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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, December 4, 2022
Sunday 'Abandon All Hope' Toons
Give it up for PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
AZ Election Super-Geniuses: 'BradCast' 12/2/22
Cochise County ordered to certify results; Lake, Finchem attorneys sanctioned; Also: Warnock campaigner shot in GA; Boebert recount begins in CO; Dems avert rail strike, but about those paid sick days...
Seditious Conspiracy Verdicts and 'Mob Boss' Obstruction: 'BradCast' 12/1/22
Guest: Emptywheel's Marcy Wheeler; Also: Out of work loser, Dr. Oz; Hilarious sentence for GOP vote suppressors; Breaking: 11th Circuit nixes Special Master in Trump docs case...
'Green News Report' 12/1/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
DoJ sues to clean up water supply in Jackson, MS; Mauna Loa shuts global CO2 monitor; New methane rules for drilling; PLUS: Int. Dept to help tribal communities escape rising seas...
Recent GNRs: 11/29/22 - 11/17/22 - Archives...
Good News and Bad News in GA Early Runoff Voting: 'BradCast' 11/30/22
Guest: GA election expert, observer Jeanne Dufort; Also: Dems unite behind new House leadership; Bills passed to help avert rail strike; Meadows ordered to testify in GA...
Fun Times in MAGA Land!: Sedition! Collusion! Denial!: 'BradCast' 11/29/22
Oath Keepers chief 'guilty'; GOP money launderer 'guilty'; AZ Dem SoS/Guv-elect fights to keep Repubs from disenfranchising selves...
'Green News Report' 11/29/22
Breakthrough at U.N. climate conference; Americans at risk of power blackouts; Buffalo, NY buried by blizzard; PLUS: Houston, TX under boil water notice...
We're Back! But Election and Accountability Season Never Left: 'BradCast' 11/28/22
Pillow Guy is running!; Special Counsel wasting no time; Trumpers failed in AK too; Lake still pretending in AZ; Callers have a few thoughts...
Sunday 'Once More Unto the Breach' Toons
And here we go again...into PDiddie's latest post-Turkey toon collection...
Turkey Toons
Gobble gobble! Our thanks to the one and only Pdiddie for a special holiday collection of toons to help you burn off a few calories!...
Debating the Merits of Garland's New Special Counsel: 'BradCast' 11/21/22
Guests: Former DoJ prosecutor Randall D. Eliason of GWU, Const'l law expert John Bonifaz of FSFP; Also: Does the Const. disqualify Trump from 2024?...
Sunday 'Ready or Not' Toons
PDiddie's latest collection of the past week's most gut-busting political toons...
'Green News Report' 11/17/22
Crunch time for COP27 climate agreement; NASA says sea levels to rise a foot by 2050; Trump's 2024 announce-ment climate lies; PLUS: Climate disinfo surging again...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
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Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: Alan Minsky of Progressive Democrats of America; Also: Final federal jobs report before midterms beats expectations again...
By Brad Friedman on 11/4/2022 6:29pm PT  

After a few quick words about the "Goldilocks" final jobs report to be released by the federal government before Tuesday's critical midterms on today's BradCast, we get right to what might be regarded as a closing argument for progressives. Of course, we're unlikely to change the minds of many brain-poisoned MAGA rightwingers at this late date, but there may still be some on the left who are reachable and could use some encouragement. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Last week, The BRAD BLOG's legal contributor, Ernie Canning, who served as a Senior Advisor to Vets for Bernie during his 2016 campaign, published his latest article. It's titled "To Save American Democracy: A long time Bernie Sanders supporter on why we must vote 'blue' in '22". Please give it a read if you haven't.

Ernie updated his post the next day to note that former Green Party Presidential candidate Ralph Nader had also endorsed voting for Democrats this year on Democracy Now!, describing the GOP as a "dictatorship party" and "the most dangerous political movement since the Civil War."

As readers and listeners know, I too have broken from my nearly 20 years of remaining non-partisan when covering major elections, to specifically call on folks to vote this year for Democrats. As I have explained, that is not because I believe the Democratic Party is wonderful, but because I am really really concerned right now about the survival of American democracy itself. For reasons that I've detailed on both The BRAD BLOG and The BradCast for months (if not longer), the issue of its survival is quite literally on the line in the 2022 elections ahead of the 2024 Presidential election.

All of that, even as I've heard from too many folks on the so-called progressive left who still don't seem to fully appreciate what is at stake and believe that we still enjoy the luxury this year of voting for a third party or sitting out entirely. We don't.

Over the weekend, my guest today, ALAN MINSKY, a lifelong activist and Bernie Sanders supporter himself who now serves as the Executive Director of Progressive Democrats of America, published an article headlined "No Person of Conscience Can Sit Out this Midterm Election", wherein he makes the progressive case for voting for the Democratic Party this year. "Democracy and the very principle of a Society of Equals are on the ballot," the sub-title of his piece reads, adding, "and, yes, it's about the Economy too."

From the need to codify the rights and freedoms of Roe v. Wade, stolen by our corrupt Supreme Court, into federal law, to passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Freedom to Vote Act and much more, Minsky makes the case that "The 2022 midterm election represents a unique and historic opportunity to protect our democracy and our right to equality before the law against an unrelenting offensive being waged by the reactionary right." That, amid a rising authoritarian movement here and around the world and "widespread Republican support for Trump's Big Lie and the embrace of Authoritarian despots like Hungary's Victor Orban by Republican elites."

Though we haven't spoken on air (or at all actually!) for a number of years, Alan is an old friend after his years of formerly serving as Program Director at Pacifica Radio's KPFK, our flagship station here in Los Angeles. Alan has always been passionately progressive and likely even farther to the left than me, so I took careful notice when I came across his new piece at the liberal Common Dreams website.

We discuss all of the above and the concerns we both share about those on the progressive left who have either been misled or simply have yet to grasp the historic nature of this moment and the need to push back against rising authoritarianism, even if it means voting for a decidedly imperfect Democratic Party right now.

"If American democracy is toppled, this whole era we've lived through, understanding that we are citizens of a democratic society, the notion of a society of equals will be in such peril," he tells me today. "The reactionary right, coming off of January 6, coming off of Donald Trump's refusal to accept the election, they are emboldened to take down American democracy in their efforts to create a permanent ruling party."

"Bernie Sanders himself is barnstorming around the country to lift up Democratic candidates," Minsky observes, "to make the economic justice components of American society real for the average person." He urges that "we can't just cede this territory. Not just to a very dangerous rightwing, but even to the neo-liberal centrist Democrats."

"What I would encourage people to do is to recognize by voting and preserving the democratic process and improving it, you are maintaining capacity for a real progressive movement to be vibrant in the United States," Minsky argues. "This midterm election opens a space --- that I really want to encourage everyone listening who is a progressive --- we can win this in the Democratic Party."

"We can change this country for the better. But we have to preserve our democracy to leave that opportunity open. And that's why this election cycle is so important."

"If young people get out and vote at the level they did in 2018, let alone 2020, Democrats will win this election," he notes. "But that doesn't look to be where it is. I think that does have a lot to do with the perception that the Democratic Party is not a welcoming institution. But again, for those folks, you have allies on the inside of the party. We will fight this fight together, we will win this together. But right now it is essential that people DO vote in this election to preserve the democratic process that will be the instrument to allow us to win those victories in the near future. So, if we can preserve democracy, there's a bright future ahead."

"We have to preserve democracy now and strengthen it," Minsky concludes near the end of our broad conversation on a whole bunch of related topics. "We can do that with a victory in this election. So I encourage everybody, yes, to vote Democratic on Tuesday, or before Tuesday if you're in a state you can do that, and let's win this thing."

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Formalizing 2020's ad-hoc strategy, Republicans have organized nationally to create and unleash phony fraud claims, as needed, amid the havoc of next Tuesday's critical elections...
By Brad Friedman on 11/3/2022 6:49pm PT  

Today on The BradCast, we continue our focus on next Tuesday's critical midterm elections by picking things up, somewhat, from our conversation on yesterday's program. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

We were joined yesterday by longtime election and voting system expert Eddie Perez to discuss, among other things, what he has been writing about as the "manufactured chaos" that Republicans are creating to wreak havoc in the 2022 elections.

Today, we dive into broader details of that organized, manufactured chaos program that is emerging as a national strategy by the GOP to create enough havoc around the country to allow them a patina of "evidence" with which to challenge results of election outcomes they don't like.

A number of seemingly disparate efforts are actually now emerging as of a piece with a national strategy that you (and the Democrats and the media) need to know about before it all comes crashing down at once amid chaotic smoke and mirrors on Election Day and thereafter.

This is clearly an effort that echoes the less coordinated post-election chaos of 2020. Many of the same players are involved, including corrupt Trump attorneys John Eastman and Cleta Mitchell, as well as his convicted former aide Steve Bannon, the laughable billionaire pillow guy Mike Lindell, not to mention those in the far-right political media set to help execute the strategy as if it is legitimate, from Tucker Carlson on down.

The hope, as Josh Kovensky outlines at TPM today, is to sow the seeds of enough chaos to be able to create court cases and "thousands of sworn affidavits" (sound familiar?) to "credibly" point to (false) claims of "fraud" in virtually any election around the country next week, if and when they don't win it. "The chaos is the point," he writes.

We pull many of these threads together on today's program. One example is the seemingly isolated case of the campaign manager for Maryland's white nationalist Republican candidate for Attorney General who directed supporters at a rally last weekend to vote next Tuesday "as late in the day as possible," explaining that, "If everyone could stand in long, long lines at 6 o’clock, that would actually help us."

Then there are the door-to-door canvassers --- organized in part by folks like Eastman, Bannon, Lindell, Mitchell and others --- who, according to a Reuters report today, have been active in at least 23 states. They are dressing as if they are government officials --- sometimes armed and with badges --- intimidating voters with questions about who lives in their house, what their voting record is, etc. They appear to be collecting information to use to challenge voters on Election Day at the polls and/or in the post-election period, as required to create enough chaos to offer the appearance of fraud and/or uncertainty in the legitimacy of election results. And, yes, Fox "News" and the rest will be standing by to report all of these false accusations as if they are real.

Forewarned is forearmed, as they say. It's important that you --- not to mention the Democratic Party and everyone at legitimate media outlets --- understand what is going on before the fog of chaotic election war overwhelms all of us beginning next Tuesday.

In a not unrelated story today, we noted yesterday that AP has found more than 100 election lawsuits have already been brought this year related to the 2022 elections. Most have been filed by Republicans in efforts to make voting more difficult. We detailed several of those cases yesterday (in Pennsylvania, Arizona and Nevada). Today we discuss one filed in Illinois that seeks to invalidate lawful absentee ballots that are cast on or before Election Day but do not arrive until afterward, in the two week period allowed by state law. A Republican Congressman is suing to block the counting of those votes, even though they are lawfully cast ballots that could include tens of thousands cast by members of the U.S. military stationed overseas. The complaint was originally filed in May of this year. But the Trump-appointed federal judge overseeing the case has yet to rule on it, for some reason, with Election Day less than a week away. Chaos in waiting.

Also, since we quickly waved at these Trump accountability stories at the top of today's show, some links for more deets for ya:

  • A judge has appointed an independent monitor to oversee Trump Organization finances in the civil fraud suit filed by NY A.G. Letitia James against Trump, his company and his three oldest kids.
  • The NY criminal tax fraud case against the Trump Organization is now under way.
  • Top Trump aide Kash Patel has been granted immunity to testify against him before a federal grand jury probing the documents Trump stole upon leaving the White House.
  • Trump settled the lawsuit against him for ordering his security goons to beat up protesters in front of Trump Tower in 2015, as jury selection was underway in the case.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with a whole bunch of climate related stories both good and bad as winter is coming...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Longtime election expert Eddie Perez of OSET Institute; Also: PA Supremes cause absentee ballot chaos; Judge blocks armed AZ voter intimidation; Rightwing NV hand-counters halted after exposing results...
By Brad Friedman on 11/2/2022 6:39pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we continue to focus on the critical November 8 midterms as we will most likely be doing between now and then and --- given how important and close many key races are expected to be --- probably well beyond Election Day. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

We're joined today by EDDIE PEREZ, who has spent more than 20 years focused on elections in various capacities. He spent some 15 years at the Austin, Texas-based Hart-Intercivic, one of the big three private voting system vendors in the U.S. He moved on to become Global Director of Technology and Standards at the nonpartisan, nonprofit Open Source Election Technology (OSET) Institute before, last year, becoming Twitter's Director of Product Management for Societal Health, where he played a role in fighting against mis- and disinformation at the beleaguered social media site. He left the company recently (before Elon Musk's takeover) and remains a Board Member at OSET.

Perez has been writing, blogging and tweeting of late on what he sees as "manufactured chaos" by Republicans in advance of the 2022 midterms, calling the threat they pose a "a knife at democracy's throat" and charging that the chaos is now "on a collision course" with next week's elections.

He worries and warns, both in his writing and on today's program, of "coordinated attempts to interfere with or potentially overwhelm what can broadly be regarded as normal election administration processes."

As usual, when Perez is kind enough to join us, he (a former voting system vendor) and I (a long time Election Integrity journalist and critic of vulnerable, difficult-to-oversee voting systems) both tussle and find common ground on many of these topics. We also discuss concerns about "manufactured chaos" on Twitter as well, now that Musk has reportedly withdrawn access to content moderation tools previously used by staffers to help curb toxic disinformation.

"It's genuinely not really clear whether Elon Musk fully appreciates the harm that can come from a social media platform, particularly in the realm of elections," Perez frets, adding that "we have seen this spin off in to political violence." He notes "the concerns are very real," but believes the "wheels haven't fallen off Twitter", at least not yet, assuring that there are "still good people there."

He warns, however, "it's a fragile time" and says it's good to have "conversations like this so that we can talk to your listeners about what they should be paying attention to and what they can maybe do to cut through some of the noise."

We discuss examples of chaos that most worry him and how no small part of the lack of confidence Americans now have in our election system may actually be due to the way voting system vendors and election officials have spent years preventing oversight by the public. Of course, much of it is due to Donald Trump's lies about the 2020 election. But Perez concedes that insiders, in fact, now pose a unique threat to democracy, as demonstrated by GOP officials facilitating the breach of voting system hardware and software in several different states and releasing its proprietary software to potentially nefarious individuals. Can that previously secret code now be used to undermine those systems next week? If so, how so?

"It has certainly not helped public trust in the machinery of democracy that voting technology is limited to as few companies as it is," Perez concedes, citing the proprietary software now used to run elections and tally votes in almost every jurisdiction in the country. "There is no doubt that having that whole ecosystem --- that can fairly be called a 'black box' --- is not helping. It is a kind of tinder box and has turned into a vacuum of information that a lot of conspiracy theorists have been happy to fill."

"On something as essential as the legitimacy of the outcomes in our public elections --- which, again, involves process and involves voting technology --- we can never ever discount the importance of transparency and accountability," he tells me, citing some of my own advocacy and criticism of voting systems and vendors over the years. "In that sense, I don't think it's unreasonable for some people to say that was a collective failure and, yes, that has contributed to us having a lot of the challenges that we're in today."

Of course, we also discuss what Americans can do now --- from voters to election officials to journalists --- to gird for the chaos that is almost certain to come and how best to defend against it.

Also today, several recent legal rulings in response to an explosion of election law challenges manufacturing more chaos around the 2022 elections...

  • Our corrupt U.S. Supreme Court, along with the unexpected death of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's Chief Justice, allows Republicans to obtain a ruling that may allow them to reject thousands of completely legitimate absentee ballots across the Keystone State, due to missing or incorrect dates written on their outer envelopes.
  • A Trump-appointed federal judge in Arizona issues a ruling [PDF] to block voter intimidation near absentee ballot drop boxes, where masked rightwingers, toting guns and clad in tactical gear, have been menacing and photographing voters dropping of their ballots.
  • Nevada's Sec. of State shuts down a slapdash, nascent rightwing effort in Nye County to hand-count early and absentee ballots after the hand-counters were said to be revealing results to the public during their tally in defiance of a state Supreme Court order. Thankfully, given the very few ballots they were able to count before being shut down (just 50 on their first day, in a County with some 30,000 voters), the damage was contained. But expect more such "manufactured chaos" between now and next Tuesday and, almost certainly, well beyond...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Theeda Murphy of No Exceptions Prison Collective; Also: Corrupt SCOTUS helps Trump on tax returns, Graham on GA testimony...
By Brad Friedman on 11/1/2022 6:01pm PT  

We've been discussing for weeks (months, actually) on The BradCast how critical the November 8 midterm elections are to American democracy itself. I've even referred to it as the most critical midterms since the Civil War. Until recently, however, I had no idea how on the money that comparison actually is. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

In five states this year --- from so-called "red" states like Alabama, Louisiana and Tennessee to the theoretically liberal bastions of Oregon and Vermont --- slavery itself will be on the ballot. Seriously. Or, at least "involuntary servitude". What's the difference between that and slavery? Even our guest today, an expert on such issues, has trouble discerning that.

The U.S. Constitution's 13th Amendment, adopted in 1865 to end slavery, reads [emphasis added]: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

In other words, slavery was abolished --- except for prisoners, who may be forced into involuntary servitude as part of their punishment. It's a not-accidental loophole, you'll be shocked to learn, that has been disproportionately exercised historically against Black Americans.

In 2020, however, several Democratic members of Congress introduced a resolution to begin amending that part of the 13th Amendment. But changing the U.S. Constitution is a heavy lift that requires passage by two-thirds of each chamber of Congress and approval by three-fourths of the states. In the meantime, there are the exact same or very similar references to involuntary servitude --- or even slavery itself --- still present in a number of state Constitutions and/or statutes. And, this year, there are ballot initiatives in the five states mentioned above to finally change or remove those references entirely.

So, yeah. Ending slavery, at least in some state constitutions, at least for prisoners, is actually on this year's ballot as well.

We're joined today for insight by THEEDA MURPHY, Co-Director of the No Exceptions Prison Collective, a non-profit, grassroots initiative based in Nashville, TN, dedicated to, among other things, aboloshing slavery!

"Any type of forced labor is slavery. Period. And should not exist in the United States in 2022," Murphy explains, stating what one would think should be obvious. Surprisingly, it isn't. There are elected officials --- both Democratic and Republican --- who have offered various reasons to oppose such initiatives to rewrite the 13th Amendment and the state-based provisions which echo it. Most of their reasons have to do with assuring that cheap prison labor can continue, a $500 billion industry where the average pay is $1/hour. (Though that is, somehow, not considered slavery!)

Over the past two elections, in 2018 and 2020, three states, Colorado, Nebraska and Utah, adopted measures to ban involuntary servitude. A recent effort here in California failed to make it onto the ballot this year. But the hope of advocates like Murphy is that, with reform at the state level, interest may grow in a federal Constitutional amendment that finally ends what is known as the "Punishment Clause" or the "Exception Clause'. But there are other reasons to adopt such measures as well.

States where similar changes have been made, explains Murphy, "are beginning to have these discussions about what does it mean to now have people that cannot be treated like property, that the state no longer owns, and what that means for every aspect of a person who is incarcerated. Can you deny them healthcare? What kind of food do you feed them? Do you charge them for their clothes? Those are the kinds of questions that begin to be answered, or to be asked, because people are no longer property."

Murphy says that in her home-state of Tennessee, internal polling shows both Democrats and Republicans are "united" on the ballot measure this year. "Nobody is FOR slavery," she quips. "Nobody at least will come out and SAY they're for it."

Hey! Maybe we found at least one issue that doesn't divide Americans? We'll find out after next Tuesday.

In other noteworthy news today...

  • After nearly four years of House Democrats attempting to exercise the federal law that mandates the IRS "shall furnish" the tax returns of any taxpayer to the heads of several Congressional committees upon request, Donald Trump is running out of legal (and illegal) options to block the Democratic-controlled House Ways and Means Committee from reviewing his tax documents. But, after the federal appeals court in D.C. unanimously said last week that the IRS must turn them over, Trump filed an emergency appeal to his stolen, packed and corrupted Supreme Court. Today, Chief Justice John Roberts placed a temporary administrative hold on the lower court's order, buying Trump at least 10 days while the House responds to the disgraced former President's motion. But now, every day counts, with the possibility of Democrats losing their majority at the beginning of next year, when Republicans will almost certainly drop the House request. The clock is ticking.
  • In somewhat brighter related news, after a similar administrative hold by the corrupt Justice Clarence Thomas last week, the Supremes have decided that Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) must sit for a deposition with the Special Grand Jury created by Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis, in her investigation of the Trump-led conspiracy to steal the 2020 election in the Peach State. SCOTUS, however, has left open some doors for Graham to return to district court if he believes any of the questions he's asked violate his right to not answer questions related to his legislative activity as a Senator under the Constitution's Speech and Debate Clause.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with a bit of bona fide good news --- in several different stories, in fact --- to wrap up today's program...

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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'Democracy came out victorious' in Lula's defeat of Bolsonaro; U.S. democracy at stake in next week's midterms; New Senate polling; Pelosi's would-be assassin was a follower of Trump's election lies; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 10/31/2022 5:51pm PT  

We're just over one week from the most critical midterm elections in these United States since the Civil War. So, we've got a lot to discuss on today's BradCast. And the phones are finally fixed at KPFK, so we were actually able to hear from callers today as well! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the stories covered on today's program before listeners ring...

  • Why it really matters: A few thoughts on why, exactly, these elections are so critical, in all 50 states, for the future of American democracy itself; why you need to vote in whatever state you live in by Tuesday; and why, depending on how it all goes, this could be the last democratic election in this country. An overstatement? I don't think so in the least. But tune in for much more on all of that and for listner calls from folks who may or may not agree with me.
  • If they can do it in Brazil: Great news! The far-right, Donald Trump-supported autocrat Jair Bolsonaro was deposed in a runoff election on Sunday to Brazil's former leftist President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, popularly known as "Lula". The race was closer than polls had predicted, but it was the first time since the nation became democratized in the 1980s that an incumbent President went down to defeat. That is good for workers, that is good for the planet (given Bolsonaro's destruction of the Amazon rainforest), and, as Lula said up winning, good for democracy itself. "This isn’t a victory of mine or the Workers’ Party, nor the parties that supported me in the campaign," said the once and future President. "It's the victory of a democratic movement that formed above political parties, personal interests and ideologies so that democracy came out victorious."
  • After all that: New polling out today from New York Times and Siena College finds four key U.S. Senate races are still polling pretty much where they were several weeks ago, despite recent breathless corporate media reports that Dem support was tanking and a "red" wave was forming. Perhaps it is, but that's not what today's new polling suggests. The Democratic Senate candidates in Arizona, Pennsylvania and Georgia all still lead their Republican opponents, if by slim margins, and the race in Nevada is said to be a dead heat. At least, if you believe pre-election polling. (And I wouldn't, if I were you.) It's all likely to be very close. All of it. Everywhere. Please get out and vote, as they did in Brazil...for democracy.
  • Another assassination attempt on the Speaker of the House: We were off on Friday, so didn't get to ring in on it, but we've learned more over the weekend about the attacker who, echoing January 6, 2021 insurrectionists, was hunting for Nancy Pelosi as he hoped to use zip ties to restrain her 82-year old husband Paul last Friday morning at their house in San Francisco. The attacker ended up cracking Paul Pelosi's skull with a hammer before he was tackled by police. By way of contrast with the "outrage" expressed for weeks by Republicans at peaceful protests outside the homes of corrupt Supreme Court Justices several months ago, many of those same GOPers made jokes over the weekend about the attack on the Pelosis by a man who appears to have been a supporter of QAnon conspiracies and far-right commentators and who believed Trump's lie that the 2020 Presidential election was stolen from him. The 42-year old assailant has now been charged with both state and federal felonies, including attempted murder; assault with a deadly weapon; assault on the immediate family member of a federal official; and attempted kidnapping of a federal official. Paul Pelosi is said to be recovering after emergency surgery for a fractured skull.
  • Calls forward: Finally, we open up the phone lines --- for the first time in a month, now that they're fixed here at the station! --- on all of the above and more with some very lively callers (several of whom, as usual, don't agree with me on every li'l thang...)

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On climate, natural gas, 'junk fees' and other substantive issues worth knowing about ahead of our critical midterm elections...
By Brad Friedman on 10/27/2022 6:18pm PT  

The element of surprise plays a central role in several of the stories covered on today's BradCast.

Among them...

  • SURPRISE! Natural gas prices actually went negative (companies paying to give it away) in parts of Europe this week, as the EU now has a glut of natural gas with Winter approaching and storage facilities reaching capacity. That's particularly surprising after earlier concerns earlier this year that folks could freeze to death after Russia's Vladimir Putin cut off much of its supply in retaliation for sanctions against his brutal invasion of Ukraine. So, why the glut? Several reasons: EU nations scrambled to make up for the gas cut off by Putin with sources from elsewhere while also working toward a quicker transition to renewable sources of energy. Also, mild, climate changed weather in the region has eased demand so far this Autumn.
  • SURPRISE! The price of natural gas in parts of west Texas also plummeted to nearly zero recently, thanks to over-production and a lack of storage there as well. All of which is "surprising", if only because Republicans have been telling (lying to) Americans that Joe Biden had crippled fossil fuel energy production in the U.S. (he hasn't), which has lead to increased prices...which is actually largely due to price gouging that every Republican in Congress recently voted against prohibiting.
  • SURPRISE! Russia's war in Ukraine is hastening, not slowing, a global shift away from fossil fuels and towards cleaner, renewable energy sources like wind, solar and EV's, according to a new International Energy Agency (IAE) report on Thursday. Global investment in renewable sources is quickly rising, as nations seek energy security in response to Putin's war and in hopes of improving their economies by grabbing a chunk of the trillions of dollars being spent on development and manufacturing in the burgeoning clean energy industry. Nonetheless, while the shift will reportedly result in peak fossil fuel usage by 2025, the current pace of the transition is still nowhere near what climate scientists say is necessary to avoid the worst impacts of global warming.
  • SURPRISE (FEES)! The Biden Administration's Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced on Wednesday that it is cracking down on unlawful corporate junk fees --- for checks you deposit at your bank from someone which ends up bouncing; for changing plane tickets after an airline cancelled your flight, etc. --- amounting to billions of dollars in savings for American consumers. The President's announcement at the White House on Wednesday comes just days after three Trump-appointees on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with part of a lawsuit from the sleazy Payday Lending Industry lobby charging that the funding mechanism for the CFPB --- created during the Obama Administration in response to the Great Recession as the only federal agency created to protect consumers rather than corporations --- was somehow unconstitutional. And after Biden's announcement to end junk fees, Republicans in both the House and Senate released statements vowing to end the new consumer protections...which will be much easier for them to do if they win majorities in either chamber in the November midterms.
  • SURPRISE (NOT)! After Amazon indignantly pretended to cut off political donations to Republicans who voted against certifying Joe Biden's Electoral College victory after the January 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol insurrection, the monopolistic retailer apparently restarted them...just as soon as the nation's next major election got under way.
  • Finally, it's no surprise that Desi Doyen has both good news and bad in our latest Green News Report, as drought deepens across the U.S.., the U.N. warns about catastrophic consequences of climate change; Australia builds a really really big battery; and as the Biden Administration rolls out a national fleet electric school buses...

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Guest: Brian Hansbury of Media and Democracy Project; Also: Jon Stewart calls AZ A.G. out for 2020 lies; Republican PA-SEN write-in candidate drops out to endorse Democrat Fetterman...
By Brad Friedman on 10/26/2022 6:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast: With less than two weeks to go before this year's critical midterm Election Day, can the corporate media be convinced to take America's side in helping to save democracy itself? [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

We've devoted nearly two decades to calling out corporate media for their seemingly never-ending failures, the worst of which we may now be smack dab in the middle of, as they seem to have little to no appreciation for our endangered democracy and their no-small-part in helping bring us to this point.

Over the past two years, we've noted (among other failures) how the corporate media just can't seem to simply and clearly call out Donald Trump for having attempted to steal a Presidential election before our very eyes. Instead, as they report even now, he was simply trying to "overturn" or "undermine" or "challenge" or "question" the results, hoping to "roll them back" in order to "remain in the White House". But because they have failed to accurately and directly inform the American electorate that Trump and his minions attempted, repeatedly, to steal a Presidential election, a huge chunk of the citizenry continue to falsely believe the 2020 election was actually stolen from him, despite any evidence to support the false claim. Shamefully, hundreds of Republican candidates on this year's ballot continue to spread that lie and often go entirely unchallenged by the press.

"There's a journalism crisis in this country," charges our guest today, BRIAN HANSBURY, co-founder of the grassroots Media and Democracy Project. The media, he tells me, are "marching us towards fascism and a potential future where we're not able to have votes that have any meaning moving forward."

Hansbury's group recently penned an open letter to "American journalists, editors, producers and publishers" detailing the "urgent need for pro-democracy 2022 election coverage." In an op-ed this week at Salon, he warns that "Journalists who know the 2020 presidential election was free and fair still frequently describe those who lie about it as mere 'skeptics' who 'dispute the results.'" They are not "deniers," he insists. They are liars and should be described as such. He calls on "news media to urgently communicate" to the American public that the November 8 midterm is "not an ordinary election, but rather a contest between would-be authoritarians and candidates who defend the rule of law and the electoral system."

Hansbury's op-ed cites his group's open letter for more details in order to plead: "For the next two weeks, journalists must 1) make threats to democracy clear, 2) protect Americans against disinformation and 3) treat elections as if they are more important than the sports page."

We discuss what all of the above actually means and much more today, as Hansbury makes the case for the American media to, in fact, "take sides" at this point. "Media should be a partisan for democracy," he argues. "Ahead of the 2022 midterms, they should be picking a side, and that should be the side of democracy."

"When elected officials are lying to the public, that's a time when journalists and newsrooms should be taking the side of those who aren't lying to the public about something so fundamental to our rights, freedoms and democracy as elections."

"The 'both sides' thing," Hansbury asserts, is a "false equivalence that is constantly maintained in our national media between normal candidates --- and by 'normal' I mean those that don't lie to us about elections --- and these anti-democracy Republicans. And that normalizes the election lies. It allows for there to be this permission to continue to lie about elections."

The ability for so many candidates to continue to tell so many lies without being held accountable in the press, one can reasonably argue, is no small part of why so many races across the country are now believed to be so close this year. That, despite independently verifiable facts which contradict the candidates' lies...if only our media bothered tell the truth as clearly and relentlessly as the liars lie. It's only the future of American democracy at stake after all. Or, as Hansbury charges the media see it, just another way to "maximize profit, maximize engagement and deliver to advertisers."

Also today, in very related news...

  • Jon Stewart --- yes, a comedian, rather than a journalist --- calls out Arizona's Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich during an interview for refusing to clearly say, even two years later, that Joe Biden won the battleground state fair and square in 2020...even though the A.G. clearly knows that to be the case.
  • In Pennsylvania, Everett Stern, a little known Republican running as an independent write-in candidate in the state's critical U.S. Senate election, dropped out on Wednesday to endorse the Democratic candidate, John Fetterman. He cited the need to place "country over party," in the race against Trump-endorsed Republican nominee Mehmet Oz, which is considered to largely be a dead heat at this point. In leaving the race, Stern announced: "I am polling around 3% which places Democracy at risk. In the interest of protecting the United States I am dropping out of the U.S Senate Race in PA. I fully endorse John Fetterman. The Democrats must win. PA must be Blue."

Good for him! Nice that there are still some Republicans who appreciate the danger American democracy now faces and the importance of saving it...

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Good news on green energy, even from fascists; Disturbing news on Election Integrity and hand-counting, especially from fascists...
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2022 6:45pm PT  

Some good news, some bad news, and the most difficult news of all for talk radio: nuanced news on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

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

  • Texas has finally figured out that home solar panels and battery storage can help save the state's brittle, failing electric grid this winter. That's good news for Texas, Tesla and homeowners who can make money selling excess energy back to the grid.
  • There is actually quite a bit of good news for renewable energy according to a new report this week from the International Renewable Energy Agency, as per the New York Times' Ivan Penn today. Top line: As solar and wind production are now cheaper sources for electricity than fossil fuels, renewables now dominate all new electric energy capacity (81% last year) and, if the current trajectory continues, are likely to very soon generate more electricity globally than fossil fuels.
  • Even the Brothers of Italy --- the actually fascist right-wing party which recently won a Parliamentary majority in Italy --- and its far-right leader Giorgia Meloni (soon to become Prime Minister) appear to be more progressive on climate change concerns than the Republican Party in the U.S. It's kind of remarkable really and, yes, a bit nuanced.
  • Speaking of fascists, with early voting now under way in many states for the critical 2022 midterms, so is the voter intimidation and suppression by disinformed rightwingers. MAGA Republicans in Arizona appear to be taking the early lead nationwide when it comes to reported intimidation, as armed and masked vigilantes in tactical gear are now camping out in parking lots near absentee ballot drop boxes because they've been duped into believing they are used for massive voter fraud. While some of the few remaining GOP officials in the state who haven't become brain poisoned are trying to lower the temperature, others, including MAGA Republican Gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake and MAGA State Sen. Kelly Townsend continue to fan the flames with lies about the 2020 election.
  • Meanwhile, however, in defending against Donald Trump's lies about election and voter fraud, Democrats may have backed themselves into a corner when it comes to their own ability to challenge election results themselves. In their ill-considered efforts to force Republicans into answering gotcha questions about whether or not they will accept election results for elections that haven't even happened yet --- which could include outcome determinative problems like voter suppression or problems with voting and tabulation computers --- Dems may have short-circuited their own ability to challenge results that legitimately need challenging. We discuss.
  • At the same time, MAGA rightwingers in several rural (heavily GOP-leaning) Nevada counties are certain that Dominion Voting Systems done them wrong in 2020. So now they're demanding hand-counted paper ballots. While hand-counting is, in fact, the only way to know for certain if computers actually tallied ballots as per voter intent, the NV GOPers who bought into Trump's evidence-free fraud conspiracies are doing it all wrong. One county has even been given permission by the state Supreme Court to begin hand-counting early ballots beginning this week. That is a recipe for all sorts of disaster, including unlawful leaks about early results.

    And here comes more nuance: While we have spent nearly two decades decrying computer-tabulated ballots, we have called not for hand-counting, but for hand-count pilot projects to determine its feasibility in each jurisdiction and to develop simple, efficient and publicly-overseeable protocols to do it safely and transparently at the precinct on Election Night, in front of everyone, before ballots are moved anywhere. (Similar to how it has been successfully been done for many years now by about 40% of the towns in New Hampshire.)

    Ad hoc hand-counting (for example, like the kind that took NV's Esmerelda County more than seven hours to tally 317 ballots after their June primary!) is a disaster in the making and one that is likely to end up discrediting real hand-counting for years to come. I hope I'm wrong.

    In the meantime, there are critical contests in the state this year, including a very tight race between incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and Republican Adam Laxalt. If she is reported to have lost and there are any questions about the results, good luck to the Dems after shortsightedly decrying any and all concerns about elections when they may need to challenge an election themselves.

  • Finally, Desi Doyen has our latest Green News Report, including news on the Biden Admin EPA opening a civil rights probe into Jackson, Mississippi's water crisis; Big Insurance moving away from Big Oil; and Republicans taking credit for renewable energy projects built with incentives that they voted against...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Angela Peoples of Election Defenders; Also: Bannon sentenced; Trump subpoenaed; Graham appeals to SCOTUS; And, still more evidence of looming Trump accountability...
By Brad Friedman on 10/21/2022 5:48pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: There is a great deal to be concerned about between now and November 8, when American holds its first nationwide elections since Donald Trump tried to steal the last one. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Since then, his unrelenting lies that the 2020 election was stolen from him (ironically enough) have resulted in, among other things, newly restrictive voting laws adopted by GOP-controlled states, a shortage of poll workers following death threats from disinformed rightwingers, and concerns of both intimidation and the potential of violence at polling places (and ballot drop-boxes.)

But the Election Defenders vow to be out in force, as they were in 2020, attempting to make sure everyone can vote freely and fairly.

"One of my biggest concerns is the impact the attempts at intimidation may play on the electorate," my guest today, the group's Campaign Director, ANGELA PEOPLES, tells me. "In some places, these threats of violence are very real, and we're preparing folks to be responsive to those." But, she adds, "a lot of this is just talk, and attempts to create an atmosphere of fear. So we are planning to counter that fear with joy, with enthusiasm, to make sure that people can cast their ballot with safety and dignity."

Election Defenders is a coalition formed in 2020 by The Frontline, a joint campaign of the Working Families Party, the Movement for Black Lives Electoral Justice Project, United We Dream and Rising Majority. They deployed some 2,000 volunteers trained in de-escalation techniques to polling places in all 50 states in 2020. This year, they hope to station about 1,250 in key battleground states including Wisconsin, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona.

"We are trained not only in de-escalation, but also in what we call Voter Care --- to support folks at the polls, making sure folks have information about what those new laws may be and how to make sure that, if they feel like they are denied their ability to vote, they have a chance to address that and to not be denied their ability to cast their ballot, whether it's provisional or otherwise, on Election Day," Peoples explains.

"We'll be making sure that things stay calm, stay joyful, stay energetic and are the type of experience that can keep people engaged all the way through to casting their ballot," she says. The group hopes to counter so many who have been lied into rage on the Right over the past two years. "A lot of their playbook is about intimidation [and] fear tactics. So we have really focused on the joy that we can bring to people and reminding folks that, as much as some may try to make voting seem like something that is privileged, or something only a few should be able to do, that everyone that has the right to vote in this country should be able to exercise that."

Critically, she adds, "we are reminding our volunteers that this Election Defense opportunity is something that we need to do from voting, to counting, all the way to certification."

And, yes, the group is still welcoming volunteers and helping to train them all over the country. If you'd like to join the effort, you can get more details and sign up for trainings here or text FRONTLINE to 20403.

Also today, the outer bands of the coming Trump Accountability Hurricane continue to blow in...

  • Steve Bannon was sentenced to 4 months in prison for Contempt of Congress after refusing to answer subpoenas for testimony and documents from the House January 6 Committee. He remains free for now pending appeal.
  • Donald Trump was sent his own subpoena by the same House Committee today, seeking documents from the disgraced former President by November 4 and under oath deposition testimony beginning on or about November 14. If he refuses, he could face similar charges to those Bannon has now been found guilty of and sentenced to prison for.
  • On Thursday, Sen. Lindsey Graham was ordered by a three-judge panel (two of whom are Trump appointees) at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to testify to the Special Grand Jury in Atlanta set up by Fulton County, Georgia Prosecutor Fani Willis. She is investigating an alleged criminal conspiracy led by Donald Trump to force state officials to falsify the 2020 election results. Today, Graham, who has lost every court battle to avoid testimony so far, asked SCOTUS to intervene. Even though the denies any wrongdoing, it appears he really really doesn't want to testify to that end under oath for some reason.
  • Also this week, Trump was forced to testify under oath in the defamation case against him by author E. Jean Carroll, who alleges he raped her in a department store dressing room in the 1990s and then lied about both her and it while serving as President. But, because he can't help himself, Trump really screwed himself over regarding the only quasi-legit defense he had left to try and duck Carroll's defamation complaint. SAD!

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DeSantis' shameful 'voter fraud' round-up; Blistering progressive midterm ads; Disastrous 'conservative' fiscal leadership in U.K., U.S.; Good CO2 emissions news (mostly); Rubio bombs in FL debate with Demings...
By Brad Friedman on 10/20/2022 6:56pm PT  

It's a grab bag on today's BradCast, as we cover a ton of stuff from around the world and here at home, just over two weeks before another critical Election Day. [Audio link to today's show follows below.]

Among our many stories covered today...

  • With one disgraced, failed Conservative Party Prime Minister after another in Britain since they fell for that whole rightwing BREXIT scam, perhaps the good citizens of the UK might want to consider leadership from amongst the liberal Labour Party instead? Just a thought, but surely they couldn't perform any worse than the Torries, could they Lizz Truss, the third Tory PM to resign amid financial chaos and disgrace in as many years (she lasted just 44 days!) exited stage right today as the financial markets look to downgrade the the UK's credit rating amid continuing fiscal havoc and political uncertainty.

    It's all "self-immolation" and it echoes financial and political chaos repeatedly sown by our own "conservative" party here in the U.S. And yet, for some reason, a majority of the American public reportedly remain disinformed enough to believe, somehow, that Republicans are better on economic issues than Democrats. It's yet another sign of a failed corporate U.S. media, frankly. More thoughts and details in today's actual show, of course.

  • There was better than expected news on global CO2 emissions this week! Despite a temporary return to coal, oil and gas by some in the EU in response to Russia's horrific war on Ukraine, the growth in fossil fuel emissions this year is far lower than previously predicted. This year, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), growth in emissions from fossil fuels was just 300 million metric tons, compared to nearly 2 billion tons last year. New renewable energy coming on line from wind and solar and other sources of clean energy, along with the world's move to Electric Vehicles, is helping to counter a temporary return to fossil fuels in some parts of the world. Much of this is attributed to the acceleration of major clean energy policy plans around the world, some in response to Russia's war, but also to nations' effort to meet goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. That would include efforts here at home by Democrats and President Biden who enacted the world's largest single investment in climate --- nearly $400 billion --- in the Inflation Reduction Act, adopted without one Republican vote.
  • With just over two weeks until the critical midterm elections with so much on the ballot, from democracy itself to all manner of Constitutional rights and freedoms, Democrats, progressives and other anti-authoritarians are pushing hard to win over voters. VoteVets, the nation's largest progressive veterans support group, released a blistering ad this week targeting Wisconsin's Republican Senator and insurrection enthusiast Ron Johnson, as a "traitor". And California's Rep. Eric Swalwell released a bone-chilling ad illustrating a dystopian future where police are knocking on doors to round women who've had an illegal abortion.
  • Swalwell's fictional ad is hauntingly echoed by actual video footage obtained and published this week by the Tampa Bay Times in Florida, revealing law enforcement officials rounding up and arresting residents for what even the confused officers describe as "some sort of voter fraud thing". In August, GOP Governor and Presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis --- who is on this year's ballot against Democrat and former Gov. Charlie Crist --- held a dramatic news conference announcing 20 arrests by his new "Office of Election Crimes and Security". As we have since learned, those arrested were former felons who believed their voting rights had been restored after the landslide 65 to 35% passage of a statewide ballot initiative in 2018. But, the initiative had a few exceptions that the former felons weren't told about when they registered and when those registrations were approved by DeSantis' own State Department.

    “Voter fraud?," said one perplexed man as he was told he was being hauled off to jail for voting illegally years earlier. "Y’all said anybody with a felony could vote, man." Other arrestees, nabbed out of the blue at their homes just hours before DeSantis' news conference, were similarly stunned. Local law enforcement officials participating in the arrests also seemed unable to explain exactly why any of this was happening. The majority of the arrestees, according to the paper, were black and/or Democrats, "a throwback to the worst images of the Jim Crow South and a preview of a dystopian future under GOP authoritarianism," writes the Philly Inquirer's Will Bunch today.

    Yes, the authoritarian dystopian future envisioned by Swalwell's fictional video of cops rounding up a woman who had an abortion is shockingly similar to the videos published this week by Tampa Bay Times.

  • Speaking of Florida and dystopia, GOP Sen. Marco Rubio and his Democratic challenger for reelection, Rep. Val Demings, squared off in a debate this week. Among the embarrassing moments for the two-term Republican Senator: his claim that absentee ballot drop-boxes shouldn't be used because someone could "put some explosives in it and blow it up and burn all of those ballots' and his explanation for why he previously claimed, after the 2018 Parkland high school massacre that killed 17, to support a ban on the sale of semi-automatic assault weapons to those under the age of 21 --- but he no longer does. "You've done nothing, nothing to help address gun violence," charged Demings, the former Police Chief of Orland in response. "How long will you watch people being gunned down in first grade, fourth grade, high school, college, church, synagogue, a grocery store, a movie theater, a mall and a night club and do nothing?!”
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as the President releases more oil from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve; New Jersey sues Big Oil for decades of climate lies; and as the November 8 midterm elections are set to determine the course of climate action for decades to come...

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Guest: Congressional historian, political scientist Norm Ornstein; Also: Leahy's Iraq War spy story...
By Brad Friedman on 10/19/2022 5:41pm PT  

We've spent quite a bit of time of late on The BradCast discussing what could happen if Democrats are able to hold their majority in the U.S. House this year and pick up two more seats in the Senate. Codifying privacy rights and reproductive freedoms into federal law; passage of the much-needed Freedom to Vote Act; expansion of the corrupted U.S. Supreme Court to un-corrupt it. That all become possible in such an event, just to cite a few of the most pressing issues. But what happens if they don't? [Audio link to today's full show follows this summary.]

We've noted that it remains an uphill battle for Democrats to hold their majorities in either chamber of Congress this year, much less expand one of them. So, what happens if Republicans win a majority in one or both?

In short, it would be very very bad for a host of reasons, including for democracy itself. But TPM's Kate Riga detailed just some of the political nightmares that are likely to occur, as Republicans have revealed in their own words. From endless Congressional investigations of nonsense (think "Benghazi on steroids") to pointless culture war legislation that would be vetoed by President Biden even if it somehow overcame a Senate filibuster, to impotent efforts to impeach the President and various members of his Cabinet...for something or other.

But, even without majorities in both chambers, Republicans can wreak extraordinary damage to both the U.S. and global economies simply by re-upping their 2011 "Tea Party" scheme to hold the nation (and world) hostage to any number of demands in exchange for raising the dumb debt ceiling next year. ("Dumb", because it's absurd that the U.S. even has such a statute requiring Congressional permission to borrow money to pay for stuff that has already been purchased with Congressional and Presidential authority. Also "dumb" because Republicans only use it as a dangerous bargaining chip when a Democrat is in the White House. Despite blowing up the deficit by trillions during the Trump Administration, the debt limit was raised three times by Congress with nary a peep.)

As Riga and others have reported this week, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the GOP's presumptive House Speaker if they take back a majority, has signaled that his party intends to hold cuts to Medicare and Social Security among hostages in exchange for agreeing to lift the debt ceiling. That, in the words of our guest today, would be "catastrophic" on several levels.

We're joined today by Congressional historian, political scientist and author NORM ORNSTEIN, who has been covering Congress for nearly 50 years via the conservative American Enterprise Institute, where he is a Senior Fellow Emeritus and now as contributing editor and columnist for The Atlantic.

Last week at The Atlantic, Ornstein warned that it's not just "democracy at stake this fall", as he asked "how far would a Republican majority go?" in undermining the U.S. economy in advance of the 2024 Presidential election. He recounts the first real use of the debt ceiling as a blunt political instrument to wreak havoc on U.S. policy and the economy along with it by the "Tea Party" back in 2011. While a last minute compromise at the time avoided a first-ever default of the U.S. government and the inability to pay its debts, the brinkmanship and hostage-taking cost the economy billions. Our credit rating was downgraded for the first time ever and the Dow plunged some 2,000 points.

But Ornstein is now more worried about what may happen next year if the GOP wins a House majority. As he explains today, "back in 2011, there were grownups in the room who kept it from getting out of control." Today, however "we're in a different world."

"In the past," he tells me, citing Donald Trump as an "accelerant" for GOP "dysfunction," "we still had what we could think of as a political party, even as it began to go downhill. But now it's a full-blown cult. The willingness of new members coming in, joining with a lot of radical members who will be returning to blow the whole thing up, the lack of interest in fundamental institutions or in the need to be responsible at governance is astonishing."

"I have never, in fifty-plus years of being immersed in the institution, seen a weaker or more pathetic leader than Kevin McCarthy," he says. "The idea that he would stop them from mayhem is, at this point, not believable."

"Other than that the fact that these are radicals dominating the party, they can't pass legislation on their own. They can't impeach and convict and remove from office the officials they would want to, including the President and the Attorney General and Sec. of Homeland Security, among many others."

But, as Ornstein adds, they will have "the power for the purse" with which they can cause extraordinary damage both here and around the world. He details both the chaos and what Democrats can do to try and preempt it during the Lame Duck period after the November midterms in the event that Republicans win back a majority in one or both chambers.

"The best thing to do is to do as every other country does and eliminate this ridiculous device [the debt ceiling]," but, since Dems can't do that on their own via reconciliation, they could invoke "the ironically named McConnell Rule" through reconciliation to stave off the threat of GOP debt ceiling brinkmanship that could result in a first-ever financial default by the nation. Tune in for an explanation of that ironically named rule and much more on all of this today.

Or, of course, Americans could simply reelect Democrats to majorities in both chambers and avoid the guaranteed nightmares that lie ahead with GOP control of either, now that they have wasted away into little more than a radical, extremist, "full-blown cult."

Finally, we close today with a fascinating spy story, of sorts, regarding retiring, eight-term Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and the U.S. intel agencies during the lead-up to the Iraq War (which he voted against), based on false evidence of WMDs hyped by the Bush/Cheney Administration...

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UT's Sen. Lee in dead heat; Biden Admin begins student loan forgiveness; Biden vows to codify 'Roe' if Dems hold House, increase Senate majority; Also: Trump/Barr's dumb Special Counsel Durham loses another case...
By Brad Friedman on 10/18/2022 6:20pm PT  

Democratic voters, it seems, are an easily spooked bunch. A few bad polls and some seem ready to all but throw in the towel on the November midterms. But now is not the time for that sort of thinking. As discussed on today's BradCast, there is simply too much at stake this year --- Constitutional freedoms, democracy itself, survival on Planet Earth, just to name a few --- to get sidetracked by despair. To paraphrase Obama, don't boo-hoo! Vote! (And make sure everyone else you know does the same!) [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

It was always gonna be an uphill fight this year. It still is. But it makes no sense to wallow. It does make sense to get to work. As President Biden correctly noted this afternoon, "Today we face an inflection point, one of those moments that only come around every several generations where there's so much change happening --- technologically, politically, and socially --- that the decisions we make now are going to determine the future of our nation and the future of your generation for the next 30 or more years."

With all of that in mind, these are among the stories covered on today's program...

  • Breaking just before airtime: Special Counsel John Durham --- tapped by Donald Trump and Bill Barr to investigate the investigators who investigated Russia's interference in the 2016 election --- is now 0 for 2 in Court. Igor Danchenko, said to have been a primary source for the so-called "Steel dossier", was charged in Durham's probe with five counts of lying to the FBI. He was acquitted today by a jury on all charges. He was the second to be indicted by Durham and then fully exonerated at trial. Even more humiliating for Durham: he personally handled most of the argument and questioning in court and reportedly ended up being rebuffed by his own witnesses who provided support for the defense. Worse, Danchenko, a Russian citizen living in the U.S., was reportedly "a treasured FBI informant" whose indictment "hurt U.S. national security."
  • Last week we detailed the five U.S. Senate seats that could plausibly be flipped this year from Republican to Democratic (in PA, OH, WI, NC and FL) and the two Democratic seats that could plausibly be won by Republicans (in NV and GA). At the end of yesterday's show, however, we added another to the Plausible Red to Blue list when the "gold standard" Des Moines Register poll over the weekend found Iowa's 89-year old, 7-term Republican Senator Chuck Grassley to be just three points ahead of his Democratic challenger Mike Franken. Today, there's yet another Republican Senate seat said to be in jeopardy --- in deep red Utah of all places! According to two different polls, independent candidate Evan McMullin is said to be in a dead heat with GOP Senator Presidential election theft enthusiast and not Trump "bootlicker" Mike Lee. On Monday, the two sparred in their only debate. It didn't go all that well for Lee.
  • On Monday, the Biden Administration opened its student loan forgiveness program at StudentAid.gov. The process has reportedly already served some 12 million applicants who may be forgiven for as much as $20,000 in debt. The process to apply reportedly takes no more than five minutes. All that is needed is a name, birthdate and social security number. The government will supposedly take care of the rest. At the same time, Republicans are suing to block Biden's program, created via Executive Order. But if they believe it's truly illegal, as Slate's Mark Joseph Stern observes today, they should introduce a bill to force those who received debt forgiveness to pay the money back. Do you think Republicans will do so?
  • On Tuesday, President Biden spoke at a DNC event and vowed to codify the Constitutional rights and freedoms previously guaranteed by Roe v. Wade into federal law as his first order of business in January, after our corrupt, stolen and packed Republican Supreme Court majority took privacy rights and reproductive freedoms away from Americans last June. We share Biden's remarks today. But, in order to enact those protections, as he points out, Dems will need to hold their House majority and pick up at least two more Democratic Senators willing to reform the undemocratic Senate filibuster rule in November. If that happens, not only can abortion and privacy rights be protected by federal law, but voting rights can be expanded and protected, and the corrupt Supreme Court itself can be expanded and un-corrupted. But, again, if that's what you'd like to see, you better to get to work between now and November 8!
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with news on how GOP rollbacks to climate policies made things worse for Florida; how the Pacific Northwest is facing record heat and wildfires in mid-October(!); how FL's Sen. Rick Scott wants the government to do less for disaster victims; and how a can of soup and a priceless Van Gogh have sparked debate over climate protest tactics...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Sue Wilson of Media Action Center; Also: DoJ recommend six months for Bannon; Rightwing '2000 Mules' fraudsters face FBI, IRS referrals from AZ's GOP A.G.; And, Could Grassley actually lose in IA?!...
By Brad Friedman on 10/17/2022 6:55pm PT  

We are finally beginning to see the start of some real accountability for so many of the countless rightwing hoaxsters, fraudsters and scam artists who enjoyed their hey days during the Trump Era. Specifically on today's BradCast, we're beginning to see accountability for rightwing hoaxsters Steve Bannon, Alex Jones and the fraudsters calling themselves True the Vote. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

WE KICK THINGS OFF today with Donald Trump's former aide Steve Bannon, a guy willing to allegedly hoax millions of Trump's own supporters to raise money to build a border wall, while secretly keeping millions for himself and his fellow hoaxsters. He will face trial for those charges in New York. But this week he's facing sentencing after being found guilty on two counts of contempt of Congress for failing to respond to subpoenas for documents and testimony from the bipartisan House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection and Trump's failed attempts to steal the 2020 Presidential election. The DoJ is recommending 6 months of prison time and a $200,000 fine. The sentencing hearing will be before a Trump-appointed federal judge this Friday.

NEXT UP, we're joined by award-winning broadcast journalist turned media activist SUE WILSON of Media Action Center to discuss the dangerous lies of rightwing hoaxster Alex Jones. Last week in Connecticut, Jones was ordered to pay $965 million in damages to parents of children killed in 2012's Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. Jones was previously held liable in Texas in a separate defamation suit by other parents who also lost children in the mass shooting that resulted in the murders of 20 first graders and 6 adults.

Jones, as Wilson reported at The BRAD BLOG last week, denied that anyone was ever killed at Sandy Hook, claiming the parents of the children were "crisis actors" and that it was all a hoax by those who support gun safety measures. After years of using our public airwaves to repeat those false claims, many of the parents in question were traumatized, confronted by Jones' supporters and were forced to move, thanks to continuous harassment from some of Jones' deranged fans.

But the critical point Wilson asked in her piece was why it is that Jones is still broadcasting over our public airwaves at all? She notes today that some activists have complained to radio stations to successfully have his show removed from the air. But, she says he still remains on about 25 stations which are licensed to broadcast in exchange for "serving in the public interest". As Wilson details on today's show, there are still FCC regulations on the books barring the use of our public airwaves to promote hoaxes that involve crimes such as murder. Nevertheless, no action has been taken by the federal government against Jones or the stations who air him. We discuss why that may be, how listeners can take action to change that and the First Amendment issues surrounding the matter.

THEN, we've spent too much time on past shows already detailing how the GOP "voter fraud" fraudster group calling itself True the Vote (TTV) attempted to hoax the nation by creating a fake documentary with fellow hoaxster (and convicted election fraudster) Dinesh D'Souza called 2000 Mules.

The premise of the film is that TTV claims to have purchased third-party cellphone geolocation data that supposedly reveals thousands of phone users repeatedly visiting absentee ballot drop-boxes in multiple battleground states in 2020 to cast hundreds of thousands of fraudulent votes. Moreover, the group claims they have thousands of hours of surveillance camera video footage revealing the same "mules" visiting these drop-boxes over and over to cast the phony ballots.

The film was thoroughly debunked as nonsense almost immediately upon its release earlier this year. In fact, it includes no actual footage of anybody casting fraudulent votes. But certain rightwing dupes, including the former President, falsely insist that it does. Just last week, for example, in response to the House J6 Committee voting to subpoena Trump, he responded with an absurd 14-page reply [PDF] citing dozens of (long-ago debunked) instances of fraud in the 2020 election. He cited TTV's 2000 Mules film, claiming the group "collected over 4 million minutes of ballot drop box video, showing ballot stuffing at a level not seen before." The result, he falsely asserted, proved that "millions of ballots were stuffed...an Election-changing number many times over."

All of it, of course, is nonsense. And, as it turns out, even the office of Arizona's far-right, voter-suppression friendly Attorney General Mark Brnovich has now noticed. On Friday, the Criminal Division in his office referred TTV to the FBI and IRS for investigation. The AZ A.G. explains in their two-page referral letter [PDF] that, despite multiple meetings with the group's founder Catherine Engelbrecht and researcher Greg Phillips, who both claimed to have video evidence of fraud they promised to turn over, they never actually did. Furthermore, as the letter explains, the pair also met with FBI officials in Phoenix and claimed to have turned over the data to Brnovich's office. They later met again with Brnovich's office and claimed they gave the data to the FBI!

"Given TTV's status as a nonprofit organization," the Chief Special Agent in Brnovich's criminal division office wrote to the FBI and IRS on Friday, "it would appear that further review of its financials may be warranted."

FINALLY, on one of our programs last week, I broke down the five Republican U.S. Senate seats (in PA, OH, WI, NC and FL) that appear to have a plausible possibility of flipping to Democratic in November's critical midterm elections, and the two Democratic seats (in GA and NV) that could plausibly flip to Republican. But over the weekend, the Des Moines Register poll --- considered the Gold Standard for political polling in Iowa --- released an eyebrow raising survey finding that the state's 89-year old seven-term Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, now running for his eighth term, is only three points ahead of his Democratic challenger, retired U.S. Navy Admiral Mike Franken, among likely voters. The poll shows Grassley leads with 46% of the vote to Franken's 43%. Could that seat really be up for grabs in the Hawkeye State next month?!...

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Also: MAGA leader now recruiting, training MI poll workers; DeSantis finally issues post-Ian election plan for GOP-leaning FL counties...
By Brad Friedman on 10/14/2022 6:12pm PT  

As another exhausting week wraps up on The BradCast, we've got a number of follow-ups today on several stories we've been covering throughout the week, and a few all-new reasons to be concerned about the critical upcoming midterm elections. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the stories covered today...

  • Newly-released footage from January 6, 2021 reveals then 80-year old Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying she wanted to "punch out" Donald Trump after he had sent insurrectionists to attack the U.S. Capitol. Tom Fitton, rightwing operative, conman and Trump henchman, is just outraged by that! Curiously, he is not at all outraged, by yesterday's House J6 Committee revelation that he wrote a speech for then President Trump, days before the 2020 election, instructing him to declare victory on Election Night --- whether he'd actually won or not --- and then demand the counting of all ballots immediately be stopped. "We had an election today, and I won," the memo suggested Trump declare, as detailed by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) on Thursday. The memo then instructed Trump demand only votes counted by the end of Election Day be allowed. That, of course, would disenfranchise millions of lawful American voters. The disgraceful Fitton serves as President of the far-right Judicial Watch activist nonprofit and reportedly also advised Trump that he was legally allowed to steal thousands of classified documents from the White House upon leaving office.
  • Meanwhile, Trump's allies in Congress, lead by Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, are pretending to be furious that the bipartisan House Select Committee investigating Trump's insurrection and failed attempts to steal the 2020 election voted to subpoena the former President for documents and testimony on Thursday. House Republicans were so eager to demonstrate their clownish fury that they even attacked one of their own employees, as "just another liar and pawn in Pelosi's witch-hunt"...until they realized she worked them, and quickly deleted the tweet.
  • Of course, there was Trump's own hilarious, 14-page response [PDF] to the subpoena (which has not actually been issued to him yet). Clearly written for his duped followers who he hopes haven't watched any of the J6 hearings, it offers his usual tired bogus claims and long-ago debunked nonsense to falsely insist (in all-caps, because that makes it extra true): "THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 2020 WAS RIGGED AND STOLEN!" Will he actually answer the subpoena and testify under oath before the Committee? The cowardly liar failed to say as much.
  • One of the millions of dupes who were dumb and incurious enough to buy into Trump's evidence-free claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him is a woman named Genevieve Peters. She helped encourage J6 protesters to attack the Capitol in D.C. on January 6, participated in other so-called "Stop the Steal" rallies, and hung around with the leader of the Proud Boys, according to social media posts that she has been furiously removing from her own Facebook page. She has now been hired by Macomb County, Michigan, its third most populous, to recruit and train pollworkers for the 2022 midterms.
  • More than two weeks after Hurricane Ian made its devastating landfall in Florida, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis finally issued an Executive Order [PDF] on Thursday expanding early voting and vote-by-mail in the state's three hardest hit counties (Lee, Charlotte and Sarasota). On Monday's BradCast, we discussed the delay in approving the plan sought by Lee County, home of Fort Myers, and others where Ian made landfall, with the now-retired, legendary 30-year Florida election official Ion Sancho, who was very worried about whether many Floridians would be able to vote at all this year. We checked back with Sancho to get his reaction to DeSantis' newly-issued EO. He lauds the plan for granting "the flexibility sought by the election officials in three of the most damaged counties," before noting that "Counties further inland had record flooding," leaving still-displaced citizens completely ignored by DeSantis' order. "The counties granted flexibility are heavily Republican," Sancho told me. "The hurricane hit counties further inland are much more Democratic leaning."
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with her usual mix of bad (more billion-dollar weather disasters than ever and wetter storms than ever) and good (an explosion of investment in renewable energy and EV manufacturing in the U.S., and Joe Biden's first declaration of a new national monument) news...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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