w/ Brad & Desi
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...
|MORE BRAD BLOG 'SPECIAL COVERAGE' PAGES...|
It's been a rough week. So before we get to America's rising 'demons of hell' on today's BradCast and how we might counter their re-emergence against what is left of American democracy, a few slightly more encouraging news items to kick things off. [Audio linnk to full show is posted at end of summary.]
In Georgia, the three white men who were caught on video tape murdering 25-year old black jogger Ahmaud Arbery in 2020 after hunting him down in their pick-up trucks, were each sentenced today to life in prison. Two of them, father and son, got life without the possibility of parole. The third, their neighbor, could be paroled after serving 30 years. But he's already 52, so...
In Arizona, or Florida, or wherever "they" preside, the buffoonish, rightwing conspiracy theorists, con-men and theoretical cybersecurity experts calling themselves Cyber Ninjas, declared they exist no more. That, just one day after an AZ state judge said they are to be fined $50,000 for each day that they continued to refuse to hand over public documents regarding the pretend "forensic audit" of Maricopa County (Phoenix), AZ's 2020 Presidential election they were hired by the GOP state Senate to carry out. More on that matter, hopefully, on a not-too-distant BradCast.
Next, as our week commemorating the grim, one-year anniversary of Donald Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election by hurling thousands of supporters at the U.S. Capitol last year on January 6th, in hopes of halting the certification of the Electoral College vote with a deadly insurrection, comes to a close, a bit of mopping up and looking ahead to ways to prevent a more successful election coup from happening in the near future.
First, some reflections today from our 39th President, the 97-year old democracy champion Jimmy Carter. He wrote this week in the New York Times that he now "fears" for our democracy, citing last year's insurrection and the politicians in his home state of Georgia and elsewhere, such as Texas and Florida, who have "leveraged the distrust they have created to enact laws that empower partisan legislatures to intervene in election processes." Carter sees Americans "being persuaded to think and act likewise, threatening to collapse the foundations of our security and democracy with breathtaking speed." He says the he now fears that what he, his Carter Center and America itself "have fought so hard to achieve globally — the right to free, fair elections, unhindered by strongman politicians who seek nothing more than to grow their own power — has become dangerously fragile at home."
Carter is hardly the only one with a long and broad perspective on history who has become unnerved by what we are now seeing in America. Ronald Reagan's U.S. Solicitor General, Charles Fried, interviewed last month by CNN's Christiane Amanpour, noted his birth in Prague in 1935, when "Czechoslovakia was a real democracy" before "the demons of hell came out and spoiled that for 50 years." The 86-year old longtime Republican and Harvard Law professor now says he sees "those people re-emerging" and he "hears the same tune and it scares me."
So, for those of us paying attention, what can be done? We talk about exactly that today with our guest, DR. NILS GILMAN of the Berggruen Institute, following on his recent L.A. Times op-ed discussing similar nightmares as those cited by Carter and Fried which have continue to emerge throughout 2021 and what we can ALL now do to try and counter them.
Gilman was also the co-founder the Transition Integrity Project (TIP), a bipartisan group of security, military, political and media experts who met during the summer of 2020 to game out what might happen [PDF] in various worst-case scenarios if Trump decided to declare the election results invalid and/or refused to leave office that fall. We begin today with how his TIP group viewed the January 6 Electoral College certification event in advance, which he says they saw as a "moment of Constitutional stress that bad actors could potentially exploit," warning at the time that "there needed to be preparations on the part of law enforcement to be ready for that possibility." Perhaps we'll pay more attention to his group's warnings the next time, if they decide they need to reconvene before 2024 election.
He is now warning, in his piece at L.A. Times, that "the runaway train of illiberalism continues to bear down on American democracy, and the need to act could not be more urgent." Gilman explains today what he means by the term "illiberal democracy," a phrase he cites as being coined by Hungarian strongman President Viktor Orban, who was recently endorsed by Donald Trump. Under Orban, Hungary, in recent years, has seen its media essentially taken over by his rightwing government.
Citing strongman leaders "all over the world, in Brazil, Turkey, the Philippines, Poland, "you're seeing the rise of this illiberal democracy, where you still have elections, but the electoral process is so corrupted that it basically ensures that you will get right or far-right victories under any and all circumstances." Sound familiar? That, as nations like Hungary are literally being hailed of late by folks on the American right like Tucker Carlson and Fox "News". "It's being celebrated in rightwing media as a model that America might want to follow," Gilman charges.
He goes on to detail, both in his op-ed and on today's program, what "ordinary citizens" who oppose such fascist takeovers of our democracy can and must do at the state and local level --- as we wait and hope for voting rights and election protection legislation at the federal level --- to otherwise counter such forces. Election officials are now facing threats from Trump's MAGA Mob across the country, even as his supporters are working to take over key election administration positions by both hook and crook.
"People can go out and become pollworkers," urges Gilman. "We have an under-supply. Run as a local election administrator. There are thousands of positions all over the country. Our election system is currently totally decentralized and local administrators have a lot of power, and we need people committed to the democratic process to be in those position, not people who are committed to partisan victory at any and all costs."
As he explains, "there are things that an ordinary citizen can do. But the truth is that the real problem is we need to have elites who are going to be committed to democratic practice. What we have in this country now --- and we're seeing this very much in the current Congress --- you see a split between some elites who are basically complicit with the crimes of the previous administration and then others who are complacent about the likelihood that this could come back. We need elites to take this problem more seriously and really take on the challenge of illiberalism and the anti-democratic tendencies that are becoming more and more legion in this country, particularly on the right."
We also discuss my personal concerns --- my personal nightmares --- about the ability of committed, bad faith Republicans at this point to game the Electoral College in 2024 in a way they were not prepared to do in 2020. If they do so --- at the state legislative and/or Congressional level --- I believe there is nothing currently in federal law or the U.S. Constitution to prevent such a bad-faith exercise from succeeding next time. Please tune in to see if Gilman shares my concern.
Finally today, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest, very lively, Green News Report, which we had to postpone until today to make room yesterday for our special coverage of the first anniversary of the GOP's January 6th, 2021 insurrection...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
While we've been citing the New York Times Editorial Board's headline from New Years Day of late on The BradCast, declaring that "Every Day is Jan. 6 Now", today it quite literally was, as the nation marked the grim first anniversary of Donald Trump's final, deadly and failed attempt to steal the 2020 election. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
We'll let you tune in for details of our special coverage today, in which we discuss some difficult realities in the ongoing fight to save American democracy. Trump's attempted coup might have failed on January 6, but his evidence-free lies about the election have succeeded in duping nearly 80% of Republicans into believing that Joe Biden's victory was not legitimate. That, despite the lack of any evidence, more than one year later, that the election results were fraudulent in any state.
As noted on today's program, authoritarianism and fascism, it seems, have had far greater success over the centuries for a reason. They are much easier than democracy, which requires truth, facts, transparency, public oversight and public participation in its defense. But, if you are lied to, if you don't know what is actually going on in our country, in your government, if you don't know the facts, it is difficult to defend them or democracy itself.
But we will keep striving to do so, by bringing you independently verifiable facts every day for as long as we can --- in a way that doesn't require you to simply trust us --- in hopes of somehow, someday, someway, restoring a sense of a shared reality from which we can all take action.
Toward that end, both Vice President Kamala Harris and President Biden offered remarks today from inside the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, one year after it was attacked by a duped MAGA Mob ginned up by Donald Trump to believe that his lies about the election had any relation to reality. On that day, and those that followed, some his supporters, as well as several U.S. Capitol and D.C. law enforcement officers, paid the price with their lives, along with nearly 150 officers who were injured in the unprecedented assault.
We share both Harris' and Biden's words today, each of whom underscored yet again the necessity of federal legislation to shore up voting rights to counter the GOP's newly enacted schemes to subvert elections and overthrow democracy itself.
For his part, Biden forcefully called out the failed former President in blistering remarks in which he accused Trump and his supporters of holding a "dagger at the throat of democracy" in an "armed insurrection" one year ago.
"We must be absolutely clear about what is true and what is a lie," Biden urged. "The former President of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election. He’s done so because he values power over principle, because he sees his own interests as more important than his country’s interests and America’s interests, and because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution. He can’t accept he lost."
"Right now, in state after state, new laws are being written --- not to protect the vote, but to deny it; not only to suppress the vote, but to subvert it; not to strengthen or protect our democracy, but because the former president lost," he continued. "It's wrong. It’s undemocratic. And frankly, it's un-American."
"It's up to all of us --- to 'We the People' --- to stand for the rule of law, to preserve the flame of democracy, to keep the promise of America alive. That promise is at risk, targeted by the forces that value brute strength over the sanctity of democracy, fear over hope, personal gain over public good.
"Make no mistake about it: We’re living at an inflection point in history," Biden said. "As we stand here today --- one year since January 6th, 2021 --- the lies that drove the anger and madness we saw in this place, they have not abated. So, we have to be firm, resolute, and unyielding in our defense of the right to vote and to have that vote counted."
"We are in a battle for the soul of America," he charged, reiterating the argument with which he kicked off his 2020 campaign as he concluded his remarks. "I did not seek this fight brought to this Capitol one year ago today, but I will not shrink from it either. I will stand in this breach. I will defend this nation. And I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of our democracy."
He finished by offering a blessing for "those who stand watch over our democracy."
Finally today, at the end of somewhat dark program, some light. Just a bit. We close with a spoken word poem of some hope from Amanda Gorman, our National Youth Poet Laureate, called New Day's Lyric...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Germany shuts down half of its last remaining nuclear power plants; Trump's EPA chief, a former coal lobbyist, tapped for Virginia's top environmental post; Toyota, Chevy and Ford make big EV announcements; PLUS: San Francisco gets the world's first hydrogen powered ferry... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): 6 big environmental stories to watch in 2022; 2021 temperature records now coming in; Manchin [claims he] sees path to climate deal; A month of unprecedented U.S. weather disasters ends with Colorado fire catastrophe; Ford launches effort to make EV charging in the US much easier; Texas gas barons have not learned lessons of blackouts; Judge orders release of disputed DAPL documents; Texas enacts nation's strongest flood disclosure law; Wildfires are digging carbon-spewing holes in the Arctic... PLUS: This vast wildfire lab is helping foresters prepare for a hotter planet... and much, MUCH more! ...
One year after the former President's attempt to steal the 2020 election by hurling the bodies of his supporters at the U.S. Capitol, we're more convinced than ever on The BradCast that, as the New York Times Editorial Board declared on New Years Day, "Every Day is Jan. 6 Now". [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]
We will soon be entering our 19th year at The BRAD BLOG of trying to warn about the ongoing and worsening threats facing American democracy. But the rising tide of authoritarianism in this nation is now more of a threat than at any time in modern decades. If American democracy falls, so does virtually every other pressing demand, like the need to save humanity from the ravages of climate change. So, yeah. It's kind of important, and we will continue to stay on this beat as long as necessary, as long as we can.
Toward that end today, the despicable, disgraced, twice-impeached, failed, loser of a former President, Donald Trump, who lied about voter and election fraud in order to try and steal a Presidential election, cancelled his planned press conference at Mar-a-Lago on the first anniversary of his pathetic, desperate and deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol. As it turns out, he's both a coward and didn't actually have anything to say that hasn't already been heard and/or debunked as bullshit.
His ridiculously (but not surprisingly) childish statement announcing he was calling off the presser came just hours after his pal, Sean Hannity of Fox 'News', was politely invited to answer questions from the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Capitol assault and Trump's attempt to steal the election which lead up to it. The Committee makes clear in its letter [PDF] that they have already obtained many documents from others regarding Hannity's insider status and direct conversations with Trump in the days before, during and after the attack. While the Committee explained their efforts to go out of their way to avoid any First Amendment press freedom issues with Hannity, and even tried to appeal to his (pretend) patriotism, its unclear whether the Fox propagandist will cooperate.
Next, buttressing the persuasive argument made by Marcy Wheeler with Nicole Sandler on The BradCast last week, Attorney General Merrick Garland, facing pressure from the left to bring accountability to Trump and his cronies, addressed DoJ officials on Wednesday on the occasion of the first anniversary of last year's Capitol attack. After detailing the more than 700 arrests made to date, and at least 250 perpetrators who are still being sought for assaulting law enforcement officials that day, Garland promised the probe was far from complete and was following the facts of the case from the bottom up.
"The Justice Department remains committed to holding all Jan. 6 perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law --- whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy," the AG vowed, adding: "We will follow the facts wherever they lead."
He also highlighted how the U.S. Supreme Court has radically gutted the Voting Rights Act twice over the past decade, and called again for new federal legislation to give the DoJ tools they need to assure the right to vote and to combat state legislatures institutionalizing the ability to subvert election results on a partisan whim.
Finally, we're joined again today by WILL BUNCH, longtime national correspondent and columnist at Philadelphia Inquirer. Bunch was with us on January 6th last year for a wild ride of a broadcast that day as the Capitol was still under assault during the official confirmation of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory as we went to air. At the time, it was particularly unclear what exactly the MAGA Mob was doing and how they might be stopped.
Among the topics of our conversation one year later with Bunch (who just tested positive for COVID!): Lessons learned since Jan. 6 and the many questions still unknown; The many, still confusing reasons and explanations as to why it took so long for law enforcement to respond to the worse attack on the Capitol in two centuries (he suggests part of that was due to "a dog that didn't bark"); Whether or not there should have been more accountability brought by the Justice Department by now (he notes that the Watergate probe took much longer); And his thoughts on Garland's comments at the DoJ today...among much more!
"Honestly, it's taken a full year and it's taken really diligent, praise-worthy work from the January 6th Committee in the House to bring into focus some of what we saw happening that day, that we didn't fully understand in real time," Bunch observes. "What the goals were, who was behind what and why. We've learned so much in the last twelve months."
We've got a lot to discuss on today's program...
On today's BradCast: Last September, Donald Trump demanded an "audit" of the 2020 Presidential election in Texas, where he was certified to have won by about 550,000 votes, the narrowest victory for a Republican nominee in the Lone Star State in decades. Hours after he demanded it, his lapdog, Republican Governor Greg Abbott, made it happen. Despite the state's top election administrator previously describing the 2020 election as "safe and secure", state taxpayers are now quietly paying for another review of results in the so-called "conservative" state. Four of its largest counties are being reviewed. Three of them went to Joe Biden in 2020. A report from the first phase of the so-called 'forensic audit' was released last week, when as few people as possible might notice: At the end of the day on Friday...New Years Eve. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
But before we get there today, a quick update on the quickly intensifying Omicron surge of the coronavirus, as more than 100,000 Americans were hospitalized as of Monday, the highest number since the late summer Delta surge. President Biden once again urged Americans to get their shots. In White House remarks he said the public should "be concerned about Omicron, but don't be alarmed," before adding, "but if you're unvaccinated, you have some reason to be alarmed."
It's unknown if the Republican anti-vaxxer community in Orange County, CA will be moved by the President's comments. Perhaps the death this week of their well known 46-year old Deputy District Attorney, Kelly Ernby, a longtime GOP anti-vaccine activist and failed political candidate, will get their attention. We share her tragic, if predictable, story today, just weeks after the prosecutor's last Southern California rally in December in favor of "freedom" in opposition to vaccine mandates.
Then we're joined by PHILIP B. STARK, longtime Professor of Statistics at UC-Berkeley and the inventor of the post-election Risk Limiting Audit (RLA) protocol, to discuss the very quietly released "Phase 1 Progress Report" [PDF] of what Texas is describing as a "Full Forensic Audit of November 2020 General Election". The phrase "forensic audit", as Stark notes, doesn't actually have any accepted definition or specific meaning. But, we also discuss much more about the newly found "forensic audit" fever among Republicans who have spent years blocking Democratic measures in Congress to institute legitimate post-election audits in all 50 states after every election.
You'll not be surprised to learn that the Lone Star State's review, at least so far, appears to have turned up pretty much nothing unusual at all. Their hand-count of ballots (not of results, apparently, but simply of the number of ballots) in a number of precincts in each of four different large counties (Dallas, Harris, Tarrant and Collin) appears to have largely confirmed the original certified totals in those precincts. We discuss the not-much-to-see-here details that add to the continuing pattern of Republicans finding no evidence at all that the 2020 election was stolen, as Trump continues to falsely complain to this day.
But there is a much larger picture to discuss. The implementation of secret, computerized tallying of ballots over the past two decades has made election results virtually impossible for the public to oversee. That has helped open the door to crackpot claims like those from the loser former President that our elections are littered with fraud and false tallies. Stark explains how the lack of legitimate post-election audits, safeguards, transparency and "evidence-based elections" has led the nation to this moment when American democracy itself is now under very serious threat.
"The end goal is to conduct elections in such a way that we have strong evidence that the reported winners actually won," Stark explains. "In order to do that, you need to start by running your election well. You will have the documents, processes, the security protocols, etc., in place that allow you to do a meaningful audit that can tie a bow around the election, and say, yes, whatever might have gone wrong with the election didn't change the reported outcome."
"The problem," he continues, "is if you go into an election that wasn't run especially well, and then afterwards try to do something based on the records that you do have. You're never going to be able to present affirmative records that the reported winners really did win. They won't give you evidence for or against the outcome being right."
And then, the conversation turns much darker.
"I don't want to be alarmist, but I think we have a very short period of time in which to make our election processes far more publicly transparent and visible, and have much more public participation," Stark warns. "If we haven't implemented evidence-based elections by the 2024 Presidential election we are very likely to see serious civil unrest in the aftermath. We have to make it a top priority to conduct our elections in a way that they produce real evidence of who won, not just 'trust me, I did it right,' or 'trust the vendor who sold me the [voting and tabulation] equipment' or 'trust the people who configured it for me,' or 'trust this or trust that,' but actually 'show me!' We really need to have 'show me,' not 'trust me' elections."
As much as we strive to avoid false "both sidesism" on this program --- and even though some Dems in Congress have tried for years to adopt federal legislation mandating real post-election audits, only to be stymied by Republicans every time --- this really is a bipartisan problem. "After the 2016 election, the Republicans didn't want to look. After the 2020 election, the Democrats don't want to look. If you like the answer, you don't want to look too hard. I think that's a terrible mistake. It allows uncertainty to be weaponized, which is what we've seen in the aftermath of the 2020 election," Stark cautions.
He continues: "The fact that a system is vulnerable does not mean that it was exploited. But we ought to build our systems or run our systems in a way that if a vulnerability was exploited, we can catch it and correct the outcome before it becomes final. And we know how to do that. It is a solved problem. It is not rocket science. It does involve a lot of shoe leather. And it involves not trusting computers on the whole. It requires public transparency."
But if that is not going to happen at the federal level (thanks in no small part to Democratic Senators Manchin and Sinema, who are joining Republicans to block passage of audit mandates in the Freedom to Vote Act), it can certainly happen at the state level, where very few, if any, states currently carry out audits that are robust and transparent enough to earn full voter confidence. "I hope that some state legislatures rise to the occasion and decide to do evidence-based elections in time for at least 2024, if not the midterms," Stark tells me.
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our first Green News Report of the new year, with deadly climate change-fueled extreme weather already wreaking havoc across both the nation and the world as 2022 begins...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Colorado's Marshall Fire now the most destructive wildfire in state history; 2022 kicks off with record-breaking extreme weather in the U.S. and around the world; PLUS: Southern California beaches closed after heavy rains trigger massive sewage spill... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): The reddest U.S. states face the deepest climate danger; Jackpile Mine toxic legacy continues at Laguna Pueblo; Hawaii upholds order requiring US Navy to drain fuel tanks; Changing climate parches Afghanistan, exacerbating poverty; Chile rewrites constitution, confronting climate change head on; Solar power projects see the light on former Appalachian coal land; Germany shuts down half of its remaining coal plants... PLUS: A WA State tree has stood for 500 years. Will it be sold for $17,500?... and much, MUCH more! ...
Well, we're back! That may or may not be good news depending on who you are and how you choose to look at it. Either way, we're getting our sea legs back on today's BradCast after a week off between the holidays (thanks, Nicole Sandler for covering for us for much of that time!), but it looks like the new year may not be much different than the old one. At least not necessarily better. At least not immediately. Nonetheless, we remain hopeful since it beats the alternative. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
Among the stories and news both good and bad on today's program...
Above all, we should stop underestimating the threat facing the country. Countless times over the past six years, up to and including the events of Jan. 6, Mr. Trump and his allies openly projected their intent to do something outrageous or illegal or destructive. Every time, the common response was that they weren’t serious or that they would never succeed. How many times will we have to be proved wrong before we take it seriously? The sooner we do, the sooner we might hope to salvage a democracy that is in grave danger.
It's NICOLE SANDLER, back one last time in 2021, guest hosting The BradCast for Brad and Desi. As we approach the end of the year, it's almost required to look back at the year and pass judgment on how it went. So we'll do some of that today. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]
I think one of the more important jobs of any President is choosing the people who'll make up the cabinet and perform other important functions in the government. It's hard to forget TFG (the former guy) bragging that he'd hire "Only the best people". Well, we know how that went. Did Joe Biden do better?
I’m joined today by JEFF HAUSER, director of The Revolving Door Project, who scrutinizes the executive branch appointments. We'll get his thoughts on Joe Biden's picks as his first year in office draws to a close next month.
As usual, we’ll start the show with the latest news, of which there was precious little this week. But, shortly before publishing today’s show, actual news did break! The jury is back in the Ghislaine Maxwell trial… She was accused of recruiting teenage girls to massage pedophile Jeffrey Epstein at his homes in Palm Beach, Florida, New York, New Mexico and elsewhere between 1994 and 2004.
Well, she was found guilty on five of six counts including conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and sex trafficking of an individual under 18. She was found not guilty of enticement of one individual under 17 with the intent to engage in illegal sexual activity.
So that happened…
And we’ll end the show with a warning to America about a big threat from down here in Floriduh…You can thank me after Election Day 2024, I hope...
That's it for me over here. Brad and Desi will be back after the New Year. May we all finally have one that we can be happy about!...
It's the excruciatingly long final week of the year. Brad and Desi are on vacation. I'm NICOLE SANDLER, holding down the fort and guest hosting The BradCast for a few days. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
I have a busy show for you today. But I start today's companion post with a bit of a retraction from the CDC which just arrived in my inbox. I honestly don’t know whether to laugh or cry, as it showed up just as I put the finishing touches on today's show.
Our first guest today is JOHN M BARRY, a professor at Tulane and author of a number of books. The one we're concerned with today is The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History. Barry literally wrote the book on the closest approximation of what we're living through right now. So I wanted to check in with him to ask how the 1918 Spanish Flu finally ended, and to ask if we might be on the same track with the arrival and potential predominance of the Omicron variant. And, frankly, it appeared that I may have hit on something.
At least until five minutes ago, when I received this alert. "CDC significantly cuts estimate of omicron's prevalence in US," reads the headline at The Hill. So I kept reading...
I guess that just means the situation is even more dire than we thought.
Also today, I reached back into late 2020 for our second interview, but there’s a method to my madness. In October of 2020, NY Times columnist NICHOLAS KRISTOF and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, produced a film to go along with the book they released the previous year with the same title, Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope.
In it, Kristof takes a hard look into poverty in America, the wealthiest nation on the planet. He takes us back to his hometown of Yamhill, Oregon, where people are really struggling.
Perhaps it was the journey of making the film and writing the book that convinced Kristof to make a major life change. This year, he quit the NY Times, moved back to Oregon and launched his campaign to run for Governor. It appears to me that he's doing it for all the correct reasons. Listen to our conversation, and you’ll understand what I mean…
Welcome to that weird week between Christmas and New Years during which not a lot of news is made, and we'd all rather be doing something else! Well, Brad Friedman and Desi Doyen are off doing something else, so you got me again, NICOLE SANDLER as your trusted guest host, filling in today on the The BradCast! [Audio link to today's show is posted at bottom of this summary..]
After a perfunctory look at the lack of news happening today, we're joined by MARCY WHEELER, the independent investigative journalist based at emptywheel.net, who covers national security and civil liberties. For the past few months, she's been covering the pleas and proceedings around the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Of the 700 plus who've been arrested so far for their participation in the riot and/or insurrection, Marcy tells us that around 100 have cut deals with the court, most of them on trespassing charges.
The best thing I heard from Marcy is that she believes justice is being served. And though the wheels of justice turn excruciatingly slowly, she thinks the criticisms being lobbed at Attorney General Merrick Garland are somewhat overblown and claims that DOJ is doing the necessary groundwork to fully prosecute those responsible.
I wanted to know if the groundwork will eventually lead to charges against the former president, and she referred me to a post she wrote back in August at emptywheel titled "How a Trump Prosecution for January 6 Would Work", in which she suggested it'll all come down to obstruction of justice...which is what the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the attack seems to probing regarding Trump et al right now...
What would Henry Ford think about his company's new, all-electric F-150 Lightning pickup truck? Clues are available yet again this year, scattered throughout the program, as he hosted several great BradCast episodes from the bygone days of yesteryear.
So, dim the lights, stir up a cocktail, stoke up the fireplace and, for God's sake, put the kids to bed! (Or don't. What do we care? Maybe they'll learn something for a change.)
No masks required, as we travel back to the 1930s and 40s to revisit some of our earliest BradCasts from the golden days of radio, featuring three timeless short radio plays from the days when our program was still sponsored by the Ford Motor Company of Dearborn, Michigan and introduced each night by Mr. Ford himself!
Enjoy the world-renowned "BradCast Radio Theatre Players," featuring a very young Brad Friedman, Desi Doyen and the late great actor/playwright Paul Byrne!
And to all a good night! (Except to Communists!)
On today's BradCast, we continue to catch up with a few of our favorite progressive journalists as the year grinds down. And, yes, there are still a few things to celebrate before Christmas. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
This week, unionized Kellogg's workers in four states --- Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Tennessee --- approved a new five-year contract after a long, 11-week strike. The corporate cereal behemoth had recently threatened to replace the strikers with new, permanent (scab) workers. But, according to members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) International Union, the loud support of lawmakers, including the President of the United States and members of his Administration, Sen. Bernie Sanders, as well as state and local officials in Michigan and elsewhere, buoyed their resolve to keep going. And it worked! The BCTGM President noted this week that the new contract includes wage increases, cost-of-living adjustments, expanded health and retirement benefits and "does not include any concessions."
The victory for 1,400 workers, at a company which touted its workers just last year, during the darkest days of the pandemic, as "essential workers helping to feed the nation," was one of several for unionized labor this year. Our guest today, author and longtime progressive journalist JOHN NICHOLS of The Nation and Madison, Wisconsin's Capitol Times, joins us to help explain why.
"What's happened again and again" this year at companies like Kellogg's, John Deere and elsewhere, Nichols explains, "is that initially, the company bargains in the old-fashioned way. 'We're going to be tough with you...We'll permanently replace you.' All the old tricks." But, in a labor market with very low unemployment, where it is now difficult to find skilled workers or those willing to work in difficult, often dangerous conditions for low pay and benefits, "it's not going to work in this situation. The end result is the companies blinked."
But we've got much more than just the rise of labor in 2021 to catch up on with Nichols today in a lively, wide-ranging conversation on that...
That's just a taste. Tune in for much more today with the great Mr. Nichols!
Then, yes, in the spirit of the holidays (and, perhaps, in hopes that it may save even one life), we laud two Republicans today for (barely) doing the right thing this week. One is Congressman Tom Rice of South Carolina, who now says he regrets voting against Joe Biden's certification in two states following the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. ("There was a coward in that equation," Rice told Politico. "But it wasn’t Mike Pence.") And, perhaps most begrudgingly of all, we laud Trump himself for saying out loud during a wingnut interview this week: "The vaccine worked. But some people aren't taking it. The ones that get very sick and go to the hospital are the ones that don't take the vaccine. ... If you take the vaccine, you're protected. Look, the results of the vaccine are very good...People aren't dying when they take the vaccine."
Yes, the bar is admittedly very low at this point, but we've gotta start somewhere if we want to figure out how to repair this broken nation (and planet.)
Speaking of...the fine folks at ExxonMobil were apparently able to fit in one last disaster before year's end, with an explosion in the middle of the night at one of their refineries near Houston that injured four workers, three of whom were airlifted from the scene. The company downplayed the incident, as usual, describing it as "a fire occurred at our facility". The Houston County Sheriff's office described a "major industrial accident". We hope to learn more soon.
No room for that story today, however, in our final Green News Report of the year (we're standing down next week, Nicole Sandler will be filling in for us for most of it), as Desi Doyen joins us for a round-up of the disasters and successes in the environmental world in 2021, and much more...including one more victory for labor and union workers, as the Biden Administration mobilizes to rid the nation of millions of lead pipes...
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