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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, September 29, 2022
KS Abortion Referendum Data Suggest Women Being Under-Counted in Midterm Polling: 'BradCast' 9/28/22
Guest: Tom Bonier of TargetSmart; Also: Hurricane Ian storms ashore in FL...
Critical Elections, Catastrophic Storm Bear Down: 'BradCast' 9/27/22
Poll workers needed!; Ian closing in on FL; Scofflaw TX A.G. flees process server; Congress nears Electoral Count Act update; Listener mail...
'Green News Report' 9/27/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Ian takes aim at Florida; Fiona broke records in Canada; Noru pummels Philippines; Winter fuel prices soar; PLUS: Pacific Island nations call for fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty at U.N.
Recent GNRs: 9/22/22 - 9/20/22 - Archives...
'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...


Also: Disinformationists; Fascism rising; Hurricane Ian threatens disaster in FL; Callers ring in to fight about Dems before critical midterms...
By Brad Friedman on 9/26/2022 5:59pm PT  

It was another lively call-in show today on The BradCast, even with one caller accusing me of "professional, managerial class gate-keeping for the Democrats." (Okay. But, if so, where do I pick up my managerial class paycheck?!) [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Before we get to the listener calls, however, some important news items today...

  • Good news: Italy has just elected its first female Prime Minister! Bad news: She represents a far-right authoritarian party with its roots in Italian World War II neo-fascism.
  • Last week began with three enormous climate change-fueled storms simultaneously slamming Puerto Rico (which is still largely without power or clean water), Alaska and Japan. This week begins similarly, with three huge storms. One (the same one that hit Puerto Rico) slamming eastern Canada and another super-typhoon that spun up from tropical storm to Cat 5 in 24 hours before ravaging The Philippines. The third storm, Hurricane Ian, is now building strength as it edges Cuba as a Cat 2. It's expected to make potentially catastrophic landfall somewhere in Florida in the next day or two, potentially as a Cat 4. Exact landfall location is still unknown, but Desi Doyen joins us to explain how insanely dangerous Ian could turn out to be, particularly for the city of Tampa Bay.
  • Then, new polling from the Marquette University Law School, considered the "gold standard" for polling on the U.S. Supreme Court, finds, for the first time, that a majority of Americans are either "strongly" or "somewhat" in favor of expanding the the number of Justices on the Court. As you'll recall, the Republican majority Senate during the Trump Administration, packed and stole the Court majority, first by holding a vacant seat open for a full year (effectively, changing the number of seats from 9 to 8 in 2016); then by a blowing up the Senate filibuster rule requiring 60 votes to seat Justices for lifetime positions on the bench. They did that for three controversial far-right Justices who have since helped the corrupted Republican majority on the Court turn the Constitution and nation upside down by ignoring precedent, making up new "doctrines" from thin air, and overturning critical Constitutional rights established by half-century old SCOTUS opinions like Roe v. Wade.

    For many of the reasons discussed on today's show, expansion of the Court is --- at least in my opinion --- the number one reason for voting for Democrats in this November's critical midterm elections. Everything else --- codifying Roe's protection of reproductive rights into federal law, protecting democracy and the planet itself --- are all ultimately subordinate to the High Court. As corrupted as it currently is, expanding the Court to rebalance it is a must...even if many Democrats in Congress and the White House don't yet seem to understand that. Happily, a majority of Americans, across virtually every demographic sector, now agree.

  • Then, we open up the phones to callers on all of the above and more. With, as usual, a bunch of folks calling in to disagree with me, and at least one who correctly identifies the "Big Lie of the Left," that "both parties" are equally bad. They aren't. Not by a demonstrable long shot, as we discuss. Which, apparently, is proof enough that I'm a "professional, managerial class gate-keep[er] for the Democrats!" Who knew? But check please!)

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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We're back! And we've got a LOT to catch up on...
By Brad Friedman on 9/6/2022 6:27pm PT  

Like it or not, we're back on today's BradCast after a much-needed week off! And, as it turns out, we've got plenty to talk about. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the huge number of stories covered on today's show, as we try to get caught up with both what we missed and what's still unraveling today...

  • It's hot here in Los Angeles. Really hot. A record heat wave (in both intensity and duration) now stretches from Southern California all the way up into Canada. And, no, it is not normal. (Or at least it didn't used to be.)
  • It's also not normal for Mississippi's capital city of Jackson to have no water for drinking, bathing, flushing or even fighting fires. But it was predictable. That's what happens when you lower taxes and defer maintenance on critical infrastructure for decades before a warming climate dumps tons of rain to knock your water systems offline entirely. Now the state's Republican Governor (who has been instrumental in deferring that maintenance), is discussing privatizing the water system. As of Sunday, in any event, water pressure is finally returning to residents after a full week without, and about a month of boil water notices prior to the outage.
  • Some good news following Labor Day: Public approval of labor unions, at 71% of the American people, is now the highest it has been since 1965, according to Gallup. That's a 7-point spike in their pre-Labor Day survey since the pandemic began and a more than 21-point jump since 2009. And, as we discuss, that's all good news for both union workers and non-union workers alike!
  • There is new evidence out of Coffee County, Georgia today --- including security camera surveillance video gathered via a federal lawsuit against Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger to block use of his unverifiable touchscreen voting systems --- revealing that rightwing MAGA Trump supporters lied about unlawfully breaching and making copies of the County's voting system software after the 2020 election. The long-running lawsuit was filed by Coalition for Good Governance founder Marilyn Marks, a regular guest on this program. She originally broke the Coffee County voting system software breach story on this show some months ago, along with detailing Raffensperger's clumsy, months-long efforts to cover-up of the entire boondoggle. More details on that story coming soon!
  • In the second-to-last primary day of the midterm election season, voters in Massachusetts are selecting party nominees for the contest to succeed the state's popular, outgoing Republican Governor in the otherwise liberal-leaning state. As in Maryland in July, the choice on the GOP side in MA is between a Trump-backed election denier and an otherwise normal-ish Republican candidate. In MD, the Trump-backed loon won, likely handing Governor's mansion to the Democrats this fall. Will the same thing happen in MA? Tune in tomorrow!
  • While we were out, Alaska's embarrassing former Republican Governor Sarah Palin, did not win the Special Election for the state's only U.S. House seat. After a Ranked Choice Voting election featuring two Republicans and one Democrat, the Democrat, Mary Peltola was elected to fill the seat occupied for nearly 50 years by the late Republican Rep. Don Young. She'll serve the rest of Young's term through the end of the year and becomes the first Alaska Native elected to Congress. The same three candidates, and one other, will square off in another RCV election in November for a full term beginning in January. Hopefully Palin will continue her losing streak.
  • Also, while we were out, the President of the United States found it necessary to offer a prime-time address to warn of the rising menace posed to democracy itself by Donald Trump and his supporters. Joe Biden was, of course, both correct and accurate in his remarks outside of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, highlighting the fact that democracy itself will be on the ballot this fall and the threat that demagogues from the right now pose to our nation. "What’s happening in our country today is not normal," he said, though corporate media outlets seemed to have a tremendously difficult time simply pointing out how Biden's assertions were demonstrably true. By way of just one example, after a Trump rally in Pennsylvania over the weekend, in which an invited speaker discussed support for January 6 insurrectionists, including her nephew, who is literally a Hitler fan, USA Today's Francesca Chambers actually said: "President Biden and former President Trump are having some difficulties when it comes to optical issues both could have avoided." (!!!)
  • Finally today, some thoughts on the Trump-appointed federal judge in Florida who, on Monday, issued an absurd ruling ordering a Special Master to review thousands of pages of highly classified and other stolen government documents obtained by the FBI during its federal court-ordered search of Donald Trump's home at Mar-a-Lago last month. The ruling by Judge Aileen Cannon --- to appoint a Special Master to examine the documents for both executive privilege (which hasn't been claimed by Trump, and can only be asserted by Biden) and for attorney-client privilege --- was ridiculous and absurd on several counts and yet still somewhat less of an outrage than many have characterized it to be over the past 24 hours. We explain why.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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New poll finds democracy now top issue for voters; Also: Latest Trump accountability news; Midterm election news; Callers ring in on why they're voting this November...
By Brad Friedman on 8/22/2022 6:24pm PT  

Longtime listeners of The BradCast know that we see democracy as pretty much the number one issue that makes pretty much everything else possible. Even the climate crisis comes second for that reason. Congressional Democrats, on the other hand, have yet to make the threat that democracy itself now faces in America, thanks to Donald Trump and his GOP, much of a campaign issue. That's both curious and troubling, particularly following a new poll out today finding that democracy is "the most important issue facing the country for a plurality of registered voters." [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among the many stories covered on today's show --- followed by some great callers in the second half today...

  • On Sunday, a federal appeals court gave Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) a short reprieve from his scheduled testimony before the special grand jury in Georgia investigating the Trump-led criminal conspiracy to try and steal Georgia's 2020 election. Graham, who reportedly called the GA Sec. of State to see if it might be possible to toss thousands of lawfully cast votes, claims he was just doing his job as a Senator...from South Carolina...and has absolute immunity under the Constitution's "speech and debate" clause. His reprieve [PDF] from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis' probe is unlikely to last for long.
  • A different federal appeals court ruled on Friday that the Justice Department must release a memo written by its Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) during the Trump Administration, regarding then-Attorney General Bill Barr's decision to not charge the former President for some ten instances of obstruction of Robert Mueller's Special Counsel investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election. The DoJ claimed the memo, sought by a good government watchdog group under FOIA laws, was exempt from disclosure because it was part of the deliberative process in deciding whether or not to charge Trump. In fact, as a lower court previously determined, the memo was written after the DoJ had already determined they would not charge Trump.
  • Then, we move from the 2016 and 2020 elections back to the current one, now just 78 days away, when political pundits had long been telling us that Democrats would take a shellacking in Congress this November. But, as we've long noted, that Conventional Wisdom is by no means a certainty during these decidedly UNconventional times. Among the latest examples from 2022's UNconventional Times files, emotional remarks last week from a Republican South Carolina lawmaker who regrets his vote --- just weeks after casting it --- to restrict abortion in the state. He relates a disturbing story of a pregnant 19-year old woman whose water broke at 15 weeks, making the pregnancy unviable. But thanks to the state's new "fetal heartbeat" law, attorneys advised her doctors they could not extract the fetus until its heart stopped beating...two weeks later. She could have lost her uterus or even died during the interim. We share some of the state Rep's emotional response and his reasons for refusing to vote in favor of an even more draconian restriction on reproductive freedom now moving through the SC state legislature.
  • Still more today from the UNconventional Times file: Signs that inflation appears to be coming down on tons of products whose prices had surged last year. And signs, along with it, that pandemic supply chain snarls appear to finally be easing up as well.
  • Of course, all of that good news for American consumers is bad news for Republicans who have been hoping for a terrible economy to help them win back majorities in Congress this November. A new forecast from Fox "News" out today, however, finds that to be less and less likely as polling and other conditions continue to trend back in favor of Democrats. It's still an uphill climb for them in the gerrymandered House, but the GOP is clearly getting nervous. We discuss.
  • At the same time, in a lengthy deep-dive, Politico Magazine reported over the weekend that a number of old school Dems from the Carter Administration are concerned that Congressional Democrats are not making enough of a campaign issue out of the threat that Republicans now pose to American democracy itself. That, following Trump's January 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol insurrection and the boatload of bat-crap insane, Trump-endorsed 2020 election deniers who have been nominated for key positions to help decide the 2024 election in swing-states and non-swing-states alike this year. While Congressional Dems offer a reasonable argument for why they have been sticking with other issues this year --- "from energy and the environment to education, roads and infrastructure, abortion, health care, Trump and guns" --- rather than the threat posed by Republicans to democracy itself....
  • So, what do our listeners care most about this November? What issues are leading them to vote (or not vote)? We open the phones to find out and get some very good callers in response including a fun one from a confused Republican...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Stephanie Foggett of The Soufan Center...
By Brad Friedman on 8/16/2022 6:53pm PT  

We really do have (at least) two Americas at this point. One America, led by President Joe Biden and his Democratic party in Congress, who have now triumphantly signed into law the largest climate bill in U.S. history, which also includes landmark measures to make healthcare cheaper for tens of millions of Americans. And another America, which is calling for violence, mayhem and murder of American law enforcement officials, and they are led there by the disgraced former President of the United States. We discuss both Americas on today's BradCast. Apologies in advance for the whiplash. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

On Tuesday, Joe Biden signed the historic, if somewhat misleadingly named, Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), a trimmed down version of his Build Back Better Act which was blocked by all 50 Senate Republicans and two Democrat last year. The IRA, however, includes some $400 billion to finally begin tackling climate change and moving the nation from dirty fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy; institutes a $2,000 annual cap on prescription drug costs for seniors; allows Medicare to negotiate for cheaper prices with drug companies for the first time ever; and increases taxes on hugely profitable corporations that currently pay no taxes at all. It also helps pays down the deficit and a bunch of other things.

It was passed in both chambers of Congress, where Democrats hold the thinnest of majorities in each, without one single Republican vote, as the President took pains to note during his White House signing ceremony today.

"Let’s be clear," Biden said, "In this historic moment, Democrats sided with the American people, and every single Republican in the Congress sided with the special interests in this vote — every single one. In fact, big drug companies spent nearly $100 million to defeat this bill. A hundred million dollars. And remember: Every single Republican in Congress voted against this bill."

"We’re delivering results for the American people," the President boasted. "We didn’t tear down; we built up. We didn’t look back; we looked forward. And today offers further proof that the soul of America is vibrant, the future of America is bright, and the promise of America is real and just beginning."

"I know there are those here today who hold a dark and despairing view of this country," Biden said. "I’m not one of them. I believe in the promise of America. I believe in the future of this country. I believe in the very soul of this nation. And most of all, I believe in you, the American people."

As to those who do "hold a dark and despairing view of this country," many of them have been showing their true, dark colors over the past week since the FBI obtained a lawful warrant to search Donald Trump's Florida compound for highly classified and sensitive national security documents that he stole from the White House upon leaving office last year.

After Trump revealed the search publicly last week, using rhetoric seemingly chosen to incite violence --- falsely citing "prosecutorial misconduct," "weaponization of the Justice System," describing the U.S. as a "broken, Third-World Country" --- there has been what the DHS and FBI described in a bulletin last week as an "unprecedented" number of "violent threats" against federal law enforcement, courts and government personnel and facilities.

"These threats are occurring primarily online and across multiple platforms, including social media sites, web forums, video sharing platforms, and image boards," the bulletin warns. It was published the day after a Donald Trump supporter was killed following his attempt to attack an FBI field office in Ohio with a nail gun and an AR-15, and as another Trump supporter was taken into custody and charged for issuing graphic calls to "slaughter" federal officers on several different social media cites.

And while threats on far-right, neo-Nazi Internet sites reportedly spiked following Trump's announcement of the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago, it has also spiked on "mainstream" Rightwing media outlets like Fox "News", where the rhetoric --- from many of its prime time hosts and elected Republican officials alike --- has become hauntingly similar to that found on the darkest, far-right cesspools of the Internet.

We're joined today by STEPHANIE FOGGETT, a Research Fellow at The Soufan Center and Director of Global Communications at The Soufan Group, where her areas of expertise include terrorism, online extremism and the rise of white supremacy. She has a great deal of perspective to offer on this issue.

"This rhetoric is alarming, but it is not surprising, especially given the online spaces and activity that I watch every day," she tells me. "I monitor the darkest and most violent corners of this information ecosystem, and I really think, above all, it's important to know that these threats and attacks on law enforcement, they're not coming out of a vacuum."

Indeed, as Matt Gertz at Media Matters observed last week "Fox and other right-wing outlets describe the search as 'the worst attack on this republic in modern history,' part of a 'preemptive coup' to prevent Trump’s reelection, and a sign the country is now a 'tyranny.' They say the FBI is acting like 'the East German Stasi in the Cold War' and the Nazi 'Gestapo,' and call its agents part of a 'lawless criminal organization' that 'planted evidence,' bugged Trump’s bedroom, and may be planning his 'assassination.'"

"And they are quick to tell their viewers that they should fear their own persecution in the wake of the search," Gertz writes. "According to right-wing outlets, 'the real target of this investigation is you'." Just last night, Tucker Carlson, the most popular host on the nation's most popular cable "news" outlet, told viewers that President Biden is now "declar[ing] war on his own population."

"It's rinsing and repeating narratives and concerns that we saw with the Stop the Steal campaign and things like that," Foggett explains. "It's really tapping into this narrative on the far-right that if they can go after a President they will be able to come after you one day."

She worries even more "about what comes next," while offering both historical context for this current moment --- in which "every agency in America, from intelligence agencies to law enforcement agencies [have] come to the assessment that the far-right and domestic extremism is the greatest threat that America is facing today" --- and ways in which responsible Americans can respond in hopes of decreasing the threat.

"It is tricky, and there is no silver bullet. There's no one single thing that can be done to address this," Foggett asserts, before describing how individuals can be mindful of what they share online --- stuff that is meant to go viral with misleading messages --- and how "it's really about individuals in positions of power to be much more careful about the things that they say, and how they interact with the violence that this movement promises."

In short, solving this problem won't be easy, and things may get much worse before they get better. But there are ways to educate Americans about these now main-streamed extremists and ways to "isolate them by rejecting them, by ignoring them, and by denouncing them."

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more on the Democrats' historic climate bill and several alarming new reports underscoring how the measure has finally become law not a moment too soon...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Election law experts are freaking out over corrupt Court's plan to legalize stolen elections; Also: Ginni Thomas lied about J6 testimony; Defamation suit proceeds against Fox 'News'; Internet Voting scheme dead in CA...
By Brad Friedman on 7/1/2022 6:49pm PT  

We have a very serious warning for voters about elections and American democracy and the corrupt U.S. Supreme Court on today's BradCast. Please tune in and listen! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

To quickly summarize my half-hour or so long rant at the top of today show...On Thursday, as discussed on our previous show with legal expert Mark Joseph Stern, the corrupt, radical, illegitimate, not-conservative-in-the-least U.S. Supreme Court used a made-up, phony legal doctrine --- the "Major Questions" doctrine --- to justify gutting the Environmental Protection Agency's statutory mandate to protect the environment by regulating climate warming carbon emissions. The so-called doctrine, not found anywhere in the Constitution or historic case law, was made up for use by the Court's rightwing extremists. They are now about to do something very similar in order to gut federal elections and American democracy as we know it in advance of the 2024 Presidential election.

In their last order of business, before the end of this past year's term on Thursday, the Court announced that next term they would take up the North Carolina case of Moore v. Harper. The case involves a voter challenge to the state GOP's newly-drawn U.S. House maps. The NC state Supreme Court agreed the map was an unlawful gerrymander under the state constitution and drew up a fairer map. But North Carolina Republicans sued, charging that state Supreme Court was not allowed, according to the U.S. Constitution, to nix the GOP gerrymander due to the so-called "Independent State Legislature" theory. In short, it's a made up "doctrine" --- not unlike the "Major Questions" doctrine used to justify gutting the EPA --- that has been pushed for a number of years by fringe Republicans.

The ISL doctrine cites some lines from the U.S. Constitution to argue that state legislatures and only state legislatures --- not Boards of Elections or Secretaries of State or Governors or even state courts or Constitutions or popular ballot initiatives adopted by voters --- may dictate how federal elections are run. That is a job solely granted to state legislatures, according to this previously-fringe theory.

It was one of the failed arguments under which Donald Trump supporters tried to claim that emergency pandemic voting rules adopted by state officials (other than the state legislature) were unlawful in 2020. It was also one of the arguments pushed by rightwingers that state legislatures could have simply voted to name Trump electors in states where the voters actually chose Joe Biden's electors.

The "Independent State Legislature" doctrine has never been granted legitimacy by a majority on the U.S. Supreme Court. But, earlier this year, four of the Court's six radical Republicans --- Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh --- called for the Court to examine the issue more closely. They now need just one more vote to recognize this controversial Constitutional claim as "legitimate", which is why so many in the election law world are freaking out today after SCOTUS announced yesterday that they will hear 'Moore v. Harper' next term.

Usually, quite staid UC Irvine law professor Rick Hasen's argues "It's hard to overstate the danger" of this case. Vox's Ian Millhiser describes the "grave threat to US democracy" it presents. You --- and elected Democrats(!) --- should be freaking out at this point as well. Or, at least, understanding what is about to happen to what is left of our representative "democracy" if this switch gets thrown by the newly emboldened and radicalized Court.

Given the many radical, not-conservative-in-least rulings over the past several weeks by the six far-right extremists on this stolen and packed Court --- overturning Roe v. Wade, blocking the ability for states to well-regulate firearms, eroding the separation of church and state, all but gutting Miranda rights, further gutting the Voting Rights Act, and torching the EPA's ability to regulate deadly carbon pollution --- we should all be very concerned about what this Court is likely to do regarding Moore in 2023...in advance of the 2024 Presidential election.

We put the case in full context on today's BradCast, and detail why its so important to elect enough Democrats this November --- love them or hate them --- to hold the majority in the House and add enough Democrats to the Senate to finally reform or end the filibuster in order to codify Roe and respond to many of the other matters mentioned above, as well as finally expand SCOTUS to re-legitimize the de-legitimized Trump/McConnell/Roberts Court before they unleash every manner of electoral chaos --- and outright "legalized" stolen elections --- in advance of 2024.

PLEASE. PAY. ATTENTION. TO. THIS. CASE!

Beyond that red flag warning at the top of today's show, and before standing down for a few much-needed days off next week, we also catch up on several other news items of note that we've had to put off over the past week or so due to Congressional hearings, primary elections, and wholly corrupt Supreme Court opinions. Among them...

  • After rightwing activist Ginni Thomas, wife of rightwing activist Justice Clarence Thomas, was revealed to have been deeply involved in Trump's effort to steal the 2020 election, she was invited to testify to the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 insurrection. She received much coverage when she announced she would be happy to do so, declaring, "I can’t wait to clear up misconceptions. I look forward to talking to them.” You'll be shocked to learn that Ginni was lying. This week, her attorney said she will not testify because there is "not...a sufficient basis" for the Committee to interview her under oath.
  • A judge in Delaware has found that Dominion Voting Systems has presented sufficient evidence to determine that Rupert Murdoch and his son Lachlan of Fox "News" may have acted with "actual malice" when causing their Republican propaganda station to broadcast false claims that the voting system vendor helped steal the election for Joe Biden. The judge ruled that the billion dollar defamation suit against Fox may now proceed toward trial.
  • Here in California, where we recently reported on the attempt by some Democrats in the state legislature to adopt an insane Internet Voting scheme, we've got some good news. After passage in the state Senate, the matter was killed in the state Assembly following critical work by grassroots voting system and cybersecurity experts in opposition and a letter from the Sec. of State opposing the measure as well. But CA Dems keep trying to this, year after year, so watch out for another attempt in future sessions.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report on the heels of SCOTUS gutting the EPA's ability to regulate carbon emissions amid our deadly climate crisis and much more...

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Also: Polling finds more Americans seek Trump accountability after J6 hearings; U.S. Senate candidate calls for 'hunting' fellow Republicans; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 6/20/2022 5:50pm PT  

Today on The BradCast we try to reach out to so many of those Republicans and Trump dead-enders that we hear from usually only after the show. That, before Tuesday primaries and runoffs in in Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia and Washington D.C., and amid the short pause before hearings in the House J6 Committee return (tomorrow), and as the number of those who believe Trump should be charged with a crime for his attempt to steal the 2020 election continues to grow.

If we are going to save American democracy from the minority autocratic rule now sought by the bulk of the Republican Party, we need to try, at least, to speak to each other again. Even to those who have been so thoroughly groomed, for so many years --- by Fox "News", by rightwing talk radio, by elected Republican officials --- to actually believe the GOP lies that have convinced those Americans to vote against their own best interests in election after election. We must reach out, somehow, to those that still buy into Donald Trump's evidence-free claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him (as he, himself, had tried to steal it) or who were duped into sending part of the quarter of a billion bucks to his "Official Election Defense Fund" even though, as we recently learned thanks to the bipartisan J6 Committee, doesn't even exist.

So, today, in hopes of at least trying to reach some of those voters, we thought we'd share the thoughts of some longtime conservative Republican voices. Among them, the very conservative former federal appeals court judge, J. Michael Luttig who, for years, had been compared to Justices Scalia and Thomas, who 33 of Luttig's former clerks would eventually clerk for. Last week, Luttig testified to the House Select Committee, warning that Donald Trump and the Republican party remain a "clear and present danger" to American democracy, not only because of the January 6th insurrection or due to Trump's attempt to, as Luttig wrote [PDF], "steal the 2020 presidential election from the American people," but because "the former President, his allies and supporters pledged that they would attempt to overthrow that 2024 election, but succeed in 2024 where they failed in 2020." He is now calling on Republican leaders to step up to end their "war on democracy."

Also, we share a critical, must-listen commentary from former young Republican James Killen (pictured above) hoping to reach current young Republicans to keep them from making the same mistakes he did by letting them know how they've been lied to by the GOP about...well, pretty much everything, from top to bottom over the past 40 years.

Then, after an invitation to the many rightwingers who do listen to The BradCast --- which we know, because they so frequently contact me right after the show via Email or Twitter --- we open the phone lines to at least one long time Republican who is still buying in to the lies....apparently all of them, as we discuss. If we don't at least try to have these conversations, we will never end this new American uncivil war.

And where will it go from here if we don't? Well, a new campaign ad from the disgraced former Missouri Governor turned GOP primary candidate for U.S. Senate, Eric Greitens --- in which he wields a firearm and calls on fellow Republicans to go "RINO (Republican in Name Only) hunting" --- should give you a pretty good, and chilling, idea...

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Also: Cruz TX disbarment sought for 2020 steal efforts; GOP Sen. booed in WY; Young voters eager for 2022; Record majority for abortion rights...
By Brad Friedman on 5/19/2022 7:19pm PT  

What's the difference between a white supremacist mass murderer in Buffalo, NY and a GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate? Well, in terms of their racist rhetoric not a heck of a lot, it seems. That and many more reasons to both pay close attention and be skeptical of "conventional wisdom" regarding this November's critical midterm elections on today's BradCast, as American Democracy v. Violent Strongman Authoritarianism is most definitely on the ballot in every state this year. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among the stories underscoring all of that on today's program...

  • A number of the attorneys who helped Donald Trump try to steal the 2020 election have had their law licenses suspended or are facing permanent disbarment. One attorney who has yet to be held accountable in any way, however, is Sen. Ted Cruz, who volunteered to represent Trump in two different bogus election challenges before the U.S. Supreme Court; knowingly spread false claims of fraud; and then voted against certification of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory even after Trump's deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. A bipartisan group is now hoping to change that. This week, they filed a complaint with the State Bar of Texas, seeking an investigation into possible disbarment for the sleazy Texas Senator/still-licensed attorney.
  • Speaking of sleazy still-licensed Texas attorneys, the state's chief law enforcement officer, Attorney General Ken Paxton now says he has been sued by the Texas State Bar for misconduct. Paxton has already been charged with several securities fraud felonies; is being investigated by the FBI for abuse of power and bribery after a federal criminal complaint by eight of his top former deputies; and brought a laughable case to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to toss the 2020 election results in four states that were not Texas. It is for his help in trying to steal the election for Trump at SCOTUS that has resulted in the state Bar's lawsuit against him. Paxton is running for re-election anyway. On Tuesday he's in a runoff election with the state's Land Commissioner George P. Bush (the very Trumpy son of Jeb and nephew of the guy who made "one of the biggest Freudian slips of all time" at Southern Methodist University yesterday.) No sooner did Paxton get sued by the state bar then he turned around and opened an investigation into the Texas Bar Foundation for "facilitating mass influx of illegal aliens" --- ya know, the stuff that racist "great replacement" conspiracy theories are made of.
  • And speaking of the racist "great replacement" conspiracy theory, as repeatedly cited by the white supremacist domestic terrorist who murdered 10 and wounded 3 others in a Buffalo supermarket in a predominantly black neighborhood last weekend, a whole bunch of Republicans running for the U.S. Senate this year have been using nearly identical rhetoric to that racist murderer for a very long time. The once-fringe, now mainstream rightwing theory claims that Democrats are hoping to replace white American voters with immigrants, Jews and people of color to control the electorate with one-party rule. Or something. And, in the wake of Trump's embrace of white nationalism as President, AP highlighted a bevvy of mainstream GOP Senate candidates this year --- either running for reelection or for the party's nomination --- whose rhetoric on immigration directly echoes the same baseless, racist fear-mongering. Their list includes Blake Masters in Arizona; A.G. Eric Schmitt and disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens in Missouri; GOP Senate nominee J.D. Vance in Ohio; and two-term U.S. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. The full list of elected and hopeful GOP officials who also espouse rhetoric shared by rightwing domestic terrorists is obviously much, much longer.
  • And speaking of domestic terrorists, the U.S. House passed the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act (again) on Wednesday. All Democrats voted for it. Every Republican, except for retiring Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, voted against it. Democrats vow to bring it up in the Senate next week. It may be a heavy lift over the undemocratic 60-vote filibuster threshold in the upper chamber. Too bad it wasn't called the Domestic Terrorism by Non-White People Prevention Act. It might have easily passed in both chambers, as most legislation related to terrorism that doesn't target white supremacists tends to.
  • And, speaking of extremism, on Thursday, the Oklahoma legislature passed a new law that, if signed by the Governor, would ban nearly all abortions starting at fertilization, which would make it the nation's strictest abortion law. It would also, in turn, make certain forms of birth control --- like IUDs, The Bill, Plan B, which don't necessarily prevent fertilization, but prevent implantation of a fertilized egg --- a form of "abortion" or, in Oklahoma, a homicide. More Republican-controlled states are likely to follow suit, despite the vast majority of Americans who support abortion rights. Please keep all of this in mind in November.
  • And, speaking of this November, polling last month from the Harvard Youth Poll suggests --- contrary to "conventional wisdom" --- that young voters are very eager to vote this year. The number who say they are "definitely" voting in the 2022 election is almost identical to the number who said same before the 2018 "blue wave" election. That could be good news for Democrats. Again, please ignore "conventional wisdom" in these decidedly unconventional times.
  • And, speaking of young people, even in deep "red" Wyoming, they don't dig attacks on LGBTQ+ people --- yes, even trans people --- as the state's U.S. Senator Cynthia Lummis found out the embarrassing way during a commencement address she gave over the weekend at the University of Wyoming. It took a while, but now she "apologizes" if she offended anyone with her remarks that were broadly booed during the speech at the school once attended by Matthew Shepard, the young gay man who was brutally beaten and left to die on a fence nearly 25 years ago. He became one of the namesakes of the landmark Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
  • And, speaking of civil rights for all --- and of keeping Big Government and the GOP's stolen and packed Supreme Court out of our bedrooms and doctor's offices --- support for abortion rights has reached a record high in a new NBC News poll following the leak of SCOTUS' draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade and its 50 years of protection for reproductive rights. The poll also finds support for same-sex marriage (perhaps next on the chopping block after Roe's Constitutionally established right to privacy is killed) at an all time high, while approval for the High Court is at an all time, 30-year low in this particular poll.

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Guest: Omar Ocampo of Inequality.org: Also: NE, WV primary results and who cares what they mean for Trump?; Senate abortion vote; Federal court ruling on semi-automatic weapons sales to children in CA...
By Brad Friedman on 5/11/2022 6:35pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: Sure, the supply chain was, and occasionally still is, a problem. So is Russia's war on Ukraine, obviously. But it's the greed of billionaires and the cowardice (or corruption) of public officials to do anything about that greed in this country that must be turned around in order to save the U.S. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first, speaking of corruption...New numbers out today from the Labor Department suggest that inflation may have peaked before April. As the Times alerted today, "Inflation moderated slightly in April, though the 8.3% annual gain in U.S. consumer prices remained uncomfortably high." As AP trumpeted in its breaking news iPhone alert: "U.S. inflation slowed slightly last month, a tentative sign that prices may be peaking while still imposing a financial strain on American households." Reuters: "U.S. consumer price growth slowed sharply to 0.3% in April, suggesting that inflation may have peaked." They were all similar....Well, except for Fox "News": "Inflation higher than expected in April, holding near 40-year high."

And you wonder why Rightwingers are so angry? It's still the Fox "News", stupid.

And speaking of stupid...Midterm primaries were held in Nebraska and West Virginia on Tuesday. (Happily, unlike in Ohio last week, we saw no reports of voting problems or voting system breakdowns, so far.) As you may have noticed, pretty much every news report about Tuesday's results focused on what they mean for Donald Trump and his party and the candidates he endorsed. The incumbent U.S. House member that Trump endorsed in WV who ran for the GOP nomination against another incumbent U.S. House member who voted for Joe Biden's bipartisan infrastructure bill won on Tuesday. Kingmaker Trump's power over the party is still strong! But the 8-time accused sexual harasser that Trump endorsed and stumped for in NE's GOP Gubernatorial primary lost. Trump's influence may be faltering!

As we discuss today, that framing by the corporate media --- reporting on these critical elections through the lens of Trump --- is wildly unhelpful and ill-serves the public at a time when democracy itself is on the line this November (and in 2024). It's not about Trump. He's already captured and broken the party. And that is true if he drops dead tomorrow and Ron DeSantis --- or anyone else --- takes his place. The damage is done. So, how can we fix it? Much more on that on today's show.

And speaking of failures all around... as the nation's death toll from COVID hits a staggering 1 million... The nation's corporations and rich people are doing just fine, thanks.

Big Oil continues to raise prices at the pump for consumers by pretending that its caused by post-pandemic supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine, even as they continue to rake in record profits (not revenue, but profits) in recent months. The profiteering --- under the guise of supply chain-induced "inflation" --- is also seen in other industries, of course, including the food industry, as well as the apparel business. In their latest reports on the industry profiteering, Accountable.us President Kyle Herrig appropriately derides "the industries most unapologetic about charging their customers more during a fragile economic recovery, apparently just because they can." And they can, because we let them develop monopolies and near-monopolies so there is little or no price competition left in the "free market".

And then there are the the nation's 727 billionaires whose growth in net worth over the two-plus years of the pandemic --- while you were struggling to stay employed, housed and fed --- is up $1.71 trillion from March 2020 to May 2022. That's a gain of more than the entire annual GDP of Canada for just those 727 U.S. billionaires. The biggest winner seems to have been Elon Musk, whose personal wealth was valued at just under $25 billion in March of 2020. Now, after two years of a pandemic economy, his wealth is said to be $255 billion as of the beginning of this month.

How did that happen? Why did that happen? What can and should be done about it? And does anyone in D.C. --- any one, from any party --- have the courage and ability to lead the nation to do anything about it?

All of those questions and more are answered today by our guest, OMAR OCAMPO of the Institute for Policy Studies' Program on Inequality and the Common Good, who asks today, "What about the rest of us? The median income, comparing 2020 to 2021, for your average U.S. worker has actually decreased by $2,000. And our median household wealth, comparing 2019 to 2001, has actually decreased. So yes, when you look at it by income or wealth percentile, it has been the top 10%, but especially the top 1%, that have seen impressive gains."

Ocampo helps explain how it happened, and what steps can and must be made to reverse this obscene continuing trend. Among the policy ideas discussed --- several of which have long been pushed by members of the progressive caucus in Congress --- a wealth tax on the assets of the richest Americans; partial student loan forgiveness; establishing a federal Commission on Profiteering, empowered with the ability to claw back some of what has been robbed from American consumers; strengthening organized labor and democracy itself.

And, yes, he explains, that will mean voting for more Democrats in Congress and at all levels of government. Hopefully good ones. Or this is going to continue to get much, much worse.

"The Republicans, from an ideological perspective, they are not interested in having some type of government intervention in order to solve societal problems," Ocampo charges. "They normally pivot towards philanthropy. But now is not the time to pivot to philanthropy, mainly because philanthropy does not scale, and it also denies public accountability for social problems or things that have to deal with the public good. So issues that affect the public should involve public input, and it should be carried out by democratic institutions."

"Economic inequality translates into political inequality. And the greater your material resources, the greater your access to participate in the state," he tells me. "This is very detrimental to democracy, because it makes the democratic institutions unresponsive to what the majority wants. The majority wants increased taxes on the wealthy, but it never seems to happen. That's probably because of their influence they have on both political parties."

"Elections matter, and to alleviate, especially in the short term, it would be best to elect Democrats. Because there is a section of the Democratic Party, specifically those that self-identify as progressives, who care about wealth inequality and know that it has distorting effects across our whole society."

Finally today, speaking of things getting much worse... Democrats held a show vote in the U.S. Senate to codify abortion rights (the Constitutional freedoms about to be taken away by the stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court) after the Women's Health Protect Act was already passed by Democrats in the House. As expected, all Republicans and Joe Manchin voted against it, so the measure failed to reach the 60 votes necessary to do almost anything in the undemocratic Senate.

And, also breaking during today's program, an insane, corrupted federal appeals court in California decided that the state's law restricting the purchase of semi-automatic firearms to those 21 or older is a violation of the Constitution's 2nd Amendment. So, yup, apparently 12-year olds in CA can now buy semi-automatic weapons! Have fun, kids!

Did I mention we need more democracy and fewer corrupted federal judges? Yeah, that also comes with voting. Please get busy. Thanks...

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Callers respond on Kremlin talking points echoed by some on the Left, and on why Americans support Biden's Ukraine policies while disapproving of his policy on Ukraine. (You read that right.)
By Brad Friedman on 5/2/2022 5:51pm PT  

We had a very lively call-in show today on The BradCast, as we stacked the deck with folks who disagree with me, in response to my calling out those, particularly on the (supposed) Left, for forwarding Kremlin propaganda (including at on our own flagship station, KPFK, here in Los Angeles), over our public airwaves, amid Russia's deadly and grotesque war and war crimes against Ukraine. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Before we get to that and to a bunch of callers on that topic...The midterm primary season gets under way in earnest this week --- with Ohio and Indiana voters holding Election Day tomorrow. So, we've got a few quick words on that, and on the gerrymandered U.S. House District map that Republicans have managed to keep in play this year, even though it was found --- four times to date! --- to be in violation of the Ohio state Constitution by its state Supreme Court. But, as we discussed in detail last week, the GOP's packed federal courts allowed the even more gerrymandered map drawn after 2010 to be used once again in this year's election, as Ohio's GOP-majority Redistricting Commission purposely ran out the clock on drawing new legal maps following the 2020 Census.

Then, it's on to our main topic: Namely, Russia's ongoing military invasion of its sovereign neighbor and the propaganda help Vladimir Putin is getting from some on the far-Left in this country who are lying and/or misinformed about it all. Hopefully, via at least some of the calls from listeners today, we straighten out at least some of what happens to be Kremlin propaganda and what is not.

It remains unclear some on the Left --- who claim to be anti-war (like us), who were critical of the U.S. when we were the empire invading a sovereign nation (as we were) --- are now having such a difficult time condemning Russia for doing the very same thing. Our anti-war position has been both accurate and consistent. As you'll hear on today's program, at least a few of our listeners seem to have a problem with that sort of consistency, choosing to blame the U.S. for Russia's war.

Today's lively conversation also comes as new polling from WaPo/ABC finds huge, bipartisan majorities of Americans support Joe Biden's actions in Ukraine, including his vow to keep American troops out of the conflict, sanctions against Russia; and sending defensive weaponry, humanitarian and economic aid to Ukraine. Despite that, in the very same poll, only a minority of Americans say they support Joe Biden's actions in Ukraine! Ya know, the same ones they previously said in the very same poll that they supported. Seriously. So, what's going on here? We open the phones to callers to try and help us understand that puzzle as well today.

Among the lively calls, several who try to forward more Russia propaganda on Ukraine (it didn't go well), and one who seemed disappointed, oddly enough, that the U.S. was trying to stay out of the direct conflict in hopes of avoiding a nuclear World War III.

As noted...a lively, but also kinda crazy program today with a lot of callers both fun and "fun". So we expect you may enjoy it!...Or you won't...

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Guest: John Bonifaz of Free Speech for People; Also: Macron's victory; Trump found in contempt in NY, fined $10k/day until subpoena answered...
By Brad Friedman on 4/25/2022 6:43pm PT  

Well, we're back after a much-needed break last week on The BradCast. (Thanks to Nicole Sandler for covering for us for a few days!) As it turns out, disappointingly, news didn't stop just because we were gone!

First up today, some very good news from over the weekend and from this afternoon...

According to Exit Polling (which tends to accurately report on Europe's various hand-marked, hand-counted balloting) on Sunday, center-right French President Emmanuel Macron defeated far-right extremist Marine Le Pen to win a second five-year term. The European Union and democracy-lovers everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief following the apparently failed third try by Le Pen --- a supporter of Trump, Putin and other far-right autocrats and an opponent of NATO, the EU and immigrants --- to win the Presidency. It was the first time in 20 years that a French President has won a second term. Macron did so by a comfortable 17 points, based on Sunday surveys. Le Pen's far-right coalition will now shift their efforts to Parliamentary elections coming up in June.

More good news today, this time out of New York, where the Judge overseeing state Attorney General Letitia James' civil probe of alleged bank, tax and insurance fraud by Donald Trump, his kids and the Trump Organization has found him in contempt. Trump is now being fined $10,000/day until he adequately answers the AG's subpoenas for documents. "Today, justice prevailed," James said in a statement following following the Judge's order. “For years, Donald Trump has tried to evade the law and stop our lawful investigation into him and his company’s financial dealings. Today’s ruling makes clear: No one is above the law." But, in potentially even better news, Asst. Attorney General Kevin Wallace is quoted by AP as saying "We plan to bring enforcement action in the near future". Translation: Trump is about to face serious civil litigation in NY that could ultimately break up and/or bankrupt his company, if successful.

At the same time, the Manhattan District Attorney's criminal investigation into many of the same matters, regarding Trump committing fraud over many years by lying on his annual financial statements, continues as well.

The quest for accountability in the wake of our failed former President's attempt to steal the 2020 also continues elsewhere. On Friday, Georgia's far-right Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene became the first sitting member of Congress to answer questions under oath about involvement in the January 6th, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Her testimony in an Atlanta courtroom, following a ruling to allow it by a federal judge, came in response to a ballot eligibility challenge filed by several voters in her 14th Congressional District. They charge Greene is ineligible for office based on Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment. The so-called Insurrection Disqualification Clause bars from office those who, after previously taking an oath to defend the Constitution, subsequently "engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same" or have "given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof."

Greene was just one of the members of Congress who was neck-deep in the attempts by Trump and his MAGA Mob to block the certification of Joe Biden's 2020 election victory. She even went so far, as video produced by the plaintiff revealed, as to threaten violence to prevent the peaceful transfer of power to the new President. On Friday, Greene sat for several hours of questioning from attorneys at Free Speech for People (FSFP) who are representing voter-clients in Georgia, as well as several other states where voters are challenging the eligibility of elected officials who "engaged in insurrection" or gave "aid or comfort" to those who did.

Today, we step through her prevaricating testimony from Friday, in which she attempted to lie about charging that Democratic U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had committed treason ("punishable by death," Greene noted in the video she initially tried to pretend did not exist) and about expressing approval for a comment on her own Facebook page calling for a "bullet to the head" of the Speaker.

Much of Greene's testimony consisted of dozens of "I don't recall" and "I don't remember" responses to the plaintiff attorneys, even as her memory was suddenly razor sharp when it came to remembering tweets, comments and other social media posts and videos cited by her own defense attorneys. While Greene claimed she never called for violence, the clear record proves otherwise.

We're joined today by JOHN BONIFAZ, Co-founder and President of FSFP, the group working with voters bringing the challenges to Greene in GA, as well as Rep. Madison Cawthorn in North Carolina, Reps. Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs in Arizona, and against far-right AZ State Rep. Mark Finchem, the Trump-endorsed Republican candidate for Secretary of State.

Bonifaz offers his reaction to Friday's hearing and Greene's attempt to evade accountability for her role in the 2021 insurrection. He also offers updates on the appeals filed in federal court in North Carolina (where a Trump-appointed judge rejected FSFP's challenge to Cawthorn's candidacy on a rather remarkable basis, as discussed) and in AZ, where a Maricopa County Superior Court Judge on Friday dismissed FSFP's challenge to Gosar, Biggs and Finchem. In that case, as Bonifaz details, the judge rejected the Constitutional challenge not on the merits, but on the claim that private citizens have no right to sue under the 14th Amendment. Bonifaz, a longtime, well-respected Constitutional law expert, explains why he believes the AZ judge is wrong (for example, he observes, it would allow a 14-year old or Vladimir Putin to run for Congress!) and the basis for which his organization is appealing that ruling.

Meanwhile, back in Georgia, the state administrative law judge who oversaw Friday's testimony, Charles Beaudrot (a corporate tax attorney who was initially appointed by a Republican Governor), will soon give his recommendation to Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger as to whether Greene should be disqualified from the mid-term ballot. Raffensperger will then decide whether to accept Beaudrot's recommendation or not.

No matter how it all shakes out, Bonifaz tells me today, the federal court ruling which allowed the challenge to go forward in the state last week is a victory in and of itself.

"Independent of what happened in the hearing on Friday," Bonifaz says, "what's happened is the door has now been opened for somebody like Donald Trump --- or anyone else who took an oath of office and engaged in insurrection --- being held accountable in Georgia. That door is now open because the precedent is there for voters to be able to challenge them based on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. Assuming its upheld by the 11th Circuit (Greene's attorney, who also works for Trump, is appealing the U.S. District Court Judge's ruling) that means there will be a challenge, I think, to Donald Trump appearing on the Georgia ballot in 2024."

There's lots more in today's conversation with Bonifaz! Please tune in...

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Guest: Political scientist David Faris; Also: Finland, Sweden may join NATO in 'weeks'; Listeners on Trump corruption, Thomas impeachment...
By Brad Friedman on 4/13/2022 7:04pm PT  

We repeatedly advised, back in 2016, that voters should ignore the so-called Conventional Wisdom heard from so-called "experts" and TV pundits at the time who insisted, over and again, there was no way Donald Trump could ever become President. Today on The BradCast we've got many more such reasons why Americans should similarly ignore Conventional Wisdom in these times which have proven to be anything but conventional. [Audio link to full story is posted below this summary..]

First, a little over a month ago, the Conventional Wisdom was that Russia's powerful military would quickly take over Ukraine within days, that NATO would likely have trouble uniting in their response, and that the entire organization itself could be on precarious grounds. Not only did all of that Conventional Wisdom prove to be wrong, but on Wednesday, Finland and Sweden, which have remained neutral for decades (if not centuries, in Sweden's case) announced they are very seriously considering joining the Western military alliance, perhaps as soon as in the coming weeks, after witnessing what happened to Ukraine. Yes, contrary to Conventional Wisdom, NATO may end up stronger and even larger than it has been in years.

In other Conventional Wisdom worth ignoring today, we are being told that Democrats are going to take a shellacking in this November's elections and are likely to lose their majorities in both the U.S. House and Senate in the bargain. Conventional Wisdom has it that the party in power before the midterms, especially with an unpopular President in the White House, pays a big price in those election years. Of course, that may well prove to be the case. But, as noted, these are not conventional times. Moreover, this year's elections are far more than a contest between Democrats and Republicans. They are no less than a contest between Democracy and Authoritarianism.

We're joined today by Roosevelt University political scientist DAVID FARIS, author of It's Time to Fight Dirty: How Democrats Can Build a Lasting Majority in American Politics and The Kids Are All Left: How Young Voters Will Unite America.

He recently penned a column at The Week, where he is a regular contributor, headlined "Democrats could still win in November. No, really." Really? Yes, really. Faris joins us to discuss how he believes it's still possible that Democratic candidates and President Biden can still take action to, at the very least, hold on to the U.S. Senate this fall and why, as he notes in the conclusion of his article, "it is still possible to squint and see a winning environment for Democrats this November."

His recommendations include, among other things we discuss today, Biden's use of his executive power to exercise the Defense Production Act; to take on corporate price-gouging and monopolies; and to combat Big Oil profiteering. Next, he explains how Democrats must turn the Right's idiotic (if effective) culture war --- banning books, threatening teachers who discuss race and gender, making abortion illegal --- against them, by boldly and aggressively taking on "radical Republican authoritarianism". And, yes, Dems need to loudly describe it as such.

"The stakes of these midterm elections are extraordinarily high," Faris explains, "because the Republican Party is like a proto-authoritarian cult. And every time that they are up for power, it could be the last free election that we have, as we currently understand them. And as long as that iteration of the Republican Party is what it is, every single national election that we hold here in the United States will have extraordinarily high stakes, because the Republicans are telling us exactly what they plan to do with their power."

"What we have to do is go on the offensive on some of these things. We have to identify the pieces of these culture war items, the panic of the day, most of which is not popular at all. The public does not support silencing public school teachers. People like teachers. The public does not support NOT teaching about slavery. The public does not support book banning."

"What's happening in Republican states is a comprehensive assault on human liberty," he argues. "These laws where you have people informing on one another --- cut an ad with what they did in East Germany. They had the Stasi, had people turn on each other and turn each other in. That's what this stuff is. It's authoritarian attempts to insinuate the Republican Party's priorities into our private lives and into our relationships with our fellow citizens, all in the service of creating this authoritarian dystopia where women are deprived of their rights and LGBTQ people are put back into their place."

He goes on to note that Dems may get some help from the Supreme Court between now and November, as the GOP's stolen and packed SCOTUS majority appears ready to turn back the clock on reproductive rights. "It will be a dark day in the United States when I think the Supreme Court overturns 'Roe v. Wade' sometime this summer. And this is a terrible tragedy that will impact the lives of many millions of women. It's just the first step in a path to gender tyranny, gender apartheid. It's a dark vision that they have for this country. But it could scramble the whole political landscape in this country in ways that we simply cannot anticipate right now."

The alternative to Dems shaking of their malaise and going on the bold offensive is detailed in Faris' more recent piece at The Week, headlined "Countdown to the Democrats' doomsday." That one persuasively explains how, by 2024, Republicans could end up winning a majority trifecta in D.C., with control of the White House, House of Representatives and, yes, even a filibuster-proof majority in the U.S. Senate.

So, yeah. It's time to ignore the Conventional Wisdom and get busy to help save this country and democracy itself. The alternative should be too grim by now to even contemplate. (Or, it would be, if the progressive side of the aisle had a media machine even close to what now exists on the Right.)

Finally, some listener mail (we got a lot of it!) in response to Monday's show with The Nation's John Nichols, in which we discussed accountability for the Trump Crime Family and the need to impeach the corrupt far-right active Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas...

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Guest: Amy Slipowitz of Freedom House; Also: Keeping up with the wildly corrupt Clarence and Ginni Thomas; Some good news for EVs in the U.S....
By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2022 7:08pm PT  

I don't think "freedom" means what many on the Right in this country seem to think it means. Our guest on The BradCast today, an expert in such things, seems to agree. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

First up, Lord Manchin has spoken! We'll soon learn if Lady Sinema agrees. But, for now at least, West Virginia's Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is not taking the bait from Republicans this time around. He says he will be be voting in favor of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Joe Biden's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, after a week in which she was flogged by all sorts of stuff and nonsense from an increasingly ridiculous, pathetic and extreme Republican caucus in the U.S. Senate. We don't yet know if the other obstructionist Democratic Senator, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, agrees, but if so --- and presuming all 50 Democratic Senators stay healthy between now and the time they hold a vote to confirm Judge Jackson --- we should have our first black female Supreme Court Justice on the High Court very soon.

But, speaking of both corruption and the Supreme Court, its longest-serving and arguably most corrupt Justice (though there's much competition here), Clarence Thomas has reportedly been discharged from the hospital after a week of treatment for a still unspecified "infection". After waiting two days to report that he'd been admitted in the first place last Friday, the Court said on Sunday that the 73-year old Thomas would be out of the hospital after receiving intravenous antibiotics for his "flu-like symptoms" by Tuesday. But after Wednesday and Thursday happened without any updates on his condition or whereabouts, we are told he was finally released on Friday, though no more information was provided on either his condition or his ailment.

That news comes a day after his similarly corrupt, far-right activist wife Ginni Thomas made headlines again on Thursday, when news of a series of insane text messages she sent to then White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was made public on Thursday afternoon. The messages Ginni sent to Meadows in November of 2020 included loony conspiracy theories claiming the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump and instructed Meadows to fight to overturn the results finding that Joe Biden had won.

And all of that was going on even as Ginni's husband Clarence was voting (thankfully) in the minority on the Court in favor of Trump's various dumb challenges to the results of the election he lost, and for attempts to block things like lawful Congressional subpoenas, which would include Ginni's messages to Meadows, from being shared with the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6th 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Of course, Clarence, who has been trying to hide both his and his wife's corruption for decades now, never recused himself from any of those cases, despite the outrageous conflicts of interest caused by his far-right activist wife. Luckily for them both, they are Republicans. So his corruption on the bench will likely be allowed to continue.

But, It is that sort of corruption and much more from the unapologetic Rightwing in this country --- as opposed to a lack of "freedom" to go maskless during the worst pandemic in a century --- that has helped precipitate the United States' fall in the annual Freedom House ranking on the condition of political rights and civil liberties in nations across the globe.

The non-partisan group's 2022 report is titled "The Global Expansion of Authoritarian Rule." It follows on last year's, titled "Democracy Under Siege," which we discussed at the time of its release on this show with one of its co-authors. In both, the U.S. no longer even cracks the top 50 most "Free" countries anymore, based on the 25 indicators measured by the group of international experts who work with Freedom House, which, founded in 1941, describes itself as "the oldest American organization devoted to the support and defense of democracy around the world."

After 16 consecutive years now of what Freedom House warns to be a "decline in global freedom," in which democracies are becoming less democratic and authoritarianism continues to rise across the globe, the U.S. now ranks at about 63rd on the list. It's tied with nations like South Korea, Romania and Panama, and and comes in just behind nations like Argentina, Mongolia, Croatia and Latvia on their Freedom House's index. We are now far behind Slovenia and the Czech Republic and, according to this year's report, have nowhere near the Freedoms available in nations such as Taiwan, Estonia or Chile, much less Australia, Switzerland, Japan, Uruguay, the Netherlands, Canada and New Zealand. For the record, the nations tied for the most "Free" in the world: Norway, Finland and Sweden.

Our guest today is AMY SLIPOWITZ, Freedom House Research Manager and co-author of their flagship annual report. Our conversation includes the methodologies used in compiling the group's findings and how they define what "freedom" actually is. "It's pretty simple," she explains. "To us, freedom means democracy, a governing system based on the will and consent of the governed. It has institutions that are accountable to all citizens. These include things like an independent judiciary, free media, and strong civil society. And ultimately, a democracy is the best system for ensuring that everyone's human rights are respected, no matter who they voted for."

What are the key differences between this year's reports and last year's? "The main driver that we found for the decline in 2021 was that autocrats are increasingly cooperating and supporting each other in their attacks on democratic norms and institutions," Slipowitz asserts. "And with this, authoritarians have made really enormous gains in the international system. So they've been able to use that influence to promote autocracy as a viable alternative to democracy. The cooperation isn't based on any unifying ideology, or even friendship or affinity among authoritarians, but on a single shared interest, which is to stay in power by any means necessary."

"A key part of this is trying to transform the international system, where the rules-based international order no longer applies," she adds. "So that's where you see authoritarian regimes causing conflict and other really egregious abuses. We've seen this manifest with things like more military coups, more elections with pre-determined outcomes, power grabs. To give just a couple of examples, military coups happened in five countries this year. This was more common in 2021 than in any year of the past decade."

Among the related issues discussed with Slipowitz: What are the greatest factors in the slow decline of freedom and democracy across the globe over the past 15 years and the sudden plunge in freedom seen in 2020? Why is the U.S. now ranked so low on the Freedom House index, near the bottom of its index of "Free" nations? How much of a factor was the January 6th insurrection last year and new restrictions on voting in the U.S. in their determination? Does the rest of the world still consider the U.S. to be a "beacon of freedom" worth following and emulating? How do mask and vaccine mandates amid the COVID pandemic, dramatically cited by many on the Right as the death of personal freedom, play into this year's ratings? How about the banning of books and the teaching of subjects such as systemic racism and sexuality? And, have we seen a similar years-long decline in global democracy and rise of authoritarianism at any other time in recent history?

"It's much easier to dismantle democratic systems than it is to build them back up," Slipowitz warns. "For the U.S. to recover from this 11-point decline over ten years, it's really important that the more structural issues be strengthened and fixed." All of that and much more during our enlightening --- and occasionally chilling --- conversation.

Finally today, some quick coverage of several good(ish) news stories we had hoped to cover yesterday, but had to dump at the last minute, thanks to the breaking news of the wildly corrupt Thomas clan. Among those stories: the rise in gas prices due to Big Oil profiteering and Russia's war in Ukraine is leading to a huge increase among American car buyers interest in battery-powered electric vehicles and hybrids; Emerging evidence that the Biden Administration may considering use of the Defense Production Act to build electric heat pumps here in the U.S. to help replace some 75 million oil and gas furnaces in Europe, currently dependent on Russian gas (as we discussed recently with climate journalist and activist Bill McKibben); And a doubling of the number of battery-powered electric delivery trucks being ordered by the U.S. Postal Service and its corrupt Postmaster, Louis DeJoy. (That still only amounts to a bare one-fifth of the new trucks being ordered at the moment to replace the aging, gas-guzzling USPS fleet...but we're still working on it!)

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Guest: Prof. Jeffrey Sonnenfeld of Yale School of Management; Also: More climate-fueled disasters in LA, TX; And, where is Clarence Thomas?...
By Brad Friedman on 3/23/2022 6:47pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: If you might otherwise expect a Senior Associate Dean at Yale University's School of Business Management to be a stodgy, rightwing, so-called pro-business conservative, think again. The one joining us today, naming and shaming major international corporations for continuing to do business with Russia even after their barbaric, nearly month-long destruction of Ukraine, is anything but. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But first up today, very quickly, what you need to know about the deadly tornado swarm that slammed Louisiana and Texas overnight. It's just the latest in an increasingly long and violent string of climate change-fueled disasters slamming both states. Desi Doyen explains what climate scientists are learning about changes in tornadic weather as our climate crisis worsens in places like her old home state of Texas which, in recent years, has faced one such costly and deadly disaster after another (as the Republicans who control the state pretend fossil fuels have nothing to do with it.) From hurricanes to flooding to cold snaps that knock out power to the recent drought and wild fires which, at least last night's storms helped, in part, to have quelled a bit for now.

Next: Where is Clarence Thomas? The wildly corrupt U.S. Supreme Court Justice was admitted to the hospital last Friday, though the Court didn't announce it until Sunday, when their statement said he was being treated with intravenous antibiotics for an "infection" and "flu-like symptoms." The Court said on Sunday that the 73-year old Thomas would be out of the hospital by Monday or Tuesday. But, as of Wednesday, the Court had no comment on his whereabouts or his condition. Hmm...That, as Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson faced another ridiculous day of childish questioning from Republicans in her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings to replace Justice Stephen Breyer on the High Court.

Then, we're joined by Yale School of Management's Senior Associate Dean and Professor of Management Practice JEFFREY SONNENFELD for a very lively discussion of the more than 450 American and international corporations that have withdrawn partially or fully from Russia, and the smaller (but still substantive and extremely shameful) number of companies still doing business there during Putin's deadly siege on his sovereign neighbor.

Sonnenfeld and his team of colleagues and researchers at the school began by compiling a list of those companies who had pulled out of Russia shortly after Putin's invasion, and those that had yet to. That "Hall of Shame" list has since gained a great deal of public attention and, he tells us, has both helped to both encourage and shame CEOs into shutting their doors in Russia.

"We just had a session with 70 CEOs --- you're the first to know about this --- major CEOs across the face of American industry, with General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff," Sonnenfeld tells us. "And he did emphasize that they are working off our list. We're humbled by that, but we know that people on Wall Street and the activist community are using it" as well.

Since its initial creation, the list is now broken down into more specific categories, including companies that have announced a full "Withdrawal"; others which merely declared a "Suspension" of operations for now; those that are "Scaling Back" by reducing operations; and the two most pernicious categories of companies that are either "Buying Time" by postponing new investments while continuing substantive business or, worst of all, "Digging In" by defying all demands to leave or even reduce operations there.

While Sonnenfeld notes that the list remains "a moving target", with several companies see their rating changed even as we went to air (the fossil fuel services giant Halliburton was moved from the worst, "Digging In," to the second worst, "Buying Time" today, for example), you'll be delighted to know our friends at the rightwing dark money conglomerate Koch Industries and its crappy paper subsidiaries like Georgia-Pacific, are staying put with Team Fascist Dictator for now.

On the other hand, Sonnenfeld says that he was pleasantly surprised that a number of Big Oil companies, "not usually on the leading edge of social change," pulled out early on. But, he has a thought or two for companies like Dunkin Donuts, Nestle, Mars candy and, yes, the rightwing Koch Industries, which, for its part, says they are staying in Russia for what they describe as the "health, safety and wellbeing of all employees. Leaving, they assert, "would only put our employees there at greater risk and do more harm than good."

Koch also justified their decision by claiming they refuse to "hand over these manufacturing facilities to the Russian government so it can operate and benefit from them." Sonnefeld identifies that as closer to the real reason Koch doesn't want to leave. "It's so ludicrous, on every level," he tells me. "There are now millions and million of employees that used to work for Western companies" now out of work in Russia. If all of those companies pulled out, "there wouldn't be a shred of legitimacy for the government. It would make the revolution happen instantly." He argues Russia couldn't "round up fifteen million people and then figure out what to do with them because they're not working for Western companies anymore. It's ridiculous."

Even companies like McDonald's, which has at least done the right thing by shuttering its 850 stores in Russia, only gets a "B" grade on the list's second, "Suspension" category, as they continue to pay their workers there in hopes of returning. "It allows Putin and Putin supporters to say, 'This was just ceremonial, it's temporary. You don't need to worry, they're not really leaving, they'll be back.'"

When asked if the company should receive plaudits for helping to keep their from going hungry, Sonnenfeld is unimpressed. "Those 60,000 people should be out of work and in the streets. That's what people don't understand on this," he insists. "They say, 'Oh, innocent Russians aren't responsible for what Putin is doing.' Yes, they are! It's their complacency. Putin is in power, not because he is popularly elected. He rules because of this iron fist of being a murderous tyrant. To take that on you've got to go in there with warfare. If we don't want to do that, one thing we can do to help those innocent Russians is to at least get them angry to be part of a civil disobedience, to be part of a shutdown of civil society."

He cites "bloodless revolutions" elsewhere, charging that "if you freeze up the economy, then you get people angry, out on the streets, and they bring down the government. But to keep them complacent and comfortable, that does no good whatsoever."

While recognizing the lack of a free press in Russia at this point, Sonnenfeld also has little sympathy. "It's because they willingly don't want to know. It isn't just because they don't get a free press. When all their favorite brands shut down and they're out of work --- if all of these non-Russian companies say 'You're a rogue nation!' --- maybe they'll start to realize that what Putin is telling them, that he's trying to 'liberate' Ukraine, they'll realize that's not true."

As you might guess, Sonnenfeld, the author of many books and academic papers on business management, leadership, and corporate governance, has much more to say on this subject and on the many companies who have done what he sees as the right thing, as well as those he feels should be penalized by the American people for failing to do so.

You can view the list or download a searchable Excel version here. But, first, you'll want to tune in for today's very lively and colorful conversation with Sonnenfeld...

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Guest: Journalist, author, activist, Bill McKibben of 350.org, ThirdAct.org; Also: Putin on dangerous edge; Ukraine now fully on the EU grid...
By Brad Friedman on 3/17/2022 6:41pm PT  

No biggie, but on today's BradCast we've got a great idea that can help defeat fascism, secure Europe and save the planet, while saving Americans money and adding a ton of new jobs in the U.S. But the best part of the plan may be that Joe Biden can make it all happen tomorrow without begging for the approval of any obstructionist, fossil fuel-loving Senators. Our guest today reports the Administration is now actively considering it --- and not a moment too soon! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

On yesterday's BradCast, as the war in Europe grinds into its fourth deadly week, we cited evidence of progress in peace talks between Ukrainian and Russian negotiators. Those encouraging signs, however, are tempered today by Russian President Vladimir Putin's increasing isolation and darkening tone as displayed yet again during his latest, nationally televised address on Wednesday, boding ominously for the path ahead.

"The Russian people will always be able to distinguish true patriots from scum and traitors," Putin sneered into the camera in his latest chilling screed, "and will simply spit them out like an insect in their mouth onto the pavement." He spoke of his nation's need for "self-detoxification" and derided the "servile mentality" of fleeing Russian oligarchs with "villas in Miami or the French Riviera, who cannot make do without foie gras, oysters or gender freedom, as they call it."

Kremlin experts argue the Russian leader is becoming ever more manic and unpredictable as his war against Ukraine has bogged down; the Russian economy disintegrates, battered by Western sanctions; and as billionaire oligarch escape routes via mega-yachts are being blocked from Spain to France to Norway. As one expert observed, it was as if Putin was warning the elites: "We're all in this together and if I go down, you go down."

Ukraine, on the other hand, even as the punishing, deadly assault by Russian bombardment grinds on, is moving ahead. Last night, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced his nation has now fully disconnected from the Russian and Belarus power grids and is 100% hooked into Europe's after a remarkable three weeks time. In the middle of a war.

"The enemy expected that the Ukrainian power system would collapse, that we would not be able to cope," said Zelenskyy in a statement published by his office on Wednesday night. "As of today, Ukrainian electricity flows to Europe and European electricity flows to Ukraine...We now have a single energy circulatory system from Lisbon to Mariupol. Ukraine is in the 'energy eurozone'. We cannot be defeated."

Still, much of Europe's energy continues to derive from Russian fossil fuels. And much of Russia's economy --- its war engine --- relies on those fossil fuel exports to Europe. That, too, needs to end. Happily, our guest today has a great idea about how to do just that, in a way that helps fight fascism and climate change, while adding jobs, beefing up U.S. manufacturing and securing Europe. And the best part: President Joe Biden can make it all happen without needing corrupt coal-state Senator Joe Manchin's permission!

We're joined today by the great environmental author, journalist and activist BILL MCKIBBEN of 350.org and ThirdAct.org to discuss the plan he recently spelled out in one of his "The Crucial Years" newsletters. It's based on an effort being pushed hard by the non-profit Rewiring America and New Mexico's Sen. Martin Heinrich. The plan would replace tens of millions of Europe's fossil fuel burning furnaces and boilers with new, electrified heat pump technology.

The replacement of old furnaces with electrified heat pump systems could make a huge dent in Russia's fascist petrol-economy, remove Putin's ability to freeze out Europe by flipping a switch, cut deadly greenhouse gas emissions that have lurched our climate into crisis, and could begin right now, in advance of next winter, under Biden's wartime invocation of the Defense Production Act (DPA).

As McKibben details, new electric heat pump technology provides both heat in winter and air conditioning in summer. Much of freezing cold Norway already uses it. And Biden has the authority to use the DPA to kick-start production at major U.S. air condition manufacturers like Carrier and Trane. (Many of whom, on a political note, happen to have manufacturing hubs in swing-states like Florida, Wisconsin, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas.)

"This is obviously a hideous, hideous month. It's completely horrible, and it's completely tied to our dependence on fossil fuel. This is not a war for fossil fuel, the way that some of our wars in the Middle East may have been, but it's a war funded by and about the power that comes with fossil fuel," he tells me.

"The good news is that our scientists and engineers over the last decade have done incredible work," McKibben continues. "They've dropped the price of renewable energy 90 percent. The sun and wind are the cheapest way to generate power now. And they've produced this suite of technologies that allow us to do the things we need to do with that electricity. Everybody knows about the rise of electric vehicles, but it's the same for the gas or oil furnace that's blazing away in one's basement. The most efficient way now, and cheapest and smartest way to heat your home or cool your home, is with this technology that we're calling heat pumps."

Both Biden and Donald Trump invoked the DPA in response to the COVID pandemic. Biden has even "used it to get a factory in Oklahoma to produce hundreds of miles of fire hose at a moment's notice" after we ran out thanks to last year's huge (climate change-fueled) California wildfires.

McKibben explains that U.S. manufacturers have the spare capacity to begin a "Heat Pumps for Peace and Freedom" effort almost immediately. "Every President since" the Korean War-era DPA was adopted has used it and, he asserts, "this is the kind of thing we can use to get this work done now, and get this stuff over to Europe."

"They have to cut back a lot on their consumption of gas. That's basically what Russia is sending to Europe. And that gas is used above all for home heating. So anything that we can do to get even a few million homes off that gas before next October is a big blow to Putin," he argues.

Do heat pumps work as well as the old boiler and furnace systems? "Absolutely," answers McKibben, who uses one in his own home (with solar panels, natch, but that's not a necessity.) "This is good technology. In the same way that my EV works better than any other car I've ever had. This stuff is great. Quiet, clean, works."

"The Europeans can use them," he says. "The chokepoint may actually be trained people to install them. Which is one reason why the good people at RewiringAmerica.org ,who have taken this up in a big way, have in their proposal for the Biden Administration training and sending abroad a big crew of Americans to help with that installation. One of the benefits for us is they get good at it, come back here, and what helps enormously in Austria, Germany, Poland and Moldova this winter helps a lot in Minnesota and Montana the winter after that. So win-win all around."

McKibben says that he is being told the Administration is seriously considering the idea. And while sending defensive munitions and humanitarian aid are both, unfortunately, very necessary right now, sending this kind of assistance helps Europe, the U.S. and the planet for years to come. Indeed, "win-win all around."

Finally, we end an unusually green program, even for us, as Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more reminders of why Heat Pumps for Freedom --- and working around corrupt, coal state Senators like Joe Manchin --- is so vitally important for all of us right now...

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Guest: 30-year Florida elections Supervisor Ion Sancho; Also: More signs of new COVID variant rising; Russia's war crimes against Ukraine continue; Fox 'News' journalists killed while reporting on war...
By Brad Friedman on 3/15/2022 7:11pm PT  

As difficult as it has historically been to recruit competent, non-partisan election officials and pollworkers, a new survey suggests its about to become much worse. As we discuss in detail on today's BradCast, that is thanks, in no small part, to persistent threats by Trump's MAGA Mob against local election officials in the wake of his Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him. It's made even worse by state GOP officials translating that lie into new laws that further undermine America's democratic experiment. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But FIRST UP today, a quick follow up underscoring our reporting on yesterday's program, warning about the rise of a new COVID variant (known as BA2, or "stealth Omicron" or "Deltacron") that many seem to be wanting to imagine away. Also several quick updates on the latest news from Russia's relentless bombing and war crimes against Ukraine, as peace talks inch forward, and as at least two Fox "News" journalist are confirmed to have been killed outside of Kyiv.

THEN, on to our main story today. In recent months, Reuters has been unfolding a series of excellent investigative reports on the various, horrific threats issued against election officials by those who bought into Trump's evidence-free claims that the 2020 election was stolen. But GOP state lawmakers have been ignoring those menacing threats and using the Big Lie to create actual legislation allowing them to purge dedicated, non-partisan election officials --- including Republicans seen as not Republican enough --- from their roles and replacing them with partisan operatives.

Brennan Center's recent survey of local election administrators finds that, more than a year after the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol, one in six officials say they "have experienced threats because of their job." More than half of respondents are "concerned about the safety of their colleagues"; 30 percent "know of one or more election workers who have left at least in part because of fear for their safety, increased threats, or intimidation"; and, perhaps most troubling, 20 percent of them now plan to leave their jobs before the 2024 election, with many "citing political leaders’ attacks on a system they know is fair and honest as one of their top reasons for leaving."

Meanwhile, many officials who would like to continue in their jobs are being pushed out thanks to new laws allowing partisan County Commissions in Georgia, for example, to replace longtime Board of Elections officials like Georgia's civil rights icon Helen Butler (who we interviewed about this late last year) in Morgan County, and 27-year Floyd County Board of Elections veteran Vanessa Waddell, who, with the entire Board in the deeply Republican County, was removed from her post, as documented by WaPo yesterday. That, even after she successfully oversaw last year's U.S. Senate runoff elections in the state amid persistent death threats that resulted in some officials in her office deciding they needed to come to work with pepper spray and stun guns to stay safe.

Leon County, Florida's now-retired 30-year veteran Supervisor of Elections, ION SANCHO, is furious about all of this. He joins us today to discuss these growing threats to our teetering American democracy. Sancho, who retired in 2016, is one of our nation's great election officials. He was so well-regarded by his peers, of all political persuasions, that he was tapped to oversee the wildly contentious and eventually-aborted 2000 Presidential recount in Florida. He was also a central figure in HBO's landmark, 2006 Emmy-nominated documentary, Hacking Democracy, detailing the first public hack of a computerized voting tabulator.

What is going on today, he explains, makes him both angry and deeply concerned about American democracy. "Election officials all over the country, irrespective of partisan affiliation, have been tragically attacked because of our ex-President's lie. The most horrible lie about our elections, frankly, in my lifetime," he tells me, adding that it makes his "head explode".

"It's not being dealt with at all. That's why election officials are subject to the most vile attacks, because the supporters --- the cultists, if you want to call them that --- believe that election was stolen, and this is such a bald-faced lie. It's a tragic lie. It's a stupid lie. And it demonstrates the ignorance of the American citizenry about our elections."

Sancho argues that "we are in the process of destroying a model of non-partisan election administration that has taken decades to build."

"Most election officials are administrators, not activists, not individuals who are used to dealing with the political process, except as standing away from it and facilitating elections. We take oaths to be non-partisan," he continues. "One of the proudest moments of my life was the creation of helping write the standards of codes and conduct for the Elections Center, to apply to all national election officials, putting loyalty to the principles of fair and honest elections over anything else."

Of course, over The BRAD BLOG's nearly 20 years of reporting on elections and voting processes and vulnerable computerized voting and tabulation systems --- much of which Sancho has followed closely over those years --- we've had our own fair share of criticism for some election officials (not to mention almost every voting system vendor). Some of that has resulted in occasional criticism that we are "attacking" election officials or pollworkers ourselves. So, how is our attempt to hold feet to the fire any different from what Sancho sees coming from the American MAGA Right?

"The difference is that you are focusing on specific issues of provable fact," Sancho responds. "That's different than the kind of criticism that we have right now. Your criticism doesn't threaten the democratic experiment. And where we find ourselves now is that the great American experiment, our democracy, is being threatened. It's being destroyed by individuals who would rather believe a narcissistic liar than understand the truth."

Sancho has MUCH more to say on all of this, including thoughts on new legislation heading to Florida's Republican Governor and Presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis that would give him what Sancho describes as "the Governor's private police force on elections."

"That's part of the intimidation," he argues. "Now we're seeing a secret police in the state of Florida for elections. Florida is, unfortunately, one of the leaders of this effort nationally to change non-partisan fair elections into something else."

Sancho concedes "it's hard for me to see how we get around this," though he does offer at least some ideas for solutions to find our way out of this nightmare, including laws to specifically prevent threats against election administrators. "It should be illegal to threaten an election official for the purposes of intimidating them from doing their job and counting the votes. That should be illegal, and it is not."

"We've got to turn this around," Sancho insists. "ALL legal citizens should have the right to vote accessibly, and have that vote counted as they intended, and then we should audit the elections to confirm the validity of that election. That's as simple as it can be, and yet we're very far away from that, as you know."

"What were supposed to be laboratories of democracy," he charges, are now "50 citadels of repression." As suggested, we think Sancho is an American hero. He's on fire today and, as ever, worth tuning in to hear in full.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report today, with bad news for climate changed Australia and our global fossil fuel dependence, highlighted yet again by Russia's war on Ukraine. She also has a bit of good news for breathers, however, as President Biden's EPA announces critical new regulations on smog and vehicle emissions that will save thousands of American lives...

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