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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, December 16, 2017
GOP Tax Scam's Final Mile; Tillerson's NK Flip; Packing the Courts; Trump Family Fail: 'BradCast' 12/15/17
A spoonful or two of sugar along with some of today's bitter medicine...
Trump FCC Kills 'Net Neutrality', Endangering Internet Free Speech: 'BradCast' 12/14/2017
Guest: Media reformer Sue Wilson; Also: More mega-mergers, Trump noms withdrawn, more...
'Green News Report' 12/14/17
  w/ Brad & Desi
Toxic smoke warnings from SoCal fires; New bad news for the Arctic; New good news for Tesla; World fights climate change without U.S.; PLUS: French prez makes good on promise...
Previous GNRs: 12/12/17 - 12/7/17 - Archives...
Veteran Recount Attorney Sees Little Chance for Moore in AL: 'BradCast' 12/13/17
Guest: Recount expert Chris Sautter on Jones' win, Moore's odds, AL Supremes' 'ballot images' ruling...
Internet Freedom of Speech Now at Stake
With Trump's Repub-majority FCC set to kill Net Neutrality, a media reformer on why the result will be another political horror show for Dems and the nation...
AL Supremes Allow 'Ballot Images' to Be Destroyed: 'BradCast' 12/12/17
Guest: David Rothschild's new study on whether real or fake news was the bigger prob in the 2016 election...
'Green News Report' 12/12/17
SoCal fire now CA's 5th largest ever; Trump Admin attacks private co. in nat'l monument fight, opens E. Coast to drilling, slows EPA actions against polluters...
Moore, Moore, Moore... and Other Vital News: 'BradCast' 12/11/2017
Terror attacks in NY, KS, NM; Pentagon to allow trans-gender enlistment; SoCal fires; Election integrity court win and deep dive before AL's insane U.S. Senate election...
GOP/NRA's 'Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act' Likely Unconstitutional
New bill rammed through House blocks states' rights on gun safety laws and may violate the U.S. Constitution...
Sunday Toons of the Soulless Moment
A lot of souls have been sold in recent days. For what in return? 'PDiddie' rounds up the consequences in his latest weekly toon collection...
Former CO GOP Chair Found Guilty of Voter Fraud: 'BradCast' 12/8/17
And other ironies and outrages: SoCal fires spread; Trump dumps science; Election Integrity suit in AL; House GOP ignores states' rights on guns; Listener e-mail...
'Green News Report' 12/7/17
Trump rolls back protections for two national monuments; Tribes, conservationists sue; GOP tax bill slashes renewables; PLUS: Credit firm warns cities on climate...
Two SCOTUS Cases This Week 'Take the Cake' for Absurdity: 'BradCast' 12/6/17
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Fires worsen in, near L.A.; Franken pressured by Dem Senators to resign...
NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
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...


Also, guest David M. Rothschild on a new study finding real, not fake, news was the problem in the 2016 Presidential election...
By Brad Friedman on 12/12/2017 4:55pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A last minute ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court, without plaintiffs even present, will allow the state to destroy electronic "ballot images" created by the state's digital computer ballot scanners in Tuesday's special election. Also, was it the fake news or the real news that tipped last year's Presidential election? [Audio link to show follows below.]

In Alabama, computer tabulators determine the intent of voters (either correctly or incorrectly), as cast on hand-marked paper ballots from Tuesday's highly contentious U.S. Senate Special Election between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones. The state Supreme Court, in a late ruling on Monday, issued a stay [PDF] that effectively reversed a lower court order [PDF] on Monday. That order had required all digital scanners in the state to be set to retain all such images created by the system as ballots are scanned through it. The stay now means that only in the exceedingly rare event of a hand "recount" of paper ballots will the public be able to oversee elections results to determine if the computers got it right on Tuesday.

We've been covering this issue for some time. (My original interview last week with election integrity and transparency advocate John Brakey, who helped organize the AL lawsuit is here.) Yesterday, it looked like a win for Brakey and the multi-partisan plaintiffs who filed in court to demand the state's retention of all digital images for inspection by the public, as per federal law requiring all election materials be retained for 22 months. But late on Monday, Secretary of State John Merrill and Alabama's state Election Administrator Ed Packard argued their case [PDF] ex parte (in otherwords, alone, without the plaintiffs there or allowed to respond) and received a favorable ruling from Roy Moore's old colleagues on the court. (Moore was formerly a State Supreme Court Justice, until twice being removed for failing to follow federal court orders.)

I spoke with Brakey and attorney working on the case, Chris Sautter, earlier today, as well as other experts. I've got details on their comments, and from the court documents, on today's show. Essentially, the state argued that state election officials didn't have jurisdiction to order county election officials to turn on the software switch on the scanners to retain all ballot images, and that doing so at the last minute, as the Circuit Court ordered on Monday, would "cause confusion among elections officials and be disruptive to" the election on Tuesday. That, even though the Circuit Court judge found it wouldn't cost the state anything to do so and that failing to turn on the setting that retains the images would lead to irreparable harm to the plaintiffs. Sautter tells me the state did not make the case for last minute confusion during the lower court arguments.

I suspect we'll have much more on that and on other problems reported at the polls today, on tomorrow's BradCast, along with whatever results --- accurate or inaccurate (who knows?) --- that the computers may report by then.

Then, after a flurry of fake news over the weekend during the final run-up to Tuesday's U.S. Senate election in Alabama, we discuss an alarming new study analyzing the effect of both real and fake news during the run-up to last year's Presidential election. Was it so-called fake news and Russian Facebook ads that gave Donald Trump the edge to defeat Hillary Clinton last year? Or, was it a failure by the mainstream corporate media --- the "real news" --- to responsibly cover important issues that the electorate needed before casting their vote? DAVID M. ROTHSCHILD, co-author of the new study published by Columbia Journalism Review, joins us today to discuss their --- at times, remarkable --- findings.

I'd strongly urge you to read their full damning report --- particularly if you are of the mind that fake news and ads said to have come from Russia, turned this election --- because there are too many detailed and troubling findings in it for me to adequately summarize either here or during today's program.

But, to cite just one aspect of my conversation with Rothschild about the report's analysis of 150 front-page articles in the New York Times over the 69 days prior to last year's November election, he tells me: "150 stories. And of that, there were just 10 stories where they actually really touched on a specific policy initiative of either of the candidates, the ideal thing that you would want the 'paper of record' to be supplying to people. The vast majority of stories were miscellaneous campaign stories. Over 50% of them talked about the horse race. Very small percentages, 15% or less, actually talked anything about policy, with even smaller percentages actually talking about the policies themselves. It was all about the horse race, all about the scandals, not about the impact of the election itself on policy, which is ultimately why we have elections and ultimately defines the impact of these elections."

His study notes that in just six days right before the election, "The New York Times ran as many cover stories about Hillary Clinton’s emails as they did about all policy issues combined in the 69 days leading up to the election." That said, ironically enough, as Rothschild notes, even the MSM coverage of the purported scandals was terrible, misleading and inaccurate as well! They, and we, never seem to learn.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green New Report, as unprecedented winter wildfires continue to ravage Southern California and as the Trump Administration continues to ravage the environment...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 12/4/2017 5:58pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The GOP rammed the largest tax increase in American history through the U.S. Senate in the middle of the night last Friday, and we open the phones to try to figure out what the alleged Trump/Russia "collusion" is actually supposed to be. [Audio link to show follows below.]

After several important breaking news items (Trump's unprecedented reversal of National Monument declarations in Utah by Presidents Obama and Clinton; His stolen U.S. Supreme Court allows his Muslim travel ban to be enforced, even while it's being challenged in lower courts; His new, full-throated endorsement of alleged Republican child molester Roy Moore in next week's U.S. Senate special election against Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama), we're back to the GOP "tax cut" hustle and the Special Counsel investigation of Team Trump.

First, on taxes, details on the thousands of corporate lobbyists (more than 6,000 of them!) who crawled out of the swamp to help write what will be the largest tax increase in U.S. history, as billions, if not trillions in wealth is set to be redistributed from the poor and middle class to the wealthy and already-wildly profitable corporations. The GOP and Donald Trump have been using a dubious list of "economists" to lie about and help jam through their scheme, which was passed by the U.S. Senate just before 2am on Friday night/Saturday morning, just hours after the 500-page final bill had finally been released to Democrats.

Then, we open up the phone lines for callers to answer my question about the alleged Trump/Russia "collusion", following the guilty plea on Friday by Trump's disgraced former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn for lying to the F.B.I.

While Trump's attempted obstruction of that investigation is quite clear (despite his personal lawyers absurd claims), as is the fact that members of his Campaign and Administration lied to federal law enforcement officials, which also unlawful, evidence of the originally alleged "collusion" on the 2016 election remains elusive.

Why all the lying by Team Trump? What are they attempting to hide? As much as I'd be delighted for all of this to bring down a wildly lawless and anti-American Administration, of course, I still remain unclear on what the initial crime actually was, or is even alleged to have been. So, at risk of being called "obtuse", I ask callers today about what that actual, specific original crime is --- before all of the obstruction and lying --- that is seemingly being hidden by Team Trump, alleged by Democrats and probed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

We open the phone lines for callers to explain it all...if they can...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 12/1/2017 6:28pm PT  

On today's BradCast, there are two major stories to cover. Both huge. But the one that is receiving less coverage than it needs, is the one likely to upset American life as we know it for decades.

First today, Donald Trump's former National Security Adviser, Gen. Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty to one count of lying to F.B.I investigators about conversations he had with Russia's U.S. Ambassador concerning sanctions against Russia and a U.N. vote regarding Israel during Trump's transition to office, among other things.

He is being offered leniency by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in exchange for his cooperation in the on-going Trump/Russia probe. The White House spent the day downplaying the charges, though reports and court documents filed on Friday indicate the President's Son-in-Law and senior adviser Jared Kushner could be among those now in the sites of federal investigators. Flynn is the fourth member of Team Trump to be charged by the Special Counsel and the first to have served during the Administration itself.

As that played out on Friday, Senate Republicans continued to push their massive $1.5 trillion tax scam through Congress, which, as we discuss today, is much more than just a massive tax cut for corporations, donors and the wealthiest U.S. citizens. The bill has also become a catch-all for long-sought, far right-wing causes, such as establishing rights for fetuses and repealing a 60-year old ban on partisan political activity by tax-exempt religious organizations.

In addition to offering windfalls for the rich, while increasing taxes on most of the middle-class, the far-reaching legislation will also curb the ability for states and cities to provide basic needs to residents, while otherwise undermining the economic system on a generational scale by removing deductions for state and local taxes, higher education and much more.

Perhaps most disturbingly, as experts and lawmakers admit, the scheme will blow such an enormous hole in the long-term national debt that, as Republicans have made clear, additional massive cuts to social safety-net programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will be next on their agenda. In all, the massive redistribution of wealth from low- and middle-income Americans to the richest elite in the country will serve to cripple generations of younger Americans.

But, yes, Michael Flynn was charged with a crime on Friday and may now sing on the President and his team. The White House is likely unhappy about that, even if Republicans in Congress are unlikely to mind the distraction at all, as they push their generational tax scam over the finish line.

Finally today, speaking of paying a price for generations to come, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report...

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

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Guest: Journalist Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel; Also: Reporter Mike Stark violently arrested covering VA's GOP Gubernatorial candidate...
By Brad Friedman on 10/31/2017 6:05pm PT  

To paraphrase an infamous tweet from the now-suspended Twitter account of long-time dirty trickster and Trump ally Roger Stone, it could soon be Attorney General Jeff Sessions' "time in the barrel", according to my guest on today's BradCast. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The Trump Administration and his supporters have been very busy today, working hard to downplay the Monday indictments unsealed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller against three campaign officials. Two of them, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, pleaded not guilty. The other, George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty, has been quietly cooperating with prosecutors for several months. The Campaign's former foreign policy advisor, has since been dismissed by Team Trump as little more than a "low-level volunteer" and a "coffee boy" over the 24 hours since the indictments were unsealed, revealing that Papadopoulos was charged with lying to federal prosecutors about conversations he had had with an unnamed "professor" said to be tied to Russia and claiming that Moscow had "thousands of emails" revealing "dirt" on Hillary Clinton.

I'm joined today by investigative journalist MARCY WHEELER of Emptywheel to help separate partisan hope from partisan hype regarding Mueller's investigation. We focus on the Papadopoulos case specifically, discuss whether it reveals "collusion" with Russia (which both the Trump Administration and Russian officials strongly deny), and why she believes, as reported at The Intercept, that, more than anything, the specific charges in that case may signal very bad news for Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

We also discuss what we now know (and don't) about the email hacks, what Mueller may have gained by waiting until Monday to reveal the indictments (Hello, unqualified USDA nominee Sam Clovis! Sam who?), and whether it's possible --- or even likely --- that Papadopoulos may have been wearing a wire during conversations with Trump officials in the months since he agreed to cooperate with federal investigators.

"Papadopoulos plead guilty for lying. We don't know why he lied, and why everyone keeps lying," Wheeler observes, adding a note of caution for the many anti-Trumpers who have been giddy since "Mueller Monday". "There's some smoke there. There may well be fire. I just think that everyone who opposes Trump has to be very careful about screaming 'fire' before we have evidence of fire. We have a legal system to sort that out. And until Trump does something to fire Mueller, or in another way thwart the investigation, we should let the investigation do what our legal system is supposed to do."

Also covered on today's show...

  • Reporter Mike Stark of ShareBlue, who has been dogging Virginia's Republican Gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillsepsie with questions about his lobbying past in advance of the state's November 7 election next Tuesday, was violently arrested over the weekend. Stark appeared on The BradCast as our guest just last week. We've got details on what happened, including comment from Stark;
  • A new poll finds Americans very pessimistic about the current state of American democracy and politics (including the vast majority of those who lived through the Vietnam era.);
  • Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with what suffices for some 'good news' updates out of Puerto Rico and much more;
  • And, we end with the breaking news late today of what New York officials are describing as a "terror" attack in lower Manhattan, after a pickup truck plowed into bicyclists, leaving 8 dead and 11 seriously injured as of the end of today's show...

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

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Guest: Garland Favorito of VoterGA; Also: Special Counsel Mueller unseals Team Trump indictments. One pleads guilty, two plead not guilty...
By Brad Friedman on 10/30/2017 6:55pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The first indictments by Special Counsel Robert Mueller are unsealed, and we continue to stay on the disturbing case of the state of Georgia's "wiped" election server as revealed late last week. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, two Trump Campaign officials pleaded not guilty and one plead guilty, to indictments unsealed on Monday stemming from the Special Counsel's investigation of Team Trump and charges of "collusion" between them and Russia during the 2016 Presidential election. We detail the facts as layed out by the 12-count federal indictment against former Trump Campaign chairman and CEO Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates charging that Manafort received some $75 million in income via his work for now-ousted Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych and the political party which supported him. Both are allies of Russia.

The charges do not include any "collusion" between Manafort/Gates and Russia on behalf of the Trump Campaign, but detail how Manafort, aided by Gates, hid his income from federal officials, failed to register as a Foreign Agent related to his lobbying work in the U.S., and otherwise attempted to launder some $18 million from their many offshore accounts through various schemes in the U.S.

Pleading guilty, according to indictment documents released by the Special Counsel, was George Papadopoulos, an unpaid foreign policy adviser to the Trump Campaign, who allegedly lied to federal investigators about his contacts with an unnamed "professor" said to have told him about "dirt" that Russia supposedly had regarding Hillary Clinton from "thousands of emails" that the US Intelligence Community later said were hacked by Russian agents. Papadopoulos is now cooperating with federal prosecutors.

The White House denies that any of the charges implicate the President or his Campaign. The DNC argues otherwise.

Then, picking up on the disturbing breaking news late last week that officials in Georgia "wiped clean" the Election Server used to program both last year's Presidential Election in the state and this year's U.S. House Special Election in June, we speak with GARLAND FAVORITO of VoterGA.org

The server wipe, confirmed via internal emails, came just days after a bi-partisan lawsuit [PDF] had been filed in July regarding the results of those elections, which were carried out on the state's 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems, and after the systems had been programmed via the server that we learned earlier this year had been left completely vulnerable on the Internet for at least 6 months, beginning as early as August of 2016.

The vulnerable server was used to store personal voter registration data for 6.7 million GA voters, as well as ballot programming definition files for the state's computer voting and tabulation systems, and administrative passwords to access those systems. It was first discovered as freely accessible via the Internet by a data security researcher who informed officials at the Kennesaw State University Center for Elections, which has been contracted to handle all of Georgia's elections systems for the past 15 years. The Center left the system up and completely vulnerable during last year's Presidential election and until just prior to the June special election.

Favorito explains the latest developments in that case, as well as his group's new statistical analysis, published a week before the news of the wiped server (and its two backup servers) became public. The report explains what the group sees anomalous election results in the Special U.S. House Election in Georgia's 6th Congressional District in June. The longtime Election Integrity advocate and IT expert details the 72-page report's analysis, concluding that it is "statistically improbable that the reported results are correct" and that they are more likely explained by the manipulation of GA-06 results at the state level, possibly by "external or internal" hackers with free access to the unprotected and now-deleted server.

His conclusion, he explains, is based on analysis of results finding that the Democrat Jon Ossoff soundly defeated Republican Karen Handel by a nearly 2 to 1 margin in the only publicly verifiable results (the mail-in paper ballots) even with a Republican-leaning mail-in electorate. Yet, the Democrat still managed to "lose" somehow, according to the state's highly-vulnerable, easily hackable, unverifiable touch-screen voting and tabulation systems used for early in-person and election day voting.

"The nutshell, the bottom line of it," Favorito tells me, "is that we found that it is statistically improbable that these 6th District runoff results could be correct. And if they are not correct, that means there had to either be some kind of tampering or fraud involved."

We discuss all of that today, including whether GA's Republican Sec. of State Brian Kemp's claims that he knew nothing about the server wipe should be trusted, and whether its still possible to piece together what may have happened in the recent U.S. House race, now that the server at Kennesaw has been mysteriously, if thoroughly, deleted.

All of this comes just days before voters in GA head back to the polls for next Tuesday's municipal elections in Atlanta and elsewhere, which are set to be run on the very same hackable, vulnerable and 100% unverifiable systems...

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

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Also: New details in the mystery of Georgia's 'wiped' election server...
By Brad Friedman on 10/27/2017 5:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Who ordered the state of Georgia's election server to be completely destroyed amidst a federal lawsuit filed in July? And working to mitigate the "clear and present danger" President Donald J. Trump poses to the nation and the world. [Audio link follows below.]

First up today, a number of follow-up details, for now, on the story we reported yesterday in depth about the state election server computer that was mysteriously "wiped clean" in Georgia, just after a lawsuit was filed questioning whether results were electronically manipulated in some fashion during last year's Presidential election and this year's U.S. House Special Election in the state's 6th Congressional District.

Both contests were run on Georgia's easily-hacked, 100% unverifiable Diebold touch-screen systems and computer tabulators, and programmed by Kennesaw State University's Center for Elections. As AP reported on Thursday, the Center, after 15 years handling all programming for the state's elections, has now completely deleted the server that had been used for programming, including its two back-up servers. Questions remain as to whether the FBI might have an "image" copy of that server, officials are calling for a criminal investigation, and nobody yet knows who ordered the computer hard drives to be completely wiped and "degaussed three times".

We also share a terrific related listener email, and detail some of the terrible reporting on this matter by at least one corporate outlet (which we were able to get them to, at least partially, correct last night.) But, we hope to have much more on this story on our next BradCast.

Then, among the other stories covered on today's program...

  • The American Legion is calling on Trump to protect veterans by vetoing legislation passed this week that will prevent Americans from being able to file class-action lawsuits against big banks and other corporate institutions for fraudulent and deceptive practices;
  • A Military Times poll finds Trump is very unpopular among military officers, though somewhat more popular among enlisted troops;
  • Defense Sec. James Mattis is wildly popular among everybody in the military, though he may be less so, of late, with the Commander-in-Chief. Mattis has been speaking with troops in South Korea and calling for diplomatic solutions in the very dangerous, potentially-nuclear standoff between Trump and North Korea;
  • Democrats in the U.S. Senate introduce legislation to keep Trump from launching a pre-emptive strike, "nuclear or conventional", with North Korea, in hopes of forcing him to follow the Constitution as per the founders, who specifically granted Congress the exclusive right and duty of declaring war against another nation;
  • Trump responds to the $10 million NeedToImpeach.com campaign launched by Tom Steyer, by describing the California activist billionaire as "wacky" and "totally unhinged" in response to the campaign's ad describing the President as "a clear and present danger";
  • And, speaking of "wacky" and "unhinged", Roy Moore --- the twice-disgraced, far-right Republican former Alabama Supreme Court Justice who Trump is supporting in Alabama's U.S. Senate special election coming up in December --- explains why he believes the U.S. Supreme Court's Obergefell ruling that legalized same-sex marriage is "even worse" than the Court's infamous 1857 Dredd Scott opinion which essentially legalized slavery across the U.S. and helped lead the country into the Civil War...

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: Longtime nuclear weapons analyst Stephen Schwartz; Also: Flake won't seek re-election, rebukes Trump, party; Corker/Trump's sad war...
By Brad Friedman on 10/24/2017 6:49pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Trump continues to blow up the GOP today. But what, if anything, will stop him from doing the same, literally, to the world? [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Yet another Republican U.S. Senator has decided they've had enough. Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake stunned D.C. today by joining Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker in deciding that he will not run for re-election in 2018 after all. He offered a blistering rebuke of Donald Trump, fellow GOP members of Congress, and the Republican Party itself while making his announcement on the Senate floor on Tuesday. That development came after a remarkably rancorous (and, in truth, very sad) series of media/Twitter back and forths earlier on Tuesday between Corker and Trump.

We cover all of the above today, with a focus on Corker's charge that the President of the United State is, himself, not only failing the country, but a real and present threat to national security in regard to North Korea and other foreign policy concerns.

With that in mind, following the disturbing report over the weekend that the U.S. Air Force is now preparing for the possibility of placing nuclear-armed bombers on 24/7 ready alert for the first time since the end of the Cold War, we are joined by longtime nuclear weapons policy analyst STEPHEN SCHWARTZ of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. Schwartz, formerly the longtime Executive Director and Publisher of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (keepers of the infamous "Doomsday Clock"), explains the reasons --- sensible or otherwise --- the White House and US military might make this extraordinary move, which, he charges, is fraught with any number of perils. It's particularly puzzling, he explains, given that the U.S. already has hundreds, if not thousands of nuclear-armed Intercontinental Missiles at the ready on both land and sea. It is, at various times, a chilling, maddening, and (somewhat) comforting conversation and incredibly enlightening from top to bottom.

(For those interested, here's that disturbingly graphic idea from Roger Fischer in the 1981 Bulletin that I mentioned, regarding making a President's decision to launch nukes much less abstract".)

Schwartz speaks to, among many other things: Why the Air Force may be doing this; How China and Russia, much less North Korea, may respond; Whether or not Congress should finally step in to ensure the U.S. never launches a nuclear first strike, no matter who occupies the Oval Office; Whether or not he agrees with Corker's assessment that Trump is a threat to national security and world peace; And what, if anything, might prevent Trump from "pushing the button" in "a fit of Twitter pique."

"I think we are long overdue for the point of having a national discussion over what it means to put one person and one person alone in charge of authorizing the use of nuclear weapons," he tells me. "Regardless of who is President, if anything good comes out of this, it will be that people are much more aware of the power that a President has to incinerate the world, how many nuclear weapons we have, still, and what our plans are for them."

"I don't worry about Donald Trump so much deciding in a fit of Twitter pique or whatever to launch a nuclear attack," he warns. "I worry that his ignorance, and his arrogance, and his complete lack of knowledge about all things nuclear, not to mention all things foreign policy, will end up getting him blundering into some sort of crisis from which there will be no real escape."

On that point, Schwartz also offers his assessment of whether the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists will move their Doomsday Clock forward once again in their annual assessment, after moving it forward to "2 and a half minutes to midnight" back in January. That was well before the recent disturbing threats by Trump to bring "fire and fury" and "totally destroy" North Korea several weeks ago. The last adjustment was also prior to the Trump Administration's wildly aggressive actions to undermine environmental policy meant to mitigate the existential threat of Climate Change, which the Doomsday Clock has also taken into account since 2007.

Finally, speaking of our climate crisis (and making it worse), we're joined by Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report as the hottest World Series in baseball history gets under way out here in Los Angeles, with the mercury hitting a record 104 degrees today...in late October...

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Guest: Former Puerto Rican power commissioner Ramon Cruz...
By Brad Friedman on 10/23/2017 6:03pm PT  

The struggle for 3.5 million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico is "getting worse by the day", my guest who recently returned from the island tells me on today's BradCast. So, I'm afraid, is everything else, it seems, as the President of the United States continues to put the nation on a war footing (potentially, a nuclear war footing) in advance of his upcoming trip to Asia. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

A disturbing new report over the weekend cites the U.S. Air Force readying a Louisiana military base to place "nuclear-armed bombers back on 24-hour ready alert" for the first time since the end of the Cold War in 1991. Why? What is the imagined threat that makes such a dangerous (and expensive) posture necessary? Particularly as nuclear armed land- and submarine-based Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles are already in place by the hundreds or thousands and would surely provoke response from adversaries real and perceived?

And, of course, all of that, even as Americans are still fighting for their lives in Puerto Rico, thanks in part, to a shortage of relief funding. Yes, power remains out for some 80% of the island, more than a month after Hurricane Maria made her devastating landfall. We're joined today by former Puerto Rico Energy Commissioner, RAMON CRUZ, who is now on the Sierra Club's National Board of Directors and serves as an advisor to the United Nations on climate policy.

Recently back from the island, Cruz, a Puerto Rican native, details the deteriorating situation on the ground, particularly away from the capital of San Juan, and warns, as he did in his recently published op-ed for The Hill, that the "vultures" are already descending "to feast on the opportunities presented by the recovery efforts."

Cruz tells me that things in the interior of the island are "getting worse by the day," despite Trump grading his own federal relief efforts with a "10" out of 10 last week during a press avail at the White House. "Ultimately, who cares about what grade he gives? There's still people that [lack] all these necessities. It's really infuriating. The fact that they lost everything, and they still are drinking contaminated water, in ways that are completely preventable. That's the real disaster. In that case, if I could give negative points, I would give that."

He notes that his own father, for instance, who lives just 40 minutes from San Juan "still has no electricity, cell or water service" and many in mountain towns "have received a visit from the authorities only once, if any, and to bring a couple of water bottles and some canned sausages." The relief effort is failing, he charges, citing, for example, a delivery of "100 pallets of solar panels, but it still will take at least a month to go through the shipping process" before they can actually be deployed.

Cruz details why PR's power grid took such a hit from the storm, why it is so difficult to restore it to the already-deficient state it was in prior to the storm, and how decentralized energy micro-grids, relying on clean, renewable energy and battery storage, are now more important than ever, even as opportunists begin to take advantage of relief funds and the desperate Puerto Rican people.

"A lot of these [power generating stations] are decades old," he notes. "So you have these monstrosities of this very centralized system. They're very inefficient, they operate with some of the dirtiest fuels, and they should have been changed, should have been retired [a] long time ago. But because of several reasons --- everything from mismanagement, corruption, lack of capital, lack of creativity, bad business models, etc., they were not changed. And now you see these kinds of effects."

"In terms of human power, you have a lot of able Puerto Ricans to help," Cruz argues. "As a policy person, I think Americans in the mainland could help a lot by putting pressure on their elected officials to send a decent relief package to Puerto Rico, or to hurricane-affected areas. And to have, for example, a climate adaptation plan. I think everywhere on the coast, everywhere that is vulnerable to climate change, to global warming, there should be a plan for how to deal with essential infrastructure." That, he says, is "extremely important" but lacking in Puerto Rico and, unfortunately, too many other locations which could find themselves, before long, in as bad or worse condition than Puerto Rico...

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Guest: Orange County, CA Registrar of Voters, Neal Kelley, member of new DHS Election Infrastructure Coordinating Council...
By Brad Friedman on 10/18/2017 6:26pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Accurate reporting matters. So do accurately tabulated elections. So does accurately reporting about elections and their results and allegations made about attempts to "hack" American elections. [Audio link to show follow below.]

While the U.S. corporate media have ever-so-slightly improved since they fell hook, line and sinker for the George W. Bush Administration's government propaganda following 9/11 --- resulting in the Iraq War and all that has come, and is still coming ever since --- they're not doing much better when it comes to Trump's saber rattling over Iran's non-existent "nuclear weapons program", or their coverage of the government's claims concerning Russia's alleged "hacking" of election systems in 2016. (Or, as MSNBC's Rachel Maddow unhelpfully describes it over and over, "Russia's attack on our election!")

We try, today, to help clarify what the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security and the corporate media did not, when it came to DHS' erroneous allegation in late September that the "Russian government" attempted to hack voter registration systems in 21 states and that "no votes were manipulated or changed" in the 2016 election. (For example, as we noted at the time, days later, DHS admitted they were wrong about Wisconsin, and California's Democratic Sec. of State said further investigation revealed that claims "turned out to be bad information from DHS." As to whther any votes were changed in 2016, the DHS admitted over the Summer that they don't know, because they never actually checked!)

But, hey, if it takes concerns, accurate or otherwise, about "Russia hacking" our elections to wake up the nation and its government to the very real threats posed by electronic voting, tabulation and registration systems we'll take it! We've worked for nearly 15 years here at The BRAD BLOG and on The BradCast to warn about that threat --- whether it comes from Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, ISIS, France, Germany, some guy in Little Rock, Arkansas or any election official or insider anywhere in the nation!

So, on related matters, and what we will all look forward to as the 2018 election cycle begins, we're joined by longtime Orange County, CA Registrar of Voters NEAL KELLEY, following the first meeting of the new DHS Election Infrastructure Coordinating Council, created after President Obama's Directive in January declaring the nation's election systems, in all 50 states, to be recognized as "Critical Infrastructure" by the U.S. Government.

Kelley, a member of the new 27-member council which convened in D.C. over the weekend for the first time, joins us to explain what this panel actually is; what the designation as "critical infrastructure" actually means in practical terms for the nation's voting, tabulation and registration systems; how this commission was set up, who appointed its members, and how it differs from Trump's phony "Election Integrity" Commission; whether the "critical infrastructure" designation intrudes on states' Constitutional independence in running their own elections; whether the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (or EAC, on which Kelley is also an Advisory Board member) should be defunded, as Republicans in Congress have long sought; how DHS dropped the ball on 2016 and its aftermath; and, while we have him here, whether or not Orange County will ever replace its 100% unverifiable Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting systems with a verifiable paper ballot system. (See my own disastrous experience with the OC's voting system back in 2011 here.)

We also get Kelley's reaction to a newly-signed CA law (AB-840), supported by Democrats and virulently opposed by many Election Integrity advocates, that allows County Registrars to completely ignore millions of provisional and Vote-by-Mail ballots when conducting their state-mandated 1% post-election manual "audits".

Finally, speaking of Trump's phony voter fraud commission (which is decidedly distinct from the DHS panel that Kelley now sits on!), we've got several pieces of troubling news today, including the recently reported child pornography arrest of one of its researchers, and the sudden death on Monday of one of the Commission's very few Democratic appointees...

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Plus: Trump deflects on Puerto Rico disaster; DHS wrong on 'Russia hacking'; Callers ring in on all of that and more...
By Brad Friedman on 9/28/2017 5:59pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we open the phone to callers to discuss another very busy news week, though most want to talk about election integrity. That's good. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the stories we cover before we get to listener calls: The Trump Administration is blocking members of Congress --- both Democratic and Republican --- from taking military flights down to Puerto Rico, for some reason, where the disaster for 3.5 million U.S. citizens following Hurricane Maria is said to be quickly deteriorating. Meanwhile, Trump continues to sing his own praises for his handling of the disaster, while using his Twitter account to tweet about the NFL instead of offering help or support for the storm victims.

Then, the state of Wisconsin finally decertifies its terrible, two-decade old Optech Eagle paper ballot tabulators which will only read marks in pencil (not pen). That, despite many WI municipalities which used those same machines to both tally and then 'recount' the 2016 Presidential election, rather than ever count ballots by hand. Those machines may well be replaced by 100% unverifiable touch-screen systems. Also, though the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security informed the state late last week that Russia attempted to hack their voting system last year, it turns out DHS now admits has no such evidence.

Here in California, where DHS told the state the same thing last week (and apparently got it wrong there as well), Democrats in the state assembly recently passed a bill, AB-840, that will make stealing elections easier, by removing nearly half of the ballots cast from the state's 1% post-election hand 'audit'. Governor Jerry Brown (D) is now deciding whether to sign the bill, which election integrity advocates and voting system experts are begging him to veto instead, describing AB-840 as a "roadmap to fraud". You can contact the Governor with your opinion on whether he should sign or veto right here.

Callers ring in on all of that today, and challenge me on a point or two regarding voting and election fraud, before Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, on the rapidly devolving humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, and even some good news about coal for the Pacific Northwest (and for all of us, in truth)...

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

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Guest: TPM Congressional reporter Alice Ollstein previews next week's return of Congress | Also: Lots of U.S./Russia news, Harvey updates...
By Brad Friedman on 8/31/2017 6:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast: As bad it's all been, it's about to get much worse, as the devastation from Harvey continues and as Congress returns to session following the Labor Day holiday. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first up today: What we know and don't (and why we don't) about the explosions at a swamped chemical plant north of Houston; Russia warns the U.S. that further sanctions against North Korea would be "dangerous"; U.S. continues diplomatic tit-for-tat with Russia by ordering several more diplomatic facilities closed, and; Special Counsel Robert Mueller is now reportedly working with NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in their criminal probes of Team Trump in what could serve as an end run around Donald Trump's pardon power of his associates at the federal level, and even a hedge against the possibility of the President removing the Special Counsel from his post in some way.

Then, as horrible as August has been on so many levels, TPM Congressional reporter ALICE OLLSTEIN joins us for some breaking news, and to explain why September could be even worse as Congress reconvenes next week following Summer recess, with "a nightmarishly short calendar during which they must pass a host of bills" to, among other things, approve a budget to keep the government from shutting down and avoid a federal default by raising the debt ceiling.

That, along with the need to fund disaster relief for Harvey, reauthorize children's healthcare and the national flood insurance programs by the end of the month, amid ongoing feuds between Trump and GOP Congressional leadership while the President threatens to shutdown the government if Congress fails to fund his border wall, almost assure what Ollstein characterizes as "The September From Hell".

Even if we had a "Congress who generally got along, and generally got along with the President," Ollstein tells me, "it would have been so hard to pass all of these bills that are coming up. But we don't have that. We have a President who is attacking members of his own party --- leaders in his own party --- and the opposing party. We have a lot of bad blood."

Add to it all the Trump/GOP hopes of passing huge tax cuts ("an even heavier lift than health care reform," she says) and today's late breaking news from Ollstein, fresh off a call with the Health and Human Services Dept. announcing the Administration plans to slash the Affordable Care Act's advertising budget by 90% in advance of this year's truncated Open Enrollment period, and it all amounts to not only a September from Hell, but likely a rest-of-the-year from same.

Enjoy the upcoming holiday weekend if possible, but buckle up thereafter, as Ollstein warns: "We thought it couldn't get any crazier than August, but get ready."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with more coverage of the ongoing devastation from Harvey, before we finish up with some actually very good news concerning nuclear power, solar power, and the nation's largest utility company...

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

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Guest: TPM Congressional reporter Alice Ollstein | Also: Trump continues N. Korea threats, experts worry, diplomatic solutions remain...for now...
By Brad Friedman on 8/11/2017 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the Trump Administration continues to destabilize both the Korean Peninsula and the U.S. health care insurance markets. [Audio link to show follows below.]

President Trump continued to increase his threatening rhetoric against North Korea (and to play the victim himself, as is his wont) on Friday, even as experts on the region see little new in the North's own bluster and saber-rattling. Instead, they worry that the Trump Administration's own unpredictable rhetoric and instability could lead to a misunderstanding or miscommunication that could, itself, result in military action by either side, the results of which could be catastrophic.

Still, there remain diplomatic ways out, via Russia and China, from the seemingly deadly collision course, so long as those options are not closed off by Trump. There are even direct, ongoing back-channel communications between representatives of both the US and NK, as reported on our previous show and confirmed today by the Associated Press.

Then, on the heels of the recently failed Republican attempt in Congress to repeal and/or replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA or 'ObamaCare'), new polling finds the public strongly prefers that Congress and the President move on to other issues, shore up funding for the ObamaCare exchanges where needed, and will otherwise hold both Republicans and the Administration responsible for further problems with U.S. health care coverage.

Nonetheless, the Trump Administration continues to take deliberate measures to undermine the landmark federal health care law, even as those actions have resulted in double-digit increases in premiums rates for 2018 across the country --- including for non-ObamaCare customers --- according to insurers. To date, the Administration has sabotaged the ACA by cutting the length of the open enrollment period in half, has cancelled advertising to let the public know about it, has used those resources instead on propaganda to attack the federal law, has ended some $20 million in contracts for in-person sign-up assistance in 18 under-served cities, and has threatened to end Cost-Sharing Reduction (CSR) payments to insurers for low-income individuals which, according to my guest today, could "send the market into a tailspin" if the President makes good on those threats.

Today, we are joined by Congressional reporter ALICE OLLSTEIN of Talking Points Memo to discuss her new exclusive revealing yet another way in which the Administration appears to be radically undermining the continuing success of the ACA, this time in the vastly under-served Latino community.

In this case, Ollstein explains, "It's more about what they are not doing." She explains that, at this time last year, and in previous years in advance of the annual open enrollment period beginning in November, hundreds of health care advocacy groups "were really revving up with tons of outside groups, and corporations, and religious organizations, health organizations, to get the word out and work with the government to promote information about open enrollment."

This year, however, after speaking with dozens of such groups, she says "every single one said" they have heard nothing from the government. "And I found a very stark pattern, particularly with the groups that focused on Latino enrollment," she tells me. "Latinos have the highest rate of un-insurance out of any racial demographic. They also disproportionately live in states like Texas and Florida that did not expand Medicaid. Those partnerships for outreach, leading up to open enrollment, are so far not happening this year."

The results, she reports, could be disastrous not only for the Latino Community, but for the health care market itself around the country. We also discuss what Trump and both Congressional Republicans and Democrats are considering for their various next steps regarding federal health care law.

[Update 8/14/2017: Ollstein follows up her exclusive with another, finding that it's not only Latino groups which had previously partnered with the government, but are now being ignored by the White House in the lead up to the open enrollment period.]

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report before late-breaking news on Trump's announcement that he is now also considering military action against Venezuela...

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Guest: Dave Johnson of 'Seeing the Forest' | Also: Mueller reportedly impanels a new grand jury in D.C.; Senators work to keep him from being fired; And Iran charges new sanctions violate nuclear deal...
By Brad Friedman on 8/3/2017 5:52pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the Trump noose tightens, and the Trump leaks continue. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

"Trump O'Clock" came particularly early today, so after shuffling things around at the last minute again, several times, we cover reports that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury in Washington D.C., which has issued subpoenas as part of the probe into Team Trump and various charges of collusion with Russia. At the same time, several Republicans in the U.S. Senate are reportedly filing legislation meant to prevent Trump (and/or future Presidents) from being able to fire a Special Counsel established by the Department of Justice without judicial review.

Also, getting lost once again in the "Russia" panic, as we explained on yesterday's show, there is a good reason Bernie Sanders voted against the bill slapping sanctions against Russia, North Korea and Iran, as approved almost unanimously in both chambers of Congress, and signed reluctantly by the President on Wednesday. Specifically, as Sanders explained, new sanctions may give Iran justification for dropping out of the long-negotiated nuclear deal signed by them and the U.S., UK, Russia, France, China and Germany in 2015. Not long after we got off air last night, Iran declared that the new sanctions "violated" the deal.

Then we're joined by DAVE JOHNSON, founder of the "Seeing the Forest" blog and formerly a Senior Fellow at the progressive policy organization People's Action, to discuss the remarkable leaked transcripts, published Thursday by the Washington Post, of Trump's phone conversations just after taking office with the President of Mexico and the Prime Minister of Australia.

The documents offer a fascinating --- and often troubling --- look at how Trump dealt with two of our closest allies on topics such as his proposed border wall with Mexico (and Trump's insistence that President Enrique Peña Nieto NOT state publicly that Mexico won't pay for the wall), and the agreement, struck during the Obama Administration, to consider U.S. entry for as many as 2,000 economic refugees who were, at the time, being held in detention camps on islands off of Australia's coast (a conversation that ended with Trump abruptly terminating the call with conservative Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.)

Johnson offers his thoughts and insight on the apparent strong-arm tactics employed by Trump with the two heads of state, as well as what appears to have been a rather alarming lack of preparedness for the conversations and a startling lack of policy knowledge revealed by the published transcripts.

We discuss the policy implications as well as the political ones for both Trump and Republican in Congress who will have to run for office next year under this President, his broken promises, and the often gob-smacking revelations of his infamous "deal-making prowess"...

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Plus: Open lines for callers in the angry heat of mid-Summer...
By Brad Friedman on 8/2/2017 5:56pm PT  

On today's BradCast: a hodge-podge of mid-Summer news and D.C. dysfunction with listener calls to help make it all better somehow. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the stories covered on today's very busy show:

  • Trump reluctantly signs a new bipartisan bill sanctioning Russia, North Korea and Iran (and why Bernie Sanders didn't support the bill either);
  • A recently discovered Department of Justice announcement signals political appointees at Trump's DoJ civil rights unit plans to target affirmative action measures at colleges and universities on behalf of white Americans;
  • A federal judge rules Alabama does not have to notify thousands of former felons that their right to vote has been restored;
  • In addition to every single voting machine being hacked at last weekend's DefCon hackers conference in Las Vegas, electronic pollbook systems were also hacked there, and one contained the personal records of some 650,000 Tennessee voters.
  • A long-serving, top EPA official resigns citing Trump Administration rollbacks to environmental protection in a blistering exit letter [PDF].

Then we open up the phone lines to callers on any and all of the above (and more), before Desi Doyen joins us finally for the latest similarly-busy Green News Report on South Carolina canceling plans for new nuclear plants, new studies predicting big trouble for humanity (especially those who live near the coast) and much much more...

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Intra-party Republican disarray over health care repeal, Trump's trans ban, threats to replace AG, more | GUEST: Former Acting CBO Director Donald Marron on why GOP plan to gut the agency is 'a terrible idea'...
By Brad Friedman on 7/27/2017 6:51pm PT  

On today's BradCast, Trump's White House and the GOP Senate devolve into utter chaos. And a former CBO director joins us to explain why the Congressional Budget Office is so important. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Both Congress and the White House are, figuratively, exploding today, with unprecedented, intra-party, public food fights and disarray among Republicans that now seems to be breaking out in virtually every direction --- inside the U.S. Senate, inside the Trump Administration, not to mention between Congress and a number of Executive Branch agencies.

The U.S. Senate is in disarray as they try to pass a "skinny repeal" to the Affordable Care Act, a last gasp effort to pass something, anything, to call a "win" in the 7-year effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare. But a number of Senators are concerned that the effort which guts the requirement for individuals to buy health insurance, could be adopted as is in the U.S. House, sending premiums skyrocketing and the insurance market into a death spiral.

The White House is in disarray as Administration officials face down bipartisan outrage over Trump's surprise military transgender ban. Turns out, as we've since learned, he was actually trying to save funding for his border wall with Mexico (and other priorities) in exchange for spiking medical funding for trans members of the military, when he shocked lawmakers by announcing a complete ban, which is much more than those Rightwing Congressmembers had actually been lobbying for.

And, of course, there's the disarray that spans between a number of Executive agencies, the White House and Congress, as Senators hope to avert a full-blown Constitutional crisis by attempting to block Trump from firing his own Attorney General and appointing a replacement without Senate confirmation during the upcoming recess. And the Secretary of the Department of Interior threatens members of the Senate on behalf of the President, for not voting as the White House wishes on repealing health care for millions of Americans. Yes, the Secretary is actually threatening to protect the environment if the Senators don't play ball!

All of that without even delving into the wildly bizarre intra-White House disarray between Trump's new Communications Director and his own Chief of Staff!

Then we're joined by a former Acting Director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) DONALD MARRON, now a Fellow with the Urban Institute, to discuss the recent attacks by Republicans on the office responsible for scoring legislation like health care reform. Such analyses by the CBO help to let both Congress and the American public know how much such schemes will cost in both tax-payer dollars and Americans losing access to health care.

Marron, who also served as Chief Economist on the President's Council of Economic Advisers under George W. Bush, says the recent attempts by the Congressional Freedom Caucus to gut the CBO and have the office's work replaced by outside private research institutions is "a terrible idea". He explains why, what the CBO actually does for Congress and the American people --- such as scoring some 600 pieces of legislation a year and privately advising members as they develop bills --- that most are not familiar with, and how the office was formed out of the budget battles during the Nixon years.

"The folks at CBO are accustomed to some background level of being beaten up on --- just as umpires and referees are used to it," Marron tells me, but "the level of enmity towards CBO by some circles today is quite extreme." He goes on to detail why outside groups --- his own Urban Institute was cited by the Freedom Caucus as one of those which could help replace the CBO --- cannot take the place of the Congressional agency. "If you're going to run an intelligent Congressional budget process, Congress really ought to have its own agency, producing its own numbers, that works directly for Congress, is part of Congress, and responds to the needs of Congress in ways that outside groups simply can't," he explains.

He also responds to critiques that CBO analyses have been inaccurate in the past and that the office, currently headed up by a conservative Republican appointed by a Republican Congress, is biased against Republican proposals. "From my point of view, the Congressional Budget Office is a real jewel in our government. It is a wonderful agency, filled with non-partisan professional staff whose job it is to give their best read to members of Congress about what the budget and economic implications will be of proposed policy."

Finally, as today's show closes, the U.S. Senate adopts a new sanctions package against Russia, Iran and North Korea, which now heads to the White House for the President's signature...or veto. And Kris Kobach, the GOP "voter fraud" fraudster heading up Trump's so-called "Election Integrity" Commission has court sanctions upheld against him, and receives another smack-down from another federal judge for having 'demonstrat[ed] a pattern' of 'deceptive conduct' and 'patently misleading representations' in the ACLU's lawsuit against his proof-of-citizenship voter registration restrictions as Kansas Sec. of State...

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

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