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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, April 23, 2019
'Green News Report' 4/23/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Gas prices spike, will get worse as Trump vows new Iran sanctions; Mueller finds Russia stoked 2016 coal fights; EU curbs plastic pollution; PLUS: NYC goes big with Green New Deal...
Previous GNRs: 4/18/19 - 4/16/19 - Archives...
Mueller Report Reveals 2016 Vote Systems, Results Never Examined for Manipulation: 'BradCast' 4/22/19
Also: News avalanche; AOC 'looks back' from future; Callers ring in on impeachment...
Easter Sunday Toons!
'PDiddie' has been busy gathering a festive basket of colorful surprises for you in his latest weekly toon collection...
MUELLER REPORT DETAILS TRUMP'S REPEATED OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE: 'BradCast' 4/18/19
Guests: Zero Hour's Richard Eskow, Comm. to Investigate Russia's Jacki Schechner...
'Green News Report' 4/18/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Arrests at London climate protests; March 2019 third hottest ever; Bank of England's stark warning about climate risks; PLUS: Teen climate activist addresses EU Parliament...
Previous GNRs: 4/16/19 - 4/11/19 - Archives...
Another Cruel New Border Policy, More Impeachable Chaos: 'BradCast' 4/17/19
Guest: Sarah Pierce of Migration Policy Inst.; Also: Trump vetoes Congress ban on support for Saudi war in Yemen; Media (and Dems) can't handle Trump lawlessness...
The Billionaire Opportunists of Notre Dame:
'BradCast' 4/16/19
Also: WA adopts 'public option'; Fox town hall goes wild for Bernie; Warren to end drilling; Unspeakable cruelty of Trump immigration policies and a hero stands up to them...
'Green News Report' 4/16/19
Deadly tornadoes from TX to DE; Int. IG probing new Int. Sec.; WA's 100% clean electricity target; PLUS: 2020 Dems to expand renewables, combat climate change...
Institutions Burning (And How YOU Can Help Fight to Save One!): 'BradCast' 4/15/19
Guest: Author Josh Douglas; Also: Notre Dame burns; Trump flouts law, endangers Congresswoman; Buttigieg is in; GOPers in AR, TN move to game elections...
Sunday 'Black Hole' Toons
'PDiddie' fills a bunch of endless holes, voids and vacuums in his latest weekly toon collection...
'Beyond Background Checks':
'BradCast' 4/12/19
Dems need bold, progressive action for a safe, prosperous, just future, w/ guest Igor Volsky; Also: Lawless Trump; Regulatory capture; Freshmen Dems step up...
'Green News Report' 4/11/19
Trump authorizes self to authorize pipelines, strip states rights; New 'bomb cyclone'; Earth CO2 levels highest in 3M yrs; PLUS: Glaciers melting faster than predicted...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: Author, election law professor Joshua A. Douglas; Also: Notre Dame Cathedral burns; Trump flouts the law, endangers Congresswoman; Buttigieg makes it official; GOPers in AR and TN move to game elections...
By Brad Friedman on 4/15/2019 6:22pm PT  

Among the many stories we cover, before getting to our guest on today's BradCast --- as one institution after another feels as if they are burning to the ground, either literally or metaphorically [Audio link to full show is posted below]...

  • The historic, 850-year old Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was engulfed in flames today during renovations, with its famous spire and two-thirds of its roof collapsed, but its famous bell towers and Rose Windows hopefully spared;
  • The Dept. of Justice confirmed that, almost a month after Special Counsel Robert Mueller turned over his report on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, the Trump Campaign's coordination with the effort, and obstruction of justice by Donald Trump himself, a redacted version of the 400-page report would be given to both Congress and the public this Thursday;
  • Congressional Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee have agreed, for some reason, to extend their deadline for the IRS to turn over six years of Trump's tax returns until April 23, as the Administration continues to blatantly flaunt the decades-old federal law requiring the requested materials be given to Congress;
  • Death threats continued against Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) after the President of the United States posted a video on his Twitter feed which repeatedly used an out-of-context remark from the Somali-American Muslim Congresswoman to tie her, incredibly enough, to the 9/11 attacks, even after a Trump supporter last month was charged for calling her office to describe her as an "fucking terrorist" and vowing to "put a bullet in her fucking skull";
  • The 21-year old son of a white sheriff's deputy in Louisiana was officially charged with hate crimes after an arson spree which recently burned down three African-American churches in the state over 10 days;
  • And, on a far more more hopeful note, the 37-year old, openly gay, Afghanistan war vet and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg officially announced his run for the Democratic nomination for President over the weekend.

Next, speaking of elections, and before we are joined by our guest today, University of Kentucky College of Law election Professor JOSHUA A. DOUGLAS, a story of GOPers making it more difficult to register voters in Tennessee, and another on Republican state lawmakers working to make it next to impossible for progressives in Arkansas to place citizen initiatives on the ballot, after the state voted to increase the minimum wage via a ballot measure in 2018.

Douglas, author of the brand new book Vote for US: How to Take Back Our Elections and Change the Future of Voting, details a few of the stories from his book revealing how regular citizens in recent years have succeeded in pushing for local and state measures that have resulted in the expansion of the franchise, even in the face of the dark forces hoping to restrict access to the voting booth.

He shares, for example, the story of the Kentucky man who lost his right to vote for life in the state for stealing a car as a teenager decades ago, who was able to encourage his state's legislature to change the law to re-enfranchise those who have completed their sentences. And the story of the woman in Michigan whose anti-gerrymandering ballot initiative was adopted by voters last November. Both stories are told in more detail in his book. With so many stories in the news (and our program!) of voting rights being taken away or otherwise restricted, its important for folks to understand they can actually change that equation without relying on Congress or even major civil rights groups, often by taking action themselves.

"What I like to focus on, in addition to the doom and gloom that seems to invade our psyche with respect to the right to vote, are the positive stories of progress and success," Douglas tells me. "There's power in these inspiring stories that I tell in the book about ways to make our voting process more convenient and inclusive. We can quibble about some of the details, but hopefully the overarching message that we need to take back our elections through local grassroots work can really take hold."

With those hopeful notes, Douglas offers a list of groups and initiatives in his book who readers can contact and be inspired by to take action in their own home towns and states. We also discuss several emerging initiatives to expand access to voting, such as restoring voting rights to the incarcerated and even lowering the voting age to 16 (which is already being done for local elections in several jurisdictions!), as well as a number of initiatives on which we do not agree. That, of course, underscores the beauty of democracy...when we can actually find it. (Oh, and here's the link to where you can buy the book and a ticket to Josh's June 20 appearance at The Last Bookstore appearance here in L.A., as mentioned on the show!)

All of that, and even a quick --- rhyming --- listener call on today's program!...

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

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Guest: Former WI Supreme Court candidate Tim Burns; Also: Courts block Trump 'Obamacare' attacks; WI's Supreme Court election is a big deal...
By Brad Friedman on 3/29/2019 6:36pm PT  

On today's BradCast, some facts --- real ones, not Mitch McConnell's --- about our nation's healthy history of changing the number of seats on the U.S. Supreme Court, which we have done seven different times over the past 238 years since our founding. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But, first up quickly today, Donald Trump has taken yet another hit from the courts on his attempt to undermine the Affordable Care Act and the U.S. healthcare system. It's the second such court loss he's faced over the past week, with the first court nixing his attempt to allow work requirements under Medicaid in Kentucky and Arkansas, and the second on Thursday night finding his allowance of cheap health insurance policies that don't meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") to be unlawful. That second ruling comes courtesy of a well-respected George W. Bush-appointed federal judge who is rarely reversed by appellate courts.

Next, a preview of a very important election on Tuesday in Wisconsin for its state Supreme Court. Its the first of two elections to the high court in the Badger State (one on Tuesday and the other next year on the same day as the Democratic Presidential primary election in WI) that could result in a progressive-leaning majority, at long last, being restored to WI's high court. Control of that court is wildly important for both the state and the nation on a number of fronts, which we discuss today, including voting rights before the 2020 election, redistricting for the next decade after the 2020 Census, and the rollback of a host of anti-union and other hard-right policies enacted during the gerrymandered Scott Walker years.

Tuesday's match-up is between progressive-backed Judge Lisa Neubauer and Koch Industries/Chamber of Commerce-backed Judge Brian Hagedorn, a protege of former Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Hagedorn has called Planned Parenthood a "wicked organization" devoted to "killing babies", described the NAACP as "a disgrace to America", and argued "The idea that homosexual behavior is different than bestiality as a constitutional matter is unjustifiable."

But while voters in WI directly select their Supreme Court at the ballot box (which I am no fan of), the U.S. Supreme Court is a different matter. After Senate Republicans stole what should have been a Democratic majority on the court in 2016 by refusing to even hold a vote on Judge Merrick Garland, Barack Obama's nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell held the seat vacant for a year before unilaterally changing Senate rules to do away with the filibuster to allow Neil Gorsuch to be seated on the high court. Later, under those same changed rules, the far-rightwing, accused sexual-predator Brett Kavanaugh was similarly added to the Court, likely cementing a generation of GOP-control.

In response, many progressives --- even Presidential candidates --- are now calling for the expansion of SCOTUS if Democrats can regain control of the U.S. House, Senate and White House next year, in order to restore a liberal-leaning majority that arguably should have been theirs in 2016. Naturally, McConnell is already decrying the idea, describing it on Thursday, ironically enough, as "an unprincipled power grab...that would threaten the rule of law and our American Judicial system." He cites the attempted court packing by Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s to support his notion that changing the size of the Court is "a thoroughly discredited idea".

We're joined today by Wisconsin attorney and former state Supreme Court nominee TIM BURNS for both thoughts on Tuesday's crucial election in the state ("The stakes are huge," he explains) and the little-known history of "court packing" in the U.S. More specifically, Burns, who wrote about the issue recently at The New Republic, discusses the seven different times since the founding of our republic when the number of seats on the U.S. Supreme Court has been changed by Congress, including under one of our founders Thomas Jefferson and even under Republican Party icon Abraham Lincoln.

Burns, who serves on the board of the progressive Wisconsin Justice Initiative and the national board of the American Constitution Society, argues that contrary to misleading claims by McConnell and fellow Republicans, changes made to the size of SCOTUS by the Legislative and Executive Branches, as called for by the U.S. Constitution, have been healthy for the nation, often coming "hand in hand with some of the most vibrant periods of our democracy," and in response to the out-sized growth of corporate power.

"There have always been these predictions of the utter ruin of our democracy if the size of the Court is changed," Burns tells me. "The truth is, the Court's been viewed favorably even after its size has changed." And while he says that it's "entirely possible" that Republicans could then do the same thing once they regain power, "that doesn't spell the doom of our democracy. It says that our democracy is working. The political power rests with the voter instead of nine lawyers, judges on a Supreme Court."

Perhaps that's why Senate GOPers this week have introduced a measure calling for a Constitutional Amendment to keep the number of seats on the Court at nine. Good luck with that, boys.

Most interesting, however, may be Burns' fascinating recounting of what happened when FDR attempted unsuccessfully to expand the Court in what McConnell falsely described as an historic event that resulted in the idea of "Court Packing" becoming "synonymous in American history with the idea of an unprincipled power grab". What actually happened in the 1930s, and why the Court was ultimately not expanded under FDR is a fascinating bit of lost history and quite different from the way it has been described in lore. The truth places new calls to expand the Court today, during this period of unprecedented partisanship and class-divide under a hard-Right SCOTUS, into a very different light and perspective as this debate kicks off both in the nation and among Democrats vying for the 2020 Presidential nomination....

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

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Guest: Suzanne Almeida of Common Cause; Also: Lack of campaign finance charges against Don Jr., Manafort threaten 2020 elections...
By Brad Friedman on 3/27/2019 6:02pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Something seemingly very interesting may have occurred at Tuesday's oral arguments on two separate, if related, partisan redistricting cases at the U.S. Supreme Court. The results, believe it or not, could change the outcome from what many voting rights advocates had previously predicted following the resignation of Justice Anthony Kennedy and the subsequent seating of his far-right replacement Justice Brett Kavanaugh. [Audio link to complete show is posted at end of article.]

The scourge of state legislative and Congressional maps drawn for partisan advantage by the party in power after a decennial Census has crippled democracy and the voting power of citizens for decades in the U.S. But the GOP dramatically upped the stakes following the 2010 Census when they employed highly sophisticated computer mapping techniques to ensure themselves huge electoral advantages over the ensuing ten years by drawing extremely partisan maps that "packed" Democrats into a small number of districts or "cracked" them among several in order to dilute the voting power of non-Republicans.

It's a practice that Democrats have carried out as well, if not to the same extreme as Republicans who took over many statehouses in the 2010 "red wave" election. A new analysis from AP finds that 2018's "blue tsunami" election, for example, would have been much larger for Congressional Democrats, were it not for many extremely partisan GOP-drawn maps in a number of key states, including North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Alabama and Texas. The AP study finds "Republicans won about 16 more U.S. House seats" than they would have under fair maps. Similarly, "Republicans' structural advantage might have helped them hold on to as many as seven [state legislative] chambers that otherwise could have flipped to Democrats."

While the U.S. Supreme Court has long found gerrymanders on a racial basis to be unconstitutional, they've yet to affirm the many lower court rulings finding partisan gerrymanders to be similarly unconstitutional. Last term, when many believed SCOTUS was prepared to do so, the Court punted instead on several cases of extreme partisan maps in Wisconsin, North Carolina and elsewhere, before Justice Kennedy --- thought to have been the likely swing-vote in favor of ending the odious practice --- announced his retirement.

On Tuesday, one of those cases, Common Cause v. Rucho --- where a federal appeals court determined (twice!) that North Carolina's Congressional maps were unlawfully skewed for Republicans (they've held a 10 to 3 advantage in their Congressional delegation for the past decade, despite the state being almost evenly divided between Republican and Democratic voters) --- was heard again at SCOTUS. Another case, Benesik v. Lamone, in which a single Congressional district in Maryland was drawn by Democrats specifically to remove an incumbent Republican, was heard as well.

And while many voting rights advocates have not had high hopes for either case, given the even farther-right leaning majority on the court following Kennedy's retirement, there were some surprises during oral argument, particularly from Justice Kavanaugh whose decision in one or both of the cases could change history by delivering a major win for voting rights.

We're joined today to discuss these potentially encouraging developments with SUZANNE ALMEIDA, Redistricting and Representation Counsel for Common Cause, the lead plaintiff in the NC case. She was in the Court on Tuesday for both hearings and explains what seems to have happened, offers insight on what could now occur, decries why these cases are so important, and what may happen when SCOTUS finally delivers it's crucial opinion in June in advance of both the crucial 2020 elections and the subsequent redistricting of all 50 states that will follow the 2020 Census.

"The North Carolina case is a particularly egregious case, for a couple of reasons," Almeida tells me. "One is that we have an admission. On the floor of the General Assembly, Representative Lewis leaned into a microphone and said, 'This is a partisan gerrymander. I wanted to this map to be 10-3 because it couldn't be 11-2.' That's not the way that map-drawing should work, and that's not the way representation should work in America." She also discusses, for example, how one district line drawn by the GOP in North Carolina actually splits an historically African-American college in two, so that its voters are diluted into two separate Republican-leaning districts.

As to the matter concerning Kavanaugh, who was reportedly disturbed by his own district in Maryland, where he lives, being gerrymandered by Democrats to prevent Republican representation, Almeida confirms that he seemed to want to find a standard that could be used by courts to determine if districts were unlawfully gerrymandered on a partisan basis. She says she shares "the characterization that Justice Kavanaugh has a personal interest in the Maryland case ... And he was pushing back quite strongly against the advocate for the state."

Almeida also pushed back at the notion from Justices on the right that Courts should simply stay out of these matters, and leave them to voters and the legislators who drew the maps to keep themselves in power in the first place, she tells me: "This idea that the Court has that somehow this is self-correcting, or will fix itself through the magic of the political process, just doesn't work. And that's because gerrymandering is about power, and people in power staying in power. And when the people in power have that power to make the rules and draw the lines, that's what they're going to keep doing."

She adds that comments from Kavanaugh and even Chief Justice Roberts during the proceedings on Tuesday are "reason to be optimistic". But I'll wait until the opinions come out in June before popping any champagne bottles on what could be, according to Mark Joseph Stern at Slate the "most important voting rights victory of the century so far."

Also on today's program: Speaking of 2020, some curious questions about why nobody from Team Trump --- particularly Donald Trump Jr. or campaign chair Paul Manafort --- has yet been charged with campaign finance violations regarding "soliciting" and/or "accepting" a "thing of value" from a foreign government, as clearly occurred in relation to the now-infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a number of Russian nationals. Election law expert Rick Hasen argues that the lack of indictments brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in this matter does not bode well for the Dept. of Justice's plans to enforce election laws that bar "foreign governments from sharing information --- even information obtained from illegal hacking --- with campaigns, for the purposes of influencing the 2020 election...and beyond"...

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

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Record flooding in Midwest; Beto, Bernie and Buttigieg; The definitive truth about Daylight Saving Time...
By Brad Friedman on 3/18/2019 6:59pm PT  

We're happy to have the long-overdue return of great legal journalist MARK JOSEPH STERN of Slate on today's BradCast! As usual, we cover a whole bunch of important topics at lightning speed [Audio link to today's show is posted at end of article.]

But first, some quick news headlines on the record flooding of the Missouri River now wreaking havoc, evacuations and several deaths in parts of Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri. Damage has also affected a number of military bases, despite Donald Trump's recent plans to form a "Blue Ribbon Commission" of climate science deniers to rebut military assessments about the serious dangers of climate change posed to national security and military facilities.

Also, some interesting background info today on 2020 Democratic Presidential primary candidate Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana as well as his position on climate change and the Green New Deal. And, some news today that recently-declared 2020 Presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke raised a jaw-dropping $6.1 million in the first 24 hours after entering the race last week, exceeding Bernie Sanders' previous record haul of $5.9 million a few weeks earlier. Both candidates blew away all other current Democratic contenders so far with those numbers --- for what it's worth.

Then, we're joined by Stern to catch up on a boatload noteworthy legal issues moving through the federal and state court systems. Among them...

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, late last week, upheld lower court rulings ordering a State Senate district in Mississippi found to have been a racial gerrymander to be redrawn before the state's off-year 2019 elections. That, as the U.S. Supreme Court today heard a confusing oral argument regarding 11 racially gerrymandering districts in Virginia, where lower courts have already ordered new maps to be drawn in advance of 2019 state legislative elections likely to determine whether Democrats regain majorities in either or both chambers of the state legislature.

And all of that comes in advance of a SCOTUS hearing next week regarding partisan gerrymanders in several others states before the 2020 elections, when control of both Congress and many state legislatures will be up for grabs before the redistricting that will follow the 2020 Census to help determine balances of power in all 50 states and Congress for the next decade.

Stern describes all of this as the nation finding itself in the middle of an all-out "gerrymandering brawl...a kind of legal convulsion over how much our lawmakers can draw partisan district lines to swing elections in their favor." He cautions that racial gerrymanders --- long ago found to be unconstitutional --- may not be found as such anymore in the GOP's new, stolen Court. And that the question of partisan gerrymandering, which Justice Anthony Kennedy could have ended before retiring, is now a complete unknown. "The whole thing is upside-down, inside-out," he tells me, warning to "be afraid. Be very afraid" of Justice Clarence Thomas' varying and bizarre "back and forth" positions on these matters.

Stern offers slightly better news for us regarding the last-ditch appeal of a previously blocked law created by disgraced GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach, the former Sec. of State of Kansas and failed 2018 Republican Gubernatorial candidate. That law, repeatedly found by lower courts to be unconstitutional, had blocked tens of thousands of legal Kansas voters from being able to register to vote without presenting proof of citizenship first. All, as the trial court judge found in 2016, to prevent what amounted to 11 votes by non-citizens cast between 1999 and 2013 out of tens of millions of votes cast by the state's 1.76 million registered voters.

Meanwhile, in Connecticut late last week, the state's Supreme Court made what Stern describes as a "stunning" ruling in a suit brought by parents of children killed in the 2012 gun massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The case is filed against gun manufacturer Remington, makers of the Bushmaster AR-15 style weapon used to gun down 20 school kids and 6 adults. The court held, as Stern explains, that plaintiffs may move forward with their suit against the company, despite a unique federal law that otherwise grants completely immunity to gun manufacturers for the use of their deadly products. The suit is being brought under a state statute which, plaintiffs argue, allows them to sue Remington for irresponsibly dangerous advertising of the Bushmaster rifle. The state high court's ruling will now allow the case to continue and for plaintiffs' important discovery access to internal communications by the manufacturer, the gun industry and its advertising firms.

We also discuss a recent disturbing ruling from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on an Ohio state GOP law that blocks all funding to Planned Parenthood. Stern describes the ruling as a foreboding omen for what he sees as the likely full dismantling of Roe v. Wade at SCOTUS, already under way, he charges, by "a thousand cuts" at the lower court level in several states where Trump appointees are quickly filling vacancies on federal benches.

And, finally, the most important issue of all today (obviously): "The evils of Standard Time", the awesomeness of Daylight Saving Time, and those who are completely wrong in hating it, as well as the many, as Stern recently reported, who do not seem to even have an understanding of what it is! (Versus Standard Time that actually ruins everybody's lives for months on end by keeping us all in dangerous and debilitating darkness all winter long!)...

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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McConnell won't allow Senate vote on HR-1 or restoration of Voting Rights Act; Also: Hand-marked paper ballots for PA County; Cohen sues Trump Org; Brown won't run in 2020; GOPers re-thinking climate denial...
By Brad Friedman on 3/7/2019 6:18pm PT  

54 years to the day after the Bloody Sunday march in Selma, Alabama led to the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, and nearly 6 years following the rightwing U.S. Supreme Court's gutting of the VRA's most crucial provision, Republicans in Congress are still both blocking its restoration and working to prevent the Democrats' newly introduced and much-needed effort to expand voting rights. That's just one of a number of outrages on today's BradCast, otherwise brought to you with no small measures of hope to counter-balance the outrages. [Audio link to today's complete show is posted below.]

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

  • Michael Cohen is suing the Trump Organization for at least $1.9 million dollars to cover his legal expenses which they had apparently promised to pay --- at least until Cohen began cooperating with federal investigators.
  • Another worthy Democratic Senator, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, announces he will not seek the Democratic nomination in 2020. He joins Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Attorney General Eric Holder and (for the most part) Hillary Clinton who all declared this week that they will not be seeking the Presidency this year.
  • Some good news for voters out of the Republican-leaning Butler County, Pennsylvania. Officials there have decided to dump their 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in favor of hand-marked paper ballots. The local news report of this common sense measure in at least this one corner of the important swing-state is somewhat of a hoot, as we share on today's program.
  • Meanwhile, back in Congress, House Democrats will soon be holding a vote on HR-1, the "For the People Act", a massive elections and ethics measure which, among things things, calls for automatic universal voter registration; the expansion of early voting; an end to mass voter purges; independent redistricting commissions to avoid partisan gerrymandering; allows every voter in America to cast their vote on a hand-marked paper ballot; endorses D.C. statehood; requires disclosure of funders to dark money groups; and requires Presidential candidates to release their tax returns. Naturally, Republicans oppose the measure, and Mitch McConnell vows to not allow it to see the light of day in the U.S. Senate, even if it passes in the U.S. House as expected.
  • Similarly, Democrats in the House and Senate have introduced the Voting Rights Advancement Act, a bill to restore Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, by reinstating the requirement for the federal government to pre-approve new election-related laws in jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination at the polls. Naturally, Republicans oppose the measure, and Mitch McConnell vows to not allow it to see the light of day in the U.S. Senate, even if it passes in the U.S. House as expected.
  • Next, there is some curious movement in the Republican Congressional caucus in regard to climate change. Clearly reading the writing on the wall, as the public overwhelmingly not only believes in global warming but is becoming increasingly concerned about it, longtime GOP science deniers in both the House and Senate are finally admitting that man-made greenhouse gas emissions are the cause of it. The recent introduction of the wildly popular Green New Deal by Democrats --- a sweeping effort to move the nation to 100% carbon-neutral energy sources and provide millions of jobs over the next ten years --- is another reason Republicans are now acknowledging they must do something about climate change, if only for appearances. We discuss what could be a sea-change (or not) in this long, existential battle today.
  • Finally, on related matters, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with disturbing news on toxic coal ash waste found in groundwater in 39 states, plastic pollution found in the deepest parts of the ocean, former military officials slamming the Trump Administration over their climate change denial, and Democrats vowing --- as they now are with elections and voting rights, as well --- to go on the offensive in the U.S. Senate...

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2020 Presidential primary news; GOP election fraud news in NC and VA; Bad news for our wildly corrupt President; and much more news...
By Brad Friedman on 3/5/2019 6:07pm PT  

That headline will make sense once you listen to the show. With the news "only" turned up to 11 today (as opposed to its usual 12 or 13), we're able to catch up on a whole bunch of important stories, breaking and otherwise, on today's BradCast. [Audio link is posted below.]

Among those many stories...

  • Oregon U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Senator, Sec. of State and 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton all announce they will not be running for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2020. That's mostly good news, as we discuss;
  • A southern Indiana election board is considering using hand-marked and hand-COUNTED paper ballots in an upcoming local primary election. That's definitely good news;
  • North Carolina's State Board of Elections announces the dates for the redo election(s) in the state's 2018 U.S. House race for the 9th Congressional District. The first one was nullified a week or so ago, due to Republican absentee ballot election fraud by a GOP contractor on behalf of the disgraced candidate and Baptist preacher Mark Harris. The Democratic candidate, Marine vet and businessman Dan McCready, has already announced he will be running again, and only one Republican, so far, has announced his intention to run in the do-over contest. That one candidate, Union County Commissioner Stony Rushing --- endorsed by Harris (ouch) --- turns out to be a real peach, as we explain with some help from Daily Kos' Jeff Singer;
  • Also in NC, the judge who nullified two state Constitutional Amendments, one of which would have imposed disenfranchising Photo ID voting restrictions, stands by his recent ruling to nix the measures on the basis that the state legislature that placed them on the ballot had been "illegally constituted" by unlawful racial gerrymanders in several NC legislative districts;
  • And, speaking of GOP election fraud, in Virginia, the criminal investigation into (now-former) Republican Rep. Scott Taylor and his paid campaign staffers who forged petition signatures to place an independent candidate on the ballot in 2018, continues. The GOP scheme, exposed before the election last year, included what a judge described as "out-and-out fraud" via forged signatures from people who had long ago died or moved. The failed scheme was meant by the Republicans to dilute the votes of Taylor's Democratic challenger, now-freshman Rep. Elaine Luria, in VA's 2nd U.S. House District;
  • A huge majority of American voters now believe, 64 to 24%, that Donald Trump committed crimes before becoming President, with a smaller plurality believing he also has committed crimes since becoming President, according to new polling from Quinnipiac.
  • Meanwhile, Trump characterized the new House majority Democrats' several burgeoning investigations into his and his associates myriad apparent crimes as a "big, fat, fishing expedition", "PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!", "nonsense" and "a disgrace to our country" today. He charged the "real crime is what the Dems are doing." But, as we discuss today, the long, LONG overdue exercise of Congressional oversight into an unprecedentedly corrupt Presidency is anything but. We list an astonishing number of potential crimes now under the Democrats' microscope thanks to the House Judiciary Committee's massive document requests sent Monday to more than 80 Trump associates, family members, organizations and institutions. That, as we also note, is just the tip of the iceberg for what is still to come, thanks to voters who put Democrats back in charge in the House last November;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with tragic news out of Alabama, stupid news out of CPAC, and important news at the EPA and from the latest Democratic candidates entering the 2020 Presidential contest...

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A decade of unconstitutional racial gerrymandering led to this moment...
By Brad Friedman on 2/7/2019 6:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Yes, Virginia, there is a problem with race (and hate) in the Commonwealth. But Democrats would be wise to take a breath and notice what's really going on there before making critical political decisions out of fear. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The media are all over the astonishing crisis that has overtaken VA state politics in the past week, since a Republican website revealed a racist photo on Governor Ralph Northam's 1984 yearbook page, and a serious sexual assault allegation leveled against Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax, while Attorney General Mark Herring subsequently announced that he had donned blackface while dressing as one of his favorite rappers for a party 40 years ago when he was 19. The political futures of all three Democrats now hang precariously in the balance, with top Dems (and media elite) both inside and outside of VA demanding Northam resign, despite the complete lack of evidence to suggest he is a racist in the 35 years since the photo was published. As we discussed on Monday's program, Northam claims he knew nothing about the photo until last week, as he hadn't purchased the yearbook.

But with Fairfax --- an African-American and first in line to succeed the Governor, should he step down --- facing a serious assault allegation (which he has repeatedly denied) and some calls for Herring --- second in the line of succession --- to step down, echoing those leveled against the Governor, the next state official in the line of succession is Republican House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox.

Cox is in that role, thanks only to a questionably "tied" Delegate election in 2017 that left the GOP in control of the House, after a Republican election judge changed his mind in order to create the tie, and a subsequent lot was drawn from a ceramic bowl to break it.

Far more notably, and far less reported, is that a decade of unconstitutionally gerrymandered House of Delegates districts drawn by the GOP to dilute the voting power of African-Americans gave Republicans as many as 8 more delegates in the House than they likely would have won with fair districts. One of those districts was "won" by Speaker Cox himself, according to a new district map ordered for use in this year's 2019 House elections by a panel of federal judges just weeks ago. Without the racial gerrymander, he likely wouldn't be in the House at all, much less in a position to become the next Governor, replacing a guy who admitted only that he put shoe polish on his face to dress as Michael Jackson in a dance contest 25 years ago.

We break down the entire mess today to, hopefully, shed some light on the FULL story of what's going on there, and how Democrats' fearful and breathless rush to avoid charges of hypocrisy may be serving to simply do themselves in for no good or even smart reason.

Also today: Republicans are freaking out about wildly popular ideas such as increasing taxes on the wealthy and a "Green New Deal" (a resolution officially introduced today by Democratic freshman Rep. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez [D-NY] and veteran Senator Ed Markey [D-MA]). They are so alarmed that over at Fox "News", anchors are describing increased taxes on rich people as an attack on Capitalism itself, and programs like the Green New Deal as "Venezuela-styled socialism". But the laugh out loud part is when one wingnut Fox personality explains why, he claims, that such programs are now so popular among voters of all political persuasions. AOC's Twitter response was priceless.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for details on all of that and with the latest Green News Report, on Trump's "disgraceful" failure to mention climate change at this week's State of the Union Address, despite hundreds of Americans killed and displaced over this past year alone, which is now, officially, the fourth hottest year since record-keeping began...

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Guest: Analiese Eicher of One Wisconsin Now; Also: MI's new Dem SoS looks to settle gerrymander case; Buzzfeed charges Trump told Cohen to lie to feds about Moscow Trump Tower project...
By Brad Friedman on 1/18/2019 6:38pm PT  

On today's BradCast, good news for voters in Wisconsin and Michigan, not nearly as good news for Donald Trump. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, the White House is desperately scrambling for new distractions from Trump's unpopular, nearly month-long federal government shutdown and, of more pressing import for the President on Friday, an explosive report published Thursday night by BuzzFeed News. The otherwise uncorroborated article alleges that Trump instructed his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to federal investigators about the Trump Organization's proposed deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. The story cites two unnamed sources as "federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter" and claims that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office learned about the directive "through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents."

Cohen has admitted to lying to Congress and federal investigators about a number of matters and was sentenced last November to three years in prison after cooperating with Mueller's probe. If the story proves true that Trump instructed him to lie about the project --- which was reportedly still being worked on by Trump through June of 2016, much later than he had initially admitted --- it would, according to Democrats today, amount to evidence of the subornation of perjury as well as obstruction of justice, both impeachable offenses.

We also share the reaction today from Trump and the White House, neither of which denied the reporting initially, choosing to attack Cohen and BuzzFeed instead. Later, Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani asserted that "Any suggestion --- from any source --- that the President counseled Michael Cohen to lie is categorically false." [POST-SHOW UPDATE: In a rare and carefully worded statement issued late Friday evening by Mueller's office, after we got off air, they disputed BuzzFeed's "description of specific statements...and characterization of documents and testimony obtained" by the Special Counsel.]

In other news today, a federal judge in Wisconsin on Thursday made short order of a challenge to new limits on Early Voting and allowable polling place IDs in the state after Republicans rammed through new restrictions during an extraordinary lame-duck session of the legislature last December, following Governor Scott Walker's re-election loss in the November midterm election. Thanks to heavy turnout, including record Early Voting numbers, Democrats won every statewide contest on the ballot and 54% of the votes for the State Assembly. But, thanks to partisan gerrymandering by state Republicans, they won only one third of its seats.

In a terse, 5-page ruling [PDF] on Thursday, U.S. District Judge James Peterson ruled it was "not a close question" that the GOP's newly enacted voting restrictions were an unconstitutional violation of voting rights, just as he had found nearly identical provisions to be, as passed by GOP lawmakers in 2016.

We're joined today by ANALIESE EICHER, one of the named plaintiffs from One Wisconsin Now's lawsuit challenging both the 2016 law and the late 2018 lame-duck version which Walker signed just days before leaving office. In addition to that court victory on Thursday, the non-partisan group had another on Friday, when a different court ruled that Republican lawmakers were in violation of the First Amendment by blocking the organization and others on Twitter. (Heads up, Alabama Sec. of State John Merrill!)

In neighboring Michigan, the new Democratic Sec. of State Jocelyn Benson announced she was seeking a settlement with Democratic challengers to the legislative and Congressional districts drawn by Republicans in that state. The previous Sec. of State, a Republican, was preparing to defend what Dems describe, with very good evidence, to be an extreme and unconstitutional partisan gerrymander after the 2010 Census. (One such piece of evidence are emails from GOP lawmakers discussing districts mean to "give the finger" to a former Democrat Congressman, and to "cram ALL the Dem garbage" into four districts so Republicans could control more seats across the state.)

A settlement with the newly seated SoS could result in new district maps drawn before the 2020 election. Last November, MI voters approved a ballot initiative that would put an independent redistricting commission in charge of drawing maps following the 2020 Census.

Finally today, we're sent off into the weekend with a pretty hilarious song about Donald Trump's wall, courtesy of satirist Randy Rainbow...

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HUD closure threatens evictions; Pence makes false immigration claims; SCOTUS on redistricting; 2018 'blue wave' bringing good news for Americans in FL, MI, ME and elsewhere across the country...
By Brad Friedman on 1/8/2019 6:25pm PT  

The effects of the federal government's partial shutdown, now in its third week, continue to worsen, even as the effects of last year's 'blue wave' election continue to make things much better for Americans across the country. Among the stories covered on today's BradCast [audio link is posted below]...

  • The shutdown is causing "a mess" for potentially tens of thousands of American families who live in properties subsidized by the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development. They may soon face rent increases or eviction due to HUD's failure to renew thousands of contracts before and during the agency's closure;
  • Vice President Mike Pence made the media rounds in advance of Trump's Tuesday night prime-time Oval Office remarks (which TV networks didn't allow for Obama), in hopes of drumming up support for the Administration's false claim there is a national security crisis on the border which may precipitate a Presidential declaration of a "national emergency". Pence offered a number of false claims in the bargain, which even some GOPers were scoffing at today;
  • With Trump having boxed himself into this protracted shutdown mess, a "national emergency" declaration may be his only face-saving way out of it. It would likely result in Republicans allowing a vote in the Senate for reopening the government, even as the declaration would face court challenges over its legality and, essentially, do little more than steal tax-payer money from national defense as U.S. troops are tasked with building Trump's southern border wall;
  • The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to hear two partisan gerrymandering cases this session (from Maryland and North Carolina), which may not be good news following the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy;
  • But, in better news from SCOTUS today, the Court rejected a plea from Virginia Republicans to delay a lower-court mandated remapping of districts for its House of Delegates in advance of this November's off-year legislative elections in the state. Twelve of those districts were previously found by the lower court to be unconstitutional racial gerrymanders;
  • Meanwhile, last year's midterm 'blue wave' is already yielding dividends for the nation. In Maine, the nation's dumbest now-thankfully-former Governor Paul LePage certified what he declared to be a "stolen election" for the U.S. House on his way out the door, and the state's new Democratic Governor Janet Mills signed legislation on her first day on the job that will finally give access to healthcare to some 70,000 Mainers under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) Medicaid Expansion that had been blocked for some eight years by the former Republican Governor;
  • And, in further good news following last year's midterms, Florida's Amendment 4, adopted by nearly 65 percent of voters in November, kicked in on Tuesday to allow as many as 1.4 million former felons the right to vote in a state that is notorious for its close elections. Despite claims by some Republicans that "implementing language" may need to be enacted, County Supervisors of Elections began allowing registrations under the new Amendment for most former felons who have served their time. The result could be a sea change for the state in 2020, not to mention for the rest of the nation where Florida's electoral votes are key to Presidential elections;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the first Green News Report of 2019, where last year's 'blue wave' is also being positively felt on the environmental front at both the state and federal level, even as Trump's shutdown is trashing national parks and blocking important scientific research...

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Guest: OneWisconsinNow's Analiese Eicher; Also: Updates on the GOP absentee ballot election fraud probe in the NC-9 U.S. House race...
By Brad Friedman on 12/4/2018 6:41pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The GOP's utter contempt for democracy and voters is now on full display in several states where things did not go well for the party during the November midterms, and nowhere more so than Wisconsin. [Audio link to show follows below.]

In states where Democratic candidates did well in last month's midterms, leading to a loss of control by Republican lawmakers, there is now a desperate and brazen scramble in lame duck legislative sessions to pass laws in hopes of robbing power from incoming Democrats before they can be seated. In Michigan, for example, where Dems won statewide races for Governor and Secretary of State and voters overwhelmingly adopted ballot initiatives to expand voting rights, GOPers are jamming through last-minute legislation to prevent the Election Day registration that voters had adopted.

In North Carolina, the Republican-controlled state legislature is ramming through a Photo ID restriction law before they lose their Super-Majority to override Democratic Governor Roy Cooper's vetoes. That action is particularly hypocritical as the state is in the midst of a massive absentee ballot election fraud scandal, apparently perpetrated by a GOP contractor and former felon hired by Republican Mark Harris in his race against Democrat Dan McCready for the U.S. House seat in the state's 9th district. Republicans claim that Photo ID voting restrictions at the polling place are necessary to prevent fraud --- of which there is little or none by voters --- even while calling for Harris to be certified by the state despite clear evidence of serious absentee ballot fraud on behalf of the Republican candidate. We've got more new details on that ongoing probe today, which has prevented Harris' reported win --- by just 905 votes out of more than 280,000 tallied --- from being certified by the state Board of Elections.

But it is Wisconsin today where the GOP is attempting perhaps the most audacious power grab in the nation this year. As Republican Gov. Scott Walker was voted out in November in favor of Democrat Tony Evers, the GOP is attempting to usurp the powers of the incoming Governor, along with Democratic Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul, on a litany of issues before they can be sworn in. The new provisions, never mentioned by Republicans during the campaign, were introduced suddenly in a massive 144-page bill unveiled late last Friday night in a special legislative lame duck session called before Walker is finally out.

Despite Democrats having won every statewide contest on the ballot in Wisconsin's 2018 midterms, Republicans were able to retain control of the wildly gerrymandered State Assembly. They received just 45 percent of the vote overall, but will nonetheless control 63 of 99 seats in the Assembly. This week, they are using that ill-gotten legislative muscle to swipe the incoming Governor and AG's powers. They hope to block the Democrats' campaign promises to expand healthcare and ease suppressive voting restrictions (which arguably resulted in enough voter disenfranchisement to narrowly give the state to Donald Trump in 2016). Republicans are also attempting to restrict early voting in 2020 in hopes of avoiding losses similar to those suffered by GOPers in 2018. The unprecedented Republican power grab has led to protests at the state capital in Madison this week of the type not seen since shortly after Walker took power in 2011 and immediately worked with the Republican legislature to strip collective bargaining rights from public union members.

We're joined today by OneWisconsinNow's ANALIESE EICHER --- a plaintiff in the 2016 federal case which struck down the WI GOP's previous attempt to curtail early voting --- to detail the outrageous and unprecedented #WIGOPPowerGrab being strong-armed through the state legislature tonight.

"What we're seeing here is the obliteration of the separation of powers," Eicher tells me. "We know that when Republicans don't like the results, they seek to change the rules and to change how things operate. With Democrats sweeping six statewide elections here in Wisconsin, the only option for the Republicans to maintain what they thought was their really, really great unilateral control of the State of Wisconsin is to make changes."

"We're seeing everything from limiting local governments' abilities to do work on their roads, limiting their abilities to pay a prevailing wage, changing the makeup and composition of boards and commissions in Wisconsin, so that the legislature has equal or more power than the Governor in regards to appointments. We're seeing change's to people's abilities to get healthcare and receive benefits," she says.

"We're seeing changes to the Attorney General's office, as to whether the Attorney General can leave a lawsuit or join a lawsuit," she explains, referring to Kaul's vow to remove WI from the federal lawsuit by several GOP-controlled states challenging the Constitutionality of ObamaCare and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions. "This extraordinary session bill severely limits his ability to essentially do what he campaigned on, and what people voted for him to do."

As one Democrat noted during hearings today in Madison, the action being taken by the legislature "will invalidate the results of the will of the people and shows direct contempt for the voters". But, of course, that is the whole idea, since Republicans now clearly hate democracy. Eicher argues Republicans "want to stay in power, no matter what the cost" and suggests "voters are not responding well to what's happening in this extraordinary session." She believes they will pay a price for this in 2020.

Finally today, we're joined by Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report, with a look at the late George H.W. Bush's environmental legacy, Donald Trump's isolation of the U.S. on climate change policy at the recent G20 meeting in Argentina, and a warning for the world issued this week as the annual U.N. climate summit opened this week in Poland...

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern with legal insight on a fire hose of news, from Ivanka's emails to Whitaker's appointment to Trump's trouble in court to encouraging midterm push-back against partisan gerrymandering...
By Brad Friedman on 11/20/2018 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we fly through a mountain of incoming stories (with the help of a great guest!) as the news gods seem to be unleashing a tidal wave in advance of the Thanksgiving Day holiday. [Audio link posted below. Buckle up before clicking.]

Among the ridiculous number of stories covered today...

  • Five are dead after three shootings in three different states over the past 24 hours;
  • Despite warning of an "invasion" on the U.S. southern border by a migrant caravan from Central America prior to the midterm elections, now that the elections are done, the Trump Administration is reportedly withdrawing more than 5,000 military troops they had deployed to the border just weeks ago;
  • The President's daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump reportedly sent hundreds of government related emails via a private email server over the course of 2017 in the months following her father's election in which he repeatedly called for his opponent, Hillary Clinton, to be "locked up" for doing the same thing. Ivanka's husband, Jared Kushner, also a senior adviser to Trump, reportedly used the same private server for government-related communications.

On the election results front...

  • Republican Rep. Will Hurd has reportedly squeaked out a victory over Democratic challenger Gina Ortiz Jones in Texas' 23rd Congressional District. The contest was among a handful of still-undecided races;
  • At the same time, Democrat Ben McAdams appears to have pulled back into the lead over GOP Rep. Mia Love in Utah's 4th Congressional District, where it now appears McAdams will be the victor by fewer than 700 votes out of some 270,000 tallied, flipping yet another U.S. House seat from "red" to "blue". The final margin is reportedly 0.258%, just above the 0.25% that would have allowed Love to request a recount in the otherwise ruby "red" state.
  • When the few remaining undecided U.S. House seats are called, Democrats appear on track to have picked up an extraordinary 39 seats in their "blue wave".
  • One of the three still-undecided House races is in Georgia, where this year's Libertarian candidate for Sec. of State has now endorsed Democratic candidate John Barrow in the upcoming December 4th runoff against Republican Brad Raffensperger to replace GA's vote suppressing Sec. of State, now Governor-elect Brian Kemp;
  • In Wisconsin, Democrats won every single statewide race on November 6th, including Governor (unseating Scott Walker) and U.S. Senate. They also outvoted Republicans in State Assembly races by 8 percentage points, 54 to 46 percent. Nonetheless, thanks to the GOP's extreme partisan gerrymandering in the Badger State, Republicans will hold 63 seats to the Democrats' 36 in the new Assembly;

The great (and newly wed!) MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist at Slate, joins us to discuss how voters pushed back against gerrymandering this year by approving ballot initiatives --- and other measures --- in several states on November 6th, in an attempt to restore fair(er) elections in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court opting to not strike down partisan gerrymanders as unconstitutional in states such as Wisconsin and North Carolina earlier this year. Among the many other issues we fly through with Stern today, on which he offers his as-always cogent legal insight...

  • Ivanka and Hillary's email issues (Stern hopes a Democratic House investigation will result in real reform to the "arguably improper" if not unlawful use of private email by officials like Trump and Clinton, though not in the opportunistic political fashion that GOPers previously dealt with the issue);
  • Trump's appointment of GOP operative Matthew Whitaker as Acting Attorney General (which Stern describes as blatantly "illegal" and, he believes, very likely to be struck down by the Courts). He also describes the DoJ's legal defense of the maneuver as "laughable";
  • A federal court on Monday night blocked the Trump Administration's new regulation denying asylum claims by immigrants who fail to present themselves at a port of entry (Stern explains the judge found the Administration's new rule to be in strict violation of federal laws, and predicts that even Chief Justice John Roberts, based on similar rulings he made against the Obama Administration, will be forced to agree when the case reaches SCOTUS);
  • The decision by a Trump-appointed federal judge to order the White House to restore press credentials to CNN's Jim Acosta (Stern is impressed with the Trump judge's anti-Trump ruling, I remain a bit more skeptical);
  • And how (and why) Trump's controversial new Justice Brett Kavanaugh has, so far, laid low by not yet fuly tossing in with the Court's nihilist right-wing caucus.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report as the catastrophic wildfires continue to burn in California, Trump shows up to make things worse, and a coming turn in the weather signals both good news and bad for firefighters and recovery workers amid the record disaster...

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Guest: Dylan Scott of Vox with good news for Dems in a bunch of states; Also: More trouble at polls in GA, TX, IL; Accountability for Zinke?...
By Brad Friedman on 11/1/2018 6:07pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Nobody said it was going to be easy. But the fight to vote in next Tuesday's crucial midterms continues, and beyond the House and Senate, there may be some very good news for Democrats in dozens of currently GOP-controlled states. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first up: More trouble at the polls today reported out of Texas, where voter intimidation is said to be higher than seen in decades; In Georgia, where voters are still trying to overcome suppression in absentee Vote-by-Mail voting in DeKalb County (suburbs east of Atlanta) and with failing, unverifiable voting machines at all polling places across the state; And in Illinois, where voters are also reportedly encountering failures on DuPage County's similarly unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in the Chicago suburbs.

Meanwhile, there's been a fair amount of coverage of high profile gubernatorial races with Democratic takeover chances in Florida and Georgia (where Oprah is now lending a hand), and in a number of the similarly tight U.S. Senate races that will determine partisan control of the upper chamber in Congress for the next two years. But there has been far less national coverage of several other gubernatorial contests around the country where Democrats are also in very close "Toss Up" contests to take control of dozens of executive mansions.

These races are crucial not only between now and the next Presidential Election, but could well determine control of the U.S. House over the next decade. That's right. The way voters vote on Tuesday, November 6, 2018, may well help determine who is in charge of the U.S. House beginning in 2022, once redistricting takes place around the country following the 2020 Census --- and then for another ten years thereafter!

While Dems hope to win a majority in the House next week, control of Governorships by Democrats in a number of key swing states could help add anywhere from 15 to 30 more winnable seats in the U.S. House over the next decade, according to experts.

Political reporter DYLAN SCOTT of Vox.com joins us to detail which states will be most important to that decennial reapportionment and why state Governors are so crucial to the process.

"Republicans won a lot of governor seats in 2010," he explains. "That gave them a lot of control over redistricting in 2011. And even though in 2012, 2014 and 2016, the Democrats actually won more votes for their House candidates across the country, the maps were drawn as such that Republicans were still able to hold a majority for all of the last decade. I think the stakes should be pretty clear to people after what we've seen with GOP control across the country over the last ten years," Scott argues. But are they? We discuss.

Also, Scott breaks down what appears to be a host of very good opportunities for Democrats in more than a dozen states beyond Florida and Georgia, currently controlled by GOP Governors, including Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa, Kansas, New Mexico, Maine, Alaska and even South Dakota! We cover a lot of ground on this today --- along with the politics and polling involved --- and much of it should be very encouraging for Democrats.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with news on some potential accountability for Donald Trump's corrupt Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke, more disturbing indications that the effects of global warming will be much worse, much sooner than previously thought, and more related news underscoring why Tuesday's election is so crucial to the existential fight against man-made climate change...

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

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern on that and WV GOP's state Supreme Court coup; Also: Massive voting system failures in AZ primary...
By Brad Friedman on 8/28/2018 6:22pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Details on the extraordinary court ruling out of North Carolina on Monday, and the judicial coup being staged in West Virginia. But first, voters went to the polls for Tuesday's primary elections in Arizona and Florida and in Oklahoma for primary runoff elections. It did not go well in Arizona. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Maricopa County (Phoenix)'s paper ballot optical-scan computer systems failed in at least 100 precincts, according to the County Recorder. Many polling places were closed entirely this morning, and it was nearly noon before the systems were said to finally be working in all precincts. It's still unclear what the precise failure was, but the new County Recorder Adrian Fontes (who won his election after the previous, long-time Recorder was booted out for shutting polling places during the 2016 Primaries), tied it to pre-election tests that failed on Monday, and then a lack of contractors from the voting machine company (Dominion Voting) on hand to properly set up the systems before polls were to open today. "The contractor responsible for the voting machines was supposed to provide more than 100 technicians to assist with issues, but only 70 were available," the Arizona Republic reports Fontes as telling them at a news conference this morning. If we learn more, of course, we'll share it on tomorrow's show along with noteworthy problems and results in all three states holding elections today.

Then, following up on a story that broke minutes before airtime on Monday, we're joined today by Slate's excellent legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN to detail the extraordinary ruling issued by a three judge federal court panel finding all of North Carolina's U.S. House districts --- for a second time --- to be partisan gerrymanders in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Remarkably, the judges are considering ordering new maps to be drawn up before this November's elections, after already having found last January that Republicans had unlawfully gerrymandered the state's U.S. House districts. That ruling, however, was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court which punted in June by ordering the lower court to review matters of standing. After having done so, the three-judge panel found the same Constitutional infirmities.

"The real villain here, in a sense --- aside from the Republicans, who obviously drew these incredibly gerrymandered maps --- is the Supreme Court and Justice Anthony Kennedy," says Stern. "A virtually identical ruling came down in January, at which point the US Supreme Court could have and should have acted on this question of partisan gerrymandering. Instead, the Supreme Court punted [and] sent this case back down for reconsideration. Now the [lower] court has reached the same conclusion it did in January."

The map in question was the one drawn up in 2016 after the state's previous GOP-drawn map, used in 2012 and 2014, was found to have been an unlawful racial gerrymander. So, Stern explains, the federal judges in North Carolina seem to have had enough and may now order new maps "on this incredibly compressed timetable where the election is looming" in just over 70 days, ballots need to go out to overseas voters 45 days in advance, and the state's primaries were already been held in May.

The unconstitutional maps have resulted in a wildly unbalanced 10 to 3 GOP majority in the state's Congressional delegations, despite North Carolina's status as a very divided swing state which narrowly elected Obama in 2008, Trump in 2016, and a Democrat to be its Governor in that same election. If the matter is appealed to SCOTUS by the state (as it almost certainly will be), the Supremes could deadlock 4 to 4, if Justice Kennedy's seat has yet to be filled, and the lower court ruling would stand. We could be in for a lot of chaos ahead (as if we need any more this year.)

Stern also explains the astonishing situation in West Virginia, where that state's Republican-majority House of Delegates recently impeached all four sitting members of the state's Supreme Court. (Its 5th member had already resigned after been charged with a felony crime.) The move, Stern reports, was timed in such a way to avoid allowing voters to replace the justices at the ballot box this year. That means the previously 3 to 2 Democratic-leaning court may soon become a 5 to 0 Republican court, and stay that way through 2020. Following impeachment trials of the justices in the state Senate, any vacancies will be filled by the appointments of Trump-loving Republican Gov. Jim Justice, a Democrat when he ran and won the Governor's race in 2016, but who flipped parties shortly thereafter.

"There are no good guys, per se, in this story," Stern notes. However, it serves as yet another example of Republicans blatantly hoping to pack the courts, and could prove to be another useful example that Democrats could cite in the future. If they ever re-take control of the U.S. House, Senate and White House, they'll be able to cite such moves when and if they decide to move to add seats to the U.S. Supreme Court in order to restore a majority that should have been theirs, until Senate Republicans stole a vacant seat in 2017 after holding it open for nearly a year following the early 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Speaking of that stolen U.S. Supreme Court, Stern also offers his thoughts on whether Senate Democrats will be able to block --- or even stall --- the seating of Donald Trump's second nominee to the Court. Judge Brett Kavanaugh's Senate Judiciary Confirmation hearings are currently scheduled to begin next week and, Stern argues, "he owes an explanation as to why he thinks it's perfectly valid and legitimate and acceptable to be nominated by a racist and openly corrupted President to the Supreme Court."

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report on, among other things, the record rainfall in Hawaii following Hurricane Lane over the weekend, and the complicated climate legacy of the late Republican U.S. Senator and former GOP Presidential nominee, John McCain.

(And, on a related note, next week will be our 900th episode of the GNR! If you have not contributed lately to our efforts to continue connecting the climate change dots over your public airwaves for the past 10 years --- along with all else that we do --- please consider doing so now by stopping by BradBlog.com/Donate! Thanks! We rely only on you to keep going! But, don't do it for me! Do it for Desi! Pretty please?)

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Guest: Stuart Naifeh of Demos; Also: 500k disenfranchised voters in AZ?; Trump says he's quitting NAFTA; DNC scraps 'SuperDelegates'; U.S. Govt student loan ombudsman quits in disgust; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 8/27/2018 6:30pm PT  

Lots of news (for a change?) on today's BradCast after a tremendously busy news weekend (for a change?) [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

Among the stories covered on today's program: In a fairly transparent attempt to distract from all of his Administration's --- and his own personal --- scandals, Donald Trump announed today that he plans to pull the U.S. out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, and is striking a new trade agreement with Mexico only. We caution to be very aware of that claim.

Then, we're joined by STUART NAIFEH, Senior Counsel at Demos to discuss the lawsuit recently filed by his group and a number of Hispanic-American organizations against 32 counties in the state of Florida. Following last year's catastrophic Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, more than 133,000 U.S. citizens living on the island relocated to the Continental U.S., according to the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, which estimates [PDF] more than 54,000 of them now live in Florida. These U.S. Citizens, many of whom speak Spanish only, can now re-register and vote in the state, but the counties named in the lawsuit make election materials available in English only, in violation, the groups argue, of Section4(e) of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The groups are suing to force those counties to produce election materials in Spanish before the November 2018 midterms and argue that the English-only procedures have led to lower than expected registration by these potential voters in the Sunshine State. Naifeh says this has been a longstanding issue in Florida, but even more of an issue since Maria, since there are suddenly "a lot of people coming all at once with limited English," he says.

Naifeh also explains another lawsuit just filed by the group against the state of Arizona, where the Secretary of State is not properly re-registering voters who have changed their addresses on their drivers licenses through the DMV. That, he argues, means that some 500,000 registered voters, whose registrations should be automatically moved, may find themselves unable to vote or will have their provisional ballots tossed out this November, because "Arizona has been systematically failing to update voting addresses," as required by 1993's National Voter Registration Act. Voters in both states --- Florida and Arizona --- are heading to the polls on Tuesday for their state's midterm primary elections.

Then, some breaking news out of North Carolina, where a federal court panel has found the state's U.S. House Districts to be an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. That, after the federal courts found the previous maps were unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. The court may order new maps to be redrawn in advance of the November election! If they do, and if the U.S. Supreme Court is deadlocked 4 to 4 on an emergency appeal by the state before a new Justice is seated, then the lower court's order to use new maps for the November 6th election would stand!

Next, over the weekend, the DNC voted to change their bylaws to restrict the role of so-called SuperDelegates (party insiders, activists and elected officials) in the nominating process for Presidential candidates. Under the new scheme, adopted by an overwhelming voice vote at the weekend's annual Summer meeting in Chicago, SuperDelegates would have no vote for the party's Presidential nominee on the first ballot at the Democratic National Convention, leaving the selection of the nominee (if he or she can get a majority on the first ballot) up to state primary and caucus voters, rather than party insiders, before the Convention.

Also today, the Government's student loan ombudsman at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has resigned, charging in a scathing resignation letter that the Trump Administration is using the Bureau "to serve the wishes of the most powerful financial companies in America" by allowing private for-profit colleges, universities and student loan companies to run roughshod over American families, despite mandates from Congress to end the decades-long ripoffs by such companies.

Finally, we open up the phone lines today to calls on all of the above!...

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

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Guest: Tax policy expert Alexandra Thornton; Also: Great news for voters in MI! And, what exactly is Sen. Jeff Flake doing in Africa?...
By Brad Friedman on 8/1/2018 6:20pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Tax cuts by executive fiat? It may depend on what the definition of "cost" is. Republicans used to pretend to oppose "Imperial Presidencies" --- at least when the President in question was Barack Obama --- but, hey, things change. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up today, however, we begin with some good news for a change! The Michigan Supreme Court late on Tuesday, approved a wildly popular, non-partisan, grassroots anti-gerrymandering measure for this November's statewide ballot, after GOP opposition to the initiative. Michigan's Proposal 2 is just one of several encouraging election reforms that Michiganders will be able to vote for (or against) during this year's midterms. And, MI is just one of several states (along with Missouri, Utah, and Colorado) that will see citizen-driven initiatives to end the scourge of partisan redistricting on this year's ballot!

More good news: A U.S. court of appeals in California on Wednesday upheld a lower court ruling finding Donald Trump's executive order barring federal funds to so-called "sanctuary cities" as unconstitutional.

Then, several new studies find record corporate profits --- both before and after the Trump/GOP tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy late last year --- are being spent mostly on stock buybacks, rather than increased worker wages, as Republicans had pretended would be the case when they rammed last year's massive tax cuts through Congress. Those cuts have already raised the federal deficit above $1 trillion, rather than paying for themselves as promised.

At the same time, Trump's Dept. of Treasury is now said to be considering a controversial scheme to bypass Congress entirely in order to offer at least another $100 billion in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. We're joined today by ALEXANDRA THORNTON, former tax policy adviser to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, now Senior Director of Tax Policy for Economic Policy at the Center for American Progress. She tells me: "We already have very low taxes on capital income, capital gains, and now they want to make it lower."

Thornton explains Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's planned scheme that would reinterpret the word "cost" in the federal Revenue Act of 1918 in order to index the already very low tax rate on income earned via investment in stocks and real estate to inflation, and how doing so by executive branch fiat would most likely be unlawful. (At least the George W. Bush Administration found that to be the case when they considered a similar plan.)

"Here is this administration that's been talking about 'regulatory overreach' and wanting to get rid of all these regulations, and now they want to go beyond their authority to pass a regulation that gives this gigantic tax cut almost exclusively to the wealthy. It's incredibly hypocritical."

Thornton also debunks the long-held GOP "fairy tale" that tax cuts pay for themselves by growing the economy, rather than blowing holes in the national debt and deficit, and further helps explain why last year's tax cuts, as passed without any Democratic votes, may not be working quite as well as a campaign issue for Republicans before the midterms as they had hoped.

"This is all part of the conservative mantra that if we tax investment that'll slow down economic growth. There's really no evidence for that at all. Basically, what they say is that we need to cut taxes on any kind of income, and eventually that will mean that we'll be able to invest in more things in the economy which will make workers more productive, and when they become more productive their wages can go up and there will be more jobs. And it's a fairy tale. It's basically never happened. It doesn't work like that."

Finally today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cancelled this year's August Senate recess in hopes of ramming through a bunch of Trump's federal judicial nominees and his pick for the U.S. Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh. His hope was to do so before Republicans potentially lose their slim majority in the U.S. Senate in the fall elections. But that plan may be facing an unexpected hurdle from Arizona's outgoing U.S. Senator Jeff Flake, who is currently in Africa observing the hand-counting of hand-marked paper ballots in Zimbabwe's historic election. He may not be returning to D.C. anytime soon, according to some Senate staffers, which could stymie the possibility of any nominees being voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee (which is deadlocked at 10 to 10 without Flake's presence), and perhaps even prevent floor votes in a 49-49 Senate with both Flake and ailing fellow Arizona Senator John McCain both missing. Is Flake, who claims to be a Trump opponent (even while voting for most of his agenda anyway) finally taking some form of real action in response?...

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

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