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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, May 24, 2018
'Green News Report' 5/24/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
EPA locks out media; TX chem plant explodes; Lava at HI power plant; WI frack sludge spill; Closed coal plants' immediate health benefits; PLUS: NPS' uncensored climate study...
Previous GNRs: 5/22/18 - 5/17/18 - Archives...
Progressives Win Some, Lose Some in GA, KY, AR, TX Primaries: 'BradCast' 5/23/18
Guest: BlueAmericaPAC's Howie Klein helps round up the good, bad, ugly...
ICE Busted; SCOTUS Approves Wage Theft; TX, FL GOPers Oppose Voter Registration: 'BradCast' 5/22/18
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: EPA blocks mainstream media outlets from event...
'Green News Report' 5/22/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Repub House Science Comm denies sea level rise; NASA finds humans changing global water supply; Britain to launch plastic tax; PLUS: Ex-con coal baron Blankenship is back!...
Previous GNRs: 5/17/18 - 5/15/18 - Archives...
'American Carnage' Continues: 'BradCast' 5/21/18
Guest: Gun safety advocate Cliff Schecter on shootings in TX, FL, Vegas and how to prevent them; Also: Trump dangerously clueless in advance of planned summit with NK...
Sunday Toons of the Peace Process Moment
Who knew making peace was so complicated? The cartoonists represented in PDiddie's latest collection probably did...
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; U.S., Israel isolated at UN...
'Green News Report' 5/15/18
EPA blocking water contamination report; Global warming intensifying storms; Power co. paid actors to support plant bid in LA; PLUS: CA's landmark solar mandate...
Sunday 'Don't Torture Mother' Toons
Celebrate mom with another festive weekly collection of political cartoons from 'PDiddie'...
Punching Bags Michael Cohen, John McCain: 'BradCast' 5/11/18
Guest-host Angie Coiro with guest Sally Kohn on 'The Opposite of Hate'...
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...


CA Dem joins 'BradCast' to tout new 'Woman and Climate' bill, much more!; Also: Rand Paul defines 'hypocrisy' in budget battle; Porter scandal reveals Trump, Kelly undermining national security at White House...
By Brad Friedman on 2/9/2018 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We're joined by progressive Democratic REP. BARBARA LEE of California, the only member of Congress, in either house, to vote against the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) after 9/11, calling it a blank check that would lead to endless war. As we now know, 17 years later, with the War in Afghanistan and many others still raging under the third President to cite the AUMF to justify military action anywhere in the world without Congressional oversight, she was, of course, correct. Along with continuing her fight to repeal that 2001 AUMF, this week Lee introduced a new bill regarding woman and climate change, which we discuss as well today. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first up, on another insanely busy program, we detail what happened on Thursday night and Friday morning when Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) single-handedly held up passage of the new, bi-partisan government spending bill, which includes up to $500 billion in new military and domestic spending, as well as disaster aid. In shutting down the government for the second time this year, for about seven hours, Paul described approval of the bill and increased deficit spending by his fellow Republicans to be the "the very definition of intellectual dishonesty [and] hypocrisy". That, after the intellectually dishonest and hypocritical Paul just voted in December, along with the entire Senate Republican caucus, for massive, unpaid-for tax cuts set to blow a $1.5 trillion hole in the national debt.

Then, late details on this week's newest scandal surrounding the resignation of White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter on Wednesday, following the public disclosure of his alleged violence against his two former wives. Among the new developments: Donald Trump's Chief of Staff John Kelly and other top White House officials reportedly knew about the charges long ago; Kelly has now said he'd be willing to resign over what happened, and several outlets are reporting that their remain "dozens" of White House staffers, some in very senior positions, still operating without full security clearance.

That suggests that many of them, like the President's son-in-law Jared Kushner, may never receive full security clearances, despite Trump and the GOP having run their entire Presidential campaign hypocritically (and falsely) charging that Hillary Clinton carelessly allowed classified information to be seen by those without proper security clearance. According to Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), a former White House Staff Secretary himself, describes this situation as "nuts", saying that Porter would have handled the nation's most highly classified secrets in his top Oval Office role. He believes an investigation is warranted to determine what both Kelly and Trump knew about the "eminently blackmailable" Porter and who gave him the okay to remain on, even after the FBI had determined he would not qualify for a full security clearance.

Next, we're joined by Congresswoman Lee, to detail her new "Woman and Climate Change Act of 2018" [PDF]. We discuss how women and girls around the world are "bearing the brunt in many ways", as the first and most affected victims of the dangerous effects of global warming and whether Republican members of the bi-partisan Women's Working Group may help in co-sponsoring this effort, despite "the climate deniers who are within the federal government running the show."

"Women are especially vulnerable to these changes in the environment," Lee explains. "We know women are the ones that are finding water, collecting food, caring for family members. And so now, more than ever, we need to focus on climate change as a whole, but also ways to empower women, as they are the most vulnerable people, and will be impacted most by these health epidemics, refuge crises, forced migration --- all the issues that we know women are disproportionately impacted by."

She also shares her opinion on the odds of Ivanka Trump, self-proclaimed women's champion, coming aboard this particular campaign. Lee, a former co-chair of the Progressive Caucus in the House, who now serves as Senior Democratic Whip, responds as to whether Democrats fought hard enough, during the recent government funding battle, to protect "Dreamers" facing imminent deportation as early as March 5, unless a legislative deal can be struck, and whether she believes House Speaker Paul Ryan will ever allow such a measure to be brought up for a vote. She urges Americans to keep contacting their members of Congress on both of these efforts.

"Listen, you have to stay optimistic. Otherwise we get stuck with their negativity and trying to take us back. The public has to be hopeful and has to work hard to get this done," she tells me.

Finally, Lee also shares her thoughts on the bi-partisan momentum in both the House and Senate for finally repealing (and replacing?) the 2001 AUMF. "Congress has been missing in action. We need to do our job, and we're not. But, believe you me, we are building support to do this," she insists. "Hold your elected officials accountable!"

We close today with a bit of listener mail in response to a recent story we covered on the record number of scientists now said to be running for office in 2018, and on the dangerous new effort by the Trump Administration place lifetime limits on Medicaid for the first time in the popular social safety net program's history...

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

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Also: Shutdown looms, ObamaCare lives, Medicaid targeted...
By Brad Friedman on 2/8/2018 6:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast: As Congress struggles to pass a spending bill and avoid another government shutdown, the White House was busy on Thursday fending off much-deserved criticism for allowing an alleged wife abuser to serve as a top Oval Office official for the past year, despite failing background and security checks over that time. [Audio link to show posted below.]

White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter finally resigned on Wednesday, but not before Donald Trump's Chief of Staff John Kelly fought hard to keep him on board and wildly sang his praises, even after reportedly being told long ago that Porter's two former wives had both accused him of physical and emotional abuse, which they had notified the FBI about as early as January of 2017.

It wasn't until a graphic photo of one of the women with a black eye --- which she says she told the FBI that Porter had caused when he punched her while on a vacation --- was published, that the White House finally got around to backing off the praises they had been singing for him. That, even while Porter had been handling the nation's most classified information along with Kelly, despite being unable to obtain a full security clearance, thanks to his violent and abusive background.

We cover many of the developing details in that grotesque story, including some of the remarkable (and shameful) reaction to it today.

Then, the 2018 Affordable Care Act enrollment numbers are finally in and suggest that Americans, even in states won by Trump in 2016, sure do like ObamaCare!

Nonetheless, the White House and Republican states are still doing all they can to take health coverage away from Americans, particularly those that need it most. Several GOP states have now applied for waivers to allow them to put lifetime limits on the use of Medicaid for the first time in the history of the crucial social safety net program.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, in which Trump's EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt uses your public airwaves to double-down on lies about climate change, Dunkin' Donuts finally ditches foam cups (well, eventually, anyway), and California fends off the Trump Administration's hopes of expanding offshore drilling off the Golden State coast...

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: Salon's Heather Digby Parton on the memo mess, Special Counsel mess, immigration/DACA mess, and several others; Also: Elected PA GOPer trying to impeach 5 of 7 state Supreme Court Justices...
By Brad Friedman on 2/6/2018 6:28pm PT  

On today's BradCast, as one political mess piles up on top of another in D.C. (and across the country), at what now seems to be an impossible pace, our old friend HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and "Digby's Hullabaloo" blog is here today to try and help us dig out of from under it. Wish her luck. [Audio link to show is posted at end of article.]

First up, Parton responds to Donald Trump's charge on Monday that Democrats who failed to stand and applaud during his State of the Union address last week were "unAmerican" and may have committed "treason". Yes, he actually said as much, even though treason is punishable by death, and couldn't possibly be applied in this case. (And, yes, we also discuss how many others also misuse the charge of "treason" against Trump.)

Then, Republicans on the U.S. House Intelligence Committee have finally voted to release the Democratic Rebuttal Memo written in response to the cherry-picked Republican Memo produced by committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA), perhaps in collusion with the White House. The Nunes memo, though landing with a thud after it's release on Friday, is still being used by Fox "News" GOPers to falsely make the case that Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe must be shut down due to an alleged misuse of material from the so-called "Trump/Russia Dossier" written by a former British intelligence agent, for the FISA warrant application sought and obtained by the FBI in 2016 (and renewed three times) to intercept communications with Carter Page, a former Trump Campaign advisor and suspected Russian asset.

But will the President actually allow the House Democrats' rebuttal memo to be released to the public? Parton has her doubts ("I don't know why people think it's a done deal. I mean, I keep wanting to say, 'Have you met Donald Trump?!'") She also has a few thoughts on Nunes and the entire GOP attempt to undermine the Mueller probe on specious grounds and on the promise by Nunes' to produce several new memos in what is part of his new effort to make the case that Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, conspired with Russia before the 2016 election. Parton compares the effort to go after members of the FBI and DoJ, etc., to Sen. Joseph McCarthy's targeting, in the 1950s, of alleged Communists in the FBI, Dept. of Justice and State Department. Sadly, the effort by Nunes, Trump and friends seems to be working, at least partially, according to a stunning new Axios poll.

I also share my own concern with Parton about what I see as a serious weakness in the Democrats' case for "collusion" against Trump, and she shares her prediction that "there's an excellent chance" a second Special Counsel will be convened to try and prosecute Hillary Clinton before this is all said and done.

We then go on to discuss the mess in Congress in advance of another possible federal government shutdown later this week, which Trump, on Tuesday, said he welcomes amid what has been his own bad faith deal-making with Democrats over the fate of some 800,000 children of immigrants brought here illegally decades ago. Those kids had been protected from deportation by the Obama-era DACA program, until Trump reversed it --- using them as human shields for his radical new immigration demands --- setting a deadline to begin their deportation as early as March 5th, unless a deal can be struck for legislation passed by Congress to protect them.

"This is a mess. It's been a mess," Parton argues. "Giving the Democrats a little bit of slack, this immigration problem and the DACA kids have been out there for a long time, and they have tried. The problem for the Democrats was that they thought, when Donald Trump was elected, because of this promises "Oh, I love the [DACA] kids!', that he had the credibility to bring along the Freedom Caucus and all these right-wing anti-immigration hawks in the Congress. That was the game that Trump talked. It turns out that he's a complete mess. He doesn't know how the government works. He doesn't know how to negotiate."

So, now, such a deal must somehow be worked out between the Dems, who are lousy negotiators, and Trump, who is a dishonest one, in advance of Friday's government shutdown deadline, or be pushed off yet again, leaving the fate of the DACA kids in jeopardy as March approaches. Not helping in the matter, as Parton observes, is Trump's far-right, anti-immigrant Chief of Staff John Kelly, not to mention the untrustworthy Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Next, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest news-filled Green News Report.

And, finally, some new developments out of Pennsylvania where, speaking of the rise of authoritarianism under Republican rule, an elected GOPer in the state House is now moving to impeach five of the seven Justices on the state Supreme Court after they voted to require new U.S. House maps for the state. The new districts would replace the GOP's illegally gerrymandered Congressional Districts that Republicans have been using to hold 13 of 18 U.S. House seats in the closely divided (but Democratic-leaning) swing-state. The nascent impeachment effort --- though one that should be taken seriously --- in the PA House comes as the Republican President of the state Senate continues to defy the court's orders, despite their ruling being upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday.

Yes, this mess keeps getting messier. By the minute...

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

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Also: GOP memo mayhem continues, stock market falls, callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 2/5/2018 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the Super Bowl victory for the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday was fantastic, but the victory for all of Pennsylvania (and, indeed, voters across the entire nation) on Monday was even better! [Audio link to show follows below.]

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito rejected Pennsylvania Republicans' request to block, overturn, deny, or delay the state Supreme Court's recent order to redraw all U.S. House districts in the key swing-state immediately and in time for the upcoming 2018 mid-term elections. The state's highest court found two weeks ago that the GOP-controlled state legislature had unlawfully gerrymandered the Keystone State's U.S. House maps following the 2010 census in such a way that the GOP ended up with 13 seats to the Democrats' 5, despite Democratic registration and voting far out-pacing Republicans statewide.

The PA GOP's request for SCOTUS to intercede in a state constitutional matter was denied on Monday. That is also very good news for the country, as discussed on today's show.

But the SCOTUS decision has yet to stop the state GOP from refusing to follow state court orders on the matter. Moreover, while the state GOP is demanding that its state Supremes overturn their own ruling, new reporting over the weekend reveals that a Republican state Supreme Court Justices who voted against the order to redraw U.S. House district maps, received several undisclosed donations --- including a huge one from the state Senate President Pro Tempore, as well as from two Republican U.S. House members effected by the ruling --- when she ran for a 10-year term last year. The donations were given to her after the challenge in the gerrymandering case had already been filed, yet her campaign now admits she failed to disclose those donations until they were revealed over the weekend.

Then, we move on to a number of late developments in the failing attempt by the chair of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), to undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Team Trump, by using specious claims about the self-generated GOP House Intel Committee memo released on Friday. Both Nunes and Trump (and other Republicans) had claimed the memo supposedly reveals some sort of partisan bias in the FBI/DoJ and now Special Counsel probe. One GOPer even went so far as to claim the memo revealed "evidence of treason". (It doesn't. Not by a long shot.)

In fact, as we detail today, even statements by other Republican members on the same committee --- including Trey "Benghazi" Gowdy --- over the weekend, seriously undermine the claims made by Nunes and Trump himself over the weekend and again on Monday.

And, as we detailed at length on Friday's show, Nunes --- who now claims that former Trump Campaign advisor and suspected Russian intelligence asset Carter Page's rights were somehow violated by the procedure used by the FBI to obtain a warrant to eavesdrop on his communications --- showed no such concerns about the FISA law used to obtain that warrant when he voted in favor of extending it and expanding it for 6 more years just weeks ago. Trump also signed that extension.

Oh, and the Dow had its worse day since 2011 and largest all-time point drop today.

Finally, we open the phone lines to take listener calls on all of the day's hypocrisy and much more on today's BradCast!...

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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GOP just extended surveillance law they now decry; Trump policies terrorizing public, infuriating judges; Also: Diebold 'jackpotting'!...
By Brad Friedman on 2/2/2018 6:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast: That mighty "thud" you heard on Friday morning? It may have been the release by Donald Trump and U.S. House Republicans of their long-awaited, much-ballyhooed, self-generated memo, which they promised would expose "worse than Watergate" crimes and wildly biased partisan "witch hunt" activities by the FBI and DoJ as part of their investigation into whether Team Trump worked with Russia to undermine the 2016 Presidential election. It did none of those things. But it does expose them as hypocrites when it comes to U.S. surveillance policies. [Audio link to show posted below.]

The three-and-half page memo was released on Friday despite the strenuous objections of Democrats and Trump appointees at the FBI and DoJ who shared "grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo's accuracy" before its release. Trump didn't care. The document, made of partial, cherry-picked facts, is meant to suggest the FBI inappropriately obtained a secret warrant (and three renewals for it) from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to spy on Carter Page in late 2016. Page was a Trump campaign volunteer who had long been on the radar of the intelligence community after being cited in intercepts from Russian intelligence agents discussing him as an asset as early as 2013.

The newly declassified memo is the work of U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) and his staff, who may or may not have worked with the White House itself on the effort, but it ultimately appears to do little to bolster their argument that Republican Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe is in some way compromised by Democratic partisans. (Even Shepard Smith of Fox "News" seems to agree.)

It does, however, underscore concerns about the manner in which Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants are obtained in the secret FISA Court, where there is no adversarial opposition to the secret case offered by the Government. All of which begs the question as to why Nunes himself voted just two weeks ago against FISA reforms advocated by civil libertarians on the Right and Left, and in favor of extending and expanding the controversial surveillance law for another 6 years. It also begs the question as to why Trump signed that FISA extension without reforms to the process that he and Nunes are now claiming to be so troubled by. Again, that was all just two weeks ago! [My conversation on that matter on this show, two weeks ago with former DoJ attorney Elizabeth Goitein --- after Nunes and the House passed the bill, and just before Trump signed it --- is right here.]

Then, as the cable news channels continue to devote nearly 24/7 to political intrigue and food fights, a reminder that a fish rots from the head down. To that end, the petty cruelty of Donald Trump is permeating its way into executive branch agencies, polices and behavior with nowhere near the media sunlight it deserves. We cover a number of the under-reported recent stories of how his cruel, hard-line immigration policies are ripping families apart and hurting real people, right now, and at least one federal judge who drew a hard line in the sand this week against at least one aspect of those policies.

Finally, as promised earlier this week, a disturbing story about Diebold, the makers of ATMs and (formerly) of computer voting, registration and tabulation systems, and a newly-issued warning that their ATMs are being hacked to spit out cash in a scheme called "jackpotting". But while the security built into their machines that contain thousands of dollars of actual cash may not be great, you needn't worry about the security of their systems used to cast and count our votes in at least one-third of the country this year in our upcoming 2018 midterm elections, right? After all, neither Trump nor Nunes nor the rest of the Congressional Republicans appear to be too concerned about it, so why should you be?...

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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Trump chickens out; WI and AL block elections; More embarrassment for KS; Help for sharks; And a perfect gift for the First Family...
By Brad Friedman on 1/26/2018 6:13pm PT  

After yet another exhausting and harrowing week in Donald Trump's America, as the Doomsday Clock inches closer to midnight, we try to lighten things up a bit, at least comparatively, on today's BradCast --- even if it's not always easy. [Audio link to show follows below.]

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

  • A few words about Donald Trump's reported attempt to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller last June before chickening out, which the President describes today as "fake news";
  • Republicans are now, literally, trying to block democracy by preventing elections from happening at all. Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin and the GOP-controlled Alabama state legislature provide just the two latest examples;
  • Kansas' failed Governor Sam Brownback has, apparently, failed up, with an appointment by the Trump Administration, confirmed this past week by the U.S. Senate, after Vice President Mike Pence was brought in to break the tie vote in Brownback's favor;
  • Speaking of failures in the state of Kansas, their Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a long-time GOP "voter fraud" fraudster and now candidate for Governor, enjoys still more shame and ignominy this week, as it was discovered that he exposed private information, including the last four digits of social security numbers for thousands of state officials and employees --- including his own! --- on an unprotected Internet page;
  • The Guggenheim Museum declines to loan a valuable Vincent van Gogh painting to Donald and Melania Trump for use in their White House residence, but offers a solid gold alternative that seems perfect for the first family;
  • And, speaking of the first family, Trump's recently reported hatred of sharks --- revealed by adult film actress Stormy Daniels in the wake of revelations of her alleged affair with Donald Trump and $130,000 hush-money payoff just before the 2016 election --- has resulted in an outpouring of donations to shark charities across the nation and the world! See? Donald Trump can do some good in this world after all!

Finally, speaking of donations, as we celebrate The BRAD BLOG's 14th Anniversary this week (thanks to those who have stopped by BradBlog.com/Donate), a plea to support ALL independent progressive media, including whatever station or outlet you may use to enjoy listening to The BradCast every day!...

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: Nuclear analyst Stephen Schwartz on why the clock was moved forward, Trump's new 'Nuclear Posture Review', and Hawaii's false alarm...
By Brad Friedman on 1/25/2018 6:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast, a "grim assessment" and, hopefully, wake-up call from a group comprised of the nation's top nuclear (and climate) experts. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

While much of the corporate media continued their 24/7 coverage of Republicans' pretending there is a "secret society" at the FBI to take down President Trump and Democrats' ongoing speculation about what Special Counsel Robert Mueller may or may not be finding in his probe, an august body of nuclear and climate scientists offered yet another chilling warning to the world. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, keepers of the so-called "Doomsday Clock" since 1945, announced that they were moving the symbolic clock forward to two minutes to midnight, which is as close as the world has metaphorically been to apocalypse since the end of World War II, including at the height of the Cold War.

We're joined to discuss today's announcement and related matters by longtime nuclear weapons policy analyst STEPHEN SCHWARTZ, who formerly served for years as the Bulletin's Executive Director and Publisher, and now as an adjunct professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

Schwartz shares the fascinating origin of the Doomsday Clock's creation (originally meant as little more than a magazine cover), and offers insight into why the Bulletin's scientific board --- which includes 15 Nobel Laureates --- decided, for the second year in a row, to move the clock "thirty seconds" forward.

"This is the closest that it's ever been, as it was in 1953, when it hit two minutes. The furthest away was at 17 minutes to midnight in 1991, reflecting the end of the Cold War, the creation of the START Treaty that sharply reduced US and Soviet strategic nuclear weapons, and a general feeling at that point that we were moving very much in the right direction. Obviously, the people at the Bulletin today, and many people around the world, feel that we're moving very much in the wrong direction," Schwartz tells me, noting that while there are "far fewer nuclear weapons in the world today than in 1953 when the hands were last at 'two minutes to midnight'," we now have far more countries with their "fingers on proverbial buttons. Thus, he charges, the "the likelihood of nuclear weapons being used, whether by accident or design, is higher, certainly, than at any time since the Cold War ended."

"It's an interesting and obviously symbolic arbiter of global dangers," he explains. "And since about 2007 it also includes global warming in the mix, so it's not just about nuclear dangers."

At what is now "two minutes to midnight", we also discuss a draft report from the Pentagon of a new "Nuclear Posture Review" currently being reviewed for final release by the White House. The new Defense Department plan calls for, among other disturbing things, clearance for the President to launch a first strike nuclear attack in response to non-nuclear events such as a cyberwarfare attack on U.S. infrastructure.

"I think is really problematic," Schwartz warns, explaining how the new policy would set a very dangerous precedent not just for the U.S., but with other nuclear armed nations. "It just seems incredible that the first thing we would do if we were attacked via cyberwarfare is to start thinking about lobbing nuclear weapons. We're sending a very clear signal to every country in the world that has or wants nuclear weapons, 'Hey, this is what you should be thinking about doing with your nuclear arsenal.' And if they were to adopt our posture, it would come back to haunt us in a really big way."

We also talk about lessons learned from the recent false alarm of an incoming ballistic missile attack on Hawaii, how and why the terrifying alert was issued, similar such false alarms in recent U.S. history, and why this particular event highlights the many dangers of "Donald Trump's intemperate rhetoric and threats against [a nuclear-armed] North Korea."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report to help underscore the other major reason the Doomsday Clock was notched forward again today, as climate change has helped lead to the world's first major city about to completely run out of water, even as another major city in California becomes the 9th to sue the fossil fuel industry for damage to the climate.

All of that before we close today with a few listener comments on the milestone of The BRAD BLOG's 14th Anniversary of investigative journalism, blogging, broadcasting, trouble-making and muck-raking this week. (To that end, PLEASE consider a donation to our work on the form below, or at BradBlog.com/Donate! Thank you!!!)

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Guest: Justin George of The Marshall Project; Also: FL initiative to restore former felon voting rights qualifies for November ballot, dirty Trump Family laundry, and 14 years of muck-raking at The BRAD BLOG!...
By Brad Friedman on 1/24/2018 6:19pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we celebrate The BRAD BLOG's 14th anniversary of independent investigative blogging, journalism, broadcasting, trouble-making and muck-raking! Thanks to those who've stopped by BradBlog.com/Donate to help us continue into our 15th year! If you haven't done so yet, what's stopping you? We really need your help! [Audio link to today's show follow below.]

Beyond that, on today's program, we've got some encouraging news on voting rights in the state of Florida, believe it or not. A citizen initiative to allow former felons to vote has officially qualified for the state's November ballot, after an herculean effort to gather more than 800,000 qualified signatures by proponents who hope to help re-enfranchise some 1.7 million Floridians who have completed their sentences, many of them years ago.

While the grassroots effort has already been monumental --- as a segment from Sam Bee's Full Frontal highlighted last year --- the measure must still receive more than 60% approval from voters this November in order to amend the state's constitution. More former felons --- who are disproportionately African-American in FL --- are disqualified from voting in the Sunshine State than any other. Only they, Kentucky, Virginia and Iowa currently ban such citizens from voting for life. "Florida accounts for nearly 25 percent, or 1.6 million, of the people who have lost their right to vote" in the U.S., according to the ACLU. "As a result, one in ten Floridians are shut out of our democracy."

But, if it was up to the Trump Administration, there would be many more such felons in FL and everywhere else. We're joined today by criminal justice journalist JUSTIN GEORGE of The Marshall Project, to discuss his recent article looking at "Trump Justice, Year One: The Demolition Derby", in which he examines "nine ways Trump has transformed the landscape of criminal justice, just one tumultuous year into his presidency."

We discuss the many changes made by Trump's Department of Justice and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as they attempt to "demolish" the legacy of the Obama Administration. From their rhetoric and tone on crime, the "drug war" and immigration, to policy changes on policing, sentencing, mass incarceration, the private prison industry, and in stacking the federal bench with rightwingers, Team Trump is hoping to unwind many of the criminal justice reforms successfully enacted by Obama and his DoJ, particularly in the later years of his Presidency.

But have Trump and Sessions' attempts to rollback Obama's criminal justice legacy, to date, been particularly effective? And, for that matter, why did Obama's efforts at reform come so late in his Presidency?

We cover a lot of ground in my conversation with George today, before somewhat departing from our usual beat to close with a bit of dirty laundry, sleaze, speculation and rumor mongering concerning Donald and Melania Trump --- though we've got a reasonable justification for doing so today...mostly...

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Guest: Paul S. Ryan of Common Cause; Also: KY school shooting, Trump supporter threatens CNN, Dems' tough decision as next shutdown nears...
By Brad Friedman on 1/23/2018 6:08pm PT  

Did Donald Trump or the Trump Campaign or the Trump Organization violate federal law in a hush money payoff to a porn star? On today's BradCast, we speak with the lawyer from a good-government group that has now filed complaints with the Federal Elections Commission and Dept. of Justice to that end, which he describes as "a very obvious and very clear violation of federal campaign finance law." [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But first up today, the latest news on the latest school shooting, this time in rural Kentucky, where 12 students were shot, two of them killed, after a 15-year old student unleashed a barrage of gunfire at Marshall County High School just before classes were set to begin on Tuesday morning. It was the first fatal school shooting of 2018, though reportedly the 9th since the first of the year, and 283rd since 2013. In related news, a 19-year old apparent Trump supporter was arrested after repeatedly threatening CNN's Atlanta headquarters earlier this month on the heels of the President's continued targeting of the news network as "fake news".

Then, we discuss some of the newly reported details outlining how it is that Senate Democrats caved on Monday in their government shutdown standoff with Trump and Republicans in regard to protecting some 800,000 "Dreamers" from deportation, including evidence to strongly suggest we are quickly heading towards another shutdown and/or cave in just over two weeks time when the stop-gap spending measure passed on Monday night runs out.

Next, we're joined by PAUL S. RYAN, Vice President of Policy & Litigation at Common Cause, to discuss the two complaints filed on Monday with the FEC [PDF] and with the DoJ [PDF] regarding the payoff made via a shell company set up by Trump's attorney Michael Cohen, allegedly to buy the silence of adult film actress Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) just before the 2016 Presidential election. Trump is alleged to have had an affair, according to the Wall Street Journal, with Clifford/Daniels in 2006, shortly after his wife Melania had given birth to their son.

Ryan and Common Causes' complaints contend that the $130,000 payout appears to have been an unlawful, unreported in-kind donation to the Trump campaign, funded either by the Trump Organization, another person or corporation or Trump himself which, in any of those cases, would be a violation of the Federal Elections Campaign Act (FECA). The longtime campaign finance attorney explains the law in question and handicaps the odds of whether the FEC or DoJ will take action in response.

"At a minimum here," Ryan tells me, detailing who may be culpable, "we seem to be looking at a campaign finance disclosure violation --- because the Trump Campaign Committee didn't report any of this --- and, unless the money came from Trump's own pocket, then we're also talking about a contribution violation, as well."

While the question of who put up the $130k is still unknown, he argues that there is no legitimate way to argue that the payout --- given its timing, shortly after the Access Hollywood "grab 'em by the pussy" tape came out, and the multiple allegations of sexual misconduct from nearly 20 women --- was not meant to influence the election by keeping Daniels from talking to the press. "The timing, with the imminent threat by Stormy Daniels that she was going public with her story, to me, makes this clearly stand as a payment that was all about the election and keeping her quiet up to and until the election."

In related matters, Ryan also offers a few quick takes in response to some questions I had on several other recent news events from the past 24 hours or so, including whether the Trump Administration violated the law with their partisan outgoing voice message on the White House comment line during the shutdown over the weekend; whether any laws were violated by a Monday night dinner meeting on what are said to have been "important issues facing our country", between several Republican Senators, members of Trump's cabinet and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch; and whether Republicans in Pennsylvania have a leg to stand on in their promise to make a federal case out of a Monday ruling by the state Supreme Court ordering the GOP-controlled state legislature to immediately redraw the state's U.S. House district maps, in time for the 2018 primaries, after the maps were found to have been illegally gerrymandered under Pennsylvania's Constitution to discriminate against non-Republican voters.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on Monday's natural gas rig explosion in Oklahoma, new tariffs on solar panels instituted by Trump, and environmental fallout from the Congressional battle over a government spending bill. [Photo above via MySpace/Stormy Daniels.]

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Guest: Elizabeth Goitein of Brennan Center; Also: Dems flip a GOP seat in WI; Sex scandals go overlooked; Mass resignation at Nat'l Park Service...
By Brad Friedman on 1/17/2018 6:21pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Donald Trump and his Great American Shitshow continues today, though he has now received a very helpful hand from Congressional Democrats, for reasons that may beggar the imagination. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up today, a quick word on the allegations regarding $130k in hush money said, by the Wall Street Journal, to have been paid by Donald Trump to a porn star just before the 2016 election, reportedly to hide a sexual liaison during his marriage with the now-First Lady, and on the sordid sex and blackmail scandal now roiling Missouri's new "family values" Republican governor, Eric Greitens. In normal times, of course, both stories would be huge news everywhere and we'd be discussing impeachment and/or resignation of both men. These days, however, each scandal is barely breaking the national news radar.

Then, more encouraging election news for Democrats this week in Tuesday's special elections around the country, with Dems flipping another long-held Republican seat in a deeply "red' area, this time in the Wisconsin State Senate. The results seem to be freaking out the state's controversial GOP Governor Scott Walker in advance of his own re-election contest later this year and signals a possible Dem takeover of the state Senate in advance of 2020 redistricting!

Next, Congress is on the verge of reauthorizing a warrantless mass surveillance program that civil libertarians on the right and left have long opposed and characterize as a blatant violation of the U.S. Constitution's 4th Amendment privacy protections against unwarranted search and seizure. Last week, after Trump made it clear he had no idea what Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act actually was --- despite his administrations' long time lobbying of Congress to reauthorize and, indeed, expand it, it for another 6 years --- Republicans in the U.S. House passed it with the help of several Democrats (including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi).

This week in the U.S. Senate, a bi-partisan group lead by Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) fell one vote shy of blocking the measure through a filibuster. So it now appears the legislation will clear both houses and sent to Trump for his signature.

We're joined today by ELIZABETH GOITEIN, former Dept. of Justice attorney, now co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at NYU's Brennan Center for Justice, to explain Section 702, the efforts to lobby against its reauthorization, and why it is that many Congressional Democrats are willing to join Republicans in granting the Trump Administration's NSA, DHS, FBI, DOJ, CIA, etc., extraordinary new powers to secretly spy on every American citizen's phone calls and emails without warrant, due diligence or even probable cause.

While the legislation was "driven primarily by Republican leadership," she says, there were "enough Tea Party style Republicans who have really rallied in support of greater privacy protections" that some marginal reforms were added. Though, she explains, they aren't really reforms at all, and the entire dangerous package could not have moved forward had Dems stuck together in opposition.

"It's a failure of Democratic leadership," Goitein tells me. "At the last minute, [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer said he would vote no on cloture [to end the filibuster] --- but he hedged that and said, 'Amendments should be in order and we should have the chance to look at amendments, but the bill itself is not that bad, it makes improvements to the law'. Which is not true. It actually takes the law backwards. Minority Leader Pelosi in the House did even more damage...coming out in support of the bill and opposing the amendment that would have made these improvement. And then a whole bunch of Democrats went along with her."

Goitein argues "there was a full court press by intelligence officials" to pass this measure. So, even Trump's cluelessness about it was unable to prevent it from moving forward, even as it allows for the emails of two American citizens speaking to each other --- with no foreign target in the mix --- to be indexed, searched and read by the FBI without an order from any court. She explains the horrible details in depth on today's show, and why it has been so difficult to challenge this provision in a court of law.

Finally, nearly every member of the bipartisan National Park Service Advisory Board has resigned en masse this week, citing the Interior Department and its Secretary Ryan Zinke's failure to hold any meetings with the board, as required by law, during the entire first year of Trump's Presidency. The Administration's response to the mass resignation today is almost as disturbing, if not more so, than the resignation itself.

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Guest: Mike Liszewski of Drug Policy Alliance; Also: Goodbye, Chris Christie and other encouraging news from the states...
By Brad Friedman on 1/16/2018 5:39pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the consequences of elections, from D.C. on immigration, to VA and NJ on gun safety legislation, and across both D.C. and dozens of states when it comes to marijuana policy under Trump's Attorney General. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

The White House, lawmakers and corporate media continue to squabble today over Donald Trump's racist and reportedly vulgar slur of black majority nations as either "shitholes" or "shithouses" during a bipartisan meeting on immigration last week, even as his Departments of Justice and Homeland Security issued a new and misleading report on terrorism that downplays the far greater threat of domestic attacks by homegrown white Americans, in favor of a focus on foreign-born terrorists.

In the meantime, as the White House and Congress attempt to strike a government spending deal that includes protections for DACA recipients in time to avoid a government shutdown at the end of this week, a changing of the guards in both New Jersey and Virginia following last November's elections is taking place and already reshuffling public policy.

NJ's wildly unpopular Republican Gov. Chris Christie was finally replaced on Tuesday by the new Democratic Governor Phil Murphy, one day after Christie finally signed a law that will ban deadly bumpstock devices, like those used to kill 58 people and wound hundreds of others in minutes in Las Vegas last year, in the Garden State. (To his discredit, he had little choice, as the legislation passed both state chambers with zero votes opposing it.)

At the same time, in VA, where Republicans managed to barely hang on to majorities in the state legislature, thanks to some gaming of several House races and of legislative district maps across the state (allowing them to retain control despite losing statewide by a 55% to 45% margin), the GOP's majority control in the state Senate resulted in the gutting of most of the gun safety agenda on which that state's new Democratic Governor Ralph Northam ran and won by a landslide.

Then, we head back to D.C., where Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced after the turn of the new year that the DoJ was reversing Obama-era enforcement guidance on federal law, in order to crack down on states where marijuana has been made legal for medicinal and/or recreational use after decades of prohibition.

As Drug Policy Alliance advisor and marijuana legislation lobbyist MIKE LISZEWSKI joins us to explain, the new DoJ guidance, rolling back the so-called "Cole Memo" from the Obama years, has not gone over well, even with a number of Republican lawmakers, particularly those from cannabis-friendly states where they have seen a dramatic rise in tax revenue thanks to new policies adopted by voters and state lawmakers.

"The Cole Memo was just guidance, it was never binding. But by removing it, Sessions has really given the green light to US Attorneys throughout the country to say, if you want to prosecute against state marijuana conduct you have our backing," Liszewski tells me, before arguing that there is no need for such policy, given that state laws, where pot has been legalized, are already very tough. "If someone was using a state marijuana law to shield some sort of bad activity, they're clearly in violation of state law. There's so much oversight, you're likely going to get caught rather quickly. So there's really no need for additional federal prosecution. It's really addressing a concern that doesn't actually exist --- unless you have some hysterical views about marijuana."

Sessions, of course, famously has views. Last year, for example, he famously stated that marijuana was "only slightly less awful" than heroin. Liszewski breaks down the DoJ's announced change in prosecutorial guidance and the effect it is likely to have (if any) in pro-cannabis states where, he says, it has "turned out to be wonderful for generating state tax revenue...in terms of the money it's pulling in, but also the law enforcement resources, the jail resources, the court resources, that don't have to go into prosecuting low-level marijuana cases."

We also discuss how Congress may still be able to move forward on drug policy under an Attorney General who is an avowed enemy of pot users and a President who claims to favor states' rights on the matter. Congress, Liszewski argues, is close to having the votes to end prohibition at the federal level all together, if it doesn't have those votes already. But, he says, thanks to a few "old guard" Committee Chairs in Congress, it may take a full reshuffling of the deck in the 2018 mid-term elections to see it actually happen.

"The 2018 elections are going to be so crucial to the future of marijuana reform," he says. "Because whether it's a shift in which party controls each chamber, or if it's just voting out the old guard and getting some new Republicans in, either way would be helpful towards ending federal marijuana prohibition."

"It would be very, very difficult to get the genie back in the bottle at this point," Liszewski adds, "especially seeing a good number of Republicans as well as states continuing to move forward right after the Sessions announcement. It really shows that Sessions is alone on an island with this and has very few supporters. I think the writing is on the wall."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Ryan Reilly of Huff Post; Also: House re-ups dragnet surveillance, Trump has no idea what it is, and calls Haiti and Africa 'shitholes'...
By Brad Friedman on 1/11/2018 6:35pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Who's actually running this disastrous Administration? And why don't they give a damn about terrorism when it's at the hands of white, domestic, neo-Nazis? That question may answer itself. But what's the excuse for Congress and media? [Audio link to full show at end of article.]

First up, today in the U.S. House, Republicans, with the help of a number of Democrats, voted to approve the re-authorization of a sweeping surveillance law --- Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act --- that results in the phone calls and emails of millions of Americans being scooped up for review without cause or court warrant. Civil libertarians on both the Right and Left have been hoping, for years, to end or radically limit the dragnet measure which they say violates Constitutional rights to privacy and against unwarranted search and seizure.

Though the White House has been lobbying for this re-authorization, which must still be approved in the U.S. Senate, a tweet this morning by Donald Trump, while watching Fox "News", harshly criticized the measure. Following that tweet, two hours later, after a call from House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and chaos in the House GOP caucus in response to the tweet, the President took to Twitter again, this time in support of the measure, which he clearly knows nothing about.

Only his later description of Haiti and African nations as "shithole countries", as reportedly uttered during bi-partisan immigration negotiations today with lawmakers, moved the nation's media on to the next Trump embarrassment of the day.

In the meantime, as Trump and Congressional Republicans pretend to be concerned about terrorism and putting "America first", a major terrorism case brought by the Dept. of Justice just before Christmas has gone almost entirely unnoticed by the media, after the DoJ itself failed to even issue a statement on the recent arrest. Why? The obvious reason is that it involves a white supremacist neo-Nazi from Missouri (as opposed to someone with a middle-eastern sounding name) who had amassed an arsenal of deadly weapons in hopes of allegedly "killing black people". But there are several other reasons why the case has largely failed to become much more than a blip on the corporate media and cable news radar, much less be mentioned by either the DoJ or tweeted about by Donald Trump.

We're joined by HuffPost's senior justice reporter RYAN REILLY to discuss the matter today. Reilly has been investigating the disturbing lack of coverage of a case which includes an Amtrak train stopped by the accused 26-year old right-winger, Taylor Michael Wilson, in the dead of night in the middle of rural Nebraska several months ago, before he was arrested, then released on bail for several weeks, before finally being charged on a number of federal terrorism counts before Christmas.

"When I didn't see the story pop up until Friday, I was like wait, how did I miss this? What's going on? Federal prosecutors are charging a white supremacist with terrorism?," Reilly says, explaining why the case in which Wilson was originally charged with "criminal mischief" went unnoticed by media and unreported by law enforcement officials, who are usually eager to get publicity for terrorism cases.

"The broader issue is that it's a demonstration, an illustration of exactly how differently the Justice Department apparatus, and the national security apparatus of the US Government, treats domestic terrorism in comparison to anything that remotely has a sniff of anything related to Islamic terrorism," Reilly tells me. The reasons, for that, above and beyond strictly racism (which is certainly a large part of this), may be more complicated than you think, both statutorily and Constitutionally. None of those reasons, as we also discuss, necessarily excuse the media's apparent lack of interest in such cases, despite the fact that domestic terror remains a far greater threat to Americans than the threat posed by those claiming an association with international terror groups.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on the tragic climate disaster unfolding in Southern California which has, so far, taken 17 lives in the past several days; the Trump Administration's about-face on its recently announced expansion of off-shore drilling (but only for one politically important state); and an important lawsuit filed this week by New York City, along with the promise of divestiture, against major oil companies. The suit could prove to be a serious blow against the fossil fuel industry, and is said to have been filed in response to billions of dollars in climate change-related damages after years of those companies hiding their own scientific knowledge of climate change from the public...

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All of that and more evidence of wheels coming off everywhere...
By Brad Friedman on 1/4/2018 6:03pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The wheels seem to be coming off everywhere. That's both good and bad news. [Audio link to show follows below.]

We start here: After a two month back and forth since the November 2017 off-year elections in Virginia, it appears that Republicans will retain --- if just barely --- their majority control of the Virginia House of Delegates (for now) following a random drawing out of a bowl in Richmond today resulted in Republican David Yancey being named the winner over Democrat Shelly Simonds.

That, despite a "recount" in the 94th District race finding the Democrat had won, until a Republican observer changed his mind and a Republican Circuit Court panel of judges agreed with him. That was followed by a rejected court challenge by the Democrat, today's random drawing to determine the winner of that court-declared tie, a likely second "recount" to come in the same race, a court challenge to a separate very close race in the 28th district decided by 73 votes with at least 147 voters receiving the wrong ballot entirely, and Democrats across the obscenely gerrymandered state having out-voted Republicans by a "landslide" 10% margin in the November 7, 2017 elections.

We detail all of that today --- including my brief, if telling, email conversation with the election official in the city of Newport News who supposedly oversaw the race in the 94th district. And, for the record, here is a JPG of the one single ballot in question which led to the current tie.

Then, in other election related news, we move on to Donald Trump's monumentally failed "voter fraud" Commission, disastrously helmed by longtime GOP "voter fraud" fraudster and Kansas Sec. of State Kris Kobach. The Commission, created after Trump's evidence-free assertions that millions of unlawful votes were cast against him in 2016, has been besieged with lawsuits against it, including by one of its own Commissioners. But there may be another reason that Trump suddenly, and without notice to anyone, disbanded it entirely by Executive Order on Wednesday evening: he got mad at Steve Bannon. Democrats and voting rights advocates are rejoicing after the news, but will the dissolution of the Commission result in even more concerns for advocates of free and fair elections?

Speaking of which, heads up! Trump's Dept. of Justice appears to have a new idea for how to game the 2020 Census (which is also an election-related issue).

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for a bone-chilling first Green News Report of the new year, as a dangerous blast from the melting Arctic slams much of the country, the Trump Administration guts even more environmental and safety regulations over the holiday weekend when few were noticing, before announcing a new disturbing scheme today to open up 90 percent of nation's off-shore oil reserves to new commercial drilling.

The wheels seem to be coming off both the world and the Trump Administration. We'll hope for the latter in time to prevent the former...

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Guest: The Intercept's Jon Schwarz; Plus: Kobach loses in court; Battle over election results and control of VA House continues...
By Brad Friedman on 12/27/2017 5:55pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the GOP has made an industry out of protecting their power and their Presidents, from Richard Nixon right up through Donald Trump. And neither the Democrats nor the corporate media seem to have figured out how to counter the Right's radical transformation of the American political landscape over the past 40+ years. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But first today, a bit of voting and election news: A federal judge on Friday, just before the Christmas holiday, found in favor of Maine's Democratic Sec. of State Matt Dunlap after he was forced to sue Donald Trump's so-called "Election Integrity" Commission headed up by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas' Republican Sec. of State --- and infamous GOP "voter fraud" fraudster --- Kris Kobach. Dunlap had sued because, even though he is on the Commission itself, Kobach and the other rightwing fraudsters on it had been withholding documents and keeping Dunlap completely out of the decision making process. While that was a loss for the Government, a separate lawsuit against the Commission, filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), was rejected by a federal Appeals Court on Tuesday, on the basis that the group did not have standing to sue.

Also today, an update on the November 7th, 94th District Virginia House of Delegates race where Democrat Shelly Simonds appeared to have unseated Republican David Yancey by one single vote, until one of the Republican election official judges decided, the day after a "recount" was completed last week, that a previously discarded over-vote ballot [JPG] was actually a vote for the Republican after all. A three-judge court panel of GOP-appointed judges agreed, which meant the race was tied and the winner would be determined --- along with the balance of control of the Virginia House, which had been controlled by the GOP for decades --- by a random draw. That draw, scheduled for Wednesday, was postponed late on Tuesday by the state's Election Commission at Simonds request, while she challenges the three-judge panel's ruling in court.

Then, with the calls intensifying from the Fox "News" rightwing for Trump to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, are Democrats doing enough to counter the Constitutional Crisis that would likely ensue if he did so? For that matter, how have we arrived at a moment in American history when an investigation by a Republican Special Prosecutor into the firing of a Republican FBI Director by a Republican President can be considered a partisan Democratic witch hunt?!

JON SCHWARZ of The Intercept joins us to discuss the historical chain of events, connecting the dots of lawless GOP Presidential administrations from (at least) Richard Nixon up through Donald Trump, to illustrate exactly how we got here. In his recent historical essay, he details a fairly direct line of actions taken by the right during and after Nixon, right up through the present, that has largely prevented real accountability for lawless Republican Presidents, while both the Democrats and the corporate media have continued to pull their punches for various reasons.

"The history of Watergate has been completely rewritten in the past 45 years," Schwarz explains. "The reality is that it just barely succeeded. All of the investigations, all of the obvious, blatant wrongdoing by Nixon was just barely enough to get him out of office. Under other circumstances --- if the Republicans had controlled Congress, if they'd had Fox News then, if they'd had decades of appointing people to the courts --- it's very likely that Nixon would have stayed in office, and people would remember it as just a minor blip."

As is, he tells me, Nixon still escaped accountability for the worst of his crimes including collusion with a foreign power which resulted in the deaths of thousands of Americans, and an untold number of others in Indochina. "It's kind of shocking how this has been completely kept out of history."

Nonetheless, during his administration, a young Nixon staffer by the name of Roger Ailes came up with "A Plan for Putting the GOP on TV News," which would eventually become Fox "News", while a separate if related scheme by a future Supreme Court Justice that became known as the "Powell Memo", helped to restructure the federal judiciary and paved the way for the corporate takeover of our electoral and political system. "It describes exactly what has happened for the last forty, forty-five years," Schwarz notes. "They laid out a plan and they executed it, and it worked."

And now, we live in a world where only Republicans allowed to be appointed to investigate Presidents, whether they are Republicans or Democrats, and only Republicans have ever been appointed as FBI Directors, even by Democratic Presidents. And, despite that, we now hear the ever-increasing drumbeat charging that Mueller's investigation is a "partisan Democratic witch hunt", leaving Dems fighting among themselves as to whether they should push for impeachment, and the media pulling punches when reporting on GOP Administrations.

"If Hillary Clinton were President and had done the things that Donald Trump has done," Schwarz argues, "everyone knows she would have already been impeached 97 times."

Finally, we close today with some related listener e-mail, a few more thoughts on the Powell Memo, and a few words of thanks to those of you who have stopped by BradBlog.com/Donate to help us try and continue BradCasting into the new year...

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