In the hours just before former Republican and current billionaire Michael Bloomberg makes his bought-and-paid-for debut on the Democratic debate stage in Las Vegas, our guest on today's BradCast has a bit of a disturbing scoop about Bloomberg's past comparisons between the AARP and the NRA! [Audio link to full show follows below.]
But, first up first up today, some good news from the courts on voting rights in two different key Presidential battleground states! In Florida, a federal appeals on Wednesday sided with ex-felons suing the state to block a law that prevented many of them from having their voting rights restored after the landslide passage of state constitutional Amendment 4 in 2018. After the landmark measure passed with big bi-partisan support to restore voting rights to some 1.5 million former felons (including 1 of 4 African-American men in the state) upon completion of their sentences, the state's new Republican Governor and GOP legislature muscled through legislation to block those former felons from voting until all court fees and fines have been paid off.
Today's federal appeals court ruling blocks that voter suppression measure, finding that "denying access to the franchise to those genuinely unable to pay solely on a account of wealth" is a violation of the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection clause.
There is similarly good news today from the state Court of Appeals in North Carolina, which ruled the Photo ID voting restrictions enacted by Republicans (a measure vetoed by the state's Democratic Governor last year, but overridden by the gerrymandered GOP majorities in both statehouse chambers) disproportionately disenfranchises poor and minority voters.
Despite little or no evidence of polling place impersonation --- the only type of voter fraud such laws could possibly prevent --- the NC GOP has been trying since at least 2013 to impose such discriminatory voting restrictions in the Tar Heel state. Their most notorious attempt, in 2013, was eventually nixed by a federal court which found the law was specifically designed to "target African-Americans with almost surgical precision" and to "impose cures for problems that did not exist." Another similar ruling recently against the state's new measure by a federal court, blocked the law from taking effect before NC's March 3rd Primaries. The new state appeals court decision is likely to also bar the measure until after the 2020 general election in one of the nation's most closely divided battleground states.
Then, it's on to electoral politics, with still more new national polling today showing Bernie Sanders vaulting into double-digit leads over all of his Democratic Presidential rivals. And while Sanders is frequently dismissed by corporate media, even as the front-runner (as we demonstrate again today), an even more curious case of the erasure of Elizabeth Warren by corporate media has made itself maddeningly clear in a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll out this week.
We explain how Warren was disappeared, in part, from a key question in that poll, despite placing third in the national delegate race to date and largely tying for second or third place in most of the recent national surveys. That, while candidates like Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg continue to receive a great deal of media attention while still polling only in single digits nationally.
Meanwhile, having no trouble at all receiving national coverage of late, is former Republican, recently-declared Democrat, and longtime billionaire Michael Bloomberg. While Sanders has skyrocketed in polling, Joe Biden has taken a dive, and Bloomberg appears to be surging at his expense. That is thanks, in no small part, to the former NYC Mayor's unprecedented blanketing of the national airwaves with his political propaganda ads. With his late polling surges, Bloomberg will appear, for the first time, on the Democratic debate stage tonight in Las Vegas before this Saturday's Nevada Caucuses (where he isn't even on the ballot.)
We are joined today by investigative financial journalist, author and Executive Editor of The American Prospect, DAVID DAYEN, who has been covering Bloomberg's long and disturbing record quite closely. Earlier this week, Dayen detailed how Bloomberg's life and career mirrors Donald Trump's in a number of disturbing ways, while cautioning about the dangers to both democracy and the Democratic Party itself of the "plutocrat-on-plutocrat election" that would be in store if Bloomberg wins the nomination.
"This is a hostile take-over of the Democratic Party. Much like Trump was a hostile take-over of the Republican Party," Dayen argues today. "I'm worried about the shell-shocked nature of the Democratic electorate that has given up on democracy and thinks the only way to beat their plutocrat is with our plutocrat. That concerns me for more reasons than just the Bloomberg nomination. It concerns me that people are so despondent that they think democracy doesn't work anymore. That leads us down a very dark road."
Dayen also has a scoop today, as published with Alexander Sammon at The Prospect, on Bloomberg's recent history of comparing the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) to the National Rifle Association (NRA), as part of his "decade-long history of promoting cuts to the social safety net" in his advocacy to slash Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as deficit reduction measures.
All of which raises serious questions about what the Democratic electorate must be thinking in their current, apparently growing support for Bloomberg to become the Party's standard-bearer in 2020. Dayen has many thoughts on that, as do I on today's program...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)