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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, July 2, 2022
WARNING: SCOTUS Takes Case to Legitimize Fringe 'Indpndnt State Legislature' Doctrine!: 'BradCast' 7/1/22
Corrupt Court may legalize election theft; Also: Ginni lies; Fox defamation; CA Internet Voting...
Activist SCOTUS Torches EPA's 'Clean Air Act' Mandate to Regulate Carbon Pollution: 'BradCast' 6/30/22
Guest: Mark Joseph Stern on that, much more on the final day of the corrupt Court's term...
'Green News Report' 6/30/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Rightwing SCOTUS guts EPA's power to regulate carbon emissions; Residential gas stoves leak carcinogens; PLUS: Clean energy jobs booming! Fossil fuel jobs not so much...
Recent GNRs: 6/28/22 - 6/23/22 - Archives...
Tuesday's Election Results
and the Tea Leaves of 'UNconventional Times': 'BradCast' 6/29/22
What to glean from the first midterm primaries and special elections after the fall of 'Roe'...
JAN. 6 HEARINGS (Day 6): Meadows' Top WH Aide Offers Insider Trump Bombshell After Bombshell: 'BradCast' 6/28/22
Cassidy Hutchinson's explosive testimony w/ John Amato and Heather Digby Parton...
'Green News Report' 6/28/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Cause of NM's largest-ever wildfire revealed; Japan's grid straining under extreme heat; Colombia's new Prez a climate hawk; PLUS: Americans' high cost of extreme weather...
Recent GNRs: 6/23/22 - 6/21/22 - Archives...
After Corrupt Reversal of 'Roe', What Now? What Next?: 'BradCast' 6/27/22
Callers ring in; Also: Russia attacks Ukrainian shopping mall; Surprise J6 hearing announced; SCOTUS further erodes separation of church and state with new ruling...
Sunday 'Supremely Unjust' Toons
PDiddie's latest radical collection of this extremist week's most activist and supremely corrupted toons...
SUPREME CORRUPTION: 'BradCast' 6/24/22
Packed Court of radical, activist GOP Justices invent imaginary 'historical' reasons to cancel reproductive freedoms, personal privacy rights, gun safety laws; Also: Many more well-established Constitutional rights now in peril...
JAN. 6 HEARINGS (Day 5): Trump's Failed DoJ Coup and 'How Close We Came to Losing it All': 'BradCast' 6/23/22
With former Deputy Asst. AG Lisa Graves, Salon's Heather Digby Parton...
'Green News Report' 6/23/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Biden calls for temporary gas tax cut; Arctic warming really fast; New management for national monument; PLUS: IEA warns Europe about Russian gas exports this winter...
Recent GNRs: 6/21/22 - 6/16/22 - Archives...
Rebutting Raffensperger's 'Recount', Calling Out His Coffee County 'Cover-Up':
'BradCast' 6/22/22
Guest: Marilyn Marks of CGG; Also: DoJ broadens fake Trump electors probe...
J6 HEARINGS (Day 4): Trump Threatened, Targeted, Terror-ized State Officials, Election Workers: 'BradCast' 6/21/22
Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, 'Driftglass' of the Pro Left Podcast...
'Green News Report' 6/21/22
Deadly heat in Europe, U.S.; Catastrophic flooding in India, Bangladesh; Climate change a 'public health crisis'; PLUS: Corrupt SCOTUS set to undermine EPA...
A Conservative Appeal to Repubs to Save America, End Uncivil War on Democracy: 'BradCast' 6/20/22
Also: More Americans seek Trump J6 accountability; Callers ring in...
Sunday 'Right-Wing Freakout' Toons...
PDiddie apologizes to Dad for ruining his day, in his latest weekly toon collection...
Can Our Democracy Survive All of This?: 'BradCast' 6/17/22
Guest Host Nicole Sandler w/ The Nation's John Nichols...
J6 HEARINGS (Day 3): Trump, Eastman Knew VP Scheme Unlawful, Pressured Pence Anyway: 'BradCast' 6/16/22
Guests: Former DoJ fraud prosecutor Randall D. Eliason, Salon's Heather Digby Parton...
'Green News Report' 6/16/22
'Delusional' rush to new fossil fuel supplies; A surprising source of pollution; 'World's first zero emissions cement'; PLUS: TX grid saved by wind, solar...
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...


Record U.S. corruption; Biden economy booming (don't tell the media!); Snowflake Youngkin's 'tip-line' pratfall; 'Maus' banned in TN before Holocaust Remembrance Day; Internet's dumbest man strikes again...
By Brad Friedman on 1/27/2022 7:17pm PT  

Today, The BradCast is more than just a grab bag of American corruption. It's also topped off with several heaping helpings of rising rightwing autocracy and fascism! Enjoy! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the stories covered today...

  • A new report ranking corruption among 180 countries ranks the U.S. as the 27th least corrupt in the world. In 2021, we fell to our worst score ever --- tied with Chile --- in Transparency International's index. For some reason or another, that's a fall from our previous (less corrupt) high in 2015. Whatever could have happened between then and now to make us more corrupt? The group suggests new efforts already under way by the Biden Administration to tackle corporate corruption could "significantly enhance" our ranking in future surveys. But, for now, they chalk up the nations new record low to, among other things, "persistent attacks against free and fair elections, culminating in a violent assault on the US Capitol, and an increasingly opaque campaign finance system."
  • You may or may not have heard the news --- it disappeared off of AP's front page as quickly as it was posted there today --- but the U.S. economy under Joe Biden in 2021 was absolutely booming. New Commerce Department numbers released Thursday finds that U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) increased last year at the fastest pace since Ronald Reagan's Presidency. The economy expanded by 5.7% in 2021, the best calendar year growth since 1984. Based on 4th quarter numbers, however, GDP was growing at an even faster, 6.9% annualized pace. You sure wouldn't know it from corporate media coverage, however, focused as it is on things like inflation (due, in no small part, to the exploding consumer demand). All of this is akin to AP's recent ridiculous reporting on new jobs numbers, even amid decades-low unemployment numbers and rising wages. Their headline under Trump in February of 2018, for example: "U.S. Employers Added a Robust 200,000 Jobs in January". Compare that to their December 2021 headline under Biden: "U.S. Employers Added a Sluggish 210,000 Jobs in November." (Yes, you read those correctly.)
  • Corruption takes many forms and has many different effects on a nation, none of them good. Some of them, however, can be quite amusing, even when it comes from the clumsy rightwing spread of autocracy and facism, such as that playing out under the freshly sworn in Republican Governor in Virginia, Glenn Youngkin. He announced this week that he has created a tip-line for folks to report teachers who might teach anything objectionable. That might include, for example, anything that may have to do with systemic racism (in Virginia, of all places!) or that could be perceived as making (white) children uncomfortable (aware of) our nation's past (and present). But, "Whatever you do," one Virginia lawyer and former Democratic Congressional candidate hilariously cautioned this week in a viral Twitter thread, "don't make a mockery of this with fake tips" sent to the state's helpeducation@governor.virginia.gov email tip line! He even provided some examples of several fake racism tips that should absolutely not be sent to that address!
  • As amusing as that might be, the rising tide of Republican snowflakes seeking safe spaces is also taking darker turns. This week --- just before today's Holocaust Remembrance Day, as irony would have it --- the McMinn County, Tennessee School Board voted 10 to 0 to ban Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel MAUS: A Survivor's Tale from the school's 8th grade curriculum. The remarkable (beautiful, touching, terrifying, horrifying and even hilarious at times) story of Spiegelman's relationship with his parents, both Holocaust victims, relating their stories and his mother's horrible suicide with Jews drawn as mice and Nazis as cats, should be read by everyone. It's unclear if the County School Board is aware of the irony of banning books about Nazis who famously banned books, but the entire affair has left the author Spiegelman baffled and concerned about the rise of "autocracy and fascism" in the U.S., akin to what his parents eventually escaped in Europe. But it serves as another reminder of how important it is --- as discussed on yesterday's BradCast with Run For Something's Amanda Litman --- that more pro-democracy, anti-Nazi candidates need to run for local office everywhere! Including school boards!
  • And just one more for you today on the corruption of the media --- or at least, the fake, if wildly popular, disinformation propaganda site called Gateway Pundit. We usually try to ignore them and the clownish stuff they post. But they are behind about 90% of the phony wingnut "fraud" claims used by Trump and his gullible MAGA dupes to try and steal the 2020 election. This week, the website's super genius proprietor, Jim Hoft, posted a 100% phony story claiming that the Wisconsin state Assembly voted "unanimously" on Tuesday night to advance a resolution to decertify the Badger State's 10 electoral votes for Joe Biden from 2020. That, because they "were certified under fraudulent purposes." And because MAGA dupes are dupes, the story went viral, natch. As it turns out, one single state legislator in WI tried to introduce that resolution, with zero co-sponsors, was rejected, and it received zero votes in the Assembly. In fact, it wasn't allowed up for a vote at all. But don't tell the dopey propagandist/yutz Hoft, who still has the story posted on his site --- along with years of other phony, discredited, false stories --- two days after publishing it, even after USA Today's fact check thoroughly and verifiably showed it to be completely fake news. Sigh...
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for some actual and verifiable news in our latest Green News Report, with a new report on the costs of reaching net zero emissions; another finding air pollution to be much deadlier than previously known; the Biden Administration revoking controversial mining permits in Minnesota; and both McDonald's and KFC each offering a new, plant-based menu item which may, or may not, move you to want to eat it...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: Tensions boil in Russia-Ukraine standoff; SCOTUS takes affirmative action cases...
By Brad Friedman on 1/24/2022 6:38pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we pick up, in no small part, where we left off on Friday's show regarding that chilling, newly unearthed, December 16, 2020 draft Executive Order [PDF] created for Donald Trump to allow him to declare a national security emergency, seize the nation's voting systems, and implement a military coup that would have left him in power after the 2020 election's actual winner, Joe Biden, was supposed to have been sworn in. We are joined today by the woman whose organization's federal lawsuit in Georgia was quoted extensively in that draft EO as a pretext for seizing the nation's voting systems. Of course, the MAGA Mob lied about the ruling they quoted from her lawsuit in the never-issued EO. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

But first, we cover some quick news headlines today...

  • Just before airtime, the Fulton County, Georgia Superior Court reportedly approved District Attorney Fani Willis' request for the creation of a Special Grand Jury to aid her ongoing investigation into the criminal conspiracy to steal the state's 2020 Presidential election by Trump and others in his cabal, potentially including former WH Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and Trump buddy Sen. Lindsey Graham among others.
  • Then, news on the quickly ratcheting tensions in Ukraine, where Russia continues to amass thousands of troops on their eastern border in preparation, according to NATO and the U.S., for an invasion of the former Soviet Union satellite country. Russia, on the other hand, says it has no intention of invading and is simply responding to provocations by NATO and the West. We detail the latest as tensions continue to grow by the hour --- along with new military hardware in the region --- on all sides.
  • Also on Monday, the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court announced plans to take up two cases next term on affirmative action in college admissions. One case challenges the use of race in Harvard's admissions policies, the other looks at similar policies at the public University of North Carolina. The Court's decision to hear these cases, despite multiple cases in recent years confirming the Constitutionality of such policies, signals the likelihood that the newly far-right 6 to 3 Court is looking to overturn long-standing precedent on race-based policies. Such a reversal of otherwise settled law would echo similarly radical moves in other recent rightwing hobby horse cases taken up by this Court regarding abortion, gun rights, voting rights, vaccine mandates, and environmental regulations.

Then we're joined by MARILYN MARKS, longtime election integrity, security and transparency advocate and Executive Director of the non-partisan Coalition for Good Governance. It was a ruling in the Coalition's long-standing lawsuit seeking to ban Georgia's new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems made by Dominion Voting Systems that was quoted, at length, in the December 2020 draft Executive Order [PDF] that was to direct Trump's Secretary of Defense to immediately seize the nation's voting systems and institute a military coup to keep him in office.

The EO quotes a ruling in the Coalition's case made by U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg just prior to the November 2020 election. In it, as we reported at the time, she recognized the massive vulnerabilities in Georgia's new Dominion touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems, but allowed them for first-time use in the 2020 election anyway. The previous year, as part of the very same lawsuit, Judge Totenberg finally banned the state's controversial, 20-year old, unverifiable, insecure touchscreen systems made by Diebold, finding the vulnerabilities made them unconstitutional for use in Georgia's elections. Rather than replace those old systems with verifiable hand-marked paper ballot systems, Georgia's Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger forced every county in the state to switch to the new, unverifiable Dominion systems which share many of the same problems as those they replaced.

In the draft EO, after citing Totenberg's 2020 ruling at length, the drafters of the document (likely Sidney Powell and Michael Flynn, among others), falsely claim that "Every defect and hazard of which Judge Totenberg warned, happened in Georgia."

Marks, whose has joined us many times on this program over the years to discuss her legitimate case to ban those Dominion systems in Georgia (a case which continues), offers her reaction today to seeing a ruling from her case included in the EO drafted for Trump's military coup.

"I was ready for the whole world to know about our lawsuit --- those who don't listen to you --- but this is not the way I wanted to have it happen!," quips Marks. "Because, of course, it is a totally serious lawsuit and this [EO] is preposterous, silly and crazy. And chilling, as well!"

She says that she was "horrified" when she first saw the news come in via headlines. "It's just so shocking that this would have gotten on paper anywhere, that anybody could have these ideas to use the judge's very serious ruling, to take it totally out, twist the words [and] wrap it in a bunch of lies. It's really so sad and scary."

Marks notes as well that, while there are indeed very serious vulnerabilities in Georgia's new voting systems (and others like it in use around the country) making them "hackable", the evidence-free (and/or wholly inaccurate) claims made by the Trumpers in the EO about them having been manipulated "is just so false. It's unbelievable that someone could get away with putting that on paper because there's no evidence that any of those things happened. Yes, there were problems [in Georgia]. Yes, those problems need to be resolved. But certainly not what these people are claiming."

She also explains why, even if the Pentagon had seized the voting machines in Georgia as the document called for, they were not likely to find the "malware" they pretended was on those systems in November of 2020 because the systems had already been wiped for upcoming municipal elections and the January U.S. Senate runoffs by that time in December.

We go on to discuss how both this newly revealed EO and all of the phony, evidence-free claims that the 2020 election was stolen --- as part of Trump's actual efforts to steal the election --- has made the fight for election integrity all the more difficult for real advocates. In response, she argues that many Democrats are now even more afraid to take action on anything that has to do with concerns about voting systems. Some, she notes, are even working to make such systems less transparent in the bargain. "So what we are seeing is some pushback that is really unhealthy in terms of let's reduce transparency, let's reduce citizen oversight, thinking that somehow that will quiet the citizens talking about the problems. It's a dangerous reaction," warns Marks...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Dr. Nils Gilman of Berggruen Institute; Also: Life sentences for the Arbery murderers; CyberNinjas fined by AZ judge, claim to shut down...
By Brad Friedman on 1/7/2022 7:07pm PT  

It's been a rough week. So before we get to America's rising 'demons of hell' on today's BradCast and how we might counter their re-emergence against what is left of American democracy, a few slightly more encouraging news items to kick things off. [Audio linnk to full show is posted at end of summary.]

In Georgia, the three white men who were caught on video tape murdering 25-year old black jogger Ahmaud Arbery in 2020 after hunting him down in their pick-up trucks, were each sentenced today to life in prison. Two of them, father and son, got life without the possibility of parole. The third, their neighbor, could be paroled after serving 30 years. But he's already 52, so...

In Arizona, or Florida, or wherever "they" preside, the buffoonish, rightwing conspiracy theorists, con-men and theoretical cybersecurity experts calling themselves Cyber Ninjas, declared they exist no more. That, just one day after an AZ state judge said they are to be fined $50,000 for each day that they continued to refuse to hand over public documents regarding the pretend "forensic audit" of Maricopa County (Phoenix), AZ's 2020 Presidential election they were hired by the GOP state Senate to carry out. More on that matter, hopefully, on a not-too-distant BradCast.

Next, as our week commemorating the grim, one-year anniversary of Donald Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election by hurling thousands of supporters at the U.S. Capitol last year on January 6th, in hopes of halting the certification of the Electoral College vote with a deadly insurrection, comes to a close, a bit of mopping up and looking ahead to ways to prevent a more successful election coup from happening in the near future.

First, some reflections today from our 39th President, the 97-year old democracy champion Jimmy Carter. He wrote this week in the New York Times that he now "fears" for our democracy, citing last year's insurrection and the politicians in his home state of Georgia and elsewhere, such as Texas and Florida, who have "leveraged the distrust they have created to enact laws that empower partisan legislatures to intervene in election processes." Carter sees Americans "being persuaded to think and act likewise, threatening to collapse the foundations of our security and democracy with breathtaking speed." He says the he now fears that what he, his Carter Center and America itself "have fought so hard to achieve globally — the right to free, fair elections, unhindered by strongman politicians who seek nothing more than to grow their own power — has become dangerously fragile at home."

Carter is hardly the only one with a long and broad perspective on history who has become unnerved by what we are now seeing in America. Ronald Reagan's U.S. Solicitor General, Charles Fried, interviewed last month by CNN's Christiane Amanpour, noted his birth in Prague in 1935, when "Czechoslovakia was a real democracy" before "the demons of hell came out and spoiled that for 50 years." The 86-year old longtime Republican and Harvard Law professor now says he sees "those people re-emerging" and he "hears the same tune and it scares me."

So, for those of us paying attention, what can be done? We talk about exactly that today with our guest, DR. NILS GILMAN of the Berggruen Institute, following on his recent L.A. Times op-ed discussing similar nightmares as those cited by Carter and Fried which have continue to emerge throughout 2021 and what we can ALL now do to try and counter them.

Gilman was also the co-founder the Transition Integrity Project (TIP), a bipartisan group of security, military, political and media experts who met during the summer of 2020 to game out what might happen [PDF] in various worst-case scenarios if Trump decided to declare the election results invalid and/or refused to leave office that fall. We begin today with how his TIP group viewed the January 6 Electoral College certification event in advance, which he says they saw as a "moment of Constitutional stress that bad actors could potentially exploit," warning at the time that "there needed to be preparations on the part of law enforcement to be ready for that possibility." Perhaps we'll pay more attention to his group's warnings the next time, if they decide they need to reconvene before 2024 election.

He is now warning, in his piece at L.A. Times, that "the runaway train of illiberalism continues to bear down on American democracy, and the need to act could not be more urgent." Gilman explains today what he means by the term "illiberal democracy," a phrase he cites as being coined by Hungarian strongman President Viktor Orban, who was recently endorsed by Donald Trump. Under Orban, Hungary, in recent years, has seen its media essentially taken over by his rightwing government.

Citing strongman leaders "all over the world, in Brazil, Turkey, the Philippines, Poland, "you're seeing the rise of this illiberal democracy, where you still have elections, but the electoral process is so corrupted that it basically ensures that you will get right or far-right victories under any and all circumstances." Sound familiar? That, as nations like Hungary are literally being hailed of late by folks on the American right like Tucker Carlson and Fox "News". "It's being celebrated in rightwing media as a model that America might want to follow," Gilman charges.

He goes on to detail, both in his op-ed and on today's program, what "ordinary citizens" who oppose such fascist takeovers of our democracy can and must do at the state and local level --- as we wait and hope for voting rights and election protection legislation at the federal level --- to otherwise counter such forces. Election officials are now facing threats from Trump's MAGA Mob across the country, even as his supporters are working to take over key election administration positions by both hook and crook.

"People can go out and become pollworkers," urges Gilman. "We have an under-supply. Run as a local election administrator. There are thousands of positions all over the country. Our election system is currently totally decentralized and local administrators have a lot of power, and we need people committed to the democratic process to be in those position, not people who are committed to partisan victory at any and all costs."

As he explains, "there are things that an ordinary citizen can do. But the truth is that the real problem is we need to have elites who are going to be committed to democratic practice. What we have in this country now --- and we're seeing this very much in the current Congress --- you see a split between some elites who are basically complicit with the crimes of the previous administration and then others who are complacent about the likelihood that this could come back. We need elites to take this problem more seriously and really take on the challenge of illiberalism and the anti-democratic tendencies that are becoming more and more legion in this country, particularly on the right."

We also discuss my personal concerns --- my personal nightmares --- about the ability of committed, bad faith Republicans at this point to game the Electoral College in 2024 in a way they were not prepared to do in 2020. If they do so --- at the state legislative and/or Congressional level --- I believe there is nothing currently in federal law or the U.S. Constitution to prevent such a bad-faith exercise from succeeding next time. Please tune in to see if Gilman shares my concern.

Finally today, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest, very lively, Green News Report, which we had to postpone until today to make room yesterday for our special coverage of the first anniversary of the GOP's January 6th, 2021 insurrection...

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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Republicans remain shamefully disinformed one year later; Biden calls out predecessor's 'web of lies conceived and spread for profit and power'; American democracy remains in peril...
By Brad Friedman on 1/6/2022 6:41pm PT  

While we've been citing the New York Times Editorial Board's headline from New Years Day of late on The BradCast, declaring that "Every Day is Jan. 6 Now", today it quite literally was, as the nation marked the grim first anniversary of Donald Trump's final, deadly and failed attempt to steal the 2020 election. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

We'll let you tune in for details of our special coverage today, in which we discuss some difficult realities in the ongoing fight to save American democracy. Trump's attempted coup might have failed on January 6, but his evidence-free lies about the election have succeeded in duping nearly 80% of Republicans into believing that Joe Biden's victory was not legitimate. That, despite the lack of any evidence, more than one year later, that the election results were fraudulent in any state.

As noted on today's program, authoritarianism and fascism, it seems, have had far greater success over the centuries for a reason. They are much easier than democracy, which requires truth, facts, transparency, public oversight and public participation in its defense. But, if you are lied to, if you don't know what is actually going on in our country, in your government, if you don't know the facts, it is difficult to defend them or democracy itself.

But we will keep striving to do so, by bringing you independently verifiable facts every day for as long as we can --- in a way that doesn't require you to simply trust us --- in hopes of somehow, someday, someway, restoring a sense of a shared reality from which we can all take action.

Toward that end, both Vice President Kamala Harris and President Biden offered remarks today from inside the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, one year after it was attacked by a duped MAGA Mob ginned up by Donald Trump to believe that his lies about the election had any relation to reality. On that day, and those that followed, some his supporters, as well as several U.S. Capitol and D.C. law enforcement officers, paid the price with their lives, along with nearly 150 officers who were injured in the unprecedented assault.

We share both Harris' and Biden's words today, each of whom underscored yet again the necessity of federal legislation to shore up voting rights to counter the GOP's newly enacted schemes to subvert elections and overthrow democracy itself.

For his part, Biden forcefully called out the failed former President in blistering remarks in which he accused Trump and his supporters of holding a "dagger at the throat of democracy" in an "armed insurrection" one year ago.

"We must be absolutely clear about what is true and what is a lie," Biden urged. "The former President of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election. He’s done so because he values power over principle, because he sees his own interests as more important than his country’s interests and America’s interests, and because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution. He can’t accept he lost."

"Right now, in state after state, new laws are being written --- not to protect the vote, but to deny it; not only to suppress the vote, but to subvert it; not to strengthen or protect our democracy, but because the former president lost," he continued. "It's wrong. It’s undemocratic. And frankly, it's un-American."

"It's up to all of us --- to 'We the People' --- to stand for the rule of law, to preserve the flame of democracy, to keep the promise of America alive. That promise is at risk, targeted by the forces that value brute strength over the sanctity of democracy, fear over hope, personal gain over public good.

"Make no mistake about it: We’re living at an inflection point in history," Biden said. "As we stand here today --- one year since January 6th, 2021 --- the lies that drove the anger and madness we saw in this place, they have not abated. So, we have to be firm, resolute, and unyielding in our defense of the right to vote and to have that vote counted."

"We are in a battle for the soul of America," he charged, reiterating the argument with which he kicked off his 2020 campaign as he concluded his remarks. "I did not seek this fight brought to this Capitol one year ago today, but I will not shrink from it either. I will stand in this breach. I will defend this nation. And I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of our democracy."

He finished by offering a blessing for "those who stand watch over our democracy."

Finally today, at the end of somewhat dark program, some light. Just a bit. We close with a spoken word poem of some hope from Amanda Gorman, our National Youth Poet Laureate, called New Day's Lyric...

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Guest: Philly Inquirer's Will Bunch; Also: Garland vows accountability for 'all Jan. 6 perpetrators, at any level'; Coward Trump cancels anniversary presser; Hannity's insider testimony sought by House 1/6 Committee...
By Brad Friedman on 1/5/2022 6:24pm PT  

One year after the former President's attempt to steal the 2020 election by hurling the bodies of his supporters at the U.S. Capitol, we're more convinced than ever on The BradCast that, as the New York Times Editorial Board declared on New Years Day, "Every Day is Jan. 6 Now". [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

We will soon be entering our 19th year at The BRAD BLOG of trying to warn about the ongoing and worsening threats facing American democracy. But the rising tide of authoritarianism in this nation is now more of a threat than at any time in modern decades. If American democracy falls, so does virtually every other pressing demand, like the need to save humanity from the ravages of climate change. So, yeah. It's kind of important, and we will continue to stay on this beat as long as necessary, as long as we can.

Toward that end today, the despicable, disgraced, twice-impeached, failed, loser of a former President, Donald Trump, who lied about voter and election fraud in order to try and steal a Presidential election, cancelled his planned press conference at Mar-a-Lago on the first anniversary of his pathetic, desperate and deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol. As it turns out, he's both a coward and didn't actually have anything to say that hasn't already been heard and/or debunked as bullshit.

His ridiculously (but not surprisingly) childish statement announcing he was calling off the presser came just hours after his pal, Sean Hannity of Fox 'News', was politely invited to answer questions from the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Capitol assault and Trump's attempt to steal the election which lead up to it. The Committee makes clear in its letter [PDF] that they have already obtained many documents from others regarding Hannity's insider status and direct conversations with Trump in the days before, during and after the attack. While the Committee explained their efforts to go out of their way to avoid any First Amendment press freedom issues with Hannity, and even tried to appeal to his (pretend) patriotism, its unclear whether the Fox propagandist will cooperate.

Next, buttressing the persuasive argument made by Marcy Wheeler with Nicole Sandler on The BradCast last week, Attorney General Merrick Garland, facing pressure from the left to bring accountability to Trump and his cronies, addressed DoJ officials on Wednesday on the occasion of the first anniversary of last year's Capitol attack. After detailing the more than 700 arrests made to date, and at least 250 perpetrators who are still being sought for assaulting law enforcement officials that day, Garland promised the probe was far from complete and was following the facts of the case from the bottom up.

"The Justice Department remains committed to holding all Jan. 6 perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law --- whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy," the AG vowed, adding: "We will follow the facts wherever they lead."

He also highlighted how the U.S. Supreme Court has radically gutted the Voting Rights Act twice over the past decade, and called again for new federal legislation to give the DoJ tools they need to assure the right to vote and to combat state legislatures institutionalizing the ability to subvert election results on a partisan whim.

Finally, we're joined again today by WILL BUNCH, longtime national correspondent and columnist at Philadelphia Inquirer. Bunch was with us on January 6th last year for a wild ride of a broadcast that day as the Capitol was still under assault during the official confirmation of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory as we went to air. At the time, it was particularly unclear what exactly the MAGA Mob was doing and how they might be stopped.

Among the topics of our conversation one year later with Bunch (who just tested positive for COVID!): Lessons learned since Jan. 6 and the many questions still unknown; The many, still confusing reasons and explanations as to why it took so long for law enforcement to respond to the worse attack on the Capitol in two centuries (he suggests part of that was due to "a dog that didn't bark"); Whether or not there should have been more accountability brought by the Justice Department by now (he notes that the Watergate probe took much longer); And his thoughts on Garland's comments at the DoJ today...among much more!

"Honestly, it's taken a full year and it's taken really diligent, praise-worthy work from the January 6th Committee in the House to bring into focus some of what we saw happening that day, that we didn't fully understand in real time," Bunch observes. "What the goals were, who was behind what and why. We've learned so much in the last twelve months."

We've got a lot to discuss on today's program...

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In other words...a whole lotta news...
By Brad Friedman on 12/9/2021 6:33pm PT  

Yes, the walls are continuing to close in on our disgraced, twice-impeached, indescribably criminal previous President, as discussed in two encouraging news stories today. But much of his damage is already done, to a rightwing party that has become so whacked out and authoritarian that the rails they are now off of can no longer be seen. On the other hand, we've got more good news for labor, the economy and maybe even democracy under Joe Biden's Presidency on today's BradCast...whether the corporate media decides to notice such things or not. [Audio link to full program is posted at the end of this summary.]

Among the enormous grab bag of stories covered on today's program...

  • Lowest in 52 years: New weekly jobless claims come in at another record low today. And, while you might think such good news numbers, not seen since 1969, would be both cause of celebration and front page news alerts, that sort of thing only happens when such things occur while's there's a Republican in the White House, apparently.
  • Good news brewing for workers: A Starbucks shop in Buffalo, New York becomes the first of the coffee giant's corporate-owned stores to become unionized in the United States. As discussed with labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein on a recent BradCast, the company will spend untold millions to keep that from spreading to its tens of thousands of other stores where workers may finally be realizing the collective bargaining is good for everybody.
  • At least someone's doing something about it: Italy issues a record fine to e-commerce giant Amazon of more than a billion dollars for their monopolistic practices. Why doesn't the U.S. do the same thing? Perhaps it will with Joe Biden's new, anti-monopoly warriors setting up shop at the Federal Trade Commission and the anti-trust division at the Dept. of Justice.
  • Unsolved MAGA mysteries: Some of the wingnuts on pillow impresario and failed election fraud fraudster Mike Lindell's streaming disinformation channel think it must be a Big Government conspiracy causing rightwing anti-vax and anti-mask warriors to keeping contracting COVID and dying from it. We think there may be another explanation.
  • You decide: Authoritarian Fox "News" prime time star Laura Ingram can't figure out what Washington Post's Dana Milbank could possibly be referring to in calling for media to stand up for democracy right now. "Authoritarians? What are they even talking about?," Ingram puzzles. "Authoritarians? Who's that?!"
  • Show-Me shame: Missouri's embarrassing wingnut Attorney General and U.S. Senate hopeful Eric Schmitt embarrasses my old home state with a letter welcoming President Biden to the Show Me state for his "first visit as President to one of the 25 states that cast its electoral votes for President Trump in 2020" before, on official state AG letterhead, describing him as a "socialist" endangering "the livelihoods of tens of millions" by mandating vaccines or testing for many workers. For an AG, you'd think he'd be better at fact-checking. (Biden has actually visited seven other Trump states before arriving in MO.) But, it's Schmitt's recent Big Government mandate to local public health officials and school boards across the state to immediately end "all" public health orders --- for mask mandates, quarantines and more --- that has one of our listeners from the state (an elementary school teacher) so troubled. She also smartly wonders: "What happened to Republicans being the party of local control?"
  • I ❤ New York: As to those walls continuing to close in on the criminal former President, we've got two related pieces of good news today. In one, New York Attorney General Leticia James is reportedly calling Trump in for a deposition in her civil suit examining years of apparent tax and bank fraud by the Trump Organization.
  • I ❤ the D.C. Court of Appeal: In today's second Trump accountability story, the federal appeals court in D.C. has denied his appeal claiming "Executive Privilege" should block the release of a treasure trove of White House documents regarding his January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, as subpoenaed from the National Archives by the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection and approved by the current Commander-in-Chief (the only one who ACTUALLY is able to invoke Executive Privilege.)
  • 'Yes, Democracy is hard': Democracy is down but not out...yet. President Biden convened the first Summit for Democracy today, with more than 100 of the world's democratic nations invited to attend. We share part of his opening statement, wherein he acknowledges that democracy is on a "backward slide", even here in the U.S., but that its still well worth fighting for and definitely beats the alternative of autocracy, rising around the world, and even here at home.
  • State of emergency: Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, covering Biden's new Executive Orders to achieve net zero emissions by 2050; Florida taking unprecedented steps to save beloved manatees; troubling news for New Englanders this winter; and a heads-up on a new, blockbuster Hollywood "comedy" aiming to underscore our climate change emergency in a very clever way...

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Guest: Nicolás Rivero of Quartz; Also: House finally passes Biden BBB agenda, hard part waits in Senate; VA school board unbans books; Fight for majority control of VA House of Delegates not over yet...
By Brad Friedman on 11/19/2021 7:00pm PT  

Apparently it's another myth busting episode of The BradCast today. It would be nice if lousy reporting from the corporate media --- particularly regarding the economy --- didn't make these so frequently necessary of late. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up today, a few other stories of note today...

  • The 17-year old white kid who crossed a state border into Kenosha, Wisconsin to unlawfully wield a semi-automatic weapon before using it to shoot three anti-racism protesters, killing two of them, was acquitted of all charges today. So, we guess it's now open season to shoot anyone ya like, as long as you claim it was done in self-defense. And, yes, as long as you're white.
  • Democrats in the U.S. House finally came together today to pass the Build Back Better Act, President Biden's nearly $2 trillion landmark spending bill to expand healthcare, childcare, education, eldercare and much MUCH more, including the most substantive action to combat the global climate crisis in the history of the nation. Every Republican in the chamber voted against it. The transformative legislation includes scores and scores of long-overdue provisions that, if virtually any one of them were passed on their own as a standalone bill, it would be, to paraphrase the President, a BFD. But, of course, while getting it through the House took months, that was the easy part. Now, the crowning achievement of Biden's agenda will have to get through the U.S. Senate, where, without any Republican votes, all 50 Senators who caucus with the Democrats will have to sign off on in order to pass it under Senate budget reconciliation rules. That means obstructionist Democrats like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema may feel free to water it down further than they already have, or kill it all together. We'll find out what happens when the upper chamber picks up the measure, after the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • A few days ago, we reported on the Spotsylvania County, Virginia School Board's 6 to 0 vote last week to begin removing certain books from their school's libraries after a debate about whether they should ban the books or both ban and burn them. It was one of several stories we highlighted to underscore the unmistakable drumbeat of rising authoritarianism in our country right now. But, at least on that story, there is some good news this week. Democracy struck back! After 4 and a half hours of public comment at the Board's subsequent meeting this week, cut off only because it was midnight, the Board voted to reverse it's ban! Though the Board's two book burning proponents stood their ground, they lost in a 5 to 2 vote. All thanks to excellent local media reporting and a huge turnout from teachers, librarians, parents and teachers who spoke passionately in favor of libraries and books while calling for the book burners to resign.
  • Following up on another story we covered earlier this week, on the media's horrifically misleading reporting on inflation, we share part of a Paul Waldman excellent column from WaPo that sounds as if it could have been ripped straight from The BradCast's coverage that day, myth busting the very same issues that we did.
  • Then, picking up on a related-ish myth that needs busting as well this week, we're joined by NICOLÁS RIVERO of Quartz, to discuss his recent myth-busting, deep-dive reporting on our current, pre-Christmas, "post-pandemic" supply chain issues and why, despite no shortage of bad reporting on this, a shortage of truck drivers is not actually to blame.

    In fact, the industry has been claiming virtually every year since 2005 (and, really, going back to the late 1980s as Rivero documents), that they have a shortage of drivers. Last month, the American Trucking Associations announced a shortage of 80,000 drivers, declaring it "an all-time high for the industry." That, despite the fact that states issue more than 450,000 new commercial driver's licenses every year. Something doesn't add up here. At the same time, as Rivero tells me today, "between 1995 and 2017, the turnover rate at big trucking companies averaged 94%," according to the industry's own data. "That means that every year, they are refilling the equivalent of virtually every driving position, because people are quitting and leaving."

    "The real shortage," he explains, is not of truckers, but "of good trucking jobs that can attract and retain workers in a tight labor market." So, why isn't supply keeping up with demand in that supposedly free market? Rivero discusses the industry's "race to the bottom," leading drivers to take equal or better paying jobs elsewhere that don't come with all of the burdens --- especially for long-haulers --- the industry now forces onto their drivers.

    We also discuss the trucker's unions' part in all of this, and how --- and if --- Biden's new infrastructure bill might actually improve the situation, for drivers, for the industry and, yes, for our "post-pandemic" supply chain woes.

  • Finally, in our closing few minutes (before standing down to hit the road ourselves for the holiday next week!), the fight for control of the Virginia House of Delegates may not be as over as it appeared almost three weeks ago, when Republicans were declared by media to have taken the majority back from the Democrats during the off-year elections. A very close race in one district and a tallying error in another very close race (leading the Dem who currently holds that seat to withdraw her concession), has now resulted in two upcoming recounts. Republicans will control 50 seats in the 100-seat chamber. The question is now whether the GOP will control the chamber outright or --- long shot as it may be --- if both races flip to the Democrats resulting in a 50-50 power sharing agreement. Luckily, the commonwealth recently moved from 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems to hand-marked paper ballots. So a fair, overseeable count of voter intent is now possible in the state where Republican Glenn Youngkin was declared the winner in the Gubernatorial race and Republicans swept the other two statewide races on November 2nd for Lt. Governor and Attorney General.

We'll be watching over the holidays, even as 'The BradCast' and 'GNR' stand down next week for a much needed recharge of batteries and some long-overdue family time. We'll see ya after the holiday! Desi and I both hope it will be a healthy and happy one for all!...

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FL blocks Univ. of Florida profs from serving as expert witnesses in lawsuits against the state; SCOTUS may be having second thoughts about TX' unconstitutional anti-abortion law; And more chilling stories of democracy dying before our eyes...
By Brad Friedman on 11/1/2021 6:23pm PT  

The through-line for today's BradCast comes courtesy of Meathead. Actor and director Rob Reiner was arguing, via Twitter over the weekend, that "until Donald Trump is prosecuted for leading a deadly Insurrection to overthrow the Government and Voting Rights are passed," we are witnessing the death of Democracy.

He was much more correct than he may have realized. But the stories we cover today --- only half of those we had hoped to get today, and none of which directly covered the two issues Reiner was referring to --- underscore that theme. If it's not immediately obvious, tune into today's show to find out how.

Among the stories covered, discussed, explained, warned about, expounded and ranted upon on today's program (along with listener calls throughout)...

  • Election Day is Tuesday in states across the country. As discussed last week, democracy itself is on the ballot in New York state. But most attention on Tuesday has been going to Virginia, where Trump-endorsed Gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin has now taken a lead in FiveThirtyEight's pre-election polling average over VA's former Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe. We explain why history is on Youngkin's side. Perhaps by Wednesday we'll find out if the voters in Virginia are as well, as democracy is not yet dead (hopefully) in some pockets of the nation.
  • In Florida, a simply remarkable and, yes, chilling story. The University of Florida has barred three professors --- each one an expert in democracy and voting rights (two of whom have appeared on The BradCast multiple times over the years) --- from testifying as expert witnesses for the plaintiffs in a challenge to the state's new voter suppression law passed earlier this year. The measure, signed on Fox "News" by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, surrounded by Trump supporters and with local media locked out entirely, restricts the use of drop-boxes for absentee ballots, while making it more difficult to obtain Vote-by-Mail ballots and harder to register to vote, among other democracy killing provisions. The university (whose Board of Trustees is headed up by a close DeSantis confidante and major GOP donor) claims that testifying against a state law would represent a conflict of interest for UF. That's an idea that is unheard of, frankly, and would prevent experts in their fields from being able to testify on their expertise in states in which they live and work. The same profs were never prevented from doing so in the past and experts on academic freedom describe this novel notion as unprecedented. A lawsuit seeking the review of documents from DeSantis on this matter, to determine his involvement in the University's decision, was filed on Friday.
  • At the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, the new "unprecedented" anti-abortion law in Texas, barring the otherwise Constitutionally protected medical procedure after just six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even known they are pregnant, was heard on SCOTUS' rocket docket just two months after they'd allowed it to take effect in the Lone Star State. The matter in question is whether a case filed by abortion providers in the state and another by the U.S. Department of Justice should be allowed to proceed, despite the virtually unquestioned matter of the new state law, S.B. 8, violating Roe v. Wade. The reason the question even arises is because Texas purposely structured the law in a way that hopes to side-step any and all judicial review of the law. That is done by the statute empowering members of the public with a right to file a civil lawsuit against anyone who, in any way, aids a woman in receiving an abortion after six weeks. Under S.B. 8, plaintiffs may even sue an Uber driver who brought a woman to a clinic, for at least $10,000, and the State argues that because they are not enforcing the law, members of the public are doing so, the law cannot be challenged in either federal or state court.

    But even far-right Republican Justice Brett Kavanaugh (and, of course, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan) was able to put two and two together during today's hearing to realize that if this type of law is allowed to go forward, states could adopt laws that effectively outlawed many other long-settled Constitutional rights, and avoid judicial oversight in the bargain. So, yes, California could adopt a law similar to S.B. 8 that makes owning a gun a civil violation for which anyone in the public could sue a gun owner for, say, a million dollars. Are the Justices on the High Court --- who allowed this law to take effect two months ago, ending almost all abortions for now in TX --- sure they want the nation to go down this path?

  • One of the other several stories we quickly covered of democracy dying today, referenced the newly gerrymandered maps for the four U.S. House seats in Iowa. Last week, after Republicans rejected a new map that would have split the state into two districts that voted for Biden last year and two that voted for Trump, they instead approved a second version of a map in which Trump won all four districts. One expert in redistricting describes the new maps as "a dream Republican map." Yes. That is yet another way in which democracy dies...unless we fight like hell to prevent it from doing so.

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House holds Bannon in contempt; TX Lt. Gov. pays out for GOP voter fraud; CA GOP's recall boondoggle; Vets dump Sinema; Manchin could dump Dems; TX steals minority House seats; IL boosts Dems (a little)...
By Brad Friedman on 10/21/2021 6:06pm PT  

We covered a whole bunch of stories on today's BradCast. You'll have to tune in to find out what I have to say about most of them. Suffice to say there was a lot of both good news and bad. Often at the same time. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

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

  • The full U.S. House voted to recommend criminal contempt charges to the DoJ for Steve Bannon's refusal to answer his subpoena for documents and testimony from the House Select Committee investigating Trump's January 6th insurrection.
  • California certifies the results from last month's GOP Gubernatorial recall election, with the state's Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom winning by the exact same percentages --- to the decimal --- that he won his first term back in 2018. Money well spent, Repubs! And thanks for wasting $300 million taxpayer dollars.
  • Five veteran advisors to Arizona's Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema have had enough. They quit her advisory board for service members with a blistering letter citing her obstruction of democracy and the Biden agenda. The progressive veterans group Common Defense has now turned the letter into a TV ad with a seven figure buy to condemn the obstructionist Dem.
  • MoJo's David Corn reports that West Virginia's obstructionist Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has a plan to quit the Democratic Party altogether. Manchin disputes the report. Corn stands by it. Either way, it should serve as a reminder of how fraught things are in the Senate right now, how narrow the Democratic majority is, and how the Senate could see Mitch McConnell and the GOP back in control, literally, at any moment. That, of course, would immediately end any hope of passing any part of the Biden, Democratic and/or progressive agenda. Perhaps there's good reason that President Biden isn't calling out Manchin by name for failing to reform the filibuster as many progressive voting rights activists have been demanding?
  • The GOP's ongoing assault on American democracy continues apace, as they plan to gerrymander their way into the House majority in 2022, and then use that control --- along with new election subversion laws in states they control --- to try and steal the 2024 Presidential election in a way they weren't prepared to do in 2020. All of which should serve as a reminder to every democracy loving American that it's time to step up --- even if it means reconsidering long-held, rock-solid beliefs. For example, that extreme partisan gerrymandering is wrong. It is. But is it wrong if it's needed to actually save American democracy? In Texas, new Republican-adopted Congressional (and state legislative) maps steal seats from minorities, despite the fact that the state's population growth --- and two new U.S. House seats to go with it --- is due almost entirely to minorities. Happily, states like Illinois are not taking the matter (entirely, anyway) lying down.

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Guest: Author, gerrymandering expert David Daley of Fair Vote; Also: Hope springs eternal for Freedom to Vote in the U.S. Senate; And GOP bathtub climate change physics in Virginia...
By Brad Friedman on 10/15/2021 6:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast, I share an idea that I've thought long and hard about, struggled with and, frankly, never thought I'd have, much less recommend, as this idea is essentially counter to everything I have long fought for as a democracy advocate. But, as they say, desperate times...and all that. [Audio link to full show follows this summary below.]

Next Wednesday, Senate Majority Chuck Schumer has told Democrats, he plans to bring up the Freedom to Vote Act for a cloture vote, which --- if successful --- would then allow the Senate to proceed to debate on the bill that is critical right now for the survival of American democracy itself. Even if passed, Freedom to Vote won't save everything, of course, but it will help. Big time. The Joe Manchin-approved "compromise" version of the For the People Act (which has already been passed by the House) would, among a boatload of other long-overdue things, institute automatic voter registration and minimum requirements for Absentee and Early Voting in all 50 states; adopt rules that would limit the most disenfranchising Photo ID restriction laws; require hand-marked paper ballots for all voters(!); and prevent extreme partisan gerrymandering among other much needed stuff that would benefit all voters and democracy itself --- if not necessarily the Republican Party, as they see it, while they continue to lie about the bill in order to place party above both country and democracy.

Next week's cloture vote on the measure is likely to be supported by all 50 members of the Democratic caucus in the Senate. But it is unlikely to be allowed up for debate in the minoritarian Senate because, unless Manchin and any other Democratic obstructionists agree to reform the filibuster to allow democracy saving legislation to pass with a simple majority, it won't receive the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican obstructionist filibuster. That, as GOP-controlled states across the country continue to adopt measures making it harder for (certain) voters to vote and easier for Republicans to cheat by overturning election results they don't like by partisan fiat.

In 2010, the GOP's so-called "REDMAP" program succeeded with Republicans taking over state legislatures in order to draw extreme partisan gerrymanders following that year's decennial census to assure themselves majorities in both statehouses and Congressional delegations for the ensuing decade, even when receiving a minority of the vote. Now that the 2020 census has been completed --- and the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court has determined that federal courts may not intercede to block partisan gerrymanders in any way --- those same Republican state legislatures are in the process of drawing even more extreme gerrymanders for partisan advantage over the next decade. Experts say that "red" states are now in the process of redistricting in such a way that even if the nation voted exactly as it did in 2020, Republicans would end up taking control of the U.S. House --- even with millions of fewer votes than Democrats receive for their elected members of Congress.

That is just part of the near future that all Americans can look forward to if the Republicans and Democrats like Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema in the Senate prevent passage of the Freedom to Vote Act along with its federal restrictions on extreme partisan gerrymanders.

While I hate the idea, all one has to do is take a look at what the Texas legislature (and others like it) are currently up to and planning this year to realize that it's time --- at least if Freedom to Vote is not adopted --- for Democratically-controlled states to answer the GOP assault on democracy by instituting their own extreme partisan gerrymanders in response.

As noted, I hate that idea. It is, at least on the surface, counter to the small "d" democratic ideals that I have always fought for. But, at this point, with the American democratic experiment now teetering toward unstoppable authoritarianism, unilateral disarmament by Democrats seems more like a suicide pact. Yes, for Democrats, but, much more importantly, for democracy itself.

I suspect not everyone will agree with me here, including my guest today. I'm joined by the man who actually wrote the book on partisan gerrymanders, DAVID DALEY of FairVote.org. His book on the GOP's REDMAP assault on democracy is called Ratfucked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy. His more recent follow-up, out this year, is Unrigged: How Americans Are Battle Back to Save Democracy.

Daley details the horrors to come from the GOP's extreme gerrymandering plans that we will see in the next few weeks and months, describing them as "really bleak for the Democrats on the redistricting front". For example, he explains, "if you look at the 2020 election, Democratic candidates for the U.S. House won 4.7 million more votes than Republican candidates, but that only turned into a 5 seat majority. Republicans, simply by redistricting in Texas, Georgia, North Carolina and Florida alone --- before you even get to the handful of other states where they can pick up individual seats --- could probably get at least twice the number that they need to flip the House simply by gerrymandering those states."

But, even as he argues in favor of "Constitutional hardball" from Democrats, he does not agree with me that Dems should participate in the same sort of behavior in response when it comes to redistricting this year, describing it as "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic." He explains why, and we debate the issue on today's program.

I welcome your thoughts on this matter via email or in comments below, as I hope to discuss this more on the show in the days ahead.

Finally today, as if anyone needed more evidence of the dangers that await a fully Trumpified GOP takeover of democracy (even more than has already occurred), at least one Republican candidate running for the House of Delegates in Virginia next month should scare the hell out of you..and, for reasons that Desi Doyen explains, especially Virginians...

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Another busy day taking on America's rising GOP Authoritarian Front...
By Brad Friedman on 10/12/2021 6:31pm PT  

Well, we've got another news-packed, rant-packed, and (hopefully) democracy-saving BradCast for you today. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Tune in for the most bang for your buck (by far), but among the stories and issues touch-stoned on today's program...

  • Democratic U.S. Senators held a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol last week to insist that critical provisions to finally take on our climate crisis may not be removed from the Dems' proposed Build Back Better Act to win the support of obstructionist Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the hop-hop caucus, spoke at the presser, and laid out the "no climate, no deal" existential stakes. We share his important remarks.
  • Speaking of the Dems' proposed, expansive, ten-year, $3.5 trillion bill, never mind the price tag. Unlike the accompanying smaller bipartisan infrastructure bill championed by Manchin and Sinema with Republicans, which is not fully paid for, the Build Back Better bill is, via small tax increases for wealthy people and corporations. But, lost in Manchin and Sinema's silly quibbles over the price tag for Build Back Better is the extraordinary number of wildly popular provisions in it, on everything from the expansion of Medicare to include hearing, vision and dental coverage for seniors, to free pre-K and community college, to 12 weeks of paid family leave, and, of course, the critical climate measures to move the nation's utility companies from dirty fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy. But that's a tiny sampling of what's in this long-overdue bill. MSNBC's Mehdi Hasan offers much more on what's actually in the most transformative piece of legislation since the LBJ- and FDR-eras --- and he does so in less than 60 seconds!
  • Both the larger bill and the smaller bill compromising Biden's agenda must be passed (and soon!) if Democrats are to have any chance at holding off the Authoritarian Front (otherwise known as the Republican Party) in 2022. To that end, we've been discussing of late how the media (including us!) do not seem to be sounding the alarm bells as loudly as warranted, given the Trump/GOP assault on democracy itself in advance of next year's mid-terms and the 2024 Presidential race. A recent conversation on that point with media critic Eric Boehlert last Friday on this show, included a "major error", brought to our attention via email by a listener. After sharing the error with Boehlert, he issued a correction. Tune in for all the details today, but we are grateful to listener Linda C. for checking the facts and holding our feet to the same fire as we hold to everyone else's!
  • In more American-democracy-on-the-brink news, top Republicans are still, shamefully, unwilling to say out loud that Joe Biden won the 2020 election fair and square, that it was not stolen from Donald Trump, and that there is absolutely zero credible evidence suggesting otherwise, nearly a full year since the election. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), the second-highest ranking Republican in the House after minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), is the latest to prove his cowardice and refusal to say as much during a weekend interview on Fox "News".
  • Speaking about his new book, Midnight in Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could, detailing Trump's two impeachments and the disgraced former President's attempt to steal the 2020 election by sending his supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) discussed what happened that day on CNN this morning. Of note, as we share, he discusses the abject fear among GOP leadership to cross Donald Trump in any way, and the threat that poses to democracy itself. Schiff describes "the insurrectionists in suits and tie", like Scalise and McCarthy, who, "unlike those people climbing outside the building" on January 6th, "they knew it was a lie". But, in their "relentless attack on the truth," he explains, they are now willing to pretend that they don't know that Trump tried to steal the 2020 election.
  • Longtime Republican columnist Max Boot, however, does know that the Big Lie was, in fact, a lie. He also seems to appreciate the threat it now poses to democracy itself. In his Washington Post column this week, he explains why, despite formerly being a lifelong Republican, he is now "a single-issue voter. My issue is the fate of democracy in the United States. Simply put, I have no faith that we will remain a democracy if Republicans win power. Thus, although I’m not a Democrat, I will continue to vote exclusively for Democrats ... until the GOP ceases to pose an existential threat to our freedom." Thank you, Max. I hope anyone who still supports democracy takes Boot's warning to heart because, as he notes, "What matters now is preserving our democracy."
  • And what are Republicans doing where they do hold the power to govern instead of destroy? They're destroying. In Texas yesterday, Republican Governor and cowardly tyrant Greg Abbott issued an executive order certain to results in many more dead Texans. It prohibits any entity in the state, including private business, from imposing any COVID vaccine requirements for employees or customers. Because, freedom? At the same time, the Texas Republican Party chair who thinks Abbott isn't Trumpy enough, stepped down from the Chairmanship several months ago to oppose the incredibly-Trumpy Governor in next year's primary. That former chair is former Florida Congressman and loon Allen West, who, as of this weekend, is now hospitalized with COVID. He's now posting on Facebook from his hospital bed about taking hydroxychloroquine and the horse de-worming drug Ivermectin, while proudly swearing he's more anti-vaccine than ever and simultaneously proving he knows absolutely nothing about how either health care or even "Big Pharma" works.

    (For the record, even though he's a far-right wingnut loon, we went to bat for West and his supporters in 2012 after he got screwed by a major voting system tabulation failure during his failed reelection bid against Democrat Patrick Murphy in Florida that year. Scroll down his BRAD BLOG category page for some of the highlights. Just a helpful reminder for all of the brain-poisoned dupes stopping by the blog of late to say, "Hey, Brad what happened to you?! I can't believe you'd put party over country by failing to call out all the fraud in the 2020 election!" Yes, brain-poisoning is exceedingly toxic. Try some horse de-wormer, kiddies.)

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with her usual roller-coaster mix of horrific and hopeful (but mostly horrific) environmental news...

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Guest: Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA-47); Also: More on media failure to take the rise of Trump/GOP autocracy with the gravity deserved; Callers...
By Brad Friedman on 10/11/2021 6:46pm PT  

The good news is that one of the Southern California beaches hit hardest by last week's toxic oil spill reopened today. The bad news comprises the rest of today's BradCast.

The beach at the SoCal town known as Huntington Beach --- in the heart of "Surf City USA" --- was reopened on Monday, after last week's oil spill of anywhere from 25,000 to 144,000 gallons of crude. It leaked from a fractured, 17.5 mile pipeline terminating in Long Beach from a complex of platforms about 5 miles offshore in federal waters. It took anywhere from 10 hours to several days --- we still don't know --- to shut the pipeline down after it cracked, perhaps due to being dragged by a ship anchor along the ocean floor.

But, by the weekend, earlier than expected, there were no longer toxins associated with petroleum at detectable levels in the water off of Huntington Beach, according to officials, even as crews continued to remove tarballs from the sand onshore. That beach, at least for now, has been reopened. Neighboring beaches remain closed to the south, including those at Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. The Orange County Oil Spill was just the latest in a long series of disastrous oil spills that have fowled the CA coastline going back decades, and it has renewed calls to ban offshore drilling in the state.

We're joined today by REP. ALAN LOWENTHAL (D-CA), a member of the House Progressive Caucus whose 47th Congressional District includes Long Beach in Orange County and parts of western L.A. County. Last week, appearing at a news conference with Gov. Gavin Newsom in Huntington Beach just after the spill, Lowenthal called for "a plan to not only stop new drilling, but to figure out how do we stop all drilling that's going on in California." The Congressman joins us today to discuss just that. Long story short, but none of it is easy and for many reasons.

"In California, there have not been any new offshore pipelines in forty years, so there is no new technology. It's all old technology, it's all corroding, it's all waiting for the next disaster to occur," he tells me, before we dive into the murky waters of what would be required to end both leasing and drilling permits at the federal level --- in federal waters, 3 or more miles offshore --- as well as in California waters. Here, the Governor argued last week, it's easy to block new leases (the state hasn't issued any in decades), but shutting down existing platforms and pipelines, and replacing those jobs, is far more difficult.

Lowenthal, who has served in the House since 2013, after many years as a CA Assemblyman and then Senator, is calling for a Congressional probe into the OC Spill and fighting to keep language banning new offshore federal drilling leases in the Democrats' Build Back Better Act. But those provisions could be targeted by West Virginia's fossil fuel friendly Senator Joe Manchin, as Democrats battle with Manchin and Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema to pass Biden's agenda into law. In a best case scenario, the BBB Act would only ban new drilling leases off shore, while permitting existing leases to be developed. Back in the state, on the other hand, a bit more can and should be done, he argues. As we discuss, even the progressive Newsom Administration's oil and gas regulators have approved thousands of new drilling permits on existing leases since the Governor took office in 2019.

"There are two things that California can do," says Lowenthal. "One is to stop the pipelines that come from the federal waters. And the second is not to provide permitting. It's one thing when you say 'no new leases,' but once you already have an existing lease that's developing, there are permits to change the flow, to change the direction and California doesn't have to issue those permits. They can stop it."

There was much more from the Congressman, both enlightening and frustrating at various times. I'll urge you to tune in for the full discussion.

Then, we've been discussing on several recent shows how the media are failing to adequately sound the alarm bells about the terrifying and dangerous rise of rightwing authoritarianism in the U.S., as Trump threatens to run again in 2024 after blatantly trying, but failing, to steal the 2020 election. This time, according to a lengthy and very disturbing monologue from Bill Maher this weekend, he is laying the groundwork to avoid the mistakes he made last time. "He's like a shark that's not gone. Just gone out to sea," Maher warns of the "slow moving coup", before explaining why "we're gonna need a bigger boat," as the GOP is now playing along with his long con. That, as the media begin to repeat many of the very same mistakes they made before his 2016 election.

How can we, in the media, avoid those mistakes and do a better job of informing the nation about the unprecedented assault on democracy itself that we all now face? I really don't know. But we discuss that and open up the phone lines to listeners at the end of today's show to at least begin that critical, much-needed conversation...

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Guest: Media analyst Eric Boehlert; Also: Biden restores sacred lands to national monuments; House reveals Trump concealed losses, foreign money, 'preferential treatment' on loans at his failing D.C. hotel...
By Brad Friedman on 10/8/2021 6:17pm PT  

After five years of underestimating Donald Trump, and nearly a full year since he tried to steal the 2020 election, you'd think the media would "get it" by now. But, according to our guest on today's BradCast, the national press is still under-appreciating and under-reporting the very real threat that Trump and his far-right radicalized Republican Party now represent to democracy itself. And maybe that's on purpose. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

But first up, some brighter news. President Biden has now reversed Trump's unprecedented (and likely unlawful) rollback of protected public lands established by his predecessors in three different national monuments. On Friday, Biden restored environmental protections for millions of acres of pristine expanses and sacred tribal lands at Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah, and the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts marine monument off the coast of New England. Deb Haaland, the nation's first native American Interior Secretary, was justifiably emotional about today's return of protection from mining, drilling and other development for millions of acres of sacred lands and architectural treasures. Biden's rollback of Trump's order, however, left in place a small parcel of acreage newly established as protected public lands by the former President at Bears Ears. So that national monument is now even larger than it was before Trump attempted to sell it off to his investors. Add it to the long list of losses for our loser former President.

And here's another. New documents released by the U.S. House Committee on Oversight on Friday reveal that Trump's company concealed losses of more than $70 million on his D.C. hotel during his four years in office, even while a major part of the business at the Trump International Hotel at the old D.C. post office building came from foreign governments, as well as lobbyists and businesses hoping to curry favor with the disgraced President.  All of that, as Trump attempted to portray the project publicly as a stunning success while the Trump Organization had to quietly pump in more than $24 million dollars to it to cover losses, and as Deutsche Bank, according to the Democratic Committee co-chairs, offered "undisclosed preferential treatment" on a $170 million loan for the project that had been personally guaranteed by Trump. The Trump Organization is now desperate to find a buy to unload the loser project, but there are reportedly few takers as the current, inflated asking price.

While the media failed to adequately sound the alarm about a Trump property just blocks from the White House used as a deposit box for unconstitutional payments to the President from foreign governments, businesses, lobbyists and party faithful during his tenure in the White House, are they doing any better in raising what should be an even louder alarm following the past year of Trump attempting to steal a second term while directing supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol itself to block the Constitutional transfer of power on January 6th?

Our guest today, longtime media analyst ERIC BOEHLERT argues the mainstream corporate media appear to have learned next to nothing. More insidiously, he suggests, they are even "purposely" ignoring what he describes in a PressRun newsletter this week as "the clarion calls of democratic doom." That, despite alarm bells and clear signs that American democracy is facing an unprecedented internal threat from the rise of rightwing authoritarianism. "America isn’t guaranteed a happy ending," he writes, "although most of us grew up with the shared assumption that it was."

"There's a failure of imagination, but I feel like it's a purposeful failure of imagination," among the press, he tells us today, citing what he sees as the media's vested interest in the return of Trump as a candidate and even as President in a second term.  "After the election, long before the insurrection, Trump was doing everything in his power, as we now know more and more" to try and overturn --- yes, to steal --- Joe Biden's election victory. "But in November and December of 2020, Politico called it 'bad sportsmanship.'  There was lots of media coverage on he was 'sulking' in the White House. Basically the media's narrative was 'Just give him some time. He's mad. He's upset he lost. No big deal. He's not going to try to steal the election. The Republican Party would never do that,' etc. And we know how that unfolded."

But, nearly one year and an attempted U.S. Capitol insurrection later, the "purposeful failure of imagination" by the press still persists, he charges. Given all of the many signs of increasing political violence and radicalism from the Right and the Republican Party itself, how should the press be appropriately covering and warning about what appears to be going on in and our nation? How could they --- and we --- be doing a better job of adequately sounding the "fire alarm"?

Boehlert explains, and cites by way of one critical example, the media's fear of "taking sides", even when the two sides are no longer Democratic v. Republican parties, but democracy v. authoritarianism.  "'We can't take sides! If the Republican Party is anti-democracy, we can't be PRO-democracy, because that looks like we're opposing them! So we're just going to recede into the sidelines, and we'll give you updates every time they try to demolish our democracy.'"

"It's just this passive frog in the boiling water, the lack of clarity about authoritarianism in this country. This idea that it can't happen here, we are immune to this, we are immune to fascism, we are immune to authoritarianism. Oh sure, in the last ten years, it's happened in Hungary, it's happened in Poland, it's happened in Turkey. Those aren't us," he snarks. "We've been doing this for 270 years. No matter what Trump and the Republican Party hatch, this country is indestructible, this democracy is indestructible --- which is a complete fantasy."

Tune in for much more.

Finally, after starting off today with some good news for native Americans, we end with a bit more, as the Biden White House becomes the first to officially commemorate Indigenous Peoples' Day this coming Monday, on what is still officially known, barring an act of Congress, as Columbus Day...

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Guest: Congressional historian and author Norman Ornstein of AEI on why he believes Dems will both reform the filibuster and pass a transformative Build Back Better budget reconciliation package...
By Brad Friedman on 9/22/2021 6:23pm PT  

On today's BradCast: What we are witnessing right now in Washington D.C. is not just an exercise in how the sausage gets made...or doesn't. While it is that, it is also an extraordinarily perilous moment for the survival of the republic, as Democrats try to step up, in order to face down an insurrectionist GOP seemingly hell bent on taking the nation and the world down with them. Fortunately, our guest today --- who knows this landscape as well as anyone in the nation --- seems optimistic, despite the fraught dangers that lie ahead. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

The nightmare moment for Joe Biden, the Democrats and the nation, includes a Congressional Republican Party willing to default on the, until now, iron-clad good faith and credit of the U.S. economy, by refusing to vote to raise the ridiculous "debt ceiling" in order to borrow the money needed to pay for all the stuff that we (including Republicans!) have already committed to paying for, including trillions spent or given away during the Trump years.

It also includes several mighty internecine battles inside the Congressional Democratic caucus itself, as the so-called "moderate" and progressive wings of the big tent party attempt to navigate through landmines over the next several days and weeks to come to an agreement on Joe Biden's proposed $3.5 trillion Build Back Better social safety net programs (which, in addition to the expansion of health and child care, also includes a laundry list of long-overdue programs, such as our first major attempt to take on our climate emergency) and the critical Freedom to Vote Act, a sweeping election reform package to try and counter the massive voter suppression and election subversion efforts being adopted by GOP-controlled states in advance of 2022.

To pass the latter, Democrats will almost certainly need to reform the filibuster in some way, to allow passage with a simple majority of Senators. Sadly, there do not appear to be any Republicans left in Congress who are willing to support the right to vote and fair elections. These problems seem insurmountable for the moment, even as we've been fairly bullish on the Dems' ultimate ability to overcome the many hurdles they currently face.

Similarly bullish, it seems, is NORMAN ORNSTEIN [pictured above], longtime Congressional historian and political science PhD, who has spent the bulk of the last four decades studying politics, elections, and the US Congress at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, where he is now a senior fellow emeritus. He is also a contributing editor and columnist for The Atlantic and author of a host of books, including his latest, One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported, with E. J. Dionne and Thomas E. Mann.

Last week, Ornstein and Norman Eisen, of the left-leaning Brookings Institution, published a Washington Post op-ed headlined "Seven reasons to think Senate Democrats will actually change the filibuster". It's based on a paper they published at the same time at Brookings, along with Mel Barnes and Jeffrey A. Mandell, titled "Filibuster reform is coming --- here's how".

Both pieces are surprisingly optimistic when it comes to what will have to happen --- and how West Virginia's Joe Manchin and Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema will have to play along --- in order to reform the filibuster to adopt the Freedom to Vote Act, before that freedom is all but foreclosed by GOP voter suppression and election subversion in next year's mid-terms and 2024's Presidential race.

"We're seeing more and more intense understanding on the part of Democrats in the Senate that the road to accomplishing significant goals, in a time frame that's short for Democrats, has to require some change in their rules," Ornstein tells me, explaining why he believes that even Manchin and Sinema will come around to understanding the existential necessity of countering "the over-the-top actions by --- it's not a party anymore --- the Republican cult, to try not just to obstruct votes and to suppress votes, but to intimidate election workers and overturn legitimate results."

He walks us through why he believes that both of those two currently obstructionist Democratic Senators will come around in the end, on both filibuster reform and the Dems' budget reconciliation bill, which can be adopted with a simple majority vote. "Joe Manchin, throughout his career, has been a transactional politician. You could do a bill that's, say, $2.2 or $2.5 trillion, that actually preserves all of your core priorities" by simply trimming the number of years those proposals will be in effect. And, he argues, it can be done "if not being revenue neutral," then in a way that "is a pretty trivial amount as a share of our Gross Domestic Product."

In the end, he believes Manchin will come along, and Sinema along with him. "I think it's dicey, but I also think it's doable," Ornstein argues.

Among other key points of our conversation today, we discuss how Nancy Pelosi can hold the vote on the smaller, bipartisan, $1.5 trillion infrastructure package that Democratic House "moderates" are demanding next week, but not send the bill to the President's desk until the larger reconciliation package supported by progressives is adopted in both chambers; and how (and if) Democrats will be able to overcome objections by the Senate Parliamentarian to include things like immigration reform in a budget reconciliation package, "awkwardly thrown in". All necessary, says Ornstein, "because of the goddamn filibuster! Because there's no other way to get it done with 50 votes. So you create this ungainly hodgepodge of things as a way to try to circumvent the rules, and the better way to deal with it is to change the damn rules!"

If these things don't happen, he warns, if Democrats fail to successfully navigate the many minefields to adopt both election reform and Biden's Build Back Better Agenda, we are in "deep, deep, deep trouble," he says. "I think we're done for, frankly, if they can't do both of these things."

Of course, in the next few days, we'll also have to somehow get over the debt ceiling cliff that Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are threatening to push the nation over. On that, Ornstein is less sanguine. "I'm actually more concerned about that, because we have a group of Republicans like [Governors] Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott, Kristi Noem and Tate Reeves, and so many others who are willing to let hundreds of thousands of people die [from COVID] for their own political purposes. Can I believe that Mitch McConnell and his colleagues would let the nation go into default and cause the economy to go into huge upheaval? Sadly, yes."

There is also at least one extra treat in my interview with Ornstein today, however, for those who may remember the hilarious and shockingly prescient 1998 satirical novel by Al Franken, written prior to his career as a U.S. Senator, entitled Why Not Me?: The Inside Story of the Making and Unmaking of the Franken Presidency. Ornstein actually "co-stars" in the book as Franken's unlikely Campaign Manager before becoming his Presidential Chief of Staff. I'll not give any more of the book away, since I suspect it's still an hilarious read. But today, Ornstein shares the backstory of how that book came about, and how much more prescient it actually turned out to be than even I remembered!...

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Guest: Kevin Drum of Mother Jones; Also: U.N. warns current pledges to cut emissions not enough to avoid catastrophic warming; Wildfires now threaten world's largest, 3,000 year old trees at Sequoia National Park...
By Brad Friedman on 9/17/2021 6:27pm PT  

As we discuss on today's BradCast, our current days of political rage and divisiveness, now a very clear and present danger to the survival of American democracy itself, didn't come nowhere. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, first today, before we get to our burning country, a few news items on our burning globe. The U.N. warned on Friday that current pledges from the nations of the world to cut emissions will not be enough to stave off cataclysmic global warming by century's end. In California, meanwhile, we're seeing disaster play out already. The majestic, 3,000 year old giant trees of Sequoia National Park may not even make it through the weekend. The world's largest tree, a tourist favorite at the park known as General Sherman, and others like it are now literally being wrapped in tinfoil-like blankets as wildfires rage just about one mile from the historic and beloved grove as of airtime.

Of course, if we can't even get our own country to come together to fight against the clear and present existential threat of climate change, one wonders how hundreds of nations will be able to do so to save the planet. On the other hand, worsening political divisiveness --- and insanity --- in this country plays no small role in our failure to lead the world in that fight for humanity itself.

But how did the U.S. arrive at this harrowing political moment? One where more Republicans (75%) than Democrats (46%) believe democracy itself is under attack? Given that Republicans literally attacked the U.S. Capitol, the seat of American democracy, in a violent effort to prevent Congress from carrying out its most solemn, democratic Constitutional duty of certifying a Presidential election just months ago, there is no small irony in the new polling finding that it's those on the Right, even more than the Left, who have somehow been made to believe democracy is under attack.

Where would they get such a seemingly upside-down notion? "With every passing day, it looks less like we have one nation divided by differing political beliefs and more like we have two warring countries battling each other within shared borders," writes author David Rothkopf today in a lengthy, intriguing (and maddening) Twitter thread. "One side represents and seeks to preserve the United States. The other seeks to destroy it."

A fascinating, exhaustive, 6,000-word investigative essay published in this month's Mother Jones magazine on "The Real Source of America's Rising Rage", written by our guest today, longtime blogger KEVIN DRUM of Jabberwocking.com, looks at what the data reveal about the madness of this political moment and how and why we arrived at it.

"I started looking at when did this start? Because that's critical," Drum tells me on today's show. "When did people really start getting so angry? On a whole range of topics, the year 2000 --- give or take a few years --- kept coming up, over and over and over. And the most important way it came up, I thought, was if you take a look at trust in government. We all know that that's been going down --- people trust government less. But if you look at the data, it was pretty flat from about 1980 or so to 2000. And then, starting around 2000 or so, it started going down, down, down to only 20% who now say they have any trust in government, and it stayed there."

"What happened around the year 2000 that could have caused this?," he wondered, as he read through study after study. What happened since that time to cause such a sea change among Americans? Was it the rise and spread of conspiracy theories? Has social media or talk radio sent us over the edge? Or have things really gotten worse in America on the many grievances those on the Right often cite, such as crime, taxes, the economy, inequality, immigration or race?

After spending several years combing through data and theories, Drum finds, while some of those things certainly play a role, none of them are actually the poison that that has brought the nation to the seeming brink of political collapse. He explains how both data and history prove it, and how the real answer has been lying in plain sight for the past twenty years. It's the Fox 'News', stupid!

And, by the way, if Fox is the problem, what might be the solution? We discuss that a bit on today's enlightening program as well...

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