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BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
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VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
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'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...
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I suspect you'll get much more out of listening to today's BradCast than I can possibly share in this summary. Hearing my conversation with the Congressman --- who has a very dry wit --- is also much, much funnier than reading about it. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]
But, before we get there today, voters in Tennessee were voting in their midterm primaries on Thursday. Yes, on a Thursday! In a state where the right-wingers who run it aren't all that interested in democracy, apparently. Otherwise, they would hold primaries on a normal Tuesday, and they wouldn't have upended a state law passed years ago --- when Democrats held the legislative majority there --- to move from unverifiable touchscreen voting systems to hand-marked paper ballots. A story today out of one of their counties where a touchscreen system appears to have failed for one of their voters (described misleadingly in the report as "a rare glitch") underscores this point and my continuing, expanding, years-long nightmare.
Then, we're joined by REP. HANK JOHNSON, Democrat from Georgia's 4th Congressional District and Chair of the House Judiciary's Subcommittee on the Courts, for a detailed and lively discussion about his ongoing attempts to bring accountability to what he describes as the "corrupt system" embodied by today's U.S. Supreme Court.
In April of last year, Johnson introduced the Judiciary Act of 2021, a simple, single paragraph bill [PDF], co-sponsored by a number of House colleagues and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) who declared, at the time, that when "Republicans stole the Court’s majority" they "undermined its legitimacy, and threatened the rights of millions of Americans". Over a year later, with little progress for the measure, after a full term with the Republicans' packed majority now having run roughshod over longstanding Constitutional rights and Court precedents --- on everything from the rights of voters to those of detainees, to gun safety and the environment and, of course, privacy rights and reproductive freedoms --- the bill's sponsors held another press event last month in front of the Capitol to try and bring focus to the need to, as Johnson describes it today, "re-balance the Court away from this current 6-3 rightwing extremist majority that was packed by Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump, and the Federalist Society."
This week Johnson also introduced another measure --- this one, just three pages [PDF] long --- called the Supreme Court Tenure Establishment and Retirement Modernization (TERM) Act of 2022, to introduce term limits for Justices and mandating that new appointees shall be appointed solely by each President in the first and third years of their terms.
"It would establish an 18-year term limit for Supreme Court Justices, if that legislation passes --- and it needs to pass along with the Judiciary Act to expand the Court. We don't really need Justices letting the grass grow under their feet, becoming insulated and removed from accountability from the public", Johnson charges. "You can appoint a conservative judge, but that judge's views would have to end up being subject to being replaced by another judge at the end of that judge's tenure. So, in this way, we give every President the opportunity to appoint new blood into the Supreme Court. Keep the Supreme Court from getting old, stale, and rotten, as it is now...starting with the Honorable Clarence Thomas. "
The Georgia Congressman has also introduced the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency (SCERT) Act of 2022 [PDF], recently marked-up in the Judiciary Committee to bring ethics reform to the High Court, where Justices currently are allowed to police themselves and are exempt from the judicial ethics rules and requirements which govern the rest of the federal judiciary. That, he asserts, has brought us to the "corrupt system" we have to today.
"The Supreme Court can simply decide to ignore all of the cases it chooses to ignore, and cherry-pick cases that have been inserted into the legal pipeline by activists who are intent on getting their way in the United States Supreme Court," says Johnson. "These are the same activists that have these same Supreme Court Justices traveling to exotic locations to be wined and dined, to deliver a speech to the assembled audience, who happen to be stakeholders in one position or another, that they want to insert into the Court and have the Court decide it their way."
"This is the system that we have now, with the Court being able to select a few cases in the pipeline, for that pipeline to be packed with issues that are ripe for these rightwing Justices carefully indoctrinated through their law school years with Federalist Society 'free market' thinking," the Congressman continues. "They have gotten the jobs with the law firms and with the prosecutors' offices that put them on a track to be nominated by a Republican to a judgeship. And they preside over the judgeship and then they get elevated to the United States Supreme Court, after being recommended by the same Federalist Society that indoctrinated them from law school and secured the job for them. These Justices are primed to rule in favor of the rightwing, 'free-market' capitalist interests that put them in the pipeline. It's a corrupt system that we have at this point, and Congress definitely is in position to do something about it."
Johnson has created a website called CourtReformNow.com to detail these measure and many others in order "to do something about it."
That said, many of these long-overdue reforms have had trouble gaining traction in Congress. I ask the Congressman if there is any reason, for example, that his Subcommittee couldn't call in Justice Thomas (who he describes as "ethically bankrupt") to discuss years of impropriety, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of dollars those same activist groups have given his wife Ginni. (She was also recently revealed to have been a key player in helping Donald Trump to try and steal the 2020 Presidential election.) In response, Johnson offers a fascinating --- and amusing --- insight into how the House and its leadership work. That alone is worth tuning in for. But, the central point is that Committee and Subcommittee Chairs don't necessarily have the final say on what those committees may do and who they may call in for testimony. Moreover, as Johnson collegially chafes against some of those restrictions, he also underscores the need to "educate my colleagues about the power that we have and the need for us to use the power."
At "a political moment when the future of our democracy, our freedoms, are at risk," he notes, pressure from the public "has a lot of bearing" on what Committees and the Party itself in Congress are able and allowed to do.
As mentioned, tune in for this one for a much more expansive and colorful explanation on all of this.
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with a very "sexy" close to today's show...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Back-to-back extreme storms reveal the U.S. is not ready for climate impacts; Climate change is increasing summertime humidity; Big corporations launch ad blitz to sink Democrats' landmark budget deal; PLUS: America's first-ever national EV charging network is on its way... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): The Manchin climate deal is both a big win and a deal with the Devil; Why utilities are lining up behind the climate bill; 'They are not slowing down': The rise of billion-dollar disasters; China has a new global development initiative; A hiker tried to burn a spider and sparked a wildfire in Utah; Will a Nile Canal project dry up Africa's largest wetland?; How coal mining and years of neglect left Kentucky towns at the mercy of flooding; 'Apocalyptic skies': the dust storms devastating Gulf states and Syria; Why the Texas grid causes the High Plains to turn off its wind turbines; Inside the fight over California's last nuclear power plant... PLUS: Hyperion, world's tallest tree, now off-limits to visitors... and much, MUCH more! ...
Look at the faces in that photo. Those are the faces of people grappling to understand a profound truth that they simply had no idea about prior to Tuesday night. Those faces should serve as inspiration for every Democrat and/or progressive on the ballot in every race in all 50 states between today and November 8. And as a warning for every Republican.
On today's BradCast, selective, noteworthy, curated results --- or what is known about them, unofficial, incomplete or otherwise --- from Tuesday's primary elections in six states, Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Washington and Ohio. (And several problems for voters in Pinal County, AZ.) [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
Of course, the biggest news from Tuesday, hands down, was the stunning landslide rejection of a state constitutional amendment in Kansas that would have allowed the state's Republicans to restrict and/or ban abortion rights. (That's what the folks in that photo were just learning about.) It was the first statewide vote on the matter anywhere in the nation since the newly extremist, far-right, radical, activist, corrupt, Republican U.S. Supreme Court majority overturned 50-years of Constitutionally protected rights and freedoms by striking down 1973's Roe v. Wade decision.
Even in the theoretically "conservative" state of KS, voters soundly rejected that proposed Amendment with their "NO" votes by a stunning 18 points over "YES" as of airtime. The "NO" vote did well in large and small, rural and urban, Democratic and Republican counties alike. Turnout, thanks to this measure --- in a midterm primary where Republicans assumed few would notice --- was enormous and at levels normally seen in Presidential primaries or even mid-term general elections in the recent past.
The question now is whether Democrats will finally have the confidence and courage to run on this issue, following the overturning of Roe in June, in every state in the country and for virtually every office on the ballot from Governor to Attorney General to District Attorney to County Sheriff to state Judge to state Supreme Court Justice. And, whether Democrats will be able to capitalize on Josh Marshall's "Roe and Reform" campaign that he's been pushing hard at Talking Points Memo, calling for a very specific promise to voters from Democrats on the federal level: Let us hold our House majority and give us two more seats in the Senate and we vow, come January 2023, to reform the Senate filibuster to codify the protections of Roe into federal law, guaranteeing privacy rights and reproductive freedom in all 50 states.
Nothing short of that very specific "You give us that, we'll give you this" promise will do, as Josh has smartly been explaining for weeks now. We have long argued ourselves that candidates must give voters something very clear and specific to vote for. When they do, as proven on Tuesday in Kansas --- where the stakes were crystal clear, and voters knew exactly what they would get from their one single vote --- they will respond in large numbers.
Of course, all of this also further underscores the argument I've been making for months that Democrats and progressives must ignore the "conventional wisdom" from so-called political professionals about the historical odds of impending doom this November. These are decidedly UNconventional times, proven once again in KS yesterday.
Beyond that very encouraging news on Tuesday, there was still more good news in both the Secretary of State and Attorney General races in KS; Somewhat disappointing news in the MO race to fill the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Roy Blunt; Potentially concerning news out of MI's Republican gubernatorial contest, where a well funded, Trump-backed loon will run against the state's popular Democratic Governor; And wildly troubling news out of AZ on the Republican side in the contests for the Gubernatorial and Sec. of State nominations, in what could turn out to be two of the most critical races in the nation this November.
All of that and many other races covered and explained, with context, on today's busy show.
Finally, we close with some tragic news on the death this afternoon of Indiana's 58-year old Republican Congresswoman Jackie Walorski and two of her young staffers in an automobile accident. And, some pleasant thoughts following the passing on Tuesday night of Hall of Fame broadcasting legend Vin Scully at age 94. He served as the inimitable and nationally recognized voice of Dodger baseball --- in both Brooklyn and Los Angeles --- for 67 incomparable years...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
While voters were at the polls for primary elections in six states (Arizona, Kansas, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri and Washington) on Tuesday, we take the moment to turn to foreign affairs for a hot minute on today's BradCast.
Happily, few problems were reported for voters at the polls in those six states --- at least that we could find so far today --- beyond another predictable failure of electronic poll books, this time across Mohave County, AZ, for about six hours when polls opened. More issues may reveal themselves before tomorrow, or thereafter, of course. Meanwhile, there are a whole bunch of far-right, Trump-backed, 2020 election deniers on the ballot today, with several running for critical offices such as Governor, Sec. of State and the U.S. Senate. All of which, if those candidates win on Tuesday and again this November, could cause very serious problems for democracy itself in 2024. We'll pick all of that up on tomorrow's show, with whatever noteworthy reported results may be available by then.
But today, we had the opportunity circle back to Russia's ongoing war with it's sovereign neighbor Ukraine, now entering it's sixth horrific month following Russia's invasion on February 24. If you follow most Western media, Ukraine's military is making valiant if deadly headway in pushing back at over-extended and exhausted Russian troops in the South, while Russia presses its offensive in the East.
If you follow Kremlin-controlled media, this is a
war special military operation that can never be won by Ukraine, and continues to threaten expansion into a global conflict, including the use of nuclear weapons, as Russia takes great pains to note --- on an alarmingly regular basis.
But, it's not only Russian-controlled media suggesting the war is ultimately unwinnable for Ukraine. A number of foreign policy-centered Western media outlets and think-tanks have long argued similarly in a push for peace talks and a ceasefire in the now war-torn nation of Ukraine.
There was some good news this week, in that an agreement brokered by Turkey and the U.N. between the two warring nations last month has resulted in ships carrying Ukrainian grain finally able to leave port to deliver food around the world. Russian ships will also be allowed to do so through safe corridors established amid mined waters in the Black Sea. If the agreement holds, millions of tons of grain and other agricultural products will finally be able to flow from "the breadbasket of Europe" to help ease rising global food prices and the threat of hunger and political instability in developing nations.
The first ship to leave port on Monday was "loaded with two commodities in short supply: corn and hope," as U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described it. Beyond that, there is not much to be hopeful about in the protracted conflict.
Writing at The National Interest over the weekend, veteran foreign policy experts and former U.S. National Security officials Steven Simon and Jonathon Stevenson made the case for diplomacy. They called on the U.S. to help encourage a negotiated settlement by making clear to Ukraine that "Neither side can fulfill its maximal war aims" and they must find opportunities for peace talks and, if possible, a cessation of hostilities, despite Vladimir Putin's apparent disinclination to negotiate.
"It is well and good for the United States and its NATO allies to keep arming Ukraine. But it is also time to encourage both sides to start exploring possibilities for a political solution before escalation puts diplomacy even farther from reach," the pair conclude. "And unless the United States and NATO condition military assistance on Ukraine’s constructive political engagement, they will lack the leverage to work effectively towards a stable objective."
But is such a demand appropriate or even possible under the current conditions in the war torn nation? Isn't it up to Ukraine --- which has lost so much in blood, treasure and sovereign territory --- not the U.S. or NATO, to decide when and if Ukraine is ready to negotiate an end to the war?
Those are just some of the difficult and nuanced questions we discuss with our guest today, GEORGE BEEBE, Director of Grand Strategy (yes, I know, an ominous sounding title!) at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, one of our go-to think-tanks for smart, no-nonsense foreign policy solutions.
Beebe's is the author of 2019's The Russia Trap: How Our Shadow War with Russia Could Spiral into Nuclear Catastrophe. He served over two decades in the U.S. government as an intelligence analyst, diplomat, and policy advisor, including as director of the CIA’s Russia analysis and as an advisor on Russia to Vice President Dick Cheney. (Yes, we discuss both of those ominous matters --- his work with the CIA and for Cheney --- as well!)
Among the questions and issues Beebe speaks to today: His concern that there is no real exit plan for our current strategy, not unlike the lack of a U.S. plan when we launched the Iraq War in 2003; Is it true that there is no way for Ukraine to "win" this war? That the only way is via diplomacy?; Should it be up to the U.S. and NATO, who are supplying much-needed armaments to help Ukraine defend itself, to decide when Ukraine should negotiate towards a settlement? Or should that remain Ukraine's sole decision?; Does Russia even have an interest in negotiations?; What should we learn from their repeated reminders that a continuation of the war could lead to a potentially nuclear expansion?; And, since it's actually a somewhat related matter, what does Beebe make of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's controversial visit on Tuesday to Taiwan, and what effect is that likely to have on the Russia/Ukraine conflict?
"This is a very complex issue," Beebe tells me on the matter of the United States' own culpability in the matter. "Most foreign policy issues don't have single factor origins. They're usually the result of a confluence of different forces. What's happened in Russia's invasion of Ukraine is that it is the culmination of a series of developments, missteps on the part of a lot of different players over time, that all contributed to the situation that we're facing today."
"That doesn't excuse the Russians and it doesn't excuse Putin from making the choice to invade Ukraine. I think he is fully responsible for that choice, regardless of what preceded it. It didn't have to happen," he argues. But "Russia certainly has what I regard as understandable security concerns...That doesn't mean that the invasion was justified [or] that the manner in which this operation was carried out was at all justifiable."
"But I also would not say that Putin simply woke up in February and said, 'Hey, I would like to invade Ukraine.' There was a lot that went into shaping that decision, and I think a lot of blame on both the Russian and the Western sides."
As you can tell, there is much to discuss and try to make sense of with the Director of Grand Strategy at the Quincy Institute today. I hope you'll tune in for it!
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us today for our latest Green News Report, with more on the potentially "game changing" compromise bill hashed out by Senator Joe Manchin with Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer last week, to invest an historic $370 billion in incentives to help us move from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy in hopes of mitigating our worsening climate emergency; And, on the latest deadly costs of that ongoing emergency across the U.S., as Big Oil --- whose product, and decades of lies about it, are at the heart of the crisis --- declare their most profitable quarter in history...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Death toll rises in catastrophic Kentucky flooding; Extreme heat and wildfires sear the U.S. West; Good times for Big Oil; PLUS: Manchin-Schumer compromise bill could be a game changer for climate... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Electricity rates' shocking rise: it's the fossil fuels, stupid; Feds reverse Trump decision opening up Central California lands to drilling; Scientists say it is 'foolish' to not study catastrophic outcomes; What are 'flash droughts' and why are they so destructive?; House Passes 48-Bill Wildfire-Protection Package; Chemical Recycling Bills Gain Momentum and Opposition in States... PLUS: A Dead Climate Denial Meme is Dead Again... and much, MUCH more! ...
In our opinion, on today's BradCast, the scaled back, surprise "Build Back Better" spending bill compromise (now renamed the "Inflation Reduction Act" to help win over West Virginia's rightwing Democratic Senator) comes not a moment too soon. And, even "scaled back", it's still chocked full of so much stuff that if each of its provisions were passed in separate bills over the past 18 months, we'd likely be discussing Joe Biden as having one of the most successful first two years of any President in history. That said, the bill has not yet been passed, and it could still be a very bumpy ride in the coming days to see it through to the President's signature. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
Before we get to that today --- and some callers on same --- a few other headlines covered on today's show...
Then, it's on to the so-called Inflation Reduction Act --- a scaled down version of the Build Back Better Act that Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema killed last year. If successfully adopted this time, it would increase federal revenue by some $750 billion over the next ten years, allowing for some $450 billion in spending on a bunch of several long-overdue programs. Most of them have been progressive priorities for years.
Only Democrats in the U.S. Senate will be needed to pass it under Senate reconciliation rules, but all 50 will have to be there (not out with COVID) and vote yes. Sinema has yet to comment on the measure, even as Manchin has been taking to media over the weekend to try and sell her on it.
If passed, the 725-page measure [PDF] will: Allow Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices; Cap out-of-pocket spending on prescription drugs for seniors at $2,000 per year; Expand federal subsidies for premiums for individuals who purchase health insurance on the federal Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) exchanges; Set a minimum 15% tax for corporations who make more than $1 billion in profits per year; Increase policing of tax cheats; and, perhaps most critically, invest some $369 billion in climate and energy projects to cut deadly greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 through investments that hasten the nation's move from dirty fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy.
What the bill won't do is raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 a year, as Biden has long promised. That, despite blatant lies from Republicans such as Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) who, when announcing he tested positive for COVID today, lied about the bill, declaring on Twitter that he will "continue to fight Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin's massive tax increase on working families." That is a lie. There is no "massive tax increase on working families" in the bill. Republicans hope you are dumb enough to be duped to the contrary.
In order to win over Manchin, whose family and campaign have long been propped up by fossil fuel interests, the bill does mandate oil and gas lease sales on federal lands be auctioned off in exchange for the approval of on- and off-shore wind and solar projects. Even there, however, oil and gas companies will be required to pay higher royalties on whatever they extract, and will be fined for failing to prevent methane leaks that exacerbate global warming. So, yeah. Art of the compromise. But, according to most climate experts we've read, heard from or spoken with, it's a compromise well worth taking..and comes not a moment too soon, as our climate emergency worsens by the day.
We've got much more on all of the above on today's show, and we open up the phone lines to callers to get some of their thoughts on the "Inflation Reduction Act" as the world melts down, and the 2022 primary general election is now less than 100 days away...
On today's BradCast: When you're a monopoly power company --- especially in Florida --- they let you do it, I guess. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]
Before we get to the massive scandal(s) unspooling this week in Florida, a few other notes about corrupt media and corrupt power brokers. Donald Trump's favorite "Big Lie" fake news network, One American News (OAN), looks to be on the brink of going out of business, after Verizon joined AT&T to stop carrying their programming this weekend. Sad! At the same time, Trump is threatening to sue actual news network, CNN, because they repeatedly reported on his "Big Lie" attempts to steal the 2020 election. Good luck with that.
Then, it's on to the mind-blowing story out of the Sunshine State this week, where a leak of thousands of documents from a consulting firm in Alabama, has revealed all sorts of corruption by Florida Power & Light (FPL), the state's monopoly public utility company. The Florida papers are having a field day as they comb through the documents, publishing damning exposé after damning exposé on the dirt they are finding, which goes all the way up to FLP President and CEO, Eric Silagy, who, according to our guest today, incredibly enough, still has his job!
The documents were released amid a power battle over Montgomery, AL-based Matrix, LLC, a "powerful but little-known political consulting firm that has operated behind the scenes in at least eight states," according to the Guardian. They reveal a boatload of corruption by FPL, its CEO and many of its executive, including running "ghost candidates" in elections, mounting disinformation campaigns to maintain their monopoly (for example, to oppose residential solar power in the Sunshine State!) and secretly taking over pretty much full control of an "independent", right-leaning "news" site in Tallahassee called The Capitolist.
The website (which is still online, also incredibly enough) has been influential for years among Florida lawmakers. Its editor and founder is a guy by the name of Brian Burgess, the former Communications Director for FL's former Governor, now U.S. Senator Rick Scott. According to a deep dive from the Miami Herald, Burgess was being paid some $12,000 a month by FPL --- via a web of third parties cut-outs, including the consulting firm Matrix --- to publish its propaganda, push its preferred (sometimes fake) candidates, and ruthlessly attack its opponents, including both elected officials and reporters who dared publish stories the power company didn't like.
For insight into this (these) still unfolding scandal (scandals), we're joined today by ALISSA JEAN SCHAFER, the FL-based Research and Communications Manager for the Energy and Policy Institute, a non-profit "watchdog organization working to expose attacks on renewable energy and counter misinformation by fossil fuel and utility interests". Her organization certainly has its work cut out for it with this gobsmacking "web of scandal," as Schafer describes it.
"If you are a Floridian," she notes, "you have no choice who your power company is. We are in a monopoly market. So if you have Florida Power & Light, you're stuck with them. You're paying that bill every month. If you're seeing these headlines, I don't know understand how you can NOT be furious."
"It's kind of a crazy state. People like to make fun of us," concedes Schafer. "But at the end of the day, there are a lot of folks that are being impacted by this nonsense. We have elections coming up, and how are people supposed to know that their votes aren't being manipulated by these fake candidates that are being propped up by dark money. It's a very real concern."
Among those fake candidates, as the Herald reports, was one who was "running" against state Senator José Javier Rodríguez, who proposed legislation to allow landlords to sell cheap rooftop solar power directly to tenants. "I want you to make his life a living hell … seriously,” wrote FPL’s CEO Silagy in a 2019 email to two of his vice-presidents. They then ran a third-party candidate with the same last name as Rodriguez, who split the vote. The state Senator was pushed out of his job by just 32 votes. FPL's "ghost candidate" later admitted he had been bribed to put his name on the ballot.
There is a lot to discuss today with Schafer on all of this, including how FPL is claiming they broke no laws; their ridiculous claim that rate-payer money wasn't actually used to hoax rate-payers through these schemes; and how The Capitolist's editor Burgess is able to claim with a straight face that he has "never pitched nor solicited feedback from FPL executives on any story or business venture" and has "never received a story pitch from any FPL executive." (Of course not. That's what Matrix was for! And they were in near daily communications with FPL execs, according to the leaked documents.)
"If we take a step back and look at our investor-owned utilities across the country, whether they are working with Matrix or not, this is a playbook that we do see time and time again," Schafer explains. "You have a consulting firm as the middle-man to do some of the dirty work, because utilities don't want their name on it. They want to be able to say, 'I never spoke to XYZ.' They can say that because they spoke to the consultant who then spoke to XYZ. You have similar trends of setting up shell companies to pass money through, so that it looks like the utility is just being a utility and not actually a political operative."
Finally today, Mitch McConnell is apparently furious at being out-foxed by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on this week's surprise agreement with Sen. Joe Manchin for a major tax, healthcare and climate deal called the Inflation Reduction Act. McConnell and his fellow Senate Republicans decided to take it out on sick combat veterans who were exposed to deadly chemicals and toxic burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan by voting against healthcare protections for them. Former Daily Show host and actual supporter of America's veterans, Jon Stewart, had a word or two for those Republican Senators at the Capitol on Thursday morning, including: "If this is America First, then America is fucked."
When Democrats outfox Republicans you know the world has gone bonkers. But, welcome to another BradCast from Bonkers World! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
With weeks of unprecedented global heat records around the world and here in the U.S., and more deadly flash flooding --- today it was Kentucky's turn, sadly --- a major deal to finally take on climate change among Democrats comes not a moment too soon.
Surprising apparently everyone in D.C., corrupt coal-state Senator Joe Manchin and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced a deal on Wednesday night to raise taxes on huge corporations and allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices in order to help pay for pharmaceutical subsidies for the elderly, expansion of subsidies for individuals who purchased health care on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) exchanges and...wait for it...to make the federal government's largest-ever investment to fight climate change and decrease carbon emissions that cause it by 40% by 2030.
It's not saying much, of course, to say "largest-ever investment" to fight climate change, given how little the U.S. government has ever spent on it, thanks to fossil fuel-funded Congressional denial and obstruction. And whether this measure can actually curb that much of the deadly emissions causing our climate emergency remains to be seen. But the agreement struck, in apparent complete secret by Manchin and Schumer for what is now called the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (nee: Build Back Better Act), is set to raise $739 billion in revenues and spend some $433 billion on long-overdue investments (including at least $369 billion for climate) over the next decade. It will also decrease the deficit by hundreds of billions and will keep Joe Biden's long promise to not raise taxes on individuals or companies making less than $400,000 a year. (Shumer/Manchin's one-page summary is here. Full 725-page bill is here. Both PDFs.)
Yes, the new proposal is smaller than Biden and the Democrats had originally hoped, and leaves out some critical stuff for another day. It also includes some pretty outrageous fossil fuel-friendly provisions to win over Manchin. But, all told, this bill is nothing to sneeze at.
The question, of course, is whether all Dems in the Senate (including Manchin, who has a habit of changing his mind, if you haven't heard) and enough Dems in the House can agree to pass the bill. No Republican votes will be needed to pass the spending measure under the Senate's special reconciliation rule.
Schumer says the bill will be put up for a vote next week. That, after he outfoxed Mitch McConnell to broker the deal in the first place. McConnell is so hopping mad about it all that he's now, foolishly, actually taking it out on combat veterans who were exposed to toxic burn pits. We explain how all of this happened on today's show, along with details on what is actually in the bill --- both good and bad --- and what is not.
If it's passed successfully --- still a big "if" --- it could prove to be a breakthrough for Dems in advance of the November elections which, as we've discussed, may not play out with a Dem shellacking as pundits citing "Conventional Wisdom" have long told you. We've been arguing in recent weeks and months that these are decidedly UNconventional times and --- along with the potential...hopeful...maybe passage of this major new bill and its revival of a Joe Biden/Democratic Party agenda --- there are additional reasons this week to remain skeptical of the "Conventional Wisdom" from TV pundits and op-ed geniuses about this year's midterm elections.
Desi Doyen is along for the ride as usual today, with keen insight and smart explanation of the climate portions of the new Dem deal and our latest Green News Report...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Manchin and Schumer reach deal on climate and energy bill; Russia slashes gas deliveries to Europe; PLUS: US Postal Service quadruples its plan to buy all-electric vehicles... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Zeitgeist Matters: If you want to know who changed Manchin's mind --- you did; Climate disinformation leaves lasting mark as world heats up; Streaming service Hulu is rejecting ads about climate change; 1odead in 'One of the worst flooding events in Kentucky's history'; Hurricane flood maps reveal the climate future for Miami, NYC and D.C.; Biden Administration announces initiatives to boost solar energy use; Wildfire pollution may pay surprising role in fate of Arctic sea ice; Grim heat and stressed grids make dangerous outages more likely... PLUS: Largest Audubon chapter yet is changing its name, rebuking an enslaver... and much, MUCH more! ...
We've got some surprisingly good-ish news throughout today's BradCast. Given the grim days of late, we apologize in advance for any confusion. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
Last night, not long after we got off air, there were two pieces of encouraging news on the possibility of seeing criminal accountability against our disgraced former President and his multiple failed attempts to steal the 2020 election. One of those encouraging items was an interview with Attorney General Merrick Garland on NBC News, in which Garland reiterated, yet again, that the DoJ is working diligently "to bring to justice everybody who's criminally responsible for interfering with the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another."
The second, was an exclusive report from Washington Post confirming that "The Justice Department is investigating President Donald Trump’s actions as part of its criminal probe of efforts to overturn the 2020 election results." Many have been questioning for months whether that has been the case, even as a number of guests on this program have repeatedly made the case that Garland and the DoJ are, in fact, proceeding exactly as they would expect if such an investigation was under way. The Post story now seems to confirm that.
Moreover, their reporting also includes several enticing new details, such as the fact that DoJ has, as early as April, retrieved phone records from senior officials in Trump World, including his former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows; that the probe is broad and is specifically asking federal grand jury witnesses about Trump's orders to attorneys and staffers and about his White House meetings in December of 2020 and January of 2021; and includes a number of subpoenas that appear to suggest a whole bunch of top Team Trumpers are actively being targeted by the probe in addition to Trump himself.
And today, CNN is reporting that Meadows' deputy, Cassidy Hutchinson --- who offered bombshell testimony recently to the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection and Trump's attempts to steal the 2020 election --- is now cooperating with federal prosecutors. Additionally, Trump's former Communications Director, Alyssa Farah Griffin, told the news outlet today that she was "aware of other White House officials who have been reached out to by DOJ and are planning to cooperate."
So, yeah, there's some good news for today. But that's not all we have for you.
Earlier this year, we reported in detail on the U.S. Postal Service's outrageous plan to purchase 165,000 much-needed new delivery trucks. But, under the direction of their corrupt Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, appointed during the Trump Administration, a phony economic and environmental study resulted in a deal with a defense contractor that would result in 90% of those vehicles being gas-guzzlers that got just over 8 miles per gallon, while only 10% of the purchase would be for clean, electric vehicles. That, despite our ever-worsening climate emergency and the USPS Inspector General determining that 95% of current routes could, in fact, be handled by EVs.
President Biden has vowed to shift the entire federal fleet to all-electric vehicles by 2035, when he has targeted cutting deadly greenhouse gas emissions by half (on the way to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050). When this corrupt deal came to light, it was opposed by the White House, 16 states and the District of Columbia, as well as a number of environmental groups who filed lawsuits against the quasi-independent government agency.
Well, good(ish) news! Last week, the Postal Service announced they would purchase four times as many EVs as originally planned, increasing the percentage in the new fleet from 10% to 40%.
"The good news is that public pressure is starting to work," our guest today, ADRIAN MARTINEZ, Senior Attorney at Earthjustice, a non-profit environmental law group, tells us. His organization is one of several who filed suit against the Postal Service's original plan to purchase 150,000 gas-powered trucks that would produce roughly the same amount of global warming carbon dioxide as 4.3 million internal combustion passenger vehicles.
Martinez joined us back in February, when he explained the trucks would end up comprising about 30% of the federal government's huge automotive fleet and would burn through "a jaw-dropping 2 to 4 billion gallons of fuel" over their expected 20-year lifetime.
"We still have a lot more work to be done," he says today, responding to the positive news and citing "more than 100,000 emails to the Postal Service" his group helped facilitate. "It's litigation, it's the public correspondence with the Postal Service, and the public pressure working. We've still got a long way to go with them, but it shows you that the more you weigh in, the more you can make progress."
We discuss the scam that has resulted in contractor Oshkosh Defense procuring this contract despite never having manufactured any EVs, and the company's plan to build the USPS trucks at a new non-union facility in South Carolina, instead of their union shop in Wisconsin. We also discuss how it is even possible that DeJoy is still in his post and how new nominees to the USPS Board of Governors may be able to eventually remove him and change the equation on all of this.
"This is a fleet that should be 100% electric," Martinez argues. "We're now seeing shifts in this agency, and what I take is that we need to put even more pressure on the agency to get them where they need to be. This is so many vehicles, and so much oil that we can prevent from being burned, that the stakes are really high."
"Getting everyone to put pressure on this is important," he explains. "This is one of the largest, if not the largest vehicle procurement in history, so we can't get this wrong."
Finally today, in just a bit more good news, President Biden is no longer in isolation from his bout with COVID. After two negative tests, last night and this morning, he looked and sounded much better as he offered his first in-person public remarks in the Rose Garden before heading into the Oval Office for the first time in almost a week. In his remarks, some of which we share today, the 79-year old President credited vaccinations, boosters and anti-viral treatments --- which are now free for all Americans --- for his largely minor symptoms and quick recovery...
Sending our love and best wishes to get better soon today to our regular BradCast guest host, Nicole Sandler, who cracked a couple of ribs over the weekend, so wasn't able to fill in for us on yesterday's show as previously planned. But, we're back today with --- you'll be shocked to learn --- lots of news to cover! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
Among today's many stories of note...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: State of emergency declared over explosive new Oak Fire near Yosemite National Park; Simultaneous, concurrent heat waves are now six times more frequent, thanks to global warming; PLUS: New study quantifies just how much climate damage rich nations have caused to poor ones... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): The 7 climate tipping points that could change the world forever; Dramatic NASA photos reveal Lake Mead water levels at lowest point since 1937; Gavin Newsom hopes California can become epicenter of wind energy; FPL Secretly Took Over A Florida News Site And Used It To Bash Critics; Air Conditioning Will Not Save Us... PLUS: Is California Carbon Capture Play a Climate Solution or a Ruse?... and much, MUCH more! ...
"Abortion is an essential component of women's health care" -- American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology
"When women are compelled to carry and bear children, they are subjected to 'involuntary servitude' in violation of the [13th] amendment" -- Andrew Koppelman, Northwestern Univ. Law Review (2010)
The moment the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its opinion in Dobbs --- the case in which five of the Court's six right-wing Radicals in Robes voted to completely overturn Roe v. Wade (1973) --- it resurrected a cruel and grotesque division between States that had not existed since the end of the American Civil War.
In 1860, prior to passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, the very existence of a "United States" was under a grave threat due to an unsustainable, race-based divide between Slave States and Free States.
Today, courtesy of Dobbs, our nation finds itself mired in an unsustainable, gender-based divide between Free States, where a woman's reproductive liberties are preserved, and Slave States, where reproductive liberties no longer exist. (Andrew Koppelman's 2010 paper argued that "forced pregnancy" doesn't just deprive women of their "individual liberty". It also denies Equal Protection under law guaranteed by the 14th Amendment because that "deprivation is selectively imposed on women.")
The immediate impact of Dobbs was felt in Ohio, where the only option available to the parents of a 10-year old rape victim was to flee to neighboring Indiana so that their child would not be forced to carry the rapist's baby to term. But even the liberty that 10-year old's parents took advantage of is now threatened by a gender-based, Fugitive Slave Act mentality...
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