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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Sunday 'Giving Peace a Chance' Toons
Just a glimpse of what happened over the past week via the eyes of the world's political cartoonists, as one of them lost his job this week for being too critical of Donald J. Trump...
Sessions 'Can't Do That': Immigration Atty on Admin Denial of Domestic Abuse Asylum: 'BradCast' 6/15/18
Guest: Law Prof Karen Musalo; Also: 1000s ripped from parents, warehoused by US Govt...
'Green News Report' 6/14/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
GOPers turning on Pruitt; Antarctica's ice melting 3x times faster; DNC bans fossil fuel donations; Flooding doubled over last 30 yrs; PLUS: Energy Dept: E-cars cheapest to drive...
Previous GNRs: 6/12/18 - 6/7/18 - Archives...
Ranked Choice Voting is a Terrible Idea; Election Results/Fails, Trump's GOP Cult: 'BradCast' 6/13/18
NV's new voting systems fail; WI seat flipped; Scheme to break CA up on 2018 ballot...
'It Doesn't Matter, We're Starting from Scratch': 'BradCast' 6/12/18
Guest: Former Dep. Asst. Sec. of State Michael Fuchs on Singapore agreement, 'denuclearization', NK atrocities...
'Green News Report' 6/12/18
Trump's G7 debacle over climate; CA electric co. faulted for deadly fires; EPA overhauls cost-benefit analyses; PLUS: Growing movement to ban single-use plastics...
Trump's Bonkers Turn Against G7 Allies Before NK Summit: 'BradCast' 6/11/18
Also: SCOTUS approves radical OH vote purge scheme; L.A. won't rule out hacking in 'print error' that left 118k off rolls; Callers ring in...
Sunday Toons Not Censored by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
'PDiddie' features several recent toons by award-winning staff cartoonist Rob Rogers which were, remarkably enough, spiked by the paper's new RW editor...
HUD Scheme Raises Rent by 26% per Year on Low Income Familes: 'BradCast' 6/8/18
Guest: Former HUD official Diane Yentel; Also: DoJ spied on NYT journo, refuses to defend 'ObamaCare' in suit...
Election Failure, Fallout in CA, AL, SD: 'BradCast' 6/7/18
Several massive Election Day failures in L.A. and noteworthy results in CA and elsewhere; Also: The jaw-dropping kleptocracy of Trump's EPA chief Scott Pruitt...
'Green News Report' 6/7/18
CA voters choose climate action; Yet another ethics scandal for Pruitt; Judge orders denial evidence from EPA; PLUS: Trump withdrawal from Paris pact to cost trillions...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: Karen Musalo of the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies; Also: Thousands of children ripped from parents, warehoused in detention centers by U.S. Government for months...
By Brad Friedman on 6/15/2018 6:59pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The immigration horror stories of children being ripped from their parents and of asylum seekers fleeing domestic abuse in their home countries are beginning to pour in. We speak today to a longtime immigration attorney at the center of a number of landmark rulings, who is now representing the woman from El Salvador whose grant of asylum was unilaterally overturned this week by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. [Link to audio of the show is posted below.]

There are now more than 11,000 children who have been separated from their parents at the southern border being held in detention centers across the country by the U.S. Government. It's unclear whether that number includes the 2,000 kids taken from their parents over a recent six week period, as reported by AP today, under the Trump Administration's new "zero tolerance" policy, which requires criminal, rather than civil, prosecution against those who cross the border unlawfully.

This week, some members of the media finally received a limited first look inside one of the largest such detention centers --- a converted Walmart superstore in Brownsville, TX --- where some 1,500 boys, aged 10 to 17, are being warehoused. They are living five in each room built for four people, are forced to stay inside for 22 hours a day, and are being held, on average, for about 50 days each in the facility, before they are either sent to foster care or reunited with their parents (if those parents can find them within the government system.)

Media reports this week include horrific stories of babies being ripped from their mothers' arms while breastfeeding and parents being told that officials are simply taking their children to bathe them, before they are shipped away to a detention facility. Somehow, Donald Trump and his White House are managing to blame all of this on Democrats, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions is justifying these new Dept. of Justice policies by quoting the bible. We cover some of those nightmarish stories, reports that an outdoor tent city, in sweltering southwest TX near El Paso, is being planned to store more than 400 more children --- who are now being separated from their parents at an alarming rate --- and a confrontation between reporters and Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders over these matters during a briefing on Thursday.

In a separate, if related issue earlier in the week, Sessions issued a decision, attempting to change decades of U.S. immigration policy regarding asylum claims by immigrants fleeing their home countries on the basis of domestic abuse and gang violence.

We're joined today by KAREN MUSALO, Professor of Law and the Director of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies at the University of California Hastings College of Law to discuss the Administration's new policy. Musalo represents "A.B.", the El Salvadoran woman whose grant of asylum by the U.S. Immigration Board of Appeals was unilaterally overturned by Sessions on Monday, along with his announcement of the Administration's cruel new policy which declares that domestic abuse will no longer be an allowable basis for asylum seekers.

The longtime immigration rights attorney pushes back today, detailing the disturbing circumstances under which her client, Ms. A.B., fled her home country, explaining several poorly understood aspects of the U.S. Immigration Court system (which is part of the Dept. of Justice, not the federal Judicial branch --- so, judges work for Sessions), and stressing that the Attorney General is misinforming the public by claiming that asylum seekers fleeing domestic violence will no longer be allowed in the country.

"Clearly what the Attorney General is trying to do with issuing this decision is to send a strong message that cases of women fleeing domestic violence or people fleeing gang violence are not legitimate asylum claims," Musalo tells me. "But for those of us who are experts and understand the law, and read his decision closely --- he may want to send that message, and he did in fact reverse a 2014 precedent that clearly stated that survivors of domestic violence were eligible for asylum --- but there's a whole framework of law that has developed in the 38 years since the 1980 Refugee Act was enacted."

She says: "The reason I'm underscoring that point is that I think he's going to try to bully judges and asylum officers into thinking this is the law, there's no way around it, they should deny these cases --- and also, making lawyers think they shouldn't bring cases on behalf of their clients. So I feel it's very important to point out this is what he's trying to do, but that's not how the law is properly interpreted."

Musalo also stresses that, despite reports of an increase in those seeking asylum from Central America due to domestic abuse since the 2014 change in policy, "The number of claims have not skyrocketed as a result of the Obama Administration recognizing domestic violence as a basis of protection. That's simply not true."

"This has really made people rise up and say, "How can it be in the year 2018 that we have an Attorney General who says that you can send a woman to her death, back to a country where the police and the courts just sit by?," Musalo notes, citing Central American countries like El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras with the "highest homicide rates in the world [and] the highest femicide rates in the world, denoting gender-motivated killings."

There is a lot of important and enlightening information that Musalo imparts today --- more than I can adequately share in a short description here --- so I urge you to listen to the full conversation on today's program.

Finally today, Stephen Colbert, just before Father's Day, had a few thoughts of his own on CBS' Late Show in response to Sessions' use of a bible passage to justify the Administration's cruel and alarming new policy of separating children from their parents at the border. It also should be considered a must-listen...

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

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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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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: Jim Dean of DFA is 'celebrating' after contests in 9 states, but wants 'institutional' Dems to let state voters decide elections; Also: More on polling place failures in L.A. and SD; Huge wins for Dems in NM, MO...
By Brad Friedman on 6/6/2018 6:35pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was a wild ride on Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning, particularly in California, as eight states (CA, AL, IA, MS, MT, NJ, NM and SD) all held their held their mid-term primary elections, along with another special election for MO's state legislature.

Most eyes were on the Golden State Tuesday, as Democrats see as many as seven U.S. House seats currently held by Republicans that they may be able to flip this November. But, thanks to California's "Top Two" or "Jungle Primary" system, where all candidates, from all parties, run in the same primary --- with the top two vote-getters going on to compete in November --- there was a very real chance that Dems could have been shut out of some of those flippable races altogether, due to the sheer number of Democrats on yesterday's ballot. That bullet appears to have been dodged, so far. As of Wednesday afternoon, it appears that Dems will place in the two top in each of those races, though votes are still being tallied across the state, and a number of Election Day concerns have muddied some of the water.

One such concern is the more than 118,000 voters whose names were left off of the printed voter rosters at the polls in Los Angeles County, due to a "printing error". Though voters were all supposed to have been given provisional ballots if their names did not appear, the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which leads the national Election Protection coalition, reported in a statement last night that "many were not".

Meanwhile, in the northern part of the state, it was a failure of electronic pollbooks in CA's San Mateo County that forced some voters to cast hand-marked paper provisional ballots (arguably better than the county's 100% unverifiable electronic voting system, however!) And a similar failure of computerized e-pollbooks from a private vendor in eight different South Dakota counties also jeopardized that state's election on Tuesday.

We're joined today by JIM DEAN, longtime chair of Democracy for America (DFA), which has has been fighting to build a broad, progressive grassroots coalition since Dean's brother Howard famously ran for the Democratic Presidential nomination back in 2004. Dean, whose DFA-endorsed candidates won some and lost some on Tuesday, excoriates the national, "institutional" Democratic Party for meddling in state primaries, including in CA, where, he argues, voters, not the party, should be allowed to decide who will run in November.

"If we aren't good enough to expand the electorate in these districts, to have enough support so that one of the Democratic candidates is going to survive this top two 'jungle primary' system --- if we're not good enough to do that, then it doesn't matter whether they engineer a Democratic second place finisher or not," he contends.

He also suggests that this week's primaries in CA, may signal that it's time to end the state's "experiment" with the Top Two system, while otherwise observing that Tuesday, overall, was a very good day for Democrats and progressives alike. Dean tells me he is "celebrating" the "plethora of candidates that are out there running and putting themselves out" in response to the nation's "little Fort Sumter moment in 2016."

We also discuss what effect the 2nd place finish by Republican businessman John Cox to take on Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom in the Gubernatorial race this November in CA is likely to have on Dems chances of flipping several House seats from "red" to "blue" and how the U.S. Senate contest between two Democrats, Sen. Diane Feinstein and the more progressive (DFA-endorsed) second-place finisher, state Senate President Kevin de León, might effect voter turnout across the state as well.

As to the party's national message, such that there is one to date, Dean believes the candidates who are running this year will force the party in the right direction. "Last year, canvassers were being told not to talk to voters about immigration and gun control," he says. "It's time for us to start standing up. The thing that is so great about these candidates, they're pushing this out. You may not agree with their positions, but they are pushing this stuff out. We are having a lot of progressive positions that do have traction. $15 an hour is another one. Medicare For All. A lot of things are going to come out in the primary process, and we just have to make sure the leadership doesn't buckle that down" as they have in years past.

"I think the candidates are going to change that. I'm confident their aggressive style is going to force the leadership to actually say what they're for, and not say 'you gotta vote for us because the other guy's really bad', which is not a winning message."

There was more good news elsewhere for Democrats and progressives on Tuesday, including in New Mexico where Debra Haaland now appears poised to become the first Native American woman ever in the U.S. House after winning her primary. And progressive grassroots upstart Susan Herrera unseated a long-serving, rightwing corporatist Democrat in the state's House of Representatives, making reform in NM for things like automatic voter registration and gun safety legislation now much more likely. There is no Republican running against her for the seat this fall.

Finally, in Missouri, Democrat Lauren Arthur won a special election for the state Senate, in a district that has been held by Republicans for more than a decade. Her whopping 19-point victory (a nearly 25-point swing since Trump won the district by 5 points in 2016), appears to be freaking out many Republicans in MO and elsewhere, who worry about the potential "blue wave" that Dems hope to see crashing ashore this November...

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...

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Guest: ACLU Ohio legal director Freda Levenson: Also: Hurricane Maria 70x more deadly than believed and 2018 storm season already deadly...
By Brad Friedman on 5/29/2018 6:19pm PT  

Among the stories covered on today's post-Memorial Day weekend BradCast. [Audio link to show is posted below]...

First up, some accountability news. Missouri Governor Eric Greitens (R) finally announces his resignation, after two separate indictments (one related to allegedly blackmailing a woman he has admitted to having had an affair with, and the other for unlawfully using a veterans charity contact list during his 2016 run for Governor) and after the GOP-majority legislature convened an historic special session to consider his impeachment.

Also, hit ABC sitcom reboot Roseanne is cancelled just hours after its titular star tweeted a racist comment about a longtime friend and adviser to former President Obama.

Then, why at least some of Trump's obnoxious, inaccurate, and sometimes dangerous tweets actually matter (as much as we try to avoid them). A new poll finds alarming numbers of Republicans (and, yes, Democrats!) actually buy the President's evidence-free claims that as many as 5 million fraudulent votes were cast in the 2016 Presidential election, as his new --- and similarly evidence-free --- tweets targeting Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe now claim the investigation is "rigged" and is meant for "MEDDLING with the mid-term elections now that Republicans...are taking the lead in Polls".

In fact, while there is no evidence that Mueller's probe is "rigged" or that he is "meddling" in the mid-terms, Republicans are now said to be nearly tied or even taking the lead in some generic U.S. House polling on the heels of Trump's increasingly strident and inaccurate Twitter torrent. (Here, however, is a more skeptical look at those numbers.)

Nonetheless, many Democrats still seem very confident that a "blue wave" is in the making to flip one or both chambers of Congress from GOP control this November in response to Trump, as suggested by a surge in Democratic turnout during the 2018 primaries. It should be noted, however, that there are also signs that GOP turnout is increasing as well.

All of that is before the usual GOP voter suppression kicks into high gear. To that end today, the lawsuits have begun already. Last week, a suit was filed by the League of Women Voters and others against Florida's Republican Gov. Rick Scott and his hand-picked Sec. of State Ken Detzner's refusal to allow early voting centers at public universities.

And, in Ohio, the ACLU has now filed suit against the state's Republican drawn U.S. House districts, charging that the maps, drawn up in secret by the national GOP after the 2010 Census, violate the U.S. Constitution as an extreme partisan gerrymander.

We're joined by ACLU Ohio's Legal Director FREDA LEVENSON, who explains the case, why it's taken so long to be filed after resulting in 12 GOP U.S. House members to the Democrats' 4 over each of the last three elections in the swing-state, and how related cases from other states, now pending decisions at the U.S. Supreme Court, may effect this one.

Levenson also updates us on another case awaiting a decision any day from SCOTUS, regarding Ohio Sec. of State Jon Husted (R)'s attempt to purge voters from the roles after failing to vote in two consecutive federal elections. She explains why the ACLU sees that as a violation of the National Voter Registration Act (NRVA) and how SCOTUS' ultimate decision in this case could result in similar mass voter purges being carried out in states across the country.

Finally today, a new scientific study finds that some 5,000 Puerto Ricans may have been killed by Hurricane Maria, rather than the 64 officially attributed to it, and Desi Doyen joins us with troubling details on deadly storms and flooding in Maryland and North Carolina over the holiday weekend, as subtropical storm Alberto, the first named storm of the new Atlantic hurricane season, rolls ashore days before the new season even officially begins...

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Guest: Howie Klein of 'Down With Tyranny', BlueAmericaPAC helps us round up the good, bad, and ugly...
By Brad Friedman on 5/23/2018 5:59pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Primary elections for the crucial 2018 mid-terms were held on Tuesday in Georgia, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Texas (which held their primary runoffs following the first round of voting back in early March.) That, as hopes for a massive "blue wave" this fall could be fading, at least according to some new polling. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The results, as reported as of today, present a mixed bad for progressive Democrats who performed well in key races for Governor in Georgia (Stacey Abrams became the first female nominee in the state from either major party, and would be the nation's first African-American Governor, if she wins in November), and for the U.S. House in an upset win against the national Democrats' preferred candidate in Kentucky (Marine vet Amy McGrath defeated the DCCC-recruited, conservative Blue Dog Democrat Jim Gray, Mayor of Lexington).

The news was less good for progressives, if better for establishment Democratic candidates, in several of the Texas runoffs, where turnout was as low as it's been in nearly a century.

But it was, once again, another good day for female, minority and LGBTQ candidates in several races in all four states. (In Texas, Lupe Valdez, the former Dallas Sheriff became the first openly gay, Latina nominee for Governor, and Gina Ortiz Jones in the 23rd Congressional District, would become the first lesbian, first Iraq War vet and first Filipina-American to represent Texas in the U.S. House if she wins in the fall.)

Longtime progressive champion HOWIE KLEIN, co-founder of BlueAmericaPAC and creator of the "Down with Tyranny!" blog, joins us to help make sense of the good news and bad from a number of Tuesday's closely watched races, and offers a preview for several important contests in California's upcoming June 5th mid-term primaries.

Also today, we detail some of the good and bad news for Republicans, in Kentucky, where a high school math teacher unseated the state's current state House majority leader and particularly in Texas, where the GOP establishment seems to have held off most of the more extreme rightwing candidates in the run-offs, including one proudly racist, Christian homophobe in Dallas...

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Guest: Constitutional law expert Ian Millhiser on why Justice Alito's ruling on sports gambling is bad news for Trump's 'sanctuary city' crackdown...
By Brad Friedman on 5/16/2018 6:18pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we've got a bunch of mostly encouraging news today for a happy change --- particularly for progressives, women, and women progressives! [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, the least encouraging part of today's program, as some voters in Pennsylvania were once again prevented from voting when 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems at a York County precinct failed for the first hour of polling during Tuesday's statewide mid-term primaries. With just 10 --- that's right, just 10 --- emergency paper ballots on hand for each party, voters were turned away because the electronic voting systems failed. That completely predictable problem (which we've been warning about for well over a decade now), may well get even worse around the country, as states adopt new voting systems with the same problems, under the deceptive premise that they produce "paper ballots".

Other than that, the news was largely good for progressives (and bad for Congressional Republicans) following Tuesday's primaries in Oregon, Idaho, Nebraska and, of course, Pennsylvania, where Democrats hope to pick up as many as 6 seats from Republicans in their bid to retake the U.S. House this November. The news was particularly good for female candidates in PA and elsewhere, and for progressives who won in a number of places against candidates preferred by the national Democratic party.

We detail the key races and upsets in question, some of which will be pose an interesting test for progressives this fall, who have long argued that bolder progressive candidates --- calling for universal health care for all, higher wages and other progressive priorities --- will perform better in general elections than so-called "Republican lite" candidates. We'll see if they're right in just under six months.

Then, we're joined by Constitutional law expert and author IAN MILLHISER, to discuss the stolen U.S. Supreme Court's ruling this week striking down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), a 1992 federal ban on sports betting in, largely, all states other than Nevada. But, the reason why the finding in the case (Murphy v. NCAA) is of note to progressives is not due to the specific issue of sports gambling, as he argues, but what it likely means for other federalism issues, such as the Trump Administration's attempted immigration crackdown on so-called "sanctuary cities".

Millhiser explains why progressives should be very happy about the Court's ruling this week --- even with the majority opinion written by far-right Justice Samuel Alito --- and why the Court unanimously found the law to be an unconstitutional "commandeering" of state's rights.

While the holding in that case may be bad news for Trump, so is another decision from a lower federal court this week. Millhiser also details a federal judge's ruling on Tuesday knocking down an attempt by Paul Manafort, Trump's indicted former campaign chair, to toss one of the two criminal cases filed against him by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Finally today, a bit more on Tuesday's primaries in Idaho, where a progressive female Democrat became the first native America woman to win the party's nomination for Governor, defeating the national Democrats' preferred candidate in a race seen as a long-shot for this fall. But, in a nation where thousands of teachers in yet another so-called "red" state (North Carolina) on Wednesday shut down schools to march in support of higher pay and more money for schools, anything may now be possible...if voters get out to the polls, are allowed to vote, and are able to make sure their votes are counted as cast this November...

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Guest-host Angie Coiro with Trita Parsi, Brad Adams, Daphne Eviatar, Elena Saxonhouse...
By Angie Coiro on 5/10/2018 7:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast, Trita Parsi helps us make sense of the Israel/Syria attacks. I'm Angie Coiro of In Deep sitting in the host chair today.

Trita Parsi from the National Iranian American Council helps us get through the "they started it" claims around yesterday's attacks. We spend some time deconstructing media reports and voices on the issue. He talks, too, about the Americans still held hostage in Iran, and potential long-term consequences of Trump pulling out of the nuclear agreement.

Then Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch talks about the release of American hostages from North Korea. I ask him about Israel kicking a Human Rights Watch employee out, based on his support of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Then it's back to Gina Haspel, as more news came out today about inaccuracies in her Senate testimony. Daphne Eviatar of Amnesty International details Amnesty's call for Haspel's CIA bid to be rejected.

Finally, we dig to the source of all those troublesome Scott Pruitt emails with Elena Saxonhouse, senior attorney with the Sierra Club. It was the Sierra Club's dogged insistence on getting 24,000 pages of emails that opened up all those tales.

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Officials still underestimating election threats; MO GOP lawmakers move to impeach GOP Governor; Even Fox 'News' discovers Trump is wildly corrupt; Disasters in Hawaii and Louisiana...
By Brad Friedman on 5/4/2018 6:25pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Another reminder that the nation's elections officials remain woefully unprepared for and under-informed about threats to this year's crucial mid-term elections, and clear examples of where our governmental institutions currently work to combat blatant corruption by top officials (Missouri) and where they don't (D.C.).

First up, an election night cyberattack in Knox County, Tennessee's local primaries on Tuesday should have officials there (and elsewhere) far more concerned than they appear to be. We discuss why this latest attack echoes similar incidents we've seen previously (including at the end of election night during the 2004 Presidential election in Ohio), why such attacks are likely to become more frequent, and how election and cyber-security officials continue to woefully underestimate and misunderstand the very real dangers to our elections when they (falsely) tell the public, as they are doing in Knox County this week, that their computerized voting, registration and tabulation systems are "never connected to the Internet, so can't be hacked." They are wrong.

Next, Missouri's Republican governor Eric Greitens is now facing three different felony charges, two separate court trials, and the GOP-majority state legislature has now overwhelmingly decided to call a special session to consider impeachment. Greitens maintains his innocence in both a sexual blackmail scandal and campaign finance scandal. We explain why the extraordinary historical moment --- despite the Show-Me State's Governor refusal to resign, echoing Donald Trump in calling the well-documented evidence against him the result of a "witch hunt" by prosecutors (and his own party?) --- is actually, at least so far, an example of how the system is supposed to work.

Contrast that to the quickly devolving mess in D.C. today, where Republicans in the House and Senate who ought to be demanding accountability from a corrupt President, are looking the other way and/or undermining prosecutors, and where prosecutors seem to (falsely) suggest they cannot indict a sitting President, no matter the evidence of serious crimes. That, even as whatever credibility this Administration may have once had, has now disintegrated so much amidst Trump's latest flip-flops on a number of scandals, that even one top Fox "News" anchor unloaded on the President on Thursday, with an astonishing smack down of Trump lies, which ends: "I guess you’re too busy draining the swamp to ever stop and smell the stink you’re creating. That’s your stink. Mr. President, that’s your swamp." When you've lost Neil Cavuto...

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us with an update on the evacuations, earthquakes and new eruptions near Hawaii's Kilauea volcano and on the state's recent deluge (50 inches in 24 hours!) of global warming-related rain. As well as another explosion, massive fire and evacuations --- the third within the past month --- at a fossil fuel-related processing plant, this time in Louisiana...

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PROGRAMMING NOTE: Desi and I are standing down for a much-needed week off, but In Deep Radio's Angie Coiro will be filling in for us on The BradCast next week! Be nice to her! And please click here to help us fill up our Prius tank! Thanks!

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Guests: AUDIT USA election expert John Brakey, attorney Chris Sautter...
By Brad Friedman on 5/3/2018 6:30pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Rudy Giuliani works his magic as he settles in as the newest attorney on Donald Trump's personal legal defense team --- and it appears to have exploded spectacularly. And Ohio's Sec. of State and two largest counties are slapped with an election transparency lawsuit just days before next Tuesday's primary in the Buckeye State. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up: On Wednesday night, the former NYC Mayor stunned Sean Hannity of Fox "News" when he told him on air that Trump reimbursed his embattled "fixer" and personal lawyer Michael Cohen for the $130,000 in hush money paid to Stormy Daniels just days before the 2016 Presidential election. The payment, which Trump had long denied making himself, was meant to cover up an alleged affair Trump had with the porn star. Then, on Thursday morning, Giuliani dug the hole deeper by making clear, once again on Fox "News", that the payment was meant to protect Trump's candidacy.

All of which means that Trump is likely in even more --- and perhaps even criminal --- trouble, regarding serious campaign finance violations which Giuliani seems to have thought he was helping Trump avoid. We discuss and try to clarify the President's newly revealed legal peril on that front today, even as Trump (or his attorneys) took to Twitter to reverse his own previous denials by admitting that he did, in fact, reimburse Cohen for the payments to Daniels.

As Politico's Jack Shafer wryly tweeted today: "Having Giuliani in the mix is almost like having a second Trump."

Then, as we try to stay focused amidst all the noise, we're joined by election transparency expert JOHN BRAKEY and longtime election attorney CHRIS SAUTTER, both of Americans United for Democracy, Integrity and Transparency in Elections (AUDIT USA) about their lawsuit just filed in Ohio in advance of the state's 2018 mid-term primary next Tuesday.

The suit echoes a similar one filed last December in Alabama before that state's much-watched U.S. Senate Special Election between Democrat Doug Jones and Republican Roy Moore. (That suit was successful in a lower court, before the state's woeful Sec. of State John Merrill convinced their Supreme Court to stay the ruling at the last minute.) The new complaint seeks to force Ohio's Secretary of State Jon Husted and its two most-populous counties, Cuyahoga (Cleveland) and Franklin (Columbus), to retain digital ballot images created by the counties' computer scanners as hand-marked paper ballots are initially scanned during tabulation.

Those images, as Brakey explains, allow the public to safely examine the accuracy of election results without disturbing the original paper ballots and, according to Sautter (and several court rulings in other states), complies with federal election law requiring the retention of all election materials for 22 months after federal elections.

The pair detail why preventing the destruction of the images in question is at the center of the multi-partisan suit filed in Ohio, and why they plan to continue pressing election officials in Ohio and in many other states and counties around the country to ensure that digital ballot scanners are set to retain all such images for public oversight after Election Day.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with still more bad news for corrupt EPA chief Scott Pruitt and for the planet itself, but also with a bit of good news for NYC, Hawaii, and even one of China's major cities...

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Teachers walk out in AZ, CO; Cosby found guilty; GOP Senate majority threatened; Pompeo confirmed as Sec. of State; Jackson withdraws as VA nom; EPA's Pruitt ducks responsibility in House; Macron slams Trump...
By Brad Friedman on 4/26/2018 6:38pm PT  

At long last, we're beginning to see shades, shadows, clouds of accountability rolling in across D.C. and even elsewhere in the country. Many of those clouds seemed to roll in all at once today for some reason, but we cover as many as we can on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

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

  • Huge explosions, a raging fire, and 10-mile evacuations at another oil refinery today, this time in Wisconsin;
  • Bill Cosby is found guilty on three felony counts of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman and now faces the rest of his life in prison;
  • Tens of thousands of teachers walked out in Arizona and Colorado on Thursday, demanding increased funding for education after years of slashed state budgets to help pay for tax cuts to the rich and corporations;
  • A spate of new polling suggest Senate Republicans may face a storm of accountability this November, with encouraging numbers for Democratic candidates in at least three different states --- Arizona, Tennessee and Nevada --- where they hope to flip "red" seats to "blue" to regain majority control of the upper chamber of Congress this fall. (And also in a fourth state, if you include Texas, where Sen. Ted Cruz' challenger Rep. Beto O'Rourke is now within "too close to call" striking distance, according to new polling, even as the Democrat is refusing corporate and super PAC funding, even from billionaire Tom Steyer);
  • No accountability to date, however, for the anti-gay, anti-Muslim, anti-environment, pro-war CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who was narrowly confirmed in the U.S. Senate today as Donald Trump's new Secretary of State;
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to approve a bi-partisan bill to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller from being fired by Trump, though obstructionism from GOP leadership in the full Senate and U.S. House will likely prevent the legislation from going any further;
  • Admiral Ronny Jackson, Trump's personal White House physician and his nominee to head the Dept. of Veterans Affairs finally withdrew his name from consideration following a host of damning allegations from current and former White House and military co-workers unearthed by Sen. Jon Tester (MT), the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee;
  • Trump's wildly corrupt and scandal-plagued EPA chief Scott Pruitt finally faced a bit of accountability, at least from Dems, as he testified before two separate House Committees on Thursday and refused to answer many direct questions, threw much of his staff under the bus, and denied responsibility for the mountain of personal corruption scandals he continues to face --- even as bi-partisan calls for his resignation continue;
  • And, finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with more on Pruitt's anti-climate perfidy, French President Emmanuel Macron's blistering swipes at President Trump's environmental record during a joint session of Congress, and much more.

Yes, it was another insanely busy news day, but we gotcha covered, in one fast moving hour today. Buckle up!...

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P.S. We will be off tomorrow, but don't panic! We're back on Monday, as usual!

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Also: Mick Mulvaney's stunning admission and Mother Jones' Rebecca Leber on Scott Pruitt's new 'secret science' scam at EPA...
By Brad Friedman on 4/25/2018 6:23pm PT  

On today's BradCast: More encouraging signs for Democrats following special elections in both Arizona and New York on Tuesday. And more troubling news from Donald Trump's never-ending cavalcade of corporate cabinet corruption. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

All signs suggest that a potential Blue Wave continues to build for Democrats in the Trump Era, even as the party reportedly lost a U.S. House special election in the very "red" 8th Congressional District west of Phoenix on Tuesday. After Maricopa County, AZ's new, even-more computerized polling place election system broke down in several precincts --- a potentially ominous sign for the much-larger, upcoming mid-terms --- former Republican State Senator Debbie Lesko is said to have defeated first time Democratic candidate Dr. Hiral Tipirneni by just 5 points, in a district that Trump won by 21 points in 2016.

The previously deep "red" House district in a longtime "red" state, had been represented for some 15 years by GOP Rep. Trent Franks, until he stepped down amid sexual misconduct allegations last December. While the Dems narrowly lost the race on Tuesday, thanks in part to big spending by national Republicans (and none by national Dems), election analysts regard the stunning 15+ point swing from "red" to "blue" as one of the strongest signs to date that Republicans in the House and Senate may be in very big trouble this fall.

Similarly, in New York, special elections on Tuesday for several state legislative seats resulted in one Assembly seat flipping from R to D for the first time in four decades, and in Democrats winning a majority of seats in the state Senate for the first time in years. However, one Democrat who caucuses with Republicans in that chamber means that the GOP will remain in control of the Senate until at least the end of the current session.

Meanwhile, back in D.C., Donald Trump's swamp of corruption continues apace. Interim Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Mick Mulvaney reportedly told a crowd of some 1,300 banking executives and lobbyists yesterday that they need to keep donating to the GOP if they wanted still more regulations gutted and oversight trashed. He appears to have admitted --- out loud --- that as a Congressman, he would only consider meeting with lobbyists who had donated to him. (And, many in the financial sector, which the CFPB was mandated to regulate on behalf of consumers after the 2008 global banking crisis, did exactly that during Mulvaney 's time as a House Rep. from South Carolina.)

But it's scandal-plagued Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt who seemingly continues to lead the corruption cavalcade in Trump's corporatized Executive Agency lagoon. Pruitt is not letting the mountain of scandals, corruption revelations and calls for his resignation stop him from doing the bidding of his fossil fuel industry funders at the EPA.

In a ceremony for fellow climate science deniers on Tuesday night, ironically trumpeting a supposed new era of EPA "transparency" as media and scientists were locked out of the event, Pruitt signed a proposed new rule barring what he describes as the use of "secret science" in the EPA rule-making process.

We're joined today by Mother Jones' environmental reporter REBECCA LEBER to discuss what the anti-science Pruitt actually means by that, what this deceptive new rule would actually do if finalized, and why, as she argues, this scheme may be his "most destructive move yet".

"What Pruitt has done here is propose limiting the studies that the EPA can use in crafting regulations. Those studies would have to have data that is publicly available --- which sounds great on its face. Who doesn't want more transparency? But there is a lot of complications here that effectively limit the pool drastically and really could conceivably cut out our best available science showing that air pollution and water pollution is a health problem," Leber tells me. "That's because these studies typically rely on medical records that are, by law, forced to be private and also may include proprietary information that academic institutions and even industry don't want to be public."

Nonetheless, hiding behind false claims of "transparency" in science, Pruitt is now hoping to severely restrict the use of science and, in fact, rewriting decades-old rules for the use of science itself in public government. No wonder Trump prefers not to fire him, as Leber explains, no matter how wildly corrupt Pruitt is actually proven to be...

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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...

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

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...and many more otherworldly reminders of the importance of elections...
By Brad Friedman on 4/19/2018 6:30pm PT  

Several stories --- pretty much all of them --- on today's BradCast, serve as trenchant reminders of the importance of elections, particularly with majority control of the U.S. Senate now hanging in the balance in this November's mid-terms. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the stories both covered and elucidated upon today...

  • Former prosecutor and New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani joins Donald Trump's legal defense team hoping to "negotiate an end" to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Team Trump;
  • After a months-long struggle on Thursday, the U.S. Senate barely managed to confirm the wholly unqualified Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK, pictured above), a long-time, wildly partisan, non-scientist climate science denier to head NASA, the $20 billion federal agency which, among other things, tracks key climate change-related data for the world;
  • Vulnerable Democratic U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota announces she will vote in favor of Trump's nominee for Secretary of State, CIA Director Mike Pompeo (also a climate denier), seemingly all but assuring Pompeo's otherwise still-troubled confirmation process;
  • GOP "voter fraud" fraudster, Kansas Sec. of State and gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach is held in contempt of federal court for a second time, receiving an humiliating drubbing from a George W. Bush-appointed federal judge for repeatedly and "disingenuously" misleading the court in a major voter suppression case in the state, affecting tens of thousands of voters;
  • The Republican-controlled state legislature in Arizona attempts a sneaky maneuver to try and prevent voters from filling a vacated U.S. Senate seat for as long as two and a half years, should one occur, as Sen. John McCain battles brain cancer. (They now appear to be backing off the scheme.);
  • And, in Texas, a new poll finds Rep. Beto O'Rourke, the Democratic challenger to Republican Senator Ted Cruz, now within the poll's margin of error to unseat Cruz in what had previously been the very "red" Lone Star State;

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report as power was knocked out again across the entire island of Puerto Rico, more climate liability suits are filed against two more oil companies and the state of Florida, and the world prepares for Earth Day this weekend, with a focus on fighting the pollution scourge of plastic...

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

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