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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, May 20, 2018
Amnesty Intl Is Ready For Haspel; Also: How About A Job?: 'BradCast' 5/17/18
Guest-hosted by Angie Coiro with Daphne Eviatar, Dave Johnson, Robert Sapolsky...
'Green News Report' 5/17/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
EPA's Pruitt, facing 12 probes, grilled in Senate; Extreme storms kill 5 in Northeast; King County, WA files suit against oil companies; PLUS: Air pollution dangers extend into womb...
Previous GNRs: 5/15/18 - 5/3/18 - Archives...
Progressives Primary Wins in OR, NE, ID and PA; And More Good News From SCOTUS: 'BradCast' 5/16/18
Guest: Ian Millhiser on why Alito opinion on sports gambling is bad news for Trump...
Trump's Desperate Gambit for a 'Deal' With North Korea: 'BradCast' 5/15/18
Guest: Former Deputy Asst. Sec. of State Michael Fuchs; Also: Torturer Haspel on verge of confirmation; U.S., Israel isolated at UN...
'Green News Report' 5/15/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
EPA blocking major water contamination report; Global warming intensifying hurricanes; Power co. paid actors to support power plant bid in LA; PLUS: CA adopts landmark solar law...
Previous GNRs: 5/3/18 - 5/1/18 - Archives...
Sunday 'Don't Torture Mother' Toons
Celebrate mom with another festive weekly collection of political cartoons from 'PDiddie'...
Punching Bags Michael Cohen and John McCain:
'BradCast' 5/11/18
Guest-host Angie Coiro with guest Sally Kohn on 'The Opposite of Hate'...
Kim Jong Un is Good People!: 'BradCast' 5/10/18
Guest-host Angie Coiro with Trita Parsi, Brad Adams, Daphne Eviatar, Elena Saxonhouse...
O Gina, O Michael, O Voters!:
'BradCast' 5/9/18
Guest-host Angie Coiro with guests Marcy Wheeler, Jed Shugerman, Beth Becker, Deborah Rhode...
Trumping Iran: The Howl Heard 'Round the World: 'BradCast' 5/8/18
Guest-host Angie Coiro with Trita Parsi, Julie Lythcott-Hamis...
Childish Gambino:
The Opposite of Trump: 'BradCast' 5/7/18
Guest-host Angie Coiro with authors Morgan Jerkins and Dave Neiwert...
Sunday 'Hush Money' Toons
Trump's new attorney Rudy Giuliani is doing a bang-up job so far, as documented by the cartoonists featured in PDiddie's latest collection...
Tennessee's Election Night Cyberattack; Swamp Things: 'BradCast' 5/4/18
Officials still underestimating election threats; MO lawmakers move to impeach GOP Guv; Even Fox discovers Trump wildly corrupt; New disasters in HI, LA...
'Green News Report' 5/3/18
17 states sue Trump EPA over fuel standards; Still more ethics probs for EPA's Pruitt; All-time heat record for April; PLUS: Russia's floating nuke plant to Arctic...
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: Heather Digby Parton of Salon and Hullabaloo...
By Brad Friedman on 4/10/2018 6:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It is "a very dangerous time", as longtime White House reporter and historian Paul Brandus may have understated last night. "Objectively speaking," he observed in a "difficult to write" tweet, he has "never seen, or known of, a President as unhinged and unstable as" Donald Trump appeared during remarks at the White House before his Monday meeting with his military team.

On Monday evening, following FBI raids on the office and residences of his personal attorney Michael Cohen, President Trump lashed out at law enforcement, calling the court-approved searches "disgraceful", "an attack on our country", and falsely claimed that the search warrant approved by a federal judge and the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan, amounted to a "break in". Trump's remarks also included musings about the possibility of firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose office is said to have shared information with the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, leading to yesterday's raids.

Trump's friend, attorney and business partner Cohen is currently embroiled in the scandal involving a $130,000 hush money payoff to porn star Stormy Daniels, made just days before the 2016 election. The lawful raid, however, which may involve far more serious crimes, comes at a particularly precarious moment.

On Tuesday --- one day after Trump's new and extraordinarily hawkish National Security Advisor John Bolton's first day on the job --- longtime White House Homeland Security Advisor, Tom Bossert, was abruptly fired. His dismissal came after Bossert, while making clear that all options were on the table, had argued in favor of Trump's recent position on Syria over the weekend, in opposition to increased U.S. military action in the war-torn nation. But, after a recent chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma, Trump has now cancelled a scheduled trip to Latin America and appears to be readying military action against the sovereign nation --- a close ally of both Russia and Iran --- even without authorization from Congress. Such action would likely, at a minimum, mirror the missile attack Trump unleashed on a Syrian airbase last year, which both Congressional Republicans and Democrats lauded at the time, even though Republicans had threatened President Obama with the possibility of impeachment when he considered doing the very same thing during his term in office. This time, however, the action could be much larger, more deadly, and far more dangerous for the region and the U.S.

At the same time, nobody seems to be certain as to exactly why Cohen was raided in the first place. Speculation ranges from the Stormy Daniels affair, to bank and wire fraud, to alleged schemes and payouts from Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs, to Cohen's taxi business in New York.

We're joined today by the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo blog, to try and make sense of all of the above. Wish us luck. "It's like there's this unharmonic convergence happening with all this news," she tells me. "I don't know what it is, but it's not good."

"In this situation, when you've got Syria there and Trump under the gun, feeling Robert Mueller breathing down his neck, this is something that a guy like Bolton --- if he is smart enough to suss that out about Trump, and I have a suspicion that he might be --- he could be feeding that into Trump and we're going to see some kind of --- what do they call it these days? --- 'kinetic violence'. That's another word for war," she says.

We've got a lot to discuss about all of this on today's show with 'Digby', including what is likely to happen if (when) Trump moves to fire Mueller, as well as how this entire long national nightmare may finally end.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as the scandals involving EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt continue to mount, and with some good news, once again, for pipeline protesters, this time in Canada, but more bad water news for Michigan. Also, we've got a bit some more late-breaking Pruitt/EPA news, as well...

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

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Also: Man dies in Trump Tower blaze; Good news for voters in MD, CA...
By Brad Friedman on 4/9/2018 6:10pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A lot of breaking news, accompanied by some actual Donald Trump 'fire and fury' today and callers who ring in on all of it. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

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

  • The legal offices and residences of Donald Trump's personal friend, business partner, attorney and "fixer" Michael Cohen were raided by the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan today just before airtime. Cohen's attorney claims some of the information used to obtain the warrant came from Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe. Cohen has recently come under legal scrutiny for his part in a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels to keep an affair between her and Trump quiet just before the 2016 election. Trump is said to be furious, and described the investigation as "disgraceful" and "an attack on our country" after news of the FBI raid on Cohen's office became public on Monday.
  • That comes after a longtime tenant died in a massive four-alarm blaze on the 50th floor of Trump Tower in Manhattan over the weekend, following Trump having reportedly spent years fighting against requirements for mandatory fire sprinklers on the residential floors of his namesake tower and headquarters of the Trump Organization.
  • Also today, some good news (and bad) for voters. In Maryland, the state's Republican Governor allowed a bill for automatic voter registration to becoome law without his signature.
  • California announced it has now had 100,000 16- and 17-year olds pre-register to vote, after a 2016 state law was enacted to allow for early registration by teens. A flurry of those pre-registrations, according to CA Sec. of State Alex Padilla, have reportedly come in the wake of the 'March for Our Lives' activism by the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, following the February gun massacre at their school.
  • And, speaking of elections and the Sunshine State, Republican Gov. Rick Scott announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate on Monday, in his long-expected bid to unseat incumbent Democratic Senator Bill Nelson. The race is expected to be one of the most expensive U.S. Senate races in the nation's history.
  • Scott's announcement comes just days after he appealed a ruling by a federal judge ordering him to reform the state's procedures for restoring voting rights to some 1.5 million former felons. Scott has slow-walked the clemency process for years, since taking office, leaving some 10% of the state's voting-age population (and nearly a quarter of the state's African Americans) off the rolls and unable to participate in elections in the closely divided swing-state.

Listeners ring in with calls on all of that news today and more!...

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: Ari Berman of Mother Jones; Also: Trump's legal woes worsen...
By Brad Friedman on 3/28/2018 6:35pm PT  

Lots of breaking news on today's BradCast, and a look at the real reasons the Trump Administration has now added a new question on citizenship to the 2020 U.S. Census. But, don't worry. It all ends with a song! [Audio link to today's show follows below.]

First up: the never-ending Executive Branch shakeup continues as Trump fires embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and announces his intention to replace him with White House physician Ronny Jackson.

Then, Trump's never-ending legal woes continue to quickly mount and worsen on several fronts beyond the Special Counsel probe (where he is still having trouble finding attorneys willing to represent him, after his latest lead attorney quit last week.) Porn star Stormy Daniel's has now added a defamation charge against Trump business partner and lawyer Michael Cohen, to her civil suit against the President, and is now seeking to depose both Cohen and the President under oath.

That, on the same day a federal judge in D.C. allowed a case filed by Maryland and the District of Columbia against Trump to move forward based on claims that the President's continued ownership of the Trump International Hotel in D.C. violates the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution, barring gifts from states and foreign nations.

Up in Wisconsin, in the meantime, the GOP received its second rebuke from a state court in less than a week, for attempting to avoid calling Special Elections for two vacant seats in the state Senate. Gov. Scott Walker was ordered a second time by the court on Tuesday to call those elections immediately. Republicans in the state legislature, however, were hoping to convene a special session in order to change the law which Walker was found to have violated, as they try to avoid calling the elections in two GOP districts they fear they may lose to Democrats. (An appeals court, later on Wednesday, has now also rejected a motion to overturn the initial ruling.)

Then, we're joined by Mother Jones' Senior Reporter ARI BERMAN to discuss the GOP's war on judges who find against them, and the Commerce Dept. Secretary Wilbur Ross' approval this week of a new, last-minute, untested question on citizenship, to be added, by request of the Dept. of Justice, to the 2020 U.S. Census.

Critics, including the last five directors of the U.S. Census Bureau among others, charge the question will unlawfully depress responses to the Constitutionally-mandated decennial survey of all U.S. residents (whether they are citizens or not), as Berman reports in his new feature article for MoJo.

The DoJ, Commerce and White House all falsely claim that the new question is "necessary for the Department of Justice to protect voters [and] comply with the Voting Rights Act". Berman, author of the recently published Give us the Ballot, the landmark book on the history of the VRA and the long struggle for voting rights in the U.S., scoffs at those claims and details what he sees as the real reasons for the change, and the decade-long effect on the nation that it will have if it is not blocked by the courts. California has already sued to block the question from being included, and more than a dozen other states and advocacy groups are expected to file complaints as well.

On the GOP's war on courts following adverse rulings against them in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, Berman says: "There's a very disturbing trend going on. When Republicans don't like court rulings that constrain their power, they try to nullify those rulings...What I think is so noteworthy about this is that everyone always says how much of an outlier Donald Trump is within the Republican Party. But if you just look at what Republicans are doing, in Wisconsin or North Carolina or Pennsylvania, they're following the Trump playbook, which is if you don't like a law, just ignore it."

On the Census controversy, he tells me: "We are seeing the rigging and corruption of one of the most important, mandated tasks in our Constitution...If you decide to rig the Census, then you've essentially rigged everything that follows" for the next decade. He adds: "The bigger picture here is that a failed Census is going to hurt everybody."

Finally, after a bit more late breaking news on Trump's recently-resigned attorney John Dowd having reportedly floated the possibility of Presidential pardons to two indicted former Trump officials (Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort) in the Special Counsel's Trump/Russia probe, we enjoy a brand-new song written by singer, songwriter and BradCast listener Matt Sircely, attempting to make sense of a mountain of Trump-related scandal in one jaunty country/folk song! (You can download the song for free right here, and check the lyrics you may have missed right here [PDF].)

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: Investigative journalist Jason Leopold; Also: Trump expels Russian diplomats; Fox 'News' lawyers won't join Trump legal team after all; 'March for Our Lives'; Callers on all of the above...
By Brad Friedman on 3/26/2018 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The allegation made by adult film actress Stormy Daniels that someone associated with Donald Trump physically threatened her, appears to track quite well with decades of similar allegations made by those who Trump, at one point, believed to have cross him. [Audio link to today's show follows below.]

During her 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper on Sunday night, adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, a.k.a. Stormy Daniels, claimed she was physically threatened in 2011 in a Las Vegas parking lot, in front of her young daughter, by someone warning her to not to speak publicly about the sexual tryst she says she had with Donald Trump back in 2006. Immediately after the interview aired, an attorney for Michael Cohen (Trump's personal lawyer, fixer, and business partner) sent a "cease and desist" letter to Daniels' attorney, demanding she retract the "false and defamatory" claims made on the program, charging that Cohen "was responsible" in some way for the alleged threat. The attorney charged that Daniels' claims accusing Cohen "of criminal conduct" were "false", "libel[ous]" and "defamatory".

The only problem: Daniels didn't actually tie Cohen to the story about the thug who, she says, threatened her in 2011!

Cohen formed the LLC created to pay $130,000 in hush money to Daniels just weeks before the 2016 Presidential election, though he says he did not do so on behalf of Trump or the Trump Organization, that he was never reimbursed for the payment (which would be a violation of federal campaign finance law, if it was meant to help Trump win the election as Paul S. Ryan of Common Cause told us in January, just after he filed his complaints with the FEC and DoJ), and that, in any event, the tryst between Trump and Daniels never happened at all.

But, whether Daniels' tied Cohen to the alleged 2001 threat or not, it's hardly the first time the Trump Organization --- and Donald Trump specifically --- has been accused of physical threats against his perceived adversaries.

We're joined today by BuzzFeed investigative journalist and renowned "FOIA terrorist" JASON LEOPOLD to discuss three different incidents, revealed via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request documents he obtained from the FBI and other law enforcement agencies last year, detailing physical threats said to have been made against Trump business associates in the 80s, 90s and 2000s.

The details of the three different alleged incidents are chilling, including one terrifying and profane phone threat to an attorney, made on the day Trump's Casino business declared bankruptcy, from a payphone outside the Ed Sullivan Theater on the very same day that Trump was appearing on The Late Show with David Letterman, which is shot there. As Leopold explains, the incidents which he reported on exclusively last year at BuzzFeed, came immediately to mind upon hearing Daniels recount her own frightening tale on 60 Minutes.

Then, we open up the phone lines to hear from listeners on all of the above, as well as a number of other stories that we also cover on today's program, including: Saturday's massive March for Our Lives rallies for gun safety reform, as led by the students of Parkland, Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and supported by Pope Francis; the Trump Administration's announcement that they plan to expel 60 Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of a former Russian intelligence agent in Britain; and the Sunday announcement that, despite reports to the contrary last week, Fox "News" wingnut attorneys Joe diGenova and his wife Victoria Toensing will not, in fact, be joining Trump's personal defense team responding the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller after all (precisely as predicted by Friday's guest on The BradCast, Marcy Wheeler!)...

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: 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...

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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Callers ring in on all of the above and much more today!...
By Brad Friedman on 3/19/2018 6:00pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We have a lot to catch up from over the weekend, and callers with lots of opinions to go with it. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, both a Republican federal court panel and the U.S. Supreme Court both rejected Pennsylvania Republican lawmaker's last ditch attempt to block a new U.S. House map forced upon them by the state Supreme Court in February after the previous map enacted in 2011 was determined to be an unlawful partisan gerrymander in violation of the state's Constitution. Those were the last chances for the state GOP to restore the unlawful maps --- which had given them a 13 to 5 advantage in U.S. House seats over the past three elections --- before the candidate filing deadline for the 2018 primary elections in the largely 50/50 swing-state.

At the same time, voters head to the polls in Illinois on Tuesday for the second primary of the crucial 2018 mid-terms. Among the contested races is a primary challenge by progressive Marie Newman to longtime, very right-wing Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski in IL's 3rd Congressional district. The race is said to be statistically tied, as Lipinski fights for his political life, and as the winner of Tuesday's primary in the very "blue" area of Chicago will likely go on to win in November, since the GOP, literally, has only a proud neo-Nazi running on the ballot for the Republican nomination.

But concerns about Illinois' computerized voting, tabulation and registration system continue to haunt officials and undermine democracy and voter confidence --- justifiably. The state's voter registration system was breached during the 2016 election, and remains wildly vulnerable along with the state's voting and tabulation systems. Despite purported concerns of "Russian interference", little has changed in any of our nation's easily hacked, oft-failed electoral systems following the 2016 election.

Then: On last Friday's show, we noted that nobody in the Trump Admin had yet been fired that day. But, shortly after airtime, FBI Deputy Director and former Acting Director Andrew McCabe was fired just two days shy of receiving his lifetime pension after 21 years of service to the Bureau.

We discuss the reasons he was said to have been fired and the fact that Attorney General Jeff Sessions (who officially fired him) was supposed to have recused himself from the matter. Nonetheless, Donald Trump rejoiced at the news via Twitter --- since McCabe is a witness against Trump's apparent attempted obstruction of justice in the firing of FBI Director James Comey --- before turning his wrath back against Comey and, for the first time on Twitter, Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Is a newly emboldened Trump preparing again to fire Mueller? If he does, will Congressional Republicans do anything to block him? And what, for that matter, will the American people do --- if anything --- in response to what many (over-confidently) believe would be a Constitutional crisis? We open the phone lines to talk about all of that and much more on today's BradCast!...

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CIA nominee oversaw unlawful waterboarding, destruction of evidence at U.S. secret prison; Also: Trump brags about lying to allies; More good 2018 news for Dems; Rep. Louise Slaughter RIP...
By Brad Friedman on 3/16/2018 6:16pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Don't be confused. Donald Trump has vowed "to bring back waterboarding and a hell of a lot worse", and he has now nominated someone to become CIA Director who has actually overseen such torture. [Audio link to show follows below.]

A noteworthy correction published by ProPublica on Thursday night, to an article they published last year, does not change the fact that Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel, Trump's new nominee to become the next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, personally oversaw the torture of U.S. held prisoners at a secret prison ("black site") in Thailand in 2002, and then directed the destruction of evidence documenting the torture.

To be clear, ProPublica (and others) are standing by their reporting that Haspel ran the prison in question during the torture of terror suspect Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who the U.S. has admitted to torturing by waterboarding him three times at the secret prison. She also reportedly suggested the method used, an industrial shredder, to permanently destroy the video-taped evidence of both his torture and the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah.

Those acts are impermissible under several different torture conventions to which the U.S. --- under the negotiation and urging of no less than President Ronald Reagan --- is a party, and European prosecutors are now reportedly investigating whether Haspel must be arrested for war crimes if she arrives anywhere on European soil.

All of that, as her nomination has returned U.S. torture to an issue of "debate" under this President, who promised, during his 2016 campaign, to "bring back" torture. Of course, leading the way is Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), daughter of the Vice President who set the standard for blatantly lying about modern day U.S. torture following the 9/11 attacks. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), after taking some heat for suggesting she might vote for Haspel's promotion, is now calling for the declassification of documents detailing Haspel's role in these matters, in advance of U.S. Senate confirmation hearings.

Also today, news of Special Counsel Robert Mueller nearing what Trump has described as a 'red line' in his investigation, and growing concerns about what Trump's response to that may soon be. And, a few thoughts on the remarkable matter of the President of the United States bragging to donors this week of how he simply made stuff up while speaking to the Prime Minister of Canada, one of our closest allies and trading partners, about the U.S. trade surplus we have them (which Trump says he described as a "deficit", even though he proudly admits he had no idea.)

Then, very sad news today on the sudden loss of 88-year old progressive Democratic U.S. House "giant" Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York; Some brighter 2018 midterm news for Democrats from the Cook Political Report; and, finally, Republicans are having such a difficult time finding candidates to run for office in Nevada that they are now offering to pay them --- anyone --- to do so...

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U.S. House special election results in PA; Student gun safety walkouts from coast-to-coast; ICE busted as spokesman refuses to lie, steps down...
By Brad Friedman on 3/14/2018 6:22pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was a nail-biter on Tuesday night in the U.S. House Special Election in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District between Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone. And there is much spinning on Wednesday morning. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Lamb has declared victory, (as has the NY Times, while AP still has it as "too close to call") in the district that went to Donald Trump by nearly 20 points in 2016. But Republicans are still holding out hope for a miracle, a "recount" and/or a lawsuit for their candidate who received a full court press from Donald Trump over the past week. That press included a weekend rally with Saccone and new steel tariffs announced by the President just last week, with an eye towards this bellwether race in "Steel Country", just outside of Pittsburgh.

We have full details on where the razor-thin results currently stand (just over 600 votes separate the two candidates, as of air time, in a race with more than 228,000 votes cast) and how such a "recount" would work in the state which still, shamefully, forces the vast majority of its voters to vote on 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems.

No matter the final results, Democrats are ebullient about what this huge "red to blue" swing may bode for their chances of taking back the House in November's crucial 2018 mid-term elections, even as GOPers from PA to Capitol Hill to the White House are offering some pretty remarkable spin in response.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, tens of thousands of students took to the streets from coast-to-coast with a massive school walkout to rally for gun safety legislation one month after the massacre which took the lives of 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The students stood up, even as a cowardly President Trump continues to retreat from earlier promises on reforms, while trying to spin his own personal fears of the powerful gun lobbyists at the NRA.

Then, speaking of failed spin, a spokesman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency resigns in the wake of being asked to lie about claims recently made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump regarding an ICE raid in Northern California

Finally today, as the Administration continues to misrepresent the threat to the U.S. posed by immigrants, three American rightwingers are arrested for the bombing of a Muslim mosque in Minnesota last year, and for an attempted bombing of an abortion clinic in Illinois...

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Guest: NatSec journalist Marcy Wheeler on Jared's jeopardy; Also: Trump loses 'last emotional crutch' and Ivanka reportedly facing FBI probe...
By Brad Friedman on 3/1/2018 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We begin with some very brief good news today on a new automatic voter pre-registration scheme for 16 and 17-year olds in California, as signed into law by the Governor on Wednesday. That, before diving headlong into the deep dark heart of Donald Trump's seemingly, very quickly imploding White House. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

The spate of jaw-dropping news over the past 48 hours, all pointing in one direction, is remarkable, even by the standards of this particular White House. Following on Wednesday's shock news that Trump's third Communications Director, Hope Hicks is resigning, there has been much speculation as to why she is leaving. As one of Trump's closest personal confidantes and most trusted advisors --- and among the last of the original team that's been with Trump since he announced his candidacy in 2015 --- some are reporting that the 29-year old former model quit after being berated by Trump for admitting to a Congressional committee the day prior that she was required to lie on his behalf. Other reporting suggests she could be facing legal jeopardy after finding herself at the center of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into obstruction of justice by the President.

Hicks was also described as Trump's "last emotional crutch", which does not bode well for where this White House may now be heading.

At the same time, a number of blockbuster stories have broken in recent days regarding Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner, whose family real estate business has long faced financial woes. Kushner's interim top secret security level clearance was recently downgraded after his FBI background check failed to clear him for permanent security clearance, a number of foreign countries were reported to have been intercepted discussing how to manipulate him based on his financial problems, two major money lenders reportedly gave his family company huge refinancing loans shortly after meetings with him in the White House, and our guest today, MARCY WHEELER, believes that Mueller could be working toward charges against Kushner for "conspiracy against the United States."

Wheeler, a longtime national security journalist at Emptywheel, detailed the reasons why Mueller may now be closing in on Kushner in a New York Times op-ed yesterday. She joins us today to explain those possibilities --- centered, in part, on his various foreign entanglements and multiple failures to properly disclose them --- on today's show.

"We've been talking about 'collusion' since before the election," Wheeler says. "Collusion is not a crime. It is a shiny object used by Trump to be able to deny something over and over again. He was never going to be indicted for it, because collusion is not a crime. He will or could, however, be an un-indicted co-conspirator in a conspiracy." And, in the broad conspiracy that Mueller seems to be documenting through his indictments to date, she argues, Kushner may well find himself indicted as one of those conspirators.

We also discuss whether and how Trump can possibly survive the apparent ongoing implosion, with Hicks soon gone and Kushner now believed to be in serious jeopardy. "Trump is losing people he trusts. And eventually he's going to be sitting there alone in the White House watching 25 screens, all of them playing Fox and Friends, and tweeting angrily in response," Wheeler tells me. "At some point, the White House becomes so hollowed out it starts collapsing, and I feel like we're pretty close to that."

Finally today, after our discussion of Hicks' departure and Kushner's tightening noose, CNN breaks a new story reporting that the FBI is said to be eyeing financial questions surrounding business dealings by Kushner's wife Ivanka Trump, the President's daughter, close advisor, and one of the only other still-standing "originals" left, along with Hicks and Kushner, in the Administration...

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Trump's horrible idea; FL's tepid gun reform package; Melania's parents' 'chain migration'; Gates cops a plea; McMaster may soon be out; Why Republicans must be removed; Stoneman Douglas students shine...
By Brad Friedman on 2/23/2018 6:03pm PT  

We catch up with a lot of news today, at the end of another ridiculously busy week, on today's very busy BradCast! But, hey, we start with a laugh and end with a song. So, it can't be all that bad, right? [Audio link to show follows below.]

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

  • Donald Trump's horrendous idea for arming school teachers and workers appears to have come straight from Archie Bunker, and it won't work out well, especially for black teachers;
  • After the NRA's A+ rated, Florida Gov. Rick Scott joins the NRA's A+ rated Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in blowing away Second Amendment straw-man arguments, he proposes a package of tepid gun reforms for the state in the wake of the Parkland, FL massacre, including barring those under 21 from buying a semi-automatic rifle;
  • A handful of D.C. GOPers also consider raising the federal age for gun purchases (though don't hold your breath, the NRA is against it.);
  • The problem isn't 'Washington' or 'Congress', it's Republicans, and it's time to remove them from office at the federal, state and local level;
  • After new charges against him and former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort were filed on Thursday, Manafort's partner and former Trump aide Rick Gates copped a guilty plea on Friday and agreed to cooperate with Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe. Mueller filed even more new charges against Manafort on Friday;
  • Trump may be about to fire his second National Security Advisor, Gen. H.R. McMaster;
  • Did Melania Trump's parents receive permanent U.S. residency, and soon citizenship, thanks to the "chain migration" (family reunification) program that Donald Trump and the GOP are hoping to kill in exchange for protection of DACA kids?;
  • Fox "News" reports that Defense Sec. James Mattis has quietly decided to allow transgender troops to serve in the military, despite Trump's declaration last year that they would be barred from serving "in any capacity";
  • New effort launched by Democrats and gun reform advocates to register high school students to vote in advance of the 2018 mid-terms;

And, finally, some closing thoughts on the heroically shining students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and their performance of the song they wrote just days after a former student, armed with a legally purchased semi-automatic weapon, killed 17 of their fellow students and teachers and wounded more than a dozen others...

[Note: Angie Coiro is in for us on the next BradCast as we take a day off for Desi's birthday! If you'd like to give her a much-deserved birthday gift, please do so in any amount, at BradBlog.com/Donate! And thank you!]

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Guest: Teacher, writer Dina Leygerman; Also: New Mueller indictments; GOP EAC Chair pushed out; MO's new GOP Guv indicted in sex scandal...
By Brad Friedman on 2/22/2018 6:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Yes, the kids are alright. And, if this past week has been any indication --- along with the results of a fascinating social experiment by my guest today --- they may well save us all. I hope they hurry. [Audio link to today's show follows below.]

First up, however, a boatload of news broke shortly before air today, and we scramble to cover as much of it as we can. Among those stories...

  • New indictments are filed by Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe against two former Donald Trump campaign officials. His former campaign chair Paul Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates, who also served on the Trump transition team saw 32 counts added to the 17 felony counts leveled against them in October. The new charges relate to some $30 million in money laundering and tax fraud, based on funds said to have been received while Manafort worked for a Russian-backed Ukrainian President prior to joining the Trump campaign;
  • U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and the White House have reportedly pushed out, Matthew Masterson, the Republican Chair of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) for reasons that remain unknown The EAC, formed by Congress after the 2000 election debacle to help state election officials with e-voting system standards, has failed in many ways over the years, as we discuss (and as we've reported at The BRAD BLOG for many years.) Still, they remain the only federal agency tasked with that role, even while Republicans have been attempting, for years, to shutter the Commission entirely. Masterson, said to be highly regarded by state election officials, was overseeing cyber-security standards for new voting systems before the 2018 mid-terms, in light of concerns of foreign manipulation of U.S. voting, registration and tabulation systems;
  • And, also breaking just before air, Missouri's new "family values" Republican Governor Eric Greitens was indicted late Thursday on a felony charge related to allegations that threatened to blackmail a woman he had tied up and photographed nude in his basement during an affair in 2015, prior to his 2016 election.

Then, with the incredibly impressive students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida speaking up, marching, organizing and protesting unapologetically to demand new legislation on guns after a former student killed 17 at their school last week with a legally-purchased semi-automatic AR-15 rifle, President Trump unleashed a Twitter rant on Thursday morning calling for teachers across the country to be armed in response. That call has not gone over well with the Stoneman Douglas students, though many Republican officials and their paymasters at the National Rifle Association (NRA) support the measure to place even more guns into our nations schools.

But, as my guest today, Philadelphia area high school teacher and writer DINA LEYGERMAN argues, the current generation of high schoolers across the country are fierce, a force to be reckoned with and not to be underestimated.

In her recent article headlined "The Teens Will Save Us", Leygerman documents a fascinating social experiment that she has run for a number of years while teaching George Orwell's 1984 to her English class. After similar results of the experiment year after year --- in which, without informing the students, she basically turns her classroom into an Orwellian totalitarian regime over a matter of days, with her as the dictator turning students against each other --- she says that this year, for reasons she discusses, the response by the students was completely different from previous years. The students, she explains, were having none of it, and actually stood up, organized with their classmates and other students in rebellion against her. As she wrote, "For the first time since I've done this experiment, the students 'won.'"

Leygerman joins us for what turns out to be a very hopeful segment, as she explains what happened, why, and how this generation may be very different from the slacker image many have painted them with. "They are participating in marches. They are participating in their student government. They are listening to the news. They're reading the news more, everyday. They are involved. And I think in our current political climate, where everything is so hostile and divisive, they are learning. I walk around and, even in the cafeteria, I'll listen to them talk about DACA, they'll talk about issues that I don't ever remember discussing when I was a kid," she tells me.

It's a fascinating conversation that I hope you'll tune in for. I also get her thoughts on Trump and the NRA's proposal for arming teachers, which she describes as "insane and dangerous" and a "diversion and deflection" from the actual conversation of what should be done about our nation's gun epidemic. Leygerman, who also writes for parenting website Romper, wonders: "Where's the funding coming from? And if it's coming from the government or from the state, why can't we have basic supplies instead?"

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as a chemical giant settles a decades-long water contamination lawsuit, global temperatures continue to sky-rocket, sea levels rise at an ever-quickening pace, and another western state becomes the latest to block Donald Trump's scheme to expand off-shore oil drilling...

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Guest: Redistricting expert Brian Amos on new PA U.S. House map; Plus; Trump's bump-stock ban gimmick; Buying a gun is easier than voting in Florida; Maine GOP's fake news site; The GNR's 9th Anniversary...
By Brad Friedman on 2/20/2018 6:24pm PT  

There is big news out of Pennsylvania again on today's BradCast, concerning the upcoming 2018 mid-term elections. And it appears to be very good news indeed for Democrats. [Audio link to show is posted at bottom of article.]

But first up, Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that he is directing the Dept. of Justice to propose new regulations that, if adopted, would ban the sale of so-called bump stock devices that turn semi-automatic weapons into fully automatic machine guns. That, nearly four months after such devices were used in the massacre that killed 58 concert-goers and wounded some 500 others on the Las Vegas Strip in a matter of minutes in October, and less than one week since a 19-year old gunman killed 17 at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, without using a bump-stock, on his legally purchased AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle. The process Trump called for will take months and likely face legal challenges, if it ever results in any such devices being banned for sale. Congress could ban them today, if they wished to. Republicans supported by the NRA however, do not.

At the same time, as we discuss today, it is easier in many states to purchase an AR-15 or similar weapon than it is to cast a vote, including in Florida. While an ID is needed to both register and then to cast a ballot at the polls on Election Day in the Sunshine State, an unlimited number of semi-automatic rifles can be purchased there without any ID or background check at all. And, unlike voter registration in FL, gun sales can be carried out online, completely anonymously, even as GOP lawmakers in the state have made it harder and harder to both register and vote in the state in recent years.

Next, following up on a story we covered in detail on Friday's show, regarding fake news sites (actual fake news sites!) set up to look like real ones by Republican officials across the country to support Republican candidates and attack Democrats. The Executive Director of the Maine Republican Party has now admitted that he is behind the anonymously-run Maine Examiner site which, last December, falsely claimed leaked emails of the Democratic candidate for mayor in Maine's second largest city called voters a "bunch of racists". Days later, after the fake news story took off, that candidate, Ben Chin, is said to have lost his election by just 145 votes to the Republican. While many are worried about Russians posing as Americans to post attacks on social media in support of Republicans and attacking Democrats --- using fake claims about "voter fraud" taken directly from GOP outlets like Fox 'News' and Breitbart --- this new scheme by GOP officials (from coast to coast) to create fake news websites in support of Republican candidates should be very troubling for Dems in advance of the 2018 mid-terms.

But, there is some better news today for Democrats in Pennsylvania where, after the Republican-controlled state legislature failed to draw "fair and equal" U.S. House maps, as ordered by the State Supreme Court, the Court itself released its own map to be used in the 2018 election. The commonwealth's primaries are set for May, with candidates beginning their signature gathering process in days.

The new map follows a finding by the state's high court in January that the map drawn by the GOP-controlled legislature in 2011 was an unlawful partisan gerrymander under the state constitution. The previous map resulted in Democrats holding just 5 of the state's 18 U.S. House seats election after election, in what is otherwise a largely 50/50 state (with nearly half a million more registered Democrats than Republicans.)

We're joined today to discuss the new map, and what it is likely to mean for Democrats, Republicans and the rest of the country where many other partisan gerrymanders will still remain in effect this year, by redistricting expert BRIAN AMOS of the University of Florida. Amos, a PH.D. candidate specializing in the intersection of geography and politics, served as an analyst for the Florida team that was the first in the nation to successfully challenge a Republican drawn district plan in state court on partisan gerrymandering grounds.

Amos details the expected effect of the new PA map, drawn up by the court and released on Monday, which is expected to result in at least 3 or 4 more Democrats in the U.S. House, even though Trump won in 10 of the new districts in 2016, while Hillary Clinton won only 8 of them.

We also discuss the geographical and political challenges (and opportunities) of drawing maps that are fair to voters of all parties, when those maps are drawn up by partisan legislatures. That's become even more of a problem, not just after the GOP's REDMAP Project to take over state legislatures before the 2010 Census so they could draw the new maps in 2011, but also because of the geological self-sorting that is taking place, as Dems tend huddle in more urban areas, while Republicans spread out in rural districts.

"Democrats tend to live in densely Democratic areas --- cities --- whereas Republicans tend to live in areas that are a bit more balanced, like 60% Republican, 40% Democrat," Amos explains. "So the arguments tends to be that, if we have to draw geographic districts, it's harder to spread out those Democrats across districts in order to make an even balance. In a lot of cases I think you'll see something like what we saw from the court's map, where it's as fair as you can get, but it's still 10-8 [in favor of Republicans.]"

The outcome could have been better for Republicans in PA, Amos explains, they could have put their own map forward that was more fair. But, he says, "they got too greedy." State Republicans are still vowing to challenge the new map in some federal court or another, but experts suggest that may be very difficult, given that this was a state court ruling.

For his part, Amos, though not an attorney, tells me that "when the state fails to pass a map, then somebody has to step in and that's always been the courts. So maybe they'll find some friendly federal court somewhere, but it seems like a stretch." Meanwhile, as recent federal court rulings finding unlawful partisan gerrymandering carried out in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Texas, Maryland and elsewhere are currently on hold at the U.S. Supreme Court, "we're all waiting on Justice Kennedy," says Amos. But that ruling --- sadly, for those of us who believe in fairer elections --- is not expected until June, likely too late to effect the 2018 mid-terms.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our 9th Anniversary Green News Report, as the Trump Administration's EPA and Dept. of Energy face new trouble from the courts and the Inspector General. And we reminisce about the vastly difficult political landscape that existed 9 years ago, when we began the GNR, and when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, but were unable to pass cap and trade legislation to put a price on the release of carbon pollution, in hopes of mitigating our current and worsening climate crisis.

Thank you, from Desi and myself, to those of you who have stopped by BradBlog.com/Donate to help us continue the GNR into our 10th year! For some reason, ExxonMobil will still not cough up any sponsorship funds for us, even though we talk about them all the time!...

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Trump's horrible week; Rubio, Grassley shame after Florida shooting; Russians used GOP 'fake news' and the party is doubling down...
By Brad Friedman on 2/16/2018 6:32pm PT  

We begin today's BradCast with a somewhat harrowing and breathtaking round-up of what has been an exceptionally bad news week, even for this particular White House. But all of that got considerably worse on Friday. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

New grand jury indictments [PDF] were filed against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities, by Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe, for alleged interference in the 2016 Presidential election. We detail what the indictment says and doesn't say, and how Donald Trump and his White House are lying about both.

Then, before it disappears into the ether, more coverage of the shameful dodging, denial and misdirection from Senate Republicans --- of particularly shameful note were Senators Chuck Grassley (IA) and Marco Rubio (FL) on Thursday --- following Wednesday's horrific mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Despite some twisted misdirection from Grassley on "mental health" issues (he sponsored the bill passed last year to make it easier for the mentally ill to purchase weapons) and desperate remarks from Rubio on the purported futility of any and all laws regarding guns (or anything else, apparently), we detail the reason why the U.S. has so many mass shootings, according to dozens of peer-reviewed studies from around the nation and the world: the obscene number and easy availability of guns in the U.S., which is unparalleled among developed nations. Period.

Next, Friday's grand jury indictments from Mueller detail a disturbing and well-organized Russian-based scheme to try and undermine the U.S. Presidential election by using social media to spread "derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump."

But the methods and material they used for doing so came directly out of the well-worn GOP and rightwing media playbook. Fake news said to have been spread by Russian social media accounts declaring, for example, "voter fraud" in Florida just days before the election, as cited in the Mueller indictments, was, quite literally, taken straight off of Fox "News" and other rightwing media outlets, where fake news of the type said to have been spread by Russian agents has been used for years to manipulate the U.S. electorate.

Worse still, it appears that Republican officials and candidates for office are now creating their own fake news sites with legitimate sounding names --- from the "Arizona Monitor" to the "Maine Examiner" to "The Free Telegraph" (that one is run by the Republican Governors Association!) --- in order to scam voters with wildly fake and/or slanted "news", meant to appear legitimate.

So, yes, foreign interference in our elections is of concern, but, as we explain today, the far greater threat to American democracy is still "coming from inside the house."

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as U.S. intelligence agencies contradict the Trump Administration on climate risks, ExxonMobil fights back against climate lawsuits, the corporate media continue to fail on climate change coverage, and a bit of good news, happily, from the Queen of England...

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Guest: David Daley on the battle to overcome partisan gerrymandering; Also: Many now calling for 'paper ballots' still missing larger concerns...
By Brad Friedman on 2/13/2018 6:40pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Never mind Russia. Is it even possible for Democrats to overcome the systemic structural disadvantages Republicans have put in place in virtually every aspect of U.S. elections? We've got both encouraging and not-so-encouraging news in that regard on today's show. [Audio link to show posted below.]

Now that both the U.S. intelligence community and Democrats --- and even a few Republicans --- have finally begun to figure out that Election Integrity requires, at a bare minimum, a paper ballot for every vote cast, how long will it take them to figure out that those ballots need to be hand-marked (not computer-marked) and, preferably hand-counted, so that the American public can truly begin to restore confidence in election results and know that their votes actually matter? There is some --- precious little, but some --- encouraging news out of Pennsylvania today on that front, and even from the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee.

The Governor in PA, a state which still hates its voters so much that it forces the vast majority of them to vote on 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems, has decreed that any new voting systems purchased to replace the old ones, must have some form of "paper trail" or "paper record" or "paper backup". That's a very low bar, but better --- for the most part --- than the current 100% unverifiable touch-screen systems used across the state. Yet, the Democratic Governor, Tom Wolf, has yet to propose any new funding to purchase those new systems. So, like PA votes, they remain vapor ware for the moment.

At the same time, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, Ranking Democrat on the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, seems to have noticed the cost of trying to secure elections (like "the Dutch elections, where they hand-counted all the ballots") versus the price of one single F-35. Hand-counts, like those carried out by the Dutch, is, in truth, a pretty inexpensive deterrent against foreign manipulation of our computer tabulation systems, if our elected officials were truly concerned about it. (It would also help to deter the much greater threat of domestic manipulation, by the way!)

But, even if we had a hand-marked paper ballot for every vote cast and even if we counted them all by hand, publicly at the precincts, before ballots were moved anywhere (as per Democracy's Gold Standard), Democrats would still have a mountain to overcome this year in the shape of the GOP's systemic partisan gerrymandering of state legislative districts and U.S. House seats.

To that end, we've got some similarly-qualified encouraging news out of Pennsylvania as well today, where the state Supreme Court recently ordered new U.S. House maps to be drawn in time for the upcoming May primary elections in the commonwealth, after finding the ones drawn by Republicans following the 2010 census were in violation of the state constitution's right to a fair vote. The battle over those new maps --- which have given the GOP a 13 to 5 advantage in U.S. House seats in the largely 50/50 state over the last three elections, where Dems outnumber Republicans --- is now moving forward on a very tight court-ordered deadline.

Meanwhile, similarly partisan gerrymandering by the GOP in Wisconsin, North Carolina, and many other swing-states continues, thanks in no small part to the U.S. Supreme Court delaying lower federal rulings that determined Republicans had unconstitutionally given themselves a steep enough advantage on district maps that they were able to retain huge majorities in state legislatures and the U.S. House, despite being consistently out-voted by Democrats.

We're joined today by FairVote gerrymandering expert DAVID DALEY, former Editor-in-Chief at Salon and author of RATF**KED: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy. We discuss the gerrymandered state of play as the 2018 primaries are now just weeks away in many states, and as the dam seems to be bursting in both state and federal courts --- finally! --- against partisan gerrymandering.

"The courts have been consistently outraged by what the Republicans pulled off in 2010, 2011," Daley says. "The problem is, here we are in 2018, we've been using these unconstitutional maps now this entire decade. There is no sense we're going to have new maps in most of these states, with the possible exception of Pennsylvania, in time for the 2018 election. We may well have the fourth of five elections in all of these states held on unconstitutional maps."

By way of one example, Daley notes: "In 2012, 52% of Pennsylvanian voters vote for Barack Obama, 51% of them vote for Democratic members of the U.S House. Republicans however, take 13 of the18 seats that year --- 71% of them! Democrats get 28% of the seats, even with more votes."

We also discuss the new documents he recently uncovered, published in a new Salon exclusive, detailing the fascinating story of how the Republicans' so-called REDMAP scheme to take over state legislatures and redistrict the nation with a wildly partisan advantage, first came about prior to the 2010 election and U.S. Census.

Among the questions we discuss: Is it even possible for Democrats to overcome that structural disadvantage in the 2018 mid-terms without the U.S. Supreme Court finding partisan gerrymandering to be unlawful? Are state court cases, like the one in PA, the answer instead? And can any of this be done in time for the 2020 elections, after which district maps will be redrawn once again by partisan majorities in state houses for another 10 years?

"There may be a blue wave [in 2018], but there is also a red firewall that stands ready to knock it down," Daley warns. "Democrats are probably going to need two seismic, historic waves in order to have a shot at fair maps in 2021. And it they can't pull that off, and if the courts don't come in and do something in the meantime, the maps that are drawn in 2021 are the ones we are going to live with until 2031."

Also today, in other related news: A second federal court, this time in New York, blocks Trump's attempt to reverse DACA, and one Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate must be a very bad choice...at least according to his own parents!...

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

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Separating fact from defamatory Republican myth about the 'Steele Dossier' and Fusion GPS research...
By Ernest A. Canning on 2/12/2018 10:38am PT  

The significance of the previously concealed transcripts of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson's unclassified Congressional testimony far exceeds the narrow, albeit accurate, observation that the transcripts blew a huge hole in one of numerous conspiracy theories about the so-called "Steele Dossier" floated by the President, his Republican allies in Congress and by right-wing propaganda outlets such as Fox "News".

Contrary to earlier GOP spin, the FBI initiated its Trump/Russia investigation before the Bureau was first contacted by Christopher Steele, the former British MI-6 intelligence agent and author of the 16 field memos collectively known as the "Steele Dossier".

Indeed, even Republicans now concede that point, as detailed by the feckless Nunes memo, which notes that the Trump/Russia probe was initially triggered by the loose lips of Trump campaign foreign policy aide, George Papadopoulos.

That timing issue, however, is but a tip of the iceberg.

We now know why Congressional Republicans sought for so long to keep the Simpson transcripts under wraps. They had hoped to erect a patently false narrative that depicted the 'Steele Dossier" as a groundless and politically-motivated exercise in character assassination; a "poison" that so tainted everyone at the FBI who touched it, that it called for, in the words of Jeannie Pirro at Fox "News", a "cleansing" and subsequent jailing of the individuals at the FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) who have undertaken to investigate Trump/Russia.

By detailing both the sound investigative techniques applied by Simpson and Steele, and, most importantly, by explaining the real reasons why Steele reported his disturbing, yet entirely unanticipated findings to the FBI, the now public Simpson Congressional transcripts expose the mendacity behind a vicious right-wing assault on the integrity of the Trump/Russia probe and upon our federal law enforcement institutions. In the process, the Simpson transcripts raise even more deeply unsettling questions about the man now serving as the 45th President of the United States...

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




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