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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, August 21, 2018
The Attempted 2018 Voter Suppression Begins:
'BradCast' 8/20/18
And other news, both good and bad, around the country and world, 78 days out from the midterm elections...
Sunday Dog Eat Dog Toons
Another week, another toon collection from 'PDiddie', as the bad guys turn on themselves and the still-free press strikes back...
The Daily Sociopath Report: 'BradCast' 8/17/18
Guest-Host Angie Coiro with 'Gaius Publius' (Thomas Neuburger); Also: Keeping the arts alive in the era of Trump, w/ David Gans, Meredith Hagedorn, Ronit Widmann-Levy...
So, Who's 'The Enemy of
the People' Again?:
'BradCast' 8/16/18
Newspapers push back as GOPers agree with Trump's Nixonian attacks on media; Trade war leads to U.S. factory closures; Trump's $92M parade; Zinke's lie; Pruitt's desk; RIP Aretha...
'Green News Report' 8/16/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
British Columbia on fire; Monsanto slammed by RoundUp judgment; 11 months later, power back on in P.R.; PLUS: Despite earlier denials, Interior Dept. plans to sell off public lands...
Previous GNRs: 8/14/18 - 8/9/18 - Archives...
CT, VT, MN, WI Primaries: Landmark Wins, Battles Ahead: 'BradCast' 8/15/18
Guest: John Nichols; Also: Surprise concession in KS GOP Guv primary; CO's anti-gay cake baker is back in court...
Why GOP Sees Trump/Russia as Whitewater More Than Watergate: 'BradCast' 8/14/18
Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton; Also: KS GOP Guv update; MO Repubs elect a Nazi; Zinke calls environmentalists 'terrorists'...
'Green News Report' 8/14/18
Admin using CA fires to undermine endangered species, push for logging; Amid record heat, Glacier Nat'l Park on fire; PLUS: Court orders EPA to ban dangerous pesticide...
Chinese Song Found on US Voting System, 11-Year Old Hacks Mock SoS Website: 'BradCast' 8/13/2018
And more news from DEF CON Vote Hacking Village. Guest: Documentarian Lulu Friesdat...
Federal Court Expedites Motion to Compel Use of Paper Ballots in GA Midterms
Citing 'gravity and importance' of right to accurate counts, court orders parties focus on 'practical realities' of converting to hand-marked paper ballots within 3 months...
Sunday 'To Insanity and Beyond' Toons
PDiddie continues his years-long mission exploring our strange new world via political cartoons, as we all go where no Americans have gone before...
The Real Story Behind Trump's Bizarre CA Wildfire Tweets: 'BradCast' 8/10/18
Guest: Michael Hiltzik of L.A. Times; Also: KS GOP Guv fight worsens; Good news for NC voters; Bad news for Monsanto; Trump 'Making Asbestos Great Again'...
'Green News Report' 8/9/18
Trump bringing asbestos back!; CA pushes back at EPA on emission standards, as state shatters record for hottest rainfall; PLUS: Surviving 'Hothouse Earth'...
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...


Newspapers push back as GOPers agree with Trump's Nixonian attacks on media; Trade war leads to U.S. factory closures; Trump's $92M parade; Zinke's land lie; Pruitt's toxic desk; Poison in your cereal; RIP Aretha...
By Brad Friedman on 8/16/2018 6:43pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: On the 47th anniversary of the Nixon White House creating its then-confidential "enemies list" featuring, among others, many members of the media, Donald Trump's intensifying attacks on the press have now resulted in a majority of Republicans (51%) believing that the press is the "enemy of the people" rather than "an important part of democracy", according to a new Quinnipiac poll finding just 36% of self-identified GOPers agree with the latter. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

(Though I've also got a few thoughts and, perhaps, a warning on today's show regarding what to make of polling of self-identified Republicans these days. I think it's very possible our polls may now be broken, as we discuss a bit today.)

In response to the repeated and worsening attacks on the press by the President of the United States, some 350 newspapers today issued editorials in support of press freedoms. We join them in calling for support of media outlets --- particularly local newspapers and independent outlets --- who are struggling to stay alive and, yet, are needed more now than ever. (Yes, we too welcome your support for the same reason.)

That, as evidence continues to come to light underscoring the lies told to the American people by Donald Trump and the GOP while selling their tax cuts for the rich and corporations to the American people. In fact, those tax cuts won't not "pay for themselves" (the federal deficit this year will now be close to $1 trillion, thanks to plummeting revenue to the government in the wake of the cuts to the wealthy and corporations), nor have they increased wages for members of the working class (who are now making less than they did before the cuts, thanks to inflation and pay that has remained largely stagnant for workers.)

Less than three months out from the crucial 2018 midterms, Trump's tariffs and trade wars are continuing to worsen their toll on workers as well. Factories are shutting down or moving jobs to Mexico and other "off shore" locations in order to survive new added costs of tariffs on imported manufacturing supplies from China and elsewhere.

And, speaking of con jobs by this President, a new report finds his planned military parade, scheduled just days after the upcoming midterm elections, is now estimated to cost taxpayers some $92 million. That is some $80 million higher than a report on the parade's estimated cost last month, which was "only" $12 million at the time. That lower price tag is almost as much as the cost of military exercises with South Korea that Trump cancelled after his recent summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un because, at $14 million, they were "tremendously expensive" and, he tweeted, "we save a fortune" by not holding them. (Shortly after we got off air today, new reports suggest the military parade will now be postponed until 2019...if it's ever held at all.)

Also today, before we get to today's Green News Report', a brief tribute to the life and civil rights legacy of Aretha Franklin, the beloved "Queen of Soul", who died today at the age of 76.

Then, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest GNR, in which --- among many other stories --- Interior Dept. Secretary Ryan Zinke is revealed as a liar for promising, upon taking office, that public lands would not be sold off. In fact, as reported this week, his Department has now drawn up draft plans to do exactly that.

So, if you're keeping track this week, the President of the United States has called the press "the enemy of the people" and "very disgusting", while the head of his Interior Department has called mainstream environmental groups "terrorists". But it's Democrats, we are told, who are being uncivil in their response to this Administration.

Finally, a disturbing follow-up to today's GNR for people who eat food, after last week's $289 million jury award to a man with terminal cancer, after determining that Monsanto knowingly sold toxic RoundUp weed killer despite studies finding that it causes cancer. And, in related news, recently obtained internal EPA emails reveal that its disgraced and now former chief Scott Pruitt's staff were very concerned about formaldehyde used in a desk they were considering purchasing for his newly remodeled office, even as the agency blocked the release of a public report highlighting the dangers of the very same carcinogen in public drinking water...

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

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Guest: Wisconsin's own John Nichols; Also: Surprise concession in KS GOP Guv primary; CO's anti-gay cake baker is back in court...
By Brad Friedman on 8/15/2018 6:06pm PT  

There was a little something for everyone, it seems, in Tuesday's primary elections in Vermont, Connecticut, Minnesota and Wisconsin. We cover as much of it as we can on today's BradCast, as voters in all but 10 states have now selected their candidates for the crucial 2018 midterms. [Audio link to show follows below.]

There were a lot of "firsts" and reasons for Democrats to be optimistic about November, based on the reported results today, and some of that optimism comes from races that Donald Trump believes he is happy about today, as his party moves farther and farther to the right to become the Party of Trump. It should also be noted that many of the Democratic winners on Tuesday were both progressive and political newcomers.

Among the many noteworthy contests on Tuesday covered on today's show, we now have the first transgender person to become a major party nominee for Governor (Christine Hallquist in VT); the first African-American woman to likely represent New England in the U.S. House (former teen mother turned "Teacher of the Year", Jahana Hayes in CT); the first Somali-American refugee who will likely become one of two of the first Muslim women to be elected to Congress (Ilhan Omar in MN); a stunning upset in Minnesota's Republican gubernatorial primary (front-runner and former two-term Gov. Tim Pawlenty was crushed by Trump-endorsed Jeff Johnson); and there were some encouraging Democratic wins in Wisconsin and victories over moderate GOPers by fully Trumped-up Republicans in several races.

We're joined today by native Wisconsinite and longtime progressive journalist JOHN NICHOLS of The Nation and of Madison, WI's Capitol Times for analysis and insight on all of the above, as WI's controversial, union-busting, two-term Republican Gov. Scott Walker faces his greatest political challenge this November against Tuesday's Democratic nominee, state school superintendent Tony Evers, and as the Democrats' face a tough fight to flip retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan's seat from "red" to "blue" with the Bernie Sanders-endorsed iron-worker and union organizer turned first time politician, Randy Bryce.

We cover a LOT of ground on today's show (including the late domestic abuse allegations against MN Rep. Keith Ellison, who easily won his Democratic primary in the state's Attorney General's race), so it's best I just let you listen rather than try to summarize Nichols' keen insights on Tuesday's races and more.

Also today: Democrats celebrate Governor Jeff Colyer's surprising sudden concession last night to Kansas Sec. of State Kris Kobach in the razor-thin battle for the GOP Gubernatorial nomination following last week's primary in the state; And the anti-gay Colorado baker/bigot who refused to bake a cake for a gay couple's wedding, under the pretext of "religious liberty", is now back in court after refusing to sell a cake to a transgender customer...

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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Recognizing the 'gravity and importance' of right to an accurate count, court directs parties in lawsuit to focus on 'practical realities' of converting to hand-marked paper ballot system within 3 months...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/13/2018 10:46am PT  

Plaintiffs in a Georgia lawsuit seeking to force the state to move to a hand-marked paper ballot system in time for this year's midterm elections, promise to produce expert testimony to the court, demonstrating that "Georgia's voting system is a catastrophically open invitation to malicious actors intent on disrupting our democracy."

The Coalition for Good Governance and a group of multi-partisan individual plaintiffs filed a motion [PDF] on July 31, seeking a preliminary injunction in the federal case, to prevent Georgia from conducting this year's midterms on the state's notorious Diebold AccuVote TS (touchscreen) Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines. Instead, plaintiffs seek an order that Georgia's election officials utilize, for in-person voting, the same already-certified, Diebold paper ballot-based optical-scan system currently used for tabulation of the Peach State's absentee ballots.

Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg ordered an expedited briefing schedule on plaintiffs' motion to compel the State of Georgia to adopt this simple method for conducting a verifiable paper ballot election on November 6, 2018.

The plaintiffs cite a massive body of scientific evidence finding the 100% unverifiable Diebold touchscreen systems as essentially electronic black holes, prone to unintended systemic failures and vulnerable to all manner of undetectable malicious manipulation by insiders or anyone else who acquires minimal access to the system or any of its machines. They also point to evidence that the statewide system was previously compromised via the Internet. Plaintiffs argue the 16-year old system deprives the electorate of their constitutional right not only to cast a vote but to have their vote accurately counted.

Recognizing "the gravity and importance of the constitutional issues," the court directed the parties (principally GA Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the state's GOP nominee for governor), as well as the plaintiffs to address "the practical realities surrounding implementation of the requested relief in the next one to three months." Judge Totenberg asks defendants to address the "practical realities" issue in a response by August 14. Plaintiffs' reply is then due by August 20.

The question before the court is monumental and could help set a precedent across the country in other jurisdictions where voters are forced to use unverifiable touchscreens on Election Day, rather than a paper ballot system that is already available via the absentee systems used in all 50 states.

As we documented last year, in "Why Do Georgia Election Officials Insist on 100% Unverifiable Elections?", if the court issues the preliminary injunction, November 6, 2018 would mark the first time in more than a decade and a half that the State of Georgia will have held an election in which it will be possible for human beings to verify or refute the accuracy of an electronic vote tally, thanks to the use of hand-marked paper ballots...

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




Guest: Brendan Fischer of Campaign Legal Center; Also, new numbers in OH-12, KS GOP Guv primary, Puerto Rico's Hurricane Maria death toll...
By Brad Friedman on 8/9/2018 5:55pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Understanding two new, seemingly conflicting directives on "dark money" in campaigns --- one of them very encouraging --- and a new complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission charging several GOP Senators unlawfully colluded with the NRA during the 2014 and 2016 elections. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, adjusting some numbers! In this past Tuesday's very close U.S. House Special Election in Ohio's (previously, very Republican) 12th Congressional District, the Trump-endorsed GOP candidate Troy Balderson was reportedly up over Democrat Danny O'Connor by just over 1,700 votes out of about 200,000 tallied on election night in the closely watched, bellwether race. On Wednesday, however, Franklin County's Board of Elections discovered an electronic cartridge from one precinct, with 588 votes stored on it, had not been included in the original unofficial tallies. With those ballots now added, O'Connor has netted 190 additional votes over Balderson, lowering the current unofficial margin in the contest to just 0.8 points. A margin of 0.5 or less would trigger an automatic "recount", as thousands of provisional and late vote-by-mail ballots are still being processed.

In Kansas, Tuesday's even tighter race between Sec. of State Kris Kobach and Gov. Jeff Colyer for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, saw its margin cut by more than half, from 191 votes to just 91, out of some 311,000 cast. The adjustment appears due to an incorrectly entered number by the Sec. of State's office on Tuesday night. The controversial, hard-right Kobach's razor-thin lead may further erode (or expand) as some 10,000 provisional and late mail-in ballots are still to be processed. A recount in that contest is all but certain.

Meanwhile, Puerto Rico, in an official statement to Congress, now acknowledges that at least 1,427 were killed during and after Hurricane Maria last year, a vastly different figure than the island's still-official death toll of 64. The new numbers place Maria's death toll much closer to the 1,833 said to have been killed during and after 2005's Hurricane Katrina. We discuss why it has been so difficult for Puerto Rican officials to acknowledge those far-higher numbers, long ago estimated by many experts.

Then we're joined by BRENDAN FISCHER, Associate Counsel at the Washington D.C.'s Campaign Legal Center (CLC), to help explain several important, if seemingly conflicting, pieces of campaign finance related news. About two weeks ago, the Treasury Department announced that non-profits who spend money on political campaigns --- so-called "Dark Money" groups --- would no longer be required to disclose the names of their donors to the IRS. The timing of that new policy, Fischer notes, "was pretty terrible. It happened on the same day that federal prosecutors charged Maria Butina with being an unregistered Russian agent who tried to influence American politics through the NRA, which had spent at least $35 million through its 501c4 [non-profit political action committee] arm during the last election cycle."

"So, if you're concerned about foreign money in elections, you should be really concerned about the Treasury Dept. stating that 501c4s, like [Karl Rove's] Crossroads GPS or the NRA, no longer have to disclose their top donors to the IRS."

Then, a week or so later, last Friday, a federal judge ordered the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to rewrite their current rules, within 45 days, in order to require the disclosure of the names of donors to many of those same "dark money" groups. Fischer details how the new mandate from Judge Beryl Howell, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, differs from the Treasury Dept. directive and, in fact, could be very good news indeed for those who believe in transparency and public oversight of elections!

"If the FEC was doing its job, then it wouldn't matter quite so much if the IRS was not collecting this information," Fischer tells me. "Judge Howell said that the FEC has been failing at its job, and it needs to go back to the drawing board and draft new rules that are going to ensure effective donor disclosure for certain types of political advertising."

"Judge Howell's decision is a reminder that the FEC is largely to blame for the rise of dark money. It's not just the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United, it also is in large part the fault of the FEC for failing to enforce the laws that are on the books. The Supreme Court has endorsed donor disclosure, and the laws passed by Congress say that donors to politically active dark money groups must be disclosed. It falls to the FEC to draft the rules that interpret laws passed by Congress and to enforce those rules. But what the FEC has done is draft rules that narrow the donor disclosure laws passed by Congress, and then they failed to enforce even those narrow rules."

While acknowledging the new ruling as "a very big deal", Fischer explains why questions remain as to whether the ruling will be (or even can be) appealed and how the current vacancies on the FEC may prevent them from being able to act within the time ordered by Judge Howell.

In a separate, if somewhat related matter, Fischer details CLC's recently filed complaint with the FEC charging that the campaigns of four different Republican U.S. Senators unlawfully coordinated with the NRA's political action committee in violation of long-standing campaign finance laws during the 2014 and 2016 elections. The GOP Senators named in the complaint: Ron Johnson (WI), Tom Cotton (AR), Cory Gardner (CO) and Thom Tillis (NC).

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with still more record heat, pushback from California against the Administration's attempt to undermine state mileage and emissions standards, and the extraordinary revelation that Trump's EPA is actually attempting to bring deadly asbestos back! Seriously!...

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: Columnist, broadcaster, former insurance exec Richard 'R.J.' Eskow on the Koch Bros' misleading study on 'Medicare-for-All' cost...
By Brad Friedman on 8/6/2018 6:30pm PT  

On today's BradCast, as the President of the United States continues his tweets and rally cries targeting the free press as "the Enemy of the People", we offer another stark reminder of the danger of those attacks. Then, another reminder of the inevitable move toward "Medicare-for-All" in the U.S. and the mighty forces pushing back against it. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

First up, early Sunday morning, just hours before another one of Donald Trump's tweets targeting the media as "purposely caus[ing] division and distrust", characterizing them as "dangerous and sick" and, yes, "the Enemy of the People", a masked gunman opened fired inside of WORT-FM 89.9FM, a long-time progressive radio station (and Pacifica Radio Network affiliate) in Madison, WI. Luckily, among the three hosts in the studio at the time, there was just one, non-life-threatening injury. But the gunman is still on the loose and the volunteers who work at the station are lucky to be alive today.

Of course, progressive radio outlets have long been targets of violence by right-wingers --- long before Trump --- and we don't yet know what the motive was for the attacker at WORT in Madison. But with more and more folks in the mainstream corporate media receiving death threats now as well, as CNN's Brian Stelter noted over the weekend, citing a right-wing columnist at the New York Times, "we are approaching a day when blood on the newsroom floor will be blood on the President's hands". That could already be the case in Madison, WI.

In any event, please consider this a reminder to support the progressive media outlets --- many of them community stations run by volunteers --- who enable you to hear The BradCast every day, in any way that you can!

Next up, a lawsuit was filed against the Trump Administration late last week, alleging that it has failed to honor the Constitution's "Take Care" clause, requiring the President "faithfully execute" the laws of the land". The complaint, filed by the cities of Columbus and Cincinnati, OH, along with Baltimore, MD and Chicago, IL, charges that the Administration is unlawfully undermining and attempting to "sabotage" the Affordable Care Act (or, ObamaCare).

That suit was filed by the four cities, even as many progressives continue to push for a single-payer, universal, "Medicare-for-All" style healthcare system like the one Sen. Bernie Sanders has long called for. With such a plan growing in popularity among both voters and leading Democrats alike, a Koch Brothers-funded think-tank last week came out with a report that they'd hoped would undermine the prospect of a government-run, single-payer insurance program available to all Americans.

The report, misleadingly headlined "'Medicare for All' Plan Would Cost Federal Government $32 Trillion", was picked up by many media outlets who failed to highlight the more salient fact that the $32 trillion cited is actually $2 trillion LESS than Americans already spend on healthcare, even as millions are still without insurance and tens of millions more --- even if they are covered --- are still without access to important items like vision and dental care.

We're joined today by former insurance industry executive turned progressive blogger, columnist and broadcaster RICHARD "R.J." ESKOW to discuss his Los Angeles Times op-ed last week rebutting the misinformation that Charles Blahuas of the right-wing, Koch-funded Mercatus Center attempted to hoax American with.

Eskow, who hosts The Zero Hour podcast and also worked on Sanders' 2016 Presidential campaign, explains how the type of system that the Vermont Senator and, now, many leading 2020 Democratic Presidential contenders are endorsing, would both save Americans money and provide better and more complete care to tens and perhaps hundreds of millions.

"What the Koch Brothers and people who work for them are trying to get us to do is to only think about what the government spends," he tells me, explaining the sleight-of-hand the report uses to make families think such a plan would cost them more money than they are paying already. In fact, he explains, the average family of four would actually save $13,000 a year in healthcare costs.

"This guy who wrote this report unintentionally shot himself in the foot," Eskow argues, "Because even though I believe he stacked the deck against Medicare-For-All by under-estimating the savings and over-estimating the costs, he still couldn't avoid the conclusion that it would save $2 trillion over 10 years. I think it could save more than that, while giving people much better coverage. But even by his standards, the conservative standards, the right-wingers' standards, he has to admit it saves money!"

"We've been brainwashed into thinking that paying a nickel in taxes is worse than paying a dollar to some exploitative health insurance company. I don't think you make that sale anymore. I think people are getting wise to the truth."

Eskow also offers his insight into the fear that some "centrist" establishment Democrats have about such a system, and whether progressive voters should continue to push the party to be more in step with its own voters, or whether those voters need to look elsewhere...

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)




Guest: Aaron Weiss of Center for Western Priorities; Also: TN primary results; Trump endorses guy not actually running; TX chemical company indicted after toxic Hurricane Harvey explosions...
By Brad Friedman on 8/3/2018 6:49pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's kind of amazing that Trump's wildly corrupt Interior Dept. Secretary Ryan Zinke is still in office. Now that the EPA's Scott Pruitt is gone, and Interior just accidentally released a whole bunch of revealing information, maybe Zinke is a bit closer to the exit door. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first up today, results from Tennessee's primary elections on Thursday, and the outlook for November in the key U.S. Senate race to replace the state's outgoing Republican Sen. Bob Corker. Popular former Democratic Governor Phil Bredesen is now set to face off against the very Trumpy GOP nominee Rep. Marsha Blackburn in a race is central to Democrats' chances of winning back a majority in the upper chamber of Congress in this year's midterms.

Following up our preview yesterday of next week's important U.S. House Special Election in Ohio's 12th Congressional District --- where Democratic candidate Danny O'Connor could very well flip that seat from "red" to "blue" on Tuesday --- our stable genius President tweeted out an endorsement yesterday for a Republican who is not even running in the race.

Also today, some encouraging news out of Texas, where the corporate owners and manager of the Arkema Chemical plant near Houston were indicted on Friday, following the "reckless" release of toxins into the air during an explosion at the plant amid Hurricane Harvey flooding last year.

Then, we're joined by AARON WEISS, Media Director of the Center for Western Priorities (and host of its Go West, Young Podcast), to explain the "monumental" screw-up last month when the U.S. Department of Interior accidentally released unredacted documents regarding the agency's deliberations over the unprecedented lifting of federal protections for a huge portion of the Grand Staircase-Escalante monument in Utah.

"We'd always suspected that the outcome was preordained. But this really makes it crystal clear that the fix was in from the beginning," Weiss tells me, detailing the Department's subsequent redactions in the documents, revealing what Zinke's agency hoped the public wouldn't find out. Namely, that priceless archaeological treasures, native American relics, and a huge tourist and recreational industry benefiting the local economies, are now endangered by the unprecedented closure of nearly half of the Grand Staircase and some 85% of Bears Ears monument (also in Utah). The two monuments are the first to be scaled back in response to Donald Trump's executive order calling for the review of some 27 national monuments established by previous Presidents.

Weiss explains the how the screw-up came about in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests: "Under the Freedom of Information Act, you're allowed to redact certain things. But then you also have this very broad exception, it's called the 'B-5 deliberative process exemption.' And it's supposed to be so that officials can discuss policy options candidly. But oftentimes we see that B5 redaction being used as what's called the 'because I want to' redaction. And that's exactly what happened here, because they wanted to redact stuff that didn't look good for them, they called that stuff 'deliberative'. even though many of these sections were not discussing policy options, they were just basic facts."

"If you look at what got mistakenly unredacted in just this one document, and think about the tens of thousands of other pages already released and yet to be released, it does raise huge questions about the way they're abusing that B5 deliberative exemption."

He goes on to offer an update on the several legal challenges facing the unprecedented closures by the Trump Administration, and how the unredacted revelations underscore Team Trump's pretty clear aim of aiding their friends in the fossil fuel extraction industry at the expense of all others. Weiss also highlights a newly emerging scandal regarding what appears to be a wildly corrupt development deal in Zinke's hometown of Whitefish, Montana, involving the Secretary, his wife, and the CEO of oil services giant Halliburton.

Finally today, we share a portion of a short video rant unleashed yesterday by Ring of Fire co-host Farron Cousins, regarding concerns about election system security and hacking in the upcoming election. In the clip, he argues that these worries might have been avoided entirely had both Democrats and Republicans listened "to people like Brad Friedman at The BRAD BLOG" who have been warning about these concerns "for more than 14 years". "If we would have listened to them years ago," Cousins argues, "we wouldn't even be having this conversation today." [Fact-check: Mostly true!]

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Important U.S. House Special Election next Tuesday in Columbus, OH; Trump, GOP Congress lying about election security; Admin announces deadly scheme to rollback mileage, air quality standards; More...
By Brad Friedman on 8/2/2018 6:36pm PT  

On today's BradCast, if you're waiting for the government to save us by protecting elections --- or anything else --- that's not going to happen. But you can save us, as I explain today. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, voters in Tennessee head to the polls for their midterm primaries (yes, on a Thursday! --- perhaps that's one of the reasons the state has among the lowest turnout rates in the country?), as voters elsewhere are preparing for next Tuesday's primaries in Kansas, Missouri, Michigan and Washington.

Also next Tuesday will be the final major U.S. House Special Election of the year before the midterms. The race is in Ohio's 12th Congressional District, a normally very "red" district centered in Columbus, where Republican Troy Balderson had, as recently as last month, been favored by some 10 points over Democrat Danny O'Connor. The race, however, has now become a dead heat, according to new polling from Monmouth and others. So, we have a few very specific and important thoughts for our friends and listeners in Columbus (on WGRN 94.1FM!) today regarding that contest. In short, as I explain: this long-held Republican seat --- in a district which both Romney and Trump reportedly won by some 10 points --- is now flippable, but it will require all hands on deck to do it next week (yes, including independent and Green Party voters!)

In the meantime, Donald Trump's White House paraded out a bunch of their top intelligence community officials to try and convince us all that they give a damn about election security before the November midterms. Don't believe them for a second. I explain why. Similarly, do not believe the Republicans in Congress who now pretend that they give a damn about election security, since, on Wednesday, they proved once again they do not. Every Republican Senator present, with the exception of TN's Bob Corker, voted against an appropriations amendment to give $250 million for additional election security to states. All Democrats voted in favor of the amendment, which received a majority 50-47 vote. But that wasn't enough to overcome the 60 vote filibuster threshold (which Republicans could have waived). That, on the same day the GOP-majority Senate easily approved a $717 billion defense authorization package --- in case you're wondering where their priorities really are.

As explained in an impassioned rant today, in response to all of the above, it's unclear that more money thrown at our computerized election systems would even result in more secure elections or those that Americans can have confidence in. When it comes to our elections and our democracy, and so much more, one thing is clear: "We are not going to be protected by Congress, or the White House, no matter who is in charge of either. The government is not going to save us here. We are going to save us here. We are the only chance that we have."

I offer a number of ways for folks to do exactly that on today's show, which I hope you'll share loudly and broadly. [Update: Desi has transcribed a bit of today's rant for easier sharing right here.]

Speaking of, as we warned on a recent BradCast, the Trump Administration has now formally announced their new scheme today to roll back automobile fuel-efficiency standards that had previously been worked out in an agreement between the Obama Administration, automakers and states like California who have stricter air quality standards than the federal government's. Trump's EPA, however, is hoping to block those new standards --- which experts say will save 40,000 lives per year thanks to cleaner air --- in favor of dirtier air more costly gas mileage for consumers. The Administration justifies the change with a dubious assertion that 1,000 lives per year will be saved, because it will be cheaper for Americans to purchase newer, safer cars --- never mind the higher fuel costs (approximately $170 billion over all) they'll have to pay.

The Administration which pretends to believe in "states' rights" is also moving with their newly proposed regulation to block California's legal right under the federal Clean Air Act to determine their own air quality and mileage standards. The state, and 16 others, have already filed suit against the proposed regulation. A public comment period is now open in response to the measure at this Regulations.gov docket page.

Our own Desi Doyen has a few words about all of that. And then she joins us for our latest Green News Report, with 2017 now officially found to have smashed global heat records, deadly global warming-fueled wildfires continuing to devastate Northern California, and the U.S. Supreme Court (surprisingly) giving their unanimous go-ahead for a landmark climate change lawsuit against the federal government, as filed by children, to move ahead!...

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Guest: Tax policy expert Alexandra Thornton; Also: Great news for voters in MI! And, what exactly is Sen. Jeff Flake doing in Africa?...
By Brad Friedman on 8/1/2018 6:20pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Tax cuts by executive fiat? It may depend on what the definition of "cost" is. Republicans used to pretend to oppose "Imperial Presidencies" --- at least when the President in question was Barack Obama --- but, hey, things change. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up today, however, we begin with some good news for a change! The Michigan Supreme Court late on Tuesday, approved a wildly popular, non-partisan, grassroots anti-gerrymandering measure for this November's statewide ballot, after GOP opposition to the initiative. Michigan's Proposal 2 is just one of several encouraging election reforms that Michiganders will be able to vote for (or against) during this year's midterms. And, MI is just one of several states (along with Missouri, Utah, and Colorado) that will see citizen-driven initiatives to end the scourge of partisan redistricting on this year's ballot!

More good news: A U.S. court of appeals in California on Wednesday upheld a lower court ruling finding Donald Trump's executive order barring federal funds to so-called "sanctuary cities" as unconstitutional.

Then, several new studies find record corporate profits --- both before and after the Trump/GOP tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy late last year --- are being spent mostly on stock buybacks, rather than increased worker wages, as Republicans had pretended would be the case when they rammed last year's massive tax cuts through Congress. Those cuts have already raised the federal deficit above $1 trillion, rather than paying for themselves as promised.

At the same time, Trump's Dept. of Treasury is now said to be considering a controversial scheme to bypass Congress entirely in order to offer at least another $100 billion in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. We're joined today by ALEXANDRA THORNTON, former tax policy adviser to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, now Senior Director of Tax Policy for Economic Policy at the Center for American Progress. She tells me: "We already have very low taxes on capital income, capital gains, and now they want to make it lower."

Thornton explains Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's planned scheme that would reinterpret the word "cost" in the federal Revenue Act of 1918 in order to index the already very low tax rate on income earned via investment in stocks and real estate to inflation, and how doing so by executive branch fiat would most likely be unlawful. (At least the George W. Bush Administration found that to be the case when they considered a similar plan.)

"Here is this administration that's been talking about 'regulatory overreach' and wanting to get rid of all these regulations, and now they want to go beyond their authority to pass a regulation that gives this gigantic tax cut almost exclusively to the wealthy. It's incredibly hypocritical."

Thornton also debunks the long-held GOP "fairy tale" that tax cuts pay for themselves by growing the economy, rather than blowing holes in the national debt and deficit, and further helps explain why last year's tax cuts, as passed without any Democratic votes, may not be working quite as well as a campaign issue for Republicans before the midterms as they had hoped.

"This is all part of the conservative mantra that if we tax investment that'll slow down economic growth. There's really no evidence for that at all. Basically, what they say is that we need to cut taxes on any kind of income, and eventually that will mean that we'll be able to invest in more things in the economy which will make workers more productive, and when they become more productive their wages can go up and there will be more jobs. And it's a fairy tale. It's basically never happened. It doesn't work like that."

Finally today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cancelled this year's August Senate recess in hopes of ramming through a bunch of Trump's federal judicial nominees and his pick for the U.S. Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh. His hope was to do so before Republicans potentially lose their slim majority in the U.S. Senate in the fall elections. But that plan may be facing an unexpected hurdle from Arizona's outgoing U.S. Senator Jeff Flake, who is currently in Africa observing the hand-counting of hand-marked paper ballots in Zimbabwe's historic election. He may not be returning to D.C. anytime soon, according to some Senate staffers, which could stymie the possibility of any nominees being voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee (which is deadlocked at 10 to 10 without Flake's presence), and perhaps even prevent floor votes in a 49-49 Senate with both Flake and ailing fellow Arizona Senator John McCain both missing. Is Flake, who claims to be a Trump opponent (even while voting for most of his agenda anyway) finally taking some form of real action in response?...

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Also: E-pollbook and voter database failures during GA's Tuesday primary runoff another reminder to get ready for November's crucial midterms...
By Brad Friedman on 7/26/2018 5:25pm PT  

On today's BradCast, our week of exploding ridiculous GOP myths continues. On Tuesday, we debunked the absurd notion that they oppose "big government" in favor of state and local control. Yesterday, the decades-long scam that they oppose debt and deficit spending. Today, their opposition to "socialism" is exposed for the lie that it remains. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, Tuesday's primary runoff in Georgia offered yet another stark reminder of what could go terribly wrong in the Peach State --- and all of the others --- this November, as voters were, again, prevented from casting ballots due to a failure in the state's voter registration database and its computerized electronic pollbook system. That, of course, is on top of the 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems that voters are still forced to use in Georgia on Election Day --- at least when they are allowed to vote.

But, don't worry. Brian Kemp, the Republican Sec. of State who "oversees" both systems --- including during the several years when the entire registration database and administrative passwords for the tabulation systems were left unprotected online for downloading --- is now the GOP's nominee for Governor in the state. He'll make certain the public has confidence in the results of his race this November between him and Stacey Abrams, who could become the nation's first African-American female Governor.

Then, it's onto Donald Trump's socialist --- yes, socialist --- scheme to bailout farmers in the Midwest who are being devastated by Trump's trade war with China. But, again, don't worry. He's found an old FDR-era New Deal program that the White House plans to use to give farmers $12 billion in tax-payer money to make some of the losses he has caused them a bit less stinging. In response, Republicans in Congress this week pretended to be outraged about the bailout, while taking no actual action to reverse either it or Trump's trade wars with the world.

Of course, the GOP only pretends to oppose socialist programs, which are otherwise wildly popular with the American public. When needed, they are more than happy to privatize profits and socialize losses when they control the reins of government. By way of yet another example today, we share a remarkable story along those lines, about a very powerful Republican family from Indiana who has been enjoying local, state and federal government bailouts for years --- to the tune of some $20 million --- following the failure of their once-formidable gas station empire and the toxic trail it has left behind.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as heat records continue to be shattered this month, global warming-fueled fires and flooding wreak deadly havoc across the globe and in the U.S., and as Trump and the Republicans expand their ongoing war on the environment, public lands and endangered species...

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Guest: BRAD BLOG legal analyst Ernest A. Canning; Also: Good news from the courts for voters in FL, IA; Bad news for GOP deficit hawks (if such a creature actually even exists)...
By Brad Friedman on 7/25/2018 6:42pm PT  

Donald Trump's grip on reality seems to be slipping more and more each day. Or, at least his interest in reality is slipping, if not his interest in deceiving his supporters and everyone around him about demonstrable reality. That sentiment was, perhaps, best summed up when, on Tuesday, the five-time draft dodger declared at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) annual convention in Kansas City: "What you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening." Got it?

Among the things that actually are happening, as covered on today's BradCast. [Audio link to show follows below]...

The Administration now (quietly) concedes they were wrong about last year's massive tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy paying for themselves through a rise in federal revenue. In the first half of 2018, we now know, corporate tax revenue plunged to its lowest level since such data was first tracked beginning in the 1940s. Thanks to slashed corporate tax rates, federal revenues are now lower than the then-historic plunge following the 2017 economic collapse. And, with that, deficits are now set to rise above $1 trillion annually for the foreseeable future. That, of course, is the exact opposite of what Trump, his White House and Congressional Republicans told Americans last year when pushing for their new tax rates and even worse than real economists at the time had predicted.

Then, after former CIA Director John Brennan declared Trump's "performance" at his joint press conference with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki last week was "nothing short of treasonous," the White House announced they were seeking to remove his security clearance, along with five other former top U.S. intelligence officials (two of whom no longer have such a clearance anyway) who have been critical of the President's behavior and statements regarding the investigation into Russia's alleged cyberattacks and other interference in the 2016 Presidential election.

The rank politicization of security clearances by a White House may be unprecedented and even one of many impeachable offenses by this President, but does his behavior regarding Russia really rise to "treason", as Brennan argued? BRAD BLOG legal analyst ERNEST A. CANNING joins us today to discuss his recent article on the Constitutional definition of "treason" (the only crime defined in the founding document and one that is punishable by death) and whether the charge could possibly apply to Trump, given that we are not --- at least officially --- "at war" with Russia.

Canning, while he's here, also details two very encouraging court rulings handed down in advance of the crucial 2018 midterm elections, one from a federal court in Florida yesterday, and the other from a state court in Iowa today --- both regarding GOP attempts to restrict early voting and other related issues. In Florida, as Canning explains, the judge described the state's GOP-run state Election Division's restrictions on creating early voting sites at state colleges and universities displayed "a stark pattern of discrimination" in violation of the U.S. Constitution's 26th Amendment. And, in Iowa, the court ruled the Republican state legislature's newly enacted law and GOP Sec. of State effort to promote it "substantially and directly interfere with Iowans' constitutional rights to vote."

Finally today, speaking of reality, on Tuesday the Kremlin made clear they had no intention of accepting Trump's invitation for Putin to come to Washington D.C. this fall for a second summit. That, despite Trump and his Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders previously declaring that plans were already being made for the meeting. Today, White House officials were finally forced to admit the meeting will not, in fact, take place, though the admission was misreported by some in the media as, naturally, the White House pretended it was their choice, not Russia's...

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Guest-host Angie Coiro with Clayborne Carson, Sheila Thomas, Jessica Bruder...
By Angie Coiro on 7/23/2018 6:16pm PT  

On today's BradCast, I'm sitting in for Brad and Desi, frantically sifting through news from every direction.

First it's a review of the headlines, including word that the FBI has turned twelve audio tapes seized from Michael Cohen over to federal prosecutors. Donald Trump screams at Iran in ALL CAPS on Twitter; Iran snarls back. The battle over the Carter Page FISA application release rages, but one thing the GOP can't really fight back on: the case made in those pages looks pretty bad for Team Trump.

A deep dive into an incredibly revealing portrait of Southern Baptist churchgoers in Luverne, Alabama. Stephanie McCrummen at the Washington Post did an amazing job on the story.

Then --- in honor of Adam Parkhomenko & Co's fantastic occupation of Lafayette Park outside the White House --- a conversation with attorney SHEILA THOMAS and Martin Luther King historian CLAYBORNE CARSON. We talk about effective protest, and how the art of protest has evolved since the civil rights revolution.

Finally --- did you spend money with Amazon on "Prime Day"? You and everybody else --- or at least enough of everybody else to jam up their system. JESSICA BRUDER'S Nomadland is her hands-on testament to nomadic Americans who've fallen out of the vanishing middle class, and are driving from job to job with Amazon, Walmart, amusement parks, state camping grounds, and more.

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A compromised Russian asset, even if the President of the United States, cannot be guilty of treason unless we are 'at war' with Russia...
By Ernest A. Canning on 7/23/2018 10:47am PT  

Of all of the reactions to the July 16 joint press conference in Helsinki, Finland in which Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump responded to reporters' questions, perhaps the harshest assessment came in a Tweet by former CIA Director John Brennan.

Trump's "performance", Brennan contended, "rises to & exceeds the threshold of 'high crimes & misdemeanors.' It was nothing short of treasonous."

Brennan may have been uniquely positioned to offer that assessment since he was amongst the intelligence officials, who, on Jan. 6, 2017, showed President-Elect Trump emails and texts between high-level members of Russia's military intelligence agency, the GRU, that purportedly establish that Putin had personally ordered the cyberattack on the 2016 election.

Various half-hearted walk-backs aside, Trump's continued refusal to accept that Putin personally ordered Russia's alleged cyberattacks on the 2016 election and denial that any such attacks might have even taken place, is at odds with (a) the bipartisan conclusions offered by the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee; (c) an extraordinarily detailed, 37-page speaking indictment in February, setting forth how 13 Russians and 3 Russian companies allegedly carried out an illegal foreign influence campaign, and (d) the more recent, 29-page, July 13 indictment filed against 12 members of the GRU, laying out the dates and specific manner in which named individuals are said to have carried out cyberattacks on the DNC, Hillary Clinton's campaign chair and many others.

The July 13 indictment also details the manner in which Special Counsel investigators say emails --- purloined information --- from several of those attacks were weaponized for release during the campaign and that, for the first time, the GRU had targeted Clinton's "personal office" emails on the very same day that candidate Trump publicly called for Russia to find her "missing" emails during a July 27, 2016 campaign rally.

Ironically, as observed by MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell, Trump's decision to cast aside the unanimous conclusions of U.S. intelligence and law enforcement after the Helsinki summit was promptly followed by a "Perry Mason moment" when Putin was questioned by Reuters correspondent Jeff Mason at the joint press conference of the two Presidents:

Mason: "Did you want President Trump to win the election, and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?"

Putin: "Yes, I did. Yes, I did."

Early-on, as we reported last February, after accepting an assignment to conduct a human-sourced intelligence investigation into Trump's ties to Russia, Christopher Steele, a former British MI-6 intelligence officer, informed Glenn Simpson of research firm Fusion GPS that he, Steele, had a professional responsibility to report his findings to the FBI. He explained his reasoning at the time. Steele believed he'd uncovered a "crime in progress" and that there was a chilling prospect that the man who might become the 45th President of the United States was and is a compromised Russian asset.

Hillary Clinton appeared to share Steele's concern. During a debate, she not only described Trump as "Putin's puppet," but also presciently added: "You encouraged espionage against our people, sign up for his wish list: break up NATO, do whatever he wants."

The very notion that a Commander-in-Chief could be a compromised foreign asset is so unprecedented that it is difficult to comprehend. Just think how history would have turned out if it had been George Washington instead of General Benedict Arnold who had committed treason.

Yet, the factors that suggest Trump is indeed compromised include, but are not limited to, (a) the retention of Michael Flynn for 18 days after Acting AG Sally Yates warned the White House that the DOJ believed Flynn was a compromised Russia asset, firing him only after Flynn was publicly exposed by the Washington Post; (b) the disclosure of highly classified information to Russia's ambassador during an Oval Office meeting; (c) the continuing refusal to impose Congressionally enacted sanctions against Russia --- a refusal that violates the President's duty to see that the laws are faithfully executed --- and (d) Trump's performance at and after the Helsinki Summit.

If Trump is, indeed, a compromised Russian asset, it would represent a monstrous betrayal, a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States and grounds for his removal from office. But, as Brad Friedman correctly observed during a July 16 BradCast, the question as to whether that betrayal amounts to "treason" entails a difficult, unsettled and far murkier legal issue as to whether the U.S. and Russia are at war...

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Guest: TPM's Alice Ollstein; Also: ES&S misleads officials after lie about remote access of election systems; Deadly storms slams Midwest...
By Brad Friedman on 7/20/2018 6:09pm PT  

First up on today's BradCast, a follow-up to yesterday's important show on the wildly vulnerable remote access software installed with computerized election systems sold --- and lied about --- by the nation's top voting system vendor, Election Systems and Software, Inc. (ES&S), as well as by other U.S. vendors who have helped privatize our public election systems. [Audio link to show follows below.]

After Kim Zetter's report at VICE's Motherboard earlier in the week revealed the company had lied to her about their use of the dangerous software for her New York Times report earlier this year, ES&S apparently sent an extraordinarily misleading email to their "valued customers" (election officials in counties around the nation), hoping to minimize concerns over their ill-considered practices.

As they --- and the other corporate vendors who have taken over our public elections with poorly designed, oft-failed and easily-manipulated computer voting and tabulation systems --- have been doing for years, the letter misinforms their "customers" about the dangers of including remote access software on election management systems which program ballots for electronic voting machines and tabulate votes. We explain how the company --- and, sadly, most of the federal government --- continues to lie and mislead about the dangerous of such systems, all of which, despite claims to the contrary by many officials, are, in fact, vulnerable to both Internet hacking and insider manipulation.

Then, as a new federal court deadline looms in less than a week for the Trump Administration to reunite more than 2,500 children separated from their parents at the border, we're joined by Talking Points Memo reporter ALICE OLLSTEIN, who has been keeping up with a dizzying array of federal court motions, hearings and rulings in recent weeks.

The consequences of Trump's so-called "Zero Tolerance" policy at the border has somewhat fallen off the front pages over the past week of mind-bending Trump/Russia news, so Ollstein catches us up with much that we have missed, including one court loss after another for the Trump Administration and federal judges --- appointed by Democrats and Republicans alike --- quickly losing patience with them. Heartbreaking stories of thousands of separated families continue to come out, as the Administration, from all reports, appears nowhere close to meeting a July 26 deadline to reuinite thousands of children over 5 years of age with their parents.

"It's just a huge mess, and it has been for weeks," she tells me. "The administration has been saying things in court and in legal filings that are just blatantly untrue. They have made promises and not kept them. They've blown past the deadlines for the reunification. So these federal judges are losing their patience and stepping in."

Ollstein describes reports from legal groups and immigration advocates of kids still being snatched from their parents at the border and facing "deep, deep trauma" within government detention, while novel (and seemingly unlawful) new interpretations of asylum laws are challenged in court and Congressional Republicans refuse to take substantive action.

"This has been pushed off the front page by other crazy, breaking news in this crazy administration," she observes. "Obviously, people are still outraged, still upset about this and want to see a solution. But it seems Republicans are not feeling enough heat to take action."

Finally, with way too much heat in the Midwest, extreme weather turned deadly on Thursday, as 17 were killed when a sudden storm overtook an amphibious "duck boat" on Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri, and as a swarm of as many as 27(!) tornadoes seem to have appeared out of nowhere to devastate several towns in Iowa...

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With Trump's own intel agencies warning of election hacks and the White House contradicting them, disturbing new revelations of voting system vulnerabilities may help explain a 2011 BRAD BLOG exclusive report...
By Brad Friedman on 7/19/2018 6:43pm PT  

As noted at the top of today's BradCast, it's worth buckling up before listening. [Audio link to show follows below.]

We begin, gently enough, with the news of California's Supreme Court temporarily nixing a billionaire's statewide initiative from this November's ballot which, if adopted, would split the state into three. We explain why the Court removed the measure, for now, thanks to a challenge by an environmental group.

Then, with Donald Trump's own Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, warning this past week that "the system is blinking red" in a way that hasn't been seen since just before the 9/11 attacks, the multiple and ever-changing positions by the President of the United States in recent days, regarding whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election and is actively doing so in advance of the 2018 midterms, is all the more head-spinning. Coats was referencing warning signs being reported by U.S. intelligence agencies regarding ongoing attacks and intrusions on America's critical infrastructure --- including our wildly vulnerable electoral systems.

Moreover, new reporting on Trump being read into explicit source details weeks before he was inaugurated in early 2017 regarding Russia's alleged 2016 election intrusion measures, make his ongoing denials, ever-changing positions, and dizzying White House spin to explain them all following Monday's summit with Putin in Helsinki, all the more bewildering. Nonetheless, his own intelligence apparatus and appointees continue to contradict the President, even as the GOP-controlled Congress fails to take any substantive action to either place a check on Trump or even to help protect this November's crucial elections.

At the same time, after the FBI informed Maryland just days ago that its entire election system was being hosted on a private commercial server said to be owned by a Russian oligarch tied to Putin (as discussed in detail on yesterday's BradCast), we learn this week that the top U.S. election system vendor, ES&S, has been lying about remote access software and modems installed, for many years, on systems still used by a majority of U.S. voters.

The new revelations may help explain an exclusive special report published by The BRAD BLOG back in 2011, with an officially-commissioned independent analysis finding that, among other concerns, Venango County, Pennsylvania's ES&S election management system had been accessed by an unknown and unauthorized computer for "several hours" from a remote location. As we reported at the time, ES&S and the County's Board of Commissioners went to considerable lengths, after those revelations, to block a further, independent forensic analysis of the system.

And now, perhaps, we may know why. Kim Zetter reports this week at Vice's Motherboard that the company lied to her and New York Times' fact-checkers earlier this year in advance of her February article at the paper on the inclusion of modems and pcAnywhere remote access software included with the election management systems sold to customers from 2000 to 2006. After previously insisting the company had no "knowledge that our voting systems have ever been sold with remote-access software", ES&S reversed itself in a letter to U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, she reports. But they have refused to respond to the Senator's subsequent follow-up queries or to appear at recent Senate hearings on U.S. election system vulnerabilities.

As Zetter details, pcAnywhere was found to include multiple and serious vulnerabilities over the years, which would have allowed unauthorized intruders to change election results with little chance of detection. Moreover, she explains, many questions remain about why ES&S lied, which jurisdictions around the nation may still feature the same, easily-exploitable flaws, and about electronic voting and tabulation systems manufactured by the nation's other top vendors, believed by expert to likely have included similar remote-access vulnerabilities.

All of that (and more, including our latest Green News Report), just over three months out from this November's midterm elections. Told you to buckle up...

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

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Guest: The Intercept's David Dayen: Also: CA Dems endorse Feinstein's opponent de León; Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez head to KS; FBI reveals Russian ownership of MD's public election system server...
By Brad Friedman on 7/18/2018 6:41pm PT  

We start off on today's BradCast with how the FBI's startling new revelation that a Russian oligarch tied to Vladimir Putin essentially owns the state of Maryland's public election system, underscores yet again what we've been trying to explain for about 15 years here: Private corporations have no place in public elections! [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Only oversight by the public can possibly prevent our electoral system from being manipulated (or owned) by insiders (like election officials and/or private election vendors) or outsiders (like foreign nations and/or hackers). Amazingly, Maryland says they had no clue about the Russian ownership of the private server company which hosts the state's electoral systems --- including voter registration, election management (ballot programming and tabulation), election night results reporting and more. They were notified by the Feds just last Friday. (For a sense of how long we've been yelling about the threats related to the corporatization our public elections, see our August 2008 article by Ellen Theisen, linking to Voters Unite's then-new report on how private "Vendors are Undermining the Structure of U.S. Elections".)

Next, speaking of public oversight being stripped away from the public, author and financial journalist DAVID DAYEN joins us to discuss several topics. First, the US Treasury Department announced this week, incredibly enough, that it is doing away with the requirement for non-profit "social welfare organizations", such as the National Rifle Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Koch Brothers' Americans for Prosperity, to reveal the names of their donors to the IRS.

"You can sort of squint and say, well, any organization, whether it's the Chamber of Commerce or Planned Parenthood, on the left or on the right, can benefit from this," says Dayen. "But lets' be real. The practitioners of dark money are overwhelmingly on the right. That's why politicians on the right support burying this information, whereas politicians on the left generally support disclosure."

The new regulation, experts and journalists argue, will make "dark money" in our elections even darker. The three right-wing groups cited above were the top spenders on elections in 2016 and they are celebrating the new announcement by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin today, even as Treasury used what Dayen describes as a "Zombie Lie" (which just wont die) in their official announcement --- citing the long-debunked "IRS targeting scandal" --- as one of the reasons for the new policy, which has long been lobbied for by the Right.

The announcement comes just days after the federal indictment of a Russia national who had infiltrated the NRA along with another oligarch who had helped funnel millions of foreign dollars to the group. "Foreign spending within US elections remains illegal, whether the IRS collects this information or not. And it seems like they're giving themselves less of an opportunity to connect the dots and make sure they are properly enforcing federal election law." That, I argue, is a feature, not a bug.

Then, Dayen explains the remarkable turn of events over the weekend in Oakland, where the California Democratic Party's executive committee voted --- by a huge margin --- to endorse state Senator Kevin de León over four-term, 26-year incumbent U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein in her reelection bid this November. Dayen describes what happened and why.

Finally, Dayen details why progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders and NY U.S. House candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are barnstorming the so-called "red" state of Kansas this weekend to stump for several progressive U.S. House candidates in advance of the state's August 7 primary. Early voting in the state is under way as of today.

Also, though we didn't have time to dive into the details, Dayen teases his recent "long read" over at HuffPost's Highline, which he worked on for about year, documenting the jaw-dropping story of what happened to a whistleblower who tried to sound the alarm on sexual harassment at international banking behemoth HSBC...

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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