'BradCast' 6/27/24
Guest: Randall D. Eliason; Also: 'Chevron Deference'; SCOTUS nixes EPA pollution rule...
'Green News Report' 6/27/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Disasterous flooding in China; Heatwave, crop failure in Inida; Fisaster upon disaster for NM town; On edge for SCOTUS decision; PLUS: Biden climate law creates 300,000 jobs!...
Previous GNRs: 6/25/24 - 6/20/24 - Archives...
Good News and Bad: At the Polls and From the Corrupted Court: 'BradCast' 6/26/24
NY, CO, UT, SC election results; SCOTUS on public corruption, social media; Long-overdue Biden pardons...
'Not Something Journalists Do': A NatSec Journo on Assange Hacking, Plea Deal: 'BradCast' 6/25/24
Guest: Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel; Also: VA Rep. vows to block apparent primary loss...
'Green News Report' 6/25/24
Extreme U.S. heat, flooding; FEMA warns of funding shortfall; Climate change spiking home insurance; PLUS: Global warming turbocharging heat, wildfires...
Fox 'News' Grooming Viewers for Another Insurrection: 'BradCast' 6/24/24
Guest: Matt Gertz of Media Matters; Also: Climate change is now wreaking brutal, deadly, expensive consequences...
Sunday 'Shark Jumping' Toons
THIS WEEK: Unsavable ... Untouchable ... Undebatable ... Undeniable... And more unavoidable mischief in our latest collection of the week's best political toons...
The Prophecy and Warning of the White Buffalo: 'BradCast' 6/20/24
Our global air pollution and climate crisis and what we can do about it; Also: Biden now leads in Fox 'News' polling; Trump Media stock tanking again; CNN debate set...
'Green News Report' 6/20/24
Extreme U.S. heat intensifies; First named storm of year; Evacuations in NM; Astonishing heat in India, Saudi Arabia; PLUS: U.S. schools grapple with extreme heat...
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...


Biden's tenuous candidacy; Trump and Orban; Inflation, prices falling; Climate liar Inhofe dies; California's stunning solar revolution...
By Brad Friedman on 7/11/2024 6:27pm PT  

We went to air on today's BradCast prior to Joe Biden's several-hours-delayed post-NATO Summit press conference, allowing us to catch up on an item or two that we've otherwise been trying to get to all week. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among our coverage today...

  • Yet another poll is out today, in this case from WaPo/ABC, finding President Biden and Donald Trump tied nationally. (It also shows Vice President Kamala Harris actually leading Trump by 2 points.) That said, the survey also finds some 67% of Americans, including more than half of Democrats, currently believe Biden should end his re-election bid. What should we take from that? And is there reason to believe that Biden can outlast the seemingly never-ending drip-drip-drip of former supporters calling for him to step aside? We discuss.
  • While Biden was busy completing the NATO Summit he has been hosting this week in D.C., Donald Trump was planning a previously unannounced meeting with Hungarian strongman and Christian Nationalist Victor Orban down at his Florida resort. The meeting between the autocrats comes just days after Orban's surprise meeting with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin in Moscow and Chinese strongman Xi Jingping in Beijing.
  • New Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers released on Thursday once again beat expectations and offer still more good news for the American economy and, specifically, inflation in the U.S. Among that good news, the annual inflation rate fell to just 3% as of June with consumer prices actually falling overall from May to June for the first time since May of 2020. The Biden Administration touted its anti-inflationary policies for the good news, including the easing of gas prices and items such as cars, appliances, airfare and groceries.
  • On Tuesday, Oklahoma's long-serving U.S. Senator James Mountain Inhofe died at the age of 89 following a stroke he reportedly suffered on July 4th. The five-term Senator --- who notoriously described global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels as "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people" --- was instrumental in blocking critical climate reforms in Congress over decades, helping to lead the nation and world into the deadly climate crisis we are now facing. He abused his position of power to spread lies and misinformation about climate science for which our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren (including his own) will now pay the price for decades to come.
  • After Inhofe repeatedly and falsely warned that America could not survive without fossil fuels, California has been steadily proving otherwise. The most populous state in the union has already had nearly 100 days this year when renewable energy, largely from solar and wind, has exceeded 100% of the state's entire electricity demand for at least some part of the day. In fact, CA is now producing more solar energy than it is able to use on many days, thanks largely to rooftop solar and a lack of transmission lines and battery storage. It is now producing so much clean renewable energy, in fact, that, so far this year, the state has had to waste more than enough renewable energy to power every home in San Francisco for a year. Transmission capacity and battery storage is now being furiously added. But, at the same time, the state's Public Utilities Commission has enacted wildly controversial new rules for selling back solar energy to the grid from rooftop solar installations via net-metering. We discuss.
  • Finally, as the nation is suffering from the deadly fallout of the record Hurricane Beryl, including massive power outages, flooding and record tornadoes from Texas to Michigan, and suffocates under stifling heat and humidity from the West Coast to the East, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report on all of that and much more, including Republicans in the U.S. House spending their time fighting to ensure that appliances like refrigerators and dishwashers cost Americans much more than they need to...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, 'Driftglass' of 'Pro Left Podcast'...
By Brad Friedman on 7/10/2024 5:26pm PT  

Well, this is all going well. Though, somehow, today's BradCast made me feel moderately better about it all for the moment. (See?! He's a moderate!) Anyway, I'm hoping you'll feel somehow marginally better as well after listening to today's program. [Audio link to full show follows this brief summary.]

We begin with a few noteworthy news items for helpful, or at least interesting, context...

  • A new survey from a Democratic pollster finds that while Donald Trump is currently beating Joe Biden nationally by one point in head-to-head polling, Kamala Harris is actually ahead of Trump by a point in the same poll. A different Dem, who nobody is talking about (for good reason?) also leads Trump in the same survey.
  • Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she stands behind the President, though offered a less than full-throated endorsement for his continuing candidacy on a cable new interview this morning, though she absolutely did not say that Biden should either "Reconsider Decision to Stay in the Race" or "consider dropping out" as New York Times falsely reported before correcting their headline, without explanation, after being called out (and after more than 200 articles focused on Biden's performance in the two weeks since the debate.)

And then we're joined for some much-needed common sense --- and a few similarly much-needed belly laughs (between tears) --- by two of our favorite roundtable guests: HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo, and 'DRIFTGLASS' of The Professional Left Podcast.

You'll never guess what we're discussing today! But we've got a lot of it to talk about, and both Digby and Drifty are on their game.

"I will fight like hell for whoever is the top of the Democratic ticket come November," Driftglass (occasionally known as Bill) tells us. "The threat from Donald Trump outweighs every other consideration. Thus far, for the last three and a half years, [Biden] has governed the country remarkably well, steered through many crises, and done right by me. I think it's time we buckle down and say, 'Look, whoever the Democratic nominee is, is better than Trump.' Period. Full stop."

For her part, Digby concurs with the sentiment, but notes that, although there is no indication yet he plans to do so --- even with support on Capitol Hill for him to continue being lukewarm at best --- if Biden does decide to drop out: "I think that I would really, really like him to do it on the night that Donald Trump is going to accept the nomination for his party, and just stab him as hard in the back on his way out as he can, because you know that Donald Trump would do the same to him."

Now we're talking. And there is much more both insight and snark where that came from today, including discussion of...

  • Wildly unhelpful and misleading corporate media coverage.
  • What we should learn from the election in France on Sunday.
  • Whether he can serve four more years or not, can Biden still actually win in November?
  • Would Harris have a better shot?
  • The disconnect between elected officials, media "experts" and actual Democratic voters on the ground.
  • If Biden were to step down, is there time and process for a reasonably non-chaotic way to transition to a new candidate?
  • Would Digby and Driftglass vote for George W. Bush or even Dick Cheney if one them became the Democratic candidate to take on Donald Trump?
  • And who is this "Johnny Unbeatable" guy? And where should Democrats find him?

All of that and much more on today's unbeatable BradCast...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: LawDork's Chris Geidner on that and the Court's massive 'power grab'; Also: Record-breaking Beryl; Heat records smashed across nation...
By Brad Friedman on 7/9/2024 6:39pm PT  

We're still catching up from last week's earth-shaking news week on today's BradCast, from the Supreme Court to our ever-worsening climate crisis. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

With understandable concerns about Joe Biden's candidacy following his debate performance almost two weeks ago, followed quickly by the July 4th holiday, I'm not sure that Americans yet fully appreciate the way in which our corrupted, extremist, radical, not-conservative-in-the-least U.S. Supreme Court has now upended the American experiment with its horrific, unjustifiable, anti-textualist, anti-originalist 6 to 3 ruling [PDF] last week on the previously unimaginable concept of "Presidential Immunity".

In short, as Justice Sonia Sotomayor detailed in her scathing, 30-page dissent and point-by-point rebuttal and evisceration of the corrupt, activist majority's ridiculous invention of a heretofore unknown "Presidential Immunity Clause" somehow hidden in the U.S. Constitution, the "decision to grant former Presidents criminal immunity reshapes the institution of the Presidency. It makes a mockery of the principle, foundational to our Constitution and system of Government, that no man is above the law."

She describes, on behalf of her fellow liberal Justices, the majority's opinion as "just as bad as it sounds," describing it as "baseless" and "nonsensical", in which "Argument by argument, the majority invests immunity through brute force.” It is "deeply wrong", "illogical" and "unprecedented," she warns, adding that it will "have disastrous consequences for the Presidency and for our democracy".

Her dissent details how the Framers of the Constitution understood the concept of "immunity" quite well when adopting our founding document. They even gave a bit of it to the Legislative Branch, while denying same to the Executive, even as several state Constitutions had, by then, granted it to their own Governors. Nonetheless, "Relying on little more than its own misguided wisdom about the need for 'bold and unhesitating action' by the President, the Court gives former President Trump all the immunity he asked for and more."

In doing so, with this decision and a number of other radical, not-conservative-in-the-least opinions at term's end, the Roberts Court, according to today's guest, has also given itself unheard of power, placing the Judicial Branch above its otherwise Constitutionally co-equal Legislative and Executive Branches.

We're joined today by CHRIS GEIDNER, veteran legal journalist of LawDork to discuss that, and to help decipher whether this ruling is really "as bad as it sounds," as Sotomayor charges.

Is a U.S. President --- be it Donald Trump or anyone else --- at this point, actually now immune from criminal prosecution should he or she orders Seal Team 6 to assassinate a political rival? ("Allowed," says Geidner, according to "the plain text of the ruling.") How about if they order the assassination of Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court? ("It is hard for me to read in the ruling where that is not allowed.") How about if they sell Presidential Pardons for $1 million a pop? Would it really be "unconstitutional" now to bring criminal charges against a former President who asked his Secretary of Defense to "bring in the troops" to "shoot protesters...in the streets of our nation's capital," as Trump's former SecDef Mark Esper alleged that Trump actually did in 2020?

The answer, it turns out --- at least according to the ruling --- is pretty much, yup, he (or she) would now be immune from criminal prosecution for all of those supposedly "official acts". According to Geidner, however, those questions would ultimately need to be answered yet again by the Supreme Court. Depending on what the make-up of that Court looked like and, crucially, which party the President in question belonged to, their decisions might be very different on a case-by-case basis. It's good to be King. But it might be even better to be a Justice in the Supreme Court majority.

"Let's assume we get through this moment in time, relatively no more scathed than we already are," Geidner posits, before predicting, "this is a ruling that is going to fall in on itself over time."

"In the meantime," as Sotomayor notes, "The relationship between the President and the people he serves has shifted irrevocably. In every use of official power, the President is now a king above the law."

"Moving forward, all former Presidents will be cloaked in such immunity," she concludes. "If the occupant of that office misuses official power for personal gain, the criminal law that the rest of us must abide will not provide a backstop."

And finally, for those listeners who haven't yet jumped out of a window, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report after returning from our holiday break, with more deadly climate catastrophes and, yes, more horrific, history making opinions (Yay! More gifts for polluters!) from our fully corrupted, captured, activist and more powerful than ever rightwing SCOTUS majority...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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We're back! And our listeners have strong opinions about where the hell we are and how to move forward to save democracy after corrupt SCOTUS rulings and a disastrous Presidential Debate...
By Brad Friedman on 7/8/2024 5:42pm PT  

So, did anything of note happen over the past week or so while we were taking a holiday break from The BradCast? [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

As I've come to learn, a few things of note did happen. In fact, it was almost like coming back to a different nation today, largely thanks to the corrupt, radical, extremist, not-conservative-in-the-least U.S. Supreme Court's rightwing majority which invented new clauses in the Constitution out of whole cloth to appall the Founders by declaring Presidents to be Kings. I have a feeling we'll be catching up with the remarkable past 10 days or so for quite a while around here.

Today, however, at the top of the show, we first touch on a few of those news items of note from the past week, including, perhaps most notably for the immediate moment in history, remarkable pushback at the polls from the left in France, UK and even Iran against rising Rightwing fascism. Stunning democratic victories in all three nations serve as a valuable lesson in this country, at this time, particularly from France, where a broad coalition on the left came together to issue a surprise, blistering electoral upset to Marine LePen's far-right nationalist party which had been expected to win on Sunday.

That, it turns out, is helpful --- and hopeful --- context as we turn our focus today to the most immediate concern here: legitimate questions about the reelection candidacy of President Biden, one of the most effective (and, yes, progressive) Presidents in U.S. history, following his disastrous debate performance just after we signed off air before our holiday break about ten days ago.

With much of his party seemingly rallying behind him in Congress a week later, even as a number of noteworthy elected Democrats are calling for him to drop out --- and polling that is offering mixed messages --- we open the phones to our listeners today to learn where they are on this matter.

Should Biden stay in or drop out? And, if he drops out, who should replace him and how? All questions of great import given that, no matter who runs against Donald Trump this year, it is far more than a battle between Republicans and Democrats. It is now very clearly a battle between Fascism and Democracy, particularly after the corrupted Court has now horrified the Founders to decree that Presidents are above the law in virtually any action they choose to take while in office.

The Democratic National Convention begins in just over a month. Early voting begins for the November 5 election in about 90 days.

Needless to say, our phone lines lit up. To my surprise --- especially among our mostly progressive, live Southern California listeners --- they were almost all of a very similar mind. Truly. I would not have predicted the response.

You can listen to it in today's very lively BradCast linked below...

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, Pandora, TuneIn, Google, Amazon or our native RSS feed!

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Guest: Randall D. Eliason, former DOJ Chief of Fraud and Public Corruption Section; Also: On edge for landmark 'Chevron Deference' ruling; SCOTUS nixes EPA 'Good Neighbor' pollution rule, for now...
By Brad Friedman on 6/27/2024 4:58pm PT  

It's our last BradCast before time off for travel over the holiday next week. Unlike years past, it looks like SCOTUS will be late in releasing all of their opinions for this term before its normal end this week, so we won't be here to comment immediately on some of the biggest decisions (or on tonight's Presidential Debate) until after our return. But we've got plenty to cover from the corrupted rightwing Court already this week, including with a guest today who suggests the analysis by many legal experts on yesterday's ruling striking down yet another part of federal public corruption law has been somewhat misleading. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among the big SCOTUS decisions still to come, is a case regarding the "Chevron Doctrine" which, for decades, has given legal deference to federal agency experts over judges or corporate challengers, when it comes to the interpretation of federal laws through rules and regulations promulgated by those federal agencies. That could all be about to change, with enormous consequences first for the EPA, but also across the entirety of the federal government --- or, the so-called "Administrative State" as rightwingers have taken to deriding it. We explain the doctrine and some remarkable ironies behind the Court's upcoming ruling, whatever it may be, today.

But the corrupted, stolen and packed rightwing Supreme Court did manage to issue several rulings today. Among them....

  • The Court rejected a multi-billion dollar nationwide opioid settlement with OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma and its owners, the Sackler family.
  • In a clear win for corporate interests, they gutted the SEC's ability to carry out in-house proceedings on civil fraud complaints, requiring federal jury trials instead in an opinion likely to have far-reaching effects on other regulatory agencies as well.
  • SCOTUS also kicked a Presidential election year hot potato down the road for another day by allowing Idaho hospitals, for now, to perform emergency abortions under federal law, even though the procedure is barred under state law.
  • And, as we also discuss with Desi, the High Court blocked, for now, to the EPA's "Good Neighbor" rule which limited air pollution from power plants and other facilities that pollute downwind states. While the regulation has already substantially lowered pollution --- and saved lives --- in the states where it is in place, the Court prevented the EPA from enforcing it until after lower court challenges by largely Republican-controlled states and several industries are completed.

NEXT... On yesterday's show we critically covered the Wednesday SCOTUS ruling in Snyder v. U.S. [PDF], an opinion which overturned the conviction and 21-month prison sentence of an Indiana Mayor who received a $13,000 check from a company just two weeks after his city had granted them a contract worth more than a million dollars. The Court's rightwingers determined that the federal statute in question only applies to out-and-out bribery cases, where a quid pro quo was agreed upon before a public action. After-the-fact "gratuities", the Court's six Republican-appointees ruled, are apparently just fine. Or, at least, not unlawful under their reading of the federal statute in question.

While many legal analysts and experts have derided the ruling since it was issued on Wednesday, our guest today, RANDALL D. ELIASON, former chief of the Fraud and Public Corruption Section at the U.S. Attorney's Office in D.C., now a white-collar criminal law professor at George Washington University Law School, had a different take that he posted to Twitter yesterday: "I have no problem with the Snyder decision, that 18 USC §666 covers only bribes and not gratuities. I think that makes sense."

Really? Why? Today Eliason joins us to explain why the law --- which, as Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson notes in her dissent with the Court's other liberals, "imposes federal criminal penalties on agents of those entities who 'corruptly' solicit, accept, or agree to accept payments 'intending to be influenced or rewarded'" --- can arguably be interpreted as applying onlyto before-the-fact bribes, as opposed to after-the-fact "gratuities", as they are described by the Court's majority.

"I'm not happy about the outcome," Eliason concedes today. "You're right that there's been a pattern of decisions over the last more than a decade narrowing public corruption laws, and I've been critical of a lot of them. And I've been on your program being critical of a number of them in the past."

"So I'm not happy about the outcome. But I don't think the majority is being unreasonable in this particular decision. Because what this decision is about is not whether the conduct of the Mayor is a good thing, or whether it should be prohibited. It's just about the language in this particular criminal statute that Congress drafted. And it's really a badly drafted statute. It's poorly written. It's confusing. And even though the lower court in this case had upheld his conviction, several other federal courts of appeals had said the same thing, that this law does not apply to gratuities, and agreed with Snyder."

He explains that there is "a real legal distinction between a bribery and a gratuity", and that other federal statutes prohibit them both. But in this case, §666 is less than perfectly clear. And, when there is a "tie" in legal interpretation, the tie is supposed to go to the defendant who, the Court noted, can still be held accountable for accepting a gratuity under state and local laws.

"You see a lot of headlines in the wake of this decision: 'Supreme Court says bribery is okay.' No, the whole point was it wasn't bribery. It was a gratuity, which is something far less serious. And the issue was does this particular statute cover this kind of gratuity? The answer is no. I think, based on the way that statute is written, it's a reasonable outcome."

While I'm not sure I fully agree --- and even he notes that Justice Jackson makes several good arguments in her dissent --- Eliason's expertise and insight into the laws in question shed welcome light on this otherwise seemingly corrupt ruling.

On a related note, we also discuss how all of this might apply to the arguable millions of dollars in "gratuities" that members of SCOTUS, like Clarence Thomas, have accepted over the years and whether that might play into the Court majority's opinion. And how Congress, had they not become completely dysfunctional in recent years, could easily clarify this issue through simple legislation.

On one other matter before we finish our conversation with Eliason today, he offers his thoughts on SCOTUS' upcoming Fischer decision regarding whether the statute used to charge hundreds of January 6 defendants --- including Donald Trump --- with "obstruction of an official proceeding" may be struck down by the Court. Eliason is "pessimistic" about what is likely to happen, though believes that even if the Court strikes it down for use against many of those charged for the J6 insurrection, that "there's a good chance that the charges against Trump would still survive."

FINALLY... Before we disappear for the next week, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest 'Green News Report', with more thoughts on the imperiled Chevron Deference Doctrine; Climate disaster upon climate disaster this week for a New Mexico town; and some very good news indeed for President Biden's job-creating climate law...

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Noteworthy election results from NY, CO, UT, SC; SCOTUS opinions on public corruption, social media; More long-overdue pardons by Biden...
By Brad Friedman on 6/26/2024 6:56pm PT  

Stand by for news --- some good-ish, some not-ish --- on today's BradCast! [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

First up today, some noteworthy results from yesterday's primary elections. Among a bunch of races covered today from four different states...

  • Progressive New York "Squad" member Rep. Jamaal Bowman was soundly defeated in his 16th District U.S. House primary race by longtime local Democratic official George Latimer in what was, notoriously, the most expensive House primary ever run. The cost of the contest was largely due to the American Israeli Political Affairs Conference (AIPAC)'s investment of millions of dollars to defeat Bowman, who, among other sins, described Israel's war in Gaza as a genocide. That said, as many pointed out before Tuesday and as we detail today, Bowman, as a movement progressive, was likely to have lost this race anyway in a very diverse "normie Dem" district, even without the flood of AIPAC money.
  • Far-right Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert's carpetbagging jump from her right-leaning, but swingy-ish 3rd District to the farther right 4th district --- after barely winning in the 3rd in 2022 by just a few hundred votes --- paid off as she managed to beat off three other Republicans to win the GOP nomination in the new district on Tuesday and, with it, most likely, another term in Congress this November.
  • U.S. Rep. John Curtis, a not-insane, Mitt Romney-like, pro-climate action Republican from Utah, defeated a Trump-endorsed opponent to win the GOP nomination to fill the seat being vacated by the retiring Romney in the very red, but not completely Trumpy state this November.
  • Another Trump-endorsed Republican lost, if narrowly, on Tuesday to Republican Sheri Biggs in South Carolina's primary runoff election for the U.S. House in the state's solidly red 3rd Congressional District.

And, some noteworthy news today from the corrupted U.S. Supreme Court, where a number of still-outstanding decisions remain, suggesting they may still be releasing opinions after the usual end of term in June, after we'll be on break over the Independence Day holiday week. Among the still-unreleased opinions are two that relate to criminal accountability for Donald Trump. It's up to you if you want to check out the (seemingly encouraging) abortion-related opinion that the Court appears to have accidentally released prematurely on their website for a few minutes on Wednesday morning. Beyond that, the two they meant to release today include...

  • A seemingly absurd finding that federal law does not prevent payoffs by private parties to public officials after an official has done something --- such as award a multimillionaire contract --- to the private party. The case overturns a conviction against an Indiana Mayor who received $13,000 after fixing the bidding process to award a million-dollar contract to a local trucking company. A payoff, or an agreement for one before such the contract was awarded, in a direct quid pro quo, would be considered unlawful bribery. But a payoff after the action in question, no matter how much, is considered a "gratuity" that, the Court ruled [PDF] in a 6 to 3 partisan decision today, is not barred by federal law. State and local jurisdictions may still prosecute such payoffs under their own laws, however, if they wish.
  • In a slightly more encouraging 6 to 3 ruling [PDF] today --- with three Republican-appointed Justices joining all three Liberals in the majority opinion --- the Court sided with the Biden Administration to reject claims by several Republican states and private plaintiffs that federal officials were unconstitutionally forcing social media sites to remove posts by so-called conservatives. The Court ruled that Plaintiffs had no standing here, since they all failed to demonstrate they faced any Constitutional harms by actions taken by federal officials --- in both the Trump and Biden Administrations --- to advise social media companies like Twitter and Facebook about potentially dangerous or misleading posts regarding COVID-19, election integrity and more.

And finally, on his HBO show last week, Bill Maher lauded Maryland's Democratic Governor Wes Moore for recently announced pardons to tens of thousands convicted over the years under state marijuana laws that have since been lifted. Maher then lamented how sad it was that Joe Biden wasn't smart enough to do the same thing at the federal level...even though Biden did exactly that two years ago when he also encouraged state Governors like Moore to do the same, as most marijuana convictions are at the state level. Of course, we covered both Biden and Moore's pardons as they happened. But, since Maher apparently never heard about it, I also want to make sure that at least you know about the new set of pardons issued today by the Biden White House...

  • As the military news outlet Task & Purpose reports: "U.S. troops who were convicted under a now-defunct military law that targeted gay service members will receive formal pardons, the White House announced Wednesday." The pardons will apply to thousands of LGBTQI+ troops who were discharged, going back to 1951, for military rules that have since been removed and/or found unconstitutional. Said President Biden in a statement: "Today, I am righting an historic wrong by using my clemency authority to pardon many former service members who were convicted simply for being themselves." I hope someone tells Bill Maher before he misinforms millions yet again...

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Guest: Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel; Also: VA's far-right Rep. Good vows to block certification of apparent narrow primary loss...
By Brad Friedman on 6/25/2024 6:36pm PT  

Quite literally, as I signed off at the end of yesterday's show, a ton of alerts popped up on my iPhone with some pretty big and surprising news. News that turns out to be far more complex and/or nuanced than many seem to appreciate. So, that's where we pick things up on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

BUT FIRST... As voters headed to the polls today in New York, Colorado, Utah and South Carolina for the last group of Congressional Primary Elections before next month's Republican National Convention, we're still keeping our eyes on a primary election from last week in Virginia.

Far-right Republican Rep. Bob Good, Chair of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, is currently just about 375 votes, out of more than 62,500 tallied, behind the even farther-right Republican state Sen. John McGuire in the GOP primary contest in VA's 16th Congressional District. With a margin that slim --- less than 1% --- whoever is certified next week as the winner of the currently "too close to call" race has every right to seek a recount. But Good --- who was opposed in the race by both Donald Trump and former Speaker Kevin McCarthy for various offenses against them --- is already on the offensive, charging that "this race cannot and must not be certified." He is claiming (without evidence, to date) "inappropriate activity" related to drop box voting in Lynchburg City, the largest in the district, that should prevent all votes in the city from being certified. That, even before a recount, apparently.

Good's own colleagues (all largely 2020 election deniers themselves!) appear to be laughing at him. Or worse. "No one is buying it," one House Republican told Axios. "What a loser," said another. "F**k Bob Good," said still another. But a Republican-turned-independent who lost to Good in 2020 may have best summed things up: "I don't find it surprising that an election between an election denier and an election denier would end with one of them denying the election was fair based on conspiracy theories."

In any event, we'll be watching and doing our best to ensure a fair, transparent recount, hopefully by hand and overseen by the public. We'll also be popping a fair amount of popcorn as it all plays out.

THEN... News broke last night that WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange had, at long last, struck a plea deal with the U.S. Dept. of Justice after years in a British maximum security prison fighting extradition to the U.S. and, before that, seeking asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Assange was facing charges filed in 2019 by Donald Trump's DoJ related to the release, beginning in 2010, of a trove of stolen classified documents, many of which related to alleged war crimes carried out by the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan. But many of the documents were related to other things that were less than criminal or even newsworthy. And some, in fact, put a number of people in grave danger.

Moreover, as our guest --- a journalist who wrote a number of articles based on WikiLeaks documents herself --- details today, many of the documents were obtained via unlawful hacking that Assange himself appears to have participated in. Other documents published by WikiLeaks, such as a trove of emails from the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton's Campaign Chair, are believed to have been hacked by Russia and given to WikiLeaks for publication before the 2016 Presidential election with dubious or no news value whatsoever.

Still, Assange and his supporters have maintained that WikiLeaks is a journalism outfit and, as a journalist, he can't be held to account under U.S. law for simply publishing documents in the public's interest, even classified or stolen ones --- at least if he was not involved in the theft.

But there is far more to the story, as detailed on today's program by longtime, independent national security journalist MARCY WHEELER of EmptyWheel.net. As of airtime, the plea agreement detailing the single charge he agreed to plead guilty to --- reportedly related to the Espionage Act --- had not been released. But Wheeler attempts to clear up some of what she characterizes as propaganda that has long been circulated by Assange's supporters.

"His hacking into other countries started before he reached out to Chelsea Manning," the military intelligence analyst who turned over reams of documents to WikiLeaks, Wheeler tells me. Among the documents from Manning was the famous "Collateral Murder" video, revealing U.S. helicopter pilots gunning down 11 people in Iraq, including 2 Reuters journalists. Wheeler charges that Assange "tried to help Chelsea Manning break a password. Then the hacking conspiracy continued through 2016. In other words, the attempt to get other people to hack things. It was a larger hacking conspiracy that other people pled guilty to and went to jail for." All decidedly not the behavior of an actual journalist, she says.

She details the "very, very deliberate effort on the part of Wikileaks to hide the fact that the hacking conspiracy started before, and continued long after, the Chelsea Manning stuff," and notes, by way of another example, that, "in 2015, WikiLeaks helped Edward Snowden [a national security whistleblower] flee to Russia."

"That's not something journalists do," Wheeler asserts. "You might think it's honorable or heroic, but that's not something journalists ever do."

Of course, if the charge against Assange relates only to journalistic activity, but not hacking, then, Wheeler believes, it would be a serious threat to press freedoms, "this precedent of somebody being prosecuted for publishing something, especially if they've taken the hacking part away entirely."

Wheeler was "reasonably comfortable" if hacking was tied to the charges against Assange, "but once you take the hacking away, yeah, it is a terrible precedent we should all be worried about."

"Regardless of how much you hate Julian Assange, or regardless of whether you think what he did was newsworthy, just the precedent is a worrying precedent," she warns. "That may be what we're left with going forward."

UPDATE 6/26/2024: With the plea agreement [PDF] now released, Wheeler has a detailed article on the "Damaging Precedent of the Julian Assange Espionage Guilty Plea" that, as she explains, fails to focus "on the alleged hacking, which always distinguished Assange from journalists". She notes, "This plea could have been written in a way that limited the damage of the precedent. For reasons we have yet to discover (but which may have been dictated by Assange’s side, not DOJ’s), it was not.":

It's over. Both sides lost. Chelsea Manning especially lost, given the additional time she spent in jail resisting a subpoena for testimony that would never be used at trial.

The question remains how much damage this loss for both sides will do in the future.

FINALLY... Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with Climate Change Gone Wild as summer begins, with disastrous record flooding in the Upper Midwest compounding record heat and wildfires already over much of the country. And, with hurricane season heating up, FEMA warns of a shortfall in disaster funding if Congress doesn't act quickly...

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Guest: Matt Gertz of Media Matters; Also: Summer is just days old, but climate change is wreaking brutal, deadly, expensive consequences...
By Brad Friedman on 6/24/2024 5:49pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: Either Trump wins or the nation gets it, apparently. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

For months now, the Republican propaganda outlet known as Fox "News" has been leading the rest of the rightwing echosphere in misleading the public about this year's election. To listen to their 24/7 lockstep message, it is a metaphysical impossibility that Donald Trump could lose this November. If he does, it can only be because Democrats have stolen the election "again", as "they did in 2020."

While its hosts almost certainly know better, they have been characterizing Joe Biden as so old and feeble --- and Trump so wildly popular --- that there can only be one legitimate outcome this year: a Trump victory. A Trump landslide, in fact. Anything short of that is, as Fox is dangerously grooming its brain-poisoned viewers to believe, due to massive fraud carried out by Democrats.

We're joined today by MATT GERTZ, longtime Senior Fellow at Media Matters for America, to discuss his research --- detailed in an op-ed last week --- on how "Fox News is helping Trump plan another Jan. 6-style assault on democracy."

"If you look at the last two presidential elections --- in 2016 Donald Trump won, in 2020 Donald Trump lost --- the one thing that they have in common is that in both cases, Donald Trump claimed to have been the victim of massive election fraud," Gertz tells me today. "He always does this. It is the most predictable thing in politics, that Donald Trump will claim he is the victim of election fraud with no evidence to that effect." But now, of course, Fox "News" is joining in on the scam and the "guard rails" that were in place in 2020 in the Republican Party are all now all but gone, warns Gertz.

"What Fox News, and the rightwing media more broadly, has been doing over the past several years, is prime their audiences to assume that any election that doesn't end with a massive Trump victory is the result of illegitimate votes being cast, that it is a rigged election against Donald Trump and they should respond with all possible action to prevent Joe Biden from being allowed to remain in office if he wins."

"What's different now is that they know what the result can be," charges Gertz. "They know that all of these claims about election fraud incite their viewers, that it leads them to even march upon the Capitol to try to prevent the peaceful transition of power. And they're doing it anyway."

I have been wondering aloud of late which outcome concerns me the most, a Trump victory or a Trump loss. It might be a toss-up right about now...

THEN... We've been covering the oppressive heat dome across much of the nation --- and elsewhere in the world --- for some time now. Last week, we added wildfires in several states to the mix, along with the first named storm of hurricane season spinning quickly up before slamming Mexico and the southern coast of Texas. Now we can add massive flooding to the mix, as several states in the Upper Midwest --- where South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota meet --- inundated over the weekend with as much as eight times their typical rain fall for this part of the year. In one town, the flood gauge was submerged!

Many of those states are run by Republican Governors who are also climate change denialists, reminding us, yet again, that the stakes this November could not be higher, as Trump has vowed to rollback all of the landmark climate achievements of the current President.

In related news, as temperature records are being shattered around the globe, at least 1,300 pilgrims at the annual Hajj in the Saudi Arabia's city of Mecca died from heat stroke as temperatures climbed above 124 degrees Fahrenheit. And, oddly enough, back here in California, on the central and northern coast, unseasonably cold ocean temps --- due to a bizarre weather pattern from Oregon --- have led officials to issue warnings to beach goers to stay out of the water for any length of time to avoid hypothermia, even as temperatures inland climbed over 100 degrees this weekend. More madness and chaos in our climate changed world...

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Our global air pollution and climate crisis and what we can do about it; Also: Biden now leads in national Fox 'News' polling; Trump Media stock tanking again; CNN debate rules, participants set...
By Brad Friedman on 6/20/2024 6:21pm PT  

Given the rarity of the event, and what it said to portend, we're taking a few lessons, and warnings, from Lakota legend on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Last week, it was reported that a white buffalo calf was discovered to have been born among thousands of brown bison in Yellowstone National Park. That is never before known to have happened. And though no one is able to explain exactly how it did --- the calf is white, with a black nose, eyes and hooves, as opposed to albino, in which case the eyes would be pink --- its birth, in native American lore, is said to be akin to the second coming of Christ, according to Chief Arvol Looking Horse, the spiritual leader of the Lakota, Dakota and the Nakota Oyate in South Dakota. He is also the 19th keeper of the sacred White Buffalo Calf Woman Pipe and Bundle. (All explained, as well as we can, on today's show.)

The birth of the rare white buffalo, according to Lakota prophecy, portends better times. That's the good news. It also is said to serve as a warning that more must be done to protect the earth and its inhabitants. We take both that encouraging news and its accompany warning to heart on today's program.

To that end, a few of the stories/warnings we cover on today's show...

  • A new study finds nearly 2,000 children under five are now dying every day from air pollution. Yes, you read that correctly! That, and a number of other alarming new studies we've reported on in recent weeks --- such as the 50,000 Californians killed by chronic exposure to wildfire smoke from 2008 to 2018, and the $250 billion in climate and health benefits thanks to wind and solar over four years amid Joe Biden's renewable energy boom --- underscore the critical, life and death stakes of this year's Presidential election.
  • If all of that isn't warning enough, perhaps the oppressive heat wave across much of the nation today --- and for at least the next week --- may help Americans appreciate the importance of this coming election, as Donald Trump has vowed to his fossil fuel industry donors that he will reverse all of President Biden's unprecedented, landmark climate achievements.
  • Some good polling news today --- from Fox "News"(!) --- for Joe Biden, following Trump's 34 felony convictions last month in New York related to his rigging of the 2016 election with hush-money payments to a porn star. In short, Biden now narrowly leads Trump in a head-to-head contest, according to Fox' latest national survey, by 2 points, 50% to 48%. There are a whole lot of caveats on this, but the more noteworthy news is that the new numbers represent a 3-point swing in Biden's direction since Fox' last national survey in May, and a 7-point swing since March. There is other news of note from this poll, including that Biden also now tops Trump when polling is expanded to include Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Jill Stein and Cornel West, who will be on the Presidential ballot in a number of states as well this November.
  • The stock price for former President's latest grift is tanking again. Bigly. The company known as Trump Media and Technology Group, which has just one wildly money-losing venture (his failing Truth Social site) has tanked in market value an astonishing 50% since his felony convictions last month. On Thursday alone the stock price, which trades as "DJT", plummeted by more than 14.5%, after skidding by about 35% over the past week. A lot of MAGA dupes dumb enough to invest in this loser have lost a whole lotta money this month.
  • Next Thursday's first 2024 President Debate is now set, according to CNN. It will be a two-man affair between Trump and Biden only, with RFK, Jr. (and the others) failing to meet the polling and ballot criteria set by CNN. The debate will be 90 minutes long, will have no studio audience, and the participants microphones will be turned off when it is not their turn to speak. It will be moderated by CNN's Jake Tapper and Dana Bash...and we wish them well.
  • Finally, as record wildfires, heat waves and the first named storm of this year's hurricane season explode across the nation (and world), Desi Doyen is here with our latest Green News Report. On all of that, and the even more devastating impacts of our quickly worsening climate crisis...

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Guest: Pulitzer Prize biz reporter, Michael Hiltzik; Also: NM fires; 'Alberto' in the Gulf; VA results; LA mandates Ten Commandments in schools...
By Brad Friedman on 6/19/2024 6:24pm PT  

Today on The BradCast we try and nip another completely false, outrageous rightwing Zombie Lie in the bud before it eats too many brains and becomes canon in the Wingnut Multiverse. Wish us luck. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

But first, a few news items today...

  • Extreme, climate change-fueled weather is now pretty much just exploding everywhere. Today, the two latest chapters: a pair of deadly wildfires in New Mexico and "A" is for "Alberto", the first named storm of what is expected to be an exceptionally busy and intense hurricane season given the unprecedented record warmth of ocean waters. This particular storm, in the Gulf, appears to be heading toward Mexico, though its already grazing parts of Texas with a ton of water.
  • Tuesday's Congressional Primary elections in Virginia, Oklahoma and Georgia appear to have gone off smoothly enough for now, with the biggest story coming out of Virginia in the Republican primary for the 5th U.S. House District. Far-right Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Bob Good was thought to be all but done for, as he was targeted by both Donald Trump (because Good dared to support DeSantis in the Presidential Primary) and former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (because Good was one of eight Republicans who voted him out of the job earlier this year.) An even farther Right, well-funded state Senator by the name of John McGuire was set to easily unseat Good, and still might. But, as of airtime, there are just 321 votes between them out of more than 62,000 tallied to date. Counting of late mail-in will resume tomorrow between the two election deniers following a break for today's Juneteenth federal holiday.
  • And, down in Louisiana today, far-right lawmakers and the state's new far-right Governor Jeff Landry have decided they don't care much for the U.S. Constitution's establishment clause, and have decided to mandate that the Ten Commandments must be posted in every public elementary, middle school, high school and college classroom in the state. That'll show those U.S. Constitution loving heathens! The effort is obviously an attempt to bring the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court in hopes that its corrupted rightwing majority will overturn decades of precedent respecting the separation of church and state. And I bet they will.

THEN... Last September, California's Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a new state law to increase the minimum wage for fast food workers at national companies with more than 60 stores from $16/hour to $20/hour. Before it even took effect on April 1 this year, Rupert Murdoch's rightwing media outlets (Wall Street Journal, NY Post, Fox "News") were working overtime in cahoots with an outfit calling itself the California Business and Industrial Alliance (CABIA) to claim that thousands of fast food jobs had already been cut after Newsom signed the bill into law.

A UCLA Economics Professor by the name of Lee Ohanian either went along with it or fell for it, detailing the supposed massive job loss in an article at the right-leaning policy think-tank called the Hoover Institution, part of Stanford University, citing WSJ's misleading employment statistics. It all offered a nice academic patina to the (false) claim that nearly 10,000 fast food workers had been laid off between last September and January, thanks to Newsom and California's Marxist policies.

CABIA then happily cited the "Hoover Institution" in a full-page advertisement in USA Today earlier this month, a mock obituary declaring "In Memoriam: Victims of Newsom's Minimum Wage". The ad cites Hoover for its claim that "nearly 10,000 fast-food jobs" were lost "after $20 minimum wage signed last fall." The ad details all the hard times for poor McDonald's, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Subway, Rubio's California Grill, and about half a dozen others. All victims of California's impossible idea that people who work should receive a living wage in exchange.

Turns out, as our guest today, Pulitzer Prize-winning business journalist and author MICHAEL HILTZIK reports at the L.A. Times, the claim, the statistics used and the entire argument put forth by WSJ, NY Post, Fox "News", CABIA and Hoover is all "baloney, sliced thick." And Hiltzik has the receipts from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Federal Reserve to prove it.

In fact, Hiltzik details, as it turns out, fast food employment actually went up from last September to this past January --- when using seasonally adjusted figures --- and even continued to go up after the law took effect on April 1, with employment in the sector outpacing April of 2023 (apples to apples!) by nearly 7,000 jobs.

"What we're dealing with here is the misuse of employment figures by essentially using non-seasonally adjusted figures, rather than what CABIA and the Wall Street Journal should be using, which is seasonally-adjusted," Hiltzik tells me, describing the scam. "When you have an industry in which employment fluctuates during the year for seasonal reasons, you have to use seasonally-adjusted figures. That's the case with fast food restaurants. Everyone in the restaurant industry knows this. Employment in restaurants peaks in September, year after year after year. You have to compare each month to the same month in other years, and that's why the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that, in fact, employment in the sector in California went up compared to the same earlier period."

"Any economist knows that you absolutely must use seasonally-adjusted figures. The Wall Street Journal didn't seem to know this, even though they're supposed to be experts in finance and the economy," he scoffs.

Hiltzik describes the Murdoch/CABIA/Hoover sleight-of-hand as "fabricated" and "false", and we discuss why it's happening --- an has been nationalized --- in the first place. He also debunks the lie that Rubio's Grill has had to close 48 stores across the state thanks to CA's new leftist law. (Spoiler: It was private equity, not the $20 min. wage, that dunnit.)

For the record, though Ohanian, the UCLA professor who laundered the Journal's purposely misleading numbers at the Hoover Institution, admitted to Hiltzik that he got it wrong, his April 24, 2024 article is still posted there without correction or retraction...

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Also: Lake loses again in AZ; Trump loses again in NY; MD Guv pardons 175k for pot; Biden goes on offensive against 'liar and fraud' opponent...
By Brad Friedman on 6/18/2024 6:24pm PT  

There are just 140 days until the November 5 General Elections. Threats against them by adversaries both foreign and domestic are simmering and/or growing. We discuss some of them --- and much more --- on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among our stories today...

  • Kari Lake loses yet again. This time, it's the Arizona state Court of Appeals which has, again, rejected her claims that the 2022 gubernatorial election was stolen from her when she lost it by some 17,000 votes to Democrat Katie Hobbs.
  • Unexplained mass texts, warning of voter intimidation, falsely suggesting they were sent by the Spartanburg County Elections Office during South Carolina's down-ballot primaries last week, should serve as a warning for this November's elections.
  • U.S. officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence are reportedly sending their own warnings, privately, to candidates in the U.S. who, they say, are being targeted with disinformation campaigns by foreign adversaries, including Russia, China and Iran.
  • And, in what should serve as yet another warning before November, a pro-Kremlin hacker group, said to be closely allied with Russia's intelligence services, reportedly took down the websites of a number of political parties and other institutions on the first day of voting in Europe's recent parliamentary elections.
  • New York's highest court on Tuesday rejected an appeal by Donald Trump to lift the gag order barring him from attacking witnesses, jurors and the family members of prosecutors or the judge in the hush money/election interference case in which the disgraced former President was recently found guilty of 34 criminal felonies.
  • And, speaking of, the Biden-Harris Campaign is finally using Trump's shameful court losses --- for both felony crimes and civil liabilities --- against him, in an aggressive television ad and mass emails to supporters taking him to task as a "convicted felon" as well as "a liar and a fraud". Of course, even now, Team Biden will have to overcome ridiculous reporting on the effort by the New York Times, whose headline yesterday (until it was changed) read "Biden Campaign Ad Paints Trump as a Felon". Um...."paints" him as a felon?! He is a felon!
  • After telling us for months that President Biden is so mentally debilitated that "he can't string two sentences together," Donald Trump supporters like Sean Hannity at Fox "News" are now working overtime to try and lower expectations for him in advance of next week's first Presidential debate.
  • Maryland's Democratic Governor Wes Moore on Monday pardoned about 175,000 convictions related to marijuana and paraphernalia possession over the years. The long-overdue pardons, following the state's full legalization of marijuana last year, will help tens of thousands of Black and Brown people who were disproportionately charged and convicted over the many decades of our failed, frequently racist "war on drugs". Moore's action follows President Biden's 2022 mass pardon of thousands charged under federal marijuana law and his request to state Governors to take similar action given that most cannabis related crimes were brought under state law.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with news on hundreds of millions in the U.S. now (or soon) facing record heat from the Midwest to the East Coast and an early wildfire season out West; Similarly oppressive heat has been bearing down from Greece to the Middle East; Calgary is facing a serious water crisis in Canada; France's nukes are being shut down by cheaper renewable energy sources like wind and solar; And a major rail company must cough up some $400 million for unlawful trespass against a native American tribe...

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Guest: Steve Herman, Voice of America's former WH Bureau Chief, now Chief Nat'l Correspondent, on pulling back 'The White House Curtain'; Also: Wildfires explode in CA; Israeli war cabinet falls apart...
By Brad Friedman on 6/17/2024 6:36pm PT  

Hey, we beat COVID again over the weekend! So, we're back on today's BradCast and with a fearless in-studio guest for that matter! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Very quickly, at top of show, an update on our seemingly never-ending personal COVID nightmares. (Yup, I got it again last week, but kicked it by showtime today! And I ain't the only one.); A bit of breaking news on a spate of wildfires breaking out around Southern (and Northern) California; And some news on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wartime coalition "unity" cabinet falling apart, even as the military seems to turn on the PM, who has reportedly undermined ceasefire and hostage release negotiations "due to political considerations" and his need to stay in power to avoid pending criminal charges.

THEN, we are joined in-studio by veteran journalist STEVE HERMAN of the non-profit, non-partisan, independent, government-funded media outlet known as Voice of America. After spending nearly three decades as an overseas bureau chief for VOA, mostly in Asia, Herman moved back stateside to become White House Bureau Chief during the four years of the Trump Administration and first eight months of Biden's. Now, he has a brand new book detailing insider observations and lessons from those years, titled Behind the White House Curtain: A Senior Journalist's Story of Covering the President --- and Why It Matters.

While I just got over my latest bout with COVID this past weekend, I was somewhat concerned that Herman might not want to join me in person in a small radio studio for an hour. Then I remembered that he was among the very first civilians to enter the Fukushima Nuclear Plant after its 2011 meltdown and would later go on to serve in the cramped, poorly ventilated basement confines with the White House Press Corps during Trump's mishandling of the worse pandemic in 100 years. So, yeah, he doesn't seem easily shaken.

Among the many topics of my discussion with Herman today, based on details, stories and history lessons from his fascinating new book...

  • Details on working as a radio pool reporter during critical historic events during the Trump presidency.
  • That time Donald Trump tested positive for COVID, didn't tell the public (or the press corps working in close quarters with him) for four days, became gravely ill, and the White House lied about all of it.
  • Which was more unnerving? Walking into the nuclear plant at Fukushima just after a meltdown, or showing up each day in the White House during the worst of COVID, with a President who routinely violated WH safety protocols himself?
  • How --- and why --- the Trump Administration tried to capture VOA as a propaganda tool (the agency is prohibited, by law, from engaging in such practices and must remain independent), and how Herman was specifically targeted with a "dossier" compiled by Trump's henchmen at VOA's parent agency, the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM).
  • Herman discusses that time he was banned from Mike Pence's Air Force Two after revealing that the Vice President was told in advance of his maskless visit to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota that masking was mandatory under the legendary health facilities house rules.
  • The need for skepticism of government officials by journalists, and how should be the role of WH correspondents to not only report what officials say, but to report on when and how they are not telling the truth to the American public.
  • The differences in the pressures facing journalists at commercial news outlets reporting on the White House, versus that of non-commercial new organizations like VOA.

To give you a quick taste of the conversation today: On the Trump Administration's failed effort to capture Voice of America as a MAGA outlet, Herman tells me "...he was just looking for a head on a pike...And I would have been a good head on a pike. There was a perception that Voice of America was not stepping in line with the Trump Administration. That I and others were guilty of anti-Trump bias, allegedly. And anytime anyone has said that, whether they think I'm anti-Trump or anti-Biden or anti-whoever, go look at the stories we write, and show me where the bias is."

Of course, having the President of the United States himself furious at Voice of America for not being a propaganda outlet, kinda proves the point that, as Herman explains in his fascinating book, VOA, for some eight decades now has not served as a mouthpiece for any particular Presidential Administration. It has proven itself over and again to be a service that its stake holders --- the people of the U.S. whose Government funds it, even as VOA is barred from broadcasting here --- should be proud of. It has long served as a trusted source of news to uncountable millions across the globe in dozens of countries and languages where the service has played a critical role in countering disinformation --- either foreign or domestic --- since the outlets founding in 1942...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Political writer Amanda Marcotte; Also: Dems outperform in OH U.S. House Special Election; Brad gets COVID again goddammit...
By Brad Friedman on 6/13/2024 6:17pm PT  

Today's BradCast summary may be necessarily (or mercifully, depending on how you look at it) brief. As noted here yesterday, I've got COVID again. Did a show today anyway. For good or ill. There's just too much going on and standing down yesterday only made me feel like we were falling even farther behind. Plus, big news today out of SCOTUS. So bear with my gravelly, congested voice as we catch up with a few of things on today's show. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

Among those things..,.

  • Tuesday's down-ballot primary elections in Maine, Nevada, North Dakota and South Carolina didn't offer many surprises or problems, so far, for voters or tabulation. But the Special Election for the U.S. House in Ohio's otherwise deeply red 16th Congressional District was certainly of note. The Democratic candidate, Michael Kripchak, lost the race to Republican Michael Rulli, as expected. But, continuing a pattern we've seen quite a bit of on Election Days since 2020, the Democrat wildly over-performed expectations by some 20 points! It's another good reminder to take nothing for granted this year, with the November 5th General Election Day now less than 150 days away!
  • The packed and corrupted U.S. Supreme Court did (mostly) the right thing for a happy change today. In an opinion [PDF] written by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the Court unanimously shut down a ridiculous case brought by legal forum-shopping anti-abortion zealots in Texas seeking a nationwide ban on the use of Mifepristone, the most popular and safest method of abortion in the U.S. The challenge, based on false claims about the drug, was rejected 9 to 0 due to a lack of standing by the crackpot doctors who brought the case (with the help of a rightwing extremist legal mill, in a lower court jurisdiction where they were guaranteed to get a favorable finding from Trump-appointed anti-abortion activist judge, Mathew Kasmaryk.) Kavanaugh's ruling, however, left the door open for future challenges by other plaintiffs to the FDA's 20-year old approval of the drug. The executive agency has repeatedly found Mifepristone --- used in about two-thirds of abortion in the U.S. last year --- to be extraordinarily safe and effective.
  • Then, we're joined by AMANDA MARCOTTE, Senior Political Writer at Salon and author of Troll Nation: How the Right Became Trump-Worshipping Monsters Set On Rat-F*cking Liberals, America, and Truth Itself. We discuss today's SCOTUS ruling and a related matter which she recently wrote about at Salon, which also highlights the corrupt anti-abortion Texas-to-SCOTUS legal activist pipeline. This case, like the Mifepristone case, is being brought, specifically, in Kasmaryk's North Texas federal court, where he is the only judge overseeing cases filed there. It involves two University of Austin professors, Daniel Bonevac and John Hatfield, who are plaintiffs in a suit challenging Nixon-era federal law that prevents them from mistreating people, women in particular, who don't behave to the professors' liking. They are claiming a violation of their Free Speech Rights in federal laws that prevent them from flunking female students who go out of state to obtain abortions or block them from firing teaching assistants who have had one or forces them to consider the hiring of employees who may be transgendered. It is all of a piece, as Marcotte explains, with the corrupt SCOTUS decision that overturned 50 years of legal precedent for the Constitutional right to abortion back in 2022, and the subsequent total abortion ban in the Lone Star State. As Marcotte identifies, this and a number of other cases, are being brought by the same far-right interests, including former Texas Solicitor General and Federalist Society activist Jonathan Mitchell and legal mill outfits packed with former (and future?) Trump staffers.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for a Brad-free edition of Green News Report! With a warning for upcoming extreme heat across much of the country; seemingly unceasing extreme rainfall in Florida; a new law adopted by the New York legislature to hold Big Oil accountable for climate damage; and hundreds of billions of dollars in health benefits now being realized thanks to President Biden's renewable energy boom...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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What goes around comes around. Again...
By Brad Friedman on 6/12/2024 1:48pm PT  

Our friend and occasional BradCast guest host Nicole Sandler had this to say on the site still known as Twitter today...

My reply...

Yup. I tested positive today as well. She in AZ. Me in CA. Guess something's going around.

In my case, in any event, it is, so far, pretty mild. I started fading very suddenly and quickly mid-show yesterday. Fatigue is the worst of it for the moment, along with a few mild symptoms not unlike those Desi displayed in her most recent case(s) a week or two ago...which I thought I had lucked out and avoided somehow. Apparently I did not. Or, I picked it up independently somewhere.

Either way, while I'm largely fine at the moment, I've been advised that resting is smarter than doing a show today. I'm hoping to be back tomorrow but, well...you know...life with COVID... :-(




Also: Biden rising in polls; The fall of Alex Jones' corrupt empire; Producers pull phony '2000 Mules' doc; More GOP voter fraud...
By Brad Friedman on 6/11/2024 11:38am PT  

Yup. They'll believe anything. As discussed on today's BradCast, the MAGA dupes even have a new, insane explanation for why President Biden "allowed" his own, supposedly "weaponized"-against-Republicans DoJ to bring felony charges against his own son. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

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

  • The President's son, Hunter Biden, was found guilty by a federal jury in a Delaware courtroom on Tuesday, on charges that he had lied about his drug use on a federal background check form while purchasing a revolver in 2018, as he was overcoming his battle with drug addiction following the death of his brother. He never loaded the gun and owned it for just 11 days before his girlfriend thew it away. He was charged for something that nobody else has ever been charged with, unless they also committed an additional gun-related crime. Oddly enough, despite the "weaponization of the Justice Department" by Joe Biden to go after Trump and Republicans that we've heard so much about from Donald Trump and his MAGA minions, Hunter was found guilty on charges brought by a Trump-appointed federal prosecutor in a trial presided over by a Trump-appointed federal judge. President Biden said he "accepts" the jury verdict and does not plan to issue a pardon to his last living son.
  • That news comes on the heels of yesterday's program, in which we heard from Donald Trump supporting listeners about why they still support him, even after his conviction on 34 felony counts in New York related to a hush money payment to help him successfully rig the 2016 Presidential election. If you heard the show, you know that the reasons those callers still support Trump is that they have been wildly disinformed about all manner of facts, including their belief that Biden and/or his DoJ orchestrated the NY state prosecution. Even Trump's own former defense attorney in the case has called the evidence-free claim "ridiculous". But the dupes believe it nonetheless, along with a whole bunch of other Republicans who buy that nonsense and many more evidence-free claims regarding the 2020 election, the 2021 insurrection and more.
  • But, there is a bit of good news for Joe Biden and Democrats in recent polling following Trump's conviction in New York.
  • There is also good news for all of us, in that some of the biggest rightwing disinformers, other than Donald Trump, are finally facing some real accountability. Last week, it was reported that rightwing radio/podcast propagandist Alex Jones was liquidating his businesses, including his InfoWars program, to begin paying off his $1.5 billion defamation liability to families of Sandy Hook victims after years of lying about the tragic 2012 mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school as a "hoax."
  • And, at the end of May, the rightwing radio outfit Salem Media Group, apologized and retracted the hoax documentary called 2000 Mules, made by convicted rightwing election fraudster Dinesh D'Souza and the long-disgraced rightwing fraudster group called True the Vote. The film details a wholly debunked, wild conspiracy about Democrats scheming to steal the 2020 election from Donald Trump through an insanely complex plot involving tens of thousands of fraudulent ballots deposited secretly into drop-boxes in battleground states. Salem pulled the film from distribution and apologies for it in response to a defamation suit filed by a man featured in the film via security camera footage and falsely described as committing election fraud. None of that, of course, will keep Trump and the MAGA dupes from continuing to cite the film as "evidence" of a stolen election --- even as it contains no actual, ya know, evidence of such any such scheme.
  • On the other hand, we have more actual voter fraud documented as having been committed by Republican voters. This time, its an 85-year old GOP voter who was found guilty last month of double voting at two different houses he owned in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire during the 2016 election.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with disturbing news on gains by far-right, anti-climate action political parties in the European Union's parliamentary elections over the weekend; dumb news on New York Governor Kathy Hochul's much-criticized halt to New York City congestion pricing; and good news on new vehicle mileage standards by the Biden Administration that will save consumers money and combat climate change...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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