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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Dems' Shutdown Letdown: 'BradCast' 1/22/18
Callers ring in on that and the weekend's massive Women's Marches; Also, PA's U.S. House maps struck down by state Supreme Court, natural gas rig explodes in OK...
Sunday Toons of the 'Doctor's Exam' Moment
PDiddie's offers a clean bill of health for the nation's political cartoonists, if nothing else, in this week's toon collection...
'We Are in a Reverse Democracy Right Now'': 'BradCast' 1/19/2018
Guest: Barbara Arnwine of the new Nat'l Commission for Voter Justice; Also: Shutdown politics; 'Wicked' SCOTUS; Criminal candidates, and much more!...
Our Way or the Kids Get It!: 'BradCast' 1/18/18
The return of GOP government by hostage taking. Plus: Our own 'Fake News' awards! (Can you guess the winner?); 2017 breaks heat records; and much more...
'Green News Report' 1/18/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Burning oil tanker sinks off China coast; Warmer temps damaging coral, turtles; Ocean dead zones dramatically expanding; PLUS: Big shift to electric cards at Detroit Auto Show...
Previous GNRs: 1/11/18 - 1/9/18 - Archives...
Dems Help Trump Spy on All Americans Without Warrant: 'BradCast' 1/17/18
Guest: Elizabeth Goitein of Brennan Center; Also: Dems flip WI seat; Sex scandals; Mass NPS resignation...
'Reshuffling the Decks' on Guns, Marijuana, Immigration: 'BradCast' 1/16/18
Guest: Mike Liszewski of Drug Policy Alliance; Also: Goodbye, Chris Christie and other encouraging news...
Sunday Toons of the $h!thole Moment
And so now it's come to this. And on Martin Luther King Day weekend of all times. PDiddie's latest toon collection...
Trump is a Symptom, Not the Disease: 'BradCast' 1/12/18
In the wake of the President of the United States' reported 'shithole countries' comment, the GOP's toxic, racist policies are laid bare in the U.S. and across the globe...
More White Supremacist Neo-Nazi Domestic Terror Ignored by Trump, Congress, Media: 'BradCast' 1/11/18
Guest: HuffPo's Ryan Reilly; House re-ups 702, Trump clueless, calls Haiti, Africa 'shitholes'
'Green News Report' 1/11/18
Record rain, mudslides in CA after record fires; Trump reverses on offshore drilling for FL; PLUS: NYC sues oil industry, divests over climate change damage...
Chaos Reigns: 'BradCast' 1/10/18
DACA scheme blocked; Off-shore drilling reversed; CA's latest disaster; VA's gamed elections; NC's gamed Congressional maps; much more...
Battling 'Big Lies' in 'Trump Country' with Facts and Sustainable Farming in IA: 'BradCast' 1/9/18
Guest: Farmer John Gilbert; Also: Detente in Korea; Arpaio returns; Landmark NC ruling...
'Green News Report' 1/9/18
2017 shatters US record for costliest weather disasters; Oil tanker on fire off China; Opposition to Trump expansion of offshore drilling; PLUS: Norway all in on e-cars...
NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
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...

Callers ring in on that and the weekend's massive Women's Marches; Also, PA's U.S. House maps struck down, natgas rig explodes in OK...
By Brad Friedman on 1/22/2018 6:07pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Trying to make sense of the Senate Democrats' decision on Monday to vote in favor of re-opening the federal government, following Friday's vote that resulted in a short shutdown over the weekend. Callers ring in on that today, the Women's March over the weekend, and a number of other late breaking news items. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Democrats in the U.S. Senate appear to have folded in their demand that Republicans protect 800,000 "Dreamers" in a short-term spending bill. In the bargain, they voted to re-open the federal Government on Monday, after a nearly identical bill was blocked from passage on Friday, resulting in a two-day shutdown of the federal government. The difference between Monday's vote and Friday's? A three week Continuing Resolution to fund the government, instead of a four week extension, and a promise (of sorts) from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to allow a vote on a measure to protect those 800,000 children of immigrants brought here years ago through no fault of their own, but who are now facing deportation beginning on March 5, following Donald Trump ending the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

On today's show we discuss the politics around all of this, whether Democrats were right to give in for now, despite polls suggesting the public by and large blamed Republicans for the standoff, the angry progressives and immigration advocates who are furious about it, and whether there's a chance in hell that Republicans will allow a real fix to DACA without being forced to do so through a full and extended government shutdown.

We take calls from listeners today on all of that, on the huge and absurdly under-covered Women's Marches held over the weekend in hundreds of cities, where anywhere from 1.3 to 2.1 million turned out --- not that you would know it from the lack of media coverage.

Also on today's show: A natural gas rig explodes in Oklahoma and Pennsylvania's Supreme Court orders the Republican-controlled state legislature to redraw gerrymandered U.S. House maps in time for the 2018 primaries which begin in weeks in the Keystone State. The PA ruling follows similar ones by courts in Wisconsin, Texas, North Carolina, Florida and elsewhere, finding Republicans unconstitutionally discriminated against non-Republican voters in U.S. House and state legislative maps drawn after the 2010 census. Most of the rulings in those states, to date, have been delayed by the Republican's stolen U.S. Supreme Court, likely allowing the worst of the gerrymandering to continue into the crucial 2018 mid-term elections...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: Barbara Arnwine of the new Nat'l Commission for Voter Justice...
By Brad Friedman on 1/19/2018 6:50pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we're still fighting for the right to vote and to have that vote counted, 60 years after MLK's "Give Us the Ballot" speech, 50 years after the passage of the hard-won Voting Rights Act, 4 years after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted it, and one day after what my guest today describes as a "really wicked decision" by the Court on Thursday to set aside a landmark ruling on gerrymandering that was meant to finally correct a grave injustice to voters in 2018. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

With Republicans in the U.S. House, on Thursday, having passed a short-term stopgap spending bill to keep the U.S. Government from shutting down beginning on Friday night at midnight, Republicans in the U.S. Senate are still racing to figure out how to overcome a filibuster of the same bill. The measure includes support for kids that rely on the currently-expired Children's Healthcare Insurance Program (CHIP), but leaves some 800,000 kids of immigrants who came here with their parents still facing deportation as early as March, after Trump ended Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. So, once again, rather than simply including a fix to DACA, Republicans are using children as human shields to try and force Democrats to vote with them for a short-term bill to avoid a shutdown of the federal government. It would be the first such shutdown in U.S. history while the House, Senate and White House are all controlled by the same party.

Sick of this sort of BS? If so, you can theoretically do something about it this year at the ballot box. But the GOP's stolen U.S. Supreme Court isn't making it easy. On Thursday, SCOTUS stayed a landmark ruling by a lower federal court panel that had ordered North Carolina to immediately redraw the state's U.S. House district maps, since the Republican majority legislature admitted that they, unconstitutionally, drew them to ensure a Republican advantage. Though it's largely a 50/50 state, NC Republicans hold 10 seats in the U.S. House to the Democrats' 3.

That's just one of the ways that Republicans hope to keep cheating voters this year in order to hang on to power as the mid-terms approach. Another way was through Trump's discredited and now disbanded "Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity", run by the GOP "voter fraud" fraudster and Kansas Sec. of State Kris Kobach. He had hoped to use the Commission to make it harder (for certain people) to vote, but he faced yet another embarrassment in court this week. When Kobach's Commission was originally shut down a week or two ago, there was a cry from voting rights advocates for a national committee to study and call out the real scourge of American democracy: voter suppression.

That call may have been answered this week with the formation of the non-partisan National Commission for Voter Justice, co-chaired by my guest today, BARBARA ARNWINE, former longtime Executive Director of the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and now President and Founder of the Transformative Justice Coalition. Arnwine explains the new Commission's mission, responds to the "wicked" SCOTUS ruling on NC maps and other recent voting rights issues, and details many of the threats to democracy that must be overcome in 2018, more than sixty years after, as she and John Nichols note at The Nation this week, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his landmark "Give Us the Ballot" address on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1957.

"We gotta remember, we are looking at the Roberts Court. This is a man who made his life ambition the evisceration and the weakening of the Voting Rights Act. In fact, if he had had his way, there wouldn't be a Voting Rights Act, as he wrote many, many years ago," Arnwine says in response to the SCOTUS stay on the NC redistricting ruling and a similar one in Texas. "They are fine with these kinds of schemes --- gerrymandering and other devices and tactics that deny people the right to vote --- because they believe in their hearts that the result is fair, it's a result that they want, and it's a result that puts people into power that they favor. And that's wrong."

"We believe that democracy should be for every single voter. That's why we created the National Commission for Voter Justice, because every voter should have the right to be able to vote and to have their vote counted," the animated Arnwine explains. "Democracy should always be about a competition of ideas, a competition of the best candidates, and then the people make their choices. Politicians should never pick who their constituents are. The constituents should pick the politicians. We are in a reverse democracy right now."

It has, sadly, been that way for a while. I recalled today, while prepping for the show, that Arnwine and I were on a National Public Radio show back in 2008, facing off against the notorious GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Hans von Spakovsky, who, I suspect, was very used to getting away with his lies before that show. I also recall Arnwine's testimony to the Baker/Carter Commission on Voting Rights which was a panel created by Republican Party vote suppressors in 2005 to push for Photo ID voting restrictions. In comparison to the Trump/Kobach Commission, however, that panel was blue ribbon! The fight for democracy is never ending, it seems.

"Democracy is never permanent. It requires vigilance. It requires engagement. It requires organizations to monitor, to advocate for it," Arnwine tells me. "But it shouldn't be as bad as it is in the United States. That's the problem. The problem is that even with the fact that you've got to constantly seek it, it shouldn't be this bad. We should not have millions upon millions of voters finding themselves blocked from the polling booth. We shouldn't have three-hour lines. We shouldn't have machinery that everybody knows is worthless."

"But that's why the National Commission for Voter Justice is going to be coming to every area where we can," she says. "We're going to have over 20 hearings around the country, so that we can hear directly from voters what they are encountering, what their experiences are and, more importantly, what some of the solutions are, helping people to advocate for those changes."

Don't miss the full conversation today! It should get you pretty fired up for 2018, if you need any help.

And, finally, speaking of what Republicans are willing to do to get and hang on to power, a disturbing comparison of the dates set for U.S. House Special Elections to fill the seats of two different Congress members who both resigned during the same week last year (there will be a special election to fill the GOP seat in May, but the Dem seat will remain vacant until November), and the four --- count 'em, four --- convicted Republican criminals who have declared their intention to run for seats in the U.S. House and Senate in 2018...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Plus: Our own 'Fake News' awards! And 2017 breaks heat records...
By Brad Friedman on 1/18/2018 5:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast, Republicans have returned to form, via government by hostage taking. Vote our way or the kids get it it! [Audio link to show follows below.]

The chaos in Congress, as Republicans race to come up with a plan to avoid a Government shutdown this weekend, echoes what happened just last week as they they tried to pass a reauthorization and extension of the FISA Amendment Act in the U.S. House. Though GOP leadership and the White House had long lobbied for the reauthorization, Donald Trump unleashed chaos when he tweeted against his own bill. That legislation, which allows for warrantless surveillance of emails and phone calls by all Americans, ultimately passed after Paul Ryan called the President to explain it, and enough Democrats came on board to help them in the House. (It passed today, again with the help of Democrats in the Senate, and now heads to Trump's desk to be signed.)

On Thursday, as Congressional Republicans attempted to pass a short-term spending bill to keep the government open --- after a long-term deal was plunged into chaos when Trump refused a deal that included immigrants from "shithole countries" --- Trump did it again. He tweeted against a GOP stopgap plan which includes reauthorization of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The reauthorization, which both helps sick kids and saves the government billions of dollars, was included by Republicans in hopes of enticing Democrats to help them avoid a full government shutdown as of midnight Friday. Most Dems don't seem to be buying it --- despite Ryan, once again, calling the White House to get Trump back on board --- as they appear unwilling to help Republicans out of this jam without the inclusion of a fix to the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Republicans refuse to include a fix to DACA, the Obama-era protection against deportation of some 800,000 children of immigrants, which Trump reversed, in their short-term measure. Dems say they won't support such a bill unless DACA is included. In other words, the children helped by both CHIP and DACA are now being held as hostages by the Republican Party. The measure squeaked by tonight in the U.S. House, but passage in the Senate, where 60 votes are needed to overcome a filibuster, is far from certain.

Then, after Donald Trump's fake "Fake News" awards face plant on Wednesday night, we have a few real "Fake News" awards to offer, based on actual facts, as we reach the end of Trump's agonizingly long first year in office this weekend.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with bad news out of China, good news out of the Detroit Auto Show (and even from McDonald's), and some late breaking news from NOAA and NASA on the record heat of 2017, as man-made global warming continues apace in the new year...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Elizabeth Goitein of Brennan Center; Also: Dems flip a GOP seat in WI; Sex scandals go overlooked; Mass resignation at Nat'l Park Service...
By Brad Friedman on 1/17/2018 6:21pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Donald Trump and his Great American Shitshow continues today, though he has now received a very helpful hand from Congressional Democrats, for reasons that may beggar the imagination. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up today, a quick word on the allegations regarding $130k in hush money said, by the Wall Street Journal, to have been paid by Donald Trump to a porn star just before the 2016 election, reportedly to hide a sexual liaison during his marriage with the now-First Lady, and on the sordid sex and blackmail scandal now roiling Missouri's new "family values" Republican governor, Eric Greitens. In normal times, of course, both stories would be huge news everywhere and we'd be discussing impeachment and/or resignation of both men. These days, however, each scandal is barely breaking the national news radar.

Then, more encouraging election news for Democrats this week in Tuesday's special elections around the country, with Dems flipping another long-held Republican seat in a deeply "red' area, this time in the Wisconsin State Senate. The results seem to be freaking out the state's controversial GOP Governor Scott Walker in advance of his own re-election contest later this year and signals a possible Dem takeover of the state Senate in advance of 2020 redistricting!

Next, Congress is on the verge of reauthorizing a warrantless mass surveillance program that civil libertarians on the right and left have long opposed and characterize as a blatant violation of the U.S. Constitution's 4th Amendment privacy protections against unwarranted search and seizure. Last week, after Trump made it clear he had no idea what Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act actually was --- despite his administrations' long time lobbying of Congress to reauthorize and, indeed, expand it, it for another 6 years --- Republicans in the U.S. House passed it with the help of several Democrats (including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi).

This week in the U.S. Senate, a bi-partisan group lead by Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) fell one vote shy of blocking the measure through a filibuster. So it now appears the legislation will clear both houses and sent to Trump for his signature.

We're joined today by ELIZABETH GOITEIN, former Dept. of Justice attorney, now co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at NYU's Brennan Center for Justice, to explain Section 702, the efforts to lobby against its reauthorization, and why it is that many Congressional Democrats are willing to join Republicans in granting the Trump Administration's NSA, DHS, FBI, DOJ, CIA, etc., extraordinary new powers to secretly spy on every American citizen's phone calls and emails without warrant, due diligence or even probable cause.

While the legislation was "driven primarily by Republican leadership," she says, there were "enough Tea Party style Republicans who have really rallied in support of greater privacy protections" that some marginal reforms were added. Though, she explains, they aren't really reforms at all, and the entire dangerous package could not have moved forward had Dems stuck together in opposition.

"It's a failure of Democratic leadership," Goitein tells me. "At the last minute, [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer said he would vote no on cloture [to end the filibuster] --- but he hedged that and said, 'Amendments should be in order and we should have the chance to look at amendments, but the bill itself is not that bad, it makes improvements to the law'. Which is not true. It actually takes the law backwards. Minority Leader Pelosi in the House did even more damage...coming out in support of the bill and opposing the amendment that would have made these improvement. And then a whole bunch of Democrats went along with her."

Goitein argues "there was a full court press by intelligence officials" to pass this measure. So, even Trump's cluelessness about it was unable to prevent it from moving forward, even as it allows for the emails of two American citizens speaking to each other --- with no foreign target in the mix --- to be indexed, searched and read by the FBI without an order from any court. She explains the horrible details in depth on today's show, and why it has been so difficult to challenge this provision in a court of law.

Finally, nearly every member of the bipartisan National Park Service Advisory Board has resigned en masse this week, citing the Interior Department and its Secretary Ryan Zinke's failure to hold any meetings with the board, as required by law, during the entire first year of Trump's Presidency. The Administration's response to the mass resignation today is almost as disturbing, if not more so, than the resignation itself.

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Mike Liszewski of Drug Policy Alliance; Also: Goodbye, Chris Christie and other encouraging news from the states...
By Brad Friedman on 1/16/2018 5:39pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the consequences of elections, from D.C. on immigration, to VA and NJ on gun safety legislation, and across both D.C. and dozens of states when it comes to marijuana policy under Trump's Attorney General. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

The White House, lawmakers and corporate media continue to squabble today over Donald Trump's racist and reportedly vulgar slur of black majority nations as either "shitholes" or "shithouses" during a bipartisan meeting on immigration last week, even as his Departments of Justice and Homeland Security issued a new and misleading report on terrorism that downplays the far greater threat of domestic attacks by homegrown white Americans, in favor of a focus on foreign-born terrorists.

In the meantime, as the White House and Congress attempt to strike a government spending deal that includes protections for DACA recipients in time to avoid a government shutdown at the end of this week, a changing of the guards in both New Jersey and Virginia following last November's elections is taking place and already reshuffling public policy.

NJ's wildly unpopular Republican Gov. Chris Christie was finally replaced on Tuesday by the new Democratic Governor Phil Murphy, one day after Christie finally signed a law that will ban deadly bumpstock devices, like those used to kill 58 people and wound hundreds of others in minutes in Las Vegas last year, in the Garden State. (To his discredit, he had little choice, as the legislation passed both state chambers with zero votes opposing it.)

At the same time, in VA, where Republicans managed to barely hang on to majorities in the state legislature, thanks to some gaming of several House races and of legislative district maps across the state (allowing them to retain control despite losing statewide by a 55% to 45% margin), the GOP's majority control in the state Senate resulted in the gutting of most of the gun safety agenda on which that state's new Democratic Governor Ralph Northam ran and won by a landslide.

Then, we head back to D.C., where Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced after the turn of the new year that the DoJ was reversing Obama-era enforcement guidance on federal law, in order to crack down on states where marijuana has been made legal for medicinal and/or recreational use after decades of prohibition.

As Drug Policy Alliance advisor and marijuana legislation lobbyist MIKE LISZEWSKI joins us to explain, the new DoJ guidance, rolling back the so-called "Cole Memo" from the Obama years, has not gone over well, even with a number of Republican lawmakers, particularly those from cannabis-friendly states where they have seen a dramatic rise in tax revenue thanks to new policies adopted by voters and state lawmakers.

"The Cole Memo was just guidance, it was never binding. But by removing it, Sessions has really given the green light to US Attorneys throughout the country to say, if you want to prosecute against state marijuana conduct you have our backing," Liszewski tells me, before arguing that there is no need for such policy, given that state laws, where pot has been legalized, are already very tough. "If someone was using a state marijuana law to shield some sort of bad activity, they're clearly in violation of state law. There's so much oversight, you're likely going to get caught rather quickly. So there's really no need for additional federal prosecution. It's really addressing a concern that doesn't actually exist --- unless you have some hysterical views about marijuana."

Sessions, of course, famously has views. Last year, for example, he famously stated that marijuana was "only slightly less awful" than heroin. Liszewski breaks down the DoJ's announced change in prosecutorial guidance and the effect it is likely to have (if any) in pro-cannabis states where, he says, it has "turned out to be wonderful for generating state tax revenue...in terms of the money it's pulling in, but also the law enforcement resources, the jail resources, the court resources, that don't have to go into prosecuting low-level marijuana cases."

We also discuss how Congress may still be able to move forward on drug policy under an Attorney General who is an avowed enemy of pot users and a President who claims to favor states' rights on the matter. Congress, Liszewski argues, is close to having the votes to end prohibition at the federal level all together, if it doesn't have those votes already. But, he says, thanks to a few "old guard" Committee Chairs in Congress, it may take a full reshuffling of the deck in the 2018 mid-term elections to see it actually happen.

"The 2018 elections are going to be so crucial to the future of marijuana reform," he says. "Because whether it's a shift in which party controls each chamber, or if it's just voting out the old guard and getting some new Republicans in, either way would be helpful towards ending federal marijuana prohibition."

"It would be very, very difficult to get the genie back in the bottle at this point," Liszewski adds, "especially seeing a good number of Republicans as well as states continuing to move forward right after the Sessions announcement. It really shows that Sessions is alone on an island with this and has very few supporters. I think the writing is on the wall."

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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In wake of President's reported 'shithole countries' comment, the GOP's toxic, racist policies are laid bare in the U.S. and across the globe...
By Brad Friedman on 1/12/2018 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Buckle up, and maybe take a few pre-emptive antibiotics just for safety. [Audio link to show follows below.]

We begin with a few responses to the racist President of the United States Donald Trump's reported description of Haiti, El Salvador and Africa nations as "shithole countries". As a measure of just how appalling the comments were, we actually declare George W. Bush no longer the "Worst President Ever", before turning to outraged responses from right-wingers Glenn Beck and Frank Luntz, of all people, to help underscore both how offensive and, frankly, inaccurate Trump's comments were.

But, as several have noted, while Trump's remarks are disturbing, the fact that his racism is embodied within his policies --- on immigration, policing, and much more, including voting and elections --- is far more troubling. That racism and dishonesty was on display in the sham Presidential Commission created by Trump, supposedly to root out the millions of illegal votes he falsely claims were cast against him when he lost the popular vote by millions to Hillary Clinton in 2016.

But his bogus Commission, headed up by disgraced GOP "voter fraud" fraudster and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, was abruptly shut down last week after facing an onslaught of legal challenges and finding none of the supposed voter fraud they had set out to highlight. After the Commission's ignominious closure, Kobach claimed he would be advising the Dept. of Homeland Security who, he said, would be taking the Commission's data and preliminary findings to continue the investigation. While worrying a number of voting rights advocates, those claims too have so far proven to be false, according to statements from DHS and legal documents filed by the DoJ in response to lawsuits.

Meanwhile, Trump's poisonous racism and failed Presidency is having ripple effects across the globe, and not just with those nations he is said to have described as "shitholes". The U.N. and the Vatican have now condemned his remarks, he has been forced to cancel a planned trip to Great Britain (which, naturally, he has lied about) and, following the recent resignation of the U.S. Ambassador to Panama who says he can no longer justify serving under this Administration, Trump's newly appointed Ambassador to the Netherlands, Pete Hoekstra, has been mercilessly called out by the Dutch in recent days for multiple lies.

Hoekstra, a former Republican Congressman from Michigan and immigrant from the Netherlands, had recently denied having made wholly discredited racist charges, in 2015, claiming Muslim immigrants were burning Dutch politicians to death and creating so-called "no-go zones" in the Netherlands. After he charged a Dutch journalist with reporting "fake news" for asking him about his fully-documented and video-taped false claims (and then claiming in the same interview he hadn't charged the journalist with reporting "fake news") the new Ambassador's first press conference this week in The Hague did not go well, to say the least. On Friday, Hoekstra was finally forced to admit his 2015 comments were wrong, though his shame appears to not yet be over.

All of which underscores that while Donald Trump may be the highest profile symptom of a very sick Republican Party, he is but a small part of a very widely spread disease that has poisoned his party and has made America anything but "great again" in the eyes of the world...

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Guest: Ryan Reilly of Huff Post; Also: House re-ups dragnet surveillance, Trump has no idea what it is, and calls Haiti and Africa 'shitholes'...
By Brad Friedman on 1/11/2018 6:35pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Who's actually running this disastrous Administration? And why don't they give a damn about terrorism when it's at the hands of white, domestic, neo-Nazis? That question may answer itself. But what's the excuse for Congress and media? [Audio link to full show at end of article.]

First up, today in the U.S. House, Republicans, with the help of a number of Democrats, voted to approve the re-authorization of a sweeping surveillance law --- Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act --- that results in the phone calls and emails of millions of Americans being scooped up for review without cause or court warrant. Civil libertarians on both the Right and Left have been hoping, for years, to end or radically limit the dragnet measure which they say violates Constitutional rights to privacy and against unwarranted search and seizure.

Though the White House has been lobbying for this re-authorization, which must still be approved in the U.S. Senate, a tweet this morning by Donald Trump, while watching Fox "News", harshly criticized the measure. Following that tweet, two hours later, after a call from House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and chaos in the House GOP caucus in response to the tweet, the President took to Twitter again, this time in support of the measure, which he clearly knows nothing about.

Only his later description of Haiti and African nations as "shithole countries", as reportedly uttered during bi-partisan immigration negotiations today with lawmakers, moved the nation's media on to the next Trump embarrassment of the day.

In the meantime, as Trump and Congressional Republicans pretend to be concerned about terrorism and putting "America first", a major terrorism case brought by the Dept. of Justice just before Christmas has gone almost entirely unnoticed by the media, after the DoJ itself failed to even issue a statement on the recent arrest. Why? The obvious reason is that it involves a white supremacist neo-Nazi from Missouri (as opposed to someone with a middle-eastern sounding name) who had amassed an arsenal of deadly weapons in hopes of allegedly "killing black people". But there are several other reasons why the case has largely failed to become much more than a blip on the corporate media and cable news radar, much less be mentioned by either the DoJ or tweeted about by Donald Trump.

We're joined by HuffPost's senior justice reporter RYAN REILLY to discuss the matter today. Reilly has been investigating the disturbing lack of coverage of a case which includes an Amtrak train stopped by the accused 26-year old right-winger, Taylor Michael Wilson, in the dead of night in the middle of rural Nebraska several months ago, before he was arrested, then released on bail for several weeks, before finally being charged on a number of federal terrorism counts before Christmas.

"When I didn't see the story pop up until Friday, I was like wait, how did I miss this? What's going on? Federal prosecutors are charging a white supremacist with terrorism?," Reilly says, explaining why the case in which Wilson was originally charged with "criminal mischief" went unnoticed by media and unreported by law enforcement officials, who are usually eager to get publicity for terrorism cases.

"The broader issue is that it's a demonstration, an illustration of exactly how differently the Justice Department apparatus, and the national security apparatus of the US Government, treats domestic terrorism in comparison to anything that remotely has a sniff of anything related to Islamic terrorism," Reilly tells me. The reasons, for that, above and beyond strictly racism (which is certainly a large part of this), may be more complicated than you think, both statutorily and Constitutionally. None of those reasons, as we also discuss, necessarily excuse the media's apparent lack of interest in such cases, despite the fact that domestic terror remains a far greater threat to Americans than the threat posed by those claiming an association with international terror groups.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on the tragic climate disaster unfolding in Southern California which has, so far, taken 17 lives in the past several days; the Trump Administration's about-face on its recently announced expansion of off-shore drilling (but only for one politically important state); and an important lawsuit filed this week by New York City, along with the promise of divestiture, against major oil companies. The suit could prove to be a serious blow against the fossil fuel industry, and is said to have been filed in response to billions of dollars in climate change-related damages after years of those companies hiding their own scientific knowledge of climate change from the public...

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DACA scheme blocked; Off-shore drilling reversed; CA's latest disaster; VA's gamed elections; NC's gamed Congressional maps; much more...
By Brad Friedman on 1/10/2018 6:21pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we do our best to try and make some sense of the utter chaos, havoc and non-stop breaking news plaguing the nation over the past 24 hours. Wish us luck! [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the stories covered on today's extremely busy program...

  • Late updates on the devastating mud-flows that have, so far, resulted in the deaths of 17 in Southern California's Santa Barbara County, just north of Los Angeles, following a massive rainfall this week in the area just burned by the largest fire in state history;
  • A federal judge has temporarily blocked Donald Trump's attempt to lift the DACA program, which has protected some 800,000 children of immigrants who came here with their parents through no fault of their own;
  • Just days after announcing their intention to open 90% of U.S. coastline to off-shore drilling, Trump's Dept. of Interior chief Ryan Zinke reverses course, but only for the state of Florida, in what appears to be a political (and unlawful) favor to Florida's Governor Rick Scott, who Trump is supporting in a run for the U.S. Senate;

In election and voting news today...

  • Just minutes before Virginia's House of Delegates convened its new legislative session today, Democrat Shelly Simonds conceded her 94th District race against Republican David Yancey without seeking the second "recount" she is entitled to by state law. The first "recount" resulted in a declared "tie" vote and a random drawing, following a very questionable ballot [JPG] counted for the Republican after the initial "recount" had handed the victory to Simonds by a single vote. (She could still ask for a recount as late as the 17th, if she and the Democratic Party wise up and changes their minds. Republicans absolutely would have demanded such a count had the random drawing gone the other way. They would also have prevented her from being seated until that count was completed. Moreover, I share some disturbing comments from a conversation about all of this with the Voter Registrar who oversaw the election in Newport News, VA.)
  • In the 28th District race for Virginia's House, an appeals court denied the Democrats emergency motion for a new election today, after the Republican was declared the winner by 73 votes even though 147 voters were given the wrong ballot on Election Day last November. (With both of those Dems out, the GOP majority in the VA House has shrunk from 66-34 last session, to just 51-49 as of today, despite Democrats winning 55% of the vote statewide in the Republican gerrymandered state);
  • In North Carolina, a federal court panel issued a landmark and blistering ruling on Tuesday night, finding state Republicans had blatantly gerrymandered the swing-state's U.S. House Districts on a partisan bases to ensure a 10 to 3 majority for themselves, in what the panel found to be a violation of the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause. The court ordered new Congressional maps to be drawn up immediately, in the next two weeks, in time for the 2018 primaries. But Republicans vow to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is currently deciding a separate but very similar case on partisan gerrymandering of state legislative districts by Wisconsin Republicans.
  • And today, a divided (and stolen by the GOP) U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in a case challenging Ohio Secretary of State John Husted's scheme to purge voter rolls after voters have gone just two years without voting in a federal election, in what Democrats and voting rights advocates argue is a violation of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).

Finally today...

  • Trump's Energy Secretary and former Texas Governor Rick Perry sees his scheme to extend the life of coal and nuclear plants under the false guise of "grid resiliency" go up in smoke after all of the appointees on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), most of whom were appointed by Trump, unanimously reject the plan, which was seen as a payoff to a coal baron benefactor of both Perry and Trump. A former Trump Campaign official, however, sees a far more insidious (and laughable) conspiracy.

What. A. Mess. Enjoy!...

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Guest: Farmer John Gilbert; Also: Detente in Korea; Arpaio to run for Senate; Landmark court ruling in NC; More climate-related tragedy in CA...
By Brad Friedman on 1/9/2018 6:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Enough with the so-called "forgotten Trump voters"! What of the forgotten Democrats and progressives who far outnumber them? Where are all of those profiles in the MSM? We pick up that ball a bit today. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first, just some of the news breaking today: North and South Korea are now talking again, and have struck an agreement that will result in North Korea participating in the winter Olympic Games that begin next month in South Korea. They also appear to be planning for talks in the near future on the militarization of the North/South border and other related matters, even as the Trump Administration continues to send very mixed signals about negotiations that might include the U.S.

Meanwhile, back here at home, the far right-wing "news" site Breitbart has fired its far right-wing Executive Chairman Steve Bannon following comments he made about Trump's son Don Jr. in Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury book. Bannon was previously fired by the White House as Trump's top political strategist. And, speaking of the GOP's continuing internecine Trump Era War, the disgraced, far right-wing 85-year old Joe Arpaio, controversial former Maricopa County, AZ Sheriff found guilty of contempt of court last year before being pardoned by Trump shortly thereafter, says he will run for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate this year, in a bid to replace outgoing Republican Sen. Jeff Flake.

Then, amidst seemingly endless sympathetic corporate media profiles of supposedly "forgotten" Trump voters in rural America, what of the majority of American voters who didn't vote for Trump, even in so-called "Trump Country"? We're joined today by sustainable family farmer JOHN GILBERT [pictured above] of Gibralter Farms, who, with his wife and extended family, has been farming and ranching on land maintained by his family since the 1890s.

Gilbert was briefly mentioned in a Washingont Post profile at year's end of another nearby farmer in Hardin County, Iowa --- part of the paper's long series of stories so-called on "THE FORGOTTEN: The issues at the heart of Trump's America" --- who remains an ardent and seemingly confused Trump supporter, angry with the way she believes the Obama Administration and its Environmental Protection Agency were enforcing too many rules that made her work difficult or costly. While Trump has begun to reverse many of those Obama Era regulations, such as the controversial Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, Gilbert believes we need more, not fewer regulations to remain good stewards of the land, so that "humanity stays alive".

He says the "big lie" about WOTUS was that, in fact, "most farming activity was exempted. I think it's also clear that that was an issue that was ginned up almost entirely by the Farm Bureau as a way to scare farmers, and I think farmers were duped into opposing that."

The 68-year old Gilbert explains how many of his fellow farmers, in Iowa and elsewhere, have been misled by the American Farm Bureau --- a lobbying group which he says largely represent the interests of "Big Ag" --- about both that and the so-called "death tax", while the Republican party and its media outlets have been helping to spread the group's disinformation for many years. "Politicians and Republicans have called it the 'death tax' for a long time," he tells me, "and always say 'Oh, it's hard on farmers.' Well, there's almost never been a farmer who has ever been affected enough by it that they had to do like they claim and sell the farm. These are all just manufactured fear tactics."

He also comments on Trump's at times bewildering appearance on Monday at the Bureau's national convention in Nashville, and discusses the principals of sustainable agriculture, for which he and his wife recently won the 2017 Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award from the Practical Farmers of Iowa.

"The whole issue of sustainability stems from a basic acceptance of the fact that there is not enough in this world for everybody to have all they want, whether it's enough water, enough food, enough energy, enough power, enough room. There's not enough. That means that we have to share, I guess, for lack of a better word," he tells me. "The one thing that has kept humanity above the animals over all these years is the ability to control our greed...And if you don't control greed, then you use up too many resources today and don't have any left for the future."

"Agriculture, in itself, is strictly the process by which humanity stays a live," he tells me. "We in agriculture do a lot of things, but basically we're trying to keep humanity alive. The question that we don't know is how long 'forever' is. And if we're going to keep humanity alive essentially forever, we have to make sure that we have the resources available to our descendants thousands of years from now --- to continue to support humanity. When you put those two things together, you end up with a system of farming that is much more aligned with natural systems. You tend to use principles of nature rather than the test tube or the chemical companies, or the big expert input suppliers who tend to be more interested in making money off of what you do than you making money."

There is much more in our conversation today than I can adequately cover here, so I'd encourage you to tune in for my full discussion with Gilbert, from the heartland of the first-in-the-nation caucus state. He's great.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report', before several late breaking news items, including a late day landmark Appeals Court ruling striking down North Carolina's Congressional maps due to partisan gerrymandering, and the tragic news out of Southern California that at least 13 have died, so far, in mud slides amid remarkable overnight rainfall in areas recently burned by the recent record Thomas Fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties north of Los Angeles, the largest fire in state history...

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Also: More under-covered news, and listeners ring in from around the world, including a call from one REALLY angry Trumper...
By Brad Friedman on 1/8/2018 6:05pm PT  

On today's BradCast, more news you need to know about in 2018, while cable news hypnotizes you with everything else. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Today, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a new report tallying up the extraordinary costs of weather and climate disasters in the United States during 2017. All told, the damage adds up to a record-shattering $306 billion from devastating hurricanes, droughts, fires, floods, freezes and more last year, as our climate crisis continues to worsen, just as scientists have long warned.

But the corporate media, particularly cable news channels, instead of covering stories you need to know, continue their 24/7 speculation about what Special Counsel Robert Mueller may or may not be up to, the salacious fall-out from Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury book, and now whether Oprah Winfrey will run for President in 2020 following her barn-burner speech at the Golden Globes last night. (Full transcript/video)

Instead, we continue our efforts to focus on stuff that matters to voters in 2018, which they are far less likely to have heard about on those same cable channels. Among those other stories covered today, in addition to our climate-related nightmares: At year's end, the Trump Administration gutted more regulations intended to protect the elderly in nursing homes(!), and continues to cut from the federal work force those who help protect American workers from injury and death on the job at construction sites and manufacturing plants, and anyone who lives near sites containing dangerous chemicals.

Then we open up the phone lines to listeners with other under-covered news and get a bunch of interesting calls, including one from a pharmacist reporting a dangerous saline and antibiotics shortage due to the ongoing disaster in Puerto Rico, where many of the manufacturers were once located and where power is still out for more than a million U.S. citizens following Hurricanes Irma and Maria more than 100 days ago.

But our favorite callers, as usual, are the rightwingers and conspiracy theorists and we get some humdingers today. Don't miss the call from a VERY angry woman by the name of Shannon! She straightens us all out with the truth about "fake news" and "illegal aliens". :-)

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Guest: Financial journalist David Dayen; Also: Trump keeps gutting and lying as media obsesses over 'Fire & Fury', Mueller probe speculation...
By Brad Friedman on 1/5/2018 5:20pm PT  

On today's BradCast: While most of the corporate media are abuzz with the salacious news and political food fights between Donald Trump and Steve Bannon (and everyone else) stemming from the publication of Michael Wolff's new Fire & Fury book, the Administration continues to gut regulations, undermine the rule of law, and endanger the nation and planet in countless under-reported ways. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

We continue today to try to focus on a number of important issues that aren't receiving the coverage they deserve, but that voters need to know about as we head toward the crucial 2018 mid-term elections. Among those issues is the strange matter of the wildly unpopular GOP tax bill which, oddly enough, most Republicans members of Congress don't seem overly concerned about. Why would that be?

One reason, as cited by GOP leadership in Congress, is that they believe Americans will come to love the new scheme once they begin to see more money in their paychecks this year. But how much more money will average middle-class Americans actually see, if any? That may be up to one man who now heads the IRS, with an "Acting" title, even as he works for the Trump Administration's Treasury Department at the same time in what seems a blatant conflict of interest.

Remember the phony "IRS Scandal" that Republicans and Fox "News" and Donald Trump all still pretend was an actual scandal involving Barrack Obama using the IRS for political purposes (which the IRS Inspector General has since completely debunked with far less fanfare)? Well, now the President of the United States actually does have a ringer at the IRS, his unconfirmed Acting IRS Chief David Kautter [pictured above]. Could he be the "Ace in the Hole" for Republicans on their tax bill?

Investigative financial journalist DAVID DAYEN, who recently wrote about this for The Nation, joins us today to explain how Trump's ringer at the Internal Revenue Service may be able to game the nation's paycheck tax withholding scheme, beginning in February, in order to try and turn the tide in favor of the GOP tax scam in advance of the 2018 mid-terms.

"Instead of putting someone up for a vote in the Senate and going through the confirmation process, they just made this guy, Kautter, the IRS Commissioner, and there is nobody on the horizon who is set to replace him," Dayen explains. "So, this guy is doing two separate jobs, essentially. He is the Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy --- which is a position where he was working with members of Congress to put the tax bill forward --- and he's supposed to be the non-partisan official who is implementing that same policy."

Since most of the changes to the tax law won't be seen by average Americans until 2019, when they file their 2018 taxes, paycheck withholding is "the only way that people are really going to experience this tax bill between now and the midterm elections," says Dayen. "And they'll see that difference in their paychecks, allegedly, by the beginning of February."

But the way the federal government determines the formulas for withholding is "more art than science," Dayen tells me. The question is now whether Kautter, who previously worked at financial giant Ernst & Young assisting huge corporations avoid taxes, will "move resources toward making sure that the assumptions that are made in withholding work to the benefit of ordinary people, so that they get more money now that they might have to give back in April of 2019? But [that] will create the feeling that there is this boost from the tax cut that is illusory, and that might help Republicans in the midterms?"

Republicans, he argues, seem to be "really relying on this. They're saying, 'Just you wait and see, America. Wait until February and all of your questions about the tax bill will be answered by your huge gain in your paycheck.' There's tons of pressure, from both the White House and from Congress, to get this done."

Also discussed on today's show: Speaking of the new Gilded Age for corporations and the wealthy, Dayen's latest cover story for American Prospect on "Big Tech's New Predatory Capitalism"; HUD's just-announced postponement of a major new Obama-era rule meant to decrease racial segregation in public housing; EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt takes credit for the Obama EPA's work on Superfund site cleanup...

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All of that and more evidence of wheels coming off everywhere...
By Brad Friedman on 1/4/2018 6:03pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The wheels seem to be coming off everywhere. That's both good and bad news. [Audio link to show follows below.]

We start here: After a two month back and forth since the November 2017 off-year elections in Virginia, it appears that Republicans will retain --- if just barely --- their majority control of the Virginia House of Delegates (for now) following a random drawing out of a bowl in Richmond today resulted in Republican David Yancey being named the winner over Democrat Shelly Simonds.

That, despite a "recount" in the 94th District race finding the Democrat had won, until a Republican observer changed his mind and a Republican Circuit Court panel of judges agreed with him. That was followed by a rejected court challenge by the Democrat, today's random drawing to determine the winner of that court-declared tie, a likely second "recount" to come in the same race, a court challenge to a separate very close race in the 28th district decided by 73 votes with at least 147 voters receiving the wrong ballot entirely, and Democrats across the obscenely gerrymandered state having out-voted Republicans by a "landslide" 10% margin in the November 7, 2017 elections.

We detail all of that today --- including my brief, if telling, email conversation with the election official in the city of Newport News who supposedly oversaw the race in the 94th district. And, for the record, here is a JPG of the one single ballot in question which led to the current tie.

Then, in other election related news, we move on to Donald Trump's monumentally failed "voter fraud" Commission, disastrously helmed by longtime GOP "voter fraud" fraudster and Kansas Sec. of State Kris Kobach. The Commission, created after Trump's evidence-free assertions that millions of unlawful votes were cast against him in 2016, has been besieged with lawsuits against it, including by one of its own Commissioners. But there may be another reason that Trump suddenly, and without notice to anyone, disbanded it entirely by Executive Order on Wednesday evening: he got mad at Steve Bannon. Democrats and voting rights advocates are rejoicing after the news, but will the dissolution of the Commission result in even more concerns for advocates of free and fair elections?

Speaking of which, heads up! Trump's Dept. of Justice appears to have a new idea for how to game the 2020 Census (which is also an election-related issue).

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for a bone-chilling first Green News Report of the new year, as a dangerous blast from the melting Arctic slams much of the country, the Trump Administration guts even more environmental and safety regulations over the holiday weekend when few were noticing, before announcing a new disturbing scheme today to open up 90 percent of nation's off-shore oil reserves to new commercial drilling.

The wheels seem to be coming off both the world and the Trump Administration. We'll hope for the latter in time to prevent the former...

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Guest: Election law Prof. Joshua A. Douglas of Univ. of Kentucky...
By Brad Friedman on 1/3/2018 6:29pm PT  

We're back on today's BradCast after a brief New Year holiday break! But it wasn't entirely a break, as Alabama's Secretary of State John Merrill decided to launch a bizarre Twitter exchange with me over the holiday weekend. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The conversation included the state's chief election official repeatedly (and inaccurately) insisting that Alabama's paper ballot computer scanners do not "capture" scanned ballot images that can be retained by the system for review by the public after an election. He is wrong, as I politely noted during the conversation.

In fact, Merrill almost certainly knows he is wrong, since he actually went to the State Supreme Court to block an order by a lower court, issued the day before the December 12th U.S. Senate Special election between Democrat Doug Jones and Republican Roy Moore, to instruct all county election officials to set their computer scanners to retain all captured ballot images! [We discussed that multi-partisan lawsuit with one of the organizers, John Brakey, before it was filed, and again with one of the plaintiff attorneys, Chris Sautter, after the order was blocked by the state Supreme Court, allowing counties to destroy their captured ballot images.]

Nonetheless, after I questioned Merrill about the inaccurate information he was offering to the public, he decided to block me on Twitter, rather than admit that he had misinformed the public. Here's a PDF that reconstructs as much of the conversation as I could, given that I'm now blocked by him, so can't easily see his Tweets. Moreover, he also deleted a number of his own Tweets after he blocked me, and he repeatedly broke the conversation thread throughout. So, that PDF reconstruction will have to suffice for now to give you an idea of what at least one Twitter user accurately described as a "bonkers" exchange!

It wasn't the first time Merrill would block journalists, election law experts, or even his own constituent voters on social media after someone dared to suggest that he was wrong about AL election procedures. We're joined today by JOSHUA A. DOUGLAS, professor of election and constitutional law at the University of Kentucky College of Law. He, too --- like me, and like UC Irvine election law professor Rick Hasen --- was blocked on Twitter by Alabama's Republican Sec. of State after asking a question, in November, about the state's election code.

"I said, it's not about lying, it's about asking questions of a public official running their elections, and the next thing I knew, I was blocked myself. So, kind of ironically, Merrill blocked me for questioning whether he should be allowed to block others on Twitter who were trying to interact with him about the election," Douglas explains. He wrote about the incident and why it matters at AL.com.

We discuss all of this bizarre behavior, and whether or not it's a violation of the Constitution when folks like Merrill and, yes, the President of the United States, block citizens from being able to read their social media comments. All of which makes what we do --- as journalists, legal professionals and, yes, voters --- more difficult and even Constitutionally problematic in a number of ways.

Also today: Despite Merrill's odd behavior before, during and after the election (Merrill supported Roy Moore), Doug Jones was sworn in to the U.S. Senate today after (apparently) defeating Moore to become the state's first Democratic U.S. Senator in some 25 years, narrowing the GOP majority to just 51 to 49. And, King of the Twitter Trolls, Donald Trump threatened nuclear war again with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and social media had a huge laugh at Trump's comments about having a "much bigger" nuclear button than Kim. But is any of it --- including the threat of war between two nuclear-armed nations --- really all that funny?...

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Guest: BRAD BLOG legal analyst Ernest A. Canning...
By Brad Friedman on 12/28/2017 5:41pm PT  

On today's BradCast, one last battle over democracy before 2017 comes to a close, and an early look forward to the battles --- and, perhaps, "democracy's revenge" --- that lie ahead in 2018. [Audio link to show follows below.]

In his last minute bid to prevent final certification of the first Democrat to be elected to the U.S. Senate in more than two decades, Alabama's Republican candidate Roy Moore filed an 80-page lawsuit [PDF] late Wednesday night alleging massive "voter fraud" and other somewhat confusing irregularities are to blame for his December 12 Special Election loss to the Democratic candidate Doug Jones.

A state court judge quickly dismissed Moore's complaint on Thursday morning and Jones was certified shortly thereafter as having defeated him by nearly 22,000 votes out of some 1.3 million cast. Jones will fill the seat vacated by Alabama's former Republican Senator turned Donald Trump's U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions shortly after the new year.

We're joined today by long-time BRAD BLOG legal analyst ERNEST A. CANNING who largely dismisses the allegations detailed in Moore's suit. Though, as we discuss, the GOP may have themselves to blame for making it difficult, if not impossible, for federal candidates in Alabama (and elsewhere) to ensure the accuracy of computer-reported vote tallies, even when they are based, as in AL, on hand-marked paper ballots scanned by computer systems but never verified for accuracy by human beings.

Moore's complaint, Canning adds, is also deficient when it comes to presenting any actual hard evidence of fraud by voters. The controversial Republican cites statistical analyses focusing on high turnout in a number of African-American districts said to contrast with Exit Poll data, and the affidavit of one poll worker who claims she saw more out-of-state IDs than usual used by voters even though that's perfectly lawful under the state's strict Photo ID voting restriction. Beyond that, no hard evidence is offered by the complaint to prove that any illegal votes were cast in the election, much less thousands of them.

Then, we discuss two of Canning's recent articles at The BRAD BLOG, both looking forward towards what he describes as the possibility of "democracy's revenge" in 2018. In one, he details why every single Republican U.S. House member from California could be in jeopardy of losing their seat in the "deep blue" state next year. In the other, he lays out what he describes as "Revolutionary Strategies to End GOP Rule in 2018" across the nation.

The CA attorney and 2016 Senior Adviser to Veterans for Bernie also discusses the need for "political maturity" among both progressive and establishment Democrats alike, in order to effectively take on the GOP following the 2016 election of Trump and his compliant Republicans in Congress who, he argues, have since revealed their true nature of legislating only for the benefit of the rich at the expense of the poor and middle class.

Desi Doyen then joins us for our final Green News Report of 2017, rounding up both the good and horrific news over the past year, including, despite Trump's best efforts, a number of very hopeful signs for the environment as we head into 2018. And, finally, we close with one last punch in the face at the intolerable and seemingly endless 2017, from comedian Lewis Black.

Angie Coiro guest-hosts for us on tomorrow's BradCast, and Desi and I will see you again after the New Year holiday! Until then, my thanks to those of you who have answered our call by stopping by BradBlog.com/Donate in support of our efforts to try and continue our work --- over your public airwaves --- as long as possible into the new year!

Peace!

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Guest: The Intercept's Jon Schwarz; Plus: Kobach loses in court; Battle over election results and control of VA House continues...
By Brad Friedman on 12/27/2017 5:55pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the GOP has made an industry out of protecting their power and their Presidents, from Richard Nixon right up through Donald Trump. And neither the Democrats nor the corporate media seem to have figured out how to counter the Right's radical transformation of the American political landscape over the past 40+ years. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But first today, a bit of voting and election news: A federal judge on Friday, just before the Christmas holiday, found in favor of Maine's Democratic Sec. of State Matt Dunlap after he was forced to sue Donald Trump's so-called "Election Integrity" Commission headed up by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas' Republican Sec. of State --- and infamous GOP "voter fraud" fraudster --- Kris Kobach. Dunlap had sued because, even though he is on the Commission itself, Kobach and the other rightwing fraudsters on it had been withholding documents and keeping Dunlap completely out of the decision making process. While that was a loss for the Government, a separate lawsuit against the Commission, filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), was rejected by a federal Appeals Court on Tuesday, on the basis that the group did not have standing to sue.

Also today, an update on the November 7th, 94th District Virginia House of Delegates race where Democrat Shelly Simonds appeared to have unseated Republican David Yancey by one single vote, until one of the Republican election official judges decided, the day after a "recount" was completed last week, that a previously discarded over-vote ballot [JPG] was actually a vote for the Republican after all. A three-judge court panel of GOP-appointed judges agreed, which meant the race was tied and the winner would be determined --- along with the balance of control of the Virginia House, which had been controlled by the GOP for decades --- by a random draw. That draw, scheduled for Wednesday, was postponed late on Tuesday by the state's Election Commission at Simonds request, while she challenges the three-judge panel's ruling in court.

Then, with the calls intensifying from the Fox "News" rightwing for Trump to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, are Democrats doing enough to counter the Constitutional Crisis that would likely ensue if he did so? For that matter, how have we arrived at a moment in American history when an investigation by a Republican Special Prosecutor into the firing of a Republican FBI Director by a Republican President can be considered a partisan Democratic witch hunt?!

JON SCHWARZ of The Intercept joins us to discuss the historical chain of events, connecting the dots of lawless GOP Presidential administrations from (at least) Richard Nixon up through Donald Trump, to illustrate exactly how we got here. In his recent historical essay, he details a fairly direct line of actions taken by the right during and after Nixon, right up through the present, that has largely prevented real accountability for lawless Republican Presidents, while both the Democrats and the corporate media have continued to pull their punches for various reasons.

"The history of Watergate has been completely rewritten in the past 45 years," Schwarz explains. "The reality is that it just barely succeeded. All of the investigations, all of the obvious, blatant wrongdoing by Nixon was just barely enough to get him out of office. Under other circumstances --- if the Republicans had controlled Congress, if they'd had Fox News then, if they'd had decades of appointing people to the courts --- it's very likely that Nixon would have stayed in office, and people would remember it as just a minor blip."

As is, he tells me, Nixon still escaped accountability for the worst of his crimes including collusion with a foreign power which resulted in the deaths of thousands of Americans, and an untold number of others in Indochina. "It's kind of shocking how this has been completely kept out of history."

Nonetheless, during his administration, a young Nixon staffer by the name of Roger Ailes came up with "A Plan for Putting the GOP on TV News," which would eventually become Fox "News", while a separate if related scheme by a future Supreme Court Justice that became known as the "Powell Memo", helped to restructure the federal judiciary and paved the way for the corporate takeover of our electoral and political system. "It describes exactly what has happened for the last forty, forty-five years," Schwarz notes. "They laid out a plan and they executed it, and it worked."

And now, we live in a world where only Republicans allowed to be appointed to investigate Presidents, whether they are Republicans or Democrats, and only Republicans have ever been appointed as FBI Directors, even by Democratic Presidents. And, despite that, we now hear the ever-increasing drumbeat charging that Mueller's investigation is a "partisan Democratic witch hunt", leaving Dems fighting among themselves as to whether they should push for impeachment, and the media pulling punches when reporting on GOP Administrations.

"If Hillary Clinton were President and had done the things that Donald Trump has done," Schwarz argues, "everyone knows she would have already been impeached 97 times."

Finally, we close today with some related listener e-mail, a few more thoughts on the Powell Memo, and a few words of thanks to those of you who have stopped by BradBlog.com/Donate to help us try and continue BradCasting into the new year...

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