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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, March 22, 2019
WI GOP Power-Grab Undone by Judge; Military 'Readiness' Undermined by Trump: 'BradCast' 3/21/19
Also: 'Historic' U.S. flooding; New Zealand bans 'weapons of war'; Trump's new arms race...
'Green News Report' 3/21/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Staggering losses in Midwest flooding; Houston chemical fire warning; EPA chief delays climate action as 2020 Dems demand it; PLUS: 'Holy Grail' ruling in WY oil, gas drilling case...
Previous GNRs: 3/19/19 - 3/14/19 - Archives...
FL Repubs Undermining Ex-Felon Voting Rights Amend-ment: 'BradCast' 3/20/19
Guest: ACLU Florida's Micah Kubic; Also: Beto on voter suppression; Abrams says she 'won' in GA; U.S. judge blocks oil, gas drilling in WY...
Under Water, Under the Gun, Under Pressure:
'BradCast' 3/19/19
Climate catastrophe in 'Trump County'; Also: Dem 2020 candidates seek to abolish Electoral College; DST haters strike back; Much more...
'Green News Report' 3/19/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Devastating flooding in upper Midwest; Cyclone kills as many as 1,000 in Mozambique; Two toxic refinery fires in Houston; PLUS: The kids' Climate Strike heard 'round the world...
Previous GNRs: 3/14/19 - 3/12/19 - Archives...
Court News (Good and Bad) on Gerrymanders, Voting, Guns, Abortion: 'BradCast' 3/18/19
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Record Midwest flooding; Beto, Bernie and Buttigieg; The definitive truth on Daylight Saving Time...
Sunday 'Hate Ain't Funny' Toons
And neither is ignorance. Don't miss PDiddie's latest, disturbing, weekly toon collection...
Looming Disaster?: Dems Adding Online Voting for 2020 Caucuses: 'BradCast' 3/15/19
Guest: Journo Steven Rosenfeld; Also: Kids strike for climate action around globe; Trumpers against unverifiable touchscreen voting...
Congress Takes Baby Steps to Claw Back Powers, Rebuke Trump: 'BradCast' 3/14/19
Also: Beto jumps in to 2020; Still more evidence WI's GOP Photo ID voting restrictions were meant only to prevent Dems from voting...
'Green News Report' 3/14/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
GAO: Admin climate policy rollbacks wasting billions: Air pollution and autism; Climate change and property values; PLUS: Is activism pushing a shift in the fossil fuel industry?...
Previous GNRs: 3/12/19 - 3/7/19 - Archives...
Dems Introduce Bill to 'Rebuild Main St. on Wall St.'s Dime': 'BradCast' 3/13/19
Guest: Public Citizen's Susan Harley; Also: CA Guv halts death penalty; Manafort gets 7 years, new charges in NY; Green New Deal already paying off...
Impeachment Off the Table? Again?; Also: The Venezuela Scam: 'BradCast' 3/12/19
Plus: NY AG finally probing Trump bank fraud; Feds finally probing GOP election fraud in NC; Kids plan climate strikes in 90 countries...
'Green News Report' 3/12/19
Teens plan global day of strikes for climate action; Trump's oil/gas lobbyist for Interior; WY coal gets bailout; PLUS: Bernie in 1989 was right about climate coverage in 2018...
NY Reviews Vote System After Computer 'Ballot Stuffing' Flaw: 'BradCast' 3/11/19
Guest: Georgia Tech's Richard DeMillo on similar systems in GA, OH, PA; Also: Trump to slash Medicare in new budget; Bernie's 1987 climate change warnings...
Sunday 'Spring Forward' Toons
You may have lost an hour over the weekend, but PDiddie's latest toon collection may help put a spring back in your step...
54 Yrs After 'Bloody Sunday', Repubs Vow to Block Voting Rights: 'BradCast' 3/7/19
McConnell won't allow Senate vote on HR-1 or VRA fix; Also: Hand-marked paper ballots for PA County!; Cohen sues Trump Org; GOPers re-thinking climate denial...
'Green News Report' 3/7/19
Toxic coal waste in 39 states' water; Plastic in deepest ocean; Former military officials slam Trump on climate; PLUS: Senate Dems go on climate offense...
The 'Shadow Impeachment' of Donald J. Trump: 'BradCast' 3/6/19
Guest: Philly's Will Bunch; Also: Trump blows up federal and foreign trade deficit; House Dems seek vote suppression docs from GA's GOP Guv, Sec. of State...
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: Susan Harley of Public Citizen; Also: CA Guv halts death penalty; Manafort sentenced to 7 years, charged in NY; GND already paying off...
By Brad Friedman on 3/13/2019 6:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Democrats propose a new tax on Wall Street traders that could both put the brakes on market volatility that threatens the investments of average Americans, while raising billions of much needed dollars for the federal government. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first, some good news for the nation out of California. Newly elected Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom has now signed an executive order placing a moratorium on the state-sanctioned killing of some 737 individuals on the state's death row. Describing the death penalty as "discriminatory" and a "failure" that has resulted in the deaths of "wrongly convicted" people proven innocent, while costing the state billions of dollars, the Governor has now blocked the barbaric planned executions of about one quarter of those slated to be killed by governments across the nation.

"It’s a very emotional place that I stand," Newsom said at a presser today, "This is about who I am as a human being, this is about what I can or cannot do. To me this is the right thing to do." As we discuss, it's not the first time that Newsom, as a public official, has placed doing the right moral thing over what may or may not be politically popular, at the moment, among the electorate.

Back in Washington D.C., Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced to an additional 73 months for criminal conspiracy fraud and witness tampering on Wednesday. Some of those months will be served concurrently with the 47 months he was sentenced to last week in a Virginia federal court related to undisclosed lobbying for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine. With the partially concurrent sentencing, the 69-year old Manafort now faces nearly seven years in prison.

While none of the 20 or so federal counts in two different courts that Manafort was found guilty of had charged "collusion" with Russia for interference in the 2016 election, his attorney and Donald Trump used the occasion once again to lie about that fact to the American public today. But just minutes after today's new sentencing, Manhattan's District Attorney announced 16 new indictments against Manafort in state court related to mortgage fraud and more than a dozen other crimes for which, if found guilty, the President would be unable to pardon him. Trump's pardon power extends only to federal, not state crimes.

As the madness surrounding our criminal Presidency continues, Democrats in Congress are pushing ahead with a number of progressive policy proposals in advance of 2020 to hopefully help pull the nation out of its current self-imposed morass and rebalance some of the worsening inequities between the wealthy, the poor and the middle class. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Congressman Pete DeFazio (D-OR) have now introduced new legislation that would create a very small, 0.1%, Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) on every stock market transaction. The bill [PDF] --- which already has a number of Democratic cosponsors in the House and Senate, including among Presidential hopefuls --- is estimated to raise as much as $800 billion in much-needed revenue for federal coffers over ten years. As importantly, the measure is designed to ease market volatility by curbing the legalized skimming that takes place by high volume computer traders who purchase trades from normal investors and sell them back to the investors at a higher rate, all within a fraction of a second.

The legislation is supported by some 60 non-partisan good government organizations, including Public Citizen. Attorney SUSAN HARLEY, Deputy Director of the group's Congress Watch division, joins us today to explain this new move toward an FTT that would cost traders one-tenth of a cent per dollar traded. That's $1 for every thousand invested or, as Harley explains, "Ten cents out of every 100 dollars traded. That's why we like to talk about it as rebuilding Main Street on Wall Street's dime."

"We do pay taxes on all of our purchases," she tells me. "so Wall Street should be doing the same as far as these stocks trades, bond trades, and derivative trades. It absolutely is about fairness, about making sure Wall Street is paying back the US because we did bail them out for the financial crash."

She details how the proposal is ultimately a very progressive tax, even as it's very small, because it would largely fall on the wealthy. "We've really got to re-balance our tax code, and unrigging our economy starts with making Wall Street pay its fair share. The top 1% of society owns two thirds of all financial securities."

"We did research on existing fees --- things like commission, overhead costs, broker fees. The Financial Transactions Tax would be only about $80 for the average 401k or retirement saver, versus more than $1000 in existing fees. That's just the average. Some funds have existing fees of more than $2500 dollars. So, it really is a drop in the bucket as compared to the existing commissions and other types of ways that Wall Street is taking it out of the pocket of average investors."

Harley discusses both the legislation's challenges and growing political support on Capitol Hill, where the Trump/GOP 2017 $1.5 trillion tax cut, largely for corporations and the wealthy, has resulted in record trillion dollar annual deficits and a recent budget proposal by Trump to cut more than a trillion dollars from social programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. (He had vowed to not cut those programs during his 2016 campaign, while suggesting that Democrats would do so.)

Finally, speaking of progressive policy proposals, the recently introduced Green New Deal is already paying off. Rightwingers have been freaking out about it, and lying about it, but they are also scrambling to respond after realizing its huge popularity among the electorate and how silly they look. Several longtime climate science deniers, including Trump acolyte and accomplice Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), are now taking baby steps by conceding that "climate change is real" and "humans contribute". Soon they may even notice that, according to climate scientists, human activity is actually responsible for 100% of the warming we've seen to date. But, hey, it's a start...

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: Will Bunch of Philly Inquirer/Daily News; Also: Trump blows up both federal deficit AND foreign trade deficit; House Dems seek vote suppression docs from GA's GOP Governor, Sec. of State...
By Brad Friedman on 3/6/2019 6:39pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the heat continues to grow on the Trump Administration, as Democrats ramp up their oversight efforts after taking back a majority in the U.S. House. But, with another Presidential election around the corner, should they already be pursuing Articles of Impeachment, particularly with what we already know about Donald Trump's unprecedented crimes and corruption both before and after becoming President? [Audio link to full show follows below.]

But, first up today...A new report from Donald Trump's U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday confirms that the Trump/GOP tax cuts have blown up the federal deficit to record levels. In the first four months of the budget year (which began in October) the deficit is up an astonishing 77 percent over the same period the previous year, thanks in no small part to a vast reduction in revenue on the heels of the tax cut, including a 23 percent drop in corporate taxes paid to the Government compared to last year. So much for the Republican repeated lie that their tax cuts would "pay for themselves!"

Then, on Wednesday, the Commerce Department followed up that news with the announcement that the foreign trade deficit has exploded, even after Trump's "American First" tariffs and trade wars that were supposed to shrink the imbalance with foreign nations that Trump has long (falsely) blamed for the loss of American manufacturing jobs. As a candidate, he described the U.S. foreign trade deficit as a "politician-made disaster" that he said he could "turn around fast". But his tariffs have only made things worse.

Moreover, as recently as this past weekend at CPAC, he repeated his line about "billions of dollars...pouring into our Treasury" due to his new tariffs on imported goods, but failed, as usual, to mention that those "billions" are paid by American consumers, not foreign nations. A recent study [PDF] found Americans are footing the entire bill for Trump's tariffs and that it is costing more for those in Republican-leaning counties. A separate study [PDF] from a different set of economists found that if Trump's tariffs somehow resulted in the creation of 35,000 new manufacturing jobs (the total number of jobs lost in the steel and aluminum industry over the past decade) they would still have cost tax-payers $195,000 per job.

Those, of course, are just some of Trump's failures as President. His high crimes and misdemeanors are another matter. With Democrats back in the majority in the U.S. House, oversight of the Executive Branch is finally beginning again. Trump and the White House and their TV operation called Fox "News", describe the Constitutional mandate oversight as a "fishing expedition", a "disgrace" and "PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!" But, citing the House Judiciary Committee's request for documents from over 80 Trump associates or entities this week, our guest today, longtime Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News national columnist WILL BUNCH, describes the effort as a "shadow impeachment".

He tells me the effort now underway in the House is "exactly like" the process we would see if Articles of Impeachment had already been introduced, but without Democrats having to use "the i-word". But will that process be enough to bring accountability, much less put the brakes on this out-of-control, unprecedentedly corrupt Presidency? Especially with the next Presidential election already baring down on us? A "shadow impeachment" that could become a real one is fine, but shouldn't we have a real one already? We discuss those questions and many others with Bunch on today's program.

Finally, speaking of long-overdue and much-needed federal oversight. Democratic leadership in the House Oversight and Reform Committee today sent letters [PDF] to Georgia's new Republican Governor and former Sec. of State Brian Kemp, along with new Sec. of State Brad Raffensberger, seeking documents surrounding the massive vote suppression that tainted Kemp's reported narrow victory in the Governor's contest over Democrat Stacey Abrams last November. Among the documents sought by the House Dems in their new investigation are those related to Peach State government actions to purge voters (1.4 million were removed from the rolls during Kemp's tenure as SoS), shut down polling places (200 have been closed since 2012); keep newly-registered voters off the rolls (the registrations of 53,000 disproportionately black voters were suspended under the state's so-called "exact match" requirement); the "sequestration" of un-deployed voting machines (which resulted in long lines on Election Day in three key counties); and other related concerns over which Kemp was sued (and lost) countless times while overseeing his own election last year.

All of that as both Kemp and Raffensberger are pushing hard this week to hoax state lawmakers into voting to spend at least $150 million on new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems. Republicans are rushing through legislation this week in the state Senate to purchase the new computer-marked "paper ballot" systems, despite being virulently opposed by computer cybersecurity and voting machine experts who describe the new systems as unverifiable [PDF], unauditable [PDF] and vulnerable to hacking [PDF]. The experts recommend hand-marked paper ballot systems instead.

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: Public Citizen's General Counsel Allison Zieve; Also: Sanders breaks record; Green New Deal wildly popular; The off-the-rails Tucker Carlson interview Fox 'News' didn't want you to hear...
By Brad Friedman on 2/20/2019 6:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Good news for Bernie, good news for the Green New Deal, bad news for Tucker Carlson and Fox "News", and the fight is joined against the "invasion" on the U.S. southern border. (No, not that one.) [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up: When Congress settled on a compromise spending deal last week to keep the federal government open, the agreement included a special carve-out to protect a number of sensitive wildlife and tourism related areas along the Rio Grande River in South Texas, including the threatened National Butterfly Center and the 150-year old La Lomita Mission Chapel. But, as the Director of the 100-acre butterfly and wildlife refuge tells us, she is continuing the Center's lawsuit against the government because she fears Donald Trump's "National Emergency" declaration may now override the protective legislative carve out. "In fact, we expect the equipment already at work near us will just roll right over and through us," Marianna Trevino-Wright said via email after bill was signed and the "emergency" declared by the President, noting that even the current legislative agreement lasts for just six months before negotiations for 2020 appropriations begin. "We have not been spared," Trevino-Wright wrote, "We were given a temporary stay of execution."

Receiving no such "stay" however, are thousands of private residents living along the South Texas border. So, last Friday, the non-profit good government organization Public Citizen filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of three private citizens and the Frontera Audubon Society challenging Trump's "National Emergency" declaration to steal money from the military in order to build his wall with Mexico on the border. The lawsuit [PDF] filed in the U.S. District Court for D.C. describes the scheme as unlawful and unconstitutional.

We're joined today by ALLISON ZIEVE, General Counsel for Public Citizen and Director of their Supreme Court Assistance Project, to discuss the complaint filed on behalf of three Starr County, TX residents whose property and homes on the banks of the Rio Grande --- where they and their families have lived for as many as five generations --- will now be bisected by a giant barrier, cutting them off from the river entirely. In one case, the wall would be built just feet from the landowner's house.

The suit describes the federal government's heavy-handed tactics to condemn and seize private lands from the plaintiffs as an "imminent invasion of privacy and the quiet enjoyment of their land." The case is also filed on behalf of Frontera Audubon, which charges the wall will impede migration of wildlife at the nature preserve and prevent their members from getting to where birds and other sensitive species are threatened along a 250-mile wildlife corridor on the Rio Grande River.

Zieve tells me how Public Citizen's complaint, filed last Friday, differs from the one filed by 16 state Attorneys General on Monday also seeking to block Trump's "emergency" declaration as an unlawful exercise of the National Emergency Act, and how the cases are likely to play out as they work their way, almost certainly, to the U.S. Supreme Court, particularly, she notes, "if any of the plaintiffs win" at the appellate level.

"If there's no emergency, the President can't declare one," Zieve argues, adding: "What it really comes down to is there is no emergency. Everybody knows that. It's not really that [the Administration] thinks there's an emergency. It's that they think the President can do whatever he wants. And that's just not our Constitutional system."

Also on today's show: Bernie Sanders shatters historic U.S. records for funds raised on the first day of his announcement that he's running for President again in 2020. And it wasn't even close. And the elements of the Green New Deal prove to be wildly popular, garnering well over 80 percent support across all political parties, according to a new poll by Business Insider.

Finally, the unaired profane interview between Tucker Carlson of Fox 'News' and historian Rutger Bregman about raising taxes on the wealthy that, apparently, Fox does not want you to hear, since they taped it last week but decided against running it --- so we did.

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: Marianna Trevino-Wright of the National Butterfly Center; Also: Hannity allows Trump to take wall deal; FEMA Director abruptly quits...
By Brad Friedman on 2/13/2019 6:57pm PT  

As my guest details on today's BradCast, it's not immigrants who are currently posing a threat to those living on our southern border, it's lawless federal agents encroaching on private lands to build an unnecessary and dangerous border wall. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But, first up: the Department of Justice rounded up dozens of gang members and indicted them on Tuesday as part of a criminal conspiracy for "attempted murder, kidnapping, maiming, and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine." No, they weren't "violent inner-city thugs" or "murderous MS-13 immigrant gangsters", they were white supremacist members of the Arkansas-based New Aryan Empire. Oddly enough, Donald Trump hasn't mentioned them during any of his false, anti-immigrant rants at campaign rallies and State of the Union addresses.

Meanwhile, it appears that Trump will most likely sign the compromise deal struck between Congressional Democrats and Republicans this week to fund the federal government and avoid another shutdown, even though he will get less than he could have had if he'd accepted the deal he backed out of last year before shutting down the federal government over his new demand for $5.7 billion to build a border wall. Sean Hannity of Fox "News" and wingnut talk radio fame has now backed off his earlier charge that "any Republican that supports this garbage compromise" would have to explain themselves. He now appears to be supporting the compromise, while calling for the President to declare a "national emergency" to steal more tax-payer money for a wall. With that permission from his Fox "News" handlers, Trump will almost certainly sign the agreement.

In all, as Trump points out, the deal allocates $23 billion for border security --- a lot of money for Democrats to agree to if, as Trump lies, they favor "open borders". It's also a lot of money period. But, record national debt and annual deficit spending do not appear to be a problem for pretend "fiscally conservative" Republicans in Congress. The Treasury Department announced yesterday that the national debt has now topped $22 trillion for the first time in history, after increasing more than $2 trillion since Trump took office under GOP leadership in Congress. The landmark comes thanks, in no small part, to the Trump/GOP's unpaid-for $1.5 trillion tax cuts.

And while both Democrats and Republicans in Congress are hoping that Trump signs their compromise border security agreement to keep the government open, Trump's U.S. Customs and Border (CPB) agents are busy breaking into private property and threatening to seize private lands owned by Americans who have lived and worked on the banks of the Rio Grande at the U.S. southern border for generations.

Bulldozers and other heavy machinery is now reportedly rolling into wildlife sanctuaries in South Texas' Rio Grande Valley and the National Butterfly Center in Mission, TX has filed a restraining order this week to stop them after, the Center charges, CPB broke into a fence on its private property, cut the lock, and replaced it with its own.

We're joined today by the Center's Director MARIANNA TREVINO-WRIGHT to explain the federal government's intrusions on their 100-acre butterfly refuge, wildlife center and native species botanical garden. The Center, part of the North American Butterfly Association (NABA), regards CPB's behavior as unlawful and unconstitutional according to a lawsuit "filed in December of 2017 as the result of the government's actions on our property in July of 2017, more than nine months before a Congressional vote, or any funding appropriation for 'border wall'," Trevino-Wright emphasizes.

We discuss, among other things, the 28 laws and environmental regulations --- "including the Solid Waste Disposal Act, the Clean air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act, and the Native American Religious Freedom Act" --- that the Department of Homeland Security has waived since Congress approved 33 miles of new border fencing in the area last year to allow construction of the barrier, and the federal government's use of Eminent Domain already underway to confiscate private lands for Trump's wall. Trevino-Wright details the devastation that awaits butterfly species, as well as other insects and native wildlife with the construction of the wall on the property of both the Center and the neighboring 91,000 acre Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

She says insects and animals will be "sentenced to death" thanks to flooding that will occur between the mighty Rio Grande River and the concrete base of the planned 30 foot wall where they will become trapped. Moreover, the accompanying LED "blitzkrieg all-night bright lighting every 150 feet on the wall, will result in catastrophe for sensitive nocturnal creatures and "lead to greater environmental damage". And, no, Trevino-Wright tells me, many butterflies and birds are not able to fly over a 36-foot concrete and steel barrier. She describes the wall as an "abomination", Trump's claims of an humanitarian and violent criminal "crisis" at the border to be nonsense, and why residents in the area are far more worried about criminals within law enforcement agencies than they are about those crossing the border unlawfully or ferrying drugs into the country. "Conflict or property damage or terrorist acts by those who support this agenda are actually what we're more concerned about," Trevino-Wright adds.

Please tune in for this full conversation.

Finally today, a surprise resignation in the Trump Administration as FEMA Director Brock Long calls it quits after facing two years of harassment from DHS chief Kirstjen Nielsen and unprecedented hurricanes, wildfires and other catastrophes, writing in his farewell letter to staffers that "no one could have ever predicted the challenges we would face." Our own Desi Doyen --- who has long been citing scientists predicting those very challenges for years, thanks to global warming --- offers a word or two in response...

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

* * *
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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MONTHLY BRAD BLOG SUBSCRIPTION
ONE-TIME DONATION


Choose monthly amount...


(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)




Guest: Inst. for Policy Studies' Chuck Collins; Also: SD moves to restrict early voting; Panelists at Davos take on the wealthy over tax avoidance...
By Brad Friedman on 2/1/2019 6:40pm PT  

On today's BradCast, after some quick news on the House Democrats' much-needed omnibus election and ethics reform bill (HR1) to expand voting rights and on elected South Dakota Republicans now working to restrict voting in the state, it's on to our main story today. [Audio link to complete show is posted below.]

"Someone has to explain, if our economy is doing so great, how come everyone is broke?," Bill Maher asked during a recent segment of HBO's Real Time in the middle of Trump's 35-day federal government shutdown over December and January. "To me, the real lesson of this government shutdown," he argued, "is that we found out that federal workers, quintessential middle-class jobs, can't afford to miss one paycheck!" He's right. Remarkable stories made their way into the media during the shutdown, about struggling furloughed federal workers, some of whom had been working for the same agencies for decades, forgoing medical care, at risk of losing their homes or being forced to use free food pantries after missing one single pay day.

The U.S. has been slashing taxes, largely for the wealthy and corporations, for decades now as middle-class wages have remained stagnant and poverty continues to grow in the richest nation on earth. That, even as the rich get obscenely richer and Americans are told we simply can't afford our existing social safety nets and government programs, much less expansions of them to include Medicare for All, a Green New Deal or free college tuition --- even though they are all wildly popular ideas. As Ernie Canning recently summarized: "81% of the electorate support a Green New Deal. 70% of all Americans --- including 52% of Republicans and 84% of Democrats --- support Medicare for All. Some 75% of Americans support tuition free college. 82% of Americans want the federal government to negotiate lower prescription drug prices. 59% support the Ocasio-Cortez proposal to raise the top marginal tax rate to 70%."

So, did the month long federal government shutdown teach us anything about how close most Americans are to the brink? Did our elected officials (ahem, Republicans) actually notice or care? This past week, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) and GOP Senators Chuck Grassley (IA) and John Thune (SD) introduced the "Death Tax Repeal Act of 2019" to do away all together with estate taxes for the very wealthy, even though, as our guest today points out in a recent Common Dreams column, the current estate tax applies to fewer than two dozen people in those three Senators' states combined. Racial inequality means that economic inequality is even worse for those who aren't white, begging the question as to why it is described as "economic anxiety" when white people are feeling squeezed, but dismissed as poverty and laziness from everyone else.

We're joined to discuss all of this today by author CHUCK COLLINS, an expert on U.S. inequality and the racial wealth divide at the Institute for Policy Studies. He is also co-editor of Inequality.org and a contributing columnist at many outlets.

Collins discusses how the inequality gaps have become so wide in the U.S.; why so many continue to support candidates for elected office who work against the economic interests of the poor and working class; how attitudes about race exacerbate the problem; and how we may finally be "heading into a re-alignment" with a new crop of progressive elected officials and a potential awakening of the American people after being conned for last 40 years.

"I think a lot of people were surprised about the percentage of people who live in poverty, and who live paycheck to paycheck," he tells me about lessons learned during the shutdown. "I think it was eye-opening and even empathy-producing. I think people silently suffer the economic insecurities that they experience and this was another shared moment where a lot of people were saying, 'Yeah, I don't have any savings, I have no cushion, I have to go to the food bank and I'm a median income worker.' So I think it opened a lot of eyes, and potentially some hearts and minds, as well."

"Forty years of stagnant wages has certainly hit a lot of white households," Collins explains. "There is a lot of rising insecurity, certainly coming out of the economic meltdown a decade ago. A lot of white families experienced a sort of shock and vulnerability and, I would say, kind of keeps us from being able to see the parallel experience of everyone else, and the fact that the racial inequalities are even deeper, and even more insecure. 37% of African-American households --- zero or negative wealth. 33% of Latino households --- underwater. So, yes, a lot of white people are feeling the pain, but a lot of people of all colors and all races are feeling that insecurity and pain."

"Why wouldn't we want to have a minimal safety net?," he asks rhetorically, in response to my questions about whether so many popular policy ideas to help close the inequality gaps and lift the poor and middle-class may finally being getting a foothold. "Why wouldn't we want to have a system of higher education that allows young people to go to college and graduate without tens of thousands of dollars in debt? It worked for the post-World War II generation. It worked for millions of people who got debt-free college and launched their lives and careers. Have we forgotten that entirely? There's a certain amnesia at work, as well --- that public investments and public support have made it possible for lots of people to move forward in their lives and have good lives. And we shouldn't forget that when it comes to the next generation."

"I think we're heading into a kind of realignment," Collins adds optimistically, underscoring some of his recent articles on the trillions in revenue that could be raised through Elizabeth Warren's proposal to tax the ultra-wealthy and Bernie Sanders' plan to increase not decrease the estate taxes on inheritances over $1 billion. "I think most people understand that these inequalities and insecurities are a dead end. They also are getting tired of hearing billionaires telling us what to do and how the economy should be organized, realizing that this corrosive corruption and concentration of wealth at the top is bad."

There is lots to dig into in today's full conversation with Collins.

Finally, we close today's show with some must-listen conversation from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where two members of a panel on income inequality (historian Rutger Bregman and Oxfam International's Winnie Byanyima) take on the millionaires and billionaires in attendance for their unwillingness to face "the real issue of tax avoidance and the rich not paying their fair share." They also take on an outraged challenge from an audience member (former CFO of Yahoo, Ken Goldman) which only seems to underscore the need to raise taxes on the wealthy in order to lift up the needy and struggling workers around the globe...

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Guest: The Intercept's Akela Lacy on Admin approval for religious discrimination; Also: Kushner was rejected for top secret clearance, but granted it anyway; Stone arrested and charged in Florida...
By Brad Friedman on 1/25/2019 6:39pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Why Donald Trump finally buckled in his demand for border wall funding and how the unprecedented government shutdown helped distract all of us from the Administration's new policy that endangers children by officially allowing blatant religious discrimination --- at least against religions other than Protestant. [Audio link to show follows below.]

On Friday, Trump caved. He finally agreed to reopen the federal government --- at least temporarily --- after five weeks and the longest shutdown in U.S. history. He pretended he'd made a "deal" with Democrats. In fact, he simply agreed to continue funding the government at its previous levels until February 15. He received zero dollars for his border wall in the bargain, while suggesting during bizarre, inaccurate and, at times, graphic remarks at the White House that, without some sort of "deal" for a wall, he would either shut the government down again in three weeks or declare a "national emergency" to take the money to build it from elsewhere.

There were many reasons Trump finally buckled today, including increasing anger from lawmakers in his own party, plummeting poll numbers, news that the IRS was in "panic mode" without enough workers as tax season begins, and flight delays up and down the Eastern Seaboard thanks to a shortage of Air Traffic Controllers, according to the FAA. But there were at least two stories that the Administration, no doubt, was eager to get off the front pages today and over the weekend.

One, a stunning report from NBC News Thursday night that Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner had been rejected for top secret clearance in 2017, for a host of reasons, by two career security professionals at the White House, only to have that security recommendation overruled (along with similar rejections for "at least 30" others!) and granted to him by a Trump appointee. Also, Trump's longtime supporter and dirty trickster Roger Stone --- who helped lead the "lock her up!" charge against Hillary Clinton with the release of hacked emails by WikiLeaks --- was arrested in Florida on Friday morning by FBI officials and charged with seven counts of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction of justice by a grand jury convened as part of Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe. Following the GOP's fake "outrage" about national security concerns related to Clinton's private email server, which Stone helped amplify, there's no small amount of irony here with his arrest on the heels of news that the Trump Administration appears to have forgone top level security concerns altogether in order to allow Kushner and others access to the nation's most closely guarded intelligence materials.

Trump's "deal" to temporarily reopen the government may have served to change the news cycle for a few hours, but it didn't endear him to Republican extremists like Ann Coulter, whose critiques late last year led Trump to break his agreement with lawmakers and demand $5.7 billion for a southern border wall resulting in the five week shutdown. Today she deried him as "the biggest wimp ever to serve as President."

While all of these nightmares have been unfolding in recent weeks, few noticed that the Trump Administration's Health and Human Services Department quietly approved a very controversial waiver to allow a Protestant South Carolina group called Miracle Hill Ministries to discriminate against Muslims, Jews, Catholics and atheists in the placement of foster care children. We're joined by criminal justice reporter AKELA LACY of The Intercept today to explain this very real and disturbing outrage which very few have noticed, and how the Administration's partnership with "Religious Right" Republicans under the guise of "religious freedom" is now officially sanctioning religious discrimination in the U.S.

"South Carolina is saying that the foster care statute in HHS rules and regulations does not specify religion as a characteristic on which they are not allowed to discriminate. They say that the foster care program statute says that agencies that receive federal funding can't deny parents based on race, color or national origin, but that because that statute does not specify religion, the request that Miracle Hill accept these families is outside of the law," Lacy tells me, noting that state law in South Carolina bars this sort of discrimination, as do federal non-discrimination laws that the Administration appears to be ignoring.

"The other really scary part of this," she notes, "is that, aside from these individual waivers, eighty Republican lawmakers signed a letter to the President in May asking for even further repeal of these federal protections against discrimination. So this is not just something that is being advocated for on a state-by-state basis. This is a quiet effort from the right to change these rules in the interests of mostly Christian organizations."

Describing a similar waiver request from Texas --- which also seeks to allow discrimination against LGBTQ families as well --- she says (real) advocates of religious freedoms and civil liberties fear the South Carolina precedent is likely now to spread to other states, other federal agencies, and other matters that reach well beyond foster care while much of the media continue to be distracted with the ongoing Trump chaos...

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Trump paid Cohen to rig online polling; Giuliani moves the Russia goal posts (again); President throws tantrum at Pelosi; Government shutdown taking toll; And why Ocasio-Cortez is joyfully freaking out the GOP...
By Brad Friedman on 1/17/2019 6:26pm PT  

The federal government continue to spiral towards utter dysfunction under a President on the precipice of (take your pick). But one freshman Congresswoman provides a bit of a light at the end of the Trump tunnel. [Audio link to today's complete BradCast is posted below.]

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

  • Donald Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen admits he paid a guy from Jerry Falwell Jr.'s Liberty University to rig online polls for Trump before he announced his candidacy in 2015. That, as Cohen is reportedly reconsidering his decision to testify to Congress next month in advance of his three year prison sentence, due to threats (witness tampering? intimidation?) by the President against him and his family. Trump failed to report the $50,000 payoff to rig polls to the FEC, which is yet another potential federal felony and/or article of impeachment for the sitting President. While the story should surprise no one at this point (remember, he also paid extras to cheer him on while announcing his candidacy at Trump Tower that year), its somehow still stunning and disturbing as yet another indication of just what Trump was likely willing to do, at any cost, to win in 2016;
  • Speaking of what Trump and his campaign were willing to do, his new personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, may have broken the Internet after his appearance on CNN Wednesday night, in which he moved the "collusion" goal posts by falsely claiming that neither he nor the President ever claimed his campaign --- if not Trump himself --- "colluded" with Russia. In fact, contrary to Giuliani's ridiculous assertions, both men claimed repeatedly that nobody on the Trump Campaign was involved in such an activity. As of Wednesday night, it seems, Trump's lawyer is officially backing off that claim on behalf of the President...for some reason;
  • Reverberations and consequences of Trump's nearly-month long federal government shutdown continue. As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a Congressional delegation were preparing to leave today for a secret trip to visit U.S. troops in Afghanistan, Trump, in retribution for Pelosi's threat to postpone his scheduled State of the Union Address during the shutdown, rescinded permission for the use of a military plane set to take Pelosi and the others on the overseas trip. You'll also be shocked to hear he lied about it all too;
  • Meanwhile, as more Congressional Republicans --- and even a top former Administration official --- are questioning the wisdom of shutting down the federal government over Trump's demand for $5.7 billion to begin building his southern border wall, senior citizens and people with disabilities are facing the threat of potential eviction in HUD and USDA subsidized housing across the country;
  • At the same time, the Administration is calling some 50,000 furloughed federal employees back to work without pay at agencies such as the FDA, FAA, and at the IRS as tax season begins;
  • But, speaking of taxes, there is a reason that Republicans are freaking out --- and lying --- about the recent proposal floated by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) to raise the nation's top tax bracket to 70% on those earning more than $10 million: the proposal is wildly popular --- by double-digit margins --- across virtually every demographic and every area of the country. Thus, folks like Wisconsin's failed former GOP Gov. Scott Walker was out bragging on social media this week about lying to school children about how AOC's proposal would actually work, who would and wouldn't be affected by it, and by how much;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as Dems grill the Administration's new nominee/coal lobbyists tapped to head an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) where pollution prosecutions have plummeted since Trump took office, while Australia faces yet another record heat wave, and as the business world slowly begins waking up to the mounting threat of climate change...

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Federal closures having real effects (but not on Trump's business); RBG absent at SCOTUS; High Court rejects Exxon; AOC floats tax increase, GOP freaks out; Callers ring in on Democratic majority priorities...
By Brad Friedman on 1/7/2019 6:10pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Desi and I are back after the holidays --- and to end the shutdown! You're welcome! There's a LOT of news to catch up on as Democrats officially settle in to their new U.S. House majority with the federal government remaining partially closed thanks to Donald Trump's new demand for $5 billion in tax-payer money (not Mexico's) to fund his southern border wall. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The federal shutdown is beginning to cause very real and negative effects across the country, particularly at our national parks and monuments and, if it goes on much longer, in food assistance to the poor. Oddly enough, National Park Service rangers are still deployed to one historic site in D.C. --- the one that happens to be inside the Old Post Office building....which is now the Trump International Hotel.

Meanwhile, Trump has announced plans for a prime-time speech to the nation on Tuesday night to address his pretend "National Security crisis on our Southern Border" and is requesting airtime for it from the national TV networks. However, while Trump is standing firm on his demand for some $5 billion to fund his border wall, (and Dems are standing equally firm in not giving it to him), his very own proposed budget plan for 2019 [PDF], as given to Congress last year, requested just $1.6 billion for the wall. (Seriously, open on the PDF and click on the section for the Dept. of Homeland Security, where it details the Admin's 2019 request: "Critical investments include $1.6 billion for construction of the border wall.") That's almost exactly what the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate voted to give him last year, which Trump agreed to...before criticism from Righwing media led him to increase his demand two weeks ago.

So, it's left to me, I guess, to explain how Democrats should give Trump exactly what he asked for in that proposal last year --- as written by Office of Management and Budget chief and now Trump's Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney --- in order to solve the very real shutdown crisis.

Also, among the many other stories covered on today's show:

  • For the first time in her career as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, recuperating from cancer surgery, was not present for oral argument at SCOTUS on Monday.
  • In better SCOTUS news, the Court rejected ExxonMobil's plea to save them from an investigation by the Massachusetts Attorney General into the oil giant's decades of apparent fraud regarding climate change.
  • Over the weekend, newly-minted progressive Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called for restoring the 70 percent income tax rate for the lucky few earning more than $10 million a year, in order to help fund a 'Green New Deal' to save the planet. Republicans, predictably, are both freaking out and lying about her proposal.

And, finally, we open up the phone lines to callers on all of the above and much more, including what listeners hope to see Democrats take on as their top priorities in the new Congress...

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Guest hosted by Angie Coiro, with wisdom from historian Adam Hochschild; Abortion rights update; John Roberts vs. Donald Trump; Saudi Arabia torture reports; urban housing insights, and more!...
By Angie Coiro on 11/21/2018 6:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast, I'm in for Brad today --- Angie Coiro, host of In Deep with Angie Coiro.

Quite the contrast between all the news Brad and Desi had to fit in yesterday, and the relatively quiet developments today; everyone's hitting the road. Except Donald, who's hitting Twitter, and SCOTUS chief John Roberts, who's hitting back.

We start with a round-up of news, including three abortion stories (yes, politicians in Ohio want you dead if you get or give an abortion); three tales of adults adulting, even in DC; and a story out of Saudi Arabia that makes it even more astounding that Trump loves the Crown Prince (and Saudi-tied profits) so dearly. Plus a look at Robert Reich's antitrust take on Facebook, Google, and Amazon.

Then long-time historian/journalist ADAM HOCHSCHILD discusses his book, Lessons from a Dark Time --- a collection of his work from over the decades. (A warning here for those who are sensitive to sexual assault discussions, as that does come up.) We talk about prison reform, redefining gun issues, and how far the Nazi Germany metaphor might play out in the US.

Housing activist and journalist RANDY SHAW has a book, too, and it has an unusual take on the urban housing crisis: it's a generational thing. Generation Priced Out documents his investigations in twelve major US cities, seeking both factors and fixes. In addition to the more universally-recognized culprits, he sees a less-discussed one: Baby Boomer resistance to housing the next generations.

And at the very tail end of the hour, a little something to make you smile --- to get you into the Thanksgiving spirit of gratitude. I'll let you check it out for yourself.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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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...

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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...

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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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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...

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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...

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

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