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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, December 18, 2017
'T'was the Week Before' Toons
'PDiddie' gallops us all towards the holidays -- and some of us towards political sunset -- in his latest festive holiday toon collection...
GOP Tax Scam's Final Mile; Tillerson's NK Flip; Packing the Courts; Trump Family Fail: 'BradCast' 12/15/17
A spoonful or two of sugar along with some of today's bitter medicine...
Trump FCC Kills 'Net Neutrality', Endangering Internet Free Speech: 'BradCast' 12/14/2017
Guest: Media reformer Sue Wilson; Also: More mega-mergers, Trump noms withdrawn, more...
'Green News Report' 12/14/17
  w/ Brad & Desi
Toxic smoke warnings from SoCal fires; New bad news for the Arctic; New good news for Tesla; World fights climate change without U.S.; PLUS: French prez makes good on promise...
Previous GNRs: 12/12/17 - 12/7/17 - Archives...
Veteran Recount Attorney Sees Little Chance for Moore in AL: 'BradCast' 12/13/17
Guest: Recount expert Chris Sautter on Jones' win, Moore's odds, AL Supremes' 'ballot images' ruling...
Internet Freedom of Speech Now at Stake
With Trump's Repub-majority FCC set to kill Net Neutrality, a media reformer on why the result will be another political horror show for Dems and the nation...
AL Supremes Allow 'Ballot Images' to Be Destroyed: 'BradCast' 12/12/17
Guest: David Rothschild's new study on whether real or fake news was the bigger prob in the 2016 election...
'Green News Report' 12/12/17
SoCal fire now CA's 5th largest ever; Trump Admin attacks private co. in nat'l monument fight, opens E. Coast to drilling, slows EPA actions against polluters...
Moore, Moore, Moore... and Other Vital News: 'BradCast' 12/11/2017
Terror attacks in NY, KS, NM; Pentagon to allow trans-gender enlistment; SoCal fires; Election integrity court win and deep dive before AL's insane U.S. Senate election...
GOP/NRA's 'Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act' Likely Unconstitutional
New bill rammed through House blocks states' rights on gun safety laws and may violate the U.S. Constitution...
Sunday Toons of the Soulless Moment
A lot of souls have been sold in recent days. For what in return? 'PDiddie' rounds up the consequences in his latest weekly toon collection...
Former CO GOP Chair Found Guilty of Voter Fraud: 'BradCast' 12/8/17
And other ironies and outrages: SoCal fires spread; Trump dumps science; Election Integrity suit in AL; House GOP ignores states' rights on guns; Listener e-mail...
'Green News Report' 12/7/17
Trump rolls back protections for two national monuments; Tribes, conservationists sue; GOP tax bill slashes renewables; PLUS: Credit firm warns cities on climate...
Two SCOTUS Cases This Week 'Take the Cake' for Absurdity: 'BradCast' 12/6/17
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Fires worsen in, near L.A.; Franken pressured by Dem Senators to resign...
NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


By Brad Friedman on 12/15/2017 6:21pm PT  

On today's BradCast, a spoonful or two of sugar where we can find it, along with much too much bitter medicine. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the stories covered on today's jam-packed 'BradCast'...

First up: The massively unpopular Republican tax scam lurches toward the finish line after the last of the pretend GOP hold-outs in the U.S. Senate now seem to be on board. They all know it's a scam, of course, one that will not, as they pretend, "pay for itself". And most predict the tax bill will gravely hurt the GOP's chances of holding on to the U.S. House in 2018. But they don't seem to care for some reason Moreover, they are openly admitting publicly that they are coming for cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid almost as soon as the largest redistribution of wealth from the poor and middle class to corporations and the wealthy in the history of the nation is completed before Christmas.

Then: Earlier in the week, Trump's beleaguered Sec. of State Rex Tillerson had announced that the U.S. was ready to meet with the North Koreans for peace talks without preconditions. By week's end, however, that hopeful message of potential peace took a drastic u-turn, as Tillerson appears to have reversed course at the last minute during his remarks at the U.N. on Friday.

Meanwhile, even though they have, up until now, failed to enact any major legislation to date, Trump and the Republicans have been wildly successful at ramming lifetime appointments of radical right-wing jurists to the federal bench through the U.S. Senate. Some of those appointees have been ridiculously unqualified, though at least one Senate Republican is beginning to put the brakes on those nominees. We share part of the astonishing Senate Judiciary Committee colloquy this week between Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) and Mark Spencer Petersen, Trump's embarrassingly unqualified nominee for a lifetime post on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Finally, we get to at least a spoonful of sugar with a musical tribute to the apparently failed U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama, plummeting approval ratings for the President, the Vice-President and the entire Republican Party, and the hilarious case of pretty much every member of the Trump family in D.C. successfully suppressing their own votes in last month's New York mayoral election.

All of that and much more in today's BradCast. Enjoy!

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

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Guest: Sue Wilson of Media Action Center; Also: More mega-mergers before GOP tax cuts; Trump noms to EPA, federal bench withdrawn...
By Brad Friedman on 12/14/2017 6:27pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Disturbing news for Americans and free speech before Christmas, but great news for huge corporations enjoying record profits already. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, yet another media mega-merger is announced as Disney says they will purchase much of Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox in a $52 billion dollar deal, even as Trump and the Congressional GOP push to give them all huge tax breaks --- at the expense of the poor and middle class. Republicans are hoping for final passage of their tax bill before Christmas and before presumptive Sen.-elect Doug Jones (D-AL) can be seated and further reduce the GOP's slim U.S. Senate majority.

On the upside today, one of Trump's wildly inappropriate industry shills nominated to the EPA has reportedly withdrawn, as have two wholly unqualified nominees for lifetime judgeship appointments to the federal bench.

Then, as expected on Thursday, Trump's Republican-led Federal Communications Commission (FCC), voted 3 to 2 along party lines to kill "Net Neutrality" rules for Internet Service Providers like AT&T, Verizon, Charter and Comcast. That, despite a letter from 18 state Attorneys General who asked the Commission to delay the vote until after a legitimate public comment period. The previous one, they charge, was manipulated by as many as 2,000,000 comments that New York's Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has found found to have been faked.

Nonetheless, right-wing FCC Commissioner and former Verizon attorney Ajit Pai did not delay the vote, and the Commission voted to kill the rules that had long prevented ISP's from blocking or slowing down certain websites or apps, or charging more for access to them. Longtime media reform activist SUE WILSON joins us today and describes the latest actions by the FCC as little more than a move toward the end of free speech on the Internet.

She argues that the move to kill Net Neutrality echoes the efforts to pass the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which was also sold by proponents at the time as a boon for competition and innovation that would result in more free speech over our public airwaves. Instead, the public radio waves have become the nearly exclusive domain of corporate right-wing political speech and propaganda in the 20 years since the measure was signed by President Bill Clinton.

"They made a lot of promises, when they consolidated radio, that we would end up with a much more diverse speech for everybody," Wilson explains. "Anybody who listens to radio knows that it's almost impossible to find a show like The BradCast on the air because it is now dominated by pro-Republican, conservative --- no, 'alt-right' --- speech, to the exclusion of all others. They flat-out lied to us, and guess what? That's what they're doing today."

A similar future may soon be in store for the Internet, unless promised lawsuits or Congressional legislation is able to block or reverse today's shamefully under-reported and disturbing turn of events.

"The claim that the Federal Communications Commission Republicans are making is that we need to give more money to broadband services so that they can invest in rural areas," says Wilson. "However, if you look at the Securities and Exchange [Commission] documents, which these corporations have to fill out --- under penalty of prosecution if they lie --- the six CEOs of publicly-traded broadband companies are telling their investors that the FCC's current Net Neutrality rules have not in any way impacted their investment strategies. Again, we're looking at the Federal Communications Commission, as headed by Ajit Pai, just making things up out of whole cloth."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with an update on the record and still-growing Southern California wildfires, more bad news about the Arctic, some good news for Tesla, and a worldwide embarrassment for the United States...

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Election recount expert Chris Sautter of American Univ.
By Brad Friedman on 12/13/2017 5:57pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was an all too rare moment of good news, of late, for Democrats and, indeed, the nation on Tuesday, after what appears to have been a stunning upset by Democrat Doug Jones over Republican Roy Moore in Alabama's U.S. Senate Special Election. But Dems may not want to spend too much time celebrating. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Following Jones' apparent stunning victory on Tuesday, his highly controversial opponent has so far refused to concede or reportedly even speak to Jones. At the same time, despite Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's demand in 2010, when Democrats controlled the U.S. Senate, to wait to hold a vote on the Affordable Care Act ('ObamaCare') until Republican Sen. Scott Brown could be seated after his special election in Massachusetts, the GOP appears to be barreling ahead with their plan to vote on their radical and wildly unpopular tax scheme in the coming days, before Jones can be seated. That, even after McConnell had held a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court open for almost a year, claiming that "the American people should have a voice" in who would be the next Supreme Court Justice during the 2016 Presidential election.

In the meantime, even after the voice of AL voters seems to have quite clearly said they want to be represented by a Democrat in the U.S. Senate, Moore suggested on Tuesday night that he may hold out for a "recount" of paper ballots processed by computer scanners across the state. AL's Sec. of State John Merrill told CNN Tuesday night that Moore has the right to do so, but election statutes in the state seem to say otherwise.

We're joined today by veteran recount expert, attorney, author and professor CHRIS SAUTTER of American University, to discuss all of this. Sautter, formerly an adviser to Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders and many other Democrats, worked on the recount efforts by Al Gore in Florida in 2000 and Al Franken in Minnesota in 2008, among many other such efforts going back decades.

"I've been doing recounts now since the 1984 [U.S.] House recount in Indiana that was ultimately decided by 4 votes --- still the closest House race in modern times," Sautter tells me. "One thing I've observed is that in the heart of the narrowly-defeated candidate lies the belief that he actually won or at least the hope that a recount will somehow salvage a victory. It's another way of describing denial in an election that is close, heartbreakingly close, for the loser."

Sautter was also part of the team supporting the multi-partisan lawsuit recently filed in Alabama in hopes of forcing the state to retain digital "ballot images" created by their paper ballot computer scanners. Those images, many election integrity advocates argue, can be useful for public oversight of results, particularly in states like Alabama which make it virtually impossible for citizens to oversee tabulation of paper ballots, and which simply rescan them through the same computers a second time in the rare event of a "recount".

As we have been reporting, the transparency advocates who filed that lawsuit appeared to have won it on Monday afternoon, but by Monday evening, in a ruling that Sautter describes as "extraordinary" the night before the Election, the Sec. of State was successful in convincing the state Supreme Court to allow counties to destroy those "ballot images" altogether.

Sautter offers insight, among other things, as to Moore's chances of success in a potential "recount" (and of being allowed to have one at all under state law); on the bizarre circumstances under which the AL Supremes reversed the lower court's "ballot images" ruling at the last minute without input from the plaintiffs; and how he and other election integrity advocates hope to take their fight for transparency nationwide in 2018.

Finally, while Jones' apparent victory on Tuesday may have been good news for Democrats, Alabama, the nation as a whole (and even the Republican Party), we explain why what happened on Tuesday actually serves as a startling reminder of just how rigged against Democrats the electoral system is as they prepare to head into next year's crucial mid-term elections...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Terror attacks in NY, KS, NM; Pentagon to allow transgender enlistment, despite Trump's ban; SoCal fire update; A big election integrity court win and deep dive into the mad state of Alabama's U.S. Senate election as voters head to the polls...
By Brad Friedman on 12/11/2017 5:58pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we take a deep dive into the insane state of play in the final days before voters finally head to the polls in Alabama for the U.S. Senate special election between the Republican, twice-removed-from-the-bench judge Roy Moore and Democratic former US Attorney Doug Jones.

But first, a few quick news items today, including an update on the still-out-of-control Southern California wildfires; The mostly-failed terror bombing by an alleged ISIS sympathizer in the subway near Times Square today; news in the case of three white rightwing "militiamen" on trial for an alleged scheme to bomb a community of Muslim Somali refugees in Kansas. Their motion seeks to get more Trump-supporters from elsewhere in the state on their terror trial jury; New details on the school shooting (by another white guy) in New Mexico last week that took three lives, including that of the shooter. Despite FBI investigators interviewing the man last year after he is said to have left online comments seeking information on weapons to use in a mass shooting, he was able to legally purchase a semi-automatic pistol and high-capacity magazines last month anyway.

And then it's onto our deep dive into "deep red" Alabama and the state of the important Moore/Jones U.S. Senate election before Election Day on Tuesday. Among the issues covered on that front today:

  • Election Integrity advocates obtained a big win on Monday morning, when receiving an order [PDF] from a state court requiring state election officials retain digital ballot images created by computer scanners tabulating the paper ballots used across much of the state. (My interview last week with John Brakey, the election integrity advocate who organized the court action, explaining why its necessary, is here.)
    UPDATE 12/12/2017: After a private ex parte motion (meaning, the opposition was not present) later in the day, by the defendants, AL's Sec. of State and State Election Director, the Alabama Supreme Court stayed the earlier Circuit Court ruling and set a hearing on the matter for later this month. That, effectively, means that ballot images will not be preserved after all. More on this remarkable late ruling on today's BradCast...
  • Some last minute news on the anti-gay, anti-Muslim Moore, who has been accused by 9 different women of inappropriate sexual contact with them when they were teenagers (including one who was 14-years old at the time), on his belief that Constitutional Amendments which came after the ten in the Bill of Rights --- including those that ended slavery and gave voting rights to African-Americans and woman --- somehow violated the intentions of the nation's Founders;
  • New polling from Fox "News" claiming to find the Democrat Jones up by 10 points over Moore on the eve of the election, and another new poll from Emerson finding Moore up over Jones by 9 points;
  • How the entire race will come down to turnout, particularly in the African-American community, and whether they are allowed to vote and to have their votes counted as cast, given the state's Photo ID voting restrictions and other practices which Republican state lawmakers have been caught admitting to having designed specifically to suppress black and Latino voting;
  • AL's senior Senator Richard Shelby, a fellow Republican, announces he could not vote for Moore, based on the allegations against him;
  • And, finally, a remarkable focus group led by Republican pollster Frank Luntz for VICE News with so-called "conservative" Alabamians explaining why they plan to vote for Moore despite the allegations by nine different women against him...

Buckle up!...

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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SoCal fires spread; Trump dumps science; Election Integrity suit before AL election; House GOP ignores states' rights on guns; Listener e-mail...
By Brad Friedman on 12/8/2017 6:17pm PT  

Among the stories covered on today's BradCast...with no small amount of gusto and an occasional comedic turn in an otherwise dark (and smokey) world...

  • Devastating wildfires spread down the Southern California coast toward San Diego, in a record wildfire season that has lasted all the way into winter, as predicted by scientists at least a decade ago. Alas, few heeded their warnings;
  • Clearly not heeding such warnings is Donald Trump who, according to a new AP analysis, is failing to appoint actual scientists to scores of Senate-confirmable, top scientific positions at multiple important federal agencies, from the EPA to the Energy Dept. to the White House itself;
  • The former Chair of the CO Republican Party turned rightwing radio host, Steve Curtis, had claimed before last year's election that "virtually every case of voter fraud I can remember in my lifetime was committed by Democrats." Well, he was proven wrong in court this week as he, himself, is found guilty of....you guessed it. (His failed excuse for it is equally astonishing.)
  • And, speaking of...on the eve of Tuesday's much-watched U.S. Senate special election in Alabama, multi-partisan Election Integrity advocates file suit to force the state to retain "ballot images" from the state's paper ballot digital-scanners. New York Daily News' Editorial Board joins them in that call...for very good reason. (My interview several days ago with the longtime election integrity champ, John Brakey, who helped organize the lawsuit and effort, is right here.)
  • After a spate of mass shootings, Congress finally moves some gun legislation forward, as Republicans in the U.S. House do the bidding of their terrorist-enabling NRA masters in passing a bill to expand the right to carry concealed deadly weapons into states whose laws prohibit it;

And, finally today, we end with some listener e-mail on a few of the topics we've covered on recent shows from guns to the Democratic Party to Trump/Russia...

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: Gaius Publius of 'Down With Tyranny'...
By Brad Friedman on 12/7/2017 6:19pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Are Democrats falling for all of these rightwing traps? Or are they willingly walking right into them...because they want to? [Audio link to show follows below.]

After a few news headlines today --- Australia's parliament finally adopts marriage equality; the white Charleston, SC cop who killed unarmed black man Walter Scott receives a 20 year sentence; another school shooting, this time in NM --- we move on to Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)'s announcement today on the floor of the U.S. Senate that he plans to resign "in the coming weeks".

The stunning announcement by the popular and dogged comedian-turned-Senator comes after fellow Democrats this week called for him to step down in the wake of several allegations of sexual misconduct said to have occurred before he became a U.S. Senator. Franken, who has been a champion for women's rights during his time in the Senate, maintains he either doesn't recall the incidents at all or remembers them quite differently than reported. He has described the most recent charge leveled against him this week by an unnamed victim, said to have been a Congressional staffer in 2006, as "preposterous". Nonetheless, while expressing confidence he would have been cleared by the Senate Ethics Committee of any wrongdoing, he says he will now step aside before that probe was even able to begin in earnest.

We share excerpts of Franken's remarks on the floor today, which include, as he notes, "some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate [in Alabama] with the full support of his [Republican] party."

So, did Democrats fall for another right-wing trap in pushing Franken out? It wouldn't be the first time. We discuss several such traps --- including one that MSNBC seems to have fallen for this week regarding progressive radio host Sam Seder, before wisely changing course two days later --- with longtime progressive writer and blogger GAIUS PUBLIUS, who wrote earlier this week about Democrats falling, yet again, into the Republicans' "deficit trap" regarding federal spending on military and social programs. We debate why and whether Democrats fall into these rightwing traps or if they willingly choose to walk into them, for some reason.

"Why is it that Democrats seem to be one foot in the Republican camp and afraid to be too much in opposition, and one foot in the Democratic camp and not so fully pro-democratic values as we'd like them to be?," Publius observes as we discuss Franken, the 'deficit trap' and more. "I would argue that it's not fear. We're not dealing with cowards here. We're dealing with people who are, in some sense, compromised by their own values. Their own values are putting them in this position where they can't please anybody."

There's lots to chew on in today's conversation on these topics!

Finally, Desi Doyen offers our latest Green News Report as wildfires continue to rage near us here in Los Angeles, and as several breaking news items, related to all of the above, break late during today's show...

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Guest: Legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Fires worsen in and near L.A.; Franken may be forced, by Democrats, to resign...
By Brad Friedman on 12/6/2017 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Another day, still more chaos in these United States, threatening to all but drown out two major civil and privacy rights cases heard this week by the U.S. Supreme Court and covered in detail on today's show. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But first, Desi Doyen joins us for an update on the out-of-control wildfires in and around Los Angeles today, threatening tens of thousands of structures and many more residents, who have been forced to flee several large blazes fueled by dry conditions and record winds. Also in danger: Animals, priceless works of art and one of Rupert Murdoch's mansions.

Next, calls from fellow Democrats for Sen. Al Franken to resign blew up on Wednesday in the U.S. Senate, after another unnamed woman reportedly stepped forward to claim the Minnesota Senator tried to kiss her after a radio program back in 2006. Franken denies the claim and calls it "preposterous", but may be forced to resign anyway on Thursday, less than one week before Republicans in Alabama may elect Roy Moore, an accused child molester, to the same U.S. Senate. Desi has a few choice thoughts on the Franken matter as well.

Then, we're joined by Slate legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN, to discuss two important cases heard at the U.S. Supreme Court this week. Stern, who was at the Court during oral arguments for both, explains what is at stake in each, and how the Republicans' blatantly stolen seat occupied by Justice Neil Gorsuch will radically effect each case.

The first, Carpenter v. United States has to do with the U.S. Government's argument that law enforcement has the right to obtain anyone and everyone's cell phone location data, even without obtaining a warrant from a court first, in what appears to be a clear violation of the U.S. Constitution's 4th Amendment privacy rights for freedom from unreasonable search and seizure.

"The case almost sounds too crazy to be true," Stern tells me, detailing the Government's argument that "because customers voluntarily turn over the data to a third party --- their cellphone companies," which keeps records of which cell phone towers are used and by whom, customers "have no right to privacy with regards to that information."

The second, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission is an even more insane "free speech" and "religious expression" case. It was brought by a virulently anti-gay baker in Colorado who claims his bakery shop has the First Amendment right to discriminate and refuse to sell a cake to two men celebrating their same-sex wedding. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission and the state courts disagreed with the baker, Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop, who appealed to the U.S. Supremes. Surprisingly they took up the case after Phillips was also joined by Trump's U.S. Department of Justice over the summer.

Stern details the liberal Justices' skeptical (and even hilarious) questioning of whether Phillips' argument that he is an "artist" exercising creative free speech --- not blatant discrimination --- could also be extended to florists and hair stylists and make-up artists, among many others.

"This is an embarrassment," says Stern. "What happened here is a clear-cut case of discrimination." He also highlights one key irony underscoring the entire case: "The Supreme Court's conservative justices have really been lecturing gay people for years that they should stop turning to the courts to vindicate their rights and, instead, go through the democratic process to secure their equality under law. And here we have a case of gay people doing exactly that. Gay people in Colorado fought long and hard to change the law to protect their right to equal service in public accommodations. They succeeded. And now, those same Supreme Court conservatives who said you have to do this through democracy, are now poised to say, 'Actually you don't get to this,' and nullify the rights that they secured through the democratic process."

Depending on how Justice Kennedy decides in a likely 5 to 4 opinion one way or another --- on a case that would have been a cake walk for civil rights advocates before Republicans stole the Court majority --- what could very well result is legalization of mass discrimination of people of all races, religions and sexual orientations by any and all manner of businesses in the U.S. for decades to come...

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Guest: Election integrity advocate John Brakey; Also: Conyers resigns, Farenthold skates, RNC and Trump go all-in for Roy Moore...
By Brad Friedman on 12/5/2017 6:55pm PT  

On today's BradCast: If Donald Trump and fellow Republicans have their way, an accused child molester will become the next U.S. Senator from Alabama. But, in advance of next Tuesday's election, election integrity advocates are fighting to assure the possibility of oversight of the state's computerized election results. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first up today, new wildfires exploded across parts of Southern California on Tuesday, in Ventura County and near Los Angeles, mirroring some of record fires that engulfed Northern California win country in October. Those fires killed more than 40 people and destroyed thousands of structures. While no deaths have yet been reported in the new blazes, tens of thousands of residents were forced to flee in the middle of the night and scores of houses have burned with thousands remaining threatened, as dry conditions and record winds are predicted to continue for several days.

Meanwhile, in Congress, allegations of sexual harassment continue to take a toll, as civil rights champion Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), the longest serving member in the U.S. House, announced his resignation on Tuesday, following multiple allegations against him. On the other side of the aisle, Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) says he will repay the $84,000 Congress paid out to settle a 2014 sexual harassment claim against him. Unlike in Conyers' case, no members of Farenthold's own party caucus have publicly called on him to resign.

And, following Donald Trump's full-throated endorsement of Alabama's Republican U.S. Senate nominee Roy Moore on Monday, the Republican National Committee has now restored funding and other resources for Moore, after previously pulling support in response to well-sourced allegations of sexual impropriety with a number of teenage girls, as young as 14, when he was a prosecutor in his 30s. Sitting GOP Senators --- like Utah's Orrin Hatch and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell --- have also walked back their initial condemnations of Moore, particularly as final passage of a massive Republican redistribution of wealth from the middle-class to the rich still relies on a thin partisan majority in the U.S. Senate. That, even as new evidence emerges to buttress the allegations against Moore.

Then, in advance of that December 12th U.S. Senate Special Election between Moore and Democrat Doug Jones next Tuesday in Alabama, election integrity advocates are eying concerns about the state's paper ballot computer tabulators.

I'm joined today by longtime election integrity champion JOHN BRAKEY of AUDIT-AZ to discuss his lawsuit and other efforts to force Alabama election officials to turn on digital "ballot imaging" functionality for all ballots on the state's computer ballot scanners, most of which offer the feature. Brakey explains how such images, in lieu of actual human examination of hand-marked paper ballots, can be helpful for public attempts at oversight of results following next week's race, particularly given the historic obstacles citizens have been met with in attempting to verify computer tabulated results.

(See, by way of just one example, my recent interview with Wisconsin's Karen McKim, whose public records request finally allowed, just weeks ago, a multi-partisan group of observers to examine paper ballots from the 2016 President election. That audit of several precincts in Racine County, paid for by the residents themselves, revealed up to 6% of perfectly valid Presidential votes went untallied, thanks to flawed optical scan systems used across the state on Election Night and, in much of the state, even during even during Green Party candidate Jill Stein's attempted "recount". Other wards which tallied by hand instead during that "recount" discovered as many as 30% of valid votes went untallied originally!)

Brakey explains that some 80% of Alabama counties now use newer digital scanners which would allow ballot images to be retained and shared with citizens to examine after the election, to help ensure an accurate count. But, he tells me, relaying his recent conversations with the state's Election Director, "the reality is that it doesn't work unless you turn that feature on." Right now, he says, it is only turned on for write-in votes only. Brakey charges, however, that automatically deleting images that are taken of every ballot as they are tallied by the digital systems, is a violation of federal law. "It's a federal election, and under federal law, you must save everything for 22 months," he says. He is heading to Alabama today and says he will file suit to force the state to retain all such images.

Why not just fight to view the actual paper ballots? Brakey explains: "You cannot get at the original ballots. They will not let you touch them. In order to get to them, you have to prove fraud first. And how are you going to prove fraud if you can't get to the ballots? That's the Catch-22. The ballot images are a tool to get us to the originals."

You can watch the colorful and inspirational Brakey in the film Fatally Flawed, documenting his years-long transpartisan fight in Tucson, Arizona, in hopes of examining the ballots from and verifying results of a controversial 2006 election. And you can donate to help Brakey's fight for Ballot Images in Alabama (and elsewhere) right here.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on Trump's unprecedented (and Orwellian) roll back of protected national monument designations by former Presidents, and much more...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Journalist David Dayen on how Repubs just admitted 'trickle-down' doesn't actually work | Also: Accountability for high-profile sexual misconduct, if not in Alabama, the White House or on Main Street...
By Brad Friedman on 11/30/2017 6:10pm PT  

According to my guest on today's BradCast, last minute GOP maneuvering on the U.S. Senate versions of the tax bill, in hopes of buying off holdouts within their own caucus, definitively proves that so-called 'trickle-down' economic theory doesn't actually work --- and that Republicans know it. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first up on today's show, U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) calls for long-serving Democratic Rep. John Conyers of Michigan to resign in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations by a series of women, and long-serving Republican Rep. Joe Barton of Texas announces he will not run for re-election, after admitting to sexual misconduct with a series of women.

Those are just two of a flood of powerful men in politics, entertainment and journalism to be called out of late. However, how many women are still facing sexual assault and harassment from men who aren't as high-profile and, therefore, not being exposed by the mainstream media? And, how many others, even powerful ones like President Donald Trump and, perhaps, Alabama's Republican U.S. Senate nominee Roy Moore --- whose poll numbers are back up over Democrat Doug Jones in advance of the Dec. 12th U.S. Senate special election, even after multiple allegations of sexual assault with under-aged girls --- still get away without any accountability at all? We discuss.

Then, while Republicans claim their massive $1.5 trillion tax cut scheme for corporations and the wealthy (and tax increases for most everyone else) will magically pay for itself, history and all independent analysis suggest otherwise. So does evidence from large corporations, most of which indicates that companies have no plans to use their expected windfall profits from tax cuts to increase employment or raise worker wages.

With that in mind, in order to get the massive tax measure passed at all, some Republicans in the U.S. Senate are demanding a 'trigger' in the legislation that would automatically kick in to reverse some of the tax cuts if the GOP and Trump Administration's rosy scenarios that tax cuts pay for themselves do not actually come to pass.

We're joined today by financial journalist DAVID DAYEN who explains why such a trigger is the GOP's worst idea yet for their already terrible scheme. "You could let monkeys bang on typewriters for several millennia and not come up with an idea as profoundly stupid," he reports at The Nation this week.

The result, he tells me, would be that taxes would potentially be automatically increased and/or spending reduced, at the worse possible moment for doing so. "Austerity in the midst of an economic slowdown is economic suicide. It would intentionally destabilize the economy if it slowed down. It would turn recessions into depression," he warns. "I cannot stress enough how stupid this idea is."

He also notes how opposition to such a trigger from so-called "conservatives"-- other members of the Senate, as well as right-wing advocacy groups like the Koch Brothers' Americans for Prosperity, Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform and the US Chamber of Commerce --- "gives the game away" that 'trickle-down', and this bill as a whole, are all "all a scam"...and Republicans know it.

Please tune in for another very insightful conversation with Dayen, revealing just how hypocritical, dangerous and misleading the entire scam is, how much it will cost the American people in real terms, whether the GOP and Trump will be able to get it passed at all, and how the American electorate are likely to react if so, in 2018 and beyond.

Finally, a quick reminder that Open Enrollment for the Affordable Care Act ('ObamaCare') at Healthcare.gov is still under way until December 15th in most states and, while sign-up numbers have been very high so far this year, they are very low as a percentage compared to last year, since Trump has cut the period for enrollment in half from previous years.

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Guest: Emily Atkin of New Republic...
By Brad Friedman on 11/29/2017 6:06pm PT  

On today's BradCast, it's a grim day in the U.S.A. And while that's been happening quite a bit lately, today seems particularly dark. [Audio link to show follows below.]

As the GOP's devastating tax cuts increases for millions of low- and middle-income Americans and seniors move forward in the U.S. Senate, Donald Trump, the President of the United States, tweeted out three different anti-Muslim propaganda videos initially posted by a member of a far-right extremist nationalist party in the UK called Britain First. The disturbing postings by the President of what are being described as "ISIS snuff films", drew worldwide statements of condemnation from conservative British Prime Minister Theresa May and many other members of Parliament, as well as Muslim and Jewish groups in the US, academics and more. But, at least one person, in addition to Britain First, thanked Trump for the postings: David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the KKK. We discuss this rather embarrassing and dispiriting moment in American history.

Then, we take a much-needed shower before heading to Charleston, West Virginia, where the (now, ironically named) Environmental Protection Agency is holding its one and only hearing on EPA Chief Scott Pruitt's plan to kill Obama's Clean Power Plan, a landmark measure meant to curb dangerous greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

Environment reporter EMILY ATKIN of New Republic joins us from WV, after spending the past two days at the forum which she describes as a "tragedy" and a "farce", featuring testimony from coal barons like Robert Murray, CEO of the nation's largest private coal company --- who brought his employees in full mining regalia, hard hats and all, to the hearing room --- as well as from environmentalists who were allowed to testify, but were largely relegated to separate rooms entirely.

Atkin discusses what the hearings suggest about the current EPA, which is now doing the bidding of the fossil fuel industry itself, as well as how industry leaders and Republican officials admit that coal has a bleak future --- thanks to cleaner, cheaper natural gas and renewable energy --- even while lying about it to those directly suffering in Coal Country, like miners and their families.

The miners, she tells me, "completely buy into" the industry's "War on Coal" propaganda. "And that was what I think is the tragedy of the whole thing. They accept that there has been decline in the industry. The miners that I spoke to --- and just the average coal supporting people in West Virginia that I spoke to --- completely attribute it to Obama-era regulations, and completely believe what they're being told by coal executives and Republican politicians, that once [the Clean Power Plan] is gone, everything's going to be okay. And their industry is going to thrive again in the way that it used to. ... It's the hypocrisy of these executives and these politicians who go in front of the miners and tell them everything's going to be okay when, in other settings, they well admit that the decline of coal is happening no matter what."

Atkin describes her brief conversation at the hearing with Murray, and how his own employees there contradicted one of his claims. And she explains how, though Pruitt chose to hold the forum in Charleston in order "to hear from those most impacted" by the Clean Power Plan, there are many others, in non-coal states, that are "equally affected", including those "communities that surround emitting coal plants [and] communities that surround coal ash pits that hold coal's toxic waste that can seep into groundwater and into water systems."

"The fence-line communities that live near producing plants, which often are disproportionately low-income and minority communities, those aren't based in West Virginia. And I would argue that they are just as impacted by the Clean Power Plan as a coal miner. And yet, the EPA doesn't have any scheduled public hearings in any of those areas."

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for the latest Green News Report, with some of the most encouraging news of the day, before a bit of breaking news out of the U.N. on Trump's continuing threats of war against North Korea...

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Guest: Karen McKim of Wisconsin Election Integrity...
By Brad Friedman on 11/28/2017 6:55pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The three stories we cover at the top of today's show --- another long-range missile launch by North Korea, GOP tax cuts for the wealthy moving forward in Congress, and a Trump-appointed federal judge who just decided in favor of Trump (and seemingly, against the rule of law) in an unprecedented battle for leadership of a federal agency --- all underscore the importance of the rest of today's disturbing program. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

An effort just before the Thanksgiving holiday by citizen volunteers at WisconsinElectionIntegrity.org (WIE) finds that inaccurate results were certified in Wisconsin's 2016 Presidential election, which Donald Trump is said to have won by just 22,000 votes over Hillary Clinton, out of some 3 million ballots cast.

Wisconsin was one of three states, along with Michigan and Pennsylvania, where Green Party candidate Jill Stein had filed for "recounts" and forensic audits of voting systems, after the Clinton Campaign declined to heed the pleas for such an audit by computer scientists and voting systems experts who begged her campaign to do so. Stein's post-election effort was largely stymied by Team Trump and various statutes in each of those states. A statewide tally was allowed to move forward in Wisconsin, however only about half of the state's ballots were hand-counted, as municipalities were allowed to carry out their choice of either manual- or machine-tallied "recounts".

After finding an alarming number of uncounted ballots in Racine County precincts during last year's machine "recount" (see documentary filmmaker Lulu Friesdat's alarming coverage of election officials refusing to hand-tally clearly valid votes there during Stein's attempted "recount") the volunteers at WIE filed, and paid for, a public records request to examine the hand-marked paper ballots in a number of those wards.

Recently, they were allowed to review those ballots and, as they feared, many perfectly valid votes had gone uncounted by the optical-scan systems both during the original Election Night tally and the so-called "recount" in counties that used the same faulty computer scanners for the second count, after they had similarly mistallied ballots on Election Night.

I'm joined on today's show by longtime election integrity advocate and WIE's statewide coordinator KAREN McKIM to discuss the group's findings, revealing that the ballot scanning computers used in some 57 municipalities across the state had failed to tally anywhere from 2% to 6% of the ballots with valid Presidential votes in each of the Racine precincts they were allowed to examine a week or so ago. In other WI cities which chose to count by hand during Stein's "recount", McKim tells me, those same scanners had originally missed anywhere from 9% to 30% of valid Presidential votes! All of that in a state which Donald Trump is said to have won last year by less than 1%.

"They were ignored by the voting system entirely," says McKim, "and that's what made the miscount - or should have made the miscount obvious to the election officials even before they certified. You could look at those election results that the voting machines spit out on their face and you could see that hundreds of votes were just missing. If you compared the total number of ballots cast to the total number of presidential votes counted, you should have known --- they should have known --- that two percent of the voters didn't go to the polls so that they could cast a blank ballot. The miscounts were obvious at the time of the canvas, and the county officials did nothing about it."

Nearly a year after the election, in late September of this year, the state Election Commission finally decertified the 20-year old Optech Eagle computer tabulators, after finding that the systems fail to tally votes at all if the "wrong" type of ink is used to make selections by the voter. The same systems are still used, according to Verified Voting, in other states, such as Indiana, Massachusetts and Virginia, and may be used again in Wisconsin next year, as the state decertification allows municipalities to wait until after the November 2018 mid-term elections to replace them.

McKim, however, tells me that those faulty machines don't necessarily explain "the really widely varying error rates from precinct to precinct. ... Why the city of Racine machines were missing more votes than the suburban machines? I don't know. You'd really have to do a forensic investigation to figure that out." But, of course, Stein was not allowed such an investigation in any of the states where she sought them.

If it weren't for Stein's attempted audit, she says, the problems may have gone completely ignored. "The poll workers noticed the missing votes when they closed the polls that night. They noted it on their inspector's reports. The municipal canvas looked at it, and I talked to the Municipal Clerk, and she said, 'I didn't know what we were supposed to do about this, so I certified it and sent it to the County Clerk.' And then the County Clerk looked at those results. She too --- and again, you could not ignore a miscount of that size --- and she just said, 'Well, it's the municipality's job to send me the accurate results. Whatever they send me, it's not my job to correct it.'"

"There is not a county in the state of Wisconsin where the county election officials check accuracy of the vote totals. They all just certify by looking at the computer tape and saying, 'Oh, look who won.'"

McKim, who is a retired quality-assurance manager, says "Every other manager that uses computers, from your grocery store to the bank to the city treasurers, they all know and accept that their computers are going to miscount from time to time. So they have routine procedures in place to check and correct before it's too late. Election administrators are the only computer-dependent managers we allow to get away with not checking the computer output for accuracy. It's insane."

"The county canvass procedures clearly allowed massive miscounts, obvious miscounts, just to go undetected and uncorrected. And that's unacceptable," she added, going on to detail what the group plans to do next, and how computer tabulation systems other than the Optech Eagle, "new or old", should never be trusted for use without citizen oversight.

We also discuss what such oversight should look like, if public Election Night hand-counts are possible in Wisconsin, how citizens elsewhere can carry out similar audits, and much more during today's show...

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

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Guest: Adam Levitin, Georgetown law prof and former CFPB adviser; Also: Kochs buy Time Inc.; GOP Senate must pass corporate tax cuts this week; Trump uses Native American slur at White House ceremony for Navajo...
By Brad Friedman on 11/27/2017 6:00pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A rather extraordinary power battle, turf war, legal dispute is now being played out for control of the independent federal agency formed to protect consumers from fraud and deceptive practices by Wall Street banks and other large corporations following the 2008 global banking crisis and financial meltdown. [Audio link to show follows below.]

On Friday, Richard Cordray, the Obama-appointed Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) resigned to, likely, run for Governor of Ohio. As he did, he named his Chief of Staff Leandra English, as the new Deputy Directory, which means that, according to the 2010 Dodd-Frank law that created the CFPB, English becomes Acting Director of the Bureau.

Nonetheless, hours later on Friday, Donald Trump appointed Mick Mulvaney, his own chief of the White House Office of Management and Budget --- and a long time foe of the CFPB, which he has described as a "sick, sad joke" --- as the new Acting Director of the important consumer agency. The White House claims the authority of a 1998 law, the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, allows the President to make the appointment. A strict reading of the rule of law seems to suggest otherwise. But, today, we now have two different "Acting Directors" of the same federal agency.

We're joined on today's show by Georgetown University law professor and former CFPB advisor ADAM LEVITIN --- who warned about this potential showdown well before it came to pass --- to explain which law takes precedent, why Trump is so desperate to name Mulvaney as Acting Director rather than simply appoint a permanent chief at the CFPB, whether English's federal lawsuit filed on Sunday will prevail, and how the Trump/Mulvaney scheme represents several extraordinary conflicts of interest and a plan for a full regulatory capture of the (theoretically) independent executive agency.

Levitin describes this power battle as unprecedented in the U.S.. "The closest thing I can think of is Bush v. Gore," he tells me. "For two different people claiming a federal office, I can't think of any situation like this in modern times. This seems like it's something out of Game of Thrones, where there are multiple contenders for the same throne."

In other unprecedented Trump Era news today: A hugely profitable media outlet named Meredith Corporation purchased Time Inc. (including TIME magazine, and others) over the weekend, with the help of $650 million from the far-right Koch Brothers; The US Senate is making a desperate run this week for massive tax cuts for hugely profitable corporations (like Meredith and Koch Industries), at the expensive of low- and middle-class Americans who will end up with increased taxes and cuts to social services like health care; And, finally, Trump, during a solemn ceremony for native American Navajo code talkers, used an offensive racial slur in describing Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) as "Pocahontas". It didn't go over well...

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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