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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, April 17, 2021
Taking the 'DUH' Out of Floriduh: 'BradCast' 4/16/21
Guest host Nicole Sandler with Rep. Ted Deutch and journalist Ryan Grim...
Corporations Pretend to
Stand Up for Democracy:
'BradCast' 4/15/21
Guest: Pulitzer Prize-winning biz journalist Michael Hiltzik; Also: New U.S. sanctions on Russia reveal previously unknown detail on alleged 2016 election interference...
'Green News Report' 4/15/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
US threat assessments finds climate change a clear, present danger; Japan to dump radio-active water in ocean; Biden undoing Trump damage; PLUS: France to ban short flights...
Previous GNRs: 4/13/21 - 4/8/21 - Archives...
Biden's Infrastructure Plan Begins End of Govt Socialism for Fossil Fuel Industry: 'BradCast' 4/14/21
Guest: David Roberts of Volts; Also: DHS knew Capitol was 'target'; Biden to end 'forever war'...
'Both Sides'? Really, Liz?: 'BradCast' 4/13
New data shows stunning rise in RW domestic terror; Also: US 'out' of Afghanistan by 9/11/21; J&J vaccine 'paused'; Cop, police chief resign in MN; Appalling video shows VA cops pepper-spraying black service member in car...
'Green News Report' 4/13/21
Western drought worsens before fire season, water cuts; CA's fire prevention plan; EV battery company settlement; PLUS: NOAA predicts bad 2021 hurricane season...
The SCOTUS-Approved, FCC Ownership Rule Catch-22: 'BradCast' 4/12/21
Guest: Sue Wilson of the Media Action Center; Also: More news from vaccination nation; More corporate pushback against vote suppression...
SCOTUS Approves FCC Rule to Allow Further Consolidation of Local Media Outlets
The FCC, under Trump, created a Catch-22 on new rule, requiring private research to counter hidden public data...
Sunday 'Avoid the Politicks' Toons
PDiddie's Springtime reminder to avoid 'blood-sucking insects' in his latest collection of the week's best toons...
GOP 'Legislative' Agenda Now Carried Out by Activist SCOTUS: 'BradCast' 4/9/21
Guest: Court expert Ian Millhiser; Also: Amazon union vote loses in AL; Biden's new SCOTUS reform Comm.; Hating on Cruz and Graham...
'Green News Report' 4/8/21
Biden on dumb GOP infrastructure attacks; Abandoned oil, gas wells loom; Treasury to help private sector decarbon-ize economy; PLUS: GM's all in on EV future...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: L.A. Times' Michael Hiltzik; Also: New U.S. sanctions on Russia reveal previously unknown details on 2016 election interference...
By Brad Friedman on 4/15/2021 7:27pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's nice to see hundreds of companies and corporate executives coming out in favor of democracy and voting rights. If only they actually meant it. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up today, however, the Biden Administration announced a spate of new sanctions against Russian organizations and individuals in response to both the massive Solar Winds hack of top U.S. agencies, including including the Treasury, Justice, Energy and Homeland Security departments, as well as for what is described as interference in the 2020 election on behalf of Donald Trump.  At the same time, the Administration seems to be going out of their way to downplay the sweeping sanctions by suggesting that they are open to top level discussions to avoid further exacerbating growing tensions between the two nations.

But one of the 32 individuals sanctioned is of note today because the announcement from the U.S. Treasury Department refers to the 2016 election, charging that the individual, Konstanin Kilimnik shared proprietary polling information given to him by Trump's first campaign manager, Paul Manafort, directly with Russian Intelligence Services.  If true, that would be significant new information. Previous reports on Russia's involvement in the 2016 election from both Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee cite the information Manafort is said to have given to his former business associate Kilimnik, a Russian and Ukrainian political operative linked to Russian intelligence. But neither of those voluminous report goes so far as to say that the data was subsequently given directly to Russian intelligence services.  Those reports acknowledge they were not able to learn what came of it after it was handed over to Kilimnik. Today's announcement of the sanctions by the Treasury, however, notes: "During the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign, Kilimnik provided the Russian Intelligence Services with sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy."

As national security website Just Security observes: "The Treasury Department’s new statement raises questions about why this information is coming out now and why the Special Counsel’s office did not have access to it during its investigation. Was it not available then or did it exist but was not provided to the Mueller team?"   So, does this mean the Biden Administration has uncovered details on manipulation of the 2016 election that was previously hidden or withheld by the Trump Administration?  It looks like the "Clean up on Aisle 45" will be continuing for quite some time. There is a LOT to clean up.

In not entirely unrelated news, hundreds of companies and corporate CEOs issued a full-size, two-page ad in the New York Times, Washington Post and other papers this week, with a short statement purporting to declare "WE STAND FOR DEMOCRACY," and noting: "We all should feel a responsibility to defend the right to vote and to oppose any discriminatory legislation or measures that restrict or prevent any eligible voter from having an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot."

Though the statement doesn't mention any specific states, it was issued in response to Republicans' recently enacted voters suppression law in Georgia and dozens of other states where similar restrictions on the franchise, in bills sponsored by GOP state lawmakers, are moving forward.  All of which is said to be in response to false claims by Trump and Republicans of massive fraud in 2020.  Georgia's new law, for example, makes it more difficult to vote by mail, limits the use of drop boxes, bans the distribution of food or water on long voting lines (which are all too typical in certain parts of the Peach State) and allows the partisan GOP state legislature to replace bipartisan County Election Boards with a single partisan person who will be able to unilaterally undermine elections or even overturn results.

While statements like the one issued this week in the two-page ad --- and, before it, by Atlanta-based companies such as Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines --- have resulted in good publicity for those signed onto them, they have also brought blowback from the right, leading Republicans (who pretend to abhor so-called "cancel culture") to demand boycotts of any company which stands up for voting rights.

I have railed in recent weeks about the absurdity of Republicans finally paying attention to concerns about new voter suppression laws only now that a number of corporations have come out in apparent opposition to such laws. Corporate entities, it seems, have far more sway with the GOP lawmakers who ignored weeks of complaints and protests about the new laws from actual voters before the GA law was passed.

But our guest today is seemingly even more cynical about these recent corporate declarations of fealty to democracy. We're joined today by MICHAEL HILTZIK, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and business columnist at the Los Angeles Times. He argued in his column this week that many of the "vague" declarations recently by large corporations are no substitute for actual action. He cites a host of companies, for example, which, following the January 6th U.S. Capitol insurrection, vowed to suspend donations to lawmakers who had voted to overturn the Electoral College results that same day. Despite those public pronouncements, he details one company after another --- from Jet Blue to AT&T to Toyota --- which, despite their previous public claims, have since given plenty of money to dozens of Republicans who voted against the certification of Biden's Electoral College victory.

In his column, he notes that while many companies and executives have come out in opposition of suppressive voting laws, almost none have gone on record to demand the passage of measures which would counteract them, such as the John Lewis Voting Rights Act or H.R. 1, the For the People Act.

"It's not that unusual for businesses to affiliate themselves on the side of the angels when they feel a lot of popular pressure to do so.  But once again the question is, what are they going to do about it?," Hiltzik tells me today. "Let's face facts. Many of the companies --- if not all of them --- that signed on to these statements, these honeyed words, had been assiduous supporters of the politicians who are now out there introducing and passing laws that restrict the voting franchise."

Criticizing their failure to speak out before Georgia's law was adopted, for example, he says, "They didn't really put their reputations on the line when they didn't think they had to.  And, as a result, we have a law in Georgia that's going to be very hard to repeal because the more these companies come out and say this is wrong, the more the rightwing legislators who passed it are doubling down, saying 'We're not going to kowtow to these liberal leftwing corporations'.  So they lost their chance. They're trying to recover. But I don't think they really deserve a lot of credence just by signing a statement."

Moreover, he explains, many of these very same companies have been opponents of democracy within their own corporate organizations. "What's really hypocritical is that these same companies that have said 'We believe in democracy, we believe in everybody having a vote' --- they've actually gone to the Securities and Exchange Commission and asked for, and received, a tightening of the rules that makes it even harder for small shareholders to get resolutions on the annual meeting agenda, and to actually get votes on the resolutions that they submit."

There is plenty of cynicism on today's show to go around. And it extends to our discussion of the need for campaign finance reform, and several neat GOP tricks that have long been used to prevent such long-overdue efforts to keep corporations out of our elections altogether.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us once again for our latest Green News Report, which, as always, is chocked full of important news, including Japan's announcement that they intend to dump more than a million tons of radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea. And we close with a follow up to that story from the Guardian today, regarding Japan's ill-fated attempt to marginalize concerns from their own citizens and neighboring countries, by using a cartoon character dubbed "Little Mr. Tritium" to make the massive release of radioactive wastewater slightly more adorable than it actually otherwise is...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Sue Wilson of the Media Action Center; Also: More news from vaccination nation; More corporate pushback against vote suppression...
By Brad Friedman on 4/12/2021 6:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast, our lonely fight to save what is left of our public airwaves continues, as mainstream media outlets continue to benefit from --- and therefore do not bother to report on --- the march toward full corporate ownership of what were once our prized and protected airwaves. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But first up today, the breaking news on that nation's latest school shooting. Today it was in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Next, the vaccination of the nation continues apace, with about 36% of adult Americans now having received at least one shot. This week, many more states will open eligibility to all adults 16 years of age and older in advance of Joe Biden's national date for doing so in all 50 states next Monday (April 19). Here in Los Angeles, all adult residents will be eligible as of Tuesday. We offer a few tips for how to get an appointment quickly. (Specifically, Kaiser-Permanente appears to have tons of available appointments, for members and non-members alike, via their website at KP.org.)

While vaccinations are proceeding at an impressive pace, hitting another 24-hour record of 4.6 million shots on Saturday, the race to outpace the spread of variants continues. While much of the nation is plateauing in case numbers at high levels or even surging slightly upward, a number of states, particularly in the Northeast and upper Midwest are surging quite steeply. The most disturbing case at the moment, by far, is in Michigan, where its Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer has been begging the Biden Administration for a vaccine surge in response to a spike that is as bad there as it was last Fall. For reasons that aren't entirely clear, the Administration has offered additional vaccinators and test kits, but not additional vaccine as of now. The CDC Director said on Monday that what is needed in MI's case is not more vaccine, but lockdowns. However, one of the reasons the state is in such bad shape now is because Trump-incited rightwingers last year not only rebelled against Whitmer's mandatory lockdowns, but even hatched a plot to kidnap her after Trump tweeted to "Liberate Michigan!"

What happens in Michigan, unfortunately, won't stay in Michigan. Their surge will spread elsewhere unless someone figures out how to get it under control. Similarly, what happens in Georgia will absolutely not stay in Georgia, as Republican lawmakers across the country are continuing to push voter suppression measures akin to the suppressive law adopted by Republicans in the Peach State last month.

The corporate pushback against Georgia's anti-voting law and those in other states continues to grow. Over the weekend, 100 corporate executives held a Zoom meeting to discuss how they planned to respond. On Monday, the first major Hollywood production --- Will Smith's "Emancipation" film --- previously set to film in Georgia, announced they were pulling production from the state due to the new law. Other productions could follow suit, given that Georgia has become a bit of a filmmakers Mecca by offering generous tax breaks to Hollywood production teams.

In addition to the group of corporate execs planning their own actions against anti-democracy laws, a group of some 60 law firms is reportedly teaming up to take action as well. That said, it's pathetic that the citizenry has to rely on corporations to become angry enough that Republicans might pay attention to their concerns --- the same concerns that the GOP ignored when they came from the citizenry itself before Georgia adopted its new law. In today's America, the citizenry don't seem to matter. It's corporate dollars to (or withheld from) Republicans that appears to be our only chance of convincing desperate Republicans to block or rollback these onerous restrictions on access to the ballot box. We're happy to see companies jumping in, but its absurd that we need to rely on them to somehow save "democracy".

Speaking of the need to save democracy, we're then joined by media reform activist SUE WILSON of the Media Action Center. Late last year, she and former Republican FCC official Art Belendiuk joined us on the program to discuss actions they were taking to expose the fact that rightwing media behemoth Sinclair Broadcasting appeared to be blatantly violating FCC ownership rules by taking secret ownership of more than one television station in a number of major markets, using sham front companies to skirt federal scrutiny.

At the same time, as Wilson reports today at BradBlog.com, the FCC has been attempting to change its own media ownership rules to allow for more corporate consolidation by granting major broadcasters the right to own more than one TV station in any given market. The FCC's initial attempt to change the rule preventing companies from controlling all of the public airwaves in major markets was blocked by the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which found that the FCC violated the Administrative Procedures Act in not carrying out proper studies to determine the effects of the rule change on broadcast outlets owned by women and minorities. SCOTUS heard the FCC's appeal in the case on January 19th (Trump's last full day in office). The Court handed down its decision in FCC v. Prometheus Radio Project on April 1, overturning the lower court to allow the FCC's new, relaxed ownership rule, even as Justice Kavanaugh, in his opinion for the unanimous Court, conceded that the record evidence relied on by the FCC was "sparse". But, he held on behalf of the Court, the rules in question, now changed by the FCC, "were no longer necessary to serve the agency's public interest goals."

As Wilson found, however, the reason the record was so sparse was because the FCC had carried out no studies of its own to determine the adverse effect of consolidation on minority owned business before formalizing their new rules. They relied instead on private organizations to present evidence as to why the consolidation would harm minority broadcasters. But private organizations did not have access to much of the FCC's public information, because the federal agency hasn't collected the information from stations around the country.

It all amounts to what Wilson describes as a Catch-22 that ill-serves the public, and further undermines our public airwaves, handing off even more control to corporate interests, rather than we, the people. "This is the worst decision that nobody knows about," Wilson tells me. And, of course, they don't know about it, because mainstream corporate broadcasters benefits from the rule change, so they haven't bothered to mention much about it to any of their listeners or viewers.

Wilson argues that Congress needs to take action, and asks listeners to contact their members of Congress. "We're finding that Republicans and Democrats are very interested in this [because] this is bad for our whole country."

Finally, we open up the phones for a few quick minutes today, to hear from listeners on both the FCC's latest boondoggle and with more thoughts on vaccination nation...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: State GOPers adopt Fossil Fuel Industry bills to nix renewables, block small government; Rep. Hastings RIP; Vaccines to all on April 19...
By Brad Friedman on 4/6/2021 6:27pm PT  

We have several fairly stunning plot twists to try and make sense of on today's BradCast, as Democrats hit a potential legislative jackpot in the U.S. Senate and Republicans pretend to turn against big business while actually turning against small government. [Audio link to the full show follows the summary below.]

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

  • President Biden moves up the date for vaccine eligibility to all Americans by two weeks, announcing that everyone in the U.S., 16 and older, will be eligible to sign up for COVID-19 shots by April 19th. That, as the race against new, deadlier variants --- and the premature easing of safety restrictions --- continues.
  • Florida's civil rights champion and 15-term Democratic Congressman Alcee Hastings passes away at age 84 after a battle with pancreatic cancer, further narrowing, for now, the Democrats' already-narrow majority in the U.S. House. That, as...
  • Huge new legislative possibilities were opened for Democrats by the Senate Parliamentarian on Monday night. As we briefly explained last week (and in more detail on today's show), an obscure provision in the Budget Act of 1974 will allow Dems to "revise" their Budget Reconciliation bills, allowing them to pass new measures under arcane Senate rules that permit certain budget-related measures to be adopted by a simple majority vote. Democrats already knew they had two opportunities to do that this year --- and avoid the GOP filibuster against all of their proposals --- with budgets for fiscal year 2021 (since Republicans failed to pass one last year when they had control of the upper chamber) and for fiscal year 2022. Biden's COVID relief and stimulus bill, the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, was adopted under the FY 2021 budget reconciliation provision and his $2.25 trillion infrastructure, jobs and climate proposal, the American Jobs Plan, was previously targeted for passage under FY 2022's budget reconciliation. But, after inquiry by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer as to whether a little-known or used provision of the Budget Act would allow more such bills to be adopted as "revisions" to both of those budget reconciliation packages, the Senate Parliamentarian has reportedly given her okay. That means that the American Jobs Plan can be adopted as a "revision" to the 2021 budget, and a previously unimagined set of possibilities has suddenly emerged for the 2022 plan or even additional revisions to 2021. There are some caveats --- as we discuss --- but, as wonky as all of it sounds, it is wildly good news for Democrats.
  • That good news for Dems is, of course, more bad news for a Republican Party drifting farther and farther away from both reality and their own supposedly long-held governing values --- at least the ones they pretended to have. Each passing day makes it clear that the GOP is adrift without any actual legislative agenda or principles at all. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has long championed unlimited (and even undisclosed) corporate money in elections and politics, issued a statement on Monday pretending to be outraged by dozens of corporations speaking out democracy and against the voter suppression bill adopted by Republicans in Georgia last week.
  • But while Repubs in D.C. are trying on their new, "populist", "anti-corporate" costumes for a post-Trump era, GOPers in state legislatures across the country are still snuggling up with huge corporate interests in the fossil fuel industry to adopt legislation at the state level making it illegal for local towns and cities to ban the use of fossil fuels. Georgia is just the latest of dozens of states where this is happening right now. Among the states where efforts exactly like this are underway or already in place: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Utah

    And, if you're keeping score at home, that means the adrift Republican Party now claims to oppose corporate free expression in politics (they don't really) and are against local government decision making (they always have been, at least when small, local governments disagree with the GOP's corporate paymasters). Told you everything was twisted today! Or, as Desi Doyen smartly observes at one point: "It's not logical. It's political."

  • Finally, Desi's got our latest Green News Report, as failing infrastructure near Tampa, Florida is posing a huge, toxic crisis to local residents and wildlife; the Biden Administration pushes back against Republicans who pretend they don't know what infrastructure is; troubling new confirmation of climate change in Japan; and some very good news for a town with very bad air in Massachusetts...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Susan Greenhalgh, Senior Election Security Advisor at Free Speech for People; Also: Officer killed in new U.S. Capitol attack; MLB pulls All-Star game out of GA; Boehner's message for Cruz...
By Brad Friedman on 4/2/2021 7:37pm PT  

We've got another sorry tale on today's BradCast of yet another federal "watchdog" agency clearly captured by the industry corporations that it is supposed to be overseeing and/or regulating. This time, democracy itself is at stake. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But first up today, we had quite a bit of breaking news just before airtime. For a start, the U.S. Capitol was locked down on Friday after two Capitol Police officers were rammed in a violent attack with a vehicle. One of the officers, an 18-year veteran, was killed. The other was said to be "fighting for his life" as of airtime. After ramming the officer, the assailant is said to have "lunged" at officers with a knife and was subsequently shot and killed. The assault was the most serious threat on the Capitol since the Donald Trump-incited insurrection on January 6th, which killed five, including one U.S. Capitol Police officer. Two more officers took their lives in the ensuing days after that attack by Trump supporters attempting to stop Congressional ratification of Joe Biden's 2020 Electoral College victory.

That attack --- and Trump's evidence-free Big Lie about his loss being the result of "fraud" --- continues to reverberate almost three months since the MAGA Mob's assault on U.S. democracy. Last week, Georgia's Republican-dominated state legislature adopted a massive voter suppression bill that will make it more difficult to vote by, among other things, requiring additional forms of ID for mail voting, limiting absentee ballot drop-boxes and early voting hours, and banning the distribution of food or beverages to voters forced to wait hours on line. It would also allow partisan GOP officials to undermine County Boards of Election and even overturn results. The state's Governor, Brian Kemp (R), signed the sweeping bill almost immediately after it passed both chambers of the state legislature in a matter of hours.

This week, after some 70 Black corporate executives spoke out against the transparent attempt to making voting more difficult for minorities in the state, a cascade of other corporate entities --- including Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola, both based in Atlanta --- finally decided to speak out in favor of democracy and against voter suppression. And then, on Friday, shortly before today's show, Major League Baseball announced they will be moving the All-Star Game and MLB Draft, previously set for July in Atlanta, to another state in response to the GOP attack on voting.

And, as Georgia Republicans pushed back on Delta Airlines this week for belatedly standing up for the right to vote, Gov. Kemp took his shot at the company by accusing its CEO of "false attacks" by claiming misleadingly in a statement: "The last time I flew Delta I had to show my ID."

But Kemp, the state's former Sec. of State, certainly knows that flying is a privilege, where voting is a right. He also likely knows that, no, an ID is not required to fly on Delta or any other airline. As clearly explained on the TSA.gov website...

In the event you arrive at the airport without valid identification...you may still be allowed to fly. The TSA officer may ask you to complete an identity verification process which includes collecting information such as your name, current address, and other personal information to confirm your identity. If your identity is confirmed, you will be allowed [to fly].

In the meantime, as to real --- versus imagined or opportunistic and partisan --- threats of fraud in our elections, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), the federal agency tasked with overseeing voting system security standards, is continuing the woeful job it has done since its creation by the Help America Vote Act of 2002. Since its inception, as we have documented at The BRAD BLOG for almost 20 years, the EAC has largely been captured by the private voting system vendors whose systems they are supposed to be testing, overseeing, regulating and certifying as meeting minimal standards.

For years, the EAC has consistently helped mislead the public regarding the dangers of modems inside of computer voting and tabulation systems. The EAC's original Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG), created about 15 years ago, allowed for use of the devices which cybersecurity experts have long warned can be used to introduce malware into systems that could disrupt elections or change results.

In August of 2019, as we detailed on the program at the time with cybsersecurity journalist Kim Zetter, a group of security and voting systems experts discovered "nearly three dozen backend election systems in 10 states connected to the internet over the last year, including some in critical swing states" such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Florida. In January of 2020, almost six months after Zetter's exclusive and disturbing report, Cynthia McFadden followed up with her own report at NBC News, in which, despite federal officials repeatedly and falsely declaring that "U.S. voting systems are never connected to the Internet," the President of the nation's largest vendor, Elections Systems and Software, Inc. (ES&S), conceded that at least 14,000 of the company's modems were being used in vulnerable voting and tabulation systems across the country, even as the 2020 election cycle was getting under way.

Nonetheless, over the last five years, the EAC has been working with stakeholders --- from elections officials to cybersecurity experts to vendors --- to develop new minimum security standards for the nation's voting systems, which they call VVSG 2.0. The good news is that the draft of those final standards for the VVSG 2.0, made available for public comment last Summer, included a ban on modems and other wireless communications devices in computerized voting and tabulation systems.

The bad news: After the public comment period and before the new standards were officially adopted by the EAC Commissioners, they apparently met in secret with several vendors and quietly changed the new standards to once again allow for modems and other wireless communications devices in new voting systems.

After the standards changed and weakened without public notice, the non-partisan government watchdog, Free Speech for People (FSFP), filed public records requests for documentation of the non-public meetings between EAC officials and the voting machine companies. Despite acknowledging hundreds of pages of existing documents responsive to the request, according to our guest today, the EAC failed to turn over any of it to the group. Now, FSFP is suing the EAC for those documents.

We're joined today by longtime election integrity advocate SUSAN GREENHALGH, Senior Advisor on Election Security at FSFP, to explain the organization's lawsuit [PDF], and the latest, extraordinary failure to protect our elections by the corporate-captured EAC.

"We have a real lack of leadership from the federal agency that's supposed to be helping assist election officials run election more efficiently, securely, accessibly and transparently at the EAC," Greenhalgh explains, charging "they're letting the vendors help weaken the standards directly."

"The EAC is way, way too deferential to the vendors," she says. "They need to either do the right thing and do their job, or they need get out of the lane and come up with some other way. Because there's an expectation by members of Congress that this is being taken care of, that the EAC is doing their job, they're developing the standards, they're testing voting systems. Unless you scratch the surface and find out what's really going on, you might think on the outside that they're doing their job, and they're not. They're taking up that space, and that makes us all less safe and secure in our elections."

There is, as you might guess, much more that Greenhalgh has to explain about this ongoing mess and FSFP's legal efforts to crack open the EAC blockade.

Finally, we close today with a rather hilarious audio message from former, George W. Bush-era Republican House Speaker John Boehner, to Texas' Trumpy, conspiracy-loving U.S. Senator Ted Cruz...

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Also: Drought returns to CA; De-Trumpification of the EPA...
By Brad Friedman on 4/1/2021 6:50pm PT  

If only lawmakers in GOP-run states gave as much of a damn about their own residents as they do for the corporations which fund their campaigns. If only those corporations gave as much of a damn about their own customers as they do about the possibility of being boycotted and losing profits. Or, as my dad used to say, if only the Queen had balls she'd be the King. [Audio link to today's full BradCast is posted below this summary.]

It's a very busy and very lively show today. Among the stories we cover, if you are clever enough to tune in...

  • The growing cost of climate change continues, as California, just a few years after the end of a punishing five-year drought, appears to be headed back into another. Thanks to investments and conservation techniques enacted last time, perhaps this one won't be as bad. We'll see. But it won't keep the wingnuts from whining about it and trying to falsely blame Democrats anyway.
  • Emails obtained by Documented and reported by NBC News today reveal that talking points circulated by a climate change denying fossil fuel industry lackey were behind the misinformation spread by Texas officials falsely blaming wind and solar energy when the state's power system froze up and collapsed during a winter storm in February. The false claims were spread at lightning speed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, the fully captured Commissioners on the state's utility board, the wingnut media and, of course, other oil and gas lobbyists. Aside from billions of dollars in damages, the state's own failures in deregulation and privatization (and lack of winterization) of its electric grid, resulted in the deaths of at least 111 Texans according to the state's newly revised --- and nearly doubled --- death toll. Many of them died from hypothermia in their own homes. And no, it was not the fault of clean, renewable energy in any way.
  • Meanwhile, in Georgia, pushback against a massive voter suppression law enacted in record time last week by Republicans in the state legislature is bringing shame not only to GOP lawmakers and Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, but to the major corporations --- some headquartered in the state --- which failed to take action to speak out against the democracy-undermining measure until it was too late. Or, at least until boycott efforts against the companies began to emerge. Over the past 24 hours, following a statement of outrage by more than 70 Black corporate executives decrying GA's new law, companies such as Delta Airlines, Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Apple have all begun falling over themselves to express the "outrage" they failed to muster before passage of the bill --- or even in the full week since it was signed into law. In the wake of the new corporate blowback, rather than take actions to rollback the voter suppression, Republican state legislators have decided to attack the companies for (belatedly) coming out in support of democracy. The GOP-dominated state House of Representatives even went so far as to abuse their power on Wednesday night to adopt a punitive tax increase on one of the GA-based companies which belatedly decided to speak up against voter suppression.
  • Even as the blowback came fast and furious against Georgia's Republicans over the past 24 hours, the great, deregulated state of Texas decided they wanted some of that "love" as well. Republicans in their state legislature are now moving to enact similar voter suppression schemes to the ones decried in the Peach State. Will the corporations stand up against such laws in the Lone Star State and elsewhere before they're adopted this time? We hope so, but we'll see. Obviously these politicians don't give a damn about their actual constituents. But maybe they'll pay attention to their corporate funders who have now been forced by those constituents to at least pretend they give a damn about democracy.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with special coverage of President Biden's popular, new, sweeping, long-overdue, "once in a generation", $2.25 trillion infrastructure, jobs and climate proposal introduced on Wednesday as the American Jobs Plan...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Secret audio reveals 'conservatives' support Dems' For the People Act (H.R.1); Also: Economists giddy about Biden's infrastructure, jobs and climate plan; Third lawsuit filed against GA's new vote suppression law...
By Brad Friedman on 3/30/2021 6:49pm PT  

On today's BradCast: More evidence that the rightwing billionaire Koch network really needs a better security plan. And Republicans really need a more popular agenda. [Audio link to show follows summary below.]

We now have still more audio that has leaked out of a super-secret Koch Network event. The latest is embarrassing yet again for them, as it reveals that even Republican voters want corrupting "dark money" out of politics. Sorry, Koch folks like Mitch McConnell and all of the other elected GOPers who owe their corrupt careers (and votes in Congress) to whatever it is that the Koch Network wants from them! Looks like they'll need to rely on out-and-out lies about what is actually in the Democrats' popular election and campaign finance reform bill known as H.R.1 (the For the People Act) in order to undermine it. But they've become very good at that sort of thing by now.

On Monday, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer published a story about audio she obtained from a super-secret conference call in which the guy running a Koch-backed effort to figure out how to message against H.R.1 concedes that even "conservative" voters appear to like the proposal, which includes disclosure requirements for donations larger than $10,000 to "dark money" non-profit groups like the dozens of "non-partisan" groups run and funded by billionaire donors to the Koch Network.

As Mayer reports: "The speakers on the call expressed alarm at the broad popularity of the bill's provision calling for more public disclosure about secret political donors. The participants conceded that the bill, which would stem the flow of dark money from such political donors as the billionaire oil magnate Charles Koch, was so popular that it wasn't worth trying to mount a public-advocacy campaign to shift opinion. Instead, a senior Koch operative said that opponents would be better off ignoring the will of American voters and trying to kill the bill in Congress."

The research director for a Koch-run advocacy group is heard explaining on the call, which reportedly included a partisan representative from McConnell's office, that when even "conservative" voters hear that the legislation "stops billionaires from buying elections," they support it. "Unfortunately," he tells the group somewhat sheepishly, "we've found that that is a winning message, for both the general public and also conservatives."

We share the full audio disclosed by Mayer on today's program. (And, since I referenced it it today, here's a link to my 2011 exposé of the Koch Brothers' super-secret billionaire confab at a resort near Vail, CO. The first, to my knowledge, to include audio from one of the group's meetings. The several-part exposé I published at Mother Jones and at The BRAD BLOG at the time included audio I obtained revealing the undisclosed keynote speech by NJ's then Gov. Chris Christie, as well as remarks from Charles Koch and others at the highly secured --- but not highly enough secured --- event.)

Also today, Axios reports that economists are very excited about the approximately $3 trillion infrastructure, jobs and, yes, climate plan that Joe Biden is set to roll out in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. He previewed a bit of that plan during his press conference last week. The plan, in theory, will create millions of new, high paying jobs repairing, improving and building roads, bridges, electrical grids and other infrastructure that has been dilapidating for years, while hardening it all for climate resilience in a dangerously warming world. The Koch Network and Congressional Republicans are likely to have a hard time messaging against that long-overdue proposal as well. But we'll find out as much after Biden introduces the plan tomorrow.

Then, a bit of a follow-up to my conversation with Caren Short, Senior Voting Rights Attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on Monday's show, about Georgia's sweeping new voter suppression bill. Yesterday, I had asked Short whether SPLC was planning to join either of the so-far two different lawsuits filed by civil rights groups just after the controversial GOP measure was passed by both houses in the state legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp last Thursday, all within a 7-hour time span. She told me the group was looking closely at the suits, but had made no decision yet. Today, SPLC touched base with the news announcing a third suit [PDF] now filed in federal court against the GA law. This one has been filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and others on behalf of several Black, Latino and Muslim organizations in the Peach State.

Finally today, Desi Doyen has our latest Green News Report, with more news on Biden's infrastructure plan; deadly storms in Nashville; a disturbing update to the death toll in Texas after last month's winter storm; and more...some of it actually good enough news that we close with a song that many of you likely hoped we'd have forgotten by now. But, sorry not sorry...we didn't!...

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Guest: Caren Short, Voting Rights Attny, Southern Poverty Law Center...
By Brad Friedman on 3/29/2021 6:48pm PT  

Attempted voter suppression must come at a very serious cost to the suppressors. Hopefully, we are beginning to see at least some of that beginning to build in Georgia on today's BradCast --- even as voting rights advocates are forced to take legal action to block this latest attack on democracy by the state's Republican Party. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Hopefully, the blowback is just beginning. Last Wednesday, we were joined on the show by Marilyn Marks of the Coalition for Good Governance, as she warned about the massive voter suppression bill that Republicans in the GA state legislature were trying to jam through before this week's final day of the legislative session. But, in less than 24 hours, by Thursday, voting rights advocates were stunned --- and, arguably, caught off guard --- when the GOP-dominated state House and Senate both adopted a newly-introduced, nearly 100-page bill to pare back voting rights in a single day, before the measure, known as SB 202, was then signed just an hour or so later by long-time champion GOP vote suppressor and former Sec. of State, Governor Brian Kemp. For good measure, he did so under a painting of a slave plantation as an elected African-American member of the state House of Representatives was arrested for trying to witness the signing behind closed doors.

The measure, among other things, will increase ID requirements for absentee voting; reduce early in-person voting in some places; restrict the use of drop-boxes for mail-in ballots; ban the distribution of food and beverages to voters waiting in Georgia's famously long (in some places) voting lines; threaten third-party advocacy groups with criminal prosecution if they dare send an absentee ballot request form to someone already signed up to vote by mail; and, perhaps most perniciously, according to Marks sounding the alarm last week, allow the state's majority-GOP legislature to essentially take over control of the State Board of Elections. In turn, the State Board can then replace entire County Boards of Elections with a single partisan person, pretty much for any reason they like, threatening to both undermine or even overturn election results at the county level in...ya know...certain counties --- just as Donald Trump tried to do after losing the 2020 election in The Peach State last year.

All of that, despite zero evidence of fraud or mistally in last year's Presidential election in Georgia, where three statewide counts --- twice by machines, once by hand --- all confirmed the results, which the state confirmed to be free of fraud.

Since passage and signing of SB 202 last week, not one, but two lawsuits have been filed to try and block the law, charging that it violates both the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act (VRA), as the multiple civil and voting rights group plaintiffs allege the new voting restrictions are specifically designed to target minority voters. The President of the United States has subsequently described the law as "un-American", an "atrocity" and "Jim Crow in the 21st Century". Despite all of that, it ultimately could be the Major League Baseball Player's Association which ends up making a real difference in regards this new anti-democracy scheme. The players are reportedly deciding whether to demand this year's MLB All-Star Game, currently set for Atlanta in July, be moved to a different state if the law is not struck down.

At the same time, federal laws --- such as the For the People Act (H.R.1) or John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R.4) --- which would help protect against a number of the worst GOP voter suppression tactics now adopted by the Peach State and moving ahead in others where Republicans are considering similar measures, will not pass unless the undemocratic Jim Crow-era U.S. Senate Filibuster is, in some fashion, killed or reformed.

We're joined today by CAREN SHORT, Senior Voting Rights Attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center to discuss all of this. While her group has not yet joined either of the two federal lawsuits filed against Georgia's law, she suggests they are considering as much. In the meantime, she explains what she finds so devious about GA's racist new law, and whether or not the current lawsuits --- or even the Dept. of Justice --- may be able to reverse the worst of SB 202's attack on voters and voting in the state.

Among the issues we discuss with Short: Her views on the worst aspects of SB 202; Whether its possible to demonstrate a disproportionate affect on minority voters before an election is run with this new law in place; How the portion of the Voting Rights Act struck down by SCOTUS in 2013 would likely have prevented this entire bill from even being introduced in the first place; Whether the DoJ has grounds for filing suit themselves under still-standing portions of the VRA to protect Georgia voters; And how courts will determine whether FEARS of voter fraud (in the absence of same) is enough to justify taking rights already granted to voters away from them, among much more!

"You're right, there's a lot to be troubled about," she tells me at the top of our discussion. "This bill is troubling. It would really disenfranchise a lot of people in Georgia. Although it would apply equally to everyone, it is specifically targeted to harm black voters, brown voters, young people, voters with disabilities --- and it will do so."

"You mentioned that democracy is everyone's job. I could not agree more with that," Short says, when I ask what needs to be done to see the filibuster reformed in the U.S. Senate so that H.R.1 and H.R.4 can passed and become law. "These are our representatives. These are our policy makers. They represent what we want. ... We need democracy reform. We need transparency. We need fairness. We need protections for folks in the Deep South who are facing bills like the one in Georgia. This cannot stand. It cannot happen in my name as an American. We need to get involved. This is our moment. Call your friends who live in those states who are going to be needed for filibuster reform, if necessary. Some Democratic folks have said, 'failure is not an option.' And it's absolutely true."

Finally, with both good and worrying news about COVID (good, in that President Biden has announced vaccine distribution is moving ahead even quicker than previously hoped; worrying, in that the new CDC Director is "scared" with a sense of "impending doom" about the recent 16% rise in infections as mask mandates have been lifted in some states), we open up the phones for a quick call or two on all of this at the end of another important and lively hour...

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GA's new Senator appeals to our better angels to save our democracy...
By Ernest A. Canning on 3/27/2021 11:14am PT  

"A republic," Ben Franklin famously said, "if you can keep it."

After more than 230 years, the great American experiment --- constitutional democracy --- has arrived at a moment of grave national peril, once again testing Franklin's warning. Like the Confederates who fired on Fort Sumter at the outset of a bloody Civil War, a major segment of our polity today is being led by racist and seditious reactionaries --- "domestic enemies" of the very Constitution they solemnly swore to uphold and defend.

This unscrupulous lot call themselves "Republicans". Yet, they have absolutely nothing in common with the Party once led by Abraham Lincoln, an intellectual giant, who extolled the need to see that "government of the People, by the People and for the People shall not perish..."

The right to vote is foundational to all other rights. By way of more than 253 restrictive bills, introduced in 43 States, these elected autocratic "American Fascists" seek to strip that foundational right from millions of their fellow Americans.

The For the People Act of 2021, recently passed by Democrats in the House as H.R.1, is a comprehensive election, campaign, ethics and voting rights reform measure that would, among other things, eliminate partisan gerrymandering of Congressional Districts, curb dark money campaign contributions, and preempt many state-based GOP voter suppression and intimidation laws, schemes and tactics. The Senate version of the bill, S1, is co-sponsored by 49 of the chamber's 50 Democrats.

If, at this critical moment, all 50 Senate Democrats do not agree to eliminate the filibuster, at least for Voting Rights-related legislation, in order to pass S1 before the end of the year, a clear path will have been paved for the GOP to retake majority control of both Houses of Congress in 2022 and recapture the Presidency in 2024 through a combination of extreme partisan gerrymandering and surgically precise voter suppression.

What better moment for Georgia's freshman Democratic Senator, Reverend Raphael Warnock, to call upon our better angels to save our democracy in a maiden address on the Senate floor (see video and link to transcript below) that amounted to what has been aptly described as a "Voting Rights Speech for the Ages"...

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




Sec. of State Katie Hobbs speaks with Nicole Sandler; Also: Brad's recent interview with former FL Election Supervisor Ion Sancho, recounted...
By Desi Doyen on 3/26/2021 2:25pm PT  

We had planned for NICOLE SANDLER to fill in for us on today's BradCast, to share her exclusive interview this week with Arizona's Democratic Secretary of State. Unfortunately, Nicole got hit pretty hard after her second COVID vaccine shot, so she's been a bit under the weather (but getting much better!). However, she was kind enough to share the interview with us anyway so we could share it with you on today's program. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

In her conversation with Nicole, AZ's Sec. of State KATIE HOBBS, among other things, debunks false claims of "fraud" in the Grand Canyon State's successful 2020 Presidential election, where Joe Biden became the first Democrat to win the state on the Presidential level in several decades. The Grand Canyon State also elected Democrat Mark Kelly for the U.S. Senate last November. He joins AZ's Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, mirroring the case in Georgia, which also went "blue" for the first time in decades last year for Biden and elected two Dems to the U.S. Senate.

On Thursday night, Georgia's GOP rammed through sweeping new restrictions on voting that will curb voting rights and (as Brad discussed with Marilyn Marks of the Coalition for Good Governance earlier this week) allow the GOP-majority state legislature to undermine County Boards of Elections and even overturn election results, if they like. GA's former Republican Sec. of State and current Governor Brian Kemp signed the new anti-democracy measure last night almost immediately after it was passed in the Peach State's House and Senate at lightning speed on Thursday. Today, President Biden described the GA measure as an "atrocity".

On today's program, Hobbs speaks to similar efforts now under way by Arizona's GOP state lawmakers to roll back voting rights, including the state's popular mail-in voting options, despite last year's "very successful" election...or, perhaps, because of it. Hobbs describes the measures being pushed by state Republicans as "unprecedented" and "really dangerous in terms of voting rights, not just in Arizona but across the country."

She tells Nicole that these efforts, being sold in response to Donald Trump's evidence-free Big Lie that last year's election was stolen for Biden, are based on "a false premise. We do not have to make the choice between voter access and security. What we saw in the 2020 election proves that we can have both."

Finally today, in case you missed it previously or might like to hear it again, we revisit Brad's recent conversation from 3/15/2021 with Leon County, Florida's legendary, 30-year former Supervisor of Elections ION SANCHO on similar GOP efforts to roll back voting rights in the Sunshine State and in neighboring Georgia...

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Biden's first presser and filibuster reform; Good economic numbers, maddening COVID numbers; Death penalty banned in VA; NY finally goes to pot; GA undermines democracy; Senate GOP pretends vote suppression doesn't exist; Also: Oil and plastic...
By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2021 7:05pm PT  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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