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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, November 13, 2018
FL 2000 'Recount' Chief: State 'Cannot Physically' Complete 'Recounts' by Deadline: 'BradCast' 11/12/18
Guest: FL's Ion Sancho; Also: CA fires; Sinema wins Senate in AZ; Legal fight for GA Guv...
Sunday 'VFW' Toons (Veterans Forgotten by Washington)
PDiddie's weekly toon collection nods to those gone and forgotten by some, and those not gone, but who we might like to forget...
Election Battles Rage in FL, GA: 'BradCast' 11/9/18
Guest-host Angie Coiro w/ latest on ballot fights in Senator, Guv races and other news; Also: Law360's Amber McKinney on DACA; D.D. Guttenplan on progressivism's future...
Dems' Challenge to FL 'Sig-nature Mismatch' Law Could Determine Guv, Senate Races
Even former Democratic Rep. Murphy disenfranchised when ballot was rejected...
Statewide 'Recounts' Likely in FL, GA, AZ Senate, Guv Races: 'BradCast' 11/8/18
Campaigns fight to 'count every vote' amid uncounted and rejected ballots, undervotes, computer-tabulation concerns; Also: CA mass shooting; RBG hospitalized; Trump Crisis...
'Green News Report' 11/8/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
GNR Special Coverage: Big wins, losses for the environment in 2018 midterms -- Science to return to the House Science Comm., Big Oil money crushes state energy ballot measures...
Previous GNRs: 11/6/18 - 11/1/18 - Archives...
Election Day 2018 An Entirely Predict-able Mess (Again): 'BradCast' 11/6/18
Hours-long lines, failed vote systems leave voters, ballots stranded; Also: Lulu Friesdat on tabulation mysteries, unlawful Wi-Fi in Dallas County, TX counting room...
'Green News Report' 11/6/18
SCOTUS allows kids' climate trial to proceed; 90% of kids breathe highly polluted air; Plastic pollution everywhere, even in humans; PLUS: World Bank nixes coal...
GA's Kemp Falsely Reports Voter Database Flaw as Dem Hack: 'BradCast' 11/5/18
Guest: Election integrity expert Marilyn Marks on Kemp's repeated 'cybercrimes' lies parrotted by media, while he oversees own Guv election against Abrams...
Sunday 'Fear Itself' Toons
If only the only thing we had to fear today was PDiddie's latest toon collection...
2018 Sec. of State Races Key to 2020 Presidential Election: 'BradCast' 11/2/18
Guest: Ari Berman on suppression and key down-ballot races; Also: Election nightmares previewed in WI, TN, ND?; Third-party pull-outs in AZ, MT Senate races...
2018 Guv Races Key to House Majorities in 2022, Beyond: 'BradCast' 11/1/18
Guest: Vox' Dylan Scott with encouraging news for Dems in several 'red' states; Also: More trouble at polls...
'Green News Report' 11/1/18
Criminal referral for Zinke; Ocean heat worse than known; G.M. wants e-car mandate; Our most crucial election; PLUS: Teen activist launches kids' strike for climate...
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...


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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: West Virginia's Bob Kincaid; Also: McConnell says no to protecting Mueller, Mattis got Trumped on Syria, Kobach found in contempt (again) in KS, and Cuomo expands voting rights in NY...
By Brad Friedman on 4/18/2018 6:44pm PT  

Yes, my guest argues on today's BradCast, West Virginia Republicans may very well nominate a man just out of jail on charges related to the deaths of 29 coal miners to be their nominee for the U.S. Senate this year. [Audio link to show is posted below below.]

But, before we head down to Coal County for that conversation today, a few news headlines...Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is vowing to prevent a bi-partisan proposal for protecting Special Counsel Robert Mueller from being fired by Donald Trump, from coming to the Senate floor for a full vote, even if, as now appears likely, the bill is approved by the GOP-lead Senate Judiciary Committee.

The notoriously obstructionist McConnell also appears ready to block any new Congressional military Authorization for the Use of Force --- as currently being considered in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee --- citing, along with GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan, the AUMFs from 2001 and 2002, for authorization of war against al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Iraq after 9/11, as valid enough approval for Trump to bomb Syria, however he sees fit. Speaking of which, the NYTimes is reporting that Defense Secretary James Mattis had tried to insist that Trump obtain Congressional authorization before attacking Syria last week, but was overruled by the President.

Meanwhile, in Kansas today, a federal judge found GOP Sec. of State Kris Kobach in contempt of court, amidst the long-watched ACLU cases challenging a state law he'd championed, which has kept thousands of otherwise valid voters off the rolls for failing to provide proof of citizenship documents to the state. Kobach, one of the nation's leading Republican "voter fraud" fraudsters, was slapped by the George W. Bush-appointed federal judge in her ruling [PDF] and ordered to pay the ACLU's legal fees for the contempt hearing. This is the second time that Kobach, now a candidate for the 2018 Republican nomination for Governor in Kansas, has been found in contempt.

Also today, in more good news for voters, New York's Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, facing a primary challenge from progressive actress and activist Cynthia Nixon, announced a plan to immediately restore voting rights to some 35,000 parolees by executive order.

Then, we're joined by West Virginia's own BOB KINCAID, the always-colorful, long-time radio host and President of West Virginia's Coal River Mountain Watch, to discuss the remarkable re-emergence of disgraced coal baron Don Blankenship, the former Massey Energy CEO who was released from prison last year following a one-year sentence for his involvement in safety violations at the company's Upper Big Branch Mine, where an explosion killed 29 workers in 2010.

Blankenship, to the supposed horror of establishment GOPers, is running for the party's nomination for the U.S. Senate in the state's May 8th primary, in hopes of taking on incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. Remarkably, Blankenship's fortunes appear to be rising, just three weeks out from a contest against a number of very Trumpy primary opponents. That has now forced the national GOPers to form a "local" PAC to purchase ads that take on Blankenship by pretending to be against Massey's coal-related pollution of drinking water in the state. In return, Blankenship is now firing back at his former ally Mitch McConnell.

"It's all swamp," Kincaid says. "Don Blankenship is the ultimate swamp. If McConnell is a swamp Captain, then Don Blankenship is a swamp Field Marshal. Remember, [McConnell] got behind a Supreme Court candidate in this state some years back solely so that he could protect Massey Energy from a jury verdict that they deserved --- trying to make sure that verdict would be overturned once it got to the [state] Supreme Court. That's swampy behavior if anything is."

Kincaid details the once-wildly powerful Blankenship's deadly background and the contours of the now-bizarre race --- which is beginning to echo Roy Moore's disastrous GOP run for the U.S. Senate in Alabama last December --- in a state where Trump won by some 40 points in 2016 and the conservative Manchin is considered to be amongst the most vulnerable Democratic Senators up for re-election this year.

"They really don't know quite what to do with him because, frankly, Don Blankenship doesn't give a damn. He has that in common with Geezer Disgustus over in the White House. It seems like everything just bounces of off him. Mainly because he can just push it off to one side, he can run his own ads, he can finance his own campaign. There's a certain element of people in this state who would vote for the Devil himself --- and Blankenship is pretty close --- if he said 'I hate that Obama'," argues Kincaid, adding, "There's a whole lot of white-lash still left in West Virginia."

We also discuss what progressives --- whose own Democratic primary candidate, Paula Jean Swearengin, does not appear to be gaining traction in the state --- ought to do this November, if faced with a choice between a vote for the coal-loving corporatist Manchin and whoever becomes the GOP nominee amid our ever-deepening, Trump-induced national emergency.

"The fact of the matter is, we've been in a Constitutional crisis ever since the Electoral College failed to do that which the Framers said the Electoral College was designed to do. And if you let this Congress continue, there is no hope whatsoever of saving the Republic," he warns...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Pam Vogel of Media Matters; Also: Another mass shooting; Good news for voters in two federal voter registration cases in TX and FL...
By Brad Friedman on 4/3/2018 6:25pm PT  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Callers ring in on all of the above and much more today!...
By Brad Friedman on 3/19/2018 6:00pm PT  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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: David Roberts of Vox; Also: Trump's terrible tariffs; Good news for voters in WA and CA; U.S. Senators query U.S. voting system vendors...
By Brad Friedman on 3/8/2018 6:09pm PT  

On today's BradCast, so many great cons to debunk, so little time. But we've actually got some good news for voters today as well. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up today, Trump unleashes his massive and wildly unpopular --- and, yes, job-killing --- new taxes on imported steel and aluminum.

Then, some voting news, most of it good. The state of Washington is the ninth state in the union to adopt automatic voter registration, and a federal court has ruled that California must inform Vote-by-Mail voters before their ballots are tossed out when election officials decide that the signature on the ballot doesn't match the one on the voter's registration form. According to the ACLU's lawsuit, as many as 45,000 voters in the state were disenfranchised, without their knowledge, thanks to California's horrible practice, carried out by the whim of officials who are anything but handwriting experts.

Meanwhile, two Democratic U.S. senators have sent a letter to the nation's top three election vendors, ES&S, Dominion, and Hart Intercivic, asking if they have shared the source code from their computerized voting and tabulation systems with Russia. We discuss what this actually means and doesn't. (For example: No, it's not necessary for Russia or anybody else, including elections officials, to have access or familiarity with proprietary source code from voting and tabulating systems in order to manipulate computer-tallied elections!) We also call out Reuters for continuing to spread the evidence-free claim in their report on this that "voting machines were not directly affected" by meddling during the 2016 election.

Next, we're joined by Vox.com's environment and politics writer DAVID ROBERTS to discuss a new report [PDF] released by the Trump Administration's own Office of Management and Budget(!) which, as he writes, "demolishes the GOP’s deregulatory claims." In short, it finds that benefits to the public of federal regulations far outstrip their costs in pretty much every imaginable way.

The aggregate costs of major federal regulations (those with an impact of $100 million or more) between 2006 and 2016, according to the annually mandated report released late on a Friday night for some reason, "were somewhere between $59 and $88 billion. And the aggregate benefits were somewhere between $219 and $695 billion," says Roberts. "So, even if you take the highest possible estimate of costs, and the lowest possible estimate of benefits, the benefits are still well over double what the costs were, in the most conservative analysis."

While Donald Trump has attempted to cut hundreds of rules and regulations across federal agencies --- repeatedly boasting about doing away with a record number of "job-killing regulations" and bureaucratic red-tape --- the fact is, as his own OMB (headed up by the far-right, Tea Party, regulation-hating Mick Mulvaney!) detailed in their report, those regulations do not "kill jobs" or cost the government money. In fact, killing those rules costs the government far more, particularly the environmental rules being radically gutted by this Administration.

But, as Roberts argues, the "job-killing" mantra has been so often repeated by Republicans since the days of Ronald Reagan --- and gone largely unchallenged by corporate media --- much of the public now simply accepts those false assertions as reality.

"Just to be clear, we've known this about federal regulations for a long time," Roberts notes. "These things have been subjected to cost-benefit analysis out the wazoo for years and years. Not only by the federal government, but by outside analysts. They all more or less converge on this same answer, which is that the public health and social and employment benefits of these things wildly outweigh the costs, and have for years."

"The reason Republicans hate this is because, when you see it in aggregate like this, it's almost enough to convince you that government can be an agent of good, that it can improve public health and welfare while still maintaining economic growth."

"It's revealing, I think, that this is treated as a revelation," he tells me. "It ought to be commonplace by now. It's the consensus of the experts. We just don't accept it, because Republicans, just through the sheer weight of repetition, have been saying 'job-killing regulations', 'burdensome regulations', etc., etc., for so long, that that's just sort of baked into the cake as one side of the debate, even though there's no support for it. There's no analysis that supports that."

We discuss why that is and who actually benefits from the GOP's great con. (Hint: It isn't the bulk of the folks who voted for Donald Trump!) Robert's also goes on to argue why he believes that Democrats are at least partly to blame for this con having taken such a death grip on the American conscience as self-defeating "conventional wisdom" over the past several decades.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report for yet another demonstration of how the decades-long scam to gut regulations continues to threaten the nation and the world...

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Election results and voting probs from the Lone Star state's first-in-the-nation primaries; Also: Chaos continues at Trump White House, Florida lawmakers enact gun safety measures following Parkland massacre...
By Brad Friedman on 3/7/2018 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast: You may not have noticed with everything else going on, but, on Tuesday, Texas held the first primaries of the crucial 2018 mid-terms elections. We have the reported results, including the largest Democratic primary turnout in the Lone Star state in decades (though the GOP turnout was still larger.) [Audio link to show follows below.]

Women and progressives appear to have performed very well on the Democratic side. Though, given the huge number of candidates in many of the Democratic U.S. House primaries, many of those contests will now go to run-offs on May 22nd. Wealthy self-funders, Trump supporters and more conservative Democrats didn't do quite as well. And a number of voters across the state were disenfranchised, as usual, and forced deal with failing electronic voting systems and polling places that were recently moved. (Even as the corporate media downplayed problems, as usual.) We dive into all the details.

Also today, the chaos continues at Donald Trump's White House and we do our best to keep up with the latest developments, including a finding by the Office of Special Counsel that senior White House counselor and former Campaign chair Kellyanne Conway violated the federal Hatch Act (and why that matters); Donald Trump may be backing off his hard-line and ill-considered, pledge to issue broad tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, following critiques from friends and foes alike and his top economic advisor Gary Cohn stepping down in response; Porn-star Stormy Daniels is suing Donald Trump over hush money paid to her before the 2016 election; And the Trump Administration is suing the state of California over immigration issues.

Finally, as we head off air today, breaking news out of the the Florida legislature, which has now adopted a number of gun safety reforms opposed by the NRA, including raising the minimum age for the purchase of semi-automatic rifles and a three-day waiting period for all gun purchases. The measure --- passed in no small part due to the persistent advocacy of the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School following the massacre there last month --- now heads to the desk of the NRA's A+ rated Governor Rick Scott...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What we can and must do to protect the 2018 elections...
By Jennifer Cohn on 2/19/2018 3:30pm PT  

[This article, constructed as a handout for concerned voters and election officials, was originally posted to Medium by Jennifer Cohn on 2/17/2018 and is cross-posted in full here with her permission. This article is also available for easier printing and sharing as a PDF here - BF]

Our elections are under attack. Intelligence officials concur that Russia plans to target the 2018 midterm elections.[1] One hundred experts in the fields of computer science and statistics have recommended paper ballots and post-election statistical audits to protect our democracy.[2] But some election officials have undermined efforts to implement these security measures with irresponsible and false assurances that it would be difficult for hackers to alter the outcome of a national election under our current system.[3]

This handout strives to break through this disinformation with sourced facts that expose the truth about our computerized voting systems. We hope that concerned citizens will use this handout as a tool to persuade decision-makers of the urgent need for paper ballots, robust post-election audits, and other security measures...

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




Guest: David Faris of 'The Week'; Also: L.A. school shooting; PA GOP scoffs at court redistricting order; Great voting rights ruling in FL...
By Brad Friedman on 2/1/2018 6:39pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The government shutdown ended just last week. Next week, the next deadline for funding the government is upon us, along with the same fight to protect some 800,000 "Dreamers" from being deported. Do Democrats have any better plan to stand up to Trump and the Republicans this time? [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, some important news headlines that are likely to disappear among all of the madness in D.C. and much of the corporate media: There was yet another school shooting today, following the one in rural Kentucky just last week. This time it was a middle school in Los Angeles, where a 12-year old girl is said to be in custody after two 15-year olds were shot.

In Pennsylvania, the Republican President of the Senate, Joe Scarnati, is blatantly refusing orders by the State Supreme Court to turn over districting documents after the court found last week that the GOP-controlled legislature in the largely 50/50 swing-state had gerrymandered U.S. House districts in violation of state law. Republicans currently hold 13 seats to the Democrats' 5 under the GOP-drawn maps. The Court has ordered the maps immediately redrawn, but Republicans are trying to prevent that, and are now defying the court in doing so. Scarnati's behavior continues a growing and disturbing pattern by Republicans across the country --- and now all the way up to the White House --- to simply refuse to follow the rule of law and orders of the court.

Meanwhile, some very good news for voters in Florida, as a federal court, just before airtime, finds the "scheme" employed by Republican Gov. Rick Scott to consider restoration of voting rights for some 1.5 million former felons in the state, to be in violation of the U.S. Constitution's 1st Amendment Free Speech clause and 14th Amendment Equal Protection clause. Currently, the process to overcome Florida's lifetime ban on voting rights for former felons who have long ago completed their sentences, finished parole and paid off all restitution, requires personally groveling to the Governor and hoping rights are restored, at his standard-free whim, according to the federal judge. That may now, finally, change (unless the ballot initiative to restore such rights to former felons is adopted first this November, after the measure's proponents successfully gathered nearly 1 million signatures in support last week!)

Then, it was only last week that Senate Democrats caved to Donald Trump and the Republicans following just two days of a government shutdown. After promising to vote against any government spending bill unless it included protections for some 800,000 "Dreamers" --- Obama-Era DACA recipients who, thanks to Trump, now face deportation as soon as March 5 --- the Dems folded and reversed course.

That, as our guest today, DAVID FARIS, Roosevelt University political scientist and The Week contributor, argues, has now further weakened what had previously been a fairly strong hand for Democrats.

Now, the next funding deadline and possible shutdown looms just one week from today, as the previous reversal by Democrats has likely bolstered Republican resolve and afforded time for Trump to move the goal posts even farther right on his immigration demands. He detailed those demands during his offensive remarks on the matter in his State of the Union Address Tuesday night.

"It highlights to me way it was such a huge mistake for Democrats to cave and come back to the table and reopen the government. Because what it did was it allowed the President and his allies to seize the initiative here, and to release this plan to the public. It's just shocking to me that Democrats didn't think ahead, 'What's coming up? The State of the Union.' This will allow the President to set the parameters of the debate," Faris says.

He charges that Democrats "went from a situation where they were fighting for one issue that they had a 53 point advantage on --- and that's DACA and the Dreamers --- to a situation where now we have multiple immigration proposals thrown together, and they all, at least, have good plurality polling for the President."

Faris, author of the upcoming book, It's Time to Fight Dirty: How Democrats Can Build a Lasting Majority in American Politics, argues the fate of the "Dreamers" may now, unthinkably, be left up to the hope that Trump decides to simply do the right thing for those 800,000 children brought here illegally as children decades ago by their parents.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with some good news (for a change) for Puerto Rico, some very good news for the state of New Jersey under their new Democratic Governor, and some more bad news for the planet and the state of Maine under their dumbest Governor in the nation...

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Trump proves (again) he knows nothing about climate change; Former CO GOP Chair sentenced for voter fraud; and other news you need to know...
By Brad Friedman on 1/29/2018 6:17pm PT  

Today's BradCast took several unexpected turns as news broke, callers called, and the Trump-era debunkery continued. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the many stories covered and/or debunked on today's program, before we opened up the line to callers...

  • In a surprise reversal, some good news to start off, as Donald Trump's EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt puts the brakes on a huge, dangerous, proposed Canadian mining project in Alaska's pristine Bristol Bay watershed;
  • In a weekend interview, Trump once again made clear he knows nothing at all about climate science (beyond what they told him about it on Fox "News) and doesn't care to learn. Desi Doyen joins us to correct at least some of the misinformation offered by the President of the United States' embarrassing comments to Piers Morgan;
  • Former Colorado Republican Party Chair and rightwing radio host Steve Curtis (pictured above) was found guilty of forgery and voter fraud in the 2016 Presidential election last year, after claiming on air, just before the election, that only Democrats commit voter fraud and they should be prevented from voting at all. On Friday, he was sentenced to four years of probation and community service, even as he claims he didn't know that voting his ex-wife's absentee ballot was unlawful. ("He knew exactly what he was doing," the prosecutor argued during the trial's closing arguments. "He received it in the mail, opened it, voted, signed it, sealed it back up and sent it in." All in his wife's name. She had moved out 11 months earlier.)
  • We then contrast the white Republican Curtis' lenient sentence for voter fraud to that of a Mexican national who came here as an infant, has long been a permanent US resident with four U.S. citizen children, but was sentenced last year to 8 years in federal prison and likely deportation thereafter for unlawfully voting. She thought she was allowed to do so as a permanent US resident;
  • On the encouraging side of election and voting rights news today, however, the North Carolina Supreme Court on Friday sided with the state's new Democratic governor, and effectively reversed a years-long effort by the state's Republican legislature to roll back many voting rights in the key swing-state.

And, with all of that, we then open our phone lines to all sorts of interesting listener calls, including one caller (one of our favorites) who argues that progressives should mount write-in campaigns to take on corporatist Dems, (we debate whether doing that or primarying such Dems is the smarter route to take), and another right-wing caller who pretends to have no idea how Photo ID voting restrictions suppress the legal votes of minorities --- or he simply doesn't care. (He also revealed himself to be a climate change denier, what a surprise, as the call turned quickly South)...

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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: Barbara Arnwine of the new Nat'l Commission for Voter Justice...
By Brad Friedman on 1/19/2018 6:50pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we're still fighting for the right to vote and to have that vote counted, 60 years after MLK's "Give Us the Ballot" speech, 50 years after the passage of the hard-won Voting Rights Act, 4 years after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted it, and one day after what my guest today describes as a "really wicked decision" by the Court on Thursday to set aside a landmark ruling on gerrymandering that was meant to finally correct a grave injustice to voters in 2018. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

With Republicans in the U.S. House, on Thursday, having passed a short-term stopgap spending bill to keep the U.S. Government from shutting down beginning on Friday night at midnight, Republicans in the U.S. Senate are still racing to figure out how to overcome a filibuster of the same bill. The measure includes support for kids that rely on the currently-expired Children's Healthcare Insurance Program (CHIP), but leaves some 800,000 kids of immigrants who came here with their parents still facing deportation as early as March, after Trump ended Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. So, once again, rather than simply including a fix to DACA, Republicans are using children as human shields to try and force Democrats to vote with them for a short-term bill to avoid a shutdown of the federal government. It would be the first such shutdown in U.S. history while the House, Senate and White House are all controlled by the same party.

Sick of this sort of BS? If so, you can theoretically do something about it this year at the ballot box. But the GOP's stolen U.S. Supreme Court isn't making it easy. On Thursday, SCOTUS stayed a landmark ruling by a lower federal court panel that had ordered North Carolina to immediately redraw the state's U.S. House district maps, since the Republican majority legislature admitted that they, unconstitutionally, drew them to ensure a Republican advantage. Though it's largely a 50/50 state, NC Republicans hold 10 seats in the U.S. House to the Democrats' 3.

That's just one of the ways that Republicans hope to keep cheating voters this year in order to hang on to power as the mid-terms approach. Another way was through Trump's discredited and now disbanded "Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity", run by the GOP "voter fraud" fraudster and Kansas Sec. of State Kris Kobach. He had hoped to use the Commission to make it harder (for certain people) to vote, but he faced yet another embarrassment in court this week. When Kobach's Commission was originally shut down a week or two ago, there was a cry from voting rights advocates for a national committee to study and call out the real scourge of American democracy: voter suppression.

That call may have been answered this week with the formation of the non-partisan National Commission for Voter Justice, co-chaired by my guest today, BARBARA ARNWINE, former longtime Executive Director of the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and now President and Founder of the Transformative Justice Coalition. Arnwine explains the new Commission's mission, responds to the "wicked" SCOTUS ruling on NC maps and other recent voting rights issues, and details many of the threats to democracy that must be overcome in 2018, more than sixty years after, as she and John Nichols note at The Nation this week, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his landmark "Give Us the Ballot" address on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1957.

"We gotta remember, we are looking at the Roberts Court. This is a man who made his life ambition the evisceration and the weakening of the Voting Rights Act. In fact, if he had had his way, there wouldn't be a Voting Rights Act, as he wrote many, many years ago," Arnwine says in response to the SCOTUS stay on the NC redistricting ruling and a similar one in Texas. "They are fine with these kinds of schemes --- gerrymandering and other devices and tactics that deny people the right to vote --- because they believe in their hearts that the result is fair, it's a result that they want, and it's a result that puts people into power that they favor. And that's wrong."

"We believe that democracy should be for every single voter. That's why we created the National Commission for Voter Justice, because every voter should have the right to be able to vote and to have their vote counted," the animated Arnwine explains. "Democracy should always be about a competition of ideas, a competition of the best candidates, and then the people make their choices. Politicians should never pick who their constituents are. The constituents should pick the politicians. We are in a reverse democracy right now."

It has, sadly, been that way for a while. I recalled today, while prepping for the show, that Arnwine and I were on a National Public Radio show back in 2008, facing off against the notorious GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Hans von Spakovsky, who, I suspect, was very used to getting away with his lies before that show. I also recall Arnwine's testimony to the Baker/Carter Commission on Voting Rights which was a panel created by Republican Party vote suppressors in 2005 to push for Photo ID voting restrictions. In comparison to the Trump/Kobach Commission, however, that panel was blue ribbon! The fight for democracy is never ending, it seems.

"Democracy is never permanent. It requires vigilance. It requires engagement. It requires organizations to monitor, to advocate for it," Arnwine tells me. "But it shouldn't be as bad as it is in the United States. That's the problem. The problem is that even with the fact that you've got to constantly seek it, it shouldn't be this bad. We should not have millions upon millions of voters finding themselves blocked from the polling booth. We shouldn't have three-hour lines. We shouldn't have machinery that everybody knows is worthless."

"But that's why the National Commission for Voter Justice is going to be coming to every area where we can," she says. "We're going to have over 20 hearings around the country, so that we can hear directly from voters what they are encountering, what their experiences are and, more importantly, what some of the solutions are, helping people to advocate for those changes."

Don't miss the full conversation today! It should get you pretty fired up for 2018, if you need any help.

And, finally, speaking of what Republicans are willing to do to get and hang on to power, a disturbing comparison of the dates set for U.S. House Special Elections to fill the seats of two different Congress members who both resigned during the same week last year (there will be a special election to fill the GOP seat in May, but the Dem seat will remain vacant until November), and the four --- count 'em, four --- convicted Republican criminals who have declared their intention to run for seats in the U.S. House and Senate in 2018...

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

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