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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, February 20, 2019
'Green News Report' 2/19/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
It's GNR's 10TH ANNIVERSARY! PLUS: Bill to avoid a government shutdown protects wildlife refuges, but Trump's 'national emergency' puts them all back on the chopping block...
Previous GNRs: 2/14/19 - 2/12/19 - Archives...
Sunday 'National Emergency' Toons
PDiddie's latest weekly collection of actual political toons in response to Trump's latest pretend crisis...
Trump is a Nat'l Emergency: 'BradCast' 2/15/19
Guest-host Angie Coiro w/ Joel Simon of Comm. to Protect Journalists; Also: The fate of big-tech host cities; Weld to primary Trump?; RBG returns to SCOTUS...
Power to the People! (& Why Coal Miners Should've Voted Hillary): 'BradCast' 2/14/19
Trump Commission shuts KY, TN coal plants; Barr confirmed; Funding bill approved, fake 'Emergency' soon; Freshmen light up House; GOP Green New Deal freak-out...
'Green News Report' 2/14/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Repubs move quickly to demonize Green New Deal; Insects declining at alarming rate; Public lands bill passes in Senate; PLUS: Los Angeles ditches natural gas for electricity...
Previous GNRs: 2/12/19 - 2/7/19 - Archives...
Butterfly Refuge Sues to Block Wall, Break-ins by CBP Officials: 'BradCast' 2/13/19
Guest: Marianna Trevino-Wright of the Nat'l Butterfly Center; Also: Hannity allows Trump to take wall deal; FEMA Director abruptly quits...
Targeted? 1000s of Black Votes 'Missing' from GA's 2018 Lt. Guv Election Results: 'BradCast' 2/12/19
Guest: Marilyn Marks; Also: Trump's sad El Paso rally, new (even worse) 'wall' deal...
'Green News Report' 2/12/19
GNR Special Coverage: Democratic Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Markey introduce the Green New Deal. What's in it, what's not, and what happens next...
Groundhog Day All Over Again?:
'BradCast' 2/11/19
Trump Border Lies, Shutdown Talks, Virginia's Political Mess. Plus: Listener calls! Including one calling for segregation?! (Yup.)
Sunday 'Year of the Pig' Toons
PDiddie celebrates the Lunar Looney New Year in his latest collection of the week's best political toons...
'Green New Deal' Rising: 'BradCast' 2/8/19
Guest: Climate/energy reporter David Roberts of Vox on the policy and the politics; Also: Witless Whitaker's remarkable House Judiciary testimony...
'Green News Report' 2/7/19
Trump SOTU was low on facts, high on oil; Dems bring climate science back to the U.S. House; PLUS: It's official: we've just lived through the five hottest years on record...
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: Marianna Trevino-Wright of the National Butterfly Center; Also: Hannity allows Trump to take wall deal; FEMA Director abruptly quits...
By Brad Friedman on 2/13/2019 6:57pm PT  

As my guest details on today's BradCast, it's not immigrants who are currently posing a threat to those living on our southern border, it's lawless federal agents encroaching on private lands to build an unnecessary and dangerous border wall. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But, first up: the Department of Justice rounded up dozens of gang members and indicted them on Tuesday as part of a criminal conspiracy for "attempted murder, kidnapping, maiming, and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine." No, they weren't "violent inner-city thugs" or "murderous MS-13 immigrant gangsters", they were white supremacist members of the Arkansas-based New Aryan Empire. Oddly enough, Donald Trump hasn't mentioned them during any of his false, anti-immigrant rants at campaign rallies and State of the Union addresses.

Meanwhile, it appears that Trump will most likely sign the compromise deal struck between Congressional Democrats and Republicans this week to fund the federal government and avoid another shutdown, even though he will get less than he could have had if he'd accepted the deal he backed out of last year before shutting down the federal government over his new demand for $5.7 billion to build a border wall. Sean Hannity of Fox "News" and wingnut talk radio fame has now backed off his earlier charge that "any Republican that supports this garbage compromise" would have to explain themselves. He now appears to be supporting the compromise, while calling for the President to declare a "national emergency" to steal more tax-payer money for a wall. With that permission from his Fox "News" handlers, Trump will almost certainly sign the agreement.

In all, as Trump points out, the deal allocates $23 billion for border security --- a lot of money for Democrats to agree to if, as Trump lies, they favor "open borders". It's also a lot of money period. But, record national debt and annual deficit spending do not appear to be a problem for pretend "fiscally conservative" Republicans in Congress. The Treasury Department announced yesterday that the national debt has now topped $22 trillion for the first time in history, after increasing more than $2 trillion since Trump took office under GOP leadership in Congress. The landmark comes thanks, in no small part, to the Trump/GOP's unpaid-for $1.5 trillion tax cuts.

And while both Democrats and Republicans in Congress are hoping that Trump signs their compromise border security agreement to keep the government open, Trump's U.S. Customs and Border (CPB) agents are busy breaking into private property and threatening to seize private lands owned by Americans who have lived and worked on the banks of the Rio Grande at the U.S. southern border for generations.

Bulldozers and other heavy machinery is now reportedly rolling into wildlife sanctuaries in South Texas' Rio Grande Valley and the National Butterfly Center in Mission, TX has filed a restraining order this week to stop them after, the Center charges, CPB broke into a fence on its private property, cut the lock, and replaced it with its own.

We're joined today by the Center's Director MARIANNA TREVINO-WRIGHT to explain the federal government's intrusions on their 100-acre butterfly refuge, wildlife center and native species botanical garden. The Center, part of the North American Butterfly Association (NABA), regards CPB's behavior as unlawful and unconstitutional according to a lawsuit "filed in December of 2017 as the result of the government's actions on our property in July of 2017, more than nine months before a Congressional vote, or any funding appropriation for 'border wall'," Trevino-Wright emphasizes.

We discuss, among other things, the 28 laws and environmental regulations --- "including the Solid Waste Disposal Act, the Clean air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act, and the Native American Religious Freedom Act" --- that the Department of Homeland Security has waived since Congress approved 33 miles of new border fencing in the area last year to allow construction of the barrier, and the federal government's use of Eminent Domain already underway to confiscate private lands for Trump's wall. Trevino-Wright details the devastation that awaits butterfly species, as well as other insects and native wildlife with the construction of the wall on the property of both the Center and the neighboring 91,000 acre Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

She says insects and animals will be "sentenced to death" thanks to flooding that will occur between the mighty Rio Grande River and the concrete base of the planned 30 foot wall where they will become trapped. Moreover, the accompanying LED "blitzkrieg all-night bright lighting every 150 feet on the wall, will result in catastrophe for sensitive nocturnal creatures and "lead to greater environmental damage". And, no, Trevino-Wright tells me, many butterflies and birds are not able to fly over a 36-foot concrete and steel barrier. She describes the wall as an "abomination", Trump's claims of an humanitarian and violent criminal "crisis" at the border to be nonsense, and why residents in the area are far more worried about criminals within law enforcement agencies than they are about those crossing the border unlawfully or ferrying drugs into the country. "Conflict or property damage or terrorist acts by those who support this agenda are actually what we're more concerned about," Trevino-Wright adds.

Please tune in for this full conversation.

Finally today, a surprise resignation in the Trump Administration as FEMA Director Brock Long calls it quits after facing two years of harassment from DHS chief Kirstjen Nielsen and unprecedented hurricanes, wildfires and other catastrophes, writing in his farewell letter to staffers that "no one could have ever predicted the challenges we would face." Our own Desi Doyen --- who has long been citing scientists predicting those very challenges for years, thanks to global warming --- offers a word or two in response...

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

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Guest: Election integrity expert Marilyn Marks; Also: Trump's sad El Paso rally and new 'wall' deal that's worse for him than last year's...
By Brad Friedman on 2/12/2019 7:00pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we revisit the mysterious case of tens of thousands of 'missing' votes from Georgia's 2018 midterm election, now that the case has become even more mysterious and disturbing, with investigators finding that African-American neighborhoods may have been specifically 'targeted' in some fashion. [Audio link to show posted at end of article.]

But, first today: Donald Trump and Beto O'Rourke held dueling rallies near each other and near the border in El Paso, TX on Monday night, after the President had been offering a series of lies about the effectiveness of an existing border wall in the city. During the Monday rally, Trump also lied about his rally's crowd size and that of O'Rourke's, which appears to have been larger than Trump's.

More tellingly, however, the President also failed to let his supporters know about a deal struck before the rallies by Republican and Democratic negotiators in Congress to avoid another government shutdown this Friday at midnight. The agreement, reportedly, includes less money and less fencing than Trump could have had if he'd agreed to the deal he backed out before Christmas last year, losing leverage with his subsequent record-long 35-day government shutdown and the Democratic takeover of the U.S. House. That's "The Art of the Deal"? We detail the tentative agreement and whether Trump will be harangued again by rightwingers into not signing it and shutting down the federal government yet again at week's end.

Then, we're joined once again by longtime election integrity bulldog MARILYN MARKS of the Coalition for Good Governance with a disturbing update to the group's election contest filed in state court last year to challenge the inexplicable reported results from Georgia's 2018 Lt. Governor's election. Marks had joined us previously to detail some 127,000 ballots cast last November found to have "missing" votes in only that race and only on ballots cast via the state's 17-year old, easily-manipulated, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems. Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico is reported by those systems to have lost the race to Republican Geoff Duncan by 123,172 votes out of almost 4 million counted, according to the final certified results.

The 4% undervote in the contest seems impossibly huge, given that other statewide contests even further down the ballot (e.g. for Sec. of State or Agriculture Commissioner) saw a far smaller rate of ballots with no vote recorded --- an average of about 1% or less in those other races. Moreover, votes cast in the same race for Lt. Governor on verifiable hand-marked paper ballots revealed an expected, similarly small undervote rate. So, this appears to clearly be machine related somehow.

But, while the group's initial analysis revealed a disproportionate number of undervotes in Democratic-leaning areas, a newer analysis [PDF] by a number of top-flight election data analysts --- as detailed exclusively over the weekend by Michael Harriot at The Root and today (sadly, behind a paywall) by Kim Zetter at PoliticoPro --- finds that African-American neighborhoods and precincts, specifically, had an even higher disproportionate rate of missing votes in the Lt. Governor's race. Experts are having trouble coming up with non-nefarious reasons for the numbers and, as Marks tells me, state and local officials appear curiously uninterested in what is clearly a massive disenfranchisement of their own voters.

"We have had all sorts of statisticians all over the nation, from academics to those who work for political data houses, and everybody's coming up with exactly the same answer --- that African-American neighborhoods were the ones highly impacted by this," Marks tells me. "There's something wrong across the state. The state has too many missing votes, no matter what county we look at. However, it is exacerbated greatly in the heavily African-American precincts, no matter where you look."

"I've never worked on a case one-tenth as important as what I believe this is," she says. "While you and I and others, for years, have known about the dangers of electronic voting machines, and we've warned about them, I swear I never thought I would see machines used in a way that had racial disparity as a result."

We discuss the possible reasons --- nefarious and otherwise --- for such an alarmingly disproportionate undervote rates and the Coalition's several ongoing lawsuits in Georgia challenging the Lt. Governor results on the state level and the state's entire unverifiable touchscreen voting system on the federal level. Marks also discusses whether either case will soon allow for an independent forensic investigation of the computer-voting and tabulation systems used in the state in 2018, as the Coalition is demanding via discovery.

It's also worth noting here that Georgia's new Governor, Republican Brian Kemp --- who was reported to have narrowly defeated popular African-American Democrat Stacey Abrams last year --- oversaw all of the 2018 elections (including his own) as Secretary of State while repeatedly being excoriated by federal courts for voter suppression tactics. At the same time, counties in key states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Iowa and even in California, are now preparing to moving to similarly 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in advance of the 2020 Presidential election. The latest news from Georgia's shameful 17-years of disastrous elections is troubling on its own, but this incident serves as yet another object lesson and warning for the entire country, as even many Democrats are now supporting the move to such completely unverifiable voting systems. (See Los Angeles, for example.)

"If there is anything good that can come out of this whole mess that we're in, surely it is that people are going to be able to see we have to stop it with this electronic voting. Here we are, months after the election, we don't know if any of those numbers can be trusted. We can't run elections this way!," Marks argues. "So, hopefully this will have some benefit to the nation in saying, 'Look, you gotta quit using touchscreen machines. End of story.'"

Finally, we're joined today by Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report, for special coverage of the landmark Green New Deal resolution introduced in Congress last week by Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (MA)...

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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Guests: Heather Digby Parton and Eric Boehlert...
By Brad Friedman on 2/6/2019 5:51pm PT  

On today's BradCast we attempt to make sense of last night's State of the Union Address. Wish us luck. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

The New York Times described Trump's SOTU on Tuesday as "veer[ing] between two moods --- combative and conciliatory." Democratic minority leader Chuck Schumer described it as "sort of like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and the excitement and the enthusiasm was all in the Mr. Hyde parts."

A majority of Americans who watched it, however, approved of the Trump's remarks, at least according to early polling weighted towards self-identified Republicans and right-leaning independents.

Our two excellent guests today, award-winning opinion journalist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo, and author and political media critic ERIC BOEHLERT formerly of ShareBlue and Media Matters, now a contributor for Daily Kos, join us to make sense of both parts (all parts?) of Trump's at-times disjointed, at-times collegial, and at-times aggressive remarks as they veered conversely between out-and-out lies to something more closely resembling facts but shamefully lacking in context.

Did Trump meet the bar set for him by his own White House aides who'd promised new calls for "unity" and "bi-partisan cooperation" in his speech? Is Trump capable or even interested in that?

"These State of the Unions are typically the least awful thing Trump does in any given week," Boehlert observes, "because it's a prepared speech, it's poorly written, he delivers it poorly. But there are moments where he does appeal to independents. And then he goes back to the crazies."

Says Parton: "If the idea was to unify the Republicans, then yes, it obviously worked. By their measure, I think they probably did what they wanted to do. ... [But] there is no President in American history who is less authentic-sounding than Donald Trump when he's calling for unity and bipartisanship. And they know it."

Beyond those optics, we also dig into, among many other things in today's lively, very fast-paced hour: Trump's ridiculous threats against "ridiculous partisan investigations"; The striking image of a sea of new and veteran female Democratic Representatives dressed in suffragette white; Nancy Pelosi's triumphant new-again role as House Speaker; Trump's obsessive (not to mention graphic and largely false or misleading) continuing advocacy for a southern border just days away from another potential federal government shutdown; The stunning number of important issues (from the climate crisis to gun violence to the recent record-long shutdown and much more) that Trump didn't bother to even mention, for some reason; The misleading use of Venezuela's ongoing political crisis as an attempt to smear "socialism" in the U.S. in advance of 2020; and Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams' very smart, spirited and inspiring response to Trump's dark, long, and largely fact and substance-free SOTU...

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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Calls for VA's Governor to step down may make political sense for Democrats, but is it wise and/or the right thing to do? Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 2/4/2019 6:24pm PT  

On today's BradCast, should Virginia's Democratic Governor Ralph Northam resign after his 1984 medical school yearbook was revealed late last week to have featured a photo of a man in blackface standing next to a man in a KKK costume? Don't answer that too quickly. Or, at least listen to today's show first. [Audio link to show follows below.]

After apologizing on Friday night for the appearance of the photo --- calling it "clearly racist and offensive", but failing to specify which of the pictured two men he actually was --- the Governor said at a bizarre Saturday press conference that he was neither man and that he had never even seen the photograph before, since he hadn't purchased that year's yearbook. He says the photograph hit him "like a ton of bricks" on Friday night. However, he told the media that he did remember an instance around the same time when he darkened his face to dress up as Michael Jackson for a dance contest. He said he remembered the contest outfit very specifically, discussing it publicly for the first time on Saturday, while insisting that he never recalls dressing up in either minstrel show blackface or as a Klansman, as depicted in the mystery photograph.

One of the two African-Americans in the same medical school class that graduated with Northam told AP the explanation is plausible, as he didn't purchase the yearbook either and found the racist photo on Northam's page to be out of character. Despite Northam's record of working closely with the African-American community and still being a member of a predominately black church in the town where he grew up, top Democrats from Virginia to D.C. and beyond continued their loud calls on Sunday for him to step down and allow his Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax --- an African-American Democrat --- to replace him.

But should he? And should he be shunned for something that may have never happened? Or, if it did, happened 35 years ago and appears completely inconsistent with his record since then? The answers to those questions are both "absolutely yes" and "no, not so fast", as we discuss with callers today, focusing on Northam's remarks at the strange, yet seemingly earnest Saturday presser in which he stated that acquiescing to calls to step down would allow him to "spare myself from the difficult path that lies ahead," adding: "I could avoid an honest conversation about harmful actions from my past. I cannot in good conscience choose the path that would be easier for me."

We endeavor to have a least part of that "honest conversation" with tons of callers on today's program, including some discussion about key civil rights figures (from Lincoln to Justice Hugo Black to LBJ) whose own histories of racism arguably allowed them to lead on a number of landmark civil rights issues from Emancipation to Brown v. Board of Education to the Civil Rights of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Also today: While I was happy to see MSNBC, on Friday night, highlight a Super Bowl ad buy in Georgia markets by former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams' voting rights group Fair Fight, calling for "hand-counted paper ballots," the news outlet's Rachel Maddow Show maddeningly cut the :30 commercial off when reporting the story, just before the crucial line calling for "hand-marked paper ballots"! (Made, in the spot, by Republican Commissioner of Habersham County, GA Natalie Crawford, by the way.) Maddening. Especially since, unless the voters rise up to protect overseeable elections and stop them, the state of Georgia, along with counties in key states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas --- not to mention Los Angeles County and neighboring Ventura County! --- are all now planning moves to expensive, unauditable touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) before the 2020 Presidential election. Those systems print out computer-marked and barcoded paper ballots which are 100% unverifiable after an election has ended.

Add MSNBC's failure there to a list of disappointments over the weekend from the mess in Virginia to the loss of the L.A. Rams at the Super Bowl...

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: Inst. for Policy Studies' Chuck Collins; Also: SD moves to restrict early voting; Panelists at Davos take on the wealthy over tax avoidance...
By Brad Friedman on 2/1/2019 6:40pm PT  

On today's BradCast, after some quick news on the House Democrats' much-needed omnibus election and ethics reform bill (HR1) to expand voting rights and on elected South Dakota Republicans now working to restrict voting in the state, it's on to our main story today. [Audio link to complete show is posted below.]

"Someone has to explain, if our economy is doing so great, how come everyone is broke?," Bill Maher asked during a recent segment of HBO's Real Time in the middle of Trump's 35-day federal government shutdown over December and January. "To me, the real lesson of this government shutdown," he argued, "is that we found out that federal workers, quintessential middle-class jobs, can't afford to miss one paycheck!" He's right. Remarkable stories made their way into the media during the shutdown, about struggling furloughed federal workers, some of whom had been working for the same agencies for decades, forgoing medical care, at risk of losing their homes or being forced to use free food pantries after missing one single pay day.

The U.S. has been slashing taxes, largely for the wealthy and corporations, for decades now as middle-class wages have remained stagnant and poverty continues to grow in the richest nation on earth. That, even as the rich get obscenely richer and Americans are told we simply can't afford our existing social safety nets and government programs, much less expansions of them to include Medicare for All, a Green New Deal or free college tuition --- even though they are all wildly popular ideas. As Ernie Canning recently summarized: "81% of the electorate support a Green New Deal. 70% of all Americans --- including 52% of Republicans and 84% of Democrats --- support Medicare for All. Some 75% of Americans support tuition free college. 82% of Americans want the federal government to negotiate lower prescription drug prices. 59% support the Ocasio-Cortez proposal to raise the top marginal tax rate to 70%."

So, did the month long federal government shutdown teach us anything about how close most Americans are to the brink? Did our elected officials (ahem, Republicans) actually notice or care? This past week, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) and GOP Senators Chuck Grassley (IA) and John Thune (SD) introduced the "Death Tax Repeal Act of 2019" to do away all together with estate taxes for the very wealthy, even though, as our guest today points out in a recent Common Dreams column, the current estate tax applies to fewer than two dozen people in those three Senators' states combined. Racial inequality means that economic inequality is even worse for those who aren't white, begging the question as to why it is described as "economic anxiety" when white people are feeling squeezed, but dismissed as poverty and laziness from everyone else.

We're joined to discuss all of this today by author CHUCK COLLINS, an expert on U.S. inequality and the racial wealth divide at the Institute for Policy Studies. He is also co-editor of Inequality.org and a contributing columnist at many outlets.

Collins discusses how the inequality gaps have become so wide in the U.S.; why so many continue to support candidates for elected office who work against the economic interests of the poor and working class; how attitudes about race exacerbate the problem; and how we may finally be "heading into a re-alignment" with a new crop of progressive elected officials and a potential awakening of the American people after being conned for last 40 years.

"I think a lot of people were surprised about the percentage of people who live in poverty, and who live paycheck to paycheck," he tells me about lessons learned during the shutdown. "I think it was eye-opening and even empathy-producing. I think people silently suffer the economic insecurities that they experience and this was another shared moment where a lot of people were saying, 'Yeah, I don't have any savings, I have no cushion, I have to go to the food bank and I'm a median income worker.' So I think it opened a lot of eyes, and potentially some hearts and minds, as well."

"Forty years of stagnant wages has certainly hit a lot of white households," Collins explains. "There is a lot of rising insecurity, certainly coming out of the economic meltdown a decade ago. A lot of white families experienced a sort of shock and vulnerability and, I would say, kind of keeps us from being able to see the parallel experience of everyone else, and the fact that the racial inequalities are even deeper, and even more insecure. 37% of African-American households --- zero or negative wealth. 33% of Latino households --- underwater. So, yes, a lot of white people are feeling the pain, but a lot of people of all colors and all races are feeling that insecurity and pain."

"Why wouldn't we want to have a minimal safety net?," he asks rhetorically, in response to my questions about whether so many popular policy ideas to help close the inequality gaps and lift the poor and middle-class may finally being getting a foothold. "Why wouldn't we want to have a system of higher education that allows young people to go to college and graduate without tens of thousands of dollars in debt? It worked for the post-World War II generation. It worked for millions of people who got debt-free college and launched their lives and careers. Have we forgotten that entirely? There's a certain amnesia at work, as well --- that public investments and public support have made it possible for lots of people to move forward in their lives and have good lives. And we shouldn't forget that when it comes to the next generation."

"I think we're heading into a kind of realignment," Collins adds optimistically, underscoring some of his recent articles on the trillions in revenue that could be raised through Elizabeth Warren's proposal to tax the ultra-wealthy and Bernie Sanders' plan to increase not decrease the estate taxes on inheritances over $1 billion. "I think most people understand that these inequalities and insecurities are a dead end. They also are getting tired of hearing billionaires telling us what to do and how the economy should be organized, realizing that this corrosive corruption and concentration of wealth at the top is bad."

There is lots to dig into in today's full conversation with Collins.

Finally, we close today's show with some must-listen conversation from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where two members of a panel on income inequality (historian Rutger Bregman and Oxfam International's Winnie Byanyima) take on the millionaires and billionaires in attendance for their unwillingness to face "the real issue of tax avoidance and the rich not paying their fair share." They also take on an outraged challenge from an audience member (former CFO of Yahoo, Ken Goldman) which only seems to underscore the need to raise taxes on the wealthy in order to lift up the needy and struggling workers around the globe...

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Guest: The Intercept's Akela Lacy on Admin approval for religious discrimination; Also: Kushner was rejected for top secret clearance, but granted it anyway; Stone arrested and charged in Florida...
By Brad Friedman on 1/25/2019 6:39pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Why Donald Trump finally buckled in his demand for border wall funding and how the unprecedented government shutdown helped distract all of us from the Administration's new policy that endangers children by officially allowing blatant religious discrimination --- at least against religions other than Protestant. [Audio link to show follows below.]

On Friday, Trump caved. He finally agreed to reopen the federal government --- at least temporarily --- after five weeks and the longest shutdown in U.S. history. He pretended he'd made a "deal" with Democrats. In fact, he simply agreed to continue funding the government at its previous levels until February 15. He received zero dollars for his border wall in the bargain, while suggesting during bizarre, inaccurate and, at times, graphic remarks at the White House that, without some sort of "deal" for a wall, he would either shut the government down again in three weeks or declare a "national emergency" to take the money to build it from elsewhere.

There were many reasons Trump finally buckled today, including increasing anger from lawmakers in his own party, plummeting poll numbers, news that the IRS was in "panic mode" without enough workers as tax season begins, and flight delays up and down the Eastern Seaboard thanks to a shortage of Air Traffic Controllers, according to the FAA. But there were at least two stories that the Administration, no doubt, was eager to get off the front pages today and over the weekend.

One, a stunning report from NBC News Thursday night that Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner had been rejected for top secret clearance in 2017, for a host of reasons, by two career security professionals at the White House, only to have that security recommendation overruled (along with similar rejections for "at least 30" others!) and granted to him by a Trump appointee. Also, Trump's longtime supporter and dirty trickster Roger Stone --- who helped lead the "lock her up!" charge against Hillary Clinton with the release of hacked emails by WikiLeaks --- was arrested in Florida on Friday morning by FBI officials and charged with seven counts of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction of justice by a grand jury convened as part of Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe. Following the GOP's fake "outrage" about national security concerns related to Clinton's private email server, which Stone helped amplify, there's no small amount of irony here with his arrest on the heels of news that the Trump Administration appears to have forgone top level security concerns altogether in order to allow Kushner and others access to the nation's most closely guarded intelligence materials.

Trump's "deal" to temporarily reopen the government may have served to change the news cycle for a few hours, but it didn't endear him to Republican extremists like Ann Coulter, whose critiques late last year led Trump to break his agreement with lawmakers and demand $5.7 billion for a southern border wall resulting in the five week shutdown. Today she deried him as "the biggest wimp ever to serve as President."

While all of these nightmares have been unfolding in recent weeks, few noticed that the Trump Administration's Health and Human Services Department quietly approved a very controversial waiver to allow a Protestant South Carolina group called Miracle Hill Ministries to discriminate against Muslims, Jews, Catholics and atheists in the placement of foster care children. We're joined by criminal justice reporter AKELA LACY of The Intercept today to explain this very real and disturbing outrage which very few have noticed, and how the Administration's partnership with "Religious Right" Republicans under the guise of "religious freedom" is now officially sanctioning religious discrimination in the U.S.

"South Carolina is saying that the foster care statute in HHS rules and regulations does not specify religion as a characteristic on which they are not allowed to discriminate. They say that the foster care program statute says that agencies that receive federal funding can't deny parents based on race, color or national origin, but that because that statute does not specify religion, the request that Miracle Hill accept these families is outside of the law," Lacy tells me, noting that state law in South Carolina bars this sort of discrimination, as do federal non-discrimination laws that the Administration appears to be ignoring.

"The other really scary part of this," she notes, "is that, aside from these individual waivers, eighty Republican lawmakers signed a letter to the President in May asking for even further repeal of these federal protections against discrimination. So this is not just something that is being advocated for on a state-by-state basis. This is a quiet effort from the right to change these rules in the interests of mostly Christian organizations."

Describing a similar waiver request from Texas --- which also seeks to allow discrimination against LGBTQ families as well --- she says (real) advocates of religious freedoms and civil liberties fear the South Carolina precedent is likely now to spread to other states, other federal agencies, and other matters that reach well beyond foster care while much of the media continue to be distracted with the ongoing Trump chaos...

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

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Guests: BRAD BLOG's Ernest A. Canning and Desi Doyen, with a look back, a look forward, some thanks, and, yes, the news of the day...
By Brad Friedman on 1/24/2019 6:25pm PT  

On today's BradCast, it's the 15th Anniversary of The BRAD BLOG! So --- in addition to the news of the day --- we take a precious few minutes on today's program to reminisce a bit with longtime BradBlog.com legal contributor ERNEST A. CANNING and Green News Report co-host and BradCast producer DESI DOYEN! [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

After a few words on Canning's latest article at the blog on the "Political Revolution" embodied by the new freshman class of progressive U.S. House members and the many challenges they are now facing down in D.C., we discuss some of the lessons learned and important stories covered at our little, independent, reader- and listener-supported website over the past decade and a half.

Many of the stories we broke years ago --- too numerous to link here, on everything from electronic voting concerns and voting rights to climate change and much more --- have since become part of the national consensus as well as many popular calls for reform. That, even as much (but not all) of our independently verifiable, evidence-based news coverage was marginalized or dismissed by many in the corporate media years earlier. We discuss just a few of those stories today --- too numerous to detail here --- as we look both back and forward on this latest milestone. We also offer thanks to the many who have made all of it possible over the years, from our blogging contributors, to radio affiliate partners, to various whistleblowers (publicly known and unknown) over the years.

Of course, none of it could be done without those of you support our work via BradBlog.com/Donate. So, if you haven't hit that page in a while, please consider doing so, as we operate solely on the support of folks like you. Seriously. Please consider a one-time donation or, even better, an automated monthly donation of any amount you can afford. I hate haranguing folks for this, but it really is necessary in order for us to continue our work, which we now share on a daily basis with dozens of radio affiliates around the country and world for free! Your support alone allows that and so much more that we do at The BRAD BLOG, The BradCast and the Green News Report to continue. And if I can't ask on our 15th birthday, when can I? So click here please! And thank you!

And, yes, there was also a bit of news today for a change in Washington D.C., so we also cover that on today's program. Among those stories...

  • Donald Trump's federal government shutdown nears the end of it's fifth record week, as he folded like one of his own cheap and poorly tailored suits on Wednesday night in his standoff with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on delivering his State of the Union next week.
  • At the same time, federal aviation unions issued a dire warning about the ongoing effects and potential critical dangers of the shutdown.
  • We share a heartbreaking story about a 10-year old girl who suffered a broken wrist in stoic silence for a week, because she was frightened to tell her father, a Dept. of Homeland Security employee forced to work without pay.
  • Billionaire crypt-keeper and Commerce Dept. Secretary Wilbur Ross took to the airwaves to, essentially, call 800,000 federal workers whiners for needing to use food banks to feed their families, when they could just go out and get a bank loan instead to cover costs until the federal government reopens.
  • In the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell finally allowed votes on measures to reopen the government, one from Rs and one from Ds. Both failed to get the 60 votes needed to overcome filibuster, though the D version --- which did not include funding for Trump's border wall --- received more votes than the R version in the GOP-majority Senate.
  • And Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen learned that he may have to appear before both House and Senate Committees next month, despite threats to his family by the President of the United States.
  • Finally. Desi brings us the latest Green News Report, with more bad news about the shutdown and Greenland's melting ice shelf, but some encouraging news on a huge majority of Americans who now appreciate the threat of climate change and on the amazing teen climate activist taking on the corporate powers and millionaire/billionaires at Davos this week...

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

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After overcoming corporate media at the polls in 2018, a progressive class of U.S. House freshmen began facing down their next obstacle in 2019...
By Ernest A. Canning on 1/23/2019 8:45am PT  

When, in 2015, former President Jimmy Carter told talk show host Thom Hartmann that the United States had become "an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery", he did so in relation to the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court's infamous 2010 decision in Citizens United --- a decision that removed virtually all restraints on corporate campaign donations. This, the 39th President asserted, has produced "a complete subversion of our political system".

"Complete" but not irreversible.

While sometimes difficult to notice amidst our Trumpian nightmare, the U.S. is, nonetheless, in the midst of what 2016 Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders described as a "political revolution" that strives to diminish the grip of corporate wealth at the polls via grassroots-funded progressive candidates who refuse to accept corporate money. Progressive activists and candidates have been succeeding by utilizing every inexpensive means of communication available to ordinary citizens that does not entail the inordinate expense of political advertising via the corporate-owned mainstream media. It is a task that has been most effectively taken on by a younger generation of adept, tech savvy activists and candidates.

While overcoming the power of corporately-powered political propaganda during the 2018 midterm election, a newly elected class of young progressives recently entered the U.S. House of Representatives only to be confronted with a second obstacle: the insidious reach of corporate lobbyists…

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Guest: NatSec journalist Marcy Wheeler: Also: SCOTUS allows Trump's cruel trans ban to proceed, makes no moves (yet) on DACA...
By Brad Friedman on 1/22/2019 6:29pm PT  

We pick up on today's BradCast, somewhat near where we left off on Friday, following BuzzFeed News' blockbuster report charging that Donald Trump directed his former attorney Michael Cohen to lie to federal investigators in order to obscure their work on a project to build a Trump Tower in Moscow even as Americans were voting during the 2016 Presidential election. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

The explosive reported allegations that the President of the United States had suborned perjury led to calls on Friday for Trump's impeachment, only to be dampened by a very rare --- and very carefully worded --- response from Robert Mueller's office, disputing "Buzzfeed's description of specific statements to the Special Counsel's office" and the "characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office."

My guest today, legal and national security journalist MARCY WHEELER of Emptywheel, says those words were carefully selected by Mueller's office and for a very specific reason. Given all the confusion following both the report and Mueller's unusual statement late last week --- not to mention conflicting remarks from Trump's TV lawyer Rudy Giuliani over the weekend --- Wheeler helps us try to make sense of what is now known and unknown on all of this, why Mueller's office chose to speak out in response to it, and whether or not he was encouraged to do so directly by Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, the White House or someone else on Trump's legal team.

"Buzzfeed offered some particular details that match exactly with details that Mueller has offered," Wheeler explains, while noting that the news outlet "made a news claim that Trump had ordered this lie. What Mueller is pushing back against is a legal claim." She tells me how the two interests are different, even as they may be describing much of the same events and documentation.

Moreover, she argues, "there's abundant evidence that Trump has ordered people to lie, and that subsequent to his orders to tell lies, his people have continued to tell those lies...and that's illegal. That should be a no-brainer and the press needs to start telling that story."

Wheeler, who has long been covering all things related to the Trump/Russia probe as close --- or closer --- than virtually anybody in the nation, offers much insight today on all of the above, including details on Buzzfeed's sourcing for their report (which they continue to stand by "100%"), based on information from two unnamed "federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter," as well as "multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents."

Also today, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5 to 4 vote, allows Trump's ban on transgender members of the military to move forward, even as ongoing cases in several lower courts have blocked his cruel directive, and even as at least one legal obstacle remains.

In slightly more encouraging --- and certainly less cruel --- news from SCOTUS today, despite pleas from the Administration the Court made no announcement of plans to hear argument on any of the many ongoing lower court cases challenging Trump's reversal of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Obama's DACA order was meant to help prevent the deportation of more than a million undocumented immigrants brought here by their parents as children many years ago. Should the Court decide to hear one of the cases, it would now most likely not happen until the session that begins in October, with an opinion coming months later. Temporary protection under DACA for so-called "Dreamers" was used over the weekend as an attempted bargaining chip by Trump, as part of an offer to Democrats in exchange for the $5.7 billion he has demanded for a border wall, leading to the longest (and still ongoing) federal government shutdown in U.S. history.

And, finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with news on the tragic pipeline explosion in Mexico over the weekend, toxic coal ash groundwater contamination discovered in 22 states, and how the government shutdown is setting the table for a dangerous wildfire season, even as its temporarily protecting aquatic wildlife from seismic testing during offshore drilling exploration in the Atlantic...

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

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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...

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

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Surprisingly good news from the courts; SOTU cancelled?; ISIS not defeated...
By Brad Friedman on 1/16/2019 6:42pm PT  

We start off today's BradCast with two encouraging legal rulings from the courts with our guest today, Slate legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN. [Audio link to complete show follows below.]

First up, the damning opinion issued on Tuesday by a U.S. District Court judge in Manhattan finding Treasury Secretary Wilbur Ross repeatedly violated the law --- and lied about his reasons for doing so --- in adding a controversial question on citizenship to the 2020 U.S. Census. Stern joins the federal judge in calling out Ross' lies about adding the question supposedly at the request of the the Dept. of Justice to help enforce the Voting Rights Act (rather than as a blatant attempt to rig the Census in hopes of boosting GOP political power during the next round of redistricting).

"By my count, Judge Furman held that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross violated the law by adding the citizenship question in at least six different ways," Stern observes. "When you add them all together, it is a sort of symphony of lawlessness that cannot be ignored by the courts."

"Ross just lied. He lied to Congress. He lied in court filings about why he added this citizenship question. It is very clear, black letter law, that when a federal agency like the Commerce Department wants to take some kind of formal action, it has to give the real and truthful grounds for its decision, it has to justify it truthfully. Ross just didn't do that here." He goes on to explain, however, that, despite the encouraging ruling yesterday, the Republicans' stolen Supreme Court will ultimately enjoy the final say on the matter. He also shares his thoughts on whether Ross should be and/or will be criminally prosecuted for lying to Congress and the courts about the issue, as made clear by the federal court ruling.

Then, Stern offers some surprisingly good news from SCOTUS today regarding a unanimous(!) opinion from the Court supporting the right of some workers to bypass costly arbitration clauses and file class action lawsuits against employers when they are ripped off by them --- though only in certain circumstances. Still, given the unanimous opinion in this case, authored by Neil Gorsuch of all Justices, we'll take it!

Next, we review Tuesday's confirmation hearing in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee for Donald Trump's Attorney General nominee William Barr. Stern warns that his troubling record alone --- "Barr takes a wildly expansive view of executive power and authority" --- might have been enough to derail his nomination in any other time, but for the fact that so many Democrats and Republicans alike are now desperate to replace Trump's wildly unqualified (and, arguably, unlawfully appointed) Acting AG Matthew Whitaker.

Barr, who served briefly as AG in 1991 during the George H.W. Bush Administration (where he successfully pushed for Presidential pardons for a number of top officials involved in the Iran-Contra scandal), promised independence from the White House and that he would allow Special Counsel Robert Mueller to complete his probe into Team Trump's alleged involvement with Russia and obstruction meant to cover it up. However, Barr equivocated on a number of points related to the probe, such as whether he'd recuse himself from overseeing it if DoJ ethics officials advised him to do so, and whether he would release Mueller's report at all to the public.

Stern shares insight and response to a number of other troubling moments from Tuesday's hearings, such as when Barr responded to a question from Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) about whether a sitting President could be indicted and when he was asked directly by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) about whether the Justice Department, under his command, would "jail reporters for doing their jobs". Barr's response on the former was questionable, at best, and downright chilling on the latter, from the man tapped to be the nation's top law enforcement official. "There's just a right and wrong answer here," Stern quips, "and he gave the wrong one."

Finally today, the State of the Union Address to a joint session of Congress previously scheduled for later this month may now be cancelled amid the ongoing historic federal government shutdown, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rescinded her invitation to Trump today. And, in Syria today, four Americans --- two U.S. troops and two civilians --- were killed and three others wounded after a bombing claimed by ISIS in a crowded area. The attack in the northern city of Manbij comes on the heels of Trump's claim to have ordered the withdraw of all U.S. troops in country, based on his assertion that "we have defeated ISIS in Syria." The President's claim --- which helped lead to the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis before Christmas --- was, remarkably, repeated by Vice President Mike Pence today during an address at the State Department several hours after the news of the deadly attack on Americans and others in the war torn nation had become public...

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

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Guest: Ricky Garza of Texas Civil Rights Project on Trump's Rio Grande land grab; Also: Historic shutdown fallout across the nation, and an impossible (but real!) 60-year old warning about 'Trump' and his 'wall'...
By Brad Friedman on 1/11/2019 6:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Donald Trump's federal government shutdown is the now the longest in U.S. history and landowners in Texas are fighting to keep the federal government from stealing their land even before Trump shakes down the U.S. Treasury somehow for $5.7. Also, we might have avoided all of these messes had we only paid attention to a remarkably prescient warning from a 1958 episode of an obscure television show on CBS. [Audio link to show follows below.]

On Friday, some 800,000 furloughed federal workers missed their paychecks, after hundreds of them protested the shutdown, lockout, "shakedown" outside the White House as they are having trouble paying rents, mortgages and for food and medical needs. Nonetheless, Trump continues to threaten a "national emergency" declaration to force the funding of his long-promised southern border wall with money the Administration is considering taking from U.S. military disaster relief funding earmarked for hurricane and fire-ravaged states like Florida, Texas, California and dozens of others.

House Democrats (and a handful of Republicans) continue to vote to reopen the government --- or, at least, some of its various agencies which have nothing to do with immigration or a wall --- while Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to allow a vote on same in the upper chamber, even for identical bills to the those passed virtually unanimously there last year. Airports are being forced to enact closures for lack of TSA personnel, the nation's foods supply is going untested by the FDA for contamination, FBI agents are sending letters to the White House and Congress describing the furlough of thousands of special agents as a national security threat, and federally subsidized HUD housing for the elderly and poor is being forced to do without.

Meanwhile, down in Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley, even before Trump receives the $5.7 billion he is demanding for hundreds of miles of new border wall/fencing, property owners are receiving letters from the federal government to begin the process of eminent domain. Families who have lived on the banks of the Rio Grande for generations are being threatened with having their homes taken away to pave the way for the construction of Trump's wall. Even an historic, 150-year old Catholic mission chapel on the banks of the river --- and on the city seal of Mission, TX --- finds itself in a legal battle with the federal government to remain in place.

We're joined today by RICKY GARZA, Rio Grande Valley native and staff attorney for the non-profit Texas Civil Rights Project. As Trump came to the area for another photo-op on Thursday, Garza is working to help hundreds of local property owners in the valley understand their legal rights to fend off a government takeover of their land and homes.

Garza scoffs at the President's claims of "crisis" conditions in what he describes as a "diverse region of over a million people that lives and dies by the water that comes from the river," but which may soon be cut off from it entirely. "The only crisis that exists now is artificially created by this administration," he tells me. "The only time I heard any talk about a crisis along the border was when I turned on cable news."

"Polling consistently shows that an overwhelming majority of people that actually live and work on the border oppose the border wall, and oppose the militarization of our communities," he says.

"What we're seeing on the ground is that people are having their lives interrupted by this intrusion into the borderlands by the federal government and border militarization. We've seen a decrease in apprehensions along the border, yet an increase in Border Patrol hiring, staffing and construction of things like the border wall, erections of things like security towers along the areas close to the river, and aerostat blimps that were formerly used in Iraq now deployed in some neighborhoods to surveil the border, and implicitly, all of us," Garza laments. "It's just another sad example of the federal government failing to understand the realities of life on the border, and what it's really like for us, just trying to live our lives in peace."

Finally today, a few minutes from a gob-smacking episode of the 1958 CBS Television series called Trackdown in which --- and this is for real --- a colorful con-man named "Trump" (seriously!) comes to town and tries to tell its gullible, terrified residents that only he can save them...by selling them on a "wall" to protect them from total destruction!!!...

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

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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...

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

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Guest-host Angie Coiro with the latest shutdown news, HR-1, border update; Also: More with health care futurist Joe Flower...
By Angie Coiro on 1/4/2019 6:28pm PT  

On today's BradCast, I'm with you one more time, then Brad and Desi are back! I'm visiting from In Deep with Angie Coiro, sharing the airwaves and streams with the BradCast.

A troop of Dems led by Nancy Pelosi made a promising presentation on HR-1. Right now the sweeping proposal to reform elections, campaign funding and oversight is nothing but a proposal. Republicans will certainly work against many of its provisions, including its voting rights measures efforts to stem the flow of politicians to lobbying corps. Even so, some of the rhetoric today from the likes of Elijah Cummings and John Lewis was genuinely moving and full of real passion. I've brought you long chunks of it.

Likewise, Sen. Chuck Schumer spoke frankly and with few punches pulled addressing the shutdown, which is cruising into Day 15.

I spend a lot of well-deserved time today on this essay by Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. Now that Trump is throwing around not-so-veiled threats about declaring a national emergency and his willingness to keep the shutdown in effect for "years", it's good to know exactly what he can get away with. Hint: a lot.

To wrap up the week: Part Two of my conversation with health care futurist JOE FLOWER. You're welcome!

Download MP3 or listen online below...

* * *
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!




Guest-host Angie Coiro on the first day of Congress' new session; Also: Hannah Ehrlich on diversity in Kids' Lit; Joe Flower on health care...
By Angie Coiro on 1/3/2019 5:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast, I'm in for Brad and Des as their holiday continues. Today, tomorrow, then they're back! Thanks for giving me your ears in their absence.

No big surprises as the new Congress moves in - not in either house. New Speaker Nancy Pelosi said all the right things - about bipartisanship, diversity, women, the border, health care, standing strong. Nice, listenable, good applause lines, and she seemed genuinely welcoming and warm to the kids she brought up to the podium to celebrate. Sorry for the cliché, but of course only time will tell if she can get anywhere with the House divided.

With those kids in mind (what dreams do they have? Will we see any of them come back to the floor as leaders?) I check in with HANNAH EHRLICH of Lee and Low publishing house. Earlier this year she wrote this thoughtful piece on the PBS Great American Read poll. We talk about whether the diversity we're increasingly seeing in Congress is reflected in the books our kids are exposed to.

Finally: Speaker Pelosi tipped her hat to health care, but we're a long, long way from the ideal: affordable care for everyone. Health care futurist JOE FLOWER has some solid advice on navigating the system we have now. Hold off on that colonoscopy or mammogram before you listen in.

My whole hour with Joe is on my own show's website. It's a worthwhile one-hour listen.

Download MP3 or listen online below...

* * *
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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