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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, August 17, 2018
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 Victories, Battles Ahead: 'BradCast' 8/15/18
Guest: WI's own 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 More as Whitewater 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
  w/ Brad & Desi
Trump Admin using CA wildfires to undermine endangered species, push for logging; Amid record heat, Glacier Nat'l Park on fire; PLUS: Court orders EPA to ban dangerous pesticide...
Previous GNRs: 8/9/18 - 8/7/18 - Archives...
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
Yes, WAY beyond. 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'...
Federal Judge Orders New Light on 'Dark Money': 'BradCast' 8/9/18
Guest: CLC's Brendan Fischer; Also, new numbers in OH-12, KS GOP Guv primary, Hurricane Maria death toll...
'Green News Report' 8/9/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Trump's bringing asbestos back!; CA pushes back at EPA on mileage, emission standards, as state shatters record for hottest rainfall ever recorded; PLUS: Surviving 'Hothouse Earth'...
Previous GNRs: 8/7/18 - 8/2/18 - Archives...
Election System Failures, Results in KS, MO, MI, WA, OH-12: 'BradCast' 8/8/18
Also: Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY-Trump) indicted for insider trading...
Kobach, Kemp and Other GOP 'Voter Fraud' Frauds: 'BradCast' 8/7/18
Also: Why 118k voters were left off L.A. pollbooks; Buyers remorse as Trump undercuts own voters...
'Green News Report' 8/7/18
CA fire now largest in state history; Toxic algae wreaks FL havoc; Euro heat made Sweden shorter, endangers nuclear operation; PLUS: NC jury finds hog farmers stink...
Trump Targets Media After Shooter Opens Fire Inside Progressive Radio Outlet: 'BradCast' 8/6/18
Guest: Richard 'R.J.' Eskow on the Koch Bros' misleading study of 'Medicare-for-All' cost...
Sunday Collusion Confusion Toons
Both the 'collusion' and the confusion continue to worsen -- in many regards -- as documented by the nation's political cartoonists in PDiddie's latest weekly collection...
Corrupt Ryan Zinke and His 'Monumental' Screw-Up: 'BradCast' 8/3/18
Guest: CWP's Aaron Weiss; Also: TN primary results; Trump endorses wrong guy; TX chemical co. indicted...
'The Govt Is Not Going to Save Us. WE Are Going to Save Us.': 'BradCast' 8/2/18
Big US House Special Election in Columbus, OH; Trump, GOP Congress lying about election security; Admin's deadly scheme to rollback mileage, air quality standards...
'Green News Report' 8/2/18
2017 shattered global heat record; Firefighters face deadly CA blazes as heat rages across hemisphere; PLUS: SCOTUS allows kids' climate change suit...
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...


Or, The 'Conservative' Con Continues as the World Burns...
By Brad Friedman on 7/24/2018 6:25pm PT  

It's remarkable that Democrats --- and the mainstream corporate media --- have allowed Republicans to get away with claiming to be "conservatives" who support states rights, small government and local control for so many years. As it turns out, the exact opposite is usually true. That becomes abundantly clear whenever and wherever the GOP takes the reins of government power. We've got several examples of that, once again, on today's BradCast. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

As global climate change continues to shatter heat records across the country and planet, the death toll continues to rise along with temperatures and more intense, unexpected (if long-predicted) extreme weather. On Tuesday, at least 74 were killed in sudden wildfires in Greece. That toll, which is expected to rise, comes on the heels of hundreds killed by recent record rain, flooding and accompanying landslides in Japan, and at least 77 dead amid all-time record heat there over the past week alone.

Heat records are being shattered every day of late here in the U.S. as well, including in Phoenix where it topped out at a record 115 degrees on Monday, and where airplanes were grounded for several days last summer thanks to record warmth. This year, however, with the help of Trump's FAA, American Airlines has come up with a way to avoid being grounded despite new record temps. They've just raised the maximum temps under which their planes are allowed to take off! What could go wrong?

At the same time, the Trump Administration is now challenging the state of California's right to set their own fuel efficiency standards for cars, despite an agreement with the Obama Administration that had, with the approval of automakers, established a uniform nationwide standard. The state's right to set its own environmental standards at all --- as established over nearly 50 years under the federal Clean Air Act --- will now, reportedly, be revoked by Trump's EPA who, apparently, have no use for states rights (at least when that's inconvenient to GOP corporate funders.) Let the law suits begin continue.

Similarly, so-called "conservatives" in Texas are attempting to use Big Government state law to preempt efforts by local governments and voters in Austin, San Antonio and Dallas, who hope to establish their own rules for paid sick-leave. Some 40% of Texas workers, according to a recent study, are currently prevented from taking a paid day off when either they or their children get sick. The state's Big Government-loving Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton (facing his own securities fraud indictments) oppose the city measures, just as they have in the past when voters in local jurisdictions have attempted to ban fracking, raise minimum wage requirements or even ban plastic bags.

There is, however, a solution. We can all try --- try, at least --- to vote the liars and hypocrites out of office this November. In Nevada, for example, voters are now said to be on the verge of potentially electing the first female majority state legislature in our nation's history. To pull it off, however, and to flip local, state and Congressional seats from "red" to "blue" this year, voters will have to turn out and actually be allowed to cast a vote.

A new study from the Brennan Center for Justice suggests that may be more difficult than many currently appreciate. Their analysis finds that voters are being purged from the rolls at a record pace, particularly in jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination, where such procedures previously required federal preclearance under the Voting Rights Act (until the GOP majority on the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the landmark 1965 law in 2013.)

So, with just over 100 days remaining until this year's crucial midterm elections, please CHECK YOUR VOTER REGISTRATION to make sure you are still properly registered! Don't wait until its too late!

But, we close today with at least a bit of encouraging news. Despite the stolen GOP majority on the U.S. Supreme Court recently blocking lower federal court rulings finding U.S. House and state legislative seats had been unlawfully gerrymandered by partisans in several states, a number of statewide measures to end partisan gerrymandering will most likely be on the ballot this November. Unless, that is, so-called "conservative" Republicans block the so-far wildly successful, bi-partisan grassroots initiatives in states like Michigan, Missouri, Colorado and Utah...

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

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Guest: Legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern on 'Korematsu 2.0' and how the GOP's theft of the Supreme Court has finally paid off big time...
By Brad Friedman on 6/26/2018 6:27pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The U.S. Supreme Court seat stolen by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Senate Republicans --- who carried out the unprecedented blockade of President Obama's SCOTUS nominee Merrick Garland for almost a year following the death of Antonin Scalia --- paid off in spades today in two separate 5 to 4 decisions which should forever have an asterisk next to them in the history books. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

First up today, however, primary elections are being held in seven states on Tuesday in New York, Maryland, Utah, Colorado and Oklahoma, with primary runoffs in Mississippi and South Carolina. We'll have noteworthy results and problem reports on tomorrow's BradCast, though we already know of one huge problem in Baltimore. (No, it's not a mere "glitch" or "snafu", Baltimore Sun. It is a failure...at the very least!) On Monday night, it was revealed that Maryland failed to include updated voter registration information for some 80,0000 voters who made changes to their party affiliation or residential addresses since April of 2017. The announcement was made by the state late on the evening before Tuesday's elections, in which those voters were forced to vote on provisional ballots at the polls. Those ballots will be included in the results, but won't be tallied until next week.

Then, we're joined again today by Slate's great legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN to discuss both of the U.S. Supreme Court's grim rulings today on Trump's Muslim travel ban and on so-called "crisis pregnancy centers", as well as several decisions from Monday --- all of which, Stern correctly points out, would almost certainly have seen the opposite outcome under Garland instead of Justice Neil Gorsuch who has been the "decisive 5th vote" in each of the cases. "Every single one of the decision that we're talking about right now would have come out differently if Justice Merrick Garland were sitting on the Supreme Court right now instead of Justice Neil Gorsuch. We would have an end to partisan gerrymandering, an end to racial gerrymandering, an end to voter suppression, an end to crisis pregnancy centers' efforts to be lawless and not have to comply with basic medical licensing. The travel ban would be struck down. It's almost brutal to think about how all of these cases would turn out if the man who should be on the Court were on the Court."

Stern details Chief Justice John Roberts' 5 to 4 majority opinion in the travel ban case, in which the Court overturned multiple lower courts to uphold Trump's third attempt at banning immigrants and travelers from several majority Muslim countries. As dissenter Justice Sonia Sotomayor also does, Stern compares the ruling to the notoriously shameful 1944 Supreme Court decision in Korematsu v. U.S., which allowed Japanese-Americans to be forced into internment camps during WWII. Today's ruling is being described as "shameful", “hateful" and "racist" by immigration advocates and religious groups alike. Stern calls the decision --- in which Roberts largely dismisses Trump's oft-repeated statements revealing his personal animus towards Muslims --- as "Korematsu 2.0"

"This Court is not as disturbed and disgusted by Trump's approach to immigration as I think a majority of Americans are," he tells me. "This is a Court that's eager to bless the President's moves in the realm of national security, and to basically believe his pretext, even when it's flagrantly B.S"

Sotomayor argues in her dissent: "By blindly accepting the Government's misguided invitation to sanction a discriminatory policy motivated by animosity toward a disfavored group, all in the name of a superficial claim of national security, the Court redeploys the same dangerous logic underlying Korematsu and merely replaces one gravely wrong decision with another."

Stern also details Justice Clarence Thomas' 5 to 4 majority opinion which, under a pretext of First Amendment free speech rights, strikes down California's restrictions on anti-abortionist scam artists posing as phony medical clinics to hoax pregnant women into not receiving abortions. Thomas, charges Stern, "wrote an astonishingly broad decision that effectively says the government has no power to regulate professional speech, no power to regulate medical speech, or doctors' speech, except when they are telling abortion patients not to get abortions." In all, he says, describing how the Court is also targeting voting rights by reversing multiple lower courts in recent rulings, they are "on a kind of tear right now, overturning court after court" and/or using any "flimsy reason to send a case back down" for rehearing.

Yes, elections matter, if you haven't noticed. In the case of the 2016 election, the result will now haunt the U.S. for generations.

Finally today, we're joined by Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report on the climate changed-fueled flooding in Iowa that resulted in an oil train derailment and hundreds of thousands of gallons of dirty tar sands crude spilled into the drinking water supplies, and other such cheerful news to close out today's program...

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

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Guest: Legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern of Slate...
By Brad Friedman on 6/14/2018 6:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Happy birthday, Mr. President! To celebrate today, the New York Attorney general filed a civil lawsuit [PDF] against Donald J. Trump, his so-called "charitable foundation", and his children Eric, Don Jr. and Ivanka, charging that his foundation was used as little more than a personal and business slush fund, and to benefit his 2016 Presidential campaign. [Audio link to show follows below.]

All of that, NY Attorney General Barbara Underwood alleges in her suit, is in violation of both state and federal law. Many of the allegations against Trump's unlawful use of his foundation were reported in the run-up to the election, though much more self-dealing was discovered in the course of the AG's 2-year investigation, including that the Trump Foundation's board of directors had not met since 1999, that some board members had no idea they were even on the board, and that Trump's then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski personally directed checks to be written from the foundation for campaign purposes.

Underwood's petition seeks nearly $3 million in reparations and to bar both Trump and his children from sitting on the boards of other nonprofit charitable organizations. She also refers the matter [PDF] to the Federal Elections Commission and the Internal Revenue Service for further investigation.

In other important news today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 7 to 2 opinion finding that Minnesota's polling place ban on t-shirts and buttons with political slogans, such as those worn by 'Tea Party' members at the polls in 2010, is overly broad and violates Constitutional First Amendment free speech protections. Slate legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN joins us to explain the Court's opinion, as well as the far more disturbing ruling from the GOP's stolen SCOTUS earlier this week, when the Court found 5 to 4 in favor of Ohio's voter roll purge scheme by Republican Sec. of State Jon Husted.

That scheme begins the process for removing voters from the rolls after a voter fails to vote in one single federal election. Stern discusses the troubling opinion which overturns the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal's 2016 finding that the Buckeye State's scheme directly violates the 1993 National Voter Registration Act's restriction against removing a voter from the rolls "by reason of the person's failure to vote."

On today's ruling, I am somewhat less sanguine about what the Court ruled than Stern is, but it's a close call. On the Ohio case, I think we're both in agreement. As he notes: "First, you are identified for a purge because you didn't vote just one single time, and second, you are purged because you failed to cast a ballot. Again, that would seem to go against not just the text but the express purpose of both [the National Voter Registration Act and the Help America Vote Law]. So for Alito to claim that he's just following the text of the law, and dissenters are trying to enact their own policy --- that rings absolutely false to me."

Sterns explains the largely semantic trick that Justice Samuel Alito used to, essentially, flip the provision written by Congress onto its head on behalf of the court's five Republican appointees; how the state's massive purges have disproportionately affected minority and low-income voters; and how Trump and Jeff Session's Dept. of Justice has reversed an unprecedented number of positions on federal laws since taking office.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as even some Republicans appear to finally be turning against wildly corrupt fossil fuel industry "swamp monster" and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt...

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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An entire new decade of government control hangs in the balance...
By Ernest A. Canning on 2/26/2018 11:23am PT  

Don't get me wrong. The bold move by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in adopting a Congressional map that, according to an analysis cited by the Wall Street Journal, could see PA Democrats picking up as many as six Congressional House seats now held by Republicans, bodes well for those of us who value small "d" democracy and the rule of law.

So does the recent mind-boggling 85-point swing from "red to blue" in Kentucky, where Democrat Linda Belcher, in a Special Election, defeated her Republican opponent by 36 points in a state House district that Donald Trump carried by 49 points in 2016.

There are multiple indices of a public revulsion in response to Republican overreach that is much greater than that displayed in 2008 when Democrats rode a "Blue Wave" to victories that placed them in control of the White House, the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives.

Last year, polls revealed as little as 12% support amongst the American electorate for Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare. Another poll revealed that only 24% of Americans supported the GOP tax cut measure. (Though more recent polling suggests it's growing in popularity.) This year, a Quinnipiac poll, taken in the wake of the massacre at a Parkland, Florida high school, suggests that 2/3 of Americans have finally lost their patience with NRA-funded Republicans and their feckless "thoughts and prayers".

These surveys suggest a likelihood that Democrats in 2018 can recapture a majority in the U.S. House and potentially even the U.S. Senate --- a result that is critical to fending off the threat to democracy, political and economic equality and the rule of law now posed by the Trump/GOP oligarchic/kleptocratic agenda.

But a number of recent court rulings on extreme partisan gerrymandering reveal that the 2020 election will ultimately be of far greater significance than 2018, and not simply because it will be a Presidential election year…

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




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...

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Guest: David Daley of FairVote.org on 'Gill v. Whitford'; Plus: Updates on the disaster in Puerto Rico, gun massacre in Las Vegas...
By Brad Friedman on 10/4/2017 6:28pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the future of American democracy itself is once again in the hands of a now-stolen U.S. Supreme Court, in what democracy advocates describe as a case that is likely to help determine the partisan balance of Congress and state legislatures for decades.

But, first up today: Updates on Donald Trump's embarrassing Tuesday jaunt to hurricane-torn Puerto Rico, where the official death toll has now doubled from 16 to 34 and is expected to go much higher as 3.4 million U.S. citizens on the island still face desperate circumstances with food and water shortages and 95% of the island remains without power two weeks after Hurricane Maria (despite Trump's bizarre claims to the contrary.) Also, a few updates on what little more we now know about the massacre in Las Vegas on Sunday, the lack of a known motive for the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, and the shamefully transparent attempts by both the White House and Congressional Republicans to avoid any legislative policy action in its wake.

Then we move on to what democracy advocates describe as one of the most important cases to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in years. Oral arguments in Gill v. Whitford were heard on Tuesday. That is the case where a three-judge federal court determined the state of Wisconsin had used severe (and secret) partisan gerrymandering to redraw district maps after the 2010 census. In so doing, despite receiving a minority of votes (48.6%) after the new maps were drawn, Republicans gained an extraordinary 60-to-39 majority in the State Assembly.

The GOP is now appealing that federal court ruling to SCOTUS, which has held racial gerrymandering to be unconstitutional in the past, but has never ruled on whether purely partisan gerrymandering, as in this case, violates the Constitutional rights of voters.

We're joined by the man who wrote the book on modern-day gerrymandering, DAVID DALEY, author of Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy. Daley, formerly Editor-in-Chief at Salon, now Senior Fellow at at FairVote.org, spent the night on the sidewalk outside the Court on Monday, to get one of 50 seats at Tuesday's hearing.

He explains how high the stakes are in this case (which could result in court challenges to electoral maps in virtually every state in the union), the arguments presented by both sides in the matter, and how everyone --- attorneys and Justices alike, were focused on making their case to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who will most likely determine the course of U.S. democracy for decades to come, thanks to the Republicans' stolen 5 to 4 majority on the Supreme Court itself.

"This case is everything," Daley tells me. "If this case is not decided on the side of democracy, on the side of competitive elections, there will be nothing to stop Republicans, who are likely to be holding the pens in all of these states in 2021 from doing the same thing, only with more sophisticated technology that's developed over the last decade, with better data analytic skills than they had in 2011, with stronger predictive algorithms to try to figure out where people are going to live and how they are going to vote for the next decade. It will be 2031 before Democrats get another shot at the maps if this case is decided the other way."

Daley sees the case now before the Supremes as "potentially bigger" than either 2010's Citizens United, which gutted campaign finance laws, or 2013's Shelby County, which gutted the Voting Rights Act. "This is the future of our democracy right here."

"Republicans reinvented the gerrymander in 2010 and 2011. This is not the same kind of gerrymander that you had 'back in the day.' This is different," he insists, as I press him on whether Democrats are carrying out the same type of partisan maps in states that they control. "This is space-age extreme gerrymandering on steroids. It has given Republicans huge advantages in all of these states that they control. Ohio, a very swing state, is represented by 12 Republicans and 4 Democrats. Michigan is 9-5, even though Democrats in 2012 got a quarter of a million more votes. These are 50-50 states and it has made our politics deeply uncompetitive. There's no swing in these swing districts. You have not had a single seat go from red to blue in any of those swing states. On these maps, no seats have gone from red to blue this entire decade."

Incredibly, the Republican Justices other than Kennedy seem to believe the matter should not be decided by the courts, but should be left to the same rigged legislatures which created this mess in the first place. "In Michigan, this last decade," he notes, "Democrats have gotten more total votes every time. Republicans have kept control. This is the case in state after state. They have enshrined this problem. We need the Court here to come in and fix democracy"...

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Guest: Author, journalist Zachary Roth of The Daily Democracy | Also: Juan Cole responds to listeners on Afghanistan; Trump Admin reviews on Nat'l Monuments and the power grid; Hurricane Harvey aims at Texas...
By Brad Friedman on 8/24/2017 6:08pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we pick up with the news that broke at the end of yesterday's show, as a federal court in Texas had --- yet again (for at least the 6th or 8th time, nobody can even keep it straight anymore!) --- found the state's Photo ID voting restriction to be discriminatory, and intentionally so, against racial minorities. [Audio link to show follow below.]

We're joined by journalist and author ZACHARY ROTH, formerly of MSNBC, now of The Daily Democracy, to discuss what he describes as "the Rasputin of voting laws. It just refuses to die."

But, while it may or may not finally be dead forever, U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzalez Ramos has "permanently" struck down both the strict Photo ID law passed by Texas Republicans in 2011 (SB 14) and the amendment to it (SB 5) passed just this year in response to her previous rulings finding that the GOP law was written to intentionally and disproportionately disenfranchise racial minorities.

Roth finds that both of Gonzalez Ramos' rulings, on SB 14 previously and on SB 5 now, are "incredibly careful, well-reasoned and cogent. What she found in Wednesday's ruling is that the new, modified voter ID law that Texas passed this year does not do nearly enough to fix the problems of the original law that led to it being blocked." He says that she found, in fact, some elements of the new amendment make it "even more racially discriminatory" and include harsh new penalties that "appear to be efforts at voter intimidation" which, he describes as a "remarkably strong statement from a judge about a state's intentions."

The biggest questions now are: a) Will the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, the most conservative in the land, overturn the lower court (they didn't last time)?; b) Will the stolen Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court do so?; c) Will SCOTUS finally block all such discriminatory Photo ID laws nationally?, and; d) Perhaps the biggest question: Will Texas finally be bailed back in to the Voting Rights Act's provision requiring federal pre-clearance for all new voting laws in jurisdictions with a long history of racial discrimination? (Texas was covered under that requirement until SCOTUS struck down the VRA's list of such jurisdictions in 2013. Meanwhile, courts have now blocked three different discriminatory voting laws there in just the last eight days!)

We discuss all of that and more with Roth today, including why the GOP has been working so hard, for so many years, to enact this law; the lack of any evidence that it is actually meant to prevent fraud; the Trump DoJ's reversed position on this case; several other recent cases regarding redistricting in TX in which state Republicans were also found to have intentionally discriminated against minorities; and Roth's 2016 book, The Great Suppression: Voting Rights, Corporate Cash, and the Conservative Assault on Democracy.

Then, we received a number of interesting responses this week to my recent discussion with Middle East expert Juan Cole regarding Trump's flip-flop decision to remain in Afghanistan. We share some of those responses --- regarding oil pipelines and opium production --- along with Cole's e-mailed responses to them.

And, finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report' and a number green-related stories that have broken since, including on Ryan Zinke's Interior Department review of whether or not to shut down a number of National Monuments, Rick Perry's Energy Department review of whether renewable energy threatens the nation's power grid, and Hurricane Harvey which is now set to barrel into the Texas Gulf coast and linger for days, with a huge amount of rainfall along with it...

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Guest: Bob Kincaid of Coal River Mountain Watch | Plus: Trump's rampage of lies in Phoenix; TX Photo ID law found discriminatory again; more...
By Brad Friedman on 8/23/2017 6:20pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The President is an extraordinarily accomplished liar, and real journalist should unambiguously report as much. And, oh, yeah, he doesn't give an actual damn about coal miners or their families, either. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, following Donald Trump's wildly unhinged and indescribably embarassing campaign rally in Phoenix on Tuesday night, a few words on the unapologetic liar who has become President of the United States, and the responsibility that journalists have --- not just "commentators", but actual, hard news journalists --- to call him out as such.

Then, the UN calls out the United States with an "early warning" regarding the rise of racist demonstrations and the failure of "high-level politicians" --- wonder who they're referring to? --- "to unequivocally and unconditionally reject and condemn racist hate speech". And, a science envoy at the U.S. State Department publicly resigns following Trump's response to Charlottesville and the Administrations' ongoing War on Science.

Then, speaking of that "war", we're joined by West Virginia's own Bob Kincaid of the Coal River Mountain Watch, in response to the Interior Department's halt of a study by the National Academies of Sciences regarding the dangers of Mountain Top Removal coal mining to residents of West Virginia and Kentucky's Appalachian communities. Kincaid, co-founder of the Appalachian Communities Health Emergency Campaign (click the link to watch their :30 second video, and get more info about contacting your members of Congress!) is furious over what he describes as an attempt by the Administration and the coal industry to keep the well-established science linking Mountain Top Removal to cancer, death and birth defects from becoming widely known.

"It's not really mountain top removal," Kincaid tells me, explaining the process that is killing not only coal miners and their families, but their jobs as well. "It's mountain removal. You take vast amounts of...high explosives...and then you set it off. Huge clouds of dust then boil off the strip mine site and roll down into the hollers and into the valleys, and onto the places where people live, who then breathe it. Nothing in the human body can stop the dust. Because it's so fine, it's so tiny."

He goes on to explain how this has now been done "to over 500 mountains. They've buried over 2,500 miles of streams. That causes poisons to run into the water, etc., etc., etc. Over 2 dozens reports have shown that there are vastly elevated rates of cancer, birth defects, genitourinary diseases, pulmonary diseases, heart diseases, in areas where this dust falls."

And, he says, even though it was the state of West Virginia which requested the National Academies' study in the first place, the state's two U.S. Senators (Republican Shelly Moore-Capito and Democrat Joe Manchin), not to mention its Repub-turned-Dem-turned-Repub coal billionaire Governor Jim Justice, have been "as silent as a graven image," after the Interior Department halted this study of those "over 2 dozen" studies late last week. "It's sort of like 'Home on the Range', where never is heard a discouraging word, and the coal dust isn't toxic all day."

"You wind up getting this downright un-American suppression of science," tells me. "I'm not kidding. This isn't American! We used to follow science. It's not always been this way. This suppression is the kind of stuff they do in North Korea or the old Soviet Union."

Finally today, breaking news on yet another federal court ruling (it's either the 6th or the 8th, I can't even remember anymore!) finding the Texas GOP's Photo ID voting restriction intentionally discriminates against minority voters, and an all-electric Tesla SUV(!) smokes a half-million dollar Lamborghini in a record-setting drag race...

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Also: Attorney Ernest A. Canning on two new Indiana voter suppression suits | Callers respond to Trump's support for White Supremacists...
By Brad Friedman on 8/16/2017 5:57pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Is something happening here? Finally? [Audio link to show follows below.]

Following Donald Trump's insane press conference at Trump Tower on Tuesday, during which he vociferously equated neo-Nazis and White Supremacists with those who oppose them --- just days after the murder of a counter-protester by an apparent White nationalist in Charlottesville --- even some Republicans are finally condemning him. Sort of. But not nearly enough.

At the same time, Confederate monuments are being removed around the country and business leaders who claim to be furious have withdrawn from Trump's two different business councils, which he has now been forced to shut down. Nonetheless, despite their half-hearted protestations, Republicans continue to intentionally suppress minority voting in state after state. Another Federal Court determined as much this week in Texas, finding --- for the 11th time in recent years --- that state Republicans intentionally suppressed minority voters there.

Another such state is Vice President Mike Pence's Indiana, where a new analysis from the Indy Star finds that early voting sites were shuttered in Democratic counties and expanded in Republican counties after Obama won the state in 2008, and as Pence served as Governor. The strategy worked. Republican turnout increased in counties where voting rights were expanded and Democratic votes decreased in the state's largest and most Democratic leaning counties, where voting sites were shuttered. Now Pence heads up Trump's so-called "Election Integrity" Commission.

Long-time BRAD BLOG legal analyst ERNEST A. CANNING joins us to detail his new article on the two federal lawsuits, alleging violations of both the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution, that have now been filed in the Hoosier State.

Then, along with a clip of a GOP strategist breaking down into tears on Fox "News" in the wake of Trump's response to Charlottesville, callers --- including my own father! --- ring in on all of the above. Is Trump "a Nazi" himself? Will this moment ultimately make any difference moving forward? And, can the GOP officials rebuking Trump be taken seriously, given that they are still suppressing the votes of African-Americans and Latinos all across the nation at the very same time?...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 8/16/2017 10:35am PT  

In two separate federal lawsuits, Common Cause v Marion County Board of Elections (May 2, 2017) and Indiana NAACP v. Lawson (Aug. 9, 2017), both challenging restrictions on voting rights in Indiana, civil rights organizations have sought to block what they describe as unconstitutional Republican schemes that, with "surgical precision", seek to depress the vote in large minority, Democratic-leaning counties while contemporaneously enhancing voter turnout in white, Republican-leaning counties.

The lawsuits entail two sets of laws. One of the lawsuits seeks to block a law that specifically targets Lake County --- and only Lake County --- for precinct consolidation and/or elimination. Lake County sports the state's second largest African-American population and its largest Hispanic population. The other lawsuit challenges a voter suppression scheme that significantly reduces early absentee voting sites for a significant number of African-American (Democratic) voters in Marion County, even while mostly white (Republican) voters in neighboring counties benefit from a significant expansion in the number of available early absentee voting sites.

Both sets of laws, as observed by Slate's Mark Joseph Stern, are part of the still-ongoing Republican response to the 2008 Presidential Election in which Barack Obama narrowly defeated John McCain 49.85% to 48.82% in long-Republican Indiana. That narrow victory was secured, in part, because, in the two populous counties that are the subject of these lawsuits, Lake and Marion, Obama received 66.7% and 63.8% of the vote totals, respectively.

That was a bridge too far for many Republican officials in the Hoosier State...

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




Guests: Ari Berman, David Atkins, Jared Yates Sexton
GUEST HOST: ANGIE COIRO of IN DEEP Radio...
By Angie Coiro on 7/6/2017 6:00pm PT  

On today's BradCast, guest hosted by my own self, Angie Coiro of In Deep Radio, we peer over to Poland to see Donny still on the election trail - reliving his November victory for a whole new crowd bused in just for the occasion. He took the time, too, to remind everyone it's us versus the boogeymen.

The Election Commission has acquired yet another sworn enemy of voting - Hans von Spakovsky, who once pulled a sock-puppet act on law journal articles, endorsing voter suppression under a pseudonym. And the League of Women Voters released a full-blast denouncement of Kris Kobach, de facto head of Trump's "voter fraud" commission.

That takes us right to returning guest Ari Berman, author of Give Us The Ballot. He's added to his excellent introduction to Kobach at The New York Times Magazine with a more encouraging post at The Nation.

Then David Atkins builds on his Washington Monthly deconstruction of what happened with California's effort toward single payer. He's got some very specific ideas about why the GOP will cross the public to push AHCA: because they don't care.

Then a follow-up on this week's earlier story on the "Donny Trumps CNN" wrestling video, and the anti-semitic rants of the man who created it. Turns out the by virtue of finding that (still anonymous) man's Star of David-emblazoned CNN photos, journalist Jared Yates Sexton became a target of online Nazis.

Finally, a plea to Gloria Allred: how about you take on this misogynistic obscenity on Capitol Hill?

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Guest: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern of Slate...
By Brad Friedman on 5/30/2017 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast, Trump is back from his "incredible, historic" overseas trip, where everything was wildly successful, according to the White House. Longtime U.S. allies, however, do not appear to agree. Also, both he and fellow Republicans are facing a number of setbacks in court on both immigration and election-related matters. [Audio link to show posted below.]

The President returned from his 9-day overseas trip over the weekend amid still-growing investigations into Team Trump's secretive dealings with Russia and after, apparently, ticking off a number of very close U.S. allies. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in particular, appeared disturbed about several issues, including Trump's failure to commit to keeping the US in the landmark UN Paris Climate agreement. Also, both before and during the trip, Trump managed to repeatedly lie about NATO members' commitments to the alliance. We've got some much-needed fact checking on that.

In the meantime, over the past week, there have been a number of landmark court rulings, both at the Appellate Court level (regarding Trump's second attempt at an Executive Order banning travel from six Muslim-majority nations and indefinitely barring refugees from war-torn Syria) and at the U.S. Supreme Court in two separate election-related cases (one on campaign finance and one on partisan and racial gerrymandering that could have far-reaching consequences.) Both cases also reveal interesting --- and somewhat surprising --- positions from Justice Clarence Thomas and the stolen Supreme Court's newest Justice Neal Gorsuch.

Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern of Slate.com joins us to unpack all of those encouraging rulings, to explain why each is important, and to discuss what happens moving forward in all of them. He also offers a much-needed reminder of how the Trump Administration is still working below the mainstream media radar to deport thousands of undocumented immigrants --- on the thinnest of grounds, such as a traffic ticket --- despite many of them having lived in the U.S. since childhood or otherwise having children and family here. Those disturbing deportations continue, even as so many in the media (including us!) get too easily distracted by, as Stern notes, "Trump's latest tweets".

As to the election-related cases at SCOTUS, one of them, upholding campaign finance restrictions on the amount that individuals are allowed to donate to candidates and parties, may reveal what many have argued about Gorsuch --- whose seat was stolen for him by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the rest of the Senate Republicans. Namely, that he is at least as far to the Right as Clarence Thomas, and perhaps even more so.

The other finding by the Supremes last week, agreeing with a lower court ruling that two North Carolina Congressional Districts were unlawfully drawn on a racial basis, is likely to have far reaching consequences as applied to a number of other recent, similar cases (in Texas, Virginia, Alabama, etc.) in which Republicans were found to have unconstitutionally drawn districts based on race. But, and here's where last week's ruling may set an important precedent, the majority opinion written by Justice Elena Kagan also finds that using race as a proxy for partisan gerrymandering is also in violation of the Constitution. In recent years, Republicans have argued that certain voting restrictions and gerrymandered districts were not done on a racial basis, but on a partisan one. The latter, they argue, is perfectly legal and Constitutional. Incredibly enough, that may be true --- at least for the moment --- but it was rejected in the NC case.

The state had argued that black voters were packed into just a couple of districts because they tend to vote Democratic, not because they were black. "The problem for the Court with that was that even though North Carolina purported to be using race as a mere proxy for partisanship,it was still using race," Stern explains. "And the five Justices in the majority said, 'Look, we get that you think this was just about partisanship. We get that you weren't trying to discriminate against black people. You were trying to discriminate against Democrats. But you still used race, you used black people, to accomplish your goals. And that, in itself, is a violation of the Equal Protection clause.'"

In other words, he says, the Court found: "You are no longer allowed to use the excuse that you weren't discriminating against blacks, you were discriminating against Democrats. It doesn't matter who you were trying to discriminate against --- what matters is that you used race as a proxy. That is the constitutional tripwire."

As to whether discriminating against Democrats on a partisan basis, that argument is now being tested in courts, says Stern. For now, though, it appears to have failed, at least in this North Carolina case and, in a seemingly shocking turn, didn't even win over Clarence Thomas, of all people. He joined the Court's liberal justices to give them the 5 to 3 majority in the case!...

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Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton; Also: Two important election-related SCOTUS decisions and this week's U.S. House Special Election in MT...
By Brad Friedman on 5/22/2017 6:35pm PT  

The new Twin Peaks (which is excellent, by the way!) may be less surreal than the latest goings on inside our current White House. On today's BradCast, the latest news on the ever unfolding investigations into Team Trump and on his overseas trip (stories Trump already managed to conflate today), along with big election-related news from the U.S. Supreme Court and a quick preview of this week's upcoming U.S. House special election in the state of Montana. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Today, before we get to the latest in the David Lynchian tales of President Trump, two new and important election-related rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court. One, being described by UC Irvine Election professor Rick Hasen as a very "big deal" and "a major victory for voting rights plaintiffs" deals with racial and partisan gerrymandering in North Carolina, with ramifications for a number of other similar Republican gerrymanders in several states. The other is a victory for campaign finance restrictions. Both cases feature surprising alliances between Republican and Democratic-appointed Justices following last month's confirmation of Neal Gorsich to fill the vacant seat stolen by Republicans after the death of Justice Anton Scalia.

And, speaking of elections, we also preview the U.S. House Special Election set to take place in Montana this Thursday, as populist first-time candidate and popular folk singer Rob Quist barnstormed the state over the weekend with Bernie Sanders. Republican establishment candidate Greg Gianforte is said to have a small lead in pre-election polls, despite being recently caught on tape supporting the GOP health care bill while seeking money from wealthy lobbyists, even while telling voters on the stump he hadn't made up his mind about it yet. In addition to providing a bellwether for the 2018 elections, it may also serve to shake up the current, very serious divide within the Democratic Party itself, depending on how the results shake out this week. That divide has been somewhat obscured by the madness of the Trump White House, but the bitter split between Bernie and Hillary partisans is still very much creating a rift among progressives and Democrats.

Then, we're joined by the great Heather Digby Parton of Salon.com and the Hullabaloo blog to try and make sense of ALL of the latest in the increasingly surreal Trump Administration investigations, and the ongoing troubles Trump ("the clear and present danger"), his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn ("something wrong with him"), his Vice President Mike Pence ("Involved up to his eyeballs"), and many others. In addition to all of that and whether or not it may be heading towards impeachment, Parton also shares thoughts on Trump's overlooked recently reported threat to lock up journalists (reminding us that AG Jeff Sessions is "by far the most dangerous, malevolent person in the Administration") and offers insight on a number of late-breaking stories related to all of the above, including: Flynn, reportedly, now taking the 5th to avoid self-incrimination in response to Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenas; Trump digging himself deeper in Tel Aviv during his 9-day jaunt overseas; and now he may have even have lost a few of his own supporters following his speech on Islam in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

If you watched the new Twin Peaks over the weekend, as I did (the first two hours all year that I haven't thought about Trump, frankly!), what's going on in this Administration is even more difficult to make sense of right now, believe it or not. So, enjoy!...

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

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Guest: David Roberts of Vox; Also: Good voting rights news for NC, more details on the thousands turned away from the polls in WI in 2016...
By Brad Friedman on 5/15/2017 6:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Our friend David Roberts of Vox.com on making sense of Donald Trump's seemingly senseless decision making process --- and, somehow, learning to live with it and/or contain the damage. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, some good news! The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear North Carolina Republicans' appeal of the U.S. 4th Circuit Appeals Court ruling last year striking down what many have describes as the "Mother of All Voter Suppression" laws. The appellate court had found that state Republicans included provisions in the law that were intentionally discriminatory in that they were drafted in order to "target African-Americans with almost surgical precision".

But while that law was blocked last year in NC and will now remain blocked for the foreseeable future there, a similarly discriminatory Photo ID voting restriction was allowed to be used in Wisconsin last year, where Trump is said to have won by just 22,000 votes despite some 300,000 voters in the Badger State --- disproportionately African-American, poor, elderly and students --- who do not have the type of ID now required to vote under the GOP's restriction.

Last week, we detailed a new analysis of the affect of that law on the Presidential election results in WI last year, finding that some 200,000 otherwise legal voters may have been prevented from casting their vote. Today, we detail some of the specific voters who were prevented from voting last November, because of the discriminatory law, including, as AP reports: "The Navy veteran whose out-of-state driver’s license did not suffice, or the dying woman whose license had expired, or the recent graduate whose student ID was deficient", among others.

Then, we're joined by Vox' Roberts who, late last week, published a Tweetstorm in response to Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey, in which he attempted to explain why it's so difficult, if not impossible, for journalists, politicians and the public to make sense of the President's decision making process. That is largely, Roberts detailed in his Tweetstorm and in a follow-up article at Vox and to me today, because Trump doesn't have any such process --- at least beyond what feels good at the moment he makes the decision based largely on whatever the last person he talked to told him about the issue.

Roberts' assessment, which cites psychological conditions such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder and something called "Theory of Mind", actually helps to illuminate the reasons for Trump's otherwise, seemingly, reason-free process.

"There's clearly something wrong with the dude," says Roberts. "From all indications he just doesn't have those beliefs and commitments that carry over from situation to situation. By all indications on the surface, what he's doing is: every situation is new. He gropes around for what makes him feel powerful or in charge, and then sort of lunges at that, with no thought of commitments that came before, or consequences that might come after, or how it relates to other things he's said, or other people he's committed to, or anything really!"

"I compare it to a goldfish. Every situation is new. Every day is new. And he's just this sort of bundle of impulses." But while that, Roberts explains, makes Trump so difficult to cover from a journalistic standpoint, or to understand from a political or voter's perspective, it's also what makes him exceedingly dangerous. "Imagine if there's a viral outbreak, or imagine if North Korea really tries to provoke him. Even his allies --- even the people in his administration --- have to be thinking 'Do I know what he's going to do in that situation?'"

While many try to explain Trump's decisions as some grand design, or even as an attempt to distract from one issue or another, Roberts argues it's usually far simpler (and more troubling) than that. He also speaks to what we --- journalists, politicians and citizens --- can all do now in hopes of minimizing the damage that he will be able to cause until he finally leaves office one way or another...

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

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