w/ Brad & Desi
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...
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...
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NICOLE SANDLER here, once again guest hosting The BradCast. I'm numb today, as there was yet another mass shooting overnight. This one was at a Fed Ex facility in Indianapolis. The shooter, a 19-year old former employee, killed eight people before turning the gun on himself.
That follows another cop killing another Black kid, another school shooting, and another mass shooting before that…all within the last few weeks. And that's a non-exhaustive list.
I live in Coral Springs, FL. We're next door to Parkland, with whom we share Fire and Police departments. Obviously, we know from mass shootings down here.
My congressman is TED DEUTCH. Since the massacre of 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School three years ago, Congressman Deutch has really stepped up his game on trying to do something about our national gun problem.
He was a guest on my own show Monday, and given the latest swarm of shootings, I thought that would be a good segment to include today.
Yesterday, I awoke to a story at The Intercept from RYAN GRIM, who reported that a group of progressive members of Congress were going to, on Friday, introduce a plan to expand the Supreme Court from its current nine members to 13. He joins us today to put that story into context, to explain why the PRO Act is so important, and a bit about the possibility of DC statehood anytime soon.
On today's BradCast: It's nice to see hundreds of companies and corporate executives coming out in favor of democracy and voting rights. If only they actually meant it. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
First up today, however, the Biden Administration announced a spate of new sanctions against Russian organizations and individuals in response to both the massive Solar Winds hack of top U.S. agencies, including including the Treasury, Justice, Energy and Homeland Security departments, as well as for what is described as interference in the 2020 election on behalf of Donald Trump. At the same time, the Administration seems to be going out of their way to downplay the sweeping sanctions by suggesting that they are open to top level discussions to avoid further exacerbating growing tensions between the two nations.
But one of the 32 individuals sanctioned is of note today because the announcement from the U.S. Treasury Department refers to the 2016 election, charging that the individual, Konstanin Kilimnik shared proprietary polling information given to him by Trump's first campaign manager, Paul Manafort, directly with Russian Intelligence Services. If true, that would be significant new information. Previous reports on Russia's involvement in the 2016 election from both Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee cite the information Manafort is said to have given to his former business associate Kilimnik, a Russian and Ukrainian political operative linked to Russian intelligence. But neither of those voluminous report goes so far as to say that the data was subsequently given directly to Russian intelligence services. Those reports acknowledge they were not able to learn what came of it after it was handed over to Kilimnik. Today's announcement of the sanctions by the Treasury, however, notes: "During the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign, Kilimnik provided the Russian Intelligence Services with sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy."
As national security website Just Security observes: "The Treasury Department’s new statement raises questions about why this information is coming out now and why the Special Counsel’s office did not have access to it during its investigation. Was it not available then or did it exist but was not provided to the Mueller team?" So, does this mean the Biden Administration has uncovered details on manipulation of the 2016 election that was previously hidden or withheld by the Trump Administration? It looks like the "Clean up on Aisle 45" will be continuing for quite some time. There is a LOT to clean up.
In not entirely unrelated news, hundreds of companies and corporate CEOs issued a full-size, two-page ad in the New York Times, Washington Post and other papers this week, with a short statement purporting to declare "WE STAND FOR DEMOCRACY," and noting: "We all should feel a responsibility to defend the right to vote and to oppose any discriminatory legislation or measures that restrict or prevent any eligible voter from having an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot."
Though the statement doesn't mention any specific states, it was issued in response to Republicans' recently enacted voters suppression law in Georgia and dozens of other states where similar restrictions on the franchise, in bills sponsored by GOP state lawmakers, are moving forward. All of which is said to be in response to false claims by Trump and Republicans of massive fraud in 2020. Georgia's new law, for example, makes it more difficult to vote by mail, limits the use of drop boxes, bans the distribution of food or water on long voting lines (which are all too typical in certain parts of the Peach State) and allows the partisan GOP state legislature to replace bipartisan County Election Boards with a single partisan person who will be able to unilaterally undermine elections or even overturn results.
While statements like the one issued this week in the two-page ad --- and, before it, by Atlanta-based companies such as Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines --- have resulted in good publicity for those signed onto them, they have also brought blowback from the right, leading Republicans (who pretend to abhor so-called "cancel culture") to demand boycotts of any company which stands up for voting rights.
I have railed in recent weeks about the absurdity of Republicans finally paying attention to concerns about new voter suppression laws only now that a number of corporations have come out in apparent opposition to such laws. Corporate entities, it seems, have far more sway with the GOP lawmakers who ignored weeks of complaints and protests about the new laws from actual voters before the GA law was passed.
But our guest today is seemingly even more cynical about these recent corporate declarations of fealty to democracy. We're joined today by MICHAEL HILTZIK, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and business columnist at the Los Angeles Times. He argued in his column this week that many of the "vague" declarations recently by large corporations are no substitute for actual action. He cites a host of companies, for example, which, following the January 6th U.S. Capitol insurrection, vowed to suspend donations to lawmakers who had voted to overturn the Electoral College results that same day. Despite those public pronouncements, he details one company after another --- from Jet Blue to AT&T to Toyota --- which, despite their previous public claims, have since given plenty of money to dozens of Republicans who voted against the certification of Biden's Electoral College victory.
In his column, he notes that while many companies and executives have come out in opposition of suppressive voting laws, almost none have gone on record to demand the passage of measures which would counteract them, such as the John Lewis Voting Rights Act or H.R. 1, the For the People Act.
"It's not that unusual for businesses to affiliate themselves on the side of the angels when they feel a lot of popular pressure to do so. But once again the question is, what are they going to do about it?," Hiltzik tells me today. "Let's face facts. Many of the companies --- if not all of them --- that signed on to these statements, these honeyed words, had been assiduous supporters of the politicians who are now out there introducing and passing laws that restrict the voting franchise."
Criticizing their failure to speak out before Georgia's law was adopted, for example, he says, "They didn't really put their reputations on the line when they didn't think they had to. And, as a result, we have a law in Georgia that's going to be very hard to repeal because the more these companies come out and say this is wrong, the more the rightwing legislators who passed it are doubling down, saying 'We're not going to kowtow to these liberal leftwing corporations'. So they lost their chance. They're trying to recover. But I don't think they really deserve a lot of credence just by signing a statement."
Moreover, he explains, many of these very same companies have been opponents of democracy within their own corporate organizations. "What's really hypocritical is that these same companies that have said 'We believe in democracy, we believe in everybody having a vote' --- they've actually gone to the Securities and Exchange Commission and asked for, and received, a tightening of the rules that makes it even harder for small shareholders to get resolutions on the annual meeting agenda, and to actually get votes on the resolutions that they submit."
There is plenty of cynicism on today's show to go around. And it extends to our discussion of the need for campaign finance reform, and several neat GOP tricks that have long been used to prevent such long-overdue efforts to keep corporations out of our elections altogether.
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us once again for our latest Green News Report, which, as always, is chocked full of important news, including Japan's announcement that they intend to dump more than a million tons of radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea. And we close with a follow up to that story from the Guardian today, regarding Japan's ill-fated attempt to marginalize concerns from their own citizens and neighboring countries, by using a cartoon character dubbed "Little Mr. Tritium" to make the massive release of radioactive wastewater slightly more adorable than it actually otherwise is...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: U.S. global threat assessment warns climate change is a clear and present danger; Japan to dump Fukushima's radioactive wastewater into the Pacific Ocean; Biden's budget seeks to undo Trump's damage; Atmospheric methane hits largest single-year increase on record; PLUS: To combat climate change, France moves to ban short airline flights... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): China ‘Must Shut 600 Coal-Fired Plants’ To Hit Climate Target; Big Companies Line Up to Crush Green Transparency Resolutions; Study Finds Lower Life Expectancy Around Superfund Sites; Tribal Lawsuit Halts Donlin Gold Mine; 'Seismic shift' at FERC could kill natural gas pipelines; Florida To Close Wastewater Reservoir With Leak History... PLUS: DDT’s Toxic Legacy Can Harm Granddaughters Of Women Exposed: Study... and much, MUCH more! ...
On today's BradCast: Joe Biden is on a "go big" roll that has stunned even many long time progressives. Another one of them joins us on today's show to sing the praises (mostly) of his $2.25 trillion infrastructure, jobs and climate proposal known as the American Jobs Plan. It will be paid for --- at least in very small part --- by ending long time direct subsidies (yes, government socialism) to the Fossil Fuel Industry. But, even on that, the industry is getting a break that they shouldn't. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
First up today, however, some noteworthy news headlines...
Then, we're joined by the great energy and climate journalist DAVID ROBERTS --- formerly of Vox, now publishing his own must-read newsletter called "Volts" --- for insight into Biden's plans to pay for what Roberts characterizes as a remarkably progressive infrastructure, jobs and climate proposal.
Introduced two weeks ago, the American Jobs Plan is to be paid for largely by an increase on the corporate tax rate. But, as Roberts detailed in a recent Volts article, it will also include a repeal of some of the permanent subsidies to the Fossil Fuel industry which they have enjoyed for decades, as written into the tax code. While many progressives are pleased about that, including Roberts, the fact is that those direct subsidies to the industry, as he points out, amount to a very small fraction of the cost of Biden's ambitious plan. Indeed, at some $35 billion for the entire industry, spread out over ten years, it also amounts to a very small amount of the true cost of the "indirectsubsidies" or "externalities" which the public pays for to boost profits for the polluting industry.
The direct subsidies, says Roberts, are "a drop in the bucket" compared to "the total amount of money that would be raised if you went after the indirect subsidies" with a carbon tax that accounts for the true cost of the industry's "products that produce a lot of social harm. Harm in terms of air pollution that they generate, which then produces health costs, and people miss work. There's the climate damages that they do when they're burned. There's land pollution. There's abandoned oil and gas wells at the end of their life. Those cost a lot of money" to clean up, which the companies rarely, if ever, do.
"The oil and gas industry itself doesn't pay any of those costs. So when your product imposes all these costs and you don't pay them, the public steps in and pays them. Like the kids with asthma who are paying, rather than the fossil fuel companies." Roberts suggests "those externalities, as they're called, have always been the premise for a carbon tax, why we would want to put a tax on carbon so that you can recoup all these damages that the oil and gas industry are not paying for."
Still, setting aside how the package is to be paid for, Roberts concedes that he is "pleasantly surprised" about the "super-big and ambitious" package which includes, as he also details, a whole bunch of cool stuff that has received little coverage, since there is actually so much packed into the sweeping, long-overdue proposal.
How to get it passed, however --- and, specifically approved by "our emperor and benefactor Joe Manchin, long may He reign" --- is another matter, which we discuss in detail today as well.
"Where we are is so ludicrously far away from where we need to be, that it becomes difficult to judge anything in the middle," Roberts argues. "Is this a good big step or is it a grossly inadequate step? Yes. It's both. Everything we're going to do on climate change for the next decades will fit that description. It's going to be big and not big enough."
We then close today with a quick thought or two on a new statement from hundreds of companies and corporate executives in opposition to the GOP attempts to restrict voting rights around the country. We hope to have more time to discuss the matter on tomorrow's BradCast...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
Hopefully today's BradCast, if nothing else, serves as a friendly reminder that Liz Cheney --- whether or not she met the incredibly low Republican bar by voting to impeach Donald Trump after the January 6th MAGA Mob insurrection at the U.S. Capitol --- is still not your friend, much less some sort of hero. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of summary below.]
Among the many news items and important insights and context covered on today's program...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: U.S. West sinks deeper into drought, setting up dangerous fire season and water cutbacks on the Colorado River; California unveils sweeping wildfire prevention plan; Major battery company settlement allows Georgia EV factory to move ahead; PLUS: NOAA predicts above-average 2021 hurricane season, and redefines the new 'normal'... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Texas Wind Energy Set a Record—But Republicans Are Still Trying to Squash It; US to enter mega drought which will be the worst for 1200 years – here’s what to expect; Nervous North American farmers set to 'seed in faith' into parched soils; U.S. Won’t Shut Dakota Access Pipe Amid New Environmental Review; Japan Says It Plans To Release Contaminated Fukushima Water Into Sea; Leaked calls show ALEC’s secret plan to fight Biden on climate ... PLUS: Are Huge Tree Planting Projects More Hype than Solution?... and much, MUCH more! ...
On today's BradCast, our lonely fight to save what is left of our public airwaves continues, as mainstream media outlets continue to benefit from --- and therefore do not bother to report on --- the march toward full corporate ownership of what were once our prized and protected airwaves. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]
But first up today, the breaking news on that nation's latest school shooting. Today it was in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Next, the vaccination of the nation continues apace, with about 36% of adult Americans now having received at least one shot. This week, many more states will open eligibility to all adults 16 years of age and older in advance of Joe Biden's national date for doing so in all 50 states next Monday (April 19). Here in Los Angeles, all adult residents will be eligible as of Tuesday. We offer a few tips for how to get an appointment quickly. (Specifically, Kaiser-Permanente appears to have tons of available appointments, for members and non-members alike, via their website at KP.org.)
While vaccinations are proceeding at an impressive pace, hitting another 24-hour record of 4.6 million shots on Saturday, the race to outpace the spread of variants continues. While much of the nation is plateauing in case numbers at high levels or even surging slightly upward, a number of states, particularly in the Northeast and upper Midwest are surging quite steeply. The most disturbing case at the moment, by far, is in Michigan, where its Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer has been begging the Biden Administration for a vaccine surge in response to a spike that is as bad there as it was last Fall. For reasons that aren't entirely clear, the Administration has offered additional vaccinators and test kits, but not additional vaccine as of now. The CDC Director said on Monday that what is needed in MI's case is not more vaccine, but lockdowns. However, one of the reasons the state is in such bad shape now is because Trump-incited rightwingers last year not only rebelled against Whitmer's mandatory lockdowns, but even hatched a plot to kidnap her after Trump tweeted to "Liberate Michigan!"
What happens in Michigan, unfortunately, won't stay in Michigan. Their surge will spread elsewhere unless someone figures out how to get it under control. Similarly, what happens in Georgia will absolutely not stay in Georgia, as Republican lawmakers across the country are continuing to push voter suppression measures akin to the suppressive law adopted by Republicans in the Peach State last month.
The corporate pushback against Georgia's anti-voting law and those in other states continues to grow. Over the weekend, 100 corporate executives held a Zoom meeting to discuss how they planned to respond. On Monday, the first major Hollywood production --- Will Smith's "Emancipation" film --- previously set to film in Georgia, announced they were pulling production from the state due to the new law. Other productions could follow suit, given that Georgia has become a bit of a filmmakers Mecca by offering generous tax breaks to Hollywood production teams.
In addition to the group of corporate execs planning their own actions against anti-democracy laws, a group of some 60 law firms is reportedly teaming up to take action as well. That said, it's pathetic that the citizenry has to rely on corporations to become angry enough that Republicans might pay attention to their concerns --- the same concerns that the GOP ignored when they came from the citizenry itself before Georgia adopted its new law. In today's America, the citizenry don't seem to matter. It's corporate dollars to (or withheld from) Republicans that appears to be our only chance of convincing desperate Republicans to block or rollback these onerous restrictions on access to the ballot box. We're happy to see companies jumping in, but its absurd that we need to rely on them to somehow save "democracy".
Speaking of the need to save democracy, we're then joined by media reform activist SUE WILSON of the Media Action Center. Late last year, she and former Republican FCC official Art Belendiuk joined us on the program to discuss actions they were taking to expose the fact that rightwing media behemoth Sinclair Broadcasting appeared to be blatantly violating FCC ownership rules by taking secret ownership of more than one television station in a number of major markets, using sham front companies to skirt federal scrutiny.
At the same time, as Wilson reports today at BradBlog.com, the FCC has been attempting to change its own media ownership rules to allow for more corporate consolidation by granting major broadcasters the right to own more than one TV station in any given market. The FCC's initial attempt to change the rule preventing companies from controlling all of the public airwaves in major markets was blocked by the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which found that the FCC violated the Administrative Procedures Act in not carrying out proper studies to determine the effects of the rule change on broadcast outlets owned by women and minorities. SCOTUS heard the FCC's appeal in the case on January 19th (Trump's last full day in office). The Court handed down its decision in FCC v. Prometheus Radio Project on April 1, overturning the lower court to allow the FCC's new, relaxed ownership rule, even as Justice Kavanaugh, in his opinion for the unanimous Court, conceded that the record evidence relied on by the FCC was "sparse". But, he held on behalf of the Court, the rules in question, now changed by the FCC, "were no longer necessary to serve the agency's public interest goals."
As Wilson found, however, the reason the record was so sparse was because the FCC had carried out no studies of its own to determine the adverse effect of consolidation on minority owned business before formalizing their new rules. They relied instead on private organizations to present evidence as to why the consolidation would harm minority broadcasters. But private organizations did not have access to much of the FCC's public information, because the federal agency hasn't collected the information from stations around the country.
It all amounts to what Wilson describes as a Catch-22 that ill-serves the public, and further undermines our public airwaves, handing off even more control to corporate interests, rather than we, the people. "This is the worst decision that nobody knows about," Wilson tells me. And, of course, they don't know about it, because mainstream corporate broadcasters benefits from the rule change, so they haven't bothered to mention much about it to any of their listeners or viewers.
Wilson argues that Congress needs to take action, and asks listeners to contact their members of Congress. "We're finding that Republicans and Democrats are very interested in this [because] this is bad for our whole country."
Finally, we open up the phones for a few quick minutes today, to hear from listeners on both the FCC's latest boondoggle and with more thoughts on vaccination nation...
While I was researching a piece last September about Sinclair Broadcasting's illegal TV ownership shell game, I stumbled into a Supreme Court case. Donald Trump's Federal Communications Commission Chair, Ajit Pai, had filed a case at SCOTUS, Federal Communications Commission v. Prometheus Radio Project [PDF], which would allow one media conglomerate to own the local newspaper, 2 network TV stations, 1-2 additional TV stations, and 8 radio stations --- all in the same community.
The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals had previously found, in 2017, that the FCC failed to adequately study the matter before making the rules change that would adversely affect ownership of media outlets by women and minorities.
But the danger of the scheme to all of us was immediately apparent. Imagine the potential for propaganda by allowing one company to control the local reporters in virtually every media outlet in a single town!
I had already discovered that Sinclair Broadcasting was illegally controlling three TV stations in Columbus, Ohio, and doing little more than duplicating local news content across all three stations. So, on advice of my colleague and friend Brad Friedman, I began writing an Amicus ("Friend of the Court") brief in the case to inform the U.S. Supreme Court of this and other related information.
My first step was to find the research papers the FCC had done on the topic before its Chair --- on behalf of we, the people --- filed its case with SCOTUS. To my surprise, however, I found there were none. Zip, nada, nothing. The FCC was literally taking a case to the Supreme Court in which it had done no independent research at all...
On today's BradCast: Maybe we've been too quick to say that Republicans no longer have any governing philosophy or legislative agenda. They do. And it's being carried out. Just not be elected officials. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]
But first up today, following 'good' news for Alabamians on yesterday's BradCast, as the state's corrupt, lying, homophobic, vote suppressing Republican Sec. of State John Merrill was publicly revealed as the sleazy, cheating, liar that he is (joining a very long line of corrupt, lying, cheating top Republicans in the state, as we break down today), some less good news today for workers in the state.
The unionization vote at Amazon's warehouse in Bessemer, near Birmingham, apparently lost by a nearly two to one margin, after millions were spent in a campaign by the company to scare and misinform its workers. The union is crying foul, charging that the nation's second largest private employer violated labor laws in its campaign to propagandize workers at the facility. They vow to challenge the company's "lies, deception and illegal activities" with the National Labor Relations Board.
"We won’t rest until workers' voices are heard fairly under the law," the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) President railed in a statement on Friday after results were announced, claiming the company illegally interfered with the vote. "When they are, we believe they will be victorious in this historic and critical fight to unionize the first Amazon warehouse in the United States."
For their part, Amazon disputes all of the union's charges, asserting that their "employees heard far more anti-Amazon messages from the union, policymakers, and media outlets than they heard from us." That, even after Amazon posted anti-union messages, literally, inside of bathroom stalls at their Bessemer fulfillment facility and forced workers to sit through hours of seminars on the evils of unionization.
Meanwhile, at the White House today, Joe Biden announced his new Executive Order to form a bi-partisan Presidential Commission to examine potential reform of the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as the federal judiciary overall. The declaration makes good on a 2020 campaign promise in response to calls for expansion of the GOP's stolen and packed Court. A report is expected in six months, following a series of public hearings by the Commission. Of course, any actual reforms to SCOTUS would likely require ending or modifying the Senate filibuster, which Lord Joe Manchin has expressly prohibited at this time.
As our guest notes today, that all works out great for the Republican Party who, at first glance, appear to no longer have any actual party principles, governing philosophy or legislative agenda, beyond suppressing voting rights in order to keep themselves in power.
But that's not actually true, argues our guest, Supreme Court expert IAN MILLHISER, Senior correspondent at Vox.com and author of the new book, The Agenda: How a Republican Supreme Court Is Reshaping America. He details in both the book and his recent New York Times op-ed that the GOP does, in fact, have a legislative agenda. But it's not being carried out by either of the elected branches. "Its agenda lives in the judiciary," he explains, "and especially in the Supreme Court."
Millhiser runs down the extraordinary agenda that activist jurists at SCOTUS have accomplished on behalf of Republicans from 2011 to 2020, and warns there is much more to come as "the Supreme Court is now the locus of policy-making" while GOP lawmakers in Congress have halted the passage of pretty much any actual legislation.
"We are basically at the end of a lost decade in Congress," he tells me. "From 2011 when Republicans took over the House, until 2020 when the pandemic happened and doing nothing really wasn't an option, Congress did a lot of nothing. They passed the Trump tax bill, but there was very little major legislation enacted." During that same period, however, the Republican-dominated activist SCOTUS was exceedingly busy.
"They severely weakened the Voting Rights Act. They basically dismantled much of our campaign finance law. They permitted states to opt-out of the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court created this new religious liberty doctrine that allows people with religious objections to the law to diminish the rights of other people. They weakened sexual and racial harassment laws. They expanded something called forced arbitration, which allows your boss, or really any company you deal with, to force you to sign away your right to sue them. They undercut public sector unions. They effectively eliminated the President's recess appointments power. They halted Obama's Clean Power Plan," Millhiser summarizes.
He goes on to preview more of what the Court has in store, particularly when it comes to voting rights, noting that this Court has been "attacking democracy in two ways --- by preventing the people in office from governing, and then also by harming the process that we use to pick who our leaders are."
So, how can this mess be turned around? Millhiser warns it's unlikely to be correctly quickly. But, until it can be, Americans must continue to vote in large enough numbers to ensure there are lawmakers in office who actually want to protect democracy rather than destroy it and, ultimately, reform our broken judiciary.
Finally, we leave on a slightly more upbeat note, with more from former Republican House Speaker John Boehner's new book in which describes his own party as "unrecognizable" now; says he was wrong to go along with the impeachment of Bill Clinton; calls out the rightwing media echo chamber for poisoning our politics; blames Donald Trump for sowing "chaos" and inciting the "bloody insurrection on January 6th" by "claim[ing] voter fraud without any evidence", while reserving his greatest contempt for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Why is that a "more upbeat note"? Because it gives us the chance to close today with a new song from national treasure Randy Rainbow about how much America loves to hate on both Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham. Enjoy!...
We try like crazy to avoid sleazy, tabloid sensationalism on The BradCast. But, at this point at least, the Republican Party has made that pretty much all but impossible. Just covering any of the latest actual, legitimate news from the party which seems to be in free fall right now, necessarily requires a whole bunch of sleazy, cheap, tawdry stories that sound sensationalistic and tabloidy...but that's only because they are...whether we like it or not. [Audio link to today's full show is posted below this summary.]
On the way to the central story in our A Block today, regarding the stunning crash and burn of Alabama's Sec. of State who, until late yesterday was likely to have been a front-runner for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated next year by Republican Senator Richard Shelby, we are forced to reference a number of the sleazy cheap stories that have now become central to the GOP itself...above and beyond their nationwide attempt to suppress Democratic-leaning voters in a democracy...
Move the clock forward to 2020, and Merrill, using his powers as Alabama's top election official, prevented Counties in his state from offering safe, curbside voting for those who feared exposure to the coronavirus inside polling places. Despite a state court order to allow it, Merrill refused and took the matter all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. He was ultimately victorious in his efforts to suppress Alabama voters who feared for their lives and were forced to choose between staying safe and casting a vote inside the polls during last year's Presidential election.
And now, the clock turns forward to yesterday when, on Wednesday morning, Merrill --- who is married with two children and who had already begun his campaign for the GOP nomination to fill the U.S. Senate seat being vacated next year by Sen. Shelby --- denied an extra-marital affair with a 44-year old women that he described as a "stalker" who had been "harassing" him. Just hours later, however, by Wednesday afternoon, Merrill admitted to his years long involvement with the woman after AL.com played him a portion of a salacious phone call between him and her that she had provided to the media outlet. Yes, we share part of that call on today's show. Yes, we told you this was all sleazy. Yes, the story is actually much sleazier than we are sharing with you on air today. And, yes, there is something very wrong with Merrill, as we had repeatedly tried to explain over the years ever since my first bizarre encounter with him.
Merrill, who is already well known for his anti-LGBTQ statements, has denied describing African-American judges and voters --- whose rights he's supposed to be protecting --- as "the coloreds," as the woman also alleges. We'll let you decide if you'd like to believe him or not. He says he is seeking help from "the Lord". He has yet to resign from his role as the state's chief election official or from his position as Chair of the Republican Secretaries of State Executive Committee.
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: President Biden responds to Republican attacks on his infrastructure jobs plan; New analysis warns of looming wave of abandoned oil and gas well; Treasury to leverage private spending to decarbonize economy; PLUS: GM goes all in on all-electric future... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Don't watch Netflix's 'Seaspiracy'; Sea level rise is killing trees on the Atlantic Coast, creating 'ghost forests' visible from space; NOAA scientists alarmed at surging atmospheric CO2, methane; Wyoming bills to slow coal plant closures, including suing other states for moving away from coal; Even the Great Lakes' deepest waters are now warming; PG&E faces criminal charges for 2019 CA fires; Florida crisis highlights nationwide risk from toxic waste ponds; Climate deniers regulating Texas oil and gas have avoided blackout scrutiny... PLUS: In the Heartland: Clean energy has to make its case... and much, MUCH more! ...
The long, necessary and arduous 'Clean up on Aisle 45' isn't only a domestic challenge. The disgraced former President also left a disastrous mess behind in hard won foreign alliances and unilaterally broken international agreements. On today's BradCast, we dive back into the landmark, 7-party nuclear accord with Iran which Donald Trump not only violated and broke, but specifically sabotaged thereafter in order to make it more difficult, if not impossible, for future American Presidents to restore. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]
But before we dive into that foreign mess today, the domestic disaster Trump unleashed on January 6th at the U.S. Capitol continues to reverberate. On Wednesday, 10 more members of Congress joined the federal civil suit filed against the former President in February by Mississippi's Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson. The suit charges Trump violated the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 by inciting his supporters to block Congress from carrying out its Constitutional duty of counting and ratifying the Electoral College vote from the 2020 Presidential election.
The newly amended complaint, filed by the NAACP, also names Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, the white supremacist group The Proud Boys (and several newly formed entities created after the legal dissolution of that extremist organization), as well as the Oath Keepers as defendants. It details the trauma suffered by the Congressional members during the deadly attack and in the days that followed.
In February, a 57-43 majority of the U.S. Senate, including 7 Republicans, found Trump guilty of "Incitement of Insurrection" during his historic second impeachment trial. The plaintiffs in the amended Thompson complaint seek both compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief, with the dollar amount to be determined by jurors at a D.C. federal court trial.
Coincidentally today, the New York Times obtained an excerpt from a new book by former Republican U.S. House Speaker John Boehner who correctly writes that his party has been taken over by "whack jobs" and cites Trump as having "incited that bloody insurrection," charging him with "stoking the flames of conspiracy that turned into violence in the seat of our democracy."
Next, we turn to one of Trump's (many) foreign disasters, as talks began this week in Vienna, through intermediaries for the U.S. and Iran, in hopes of finding a way toward restoration of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between the two countries. The pact was struck after years of delicate negotiation by the Obama Administration along with China, France, Russia, the UK and Germany. As you'll recall, Trump unilaterally violated the otherwise successful deal that curbed Iran's nuclear program and removed stockpiles of uranium from the country in exchange for the lifting of certain sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
Even though the Trump Administration confirmed Iran's compliance with the terms of the deal, the 45th President nonetheless violated it by by pulling the U.S. out and re-imposing punishing sanctions. According to our guest today, however, that's not all he did. Trump also imposed additional punishing sanctions and did so in a way that would cripple the ability for any future President to lift them and return to the agreement.
We're joined today by DR. TRITA PARSI, Middle East foreign policy expert and Executive Vice President of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Parsi, who also co-founded the National Iranian American Council, the largest Iranian-American grassroots organization in the U.S., worked as an advisor to the Obama White House during the complicated negotiations for the 2015 deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (or JCPOA). He documents those efforts in his book, Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran, and the Triumph of Diplomacy.
Today, Parsi details Trump's sabotage of the JCPOA, and the clever trick employed by the Administration to make it far more difficult to lift the "sanctions wall" they imposed. While his Administration was a failure at just about everything else, Parsi quips, "I don't think anyone actually has accused them of being bad at destruction. At destruction they actually excelled quite well, and in almost an unprecedented and unparalleled way."
During the conversation, he goes on to explains the clear --- if difficult --- road back toward restoration of the accord; discusses the week's encouraging news out of Vienna; outlines the urgency of the talks just two months before new elections are held in Iran; and offers insight on the price the U.S. may now have to pay in order to win back the trust of the Iranians after the U.S. violated the hard-won terms of the agreement.
"To put it into context," Parsi tells me, "the Iranians just signed a 25-year agreement with the Chinese. The Iranians probably do not care at all who comes in and replaces [Chinese President] Xi, they don't care who is the head of the Communist Party, because they have confidence that the Chinese are going to keep their word. Whereas on our end, unfortunately, we couldn't keep an agreement for two years, even one that we were the lead negotiator of."
In some related-ish news which broke during our conversation with Parsi, the Biden Administration announced plans to restore some $325 million in U.S. humanitarian assistance to Palestinians which had been terminated by the Trump Administration.
Finally, we close today with an update on the landmark unionization vote at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, at what would be the first such facility in the U.S. for the retail giant where workers win collective bargaining rights. Voting in the mail-in election ended about a week and a half ago. So what's the delay in learning the results? I explain the complicated process the federal National Labor Relations Board must carry out in tallying the secret ballots from the company's 5,800 warehouse workers in Bessemer. Long story short: We may be hearing news of the results fairly soon...
We have several fairly stunning plot twists to try and make sense of on today's BradCast, as Democrats hit a potential legislative jackpot in the U.S. Senate and Republicans pretend to turn against big business while actually turning against small government. [Audio link to the full show follows the summary below.]
Among the many stories covered on today's twisted up program...
And, if you're keeping score at home, that means the adrift Republican Party now claims to oppose corporate free expression in politics (they don't really) and are against local government decision making (they always have been, at least when small, local governments disagree with the GOP's corporate paymasters). Told you everything was twisted today! Or, as Desi Doyen smartly observes at one point: "It's not logical. It's political."
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