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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, February 23, 2024
Our Russian Nesting Doll: 'BradCast' 2/22/2024
How the U.S. has fallen prey to a decade-long Russian intel op; Also: Lindell owes $5M for lost 2020 contest; Media ignore good Biden polling amid ill-considered bids to replace him...
'Green News Report' 2/22/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
EPA's 'Good Neighbor' pollution rule at SCOTUS; Bizarre heat in Japan; Near-universal global public support for climate action; PLUS: Biden Admin cleans up nation's drinking water...
Previous GNRs: 2/20/24 - 2/15/24 - Archives...
DeSantis' Anti-Labor Law Now Nixing Unions for 1000s of FL Workers: 'BradCast' 2/21/24
Guest: Rich Templin of FL's AFL-CIO; Also: NY A.G. may seize Trump building to cover fines; Biden forgives another $1.2B in student loans...
Wisconsin's Decade-Long Un-Democracy Finally Undone. (Almost.): 'BradCast' 2/20/24
Guest: WI's John Nichols of 'The Nation'; Also: 2020 Team Trump attorneys lose again at SCOTUS; And a word on the 'victims' of Trump's decades-long NY real estate fraud...
'Green News Report' 2/20/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Record ocean heat decimating FL's coral reefs; Plastics industry's 50-year recycling scam; PLUS: Nearly half of world's migratory species in decline, U.N. study finds...
Previous GNRs: 2/15/24 - 2/13/24 - Archives...
After Navalny:
'BradCast' 2/19/24
Also: Massive election fraud alleged in Pakistan; Final death blow for GOP fraudsters' phony election fraud film, '2000 Mules'...
Sunday 'Partying With Putin' Toons
Can someone let Tucker know that Vlad got another one? It's our latest collection of the week's best toons...
In Memoriam: Alexei Navalny (1976-2024)
So, remind me again how wonderful Vladimir Putin is...
Guns Again, Trump as Ever, Media Failure and the Way Forward: 'BradCast' 2/15/24
Also: Special Counsel probing Hunter Biden indicts informant who lied about 'bribes' to the Bidens from a Ukrainian energy company...
'Green News Report' 2/15/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Mysterious oil spill in Trinidad and Tobago; Big changes as Greenland gets greener; Wildfires reversing hard-won gains against air pollution; PLUS: Climate change comes for chocolate...
Previous GNRs: 2/13/24 - 2/8/24 - Archives...
New Chesebro Docs Detail Trump's Failed 2020 'Legal Coup': 'BradCast' 2/14/24
Guest: TPM's Josh Kovensky; Also: Another huge night for Dems in NY, PA; WI gets closer to fair maps; MI 'fake elector' says GOP lied...
Stewart Return to 'Daily Show' Not a Moment Too Soon!: 'BradCast' 2/13/24
Also: GOP takes mulligan on Mayorkas impeachment; Sen. passes Ukraine bill; Media's epic fail on Hur's obnoxious vindication of Biden in classified docs probe...
'Green News Report' 2/13/24
Culture shift from fossil fuels in Super Bowl EV ads; Big Oil/Gas spending big on Trump; PLUS: Climate scientist wins $1 million defamation suit against rightwing deniers...
Russia, If You're Listening, Trump Says 'Do Whatever the Hell You Want' to NATO Allies: 'BradCast' 2/12/24
Also: Last week's GOP Caucuses in NV, V.I.; Special Election in NY-3; Callers ring in...
Super Sunday 'Borderline Insanity' Toons
Just a few too many tokes over the line in our latest collection of the week's best toons...
Biden Should Federalize TX National Guard Amid State's Defiance of SCOTUS Order
POTUS must address, expose 'moral crisis' of GOP hypocrisy, cruelty, dehumanizing anti-immigrant propaganda...
'Green News Report' 2/8/24
EPA cracks down on deadly soot pollution; January was hottest ever recorded on Planet Earth; PLUS: Hurricanes are getting so intense, scientists propose a 'Category 6'...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: Reformed 'Ultra-MAGA' member Rich Logis on 'Leaving MAGA'; Also: Is this the week the tide finally begins to turn against Trump?...
By Brad Friedman on 1/29/2024 6:06pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: Escaping MAGA and whether real accountability for the former President's many crimes and civil verdicts might finally begin to bend the curve against him from within his own party and from his own supporters. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

On Friday, a nine-member federal jury in New York ordered Donald Trump to pay an additional $83.3 million to writer E. Jean Carroll, who an earlier 9-member jury determined last year that he had sexually assaulted and repeatedly defamed. The original verdict cost him $5 million, but wasn't enough to stop the repeated defamation of Carroll.

All of this comes on the cusp of a completely separate verdict in a state case in NY where the judge has already determined Trump committed massive fraud by falsely inflating his assets to receive more favorable rates on bank loans, insurance and taxes. The State A.G. has asked that the judge now find Trump and his companies and his top executives (including his two eldest sons) liable for at least $370 million. That ruling is likely to come any day now.

A hundred million here, a hundred million there, and, before ya know it, you're talking about real money. Even for a "billionaire" like Trump. But will any of it make a difference to Trump's most ardent supporters? How about the few Republicans left who are neither Never Trumpers nor hardcore MAGA? Will they finally take notice? Might these rulings begin to make a difference in GOP primary polling, as the disgraced former President continues to be the party's front-running nominee for the 2024 Presidential election?

For thoughts on all of that and much more, we're delighted to be joined again today by RICH LOGIS, a former hardcore MAGA member himself who voted for Trump in both 2016 and 2020, before eventually coming to terms with the fact that he had become captive to what is a far-right political cult. (Our first conversation with him, with more details on that, was in October last year.)

Logis now runs PerfectOurUnion.us, devoted to "healing political trauma" and "building diverse, pro-democracy alliances". Today, he offers his insight, as a reformed MAGA member and former Republican pundit, on whether any of the recent verdicts against Trump --- and/or those that are still to come in the four separate criminal felony cases he is facing this year --- might finally begin to turn the tide away from the GOP's cult leader.

We also discuss Logis' thoughts published recently at Salon, on why the MAGA crowd is so gullible to mythologization and race-baiting, and how even Nikki Haley is now tapping into the same bloodstream to capitalize on a party that has long been captured (well before Trump) by racist polarization and "White fright".

Logis is now creating a new organization specifically devoted to "Leaving MAGA" and we begin the important discussion of how to help those captured by MAGA find their way out, and what friends and family members may be able to do to begin helping their loved ones find their way home.

"As someone who was in MAGA for seven years," he tells me, "Most MAGA voters are good people, deep down. But, unfortunately, the relationship between most MAGA Americans and Donald Trump is a very toxic one. While I don't defend ignorance, MAGA Americans have been traumatized by Trump and the rightwing and the Republican Party. They just have a skill set at keeping MAGA Americans desperate and panicked."

But, he insists optimistically, "if someone got into MAGA, they can get out of it." His own catalyst came after coming to terms with the fact that his own Governor, Ron DeSantis, who he had previously supported, was willing to let people die by lying to them about COVID vaccines in 2021.

"If someone who is very pro-MAGA speaks to someone who is very anti-MAGA, I guarantee, if they speak long enough, they're going to find some issues that they have some common ground and agreement on." He cautions, however, that vilification doesn't work. If it did, "everybody would have left at this point."

"It's going to take time," Logis insists. But he believes "there are more out there who are in the nascent stages of remorse. Because ultimately the strength of the numbers in Leaving MAGA will be in how many we can encourage and empower to leave and tell their stories publicly."

Until his new organization is formally unveiled, he asks folks to contact him at his website. This conversation will continue, I hope. Because it must...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Catching up after conquering COVID (again!); Also: DeSantis drops out, 'kisses the ring'; SCOTUS sides with Biden on border (for now); Callers ring in for first time this year...
By Brad Friedman on 1/22/2024 6:12pm PT  

Okay. I'm back. COVID free! (Again!) Hopefully for good this time, as discussed --- along with many other things --- on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among the news we begin to get caught up with today after my rebound sidelining last week...

  • My surprise COVID rebound last week and lessons learned in the bargain. If the news out of the federal courtroom in New York today in the second E. Jean Carroll defamation trial is to be believed, our disgraced former President may have his own new infection again soon.
  • After, just last week, condemning those Republicans who "kiss the ring" of Donald Trump in order to save themselves, Florida Governor and failed 2024 Presidential candidate Ron DeSantis dropped out of the race on Sunday. And, yes, he kissed the ring in hopes of saving himself for 2028 by endorsing Donald Trump. DeSantis also used a fake quote from Winston Churchill when doing so, just so he could fail as spectacularly as possible on his way out the door.
  • New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary is Tuesday and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is the last GOPer left in the race other than the twice-impeached, four-time criminally indicted former President. If one believes the pre-primary polling, the race will be over by Wednesday. And the guy who was, literally, praising the idea of a "strongman running the country" during rallies in New Hampshire over the weekend, and telling supporters that U.S. Presidents must have complete immunity to commit any and all crimes, will be on a glide path toward becoming the 2024 Republican nominee for President of the United States.
  • While the DNC has not authorized a Democratic Primary in New Hampshire this year --- choosing instead to make South Carolina's February 3 contest the first official one for the Dems --- that hasn't stopped a write-in effort for Joe Biden in New Hampshire UNsanctioned Democratic Primary, in which Biden does not appear on the ballot. It has also resulted in what appears to be the first (known) dirty trick of 2024. NH voters began receiving robocalls over the weekend from "Joe Biden" instructing them not to vote at all on Tuesday. The incident is being investigated by law enforcement, but may give us an idea of what the abuse of Artificial Intelligence may have in store for us in this unprecedented 2024 election season.
  • On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court --- in a 5 to 4 ruling --- sided with the Biden Administration's Border Patrol and said that they may, in fact, remove razor-wire placed on the Rio Grande by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, after Abbott's actions have already resulted in the death of a mother and her two young children drowning in the river. But four Justices (Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh) apparently have no use anymore for the U.S. Constitution's Supremacy Clause which gives deference to federal law over state law.
  • Finally, after weeks away from our flagship station (KPFK in L.A.) over the holidays and then during our multiple brushes with COVID, we were finally live in studio again and able to open the phone lines today to listeners on anything they wanted to discuss. Even if one of them felt like they had to lie to get on the air to say it.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Our COVID rebound and more...
By Brad Friedman on 1/16/2024 4:40pm PT  

Lucky me. I now have a rebound case of COVID. But with the first votes cast in the critical 2024 Presidential race in frozen Iowa on Monday night, I mustered as well as I could to bring you a fresh BradCast today. (No promises for tomorrow, however!) [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

With that in mind, I need to keep this short and get back to bed. Among our stories covered today...

  • Iowa's far-right GOP caucus-goers have a habit of backing losers. On Monday, a bare majority of them (51%) voted for Donald Trump in far below zero temps. Almost half of IA's GOP caucus-goers voted against him. But that was still more than enough to defeat the disgraced former President's splintered and woeful challengers. After burning about $150 million in his all or nothing quest to win Iowa, Ron DeSantis lost it. He came out with just 21.2% of the vote, narrowly edging out third-placer Nikki Haley, who still has a not-impossible-chance of defeating or, at least, challenging Trump in next week's first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary. She finished just behind DeSantis with 19.1% on Monday night in IA. Both challengers have vowed to move on to NH. Vivek Ramaswamy, however, who finished in a distance fourth in IA, quickly bowed out and endorsed Trump. That's about all you need to know about Monday night when it comes to the horse race. Beneath that, however, there is much more, underscoring this unprecedented moment for the nation and the need for an overwhelming majority of voters to step up and save American Democracy this year.
  • Meanwhile, down in Texas in recent days, 2028 Presidential hopeful, far-right Republican Governor Greg Abbott appears hoping to touch off a new civil war between his state's military and the federal government. In a multi-prong effort to goose his political fortunes by ensuring that immigration concerns will not be dealt with until a Republican President is in the White House (to get credit for it), and to further fuel his party's latest grift that, without a return to power for the GOP, a new "civil war" is looming, Abbott has deployed the Texas Military Dept. to the nation's Southern border. In doing so --- despite migration numbers recently plummeting thanks to high-level talks between the U.S. and Mexico --- Abbott has erected razor wire on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande and new steel fencing and gates to physically lock out U.S. Border Patrol from protecting miles of our national border. He has done so without permission of either the feds or local city governments. As the Biden Administration challenges Abbott's extra-Constitutional tin-pot authoritarianism at SCOTUS, a mother and her two young children died while attempting to cross the river over the weekend. TX troopers reportedly blocked federal officials from responding to a distress call from the Mexican government. As discussed, Republicans don't fear a new civil war. They want one. Or pretend to. And they certainly don't want to actually solve any issues at the border, else they'd have nothing to run on this November.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with new numbers from 2023's record heat and climate disasters; as Republican climate crisis denial continues on the campaign trail on behalf of fossil fuel industry funders (with increasingly deadly results); and as the Biden Administration moves ahead with rules to force polluting oil and gas companies to finally pay their fair share in return...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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

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Guest: Dan Froomkin of Press Watch; Also: A whole bunch of long-overdue accountability news for a whole bunch of rightwingers!...
By Brad Friedman on 1/10/2024 5:03pm PT  

No matter what happens in this year's election, the year will be like none other in the U.S. Are the mainstream media --- which arguably helped lead us to our current mess at the edge of a potential collapse of American democracy --- able to meet the challenge? To serve a nation that badly news an unapologetic press able to call out the corrupted without "both sidesing" every issue? That's where we begin on today's BradCast, before covering a whole bunch of accountability for rightwingers and rightwing organizations in recent days and weeks. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

It seems impossible to believe that the U.S. mainstream media will be able to meet this moment. And yet, there are signs, suggests our guest today, longtime journalist and media critic DAN FROOMKIN of Press Watch, formerly of Washington Post, Huff Post, The Intercept and Harvard's journalism watchdog, the Neiman Foundation.

In a column late last year, Froomkin detailed the "intense internal pressure to defend democracy" that newsrooms will be facing in 2024. The greatest pressure, he reports, is likely to come not from outside those newsrooms, but from inside, where "traditional bosses are still in control," holding fast to "both sides" journalism, but where they are finally being challenged by what he describes as a "silent journalistic majority", an often younger and/or more diverse group of reporters "whose sense of self is defined by more than just not taking sides. It’s defined by informing the public of the truth."

With the stakes now higher than ever, he observes, there are signs, at least, that some in the traditional, unhelpful mainstream are begin to change in order to meet the moment. It's a tall order --- especially after so many decades of failure --- but there are some positive signs that even the traditionalists are beginning to understand the threat posed to American democracy itself by a Republican party which has now all but fallen to the fascistic, autocratic demands of its cult leader.

"The good news --- and it is unusual for me to focus on the good news in the media --- is that I think we're seeing two steps forward, one step back, in that I do see some braver, more honest, more upfront journalism happening on occasion at the major institutions," Froomkin tells me, before adding, "And then every so often, they'll backslide terribly."

He argues that many are "getting really impatient with this 'both-side'-ism, this 'a pox on both your houses' stuff."

"If you talk to any journalist who is not personally invested in the old way of doing things, you'll find that they actually agree with this critique. It is not a radical critique anymore. It is very much a 'How do we do journalism in this day and age?' question. And I think the answer is increasingly becoming that we need to call it out the way we see it. And that we need to stand up for democracy and for a free press, and for core journalistic values. It doesn't mean telling people to go vote Democratic, it doesn't mean being easy on the Democrats. But it does mean pointing out what this danger is right now."

"If Trump takes power, he's going to go after the media. And he will criminalize journalism in a lot of ways, and the free press will be under a lot of pressure. I don't think any journalist can sit there and say, 'I'll be fine if Trump wins.' They should all be terrified," Froomkin asserts, adding: "An increasing number are. You're seeing some of that, for instance, in this story on political violence. That was one of the big issues swept under the rug until recently."

As Froomkin explains, the jury is very much still out. But what he once saw as a "generational project" now needs to happen much quicker. "The stakes feel so high right at this moment --- for obvious reasons --- that I think there’s pretty good chance of change before November," he wrote last month. We'll see if he's right about that.

In the meantime, there has been some encouraging news elsewhere, at least from the court system in recent weeks, resulting in a rush of long-overdue accountability for people and organizations of the corrupted right.

  • Last week, New York Attorney General Tish James' office filed motions seeking $370 million from Donald Trump, his company, and its top executives for years of massive bank, tax and insurance fraud. She is also seeking a lifetime ban from the NY real estate market for Trump, and a five-year ban for his eldest sons. The whole crew has already been found liable by the state judge overseeing the case. The only question now is what the penalties will ultimately be. Closing arguments are this week and Trump will not be allowed to make part of them himself, after failing to agree he would do so without attacking prosecutors, the judge or his staff, or turn the remarks into a political statement.
  • Also last week, Wayne LaPierre, the wildly corrupt 30-year leader of the terrorist-supporting National Rifle Association, finally resigned on the eve of his corruption trial --- also thanks to Tish James in New York --- which began this week. LaPierre and other top NRA officials allegedly bilked millions of dollars from the non-profit organization to fund their own lavish lifestyles. James hopes to force LaPierre and the others to pay it all back and permanently bar them from serving on the board of any NY charity. Thoughts and prayers.
  • Longtime Republican grifter James O'Keefe's sleazy, fake "journalism" organization called Project Veritas, finally seems to be all but permanently dead. That, after O'Keefe was found to have overseen years of "financial malfeasance" according to its Board and newly seated CEO, Hannah Giles, who resigned last month citing "an unsalvageable mess" at the organization, "one wrought with strong evidence of past illegality and past financial improprieties." Giles originally played the "prostitute" in heavily edited videos published years ago by Andrew Breitbart targeting the community organizing and voter registration group ACORN. O'Keefe --- as we spent quite a bit of time some years ago detailing to mainstream media outlets who had also fallen for the hoax --- pretended to have dressed up as a "pimp" in those fraudulent videos. Though scams, they still resulted in rightwing millionaire, billionaire and just plain old dupes donating tens of millions of dollars to O'Keefe's organization over the years in support of their phony, frequently unlawful, partisan schemes targeting groups and individuals on the left. The organization and O'Keefe himself are reportedly under criminal and/or civil investigation for a number of those schemes.
  • Remember Kim Davis? The sleazy, far-right Kentucky county clerk who, in 2015, refused to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples after the U.S. Supreme Court's Obergefell ruling? Last week, a federal judge found her liable for $260,000 in legal fees and expenses incurred by one of the couples who she unlawfully refused to license. In 2022, a federal jury said she had to pay the couple $100,000 in damages. The rightwing legal organization representing Davis for free, Liberty Counsel, says they will appeal the original verdict, the order for attorneys fees, and Obergefell itself at the U.S. Supreme Court.

FINALLY, as today's show ended, it looks like former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has decided to suspend his 2024 GOP Presidential campaign (much as we called for him to do --- if he was truly serious about keeping Trump out of the White House --- on yesterday's program.) The announcement comes just hours before a debate tonight between Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis in advance of Monday's Iowa Caucuses. Presumptive frontrunner Donald Trump won't be at this debate either, but we will have Special Coverage, nonetheless, for some reason, on tomorrow's BradCast...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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We're back! (Sort of.) With former Dep. Asst. AG Lisa Graves of True North Research and attorney Keith Barber of Daily Kos...
By Brad Friedman on 1/4/2024 6:21pm PT  

We're still wrestling and/or dodging COVID on today's BradCast --- and not sure we can pull it off again until everyone tests negative (see this for more details.) But we really wanted to get back on the air for the first time this year after a longer-than-planned holiday break! And so we did. (No promises as to our next air date, however! Working on it. Not easy.) [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Our guests today are former U.S. Deputy Asst. Attorney General LISA GRAVES, now of True North Research, and retired attorney KEITH BARBER ('KeithDB' at Daily Kos), who, like Desi, is also fighting a post-holiday bout with COVID.

After new news today on Donald J. Trump's never-ending corruption, we pick up in 2024 following the several cliff-hangers of 2023. We literally left off at the end of our final show last year, when, just minutes before signing off, the Colorado Supreme Court released its 200-page Opinion [PDF] that the disgraced former President and presumptive GOP front-runner was in violation of Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment, barring insurrectionists from public office. Thus, the SCOCO ordered that he may not appear on the Colorado ballot as a candidate in 2024.

Since then (among a thousand other things), the Maine Sec. of State has similarly barred Trump from the ballot in her state. He has appealed that ruling to the state's Superior Court. and both the Colorado Republican Party and Trump himself have now appealed CO's ruling directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

That, of course, is just one of the many critical cases on which American democracy may hang, as pending either now or soon before the corrupted and disgraced Republican majority at SCOTUS. They will also likely soon be wrestling with Trump's claim --- in Jack Smith's federal case against him related to his attempts to steal the 2020 election --- that Presidents have "absolute immunity" from charges for any crime they commit while serving in office.

Moreover, SCOTUS has already decided to hear a challenge to the charge of Obstruction of an Official Proceeding --- as successfully brought against hundreds of January 6 defendants --- on the basis that the law was originally intended only for white collar financial crimes. In addition to hundreds of J6 defendants charged with and/or convicted of that crime, two of Trump's four counts in his federal indictment for 2020 election interference are based on that same statute.

So, what does all of this mean for Trump and the High Court --- and the American voters! --- as we enter the 2024 election year? Will his corrupt SCOTUS friends (and appointees) use any of those three cases to let Trump off the accountability hook? Will the Court's so-called "conservatives", who have claimed for years to believe in a strict textualist and originalist interpretations of the Constitution, conjure up some excuse to ignore the simple text of the 14th Amendment and the original intent of its post-Civil War framers? Will they allow Trump's March 4 trial date in the Jan. 6 case to slip beyond the election as they determine whether Presidents are allowed to violate any law they wish? Or will they choose instead to "settle all family business" by doing the right thing in the above-noted matters and, thus, end their own Trump-fueled nightmares along with the nation's?

"The same people that went to the courts scores of times trying to keep Obama off the ballot, under the absurd birther argument, are now trying to say the courts can't decide" on the Insurrection Disqualification Clause, observes Barber, a former Republican, today. "They let the courts decide before, and no one argued then that the courts couldn't."

Warns Graves about Trump's argument in favor of Presidential Immunity, it "is literally a recipe for tyranny," as it would allow any President (even the current one, apparently) to commit any crime at any time without possibility of ever facing charges.

Tune in for a bunch of smart thoughts and helpful insights on all of the above today as we head into what Graves aptly describes as a "land of uncertainty" as 2024 unfolds (unravels?) before our very eyes.

Also, while she was unable to join us for today's full show due to her COVID diagnosis, Desi Doyen joins us nonetheless for our first Green News Report of the year today, as we try to begin catching up with a whole bunch of stuff we missed over our longer-than-expected holiday break...which --- depending on how a whole bunch of antigen tests go for both of us in the days ahead --- may or may not continue, whether we like it or not...

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Some good (and not so good) legal news at year's end, and some hope for what next year's elections could bring in our final show of the year...
By Brad Friedman on 12/19/2023 7:12pm PT  

Tonight's breaking news about the disgraced former President and insurrectionist being barred from the 2024 ballot in Colorado under the U.S. Constitution's "Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause" came just minutes before we were finishing up today's BradCast --- our last one of the year! But I suspect we'll have plenty to discuss when we return in 2024. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among the stories we did have time to cover in full on today's program...

  • We open with a homerun public comment from a young man at a meeting of the Sarasota County, Florida School Board last week, calling for the resignation of Board Member and co-founder of Moms for Liberty, Bridget Ziegler. That, following the rape allegations against her husband, Christian Ziegler, Chair of the Florida Republican Party, by a woman who says she was involved in a threesome relationship with Christian and Bridget, a supposed "conservative" who rocketed to rightwing national fame as her Moms for Liberty group worked with FL Gov. Ron DeSantis to adopt the state's "Don't Say Gay Law" and to ban books from schools on LGBTQ-related issues. That, even as Bridget was allegedly involved in a sexual affair with another woman. But the guy's comment at the Sarasota School Board --- from which Bridget is still refusing to resign --- was killer.
  • Good news at the end of the year for voting rights out of --- of all places --- the very far-right 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in two different opinions issued on Friday, in fact. In one, the full court allowed a lower court ruling to stand mandating a new U.S. House map for Louisiana before 2024, after finding that the current map was an unlawful racial gerrymander by state Republicans under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The other decision by the 5th Circuit allows a Texas voter suppression law --- which bans online voter registration, in a state with the lowest voter turnout in 2020 --- to stand. That's not good. But both decisions re-affirmed that voters and private organizations do have a legal right to sue to block racist voter suppression laws under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Those affirmations come after the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled just last month, for the first time since the creation of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, that only the U.S. Attorney General can sue to enforce Section 2 of the VRA. If allowed to stand at SCOTUS, the 8th Circuit's ruling would be an extraordinary blow to the landmark Act. So the 5th Circuit's rejection of those arguments, filed in both cases by Republicans, is a very encouraging sign.
  • On Monday, Texas' authoritarian Governor Greg Abbott signed a new state law allowing state police to arrest --- and local judges to deport --- anyone suspected of being an undocumented immigrant. On Tuesday, civil rights groups sued to block the almost certainly unconstitutional new law. At least it used to be unconstitutional, back when SCOTUS overturned a similar "Papers, please!" law out of Arizona in 2012. But that was before there was a packed, stolen and corrupted 6 to 3 Republican majority on the High Court.
  • Very bad news for both Donald Trump and Mark Meadows out of the also very conservative 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday, as a three-judge panel rejected Meadows' attempt to remove his Georgia state criminal indictment related to 2020 election interference from state to federal court. As Law Professor Lee Kovarksy of the University of Texas explained last night, the ruling, written by the court's Chief Judge and very close Clarence Thomas ally, is very bad news for appeals of the "immunity" defenses filed by both Trump and Meadows in several different cases where they are attempting to use that legal gambit to skirt accountability.
  • We received a lot of email following yesterday's lively call-in show, in which I asked folks who'd voted for Joe Biden in 2020, but who were planning on not doing so again in 2024, to call in and tell me why. Today we share a few of those notes in response.
  • But, for something for nervous pro-democracy Americans to consider over the holidays until we return after the new year, we share a recent column from University of Illinois' Political Science Professor Nicholas Grossman, explaining why folks should not (yet) be freaked out about polls showing Trump defeating Biden next year, and why "pro-democracy Americans [should] approach the 2024 election with enthusiasm, not only dread."
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our final Green News Report of the year! She includes a boatload of details on why, though we may be done with 2023, 2023 ain't yet done with us yet! But she also has some encouraging news on how long-overdue actions to tackle our climate crisis by the Biden Administration are finally beginning to take root as we move into the new year...

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COP28 in 'overtime'; Democracy rises in Poland; New U.S. House maps for NY; More good economic news; Trump at SCOTUS; Rudy defames amid defamation trial; Johnson lies about WI's fake electors...
By Brad Friedman on 12/12/2023 6:36pm PT  

If, like me, you're old enough to get the joke in today's headline, congratulations on still being alive! (If you don't remember it, here's a reminder.) But, no, we didn't forget Poland on today's chocked-with-a-surprising-amount-of-not-awful-news BradCast!

Among our stories covered today....

  • Who knew that holding a U.N. conference (COP28) on our climate catastrophe in a petrostate like the United Arab Emirates might end without an agreement --- or with a bad one --- from all 200 participating nations for the first time in the annual summit's 28 year history? Well, it ain't over until it's over, with nations now officially in "overtime" at the Conference, which was otherwise set to end last night. Will they dare mention the phrase "fossil fuels" in whatever final statement they finally unanimously agree to make? Stay tuned!
  • In what is being described as a "political earthquake", after eight years under the heavy hand of a far-right anti-immigrant, anti-media, anti-woman authoritarian party's Prime Minister and President, Poland --- with a front-row seat over the past two years to Russia's autocratic invasion of Ukraine --- elected a centrist, pro-EU Prime Minister on Monday! That is good news on a whole bunch of fronts. It became official today when Donald Tusk received a vote of confidence from parliament after a brief delay when a right-wing lawmaker used a fire-extinguisher to douse candles in a Hanukkah menorah in parliament. "This is a wonderful day," said Tusk to the Polish people on Monday night. "Not for me, but for all those who have deeply believed over these years that things will get even better, that we will chase away the darkness, that we will chase away evil. From tomorrow, we will be able to right the wrongs so that everyone, without exception, can feel at home." The news is a welcome counter-point to the recent rise of right-wing authoritarianism in nations from Argentina to The Netherlands. And, hopefully, its a good omen for 2024 in the U.S.
  • On the other hand, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had to fly all the way to the U.S. on Tuesday to, essentially, beg far-right Congressional Republicans --- who have apparently lost the plot of democracy --- to continue supporting Ukraine's efforts to hold off the imperialist invasion of his country by fascist Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.
  • Speaking of Congress and democracy, very good news out of New York's high court today, which ordered a new U.S. House map for next year's 2024 Congressional elections, after the map used in 2022 resulted in a bunch of seats flipping from D to R in newly drawn districts after state Dems kinda screwed up the whole process. We explain.
  • And in more potentially good news for 2024, inflation continues to fall faster than expected, as the U.S. economy continues to show surprising resilience and little sign of the recession that many had feared when Donald Trump's Federal Reserve Chairman, Jerome Powell, began raising interest rates last year to combat inflation. Inflation is almost back to normal at 3.1% over last year; gasoline is down 11% over the past two months; employers are still hiring and unemployment remains at a near record-low rate of 3.7%. But, some prices are still high at grocery stores, as is rent and the cost of a home mortgage. Economists are watching Powell closely for a read as to when the Fed may deign to finally lower interest rates next year.
  • No sooner had we gotten off air yesterday, than the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would consider an expedited petition filed on Monday by Special Counsel Jack Smith to hear Donald Trump's appeal on Presidential Immunity in his January 6 federal indictment. It doesn't necessarily mean SCOTUS will hear the full case. But it means they will consider doing so. Smith had filed the petition for cert just hours earlier, leapfrogging the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in hopes of keeping next year's scheduled March 4th trial date for Trump on track. All of which, at least for now, is encouraging news to suggest that SCOTUS may both do the right thing and do so with the alacrity that would allow the American people a verdict in the case against Trump in advance of next year's Presidential election.
  • The defamation damages trial against dirtbag former NYC Mayor and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani --- in which he's already been found guilty of defamation --- continued into its second day on Tuesday. But not before his attorney admitted in Court on Monday (as the federal judge has already found), that Rudy's horrendous claims about two Georgia election workers in 2020 committing fraud for Joe Biden were false. And not before Giuliani then stepped out of the courtroom on Monday and repeated the same baseless claims yet again on the courthouse stairs. Today, U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell scolded both Rudy and his attorney, noting that Giuliani's remarks on Monday night "could support another defamation claim" by mother and daughter plaintiffs Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss. The pair are currently seeking damages in the amount of $15.5 to $43 million in their civil lawsuit. And they will deserve every penny they receive.
  • Speaking of dirtbags, following the news last week that Wisconsin's 10 fake Trump electors had settled a civil lawsuit against them, the state's U.S. Senator Ron Johnson --- already on record as having encouraged state lawmakers to steal the Badger State's 2020 election for Trump --- described the settlement as a "travesty of justice." He insisted that Democrats had done the very same thing "repeatedly" and "in multiple states" in the past. Nonetheless, he couldn't name any state where Democrats had secretly created false slates of electors in hopes of stealing an election when pressed by CNN's Kaitlan Collins. (If Johnson was referring to what happened in Hawaii in 1960, he is wrong about that as well.)
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with both the good and bad, so far, out of the COP28 Climate Conference in Dubai, and some very good news indeed from President Biden regarding the nation's largest ever investment in high speed rail and U.S. passenger rail service.

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Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, 'Driftglass' of 'ProLeft Podcast'...
By Brad Friedman on 12/7/2023 5:27pm PT  

It was debate number four for all of the eligible GOP 2024 primary candidates who decided to show up. And, for reasons best left to one of our guests to explain on today's BradCast, we once again offer Special Coverage of yet another LOL bat-crap insane evening! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

This one was broadcast from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It was sponsored by new media outlet NewsNation and moderated (for the first time?) by three women. The GOP's Race for Second Place on Wednesday night featured just four candidate who qualified: former UN Ambassador and former SC Gov. Nikki Haley; FL Gov. Ron DeSantis; former NJ Gov. Chris Christie and scammy business dude and unspeakably annoying conspiracy theory bro Vivek Ramaswamy. Presumed front-runner Donald Trump didn't bother to show up again. Though, after winning the three previous debates by not being there, he may have actually lost a few points this time around, for reasons discussed on today's program.

We're joined once again today by our tireless 2024 post-debate panelists and long-time OG bloggers HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo and 'DRIFTGLASS' of the weekly Professional Left Podcast and its companion show, No Fair Remembering Stuff.

It was a lively, if insane affair, as expected from today's broken Republican Party, with the candidates viciously attacking each other throughout the night as "obnoxious blowhard", "corrupt", "toxic", "fascist" and "liar". But who are we to disagree with the GOP's own carefully curated collection of 2024 candidates for President of the United States?

Aside from the smaller group of participants, the biggest change was that Christie decided to finally weigh in both as the adult in the room with actual old-school Republican "conservative" values, and to finally take on Trump head on as he'd long promised. As we discuss, the room did not boo him as vigorously this time out, and may (may!) have actually listened to a word or two he had to say about Trump. While Christie scored a number of direct hits on the four-time criminally indicted former President, his best moments --- other than beating the hell out of DeSantis and Ramaswamy --- came in calling out Trump as "unfit for office", before noting in closing that Trump is likely to be disqualified from even voting for himself next year.

"I want you all to kinda picture in your mind its Election Day. You all will be heading to the polls to vote, and that's something that Donald Trump will not be able to do. Because he will be convicted of felonies before then and his right to vote will be taken away," explained Christie, followed by a bit of half-hearted booing from the assembled crowd at the University of Alabama. "You can boo about it all you like and continue to deny reality," he continued. "But if we deny reality as a party, we're gonna have four more years of Joe Biden." He went on to add for his fellow candidates: "If you're too timid to take on Trump, believe me, others will see that timidity: Xi, Putin and the Ayatollah, the border-crossers on the southern border and the criminals on our streets."

The full frontal --- and accurate --- attack may or may not work. But it was the message that the crowd eventually seemed to be listening to and that Christie had long promised to deliver, but hadn't until last night. It was also the argument that every other major candidate in the party has, so far, been too "timid" to make. In fact, the lawless, autocratic threat posed by Donald Trump to his own party, our nation, and this world is really the only issue that matters in 2024.

We discuss all of that and much more today, including...

  • Why we're devoting an hour to this madness at all.
  • The reasons for the lack of a single question about abortion.
  • Why the sponsors of this debate thought it appropriate to feature two video questions for the candidates from the far-right Judicial Watch's Tom Fitton, identified as one of Trump's many unindicted co-conspirators in his Georgia election theft indictment and likely in his federal indictment for same.
  • Why the party that used to pretend to oppose Big Government clearly doesn't anymore (and never actually did.)
  • How Haley and DeSantis claim to support "freedom", while each opposing freedom of speech on the Internet (and elsewhere.)
  • Who would actually be the best GOP candidate to defeat Joe Biden and who would actually be the easiest for Joe Biden to defeat.

Please enjoy our...for some reason...BradCast Special Coverage!...

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Warning from a top conservative federal judge; Far-right electoral victories in Argentina, Netherlands; Trump threatens use of Insurrection Act; Biden invokes DPA to save climate...
By Brad Friedman on 11/28/2023 6:20pm PT  

The warning signs continue to blink bright red after the holiday on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among those warnings...

  • Well-respected, very conservative former federal Judge Michael Luttig warns: "If American democracy was on a knife's edge on January 6, 2021, today it is teetering on that knife's edge [and] in greater peril today than it's ever been in American history." He argues that a second term for the former President would be "catastrophic".
  • TPM's David Kurtz: "The Rule Of Law Is The Only Thing That Matters In 2024"
  • The warning signs are coming from abroad as well, with the "impossible" electoral victory a week ago Sunday of far-right "libertarian" Javier Milei as Argentina's new President and the "massive shock win" and "stunning lurch to the far right" for The Netherlands with last Wednesday's victory for Geert Wilders' extreme right party in Dutch parliamentary elections. Both are wild-haired versions of our own former President, who gleefully celebrated their electoral victories. Both are extreme anti-immigrant, anti-government populists --- to put it very nicely.
  • Here at home, Donald Trump remains the GOP front-runner for the 2024 nomination (though Nikki Haley received a major boost today from the billionaires of the Koch Network), and continues to ratchet up his own far-right authoritarian threats, including with his promised domestic deployment of the U.S. Military under the Insurrection Act should voters of this nation prove foolish and self-defeating enough to allow him a second term next year.
  • Meanwhile, our current President, continues to use his powers for good instead of evil, including a new Biden Administration invocation of the Defense Production Act to boost domestic manufacturing of clean, efficient residential and business heat pump technology to replace dirty fossil fuel-burning furnaces and low-efficiency AC systems. The $169 million program, according to the Department of Energy, "will help families and businesses save money with efficient heating and cooling technology...create thousands of high-quality, good-paying manufacturing jobs and strengthen America's energy supply chain, while creating healthier indoor spaces through home-grown clean energy technologies." It is all part of a program to encourage more efficient appliances that "will save Americans $570 billion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 2.4 billion metric tons over the next 30 years." So, little wonder Fox "News" is furious about it.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report as world leaders descend upon Dubai for the latest annual United Nations climate conference (COP28) on the heels of a number of startling new reports warning that the globe will soon blow past targets set at previous conferences. This one is being hosted by the petro-state of the United Arab Emirates. What could possibly go wrong?

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Also: Sleepwalking towards climate disaster...
By Brad Friedman on 11/14/2023 6:56pm PT  

Today's BradCast picks up, by and large, where yesterday's show warning, left off. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among the stories covered today...

  • First up, it looks like the U.S. House has passed a Continuing Resolution to temporarily fund the federal government through early next year in advance of this Friday's otherwise scheduled shutdown date. With the farthest right of the GOP House conference balking, of course, Democrats were once again needed to save the day to pass the measure, which now heads to the Senate for likely adoption. New Speaker Mike Johnson's move is the exact same thing that got then Speaker Kevin McCarthy tossed from his Speakership by the extremists in his own caucus. Johnson, however, is apparently being given a pass, for now.
  • Then, we return to my argument from yesterday regarding the failure by most of the corporate media to properly inform the electorate about the two currently most likely candidates to win next year's 2024 Presidential nominations. In the case of President Biden, media are failing to accurately and proportionately report on his remarkable successes. In Donald Trump's case, they are still not fully covering the very real threat his own promised policies for a second term present to the nation.

    But some are getting it, including former Republican Congressman turned morning show host Joe Scarborough and his guest yesterday, global politics Professor Brian Klass. After Scarborough cited Trump's recent Nazi-like rhetoric for what it is, Klass made clear, in no uncertain terms: "I study the breakdown of democracy, and I don't know how to say this more clearly: We are sleepwalking towards authoritarianism, and people are not waking up to this."

  • After receiving blow-back for Trump, at a Veterans Day rally over the weekend, describing his perceived domestic enemies as "vermin", just as Hitler and Mussolini did before him, Trump Campaign spokesman Steven Cheung attempted to reject the criticism from some corners over the remarks...by doubling down in a statement promising that Trump opponents' "entire existence will be crushed when President Trump returns to the White House.” --- Not really helping, Steve.
  • Moreover, after a number of chilling recent news reports cited Trump's own vows, along with his campaign's and affiliated outside rightwing groups to create extremist plans for a second term in office --- including promises to prosecute, jail and even execute opponents and to construct major "camps" to hold millions of immigrants and homeless Americans --- his Campaign's co-managers, Susie Wilies and Chris LaCivita, issued a statement hoping to downplay detailed policy plans issued by anyone but the campaign as "purely speculative" and "merely suggestions". Unfortunately, many of those plans have been discussed with media by former top White House officials and Trump loyalists like Stephen Miller at the suggestion of the Campaign itself. And, as the New York Times observes, "the most incendiary rhetoric and proposals have come from Mr. Trump’s own mouth."
  • A judge in Michigan, just before airtime today, rejected a challenge to Trump's candidacy under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which bars those from public office who, after taking an oath to defend the Constitution, “engaged in insurrection” against it. Despite the repeated historical use of the Amendment over the last 150 years or so since it's adoption, the judge claims that Congress must act before it can be used to block a Presidential candidate from the ballot. (After tonight's show, with more details now out, it is clear that --- as with last week's ruling by the Minnesota Supreme Court in a similar challenge --- the judge's ruling is only in response to Trump's placement on the primary ballot. Both courts have left open further challenges to Trump's viability in a general election. Also, as with last week's Minnesota decision, the petitioners have vowed to immediately appeal the decision to a higher court.)
  • Meanwhile, Trump's criminal defense team in the Georgia conspiracy case against him and 18 others for attempting to steal the 2020 election in the Peach State, appears to be the source of leaked videos of three former Trump attorneys (Ken Chesebro, Sidney Powell and Jenna Ellis) and Atlanta bail bondsman Scott Hall. Each have pleaded guilty in the case and have agreed to cooperate with prosecutors against the other defendants. The selective videos, leaked to both ABC News and Washington Post, are of the four defendants being interviewed by Fulton County prosecutors just before they copped their pleas. They reveal a number of new details in the case, but appear designed to undermine their witness testimony, send a threatening message to other potential cooperators and witnesses, and otherwise highlight Trump's expected defense in the case. Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis is now seeking an emergency order from the judge to prevent any further leaks of discovery evidence. The judges in Trump's other criminal cases would be wise to take notice of what he appears to be doing in Georgia.
  • The U.S. Government released a massive, 2,200-page report today, its Fifth National Climate Assessment, finding that climate warming in the U.S. is now outpacing the global average and warning that every part of the country is being adversely affected by worsening heat waves, drought, wildfires, heavy downpours, and more. Minority communities are being disproportionately harmed. The cost of climate crisis damage to Americans is now averaging more than $150 billion each year, with last year clocking in at $178 billion. Along with the release of today's report, President Biden announced $6 billion in new investments --- paid for by the Democrats' Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act --- to "make communities across the country more resilient to climate changes...focused on key climate goals, including modernizing our aging electric grid to withstand extreme weather...Reducing flood risks to communities. Improving drought resilience. Support conservation for our national parks...And advancing environmental justice for disadvantaged communities, because they’re the ones always left behind."
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report --- for which the new National Climate Assessment came in too late today --- to report on last week's GOP Presidential Primary debate in Miami(!) which failed to even mention climate change; Australia's new treaty with the nation of Tuvalu as it disappears for good beneath the rising seas; and much more...

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Also: Callers ring in on that polling freaking out Democrats...
By Brad Friedman on 11/13/2023 6:13pm PT  

With Democrats still wetting themselves over last week's NYT/Siena polling showing Donald Trump beating President Biden a year from now in five of six swing-states, we finally carved out some time on today's BradCast to dig into the matter.

After a few news headlines, it's on to "that polling" that has freaked out so many regarding Biden's odds next year. It has spawned a thousand explanations. But mine, in short, is not unlike Margaret Sullivan's at The Guardian, where she argues that the bottom line is --- whether the polling is accurate or not --- the media are failing to accurately inform the American people. Not about the "horse race", but about Biden's accomplishments in office and the unprecedented dangers of Trump's vow to move the U.S. to become an authoritarian regime if he is allowed back in office.

President Obama's 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina argues today in Politico there is "no need to panic" over the polling numbers, based on his experience presiding over similarly grim numbers for the incumbent Prez back in 2011, when data guru Nate Silver suggested Obama was "toast" a year out from the election (which he ended up winning); New York Times Magazine gave him just a 17% chance of prevailing (apparently he beat those odds); polling by Politico showed Obama tied with Mitt Romney in 10 battleground states (Obama would go on to win 9 of them); and a December 2011 Gallup poll showed Obama losing to Romney across 12 battlegrounds states (he ended up winning 11 of them.)

In short, polling this far out doesn't mean much. But there are still plenty of reasons to be concerned. And plenty of reasons to spend time not on the horse race, but on the FACTS that Americans apparently aren't receiving from their mainstream media outlets. The FACTS of Joe Biden's extraordinary accomplishments in his first term, rivaling LBJ or FDR, and the chilling FACTS of what Donald Trump himself has vowed to do if he is re-elected, rivaling Hitler and Mussolini. (And, no, that is not hyperbole.)

As we discuss today, here is a new poll from Navigator Research revealing how wildly popular Biden's accomplishments are, whether the American people realize he has implemented them or not. And here is a list of 27 "insane things" Trump has promised, in his own words, to do if he wins a second term. And that list was created in September. He has doubled and tripled down on many of them since then.

After discussing much of the above, we open up our phone lines to listeners today, to get their explanations for all of this. Many of whom seem to get it, but a few, sadly, clearly do not. They are still buying the lies being spun by Trump, Republicans and Fox "News", because real news outlets are doing such a lousy job of telling the real story. The actual FACTS.

Reminder to our friends in the corporate mainstream media: Reporting independently verifiable FACTS, no matter how good or bad they may make any particular candidate look, is not a partisan act. It's your Constitutionally mandated and protected job.

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Grim news in Maine, Acapulco and the U.S. House, followed by much better news in Colorado, Georgia, and for union workers of the UAW...
By Brad Friedman on 10/26/2023 6:54pm PT  

I promise, things get brighter after the first segment of today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

Among our stories, first grim, and then much less so, today...

  • We begin with the horrible news out of Lewiston, Maine, following Wednesday night's mass shootings that have, so far, resulted in 18 dead and another 13 wounded, with several still in critical condition. The state was largely shut down as of airtime, with a broad, statewide manhunt underway for the suspect who is alleged to have had serious mental health issues...but was still able to obtain a deadly, high-powered, military-style assault rifle for his rampage somehow, because...freedom!
  • Similarly grim news out of Acapulco, where a climate change-fueled Hurricane Otis experienced explosive intensification off the Pacific Coast this week, as it spun up from Tropical Storm to a catastrophic Category 5 in just twelve hours time. As of airtime, 27 were confirmed dead in Mexico, with searches underway for more missing as authorities struggle to clear major roads of knee-deep mud and restore power to the battered resort city and nearby villages.
  • All of that, amid what is likely to be the hottest year ever recorded, as Republicans in the U.S. House just elected a long-time climate science denier from the oil and gas state of Louisiana to be House Speaker. Rep. Mike Johnson received more money last year from the fossil fuel industry than any other. Since 2018, the far-right religious zealot has received some $240,000 from the industry. Some of it, as it turns out, came --- unlawfully --- from Russian oligarchs, according to FEC investigators last year.
  • IN BRIGHTER NEWS...A federal judge in Georgia has ordered the state's legislature to reconvene to redraw its Congressional and state legislative maps before 2024, after being found in violation of the Voting Rights Act. The state must now add new Black-majority voting districts to all three of its maps. The judge's 516-page(!) ruling [PDF] issued today, finds the Republican-controlled legislature drew new maps following the 2020 Census which completely ignored the fact that ALL of the state's population growth since 2010 has been among the non-white population. U.S. District Judge Steven Jones has ordered one new Black-majority Congressional district, two new districts in the state Senate, and five for the state House by December 8, or he would have the maps drawn himself.
  • More good news for U.S. Constitution lovers, this time in Colorado, where a state judge ruled on Wednesday that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, the "Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause", is self-executing. In other words, public officials who have "engaged in insurrection" are simply disqualified from running for public office, even without a federal law detailing precise enforcement of the provision. Donald Trump, whose qualifications for the 2024 Presidential ballot have been challenged in a state lawsuit, argued to the contrary. But he lost. Next week, a hearing will be held to determine if the former President "engaged in insurrection", as per the Constitutional Amendment. Similar challenges to Trump's eligibility for office are also pending in Michigan and Minnesota.
  • And good news for striking autoworkers, as the United Auto Workers union announced on Wednesday night that they reached a tentative agreement with Ford. The new four-year contract, if approved by workers, will boost base pay by at least 25%, increase starting hourly wages to $28/hour and includes a myriad of other benefits sought by the labor union. It is hoped that the agreement will also pressure management for a similar contract at the other two "Big Three" automakers, G.M. and Stellantis, where the UAW also began its walk-outs about six weeks ago. Chalk up yet another in a series of very big wins for organized labor over the past year!
  • Finally, both good news and bad, as usual, with Desi Doyen in our latest Green News Report. She has more on Hurricane Otis; more on our new climate denying U.S. House Speaker; More on Big Oil doubling down before the bottom falls out for the industry; and an encouraging projection from a normally very conservative international body for the beginning of the end of fossil fuels...

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Guest: Pulitzer Prize-winning business columnist Michael Hiltzik; Also: Otis becomes Cat 5 hurricane in 12 hours before slamming Acapulco...
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2023 6:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we cover, once again, the thoroughly corrupted "conservative" cabals in both the U.S. House and U.S. Supreme Court as they flex their ill-gotten powers.

But FIRST...on our Green News Report yesterday, we briefly referenced a storm named Otis in the Pacific as a "tropical storm" heading toward Mexico. It was set to be the fourth major storm in a month to slam its Pacific coast. We also happened to discuss a new study of recent hurricanes in the Atlantic, finding that warming waters due to climate change have increased the speed and strength, along with the rapid intensification, of such storms. That behavior, as it turns out, was on full display last night with Otis, which stunned meteorologists and public officials by spinning up from a tropical storm during yesterday's show to become a major Category 5 hurricane in less than 12 hours, before slamming into Acapulco.

With some one million residents and tourists in the resort city caught largely by surprise, we await news and hope for the best, as power and cell phone coverage has been down most of the day, and major roads are said to be unpassable in the region following the catastrophic storm. In addition to being the fourth major storm to slam the coast, it was also the most powerful ever. Acapulco has never seen higher than a Cat 1 hurricane --- until now.

NEXT...The dysfunctional U.S. House Republican majority was finally able to re-open Congress on Wednesday, after selecting a new House Speaker. It was their fourth try after moving to remove Kevin McCarthy more than three weeks ago. Last night the party nominated --- and crucially, today, actually elected on the House floor --- hard-right Louisiana Congressman Mike Johnson as their new leader.

Johnson is being described today as the "architect" of the GOP's attempt to block the certification of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory in 2020. He is a close all of Donald Trump; an ardent religious opponent of abortion rights, supporting jail time and "hard labor" for those who carry them out; he supports government restrictions on medical care for trans people; and opposes further aid to Ukraine to help defend democracy against imperialistic fascism.

In other words, he shares the same positions as Ohio's Jim Jordan --- whose Speakership was blocked by so-called Republican "moderates" last week --- only more so. Apparently, despite their claims, it wasn't Jordan's positions that those "moderates" objected to. It was the fact that Americans knew about them. The little-known Johnson shares no such baggage. So they're fine with him.

FINALLY...The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear another case in December ginned up by the billionaire-funded, rightwing legal mill that looks for --- or creates out of whole cloth --- aggrieved victims of tyrannical government laws and regulations. From fake website designers worried they may someday have to create a site for a same-sex couple, to red state attorneys general falsely claiming that loan agencies are suffering from President Biden's attempted student loan debt relief program, there seems to be an endless supply of "victims" that the industry is able to come up with to parade before the far-right SCOTUS supermajority that the same rightwing billionaires continue to lavish with luxury gifts, travel, and even just cash money.

But Moore v. United States goes even farther. Its proponents hope for a ruling from their friends on the High Court majority which might knee-cap a future progressive wealth tax, akin to the ones long-proposed by Senators like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Warren's proposal, for example, would add a 2% tax --- two cents of every dollar --- to those with an accrued wealth of more than $50 million. Currently, unrealized gains in the value of real estate portfolios, stocks and bonds, fine art, etc., are not taxed, even at death, allowing for heirs of the richest 0.1% to inherit and continue generational, dynastic fortunes of billions of dollars.

The wealthy can then borrow against those accumulated assets without ever having to cash them in, which would otherwise trigger a capital gains tax (at an already very low rate.) "That is a scam and a scandal," my guest tells me today. Taxing just a portion of that wealth would result in "trillions of dollars of revenue for the U.S. Treasury that could be captured just by instituting a small percentage wealth tax on the richest families [with] more than $50 million in assets." That revenue could then be used for universal childcare, healthcare, education, and pretty much everything else that Republicans like to claim that America is just too broke to be able to afford.

So how will the Supreme Court be able to kill a still non-existent "wealth tax", when the Constitution and long-standing precedent prevents it from issuing advisory rulings on issues that aren't currently resulting in actual harm to any victims?

We're joined today by the L.A. Times' Pulitzer Prize-winning business columnist, investigative journalist and author MICHAEL HILTZIK to explain. He argues the case "stinks to high heaven," citing opponents of this case who charge that the GOP billionaire patrons of Justices Sam Alito and Clarence Thomas "have their fingerprints all over this case."

"The miasma of corruption really is laid all over this case," asserts Hiltzik. "I think it's one of the reasons that legal scholars who are watching this are very concerned that, once again, the Supreme Court's conservative majority is going to step out of its proper limited role, and essentially legislate" from the bench. "When the Supreme Court, or any federal court, actually rules on something that is not a real case or controversy, then almost by definition they are making new law, they are legislating. That is something under the Constitution that they are not supposed to do."

As Hiltzik notes, we are now seeing more and more of that from this corrupted Court. So, how can it possibly be stopped at this point? Hiltzik, who has written best-selling books about FDR's New Deal and the robber barons who originally corrupted the entire system, has some ideas on that today that as well...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Author, researcher Lee McIntyre; Also: Latest on Israel-Hamas and GOP House debacle; 'New Yorker' confirms GA Sec. of State delayed criminal probe of Team Trump's Coffee County voting system breach...
By Brad Friedman on 10/23/2023 6:46pm PT  

More voices over "the information superhighway" was supposed to make it easier for the public to discern fact from fiction. As discuss on today's BradCast, it seems to have done the exact opposite. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Two hot wars in both Israel and Ukraine, a still-simmering pandemic, a worsening climate crisis, the takeover of Twitter by a disgruntled rightwing billionaire, and a "master propagandist" running again for President of the United States, have all combined into a "perfect storm" of disinformation, my guest today explains.

We're joined by Boston University research fellow and best-selling author LEE MCINTYRE, author of 2018's Post-Truth, 2021's How to Talk to a Science Denier, and the just-published On Disinformation: How to Fight for Truth and Protect Democracy.

He's here today to help us understand the difference between misinformation and disinformation; to discuss which is worse; and what, if anything, can be done about any of it. In short, as he explains, "Misinformation is an accident. Disinformation is a lie." For example, the New York Times' (and others') coverage of the deadly explosion at a hospital in Gaza City last week, which now appears to have been caused by an errant rocket fired by a Palestinian militant group, was misinformation when the Times reported it as having been caused by an Israeli airstrike in the immediate aftermath. The misleading reportage might have originated, however, as disinformation from Hamas sources, whose allegations the Times --- as they finally conceded today --- was not properly vetted before being used to drive traffic to its website.

McIntyre also focuses on the danger that social media sites like Twitter/X now pose to democracy and the world, particularly since its takeover by Elon Musk, his blowing up of the previously helpful blue-check "verified" system which helped users distinguish legitimate sources from fakes, and his removal of most of the company's trust, safety, and information moderation team.

He details how disinformation also serves the dual purpose of not just forwarding false information on any particular issue --- like the war in the Middle East or denial of the efficacy of COVID vaccines, our climate crisis, or democratic elections --- but also collapses trust in all verified information and news sources. "Through polarization and the raising of mistrust and distrust, one message that comes through with disinformation is, 'Maybe we can't even know the truth. How do we know? Is everybody biased?' Because in that situation, you might give up on the idea of truth. That paves the way for authoritarianism."

Among the other points we discuss with McIntyre today...

  • How disinformation is now flourishing under Musk on Twitter/X and at competing sites like Mark Zuckerberg's Threads.
  • How we are all victims of whatever algorithms people like Musk and Zuckerberg may wish to put in place to determine what information we see...and don't.
  • How to walk the difficult line between content moderation and censorship, whether its via mainstream press outlets or social networking sites.
  • How "master propagandist" Donald Trump has created a career and an industry out of disinformation which now threatens the veracity of the 2024 elections.
  • How repetition works for both spreading lies and reporting the truth.
  • How to fight back against our "perfect storm of more disinformation, less content moderation, and fewer safeguards."

"I wrote my book because I want people to understand there's a way to fight back against this," McIntyre tells me. "You don't just have to believe the first media accounts. There's a way to be critical, a way to be skeptical, but also a way to push back against social media, push back against cable news, and even the government, to try to make them better and more responsible in how they fight disinformation."

ALSO TODAY...

  • The latest on the Israel-Hamas war, including the release of two more hostages from Gaza on Monday and the Biden Administration's reported efforts to try and forestall Israel's planned ground invasion of Gaza to allow for the release of hostages and foreign nationals and the delivery of humanitarian aid.
  • The latest on the continuing embarrassment of the GOP U.S. House's failure to elect a Speaker and re-open Congress.
  • The latest in the Georgia RICO case against Trump and his alleged co-conspirators for trying to steal the 2020 election in the Peach State. Following guilty pleas last week by Trump attorneys Sidney Powell and Ken Chesebro, the New Yorker's Charles Betha and Sue Halpern reported on the 400-page Georgia Bureau of Investigations' probe of Team Trump's Coffee County voting system breach. It appears to confirm our repeated reporting over the past year that GA's Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger was instrumental in delaying, if not obstructing, the GBI's criminal investigation of the theft and distribution of Georgia's statewide voting system software [emphasis mine]...
    On January 7, 2021, the day after a right-wing mob stormed the Capitol building, several people paid a visit to the Coffee County elections office. A year and a half later, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation began formally looking into allegations that “computer trespass” had taken place that day. The delay seems to have been due to resistance from the Georgia secretary of state’s office, which, for months, denied that a breach had occurred.

    Whaddaya know?...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Rich Logis on his escape from years in the 'cult' of Trump; Also: Biden in Israel; House GOP fails again to elect Jordan as Speaker...
By Brad Friedman on 10/18/2023 7:05pm PT  

I hope you'll tune in for my fascinating, informative conversation on today's BradCast with a man who spent years as a self-identified "Ultra-MAGA" --- he voted in both 2016 and 2020 for Trump and had more than a dozen Trump hats and shirts to prove it. He is now working to rebuild his life after finally escaping the "cult" to become what he describes as a "born-again human being". [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, however, the latest news from the Israel-Hamas war and the ongoing humanitarian disaster in Gaza, including Biden's trip to Israel and his warning about mistakes made by the U.S. when reacting out of rage following 9/11. There is also encouraging news today that Israel and Egypt will allow some 20 truckloads of desperately needed humanitarian aid into Gaza, following the bombing of a hospital on Tuesday which Israel claims to be the work of a terrorist group allied with Hamas. Both dispute the evidence presented by Israel, who they blame for the tragedy that took hundreds of civilian lives.

Also, in his remarks from Tel Aviv, the President announced the U.S. will be sending some $100 million in humanitarian aid to Gaza, which presumably he will discuss more in a prime-time Oval Office address now set for Thursday night. It's unclear whether that money is already available to the White House or whether Congress will be needed to allocate it. If so, it may take a while...

The House GOP failed yet again on Wednesday to elect a new Speaker after deposing their previous one two weeks ago. In this week's second try, Ohio Republican Jim Jordan received even more GOP votes against him than he did on the first ballot on Tuesday. The House remains all but shut down now until Republicans can agree on a new Speaker or until Democrats decide to save them again. That is apparently becoming more of a possibility with each passing hour as the mess continues and as a government shutdown looms on November 17.

None of this comes as a surprise to those of us who have covered --- and have been warning about --- the Republican Party's long descent into madness and chaos over the years. It didn't begin with Trump by a long shot, but the manipulation by the narcissistic egomaniac and the rightwing media outlets which fostered it have left millions of otherwise well-meaning Americans in the MAGA lurch, as our guest today details.

RICH LOGIS was formerly a rightwing pundit and dyed-in-the-wool Trumper. He even wrote for the The Federalist Society. As he recently explained in Newsweek, he was a "four-time Donald Trump voter (twice in the primaries, and twice in the general elections)" and voted for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in both the primary and general election in 2018. "And I am here to tell you that I was wrong about all of it," he now concedes.

Today he joins us on the program to explain both how he was sucked into MAGA World before the 2016 election and what it finally took to shake him out of it in 2021, after years of damage that his obsession with Trump caused to both his family and friendships.

As a reformed "Ultra-MAGA," Logis tells me today that, as I was introducing my conversation with him, he was "thinking to myself, I cannot believe that I actually thought so much of that."

In short --- and none of this will do it justice, so please tune in to listen to our conversation --- his "skepticism of the two-party system" was the initial reason he was attracted to Trump. He notes that he says "none of this as a self defense," but being drawn in he allowed himself "to be influenced by many others, which is why that rabbit hole kept getting deeper and deeper for me as I stayed in MAGA."

He describes the "really toxic, perfect storm and amalgam of factors" that initially sucked him in. "It was a confluence of factors that all aligned themselves --- between Trump being brash, not giving a you-know-what, my dislike of the two-party system, those I was around who were influencing me --- and I came to conclude, and I know that it's going to really sound illogical, the more and more that I was around others who were in the MAGA world, in the rightwing world, the more I came to conclude that the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton needed to be stopped. Because, if they won the election, they would never lose another election ever again. And anyone who was not a Democrat was going to be rendered irrelevant in their own country. If someone really believes that, as I genuinely believed that, that person will support anyone or anything."

Logis, as you'll hear, is anything but an uneducated rube. So how could he fall victim to what he now describes as "a cult"? He tells me that "when I woke up in the morning, I thought about MAGA. I went through my day thinking about MAGA. I went to bed thinking about MAGA. God knows I probably dreamt about MAGA. And then I got up the next day and did it all over again. It was all-consuming for me. And the more I was involved in the MAGA world, the more I came to see, and believe and conclude, that I and we in MAGA were on the correct side of history, and everybody else was on the wrong side of history."

In 2021, however, as DeSantis took a right turn regarding COVID, something began to give way for Logis, as you will hear him detail, along with how he was finally able to crawl his way out of the rabbit hole.

"One of the strategies I enacted, which is so simple," he explains, "I began to diversify my information sources. I lowered the defense mechanism of the black-and-white world of MAGA, which was that everything in the national press is out to get us. I started to realize, and very painfully, that so many of the rightwing mythologies that I believed, were actually the exact opposite. The Democrats were not coming for our guns. They were not trying to replace white people. They were not trying to render anyone who was a Republican or a conservative irrelevant in their own nation."

There is much more, of course, as discussed. But Logis has, since becoming a "born-again human being," formed Perfect Our Union, "an organization dedicated to healing political traumatization" and "building diverse, pro-democracy alliances" and writes for many outlets, including progressive ones like Daily Kos, where he is known as "@Leaving MAGA".

He offers advice today on how to approach your own friends and family members who may be similarly brainwashed by the MAGA cult, and explains that while he is now a registered independent, he plans to vote for Democrats for the foreseeable future because "MAGA must be electorally defeated."

"The Republican Party is a party in name only. They are a MAGA Party. That is a party that must be electorally mercy-killed so we can then enable responsible Republicans to think about how they're going to come back and rebuild that Republican Party."

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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