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BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
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VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...
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It has been a harrowing 24 hours since getting off air on Thursday night, with protests exploding in major cities across the country overnight in response to the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. On today's BradCast, we cover the latest developments including the arrest, just before airtime, of Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, seen in videos taking a knee on Floyd's neck as the 46-year old African-American security guard pleaded for his life. We are also joined by a progressive Democratic U.S. Senate candidate from Kentucky hoping to unseat Mitch McConnell this year, and to discuss the mysterious shooting of protesters in Louisville last night. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of summary below.]
First, we cover several aspects of the Minneapolis protest, including the appalling tweet by the President of the United States which earned him yet another warning lable from Twitter as he actually seemed to call for shooting of protesters Thursday night, using a phrase first uttered by a racist Florida sheriff at the height of the 1960s civil right movement; the on-air arrest of a black Latino CNN reporter as he was covering the protests in Minnesota, while his white colleague, one block away, was politely allowed by police to continue reporting; and some of the other protests around the country in response to the latest appalling police killing in the Twin Cities.
One of those protests was in Louisville, Kentucky, where 26-year old African-American emergency medical technician Breonna Taylor was killed by police inside her own home after cops broke down the door in the middle of the night in mid-March. That protest, like many of the others across the country overnight Thursday and Friday morning, turned violent and 7 protesters in the crowd were suddenly shot, leaving at least one of them in critical condition today. The Louisville Mayor says no officers discharged a weapon last night and that no police were shot. So who shot the protesters and why?
We're joined today by MIKE BROIHIER, a Kentucky farmer, teacher and retired U.S. Marine Lt. Colonel who is vying for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination in hopes of ousting Republican Senator and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in November. The Senate primary election, with about 10 Democrats running for the nod, will be held on June 23rd.
The progressive Broihier offers his thoughts on this week's protests around the country and in Louisville on Thursday night where the still-mysterious shootings took place just days after rightwing anti-lockdown and gun rights protesters hung an effigy of the state's Democratic Governor Andy Beshear outside the State Capitol on Sunday. Broihier, who calls the threat to Beshear an act of "terrorism", ties that incident to the Bluegrass State's long history of institutionalized racism and lynchings. "You can't deny the image," he says. "n the face of it, it's a white man with a rope and a gun. As a white male, the significance is not lost on me. We have 168 documented lynchings in the history of Kentucky. 168. That is still an open wound with African-Americans here in Kentucky."
"The message was very, very clear that they were trying to send. This is terrorism. It's intimidation. The thing is, this starts at the top --- when the President of the United States says things like, 'When the looting starts, the shooting starts' --- that is the message that these ... self-styled patriots tromp around the woods in mismatched camouflage, this is what they're waiting for. This is the kind of chaos they're waiting for. We don't know where those shots came from last night. I am having a hard time separating them in my head."
On the Taylor killing, where none of the cops involved have yet to be arrested, Broihier tells me: "There's an old saying: 'In his own home, no Kentuckian need ever run.' But that apparently doesn't apply when you're an African-American man in Louisville."
We also discuss Kentucky's plans for reopening the state amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis; his Democratic (and establishment-supported) opponent for the U.S. Senate nomination, Amy McGrath, who is also a Marine Lt. Colonel, and her flip-flop-flip support for Trump's U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh; Broihier's endorsements from Indivisible Kentucky and from Andrew Yang (the first endorsement by the former Democratic Presidential candidate), among others; his support for progressive policies such as Universal Basic Income (UBI), much of the Green New Deal, the need to shut down deadly and dying coal mines in his own state and to help the industry's workers move to better, safer jobs; and whether the unpopular McConnell can finally be defeated in Kentucky this year.
"Mitch doesn't show up back here in Kentucky too much. He was here back at the beginning of the pandemic with Brett Kavanaugh, of all people, to celebrate the elevation of a judge rated 'unqualified' by the ABA to the 2nd Circuit Court, the second highest court in the land," Broihier notes. "He's the one who said let the states go bankrupt, and he was talking specifically about Kentucky." He also tells me: "I see McConnell as an existential threat to our republic. While I disagree heartily with Lt. Col. McGrath on many things, she would still be better than Mitch McConnell."
As to whether he'd be a better choice to defeat McConnell than McGrath, he says: "If it's just electability, I'm the candidate. I am a retired lieutenant colonel as well. Being a veteran is very important here in Kentucky. But I'm also a public school teacher. I was a rural journalist. I learned how to communicate progressive ideas to religious, conservative people. The most important thing, probably, for the heart of Kentucky is I am a farmer. We know what it is like to struggle on a farm and try to support your family."
"You have to win in all of Kentucky. As a veteran, a teacher and a farmer, that cuts a pretty wide swath across almost all of Kentucky. I've got some pretty visionary plans of what America should look like when we're done with this pandemic, but you've got to be able to back it up with plans. And I've got plans! Plans that people will get tired of reading because I've been able to engage some really talented experts to help craft them. I'm for UBI but I've got a plan. There's meat on the bones."
There is much more, including his position on the Green New Deal in a coal state and more. Please tune in.
Finally, because we really needed a bit of a laugh at the end of yet another harrowing week, Desi Doyen joins us to close today's show with a pretty hilarious, unaired "outtake" from our most recent Green News Report...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
On today's BradCast, it's concierge service from the Fed for Wall Street during the crisis, as American workers are left fighting for table scraps to stay alive. Again. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of summary.]
New weekly unemployment numbers out on Thursday from the U.S. Dept. of Labor suggest that while new jobless claims are beginning to slow, they are still coming in each week at all-time record numbers. Another 2.1 million Americans filed new claims last week, bringing the number of unemployed to Great Depression era levels of nearly 41 million Americans out of work. Another way to look at it is that a staggering one in four working Americans has filed for unemployment over the past 10 weeks since the COVID-19 crisis began in earnest in the U.S. Those official government numbers [PDF], however, are still lower than the real unemployment numbers, as millions are believed still stuck in line or having trouble getting through to still-overburdened state unemployment offices.
"A closer depiction of reality in the crisis," our guest DAVID DAYEN of The American Prospect, reports today, is a recent Census Bureau survey finding "that nearly half of all households have lost income" since the crisis struck in mid-March. At the very same time, however, as jobs are still disappearing and S&P 500 companies report an average 13% loss in profits during the first quarter of the year, the stock market has been soaring of late. Even with today's record jobless numbers, the market continued to rise (though it dropped a bit just before today's close) with the Dow up over 1,000 points in the past three days and the S&P 500 reporting record gains over the past month.
Another study cited by Dayen today comes from the Institute for Policy Studies, finding that "since March 18, as 100,000 died from COVID-19 and 40 million lost their jobs, billionaires in America have added $485 billion in wealth." Must be nice. So why is this happening? Why does the economy appear to be tanking everywhere except for on Wall Street?
Dayen, who, in his daily "Unsanitized" columns at The Prospect has been reporting for weeks on the "$4.5 trillion money cannon" unleashed by the Federal Reserve, with the approval of Congress in the CARES Act. He explains how that relief bill gave the go-ahead for the Fed to signal in late March, for the first time in history, that they will backstop corporate debt for huge companies. Without spending a dime, the signal the Fed gave on March 23rd is that investors didn't have to worry about about any risk associated with buying bonds from those companies. The Fed would back them up in the event the companies failed. So, as Dayen detailed this week, troubled firms like Carnival Cruise Lines, which is unable to make a penny now in the cruise line business, and Boeing, which was already in trouble before the coronavirus crisis began, are still raking in tens of millions (even billions) of dollars in the bargain. And, since the funding is coming from private equity firms and hedge funds (as guaranteed by the federal government), that "mothers milk", as Dayen describes it, is coming with no strings attached, unlike direct loans from the Government's CARES Act might have. That means, he says, that at least 49 major companies have brought in enormous sums of money during the crisis this way, even as they've laid off tens of thousands of workers at the very same time while using their windfall of cheap money to pay executive bonuses and purchase stock buybacks as working class American suffer in a way they haven't since the Great Depression.
"What idiot would send money to Carnival Cruise lines right now?," Dayen quips, before explaining how the Fed's announcement gave the go ahead to private equity firms to invest in the company anyway. "What they're saying is 'We're going to support the entire market'. ... They're essentially saying to investors, we will take care of you, we will do whatever it takes. The markets take that as a signal that they're going to be coddled, they're going to be protected, and that's all it takes."
This was all done with the approval of both parties in Congress, even as some Dems are now beginning to regret giving no-string attached approval to Donald Trump's Treasury Dept./Federal Reserve money cannon. "When you defer to the Fed as your main policy-making engine in the country, you're going to get disproportionate responses, because the Fed deals with banks and they deal with large corporations. And that's who is going to get the relief. Not the average person on the street."
"When ordinary people, 40 million strong, have to go on to the unemployment lines, they get limited, temporary relief that will probably go away very soon, and they struggle to obtain food and figure out how to maintain their shelter," Dayen explains. "The problem is not that large companies got a bailout from something that wasn't of their own making --- the coronavirus crisis --- the problem is that there's one system for elite investors and large corporations and one system for everybody else."
How long can this last? Dayen discusses that as well, as states and municipalities around the country are themselves facing massive revenue shortages and fiscal year budget deadlines by July 1 in many cases. Without Congress enacting another relief bill for those states and municipalities, critical local services will soon be slashed. Cops, firefighters, teachers, and even medical workers will be laid off amid the continuing global pandemic, gutting revenue to those states even further. Democrats in the House have already passed a $3 trillion bill to help out state and local governments. Republicans in the Senate, however, have said they are in no rush to take any further action for now.
We also discuss the unimaginable politicization of this pandemic, where even the idea that measures to keep Americans alive has now become a political hot potato just five months before the crucial November elections.
That unimaginable politicization is now on full display in Pennsylvania, where a Republican state lawmaker disclosed on Wednesday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. While he had known for at least ten days, he told only his Republican colleagues in the House. Democrats were left in the dark, even as GOPers in the gerrymandered House demanded in-person committee hearings where Dems were unknowingly put in contact with colleagues who had been in contact with the infected Rep and didn't even bother to wear masks during hearings demanding the reopening of businesses in the state. One Democratic Representative from Philadelphia unleashed a tirade during a Facebook Live video Wednesday night (which we share on today's show), calling on the GOP Speaker of the House to resign and for the state Attorney General to consider prosecution of those members who endangered the others along with their families. All of which underscores, yet again, the importance of the upcoming election and the reckoning that should come with it.
To that end, we've got some good news out of the state of Wisconsin (for a change), where the bi-partisan state Election Commission voted unanimously on Wednesday to send absentee ballot applications to all of the Badger State's 2.7 million registered voters before the November election. That, in hopes of avoiding the nightmarish consequences of the state's April 7th primary when GOP state lawmakers refused to agree to the Democratic Governor's attempt to postpone the election or extend absentee balloting to keep residents safe during the crisis. So, will Donald Trump threaten to cut off funding to WI as he did last week when Michigan announced their intention to also sent absentee ballot applications to all registered voters? Stay tuned.
Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report with troubling predictions from NOAA for hurricane season; the plague of locusts spreading from Africa to India; New York and New Jersey reject a proposal for a new fracked-gas pipeline; and a new $14 million ad campaign ties Trump's deadly coronavirus denial to his long-standing deadly denial of our climate crisis...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: NOAA warns hurricane season could be a doozy --- especially during a pandemic; Plague of locusts expands into India; New York and New Jersey reject controversial fracked-gas pipeline; PLUS: New ad campaign links Trump's coronavirus denial to climate change denial... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Michigan dam failure shows the Midwest's growing vulnerability to climate change; Will Floating Turbines Usher in a New Wave of Offshore Wind?; How fast will you need to flee from the heat?; As Fishermen Flounder, Trump Clears A Path For Farming The Oceans; Record Drop In Energy Investment, Warns International Energy Agency; Trail of spills haunts Dakota Access pipeline developer... PLUS: How a Contrarian Scientist Helped Trump's EPA Defy Mainstream Science... and much, MUCH more! ...
Desi Doyen is on the money at the end of today's BradCast when she cites a Twitter user who recently asserted: "The GOP has become a virus: it now exists solely to replicate itself." If you've yet to notice, the 160 days between now and the critical 2020 Presidential election will be about little more for Republicans than a desperate attempt to suppress certain voters; to game the results of those who do manage to vote; and, of course, to do anything possible to distract from the fact that more than 100,000 Americans have now tragically died on Trump's watch over just the past 3 months, tanking the economy in the bargain, thanks to his disastrously failed response to the coronavirus. We discuss all of those things on today's program. [Audio link to the full show is posted below.]
First, Trump today is pretending to be furious about the fact that Twitter placed a very polite "Get the facts about mail-ballots" link under two of his misleading tweets on Tuesday about absentee voting fraud. He is feigning outrage, claiming the company is biased against Republicans and that he has the power to shut them down. The RNC and Trump's campaign, of course, are all playing along with the phony fury, because they love playing both victim and strongman at the same time, and because it all helps distract the media from his ongoing unspeakable failures as President.
In fact, not only did Twitter do him a favor by placing those links on his tweets, helping to bring attention to his disinformation (which can also been seen as instructions for his followers on how to defraud the November election), but the company didn't even bother to label his most offensive recent tweets, such as the ones in which he accused MSNBC's Joe Scarborough of murdering a staffer who tragically died in the then-Florida Republican Congressman's office in 2001.
At the same time, Facebook is allowing the Trump Campaign to run hundreds of paid, false political ads making the same misleading claims, as that social media company simply allows false paid-for propaganda ads from politicians, even if they are meant only to disinform, distract and undermine the 2020 election itself.
It should also be noted anytime any media outlet reports on Trump's false claims about absentee voter fraud, that he is a voter fraud criminal himself, after voting by absentee in Florida where he has no legal permanent residence, in violation of state law.
As to voter suppression and Florida, we reported yesterday on the excellent ruling by a federal judge who gutted the GOP state legislature's new poll tax law over the weekend. The measure was enacted to undermine a Constitutional Amendment adopted by state voters in a 2018 mid-term landslide. Despite the enormous bipartisan voter support for Amendment 4, which could allow some 1.5 million former felons to vote in the Sunshine State for the first time, Gov. Ron DeSantis (who barely won his election that same year) has now announced plans to appeal the court's ruling that gutted the poll tax passed by Republicans in hopes of countering Amendment 4.
Florida, however, is hardly the only state in the union with GOP-controlled legislatures attempting to undermine recent bipartisan ballot box landslides. In Missouri, on the heels of the adoption of a landmark state Constitutional Amendment in 2018 meant to end extreme partisan gerrymandering in the Show-Me State, the gerrymandered GOP state legislature is rolling out what our guest today describes as REDMAP 2.0.
We're joined by FairVote senior fellow DAVID DALEY who, literally, wrote the book on the GOP's successful plan to take control of state legislatures in 2010 to implement crippling partisan gerrymanders during redistricting after that year's decennial Census. Now, as Daley detailed in a recent New York Times op-ed, MO Republicans are rolling out an even more invidious scheme to undermine the voters' intent with another Constitutional amendment on this November's ballot.
He describes the plot --- which includes an unprecedented plan to count only voting age citizens during redistricting --- as a "dress rehearsal" for GOP-controlled states in the rest of the country. The plan, which would "dramatically" shift voting power from Democratic-leaning urban areas to white, Republican-leaning rural areas, is being adopted for nationwide roll-out by the rightwing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), he reports.
"It changes the definition of representation and it overwhelmingly tilts this in the direction of conservatives and Republicans," he tells me. "Total population has been the guiding standard that everybody has used for a long time. If you were to change this to say that the baseline that we're going to count is not everybody, but only citizens who are over the age of 18, then what you are doing is eliminating huge numbers of people. You are curating and manicuring an electorate that is older, more rural, more conservative, and of course, whiter."
As Dems are finally trying to win the last battle by rolling back what happened in 2010 a decade later, Daley argues they need to get ready --- immediately --- to figure out how to counter the GOP's newest ugly war on this front.
"I don't think Democrats are paying enough attention to this," he says. "This is a Presidential election year. Democrats are thinking about the White House, about the Senate, about holding on to the House. But there's so much more at risk in this election. This is the last election before these maps are going to be drawn for another decade. ... The Republicans are going to have a 2020 'REDMAP 2.0' plan, and if Democrats are not equally focused on playing offense and defense, they are going to get check-mated."
We also discuss Daley's newly published book, UNRIGGED: How Americans Are Battling Back to Save Democracy', documenting recent, critical (and successful!) citizen-led efforts to restore democracy across the nation...
On today's BradCast: As the U.S. crossed the 100,000 coronavirus death Rubicon over Memorial Day weekend, the President of the United States played golf. Twice. And called a potential Democratic Vice Presidential nominee fat. And a former Secretary of State and Democratic Presidential nominee a "skank". He also suggested a popular TV host murdered someone. And he lied again (and again) about absentee voting fraud (even though he committed it himself.) The Presidential election is 161 days away. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]
Before we get there, however, former CDC Director Tom Frieden said this weekend, "It's 100,000, but it looks like we're still at the beginning of this pandemic." He is not alone. According to the Imperial College London, the U.S. could see another 200,000 dead on top of those who have died already from COVID-19, thanks to the President's desperately premature push to reopen the nation's economy. That, while Trump is ignoring the first 100,000 dead, even though, as the New York Times observes:
At the same time, despite the Republicans' attempt to pretend the viral pandemic away, without very quick action by the Republicans who control the U.S. Senate to prevent massive layoffs at the state and local level, we could be looking squarely at a second Great Depression before year's end, The American Prospect's David Dayen reports today with very good evidence in support.
Other than all of that, we hope you had a delightful holiday weekend!
Speaking of that Presidential election (did we mention it's just 161 days away? --- but who's counting?), we have some very good news from Florida today to counter the grim news with which we felt it necessary to open today's program. A federal judge has nixed the voter suppression law enacted by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state's GOP-controlled legislature. The law was adopted to gut the state Constitutional Amendment passed by 65% of FL voters in 2018 to allow most former felons to register to vote after having completed "all terms of their sentence including probation and parole."
Amendment 4 ended the state's shameful lifetime ban on voting rights for former felons. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, following an eight-day trial earlier in Spring, declared the GOP's new Jim Crow law --- enacted to upend Amendment 4 --- to be an unconstitutional poll tax, as the law mandated the payment of all fines and fees before former felons would be allowed to register to vote, whether they could afford the payments or not. Moreover, the state keeps no database of such fines and fees, so many former felons had no idea if they owed money or not. Because of that, many declined to register to vote for fear of being charged with perjury when attesting that they had they had "completed all terms" of their sentence on the voter registration application.
Despite that very good news, we suspect the roller coaster battle by the Florida GOP to prevent as many as 1.5 million new voters in the crucial battleground state --- including about a quarter of the its African-American male voting age population --- from getting their voting rights back will continue.
Of course, the GOP War on Democracy is happening all over the country right now. We close today's show with a new front opened in that war over the weekend by the Republican National Committee and former GOP Congressman-turned-candidate-again Darrell Issa. They filed a federal lawsuit alleging that California Gov. Gavin Newsom's May 8 order to send absentee ballots to all registered voters in the state for the November election is in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Yes, it even sounds absurd on its face, but longtime BRAD BLOG legal analyst ERNEST A. CANNING joins us today to explain exactly why the complaint is even more ridiculous than it sounds and the two big reasons why he believes it is likely to be "dismissed at the district court level". Whether that dismissal will be upheld by the GOP's stolen majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, should Republicans push it that far (and why wouldn't they?), is a separate question. Tune in for Canning's thoughts on that and much more...
In a desperate attempt to prevent a high turnout of California voters for the critical 2020 General Election, attorneys from the extreme right-wing organization, Judicial Watch, filed a federal complaint [PDF] late last week on behalf of former Republican Congressman turned candidate again Darrell Issa with several named Republican voters in the U.S. District Court (Eastern District CA)
The complaint alleges that CA Governor Gavin Newsom and Secretary of State Alex Padilla, both Democrats, unlawfully usurped the power of the CA state legislature when, on May 8, they issued an emergency Executive Order in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The order directed the election officials of every CA county to "transmit Vote-by-Mail [VBM] ballots for the November 3, 2020 General Election to all [registered] voters" no later than "the last day on which [VBM] ballots may be transmitted."
The complaint alleges that the Executive Order violates the Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Art. I, §4. That clause provides, in pertinent part: "The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof."
The CA legislature, via the state's Voter's Choice Act, set forth explicit criteria that each county must meet in order to become an all VBM county. The Republican plaintiffs argue the Executive Order permits counties that have not met that criteria to act as VBM counties; that permitting all voters to cast VBM ballots "dilutes" the votes of the Republican voter plaintiffs who live in counties which have not met the statutory criteria. They seek to invalidate the Executive Order and compel those CA voters who have not timely requested absentee ballots under CA law, as it existed prior to May 8, to either vote in-person or not at all.
The Republicans' legal filing drew a sharp retort from Padilla: "Exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to justify voter suppression is despicable, even for Judicial Watch's pathetically low standards."
From a legal standpoint, the Republicans' legal arguments are frivolous...
Remember waaay back on Monday when we warned you to take the news from biotech company Moderna about their self-proclaimed early success in tests of a coronavirus vaccine with a huge grain of salt? The announcement that spiked their stock price some 50% in one single day and resulted in a 900 point rally for the Dow? Well, the market is still enjoying its irrational exuberance, but Moderna's stock price is largely back to where it was before Monday's "science by press release". Not to be a party pooper before the Memorial Day weekend, but that seems an apt analog, somehow, for much of what we cover/warn about on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is at bottom of summary.]
Donald Trump and his Republican henchmen in Congress are running into a problem. Pretending the coronavirus crisis away only goes so far. Sure, you can announce that you have "reopened" for business, but that doesn't mean anybody will show up. Even with all 50 states now relaxing various restrictions, demand remains low and, therefore, unemployment remains high and is still getting higher each week.
New numbers from the U.S. Dept. of Labor report that 2.4 million Americans filed new unemployment claims last week. It is the ninth week in a row of new claims higher than 2 million --- some weeks were larger than 6 million --- even though the all-time weekly record, prior to COVID-19, was less than one million. Even during the 2008 Great Recession, initial claims for unemployment insurance never topped one million. The good news is the number of new filers has been decreasing in recent weeks. The bad news is that almost all of those people, nearly 40 million of them, remain out of work. For now, however, they have been able to rely on expanded benefits enacted by Congress that offer an additional $600 a week through the end of July. The program was designed to, yes, keep people at home in order to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Those payments have, by and large, prevented the U.S. economy from tanking entirely. And now, Republicans in Congress are insisting that they will not extend those benefits, as they join Trump in trying to convince themselves and the nation that the crisis is over. It isn't. Not by a long shot. Ending that expansion of unemployment right now in hopes of forcing workers back to their jobs --- where they may well get sick and die, just as had been happening before the shutdowns --- in hopes of restarting the economy, is likely to kill the economy entirely, according to economists, anyway. But what do they know? We discuss.
In lieu of an actual plan --- versus a Jedi Mind Trick --- to prevent a new rise in infections and deaths, Trump and his GOP pals seem prepared to hide the statistics and otherwise distract us with things like a new, wholly (and statutorily) unqualified Director of National Intelligence! Gutting a long-standing arms control deal with Russia! And trying to blame Obama for all sorts of imaginary scandals in hopes of harming presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden.
It shouldn't work. But, given our gullible corporate media, who knows? Satirist Randy Rainbow, however, has a new musical take on it all for us today.
While Republicans on Fox "News" are instructing their "patriotic" American cult members to get out there and get back to work, their star anchors continue to do so from the safety of their own home studios, where Fox Corp has directed them to remain for at least another month. YOU are supposed to die for the economy and the President's reelection! Not THEM!
And the irrational exuberant premature reopenings could well make a huge difference in the ultimate COVID-19 death toll, if a new study about the timing of the initial lockdowns from Columbia University disease modelers tells us anything. They find that a heart-breaking 36,000 fewer Americans would have died if the country had implemented stay-at-home restrictions just one week earlier in March. Moreover, the researchers found, had shutdowns occurred on March 1 the vast majority (83%) of deaths would have been avoided. Each single day that Trump and Governors around the country ignored or refused too take the crisis seriously resulted in the unnecessary loss of thousands of American lives.Depending on how quickly and/or irresponsibly states now lift restrictions, many more thousands of lives could be lost. Given the way a number of GOP-run states are now attempting to hide or censor infection and death rates, the cost could ultimately become unspeakable.
Another new study from the University of Wisconsin and Ball State University offers a real life example of all of this. The analysis found that last month's primary election in Wisconsin --- when the state's rightwing Supreme Court blocked attempts by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers to postpone the election or switch it to an all Vote-by-Mail election --- resulted in a "statistically and economically significant association between in-person voting and the spread of COVID-19 two to three weeks after the election." They found that WI counties "with higher levels of in-person voting per polling location led to increases in the weekly positive rate of COVID-19 tests. Furthermore, counties with higher absentee voting participation had lower rates of detecting COVID-19 two to three weeks after the election."
Yes, these decisions matter. Lives hang in the balance. No matter the Jedi Mind Trick Trump was hoping to pull off when he recently declared: "We're opening up; the states are opening up. It's a transition to greatness!" Perhaps "greatness" is now just another word for mass murder.
Finally today, a bit of email from a listener in the Badger State who now regards it as "Wississippi," and Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with ongoing climate disasters --- yes, our climate crisis continues even as the coronavirus has temporarily cleared the air a bit --- from the state of Michigan to the Bay of Bengal...
P.S. By the way, we are ducking out early for some much needed Memorial Day weekend down time. Yes, my brain actually hurts each day these days. Hopefully a few days off will help. See ya on the other side! Stay safe and healthy until then!
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Michigan dams fail, causing massive flooding, toxic threat amid pandemic; Super Cyclone Amphan slams into India; Trump Administration hits renewable energy projects with retroactive rent increases; PLUS: Global emissions plunged an unprecedented 17% during pandemic shutdowns... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Holding the World's Breath at 11,135 Feet; White House warned EPA about legal concerns, 'spurious' tone on auto rules; EU Commission planning 'green' auto industry rescue; Tree Deaths in Urban Settings Are Linked to Leaks from Natural Gas Pipelines Below Streets; EPA employees allege leadership interference with science... PLUS: Aging Dams, Changing Climate: A Dangerous Mix... and much, MUCH more! ...
Our esteemed guest on today's BradCast argues "Donald Trump is literally a threat to the planet and to all living things on the planet." He is right and has the evidence to prove it. So do we all. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]
Statewide stay-at-home orders are still in place in Michigan, even as the state was forced to order more than 10,000 residents to evacuate their homes amid record rain and flooding and two "catastrophic dam failures" in the central part of the state on Tuesday and Wednesday. That disaster comes on top of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, presenting an impossible challenge for Michiganders and their Governor, Gretchen Whitmer. And, all of it could be made far worse thanks to the Dow Chemical company headquarters in swamped Midland, MI and some 50 miles of toxic SuperFund cleanup sites along the banks of the swollen Tittabawassee and Saginaw Rivers where the company dumped poisonous, cancer-causing waste for years.
Amid all of that then, our President of the United States felt today would be the perfect moment to attack the state on Twitter with completely false claims about absentee voting fraud (which he knows a thing or two about, having committed absentee voter fraud himself in the state of Florida this year), while threatening to cut off federal funding to Michigan in the bargain if their Sec. of State dares to lawfully send absentee ballot applications to all registered voters this year.
Interestingly enough, Donald Trump has made no similar threats to states with Republican Secretaries of States doing the very same thing this year to help keep voters safe during a global pandemic.
Meanwhile, speaking of absentee voting, Oregon's primary election was Tuesday, in a state with a Republican Secretary of State that mails actual, postage-paid ballots out to every single registered voter in the state in every election, including the primary Trump won there (without any competition) on Tuesday. We cover that and the other noteworthy, if less than surprising reported results today, including a doozy of a U.S. Senate nominee that Republicans have decided to put up against popular incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley.
There has been one, let's call it, "bright" spot amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis, and that has been the unprecedented plunge in global carbon emissions and other dangerous pollutants as restrictions implemented to fight the virus resulted in abrupt reductions in driving, flying and industrial output across the globe. The effect on the climate, according to a new study by the Global Carbon Project, published in the Nature Climate Change journal this week, has been a record breaking daily drop in emissions of some 17% at the peak of global shutdowns in April. That stunning reduction of more than 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide output, according to the researchers, is likely to result in as much as a 7% reduction in dangerous greenhouse gas emissions in 2020, depending on the pace at which ordinary life resumes across the planet. The annual reduction would be about the amount that climate scientists have long urged we must cut every year --- for many years in a row --- in order to avoid the worst effects of man-made global warming.
We're joined today by climate science expert and author DR. MICHAEL E. MANN, Distinguished Professor and Director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, to discuss the new study; the climate crisis-fueled disaster in Michigan ("As we warm up the planet, as we warm up the surface of the oceans, we put more moisture into the atmosphere. ... So you get more of these extreme rainfall events. This isn't rocket science. It is a basic prediction that we made decades ago. And, unfortunately, we're seeing that prediction has come true."); the climate crisis-fueled SuperCyclone currently pummeling the poorest regions on Earth in India and Bangladesh ("It drives home another pernicious aspect of climate change --- that many of the worst impacts are being felt by those with the least resources in the Third World...That's one of the inequities of climate change that we're literally watching play out right now."); and whether it is actually possible for society to cut enough emissions to mitigate the many future climate crisis-fueled disasters that await as greenhouse gas production continues to threaten the future of human civilization.
As the new study warns, even with the startling --- if temporary --- decline in emissions over the past two months, we have only reverted to 2006 levels at the moment. If this virus-driven decline were to stay in place --- which it won't --- it seems impossible that society would be able to do the same thing, year after year, to meet the targets even of the conservative 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
"It's impossible through individual behavioral change alone. That's what this really drives home," Mann warns. "In fact, it's a bit more of a challenge because we probably need to decrease our carbon emissions by more like 10% a year, year after year for the next decade, to have any degree of confidence in avoiding dangerous warming of the planet."
But, he says, it is not impossible. "Last year, there was actually some really good news. Global carbon emissions didn't go up at all, even though economic activity did continue to increase. The International Energy Agency looked at the reason for this, and for the first time, they were able to say that the reason for that wasn't an economic downturn --- we've seen that in the past, where there's an economic downturn and carbon emissions stop going up. No, this time they were able to attribute it to the increased deployment of renewable energy --- wind, solar, geothermal --- around the world. So we know that the structural changes that are underway are starting to flatten the curve, but flattening it isn't enough. We got to come down the other side of that curve, and we've got to do it dramatically to avert dangerous warming."
"There's rigorous academic research that provides a roadmap," Mann tells me. "It's a matter of political will. It's not a matter of physics. The laws of physics don't say that we can't do this right now. It's only our policies that are preventing us from doing this."
"But it's not going to happen if we don't have the leadership," he explains. "And that's why it's so important for people to turn out and vote in this next election. And to vote on the issue of climate and environmental sustainability. Only if people come out and indicate decisively that this is the direction they want to see us go, will it happen."
The biggest roadblock to that, right now? The man who sits in the Oval Office who is actually making things worse, instead of better. Though "this shouldn't be partisan," he says, "Donald Trump is literally a threat to the planet and to all living things on the planet. It appears we may survive a single term of Trump. But, in the sense of a continued thriving planetary environment, I don't think we can survive two terms of Donald Trump."
On today's BradCast, the gaslighting of the nation continues, from Flynn to Florida. [Audio link to show follows below.]
Two weeks ago, U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr's Dept. of Justice stunned the legal world by filing a motion to drop all charges against Lt. General Michael Flynn, Donald Trump's first National Security Advisor and one of his earliest supporters. Flynn had twice pleaded guilty before three different judges about lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian Ambassador before Trump's inauguration. His guilty plea also included the admission that he was a paid agent for the nation of Turkey, which he failed to disclose even as he received highly classified briefings after Trump's election before going on to serve as the nation's top national security official in the White House.
Flynn initially lied to FBI officials in January of 2017 and was recently set to receive his sentencing in federal court when his new Fox "News" lawyers convinced him to try and withdraw his guilty plea. Before U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan was able to decide on that matter, Barr, Trump's new fixer, jumped in to try to make the prosecution go away completely, claiming that the initial interview during which Flynn lied to federal officials about his conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, should never have happened in the first place. Barr argues the counterintelligence probe being carried out by the FBI at the time, looking into Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 campaign and potential cooperation by the Trump Campaign, should also have never happened in the first place.
The problem is Barr's own DoJ --- just a few months ago, at the beginning of this year, in their sentencing recommendation memo [PDF] for Flynn --- argued the 2017 interview was "material to the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation to know the full extent of the defendant’s communications with the Russian Ambassador, and why he lied to the FBI about those communications." They called Flynn's false statements to the FBI "significant" and potential "evidence of links or coordination between the Trump Campaign and Russia."
Week's later, in the May 7 motion to dismiss the charges [PDF] against Flynn --- which all of the career prosecutors who worked on the case for years refused to sign --- Barr's DoJ claimed the exact opposite, that the January 2017 interview with Flynn was not "conducted with a legitimate investigative basis." Barr himself, during an interview with a former Fox "News" reporter explaining the unprecedented filing, argued that the FBI "did not have a legitimate basis for a counterintelligence investigation against Flynn."
But Barr's DoJ argued the opposite case only weeks earlier and offered few details in the new filing about why they are now, suddenly, changing their legal position. Judge Sullivan is none to happy about any of it and has retained a retired prosecutor/federal judge to argue against the new filing now that the DoJ has literally joined forces with the Flynn defense team they were previously prosecuting.
The argument, as national security journalist MARCY WHEELER of Empty Wheel recently reported, is now between the Barr DoJ's two different and conflicting positions on the matter and, she explains, should be covered as such by the corporate media seeking to "both sides" every issue.
Wheeler joins us today to explain the extraordinary, unprecedented mess, and how it is that Barr and his DoJ now find themselves, literally, on both sides of the issue, as the nation's top law enforcement official continues his partisan bidding for the President of the United States. "You can't, as the same party," says Wheeler, "stand before a court and say, 'I think 2 plus 2 is 4 and then the next day come in and say, 'I think 2 plus 2 is 17.' That's effectively what DoJ has done, given that Bill Barr's DoJ said in January this was material to a serious and legitimate investigation, and now he's saying this was not material because the investigation was not legitimate."
She also discusses whether the media are falling for Barr's bogus claims; whether Barr and the DoJ could, themselves, be sanctioned by Judge Sullivan; and whether Sullivan's new hire, Judge John Gleeson, may argue that Flynn, in this case, should be charged with contempt for his perjurious lies to the court.
Then, as Barr tries to gaslight the nation, the state of Florida, under the command of GOP Governor and Trump pal Ron DeSantis, is apparently trying to do the same amid the coronavirus pandemic. A new report from Florida Today finds that the state's lead Department of Health official who headed up the creation of Florida's highly lauded COVID-19 dashboard website, was recently removed from the job after refusing to censor key scientific data on coronavirus cases, spread and deaths in the Sunshine State while DeSantis is risking lives by "reopening" the economy there faster than health experts recommend.
The way in which Republicans are trying to deny, ignore and otherwise hide scientific data in favor of promoting the economy at all costs, as we discuss, is a perfect hyper-speed analog of how the same political party has attempted to deny, ignore and otherwise hide the science of climate change in favor of the economy, no matter the expense to the public and the death toll that folly similarly entails.
Finally, Desi Doyen joins for the latest Green News Report with more lessons we should learn from the COVID crisis about the climate crisis; news on the massive, climate change-fueled cyclone about to slam into one of the poorest regions on earth in the middle of the pandemic; and the Trump EPA's approval of rocket-fuel toxins in your drinking water...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Powerful Cyclone Amphan headed for one of the world's poorest regions amid a pandemic; Man-made climate change leading to more intense hurricanes; Trump E.P.A. refuses to limit toxic rocket-fuel chemical in your drinking water; PLUS: What the Covid crisis should teach us about the climate crisis... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): EPA Settlements: Will Coronavirus get polluters off the hook?; Companies worth $2 trillion are calling for a Green Recovery;
When will renewables pass coal? Sooner than anyone thought; 'Stealth' bailout shovels millions of dollars to oil and gas companies; American Climate Video: In Case of Wildfire, Save Things of Sentimental Value... PLUS: Thinking of buying a bike? Get ready for a very long wait... and much, MUCH more! ...
It's a race to stupid. And we're all winning! Or losing. Depends on how you choose to look at, apparently. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]
Among the stories covered on today's BradCast...
A Few Great Blogs
· Baghdad Burning
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