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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, August 19, 2022
Electric Trucks; Election Recounts; Weisselberg 'Guilty'; Mar-a-Lago Affidavit: 'BradCast' 8/18/22
Making sense (or trying to) of everything, everywhere, all at once...
'Green News Report' 8/18/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Landmark climate bill now law of the land without a single Republican vote; Unpreced-ented water woes in Western states; PLUS: MA Guv signs sweeping climate and energy bill...
Recent GNRs: 8/16/22 - 8/11/22 - Archives...
'Emptywheel' on Trump, Espionage and the FBI Seizure of Stolen NatSec Docs at Mar-a-Lago: 'BradCast' 8/17/22
Guest: Marcy Wheeler; Also: WY's Cheney out; AK's Palin awaits RCV count in House race...
'Green News Report' 8/16/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Landmark $370B climate bill passes House, Prez to sign; Scientists find trees growing in rapidly warming Arctic; PLUS: 'Extreme heat belt' coming to 100M Americans, study warns...
Recent GNRs: 8/11/22 - 8/9/22 - Archives...
Trump's Continuing Crimes and Consequences:
'BradCast' 8/15/22
Fallout from retrieval of stolen, classified docs at Mar-a-Lago; Also: 'Unprecedented' FBI threats; Giuliani now a 'target', Graham must testify in GA 2020 theft probe; Callers ring in...
Sunday 'A Fifth of Outrage' Toons
We've got nothing to say about PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons that wouldn't incriminate us...
Before FBI Search, Grand Jury Subpoenaed NatSec Docs Trump Stole from WH: 'BradCast' 8/11/22
RW political violence after Trump's Mar-a-Lago lies; Also: Midterms trend toward Dems...
'Green News Report' 8/11/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
South Korea latest victim of deadly flash floods; Repub state treasurers coordinate to block climate action by private companies; PLUS: Mexico emergency over drought protests...
Recent GNRs: 8/9/22 - 8/4/22 - Archives...
'If You're Innocent, Why Are You Taking the Fifth?' Great Question!: 'BradCast' 8/10/22
Guest: Former Asst. U.S. Attorney, Randall D. Eliason; Also: Inflation slowing?; Noteworthy primary results from CT, MN, VT, WI (and WA)
What We Know (& Don't) About the FBI Search at Mar-a-Lago: 'BradCast' 8/9/22
Also: Late AZ, WA primary results; MI's GOP A.G. nominee facing criminal probe; Federal judges approve release of Trump taxes...
'Green News Report' 8/9/22
GNR Special Coverage: U.S. Senate Democrats pass landmark climate legislation, the first in U.S. history...
Pennsylvania's Supreme Court Rejects Yet Another GOP Challenge to Absentee Voting
Ruling is good news for democracy and, perhaps, state Democrats...
Sunday 'Woke' Toons!
Wake up and smell PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons!...
'Green News Report' 8/4/22
Back-to-back storms show U.S. not ready for impacts; Climate change raising humidity; Big biz targets Dem climate bill; PLUS: Nat'l EV charging network begins...
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...


Guest host Nicole Sandler with Emptywheel's Marcy Wheeler...
By Nicole Sandler on 2/25/2022 4:07pm PT  

It's Nicole Sandler, back for another day guest hosting the BradCast. Friday was another brutal day of war perpetrated by Vladimir Putin on the people of Ukraine. It's unfathomable that this is happening. There's coverage of it everywhere, so I thought that today, we'd focus on the rest of the news.

Well, obviously not all of it... but there were three areas I wanted to talk with the always brilliant MARCY WHEELER about. Marcy is an independent journalist who focuses on matters of national security and civil liberties at her own Emptywheel blog.

I spoke with her on Monday, Presidents' Day, which was a few days before Putin invaded Ukraine. Nevertheless, her thoughts on what brought us to that point are interesting, as she weaves all the threads together...

The first of the three areas she enlightened on was filing by Bill Barr-appointed Special Counsel John Durham, which Fox not-News covered ad nauseum for days, criticizing the responsible media for not reporting on it...until Fox themselves suddenly stopped talking about it.

Second, the progress being made on the Jan 6 insurrectionists prosecutions and House Select Committee investigation.

And, of course, Russia/Ukraine.

Marcy spends most of the hour with us, for which I am very grateful. Listen and be informed...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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The world protests, sanctions and rallies against Russia's unprovoked, 'barbaric', full-scale assault against sovereign Ukraine...
By Brad Friedman on 2/24/2022 6:17pm PT  

Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin falsely and repeatedly vowed that Russia had no intention or plan to invade Ukraine. Anyone who said otherwise was simply being "hysterical". As it turns out, those were all deadly lies, as we cover in detail on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

On Thursday, the unhinged Russian President Putin unleashed a brutal attack on the sovereign nation of Ukraine. Not just its eastern border region with Russia, but against the entire country, which is now under assault from the North, East and South. Putin chose the most aggressive possible option. The nation of Belarus joined him. There is nothing justifiable about his attack.

Before unleashing the assault, Putin offered this chilling warning: "Whoever tries to impede us, let alone create threats for our country and its people, must know that the Russian response will be immediate and lead to the consequences you have never seen in history.”

As we report today, from a myriad of legitimate and verified sources, thousands were arrested in Russia on Thursday for protesting in at least 52 cities against Putin's unprovoked war against its neighboring nation. The largest protests were in Moscow and in St. Petersburg.

Hundreds of Ukrainians have already been killed and injured in the attack over the past 24 hours, according to preliminary figures from Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday.

The world has begun to speak, largely in unison, against the hostility they described as "barbaric", by instituting severe sanctions against Russian banks and oligarchs and their family members.

President Biden explained the latest U.S. response today at the White House, ramping up previous sanctions. We share his clear-eyed remarks during today's program. He charged, in no uncertain terms, that "Putin is the aggressor" who "chose this war and will bear the consequences," while reiterating that U.S. forces will not be deployed to Ukraine. The U.S. President described Russia's actions as being "about naked aggression, about Putin’s desire for empire by any means necessary --- by bullying Russia’s neighbors through coercion and corruption, by changing borders by force, and, ultimately, by choosing a war without a cause." He asserted that "Putin's aggression against Ukraine will end up costing Russia dearly — economically and strategically" before concluding: "And in the contest between democracy and autocracy, between sovereignty and subjugation, make no mistake: Freedom will prevail."

But this is now an exceedingly dangerous tinderbox for the world.

We also share a number of other related events amid the new fog of a brutal new war, including an attempt by the Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.N. last night to call out the U.N. Security Council for allowing the Russian Federation, in 1991, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, to take over the permanent seat (and veto power) of the USSR on the Security Council without being properly certified under U.N. charters.

There is much more on today's program as we try to pull together many disparate threads and make some sense of all of this otherwise senseless violence by Vladimir Putin.

No, none of this was called for, despite what we have previously reported regarding various missteps taken by both the U.S. and NATO over the years.

We oppose Russian aggression, just as we oppose U.S. aggression. Today, it is Russia that has decided, to its shame, to become the aggressor in Europe.

Finally, we close today with our latest Green News Report, as Russia's war on Ukraine spikes global oil prices, along with recent moves by the U.S. fracking industry to curtail production in order to squeeze supply and increase their own profits. That, and much more on today's GNR...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Author, journalist John Judis of TPM with 'A Dissenting View of US Policy toward Russia'; Also: Latest news on Ukraine; Good news on redistricting in PA, OH; Bad news for Trump criminal probe in NY?...
By Brad Friedman on 2/23/2022 5:48pm PT  

The bad news for democracy continues overseas on today's BradCast, but there is at least a bit of better news on that front back here at home. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

FIRST UP, the latest on the crisis in Eastern Europe: Ukraine declares a nationwide state of emergency; Russian troops are said to be "as ready as they can be" and "literally ready to go now, if they get the order to go," according to U.S. officials; Nancy Pelosi describes the Russia's aggression as "an attack on democracy'; China's U.N. ambassador seeks a diplomatic and peaceful solution for "safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states"; And a new AP polls finds little support among Americans for a "major role in the conflict" (though a "minor" one is much more popular.)

THEN, with that grim news for democracy overseas, some slightly better news back home. The GOP majority on the Ohio Redistricting Committee has, apparently, given up in their attempt to draw state legislative and U.S. House maps that they can live with and which meet the new requirements of both the state constitution and state Supreme Court. What that means for the future of those maps, with primary election deadlines drawing near in a close-divided if GOP-leaning state, is currently unknown. But it's likely not good new for Republicans who had hoped to continue their extreme gerrymanders of the past 10 years.

In the critical swing-state of Pennsylvania some (almost) unambiguously good news along these lines. After a standoff between the commonwealth's GOP state legislature and Democratic Governor, today PA's Supreme Court has selected a map to be used that is supported by Democrats, voting rights advocates and is seen as fair by political analysts, according to the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. The new map will combine two currently Republican U.S. House districts into one, to make up for PA's loss of a House seat following the 2020 census. That said, there is still an existing federal lawsuit against the new maps filed by a number of Republicans. And with the GOP's packed federal courts, anything could happen these days.

NEXT, it's back to Ukraine. Or, at least, U.S. foreign policy in Russia and Ukraine which our guest today, JOHN JUDIS, argues has helped lead to this moment of crisis and potential war for many years, not unlike other failures of U.S. foreign policy where America has failed to play the long game.

Judis is a journalist, author and Editor-at-Large for Talking Points Memo after spending two and a half decades at The New Republic. His latest book (his eighth), is The Politics of Our Time: Populism, Nationalism, and Socialism and his latest piece for TPM, which we discuss in detail today, is "A Dissenting View of US Policy toward Russia".

He details how the latest mess in Ukraine begins way back in the late 80s and early 90s and, like a number of similar U.S. foreign policy failures in recent decades, was based on the misguided theory "that as you become more capitalist, you become more democratic. This was an entirely abstract notion, not borne out by any particular experience, but more by a kind of millennial dream that Americans have had of a world transformation, of making the world like us. And it backfired."

Judis, who notes in his TPM piece that he both opposes Putin's "decision to dismember Ukraine" and supports "placing sanctions on Russia," nonetheless cites China, Iraq and now Russia/Ukraine in our conversation today as case studies where "we sort of get into these things willy-nilly. Where we start off, we're going to make things better and we end up with a big war."

Among the many related topics we delve into here: America's broken promise to prevent NATO from moving east toward Russia after the end of the Cold War; Putin's "designs on expansion" and whether expansion of NATO is really what's triggering him; Or is it fear of a prosperous democracy next door in a former Soviet state?; What was the real U.S. interest in the expansion of NATO? Was it security or a money machine for the arms industry?; And why has the U.S. so consistently failed to play the "long ball" game in so many of its foreign policy gambits?; Is declaring neutrality for Ukraine the best way out of this mess?; And why did Judis find it necessary to put forward a "dissenting view" to so many of the "foreign policy establishment types" receiving much of the airtime on American media outlets, arguing only on "a very narrow, tactical basis"?

As Desi notes after the discussion, you'll get a broad "history lesson" along with much more in today's conversation with Judis.

FINALLY, bad news in New York? It sure seems like it today. The New York Times broke the news this afternoon that the two lead prosecutor in the Manhattan D.A.'s criminal investigation of Donald Trump and his company have abruptly resigned. That, after a monthlong pause in what had previously been an accelerating investigation last month, and after the new D.A., Alvin Bragg, finally got fully up to speed after succeeding Cyrus Vance, Jr. at the end of last year. The Times reports that Bragg reportedly has "doubts about moving forward with a case against Mr. Trump." The new D.A.'s office, however, says that the investigation remains ongoing. There is still much unknown here, but the civil probe by NY's state Attorney General Letitia James, looking into many of the same alleged bank, tax and insurance fraud schemes by Trump and his company, continues to power forward, as does another lesser discussed criminal probe by the D.A. in New York's Westchester County...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Grace Chimene, President, TX League of Women Voters on alarming mid-term primary ballot rejection rate; Also: Biden announces 'first tranche' of Russian sanctions in response to 'invasion'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/22/2022 6:22pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The greatest threat to autocracy is, of course, democracy. Which is why, I believe, Vladimir Putin is now threatening Ukraine and why Republicans in this country are (successfully) attacking the right to vote itself. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

On Ukraine today, we share the latest in the increasingly dangerous standoff that threatens to spark all out war in Eastern Europe, unlike anything seen since WWII. That, on the heels of Putin's increasingly militaristic and bellicose pronouncements and his unilateral declaration on Monday that two Russia-backed, separatist-controlled regions in the eastern part of Ukraine are now independent "republics" that Russian troops may enter (invade) at will, in defiance of international law.

In response to the increased aggression, and in hopes of staving off a full-scale invasion, the U.S. and some 27 European Union members have begun to institute a series of sanctions, including Germany's announcement that they are halting certification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, a lucrative project for Russia which they had spent years working to open.

In Washington today, President Biden offered brief remarks which we share, decrying the Russian President for "carving out a big chunk of Ukraine" in defiance of international law, even as Biden remains hopeful that diplomacy is still possible. At the same time, however, he announced what he described as the "first tranche" of economic sanctions against Russian financial institutions, as well as several elites and their family members, with much more to come if a full scale invasion is launched.

There is, of course, much discussion and debate about all of this, with experts and pundits choosing up sides and offering explanations for Putin's behavior. The U.S. and EU and NATO certainly play a part in this potentially lethal failure of post-WWII, post-Cold War European diplomacy. But the point for now that rings most true, at least to me, was cited today by the WaPo Editorial Board arguing that Putin's "true reason for targeting Ukraine is not Russian national security but to preserve his own power in Moscow, which would be threatened by a successful democratic experiment in a former Soviet republic of Ukraine’s size and cultural importance."

Yes, authoritarians hate democracy. It's as simple as that. Which is why we've seen, in this country of late, so many voter suppression laws adopted by GOP-controlled states in the wake of Donald Trump's loss in 2020 and his false, evidence-free claims that the election was stolen from him through some sort of "fraud".

We've covered --- and warned about --- the many new voting restrictions adopted by Republican-controlled states and legislatures since 2020 for months. Now we are finally seeing how those new suppression laws are having a direct and disastrous effect on actual elections, beginning with Texas, which is the first state to hold its primaries for the 2022 mid-terms, next Tuesday.

With new restrictions on absentee voting --- in one of the most difficult states to vote by mail already! --- an extraordinarily high percentage of absentee ballot applications have been rejected in recent weeks in the state's most populous counties. Many of the rejected applications --- more than 30% in Houston's Harris County --- were due to the new, and at times impossible, requirements to include identifying information that exactly matches that on the voter's record, even if they registered to vote decades ago and have no clue whether they included a drivers license number or a social security number or no number at all at the time.

But of those who are able to finally get an absentee ballot, the rejection rates, so far, of actual ballots in advance of next week's Election Day are stunning. 35% of ballots are being rejected in Harris County, the state's most populous (and most African-American); 26% of mail-in ballots in Dallas County; and 25% of ballots are being nixed in Collins County, just north of Dallas.

We're joined today by GRACE CHIMENE, President of the League of Women Voters of Texas, to explain what is going on in the Lone Star State; why it's going on; whether Republicans (whose voters are also being suppressed, if not in as large numbers) have any concerns about what is going on; and what, if anything, can be done about any of it in time for next Tuesday or, at the very least, before this November, when the number of voters --- and rejected applications and ballots --- will be much much higher unless the state's SB1 law is amended or blocked by the courts.

Chimene cites Texas officials who declared the 2020 election as "a very safe and secure election." Nonetheless, she notes, "the officials and the politicians who are writing these bills were the ones who won during the election. And it was safe and secure. So, really, I don't think they thought of this SB1 voter suppression bill, I don't think they thought of these ideas themselves. I think they came from someplace else and they were pushed out trying to meet somebody else's agenda of suppressing the vote even further here in Texas."

Election officials are now barred from informing eligible voters that they may vote by mail and, even when their applications or ballots are rejected, they are forced to be circumspect about why. Chimene explained that eventually officials were allowed to send a postcard to notify voters about rejected applications, but "what they don't tell them is where the mistake was in their application. They're not being told why the application was rejected, they're just notified that it was a rejected application." Notifying voters of rejected BALLOTS has been similarly fraught. "It's just a mess," the longtime non-partisan voting advocate tells us.

Chimene says that she "was hoping for some federal help, through federal legislation, such as updating the Voting Rights Act or the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, and it was so disappointing that that didn't happen." She calls out Texas Republicans for targeting voters and federal law enforcement for an inadequate response to it: "The issue is, who do they want to vote in the election, and how can they stop it? And it's just very disheartening to see this happening and that there's no help coming from the federal government."

What is now happening, in alarming numbers in Texas, Chimene explains, is "a way to stop people who have been voting for a very long time, very successfully, very securely and safely, and now they're unable to participate in the democracy. It's just bad news for democracy."

We seem to have quite a bit of that today...And not just in Texas...

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Guest: The American Prospect's David Dayen on the magazine's ambitious Special Issue: Also: Gun-maker settles with Sandy Hook families; Prince Andrew settles sex-abuse case; Palin loses (again); Putin blinks?...
By Brad Friedman on 2/15/2022 6:05pm PT  

Today on The BradCast, we tackle another small, totally easy to solve issue: Untangling the worldwide supply chain debacle. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, before that, at least a few stories seem to be resolving themselves today...

  • Nine families of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre settled their lawsuit with Remington, the manufacturer and marketer of the semi-automatic rifle used to kill their family members, for $73 million. The deal is noteworthy because federal law bans such suits against the gun industry, but Connecticut law does not. In this case, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Remington's attempt to block the suit based on the protections in federal law.
  • Prince Andrew settled a lawsuit filed against him by a woman who says she was 17-years old when she was sexually abused by Andrew, as coerced by the late financier and child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. The settlement includes an undisclosed donation to the charity of the victim, Virginia Giuffre, and an acknowledgement by Andrew that she has suffered abuse as a victim It is unknown if Giuffre will personally receive any money as part of the agreement.
  • Both a jury and a judge helped settle former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's defamation lawsuit against the New York Times by rejecting it in no uncertain terms. On Tuesday, the jury in the civil trial brought by Palin found the Times' editorial board not guilty of libeling the former GOP Vice Presidential nominee. The paper had erroneously cited a "clear link" between a map published by a Palin campaign websites featuring a gun site on certain Congressional districts --- including then Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords' --- and the 2013 mass shooting in Tuscon that killed six people and critically injured the Congresswoman. The jury's rejection of Palin's suit came the day after the judge, as the jury was still deliberating, declared that he planned to dismiss the case anyway after finding that Palin failed to prove the paper acted maliciously against her. For its part, the Times described the verdict as "reaffirmation of a fundamental tenet of American law: public figures should not be permitted to use libel suits to punish or intimidate news organizations that make, acknowledge and swiftly correct unintentional errors."
  • And, in the weeks-long Russian/Ukraine military stand-off, there was a long-awaited easing of tensions as President Putin announced that Russia was ready for talks with the U.S. and NATO on a number of issues and that some Russian forces on the border with Ukraine would be withdrawing. President Biden, however, in remarks this afternoon at the White House, said the U.S. had "not yet verified" any troop withdraws and that a Russian invasion of Ukraine remained a possibility. The White House noted, however, that the U.S. remains opens to high-level diplomacy in hopes of avoiding military conflict in Europe.

On that news, Wall Street rallied after weeks of saber-rattling had weighed down the market and helped send oil and gas prices through the roof, serving as another reminder today of just one more way that our vulnerable supply chain can wreak havoc on an otherwise booming economy.

As it turns out, The American Prospect recently devoted an entire Special Issue for February to a very related topic: "The Supply Chain Debacle: How bad policy—outsourcing, financialization, monopolization, deregulation, and just-in-time logistics—broke our supply chains, raised costs and caused shortages."

We're joined today by The Prospect's Executive Editor and author David Dayen to help us untangle the mess that has been made over the past 40 or 50 years, under both political parties in this rare case, of a supply chain that has exposed its vulnerabilities with the onset of the COVID pandemic two years ago. But since then, it has continued to reveal its ill-designed brittleness and the very serious threat it poses to America's economic security.

Dayen walks us through how his Special Issue delves into the broad failures of the supply chain, largely put in place over the years by the Wall Street "free market" to maximize corporate profit at the expense of American jobs and national security...in exchange for cheap prices on goods! As Dayen details, the problems here are not one single failure across the chain, but as he breaks down, "multiple 'single points of failure'" across industry after industry all along the broken chain.

"We designed a system over the course of decades --- both parties --- that had lean inventories, that relied on offshore production, that relied on this concept of globalization," he explains. "That allowed the production facilities to become very concentrated. That allowed the spokes within the system to become concentrated. That deregulated everything to try to lower prices on shipping and transportation. And that allowed Wall Street to take the primary role in governing these efforts --- in other words, telling corporations 'Yes, you have to move your production offshore for cheap labor', and 'We have to deregulate these industries so that costs stay low,' and 'You have to have just-in-time production so that you don't have any inventory sitting around just wasting money, and we're spending too much money on warehouses.'"

With this precarious, profit-driven system in place, Dayen steps through The Prospect's full team coverage of how a virus breaking out in a manufacturing hub in China can shut down the entire system. Any sudden increase in a demand for goods --- say, during a pandemic --- ends up tying the giant, oligopolized over-seas container shipping system into knots and stranding massive cargo ships at sea while there is no room left for off-loading at U.S. ports. Once finally off-loaded, sometimes after months waiting in line off-shore, a U.S. rail system run by just a couple of companies and a trucking system that doesn't pay workers nearly enough for their efforts further bottlenecks the process. Then there's the vast lack of warehouse space for all those goods if they can ever get to where they need to be. All the while, these disruptions and failures work to the benefit of the largest distributors --- like Amazon and Walmart --- while cutting the knees out from under independent retailers and raising prices for everyone. So much for those low prices that consumers, at least, were supposed to get out of the deal.

But, as Dayen also explains, it doesn't take a pandemic. A cross-border bridge protest in Canada, saber-rattling in Eastern Europe or the Middle East and, perhaps even more crippling to the supply chain over the past year than anything else, climate change related disasters which promise to only get much more frequent and severe in the years ahead.

"The problem is the supply chain is run on these knife-edge principles that make it impossible for it to adjust to a shift up in demand. That is the entire problem," he argues. "So people who go on and say, 'No, this isn't a problem, it's just this shift. Everything will be fine.' They're missing the point. The point is that this lack of adjustment reflects problems with how the system is engineered."

And, yes, Dayen has advice on how to re-engineer the entire system. The good news, he also explains, is that both corporations and members of Congress --- from BOTH parties --- seem to finally be getting it. They are looking at and passing bills that encourage (and spend money on) the regionalization and onshoring of manufacturing back here in the U.S., and the Biden administration is investing heavily --- when Congress allows them --- into a number of long-overdue fixes.

It may all sound dry on paper, but it's actually a fascinating and very lively conversation on today's program that I hope you'll tune in for.

Finally --- and including a few related points --- Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, on the crippling Western U.S. megadrought; the Biden Administration's roll-out of a national EV charging network; the spike in oil prices amid tensions in Russia-Ukraine; and the Super Bowl blitz by U.S. carmakers launching long overdue electric vehicle production lines...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 2/15/2022 11:05am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Western U.S. mega-drought is the worst in 1200 years, new study finds; Biden Administration rolls out funding for national EV charging network; Oil prices spike amid escalating Russia-Ukraine tensions; PLUS: Carmakers spend big touting new electric vehicles during the Super Bowl... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Scientists raise alarm over 'dangerously fast' growth in atmospheric methane; Is fascism the wave of the future? How climate change benefits the extreme right; Analysis shows how rooftop solar could have saved lives during Texas deep freeze; Engineers are building bridges with recycled wind turbine blades; The end of natural gas has to start with its name; Judge blocks key Biden climate metric... PLUS: EPA responds after HuffPost investigates Gulf chemical dump: Nothing to see here... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Since nobody seems to know much about either, we open the phone lines to listeners to see what we can learn...
By Brad Friedman on 2/14/2022 6:05pm PT  

There are two stories, one major, the other one only "major" thanks to rightwing media fueling it, that I've wanted to cover more on The BradCast of late, but haven't. Why? Because, in both cases, both stories make little sense to me and the so-called "experts" or pundits out there seem to be ideological, for or against, in one way or another that fails to offer much clarity or insight to either story. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

So, I figure, if the so-called pundits and experts don't know much and are doing little more than offering their opinions and best-guesses, our callers couldn't do much worse, right? Fact-check: True! Callers came through today with shining colors!

The first story is the dumb Canadian trucker protests over vaccine mandates. As you know, they are attempting to shut down U.S.-Canadian trade across transcontinental bridges in hopes of forcing the government to meet their demands. They have been succeeding at harming the economy in both countries, at least until this weekend when Canadian police finally cleared the crossing at the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit. That closure threatened some $360 million a day in two-way cargo across the bridge or about 25% of the U.S.-Canada goods trade, according to Reuters.

The otherwise unpopular demonstrations in Canada are being fueled with money from the U.S. and round-the-clock coverage on wingnut cable TV. And, in addition to shutting off trade (leading some automakers to have to shut down some production), the demonstrations have included Trump, Nazi and Confederate flags, as well as protesters urinating on a Canadian war memorial. At a crossing into Montana from Coutts, Alberta, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police say they arrested 11 people blockading the border after learning of a cache of guns and ammunition, including long guns, handguns, body armor, and a lot of ammo and high-capacity magazines.

Can you imagine Fox "News" supporting an actual civil rights protests in this country that included weapons, Nazi flags and urinating on war memorials? But, of course, the dumb protests in Canada have little to do with actual civil rights --- even as I strongly support the right for anybody to protest whatever they want, even dumb stuff like opposition to life-saving vaccine mandates.

The far more dangerous story, obviously, continues in Russia and Ukraine, where the former has now reportedly deployed as many as 130,000 troops on three sides of the latter and where, according to the weeks long insistence from the U.S., an invasion is now as "imminent" as this Wednesday. The U.S. --- and NATO and the EU --- have been warning of an "imminent" attack for weeks now, and one may be. But Russia continues to deny any plans for an attack on the former Soviet state and nobody seems to have any more than best guesses about what the truth is and what will actually happen next.

Perhaps a better question is why is the U.S. so loudly broadcasting what they see as Russia's "imminent" plans to invade --- now said to be as early as this Wednesday. Is it because Russia really is going to invade? Or is there another reason?

We discuss all of that and much more with some terrific callers today --- including one who says he used to work for in Russ for a vodka millionaire, and another who explains that she had been working recently on a construction project at the border crossing into British Columbia from Washington State.

Then, as usual, there are the always-fun callers who completely disagree with me on everything (particularly on life-saving COVID vaccines), and I always enjoy those calls the most! I'll hope you do too!...

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Guest: Dan Vicuña of Common Cause; Also: More lousy reporting from corporate media on Biden's booming economy...
By Brad Friedman on 2/8/2022 6:40pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: As of this past weekend, the news was much better than expected regarded this decade's round of redistricting around the country. That may have changed in a heartbeat on Monday evening with another horrible "Shadow Docket" ruling from the Republicans' stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, before we get there today, one additional point on a topic discussed in detail on yesterday's show. We noted that the GOP appears to be eating itself alive, with Trump attacking Pence for not helping him steal the 2020 election, Pence (gently, but finally) pushing back at Trump, and the RNC, at its Winter Meeting last week in Utah, voting to censure its own Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kingzinger (R-IL) for daring to join in the probe of the deadly, January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, which the RNC's resolution described as nothing more than "legitimate political discourse".

At the same time, the economy is booming at record numbers under President Biden and Democratic control of Congress. So, given all of that, we asked yesterday why Democrats are thought to be in so much trouble this November? We placed a lot of blame on the corporate media for their often ridiculous, lazy, sometimes out-and-out inaccurate, double-standard coverage of Biden and the Dems. Most notably, as we've been shouting here for months, on the economy, with last year's 6.6 million new jobs simply blowing away all previous Presidents in U.S. history, not to mention the lowest unemployment and highest growth in GDP since the 1980s.

Among the many failures of the corporate media is their reporting on monthly jobs numbers from by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as "disappointing" (including numbers that, when they were even lower under Trump, were described as "robust" or even better). That, as the BLS has, almost every single month for the past year, revised previous monthly new job numbers upward by more than 100,000 and sometimes much much more. Well, the media did it again at the end of last year, when describing "disappointing" new jobs numbers in November and December. Both months, as expected, were revised upward last Friday by BLS, but were largely overlooked by the media. And yet these were no small adjustments!

November's new jobs numbers were adjusted from 199,000 initially to 510,000! And the jobs gain revisions in December went from a "disappointing" 249,000 new jobs to 647,000 — painting a much stronger picture of the labor market than reported over those months last year. If we knew the numbers would be revised upwards last year, with our huge BRAD BLOG World News Headquarters resources, why didn't the corporate media report that appropriately at the time? Of course, they did know, but, for some reason, buried that information along with the record low unemployment numbers and record high GDP growth. Why? Decide as you see fit.

Next, the new decennial round of Congressional redistricting has been looking much better for Democrats (and American Democracy along with them), than previously predicted by experts in the run-up to drawing new maps following the 2020 Census. Last week, Cook Political Report's Dave Wasserman even declared "Dems have taken the lead on" his group's "2022 redistricting scorecard," citing favorable state court rulings and other developments putting Democrats "on track to net 2-3 seats from new maps vs. old ones."

Among the recent new developments, late last week North Carolina's state Supreme Court found that the state's GOP-created Congressional and state legislative maps were partisan gerrymanders in violation of their state Constitution. That ruling followed on a similar one from Ohio's Supreme Court which found the same in the Buckeye State, leading them to order new maps as well. At the same time in New York, one of the few states where Democrats control the process for drawing new maps, three districts were drawn that are likely to flip "red" House seats to "blue" (which has outraged state Republicans, leading them to file a lawsuit against what they see as a "partisan gerrymander" in violation of the state Constitution, despite their party doing the same and much worse in a bunch of states where they control the redistricting process.)

And, all of that followed a recent ruling from a three-judge panel in federal court finding that Alabama Republicans violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act with their new House map that drew six White-majority districts and just one Black-majority district, even though Black voters in Alabama represent 27% of the electorate. The three federal judges --- two of them Trump appointees --- ordered a second Black-majority district to be drawn after a days-long trial, including more than a dozen expert witnesses. The three judges unanimously declared in their "meticulous" 225-page ruling [PDF] that "we do not regard the question ... as a close one.”

Nonetheless, on Monday, in a stunning 5 to 4 ruling on the U.S. Supreme Court's "Shadow Docket", without any oral argument, etc., the rightwingers on the High Court stayed [PDF] the lower court's ruling to allow the unlawful racial gerrymander to remain in place for the 2022 mid-terms and perhaps longer. Even Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the 2013 opinion that gutted the VRA's critical Section 5 preclearance provision, voted with the Court's liberals. But, Roberts' vote was not enough. All of which tees up the Court, as expert fear, to gut Section 2 of the Act as well.

Since the Court's 2013 decision all but killing Section 5 preclearance of new election laws in jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination at the polling place, Republicans have claimed that there was always Section 2 that protected against laws with a discriminatory effect in all 50 states, though only after such laws went into effect. Now, experts worry that a full SCOTUS opinion after a hearing later this year on Alabama's racial gerrymander may result in the Court further chopping away at Section 2.

We're joined by one of those experts today. Common Cause's National Redistricting Manager DAN VICUÑA is here to explain both the good news and, as of Monday, very troubling news on the latest round of redistricting, including what the new SCOTUS ruling is likely to mean moving forward, for Alabama, for other states, for the future of the VRA, and for American Democracy itself.

"I think there is within the conservative majority on the Supreme Court a sort of deep skepticism about the Voting Rights Act, which is one of the most effective pieces of legislation to turn back, fight back against our sordid history of racism," Vicuña explains today. "It's been incredibly effective in giving people of color the opportunity to make their voices heard in elections. I think the conservative majority --- at least some of them --- just don't like it very much." And that could be very bad news for American Democracy indeed.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with a boatload of both good and bad (mostly bad, as usual) news on our ever-worsening climate crisis emergency...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 2/8/2022 11:18am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: President Biden vows Russia's controversial pipeline to Germany won't go forward if they invade Ukraine; Madagascar reels from second deadly cyclone in just two week; World's shrinking glaciers hold less ice than previously thought; PLUS: Bad news and good as new satellite data catches methane 'super-emitters'... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): How spiking energy prices complicate the fight against global warming; In the Rust Belt, EV battery plants spark jobs; Top corporations have vowed to fight climate change, but their net zero plans fall short; Urban air pollution affects 2.5 billion people worldwide, study says; Here are the minerals we need for batteries, solar and other clean energy tech; US flood risk is about to explode — but not for the reasons you think... PLUS: Biden’s 'Cancer Moonshot' turns toward pollution... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Drop Box voting restored in WI (for now); Excellent redistricting news in AL (unless appealed); 'Calming down' in Ukraine; Bad news for key Jan. 6th instigators Alex Jones and John Eastman; And more!...
By Brad Friedman on 1/25/2022 6:20pm PT  

We'd love to tout all of the encouraging news we have for you on today's BradCast. We have quite a bit of it. Problem is, while we have a lot of it, each story is largely just marginally encouraging in and of itself. Still, these days, we'll take what we can get! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

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

  • An appeals court in Wisconsin unanimously blocks a wingnut lower court judge's ruling from a few weeks ago that had declared the use of absentee ballot drop boxes to be in violation of state law, despite the many years that they've been in use. Who knew? So, good news that the judge was overturned for now. Bad news that the appellate court order only applies for now to the state's upcoming February primary elections.
  • Seemingly encouraging news out of Alabama today --- perhaps the only unqualified good news we've got to share with you all day, in fact! A three-judge federal court panel --- including two Trump appointees --- have rejected the state GOP's newly redistricted U.S. House map, declaring it to be an unlawful racial gerrymander in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act. The court's ruling, if it withstands appeal, would require the Republican-majority state legislature to draw two Black majority districts instead of one. That, in a state with a 27% Black electorate, represented for years by 6 Republican White men and 1 African-American Representative.
  • While the U.S. (and EU and NATO) continue their warnings of an "IMMINENT INVASION!" of Ukraine by Russia, Ukrainian officials have a message for the world: Please calm the fuck down! (Though please keep sending those weapons in the mean time.)
  • Oh, look! Wingnut radio conspiracy theorist, professional grifter, Donald Trump buddy, and key instigator of the deadly January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, Alex Jones, quietly sat down this week for questioning with the U.S. House Select Committee investigating Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election. That, even though Jones had previous filed a lawsuit to quash his subpoena from the Committee. Apparently, he pleaded the Fifth "almost 100 times" for some reason in the bargain, he says.
  • And, speaking of pleading the Fifth, (former?) law professor John Eastman, who wrote the memos detailing a plot for how then Vice President Mike Pence could "legally" steal the election for Trump by refusing to accept lawfully certified 2020 Electoral College votes on January 6th, also chose to avoid self-incrimination in criminal matters by invoking the privilege when he testified recently to the Committee. As of a court hearing on Monday, we now know he did so 146 times! That, according to details proffered during the hearing for a suit in which Eastman is suing his former employer, Chapman University. He is hoping to prevent them from releasing 19,000 of his emails subpoenaed by the House Select Committee and written from his university email address while working for free for Trump (unbeknownst to the non-partisan university, which eventually fired him for doing so.) The judge in the case is reportedly not happy with Eastman, and has ordered him to make a list of which of the 19,000 subpoenaed emails he believes should be withheld from the Committee due to attorney-client privilege.
  • Meanwhile, it continues to be a lousy time to be associated with our disgraced, twice-impeached loser of a former President. Even for a coal lobbyist. Democrats in the Virginia state Senate say they are now united in their hopes of blocking the new GOP Governor Glenn Youngkin's nomination of former Trump EPA Administrator (and coal lobbyist!) Andrew Wheeler for the commonwealth's top environmental official. SAD! That, after 150 former EPA employees signed a letter to the state Senators accusing Wheeler of having "pursued an extremist approach, methodically weakening EPA’s ability to protect public health and the environment, instead favoring polluters." (Though because the state Senate Dems haven't yet taken the very rare step of blocking the new Guv's nominee, the news is still to be considered marginally good for the moment.)
  • Finally, while it should be very good news that we are sharing our 1,200th Green News Report today --- coincidentally in the same week that The BRAD BLOG is celebrating our 18th birthday --- the fact that we've had to do 1,200 GNRs (instead of saving humanity and the entire planet about 800 episodes ago) makes the good news only marginal as well. As usual, the content of today's report doesn't help much either...though even there, we've got a bit of marginally encouraging news for ya.

You're welcome!...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
OUR 1,200th EPISODE!
By Desi Doyen on 1/25/2022 10:53am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Chemical pollution threatens stability of the global ecosystem, scientists warn; Escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine set to roil global energy prices; Shell Oil carbon capture facility emits more greenhouse gases than it captures; PLUS: Automakers call Intel's new $20 billion Ohio manufacturing hub critical to EV production... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

GNR's now celebrating 12 YEARS of independent green news, politics, analysis, snarky comment and connecting climate change dots over your public airwaves!
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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Could the world become too warm to hold Winter Olympics?; NJ bans foam packing peanuts; France’s nuclear decline a "threat to Europe"; What ratepayers should know about the Plant Vogtle expansion; 'Nurdles are everywhere': how plastic pellets ravaged a Sri Lankan paradise; Aerial surveys detect dozens of methane super-emitters in Permian Basin; How Biden could close coal plants without CO2 regulations; House panel broadens probe into climate disinformation by Big Oil... PLUS: High court drops 'earthquake' on federal water protections... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: Tensions boil in Russia-Ukraine standoff; SCOTUS takes affirmative action cases...
By Brad Friedman on 1/24/2022 6:38pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we pick up, in no small part, where we left off on Friday's show regarding that chilling, newly unearthed, December 16, 2020 draft Executive Order [PDF] created for Donald Trump to allow him to declare a national security emergency, seize the nation's voting systems, and implement a military coup that would have left him in power after the 2020 election's actual winner, Joe Biden, was supposed to have been sworn in. We are joined today by the woman whose organization's federal lawsuit in Georgia was quoted extensively in that draft EO as a pretext for seizing the nation's voting systems. Of course, the MAGA Mob lied about the ruling they quoted from her lawsuit in the never-issued EO. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

But first, we cover some quick news headlines today...

  • Just before airtime, the Fulton County, Georgia Superior Court reportedly approved District Attorney Fani Willis' request for the creation of a Special Grand Jury to aid her ongoing investigation into the criminal conspiracy to steal the state's 2020 Presidential election by Trump and others in his cabal, potentially including former WH Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and Trump buddy Sen. Lindsey Graham among others.
  • Then, news on the quickly ratcheting tensions in Ukraine, where Russia continues to amass thousands of troops on their eastern border in preparation, according to NATO and the U.S., for an invasion of the former Soviet Union satellite country. Russia, on the other hand, says it has no intention of invading and is simply responding to provocations by NATO and the West. We detail the latest as tensions continue to grow by the hour --- along with new military hardware in the region --- on all sides.
  • Also on Monday, the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court announced plans to take up two cases next term on affirmative action in college admissions. One case challenges the use of race in Harvard's admissions policies, the other looks at similar policies at the public University of North Carolina. The Court's decision to hear these cases, despite multiple cases in recent years confirming the Constitutionality of such policies, signals the likelihood that the newly far-right 6 to 3 Court is looking to overturn long-standing precedent on race-based policies. Such a reversal of otherwise settled law would echo similarly radical moves in other recent rightwing hobby horse cases taken up by this Court regarding abortion, gun rights, voting rights, vaccine mandates, and environmental regulations.

Then we're joined by MARILYN MARKS, longtime election integrity, security and transparency advocate and Executive Director of the non-partisan Coalition for Good Governance. It was a ruling in the Coalition's long-standing lawsuit seeking to ban Georgia's new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems made by Dominion Voting Systems that was quoted, at length, in the December 2020 draft Executive Order [PDF] that was to direct Trump's Secretary of Defense to immediately seize the nation's voting systems and institute a military coup to keep him in office.

The EO quotes a ruling in the Coalition's case made by U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg just prior to the November 2020 election. In it, as we reported at the time, she recognized the massive vulnerabilities in Georgia's new Dominion touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems, but allowed them for first-time use in the 2020 election anyway. The previous year, as part of the very same lawsuit, Judge Totenberg finally banned the state's controversial, 20-year old, unverifiable, insecure touchscreen systems made by Diebold, finding the vulnerabilities made them unconstitutional for use in Georgia's elections. Rather than replace those old systems with verifiable hand-marked paper ballot systems, Georgia's Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger forced every county in the state to switch to the new, unverifiable Dominion systems which share many of the same problems as those they replaced.

In the draft EO, after citing Totenberg's 2020 ruling at length, the drafters of the document (likely Sidney Powell and Michael Flynn, among others), falsely claim that "Every defect and hazard of which Judge Totenberg warned, happened in Georgia."

Marks, whose has joined us many times on this program over the years to discuss her legitimate case to ban those Dominion systems in Georgia (a case which continues), offers her reaction today to seeing a ruling from her case included in the EO drafted for Trump's military coup.

"I was ready for the whole world to know about our lawsuit --- those who don't listen to you --- but this is not the way I wanted to have it happen!," quips Marks. "Because, of course, it is a totally serious lawsuit and this [EO] is preposterous, silly and crazy. And chilling, as well!"

She says that she was "horrified" when she first saw the news come in via headlines. "It's just so shocking that this would have gotten on paper anywhere, that anybody could have these ideas to use the judge's very serious ruling, to take it totally out, twist the words [and] wrap it in a bunch of lies. It's really so sad and scary."

Marks notes as well that, while there are indeed very serious vulnerabilities in Georgia's new voting systems (and others like it in use around the country) making them "hackable", the evidence-free (and/or wholly inaccurate) claims made by the Trumpers in the EO about them having been manipulated "is just so false. It's unbelievable that someone could get away with putting that on paper because there's no evidence that any of those things happened. Yes, there were problems [in Georgia]. Yes, those problems need to be resolved. But certainly not what these people are claiming."

She also explains why, even if the Pentagon had seized the voting machines in Georgia as the document called for, they were not likely to find the "malware" they pretended was on those systems in November of 2020 because the systems had already been wiped for upcoming municipal elections and the January U.S. Senate runoffs by that time in December.

We go on to discuss how both this newly revealed EO and all of the phony, evidence-free claims that the 2020 election was stolen --- as part of Trump's actual efforts to steal the election --- has made the fight for election integrity all the more difficult for real advocates. In response, she argues that many Democrats are now even more afraid to take action on anything that has to do with concerns about voting systems. Some, she notes, are even working to make such systems less transparent in the bargain. "So what we are seeing is some pushback that is really unhealthy in terms of let's reduce transparency, let's reduce citizen oversight, thinking that somehow that will quiet the citizens talking about the problems. It's a dangerous reaction," warns Marks...

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Guest: Election law scholar and democracy activist, Paul Lehto; Also: Biden v. Putin; U.S. v. China; Meadows v. 1/6 Committee; DoJ v. Texas...
By Brad Friedman on 12/7/2021 5:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we've got trouble both at home and abroad. But what else is new? [Audio link to full program is posted at the end of this summary.]

As if our domestic problems aren't disturbing enough, a couple of roiling foreign policy issues are landing on Joe Biden's desk this week. The President met via video-conference on Tuesday with Russia President Vladimir Putin to discuss the troubling build-up of Russian forces near the border of eastern Ukraine, suggesting a full-scale invasion of the former Soviet bloc country could be imminent in coming weeks and months. Biden reportedly threatened serious economic consequences for Russia if that happens. For his part, Putin seeks a commitment from NATO that Ukraine will never be allowed to join the joint defense organization. That condition is said to be a non-starter for both Biden and our NATO allies.

Elsewhere, China is none too happy with Biden's decision to implement a "diplomatic boycott" of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing. Though U.S. athletes will be allowed to attend, Administration officials will not, leading China to describe the move as an "outright political provocation" and vowing "firm countermeasures," whatever that might mean.

Meanwhile, here at home, we're still trying to clean up after Donald Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election, while trying to prevent him and the Republicans from more successfully stealing future elections. It won't be easy.

Last week, following the two federal indictments of Steve Bannon for failing to answer lawful subpoenas issued by the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol, Trump's former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows agreed --- sort of --- to cooperate with the Committee in regards his own subpoenas. Today, he reportedly changed his mind and, in turn, may also now be looking at indictments in the days ahead, along with two years in prison. Apparently his boss, the disgraced, twice-impeached former President, doesn't want him talking to the Committee for some reason. Happily, Mike Pence's former Chief of Staff, reportedly --- along with hundreds of others --- are already doing so.

With at least some accountability now likely in the offing for Meadows --- even as Merrick Garland's Dept. of Justice has, to date, brought no accountability on its own to the former President and his criminal clan for an endless list of crimes that includes the attempt to steal 2020 --- the Department filed a new lawsuit against Texas on Monday. The litigation seeks to block the Lone Star State's new Congressional and legislative maps as violations of the Voting Rights Act. While Texas gained two new House seats following the 2020 Census, they have now added two new White-majority Congressional Districts and eliminated a Latino-controlled seat. That, despite the fact that 95% of the population growth in the state is thanks to Latinos and Blacks. The DoJ, in their press conference announcing the suit yesterday, noted this isn't the first time TX has attempted to racially gerrymander its maps for partisan advantage. Though it may be much more difficult to challenge them this time around with the gutting of the VRA by the U.S. Supreme Court in recent years and, of course, the Republicans having packed the Court's 6 to 3 majority.

But as the GOP prepares to win a majority of the House in 2022 with a minority of votes from Americans, the vagaries of both the U.S. Constitution and the Electoral Count Act (ECA) of 1887 may make it easier to steal the Presidential election in 2024 as well. Longtime Republican election attorney Ben Ginsberg --- who helped steal the 2000 election for George W. Bush but rejected Trump's attempts to steal 2020 --- is now pressing his own party to reform the ECA before it comes back to bite them in the future.

It was, in fact, confusion surrounding the incredibly poorly written ECA that Team Trump hoped to exploit to their advantage when they tried to coerce then Vice President Mike Pence to declare electoral votes in a number of swing-states to be invalid during the joint session of Congress to certify the electoral votes on January 6. He refused, but the usually pro forma Congressional certification of the Electoral College, as you know, was then interrupted by Trump's MAGA Mob insurrection, in his last desperate attempt to steal the election that he lost.

We were joined on this program, on January 4th, by election law scholar and democracy activist PAUL LEHTO who joined us to warn, at the time, of the dangers that awaited on January 6th, thanks in no small part to the confusing ECA and Team Trump's attempts to take advantage of that confusion. Lehto joins us again today to discuss Ginsberg's recommendations to reform the Act and whether such reforms --- even if they could ever be adopted by the current dysfunctionally divided Congress --- would help to avoid another attempted theft of the Electoral College by Trump...or anyone else.

"If Congress understood that all they are doing is tabulating votes --- their scope is very limited --- they wouldn't have these disagreements about whether the Vice President has a sweeping authority to do this," Lehto explains. "They would realize they're clerks. But because that's not an understanding that's out there like it ought to be, yet another major norm of democracy, you could say, is being completely violated. And that's why there are so many holes that can be manipulated in the ECA. Because people are looking for 'How can we game the system?'"

Lehto, whose warnings were prescient in November, December and January, warns today that while the ECA "ought to be amended...whenever you close a loophole, the action just moves to the loopholes that still exist. Amending the ECA all by itself isn't going to solve the problem. Because you have constitutional issues, you have issues of people being partisan when they really should be patriots and act like clerks counting ballots."

He also has a few thoughts on what would help make Presidential elections less fraught and easily exploited, which involves both transparency and some key changes to the Constitution. "I think maybe what Democrats don't fully give enough weight to is the fact that we have an ancient Constitution that did not provide a democratic means of selecting the President," he tells me. "So that feels anti-democratic and fraudulent to Democrats, but that's what the system was set up. So we need to amend the Constitution in order to have it line up with what our reasonable expectations are for living in a modern democracy."

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, with troubling news for the Western U.S. and for Christmas tree fans, but with a bit of good news out of Scotland...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Author, analyst, researcher Brynn Tannehill; Also: Trump pushed his DoJ to falsely claim 2020 election was 'corrupt'; Biden's DoJ confirms law requires IRS to turn Trump tax docs over to Congress...
By Brad Friedman on 7/30/2021 6:03pm PT  

Today's BradCast should serve as yet another wake up call for those of us who may need one. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

First up, Washington Post revealed on Friday that Donald Trump, late last year, attempted to order his acting Attorney General to declare that the 2020 election was "corrupt". To his credit, the acting AG refused to, since there was no evidence of systemic fraud that might have reversed Trump's painful loss to Joe Biden. And, to the credit of the acting AG's staff, all of this was documented in real time with contemporaneous hand-written notes --- from that call and similar ones that reportedly took place on a near daily basis --- with the desperate loser President calling with fraudulent information from the Internet about "fraud". Those notes from the DoJ have now helpfully been handed over to Congress, so there will likely be more to come.

Of note, however, was Trump's response when he was told there was no evidence that would "change the outcome of the election." According to the hand-written notes of senior DoJ staff, Trump replied: "Just say the election was corrupt [and] leave the rest to me and the [Republican] Congressmen."

It was enough, for Trump's dishonest purposes, for the DoJ to simply say the election was "corrupt", even though there was no such evidence to support such a claim. It was similar to how, as we learned during his first impeachment, he wanted the President of Ukraine to say they were investigating Joe Biden and his family for corruption, even though they actually weren't. This is how a liar and a con-man and, yes, how a wannabe autocrat works.

But where Trump's pathetic attempt to stay in power failed last time, that may not be the case in the near future, as many respected voices are now warning. Fox "News" may say the Left is a bunch of autocrats and fascists, but that's only because they hope you won't notice that the Republican Right actually is, and becoming more so by the day. Many respected scholars and pundits from both the Left and the not-insane Right, such as David Frum and Steve Schmidt, are trying to warn about exactly that in advance of the 2022 mid-terms. Schmidt, John McCain's former Campaign Manager, asserted in a Twitter thread this past week, for example, that Trump will be the GOP nominee in 2024, adding that "the Pro-Democracy coalition is sleep walking into the ‘22 election and the stakes couldn’t be higher."

U.S. Naval Academy and Air Force Institute of Technology graduate BRYNN TANNEHILL, who served as a longtime naval aviator, with deployments to the Adriatic, Middle East and North Atlantic, says today that she shares a number of Schmidt's concerns. Her recently published book, hoping to call attention to the unprecedented perils the nation is now facing, is called American Fascism: How the GOP is Subverting Democracy. She joins us on today's show for a chilling, if insightful conversation.

As an investigator of shoot-downs in the military, she explains that she decided to approach this topic not unlike the NTSB might investigate a crash scene, examining every single potential factor that could have played a role in the disaster. "My book traces back some of the roots of the modern Republican Party all the way back to slavery and the Civil War," she explains, "to kind of give an historical sense of where this came from. [It] looks holistically at a lot of the different factors, including the media, loss of faith in science, how white evangelicals are different, how the system has been manipulated, the role of wealth inequality," examining "like an NTSB investigation, as many of the driving factors behind where we are today as possible."

But her clarion warning of where we now are is as chilling as her comparison of the Trump-incited failed insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th with Hitler and the Nazi's failed Beer Hall Putsch of 1923. "What Republicans can take away from [Jan. 6] is that even when there is a naked attempt at a coup, it costs them nothing. If they attempt to steal democracy by simply overturning an election, there's going to be even less consequences. That's our lesson."

Her book documents (and explains) what she describes as the rise of "competitive autocracy" in the U.S. or "managed democracy" as Russian President Vladimir Putin refers to it. "It's a type of government that has emerged since the end of the Cold War. Essentially, you have a democracy, or something close to a democracy, and then one party wins an election and then changes the rules, such that the incumbent party can essentially never be removed from power.  There are still elections. They are still very often 'free' in the sense that anybody can vote, and there's not just one person on the ballot. But the election through various means has been rigged such that the playing field has been so tilted that you can't remove the incumbent party from power."

We are seeing exactly that, as GOP-controlled states are changing the rules of elections right now, not only to make it harder for Democratic-leaning voters to vote next year and in 2024, but to allow them to replace election officials with partisans who can reverse election results no matter how the electorate actually votes. (See, for example, my conversation last week with now-former Morgan County, Georgia Board of Elections member and longtime voting rights champion Helen Butler who was just removed from her seat on the Board by the partisan County Board of Supervisors after 10 years, following the approval of the state's Republican Governor Brian Kemp.)

Citing similar democracies-turned-autocracies, she points to Russia, Hungary, Poland and others countries, noting that once a nation has headed down the path we are now on, historically, none of have been able to reverse course. "Hungary is absolutely a fascist movement," Tannehill points out, following the 2010 election of Victor Orbán, "and they have absolutely ended democracy there. That's a real danger, in the sense that we have a party that regards democracy as a hindrance to their goals, and their goals of establishing a particular kind of country is more important than the democracy itself."

So does the U.S. stand a chance of turning the tide? "The problem is the system is broken," she argues. "it is so easy to thwart solutions, via Congress, the Presidency, the courts, that it's really unlikely that a lot of the necessary solutions could ever happen.  For example, Senators representing only 19% of the American population can block virtually any legislation that they want to in the Senate."

"To an extent," Tannehill tells me today, the Founders, who thought their system of democracy would prevent a wholly unqualified person from being able to become President, "never dreamed that their vision for a country would be so corrupted that you would have legislators who would overturn elections based off of lies. They also never dreamed that the parties would become so powerful that they would pick the electors for the Electoral College.  The Electoral College was meant to prevent people like Trump."

There is much more to today's conversation, including a bit of hope. No, all is not necessarily lost, as grim as all of this sounds. But unless folks begin to appreciate the dangers of this moment in history, things could get very much worse --- and soon --- before they get better...if they ever do.

Finally, following that dark (if enlightening) conversation, some slightly more encouraging news. After Trump's DoJ spent years ignoring the plain text of the rule of law --- as authoritarian administrations do --- in refusing to enforce the federal statute requiring the IRS to share Trump's tax returns with Congress, Biden's DoJ has reversed course. In a memo issued today by the DoJ's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), the Department has declared that, in fact, the Treasury Dept. must turn over those long-sought documents to the House Ways and Means Committee after their lawful requests beginning in 2019. Better late than never anyway. And it's nice to see an Administration with some apparent actual respect for law and order once again.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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