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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, April 12, 2021
SCOTUS Approves FCC Rule to Allow Further Consolidation of Local Media Outlets
Under Trump, the federal agency created a Catch-22 on new rule by requiring private research to counter hidden public data...
Sunday 'Avoid the Politicks' Toons
PDiddie's Springtime reminder to avoid the 'blood-sucking insects' in his latest collection of the week's best political toons...
GOP 'Legislative' Agenda Now Carried Out by Activist SCOTUS: 'BradCast' 4/9/21
Guest: Court expert Ian Millhiser; Also: Amazon union vote loses in AL; Biden's new SCOTUS reform Comm.; Hating on Cruz and Graham...
The Swift and Pathetic Downfall of AL's Sleazy SoS John Merrill: 'BradCast' 4/8/21
Also: Other sorry sleazy news from a GOP in free fall; Biden's gun safety executive actions; Manchin's ridiculous blockade of progress...
'Green News Report' 4/8/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Biden speaks to dumb GOP infrastructure attacks; Looming wave of abandoned oil, gas wells; Treasury to help private sector decarbon-ize economy; PLUS: GM's all in on EV future...
Previous GNRs: 4/6/21 - 4/1/21 - Archives...
Overcoming Trump's Sabotage to Restore Landmark Iran Nuke Deal: 'BradCast' 4/7
Guest: Dr. Trita Parsi of the Quincy Inst.; Also: 10 Dem Reps join insurrection lawsuit against Trump; Update on Amazon union vote in AL...
Dems Hit Legislative Jackpot; Repubs' Trip to Looneyland: 'BradCast' 4/6/21
Also: State GOPers adopt Fossil Fuel Ind. bills to nix renewables, block small govt; Rep. Hastings RIP; Vaccines to all on April 19...
'Green News Report' 4/6/21
FL Wastewater crisis FL; Admin pushes back on GOP opposition to infrastructure; Earliest cherry blossoms in 1,200 years; PLUS: Springfield, MA victory for breathers...
Vaccination Nation: 'BradCast' 4/5/21
Wherein Brad and Desi get a first dose; COVID cases surge again, esp. among young; U.S. tops its record for shot distribution in race with new variants; Listeners ring in with own experiences, concerns on all of the above...
Sunday 'Hippity Hoppity' Toons
Here comes PDiddie's latest toon collection for Easter Day! Hop on over!...
EAC Sued After Allowing Modems in Vote Systems Following Private Meets with Vendors: 'BradCast' 4/2/21
Guest: FSFP's Susan Greenhalgh; Also: Capitol attack; MLB pulls GA All-Star game...
Paying the High Price of Corporate Capture: 'BradCast' 4/1/21
Also: CA drought returns; De-Trumpifying the EPA...
'Green News Report' 4/1/21
'GNR' Special Coverage: Biden's sweeping, $2T American Jobs Plan to rebuild nation's infrastructure, take on the climate crisis...
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...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...

Guest: Election integrity advocate, journalist Jennifer Cohn on newly discovered ES&S, EAC failures; Also: Biden endorses filibuster reform...
By Brad Friedman on 3/17/2021 7:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast: While Team Trump spent months pretending the Dominion Voting Systems company stole votes from Trump and flipped them to Biden with their computerized voting and tabulation systems, there is exactly zero independently verifiable evidence to support that baseless conclusion. At the same time, however, recently unearthed documents from the state of Texas and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), reveal a gaping security hole in new systems made by the largest voting system company in the nation, Election Systems and Software, Inc. (better known as ES&S), which has systems deployed in dozens of states. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But, first up today, some annoying (if long overdue) news that Donald Trump finally made it clear(ish), during a Tuesday interview on Fox "News", that he recommends his own supporters should, indeed, get vaccinated against COVID. He cites the "great" and "safe" vaccines that are now available, describing them as "something that works" to prevent the deadly disease. We hope his supporters listen, since they are currently the most disinclined to want to get vaccinated.

Next, some long overdue encouraging news on the Senate legislative filibuster. In a Tuesday interview with ABC News, President Biden --- a longtime Senate institutionalist previously opposed to filibuster reform --- said he now favors it being overhauled. He says he supports a modification to bring back the "talking filibuster", where obstructionists are forced to hold the floor and keep speaking until they can't anymore. That would place the onus on the minority hoping to block legislation, rather than forcing Democrats, in this case, to try and find 60 votes to pass anything at all. Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had no problem unilaterally killing the filibuster entirely to steal and pack Trump nominees onto the U.S. Supreme Court, now vows to grind the Senate to a halt if Dems dare change the legislative filibuster. But, of course, McConnell has already done that with his unprecedented use of the legislative filibuster to block everything! We discuss.

Then, on to our main story today. Shortly after the November election last year, Donald Trump and his gaggle of dopey friends and clueless, corrupt attorneys hatched an evidence-free conspiracy theory that Canadian-based Dominion Voting Systems had participated in an elaborate plot to secretly flip votes and steal the election for Biden. (The theory was based in part on my accurate, deep-dive exclusive investigative reporting from 2010, regarding some voting system vendors --- though not Dominion --- who then had ties to Venezuela and its then living President, Hugo Chavez. Team Trump bastardized that reporting to pretend it had something to do with their dumb theory that Dominion stole the 2020 election from Trump.) Dominion has since sued Team Trumpers Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell for defamation, slapping them with suits for $1.3 billion each. Last week, news out of Stark County, Ohio and out of Louisiana proved that Dominion is, in fact, being financially harmed by the fraudulent "fraud" plot used to try and discredit them.

But the nation's largest voting machine company, ES&S --- with a years-long, thuggish reputation according to elections insiders, along with a long history of failed elections on their crappy, computerized voting and tabulation systems --- largely escaped scrutiny by Republicans after last November's election. But they shouldn't have, given the disturbing, well-supported, deep-dive exclusive that election integrity advocate and Twitter phenom JENNIFER COHN broke last week at Who, What, Why. She joins us today to explain both her well-sourced report and its far-reaching ramifications.

As it turns out, she reports, there is a flaw in ES&S' installation process that prevents "hash-verification" when software is installed or patched onto their ExpressVote touchscreen voting systems. What that means, in layman's terms, is that its impossible to know if the software installed onto the systems actually matches the certified version of the software that was tested by federal testing authorities under the purview of the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission.

This gaping hole --- discovered by the state of Texas in advance of last November's election --- means that untested, modified software, perhaps containing malware, could potentially have been installed onto ES&S' systems in more than a dozen states last year. Even more maddening is that ES&S was well aware of this flaw, but told elections officials (if they happened to notice the failed hash test) that it was nothing to worry about, nothing to see here, everything is fine --- just trust us.

"The strong implication from the documents which were produced is that [ES&S was] telling them that a mismatch should just be treated as a match," Cohn tells me. "That blanket instruction really concerned the Texas examiners when they found out this was happening."

More maddening still, as Cohn reports, is that ES&S forces jurisdictions to allow their own employees or contractors to do these installations, rather than allowing jurisdictions to do so themselves, which might allow local or state officials to do their own hash-verification (or "acceptance testing", as it is known by some in the industry). Some jurisdictions that refuse to allow ES&S to do the installation will have their warrantees void by the company. As one former voting system employee tweeted in response to all of this, it is "like buying a new home and before the closing the seller says, 'You don't need a final walk-through. Just trust me."

"Normally, the customer is supposed to do it. The whole point of it is to make sure that the vendor is being honest and they're not giving malicious vote-flipping software. So to have the vendor do the hash testing themselves defeats the whole point," Cohn explains. "One of the examiners called it 'the fox guarding the henhouse', and said it was ES&S self-certifying their systems. Even the attorneys for the Texas Secretary of state were appalled."

Cohn's reporting at Who, What, Why is based on a passel of documents obtained via public records requests that reveal, for example, a troubled Texas election examiner complaining via email to their Secretary of State's attorney that this security flaw is "a gift wrapped opportunity to an insider threat," before going on to add: "It’s similar to a bank robber knowing that the camera covering teller #3 is broken."

In addition to Texas, ES&S systems used last year in Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Washington, DC, Florida, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Washington state, Wisconsin and Wyoming may all have been similarly vulnerable to running modified, vulnerable and uncertified software during the election, as Cohn details in her report, explaining today that it could be as many as 35 states.

And, as if all of that is not yet maddening enough, she also reports on the disturbing reaction from the EAC to this gaping security hole. The federal agency which is supposed to oversee voting system certification, apparently knew about this issue prior to the election, but failed to inform the public and quietly helped patch it all over for ES&S before, essentially, lying about it all once Cohn started asking questions in February. The EAC, as we have reported at The BRAD BLOG for years, has a long and troubling history of protecting private voting system vendors rather than the voters they are supposed to be watching out for.

When the EAC learned about it, Cohn says, they were "in kind of a panic, I think, because if it had leaked out, they couldn't honestly say they knew what had been installed in those states was what it was supposed to be."

So, is any of this related to why Team Trump focused their phony, evidence-free complaints almost exclusively on Dominion, while ignoring well-documented problems with ES&S almost entirely? We discuss that and much more with Cohn on today's --- yes --- maddening BradCast, where she also notes that, despite Texas officials being as troubled as they were by all of this, "I don't think that anybody ever said, 'Why don't we use pens? They don't require hash testing.'"...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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D.C. Guard Commander's Senate testimony underscores need for probe...
By Ernest A. Canning on 3/17/2021 10:52am PT  

For more than two months, the FBI has been rounding up and charging hundreds of Trump-incited insurrectionists who, in hopes of preventing the Congressional certification of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory last November, stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6th.

But a number of key questions remain wholly unanswered following the unprecedented attack on our very system of representative democracy. Central to several of those questions is Donald Trump's own, personal, behind-the-scenes machinations to help instigate the uprising and, perhaps, prevent the deployment of the military to help quell the rebellion he encouraged.

The March 3rd Senate committee testimony of Major General William Walker, Commander of the D.C. National Guard, describing a seemingly inexplicable delay in authorization for his troops to provide relief to the U.S. Capitol under siege, underscores the need to determine whether there is a connection between Trump's post-election November 2020 purge of the top civilian leadership at the Department of Defense (DoD) and the January 6th assault.

The purge at the Pentagon began two days after media outlets called the Presidential Election for Joe Biden, when Trump fired Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. Within days, four senior DoD officials either resigned or were fired and replaced by what CNN characterized as "conspiracy theorists and Trump loyalists." Christopher Miller became the Acting Secretary of Defense. Kash Patel, who had previously worked for the disgraced Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) on the House Intelligence Committee, was appointed to serve as Miller's Chief-of-Staff.

While one Pentagon official described the November purge as "scary", "unsettling" and the moves one would expect from a "dictator", CNN noted in its contemporaneous account that "no one at the Pentagon has an understanding as to what the grand plan is."

Walker's testimony before the Senate Rules and Homeland Security Committees earlier this month, together with other publicly known evidence, points to a distinct likelihood that, once it became clear he couldn't rely upon the U.S. military to carry out a coup, Trump's "grand plan" entailed a stand-down of the D.C. National Guard while his "personal army", an incited mob of white supremacists, stormed the Capitol on January 6...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Guest: Migration Policy Institute's Sarah Pierce; Also: More 'Clean up on Aisle 45' news on the FBI, Kavanaugh and the Vindman family...
By Brad Friedman on 3/16/2021 6:28pm PT  

We've got quite a bit of 'Clean up on Aisle 45' news on today's BradCast, particularly at the U.S. southern border. [Audio link to today's full show is posted below this summary.]

But first, a few noteworthy 'Clean up" news items. Rhode Island's Democratic Sen. Sheldon has written a letter to Joe Biden's newly confirmed Attorney General Merrick Garland, requesting an investigation into what he describes as the "fake" investigation the FBI apparently made into sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh before his confirmation to a lifetime appointment as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. That confirmation, by the way, happened only thanks to Senate Republicans willingness to do away with the filibuster on Supreme Court Justices. Of course, it wasn't only sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh that deserved a real probe by the FBI. There is still the matter of what happened to the $60,000 to $200,000 worth of credit card debt that Kavanaugh carried the year before his nomination, which magically disappeared by the time he was tapped by Trump to help pack the stolen Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Also today, Army Lt. Col Yevgeny Vindman --- twin brother of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who testified against Donald Trump during his first impeachment --- will now be promoted to Colonel under the Biden Administration. That, despite a revenge campaign leveled against the Vindman family by the former disgraced President, which resulted in some negative job reviews for Yevgeny during his time as deputy legal advisor on Trump's National Security Council. Shortly after the impeachment, Trump fired both men from their NSC posts and Yevgeny filed a whistleblower complaint over the retaliation with the Pentagon's Inspector General. The IG's report has not yet been released.

Then, for the biggest 'Clean up on Aisle 45 ' news of the day, we move down to the U.S. Southern Border, where Republicans have been taking a cue from the former disgraced President to claim a massive "Biden border crisis!" is current under way, not two months into the new President's tenure. Sadly, corporate media have taken that cue as well. As they do.

House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) traveled to the border this week and, among other apparent lies, claimed that terrorists from Yemen, Iran and Turkey were "rushing" the border "all at once." While that is almost certainly untrue, there has been an increase over the past two months in unaccompanied children, seeking asylum at the border, after making the arduous journey from beleaguered Central American "Northern Triangle" countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Thanks to the influx of unaccompanied kids, a hollowed out asylum system left behind by the previous administration, along with pandemic social distancing requirements, Custom and Border Patrol (CBP) facilities meant to house children before they are handed over to the Dept. of Health and Human Services to find sponsored shelters are running out of space. The influx is also leading to many being held in the CBP facilities beyond the 72-hour legal limit, even as the Biden Administration has, for the time being, left many of Trump's policies in place, expelling families and single adults fleeing from gang violence, climate change and poverty in their troubled nations.

So, what is actually going on at the border right now? Is it really a crisis? And how much is the Biden Administration, not even two full months on the job, to blame? We're joined today by SARAH PIERCE, immigration attorney and Policy Analyst for the U.S. Immigration Policy Program at the Migration Policy Institute to help us separate fact from breathless, GOP/media-inflated fiction.

"I think there is a significant challenge at the southern border," she explains. "I don't think we can call it a crisis yet. But we could certainly be moving in the direction of a crisis.  We had a really fast acceleration in the number of unaccompanied child migrants arriving at the southern border between January and February. But we still haven't reached record numbers of children arriving at the southern border. We saw records during 2019 and 2014 that we haven't yet broken."

"But our facilities are limited because of the pandemic," she continues, "and so that is making what would already be a challenge even more difficult as the administration scrambles to bring beds back online, and move children out of Border Patrol custody as quickly as they possibly can."

Pierce explains how bad the situation currently is; whether she believes the Biden Administration is taking the appropriate measures to handle it; whether GOP claims about terrorists rushing the border or becoming "super-spreader caravans" are in any way true; and whether the situation can be handled at all without Congressional action (which seems a long shot while the filibuster remains in place, with Republicans seeking distraction from their failure to vote for the COVID relief bill and relying on alarmist rhetoric about the border to try and hold on to their base).

The Biden Administration "inherited a really, really big challenge and a system that was just gutted by the prior administration. So, whether or not they'll be able to do this all, while also dealing with what could very well be a crisis in the near future at the southern border, is a really big question."

She also offers, among other direct answers, a response to my question about the oft-repeated spurious claim that Trump's infamous family separation policy that resulted in those horrific "kids in cages" photographs was was actually begun by the Obama Administration. The answer will probably not shock you.

Next, it's our latest Green News Report with Desi Doyen (and, yes, more 'Clean up on Aisle 45' news there as well). And, finally, I close with a plea for Congress to do the right thing, once and for all, when it comes to...daylight saving time...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 3/16/2021 10:51am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: U.S. Senate confirms historic nomination of Rep. Deb Haaland as Interior Secretary; Jackson, MS still without clean drinking water one month after winter storm; US dams and levees get D grades from American engineers; Democrats turn to crafting massive infrastructure bill, with focus on climate resilience; PLUS: February 2021 was the 16th warmest February globally... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

GNR's now celebrating 12 YEARS of independent green news, politics, analysis, snarky comment and connecting climate change dots over your public airwaves!
PLEASE CLICK HERE TO HELP US CELEBRATE WITH A DONATION!

Click here to listen or download MP3 (6 mins)...

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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): New E.P.A. Head Says Agency Has Climate Regulations Underway; Congress Launches Probe Into Multibillion-Dollar 'Clean Coal' Tax Credit; Cold War Ice Core Reveals Greenland Was Recently Ice-Free; Countries Tried to Curb Trade in Plastic Waste. The US Is Shipping More; Western States Chart Diverging Paths As Water Shortages Loom; Tiny Town, Big Decision: What Are We Willing to Pay to Fight Rising Sea?; Auto industry urges emissions deal weaker than Obama’s; 8-month PFAS disclosure gap draws backlash for MI officials... PLUS: Capitol mob may have trashed 3 Trump pollution rules... and much, MUCH more! ...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Guest: 30-year veteran Leon County, FL elections chief Ion Sancho; Also: Callers ring in on that and Biden's progressive American Rescue Plan...
By Brad Friedman on 3/15/2021 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The Republican assault on voting rights is not only happening in states where the GOP lost, for the first time in many years, at the Presidential level in 2020, like Georgia. It's also happening in states that Donald Trump won in 2020, but by a smaller margin than in 2016, like Texas. And, yes, it's also happening in the few states where Trump won in 2020 and actually increased his winning margin over 2016, like Florida. But in Florida, state elections officials, including Republicans, are furious about it. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

While GOP state lawmakers are, right now, pushing hundreds of vote suppression bills in more than 40 states, based on Trump's Big Lie that he won the 2020 election (he didn't), a very small handful of Republicans are pushing back. In Georgia, on Sunday, the state's Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan appeared to decry at least some of the GOP efforts to curb voting rights in the Peach State. Last week, he walked out of the state Senate while presiding over a debate over passage of a new GOP bill that would disallow no-excuse absentee voting and implement many other restrictions. Over the weekend on NBC's 'Meet the Press', Duncan argued "Republicans don’t need election reforms to win, we need leadership."

Meanwhile, in Florida, where even Trump didn't forward phony claims about absentee fraud --- where he actually lauded their absentee vote system (in no small part because he voted illegally by absentee there) --- GOPers are, nonetheless, instituting new restrictions that would ban drop-boxes and remove the state's system that allows voters to sign up to be on the mail-in voting list for four years at a time. That, and other new restrictions on voting rights in the Sunshine State, are all included in an omnibus bill introduced by state Sen. Dennis Baxley called SB90. But, at least in Florida, state elections officials --- Democratic and Republican alike --- are pushing back.

Why, after the 2020 election, when even Republicans in the state like Gov. Ron DeSantis declared it to be one of the best and most secure elections in state history are GOPers now moving to restrict the franchise?

We're joined for some answers today by 30-year veteran Leon County (Tallahassee), FL Supervisor of Elections, ION SANCHO. The longtime, legendary champion of voting rights finally retired in 2016, after becoming so well respected by his fellow county elections officials, from all parties, that he was tapped to oversee the contentious and eventually aborted 2000 statewide recount between George W. Bush and Al Gore.

But now, the longtime Election Integrity champion says, he is furious at what Republicans are doing, and says that it's all about DeSantis' 2022 re-election hopes. "What's being overlooked by the national press," Sancho tells us today, "is that this issue, while framed nationally by the disgraced ex-President, is really being pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, who in 2018 won by a scant 30,000 votes out of 8 million cast. He's scared to death because the Democrats right now have an over-half-a-million vote margin for individuals signed up to get that vote-by-mail ballot."

All of that plays into Republican fears of mail-in ballot drop-boxes, even though, as Sancho notes, they are far more secure than the U.S. mail, particularly after Republicans in the state's General Assembly previously adopted rules to ensure secure, manned drop-boxes in every county.

"Of the millions of Democratic voters that voted by mail, 1.5 million of them dropped them off in those vote-by-mail ballot drop-boxes before Trump laid out his plot to try to steal the election by damning vote-by-mail ballots," Sancho explains. "The Republican legislature, whose Republican base had always outvoted the Democrats from 2000 to 2020, required by law that each vote-by-mail ballot establishment have a drop -box."

"Then the bottom dropped out. COVID hit and the Democratic Party in the State of Florida said we don't want to subject our voters to go door to door, so they embarked on a phone program to enroll people in vote-by-mail . That was overwhelmingly successful, and vote-by-mail dramatically increased on the Democratic Party side to the point now that today, if Gov. DeSantis doesn't get rid of that list [of voters signed up for long-term absentee voting], he's facing a half a million vote margin to begin with. That's what's driving this particular bill this year." The new bill would wipe out the existing list and mandate that all voters re-sign up for it now, and then every two years thereafter.

"This is deja vu all over again," rails Sancho who charges "this slander" that "has caused people to doubt the veracity of elections" has made him "very angry." He draws a bead on Republican state Senator Baxley, the sponsor of SB90, charging this is not his "first drive-by shooting on carrying the Republican voter suppression. In 2010 he was author of [a bill] which dramatically curtailed early voting, because Obama carried early voting here in Florida [in 2008] by such a large margin that an actual majority of all African-Americans in this state voted at an early voting location. This is a tried-and-true playbook with the same characters involved."

As usual, there is much more in our conversation, including Sancho's take on the evidence-free, post-2020 GOP attacks on the Dominion Voting Systems company. Sancho has been a longtime thorn in the side of private elections vendors and their computerized voting and tabulation systems. He played a starring role in HBO's Emmy-nominated 2006 documentary Hacking Democracy, when he oversaw what became the first known hack of a Diebold optical-scan tabulator, as depicted live, as it happened, in the film's climactic finale.

"It's been rigged here," he tells me flatly. "Again, I've been watching these 'How can we curtail this? How can we do that?', and it's been going on since 2000."

Finally, we open the phones up for a few minutes for listener feedback on all of the above (including one fun Trump-supporting caller who is hopping mad about the conversation with Sancho!), and on my contention last week that Joe Biden and the Democrats' massive, progressive $1.9 trillion COVID relief and stimulus bill, the American Rescue Plan, could finally signal the long-overdue end of the four-decade old Ronald Reagan Era in this country...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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By PDiddie on 3/14/2021 5:28am PT  

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton on the new President's unexpected progressivism, 'the death knell of Republican ideology,' and 'a very consequential battle over the future of American politics'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/12/2021 6:34pm PT  

On Thursday night, on the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring the coronavirus to be a pandemic, on Joe Biden's 50th day in office, on the day he signed what we have argued on The BradCast may go down as the most progressive, equitable relief, stimulus and investment package perhaps in U.S. history, the new President delivered his first prime time address to the American people. [Audio link to full show follows summary.]

In addition to spending a (surprisingly) few minutes touting the many benefits to all Americans in his $1.9 trillion "American Rescue Plan" (ARP), Biden offered a cautiously optimistic vow that there will be enough vaccine for all Americans to sign up for a shot by May 1. Moreover, he continued, by July 4th the nation which has seen nearly 550,000 deaths over the past year, may even be able to hold small family and neighborhood gatherings to celebrate Independence Day.

"After this long hard year," said Biden, following his trademark empathy for all this nation has gone through over the past year, before offering caveats about the need to continue mask wearing for now and get vaccine shots as soon as possible, "that will make this Independence Day something truly special, where we not only mark our independence as a nation but we begin to mark our independence from this virus."

I argued on yesterday's program that Biden's ARP --- passed by Democrats in Congress with the help of ZERO Republicans --- may eventually come to be seen in history as the long-overdue end to the four-decade old Reagan Era. Today, I share some responses to my argument, including from folks who both agree and disagree.

Then we're joined to discuss all of the above by the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo. It's our first conversation with her in years that isn't dominated by...that previous guy who lived in the White House. In fact, today's conversation is almost entirely about Biden and the Democrats (and, for good measure, some of the folks in rightwing media who appear to have no clue how to respond to all of this.) Both Parton and I --- neither of whom supported Biden during the primary or saw him as the best candidate for the moment to take on...that other guy --- find ourselves in the uncomfortable position, at least for now, of being impressed by the achievements, to date, of both Biden and the Democrats.

And while I was citing Reagan in my argument this week, Digby actually went so far in her coverage today at Salon to raise the specter of Franklin Roosevelt, arguing that Biden "could end up being the most transformative president since FDR."

So, what the hell is actually going on here?! Tune in and find out! "We really live in interesting times," quips Parton. "Maybe too interesting, to be honest."

"I knew he'd be good for healing the country, which is highly important," she tells me. "You can't possibly denigrate the idea that we needed somebody who could speak to the horrifying loss and pain that the country has gone through. We knew he'd be good at that. But this other side --- this putting in a policy agenda that would take us into this more progressive direction? I didn't expect it. I'm happily surprised by it and hopeful he's going to go forward."

Finally, after that very lively discussion, we close today with a pretty hilarious (and on point, given today's conversation) segment from The Daily Show's "Remotely Educational" special this week, called "How Business Works". Enjoy!...

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Working class, poor waited decades for Dems' progressive, equitable, paradigm-shifting $1.9T COVID rescue, relief and stimulus package
Also: Rememberinig 1 year since the world locked down, 10 years since Japan's triple disaster; And Trump is in big trouble in GA...
By Brad Friedman on 3/11/2021 6:34pm PT  

If nothing else, the thing to remember from today's BradCast is that not one single Republican in either the House or Senate voted for Joe Biden and the Democrats' remarkably robust, progressive and equitably written American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion COVID rescue and relief package that history may someday regard as the long-overdue end of the four-decade old Reagan Era.

The President signed the sweeping bill on Thursday, which our friend David Dayen at The American Prospect described today as "maybe the largest pure economic uplift bill in U.S. history." GOPers may come to rue the day they didn't vote for it. Especially in 2022 when some of the key provisions --- like lowered health care premiums and monthly checks amounting to up to $3,600 per child, per year --- will expire unless those provisions are made permanent.

We discuss today a number of the less reported pieces built into the ARP, most of which --- unlike previous stimulus and rescue plans over the past several decades --- are crafted to benefit the poor and working class, and actually help lift many of them out of poverty. That is, by contrast, with the Trump/Republican 2017 tax cuts which also cost about $2 trillion, but overwhelmingly benefited corporations and the already wealthy.

All Republicans in both house of Congress voted against a nearly $2 trillion measure meant to largely help the middle class and the poor. Yet all Republicans in both houses of Congress voted in favor of the nearly $2 trillion measure to help the rich and corporations, which were already enjoying record profits at the time. Got it? Please keep that in mind --- and share it with your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers, in case they are lied to about all of this --- when 2022 rolls around.

This bill marks a fundamental progressive change in the way our federal government has been doing business for the past four decades since the so-called Reagan Revolution. And it comes not a moment too soon, as we discuss today.

Today also marks the one year anniversary since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus to be an official pandemic, when I stated on the program (to the surprise of, at least, Desi Doyen) that America was "shutting down". We share a clip of that somewhat breathtaking historical moment today.

More than 2.5 million have since died around the world, but the U.S., under Donald Trump's horrifically failed leadership, saw more deaths than any other country, with more than half a million lost here and still counting. That, even as we represent only about 5 percent of the world's population.

It is also the 10th anniversary of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster that struck Japan in 2011. We remember that still-ongoing disaster as well today, and the nearly 16,000 lives that were lost that fateful day.

In somewhat brighter news...As Republican state lawmakers around the country are moving hundreds of bills in more than 40 states to try and disenfranchise voters in a way not seen since the end of Reconstruction, according to a new analysis by Washington Post, it may be Donald Trump's attempted election fraud that could be the biggest news in coming weeks. It appears he may be in even more trouble than it previously appeared in the state of in Georgia!

A new recording of his phone call to the top Georgia state election investigator, made during a post-election audit in Cobb County prior to Christmas last year, was released Wednesday night by the Wall Street Journal. We share the full, gob-smacking conversation, in which our then President is heard buttering up the investigator and telling her, among other things, that "when the right answer comes out, you'll be praised."

The newly released 6-minute recording with the Georgia Secretary of State's chief investigator Frances Watson, can't really be heard in any other way than Trump hoping to encourage her into finding "fraud" where none existed. The recording is now undoubtedly part of the growing body of evidence being examined by Fulton County, Georgia's District Attorney, Fani Willis. The Democratic prosecutor is investigating "the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local governmental bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election's administration" after the 2020 Presidential election in the Peach State.

Willis has reportedly hired a racketeering and conspiracy expert for her grand jury probe, which could ultimately rope in Trump, his former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, his attorney Rudy Giuliani and even Sen. Lindsey Graham, who are all known to have tried to encourage state officials to change the results of Georgia's 2020 Presidential election after Trump lost. That alone is a state felony punishable by a year in jail. With added charges for racketeering and conspiracy, those convicted under those state felony statutes could face 20 years in jail!

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more on the 10-year anniversary of the still-ongoing disaster at the Fukushima Daichii nuclear plant and several much brighter and more hopeful pieces of news...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 3/11/2021 11:12am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: U.S. Senate confirms historic nomination of Michael Regan to head EPA; Biden's COVID relief bill is also sort of a climate bill; First major U.S. offshore wind farm clears key hurdle; PLUS: Ten years since triple disasters devastated Japan... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Geothermal Could be a Sleeper; European Parliament backs carbon border tax; DOE will spend billions on electric vehicle R&D in jobs fight with China; One bright side of 2020: A surge in battery storage; U.S. lawmakers propose giving USPS $6 billion for electric delivery vehicles... PLUS: Direct Air Capture of CO2 Is Suddenly a Carbon Offset Option... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guest: Labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein of UC-Santa Barbara; Also: Biden's hugely progressive $1.9T 'American Rescue Plan' receives final Congressional approval; And Randy Rainbow needs a vaccine...
By Brad Friedman on 3/10/2021 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Joe Biden has been winning quite a bit lately. Today was no exception. So, can he turn that winning streak into a win for labor unions and keep his campaign promise to be "the most pro-union President you've ever seen"?  As of now, he's on track for that as well, according to historians and labor leaders --- even if that's admittedly not a very high bar. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

On Wednesday, Biden saw three more of his cabinet picks nominated on a bipartisan basis in the U.S. Senate.  Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio will become the first African American woman to lead the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development in 40 years, after vowing to address systemic racial inequities at the federal agency. Michael Regan was confirmed as the first black man to head up the Environmental Protection Agency. And Merrick Garland received his long awaited confirmation as our new Attorney General, as the widely-respected, veteran federal judge takes on the tall task of fulfilling Biden's promise to restore independence to the Dept. of Justice.

None of those, however, were Biden's biggest wins of the day, as the U.S. House gave final approval for his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. The massive COVID relief and stimulus package now heads to the White House for his signature on what some describe as one of the most progressive bills to ever come out of Congress. $1,400 checks to individuals and a $300/week extension of unemployment benefits is just a small part of the bill, which also includes annual payments of up to $3,600 per child, in a provision which policy experts say will cut child poverty in half and adult poverty by a quarter. It will reduce the overall poverty rate in 2021 by more than a third, lower the rate for Black people by as much as 42%, 39% for Hispanics and 34% for white people. In addition, the measure will send $130 billion to reopen schools safely, $34 billion will expand Obamacare subsidies to many more people, $25 billion for emergency rental assistance, and $14 billion will help to speed vaccine distribution, among many other such initiatives. That, on a day that Biden also announced he was securing another 100 million vaccine doses from Johnson & Johnson.

No wonder Republicans have no clue how to oppose the plan (other than with obviously ridiculous and silly lies), after the package received zero votes from GOPers in either the House or Senate. Democrats own this one, and they should do so loudly and proudly. The additional good news here for now is that even Chuck Schumer finally seems to "get it". There is no upside to negotiating with Republicans if they are going to be doing so in bad faith, as they did on the stimulus bill under Obama in response to the Great Recession.

But the central focus of our show today is on a couple of moves by the President that labor leaders, experts, and academics are citing to describe Biden as, so far, the most pro-worker, pro-labor, pro-union President in decades, and maybe ever.

Last week, he surprised a lot of folks on the left by tweeting a direct, unambiguous video message of support for workers who are now voting on whether to unionize at an Amazon warehouse outside of Birmingham, Alabama. It would be the first such facility to do so in the nation. Biden's two and a half message lauded unions for creating the middle class and spoke to American workers' rights under the law to organize for collective bargaining without corporate interference.

And this week, he issued a direct, unambiguous statement of support for the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act before its passage in the House on Tuesday. Labor leaders describe the initiative as the most progressive, pro-union bill in 80 years. Of course, now all it has to do is overcome a filibuster in the Senate.

We're joined today by longtime labor historian and author NELSON LICHTENSTEIN, Distinguished Professor at UC-Santa Barbara, where he directs the Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy. Lichtenstein explains both the importance of the PRO Act and the ongoing vote to unionize Amazon down in Alabama. He also addresses the question as to whether Biden could become the most pro-union President in modern times, or even in history.

"The bar is very low," Lichtenstein concedes, in comparing Biden to recent Presidents who may have supported unions with words --- though none as directly as we've seen from Biden to date --- but not necessarily with their actions. "Biden is saying all the right things, but this will all fade unless there actually is legislation that is passed in some form" that turns "the reality on the ground" into a "revival of trade unionism."

"It's one thing to say terrific things --- and I'm not being cynical, all power to him  --  but history will judge him by whether or not there is in fact an increase in real wages, an increase in union membership, an increase in the power of organized labor."

The colorful professor has much more to say that I can possibly do justice to here, so please tune in. But, after we discuss how it just so happens that the most prosperous period in history for the American middle class also coincides with the era when trade unionism and collective bargaining were at their zenith, I ask if there is any actual historical economic data in support of the notion that unions are somehow either bad for business or workers, as folks on the right would have you believe, and as all too many in this country have fallen for after decades of corporate, anti-union propaganda.

"No," Lichtenstein answers emphatically. "There is no support for that. It is good both economically, in an immediate sense, and even more important, politically, because it helps sustain a social democratic ethos and policy block in the country." He goes on to add: "One of the reasons for the deterioration in America of everything --- from race relations to stagnating living standards --- is because of the weakness of unions in the last forty, fifty years."

As noted, do yourself a favor and tune in for our conversation. I learned a lot and suspect you may as well. And, as a gift, we close today with arguably the ONLY good thing to come out of the Trump years: national treasure Randy Rainbow returns with another new tune that may keep you humming all night...

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Guest: Public Citizen's Matt Kent on the Congressional Review Act's closing window; Also: IA, GA Repubs pass vote suppression bills; Palm Beach resident Trump votes by absentee...again...
By Brad Friedman on 3/9/2021 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Democrats could roll back dozens of toxic and/or corrupt Trump-era regulations, many of which had, themselves, rolled back previous regulations. And they can do it with a simple, filibuster-proof majority vote in the U.S. Senate. But they must act quickly. So, what's the hold up? [Audio link to full show follows below summary.]

First up today, however, some quick elections news. Donald Trump, who decried absentee voting for everyone but himself while he lived at the White House and voted by mail unlawfully using Mar-a-Lago as his voting address, had previous claimed it was just fine that he voted by absentee, since he was legitimately not in Palm Beach, Florida to cast his vote.  Well, Palm Beach is holding municipal elections today, and guest which current resident of the town has requested an absentee ballot to vote?

Meanwhile, the post-2020 GOP attempt to roll back access to the ballot is gaining speed in state legislatures across the country. The Brennan Center for Justice cites more than 200 such measures proposed in more than 40 states as of mid-February.  One of them, a bill in Iowa that shortens Early Voting days and polling place hours, among other restrictions, was signed into law by the state's Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds on Monday.  On Tuesday, civil rights groups filed suit.

Down in Georgia, a massive number of restrictions on voting --- most notably, mail-in voting --- are being quickly passed by both chambers of the state General Assembly.  As in Iowa, it's all being done with party line votes, with furious Democrats voting in opposition. On Monday, the GA state Senate passed a bill that, among other things, ends no-excuse absentee voting for most voters, even as 1.3 million took advantage of the convenient (and, during a pandemic, safer) way to vote in last year's Presidential election. But after Democrats won that election in November and both U.S. Senate runoffs in January, Republicans are now hoping to reverse the no-excuse mail-in voting law they themselves passed with their GOP-majority back in 2005. Shamefully, that is not the only new restriction that Republican state lawmakers are trying to enact in the Peach State, with many of the new restrictions aimed at suppressing minority voters.  And, as in Iowa, despite a lack of evidence of any voter fraud in their elections, Republicans are pretending that these new suppression tactics are necessary to prevent voter fraud.

Many provisions of the restrictive bills being pushed through state legislatures would be blocked by the Democrats' major voting rights bill, H.R.1, the "For the People Act" at the federal level.  The bill has already been passed in the U.S. House (with zero GOP votes), but unless the Senate filibuster rules are reformed --- or Joe Manchin comes to his senses (or both) --- the bill will almost certainly fail to overcome Republican opposition in the upper chamber.

At the same time, however, while Democrats are forced to look forward to protect upcoming elections, there are scores of corrupt, dangerous, Trump-era federal regulations that can now be rolled back with a simple majority vote in both chambers of Congress. No need to get 60 votes in the Senate! But Democrats have to act fast to overturn these Trump rules before the clock runs out on the 60 legislative days since the new Congress began which allow for rolling back a previous Administration's regulatory rules under the Clinton-era Congressional Review Act (CRA).

There is an enormous number of measures that Democrats could reverse immediately, enacted at the last minute by the Trump Administration at dozens of federal agencies such as the EPA, Dept. of Interior, Dept. of Energy, USDA, NOAA, Dept. of Justice, Dept. of Transportation, Dept. of Labor, HUD, HHS, the Veterans Administration, DHS and others. But, as Public Citizen has been reporting, the window to repeal parts of "Trump's deregulatory legacy" is quickly closing before an April 4th deadline to introduce simple resolutions for each specific regulatory action they wish to roll back.

We're joined today by MATT KENT, Regulatory Policy Associate at Public Citizen who, with Amit Narang, has been furiously attempting to sound the alarm about all of this (and about the regulations that the Trump Administration screwed up when issuing them, making it even easier for Biden to reverse on his own.)

"Anything completed within 60 legislative days of the end of the preceding Congress --- so, for our purposes, anything the Trump Administration finalized after August 21, 2020 --- anything after that is available to be undone by this Congress," Kent explains. "There's a real opportunity here for the Biden Administration and the Democratic Congress to more or less supercharge their efforts to use the CRA, to really expand the scope of regulations that are available to be removed --- deregulatory action is a better way to put it."

"This is a filibuster buster," he tells me. "This is something you can use to really get around a huge roadblock in the Senate. That's the way it was designed by the Republicans who created the law."

While the non-partisan government watchdog Public Citizen has long opposed the CRA, Kent argues turnabout is fair play. While the law was little used until Trump came to office, Republicans too advantage of it to overturn more than a dozen Obama-era rules. Kent advises it should be used here again, and then "pull up the ladder" to abolish it.

"The sands are moving through the hourglass here," he says, referencing the upcoming CRA deadline before offering some bewildering news: "So far, there have not been any Congressional  Review Act resolutions introduced at all. I am a little surprised that no Democrat has introduced a disapproval resolution."

He predicts "we'll probably see some in the next few weeks, but the pace has definitely been slow." What could possibly explain the hold up? We discuss.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with some more news about rollbacks to Trump-era rollbacks, specifically, in this case, at the Dept. of Interior. That good news, as usual in the GNR, is balanced by some decidedly less good news --- on another bankrupt coal company hoping to pass its toxic mess on to the tax-payers, and a sleazy (and so far, successful) effort by the natural gas industry to block any and all changes to city building codes, meant to combat climate change, around the nation...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 3/9/2021 11:25am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Global oil prices are rising again, and so is the price at the pump; Interior Department moving swiftly to roll back Trump-era rollbacks; Bankrupt coal company seeks to shed responsibility for mine clean-up; PLUS: Cities thwarted in effort to change building codes to combat climate change... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Big Oil May Want Carbon Tax, But Biden and GOPers Not So Much; Tesla's secret big battery revealed in Texas;
First major U.S. offshore wind project moves closer to reality under Biden; Big Banks Make a Dangerous Bet on the World’s Growing Demand for Food; White House’s Reworked Climate Metric Draws Lawsuit from [GOP-controlled] States; Caribbean Refinery To Test Biden's Promises On Poverty And Pollution... PLUS: For Planet Earth, No Tourism is a Curse and a Blessing... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guest: Sarah Repucci of Freedom House; Also: Senate passes Biden's very progressive $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill; SCOTUS rejects last of Trump's 2020 election challenges...
By Brad Friedman on 3/8/2021 6:44pm PT  

It's not only in the U.S. where democracy is now under attack. Unfortunately, as discussed with our guest on today's BradCast, when freedom and democracy begin to collapse here, it gets even worse everywhere else. [Audio link to show follows below this summary.]

But, first up today, a quick word or two on Harry and Meghan (because in case you thought a parliamentary monarchy was a better idea than our representative democracy....well, that's not working out so well either these days.)

Very good news out of Congress, however, where the U.S. Senate finally passed Joe Biden's massive $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan over the weekend. Sadly, it was adopted 50-49 without a single Republican vote. The wildly popular measure provides critical relief across a whole bunch of sectors, with, as the New York Times describes, it "the principle Democrats and liberal economists have espoused over the past decade: that the best way to stoke faster economic growth is from the bottom up."  We go through many of the details of this major relief and stimulus plan that both Democrats and progressives should be damned proud of. Hopefully they remember to sing its praises between now and November of 2022, at the very least.  While the bill was changed marginally in the Senate after House passage (in some ways, it was even made more progressive!), it remained pretty much the same bold plan as initially proposed. It is, as many have described it, the most progressive relief bill ever passed by both Houses of Congress.

Democrats, by and large, seem to have figured out that it's ridiculous to negotiate with themselves in order to win the fool's errand of receiving Republican votes, when they ain't coming on board for anything Democrats in power favor, no matter how popular the measure is with their own Republican constituents (very!) or how many of them it will actually help in myriad ways. The measure must be approved one more time in the House before it heads to the President's desk likely this week, followed by his signatures and then individual checks of $1,400 to most Americans, $3,600 for most children, new expansions to Obamacare to allow those with higher incomes to receive subsidies for health insurance premiums and much much more to get American and its economy and schools back open faster and safer.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Donald Trump lost Wisconsin yet again, as the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his appeal of a lower court ruling upholding the bipartisan Wisconsin Election Commission's handling of mail-in ballots in the 2020 election. And, with that, SCOTUS has now officially rejected every challenge to the 2020 election results brought by Trump and his MAGA Mob to the Republicans' stolen and packed high court.  Sadly, GOP state legislatures are now in the process of attempting to impose severe new restrictions on voting in multiple states, including by rolling back measures, for example, for no-excuse absentee voting in Georgia, that they themselves had previously enacted.

So the fight for democracy and voting rights continues. Sunday marked the 56th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march in Selma, Alabama, when civil rights icon, the late Rep. John Lewis and hundreds of others were beaten to a pulp by state troopers during a protest walk for voting voting rights across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. That violence at that 1965 march, witnessed live on television, resulted in President Johnson signing the landmark Voting Rights Act that year. In commemoration over the weekend, President Biden issued an executive order "to promote voting access to all all eligible Americans to participate in our democracy." The order, as the White House describes it, "will leverage the resources of the federal government to increase access to voter registration services and information about voting."

The effort comes not a moment too soon, unfortunately, as underscored by a new report out last week from Freedom House titled Freedom in the World 2021: Democracy under Siege. It finds, among other troubling things: "As a lethal pandemic, economic and physical insecurity, and violent conflict ravaged the world, democracy’s defenders sustained heavy new losses in their struggle against authoritarian foes, shifting the international balance in favor of tyranny."

Three-quarters of people in the world now live in countries where freedom and democracy are on the decline, according to the group's latest annual report. As Washington Post's coverage notes, "This year’s survey, published Wednesday, marked the 15th consecutive year of global democratic backsliding --- 'a long democratic recession,' in the organization’s words, that is 'deepening.'' Moreover, the United States dropped three rankings in this year's survey which, its co-author explains on today's show, has been carried out by the 80-year old, non-partisan, non-profit group every year since 1972.

We're joined today by Freedom House Vice President of Research and Analysis SARAH REPUCCI, who notes that while the report cites the "unprecedented attacks on one of the world’s most visible and influential democracies," with the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol in January, and that his "actions went unchecked by most lawmakers from his own party, with a stunning silence that undermined basic democratic tenets," the 1/6 insurrection attempt wasn't even considered as part of this year's rankings of 195 countries, since it occurred in 2021.

Moreover, Freedom House found the largest "democracy gap" (the number of countries that improved minus the number of countries that declined) in the report's history last year, which marked 15 years of decline by the group's measure.

Repucci explains the report's methodology, which areas of the world are now seen as most at risk, and how the decline in freedoms and democracy in the U.S. over the past 15 years --- particularly over the past decade --- have helped to encourage the grim turn for democratic movements across the globe in recent years. She also offers some key recommendations for how to turn things around in this country, including reform in a number of areas --- such as ending partisan gerrymandering and instituting campaign finance reform. Both of those items are central tenets of the critical H.R.1, or "For the People Act", an omnibus and long-overdue elections and ethics reform package that has now been adopted by the U.S. House but faces a Republican filibuster in the U.S. Senate at this time.

"What many of us have been witnessing here in the United States is part of this larger global trend," Repucci tells me. "We've been tracking 15 years of decline globally, and the US has been declining the last ten years. So this is not totally not new in the US, and it's definitely not new globally.  What we are seeing are declines across the board in very repressive settings and also in democracies and everything in between." She warns: "The main takeaway is that no country is safe from this. It's affecting all types and all regions. It's something that we need to take really seriously."

Finally today, the CDC has issued its first guidelines for those who are now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. The guidance, which we discuss, allows for, among other things, those who have been fully vaccinated to hang out indoors, in private settings, without masks or social distancing with others who have been fully vaccinated as well. So, there's just one more good reason to get a shot as soon as you can figure out how to get one (or two, as the case may be). So far, just under 10% of Americans have been fully vaccinated...

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By PDiddie on 3/7/2021 5:46am PT  

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Guest: Chuck Collins of Institute for Policy Studies' Inequality.org; Also: 2021 flu season proves masks work; Swalwell latest to sue Trump...
By Brad Friedman on 3/5/2021 7:00pm PT  

Prepare to be outraged by some gobsmacking and maddening numbers from today's guest on The BradCast. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

But first, speaking of startling numbers, statistics from this year's flu season prove that masks and social distancing do indeed help to prevent viral transmission and death. That, of course, is bad news for residents of Texas and Mississippi, where their idiot Governors this week lifted statewide mask mandates and all restrictions on businesses, even as COVID infection rates are on the rise in both states. Both are among the top 10 worst states in the nation in that regard in recent weeks. Mississippi leads the nation, with Texas not far behind. And that was before they ended statewide mandates this week in contradiction of strong advice from health experts.

In Washington, Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA), one of the House Impeachment Managers during Donald Trump's second Impeachment Trial, filed suit against the disgraced former President, his son Don Jr., Rudy Giuliani and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) for their roles in inciting the January 6th U.S. Capitol insurrection. Swalwell's civil complaint follows on a similar one filed last month by Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson and the NAACP.

At the same time today, the U.S. Senate continued debate over the American Rescue Plan, President Biden's $1. 9 trillion emergency COVID relief and stimulus package after Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin forced an all-night reading of the 628-page measure that was passed by the House late last week. In addition to funds to speed distribution of vaccines, the bill includes $1,400 payments to Americans making less than $75,000, an extension of federal unemployment benefits, hundreds of millions to reopen schools safely, and to supplement lost revenue to hard-hit, cash-strapped states and cities.

As tens of millions of Americans have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and are both struggling to keep a roof over their heads and put food on the table, the relief can't come soon enough, despite zero votes of support from Republicans in either the House or Senate, so far, for the otherwise wildly popular bill. Johnson described it as a "boondoggle" full of unnecessary spending that would blow out the national deficit, even as it will cost the same amount of money that he and all the other Republicans voted in favor of when they passed Donald Trump's 2017 tax cuts for mostly wealthy Americans and corporations.

But while Senators --- even on the Democratic side --- squabble over whether unemployment payments should be $400 a week and last through August, or $300 a week and last until September, America's 664 billionaires could cover almost the entire cost of the measure from only the money they've made during the last 11 months of the pandemic.

We spoke last Summer with CHUCK COLLINS, Director of the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies, where he co-edits Inequality.org, about his "Billionaire Bonanza 2020" report. Today, he joins us again with a maddening update to that report, finding that, as more than half a million Americans died, 73 million lost work, nearly 100,000 business permanently closed, 29 million adults reported their household did not have enough food over the past week and 11 million children didn't eat enough because their household couldn't afford to fully feed them, the 664 billionaires in the U.S. actually gained $1.3 trillion in added wealth since the beginning of the pandemic!

The profits of that handful of mostly white, male billionaires could cover more than two-thirds of the entire $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and, "At $4.2 trillion," Collins' updated report reveals, "the total wealth of America's 664 billionaires is also more than two-thirds higher than the $2.4 trillion in total wealth held by the bottom half of the population, 165 million Americans."

Those are just some of the startling numbers from his latest report, highlighting the obscene inequality in the U.S., made even worse by the nearly year-long coronavirus pandemic. Shamefully, all of the numbers are still worse for women and people of color. "The inequalities of income and wealth and the racial wealth divide were the pre-existing conditions as we went into the pandemic," he explains. Collins tell me that "the number of people who have no financial reserves --- zero, or negative financial wealth" is "14% of white households...but double that, 28% of Black households, 26% of Latino households...[and] that was before the pandemic."

"That's why 660 billionaires can have almost twice as much as the bottom half of US households --- because the bottom half doesn't have much!," he reports. So, what to do about it? Will the American Rescue Plan help? How about Sen. Elizabeth Warren's recently refiled "Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act" that would tax two cents of every dollar of wealth above $50 million, generating at least $3 trillion in revenue over ten years in the bargain.

Warren cites Collins' new study in making the case for her new wealth tax proposal. Her proposal is wildly popular among voters of all political stripes, as she pitched a similar version during her Presidential run last year. The fact that it isn't already the law, Collins argues, "is simply a reflection of the power of wealthy interests to block change in our political system. It's not that they're changing the political system --- they're able to stop and thwart and block change. And that's unfortunately what we're up against."

"That's the debate we're watching right now in the Senate," he adds, "where half the members in the Senate, they don't have a program to help America get through these hard times. They just want to block the one that would actually make a difference. Unfortunately, the Republicans have been the 'Party of No' because they don't want government to succeed in making a difference in people's lives, because that would undermine their whole program."

Yes, we've got a lot to discuss today with Collins, whose newest book out this month, The Wealth Hoarders: How Billionaires Spend Millions to Hide Trillions, details "the shadowy Wealth Defense Industry," which he explains today as well. Sen. Bernie Sanders writes that "Chuck's book reveals a blueprint for reversing this obscene inequality so we can take back our democracy and ensure that our government works for everybody --- not just the billionaire class and wealthy campaign contributors"...

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