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'Democracy's Gold Standard'
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GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
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We're off today, but we've got a BradCast 'RECOUNTED' for your listening pleasure, with two excellent recent interviews that you may have missed --- or just need to hear again. [Audio link to show is posted below.]
We'll be back LIVE soon!
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
Well, now things are just getting ridiculous. But at least we have a nice reminder on today's BradCast that, despite all of the idiocy of the past four years or so, the U.S. can still do great and wondrous things. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]
First up, with that other guy finally out of our White House, Fox "News" is quickly returning to form as the GOP's go-to corporate propaganda mouthpiece. It took no time at all for them this week to turn on the fossil fuel industry after-burners to pretend that "windmills" --- not the predictably disastrous Texas deregulation and privatization of the state's fossil fuel industry --- were the cause for widespread blackouts and water outages across the state amid a nearly week-long winter cold snap. The Lone Star State's deadly failure to ensure reliable power to millions of its residents amid a deep freeze as oil and gas wells, pipelines, power plants and refineries froze up for lack of winterization, led its Republican Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday try and block contracted gas shipments out of state. That has angered Mexico, among others, as they're now also facing power outages thanks to Texas. But the shortage has spiked prices for the oil and gas industry after recent record lows. So..."free market" accomplished! Sorry about all the death and destruction.
In related news, after helping to incite the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and embarrassing himself with a tweet that attacked California last summer for rolling blackouts to keep the power on during a heat wave, Texas' buffoonish junior Senator Ted Cruz is now reaping a whirlwind after trying escape the crisis in his own home state with a trip to sunny Cancun! But after he got caught on the way out, things didn't go well for him today. That, just days after an interview with a San Antonio-based radio host in which he advised people to stay home through this week's series of dangerous storms. "Don’t risk it,” Cruz hypocritically advised. “Keep your family safe, and just stay home and hug your kids.” Or...take them to Cancun, suckers!
With idiocy like this at home (and there was much more we didn't have time for), is it any wonder that we welcomed a chance today to check out what was happening elsewhere in the universe?
As luck would have it, there is quite a bit going on elsewhere, especially on Mars today, where NASA's latest rover, Perseverance, stuck its landing on the Red Planet after years of development, more than six months of travel over 300,000 miles and "7 minutes of terror" during its complicated landing sequence. It was no easy feat for NASA's largest and heaviest rover to date, weighing in about a ton and the size of an SUV. But it brought a well-deserved sigh of relief and huge cheers to Mission Control and the folks at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) just before airtime today, for those who made it happen.
One of them joins us on today's show, and she may be familiar to long time listeners. Our former Super-Duper Associate Producer MARGOT PAEZ left us some years ago (shamefully!) to work at JPL in Pasadena, where she spent several years on the team who developed the SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals) instrument, one of several key tools central to "Percy's" mission of hunting for microbial life that may once have inhabited Mars. Its the first such mission to do so, and will help, among other things, to both send back rock core samples from the planet (though it may take about 10 years to get those samples back to Earth once they find what they're looking for) and to run a number of important tests to help determine if humans can safely survive the radiation in the planet's thin atmosphere.
"So, yeah, I was crying when I saw it made it safely," our old friend Paez explains on today's show, "because it meant that all this hard work paid off and now we can start doing the really fun stuff, which is the science." She describes that science, the decades long process it takes to make it all happen, and speaks to the other two missions --- one from China and another from the United Arab Emirates --- which have also now arrived at about the same time.
As a PhD candidate at George Tech, where she researches climate modeling and water resources with respect to climate change adaptation and mitigation, Paez also speaks today to the criticism from climate activists like Greta Thunberg, who would prefer we spend our limited resources on saving this planet from ruin before worrying about travel to others. As a years-long political activist, JPL worker and now climate change expert, Paez has some clarifying thoughts on all of the above in response to Thunberg and other critics of both private and public space travel.
For what it's worth, it's kinda nice to step off of this messed up planet for a short time today!
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for a special coverage edition of our Green News Report on the deadly power crisis in Texas, and the GOP wingnuttery that both helped to cause it and is now being employed to avoid all accountability for it...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: GNR Special Coverage: Deep freeze devastates Texas power grid, as death toll climbs; Privatization and deregulation left Texas vulnerable; PLUS: Rightwingers launch Texas disinfo campaign to attack renewable energy... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Texas and California Blackouts: A Song of Ice and Fire; Narrative Starts to Shift: Texas’ Crisis is Clean Energy Opportunity; Sea turtle rescue center in Texas takes in over 2,500 turtles during winter storm... PLUS: Billionaires’ Favorite Climate Solution Is a Dangerous Distraction... and much, MUCH more! ...
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!)
On today's BradCast: Impeachment may be broken, but accountability is still coming. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of summary.]
But, first up: Record low temperatures continued to batter dozens of states and knock out power to millions of customers in several of them. But it is residents of the great state of Texas who are paying the highest price for their government's utter failure to keep the lights...and the heat...and the water on...throughout this foreseeable and deadly cold snap. No, it's not the renewable energy sources like wind power that has failed --- as Fox "News" is frantically misinforming their viewers today --- it's the fossil fuel industry and the state's disastrously unregulated and privatized power infrastructure that has helped create the mess in Texas. Our own Desi Doyen explains.
Then, in a refreshing bit of encouraging news today, Congressman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) has filed a civil federal lawsuit against Donald Trump in response to the deadly attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, incited by the disgraced former President. The suit, filed on Thompson's behalf by the NAACP on Tuesday, also names Rudy Giuliani and the rightwing extremist groups Proud Boys and Oath Keepers as defendants. It seeks both punitive and compensatory damages for the assault on Thompson's place of work that left the 72-year old Chair of the House Homeland Security Committee hiding on the floor of the U.S. House for hours and in dangerously close contact with colleagues, two of whom tested positive for COVID in the days that followed. The complaint is believed likely just the first of a potential wave of similar litigation in response to the unprecedented attack on the Capitol which killed at least five people, and which a bipartisan 57-43 majority of U.S. Senators over the weekend at his Impeachment Trial found Trump guilty of having incited.
But guilty or not, the Impeachment process, for a second time in the Trump Presidency, ultimately fell short of the high Constitutional bar of a two-thirds vote needed for conviction, begging the question as to whether the founders misjudged what might be needed by Congress to hold a scofflaw President to account.
We're joined today once again by Constitutional legal scholar JOHN BONIFAZ, Co-Founder and President of the non-partisan governmental accountability group Free Speech for People, and co-author of the 2018 book The Constitution Demands It: The Case for the Impeachment of Donald Trump.
Our wide-ranging conversation on various paths towards accountability for the 45th President includes discussion of Rep. Thompson's lawsuit; Section 3 of the 14th Amendment and how it might be invoked to prevent Trump from running for future office; and as well as criminal statutes which could be invoked against Trump under the leadership of Joe Biden's Attorney General-designate Merrick Garland. On the day after the January 6 insurrection, FSFP joined a coalition of groups calling for Garland to stand up a task force upon his confirmation to pull together all of the disparate investigations into the matter.
Central to any such accountability, however, Bonifaz argues today, is the need for an important reform in the U.S. Senate and accountability for members who serve both there and in the U.S. House. He argues that the failure to convict Trump at his second Impeachment Trial "demonstrates that those who are sworn to take the oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution in the U.S. Senate are not up to the task --- at least for the 43 members of the Sedition Caucus, who are every bit as guilty as Donald Trump for voting to acquit him despite the overwhelming evidence that Donald Trump incited this insurrection and was guilty as charged."
He faults "those in power who are not abiding by their oaths" who have allowed Presidents to "assume the powers of a king". To begin reform of Congress, Bonifaz explains, we must start with reform of our electoral system as Democrats have proposed in their critical H.R.1. and S1 bills called the "For the People Act". But to see that through Congress --- and so many other necessary reforms --- we will have to do away with the legislative filibuster, he says.
"The filibuster, as we know, requires a 60 percent majority in the U.S. Senate for anything to pass, and that's contrary to any basic principle of small-d democracy," Bonifaz tells me. "That's a first order of business for those in the U.S. Senate and, frankly, those in the White House who are pledging to protect and defend our democracy. We need to eliminate the filibuster, and we need get on to the business of responding to these voter suppression efforts throughout the country that we now see in state legislatures to try to roll us back and disenfranchise millions of voters."
Of course, Democrats could do that without Republicans at all, with their newly-won Senate majority, but for Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona who have each pledged to protect the filibuster. Even those obstacles however, as Bonifaz explains, are not insurmountable if pressure is applied by Democratic leadership in the Senate and the White House...and if pressure is applied by we, the people on them to do so.
With the "Jim Crow relic" filibuster out of the way, says Bonifaz, the Senate would also be able to invoke Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to prevent Trump from being allowed to hold federal office in the future. The post-Civil War Amendment blocks those who have engaged in rebellion or insurrection against the U.S. Government from becoming candidates for public office. "This is a critical next step needed to ensure that this lawless ex-President is disqualified from running for office again," Bonifaz asserts, detailing how the provision would work with a simple resolution adopted by both the Senate and House.
I hope you tune in for this important conversation today as the quest for accountability continues to continue on The BradCast!
Finally, we close somewhere near where we began, with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report focused on the winter storm now battering dozens of U.S. states and the utter failure of Texas lawmakers (and those in other states) to properly harden our critical infrastructure for a 21st century climate changed world...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Historic storm cripples Texas, knocks out power to millions, brings record low temperatures to dozens of states; Even so, U.S. winters aren't as cold as they used to be; PLUS: Biden warns China is outpacing U.S. on infrastructure... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Bank of America says climate change will be this decade’s most important theme, and China has spent twice as much as the U.S.; EPA to jettison major Obama climate rule, the Clean Power Plan, as Biden eyes a bigger push; Interior postpones March oil leases onshore and offshore; Grocery store freezers contributing to climate change... PLUS: An old Ted Cruz tweet mocking California's 'failed energy policies' resurfaces as storm leaves millions of Texans without power... and much, MUCH more! ...
Donald Trump was found guilty by a huge, bipartisan 57 to 43 verdict in the U.S. Senate of having incited the deadly, attempted January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. On discuss on today's BradCast, 7 Republican Senators joined all of the Democrats in that majority finding on Saturday, affirming that Trump attempted to overthrow the U.S. Government and the 2020 Presidential election. Nonetheless, due to the U.S. Constitution's requirement that a two-thirds vote of the Senate is needed to secure a conviction under the rules for Impeachment, our disgraced former President was "acquitted" of the charge he was found guilty of during his second Senate Impeachment Trial. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]
We discuss what happened on Saturday in detail today, and take a bunch of calls from listeners on the matter. But first up, we cover the catastrophic winter storm --- featuring crippling snow, record cold and power outages for millions, particularly in Texas --- amid the ongoing COVID pandemic and attempt to distribute vaccinations to tens of millions of Americans. Native Texan Desi Doyen, co-host of our Green News Report, joins us to explain what's going on and why scientists tell us that it is happening.
Also, even while still on the Trump Accountability beat (as we've previously noted, this is going to take a while), we cover a bit of Biden Administration news today, including the quiet weekend withdrawal of Trump-era work requirements for Medicaid, as pushed and allowed to some states by the previous Administration, and the re-opening of the Healthcare.gov exchange to accommodate new "ObamaCare" signups during massive unemployment wrought by the pandemic. That, as the very popular American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief and stimulus package, moves toward passage with or without Republican support in the Senate and (thanks to pushback from the House Progressive Caucus) without the potential cuts to the promised $1,400 relief checks which Republicans and some of the more conservative Democrats were previously considering.
Though an occasional kick to the head is required, it does seem like --- at least for now --- Democrats are "getting it" when it comes to the nation's bipartisan desire for big and bold action from lawmakers in D.C. Even conservative Democratic Rep. Richie Neal, Chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, is now calling for new, monthly cash payments totaling $3,600 per year for every child under age 6, and $3,000 for children from 6 to 17. We hope Dems continue to offer the progressive policy the country yearns for, and we're glad to see progressives pushing Democrats when they need to.
Of course, Democrats have yet to learn all of the lessons they need to, as revealed by the Saturday snafu when House Impeachment Managers easily won a bipartisan vote to call witnesses at Trump's second Senate Impeachment Trial, only to cave shortly thereafter. There were arguably legitimate reasons to not call witnesses --- even if we would have preferred to see that happen. But to get everyone's hopes up, only to dash them --- without figuring out the concerns in advance --- was an inexcusable self own.
Nonetheless, Democrats won an historic 57-43 majority in the conviction votes, with an unheard of seven Senators from the opposing party joining all of the Democrats and independents in finding Trump guilty. Even the snake Mitch McConnell was forced to admit that, yes, Trump incited the violence at the Capitol. Though he still voted "not guilty", falsely and ridiculously claiming that it was unconstitutional to hold a trial after the impeached Executive Branch official was already out of office. His claims were even more grotesquely absurd given that he was the one that prevented the trial from happening while Trump was still in office.
So, what happens next? Will Trump ever face real accountability for his many crimes, including an attempt to overthrow the U.S. Government itself? If so, how, when and by whom? (Our own Ernie Canning has a few ideas today.) We discuss and open up the phone lines today to listeners to discuss that and other related matters on today's lively BradCast. Enjoy!
It's bad enough that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), based upon deeply flawed opinion memos, issued by its own Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), believes a sitting President cannot be prosecuted while in office for his or her crimes.
Now, 43 Republican Senators have sought to justify their "not guilty" votes in Donald J. Trump's second impeachment trial based on the specious assertion that an impeached President cannot be tried in the Senate for crimes committed while in office after he/she is no longer in office. That disingenuous notion is at odds with historical Senate precedent, the opinions of more than 170 legal scholars from both the Right and Left, and a simple reading of the plain text of the U.S. Constitution, not to mention the Senate's own decisive, bi-partisan, 56-44 majority vote at the start of this latest Senate Impeachment trial establishing that such a trial is indeed Constitutional.
Obviously most of the 43 "impartial" Republican jurors --- a number of whom share responsibility for the insurrection because they either directly perpetrated or failed to timely refute the Big "Stop the Steal" Lie --- latched onto the "no jurisdiction" defense in a desperate effort to erect plausible deniability for themselves. A fig leaf, if you will, designed to conceal their own duplicity and cowardice. Indeed, the remarks by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered on the floor of the Senate immediately after he cast his "not guilty" vote reveal that the factual case presented by the House Managers was both clear and convincing.
For that reason, an historically huge, bi-partisan, 57-43 majority of the U.S. Senate found Trump guilty as charged of "Incitement of Insurrection". That there were enough misinformed, duplicitous or simply cowardly Republican Senators to prevent the two-thirds vote required to meet the incredibly high bar for conviction under Senate Impeachment rules is of little moment.
A political impeachment process is very different from a legal proceeding. There are, in fact, grave statutory crimes at the heart of Trump's most recent Article of Impeachment, including 18 U.S. Code § 373 - Solicitation to commit a crime of violence; 18 U.S. Code § 2383 - Rebellion or insurrection; and 18 U.S. Code § 2384 - Seditious conspiracy. With that in mind, the DOJ's failure or refusal to prosecute the former President could result in impunity with respect to an Office that is already considered the most powerful on earth.
Trump's attempted coup may have failed, but if we cloak the Office of the President with impunity, we invite a more skilled, future demagogue to do anything --- legal or illegal --- to retain power. To counter that more-serious-than-ever concern, the DOJ, under the leadership of Attorney General-designate Merrick Garland, must investigate and prosecute the former President for violations of applicable federal laws...
On today's BradCast special coverage: For Trump's attorneys, at least, it was an open and shut case, as they both opened and closed their argument in about 3 hours of their allotted 16 on Friday, on behalf of the former President in his second Impeachment Trial. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]
We might have known it wasn't going to go well when the charge that a President of the United States incited a murderous insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th was characterized by his attorneys as little more than a case of "Constitutional Cancel Culture". A perfect fit for the Fox "News" chyron! And, naturally, a defense perfectly fit for Donald Trump since it was filled to the brim with unapologetic lies right out of the gate.
The first such lie (that we noticed anyway) came in the very first few minutes, when new Trump attorney and Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer, Michael T. Van Der Veen, falsely claimed that in 2016, "the Clinton Campaign brought multiple post-election court cases" and "demanded recounts". Of course, as long time readers and listeners know, they did no such thing, even if we wished they had. Despite cybersecurity and voting systems experts at the time begging the Campaign to do so, they refused. Instead, Green Party candidate Jill Stein sought those counts instead, as she announced at the time on this program.
liars...er lawyers, also falsely claimed House Democrats waited until Trump was out of office to deliver the Article of Impeachment to the U.S. Senate (that was because then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to reconvene the Senate), and that the Democratic House Impeachment Managers withheld the chilling, "never before seen video" used in their presentation this week, from the defense team in an outrageous "rushed trial without due process". (In fact, the Managers have since noted, all audio and video evidence and materials used in their presentation was given to the defense team before the trial began, as per Senate Impeachment Trial rules.)
Team Trump also charged that the Dems falsely manipulated Trump's tweets and manufactured evidence to make their case and that they failed to connect the violence at the Capitol to "the 45th President." The charge of manipulated, cherry-picked video evidence came just before the defense played several really long, fully out-of-context video montages of Democrats using the word "fight" in various settings, underscored by manipulative dramatic music. The Trump attorneys claimed that "the 45th President" never incited any violence and "was immediate in his calls for calm" after the assault was under way. That's a lot of lies (and that wasn't all of them) in such a short presentation. But we suspect they did their client proud.
Their central arguments were that Trump was merely exercising his First Amendment free speech rights when lying to his supporters for months that the election was rigged and imploring them to "fight like hell" or they "wouldn't have a country anymore". That, they argued, was only a plea for election reform and to primary Republicans who didn't fight hard enough for him. But there is no First Amendment right to incite imminent violence, and there are all matter of activities that would be protected by the First Amendment (wearing a Nazi armband, suggesting certain people should be killed) that are certainly impeachable activities for a President nonetheless.
Even more conspicuous were the matters that Trump's attorneys did not address, such as why Trump never attempted to send help to protect the Capitol or tell his supporters to stop their attack, even as he knew his own Vice President and others were being targeted for assassination by the MAGA Mob.
We're joined today to try and make sense of all of this, as well as the rest of the Impeachment Trial week and where it goes from here, by the the wise, award-winning opinion and analysis journalist, HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo.
She describes the defense case as little more than an effort "to create sound bites for Fox New, OAN and Newsmax. That's it. They know that they had intimidated the jurors. They have 50 Republicans. Of those Republicans, I would say 90 percent of them of them have been intimidated by Donald Trump or they are true believers in MAGA." Parton charges that the events of January 6th were "a grotesque assault on democracy" and a "domestic act of terrorism, which the President of the United States incited."
"He did incite it. This is not in any way disputable. And there's nobody, if they're honest with themselves, that believes he didn't," she argues. "They actually targeted the day when every single one of our national representatives were present, and it was to stop the certification of the Presidential election. This was huge. It's historic. We all watched it."
Moreover, she notes, no matter how the vote for conviction comes out, "it was imperative that they did this. They had to put it on the record. And now Donald Trump is the only President in history to be impeached twice."
We also discuss not only how Republicans are expected to vote, but why they might vote against conviction and disqualification from future office even though, as I opined yesterday, removing Trump's only remaining superpower --- his viability as a 2024 Presidential candidate --- would actually help the Republican Party itself and most of those Senators.
Would Parton like to see witnesses brought? If so, who? And what will --- or should --- happen after Trump is acquitted which, at least for now, is believed the most likely outcome. As usually, it's a very lively conversation with our friend "Digby", though it ended just before the breaking news from CNN that Trump had a heated conversation with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy during the insurrection, which devolved into a "shouting match" in which the Republican lawmaker is said to have "begged" the then-President to call of his goons and send help to protect the Capitol. Trump, reportedly refused, according to the several House Republicans who McCarthy briefed on the call and who are now, apparently, willing to go on record to say as much, according to CNN's late breaking report.
Finally, we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, as President Biden places climate action at the center of both national security and foreign policy and as the U.S. wind energy industry just had its best year ever, among other important, non-impeachment related environmental news stories...
Our BradCast special coverage continues today, as House Impeachment Managers completed their opening argument in Donald Trump's second Senate Impeachment trial, closing out a damning case for the charge of "Incitement of Insurrection" and pre-butting the arguments expected from the former President's defense team. [Audio link for today's full show is posted below the summary.]
But first up today, in not-at-all-unrelated news, Reuters is reporting a nascent effort by unhappy Republicans --- many of whom served in the Administrations of Reagan, Bush Sr., Bush Jr. and even Trump --- to begin building a third national party to help break away from the Trump-captured GOP. They claim the new party would reflect "principled conservatism" and could be called the "Integrity Party" or "Center Right Party". Or the effort, discussed on a Zoom call late last week by some 120 Republicans disenchanted by their party's hard-right, nativist turn, could fizzle all together. We discuss.
Then, following Wednesday's emotionally gripping first day of opening arguments in the Impeachment Trial, in which Democratic House Managers presented a tightly-knit, point-by-point, media-rich case detailing Trump's incitement of the murderous January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, Republican Senators were reportedly moved by some of the harrowing, never-before-seen-or-heard audio and video shared during the presentation. Nonetheless, even after seeing hard, persuasive evidence of Trump's long-planned attempt to steal the election after all of his non-violent schemes had fizzled, Washington Post reports that most of the GOP Senate jurists were still likely to vote against conviction. That, even as some of the Senators were visibly shaken by the dramatic presentation of the MAGA mob's violent ransacking of the Capitol with Trump's encouragement and their hopes of assassinating Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, or any of the other lawmakers who came frighteningly close to being overrun by the insurrectionists.
Foolishly, it seems, the cowardly Republican Senators who are still in thrall to Trump and in fear of his supporters don't seem to understand that this Impeachment Trial is affording them an opportunity to neutralize the only real superpower that Trump now has left: his control over them and the Party itself, thanks to his ability to run again in 2024 --- where he is currently the easy front-runner for the GOP nomination. End the possibility of him ever becoming President again and his one remaining superpower will almost certainly dissipate in surprisingly short order, as I explain today.
Nonetheless, the Impeachment case picked up on Thursday, with House Managers underscoring Trump's personal role in inciting the violence and his complete failure to take any action at all to stop it after it had begun, leaving lawmakers "for dead", as compellingly detailed yesterday. Even now, the Managers noted, Trump has failed to take any personal responsibility for the riot or even concede that he lost the 2020 election. That "Big Lie", as the Managers explained, continues to threaten national security; has cost the federal government nearly half a billion dollars for protection of the Capitol; has resulted in adversaries in China, Russia and Iran dismissing America's promise of Constitutional democracy; and has made a joke of Republican claims to support either the rule of law or law enforcement itself. (One Capitol Police officer was killed in the January 6 assault, two more killed themselves in the days that followed, and hundreds were seen being attacked by MAGA mobsters on video, describing them as "traitors" before more than 100 were seriously injured that day.)
Today we share excerpts from presentations made by Impeachment Managers Jamie Raskin (MD); Diana DeGette (CO); Ted Lieu (CA); Joaquin Castro (TX); and Joe Neguse (CO).
Each warned in different ways that if the Senate fails to convict and then bar Trump from holding future office, the chances are very good that he --- or a future President --- will repeat his deadly, authoritarian tactics. The most chilling moment of the day, however, may have belonged to Lieu, who noted that the disgraced former President "will undoubtedly cause future harm if allowed, because he still refuses to account for his high, grave crime against our government."
"I'm not afraid of Donald Trump running again in four years," Lieu warned. "I'm afraid he's gonna run again and lose...because he can do this again."
Their case concluded, essentially, with the reminder that if an insurrection directed by the President of the United States against the U.S. Government itself is not impeachable, then nothing is. The Managers also pre-butted the expected arguments from Trump's attorneys, noting that the First Amendment free speech clause does not protect incitement of violence. And, since Trump declined their invitation to answer himself under oath, the Managers asked his lawyers to explain why Trump took no action at all as Commander-in-Chief to stop the murderous attack once it began and if they even agree that a President inciting an insurrection against the U.S. Government amounts to an impeachable offense.
Trump's attorneys will present their own case beginning on Friday...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: President Biden puts climate change at center of U.S. national security and foreign policy; Pollution from fossil fuels causes 1 in 5 premature deaths globally, new study finds; U.S. wind energy industry just had its best year yet; PLUS: Another oil pipeline spill, this time in San Francisco Bay... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): New Report Charts Path to Net-Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050; Climate crisis pushing great white sharks into new waters; Ocean Acidification Spells Trouble For MA Shellfish Industry; Audit Raises Concerns About Wildfire Risks at US Nuclear Lab; U.S. Trade Authorities Deal Blow To Biden’s Electric Vehicle Plans; State-Owned Fossil Firms' Plan To Invest $1.9Tn Threatens Paris Hopes... PLUS: Mountains, Ice and Climate Change: A Recipe for Disasters... and much, MUCH more! ...
On today's BradCast: On the same day that news broke that Fulton County (Atlanta), Georgia's newly elected prosecutor has opened a criminal investigation into Donald Trump's apparent attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election in her state, the U.S. House Impeachment Managers began their not-unrelated and rather damning opening argument against the disgraced former President in his historic second U.S. Senate Impeachment Trial. And though it was not necessarily surprising, it was still stunning to see that Fox "News" didn't even bother to carry some of the most disturbing and chilling testimony and video presented on Wednesday. [Audio link to show follows below summary.]
Our special, seat-of-our-pants coverage continues today, as Democrats from the House laid out what certainly came across as a compelling, seemingly air-tight, point-by-point case against Trump. They detailed, through his own repeated tweets and media statements, all the way back to last Summer, how he cultivated and prepared his supporters for his false claim that, if he lost the election, it could only be due to massive election fraud.
While the Article of Impeachment itself, for "Incitement of Insurrection" at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, focuses largely on that day's deadly attack by his MAGA Mob, Trump had laid the groundwork for the assault for months. The House Managers offered a meticulous presentation of tweets and media statements from the then-President, detailing how he used his various platforms to gin up false outrage about a "stolen election", both before and after the election itself. That, despite a lack of evidence to support his claims and his carefully orchestrated attack on the last day possible to prevent the final certification of Joe Biden's decisive Electoral College victory.
Lead Impeachment Manager Jamie Raskin (MD), describing Trump as "the Inciter-in-Chief," charged that his scheme was "the greatest betrayal of the Presidential Oath in the history of the United States." The entire team of Managers spelled out exactly how Trump "praised, supported and cultivated" the eventual violence that resulted in five deaths that day, including a Capitol Police officer, two officer suicides in the days that followed, and well over 100 serious injuries to police attempting to protect the Capitol and the hundreds of lawmakers inside.
"For months," Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA) explained during his presentation, "Trump assembled the logs and the kindling" to convince his supporters that the election would be rigged, "so if he lost, his supporters would be ready to light the match." And they were --- especially after Trump "doused the flames with kerosene" once he lost the election and eventually ran out of non-violent option to overturn it.
Unfolding, appropriately enough, like a violent crime prosecution, the Managers detailed how Trump ignored more than 60 court challenges he lost (several of which were at the hands of federal judges he himself had appointed); pressured and threatened election officials in several states to change results in his favor; attacked Senators and members of the House for failing to take action on his behalf; pressured the Dept. of Justice to bring fraudulent fraud cases; and even used his platforms to repeatedly attack his own Vice President Mike Pence for refusing to try and steal the election for him.
By the time his supporters were primed to storm the Capitol on January 6, as previously unseen video and federal charging documents reveal, many in Trump's mob were focused on the assassinations of Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, among others. Chilling surveillance footage of fleeing lawmakers and courageous, quick-thinking law enforcement officials also reveals how close the insurrectionist mob actually came to being able to do so. It's miraculous that there weren't even more deaths.
Underscoring the entire case, however, is the fact that none of it --- none of the violence, none of the death --- would have occurred, had not Trump incited it and then failed to stop it. All of it. On purpose. Unapologetically, even now.
We're joined today for insight on today's historic proceedings and how Trump's defense team can possibly respond to it, by LISA GRAVES of True North Research. With her experience as a former Deputy Asst. Attorney General at the U.S. Justice Dept., a former Chief Counsel in the U.S. Senate, and a former Deputy Chief for the U.S. Court system, she brings a broad and helpful perspective to all of this.
Among the points discussed today, in addition to her general opinion of the case to date by the House Managers: How this Impeachment Trial differs both from Trump's first one and Bill Clinton's; Whether she would like to see witnesses called during this trial and, if so, who?; How much of this matter should be seen as "Kabuki Theater" given the general belief (true or not) that there are unlikely to be 17 Republican Senators willing to vote for conviction, as needed; Whether this Impeachment Trial helps or hurts the odds of criminal charges being brought against Trump in the future for this matter; And what she might expect from Trump's defense attorneys in response.
"I think it's vital that, under our Constitution, these proceedings take place even if there are members of that body who do not have the courage -- the moral courage --- or the devotion to our Constitution to do the right thing, based on the evidence that's been presented so far, to convict Donald Trump," Graves tells me. "I think there should be accountability for members based on how they vote in this trial. And people should be held to account for whether they are willing to speak up against this unprecedented assault on our democracy, on our legislative branch of government, on the rule of law, and on the very notion of how you determine elections are valid, which is the certification process that every single state engaged in."
"So, I think it's an important thing historically," she argues. "It's important for our Constitution. It's important for the people, regardless of the outcome."
Finally, we get to our latest Green News Report, with some troubling news across the planet, but also some fun, funny and even encouraging news to end a somewhat disturbing and chilling day in D.C....
On today's BradCast Special Coverage: There have only been three Presidents during the 243-year history of the United States who have been Impeached, for a total of four Presidential impeachments. Donald Trump has been impeached twice. He alone makes up a full half of all of the Presidential Impeachments in the history of our nation. That will be a scar and mark of shame that will never be removed from his pathetic legacy, no matter what happens in his historic second Impeachment Trial in the US Senate, which began in earnest today....sort of. [Audio link to show follows below summary.]
Democratic House Impeachment Managers on Tuesday were forced to make the case for the Constitutionality of holding an Impeachment Trial for a President who is already out of office. Frankly, it's a ridiculous case to have to make, as we discussed on yesterday's show and again today. Of course an impeached, former official can be tried by the U.S. Senate after leaving office. It's been done several times in our nation's history, and legal scholars from both the Right and Left have argued as much in recent days in response to the disingenuous case made against it by Trump's defense attorneys and his sycophantic Republican supporters in the Senate.
Nonetheless, lead Impeachment Manager Rep. Jaime Raskin (MD) opened the argument on this point on Tuesday, with a compelling narrative that there is no "January Exception" to the Constitution's impeachment clause. If there was, he argued, Presidents leaving office would have impunity to cause any amount of mayhem during their final weeks in office. Raskin's presentation began with a stunning, riveting and chilling video juxtaposing Trump's January 6th rally comments to his supporters at the White House, instructing them to "fight like hell" before directing them to the U.S. Capitol, along with previously unseen video clips of his supporters subsequent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. The montage showed Congress being interrupted by the violent insurrectionists, with lawmakers sent scurrying for their lives during the Joint Session to certify the 2020 Electoral College results from last November's Presidential Election victory by Joe Biden...
Raskin's presentation was followed with ones from Managers Joe Neguse (CO) and David Cicilline (RI) who offered historical, Constitutional and legal background in support of their case, before Raskin returned to close the argument with a heartbreaking personal tale of his --- and his family's --- experience during the January 6th attack at the Capitol. We share extended excerpts from his presentation and video.
Next, Trump's team of defense attorneys offered their own case, beginning with a rambling, disjointed, confusing, often political case by lead defense attorney Bruce Castor (famous for having refused to charge Bill Cosby while a prosecutor in Pennsylvania), before an angry, confusing, and even-more-political and partisan case was made by attorney David Schoen (who had previously represented convicted felon and Trump pal Roger Stone, and was set to defend convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein before he committed suicide in prison.)
Castor made no case at all about the Constitutionality of the proceedings, and even appeared to threaten at least one Republican Senator before arguing that a trial to determine if Trump should be allowed to hold future office was not necessary, since "smart" voters had already done a very good job of voting Trump out of office by themselves. (Begging the question of whether Castor will be allowed by Trump to return tomorrow!) Schoen eventually seemed to make a case against the Constitutionality of the trial, but his argument was so quickly read, and included so many arcane Constitutional and historical references, it was virtually impossible to follow or make sense of.
No worries, however. His case --- any case at all, apparently --- was good enough to win the votes of 44 Republicans Senators when the resolution to dismiss the trial was ultimately defeated at the end of the day by a 56-44 vote. All Democrats and six Republicans (Collins, Cassidy, Murkowski, Romney, Sasse and Toomey) voted to allow the trial to proceed. Opening arguments for the actual substance of the article of impeachment for "Incitement of Insurrection" begin on Wednesday.
Finally, in our closing few minutes today, we switch gears (mostly) for a quick report on two disturbing, and somewhat related developments. The first story regards an apparent hacker or intruder who was able to use remote access software several days ago, to dangerously increase sodium hydroxide (sometimes known as lye) levels at a water treatment plant in Oldsmar, Florida, near Tampa. Luckily the incident was noticed --- live, as it was happening --- by an alert operator at the plant who saw the manipulation on his monitor before drinking water was actually poisoned.
And, in somewhat related news, we learned over the weekend that top officials at the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) --- the federal agency responsible for certifying computer voting and tabulation systems --- quietly changed a provision in new security standards for voting systems to allow wireless modems and chips in such systems. The change comes after years of work on the new draft standards by cybersecurity and voting systems experts who strongly urged against allowing remote access hardware, which can be used to hack election results, in such systems.
Whether they are used to manipulate results or not obviously makes no difference to those who are concerned that results might have been changed by hackers, as today's Impeachment Trial should, once again, underscore.
We hope to have more information in the future on this, but the newly modified standards --- known as the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG) --- are now much more friendly to private voting system vendors (and hackers) and are set to be approved by the Commission tomorrow (Wednesday). The EAC has long been captured by private voting system vendors, and appears to be doing their bidding once again.
The Election Integrity advocates at Free Speech for People have set up a petition that they are asking voters to sign in hopes of encouraging EAC leadership to return to the safer, modem-free standards before they are officially adopted and used by many states across the country...
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