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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, October 25, 2021
Sunday Spooky Toons
Be very afraid. Just in time for the holiday...It's PDiddie's latest collection of the week's scariest editorial toons...
Anita Hill Still Changing the World, 30 Years Later: 'BradCast' 10/22/21
Guest host Nicole Sandler with author, lawyer, Brandeis University professor Anita Hill...
The Good with the Bad: 'BradCast' 10/21/21
House holds Bannon in contempt; TX Lt. Gov. pays out for GOP voter fraud; CA GOP's recall boondoggle; Vets dump Sinema; Manchin could dump Dems; TX steals minority House seats; IL boosts Dems (a little)...
'Green News Report' 10/21/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
We're making too much fossil fuel; Climate change imperils millions, study finds; CA expands drought emergency; PLUS: Cutting emissions is hard, but will lower energy bills...
Previous GNRs: 10/19/21 - 10/14/21 - Archives...
'A One-Way Ratchet': Biden's SCOTUS Comm. Does GOP's Bidding: 'BradCast' 10/20/21
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: 'Contempt' for Bannon; Manchin, Sanders in talks; GOP Senate blocks voting rights again...
'Despair is Not an Option' After Manchin Tanks Biden's Central Climate Plan: 'BradCast' 10/19/21
Guest: UCSB's Dr. Leah Stokes; Also: 'Mass homicide' allegations for Brazil's Bolsonaro...
'Green News Report' 10/19/21
Manchin blows up Biden's climate agenda; EPA to crack down on PFAS; Million of polluting, abandoned U.S. wells; PLUS: McDonald's finally going beyond meat...
Listeners on Whether Ds Should Gerry-mander 'Blue' States: 'BradCast' 10/18/21
Also: How the unvaxxed helped kill Colin Powell; How Manchin is killing Biden's climate change plan...
Sunday 'Democracy's Boundaries' Toons
PDiddie draws a few lines in his latest collection of the week's best toons...
Why Dems Should Gerrymander 'Blue' States (& Why They Shouldn't): 'BradCast' 10/15
Guest: FairVote's Dave Daley; Also: Freedom to Vote in the Senate; GOP physics in VA...
'Green News Report' 10/14/21
Supply chain disruptions spike energy prices; Russia says they didn't do it!; CA bans gas-powered leaf blowers; PLUS: Biden Admin goes big on offshore wind...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 10/21/2021 11:05am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Fossil fuel production 'dangerously out of sync' with global climate targets, U.N. warns; Failure to act on climate change imperils millions of lives, new report finds; California expands emergency drought declaration; PLUS: New study finds cutting U.S. emissions is difficult, but doable, and will lower consumers' energy bills... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

GNR's now celebrating 12 YEARS of independent green news, politics, analysis, snarky comment and connecting climate change dots over your public airwaves!
PLEASE CLICK HERE TO HELP US CELEBRATE WITH A DONATION!

Click here to listen or download MP3 (6 mins)...

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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): What if Build Back Better builds back worse?; Summer 2021 sets new high for average land temperature; If the U.S. spends big on climate, the rest of the world might follow; COP26: Document leak reveals nations lobbying to change key climate report; Is the UK's green plan enough to halt climate change?; Wildland firefighters struggle with homelessness; Wildfire smoke harms more people in the Eastern U.S. than in the West; How big chemical companies avoid paying for pollution... PLUS: Dammit, coal is back... and much, MUCH more! ...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Guest: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern; Also: 'Contempt' for Bannon; Manchin, Sanders in talks; GOP Senate blocks voting rights again...
By Brad Friedman on 10/20/2021 6:51pm PT  

On today's BradCast: President Biden has, thankfully, edged toward the left on a number of things during his candidacy and Presidency to date. Reforming the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court, however, at least for now, does not appear to be one of those things. At least if the findings of his blue ribbon Commission of academics studying potential reforms is any indication.

But first up today, several quick updates on a number of stories we've been covering of late...

  • On Tuesday night, shortly after we got off air, the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Trump-incited January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol voted unanimously to hold Steve Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to answer their subpoena for documents and testimony. A vote on the resolution by the full House is scheduled for Thursday and, if adopted (as expected), a referral for criminal prosecution will be sent to the DoJ. Bannon could face as much as a year in prison. But it was remarks by Committee member Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) before Tuesday's vote that jumped out: "Mr. Bannon's and Mr. Trump's privilege arguments do appear to reveal one thing. They suggest that President Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of January 6, and this Committee will get to the bottom of that." If I was Trump, I'd take Cheney at her word. Bannon's future could also be Trump's.
  • There was additional encouraging news from Congress on Tuesday night, as outlets are reporting that obstructionist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) are now in direct talks on Biden's Build Back Better Act and that they hope to reach a deal on a path forward for the once-and-hopefully-still transformative social safety net and climate change bill by week's end. Manchin, as we discussed on yesterday's show, has apparently already gutted the legislation's central climate change provision, and is sure to force the removal of many other wildly popular provisions before all is said and done. But negotiation, in theory, means progress. And progress moving toward passage of the Biden agenda is better than the stalemate of recent weeks. One Senator quoted by The Hill describes the news as a "breakthrough". We'll see.
  • And, in one other Congressional story today with the tiniest ray of sunshine attached to it, Republican Senators on Wednesday once again filibustered to prevent passage of the Manchin-approved Freedom to Vote Act, a transformative elections and voting rights bill that is desperately needed to counteract the anti-democracy and voter suppression laws being adopted by state Republicans around the nation in advance of 2022 and 2024. It's the third time Republicans have blocked Democrats' attempt to move to debate on their voting rights bill. The ray of sunshine here is that Sen. Angus King (I-ME), one of the other holdouts against the filibuster reform that is needed to pass the Act with a simple majority, now says he has "concluded that democracy itself is more important than any Senate rule." Let's see if Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) get the message any time soon enough to reform the filibuster to pass legislation in hopes of actually saving democracy from the rising Authoritarian Front (GOP).

Then, we're joined by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, Slate's ace legal reporter and U.S. Supreme Court expert, to discuss the draft report issued late last week by President Biden's blue ribbon panel of academics --- with remarkably little coverage by the corporate media --- on potential reforms for SCOTUS following its years-long bastardization and theft by the Republican Party.

The bipartisan Commission, created by the President in April with a mandate to study potential reforms for six months before issuing a report but not to offer formal recommendations, for some reason). They were tasked with studying the pros and cons of possible changes such as expanding the number of seats on the high court and/or the creation of term limits for Justices. The panel was comprised of 36 academics and Courts experts who, according to Stern, included "a lot of conservatives" with a number of "so-called liberals" who were "mostly moderates and institutional liberals who have a vested interest in a Supreme Court that looks favorably upon them. If you survey it all together, you see what is basically a faculty meeting of moderates and conservatives, with a few token liberals, none of whom were happy with this draft report. None of which is a recipe for any kind of real, meaningful reform."

"Notably," Stern observes, "not a single person added to the Commission had ever endorsed serious Court reform in the past, [while] there were many people who had said that they opposed Court expansion. So in some ways, this Commission was maybe rigged from the start."

While the deck was stacked against Court expansion, the idea of term limits didn't fair all that much better, according to Stern, who cites an obsession by the panel's members with what other nations might learn from a partisan restructuring of the U.S. Supreme Court. That said, as Stern notes, "we are the only country in the world that gives lifetime tenure to our judges and justices. It is obviously a huge mistake. But the committee comes from the perspective that it is basically a great idea and anyone who criticizes it bears a heavy, heavy burden of proving that it would make things better."

He charges that the panel appeared to be essentially "governing out of fear" and that its draft report "projects the worst possible outcome and says, 'We think this is what's going to happen so we shouldn't even risk it.'"

While the Commission's draft argues that America must be mindful that we are "a leader to the rest of the world," Stern notes, "this report does not even begin to grapple with the fact that no other country, except arguably India, gives its high court nearly as much power as we do. No European nation gives its high court the unfettered ability to veto all legislation. No other nation - not Israel, not Chile or Argentina, not Mexico, not Canada --- none of them allow the court to simply smack down any kind of legislative action that it deems to be violative of the Constitution. That's not how judicial review works anywhere else."

"If these scholars took a look around," he argues, "they would realize that other countries have decided our system doesn't work too well, that they want to do something different. I think there's a lot of merit to that, and I find it very disappointing that they don't even grapple with that."

Of course, he has many more observations, including on what appears to be a "one-way ratchet" where the panel cites public opinion polls as a reason to oppose Court expansion, while ignoring the "overwhelming" public polling from across the entire political spectrum favoring term limits and opposing lifetime appointments for U.S. judges and justices. "Giving anyone that much power for so long is just objectively crazy." The draft report also includes a number of flat-out lies and tries to "lay equal blame at the feet of both parties" for the crisis of public confidence, unprecedented in modern times, now befalling SCOTUS. Stern hopes that some of the Commission's liberals, such as the NAACP's Sherilyn Ifill, may correct the record before their final report is issued and used by Republicans for eternity to claim that "Even Joe Biden's court commission opposes term limits!"

Finally, in our closing few minutes, Stern explains the pathetic roller coaster legal rulings that have allowed Texas' new anti-abortion law, S.B.8, to stay in place for now, despite its clear violation of decades of 'Roe v. Wade's legal precedent, and the terrifying ease with which the GOP's stolen and packed Supreme Court is preparing to overturn that and other long-settled precedents.

"You should be terrified," he warns. "We should all be terrified. And we should all be aware that if we choose not to expand the Court, that we are going to have to live with this current conservative super-majority for years, if not decades."

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Climate researcher Dr. Leah Stokes of UCSB; Also: Brazil's Bolsonaro facing charges of 'mass homicide' for COVID mismanagement...
By Brad Friedman on 10/19/2021 6:30pm PT  

We've been cautiously hopeful for months on The BradCast about President Biden's landmark plan to replace fossil fuel power generation at the nation's utility companies with clean renewable electricity in his Build Back Better (BBB) Act. Those hopes came crashing down on Friday night when the New York Times reported the White House was redrawing its expansive social safety net and climate change reconciliation budget package to remove the landmark Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP) at the insistence of Democratic coal country Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. [Audio link to full show is posted at bottom of this summary.]

The program had been the centerpiece for Biden's vow to reach an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity sector by 2030, towards the goal of net zero emissions economy-wide by 2050. That was to have been accomplished with the key provisions of the CEPP's carrot and stick approach, offering major financial incentives to utilities for moving quickly to clean energy and financial penalties for those who did not. As climate and energy reporter David Roberts explained on this program over the summer, along with incentives to encourage the move to electric vehicles and the electrification of buildings in the Biden agenda, the result of the CEPP would have been a major cut in emissions over all, as those polluting sectors were also moved onto a newly clean electric grid.

Alas, Manchin, who makes millions of dollars from the fossil fuel industry --- both to his personal pockets and campaign coffers --- will reportedly have none of it. That leaves the White House and climate hawks now scrambling to figure out alternative ways to cut deadly greenhouse gasses fueling our climate crisis just weeks before the next U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, when the Administration had hoped to showcase the effort and call for similarly decisive climate action from other nations.

We're joined today by DR. LEAH STOKES, climate researcher and political scientist at UC Santa Barbara, following her testimony to the Joint Economic Committee in Congress last month on the necessity of the electrification of American homes and buildings, to curb fossil fuel usage, improve the health of Americans ("Children growing up in a home with a gas stove have a 42% increased chance of having asthma," she notes) while creating millions of good new jobs.

Stokes, ironically enough, is now literally on the edge of another major climate change-fueled wildfire in the canyons above Santa Barbara. "Yes, it was a bit of tragic symbolism that when the news was breaking that Manchin would not go for the most important part of the climate package, that we had a fire once again in Santa Barbara burning away," she tells us, before adding the encouraging news that the Alisal Fire is now mostly under control after scorching nearly 20,000 acres and burning several homes and buildings.

"In the Build Back Better Act, there are investments to help people transition and switch out gas stoves and gas furnaces for these kinds of new technologies --- induction stoves, heat pumps, etc.," Stokes explains. "Were that policy to make it through Congress, it would deliver some help for people to change to these kinds of new, cleaner technologies."

Of course, the question is what, if anything, will survive the approval of fossil fuel fan boy Manchin in the BBB. As Stokes details: "Within that package, there was supposed to be a really big chunk, $670 billion, for climate investments. That would be the biggest investment we have ever made in climate action. Unfortunately, $150 billion of that money, about 25% of it, was going to be for the Clean Electricity Performance Program," she says. "So the question is how can we ensure that we are still spending that $670 billion? How can we make sure that we have every dollar for climate spending, and we go and try to find every single ton of carbon pollution that we can cut?"

That, of course, is the question of the hour. "The thing about climate change is that we have to actually take it on at the scale that it's necessary. We can't say 'Well, we did two-thirds of it, and that was good enough.' We have to limit warming to 1.5 degrees [above the pre-industrial global average]. That's what scientists have told us we have got to do, and that means we have to cut carbon pollution by 50% this decade. That's what President Biden has pledged to do. But unless we fill the hole left by the Clean Electricity Performance Program, we're not going to deliver on that pledge."

So how can it and will it be done? The White House claims they have alternative ideas. But will they meet Manchin's demands? We discuss. Stokes also responds to Manchin's supposed reasons for objecting to the CEPP --- because it jeopardizes "America's energy independence" and because the government is not needed to pay for efforts that private utilities are already taking on --- detailing why both of those claims are simply nonsense.

"The $150 billion, which was about 25% of the carbon cutting investments in this package, that has got to go towards other programs," Stokes insists. "We can't just say, 'Well, we're going to magically find all these ways to cut carbon pollution for free. No. We need to have investments at the scale of the crisis. There can be other ways to cut carbon pollution, but they need to have real investments behind them. We cannot cut a dollar of the climate spending."

The ever-optimistic Stokes talks me off the ledge by noting that while none of this will be easy, "despair is not an option". She urges listeners to visit Call4Climate.com to help reach your members of the House and Senate, with a useful script to help pressure members to do the right thing for the planet, for humanity, and, if nothing else, for each and every family who will now face the ever increasing costs and dangers of our climate crisis.

"People should not lose hope. They should not feel like this is not a meaningful package, that we're not going to deliver on climate. We are," Stokes maintains. "We just need to make sure that the White House does not cut a dollar of spending, and that they make sure that they're going to make up for the lost pollution cuts from removing the Clean Electricity Performance Program...This is a really transformative bill. It's very close to passage, and people should keep the pressure up."

Next up today, some breaking news out of Brazil, where a Congressional panel there is set to recommend "mass homicide" and "genocide" charges against its very Trumpy President, Jair Bolsonaro, for his deadly mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic. Even if you don't follow Brazilian politics, you'll find the reasons for the panel's recommendations sound incredibly familiar, including Bolsonaro's unscientific recommendations for the use of hydroxychloroquine and the horse de-worming drug Ivermectin to prevent and treat COVID, his failure to deliver vaccines to the public, and his (an his sons') creation of disinformation networks to discourage masking and social distancing. Ya know, the same stuff that has resulted in wingnut radio host Dennis Prager, here in the U.S. this week, contracting COVID, after more than 700,000 have died from the disease in the U.S., many, just like in Brazil, unnecessarily due to the criminal negligence of our own former President. When will Congress recommend criminal charges against him for the very same thing?

Finally, just in case you didn't get enough environmental news (and worries) on today's program, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with at least one or two news items that may help you (and me) rethink the idea of throwing ourselves off a bridge...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 10/19/2021 11:19am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin throws a hand grenade into Biden's climate agenda; Biden EPA to crack down on PFAS 'forever chemicals'; U.S. could have as many as 3.4 million polluting abandoned oil and gas well; PLUS: McDonald's finally to offer customers meat-free plant-based options (some of them, anyway)... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

GNR's now celebrating 12 YEARS of independent green news, politics, analysis, snarky comment and connecting climate change dots over your public airwaves!
PLEASE CLICK HERE TO HELP US CELEBRATE WITH A DONATION!

Click here to listen or download MP3 (6 mins)...

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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): It’s easy to feel pessimistic about the climate. But we’ve got two big things on our side; Satellites Reveal The Secrets Of Water-Guzzling Farms In California; Amid Massive Roundup Cancer Suits, Migrant Farmworkers Are Left Out; Environmentalists Secure Water Rights For Great Salt Lake; Russia Allows Methane Leaks At Planet’s Peril; COP26 in Glasgow: Who Is Going And Who Is Not?... PLUS: How Industrial Chicken Production Is Breeding The Next Pandemic... and much, MUCH more! ...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Also: How the unvaxxed helped kill fully-vaxxed Colin Powell; And how Manchin is killing Biden's landmark plan to take on the climate crisis...
By Brad Friedman on 10/18/2021 6:20pm PT  

Most of the callers to today's BradCast were in favor of it, though a few were opposed and explained why. But, since many of our callers come from Dem-leaning Southern California, we stacked the deck a bit against our own "yes" position when it came to the callers we brought on the air in our limited time. Seemed only fair. [Audio link to full show is posted at the end of this summary.]

First up, however, a few quick thoughts on today's death of 84-year old, fully-vaccinated Republican former Secretary of State and Chair of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell. Though he (sort of) apologized for it and tried to make good in other ways, it's still difficult for me to shake his infamous presentation of lies at the U.N., falsely claiming that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. That presentation, which he later described as a "blot" on his career, arguably sealed the deal in favor of the U.S. going to war in Iraq. But our focus today is on those who are dishonestly using his COVID-related death to claim vaccines don't work. That is a lie that conveniently avoids the fact that Powell was battling multiple myeloma (a form of blood cancer) which greatly reduces the strength of ones immune system and is known to make vaccines less effective. It was, in fact, those who failed to get inoculated from COVID who helped kill Powell. We explain the facts and the math.

Next, before opening the phones to today's main topic, a few words on the news that broke late on Friday, reporting that the White House is now rewriting their sweeping Build Back Better budget reconciliation bill to not include the critical, landmark Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP) that was designed to provide financial incentives to utility companies to quickly transition from dirty fossil fuel use to clean, renewable energy. It also levied financial penalties on those power companies who failed to do so. The program was at the heart of the Biden Administration's climate plan and its vow to reduce dangerous greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity sector 80% by 2030, to reach net-zero in that sector by 2035, and to reach net-zero emissions economy-wide by 2050. If Friday's reports are accurate, the rewrite is a major blow to those plans and comes at the insistence of Coal Country West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, whose family has made a fortune on fossil fuels in the state. He also receives huge campaign funding from the fossil fuel industry. We discuss this troubling news with Desi Doyen and hope to have more on tomorrow's BradCast.

Then, we pick up the debate we left off at from last Friday's show with gerrymandering expert David Daley of FairVote.org. Daley literally wrote the book on the GOP's extreme partisan gerrymandering scheme after the 2010 Census and warns that it's about to get much worse as Republican state redistricting gets underway following the 2020 Census, particularly in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court gutting the Voting Rights Act to allow even more extreme partisan gerrymanders in even more states.

Despite the fact that, as Daley warned on the show last week, Republican state gerrymanders, on their own, will cost Dems control of the House even if America votes as it did in 2020 (when Dem House members received almost 5 million more votes than Republicans), he made the argument against Democratic states instituting similar extreme partisan gerrymanders in response.

As I explained on Friday, after many months of torturous consideration, I now favor Dem state gerrymanders to counter the Republicans in hopes of saving democracy itself in the bargain. It's an argument I hate making as a longtime election integrity and democracy champion, but I explain again today why the rising, anti-democracy Authoritarian Front (GOP) has changed my thinking as of now --- at least in lieu of passage of the Freedom to Vote Act by Congress, which would ban partisan gerrymandering in all 50 states.

Before we open the phones to listeners to hear their opinions on this contentious matter, we share Daley's argument explaining why he opposes Dem gerrymanders, along with my own, as I now advise against unilateral disarmament by the Democratic Party. All of which, of course, is only necessary right now, thanks to good ol' Joe Manchin's opposition to reforming the filibuster in order to pass the Freedom to Vote Act, a sweeping and long overdue election reform and voting rights measure --- actually designed by Manchin himself --- which would, among many other things, ban partisan gerrymanders all together.

As noted, while the majority of our callers were in favor of my position here, we tried to put a bit of a thumb on the scale for those who opposed it, so we could hear out "both sides" as best as possible on today's program. And, yes, we will continue this discussion in the days and week's ahead, as the redistricting fights get underway in earnest, and while the GOP has left survival of American democracy itself hanging by a thread...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Philly Inquirer's Will Bunch; Also: Idaho's Lt. Guv may be insane --- or maybe just a Republican...
By Brad Friedman on 10/6/2021 5:52pm PT  

Something not terrible actually happened in D.C. today! We celebrate at the top of today's BradCast! [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Faced with the likelihood of the U.S. defaulting on its debts in a matter of days for the first time in American history (and being blamed for the economic devastation that would go with it), or otherwise facing the possibility that Democrats would be forced to reform the filibuster to allow a carve out for raising the debt ceiling, Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans blinked today. They have now agreed to call off their filibuster to allow Democrats to raise the debt ceiling by themselves, if only for about two months. That's okay. It's a clear win for the Dems, whose unwillingness to back down to the GOP's economic terrorism and weaponization of the need to borrow money to pay for stuff that Congress (including Republicans!) have already bought, has paid off. It has also revealed McConnell's bluff. Something to keep in mind the next time this comes up again in December. We explain.

It also means that Congressional Dems can now focus on passage of their Build Back Better agenda, specifically, their transformative and long-overdue expansion of healthcare, education, child care and the first real attempt to take on climate change in their proposed $3.5 trillion bill that would spend $350 billion a year over the next ten years. That's not a lot of money, in truth, for the U.S. Government. The Treasury Department may take in $300 billion in tax revenue on any given single day. Not to mention, the entire bill, as proposed, is paid for with a small tax increase on corporations and the wealthy. But that hasn't prevented Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and his sidekick Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) from pretending that the implementation of wildly popular progressive programs --- which the Democratic President actually ran and won on --- will lead to an "entitlement society".

Amid the negotiations over the final price tag of the Build Back Better Act, Manchin has been demanding "means testing guardrails" on all new family and health related programs. What does that mean, exactly? If only Americans below a certain income are allowed, for example, to enjoy the two free years of pre-K and community college included in the Democratic proposal, why not impose such conditions on the rest of our public education system? "Once we’re means-testing pre-K," The Prospect's Harold Meyerson recently observed in response to Manchin's demands, "it’s hard to see why governments at all levels don’t means-test K itself, not to mention K-12."

The Philadelphia Inquirer's longtime national columnist WILL BUNCH describes "means testing" in his newsletter this week as "two dirty words for America's middle class" and "the two most insidious and abused words in American politics." He joins us today to explain why that is and what other, alternate, betters ways their may be to meet the seemingly intractable (and dumb) demands from Manchin and Sinema that the Democrats' fully-paid-for bill be scaled back from it's current price tag.

"When means testing is applied," Bunch explains, "the reality is, what you're really doing is reducing the size of the program, so you're reducing the amount of money that needs to be raised to pay for the programs, which means you're reducing the amount that taxes would be increased on these wealthy people and on these corporations, who happen to be Joe Manchin's patrons."

"What really happens is that people who are entitled to these programs don't get the benefits because of means testing," he argues, "because it creates all kinds of bureaucratic hoops. The more you make them jump through hoops, the more you heighten the feeling of stigma that some people feel about getting government aid, they just say 'forget it' and give up. So the utilization rate of these programs --- they find that usually a quarter of the people eligible for these programs don't take advantage of them for reasons like that."

But, he says, it's also simply about money. "Let's focus on what's really going on here. They're really trying to squeeze every dollar to not go to middle class and working class families. And all those dollars that they squeeze, they go into bigger tax cuts for billionaires and corporations," who, unlike middle-class tax-payers, do not face such means testing for benefits they enjoy. "It's like reverse means-testing! The more means you have, the more we're going to bend over backwards to cut your taxes!"

We discuss all of that and more --- including the Rolling Stones concert that Bunch went to this week in Pittsburgh. Yes, I'm jealous!

Finally, as crazy and dangerous as the Republican Party has become in recent years, a number of its elected officials are apparently set on pushing the envelope to new standards of insane behavior...even if it means taking on fellow elected Republican officials, as the Lt. Governor of Idaho has done this week --- once again --- while the state's Republican Governor was out of town on state business. Yes, the madness continues on today's BradCast. We do our best to keep up with it...

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Bill to keep U.S. government open (for two more months) gets passed, but the three more difficult and critical bills remain blocked by obstructionists with economic disaster and Biden agenda hanging in the balance...
By Brad Friedman on 9/30/2021 6:46pm PT  

Hopefully today's BradCast is at least slightly less chaotic than Capitol Hill right now. We do our best to help you make sense of the Democrats' attempts to move four critical bills through to law, as they all come due at about the same time, and all must overcome obstructionists from both the Right and the Left. One bill today, has made it through. The fates of the other three --- and those of the nation, the economy, the Presidency and the Democrats --- are less than clear at this hour.

Among the stories covered, discussed, referenced and/or ranted upon on today's program...

  • We start with some listener email in response to our interview last week with NASA climate scientist Dr. Peter Kalmus, who argues that our planet's climate emergency is far worse and more immediate than many other climate scientists are willing to say. Emailer RC concurs, and explains why current plans to curb carbon emissions by both the US and EU are not nearly enough to meet the moment, and entirely unfair to the rest of the world.
  • With those thoughts underscoring much of the rest of our coverage today, we move to the ongoing mess in D.C., where Dems must pass four different pieces of critical legislation in the next few days and/or weeks for various critical reasons. One is a bill to keep the government open and operating after midnight tonight. After a Republican filibuster and a decoupling of that measure from the lifting of the debt ceiling before the government runs out of the ability to borrow money on October 18, the bill to keep the government open was passed by both chambers today (and signed by the President tonight). That Continuing Resolution will keep the government operating until December 3rd, when this ridiculousness will happen again, and Republicans are sure to create still more chaos and uncertainty...just because they can. Their filibuster of raising or suspending the debt ceiling, however, continues to march toward fiscal calamity [PDF] and deep recession as of October 18, unless they relent or Dems come up with some other idea.
  • As we went to air today, it was still unclear whether a vote would be held in the House on the bipartisan $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill, which all Democrats in both chambers agreed to couple for passage with the much larger, very popular $3.5 trillion Build Back Better social spending and climate change bill that encompasses the bulk of the Biden agenda. At least it had been coupled until a small handful of shameless corporatist Dems in the House and Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema in the Senate reneged on the original agreement. Now, they are trying to force Pelosi into calling a vote on the smaller bill, which was already passed by the Senate, and which House progressives have vowed to vote against unless the larger bill is adopted along with it. And though we hadn't seen anyone else make this point before airtime (Josh Marshall mentions it tonight), while House Repubs have been whipping against the smaller bill in the House, if they really wanted to muck things up for the Dems, they could vote in favor of the measure that many of their Republican colleagues in the Senate have already approved. That would replace the votes of the objecting progressives and remove pretty much all of the leverage they currently have to force passage of the larger reconciliation bill. So don't tell Republicans.
  • The log jam on that larger bill, of course, has been Manchin and Sinema. And while neither Democratic Senator had made their objections to the measure particularly clear --- other than they didn't want to spend that much money (even though, unlike the deficit spending of the bipartisan infrastructure bill they supported, the larger one is actually paid for with tax increases on corporations and the wealthy!) --- at least Manchin was open to negotiation. Sinema, who is a terrible person, has said she wouldn't negotiate on the larger bill at all until the smaller one was passed. That is, apparently, still her position. But as of shortly before air today, we now know a bit more about Manchin's position. That, based on a bullet-point memo [PDF] obtained by Politico, which he gave to Chuck Schumer in late July, detailing his demands. Among them, the bill can't spend more than $1.5 trillion, and the coal state Senator (whose family makes millions on fossil fuel extraction each year) really really wants to undermine the critical climate components at the heart of the Biden agenda. We discuss.
  • While Democrats are trying to move their wildly popular agenda forward, despite the obstructionism from both the Right and Left, Republicans and their media machine are busy lying to the public about the effort. We do our part to correct the record today with more information on what Democrats are actually hoping to do --- so you can help be the media and counter the rightwing lies on social media and elsewhere. (Pretty please?) Among those lies, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) offered a whopper today, describing the Biden agenda as "Marxism" on Twitter. And fake news site Newsmax is lying to their gullible viewers about the bipartisan infrastructure bill including an 8-cent per mile "driving tax". It doesn't. We try and help correct the record on both scores.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report. Today, we have yet another California utility company coughing up billions to settle with residents after their negligence led to disaster following the largest methane leak in U.S. history; New polling finds a dramatic spike in concern among a majority of Americans regarding our climate crisis; And another major automaker makes another major bet on our electric vehicle future...

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Guest: ACLU policing expert Carl Takei; Also: Sinema tanking Dems' Build Back Better agenda; Trumpworld circulates fake AZ 'audit' report...
By Brad Friedman on 9/29/2021 6:38pm PT  

On today's BradCast: MAGA dead-enders have found a way to continuing pretending the 2020 election was stolen from them in Arizona; it's now down to pretty much one Democrat in Congress who seems willing to take down Joe Biden and the Democratic party's entire agenda; and the lazy corporate media fall for another phony narrative, fed to them by police, to explain 2020's spike in killings across the country. Just another day making sense of the absurd. It's what we do.

First up, despite last week's hilariously embarrassing news for Donald Trump that his own Republican partisans hired by the Republican state Senate in Arizona to "audit" last year's election found that, yup, Trump lost to Biden as originally certified (and by an even larger margin), the disgraced former President is still lying to his supporters, claiming the audit found that he won. It didn't. But, at the same time, his supporters --- including perhaps the top wingnut website responsible for false reports of "fraud" in the 2020 election, Jim Hoft's Gateway Pundit --- are now circulating a phony "draft" of the Cyber Ninja's audit report. The fake report is being characterized as the "real" report by Hoft and friends. One of them, Matthew DePerno, a candidate for Michigan Attorney General(!) who Trump recently endorsed, posted it to Twitter claiming it was the "real " report from the Ninjas that RINOs in the GOP state Senate tried to "censure" [sic].

The fraudulent "draft" claims that the 2020 election in AZ "should not be certified," even though it already was, ten months ago, by the state's Republican Governor. A Ninjas spokesperson denies having anything to do with it, claims the very real looking "draft report" is "absolutely false", and "that it was not written by Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan, nor was [the call for decertification] in any version that was ever sent or shown to the [state] Senate for review."

Thankfully, Hoft, often referred to as the dumbest man on the Internet, isn't buying it! He and his site are furious that the national GOP and Republicans in Arizona are hiding the truth and "are working for the other side!" He's totally right! Hopefully Republican voters won't stand for it any longer and will vote all of them out of office next year to show 'em!

Next, from RINOs in Arizona, to DINOs in Arizona. Kyrsten Sinema, according to a number of her fellow Democrats today, seems to be the one --- even more than Joe Manchin --- holding up passage, and even negotiation, on the Build Back Better Act, the wildly popular $3.5 trillion sweeping social safety net and climate change legislation which is at the heart of the Biden agenda. It's also fully paid for by a small increase on taxes on corporations and the wealthy. While we covered the four pieces of legislation at the heart of what led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to describe this week as "a time of intensity" in some detail on yesterday's BradCast, I'll refer you to that one and today's show for all of the maddening details here. Though I will note that Sinema's (and Manchin's, to a slightly lesser extent) intransigence could result in both the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill failing to pass, along with the smaller, bipartisan infrastructure bill that Sinema was key to crafting with Republican Senators. She seems far more willing to negotiate with GOPers than with Congressional Dems in her own party, or even the Democratic President of the United States.

The result of all of this could be the death of both bills and Democratic hopes for success in 2022 along with it. But, it should be noted here, that even if Pelosi allows a House vote on the smaller, bipartisan infrastructure package that Sinema really wants to see passed this week (even though, unlike the larger package, it is not "paid for" and will increase the deficit that she and Republicans who support it claim to oppose), and even if it somehow is passed in the House (despite the Progressive Caucus vowing to vote against it), as Congressional expert Norm Ornstein explained on this program last week, Pelosi doesn't have to send it to the President until the reconciliation bill is passed as well. She can hold the smaller bill as long as she likes, according to Ornstein, who told us the Speaker never has to send it to the President's desk, if she doesn't feel like it.

Next, you may have seen the widely reported new statistics released by the FBI on Monday, finding an alarming spike in killings in the U.S., mostly with guns, during 2020. You may also have noticed that many of the stories on the new data --- from Washington Post, New York Times, NPR and others --- all referenced claims from police officials and academics who support them, that the record spike should be attributed, at least in part, to new policing rules and reticence by cops to take action following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year and the many others who were caught on tape being killed by the police.

Darn those "Defund the Police" activists whose outrageous advocacy has led to an historic spike in U.S. homicides!

Of course, that all appears to be bullshit, as explained by our guest today, CARL TAKEI, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU's Trone Center for Justice and Equality, where he litigates police practices. "This is a story that we have heard before," Takei explains. "It actually goes back to 2014, when then-St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson coined the term 'Ferguson Effect'" after the police killing of Michael Brown in Missouri that year, which sparked national outrage, weeks of protests and demands for police reform. "The 'Ferguson Effect', according to its proponents, means that police choose to be less proactive because protests against police hurt their feelings. And this decrease in proactivity then leads to a rise in homicides and other violent crimes."

"The problem with this is it doesn't  make sense," says Takei. "Why would decreases in arrests of people for low-level offenses like pan-handling or passing bad checks --- using counterfeit bills, as George Floyd was accused of doing before he was murdered --- why would decreases in these kinds of arrests lead to more homicides? That's the unanswered question at the core of the 'Ferguson Effect' idea."

"Police, when it comes especially to serious violent offenses like homicide, are reactive," he argues. "They respond after the shooting has already taken place. And they don't actually have the ability to prevent gun violence. And that's why, over forty years of seeing crime go up and police budgets going up, and then crime going down but police budgets continuing to go up --- we have forty years of year-on-year increases in police budgets and we've seen that there's actually no relationship between how much we are funding the police and what is happening in terms of crime rates."

Takei tells me, "Police aren't actually able to address the root causes of crimes. Especially crimes like interpersonal violence, or crimes that come from economic distress, from mental health issues, drug dependence issues. All of that requires different tools. But we live in a country where oftentimes the first and only response to anything that's labeled as crime is 'give more money to the police.'"

So, to what does Takei attribute the largest one-year spike in murder and manslaughter since record keeping began on these statistics in the 1960s? And what should be done about it? Tune in to find out. But it is damned frustrating to see so many theoretically legitimate news outlets incuriously parroting these unsupported-at-best and arguably completely phony claims about violent crime.

Finally today, a bit of good crime-related news out of Los Angeles this week, where prosecutors have moved to expunge another nearly 60,000 marijuana-related convictions from the past three decades, some five years after California voters approved the use and sale of recreational cannabis...

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Biden and Congressional Dems face down a GOP hell-bent on chaos and a handful of 'moderate' Dems set on undermining the Build Back Better agenda; Also: Is the electric vehicle inflection point finally here?...
By Brad Friedman on 9/28/2021 6:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Over the weekend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned her caucus in a "Dear Colleague" letter that "the next few days will be a time of intensity". She wasn't kidding. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Today, we bring you up to date on the four different major pieces of legislation that Democrats must push through Congress, somehow, within the next few days. All four are incredibly important for different reasons, have slightly different deadlines, and slightly different obstacles to passage, each of those obstacles are difficult.

As of midnight Thursday (September 30), the government will shut down if a Continuing Resolution to keep it open is not passed in the Senate. That will end up costing taxpayers a lot of money and financial markets will take a hit, as we already saw today, with the Dow dropping more than 550 points and the S&P falling 2 percent. Of far greater danger to both the stability of the U.S. AND global economy, as of October 18, as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has now cautioned lawmakers, the government will run out of "extraordinary measures" to avoid defaulting on U.S. debt unless the ridiculous, statutory debt ceiling is raised or suspended by Congress. That would allow the government to continuing borrowing to pay for all the stuff that Congress has already committed to spending, such as the $8 trillion increase to the national debt that was run up with the approval of Republicans during the Trump Administration, for example. Without raising the debt limit, Yellen warned, we will face "catastrophic economic consequences".

Republicans in the Senate, however, are currently filibustering the bill that would solve both of those problems in one simple fell swoop, just because they can. They appear to want chaos, uncertainty and a potential meltdown of the global economy, even at the cost of a first-ever default on the good faith and credit of the U.S. government. How that destructive hostage taking ends before the imposing deadlines nobody currently seems to know.

The other two pieces of legislation that need to pass quickly comprise Joe Biden's progressive agenda, which he ran on, is wildly popular among the American people, and which Democrats can now enact into law without any Republican help. One is the $1.5 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package for stuff like roads and bridges. The other is the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill known as the Build Back Better Act to expand health care, education, child care and take on climate change among a host of other critical stuff. The framework for the latter bill was approved by Democrats in both chambers on the basis that both bills would be passed together, appeasing both progressives and so-called "moderates". Together, the two bills make up the bulk of the Biden agenda which every Democrat in both chambers voted to support...at least until a small handful of "moderate" Dems in the House and two Dems in the Senate (Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema), tried to break the deal recently and force a vote on the smaller bill while kicking the larger one down the road.

But a newly robust and emboldened Progressives Caucus in the House is having none of it, and has vowed to vote against the smaller bill if the larger one isn't passed along with it. The hold up on the larger one appears to largely be Manchin and Sinema who have been vague in their objections, other than to protest that $3.5 trillion is too much spend. That, despite the fact that Democrats and the President say the entire ten-year ($350 billion/year) bill is fully paid for by small tax increases on corporations and the wealthy. Biden describes the cost of the bill as "zero".

All of which has resulted in "a time of intensity" on Capitol Hill right now which we walk through today --- intensely --- even as Manchin refuses to come up with a number that he would accept, and as Sinema's vague objections are made somewhat clearer by a fund-raiser being held today for her by several business lobbies who oppose having their taxes raised (to a lower amount than they were before Trump), and as her position is now costing her dearly at the moment among both the Arizona state Democratic Party and Democratic voters across her state. Tune in. We'll explain all.

In less intense --- and actually encouraging --- progressive news OUTSIDE of D.C, the inflection point to electric vehicles may just about be here, if Ford's new announcement this week of a huge, $11 billion investment to build three battery factories and an electric truck plant (creating 11,000 jobs in the bargain) is any indication.

Finally, in a related-ish news, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with even more encouraging news on electric vehicles coming out of Norway this week, along with much less encouraging news regarding the high cost of climate change, the GOP obstruction of aid to victims of Hurricane Ida, and new manslaughter charges against California's largest utility company, PG&E...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 9/16/2021 11:07am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Tropical Depression Nicholas adds insult to injury in storm-battered Louisiana; Biden continues to pitch clean energy solutions and urgent action on climate; States move to hold producers responsible for plastic pollution; PLUS: Vermont is latest state to sue the fossil fuel industry for lying about global warming... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

GNR's now celebrating 12 YEARS of independent green news, politics, analysis, snarky comment and connecting climate change dots over your public airwaves!
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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Children around the world experiencing climate anxiety and anger; Faroe Islands: Anger over killing of 1,400 dolphins in one day; Most nations fall far short in plans to curb warming: report; Rate of global warming over next 25 years could be double the previous 50 years; The planet depends on the next Federal Reserve chair; MN releases plan to make 3M pay for PFAS cleanup; Rupert Murdoch promises news outlets will move away from climate denial... PLUS: Late night shows plan 'Climate Night'... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Elder pretends to care about 'election integrity', lies about fraud before Election Day; Senate Dems reach fantastic election reform 'compromise'; More anti-vax RWers 'bite the dust' while inflaming the pandemic for all...
By Brad Friedman on 9/14/2021 6:57pm PT  

Get ready for another roller-coaster ride on today's BradCast, which also happens to be Recall Election Day in California. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

As of airtime on Tuesday, we heard of no major reports of voting problems at the polls across the Golden State, though that may be thanks to so many already having voted by mail or during early voting. But, while pretending to support "election integrity" during an interview on MSNBC, Larry Elder, rightwing talk show host and GOP front-runner to become Governor if popular Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom loses on the ballot's first question, was busy lying about "fraud" and the "twisted results of this 2021 Recall Election" on his "Stop CA Fraud" website, before any results are known whatsoever. Oh, and he's also threatening the use of the "ammo box" if the results don't go his way.

(And, in related comment, we discuss why these "Will you accept the results of the election tomorrow?" questions are really unfair and unhelpful gotcha questions, that it would be really nice if media stopped asking.)

In far brighter news, a group of eight U.S. Senators --- representing the broad political spectrum across the Democratic caucus in the upper chamber and including Joe Manchin --- announced a "compromise" election reform package with a ton of really really good stuff in it. Among the huge number of long overdue reforms in what they have dubbed the "Freedom to Vote Act": Automatic and same-day voter registration for all; restoration of voting rights for former felons; federal minimum standards for absentee voting, drop boxes and early voting; an end to partisan gerrymandering; curbs on dark money in elections; the prevention of the ability of partisan state legislatures to overturn results derived by non-partisan election officials; new cybersecurity standards for computerized voting systems; and much much more.

The devil is often in the details, and I've yet to review the actual legislative text as of airtime, but from the summary description made available by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Senate committee that oversees federal elections and campaign law, almost any one of the items included in this proposed bill would be hugely good news. I'll need to review the specific language on the measure's requirements for hand-marked paper ballots to sign off on that part of the bill, but even the proposed requirements for Voter ID are very good ones. They will serve to force states with purposely restrictive Photo ID voting restrictions (enacted to suppress the vote, not to protect against fraud) to be much less onerous, while avoiding new restrictive mandates in the majority of states which already have reasonable ID rules or few at all.

The legislation is based on Manchin's personal "compromise" version of the For the People Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, both of which have already been passed by the House. Manchin is one of the eight Senators who worked out this proposal, and is said to be reaching out to bring Republicans on board. Of course, even if all 50 Senators who caucus with the Dems vote in favor, as appears likely (Schumer says he is scheduling a vote for next week), it seems unimaginable that any Republicans will join them, much less the 10 that would be required to overcome a Senate filibuster. But with Manchin as a co-sponsor, it will now be on him to get the GOP votes needed for passage or face the prospect of no long-overdue election protection at all...UNLESS he is willing to support a "democracy reconciliation" carve-out to the Senate filibuster. It should be a very interesting, maddening and/or fantastic week or two. We'll be following it all very closely, of course.

And, as Dems are trying to improve representative Democracy in the U.S., Republicans are still, apparently, in the business of simply trying to kill as many Americans as they can to make some sort of twisted political point.

Yet another fervent, anti-vaxxer rightwing radio and TV host died from COVID over the weekend, the fifth in the past month and a half. And while we've had a modicum of sympathy for some of the others who have recently passed, as we explain, this one, 62-year old Bob Enyart, is very difficult to feel anything but contempt for.

We have slightly more sympathy, however, for the wildly misinformed and brainwashed 64-year old anti-vax QAnon supporter and highway overpass activist and YouTuber, Veronica Wolski who bragged last month on her final video about never having worn a mask in her life, and about the need to "NEVER COMPLY" with any COVID public health measures in order to "never give up your freedoms" so "you never have to fight to get them back."

She won't be fighting for anything anymore. Wolski died over the weekend from COVID-related illness in the ICU, but not before the QAnon dupes, led by disgraced Georgia attorney Lin Wood, sicced supporters on the hospital trying to save her life and threatened its workers with "murder" charges unless they agreed to treat her with Ivermectin, the horse deworming medicine not approved for treatment of COVID. That, before Wood declared on his Telegram channel to his more than 800,000 followers: "Now, we go to war."

Unfortunately, deadly climate change (not to mention COVID) is what wingnuts should be going to war against. As Desi Doyen explains in our latest Green News Report today, yet another massive tropical storm, Hurricane Nicholas, is now knocking out power (again) and drenching the U.S. Gulf Coast with some 20 inches of rain in parts of Texas flooded out in 2017 by Hurricane Harvey and sections of Louisiana that were already still under water following last week's Hurricane Ida. President Biden, meanwhile, is pushing for action on climate in his $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill, and his EPA is taking several long-overdue actions on behalf of clean, non-toxic drinking water across the U.S., and an age-old salmon fishery in Alaska...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Hospitals in GOP-leaning states begin rationing healthcare as Delta variant skyrockets, even among children (while DeSantis tries to kill them); Better news in Alaska; Good jobs numbers; DoJ sues Texas; Much more...
By Brad Friedman on 9/9/2021 6:36pm PT  

The news, as you may have noticed, continued to be somewhat grim. But we do manage to find a bit of encouraging news here and there on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary below.]

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

  • Good news in the long (very long!) battle to protect Alaska's nearly-pristine Bristol Bay and its native run, $2 billion a year salmon fishery industry from the ecological devastation of a huge, open pit gold and copper extraction operation known as Pebble Mine. Biden's EPA is invoking a section of the Clean Water Act to block the project. Hopefully it will stay blocked for good this time, but we'll see.
  • New jobs numbers from the Department of Labor are encouraging today, with unemployment rates now at a pandemic low and reaching pre-pandemic levels. That's cautiously good news, given the effect that the Delta variant is now beginning to have on the economy. But, because it's largely encouraging news which works against Republican hopes for a disastrous economy, you probably didn't hear too much about today's numbers. We also explain why this largely good, if under-reported, news also undercuts Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)'s argument for undercutting Joe Biden's proposed, landmark $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill.
  • More encouraging news (before we get to the less encouraging news today): It turns out we do have an Attorney General and he is capable of acting quickly and decisively...at least when he's pushed to do so. The Dept. of Justice today announced a federal lawsuit to enjoin the state of Texas' new law undercutting the Constitutional right for women to have an abortion, as per the previously-settled, nearly 50-year old precedent established by Roe v. Wade. Whether the DOJ's "relatively novel theories developed in reaction to a novel law" will be successful, given the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court, remains to be seen.
  • Remember back during the summer of 2009, when rightwingers were instructed by Fox "News" and the Republican Party to be outraged about "death panels" in President Obama's then-proposed Affordable Care Act that would lead to the rationing of health care and decisions by government bureaucrats about who should live or die? The argument was all nonsense at the time, as there were no such "death panels" in ObamaCare that would kill granny. But, guess what? States around the country are now beginning to ration healthcare and are deciding who gets to live or die. That is thanks to the very same Republicans who were told to be outraged about phony "death panels" in 2009, now being told to be outraged about life-saving vaccines and mask mandates. Thanks to those idiots, COVID infections, hospitalizations and death rates are skyrocketing, particularly in GOP-run states with low vaccination rates. And, because of it, and the lack of ability to handle the surge, the state of Idaho has announced new "crisis standards of care." That means they are now literally forced to ration health care, as they try to save those with the highest chances of survival, while wishing the best of luck and "comfort care" to everyone else. Kentucky and other states are now on the brink of doing the same, as hospitals continue to be overwhelmed in states with low vaccination rates.
  • COVID infection, hospitalization and death rates were, incredibly --- and completely unnecessarily --- 2 to 3.5 times higher this Labor Day, then they were over Labor Day last year, in 2020.  Moreover, infection, hospitalization and death rates are also skyrocketing among children right now, with kids now comprising more than a quarter of all new cases.
  • Despite the alarming rates of sickness among children, twisted GOP Governors in states like Texas and Florida are still fighting tooth and nail to block local school districts from determining what is best for their students and staff alike. Florida's largest school district, Miami-Dade, announced this week that 13 staffers have died since mid-August. All of them were unvaccinated. But, in brighter news, a state judge has --- for now --- blocked Gov. Ron DeSantis' appalling authoritarian attempt to ban mask mandates and punish school districts who defy him.
  • Amid all of this today, President Biden announced new federal directives to try and curb the deadly pandemic by mandating vaccination or regular testing for as many as 100 million workers nationally. In remarks sharply critical of those who have chosen to remain unvaccinated, Biden also announced that Executive Branch employees and contractors who do business with the federal government will now have to be vaccinated, with no option to test out of it.
  • Late today, Los Angeles School District, the second largest in the country, voted to implement a mandatory vaccination regime for those older than 12.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as Biden pushes for infrastructure resiliency and "building back better" after the deadly devastation of Hurricane Ida, and much more...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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