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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, November 16, 2018
FL 'Machine Recount' Exten-sion Denied, 'Hand Recounts' Begin: 'BradCast' 11/15/18
Also: The prob w/ Vote-by-Mail ballot sig-natures; Dems win House seat in ME Ranked Choice 'runoff'; GA's illegitimate Guv election...
'Green News Report' 11/15/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Death toll still rising as CA fires rage and state preps for tomorrow's disasters; Top EPA official indicted on corruption charges; PLUS: New Dems push for bold action on climate change...
Previous GNRs: 11/13/18 - 11/8/18 - Archives...
Lawsuits Fly in FL 'Recount' Mess: 'BradCast' 11/14/18
The fight to count every vote in FL and GA gets messier still, as Dems pick up another U.S. House seat; Also: Ernie Canning on CNN's lawsuit against Trump White House...
CNN Files Legal Action Against White House to Restore Acosta Press Credentials
News oulet cites violations of Constitutiional First and Fifth Amendment rights by Trump, Huckabee-Sanders, U.S. Secret Service...
New Court Rulings Favor Voters Amid FL, GA Counting Fiascos: 'BradCast' 11/13/18
Guest: Common Cause GA's Sara Henderson; Also: Dems flip Senate seat in AZ; First Lady calls for firing of top Admin official...
'Green News Report' 11/13/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
N. California fire now most deadly in state history; Kids' landmark climate lawsuit against placed on hold, again; PLUS: Federal judge halts all work on Keystone XL pipeline...
Previous GNRs: 11/8/18 - 11/6/18 - Archives...
FL 2000 'Recount' Chief: State 'Cannot Physically' Complete 'Recounts' by Deadline: 'BradCast' 11/12/18
Guest: FL's Ion Sancho; Also: CA fires; Sinema wins Senate in AZ; Legal fight for GA Guv...
Sunday 'VFW' Toons (Veterans Forgotten by Washington)
PDiddie's weekly toon collection nods to those gone and forgotten by some, and those not gone, but who we might like to forget...
Election Battles Rage in FL, GA: 'BradCast' 11/9/18
Guest-host Angie Coiro w/ latest on ballot fights in Senator, Guv races and other news; Also: Law360's Amber McKinney on DACA; D.D. Guttenplan on progressivism's future...
Dems' Challenge to FL 'Sig-nature Mismatch' Law Could Determine Guv, Senate Races
Even former Democratic Rep. Murphy disenfranchised when ballot was rejected...
Statewide 'Recounts' Likely in FL, GA, AZ Senate, Guv Races: 'BradCast' 11/8/18
Campaigns fight to 'count every vote' amid uncounted and rejected ballots, undervotes, computer-tabulation concerns; Also: CA mass shooting; RBG hospitalized; Trump Crisis...
'Green News Report' 11/8/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
GNR Special Coverage: Big wins, losses for the environment in 2018 midterms -- Science to return to the House Science Comm., Big Oil money crushes state energy ballot measures...
Previous GNRs: 11/6/18 - 11/1/18 - Archives...
Election Day 2018 An Entirely Predict-able Mess (Again): 'BradCast' 11/6/18
Hours-long lines, failed vote systems leave voters, ballots stranded; Also: Lulu Friesdat on tabulation mysteries, unlawful Wi-Fi in Dallas County, TX counting room...
'Green News Report' 11/6/18
SCOTUS allows kids' climate trial to proceed; 90% of kids breathe highly polluted air; Plastic pollution everywhere, even in humans; PLUS: World Bank nixes coal...
GA's Kemp Falsely Reports Voter Database Flaw as Dem Hack: 'BradCast' 11/5/18
Guest: Election integrity expert Marilyn Marks on Kemp's repeated 'cybercrimes' lies parrotted by media, while he oversees own Guv election against Abrams...
Sunday 'Fear Itself' Toons
If only the only thing we had to fear today was PDiddie's latest toon collection...
2018 Sec. of State Races Key to 2020 Presidential Election: 'BradCast' 11/2/18
Guest: Ari Berman on suppression and key down-ballot races; Also: Election nightmares previewed in WI, TN, ND?; Third-party pull-outs in AZ, MT Senate races...
2018 Guv Races Key to House Majorities in 2022, Beyond: 'BradCast' 11/1/18
Guest: Vox' Dylan Scott with encouraging news for Dems in several 'red' states; Also: More trouble at polls...
'Green News Report' 11/1/18
Criminal referral for Zinke; Ocean heat worse than known; G.M. wants e-car mandate; Our most crucial election; PLUS: Teen activist launches kids' strike for climate...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Guest: Doug Pagitt of Vote Common Good; Also: Voter registration surge after Taylor Swift endorsement, Nikki Haley's mysterious (and dishonest) resignation, and Hurricane Michael intensifies before FL landfall...
By Brad Friedman on 10/9/2018 6:18pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the religious left fights back! [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first: It's little wonder Fox 'News' doesn't like it when celebrities on the left speak out about politics. Sure, it's fine when a Republican actor or TV celebrity with zero political background runs for and becomes President of the United States. But if a singer or comedian sports hero on the left dares have an opinion, they need to "shut up and dribble". Vote.org reports a huge spike in voter registrations nationwide and in Tennessee this week, following pop star Taylor Swift's Instagram endorsement of the state's Democratic candidate, former Gov. Phil Bredesen, for the U.S. Senate in his race against Rep. Marsha Blackburn. Yes, bravely speaking out about politics helps. No wonder the right would like folks like Swift to shut up, especially as voter registration deadlines hit across the country this week and next.

At the same time, as a Category 3 hurricane barrels toward the Florida Gulf Coast, Democrats are forced to sue the state again, as they did in 2016, to force the Governor to extend voter registration, which officially ended on Tuesday night in the Sunshine State.

Also today, up in Washington, D.C., U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, one of the few top officials in the Trump Cabinet not considered to be a complete wingnut (a very low bar), announced her plan to resign at year's end for reasons that remain shrouded in much speculation. As she announced her planned exit today at the White House with Donald Trump, she managed to argue that since Trump --- who was laughed at, out loud, in the U.N. General Assembly just two weeks ago --- took office, "now, the United States is respected." As we discuss, that claim flies in the face of demonstrable facts supported by actual recent polling around the world.

Next up today, after Republicans ignored a statement last week from the National Coalition of Churches --- the nation's largest such group representing 38 denominations, 100,000 congregations and 40 million Americans --- to withdraw the U.S. Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh "immediately", a group of evangelicals are now hitting the road for a national bus tour to "Flip Congress for the common good."

We're joined today by Vote Common Good founder and executive director, Pastor DOUG PAGITT, to explain his group's attempted outreach to white evangelicals who may have previously supported Trump and his Republican Party. The non-profit, non-partisan organization's cross-country tour began in Pennsylvania last week and is set to hit Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Texas, and New Mexico before wrapping up in California before the November 6th election.

Pagitt, the founding pastor of Solomon's Porch Christian Comuninity in Minneapolis (and who also hosts an afternoon drive time show on our Minneapolis/St. Paul affiliate, am950 KTNF!) tells me that there is a need for liberal and progressive religious community leaders on the left to speak out for Christian values in the dangerous era of Trump, even if it risks their tax-exempt status and even as white evangelicals have institutionalized their support of the Republican Party with millions of dollars over the past several decades.

"What we are saying is the Republican Congress has lost its ability, lost its moral compass, lost its spine, when it comes to standing up to the Trump Administration. Our need to flip Congress now is a bipartisan, non-partisan civic duty to put restraints on the Trump Administration," he says. "I think pastors and churches all over the country should be willing to risk their non-profit status in order to speak out about the Trump Administration because the Trump Administration is that dangerous. The idea that the thing that makes a Christian community a Christian community is that people don't have to pay taxes on the money they give to you, is the lowest possible level that a Christian community could be proud of. It's almost like the government is saying is 'if you speak up against us, we're going to make that a financial burden upon you'. And I think Christian churches should take on that burden. If you lose that 501c3 non-profit contribution status? Fair enough. Be like every other business that has to function in this society."

Pagitt details how he believes that many Christian voters have been conned into giving up their values and otherwise intimidated and frightened into voting against biblical teachings. He calls for the Christian left to build a political coalition to counter the long-entrenched, so-called Religious Right.

"We are trying to call the bluff on the evangelicals who, out of one side of their mouth, want to say that they follow the teachings of Jesus, and out of the other side of their mouth, are not just endorsing Donald Trump but seem to be wanting to move into a full embrace of Trumpism," Pagitt tells me, explaining why many evangelicals who know Trump represents the opposite of their beliefs, may still be afraid of voting for Democrats. "People confuse their identity with their tactic. Voting is a tactic to bring about the common good. Voting ought not be seen as our identity, but a lot of religious people have merged their religious and civic identity with the political Republican Party...and [it's difficult] to start to separate out your identities from your tactics. When someone realizes in their life that they have a misplaced identity, that takes awhile for them to get their heads around."

It's a fascinating (and long overdue) national conversation that I recommend you tune in for.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as Hurricane Michael threatens Florida with catastrophic, global warming-fueled destruction and as the United Nations issues an alarming scientific report finding the worst impacts of climate change will arrive much sooner than predicted unless massive and immediate changes are made by the nations of the world...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Guest-host Angie Coiro with Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dave Johnson...
By Angie Coiro on 7/30/2018 6:38pm PT  

On today's BradCast, you won't hear Brad or Desi --- because you'll be very busy hearing me. I'm the host of In Deep with Angie Coiro.

You may have been fooled for a second --- nah, you're too smart --- but casual observers might mistake Jeff Sessions' announcement of a new DOJ "Religious Liberty Task Force" as an effort to address genuine hate crimes, including attacks on Muslim Americans, Jewish Americans, and Sikh Americans. But of course not. He made it clear it’s about bakers afraid of serving LGBTQ customers, or taxpayers having to support icky women – that sort of thing. ANNIE LAURIE GAYLOR is co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. She puts this latest news in the wider context of Trump’s pro-Christian pandering. While we're at it, we look at how bad for basic civil rights Brett Kavanaugh would be on the Supreme Court.

More news headlines, then DAVE JOHNSON of Seeing The Forest ponders how the concepts of markets, capitalism, and socialism get contorted by propaganda. Even respectable journalists fall victim...

Download MP3 or listen 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!




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Abuse reported at child immigrant detention centers; Trump's trade war dangers; More...
By Brad Friedman on 6/21/2018 6:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we have not one, but two important and separate warnings for Donald Trump and the Republican Party, as pulled from the deep audio archives of 1988. Both of which --- on two separate topics from two separate people --- they seem to be completely ignoring, even as one of those warnings comes from their supposed idol Ronald Reagan. [Audio link to show posted below.]

First up today, the Trump-caused child immigration crisis continues to unfold with several disturbing new reports of unspeakable abuse at two separate federally-contracted facilities, based on filings in new federal court cases. One from Associated Press on beatings and more at a youth facility in Virginia and the other from the Center for Investigative Reporting on the forced injection of psychotropic drugs at a facility near Houston. That, as an Executive Order signed by the President on Wednesday, reversing part of his Administration's policy, fails to speak to family reunification for more than 2,300 children separated from their parents in recent weeks under Trump's "zero tolerance" border policy, and an Administration request to the Pentagon for space to house some 20,000 migrant children.

While all of those American nightmares have been unfolding over the past week, the effects of Trump's growing trade war have been quietly playing out in the background, as the Dow has dropped some 600 points over the past four days, with China and friendly allies like Canada, Mexico and the EU vowing massive and swift retaliation for ill-considered tariff's on foreign imports instituted by Trump. Among the hardest-hit victims of his new trade wars: farmers who were among some of biggest supporters of Trump's candidacy in 2016.

Perhaps that explains why, as share in an audio clip from 1988 today, Ronald Reagan warned: "We should beware of the demagogues who are ready to declare a trade war...all while cynically waving the American flag."

Next, we're joined by MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal reporter at Slate, and our "Supreme Correspondent" this month, as the U.S. Supreme Court slowly releases a bevy of decisions in advance of their planned Summer recess, on a number of major cases heard at the high court over the past term. Among the cases we discuss today:

  • On Thursday, SCOTUS released a 5 to 4 decision allowing states to impose sales taxes on all online purchases. The ruling found some very strange bedfellows in both its majority and minority opinions, but both Stern and I agree, the decision makes sense, and will be good for local retailers, jobs, the economy and state budgets where, particularly in "red" states, tax cuts in recent years have lead to the gutting of education, infrastructure and other important social services. The 1967 SCOTUS ruling struck down today, was "a totally capricious standard that the Court created itself," Stern argues. "This was the Court fixing a problem that it made."
  • Stern also details an exceedingly troubling --- if little reported --- case out of South Dakota, where a man was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death, according to jury members themselves, they feared, as a gay man, he might enjoy life in prison too much. Seriously. Perhaps the most disturbing part of this matter: the Court declined to hear the case at all. Even the liberal Justices failed to offer a written dissent to the Court's decision.
  • We also discuss the SCOTUS' regrettable punts this week on two partisan gerrymandering cases in Wisconsin and Maryland. (More on those cases earlier this week, with author David Daley on Monday's BradCast.)
  • And the seemingly unprecedented federal court smack down of Kris Kobach, notorious GOP "voter fraud" fraudster and Kansas Secretary of State. His "Proof of Citizenship" voter registration law was struck down by a George W. Bush-appointed federal judge, and he was slapped for his contemptible performance in the courtroom --- where he represented both himself and the state of KS --- with more humiliating sanctions that include an order to attend six hours of legal classes. Moreover, as Stern reports, Kobach appears to be in still more violation of court orders, as he has yet to remove the requirement for citizenship documentation for voter registration from the KS Sec. of State website, as the judge ordered him to do "immediately" in her ruling on Monday.

    "I think that there is a decent chance that we could see even more sanctions for Kobach after this," Stern tells me. "Kobach is such a clown that this judge is going to finally have to bring down the hammer and I think it's going to be a glorious sight." (More on that case, with Sophia Lakin, one of the ACLU trial attorneys on the case, from Tuesday's BradCast.)

  • Previewing the cases still to come before the end of the month, Sterns warns: "I think the Supreme Court is going to hobble public sector unions by preventing them from collecting dues from no-union members. I worry the Supreme Court is going to uphold the [Muslim] travel ban. I do think the Court may put real limits on the government's ability to collect information about where your cell phone has been from your provider. That's going to be a bright spot, I hope. But I also think the court's going to end up striking down California's disclosure requirements for crisis pregnancy centers. So, this is s not going to be a good term for progressives. I think everyone needs to just buckle in and focus on November."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on a number of important issues that the Trump Administration did quietly this week as the rest of the nation and media were consumed with the child immigration story, and the 30th anniversary of Dr. James Hansen's first dire warning to Congress --- also in 1988 --- about the then-looming menace of global warming due to the unprecedented release of greenhouse gasses, such as carbon dioxide from the manmade burning of fossil fuels, into the atmosphere...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Former Asst. U.S. Attorney Randall D. Eliason on Trump, Cohen, Mueller and indicting a sitting President; Also: Tax cut popularity plummets, GOPers in Congress and White House run for the exits...
By Brad Friedman on 4/17/2018 6:25pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's Tax Day! Donald Trump is trying to celebrate his massive tax cut for the rich, but not many are dumb enough to actually believe him. Not with White House staffers and Republicans in Congress leaving in droves, and legal trouble getting ever closer to the President by the day, hour, moment. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First today, while Trump and the GOP have been banking on their deficit exploding tax cut to help mitigate their likely losses in the upcoming 2018 mid-term elections, they may need to come up with a Plan B, as new polling reveals the scheme is decreasing, rather than increasing in popularity since it's passage last December.

That, as still more Republicans are running from Congress today, and even lobbyists turned White House officials are crawling back out of the swamp and back through the revolving door to get their corporate lobbying gigs back before it's too late.

Even Trump's own stolen Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch abandoned the President momentarily today, to join the Court's four liberals in striking strike down a law allowing the government to deport criminals for vaguely defined "violent crimes".

But all of that may be of little moment to Trump today, as his own personal legal woes continue to mount each day at a seemingly ever increasing pace.

Joining us to try and make sense of the fallout from the recent raid of Trump's "personal attorney" Michael Cohen and his bizarre federal court hearing on Monday, as well as where Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe may (or may not) be heading at this point, is RANDALL D. ELIASON, former Assistant U.S. Attorney in D.C., George Washington University law professor, blogger, and Washington Post legal commentator.

Eliason details why the case against Cohen is "much bigger than just some Stormy Daniels referral" and why the Trump attorney's argument hoping to prevent prosecutors from examining supposed attorney-client privileged documents is, along with the entire criminal probe of a sitting President, "so remarkable, and incredible, and unprecedented."

"I mean, yesterday the lawyers for the head of the Executive Branch were in a federal courtroom arguing that the Department of Justice's own prosecutors can't be trusted to do a privilege review. Their own boss is in there arguing against them, basically, that they can't do this properly," Eliason tells me. "It is just unbelievable."

He also explains precisely what "collusion" is and isn't; what "corrupt intent" actually means in a legal sense, as it relates to potential obstruction of justice felonies being investigated by Mueller; why it doesn't matter whether Mueller interviews Trump at all; and whether the Special Counsel may end up issuing an indictment of the President, rather than just a report that could be referred to Congress for impeachment consideration.

Finally, speaking of mountains of scandal, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, on the increasingly scandal-plagues EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and some good news from Apple, Google, and even Trump's Department of Interior...

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By Brad Friedman on 4/5/2018 6:19pm PT  

On today's BradCast: While everything still sucks, there are, nonetheless, a growing number of encouraging signs that Americans --- even those in so-called "red" states --- have had just about enough of the rightwing Republican corporate takeover and ravaging of this country and so much that we hold dear. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Among the stories covered towards that end on today's program...

  • A record-breaking number of women are now running for Congress, and the filing deadlines haven't even passed in half of the states;
  • Sinclair Broadcasting Group's insidious misuse of our public airwaves for rightwing pro-Trump propaganda purposes finally begins to catch the attention of Democrats in Congress, as company executives mouth off with pathetic excuses, former employees speak out, some staffers resign in protest, and others, while embarrassed by being forced to read on-air nonsense from their owners, find reasonable excuses for not quitting (such as outrageously onerous contract terms) at once-respected TV news outlets now controlled by the nation's largest owner of television stations;
  • Teachers in so-called "red" states like Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona and West Virginia continue walkouts to push back against state education budgets that have been slashed in recent years to pay for huge tax cuts to wealthy corporations in failed experiments with supposedly "pro-growth" Reaganomics;
  • And while Republican officials in those states have made clear they were only pretending to give a damn about kids, their pretend love for coal miners has also been exposed as a lie in Kentucky, where lawmakers just made it much more difficult for miners to receive compensation amid an epidemic surge of deadly black lung disease cases;
  • The jaw-dropping corruption scandals of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt continue to be revealed on a daily basis. So, will Donald Trump finally find the courage to fire him?;
  • And, finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, in which Mobil Oil joins Exxon in being revealed as having been fully aware, decades ago, that the burning of fossil fuels is causing civilization-threatening climate change, and Americans tell Ryan Zinke and his Interior Department to take a hike over huge proposed increases to entry fees at our national parks...

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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: Obama's former chief economist at DoL, Heidi Shierholz; Also: New Trump budget slashes domestic programs, calls for trillion dollar deficits, includes long-awaited, scam infrastructure plan...
By Brad Friedman on 2/12/2018 6:08pm PT  

On today's BradCast: If there's anything the Trump Administration excels at, it's their reverse Robin Hood penchant of taking from the poor to give to the rich. But their new wage theft plan for workers in the restaurant industry may bring that penchant to new heights --- or depths, as the case may be. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first up, and very much related, Trump's new $4.4 trillion budget proposal, released on Monday, calls for moving still more money from the poor to the rich --- on the heels of last year's unpaid-for $1.5 trillion tax scam --- with cuts to domestic programs, more obscene increases to our national war budget, and trillion dollar deficit spending as far as the eye can see. And all of that is separate from his Department of Labor's plan to steal tips off the tables of waiters and waitresses. Yes, literally!

We break down Trump's dead-on-arrival proposal for his 2019 budget, which doubles the deficit spending called for by his dead-on-arrival 2018 budget. The scheme, described Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) as "morally bankrupt", also includes what he and corporate media (inaccurately) have been referring to as a $1.5 trillion Infrastructure Plan to rebuild the nation's roads, bridges, airports and much more. That scheme would actually invest just $200 billion in federal money, with the rest being paid for, in theory, by cash-strapped states and wealthy private corporations --- even as the $200 billion in proposed federal spending actually comes by way of cuts to the Dept. of Transportation and EPA. In other words, as we detail today, his $1.5 trillion infrastructure program, is really a $0 infrastructure program, in which we sell off our national assets to private companies. Other than that, it sounds great!

Then, speaking of Trump scams, we're joined by President Obama's former chief economist at the Department of Labor, HEIDI SHIERHOLZ, now Senior Economist and Director of Policy at the Economic Policy Institute, to discuss the Trump Dept. of Labor's new plan to steal tips earned by service professionals and give it to restaurant owners instead. No, really.

"There is long-standing practice by the DOL that interpreted tips as belonging to the workers who earned them. That was codified in a 2011 rule, that just said very clearly, 'Employers, you can't take tips, they belong to the workers who earned them." What this proposed rule does is it just rescinds those regulations --- it says employers can do whatever they want with worker's tips, as long as they pay workers minimum wage," Shierholz tells me. "This has been a dream of the National Restaurant Association, which is the big industry group for restaurants forever. [Trump's DoL] cared so much about giving a big gift to the National Restaurant Association, that they were willing to propose a rule that would literally shift billions of dollars from workers to employers."

And, as if that's not outrageous enough, as Bloomberg Law revealed earlier this month, it turns out the DoL, when asking for Public Comment on this new rule, withheld their own agency's analysis, finding the new scheme would transfer billions of dollars from wait staff to the restaurant owners themselves, who'd get to keep anything earned above the federal hourly minimum wage of $7.35 hour! Shierholz details how the Department is hoping to scam the public by not including their own analysis of the cost of this new rule, even as her own organization's analysis estimates that the new regulation, allowing owners to keep tip money, could transfer nearly $6 billion annually await from wait staff, and potentially as much as $13 billion each year.

"But this is the key: there are rules that they have to follow as a part of the rule-making process, and it includes, very clearly, that they have to do a very comprehensive cost-benefit analysis. They have to estimate the impacts of the rule on workers. We now know that they did do that. But it looked really bad, and so they tried to bury it."

Yup. Prepare yourself to pay up once again to defend still more lawsuits filed against this lawless Administration.

We also discuss how this rule, if finalized, will adversely affect women in particular, who stand to lose $4.6 billion of the $5.8 taken from tipped workers each year. "The fact they are forging ahead with this, despite knowing how bad it is for workers, really is primarily about their far greater interest in supporting corporate interests over those of workers. The fact that it's massively, disproportionately going to affect women may be sort of a bonus," Shierholz quips.

Finally, with the unthinkable possibility of peace between North and South Korea breaking out over the weekend during the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang --- despite the Trump Administration's determined hopes for a new, potentially nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula --- deadly new military skirmishes broke out between Israel, Iran and Syria over the weekend. So, just in case you're worried that all of Trump's new U.S. military spending would go for naught, don't worry! We'll always find new wars on which to spend it...while your kids can't pay for college, you can't afford medical care and the Trump Administration is stealing tips off the table.

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

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CA Dem joins 'BradCast' to tout new 'Woman and Climate' bill, much more!; Also: Rand Paul defines 'hypocrisy' in budget battle; Porter scandal reveals Trump, Kelly undermining national security at White House...
By Brad Friedman on 2/9/2018 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We're joined by progressive Democratic REP. BARBARA LEE of California, the only member of Congress, in either house, to vote against the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) after 9/11, calling it a blank check that would lead to endless war. As we now know, 17 years later, with the War in Afghanistan and many others still raging under the third President to cite the AUMF to justify military action anywhere in the world without Congressional oversight, she was, of course, correct. Along with continuing her fight to repeal that 2001 AUMF, this week Lee introduced a new bill regarding woman and climate change, which we discuss as well today. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first up, on another insanely busy program, we detail what happened on Thursday night and Friday morning when Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) single-handedly held up passage of the new, bi-partisan government spending bill, which includes up to $500 billion in new military and domestic spending, as well as disaster aid. In shutting down the government for the second time this year, for about seven hours, Paul described approval of the bill and increased deficit spending by his fellow Republicans to be the "the very definition of intellectual dishonesty [and] hypocrisy". That, after the intellectually dishonest and hypocritical Paul just voted in December, along with the entire Senate Republican caucus, for massive, unpaid-for tax cuts set to blow a $1.5 trillion hole in the national debt.

Then, late details on this week's newest scandal surrounding the resignation of White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter on Wednesday, following the public disclosure of his alleged violence against his two former wives. Among the new developments: Donald Trump's Chief of Staff John Kelly and other top White House officials reportedly knew about the charges long ago; Kelly has now said he'd be willing to resign over what happened, and several outlets are reporting that their remain "dozens" of White House staffers, some in very senior positions, still operating without full security clearance.

That suggests that many of them, like the President's son-in-law Jared Kushner, may never receive full security clearances, despite Trump and the GOP having run their entire Presidential campaign hypocritically (and falsely) charging that Hillary Clinton carelessly allowed classified information to be seen by those without proper security clearance. According to Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), a former White House Staff Secretary himself, describes this situation as "nuts", saying that Porter would have handled the nation's most highly classified secrets in his top Oval Office role. He believes an investigation is warranted to determine what both Kelly and Trump knew about the "eminently blackmailable" Porter and who gave him the okay to remain on, even after the FBI had determined he would not qualify for a full security clearance.

Next, we're joined by Congresswoman Lee, to detail her new "Woman and Climate Change Act of 2018" [PDF]. We discuss how women and girls around the world are "bearing the brunt in many ways", as the first and most affected victims of the dangerous effects of global warming and whether Republican members of the bi-partisan Women's Working Group may help in co-sponsoring this effort, despite "the climate deniers who are within the federal government running the show."

"Women are especially vulnerable to these changes in the environment," Lee explains. "We know women are the ones that are finding water, collecting food, caring for family members. And so now, more than ever, we need to focus on climate change as a whole, but also ways to empower women, as they are the most vulnerable people, and will be impacted most by these health epidemics, refuge crises, forced migration --- all the issues that we know women are disproportionately impacted by."

She also shares her opinion on the odds of Ivanka Trump, self-proclaimed women's champion, coming aboard this particular campaign. Lee, a former co-chair of the Progressive Caucus in the House, who now serves as Senior Democratic Whip, responds as to whether Democrats fought hard enough, during the recent government funding battle, to protect "Dreamers" facing imminent deportation as early as March 5, unless a legislative deal can be struck, and whether she believes House Speaker Paul Ryan will ever allow such a measure to be brought up for a vote. She urges Americans to keep contacting their members of Congress on both of these efforts.

"Listen, you have to stay optimistic. Otherwise we get stuck with their negativity and trying to take us back. The public has to be hopeful and has to work hard to get this done," she tells me.

Finally, Lee also shares her thoughts on the bi-partisan momentum in both the House and Senate for finally repealing (and replacing?) the 2001 AUMF. "Congress has been missing in action. We need to do our job, and we're not. But, believe you me, we are building support to do this," she insists. "Hold your elected officials accountable!"

We close today with a bit of listener mail in response to a recent story we covered on the record number of scientists now said to be running for office in 2018, and on the dangerous new effort by the Trump Administration place lifetime limits on Medicaid for the first time in the popular social safety net program's history...

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

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Special coverage with blogger Dave Johnson and podcaster Tara Devlin...
By Brad Friedman on 1/31/2018 5:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we try to make sense (wish us luck!) of Donald Trump's first, anything-but-normal State of the Union Address on Tuesday night. [Audio link to show follows below.]

After some quick news headlines --- (on another top Trump official resigning in shame, another senior Republican Congressman announcing he won't run for reelection, a Democratic Senator avoiding a second corruption trial, and a literal GOP train-wreck) --- we dive into our special coverage of what used to be a solemn and largely serious U.S. tradition.

We're joined today for commentary, fact-checking and other post-SOTU analysis by DAVE JOHNSON, longtime blogger, creator of "Seeing the Forest", and former Senior Fellow at Campaign for America's Future, and TARA DEVLIN, comedian, creator of RDTDaily.com and host of the weekly, TaraBuster podcast.

Desi Doyen joins us as well, of course, to help break down and fact-check Trump's misleading claims and outright SOTU lies on the economy, tax cuts, healthcare, immigration, drug prices, dangerous "national security" plans, his deceptive infrastructure proposal, his racist dog-whistles and shameless attempts at fear-mongering the American people during Tuesday night's joint session of Congress.

We also review just some of the things that Trump didn't mention in his speech for some reason (America's deadly gun epidemic and climate change, among others), whether Democrats will be able to counter the coming tsunami of GOP propaganda in advance of the 2018 midterms, and how Rep. Joe Kennedy, III performed in his Democratic Response to Trump's address.

"It's another flim-flam plan from the greatest con-man who ever lived," explains Devlin about at least one of the items mentioned above. "That's going to be one of those things that in a few months Trump is going to deny he said. It ain't gonna happen. The opposite is going to happen," says Johnson about another one of those items. Take your pick. But tune in for our special coverage on a very lively show amid very dark times!...

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

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