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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, November 29, 2022
'Green News Report' 11/29/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
While we were out... Breakthrough at U.N. climate conference; Americans at risk of power blackouts; Buffalo, NY buried by blizzard; PLUS: Houston, TX under boil water notice...
Recent GNRs: 11/17/22 - 11/15/22 - Archives...
We're Back! But Election and Accountability Season Never Left: 'BradCast' 11/28/22
Pillow Guy is running!; Special Counsel wasting no time; Trumpers failed in AK too; Lake still pretending in AZ; Callers have a few thoughts...
Sunday 'Once More Unto the Breach' Toons
And here we go again...into PDiddie's latest post-Turkey toon collection...
Turkey Toons
Gobble gobble! Our thanks to the one and only Pdiddie for a special holiday collection of toons to help you burn off a few calories!...
Debating the Merits of Garland's New Special Counsel: 'BradCast' 11/21/22
Guests: Former DoJ prosecutor Randall D. Eliason of GWU, Const'l law expert John Bonifaz of FSFP; Also: Does the Constitution disqualify insurrectionist Trump from 2024?...
Sunday 'Ready or Not' Toons
PDiddie's latest collection of the past week's most gut-busting political toons...
Now Back to the Quest for Trump Accountability, Still in Progress: 'BradCast' 11/17/22
Guest: Allison Gill of 'Mueller, She Wrote'; Also: Pelosi leaves Dem leadership; GOP secures House majority; Bass wins L.A. Mayor...
'Green News Report' 11/17/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Crunch time for COP27 climate agreement; NASA says sea levels to rise a foot by 2050; Trump's 2024 announcement climate lies; PLUS: Climate disinfo surging again...
Recent GNRs: 11/15/22 - 11/10/22 - Archives...
2022 GOP Political Fallout, Blame, Circus Begins: 'BradCast' 11/16/22
Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Trump's running again; House, Senate GOP leadership chaos; MS moves to hand-marked paper ballots...
'Green News Report' 11/15/22
Biden pledges leadership, funding at U.N. climate summit; U.S. and China resume climate talks; Costly Nicole; PLUS: Dems Sen. majority to hold line on climate policy...
Sunday 'Red Wave' Toons
Surf the wave! It's Pdiddie's first post-midterms collection of the week's best political toons!...
The Guy Whose Data Analysis Was Right on the Election on Why Media Got It So Wrong (Again): 'BradCast' 11/11/22
Guest: TargetSmart's Tom Bonier; 'Red wave' buffoonery; Latest results from AZ, NV...
It's the Gerrymandering (and Corrupted Courts), Stupid: 'BradCast' 11/10/22
Guest: Redistricting expert, author David Daley; Also: How Fox 'News' dupes followers via smartphone; Latest Sen, House, Guv results...
'Green News Report' 11/10/22
Failed 'red wave' is good news for the climate; New reports warn of skyrocketing methane levels; PLUS: Mixed results for state environmental ballot propositions...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: Former Asst. U.S. Attorney Randall D. Eliason; Also: Climate disaster in Rio; Retail sales boom under Biden; I.G. finds Trump Interior Sec. 'misused public office for private gain'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/16/2022 6:05pm PT  

The clean up on aisle 45 seems to never end on The BradCast. But a whole bunch of experts (including our guest today) suggests our disgraced former President is inching ever closer to some very bad news --- at least in New York. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

First up, some other news not getting enough coverage today...

  • Our climate emergency continues to worsen, as 10 inches of rain fell in three hours in a mountainous tourist area near Rio in Brazil on Tuesday. As of airtime at least 58 were confirmed killed by the downpour and the deadly mudslides it triggered. That comes on the heels of at least 40 killed in similar storms in Brazil last month, as the nation's President, Jair Bolsonaro, has allowed for the acceleration of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, contributing to our worsening climate crisis and resulting in these deadly, extreme weather disasters.
  • The Biden economic boom continues, despite corporate media's continuing obsession with inflation. On Wednesday, the Commerce Department reported consumer spending surged in January, and at much higher numbers than can be attributed to inflation. Retail sales nearly doubled what Dow Jones had previously estimated would be seen in January. A separate report today also found that industrial production spiked three times higher than estimates for last month.
  • Donald Trump's disgraced Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, "misused his public office for private gain" and lied about it to government ethics officials, according to a report [PDF] released Wednesday by the Department's Inspector General. Despite vowing, upon his confirmation as Trump's Interior chief in 2017, to disassociate with a foundation he worked with and a related commercial venture while serving as Secretary, Zinke was found to have communicated with the group dozens of times via email and text; had private meetings with them in D.C.; and played an "extensive, direct, and substantive role" in a commercial development project that would also benefit a private commercial project of his own in Montana. The I.G. reportedly referred the matter to Biden's Dept. of Justice, which --- for reasons unknown --- declined to bring criminal charges against Trump's disgraced former Interior chief. And, because no accountability was ever brought over this matter --- or a host of other personal Zinke scandals revealed while he served under Trump --- the wildly corrupt Zinke is now running again for high office in Montana, hoping to win back his old U.S. House seat this year.

Then, it's on to our guest today, for insight on a number of related matters.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that Trump's longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, informed him and his family business last week that they would no longer be doing business with them. Moreover, they informed Trump that nearly 10 years of annual financial statements they'd prepared for him and the Trump Organization should no longer be relied upon to be accurate in any way, as it was based on faulty information supplied by Trump.

The company informed Trump that Statements of Financial Condition created from 2011 to 2020 were being retracted and that, due to a "conflict of interest", they would no longer be working for his company. The news came via a court filing on Monday by New York state Attorney General Letitia James in response to the attempt by Trump and his children to avoid depositions in James' civil investigation into alleged bank, tax and insurance fraud by all of them. The Manhattan D.A. is also running a concurrent criminal probe into many of the same matters.

Since that news became public this week, a number of legal experts have explained that Mazars' "conflict of interest" almost certainly means the firm is now cooperating with New York prosecutors against Trump and his businesses. Longtime Trump investigative reporter David Cay Johnston told CNN on Tuesday that he believes Trump and his company and maybe even his kids, will, in fact, be indicted on racketeering charges in the state.

We're joined today by former Asst. U.S. Attorney RANDALL D. ELIASON, who spent years as Chief of the DoJ's Public Corruption/Government Fraud section in D.C. He's now a law professor at George Washington University Law School where he is an expert in white collar criminal law. Eliason offers helpful insight into Trump's increasingly serious New York troubles and discusses his recent opinion piece at Washington Post calling on Attorney General Merrick Garland to explain himself in regard to the DoJ's probe (or lack thereof) into the 10 or more obstruction of justice allegations detailed by Robert Mueller in the report on his Special Counsel investigation.

On the New York matter(s), Eliason cites a recent comment he'd heard that Mazars' dumping of Trump suggests "the ship is leaving the rats." He charges that the financial firm is clearly "trying to distance themselves, and that suggests they see something bad coming down the road for their client." He concurs that "the most likely explanation for what's going on is that Mazars is now cooperating, either in the criminal case or the civil case, or both, and potentially testifying against Trump and the Trump Organization. That definitely creates a conflict of interest, to where they'd say, 'Well, I can't be your accountant anymore because now I'm actually a witness against you.'"

Eliason also offers a very helpful explanation of what racketeering charges actually are, and how, if Johnston is right, that might play into the New York state prosecutions and even the investigation by Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis into Trump's conspiracy to steal the 2020 election in the Peach State. Eliason further helps us understand how both the NY state Attorney General and Manhattan D.A. could both ultimately bring charges for the same set of fraud crimes, but as a civil matter (resulting in fines and other such penalties) by the A.G. and as a criminal indictment (potentially resulting in prison time) by the D.A.

As to the curious case of Merrick Garland, as Eliason highlighted in his recent Post op-ed, he does not count himself among those who think that Biden's Attorney General is necessarily dropping the ball. But he does believe an explanation is warranted to the American people regarding any potential investigations of Trump on the many cases of obstruction painstakingly spelled out in Mueller's Special Counsel report on Russian interference in 2016 and Trump's related firing of FBI Director James Comey.

On Monday, the statute of limitations into the oldest such obstruction allegation cited by Mueller has now run out. (That, as Eliason detailed at the Post, was "Trump’s alleged request to then-FBI Director James B. Comey to drop the criminal investigation of disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Other acts of possible obstruction soon will be similarly time-barred.")

"This clock is ticking away," Eliason tells me today. "Given the size of the investigation, the seriousness of the investigation, the detail in that report, even though DoJ doesn't normally comment on cases that it's not going to bring, or that it's not prosecuting, in this case they should. They should tell us something about what's happened with that Mueller Report now that we have an administration in office that is not filled with Trump appointees."

Eliason spells out why he believes that, while the DoJ doesn't usually comment on such cases, "this is a unique case" where "a lot of people are really convinced that the evidence of obstruction was pretty overwhelming" and that "it's bad for the Department and bad for the country if that just is allowed to fade into the distance and nobody ever says, 'Hey, we did take a look at this, and here's what we decided.'"

In fact, Eliason believes there is evidence to suggest that Garland is carefully looking at Trump's potential criminal exposure in regard to the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, but is less certain about his handling of the Mueller allegations and thinks "there should be some closure on that.".

All of this, of course, as the clock may also be ticking toward an announcement by Trump that he plans to run for President again in 2024. How would that affect any potential federal indictments against the twice-impeached former President? We discuss that matter --- "practically speaking, that gets really hairy --- as well.

Finally, in our closing few minutes, a few more thoughts on Trump's worsening New York woes from someone else with a unique perspective. George Conway, the longtime Republican attorney and husband of Trump's former Campaign Manager and White House aide Kellyanne Conway, tells CNN why he believes the Mazars news to be far worse for Trump than his two impeachments as President...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: The American Prospect's David Dayen on the magazine's ambitious Special Issue: Also: Gun-maker settles with Sandy Hook families; Prince Andrew settles sex-abuse case; Palin loses (again); Putin blinks?...
By Brad Friedman on 2/15/2022 6:05pm PT  

Today on The BradCast, we tackle another small, totally easy to solve issue: Untangling the worldwide supply chain debacle. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, before that, at least a few stories seem to be resolving themselves today...

  • Nine families of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre settled their lawsuit with Remington, the manufacturer and marketer of the semi-automatic rifle used to kill their family members, for $73 million. The deal is noteworthy because federal law bans such suits against the gun industry, but Connecticut law does not. In this case, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Remington's attempt to block the suit based on the protections in federal law.
  • Prince Andrew settled a lawsuit filed against him by a woman who says she was 17-years old when she was sexually abused by Andrew, as coerced by the late financier and child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. The settlement includes an undisclosed donation to the charity of the victim, Virginia Giuffre, and an acknowledgement by Andrew that she has suffered abuse as a victim It is unknown if Giuffre will personally receive any money as part of the agreement.
  • Both a jury and a judge helped settle former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's defamation lawsuit against the New York Times by rejecting it in no uncertain terms. On Tuesday, the jury in the civil trial brought by Palin found the Times' editorial board not guilty of libeling the former GOP Vice Presidential nominee. The paper had erroneously cited a "clear link" between a map published by a Palin campaign websites featuring a gun site on certain Congressional districts --- including then Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords' --- and the 2013 mass shooting in Tuscon that killed six people and critically injured the Congresswoman. The jury's rejection of Palin's suit came the day after the judge, as the jury was still deliberating, declared that he planned to dismiss the case anyway after finding that Palin failed to prove the paper acted maliciously against her. For its part, the Times described the verdict as "reaffirmation of a fundamental tenet of American law: public figures should not be permitted to use libel suits to punish or intimidate news organizations that make, acknowledge and swiftly correct unintentional errors."
  • And, in the weeks-long Russian/Ukraine military stand-off, there was a long-awaited easing of tensions as President Putin announced that Russia was ready for talks with the U.S. and NATO on a number of issues and that some Russian forces on the border with Ukraine would be withdrawing. President Biden, however, in remarks this afternoon at the White House, said the U.S. had "not yet verified" any troop withdraws and that a Russian invasion of Ukraine remained a possibility. The White House noted, however, that the U.S. remains opens to high-level diplomacy in hopes of avoiding military conflict in Europe.

On that news, Wall Street rallied after weeks of saber-rattling had weighed down the market and helped send oil and gas prices through the roof, serving as another reminder today of just one more way that our vulnerable supply chain can wreak havoc on an otherwise booming economy.

As it turns out, The American Prospect recently devoted an entire Special Issue for February to a very related topic: "The Supply Chain Debacle: How bad policy—outsourcing, financialization, monopolization, deregulation, and just-in-time logistics—broke our supply chains, raised costs and caused shortages."

We're joined today by The Prospect's Executive Editor and author David Dayen to help us untangle the mess that has been made over the past 40 or 50 years, under both political parties in this rare case, of a supply chain that has exposed its vulnerabilities with the onset of the COVID pandemic two years ago. But since then, it has continued to reveal its ill-designed brittleness and the very serious threat it poses to America's economic security.

Dayen walks us through how his Special Issue delves into the broad failures of the supply chain, largely put in place over the years by the Wall Street "free market" to maximize corporate profit at the expense of American jobs and national security...in exchange for cheap prices on goods! As Dayen details, the problems here are not one single failure across the chain, but as he breaks down, "multiple 'single points of failure'" across industry after industry all along the broken chain.

"We designed a system over the course of decades --- both parties --- that had lean inventories, that relied on offshore production, that relied on this concept of globalization," he explains. "That allowed the production facilities to become very concentrated. That allowed the spokes within the system to become concentrated. That deregulated everything to try to lower prices on shipping and transportation. And that allowed Wall Street to take the primary role in governing these efforts --- in other words, telling corporations 'Yes, you have to move your production offshore for cheap labor', and 'We have to deregulate these industries so that costs stay low,' and 'You have to have just-in-time production so that you don't have any inventory sitting around just wasting money, and we're spending too much money on warehouses.'"

With this precarious, profit-driven system in place, Dayen steps through The Prospect's full team coverage of how a virus breaking out in a manufacturing hub in China can shut down the entire system. Any sudden increase in a demand for goods --- say, during a pandemic --- ends up tying the giant, oligopolized over-seas container shipping system into knots and stranding massive cargo ships at sea while there is no room left for off-loading at U.S. ports. Once finally off-loaded, sometimes after months waiting in line off-shore, a U.S. rail system run by just a couple of companies and a trucking system that doesn't pay workers nearly enough for their efforts further bottlenecks the process. Then there's the vast lack of warehouse space for all those goods if they can ever get to where they need to be. All the while, these disruptions and failures work to the benefit of the largest distributors --- like Amazon and Walmart --- while cutting the knees out from under independent retailers and raising prices for everyone. So much for those low prices that consumers, at least, were supposed to get out of the deal.

But, as Dayen also explains, it doesn't take a pandemic. A cross-border bridge protest in Canada, saber-rattling in Eastern Europe or the Middle East and, perhaps even more crippling to the supply chain over the past year than anything else, climate change related disasters which promise to only get much more frequent and severe in the years ahead.

"The problem is the supply chain is run on these knife-edge principles that make it impossible for it to adjust to a shift up in demand. That is the entire problem," he argues. "So people who go on and say, 'No, this isn't a problem, it's just this shift. Everything will be fine.' They're missing the point. The point is that this lack of adjustment reflects problems with how the system is engineered."

And, yes, Dayen has advice on how to re-engineer the entire system. The good news, he also explains, is that both corporations and members of Congress --- from BOTH parties --- seem to finally be getting it. They are looking at and passing bills that encourage (and spend money on) the regionalization and onshoring of manufacturing back here in the U.S., and the Biden administration is investing heavily --- when Congress allows them --- into a number of long-overdue fixes.

It may all sound dry on paper, but it's actually a fascinating and very lively conversation on today's program that I hope you'll tune in for.

Finally --- and including a few related points --- Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, on the crippling Western U.S. megadrought; the Biden Administration's roll-out of a national EV charging network; the spike in oil prices amid tensions in Russia-Ukraine; and the Super Bowl blitz by U.S. carmakers launching long overdue electric vehicle production lines...

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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Since nobody seems to know much about either, we open the phone lines to listeners to see what we can learn...
By Brad Friedman on 2/14/2022 6:05pm PT  

There are two stories, one major, the other one only "major" thanks to rightwing media fueling it, that I've wanted to cover more on The BradCast of late, but haven't. Why? Because, in both cases, both stories make little sense to me and the so-called "experts" or pundits out there seem to be ideological, for or against, in one way or another that fails to offer much clarity or insight to either story. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

So, I figure, if the so-called pundits and experts don't know much and are doing little more than offering their opinions and best-guesses, our callers couldn't do much worse, right? Fact-check: True! Callers came through today with shining colors!

The first story is the dumb Canadian trucker protests over vaccine mandates. As you know, they are attempting to shut down U.S.-Canadian trade across transcontinental bridges in hopes of forcing the government to meet their demands. They have been succeeding at harming the economy in both countries, at least until this weekend when Canadian police finally cleared the crossing at the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit. That closure threatened some $360 million a day in two-way cargo across the bridge or about 25% of the U.S.-Canada goods trade, according to Reuters.

The otherwise unpopular demonstrations in Canada are being fueled with money from the U.S. and round-the-clock coverage on wingnut cable TV. And, in addition to shutting off trade (leading some automakers to have to shut down some production), the demonstrations have included Trump, Nazi and Confederate flags, as well as protesters urinating on a Canadian war memorial. At a crossing into Montana from Coutts, Alberta, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police say they arrested 11 people blockading the border after learning of a cache of guns and ammunition, including long guns, handguns, body armor, and a lot of ammo and high-capacity magazines.

Can you imagine Fox "News" supporting an actual civil rights protests in this country that included weapons, Nazi flags and urinating on war memorials? But, of course, the dumb protests in Canada have little to do with actual civil rights --- even as I strongly support the right for anybody to protest whatever they want, even dumb stuff like opposition to life-saving vaccine mandates.

The far more dangerous story, obviously, continues in Russia and Ukraine, where the former has now reportedly deployed as many as 130,000 troops on three sides of the latter and where, according to the weeks long insistence from the U.S., an invasion is now as "imminent" as this Wednesday. The U.S. --- and NATO and the EU --- have been warning of an "imminent" attack for weeks now, and one may be. But Russia continues to deny any plans for an attack on the former Soviet state and nobody seems to have any more than best guesses about what the truth is and what will actually happen next.

Perhaps a better question is why is the U.S. so loudly broadcasting what they see as Russia's "imminent" plans to invade --- now said to be as early as this Wednesday. Is it because Russia really is going to invade? Or is there another reason?

We discuss all of that and much more with some terrific callers today --- including one who says he used to work for in Russ for a vodka millionaire, and another who explains that she had been working recently on a construction project at the border crossing into British Columbia from Washington State.

Then, as usual, there are the always-fun callers who completely disagree with me on everything (particularly on life-saving COVID vaccines), and I always enjoy those calls the most! I'll hope you do too!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Adrian Martinez of EarthJustice; Also: Senators alarmed by unknown CIA data collection program; Musk readies his 'Starship'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/11/2022 6:07pm PT  

No. The BradCast is not letting this one go. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

As we discussed in some detail last week, the U.S. Postal Service, under the corrupt direction of Donald Trump's still-in-his-post-for-some-reason Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, is about to spend more than $11 billion to replace the Service's mail delivery truck fleet. Based on an absurdly (and, as our guest today argues, purposely) flawed economic and environmental study, the USPS will be purchasing 165,000 new delivery trucks with just 10% of them being fully electric. The rest will burn at least 110,000 gallons of fuel each year (and likely much more), getting just over a ridiculous 8 miles per gallon --- or as much as 14 when the AC is turned off!

That means, as our guest recently wrote, the new trucks, comprising about 30% of the federal government's automotive fleet, will burn through "a jaw-dropping 2 to 4 billion gallons of fuel" over their expected 20-year lifetime. All of this in the middle of a dangerously worsening climate crisis for the planet and as President Biden is vowing to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade.

Last week, the EPA and White House Council on Environmental Quality wrote a letter to the USPS, objecting to the plan and essentially begging the quasi-independent Executive Branch agency to review their flawed environmental analysis to consider electrifying the entire fleet instead.

DeJoy, meanwhile, is claiming they can't afford to do that, despite being flush with more than $20 billion in pandemic cash from the federal government. And the Postal Service PR team is busy greenwashing all of this as "real sustainability" for "a cleaner world", as their website explains how they are "updating our fleet with fuel-efficient vehicles to help do our part." How do they make such an absurd claim? Well, the new fleet, as it turns out, will be 0.4 miles per gallon more efficient than the existing fleet that's been in use since the 1980s!

As if all of this isn't obscene enough, earlier this week, VICE's Aaron Gordon reported that the newly designed gasoline-powered trucks, estimated to clock in at 8,501 pounds with mail on board --- "almost double the weight of the current USPS delivery vehicle" --- means they will avoid the EPA's new fuel efficiency standards for "light duty" trucks, which are limited to, as luck would have it, 8,500 pounds! If they were just .01 pound lighter, he reports, they would likely be illegal.

Yes. It is all as outrageous --- and insane --- and corrupt --- as it sounds.

We're joined today by ADRIAN MARTINEZ, Senior Attorney for EarthJustice, a non-profit environmental law group where he works on clean air, clean energy, and other environmental justice issues. Martinez details more evidence of how the USPS environmental study appears to have been purposely "flawed, and took every effort to make internal combustion gas-guzzling trucks look good and electric vehicles look bad," to justify buying nearly 165,000 polluting vehicles at this critical moment.

"The environmental analysis assumes that gas will be $2.50 a gallon in 2040," he explains. "You can barely find a place in the country where it is $2.50 a gallon now! But they assume gas prices will remain low. And so what that does is it makes their calculations for the total cost of ownership of a gas-guzzling truck look better than it should be. They did this on a range of different issues and it really resulted in an analysis that was faulty and reckless, to be completely candid."

"To call these vehicles 'fuel efficient' is laughable," Martinez tells me. "There is nothing sustainable about this decision. In fact, it's the opposite. We're in 2022, and having to have this debate is just absurd."

Of course, the Postal Service is doing its best to avoid this "debate" entirely. Both the EPA and the state of California have asked the Service to hold public hearings on the matter, before they purchase tens of thousands of new gas-powered trucks from Wisconsin-based military contractor, Oshkosh Defense (maker of heavy-duty armored vehicles.) To date, they have not agreed to public hearings or to even take public comment. Martinez says that his organization has collected more than 20,000 public comments to give to the Service, which told them over the weekend "we're not accepting comments on the environmental document at this time."

Martinez has much more today on the "brazen" responses from the USPS under DeJoy's command, which is apparently also ignoring a recent letter from 16 U.S. Senators similarly asking them to electrify the fleet. We also discuss why the hell DeJoy is still in his job at all, and what you and the rest of the public can do about all of this. (Desi also has an interesting idea along those lines as well.) If all else fails, Martinez suggests, there are legal options that his group and others are likely to take in court under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Also today, two other items of note. Only one of them is really disturbing. A newly developing story broke last night based on a (partially redacted) letter to the CIA Director and the Director of National Intelligence, from Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM), released late on Thursday night. The letter suggests there is some sort of very troubling data collection going at at the CIA. The unredacted portions cryptically describe a "secret bulk collection program" that "has been kept from the public and from Congress" and that is "entirely outside the statutory framework that Congress and the public believe govern this collection, and without any of the judicial, congressional or even executive branch oversight that comes with [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] collection."

What does that all mean? We don't yet know enough yet for certain to tell ya. But it seems worth noting, as I would expect more on this story to develop in the days ahead.

And, finally, we close with some news --- with an excellent Bowie tune to go with it --- about how we are all getting just a little bit closer to being able to escape this increasingly unlivable planet one day for good. That said, the options out there in the universe aren't yet particularly appetizing. So, it would be much better to electrify the mail delivery fleet instead!...

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Also: Cold soup, dumb members of Congress; GOP flipping Dem voter registrations to Repub in FL; Media and Merrick Garland ill-serving the American people and the rule of law...
By Brad Friedman on 2/10/2022 6:56pm PT  

A helpful reminder or two on today's BradCast. Those haunting, thundering, Third Reich-style Trump campaign rally chants of "LOCK HER UP!" back i 2016 were in response to his claims that Hillary Clinton had criminally mishandled classified information in her emails while serving as Secretary of State. Despite months of very public investigation by the Dept. of Justice at the time --- in violation of their own guidelines --- she was never charged with anything or found to have violated the law. But that's what the MAGA Mob was bellowing about way back then, just in case you may have forgotten. That's just part of, but at the heart of, what I've got a bit of a rant about on today's program. [Audio link to the full show is posted below this summary.]

Before we get there, an item or two to laugh whole-heartedly about. Consider it a cold appetizer. Super-genius Georgia GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene believes Nancy Pelosi is unleashing her "gazpacho police" on Republican members of Congress. Which, as the laughter dies down, we're reminded of the time super-genius Texas GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert accused then Attorney General Eric Holder in 2013 of "casting aspersions on [his] asparagus."

With all of the Republican food-related malapropisms aside, it's back to still more stark examples of how Republicans and Democrats are treated differently by both the corporate media and law enforcement. One swell new example comes out of Florida this week, where it appears that the state Republican Party is sending operatives door-to-door to low-income buildings and targeting senior citizens in Miami-Dade County to sign applications for new voter IDs. Even when the elderly citizens don't bite, apparently, thousands of them may be receiving new voter IDs in the mail with their party affiliation changed from Democratic (or independent) to Republican.

Haven't heard about that story? You would have --- in spades --- had the party affiliations in the story been reversed. It would have been covered virtually wall-to-wall by national media by now, and Republicans would have been demanding prosecutions and legislation in Congress to prevent this kind of outrage from happening again. But, it was Republicans doing the criming with Dems affected by it, so...ya know...

That disparity also permeates the corporate media coverage of just the latest collection of boxes of evidence of criminal felonies committed by our former President. And, by way of help for many in the corporate media, Merriam-Webster offers these two top definitions for the word "steal": "1 - to take (something that does not belong to you) in a way that is wrong or illegal. 2 - to take (something that you are not supposed to have) without asking for permission."

The word "steal" should be particularly useful this week, in their coverage of the growing mountain of evidence that demonstrates, in no uncertain terms, that Trump tried, but failed, to STEAL the 2020 Presidential election. Over and over again.

And, as we've been learning this week, he also STOLE boxes and boxes of documents --- some reportedly "clearly marked" as "classified" and "top secret" --- when he left the White House more than a year ago. The theft is in clear violation of the Watergate-era Presidential Records Act barring the destruction, alteration or theft of such documents. Incredibly, the National Archives is said to have been negotiating for "several months" to get the stolen documents and other items back, and even now, the Archives doesn't know whether they've received everything that Trump stole when he was booted from office.

Of course, we knew he repeatedly broke the Presidential Records Act long ago. But as more reporting this week confirmed, Trump frequently destroyed Presidential records by tearing them up, despite having been "counseled by at least two chiefs of staff and the White House counsel to follow the law on preserving documents."

Today's newest report along those lines is that he may even have flushed unknown numbers of "printed pages" down the toilet at the White House, offering a new light on his attempt to order the EPA to change their water regulations in late 2019 because, as he bizarrely asserted at the time: "People are flushing toilets ten times, fifteen times, instead of once." Really? Are they? Or was he?

I''ve got a quite a bit to say about all of this today, impossible to adequately detail in this summary. Suffice to say, as the media twist themselves into pretzels to both report on Trump's crimes and downplay each and every one of them in the very next sentence, the stark difference in how they cover Republicans versus Democrats has never been clearer or more appalling.

Even more appalling, the difference in the way the Dept. of Justice appears to treat Republicans versus Democrats, especially high profile ones. Especially at this precarious moment in American history.

Note to Merrick Garland. Take your pick. There are mountains of evidence that everyone in the country already knows about. But, if a blatant attempt to steal a Presidential election from the American people is just too complicated or large or somehow too political for you to prosecute, the Presidential Records Act is simple. And you've got tons of evidence for that now as well, which everybody also now knows about. Either way, Mr. Garland, it's time to lock him up.

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Guest: Executive Director Marianna Treviño-Wright; Also: Cawthorn ballot woes worsen in NC; Trumpy CO County Clerk arrested; National Archives refers Trump Presidential records theft to DoJ...
By Brad Friedman on 2/9/2022 6:40pm PT  

Three years ago this month on The BradCast, we spoke with the Executive Director of the National Butterfly Center in deep south Texas in the Rio Grande Valley as Trump's Dept. of Homeland Security was busting locks on the 100-acre wildlife sanctuary to roll in heavy construction equipment to build Trump's dopey border wall. Last week, the Center was forced to temporarily shut its doors due to worsening violent threats and menacing from Trump's MAGA mob. Last night, she met with the FBI. Today, the Center's Executive Director joins us again to discuss the increasing madness of what is going on down there now, more than a year after Trump was tossed out of office. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

BUT FIRST, a couple of amusing and/or encouraging updates to other stories we've been covering in some detail on this program.

We have new news out of North Carolina, where Republican MAGA Congressman Madison Cawthorn's eligibility to run for reelection is being challenged at the State Board of Elections by state voters working with the Constitutional law experts at the non-partisan Free Speech for People good government group. The complaint to the SBE alleges that Cawthorn, who participated in the January 6 rallies and their planning, is ineligible to run for federal office in the state, based on Section 3 of the Constitution's 14th Amendment which bars from federal office those who previously took an oath to defend the Constitution and then "engaged in insurrection or rebellion" against it. Rather than defend himself in a Board hearing, as required by state law, Cawthorn filed suit last week in federal court charging the state Board has no right to determine whether he meets eligibility requirements for the ballot. In their response to the suit this week, CNN reported last night, the Board disagrees. Their motion explains that "States have long enforced age and residency requirements, without question and with very few if any legal challenges. The State has the same authority to police which candidates should or should not be disqualified per Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment."

The case obviously has serious implications for a number of other MAGA Caucus members of Congress who participated in the January 6th insurrection and huge implications for Donald Trump's ability to be on the ballot in 2024 in the critical swing-state, if he decides to run again. We discuss that and a few more follow up details on the heels of today's update, following on our in-depth conversation last week about the original complaint with Constitutional law expert John Bonifaz, Co-Founder and President of Free Speech for People.

NEXT, following up on a story we covered in great detail last year, the disgraced and very Trumpy Mesa County, Colorado County Clerk, Tina Peters, was arrested on Tuesday. And the video of her being taken into custody by law enforcement officials is pretty hilarious. You may recall that, in 2020, in the middle of the night, Peters snuck into the secured room where voting equipment is kept in her County with an unauthorized person. They turned off the security cameras and made copies of hard drives containing the critical Election Management System (EMS) software on the county's Dominion Voting Systems machines. That proprietary software was subsequently leaked onto the Internet as Peters participated in a loony "Cybersecurity Forum" with "Stop the Steal" conspiracist and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell just days before the same critical software was to be used in several California counties during the GOP's failed attempt to recall the state's Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Peters was removed from her duties by the state's Secretary of State and is now being investigated by the state's Attorney General. But her arrest on Tuesday was reportedly related to her use of an iPad to unlawfully record a court hearing for one of her deputies who was also removed from office in relation to the software theft. And, yes, the video of Peters' arrest, as you'll hear, is kinda hilarious.

THEN, we're joined by MARIANNA TREVIÑO-WRIGHT, Executive Director of the National Butterfly Center in far south Texas, which was forced to close its doors indefinitely last week. The sad --- but, hopefully temporary --- news comes on the heels of increasingly violent threats and targeting by Trump's MAGA mobsters over the past three years. She explains how those threats have worsened during that time and in recent days, ever since the Center attempted to sue the Trump Administration in 2017 to stop construction of his border wall on and near the Center's property on the banks of the Rio Grande River in the city of Mission. (We interviewed Treviño-Wright about that on this program in February of 2019.)

The targeting that the Center has endured, as she explains today, includes "outrageous lies" beginning in the fall of 2019, when Steve Bannon and supporters of his fraudulent "We Build the Wall" project (for which he was indicted and later pardoned by Trump) claimed that the wildlife preserve and study area was actually "a cartel front and engaged in human trafficking, that we were selling women and children in to sex slavery [and] that there were dead bodies and terrorists on the property."

"They tell these lies because they work," Treviño-Wright tells me today, citing the QAnon "Pizzagate" lie that almost turned deadly and the 2019 massacre at a Walmart in El Paso, just days after a nearby "We Build the Wall" rally. Two weekends ago in Mission, there was a "We Stand America" rally featuring Trump's disgraced National Security Advisor and QAnon hero Michael Flynn, which coincided with a physical altercation at the Center with a MAGA Congressional candidate from Virginia. There were also a number of rightwing media outlets who shot videos outside the sanctuary, suggesting that the Center was a way-point for human traffickers.

After the 2019 targeting, Treviño-Wright says, "the militia arrived, and a whole bunch of angry people unleashed a torrent of hate, of threats --- by mail, by phone, email, you name it. They came here to tell us to our face what despicable human beings we were, how we should be hanged and burned and all of that."

But menacing "indirect threats" have worsened in recent days, leading to her meeting on Tuesday night with the FBI to discuss a neo-Nazi who, she explains, has "gone to federal prison three times, most recently for his role in inciting the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre," who has recently moved to Texas. "He has been posting online messages using my photo and workplace, and urging the members of his church in his holy war to find out where I live, and everything they can about my children," Treviño-Wright details. You may or may not be shocked by what she says she was told last night by the FBI.

In the meantime, she tells me that the Board of Directors at the North American Butterfly Association, which runs the Center, "is actively seeking to engage licensed security professionals to do the assessments necessary and make the recommendations for training, for physical assets that we need on the property, and maybe even for additional personnel, so that we can re-open safely." But, she laments, "armed guards at a nature center is not at all the kind of look we are going for."

Citing the Lone Star State's Republican Gov. Greg Abbott's policies allowing for indiscriminate, unlicensed open or concealed carry of firearms, Treviño-Wright describes charges it's "the wild wild West down here," though not due to "the things that Fox News and other are saying" about some sort of "crisis" at the border. "The call is coming from inside the house," she asserts. "That's where we are in the United States now. The terrorism is home-grown, and it's our own neighbors and relatives."

Treviño-Wright goes on to offer a timeline for when the Center may be able to re-open to the public; how members of the public can help in the meantime (a membership with the Center, she explains, "comes with benefits for people across the United States" and will help to continue paying employees during these weeks they are forced to remain closed); the status of the Center's ongoing lawsuit to stop the nearby construction on the river, which she says the Biden Administration is continuing under the guise of "levee repair"; and much more --- including some actual good news on butterfly survival if you can imagine such a thing!

She is a fantastic guest and, frankly, a great American. Please tune in for our conversation today.

FINALLY, we close with late breaking word from WaPo that the National Archives has reportedly asked the Dept. of Justice to investigate whether Trump's mishandling of Presidential records --- including absconding to Mar-a-Lago with some 15 boxes of them --- is a criminal violation of the Presidential Records Act. (Which, of course it is. The question is whether Merrick Garland's DoJ will do the right thing and take action on it. Don't hold your breath...)

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Guest: Dan Vicuña of Common Cause; Also: More lousy reporting from corporate media on Biden's booming economy...
By Brad Friedman on 2/8/2022 6:40pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: As of this past weekend, the news was much better than expected regarded this decade's round of redistricting around the country. That may have changed in a heartbeat on Monday evening with another horrible "Shadow Docket" ruling from the Republicans' stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, before we get there today, one additional point on a topic discussed in detail on yesterday's show. We noted that the GOP appears to be eating itself alive, with Trump attacking Pence for not helping him steal the 2020 election, Pence (gently, but finally) pushing back at Trump, and the RNC, at its Winter Meeting last week in Utah, voting to censure its own Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kingzinger (R-IL) for daring to join in the probe of the deadly, January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, which the RNC's resolution described as nothing more than "legitimate political discourse".

At the same time, the economy is booming at record numbers under President Biden and Democratic control of Congress. So, given all of that, we asked yesterday why Democrats are thought to be in so much trouble this November? We placed a lot of blame on the corporate media for their often ridiculous, lazy, sometimes out-and-out inaccurate, double-standard coverage of Biden and the Dems. Most notably, as we've been shouting here for months, on the economy, with last year's 6.6 million new jobs simply blowing away all previous Presidents in U.S. history, not to mention the lowest unemployment and highest growth in GDP since the 1980s.

Among the many failures of the corporate media is their reporting on monthly jobs numbers from by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as "disappointing" (including numbers that, when they were even lower under Trump, were described as "robust" or even better). That, as the BLS has, almost every single month for the past year, revised previous monthly new job numbers upward by more than 100,000 and sometimes much much more. Well, the media did it again at the end of last year, when describing "disappointing" new jobs numbers in November and December. Both months, as expected, were revised upward last Friday by BLS, but were largely overlooked by the media. And yet these were no small adjustments!

November's new jobs numbers were adjusted from 199,000 initially to 510,000! And the jobs gain revisions in December went from a "disappointing" 249,000 new jobs to 647,000 — painting a much stronger picture of the labor market than reported over those months last year. If we knew the numbers would be revised upwards last year, with our huge BRAD BLOG World News Headquarters resources, why didn't the corporate media report that appropriately at the time? Of course, they did know, but, for some reason, buried that information along with the record low unemployment numbers and record high GDP growth. Why? Decide as you see fit.

Next, the new decennial round of Congressional redistricting has been looking much better for Democrats (and American Democracy along with them), than previously predicted by experts in the run-up to drawing new maps following the 2020 Census. Last week, Cook Political Report's Dave Wasserman even declared "Dems have taken the lead on" his group's "2022 redistricting scorecard," citing favorable state court rulings and other developments putting Democrats "on track to net 2-3 seats from new maps vs. old ones."

Among the recent new developments, late last week North Carolina's state Supreme Court found that the state's GOP-created Congressional and state legislative maps were partisan gerrymanders in violation of their state Constitution. That ruling followed on a similar one from Ohio's Supreme Court which found the same in the Buckeye State, leading them to order new maps as well. At the same time in New York, one of the few states where Democrats control the process for drawing new maps, three districts were drawn that are likely to flip "red" House seats to "blue" (which has outraged state Republicans, leading them to file a lawsuit against what they see as a "partisan gerrymander" in violation of the state Constitution, despite their party doing the same and much worse in a bunch of states where they control the redistricting process.)

And, all of that followed a recent ruling from a three-judge panel in federal court finding that Alabama Republicans violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act with their new House map that drew six White-majority districts and just one Black-majority district, even though Black voters in Alabama represent 27% of the electorate. The three federal judges --- two of them Trump appointees --- ordered a second Black-majority district to be drawn after a days-long trial, including more than a dozen expert witnesses. The three judges unanimously declared in their "meticulous" 225-page ruling [PDF] that "we do not regard the question ... as a close one.”

Nonetheless, on Monday, in a stunning 5 to 4 ruling on the U.S. Supreme Court's "Shadow Docket", without any oral argument, etc., the rightwingers on the High Court stayed [PDF] the lower court's ruling to allow the unlawful racial gerrymander to remain in place for the 2022 mid-terms and perhaps longer. Even Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the 2013 opinion that gutted the VRA's critical Section 5 preclearance provision, voted with the Court's liberals. But, Roberts' vote was not enough. All of which tees up the Court, as expert fear, to gut Section 2 of the Act as well.

Since the Court's 2013 decision all but killing Section 5 preclearance of new election laws in jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination at the polling place, Republicans have claimed that there was always Section 2 that protected against laws with a discriminatory effect in all 50 states, though only after such laws went into effect. Now, experts worry that a full SCOTUS opinion after a hearing later this year on Alabama's racial gerrymander may result in the Court further chopping away at Section 2.

We're joined by one of those experts today. Common Cause's National Redistricting Manager DAN VICUÑA is here to explain both the good news and, as of Monday, very troubling news on the latest round of redistricting, including what the new SCOTUS ruling is likely to mean moving forward, for Alabama, for other states, for the future of the VRA, and for American Democracy itself.

"I think there is within the conservative majority on the Supreme Court a sort of deep skepticism about the Voting Rights Act, which is one of the most effective pieces of legislation to turn back, fight back against our sordid history of racism," Vicuña explains today. "It's been incredibly effective in giving people of color the opportunity to make their voices heard in elections. I think the conservative majority --- at least some of them --- just don't like it very much." And that could be very bad news for American Democracy indeed.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with a boatload of both good and bad (mostly bad, as usual) news on our ever-worsening climate crisis emergency...

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Pence finally calls out Trump, Trump pushes back, RNC censures two of its own...while economy sizzles, corporate media fail to notice and blame Biden for nation's woes. Callers ring in to explain...
By Brad Friedman on 2/7/2022 6:35pm PT  

The title and sub-title above pretty much say it all about today's BradCast, but for a few specifics. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary]

Before opening up the phone lines to callers today for their thoughts on what the hell is going on that leaves Democrats, not Republicans, in trouble this November, a few of the specific stories we touched on first...

  • BREAKING moments before airtime: SCOTUS blocks recent lower federal court ruling that found Alabama Republicans' new U.S. House maps are an unlawful racial gerrymander under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (the part of the VRA that SCOTUS didn't kill entirely previously.) In a 5 to 4 decision today, with Chief Justice Roberts joining the Dem appointees on the bench, the Court blocked the lower court's order which would have mandated another Black-majority House district in Alabama. Moreover, in deciding to hear the case later this year, the Supremes, many justifiably fear, are now set to kill Section 2 of the landmark Voting Rights Act entirely. More (hopefully) on this on tomorrow's BradCast.
  • Last Friday, former Vice President Mike Pence finally stood up for himself (a little) by declaring during a speech for the rightwing Federalist Society in Florida that "President Trump was wrong" when he claimed that Pence had the Constitutional or statutory power to unilaterally overturned Joe Biden's victory during the final certification of the Electoral College results on January 6th, 2021. (That, after a week of Trump haranguing Pence in a number of statements, with Trump essentially admitting in the bargain that he was trying to steal the 2020 Presidential election.)
  • At the very same time on Friday, at the RNC's Winter Meeting in Utah, Trump's party voted to censure longtime, very conservative Congressmembers Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), for daring to work on the bipartisan Committee investigating the worst, most deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol --- and, arguably, on American Democracy itself --- in the nation's history. The RNC's censure resolution of Cheney and Kinzinger appears to declare that the attack on the Capitol --- which ended up with 9 deaths and injuries to more than 140 law enforcement officials --- was little more than "legitimate political discourse".
  • The censure resolution adopted nearly unanimously by voice vote in Utah was shepherded by RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel. Her uncle, Utah's Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, decried the GOP's attack on Cheney and Kingzinger, tweeting: "Shame falls on a party that would censure persons of conscience, who seek truth in the face of vitriol. Honor attaches to Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for seeking truth even when doing so comes at great personal cost.”
  • And, as if that's not enough madness and dysfunction and disarray inside the once great "Party of Lincoln" on behalf of their scofflaw, twice-impeached, disgraced former President, Washington Post reported on Monday that Donald Trump absconded with boxes and boxes of Presidential Records when he left the White House. That, in strict violation of the Presidential Records Act of 1975, created in the wake of Watergate. The National Archives had to go to Mar-a-Lago in December to try and get the stolen documents --- many of which had been torn up by Trump during his time in office (also in violation of the PRA) --- but did they get them all? And will Trump ever be held accountable for breaking any of the seemingly hundreds of laws he's broken before, during and after his Presidency? Jury is still out. (Actually, no jury has been created nor charges filed at all yet, incredibly enough.)
  • And, all the while, throughout all of that GOP disarray, Joe Biden's economy is booming at record levels. The corporate media, which have been downplaying monthly jobs reports and record low unemployment and record high growth in the GDP over the past year, was forced to begrudgingly concede at least a few of those points on Friday. The new jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found a remarkable 467,000 new jobs were created in December and that previous monthly job reports needed to be revised upward by several hundreds of thousands of new jobs. Not by a little, but by a lot. Last December was revised from 199,000 new jobs to 510,000. And November was adjusted from a 249,000 gain in jobs to an astounding 647,000. Both months saw media report the initial numbers as a "disappointment", despite a year's worth of monthly numbers being revised upward each and every month. In all, as Biden was left to explain himself, a record 6.6 million jobs were added last year. It's never happened before in American history. Also, 2021 saw the largest drop of unemployment ever in a single year; the largest drop in childhood poverty ever in a single year; and the largest drop in unemployment in 40 years. Sounds terrible!
  • So, with all of that, why are Joe Biden's approval numbers tanking? And why are Democrats --- not Republicans --- thought by the corporate media to be in big trouble this November? We open the phones to callers with a few thoughts on that, including one caller who thinks it's my fault! Mmmmkay...

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US v. ISIS; Omicron falling, deaths rising; Good swing-state redistricting news; Biden EPA applying brakes on DeJoy's insane, corrupt USPS gas-powered delivery truck boondoggle...
By Brad Friedman on 2/3/2022 6:30pm PT  

Like the Energizer Bunny, the stories on today's BradCast are still going and going and going... [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among them...

The Never-Ending "Global War on Terror": An overnight, on-the-ground U.S. special forces led raid on a house in northwestern Syria is said to have taken out the latest leader of ISIS, along with more than a dozen others, including six children. We share what we know via sources from Al Jazeera to New York Times to President Biden.

The Never-Ending Coronavirus: As quickly as it spiked, Omicron is now falling in almost every state in the nation. But COVID deaths are still on the rise (averaging about 2,600 per day) and hospitals are still up against it. Almost all entirely thanks to the unvaccinated who are now 60 times more likely to die from the disease than those who have received their shots.

The Never-Ending Assault on Democracy: Following the good redistricting news yesterday out of New York state, more good news today from the critical swing-state of Pennsylvania, where the state Supreme Court has jumped into the redistricting fight between the Keystone State's Democratic Governor and its (gerrymandered) Republican state legislature. The 5-2 Dem majority state Supremes have determined they will have the last word on new maps soon and that's likely good news for American democracy.

The Never-Ending Madness of DeJoy's USPS: It's insanity really. It's also wildly corrupt. Donald Trump's still-in-his-position-for-some-reason Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is overseeing a massive Postal Service contract to purchase 165,000 new mail delivery trucks to replace its aging, 30-year old fleet, which averaged 10 miles per gallon. Instead of moving to all-electric vehicles, the $11.3 billion purchase with a Wisconsin-based defense contractor (for some reason) will consist of 90% gasoline-powered trucks for use over the next several decades, despite boasts from DeJoy's PR team that the trucks are more fuel-efficient than the old fleet, with an increase of 0.4 MPG! The Biden EPA is hoping to put the brakes on the independent federal agency. They've found the service's environmental analysis to be wildly flawed and is directing them to start over before replacing a full one-third of the federal fleet with more climate destroying vehicles that will emit the equivalent of 4.3 million gas-powered passenger vehicles over their expected lifespan. The details in WaPo's exclusive on this catastrophic boondoggle illustrate nothing less than mind-bending madness amid our worsening climate emergency.

The Never-Ending Climate Crisis: Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with bad news on gas stoves and on a massive chemical fire in NC; but good news on the U.S. Interior Department distributing billions of job-creating dollars to states to clean up millions of leaking, toxic, abandoned oil and gas wells across the country, as part of Biden's recently signed infrastructure law...

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Guest: Grace Panetta of Business Insider; Also: Dem Senator hospitalized with stroke; Manchin's big 'Build Back Better' lie; NY state redistricting adds 3 new Dem House districts...
By Brad Friedman on 2/2/2022 6:51pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: On January 6, 2021, Donald Trump and his democracy-hating supporters hoped to exploit the vagaries of the horribly written Electoral Count Act (ECA) of 1887 --- along with several vagaries of the U.S. Constitution itself --- to try and steal the 2020 President election during the joint session of Congress meant to affirm the state certified results of the Electoral College. Now, there is an ongoing bipartisan effort in Congress to modernize and reform the ECA to prevent a similar nightmare in 2024 or beyond. But will even that reform, if successfully adopted, be able to prevent a political party from acting in bad faith to steal a Presidential election in plain sight in the future? [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up today, before we get to the ECA, Democrats are down to just 49 voting members of the Senate at the moment, after New Mexico's 49-year old Senator Ben Ray Luján, his office announced on Tuesday, has been hospitalized with a stroke after experiencing dizziness and fatigue last week. The statement suggests a full recovery is expected, even as the incident serves as a reminder of the Party's tenuous 50-vote majority in the Senate...as long as everyone is well and Vice President Kamala Harris is there to break any ties. Dems seem to think that Luján will recover in time to support Joe Biden's eventual nominee to fill the Supreme Court seat being vacated by the retiring Justice Stephen Breyer in June.

Also, speaking of the U.S. Senate, we've got a minor update on the landmark Build Back Better proposal that had served for months last year as the $1.7 trillion centerpiece of President Biden's agenda: Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) says that "it's dead". That, after he killed it at the end of last year following months of negotiations and citing several ridiculous reasons. And while Democrats are hopefully they may still be able to pass Manchin-approved chunks of the bill in the future, I remain dubious that Manchin --- whose family rakes in millions from their coal business, supplying just one single coal plant with waste coal in West Virginia --- will ever allow the measure's critical $555 billion in environmental spending to help tackle climate change to be adopted.

Manchin spent months last year pretending to negotiate "in good faith" on the bill, even claiming repeatedly to support its climate provisions which incentivize the nation's power plants to move from dirty fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy. Even in recent days, Democrats have repeated the notion that Manchin supports at least those provisions of the sweeping measure that would have also expanded healthcare, education, child care, elder care and much more. But if you believe Manchin supports BBB's environmental initiatives, I've got a coal-fired power plant in West Virginia to sell ya. Of course, I hope to be wrong. But I haven't been, so far, on this matter unfortunately.

Next, it's on to the ridiculously written Electoral Count Act (ECA) which was adopted, as our guest today, GRACE PANETTA of Business Insider detailed in her deep-dive report this week, "following the disputed 1876 election between Samuel Tilden and Rutherford B. Hayes, which was marred by allegations of fraud and the disenfranchisement of Black voters." The ECA was passed at the time to help clarify certain aspects of the U.S. Constitution's mandated 12th Amendment process for counting and determining the eligibility of Electoral College votes. But it is so vaguely written --- Panetta cites an ECA scholar who notes that "many of its substantive rules are set out in a single sentence that is 275 words long" --- that Trump and his corrupt team of advisors were able to claim that the ECA allowed for Vice President Pence to pretty much name anybody he liked as the winner of the 2020 election during the joint session of Congress on January 6th.

This week, several coalitions in the Senate --- one, a group of three Democrats; the other, a bipartisan group of 16 Senators including nine Republicans --- are working to rewrite the measure in hopes of both clarifying it and preventing it from being exploited to steal a Presidential election. At least in theory.

As I've discussed on several shows of late, I often go to bed at night pondering the many ways that a political party prepared to act in bad faith --- in this case, Republicans --- can quite easily steal a Presidential election via the Electoral College with literally nothing more than norms, traditions and good faith to stop them. That's a fact, no matter what happens at the precinct level in each state, no matter who is and isn't allowed to vote, and no matter how those votes may be tallied. A party acting in concert in bad faith can steal an American Presidential election and there is little if anything in current law or the Constitution to prevent it.

Moreover, depending on how the ECA is rewritten --- if Republicans allow such a rewrite to be passed in both chambers and signed by the President --- it may still leave the door open for a rogue state legislature or even a single Governor acting in bad faith to steal an election, in what one ECA expert that Panetta cites describes as "the Swing State Governor's Gambit".

Panetta, a senior politics reporter at Insider, joins us from the Senate Gallery today to explain what the ECA is supposed to do; how Trump attempted to abuse it to steal the 2020 election; how reform can hopefully prevent that from happening in the future; and what the chances currently are that this new reform movement in the Senate will be successful.

She also makes clear --- in response to Trump's idiotic statement (admission?) on Sunday, claiming Pence had "the right to change the outcome" of the election --- that "the ECA does NOT give the Vice President the authority to unilaterally decide which electoral votes to count or not."

"The ECA as it exists, in its imperfect, flawed form, does NOT give the Vice President this authority," Panetta reiterates. "At the same time, however, I think what both the bipartisan group and another trio of Democratic Senators who introduced an ECA reform bill yesterday are trying to do is even more clearly state, clearly clarify in 21st-century language, that single slates of electors sent to Congress should be treated as final and the Vice President really has no role to adjudicate this."

Right now, she warns, "the groundwork is being laid at the state level for state officials --- like Governors, like Secretaries of State --- to overturn elections. In short, a Governor could submit an illegitimate slate of electors that does not reflect the popular vote in the state, and candidates could try in federal court to compel a Governor to send the correct slate, but that's no guarantee that that would fully work." So, yes, getting ECA reform right is now more critical than ever.

Finally today, some good news --- at least as I see it. New York's legislature has approved a new Congressional map for the state that will most likely add three additional Democratic members of Congress from the Empire State. New York Republicans are hopping mad about what they describe as an outrageous partisan gerrymander by Democrats. Ya know, just like the even more egregious ones being carried out by Republicans in GOP-controlled states like Ohio, North Carolina and Texas, where population growth was due almost entirely to minority voters, and yet state Republicans removed minority voting districts to add GOP seats. While I certainly would have opposed such efforts by Dems in the past (many redistricting experts still do), given the efforts right now by Republicans to undermine American democracy itself, I'm just fine with what NY is doing. If Republicans oppose it, they can (and should!) take it to court. Unfortunately, they won't be able to take it to federal court, because their own stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court majority recently declared that federal courts may play no part in adjudicating partisan state gerrymanders. SAD!...

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Guest: Const'l attorney John Bonifaz of FSFP; Also: Trump more involved in 2020 gambit to seize voting machines than previously known...
By Brad Friedman on 2/1/2022 6:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Self-declared Republican "Constitutionalists" may not turn out to be huge fans of the written text of the U.S. Constitution after all. Particularly Section 3 of the 14th Amendment which bars from federal office those "who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States...to support the Constitution of the United States...engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same." [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

That's turning out to be very bad news right now for North Carolina's Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn. It could also turn out to be bad news in the not too distant for other members of the MAGA Caucus in Congress and even our disgraced former President --- even if that might be good news for the rest of the nation.

Last month, an official complaint [PDF] was filed by voters with NC's State Board of Elections, charging that Cawthorn must be disqualified from running for re-election this year in the Tar Heel State. The freshman Congressman reportedly participated in planning meetings for the rallies in advance of the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, 2021 and spoke at the rally on the Eclipse in front of the White House prior to Donald Trump's speech directing supporters to head to the Capitol and "fight like hell". Cawthorn also joined dozens of other members of the House and Senate that day in voting against Joe Biden's Electoral College victory, despite the lack of evidence of fraud that might have changed the certified results of the election in any state.

The effort to block Cawthorn's candidacy in NC is the first official volley in the 14Point3.org campaign created by good government groups Free Speech for People and Our Revolution. NC state law requires that candidates must meet all requirements for office as detailed in the U.S. Constitution and further requires potential candidates to disprove any challenges to those qualifications, such as their age, legal residency, citizenship status or, in this case, whether or not they've "engaged in insurrection or rebellion" against the U.S. Constitution.

We're joined today by longtime Constitutional law expert JOHN BONIFAZ, co-founder and President of the non-partisan, non-profit Free Speech for People, to discuss this rather amazing and actually quite serious challenge to Cawthorn's candidacy and perhaps additional challenges to other insurrectionist candidates such as Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Lauren Boebert of Colorado and potentially even one Donald J. Trump.

"It's a 'novel' challenge in the sense that it's the first such challenge since the Reconstruction Era," Bonifaz tells me, while noting that "during that time, Section 3 of the 14th Amendment was applied to many Confederates who remained in positions of government power." But, he explains, "the Framers of the 14th Amendment were clear that if you take an oath of office to defend and protect the Constitution, and then you turn around and engage in insurrection or give aid and comfort to it, then you are prohibited from holding future public office. Now, we have the second insurrection in our nation's history and those who incited the insurrection or gave aid or comfort to it must also face accountability under that mandate."

The challenge is serious enough that, on Monday, Cawthorn filed a federal lawsuit in hopes of quashing the inquiry into his role on January 6th. His lawsuit claims that the State Board has no authority to keep him off the ballot. Bonifaz describes the claim as absurd. "If Madison Cawthorn were ten years old and seeking to be on the ballot in North Carolina, there'd be no question that he's ineligible to be placed on the ballot because he doesn't meet the age qualification for a member of Congress. This is another qualification requirement --- you cannot take an oath of office, as Madison Cawthorn did on Jan. 3, 2021, and then turn around and engage in insurrection and hold public office again."

"Instead of complying with the process that is laid out under state law, he has now rushed to federal court with his attorney to try to completely declare the whole process by which candidate qualifications are brought to be unconstitutional" Bonifaz contends. "If it's so hard for him to prove that he's not an insurrectionist, maybe the real question is why Section 3 of the 14th Amendment should not be applied to him."

"If he's really nervous about appearing before the State Board of Elections, that may be a real indication that the Board needs to act in the voters' favor. But the very fact that he's doing an end run around the state process and rushing into federal court ought to tell you a lot about whether Madison Cawthorn wants to appear before the State Board of Elections to defend himself."

Cawthorn's attorney has also offered another unique defense. He charges that the last part of Section 3 states that "Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability" and that the Amnesty Act of 1872 declared just that. Yes, Cawthorn is relying on the dispensation given specifically to former Confederate rebels in 1872 to try and remain on the ballot in 2022. Bonifaz explains on today's program why he is less than impressed with that defense.

For the moment, while there is a separate legal challenge to NC's newly gerrymandered Congressional maps, the qualifications process for all candidates in the state is on hold. Once the maps are settled, however, Bonifaz says the Board's "longstanding process by which voters can bring these kinds of challenges" includes creating a panel that will have 20 days to hear the case in which Cawthorn will have to defend himself, before the matter goes to the full Board and then, potentially, to state court on appeal.

One way or another, the matter must be settled in a few months before the state's primary election. It has resulted in a fascinating conversation among Constitutional law experts on the matter of what it means to "engage" in an insurrection. Bonifaz explains why he believes that conviction for sedition or insurrection in a court of law is not necessary to trigger the Constitutional clause. And if Cawthorn is, in fact, disqualified from running in North Carolina based on restrictions in the U.S. Constitution, what will that mean for other such insurrectionist candidates in other states in 2022 and, indeed, for Trump himself, if and when he attempts to become a candidate on the ballot again in the critical and closely divided swing-state in 2024? All of that, and much more is discussed on today's program.

Also today, speaking of insurrectionist Trump, new exclusives late last night from both CNN and the New York Times suggest that the disgraced, twice-impeached former President was much more personally involved in the attempt to seize the nation's voting machines following the 2020 election than previously reported. Also, that his efforts were far broader than previously known. CNN reports that there were actually two different Executive Orders drafted up for Trump's use. One was recently obtained by Politico, which we discussed last week. That one would have ordered the Department of Defense to seize the machines. The other order would have directed the Department of Homeland Security to do so. Team Trump was reportedly told by DHS that the federal agency lacked the authority to impound the voting systems.

But the Times offers new details on a third effort, which included a personal appeal by Trump in the Oval Office to his then Attorney General Bill Barr to have DOJ impound the voting systems. Barr, to his credit, is said to have immediately shot down the idea, telling the desperate loser that, since there was no evidence of fraud on the systems, the DoJ had no probable cause to believe they had been used in any crime. Trump's A.G. tendered his resignation shortly thereafter.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with bad news for fans of winter sports and good news for opponents of more deadly oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico...

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Also: Trump vows pardons for insurrectionists; Bi-partisan Senators working to reform law Trump tried to use to steal election; 'Maus' tops best-seller lists after TN school board ban; Callers ring in on all...
By Brad Friedman on 1/31/2022 6:42pm PT  

A few technical demons at the KPFK studio today kept us on our toes during today's BradCast. The chaos was only multiplied by a ton of very lively callers. You may (or may not) be the beneficiary of all of the madness that subsequently ensued. Enjoy! [Audio link to show is posted below this summary.]

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

  • Over the weekend at a rally in Texas, our disgraced, criminal, twice-impeached former President suggested that, if he was elected President again, he would pardon his insurrectionist supporters who attacked the U.S. Capitol and hundreds of law enforcement officials to try and steal the 2020 election on his behalf on January 6, 2021. Never mind the nine people who died during or after the worst assault on our Capitol since the War of 1812. Since Donald Trump actually opposes law and order, he would almost certainly pardon hundreds of the violent attackers. And, at the same rally, he also instructed his brainwashed supporters to launch mass protests if (when?) he's indicted in D.C., New York and/or Georgia.
  • On Sunday, Trump also admitted in a statement that he had wanted Vice President Pence to "change the outcome" of the 2020 election by "overturn[ing]" the certified results on January 6th. No, it was never about giving Congress time to investigate "fraud", for which there has never been evidence, either then or now. The "legal" mechanism that Trump and his duplicitous campaign aids and attorneys were hoping to exploit is the vague and poorly written Electoral Count Act of 1887. A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators are now reportedly working on reforming that century old statute to prevent a similar occurrence in 2024 or beyond.
  • Last week, rocker Neil Young announced that he would pull his music from the Spotify if conspiracy theorist podcast host Joe Rogan was allowed to stay on their streaming service and continue to broadcast misinformation related to the coronavirus, COVID and its vaccines. Spotify is sticking with Rogan after recently signing him to a $100 million contract giving them exclusive rights to stream his show. So, Young and others, including Joni Mitchell, have since pulled their catalog from the service. In response, Rogan has now vowed to add "balance" to his program, and Spotify has said they would slap a "content advisory" on anypodcast episode on which the coronavirus was discussed. Of course, "balance" only serves to level an unlevel playing field for Rogan's deadly false claims about COVID and its vaccines. And Spotify's vow to label all shows with "content advisories" that talk about coronavirus only leaves viewers/listeners confused about what is truth and what is COVID fiction. How many thousands of people have been unnecessarily killed thanks to Rogan (and Spotify)'s irresponsible misinformation is, of course, unknown.

On the second half of today's show, we open up the phone lines to a ton of listener calls on all of the above...though most wanted to talk about Rogan's lies. And, yes, we take calls both for and against those lies...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Lynn Bernstein of Transparent Elections NC on intimidation and an independent review of unverifiable ES&S vote systems; Also: Major media failures at Fox 'News', CNN and Washington Post...
By Brad Friedman on 1/28/2022 7:28pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we are bound and determined to take back the real fight for Election Integrity from the MAGA "Stop the Steal" loons and dupes who have no such interest in anything of the sort, as the Right has attempted to co-opt the idea of "Election Integrity" as part of Donald Trump's efforts to steal the election in 2020...and/or to steal the next one. But even too many weak-kneed Democrats have been frightened off of the fight to secure our nation's vulnerable voting and tabulation systems and ensure public oversight of election results for fear of offering fodder to the MAGA Mob. We're not playing that game. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But first up, some pretty dreadful media failures from both the wingnut Right and the non-wingnut Corporate Media. First, after a deteriorating, 50-year old bridge collapsed in Pittsburgh on Friday morning, ironically enough just hours before President Biden's planned appearance in the city to tout his recently signed $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill to repair the nation's crumbling roads and bridges, one Fox "News" host may have jumped the shark when it comes to disinformation from the propaganda news outlet. (Which is not easy!)

Longtime Fox host and news anchor Julie Banderas went off on an embarrassing tear about how "President Biden has been making promises over promises over promises and, as you've noticed, none of them have come true," as she asserted to four others appearing with her, each in their own little silent box. "Back in June of 2021 he started talking about his bipartisan infrastructure deal," she sneered derisively. "There's nothing bipartisan about it! If it was bipartisan, it would have been passed by now!," she continued cluelessly in her rant, slamming the President for failing his vow to "reach across the aisle" to make policy with Republicans. That, she insisted, "has clearly not happened." She was quickly followed by Kayleigh McEnany who concurred. "That might have been the biggest fairy tale of them all," said Trump's former White House Press Secretary.

In fact, Joe Biden's landmark, $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill --- which he was in Pittsburgh to discuss on Friday, fer chrissake --- was passed with nineteen Republicans voting with all the Democrats in the Senate. It was signed into law a full two and a half months ago --- even if word of that promise-kept has yet to pierce the Fox "News" reality bubble.

Sadly, non-wingnut news outlets are not a whole lot better in too many cases of late. On Thursday, a federal judge invalidated the largest offshore oil and gas lease sale in the nation's history. 1.7 million acres were recently auctioned in the Gulf of Mexico after a different federal judge last year, one appointed by Donald Trump, blocked Biden's Executive Order pausing new fossil fuel leases, forcing the Biden Administration to sell off the Gulf. That, even after a scam environmental analysis by Trump's Department of Interior claimed that it would be worse for the climate if Big Oil was not allowed to buy up the leases and expand their drilling there. The Biden Justice Dept. sued to prevent the sale and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki made clear to reporters back in November that the President opposed the auction, but was left no option by the Trump-appointed Judge to carry it out.

So, Thursday's ruling was a welcome victory for the Administration. But one would have to read the actual stories from outlets like Washington Post and CNN to learn that, because both of those outlets sent out news alerts to mobile phones telling a very different story. CNN's alert screamed: "A federal judge invalidated the Biden administration's oil and gas leases for 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico, citing climate change," while WaPo misinformed its readers by declaring "Federal judge throws out Biden administration's massive Gulf of Mexico oil and gas lease sale, faulting its climate analysis."

Wow, if we didn't know better --- or hadn't clicked through to read the actual stories --- it sure would sound like Joe Biden is talking out of both sides of his mouth when he claims to care about climate change and transitioning off of fossil fuels, while carrying out the nation's largest-ever sale of drilling leases in the Gulf! With non-wingnut corporate media like ours, no wonder his approval ratings continue to plummet (despite the fastest growth in the economy since 1984, as the media has also been failing to adequately report, as discussed on yesterday's program!)

NEXT UP...The Department of Justice on Thursday announced that its Election Threats Task Force, formed seven months ago, has made its second arrest. They indicted a 50-year old Nevada man who had repeatedly called the Nevada Secretary of State's office with violent threats on January 7, 2021, just one day after the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol, promising they were "all going to fucking die". That, after hundreds, if not thousands of similar and worse threats have been issued since the 2020 election against elections officials across the country.

But its not only elections officials forced to face down such attempted intimidation. One longtime Election Integrity advocate, who joins us on today's show, says she has faced similar nightmares in response to her work in a critical swing state, resulting in both in-person intimidation to herself and her family, and a chilling attempt to hack into her home security system.

Our guest is LYNN BERNSTEIN, an aerospace engineer with an expertise in testing satellite systems, who has, in recent years, turned her skills toward fighting for evidence-based elections as founder of Transparent Election NC in North Carolina. The non-partisan group's mission, according to its website, "is to confirm that every eligible vote is counted as the voter intended by working with elections officials to ensure that elections are secure, transparent, robustly audited, and publicly verified."

But, Bernstein contends, there are some in her state who may not like that idea. She has become a critic of North Carolina's recently approved, unverifiable computerized touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems made by ES&S, the nation's largest private voting system vendor. Bernstein went public last month on Twitter with some of the threats she began to face after she (a registered and active Democrat) found common ground with the state's Libertarian Party. She helped convince them to exercise their right, under state law, to seek an independent source code and security review of ES&S' unverifiable BMD voting and tabulation systems.

Bernstein offers several chilling details on the intimidation she has faced since the Libertarian Party announced their plans to seek an independent source code review, which will be overseen by the excellent University of South Carolina computer science and voting system expert Dr. Duncan Buell (who has also been a guest on this program). "Elections officials have been in the news a lot about being harassed and threatened," she says. "It seems though that the intimidation of election advocacy leaders happens way more than the public is aware of. I work with people all across the country and privately we discuss it among ourselves, but most won't publicly disclose that they've been hacked or intimidated before."

She also shares her well-researched concerns about the state's controversial new ES&S voting equipment --- which are also used in many other states --- and which experts had strongly advocated against certifying in the closely divided swing-state. "I'm a big proponent of hand-marked paper ballots," says Bernstein. "I think it's just the best record of voter intent. It's a very direct record." She explains how the ES&S BMD systems print out bar-coded paper ballots, supposedly representing voter's touchscreen selections. But those ballots cannot be verified by any voter as actually reflecting their intent. "North Carolina law says that a voter must be able to verify their ballot before casting it. With ES&S's barcode system, it doesn't actually allow the voter to verify their vote before casting it."

During our conversation, Bernstein also offers an endorsement of the state's Libertarian Party chairman who explained in his Party's December press release announcing the review, that "this is not about litigating the 2020 election." She claims that "one of the reasons why he's the perfect person to do this" is because "he has done forensic examinations before" as a former fraud investigator. "When I let him know that this particular ES&S system has never undergone a truly independent source code review, a full comprehensive one, he was shocked, as I think most of us are when we learned of these things."

There's a lot to discuss here, including whether both the state and ES&S will allow the state-mandated review, as we recommit to working to reclaim the real fight for Election Integrity around the nation.

Finally, when it comes to election fraud --- and, arguably, voter fraud --- nobody holds a candle to what Trump and the GOP tried to pull off in 2020. So it's nice to see that the January 6th Committee in the House on Friday, subpoenaed 14 Republicans from seven different states --- all of them won by Biden in 2020 --- who signed their names as duly-sworn "electors" for Trump, on documents fraudulently sent to Congress and the National Archives, in one of the most brazen (and, thankfully, failed) election fraud schemes in the history of this nation...

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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: Amanda Litman of Run for Something; Also: Judge rejects Trump attorney's suit to block Jan 6 email subpoena; Dems raise record haul for Sec. of State elections...
By Brad Friedman on 1/26/2022 6:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast, Democrats, liberals, progressives and non-wingnut legal experts who actually care about the rule of law breathe a huge sigh of relief. And how you --- yes YOU --- can help save American Democracy beginning right now in YOUR home town! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, after many --- including one of our favorite guests, Salon legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern --- had been furious at the end of last year's Supreme Court term, when 83-year old Justice Stephen Breyer did not announce his retirement, he finally did so on Wednesday. He'll be leaving at the end of this term over the Summer. If all goes as hoped, that should prevent another situation where there is a vacancy on the Court with a Democrat in the White House and an obstructionist Republican majority in the Senate. As Stern told us last July on this program, Breyer's reticence to step down at the time could easily have led to a case where, once again, Republicans change the number of seats on the bench for as long as they need to until another Republican is in the White House. In fact, as Stern argued on that program last year, he does not believe a GOP-controlled Senate will ever fill another vacancy on either SCOTUS or the federal Appeals Court if the nomination is made by a Democratic President.

Today, we discuss Breyer's legacy as a longtime pragmatic centrist on an increasingly ideologically split Court, and the likely nominees to replace him --- presuming Lord Manchin and Lady Sinema deign to offer their approval. If all Dems unite behind President Biden's nominee, they can now seat whoever they like with only a 50 vote majority, given that Republicans killed the Senate filibuster rules for Supreme Court appointees during the Trump Presidency in order to steal and pack the Court's majority with three hard-right Trump nominees. Biden has long vowed to appoint the first black woman to the High Court and we discuss some of those likely nominees today.

Next, a quick followup on a story we covered yesterday. Late on Tuesday, after we got off air, a federal judge in California rejected a lawsuit filed by John Eastman, the wingnut Trump Campaign attorney who wrote the memos arguing that Vice President Mike Pence could simply nullify Joe Biden's Electoral College victory on January 6th, 2021. Eastman had sued to block the release of some 19,000 emails written on his Chapman University email account while he (unbeknownst to the school) was secretly working for Trump. The emails had been subpoenaed from the university by the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the deadly attack on the Capitol and the former President's efforts to steal the 2020 election. The federal judge forcefully defended the Committee's right to review those emails and rejected Eastman's attempt to block them.

With failure after failure for the Trump MAGA Mob in courts across the country, all the way up to SCOTUS, in both their efforts to steal the 2020 election and, subsequently, block the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, rightwingers have turned their focus to undermining elections before they get to the courts.

But, this year, Democrats and Republicans are keenly focused on races for elections officials, with the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State announcing a record fund-raising haul of $4.5 million in 2021. That's three times more than they raised in the entire 2018 election cycle. That, following Trump's efforts to steal the 2020 election and the GOP focus on replacing chief state election officials with Trump loyalists willing to suppress voting rights and subvert election results.

It's not only states' top election officials who play a critical role in protecting the right to vote and American democracy itself, however. There are, literally, thousands of races for elections administrators on the ballot across the country this year. At the same time, Trumpers have been focusing on those races, as well as other locally elected positions from school boards to city councils to county health boards and many others. Meanwhile, our guest today has been working successfully over the past two election cycles to counter such efforts by finding young, progressive, often minority candidates to run for many of those same local positions. And, this year, her organization is stepping up their efforts to focus particularly on election administrative roles in all 50 states.

AMANDA LITMAN, co-founder and executive director of Run for Something, is our guest today. She is also the author of Don't Just March, Run For Something: A real-talk guide to fixing the system yourself. Her group has had remarkable success since launching in 2017, in the wake of Hilary Clinton's 2016 disaster, in recruiting young, diverse progressives for local office.

"We have helped elect 637 people across 48 states, mostly women, mostly people of color, about a fifth LGBTQIA+, all forty years old or younger," she tells us. "They have done things like expand early voting here in New York, where I live. They've helped 50,000 Floridians access unemployment benefits down in Orlando. The Waterloo City Council in Iowa now has a paid leave policy for people experiencing pregnancy loss. In Harris County, Texas, they've ended cash bail, did a number of really important things around budgeting thanks to Lina Hidalgo, the Harris County executive and Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee. So we have seen, over and over again, young people can run, they can win, they can make a difference on the local level that makes life so much better for people in a way that really matters."

Those efforts continue as the 2022 mid-term cycle gets under way, and she is urging folks again to not just be angry or buried in despair about what is happening to our nation right now, but to take action by running for something instead! "It is not too late to get started for this year. Most states have their filing deadlines in March, April, May," Litman explains. "Even if you're just now thinking maybe I want to do this, especially for these local elections, you can run. We will help you get your campaign set up, we'll help you figure out how to get on the ballot, and we'll make sure you have everything you need to succeed."

The group has created a simple tool at RunForWhat.net that will allow you to plug in a few simple pieces of information, like your location, to inform you about which local ballot positions need filling this year where you live. "We have a network of people all across the country who want to help you," she tells me. "They're here to support you as a candidate --- for free!"

"It's really important to know that these elections are happening all the time. They are year-round. They are determined in some places by a really small number of voters. And they are affordable. 75% of school board races in years past cost $1,000 or less, 85% cost $5,000 or less. It's totally attainable for someone who has never run for office before to run for and win one of these positions," Litman explains.

As to the group's specific focus this year on election-related positions, Run for Something has kicked off a multi-million dollar effort to contest those jobs in particular. And there are a LOT of them to be filled! "We're doing a bunch of target work there, making sure that in the nearly 2,000 races like these across the nation this year we've got as many candidates as possible. There are at least 2,000 of them that touch elections in some way on the ballot in 2022. Another 1,000 in 2023, and close to 4,000 of them on the ballot in 2024."

But, if Democrats object to the Trump/Bannon/QAnon efforts to fill election administrator rolls with loyalists, how is Litman's effort any different from what the GOP is doing? "We're not in favor of Democrats," she counters, "we're in favor of democracy. That's a really important distinction," argues Litman, before going into more depth on that distinction today.

"We are trying to talk to every person we can, and make sure everyone knows you can and should think about running for office," she continues, explaining that her organization will also help folks who may not specifically fit the profile of the type of candidate that Run for Something might personally end up choosing to endorse. In that case, she says, they will help point you to others who can help as well.

"We need people from all walks of life. We need folks, yes, who are lawyers and businessmen. But, really, we need teachers, we need parents, we need artists, we need scientists, we need refugees, we need first- and second-generation Americans, we need Chipotle burrito-rollers and people who have worked in fast food and retail. Our government will work better when it reflects the people it is trying to serve. So we need you to run! If you're listening to this, we need you to run!"

And, yes, Litman implores, "your democracy needs YOU!"...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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