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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, April 23, 2019
To Impeach or Not to Impeach? That is the (Democrats') Question: 'BradCast' 4/23/19
But it may be Republicans who provide them with the courage to oust a scofflaw President...
'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...


Finds Russians implanted malware, but didn't check if results affected
Also: News avalanche; AOC 'looks back' from future; Callers ring in on impeachment...
By Brad Friedman on 4/22/2019 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast, new details from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report supporting the argument we've been trying to make for the last two years: Nobody ever checked the results of the 2016 election to make sure they were correct! [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But, first, we open with an avalanche of important news headlines breaking today and over the weekend, including the deadly Easter bombings in Sri Lanka; A TV comedian becoming the next President of Ukraine by a landslide; Trump's latest vow to impose sanctions on allies who purchase oil from Iran; Woefully unqualified Federal Reserve Board candidate and alleged sexual harasser Herman Cain withdrawing his name from Trump's consideration; The GOP's stolen Supreme Court announcing plans to take up cases to determine whether LGBTQ people may be covered by anti-discrimination civil rights employment laws this Fall; and Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton jumping into the crowded Democratic Presidential nomination contest.

Then we move to our all too brief commemoration of Earth Day's 49th Anniversary on Monday, wherein our own Desi Doyen details how and why the annual celebration first came about beginning in 1970. Of course, as we like to say on our Green News Report, every day is Earth Day for us! Nonetheless, sticking with that theme today --- for those who only notice it once a year --- we share "A Message from the Future from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez" in which the freshman NY Democratic Congresswoman, from a couple of decades in the future, looks "back" on the world-changing successes of her Green New Deal program, as recently introduced with veteran Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA). The charming animated video, with illustrations by Molly Crabtree, is a thought experiment of sorts worth watching and/or listening to, as it helps explain how the GND would work to curb many of the worst effects of climate change, while providing millions of jobs and healthcare for all, as climate scientists have repeatedly warned the world must do within the next decade or face unstoppable consequences that threaten the entirety of human civilization.

Then, we move on to the revelation from the redacted Mueller Report [PDF] which has caused my Twitter feed to go somewhat bonkers since I cited it over the weekend. As the Special Counsel's report reveals (Vol. 1, pages 51-52, in the section entitled "Intrusions Targeting the Administration of U.S. Elections"), Russian intelligence operatives at the GRU targeted and infiltrated "individuals and entities involved in the administration of the [2016] elections. U.S. state and local entities, such as state boards of elections, secretaries of state, and county governments, as well as individuals who worked for those entities. The GRU also targeted private technology firms responsible for manufacturing and administering election-related software and hardware, such as voter registration software and electronic polling stations."

In other words, voter registration databases AND voting systems, such as voting machines and tabulators. Mueller's report goes on to concede that though the GRU was successful in implanting malware on a number of the targeted computers, "the [Special Counsel's] Office did not investigate further [and] did not, for instance, obtain or examine servers or other relevant items belonging to these victims." Instead, as Mueller writes, "The Office understands that the FBI, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the states have separately investigated that activity".

Only problem with that? As we have reported repeatedly over the past two years, Jeanette Manfra, the top DHS official in charge of overseeing cyber-intrusions of critical infrastructure such as voting and tabulation systems, conceded during a June 2017 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) that her department had not, in fact, conducted any forensic analyses of computer voting and tabulation systems or servers following the 2016 Presidential election. We play a clip from her Senate testimony to that end.

As far as we can tell, this means that nobody has ever conducted such an analysis, despite the stunning results of the 2016 Presidential election. That remains very troubling, considering that Trump reportedly won, very narrowly, by less than 80,000 votes total in the key swing-states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, none of which had voted GOP in a Presidential election for decades until 2016. The margins --- as reported by computers, but never verified by humans --- were close enough in each of those states that, had an average of just two votes in each precinct in each of those states been recorded for Hillary Clinton instead of Donald Trump, she, not he, would be President now.

Moreover, as the Mueller Report also documents, Trump's then Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort offered briefings and internal polling data to his business associate Konstanin Klimnik, a Ukrainian national tied to Russian intelligence, "on the state of the Trump Campaign and Manafort's plan to win the election," including what Manafort's partner Rick Gates described to the Special Counsel as "discussion of 'battleground' states, which Manafort identified as Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota."

So, at this point, that means nobody still knows whether Donald Trump was actually the legitimate choice of the voters who comprise the Electoral College. (We already know he lost the popular vote by some 3 million votes.) Most of those very same computer systems will be used once again in the 2020 Presidential election, though some --- for example in Philadelphia, the entire state of Georgia, Los Angeles County and elsewhere --- are being replaced with newer systems that are even more difficult for the public to oversee to ensure reported results reflect actual voter intent.

And, with all of that today, we open up the phone lines to listeners for thoughts on whether --- given the findings of the Mueller Report, including Trump's well-documented and repeated attempts to unlawfully obstruct the investigation itself --- Democrats in Congress should begin impeachment hearings or not. So far, Democrats are somewhat split on the issue, with a number of freshmen in the House calling for impeachment proceedings to begin and, so far, only Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) among the current Presidential candidates offering a clarion call for members of Congress to meet their Constitutional duties by officially investigating Trump's alleged high crimes and misdemeanors via an impeachment inquiry in the U.S. House and a vote on whether to convict and remove Trump from office in the U.S. Senate. Our callers offer somewhat mixed feelings as well, as you'll hear on today's very busy and fast-moving BradCast!...

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

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Guest: Sarah Pierce of Migration Policy Inst.; Also: Trump vetoes Congressional ban on U.S. support for Saudi war in Yemen; Media (and Dems) unequipped to deal with Trump lawlessness; More...
By Brad Friedman on 4/17/2019 6:27pm PT  

On today's BradCast, as the nation awaits Trump Attorney General William Barr's release of some redacted version or another of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Thursday morning, Barr was busy announcing new immigration policies to add to the Administration's ongoing success in creating havoc and a humanitarian crisis on our southern border. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first today, a few other news items of note and another reminder of how neither the media nor the Democrats in Congress are prepared to adequately respond to the "creeping authoritarianism", as media analyst Eric Boehlert too-generously describes it, that has turned outrageous, impeachable actions by a sitting President into little more than another "wacky Trump story of the day" over the past two years of his chaotic and criminal Presidency.

On Tuesday night, the war-mongering Trump vetoed a bicameral, bipartisan War Powers Resolution adopted by Congress --- for the first time since the 1973 War Powers Act largely delegated Congress' Constitutional war-making power to the White House --- demanding an end to U.S. military aid for Saudi Arabia's war against Yemen, where thousands of civilians have been killed and millions are facing famine. That, despite the murder last year of Washington Post's Saudi journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi at the alleged command of Saudi crown prince and Trump ally Mohammad bin Salman.

Meanwhile, as federal prosecutors seek up to 10 months in prison for actress Felicity Huffman in the college admissions scandal after her recent guilty plea (please note my "Full Disclosure" during the program regarding my personal history with Huffman and her husband William H. Macy), the actions taken by Trump last week alone, as highlighted by Boehlert, are a veritable litany of impeachable offenses.

Nonetheless, while the actress may face jail time for a foolish and illegal offense on behalf of her daughter, our lawless President runs free --- and few, if any, in the media or Congress appear capable of taking on his Constitution-endangering lawlessness with the gravity warranted. Even several of the outspoken progressive freshman Democrats in the House, while supporting calls for impeachment in general, appear to be pulling punches in deference to fearful party leadership. As I argue today (yet again), there is more than enough --- even without whatever findings may come from Mueller --- to, as columnist Dan Savage has long argued, "ITMFA".

Next, we're joined by immigration attorney SARAH PIERCE, Policy Analyst at the Migration Policy Institute to discuss Barr's newly-announced immigration policy changes revealed Tuesday evening. The new measures would bar asylum seekers who have already demonstrated a "credible fear" of return to their home countries to immigration officials from being allowed to seek bond for release until their asylum case can be heard. The process would, she explains, keep such individual in detention for months and even years, despite an already-existing lack of space in ICE detention facilities which has led to their current so-called "catch and release" policies.

The new measures, Pierce explains, would not apply to families seeking asylum or children traveling alone (even as thousands of asylum seeking children remain separated from their parents in the wake of Trump's previous AG Jeff Sessions' so-called "zero tolerance" policies.)

Pierce details what Barr's new policy measures will and won't do; why Barr has the authority to enact them; how they differ from Executive Actions undertaken by the Obama Administration (which Republicans used to object to as "unconstitutional unilateral actions"); why the new policy is likely to be challenged in federal court; how almost all of Trump's border policies are exacerbating the very problems he claims to want to solve; and why he continues to take such extreme and often unlawful and/or unconstitutional measures.

"This Administration just doesn't seem that interested in resolving this systemic problem. Instead, they just want to deter asylum seekers from arriving at the southern border. They want to limit how many ultimately apply for asylum, and then limit how many ultimately receive it," she tells me. "There is a political incentive for this President to look like he's active on immigration, to show that he's engaged in the fight, and fighting for the policies that his base is interested in --- and maybe less of a political interest in actually having results on the ground." Pierce surmises that Trump wishes to "keep hammering in these harsh policies, whether or not they're actually going to stand up in court or be effective."

Finally today, some listener comment in response to my rant yesterday regarding the $700 million raised overnight (now up to nearly $1 billion), from a handful of billionaire families and corporations, to restore the fire-ravaged, 850-year old Notre Dame Cathedral in the heart of Paris...

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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(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)




Also: WA adopts 'public option' health insurance; Fox 'News' town hall goes wild for Bernie's plan; Warren vows to end drilling; The unspeakable cruelty of Trump immigration policies and one hero standing up to them...
By Brad Friedman on 4/16/2019 6:56pm PT  

On today's BradCast you'll be outraged, saddened, amused, inspired and may even learn a thing or two --- or your money back! [Audio link for show is posted below.]

First up today: I'm thankful the French didn't listen to Donald Trump's terrible firefighting advice as the iconic, 850-year old Notre Dame was engulfed in flames in the heart of Paris on Monday, and very happy to see that firefighters were able to save most of the cathedral's historic stone structure and many of its artifacts, and gratified to hear that French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild it (somehow) in five years, and delighted to hear that, as of this afternoon, some $700 million had been raised for the project. But there's something about that last part that really sticks in my craw.

Specifically, the fact that, as CNN reported early on Tuesday: "France's three wealthiest families are coming to the rescue of a national icon, spearheading a fundraising drive to rebuild Notre Dame that has topped $700 million." The families and a number of huge corporations that joined them to top that number, are each multi-billionaires. For example, the Pinault family, which "generously" donated $113 million to the effort, is said to be worth some $37.3 billion. To put that it terms easier to understand, it's the equivalent of someone who is worth just $37,000 giving $113 to the charitable effort. While it's appreciated --- and $113 is a fair amount of money for someone with just $37,000 in savings, it's not really much money at all for someone with the type of obscene net worth enjoyed by the Pinaults. Still, we're happy to see it, even if the glowing public relations they are enjoying is far more than appropriate here.

But, making matters a bit more maddening? The world's fourth-largest oil and gas giant, TOTAL SA, which is based in Paris, has also pledged $113 million to the rebuilding effort. Last year, the company raked in a profit of $13.6 billion. That was up 28% from the previous year. At the same time, when Macron attempted, to institute a new tax on diesel gasoline last year, citizen protesters took to the streets in the so-called Yellow Vest movement protests to successfully force Macron, among other things, to reverse a .26 cents per gallon tax hike which might have otherwise raised nearly $4.2 billion. (The revenue from the ill-considered gas tax, while clumsily advertised as a carbon tax, of sorts, to help curb climate change, was not earmarked for clean energy projects, but to help pay off French debt instead.) But where were the billionaires then? Why wasn't TOTAL asked to cover the $4.2 billion instead of rank and file citizenry, when the company could have paid the entire $4.2 billion itself and still walked away with a cool $10 billion or so in profit to spare last year? Particularly since it is the reckless use of their products which are endangering not just a cathedral in Paris, but the entirety of human civilization?

The rich folks who are contributing to rebuild Notre Dame are getting a lot of good press today for their quick "charitable" efforts. That good press is greatly overstated as compared to what they actually deserve, as I discuss (or, perhaps, rant) in detail on today's program.

In other related and under-reported news of note, former Republican Governor William Weld announces he is taking on Trump in the 2020 GOP Presidential primary, Democratic Presidential hopefully Sen. Elizabeth Warren has announced she will stop all new leases for oil and gas drilling on public lands on her first day in office if elected, Sen. Bernie Sanders announced similar, and the Washington State legislature, under the leadership of Democratic Presidential candidate Gov. Jay Inslee, has not only passed a measure to move the state to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045, they've also adopted a "public option" healthcare insurance plan that will be made available to all residents.

And, speaking of healthcare and Sanders, a clip from the Vermont Senator's town hall on Fox "News" Monday night has gone viral, in which the Fox crowd is seen and heard going wild in support of his proposed single-payer, Medicare-for-All universal coverage proposal. Trump has a sad.

Next up, several maddening stories of the real world effects of Trump's unspeakably cruel immigration policies, including ICE's deportation last week of a man whose U.S. Military wife was killed in Afghanistan in 2010 and whose 12-year old, U.S. citizen daughter was left parentless in Phoenix (that story, at least, has a happy ending for now), and the 11-year old El Salvadoran girl in Houston who has been denied asylum and ordered deported without her family, despite gangs that have, reportedly, been systematically killing her family members after a relative witnessed a murder and testified in court.

Of particular note here is Houston's heroic Police Chief Art Acevedo who has loudly stood up for the child and taken on those elected officials and random Twitter wingnuts alike who support the Administration's monstrous policies that separate children from their parents. "Yep. The Nazi’s enforced their laws as well," Chief Acevedo observed. "You don’t separate children from their families! Ever! ... I am glad to be on the right side of history," he said after several impassioned pleas against the cruelty. "Not this chief, not this Nation, not this time!," he declared last year as the Trump Administration was caging children by the thousands.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with details on the swarm of tornadoes (41 of them!) which devastated areas from Texas to Delaware and killed nine over the weekend; more on a number of the 2020 candidates stepping up their climate change proposals; and on Trump's new Interior Secretary, "formerly" an oil and gas lobbyist, already facing probes by the Interior Department's Inspector General...

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: 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...

* * *
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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MONTHLY BRAD BLOG SUBSCRIPTION
ONE-TIME DONATION


Choose monthly amount...


(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)




Guest: Author Igor Volsky; Also: Lawless Trump; Regulatory capture complete; Freshmen Dems (and even John Kerry!) step up in Congress...
By Brad Friedman on 4/12/2019 6:26pm PT  

On today's BradCast: One reason after another why Democrats needs to step up and offer a bold and fearless vision for a more progressive, safer, healthier, more equal and prosperous America as we look beyond the dark, corrupt era of Donald Trump. [Audio link to show is posted below after summary.]

But we start today with what Trump tweeted out as "Great News!" on Thursday, a new poll he saw on Fox "News" labeled on screen as "TRUMP'S SOARING APPROVAL" finding him with an overall 55% approval rating! Only trouble, the poll from Georgetown University found him with a 55% DISapproval rating (and just 41% approval.) Don't hold your breath for Trump to delete the Tweet.

Why should he? He's gotten away with just about everything he and Fox could ever hope for, including the complete regulatory capture of the federal government which --- following Thursday's Senate confirmation of a longtime oil and gas industry lobbyist to lead the Interior Department --- now includes corporate executives and lobbyists heading virtually every Executive Agency meant to oversee and regulate the very industries they previously worked for. Do Fox viewers not mind that Trump has filled the D.C. "swamp" like it's never been filled before? Or do they not know? Or do they just not care? Given Trump's latest, impeachable behavior regarding the southern border, and the cheers he receives from supporters for it, it's a good guess that his Republican base couldn't care less. They vote as they are told (by Fox).

Next, on the same day that New Zealand's new ban on military-style assault weapons officially goes into effect --- after being approved by a 119 to 1 vote in Parliament this week, less than one month after a massacre by a white supremacist at two mosques in Christchurch killed 50 and wounded 50 others --- many in the U.S. are left wondering why any action to improve gun safety here remains seemingly impossible.

We're joined today by IGOR VOLKSY, founder of Guns Down America and author of the brand new book Guns Down: How to Defeat the NRA and Build a Safer Future with Fewer Guns. Volsky explains what lessons we might learn from New Zealand and why changing gun laws in the U.S., where more than 30,000 Americans are killed by guns each year, is so difficult.

He is calling for bold new platforms from 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates who, he says, have offered grand visions for the environment, health care and even taking on major corporations, but not when it comes to guns, where they beg for table scraps and barely incremental improvements --- if they even raise the issue. Volsky argues that, despite broad majority support for a host of common sense gun measures across all parties --- including for the banning of military-style assault weapons --- a new political framing is needed which isn't "designed to talk to some kind of mythical moderate voter".

"I am calling on the 2020 Presidential candidates to fundamentally reframe the conversation around guns, to establish a long term goal to establish a future with fewer guns, and to talk about the ways we need to raise the standard for gun ownership, for gun production," he tells me. "And by the way, when I say gun production, I mean actually regulating the firearm industry --- that it stops producing militarized weapons for the civilian market, both in terms of the assault weapons and the much more militarized handguns that use larger rounds." How to do that without flinching against the politically powerful NRA and its even more powerful rightwing propaganda outlets will not be easy, nor quick. He argues that it will require a bold, long term vision that is still absent from Democratic politics and messaging.

Finally today, two must-listen clips from Congressional hearings this week. The first features freshman Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA)'s absolutely shaming Jamie Dimon, CEO of the nation's largest bank, JPMorgan Chase, for the paltry salary he pays his own employees, even after the bank reported a more than $9 billion PROFIT in just the first quarter of 2019 alone. Many of his employees, she details, are actually losing money each month, even while working full time for Chase, while Dimon enjoyed a $31 million salary last year.

As Paul Waldman observed at WaPo after watching the instructive colloquy between Porter and Dimon, "JPMorgan Chase could give every one of its 250,000 employees a $25,000 raise, and it would cost the bank only about two-thirds of the profit it made just in the first quarter of this year." He too is hoping that Porter's point becomes a central theme for Democrats running for office. Other Democrats in Congress --- including those running for President in 2020 --- have a lot to learn from the new crop of first-term progressives in the House.

And lastly, an absolutely remarkable exchange in the House Oversight Committee between climate-science denying clown, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), and former Sec. of State John Kerry at a hearing on "The Need for Leadership to Combat Climate Change and Protect National Security." Suffice to say, if you're bested by John Kerry in a debate, you must be REALLY bad at this. And the laughable Massie certainly was...

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Also: Several other indictments today and, yes, still more unprecedented Trump Administration corruption...
By Brad Friedman on 4/11/2019 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: You get an indictment! You get an indictment! You get an indictment! Everyone gets an indictment!!! Well, not everyone. At least not everyone who deserves an indictment. But a bunch of folks got indicted today in a bunch of separate federal cases. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

One time Democratic hero and former Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti was charged in a 36-count federal indictment in California for allegedly stealing from clients, not paying his taxes, and committing bank fraud. Former Obama White House Counsel Greg Craig was charged by prosecutors in D.C. for lying to federal agents regarding his lobbying work in Ukraine, a case that came out of the Robert Mueller Special Counsel probe (where Trump Campaign chair Paul Manafort was previously found guilty of very related charges).

And, of course, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was finally arrested in the U.K. after being kicked out of the Ecuadorean embassy in London (where he's claimed asylum for the past seven years) before being found guilty by a British judge of skipping out on bail while facing extradition for charges of sexual assault in Sweden back in 2012. The Swedish charges have since been dropped, but Assange now faces both prison time in Britain and an extradition request from the U.S. where prosecutors unsealed a one-count indictment [PDF] against him today, as filed under seal in March of 2018.

For now, that charge is an allegation of "conspiracy to commit computer intrusion". Federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia claim he attempted to help crack a password for a classified Defense Department computer system to assist then U.S. Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning in hacking documents. That, after Wikileaks had already released hundreds of such documents --- many containing evidence of serious U.S. crimes --- taken by Manning, back in 2010. Freedom of the press advocates, however, warn today that the charges being brought by Trump's Dept. of Justice against Assange could be expanded to include normal journalistic activities, which could threaten the Constitutional rights of many media outlets and journalists alike.

We detail today what we know --- and don't --- about the indictment; what we know --- and don't --- about what Assange and WikiLeaks have done (including the release of documents stolen from the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016); and what all of this may --- or may not --- mean for U.S. press freedoms as the case moves forward.

Also today: Some good news regarding the death penalty in New Hampshire; Some quick updates on Trump Treasury Dept. Secretary Steven Mnuchin's refusal (so far) to turn over Trump's tax returns to Congress in violation of the law; Trump Attorney General William Barr's obnoxious, hypocritical, and (so far) evidence-free claim that the Obama Administration was "spying" on the Trump Campaign in 2016; And more disturbing details on the perfidy and corruption of David Bernhardt, the longtime oil and gas industry lobbyist who was shamefully confirmed today by the U.S. Senate as Trump's new Interior Department Secretary.

Finally, Desi Doyen brings us the latest Green News Report on Trump's newly signed Executive Orders authorizing himself to, among other things, authorize new oil and gas pipelines without approval from other federal agencies, and to remove states' rights to block energy infrastructure that threatens local water supplies; the second bomb cyclone in weeks to likely bring billions in damages to a number of Midwestern states; and several troubling new studies regarding the acceleration of climate change and glacial ice melt now outpacing previous scientific predictions...

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Guest: Media analyst Eric Boehlert; Also: Bad news for WI progressives after last week's Supreme Court election...
By Brad Friedman on 4/10/2019 6:54pm PT  

On today's BradCast, finding light on a very dark news day, and making sense of Devin Nunes' bizarre new legal attack against a well-respected media outlet. [Audio link for today's show is posted below.]

You know the news is dark on a day when the brightest spot seems to be the first-ever photographic evidence of a black hole in a galaxy that is 53 million light-years from Earth, as constructed by an international consortium of scientists from 20 different countries employing an array of observatories around the world to construct a virtual "telescope" the size of the planet itself. The assembled image of the supermassive black hole is the first such glimpse of such an object in space (theorized by Einstein over a century ago, but directly proven today for the first time) containing the same mass as 6.5 billion suns and so dense that nothing, not even light, can escape its gravitational pull.

Sounds a lot like the Trump Administration. But we (mostly) avoid that today, even as we discuss one of its biggest supporters in Congress, California Rep. Devin Nunes, and his increasingly mysterious (and troubling) new legal gambit.

But, before we get there today, an update on last week's razor thin race for a key seat on Wisconsin's Supreme Court. With computer-reported results from last week's election showing progressive-aligned Judge Lisa Neubaeur fell less than half of a percentage point shy of defeating far-right Judge Brian Hagedorn for a seat on the state's high court being vacated by a retiring progressive-leaned Justice, Neubauer decided on Wednesday against seeking a recount which she would have had to pay for under state law. Her concession today --- despite unofficial and unconfirmed computer tallies showing a loss by just about 6,000 votes out of some 1.2 million cast statewide --- means that progressives will be unable to regain a majority on the court until 2023 at the earliest. The new 5 to 2 rightwing majority all but scotches hopes for rolling back former Republican Governor Scott Walker's anti-union measures and GOP voter suppression laws, and could handicap the state's Democrats during the inevitable redistricting fights following the 2020 census. (Have we mentioned lately that elections matter?!)

Also today, more on the incoming and "potentially historic" "bomb cyclone" developing over plains states and the upper Midwest, where blizzard warnings have now been issued in 6 states, snowfall as high as two feet is predicted in some areas, and the threat of more major flooding is plaguing several states still fighting to recover from billions of dollars in damage from the last "bomb cyclone" which erupted just weeks ago. This latest evidence of the increasingly dangerous threat of catastrophic climate change comes on the same day as Donald Trump signed two new Executive Orders intended to make it more difficult for environmental regulations at the state level to prevent the construction of new oil and gas pipelines (which serve to exacerbate man-made global warming.)

Then, we're joined by veteran media analyst and author ERIC BOEHLERT to discuss the latest bizarre lawsuit, which seems to challenge the First Amendment itself, as filed by Nunes this week.

Several weeks ago, the California Congressman and top Trump ally in Congress filed a $250 million lawsuit against Twitter, the owners of two anonymous parody accounts (@DevonCow and @DevonNunesMom), as well as Republican strategist and Nunes/Trump opponent Liz Mair for defamation. This week, the GOP Congressman filed suit against Mair again, along with the 162-year old McClatchy Company, a news consortium which publishes the Fresno Bee, the hometown paper in the Nunes' central California district. His latest complaint seeks $150 million in damages, charging defamation based on an article published by the Bee last year detailing the settlement of a lawsuit after a charity yacht cruise which reportedly included cocaine and underage prostitutes, according to court documents cited by the paper. The cruise was auctioned off by the philanthropic arm of the Alpha Omega Winery, in which Nunes is an investor.

But where his Twitter suit seemed absurd, this new suit --- like the first one, originally reported by Fox "News", of course --- suggests a darker and more nefarious effort to undermine Constitutionally-protected freedom of the press. Who is funding these efforts by Nunes and why? Might it have anything to do with Trump's repeated assertions that libel laws need to change to make it easier for public figures like himself to challenge reporting that celebrities like himself don't care for?

Boehlert offers insight on what may be going on here: "The Republican Party has decided that Google, Twitter and Facebook are the new targets. And they're using the exact same playbook that they used on the traditional media for four decades, which is you work the refs, you scream and yell over these fake phony allegations of 'liberal media bias'. And it works! Facebook has bent over backwards to make sure Republicans are happy. Twitter could have easily banned Donald Trump two years ago and saved this country an enormous amount of pain, because he obviously violates the rules all the time. So it works."

But there may be even more behind all of this, as we discuss, along with his concerns about ongoing corporate media failures in the wake of Trump AG William Barr's handling of the still-secret Mueller Report and other related matters as we head into the 2020 Presidential election cycle.

Finally, we close with some listener mail regarding our ongoing discussions of how Dems should move forward as they attempt to remove both Donald Trump from office next year and the nation itself from the black hole we continue to sink into under his increasingly dark reign...

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Also: Kansas conman Kobach's comeback?; GOP's 'Green Real Deal'...
By Brad Friedman on 4/9/2019 6:25pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's not enough that Trump has fired just about everyone in his failed Administration (or they quit), and has failed to fill the vacancies left behind, and that he has personally violated an unprecedented number of laws both before and after taking office, or that he's purging most of his top officials who work on immigration. No, it's even more distributing than that. [Audio file for today's show is posted below.]

Last week, the President of the United States said, with cameras rolling, that we "have to get rid of judges" just days before, reportedly, instructing Customs and Border Patrol agents to ignore the rule of law and simply block immigrants from exercising their right to claim asylum at the southern border once on U.S. territory. That, of course, would be a violation of both U.S. law and international treaties.

According to CNN's Jake Tapper, Trump instructed agents at the border in Calexico, California on Friday to tell immigrants the U.S. is "full" and "at capacity" and "if judges give you trouble, say, 'Sorry, judge, I can't do it. We don't have the room.'" If true, that would be an unlawful instruction from the President of the United States ordering a law enforcement officer to violate law and then to do so again once a federal judge has ordered otherwise. Real Presidents (at least Democratic ones) would be --- or should be --- impeached for such things. But we have the Republican Donald Trump as our President.

In other related Trump immigration meltdown news today...

  • More on why Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was pushed out by White House hardliners (after she reportedly refused to violate the law as Trump was demanding and also pushed back against Trump's order to close ports of entry at the border entirely);
  • Poor, disgraced, former KS Sec. of State, failed gubernatorial candidate and GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach --- recently floated to take over some immigration duties for the Trump Administration --- may be blocked from a Senate-confirmed post because, as Kansas' GOP U.S. Senator Pat Roberts told reporters today, Kobach is so toxic that apparently even the GOP-majority Senate "can't confirm him". Luckily, Republicans who used to pretend to hate Presidential "czars" have a very short memory, so there may be another way into the Administration for Kobach, the currently jobless Kansas conman;
  • As to judges, another one in federal court on Monday night temporarily blocked yet another key Trump immigration policy, at least for now. The federal courts are unlikely to like Trump's new one any better, I suspect.

Also today --- actually, right at the top of the show --- some listener mail in follow-up to my conversation on yesterday's program with the ACLU's Phil Aroneanu regarding the group's newly-launched Rights For All campaign which seeks to get 2020 candidates on record regarding several "thorny" issues regarding civil liberties and Constitutional rights. A number of listeners had some thoughts on my questions for Aroneanu regarding the potential political dangers of backing Democratic candidates into politically difficult policy positions as they attempt to unseat arguably the worst President --- from a civil liberties and Constitutional rights perspective --- our nation has ever had. We share and discuss a few of those listener emails today.

And, finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as the Midwest buckles up for another potential "bomb cyclone" and still more catastrophic flooding to follow it; Global warming has pushed the Arctic into an "unprecedented" new state; and the GOP, after ridiculing the Democrats' Green New Deal have introduced their own response to it called the 'Green Real Deal'. You may be surprised who the lead Congressional sponsor is, though less surprised as to what the plan actually calls for...

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Guest: ACLU's Phil Aroneanu; Also: Nielsen out at DHS, as Trump's far-right agency purge rolls out amid immigration crisis; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 4/8/2019 6:19pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Two tracks, plus callers, as the Right ascends at the White House and the ACLU's fight to restore civil and Constitutional rights finds its way into the 2020 President campaign. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

The hardliners are rising at the White House today, as Trump continues to purge top officials from several different key agencies, including the sprawling Dept. of Homeland Security (Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to resign on Sunday); Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ron Vitiello, Trump's nominee to head the agency was suddenly withdrawn last week after already clearing a key Senate hurdle); U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (both its Director and General Counsel were purged today); the Secret Service (its Director Randolph "Tex" Alles is now said to be leaving); and the bloodbath is continuing at other agencies as well. All of that as the number of families seeking asylum at the southern border continues to increase despite --- or, perhaps, because of --- a number of failed Trump Administration policies.

Moreover, on Monday, the foreign policy hardliners at the White House are ascendant at well, as the Administration is announcing its designation of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization. It's the first time the U.S. has designated a foreign government entity in such a way, and the move is reportedly opposed by top Pentagon and CIA officials who fear blow-back to American troops and intelligence operatives abroad. Indeed, Iran has already responded by calling for U.S. Central Command, which oversees operations in the Middle East, to be designated as a terrorist organization in response.

Amidst this latest disturbing lurch to the hard-right by the Trump Administration, some of us continue to look forward to 2020 when voters can, hopefully, do something about it. To that end, for the first time in its storied history, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is jumping into electoral politics in a major way this year, recently announcing they are spending $30 million to help get 2020 candidates on the record when it comes to a number of important issues for civil libertarians, including some that are quite thorny politically.

For example, the group's new national RightsForAll.us campaign seeks to force candidate to answer as to whether or not they support decreasing the bloated U.S. prison population by 50 percent (and, if so, how); allowing the incarcerated to vote (currently, only Maine and Vermont do so); and whether they would supporting overturning the Hyde Amendment (which bars the use of federal funds for abortion, other than in cases of rape, incest or protection of the life of the mother).

We're joined today by the ACLU's Digital Organizing Strategy Director PHIL ARONEANU to discuss the initiative, including whether some of the "thorniest" questions for candidates (as available at the campaign's website) on Voting Rights, Criminal Justice Reform, Immigrants' Rights and Reproductive Freedom might, in fact, become a liability for those candidates if they answer them one way or another. That, in an age when one of the greatest threats to civil liberties and Constitutional rights clearly continues to be the man in the White House, who Democratic candidates will have to defeat to see any possibility of the restoration of such rights.

So, how does the ACLU, a non-partisan organization, respond to some of those questions and concerns? Tune in for my conversation with Aroneanu today to find out.

Then, we open up the phone lines today for listener thoughts on all of the above. You'll not be shocked to learn, they have many...

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The truth behind the President's latest lies on North Korea, Mueller, the border, the military, healthcare and wind power; NC GOP Chair indicted...
By Brad Friedman on 4/4/2019 6:09pm PT  

Among the many truthful stories covered on today's jam-packed BradCast filled with Trump lies and much more...[Audio link to show is posted below]...

  • How Trump is undermining military readiness and hurricane recovery for Marines and their families with lies about a "national emergency" at the southern border and how the Marine Corps' top General is pushing back;
  • How Trump lied about a new health care plan to replace Obamacare and how Congressional Republicans have forced him to back down;
  • How Trump lied about closing the border with Mexico this week and how economic reality forced him to back down;
  • Then, two North Carolina special elections for the U.S. House are coming up --- the first, in NC-03, to replace the late Republican Rep. Walter Jones (who voted against Trump more than for him), the second, in NC-09, a do-over election from the November 2018 contest which was never certified, thanks to a GOP absentee ballot fraud scheme paid for by the GOP candidate. But before we can get to either of those races, the federal indictment of North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes, a longtime state power-broker and former GOP Congressman, was unsealed this week. The criminal charges against Hayes include counts of fraud, bribery, campaign finance violations and lying to the FBI. And another Republican Congressman from the state and member of House GOP leadership, Rep. Mark Walker (NC-06), is also finding himself entangles in the criminal scandal and named in the indictment as "Public Official A";
  • All of that today is before Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with yet another deadly chemical fire in Houston, yet another court loss for ExxonMobil, yet another way that Trump is making both climate change and immigration even worse, and yet another mendacious Trump lie about wind energy that even a top Republican is calling him out over...Oh, and Burger King's "Impossible" dream...

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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....

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Also: NYTimes finally discovers they were scammed on 'Mueller Report'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/28/2019 6:42pm PT  

It may not be our most hilarious show of all time, but I think it's a very important one and includes more than a few righteous rants. [Audio link to full show is at end of article.]...

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

  • The New York Times finally figures out, almost a week later, that they may have been duped by Trump Attorney General William Barr's 4-page summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's long-awaited report, as the incurious "paper of record" confirms the full report from Mueller runs at least 300 pages. Nonetheless, Trump and his cult-member Republicans in Congress are running with the Times' original false and/or misleading assertions published the day after Barr's deceptive summary was released on Sunday. For example, the Times' top-of-page, ALL-CAPS screaming headline "MUELLER FINDS NO TRUMP-RUSSIA CONSPIRACY" and "A Cloud Over Trump's Presidency is Lifted".

    Of course, we still have no idea how many pages are in Mueller's confidential report delivered to Trump appointee Barr last Friday, or what it actually says about the two-year probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, the Trump Campaign's potential cooperation with them, or Trump's apparent attempts to obstruct the probe. But the summary compiled in less than 48 hours by Barr and then inaccurately reported by many to have somehow "exonerated" Trump, after being written by a man appointed to the job specifically because of his expressed opposition to the Special Counsel, should have been viewed much more skeptically by the Times and many others in the corporate media --- as we've been pointing out since Monday.
  • Among the fall-out from the Times' (and others') terrible and irresponsible coverage on all of this, GOP members of the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday demanded Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) step down as Chair and Trump is demanding his resignation from Congress. Schiff, however, is (appropriately) having none of it;
  • Speaking of not-particularly-funny behavior from Congressional Republicans, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) held a sham stunt vote earlier this week on the Green New Deal resolution [PDF] proposed by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) in the Senate and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) in the House. Their landmark resolution calls for a wartime-like effort to move the U.S. economy from fossil fuels to zero-carbon energy over a decade, while creating millions of jobs in the clean energy sector and supporting those in legacy industries like coal mining to ensure new jobs and protection of their pensions from bankrupt, predator coal companies. During "debate" for McConnell's mock GND vote --- on an issue which would greatly help many coal mining constituents in Kentucky and Utah alike --- Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) offered an embarrassingly unfunny speech that mocked the resolution, dismissed climate change as a concern, argued the Green New Deal is somehow "part of the problem" and that the real solution to deadly and ever-more costly global warming was "churches" and "babies";
  • Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) was not amused, as his own small coastal state directly faces a very serious threat posed from global-warming fueled rising sea levels which threaten to turn Rhode Island "into an archipelago" in coming years. "As a small state, we don't have a lot to give back to the ocean," Whitehouse rails on the Senate floor. "This is deadly serious for us."
  • But, if you think Whitehouse sounded angry, wait until you hear Ocasio-Cortez' response to the belittling of climate change concerns from Republicans in the House during an epic rant in the U.S. House Financial Services Committee, after Rep Sean Duffy (R-WI) mocked the GND as "an elitist fantasy";
  • Underscoring how NOT funny all of this is, a recent, heart-breaking special report from AP detailed how Trump, McConnell and the coal industry have conspired to allow a small tax on coal to expire, which, since the 1970s, has helped to cover the extraordinary healthcare expenses of miners suffering from deadly Black Lung Disease, as well as support for their widows. A new Black Lung epidemic has been striking younger and younger coal miners in recent years, and Republicans, including Trump, allowed the tax that funds the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund to expire during the Government shutdown at the beginning of the year.

    That, despite promises from McConnell (who represents the coal state of Kentucky) and from Trump (who has used miners endlessly as props during political rallies, while claiming to "love" them) to ensure the crucial Trust Fund doesn't go broke. Instead, both men have broken their promise and appear to be siding instead with the coal industry owners who have donated millions to them, and do not wish to see the life-saving and now-lapsed tax renewed. All of this, of course, on the same week that Trump reversed positions to support killing the Affordable Care Act entirely, while claiming "Republicans will soon be known as the party of health care";
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, which touches on a number of those maddening topics and more...

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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"...

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Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Also: Trump border 'emergency' survives override vote; DoJ moves to kill ACA; Senate holds 'sham' vote on GND...
By Brad Friedman on 3/26/2019 6:18pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The coverage by the corporate media --- and response by many Democrats --- to Attorney General William Barr's terse, misleading 4-page summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report after two years has, by and large, been atrocious in innumerable ways. [Audio link to show follows below.]

We're joined today by HEATHER DIGBY PARTON, who has been covering the corrupt Trump Presidency for years now, including its various Russia-related storylines and other criminal probes at Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo. Among our several related topics of discussion today: Shameful failures by the media and others to demand independently verifiable evidence of speculative allegations both before the confidential Mueller Report was finally delivered to Barr and the subsequent failure by many of the same organizations and individuals in their credulous reporting of Barr's bare-bones, "very, very clever political document" summarizing the sprawling, two-year probe.

Rather than learning from mistakes, many in the media seem to be repeating them all over again in the wake of Barr's memo, which some justifiably regard as a "whitewash" or "cover-up" by a man who was selected by Trump, in no small part, for his previously stated opposition to the probe and to the very notion that any President can legally be charged with Obstruction of Justice. There's much more related conversation here today --- including on the substance of Barr's letter, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein's curious complicity, and the GOP's premature victory laps --- but you'll have to tune in to listen.

Also on today's program: Though Democrats led a decisive 248 to 181 vote today (with 14 Republicans) in hopes of overriding Trump's veto of the resolution blocking his phony "national emergency" declaration, the effort fell 38 votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed. In the Senate, where 12 Republicans previously voted with Democrats, 59 to 41, to block the President previously, no override vote will now be held since a two-thirds majority vote is required in both chambers. AP described Trump's overwhelming loss in both chambers as a "victory" for the President today, and it will now be left to challenges in court to block Trump's order diverting billions appropriated by Congress to the military to instead build his border wall. Mexico is still not paying for it.

Then, in a major reversal of their previous legal position, Trump's Dept. of Justice filed documents in an appeals court Monday to support striking down the entire Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") as unconstitutional. While Jeff Sessions served as Attorney General, DoJ had "only" supported gutting provisions that limited premium prices insurers could charge for the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions. Under Barr, however, the Administration now seeks to kill the entire landmark healthcare law. If successful, as many as 30 million Americans would lose their access to affordable healthcare coverage;

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest very busy Green News Report, as fossil fuel-related climate related disasters continue in the U.S. and around the world, while the Trump Administration plows billions of tax-payer dollars into troubled nuclear plants and the Senate GOP carries out a "sham" vote on the Green New Deal, in hopes of mocking the initiative...

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Also: 'Potentially historic' U.S. flooding; New Zealand bans 'weapons of war'; Trump sparks new arms race with Russia...
By Brad Friedman on 3/21/2019 6:44pm PT  

All of the news you need to know today, and nothing you don't. Among the many important stories covered on today's BradCast [Audio link to complete show is posted below]...

  • New Zealand bans military-style assault weapons less than one week after a white supremacist terrorist massacred 50 worshiping Muslims at two mosques in Christchurch. That was easy. Must be nice to not be enthralled to decades of NRA propaganda and the tens of millions of dollars they are allowed to use to bribe politicians in the U.S., where even a Congressional vote on background checks has been verboten by Republicans;
  • Record flooding continues to swamp the upper Midwest, as the National Weather Service warns the catastrophic floods will be moving south and inundating states as water makes it way toward the Mississippi Delta where some areas have already been fighting with rising waters since last month;
  • All of that before we even get to the spring rainy season, about which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) warned on Thursday could bring widespread "unprecedented flooding" to most of the nation amid climate change-accelerated storms;
  • But there is much better news out of a court in Wisconsin where a state judge today blocked the GOP-controlled state legislature's unprecedented lame duck power-grab passed during an "extraordinary session" called last December to take power from the incoming Democratic Governor and Attorney General following the defeat of Republican Gov. Scott Walker by state voters in November. The judge ruled the session itself, called by just eight Republicans in the state House and Senate, unconstituionally declared and therefore, the three sweeping power-grab bills and last-minute confirmation of 82 Walker appointees before Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul could take over, are all now struck down. The victory for state voters and democracy lovers also means the Badger State may now withdraw from a multi-state lawsuit joined by the previous GOP administration challenging the Constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare"). GOPers in the state legislature have promised to appeal the ruling;
  • The Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps issued blistering memos this week warning that Donald Trump's deployment of troops to the U.S.-Mexico border and his "emergency" declaration has undermined troop readiness, national security and placed the well-being of the Corps at an "unacceptable risk". Gen. Robert Neller charges, according to the documents obtained and published today by the L.A. Times, that "unplanned/unbudgeted" deployment to the border last year and the shift of funding to border security efforts has resulted in cancellation of military exercises across the globe and has compromised "combat readiness and solvency". The unusually strong comments, according to military experts, critically cite the delay of urgent repairs needed at bases damaged by hurricanes last year in North Carolina and Georgia, with the new hurricane season just months away for "Marines, Sailors, and civilians working in compromised structures". All of that as Trump touted his support for the military on Wednesday night at a plant in Lima, Ohio which manufacturers tanks that the Pentagon has said they neither need nor want;
  • All of this also follows on Trump's announcement last month that he is pulling the U.S. out of the 30-year old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty struck between Reagan and Gorbachev in 1987, leading to the destruction of thousands of nuclear-tipped missiles on both sides after the landmark Cold War era pact was signed. Russia has said they will now follow Trump's lead in abandoning the treaty and, according to Pentagon officials, the U.S. is now preparing flight tests this summer for two types of non-INF compliant missiles that would have been long-banned under the treaty. Let the arms race begin again!;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on the staggering cost to date of the deadly flooding in the upper Midwest, the toxic chemical inferno this week in Houston, Trump's new EPA chief blowing off concerns of global warming, 2020 Dems demanding action on same, and a very encouraging ruling on oil and gas drilling in Wyoming from a federal judge who has ordered that the government reconsider its environmental assessment of drilling on public lands to account for the cumulative threat of fossil fueled climate change due to man-made greenhouse gas emissions...

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