On today's BradCast: MAGA dead-enders have found a way to continuing pretending the 2020 election was stolen from them in Arizona; it's now down to pretty much one Democrat in Congress who seems willing to take down Joe Biden and the Democratic party's entire agenda; and the lazy corporate media fall for another phony narrative, fed to them by police, to explain 2020's spike in killings across the country. Just another day making sense of the absurd. It's what we do.
First up, despite last week's hilariously embarrassing news for Donald Trump that his own Republican partisans hired by the Republican state Senate in Arizona to "audit" last year's election found that, yup, Trump lost to Biden as originally certified (and by an even larger margin), the disgraced former President is still lying to his supporters, claiming the audit found that he won. It didn't. But, at the same time, his supporters --- including perhaps the top wingnut website responsible for false reports of "fraud" in the 2020 election, Jim Hoft's Gateway Pundit --- are now circulating a phony "draft" of the Cyber Ninja's audit report. The fake report is being characterized as the "real" report by Hoft and friends. One of them, Matthew DePerno, a candidate for Michigan Attorney General(!) who Trump recently endorsed, posted it to Twitter claiming it was the "real " report from the Ninjas that RINOs in the GOP state Senate tried to "censure" [sic].
The fraudulent "draft" claims that the 2020 election in AZ "should not be certified," even though it already was, ten months ago, by the state's Republican Governor. A Ninjas spokesperson denies having anything to do with it, claims the very real looking "draft report" is "absolutely false", and "that it was not written by Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan, nor was [the call for decertification] in any version that was ever sent or shown to the [state] Senate for review."
Thankfully, Hoft, often referred to as the dumbest man on the Internet, isn't buying it! He and his site are furious that the national GOP and Republicans in Arizona are hiding the truth and "are working for the other side!" He's totally right! Hopefully Republican voters won't stand for it any longer and will vote all of them out of office next year to show 'em!
Next, from RINOs in Arizona, to DINOs in Arizona. Kyrsten Sinema, according to a number of her fellow Democrats today, seems to be the one --- even more than Joe Manchin --- holding up passage, and even negotiation, on the Build Back Better Act, the wildly popular $3.5 trillion sweeping social safety net and climate change legislation which is at the heart of the Biden agenda. It's also fully paid for by a small increase on taxes on corporations and the wealthy. While we covered the four pieces of legislation at the heart of what led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to describe this week as "a time of intensity" in some detail on yesterday's BradCast, I'll refer you to that one and today's show for all of the maddening details here. Though I will note that Sinema's (and Manchin's, to a slightly lesser extent) intransigence could result in both the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill failing to pass, along with the smaller, bipartisan infrastructure bill that Sinema was key to crafting with Republican Senators. She seems far more willing to negotiate with GOPers than with Congressional Dems in her own party, or even the Democratic President of the United States.
The result of all of this could be the death of both bills and Democratic hopes for success in 2022 along with it. But, it should be noted here, that even if Pelosi allows a House vote on the smaller, bipartisan infrastructure package that Sinema really wants to see passed this week (even though, unlike the larger package, it is not "paid for" and will increase the deficit that she and Republicans who support it claim to oppose), and even if it somehow is passed in the House (despite the Progressive Caucus vowing to vote against it), as Congressional expert Norm Ornstein explained on this program last week, Pelosi doesn't have to send it to the President until the reconciliation bill is passed as well. She can hold the smaller bill as long as she likes, according to Ornstein, who told us the Speaker never has to send it to the President's desk, if she doesn't feel like it.
Next, you may have seen the widely reported new statistics released by the FBI on Monday, finding an alarming spike in killings in the U.S., mostly with guns, during 2020. You may also have noticed that many of the stories on the new data --- from Washington Post, New York Times, NPR and others --- all referenced claims from police officials and academics who support them, that the record spike should be attributed, at least in part, to new policing rules and reticence by cops to take action following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year and the many others who were caught on tape being killed by the police.
Darn those "Defund the Police" activists whose outrageous advocacy has led to an historic spike in U.S. homicides!
Of course, that all appears to be bullshit, as explained by our guest today, CARL TAKEI, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU's Trone Center for Justice and Equality, where he litigates police practices. "This is a story that we have heard before," Takei explains. "It actually goes back to 2014, when then-St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson coined the term 'Ferguson Effect'" after the police killing of Michael Brown in Missouri that year, which sparked national outrage, weeks of protests and demands for police reform. "The 'Ferguson Effect', according to its proponents, means that police choose to be less proactive because protests against police hurt their feelings. And this decrease in proactivity then leads to a rise in homicides and other violent crimes."
"The problem with this is it doesn't make sense," says Takei. "Why would decreases in arrests of people for low-level offenses like pan-handling or passing bad checks --- using counterfeit bills, as George Floyd was accused of doing before he was murdered --- why would decreases in these kinds of arrests lead to more homicides? That's the unanswered question at the core of the 'Ferguson Effect' idea."
"Police, when it comes especially to serious violent offenses like homicide, are reactive," he argues. "They respond after the shooting has already taken place. And they don't actually have the ability to prevent gun violence. And that's why, over forty years of seeing crime go up and police budgets going up, and then crime going down but police budgets continuing to go up --- we have forty years of year-on-year increases in police budgets and we've seen that there's actually no relationship between how much we are funding the police and what is happening in terms of crime rates."
Takei tells me, "Police aren't actually able to address the root causes of crimes. Especially crimes like interpersonal violence, or crimes that come from economic distress, from mental health issues, drug dependence issues. All of that requires different tools. But we live in a country where oftentimes the first and only response to anything that's labeled as crime is 'give more money to the police.'"
So, to what does Takei attribute the largest one-year spike in murder and manslaughter since record keeping began on these statistics in the 1960s? And what should be done about it? Tune in to find out. But it is damned frustrating to see so many theoretically legitimate news outlets incuriously parroting these unsupported-at-best and arguably completely phony claims about violent crime.
Finally today, a bit of good crime-related news out of Los Angeles this week, where prosecutors have moved to expunge another nearly 60,000 marijuana-related convictions from the past three decades, some five years after California voters approved the use and sale of recreational cannabis...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)