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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, April 22, 2018
Senate GOP Twists Law to Gut Decades-Old Regs (Forever): 'BradCast' 4/20/18
Guest: James Goodwin of CPR: Also: DNC files Trump/Russia suit; Wells Fargo fined $1B; Memos reveal Trump wants to jail journalists...
Senate Confirms Climate Science Denier as NASA Chief: 'BradCast' 4/19/18
...and many more otherworldly reminders of the importance of elections...
'Green News Report' 4/19/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Puerto Rico power knocked out again; Studies find Gulf Stream slowing down; New climate lawsuits for oil industry, Florida; PLUS: Earth Day 2018 focused on ending plastic pollution...
Previous GNRs: 4/17/18 - 4/12/18 - Archives...
'Dark Lord of Coal Country' Rising, GOP Panicking Before WV U.S. Senate Primary: 'BradCast' 4/18/18
Guest: Bob Kincaid; Also: McConnell says no, Mattis got Trumped, Kobach in contempt...
'Corrupt Intent': 'BradCast' 4/17/18
Guest: Former Asst. US Attorney Randall Eliason on Trump, Cohen, Mueller, indicting a sitting Prez; Also: Tax cut support falls, GOPers keep heading for the exits...
'Green News Report' 4/17/18
Federal watchdogs say EPA violated law for Admin Scott Pruitt; Senate confirms coal industry lobbyist for deputy EPA chief; PLUS: Google and Apple go 100% renewable...
Trump's Unlawful, Evidence-Free 'Mission Accomplished': 'BradCast' 4/16/18
Congress acquiesces after second US attack on Syria; Hannity revealed as secret Cohen client; Callers ring in...
Sunday Toons: 'One Raid Begets Another'
It didn't take long after Donald Trump's friend, business associate and personal lawyer was raided by the FBI for Trump to unleashes the missiles, as the cartoonists observe in PDiddie's latest collection...
As Trump Goes Ugly, How Dems Can 'Fight Dirty' to Win for the Country: 'BradCast' 4/13/18
Guest: Author David Faris on radically reform-ing 'long-term barriers to progressive power'...
Mattis: U.S. Lacks 'Actual Evidence' of Syrian Chemical Attack: 'BradCast' 4/12/18
Also: Clueless Trump to rejoin TPP?; Sinclair's abuse of public airwaves; And, why local news matters...
'Green News Report' 4/12/18
Newly unearthed docs reveal Shell knew about warming since 1950s; Dems want Pruitt to resign; EPA docs under-mine his claims; PLUS: Obama EPA chief speaks out...
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...


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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Ernest A. Canning; Also: GOP 'Green Party' dirty tricks in MT's U.S. Senate race; And, the movement to repeal the 2nd Amendment...
By Brad Friedman on 4/6/2018 6:24pm PT  

On today's BradCast: GOP dirty tricks in Montana; why an alleged torturer should be imprisoned rather than promoted to CIA chief; and, abolishing the 2nd Amendment all together. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell admitted this week that stealing a Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court was his crowning achievement after three decades in Congress. But he's not done packing the federal courts just yet for another generation, which underscores his urgency in trying to hang on to the GOP's thin majority in the U.S. Senate this November.

That may also help to explain the bizarre situation in Montana's U.S. Senate race, where the GOP appears to have ginned up a fake Green Party candidate who was previously on the state Republican Party's payroll, in hopes of siphoning votes away from Democratic Sen. Jon Tester in an otherwise very Trumpy state. (But did the Dems do something similar in supporting a Libertarian candidate for the U.S. Senate back in 2012, the last time Tester was on the ballot?)

Meanwhile, the Senate returns from their recess next week, and will soon begin confirmation hearings for a number of recent high-level Trump cabinet and executive agency nominees. Among them is Gina Haspel, the CIA's Deputy Director who has been tapped to take Mike Pompeo's spot as CIA chief (after Pompeo was nominated to become the new Sec. of State following Trump's firing of Rex Tillerson.)

Haspel, however, was the CIA's chief of a secret U.S. prison in Thailand following the 9/11 attacks, where a number of terror suspects were tortured in 2002, in violation of long-held international treaties, to which the U.S. has been a party, at least, since the days of Ronald Reagan. She also reportedly signed off on the destruction of the video-taped evidence that documented the horrific torture by the U.S. at that prison.

We're joined today by ERNEST A. CANNING, attorney and longtime BRAD BLOG legal analyst, for whom the matter of someone alleged to have overseen torture becoming the next CIA director is very personal.

Canning's father, as he detailed in a recent article, was imprisoned and waterboarded by the Japanese during WWII, before testifying against his torturers during the war crimes trials held by the Allies after the war. We discuss what happened to his father at the hands of the Japanese command of the notorious Bridge House prison, why the U.S. has long held torture to be a violation of international law, and how the Democrats' failure to demand accountability of Bush-era torturers has resulted in Haspel's nomination, rather than imprisonment.

He explains that while the Japanese general in charge of the notorious Shanghai prison "did not personally take part in my father's torture, he was sentenced to a life sentence under a principle called 'command responsibility'. He had command responsibility over the people who were carrying out torture in an agency that he was responsible for. And if you use that same principle of 'command responsibility', which remains viable under intentional law today, Gina Haspel should be in prison. She should not be coming before the Senate to be confirmed as the CIA's next director. And, I think it's a slap in the face of everybody who has ever undergone such horrific treatment that Donald Trump would nominate her."

(Also, just to lighten things up a bit, I also get Ernie's take on Trump's asinine and evidence-free reiteration in West Virginia on Thursday, that millions of fraudulent votes accounted for his 3 million vote loss to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 popular vote count.)

Finally, a federal judge in Massachusetts on Friday upheld the state's ban on military-style assault weapons. And we share some listener mail in response to retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens' op-ed last week, wherein he suggested that it's time to repeal the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution...

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

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Guest: Pam Vogel of Media Matters; Also: Another mass shooting; Good news for voters in two federal voter registration cases in TX and FL...
By Brad Friedman on 4/3/2018 6:25pm PT  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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: Election integrity expert Marilyn Marks; Also: Gun debate shifts dramatically as former SCOTUS Justice calls for 2nd Amendment repeal...
By Brad Friedman on 3/27/2018 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: the Overton Window regarding gun safety reform may have just taken a dramatic lurch towards "the left". And, then, the heated battle to block a new 100% unverifiable computer voting system (disguised as a "paper ballot" system) from being implemented in Georgia reaches a climax, as this year's legislative session in the state nears its end. [Audio link to today's show is posted at end of article.]

First up today (well, after a disturbing story out of Atlanta that further underscores the madness of Georgia's proposed new voting system): Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens penned a stunning op-ed in the New York Times, lauding students for marching to demand gun safety legislation, but suggesting it's time for them to go much further by calling for a repeal of the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution itself.

The 97-year old retired Associate Justice (and lifelong Republican) explains why history and his years on the bench have led him to regard the 2nd Amendment as "a relic of the 18th century", and how the National Rifle Association (NRA) has, in recent decades --- as the conservative former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger declared in the early 90s --- perpetrated "one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime."

Then, speaking of great frauds, the city of Atlanta finds itself using pencil and paper to carry out business again today in municipal courts, jails and other city agencies five days after a "ransomware" attack has crippled the city's use of its computer networks. Nonetheless, at the very same time, state lawmakers in Georgia are, incredibly enough, in last minute negotiations to adopt a measure to replace their statewide, easily-hacked, 100% unverifiable Diebold touch-screen computer voting systems.

Unfortunately, as legislators race the clock to pass a bill before the current legislative session ends on Thursday night, the current bill to replace those systems, SB-403, would institute a new 100% unverifiable computer-marked "paper ballot" system, which is now being opposed by both local and national election integrity advocates and organizations.

Longtime election integrity expert MARILYN MARKS, whose nonpartisan Coalition for Good Governance is suing the Peach State to force them to do away with their unverifiable Director Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines, joins us to warn about the proposed new scheme to replace them with similarly unverifiable touch-screen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) and why she sees that as "going from bad to worse."

"People today at least understand that their system is unverifiable, unauditable, and really a lot of guesswork," she tells me. "Unfortunately, this new system that they are so determined to find a way to put in, kind of has the look, from a distance, of a paper system. But it really is just as unverifiable."

Marks explains that the new legislation introduces computer-printed ballots with barcodes on them, which cannot be read by humans. Deceptively, the paper ballots produced by the new touch-screen systems also include a summary of the voters' votes in human-readable form. But, it is the unreadable and impossible to verify barcodes --- rather than the human-readable voter selections --- which are used by the system's computer optical-scanners to tally results. "What can be embedded in those bar codes may be very different from the human-readable list that is printed out," she says.

Even if the barcodes weren't printed on the paper ballots, Marks explains, the computer-marked ballots would still be unacceptable and unverifiable as reflecting any voter's intent after polls close on Election Night, as Jennifer Cohn recently detailed in a must-read article at The BRAD BLOG. Marks offers action items for preventing the passage of the bill, for those both in and out of the state of Georgia (as summarized here in this Twitter Moment.)

This is important for folks in every state, since similar systems are already spreading nationwide and will assuredly do so even quicker if Georgia becomes the first in the nation to adopt them statewide --- just as they were the first to go to touch-screen Diebold DREs statewide back in 2002. "We don't want this insidious disease of these things --- as we call it, 'Son of DREs' --- going on to other states," Marks cautions. "The minute that Georgia accepts this, the vendors will be out in other states trying to do the same thing. Change the definition of the ballot to include barcodes, and pointing to Georgia as 'look the whole state of Georgia just said this was okay!'"

Similar systems are already being deployed in Texas, Tennessee, Los Angeles and elsewhere (though not yet in Missouri, where a Republican state legislator has, happily, just introduced a bill calling for DREs used in St. Louis and Kansas City to be replaced by real, HAND-MARKED paper ballot systems!)

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us today with the latest Green News Report, including some surprisingly good news from the massive omnibus spending bill just signed into law, begrudgingly, by Donald Trump...

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: Investigative journalist Jason Leopold; Also: Trump expels Russian diplomats; Fox 'News' lawyers won't join Trump legal team after all; 'March for Our Lives'; Callers on all of the above...
By Brad Friedman on 3/26/2018 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The allegation made by adult film actress Stormy Daniels that someone associated with Donald Trump physically threatened her, appears to track quite well with decades of similar allegations made by those who Trump, at one point, believed to have cross him. [Audio link to today's show follows below.]

During her 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper on Sunday night, adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, a.k.a. Stormy Daniels, claimed she was physically threatened in 2011 in a Las Vegas parking lot, in front of her young daughter, by someone warning her to not to speak publicly about the sexual tryst she says she had with Donald Trump back in 2006. Immediately after the interview aired, an attorney for Michael Cohen (Trump's personal lawyer, fixer, and business partner) sent a "cease and desist" letter to Daniels' attorney, demanding she retract the "false and defamatory" claims made on the program, charging that Cohen "was responsible" in some way for the alleged threat. The attorney charged that Daniels' claims accusing Cohen "of criminal conduct" were "false", "libel[ous]" and "defamatory".

The only problem: Daniels didn't actually tie Cohen to the story about the thug who, she says, threatened her in 2011!

Cohen formed the LLC created to pay $130,000 in hush money to Daniels just weeks before the 2016 Presidential election, though he says he did not do so on behalf of Trump or the Trump Organization, that he was never reimbursed for the payment (which would be a violation of federal campaign finance law, if it was meant to help Trump win the election as Paul S. Ryan of Common Cause told us in January, just after he filed his complaints with the FEC and DoJ), and that, in any event, the tryst between Trump and Daniels never happened at all.

But, whether Daniels' tied Cohen to the alleged 2001 threat or not, it's hardly the first time the Trump Organization --- and Donald Trump specifically --- has been accused of physical threats against his perceived adversaries.

We're joined today by BuzzFeed investigative journalist and renowned "FOIA terrorist" JASON LEOPOLD to discuss three different incidents, revealed via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request documents he obtained from the FBI and other law enforcement agencies last year, detailing physical threats said to have been made against Trump business associates in the 80s, 90s and 2000s.

The details of the three different alleged incidents are chilling, including one terrifying and profane phone threat to an attorney, made on the day Trump's Casino business declared bankruptcy, from a payphone outside the Ed Sullivan Theater on the very same day that Trump was appearing on The Late Show with David Letterman, which is shot there. As Leopold explains, the incidents which he reported on exclusively last year at BuzzFeed, came immediately to mind upon hearing Daniels recount her own frightening tale on 60 Minutes.

Then, we open up the phone lines to hear from listeners on all of the above, as well as a number of other stories that we also cover on today's program, including: Saturday's massive March for Our Lives rallies for gun safety reform, as led by the students of Parkland, Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and supported by Pope Francis; the Trump Administration's announcement that they plan to expel 60 Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of a former Russian intelligence agent in Britain; and the Sunday announcement that, despite reports to the contrary last week, Fox "News" wingnut attorneys Joe diGenova and his wife Victoria Toensing will not, in fact, be joining Trump's personal defense team responding the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller after all (precisely as predicted by Friday's guest on The BradCast, Marcy Wheeler!)...

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: Journalist Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza on her suit against Trump: Also: Another bomb in TX; Another school shooting in MD; Another storm in the Northeast...
By Brad Friedman on 3/20/2018 6:24pm PT  

On today's BradCast: What happens when the President of the United States blocks you on Twitter? How about when the President blocks a journalist? Does that violate an American's First Amendment free speech rights or Constitutional protections granted to the press? Our guest today thinks so, and is one of seven plaintiffs now suing Donald J. Trump in federal court for having blocked them on the social media platform from viewing or replying to his tweets or participating in discussion about them on the site. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, a few breaking news items, beginning with the fifth package bomb to explode in Texas this month, as an apparent "serial bomber" continues to terrorize the Austin community in what may be a deadly spree targeting minorities in the area. Today, Donald Trump and his White House finally made their very first comments on the bombings, that have, so far, killed two and seriously injured several others.

Then, there was another school shooting today, the 17th since the beginning of the year, this time at a high school in Maryland where, just last week, many of its students participated in a national walkout to demand reform of our nation's gun laws. The shooter in today's incident is now dead after a school resource officer fired on him (though it remains unclear if the 17-year old student shot himself and if one of the victims may have been shot by the officer.) The two student victims, a 16-year old female and 14-year old male remain in the hospital. The girl is reportedly in critical condition.

But, we also have some encouraging news on that front out of Florida, where a recent gun safety reform package was adopted by the state in the wake of the Parkland, FL massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The new measure allows, among other things, law enforcement officials with a court order to temporarily seize weaponry from those judged to be a threat to themselves or others. The first such court order was granted last week in Broward County, resulting in four firearms and 267 rounds of ammo being taken from a 56-year old man who, under a separate state law, was involuntarily institutionalized by police after what the judge described as a series of delusional episodes by the man. Naturally, right-wingers are both freaking out about it and not informing their audience about why those steps were actually taken.

Next: My guest today, REBECCA BUCKWALTER-POZA, judicial affairs editor at Daily Kos and a contributor to Democracy Journal, is one of seven plaintiffs now suing Donald J. Trump in federal court for having blocked them on Twitter from viewing or replying to his tweets or participating in discussion about them on the site. The attorney and journalist turned plaintiff joins us today to discuss her lawsuit and the recent hearing in federal court on the landmark case.

As Buckwalter-Poza, who is still blocked by Trump on the social media platform, explains: "It turns out the President really doesn't like it when you suggest that Russia was involved in the 2016 election. He tweeted something about having won the White House, and I all I did was quote that and say, 'To be fair, you didn't win it --- Russia won it for you.'" She says there were "no obscenities, no threats, absolutely nothing more than a reference to Russia's involvement in the election."

As part of its defense case, the U.S. Department of Justice (yes, we, the tax-payers, are footing the bill to defend Trump in this case!) has admitted that plaintiffs were blocked for no other reason than they were critical of the President. "They've conceded that it's 'viewpoint discrimination', which is the legal term for when you are, in this case, blocking someone from Twitter because you don't like what they're saying. There's no other justification. It's just the content. It's a criticism. That definitely violates my First Amendment rights," she argues.

Explaining how she sees those rights as being violated, Buckwalter-Poza tells me: "As a journalist, there's the immediate fact of not being able to follow Trump, not being able to engage other people, not being able to respond. To put it into First Amendment terms, though, I have a right to be part of this public forum, to engage other people, and to have my point of view be heard. And I have a right to try and catch the President's attention. Unfortunately, in this case I did, but his response was to block me instead of to respond."

I can attest to the difficulties in covering stories when the focus of the story blocks you on Twitter, as I reported last week regarding recent false comments about torture made by Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), who now apparently blocks me on Twitter for reasons unknown, and an incident at the end of last year which resulted in Alabama's Sec. of State John Merrill blocking me as well, after I politely corrected [PDF] his inaccurate statements about the state's computerized vote tabulation systems.

After a recent hearing with an apparently very well-informed federal judge, Buckwalter-Poza says the case could now result in a settlement. But that still remains to be seen.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on the first day of spring, as extreme winter weather continues to pummel the nation, including with what could be a fifth back-to-back Nor'easter for the East Coast over the weekend (they are currently facing their fourth), and as the Trump Administration continues to make "climate change" disappear, even from FEMA's natural disaster recovery plans...

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U.S. House special election results in PA; Student gun safety walkouts from coast-to-coast; ICE busted as spokesman refuses to lie, steps down...
By Brad Friedman on 3/14/2018 6:22pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was a nail-biter on Tuesday night in the U.S. House Special Election in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District between Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone. And there is much spinning on Wednesday morning. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Lamb has declared victory, (as has the NY Times, while AP still has it as "too close to call") in the district that went to Donald Trump by nearly 20 points in 2016. But Republicans are still holding out hope for a miracle, a "recount" and/or a lawsuit for their candidate who received a full court press from Donald Trump over the past week. That press included a weekend rally with Saccone and new steel tariffs announced by the President just last week, with an eye towards this bellwether race in "Steel Country", just outside of Pittsburgh.

We have full details on where the razor-thin results currently stand (just over 600 votes separate the two candidates, as of air time, in a race with more than 228,000 votes cast) and how such a "recount" would work in the state which still, shamefully, forces the vast majority of its voters to vote on 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems.

No matter the final results, Democrats are ebullient about what this huge "red to blue" swing may bode for their chances of taking back the House in November's crucial 2018 mid-term elections, even as GOPers from PA to Capitol Hill to the White House are offering some pretty remarkable spin in response.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, tens of thousands of students took to the streets from coast-to-coast with a massive school walkout to rally for gun safety legislation one month after the massacre which took the lives of 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The students stood up, even as a cowardly President Trump continues to retreat from earlier promises on reforms, while trying to spin his own personal fears of the powerful gun lobbyists at the NRA.

Then, speaking of failed spin, a spokesman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency resigns in the wake of being asked to lie about claims recently made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump regarding an ICE raid in Northern California

Finally today, as the Administration continues to misrepresent the threat to the U.S. posed by immigrants, three American rightwingers are arrested for the bombing of a Muslim mosque in Minnesota last year, and for an attempted bombing of an abortion clinic in Illinois...

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Guest: Jennifer Cohn on the deceptive dangers of the move to computer-marked 'paper ballots'; Also: Callers ring on that, Kim/Trump, more...
By Brad Friedman on 3/12/2018 6:08pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The fight for Election Integrity is often one step forward and two steps back. Don't be fooled by what many are deceptively describing as a move to "paper ballots", when those "paper ballots" aren't really what they are being sold as. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today: A quick preview of the U.S. House Special Election in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District on Tuesday, where voters will, shamefully, once again cast their votes in the crucial race on 100% unverifiable touch-screen Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting systems.

At the same time, lawmakers in the state of Georgia, which has disastrously used similarly unverifiable DREs for the past 15 years, are moving a deceptively described "paper ballot" bill forward in the legislature. However, what those lawmakers are not making clear (and some may not even understand) is that the bill would fund new computer-marked paper ballot systems, known as Ballot Marking Devices (BMD)s, across the state. Such systems also require voters to use a touch-screen device to vote and, like DREs, also cannot be verified after an election as reflecting the intent of any voter.

Worse still, rather than use the human-readable information printed out by the computers onto the "paper ballot" at the end of the process, BMDs use optical scanners which tally results read from barcodes or QR codes printed on the ballot that are NOT human readable!

And, it's not only Republican-leaning Georgia that is quickly hoping to move to such unverifiable systems. So is the largest voting jurisdiction in the nation, Los Angeles County! Also, counties in Texas and Tennessee are already using them and other states are looking to purchase them as well. Indeed, many supposedly progressive organizations and Democrats are actually recommending them, without understanding the very real dangers of BMDs!

We're joined today by attorney-turned-journalist JENNIFER COHN to discuss her well-researched and documented concerns, as detailed by voting system and computer security experts, regarding the nation's dangerous and disturbing lurch towards what she describes as expensive "electric pencils", otherwise known as BMDs. Cohn explained those concerns in simple, layman's language in a recent post at The BRAD BLOG.

As we discuss on the show: No, "paper ballots" are not enough! We need HAND-MARKED paper ballots that are known to have been verified by the voters, if we are going to even have a chance of restoring publicly verifiable democratic elections in the U.S.

Cohn details both in her article and on today's show, a number of academic studies finding that most voters do not check computer printouts and summaries at the end of the voting process, and of the minority who do, some 60% or more don't even notice when the computer has flipped their vote!

PLEASE tune in for this important conversation, because Americans must begin to understand the dangers presenting by these deceptively described "paper ballots", which are coming to a voting jurisdiction near you!

Then, we open up the phone lines today to callers on that issue, as well as some of my thoughts from last Friday's show regarding the supposed face-to-face meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and even crazier U.S. leader Donald Trump, regarding the North's nuclear weapons program...

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: David Bier of CATO Institute; Also: Hicks out; Special election results; Trump court win; Teacher fires a pistol in school; Sporting goods outlet to stop selling assault weapons...
By Brad Friedman on 2/28/2018 6:11pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Just days away from Donald Trump's artificial deadline to end Obama-era protections from deportation for hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought here as children, the attendees at last weekend's CPAC can't even come to terms with documented facts on the benefits of immigration, even when delivered to them by one of their own. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But, first up today, some quick news headlines of note...

  • Another top White House official, Trump's 29-year old Communications Director Hope Hicks (his third since taking office), says she's resigning, and offered a ridiculous reason for it, just one day after admitting to the U.S. House Intelligence Committee that she has been required to lie on behalf of Trump.
  • Tuesday was another Special Election day in several states --- including New Hampshire, Connecticut, Kentucky and Arizona --- and we have the reported results after still more state legislative seats in Republican districts were flipped from 'red' to 'blue' by Democrats. (And as Republicans appear to have mostly avoided another huge embarrassment in Arizona.)
  • The federal judge who Trump attacked during the campaign for allegedly opposing his border wall, as the court case for Trump's fraudulent 'Trump University' played out, decides in favor of the Administration scheme to waive environmental laws to build that wall with Mexico.

Then, we're joined by immigration policy analyst DAVID BIER of the libertarian Cato Institute, following his recent appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) --- where his presentation of independently verifiable facts and data detailing how immigration is actually good for the country --- was met with derision and heckles from the audience and fellow panelists alike.

Setting our many political differences aside for purposes of this discussion, Bier offers some of that data on today's show, in hopes that we can, at least, agree on facts if we are ever to find a legislative solution to protect "Dreamers" and turn back the new Trump/GOP efforts to restrict even legal immigration to our country. Among those derided and heckled facts Bier presented at CPAC: "I talked about how some conservative outlets really like to focus on immigrant crime. But we know from the U.S. Census bureau that immigrants --- including illegal immigrants --- are about half as likely to be incarcerated in the United States for serious crime than U.S.-born adults. So they're really focusing on the exceptions to the rule. Something else that I cited is the National Academies of Sciences 2016 report on the fiscal costs of immigration, that found that the average recent immigrant will pay at least $92,000 more in taxes than they receive in benefits from the government over their lifetime."

He went on to debunk a number of other myths offered by right-wing outlets, such as on English-language comprehension and assimilation of new immigrants and the claim (even made by the host of the panel) that Democrats favor immigration because they want millions of new voters. He also detailed how new immigration is needed to help support Social Security and Medicare for many of the aging baby-boomers who were, no doubt, among the many attendees at CPAC.

Bier told me about the reaction to his remarks at the only immigration-related panel on the weekend's agenda at the annual far-right Republican gathering, how that response may have differed from previous years, and why it is that he believes attendees are so terrified of independently verifiable facts on immigration's many benefits for all Americans --- economically, politically and culturally.

He even managed to offer a fairly impressive response to my skepticism to his claim that "the data is the thing that’s going to win people over." Despite appearances from this President and his administration, he argues, immigration advocates are winning. "You and I and everyone who favors legal immigration and legalizing long-term residents of the United States, we're winning that argument. The public supports our position overwhelmingly. It's never been higher in terms of support for legalization, support for a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, support for not restricting legal immigration. We're winning all of those things."

"It's sort of their last stand before the end," he asserts, by way of explaining the confused and fearful anti-immigrant CPAC attendees. "If Democrats do take over, I fully expect immigration reform will happen. And that will be the moment where they realize they lost the argument."

Finally, as Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School reopened on Wednesday, two weeks after a 19-year old with a legally purchased semi-automatic rifle killed 17 and injured a dozen others in a matter of minutes, the debate over what to do about it still rages. Today, amid Donald Trump's argument for arming teachers, the "top teacher" of 2012 at a Georgia high school outside of Atlanta fired a pistol in his classroom, sending students into a justifiable panic. And, one of the nation's largest sporting goods outlets announced that it would no longer sell military-style semi-automatic rifles and planned to raise the age requirement for all gun and ammo purchases at their stores to 21...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Teacher, writer Dina Leygerman; Also: New Mueller indictments; GOP EAC Chair pushed out; MO's new GOP Guv indicted in sex scandal...
By Brad Friedman on 2/22/2018 6:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Yes, the kids are alright. And, if this past week has been any indication --- along with the results of a fascinating social experiment by my guest today --- they may well save us all. I hope they hurry. [Audio link to today's show follows below.]

First up, however, a boatload of news broke shortly before air today, and we scramble to cover as much of it as we can. Among those stories...

  • New indictments are filed by Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe against two former Donald Trump campaign officials. His former campaign chair Paul Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates, who also served on the Trump transition team saw 32 counts added to the 17 felony counts leveled against them in October. The new charges relate to some $30 million in money laundering and tax fraud, based on funds said to have been received while Manafort worked for a Russian-backed Ukrainian President prior to joining the Trump campaign;
  • U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and the White House have reportedly pushed out, Matthew Masterson, the Republican Chair of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) for reasons that remain unknown The EAC, formed by Congress after the 2000 election debacle to help state election officials with e-voting system standards, has failed in many ways over the years, as we discuss (and as we've reported at The BRAD BLOG for many years.) Still, they remain the only federal agency tasked with that role, even while Republicans have been attempting, for years, to shutter the Commission entirely. Masterson, said to be highly regarded by state election officials, was overseeing cyber-security standards for new voting systems before the 2018 mid-terms, in light of concerns of foreign manipulation of U.S. voting, registration and tabulation systems;
  • And, also breaking just before air, Missouri's new "family values" Republican Governor Eric Greitens was indicted late Thursday on a felony charge related to allegations that threatened to blackmail a woman he had tied up and photographed nude in his basement during an affair in 2015, prior to his 2016 election.

Then, with the incredibly impressive students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida speaking up, marching, organizing and protesting unapologetically to demand new legislation on guns after a former student killed 17 at their school last week with a legally-purchased semi-automatic AR-15 rifle, President Trump unleashed a Twitter rant on Thursday morning calling for teachers across the country to be armed in response. That call has not gone over well with the Stoneman Douglas students, though many Republican officials and their paymasters at the National Rifle Association (NRA) support the measure to place even more guns into our nations schools.

But, as my guest today, Philadelphia area high school teacher and writer DINA LEYGERMAN argues, the current generation of high schoolers across the country are fierce, a force to be reckoned with and not to be underestimated.

In her recent article headlined "The Teens Will Save Us", Leygerman documents a fascinating social experiment that she has run for a number of years while teaching George Orwell's 1984 to her English class. After similar results of the experiment year after year --- in which, without informing the students, she basically turns her classroom into an Orwellian totalitarian regime over a matter of days, with her as the dictator turning students against each other --- she says that this year, for reasons she discusses, the response by the students was completely different from previous years. The students, she explains, were having none of it, and actually stood up, organized with their classmates and other students in rebellion against her. As she wrote, "For the first time since I've done this experiment, the students 'won.'"

Leygerman joins us for what turns out to be a very hopeful segment, as she explains what happened, why, and how this generation may be very different from the slacker image many have painted them with. "They are participating in marches. They are participating in their student government. They are listening to the news. They're reading the news more, everyday. They are involved. And I think in our current political climate, where everything is so hostile and divisive, they are learning. I walk around and, even in the cafeteria, I'll listen to them talk about DACA, they'll talk about issues that I don't ever remember discussing when I was a kid," she tells me.

It's a fascinating conversation that I hope you'll tune in for. I also get her thoughts on Trump and the NRA's proposal for arming teachers, which she describes as "insane and dangerous" and a "diversion and deflection" from the actual conversation of what should be done about our nation's gun epidemic. Leygerman, who also writes for parenting website Romper, wonders: "Where's the funding coming from? And if it's coming from the government or from the state, why can't we have basic supplies instead?"

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as a chemical giant settles a decades-long water contamination lawsuit, global temperatures continue to sky-rocket, sea levels rise at an ever-quickening pace, and another western state becomes the latest to block Donald Trump's scheme to expand off-shore oil drilling...

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Guest: Eric Levitz of New York Magazine; Plus: Dems flip another legislative seat deep in the heart of 'Trump Country'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/21/2018 6:18pm PT  

On today's BradCast, students are mad as hell, for a lot of very good reasons, and now they are taking things into their own hands, not a moment too soon, by threatening to vote. Where Republicans appear to have little interest in helping them, Democrats certainly can and should, but they'll need to step up with a clear, progressive agenda to do exactly that in advance of the 2018 mid-terms. [Audio link to show is posted at end of story.]

First up today, there was another Special Election on Tuesday in another deep "red" district, this time in rural Kentucky, where Democrats picked up their 37th "red-to-blue" state legislative flip since the 2016 Presidential election. The GOP believes the "odd" circumstances around this particularly election make it an outlier (the Republican preacher who held the seat killed himself in December, following allegations of sexual misconduct with a 17-year old), and show little concern that Democrat Linda Belcher reportedly defeated her Republican opponent by some 36 points in a district that went to Trump in 2016 by 49 points. (That's a huge 86 point swing towards the Democrats, for those keeping score at home!)

Meanwhile, high school students across the country walked out of class on Wednesday to hit the streets in a call for gun safety legislation following last week's school shooting massacre in Parkland, Florida. Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School pressed lawmakers at the Florida statehouse in Tallahassee, where Republicans quickly voted to shelve the possibility for any major gun reform before the end of the legislation session early early next month. At the nation's capitol in D.C., among other places, students also marched and promised to vote out legislators who clung to support from the NRA while rejecting calls to reform our nation's permissive and deadly gun laws.

But while Democrats, in this environment, would seem well positioned to take over the U.S. House in this year's mid-terms, a recent series of Dem-sponsored focus groups reportedly finds voters complaining that while "Republicans have the wrong agenda, Democrats have no agenda."

We're joined today by ERIC LEVITZ, Associate Editor of the Daily Intelligencer blog at New York Magazine, to discuss that problem, by way of his recent article highlighting a new research paper [PDF] from the Levy Economics Institute at Bard College. The authors of the report found that, rather than blow a $1.5 trillion hole in the national debt with tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, as recently passed by the Republican Party, we could have completely wiped out every penny of the nation's collective and sky-rocketing student debt for the same or less cost. And that money, as Levitz reports, would have "benefited all Americans by increasing economic growth and lowering unemployment" by allowing young Americans to purchase new homes, cars and make other investments which would also help to raise middle-class wages.

Levitz describes the student loan debt as a real "crisis", which has spiraled wildly out of control since the 1990s. "You've got 44 million people saddled with these debts, and that's limiting their ability to participate in the economy. All of these wages that would be going into local businesses, and circulating throughout the economy, and creating markets and stimulating demand is going to either private lenders or actually the government," he argues, charging that the government could "just completely eliminate all that debt, which just so happens to be roughly the same price as the GOP tax cuts."

In another crazy idea cited by Levitz, the federal government could offer free tuition to public colleges and universities for the same cost we currently spend on grants and tax breaks for students, without saddling them with debt for decades. That's right, it would cost the federal government zero dollars to make tuition free at our public colleges and universities.

Isn't it time Democratic officials and candidates told voters what they are for, instead of only how much they are against Donald Trump and the Republican Party, by spelling out a clear, forward-thinking progressive agenda for the future? Just asking for a friend.

On that, however, Levitz does see some reason for some optimism in the spate of 2020 Democratic Presidential hopefuls who are finally embracing progressive ideals like healthcare-for-all legislation and even vowing to reject "dark money" from corporate PACs. (Oh, and here's Levitz' excellent article about Donald Trump's obscenely hypocritical plan to have Big Government tell poor people what they can eat, which I only had time to quickly reference on today's show.)

Finally today, a bit more encouraging news on the gun legislation front, as a Parkland father who lost his daughter in the shooting last week faces off at the White House with Donald Trump, and as a major GOP donor says he will not give one more penny to any politicians who fail to support a ban on military-style assault weapons...

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Guest: Redistricting expert Brian Amos on new PA U.S. House map; Plus; Trump's bump-stock ban gimmick; Buying a gun is easier than voting in Florida; Maine GOP's fake news site; The GNR's 9th Anniversary...
By Brad Friedman on 2/20/2018 6:24pm PT  

There is big news out of Pennsylvania again on today's BradCast, concerning the upcoming 2018 mid-term elections. And it appears to be very good news indeed for Democrats. [Audio link to show is posted at bottom of article.]

But first up, Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that he is directing the Dept. of Justice to propose new regulations that, if adopted, would ban the sale of so-called bump stock devices that turn semi-automatic weapons into fully automatic machine guns. That, nearly four months after such devices were used in the massacre that killed 58 concert-goers and wounded some 500 others on the Las Vegas Strip in a matter of minutes in October, and less than one week since a 19-year old gunman killed 17 at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, without using a bump-stock, on his legally purchased AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle. The process Trump called for will take months and likely face legal challenges, if it ever results in any such devices being banned for sale. Congress could ban them today, if they wished to. Republicans supported by the NRA however, do not.

At the same time, as we discuss today, it is easier in many states to purchase an AR-15 or similar weapon than it is to cast a vote, including in Florida. While an ID is needed to both register and then to cast a ballot at the polls on Election Day in the Sunshine State, an unlimited number of semi-automatic rifles can be purchased there without any ID or background check at all. And, unlike voter registration in FL, gun sales can be carried out online, completely anonymously, even as GOP lawmakers in the state have made it harder and harder to both register and vote in the state in recent years.

Next, following up on a story we covered in detail on Friday's show, regarding fake news sites (actual fake news sites!) set up to look like real ones by Republican officials across the country to support Republican candidates and attack Democrats. The Executive Director of the Maine Republican Party has now admitted that he is behind the anonymously-run Maine Examiner site which, last December, falsely claimed leaked emails of the Democratic candidate for mayor in Maine's second largest city called voters a "bunch of racists". Days later, after the fake news story took off, that candidate, Ben Chin, is said to have lost his election by just 145 votes to the Republican. While many are worried about Russians posing as Americans to post attacks on social media in support of Republicans and attacking Democrats --- using fake claims about "voter fraud" taken directly from GOP outlets like Fox 'News' and Breitbart --- this new scheme by GOP officials (from coast to coast) to create fake news websites in support of Republican candidates should be very troubling for Dems in advance of the 2018 mid-terms.

But, there is some better news today for Democrats in Pennsylvania where, after the Republican-controlled state legislature failed to draw "fair and equal" U.S. House maps, as ordered by the State Supreme Court, the Court itself released its own map to be used in the 2018 election. The commonwealth's primaries are set for May, with candidates beginning their signature gathering process in days.

The new map follows a finding by the state's high court in January that the map drawn by the GOP-controlled legislature in 2011 was an unlawful partisan gerrymander under the state constitution. The previous map resulted in Democrats holding just 5 of the state's 18 U.S. House seats election after election, in what is otherwise a largely 50/50 state (with nearly half a million more registered Democrats than Republicans.)

We're joined today to discuss the new map, and what it is likely to mean for Democrats, Republicans and the rest of the country where many other partisan gerrymanders will still remain in effect this year, by redistricting expert BRIAN AMOS of the University of Florida. Amos, a PH.D. candidate specializing in the intersection of geography and politics, served as an analyst for the Florida team that was the first in the nation to successfully challenge a Republican drawn district plan in state court on partisan gerrymandering grounds.

Amos details the expected effect of the new PA map, drawn up by the court and released on Monday, which is expected to result in at least 3 or 4 more Democrats in the U.S. House, even though Trump won in 10 of the new districts in 2016, while Hillary Clinton won only 8 of them.

We also discuss the geographical and political challenges (and opportunities) of drawing maps that are fair to voters of all parties, when those maps are drawn up by partisan legislatures. That's become even more of a problem, not just after the GOP's REDMAP Project to take over state legislatures before the 2010 Census so they could draw the new maps in 2011, but also because of the geological self-sorting that is taking place, as Dems tend huddle in more urban areas, while Republicans spread out in rural districts.

"Democrats tend to live in densely Democratic areas --- cities --- whereas Republicans tend to live in areas that are a bit more balanced, like 60% Republican, 40% Democrat," Amos explains. "So the arguments tends to be that, if we have to draw geographic districts, it's harder to spread out those Democrats across districts in order to make an even balance. In a lot of cases I think you'll see something like what we saw from the court's map, where it's as fair as you can get, but it's still 10-8 [in favor of Republicans.]"

The outcome could have been better for Republicans in PA, Amos explains, they could have put their own map forward that was more fair. But, he says, "they got too greedy." State Republicans are still vowing to challenge the new map in some federal court or another, but experts suggest that may be very difficult, given that this was a state court ruling.

For his part, Amos, though not an attorney, tells me that "when the state fails to pass a map, then somebody has to step in and that's always been the courts. So maybe they'll find some friendly federal court somewhere, but it seems like a stretch." Meanwhile, as recent federal court rulings finding unlawful partisan gerrymandering carried out in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Texas, Maryland and elsewhere are currently on hold at the U.S. Supreme Court, "we're all waiting on Justice Kennedy," says Amos. But that ruling --- sadly, for those of us who believe in fairer elections --- is not expected until June, likely too late to effect the 2018 mid-terms.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our 9th Anniversary Green News Report, as the Trump Administration's EPA and Dept. of Energy face new trouble from the courts and the Inspector General. And we reminisce about the vastly difficult political landscape that existed 9 years ago, when we began the GNR, and when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, but were unable to pass cap and trade legislation to put a price on the release of carbon pollution, in hopes of mitigating our current and worsening climate crisis.

Thank you, from Desi and myself, to those of you who have stopped by BradBlog.com/Donate to help us continue the GNR into our 10th year! For some reason, ExxonMobil will still not cough up any sponsorship funds for us, even though we talk about them all the time!...

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

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Trump's horrible week; Rubio, Grassley shame after Florida shooting; Russians used GOP 'fake news' and the party is doubling down...
By Brad Friedman on 2/16/2018 6:32pm PT  

We begin today's BradCast with a somewhat harrowing and breathtaking round-up of what has been an exceptionally bad news week, even for this particular White House. But all of that got considerably worse on Friday. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

New grand jury indictments [PDF] were filed against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities, by Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe, for alleged interference in the 2016 Presidential election. We detail what the indictment says and doesn't say, and how Donald Trump and his White House are lying about both.

Then, before it disappears into the ether, more coverage of the shameful dodging, denial and misdirection from Senate Republicans --- of particularly shameful note were Senators Chuck Grassley (IA) and Marco Rubio (FL) on Thursday --- following Wednesday's horrific mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Despite some twisted misdirection from Grassley on "mental health" issues (he sponsored the bill passed last year to make it easier for the mentally ill to purchase weapons) and desperate remarks from Rubio on the purported futility of any and all laws regarding guns (or anything else, apparently), we detail the reason why the U.S. has so many mass shootings, according to dozens of peer-reviewed studies from around the nation and the world: the obscene number and easy availability of guns in the U.S., which is unparalleled among developed nations. Period.

Next, Friday's grand jury indictments from Mueller detail a disturbing and well-organized Russian-based scheme to try and undermine the U.S. Presidential election by using social media to spread "derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump."

But the methods and material they used for doing so came directly out of the well-worn GOP and rightwing media playbook. Fake news said to have been spread by Russian social media accounts declaring, for example, "voter fraud" in Florida just days before the election, as cited in the Mueller indictments, was, quite literally, taken straight off of Fox "News" and other rightwing media outlets, where fake news of the type said to have been spread by Russian agents has been used for years to manipulate the U.S. electorate.

Worse still, it appears that Republican officials and candidates for office are now creating their own fake news sites with legitimate sounding names --- from the "Arizona Monitor" to the "Maine Examiner" to "The Free Telegraph" (that one is run by the Republican Governors Association!) --- in order to scam voters with wildly fake and/or slanted "news", meant to appear legitimate.

So, yes, foreign interference in our elections is of concern, but, as we explain today, the far greater threat to American democracy is still "coming from inside the house."

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as U.S. intelligence agencies contradict the Trump Administration on climate risks, ExxonMobil fights back against climate lawsuits, the corporate media continue to fail on climate change coverage, and a bit of good news, happily, from the Queen of England...

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

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