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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, April 17, 2021
Taking the 'DUH' Out of Floriduh: 'BradCast' 4/16/21
Guest host Nicole Sandler with Rep. Ted Deutch and journalist Ryan Grim...
Corporations Pretend to
Stand Up for Democracy:
'BradCast' 4/15/21
Guest: Pulitzer Prize-winning biz journalist Michael Hiltzik; Also: New U.S. sanctions on Russia reveal previously unknown detail on alleged 2016 election interference...
'Green News Report' 4/15/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
US threat assessments finds climate change a clear, present danger; Japan to dump radio-active water in ocean; Biden undoing Trump damage; PLUS: France to ban short flights...
Previous GNRs: 4/13/21 - 4/8/21 - Archives...
Biden's Infrastructure Plan Begins End of Govt Socialism for Fossil Fuel Industry: 'BradCast' 4/14/21
Guest: David Roberts of Volts; Also: DHS knew Capitol was 'target'; Biden to end 'forever war'...
'Both Sides'? Really, Liz?: 'BradCast' 4/13
New data shows stunning rise in RW domestic terror; Also: US 'out' of Afghanistan by 9/11/21; J&J vaccine 'paused'; Cop, police chief resign in MN; Appalling video shows VA cops pepper-spraying black service member in car...
'Green News Report' 4/13/21
Western drought worsens before fire season, water cuts; CA's fire prevention plan; EV battery company settlement; PLUS: NOAA predicts bad 2021 hurricane season...
The SCOTUS-Approved, FCC Ownership Rule Catch-22: 'BradCast' 4/12/21
Guest: Sue Wilson of the Media Action Center; Also: More news from vaccination nation; More corporate pushback against vote suppression...
SCOTUS Approves FCC Rule to Allow Further Consolidation of Local Media Outlets
The FCC, under Trump, created a Catch-22 on new rule, requiring private research to counter hidden public data...
Sunday 'Avoid the Politicks' Toons
PDiddie's Springtime reminder to avoid 'blood-sucking insects' in his latest collection of the week's best toons...
GOP 'Legislative' Agenda Now Carried Out by Activist SCOTUS: 'BradCast' 4/9/21
Guest: Court expert Ian Millhiser; Also: Amazon union vote loses in AL; Biden's new SCOTUS reform Comm.; Hating on Cruz and Graham...
'Green News Report' 4/8/21
Biden on dumb GOP infrastructure attacks; Abandoned oil, gas wells loom; Treasury to help private sector decarbon-ize economy; PLUS: GM's all in on EV future...
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 first presser and filibuster reform; Good economic numbers, maddening COVID numbers; Death penalty banned in VA; NY finally goes to pot; GA undermines democracy; Senate GOP pretends vote suppression doesn't exist; Also: Oil and plastic...
By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2021 7:05pm PT  

Lots of news, breaking and otherwise, on today's BradCast. Much of it encouraging, some of it much less so. Join us, won't you? [Audio link to full show follows summary below.]

We begin today with Joe Biden's first press conference as President, as he answered a bunch of questions, often in detail, on a bunch of topics. We focus specifically on the questions and his answers on both reforming the filibuster and the almost certain need to do so in order to see passage of the Democrats' massive, much-needed electoral reform bill, the "For the People Act" in the U.S. Senate. That measure, as Biden seems to understand quite clearly, will be needed to counter the avalanche of voter suppression laws being moved, right now, through state legislatures by Republicans.

We share a number of his remarks in response to those efforts and read the tea leaves on what seems to be his commitment to first restoring the "Talking Filibuster" in the Senate and then, if necessary, perhaps even doing away with it all together for passage of democracy and civil rights-related measures.

As to the anti-democracy schemes being pushed by Republicans around the country, Biden says: "How un-American this whole initiative is. It's sick. It's sick," referring to the measure which has now been passed and signed in Georgia that would, among many other things, outlaw even given water to voters standing on line. He claims that "Republican voters I know find this despicable" and that "this makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle." As to being pressed on his plans to counter GOP obstructionism in the Senate, he teases: "Successful electoral politics is the Art of the Possible."

Amongst the rest of the flurry of news covered on today's show...

  • Donald Trump's figure at a wax museum in San Antonio has been removed for now, after it was repeatedly punched in the face --- which presents me with a serious moral dilemma.
  • For the first time since the pandemic began a year ago, last week's jobless claims fell to a number that is finally below the all-time, pre-pandemic weekly record. That is a good --- if still precarious --- sign.
  • A new report finds that 400,000 American lives could have been saved had the U.S. adopted widespread masking, social distancing and testing protocols by late May last year. 400,000 lives! Kinda makes ya want to punch a wax statue of Donald Trump in the face.
  • In some long-overdue good progressive news, the Governor of Virginia --- in a state which has killed more people with the death penalty than any other state --- signed a bill to ban the barbaric, racist practice once and for all. The state becomes the first in the South to do so.
  • In some long-overdue good progressive news in the North, New York State lawmakers finalized a deal with the scandal-plagued Gov. Cuomo to legalize recreational marijuana in the state, in a plan "crafted with an intense focus on making amends in communities impacted by the decades-long war on drugs." There's some more, very good racial justice news today.
  • Breaking late during today's show, the Georgia legislature adopted a massive voter suppression bill that we discussed in detail on yesterday's BradCast with Marilyn Marks of the Coalition for Good Governance, when she warned about a little discussed provision that will allow a partisan State Board of Elections to replace any County's Board of Elections with one partisan person for virtually any reason they wish. Had this measure been in place in 2020, she explained, the legislature could have used it to overturn the results of the Presidential election in Atlanta. Georgia's champion vote suppressing Secretary of State turned Governor Brian Kemp signed the measure moments later, just after we signed off air tonight. (See Biden's comments above about how "sick" and "despicable" all of this is.)
  • At the same time, Republicans in the U.S. Senate. on Wednesday are pretending there is no voter suppression being adopted by states at all around the country. One of them --- Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) --- speaking up in favor of banning Sunday "souls to the polls" voting, which is popular with Black church-goers, believes voting on Sunday shouldn't be allowed anyway...because God says so.
  • And, before we get to Desi Doyen and the GNR, a bit more breaking news out of California, where those as young as 50 will be eligible for COVID vaccines as of April 1, and those older than 16 will be able to sign up beginning on April 15.
  • Finally, Desi joins us for our latest Green News Report, for a delightfully toxic blend of the fossil fuel industry's oil and plastic...that is killing us all.

As suggested, some encouraging news on today's show, and some that is less so. We don't make it. We just deliver it. Enjoy!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: Team Trump attorney responds to Dominion defamation suit by claiming 'no reasonable person' could have believed her false conspiracy theories...
By Brad Friedman on 3/24/2021 6:46pm PT  

We've been doing our best on The BradCast, to keep you up to date with the various attempted assaults on voting rights that Republicans are trying to enact in dozens of state legislatures around the country, in response to Donald Trump's evidence-free Big Lie that the 2020 election was somehow stolen from him. But what is going on in Georgia right now, where lawmakers are attempting an extraordinary power grab to essentially give themselves control over entire elections and their results, is even worse and more disturbing than you have likely heard. [Audio link to full show follows summary below.]

First up today, however, speaking of fraudulent claims about fraud in the 2020 election, Team Trump attorney Sidney Powell filed her response to Dominion Voting System's $1.3 billion defamation suit [PDF] against her, and it's fairly hilarious.

Her Motion to Dismiss [PDF] includes her defense that "no reasonable person" could have interpreted her outlandish claims that Dominion's voting and tabulation systems were used to steal the election for Joe Biden via a massive international conspiracy (bastardized and reimagined, in no small part, from my decade-old accurate, exclusive reporting on several voting machine companies tied at one point to Venezuela) were actually "statements of fact". Her four failed "Kraken" lawsuits, and countless appearance on wingnut media making such claims, she now appears to be arguing, were little more than her political opinion, which nobody could have mistaken for facts. Therefore, she argues, she cannot be held accountable under the First Amendment. Good luck with that, Sidney. Clearly, voters in Stark County, OH and in the state of Louisiana --- "reasonable" or not --- bought into her lies, as a mountain of complaints about Dominion since the election has resulted in both jurisdictions ending their consideration of multi-million contracts with the Canadian-based voting equipment vendor.

Powell's repeated fraudulent fraud claims and those by Trump himself following the 2020 election have had other real world consequences, including the deadly MAGA Mob attack on the U.S. Capitol in January to try and "stop the steal", as well as now hundreds of voter suppression bills being pushed by GOP lawmakers in more than 40 states.

As Georgia's legislative sessions comes to an end next week, there has been a dizzying flurry of proposals in both the state house and senate to target voting, mostly effecting minority voters. Last week, a two-page GOP bill on absentee ballot applications was substituted at the last minute by Republicans with a 93-page omnibus bill that includes dozens of new voting restrictions and reforms. The measure was revealed to Democratic state lawmakers and voting rights advocates just one hour before a committee hearing for it in the state House of Representatives.

Stacey Abrams' Fair Fight Action group described the measure as "A desperate power grab to appease insurrectionists and losing political candidates." The bill, according to Georgia Public Broadcasting, introduced dozens of new restrictions including "including banning people from giving food and water to voters waiting in line, limiting early voting days for larger counties, and adding ID requirements to absentee ballots."

Many of those provisions have received a fair amount of public attention over the past week, including the attempt to end Sunday "souls to the polls" voting, which is popular with religious Black voters who traditionally head to the polls en masse after church services. That provision, and an attempt to scrap no-excuse absentee voting, have both now been withdrawn by Republicans after public backlash, according to our guest today. But, she is now far more concerned with a, so far, little noticed provision that would allow the partisan, legislature-appointed State Board of Elections to undermine and even reverse elections results in any county in the state by replacing any bi-partisan County Elections Board with a single person of their choosing, for virtually any reason they like.

One of our longtime go-to sources on Georgia election disasters, MARILYN MARKS of the Coalition for Good Governance, joins us for the first time in the new year to sound the alarm bell on that provision, and a few others which, she warns, are not receiving nearly enough attention from the public.

"It's hard to express the danger of what it is they are trying to do," she tells me, explaining how the State Board of Elections (currently a five-person board, with one Democrat) would "be able to take over any County where they don't like how the County is counting the votes, how the County's election processes work...really with no due process. With just a few minor violations --- which anybody can find with any County --- the State Election Board can come swooping in [and] put their partisan appointee in the place of the public Board. They wipe out the public [County] Board of Elections and put one person in charge."

If that measure had been in place during 2020, she warns, it could have been used to overturn election results in, say, Fulton County (Atlanta) at the whim of partisans on the State Board.

As were speaking today, the New York Times published an article warning about this very issue as well, quoting Abrams charging that "Republicans are brazenly trying to seize local and state election authority in an unprecedented power grab." Echoing Marks, Abrams warns its "intended to alter election outcomes and remove state and county election officials who refuse to put party above the people."

"They could literally send in their appointee, fire all of the election board, have no more public meetings, conduct all of the balloting behind closed doors, certify whoever they wanted to as the winner, and there's hardly anything that could be done about it," Marks explains. "They are trying to make that law."

She also details how the GOP attempt to change mail-in ballot authentication from using signatures --- a system that now works well in the Peach State, she says --- to using things like drivers license numbers, will actually make absentee ballot fraud easier rather than more difficult. Marks, a longtime Republican (though not any more), explains that her attempts to warn GA's GOP lawmakers about this seems to be getting dismissed because, she says, those lawmakers don't seem to actually care about fraud. They are more interesting in sayiing they did something to respond to their constituents' unsupported belief that signature verification is being easily defeated by fraudsters. (Now where would those folks have come up with that idea?)

"They shake their head and say, 'You're right. This does degrade security. But the Secretary of State [Brad Raffensperger] wants this, and everybody is marching to his tune, and we know we are going to get all sorts of hell when the voters find out what we're doing, but we feel under such pressure to do something.' ... They're going to do 'something' even if it's wrong," Marks insists.

We also discuss her long-standing federal lawsuit to try and decertify the 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems made by Dominion Voting Systems that Raffensperger deployed statewide for the first time last year. He did so after the Coalition's lawsuit resulted in a 2019 ruling by a federal judge that the state's previous, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting system made by Diebold was both unverifiable and unsecure and, therefore, unconstitutional. Marks offers a status report on the case, as she hopes for an eventual ruling on the Dominion machines similar to the one that ended the state's use of the older, similarly vulnerable Diebold systems. And no, she explains, though she has been very tough on Dominion's systems over the years, she is not concerned about a defamation lawsuit from the company akin to the ones filed against Powell and Rudy Giuliani by the voting system vendor.

"We don't allege things that we don't have very solid proof of," she says. "We have the nation's top security experts working with us under penalty of perjury. We work in fact, not ridiculous allegations like Sidney Powell's group"...

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Heroes and heartbreak in Boulder; Filibuster reform inches forward; Response to Siegelman interview, Repub recall of CA's Dem Governor...
By Brad Friedman on 3/23/2021 6:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast: While U.S. flags were already at half-staff following last week's mass killings in Atlanta, another mass shooting erupted on Monday in Boulder, Colorado. On Tuesday, President Biden called for the flags to remain lowered, for the U.S. Senate to pass two bills already approved by the U.S. House to close loopholes in our federal background check system; and to restore the ban on assault weapons that helped keep down such mass casualty events before the George W. Bush Administration allowed it to expire. [Audio link to show follows summary below.]

"We can ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country once again. I got that done when I was a Senator. It passed. It was law for the longest time, and it brought down these mass killings. We should do it again," the President urged in his brief remarks at the White House. "This is not and should not be a partisan issue; this is an American issue. It will save lives --- American lives --- and we have to act."

Today, we cover some of the reaction following the latest mass shooting in the U.S., which took 10 lives at a supermarket in Boulder yesterday. We honor the heroes that include not only the police who responded --- one of whom, who had seven children, was killed during the shooting --- but also the grocery store workers who courageously helped to save customer lives in the store and, as their union has noted, have been risking their lives for all of us every day over the past year, as essential workers during the pandemic.

We also note the reactions from those who have spent years working to support the ability of terrorists to easily acquire weapons of mass destruction --- such as CO's Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert and the Colorado State Shooters Association --- who suddenly feel that this is no time to talk about guns. "Congressman" Boebert, who appears with guns in virtually appearance, says she "refuses" to use this shooting "to advance a political agenda." And the Shooters Association informs us that "Today is not a day to cloud our remembrance with ... emotional sensationalism."

All of that, after a state judge, just 10 days ago, struck down a law adopted unanimously by the Boulder City Council in 2018 to ban assault weapons in the city, after years of similar massacres in the Centennial State and elsewhere. The Colorado State Shooters Association was one of the plaintiffs in that case, which was "celebrated" just last week by the disgraced, terrorist-supporting NRA, because local laws supported by residents in the CO town were preempted by Big Government at the state and federal level.

But, despite urging from the President on Tuesday, if Republicans won't even agree to allow an up or down vote on background checks, the lowest hanging fruit when it comes to gun safety reforms, it seems impossible to imagine they would ever agree to restoring the federal assault weapons ban. That, no matter how many American lives it might save, no matter how many of their own constituents continue to be massacred in these tragic events.

In response to GOP intransigence, conservative, institutionalist Democrats in the U.S. Senate late last week and over the weekend, continued to inch toward support for filibuster reform --- the only way that gun safety reform and most of the rest of the Democrats' ambitious, progressive agenda will ever be adopted. So there's a small amount of encouraging news on another dark day.

Also today, some response from listeners to our interview with Alabama's former Democratic Governor, Don Siegelman on yesterday's BradCast and his response --- as someone who knows a thing or two about GOP hit jobs on popular Democratic Governors --- to the attempted recall of California's progressive Governor, Gavin Newsom.

Finally, we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, as yet another natural disaster befalls Australia; our global climate crisis becomes the top cause for refugees worldwide; and the Biden White House begins to unveil its promised massive, long-overdue, nearly $4 trillion infrastructure (and climate) plan...

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'It reeks of politics,' says Don Siegelman, citing Repub campaign 'laced with racism,' aimed at sabotaging 'a rising star in the Democratic Party'
Also: Siegelman on Biden and hopes for criminal justice reform; The Amazon unionization vote near Birmingham; And whether he might run for public office again in the future...
By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2021 6:41pm PT  

On today's BradCast: an exclusive interview with someone who knows a thing or two about GOP hit jobs on Democratic Governors. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

Republicans are having trouble of late winning elections by simply having the most popular positions. Thus, the attempts to lie about their positions, to suppress the vote and, in California, to try and recall another Democratic Governor, in a state where Republicans are wildly unpopular.

It now appears that the rightwing effort to place a recall of first-term Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom on the ballot will be successful. The Republican scheme to remove Newsom has reportedly gained more than enough signatures to place the measure on the ballot (2.1 million gathered, 1.5 million needed), though those signatures now need to be certified by each of the state's 59 counties and those who signed (64% are Republicans, 25% have No Party Preference, and just 6% are registered Democrats), will also be able to remove their names by the time a date is set for the election.

When and if it happens later this year, it would place two questions on the ballot: 1) Should Newsom be recalled from office? And 2) If so, who should replace him? That second referendum also raises an interesting question: Should Democrats bother to place a plausible Dem on the ballot, in the event that Newsom is officially recalled by the first question, even as registered Democrats now outnumber registered Republicans in the Golden State by a nearly 2 to 1 margin? It was not all that long ago when Democratic Gov. Gray Davis was set up by Republicans (and a phony, Enron-generated energy "scandal") for a recall, in which he was ultimately replaced by Republicans with Hollywood superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger.

We're joined today by Alabama's former Democratic GOV. DON SIEGELMAN who has, for years, explained how his election to a second term was stolen from him via a computerized optical-scan tabulator system in the middle of the night, and how he was subsequently targeted by Karl Rove and GOP operatives including Siegelman's main rival, Gov. Bob Riley, in a scheme which would send him to jail on a 7-year federal sentence. The "bribery" charge he was convicted of, as more than 100 former Republican and Democratic state Attorneys General explained in a letter to federal officials, should not have been considered bribery in the first place, did not net Siegelman one thin dime, and had never been a crime at all until the popular Alabama Governor was charged with it.

Siegelman --- who has now finished serving his time and has written a book about it called STEALING OUR DEMOCRACY: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Nation --- now sees a similar scheme in the effort to take down California's first term progressive Democratic Governor Newsom.

"This is nothing more than a Republican attempt to create turmoil, to rev up its troops, to try --- to try --- to replace Gavin Newsom, who is a rising star in the Democratic Party," Siegelman tells me. "This is exactly what they did to Gray Davis."

Responding to the news we shared from the San Francisco Chronicle over the weekend, detailing the repeated racist slurs from the official Recall Campaign --- on its website, by its advisors, organizers and funders --- referring to the "China virus", "Wuhan flu", etc., amid a wave of hate crimes against the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community since the COVID epidemic began, Siegelman argues the effort is "laced with racism."

"Coming from Alabama, I'm steeped in the politics of racism, starting with [four-term Alabama Governor] George Wallace," Siegelman explains. "I lived through that era where he was raising the Confederate battle flag at the state capitol and a few months later, four little girls at a Birmingham Church were blown to death with a dynamite bomb by the Ku Klux Klan because they felt emboldened by the racist comments of a Southern governor.  That's the danger of these people, like those who are organizing the recall of Gov. Newsom. It has serious consequences."

"On a political front," he adds, the recall effort "has to be taken seriously. Democrats have to understand that these people will do anything to try to take over our democracy, and it doesn't matter what they have to do to do it."

"Throughout the United States, they're trying to steal our democracy through changing election laws," the Governor notes, citing the more than 250 GOP measures now moving through more than 40 states to suppress the vote after the party lost the White House and U.S. Senate in last year's election. "HR1 [a massive Democratic election reform measure adopted by the U.S. House, but stalled by the filibuster in the U.S. Senate] needs to pass, in some form or other, and Joe Biden has simply got to find the votes to get it passed. If he has to run over the Republicans to get it done, so be it."

We also discuss a number of other points today during the interview with the former Alabama Governor, who was not only the last Democratic Governor to serve the state since leaving office in 2003, but also the only person to ever be elected to every major statewide office (Attorney General, Sec. of State, Lt. Governor and Governor). That, before any Presidential aspirations the then very popular Governor might have had were ultimately thwarted by the GOP hit job. (Sound familiar?)

Among the other points we discuss today: The dangers still facing federal prisoners during the COVID pandemic (which he joined us to discuss almost a year ago at the beginning of the pandemic), and his hopes that President Biden will help improve conditions in federal facilities and otherwise institute long-overdue criminal justice reform; The ongoing election at an Amazon Fulfillment Center in Bessemer, Alabama (near Birmingham) that, if successful, would result in the first unionized Amazon warehouse in the nation; And whether Siegelman, now that he has finally completed his full sentence and served his time as a "political prisoner", has any interest in returning to elected public life. (There is, after all, a U.S. Senate seat opening up in Alabama next year, after Democrat turned Republican U.S. Senator Richard Shelby recently announced plans to retire at the end of his current term. ("Never say never," teases the former Guv...after I rudely force it out of him!)

Finally, we close with a few calls from listeners in response to all of the above --- or try to, anyway...as we find ourselves forced to work to overcome a few phone hook-up snafus here at the station today...

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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OH AG looks $5.5B federal gift-horse in mouth; AZ GOP sanctioned for 'groundless' lawsuit after well-run 2020 election; Repub attacks on democracy seek to send voters to 'Back of the Line'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/18/2021 7:17pm PT  

It's a bit of a grab bag on today's BradCast, but one that will hopefully keep you well prepared for your next conversation with any of your still brain-poisoned wingnut friends, family and coworkers.[Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Included in our grab bag of coverage today...

  • Ohio's Republican Attorney General Dave Yost is suing the Biden Administration because the $350 billion that the Democratic COVID relief bill (the American Rescue Plan) allocates to help all 50 states overcome a revenue cash crunch includes a provision that prevents states from using that free federal money to finance state tax cuts.
  • Of course, Ohio could also just refuse to take the $5.5 billion earmarked for them in the federal legislation, which not a single Republican voted for in the U.S. House or Senate, often describing it as a "blue state bailout". But, because we believe in facts around here...As detailed in a new report this week from the financial website WalletHub, Ohio's Republican-majority state government ranks 16th among those most dependent on the federal Government. In fact, the site's latest annual analysis finds that 11 of the top 12 states most dependent on D.C. are all controlled by Republicans, while 12 of the 14 least dependent are run by Democrats. In other words, "blue" state taxpayer dollars continue to be a perpetual "red" state bailout.
  • With the election of Joe Biden and two Democratic U.S. Senators in Arizona (the 7th most dependent on federal dollars), the state is finally trending "blue", even as Republicans still hold control of the state legislature and governor's mansion. But turning "purple" is only leading the state Republican Party to lurch farther and farther to the right under the embarrassing --- and now costly --- leadership of AZ GOP Chair Kelli Ward. This week, a state judge ordered the Party to pay $18,000 in costs and attorneys fees to the state's Democratic Secretary of State after a frivolous lawsuit sought to force another post-2020 election audit in Maricopa County (Phoenix). The "bad faith" and "groundless" GOP suit, as the judge noticed in his sanctions order describing the effort as "gaslighting," failed to recognize that the County had already run a post-election hand-counted ballot audit, finding no fraud or inaccuracies in its Dominion Voting System tabulators.
  • For good measure, in late January, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors commissioned another audit, this one examining voting system equipment and source code, searching for malicious software or hardware on the systems used in November, checking for evidence of inappropriate network or Internet connectivity issues and rechecking the accuracy of the tabulation system itself against millions of actual votes cast last year. In all cases, according to the two separate, independent, federally accredited voting system test labs commissioned to carry out the audit, "No Issues" were discovered across the board.
  • Despite the clean bill of health from those post-election audits and the failed, evidence-free lawsuits to try and overturn Biden's win in the Grand Canyon State, Republican lawmakers in the state legislature continue to move dozens of voter suppression bills forward in hopes of, at the very least, undercutting the state's very popular mail voting system, as used by 80 percent of voters (Republican and Democratic alike) even before the COVID pandemic. One such measure would both add onerous ID requirements to mail-in ballots and require that absentee ballots be postmarked by the Thursday before Election Day!
  • The efforts in Arizona are, of course, being echoed by Republicans in statehouses all across the country of late, with more than 250 voter suppression bills introduced in more than 40 states so far this year. All of which share the hope of making it harder for (certain) voters to cast ballots at all. The GOP has been hard at work at this sort of suppression for some time, though they are doubling and tripling down since the 2020 contest. All of which has echoes for folk singer/song writer MATT SIRCELY, whose new Back of the Line tune harkens back to the voting lines in Ohio in 2004, the lines of protesters marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama in 1965, and the bread lines of the Great Depression. If Matt thought that thanking me for inspiration on this song would lead us to play it on the show...he is correct!
  • Finally, we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, as extreme weather slams the North, South and West; as corporate media coverage of climate change fell over a cliff with the COVID pandemic last year; and as a top Texas utility regulator gets fired after being caught on tape helping to rig the system for corporate investors over Lone Star State rate-payers...

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Guest: Election integrity advocate, journalist Jennifer Cohn on newly discovered ES&S, EAC failures; Also: Biden endorses filibuster reform...
By Brad Friedman on 3/17/2021 7:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast: While Team Trump spent months pretending the Dominion Voting Systems company stole votes from Trump and flipped them to Biden with their computerized voting and tabulation systems, there is exactly zero independently verifiable evidence to support that baseless conclusion. At the same time, however, recently unearthed documents from the state of Texas and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), reveal a gaping security hole in new systems made by the largest voting system company in the nation, Election Systems and Software, Inc. (better known as ES&S), which has systems deployed in dozens of states. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But, first up today, some annoying (if long overdue) news that Donald Trump finally made it clear(ish), during a Tuesday interview on Fox "News", that he recommends his own supporters should, indeed, get vaccinated against COVID. He cites the "great" and "safe" vaccines that are now available, describing them as "something that works" to prevent the deadly disease. We hope his supporters listen, since they are currently the most disinclined to want to get vaccinated.

Next, some long overdue encouraging news on the Senate legislative filibuster. In a Tuesday interview with ABC News, President Biden --- a longtime Senate institutionalist previously opposed to filibuster reform --- said he now favors it being overhauled. He says he supports a modification to bring back the "talking filibuster", where obstructionists are forced to hold the floor and keep speaking until they can't anymore. That would place the onus on the minority hoping to block legislation, rather than forcing Democrats, in this case, to try and find 60 votes to pass anything at all. Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had no problem unilaterally killing the filibuster entirely to steal and pack Trump nominees onto the U.S. Supreme Court, now vows to grind the Senate to a halt if Dems dare change the legislative filibuster. But, of course, McConnell has already done that with his unprecedented use of the legislative filibuster to block everything! We discuss.

Then, on to our main story today. Shortly after the November election last year, Donald Trump and his gaggle of dopey friends and clueless, corrupt attorneys hatched an evidence-free conspiracy theory that Canadian-based Dominion Voting Systems had participated in an elaborate plot to secretly flip votes and steal the election for Biden. (The theory was based in part on my accurate, deep-dive exclusive investigative reporting from 2010, regarding some voting system vendors --- though not Dominion --- who then had ties to Venezuela and its then living President, Hugo Chavez. Team Trump bastardized that reporting to pretend it had something to do with their dumb theory that Dominion stole the 2020 election from Trump.) Dominion has since sued Team Trumpers Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell for defamation, slapping them with suits for $1.3 billion each. Last week, news out of Stark County, Ohio and out of Louisiana proved that Dominion is, in fact, being financially harmed by the fraudulent "fraud" plot used to try and discredit them.

But the nation's largest voting machine company, ES&S --- with a years-long, thuggish reputation according to elections insiders, along with a long history of failed elections on their crappy, computerized voting and tabulation systems --- largely escaped scrutiny by Republicans after last November's election. But they shouldn't have, given the disturbing, well-supported, deep-dive exclusive that election integrity advocate and Twitter phenom JENNIFER COHN broke last week at Who, What, Why. She joins us today to explain both her well-sourced report and its far-reaching ramifications.

As it turns out, she reports, there is a flaw in ES&S' installation process that prevents "hash-verification" when software is installed or patched onto their ExpressVote touchscreen voting systems. What that means, in layman's terms, is that its impossible to know if the software installed onto the systems actually matches the certified version of the software that was tested by federal testing authorities under the purview of the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission.

This gaping hole --- discovered by the state of Texas in advance of last November's election --- means that untested, modified software, perhaps containing malware, could potentially have been installed onto ES&S' systems in more than a dozen states last year. Even more maddening is that ES&S was well aware of this flaw, but told elections officials (if they happened to notice the failed hash test) that it was nothing to worry about, nothing to see here, everything is fine --- just trust us.

"The strong implication from the documents which were produced is that [ES&S was] telling them that a mismatch should just be treated as a match," Cohn tells me. "That blanket instruction really concerned the Texas examiners when they found out this was happening."

More maddening still, as Cohn reports, is that ES&S forces jurisdictions to allow their own employees or contractors to do these installations, rather than allowing jurisdictions to do so themselves, which might allow local or state officials to do their own hash-verification (or "acceptance testing", as it is known by some in the industry). Some jurisdictions that refuse to allow ES&S to do the installation will have their warrantees void by the company. As one former voting system employee tweeted in response to all of this, it is "like buying a new home and before the closing the seller says, 'You don't need a final walk-through. Just trust me."

"Normally, the customer is supposed to do it. The whole point of it is to make sure that the vendor is being honest and they're not giving malicious vote-flipping software. So to have the vendor do the hash testing themselves defeats the whole point," Cohn explains. "One of the examiners called it 'the fox guarding the henhouse', and said it was ES&S self-certifying their systems. Even the attorneys for the Texas Secretary of state were appalled."

Cohn's reporting at Who, What, Why is based on a passel of documents obtained via public records requests that reveal, for example, a troubled Texas election examiner complaining via email to their Secretary of State's attorney that this security flaw is "a gift wrapped opportunity to an insider threat," before going on to add: "It’s similar to a bank robber knowing that the camera covering teller #3 is broken."

In addition to Texas, ES&S systems used last year in Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Washington, DC, Florida, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Washington state, Wisconsin and Wyoming may all have been similarly vulnerable to running modified, vulnerable and uncertified software during the election, as Cohn details in her report, explaining today that it could be as many as 35 states.

And, as if all of that is not yet maddening enough, she also reports on the disturbing reaction from the EAC to this gaping security hole. The federal agency which is supposed to oversee voting system certification, apparently knew about this issue prior to the election, but failed to inform the public and quietly helped patch it all over for ES&S before, essentially, lying about it all once Cohn started asking questions in February. The EAC, as we have reported at The BRAD BLOG for years, has a long and troubling history of protecting private voting system vendors rather than the voters they are supposed to be watching out for.

When the EAC learned about it, Cohn says, they were "in kind of a panic, I think, because if it had leaked out, they couldn't honestly say they knew what had been installed in those states was what it was supposed to be."

So, is any of this related to why Team Trump focused their phony, evidence-free complaints almost exclusively on Dominion, while ignoring well-documented problems with ES&S almost entirely? We discuss that and much more with Cohn on today's --- yes --- maddening BradCast, where she also notes that, despite Texas officials being as troubled as they were by all of this, "I don't think that anybody ever said, 'Why don't we use pens? They don't require hash testing.'"...

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Guest: Migration Policy Institute's Sarah Pierce; Also: More 'Clean up on Aisle 45' news on the FBI, Kavanaugh and the Vindman family...
By Brad Friedman on 3/16/2021 6:28pm PT  

We've got quite a bit of 'Clean up on Aisle 45' news on today's BradCast, particularly at the U.S. southern border. [Audio link to today's full show is posted below this summary.]

But first, a few noteworthy 'Clean up" news items. Rhode Island's Democratic Sen. Sheldon has written a letter to Joe Biden's newly confirmed Attorney General Merrick Garland, requesting an investigation into what he describes as the "fake" investigation the FBI apparently made into sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh before his confirmation to a lifetime appointment as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. That confirmation, by the way, happened only thanks to Senate Republicans willingness to do away with the filibuster on Supreme Court Justices. Of course, it wasn't only sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh that deserved a real probe by the FBI. There is still the matter of what happened to the $60,000 to $200,000 worth of credit card debt that Kavanaugh carried the year before his nomination, which magically disappeared by the time he was tapped by Trump to help pack the stolen Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Also today, Army Lt. Col Yevgeny Vindman --- twin brother of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who testified against Donald Trump during his first impeachment --- will now be promoted to Colonel under the Biden Administration. That, despite a revenge campaign leveled against the Vindman family by the former disgraced President, which resulted in some negative job reviews for Yevgeny during his time as deputy legal advisor on Trump's National Security Council. Shortly after the impeachment, Trump fired both men from their NSC posts and Yevgeny filed a whistleblower complaint over the retaliation with the Pentagon's Inspector General. The IG's report has not yet been released.

Then, for the biggest 'Clean up on Aisle 45 ' news of the day, we move down to the U.S. Southern Border, where Republicans have been taking a cue from the former disgraced President to claim a massive "Biden border crisis!" is current under way, not two months into the new President's tenure. Sadly, corporate media have taken that cue as well. As they do.

House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) traveled to the border this week and, among other apparent lies, claimed that terrorists from Yemen, Iran and Turkey were "rushing" the border "all at once." While that is almost certainly untrue, there has been an increase over the past two months in unaccompanied children, seeking asylum at the border, after making the arduous journey from beleaguered Central American "Northern Triangle" countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Thanks to the influx of unaccompanied kids, a hollowed out asylum system left behind by the previous administration, along with pandemic social distancing requirements, Custom and Border Patrol (CBP) facilities meant to house children before they are handed over to the Dept. of Health and Human Services to find sponsored shelters are running out of space. The influx is also leading to many being held in the CBP facilities beyond the 72-hour legal limit, even as the Biden Administration has, for the time being, left many of Trump's policies in place, expelling families and single adults fleeing from gang violence, climate change and poverty in their troubled nations.

So, what is actually going on at the border right now? Is it really a crisis? And how much is the Biden Administration, not even two full months on the job, to blame? We're joined today by SARAH PIERCE, immigration attorney and Policy Analyst for the U.S. Immigration Policy Program at the Migration Policy Institute to help us separate fact from breathless, GOP/media-inflated fiction.

"I think there is a significant challenge at the southern border," she explains. "I don't think we can call it a crisis yet. But we could certainly be moving in the direction of a crisis.  We had a really fast acceleration in the number of unaccompanied child migrants arriving at the southern border between January and February. But we still haven't reached record numbers of children arriving at the southern border. We saw records during 2019 and 2014 that we haven't yet broken."

"But our facilities are limited because of the pandemic," she continues, "and so that is making what would already be a challenge even more difficult as the administration scrambles to bring beds back online, and move children out of Border Patrol custody as quickly as they possibly can."

Pierce explains how bad the situation currently is; whether she believes the Biden Administration is taking the appropriate measures to handle it; whether GOP claims about terrorists rushing the border or becoming "super-spreader caravans" are in any way true; and whether the situation can be handled at all without Congressional action (which seems a long shot while the filibuster remains in place, with Republicans seeking distraction from their failure to vote for the COVID relief bill and relying on alarmist rhetoric about the border to try and hold on to their base).

The Biden Administration "inherited a really, really big challenge and a system that was just gutted by the prior administration. So, whether or not they'll be able to do this all, while also dealing with what could very well be a crisis in the near future at the southern border, is a really big question."

She also offers, among other direct answers, a response to my question about the oft-repeated spurious claim that Trump's infamous family separation policy that resulted in those horrific "kids in cages" photographs was was actually begun by the Obama Administration. The answer will probably not shock you.

Next, it's our latest Green News Report with Desi Doyen (and, yes, more 'Clean up on Aisle 45' news there as well). And, finally, I close with a plea for Congress to do the right thing, once and for all, when it comes to...daylight saving time...

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Guest: 30-year veteran Leon County, FL elections chief Ion Sancho; Also: Callers ring in on that and Biden's progressive American Rescue Plan...
By Brad Friedman on 3/15/2021 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The Republican assault on voting rights is not only happening in states where the GOP lost, for the first time in many years, at the Presidential level in 2020, like Georgia. It's also happening in states that Donald Trump won in 2020, but by a smaller margin than in 2016, like Texas. And, yes, it's also happening in the few states where Trump won in 2020 and actually increased his winning margin over 2016, like Florida. But in Florida, state elections officials, including Republicans, are furious about it. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

While GOP state lawmakers are, right now, pushing hundreds of vote suppression bills in more than 40 states, based on Trump's Big Lie that he won the 2020 election (he didn't), a very small handful of Republicans are pushing back. In Georgia, on Sunday, the state's Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan appeared to decry at least some of the GOP efforts to curb voting rights in the Peach State. Last week, he walked out of the state Senate while presiding over a debate over passage of a new GOP bill that would disallow no-excuse absentee voting and implement many other restrictions. Over the weekend on NBC's 'Meet the Press', Duncan argued "Republicans don’t need election reforms to win, we need leadership."

Meanwhile, in Florida, where even Trump didn't forward phony claims about absentee fraud --- where he actually lauded their absentee vote system (in no small part because he voted illegally by absentee there) --- GOPers are, nonetheless, instituting new restrictions that would ban drop-boxes and remove the state's system that allows voters to sign up to be on the mail-in voting list for four years at a time. That, and other new restrictions on voting rights in the Sunshine State, are all included in an omnibus bill introduced by state Sen. Dennis Baxley called SB90. But, at least in Florida, state elections officials --- Democratic and Republican alike --- are pushing back.

Why, after the 2020 election, when even Republicans in the state like Gov. Ron DeSantis declared it to be one of the best and most secure elections in state history are GOPers now moving to restrict the franchise?

We're joined for some answers today by 30-year veteran Leon County (Tallahassee), FL Supervisor of Elections, ION SANCHO. The longtime, legendary champion of voting rights finally retired in 2016, after becoming so well respected by his fellow county elections officials, from all parties, that he was tapped to oversee the contentious and eventually aborted 2000 statewide recount between George W. Bush and Al Gore.

But now, the longtime Election Integrity champion says, he is furious at what Republicans are doing, and says that it's all about DeSantis' 2022 re-election hopes. "What's being overlooked by the national press," Sancho tells us today, "is that this issue, while framed nationally by the disgraced ex-President, is really being pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, who in 2018 won by a scant 30,000 votes out of 8 million cast. He's scared to death because the Democrats right now have an over-half-a-million vote margin for individuals signed up to get that vote-by-mail ballot."

All of that plays into Republican fears of mail-in ballot drop-boxes, even though, as Sancho notes, they are far more secure than the U.S. mail, particularly after Republicans in the state's General Assembly previously adopted rules to ensure secure, manned drop-boxes in every county.

"Of the millions of Democratic voters that voted by mail, 1.5 million of them dropped them off in those vote-by-mail ballot drop-boxes before Trump laid out his plot to try to steal the election by damning vote-by-mail ballots," Sancho explains. "The Republican legislature, whose Republican base had always outvoted the Democrats from 2000 to 2020, required by law that each vote-by-mail ballot establishment have a drop -box."

"Then the bottom dropped out. COVID hit and the Democratic Party in the State of Florida said we don't want to subject our voters to go door to door, so they embarked on a phone program to enroll people in vote-by-mail . That was overwhelmingly successful, and vote-by-mail dramatically increased on the Democratic Party side to the point now that today, if Gov. DeSantis doesn't get rid of that list [of voters signed up for long-term absentee voting], he's facing a half a million vote margin to begin with. That's what's driving this particular bill this year." The new bill would wipe out the existing list and mandate that all voters re-sign up for it now, and then every two years thereafter.

"This is deja vu all over again," rails Sancho who charges "this slander" that "has caused people to doubt the veracity of elections" has made him "very angry." He draws a bead on Republican state Senator Baxley, the sponsor of SB90, charging this is not his "first drive-by shooting on carrying the Republican voter suppression. In 2010 he was author of [a bill] which dramatically curtailed early voting, because Obama carried early voting here in Florida [in 2008] by such a large margin that an actual majority of all African-Americans in this state voted at an early voting location. This is a tried-and-true playbook with the same characters involved."

As usual, there is much more in our conversation, including Sancho's take on the evidence-free, post-2020 GOP attacks on the Dominion Voting Systems company. Sancho has been a longtime thorn in the side of private elections vendors and their computerized voting and tabulation systems. He played a starring role in HBO's Emmy-nominated 2006 documentary Hacking Democracy, when he oversaw what became the first known hack of a Diebold optical-scan tabulator, as depicted live, as it happened, in the film's climactic finale.

"It's been rigged here," he tells me flatly. "Again, I've been watching these 'How can we curtail this? How can we do that?', and it's been going on since 2000."

Finally, we open the phones up for a few minutes for listener feedback on all of the above (including one fun Trump-supporting caller who is hopping mad about the conversation with Sancho!), and on my contention last week that Joe Biden and the Democrats' massive, progressive $1.9 trillion COVID relief and stimulus bill, the American Rescue Plan, could finally signal the long-overdue end of the four-decade old Ronald Reagan Era in this country...

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Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton on the new President's unexpected progressivism, 'the death knell of Republican ideology,' and 'a very consequential battle over the future of American politics'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/12/2021 6:34pm PT  

On Thursday night, on the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring the coronavirus to be a pandemic, on Joe Biden's 50th day in office, on the day he signed what we have argued on The BradCast may go down as the most progressive, equitable relief, stimulus and investment package perhaps in U.S. history, the new President delivered his first prime time address to the American people. [Audio link to full show follows summary.]

In addition to spending a (surprisingly) few minutes touting the many benefits to all Americans in his $1.9 trillion "American Rescue Plan" (ARP), Biden offered a cautiously optimistic vow that there will be enough vaccine for all Americans to sign up for a shot by May 1. Moreover, he continued, by July 4th the nation which has seen nearly 550,000 deaths over the past year, may even be able to hold small family and neighborhood gatherings to celebrate Independence Day.

"After this long hard year," said Biden, following his trademark empathy for all this nation has gone through over the past year, before offering caveats about the need to continue mask wearing for now and get vaccine shots as soon as possible, "that will make this Independence Day something truly special, where we not only mark our independence as a nation but we begin to mark our independence from this virus."

I argued on yesterday's program that Biden's ARP --- passed by Democrats in Congress with the help of ZERO Republicans --- may eventually come to be seen in history as the long-overdue end to the four-decade old Reagan Era. Today, I share some responses to my argument, including from folks who both agree and disagree.

Then we're joined to discuss all of the above by the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo. It's our first conversation with her in years that isn't dominated by...that previous guy who lived in the White House. In fact, today's conversation is almost entirely about Biden and the Democrats (and, for good measure, some of the folks in rightwing media who appear to have no clue how to respond to all of this.) Both Parton and I --- neither of whom supported Biden during the primary or saw him as the best candidate for the moment to take on...that other guy --- find ourselves in the uncomfortable position, at least for now, of being impressed by the achievements, to date, of both Biden and the Democrats.

And while I was citing Reagan in my argument this week, Digby actually went so far in her coverage today at Salon to raise the specter of Franklin Roosevelt, arguing that Biden "could end up being the most transformative president since FDR."

So, what the hell is actually going on here?! Tune in and find out! "We really live in interesting times," quips Parton. "Maybe too interesting, to be honest."

"I knew he'd be good for healing the country, which is highly important," she tells me. "You can't possibly denigrate the idea that we needed somebody who could speak to the horrifying loss and pain that the country has gone through. We knew he'd be good at that. But this other side --- this putting in a policy agenda that would take us into this more progressive direction? I didn't expect it. I'm happily surprised by it and hopeful he's going to go forward."

Finally, after that very lively discussion, we close today with a pretty hilarious (and on point, given today's conversation) segment from The Daily Show's "Remotely Educational" special this week, called "How Business Works". Enjoy!...

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Working class, poor waited decades for Dems' progressive, equitable, paradigm-shifting $1.9T COVID rescue, relief and stimulus package
Also: Rememberinig 1 year since the world locked down, 10 years since Japan's triple disaster; And Trump is in big trouble in GA...
By Brad Friedman on 3/11/2021 6:34pm PT  

If nothing else, the thing to remember from today's BradCast is that not one single Republican in either the House or Senate voted for Joe Biden and the Democrats' remarkably robust, progressive and equitably written American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion COVID rescue and relief package that history may someday regard as the long-overdue end of the four-decade old Reagan Era.

The President signed the sweeping bill on Thursday, which our friend David Dayen at The American Prospect described today as "maybe the largest pure economic uplift bill in U.S. history." GOPers may come to rue the day they didn't vote for it. Especially in 2022 when some of the key provisions --- like lowered health care premiums and monthly checks amounting to up to $3,600 per child, per year --- will expire unless those provisions are made permanent.

We discuss today a number of the less reported pieces built into the ARP, most of which --- unlike previous stimulus and rescue plans over the past several decades --- are crafted to benefit the poor and working class, and actually help lift many of them out of poverty. That is, by contrast, with the Trump/Republican 2017 tax cuts which also cost about $2 trillion, but overwhelmingly benefited corporations and the already wealthy.

All Republicans in both house of Congress voted against a nearly $2 trillion measure meant to largely help the middle class and the poor. Yet all Republicans in both houses of Congress voted in favor of the nearly $2 trillion measure to help the rich and corporations, which were already enjoying record profits at the time. Got it? Please keep that in mind --- and share it with your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers, in case they are lied to about all of this --- when 2022 rolls around.

This bill marks a fundamental progressive change in the way our federal government has been doing business for the past four decades since the so-called Reagan Revolution. And it comes not a moment too soon, as we discuss today.

Today also marks the one year anniversary since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus to be an official pandemic, when I stated on the program (to the surprise of, at least, Desi Doyen) that America was "shutting down". We share a clip of that somewhat breathtaking historical moment today.

More than 2.5 million have since died around the world, but the U.S., under Donald Trump's horrifically failed leadership, saw more deaths than any other country, with more than half a million lost here and still counting. That, even as we represent only about 5 percent of the world's population.

It is also the 10th anniversary of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster that struck Japan in 2011. We remember that still-ongoing disaster as well today, and the nearly 16,000 lives that were lost that fateful day.

In somewhat brighter news...As Republican state lawmakers around the country are moving hundreds of bills in more than 40 states to try and disenfranchise voters in a way not seen since the end of Reconstruction, according to a new analysis by Washington Post, it may be Donald Trump's attempted election fraud that could be the biggest news in coming weeks. It appears he may be in even more trouble than it previously appeared in the state of in Georgia!

A new recording of his phone call to the top Georgia state election investigator, made during a post-election audit in Cobb County prior to Christmas last year, was released Wednesday night by the Wall Street Journal. We share the full, gob-smacking conversation, in which our then President is heard buttering up the investigator and telling her, among other things, that "when the right answer comes out, you'll be praised."

The newly released 6-minute recording with the Georgia Secretary of State's chief investigator Frances Watson, can't really be heard in any other way than Trump hoping to encourage her into finding "fraud" where none existed. The recording is now undoubtedly part of the growing body of evidence being examined by Fulton County, Georgia's District Attorney, Fani Willis. The Democratic prosecutor is investigating "the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local governmental bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election's administration" after the 2020 Presidential election in the Peach State.

Willis has reportedly hired a racketeering and conspiracy expert for her grand jury probe, which could ultimately rope in Trump, his former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, his attorney Rudy Giuliani and even Sen. Lindsey Graham, who are all known to have tried to encourage state officials to change the results of Georgia's 2020 Presidential election after Trump lost. That alone is a state felony punishable by a year in jail. With added charges for racketeering and conspiracy, those convicted under those state felony statutes could face 20 years in jail!

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more on the 10-year anniversary of the still-ongoing disaster at the Fukushima Daichii nuclear plant and several much brighter and more hopeful pieces of news...

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Guest: Labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein of UC-Santa Barbara; Also: Biden's hugely progressive $1.9T 'American Rescue Plan' receives final Congressional approval; And Randy Rainbow needs a vaccine...
By Brad Friedman on 3/10/2021 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Joe Biden has been winning quite a bit lately. Today was no exception. So, can he turn that winning streak into a win for labor unions and keep his campaign promise to be "the most pro-union President you've ever seen"?  As of now, he's on track for that as well, according to historians and labor leaders --- even if that's admittedly not a very high bar. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

On Wednesday, Biden saw three more of his cabinet picks nominated on a bipartisan basis in the U.S. Senate.  Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio will become the first African American woman to lead the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development in 40 years, after vowing to address systemic racial inequities at the federal agency. Michael Regan was confirmed as the first black man to head up the Environmental Protection Agency. And Merrick Garland received his long awaited confirmation as our new Attorney General, as the widely-respected, veteran federal judge takes on the tall task of fulfilling Biden's promise to restore independence to the Dept. of Justice.

None of those, however, were Biden's biggest wins of the day, as the U.S. House gave final approval for his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. The massive COVID relief and stimulus package now heads to the White House for his signature on what some describe as one of the most progressive bills to ever come out of Congress. $1,400 checks to individuals and a $300/week extension of unemployment benefits is just a small part of the bill, which also includes annual payments of up to $3,600 per child, in a provision which policy experts say will cut child poverty in half and adult poverty by a quarter. It will reduce the overall poverty rate in 2021 by more than a third, lower the rate for Black people by as much as 42%, 39% for Hispanics and 34% for white people. In addition, the measure will send $130 billion to reopen schools safely, $34 billion will expand Obamacare subsidies to many more people, $25 billion for emergency rental assistance, and $14 billion will help to speed vaccine distribution, among many other such initiatives. That, on a day that Biden also announced he was securing another 100 million vaccine doses from Johnson & Johnson.

No wonder Republicans have no clue how to oppose the plan (other than with obviously ridiculous and silly lies), after the package received zero votes from GOPers in either the House or Senate. Democrats own this one, and they should do so loudly and proudly. The additional good news here for now is that even Chuck Schumer finally seems to "get it". There is no upside to negotiating with Republicans if they are going to be doing so in bad faith, as they did on the stimulus bill under Obama in response to the Great Recession.

But the central focus of our show today is on a couple of moves by the President that labor leaders, experts, and academics are citing to describe Biden as, so far, the most pro-worker, pro-labor, pro-union President in decades, and maybe ever.

Last week, he surprised a lot of folks on the left by tweeting a direct, unambiguous video message of support for workers who are now voting on whether to unionize at an Amazon warehouse outside of Birmingham, Alabama. It would be the first such facility to do so in the nation. Biden's two and a half message lauded unions for creating the middle class and spoke to American workers' rights under the law to organize for collective bargaining without corporate interference.

And this week, he issued a direct, unambiguous statement of support for the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act before its passage in the House on Tuesday. Labor leaders describe the initiative as the most progressive, pro-union bill in 80 years. Of course, now all it has to do is overcome a filibuster in the Senate.

We're joined today by longtime labor historian and author NELSON LICHTENSTEIN, Distinguished Professor at UC-Santa Barbara, where he directs the Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy. Lichtenstein explains both the importance of the PRO Act and the ongoing vote to unionize Amazon down in Alabama. He also addresses the question as to whether Biden could become the most pro-union President in modern times, or even in history.

"The bar is very low," Lichtenstein concedes, in comparing Biden to recent Presidents who may have supported unions with words --- though none as directly as we've seen from Biden to date --- but not necessarily with their actions. "Biden is saying all the right things, but this will all fade unless there actually is legislation that is passed in some form" that turns "the reality on the ground" into a "revival of trade unionism."

"It's one thing to say terrific things --- and I'm not being cynical, all power to him  --  but history will judge him by whether or not there is in fact an increase in real wages, an increase in union membership, an increase in the power of organized labor."

The colorful professor has much more to say that I can possibly do justice to here, so please tune in. But, after we discuss how it just so happens that the most prosperous period in history for the American middle class also coincides with the era when trade unionism and collective bargaining were at their zenith, I ask if there is any actual historical economic data in support of the notion that unions are somehow either bad for business or workers, as folks on the right would have you believe, and as all too many in this country have fallen for after decades of corporate, anti-union propaganda.

"No," Lichtenstein answers emphatically. "There is no support for that. It is good both economically, in an immediate sense, and even more important, politically, because it helps sustain a social democratic ethos and policy block in the country." He goes on to add: "One of the reasons for the deterioration in America of everything --- from race relations to stagnating living standards --- is because of the weakness of unions in the last forty, fifty years."

As noted, do yourself a favor and tune in for our conversation. I learned a lot and suspect you may as well. And, as a gift, we close today with arguably the ONLY good thing to come out of the Trump years: national treasure Randy Rainbow returns with another new tune that may keep you humming all night...

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Guest: Public Citizen's Matt Kent on the Congressional Review Act's closing window; Also: IA, GA Repubs pass vote suppression bills; Palm Beach resident Trump votes by absentee...again...
By Brad Friedman on 3/9/2021 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Democrats could roll back dozens of toxic and/or corrupt Trump-era regulations, many of which had, themselves, rolled back previous regulations. And they can do it with a simple, filibuster-proof majority vote in the U.S. Senate. But they must act quickly. So, what's the hold up? [Audio link to full show follows below summary.]

First up today, however, some quick elections news. Donald Trump, who decried absentee voting for everyone but himself while he lived at the White House and voted by mail unlawfully using Mar-a-Lago as his voting address, had previous claimed it was just fine that he voted by absentee, since he was legitimately not in Palm Beach, Florida to cast his vote.  Well, Palm Beach is holding municipal elections today, and guest which current resident of the town has requested an absentee ballot to vote?

Meanwhile, the post-2020 GOP attempt to roll back access to the ballot is gaining speed in state legislatures across the country. The Brennan Center for Justice cites more than 200 such measures proposed in more than 40 states as of mid-February.  One of them, a bill in Iowa that shortens Early Voting days and polling place hours, among other restrictions, was signed into law by the state's Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds on Monday.  On Tuesday, civil rights groups filed suit.

Down in Georgia, a massive number of restrictions on voting --- most notably, mail-in voting --- are being quickly passed by both chambers of the state General Assembly.  As in Iowa, it's all being done with party line votes, with furious Democrats voting in opposition. On Monday, the GA state Senate passed a bill that, among other things, ends no-excuse absentee voting for most voters, even as 1.3 million took advantage of the convenient (and, during a pandemic, safer) way to vote in last year's Presidential election. But after Democrats won that election in November and both U.S. Senate runoffs in January, Republicans are now hoping to reverse the no-excuse mail-in voting law they themselves passed with their GOP-majority back in 2005. Shamefully, that is not the only new restriction that Republican state lawmakers are trying to enact in the Peach State, with many of the new restrictions aimed at suppressing minority voters.  And, as in Iowa, despite a lack of evidence of any voter fraud in their elections, Republicans are pretending that these new suppression tactics are necessary to prevent voter fraud.

Many provisions of the restrictive bills being pushed through state legislatures would be blocked by the Democrats' major voting rights bill, H.R.1, the "For the People Act" at the federal level.  The bill has already been passed in the U.S. House (with zero GOP votes), but unless the Senate filibuster rules are reformed --- or Joe Manchin comes to his senses (or both) --- the bill will almost certainly fail to overcome Republican opposition in the upper chamber.

At the same time, however, while Democrats are forced to look forward to protect upcoming elections, there are scores of corrupt, dangerous, Trump-era federal regulations that can now be rolled back with a simple majority vote in both chambers of Congress. No need to get 60 votes in the Senate! But Democrats have to act fast to overturn these Trump rules before the clock runs out on the 60 legislative days since the new Congress began which allow for rolling back a previous Administration's regulatory rules under the Clinton-era Congressional Review Act (CRA).

There is an enormous number of measures that Democrats could reverse immediately, enacted at the last minute by the Trump Administration at dozens of federal agencies such as the EPA, Dept. of Interior, Dept. of Energy, USDA, NOAA, Dept. of Justice, Dept. of Transportation, Dept. of Labor, HUD, HHS, the Veterans Administration, DHS and others. But, as Public Citizen has been reporting, the window to repeal parts of "Trump's deregulatory legacy" is quickly closing before an April 4th deadline to introduce simple resolutions for each specific regulatory action they wish to roll back.

We're joined today by MATT KENT, Regulatory Policy Associate at Public Citizen who, with Amit Narang, has been furiously attempting to sound the alarm about all of this (and about the regulations that the Trump Administration screwed up when issuing them, making it even easier for Biden to reverse on his own.)

"Anything completed within 60 legislative days of the end of the preceding Congress --- so, for our purposes, anything the Trump Administration finalized after August 21, 2020 --- anything after that is available to be undone by this Congress," Kent explains. "There's a real opportunity here for the Biden Administration and the Democratic Congress to more or less supercharge their efforts to use the CRA, to really expand the scope of regulations that are available to be removed --- deregulatory action is a better way to put it."

"This is a filibuster buster," he tells me. "This is something you can use to really get around a huge roadblock in the Senate. That's the way it was designed by the Republicans who created the law."

While the non-partisan government watchdog Public Citizen has long opposed the CRA, Kent argues turnabout is fair play. While the law was little used until Trump came to office, Republicans too advantage of it to overturn more than a dozen Obama-era rules. Kent advises it should be used here again, and then "pull up the ladder" to abolish it.

"The sands are moving through the hourglass here," he says, referencing the upcoming CRA deadline before offering some bewildering news: "So far, there have not been any Congressional  Review Act resolutions introduced at all. I am a little surprised that no Democrat has introduced a disapproval resolution."

He predicts "we'll probably see some in the next few weeks, but the pace has definitely been slow." What could possibly explain the hold up? We discuss.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with some more news about rollbacks to Trump-era rollbacks, specifically, in this case, at the Dept. of Interior. That good news, as usual in the GNR, is balanced by some decidedly less good news --- on another bankrupt coal company hoping to pass its toxic mess on to the tax-payers, and a sleazy (and so far, successful) effort by the natural gas industry to block any and all changes to city building codes, meant to combat climate change, around the nation...

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Guest: Sarah Repucci of Freedom House; Also: Senate passes Biden's very progressive $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill; SCOTUS rejects last of Trump's 2020 election challenges...
By Brad Friedman on 3/8/2021 6:44pm PT  

It's not only in the U.S. where democracy is now under attack. Unfortunately, as discussed with our guest on today's BradCast, when freedom and democracy begin to collapse here, it gets even worse everywhere else. [Audio link to show follows below this summary.]

But, first up today, a quick word or two on Harry and Meghan (because in case you thought a parliamentary monarchy was a better idea than our representative democracy....well, that's not working out so well either these days.)

Very good news out of Congress, however, where the U.S. Senate finally passed Joe Biden's massive $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan over the weekend. Sadly, it was adopted 50-49 without a single Republican vote. The wildly popular measure provides critical relief across a whole bunch of sectors, with, as the New York Times describes, it "the principle Democrats and liberal economists have espoused over the past decade: that the best way to stoke faster economic growth is from the bottom up."  We go through many of the details of this major relief and stimulus plan that both Democrats and progressives should be damned proud of. Hopefully they remember to sing its praises between now and November of 2022, at the very least.  While the bill was changed marginally in the Senate after House passage (in some ways, it was even made more progressive!), it remained pretty much the same bold plan as initially proposed. It is, as many have described it, the most progressive relief bill ever passed by both Houses of Congress.

Democrats, by and large, seem to have figured out that it's ridiculous to negotiate with themselves in order to win the fool's errand of receiving Republican votes, when they ain't coming on board for anything Democrats in power favor, no matter how popular the measure is with their own Republican constituents (very!) or how many of them it will actually help in myriad ways. The measure must be approved one more time in the House before it heads to the President's desk likely this week, followed by his signatures and then individual checks of $1,400 to most Americans, $3,600 for most children, new expansions to Obamacare to allow those with higher incomes to receive subsidies for health insurance premiums and much much more to get American and its economy and schools back open faster and safer.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Donald Trump lost Wisconsin yet again, as the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his appeal of a lower court ruling upholding the bipartisan Wisconsin Election Commission's handling of mail-in ballots in the 2020 election. And, with that, SCOTUS has now officially rejected every challenge to the 2020 election results brought by Trump and his MAGA Mob to the Republicans' stolen and packed high court.  Sadly, GOP state legislatures are now in the process of attempting to impose severe new restrictions on voting in multiple states, including by rolling back measures, for example, for no-excuse absentee voting in Georgia, that they themselves had previously enacted.

So the fight for democracy and voting rights continues. Sunday marked the 56th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march in Selma, Alabama, when civil rights icon, the late Rep. John Lewis and hundreds of others were beaten to a pulp by state troopers during a protest walk for voting voting rights across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. That violence at that 1965 march, witnessed live on television, resulted in President Johnson signing the landmark Voting Rights Act that year. In commemoration over the weekend, President Biden issued an executive order "to promote voting access to all all eligible Americans to participate in our democracy." The order, as the White House describes it, "will leverage the resources of the federal government to increase access to voter registration services and information about voting."

The effort comes not a moment too soon, unfortunately, as underscored by a new report out last week from Freedom House titled Freedom in the World 2021: Democracy under Siege. It finds, among other troubling things: "As a lethal pandemic, economic and physical insecurity, and violent conflict ravaged the world, democracy’s defenders sustained heavy new losses in their struggle against authoritarian foes, shifting the international balance in favor of tyranny."

Three-quarters of people in the world now live in countries where freedom and democracy are on the decline, according to the group's latest annual report. As Washington Post's coverage notes, "This year’s survey, published Wednesday, marked the 15th consecutive year of global democratic backsliding --- 'a long democratic recession,' in the organization’s words, that is 'deepening.'' Moreover, the United States dropped three rankings in this year's survey which, its co-author explains on today's show, has been carried out by the 80-year old, non-partisan, non-profit group every year since 1972.

We're joined today by Freedom House Vice President of Research and Analysis SARAH REPUCCI, who notes that while the report cites the "unprecedented attacks on one of the world’s most visible and influential democracies," with the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol in January, and that his "actions went unchecked by most lawmakers from his own party, with a stunning silence that undermined basic democratic tenets," the 1/6 insurrection attempt wasn't even considered as part of this year's rankings of 195 countries, since it occurred in 2021.

Moreover, Freedom House found the largest "democracy gap" (the number of countries that improved minus the number of countries that declined) in the report's history last year, which marked 15 years of decline by the group's measure.

Repucci explains the report's methodology, which areas of the world are now seen as most at risk, and how the decline in freedoms and democracy in the U.S. over the past 15 years --- particularly over the past decade --- have helped to encourage the grim turn for democratic movements across the globe in recent years. She also offers some key recommendations for how to turn things around in this country, including reform in a number of areas --- such as ending partisan gerrymandering and instituting campaign finance reform. Both of those items are central tenets of the critical H.R.1, or "For the People Act", an omnibus and long-overdue elections and ethics reform package that has now been adopted by the U.S. House but faces a Republican filibuster in the U.S. Senate at this time.

"What many of us have been witnessing here in the United States is part of this larger global trend," Repucci tells me. "We've been tracking 15 years of decline globally, and the US has been declining the last ten years. So this is not totally not new in the US, and it's definitely not new globally.  What we are seeing are declines across the board in very repressive settings and also in democracies and everything in between." She warns: "The main takeaway is that no country is safe from this. It's affecting all types and all regions. It's something that we need to take really seriously."

Finally today, the CDC has issued its first guidelines for those who are now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. The guidance, which we discuss, allows for, among other things, those who have been fully vaccinated to hang out indoors, in private settings, without masks or social distancing with others who have been fully vaccinated as well. So, there's just one more good reason to get a shot as soon as you can figure out how to get one (or two, as the case may be). So far, just under 10% of Americans have been fully vaccinated...

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Guest: Chuck Collins of Institute for Policy Studies' Inequality.org; Also: 2021 flu season proves masks work; Swalwell latest to sue Trump...
By Brad Friedman on 3/5/2021 7:00pm PT  

Prepare to be outraged by some gobsmacking and maddening numbers from today's guest on The BradCast. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

But first, speaking of startling numbers, statistics from this year's flu season prove that masks and social distancing do indeed help to prevent viral transmission and death. That, of course, is bad news for residents of Texas and Mississippi, where their idiot Governors this week lifted statewide mask mandates and all restrictions on businesses, even as COVID infection rates are on the rise in both states. Both are among the top 10 worst states in the nation in that regard in recent weeks. Mississippi leads the nation, with Texas not far behind. And that was before they ended statewide mandates this week in contradiction of strong advice from health experts.

In Washington, Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA), one of the House Impeachment Managers during Donald Trump's second Impeachment Trial, filed suit against the disgraced former President, his son Don Jr., Rudy Giuliani and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) for their roles in inciting the January 6th U.S. Capitol insurrection. Swalwell's civil complaint follows on a similar one filed last month by Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson and the NAACP.

At the same time today, the U.S. Senate continued debate over the American Rescue Plan, President Biden's $1. 9 trillion emergency COVID relief and stimulus package after Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin forced an all-night reading of the 628-page measure that was passed by the House late last week. In addition to funds to speed distribution of vaccines, the bill includes $1,400 payments to Americans making less than $75,000, an extension of federal unemployment benefits, hundreds of millions to reopen schools safely, and to supplement lost revenue to hard-hit, cash-strapped states and cities.

As tens of millions of Americans have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and are both struggling to keep a roof over their heads and put food on the table, the relief can't come soon enough, despite zero votes of support from Republicans in either the House or Senate, so far, for the otherwise wildly popular bill. Johnson described it as a "boondoggle" full of unnecessary spending that would blow out the national deficit, even as it will cost the same amount of money that he and all the other Republicans voted in favor of when they passed Donald Trump's 2017 tax cuts for mostly wealthy Americans and corporations.

But while Senators --- even on the Democratic side --- squabble over whether unemployment payments should be $400 a week and last through August, or $300 a week and last until September, America's 664 billionaires could cover almost the entire cost of the measure from only the money they've made during the last 11 months of the pandemic.

We spoke last Summer with CHUCK COLLINS, Director of the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies, where he co-edits Inequality.org, about his "Billionaire Bonanza 2020" report. Today, he joins us again with a maddening update to that report, finding that, as more than half a million Americans died, 73 million lost work, nearly 100,000 business permanently closed, 29 million adults reported their household did not have enough food over the past week and 11 million children didn't eat enough because their household couldn't afford to fully feed them, the 664 billionaires in the U.S. actually gained $1.3 trillion in added wealth since the beginning of the pandemic!

The profits of that handful of mostly white, male billionaires could cover more than two-thirds of the entire $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and, "At $4.2 trillion," Collins' updated report reveals, "the total wealth of America's 664 billionaires is also more than two-thirds higher than the $2.4 trillion in total wealth held by the bottom half of the population, 165 million Americans."

Those are just some of the startling numbers from his latest report, highlighting the obscene inequality in the U.S., made even worse by the nearly year-long coronavirus pandemic. Shamefully, all of the numbers are still worse for women and people of color. "The inequalities of income and wealth and the racial wealth divide were the pre-existing conditions as we went into the pandemic," he explains. Collins tell me that "the number of people who have no financial reserves --- zero, or negative financial wealth" is "14% of white households...but double that, 28% of Black households, 26% of Latino households...[and] that was before the pandemic."

"That's why 660 billionaires can have almost twice as much as the bottom half of US households --- because the bottom half doesn't have much!," he reports. So, what to do about it? Will the American Rescue Plan help? How about Sen. Elizabeth Warren's recently refiled "Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act" that would tax two cents of every dollar of wealth above $50 million, generating at least $3 trillion in revenue over ten years in the bargain.

Warren cites Collins' new study in making the case for her new wealth tax proposal. Her proposal is wildly popular among voters of all political stripes, as she pitched a similar version during her Presidential run last year. The fact that it isn't already the law, Collins argues, "is simply a reflection of the power of wealthy interests to block change in our political system. It's not that they're changing the political system --- they're able to stop and thwart and block change. And that's unfortunately what we're up against."

"That's the debate we're watching right now in the Senate," he adds, "where half the members in the Senate, they don't have a program to help America get through these hard times. They just want to block the one that would actually make a difference. Unfortunately, the Republicans have been the 'Party of No' because they don't want government to succeed in making a difference in people's lives, because that would undermine their whole program."

Yes, we've got a lot to discuss today with Collins, whose newest book out this month, The Wealth Hoarders: How Billionaires Spend Millions to Hide Trillions, details "the shadowy Wealth Defense Industry," which he explains today as well. Sen. Bernie Sanders writes that "Chuck's book reveals a blueprint for reversing this obscene inequality so we can take back our democracy and ensure that our government works for everybody --- not just the billionaire class and wealthy campaign contributors"...

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House passes H.R.1., so now what?; MI audits find 2020 results accurate, so now what?; AZ Senate finally gets ahold of Maricopa County's 2020 ballots, so now what?; GOP Congressman admits to three counts of felony voter fraud...so guess what?!...
By Brad Friedman on 3/4/2021 6:31pm PT  

We've got mostly democracy-related stories to report on today's BradCast. Some good news, and some bad. But there's a whole bunch of anti-democracy GOP fraud throughout, because what democracy story in the U.S. these days doesn't include Republican fraud and/or attempted voter suppression? [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

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

  • We start with one story that has little to do with democracy, though it should be enough to ensure these two idiot Governors are never elected to anything ever again. In case you are unclear just how idiotic the Governors of Texas and Mississippi are, after they lifted all COVID restrictions in each state this week in hopes that folks won't notice how horrifically they failed their own constituents following the winter storm there three weeks ago, Axios reports today that, while COVID infections rates are still falling in most states, the rate in Texas is up 27 percent over the past week and Mississippi's is up a nation-leading 62 percent! Luckily, both states are islands, so the idiocy of their Republican Governors won't effect everyone else's efforts to get beyond this pandemic once and for all, right?
  • House Democrats, as expected, passed H.R.1 --- the "For the People Act" --- on Wednesday night with zero Republican votes. The massive, landmark, once-in-a-generation voting rights, campaign finance reform and ethics reform bill now moves to the Senate. In that undemocratic body, however, where a simple majority is NOT enough to pass a democracy reform bill as of now, it will likely die, unless enough pressure is applied on Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to do the right thing, reform the filibuster, and allow this critical (if imperfect) measure to pass while Democrats have a brief opportunity right now to do so. The measure is long overdue and, according to new polling, wildly popular with the American people of all parties. 68% of likely voters favor the bill, and even a majority of Republicans (57%), back it as well.
  • The sad (and dangerous) Trump/GOP effort to con Americans into believing last November's election was stolen from the disgraced former President --- despite all evidence to the contrary --- continues.  And the massive evidence to the contrary continues to mount. This week, Michigan's Secretary of State announced that the results of a second statewide post-election audit once again confirms the initially reported results. "All of Michigan’s more than 250 election audits are now complete, and each and every one of them affirmed the integrity of the November election and the accuracy of the results," Sec. of State Jocelyn Benson said on Thursday. The audits were carried out by "More than 1,300 Republican, Democratic, and non-partisan election clerks...working across the aisle to review one another's procedures, ballots and machines in coordination with the state Bureau of Elections." Full hand-counts were carried out in some places, such as Antrim County, where Republicans pretended that Dominion Voting Systems machines were used to try and steal the election from Trump.  And, in heavily populated cities like Detroit, election officials determined that, of 174,000 absentee ballots tallied in the city, only 17 votes were ultimately "out of balance" (where the number of ballots cast in a precinct differed from the number of envelopes or signatures accounted for.)
  • But the most embarrassing state GOP idiocy of the week may belong to the Republican-controlled state Senate in Arizona. After months of subpoenas to elections officials, ordering them to turn over all 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County (Phoenix) last year --- and even coming within one vote of throwing elections officials there in jail for following state law by securely retaining custody of the ballots cast in the County last November --- a state judge finally ordered Maricopa officials to obey the subpoena to deliver all ballots to the Senate, so they could count them themselves. They were all delivered, 73 pallets of them, this week. And guess what? Senate Republicans have no idea what to do with them now.  The story is even worse than it sounds, as we discuss today.
  • But at least officials in Kansas were finally able to find some voter fraud. Specifically, voter fraud by now-former Republican U.S. House Rep. Steve Watkins of Topeka. The one-term Congressman was defeated last year. But not before he lied about his residence, using the address of a UPS store on his voter registration, voted in an election he was not entitled to vote in, and then lied to state investigators about it all.  He was charged with three felonies related to voting. This week, however --- because, luckily, he is a white, male Republican from Kansas --- prosecutors are allowing him to enter a diversion agreement that delays his trial for six months, and drops the charges entirely if he's a good boy through September. We compare his treatment to that of Crystal Mason, an African-American mother of three in Texas, who, unlike the Kansas Congressman, had no idea she was violating the law when she cast a provisional ballot that was never counted in the 2016 election. She received a sentence of five years in prison for her "crime".
  • Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, as climate change has resulted in the weakest Gulf Stream in about 1,000 years; carbon emissions are rising again as COVID restrictions are loosened; Joe Biden raises U.S. targets under the Paris Climate Agreement; and another major carmaker announces plans to stop selling all gas burning, internal combustion engine vehicles in their line in very very short order...

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