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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, June 23, 2018
Out For Your Kids, Your Privacy, and Your Blood: 'BradCast' 6/22/18
Guest-host Angie Coiro w/ Ziva Branstetter, Cyrus Farivar, Ken Auletta, John Carreyrou...
Death and Taxes at SCOTUS:
'BradCast' 6/21/18
Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Abuse reported at child immigrant detention centers; Trump's trade war dangers; Much more...
'Green News Report' 6/21/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Blocked study released, reveals contamination; More CO2 reduces food nutrition; Trump rescinds BP spill protections; PLUS: 30 years since Congress warned about climate change...
Previous GNRs: 6/19/18 - 6/14/18 - Archives...
Trump Lie Collapses, Migrant Child Policy Reversed (Sort Of): 'BradCast' 6/20/18
Also: DC, AR election results; Why 'both sides are the same' argument from progressives is pathetic; Canada legalizes recreational pot...
Judge Nixes KS 'Proof of Citizenship' Voting Law, Slaps Humiliating Sanction on Kobach: 'BradCast' 6/19/18
Guest: ACLU trial atty Sophia Lin Lakin; Also: Trump's border 'crisis' worsens for Repubs...
'Green News Report' 6/19/18
Storms moving slower; EPA changes could kill thousands; China tariffs hit US energy; McDonald's dumping plastic straws; PLUS: Climate change eroding home values...
Sunday 'Giving Peace a Chance' Toons
Just a glimpse of the past week via the eyes of the world's political cartoonists, as one of them lost his job this week for being too critical of Donald J. Trump...
Sessions 'Can't Do That': Immigration Atty on Admin Denial of Domestic Abuse Asylum: 'BradCast' 6/15/18
Guest: Law Prof Karen Musalo; Also: 1000s ripped from parents, warehoused by US Govt...
'Green News Report' 6/14/18
GOPers turn on Pruitt; Antarctica melting 3x times faster; DNC bans fossil fuel donations; Floods doubled over 30 yrs; PLUS: Energy Dept: E-cars cheapest to drive...
Ranked Choice Voting is a Terrible Idea; Election Results/Fails, Trump's GOP Cult: 'BradCast' 6/13/18
NV's new voting systems fail; WI seat flipped; Scheme to break CA up on 2018 ballot...
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...

U.S. House special election results in PA; Student gun safety walkouts from coast-to-coast; ICE busted as spokesman refuses to lie, steps down...
By Brad Friedman on 3/14/2018 6:22pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was a nail-biter on Tuesday night in the U.S. House Special Election in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District between Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone. And there is much spinning on Wednesday morning. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Lamb has declared victory, (as has the NY Times, while AP still has it as "too close to call") in the district that went to Donald Trump by nearly 20 points in 2016. But Republicans are still holding out hope for a miracle, a "recount" and/or a lawsuit for their candidate who received a full court press from Donald Trump over the past week. That press included a weekend rally with Saccone and new steel tariffs announced by the President just last week, with an eye towards this bellwether race in "Steel Country", just outside of Pittsburgh.

We have full details on where the razor-thin results currently stand (just over 600 votes separate the two candidates, as of air time, in a race with more than 228,000 votes cast) and how such a "recount" would work in the state which still, shamefully, forces the vast majority of its voters to vote on 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems.

No matter the final results, Democrats are ebullient about what this huge "red to blue" swing may bode for their chances of taking back the House in November's crucial 2018 mid-term elections, even as GOPers from PA to Capitol Hill to the White House are offering some pretty remarkable spin in response.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, tens of thousands of students took to the streets from coast-to-coast with a massive school walkout to rally for gun safety legislation one month after the massacre which took the lives of 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The students stood up, even as a cowardly President Trump continues to retreat from earlier promises on reforms, while trying to spin his own personal fears of the powerful gun lobbyists at the NRA.

Then, speaking of failed spin, a spokesman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency resigns in the wake of being asked to lie about claims recently made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump regarding an ICE raid in Northern California

Finally today, as the Administration continues to misrepresent the threat to the U.S. posed by immigrants, three American rightwingers are arrested for the bombing of a Muslim mosque in Minnesota last year, and for an attempted bombing of an abortion clinic in Illinois...

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

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Guest: National Security journalist Marcy Wheeler...
By Brad Friedman on 3/13/2018 6:01pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Trump's unending White House chaos appears to have morphed into Trump's White House purge of not-insane top officials, beginning with his Tuesday firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, via Tweet. [Audio link follow below.]

At the same time, Trump named rightwing former Congressman and Fox "News" Tea Party flunky turned CIA Director Mike Pompeo as his nominee to take over the role of the nation's top diplomat and Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel, who oversaw torture at so-called "black site" prisons during the George W. Bush presidency, to take over Pompeo's role as CIA chief.

We're joined today by national security and civil rights journalist MARCY WHEELER of emptywheel.net to discuss all of today's alarming developments. At the center of our conversation, after discussion of why Trump off-loaded Tillerson, is whether Pompeo and Haspel will even be able to make it through the confirmation process in the U.S. Senate at all at this point, and how the entire mess, once again, highlights the shameful failure by Congressional Democrats and former President Barack Obama to demand real accountability for the war criminals at the center of Bush's torture regime.

"When people talk about how we ended up with Donald Trump, this is the problem," Wheeler argues. "We have excused things like torture for so long that it's just created the opportunity for Donald Trump. Yes, those precedents really created the way for him."

Remarkably, as discussed today, even Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein --- who spent years heroically fighting the U.S. Intelligence agencies to expose their horrific torture practices --- seems prepared to approve Haspel, for some reason, as do the former heads of those agencies --- the very same folks who claim to oppose Trump and object to his response to allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

On Haspel, Wheeler warns: "She's terrible for two reasons. One is that she's a torturer, and not just a torturer but a particularly sadistic one. But the second one is that she orchestrated both a personal and agency cover-up. And so we should expect, with her as CIA Director, to have the CIA even less in control than it is now." Yes, Haspel also oversaw the CIA's destruction of their videotapes of torture sessions.

Hard to figure out who's more furious about it all, me or Wheeler, after years of warning about precisely this day.

On Pompeo, Wheeler says: "He is much closer to Trump's views on [Russia, North Korea and Iran]. Very importantly, especially on Iran. So I think if Pompeo is confirmed, I think the chances of us going to war with Iran are significantly higher."

And, just to make my day, she warns that, should National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster be replaced, as rumored, his replacement won't even have to struggle with Senate confirmation (a road, which she predicts, may be difficult for both Haspel and Pompeo, though more so for the latter.) If McMaster is replaced by John Bolton, as some have suggested, "he gets appointed, because it's not Senate confirmed. So If Trump wants him, he's in charge of nuking North Korea."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for some more thoughts on the removal of Tillerson (ironically enough, even though he previously served as CEO of ExxonMobil, he was decidedly not a climate change denier and actually supported the U.S. staying in the Paris Agreement) and for the latest Green News Report, in which the nation and planet continue to suffer from the perfidy of dishonest Republican climate change denialism...

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: Jennifer Cohn on the deceptive dangers of the move to computer-marked 'paper ballots'; Also: Callers ring on that, Kim/Trump, more...
By Brad Friedman on 3/12/2018 6:08pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The fight for Election Integrity is often one step forward and two steps back. Don't be fooled by what many are deceptively describing as a move to "paper ballots", when those "paper ballots" aren't really what they are being sold as. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today: A quick preview of the U.S. House Special Election in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District on Tuesday, where voters will, shamefully, once again cast their votes in the crucial race on 100% unverifiable touch-screen Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting systems.

At the same time, lawmakers in the state of Georgia, which has disastrously used similarly unverifiable DREs for the past 15 years, are moving a deceptively described "paper ballot" bill forward in the legislature. However, what those lawmakers are not making clear (and some may not even understand) is that the bill would fund new computer-marked paper ballot systems, known as Ballot Marking Devices (BMD)s, across the state. Such systems also require voters to use a touch-screen device to vote and, like DREs, also cannot be verified after an election as reflecting the intent of any voter.

Worse still, rather than use the human-readable information printed out by the computers onto the "paper ballot" at the end of the process, BMDs use optical scanners which tally results read from barcodes or QR codes printed on the ballot that are NOT human readable!

And, it's not only Republican-leaning Georgia that is quickly hoping to move to such unverifiable systems. So is the largest voting jurisdiction in the nation, Los Angeles County! Also, counties in Texas and Tennessee are already using them and other states are looking to purchase them as well. Indeed, many supposedly progressive organizations and Democrats are actually recommending them, without understanding the very real dangers of BMDs!

We're joined today by attorney-turned-journalist JENNIFER COHN to discuss her well-researched and documented concerns, as detailed by voting system and computer security experts, regarding the nation's dangerous and disturbing lurch towards what she describes as expensive "electric pencils", otherwise known as BMDs. Cohn explained those concerns in simple, layman's language in a recent post at The BRAD BLOG.

As we discuss on the show: No, "paper ballots" are not enough! We need HAND-MARKED paper ballots that are known to have been verified by the voters, if we are going to even have a chance of restoring publicly verifiable democratic elections in the U.S.

Cohn details both in her article and on today's show, a number of academic studies finding that most voters do not check computer printouts and summaries at the end of the voting process, and of the minority who do, some 60% or more don't even notice when the computer has flipped their vote!

PLEASE tune in for this important conversation, because Americans must begin to understand the dangers presenting by these deceptively described "paper ballots", which are coming to a voting jurisdiction near you!

Then, we open up the phone lines today to callers on that issue, as well as some of my thoughts from last Friday's show regarding the supposed face-to-face meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and even crazier U.S. leader Donald Trump, regarding the North's nuclear weapons program...

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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Also: Swamp things! White House, EPA grant ethics waivers to dozens of 'ex'-lobbyists to work on issues related to their corporate clients...
By Brad Friedman on 3/9/2018 6:00pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Donald Trump seems to believe he's the first U.S. President to have been invited by a North Korean leader for face-to-face talks. He's not. And he may not have even been officially invited at all. Not that any of that kept President Stable Genius from immediately accepting the invitation. [Audio link to show follows below.]

It's been another remarkable 24 hours, as Trump's White House appears to believe that his "maximum pressure campaign" against the North led to what he clearly saw as a breakthrough invitation from Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un to discuss "denuclearization" on the Korean Peninsula. But our own great leader appears to have failed to check with any of his own top diplomatic officials --- where he actually has any in place --- before quickly accepting the invitation without per-conditions and, as we began to learn late Friday, may not have actually been a formal invitation at all.

But, even if he wishes to believe his tough sanctions regime and blustery military threats of "fire and fury" over the past year have somehow led to progress with the North (which appears to have been moved, if at all, by outreach from South Korean President Moon Jae-in), it seems the Trump Administration has no actual strategy in place to push for the disarmament and necessary verification that has alluded many previous U.S. Presidents who were wise enough to decline such invitations.

That may be why the Administration, on Friday, appeared to begin backing away from their Thursday night commitment to meet Kim...only to unback away a few minutes later.

So, who knows what will happen? In truth, nobody does, including (perhaps, especially) the President of the United States, who is making all of this shit up as he goes.

All of that said, reported and discussed on today's program, I also explain why I believe that a face-to-face Trump meeting with Kim would be a very good thing for all of us --- no matter how good or bad any deal that may or may not come out of it actually is.

Also today: The swamp is decidedly not only not being drained by Donald Trump, it's being quickly filled with more swamp dwellers than ever before. New reports from the Associated Press reveal that the White House Counsel has waived ethics requirements for dozens of top White House and executive agency appointees to work on issues directly related to corporate clients they very recently lobbied for or represented as attorneys. Some have even been granted permission to continue working for previous companies even while they now officially work for the federal government at the very same time! The spate of ethics waivers, issued by White House Counsel Don McGahn and top EPA attorneys, among others, have been sparse in explanation, while some have even been redacted before being shared with Congressional lawmakers attempting to oversee the executive branch. Yes, seriously...

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: David Roberts of Vox; Also: Trump's terrible tariffs; Good news for voters in WA and CA; U.S. Senators query U.S. voting system vendors...
By Brad Friedman on 3/8/2018 6:09pm PT  

On today's BradCast, so many great cons to debunk, so little time. But we've actually got some good news for voters today as well. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up today, Trump unleashes his massive and wildly unpopular --- and, yes, job-killing --- new taxes on imported steel and aluminum.

Then, some voting news, most of it good. The state of Washington is the ninth state in the union to adopt automatic voter registration, and a federal court has ruled that California must inform Vote-by-Mail voters before their ballots are tossed out when election officials decide that the signature on the ballot doesn't match the one on the voter's registration form. According to the ACLU's lawsuit, as many as 45,000 voters in the state were disenfranchised, without their knowledge, thanks to California's horrible practice, carried out by the whim of officials who are anything but handwriting experts.

Meanwhile, two Democratic U.S. senators have sent a letter to the nation's top three election vendors, ES&S, Dominion, and Hart Intercivic, asking if they have shared the source code from their computerized voting and tabulation systems with Russia. We discuss what this actually means and doesn't. (For example: No, it's not necessary for Russia or anybody else, including elections officials, to have access or familiarity with proprietary source code from voting and tabulating systems in order to manipulate computer-tallied elections!) We also call out Reuters for continuing to spread the evidence-free claim in their report on this that "voting machines were not directly affected" by meddling during the 2016 election.

Next, we're joined by Vox.com's environment and politics writer DAVID ROBERTS to discuss a new report [PDF] released by the Trump Administration's own Office of Management and Budget(!) which, as he writes, "demolishes the GOP’s deregulatory claims." In short, it finds that benefits to the public of federal regulations far outstrip their costs in pretty much every imaginable way.

The aggregate costs of major federal regulations (those with an impact of $100 million or more) between 2006 and 2016, according to the annually mandated report released late on a Friday night for some reason, "were somewhere between $59 and $88 billion. And the aggregate benefits were somewhere between $219 and $695 billion," says Roberts. "So, even if you take the highest possible estimate of costs, and the lowest possible estimate of benefits, the benefits are still well over double what the costs were, in the most conservative analysis."

While Donald Trump has attempted to cut hundreds of rules and regulations across federal agencies --- repeatedly boasting about doing away with a record number of "job-killing regulations" and bureaucratic red-tape --- the fact is, as his own OMB (headed up by the far-right, Tea Party, regulation-hating Mick Mulvaney!) detailed in their report, those regulations do not "kill jobs" or cost the government money. In fact, killing those rules costs the government far more, particularly the environmental rules being radically gutted by this Administration.

But, as Roberts argues, the "job-killing" mantra has been so often repeated by Republicans since the days of Ronald Reagan --- and gone largely unchallenged by corporate media --- much of the public now simply accepts those false assertions as reality.

"Just to be clear, we've known this about federal regulations for a long time," Roberts notes. "These things have been subjected to cost-benefit analysis out the wazoo for years and years. Not only by the federal government, but by outside analysts. They all more or less converge on this same answer, which is that the public health and social and employment benefits of these things wildly outweigh the costs, and have for years."

"The reason Republicans hate this is because, when you see it in aggregate like this, it's almost enough to convince you that government can be an agent of good, that it can improve public health and welfare while still maintaining economic growth."

"It's revealing, I think, that this is treated as a revelation," he tells me. "It ought to be commonplace by now. It's the consensus of the experts. We just don't accept it, because Republicans, just through the sheer weight of repetition, have been saying 'job-killing regulations', 'burdensome regulations', etc., etc., for so long, that that's just sort of baked into the cake as one side of the debate, even though there's no support for it. There's no analysis that supports that."

We discuss why that is and who actually benefits from the GOP's great con. (Hint: It isn't the bulk of the folks who voted for Donald Trump!) Robert's also goes on to argue why he believes that Democrats are at least partly to blame for this con having taken such a death grip on the American conscience as self-defeating "conventional wisdom" over the past several decades.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report for yet another demonstration of how the decades-long scam to gut regulations continues to threaten the nation and the world...

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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Election results and voting probs from the Lone Star state's first-in-the-nation primaries; Also: Chaos continues at Trump White House, Florida lawmakers enact gun safety measures following Parkland massacre...
By Brad Friedman on 3/7/2018 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast: You may not have noticed with everything else going on, but, on Tuesday, Texas held the first primaries of the crucial 2018 mid-terms elections. We have the reported results, including the largest Democratic primary turnout in the Lone Star state in decades (though the GOP turnout was still larger.) [Audio link to show follows below.]

Women and progressives appear to have performed very well on the Democratic side. Though, given the huge number of candidates in many of the Democratic U.S. House primaries, many of those contests will now go to run-offs on May 22nd. Wealthy self-funders, Trump supporters and more conservative Democrats didn't do quite as well. And a number of voters across the state were disenfranchised, as usual, and forced deal with failing electronic voting systems and polling places that were recently moved. (Even as the corporate media downplayed problems, as usual.) We dive into all the details.

Also today, the chaos continues at Donald Trump's White House and we do our best to keep up with the latest developments, including a finding by the Office of Special Counsel that senior White House counselor and former Campaign chair Kellyanne Conway violated the federal Hatch Act (and why that matters); Donald Trump may be backing off his hard-line and ill-considered, pledge to issue broad tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, following critiques from friends and foes alike and his top economic advisor Gary Cohn stepping down in response; Porn-star Stormy Daniels is suing Donald Trump over hush money paid to her before the 2016 election; And the Trump Administration is suing the state of California over immigration issues.

Finally, as we head off air today, breaking news out of the the Florida legislature, which has now adopted a number of gun safety reforms opposed by the NRA, including raising the minimum age for the purchase of semi-automatic rifles and a three-day waiting period for all gun purchases. The measure --- passed in no small part due to the persistent advocacy of the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School following the massacre there last month --- now heads to the desk of the NRA's A+ rated Governor Rick Scott...

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: Nuclear policy analyst Stephen Schwartz; Also: Top WH economist quits; Clueless Trump calls for 'paper backup' to protect 2018 elections...
By Brad Friedman on 3/6/2018 6:40pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the Chaos Presidency continues apace, as do the nuclear threats, despite a potential thaw of tensions on the Korean Peninsula today. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, another top White House official, top economic advisor Gary Cohn, has had enough. He announced his resignation late on Tuesday in response to Trump vowing to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum that virtually everyone in the country and world has come out in opposition to.

At the same time, as we also discuss today, Donald Trump makes clear that he has no actual plans to "counteract" interference of the 2018 and 2020 elections, though he managed to say the words "paper backup" out-loud during a press appearance today, as if to indicate he knew anything about how easily computerized election results can be manipulated (presuming he cares).

Meanwhile, after meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, officials in South Korea announced plans for face-to-face talks between the leaders of the both countries, along with an easing of tensions and the possibility of direct talks between Pyongyang and Washington D.C. --- unless Trump blows it. The potentially encouraging news on the Korean Peninsula comes just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a number of new, high-tech nuclear weapons which he says his nation has now developed in response to so-called U.S. missile defense systems deployed near Russia's border and Trump's own efforts to greatly expand the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Longtime nuclear policy analyst STEPHEN SCHWARTZ of Middlebury Institute of International Studies, joins us to help explain what's actually going on, what isn't, and why all of it is happening in the first place in both potential conflicts and/or nuclear standoffs..

“Winston Churchill once said that 'It's better to jaw-jaw than war-war’. And I think that's probably the first takeaway from today's news” out of Korea, says Schwartz, noting “the good news is we are talking about the possibility of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, and we're not talking about lobbing nuclear weapons in both directions.” But, while he says he is “cautiously optimistic,” he believes talks between NK and Trump’s Administration are not likely to go anywhere. The former longtime Executive Director and Publisher of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (keepers of the infamous “Doomsday Clock”) reminds us of similar agreements with NK in the past --- and how our previous Republican President, George W. Bush, (No, you don't "look pretty good" now, George) helped to scuttle them.

As to the dizzying array of new high-tech weaponry revealed by Putin in Moscow late last week, Schwartz believes “it’s sort of less than meets the eye,” and argues much of the show “was for domestic political consumption” in advance of Russian’s Presidential election later this month. While the new weapons systems are, ostensibly, said to be a response to the deployment of U.S. defensive missiles, Schwartz contends those systems don’t actually work --- even if Russia believes they do.

The massive new Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) revealed by Putin, however, “is for real”, Schwartz says, adding: “It's worth pointing out that the New START agreement just went into effect officially last month. If Donald Trump does not choose to extend it, it will expire in three years, in 2021, and if it does, that means Russia can deploy as many nuclear ICBMs and submarines and bombers, without any constraint whatsoever, and completely overwhelm any missile defense system we have. And then we'd be truly off to the races.” To date, he notes, “Trump has said this is a bad deal and we're not going to do it.”

Finally, as if all of that doesn’t offer enough doom and gloom for ya, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as potential nuclear doomsday scenarios are matched only by our ongoing doomsday climate crisis...

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Star of CBS' 'Mom', Advisory Board Chair of Progressive Democrats of America joins us in studio for the hour!...
By Brad Friedman on 3/5/2018 6:23pm PT  

On today's BradCast, on the day following Sunday night's Academy Awards show, we're joined in studio at KPFK/Pacifica Radio for the hour by our friend MIMI KENNEDY, Advisory Board Chair of Progressive Democrats of America and star of the CBS sit-com Mom (which also stars last night's Best Supporting Actress winner Allison Janney). [Audio link to show follows below.]

We've got lots to discuss today with Kennedy, a longtime progressive activist and leader (that's her and me in the photo above, just after today's show), and we also open up the phone lines to callers as well.

Among the many issues and items we chat and/or bicker about today:

  • How Hollywood and its politics have changed very quickly over the past year or two in light of the #MeToo and #OscarsSoWhite movements;
  • Whether Democrats chances to retake the U.S. House this November are as good as many Dems seem to think;
  • Conservative Democrat Connor Lamb's chances of winning next week's U.S. House Special Election in the "Trump Country" of Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional district;
  • Big turnout in advance of Tuesday's first-in-the-nation 2018 primary elections in Texas;
  • Serious concerns about election integrity that still undermine democracy in 2018 (Mimi and PDA have been longtime champions for the cause!) and whether the solutions being offered by a number of states and large jurisdictions --- including a disturbing move to computer-printed and computer-counted paper ballots --- is a good idea, or if we'll be left with the same or worse lack of ability for the public to oversee election results that we already have in many places. (Among them, see the 100% unverifiable computerized touch-screen style voting systems used in much of Georgia, Texas, Pennsylvania, etc.);
  • And whether elected Democratic officials and 2020 Presidential hopefuls are finally understanding the importance of single-payer "Medicare for All" (or, as PDA has been advocating for years: "Healthcare not Warfare!").

Also on today's show: More tentatively encouraging news on the Korean Peninsula (at least until Trump screws it up again); Trump's artificial DACA deadline hits, endangering hundreds of thousands of young immigrant 'Dreamers'; Another senior Republican U.S. Senator, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, announces that he is resigning, as of next month.

All of that and a bunch of great callers ringing in on all of the above on today's BradCast!...

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Trump's proposed tariffs bomb; Another school shooting; 'ObamaCare' popularity soars; Huge early turnout for TX mid-term primaries; GA moving to new unverifiable voting systems; American Cancer Society gives thumbs up to vaping...
By Brad Friedman on 3/2/2018 5:56pm PT  

On today's BradCast: As the White House implosion continues at the end of one of its most chaotic weeks to date, Trump declares a trade war! [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Well, huge tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, anyway, (those are taxes on the American people, Mr. President), which will almost certainly lead to international trade wars with friend and foes alike, raise the cost of many consumer goods and, yes, kill American jobs.

The proposed tariff scheme has already led to an internal White House war with Trump's lead economic advisor threatening to resign if they are implemented, Congressional Republicans furious about the plan, close allies such as Canada and the EU threatening to retaliate against the U.S., the entirety of the fossil fuel industry (from oil to natural gas to coal) declaring that jobs will be lost and prices will rise, and even Trump's own Defense Secretary advising that the measure, which President Chaos is hoping to pull off on "national security" grounds, will have a "negative impact on our key allies". Other than that, the idea is going over very well.

At the same time, there was another school shooting by a 19-year old on Friday, this time at Central Michigan University; Texas sees huge early voting turnout in advance of Tuesday's 2018 mid-term primary elections (even beating turnout for the 2016 Presidential primaries!); New polling finds the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and Medicaid with record high approval ratings; and the state of Georgia is finally moving away from their 14-year old 100% unverifiable Diebold touch-screen voting systems...to new, similarly unverifiable computer-printed "paper ballot" systems.

(The GA legislature is moving a measure forward to fund new "Ballot Marking Devices" or "BMDs", which are, essentially, very expensive computerized "electronic pencils" that allow voters to use a touch-screen to print out a non-human readable barcode on a piece of paper, which is then tallied by a computer scanner. Or, the computer may print human-readable vote selections on paper which may or may not actually be verified by the voter to reflect their intent before being tallied by a computer. After an election, it'll be impossible to know if any of those so-called ballot cards actually reflect voter intent. That's why election integrity advocates oppose the new "bad to worse" scheme quickly moving forward in GA!)

Then, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report as Trump's EPA chief Scott Pruitt cites the bible as his excuse for polluting the planet and killing children with fossil fuel exploitation and dangerous chemicals. (Hope Pope Francis doesn't find out!)

And we close today with some listener mail and some very good news from the American Cancer Society that they are finally recommending electronic cigarettes and vaping devices for smoking cessation. (Hope the supposedly anti-tobacco Democrats who are helping to kill people by making it more difficult to vape don't find out!)

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Guest: NatSec journalist Marcy Wheeler on Jared's jeopardy; Also: Trump loses 'last emotional crutch' and Ivanka reportedly facing FBI probe...
By Brad Friedman on 3/1/2018 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We begin with some very brief good news today on a new automatic voter pre-registration scheme for 16 and 17-year olds in California, as signed into law by the Governor on Wednesday. That, before diving headlong into the deep dark heart of Donald Trump's seemingly, very quickly imploding White House. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

The spate of jaw-dropping news over the past 48 hours, all pointing in one direction, is remarkable, even by the standards of this particular White House. Following on Wednesday's shock news that Trump's third Communications Director, Hope Hicks is resigning, there has been much speculation as to why she is leaving. As one of Trump's closest personal confidantes and most trusted advisors --- and among the last of the original team that's been with Trump since he announced his candidacy in 2015 --- some are reporting that the 29-year old former model quit after being berated by Trump for admitting to a Congressional committee the day prior that she was required to lie on his behalf. Other reporting suggests she could be facing legal jeopardy after finding herself at the center of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into obstruction of justice by the President.

Hicks was also described as Trump's "last emotional crutch", which does not bode well for where this White House may now be heading.

At the same time, a number of blockbuster stories have broken in recent days regarding Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner, whose family real estate business has long faced financial woes. Kushner's interim top secret security level clearance was recently downgraded after his FBI background check failed to clear him for permanent security clearance, a number of foreign countries were reported to have been intercepted discussing how to manipulate him based on his financial problems, two major money lenders reportedly gave his family company huge refinancing loans shortly after meetings with him in the White House, and our guest today, MARCY WHEELER, believes that Mueller could be working toward charges against Kushner for "conspiracy against the United States."

Wheeler, a longtime national security journalist at Emptywheel, detailed the reasons why Mueller may now be closing in on Kushner in a New York Times op-ed yesterday. She joins us today to explain those possibilities --- centered, in part, on his various foreign entanglements and multiple failures to properly disclose them --- on today's show.

"We've been talking about 'collusion' since before the election," Wheeler says. "Collusion is not a crime. It is a shiny object used by Trump to be able to deny something over and over again. He was never going to be indicted for it, because collusion is not a crime. He will or could, however, be an un-indicted co-conspirator in a conspiracy." And, in the broad conspiracy that Mueller seems to be documenting through his indictments to date, she argues, Kushner may well find himself indicted as one of those conspirators.

We also discuss whether and how Trump can possibly survive the apparent ongoing implosion, with Hicks soon gone and Kushner now believed to be in serious jeopardy. "Trump is losing people he trusts. And eventually he's going to be sitting there alone in the White House watching 25 screens, all of them playing Fox and Friends, and tweeting angrily in response," Wheeler tells me. "At some point, the White House becomes so hollowed out it starts collapsing, and I feel like we're pretty close to that."

Finally today, after our discussion of Hicks' departure and Kushner's tightening noose, CNN breaks a new story reporting that the FBI is said to be eyeing financial questions surrounding business dealings by Kushner's wife Ivanka Trump, the President's daughter, close advisor, and one of the only other still-standing "originals" left, along with Hicks and Kushner, in the Administration...

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Guest: David Bier of CATO Institute; Also: Hicks out; Special election results; Trump court win; Teacher fires a pistol in school; Sporting goods outlet to stop selling assault weapons...
By Brad Friedman on 2/28/2018 6:11pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Just days away from Donald Trump's artificial deadline to end Obama-era protections from deportation for hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought here as children, the attendees at last weekend's CPAC can't even come to terms with documented facts on the benefits of immigration, even when delivered to them by one of their own. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But, first up today, some quick news headlines of note...

  • Another top White House official, Trump's 29-year old Communications Director Hope Hicks (his third since taking office), says she's resigning, and offered a ridiculous reason for it, just one day after admitting to the U.S. House Intelligence Committee that she has been required to lie on behalf of Trump.
  • Tuesday was another Special Election day in several states --- including New Hampshire, Connecticut, Kentucky and Arizona --- and we have the reported results after still more state legislative seats in Republican districts were flipped from 'red' to 'blue' by Democrats. (And as Republicans appear to have mostly avoided another huge embarrassment in Arizona.)
  • The federal judge who Trump attacked during the campaign for allegedly opposing his border wall, as the court case for Trump's fraudulent 'Trump University' played out, decides in favor of the Administration scheme to waive environmental laws to build that wall with Mexico.

Then, we're joined by immigration policy analyst DAVID BIER of the libertarian Cato Institute, following his recent appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) --- where his presentation of independently verifiable facts and data detailing how immigration is actually good for the country --- was met with derision and heckles from the audience and fellow panelists alike.

Setting our many political differences aside for purposes of this discussion, Bier offers some of that data on today's show, in hopes that we can, at least, agree on facts if we are ever to find a legislative solution to protect "Dreamers" and turn back the new Trump/GOP efforts to restrict even legal immigration to our country. Among those derided and heckled facts Bier presented at CPAC: "I talked about how some conservative outlets really like to focus on immigrant crime. But we know from the U.S. Census bureau that immigrants --- including illegal immigrants --- are about half as likely to be incarcerated in the United States for serious crime than U.S.-born adults. So they're really focusing on the exceptions to the rule. Something else that I cited is the National Academies of Sciences 2016 report on the fiscal costs of immigration, that found that the average recent immigrant will pay at least $92,000 more in taxes than they receive in benefits from the government over their lifetime."

He went on to debunk a number of other myths offered by right-wing outlets, such as on English-language comprehension and assimilation of new immigrants and the claim (even made by the host of the panel) that Democrats favor immigration because they want millions of new voters. He also detailed how new immigration is needed to help support Social Security and Medicare for many of the aging baby-boomers who were, no doubt, among the many attendees at CPAC.

Bier told me about the reaction to his remarks at the only immigration-related panel on the weekend's agenda at the annual far-right Republican gathering, how that response may have differed from previous years, and why it is that he believes attendees are so terrified of independently verifiable facts on immigration's many benefits for all Americans --- economically, politically and culturally.

He even managed to offer a fairly impressive response to my skepticism to his claim that "the data is the thing that’s going to win people over." Despite appearances from this President and his administration, he argues, immigration advocates are winning. "You and I and everyone who favors legal immigration and legalizing long-term residents of the United States, we're winning that argument. The public supports our position overwhelmingly. It's never been higher in terms of support for legalization, support for a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, support for not restricting legal immigration. We're winning all of those things."

"It's sort of their last stand before the end," he asserts, by way of explaining the confused and fearful anti-immigrant CPAC attendees. "If Democrats do take over, I fully expect immigration reform will happen. And that will be the moment where they realize they lost the argument."

Finally, as Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School reopened on Wednesday, two weeks after a 19-year old with a legally purchased semi-automatic rifle killed 17 and injured a dozen others in a matter of minutes, the debate over what to do about it still rages. Today, amid Donald Trump's argument for arming teachers, the "top teacher" of 2012 at a Georgia high school outside of Atlanta fired a pistol in his classroom, sending students into a justifiable panic. And, one of the nation's largest sporting goods outlets announced that it would no longer sell military-style semi-automatic rifles and planned to raise the age requirement for all gun and ammo purchases at their stores to 21...

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Guest: Howie Klein of 'Down With Tyranny!'; Also: Kushner loses his clearance and more GOP sex/hypocrisy scandals for 2018 candidates...
By Brad Friedman on 2/27/2018 6:08pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Democrats appear confident that they are heading toward a "Blue Wave" election in the 2018 mid-terms. Then again, they were also confident they'd soundly defeat Donald Trump for the Presidency in 2016. And the progressive/establishment rift that developed during the party's 2016 primary has, apparently, not gone away. [Audio link for show follows below.]

But first up today, the President's son-in-law and top adviser, Jared Kushner has reportedly lost his Top Secret/SCI-level security clearance, along with a bunch of other White House staffers, after failing to receive a permanent security clearance in the more-than-a-year since he's been serving.

Next, with one disturbing sex (and hypocrisy) scandal after another plaguing Republican candidates for office (as well as the President of the United States), we add several more such scandals to the list today. Among them, a GOP U.S. House candidate in Pennsylvania whose husband says she threatened to kill him in a drunken rage. That, after the woman was revealed to have had an affair with married GOP Congressman Tim Murphy in a neighboring PA district. After text messages revealed he advised her to get an abortion, he eventually resigned from the House last year.

Then there's the Republican candidate for Illinois' state Legislature who is said to have asked the party's leading state Attorney General candidate recently whether she was a "lesbo", before repeatedly using the n-word in front of the woman who happens to be a Harvard Law grad and former Miss America, as well as an African-American.

And, let's not forget the minister in Arizona running in the GOP primary today for the Special Election to take the disgraced GOP Rep. Trent Franks' vacated seat. After the far right Franks resigned from Congress last year following his own sexual misconduct allegations, former AZ State Senator and family values minister Steve Montenegro led the pack of some 18 GOPers vying for the nomination in the very right-wing Congressional district west of Phoenix --- at least until salacious text messages with a legislative staffer were surfaced just days ago.

So, yes, the Republicans have a lot of problems with their candidates of late, but Democrats are having a lot of problems with each other. The turmoil between the party's aging conservative establishment wing and its growing progressive wing have now begun to rear its ugly head again, after the intraparty rift that grew out of the 2016 Presidential primary between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

Late last week the conservative Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) unleashed a remarkable attack against Laura Moser, one of the more progressive Democratic candidates, among eight, vying for the party's nomination in next Tuesday's U.S. House primary contest in the Texas' 7th Congressional District near Houston. And, over the weekend, the delegates at the annual California Democratic Party convention failed to endorse 4-term U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein in her reelection bid, where she is being challenged by progressive state Senate leader Kevin de León. De León received 54% of the delegate votes to Feinstein's 37%. Neither reached the 60% required for an official state party endorsement.

We're joined today to discuss all of this from the Democratic side --- as the primary season finally gets officially underway --- by progressive advocate and Congressional elections expert HOWIE KLEIN, creator of the Down With Tyranny! blog and co-founder of the BlueAmericaPAC, which supports progressive candidates with small personal donations.

Klein (whose BlueAmericaPAC supports a different progressive in the race, Dr. Jason Westin) explains the DCCC's stunning attack on Moser in Texas late last week, while warning that there are many more such attacks to come against progressive candidates this year by the conservative DCCC. "They always, 100% of the time, support conservatives from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party," he charges. "That's what they do. They always try to undercut progressives."

"They're not more likely to win. The only time they can win is in a wave election," Klein argues, while responding to the DCCC's defense that they are only favoring candidates more likely to defeat Republicans this November. "The problem with these DCCC candidates is that they can't hold the seats. They get defeated in the next midterm. And that happens over and over and over again, and the DCCC can't understand that."

Klein also speaks to what he sees as both the reason for and solution to the DCCC's right-wing bent --- (for which he blames Democratic Congressional leader Nancy Pelosi who "used to be a progressive") --- and whether bitterly divided Democratic voters will find a way to come together this year once the primaries are over, in order to retake majorities in one or both houses of Congress.

He describes the current rift as an in "important ideological fight," and claims, "It's not a split between Bernie people and Hillary people in any way. It's an ideological battle of people who believe in what Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt believed in, as opposed to people who are conservative Democrats who are frightened and afraid of innovation."

Speaking of which, Klein then offers his thoughts on why California's progressive Democrats are turning on the conservative Feinstein this year and how that may effect the 84-year old Senator's hopes of winning a 5th term in November. Related to that point, we also discuss the unpredictable "top two" primary system now used in California, where candidates from all parties run at the same time against each other, before the top two vote-getters --- from either the same or different parties --- then go on to compete head-to-head in November's general election...

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Trump's horrible idea; FL's tepid gun reform package; Melania's parents' 'chain migration'; Gates cops a plea; McMaster may soon be out; Why Republicans must be removed; Stoneman Douglas students shine...
By Brad Friedman on 2/23/2018 6:03pm PT  

We catch up with a lot of news today, at the end of another ridiculously busy week, on today's very busy BradCast! But, hey, we start with a laugh and end with a song. So, it can't be all that bad, right? [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the many stories covered on today's program...

  • Donald Trump's horrendous idea for arming school teachers and workers appears to have come straight from Archie Bunker, and it won't work out well, especially for black teachers;
  • After the NRA's A+ rated, Florida Gov. Rick Scott joins the NRA's A+ rated Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in blowing away Second Amendment straw-man arguments, he proposes a package of tepid gun reforms for the state in the wake of the Parkland, FL massacre, including barring those under 21 from buying a semi-automatic rifle;
  • A handful of D.C. GOPers also consider raising the federal age for gun purchases (though don't hold your breath, the NRA is against it.);
  • The problem isn't 'Washington' or 'Congress', it's Republicans, and it's time to remove them from office at the federal, state and local level;
  • After new charges against him and former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort were filed on Thursday, Manafort's partner and former Trump aide Rick Gates copped a guilty plea on Friday and agreed to cooperate with Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe. Mueller filed even more new charges against Manafort on Friday;
  • Trump may be about to fire his second National Security Advisor, Gen. H.R. McMaster;
  • Did Melania Trump's parents receive permanent U.S. residency, and soon citizenship, thanks to the "chain migration" (family reunification) program that Donald Trump and the GOP are hoping to kill in exchange for protection of DACA kids?;
  • Fox "News" reports that Defense Sec. James Mattis has quietly decided to allow transgender troops to serve in the military, despite Trump's declaration last year that they would be barred from serving "in any capacity";
  • New effort launched by Democrats and gun reform advocates to register high school students to vote in advance of the 2018 mid-terms;

And, finally, some closing thoughts on the heroically shining students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and their performance of the song they wrote just days after a former student, armed with a legally purchased semi-automatic weapon, killed 17 of their fellow students and teachers and wounded more than a dozen others...

[Note: Angie Coiro is in for us on the next BradCast as we take a day off for Desi's birthday! If you'd like to give her a much-deserved birthday gift, please do so in any amount, at BradBlog.com/Donate! And thank you!]

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Guest: Teacher, writer Dina Leygerman; Also: New Mueller indictments; GOP EAC Chair pushed out; MO's new GOP Guv indicted in sex scandal...
By Brad Friedman on 2/22/2018 6:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Yes, the kids are alright. And, if this past week has been any indication --- along with the results of a fascinating social experiment by my guest today --- they may well save us all. I hope they hurry. [Audio link to today's show follows below.]

First up, however, a boatload of news broke shortly before air today, and we scramble to cover as much of it as we can. Among those stories...

  • New indictments are filed by Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe against two former Donald Trump campaign officials. His former campaign chair Paul Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates, who also served on the Trump transition team saw 32 counts added to the 17 felony counts leveled against them in October. The new charges relate to some $30 million in money laundering and tax fraud, based on funds said to have been received while Manafort worked for a Russian-backed Ukrainian President prior to joining the Trump campaign;
  • U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and the White House have reportedly pushed out, Matthew Masterson, the Republican Chair of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) for reasons that remain unknown The EAC, formed by Congress after the 2000 election debacle to help state election officials with e-voting system standards, has failed in many ways over the years, as we discuss (and as we've reported at The BRAD BLOG for many years.) Still, they remain the only federal agency tasked with that role, even while Republicans have been attempting, for years, to shutter the Commission entirely. Masterson, said to be highly regarded by state election officials, was overseeing cyber-security standards for new voting systems before the 2018 mid-terms, in light of concerns of foreign manipulation of U.S. voting, registration and tabulation systems;
  • And, also breaking just before air, Missouri's new "family values" Republican Governor Eric Greitens was indicted late Thursday on a felony charge related to allegations that threatened to blackmail a woman he had tied up and photographed nude in his basement during an affair in 2015, prior to his 2016 election.

Then, with the incredibly impressive students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida speaking up, marching, organizing and protesting unapologetically to demand new legislation on guns after a former student killed 17 at their school last week with a legally-purchased semi-automatic AR-15 rifle, President Trump unleashed a Twitter rant on Thursday morning calling for teachers across the country to be armed in response. That call has not gone over well with the Stoneman Douglas students, though many Republican officials and their paymasters at the National Rifle Association (NRA) support the measure to place even more guns into our nations schools.

But, as my guest today, Philadelphia area high school teacher and writer DINA LEYGERMAN argues, the current generation of high schoolers across the country are fierce, a force to be reckoned with and not to be underestimated.

In her recent article headlined "The Teens Will Save Us", Leygerman documents a fascinating social experiment that she has run for a number of years while teaching George Orwell's 1984 to her English class. After similar results of the experiment year after year --- in which, without informing the students, she basically turns her classroom into an Orwellian totalitarian regime over a matter of days, with her as the dictator turning students against each other --- she says that this year, for reasons she discusses, the response by the students was completely different from previous years. The students, she explains, were having none of it, and actually stood up, organized with their classmates and other students in rebellion against her. As she wrote, "For the first time since I've done this experiment, the students 'won.'"

Leygerman joins us for what turns out to be a very hopeful segment, as she explains what happened, why, and how this generation may be very different from the slacker image many have painted them with. "They are participating in marches. They are participating in their student government. They are listening to the news. They're reading the news more, everyday. They are involved. And I think in our current political climate, where everything is so hostile and divisive, they are learning. I walk around and, even in the cafeteria, I'll listen to them talk about DACA, they'll talk about issues that I don't ever remember discussing when I was a kid," she tells me.

It's a fascinating conversation that I hope you'll tune in for. I also get her thoughts on Trump and the NRA's proposal for arming teachers, which she describes as "insane and dangerous" and a "diversion and deflection" from the actual conversation of what should be done about our nation's gun epidemic. Leygerman, who also writes for parenting website Romper, wonders: "Where's the funding coming from? And if it's coming from the government or from the state, why can't we have basic supplies instead?"

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as a chemical giant settles a decades-long water contamination lawsuit, global temperatures continue to sky-rocket, sea levels rise at an ever-quickening pace, and another western state becomes the latest to block Donald Trump's scheme to expand off-shore oil drilling...

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Guest: Eric Levitz of New York Magazine; Plus: Dems flip another legislative seat deep in the heart of 'Trump Country'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/21/2018 6:18pm PT  

On today's BradCast, students are mad as hell, for a lot of very good reasons, and now they are taking things into their own hands, not a moment too soon, by threatening to vote. Where Republicans appear to have little interest in helping them, Democrats certainly can and should, but they'll need to step up with a clear, progressive agenda to do exactly that in advance of the 2018 mid-terms. [Audio link to show is posted at end of story.]

First up today, there was another Special Election on Tuesday in another deep "red" district, this time in rural Kentucky, where Democrats picked up their 37th "red-to-blue" state legislative flip since the 2016 Presidential election. The GOP believes the "odd" circumstances around this particularly election make it an outlier (the Republican preacher who held the seat killed himself in December, following allegations of sexual misconduct with a 17-year old), and show little concern that Democrat Linda Belcher reportedly defeated her Republican opponent by some 36 points in a district that went to Trump in 2016 by 49 points. (That's a huge 86 point swing towards the Democrats, for those keeping score at home!)

Meanwhile, high school students across the country walked out of class on Wednesday to hit the streets in a call for gun safety legislation following last week's school shooting massacre in Parkland, Florida. Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School pressed lawmakers at the Florida statehouse in Tallahassee, where Republicans quickly voted to shelve the possibility for any major gun reform before the end of the legislation session early early next month. At the nation's capitol in D.C., among other places, students also marched and promised to vote out legislators who clung to support from the NRA while rejecting calls to reform our nation's permissive and deadly gun laws.

But while Democrats, in this environment, would seem well positioned to take over the U.S. House in this year's mid-terms, a recent series of Dem-sponsored focus groups reportedly finds voters complaining that while "Republicans have the wrong agenda, Democrats have no agenda."

We're joined today by ERIC LEVITZ, Associate Editor of the Daily Intelligencer blog at New York Magazine, to discuss that problem, by way of his recent article highlighting a new research paper [PDF] from the Levy Economics Institute at Bard College. The authors of the report found that, rather than blow a $1.5 trillion hole in the national debt with tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, as recently passed by the Republican Party, we could have completely wiped out every penny of the nation's collective and sky-rocketing student debt for the same or less cost. And that money, as Levitz reports, would have "benefited all Americans by increasing economic growth and lowering unemployment" by allowing young Americans to purchase new homes, cars and make other investments which would also help to raise middle-class wages.

Levitz describes the student loan debt as a real "crisis", which has spiraled wildly out of control since the 1990s. "You've got 44 million people saddled with these debts, and that's limiting their ability to participate in the economy. All of these wages that would be going into local businesses, and circulating throughout the economy, and creating markets and stimulating demand is going to either private lenders or actually the government," he argues, charging that the government could "just completely eliminate all that debt, which just so happens to be roughly the same price as the GOP tax cuts."

In another crazy idea cited by Levitz, the federal government could offer free tuition to public colleges and universities for the same cost we currently spend on grants and tax breaks for students, without saddling them with debt for decades. That's right, it would cost the federal government zero dollars to make tuition free at our public colleges and universities.

Isn't it time Democratic officials and candidates told voters what they are for, instead of only how much they are against Donald Trump and the Republican Party, by spelling out a clear, forward-thinking progressive agenda for the future? Just asking for a friend.

On that, however, Levitz does see some reason for some optimism in the spate of 2020 Democratic Presidential hopefuls who are finally embracing progressive ideals like healthcare-for-all legislation and even vowing to reject "dark money" from corporate PACs. (Oh, and here's Levitz' excellent article about Donald Trump's obscenely hypocritical plan to have Big Government tell poor people what they can eat, which I only had time to quickly reference on today's show.)

Finally today, a bit more encouraging news on the gun legislation front, as a Parkland father who lost his daughter in the shooting last week faces off at the White House with Donald Trump, and as a major GOP donor says he will not give one more penny to any politicians who fail to support a ban on military-style assault weapons...

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