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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, March 8, 2021
Sunday 'Tex-Ass Backwards' Toons
Live, for now, from the Lone Star State...it's PDiddie's latest freedom-loving collection of the week's best toons!...
Pandemic Profits of 664 U.S. Billionaires Could Pay For Most of $1.9T COVID Relief Bill: 'BradCast' 3/5/21
Guest: Chuck Collins of IPS; Also: Flu season proves masks work; Swalwell sues Trump...
Democracy Strikes Back (Sort Of): 'For the People' v. For the GOP Fraudsters: 'BradCast' 3/4
House passes H.R.1; MI finds 2020 results accurate; AZ Senate gets Maricopa's 2020 ballots; GOP Rep. admits voter fraud felonies...
'Green News Report' 3/4/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Gulf Stream weakest in 1,000 years, climate change likely to blame; COVID carbon rebound; Biden raises Paris pact targets; PLUS: Volvo latest carmaker to say goodbye to gasoline...
Previous GNRs: 3/2/21 - 2/25/21 - Archives...
Mann on Gates: Climate Scientist Says MS Founder 'Wrong-Headed' on Climate: 'BradCast' 3/3/21
Guest: Dr. Michael E. Mann; Also: RW threat on Capitol; House renews Trump tax subpoena...
Haaland's Historic Nom Becomes 'Proxy Fight' Over Much More: 'BradCast' 3/2/21
Guest: Julian Brave NoiseCat; Also: Biden announces vaccine for all U.S. adults by May; Abbott lifts ALL masking, business restrictions in TX...
'Green News Report' 3/2/21
Water crisis persists in TX, MS; Latinos get worst water in US; COVID bill boosts heating assistance; PLUS: With move to electrify buildings, NatGas industry strikes back...
'We're Screwing it Up All Over Again': 'BradCast' 3/1/21
Guest: Dr. Karl Krupp of U of AZ's College of Public Health; Also: Former French Prez convicted; Water out in Jackson, MS; $1.9T COVID package heads to Senate...
Sunday 'Party Unity' Toons
Let's all come together for PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons...
SCOTUS Could Soon Kill the Voting Rights Act: 'BradCast' 2/26/21
Guest host Nicole Sandler with Constitutional law expert Ian Millhiser...
Texans Pay Big Price for Enron-Like Deregulation
A Green New Deal didn't cause Lone Star State's deadly power crisis, but it could help prevent the next one...
You Never Forget Your First:
'BradCast' 2/25/21
Guest host Nicole Sandler w/ historian/author Alexis Coe...
'Green News Report' 2/25/21
Historic Interior nom fends off GOP attacks; New USPS trucks won't be all-electric; TX deregulation cost users $28 billion; TX refineries released tons of toxins during 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: 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"...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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House passes H.R.1., so now what?; MI audits find 2020 results accurate, so now what?; AZ Senate finally gets ahold of Maricopa County's 2020 ballots, so now what?; GOP Congressman admits to three counts of felony voter fraud...so guess what?!...
By Brad Friedman on 3/4/2021 6:31pm PT  

We've got mostly democracy-related stories to report on today's BradCast. Some good news, and some bad. But there's a whole bunch of anti-democracy GOP fraud throughout, because what democracy story in the U.S. these days doesn't include Republican fraud and/or attempted voter suppression? [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Among the stories covered on today's show...

  • We start with one story that has little to do with democracy, though it should be enough to ensure these two idiot Governors are never elected to anything ever again. In case you are unclear just how idiotic the Governors of Texas and Mississippi are, after they lifted all COVID restrictions in each state this week in hopes that folks won't notice how horrifically they failed their own constituents following the winter storm there three weeks ago, Axios reports today that, while COVID infections rates are still falling in most states, the rate in Texas is up 27 percent over the past week and Mississippi's is up a nation-leading 62 percent! Luckily, both states are islands, so the idiocy of their Republican Governors won't effect everyone else's efforts to get beyond this pandemic once and for all, right?
  • House Democrats, as expected, passed H.R.1 --- the "For the People Act" --- on Wednesday night with zero Republican votes. The massive, landmark, once-in-a-generation voting rights, campaign finance reform and ethics reform bill now moves to the Senate. In that undemocratic body, however, where a simple majority is NOT enough to pass a democracy reform bill as of now, it will likely die, unless enough pressure is applied on Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to do the right thing, reform the filibuster, and allow this critical (if imperfect) measure to pass while Democrats have a brief opportunity right now to do so. The measure is long overdue and, according to new polling, wildly popular with the American people of all parties. 68% of likely voters favor the bill, and even a majority of Republicans (57%), back it as well.
  • The sad (and dangerous) Trump/GOP effort to con Americans into believing last November's election was stolen from the disgraced former President --- despite all evidence to the contrary --- continues.  And the massive evidence to the contrary continues to mount. This week, Michigan's Secretary of State announced that the results of a second statewide post-election audit once again confirms the initially reported results. "All of Michigan’s more than 250 election audits are now complete, and each and every one of them affirmed the integrity of the November election and the accuracy of the results," Sec. of State Jocelyn Benson said on Thursday. The audits were carried out by "More than 1,300 Republican, Democratic, and non-partisan election clerks...working across the aisle to review one another's procedures, ballots and machines in coordination with the state Bureau of Elections." Full hand-counts were carried out in some places, such as Antrim County, where Republicans pretended that Dominion Voting Systems machines were used to try and steal the election from Trump.  And, in heavily populated cities like Detroit, election officials determined that, of 174,000 absentee ballots tallied in the city, only 17 votes were ultimately "out of balance" (where the number of ballots cast in a precinct differed from the number of envelopes or signatures accounted for.)
  • But the most embarrassing state GOP idiocy of the week may belong to the Republican-controlled state Senate in Arizona. After months of subpoenas to elections officials, ordering them to turn over all 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County (Phoenix) last year --- and even coming within one vote of throwing elections officials there in jail for following state law by securely retaining custody of the ballots cast in the County last November --- a state judge finally ordered Maricopa officials to obey the subpoena to deliver all ballots to the Senate, so they could count them themselves. They were all delivered, 73 pallets of them, this week. And guess what? Senate Republicans have no idea what to do with them now.  The story is even worse than it sounds, as we discuss today.
  • But at least officials in Kansas were finally able to find some voter fraud. Specifically, voter fraud by now-former Republican U.S. House Rep. Steve Watkins of Topeka. The one-term Congressman was defeated last year. But not before he lied about his residence, using the address of a UPS store on his voter registration, voted in an election he was not entitled to vote in, and then lied to state investigators about it all.  He was charged with three felonies related to voting. This week, however --- because, luckily, he is a white, male Republican from Kansas --- prosecutors are allowing him to enter a diversion agreement that delays his trial for six months, and drops the charges entirely if he's a good boy through September. We compare his treatment to that of Crystal Mason, an African-American mother of three in Texas, who, unlike the Kansas Congressman, had no idea she was violating the law when she cast a provisional ballot that was never counted in the 2016 election. She received a sentence of five years in prison for her "crime".
  • Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, as climate change has resulted in the weakest Gulf Stream in about 1,000 years; carbon emissions are rising again as COVID restrictions are loosened; Joe Biden raises U.S. targets under the Paris Climate Agreement; and another major carmaker announces plans to stop selling all gas burning, internal combustion engine vehicles in their line in very very short order...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Dr. Michael E. Mann of Penn State's Earth System Science Center; Also: Rightwing extremist threat on Capitol; Congressional subpoena renewed for Trump financial docs; Biden chides TX, MS Governors...
By Brad Friedman on 3/3/2021 6:58pm PT  

Unlike Microsoft Windows, says our guest on today's BradCast in response to Bill Gates' new book on climate change, "if the global climate system crashes, you can't reboot it." Of course, what does a billionaire software engineer know about how to save our climate anyway? Well, our guest --- an actual Nobel Prize-winning climate scientist --- has a few thoughts on that as well. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

First up, however, a few quick, breaking news items as usual...

  • The U.S. House has decided to adjourn for the week a day early after Capitol security officials warned of what they described as credible threats by rightwing extremists surrounding what QAnon dupes cite as the "true Inauguration Day" on March 4th (the day originally set by the Constitution). While the House may be scramming, the Senate will supposedly stay in session, as Capitol Police have "enhanced their security posture" and National Guard troops remain posted at the Capitol.
  • Before leaving, however, it appears that the House Oversight Committee has renewed its subpoena for tax and other financial records from Donald Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA. The disgraced former President had successfully stalled the Committee's original effort, beginning in 2019, blocking the documents from being given to the panel for 22 months until the subpoena expired at the end of the legislative session last year. Committee Chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), however, is not giving up in her effort to obtain the documents. In a court filing, she described the subpoena and need for Trump's financial records as "just as compelling now as it was when the Committee first issued its subpoena" as "the committee's investigations into presidential conflicts of interest, presidential contracts with the federal government and self-dealing, and presidential emoluments” continue.
  • And President Biden offered some thoughts on what he described as a "big mistake" and "neanderthal thinking" by the Republicans Governors of Texas and Mississippi. On Tuesday, they both lifted statewide mask mandates and declared all businesses may now open to 100% capacity. That clever if wildly dangerous distraction comes while tens of thousands of residents in both states are still without running or clean water following a winter storm more than two weeks ago, and as both states rank in the top ten for COVID deaths per capita.

Then, with Trump out of the White House and Dems in control of both chambers of Congress, it seems a very good time to renew the previously forestalled federal efforts to take action on our critical climate crisis. Private industry has figured out the urgent need. This week, Volvo announced they would move to an all-electric car line by 2030 and, in just four years, by 2025, would produce only electric or hybrids. And the American people seems to have figured it out as well. By a whopping 79% to 20%, they now favor the development of renewable energy over the continued production of fossil fuels.

So, it's time to finally restart the debate about how best to move forward again to save our climate by decarbonizing our economy. We're joined today by award-winning climate scientist DR. MICHAEL E. MANN, Distinguished Professor and Director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, author of nearly 200 peer-reviewed papers and loads of books, including his latest, The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back Our Planet.

Last week, Mann penned an op-ed for Newsweek, detailing two very different potential paths forward. One, he describes as a "technocratic" path which "envisions climate action as a mere engineering problem" to be solved with massive --- if dangerous --- geoengineering schemes, as detailed in software mogul Bill Gates' new book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need. The other, which Mann favors, is the "sociopolitical" path relying on safe, clean, already-existing technologies.

"It can be a bit frustrating," he tells us. "To the extent that Bill Gates might use his platform to create more public awareness for the climate crisis, that's great. The thing that troubles me is that his prescription is wrong-headed, in my view. It's overly technocratic. It's like if your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.  If you built your reputation, if your role in society has been to promote computer technology, technological or technocratic solutions to problems, everything looks like a technocratic problem."

"The problem is climate change isn't a technocratic problem," Mann argues. "We have the solutions --- wind, solar, geothermal. [Gates] downplays those solutions, based on what I would say is an unbalanced assessment of the literature and what researchers have found. He downplays the potential for renewable energy to meet our needs and help us decarbonize our economy. By downplaying the obvious solution, it leads him to promote far riskier strategies --- like geoengineering, massively interfering with the Earth's system in some other way to try to offset global warming. What could possibly go wrong?"

"This problem at this point is a political problem, it's not a technological problem. We have the solution. The problem is that we don't yet have the representation in our government," asserts Mann, noting that Gates "actually said, 'Well, I don't know what the solution is to the politics here.' If you don't know the solution to the politics, then you don't know the solution to the problem, because that's what it is at this point. It's a political problem."

Our conversation is enlightening, encouraging, and, yes, maddening at times. We discuss, for example, one of Gates' "solutions" to the climate crisis: more nuclear energy. But even a number of esteemed climate scientists argue that we can't decarbonize without relying on nukes. Mann disagrees and explains why.

He cites peer-reviewed literature from energy experts who "all come to the conclusion that we can meet 80% of projected energy demand by 2035 from renewables, and 100% by 2050...based on existing technology," adding, "That's without nuclear."

As usual, there is much more in our in-depth conversation with Mann than I can cover here, but that is well worth tuning in for. Mann himself, in his Newsweek piece, notes that both he and Gates are optimistic about the future, and that he hopes to find places where their two different paths toward the same ultimate goal may converge. "Whether we have a crisis is no longer a matter of worthy debate. Precisely how we solve it is."

And, yes, we welcome a response from Gates. Happy to have him on the show, with or without Mann there to debate him as he sees fit. Though we do hope that our good-spirited snark today about Windows crashing won't keep Microsoft's former CEO from dropping by...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Julian Brave NoiseCat of Data for Progress and the Canim Lake Band Tsq'escen; Also: Biden announces enough vaccine for all U.S. adults by May; Abbott lifts ALL masking, business restrictions in TX...
By Brad Friedman on 3/2/2021 6:42pm PT  

As Washington State's Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell suggested last week, the phony GOP uproar over Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM)'s nomination by Joe Biden to become the first Native American Secretary of the U.S. Interior Department is a 'proxy fight' over something else entirely. It might be over the dim future for fossil fuels. It might be over the fact that Haaland would be the first indigenous cabinet member for any Presidential Administration in U.S. history. Or it might be the fact that the GOP, without any real governing philosophy or values, is simply flailing to find relevance. We discuss all of the above with our guest on today's BradCast.  [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But first up today, some late breaking news following on our conversation on yesterday's show with Dr. Karl Krupp of the University of Arizona's Zuckerman College of Public Health. He argued that, while COVID numbers have (thankfully) fallen precipitously in recent weeks from our horrifically deadly surge in the Fall, we may now be on the verge of "screwing it up all over again." Both he and top federal officials at the CDC see the previously-declining numbers beginning to plateau and/or tick back up in recent days, as states and cities are, once again, prematurely lifting restrictions.

Late news today both supports his worry on one hand, and somewhat mitigates it, a little bit anyway, on the other.  This afternoon President Biden announced that he has helped to broker a deal between Johnson & Johnson and Merck, the two pharmaceutical giants, to speed manufacture of J&J's newly-approved one-dose vaccine. Aided by his implementation of the Defense Production Act, he declared on Tuesday, the two companies, along with Pfizer and Moderna, will create enough vaccine for every American adult by the end of May. That is two months earlier than the Administration previously projected.

While that is certainly encouraging news, it is somewhat blunted by the idiot Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott's announcement today that, in direct contravention of warnings from scientists and federal health officials, the Lone Star State is immediately ending its statewide ask mandate and allowing all businesses to reopen to 100% capacity again. That, even as TX is still seeing about 7,600 new cases each day and averaged 227 COVID-19 deaths a day over the past week.

As Dr. Krupp warned on this program yesterday, we could see new record highs in the near future if we begin "screwing it up all over again". Both he and I, hoped his fears would be wrong. We'll find out soon enough.

In the meantime, Republicans continue to slow-walk top appointments to the Biden Administration, including his new head of Health and Human Services, despite the historic (and once again worsening) pandemic we are still battling.  Clearly, Republicans don't care. But what they do care about is fossil fuel production by the companies which fund their campaigns. To that end, last week's confirmation hearings for Rep. Haaland in the U.S. Senate's Energy and Natural Resource Committee were both revealing and maddening, especially for those in the Native American community.

Members of Indian Country have been watching her grilling in dismay and occasional fury as the first Native American nominated to head up any Cabinet level federal agency was falsely derided during her confirmation hearings last week as a "radical," largely by white, male GOP Senators who are, themselves, radically out of touch with even their own constituents' desire for more renewable energy and less fossil fuel development. Louisiana's Sen. John Kennedy went so far as to deride Haaland as a "neo-socialist, left-of-Lenin whack job" (before attacking Biden's now-abandoned nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, for posting mean tweets some years ago.)

But are the almost-certainly futile attacks on the New Mexico Congresswoman about more than her not-radical-in-the-slightest position on fossil fuels? We're joined today by journalist, activist, and artist JULIAN BRAVE NOISECATVice President of Policy & Strategy at Data for Progress, as well as a member of the Canim Lake Band Tsq'escen and descendant of the Lil'Wat Nation of Mount Currie. We discuss what lies behind the pathetic pushback against Haaland's nomination and why it is such a monumental moment for so many Native Americans around the nation.

NoiseCat has recently written about the pointless and embarrassing attacks on Haaland in her confirmation hearings at both The Nation and Washington Post, where he charged that  "Republicans’ depiction of the first Native American ever nominated to the Cabinet as a 'radical' threat to a Western 'way of life' revealed something about the conservative id: a deep-seated fear that when the dispossessed finally attain a small measure of power, we will turn around and do to them what their governments and ancestors did to us."

We discuss all of that and more today with NoiseCat, who explains the horrendous historic role that Interior has held in the genocidal treatment of American Indians, and the important mission that it now carries out for all Americans, but especially those in the West. (It is also home to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.) "Never before in the history of Interior have we had a Native person on the other side of the desk," he tells me. "And I think Native tribes are very hopeful we can make some further headway in correcting the nation-to-nation relationship between the United States and its first peoples."

He also explains, by the way, why "Republicans might actually be burning their own wagon" in attacking Haaland.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as hundreds of thousands in Abbott's "free" Texas are still fighting to obtain water, two weeks after a winter storm knocked out power and water in the Lone Star State; the battle for water for thousands in Jackson, Mississippi after the same storm; and the natural gas industry's desperate attempt to keep their aging empire from collapse...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Dr. Karl Krupp of U. of AZ's Zuckerman College of Public Health; Also: Former French Prez convicted, sentenced; Water out for two weeks in Jackson, MS; Biden's $1.9T COVID relief package heads to Senate...
By Brad Friedman on 3/1/2021 6:39pm PT  

Plummeting COVID rates and FDA approval of a brand new, one-shot vaccine seem like very good news! And it is...if it weren't for our propensity to screw it all up again, as our guest on today's BradCast explains. [Audio link to today's full show is posted below this summary.]

But first, in other good/bad news reports today, the former conservative President was found guilty of corruption and sentenced to a year in prison on Monday! The bad news is that it wasn't our former "conservative" President, but French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Still, it does suggest that modern, civilized democracies can hold even the most powerful to account. We'll see if the U.S. justice system learns anything from that example.

In the meantime, we clearly have yet to learn the lesson about the need to modernize our critical infrastructure --- or of the dangers of deregulating, privatizing, and profiteering from essential services such as power and water. The shameful, widespread outages in Texas from a winter storm two weeks ago offered a fresh reminder about that, even as hundreds of thousands in Houston remain under boil water orders today.  But, much less noticed and reported on than the mess in Texas is the fact that tens of thousands are still without clean water --- or even any water at all --- in much of Jackson, Mississippi, where decades of failure to invest in the city's antiquated water system has now left much of it without water at all for the past two weeks. As it turns out, however, the areas of Jackson without water just happen to be the predominately black areas of the state's 80% African-American capital city.

Long overdue improvements to critical infrastructure could finally begin in some states and cities with the passage of President Biden's wildly popular American Rescue Plan. The U.S. House passed the $1.9 trillion package --- which includes $1,400 individual checks and hundreds of billions in relief to families, businesses, schools, unemployed workers, as well as cash-strapped cities and states --- late last Friday night. The House version also a includes the very popular $15/hour minimum wage mandate, even though the Senate Parliamentarian declared last week that the provision could not be included for passage under Senate Budget Reconciliation rules. Those rules would allow the package to be adopted by a simple majority vote in the Senate this week, rather than the 60 votes currently needed for passage under the Senate's archaic, undemocratic, Jim Crow-era filibuster rules.

Despite the popularity of the package (76% approval over all, including 60% of Republican voters), there were zero votes for passage by GOPers in the gerrymandered House. Republicans in the Senate are believed likely to similarly ignore the preferences of a majority of their own voters. That, even though the measure enjoys bi-partisan approval by voters and the package also includes tens of billions of dollars to speed distribution of COVID vaccines.

Speaking of which, a third vaccine received FDA approval over the weekend, and millions of doses are now said to be on on their way to distribution points.  The first single-dose vaccine to be granted FDA emergency use authorization for COVID-19 is Johnson & Johnson's. It is said to be highly effective and requires only regular refrigeration for storage, as opposed to sub-freezers. So, in theory, it is much easier to get out and into people's arms quickly. But is it as effective as Pfizer and Moderna's vaccine? And does it matter one way or another? We discuss that with our guest today as well.

As COVID infection, hospitalization and death rates have been plummeting in recent weeks, epidemiologists have become worried. There are signs that the precipitous drop after the horrendously deadly autumn surge last year has begun to plateau at similarly high rates to those we saw just before that surge. But now, there are much more transmissible variants emerging. At the same time, states and cities are beginning to lift restrictions again --- just as they did before last year's surge that quickly propelled deaths to more than 500,000 in the U.S.

We're joined today for some very helpful insight on both the vaccines and concerns about the current rate of spread, by DR. KARL KRUPP of University of Arizona's Zuckerman College of Public Health. In short, Krupp warns, "we're screwing it up all over again."

"To be quite blunt about it" Krupp tells me, citing those who ignored warnings from public health authorities about reopening schools and businesses before Thanksgiving last year, "It's funny how short of a memory we have. We're just approaching where we were in the middle of October.  We're just coming back from where we went the first time we did everything wrong. And the question is, are we going to do everything wrong this time?"

His answer is not necessarily encouraging, as he predicts that we could very well see not only a fourth surge, but one that is even higher than what devastated the nation late last year.

As to the vaccines, we talk about the fact that Johnson & Johnson's, while only requiring a single dose, is said to be only 66% effective against the virus, as compared to the 94 and 95% rates of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Though the newest vaccine to obtain FDA approval also is said to be 85% effective against severe cases and, to date, 100% effective in preventing hospitalization and death.

But, if given a choice, wouldn't it be smarter to take the Pfizer or Moderna versions? Krupp is sympathetic to those concerns, but argues that Americans should take any vaccine they can get as quickly as possible right now. He explains why. He also answers a bunch of questions about whether those who have been vaccinated can still become infected or infect others and discusses concerns that minority communities are currently being vaccinated at far lower rates.

He also offers his predictions as to when life might actually return to normal, and when it will return to mostly normal --- or at least something that feels much more like the Before Times. Please tune in for today's very insightful --- and hopefully helpful! --- conversation...

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Guest host Nicole Sandler with Constitutional law expert Ian Millhiser...
By Nicole Sandler on 2/26/2021 4:45pm PT  

I'm sorry to end the week on such a scary note, but I don't make the news, I just report it. It's NICOLE SANDLER again, guest hosting another edition of the The BradCast today. [Audio link to the full show is below.]

I read an article at Vox titled "Two Supreme Court cases could destroy what remains of the Voting Rights Act". It so thoroughly freaked me out that I immediately reached out to its author, IAN MILLHISER, and invited him to join me on The BradCast.

The fact is, Trump stacked the courts with right wingers who'll stop at nothing to get and retain power. And it's not only that. We're headed down a really ugly road, as is evidenced by watching the wingnut travesty that began today in Orlando known as CPAC. One look at the stage and you realize something's not quite right. Look closely and you'll figure it out. There's no question that it's in the shape of the Odal Rune, a decidedly fascist symbol that was worn as a badge by the SS during WWII.

I started the show with the latest news. And ended it with some lighter fare because after all of this depressing stuff, we needed something to laugh about. I hope it worked!...

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Guest host Nicole Sandler with historian/author Alexis Coe...
By Nicole Sandler on 2/25/2021 5:13pm PT  

I'm back! It's Nicole Sandler, filling in for Brad and Desi for a couple of days so they can celebrate Desi's birthday. Any excuse for some downtime. Welcome to today's BradCast.

It was another busy news day, as confirmation hearings continue for Biden's cabinet picks.The Equality Act passed the House today, but not before Rand Paul went on a homophobic rant, aimed at the first transgender woman to be nominated for a Senate-confirmed federal position. In this case, it was a confirmation hearing for Dr. Rachel Levine, the nominee for Assistant Secretary for Health, and Dr. Vivek Murthy, the Surgeon General Nominee. And Rand Paul just couldn't help himself. He went off on her. And in the House, Marjorie Taylor Greene put up an ugly sign to counter her across-the-hall neighbor Marie Newman, who put out an equality flag to celebrate her transgender daughter and the Equality Act, which would be voted on later in the day. So much for unity.

This country has been through some trying times, and we've survived. Today, we went back to the beginning with historian ALEXIS COE, author of You Never Forget Your First: A History of George Washington.

And before she left to celebrate her birthday, Desi left us with a new edition of the Green News Report...

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Guest: Slate's legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Virginia is no longer for death penalty lovers...
By Brad Friedman on 2/24/2021 6:24pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Try as they did, Donald Trump and the Republican Party were unable to steal the 2020 Presidential election. But they've got their plans in place for how to try and do it next time. They just need their currently stolen and packed Republican U.S. Supreme Court majority to help them pull it off. This week, SCOTUS chose not to do so --- even if they may in the future. But, in a separate decision, the Court did radically help increase the odds that our disgraced former President could be headed to jail before he's even able to run for office again. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

But first up today, some good news out of Virginia, where more people have been put to death by the Commonwealth's government than in any other state in the nation. Since their founding as a colony in 1608, some 1,390 people have been executed by the government there. Since SCOTUS reinstated the death penalty in 1976, Virginia has executed 113 people. That is more than any other state but Texas. This week, however, following Democrats gaining majorities in both chambers of the legislature, Virginia will now become the first Southern state --- and the 23rd in the union --- to abolish the abhorrent practice. And not a moment too soon, particularly given the systemic racism of their death penalty practices. For example, as the Death Penalty Information Center pointed out to Washington Post this week, "From 1900 to 1969...Virginia did not execute a single White person for any offense that did not result in death, while 73 Black men were executed for rape, attempted rape or robbery." So, yeah. Very good news out of Virginia this week, as Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam prepares to sign the long-overdue measures finally adopted by the state legislature.

Speaking of state legislatures, on yesterday's BradCast, we reported on this week's decision by SCOTUS to purge a bunch of held over Trump/GOP challenges to the 2020 election. Cases from Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia and Arizona were all dismissed as moot. But dismissal of the Pennsylvania cases found three Justices --- Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch --- in dissent [PDF]. The two nearly identical cases in question had challenged the PA state Supreme Court's decision to extend the deadline [PDF] for the return of absentee ballots by three days after Election Day, due to the pandemic, slowdowns by the U.S. Postal Service and a provision in their state constitution mandating fair elections.

With all of their many other attempts to steal the 2020 election having failed, the GOP has now latched on to a radical interpretation of the U.S. Constitution's Elections Clause to argue that only state legislatures --- not Governors, not Secretaries of State, not State Elections Board or even state Supreme Courts --- may set any procedure for federal elections. Therefore, the Trumpers argued in their now-dismissed Pennsylvania challenges, the three day extension by the PA Supreme Court to enforce their state's Constitution by allowing for the arrival of late mail-in ballots cast by Election Day, was an unlawful violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Though no SCOTUS majority has ever affirmed this extreme reading of the federal Constitution, this is what many Republicans have now decided to believe to make themselves feel better after losing last November. In Pennsylvania, however, there were only 10,000 late arriving ballots and Joe Biden won the Keystone State by about 80,000. So SCOTUS decided the issue was moot and dismissed the cases. But Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch argued the case should have been heard anyway.

"A decision in these cases would not have any implications regarding the 2020 election," Alito wrote in dissent. "But a decision would provide invaluable guidance for future elections." On yesterday's program, I actually agreed with Alito and explained why.

Today, for a counter-point, we're joined by Slate's great legal journalist MARK JOSEPH STERN who offered a very different view from mine in his own coverage of Monday's decision by the high court. While justifiably destroying Justice Thomas' solo dissent in which he argued that mail-in ballots are bad even if there is no fraud, simply because people may think there is fraud, Stern also argued that SCOTUS was right to dismiss the case, rather than hear it. In part, he argues, that's because this Court has been packed so far to the extreme right. "We should be very afraid of what the Court would say," he tells me. "And that fear is enough for us to just hope that the Justices put off a decision on this matter for as long as humanly possible."

But I disagree with Stern and, in a very spirited debate, explain why. Who wins that one? Tune in and decide for yourself.

Stern also comments today on whether our failed former President should be concerned that his own packed and stolen U.S. Supreme Court, in an apparently unanimous decision on Monday, finally allowed Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance to obtain Trump's financial and tax records as part of Vance's grand jury criminal probe into alleged bank, tax and insurance fraud by Trump and his organization. In short, Stern asserts, "the answer is yes," Trump should be very concerned. "They're looking at felony offenses here, not just civil offenses, run-of-the-mill white collar stuff, but serious crimes. I do think there's a serious chance that we could see an indictment of Donald Trump coming down the pipeline in the near future." Though he does add a caveat or two.

Of even more immediate concern, Stern recently wrote, Trump's efforts to interfere with Georgia's election results --- for example, cajoling and threatening the state's Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to "find" enough votes to declare him the winner --- could spell trouble, and even jail time, even sooner.

"You'll see some people argue that Trump can't be convicted under this law --- the ban on criminal solicitation of election fraud --- because he didn't have the requisite state of mind, because he didn't actually want the Sec. of State to falsify records because he was deluded enough to believe that there were actually 12,000 secret votes for him out there that could be found. That's a question for the jury, that's not a question for the prosecutors or the grand jury. That is something Trump could argue at a criminal trial," says Stern, before adding: "I think that any reasonable reading of that transcript proves that Trump was, in fact, looking for the Secretary of State to falsify records, to commit election fraud. It is very difficult to read those sentences in any other way."

He explains why Trump could soon be looking at anywhere from 1 to 3 years in that criminal probe by the Fulton County (Atlanta) District Attorney and whether he thinks it is actually possible that a former President of the United States may actually receive prison time before all of this is said and done...

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Guest: National Security blogger Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel; Also: SCOTUS rejects GOP challenge to PA's 2020 election results; GA Repubs move new vote suppression measures forward...
By Brad Friedman on 2/23/2021 6:45pm PT  

By a number of happily surprising measures, the confirmation of Joe Biden's Attorney General nominee is going very well. Perhaps even better than expected, according to our guest on today's BradCast.  And, best yet, it may even result in some serious consequences for our former President. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But, first up today...The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday finally dismissed a bunch of silly and/or meritless MAGA challenges to the 2020 Presidential elections results in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia and Arizona. But the case out of Pennsylvania, in which dissents [PDF] to its dismissal were offered by Justices Clarence Thomas, Sam Alito and Neil Gorsuch, warrants notice. The case argued that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in ordering [PDF] a three-day extension for the arrival of mail-in ballots, prior to the November 2020 election, violated the U.S. Constitution. The PA Supremes found that, given the pandemic and slow-downs in mail delivery by the U.S. Postal Service, the state's deadline for ballots to arrive by the close of polls at 8pm on Election Night violated their own state constitution's mandate for fair elections. The Republican challenge to their ruling charged that the state high court was in violation of a radical interpretation of the U.S. Constitution's Elections Clause allowing "The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections" for federal office "shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof".

That, their argument goes, means that only state legislatures may set any provision whatsoever pertaining to elections. Any such procedure set by a Secretary of State or Governor or even a state Supreme Court is therefore unconstitutional on the federal level. Or so the GOP is now claiming. It is, for several reasons, a ridiculous argument. But it is one that has been given new life in the Trump Era as desperate Republicans took their cue from the former President to come up with any reason whatsoever to nullify election results they didn't like.  There are now at least three, arguably four, Justices on our stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court who appear to buy into the radical argument. Nonetheless, the case was dismissed on Monday on the grounds that the matter was moot. (There were about 10,000 late arriving ballots in PA last November, and Biden won the state by about 80,000 votes.) But, without an election hanging in the balance, the dissenters noted that this case would have been an ideal moment to settle this matter. Oddly enough, I actually agree on that last point with Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch, and we discuss why on today's show.

That, as GOP-controlled legislatures around the country continue to move forward with new voter suppression schemes following their loss on the Presidential level in 2020. Today for example, Georgia's Republican-majority Senate approved a measure that would require a copy of a Photo ID to even request a mail-in ballot. And that's just the start of what the state's wingnut legislature is now up to, after having recently lost the Presidential race and two U.S. Senate seats in the Peach State.

All of which underscores again the critical need for Congress to pass HR-1, the "For the People Act," which would go a long way toward blocking the new GOP attacks on the right to vote. To do that, of course, Democrats in the Senate will need to end the filibuster. And to do that, Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema will have to come to understand how they are allowing these overt attacks on democracy itself to worsen at the state level, as they protect the undemocratic Jim Crow-era filibuster.

Then, we're joined by longtime national security and accountability blogger MARCY WHEELER of Emptywheel, who has now moved to Ireland for reasons that she explains on today's program. The real reason we wanted to catch up with her, however, is to discuss the ongoing confirmation process for Biden's AG-designate Merrick Garland --- who completed his GOP-stalled second day of testimony in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday and to discuss Monday's unanimous ruling by SCOTUS that Trump's financial documents must now be handed over to the Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, Jr., for his criminal probe into alleged tax, bank and insurance fraud by Trump and his organization, as well as the unlawful conspiracy he directed involving hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.

Is Trump soon to face very real accountability that could actually include jail time? Whether it's in the New York state case, another criminal investigation into his election interference in Georgia, or even under AG Garland's promised federal response to the conspiracy to take over the U.S. Capitol on January 6th?

Wheeler has lots of thoughts on all of the above on today's BradCast --- and you probably won't be angry about (most of) them. I'll share just one of them for now here, regarding those charged for conspiracy for the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol: "All of these defendants, one after another, saying 'I was just swept up by the inflammatory language of the then-President. That may be true, but it doesn't get them off for the crime. But if one after another are saying 'Trump made me do it,' then at some point you've got to respond to that."

Now may be a good time to brush up on the legal meaning of the phrase "seditious conspiracy."

Finally, we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, on the continuing fall out from the Texas power and water failure over the past week, the fossil fuel-funded GOPers who lied about it, and the not-a-moment-too-soon official U.S. return to the Paris Climate Agreement...

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Guest: Dr. Robert Bullard of TSU and Nat'l Black Environmental Justice Network; Also: COVID kills 500k in U.S.; SCOTUS denies Trump's last plea to protect his finance docs; Dominion's $1.7B suit against MyPillow CEO...
By Brad Friedman on 2/22/2021 7:03pm PT  

There was so much news over the weekend and into Monday that it began to feel a bit like the Trump Era again. Don't worry! It ain't. But it sure felt like it trying to get caught up on today's BradCast. (Or maybe it was barely making it on air in time after we learned the catalytic converter had been stolen from our Prius. Apparently, that's now a thing!) [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Among the stories covered at the top of today's show:

  • The U.S. reached the grim milestone of 500,000 confirmed deaths due to COVID-19, the disease which our failed former President had told us would simply "disappear like magic" when the weather warmed last year in Spring. Turns out he was genocidally wrong.
  • Speaking of Donald Trump the failure, it looks like he's finally run out of options to prevent his accounting firm, Mazars USA, from turning over subpoenaed tax and other financial documents to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr.'s criminal investigation into Trump's hush money payments to Stormy Daniels and into other allegedly fraudulent tax and loan schemes. The U.S. Supreme Court --- yes, even those in the stolen and packed seats filled with Trump appointees --- denied the disgraced former President's final appeal on Monday.
  • And, speaking of Trump-related frauds, his buddy Mike Lindell, the CEO of MyPillow, was sued today by Dominion Voting Systems for more than $1.7 billion dollars, in just the latest example of attempted accountability for the suckers who played along with Trump's Big Lie that the 2020 Presidential election was stolen by computerized voting and tabulation systems. Lindell, the wingnut Trump suckup who produced a silly documentary called Absolute Proof (which, as I explain, appears to contain everything but that), has ignored the private voting vendor's prior legal warnings to cease and desist his false claims alleging that Dominion's systems were used to steal the election for Joe Biden. Monday's Dominion suit against Lindell [PDF] is just the latest. The company previously sued Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani [PDF] and Sidney Powell [PDF] for the same amount in each suit. Another company, Smartmatic --- which has only one contract in the U.S. (here in Los Angeles County, not in any of the battleground states) --- was similarly targeted by Team Trump's Big Lie, as they re-imagined a BRAD BLOG exclusive from 2010 to support their evidence-free claims. They have recently sued Fox "News" [PDF], several of their hosts, as well as Giuliani and Powell for $3.7 billion. We suspect there are still more such suits to come.

Then, as Texas finally begins to thaw out from a massive winter storm that knocked out power and water to millions in the state last week (thanks to the Lone Star State's deregulated system that left it up to private power utilities to decide if they wished to winterize their systems --- they held onto their profits instead, go figure!), it is, once again, the most poor and disenfranchised minority communities who are likely to have the most difficult time recovering. As is too often the case after such disasters, communities of color are likely to pay the biggest price for it.

We're joined today by DR. ROBERT BULLARD, Distinguished Professor at Texas Southern University, author of some 18 books, co-chair of the National Black Environmental Justice Network, and known as the "Father of Environmental Justice". Bullard himself was a victim of last week's power failures in Houston for several days.

"Texas prides itself on being the Lone Star State," he tells me. "But this severe weather event and the power outages and loss of water, has shown us that we are the ALONE Star State. Our energy policy of go it alone, keep the federal government out, doesn't make any sense. And it's never made any sense. We need to re-join the United States [and] rejoin the grid."

"They planned it on the cheap. These [Texas] officials had the nerve, they had the gall to say 'Oh, it's the windmills causing the problem.' In Texas, we have privatized the energy system to the point where people gambled --- they gambled and lost," he says.

Bullard explains the concept of "Environmental Justice" in layman's terms for us, as the need to overcome decades of redlining and poverty that has resulted in a disproportionate impact on minority communities when it comes to pollution, natural disasters and climate change itself. We discuss the "cascading threats that are pushed into certain communities. That's the double whammy, the triple whammy --- what the medical folks call 'co-morbidity', but we call it 'You get hit with everything damn thing!'" He adds: "How these things intersect, it means that these communities are limited when the lights go out, limited in terms of their ability to bounce back. This, for communities that are struggling with a challenge, with a disaster, and the disaster that will unfold when they get these big bills, when the shutoffs come."

On the positive side, however, on the same day that Joe Biden's Attorney General-designate Merrick Garland cited "communities of color and other minorities [who do not have equal justice and] bear the brunt caused by pandemic, pollution and climate change," during his Senate confirmation hearing, Bullard is optimistic. He says he is encouraged by the new Biden Administration's promises to tackle systemic racism and the need for environmental justice.  "These issues were on the ballot in November and we won," Bullard asserts. "We won on policies and platforms that brings justice at the center. Not a footnote, but a headline.  Environmental justice, climate justice, economic justice, racial justice, energy justice, health justice. JUSTICE is the headline"...

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On the rising threat of rightwing domestic terror; Accountability for Trump/GOP and crucial democracy reform...
By Desi Doyen on 2/19/2021 3:37pm PT  

We're off today, but we've got a BradCast 'RECOUNTED' for your listening pleasure, with two excellent recent interviews that you may have missed --- or just need to hear again. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

We'll be back LIVE soon!

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Guest: Margot Paez, formerly of 'BradCast' and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Also: TX crisis spikes oil, gas prices; Sparks int'l ire...
By Brad Friedman on 2/18/2021 6:33pm PT  

Well, now things are just getting ridiculous. But at least we have a nice reminder on today's BradCast that, despite all of the idiocy of the past four years or so, the U.S. can still do great and wondrous things. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, with that other guy finally out of our White House, Fox "News" is quickly returning to form as the GOP's go-to corporate propaganda mouthpiece.  It took no time at all for them this week to turn on the fossil fuel industry after-burners to pretend that "windmills" --- not the predictably disastrous Texas deregulation and privatization of the state's fossil fuel industry --- were the cause for widespread blackouts and water outages across the state amid a nearly week-long winter cold snap. The Lone Star State's deadly failure to ensure reliable power to millions of its residents amid a deep freeze as oil and gas wells, pipelines, power plants and refineries froze up for lack of winterization, led its Republican Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday try and block contracted gas shipments out of state. That has angered Mexico, among others, as they're now also facing power outages thanks to Texas. But the shortage has spiked prices for the oil and gas industry after recent record lows. So..."free market" accomplished! Sorry about all the death and destruction.

In related news, after helping to incite the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and embarrassing himself with a tweet that attacked California last summer for rolling blackouts to keep the power on during a heat wave, Texas' buffoonish junior Senator Ted Cruz is now reaping a whirlwind after trying escape the crisis in his own home state with a trip to sunny Cancun!  But after he got caught on the way out, things didn't go well for him today. That, just days after an interview with a San Antonio-based radio host in which he advised people to stay home through this week's series of dangerous storms. "Don’t risk it,” Cruz hypocritically advised. “Keep your family safe, and just stay home and hug your kids.” Or...take them to Cancun, suckers!

With idiocy like this at home (and there was much more we didn't have time for), is it any wonder that we welcomed a chance today to check out what was happening elsewhere in the universe?

As luck would have it, there is quite a bit going on elsewhere, especially on Mars today, where NASA's latest rover, Perseverance, stuck its landing on the Red Planet after years of development, more than six months of travel over 300,000 miles and "7 minutes of terror" during its complicated landing sequence. It was no easy feat for NASA's largest and heaviest rover to date, weighing in about a ton and the size of an SUV. But it brought a well-deserved sigh of relief and huge cheers to Mission Control and the folks at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) just before airtime today, for those who made it happen.

One of them joins us on today's show, and she may be familiar to long time listeners. Our former Super-Duper Associate Producer MARGOT PAEZ left us some years ago (shamefully!) to work at JPL in Pasadena, where she spent several years on the team who developed the SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals) instrument, one of several key tools central to "Percy's" mission of hunting for microbial life that may once have inhabited Mars. Its the first such mission to do so, and will help, among other things, to both send back rock core samples from the planet (though it may take about 10 years to get those samples back to Earth once they find what they're looking for) and to run a number of important tests to help determine if humans can safely survive the radiation in the planet's thin atmosphere.

"So, yeah, I was crying when I saw it made it safely," our old friend Paez explains on today's show, "because it meant that all this hard work paid off and now we can start doing the really fun stuff, which is the science." She describes that science, the decades long process it takes to make it all happen, and speaks to the other two missions --- one from China and another from the United Arab Emirates --- which have also now arrived at about the same time.

As a PhD candidate at George Tech, where she researches climate modeling and water resources with respect to climate change adaptation and mitigation, Paez also speaks today to the criticism from climate activists like Greta Thunberg, who would prefer we spend our limited resources on saving this planet from ruin before worrying about travel to others. As a years-long political activist, JPL worker and now climate change expert, Paez has some clarifying thoughts on all of the above in response to Thunberg and other critics of both private and public space travel.

For what it's worth, it's kinda nice to step off of this messed up planet for a short time today!

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for a special coverage edition of our Green News Report on the deadly power crisis in Texas, and the GOP wingnuttery that both helped to cause it and is now being employed to avoid all accountability for it...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Ari Berman of Mother Jones; Also: TX Repubs step on the gas to blame green energy for their own fossil fueled freeze failure; Radio propagandist Rush Limbaugh is dead, but his national poison lives on...
By Brad Friedman on 2/17/2021 6:50pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Talk radio con-man Rush Limbaugh may now be dead, but his toxic legacy lives on in virtually every element of the nation's poisoned body politic. The consequences are all too apparent even today amid the deadly winter storm that has knocked out power across Texas and the avalanche of new voter suppression laws being pushed by Republicans following their loss of the White House in 2020. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

First up today, after three decades of brainwashing a generation of Americans by dominating the nation's public airwaves with far-right, racist, misogynistic, extremist propaganda and lies, Limbaugh is dead from lung cancer at the age of 70.  Using his considerable broadcasting skills to pump dishonest evil into the brains of gullible listeners, he endangered the nation and the planet itself by scamming an entire segment of the populace to the theoretical benefit of the Republican Party that he may have helped to ultimately destroy. I've got a few thoughts on that today.

Next, the influence of Limbaugh reverberates throughout the crisis facing millions of Texans  who are, right now, continuing to face freezing conditions without power (and water in some cases) for days, thanks to the 1999 deregulation of the power grid in Texas by GOP lawmakers who put corporate profit above the general welfare of their own residents. Rather than accept personal responsibility for their failures, Texas Republicans and the propagandists who support them on outlets like Fox "News", have been going full throttle over the past two days to somehow (falsely) blame the state's nascent wind energy industry for the widespread outages. That, even though wind supplies, at most, about 20 percent of the Lone Star State's energy needs, while thermal sources, like natural gas, coal and nuclear --- which all failed due to lack of winterization (thanks to lack of state regulation) --- were, by far, the biggest source of failure.

But don't tell that to Ditto-Heads like the now-former Mayor of Colorado City, TX, Tim Boyd, who railed at his own constituents seeking help without heat or water for days. "No one owes you or your [sic] family anything; nor is it the local governments [sic] responsibility to support you during trying times like this! Sink or swim, it’s your choice!,"  he raged on Facebook in response to members of the community wondering if warming shelters would be opened or how firefighters could respond with the town's water system shut down. "This is sadly a product of a socialist government where they feed people to believe that the FEW work and others will become dependent for handouts," the Mayor said in words that would have been music to Limbaugh's deaf ears. "Bottom line, quit crying and looking for a handout! Get off your ass and take care of your own family!"

Of course, even the state's Republican Governor Greg Abbott appeared to admit on Twitter on Monday that the problem was "natural gas and coal generators" that had been "frozen", before somehow going on to blame the non-existent Green New Deal for Texas' woes by the time he appeared on the show of Limbaugh's fellow propagandist Sean Hannity on Fox "News" Tuesday night.

So, how and when can these corrupt, corporate-socialists finally be voted out of office? It may not be easy given that, as NYU's Brennan Center for Justice recently reported [emphasis iin original]: "In a backlash to historic voter turnout in the 2020 general election, and grounded in a rash of baseless and racist allegations of voter fraud and election irregularities, legislators have introduced well over four times the number of bills to restrict voting access as compared to roughly this time last year. Thirty-three states have introduced, prefiled, or carried over 165 restrictive bills this year (as compared to 35 such bills in fifteen states on February 3, 2020)."

We're joined today by Mother Jones' senior reporter and voting rights journalist ARI BERMAN, author of the landmark 2016 book, Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America, to discuss what he characterizes as "an avalanche of new laws" amounting to "the most concerted attempts to roll back voting rights since the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965."

Berman explains the new flood of bills by GOP lawmakers to make voting more difficult --- for certain voters --- in battleground states like Georgia, Pennsylvania, Arizona and many others, where measures are being pushed to end no-excuse absentee voting and automatic voter registration, among other previously established rights. In Arizona, more than 40 such schemes have been proposed by Republicans, including one that Berman says would "allow the legislature to just nullify the will of the voters and appoint their own Presidential electors anytime they want. It basically would make the Presidential election completely irrelevant, in terms of what the voters actually voted for."

These efforts all come in the wake of Donald Trump's evidence-free claims of "massive voter fraud" in the 2020 election. In many instances, says Berman, GOP state legislators are even attempting to reverse expansions to the franchise that they themselves had recently adopted and boasted about at the time. "The Republican Party is now trying to weaponize those bogus fraud claims, to lay the groundwork for getting rid of the system that they wrote, instituted and took advantage of, until it didn't benefit them anymore," he tells me.

We also discuss how a number of these new restrictions may be unstoppable at the state level and would require Democratic efforts at the federal level --- such as H.R.1 (the "For the People Act") and H.R.4 (the "John Lewis Voting Rights Act") --- in order to prevent them from suppressing the vote in both 2022 and 2024. Of course, to pass those federal laws, Democrats in the U.S. Senate will almost certainly have to do away with the undemocratic filibuster, since Berman suggests it's inconceivable that 10 Senate Republicans would join the effort to ensure equal and fair voting rights to all Americans.

So, yes, we also discuss what might be needed to overcome Democratic objections to ending the "Jim Crow relic" filibuster by Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, both of whom have vowed to keep it in place. "This is a big fight brewing," Berman argues, along with a few suggestions as to how this could play out. "But right now we're seeing an existential threat to democracy and also a very real threat to the power of the Democratic Party.  At some point, they're going to have to choose."

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Guest: Constitutional law expert John Bonifaz of Free Speech for People; Also: Fossil fuel failure freezes out TX grid during deadly winter storm...
By Brad Friedman on 2/16/2021 6:47pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Impeachment may be broken, but accountability is still coming. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of summary.]

But, first up: Record low temperatures continued to batter dozens of states and knock out power to millions of customers in several of them. But it is residents of the great state of Texas who are paying the highest price for their government's utter failure to keep the lights...and the heat...and the water on...throughout this foreseeable and deadly cold snap. No, it's not the renewable energy sources like wind power that has failed --- as Fox "News" is frantically misinforming their viewers today --- it's the fossil fuel industry and the state's disastrously unregulated and privatized power infrastructure that has helped create the mess in Texas. Our own Desi Doyen explains.

Then, in a refreshing bit of encouraging news today, Congressman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) has filed a civil federal lawsuit against Donald Trump in response to the deadly attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, incited by the disgraced former President. The suit, filed on Thompson's behalf by the NAACP on Tuesday, also names Rudy Giuliani and the rightwing extremist groups Proud Boys and Oath Keepers as defendants. It seeks both punitive and compensatory damages for the assault on Thompson's place of work that left the 72-year old Chair of the House Homeland Security Committee hiding on the floor of the U.S. House for hours and in dangerously close contact with colleagues, two of whom tested positive for COVID in the days that followed. The complaint is believed likely just the first of a potential wave of similar litigation in response to the unprecedented attack on the Capitol which killed at least five people, and which a bipartisan 57-43 majority of U.S. Senators over the weekend at his Impeachment Trial found Trump guilty of having incited.

But guilty or not, the Impeachment process, for a second time in the Trump Presidency, ultimately fell short of the high Constitutional bar of a two-thirds vote needed for conviction, begging the question as to whether the founders misjudged what might be needed by Congress to hold a scofflaw President to account.

We're joined today once again by Constitutional legal scholar JOHN BONIFAZ, Co-Founder and President of the non-partisan governmental accountability group Free Speech for People, and co-author of the 2018 book The Constitution Demands It: The Case for the Impeachment of Donald Trump.

Our wide-ranging conversation on various paths towards accountability for the 45th President includes discussion of Rep. Thompson's lawsuit; Section 3 of the 14th Amendment and how it might be invoked to prevent Trump from running for future office; and as well as criminal statutes which could be invoked against Trump under the leadership of Joe Biden's Attorney General-designate Merrick Garland. On the day after the January 6 insurrection, FSFP joined a coalition of groups calling for Garland to stand up a task force upon his confirmation to pull together all of the disparate investigations into the matter.

Central to any such accountability, however, Bonifaz argues today, is the need for an important reform in the U.S. Senate and accountability for members who serve both there and in the U.S. House. He argues that the failure to convict Trump at his second Impeachment Trial "demonstrates that those who are sworn to take the oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution in the U.S. Senate are not up to the task --- at least for the 43 members of the Sedition Caucus, who are every bit as guilty as Donald Trump for voting to acquit him despite the overwhelming evidence that Donald Trump incited this insurrection and was guilty as charged."

He faults "those in power who are not abiding by their oaths" who have allowed Presidents to "assume the powers of a king". To begin reform of Congress, Bonifaz explains, we must start with reform of our electoral system as Democrats have proposed in their critical H.R.1. and S1 bills called the "For the People Act". But to see that through Congress --- and so many other necessary reforms --- we will have to do away with the legislative filibuster, he says.

"The filibuster, as we know, requires a 60 percent majority in the U.S. Senate for anything to pass, and that's contrary to any basic principle of small-d democracy," Bonifaz tells me. "That's a first order of business for those in the U.S. Senate and, frankly, those in the White House who are pledging to protect and defend our democracy. We need to eliminate the filibuster, and we need get on to the business of responding to these voter suppression efforts throughout the country that we now see in state legislatures to try to roll us back and disenfranchise millions of voters."

Of course, Democrats could do that without Republicans at all, with their newly-won Senate majority, but for Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona who have each pledged to protect the filibuster. Even those obstacles however, as Bonifaz explains, are not insurmountable if pressure is applied by Democratic leadership in the Senate and the White House...and if pressure is applied by we, the people on them to do so.

With the "Jim Crow relic" filibuster out of the way, says Bonifaz, the Senate would also be able to invoke Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to prevent Trump from being allowed to hold federal office in the future. The post-Civil War Amendment blocks those who have engaged in rebellion or insurrection against the U.S. Government from becoming candidates for public office. "This is a critical next step needed to ensure that this lawless ex-President is disqualified from running for office again," Bonifaz asserts, detailing how the provision would work with a simple resolution adopted by both the Senate and House.

I hope you tune in for this important conversation today as the quest for accountability continues to continue on The BradCast!

Finally, we close somewhere near where we began, with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report focused on the winter storm now battering dozens of U.S. states and the utter failure of Texas lawmakers (and those in other states) to properly harden our critical infrastructure for a 21st century climate changed world...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Brutal winter storm locks down TX, much of nation; Biden, Dems push ahead with progressive agenda; Callers ring in on Impeachment verdict and what must come next for disgraced former President...
By Brad Friedman on 2/15/2021 6:23pm PT  

Donald Trump was found guilty by a huge, bipartisan 57 to 43 verdict in the U.S. Senate of having incited the deadly, attempted January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. On discuss on today's BradCast, 7 Republican Senators joined all of the Democrats in that majority finding on Saturday, affirming that Trump attempted to overthrow the U.S. Government and the 2020 Presidential election. Nonetheless, due to the U.S. Constitution's requirement that a two-thirds vote of the Senate is needed to secure a conviction under the rules for Impeachment, our disgraced former President was "acquitted" of the charge he was found guilty of during his second Senate Impeachment Trial. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

We discuss what happened on Saturday in detail today, and take a bunch of calls from listeners on the matter. But first up, we cover the catastrophic winter storm --- featuring crippling snow, record cold and power outages for millions, particularly in Texas --- amid the ongoing COVID pandemic and attempt to distribute vaccinations to tens of millions of Americans. Native Texan Desi Doyen, co-host of our Green News Report, joins us to explain what's going on and why scientists tell us that it is happening.

Also, even while still on the Trump Accountability beat (as we've previously noted, this is going to take a while), we cover a bit of Biden Administration news today, including the quiet weekend withdrawal of Trump-era work requirements for Medicaid, as pushed and allowed to some states by the previous Administration, and the re-opening of the Healthcare.gov exchange to accommodate new "ObamaCare" signups during massive unemployment wrought by the pandemic. That, as the very popular American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief and stimulus package, moves toward passage with or without Republican support in the Senate and (thanks to pushback from the House Progressive Caucus) without the potential cuts to the promised $1,400 relief checks which Republicans and some of the more conservative Democrats were previously considering.

Though an occasional kick to the head is required, it does seem like --- at least for now --- Democrats are "getting it" when it comes to the nation's bipartisan desire for big and bold action from lawmakers in D.C. Even conservative Democratic Rep. Richie Neal, Chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, is now calling for new, monthly cash payments totaling $3,600 per year for every child under age 6, and $3,000 for children from 6 to 17. We hope Dems continue to offer the progressive policy the country yearns for, and we're glad to see progressives pushing Democrats when they need to.

Of course, Democrats have yet to learn all of the lessons they need to, as revealed by the Saturday snafu when House Impeachment Managers easily won a bipartisan vote to call witnesses at Trump's second Senate Impeachment Trial, only to cave shortly thereafter. There were arguably legitimate reasons to not call witnesses --- even if we would have preferred to see that happen. But to get everyone's hopes up, only to dash them --- without figuring out the concerns in advance --- was an inexcusable self own.

Nonetheless, Democrats won an historic 57-43 majority in the conviction votes, with an unheard of seven Senators from the opposing party joining all of the Democrats and independents in finding Trump guilty. Even the snake Mitch McConnell was forced to admit that, yes, Trump incited the violence at the Capitol. Though he still voted "not guilty", falsely and ridiculously claiming that it was unconstitutional to hold a trial after the impeached Executive Branch official was already out of office. His claims were even more grotesquely absurd given that he was the one that prevented the trial from happening while Trump was still in office.

So, what happens next? Will Trump ever face real accountability for his many crimes, including an attempt to overthrow the U.S. Government itself? If so, how, when and by whom? (Our own Ernie Canning has a few ideas today.) We discuss and open up the phone lines today to listeners to discuss that and other related matters on today's lively BradCast. Enjoy!

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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