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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, July 21, 2018
Courts 'Pound' Admin Over Family Separation Before Deadline: 'BradCast' 7/20/18
Guest: TPM's Alice Ollstein; Also: ES&S dupes officials after lie about election system remote access; Deadly storms slams Midwest...
Top U.S. Election Vendor Lied About Remote Access System: 'BradCast' 7/19/18
With intel officials warning & WH spinning, new revelation of voting system vulnerability may help explain 2011 BRAD BLOG exclusive...
'Green News Report' 7/19/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
GAO: Less than half of U.S. schools test water for lead; Acting EPA chief guts toxic coal ash rules; Climate change coming for your Internet; PLUS: Marriott Int'l ditching plastic straws...
Previous GNRs: 7/17/18 - 7/12/18 - Archives...
Treasury Dept. Announces Dark Money Will Go Darker: 'BradCast' 7/18/2018
Guest: David Dayen: Also: CA Dems endorse Feinstein's opponent; Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez head to KS; FBI reveals Russian ownership of MD's election system...
Mueller's 2016 Russia Charges Foretell U.S. Indictments to Come: 'BradCast' 7/17/18
Guest: Former federal prosecutor Michael J. Stern; Also: Trump tries to walk back Helsinki remarks...
'Green News Report' 7/17/18
Toxic algae chokes water in FL, OH; Summer night temps rising; Record number of Americans now accept climate science; PLUS: Ireland set to divest from all fossil fuels...
Trump Backs Putin, Attacks U.S. Intel Comm, FBI, Dems in Helsinki: 'BradCast' 7/16/18
Remarkable responses from media, Dems, Repubs and callers in our 'WTF?!' coverage...
Sunday SuperCallousFragileRacist-SexistNaziPotus Toons
Everything he says and does is really quite atrocious...
New 2016 Russian Cyber-attack Indictments; New suit Against SC's Unverifiable Vote System: 'BradCast' 7/13/18
Guests: GOPer Frank Heindel, attny Larry Schwartzol; Hand-marked ballot bill in Senate...
'Green News Report' 7/12/18
Enviros oppose Trump SCOTUS pick; Admin coal bailout = more deaths; NC & NY harness poo power; PLUS: Shell CEO wants faster move to electric cars...
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...


New unverifiable voting systems fail in NV; LePage still dumb in ME; Walker's fears come true in WI; Canada 'fights' back; Initiative to break CA into three states will qualify for 2018 ballot...
By Brad Friedman on 6/13/2018 6:31pm PT  

It was another wildly busy BradCast today. I know. What else is new? But, with Trump declaring today on Twitter that "There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea" (Phew! That was easy!) and that "Our Country’s biggest enemy" is the media(!), we had plenty of time to cover a lot of other things, the day after Tuesday's five state primary. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among those stories...

Maine's Republican Governor Paul LePage, the dumbest in the nation, was accidentally right (sort of) in his poorly stated opposition during yesterday's primaries, to Ranked Choice Voting (or RCV, also sometimes known as Instant Runoff Voting or IRV). On Tuesday, Maine was the first in the nation to use RCV in a statewide election, despite the fact that it's very difficult to count, virtually impossible for the public to oversee, requires central tabulation and computers to pull off, and candidates and voters in many places where it's been tried in the past have found that it's impossible to understand why some candidates won and others lost.

(NOTE: Before you send me your hate mail, progressives and third-party people, please listen to today's show first, and also note that I'm willing to entertain a much simpler method of voting/counting which solves many of problems that folks who support RCV are concerned about. It's called Approval Voting. Basically, that allows voters to vote 'yes' or 'no' for as many candidates as they like. Whoever receives the most 'yes' votes wins. Simple. Overseeable. No computers necessary. And, it helps to avoid the "spoiler effect" that many proponents of RCV hope to solve. Listen to the full show, and then feel free to send your hate mail. UPDATE: Here's one more nightmare scenario for RCV, if you still need one.)

Anyway, LePage has threatened to not certify Tuesday's elections in his state because they are using RCV, which voters adopted in 2016. He's wrong about that and somewhat right about his RCV concerns, but --- because it's LePage --- for all the wrong reasons. I explain in detail on the show.

Speaking of this country's failure to even be able to count 1+1+1 reliably and overseeably in elections (even without adding the complicated algebra of RCV), the state of Nevada took its new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems out for a test drive across the state in their primary election on Tuesday. It did not go well. At some precincts, some candidates did not appear on some screens. Other precincts reported candidates pre-selected on their touchscreens (possibly left over from a previous voter, whose ballots may not have actually been cast.) And other problems that we describe on today's show.

We also cover some actual election results from Tuesday's primaries in Maine, Virginia, North Dakota, South Carolina and Nevada, as well as special elections in Wisconsin.

In Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker (R) had attempted to prevent two special elections for the state legislature from happening at all --- because he feared the seats would flip from "Red" to "Blue" --- one of those seats in the state Senate did, in fact, flip to the Democrats for the first time in four-decades, in a very Republican district.

In Virginia, GOP voters nominated Corey Stewart, a far rightwing, Trump-endorsed Confederacy defender as their nominee to challenge Sen. Tim Kaine for the U.S. Senate this year. In South Carolina, former Governor, now U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford was turfed out in his primary by another Republican for not being Trumpy enough. And, in D.C., retiring Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee (correctly) charged that his party has become little more than a Trump "cult".

In Canada, meanwhile, the House of Commons unanimously pushed back on the Trump Administration's weekend attack on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau following the G7 summit, and on the tariffs imposed by Trump on steel and aluminum from our longtime friends and allies to the north. And the next day, in a complete coincidence, Trump's DHS hardened their border policy with Canada to, supposedly, prevent criminals and terrorists from entering the U.S.

Finally today, a ballot initiative that would break California into three states appears to have qualified for this November's ballot! While the measure is currently said to be very unpopular with actual voters in the Golden State, it seems at least as unthinkable that it could pass as that Donald Trump could ever become President of the United States...

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

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Guest: Former HUD official Diane Yentel; Also: DoJ spied on journalist in leak probe, refuses to defend 'ObamaCare' in new lawsuit...
By Brad Friedman on 6/8/2018 6:45pm PT  

It was another very difficult day, with a fire hose of incoming news, figuring out what most needs to be covered, underscored, highlighted and given context to on today's BradCast. Here are some of the stories that made the difficult cut. [Audio link to show follows below.]...

First up: The Department of Justice appears to have ignored its own guidelines for dealing with journalists and their Constitutional First Amendment protections. James A. Wolfe, a 30-year veteran of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in charge of security, has now been charged with three counts of lying to federal investigators as part of an aggressive leak investigation. It should be noted that he has not (at least yet) been charged with leaking classified information, just of lying to investigators.

Related to that indictment, we have now learned that New York Times journalist Ali Watkins, said to have been in a romantic relationship with Wolfe at one time, had at least a year's worth of her phone and email records secretly seized by Trump's DoJ without her knowledge. That means the confidential sources and whistleblowers (above and beyond Wolfe, who, she says, was never a source of classified information for her) have presumably now all been exposed to the DoJ. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said that his DoJ has tripled the number of leak investigations carried out by Obama's DoJ, which had already prosecuted more government leakers than all previous Administrations combined.

The turn of events has, justifiably, gravely alarmed journalists and First Amendment advocates, such as the Freedom of the Press Foundation which has decried both the indictments of Wolfe and, in particular, the spying on Atkins, who was given no opportunity to challenge the matter in court. "Having her private records scrutinized and spied on by the government for doing her job as a journalist, and the Justice Department's move should be loudly condemned by everyone no matter your political preference," said Trevor Timm, the Foundation's Executive Director.

Next: In another alarming break with both precedent and tradition, Trump's DoJ announced they would not defend the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare") against a lawsuit filed by some 20 Republican state Attorneys General. The DoJ traditionally defends federal laws duly adopted by Congress and signed by the President in all but the most extreme circumstances. According to experts, however, this is an otherwise very weak case against the law which has ensured affordable health care for tens of millions of Americans since its passage in 2010.

We explain the basis for the suit, and how, if successful, it would gut two of the most popular provisions of the ACA, it's restriction on charging the elderly more for health insurance, and on insurance companies denying covering to those with pre-existing conditions.

Three career attorneys at DoJ were removed from the case on Thursday so that a Trump political appointee could take it over and flip the Department's previous position defending ACA and opposing the lawsuit. Nonetheless, some 17 state Attorneys General from Democratic leaning states have interceded to oppose the suit and defend the federal law.

Finally today: As if all of that isn't disturbing enough. A new bill introduced in Congress, supported by the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson, would see rent for low-income tenants in federally-subsidized housing increased by an average of 26% --- year after year, according to a new analysis! The "Make Affordable Housing Work Act" introduced in April, would affect roughly four million American households, many of them families with children who could be forced into homelessness by this extraordinary cruel measure which Carson recently described on Fox "News" as "our attempt to give poor people a way out of poverty."

Our guest today, former director of the Public Housing Management and Occupancy Division at the HUD under Barack Obama, DIANE YENTEL, charges that Carson's statement is "as absurd as it sounds. Clearly, increasing rents on people isn't the way out of poverty, it's the way deeper into poverty. And potentially homelessness."

Yentel, now President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, explains the extraordinary measure, noting that "by design, the greatest burden falls on seniors, people with disabilities, and families with young kids." In fact, the measure would, according to AP, "increase the percentage of income poor tenants are required to pay from 30 percent to 35 percent [of their income, and] would eliminate deductions, for medical care and child care, and for each child in a home."

Moreover, while Carson's HUD claims the elderly and disabled would be exempt from the change, Yentel charges that "is just not true", and explains how an estimated 314,000 households stand to lose their elderly or disabled status and will see their rents increased as well.

She goes on to argue that we already face a massive housing crisis for low and middle-income Americans, and that this measure would only make things far worse. "The housing crisis that we're in right now has reached historic heights. It's most negatively impacting the lowest income people. The National Low Income Housing Coalition's research [shows] we currently have a shortage of 7 million homes affordable and available for the lowest income people. Nationwide, for every 100 of the lowest-income people who need housing assistance, there's only 35 homes that are affordable and available to them."

Yentel goes on to tell me that most of those who would be effected are already working families, and that while raising the federal minimum wage is a necessary part of making housing affordable for millions of these Americans, it would have to be raised to more than $21 per hour for most to be able to afford a modest, two bedroom apartment. That, even as the wealth disparity between rich and poor in the U.S. continues to grow in the wake of the Trump/GOP tax cuts last year, gifting some $1.5 trillion to the wealthiest of Americans who need it the least and now "by cutting the programs that give the most basic resources, basic benefits, to the lowest income, most vulnerable people in our country."

"I think that's pretty shameful," says Yentel...

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

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Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern on 'having cake and eating it too'; Also: Probs for voters in CA and SD, as eight states hold primaries...
By Brad Friedman on 6/5/2018 6:05pm PT  

On today's BradCast: As voters head to the polls in eight states (CA, AL, IA, MS, MT, NJ, NM and SD) on Tuesday, we cover a few "sorta victories" elsewhere for now, including at the U.S. Supreme Court. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Reports of problems at the polls have already cropped up, however, in South Dakota, where electronic pollbooks failed in eight counties, and here in Los Angeles, where a "random issue with the print job" on paper rosters at polling places, according to the County Clerk, has led to some voters needing to cast provisional ballots.

As we await election results and likely reports of more problems elsewhere, a "sorta victory" for Twitter users who had sued the President after he blocked them on Twitter. Those seven plaintiffs were finally unblocked by Trump after a federal court found last month that he was violating their Constitutional First Amendment free speech rights. But, on the same day those seven were unblocked, the Dept. of Justice appealed the court's ruling anyway.

In Alabama, another "sorta victory" as the story of Sec. of State John Merrill blocking folks on Twitter for pointing out his errors as the state's top election official, has finally been picked up by the corporate media in the state. That, just hours before voters headed to the polls, with Merrill himself on the ballot. The coverage comes after we first reported on Merrill's behavior months ago (when he blocked me for being right about the state's computerized election tabulators), and again last week after he sent me a flurry of insane emails [PDF] in response to a simple query as to whether he planned to unblock followers now that a federal court has found his behavior to be in violation of the U.S. Constitution. The Montgomery Advertiser's weak coverage, however, largely serves to offer the Sec. of State a platform to call election experts and journalists "trolls" (for being correct and polite), while still refusing to unblock them.

In Arizona, a lawsuit against the state for keeping tens of thousands of registered voters off the rolls for failing to provide "proof of citizenship" before being allowed to vote has now been settled with a consent decree that will enfranchise many voters, even if it will still result in thousands being disallowed from voting in state and local contests. So, a "sorta victory" there as well.

And, at the U.S. Supreme Court this week, a "sorta victory" for both anti-gay bigots and civil rights advocates as the long-awaited ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. CO Civil Rights Commission, a case involving a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple's wedding reception is finally decided by a narrow 7 to 2 ruling in favor of the baker...sorta.

Slate legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN joins us to explain how Justice Anthony Kennedy, with his majority opinion. tries to "have his cake and eat it too," by largely kicking the can down the road for another day, while ostensibly siding with the baker against the state Commission on rather dubious religious freedom grounds.

The decision, however, also appears to strengthen the existing right of states to bar discrimination by similar businesses on the basis of sexual orientation. So much so, that, under the ruling, the two plaintiffs, according to their ACLU attorney, should be able to walk into Jack Phillip's Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, CO today and purchase a cake for their wedding anniversary, if they wished. If they are blocked, that would be in violation of the Constitution. Nonetheless, a definitive opinion from SCOTUS on the issue of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation will have to wait for another day.

"If the Supreme Court applied the same standard to the [Trump] travel ban case as they have applied to Masterpiece, the Court would have no trouble striking down the travel ban as a violation of First Amendment religious freedoms," Stern tells me, when I ask whether Kennedy's weak religious liberty argument here may apply more to some religions than others. "Unfortunately, I do not think the court is going to be consistent. I think, instead, the Court's going to wind up applying a much stricter standard when it's Christians' rights on the line, than when it's Muslims' rights on the line. And we're all going to be very disappointed in this kind of inconsistent religious liberty --- 'for me, but not for thee.'"

Stern offers smart insight on the Court's opinion(s) --- which were widely misreported elsewhere on Monday --- as well as another decision this week from the Court on the Trump Administration's failed attempt to punish the ACLU for supporting a teen immigrant who sought a lawful abortion after being detained at the border. That ruling, at least, was a complete victory, he explains, not just a "sorta" one.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with news on two deadly volcanoes in Guatemala and Hawaii, the Administration's new scheme to bail-out the coal industry, Canada's new scheme to nationalize a controversial pipeline, and more distressing fossil fuel and climate change news...

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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Alabama's election chief lashes out in advance of midterm primaries, after previously blocking journalists, election law experts on Twitter...
By Brad Friedman on 5/31/2018 6:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Just days from Alabama's mid-term primaries next week --- in which Sec. of State John Merrill (R) will be on the ballot himself --- we share a wild, and often inexplicable, string of bizarre emails sent sent to me over the past week by the state's chief election official. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The weird story begins late last year, with the contentious and closely watched December U.S. Senate special election in Alabama between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones. On election night, following the state's computer-tallied results reported a narrow victory for Jones, Merrill inaccurately stated on CNN that "any candidate can ask for a recount and if they pay for it, they can receive a recount."

After UC Irvine's highly-regarded election law expert, Rick Hasen, noted on Twitter that Merrill appeared to be in error, that AL's state election code appeared to allow only candidates in NON-federal races to request and pay for a recount if the margin was larger than 0.5%, Merrill blocked him, rather than correct his own error or cite a different section of the state law to support his assertions. That pattern would be repeated as Merrill blocked other election law experts on Twitter.

Days later, the Secretary of State injected himself into a Twitter exchange I was having with others, to insist, repeatedly and inaccurately that Alabama's computerized paper ballot scanners "do not capture or preserve digital ballot images." In fact, they do, as made clear during a successful state court action just before the election. (My interview at the time with one of the organizers of the lawsuit is here). Merrill, however, was able to have the ruling stayed by the AL Supreme Court the night before the election. (My election day interview, with one of the plaintiff attorneys is here.)

Rather than cite evidence during the, extremely bizarre Twitter conversation [PDF], Merrill ended up blocking me there as well.

All of which brings us to last week, when a federal court in New York determined that public officials --- in that case, the President of the United States --- was in violation of the Constitution's First Amendment for blocking perceived "political opponents" on Twitter. (My interview with one of the plaintiffs in that case is here.)

Before we covered the ruling on a BradCast last week with University of Kentucky College of Law constitutional expert Joshua A. Douglas, who had also been blocked by Merrill (my interview with him on that earlier last year is here), I sought comment from the Secretary as to whether he intended to restore those he'd blocked, given the federal court ruling.

The subsequent string of bizarre emails [PDF] and phone calls I then received from the state's top election official is remarkable, and we share those on today's show, in the interest of Alabama voters who head to the polls next week.

In addition to steadfastly refusing to unblock the election law experts and journalists he's blocked on Twitter, Merrill unleashes a number of unhinged and often inexplicable rants in response to polite queries about both the Twitter blocks and whether Merrill has asked county election officials to set their vote tabulation computers to preserve scanned ballot images in the upcoming primary, in order to make public oversight of results somewhat easier.

At several points, Merrill's Deputy Chief of Staff and Communications Director John Bennett attempted to intercede via both email and phone. As I explain on the show today, the call from Bennett was very pleasant and he seemed to me, in truth, somewhat embarrassed by his boss' behavior. But he promised to get back to me after looking into both the Twitter ruling and the issue of Alabama's ES&S computer tabulation systems capturing digital ballot images. A note he sent shortly thereafter confirmed that they do. (See the PDF linked above for details.)

But, then Merrill blew things up again, with another string of emailed rants. Among the odd attacks from the emails in which the first term Sec. of State describes himself as "a nationally recognized expert in the field of elections", Merrill charges that I have a "problem...bigger than one that I have the ability to solve" (but refuses to specify what that "problem" might be), that I live with my mother (I don't), "has absolutely no idea what [I'm] talking about" (despite some 15 years of covering elections and voting systems as a journalist), and should try to "get a job with an elections program system" so I can "contribute to the discussion as an expert in the field". That's just a taste.

As noted today, I didn't even want to cover this at all, in truth, because it's largely just embarrassing for Merrill. But when I realized he was actually on the ballot next week, it seemed this was information that voters in Alabama deserved to know before making their decision. For the record, Merrill is being challenged in the Republican primary by Michael Johnson. On the Democratic side, two candidates, Heather Milam and Lula Albert-Kaigler. (She ran unsuccessfully against Merrill in 2014, though I can't find an official campaign website for her now.)

Also today: A new book by a longtime senior adviser to President Obama reportedly reveals that he feared sanctions against Russia before the 2016 election might have resulted in hacked computer tabulation systems (despite public assertions by the Administration before and after that Presidential results could not be easily manipulated by foreign attack), and election officials in a number of states are now reportedly very concerned about hacking --- or the perception that results were tampered with --- in advance of the crucial 2018 midterm elections (just as we've been warning, non-stop, for more than a decade.)

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as climate change wreaks havoc with a number of deadly storms over the Memorial Day weekend...

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: Univ. of Kentucky law professor Joshua A. Douglas; Also: 'Dotard' President nixes NK summit (for now): Plus: ZOMBIE ALERT!...
By Brad Friedman on 5/24/2018 6:35pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Our last show before a long holiday weekend packs a wallop and finds not just the President of the United States in violation of the Constitution, but also Alabama's Secretary of State. Also: zombies! [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, President Trump found an excuse today to bail out of the planned June 12th nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, stunning allies in South Korea with a letter to Kim that sounded not unlike a bad breakup letter from a "needy" boyfriend, meant to keep his girlfriend from breaking up with him first --- while begging her to come back. We share the bizarre letter in full, along with both reactions to it and reasons behind it.

Then, it's been an interesting week for the First Amendment and those who claim to be "Constitutional conservatives", as Scott Pruitt's EPA locked out mainstream media outlets, such as AP and CNN, from a major water contamination forum, and as a federal judge in New York ruled that Trump was personally violating the Constitutional First Amendment free speech rights of seven plaintiffs who sued after he blocked them on Twitter. (My interview with one of the plaintiffs earlier this year, legal journalist Rebecca Showalter-Poza, is here.) The Dept. of Justice is said to be reviewing the court's ruling and may appeal.

While those plaintiffs were purportedly blocked from seeing or responding to Trump's Twitter feed, because he disagreed with their political points of view, the case echoes a similar matter that we discussed some months ago, after I was blocked on Twitter by Alabama Sec. of State John Merrill (R) in the midst of a bizarre conversation [PDF] in which I politely corrected the Secretary for erroneous public statements made about his state's computerized vote tabulation systems.

We're joined today to discuss both of those free speech matters and more by University of Kentucky College of Law professor JOSHUA A. DOUGLAS, who was also blocked by Merrill on Twitter last year after mentioning to him that "blocking people on Twitter, blocking his own constituents on Twitter, could violate the First Amendment".

Douglas, whose assertion was bared out by the federal judge in New York this week, explains the ruling and what may happen next in the case (will Trump end up pushing the case and violating a federal court order and then attempt to pardon himself as a test run for the future?), and I share an emailed response to my query from Merrill this morning in full, as the blocks continue on Twitter in apparent violation of the Constitution.

The central part of Merrill's response to me today [emphasis added]:

I will continue to use my social media forums the way that I have in the past. They will not be utilized by other users to express their political views or promote their agendas.

While I don't think Merrill actually owns Twitter quite as much as he seems to think he does, there was actually no political view or agenda expressed in my conversation with him that resulted in the block. More importantly, as Douglas notes in response to Merrill's remarks today: "Once someone like Donald Trump or John Merrill begins to use his Twitter account in a governmental capacity, then he can't pick and choose and block someone because he thinks, in his own view, that that person is promoting some sort of political agenda. That's really what the core of the First Amendment is all about, and that's what this court said."

Douglas, a Constitutional law and elections expert in Kentucky, also offers his thoughts on this week's upset victory by political newcomer Amy McGrath over DCCC-recruited Lexington Mayor Jim Gray in the primary contest for the Democratic nomination to challenge Rep. Andy Barr (R) this November in Douglas' own district. His take, particularly on the "conservative" bent of the two Democratic candidates, is somewhat different than the one offered by BlueAmericaPAC's Howie Klein on yesterday's program.

Then, we're joined by Desi Doyen for an incredibly news-chocked and, at times, quite troubling Green News Report. And, finally, to lighten things up just a bit before a long holiday weekend, an actual story about a "ZOMBIE ALERT!" issued in south Florida this past week. No, really!...

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: EPA blocks mainstream media outlets, forcibly removes reporter, from water contamination event...
By Brad Friedman on 5/22/2018 6:15pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A host of important and troubling news items that you're probably not hearing much about as the corporate media continue their seemingly non-stop focus on investigations into massive Trump corruption. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First, a disturbing move by the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday suggests a very dark moment for American democracy as reporters from AP, CNN and elsewhere were blocked from attending a water contamination event held EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. One AP journalist is said to have been "forcibly removed" from the building. That, just about one week after reports that the Trump Administration is blocking the publication of a major new report finding widespread water contamination across the country. That study is reportedly being withheld because the Administration believes it would be a "public relations nightmare" for the chemical companies involved, if it was released.

Meanwhile, a federal court on Monday found Texas in violation of both the U.S. Constitution and the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) for refusing to allow residents who update their drivers license online to register to vote at the same time, as required by the 1993 law. The Republican-controlled state appealed the ruling to the rightwing U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals just minutes after it was issued by the U.S. District Court judge, all but assuring the case, originally filed in 2016, will continue beyond this November's mid-terms.

And, speaking of Republicans who don't want certain people to vote, in Florida, John Ward, a GOP candidate for the U.S. House, was caught on videotape arguing that U.S. citizens from Puerto Rico who moved to the Sunshine State following the devastation of Hurricanes Maria and Irma last year, should not be allowed to register to vote in Florida and should go back "where they belong".

Next, we're joined by Slate's fantastic legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN to offer clarity on two disturbing, and very important cases this week.

The first is the story of a 24-year old DACA recipient from Seattle who was brought here by his father when he was five years old and detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency last year just after Trump took office. Daniel Ramirez Medina, a "Dreamer" with no criminal record, legally working in the U.S. after twice receiving protected status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, was arrested by ICE in February of 2017 when they went to his house to detain his father. ICE subsequently booked Ramirez, lied about him --- blatantly doctoring a document to make it appear Ramirez admitted to being a member of a non-existent gang (he never was) --- in order to remove his protection and begin deportation proceedings.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez, a George W. Bush appointee, found that ICE repeatedly lied about Ramirez and to the court about their evidence against him. "Judge Martinez is no flaming liberal, but he looked at the evidence before him, and he was clearly disgusted and incensed by what the agency had done," says Stern.

He describes how Ramirez was saved, for now, only due to his protected status under the Obama-era DACA program, which Trump continues to try to kill. "The only reason that this story rose to the top, and that it actually got before a federal judge who could rule on it, is because this guy is lucky enough to have DACA status. So he had this extra layer of protection that most undocumented immigrants don't have." Unfortunately, the dishonest tactics ICE attempted to use against Ramirez are usually successful, Stern says, explaining, "ICE agents do this all the time".

Then, we turn to an outrageous 5 to 4 decision by the stolen, rightwing U.S. Supreme Court this week that demolished the clear, statutory right established by decades-old New Deal-era labor reforms, allowing employees to file collective class-action lawsuits against their employers for wage theft.

As Stern explains, Monday's hypocritical and legally erroneous majority opinion in Epic Systems v. Lewis [PDF], written by the corrupt, self-proclaimed "textualist" Justice Neil Gorsuch (who occupies the seat stolen for him by the GOP Senate after Antonin Scalia's death in early 2016), was blasted by a furious Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her minority opinion, as the ruling, according to Stern, "effectively legalizes low-level wage theft" and is "nothing less than catastrophic for workers across the country."

It's really even worse than you may have heard --- if you even heard anything about it. But, Sterns adds with a glimmer of hope, the law in question that was blatantly misinterpreted by Gorsuch's judicial activism could very easily be amended for clarity in order to reverse this SCOTUS decision. The fix, however, would likely require a Democratic Congress and a cooperative President.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with some insane new climate denialism by Republicans on the U.S. House Science Committee, and some much more encouraging news on several other related fronts from Britain to San Francisco to China...

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Snowflake politicians and members of the 'liberal' media elite are 'outraged' by imaginery attacks from a comedian on Saturday night...
By Brad Friedman on 4/30/2018 5:56pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Listen for yourself to the speech that top politicians and corporate journalists have claimed to be furious about since the annual White House Correspondents Dinner on Saturday night. Then ask yourself: What the hell are these people talking about? [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Over the weekend, we learned that the U.S. Department of Justice has literally rewritten their prosecutorial guidance manual for U.S. Attorneys in order to, among other things, remove the section on the "Need for [a] Free Press". That, just a week or two after we learned, via memos [PDF] written by then FBI Director James Comey immediately after several private meetings last year with Donald Trump, that the President seemed obsessed with the idea of arresting and throwing journalists in prison. "They spend a couple days in jail, make a new friend, and they are ready to talk," Trump reportedly said to Comey, according to one of the contemporaneous memos.

Despite all of that, many elite journalists in the corporate media, from the New York Times to NBC News to Fox "News" and beyond, have spent much of their last two days claiming to be outraged by a comedian's routine at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner. The (somewhat grotesque) annual event, which usually features the President (but hasn't in the two years since Trump took office and has refused to attend) is specifically, according to the first several hours of the event and the huge banner on the wall behind the dais, meant for the purpose of "CELEBRATING THE FIRST AMENDMENT".

Nonetheless, NBC's Andrea Mitchell and the NYTimes' Maggie Haberman among others in the media, joined high-ranking Republicans to blast that comedian, Michelle Wolf, in the days since the event, demanding an apology for Wolf's jokes that, they claimed, were divisive and, worse, attacked the physical appearance of White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders. Only problem with that: Wolf didn't attack her physical appearance. She appropriately roasted Sanders (and many others) for lying to the press and the American people every day.

As many have probably heard about Wolf's outrageous "attacks" and what a "bomb" her routine was --- (Trump tweeted as much, along with the journalists, many times since) --- we thought it might be useful and informative to actually celebrate the First Amendment by playing Wolf's entire WHCD routine in full, so listeners can decide for themselves about the corporate media's bizarre response to it...at an annual event where thousands of the country's "access journalists" hobnob and back-slap with the very elected politicians they are supposed to be skeptically reporting on.

Then, we open up the phone lines to callers, just in case they heard the offense to Sanders' physical appearance that I must have missed. (Spoiler alert: Listeners didn't hear it either, even after I played Wolf's sometimes raunchy and satirically biting remarks in full! Go figure. But, listeners do have a few thoughts on why many elite politicians and members of the corporate media may have heard it that way.)

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Guest: James Goodwin of Center for Progressive Reform; Also: DNC files Trump/Russia 'conspiracy' lawsuit; Wells Fargo fined $1B; Comey memos reveal Trump wants to jail journalists...
By Brad Friedman on 4/20/2018 6:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast: As usual, the big headlines obscure the most disturbing ones. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

On Friday, the Democratic National Committee filed a surprise federal lawsuit against Donald Trump, his son Don Jr., his son-in-law Jared Kushner, several other members of the Trump Campaign, as well as Russia and WikiLeaks, for what the DNC's characterizes in the complaint as a broad "conspiracy" to steal private documents and undermine the DNC and the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign in "an act of previously unimaginable treachery". If allowed to move forward, the suit could result in the President, and all of his men, being forced to turn over documents and give depositions under oath. (It could also set a troubling precedent for journalists.)

Also on Friday, Wells Fargo was slapped with a $1 billion fine by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) for hoaxing more than half a million customers into purchasing car insurance they did not need. While it was the first major action by the CFPB since Trump muscled his own Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney into the dual role of Acting CFPB Director, the record fine is only a small percentage of what Wells is receiving from Trump's recent massive tax cuts.

Mulvaney, who, as a Tea Party Congressman had spent years trying to abolish the consumer bureau formed after the 2008 global banking and mortgage crisis, was upbraided by Sen. Elizabeth Warren during a recent hearing in the Senate, for his ongoing efforts to undermine the CFPB's critical assistance to consumers.

And, related to all of that, while the worst of the Trump/GOP's major legislative agenda under Trump was broadly considered to be behind us with Democrats believed likely to take over one or both chambers of Congress this November, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA, pictured above) recently came up with a scheme to twist the obscure Congressional Review Act (CRA), in order to gut decades of executive agency regulations with a simple majority vote in each house. While the CRA, only used once in its 21-year history before Trump took office, was meant as a way for Congress to roll back new formal rules enacted by executive agencies, it has been used over the past year to gut dozens of formal regulations enacted during the last 60 days of the Obama Administration.

Toomey, however, has now come up with a new interpretation of the law to allow Republicans to kill regulations from decades ago. This week, the GOP Senate began using his interpretation to do just that. They voted to kill a 2013 CFPB "guidance" document enacted to prevent racial discrimination in auto loans after hundreds of thousands of minority car buyers were found to have been charged higher interest rates for loans (resulting in more than $100 million in fines by the CFPB and money paid back to customers.)

Toomey's maneuver, however, allows such guidelines --- as opposed to only recently enacted formal rules --- to be killed under the CRA, which also prevents executive agencies from ever reinstating a similar regulation in the future. In the bargain, decades of established executive agency regulations could now be done away with, with simple majority votes, between now and the start of the next Congressional term in 2019.

We're joined today by JAMES GOODWIN of the Center for Progressive Reform to discuss this dangerous and insidious new scheme which has received disturbingly sparse media attention since its first time use this past week. Goodwin details what the CRA was meant to do, versus how Republicans have now decided to use, and the many ways in which the CRA might now be abused across the federal government with this new precedent. "One of the main dangers of this new precedent," he explains, "is we have all of these critical safeguards that we thought were in place, that now could simply vanish. And, really, the only limitation [Republicans] face is time."

Finally, the release of memos [PDF] written by fired FBI Director James Comey just after his several meetings with Donald Trump, confirm Comey's earlier descriptions of those bizarre encounters, and have received much coverage for the President's described concerns about Russian hookers and his former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who has pleaded guilty to felonies in Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe. Less discussed, however, are the troubling details from the memos revealing that Trump was similarly obsessed with convincing the FBI Director to throw journalists in jail --- in stark violation of the First Amendment --- for reporting on embarrassing leaks coming out of his White House...

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By Brad Friedman on 4/5/2018 6:19pm PT  

On today's BradCast: While everything still sucks, there are, nonetheless, a growing number of encouraging signs that Americans --- even those in so-called "red" states --- have had just about enough of the rightwing Republican corporate takeover and ravaging of this country and so much that we hold dear. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Among the stories covered towards that end on today's program...

  • A record-breaking number of women are now running for Congress, and the filing deadlines haven't even passed in half of the states;
  • Sinclair Broadcasting Group's insidious misuse of our public airwaves for rightwing pro-Trump propaganda purposes finally begins to catch the attention of Democrats in Congress, as company executives mouth off with pathetic excuses, former employees speak out, some staffers resign in protest, and others, while embarrassed by being forced to read on-air nonsense from their owners, find reasonable excuses for not quitting (such as outrageously onerous contract terms) at once-respected TV news outlets now controlled by the nation's largest owner of television stations;
  • Teachers in so-called "red" states like Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona and West Virginia continue walkouts to push back against state education budgets that have been slashed in recent years to pay for huge tax cuts to wealthy corporations in failed experiments with supposedly "pro-growth" Reaganomics;
  • And while Republican officials in those states have made clear they were only pretending to give a damn about kids, their pretend love for coal miners has also been exposed as a lie in Kentucky, where lawmakers just made it much more difficult for miners to receive compensation amid an epidemic surge of deadly black lung disease cases;
  • The jaw-dropping corruption scandals of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt continue to be revealed on a daily basis. So, will Donald Trump finally find the courage to fire him?;
  • And, finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, in which Mobil Oil joins Exxon in being revealed as having been fully aware, decades ago, that the burning of fossil fuels is causing civilization-threatening climate change, and Americans tell Ryan Zinke and his Interior Department to take a hike over huge proposed increases to entry fees at our national parks...

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Guest: Pam Vogel of Media Matters; Also: Another mass shooting; Good news for voters in two federal voter registration cases in TX and FL...
By Brad Friedman on 4/3/2018 6:25pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Good news for voters in two separate federal court cases concerning the National Voter Registration Act, and bad news for democracy, as a rightwing media outlet is using trusted local television anchors --- and our public airwaves --- to deceptively promote the Trump Agenda. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, some breaking news as we go to air today on yet another mass shooting. This time, it was at the YouTube headquarters building in San Bruno, California, with few details known as of airtime, other than the news that four were known to have been wounded and the shooter appears to have been a women who killed herself after her spree.

Then, some happier breaking news out of Texas, where a federal court found in favor of the Texas Civil Rights Project on Tuesday, in their lawsuit against the state on behalf of plaintiffs who were denied voter registration via the online Department of Public Safety (DPS) website system when they obtained or changed their drivers' licenses. Under the federal National Voter Registration Act (NVRA or "motor voter" law), the judge ruled the state is required to process changes to drivers' licenses as voter registration applications when users click a box to confirm they wish to register to vote. Some 1.5 million Texans annually, according to the complaint [PDF], have attempted to do so, only to find out they were not actually registered to vote via the system when they showed up to the polls.

In further encouraging court news for voters, a federal judge in Florida on Friday found against a group of long-time Republican "voter fraud" fraudsters who sued, under a different provision of the NVRA, claiming that Broward County wasn't purging their voting rolls aggressively enough. That case was the first to come to trial among several similar cases filed by the rightwing groups calling themselves Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) and the American Civil Rights Union (ACRU). The judge's ruling seriously undercuts at least one of the major claims made by longtime GOP "voter fraud" fraudsters asserting evidence of massive "voter fraud" supposedly being carried out by Democrats.

Then, after a remarkable video mashup of dozens and dozens of local TV news anchors all robotically reading the same corporate-supplied script decrying "fake news" went viral over the weekend, there has been intense scrutiny of the rightwing Sinclair Broadcast Group, the company which forced the local stations it owns to produce the promos. Sinclair currently owns nearly 200 local TV stations and, despite already being the largest owner of stations nationwide, is in the process of purchasing at least 40 more that are owned by Tribune Media.

Media Matters' researcher PAM VOGEL, who has been reporting on Sinclair's misuse of our public airwaves via their local stations for several years, joins us to detail the concerns behind otherwise longtime trusted local media outlets becoming little more than propaganda outlets for the Trump Administration.

"Sinclair has been so successful for so long, because they kind of fly under the radar with smaller-scale local news," Vogel explains. The company uses it's stations --- affiliates of various networks, like ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox --- to "exploit the inherent trust that people have for their local news. You aren't necessarily aware of who is pulling the strings behind the scenes. There's no Sinclair logo on the screen."

Beyond forcing stations to run promos like the "hostage video" that went viral over the weekend, Sinclair also forces them to use regular "must-run" commentaries like those from former Trump Campaign official Boris Epshteyn.

Vogel also details what is known about the FCC Inspector General's reported investigation into whether Trump Administration officials and his FCC Chairman Ajit Pai improperly colluded with Sinclair executives to change long-standing FCC media ownership rules in order to accommodate Sinclair's attempted takeover of Tribune Media.

"They are already the largest owner of local television stations in the country, but this deal is completely unprecedented," she tells me. "And it wouldn't have actually been possible unless Trump's FCC --- now that it was under Republican-majority control, with Trump in office --- made some special moves to make that deal possible in the first place."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, in which the EPA has reversed fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks enacted by the Obama Administration; EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt finds himself under renewed scrutiny in several corruption scandals; DoJ sues the state of California over federal lands; and ExxonMobil's attempt to block climate change lawsuits against them gets tossed by a federal judge...

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Guest: Journalist Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza on her suit against Trump: Also: Another bomb in TX; Another school shooting in MD; Another storm in the Northeast...
By Brad Friedman on 3/20/2018 6:24pm PT  

On today's BradCast: What happens when the President of the United States blocks you on Twitter? How about when the President blocks a journalist? Does that violate an American's First Amendment free speech rights or Constitutional protections granted to the press? Our guest today thinks so, and is one of seven plaintiffs now suing Donald J. Trump in federal court for having blocked them on the social media platform from viewing or replying to his tweets or participating in discussion about them on the site. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, a few breaking news items, beginning with the fifth package bomb to explode in Texas this month, as an apparent "serial bomber" continues to terrorize the Austin community in what may be a deadly spree targeting minorities in the area. Today, Donald Trump and his White House finally made their very first comments on the bombings, that have, so far, killed two and seriously injured several others.

Then, there was another school shooting today, the 17th since the beginning of the year, this time at a high school in Maryland where, just last week, many of its students participated in a national walkout to demand reform of our nation's gun laws. The shooter in today's incident is now dead after a school resource officer fired on him (though it remains unclear if the 17-year old student shot himself and if one of the victims may have been shot by the officer.) The two student victims, a 16-year old female and 14-year old male remain in the hospital. The girl is reportedly in critical condition.

But, we also have some encouraging news on that front out of Florida, where a recent gun safety reform package was adopted by the state in the wake of the Parkland, FL massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The new measure allows, among other things, law enforcement officials with a court order to temporarily seize weaponry from those judged to be a threat to themselves or others. The first such court order was granted last week in Broward County, resulting in four firearms and 267 rounds of ammo being taken from a 56-year old man who, under a separate state law, was involuntarily institutionalized by police after what the judge described as a series of delusional episodes by the man. Naturally, right-wingers are both freaking out about it and not informing their audience about why those steps were actually taken.

Next: My guest today, REBECCA BUCKWALTER-POZA, judicial affairs editor at Daily Kos and a contributor to Democracy Journal, is one of seven plaintiffs now suing Donald J. Trump in federal court for having blocked them on Twitter from viewing or replying to his tweets or participating in discussion about them on the site. The attorney and journalist turned plaintiff joins us today to discuss her lawsuit and the recent hearing in federal court on the landmark case.

As Buckwalter-Poza, who is still blocked by Trump on the social media platform, explains: "It turns out the President really doesn't like it when you suggest that Russia was involved in the 2016 election. He tweeted something about having won the White House, and I all I did was quote that and say, 'To be fair, you didn't win it --- Russia won it for you.'" She says there were "no obscenities, no threats, absolutely nothing more than a reference to Russia's involvement in the election."

As part of its defense case, the U.S. Department of Justice (yes, we, the tax-payers, are footing the bill to defend Trump in this case!) has admitted that plaintiffs were blocked for no other reason than they were critical of the President. "They've conceded that it's 'viewpoint discrimination', which is the legal term for when you are, in this case, blocking someone from Twitter because you don't like what they're saying. There's no other justification. It's just the content. It's a criticism. That definitely violates my First Amendment rights," she argues.

Explaining how she sees those rights as being violated, Buckwalter-Poza tells me: "As a journalist, there's the immediate fact of not being able to follow Trump, not being able to engage other people, not being able to respond. To put it into First Amendment terms, though, I have a right to be part of this public forum, to engage other people, and to have my point of view be heard. And I have a right to try and catch the President's attention. Unfortunately, in this case I did, but his response was to block me instead of to respond."

I can attest to the difficulties in covering stories when the focus of the story blocks you on Twitter, as I reported last week regarding recent false comments about torture made by Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), who now apparently blocks me on Twitter for reasons unknown, and an incident at the end of last year which resulted in Alabama's Sec. of State John Merrill blocking me as well, after I politely corrected [PDF] his inaccurate statements about the state's computerized vote tabulation systems.

After a recent hearing with an apparently very well-informed federal judge, Buckwalter-Poza says the case could now result in a settlement. But that still remains to be seen.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on the first day of spring, as extreme winter weather continues to pummel the nation, including with what could be a fifth back-to-back Nor'easter for the East Coast over the weekend (they are currently facing their fourth), and as the Trump Administration continues to make "climate change" disappear, even from FEMA's natural disaster recovery plans...

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In wake of President's reported 'shithole countries' comment, the GOP's toxic, racist policies are laid bare in the U.S. and across the globe...
By Brad Friedman on 1/12/2018 6:43pm PT  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Dana Floberg of FreePress.net; Also: Nebraska approves KeystoneXL route after spill; Trump ratchets up war-mongering with NK...
By Brad Friedman on 11/20/2017 6:31pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Apparently, the mega-merger of non-wingnut media corporations is bad for consumers and competition, according to Trump's U.S. Department of Justice. But the mega-merger of right-wing media goliaths is just fine, according to Trump's FCC --- even if they must roll back decades of rules (and change the way math works) to maintain local media ownership of newspaper and TV stations in order to do it. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Today, just minutes before airtime, the U.S. Dept. of Justice announced their lawsuit to try and block the proposed $85 billion mega-merger between AT&T and Time-Warner, claiming the takeover would "substantially lessen competition" and result in "higher prices and less innovation for millions of Americans." While that might normally be encouraging and long-overdue anti-trust news from a U.S. Administration, the Trump Administration's war on CNN (whose parent company is owned by Time-Warner) and a separate move by Trump's FCC Chairman Ajit Pai late last week, gutting decades-old regulations that prevented companies from buying up local TV and newspaper outlets in the same market, makes the DoJ's claims a bit difficult to accept at face value.

Joining us today is DANA FLOBERG, policy analyst at the non-partisan media watchdog FreePress.net, to explain how the FCC's vote last week to kill those rules threatens independent media and local news competition and seems to contradict the Administration's response to to the AT&T/Time-Warner merger, even as it paves the way for another planned mega-merger between the far right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group and Tribune Media. That merger, along with the FCC's disturbing actions last week, with little publiclity and no public comment period, would allow Sinclair to reach some 72% of American viewers in an unprecedented takeover of as many as all of the local TV news outlets in your home town, eventually!

Floberg tells me her organization favors blocking the deal between AT&T and Time-Warner, but she remains "concerned on Trump's saber-rattling" with CNN as part of the Administration's objection to the deal. She says that merger must be blocked becaus "it's the right thing to do for Americans, not to suit Trump's personal vendetta."

As to last week's vote to overturn decades of local media consolidation regulations, she details what the new rules will allow, and explains how the FCC's Pai has "been rushing all these changes so they're in place by the time they have to approve the merger" between Sinclair and Tribune Media. In the bargain, as she discussed in a recent article at Free Press, Pai's argument that the consolidation of local media by huge corporations is needed to help struggling newspaper outlets doesn't meet the smell test. "They've already used the argument that 'consolidation will invigorate' local markets," she says, "and it hasn't worked". Sinclair is "already the largest broadcaster in the U.S.," she warns and the "first thing they do" after buying up stations "is they close newsrooms."

Then, Desi Doyen joins us to explain the decision made by by Nebraska's Public Service Commission on Monday to adopt an alternate route for the long-sought, controversial KeystoneXL Pipeline, just days after more than 200,000 gallons of dirty tar-sands crude from Canada spilled out of the original Keystone Pipeline in South Dakota.

Also today, Trump ratchets up his war-mongering with North Korea, this time by declaring them to be a state-sponsor of terrorism. And, one of his top generals explained over the weekend how Americans needn't worry, because he'd never facilitate an "illegal" war or nuclear launch by Trump. (Feel better? I don't.)

Callers then ring in on all of the above today. Enjoy!...

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

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Guest: Journalist Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel; Also: Reporter Mike Stark violently arrested covering VA's GOP Gubernatorial candidate...
By Brad Friedman on 10/31/2017 6:05pm PT  

To paraphrase an infamous tweet from the now-suspended Twitter account of long-time dirty trickster and Trump ally Roger Stone, it could soon be Attorney General Jeff Sessions' "time in the barrel", according to my guest on today's BradCast. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The Trump Administration and his supporters have been very busy today, working hard to downplay the Monday indictments unsealed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller against three campaign officials. Two of them, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, pleaded not guilty. The other, George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty, has been quietly cooperating with prosecutors for several months. The Campaign's former foreign policy advisor, has since been dismissed by Team Trump as little more than a "low-level volunteer" and a "coffee boy" over the 24 hours since the indictments were unsealed, revealing that Papadopoulos was charged with lying to federal prosecutors about conversations he had had with an unnamed "professor" said to be tied to Russia and claiming that Moscow had "thousands of emails" revealing "dirt" on Hillary Clinton.

I'm joined today by investigative journalist MARCY WHEELER of Emptywheel to help separate partisan hope from partisan hype regarding Mueller's investigation. We focus on the Papadopoulos case specifically, discuss whether it reveals "collusion" with Russia (which both the Trump Administration and Russian officials strongly deny), and why she believes, as reported at The Intercept, that, more than anything, the specific charges in that case may signal very bad news for Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

We also discuss what we now know (and don't) about the email hacks, what Mueller may have gained by waiting until Monday to reveal the indictments (Hello, unqualified USDA nominee Sam Clovis! Sam who?), and whether it's possible --- or even likely --- that Papadopoulos may have been wearing a wire during conversations with Trump officials in the months since he agreed to cooperate with federal investigators.

"Papadopoulos plead guilty for lying. We don't know why he lied, and why everyone keeps lying," Wheeler observes, adding a note of caution for the many anti-Trumpers who have been giddy since "Mueller Monday". "There's some smoke there. There may well be fire. I just think that everyone who opposes Trump has to be very careful about screaming 'fire' before we have evidence of fire. We have a legal system to sort that out. And until Trump does something to fire Mueller, or in another way thwart the investigation, we should let the investigation do what our legal system is supposed to do."

Also covered on today's show...

  • Reporter Mike Stark of ShareBlue, who has been dogging Virginia's Republican Gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillsepsie with questions about his lobbying past in advance of the state's November 7 election next Tuesday, was violently arrested over the weekend. Stark appeared on The BradCast as our guest just last week. We've got details on what happened, including comment from Stark;
  • A new poll finds Americans very pessimistic about the current state of American democracy and politics (including the vast majority of those who lived through the Vietnam era.);
  • Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with what suffices for some 'good news' updates out of Puerto Rico and much more;
  • And, we end with the breaking news late today of what New York officials are describing as a "terror" attack in lower Manhattan, after a pickup truck plowed into bicyclists, leaving 8 dead and 11 seriously injured as of the end of today's show...

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

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Guest: Shannyn Moore of Alaska Dispatch News...
By Brad Friedman on 10/11/2017 6:22pm PT  

Donald Trump appears to have either never read the U.S. Constitution that he is sworn to protect and defend, or he just doesn't understand it, or he just doesn't care about it, as his new attack on the press being "able to write whatever they want to write" reveals again today. But that may be the least of our problems at the moment --- and on today's BradCast. [Link to full audio posted below.]

After quick updates today on still rising death tolls in the continuing unspeakable disasters following Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the massive, ongoing and deadly wildfires in California, it's back to North Korea, where the U.S. military continues to flex its muscle and threaten the nation in a way that we would neverallow another nation to do off our own shores. With B-1 bombers and F-15 fighters now conducting missile launch drills off both costs of the Korean Peninsula (even North of the Demilitarized zone that divides North and South Korea) and the USS Ronald Reagan steaming its way there, we continue to provide reason and cover for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to increase his own military arsenal. In the bargain, as a new poll reveals, two-thirds of Americans now feel Trump's rhetoric threatening to "completely destroy" the isolated nation is making the situation worse, not better, between the two countries.

Then, we're joined by progressive Alaska Dispatch News columnist SHANNYN MOORE to explain the gob-smacking scheme --- approved just one hour after Trump's EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt met with a lobbyist from a Canadian mining company, as recently revealed by internal emails --- to re-kindle the possibility of federal approval for Pebble Mine on Alaska's pristine Bristol Bay watershed.

The move toward allowing the mammoth copper and gold mine comes after years of protest by Alaskan natives (like Moore), three years of study by the Obama Administration's EPA (which found the mine could "result in complete loss of fish habitat" in the sensitive spawning ground of more than half of the world's sockeye salmon), risks the loss of some 14,000 jobs, and runs directly counter to last November's statewide ballot initiative in which voters sought overwhelmingly to protect the area from mining interests and irreversible destruction. (You may leave public comment for the EPA here on this, before October 17th.)

We also talk with Moore, who, like many Alaskans, is a hunter and gun-owner, about her most recent column on the terrorist-enabling NRA/GOP's indefensible block of any and all legislative gun safety measures, despite wildly overwhelming support from Americans --- of all parties --- for a wide variety of such reforms in the wake of last week's massacre in Las Vegas...

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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