Guest: Pulitzer Prize-winning business columnist Michael Hiltzik; Also: Otis becomes Cat 5 hurricane in 12 hours before slamming Acapulco...
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2023, 6:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we cover, once again, the thoroughly corrupted "conservative" cabals in both the U.S. House and U.S. Supreme Court as they flex their ill-gotten powers.

But FIRST...on our Green News Report yesterday, we briefly referenced a storm named Otis in the Pacific as a "tropical storm" heading toward Mexico. It was set to be the fourth major storm in a month to slam its Pacific coast. We also happened to discuss a new study of recent hurricanes in the Atlantic, finding that warming waters due to climate change have increased the speed and strength, along with the rapid intensification, of such storms. That behavior, as it turns out, was on full display last night with Otis, which stunned meteorologists and public officials by spinning up from a tropical storm during yesterday's show to become a major Category 5 hurricane in less than 12 hours, before slamming into Acapulco.

With some one million residents and tourists in the resort city caught largely by surprise, we await news and hope for the best, as power and cell phone coverage has been down most of the day, and major roads are said to be unpassable in the region following the catastrophic storm. In addition to being the fourth major storm to slam the coast, it was also the most powerful ever. Acapulco has never seen higher than a Cat 1 hurricane --- until now.

NEXT...The dysfunctional U.S. House Republican majority was finally able to re-open Congress on Wednesday, after selecting a new House Speaker. It was their fourth try after moving to remove Kevin McCarthy more than three weeks ago. Last night the party nominated --- and crucially, today, actually elected on the House floor --- hard-right Louisiana Congressman Mike Johnson as their new leader.

Johnson is being described today as the "architect" of the GOP's attempt to block the certification of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory in 2020. He is a close all of Donald Trump; an ardent religious opponent of abortion rights, supporting jail time and "hard labor" for those who carry them out; he supports government restrictions on medical care for trans people; and opposes further aid to Ukraine to help defend democracy against imperialistic fascism.

In other words, he shares the same positions as Ohio's Jim Jordan --- whose Speakership was blocked by so-called Republican "moderates" last week --- only more so. Apparently, despite their claims, it wasn't Jordan's positions that those "moderates" objected to. It was the fact that Americans knew about them. The little-known Johnson shares no such baggage. So they're fine with him.

FINALLY...The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear another case in December ginned up by the billionaire-funded, rightwing legal mill that looks for --- or creates out of whole cloth --- aggrieved victims of tyrannical government laws and regulations. From fake website designers worried they may someday have to create a site for a same-sex couple, to red state attorneys general falsely claiming that loan agencies are suffering from President Biden's attempted student loan debt relief program, there seems to be an endless supply of "victims" that the industry is able to come up with to parade before the far-right SCOTUS supermajority that the same rightwing billionaires continue to lavish with luxury gifts, travel, and even just cash money.

But Moore v. United States goes even farther. Its proponents hope for a ruling from their friends on the High Court majority which might knee-cap a future progressive wealth tax, akin to the ones long-proposed by Senators like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Warren's proposal, for example, would add a 2% tax --- two cents of every dollar --- to those with an accrued wealth of more than $50 million. Currently, unrealized gains in the value of real estate portfolios, stocks and bonds, fine art, etc., are not taxed, even at death, allowing for heirs of the richest 0.1% to inherit and continue generational, dynastic fortunes of billions of dollars.

The wealthy can then borrow against those accumulated assets without ever having to cash them in, which would otherwise trigger a capital gains tax (at an already very low rate.) "That is a scam and a scandal," my guest tells me today. Taxing just a portion of that wealth would result in "trillions of dollars of revenue for the U.S. Treasury that could be captured just by instituting a small percentage wealth tax on the richest families [with] more than $50 million in assets." That revenue could then be used for universal childcare, healthcare, education, and pretty much everything else that Republicans like to claim that America is just too broke to be able to afford.

So how will the Supreme Court be able to kill a still non-existent "wealth tax", when the Constitution and long-standing precedent prevents it from issuing advisory rulings on issues that aren't currently resulting in actual harm to any victims?

We're joined today by the L.A. Times' Pulitzer Prize-winning business columnist, investigative journalist and author MICHAEL HILTZIK to explain. He argues the case "stinks to high heaven," citing opponents of this case who charge that the GOP billionaire patrons of Justices Sam Alito and Clarence Thomas "have their fingerprints all over this case."

"The miasma of corruption really is laid all over this case," asserts Hiltzik. "I think it's one of the reasons that legal scholars who are watching this are very concerned that, once again, the Supreme Court's conservative majority is going to step out of its proper limited role, and essentially legislate" from the bench. "When the Supreme Court, or any federal court, actually rules on something that is not a real case or controversy, then almost by definition they are making new law, they are legislating. That is something under the Constitution that they are not supposed to do."

As Hiltzik notes, we are now seeing more and more of that from this corrupted Court. So, how can it possibly be stopped at this point? Hiltzik, who has written best-selling books about FDR's New Deal and the robber barons who originally corrupted the entire system, has some ideas on that today that as well...


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