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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, May 19, 2024
Sunday 'I Scream Cohen' Toons
THIS WEEK: Unethical Lying Sleazebags ... The Death of Satire ... Trains are Real ... And many more primal screams in our latest collection of the week's best toons...
FEC Repubs Vote to Allow Campaign Donor Anonymity: 'BradCast' 5/16/24
Guest: Public Citizen's Craig Holman; Also: Two (generally) encouraging SCOTUS rulings on CFPB funding and a second Black-majority U.S. House district in Louisiana...
'Green News Report' 5/16/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Canadian wildfires expand; Climate change exacerbated extreme heat in Asia; Broadcast media ignored Trump's billion dollar Big Oil quid pro quo; Plus: Biden v. China on EVs...
Previous GNRs: 5/14/24 - 5/9/24 - Archives...
Trump Trial Ketchup: Cohen, 'Smoking Gun', 'Cult of Trump': 'BradCast' 5/15/24
Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, attorney Keith Barber of Daily Kos; Also: MD, NE, WV primary results; Biden, Trump agree to early debates...
LAPD Right-Wing Bias in Violent Response to UCLA Protest Was No Surprise
U.S. law enforcement has long sided with the right against peaceful anti-war, environmental, racial and economic injustice protesters...
Could Ohio Repubs REALLY Keep Biden Off the Ballot?!: 'BradCast' 5/14/24
Also: GOP dirty tricks in WA; More GOP voter suppression in GA; Brighter news from WI and on the slow painful death of 'stare decisis'...
'Green News Report' 5/14/24
Canada's fire season erupts; Record-breaking increase in global CO2 levels; PLUS: MI is newest state to sue Big Oil for climate damages...
Recount in Tied House Primary Reveals Probs in CA Law: 'BradCast' 5/13/24
Guest: Dr. John Maa; Also: Bannon denied; Giuliani fired; Menendez trial begins; Cohen takes stand in Trump's NY criminal trial...
Sunday 'Stormy Weather Continues' Toons
THIS WEEK: Cannon Fire ... Catch and Kill ... Parasites ... Protesting Too Much ... and more, in our latest collection of the week's most turbulent toons...
'Green News Report' 5/9/24
Tornadoes across U.S.; FL Repubs ban 'climate change'; House Repubs' latest salvo in 'War on Woke Appliances'; PLUS: US culture shift in portrayal of climate reality...
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...


What did you THINK would happen?; Also: House GOP plans to crash economy over debt limit. We should believe them on that too...
By Brad Friedman on 1/17/2023 5:48pm PT  

Seriously, what did you think was eventually going to happen after years of Republicans being lied to that elections were being rigged against them? Lots to discuss on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

The shooting spree for now --- we hope --- has come to an end in Bernalillo County (Albuquerque) New Mexico with the arrest of a Trump fan boy and failed Republican state House candidate who lost his election last November by nearly 50 points. With the help of four others, he's allegedly been shooting at the houses of local and state Democratic elected officials over the past month and a half. He was finally nabbed on Monday night. Luckily, no one was killed in the at least four houses he visited and targeted.

Today, we tell the story and detail how elections work in the state (after their disastrous use of touchscreens back in 2000, they now use hand-marked paper ballots tallied by computer tabulators with results confirmed, theoretically, by hand-counted, post-election audits); how the shooter should have been more of a concern much earlier (even before Republicans nominated this dude who only recently ended a 7-year prison sentence); and the fact that none of what happened over the past coupla months in the state's most populous Dem-leaning County should really have come as a surprise. After more than two years of Donald Trump lying about "rigged" elections --- and the state Republican party lying along with him --- it's almost more surprising that this hasn't happened sooner.

It was, as Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller observed at a news conference on Monday night after the arrest, "what we had all feared and what we had suspected --- that these shootings were indeed politically motivated." He correctly added: "They were dangerous attacks not only to these individuals … but, fundamentally, also to democracy. ... This was about a rightwing radical, an election denier ... And someone who did the worst imaginable thing you can do when you have a political disagreement, which is turn that to violence."

And, in another example today of why, when Republicans tell us what they are going to do, we should believe them: the GOP economic terrorists in the U.S. House, as Washington Post reported on Friday, are now making plans for crashing the nation's (and world's) economy by refusing to increase the U.S. debt limit this year.

Hopefully, there will be a large enough handful of not-insane Republicans in the House to work with Dems to raise it in order to pay for what the U.S. (Congress and Presidents of both parties) have already bought, so that we can avoid a first-ever default of U.S. Government debt payments. But, even the dangerous game that the hard-right, radical extremist Republicans are preparing for could send markets --- and the credit rating of the U.S. --- plummeting. As TPM's Josh Marshall smartly headlined a short item on some of these points over the weekend, paraphrasing an infamously ignored Presidential Daily Briefing from August of 2001: "House GOP Determined to Strike US".

Finally, with the seemingly endless storms in California finally ended, for now, we're back to the continuing water woes in the U.S. West. And it's not looking good for Arizona right now. Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report on that and U.S. solar manufacturing seeing a massive boost, thanks to legislation passed by Dems and signed by President Biden last year (and opposed by all Congressional Republicans); and Exxon scientists from the 70s, sadly, are proven to have been exactly right in their warnings about climate change. Unfortunately, Exxon paid millions to make sure you never heard about those warnings...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Public Citizen's competition policy expert Matt Kent; Also: House GOP's dangerous debt default gambit may come sooner than expected...
By Brad Friedman on 1/11/2023 6:24pm PT  

If you can get through the troubling news at the top of today's BradCast, we've got far more encouraging news beyond it! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, the dangerous GOP scheme to use the need to raise the nation's borrowing limit to hold the nation's economy hostage, may come sooner than expected this year. The debt ceiling will have to be raised this year so that we can cover the cost of stuff that Congress and Presidents have already committed to paying for. But, if hardline Republicans who now control the House and its Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, carry out their threats, bumping into our current debt ceiling could place the nation on the brink of the first default of the federal government in U.S. history. Immediate market crashes and millions of layoffs could follow, along with a national and/or global recession and/or depression in the bargain.

According to AP today, the federal government could run out of money as early as this week or as late as March. After that, they will institute "extraordinary measures" to continue paying our bills as long as possible. But unless Congress adopts another increase in the debt ceiling (which is never a problem when a Republican is in the White House) a default could occur as soon as mid-summer. Given the promises made by McCarthy to the hardliners in his caucus last week, in order to win the Speakership on the 15th ballot, this could all get very dangerous very quickly. Especially given the way Republican extremists carry out "negotiations" in the modern age.

Beyond that, we've got some much better news today as we turn our eyes toward Executive Actions and those by Executive Branch agencies to move the nation forward while the GOP brings legislative progress to a screeching halt. On that front, while Joe Biden vowed to be the most labor friendly President in U.S. history (granted, a pretty low bar), his Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair, progressive Lina Khan, is working hard to help him keep the promise.

Last month, more than two dozen consumer advocacy groups and labor unions sent a letter to Khan and the other FTC Commissioners asking them to quickly begin the process to create a new rule that would ban the use of non-compete contracts by employers. "Employers’ use of non-compete clauses inflict real and substantial harms on the American worker and the overall U.S. economy without any legitimate justification," the groups argued. "By limiting worker’s mobility, non-competes drive down wages, reduce the formation of new businesses and keep workers stuck in unsafe or hostile workplaces. These one-sided contracts can also unfairly restrain competition in downstream markets by allowing dominant firms to hold on to specialized workers --- think of monopolistic hospitals and surgeons."

Last week, the FTC did precisely as asked, kicking off the rule-making process to ban such contract clauses in all 50 states! Today, we're joined by MATT KENT, competition policy advocate at Public Citizen, one of the letter's signatories, to discuss what his organization described last week as "thrilling" news.

"Non-compete clauses are built into employment contracts to require employees to not work against an employer," Kent tells me. "This was originally used as something for higher level senior executive types, to prevent them from going from boardroom to boardroom. Over the decades, employers realized this was a useful tactic in depressing workers' wages by taking away their leverage to move to another company."

He explains that such clauses are now common for everything from food-service workers to security guards. "In a lot of cases, folks would move to another job only to find out that their former employer was suing them for violating a non-compete, to make an example [of them], and put the fear into workers [and] cut down on their mobility. It's become a major problem."

The text of the FTC's newly proposed rule is "very encouraging," Kent says. "When you do this work, you're ready for disappointment. So we were expecting to see a proposal from the FTC with common carve-outs and exceptions." Instead, they got just about everything they asked for. Nonetheless, changes to the final rule "could still happen. That's the battle ahead of us now at the FTC. But we are very, very excited by the fact that, as proposed right now, the FTC does not include any carve-outs or special exceptions that Big Business could really exploit."

Because of that, he warns, "the business community is going to come hard for this one" both in the courts and during the public comment period which is now open. "The FTC needs to hear from the public," he implores. "More people than you think have a story about someone who has been stuck in a bad situation with a non-compete. People feel afraid to talk about them because they're worried about employer retribution," Kent notes. "But people have the ability to comment anonymously. People who have experiences with non-compete clauses in an employment contract affecting them or their family, now is the time to communicate that to the FTC as they make this rule, because public support is going to be really important."

Also in my conversation today with Kent: Why this rule-making process must be finished quickly to avoid the possibility of the regulation being overturned through the Congressional Review Act after the 2024 elections; excitement among the progressive and labor community about Khan's appointment as FTC Chair; the possibility of revitalizing long-moribund, anti-trade, anti-competition, anti-monopoly laws like the Sherman and Clayton Acts; and whether it's possible or not to find common ground with some members of the Republican right who claim to be troubled by overly-powerful corporate control of everything from Big Tech to Big Grocery...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Evacuations, flooding in CA; Brazil's MAGA-style coup; Prosecutors in GA, MI move closer to Trump/2020 accountability; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 1/9/2023 6:13pm PT  

It's our first call-in show of the new year on today's BradCast, but we've got a lot of news to get to as well first. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among the bevy of stuff covered on today's program...

  • Thousands in California face mandatory evacuations due to flooding and possible mudslides, with emergency declarations by the state's Governor and President Biden for more than a dozen counties. Some 8 inches of rain drenched some areas over the past 12 hours. A line of repeated deluges are expected to slam the otherwise drought-stricken state over the next week or more.
  • Over the weekend, thousands stormed government buildings in Brazil in a January 6, MAGA-style insurrection in support of former President Jair Bolsonaro who recently lost his election to former Brazilian President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (known simply as "Lula" by his countrymen). Bolsonaro has taken refuge near Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago in Florida, as nearly 1,500 of his supporters were rounded up and arrested after Sunday's attempted coup. Democratic leadership in the White House and Congress condemned the attempt to undermine the peaceful transfer of power in Brazil. Republican leadership had yet to say a word as of airtime today.
  • Speaking of Republican "leadership", GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy gave away the store to his farther right wing late on Friday to finally win the House Speakership after an embarrassing 15 rounds of voting. But at what cost? We discuss a number of his concessions, what they are likely to mean for McCarthy and his party, and for the rest of us going forward, with nation's debt ceiling and much more hanging in the balance. McCarthy's late night victory on Friday, January 6th 2023 (and into the early Saturday morning hours) came two years to the day after the Trump-incited insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. It also came on the evening after Republicans failed to turn out for the second-year anniversary memorial, recognition event on the Capitol steps for 140 law enforcement officials who were injured or died during and after the Republican riot. During McCarthy's acceptance speech as Speaker, he also vowed to defund federal law enforcement. His GOP colleagues cheered in response.
  • As the 118th Congress finally got under way on Monday, Republicans are expected to use their very slim majority to investigate Joe Biden's family and the so-called "weaponization of the federal government" against Twitter and other social media outlets...ironically enough, from during the time that Trump controlled the FBI. As explained on today's show today briefly (and I suspect we'll have to offer more details in the weeks and months ahead), claims being made by the liars on the Right (and a few misled and/or confused folks on the Left, sadly) that "Twitter was paid to practice censorship by the government and ban people the government did not like," is evidence-free nonsense. But you'll be hearing a lot of those false claims, as based on the so-called "Twitter Files" they misleadingly cite as evidence. That, even though the files in question, at least to date, reveal nothing of the sort.
  • Relatedly, at least one of the far-right Freedom Caucus Members, its chair, Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), hopes to sit on a new Congressional Committee to investigate the federal investigators probing Donald Trump's many crimes related to his attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election and his theft of classified White House documents. That, even though Perry has had his phone confiscated as evidence by the FBI and faces potential criminal charges for his role in the J6 insurrection. He sees no conflict of interest in sitting on that Congressional panel.
  • In Michigan on Friday, Attorney General Dana Nessel, tired of waiting for the Feds to act, has announced plans to reopen her own investigation into the fake electors plot in her state after referring the matter to the U.S. Dept. of Justice one year ago.
  • And in Georgia, the Special Grand Jury convened by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has now wrapped up its work. According to a state judge, they have delivered their report on who, if anyone, should be indicted in the broad conspiracy led by Donald Trump and many of his top supporters to strong-arm state officials into overturning the election he lost there in 2020. Special Grand Juries in the state may not issue not issue indictments. So Willis must now decide if she wishes to seek indictments from a regular grand jury, and the judge overseeing the matter must decide if the Special Grand Jury's report should be publicly released, as they have requested.
  • Finally, callers ring in on all of the above and more for the first time since the turn of the new year!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Philly Inquirer's Will Bunch; Also: Repubs fail to elect Speaker on 13th ballot; Biden awards cops who defended Capitol, election officials who defended democracy...
By Brad Friedman on 1/6/2023 6:24pm PT  

It's January 6 again, so our "weird annual tradition," as our guest describes it today, continues on The BradCast. Sadly, so does the GOP's continuing threat to American democracy, two years after the deadly assault at the U.S. Capitol. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

First up, it is also Day 4 of the House Republicans' failures to select a Speaker. There were some breakthroughs for GOP leader Kevin McCarthy on Friday, however, after 13 unsuccessful ballots (for the first time in 134 years). His desperation to give away pretty much everything in exchange for winning the weakest Speakership in history earned him another 15 votes or so from his GOP opponents. And, with that, he was finally able to get more votes than Democratic House leader Hakeem Jeffries. Nonetheless, he was still shy of a majority as we went to air today. So, the "Never Kevins" are still winning the day and the 118th Congress is still unable to get underway.

As one Democratic member, elected last November for a third term, noted about his time, so far, in Congress: "1st term started with a GOP-led govt shutdown. 2nd term started with a deadly insurrection incited by the former Republican president. And my 3rd term has yet to begin due to @HouseGOP’s failure to elect a speaker. Notice a pattern?"

All of this on the second anniversary of the deadly, Donald Trump-incited insurrection at the U.S. Capitol back in 2021, as one of his last, desperate, failed attempts to steal the Presidency from the American people.

A memorial was held by House Democrats outside the Capitol today, in remembrance of those law enforcement officials who lost their lives while, and just after, defending it on January 6, 2021. We observed no Republicans at the ceremony.

At the White House, President Biden marked the occasion by awarding 14 individuals with the Presidential Citizens Medal. The awardees including three law enforcement officials who lost their lives and five who were critically injured that day. Also, a collection of bipartisan election officials, poll workers and others who defended the 2020 election at great personal threat, after being personally targeted by the former President of the United States and his supporters were honored as well. We share an excerpt from Biden's remarks today on the need to continue defending democracy and recognizing those who "stand watch" over it.

Finally, our "weird annual tradition" of visiting with the author and longtime Philadelphia Inquirer national columnist WILL BUNCH on January 6 continues today. He was with us on the program as the Capitol was under attack back in 2021, initially to talk about a different insurrection of sorts by Republicans at the state Senate in Pennsylvania.

Today was the third January 6 in a row he was able to be with us, and we focused today on the still-missing accountability for the ringleaders of the 1/6/21 attack, and on his latest column tying together that assault on democracy with this past week's GOP chaos and failure to select a Speaker in the U.S. House. They are all, it seems, of a piece, suggests Bunch, noting "the irony of this going on during the January 6 anniversary."

"No matter what sound minds want to get done, this band of obstructionists is in control," he argues. Citing them as "the spoiled children of Trumpism," Bunch says, "I would call them nihilists. They really believe in nothing other than their own air time, raising their own profile."

"Everybody in this [GOP House] leadership group voted to throw out people's votes in the 2020 election," Bunch, a resident of Pennsylvania, whose vote they tried to steal from him on January 6, 2021, notes. And it's not only those who tried to undermine democracy two years ago who have still failed to be held accountable. "The five freshmen who voted against McCarthy all ran as Trumpified election deniers."

"I mean, is it against the law to overthrow the government or not?," Bunch quips today, only somewhat rhetorically.

"The common thread is minority rule," he goes on to observe. "They believe they have some kind of divine right. It's really linked to these hierarchies of American life --- white supremacy, or white privilege, the patriarchy and other things. Running for office as the protectors of that. You're not going to do anything affirmatively to help people. You're just going to stop these people you see as destroyers of your way of life, your culture. It doesn't matter who gets the most votes, because the culture is more important than democracy. I think that motivates these people."

We discuss all of that and much more, as both Bunch and I share our frustration and hope that those who created all of these messes may finally face accountability some day soon...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Dems outmaneuver Repubs to elect state House Speakers in PA and OH; And, our first 'Green News Report' of the new year...
By Brad Friedman on 1/5/2023 5:56pm PT  

The last time multiple ballots were needed for any party to elect a House Speaker, a century ago in 1923, it took nine ballots to settle the matter. Today, before we got off the air from today's BradCast, Republican leader Kevin McCarthy had failed to secure a majority on the eleventh ballot. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Not all hope is lost. There's still the all-time record of 133 ballots over two months in 1855-1856 that today's Republican Party has yet to break. Give them time.

So, the 118th U.S. Congress has not yet been gavelled into existence. But that's not the only place where Republicans seem to be tripping over their own legislative [bleeps].

On today's program...

  • Up-to-the-minute coverage of the madness and idiocy of Day 3 in the Republican-led House; how the 20 far-right anti-McCarthyites are shooting themselves and their party in the foot; what McCarthy has already given away (pretty much everything) in his still-failed effort to win them over; how Trump may be the biggest loser of all here; the Democratic Party's continuing unified support for leader Hakeem Jeffries (the lead vote-getter, with 212 votes, on each and every ballot to date); why all of this is important and the dangers ahead; a reminder of what the nation is now missing without Dems in control of the chamber; and the question of whether Dems should help McCarthy win the Speakership in exchange for a promise to raise the debt ceiling to avoid a national and potentially global depression, as suggested by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA).
  • In Pennsylvania on Thursday, Democratic Gov.-Elect Josh Shapiro tapped former Philadelphia city commissioner and election official, Al Schmidt, a Republican, to serve as Sec. of the Commonwealth.
  • Also in the Keystone State this week, Democrats in the State House have out-maneuvered Republicans to seat a House Speaker. In a surprise victory last November, Dems won back the majority from the GOP for the first time in a decade, but only by one seat. Then, one Democratic member died and two others vacated their seats for higher office. Until special elections to fill those three seats can be scheduled, both parties were claiming the majority and the right to run the House, set the legislative agenda, and schedule the special elections, which will likely result in a clear majority for the Dems after they are finally held. But Dems were able to win over some Republican votes to elect one of their own as Speaker in a surprise victory this week.
  • In another surprise victory for Democrats, this time in the very Republican Ohio state House, Democrats out-maneuvered the GOP again by voting en masse with a group of Republicans to elect a more moderate Speaker than the one the GOP had chosen as their leader just last month. The power struggle comes in the wake of a still-unfolding racketeering scandal for the GOP as the state's former Republican House Speaker, Larry Householder, begins a federal trial this month with his co-defendant, the former Chair of the Ohio Republican Party, regarding $61 million in alleged bribes to pass legislation to help bail out energy giant, FirstEnergy.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our first Green News Report of the new year, with a ton of stuff we missed over our holiday break, and a bunch of stuff that has happened since our return, including the roll out of billions of dollars in infrastructure upgrades and new incentives for consumers to move to clean, renewable energy, as adopted when Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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

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Guest: Data researcher Tom Bonier of TargetSmart; Also: Hilarious Republican failure to select a House Speaker continues into Day 2...
By Brad Friedman on 1/4/2023 5:59pm PT  

As the ingenious GOP on GOP rebellion continues in the U.S. House today, we cover that and some clarifying new insights from the 2022 elections regarding the "red wave" that never came (as we long told you it wouldn't) on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Day 2 of the GOP Rebellion Without Any Actual Cause That I Know Of continued on Wednesday, with Republicans failing on Ballots 4, 5 and 6 to secure a majority of votes of those present and voting for any candidate for House Speaker. The Democratic nominee on every ballot, their new leader Hakeem Jeffries, continued to be the top vote-getter in every round, receiving a unified 212 votes on each ballot.

On the GOP side, their leader Kevin McCarthy received just 201 votes on each of Wednesday's three ballots, down one vote from the third vote yesterday and still well shy of the 218 votes needed for a majority. The new trick today from the Republican "rebels" was nominating African-American second-term back-bencher Byron Donalds of Florida to be Speaker even though (or, perhaps, because?) he pleaded guilty to felony bribery charges back in 2000 in a scheme to defraud a bank. A bit on-brand for today's GOP but otherwise perfect for the job!

There were a few tiny nuances and the slightest movement (away from McCarthy and toward the Gaetz/Boehbert-led rebel group of 20) in the afternoon's three rounds of voting. We'll see what, if anything, happens when they reconvene for an evening session at 8pm ET on Wednesday night. (They just reconvened. The GOP moved to adjourn until Thursday at noon, and won that chaotic vote by the barest of margins.)

But, hey, so far, for two days in a row, the GOP House has been unable to do any legislative damage to the country!

Next, it's on to our guest today, the great TOM BONIER, master Tweeter and CEO of the Democratic data research firm, TargetSmart. Bonier joined us on the program a number of times since late last summer, in the run-up to the 2022 elections and in the days that followed. He was one of very few publicly on record (along with Simon Rosenberg of New Democrat Network) who presented hard data that correctly countered the false "red wave" narrative promulgated in the months before last year's November midterms.

Over the weekend, the New York Times ran a 4,000-word analysis headlined "The 'Red Wave' Washout: How Skewed Polls Fed a False Election Narrative". It explores no small amount of what we'd been trying to tell you since early last spring. Namely, that Democrats were likely to do much better than both history and professional pundits were telling you, and that, as Bonier and Rosenberg detailed in the face of mockery by some last year, the polls late in the season were actually misleading voters.

Specifically, as the paper reports, beginning in September last year, a bevy of partisan Republican polls with dodgy methodology were released, almost all suggesting the GOP was on the verge of not only a "red wave" election but a "red tsunami". The partisan numbers, cited with great excitement by rightwing media outlets initially and then by non-rightwing media, seemed to conflict with polls from most legitimate, nonpartisan polling outfits. But the public release of a ton of partisan polling served to game the polling averages at highly-trafficked forecast sites like 538 and RealClearPolitics. More disturbingly, the skewed numbers resulted in Democratic campaigns changing strategies and spending in hopes of shoring up otherwise safe seats, while abandoning races --- such as U.S. Senate contests in Wisconsin, Ohio and North Carolina and a bunch of House districts around the country --- that were almost certainly otherwise winnable.

Why did this happen? Was it a concerted strategy by Republicans to game the public polling averages? And, if so, why did the supposed polling gatekeepers --- like Nate Silver at 538, who dismissed and mocked folks like Bonier and Rosenberg for relying on "hopium" in their accurate data analysis --- fail to protect against the partisan manipulation? Also, while the Times analysis suggests otherwise, did those false numbers actually serve to goose Dem turnout in some races last year?

In short, when I ask Bonier directly today if Republicans figured out last year how to game the polling averages, he responds, "Yes. Simply, yes. That's what happened. And it couldn't have happened without others playing along with it and empowering it."

"In the end, they were successful," he tells me. "Were they successful to the point where they were able to create a red wave? No. But they were successful to the point where Republicans won some races that I don't think they would have without this happening."

So, what to do about it moving forward? We dig into details on that and much more with Bonier today, and also get his insight into whatever the hell is going on in the Republicans' dumpster fire failure to select a House Speaker to begin the 118th U.S. Congress after two days (and counting) of trying...

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GOP-majority House adjourns after failing to elect Speaker; Also: AZ's A.G. recount ends, Dems take statewide office in previously 'red' state...
By Brad Friedman on 1/3/2023 5:46pm PT  

Well, we're back on today's BradCast --- like it or not --- after our holiday break, with a head cold (but not COVID) and a doozy of a day in Washington D.C.! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

For the first time in 100 years, the party in charge of the U.S. House --- which would theoretically now be the Republicans --- adjourned on the first day of the new, 118th Congress without electing a House Speaker.

After three ballots in which he failed to win the 218 votes needed, Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California actually lost one of his votes on the third ballot to Republican Jim Jordan. The Ohio right-winger received 20 votes in the third round of voting, even after he had actually been the one to nominate McCarthy on the second round. And even after McCarthy had desperately attempted to broker deals for votes up until this afternoon.

On all three ballots, Democrats remained unified behind their new leader, Hakeem Jeffries of New York. He received 212 votes to McCarthy's 203 in the first and second round. McCarthy won only 202 on the last ballot before Republicans decided to adjourn for the day and regroup before trying again tomorrow. While Jeffries won more votes than anyone else on all three ballots, a majority of members present and voting is required to win the Speakership. That number today --- and presumably tomorrow --- is 218.

Without a Speaker, no business in the House can proceed. Given the silly business planned by the GOP majority in the House, that's no great loss. Back in December of 1855 it took until February of 1856 for a speaker to be chosen. But since the Civil War, there has only been one time until today --- way back in 1923 --- that the majority party was unable to elect a Speaker without multiple ballots. It remains to be seen how long it will now take Republicans to select a Speaker this time, as at least 20 GOP "rebels", led by Florida's Rep. Matt Gaetz, appear to be "Never Kevins" for the time being, with no particular Plan B in sight.

House Dems, of course, are eating it all up, as they should. We'll see how it goes tomorrow.

Also today, we catch up with a few items we missed while away over the holidays. Specifically, some of the remaining statewide contests in Arizona, one of which was still somewhat up-in-the-air before we left in the formerly "red" state.

Over the holidays, the GOP's gubernatorial candidate and Donald Trump "Mini-me", Kari Lake, saw her election challenge dismissed by a Maricopa County Superior Court Judge after she was certified to have lost by some 12,000 votes out of more than 2.5 million cast. Her victorious opponent, Democrat Katie Hobbs, was sworn in as the state's new Governor on New Years Day after receiving a generous hand-written note of welcome from her not-insane Republican predecessor, Gov. Doug Ducey.

But the incredibly tight Attorney General's race in the Grand Canyon State was still facing an automatic recount through the holidays after Democrat Kristin Mayes was certified as having defeated 2020 election denier Abe Hamadeh by just 511 votes.

At year's end, the state's mostly machine-recount wrapped up, with Mayes remaining victorious over the Republican by 280 votes. That's actually a fairly sizeable vote shift for a machine-recount, with most of the changes being attributed to "human error" in the original count in Republican-heavy Pinal County.

Hamadeh, like Lake, vows to continue to challenge the results. Nonetheless, Democrats in the state were sworn in to office for Governor, Sec. of State and Attorney General on January 1. Arizona's Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Kelly was sworn in for his first full six-year term today in D.C. after also winning election in the state in November, as the fall-out and disarray from the Trump Era for Republicans continues from D.C. to Phoenix and beyond.

Happy New Year!

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Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton joins us for our final show of 2022...
By Brad Friedman on 12/20/2022 6:54pm PT  

Before our Holiday Hiatus, we wrap up the year on today's BradCast with a look both back and forward along with one of our favorite regular guests. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, first up today, I've noticed a number of folks from what I describe as the Left's "Contrarian Industrial Complex" --- comprised of some of the same folks who, like most of the Right, also fell for Trump's cons about Russia, COVID, 2020 election fraud, etc. --- now falling for the many new cons and lies being propagated by Latter Day Trump, Elon Musk, on Twitter.

The continuing public prat falls from the world's previously richest man (at least until he bought Twitter for about $30 billion more than it was worth, began driving it into the ground, along with the stock price of Tesla) are too numerous and ridiculous to detail here tonight. But one of Musk's latest and greatest scams at his social media site since since taking it over and blowing it all up deserves quick notice today. Specifically, the scam that resulted in Musk's temporary "permanent suspension" of a number of top journalists late last week, including recent in-studio BradCast guest, Steve Herman of Voice of America.

As you probably know, those suspensions happened as part of the fallout from what Musk described as a stalker incident that threatened him and/or his family. He blamed it on a Twitter account that tracks the whereabouts of his private jet based on publicly available data. He likened the posting of that information as "assassination coordinates" and then banned journalists from Twitter who had simply reported on his original suspension of the @ElonJet account.

As it turns out, however, Washington Post dug into the story over the weekend to report that the original incident appears to have had absolutely nothing to do with that Twitter account. Two of its journalists, both of whom had also been suspended by Musk, report that the incident between the alleged stalker and a member of Musk's security team actually "took place at a gas station 26 miles from Los Angeles International Airport and 23 hours after the @ElonJet account had last located the jet’s whereabouts."

Moreover, The Guardian reports today that Musk's tweet about the "crazy stalker" who supposedly followed a car carrying one of his children, may have been even more misleading than previously known. According to their report of a statement obtained from the South Pasadena Police Department, "a member of Elon Musk’s security team is currently a suspect in the investigation, not a victim."

The full story --- and its subsequent fallout, including Musk holding a poll on his Twitter account on Sunday in which a majority of users voted for him to step down as Chief Twit --- is sort of the perfectly insane way to end 2022. Whether at the social media site at year's end or in the U.S. House of Representatives next month, when the GOP is set to regain a slim majority, "the inmates have literally taken over the asylum," as our guest notes today.

We're joined for our final show of the year by old friend, award-winning Salon columnist and Hullabaloo's OG blogger HEATHER DIGBY PARTON. She's been with us for post-game analysis following every single one of this year's ten or so hearings held by the bipartisan House Select Committee investigating the January 6th, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and the former President's many failed attempts to steal the 2020 Presidential election from the American people. She joins us once again today for that and more.

Among the topics of today's lively discussion...

  • The House J6 Committee's unprecedented referral of a former U.S. President on four criminal charges, including Insurrection, to the U.S. Dept. of Justice at their final hearing on Monday;
  • The critical importance to the nation of real accountability for Donald Trump;
  • Whether potential criminal charges against him will hurt or help his political fortunes for 2024;
  • The extraordinary success of the House J6 Committee as its mission comes to a close along with this session of Congress;
  • Whether GOP House leader Kevin McCarthy will actually be able to close the deal this time and win the Speakership in 2023 among his fractured caucus (and what may happen if his caucuses asylum inmates have their way);
  • What we should expect from the Democrats' new leader in the House, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries;
  • And how to make any sense at all of Elon Musk and his ever-increasing Twitter madness.

Finally, Desi Doyen delivers what is also our final Green News Report of 2022, with all of the good news and bad (even at holiday time!), that you've come to expect from the nation's preeminent, twice-weekly, six-minute environmental radio news feature.

Please enjoy the show. We'll see you next year. And here's to a happy and healthy holiday season for all and perhaps a less insane 2023...though I wouldn't count on it...

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Guest: GA election integrity expert, observer Jeanne Dufort; Also: Dems unite behind new House leadership; Bills passed to help avert rail strike; Meadows ordered to testify in GA...
By Brad Friedman on 11/30/2022 6:24pm PT  

As early voting records are smashed and lines are obscenely long once again in advance of Tuesday's U.S. Senate Runoff Election Day, today's BradCast offers a maddening reminder of why we've been covering Georgia elections, in such detail, for so many years. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Thanks to state Republicans who cut the time for runoff elections by more than half after the 2020 elections, voters across the GA are now forced to wait in hours-long lines to vote early this week in the contest between incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Trump-backed former football player and unapologetic liar Herschel Walker. While early voting records are being broken, as we detailed yesterday, much of that is thanks to the GOP's SB202 voter suppression bill [PDF], adopted last year by the state legislature, supported by its Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger and signed by its Republican Governor Brian Kemp.

Where Peach State voters had as many as 17 early voting days in the November 8 elections, they now have no more than 7. And with the compressed time between the general and the runoff, few are able to request, receive and return absentee mail ballots in time. Instead, voters are now being forced to stand in line to vote at polling places on the state's 100% unverifiable touchscreen computer voting systems.

We're joined today to discuss that and much more by longtime election integrity champion JEANNE DUFORT of the Coalition for Good Governance. Dufort has served as Georgia election observer for many years, representing both the Democratic and Libertarian Parties at various times in the Peach State's rural, Republican-leaning Morgan County. She is also a named plaintiff (Full Disclosure: Along with me!) in the Coalition's lawsuit challenging several of the many disturbing provisions of SB202.

Dufort offers insight today from on the ground on how things went for voters on November 8, with most of SB202's voting restrictions in place; why it's now so difficult to vote there once again in the runoff; and why voters should be concerned about the ability to know if results reported next week by Raffensperger's insecure and unverifiable touchscreen systems --- forced on voters at every polling place, instead of verifiable hand-marked paper ballots! --- will actually reflect the intent of state voters.

"You can break all the daily [early voting] records that you want and still not have enough capacity for everybody who wants to vote," she explains. "All of the bottlenecks are at check-in. They haven't been able to figure out how to get enough check-in stations to get 17 days-worth of early voting, plus people who would prefer to vote by mail but don't think they can" into the short early voting period now allotted by SB202. "Compressing all that into these seven days is ten pounds in a five pound sack."

In addition to check-in bottlenecks, the computerized voting systems don't make any of it easier or faster, particularly in an election with one single race on most ballots across the state. "It would be faster if they handed them a ballot and just marked it. That would be faster than putting the card into the machine, bringing it up, tabbing through the things, do the check and waiting for the printer. It's just stupid. When you think about marking a ballot by a pen and then watch the process on a machine, it seems amazing that somebody would spend $3,000 on a machine to do what a $1 pen would do. But here we are."

As usual, there is much much more to discuss with Dufort about all of this today!

Also on today's program...

  • "Dems in array!" In a rare display of unity on the left, House Democrats voted unanimously on Wednesday for their new leadership beginning in January. New York's Rep. Hakeem Jeffries will be the first black American to head up a major political party in Congress, taking the reigns following Nancy Pelosi's historic tenure as she and the rest of the party's longtime leadership team step aside to allow a new, younger generation to take over. All of that by way of contrast with the chaos on the GOP side and whether Rep. Kevin McCarthy will be able to muster enough votes from his own caucus to become the new Republican House Speaker next year.
  • With Pelosi still serving as Speaker in the lame duck session of Congress, the House passed two bills today to try and help avert a rail strike that would cripple the nation's economy. With 4 of 12 rail unions opposing a new contract negotiated with the help of the White House in September --- granting a 24% pay raise to workers, but failing to allow for paid sick days --- a bipartisan bill would force the agreement to be adopted. A second bill passed by all Democrats and only three Republicans in the House on Wednesday would mandate seven paid sick days per year. Whether either measure can now be passed in the Senate, where approval by 10 Republicans would be needed to overcome a filibuster, remains to be seen.
  • And, in a unanimous three-paragraph ruling late Tuesday, the South Carolina Supreme Court ordered Trump's last Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, to testify before the Special Grand Jury in Atlanta convened by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to probe the Trump-lead conspiracy to strong-arm GA election officials into changing the 2020 results in his favor. Meadows argued he didn't have to testify due to executive privilege. SC's Supreme Court tersely responded in their order: "We have reviewed the arguments raised by [Meadows] and find them to be manifestly without merit." Ouch...

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Guest: Dr. Allison Gill of 'Mueller, She Wrote'; Also: Pelosi leaves Dem leadership; GOP secures House majority; Bass wins L.A. Mayor...
By Brad Friedman on 11/17/2022 6:10pm PT  

There are just too many crimes. Next time we'll need to plan a longer BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

We're not yet beyond the 2022 elections. Votes are still being tallied and races still being called. Only last night, media outlets finally were able to project the GOP would win back a majority in the U.S. House next year, if barely, and that progressive Rep. Karen Bass would be the winner of the Los Angeles Mayoral race over billion real estate developer Rick Caruso. Of course, the fallout from the election will continue for a while. Today, two-time Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi --- love her or hate her, one of the most effective Speaker's in history --- announced that, while she plans to remain in Congress, she will not seek a leadership role next session. The first women to hold that job said during floor remarks today, that she is passing the torch to a new generation.

Most notably, however --- at least when it comes to accountability for the most corrupt man likely to ever hold public office in this nation, much less as President of the United States --- actual 2022 midterm voting continues as well, in the December 6th U.S. Senate runoff in Georgia.

That means the Dept. of Justice guidelines barring overt action in politically-related cases during the 60-day window prior to elections is likely still in effect. But even after the GA runoff on December 6th, as our friend Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel recently explained, "Merrick Garland hasn't done the specific thing you want because DoJ has been busy doing things they have to do first." In other words, before federal indictments can be brought against Donald Trump, as many (yours truly included) are eager to see, there remains a lot of legal work that must be done in order to ensure that any such indictments result in actual convictions.

Our guest today is DR. ALLISON GILL of the notorious "Mueller, She Wrote" Twitter account and podcast, which tracks the many (seemingly endless) criminal and civil cases and investigations under way against the disgraced former President about as closely as anyone in the country. She agrees that patience remains a virtue in these cases. Depending on the case, as she explains today, we are looking at a matter of weeks to a matter of months before indictments can be brought against Trump. Though she does believe they are coming and that his announcement this week that he is running again in 2024 provides no protection against prosecution in any of these cases.

As we begin to move beyond the midterms, today seemed a good day to touch base with Gill to help us try and reset where things are regarding to the many ongoing criminal and civil probes, indictments and lawsuits still bearing down on Trump. To be honest, we've lost track of some of them in recent weeks as we'd moved largely full time to 2022 election coverage.

Those pending cases include (but are not limited to):

  • The New York state criminal tax fraud trial currently underway against the Trump Organization and its CFO Allen Weisselberg, as brought by Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg;
  • Bragg's New York state criminal investigation into bank, tax and insurance fraud by Trump himself, as seemingly abandoned earlier this year, but which could be revived following the trial against his company;
  • The $250 million New York state civil lawsuit for bank, tax and insurance fraud against Trump, his company, and his three oldest kids, Don Jr., Eric and Ivanka, filed by NY A.G. Letitia James, which Gill sees as extraordinarily damaging to Trump;
  • The Georgia Special Grand Jury probe, as brought by Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis, of the Trump-led criminal conspiracy to convince state officials to steal the 2020 Presidential election on his behalf;
  • The Dept. of Justice's federal probe of thousands of pages of classified documents stolen from the White House by Trump upon leaving office, in apparent violation of the Espionage Act, Presidential Records Act and obstruction of justice;
  • The DoJ's federal probe of the Trump-incited January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and his other many failed attempts to steal the 2020 Presidential election, including via a fake electors plot.

Add to those, Trump's failure to show up for his deposition this week in response to a lawful subpoena.from the the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection. (Trump's former advisor Steve Bannon was recently sentenced to two months in prison for Contempt of Congress for failing to answer similar subpoenas from the Committee.)

"Don't forget," Gill adds today, "his Save America PAC is under federal criminal investigation. His Truth Social [companies] are under FINRA, FEC, and federal criminal investigation. He is facing a lot --- a lot --- of legal problems. We've got the E. Jean Carroll case, the Mary Trump case, the Hillary sanctions, the Michigan sanctions. He's in a lot of trouble from a lot of things. We're going to just have to see who drops the hammer first."

"If we just look at the Watergate timeline," she posits, regarding the sprawling January 6 investigation, "we won't see indictments until April 2023. And this is far more complex [than Watergate]. So it's going to be interesting to see how the timing plays out. Or whether maybe Garland says, 'Hey, Fani Willis, you take the fraudulent electors stuff, I'll take the documents stuff.'" That, she explains, would have the advantage of potentially convicting Trump under state law for which he can't be pardoned by a future President (or even by a Georgia Governor, since they are not granted state pardon power.)

Gill does believe --- in fact, she is "very, very certain" --- that Trump will be indicted in at least one of the federal cases we discuss today. Tune in to find out which one!

Finally today, Desi Doyen's got our latest Green News Report, as the COP27 U.N. climate conference in Egypt nears crunch time this weekend; Trump offers well-worn climate lies at his 2024 announcement; and some good energy related news to close out today's program...

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Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton; Trump's running again; House, Senate GOP leadership chaos; MS moves to hand-marked paper ballots...
By Brad Friedman on 11/16/2022 5:40pm PT  

It may be a somewhat disconcerting deja vu on today's BradCast for longtime listeners. Apologies in advance. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Seven and a half years ago, on the day Donald Trump came down his golden escalator at Trump Tower to declare that Mexicans were rapists and he was running for President, our guest was HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo. Since then, she's joined us to try and make sense of virtually every landmark event during his disastrous candidacy, Presidency and post-Presidency.

Back in June of 2015, when posting that day's show at The BRAD BLOG, I headlined it "The GOP's New 'Frankenstein's Monster'". Most in the media considered Trump's candidacy a joke at the time. We felt otherwise. I believe history has proven us right on that one.

After multiple failed attempts at trying to steal the 2020 election, including inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in hopes of stealing it by force, and with multiple criminal investigations against him now underway at both the state and federal level, Trump announced (to the nation's chagrin) his third run for President on Tuesday night. He did so at a really long and boring super-spreader event at Mar-a-Lago, the scene of at least one of the many crimes for which he's being investigated. Parton joins us once again today to discuss whether we should be as worried this time about Trump's candidacy (she describes it at Salon today as "the America First Vengeance Tour 2024") and whether he or Ron DeSantis would be more difficult for Democrats to defeat in 2024.

We spend more time, however, discussing the three-ring circus, circular firing squad, or whatever metaphor you wish to use, for the Republican House and Senate leadership battles now under way following last week's midterm elections in which the GOP appears to have won the narrowest of majorities in the U.S. House --- but not much more than that anywhere else. Will the splintered, increasingly loony GOP caucus in the House even be able to get 218 votes for anybody as House Speaker come January? ("They have created an absolutely insane caucus filled with lunatics, and now they're having to pay the piper on this," says Parton. "This is what happens when you embolden people like Marjorie Taylor-Greene. She'll be operating as a shadow Speaker.")

Also today...A note of caution at the top of the show: Do not be fooled by Trump's deceptive call at his announcement speech on Tuesday night for "paper ballots" to help fight fraud in elections. He has no clue what he's talking about. Else he would have called for "hand-marked paper ballots," since all of the states he lost (but pretends to have won) already use paper ballots! He's also demanding new voter suppression measures. We explain all of the above today.

In related news, two counties in the state of Mississippi used hand-marked paper ballots in the 2022 midterms for the first time. After some 20 years of forcing voters to vote on 100% unverifiable touchscreen systems --- while we've been begging them to move to hand-counted paper ballots for all of those years --- the clerks of both counties report that voters and pollworkers loved the new system and it worked great! In fact, the clerks also found that it was both faster and more cost-efficient than their 20-year old unverifiable touchscreens. Who could have predicted it?

Following a new state law adopted in April, all counties in MS must upgrade their systems before the 2024 Presidential elections. As noted on today's show, I've long argued that it would likely take a high-profile Republican getting screwed by touchscreen voting systems before GOPers finally demanded a move to verifiable voting systems. I was close. What I should have said was that it would take a high-profile Republican pretending to be screwed by touchscreen voting systems before they'd finally demand such changes.

Finally, we close with some listener email. Enjoy!...

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Guest: Congressional historian, political scientist Norm Ornstein; Also: Leahy's Iraq War spy story...
By Brad Friedman on 10/19/2022 5:41pm PT  

We've spent quite a bit of time of late on The BradCast discussing what could happen if Democrats are able to hold their majority in the U.S. House this year and pick up two more seats in the Senate. Codifying privacy rights and reproductive freedoms into federal law; passage of the much-needed Freedom to Vote Act; expansion of the corrupted U.S. Supreme Court to un-corrupt it. That all become possible in such an event, just to cite a few of the most pressing issues. But what happens if they don't? [Audio link to today's full show follows this summary.]

We've noted that it remains an uphill battle for Democrats to hold their majorities in either chamber of Congress this year, much less expand one of them. So, what happens if Republicans win a majority in one or both?

In short, it would be very very bad for a host of reasons, including for democracy itself. But TPM's Kate Riga detailed just some of the political nightmares that are likely to occur, as Republicans have revealed in their own words. From endless Congressional investigations of nonsense (think "Benghazi on steroids") to pointless culture war legislation that would be vetoed by President Biden even if it somehow overcame a Senate filibuster, to impotent efforts to impeach the President and various members of his Cabinet...for something or other.

But, even without majorities in both chambers, Republicans can wreak extraordinary damage to both the U.S. and global economies simply by re-upping their 2011 "Tea Party" scheme to hold the nation (and world) hostage to any number of demands in exchange for raising the dumb debt ceiling next year. ("Dumb", because it's absurd that the U.S. even has such a statute requiring Congressional permission to borrow money to pay for stuff that has already been purchased with Congressional and Presidential authority. Also "dumb" because Republicans only use it as a dangerous bargaining chip when a Democrat is in the White House. Despite blowing up the deficit by trillions during the Trump Administration, the debt limit was raised three times by Congress with nary a peep.)

As Riga and others have reported this week, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the GOP's presumptive House Speaker if they take back a majority, has signaled that his party intends to hold cuts to Medicare and Social Security among hostages in exchange for agreeing to lift the debt ceiling. That, in the words of our guest today, would be "catastrophic" on several levels.

We're joined today by Congressional historian, political scientist and author NORM ORNSTEIN, who has been covering Congress for nearly 50 years via the conservative American Enterprise Institute, where he is a Senior Fellow Emeritus and now as contributing editor and columnist for The Atlantic.

Last week at The Atlantic, Ornstein warned that it's not just "democracy at stake this fall", as he asked "how far would a Republican majority go?" in undermining the U.S. economy in advance of the 2024 Presidential election. He recounts the first real use of the debt ceiling as a blunt political instrument to wreak havoc on U.S. policy and the economy along with it by the "Tea Party" back in 2011. While a last minute compromise at the time avoided a first-ever default of the U.S. government and the inability to pay its debts, the brinkmanship and hostage-taking cost the economy billions. Our credit rating was downgraded for the first time ever and the Dow plunged some 2,000 points.

But Ornstein is now more worried about what may happen next year if the GOP wins a House majority. As he explains today, "back in 2011, there were grownups in the room who kept it from getting out of control." Today, however "we're in a different world."

"In the past," he tells me, citing Donald Trump as an "accelerant" for GOP "dysfunction," "we still had what we could think of as a political party, even as it began to go downhill. But now it's a full-blown cult. The willingness of new members coming in, joining with a lot of radical members who will be returning to blow the whole thing up, the lack of interest in fundamental institutions or in the need to be responsible at governance is astonishing."

"I have never, in fifty-plus years of being immersed in the institution, seen a weaker or more pathetic leader than Kevin McCarthy," he says. "The idea that he would stop them from mayhem is, at this point, not believable."

"Other than that the fact that these are radicals dominating the party, they can't pass legislation on their own. They can't impeach and convict and remove from office the officials they would want to, including the President and the Attorney General and Sec. of Homeland Security, among many others."

But, as Ornstein adds, they will have "the power for the purse" with which they can cause extraordinary damage both here and around the world. He details both the chaos and what Democrats can do to try and preempt it during the Lame Duck period after the November midterms in the event that Republicans win back a majority in one or both chambers.

"The best thing to do is to do as every other country does and eliminate this ridiculous device [the debt ceiling]," but, since Dems can't do that on their own via reconciliation, they could invoke "the ironically named McConnell Rule" through reconciliation to stave off the threat of GOP debt ceiling brinkmanship that could result in a first-ever financial default by the nation. Tune in for an explanation of that ironically named rule and much more on all of this today.

Or, of course, Americans could simply reelect Democrats to majorities in both chambers and avoid the guaranteed nightmares that lie ahead with GOP control of either, now that they have wasted away into little more than a radical, extremist, "full-blown cult."

Finally, we close today with a fascinating spy story, of sorts, regarding retiring, eight-term Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and the U.S. intel agencies during the lead-up to the Iraq War (which he voted against), based on false evidence of WMDs hyped by the Bush/Cheney Administration...

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J6 Comm subpoenas McCarthy, four other Reps; Fed grand jury probes Trump handling of classified docs; Eastman advised how to steal PA's 2020 election; House finds meatpackers colluded with Trump Admin for deadly COVID Exec Order; DeSantis' FL gerrymander nixed by judge...
By Brad Friedman on 5/12/2022 6:55pm PT  

It's another one of those BradCasts where our disgraced former President casts a very long shadow. We've got way too much breaking news, as one accountability story after another broke today. Theoretically, that's a good thing. But you may need to take notes. We've got a lot to cover. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the stories covered today...

  • First up, after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently overruled his own far-right state legislature's already-gerrymandered new U.S. House map in favor of his own even more extreme gerrymander, a state judge that HE appointed has shut that whole thing down. For now. On Wednesday, Judge J. Layne Smith determined DeSantis' map --- which could give Republicans a 20 to 8 advantage in the their U.S. House delegation --- violates the state Constitution's 2010 Fair Districts Amendment "because it diminishes African Americans' ability to elect the representatives of their choice." Of course, that was the whole point when DeSantis --- who won his race for Governor in 2018 by less than one percentage point --- nixed two black majority districts in the state (one of which was created by the state Supreme Court the last time the map was challenged.) DeSantis believes his own state Constitution violates the U.S. Constitution. (So much for the states' rights he used to pretend to believe in.) So, Florida will now be paying for an appeal to fight for the voter disenfranchisement.
  • The House January 6 Committee on Thursday subpoenaed House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, as well as Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Mo Brooks of Alabama. The Committee says they each "participated in meetings at the White House" and/or "had direct conversations with President Trump leading up to and during the attack on the Capitol." All five were previously invited to voluntary speak to the Committee. They didn't. Now they are receiving what appear to be unprecedented Congressional subpoenas to members of Congress from the bipartisan panel probing Trump's 2021 insurrection and his attempt to steal the 2020 election.
  • The New York Times is reporting today that federal prosecutors have opened a grand jury probe into whether laws were violated when Trump absconded with 15 boxes full of items and documents --- including some marked as classified national security documents --- when he left the White House for Mar-a-Lago. The items belong to to the American people under the Presidential Records Act, but the larger question is about his treatment of boxes and boxes of classified documents. (Recall he used to pretend to care about such things. In 2016, when running against Hillary Clinton, he called for her to be "locked up" because she lawfully used a private email server and received or forwarded several documents with classified material in them.) A grand jury convened by DoJ would suggest this matter has advanced very quickly.
  • Speaking of grand juries, just a friendly reminder that Fulton County (Atlanta) District Attorney Fanni Willis convened her Special Grand Jury last week on Monday, May 2. She's investigating Trump's conspiracy to steal the 2020 election in Georgia, following his infamous and threatening call to the state's Sec. of State, instructing him to "find" just enough votes to name Trump the winner there. The probe could bring charges any day now (not that we have any insider knowledge) of a criminal conspiracy that includes Trump, his Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, his attorney Rudy Giuliani and even North Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, all of whom participated in strong-arming the Sec. of State and other officials to steal the election for Trump who lost the state by about 10,000 votes.
  • Emails unearthed by the Denver Post and reported by Politico this week from Trump's MAGA attorney John Eastman (who spoke at Trump's rally on January 6 and wrote the memos calling for VP Mike Pence to ignore the Electoral College votes to steal the election for Trump), reveal that he also advised a Pennsylvania state legislator how to steal the election for Trump in the state by tossing out legal votes and using absurd pretend math to declare Joe Biden lost, even though he won there by about 85,000 votes. Eastman told PA state Rep. Paul Diamond how Republicans in the legislature could change the results to "provide cover" for choosing Trump electors instead of the ones for Biden who the voters actually elected.
  • Trump's corruption was also deadly for hundreds of thousands when it came to the COVID pandemic. As President Biden marked the passing of one million Americans due to coronavirus at the White House on Thursday, a new report from a House Select Subcommittee finds the nation's meat packing industry hyped "baseless" concerns about shortages and colluded with top Trump Admin officials --- including Meadows, Pence Chief of Staff Marc Short and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue --- to invoked an Executive Order. The order, which the industry drafted, invoked the Defense Production Act to bar state officials from shutting down meatpacking plants during the first year of the pandemic. At least 269 industry workers died, 59,000 were infected, and an estimated 334,000 infections nationwide were tied to meatpacking plants where workers were forced to work in dangerous, close conditions. The industry got their Executive Order from Trump, barring plant shutdowns under the lie that the nation's food supply was at risk. As the Committee's report finds, in fact, the five major companies which comprise the industry in the U.S. saw record profits during the pandemic, and saw pork exports at a three-year high during the first three quarters of 2020 when they sent more than 300% more pork to China than in normal years. There ought to be a lot of criminal charges --- including for homicide --- brought here. We'll see if anyone pays a price for it.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as Australia's Great Barrier Reef is hit with yet another climate change-induced mass bleaching event; a new study finds climate change is a key concern regarding the emergence of new viruses and pandemics; new severe drought restrictions are enacted in Arizona and California...but last year, at least, was a very good one for renewable energy across the globe...

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And other troubling war news; Also: GOP Congressmembers speak at pro-Putin White Supremacist rally; Huge percentage of TX mid-term ballots rejected under new GOP absentee ballot restrictions...
By Brad Friedman on 3/1/2022 6:17pm PT  

Gotta keep this very brief as tonight's State of the Union address begins shortly (full coverage on tomorrow's BradCast), but the madness of Putin's war on Ukraine continues today, as some Republicans here at home seem to be rooting both for him and against democracy itself. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

We begin again today with coverage of the latest noteworthy news out of Russia/Ukraine, along with a few warnings about propaganda from all sides and the potential for erroneous reports amid the fog of war. Among the many stories covered today...

  • The office of the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy is reporting today that Russian bombs fell on Babi Yar, a Holocaust memorial site in Kyiv where some 34,000 Ukrainians were slaughtered by Nazis during one 48 period in 1941. The news offers a bizarre twist on the "denazification" that Vladimir Putin used as a phony pretext --- along with false claims of stopping a "genocide" --- when he launched his unprovoked attack on Ukraine last week.
  • Nearly 700,000 refugees have reportedly fled the country, with tens of thousands still trying to get out. But more than 40 million men, women and children remain, and are still facing bombardment while valiantly defending the country and its major cities. For now.
  • Swiss authorities report that the firm responsible for running the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany on behalf Gazprom, the Russia-controlled gas giant which owns the pipeline, have been laid off and the company overseeing the project is either in or near bankruptcy. That, after Germany stopped certification of the new pipeline as Russia launched its war last week and as sanctions have resulted in the pipeline firm being unable to pay its workers.
  • The International Energy Agency (IEA)'s 31 member countries, including the U.S., declared they will be releasing 60 million barrels of oil from strategic reserves in hopes of preventing global shortages and to ease the soaring price of crude. Knowing Big Oil and fossil fuel market speculators, its unlikely to have much effect. Though moving the world off of fossil fuels MUCH faster just might help!
  • In a kind of amazing story, a Russian government climate scientist publicly apologized to Ukrainian scientists over the weekend during the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)'s final session to complete the group's latest blockbuster report released on Monday. The Russian scientist offered his "apology on behalf of all Russians who were not able to prevent this conflict," adding that "all of those who know what is happening fail to find any justification for this attack against Ukraine."
  • Those remarks echo some points we tried to make on yesterday's BradCast in response to a few on the left (hopefully very few) who seem to be placing inappropriate blame on the U.S. and NATO for Russia's outrageous aggression and war crimes. While the U.S. and NATO have made a number of missteps since the fall of the Soviet Union, only Russia can be blamed for the deadly, unprovoked military assault now underway on an unthreatening neighboring sovereign nation. Here is a very short and helpful metaphor to help folks understand all of this, casting Ukraine as a woman trying to break up with her abusive ex.
  • And, while the fight for democracy overseas is at a perilous moment, the Republican Party here at home continues to have completely lost its way. (Or, maybe, has finally found it.) Far-right Congressmembers Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) both appeared at a white nationalist rally over the weekend, where the leader of the group praised their "secret sauce" of "young white men" as the crowd cheered for Putin just before MTG took the podium. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) condemned both of his colleagues on CNN on Sunday, noting, "I've got morons on my team." One of those morons, as we also discuss after playing some audio of his comments on the House floor today, is House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
  • It's mid-term primary Election Day in Texas today and, as we discussed last week with the President of the League of Women Voters of Texas, the state's new GOP-adopted voting restrictions are resulting in a huge percentage of absentee ballots being rejected --- nearly 30%, for example, in Houston's Harris County. By way of contrast, the last mid-term elections in Texas in 2018, saw a 1% rejection of vote-by-mail ballots statewide. Some late absentee voters may still have until March 7 to cure any ballot deficiencies if they can get to the County Clerk's office in person to do so.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen is here with our latest Green News Report, with more news on energy related sanctions and Russia; the disturbing new, 4,000 page IPCC report; and the U.S. Supreme Court's latest attempt to gut the EPA's statutory power to regulate deadly fossil fuel emissions...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Oath Keepers founder charged with 'seditious conspiracy' for Capitol attack; Bernstein says Jan 6. 'cover-up in excess of Watergate'...
By Brad Friedman on 1/13/2022 6:59pm PT  

Our guest on yesterday's BradCast nailed it. The stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court did, in fact, strike down one of the Biden Administration's vaccine mandates today (the one that allows employees to not get vaccinated if they choose), while narrowly approving the vaccine mandate for all health care workers at facilities that receive federal funding. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

The Omicron surge continues to rack up both record infections and hospitalizations. Death counts are now on the rise as well. Though there are hopeful signs that some parts of the U.S. may be peaking or plateauing, and that, in a few weeks, the surge may plunge as quickly as it initially spiked over the past few weeks. The advice this week from the Los Angeles County Health Director to hang on for just a few more weeks and avoid any non-essential public gatherings, particularly indoors with the unvaccinated or those at high risk of severe illness during that period, is likely good advice for everyone in the nation at this time.

That is especially true now that the non-medical experts at the U.S. Supreme Court seem dead set on preventing actual experts charged with protecting workers from helping to protect millions of them.

As Slate's ace legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern predicted on yesterday's BradCast, the packed Republican Supreme Court did, in fact, put a stay on President Biden's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandate for workers at large companies with more than 100 employees to either get vaccinated or get tested weekly. The other case heard during emergency oral arguments last week, the Administration's Health and Human Services mandate for vaccination of all workers at health care facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid funding, was narrowly allowed to remain. Chief Justice John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh joined the Court's three liberals in a 5 to 4 opinion [PDF] on that one.

Today, we step through the absurdities of the Majority opinion from the Court's rightwingers on the stayed employer mandate [PDF], as well as the even more absurd --- but dangerously so --- Concurring opinion authored by Justice Gorsuch with Thomas and Alito, as well as the furious Dissent, jointly penned by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan.

"Underlying everything else in this dispute is a single, simple question," the Dissenters wrote, 'Who decides how much protection, and of what kind, American workers need from COVID–19? An agency with expertise in workplace health and safety, acting as Congress and the President authorized? Or a court, lacking any knowledge of how to safeguard workplaces, and insulated from responsibility for any damage it causes?"

The stinging Minority dissent derides the non-expert Court Majority for being the ones to decide that the non-experts in Congress, as opposed to the experts at the Executive Branch agency charged by Congress via specific statue to protect workers, must make specific medical decisions through legislation for those workers. It is, of course, madness. Especially, as the Dissenters note, the Court's "Members are elected by, and accountable to, no one," whereas those at OSHA are not only experts, but "responsible to the President, and the President is responsible to—and can be held to account by—the American public."

Tune in for all the details. But the good-ish news for the moment is that only three of the Court's rightwingers were willing to sign on to the idea that statutes granting Executive Agencies the power to regulate things should be ignored when there is a "major question" at stake, as we discussed in some detail with Stern on Wednesday. But that good-ish news may not stand for long, as the Court will hear a case next month with even broader implications, as to whether the EPA, despite its statutory charge by Congress, is allowed to regulate pollution that is causing our climate emergency and much more. As we detailed yesterday, we are, in fact, watching the far-right "deconstruction of the Administrative state" before our very eyes.

Then, in what would, during normal times, be our lead story today, we quickly cover the arrest of Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the far-right Oath Keepers militia outfit, who, along with ten others in his group, were charged today "seditious conspiracy" for their part in the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, as part of Donald Trump's plot to steal the 2020 election.

The federal charges are the most serious to date in relation to the January 6 attack and are precisely what our guest from several weeks ago, Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel, told guest host Nicole Sandler was likely to soon happen, as the Dept. of Justice and Attorney General Merrick Garland continued a painstaking bottom-up probe. And yes, we did interview the Oath Keepers' Rhodes on this program back in 2016. Here is a link to that lively, if occasionally testy, interview.

And, in one more related matter on an absurdly busy show (restructured about five times before air today as news kept breaking!), GOP House Leader Kevin McCarthy, who recently told a reporter he "wouldn't hide from anything" when he asked if he was willing to speak to the bipartisan House Select Committee investigating January 6th, refused to cooperate with a voluntary invitation on Wednesday to speak with the Committee. In response to the news, Carl Bernstein (of Watergate's Woodward and Bernstein) told CNN on Wednesday night that the Committee already "has the goods" on McCarthy and what he said to Trump on Jan. 6 "and McCarthy has lied about it since."

"So, we have a real conspiracy, a real cover-up, real stonewalling in excess of anything we saw in Watergate," said Bernstein...who should know.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, which is packed with even more news during the final few minutes of today's program...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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