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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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Rogue Republicans and rogue Democrats on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
First up, the rogue --- and really dumb --- Republican in Michigan's Adams Township. The Township Clerk there, Stephanie Scott, was elected last November and is certain that the election must have been fraudulent, even though she won and Trump was certified as defeating Joe Biden in the County by 48 points. (That's more than Trump won by in 2016!) Scott was a QAnon loon before the 2020 election and even more so since then. This week, she was removed by the State Elections Bureau from her job and replaced, for now, by the Republican County Clerk in Hillsdale County (home of Adams Township), who discovered on Tuesday that the Township's tabulation computer, the "brains" of the whole system, is now missing in advance of next week's local elections.
Michigan State Police are said to have launched a criminal investigation, and Scott seems to admit to a Michigan news outlet that she stole it, claiming that the vendor, Hart Intercivic, was coming in to perform routine maintenance that was actually a secret scheme to delete all of the evidence of fraud on behalf Joe Biden in the 2020 election. Or something. The Township votes on hand-marked paper ballots. So if the new Clerk had any actual concerns about whether the computer accurately tabulated results last year, she might have tried hand-counting those paper ballots to find out. The population of the entire Township is only about 2,500 people. But apparently Scott is not particularly bright, despite all of her QAnon "research".
We unpack the entire insane incident, which echoes one from a few months back, where the Republican County Clerk in Mesa County, Colorado also had to be replaced by the Sec. of State after she brought two people with her into the secure area where voting systems are stored in the middle of the night, turned off the security cameras, made full, unlawful copies of the hard drives of the Dominion Voting System's Election Management software and then released it to the Internet during MyPillow CEO and failed conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell's so-called "cyber symposium" in South Dakota. The unlawful release wreaked havoc and a call for "emergency action" before California 's Gubernatorial Recall election just weeks later. The Mesa County Clerk is also facing a criminal investigation because, ya know, they're all "law and order conservatives" who think it's just fine to steal voting systems and software when they feel like it.
Of course, there are very real concerns about vulnerabilities in such voting systems, though zero known evidence to date that any of them were used to steal any election last year. But these lamebrains don't seem to have a clue what the vulnerabilities actually are or what to legally do about them, even though many of us real Election Integrity advocates have been showing them how to do exactly that for nearly 20 years.
As to the Democratic rogues in our stories today, we're joined again by the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hulaballoo to talk about Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) and if their real game is actually to undermine the entire Biden agenda by weakening, stalling and then ultimately just killing the Build Back Better bill.
The pair have already succeeded in gutting a number of the most popular key provisions of the bill favored by progressive and centrist Dems alike, and even by Republican voters (if not members of Congress). Though there are a boatload of critical, long-overdue and progressive programs still left in what the White House described as the bill's new "framework" [PDF] on Thursday. But do Manchin and Sinema intend to let even that much go through to full passage? Or are they playing a different game entirely? We discuss it all with Digby today.
We also discuss the painfully disinformed, so-called "progressives" out in the Twittersphere and beyond who are actually either gullible enough or disinformed enough to believe that Biden and Pelosi and Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal --- not to mentioned Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez(!) --- have all been coopted by "corporatists" (or something) to undermine Biden's own agenda and the bill that the entire Democratic caucus, save for Manchin and Sinema, would have approved months ago when it was twice the size in dollars.
The corporate media also come in for criticism again today, for their failure to accurately inform the American people of the wildly popular provisions that were and still are in the still-transformative Biden agenda (even as Democrats themselves share some of that blame). Instead, the media have turned the negotiations over Build Back Better into a misleading game of (paid for) spending numbers and a "showdown" between "progressives" and "centrists". In fact, it's always been a no-choice effort by Congressional and White House Dems to win the must-have votes of Manchin and Sinema --- ("The Diva Twins" as Parton calls them) --- who have opposed many of the bill's most popular programs in a 50/50 Senate.
Lots to discuss here with Parton today, as usual. Please tune in!...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
On today's BradCast: We appear (maybe, probably, hopefully?) one step closer to the end of the endless sausage making process in Congress to get Joe Biden's still-huge, still-transformative (at least for now) agenda through to final passage. At the same time, Big Oil was called on the carpet by Congressional Democrats in the Oversight Committee for their years of lies and deadly deceptions on climate change. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
I've seen a number of predictable, knee-jerk complaints today from some sectors of the Progressive Twittersphere that seem short-sighted, self-defeating and, frankly, both misinformed and stupid. The maddening problem for Democrats in getting Biden's agenda through Congress is not "Democrats". It's Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema! Not to mention every single member of the Republican caucus in both chambers! Everyone else in the Democratic caucus --- in the House and Senate and White House --- was good to go weeks ago with the Build Back Better (BBB) bill when it still clocked in at $3.5 trillion.
Thanks to Manchin and Sinema, however, the measure, according to a new framework "agreement" [PDF] released by the White House today, now clocks in at about $1.75 trillion in spending and is fully paid for with increased taxes on the wealthy and other measures.
Much of the news on this front from the last several weeks has been devoted almost solely to what Manchin and Sinema have forced to be cut from the bill. That, as the two corrupt Democrats push for final passage of the smaller bipartisan infrastructure bill (BIF) that progressive Democrats have smartly refused to pass in the House, using it for leverage to ensure Manchinema don't get their (not-paid-for, deficit-increasing) infrastructure bill and then bail on the larger reconciliation spending package. That critical package still includes climate change action and broad expansion of the social safety net, from health care to education to elder care to child tax credits and much more.
With a continuous drumbeat of what Manchin and Sinema have succeeded in killing from the bill, the American people may have lost sight of a whole bunch of really excellent, very progressive stuff that is actually still in it. Today, after claiming an "agreement among Democrats" on a framework for the Build Back Better Act, (we'll see if there really is such an agreement), President Biden offered remarks at the White House to remind everyone of what is very much still in his critical and transformative legislation. We share his remarks in full today.
Whether the "deal" really represents an "agreement", and whether everything currently in the framework remains in the final BBB, and whether Manchin and Sinema agree to vote for it, and whether enough of the rest of the Democratic caucus will still support it after all is said and done, remains to be seen. But it's long past time to wrap it up and get both the BIF and the BBB working for the American people. As Biden said today: "Let's get this done."
Meanwhile, in the House Oversight Committee on Thursday, the CEOs of six Big Oil companies and their major lobbying groups were called on the carpet for their decades of deadly lies about global warming and their hundreds of millions of dollars spent deceiving the American people about it. Desi Doyen joins us for coverage of the key takeaways and testimony from the Big Oil liars and their GOP apologists and facilitators in the House.
Finally, it's our latest Green News Report in advance of next week's major U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, known as COP (Conference of Parties) 26, where Biden and a bevy of top Administration officials headed today after his speech. It's being touted as the most important such summit since the Paris Climate Accord was hammered out in 2015, with the U.N. warning that current commitments from the nations of the world to curb greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change are still not enough to avoid the worst impacts of our growing climate crisis. But, as usual, Desi also offers some encouraging news on that front as well...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Mind the gap! New U.N. report finds massive 'Emissions Gap' between where we are and where we need to be in cutting emissions; Plastic could become a bigger polluter than coal by 2030; PLUS: Rental car giant bets big on electric vehicles... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): White House Sets Climate Spending At Up To $555 Billion; Fossil fuel messaging has won over Republican voters, poll reveals; Release of EPA Methane Rules Expected This Week; Indigenous Leaders Push Land Tenure Rights As Climate Solution At COP26; Human Rights Group To Investigate Uranium Contamination On Navajo Nation; Gulf Arab states, squeezed by climate change, still tout oil; Wildfires, Cutting, Heating Turn 10 Unesco Forests Into Carbon Sources... PLUS: Amplify Energy Cashed Out Cleanup Fund While Racking Up Violations... and much, MUCH more! ...
It's Election Day in America once again next Tuesday, whether you've noticed or not. In New York, democracy itself is on the ballot, even as longtime election and democracy champions (real ones, not the phony, post-2020 MAGA Mob fakers) differ on how to vote next week on three different democracy- and elections-related Constitutional amendments. On today's BradCast, we discuss all three proposed measures which will have far-reaching consequences for voters both in New York and across the nation. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]
But, very quickly at the top of today's show...As Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) continue to obstruct and, actually, shred the bulk of the far-reaching, long-overdue progressive social safety net and climate change agenda of Joe Biden and pretty much the entirety of the Democratic Congressional caucus, we offer a friendly reminder.
Dems insist on making their Build Back Better package fully paid for (unlike the deficit spending in the separate bipartisan roads and bridges infrastructure deal supported by Manchin, Sinema and a bunch of Republicans). But Sinema has nixed her own party's plan for a tiny tax increase on corporations and the wealthy, even though, in 2017, she voted against the $2 trillion Trump/GOP tax cuts for those same people. One alternate "pay-for" mechanism now being proposed by Dems is a wealth tax on those worth more than a billion dollars or who made $100 million for three consecutive years in a row. On Wednesday, however, Manchin was suggesting such a tax might be too divisive for his tastes, by "targeting" certain people.
So, here's the reminder, courtesy of Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies Program on Inequality: There were 614 U.S. billionaires before the pandemic and 745 of them now. Billionaires have seen their wealth grow 70%(!) since the start of the pandemic, to more than $5 trillion. The money they made during the pandemic alone --- from March of 2020 through last month --- would fully cover the cost of Biden's entire 10-year spending plan in the Build Back Better Act, to offer a transformative expansion of healthcare, education, child care and take on climate change for every person in the nation, more than 330 million of us. Meanwhile, a White House analysis last month found that the wealthiest 400 families in the country paid an average federal income tax of 8.2%. (How much did you pay last year?)
Anyway, that's just a reminder as this madness continues. We'll likely discuss all of that more in the days ahead.
Meanwhile, voters --- at least some of them --- are heading to the polls for off-year elections on Tuesday. The neck-and-neck race for Governor in Virginia is receiving much of the attention, but we have our eyes elsewhere today --- on the great state of New York, one of the nation's, theoretically, most "liberal" states which has some of its most restrictive voting policies.
There are several important state constitutional measures on the ballot this year, with three of them having a direct effect on elections in the Empire State and even democracy across the nation.
While I suspect many believe that folks on the left side of the political aisle might favor all three propositions, that's not actually true, as discussed today with two of New York's longtime champions of election integrity. We walk through all three propositions with them to explain what each may or may not mean for voters and election integrity.
We're joined by DR. VIRGINA MARTIN, who served for 11 years, until 2020, as the Democratic Election Commissioner of the Columbia County, NY Board of Elections and ALLEGRA DENGLER, a longtime election security advocate with Citizens for Voting Integrity NY.
You may be shocked to learn that all three of us do not actually agree on how voters should vote on each of these measures. They each offer their own well-informed and nuanced opinions on the issues at stake in each ballot proposition. We hope this is helpful not only for NY voters, but for others around the nation, where similar issues are being addressed and debated at both the state and local levels, not to mention in proposed federal legislation.
Given Martin's decade-long personal experience as an election official, we also take a few minutes to discuss her thoughts on the ongoing nationwide assault and threats against election officials and poll workers in the wake of sore loser Donald Trump's evidence-free false claims of fraud in the 2020 Presidential election and the very real concerns (as opposed to the MAGA Mob's) when it comes to computerized voting and tabulation systems. Martin made a name for herself amongst election integrity advocates when, in 2010, she joined with her Republican counterpart on Columbia County's Board of Elections to carry out full, transparent hand-counts of hand-marked paper ballots in the county. That, after --- and despite of --- the state's mandate for optical-scan computerized tabulation systems in all of New York's 57 counties...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
As usual, we're looking both forward and back on today's BradCast...and not a whole lot of it looks fantastic in either direction. But their could be some accountability on the horizon, which always looks good to us. [Audio link to full show is below this summary.]
First up, some climate and "sausage making" news. New polling finds that a majority of Americans --- in both major parties --- now finally see our quickly worsening climate crisis as being of "high importance" to them. We break down the new survey and what it does and doesn't mean.
In related matters, as discussed on yesterday's program, there is still a chance that the U.S. could meet President Biden's pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming in half by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2050, even after corrupt, coal-state Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin insisted on removing the key program for clean electricity from Biden's Build Back Better reconciliation bill. That program would have paid utility companies to move quickly to clean energy sources and penalized those that stuck with dirty, dangerous fossil fuels like coal and natural gas. But those already long odds may be getting much longer if Manchin is successful in removing yet another key climate provision from the bill, fees that are to be levied against the release of methane from oil and gas wells. Desi Doyen explains why that program is so important and how killing or weakening it, as Manchin reportedly wants, could be a fatal blow to our chances of surviving our ongoing climate emergency.
Next, the Biden Administration this week has, for a second time, rejected our disgraced, twice-impeached former President's attempt to invoke Executive Privilege to prevent the release of more Trump-era White House documents regarding the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. The documents are the second tranche requested of the National Archives by the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Trump-incited attack.
That bad news for the former President (but good news for all democracy-loving Americans) comes on the heels of a series of reporting shedding additional light on Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election, including by insurrection at the Capitol. Over the weekend, Washington Post detailed the "war room" effort carried out at the historic Willard Hotel near the White House from December through January, as Trump's activist lawyers, goons and other operatives, such as Rudy Giuliani and Steve Bannon, plotted various ways to overturn Joe Biden's victory.
Another report over the weekend from Rolling Stone documents the ways in which at least seven GOP U.S. House Reps participating in the planning of the rallies that led to the assault on the Capitol. Those members of Congress, according to two of the organizers who served as sources for the magazine (who are also said to be cooperating with the Jan. 6 Committee) are Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Mo Brooks (R-AL), Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), Andy Biggs (R-AZ) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX). In the wake of the reporting, a number of Democrats in the House are now calling for the expulsion of those Republican members.
The Rolling Stone report also cites Gosar as encouraging the two unnamed organizers by telling them they could expect a "blanket pardon" from the President for a separate, unidentified matter in which they are said to have been involved. If true, Gosar's (apparently false) promise, if it was actually made, also seems to place Trump himself squarely at the center of organizing the conspiracy that eventually became a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Monday, on MSNBC, Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, who detailed the Willard Hotel war room in their new book PERIL, offered more details, with Woodward reporting that the pair had "talked recently with a former Republican head of the Criminal Division in the Justice Department who said there is a 'lay down case,' just in what we know --- 18 U.S. Code, Section 371 --- a law that says it is a crime to defraud the government in any deceptive way, and that's exactly what they did here."
Last night, citing Woodward's comment, our guest today, KEITH BARBER, who blogs at Daily Kos under the name "KeithDB", broke down exactly what 18 U.S.C. § 371 actually is and how it could or should be applied here. In addition to being a regular dKos contributor on legal and constitutional matters, Barber is a former U.S. Army Captain, a longtime (now retired) attorney, and a lifelong Republican, at least "pre- Trump", according to his profile at the website.
Today, he walks us through the statute in question today, explaining how it is interpreted by the DoJ and how it appears to apply quite perfectly to both Trump and his cronies in their efforts to steal last year's Presidential election through deception and fraud.
Citing the DoJ's own explanation for its attorneys, Barber notes that he "was really surprised how stunningly broad" the statute is. "It basically can refer to impairing, obstructing or defeating the lawful function of any department of government, or depriving any department of government of its lawful right and duty required by law."
"Here," he continues, "we have counting of the Electoral College votes, very much required by law. That has to be done. A duty of Congress by law. And, arguably, the efforts going on in that 'war room', even setting aside the violence question --- the efforts to, through legalese and bogus Constitutional means, overturn the election --- constituted an effort, through deception and dishonesty, to overturn the election." Barber argues that Trump's criminal conspiracy seems to perfectly meets the DoJ's definition of the law, exactly as Woodward and Costa's former DoJ source posited.
Then, of course, the question is: Will the House Select Committee on January 6 cite that section of federal law and, more importantly, will the DoJ take action to enforce it against Trump and/or his cronies? As we also discuss, the DoJ has been less than aggressive in upholding the conspiracy law against Trump in other matters, such as the criminal conspiracy that both federal prosecutors and his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, allege that Trump "directed" in the hush-money payoffs to adult film actress Stormy Daniels --- for which his co-conspirator Cohen served time in prison.
There's much more in our conversation, including what to make of Gosar's alleged promise of "blanket pardons" and whether the attempts by Trump attorneys, such as John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani, to avoid testimony to the January 6 Committee by claiming attorney/client privilege, will legally hold up. (Spoiler: It won't, explains Barber.)
Finally, we're joined again by Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report on one of the busiest weeks in climate news in our 12 years of producing the GNR. So, I won't even try to summarize it here. But, please do tune in for that and much more on today's BradCast!...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Historic storm slams drought-stricken Western U.S., as climate-intensified extreme weather threatens 90 million Americans across the nation; U.N. study finds greenhouse gas emissions hit new record highs in 2020; PLUS: New reports warn man-made climate change poses a serious and growing threat to national and global security... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): 2050: what happens if we ignore the climate crisis; The world needs to cut its emissions 7x as fast to hit climate goals, UN report finds; EPA deems 'forever chemical' toxic to humans; Total Oil accused of downplaying risk from fossil fuel for decades; Manchin pushes for more climate cuts from budget bill; Natural gas leaks in homes vastly under-reported; Unchecked oil and gas wastewater threatens CA groundwater... PLUS: Plastic's GHG emissions could outpace those from coal by 2030, report warns ... and much, MUCH more! ...
ExxonMobil picked the wrong guy to try and intimidate. That much was clear as day during our interview with him on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
As the most powerful storm in history, with record breaking rain and winds, slams the West Coast, a nor'easter threatens the East Coast and powerful storms, including late season tornadoes, threaten the middle of the country and the Gulf Coast this week. Tens of millions of Americans are currently under threat of severe weather. In total, according to NBC, "more than 90 million people will experience dangerous weather in the form of high winds, flooding rainfall or severe thunderstorms through Wednesday."
Welcome to our climate change-fueled future, where record rains and mudslides are the "welcome" relief to seemingly endless drought and wildfires on the West Coast. And as other regions of the country, still recovering from summer hurricanes, are now staring the barrel of still more climate-related threats. Its going to get much worse from here, according to a new study published on Monday by the World Meteorological Organization. The report finds that greenhouse gas emissions, responsible for our quickly worsening climate crisis, hit a new record high last year and increased at a faster rate than the last decade's average, even amid temporary decreases during pandemic lockdowns.
That report, and several others warning that things are getting worse, not better, come as the nations of the world plan to meet beginning next week in Glasgow, Scotland for a critical, U.N. sponsored climate conference to figure out how to decrease emissions and stave off the worst of what is coming --- and what is already here.
But while some are trying to save the world, others are simply trying to save their own town by pushing back against the fossil fuel industry that caused this mess by lying, for decades, about the dangers of burning their products, while spending millions to lie about the reality of global warming.
On today's program we're joined by Imperial Beach, California MAYOR SERGE DEDINA, who has sued [PDF] ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP and 30 other fossil fuel companies to demand they cover the costs of saving his small, poor Southern California coastal town from the ravages of rising sea levels. According to The Guardian, "Imperial Beach commissioned an analysis of its vulnerability to rising sea levels which concluded that nearly 700 homes and businesses were threatened at a cost of more than $100m. It said that flooding will hit about 40% of the city’s roads, including some that will be under water for long periods. Two elementary schools will have to be moved. The city’s beach, regarded as one of the best sites for surfing on the California coast, is being eroded by about a foot a year."
Dedina has since been attacked by Exxon's attorneys and accused of "collusion" with other towns, some of whom, like Santa Cruz, have also sued the oil giant for fraud. The attorneys even demanded documents from Dedina's cell phone and computers which, apparently, turned up little more than videos of his son surfing.
"I think they're throwing lots of things at the wall to see if they stick," Dedina tells me. "The only thing I have in common with Santa Cruz is that I like to surf, and they have good waves there."
His small majority minority town, bordering Tijuana, has an annual budget of $20 million. That's just $5 million more than the ExxonMobil CEO was personally paid by the company last year alone. Now Dedina wants Exxon and the others to pay up for their dangerous and fraudulent lies about the climate, which are now costing the small coastal town much more than they can possibly afford to save it.
"They're grasping at straws," says the Mayor, in response to the harassment from the oil companies. "They spent millions of dollars on lawyer fees to take on a city that has nothing. Literally nothing. We have nothing to give. We've given it all already. We're just trying to have a decent life for our residents, who have little as well. God, what a waste of money and time."
But Dedina, a lifelong resident, award-winning environmentalist as well as co-founder and Executive Director of WILDCOAST, a non-profit ocean conservation organization, says he has no interest in backing down.
"We're still going to hold them accountable," he explains today. "We're not going to be intimidated. They can't do anything to us that the ocean hasn't already done."
"You grow up in our city, you have nothing. You learn how to be a scrappy fighter and stand up for what you believe in. You fight for what our city needs. That's why I'm mayor, and why I was elected mayor. We're going to keep fighting these companies. They took on the wrong guy," warns Dedina.
Next, we catch up with the weekend "sausage making", as President Biden and Congressional Democrats continue to try and find accommodation for corrupt, obstructionist Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), in hopes of passing the critical healthcare, education, child care, family leave and climate change legislation known as the Build Back Better Act. The weekend's accommodations including more scaling back of the bill and its wildly popular provisions, which are otherwise favored by largely the entire Democratic Congressional caucus and the White House. That, after Manchin already forced the removal last week of the measure's key provision meant to fight the ravages of climate change.
Still, as Desi Doyen reports today, there are enough provisions left --- at least as of now --- that, along with cooperation from states, individuals and private companies, it may still be feasible for the U.S. to meet President Biden's pledge to cut U.S. emissions by 50% overall by 2030, and to reach net zero emissions by 2050. But it ain't gonna be easy. And, even if successful, it may not be nearly enough.
Finally, callers ring in on all of the above, calling out who they blame for all of the various fine messes the nation, and the world, now find itself in.
Oh...and one more thing! As mentioned during the show, I'm going to appear for a Q&A tomorrow (Tuesday) after the 7pm ET/4p PT free virtual screening of the award-winning 2006 documentary Murder, Spies and Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story. The screening is part of a new weekly series by SmartElection.us (where you can register for the Zoom event) and, of course, the film is based on my exclusive reporting of the stunning --- and, at times, terrifying --- story of a computer software programmer who testified in 2004 that he was asked by a sitting Republican congressman to create vote rigging software for touchscreen voting systems. Hope you can stop by and say hello!
It's NICOLE SANDLER, back to guest host the BradCast today for Brad & Desi. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
Thirty years and 11 days ago, a woman named ANITA HILL swore an oath to tell the truth. She then testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about her experience working for Clarence Thomas. It was his confirmation hearing for a seat on the US Supreme Court. Her testimony was devastating. It was the first time anyone ever spoke of sexual harassment in such a public venue, especially from someone who was about to become an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
Those of us who were around and paying attention in 1991 remember it clearly, especially the reference to pubic hair on his coke can. Truly offensive. The only thing more offensive was the treatment of Hill by the panel of white male senators on the Judiciary Committee, including its chair, then-Senator Joe Biden.
After that, you really should listen to her opening statement too.
Well, it’s 30 years (and 11 days) later, and today, I'm talking with ANITA HILL. She's written a new book, Believing: Our Thirty Year Journey to End Gender Violence.
The topic is an important one that she now realized is her calling. Hill changed the world three decades ago. She's setting out to do it again. I hope you enjoy our conversation nearly as much as I did...
We covered a whole bunch of stories on today's BradCast. You'll have to tune in to find out what I have to say about most of them. Suffice to say there was a lot of both good news and bad. Often at the same time. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]
Among the many stories covered on today's program...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Fossil fuel production 'dangerously out of sync' with global climate targets, U.N. warns; Failure to act on climate change imperils millions of lives, new report finds; California expands emergency drought declaration; PLUS: New study finds cutting U.S. emissions is difficult, but doable, and will lower consumers' energy bills... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): What if Build Back Better builds back worse?; Summer 2021 sets new high for average land temperature; If the U.S. spends big on climate, the rest of the world might follow; COP26: Document leak reveals nations lobbying to change key climate report; Is the UK's green plan enough to halt climate change?; Wildland firefighters struggle with homelessness; Wildfire smoke harms more people in the Eastern U.S. than in the West; How big chemical companies avoid paying for pollution... PLUS: Dammit, coal is back... and much, MUCH more! ...
On today's BradCast: President Biden has, thankfully, edged toward the left on a number of things during his candidacy and Presidency to date. Reforming the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court, however, at least for now, does not appear to be one of those things. At least if the findings of his blue ribbon Commission of academics studying potential reforms is any indication.
But first up today, several quick updates on a number of stories we've been covering of late...
Then, we're joined by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, Slate's ace legal reporter and U.S. Supreme Court expert, to discuss the draft report issued late last week by President Biden's blue ribbon panel of academics --- with remarkably little coverage by the corporate media --- on potential reforms for SCOTUS following its years-long bastardization and theft by the Republican Party.
The bipartisan Commission, created by the President in April with a mandate to study potential reforms for six months before issuing a report but not to offer formal recommendations, for some reason). They were tasked with studying the pros and cons of possible changes such as expanding the number of seats on the high court and/or the creation of term limits for Justices. The panel was comprised of 36 academics and Courts experts who, according to Stern, included "a lot of conservatives" with a number of "so-called liberals" who were "mostly moderates and institutional liberals who have a vested interest in a Supreme Court that looks favorably upon them. If you survey it all together, you see what is basically a faculty meeting of moderates and conservatives, with a few token liberals, none of whom were happy with this draft report. None of which is a recipe for any kind of real, meaningful reform."
"Notably," Stern observes, "not a single person added to the Commission had ever endorsed serious Court reform in the past, [while] there were many people who had said that they opposed Court expansion. So in some ways, this Commission was maybe rigged from the start."
While the deck was stacked against Court expansion, the idea of term limits didn't fair all that much better, according to Stern, who cites an obsession by the panel's members with what other nations might learn from a partisan restructuring of the U.S. Supreme Court. That said, as Stern notes, "we are the only country in the world that gives lifetime tenure to our judges and justices. It is obviously a huge mistake. But the committee comes from the perspective that it is basically a great idea and anyone who criticizes it bears a heavy, heavy burden of proving that it would make things better."
He charges that the panel appeared to be essentially "governing out of fear" and that its draft report "projects the worst possible outcome and says, 'We think this is what's going to happen so we shouldn't even risk it.'"
While the Commission's draft argues that America must be mindful that we are "a leader to the rest of the world," Stern notes, "this report does not even begin to grapple with the fact that no other country, except arguably India, gives its high court nearly as much power as we do. No European nation gives its high court the unfettered ability to veto all legislation. No other nation - not Israel, not Chile or Argentina, not Mexico, not Canada --- none of them allow the court to simply smack down any kind of legislative action that it deems to be violative of the Constitution. That's not how judicial review works anywhere else."
"If these scholars took a look around," he argues, "they would realize that other countries have decided our system doesn't work too well, that they want to do something different. I think there's a lot of merit to that, and I find it very disappointing that they don't even grapple with that."
Of course, he has many more observations, including on what appears to be a "one-way ratchet" where the panel cites public opinion polls as a reason to oppose Court expansion, while ignoring the "overwhelming" public polling from across the entire political spectrum favoring term limits and opposing lifetime appointments for U.S. judges and justices. "Giving anyone that much power for so long is just objectively crazy." The draft report also includes a number of flat-out lies and tries to "lay equal blame at the feet of both parties" for the crisis of public confidence, unprecedented in modern times, now befalling SCOTUS. Stern hopes that some of the Commission's liberals, such as the NAACP's Sherilyn Ifill, may correct the record before their final report is issued and used by Republicans for eternity to claim that "Even Joe Biden's court commission opposes term limits!"
Finally, in our closing few minutes, Stern explains the pathetic roller coaster legal rulings that have allowed Texas' new anti-abortion law, S.B.8, to stay in place for now, despite its clear violation of decades of 'Roe v. Wade's legal precedent, and the terrifying ease with which the GOP's stolen and packed Supreme Court is preparing to overturn that and other long-settled precedents.
"You should be terrified," he warns. "We should all be terrified. And we should all be aware that if we choose not to expand the Court, that we are going to have to live with this current conservative super-majority for years, if not decades."
We've been cautiously hopeful for months on The BradCast about President Biden's landmark plan to replace fossil fuel power generation at the nation's utility companies with clean renewable electricity in his Build Back Better (BBB) Act. Those hopes came crashing down on Friday night when the New York Times reported the White House was redrawing its expansive social safety net and climate change reconciliation budget package to remove the landmark Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP) at the insistence of Democratic coal country Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. [Audio link to full show is posted at bottom of this summary.]
The program had been the centerpiece for Biden's vow to reach an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity sector by 2030, towards the goal of net zero emissions economy-wide by 2050. That was to have been accomplished with the key provisions of the CEPP's carrot and stick approach, offering major financial incentives to utilities for moving quickly to clean energy and financial penalties for those who did not. As climate and energy reporter David Roberts explained on this program over the summer, along with incentives to encourage the move to electric vehicles and the electrification of buildings in the Biden agenda, the result of the CEPP would have been a major cut in emissions over all, as those polluting sectors were also moved onto a newly clean electric grid.
Alas, Manchin, who makes millions of dollars from the fossil fuel industry --- both to his personal pockets and campaign coffers --- will reportedly have none of it. That leaves the White House and climate hawks now scrambling to figure out alternative ways to cut deadly greenhouse gasses fueling our climate crisis just weeks before the next U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, when the Administration had hoped to showcase the effort and call for similarly decisive climate action from other nations.
We're joined today by DR. LEAH STOKES, climate researcher and political scientist at UC Santa Barbara, following her testimony to the Joint Economic Committee in Congress last month on the necessity of the electrification of American homes and buildings, to curb fossil fuel usage, improve the health of Americans ("Children growing up in a home with a gas stove have a 42% increased chance of having asthma," she notes) while creating millions of good new jobs.
Stokes, ironically enough, is now literally on the edge of another major climate change-fueled wildfire in the canyons above Santa Barbara. "Yes, it was a bit of tragic symbolism that when the news was breaking that Manchin would not go for the most important part of the climate package, that we had a fire once again in Santa Barbara burning away," she tells us, before adding the encouraging news that the Alisal Fire is now mostly under control after scorching nearly 20,000 acres and burning several homes and buildings.
"In the Build Back Better Act, there are investments to help people transition and switch out gas stoves and gas furnaces for these kinds of new technologies --- induction stoves, heat pumps, etc.," Stokes explains. "Were that policy to make it through Congress, it would deliver some help for people to change to these kinds of new, cleaner technologies."
Of course, the question is what, if anything, will survive the approval of fossil fuel fan boy Manchin in the BBB. As Stokes details: "Within that package, there was supposed to be a really big chunk, $670 billion, for climate investments. That would be the biggest investment we have ever made in climate action. Unfortunately, $150 billion of that money, about 25% of it, was going to be for the Clean Electricity Performance Program," she says. "So the question is how can we ensure that we are still spending that $670 billion? How can we make sure that we have every dollar for climate spending, and we go and try to find every single ton of carbon pollution that we can cut?"
That, of course, is the question of the hour. "The thing about climate change is that we have to actually take it on at the scale that it's necessary. We can't say 'Well, we did two-thirds of it, and that was good enough.' We have to limit warming to 1.5 degrees [above the pre-industrial global average]. That's what scientists have told us we have got to do, and that means we have to cut carbon pollution by 50% this decade. That's what President Biden has pledged to do. But unless we fill the hole left by the Clean Electricity Performance Program, we're not going to deliver on that pledge."
So how can it and will it be done? The White House claims they have alternative ideas. But will they meet Manchin's demands? We discuss. Stokes also responds to Manchin's supposed reasons for objecting to the CEPP --- because it jeopardizes "America's energy independence" and because the government is not needed to pay for efforts that private utilities are already taking on --- detailing why both of those claims are simply nonsense.
"The $150 billion, which was about 25% of the carbon cutting investments in this package, that has got to go towards other programs," Stokes insists. "We can't just say, 'Well, we're going to magically find all these ways to cut carbon pollution for free. No. We need to have investments at the scale of the crisis. There can be other ways to cut carbon pollution, but they need to have real investments behind them. We cannot cut a dollar of the climate spending."
The ever-optimistic Stokes talks me off the ledge by noting that while none of this will be easy, "despair is not an option". She urges listeners to visit Call4Climate.com to help reach your members of the House and Senate, with a useful script to help pressure members to do the right thing for the planet, for humanity, and, if nothing else, for each and every family who will now face the ever increasing costs and dangers of our climate crisis.
"People should not lose hope. They should not feel like this is not a meaningful package, that we're not going to deliver on climate. We are," Stokes maintains. "We just need to make sure that the White House does not cut a dollar of spending, and that they make sure that they're going to make up for the lost pollution cuts from removing the Clean Electricity Performance Program...This is a really transformative bill. It's very close to passage, and people should keep the pressure up."
Next up today, some breaking news out of Brazil, where a Congressional panel there is set to recommend "mass homicide" and "genocide" charges against its very Trumpy President, Jair Bolsonaro, for his deadly mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic. Even if you don't follow Brazilian politics, you'll find the reasons for the panel's recommendations sound incredibly familiar, including Bolsonaro's unscientific recommendations for the use of hydroxychloroquine and the horse de-worming drug Ivermectin to prevent and treat COVID, his failure to deliver vaccines to the public, and his (an his sons') creation of disinformation networks to discourage masking and social distancing. Ya know, the same stuff that has resulted in wingnut radio host Dennis Prager, here in the U.S. this week, contracting COVID, after more than 700,000 have died from the disease in the U.S., many, just like in Brazil, unnecessarily due to the criminal negligence of our own former President. When will Congress recommend criminal charges against him for the very same thing?
Finally, just in case you didn't get enough environmental news (and worries) on today's program, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with at least one or two news items that may help you (and me) rethink the idea of throwing ourselves off a bridge...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin throws a hand grenade into Biden's climate agenda; Biden EPA to crack down on PFAS 'forever chemicals'; U.S. could have as many as 3.4 million polluting abandoned oil and gas well; PLUS: McDonald's finally to offer customers meat-free plant-based options (some of them, anyway)... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): It’s easy to feel pessimistic about the climate. But we’ve got two big things on our side; Satellites Reveal The Secrets Of Water-Guzzling Farms In California; Amid Massive Roundup Cancer Suits, Migrant Farmworkers Are Left Out; Environmentalists Secure Water Rights For Great Salt Lake; Russia Allows Methane Leaks At Planet’s Peril; COP26 in Glasgow: Who Is Going And Who Is Not?... PLUS: How Industrial Chicken Production Is Breeding The Next Pandemic... and much, MUCH more! ...
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