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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, September 26, 2022
'Gold Standard' SCOTUS Poll Finds Majority of Americans Support Expansion of High Court: 'BradCast' 9/26/22
Also: Disinformationists; Fascism rising; Hurricane Ian threatens FL; Callers ring in...
Sunday 'Heavy Traffic' Toons
Be sure to check PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons before crossing state borders. You're welcome!...
Trump, Lindell, Ginni Thomas --- Geniuses All!:
'BradCast' 9/22/22
GOP election conspiracists have bad lawyers; Also: Garland's moving (and telling) remarks at swearing-in of new American citizens...
'Green News Report' 9/22/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
U.N. Sec-Gen wants fossil fuel industry to pay up; New plastics initiative; Puerto Rico still lacking power and clean water; PLUS: Senate approves first climate treaty in decades...
Recent GNRs: 9/20/22 - 9/15/22 - Archives...
It's National Voter Registration Day!
(Who Knew?): 'BradCast' 9/20/22
Also: Beer shortage?!; More on DeSantis' migrant scam; Electoral Count Act reform news; Good (and bad) news for disabled voters; Much more...
'Green News Report' 9/20/22
Simultaneous storms, in Puerto Rico, Alaska, Japan; Climate change juiced Pakistan floods; Aussie energy turnabout; PLUS: Plastics plant blocked in LA...
Kidnapping is a Crime. Will DeSantis Be Held Accountable for It?: 'BradCast' 9/19/22
Also: Media still pulling punches on GOP; Elizabeth finally buried, so will CNN finally cover weekend's THREE hurricane landfalls?!; Plus, callers!...
Sunday 'Pawn' Toons
Make your move to PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
Reagan's Big Government Gift to Big Pharma is Still Giving, Killing: 'BradCast' 9/16/22
Guest: Ernest A. Canning; Also: Trump's failed GA election theft; NH GOP Sen. nom flip-flops on 2020 denial; Patagonia gives away company to save planet...
More Good News for Ds; More Fraud Accountability for Rs: 'BradCast' 9/15/22
Biden approval up, strike averted; Trump NY fraud; Feds probe Lindell CO fraud; Fraud probe of MI GOP A.G. nom; NY Election Commish charged w/ absentee vote fraud...
'Green News Report' 9/15/22
U.N. says world in 'uncharted climate territory'; Summer 2022 hottest ever; Clean energy will save world $12 trillion; PLUS: Biden touts IRA, national EV charging network...
'Groundbreaking' Victory for CA's Half-Million Fast-Food Workers: 'BradCast' 9/14/22
Guest: TAP's Harold Meyerson; Also: Rail worker strike looms; Noteworthy primary results from DE, RI, NH...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: Ernest A. Canning on that and CA's big step toward socialized medications; Also: Trump's election theft effort on GA prosecutor's mind; GOP Senate nom no longer an election denier (now that he won the nomination); Patagonia gives away the company to save the planet...
By Brad Friedman on 9/16/2022 6:35pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The story of why Americans are still paying the health care price (in both blood and treasure) in 2022 for "free market champion" Ronald Reagan's 1987 Executive Order that gave away the tax-payer store to Big Pharma. Plus, a bunch of other somewhat happier stories. [Audio link to full story is posted below this summary.]

First up today, an update in the still-broadening criminal conspiracy probe by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis into Donald Trump's many faceted and failed efforts to steal the 2020 Presidential election in Georgia. With 17 known "targets" in the probe so far, including Rudy Giuliani and 16 fake Trump electors, the prosecutor tells Washington Post in an exclusive interview that there will be more "targets" announced soon and that she believes some are likely "facing prison sentences." She has yet to decide if the former President will be among them, though, with dozens of witnesses who have already been subpoenaed and testified to her Special Grand Jury in Atlanta, Willis says the Grand Jury should wrap up by year's end. A decision whether to call Trump in to testify --- or declare him a target --- is likely "to be made late this fall," she says.

Next, now that far-right retired Brigadier General and dyed-in-the-wool conspiracy theorist Don Bolduc won the GOP nomination in New Hampshire this week to challenge incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan this November, he's...um...re-evaluating some of his previous positions. During a primary debate with fellow GOP candidates before the primary, he proudly denied Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 election. "I signed a letter with 120 other Generals and Admirals saying that Trump won the election and, dammit, I stand by my words!," Bolduc bravely declared to cheers from Party faithful. When asked about his position this week on Fox "News," however, after winning the GOP nomination, Bolduc hemmed and hawed his newly discovered belief after "a lot of research on this", finding the 2020 "election was not stolen" and that "President Biden is the legitimate President of this country." Granite Staters will undoubtedly fall for his pretend new "moderate" line, right?

Then, newly reformulated COVID vaccine booster shots from both Pfizer and Moderna, designed to combat both the classic coronavirus and several newer Omicron variants, are now available to the general public in the U.S. The White House and CDC are recommending Americans get the new shot by Halloween to lessen the chance of infection --- or killing your grandmother --- over Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays when a new surge is expected. (They also recommend getting a flu shot at the same time.)

But why are new COVID vaccines even necessary more than two years into the pandemic? One reason is thanks to the fact that, despite tens of billions of tax-payer dollars given by the federal government to private companies for the development of the life-saving vaccines, the private pharmaceutical giants who make them refuse to give up their patent and intellectual property rights to make the vaccines available to the world. That means new variants continue to emerge, leading to more infections and the need for updated vaccines and, yes, more profit for Big Pharma. It's a pretty nice deal...for them.

So, how did we get here? We're joined today by ERNEST A. CANNING, longtime legal analyst at The BRAD BLOG, who recently took a deep dive into a 1987 Executive Order by Ronald Reagan that gifted patents and profits that go with them to huge, for-profit pharmaceutical companies that used tax-payer dollars to develop their inventions. That, from the Republican idol who, ironically, once declared: "We who live in free market societies believe that growth, prosperity and ultimately human fulfillment, are created from the bottom up, not the government down."

The pharmaceutical industry may disagree, even if they won't say so out-loud. "No matter how big a company and how much money was poured in by federal government for research and development, the patent would belong to the giant company," Canning explains. "We've been paying, just in general research, about $28 billion in pharmaceutical R&D every year." Given the "value of those patents," he notes, "we're talking trillions of dollars in a gift, not just tens of billions."

He also explains how all of this came about (beginning with Jimmy Carter) and why its now so difficult for Joe Biden to merely repeal Reagan's Executive Order in regard to the COVID vaccines.

But Canning also offers some brighter news related to patent abuse by Big Pharma, which he also recently wrote about at The BRAD BLOG. In a landmark initiative, the state of California is now fighting back. Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom recently announced the state will begin manufacturing insulin and will make the hundred-year old drug available for just slightly more than it costs to produce. Canning explains why that has become necessary as Big Pharma takes advantage of loopholes in Intellectual Property laws to bilk diabetics with outrageous prices for the inexpensive, life-saving medicine.

Finally, a private company that is --- shockingly enough --- apparently doing the right thing for the country and the world. (What?!) The family that owns outdoor gear brand Patagonia, headed up by its 83-year old founder, announced this week that they will be "making Earth our only shareholder". While the company will remain a for-profit entity, currently valued at around $3 billion, it will now begin giving away all profits --- about $100 million a year --- to two newly created entities, a trust and a non-profit, both devoted to combating our climate crisis.

(Any chance we can coax Patagonia into the pharmaceutical business while we're at it?!)

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Dismantling pharmaceutical monopolies begins with repealing his 1987 Executive Order giveaway...
By Ernest A. Canning on 9/14/2022 11:05am PT  

We should be both relieved and outraged!

Relieved that, earlier this month, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new round of booster shots specifically re-designed to address new variants of the deadly COVID virus.

Outraged because, despite the expenditure of tens of billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars on research and development (R&D), the pharmaceutical industry's refusal to waive its "gifted" patent rights prevented a global rollout of the COVID vaccines. In turn, that refusal resulted in the need for the new booster shots.

Outraged because the industry's refusal to waive their patent rights has produced "excess mortality" with COVID that, as of the beginning of this month, has killed at least 6.5 million people worldwide, with no end in sight.

Outraged because this will, in all likelihood, not be the last newly reconstituted booster shot needed. It is the considered opinion of two thirds of the world's epidemiologists that the failure to provide global vaccinations will give rise to mutations that "could render current COVID vaccines ineffective."

And, yes, the patent rights were, indeed, a gift --- from the United States to the Pharmaceutical Industry...

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




Don't be afraid to keep your mask on! Also: Twitter bans climate change denialist ads. Will 'free speech absolutist' Musk keep the ban in place?...
By Brad Friedman on 4/26/2022 6:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast: When the hot debates die down, the liars, of late, having been trying to claim (false) victory. Let's not let them, shall we? [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

We're seeing a lot of that in recent days when it comes to, for example, Russia's help for Donald Trump election in 2016 (yes, it actually happened, despite the disinformed denialists now opportunistically claiming otherwise) and, as we focus on today's program, on those pretending that the CDC and other public health officials had it all wrong about COVID. They didn't. And just because we're all really sick and tired of the continuing pandemic and discussion of COVID in the news has largely been overtaken by other pressing matters, the deadly virus is still killing hundreds of Americans each day. That, after nearly 1,000,000 Americans were killed over the past two and half years. Please don't let the anti-mask and anti-vaccine bullies mislead or cow you.

We never enjoy being the bearer of bad news (it just seems to be our lot in life of late), but a new COVID sub-variant of Omicron, known as BA.2.12.1, is apparently the most transmissible yet, and it is quickly rising across the nation (and world). Some facts you may want to know about that today, why you should get your shots if you haven't already, and why you shouldn't bow to pressure from anyone to not wear a mask indoors if you damned well feel like it.

Also, the Vice President tested positive today. Thankfully, because she is double-vaccinated and boosted, she is, so far at least, said to be asymptomatic. Many others are not quite as lucky, particularly the unvaccinated, many children, and, in particular, those who live in states run by Republicans like Florida Governor and Presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis. He is still turning up the heat on his lies that critics of his failed COVID policies --- the state banned mask mandates and forced schools to remain open when they shouldn't have --- were wrong, and that he was right.

Well, if death rates in states like Florida and Georgia last year, which were two to three times those in blue states per capita, are considered to be "right", then I guess I'm glad I don't live in such states. But I'd still like to help those who do. Yes, as Axios reported late last month, based on then-new CDC numbers, "America's political divisions are now on display in mortality rates."

Sadly, Florida, with its more than 73,000 COVID deaths, is a perfect example. As Axios Tampa Bay reported, "Death rates in Florida and Georgia (more than 200 deaths per 100,000) were much higher than in states with largely vaccinated populations such as New York (112 per 100,000), New Jersey (73 deaths per 100,000), and Massachusetts (50 per 100,000)." And, based on data comparing deaths that would normally be expected, "Between August and December 2021, Florida experienced more than triple the number of excess deaths (29,252) as New York (8,786), despite both states having similar population counts."

That didn't stop DeSantis, during his State of the State address earlier this year, from lying to his constituents: "We would not allow fear or politics to harm our kids. We were right and they wrong and millions of families in Florida are better for it." Sure. Unless you count the tens of thousands of Florida families mourning the unnecessary loss of their loved ones thanks to DeSantis' deadly lies and horrific COVID policies.

In other news of note late last week, on Earth Day, Twitter announced a long overdue policy banning advertisements purchased to push climate change denialism. We'll see if they actually carry it out. But, perhaps more of note, since Elon Musk's $44 billion purchase of the social media company was announced on Monday, it will be interesting to see if the self-proclaimed "free speech absolutest" and CEO of Tesla, the company almost single-handedly responsible for kicking off the planet's electric vehicle revolution, will keep the ban in place as he takes the company private to use as his own personal plaything. (P.S. The entire story of Musk's purchase of Twitter serves as still more evidence that taxes are way way too low for rich people and corporations!)

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for a chocked-full-o'-news Green News Report, as we try to get you all caught up with all of the climate related stuff of note that you missed while we dared take a much-needed Spring Break last week...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern of Slate; Also: Major new study confirms Ivermectin ineffective as COVID treatment...
By Brad Friedman on 3/30/2022 7:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast, one of our favorite guests is back to explain why the wildly corrupt Thomases, as horrible as they are, may be one of the least of our concerns when it comes to what the rest of the GOP's wildly corrupt --- not to mention stolen and packed --- U.S. Supreme Court may now be moving toward.[Audio link to full, must-listen show is posted below.]

First up, however, a major new, peer-reviewed, double-blind study released in full today, finds what many have been trying to make clear for quite some time: There is no legitimate evidence that the anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin, most commonly used to de-worm horses, has any positive effect as a treatment for COVID.

In fact, as one part of the huge new Brazilian study found, placebo pills were actually more effective than Ivermectin! Dr. Andrew Hill, a virologist at the University of Liverpool in England, whose early analysis (since retracted) of several smaller studies (at least one of which appears to have been fraudulent) was frequently cited for evidence of the drug's effectiveness, appears now to concur that the new Brazilian study pretty much removes all doubt. Ivermectin is of no use in treating COVID. We now have a pretty large body of evidence demonstrating that is true no matter what clownish TV doctors and profiteers and misinformation specialists on Fox "News" or Joe Rogan's podcast have to say about it.

That said, there are safe and effective (and free) ways to avoid the worst effects of COVID, which peer-reviewed studies have confirmed. They include the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. Actual professional virologists, epidemiologists and both the CDC and FDA strongly recommend them, as do we. Earlier this week the FDA authorized a second booster shot for anyone over 50 who hasn't received a shot in the past four months. Please get one and let's end this goddamn pandemic once and for all. Thanks.

On to our main topic(s) today, as we're joined by the always great, always illuminating, and pretty much always-right-about-everything MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist from Slate.com who smartly covers the law, the court system, the U.S. Supreme Court, election law, LGBTQ issues and much more.

We've got just a few things to discuss with Stern today, including the ridiculous Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings last week for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Joe Biden's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, where she would be its first black female Justice. On Wednesday, it was actually news for some reason that one Senate Republican has announced she will vote for Jackson's confirmation. But, beyond the childish stupidity of Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee last week falsely suggesting that Jackson is somehow in favor of child porn and terrorists, there was something else far more disturbing that emerged from the GOP questioning of Biden's highly qualified nominee.

In short: Republicans aren't just targeting Roe v. Wade's well-established right to an abortion (which the Supreme Court is very likely to overturn within the next few months), but they actually appear to be gunning to reverse a whole bunch of landmark, privacy-related rights, including Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark 2015 ruling establishing a Constitutional right to same sex marriage equality. But that's not all. Also now in their sites for reversal are Griswold v. Connecticut (1965, establishing the right for married couples to buy and use contraceptives) and, yes, even Loving v. Virginia (1967's landmark civil rights decision establishing the right to interracial marriage)!

Think these concerns are exaggerated? That Republicans aren't actually gunning for those federal rights as well? Tune in and find out if you're wrong.

Also, as we discuss, Stern now believes it is unlikely that Republicans will ever vote to confirm another Supreme Court Justice nominated by a Democratic President if they regain majority control of the Senate. He further believes they will stop confirming the President's nominees for any judgeship on the federal bench.

"It is very clear now that Republicans begin from the position that Democratic Presidents have no authority and no right to appoint Supreme Court Justices, or to appoint lower court judges. This is following a longstanding pattern in the Senate of Republicans almost uniformly --- or all uniformly --- voting against nominees to the lower court, including many who are super-qualified and uncontroversial," Stern observes. "We have swung back and forth between close confirmation votes and big overwhelming lopsided confirmation votes, but I fear that this is how it will be forevermore."

While those issues would be more than enough to fill an entire interview, it's not even half of what we cover with Stern today, including his thoughts on the wildly corrupt longtime rightwing activist Ginni Thomas and her husband, the wildly corrupt longtime rightwing activist Justice Clarence Thomas. The conversation follows on last week's explosive revelations that Ginni was relentlessly texting Donald Trump's Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in November of 2020, urging him to fight to reverse the results of Joe Biden's election victory, in hopes of overturning American democracy itself.

Given that Clarence was the only vote on the High Court in favor of blocking subpoenaed documents from the Trump White House, which might have included emails and text from Ginni, from being turned over by the National Archives to the U.S. House January 6 Committee, Stern believes this matter is now like nothing we have ever seen at SCOTUS.

"This may feel like the latest in a long line of atrocious conflicts of interest and injustices that Clarence and Ginni Thomas have inflicted on the country, but it is materially different, because we have never before seen a case where Clarence Thomas' vote so directly implicates his wife's work," Stern argues. After I note another such case --- where Ginni received hundreds of thousands of dollars in dark money for her so-called non-partisan non-profits following Clarence's vote in the 2010 Citizens United case (after that very same group, Citizens United, had quietly spent hundreds of thousands to help push through Clarence's controversial confirmation in 1991!), Stern notes that it "looks to the world, quite reasonably, like a husband trying to shield his wife from legal scrutiny. I think that is a huge leap forward in this story. This is different in kind, not just degree." He adds: "I think it's helpful to draw this distinction between votes that benefit a spouse and votes that shield them from a criminal probe."

So what should be done about the Thomases? Tune in for Stern's thoughts (and mine!) for a very lively conversation on that.

But wait, there's more! You may have heard about last week's outrageous "shadow docket" decision by the Court that put on hold a ruling by Wisconsin's Supreme Court, including the opinion written by one of its leading conservative justices, finding that Democratic Governor Tony Evers' new map for state legislative seats in the Badger State should be used in this year's redistricting, following the 2020 Census. The GOP's corrupt SCOTUS, however, feels otherwise, even though Evers' map was closer to the state's previous (and wildly gerrymandered) one than the map pushed by the state's far-right gerrymandered state legislature. To make the matter even more absurd, the High Court completely ignored its own entirely made up and opportunistically used "Purcell Principle", which is supposedly meant to prevent last minutes changes to laws that might throw elections into chaos. In this case, since Wisconsin's Supreme Court and Democratic Governor both agreed that a new black majority district was needed in Milwaukee, the rightwingers on SCOTUS decided they'd never heard of Purcell or, apparently, the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

If you're flummoxed about all of this based on the above explanation, you're not alone. Tune in, as Stern tries, as usual, to help us make sense of the senselessness now coming out of a U.S. Supreme Court that is on the verge of losing whatever shred of legitimacy it may have had left at this point...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Philly Inquirer's Will Bunch on the corrupt Thomases, criminal Trump, missing 1/6 phone logs, and our never-ending quest for account-ability; Also: Smith apologizes to Rock; FDA okays new booster shots...
By Brad Friedman on 3/29/2022 6:51pm PT  

As usual, on today's BradCast, there is more continuing Trump corruption news than we can possibly keep up with. But don't blame us for trying. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, however, a bit of news on the Omicron sub-variant BA.2, which has now become the dominant variant in the U.S. The FDA announced today that it has approved second Pfizer and Moderna boosters for everyone 50 years of age and over who received their last shot at least four months ago. Also, Will Smith apologized on Instagram to Chris Rock for assaulting him at the Oscars. A day late, but there ya go.

Then, we try to catch up with some of the latest Trump corruption/accountability news and some that we've fallen behind on, with an assist from longtime Philadelphia Inquirer columnist WILL BUNCH, who has been in a bit of a funk over the mountain of evidence of corruption on the Right and the lack of accountability for it.

Among the stories he and I discuss today...

  • The news of the longtime prosecutors who recently resigned from the probe of Trump's years-long bank, tax and insurance fraud felonies after the new Manhattan D.A., Alvin Bragg, took over the investigation and tanked it. As revealed last week, one of the disappointed lead prosecutors told Bragg in his resignation letter last month that Trump was "guilty of numerous felony violations, that dropping the probe was "a grave failure of justice" and that "the team that has been investigating Mr. Trump harbors no doubt about whether he committed crimes - he did."
  • The insane, conspiracy-theory laden text messages sent in November 2020 by longtime rightwing activist Ginni Thomas --- wife of longtime rightwing Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas --- to Trump's then Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, encouraging him to fight to steal the 2020 election. And the difficulty (at least by Democrats) of bringing accountability for our corrupted Court and its "giant legitimacy crisis".
  • The seven and half hour gap in the Trump White House call logs from January 6th, 2021, as reported today by the Washington Post's Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, showing no record of Trump calls during the insurrection he incited at the U.S. Capitol from 11:17am that day until 6:54pm that night, even though the U.S. House Committee investigating the insurrection has confirmed a number of phone conversations that occurred with Trump that day.

"There seems to be no way or no will to hold our staggeringly corrupt leaders accountable --- whether it's Trump defrauding the banks or plotting an attempted coup from the Oval Office, or a Supreme Court justice ruling on his wife's bat-guano crazy political crusade," Bunch lamented in his column over the weekend. "I'm in a total funk over the state of the union."

Today he tells me, "We have this situation where there are a lot of people in the body politic saying look, the evidence is overwhelming that the 45th President of the United States was a criminal, and yet, the handful of people who are actually in the most key positions for possibly doing something about it won't go there, apparently." While he recognizes that some, such as our friend Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel, believe Attorney Gernal Merrick Garland actually is working his way up the food chain toward Trump, he remains dubious.

"Common sense is telling me that, given what's at stake, this is taking too long," he argues. "While this hangs out there, you've got all of these state legislatures enacting laws to make it possible to pull off a coup in 2024. Maybe putting a few of these guys on trial and sending a few of them up the river, maybe that would change the dynamic a bit in the country."

Bunch does put stock in the House J6 Committee's work and looks forward to Watergate-like hearings in the coming months which might change the current trajectory. But, in the meantime, he remains concerned about the ability of key institutions, like our corrupted SCOTUS, to maintain any legitimacy.

"A healthy democracy would have a healthy Supreme Court. But it's a very reform-proof operation. Only one Supreme Court Justice has been impeached in U.S. history," he notes. "They don't have any particular code of ethics, even when it comes to recusing themselves on cases like this Clarence Thomas situation. They're supposed to use their best judgment, and we kind of have to hope for the best."

"For a long time there has been this simmering general sense that there are two systems. There's not one system of justice in this country. That certain privileged people at the top, it's not just politicians, it's wealthy people, it's high-profile people...Here's New York City with six cops ganging up on somebody who jumps a subway turnstile because they didn't pay the $2.50 fare because they probably couldn't afford it. There's a sense of anger about that, and I think it ties in to how people feel about Trump or Ginni Thomas, that it's all of one piece. And I think that is just causing a broader lack of trust in this country."

But, Bunch also insists that he remains "an optimist," is hopeful things can still change and that we may soon begin to see accountability. "That's the January 6 Committee. Once they get their case out there, the public demand for [accountability] might peak. And for that, we can only hope."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with news on Europe weaning itself from Russian fossil fuels and, speaking of a lack of accountability, new reporting on how corrupt Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has, for years now, used his public office for massive personal financial gain...

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New Trump subpoenas; Climate change devastation in CO; Twitter ban for MTG; Hope for accountability as 'Every Day is Jan. 6 Now'; Plus: Callers!...
By Brad Friedman on 1/3/2022 6:33pm PT  

Well, we're back! That may or may not be good news depending on who you are and how you choose to look at it. Either way, we're getting our sea legs back on today's BradCast after a week off between the holidays (thanks, Nicole Sandler for covering for us for much of that time!), but it looks like the new year may not be much different than the old one. At least not necessarily better. At least not immediately. Nonetheless, we remain hopeful since it beats the alternative. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the stories and news both good and bad on today's program...

  • A document unsealed by the New York Supreme Court on Monday confirms that not only was Donald Trump subpoenaed for testimony and documents last month by state Attorney General Letitia James, so were his son and daughter Don Jr. and Ivanka. (Eric had already been subpoenaed and forced to give testimony in late 2020.) James is running a civil investigation into years of alleged bank and tax fraud by Trump and his Trump Organization. The District Attorney's office in Manhattan is also probing similar matters in a criminal investigation that James is partnering with, so there's a lot on the line and all of the Trumps, naturally, will try to quash and/or evade their lawful subpoenas. Like Eric, they will likely fail. The Manhattan DA is now Alvin Bragg as of this past weekend. He replaced the previous DA over the weekend, after Cyrus Vance, Jr. decided not to run for reelection last year. Vance's --- now Bragg's --- office has already brought criminal fraud charges against the Trump Organization and its Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg, for running a tax-avoidance scheme that paid executives benefits that remained off the books and untaxed.
  • In less bright news to start the year (and end the last one), Colorado officials now say that nearly 1,000 homes and other structures were destroyed and hundreds more damaged during a massive December wildfire among hurricane-force wind gusts last Thursday in the now well-populated suburbs between Denver and Boulder. Desi Doyen joins us to explain the climate change-related conditions --- unusual warmth, extreme drought, historic lack of snow and rain --- that made the fire so damaging.
  • The news got a bit brighter --- again, depending on how you look at it --- after Twitter permanently suspended Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA)'s personal account over the weekend. The far rightwinger has long used the social media service to spread lies, fraud and nonsense and, in this case, violated the company's COVID-19 misinformation policy for a fifth time. Her fifth and final strike was a tweet falsely citing "extremely high amounts of Covid vaccine deaths", citing the CDC's self-reported VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting Systems) database frequently and misleading cited by anti-vaxxers. Anyone is able to (and frequently does) add records to the public-facing database falsely claiming injuries or deaths related to COVID vaccines. Greene's Congressional Twitter account has not (yet) been banned, and we discuss the pros and cons of giant social media companies being able to permanently suspend users like the Congresswoman or even the former President, as they did last year. (And, yes, I have some experience in facing down Twitter, even when they inaccurately block the posting of accurate and independently verifiable reporting.)
  • But with all that is going on, none is more important than saving our faltering democracy from those on the Right in the MAGA Mob who are scheming to completely undermine it. On New Year's Day, the New York Times' Editorial Board published a must-read editorial headlined "Every Day is Jan. 6 Now". They are absolutely right. "In short," they argue, "the Republic faces an existential threat from a movement that is openly contemptuous of democracy and has shown that it is willing to use violence to achieve its ends." They conclude...

    Whatever happens in Washington, in the months and years to come, Americans of all stripes who value their self-government must mobilize at every level — not simply once every four years but today and tomorrow and the next day — to win elections and help protect the basic functions of democracy. If people who believe in conspiracy theories can win, so can those who live in the reality-based world.

    Above all, we should stop underestimating the threat facing the country. Countless times over the past six years, up to and including the events of Jan. 6, Mr. Trump and his allies openly projected their intent to do something outrageous or illegal or destructive. Every time, the common response was that they weren’t serious or that they would never succeed. How many times will we have to be proved wrong before we take it seriously? The sooner we do, the sooner we might hope to salvage a democracy that is in grave danger.

  • The Times' warning is on the money. New polling from ABC-Ipsos finds that not nearly enough Americans understand the very real threat posed to American democracy by Donald Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election through violence at the U.S. Capitol last year on January 6, nor the GOP efforts to make such an attempted theft all but impossible to prevent in 2024. On a related note, a new Morning Consult survey finds the Republican Party has paid no price among GOP voters --- and even all voters --- for either the Jan. 6 attack or the party's subsequent efforts to pass new voter suppression laws that also allow partisan officials to overturn legitimate election results for purely partisan reasons.
  • But on that matter too, there is hope as the new year begins. Members of the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack are united in their efforts to expose what happened, who is responsible for it, and any laws they feel may have been broken in the bargain. Over the weekend, Committee Vice-Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) detailed the panel's ongoing plans to hold public hearings in the new year to help detail all of the above, as based on more than 300 witness interviews and some 35,000 pages of documents, texts, emails, etc. Cheney explained on ABC's This Week program on Sunday that then President Trump watched the entire attack unfold on television from the dining room just off the Oval Office while ignoring threats from GOP House minority leader Kevin McCarthy and from his own daughter Ivanka to take action to take action to quell the insurrection that he incited. She even went as far as to say that Trump is "clearly unfit for future office" and "clearly can never be anywhere near the Oval Office ever again." She even went as far as to say she agrees with Hilary Clinton that if Trump runs and wins next time, "that could be the end of our democracy."
  • There was much more today, of course, but that gives you an idea of where we are as the new year begins. And callers also rang in throughout today's program with their own thoughts on all of the above and here is that must-listen interview I mentioned from Nicole Sandler last week with investigative journalist Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel, offering her very well-documented argument that no one should yet give up hope for accountability for Trump from the DoJ and Attorney General Merrick Garland (which we hope to discuss in more detail in the days ahead)...

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Guest host Nicole Sandler with author John M. Barry and Times columnist turned gubernatorial candidate Nicholas Kristof…
By Nicole Sandler on 12/28/2021 3:47pm PT  

It's the excruciatingly long final week of the year. Brad and Desi are on vacation. I'm NICOLE SANDLER, holding down the fort and guest hosting The BradCast for a few days. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

I have a busy show for you today. But I start today's companion post with a bit of a retraction from the CDC which just arrived in my inbox. I honestly don’t know whether to laugh or cry, as it showed up just as I put the finishing touches on today's show.

Our first guest today is JOHN M BARRY, a professor at Tulane and author of a number of books. The one we're concerned with today is The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History. Barry literally wrote the book on the closest approximation of what we're living through right now. So I wanted to check in with him to ask how the 1918 Spanish Flu finally ended, and to ask if we might be on the same track with the arrival and potential predominance of the Omicron variant. And, frankly, it appeared that I may have hit on something.

At least until five minutes ago, when I received this alert. "CDC significantly cuts estimate of omicron's prevalence in US," reads the headline at The Hill. So I kept reading...

According to agency data, omicron accounted for about 59% of all US infections as of Dec 15. Previously, the CDC said the omicron variant comprised 73% of all cases for the week ending Dec 18. But that number has now been revised to 22.5% of all cases. And the Delta variant still accounts for about 41%...and to make matters even worse, the US is now averaging more than 206,000 cases a day and climbing, according to the CDC.

I guess that just means the situation is even more dire than we thought.

Also today, I reached back into late 2020 for our second interview, but there’s a method to my madness. In October of 2020, NY Times columnist NICHOLAS KRISTOF and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, produced a film to go along with the book they released the previous year with the same title, Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope.

In it, Kristof takes a hard look into poverty in America, the wealthiest nation on the planet. He takes us back to his hometown of Yamhill, Oregon, where people are really struggling.

Perhaps it was the journey of making the film and writing the book that convinced Kristof to make a major life change. This year, he quit the NY Times, moved back to Oregon and launched his campaign to run for Governor. It appears to me that he's doing it for all the correct reasons. Listen to our conversation, and you’ll understand what I mean…

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Biden addresses nation on Omicron emergency plans, begs vaccine disinfo peddlers to 'stop'; Also: Trump got secretly boosted; Coal miners union wants thin-skinned, corrupt Manchin to reconsider BBB...
By Brad Friedman on 12/21/2021 6:03pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: As the year grinds toward another bizarre, unbalanced close, America tries to pick up the pieces and keep moving forward. So do we. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

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

  • On the heels of Sen. Joe Manchin's stunning weekend announcement that he was breaking his promise to the President and his party to support the Build Back Better Act, which includes nearly $600 million to fight climate change and help coal miners in Manchin's home state, the nation's largest mining union is hoping that the West Virginia Senator will reconsider his decision. Among the funds in BBB is money earmarked for victims of black lung disease as well as tax incentives to help ex-miners from the dying industry and to protect its union workers. While Manchin makes millions from the coal industry via the coal brokerage firm he founded, which is now owned by his son, he doesn't appear to give a damn about the industry's actual miners.
  • A few additional thoughts today on why the corrupt Democratic Senator from West Virginia --- who is killing the most progressive climate and social spending agenda in the nation's history (after every single Republican in Congress has refused to support it in anyway) --- is still needed in the Democratic caucus. For a start, without him, there would have been no American Rescue Plan (which sent $1,400 checks to Americans earlier this year, expanded the Child Tax Credit program to send $300 per child each month to parents, and helped get hundreds of millions vaccinated), nor would President Biden have been able to seat a record number of federal judges in the first year of his Presidency. Without Manchin as a Democrat --- love him or hate him --- Mitch McConnell and the Republicans would be in the Senate majority right now and none of Biden's many critical accomplishments to date would have happened.
  • So, why did Manchin decide to break his promise to his party and the President on BBB? Steve Clemons reports that while negotiations between the two Joes had been moving forward, even if slowly, the thin-skinned Senator didn't like being singled out by name in a statement from the White House --- even though the statement was largely encouraging about the state of negotiations. Lame. But we think that even that explanation is likely little more than excuse for Manchin's betrayal. We explain why.
  • Next, the remarkably transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus is spreading at an absolutely unfathomable speed in the U.S. just before the Christmas holiday, according to the latest CDC numbers out this week. In little over a week, it appears to have gone from just 3% of cases to 73% of cases nationwide, all but edging out Delta entirely. There are one or two possibly encouraging pieces of news about the new variant, but it will still be a matter of weeks before we know if those potentially reassuring points will come to pass. In the meantime, a whole bunch of people are going to get sick and many are likely to die. Almost all of those who get severely ill and face both hospitalization and death will be those who refused to (or couldn't, for legitimate reasons) get vaccinated, including with a critical booster shot.
  • Among those who received a booster shot recently --- in secret --- is former President Donald Trump. That, after suggesting in September he was unlikely to get one. Turns out he's a liar. Who knew?
  • Amidst the disturbing news of Omicron's lightning surge, and the hospitals that are likely to become overwhelmed very shortly across the nation (many already are), President Biden addressed the nation from the White House on Tuesday afternoon. He shared the Administration's plans to try and minimize the coming damage. Biden announced that the federal government will spend more than a billion dollars on free home COVID test kits; instructed the Pentagon to be prepared to deploy more than 1,000 National Guard troops to help overcrowded hospitals handle the coming testing, infection, and hospitalization surge; is activating FEMA to deploy additional hospital beds where hospitals are overrun, and to have ambulances on standby to help transport patients from one overrun hospital to another where a bed may be available. He reiterated the need for everyone to get vaccinated and explained what families should and shouldn't do over the coming holidays. We share his address in full today, and offer a few thoughts in response.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us with our latest Green News Report on climate fallout from Manchin's BBB announcement; a deadly December super-typhoon that slammed the Philippines; and some good news on mileage standards from the EPA and for the U.S. offshore wind industry...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Manchin is trying to kill the most progressive Presidential agenda in decades; Omicron is trying to kill everyone; Both are killing Christmas; Plus: Trump's new lawsuit means he's in trouble; And callers ring in!...
By Brad Friedman on 12/20/2021 5:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Merry Christmas. Christmas is cancelled. Thanks Joe Manchin and Omicron.

Manchin dropped a bombshell over the weekend, announcing on Fox "News" that he could not support the Build Back Better (BBB) act, the better part of the historically progressive agenda of President Biden and of largely every other Democrat in the House and Senate. That, after the measure was scaled from a $6.5 trillion package to just $1.75 trillion in order to appease the West Virginia Democrat. If Manchin remains a "NO", the bill --- and, perhaps the Biden Presidency along with it --- is largely dead. The White House offered an unusually lenthy and, frankly, blistering statement in response to Manchin, calling him out for his lack of "good faith" and broken promises made to the President personally. We share that blistering response in full today.

It should be noted that all of the limp reasons Manchin offered for breaking his promise to support BBB are all BS. The bill is fully paid for (unlike the bipartisan infrastructure bill that Manchin whole-heartedly supported and voted for) and it will actual lower the national deficit eventually, not increase it; The bill will not worsen inflation either. It will in fact, ease it. Moreover, since Manchin's announcement, the biggest Wall Street economists have actually downgraded their outlook for 2022 based on Manchin's sleazy move; And no, the monthly child tax credit expansion that lifted half of the nation's children out of poverty during its first year, after originally being included in Biden's American Rescue Plan earlier this year, will not lead parents to spend it on drugs.

The bad news (for now) of Manchin's self-serving decision is on par with COVID's decision to not be done with us yet, as the Omicron variant, just before airtime, was declared by the CDC to now be the most dominant variant in the nation. They say it now accounts for about 73% of new cases. That was fast. As we'd warned. That's how wildly transmissible it is. Desi Doyen joins us with some clear, sobering thoughts from WaPo's national science reporter Dan Diamond that you may wish to consider on how to help keep yourself and your family safe over the holidays.

On this matter, it should be noted, since some are dismissing the dangers of Omicron --- citing its predicted infections as mostly "mild" --- that means only that many cases may not result in hospitalization. Don't fool yourself by convincing yourself that, even if you do contract Omicron, it will most likely be a "mild" case of COVID. Short of asymptomatic cases, a "mild" version of COVID could lay you up for weeks or longer. It means you won't be hospitalized, but that's about it. And, yes, it's going to land a lot of people in the hospital, as experts believe we're likely to begin seeing as many as 500,000 infections per day. During the January 2021 peak we had "only" about 250,000 infections a day.

Finally, before opening up the phones today to listeners on Manchin, Omicron and more, some slightly better news. Donald Trump is terrified that he is soon to be indicted in New York. So, as he does when he knows he's in big trouble, he has filed a ridiculous lawsuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James in hopes of buying time. It probably won't work.

Then, callers ring in on all of the above. It was a very lively show --- particularly considering the content we had to work with today...

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Also: COVID rising again before holidays; OK clemency for Julius Jones...
By Brad Friedman on 11/18/2021 6:34pm PT  

Justice isn't gonna demand itself, apparently. So we're happy (if that's the right word here) to continue doing it ourselves on today's BradCast, along with a bit of help from an actual, longtime homicide prosecutor. [Audio link to today's full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up, the mess the perps have left us with. New COVID cases are on the rise again across much of the country in recent weeks, even as the death rate is falling. But deaths tend to lag infections, which has officials concerned as we head into the holiday season once again. We take the opportunity to catch up on where the nation is in that regard, with recommendations for all to get booster shots as soon as feasible, and fresh, empirical, conclusive evidence that masking up is still the best non-pharmaceutical defense against the disease for both the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike.

In slightly brighter news, of a sort, Oklahoma's Republican Governor actually did the right thing on Thursday, if only at the last minute, by granting clemency to 41-year old Julius Jones who had been scheduled to be killed by state the today for a crime that occurred more than 20 years ago. Just hours before he was to be put to death, Gov. Kevin Stitt converted his sentence to life in prison for a murder that Jones has insisted he had nothing to do with. His case gained notoriety following a three-part documentary produced by Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis that aired on ABC in 2018. The clemency was also appropriate after the state had paused its capitol punishments following horrifically flawed executions by lethal injection in 2014 and 2015. After restarting them last month, a 60-year old prisoner convulsed and vomited as he was killed.

But speaking of murder by the government, a week or two ago on The BradCast we were joined by our friend, author and progressive talk show host Thom Hartmann, to discuss his case for mass second degree murder against Donald Trump for what he described as the disgraced former President's purposeful mishandling of the COVID pandemic in 2020. Thom's case is largely predicated on evidence revealing that, after initially taking the coronavirus seriously, the Administration changed course once they came to believe the disease was far more fatal against minorities who lived in blue states --- in other words, those who were unlikely to vote for him last year anyway.

Since we spoke with Hartmann, there has been additional damning evidence unearthed against the Trump Administration's COVID response, released by the U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, based on testimony from a number of both current and former Administration public health officials. The new information from those officials includes testimony, for example, from then White House COVID Task Force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, who reportedly believes that at least 130,000 lives could have been saved, had the the Administration taken appropriate action. Other officials have reportedly detailed how the White House blocked the CDC from sharing health guidance with the public while officials were even instructed to delete emails regarding directives on the pandemic response.

One of the maddening questions that arose during our discussion with Hartmann was why it seemed to be falling to a couple of radio hosts to even be building this public, legal case of accountability for mass murder by Trump in the first place. Where were the state prosecutors? Where was the Dept. of Justice and Attorney General Merrick Garland? Were we completely off-base in even suggesting criminal liability for mass homicide by a former President? That, as Hartmann conceded that he was, by and large, taking his best guess, as a layman, at whether charges for homicide by Trump should consist of first or second degree murder or something else entirely.

I heard from a number of folks after that program with thoughts on our conversation, including from several attorneys, two of whom had somewhat differing views on Trump's criminal liability. One suggested that, indeed, second degree murder charges seemed to fit the crime, while another felt that Trump had no direct culpability in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans. Or, at least, that it would likely be very difficult to prove any such culpability. We share the thoughts from both today.

We also heard from others who noted there was, in fact, someone else making a public case to bring homicide charges against Trump for some time. Specifically, we were pointed to longtime Washington D.C. homicide prosecutor, Glenn Kirschner, who now has his own podcast called Justice Matters. Kirschner spent some thirty years prosecuting murder cases, eventually becoming D.C.'s chief homicide prosecutor. On today's program, we share a clip from a podcast he released last December, shortly after revelations that the Administration had largely given up on trying to stop the spread of COVID and were, in fact, hoping that it would spread widely in order to eventually achieve herd immunity. That, even as infectious disease experts believed at the time that reaching herd immunity would take years and, literally, millions of American deaths before enough of the population would have enough immunity to halt the spread.

At the time, Kirschner used his podcast to explain what he saw as a clear cut case of what he described as "criminally negligent" or "criminally reckless homicide" (noting that the crime has different names in various jurisdictions). He explained how both Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence, who headed up the White House Coronavirus Task Force at the time, were "criminally responsible for needless coronavirus deaths" by the end of last year and the deaths of some 350,000 Americans at that point.

In his December 2020 podcast, Kirschner shared his belief, as a former prosecutor, that both Trump and Pence met the tests for such charges. Today, we continue to ask if any current prosecutors --- whether at the state or federal level --- are actually working to build such a case. And if not, why not?

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our last Green News Report before next week's Thanksgiving holiday. (We'll be taking the week off in desperate need of recharging our batteries and making up for family time lost during the worst of the pandemic last year.) Among the stories covered on today's GNR: disastrous extreme flooding in the Pacific Northwest on the heels of disastrous and deadly extreme heat in the same region just months ago; the Administration's controversial court-ordered oil and gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico; and President Biden's trip to Detroit to this week to promote both his new infrastructure plan and new, American-made electric vehicles...

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Ominous warnings for those who wish to notice: Republican gerrymanders continue; GOPers v. GOPers; More details on the attempt to steal the 2020 election; Book 'burning'; Trump's COVID cover-up...
By Brad Friedman on 11/16/2021 7:18pm PT  

It seemed like everything I read before today's BradCast, everything I was pushed toward via social media, everything that I simply happened to stumble upon on my own one way or another, felt like a soundtrack for America's rising authoritarianism. Everything, that is, except for the inspirational words about journalism from Pope Francis. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among the stories providing today's unmistakably dark drumbeat of America's rising authoritarianism...

  • The Pope pays "homage" to journalists and journalism, including this passage that serves us inspiration today: "Your mission is to explain the world, to make it less dark, to make those who live there fear it less and look at others with greater awareness, and also with more confidence. It is not an easy mission. It is difficult to think, meditate, deepen, stop to collect ideas and to study the contexts and precedents of a news item. The risk, you know well, is that of letting oneself be crushed by the news instead of being able to make sense of it." [The full comments in Italian; The Vatican's translation.]
  • More disturbing, extreme GOP gerrymandering this week in both Ohio and Georgia (and what we think Democrats should do in response before it's successfully used by Republicans take over the U.S. House majority in 2022 and then steal the American Presidency with it in 2024.)
  • Picking up on where we left off at the end of yesterday's BradCast, with the violent death threats against Michigan's Republican Rep. Fred Upton, who dared vote for Joe Biden's non-controversial, bipartisan infrastructure bill. Upton is hardly the only Republican now being turned on by fellow Republicans for voting to improve the nation's roads and bridges. Or, as Georgia's Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene describes it, a "communist takeover of America". Rep. Anthony Gonzales (R-OH) voted, along with Upton, in favor of Trump's second impeachment earlier this year following the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, incited by the disgraced President as part of his efforts to steal the 2020 election. Gonzales has decided not to run for re-election and explained his thoughts over the weekend on the "political loser" Trump, the mistake his party has made by backing him, and his plans to fight against Trump's re-election in 2024 if he runs. Gonzales' thoughts are worth hearing (so we share some of them), though they also reveal that Gonzales does not have clean hands himself in the ugly, growing divisiveness between Republicans and Democrats. (And between Republicans and other Republicans who are deemed not Trumpy enough.)
  • Speaking of which, despite a 93% record of voting with the former President during his four years in office (a higher percentage than Trump apparatchiks Jim Jordan, Elise Stefanik, Paul Gosar or Matt Gaetz), the Wyoming state Republican Central Committee voted over the weekend to no longer recognize conservative Republican Rep. Liz Cheney as a member of their party. Yes, that's how twisted --- and terrifying --- and authoritarian --- the Republican Party has now become. (Can you hear the drumbeat?)
  • New details, via a new book from ABC News' Jonathan Karl, on how Trump Campaign attorney, Jenna Ellis, sent a memo with instructions to then Vice-President Mike Pence on the specific steps he needed to take in order to direct several swing-state legislatures and the U.S. House to steal the Presidential election on January 6th.
  • Not authoritarian enough for ya yet? It goes all the way down to the ground. The School Board in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, last week, had a debate about whether they should ban certain books from school libraries or whether they should both ban and burn them. Seriously. (Hearing those drums yet?) For now, they voted unanimously to ban them...and to reconsider burning later. They are hardly the only ones on the increasingly hard right to cancel facts and ideas they do not like. Over the summer, Florida's authoritarian Governor and Presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis convinced his appointed State Board of Education to approve a rule banning critical race theory and the use of material from the New York Times' Pulitzer Prize winning "1619 Project" from Florida classrooms.
  • While it's still remarkable that Trump has yet to face charges for mass homicide for the hundreds of thousands of Americans he helped to die from the coronavirus last year, more details are now emerging, via the U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, about how the Administration purposefully suppressed science and public health guidance from the CDC last year. Amidst the most deadly pandemic in more than 100 years, the Administration, according to testimony and documentation from both current and former public health officials given to the Subcommittee, decisions were made to alter scientific guidance and prevent health officials from communicating directly with the public. They were even given instructions at various points to destroy evidence of their email communications on these matters. Sounds like criminal activity to me. (You still there, Merrick Garland?)
  • Finally, taking a break from the drumbeat of rising American authoritarianism, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as the U.N.'s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow ends in overtime with progress, compromises and disappointments. And President Biden signs his landmark, bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal with billions of dollars worth of long-overdue climate-related measures contained within...

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Vote 'NO' on recalling Gov. Newsom on the first question and for the Green Party's Dan Kapelovitz on the second. Here's why...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/18/2021 10:35am PT  

"For the September 14, 2021 Gubernatorial Recall Election," according to the CA Secretary of State's Quick Facts Sheet [PDF], "all active registered California voters will receive their ballot in the mail." The ballot will contain two questions: (1) Whether California's Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom shall be Recalled, and (2) if Recalled, which of 46 official candidates should succeed him. Voters are expected to complete both parts of the ballot, even if they vote "NO" on the first question, though it is not a requirement.

California residents, who are 17-years old but will turn 18 on or before Sept. 14, can pre-register to vote. Otherwise eligible voters, who are not yet registered, can register to vote within 14 days of the Recall Election (by August 30) in order to receive a Vote-by-Mail ballot. Or, they can fill out a Conditional Voter Registration at the polls during either early, in-person voting or on Election Day.

For the reasons set forth in my July article, "Now May Be a Good Time to Reform or Eliminate California's Gubernatorial Recall System", this progressive believes the answer to question (1) of the ballot is simple and straightforward. I'll vote "NO" only because the ballot does not contain the option to vote "HELL NO!"

This GOP-initiated Recall, which, per the California Voters' Guide, will cost state taxpayers an estimated $246 million, is the product of a purely partisan abuse of the Recall process. It was engineered by an increasingly authoritarian and immensely unpopular Republican Party --- a Party which hasn't won a statewide election in California since 2006; a Party that accounts for less than 1 in 4 registered CA voters; a Party which lost the last Presidential Election in the Golden State by more than 5 million votes; a Party that knows its only prospect for winning lies in what it hopes to be a low turnout, Special Recall Election. It's a cynical divide-the-vote-among-multiple-and-largely-unknown-candidates strategy that could potentially allow an otherwise unelectable Republican to prevail.

In recent television ads, sponsored by state Democrats and labor unions, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) described what will take place on Sept. 14 as a "Republican Recall". Question (2) on the ballot reflects the accuracy of that assessment. Out of a total of 46 candidates on the second part of the ballot, 24 are Republicans. One other candidate, Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Hewitt, is a Libertarian --- the Party that embraces the deceptive ideology of the infamous Koch Brothers and hard-right ideologues like Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

The difficult decision for progressives is how to unite behind only one of the 21 remaining candidates so as to avert the disaster that could ensue if more than 50% of the electorate vote to recall the incumbent Governor, as recent polling suggests a very tight race on the ballot's first question.

Allow me to explain why the election of either of the two leading question (2) candidates --- Democrat Kevin Paffrath and Republican Larry Elder --- both represent a clear and present danger if Newsom is recalled on question (1). Then, I'll share my conclusion --- along with information on each of the non-Republican/Libertarian candidates on the ballot --- as to why Green Party Candidate Dan Kapelovitz, an ardent opponent of the "Republican Recall", who is running only to avert disaster should the Recall succeed, is the candidate Democrats and progressives would do well to support...

[Disclaimer: The opinions set forth here are solely those of the author and should not be construed as an endorsement of any one candidate by The BRAD BLOG.]

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




Guest: Penn State climate scientist, author Dr. Michael E. Mann on the U.N. IPCC's alarming new 'code red for humanity' climate assessment
Also: TX warrants for arrest of Dem lawmakers; CDC urges vaccines for pregnant women; CA vax mandates for teachers; Senate Dems pass $3.5T reconciliation bill framework...
By Brad Friedman on 8/11/2021 6:27pm PT  

The Washington Post leads its story on this week's startling new climate assessment by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) by calling back to the earliest, prescient warnings issued by the panel more than 30 years ago "that humans were fueling a dangerous greenhouse effect and that if the world did not act collectively and deliberately to slow Earth’s warming, there could be 'profound consequences' for civilization itself. "The scientists were right," they declare, citing evidence from the latest alarming iteration of the IPCC's dire report released this week. But, as our guest, one of the scientists who contributed to the panel's 2001 Nobel Prize-winning assessment, explains on today's BradCast, there is still time to act to avoid the worst consequences of having ignored the early alarm bells. But we are very much now on a "knife's edge". [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up today, however, some very quick news: On Texas Republicans issuing arrest warrants for Democratic state lawmakers who are fighting to prevent the GOP legislature from instituting new voter suppression measures; On the CDC urging vaccination of pregnant women amid a surge in COVID hospitalizations, miscarriages and deaths of expectant mothers; On California mandating either vaccination or regular testing for all teachers and school staff as the new school year begins; And on the overnight passage in Congress of a framework for the Democrats' landmark $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill that is to designed to expand health care, child care, education and much more, including long overdue measures to finally take on our worsening climate emergency by reducing reliance on the fossil fuels that are quickly hastening the deadly effects of global warming.

Amid a summer marked by seemingly endless and catastrophic heat waves, wildfires, floods and droughts across the globe, the 6th IPCC Climate Assessment comes not a moment too soon. Described by the U.N. Secretary-General this week as a "code red for humanity", the latest report, coming 8 years after the previous one, now cites "unprecedented" warming that has already occurred, and unstoppable catastrophes to come if the nations of the world are unable to immediately begin to sharply decrease the dangerous burning of fossil fuels.

We're joined today by DR. MICHAEL E. MANN, Distinguished Professor and Director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. He is also the author of more than 160 peer-reviewed publications and numerous books on climate change and the battles to avoid its most cataclysmic effects. He is also one of the few climate scientists who spoke up early and loudly about the desperate need for action by our political leaders. Happily, as we also discuss today, there are now many more such scientists who have joined in that existential effort.

"What's different about this latest report is that now the scientists really are standing on the rooftop of the tallest building, shouting at the top of their lungs that dangerous climate change is here," Mann tells us. He says the new IPCC assessment "finally connects the dots in a way that previous reports haven't. And it does so in a profound way, because we are literally watching the disastrous impacts of climate change playing out right now in real time."

Mann breaks down what the new, non-partisan study, compiled by nearly 250 of the world's leading climatologists, synthesizing some 14,000 peer-reviewed studies from over the past 8 years, means for the public in general, policy makers specifically, as well as the fossil fuel industry and even his fellow scientists.

Policy makers "have to act now," he charges. "Not ten years from now. Not twenty years from now. We need to decarbonize the planet, our global economy, as quickly as possible." Mann also notes the "fortuitous timing" of the $3.5 trillion budget bill from President Biden and the Democrats now moving through Congress, which, he says, "really does have meaningful climate policy" to narrow "the implementation gap" between what politicians are saying and the "policies that actually get us there."

As to the science revealed by the U.N.'s new assessment, Mann details our various potential paths outlined by the report, predicated on the choices that world leaders now make, and whether any of those paths can prevent us from exceeding the maximum 2 degrees Celsius warming over pre-industrial times that scientists have long warned would result in irreversible damage to nature, society, and humanity itself.

"The report, I think, defensibly concludes that we can still prevent the worst impacts from playing out, if we can hold temperatures below 1.5C.  I think the weight of evidence suggests that we can still keep all of this within what you might call our 'adaptive capacity' as a civilization.  Once we go beyond 2C, you're starting to test the limits of that adaptive capacity. Once you get to 3C, 4C, or 5C, it's appropriate to start talking about civilization-ending climate change," Mann explains, before adding: "But we can avoid that.  That's a critical point.  That does not have to be our future. That's a future of inaction."

That, as the report notes global temperatures have already spiked by about 1.1 Celsius (almost 2 degrees Fahrenheit) on average since the 19th century, a trend which will almost certainly require decades to reverse, even under the best-case scenarios.

There is, of course, much more to our conversation, including what Mann derides as "doomism" among those inclined to take action to meet necessary goals such as reaching net-zero emissions by mid-century, if not earlier, but who may have decided that it's just too late, that only a miracle can save us now. He compares "doomism" to the worst of "denialism" by the fossil fuel-funded nihilist fighting AGAINST taking action. He also takes another shot at billionaire Bill Gates, whose book on climate Mann and I discussed on his previous appearance on the program earlier this year.

"To reduce carbon emissions, as the report says we need to, as energy experts say we can, we don't need a miracle , Bill Gates. Sorry. But we have the technology now to do this. What we need is the political willpower. If we do that, we really can keep the warming to a level we can adapt to."

Whether he's right remains to be seen. So far, however, the scientists have been right about pretty much everything else on this front. The only real question is if we're finally willing to listen to them and take the immediate action they have long been urging us to take...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Harrowing, emotional testimony at first hearing of U.S. House Select Committee on deadly January 6 insurrection; Also: More unvaccinated regrets, new CDC mask guidance as Delta variant rises...
By Brad Friedman on 7/27/2021 6:37pm PT  

We can only hope that today's BradCast meets our mission of informing the electorate with stuff you need to know...and does not waste your time with stuff that you do not. [Audio link to full show follows summary below.]

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

  • Another tragic story about yet another unnecessary COVID death. This time, a healthy 28-year old from Alabama who got sick along with his mother and sister, after the family failed to get vaccine shots, suspecting that COVID might be a hoax. The young man's dying last words, according to his Mom: "This is not a hoax, this is real." His mother tells Washington Post: "It took watching my son die and me suffering the effects of covid for us to realize we need the vaccine. We did not get vaccinated when we had the opportunity and regret that so much now."
  • Next door, in Gov. Ron DeSantis' petri dish called Florida, the state now leads the nation, as new COVID cases have tripled over the last two weeks, along with hospitalizations and deaths. Florida alone, according to CDC data, currently accounts for one quarter of all cases in the U.S. In another grim distinction they share with Arkansas today, both states now have "high" levels of transmission in every single county. The CDC finds several other states, including Missouri, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, sadly, are not far behind in the number of "high" level counties. Many of those states also have shamefully low vaccination rates making everything worse.
  • The nationwide surge in COVID cases, due to the wildly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus, has resulted in the CDC reversing course on Tuesday, issuing new guidance for mask wearing. They now call, once again, for both the vaccinated and unvaccinated to wear masks in indoor, public spaces. They also now recommend indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors at K-12 schools in the new school year. Again, almost all of that thanks to those who refused to get vaccinated.
  • Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., the new U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol held its first public hearing on Tuesday. Four U.S. Capitol and D.C. Metro Police officers gave riveting and often emotional testimony. The Committee was created by Speaker Nancy Pelosi after Republicans agreed to, and then reneged on, the creation of what would have been an evenly divided, bipartisan, independent blue ribbon panel, modeled on the 9/11 Commission, with equal subpoena power --- and the power to veto them --- granted to each side.

    After Republicans in the Senate blocked that plan, Pelosi created the House Select Committee, with seven Democrats and Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, chaired by Homeland Security Committee Chair Bennie Thompson. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was allowed to nominate 5 members. Three of his nominees were Members who had voted, after the deadly insurrection on January 6th, against the certification of Joe Biden's decisive victory last November. Pelosi rejected two of them, and McCarthy thereafter withdrew all of his nominees. The Speaker subsequently added another Republican to the panel, Illinois' Rep. Adam Kinzinger.

    Today, we share parts of Thompson's opening remarks on the necessity of the Committee's mission to investigate the January 6th attack, including why it happened and who instigated it, in order to restore "the peaceful transition of power" in the U.S. As well, Cheney offered her own opening statement, vowing to learn "what happened every minute of that day in the White House --- every phone call, every conversation, every meeting, leading up to, during and after the attack."

    "If those responsible are not held accountable," Cheney declared, "and if Congress does not act responsibly, this will remain a cancer on our constitutional republic."

    We then offer extended excerpts from the moving and, at times, disturbing testimony of the four officers who each risked their lives --- some, very nearly dying --- that day to protect the Capitol and its occupants, who were carrying out their Constitutional duty to certify the 2020 Presidential election.

    Those testifying on Tuesday --- each of them tearfully --- included Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonnell, a naturalized citizen from the Dominican Republican and Iraq War combat veteran who believed he was going to die defending his country that day; D.C. Metro Police Officer Michael Fanone, who was dragged down the stairs of the Capitol, beaten by the Trump-incited MGA mob, repeatedly electrocuted with his own taser and feared he'd be killed with his own gun, as he suffered both a heart attack and a concussion that day; Metro Police Officer Daniel Hodges, famously seen screaming in pain as he was pinned between a door and the surging mob who he describes as "terrorists" after fearing he would be "lynched" and having his eye nearly gouged out; And Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, an African American who describes repeatedly facing "a torrent of racial epithets", being called the N-word by the angry seditionists for what he says was the first time in his life while in uniform as an officer.

  • Finally, after Desi and I let off a bit of steam from a somewhat grim and/or harrowing program, it's our latest Green News Report which, unfortunately today, is no less grim. Still, we hope today's is a useful, educational and even occasionally entertaining BradCasr nonetheless...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Ohio's $1M vaccine lottery; Greene bullies AOC in Congress; McGahn agrees to testify in House; Trump could soon face extradition...
By Brad Friedman on 5/13/2021 6:29pm PT  

We barely made it for today's BradCast, after a nightmarish computer crash. So, if today's show is an odd, disjointed mess that makes no sense at all, feel free to blame Microsoft. But if it's great, I'll take all the credit! [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

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

  • Huge news today from the CDC! "This is a great day for America," President Joe Biden proclaimed in the Rose Garden, after his mask free meeting with vaccinated Republicans in the Oval. The fully vaccinated may now take off their masks in most places both indoors and out, and end social distancing protocols, according to the CDC's surprise announcement. There are a few caveats, as we discuss, and, of course, even though this weekend marks two weeks since the second COVID shot for Desi and me (and the "fully vaccinated" status that comes with it), we've still got a few reservations.
  • Even the friends on Fox and Friends admit they are all vaxxed up now! But even that hasn't kept them from continuing to pump disinformation about vaccines into the veins and brains of their horrifically misinformed viewers.
  • The quest continues to get shots into arms of the hesitant --- many of whom not-coincidentally-at-all happen to be Republican male and Fox "News" viewers. Some GOP state Governors are now coming up with clever incentives. West Virginia's Jim Justice is offering $100 savings bonds to residents age 16 to 35 who get their shots. Ohio's Mike DeWine announced on Wednesday that vaxxed up Buckeye Staters will be eligible to win 1 million dollars in a lottery, five weeks in a row! (But why not 10 winners each week of $100,000? We discuss.) In both cases, the payoffs are coming courtesy of the federal government, via Joe Biden and the Democrats' American Rescue Plan, which no Republicans voted for. But it's nice to see Republican Governors enticing their residents with "socialist" cash prizes!
  • And then there's Georgia's embarrassing Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene who "aggressively confronted" New York's Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Wednesday night in the halls of Congress. She followed her, stalked her, and called her a "terrorist" and a "chicken" for refusing, apparently, to debate her about...whatever. It was some top-notch 5th grade level bullying, but nothing new for the loathsome Greene. Her caucus, apparently, has no problem with her behavior, even as they voted this week to remove Rep. Liz Cheney from her leadership position because she refuses to participate in the Big Lie about a stolen election and believes Donald Trump should be held accountable for inciting an insurrection on the U.S. Capitol.
  • And, yes, it was an insurrection, despite the attempts by House GOPers in recent days to pretend that it was not. (Here's some fresh video evidence if you need it.)
  • Speaking of accountability (or lack thereof), Politico offers a fascinating scoop today --- for some reason --- regarding extradition statutes in two different states in the event that, for example, someone who is staying at a resort in Palm Beach, Florida or Bedminster, New Jersey finds themselves criminally indicted by a District Attorney from Manhattan within the next few months. Hmmm....
  • And, speaking of a bit more accountability --- let's say, at the federal level --- on Wednesday night, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee struck a court-approved deal with the U.S. Dept. of Justice for Donald Trump's White House Counsel Don McGahn to finally answer his 2019 subpoena to testify about his starring role in the 448-page report [PDF] issued by Special Counsel Robert Mueller concerning at least 10 documented instances of apparent criminal obstruction by the disgraced former President. No extradition charges are needed for federal indictments...unless the perp flees the country.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report as the Colonial Pipeline restarts after a ransomware attack shut down the nation's largest pipeline network (and, yes, as I asserted in the GNR, we learned later today the company did pay a ransom to the hackers!); as gas hording Americans on the Eastern Seaboard have been panic-buying; as the Biden Administration greenlights the first major offshore wind farm in the U.S.; and as Tesla dumps Bitcoin due to its massive carbon footprint...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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