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On today's BradCast: When you're a monopoly power company --- especially in Florida --- they let you do it, I guess. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]
Before we get to the massive scandal(s) unspooling this week in Florida, a few other notes about corrupt media and corrupt power brokers. Donald Trump's favorite "Big Lie" fake news network, One American News (OAN), looks to be on the brink of going out of business, after Verizon joined AT&T to stop carrying their programming this weekend. Sad! At the same time, Trump is threatening to sue actual news network, CNN, because they repeatedly reported on his "Big Lie" attempts to steal the 2020 election. Good luck with that.
Then, it's on to the mind-blowing story out of the Sunshine State this week, where a leak of thousands of documents from a consulting firm in Alabama, has revealed all sorts of corruption by Florida Power & Light (FPL), the state's monopoly public utility company. The Florida papers are having a field day as they comb through the documents, publishing damning exposé after damning exposé on the dirt they are finding, which goes all the way up to FLP President and CEO, Eric Silagy, who, according to our guest today, incredibly enough, still has his job!
The documents were released amid a power battle over Montgomery, AL-based Matrix, LLC, a "powerful but little-known political consulting firm that has operated behind the scenes in at least eight states," according to the Guardian. They reveal a boatload of corruption by FPL, its CEO and many of its executive, including running "ghost candidates" in elections, mounting disinformation campaigns to maintain their monopoly (for example, to oppose residential solar power in the Sunshine State!) and secretly taking over pretty much full control of an "independent", right-leaning "news" site in Tallahassee called The Capitolist.
The website (which is still online, also incredibly enough) has been influential for years among Florida lawmakers. Its editor and founder is a guy by the name of Brian Burgess, the former Communications Director for FL's former Governor, now U.S. Senator Rick Scott. According to a deep dive from the Miami Herald, Burgess was being paid some $12,000 a month by FPL --- via a web of third parties cut-outs, including the consulting firm Matrix --- to publish its propaganda, push its preferred (sometimes fake) candidates, and ruthlessly attack its opponents, including both elected officials and reporters who dared publish stories the power company didn't like.
For insight into this (these) still unfolding scandal (scandals), we're joined today by ALISSA JEAN SCHAFER, the FL-based Research and Communications Manager for the Energy and Policy Institute, a non-profit "watchdog organization working to expose attacks on renewable energy and counter misinformation by fossil fuel and utility interests". Her organization certainly has its work cut out for it with this gobsmacking "web of scandal," as Schafer describes it.
"If you are a Floridian," she notes, "you have no choice who your power company is. We are in a monopoly market. So if you have Florida Power & Light, you're stuck with them. You're paying that bill every month. If you're seeing these headlines, I don't know understand how you can NOT be furious."
"It's kind of a crazy state. People like to make fun of us," concedes Schafer. "But at the end of the day, there are a lot of folks that are being impacted by this nonsense. We have elections coming up, and how are people supposed to know that their votes aren't being manipulated by these fake candidates that are being propped up by dark money. It's a very real concern."
Among those fake candidates, as the Herald reports, was one who was "running" against state Senator José Javier Rodríguez, who proposed legislation to allow landlords to sell cheap rooftop solar power directly to tenants. "I want you to make his life a living hell … seriously,” wrote FPL’s CEO Silagy in a 2019 email to two of his vice-presidents. They then ran a third-party candidate with the same last name as Rodriguez, who split the vote. The state Senator was pushed out of his job by just 32 votes. FPL's "ghost candidate" later admitted he had been bribed to put his name on the ballot.
There is a lot to discuss today with Schafer on all of this, including how FPL is claiming they broke no laws; their ridiculous claim that rate-payer money wasn't actually used to hoax rate-payers through these schemes; and how The Capitolist's editor Burgess is able to claim with a straight face that he has "never pitched nor solicited feedback from FPL executives on any story or business venture" and has "never received a story pitch from any FPL executive." (Of course not. That's what Matrix was for! And they were in near daily communications with FPL execs, according to the leaked documents.)
"If we take a step back and look at our investor-owned utilities across the country, whether they are working with Matrix or not, this is a playbook that we do see time and time again," Schafer explains. "You have a consulting firm as the middle-man to do some of the dirty work, because utilities don't want their name on it. They want to be able to say, 'I never spoke to XYZ.' They can say that because they spoke to the consultant who then spoke to XYZ. You have similar trends of setting up shell companies to pass money through, so that it looks like the utility is just being a utility and not actually a political operative."
Finally today, Mitch McConnell is apparently furious at being out-foxed by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on this week's surprise agreement with Sen. Joe Manchin for a major tax, healthcare and climate deal called the Inflation Reduction Act. McConnell and his fellow Senate Republicans decided to take it out on sick combat veterans who were exposed to deadly chemicals and toxic burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan by voting against healthcare protections for them. Former Daily Show host and actual supporter of America's veterans, Jon Stewart, had a word or two for those Republican Senators at the Capitol on Thursday morning, including: "If this is America First, then America is fucked."
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
When Democrats outfox Republicans you know the world has gone bonkers. But, welcome to another BradCast from Bonkers World! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
With weeks of unprecedented global heat records around the world and here in the U.S., and more deadly flash flooding --- today it was Kentucky's turn, sadly --- a major deal to finally take on climate change among Democrats comes not a moment too soon.
Surprising apparently everyone in D.C., corrupt coal-state Senator Joe Manchin and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced a deal on Wednesday night to raise taxes on huge corporations and allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices in order to help pay for pharmaceutical subsidies for the elderly, expansion of subsidies for individuals who purchased health care on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) exchanges and...wait for it...to make the federal government's largest-ever investment to fight climate change and decrease carbon emissions that cause it by 40% by 2030.
It's not saying much, of course, to say "largest-ever investment" to fight climate change, given how little the U.S. government has ever spent on it, thanks to fossil fuel-funded Congressional denial and obstruction. And whether this measure can actually curb that much of the deadly emissions causing our climate emergency remains to be seen. But the agreement struck, in apparent complete secret by Manchin and Schumer for what is now called the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (nee: Build Back Better Act), is set to raise $739 billion in revenues and spend some $433 billion on long-overdue investments (including at least $369 billion for climate) over the next decade. It will also decrease the deficit by hundreds of billions and will keep Joe Biden's long promise to not raise taxes on individuals or companies making less than $400,000 a year. (Shumer/Manchin's one-page summary is here. Full 725-page bill is here. Both PDFs.)
Yes, the new proposal is smaller than Biden and the Democrats had originally hoped, and leaves out some critical stuff for another day. It also includes some pretty outrageous fossil fuel-friendly provisions to win over Manchin. But, all told, this bill is nothing to sneeze at.
The question, of course, is whether all Dems in the Senate (including Manchin, who has a habit of changing his mind, if you haven't heard) and enough Dems in the House can agree to pass the bill. No Republican votes will be needed to pass the spending measure under the Senate's special reconciliation rule.
Schumer says the bill will be put up for a vote next week. That, after he outfoxed Mitch McConnell to broker the deal in the first place. McConnell is so hopping mad about it all that he's now, foolishly, actually taking it out on combat veterans who were exposed to toxic burn pits. We explain how all of this happened on today's show, along with details on what is actually in the bill --- both good and bad --- and what is not.
If it's passed successfully --- still a big "if" --- it could prove to be a breakthrough for Dems in advance of the November elections which, as we've discussed, may not play out with a Dem shellacking as pundits citing "Conventional Wisdom" have long told you. We've been arguing in recent weeks and months that these are decidedly UNconventional times and --- along with the potential...hopeful...maybe passage of this major new bill and its revival of a Joe Biden/Democratic Party agenda --- there are additional reasons this week to remain skeptical of the "Conventional Wisdom" from TV pundits and op-ed geniuses about this year's midterm elections.
Desi Doyen is along for the ride as usual today, with keen insight and smart explanation of the climate portions of the new Dem deal and our latest Green News Report...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Manchin and Schumer reach deal on climate and energy bill; Russia slashes gas deliveries to Europe; PLUS: US Postal Service quadruples its plan to buy all-electric vehicles... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Zeitgeist Matters: If you want to know who changed Manchin's mind --- you did; Climate disinformation leaves lasting mark as world heats up; Streaming service Hulu is rejecting ads about climate change; 1odead in 'One of the worst flooding events in Kentucky's history'; Hurricane flood maps reveal the climate future for Miami, NYC and D.C.; Biden Administration announces initiatives to boost solar energy use; Wildfire pollution may pay surprising role in fate of Arctic sea ice; Grim heat and stressed grids make dangerous outages more likely... PLUS: Largest Audubon chapter yet is changing its name, rebuking an enslaver... and much, MUCH more! ...
We've got some surprisingly good-ish news throughout today's BradCast. Given the grim days of late, we apologize in advance for any confusion. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
Last night, not long after we got off air, there were two pieces of encouraging news on the possibility of seeing criminal accountability against our disgraced former President and his multiple failed attempts to steal the 2020 election. One of those encouraging items was an interview with Attorney General Merrick Garland on NBC News, in which Garland reiterated, yet again, that the DoJ is working diligently "to bring to justice everybody who's criminally responsible for interfering with the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another."
The second, was an exclusive report from Washington Post confirming that "The Justice Department is investigating President Donald Trump’s actions as part of its criminal probe of efforts to overturn the 2020 election results." Many have been questioning for months whether that has been the case, even as a number of guests on this program have repeatedly made the case that Garland and the DoJ are, in fact, proceeding exactly as they would expect if such an investigation was under way. The Post story now seems to confirm that.
Moreover, their reporting also includes several enticing new details, such as the fact that DoJ has, as early as April, retrieved phone records from senior officials in Trump World, including his former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows; that the probe is broad and is specifically asking federal grand jury witnesses about Trump's orders to attorneys and staffers and about his White House meetings in December of 2020 and January of 2021; and includes a number of subpoenas that appear to suggest a whole bunch of top Team Trumpers are actively being targeted by the probe in addition to Trump himself.
And today, CNN is reporting that Meadows' deputy, Cassidy Hutchinson --- who offered bombshell testimony recently to the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection and Trump's attempts to steal the 2020 election --- is now cooperating with federal prosecutors. Additionally, Trump's former Communications Director, Alyssa Farah Griffin, told the news outlet today that she was "aware of other White House officials who have been reached out to by DOJ and are planning to cooperate."
So, yeah, there's some good news for today. But that's not all we have for you.
Earlier this year, we reported in detail on the U.S. Postal Service's outrageous plan to purchase 165,000 much-needed new delivery trucks. But, under the direction of their corrupt Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, appointed during the Trump Administration, a phony economic and environmental study resulted in a deal with a defense contractor that would result in 90% of those vehicles being gas-guzzlers that got just over 8 miles per gallon, while only 10% of the purchase would be for clean, electric vehicles. That, despite our ever-worsening climate emergency and the USPS Inspector General determining that 95% of current routes could, in fact, be handled by EVs.
President Biden has vowed to shift the entire federal fleet to all-electric vehicles by 2035, when he has targeted cutting deadly greenhouse gas emissions by half (on the way to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050). When this corrupt deal came to light, it was opposed by the White House, 16 states and the District of Columbia, as well as a number of environmental groups who filed lawsuits against the quasi-independent government agency.
Well, good(ish) news! Last week, the Postal Service announced they would purchase four times as many EVs as originally planned, increasing the percentage in the new fleet from 10% to 40%.
"The good news is that public pressure is starting to work," our guest today, ADRIAN MARTINEZ, Senior Attorney at Earthjustice, a non-profit environmental law group, tells us. His organization is one of several who filed suit against the Postal Service's original plan to purchase 150,000 gas-powered trucks that would produce roughly the same amount of global warming carbon dioxide as 4.3 million internal combustion passenger vehicles.
Martinez joined us back in February, when he explained the trucks would end up comprising about 30% of the federal government's huge automotive fleet and would burn through "a jaw-dropping 2 to 4 billion gallons of fuel" over their expected 20-year lifetime.
"We still have a lot more work to be done," he says today, responding to the positive news and citing "more than 100,000 emails to the Postal Service" his group helped facilitate. "It's litigation, it's the public correspondence with the Postal Service, and the public pressure working. We've still got a long way to go with them, but it shows you that the more you weigh in, the more you can make progress."
We discuss the scam that has resulted in contractor Oshkosh Defense procuring this contract despite never having manufactured any EVs, and the company's plan to build the USPS trucks at a new non-union facility in South Carolina, instead of their union shop in Wisconsin. We also discuss how it is even possible that DeJoy is still in his post and how new nominees to the USPS Board of Governors may be able to eventually remove him and change the equation on all of this.
"This is a fleet that should be 100% electric," Martinez argues. "We're now seeing shifts in this agency, and what I take is that we need to put even more pressure on the agency to get them where they need to be. This is so many vehicles, and so much oil that we can prevent from being burned, that the stakes are really high."
"Getting everyone to put pressure on this is important," he explains. "This is one of the largest, if not the largest vehicle procurement in history, so we can't get this wrong."
Finally today, in just a bit more good news, President Biden is no longer in isolation from his bout with COVID. After two negative tests, last night and this morning, he looked and sounded much better as he offered his first in-person public remarks in the Rose Garden before heading into the Oval Office for the first time in almost a week. In his remarks, some of which we share today, the 79-year old President credited vaccinations, boosters and anti-viral treatments --- which are now free for all Americans --- for his largely minor symptoms and quick recovery...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
Sending our love and best wishes to get better soon today to our regular BradCast guest host, Nicole Sandler, who cracked a couple of ribs over the weekend, so wasn't able to fill in for us on yesterday's show as previously planned. But, we're back today with --- you'll be shocked to learn --- lots of news to cover! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
Among today's many stories of note...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: State of emergency declared over explosive new Oak Fire near Yosemite National Park; Simultaneous, concurrent heat waves are now six times more frequent, thanks to global warming; PLUS: New study quantifies just how much climate damage rich nations have caused to poor ones... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): The 7 climate tipping points that could change the world forever; Dramatic NASA photos reveal Lake Mead water levels at lowest point since 1937; Gavin Newsom hopes California can become epicenter of wind energy; FPL Secretly Took Over A Florida News Site And Used It To Bash Critics; Air Conditioning Will Not Save Us... PLUS: Is California Carbon Capture Play a Climate Solution or a Ruse?... and much, MUCH more! ...
"Abortion is an essential component of women's health care" -- American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology
"When women are compelled to carry and bear children, they are subjected to 'involuntary servitude' in violation of the [13th] amendment" -- Andrew Koppelman, Northwestern Univ. Law Review (2010)
The moment the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its opinion in Dobbs --- the case in which five of the Court's six right-wing Radicals in Robes voted to completely overturn Roe v. Wade (1973) --- it resurrected a cruel and grotesque division between States that had not existed since the end of the American Civil War.
In 1860, prior to passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, the very existence of a "United States" was under a grave threat due to an unsustainable, race-based divide between Slave States and Free States.
Today, courtesy of Dobbs, our nation finds itself mired in an unsustainable, gender-based divide between Free States, where a woman's reproductive liberties are preserved, and Slave States, where reproductive liberties no longer exist. (Andrew Koppelman's 2010 paper argued that "forced pregnancy" doesn't just deprive women of their "individual liberty". It also denies Equal Protection under law guaranteed by the 14th Amendment because that "deprivation is selectively imposed on women.")
The immediate impact of Dobbs was felt in Ohio, where the only option available to the parents of a 10-year old rape victim was to flee to neighboring Indiana so that their child would not be forced to carry the rapist's baby to term. But even the liberty that 10-year old's parents took advantage of is now threatened by a gender-based, Fugitive Slave Act mentality...
On January 6, 2021, then President Donald Trump wound up his supporters, who he knew to be armed, with lies about a stolen election, which he knew to be false, at a rally near the White House. He then pointed them toward the U.S. Capitol with the instruction to "fight like hell". They did. People died. And during the more than three hours of violent attack, as five people would lay dead, hundreds of law enforcement officials injured, and Trump's MAGA mob coming within feet of fleeing lawmakers --- including the Vice President --- the Commander-in-Chief holed up in the dining room near the Oval Office in White House, ordered that no photographs be taken, watched the carnage on TV, and did nothing to stop any of it.
In fact, as the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the insurrection and Trump's many other failed attempts to steal the 2020 Presidential election made clear on Thursday night's Day 8 --- and as we discuss on today's BradCast Special Coverage --- he wasn't bothered in the least by the carnage. It was all part of the plan. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
The then-President was informed that the riot was under way at the Capitol just minutes after returning to the White House after his speech to rile up the insurrectionists. He spent the next several hours ignoring his sworn duty and oath of office to defend the nation and Constitution, while rejecting scores of entreaties from advisers, friends, top staffers and legal aides, refusing to take any action to quell his angry, dangerous, armed and disinformed mob. But he did, as the Committee laid out in minute-by-minute detail, call friendly U.S. Senators (some of them, such as MO's Josh Hawley, who were fleeing for their lives after firing up the mob themselves) in hopes of encouraging them to further his plan to steal the election from its rightful victor, Joe Biden, during the joint session of Congress to confirm the Electoral College vote.
"Trump didn't fail to act," Republican Committee member and Iraq and Afghanistan combat vet Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) charged, "he chose not to act." That, after turning his supporters "love of country into a weapon," as Committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) asserted, adding: "Donald Trump made a purposeful choice to violate his oath of office."
It was, according to the evidence presented, the greatest "dereliction of duty" ever committed by a sitting U.S. President. By far.
The hearing was incredibly information-dense. With compelling evidence and testimony --- both live and on video tape --- from dozens of former aides, military and national security officials, White House attorneys, staffers and family members, all detailing Trump's hours-long lack of action. No calls to the military or national security or law enforcement agencies. The violence was the plan all along. He did not want to stop it.
Even the next day, as seen in raw footage from the White House, the loser Trump could not declare that the election was over during a brief, scripted, video-taped address to the nation, in which his emotional instability and seething anger was, at times, laid bare for all to see. (Everyone but Fox "News" viewers anyway. Fox didn't show it to them, choosing to run Sean Hannity's show instead, making fun of Joe Biden for having COVID, even as the Committee was revealing Hannity's own texts to Trump's Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, begging him to get the President to take action to stop the attack on the Capitol.)
Perhaps the most chilling moment of the night was the video-taped testimony from an unidentified national security official, his or her voice disguised, detailing how members of VP Mike Pence's Secret Service detail were calling family members, as the mob attacked, to say goodbye, as the officials believed they may not live through the day.
We're joined today by two excellent guest panelists, both old friends and old school bloggers. One, HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo, has been with us for every one of the Committee's summer series of hearings. (They now promise more in September.) And the other is RICHARD "RJ" ESKOW, longtime columnist and host of The Zero Hour on radio and TV.
The conversation, as always with these two, was spirited and insightful. Eskow has some complaints about the Committee, Parton thinks they are doing a superb job. Both have smart thoughts about what we've learned from the hearings so far, including last night, what we still need to learn much more about in the weeks ahead, and what it all may mean going forward.
And, oh yeah, on Friday, just before airtime, a federal jury found Trump's former aide and campaign chair, Steve Bannon, guilty on both criminal counts of Contempt of Congress, for having ignored lawful subpoenas from the J6 Committee for testimony and documents regarding what he knew about Trump's insurrection. He now faces anywhere from 60 days to 2 years in prison, presuming he isn't able to squirm out on appeal between now and his sentencing in October. Parton explains why she thinks today's verdict may actually become a win for Bannon, who she describes as "MAGA Mandela." We'll see if she's right about that.
Lots to cover on today's lively Special Coverage. Please tune in!...
When you thought things couldn't get any more insane (nobody actually thought that, did they?), 79-year old President Biden tests positive for COVID. The White House says he is suffering only "very mild symptoms". We'll hope it stays that way and he gets well soon. Meanwhile, we're still busy trying to save the world on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
Tonight, the bipartisan House Select Committee investigating Donald Trump's Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and his many other attempts to steal the 2020 Presidential election, holds the last of their summer series of blockbuster public hearings, for now. We'll see if Fox "News" bothers to carry this one, since they didn't last time, choosing to run an ad-free episode of Tucker Carlson's show instead. God forbid their groomed viewers turn away during commercials for even a second and learn any actual news.
But, of course, Fox isn't the only rightwing TV channel lying to their viewers day in and out about these remarkable, historic hearings, the deadly events of January 6, and all of the other ways Trump tried undermine American democracy. A new report finds that Newsmax is duping their viewers even worse than Fox, if that's possible, broadcasting at least 40 false claims about the J6 attack since the Committee's hearings began last month. Among the station's lies peddled repeatedly to their easily-played viewers: There were only a few hundred rioters in the Capitol that day (DoJ pegs the number at around 2,000); They were "unarmed" (except for all of the guns, knives, pepper spray, spears, brass knuckles, baseball bats, etc.); and that Trump ordered the National Guard to the Capitol, but was blocked by Nancy Pelosi (the President, not the Speaker of the House, commands the National Guard.)
In any event, whether Fox or Newsmax carry tonight's hearings and/or lies about them, we'll tell you the truth about them on our own Special Coverage on tomorrow's BradCast.
Today, we discuss the need for the long-overdue expansion of the Supreme Court. New polling finds approval of the Court has plummeted over the past two years. According to Marquette University Law School's poll today, 66% of Americans approved of SCOTUS in September of 2020. That number is now at stunning 38%. Their survey follows Gallup's recent finding (before the overturning of Roe v. Wade) that confidence in the Court is at an all-time historic low since they began asking the question in the 1970s.
Of course, this comes on the heels of Mitch McConnell nuking the Senate filibuster in order to pack the High Court with Donald Trump's three corrupt, extremist Republican nominees, including one of them (Amy Coney Barrett) just eight days before the 2020 election. That, after McConnell had changed the size of the Court for over a year while refusing to seat Barack Obama's nominee to the seat vacated by Justice Antonin Scalia in February of 2016, because, according to Mitch, the vacancy came just too close to a Presidential election, when the voice of the American people deserved to be heard first.
But now, with SCOTUS closing out its term with an unprecedented spate of radical rulings --- rolling back long-held Miranda rights; throwing out states Second Amendment rights to well-regulate the concealed carry of firearms; further eroding the long-standing Constitutional separation of church and state; blocking the Environmental Protection Agency from protecting the environment through the regulation of carbon pollution; and, of course, overturning the privacy rights and reproductive freedoms established 50 years ago by Roe v. Wade --- it sure seems like a re-balancing (and de-corrupting) is in order!
Given the striking down of privacy rights in Roe, Democrats in the House have been scrambling to codify reproductive freedom into federal law, along with bills that guarantee the right to both interracial and same-sex marriage, and even the right to use contraception. That, after the Court struck down the same privacy rights in 'Roe' that are the basis of those other Constitutional rights that Justice Clarence Thomas called for revisiting in his concurrence to the majority opinion overturning Roe.
But while codifying those rights into federal statute is critical (most House Republicans voted against all of them this week!), expanding the Court, to UNpack and UNsteal it, so that it represents the American people once again is even more critical.
On Monday, a group of Democratic lawmakers called for exactly that, touting their Judiciary Act of 2021 [PDF] which would expand the number of seats on the Court from 9 to 13. But that measure, so far, has not yet even received a Committee hearing, much less a vote on the Democratic-controlled House floor. What gives?
We're joined today by SARAH LIPTON-LUBET, Executive Director of the non-profit Take Back the Court organization, to discuss exactly that. Her group was formed in 2018 to warn of the danger then posed to democracy itself by the GOP's stolen Supreme Court, and to call for its expansion as the only strategy to re-balance SCOTUS after its 2016 theft. [We spoke with Aaron Belkin, the group's founder, back in 2020.)
"Republicans already changed the size of the Court for a year while they blockaded Merrick Garland's nomination. So a Republican power grab, that's just a part of reality. Given that, isn't a world where we fight for what's right better than a world where we surrender unilaterally?," Lipton-Lubet posits today, when I ask her about the fear expressed by some Democrats that Republicans will just take similar action the next time they are in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House. "To folks who are worried about what Republicans might do in the future, I have to say I'm really worried about what they've done already, and about what we need to do to fix the harm that they've caused in the here and now. They've stolen the Court. They've overturned Roe. They've undermined our democracy. And expanding the Court is our only shot at rebalancing the system and regaining those rights."
"This is only headed in one direction," she warns. "The ideologues on the Court are only going to get more radical. They're only going to get more unhinged. I think leaders can lead, or they try to play catch-up later after countless people have been irreparably harmed. And that's really the situation we're in."
"Living under the control of this Court --- it's not tenable. It's not sustainable. It's not going to stand," she argues. "Eventually we are going to get there." So, why are the bulk of elected Democrats, including the President, still pulling their punches and dragging their feet on this? We discuss that and much more with Lipton-Lubet today.
Finally, Desi Doyen has our latest Green News Report on a week that has been so grim for the climate that we're considering a new name for our GNR. Tune in to find out what it might be!...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Cascading consequences of extreme heat are piling up. Scientists warn it will get worse; E.U. warns member nations to conserve gas as Russia tightens its grip; PLUS: President Biden announces plans for Executive Actions to tackle climate change... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): The terrifying truth: Britain’s a hothouse, but one day 40C will seem cool; Here's how the climate crisis is driving heat waves and wildfires; Diesel fuel spill fouls Bahama's white sand beaches; War and warming upend global energy supplies, amplify suffering; Biden Admin tosses Trump habitat rule curbing protections for endangered species; The science of heat domes and how drought and climate change make them worse; Starvation threat not over for Florida manatees; California forests are vanishing as wildfires burn larger and more intensely... PLUS: 'The scale is hard to grasp': Avian flu wreaks devastation on wild seabirds ... and much, MUCH more! ...
There were almost too many clear and present dangers to fit into today's BradCast. But we did our best. Buckle up. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]
It appears to be Climate Week on The BradCast. Who knew? Simultaneous record-smashing heat waves across the globe (as discussed in some detail on our previous show) from Asia to the U.S. to Europe (where more than a thousand have already died because of it) will apparently continue to continue all week and, likely beyond. Especially after recent actions by our corrupt Supreme Court and the corrupt Sen. Joe Manchin. But there is still plenty that President Biden and you can do about it. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
In Britain, unlike these United States, they have kept records of temperatures for hundreds of years. And never, until today, has the thermometer broken 40 degrees Celsius. Today it did. Smashing 2019's record of 38.7C (or 101.7 Fahrenheit) to hit a remarkable and sweltering 40.3C (or 104.5 Fahrenheit). As Desi helps to put that into perspective today, Britain is more northern in latitude than Calgary, Canada!
While many meteorologists thought, when they saw 40C predicted by computer models a few weeks ago, that it must have been in error, turns out it wasn't. The Chief Scientist at the U.K.'s Met Office today said this kind of temperature in Britain was "virtually impossible" before human-caused climate change.
Here in the U.S., temperatures in much of the country are also breaking records this week, with heat alerts in more than 20 states. All of that on the heels of the corrupt U.S. Supreme Court, last month, making up a pretend "doctrine" to declare that the EPA may not regulate carbon emissions, even though both the Clean Air Act and the Court's own previous ruling mandate that they must. And on the heels of West Virginia's corrupt "Democratic" Senator Joe Manchin, who makes millions --- both personally and to his campaign coffers --- from the fossil fuel industry.
So, what now? Following Manchin's latest Lucy with the football stunt late last week, President Joe Biden declared he would "use every power I have as President to continue to fulfill my pledge to deal with global warming." That pledge includes cuts to man-made greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming to bring carbon emissions down to 50% of what they were before 2005 by 2030 and to reach net-zero by 2050. But with 50 obstructionist Republicans and (at least) one obstructionist Democrat in the Senate, and a corrupt Supreme Court, what tools are available to Biden at this point?
Plenty, suggests our guest today, DR. LEAH STOKES, author, podcaster, and climate policy expert at U.C.-Santa Barbara. Before we get there today, she offers her thoughts on the corruption of both Manchin and the High Court.
Democrats, she explained, when discussing how far they were willing to go to get Manchin to "yes" on a climate deal, pretty much offered him everything he could have wanted through what amounted to 18 months of his bad faith "negotiations."
"It wasn't far-fetched that he would get to 'yes,' because they were willing to give him a lot of things that he wanted --- things that would have helped invest in jobs in West Virginia. For example, there's a program that helps create manufacturing jobs in coal communities. That was in this package. There was also money for things like carbon capture and sequestration, a technology that Manchin really wants to see happen, as well as hydrogen," explains Stokes. "The [Chuck] Schumer team gave him everything he wanted and he still couldn't get to 'yes' --- claiming that somehow it was inflation, when the reality is that economists have told us that the package would fight inflation."
But, of course, Manchin personally makes millions from his family's coal business. So, as Stokes observes, "It's really not that complicated" as to why he was never negotiating in good faith. "There's that Upton Sinclair quote, 'It's hard to get a man to understand something when his paycheck relies on him not understanding it.' Senator Manchin personally profits from the fossil fuel industry. He's making half a million dollars a year --- that's three times more than his Senate salary --- directly off of fossil fuels. So he is lining his pockets when it comes to the fossil fuel industry. He is in bed with the fossil fuel industry both for his personal profit and for his role as a Senator."
As to the Supreme Court, she notes that, even after their recent opinion, "trying to delay progress from the Biden Administration, just like Sen. Manchin," there are still options left for the President. She explains how "the EPA still retains a lot of authority" and that "the Biden Administration retains very important tools, and they need to start using them right now."
We discuss the potential Executive Actions that Biden can now take --- including the declaration of a National Climate Emergency, which may free up even more actions that he could take --- as well as how his Administration is also now free to block many of the programs that they had been holding out as fig leaves for Manchin (and his fossil fueled GOP pals) on hopes of making a deal, including something called the Mountain Valley Pipeline in West Virginia.
But could the Supreme Court subsequently block Biden's Executive Actions as well? We discuss that too. Ultimately, however, as Stokes wrote in her New York Times op-ed over the weekend, despite Manchin, despite SCOTUS, she ultimately remains bullish. "In the long run," she argued, "fossil fuels are just too expensive, dirty and dangerous."
Whether or not humanity will survive that long, remains a separate question, but Stokes cites actions that not only the President can take, but that Governors across the country are already taking, and actions that we can all take which she explains, make an important difference in this fight.
"We should not underestimate the power that we all have," she says, before detailing a long list of things that individuals should be looking at in "our own lives, looking at the fossil fuels that we use," from moving to electric cars and e-bikes, to induction stoves and heat pumps. Especially in states like California, where "a lot of us are going to need air conditioning who haven't had it in the past, and a heat pump is a clean, electric appliance that both heats and cools your home." She notes that CA's Gov. Gavin Newsom recently passed incentives in the budget "that will pay people $3,000 through their contractors to help them afford to put an electric heat pump into their home."
"The solution is not about sacrifice," argues Stokes. "We're talking about cleaner and better technology. It's not about sacrifice, it's really about better solutions. And that's why we're going to win."
Also today, a preview of the closely contested primary races being held today in Maryland, particularly the race for Governor, in one of the few states where Democrats believe they may have a chance of flipping the seat from Red to Blue.
And finally, as our accidental "Climate Week" continues, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with much more on all of the above...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Simultaneous record deadly heat waves strike across the globe; Last month tied for the hottest June ever recorded globally; PLUS: Senator Joe Manchin again tanks Biden and the Democrats' climate and clean energy agenda... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): What Joe Manchin cost us; Humanity faces 'collective suicide' over climate crisis, warns UN chief; The cold crunch: How to cool people without overheating the planet; German solar sets new record, while France's nuclear gasps in the heat; Texas power plants running nonstop risk breakdown; Dems cite 'disturbing' data on crypto, demand new rules; Scientists rush to save 1,000-year-old Bristlecone Pine trees on the brink of death; Some EVs now pay for themselves within a year... PLUS: Shocking report shows how Australian land and wildlife are being destroyed at rapid pace... and much, MUCH more! ...
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