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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, September 29, 2022
Keeping Up With Ian and Trump's GOP Fraudsters: 'BradCast' 9/29/22
Guest: Nicole Sandler from FL; Also: Election tampering charges in MI; Bad days in court for Powell, Dobbs, Fox 'News'; Trump's corrupt MAL judge strikes again...
'Green News Report' 9/29/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Hurricane Ian smashes records, pummels FL; Manchin's permitting reform bill collapses; New probe for PG&E; PLUS: Mysterious breaches erupt on Russian gas pipelines to Europe...
Recent GNRs: 9/27/22 - 9/22/22 - Archives...
KS Abortion Referendum Data Suggest Women Being Under-Counted in Midterm Polling: 'BradCast' 9/28/22
Guest: Tom Bonier of TargetSmart; Also: Hurricane Ian storms ashore in FL...
Critical Elections, Catastrophic Storm Bear Down: 'BradCast' 9/27/22
Poll workers needed!; Ian closing in on FL; Scofflaw TX A.G. flees process server; Congress nears Electoral Count Act update; Listener mail...
'Green News Report' 9/27/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Ian takes aim at Florida; Fiona broke records in Canada; Noru pummels Philippines; Winter fuel prices soar; PLUS: Pacific Island nations call for fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty at U.N.
Recent GNRs: 9/22/22 - 9/20/22 - Archives...
'Gold Standard' SCOTUS Poll Finds Majority of Americans Support Expansion of High Court: 'BradCast' 9/26/22
Also: Disinformationists; Fascism rising; Hurricane Ian threatens FL; Callers ring in...
Sunday 'Heavy Traffic' Toons
Be sure to check PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons before crossing state borders. You're welcome!...
Trump, Lindell, Ginni Thomas --- Geniuses All!:
'BradCast' 9/22/22
GOP election conspiracists have bad lawyers; Also: Garland's moving (and telling) remarks at swearing-in of new American citizens...
'Green News Report' 9/22/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
U.N. Sec-Gen wants fossil fuel industry to pay up; New plastics initiative; Puerto Rico still lacking power and clean water; PLUS: Senate approves first climate treaty in decades...
Recent GNRs: 9/20/22 - 9/15/22 - Archives...
It's National Voter Registration Day!
(Who Knew?): 'BradCast' 9/20/22
Also: Beer shortage?!; More on DeSantis' migrant scam; Electoral Count Act reform news; Good (and bad) news for disabled voters; Much more...
'Green News Report' 9/20/22
Simultaneous storms, in Puerto Rico, Alaska, Japan; Climate change juiced Pakistan floods; Aussie energy turnabout; PLUS: Plastics plant blocked in LA...
Kidnapping is a Crime. Will DeSantis Be Held Accountable for It?: 'BradCast' 9/19/22
Also: Media still pulling punches on GOP; Elizabeth finally buried, so will CNN finally cover weekend's THREE hurricane landfalls?!; Plus, callers!...
Sunday 'Pawn' Toons
Make your move to PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
Reagan's Big Government Gift to Big Pharma is Still Giving, Killing: 'BradCast' 9/16/22
Guest: Ernest A. Canning; Also: Trump's failed GA election theft; NH GOP Sen. nom flip-flops on 2020 denial; Patagonia gives away company to save planet...
More Good News for Ds; More Fraud Accountability for Rs: 'BradCast' 9/15/22
Biden approval up, strike averted; Trump NY fraud; Feds probe Lindell CO fraud; Fraud probe of MI GOP A.G. nom; NY Election Commish charged w/ absentee vote fraud...
'Green News Report' 9/15/22
U.N. says world in 'uncharted climate territory'; Summer 2022 hottest ever; Clean energy will save world $12 trillion; PLUS: Biden touts IRA, national EV charging network...
'Groundbreaking' Victory for CA's Half-Million Fast-Food Workers: 'BradCast' 9/14/22
Guest: TAP's Harold Meyerson; Also: Rail worker strike looms; Noteworthy primary results from DE, RI, NH...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
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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: Russia-Ukraine author, expert Anatol Leiven of the Quincy Inst. for Responsible Statecraft; Also: Huge new jobs numbers for February as Biden economic boom continues, despite media failure in reporting it...
By Brad Friedman on 3/4/2022 6:44pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We'll leave the drumbeat of military experts and 24-hour, round-the-clock war porn to the cable news nets, and focus instead today on a path to peace, with a longtime expert on the complicated relationship between Ukraine and Russia. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

FIRST UP, however, back here in the U.S., more astoundingly good new jobs numbers were reported by the Labor Department. Some 678,000 new jobs were created last month, and revisions to monthly numbers for December and January add another 100,000 to the already record numbers. Also, the unemployment rate fell even further to a rate of 3.8%, not seen since before the pandemic. Much of that, according to experts, is thanks to Biden and the Democrats American Rescue Plan, passed without any Republican support early last year.

But even while Biden's economy continues to boom with a record 6.6 million new jobs created over the past year --- the most for any single year since record-keeping on this began in the 1930s --- and the highest growth in GDP since the 1980s, Americans appear completely clueless about these facts. Former WaPo columnist, Dan Froomkin, now author of the Press Watch newsletter, explains today why he blames the media for their dismal failures in properly educating the electorate on the basic, cold, hard facts. "When the public thinks up is down," he argues, "it’s time to rethink coverage."

NEXT, regrettably if necessarily, it's back to Russia's horrific, unprovoked war on Ukraine, after a harrowing night during which the largest nuclear power plant in Europe came under attack by Putin's forces, setting part of it ablaze for a time and rattling a lot of nerves in the bargain, and not just in Ukraine.

We're joined today from Great Britain by ANATOL LIEVEN, a former war correspondent in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Chechnya and other former Soviet nations. Lieven has served as a professor in Qatar and at the War Studies Dept. at King's College London and has written a number of books about Ukraine and Russia and other Eastern European conflicts following the fall of the USSR. He is now a Senior Research Fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft where, on Thursday, he penned a quite welcome article on "How to get to a place of peace for Ukraine".

Lieven shares his deep expertise not only on that roadmap, and the hard, but necessary choices it'll require from Ukraine, Russia, the U.S., the EU and NATO, but also much more on how we got to this horrific place; what Putin really wants both on a macro historic level and out of this current conflict; what could happen if peace is not achieved; how this war is being understood by both average Russians, amid heavy-handed media restrictions, and those close to Putin; and whether Putin should be taken seriously regarding his recent, repeated, barely veiled threats of unleashing his nuclear arsenal.

We cover quite a bit of ground in this conversation, all of which is well worth tuning in for. But, just to cover a few of the key points from Lieven today...

On whether Putin is really hoping to brush back NATO's eastward expansion following the end of the Cold War or whether his attack on Ukraine is an attempt to prevent the threat posed by a prosperous, Western-leaning, market-based democracy in a neighboring, former Soviet county, Lieven believes it's the former. He explains that while Putin has been previously willing to accept some NATO expansion, he draws the line at border countries like Georgia and Ukraine, as would the U.S. if, for example, Mexico entered a military alliance with China.

"I think the reason so many people in America, in the West, in NATO" are now claiming this is about preventing a blossoming democracy on Russia's western border "is, basically, to cover their own tracks. They were warned, repeatedly, that this was going to lead to war. They didn't want to listen. And now, they're saying that it wasn't about NATO expansion because they don't want to acknowledge they were warned that this would lead to crisis," Lieven argues. "That doesn't, of course, excuse Putin's invasion. We don't know what's going on in Putin's head, but we do know what the Russians have said repeatedly for almost thirty years."

On Putin's claim that the invasion was meant to end an ongoing "genocide" and to "demilitarize and denazify Ukraine," Lieven scoffs, describing some of the realities about the limited reach of the ultra-nationalist Azov Movement in Ukraine. "This is absolutely grotesque Russian propaganda, colossally exaggerated," he says, adding that the accusation about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is Jewish and lost family members to the Nazis during WWII "is unspeakably mendacious and grotesque. This is not Nazi-ism and this is not genocide. That is a lie on a truly monstrous scale by Putin."

As to his proposed plan for peace, and the difficult choices that will come with it for many in the West, as he detailed yesterday at the Quincy Institute, it largely comes down to an agreement where Ukraine declares neutrality (not unlike Austria did in the 1950s), which means they won't join NATO, but they also won't join an alliance with the eastern military bloc either; ceding Crimea and the eastern Donbass regions held by Russia-backed separatists before the war to the Russians (though internationally-observed referendums should be held by the citizens of each region and territory gained during the current crisis would be returned to Ukraine), and all of the Western sanctions on Russia, both before and during the war would be lifted. There is, of course, a bit more to it, but that seems to be the general contours.

I ask if Putin would accept such an agreement and whether it would be seen as rewarding him for his aggression. "If what you really care about is ending the war and saving the lives of Ukrainians, and eliminating the threat of nuclear annihilation, people need to say just what is wrong with an agreement along these lines," Lieven answers. "If this were offered and the Russians then refused it, and introduced new demands, like replacing the Ukrainian government, then we would know that Putin's ambitions went much further. And that, of course, would be totally illegitimate and a peace agreement would be impossible. But we don't know that until that has been offered."

"In international affairs, alas, you always have to mix some combination of respect for international law with respect for realities on the ground if you're not prepared to fight," he tells me. Or, as he quotes Robert A. Lovett, U.S. Defense Secretary from 1951 to 1953, at the beginning of his article laying out this roadmap: "Forget the cheese --- let's get out of the trap."

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern on KBJ, the EPA, dark money in the federal judiciary and much more; Also: Latest good-ish news and bleak news out of Ukraine...
By Brad Friedman on 3/3/2022 6:34pm PT  

We continue the impossible balancing act on today's BradCast between coverage of the chilling news out of Ukraine and the somewhat less grim --- but still (mostly) grim --- news out of the federal judiciary in our own teetering democracy. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

FIRST, in our quick round-up of the latest developments in Russia's horrific assault against Ukraine:

  • Some good-ish news as the second round of peace talks results in a "possible temporary ceasefire" to establish humanitarian corridors in some areas of Ukraine to allow safe evacuation out of the country and for food and medical supplies to be brought in.
  • The UN says 1 million refugees have already fled Ukraine over the past week, a record for number to leave any nation that quickly this century. But, they warn, the number of displaced residents could rise to more than 4 million, and potentially as high as 10 million as the unspeakable violence continues.
  • More good-ish news in that the Pentagon has reportedly established a direct line of communication with the Russian defense ministry. The so-called "de-confliction line" has been established "for the purpose of preventing miscalculation, military incidents, and escalation," as AP is reporting.
  • The International Criminal Court is said to have opened an investigation into Russian war crimes and atrocities.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron, after a "not-so-friendly" call with Vladimir Putin, reports "the worst is yet to come" in the conflict.
  • According to its Mayor, Russian troops have finally taken control of a major city in Ukraine, the city of Kherson on the Black Sea near Crimea. Russian troops are said to be "laying siege" to the key nearby Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is pleading for more international assistance and calling on NATO to establish a no-fly zone over the country. That, however, would directly pull both U.S. and NATO into direct military conflict with Russia, sparking WWIII in the bargain.
  • And, in the U.S. House on Wednesday, a bipartisan, non-binding resolution "Supporting the people of Ukraine" and its sovereign territory, condemning Russia, was approved by an overwhelming 426 to 3 vote. The three members voting against were all Republicans: Reps. Paul Gosar of Arizona, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Matt Rosendale of Montana. The explanations from all three are appalling.

NEXT, it's back to U.S. news focused on the federal judiciary, with the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist at Slate, who, on the day that Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court back in January, told us that his "likely" successor would be Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Last week, she was nominated by President Biden to the High Court.

Among the many court-related matters discussed with Stern today (including several of them in a lightning round, as we tried to catch up with a boatload of news that has otherwise been overshadowed by the war in Eastern Europe)...

  • His thoughts on Judge Jackson, why he predicted back in January that she'd be nominated, what difference she can make on the GOP's stolen and packed Court, and what, if any, roadblocks may stand in the way of her confirmation as the first black woman to sit as a Justice.
  • This week's SCOTUS hearing on West Virginia v. EPA, a challenge by "red" states and the fossil fuel industry to President Obama's Clean Power Plan (which never went into effect) and Trump's subsequent program that replaced it (which was rolled back by the Court and also never went into effect). So why did the GOP's stolen and packed SCOTUS shock Court watchers by deciding to hear this case at all, since nobody has actually been harmed in any way? We discuss. But it's about not only gutting the EPA's statutory ability in the near future to regulate greenhouse gas emissions causing our deadly climate crisis, but also about undermining regulatory actions by all Executive Branch agencies (at least when a Democrat is in control of them.)
  • While the role of dark money in campaigns and elections is fairly well understood, how dark money affects appointments to the federal judiciary and the cases they hear is much less appreciated. Stern explains some of the many ways this has poisoned the U.S. judicial system.
  • Last week, SCOTUS turned away a challenge to Maine's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, filed by plaintiffs seeking a religious exemption. Why has the Court been allowing some state and local mandates to proceed, even without religious exemptions, while blocking others imposed by the Biden Administration? Stern explains.
  • Remember that 2018 decision by SCOTUS regarding a baker who didn't want to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple in Colorado? His bigotry was allowed, but for largely technical reasons. Now the Court has decided to hear yet another challenge to Colorado's anti-discrimination law from a woman who is considering expanding her web design business to create wedding sites. But, if she does, she doesn't want to create them for same sex weddings, in violation of CO's law. Stern explains that idiocy as well.
  • And, finally, in perhaps the most insane court story we discuss today, this one out of the far-right 5th federal Circuit. The lede from Stern's coverage at Salon this week should give you a taste of just how insane it actually is: "On Monday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stunning decision transferring control over the Navy’s special operations forces from the commander in chief to a single federal judge in Texas. The 5th Circuit’s decision marks an astonishing infringement of President Joe Biden’s constitutional authority over the nation’s armed forces, directing him to follow the instructions of an unelected judge—rather than his own admirals—in deploying [Navy] SEALs. High-ranking military personnel have testified under oath that this power grab constitutes a direct threat to the Navy’s operational abilities. As Russia invades Ukraine and declares a nuclear alert, Donald Trump’s judges are actively threatening America’s national security."

FINALLY, Desi Doyen joins us for an only slightly less insane Green News Report: On Biden's SOTU, on Russia's oil and gas industry getting pummeled because of its attack on Ukraine; and some VERY encouraging news about wind energy...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Special coverage with guests Heather Digby Parton of Salon and Richard 'RJ' Eskow of 'The Zero Hour'; Also: TX primary results, election probs...
By Brad Friedman on 3/2/2022 5:37pm PT  

"Democracies are rising to the moment," President Biden forcefully asserted during his first official State of the Union address on Tuesday night. "And the world is clearly choosing the side of peace and security." Is he right? We discuss that and much more on Biden's impossible address last night on today's BradCast.

Before we jump in, however, it was also Election Day in Texas on Tuesday, the nation's first primaries of the 2022 mid-term cycle. We briefly cover the reported results of the top-line races for Governor and Attorney General, as well as some interesting House races with progressive challengers on the Democratic side. There were also several curious anomalies we are looking into out Houston's Harris County, regarding the reported shutdown of some polling places to Democrats (and others, purportedly, shut down to Republican voters); some post-election squabbles on delayed results from the County, reportedly due to problems tallying long ballots on their new, 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems; and continuing concerns about thousands of rejected vote-by-mail ballots thanks to new restrictions on absentee voting enacted by the Republican lawmakers last year in the state's newly adopted SB1 law.

Our main focus today, of course, is on Biden's first SOTU. This one, amid a newly raging war on Ukraine, as the autocratic Russia continues its appalling attack on its democratic sovereign neighbor, and as the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday condemned Russia's aggression and atrocities by a lopsided 141 to 5 vote. There were 35 abstentions (including China) and support for Russia offered from Belarus, Cuba, North Korea and Syria.

As if Biden didn't already have enough to worry about with the continuing, if waning (for now), pandemic; an insurrectionist and obstructionist Republican Party; two obstructionist Democrats blocking the bulk of his domestic agenda; and both an opposition party and corporate media hell-bent on weaponizing predictable post-pandemic inflation, even amid a booming economy with growing wages, record corporate profits, record low unemployment, and the highest growth in GDP since the 1980s. All of which has resulted, reasonably or not, resulted in Biden's approval ratings plummeting in advance of this year's critical mid-terms.

Any one of those issues (and, yes, there are more!) would be enough for one State of the Union address. Biden, somehow, had to deal with them all on Tuesday night.

We're joined today for our special coverage by fellow longtime progressive troublemakers and muckrakers HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo and RICHARD 'RJ' ESKOW of The Zero Hour.

There is a lot to discuss today, as we break down key moments from Biden's remarks. But, just for a taste, while they both Parton and Eskow laud the President for rising to the moment and bringing the world together regarding Russia, on the domestic front, political trouble may loom.

"Democrats always have this problem," Parton notes. "The historical pattern here is clear. The Republicans come in and they wreck the place, and Democrats come in and have to clean up the mess. And in the first two years, it's really hard."

"He's not getting a break from the media," Eskow argues. "I think people are also terribly sick of COVID, and he's had to bow to that fatigue. On the grand scheme of things, the big lesson here is the limits of Presidential power, and the fact that he would love to be doing a lot more. Here's a man who spent 50 years running for President, now he's got it, and I feel sorry for him."

Did last night serve to help Biden and the Democrats change their trajectory as we head toward a mid-term election which the media continues to remind voters is (almost always) a historically difficult one for the party in power? Tune in for our special coverage and conversation on that and much, much more...

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And other troubling war news; Also: GOP Congressmembers speak at pro-Putin White Supremacist rally; Huge percentage of TX mid-term ballots rejected under new GOP absentee ballot restrictions...
By Brad Friedman on 3/1/2022 6:17pm PT  

Gotta keep this very brief as tonight's State of the Union address begins shortly (full coverage on tomorrow's BradCast), but the madness of Putin's war on Ukraine continues today, as some Republicans here at home seem to be rooting both for him and against democracy itself. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

We begin again today with coverage of the latest noteworthy news out of Russia/Ukraine, along with a few warnings about propaganda from all sides and the potential for erroneous reports amid the fog of war. Among the many stories covered today...

  • The office of the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy is reporting today that Russian bombs fell on Babi Yar, a Holocaust memorial site in Kyiv where some 34,000 Ukrainians were slaughtered by Nazis during one 48 period in 1941. The news offers a bizarre twist on the "denazification" that Vladimir Putin used as a phony pretext --- along with false claims of stopping a "genocide" --- when he launched his unprovoked attack on Ukraine last week.
  • Nearly 700,000 refugees have reportedly fled the country, with tens of thousands still trying to get out. But more than 40 million men, women and children remain, and are still facing bombardment while valiantly defending the country and its major cities. For now.
  • Swiss authorities report that the firm responsible for running the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany on behalf Gazprom, the Russia-controlled gas giant which owns the pipeline, have been laid off and the company overseeing the project is either in or near bankruptcy. That, after Germany stopped certification of the new pipeline as Russia launched its war last week and as sanctions have resulted in the pipeline firm being unable to pay its workers.
  • The International Energy Agency (IEA)'s 31 member countries, including the U.S., declared they will be releasing 60 million barrels of oil from strategic reserves in hopes of preventing global shortages and to ease the soaring price of crude. Knowing Big Oil and fossil fuel market speculators, its unlikely to have much effect. Though moving the world off of fossil fuels MUCH faster just might help!
  • In a kind of amazing story, a Russian government climate scientist publicly apologized to Ukrainian scientists over the weekend during the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)'s final session to complete the group's latest blockbuster report released on Monday. The Russian scientist offered his "apology on behalf of all Russians who were not able to prevent this conflict," adding that "all of those who know what is happening fail to find any justification for this attack against Ukraine."
  • Those remarks echo some points we tried to make on yesterday's BradCast in response to a few on the left (hopefully very few) who seem to be placing inappropriate blame on the U.S. and NATO for Russia's outrageous aggression and war crimes. While the U.S. and NATO have made a number of missteps since the fall of the Soviet Union, only Russia can be blamed for the deadly, unprovoked military assault now underway on an unthreatening neighboring sovereign nation. Here is a very short and helpful metaphor to help folks understand all of this, casting Ukraine as a woman trying to break up with her abusive ex.
  • And, while the fight for democracy overseas is at a perilous moment, the Republican Party here at home continues to have completely lost its way. (Or, maybe, has finally found it.) Far-right Congressmembers Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) both appeared at a white nationalist rally over the weekend, where the leader of the group praised their "secret sauce" of "young white men" as the crowd cheered for Putin just before MTG took the podium. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) condemned both of his colleagues on CNN on Sunday, noting, "I've got morons on my team." One of those morons, as we also discuss after playing some audio of his comments on the House floor today, is House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
  • It's mid-term primary Election Day in Texas today and, as we discussed last week with the President of the League of Women Voters of Texas, the state's new GOP-adopted voting restrictions are resulting in a huge percentage of absentee ballots being rejected --- nearly 30%, for example, in Houston's Harris County. By way of contrast, the last mid-term elections in Texas in 2018, saw a 1% rejection of vote-by-mail ballots statewide. Some late absentee voters may still have until March 7 to cure any ballot deficiencies if they can get to the County Clerk's office in person to do so.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen is here with our latest Green News Report, with more news on energy related sanctions and Russia; the disturbing new, 4,000 page IPCC report; and the U.S. Supreme Court's latest attempt to gut the EPA's statutory power to regulate deadly fossil fuel emissions...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: New IPCC Report warns we're out of time to adapt to climate change; SCOTUS aims to kill the EPA; Callers ring in on Russia/Ukraine horror...
By Brad Friedman on 2/28/2022 6:44pm PT  

It was a very lively BradCast today, even amidst horrible times. So there's that. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, Desi Doyen joins us for a too-brief summary of the latest report, issued today, by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), warning that the world is running out of time to prevent the worst effects of climate change and even our ability to adapt to it. The new report is almost 4,000 pages, but at least she gets several minutes to explain all of it!

Similarly, we briefly discuss oral argument at SCOTUS today in which the Republicans' stolen and packed Court majority has, virtually out of the blue, decided to hear a challenge to Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan, even though it was never even implemented. The point here, by the newly far-right Court, is clearly to gut the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s regulatory power, despite meeting their mandate for decades to institute regulations that protect the environment and Americans within it. This latest gambit by the Court is akin to their recent move that blocked OSHA's ability to regulate safety in the workplace with a vaccine mandate. Make no mistake: The U.S. Supreme Court is gutting Executive Branch agencies ability to do their job. It is the final step of the GOP's long effort to "deconstruct the administrative state," as many, such as Steve Bannon, have long vowed.

Next, it's on to the latest news in Russian President Vladimir Putin's horrific, appalling, inexcusable war on 41 million innocent men, women and children in Ukraine, after he issued yet another veiled threat over the weekend to use nuclear weapons.

On the upside, peace talks between Ukraine and Russia took place over the past 24 hours, and are on pause as the representatives from both sides take early results of discussions back to their capitals.

In the meantime, the world, at least the western world, continues to unify in opposition to Russia's aggression. The U.S. and 27 EU nations continue to institute more and more crippling financial sanctions against Russia, its banks, companies and oligarchs, despite the considerable costs that will be borne in response by those nations. Many of them, including the U.S. are also sending more weapons to help Ukrainians defend themselves from a slower-than-expected, but still very deadly, assault by Russia, including with the use of cluster munitions deployed to densely populated urban neighborhoods. Germany is upping its commitment to NATO. Finland is considering joining. Even Switzerland(!) has reversed decades of neutrality to freeze Russian assets. Oil companies BP and Shell have announced they are dumping their considerable stakes in Russia's state-owned oil and gas companies (though we're still waiting on Big Oil companies in the U.S. to do the same.) The NYSE and Nasdaq announced they are halting trading of Russian-owned companies.

Russia's appalling aggression has, it seems, united much of the free world against them. So why are there actually some on the American left --- the theoretically anti-war left --- who seem unable to condemn Russia for their unprovoked atrocities? Even some folks who listen to this program?

We have covered in detail many of the legitimate complaints Russia has long had against NATO and the U.S. We have long been, in fact, sympathetic to many of those complaints and have been critical of overly-hawkish Democrats (and Republicans). But when one nation launches a massive, deadly assault on a sovereign neighbor that posed absolutely no threat to them, all bets are off. Any benefit of doubt goes out the window. At least until they call off the attacks and withdraw their troops.

As we noted last week after Russia began their assault (and again on Twitter over the weekend) we oppose naked aggression by nuclear-armed superpowers, whether its the U.S. attacking Iraq or Russia attacking Ukraine. This is an easy call.

Nonetheless, we share some email today in response to that position (which seemed fairly uncontroversial, especially for a largely progressive audience) and open up the phone lines today to a bunch of callers to try and find out why some on the supposed "anti-war left" are having trouble with that idea.

Among today's lively discussions with callers, the truth about Russia's misleading claims about "denazifying" Ukraine (there is an ultra-nationalist faction there, but they have no seats in Parliament, and by the way, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish and lost several family members to Nazis during WWII) and one caller who simply can't even find it within himself to condemn Russia's horrific attack on 41 million innocent people in Ukraine. (Though, to be fair, I couldn't tell you if the caller is actually on "the left" or not)...

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The world protests, sanctions and rallies against Russia's unprovoked, 'barbaric', full-scale assault against sovereign Ukraine...
By Brad Friedman on 2/24/2022 6:17pm PT  

Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin falsely and repeatedly vowed that Russia had no intention or plan to invade Ukraine. Anyone who said otherwise was simply being "hysterical". As it turns out, those were all deadly lies, as we cover in detail on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

On Thursday, the unhinged Russian President Putin unleashed a brutal attack on the sovereign nation of Ukraine. Not just its eastern border region with Russia, but against the entire country, which is now under assault from the North, East and South. Putin chose the most aggressive possible option. The nation of Belarus joined him. There is nothing justifiable about his attack.

Before unleashing the assault, Putin offered this chilling warning: "Whoever tries to impede us, let alone create threats for our country and its people, must know that the Russian response will be immediate and lead to the consequences you have never seen in history.”

As we report today, from a myriad of legitimate and verified sources, thousands were arrested in Russia on Thursday for protesting in at least 52 cities against Putin's unprovoked war against its neighboring nation. The largest protests were in Moscow and in St. Petersburg.

Hundreds of Ukrainians have already been killed and injured in the attack over the past 24 hours, according to preliminary figures from Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday.

The world has begun to speak, largely in unison, against the hostility they described as "barbaric", by instituting severe sanctions against Russian banks and oligarchs and their family members.

President Biden explained the latest U.S. response today at the White House, ramping up previous sanctions. We share his clear-eyed remarks during today's program. He charged, in no uncertain terms, that "Putin is the aggressor" who "chose this war and will bear the consequences," while reiterating that U.S. forces will not be deployed to Ukraine. The U.S. President described Russia's actions as being "about naked aggression, about Putin’s desire for empire by any means necessary --- by bullying Russia’s neighbors through coercion and corruption, by changing borders by force, and, ultimately, by choosing a war without a cause." He asserted that "Putin's aggression against Ukraine will end up costing Russia dearly — economically and strategically" before concluding: "And in the contest between democracy and autocracy, between sovereignty and subjugation, make no mistake: Freedom will prevail."

But this is now an exceedingly dangerous tinderbox for the world.

We also share a number of other related events amid the new fog of a brutal new war, including an attempt by the Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.N. last night to call out the U.N. Security Council for allowing the Russian Federation, in 1991, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, to take over the permanent seat (and veto power) of the USSR on the Security Council without being properly certified under U.N. charters.

There is much more on today's program as we try to pull together many disparate threads and make some sense of all of this otherwise senseless violence by Vladimir Putin.

No, none of this was called for, despite what we have previously reported regarding various missteps taken by both the U.S. and NATO over the years.

We oppose Russian aggression, just as we oppose U.S. aggression. Today, it is Russia that has decided, to its shame, to become the aggressor in Europe.

Finally, we close today with our latest Green News Report, as Russia's war on Ukraine spikes global oil prices, along with recent moves by the U.S. fracking industry to curtail production in order to squeeze supply and increase their own profits. That, and much more on today's GNR...

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Guest: Author, journalist John Judis of TPM with 'A Dissenting View of US Policy toward Russia'; Also: Latest news on Ukraine; Good news on redistricting in PA, OH; Bad news for Trump criminal probe in NY?...
By Brad Friedman on 2/23/2022 5:48pm PT  

The bad news for democracy continues overseas on today's BradCast, but there is at least a bit of better news on that front back here at home. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

FIRST UP, the latest on the crisis in Eastern Europe: Ukraine declares a nationwide state of emergency; Russian troops are said to be "as ready as they can be" and "literally ready to go now, if they get the order to go," according to U.S. officials; Nancy Pelosi describes the Russia's aggression as "an attack on democracy'; China's U.N. ambassador seeks a diplomatic and peaceful solution for "safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states"; And a new AP polls finds little support among Americans for a "major role in the conflict" (though a "minor" one is much more popular.)

THEN, with that grim news for democracy overseas, some slightly better news back home. The GOP majority on the Ohio Redistricting Committee has, apparently, given up in their attempt to draw state legislative and U.S. House maps that they can live with and which meet the new requirements of both the state constitution and state Supreme Court. What that means for the future of those maps, with primary election deadlines drawing near in a close-divided if GOP-leaning state, is currently unknown. But it's likely not good new for Republicans who had hoped to continue their extreme gerrymanders of the past 10 years.

In the critical swing-state of Pennsylvania some (almost) unambiguously good news along these lines. After a standoff between the commonwealth's GOP state legislature and Democratic Governor, today PA's Supreme Court has selected a map to be used that is supported by Democrats, voting rights advocates and is seen as fair by political analysts, according to the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. The new map will combine two currently Republican U.S. House districts into one, to make up for PA's loss of a House seat following the 2020 census. That said, there is still an existing federal lawsuit against the new maps filed by a number of Republicans. And with the GOP's packed federal courts, anything could happen these days.

NEXT, it's back to Ukraine. Or, at least, U.S. foreign policy in Russia and Ukraine which our guest today, JOHN JUDIS, argues has helped lead to this moment of crisis and potential war for many years, not unlike other failures of U.S. foreign policy where America has failed to play the long game.

Judis is a journalist, author and Editor-at-Large for Talking Points Memo after spending two and a half decades at The New Republic. His latest book (his eighth), is The Politics of Our Time: Populism, Nationalism, and Socialism and his latest piece for TPM, which we discuss in detail today, is "A Dissenting View of US Policy toward Russia".

He details how the latest mess in Ukraine begins way back in the late 80s and early 90s and, like a number of similar U.S. foreign policy failures in recent decades, was based on the misguided theory "that as you become more capitalist, you become more democratic. This was an entirely abstract notion, not borne out by any particular experience, but more by a kind of millennial dream that Americans have had of a world transformation, of making the world like us. And it backfired."

Judis, who notes in his TPM piece that he both opposes Putin's "decision to dismember Ukraine" and supports "placing sanctions on Russia," nonetheless cites China, Iraq and now Russia/Ukraine in our conversation today as case studies where "we sort of get into these things willy-nilly. Where we start off, we're going to make things better and we end up with a big war."

Among the many related topics we delve into here: America's broken promise to prevent NATO from moving east toward Russia after the end of the Cold War; Putin's "designs on expansion" and whether expansion of NATO is really what's triggering him; Or is it fear of a prosperous democracy next door in a former Soviet state?; What was the real U.S. interest in the expansion of NATO? Was it security or a money machine for the arms industry?; And why has the U.S. so consistently failed to play the "long ball" game in so many of its foreign policy gambits?; Is declaring neutrality for Ukraine the best way out of this mess?; And why did Judis find it necessary to put forward a "dissenting view" to so many of the "foreign policy establishment types" receiving much of the airtime on American media outlets, arguing only on "a very narrow, tactical basis"?

As Desi notes after the discussion, you'll get a broad "history lesson" along with much more in today's conversation with Judis.

FINALLY, bad news in New York? It sure seems like it today. The New York Times broke the news this afternoon that the two lead prosecutor in the Manhattan D.A.'s criminal investigation of Donald Trump and his company have abruptly resigned. That, after a monthlong pause in what had previously been an accelerating investigation last month, and after the new D.A., Alvin Bragg, finally got fully up to speed after succeeding Cyrus Vance, Jr. at the end of last year. The Times reports that Bragg reportedly has "doubts about moving forward with a case against Mr. Trump." The new D.A.'s office, however, says that the investigation remains ongoing. There is still much unknown here, but the civil probe by NY's state Attorney General Letitia James, looking into many of the same alleged bank, tax and insurance fraud schemes by Trump and his company, continues to power forward, as does another lesser discussed criminal probe by the D.A. in New York's Westchester County...

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Guest: Grace Chimene, President, TX League of Women Voters on alarming mid-term primary ballot rejection rate; Also: Biden announces 'first tranche' of Russian sanctions in response to 'invasion'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/22/2022 6:22pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The greatest threat to autocracy is, of course, democracy. Which is why, I believe, Vladimir Putin is now threatening Ukraine and why Republicans in this country are (successfully) attacking the right to vote itself. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

On Ukraine today, we share the latest in the increasingly dangerous standoff that threatens to spark all out war in Eastern Europe, unlike anything seen since WWII. That, on the heels of Putin's increasingly militaristic and bellicose pronouncements and his unilateral declaration on Monday that two Russia-backed, separatist-controlled regions in the eastern part of Ukraine are now independent "republics" that Russian troops may enter (invade) at will, in defiance of international law.

In response to the increased aggression, and in hopes of staving off a full-scale invasion, the U.S. and some 27 European Union members have begun to institute a series of sanctions, including Germany's announcement that they are halting certification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, a lucrative project for Russia which they had spent years working to open.

In Washington today, President Biden offered brief remarks which we share, decrying the Russian President for "carving out a big chunk of Ukraine" in defiance of international law, even as Biden remains hopeful that diplomacy is still possible. At the same time, however, he announced what he described as the "first tranche" of economic sanctions against Russian financial institutions, as well as several elites and their family members, with much more to come if a full scale invasion is launched.

There is, of course, much discussion and debate about all of this, with experts and pundits choosing up sides and offering explanations for Putin's behavior. The U.S. and EU and NATO certainly play a part in this potentially lethal failure of post-WWII, post-Cold War European diplomacy. But the point for now that rings most true, at least to me, was cited today by the WaPo Editorial Board arguing that Putin's "true reason for targeting Ukraine is not Russian national security but to preserve his own power in Moscow, which would be threatened by a successful democratic experiment in a former Soviet republic of Ukraine’s size and cultural importance."

Yes, authoritarians hate democracy. It's as simple as that. Which is why we've seen, in this country of late, so many voter suppression laws adopted by GOP-controlled states in the wake of Donald Trump's loss in 2020 and his false, evidence-free claims that the election was stolen from him through some sort of "fraud".

We've covered --- and warned about --- the many new voting restrictions adopted by Republican-controlled states and legislatures since 2020 for months. Now we are finally seeing how those new suppression laws are having a direct and disastrous effect on actual elections, beginning with Texas, which is the first state to hold its primaries for the 2022 mid-terms, next Tuesday.

With new restrictions on absentee voting --- in one of the most difficult states to vote by mail already! --- an extraordinarily high percentage of absentee ballot applications have been rejected in recent weeks in the state's most populous counties. Many of the rejected applications --- more than 30% in Houston's Harris County --- were due to the new, and at times impossible, requirements to include identifying information that exactly matches that on the voter's record, even if they registered to vote decades ago and have no clue whether they included a drivers license number or a social security number or no number at all at the time.

But of those who are able to finally get an absentee ballot, the rejection rates, so far, of actual ballots in advance of next week's Election Day are stunning. 35% of ballots are being rejected in Harris County, the state's most populous (and most African-American); 26% of mail-in ballots in Dallas County; and 25% of ballots are being nixed in Collins County, just north of Dallas.

We're joined today by GRACE CHIMENE, President of the League of Women Voters of Texas, to explain what is going on in the Lone Star State; why it's going on; whether Republicans (whose voters are also being suppressed, if not in as large numbers) have any concerns about what is going on; and what, if anything, can be done about any of it in time for next Tuesday or, at the very least, before this November, when the number of voters --- and rejected applications and ballots --- will be much much higher unless the state's SB1 law is amended or blocked by the courts.

Chimene cites Texas officials who declared the 2020 election as "a very safe and secure election." Nonetheless, she notes, "the officials and the politicians who are writing these bills were the ones who won during the election. And it was safe and secure. So, really, I don't think they thought of this SB1 voter suppression bill, I don't think they thought of these ideas themselves. I think they came from someplace else and they were pushed out trying to meet somebody else's agenda of suppressing the vote even further here in Texas."

Election officials are now barred from informing eligible voters that they may vote by mail and, even when their applications or ballots are rejected, they are forced to be circumspect about why. Chimene explained that eventually officials were allowed to send a postcard to notify voters about rejected applications, but "what they don't tell them is where the mistake was in their application. They're not being told why the application was rejected, they're just notified that it was a rejected application." Notifying voters of rejected BALLOTS has been similarly fraught. "It's just a mess," the longtime non-partisan voting advocate tells us.

Chimene says that she "was hoping for some federal help, through federal legislation, such as updating the Voting Rights Act or the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, and it was so disappointing that that didn't happen." She calls out Texas Republicans for targeting voters and federal law enforcement for an inadequate response to it: "The issue is, who do they want to vote in the election, and how can they stop it? And it's just very disheartening to see this happening and that there's no help coming from the federal government."

What is now happening, in alarming numbers in Texas, Chimene explains, is "a way to stop people who have been voting for a very long time, very successfully, very securely and safely, and now they're unable to participate in the democracy. It's just bad news for democracy."

We seem to have quite a bit of that today...And not just in Texas...

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Also: Spotify's shame; Disgraced CO County Clerk to run for SoS; BRAD BLOG server failure; 13th Anniversary 'Green News Report'; MORE...
By Brad Friedman on 2/17/2022 6:05pm PT  

"If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?," Donald Trump used to repeatedly bellow at his campaign rallies. "It's disgraceful," he would tell his MAGA Mob over and over again in 2016. "Only the mob takes the Fifth!" All words that, we just have a feeling on today's BradCast, may soon come back to haunt the disgraced, twice-impeached former President. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

Trump, and his family, and his family business, are now just losing motion after motion, case after case in courts across the country. And the more the losers lose, the more they have to lose.

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

  • The BRAD BLOG web server was offline for much of the past 24 hours. We explain what happened and why we're likely gonna need to some shows off in the days ahead in hopes of finally fixing it. (And, yes, we could really use your help!)
  • Of course, if we had an obscene $200 million contract from Spotify (not just $100 million as previously reported), it might be much easier to fix it. But nobody is worth $200 million just to talk on air or on a webstream, no matter how important what they may have to say. But that's especially true for folks like Joe Rogan, who just fills the time with words --- entertaining or otherwise --- that may also have the affect of killing people. Moral of the pathetic Spotify/Rogan story: the company doesn't pay its musical artists nearly enough and, if they have that much extra money lying around to blow on one guy to help spread deadly misinformation, they are also definitely not paying enough in taxes.
  • As to our loser former President and his loser family, Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka and son Don Jr. lost bigly in New York court on Thursday, where a judge ordered them to answer questions under oath within the next 21 days from state Attorney General Letitia James. She is investigating the family and their business for very clear evidence of years of bank, tax and insurance fraud. Their gambit to sue to the AG to avoid sitting for a deposition has failed and each of them may well consider pleading the Fifth very soon. Ya know, like the mob does.
  • The news was no better for Trump in his hopes of avoiding accountability regarding the insurrection he incited last year on January 6th, in his last desperate bid to steal the 2020 election. On Wednesday, President Biden and the White House counsel rejected Trump's attempt to invoke Executive Privilege to block White House visitor logs from January 6th, 2021.
  • And, also in D.C. this week, the Attorney General there had another victory in court over the Mob Family Trump, when a federal judge allowed him to restore the Trump Organization back into his lawsuit regarding millions of dollars that Trump and his family and his Trump Organization appear to have unlawfully stolen from the non-profit Presidential Inauguration Committee back in 2017. In a stunning ruling by a different judge last year, the company had been released from the lawsuit. But D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine brought evidence to the Court revealing that the unspeakably cheap and greedy Trump Organization inappropriately billed the Committee for about $50,000 in Inaugural weekend hotel rooms that they never ended up using. We explain the sleazy backstory.
  • In somewhat similarly amusing news, out in Colorado, the very Trumpy disgraced and recently arrested Mesa County Clerk, Tina Peters has now declared her intention to run for Secretary of State! Her backstory of recent disgraces --- apparently helping to steal and distribute proprietary voting system software after sneaking into a secure warehouse and turning off security cameras in the middle of the night; being relieved of her duties and barred from overseeing her county's election by a state judge; being investigated for election-related crimes by local, state and federal prosecutors; and being hilariously arrested last week for refusing to turn over evidence that she violated a judge's order by video-taping a court proceeding (among other stuff) --- should make her a top-notch candidate to win the GOP primary for the state's top election official this year! That, even as state Republicans are pretending as if they'd really rather she didn't run at all.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our 13th Anniversary Green News Report! Despite almost certainly being the nation's longest-running bi-weekly national broadcast devoted to coverage of our climate crisis, the news on that front continues get largely worse, not better, as revealed again in today's episode. Though, as usual, there is also a bit of very good news on that front to help the medicine go down a bit easier...

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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...

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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...

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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!...

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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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