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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, April 17, 2024
'Trump Media' Plummeting, MAGA Buyers Losing Life Savings: 'BradCast' 4/16/24
Also: Trump's ridiculous 'immunity'; 7 jurors seated in NY criminal trial; Repubs deliver impeachment to Senate; Smartmatic, OAN settle 2020 defamation suit...
'Green News Report' 4/16/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Record ocean heat bleaching corals worldwide; EV charging roads in Indiana; Biden raising drilling, mining royalties for first time in a century; PLUS: A marine mystery in Florida...
Previous GNRs: 4/11/24 - 4/9/24 - Archives...
Trump's First Criminal Trial, for Cheating in 2016, Begins in NY: 'BradCast' 4/15/24
Special coverage of an historic day with Heather Digby Parton of Salon, attorney Keith Barber of Daily Kos...
Sunday 'Party Like It's 1864' Toons
THIS WEEK: Bad politics, good toonery and at least one wake-up call, in our latest collection of the week's best toons!...
Biden Closes 'Gun Show Loophole'; Repubs Turn Desperate: 'BradCast' 4/11/24
RNC Chair says Ukraine our enemy; GA Lt. Guv faces probe; Fox hides AZ abortion ruling, Hannity blames Dems; WI Justice to retire...
'Green News Report' 4/11/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
10th hottest month ever in a row; Swiss climate inaction violates human rights; PLUS: EPA crack down on airborne chemical plant pollution, 'forever chemicals' in drinking water...
Previous GNRs: 4/9/24 - 4/4/24 - Archives...
'Pink Slime': Fake 'Local News' Sites Proliferating in Advance of Election: 'BradCast' 4/10/24
Guest: Alex Mahadevan; Also: Trump CFO back to jail; GOP chaos, panic after AZ's 1864 abortion ban restored...
Dirty Tricks and the Dirtiest Candidate Of All Time: 'BradCast' 4/9/24
A CA three-way!; Polls shift toward Biden; RW scam artists pay the price; Trump rejected again in NY criminal case, facing trouble for phony $175M bond in NY civil case...
'Green News Report' 4/9/24
Big hurricane season coming; Colorado River used mostly for cattle; Good news for CA snowpack, for now; PLUS: Disney's Tomorrowland says goodbye to Yesterdayville...
'Titanic Law' Reform Just Tip of Iceberg in Quest for Key Bridge Accountability: 'BradCast' 4/8/24
Guest: Helen Santoro; Also: Media echo Trump abortion lies; Biden's new debt relief for 30M...
Sunday 'Dark Days Indeed' Toons
FEATURING: The Eclipse! Disinformation! 'Victimless' Crimes! And much more in our latest collection of the week's darkest toons...
Trump's Very Bad Day in Court(s), Other Good (& Less Good) News: 'BradCast' 4/4
No Labels out; Soft sentence for vote fraudster; WI reconsiders drop-boxes; NE nixes Elctrl College change; Biden v. Israel; Sanders, Biden tout drug price success...
'Green News Report' 4/4/24
Hunger crisis amid drought in Africa; Biden invests billions to decarbonize manufacturing; Melting ice is bending time; America's first commercial-scale offshore wind farm...
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...


Results from OH, KY, MS, PA, VA, elsewhere; Guest: 'Handbook for a Post-Roe America' author Robin Marty of the West Alabama Women's Center...
By Brad Friedman on 11/8/2023 5:52pm PT  

It was a very good night for democracy and reproductive freedom in these United States on Tuesday, as Democrats, in almost every state holding off-year elections yesterday, continued their post-2016, Trump-era winning streak at the polls. We cover both the reported results from Tuesday and what they mean moving forward on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

  • First, the results, including major wins for abortion rights and the legalization of marijuana in the "red" state of Ohio, where Donald Trump won by 8 points in the 2020 election, and where the GOP pulled out all the stops to block the right to reproductive freedoms from being written into the Buckeye State constitution. Unverified results today show both ballot measure were adopted by voters on Tuesday by nearly 14 point margins.
  • In Virginia, Dems held onto their majority in the state Senate and won back a majority in the House of Delegates. Thus, crushing the hopes --- and, perhaps political future --- of Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin while also blocking his hopes of instituting restrictions on abortion in the southern state.
  • There was also a blue moon over the "deep red" state of Kentucky on Tuesday, where Trump won in 2020 by 26 points, and where the state's Democratic Governor Andy Beshear out-performed polling to defeat KY's Trump-endorsed A.G. to win a second term. Beshear vowed during the campaign to continue his fight against the state's total ban on abortion and he won on Tuesday by about five points. Statewide Democrats on the ballot below him, who did not run on abortion rights, all lost. Nonetheless, Beshear's victory may be a good omen for Democrats for another reason. The winning party in KY's off-year Gubernatorial elections has gone on to win the White House in every election this century. That's the past six in a row.
  • The news was not as good for Dems in Mississippi, where long-shot challenger Brendan Presley actually under-performed polling in his challenge to the incumbent, scandal-plagued Republican Governor Tate Reeves. Presley and Reeves both opposed abortion rights. (Paying attention, Democrats?) Of course, the disastrously run election in the state's 83% Black capital city of Jackson --- ballots ran out in many locations, lines were hours long, the state's online polling locator had incorrect instructions for more than 90 polling places --- didn't help.
  • But, in Pennsylvania, voters elected a new, pro-abortion Justice to their Supreme Court, and Philadelphia elected its first female Mayor (who also happens to be black).
  • Voters in Rhode Island, in the only U.S. House Special Election of the night, elected Gabe Amo as their first elected Black Representative for Congress, as Dems continue their streak of out-performing in Special Elections.
  • And voters up in Harlem elected Yusef Salaam, a member of the exonerated "Central Park Five", to the New York City Council. Salaam had been one of five young Black and Hispanic boys arrested and forced to confess to the brutal 1989 rape and beating of a white jogger in Central Park. He was jailed at age 15 and imprisoned for almost seven years before DNA evidence exonerated all five of the young men. A then little known real estate developer named Donald Trump took out full page newspaper ads at the time, calling for the reinstatement of New York's death penalty in hopes of killing the boys. He has never retracted or apologized for his demands. He still insists the innocent boys should be executed, as he remains the Republican Party's front-runner for next year's Presidential election.

But the biggest story of the night were the huge wins for abortion rights pretty much everywhere, and the Democrats who support them. We're joined today to discuss what all of it means moving forward into 2024 by ROBIN MARTY, author of 2019's prescient New Handbook for a Post-Roe America and The End of Roe v. Wade: Inside the Right’s Plan to Destroy Legal Abortion.

Marty is also the Executive Director of the West Alabama Women's Center. She offers a lot of insight --- sometimes harrowing, sometimes witty --- into the political fight for reproductive freedoms in both the Deep South and the nation as a whole, as efforts are now reportedly moving forward to place abortion right on the ballot --- both for and against them --- in about a dozen states.

She's got a lot to share today, including her call for Democrats to run on a federal referendum to restore abortion rights nationwide. For today, however, she is enjoying yesterday's wins across the country.

"The most important thing to take away is the fact that voters are still pissed," she tells me. "This is exactly their way of showing just how angry they are. It is going to take all of us, as voters who believe in reproductive rights, to go out, vote and change government on every level. And that's what people did yesterday. They changed it in governors races, flipped statehouses, changed abortion language on the ballot. They went and took out school boards that had gone totally MAGA and had started trying to take away the ability for kids to be able to read age-appropriate sex ed books. So we, literally, are going at every level of the government, and that is going to change things back."

As to her sharp response to the every-few-months retreaded claims from political pundits that the fight for abortion rights may be losing its potency since Roe v. Wade was overturned by our corrupted Supreme Court last year, well...you'll want to tune in for Marty's sharp reply to that question...and much more...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Huge ES&S touchscreen fail in PA county; Missing VBM ballots at OSU; Also: WI GOP advances impeachment against state Election Director; Meadows sued by own book publisher for lying about 2020 election...
By Brad Friedman on 11/7/2023 5:55pm PT  

Today was Election Day in a bunch of states across the U.S. Important contests and ballot measures were before voters in this off-year election, including in Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Mississippi, parts of California and elsewhere. And, as covered on today's BradCast, things did not go well for voters in parts of at least two of those states on Tuesday. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

  • As we reported at The BRAD BLOG earlier today in some detail, new, unverifiable touchscreen voting machines made by ES&S were reportedly flipping votes in Northampton County, Pennsylvania. This wasn't the type of "flipping" that we've seen many times in the past, where the screens on the voting system are not calibrated correctly and when one tries to select a candidate, a different one gets highlighted instead. This was quite different.

    At a number of precincts across Northampton, a largely suburban enclave outside of Philly, when voters selected either "Yes" or "No" in a statewide retention election for each of two judges (one D and one R), everything presumably worked as expected. But if voters chose "Yes" for one of the judges and "No" for the other, their votes would get reversed to the opposite selections. Making matters worse, the computer printout of those votes would be reversed, while the screen itself would show the voters' actual selections.

    Back in 2019, as we reported at the time, just after the ES&S ExpressVote XL systems --- wildly expensive computerized electronic pencils --- were first purchased for use in Northampton, there were a number of candidates who learned after the election they had received ZERO votes on them. That, of course, was not true, and the paper printouts from the systems were eventually used to discern what were believed to be the correct results of the elections. But, of course, there is no way of knowing if the printed paper records were actually accurate, whether voters bothered to verify them, or if they did so correctly even if they tried to. That's just a few of the problems with every touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) used across the country. (For example, every voter at every polling place in the entire state of Georgia is still forced to use similarly unverifiable BMD systems made by Dominion Voting Systems.)

    Shamefully, after the 2019 disaster, PA's Northampton County didn't dump the machines then and there and move to verifiable hand-marked paper ballots instead. Today, those same systems melted down for voters again. And, perhaps even more shamefully, the County officials who approved them for use in the first place were blaming everybody but themselves for it, including election officials and ES&S. Perhaps most shameful of all, one of the candidates who, in 2019, was reported to have received "zero" votes in his election at the time for Northampton County Judge, but later found that he had actually won the election, presided over what to do about today's mess. After the problems came to light, he was the Northampton County Judge who, rather than ordering a move to hand-marked provisional paper ballots, instructed election officials to continue using the machines despite the fact that they were reversing votes.

    One local outlet reporting on the mess described today's "solution" to the problem this way: "In cases where the error would pop up for the retention question, the county would flip the results during the post-election canvass." (!!!)

    As noted, this is just a mess. Much more on all of this on today's show. And, I suspect, we'll be covering it more in the days ahead. Let's hope there are no close elections either statewide or in Northampton when PA results are tabulated tonight.

  • Also today, it is being reported that, according to several nonpartisan voting rights groups, "an extraordinarily high number" of voters in the zip code of Ohio State University never received their requested absentee ballots by mail. The state held a critical election for a Constitutional measure today to protect abortion rights, as Republicans in the state, including its Sec. of State Frank LaRose, have pulled out all the stops to block the Amendment from passage (including recently purging 26,000 voters quietly from the rolls after the election had already begun.) There is also a proposal to approve recreational marijuana on Tuesday's ballot. Once again, the results, whatever they may be, better not be close, or there will be some hell to pay in the Buckeye State, I suspect.
  • In Wisconsin, Republicans appear to be working hard to ensure chaos for next year's critical Presidential election in the Badger State. State Assembly speaker Robin Vos, last week, advanced 15 articles of impeachment against the state's top election official, as part of their years long effort to blame someone --- anyone! --- for Donald Trump's 2020 loss in the battleground state.
  • And, speaking of 2020, Mark Meadows, Trump's former Chief of Staff and current co-defendant in the conspiracy case against them and 17 others for attempting to steal the Presidential election in Georgia, is being sued by his own book publisher. The publisher, All Seasons Press, claims that Meadows' reported cooperation in Special Counsel Jack Smith's federal indictment against Trump for his attempt to steal the 2020 election, contradicts Meadows claims in his book that the election was "rigged" and "stolen". ASP is now suing Meadows for millions. And it's hilarious.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as Australia braces for another record bushfire season amid an El Nino; October 2023 is officially declared the hottest October ever recorded on the planet; Michigan enacts sweeping climate and environmental legislation; and President Biden unveils the nation's largest investment in rail travel in 50 years...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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In 2019, same machines recorded ZERO votes for some candidates
NOW UPDATED WITH MORE DETAILS...
By Brad Friedman on 11/7/2023 11:46am PT  

Unfortunately, this "programming error" being reported during today's off-year elections in Pennsylvania is hardly the first time that these terrible touchscreen voting systems made by ES&S and shamefully still used in Northampton County --- just outside of Philly --- have failed during a critical election day.

As reported this morning by the Lehigh Valley News...

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - A flaw in Northampton County's voting machines forced multiple polling places to turn to provisional ballots Tuesday morning.

A programming error with the county's ES&S ExpressVote XL machines is causing votes to flip when voters split their votes on [statewide] retention questions for Superior Court judges Jack Panella and Victor P. Stabile. Panella, of Palmer Township, is a Democrat while Stabile is a former chair of the Cumberland County Republican Committee.

If a voter cast a "Yes" vote for one of the incumbents, but a "No" vote for the other, the votes come out flipped, Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure said.

McClure characterized the error as relatively minor and stressed all votes will be counted. But he expressed his frustration that the mistake wasn't caught during pre-election testing.

"I'm livid at the election folks and ES&S," McClure said.

This is only "relatively minor" for those who continue to support using unverifiable, computerized touchscreen voting systems rather than simple, verifiable, hand-marked paper ballots, which appear to have saved the day here (hopefully), in any case...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Reproductive freedoms and vote purges in VA, OH; Upset Gubernatorial races on deck in KY, MS?; Election denialism threatens vote counting in northern CA county; Also: Listener calls and other news of the day...
By Brad Friedman on 11/6/2023 6:26pm PT  

Tomorrow is a so-called "off-year" election in a number of states. But several of those elections may tell us quite a bit about the 2024 elections, and not necessarily in the way you may think, as reported on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among today's stories...

  • First up, some quickish news updates. Donald Trump took the stand on Monday in court in Manhattan for three and a half hours of contentious testimony in his losing battle to save his fraudulent company and his children's inheritance in New York State's $250 million fraud lawsuit against them for falsely inflating Trump Organization assets to the tune of $2.2 billion dollars each year from 2011 through 2021. He's already lost the case. Now the question is how much it will cost him (and his children.)
  • Next, a few quick updates on Israel's relentless war against the people of Gaza following the Hamas attack against Israel on October 7, which killed at least 1,300. Now, more than 10,000 have reportedly been killed in response in Gaza, including more than 4,000 children. Calls for a ceasefire are getting louder in the U.S. and around the world. The Biden Administration's calls and Sec. of State Antony Blinken's shuttle diplomacy in the region for a "humanitarian pause" to speed additional humanitarian aid into Gaza and allow the release of some 240 hostages, have yet to gain much traction from Israel's hard-right government.
  • Then, it's on to Tuesday's elections, first with a focus on two Gubernatorial contests in the Deep South, with one popular incumbent Democrat (Kentucky's Andy Beshear) seeking a second term, and another Democrat (Mississippi's Brandon Presley) vying for a long-shot victory now that his state, where 40% of the population is black, has finally done away with a Jim Crow law that has dampened African-American turnout for generations.
  • We discussed the critical fight for control of the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates last week with former VA Delegate Mark Levine. But it was worth revisiting today for a reminder of how much is stake in the Commonwealth on Tuesday, including the right to abortion, which its Republican Governor, Glenn Youngkin, is vowing to restrict if he can hold the House and flip just two seats in the Senate on Tuesday. Every seat in the General Assembly is up for grabs this year, in what is likely to be seen as a bellwether ahead of the 2024 Presidential contest.

    But the biggest battle of the day is likely to be Ohio's Constitutional amendment to protect reproductive freedoms. Republicans are pulling out all the stops to lie, cheat and, yes, even steal it if they must, to block the popular ballot initiative in hopes of instituting a six-week ban on abortions in the Buckeye State with no exceptions for rape or incest. To that end, Republican Sec. of State and U.S. Senate nominee-wannabe Frank LaRose recently purged some 26,000 voters from the rolls. He did so after overseas and military voting had already begun (which would have been unlawful during a federal election) and without giving a heads up to voting rights groups as he has in the past. Those nonpartisan groups have frequently discovered and prevented thousands of errors in such purges. Last week's shocker, as discussed on Thursday's show, wherein I learned from an obituary on the Internet that I had died (even though, I assure you, I haven't) is a reminder of how easy it can be to wrongly remove "dead" voters from the roles who are, in fact, quite alive. At least when you do it as LaRose has done. But, of course, that's why he did it.

    And, in what may be a bit of a sleeper "bellwether" for next year's elections, one county in Northern California may be bracing for potential political violence, as rightwingers in Shasta County are insisting on hand-counting ballots after prematurely ending their contract with Dominion Voting Systems. But the elected registrar --- the only county-wide elected Dem in the County --- believes it wise to follow state law and tally with new Hart-Intercivic tabulators instead. Tune in for details. And keep your eyes on Shasta over the next few days, as we will.

  • Then we close by taking a few calls from listeners on some of the above today. Buckle up! Not as much for today's show or our callers, but for tomorrow's otherwise low-key, but critical elections around the country...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Is Brad actually dead?; Why has the U.S. 'paused' gun exports?; Does the new House Speaker have a bank account?; Also: Santos expulsion fails (for good reason); A five-dollar question for Nikki Haley...
By Brad Friedman on 11/2/2023 5:58pm PT  

Join us on today's BradCast, as we dig deep to explore several fascinating, mysterious stories, some of which may remain a riddle for all time. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among the mysteries and other news stories we either solve, or do not, on today's program...

  • No matter what you may read on the Internet, I am not actually dead...At least to my knowledge.
  • Why did the U.S. Commerce Department quietly "pause" gun exports for the next 90 days almost a week ago? (The answer may be here.) And why haven't I heard about it until now?
  • Why does newly elected GOP House Speaker Mike Johnson appear to have no bank accounts or assets of any type? Is that even possible? And, if so, is it a good or bad thing?
  • Why did 31 House Democrats vote against expelling serial liar and federally indicted New York Republican Rep. George Santos on Wednesday? The answer may satisfy you.
  • Why does Desi Doyen's latest Green News Report always air at the end of The BradCast? Even when it contains good news about the Biden Administration's massive new environmental investment in rural America?

Those mysterious stories and other questions asked and occasionally answered on today's program! (But, seriously, I'm not dead!)

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Pandora, TuneIn, Google, Amazon or our native RSS feed!

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Guest: Journalist Russ Baker; Also: House GOP scheme uses Israel to attack IRS; WI Guv sues Legislature for blocking government functions...
By Brad Friedman on 11/1/2023 7:03pm PT  

I'm guessing my use of his name in the headline will get me even further downgraded on Twitter/X when posting today's BradCast there. So be it. It's just one more example of how bad it has become. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

That is not just hyperbole. Ask the guy in Berlin who is now suing Twitter to have his account reinstated on the social media site after data he compiled was used by the New York Times and CNN to detail how Twitter restored accounts of far-right extremists after Elon Musk purchased the company last year. More on Musk in a moment.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found [PDF] on Wednesday that Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson's proposal to "pay for" $14.3 billion in emergency aid to Israel amid its war with Hamas by "offsetting" the cost with cuts to the IRS budget would cost the U.S. tens of billions in revenue and increase the federal deficit. The plan, according to the CBO, would prevent the IRS from enforcing tax laws against the wealthy and corporations to the tune of $26.8 billion in lost revenue and would add $12.5 billion to the deficit over the next ten years. The White House describes proposal as a "non-starter" and has vowed to veto it if it should ever show up on his desk. It won't. In the meantime, a bipartisan plan for emergency aid to Israel, Ukraine and for the U.S. southern border continues to move forward in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

The U.S. House is hardly the only dysfunctional Republican-run legislative body these days. On Tuesday, Wisconsin's Democratic Governor Tony Evers filed suit at the state's Supreme Court against the gerrymandered GOP state House and Senate, accusing them of failing to carry out basic government functions, like signing off on previously-legislated pay raises for some 35,000 University of Wisconsin employees; blocking new state agency rules for updating commercial building codes and ethics standards for licensed social workers, therapists and other professional counselors.

Compared to the ongoing disaster in the Middle East, however, perhaps those issues are small potatoes. The death toll in Gaza continues to quickly escalate in the wake of Israel's unrelenting response to Hamas' barbaric attack on October 7. But, as bad as it all is, it has been made unnecessarily worse thanks to a flood of disinformation on social media, most notably, on Elon Musk's rebranded Twitter/X.

We're joined today by longtime investigative journalist RUSS BAKER, now Editor-in-Chief of Who, What Why and publisher of the "Going Deep" newsletter where he recently described Elon Musk as "Chaos Agent #1". (Don't tell Trump. He might sue for the title!)

"Let's be realistic about what X, formerly known as Twitter, is," Baker argues today. "It is the world's largest public address system ... Essentially, what has happened here is that the P.A. system has been taken over by the school bully. Normally, the school would never allow such a thing. But that's all gone out the window" now that the bully --- one of the richest men in the world --- actually owns the whole school!

We've discussed just some of the disinformation that has been flooding out from Twitter of late, and the increasing danger of disinformation via social media with expert Lee McIntyre in recent weeks. But what, if anything, can --- or even should --- be done about it? There are a lot of tricky Constitutional issues here, at least in the U.S. The EU, on the other hand, has recently begun to crack down on Musk for failing to moderate the increasing tidal wave of disinformation since he purchased Twitter, and the tsunami which has followed in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war.

Aren't our hands largely tied here because of the First Amendment? Says Baker: "I am a person who doesn't just automatically accept any such claims, including those who say we can't fix the Electoral College, we can't do anything about the Constitution. I think all of those things are up for discussion. I am not an expert, but I believe there are ways, if there is a will, that there are forms of regulatory relief, issues about monopoly practices, there are many, many things that could possibly be applied to him. I would like to see a discussion happening now about this."

And so we have such a discussion today. Or begin one. On the possibility of an outside council of news organizations and social media organizers, to develop best practices for social media and content moderation. On the necessity of independent media to counter disinformation both on social media and from governments. And what FDR and JFK had to say when it became clear that the "concentration of wealth and unbridled power, and our society's failure to address the threat that represents to the public interest" needed to be addressed in their times as well...

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Guest: Former Delegate Mark Levine on VA Assembly, Youngkin's future up for grabs; Also: OH GOP lying about abortion rights ballot initiative...
By Brad Friedman on 10/31/2023 6:17pm PT  

With everything else going on both here in the U.S. and around the world you can be forgiven for losing track of the fact that next Tuesday is an important off-year Election Day in a number of states, including Kentucky, Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia and elsewhere. On today's BradCast, we try to get you caught up on a number of key contests and the stakes for what will be seen next week --- correctly or not --- as bellwether elections in advance of next year's critical 2024 Presidential contest. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

There are some interesting Gubernatorial races next week. In "deep red" Kentucky, the state's popular Democratic Governor Andy Beshear will be running for a second term. And in even "deeper red" Mississippi, dysfunctional infighting among state Republicans could translate into what would be a surprise, long-shot victory for Democratic candidate Brandon Presley. But, as our guest suggests today, elections tend to be won by the voters who show up.

In Ohio, as you may recall, back in August, Republicans attempted to use a last minute, single-issue Special Election to adopt a ballot initiative that would mandate all future amendments to the state Constitution require a 60% majority for passage, instead of a simple majority, as has been the case for over a hundred years in the Buckeye State. That measure, Issue 1, failed. It wasn't even close. Voters understood that it was clearly a scheme meant to derail a popular state Constitutional initiative to protect abortion rights scheduled for the November 7 ballot in response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme court last year and state GOP lawmakers adoption of a 6-week abortion ban with no exceptions for rape or incest.

Ohio's popular Republican Governor, Mike DeWine, has been lying to voters about next week's ballot initiative to protect reproductive freedoms by calling Issue 1 (yes, confusingly, it has the same name as the GOP's failed measure in August!) "too extreme" for Ohio. Of course, there is nothing extreme about it. Which is why state Republicans are lying to voters and even succeeded in convincing the state's GOP-leaning Supreme Court to allow them to use a "summary" of the measure on the ballot, rather than the actual text of the initiative (which was shorter!), to replace the word "fetus" with "unborn child". Hopefully Buckeye Staters don't fall for that scam either.

In Virginia, every seat in the General Assembly is up for grabs this year, as Democrats need to flip just a handful of seats to retake the majority in the state's House of Delegates and Republicans need to flip just two seats to take back the state Senate. At the same time, all new legislative maps this year have completely shaken up the Commonwealth, with the political future of Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin apparently hanging in the balance. Whatever happens next week could well decide whether the termed-out Governor jumps into the 2024 GOP Presidential contest and/or adopts a 15-week abortion ban, which has been prevented to date by Democrats in the Assembly.

Those stakes may also help explain why Youngkin has worked so hard during his two years in office to prevent new voters from registering and to suppress the votes of certain types of voters.

We're joined today by VA's longtime progressive radio host and three-term Democratic former state Delegate MARK LEVINE to discuss what next week's elections mean for VA, for the nation, and for Youngkin's political future.

"I've long argued that Virginia is an 'indigo' state, which means it's mostly purple with a tinge of blue. I think, on average, we're going to very very closely vote Democratic," he tells me today regarding next week's contests. "Unfortunately --- or fortunately, depending on the year --- Virginia really is a very good bellwether for the United States. The same year we lost our House [of Delegates] in 2021, barely, the Republicans gained the [U.S.] House of Representatives, barely. Virginia really is an excellent bellwether. I would argue the nation is an indigo nation --- purple but ever-so-slightly blue --- and that's where we are. It really could go either way."

Levine explains that VA voter turnout in Presidential years is usually about 75% in the Commonwealth. In mid-term elections and off-year elections with a Governor's race, it's about 45%. Next week's race, he says, "is called the 'off-off elections'" when usually "only about 23% of Virginians show up. So what that means is whoever is angrier, that's who shows up. Are the MAGA Republicans angrier? Or are progressive Democrats angrier? I don't know. I would think abortion is very motivating. It will be a real test, because that's mostly what Democrats are running on."

"We had an election in 2017 that was a tie vote. They flipped a coin, and that's why we didn't control the legislature in 2017," he says. "The point is, one vote really can make a difference, particularly in these local races that decide the legislature. So I just want to urge anyone in Virginia, or anyone who knows someone who you think may still live in Virginia, please call them, remind them to vote. We've made it really easy. We have early voting now. You can go vote today, tomorrow, next day. The polls are open. They're close to your house. Get out and vote!"

Will the Democrats' focus on protecting reproductive freedoms in an ostensibly "blue" state, currently headed up by a Republican, work as well as it has over the past year in so many "red" states? Will the re-shuffling of legislative maps hurt or help Democrats? And will the results next week really help determine whether Youngkin decides to jump into the 2024 GOP Presidential contest? Levine has a lot of thoughts on all of those topics and many others, in our VERY lively discussion today!

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with a suspiciously larger-than-usual amount of not-terrible-news, including even some good environmental news out of the, yes, so-called "deep red" state of Kentucky...

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Acapulco struggles after Otis; Crisis deepens in Gaza; Also: UAW wins strike against automakers; Callers ring in on Israel-Hamas conflict...
By Brad Friedman on 10/30/2023 6:28pm PT  

It was another grim weekend of news. Though there was a bright spot or two. On today's BradCast, we talk about as much of it as we have time for. Including with callers. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among our coverage today...

  • We begin on a personal note of sorts. I received both my COVID and Flu shots over the weekend. So, as usual, I was pretty laid out for the 24 hours following. That said, I feel great today, happy to feel somewhat protected heading into the holiday season, and ask you to consider doing the same if you haven't already. I would also ask you, once again, not to fall for the deadly lies and disinformation that persists around the very safe and wildly effective COVID vaccines which continue to save billions of lives worldwide, despite the dupes and cretins who would use false "evidence" to hoax you to the contrary. Your life and those of your family are worth protecting. Please do. We're gonna need all hands on deck during next year's critical Presidential election. You will need to be alive to vote. Get your newly formulated COVID shots, now covering additional strains of the deadly virus, ASAP!
  • Next up, the death toll from last week's stunning Category 5 Hurricane Otis in Acapulco continues to rise. At least 45 are now confirmed dead as of airtime today, with several dozen still missing. All of that after the resort city of more than a million had little or no time to prepare for a storm of this magnitude which spun up last week from Tropical Storm to deadly Cat 5 in less than 12 hours, thanks to the rapid intensification of such storms in our climate changed era.
  • Speaking of disinformation, there is a lot of it out there right now, circulating on social media in particular, regarding the Israel-Hamas conflict. And its coming, frankly, from all sides of the conflict. We run through a few of some of the most viral lies that have been moving quickly across Elon Musk's Twitter/X and TikTok. A falsely misrepresented video purporting to show U.S. Marines arriving at an airport in Israel (it's actually a Defense Dept. video from 2022, showing U.S. troops arriving for NATO drills in Romania); Videos of Russian and North Korean dictators Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un with false English captions, and much more. Moral: Be careful what you "like" and share on social media. If something is too amazing to believe, there's probably a reason for that. Check with the many various fact-check sites and services out there before making things worse by spreading such disinformation. The real news is bad enough.
  • Speaking of just some of that horrible real news, both the death toll and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is worsening by the hour, though Sunday saw nearly three dozen truckloads of desperately needed food, water and medicine make its way into southern Gaza. It's not nearly enough, but it's something. That, after a weekend of communications --- both phone and Internet --- being cut off across the entire enclave during Israel's most intense bombing to date as it began to move ground troops into Gaza. The Biden Administration reportedly pressed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's far-right government to restore communications in Gaza, has been urging them to allow more humanitarian aid in, and to be "surgical" in its response to the horrific Hamas attacks of October 7. They are having some success. But, from virtually all legitimate reporting, not nearly enough. More than 1.4 million Gazans have fled their homes, and the death toll of Palestinians, as reported by the Hamas-run health ministry, is now said to be more than 8,000. Many of the dead are women and children. Roughly 250,000 Israelis have also been evacuated from homes along both the border of Gaza and the northern border with Lebanon amid persistent rocket attacks following Hamas' attack on Southern Israel earlier in the month that left some 1,400 dead.
  • In brighter news back home, the United Auto Workers union, over the weekend, sealed deals with both Stellantis and General Motors akin to the one struck days earlier with Ford, to end their six-week walkout. The union was able to achieve substantial pay raises for long-time, new and previously temporary workers, along with other long-sought benefits. UAW President Shawn Fain, over the weekend, called the development "a turning point in the class war that has been raging in this country for the past 40 years." At the White House on Monday, President Biden lauded the "historic" deals, "due to the commitment and solidarity of the UAW workers who exercised their right to collectively bargain. They won a record contract with over a 30% increase in wages, greater retirement security and more paid leave." The union also won victories toward hiring thousands of new workers and unionizing newer Electric Vehicle shops.

Then, we open the phones to our live Southern California listeners here at KPFK in Los Angeles, and, you'll be shocked to hear, they all wanted to discuss Israel-Hamas today. Again. So we do. I'll look forward to your thoughts on those conversations...

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Grim news in Maine, Acapulco and the U.S. House, followed by much better news in Colorado, Georgia, and for union workers of the UAW...
By Brad Friedman on 10/26/2023 6:54pm PT  

I promise, things get brighter after the first segment of today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

Among our stories, first grim, and then much less so, today...

  • We begin with the horrible news out of Lewiston, Maine, following Wednesday night's mass shootings that have, so far, resulted in 18 dead and another 13 wounded, with several still in critical condition. The state was largely shut down as of airtime, with a broad, statewide manhunt underway for the suspect who is alleged to have had serious mental health issues...but was still able to obtain a deadly, high-powered, military-style assault rifle for his rampage somehow, because...freedom!
  • Similarly grim news out of Acapulco, where a climate change-fueled Hurricane Otis experienced explosive intensification off the Pacific Coast this week, as it spun up from Tropical Storm to a catastrophic Category 5 in just twelve hours time. As of airtime, 27 were confirmed dead in Mexico, with searches underway for more missing as authorities struggle to clear major roads of knee-deep mud and restore power to the battered resort city and nearby villages.
  • All of that, amid what is likely to be the hottest year ever recorded, as Republicans in the U.S. House just elected a long-time climate science denier from the oil and gas state of Louisiana to be House Speaker. Rep. Mike Johnson received more money last year from the fossil fuel industry than any other. Since 2018, the far-right religious zealot has received some $240,000 from the industry. Some of it, as it turns out, came --- unlawfully --- from Russian oligarchs, according to FEC investigators last year.
  • IN BRIGHTER NEWS...A federal judge in Georgia has ordered the state's legislature to reconvene to redraw its Congressional and state legislative maps before 2024, after being found in violation of the Voting Rights Act. The state must now add new Black-majority voting districts to all three of its maps. The judge's 516-page(!) ruling [PDF] issued today, finds the Republican-controlled legislature drew new maps following the 2020 Census which completely ignored the fact that ALL of the state's population growth since 2010 has been among the non-white population. U.S. District Judge Steven Jones has ordered one new Black-majority Congressional district, two new districts in the state Senate, and five for the state House by December 8, or he would have the maps drawn himself.
  • More good news for U.S. Constitution lovers, this time in Colorado, where a state judge ruled on Wednesday that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, the "Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause", is self-executing. In other words, public officials who have "engaged in insurrection" are simply disqualified from running for public office, even without a federal law detailing precise enforcement of the provision. Donald Trump, whose qualifications for the 2024 Presidential ballot have been challenged in a state lawsuit, argued to the contrary. But he lost. Next week, a hearing will be held to determine if the former President "engaged in insurrection", as per the Constitutional Amendment. Similar challenges to Trump's eligibility for office are also pending in Michigan and Minnesota.
  • And good news for striking autoworkers, as the United Auto Workers union announced on Wednesday night that they reached a tentative agreement with Ford. The new four-year contract, if approved by workers, will boost base pay by at least 25%, increase starting hourly wages to $28/hour and includes a myriad of other benefits sought by the labor union. It is hoped that the agreement will also pressure management for a similar contract at the other two "Big Three" automakers, G.M. and Stellantis, where the UAW also began its walk-outs about six weeks ago. Chalk up yet another in a series of very big wins for organized labor over the past year!
  • Finally, both good news and bad, as usual, with Desi Doyen in our latest Green News Report. She has more on Hurricane Otis; more on our new climate denying U.S. House Speaker; More on Big Oil doubling down before the bottom falls out for the industry; and an encouraging projection from a normally very conservative international body for the beginning of the end of fossil fuels...

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Guest: Pulitzer Prize-winning business columnist Michael Hiltzik; Also: Otis becomes Cat 5 hurricane in 12 hours before slamming Acapulco...
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2023 6:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we cover, once again, the thoroughly corrupted "conservative" cabals in both the U.S. House and U.S. Supreme Court as they flex their ill-gotten powers.

But FIRST...on our Green News Report yesterday, we briefly referenced a storm named Otis in the Pacific as a "tropical storm" heading toward Mexico. It was set to be the fourth major storm in a month to slam its Pacific coast. We also happened to discuss a new study of recent hurricanes in the Atlantic, finding that warming waters due to climate change have increased the speed and strength, along with the rapid intensification, of such storms. That behavior, as it turns out, was on full display last night with Otis, which stunned meteorologists and public officials by spinning up from a tropical storm during yesterday's show to become a major Category 5 hurricane in less than 12 hours, before slamming into Acapulco.

With some one million residents and tourists in the resort city caught largely by surprise, we await news and hope for the best, as power and cell phone coverage has been down most of the day, and major roads are said to be unpassable in the region following the catastrophic storm. In addition to being the fourth major storm to slam the coast, it was also the most powerful ever. Acapulco has never seen higher than a Cat 1 hurricane --- until now.

NEXT...The dysfunctional U.S. House Republican majority was finally able to re-open Congress on Wednesday, after selecting a new House Speaker. It was their fourth try after moving to remove Kevin McCarthy more than three weeks ago. Last night the party nominated --- and crucially, today, actually elected on the House floor --- hard-right Louisiana Congressman Mike Johnson as their new leader.

Johnson is being described today as the "architect" of the GOP's attempt to block the certification of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory in 2020. He is a close all of Donald Trump; an ardent religious opponent of abortion rights, supporting jail time and "hard labor" for those who carry them out; he supports government restrictions on medical care for trans people; and opposes further aid to Ukraine to help defend democracy against imperialistic fascism.

In other words, he shares the same positions as Ohio's Jim Jordan --- whose Speakership was blocked by so-called Republican "moderates" last week --- only more so. Apparently, despite their claims, it wasn't Jordan's positions that those "moderates" objected to. It was the fact that Americans knew about them. The little-known Johnson shares no such baggage. So they're fine with him.

FINALLY...The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear another case in December ginned up by the billionaire-funded, rightwing legal mill that looks for --- or creates out of whole cloth --- aggrieved victims of tyrannical government laws and regulations. From fake website designers worried they may someday have to create a site for a same-sex couple, to red state attorneys general falsely claiming that loan agencies are suffering from President Biden's attempted student loan debt relief program, there seems to be an endless supply of "victims" that the industry is able to come up with to parade before the far-right SCOTUS supermajority that the same rightwing billionaires continue to lavish with luxury gifts, travel, and even just cash money.

But Moore v. United States goes even farther. Its proponents hope for a ruling from their friends on the High Court majority which might knee-cap a future progressive wealth tax, akin to the ones long-proposed by Senators like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Warren's proposal, for example, would add a 2% tax --- two cents of every dollar --- to those with an accrued wealth of more than $50 million. Currently, unrealized gains in the value of real estate portfolios, stocks and bonds, fine art, etc., are not taxed, even at death, allowing for heirs of the richest 0.1% to inherit and continue generational, dynastic fortunes of billions of dollars.

The wealthy can then borrow against those accumulated assets without ever having to cash them in, which would otherwise trigger a capital gains tax (at an already very low rate.) "That is a scam and a scandal," my guest tells me today. Taxing just a portion of that wealth would result in "trillions of dollars of revenue for the U.S. Treasury that could be captured just by instituting a small percentage wealth tax on the richest families [with] more than $50 million in assets." That revenue could then be used for universal childcare, healthcare, education, and pretty much everything else that Republicans like to claim that America is just too broke to be able to afford.

So how will the Supreme Court be able to kill a still non-existent "wealth tax", when the Constitution and long-standing precedent prevents it from issuing advisory rulings on issues that aren't currently resulting in actual harm to any victims?

We're joined today by the L.A. Times' Pulitzer Prize-winning business columnist, investigative journalist and author MICHAEL HILTZIK to explain. He argues the case "stinks to high heaven," citing opponents of this case who charge that the GOP billionaire patrons of Justices Sam Alito and Clarence Thomas "have their fingerprints all over this case."

"The miasma of corruption really is laid all over this case," asserts Hiltzik. "I think it's one of the reasons that legal scholars who are watching this are very concerned that, once again, the Supreme Court's conservative majority is going to step out of its proper limited role, and essentially legislate" from the bench. "When the Supreme Court, or any federal court, actually rules on something that is not a real case or controversy, then almost by definition they are making new law, they are legislating. That is something under the Constitution that they are not supposed to do."

As Hiltzik notes, we are now seeing more and more of that from this corrupted Court. So, how can it possibly be stopped at this point? Hiltzik, who has written best-selling books about FDR's New Deal and the robber barons who originally corrupted the entire system, has some ideas on that today that as well...

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Nothing but tough breaks for Trump in GA, NY, D.C. and CO courtrooms; Also: House GOP selects new Speaker nominee...he quits hours later...
By Brad Friedman on 10/24/2023 6:20pm PT  

A bad day in court for the former President is a good day for America and democracy. Happily, as reported on today's BradCast, it was a very bad day for the former President. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Rudy Giuliani's attempted election theft sidekick, rightwing media darling, accomplished liar and opportunistically Christian Trump attorney Jenna Ellis offered a teary apology-ish in an Atlanta courtroom today, as she threw Rudy under the bus and pretended to be contrite for helping him and Donald Trump try to steal the 2020 election in Georgia.

Ellis was allowed to plead guilty to a single felony charge (she was originally charged with two) in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis' sprawling racketeering conspiracy indictment [PDF] against Trump and 18 co-defendants. She will receive no jailtime if she follows the terms of her plea deal and cooperates with prosecutors against her fellow co-defendants, which include Trump, Giuliani, Mark Meadows, John Eastman and others.

The manipulative Ms. Ellis (pictured above either crying or smiling following her remarks to the judge on Tuesday) boasted just last month about raising more than $200,000 for her legal defense in the case, which she characterized as "the criminalization of the practice of law" by a "weaponized government."

On Tuesday, however, she suddenly decided to claim "deep remorse" and that she should have made sure "that the facts the other lawyers alleged to be true were in fact true." She told the judge through her tears: "I believe in and I value election integrity. If I knew then what I know now, I would have declined to represent Donald Trump in these post-election challenges."

And you shouldn't believe her for a second, as discussed today. Ellis is the fourth co-defendant to plead guilty in Willis' case, and the third attorney to do so after Sidney Powell and Ken Chesebro last week. To date, all have avoided any jail time...as we discuss as well.

Elsewhere, on a very Trumpy news day (sorry, not sorry)...

  • Moments before midnight last night, at the deadline for pre-trial motions, Trump filed a flurry of desperate pleadings in the felony indictment case against him by Special Counsel Jack Smith in federal court in D.C. for efforts related to his attempt to steal the 2020 election, including the January 6 insurrection. TPM's David Kurtz has an excellent quick round-up of the filings; former U.S. Attorney Barb McQuade characterizes them as "all losers"; and our friend Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel offers the shortest, sharpest round-up of the pleadings which appear destined to fail miserably.
  • In a New York state courtroom on Tuesday, where Trump, his company and his two eldest sons face the loss of their fraudulent business empire in Attorney General Letitia James' civil case against him, Trump's former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen testified --- as Trump glowered from the defense table --- that, when he worked for the Trump Organization he was "tasked by Mr. Trump" to inflate the value of company assets to "whatever number Trump told us." The judge in the case has already found Trump et al guilty on the key fraud claims brought by James. Several other issues and the final size of the judgement against the defendants remain at stake. Also, the question of whether Trump and his attorneys will be sickened by COVID again.
  • In Congress, Republicans in the U.S. House spent the last two days selecting their newest Speaker Designate after moving to fire Kevin McCarthy three weeks ago. On Tuesday, after five rounds of voting in a close-door conference meeting, House Republicans selected Majority Whip Tom Emmer (MN). A few hours later, after being attacked by Trump, Emmer --- following in the footsteps of Steve Scalise and Jim Jordan before him over the past two weeks --- dropped out of the running. And we're back to square one with no Speaker and a House that is unable to do any business until the GOP can grow up and govern before next month's deadline for a full government shutdown.
  • And, in one more Trump-related story from Friday. A state judge in Colorado rejected three different attempts by the disgraced former President to dismiss a lawsuit charging that he is ineligible to appear on the state's ballot next year under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, the "Insurrection Disqualification Clause". The filings from both Trump and the Colorado GOP were all but laughed out of court by the judge. The trial in the matter begins in state court next week!
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report. The good news: Trump's name doesn't come up. The bad news: Pretty much everything in our latest Green News Report...

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Guest: Author, researcher Lee McIntyre; Also: Latest on Israel-Hamas and GOP House debacle; 'New Yorker' confirms GA Sec. of State delayed criminal probe of Team Trump's Coffee County voting system breach...
By Brad Friedman on 10/23/2023 6:46pm PT  

More voices over "the information superhighway" was supposed to make it easier for the public to discern fact from fiction. As discuss on today's BradCast, it seems to have done the exact opposite. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Two hot wars in both Israel and Ukraine, a still-simmering pandemic, a worsening climate crisis, the takeover of Twitter by a disgruntled rightwing billionaire, and a "master propagandist" running again for President of the United States, have all combined into a "perfect storm" of disinformation, my guest today explains.

We're joined by Boston University research fellow and best-selling author LEE MCINTYRE, author of 2018's Post-Truth, 2021's How to Talk to a Science Denier, and the just-published On Disinformation: How to Fight for Truth and Protect Democracy.

He's here today to help us understand the difference between misinformation and disinformation; to discuss which is worse; and what, if anything, can be done about any of it. In short, as he explains, "Misinformation is an accident. Disinformation is a lie." For example, the New York Times' (and others') coverage of the deadly explosion at a hospital in Gaza City last week, which now appears to have been caused by an errant rocket fired by a Palestinian militant group, was misinformation when the Times reported it as having been caused by an Israeli airstrike in the immediate aftermath. The misleading reportage might have originated, however, as disinformation from Hamas sources, whose allegations the Times --- as they finally conceded today --- was not properly vetted before being used to drive traffic to its website.

McIntyre also focuses on the danger that social media sites like Twitter/X now pose to democracy and the world, particularly since its takeover by Elon Musk, his blowing up of the previously helpful blue-check "verified" system which helped users distinguish legitimate sources from fakes, and his removal of most of the company's trust, safety, and information moderation team.

He details how disinformation also serves the dual purpose of not just forwarding false information on any particular issue --- like the war in the Middle East or denial of the efficacy of COVID vaccines, our climate crisis, or democratic elections --- but also collapses trust in all verified information and news sources. "Through polarization and the raising of mistrust and distrust, one message that comes through with disinformation is, 'Maybe we can't even know the truth. How do we know? Is everybody biased?' Because in that situation, you might give up on the idea of truth. That paves the way for authoritarianism."

Among the other points we discuss with McIntyre today...

  • How disinformation is now flourishing under Musk on Twitter/X and at competing sites like Mark Zuckerberg's Threads.
  • How we are all victims of whatever algorithms people like Musk and Zuckerberg may wish to put in place to determine what information we see...and don't.
  • How to walk the difficult line between content moderation and censorship, whether its via mainstream press outlets or social networking sites.
  • How "master propagandist" Donald Trump has created a career and an industry out of disinformation which now threatens the veracity of the 2024 elections.
  • How repetition works for both spreading lies and reporting the truth.
  • How to fight back against our "perfect storm of more disinformation, less content moderation, and fewer safeguards."

"I wrote my book because I want people to understand there's a way to fight back against this," McIntyre tells me. "You don't just have to believe the first media accounts. There's a way to be critical, a way to be skeptical, but also a way to push back against social media, push back against cable news, and even the government, to try to make them better and more responsible in how they fight disinformation."

ALSO TODAY...

  • The latest on the Israel-Hamas war, including the release of two more hostages from Gaza on Monday and the Biden Administration's reported efforts to try and forestall Israel's planned ground invasion of Gaza to allow for the release of hostages and foreign nationals and the delivery of humanitarian aid.
  • The latest on the continuing embarrassment of the GOP U.S. House's failure to elect a Speaker and re-open Congress.
  • The latest in the Georgia RICO case against Trump and his alleged co-conspirators for trying to steal the 2020 election in the Peach State. Following guilty pleas last week by Trump attorneys Sidney Powell and Ken Chesebro, the New Yorker's Charles Betha and Sue Halpern reported on the 400-page Georgia Bureau of Investigations' probe of Team Trump's Coffee County voting system breach. It appears to confirm our repeated reporting over the past year that GA's Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger was instrumental in delaying, if not obstructing, the GBI's criminal investigation of the theft and distribution of Georgia's statewide voting system software [emphasis mine]...
    On January 7, 2021, the day after a right-wing mob stormed the Capitol building, several people paid a visit to the Coffee County elections office. A year and a half later, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation began formally looking into allegations that “computer trespass” had taken place that day. The delay seems to have been due to resistance from the Georgia secretary of state’s office, which, for months, denied that a breach had occurred.

    Whaddaya know?...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Election security expert Susan Greenhalgh, who helped expose the plot; Also: Still no speaker in wholly dysfunctional GOP House...
By Brad Friedman on 10/19/2023 6:36pm PT  

That's two. And this is a big one, as discussed on today's BradCast with someone who helped make it happen. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Former Trump attorney Sidney Powell pleaded guilty in Fulton County, Georgia today. She was the second of 19 co-defendants to do so in District Attorney Fani Willis' sprawling racketeering indictment [PDF] against Donald Trump and his alleged co-conspirators who tried, but failed, to steal the 2020 Presidential election in the Peach State.

Powell is, perhaps, most notorious for her so-called "Kraken" lawsuits filed after 2020, which she promised would expose evidence of massive Democratic fraud in several states. Her suits includes no such evidence and were all quickly dismissed. Her claims, for example, that dead Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was somehow involved in stealing the election with voting machines --- in which Powell bastardized and misused some of my own accurate exclusive reporting on Dominion Voting Systems circa 2010 --- all turned out to be false.

But, as our guest today helped reveal earlier this year, Powell also organized and paid for a scheme to breach proprietary statewide voting system software in Coffee County, unlawfully make copies of it and distribute it across the Internet to sources still unknown. She was indicted by Willis on 7 felony counts related to that plot and, today, pleaded guilty to 6 misdemeanor charges that would keep her out of jail and on probation for 6 years, with the requirement that she cooperate fully with prosecutors and testify truthfully against her 17 remaining co-defendants still facing felony charges. Scott Hall, an Atlanta bail bondsman who initially confessed to the plot in Coffee County during a recorded phone call to frequent BradCast guest Marilyn Marks, as first aired on this program, pleaded guilty earlier this month and is also cooperating with prosecutors as part of his plea deal.

We're joined today for both a bit of a victory lap and a very serious warning by SUSAN GREENHALGH, longtime election integrity expert and Senior Advisor on Election Security at the non-partisan Free Speech for People. With Marks, whose Coalition for Good Governance has a long-running lawsuit against GA Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger, seeking to replace the state's touchscreen voting machines with hand-marked paper ballots, Greenhalgh helped reveal that the plot to breach the voting systems in GA was actually part of a broader, multi-state conspiracy hatched during an infamous December 18, 2020 meeting with Trump in the Oval Office. In addition to Powell, co-defendant Rudy Giuliani, disgraced former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and others on Team MAGA were there that night, hoping that Trump would issue an Executive Order for the military to seize the nation's voting machines. Instead, they settled on the Coffee County scheme and others like it in several other states.

"We know that [Powell's] been involved in voting system software breaches in other states, like in Michigan," Greenhalgh explains today. "But Sidney hasn't been charged there. It's important to keep in mind that this was a networked, coordinated, multi-pronged plan to get access to voting systems in multiple states that she was a part of, and she really shouldn't escape responsibility for her role in those alleged criminal activities in other states."

Greenhalgh recently co-wrote a piece at Slate, calling on the U.S. Justice Department to launch a probe into the multi-state scheme which, she explains today, still poses a very serious threat to the 2024 elections. "Suppose there was a plutonium laboratory that had a robbery, and your local police prosecuted the thieves and the people that let them in. You wouldn't expect them to stop there. You'd expect the feds to go out and find out who got the plutonium and what was the plan to do with it. That's the kind of investigation that we need right now."

For today, at least, the guilty plea by Powell was good news. Marks called it "eminently important...for raising public awareness of the seriousness of the offense that puts Georgia’s 2024 elections at risk because Powell’s team released Georgia’s software into the wild."

As we've discussed with Marks on the program many times, however, Raffensperger has taken no action and has arguably helped cover up the Coffee County breach from the jump. "While Georgia’s Secretary of State has turned a blind eye and declined to either investigate or mitigate this massive security failure," Marks said in a statement today, "at least DA Willis is holding some of the ring leaders accountable in ways that will certainly expose other actors’ wrongdoing in this unlawful attempt to subvert the 2020 election."

For her part, Greenhalgh says today that, though she "was surprised at how lenient the deal is", she is hoping that Powell's guilty plea is "really going to bring the goods" on the multi-state plot and, of course, the involvement of higher-ups in the food chain like Trump and Giuliani.

Greenhalgh encourages listeners to contact their members of Congress to insist they take action on the ongoing threats posed to our voting systems by the breaches in Coffee County and elsewhere before 2024.

Given the mind-blowing and ongoing dysfunction in the GOP-run U.S. House right now, however, amid the Republican Party's continuing inability to choose a Speaker --- as we also discuss on today's show --- it's unlikely that there will be any kind of hearings or anything else there for quite some time.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with bad news for snow crab fans; a decades-long scheme by the natural gas industry to cover-up health concerns about gas stoves; and some potentially encouraging news regarding both solar energy and U.S. climate goals...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Rich Logis on his escape from years in the 'cult' of Trump; Also: Biden in Israel; House GOP fails again to elect Jordan as Speaker...
By Brad Friedman on 10/18/2023 7:05pm PT  

I hope you'll tune in for my fascinating, informative conversation on today's BradCast with a man who spent years as a self-identified "Ultra-MAGA" --- he voted in both 2016 and 2020 for Trump and had more than a dozen Trump hats and shirts to prove it. He is now working to rebuild his life after finally escaping the "cult" to become what he describes as a "born-again human being". [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, however, the latest news from the Israel-Hamas war and the ongoing humanitarian disaster in Gaza, including Biden's trip to Israel and his warning about mistakes made by the U.S. when reacting out of rage following 9/11. There is also encouraging news today that Israel and Egypt will allow some 20 truckloads of desperately needed humanitarian aid into Gaza, following the bombing of a hospital on Tuesday which Israel claims to be the work of a terrorist group allied with Hamas. Both dispute the evidence presented by Israel, who they blame for the tragedy that took hundreds of civilian lives.

Also, in his remarks from Tel Aviv, the President announced the U.S. will be sending some $100 million in humanitarian aid to Gaza, which presumably he will discuss more in a prime-time Oval Office address now set for Thursday night. It's unclear whether that money is already available to the White House or whether Congress will be needed to allocate it. If so, it may take a while...

The House GOP failed yet again on Wednesday to elect a new Speaker after deposing their previous one two weeks ago. In this week's second try, Ohio Republican Jim Jordan received even more GOP votes against him than he did on the first ballot on Tuesday. The House remains all but shut down now until Republicans can agree on a new Speaker or until Democrats decide to save them again. That is apparently becoming more of a possibility with each passing hour as the mess continues and as a government shutdown looms on November 17.

None of this comes as a surprise to those of us who have covered --- and have been warning about --- the Republican Party's long descent into madness and chaos over the years. It didn't begin with Trump by a long shot, but the manipulation by the narcissistic egomaniac and the rightwing media outlets which fostered it have left millions of otherwise well-meaning Americans in the MAGA lurch, as our guest today details.

RICH LOGIS was formerly a rightwing pundit and dyed-in-the-wool Trumper. He even wrote for the The Federalist Society. As he recently explained in Newsweek, he was a "four-time Donald Trump voter (twice in the primaries, and twice in the general elections)" and voted for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in both the primary and general election in 2018. "And I am here to tell you that I was wrong about all of it," he now concedes.

Today he joins us on the program to explain both how he was sucked into MAGA World before the 2016 election and what it finally took to shake him out of it in 2021, after years of damage that his obsession with Trump caused to both his family and friendships.

As a reformed "Ultra-MAGA," Logis tells me today that, as I was introducing my conversation with him, he was "thinking to myself, I cannot believe that I actually thought so much of that."

In short --- and none of this will do it justice, so please tune in to listen to our conversation --- his "skepticism of the two-party system" was the initial reason he was attracted to Trump. He notes that he says "none of this as a self defense," but being drawn in he allowed himself "to be influenced by many others, which is why that rabbit hole kept getting deeper and deeper for me as I stayed in MAGA."

He describes the "really toxic, perfect storm and amalgam of factors" that initially sucked him in. "It was a confluence of factors that all aligned themselves --- between Trump being brash, not giving a you-know-what, my dislike of the two-party system, those I was around who were influencing me --- and I came to conclude, and I know that it's going to really sound illogical, the more and more that I was around others who were in the MAGA world, in the rightwing world, the more I came to conclude that the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton needed to be stopped. Because, if they won the election, they would never lose another election ever again. And anyone who was not a Democrat was going to be rendered irrelevant in their own country. If someone really believes that, as I genuinely believed that, that person will support anyone or anything."

Logis, as you'll hear, is anything but an uneducated rube. So how could he fall victim to what he now describes as "a cult"? He tells me that "when I woke up in the morning, I thought about MAGA. I went through my day thinking about MAGA. I went to bed thinking about MAGA. God knows I probably dreamt about MAGA. And then I got up the next day and did it all over again. It was all-consuming for me. And the more I was involved in the MAGA world, the more I came to see, and believe and conclude, that I and we in MAGA were on the correct side of history, and everybody else was on the wrong side of history."

In 2021, however, as DeSantis took a right turn regarding COVID, something began to give way for Logis, as you will hear him detail, along with how he was finally able to crawl his way out of the rabbit hole.

"One of the strategies I enacted, which is so simple," he explains, "I began to diversify my information sources. I lowered the defense mechanism of the black-and-white world of MAGA, which was that everything in the national press is out to get us. I started to realize, and very painfully, that so many of the rightwing mythologies that I believed, were actually the exact opposite. The Democrats were not coming for our guns. They were not trying to replace white people. They were not trying to render anyone who was a Republican or a conservative irrelevant in their own nation."

There is much more, of course, as discussed. But Logis has, since becoming a "born-again human being," formed Perfect Our Union, "an organization dedicated to healing political traumatization" and "building diverse, pro-democracy alliances" and writes for many outlets, including progressive ones like Daily Kos, where he is known as "@Leaving MAGA".

He offers advice today on how to approach your own friends and family members who may be similarly brainwashed by the MAGA cult, and explains that while he is now a registered independent, he plans to vote for Democrats for the foreseeable future because "MAGA must be electorally defeated."

"The Republican Party is a party in name only. They are a MAGA Party. That is a party that must be electorally mercy-killed so we can then enable responsible Republicans to think about how they're going to come back and rebuild that Republican Party."

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: One step forward, two steps back in Gaza; No steps forward in GOP House Speaker debacle...
By Brad Friedman on 10/17/2023 6:43pm PT  

Global chaos continues today on The BradCast, in Gaza, in elections around the world, in the U.S. House and, of course, for our worsening climate crisis. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Our coverage today includes...

  • ISRAEL V. HAMAS: Some encouraging news last night, after an apparent diplomatic breakthrough on opening up the Gaza Strip to humanitarian aid seemed possible following days of shuttle diplomacy by U.S. Sec. of State Antony Blinken and some nine hours of marathon negotiations with Israel's P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu. The effort, reportedly at the direction of President Biden, resulted in the announcement that he would be visiting Tel Aviv on Wednesday --- a first for a U.S. President during war time --- for a meeting with Netanyahu, followed by meetings with the leaders of Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority in Jordan. The last part of that encouraging news may have begun to disintegrate with the late Tuesday bombing of a hospital in Gaza, said to have killed hundreds of civilians, including women and children. Hamas blames Israel. Israel blames Hamas. The innocent people of Gaza pay the price.
  • DEMOCRACY V. AUTOCRACY: There were elections both in the U.S. and several nations around the world over the weekend. In three of the four cases --- Louisiana, Ecuador and New Zealand --- the news was not good for small "d" democrats (or capital "D" democrats in Louisiana), as voters chose rightwingers to displace progressives (or conservative Democrats in Louisiana). But don't forget about Poland! There the news was far better in a nation which has had a front-row seat to the existential battle against fascism, as it borders both democratic Ukraine and Vladimir Putin's authoritarian Russia. Polish voters, in record numbers, voted out the ruling far-right party in favor of opposition centrist and progressive parties led by former EU President Donald Tusk. Good news indeed in perhaps the weekend's most important election.
  • U.S. HOUSE CHAOS: After winning his party's nomination to become House Speaker last week, election denialist and far-right Ohio Republican Jim Jordan was unable to win the 217 vote majority from his own caucus in the first round of voting on the House floor on Tuesday after GOP hard-liners deposed former Speaker Kevin McCarthy two weeks ago, and then refused to support the winner of the private caucus election that nominated Steve Scalise last week. Republicans no longer recognize elections as valid, unless they win them. As TPM's Josh Marshall recently wrote, regarding the election denialism Republicans invented to try and steal elections from Democrats in 2020, "It’s like the virus had escaped the lab. It wasn’t just Freedom Caucus weirdos anymore. It's now treated as a given that caucus elections are purely advisory or essentially meaningless." Or, as TAP's David Dayen quipped last week, while asserting that the internecine House GOP chaos "could really go on indefinitely" and that the lack of a House Speaker actually matters to millions of Americans (including you this Thanksgiving), "In the Future, Everyone Will Be Speaker for 15 Minutes."
  • CLIMATE REALITY AND LIES: Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as the Mississippi River hits records lows amid drought, along with rivers in the Brazilian Amazon Basin; Exxon Mobil makes a huge investment to expand its deadly fossil fuel production, even as climate change ravages bees, beer, coffee and chocolate; and years-long GOP lies about China taking no action on climate change are exposed as lies yet again...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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