On today's BradCast: Talk radio con-man Rush Limbaugh may now be dead, but his toxic legacy lives on in virtually every element of the nation's poisoned body politic. The consequences are all too apparent even today amid the deadly winter storm that has knocked out power across Texas and the avalanche of new voter suppression laws being pushed by Republicans following their loss of the White House in 2020. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]
First up today, after three decades of brainwashing a generation of Americans by dominating the nation's public airwaves with far-right, racist, misogynistic, extremist propaganda and lies, Limbaugh is dead from lung cancer at the age of 70. Using his considerable broadcasting skills to pump dishonest evil into the brains of gullible listeners, he endangered the nation and the planet itself by scamming an entire segment of the populace to the theoretical benefit of the Republican Party that he may have helped to ultimately destroy. I've got a few thoughts on that today.
Next, the influence of Limbaugh reverberates throughout the crisis facing millions of Texans who are, right now, continuing to face freezing conditions without power (and water in some cases) for days, thanks to the 1999 deregulation of the power grid in Texas by GOP lawmakers who put corporate profit above the general welfare of their own residents. Rather than accept personal responsibility for their failures, Texas Republicans and the propagandists who support them on outlets like Fox "News", have been going full throttle over the past two days to somehow (falsely) blame the state's nascent wind energy industry for the widespread outages. That, even though wind supplies, at most, about 20 percent of the Lone Star State's energy needs, while thermal sources, like natural gas, coal and nuclear --- which all failed due to lack of winterization (thanks to lack of state regulation) --- were, by far, the biggest source of failure.
But don't tell that to Ditto-Heads like the now-former Mayor of Colorado City, TX, Tim Boyd, who railed at his own constituents seeking help without heat or water for days. "No one owes you or your [sic] family anything; nor is it the local governments [sic] responsibility to support you during trying times like this! Sink or swim, it’s your choice!," he raged on Facebook in response to members of the community wondering if warming shelters would be opened or how firefighters could respond with the town's water system shut down. "This is sadly a product of a socialist government where they feed people to believe that the FEW work and others will become dependent for handouts," the Mayor said in words that would have been music to Limbaugh's deaf ears. "Bottom line, quit crying and looking for a handout! Get off your ass and take care of your own family!"
Of course, even the state's Republican Governor Greg Abbott appeared to admit on Twitter on Monday that the problem was "natural gas and coal generators" that had been "frozen", before somehow going on to blame the non-existent Green New Deal for Texas' woes by the time he appeared on the show of Limbaugh's fellow propagandist Sean Hannity on Fox "News" Tuesday night.
So, how and when can these corrupt, corporate-socialists finally be voted out of office? It may not be easy given that, as NYU's Brennan Center for Justice recently reported [emphasis iin original]: "In a backlash to historic voter turnout in the 2020 general election, and grounded in a rash of baseless and racist allegations of voter fraud and election irregularities, legislators have introduced well over four times the number of bills to restrict voting access as compared to roughly this time last year. Thirty-three states have introduced, prefiled, or carried over 165 restrictive bills this year (as compared to 35 such bills in fifteen states on February 3, 2020)."
We're joined today by Mother Jones' senior reporter and voting rights journalist ARI BERMAN, author of the landmark 2016 book, Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America, to discuss what he characterizes as "an avalanche of new laws" amounting to "the most concerted attempts to roll back voting rights since the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965."
Berman explains the new flood of bills by GOP lawmakers to make voting more difficult --- for certain voters --- in battleground states like Georgia, Pennsylvania, Arizona and many others, where measures are being pushed to end no-excuse absentee voting and automatic voter registration, among other previously established rights. In Arizona, more than 40 such schemes have been proposed by Republicans, including one that Berman says would "allow the legislature to just nullify the will of the voters and appoint their own Presidential electors anytime they want. It basically would make the Presidential election completely irrelevant, in terms of what the voters actually voted for."
These efforts all come in the wake of Donald Trump's evidence-free claims of "massive voter fraud" in the 2020 election. In many instances, says Berman, GOP state legislators are even attempting to reverse expansions to the franchise that they themselves had recently adopted and boasted about at the time. "The Republican Party is now trying to weaponize those bogus fraud claims, to lay the groundwork for getting rid of the system that they wrote, instituted and took advantage of, until it didn't benefit them anymore," he tells me.
We also discuss how a number of these new restrictions may be unstoppable at the state level and would require Democratic efforts at the federal level --- such as H.R.1 (the "For the People Act") and H.R.4 (the "John Lewis Voting Rights Act") --- in order to prevent them from suppressing the vote in both 2022 and 2024. Of course, to pass those federal laws, Democrats in the U.S. Senate will almost certainly have to do away with the undemocratic filibuster, since Berman suggests it's inconceivable that 10 Senate Republicans would join the effort to ensure equal and fair voting rights to all Americans.
So, yes, we also discuss what might be needed to overcome Democratic objections to ending the "Jim Crow relic" filibuster by Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, both of whom have vowed to keep it in place. "This is a big fight brewing," Berman argues, along with a few suggestions as to how this could play out. "But right now we're seeing an existential threat to democracy and also a very real threat to the power of the Democratic Party. At some point, they're going to have to choose."
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)