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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, November 14, 2018
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: Stuart Naifeh of Demos; Also: 500k disenfranchised voters in AZ?; Trump says he's quitting NAFTA; DNC scraps 'SuperDelegates'; U.S. Govt student loan ombudsman quits in disgust; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 8/27/2018 6:30pm PT  

Lots of news (for a change?) on today's BradCast after a tremendously busy news weekend (for a change?) [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

Among the stories covered on today's program: In a fairly transparent attempt to distract from all of his Administration's --- and his own personal --- scandals, Donald Trump announed today that he plans to pull the U.S. out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, and is striking a new trade agreement with Mexico only. We caution to be very aware of that claim.

Then, we're joined by STUART NAIFEH, Senior Counsel at Demos to discuss the lawsuit recently filed by his group and a number of Hispanic-American organizations against 32 counties in the state of Florida. Following last year's catastrophic Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, more than 133,000 U.S. citizens living on the island relocated to the Continental U.S., according to the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, which estimates [PDF] more than 54,000 of them now live in Florida. These U.S. Citizens, many of whom speak Spanish only, can now re-register and vote in the state, but the counties named in the lawsuit make election materials available in English only, in violation, the groups argue, of Section4(e) of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The groups are suing to force those counties to produce election materials in Spanish before the November 2018 midterms and argue that the English-only procedures have led to lower than expected registration by these potential voters in the Sunshine State. Naifeh says this has been a longstanding issue in Florida, but even more of an issue since Maria, since there are suddenly "a lot of people coming all at once with limited English," he says.

Naifeh also explains another lawsuit just filed by the group against the state of Arizona, where the Secretary of State is not properly re-registering voters who have changed their addresses on their drivers licenses through the DMV. That, he argues, means that some 500,000 registered voters, whose registrations should be automatically moved, may find themselves unable to vote or will have their provisional ballots tossed out this November, because "Arizona has been systematically failing to update voting addresses," as required by 1993's National Voter Registration Act. Voters in both states --- Florida and Arizona --- are heading to the polls on Tuesday for their state's midterm primary elections.

Then, some breaking news out of North Carolina, where a federal court panel has found the state's U.S. House Districts to be an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. That, after the federal courts found the previous maps were unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. The court may order new maps to be redrawn in advance of the November election! If they do, and if the U.S. Supreme Court is deadlocked 4 to 4 on an emergency appeal by the state before a new Justice is seated, then the lower court's order to use new maps for the November 6th election would stand!

Next, over the weekend, the DNC voted to change their bylaws to restrict the role of so-called SuperDelegates (party insiders, activists and elected officials) in the nominating process for Presidential candidates. Under the new scheme, adopted by an overwhelming voice vote at the weekend's annual Summer meeting in Chicago, SuperDelegates would have no vote for the party's Presidential nominee on the first ballot at the Democratic National Convention, leaving the selection of the nominee (if he or she can get a majority on the first ballot) up to state primary and caucus voters, rather than party insiders, before the Convention.

Also today, the Government's student loan ombudsman at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has resigned, charging in a scathing resignation letter that the Trump Administration is using the Bureau "to serve the wishes of the most powerful financial companies in America" by allowing private for-profit colleges, universities and student loan companies to run roughshod over American families, despite mandates from Congress to end the decades-long ripoffs by such companies.

Finally, we open up the phone lines today to calls on all of the above!...

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

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Guest: Trial attorney Sophia Lin Lakin of ACLU's Voting Rights Project; Also: Trump's border 'crisis' worsens for Republicans...
By Brad Friedman on 6/19/2018 6:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast: GOPers in D.C. try to overcome Trump's wildly unpopular new border policy and Kansas' Secretary of State loses again in court and faces what may be his most humiliating moment to date. But that's very good news for voters! [Audio link to program is posted below.]

First up, the panic for Republicans on Capitol Hill continued to mount on Tuesday as GOP lawmakers scrambled to find a legislative way out of the family separation crisis created by Donald Trump at the southern border, where more than 2,300 children have now been separated from their parents since his "zero tolerance" policy was first implemented just two months ago. Also today, the Administration announced their intention to pull the U.S. out of the U.N. Human Rights Council the day after its outgoing head blasted the United State's new border policy as "unconscionable" for "inflicting such abuse on children". We discuss the latest on all of the above.

Then, after a quick recap of the 8-year ignominious history of Kansas Sec. of State Kris Kobach's inglorious tenure as the nation's top elected GOP "voter fraud" fraudster, we're joined by attorney SOPHIA LIN LAKIN of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, to discuss Kobach's latest brutal humiliation. In a victory for the state's voters on Monday, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson (a George W. Bush appointee), struck down Kobach's extreme "Proof of Citizenship" voter registration law, finding it in violation of the National Voter Registration Act and the Constitution.

The KS Sec. of State has repeatedly defended the law in court, and has been defeated in virtually every battle over it for years, since persuading the state legislature to adopt the measure. But Robinson's ruling on Monday permanently enjoins the law, which had kept tens of thousands of legitimate state registrants in various forms of electoral limbo as Kobach continued to insist their was a massive (if, apparently invisible) epidemic of non-citizen voters jeopardizing the integrity of KS elections.

Kobach, who originally ran for office in 2010 almost solely on the false and misleading promise to "STOP VOTER FRAUD" in Kansas, has failed to find virtually any such fraud during his eight years in office. As Lakin, a member of the ACLU's trial team explains today, during the trial earlier this year, wherein Kobach chose to represented himself and his state, he was unable to show evidence of almost any non-citizen registrations or votes cast in Kansas, despite millions of legal ballots cast during the same period.

"From 1999 to 2013," she tells me, "Kobach was able to present just 39 confirmed non-citizens who were able to successfully get on the rolls, and of those 39, only 11 voted." Most of the registrations, she explains --- as did the judge in her 118-page ruling [PDF] --- were due to administrative errors.

"The judge pretty much agreed that Kris Kobach has been peddling a xenophobic lie that non-citizens are engaging in rampant election fraud. And this was his chance. This court battle that we just had was his chance to put on the record his evidence that this is what was happening. The judge saw that evidence, and she agreed that there was very little evidence of non-citizen voting in Kansas --- certainly not enough to justify the tens of thousands of individuals that have been disenfranchised by that requirement."

"The judge very much wanted Kris Kobach to have his day in court, to put his evidence of non-citizen voting to the test, to see what he was able to actually muster," Lakin tells me. "We even re-opened discovery for the very purpose of him doing that. So, the proof is in the pudding here. He utterly failed."

Of course, Kobach has vowed to appeal the ruling, as he does. But, aside from the verdict's very good news for voters, there was another extraordinary aspect to Robinson's ruling on Monday. In what amounted to a third set of judicial sanctions against him during the long course of the 2016 case and this year's full bench trial, Judge Robinson admonished Kobach in a newly humiliating way. After previously sanctioning him to pay some $50,000 in ACLU legal bills, due to his contempt in having misled the court, Robinson ordered Kobach to attend 6 hours of law school to study up on federal and state courtroom procedures!

Lakin details how, during the trial, the judge repeatedly --- and embarrassingly --- was forced to explain basic rules of evidence and other standard courtroom procedures to Kobach.

"Judge Robinson essentially ordered Kobach to go back to school" in her ruling, she says, explaining that Kobach's performance in the courtroom and repeated reprimands from the judge were likely even worse than the clownshow that the media reported them as, at the time. When I asked how unusual these type of sanctions are against a trial lawyer, she says: "To be honest, I don't think I've ever seen so many sanction rulings against an attorney at all," much less one where they were ordered to attend legal classes.

And, as if that wasn't enough, the ACLU launched yet another lawsuit today against Kris Kobach, this time over his so-called "Crosscheck" system to help (inaccurately) purge voting rolls in some 26 states.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as Trump's tariffs against China blow back on the U.S. energy industry, his EPA's gutting of regulations threatens tens of thousands of lives, global warming is making hurricane damage far worse and housing prices fall, and as McDonald's finally plans to do away with single-use plastic straws...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Also: Stolen SCOTUS approves OH's radical vote purge scheme; L.A. County won't rule out hacking in primary election 'print error' that left 118k off Election Day rolls; Callers ring in on all of the above...
By Brad Friedman on 6/11/2018 6:10pm PT  

The crazy train continues. And gets crazier. Among the stories covered on today's BradCast. [Audio link to show follows below.]...

  • The stolen Republican 5 to 4 majority [PDF] on the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday found in favor of Ohio's radical voter purge scheme that begins to remove voters from the rolls for failing to vote in one single federal election, in what voting rights advocates (and the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals) found to be a direct violation of the National Voter Registration Act. According to a 2016 Reuters analysis, the scheme resulted in 144,000 voters being removed from the rolls in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus alone, and affected voters in Democratic-leaning neighborhoods at roughly twice the rate as in Republican neighborhoods. Other GOP-controlled states are now believed likely to adopt similar voter purge schemes;
  • The Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters says he cannot yet rule out hacking as the cause for 118,000 voters being left off the printed rosters at the polls during last week's midterm primaries in California. Registrar Dean Logan has announced that an independent analyst will be hired to try and determine why it happened and how to prevent an even worse disaster this November;
  • Seemingly bowing to public pressure, The Trump Administration's Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson has now said he plans to back off his proposed scheme to increase rents by more than 20% per year on more than 8 million low-income Americans --- including millions of children, elderly and the disabled --- who live in federally subsidized housing for the working poor; (Our guest on this topic last week, former Obama HUD official Diane Yentel, warns that pieces of this proposal may find its way into other legislation being moved by Congressional Republicans to gut the social safety net for the poor.);
  • Then, on to the crazy train: Trump arrived late and left early from the Group of Seven (G7) summit with our top allies on Saturday, pulled the U.S. off of the G7's traditional summit-ending communiqué, which he'd previously agreed to, and then turned against mild-mannered Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for daring to keep his promise to respond (as he'd previously announced) to Trump's trade tariffs imposed on imported steel and aluminum from Canada and other close allies last week. In turn, Larry Kudlow, Trump's top economic adviser, took to the Sunday news shows to describe Canada's response as a "betrayal" and his top trade adviser, Peter Navarro went on to charge there was a "special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad diplomacy with president Donald J. Trump.";
  • All of which served as a precursor for Trump's historic summit set for Tuesday in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. On Monday, Trump announced he planned to leave that summit --- with the potential denuclearization of North Korea and an end to the 70-year old conflict between the North and the South on the table --- early as well. What could possibly go wrong? And how bad does this all get before it gets better?

Callers ring in on all of the above on today's busy BradCast, focusing on the election failure last week in Los Angeles, and how Trump is likely to try and use the results from Singapore, whatever they may be, to his political advantage...accurately, dishonestly, or otherwise...

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

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Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern on 'having cake and eating it too'; Also: Probs for voters in CA and SD, as eight states hold primaries...
By Brad Friedman on 6/5/2018 6:05pm PT  

On today's BradCast: As voters head to the polls in eight states (CA, AL, IA, MS, MT, NJ, NM and SD) on Tuesday, we cover a few "sorta victories" elsewhere for now, including at the U.S. Supreme Court. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Reports of problems at the polls have already cropped up, however, in South Dakota, where electronic pollbooks failed in eight counties, and here in Los Angeles, where a "random issue with the print job" on paper rosters at polling places, according to the County Clerk, has led to some voters needing to cast provisional ballots.

As we await election results and likely reports of more problems elsewhere, a "sorta victory" for Twitter users who had sued the President after he blocked them on Twitter. Those seven plaintiffs were finally unblocked by Trump after a federal court found last month that he was violating their Constitutional First Amendment free speech rights. But, on the same day those seven were unblocked, the Dept. of Justice appealed the court's ruling anyway.

In Alabama, another "sorta victory" as the story of Sec. of State John Merrill blocking folks on Twitter for pointing out his errors as the state's top election official, has finally been picked up by the corporate media in the state. That, just hours before voters headed to the polls, with Merrill himself on the ballot. The coverage comes after we first reported on Merrill's behavior months ago (when he blocked me for being right about the state's computerized election tabulators), and again last week after he sent me a flurry of insane emails [PDF] in response to a simple query as to whether he planned to unblock followers now that a federal court has found his behavior to be in violation of the U.S. Constitution. The Montgomery Advertiser's weak coverage, however, largely serves to offer the Sec. of State a platform to call election experts and journalists "trolls" (for being correct and polite), while still refusing to unblock them.

In Arizona, a lawsuit against the state for keeping tens of thousands of registered voters off the rolls for failing to provide "proof of citizenship" before being allowed to vote has now been settled with a consent decree that will enfranchise many voters, even if it will still result in thousands being disallowed from voting in state and local contests. So, a "sorta victory" there as well.

And, at the U.S. Supreme Court this week, a "sorta victory" for both anti-gay bigots and civil rights advocates as the long-awaited ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. CO Civil Rights Commission, a case involving a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple's wedding reception is finally decided by a narrow 7 to 2 ruling in favor of the baker...sorta.

Slate legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN joins us to explain how Justice Anthony Kennedy, with his majority opinion. tries to "have his cake and eat it too," by largely kicking the can down the road for another day, while ostensibly siding with the baker against the state Commission on rather dubious religious freedom grounds.

The decision, however, also appears to strengthen the existing right of states to bar discrimination by similar businesses on the basis of sexual orientation. So much so, that, under the ruling, the two plaintiffs, according to their ACLU attorney, should be able to walk into Jack Phillip's Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, CO today and purchase a cake for their wedding anniversary, if they wished. If they are blocked, that would be in violation of the Constitution. Nonetheless, a definitive opinion from SCOTUS on the issue of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation will have to wait for another day.

"If the Supreme Court applied the same standard to the [Trump] travel ban case as they have applied to Masterpiece, the Court would have no trouble striking down the travel ban as a violation of First Amendment religious freedoms," Stern tells me, when I ask whether Kennedy's weak religious liberty argument here may apply more to some religions than others. "Unfortunately, I do not think the court is going to be consistent. I think, instead, the Court's going to wind up applying a much stricter standard when it's Christians' rights on the line, than when it's Muslims' rights on the line. And we're all going to be very disappointed in this kind of inconsistent religious liberty --- 'for me, but not for thee.'"

Stern offers smart insight on the Court's opinion(s) --- which were widely misreported elsewhere on Monday --- as well as another decision this week from the Court on the Trump Administration's failed attempt to punish the ACLU for supporting a teen immigrant who sought a lawful abortion after being detained at the border. That ruling, at least, was a complete victory, he explains, not just a "sorta" one.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with news on two deadly volcanoes in Guatemala and Hawaii, the Administration's new scheme to bail-out the coal industry, Canada's new scheme to nationalize a controversial pipeline, and more distressing fossil fuel and climate change news...

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: Alex Doukas of Oil Change Int'l; Also: Trump's trade war, Bad news for CA Repubs, Bad news for TX voters, listeners aghast at AL Sec. of State's crazy emails...
By Brad Friedman on 6/1/2018 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Both Trump in the U.S. and Trudeau in Canada have revealed schemes to prop up dying elements of the fossil fuel industry by having their respective governments spend billions "picking winners and losers," which Republicans, at least, used to pretend to abhor. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, however, just before Tuesday's primaries in eight states, one of them, California, announces record voter registration numbers including the fact that, for the first time, registrations for "No Party Preference" voters now outnumber registration for the Republican Party in the state.

As California has made registration far easier for voters in a number of ways, Texas continues to do the opposite. A federal court last week found the state in violation of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA or "Motor Voter Act") as well as the Constitution's Equal Protection clause, and ordered them to implement online voter registration for those who renew drivers licenses online within 45 days. Of course, TX appealed the ruling to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has now temporarily blocked the lower court ruling. That is likely to block online registration for Texans until at least after the crucial 2018 midterms, as the case filed by voting rights advocates in 2016 continues to languish.

Also today, Donald Trump has managed to infuriate allies, adversaries, and even his own party, as longtime U.S. trading partners Canada, Mexico and the EU began to push back against steep tariffs imposed, as of today, by the Trump Administration on imported steel and aluminum. In response, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, for example, has announced a dollar for dollar retaliation in what is quickly turning into a full blown global trade war, likely to increase prices for Americans on many consumer goods.

At the same time, a new scheme by the Trump administration to pick winners and losers in the energy industry, by forcing electric operators to use coal and nuclear power under the pretext of a 70-year old, Cold War-era "national security" provision, was revealed today by Bloomberg News.

And, up in Canada, PM Trudeau is facing criticism after announcing his government's plan to purchase the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline from Kinder Morgan. A massive extension of the pipeline, to send dirty tar sands oils from Alberta to British Columbia for export overseas, has been long opposed by environmentalists and indigenous groups. But Trudeau's nationalization of the pipeline is meant to overcome both the protests and legal barriers.

Our guest today, ALEX DOUKAS of Oil Change International (a Canadian himself) explains what "these egregious and terrible decisions that Trump and Trudeau have taken over the last few days" mean for the U.S., Canada, and our dangerous fossil fuel future. Doukas heads up the group's Stop Funding Fossil Fuels program and observes that Trump is "setting up consumers to pay vastly more for more polluting forms of electricity, just to give handouts to his corporate cronies and his buddies in the coal industry."

That, as Trudeau, who claims to favor the reduction of fossil fuel emissions to curb global warming, has, with his plan to purchase what Doukas describes as the "doomed" Kinder Morgan pipeline, "gives the lie to the idea that the Trudeau Government is really serious about tackling climate change."

Trump and Trudeau, Doukas argues, are "actually a lot more alike than I would have hoped, because they're both willing to step in and nationalize parts of the fossil fuel industry to keep the dollars flowing to the petro-state." He adds: "Pretending that the tar sands is a long term industry, is the same thing that's happening in the U.S. --- lying to coal miners that coal is going to make a comeback, that we're going to make coal great again. It's not going to happen."

But, while he argues that Kinder Morgan, the Houston-based "successor of Enron," has "basically pulled one over on the Canadian government for a failing project they they knew wasn't going to get built," establishing the precedent of government intervention in the dying industries may come back to haunt the supporters of the petro-chemical industries in both countries.

Finally, we've received a lot of feedback following Thursday's program, in which we shared some of the insane emails [PDF] sent over the past week to me by Alabama's seemingly unbalanced Sec. of State John Merrill (R) in advance of his state's (and his own) primary elections next week. We share a bit of the response from listeners, computer experts and election integrity advocates who were, by and large, flabbergasted by Merrill's behavior, as revealed in those emails...

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Guest: ACLU Ohio legal director Freda Levenson: Also: Hurricane Maria 70x more deadly than believed and 2018 storm season already deadly...
By Brad Friedman on 5/29/2018 6:19pm PT  

Among the stories covered on today's post-Memorial Day weekend BradCast. [Audio link to show is posted below]...

First up, some accountability news. Missouri Governor Eric Greitens (R) finally announces his resignation, after two separate indictments (one related to allegedly blackmailing a woman he has admitted to having had an affair with, and the other for unlawfully using a veterans charity contact list during his 2016 run for Governor) and after the GOP-majority legislature convened an historic special session to consider his impeachment.

Also, hit ABC sitcom reboot Roseanne is cancelled just hours after its titular star tweeted a racist comment about a longtime friend and adviser to former President Obama.

Then, why at least some of Trump's obnoxious, inaccurate, and sometimes dangerous tweets actually matter (as much as we try to avoid them). A new poll finds alarming numbers of Republicans (and, yes, Democrats!) actually buy the President's evidence-free claims that as many as 5 million fraudulent votes were cast in the 2016 Presidential election, as his new --- and similarly evidence-free --- tweets targeting Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe now claim the investigation is "rigged" and is meant for "MEDDLING with the mid-term elections now that Republicans...are taking the lead in Polls".

In fact, while there is no evidence that Mueller's probe is "rigged" or that he is "meddling" in the mid-terms, Republicans are now said to be nearly tied or even taking the lead in some generic U.S. House polling on the heels of Trump's increasingly strident and inaccurate Twitter torrent. (Here, however, is a more skeptical look at those numbers.)

Nonetheless, many Democrats still seem very confident that a "blue wave" is in the making to flip one or both chambers of Congress from GOP control this November in response to Trump, as suggested by a surge in Democratic turnout during the 2018 primaries. It should be noted, however, that there are also signs that GOP turnout is increasing as well.

All of that is before the usual GOP voter suppression kicks into high gear. To that end today, the lawsuits have begun already. Last week, a suit was filed by the League of Women Voters and others against Florida's Republican Gov. Rick Scott and his hand-picked Sec. of State Ken Detzner's refusal to allow early voting centers at public universities.

And, in Ohio, the ACLU has now filed suit against the state's Republican drawn U.S. House districts, charging that the maps, drawn up in secret by the national GOP after the 2010 Census, violate the U.S. Constitution as an extreme partisan gerrymander.

We're joined by ACLU Ohio's Legal Director FREDA LEVENSON, who explains the case, why it's taken so long to be filed after resulting in 12 GOP U.S. House members to the Democrats' 4 over each of the last three elections in the swing-state, and how related cases from other states, now pending decisions at the U.S. Supreme Court, may effect this one.

Levenson also updates us on another case awaiting a decision any day from SCOTUS, regarding Ohio Sec. of State Jon Husted (R)'s attempt to purge voters from the roles after failing to vote in two consecutive federal elections. She explains why the ACLU sees that as a violation of the National Voter Registration Act (NRVA) and how SCOTUS' ultimate decision in this case could result in similar mass voter purges being carried out in states across the country.

Finally today, a new scientific study finds that some 5,000 Puerto Ricans may have been killed by Hurricane Maria, rather than the 64 officially attributed to it, and Desi Doyen joins us with troubling details on deadly storms and flooding in Maryland and North Carolina over the holiday weekend, as subtropical storm Alberto, the first named storm of the new Atlantic hurricane season, rolls ashore days before the new season even officially begins...

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: EPA blocks mainstream media outlets, forcibly removes reporter, from water contamination event...
By Brad Friedman on 5/22/2018 6:15pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A host of important and troubling news items that you're probably not hearing much about as the corporate media continue their seemingly non-stop focus on investigations into massive Trump corruption. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First, a disturbing move by the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday suggests a very dark moment for American democracy as reporters from AP, CNN and elsewhere were blocked from attending a water contamination event held EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. One AP journalist is said to have been "forcibly removed" from the building. That, just about one week after reports that the Trump Administration is blocking the publication of a major new report finding widespread water contamination across the country. That study is reportedly being withheld because the Administration believes it would be a "public relations nightmare" for the chemical companies involved, if it was released.

Meanwhile, a federal court on Monday found Texas in violation of both the U.S. Constitution and the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) for refusing to allow residents who update their drivers license online to register to vote at the same time, as required by the 1993 law. The Republican-controlled state appealed the ruling to the rightwing U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals just minutes after it was issued by the U.S. District Court judge, all but assuring the case, originally filed in 2016, will continue beyond this November's mid-terms.

And, speaking of Republicans who don't want certain people to vote, in Florida, John Ward, a GOP candidate for the U.S. House, was caught on videotape arguing that U.S. citizens from Puerto Rico who moved to the Sunshine State following the devastation of Hurricanes Maria and Irma last year, should not be allowed to register to vote in Florida and should go back "where they belong".

Next, we're joined by Slate's fantastic legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN to offer clarity on two disturbing, and very important cases this week.

The first is the story of a 24-year old DACA recipient from Seattle who was brought here by his father when he was five years old and detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency last year just after Trump took office. Daniel Ramirez Medina, a "Dreamer" with no criminal record, legally working in the U.S. after twice receiving protected status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, was arrested by ICE in February of 2017 when they went to his house to detain his father. ICE subsequently booked Ramirez, lied about him --- blatantly doctoring a document to make it appear Ramirez admitted to being a member of a non-existent gang (he never was) --- in order to remove his protection and begin deportation proceedings.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez, a George W. Bush appointee, found that ICE repeatedly lied about Ramirez and to the court about their evidence against him. "Judge Martinez is no flaming liberal, but he looked at the evidence before him, and he was clearly disgusted and incensed by what the agency had done," says Stern.

He describes how Ramirez was saved, for now, only due to his protected status under the Obama-era DACA program, which Trump continues to try to kill. "The only reason that this story rose to the top, and that it actually got before a federal judge who could rule on it, is because this guy is lucky enough to have DACA status. So he had this extra layer of protection that most undocumented immigrants don't have." Unfortunately, the dishonest tactics ICE attempted to use against Ramirez are usually successful, Stern says, explaining, "ICE agents do this all the time".

Then, we turn to an outrageous 5 to 4 decision by the stolen, rightwing U.S. Supreme Court this week that demolished the clear, statutory right established by decades-old New Deal-era labor reforms, allowing employees to file collective class-action lawsuits against their employers for wage theft.

As Stern explains, Monday's hypocritical and legally erroneous majority opinion in Epic Systems v. Lewis [PDF], written by the corrupt, self-proclaimed "textualist" Justice Neil Gorsuch (who occupies the seat stolen for him by the GOP Senate after Antonin Scalia's death in early 2016), was blasted by a furious Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her minority opinion, as the ruling, according to Stern, "effectively legalizes low-level wage theft" and is "nothing less than catastrophic for workers across the country."

It's really even worse than you may have heard --- if you even heard anything about it. But, Sterns adds with a glimmer of hope, the law in question that was blatantly misinterpreted by Gorsuch's judicial activism could very easily be amended for clarity in order to reverse this SCOTUS decision. The fix, however, would likely require a Democratic Congress and a cooperative President.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with some insane new climate denialism by Republicans on the U.S. House Science Committee, and some much more encouraging news on several other related fronts from Britain to San Francisco to China...

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Guest: West Virginia's Bob Kincaid; Also: McConnell says no to protecting Mueller, Mattis got Trumped on Syria, Kobach found in contempt (again) in KS, and Cuomo expands voting rights in NY...
By Brad Friedman on 4/18/2018 6:44pm PT  

Yes, my guest argues on today's BradCast, West Virginia Republicans may very well nominate a man just out of jail on charges related to the deaths of 29 coal miners to be their nominee for the U.S. Senate this year. [Audio link to show is posted below below.]

But, before we head down to Coal County for that conversation today, a few news headlines...Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is vowing to prevent a bi-partisan proposal for protecting Special Counsel Robert Mueller from being fired by Donald Trump, from coming to the Senate floor for a full vote, even if, as now appears likely, the bill is approved by the GOP-lead Senate Judiciary Committee.

The notoriously obstructionist McConnell also appears ready to block any new Congressional military Authorization for the Use of Force --- as currently being considered in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee --- citing, along with GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan, the AUMFs from 2001 and 2002, for authorization of war against al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Iraq after 9/11, as valid enough approval for Trump to bomb Syria, however he sees fit. Speaking of which, the NYTimes is reporting that Defense Secretary James Mattis had tried to insist that Trump obtain Congressional authorization before attacking Syria last week, but was overruled by the President.

Meanwhile, in Kansas today, a federal judge found GOP Sec. of State Kris Kobach in contempt of court, amidst the long-watched ACLU cases challenging a state law he'd championed, which has kept thousands of otherwise valid voters off the rolls for failing to provide proof of citizenship documents to the state. Kobach, one of the nation's leading Republican "voter fraud" fraudsters, was slapped by the George W. Bush-appointed federal judge in her ruling [PDF] and ordered to pay the ACLU's legal fees for the contempt hearing. This is the second time that Kobach, now a candidate for the 2018 Republican nomination for Governor in Kansas, has been found in contempt.

Also today, in more good news for voters, New York's Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, facing a primary challenge from progressive actress and activist Cynthia Nixon, announced a plan to immediately restore voting rights to some 35,000 parolees by executive order.

Then, we're joined by West Virginia's own BOB KINCAID, the always-colorful, long-time radio host and President of West Virginia's Coal River Mountain Watch, to discuss the remarkable re-emergence of disgraced coal baron Don Blankenship, the former Massey Energy CEO who was released from prison last year following a one-year sentence for his involvement in safety violations at the company's Upper Big Branch Mine, where an explosion killed 29 workers in 2010.

Blankenship, to the supposed horror of establishment GOPers, is running for the party's nomination for the U.S. Senate in the state's May 8th primary, in hopes of taking on incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. Remarkably, Blankenship's fortunes appear to be rising, just three weeks out from a contest against a number of very Trumpy primary opponents. That has now forced the national GOPers to form a "local" PAC to purchase ads that take on Blankenship by pretending to be against Massey's coal-related pollution of drinking water in the state. In return, Blankenship is now firing back at his former ally Mitch McConnell.

"It's all swamp," Kincaid says. "Don Blankenship is the ultimate swamp. If McConnell is a swamp Captain, then Don Blankenship is a swamp Field Marshal. Remember, [McConnell] got behind a Supreme Court candidate in this state some years back solely so that he could protect Massey Energy from a jury verdict that they deserved --- trying to make sure that verdict would be overturned once it got to the [state] Supreme Court. That's swampy behavior if anything is."

Kincaid details the once-wildly powerful Blankenship's deadly background and the contours of the now-bizarre race --- which is beginning to echo Roy Moore's disastrous GOP run for the U.S. Senate in Alabama last December --- in a state where Trump won by some 40 points in 2016 and the conservative Manchin is considered to be amongst the most vulnerable Democratic Senators up for re-election this year.

"They really don't know quite what to do with him because, frankly, Don Blankenship doesn't give a damn. He has that in common with Geezer Disgustus over in the White House. It seems like everything just bounces of off him. Mainly because he can just push it off to one side, he can run his own ads, he can finance his own campaign. There's a certain element of people in this state who would vote for the Devil himself --- and Blankenship is pretty close --- if he said 'I hate that Obama'," argues Kincaid, adding, "There's a whole lot of white-lash still left in West Virginia."

We also discuss what progressives --- whose own Democratic primary candidate, Paula Jean Swearengin, does not appear to be gaining traction in the state --- ought to do this November, if faced with a choice between a vote for the coal-loving corporatist Manchin and whoever becomes the GOP nominee amid our ever-deepening, Trump-induced national emergency.

"The fact of the matter is, we've been in a Constitutional crisis ever since the Electoral College failed to do that which the Framers said the Electoral College was designed to do. And if you let this Congress continue, there is no hope whatsoever of saving the Republic," he warns...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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DACA scheme blocked; Off-shore drilling reversed; CA's latest disaster; VA's gamed elections; NC's gamed Congressional maps; much more...
By Brad Friedman on 1/10/2018 6:21pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we do our best to try and make some sense of the utter chaos, havoc and non-stop breaking news plaguing the nation over the past 24 hours. Wish us luck! [Audio link to show follows below.]

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

  • Late updates on the devastating mud-flows that have, so far, resulted in the deaths of 17 in Southern California's Santa Barbara County, just north of Los Angeles, following a massive rainfall this week in the area just burned by the largest fire in state history;
  • A federal judge has temporarily blocked Donald Trump's attempt to lift the DACA program, which has protected some 800,000 children of immigrants who came here with their parents through no fault of their own;
  • Just days after announcing their intention to open 90% of U.S. coastline to off-shore drilling, Trump's Dept. of Interior chief Ryan Zinke reverses course, but only for the state of Florida, in what appears to be a political (and unlawful) favor to Florida's Governor Rick Scott, who Trump is supporting in a run for the U.S. Senate;

In election and voting news today...

  • Just minutes before Virginia's House of Delegates convened its new legislative session today, Democrat Shelly Simonds conceded her 94th District race against Republican David Yancey without seeking the second "recount" she is entitled to by state law. The first "recount" resulted in a declared "tie" vote and a random drawing, following a very questionable ballot [JPG] counted for the Republican after the initial "recount" had handed the victory to Simonds by a single vote. (She could still ask for a recount as late as the 17th, if she and the Democratic Party wise up and changes their minds. Republicans absolutely would have demanded such a count had the random drawing gone the other way. They would also have prevented her from being seated until that count was completed. Moreover, I share some disturbing comments from a conversation about all of this with the Voter Registrar who oversaw the election in Newport News, VA.)
  • In the 28th District race for Virginia's House, an appeals court denied the Democrats emergency motion for a new election today, after the Republican was declared the winner by 73 votes even though 147 voters were given the wrong ballot on Election Day last November. (With both of those Dems out, the GOP majority in the VA House has shrunk from 66-34 last session, to just 51-49 as of today, despite Democrats winning 55% of the vote statewide in the Republican gerrymandered state);
  • In North Carolina, a federal court panel issued a landmark and blistering ruling on Tuesday night, finding state Republicans had blatantly gerrymandered the swing-state's U.S. House Districts on a partisan bases to ensure a 10 to 3 majority for themselves, in what the panel found to be a violation of the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause. The court ordered new Congressional maps to be drawn up immediately, in the next two weeks, in time for the 2018 primaries. But Republicans vow to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is currently deciding a separate but very similar case on partisan gerrymandering of state legislative districts by Wisconsin Republicans.
  • And today, a divided (and stolen by the GOP) U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in a case challenging Ohio Secretary of State John Husted's scheme to purge voter rolls after voters have gone just two years without voting in a federal election, in what Democrats and voting rights advocates argue is a violation of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).

Finally today...

  • Trump's Energy Secretary and former Texas Governor Rick Perry sees his scheme to extend the life of coal and nuclear plants under the false guise of "grid resiliency" go up in smoke after all of the appointees on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), most of whom were appointed by Trump, unanimously reject the plan, which was seen as a payoff to a coal baron benefactor of both Perry and Trump. A former Trump Campaign official, however, sees a far more insidious (and laughable) conspiracy.

What. A. Mess. Enjoy!...

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Guest: VOA White House Bureau Chief and 26-year East Asia correspondent Steve Herman; Also: DoJ flips in key voting rights case; Trump continues to ignore terror attack on MN mosque...
By Brad Friedman on 8/10/2017 6:17pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the fire, fury, and potentially deadly bluster continues. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Donald Trump re-upped and doubled-down on his recent threats to bring "fire and fury like the world has never seen before" against North Korea, telling reporters at his golf club in New Jersey on Thursday that "maybe that statement wasn't tough enough."

His original threat earlier this week was in response to North Korea's threats against the U.S., after the United Nation's security council voted unanimously for new sanctions against the isolated nation. And, in response, North Korea's military offered an unusually detailed plan to fire a salvo of missiles at Guam, a U.S. territory and home to several U.S. military bases.

We're joined to discuss the still-increasing tensions between the two nuclear powers by VOA's White House Bureau Chief STEVE HERMAN, who returned to report stateside earlier this year after serving as a correspondent and bureau chief in east Asia for more than 25 years.

When he last joined us in April, during the last round of threats between NK and the U.S., the always-remarkably level-headed Herman offered a tip, as a veteran journalist in the region, as to how to assess whether or not NK was bluffing with their public statements. We find out whether the new round of threats from NK's military is now finally cause for legitimate concern, and whether Trump's own bellicose threats --- and the potential for a preemptive U.S. strike --- pose an even greater threat to stability in the region.

Herman also offers some criticism of the U.S. commercial broadcast coverage on this issue, details the divides over the matter within the Trump Administration itself, discusses what North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may actually be seeking here, how big the stakes are for all sides in "this ultimate poker game", and confirms that, despite the increasingly heated rhetoric from both sides, back-channel diplomacy is still ongoing and may ultimately help to avoid what otherwise appears to be a deadly collision course.

He also offers a thought or two on which has been more difficult to cover, the whole of East Asia during his time overseas, or the Trump Administration now that he's reporting from the White House.

Also today: Political appointees (not career civil rights officials) file legal documents to flip the DoJ's previous position in a crucial voting rights case scheduled to be heard this fall by the U.S. Supreme Court. And, nearly a week has gone by without Donald Trump saying or tweeting a word about last weekend's terror bombing of a mosque in Minnesota...

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Guest: Zina Merritt, Govt. Accountability Office Director on 'a systematic breakdown in the controls at every level' | Also: Keystone XL may be dead after all; EPA loses in court; Kobach's 'bizarre' appeal motion; more...
By Brad Friedman on 8/1/2017 5:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast, a stunning story of remarkably lax Department of Defense oversight of lethal weaponry given away for free to state and local law enforcement agencies, and the government office which discovered the horrifying failure. [Audio link to complete show follows below.]

But, before and after that story, a few more sordid tales of government dysfunction, including: The U.S. Senate confirmation of a new FBI Director; Keystone XL pipeline may never get built after all; EPA loses in court attempting to roll back methane regulation; Earth is in very very big trouble (or, at least those of us who live on it are); GOP "voter fraud" fraudster and federal court scofflaw Kris Kobach's latest "bizarre" court appeal to avoid an under-oath deposition; and fired White House Comms Director Anthony Scaramucci's terrible week gets even worse.

As to our main story today: The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently set up a phony law enforcement agency website and was able to use it to obtain over one million dollars worth of military-grade equipment and weaponry via the Pentagon's so-called 1033 program. The Department of Defense program offers everything from surplus mine-resistant armored vehicles, to high-powered assault weaponry and even helicopters and airplanes to state and local law enforcement agencies --- for free. The program, as of 2014, had doled out more than $5 billion in such equipment.

We're joined today by ZINA MERRITT, who, as Director of Defense Capabilities and Management at the GAO, helped create the disturbingly successful sting operation and the accompanying report on what happened, including recommendations to keep it from happening again. She also testified before Congress about all of this last week. The DoD's controversial 1033 program gained notoriety in 2014, during the protests in Ferguson, MO, when St. Louis County's police force rolled out tactical military gear and weaponry in response.

Merritt explains how the sting --- which netted "over 100 controlled items with an estimated value of $1.2 million, including night-vision goggles, simulated rifles, and simulated pipe bombs" --- was carried out, and what she describes as the "systematic breakdown in the controls at every level." The GAO had been tasked by Congress, during reforms to the program instituted under Obama, to probe the DoD unit where fake law enforcement officials were able to obtain real gear with a fake website and fake IDs (which weren't even checked at several of the warehouses when they picked up what could have been lethal equipment. Good thing they weren't attempting to vote!)

"We submitted [the application] online, and all you had to have, in order to do that, was a website as well as a point of contact, a physical location, and actual names --- points of contact --- within the agency. Also, you had to identify how many particular sworn officials that you have as a part of your agency. So we created all of that and submitted it," Merritt tells me, explaining that apparently none of it was actually verified by the DoD. "The actual physical location that we provided was an empty lot," she says.

Merritt also explains the recent reforms that have been made to the program, via Executive Order by Obama in 2016 (grenade launchers, for example, are no longer available, even though the Los Angeles Unified School District had obtained several prior to those reforms!), the several recommendations the GAO has now made to correct the startling security gaps in the program revealed by the sting operation, and whether "bad guys" may have already pulled off what the GAO has now discovered was easily done.

We also discuss how the 1033 program could be changed again by Trump, and whether the GAO --- an agency controlled by the U.S. Congress --- is facing changes under the new Administration...

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

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Plus: 2016 election hack attempts even worse than previously known, Kobach voter fraud commission's suppression efforts already a success...
By Brad Friedman on 7/18/2017 6:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans' attempt to govern continue to fall apart. Also, the assault on our nation's elections continue as well, both from without and within. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

After new defections by two more GOP Senators late Monday night led to the stunning collapse of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's latest attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare"), his subsequent plan, to repeal ObamaCare now and replace it later, also collapsed within hours, after the number of Republican Senators needed to kill the measure almost immediately vowed to vote against it. Cue Donald Trump's blame game, avoidance of responsibility and lies about the entire matter.

So what's next on the Republican agenda? A budget resolution must be passed to avoid a Government shutdown by the end of September and a major tax cut effort has long been promised. Evidence suggests both items may run into a similar inability of Congressional Republicans to even agree amongst themselves. Such is the danger of radicalized, illegitimate political enterprises. They may work for winning elections, but not so much when it comes to actually governing.

Also today: New and startling revelations (even to me) of hundreds of thousands of attempts to hack South Carolina's general election system last November offer a dark omen and yet another much-needed reminder regarding election systems in the rest of the country, as well as the need for the public to be able to oversee results; Thousands of legitimate Colorado voters un-register in response to the massive data request for private information by Trump's "Election Integrity" Commission headed up by "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach; and new details about the hack last year of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission --- the federal agency tasked with overseeing electronic voting and tabulation systems in the U.S. --- highlight, yet again, why it's so disturbing that the GOP is attempting to shut down the agency entirely. (No matter how many times over the past decade The BRAD BLOG has found the EAC to be both corrupt and a failure.)

Finally: Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with huge wildfires in Canada, Trump giving away more tax-payer dollars to fossil fuel companies and much more...including, yes, some heroic nuns and a small, disorganized Tropical Storm named Don...

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: ACLU's Theresa Lee | Also: Trump Jr.'s legal probs; Senate GOP health care repeal; 'Green News Report' returns for another heat wave...
By Brad Friedman on 7/11/2017 6:07pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we're still trying to keep our eye on the ball, as Trump and the Republicans work to take away both health and voting rights even as the nation is otherwise consumed with new breaking news in the ongoing criminal investigations of Team Trump. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up today, a few comments on the news regarding Donald Trump, Jr.'s meeting with a Russian attorney during the campaign last year and the federal election laws he may have violated in the bargain. But, with everyone else in the world covering that story today, fewer are covering the ongoing plans by the Senate GOP to try and repeal the health care for millions of Americans in exchange for tax cuts for the wealthy, possibly as early as next week, according to a top Senate Republican. And, if not next week, shortly thereafter, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has now cancelled much of the August recess in hopes of jamming both ObamaCare repeal and a major tax cut scheme through Congress before Summer ends.

Similarly, with all of the noise regarding the incompetence and/or corruption of Team Trump, it's important to keep an eye on their ongoing efforts at voter suppression via Trump's so-called "Election Integrity" Commission which has already resulted in voters around the nation removing themselves from registration roles for fear that Commission Vice-Chair and notorious "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach will publicly release the personal information of registered voters, such as birthdate, social security number, military status, etc., as he recently promised in a letter to all 50 states seeking that data.

But, as Kobach has made a career out of pretending there is a massive voter fraud epidemic and threatening prosecution against voters for small and often inadvertent violations of the law, you'd think his Commission would follow the rule of law to the letter. That does not appear to be the case, however, as at least four different legal complaints, alleging violations of federal law, have already been filed against Kobach and the Commission over the past week, even as even more notorious GOP 'voter fraud' fraudsters are being quietly added to the Presidential panel.

THERESA LEE, staff attorney at the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, one of the groups which have filed legal complaints against the Commission, joins us to explain their lawsuit [PDF] charging multiple violations of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), how this Presidential Commission on elections is wildly different from those created in the recent past, and what it is that Kobach and friends are really up to under the sham Commission's pretext of combating 'voter fraud'.

"One of the main purposes of the Act was public accountability, the idea that if the government is getting advice, it should not be biased advice, and the public should know what's going into it," Lee tells me, describing the extraordinary imbalance of the Trump-Pence-Kobach Commission and the secrecy under which it has so far been operating.

Finally today, it's the return of the Green News Report with Desi Doyen after a week off over the holidays, and just in time for another heat wave across much of the country, embarrassment at the G-20, and both good news and bad in California...

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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