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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, January 21, 2022
Trump Crime Family's Very Bad Week Gets Much MUCH Worse: 'BradCast' 1/20/22
Also: In vote of historic shame, Manchin and Sinema join Senate Republicans to undermine voting rights and American democracy...
'Green News Report' 1/20/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Breaking up Build Back Better?; Tonga devastated by volcano, tsunami; Extreme heat records in Southern Hemisphere; PLUS: Exxon pretends to care about the climate...
Previous GNRs: 1/13/22 - 1/11/22 - Archives...
On the Media, One Year In
and One Year Out:
'BradCast' 1/19/22
Guest: Eric Boehlert of Press Run; Also: SCOTUS okays release of Trump Jan. 6 records; NY A.G. details 'fraud' by Trump family; Fox Nation gets an hilarious 'hard no'...
GOP Gerrymanders 'Not So Bad' for Dems This Year? Think Again, Argues Expert: 'BradCast' 1/18/20
Guest: Brennan Center's Michael Li: Also: No fraud found in AZ; TX rejecting VBM requests...
Sunday 'National Treasure' Toons
Be sure to steal a moment for PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons...
DOJ 'Turning the Screws' on Path to Trump with Oath Keepers Sedition Charges: 'BradCast' 1/14/22
Guest: Marcy Wheeler; Also: WI judge bans drop boxes; OH Supremes nix GOP maps...
SCOTUS Blocks OSHA Experts from 'Protecting General Welfare' of Workers Amid Pandemic: 'BradCast' 1/13
Also: Oath Keepers charged with 'sedition'; Bernstein: 1/6 'cover-up' exceeds Watergate...
'Green News Report' 1/13/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Offshore wind on NY, NJ horizons; Oceans in 2021 warmest ever recorded; Extreme weather spikes food, commodity prices; PLUS: Biden EPA cracks down on toxic coal ash ponds...
Previous GNRs: 1/11/22 - 1/6/22 - Archives...
Prepare for 'Juristocracy' and Literal 'Destruction of the Administrative State': 'BradCast' 1/12/22
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: 1/6 Comm seeks McCarthy; GA D.A.'s Trump probe...
The Hilarious Death of the Pathetic Cyber Ninjas: 'BradCast' 1/11/22
Also: Biden finally calls for U.S. Senate filibuster reform to pass voting rights and election protection legislation...
'Green News Report' 1/11/22
U.S. emissions spiked in 2021, the 5th hottest year on record; U.S. weather disasters cost $145B in 2021; PLUS: NY's new Guv goes big on climate and clean energy...
Should We Feel Better About Merrick Garland Yet?: 'BradCast' 1/10/22
Omicron rising; Emissions rising; Calls for Trump accountability rising...
Sunday 'First Anniversary' Toons
Commemorating the week that was in PDiddie's latest collection of toons...
Protecting Democracy from the 'Re-Emerging Demons of Hell': 'BradCast' 1/7/22
Guest: Dr. Nils Gilman; Also: Arbery murderers sentenced; CyberNinjas fined, shut down...
1/6 Anniv: 'I Will Allow No One to Place a Dagger at the Throat of Our Democracy': 'BradCast' 1/6/22
Repubs still disinformed; Biden calls out 'lies for profit, power'; American democracy in peril...
'Green News Report' 1/6/22
Germany shuts nuke plants; Trump EPA chief, coal lobby-ist tapped as VA environment chief; Big EV news; PLUS: San Fran gets world's first hydrogen powered ferry...
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...


Also: DoJ sues Texas for racial gerrymandering; Omicron more/less dangerous than you may know; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 12/6/2021 6:35pm PT  

Lots to get caught up with on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the stories covered...

  • We hope to cover this more on an upcoming show, but on Monday, not long before air, the Dept. of Justice filed a federal lawsuit against Texas, hoping to block the Lone Star state's newly drawn and racially gerrymandered Congressional and state legislative districts under what is left of the Voting Rights Act. The state is adding two new Congressional districts following the 2020 Census, after gaining some 4 million new residents over the past decade. But, despite growth in the Latino and Black populations comprising 95% of the increase in voters, the state Republicans added two new majority White districts on their new maps, and removed yet another Latino-majority district.
  • Health officials over the past 24 to 48 hours, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have been suggesting that early data on the coronavirus Omicron variant indicates that, while it appears to be much more transmissible than previous variants, it may be less lethal. Though that is the headline you may have seen from the media since the weekend, that doesn't actually tell the full story about what that could mean. We try to fill in at least some of the blanks for the moment before folks get too prematurely excited. In short, if you haven't received a booster yet, now is a great time to do so. And, if you haven't had your initial shots, 6 months ago would have been a great time to do so (but now will suffice.) AND, if you think that already having had COVID --- and, thus, now have antibodies that you believe will protect you --- now is a great time to think again about that. We explain in full on today's show.
  • Finally, we've been reporting --- somewhat anecdotally in recent weeks --- on the bizarre way that the corporate media have been misreporting on the largely robust, and at times record, growth in the economy under President Biden over the past year as the nation attempts to crawl out from under the pandemic. Millions of jobs have been created (more than during the entire Trump Presidency); unemployment has plummeted to 4.2% (falling a remarkable four tenths of a percent in November compared to October and a full two points since the beginning of the year, when experts said it would be 2025 before unemployment fell to 4.2% again); New weekly jobless claims the week before last were the lowest they have been since 1969; etc. Yet, oddly enough, Biden's approval ratings have been driven down in recent months, thanks, in no small part, to often wildly misleading media coverage that continues to lead with areas of perceived weakness in the economy. That, despite the fact that those perceived weaknesses are misleading and/or not weakness in the economy at all.

    Late last week, Washington Post's Dana Milbank wrote that he's noticed the same thing from his colleagues. He commissioned a study to find out if he was right and, as it turns out, he is. "After a honeymoon of slightly positive coverage in the first three months of the year, Biden’s press for the past four months has been as bad as --- and for a time worse than --- the coverage Trump received for the same four months of 2020."

    "Think about that," wrote Milbank. "In 2020, Trump presided over a worst-in-world pandemic response that caused hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths; held a superspreader event at the White House and got covid-19 himself; praised QAnon adherents; embraced violent white supremacists; waged a racist campaign against Black Lives Matter demonstrators; attempted to discredit mail-in voting; and refused to accept his defeat in a free and fair election, leading eventually to the violence of Jan. 6 and causing tens of millions to accept the 'big lie,' the worst of more than 30,000 he told in office....And yet Trump got press coverage as favorable as, or better than, Biden is getting today."

    Now, why would that be? We discuss and open up the phone lines today to listeners who call in with their own thoughts on why the so-called "liberal media" has been doing such a lousy, misleading job in covering Biden's Presidency to date...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Univ. of KY election law professor Joshua A. Douglas; Also: Media fail again in reporting on latest, wildly misleading jobs numbers...
By Brad Friedman on 12/3/2021 7:13pm PT  

Should Democrats draw extreme partisan gerrymanders in states they control the way Republicans are doing in states where they have control over redistricting maps? On today's BradCast we have a very animated debate on the issue, along with a discussion of the few other ways that fans of democracy may still try and save the republic from the GOP's unabashed authoritarian lurch toward minority rule. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up today, a few quick thoughts on the corporate media, yet again, wildly misreporting national economic news amid the very robust --- and, in many ways, record --- recovery, while the country attempts to come out from under its pandemic-induced recession. On Friday, new numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) declared that America's unemployment rate continue to tumble to just 4.2% --- a remarkable, nearly half point decline since just last month to virtually where it was pre-pandemic. Nonetheless, morning headlines focused instead on lower than expected new jobs created in November, which sent the stock markets tumbling once again. That, even though, over the past year, the BLS has substantially upwardly revised previously reported monthly jobs numbers every single month except for one. They've done so with numbers that are nearly double or more than the initially reported monthly BLS statistics, amounting to nearly 1 million more jobs in 2021 than initially reported.

While its unclear why initial BLS numbers are now so far off the mark. Historically, they always revise. But, this year, post-pandemic survey numbers have been wildly off for some reason. The consequences both politically and economically have been huge. The fact that the corporate media can't seem to account for that by now in their panicked reports with each new "disappointing" set of numbers --- which will almost certainly be revised up very soon --- remains disturbing. That, as media continue to misreport on inflation and downplay positive economic news such as the lowest number of new weekly jobless claims since 1969 just last week; the nearly 1 million new jobs created this year alone; and the 1.1 million jobs filled since just last month's BLS report, to name a few points that have received much less notice from the media...for some reason. If the media can't adjust for the misleading initial BLS reports themselves, perhaps Biden's Labor Dept. Secretary should help them.

THEN, as we've been documenting, Republican-controlled states around the nation continue to implement new, extremely partisan redistricting maps for U.S. House and state legislators following the 2020 census. With computer-drawn precision, these new maps will ensure GOP gains in 2022 --- and a Republican majority in the U.S. House --- even if America votes exactly as they did in 2020, when Democratic House candidates received nearly 5 million more votes than GOP candidates.

Two years ago, the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court declared they would not intercede in fights over partisan gerrymanders. So, how can Democrats push back against this anti-democracy putsch by Republicans hoping to secure minority rule in the House for the next decade (adding to already existing minority rule in the Senate and electoral college, as baked into the Constitution, and on the Supreme Court, thanks to Republicans gaming the system there in recent years)?

We're joined today for a lively discussion on exactly that by JOSHUA A. DOUGLAS, author and election law professor at University of Kentucky's J. David Rosenberg College of Law. Last week, he proffered at least one solution in an op-ed at Politico calling for litigation in state courts all over the country, now that SCOTUS has washed their hands of the matter, while Democratic obstructionists in the Senate (Manchin and Sinema) block the party's ability to reform the filibuster in order to ban partisan gerrymandering nationwide in the Freedom to Vote Act.

"It was thought to be that the House of Representatives would be 'the people's house', the body that would represent a majority of the people and be a check on some of these other institutions that might give outsized weight to the smaller states, the rural states --- in the pre-Civil War era, the states that were trying to protect slavery," Douglas explains today. "But now, with sophisticated computers and algorithms where we can predict with such accuracy how people are going to vote, the House has become completely out of whack, such that Democrats need to win a lot more than 50 percent plus 1 in order to gain a majority in that chamber."

With federal courts no longer an option for the time being, Douglas notes that almost all states have constitutions that, unlike the U.S. Constitution, grant citizens an affirmative, fundamental right to vote. Those provisions, declaring that elections must be "free" or "free and equal" or "free and open", can and should be exploited to challenge the parties in power currently drawing maps that deprive residents of those rights, he argues. "My argument is that state courts should robustly use these phrases to protect democracy, and to throw out maps that are so skewed that the maps don't represent a fair democracy, a fair majoritarian rule, but instead keep the party in power to stay in power, to entrench them in power, just because of the way the lines are drawn."

Douglas observes that, while more challenges are beginning to be filed along those lines in state courts in recent days, he "was a little surprised" that, at least until recently, there had been very few such challenges brought in state courts, despite legal foothold offered by many of those state constitutions. "If we're looking for a solution to a situation that is untenable for democracy, at least here's one where we've seen some success," he tells me. "Just a couple of years ago, both the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the North Carolina Supreme Court relied on their state constitutions to strike down gerrymandering maps in those states. And other states' Supreme Courts have relied on their state constitutions for other democracy decisions, other issues involving the right to vote. So we have some precedent that is favorable to using these state constitutions robustly."

While I also support such challenges --- along with sharing Douglas' call for reforming the Senate filibuster to allow passage of federal legislation that would ban partisan gerrymanders in all 50 states --- I've also recently been forced to reluctantly change my position on partisan gerrymanders in states controlled by Democrats. I believe "blue" states should not unilaterally disarm. That, due to the threat to democracy itself now posed by the GOP gerrymandering scheme to "win" a House majority with a minority of votes in 2022 and then use that majority to steal the Presidential election in the House in 2024, as Douglas himself warns against in a separate op-ed this week at CNN.

Despite his assertion in his CNN piece that "we must treat the 2022 election as existential for the continued vitality of our democracy," noting that "American democracy barely survived 2020. The attacks on 2024 are already underway" and "Whether they succeed will depend on what we do right now," Douglas remains firmly opposed to tit-for-tat partisan gerrymandering by Democrats and explains why.

He and I have that out in a very lively debate to close out today's program...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Trump grifters turn on each other from 'Stop the Steal' world to Congress, as legal probs and death threats mount and laughter ensues...
By Brad Friedman on 12/2/2021 6:08pm PT  

The insanity detailed on today's BradCast is simply too insane to adequately summarize here. You may just have to tune in for this one. (Bring plenty of popcorn.) Suffice to say, the story about the self-replicating African robot frogs is probably the least bizarre or disturbing story we cover. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Here's a quick collection of just some of the news stories from which today's program derives...or devolves, depending on how you wish to look at it...

  • Possibly insane "Stop the Steal" attorney L. Lin Wood declares "Stop the Steal" is a Deep State scam; releases phone calls with QAnon loon and confessed felon Michael Flynn (now caught on tape declaring QAnon to be a CIA scam) and with fake 2020 'audit' funder and former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne, who believes failed "Kraken" lawsuit attorney Sidney Powell may have stolen as much as $70 million from the MAGA Mob for her phony, fraudulent 2020 lawsuits. Also, says Byrne, she's in love with him, gets drunk, and has tried to "bed" him in front of others.
  • The Dept. of Justice has also taken notice of Powell and has now, reportedly, convened a criminal grand jury to subpoena her "Defending the Republic" grift.
  • Wood and a bunch of other Trump lawyers are facing huge court sanctions for their phony 2020 fraud lawsuits are now trying to claim that Powell added their names to some of her "Kraken" lawsuits without their knowledge. (Don't believe them.)
  • Meanwhile, in Congress, things in Wingnut World are no less insane. The far-right House backbenchers are also turning on each other. Leading the charge over the cliff: CO's Lauren Boebert and GA's Marjorie Taylor Greene against fellow Republican and pro/anti-vaxxer Nancy Mace of SC as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is a deer in the headlights while hoping to become House Speaker someday. But it's Democrats like MN's Ilhan Omar who, for the moment, is paying the biggest --- and most frightening --- price...

Told you it was insane. But it's worse than it sounds. Tune in for all of that (and more), and our not-insane-at-all latest Green News Report with some surprisingly good news and very bad music...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Activist, author Kenny Bruno on 'DEFCON for Democracy'; Also: Fourth student dies after MI high school gun massacre...
By Brad Friedman on 12/1/2021 5:51pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's a grim day in America. But it's one that every American should be paying very close attention to nonetheless. [Audio link to full show posted at the end of this summary.]

First up today, a fourth student, a 17-year old, has died following Tuesday's mass shooting by a 15-year old at Oxford High School in Michigan. The other three victims who were killed, as well as seven other students who remained in the hospital overnight after being shot, were all aged 14 to 17. The shooter used his father's new semi-automatic pistol purchased just last Friday to carry out the massacre. There were still seven more bullets in the weapon when he surrendered to authorities. But, that's "freedom" for ya in 2021 America, apparently.

On Wednesday morning, the Republicans' stolen and packed 6 to 3 U.S. Supreme Court majority met to consider removing the previously long-settled freedom for a woman to determine her own reproductive rights in all 50 states. The case heard at SCOTUS was Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the last remaining abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi, where legislators have adopted a law that would ban all abortions in the state after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The measure was overturned in lower courts after being found a clear violation of the nearly 50-year old Roe v. Wade precedent set in 1973 and reaffirmed as settled law in 1992's Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

When MS filed their initial appeal at the Supreme Court they sought approval for their then-radical 15-week ban. It was only after last year's death of abortion rights champion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and her subsequent replacement on the Court by the far-right Amy Coney Barret just eight days before the 2020 Presidential election, that the state decided to also ask the court to strike down Roe in its entirety.

Little, if anything, has changed legally since 1992 regarding the reproductive rights Constitutionally guaranteed by Roe and reaffirmed by Casey. But the make-up of the High Court itself has changed radically. Its majority has been stolen by Republicans who cancelled the filibuster in the Senate in order to pack three, hard-right Donald Trump appointees onto it. That fact, made clear by MS legislators themselves, led Justice Sonia Sotomayor to aptly ask the state's Republican Attorney General today: "Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?"

Good question. Of course, the answer is that those on the political Right don't actually care. As the twice federally indicted Steve Bannon recently noted on his War Room radio show/podcast, Republicans are only interested in "taking over" --- from school boards to the White House --- and whether or not their hardball methods result in "a Constitutional crisis," they really don't care. "We're a big and tough country and we can handle that," he preached to his followers.

To that end, Republican officials across the country are, right now, hoping to break American democracy itself, by installing loyalist Trump party apparatchik in key election administration positions, from precinct judges to county clerks to canvassing boards to Secretaries of State, as Washington Post reported in great detail on Monday. The Plot to Steal the 2024 Election is underway RIGHT NOW. Ignore these warnings at all of our peril.

We're joined today by longtime progressive activist and author KENNY BRUNO who offered a similarly chilling --- and even more direct --- warning at Truthout over the weekend, spelling out how Trump and the GOP have already "laid the groundwork for assuming the U.S. presidency regardless of the result of the 2024 election." He details today how "most of the conditions they would need to execute [their plan] is already in place."

"Often you see it covered, or you see various aspects covered, as if they were disparate things," Bruno explains, "like the treatment of Liz Cheney, the sham audit in Arizona, the repetition of the Big Lie, the new voter suppression laws in 19 states --- covered as if they are disparate things. But the simplest explanation is that they are all part of a plan," he charges, before spelling out exactly how that plan is meant to work between now and the certification of state electors on January 6, 2025.

To "undermine faith in elections" in order to steal a Presidential election, Bruno argues, "you would want radical state legislatures, especially in swing states. You would want a majority of states with a majority of loyal members of Congress. You would want to purge moderate representatives and election officials who might not go along with ending democracy, who might not play ball. You'd want a compliant Supreme Court. You'd want to intimidate the election officials who are left. I could go on...These are things that you need in place. If you look now at Trump and the GOP, most of those boxes are already checked. And they're part of a comprehensive plan."

What --- if anything --- can be done about it? Well, the options in response, as also spelled out by Bruno in his op-ed and on today's program, are not great. But knowing and understanding what is going on is a critical first step. While we have been warning and reporting on this stuff seemingly forever (for example, while the actual attempt to steal the 2020 election was underway in advance of the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol), it seems the warnings are not being adequately amplified by either corporate media or Democrats, as Bruno sees it.

He goes on to note that his originally suggested title for his Truthout piece was "DEFCON for Democracy," before the headline was somewhat softened by editors. "I think if you understand the threat to be that severe, then you have to take drastic action. Unless you're talking about it, and preparing people for drastic action, they're not going to understand why it's justified," cautions Bruno. "This is a real threat, it's a real plan. The evidence is that it's being carried out. And if you want to stop it, you might have to take some drastic action."

"I would love to be wrong about the whole thing, to be honest," he concedes. "I think the most important thing at the moment is to talk about it, to call it out. Because if you don't socialize people to the idea that this steal, subversion, gaming of the Electoral College is underway, they won't be ready to accept your actions to defend it."

As noted, it's a grim day and a grim show today, but one that we hope will be well worth your time to listen in full...

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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Guest: Labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein of UC Santa Barbara; Also: Federal Appeals Court hears Trump case for blocking release of Jan 6 docs; Meadows now said 'cooperating' with Jan 6 Committee...
By Brad Friedman on 11/30/2021 5:53pm PT  

The accountability train and unionization train are both chugging forward on today's BradCast. So, that's a good thing! And we've also got a news-packed catch-up episode of the Green News Report following our week off last week. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, after losing at the U.S. District Court level, Donald Trump had his day before a three-judge panel at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday. He is still attempting to block the release of his White House documents related to the attack on the U.S. Capitol which he incited on January 6th in his desperate, last ditch effort to steal the 2020 election. The former President is claiming "executive privilege" to block the release of hundreds of documents, even though he is no longer President or, as the lower court judge declared just weeks ago: "Presidents are not kings and plaintiff is not President". The current President, Joe Biden, has rejected Trump's plea to invoke executive privilege to block the release of the White House records subpoenaed by the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack. We detail today's hearing and the arguments made in court on both sides.

Next, in related news, Trump's former Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, has also been subpoenaed for both documents and testimony by the House Select Committee. Like Steve Bannon before him, Meadows previously ignored those subpoenas, also claiming "executive privilege". But now that Bannon has been indicted on two federal counts of Contempt of Congress for having done so, Meadows appears to be having second thoughts. The Committee now says Meadows is cooperating and plans to sit for a deposition. The question remains as to how much he will actually share with the Committee, which still seems prepared to pull the "Contempt" trigger against him, if necessary.

Also coming up in related accountability news this week: A likely Contempt referral for low-level DoJ Trump lackey Jeffrey Clark, who the disgraced former President almost elevated to Attorney General just prior to January 6th attack, due to his willingness to lie to state legislatures that the DoJ had found fraud in the 2020 election. They didn't. Now, Clark has been refusing fully respond to the Committee's subpoenas and will hopefully pay a price for it in the coming days.

Meanwhile, in some good labor news on Monday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found in favor of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU)'s complaint that retail giant Amazon unlawfully gamed a unionization vote at its Bessemer, Alabama warehouse earlier this year. The NLRB has now ordered a re-vote for workers this Spring, after they voted against unionization by a 2 to 1 margin following months of pressure, weekly mandatory meetings with anti-union consultants, and all other forms or propaganda from the company during the initial election.

We're joined to discuss the (seemingly) good news from the NLRB by longtime labor historian, author and Distinguished Professor at UC Santa Barbara, NELSON LICHTENSTEIN, who joined us earlier this year to discuss the initial, now nullified unionization vote in Bessemer.

The colorful Lichtenstein explains the history of similar revotes, how frequently they are ordered by the federal labor board and what the odds are of the union winning this time, given the nearly 100 percent turnover in workers at the e-commerce giant's Alabama fulfillment center since the initial vote last March. He also explains that while the NLRB found a number of violations by the company, most of the egregious stuff they did to intimidate workers --- including one-on-one pressure sessions, anti-union propaganda posted in restrooms, offers of $1,000 to quit --- is almost all actually legal under current federal law.

"Once Amazon realized that probably the election would be overturned, they once again began to hold these captive audience meetings," says Lichtenstein. "These are meetings that are called by the company as they lecture to the workers why a union is a bad thing. They're really closer to Maoist re-education camps or Stalinist coercion methods than anything else. That is happening as we speak. Plus, Amazon is also keeping tabs on who the union activists are."

"All this," he argues, "points out that we really need a completely fundamental and radical change in the labor law. And more than just the labor law --- in the whole ethos that surrounds the idea of workers having rights, a voice, and having a union."

As it turns out, there is a new labor law, the Protect the Right to Organize (or PRO) Act, currently pending in Congress. "It would make illegal these captive audience meetings, which are very, very intimidating and authoritarian. It would eliminate that. It would also increase the penalties --- the financial penalties --- on companies for violating the labor law," notes Lichtenstein, the author of some 16 books related to these issues. "Right now, how much does Amazon have to pay for its violation of the labor law, which is creating this new election? Zero. The penalties are utterly trivial."

But the odds for passage of the PRO Act at this time remain long, Lichtenstein concedes. That said, he also notes that both the recently signed bipartisan infrastructure bill and Joe Biden's still-pending Build Back Better social safety net and climate action proposal have quite a few measures that support union labor.

As the "Great Resignation" continues for workers who are finding opportunities with better pay and benefits elsewhere, while the nation tries to move on from the pandemic, Lichtenstein (who recently compared the situation to opportunities for former slaves during the Civil War reconstruction era in a Washington Post op-ed) does suggest a potential way forward for anti-union companies that now face threats of being broken up by Biden's aggressive appointees at federal agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission.

"What needs to happen is this," Lichtenstein advises, "you need to make management come to the conclusion that the lesser evil, the lesser problem in their business model, would be recognizing the union rather than facing the ire of either an aroused public or government action." He tells us that Amazon, Facebook and other Silicon Valley firms are facing a "re-invigoration of anti-trust law in the Biden Administration," which he describes as "actually very pro-labor."

Those companies, he notes, could use some friends, "and an essential ally is labor." Lichtenstein details how such alliances prevented the breakup of big chain stores under anti-trust laws in the 1930s and even at General Motors in the 1950s. "Companies like that said to the labor movement, 'Well, we'll recognize you, if you let us stay big.' And that happened!"

Finally today, Desi Doyen jams about 20 minutes (or more!) of environmental news into our latest 6-minute Green News Report in hopes of getting us at least partially caught up on so much that we missed after taking the last week off for the holiday...

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We're back! Setting the record straight with REAL news on the economy, COVID, Ukraine and more. Plus: Callers help out on all of the above...
By Brad Friedman on 11/29/2021 5:46pm PT  

We're back live on today's BradCast after a week off for travel and downtime over the holiday --- and the need to set the record straight on a few things that have been misreported in our otherwise blissful absence. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

There's plenty to worry about right now in this country and on this planet. Just not necessarily the stuff the corporate media (and GOP) are telling us (or hoaxing us) to worry about. So, after a week away, we ease our way back in, beginning with the process of trying to help reset what Americans should be worried about, should not be worried about, or should otherwise be thankful for. And we also open up the phones to callers to help us do all of the above.

Among some of the source material for stories covered and/or records set straight on today's program...

  • No, as we discussed just before we left for Thanksgiving break, post-pandemic inflation is not the disaster that Republicans (and the nation's corporate media) have a stake in pretending that it is. Especially not with the recent, under-reported statistics regarding the lowest number of new weekly jobless claims filed since 1969 (a story that both the media and the GOP haven't spent nearly as much time telling you about, even as Republicans are describing Americans suffering from inflation and high gas prices as a "gold mine" for their party.)
  • The corporate media have spent most of the weekend freaking out about the scary-sounding new COVID variant called Omicron. It might be scary. It might not be. Frankly, health officials just don't know enough to know either way. But, if you're already vaccinated (especially with a booster!) and wear a mask when indoors in public places, you are likely to be just fine. That, before the mRNA vaccines get quickly updated to handle the Omicron variant in a remarkable 100 days or less, as both Pfizer and Moderna are now working toward. As President Biden correctly noted at the White House today, "This variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic." From what little we know, at least to date, no, this isn't worth being overly worried about...at least not yet --- unless you're unable to or are dumb enough or hoaxed enough to not have gotten vaccinated by now.
  • Very much worth being worried about? What is now going on --- potentially --- in both the South China Sea and Ukraine. With the pandemic, the economy and, most appallingly, the Republican Party working to destabilize the U.S. right now, China and Russia are far greater threats in both regions than they might otherwise be.
  • There is much more to be either worried or not worried about as we detail on today's program, along with a bunch of callers who help along those lines...or don't...

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Guest: Nicolás Rivero of Quartz; Also: House finally passes Biden BBB agenda, hard part waits in Senate; VA school board unbans books; Fight for majority control of VA House of Delegates not over yet...
By Brad Friedman on 11/19/2021 7:00pm PT  

Apparently it's another myth busting episode of The BradCast today. It would be nice if lousy reporting from the corporate media --- particularly regarding the economy --- didn't make these so frequently necessary of late. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up today, a few other stories of note today...

  • The 17-year old white kid who crossed a state border into Kenosha, Wisconsin to unlawfully wield a semi-automatic weapon before using it to shoot three anti-racism protesters, killing two of them, was acquitted of all charges today. So, we guess it's now open season to shoot anyone ya like, as long as you claim it was done in self-defense. And, yes, as long as you're white.
  • Democrats in the U.S. House finally came together today to pass the Build Back Better Act, President Biden's nearly $2 trillion landmark spending bill to expand healthcare, childcare, education, eldercare and much MUCH more, including the most substantive action to combat the global climate crisis in the history of the nation. Every Republican in the chamber voted against it. The transformative legislation includes scores and scores of long-overdue provisions that, if virtually any one of them were passed on their own as a standalone bill, it would be, to paraphrase the President, a BFD. But, of course, while getting it through the House took months, that was the easy part. Now, the crowning achievement of Biden's agenda will have to get through the U.S. Senate, where, without any Republican votes, all 50 Senators who caucus with the Democrats will have to sign off on in order to pass it under Senate budget reconciliation rules. That means obstructionist Democrats like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema may feel free to water it down further than they already have, or kill it all together. We'll find out what happens when the upper chamber picks up the measure, after the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • A few days ago, we reported on the Spotsylvania County, Virginia School Board's 6 to 0 vote last week to begin removing certain books from their school's libraries after a debate about whether they should ban the books or both ban and burn them. It was one of several stories we highlighted to underscore the unmistakable drumbeat of rising authoritarianism in our country right now. But, at least on that story, there is some good news this week. Democracy struck back! After 4 and a half hours of public comment at the Board's subsequent meeting this week, cut off only because it was midnight, the Board voted to reverse it's ban! Though the Board's two book burning proponents stood their ground, they lost in a 5 to 2 vote. All thanks to excellent local media reporting and a huge turnout from teachers, librarians, parents and teachers who spoke passionately in favor of libraries and books while calling for the book burners to resign.
  • Following up on another story we covered earlier this week, on the media's horrifically misleading reporting on inflation, we share part of a Paul Waldman excellent column from WaPo that sounds as if it could have been ripped straight from The BradCast's coverage that day, myth busting the very same issues that we did.
  • Then, picking up on a related-ish myth that needs busting as well this week, we're joined by NICOLÁS RIVERO of Quartz, to discuss his recent myth-busting, deep-dive reporting on our current, pre-Christmas, "post-pandemic" supply chain issues and why, despite no shortage of bad reporting on this, a shortage of truck drivers is not actually to blame.

    In fact, the industry has been claiming virtually every year since 2005 (and, really, going back to the late 1980s as Rivero documents), that they have a shortage of drivers. Last month, the American Trucking Associations announced a shortage of 80,000 drivers, declaring it "an all-time high for the industry." That, despite the fact that states issue more than 450,000 new commercial driver's licenses every year. Something doesn't add up here. At the same time, as Rivero tells me today, "between 1995 and 2017, the turnover rate at big trucking companies averaged 94%," according to the industry's own data. "That means that every year, they are refilling the equivalent of virtually every driving position, because people are quitting and leaving."

    "The real shortage," he explains, is not of truckers, but "of good trucking jobs that can attract and retain workers in a tight labor market." So, why isn't supply keeping up with demand in that supposedly free market? Rivero discusses the industry's "race to the bottom," leading drivers to take equal or better paying jobs elsewhere that don't come with all of the burdens --- especially for long-haulers --- the industry now forces onto their drivers.

    We also discuss the trucker's unions' part in all of this, and how --- and if --- Biden's new infrastructure bill might actually improve the situation, for drivers, for the industry and, yes, for our "post-pandemic" supply chain woes.

  • Finally, in our closing few minutes (before standing down to hit the road ourselves for the holiday next week!), the fight for control of the Virginia House of Delegates may not be as over as it appeared almost three weeks ago, when Republicans were declared by media to have taken the majority back from the Democrats during the off-year elections. A very close race in one district and a tallying error in another very close race (leading the Dem who currently holds that seat to withdraw her concession), has now resulted in two upcoming recounts. Republicans will control 50 seats in the 100-seat chamber. The question is now whether the GOP will control the chamber outright or --- long shot as it may be --- if both races flip to the Democrats resulting in a 50-50 power sharing agreement. Luckily, the commonwealth recently moved from 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems to hand-marked paper ballots. So a fair, overseeable count of voter intent is now possible in the state where Republican Glenn Youngkin was declared the winner in the Gubernatorial race and Republicans swept the other two statewide races on November 2nd for Lt. Governor and Attorney General.

We'll be watching over the holidays, even as 'The BradCast' and 'GNR' stand down next week for a much needed recharge of batteries and some long-overdue family time. We'll see ya after the holiday! Desi and I both hope it will be a healthy and happy one for all!...

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Also: COVID rising again before holidays; OK clemency for Julius Jones...
By Brad Friedman on 11/18/2021 6:34pm PT  

Justice isn't gonna demand itself, apparently. So we're happy (if that's the right word here) to continue doing it ourselves on today's BradCast, along with a bit of help from an actual, longtime homicide prosecutor. [Audio link to today's full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up, the mess the perps have left us with. New COVID cases are on the rise again across much of the country in recent weeks, even as the death rate is falling. But deaths tend to lag infections, which has officials concerned as we head into the holiday season once again. We take the opportunity to catch up on where the nation is in that regard, with recommendations for all to get booster shots as soon as feasible, and fresh, empirical, conclusive evidence that masking up is still the best non-pharmaceutical defense against the disease for both the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike.

In slightly brighter news, of a sort, Oklahoma's Republican Governor actually did the right thing on Thursday, if only at the last minute, by granting clemency to 41-year old Julius Jones who had been scheduled to be killed by state the today for a crime that occurred more than 20 years ago. Just hours before he was to be put to death, Gov. Kevin Stitt converted his sentence to life in prison for a murder that Jones has insisted he had nothing to do with. His case gained notoriety following a three-part documentary produced by Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis that aired on ABC in 2018. The clemency was also appropriate after the state had paused its capitol punishments following horrifically flawed executions by lethal injection in 2014 and 2015. After restarting them last month, a 60-year old prisoner convulsed and vomited as he was killed.

But speaking of murder by the government, a week or two ago on The BradCast we were joined by our friend, author and progressive talk show host Thom Hartmann, to discuss his case for mass second degree murder against Donald Trump for what he described as the disgraced former President's purposeful mishandling of the COVID pandemic in 2020. Thom's case is largely predicated on evidence revealing that, after initially taking the coronavirus seriously, the Administration changed course once they came to believe the disease was far more fatal against minorities who lived in blue states --- in other words, those who were unlikely to vote for him last year anyway.

Since we spoke with Hartmann, there has been additional damning evidence unearthed against the Trump Administration's COVID response, released by the U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, based on testimony from a number of both current and former Administration public health officials. The new information from those officials includes testimony, for example, from then White House COVID Task Force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, who reportedly believes that at least 130,000 lives could have been saved, had the the Administration taken appropriate action. Other officials have reportedly detailed how the White House blocked the CDC from sharing health guidance with the public while officials were even instructed to delete emails regarding directives on the pandemic response.

One of the maddening questions that arose during our discussion with Hartmann was why it seemed to be falling to a couple of radio hosts to even be building this public, legal case of accountability for mass murder by Trump in the first place. Where were the state prosecutors? Where was the Dept. of Justice and Attorney General Merrick Garland? Were we completely off-base in even suggesting criminal liability for mass homicide by a former President? That, as Hartmann conceded that he was, by and large, taking his best guess, as a layman, at whether charges for homicide by Trump should consist of first or second degree murder or something else entirely.

I heard from a number of folks after that program with thoughts on our conversation, including from several attorneys, two of whom had somewhat differing views on Trump's criminal liability. One suggested that, indeed, second degree murder charges seemed to fit the crime, while another felt that Trump had no direct culpability in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans. Or, at least, that it would likely be very difficult to prove any such culpability. We share the thoughts from both today.

We also heard from others who noted there was, in fact, someone else making a public case to bring homicide charges against Trump for some time. Specifically, we were pointed to longtime Washington D.C. homicide prosecutor, Glenn Kirschner, who now has his own podcast called Justice Matters. Kirschner spent some thirty years prosecuting murder cases, eventually becoming D.C.'s chief homicide prosecutor. On today's program, we share a clip from a podcast he released last December, shortly after revelations that the Administration had largely given up on trying to stop the spread of COVID and were, in fact, hoping that it would spread widely in order to eventually achieve herd immunity. That, even as infectious disease experts believed at the time that reaching herd immunity would take years and, literally, millions of American deaths before enough of the population would have enough immunity to halt the spread.

At the time, Kirschner used his podcast to explain what he saw as a clear cut case of what he described as "criminally negligent" or "criminally reckless homicide" (noting that the crime has different names in various jurisdictions). He explained how both Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence, who headed up the White House Coronavirus Task Force at the time, were "criminally responsible for needless coronavirus deaths" by the end of last year and the deaths of some 350,000 Americans at that point.

In his December 2020 podcast, Kirschner shared his belief, as a former prosecutor, that both Trump and Pence met the tests for such charges. Today, we continue to ask if any current prosecutors --- whether at the state or federal level --- are actually working to build such a case. And if not, why not?

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our last Green News Report before next week's Thanksgiving holiday. (We'll be taking the week off in desperate need of recharging our batteries and making up for family time lost during the worst of the pandemic last year.) Among the stories covered on today's GNR: disastrous extreme flooding in the Pacific Northwest on the heels of disastrous and deadly extreme heat in the same region just months ago; the Administration's controversial court-ordered oil and gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico; and President Biden's trip to Detroit to this week to promote both his new infrastructure plan and new, American-made electric vehicles...

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Guest: Jon Schwarz of The Intercept: Also: 'QAnon Shaman' gets 3+ years (while Trump runs free); Gosar censured by House; Biden seeks probe of Big Oil profiteering; Sanders on Defense spending hypocrisy...
By Brad Friedman on 11/17/2021 6:18pm PT  

Yes, inflation is real. But the panic around it is, if you will, wildly inflated and horribly misreported by the American corporate media. As Paul Waldman notes at WaPo this afternoon, "Inflation is a genuine problem, but it's hardly spinning out of control. Inflation PANIC, on the other hand, is getting ridiculous." Our guest on today's BradCast made the same argument last week as the media touched off the panic. He joins us to explain and go even further than Waldman. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up, the so-called 'QAnon Shaman' Jacob Chansley, the guy with face paint and a horned hat who took control of the dais in the U.S. Senate during the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, was sentenced to 41 months in prison on Wednesday. That's more than three and a half years, for a man with mental issues who was not particularly violent while serving as a henchman for Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election that day. Meanwhile, the organizers and planners of the assault --- namely Donald Trump himself and a whole bunch of others --- have faced zero accountability, much less jail time for their crimes lighting the fire in the first place.

In more accountability news, Arizona's far-right Republican Rep. Paul Gosar was censured by the U.S. House in response to an animated video he posted to Twitter, appearing to show him murdering Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and threatening the same for President Biden. House Republicans refused to reprimand him, so a rare censure vote was held today and Gosar was removed from his House committee assignments in the bargain. He's the second Republican to be removed from committee seats this year, after Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) faced a similar punishment for support of violent threats against Democrats prior to being elected and a similar failure by her own caucus to take action in any way. Accountability is always good, but, as with Chansley's punishment, there are some nuances and concerns worth discussing on this point as well today.

And, before we get to our guest, President Biden on Wednesday asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate potentially "illegal conduct" by Big Oil companies such as ExxonMobil and Chevron who may be inflating gas prices, even as their profits have risen and the cost of refined fuel has fallen. But the recent spike in prices at the pump has helped fuel economy-wide inflation. That, in turn --- thanks, at least in part, to some really bad reporting by the American corporate media --- has also undercut Biden's approval ratings, and is being used (disingenuously) to try and jeopardize passage of Biden's Build Back Better (BBB) social spending and climate change reconciliation bill.

Unlike the recently signed $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, the $1.75 trillion BBB is fully paid for with increases on taxes to corporations and the wealthy. And, unlike stimulus bills passed recently under both this President and the previous one, the BBB's spending is spread over the next decade, instead of as a quick jolt to the economic system. Thus, the consensus of economic experts is that it will not cause inflation and its expansion of the economy may, in fact, help ease inflation in several ways, particularly for the working class.

Still, West Virginia's obstructionist Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is using inflation fears again to try and put the brakes on the BBB package, and the corporate media are certainly helping him. For example, while largely ignoring undeniably positive news about the economy in recent months --- on everything from record job growth to very low unemployment to three months of rising retail sales --- last week, the media offered breathless reports on new inflation numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

You may recall some of the panic when the media informed us that inflation had risen to a record 6.2% in October! If true, a one month 6.2% increase in prices would be a panic. But, in truth, inflation was just 0.9 percent last month. As our guest today points out, "products that cost $10.00 in September now cost a terrifying $10.09." But lost in the panicked coverage was that the 6.2% rise in retail prices was in comparison to what they were a full year ago, in the middle of the worst of the pandemic. They didn't rise "6.2% in October" as many have misleadingly reported.

But all of that also ignores something else that most Americans do not understand about inflation, according to our guest today: It can actually be good for the working class and very very bad for corporations, in particular, for big banks. That may be just one of the reasons why media are so quick to report on inflation numbers as terrible, terrible news for the country.

We're joined today by JON SCHWARZ of The Intercept to explain all of this, as he detailed recently in an article with what he admits is "a little bit of a troll-y headline", "Inflation is Good for You". In fact, as we discuss, he's not entirely "troll-y" on that point. For one, the booming economy has resulted in rising wages (for the first time in years) at almost the same rate as inflation over the past year. He notes at The Intercept: "As prices increased 6.2 percent over the past year, wages for regular people went up 5.8 percent. In other words, inflation barely touched their purchasing power."

The larger point, however, that he explains today is why inflation can be actually be good for workers but not for big corporations like banks: "Household debt in the United States is a gigantic number, difficult to comprehend. It's like $14.5 trillion --- that is mortgages, credit card debt, student debt, it's a whole bunch of things... And when there's inflation of this kind, 6.2%, that is around $850 billion-worth of that debt falling in value. That is a transfer of wealth from creditors, the people who loaned out the money, to borrowers."

Those creditors/lenders "are the richest people in America, and they are losing a lot of money. And they don't like that! People with tons of money do not like losing enormous amounts of it," Schwarz notes. "Inflation is the absolute worst for people who have loaned out a lot of money. It is something that is never discussed, because it is a sort of clear class issue. It makes you realize that, just as a great economy for regular people is not so great for people at the top, it makes you think about what inflation actually does, and who it affects the most."

While he recognizes that "inflation can be real trouble for some people," (and there is some nuance here) the overall effects are often more positive for the working class and not even particularly harmful to those on a fixed income, such as the elderly living on Social Security, which increases each year as its tied to inflation.

There is a lot to discuss on this matter that the corporate media fail to adequately cover (for reasons which we also discuss) while misleading the nation and delighting Republicans and, yes, Joe Manchin, who has fresh (if false) evidence to use in further cutting back on Biden's Build Back Better agenda or even stopping it dead in its tracks.

Finally, as long as we're myth busting today, Congress is preparing to approve the annual National Defense Authorization Act, with nearly as much spending --- for one single year --- as BBB would cost over ten years. Yet, you'll hear almost nothing about how the U.S. can't afford to spend so much money, or that it might lead to inflation, etc. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has a thought or two on all of that, with which we close today's program...

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Ominous warnings for those who wish to notice: Republican gerrymanders continue; GOPers v. GOPers; More details on the attempt to steal the 2020 election; Book 'burning'; Trump's COVID cover-up...
By Brad Friedman on 11/16/2021 7:18pm PT  

It seemed like everything I read before today's BradCast, everything I was pushed toward via social media, everything that I simply happened to stumble upon on my own one way or another, felt like a soundtrack for America's rising authoritarianism. Everything, that is, except for the inspirational words about journalism from Pope Francis. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among the stories providing today's unmistakably dark drumbeat of America's rising authoritarianism...

  • The Pope pays "homage" to journalists and journalism, including this passage that serves us inspiration today: "Your mission is to explain the world, to make it less dark, to make those who live there fear it less and look at others with greater awareness, and also with more confidence. It is not an easy mission. It is difficult to think, meditate, deepen, stop to collect ideas and to study the contexts and precedents of a news item. The risk, you know well, is that of letting oneself be crushed by the news instead of being able to make sense of it." [The full comments in Italian; The Vatican's translation.]
  • More disturbing, extreme GOP gerrymandering this week in both Ohio and Georgia (and what we think Democrats should do in response before it's successfully used by Republicans take over the U.S. House majority in 2022 and then steal the American Presidency with it in 2024.)
  • Picking up on where we left off at the end of yesterday's BradCast, with the violent death threats against Michigan's Republican Rep. Fred Upton, who dared vote for Joe Biden's non-controversial, bipartisan infrastructure bill. Upton is hardly the only Republican now being turned on by fellow Republicans for voting to improve the nation's roads and bridges. Or, as Georgia's Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene describes it, a "communist takeover of America". Rep. Anthony Gonzales (R-OH) voted, along with Upton, in favor of Trump's second impeachment earlier this year following the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, incited by the disgraced President as part of his efforts to steal the 2020 election. Gonzales has decided not to run for re-election and explained his thoughts over the weekend on the "political loser" Trump, the mistake his party has made by backing him, and his plans to fight against Trump's re-election in 2024 if he runs. Gonzales' thoughts are worth hearing (so we share some of them), though they also reveal that Gonzales does not have clean hands himself in the ugly, growing divisiveness between Republicans and Democrats. (And between Republicans and other Republicans who are deemed not Trumpy enough.)
  • Speaking of which, despite a 93% record of voting with the former President during his four years in office (a higher percentage than Trump apparatchiks Jim Jordan, Elise Stefanik, Paul Gosar or Matt Gaetz), the Wyoming state Republican Central Committee voted over the weekend to no longer recognize conservative Republican Rep. Liz Cheney as a member of their party. Yes, that's how twisted --- and terrifying --- and authoritarian --- the Republican Party has now become. (Can you hear the drumbeat?)
  • New details, via a new book from ABC News' Jonathan Karl, on how Trump Campaign attorney, Jenna Ellis, sent a memo with instructions to then Vice-President Mike Pence on the specific steps he needed to take in order to direct several swing-state legislatures and the U.S. House to steal the Presidential election on January 6th.
  • Not authoritarian enough for ya yet? It goes all the way down to the ground. The School Board in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, last week, had a debate about whether they should ban certain books from school libraries or whether they should both ban and burn them. Seriously. (Hearing those drums yet?) For now, they voted unanimously to ban them...and to reconsider burning later. They are hardly the only ones on the increasingly hard right to cancel facts and ideas they do not like. Over the summer, Florida's authoritarian Governor and Presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis convinced his appointed State Board of Education to approve a rule banning critical race theory and the use of material from the New York Times' Pulitzer Prize winning "1619 Project" from Florida classrooms.
  • While it's still remarkable that Trump has yet to face charges for mass homicide for the hundreds of thousands of Americans he helped to die from the coronavirus last year, more details are now emerging, via the U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, about how the Administration purposefully suppressed science and public health guidance from the CDC last year. Amidst the most deadly pandemic in more than 100 years, the Administration, according to testimony and documentation from both current and former public health officials given to the Subcommittee, decisions were made to alter scientific guidance and prevent health officials from communicating directly with the public. They were even given instructions at various points to destroy evidence of their email communications on these matters. Sounds like criminal activity to me. (You still there, Merrick Garland?)
  • Finally, taking a break from the drumbeat of rising American authoritarianism, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as the U.N.'s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow ends in overtime with progress, compromises and disappointments. And President Biden signs his landmark, bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal with billions of dollars worth of long-overdue climate-related measures contained within...

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Bannon turns himself in; U.N. Climate Summit concludes with noteworthy agreement; Biden signs landmark, $1.2T roads, bridges, environment bill...
By Brad Friedman on 11/15/2021 6:16pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we try and wrestle the Monday blizzard of incoming news to the ground --- some of which suggest that maybe we're getting somewhere. Finally. Maybe. A little. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

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

  • Steve Bannon turns himself in to federal prosecutors to face two charges of criminal Contempt of Congress, each of which could earn him as much as a year in prison. But the message sent with his indictment by Attorney General Merrick Garland to the other three dozen or so Trumpers who have also been subpoenaed by the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attempt to steal the 2020 election, is the most important point here. Donald Trump's former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows may face similar charges after defying his own subpoena on Friday. Trump himself could also still be subpoenaed by the tenacious, bipartisan House Committee.
  • It took an extra day or so, but the nearly 200 nations that gathered for the COP26 U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland over the past two weeks finally reached an agreement [PDF] that all parties could sign onto over the weekend. For the first time, this year's agreement --- while not nearly enough to take on the worsening threat of our climate emergency --- finally calls for the "phase down" of coal and other fossil fuels. Incredibly, until this year, neither the words "coal" or "fossil fuels" have appeared in any of the previous 25 agreements signed by the parties over the years. And even "phase down" was a last minute change demanded by India and China from "phase out". Desi Doyen explains that and much more, including the continuing problem of securing commitments from developed countries who caused the problem to cover the enormous costs of developing countries who didn't, even as many of them are paying the greatest immediate and long term price for our climate catastrophe.
  • Beto is in. Former Democratic Congressman Beto O'Rourke declares his intention to run for Governor next year against Texas' far-right incumbent Republican Greg Abbott.
  • Leahy is out. The 8-term Democratic U.S. Senator from Vermont, Patrick Leahy, currently the longest servicing member of the upper chamber, announces he will not seek a ninth term.
  • The fate of Kyle Rittenhouse is now in the hands of the jury. The 17-year old counter-protester used a semi-automatic rifle to shoot three demonstrators, killing two of them, in Kenosha, Wisconsin last year after the police killing of George Floyd. Before handing the case to jurors, the judge --- whose bizarre behavior throughout the televised trial suggested he's in the bag for Rittenhouse --- dropped a less significant charge of being a minor in possession of a firearm.
  • Far-right propagandist and conspiracy theory profiteer Alex Jones and his Infowars media outlet were found guilty by default in the latest defamation case against him in Connecticut. The suit was brought by families of eight people killed in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Jones declared the massacre to be a "giant hoax" by the federal government. It's the fourth Sandy Hook case in which Jones has been found guilty of defamation. The first three were in Texas, where Jones' media empire is based. Juries in each state will decide how much Jones must pay in damage and court costs to the families next year.
  • The biggest political news of the day was the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill finally signed into law on Monday by President Biden in a ceremony on the White House lawn. It is the latest component of his sweeping "Build Back Better" agenda following the devastation of COVID, Donald Trump and, in this case, decades of failure to invest in rebuilding and shoring up the nation's crumbling infrastructure. We explain what's in the landmark bill, including the largest single investment in roads and bridges since the Eisenhower era. There are also a number of key environment and climate related elements in the bill, for replacement of toxic lead water pipes, hardening and expansion of the nation's power grid, investment in electric vehicle charging stations and zero- and low-emission public transit and consumer vehicles. The Administration vows the measure will create millions of jobs over the next five years. And while infrastructure has traditionally been one area on which both Republicans and Democrats tend to find common ground, the post-Trump Republican party has described the bill as a "communist takeover" of the country, and has turned on Republicans in both the House and Senate who voted for passage. That has resulted in death threats for a number of the GOPers in the House who voted for the bipartisan measure supported by such noted "communists" in the Senate as Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham.
  • And yes, we take a few calls from listeners on all of the above throughout today's program...

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Guest host Nicole Sandler with FL Gubernatorial Candidate Annette Taddeo, The Nation's Dave Zirin; Also: BANNON FINALLY INDICTED!
By Nicole Sandler on 11/12/2021 4:56pm PT  

It's NICOLE SANDLER, back to guest host today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Before we get to today's guests, there was some big breaking news just as the show was going to air. Steve Bannon was finally indicted Friday on two counts of criminal Contempt of Congress after he defied a congressional subpoena from the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

That was followed by two other interesting news tidbits. Summer Zervos, the former Apprentice contestant who accused Donald Trump of sexual assault and subsequently sued him for defamation after he smeared her, abruptly dropped her case today, while still maintaining the allegations. There has to be more to that story!

And, the week officially ended with the news that Brittany Spears is finally free of the conservatorship that's controlled her life for the past 13 years.

Now for the rest of today's show...I'm based in South Florida, where we have one of the all-time worst Governors ever. Job One is voting Ron DeSantis out of office next November. On a previous BradCast episode, I shared my interviews with the first two Democrats to enter the race against him: Nikki Fried and Charlie Crist. Today, I bring you the third candidate to jump in, FL state senator ANNETTE TADDEO.

The second of today's double-header is a conversation with DAVE ZIRIN, sports editor atThe Nation and host of the Edge of Sports podcast. Today we didn't really talk sports, but Dave's new book, The Kaepernick Effect, which isn't even about Kaepernick himself but, as the title suggests, the effect his activism had on athletes from high school to college to the pros. If you need something that'll make you feel better about humanity today (I think we all do!), then listen to this interview and read the book...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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The walls are closing in on Trump. The courts are unlikely to save him.; Also: UK Prime Ministers remind us of what actual 'conservatives' sound like, as the fight to save humanity continues at COP26...
By Brad Friedman on 11/11/2021 6:20pm PT  

Even today's late breaking news, as we are able to make sense of it on today's BradCast, is unlikely to end well for our disgraced former President, while the U.S. House Select Committee continues to close in on their man.

We were forced to shake up today's show at the last minute, thanks to the late decision by a three judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. that buys Donald Trump a few more weeks until damning documents (including video tape and more) are likely to be turned over by the National Archives to the bipartisan House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. The deadline set for this Friday is now on hold for the moment.

There's been a whole bunch of legal rulings happening very quickly over the past three days, with U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan's Tuesday night, 39-page "Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President" ruling [PDF] being the most devastating for now. All of which culminated, as of today, in a temporary administrative injunction [PDF] issued on Thursday by three Democratic appointees to the D.C. Court of Appeals and a hearing, set on an expedited schedule, for November 30th on Trump's attempt to invoke Executive Privilege as a private citizen, in desperate hopes of blocking the release of those documents.

If you're having trouble keeping up, don't worry. Today, we try to walk you through those legal rulings and where the case is heading, as the House Committee continues to make clear they have no intention of letting any of it go, in their probe of the insurrection incited by Trump as his last ditch effort to steal the 2020 election.

Top staffers in Mike Pence's office are now being brought into the probe, as top staffers in both the Trump Administration and Campaign are already facing subpoenas from the panel. The U.S. Supreme Court's previous sparse rulings on Executive Privilege from the Nixon Watergate-era do not bode well for the latest former President. That said, this Supreme Court, stolen and packed by Trump and the GOP, has also shown itself willing to ignore any and all precedent whenever they feel like it.

And while saving the nation from a bitter, angry, broken despot bent on revenge is no easy feat for any of us, imagine what it's like for the 196 nations meeting in Glasgow, Scotland right now to try and save humanity itself this week. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, of host nation Great Britain, goes to bat for the planet in the closing, crunch-time hours of the COP26 U.N. Climate Summit. His remarks serve as a helpful reminder that real conservatives (unlike American ones) are not actually insane. And, also unlike American ones, they're also actually conservative.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, on the good news and bad coming out of the closing hours of the critical climate conference...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Campaign Legal Center's Brendan Fischer; Also: Big news out of UN Climate Summit; Bad news out of federal court for Trump and friends...
By Brad Friedman on 11/10/2021 6:12pm PT  

Before my head explodes on today's BradCast while speaking with our guest about the latest ruling from the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) on foreign money in American elections, we open with some seemingly better news --- and then close later with some definitely better news. [Audio link to show is posted below this summary.]

First up, three noteworthy points came out of the COP26 U.N. climate summit in Glasgow on Wednesday, even if all three points are still somewhat vague and it remains to be seen if all 196 participating nations can unanimously (as required) come to an agreement by the end of this week's conference to cut enough global warming-causing emissions to save humanity. Is that too much to ask?

The three noteworthy points which we discuss, and quickly explain why they are so noteworthy, regard 1) a draft text [PDF] of a final agreement for COP26 (which could change before all is said and done), that actually mentions the need to phase out coal and subsidies for fossil fuels. Though that would seem obvious, it would actually be a landmark statement. 2) A pledge was announced between six major automakers (including Ford and GM!) and 30 national governments to phase out the sale of all new internal combustion vehicles worldwide by 2040 and in "leading markets" by 2035. And 3) A "surprise joint announcement" from the U.S. and China to work together to slow global warming in this decade (including reductions of emissions from both methane and coal!) and to ensure the Glasgow conference ends in success. All three points are actually big news, even if each comes with some vagaries and caveats and, in and of themselves, are nowhere near enough to save us. But all three are important and even landmark early steps toward that end, for reasons we discuss.

Next up, the FEC has affirmed that it's perfectly legal under federal law for foreign countries to spend as much as they like on American ballot referenda, at least in states that don't have laws outlawing it. Their recent 4 to 2 ruling comes from a 2018 Montana complaint where a Canadian subsidiary of an Australian firm had spent money to back a ballot measure placing new restrictions on hard rock mining in the state. It also comes on the heels of a ballot proposition last week in Maine where a record $89 million was spent on campaigns for and against a ballot initiative to halt a $1 billion cross-border corridor for a high-impact, clean electricity transmission line to bring power to the state generated by a Quebec-owned hydro-power company.

The FEC ruling allows unlimited millions from foreign individuals, companies and nations to be dumped into American ballot campaigns. We're joined today to discuss this seemingly mind-blowing FEC ruling by BRENDAN FISCHER, Director of the Federal Reform Program at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center in Washington D.C. He explains the gaping loophole in the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) that bars foreign money in American candidate elections, but not, apparently, on ballot referenda and propositions, which the FEC says federal law does not consider to be an "election"!

While objectionable and a "kind of insane outcome" to the Montana case, according to Fischer, "this is not a totally crazy or unfounded interpretation" of the federal statute. In this case, it was, in fact, the Democratic Chair of the FEC who voted with all three Republicans on the Commission. Moreover, Fischer says, in Maine, there had been a bipartisan bill adopted by the state legislature to ban foreign money in ballot initiative campaigns, which was ultimately vetoed by the state's Democratic Governor. "That was really controversial in Maine," Fischer explains, "and voters, both Republican and Democrat, were unhappy about it."

He notes that elected officials from both parties in Congress have expressed concern about this problem with FECA and have put forward legislation to fix it. "There's a surprising amount of bipartisan support for plugging this loophole," Fischer tells me. "It also should be noted that the Freedom To Vote Act --- the big voting rights and campaign finance reform bill, supported by Joe Manchin --- also includes a provision that would extend the foreign national prohibition to state and local ballot measures."

Fischer also rings in today on the scathing report [PDF] issued this week by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, led by a Republican Trump-appointee, finding that more than a dozen top Trump Administration officials --- often repeatedly and knowingly --- violated the Hatch Act's ban on federal employees using their office to campaign for candidates (specifically for Trump) in the run-up to the 2020 election. While top Trump officials, including Sec. of State Mike Pompeo, violated the decades-old Act, the punishment for doing so --- at least for political appointees, if not career federal employees --- is left up to the discretion of the sitting President. Thus, naturally, under our disgraced former President, none of the thirteen who violated the Act faced any consequences from the federal law. Fischer offers his thoughts on whether the Hatch Act, like FECA, can or should be reformed by this Congress.

Finally, Tuesday night offered some actual bad news for that disgraced former President, as a federal judge rejected his attempt to block to the release of January 6-related White House documents subpoenaed by the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Trump-incited insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan thoroughly shut down Trump's claims that Executive Privilege "exists in perpetuity" for him and that he otherwise faces irreparable harm if the National Archives releases the subpoenaed documents as scheduled this Friday. Chutkan's scathing 39-page ruling confirms the well-established principle that only a SITTING President has the power to exercise Executive Privilege to block the release of documents and that "Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President.”

Ouch. Trump's attorneys have, naturally, vowed to appeal. But the ruling is also very bad news for his disgraced former advisor Steve Bannon, who is facing a criminal Contempt of Congress charge referred to the Dept. of Justice by the U.S. House after his refusal to answer a lawful subpoena from the Select Committee. His basis for refusing to do so was that Trump told him his own documents and testimony were exempt under Executive Privilege. They aren't, because the former President has no such privilege. Neither are the documents and testimony of dozens of others subpoenaed by the Committee, all of whom, like Bannon, could be facing a year in prison for defying lawful Congressional subpoenas. As you know, this story will continue to develop in the days ahead...

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Son of VA's GOP Guv-elect tried to vote illegally. Twice; 1/6 Comm. moving toward Trump; COVID lies widen death gap between 'red', 'blue' states...
By Brad Friedman on 11/9/2021 6:34pm PT  

We've got a lot of news to cover on today's BradCast, breaking and otherwise. Not all of it is terrible. So there's that! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among today's stories...

  • First up, a story that broke late last week which we need to note here for the record. The 17-year old son of Glenn Youngkin, Virginia's presumptive Governor-elect, tried to vote illegally last week. Twice. At a precinct where his family isn't even registered to vote --- even though he's too young to vote at all, but "insisted" on being allowed to do so. His father pretended to run on an "election integrity" platform during the primary, but his campaign is now criticizing the media for reporting on the story at all. Meanwhile, Virginia election officials suggest Youngkin's son broke no laws --- which seems impossible to fathom once you hear the details. Of course, it's made all the more maddening by knowing what generally happens to those who happen to be black or brown while unknowingly voting or registering unlawfully --- versus what happens to the white son of an incoming Republican Governor. Just ask Crystal Mason in Texas for one.
  • On Tuesday, a U.S. District Court judge overseeing Donald Trump's federal lawsuit attempting to prevent the National Archives from releasing January 6th-related records from his White House, denied his latest motion. The records were been subpoenaed by the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol and will be turned over to the Committee on Friday unless the judge, or a higher court, rules otherwise before then. We explain.
  • The same Committee, led by its Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Vice Chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), have been very busy so far this week. On Monday, they subpoenaed six top Trump Campaign officials, including disgraced former National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and far-right attorney John Eastman. And on Tuesday they issued 10 more subpoenas, this time to officials who worked for Trump or the Justice Department, including his senior adviser Stephen Miller and Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany. While its unclear if the Committee will end up subpoenaing Trump himself, they have expressly not ruled it out and sure do seem to be working their way quickly up the food. Of course, until we learn if Attorney General Merrick Garland and the DoJ intend to bring criminal Contempt of Congress charges against Steve Bannon --- in response to the referral sent to them by the U.S. House --- for refusing to testify and turn over subpoenaed documents in the same investigation, none of these subpoenas will have much teeth. If Bannon is indicted, on the other hand, it will be game on for everyone. We continue to wait and watch...
  • In COVID news, a North Dakota lawmaker who organized a rally on Monday to oppose vaccine mandates wasn't able to make it. He has COVID. But he's also certain that Ivermectin, the horse deworming anti-parasitic he is taking, will cure him. Public health experts do not concur.
  • That NC lawmaker is hardly alone in falling for the vast, criminal, disinformation industry surrounding the coronavirus. A new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds nearly 80% of Americans either believe or are unsure whether to believe one or more complete falsehoods surround the pandemic, including evidence-free claims that the government is exaggerating the number of COVID deaths; that the government is hiding deaths caused by the vaccines; that the vaccines can give you COVID; that they contain microchips; or can change your DNA. The survey also found that those who trusted rightwing outlets like Fox "News", OAN and Newsmax were FAR more likely to be suckered by those lies.
  • All of which helps explain the news that the gap between COVID infections and deaths in "red" states versus "blue" states continues to widen with each passing month. Last month, 25 out of every 100,000 residents in heavy Trump counties died from COVID, versus just 7.8 residents in counties that voted heavily for Joe Biden. It was the fifth straight month that the gap in death rates between Trump and Biden counties has widened. That gap continues to grow this month as well, with new deaths now running 5.8 times higher per capita in the the heaviest "red" counties versus the heaviest "blue" counties.
  • We've reported many tragic stories over the past year about those who've refused, for various reasons, to get vaccinated, only to come to regret their choice after becoming hospitalized with a severe case of COVID. Many went on to die. Today, we have a variation on that story...with a sobering, but happier ending.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for another very busy Green News Report, following the passage last week of the $1.2 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill in Congress, including a number of key climate provisions, and as the critical U.N. climate summit known as COP 26 continues this week in Glasgow, Scotland...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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