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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, September 23, 2018
Sunday KavaNO Toons!
PDiddie's latest weekly toon round-up, including a few blasts from the 30-years-ago toon past!...
Federal Judge Rules GA Vote Systems Insecure, Unveri-fiable. Allows Them in Nov. Anyway: 'BradCast' 9/21/18
Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks; Also: Toxic crisis worsens in Carolinas; Midterm voting begins...
Defining 'Disaster' One Year After Maria, One Week After Florence: 'BradCast' 9/20/18
Guest: Disaster historian Scott Knowles; Also: Kavanaugh's accuser is willing to testify next week under certain conditions...
'Green News Report' 9/20/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Hurricane Florence floodwaters pose toxic public health threat; NC begins long road of recovery; PLUS: Trump Interior Dept. formally rolls back still more methane regulations...
Previous GNRs: 9/18/18 - 9/13/18 - Archives...
GOP's Panic to Confirm Kavanaugh 'ASAP':
'BradCast' 9/19/18
Also: Toxic disaster begins after Florence; AL SoS sued for Twitter blocking; Bad news for 'dark money', good news for voters...
Kavanaugh Nomination Falling Apart: 'BradCast' 9/18/18
Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton; Also: Florence fallout made worst by Trump tariffs; Judge allows use of GA's 100% unverifiable touchscreen vote systems in Nov...
'Green News Report' 9/18/18
Florence wreaks havoc, death in 4 states; Strongest storm of year (so far) slams Philippines, Hong Kong; PLUS: Aftermath of Boston-area natural gas pipeline explosions...
'I Believe Christine': 'BradCast' 9/17/18
Guest-host Angie Coiro w/ guest Chris Hedges on his new book; Also: some thoughts on the sexual assault allegation against SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh...
Sunday Gale Force Toons
There are more storms and responses to them than we can possibly keep track of over this past week -- and in PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
Progressive Wins, Losses in NY End Primaries That Redefined Dems: 'BradCast' 9/14/18
Guest: David Dayen; Also: Florence flooding, nuke threat; Manafort guilty plea; MA NatGas explosions; 10 years after the crash...
'Disaster's at the Doorstep':
'BradCast' 9/13/18
RI primary results; NY registration probs; Florence rolls ashore; Olivia threatens HI dam; Trump denies Maria death toll; Fires explode in MA homes...
'Green News Report' 9/13/18
Florence impacts could be felt for weeks; 10 million also threatened by Super Typhoon Mangkhut; Trump releases methane; PLUS: U.N. chief warns climate at tipping point...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Also: NV's primary election failures much worse than previously known; Mystery group seeking copies of MI 2016 Presidential ballots revealed...
By Brad Friedman on 8/29/2018 6:57pm PT  

On today's BradCast, results, as reported by computer tabulators, from Tuesday's primary elections in Florida and Arizona and primary runoff elections in Oklahoma. Also, more details on what went so terribly wrong in Maricopa County, AZ which kept many voters from being able to cast a vote at all. Nevada's June primary disasters were far worse than reported. And an answer to at least one mystery regarding 2016 Presidential ballots in Michigan. [Audio link to complete show is posted at end of article.]

First up, among the noteworthy results we cover from yesterday's midterm primary elections...

  • In Florida, progressive Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum came from seemingly out of nowhere for an upset win of the Democratic nomination for Governor. If the Bernie Sanders-endorsed Democrat defeats the Donald Trump-endorsed Rep. Ron DeSantis in November, he'd become the state's first African-American Governor. That, as the current two-term Governor Rick Scott won his primary to vie for incumbent U.S. Senator Bill Nelson's seat, in what will likely become the most expensive U.S. Senate race this year (and, possibly, in U.S. history).
  • In Arizona, establishment favorite Rep. Martha McSally held off two challengers from the hard right to win the GOP nomination to fill the seat being vacated by the state's retiring U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R). She'll face off against Democratic nominee Rep. Kyrsten Sinema in November for a seat that Dems believe they may be able to flip from "red" to "blue", even in a state like Arizona, in a very anti-Trump year. And Republican Gov. Greg Ducey --- who will soon name a replacement for the state's other U.S. Senate seat, vacated by the death of Sen. John McCain --- will now face off against David Garcia, a Latino and former educator who won the Democratic nomination for Governor, in a year in which teachers have walked out in protest of education funding cuts in so-called "red" states Arizona and Oklahoma. (Also of note, Republican Sec. of State Michelle Reagan lost her primary for re-election to the hard-right Steve Gaynor who is calling for English-only elections in AZ. Democratic nominee Katie Hobbs should see an opening there in the race to become the state's top election official)
  • And, speaking of teachers and Oklahoma, it was a "bloodbath" in the primary runoff elections for incumbent GOP state legislators who voted against recent tax hikes to pay for new education funding. Just 4 of the 19 Republican state legislators who voted against the tax hike to give teachers a long-overdue raise have survived to run for re-election on this November's ballot.

Then, we turn to the massive problems at polling places in Maricopa County (Phoenix), AZ on Tuesday, as at least 62 polling places were unable to open for hours in the morning. It now appears that the reason was electronic pollbooks which were not properly set up, or set up at all, or which couldn't get Internet access. That effectively prevented voters from being checked in to vote on the County's hand-marked paper ballot voting systems (which use computer optical-scanners to tally votes.)

Remarkably, the County's Republican-majority Board of Supervisors rejected the recommendations of both Sec. of State Michelle Reagan (R) and Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes (D) to seek a court order to keep polling places open for an extra two hours at precincts which failed to open on time on Tuesday.

As to the electronic pollbook disasters that kept them from opening in the first place, Fontes blames an IT contractor for not supplying as many personnel as promised for polling place installation and tech support. The contractor, Insight Enterprises, blames Fontes for being under prepared. What's clear for the moment is that voters --- potentially thousands of them --- were prevented from voting entirely because, once again, a voting jurisdiction has relied on oft-failed, mission-critical computer systems, supported by private vendors, to run our public elections without backup plans, such as paper pollbooks in this case.

We also learn this week that the failures reported during and shortly after Nevada's primary elections in June were much worse than officials and the private voting system vendor admitted to the public when the state's new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems failed across the state. A new report from the Reno Gazette-Journal, based on public records requests, finds that complaints about candidates missing from ballots and selections already filled in on the screen for some voters, were far more numerous than previously known. Nonetheless, election officials in the state are standing by their vendor (Dominion Voting, which took over for Sequoia Voting Systems) and, as the paper notes, parroting back talking points almost word-for-word from the voting machine manufacturer in hopes of minimizing the massive problems as little more than "human error" that did not effect reported results. (Sound familiar?) Evidence reported by the RGJ strongly suggests otherwise.

Finally, with the 22-month federal requirement for retaining all ballots and other elections materials from the 2016 Presidential election ending next week (September 8th), a voting rights group now known to be allied with the Democratic Party has requested copies of all 2016 general election ballots from the state of Michigan. The massive, and expensive, public records request should prevent the ballots, in that state at least, from being destroyed for now, after an attempt to hand-count them by Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein was ended by a Republican court challenge in 2016. That, despite Trump's stunning, if unverified, upset win in the state by just over 10,000 votes and some 75,000 ballots said to have contained no vote for President at all, according to the computer-tabulated results. No such records request has yet been filed in either Wisconsin or Pennsylvania, however, despite the fact that had just three votes at each precinct in those three states been recorded for Hillary Clinton instead of Trump, she, not he, would now be President of the United States...

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

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern on that and WV GOP's state Supreme Court coup; Also: Massive voting system failures in AZ primary...
By Brad Friedman on 8/28/2018 6:22pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Details on the extraordinary court ruling out of North Carolina on Monday, and the judicial coup being staged in West Virginia. But first, voters went to the polls for Tuesday's primary elections in Arizona and Florida and in Oklahoma for primary runoff elections. It did not go well in Arizona. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Maricopa County (Phoenix)'s paper ballot optical-scan computer systems failed in at least 100 precincts, according to the County Recorder. Many polling places were closed entirely this morning, and it was nearly noon before the systems were said to finally be working in all precincts. It's still unclear what the precise failure was, but the new County Recorder Adrian Fontes (who won his election after the previous, long-time Recorder was booted out for shutting polling places during the 2016 Primaries), tied it to pre-election tests that failed on Monday, and then a lack of contractors from the voting machine company (Dominion Voting) on hand to properly set up the systems before polls were to open today. "The contractor responsible for the voting machines was supposed to provide more than 100 technicians to assist with issues, but only 70 were available," the Arizona Republic reports Fontes as telling them at a news conference this morning. If we learn more, of course, we'll share it on tomorrow's show along with noteworthy problems and results in all three states holding elections today.

Then, following up on a story that broke minutes before airtime on Monday, we're joined today by Slate's excellent legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN to detail the extraordinary ruling issued by a three judge federal court panel finding all of North Carolina's U.S. House districts --- for a second time --- to be partisan gerrymanders in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Remarkably, the judges are considering ordering new maps to be drawn up before this November's elections, after already having found last January that Republicans had unlawfully gerrymandered the state's U.S. House districts. That ruling, however, was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court which punted in June by ordering the lower court to review matters of standing. After having done so, the three-judge panel found the same Constitutional infirmities.

"The real villain here, in a sense --- aside from the Republicans, who obviously drew these incredibly gerrymandered maps --- is the Supreme Court and Justice Anthony Kennedy," says Stern. "A virtually identical ruling came down in January, at which point the US Supreme Court could have and should have acted on this question of partisan gerrymandering. Instead, the Supreme Court punted [and] sent this case back down for reconsideration. Now the [lower] court has reached the same conclusion it did in January."

The map in question was the one drawn up in 2016 after the state's previous GOP-drawn map, used in 2012 and 2014, was found to have been an unlawful racial gerrymander. So, Stern explains, the federal judges in North Carolina seem to have had enough and may now order new maps "on this incredibly compressed timetable where the election is looming" in just over 70 days, ballots need to go out to overseas voters 45 days in advance, and the state's primaries were already been held in May.

The unconstitutional maps have resulted in a wildly unbalanced 10 to 3 GOP majority in the state's Congressional delegations, despite North Carolina's status as a very divided swing state which narrowly elected Obama in 2008, Trump in 2016, and a Democrat to be its Governor in that same election. If the matter is appealed to SCOTUS by the state (as it almost certainly will be), the Supremes could deadlock 4 to 4, if Justice Kennedy's seat has yet to be filled, and the lower court ruling would stand. We could be in for a lot of chaos ahead (as if we need any more this year.)

Stern also explains the astonishing situation in West Virginia, where that state's Republican-majority House of Delegates recently impeached all four sitting members of the state's Supreme Court. (Its 5th member had already resigned after been charged with a felony crime.) The move, Stern reports, was timed in such a way to avoid allowing voters to replace the justices at the ballot box this year. That means the previously 3 to 2 Democratic-leaning court may soon become a 5 to 0 Republican court, and stay that way through 2020. Following impeachment trials of the justices in the state Senate, any vacancies will be filled by the appointments of Trump-loving Republican Gov. Jim Justice, a Democrat when he ran and won the Governor's race in 2016, but who flipped parties shortly thereafter.

"There are no good guys, per se, in this story," Stern notes. However, it serves as yet another example of Republicans blatantly hoping to pack the courts, and could prove to be another useful example that Democrats could cite in the future. If they ever re-take control of the U.S. House, Senate and White House, they'll be able to cite such moves when and if they decide to move to add seats to the U.S. Supreme Court in order to restore a majority that should have been theirs, until Senate Republicans stole a vacant seat in 2017 after holding it open for nearly a year following the early 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Speaking of that stolen U.S. Supreme Court, Stern also offers his thoughts on whether Senate Democrats will be able to block --- or even stall --- the seating of Donald Trump's second nominee to the Court. Judge Brett Kavanaugh's Senate Judiciary Confirmation hearings are currently scheduled to begin next week and, Stern argues, "he owes an explanation as to why he thinks it's perfectly valid and legitimate and acceptable to be nominated by a racist and openly corrupted President to the Supreme Court."

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report on, among other things, the record rainfall in Hawaii following Hurricane Lane over the weekend, and the complicated climate legacy of the late Republican U.S. Senator and former GOP Presidential nominee, John McCain.

(And, on a related note, next week will be our 900th episode of the GNR! If you have not contributed lately to our efforts to continue connecting the climate change dots over your public airwaves for the past 10 years --- along with all else that we do --- please consider doing so now by stopping by BradBlog.com/Donate! Thanks! We rely only on you to keep going! But, don't do it for me! Do it for Desi! Pretty please?)

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

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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: Conrad Schneider of Clean Air Task Force; Also: Presidency collapsing; Hawaii v. Hurricane Lane; McCain's cancer battle nears end; GA county nixes poll closures; Repub wins U.S. House Special Election...
By Brad Friedman on 8/24/2018 6:36pm PT  

Before we get to our guest on today's BradCast, a number of news items (and that may be an understatement) of note. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

  • First, the latest in the quickening collapse of the Trump Presidency, as his darkest week gets darker by the day, now including the Chief Financial Officer of the Trump Organization reportedly being granted immunity to cooperate with federal prosecutors in their ongoing probe(s) of all manner of criminality by Donald J. Trump and his 2016 campaign;
  • Hurricane Lane is already wreaking havoc in Hawaii as it very slowly sweeps near the islands, dumping catastrophic amounts of rain (35 inches in 48 hours on the Big Island!) in its wake; And, speaking of Hawaii, listeners answer our call in response to a question we had yesterday regarding a slang Hawaiian term used by Sen. Mazie Hirono's (D-HI) in cancelling her planned meeting with Trump's U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, charging that "an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal matter, does not deserve the courtesy of a meeting with his nominee --- purposely selected to protect, as we say in Hawaii, his own okole";
  • Senator John McCain's family announced on Friday that he will no longer accept medical treatment in his year long battle against terminal brain cancer. We discuss, a bit, what that could mean for Trump's Supreme Court nominee in advance of Arizona's midterm primaries, with Gov. Doug Ducey (R), who would appoint McCain's successor, on the ballot next Tuesday. Also, we note, the President's appalling recent behavior towards the ailing Senator;
  • In Ohio's 12th Congressional District, Troy Balderson (R) is finally officially declared the winner over Danny O'Connor (D) in the U.S. House Special election held nearly three weeks ago. Balderson is said to have won by a razor-thin 1,680 votes out of more than 200,000 votes cast on the 100% unverifiable touchscreen systems used on Election Day in the previously very Republican district. The margin is just over the amount that would have triggered an automatic, state-sponsored "recount". The two candidates will face off yet again in November's general election, when a number of factors, as we discuss, could tip the advantage to O'Connor;
  • And, in Georgia, as we predicted on yesterday's BradCast, the Randolph County Board of Elections quickly rejected a proposal to shutter 7 of 9 precincts in the majority African-American county in advance of the November midterms. The scheme, which used the pretext of violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), was proffered by a consultant hired by the County at the recommendation of GOP Sec. of State Brian Kemp. The plan had drawn national outrage in a year when Kemp is running for Governor against Stacey Abrams, who could become the nation's first female African-American chief of state;

Then, as the nation is justifiably distracted by a Presidency quickly spiraling out of control, his policies continue to move forward nonetheless, including this week's major new (if little covered) Trump EPA proposal to "repeal and replace" Obama's landmark 2015 "Clean Power Plan", which would otherwise reduce deadly and climate change causing emissions from coal-fired power plants with something the Administration is calling the "Affordable Clean Energy Rule". By the Administration's own admissions, the Trump scheme would lead annually to at least 1,400 premature American deaths over Obama's plan, and result in tens of thousands of news cases of respiratory illness each year.

CONRAD SCHNEIDER, former U.S. Dept. of Justice trial attorney and current Advocacy Director at the non-profit Clean Air Task Force and lecturer on Environmental Law and Policy at Maine's Bowdoin College, joins us to explain the dangers --- and coal-industry corruption --- of what he calls the EPA's new "Dirty Power Plan".

"Thousands and thousands of Americans would die prematurely under the Trump plan whose lives would have been saved under the Obama plan," Schneider warns. "And that's just the tip of a pyramid of health effects that include hospital visits, emergency room visits, asthma attacks, children missing school days and adults missing work as a result of the pollution that would occur here" in what he describes as "just the latest of [Trump's] efforts to try to resuscitate the coal industry."

But, he also cautions, "this political promise" to the industry "runs headlong into the requirements of the Clean Air Act" and so, Schneider predicts, the plan may well face problems in court, where he promises, "we'll be arguing that as much as they might want to throw a lifeline to coal, the Clean Air Act is not the appropriate venue to do that."

"What we are doing here is we are fiddling while the planet burns. We're fighting things in court, when we really don't have the time to waste," he tells me, as we discuss why it is that the Trump Administration's many attempts at reversing Obama Administration environmental protections --- from water rules, to chemical plant safety regulations, to the Keystone XL pipeline (to name only a few from the past few weeks) --- continue to be blocked, overturned or delayed, by one federal court after another...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Or, The 'Conservative' Con Continues as the World Burns...
By Brad Friedman on 7/24/2018 6:25pm PT  

It's remarkable that Democrats --- and the mainstream corporate media --- have allowed Republicans to get away with claiming to be "conservatives" who support states rights, small government and local control for so many years. As it turns out, the exact opposite is usually true. That becomes abundantly clear whenever and wherever the GOP takes the reins of government power. We've got several examples of that, once again, on today's BradCast. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

As global climate change continues to shatter heat records across the country and planet, the death toll continues to rise along with temperatures and more intense, unexpected (if long-predicted) extreme weather. On Tuesday, at least 74 were killed in sudden wildfires in Greece. That toll, which is expected to rise, comes on the heels of hundreds killed by recent record rain, flooding and accompanying landslides in Japan, and at least 77 dead amid all-time record heat there over the past week alone.

Heat records are being shattered every day of late here in the U.S. as well, including in Phoenix where it topped out at a record 115 degrees on Monday, and where airplanes were grounded for several days last summer thanks to record warmth. This year, however, with the help of Trump's FAA, American Airlines has come up with a way to avoid being grounded despite new record temps. They've just raised the maximum temps under which their planes are allowed to take off! What could go wrong?

At the same time, the Trump Administration is now challenging the state of California's right to set their own fuel efficiency standards for cars, despite an agreement with the Obama Administration that had, with the approval of automakers, established a uniform nationwide standard. The state's right to set its own environmental standards at all --- as established over nearly 50 years under the federal Clean Air Act --- will now, reportedly, be revoked by Trump's EPA who, apparently, have no use for states rights (at least when that's inconvenient to GOP corporate funders.) Let the law suits begin continue.

Similarly, so-called "conservatives" in Texas are attempting to use Big Government state law to preempt efforts by local governments and voters in Austin, San Antonio and Dallas, who hope to establish their own rules for paid sick-leave. Some 40% of Texas workers, according to a recent study, are currently prevented from taking a paid day off when either they or their children get sick. The state's Big Government-loving Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton (facing his own securities fraud indictments) oppose the city measures, just as they have in the past when voters in local jurisdictions have attempted to ban fracking, raise minimum wage requirements or even ban plastic bags.

There is, however, a solution. We can all try --- try, at least --- to vote the liars and hypocrites out of office this November. In Nevada, for example, voters are now said to be on the verge of potentially electing the first female majority state legislature in our nation's history. To pull it off, however, and to flip local, state and Congressional seats from "red" to "blue" this year, voters will have to turn out and actually be allowed to cast a vote.

A new study from the Brennan Center for Justice suggests that may be more difficult than many currently appreciate. Their analysis finds that voters are being purged from the rolls at a record pace, particularly in jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination, where such procedures previously required federal preclearance under the Voting Rights Act (until the GOP majority on the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the landmark 1965 law in 2013.)

So, with just over 100 days remaining until this year's crucial midterm elections, please CHECK YOUR VOTER REGISTRATION to make sure you are still properly registered! Don't wait until its too late!

But, we close today with at least a bit of encouraging news. Despite the stolen GOP majority on the U.S. Supreme Court recently blocking lower federal court rulings finding U.S. House and state legislative seats had been unlawfully gerrymandered by partisans in several states, a number of statewide measures to end partisan gerrymandering will most likely be on the ballot this November. Unless, that is, so-called "conservative" Republicans block the so-far wildly successful, bi-partisan grassroots initiatives in states like Michigan, Missouri, Colorado and Utah...

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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...

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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...

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Teachers walk out in AZ, CO; Cosby found guilty; GOP Senate majority threatened; Pompeo confirmed as Sec. of State; Jackson withdraws as VA nom; EPA's Pruitt ducks responsibility in House; Macron slams Trump...
By Brad Friedman on 4/26/2018 6:38pm PT  

At long last, we're beginning to see shades, shadows, clouds of accountability rolling in across D.C. and even elsewhere in the country. Many of those clouds seemed to roll in all at once today for some reason, but we cover as many as we can on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

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

  • Huge explosions, a raging fire, and 10-mile evacuations at another oil refinery today, this time in Wisconsin;
  • Bill Cosby is found guilty on three felony counts of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman and now faces the rest of his life in prison;
  • Tens of thousands of teachers walked out in Arizona and Colorado on Thursday, demanding increased funding for education after years of slashed state budgets to help pay for tax cuts to the rich and corporations;
  • A spate of new polling suggest Senate Republicans may face a storm of accountability this November, with encouraging numbers for Democratic candidates in at least three different states --- Arizona, Tennessee and Nevada --- where they hope to flip "red" seats to "blue" to regain majority control of the upper chamber of Congress this fall. (And also in a fourth state, if you include Texas, where Sen. Ted Cruz' challenger Rep. Beto O'Rourke is now within "too close to call" striking distance, according to new polling, even as the Democrat is refusing corporate and super PAC funding, even from billionaire Tom Steyer);
  • No accountability to date, however, for the anti-gay, anti-Muslim, anti-environment, pro-war CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who was narrowly confirmed in the U.S. Senate today as Donald Trump's new Secretary of State;
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to approve a bi-partisan bill to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller from being fired by Trump, though obstructionism from GOP leadership in the full Senate and U.S. House will likely prevent the legislation from going any further;
  • Admiral Ronny Jackson, Trump's personal White House physician and his nominee to head the Dept. of Veterans Affairs finally withdrew his name from consideration following a host of damning allegations from current and former White House and military co-workers unearthed by Sen. Jon Tester (MT), the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee;
  • Trump's wildly corrupt and scandal-plagued EPA chief Scott Pruitt finally faced a bit of accountability, at least from Dems, as he testified before two separate House Committees on Thursday and refused to answer many direct questions, threw much of his staff under the bus, and denied responsibility for the mountain of personal corruption scandals he continues to face --- even as bi-partisan calls for his resignation continue;
  • And, finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with more on Pruitt's anti-climate perfidy, French President Emmanuel Macron's blistering swipes at President Trump's environmental record during a joint session of Congress, and much more.

Yes, it was another insanely busy news day, but we gotcha covered, in one fast moving hour today. Buckle up!...

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P.S. We will be off tomorrow, but don't panic! We're back on Monday, as usual!

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Also: Mick Mulvaney's stunning admission and Mother Jones' Rebecca Leber on Scott Pruitt's new 'secret science' scam at EPA...
By Brad Friedman on 4/25/2018 6:23pm PT  

On today's BradCast: More encouraging signs for Democrats following special elections in both Arizona and New York on Tuesday. And more troubling news from Donald Trump's never-ending cavalcade of corporate cabinet corruption. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

All signs suggest that a potential Blue Wave continues to build for Democrats in the Trump Era, even as the party reportedly lost a U.S. House special election in the very "red" 8th Congressional District west of Phoenix on Tuesday. After Maricopa County, AZ's new, even-more computerized polling place election system broke down in several precincts --- a potentially ominous sign for the much-larger, upcoming mid-terms --- former Republican State Senator Debbie Lesko is said to have defeated first time Democratic candidate Dr. Hiral Tipirneni by just 5 points, in a district that Trump won by 21 points in 2016.

The previously deep "red" House district in a longtime "red" state, had been represented for some 15 years by GOP Rep. Trent Franks, until he stepped down amid sexual misconduct allegations last December. While the Dems narrowly lost the race on Tuesday, thanks in part to big spending by national Republicans (and none by national Dems), election analysts regard the stunning 15+ point swing from "red" to "blue" as one of the strongest signs to date that Republicans in the House and Senate may be in very big trouble this fall.

Similarly, in New York, special elections on Tuesday for several state legislative seats resulted in one Assembly seat flipping from R to D for the first time in four decades, and in Democrats winning a majority of seats in the state Senate for the first time in years. However, one Democrat who caucuses with Republicans in that chamber means that the GOP will remain in control of the Senate until at least the end of the current session.

Meanwhile, back in D.C., Donald Trump's swamp of corruption continues apace. Interim Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Mick Mulvaney reportedly told a crowd of some 1,300 banking executives and lobbyists yesterday that they need to keep donating to the GOP if they wanted still more regulations gutted and oversight trashed. He appears to have admitted --- out loud --- that as a Congressman, he would only consider meeting with lobbyists who had donated to him. (And, many in the financial sector, which the CFPB was mandated to regulate on behalf of consumers after the 2008 global banking crisis, did exactly that during Mulvaney 's time as a House Rep. from South Carolina.)

But it's scandal-plagued Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt who seemingly continues to lead the corruption cavalcade in Trump's corporatized Executive Agency lagoon. Pruitt is not letting the mountain of scandals, corruption revelations and calls for his resignation stop him from doing the bidding of his fossil fuel industry funders at the EPA.

In a ceremony for fellow climate science deniers on Tuesday night, ironically trumpeting a supposed new era of EPA "transparency" as media and scientists were locked out of the event, Pruitt signed a proposed new rule barring what he describes as the use of "secret science" in the EPA rule-making process.

We're joined today by Mother Jones' environmental reporter REBECCA LEBER to discuss what the anti-science Pruitt actually means by that, what this deceptive new rule would actually do if finalized, and why, as she argues, this scheme may be his "most destructive move yet".

"What Pruitt has done here is propose limiting the studies that the EPA can use in crafting regulations. Those studies would have to have data that is publicly available --- which sounds great on its face. Who doesn't want more transparency? But there is a lot of complications here that effectively limit the pool drastically and really could conceivably cut out our best available science showing that air pollution and water pollution is a health problem," Leber tells me. "That's because these studies typically rely on medical records that are, by law, forced to be private and also may include proprietary information that academic institutions and even industry don't want to be public."

Nonetheless, hiding behind false claims of "transparency" in science, Pruitt is now hoping to severely restrict the use of science and, in fact, rewriting decades-old rules for the use of science itself in public government. No wonder Trump prefers not to fire him, as Leber explains, no matter how wildly corrupt Pruitt is actually proven to be...

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...and many more otherworldly reminders of the importance of elections...
By Brad Friedman on 4/19/2018 6:30pm PT  

Several stories --- pretty much all of them --- on today's BradCast, serve as trenchant reminders of the importance of elections, particularly with majority control of the U.S. Senate now hanging in the balance in this November's mid-terms. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the stories both covered and elucidated upon today...

  • Former prosecutor and New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani joins Donald Trump's legal defense team hoping to "negotiate an end" to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Team Trump;
  • After a months-long struggle on Thursday, the U.S. Senate barely managed to confirm the wholly unqualified Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK, pictured above), a long-time, wildly partisan, non-scientist climate science denier to head NASA, the $20 billion federal agency which, among other things, tracks key climate change-related data for the world;
  • Vulnerable Democratic U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota announces she will vote in favor of Trump's nominee for Secretary of State, CIA Director Mike Pompeo (also a climate denier), seemingly all but assuring Pompeo's otherwise still-troubled confirmation process;
  • GOP "voter fraud" fraudster, Kansas Sec. of State and gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach is held in contempt of federal court for a second time, receiving an humiliating drubbing from a George W. Bush-appointed federal judge for repeatedly and "disingenuously" misleading the court in a major voter suppression case in the state, affecting tens of thousands of voters;
  • The Republican-controlled state legislature in Arizona attempts a sneaky maneuver to try and prevent voters from filling a vacated U.S. Senate seat for as long as two and a half years, should one occur, as Sen. John McCain battles brain cancer. (They now appear to be backing off the scheme.);
  • And, in Texas, a new poll finds Rep. Beto O'Rourke, the Democratic challenger to Republican Senator Ted Cruz, now within the poll's margin of error to unseat Cruz in what had previously been the very "red" Lone Star State;

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report as power was knocked out again across the entire island of Puerto Rico, more climate liability suits are filed against two more oil companies and the state of Florida, and the world prepares for Earth Day this weekend, with a focus on fighting the pollution scourge of plastic...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Howie Klein of 'Down With Tyranny!'; Also: Kushner loses his clearance and more GOP sex/hypocrisy scandals for 2018 candidates...
By Brad Friedman on 2/27/2018 6:08pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Democrats appear confident that they are heading toward a "Blue Wave" election in the 2018 mid-terms. Then again, they were also confident they'd soundly defeat Donald Trump for the Presidency in 2016. And the progressive/establishment rift that developed during the party's 2016 primary has, apparently, not gone away. [Audio link for show follows below.]

But first up today, the President's son-in-law and top adviser, Jared Kushner has reportedly lost his Top Secret/SCI-level security clearance, along with a bunch of other White House staffers, after failing to receive a permanent security clearance in the more-than-a-year since he's been serving.

Next, with one disturbing sex (and hypocrisy) scandal after another plaguing Republican candidates for office (as well as the President of the United States), we add several more such scandals to the list today. Among them, a GOP U.S. House candidate in Pennsylvania whose husband says she threatened to kill him in a drunken rage. That, after the woman was revealed to have had an affair with married GOP Congressman Tim Murphy in a neighboring PA district. After text messages revealed he advised her to get an abortion, he eventually resigned from the House last year.

Then there's the Republican candidate for Illinois' state Legislature who is said to have asked the party's leading state Attorney General candidate recently whether she was a "lesbo", before repeatedly using the n-word in front of the woman who happens to be a Harvard Law grad and former Miss America, as well as an African-American.

And, let's not forget the minister in Arizona running in the GOP primary today for the Special Election to take the disgraced GOP Rep. Trent Franks' vacated seat. After the far right Franks resigned from Congress last year following his own sexual misconduct allegations, former AZ State Senator and family values minister Steve Montenegro led the pack of some 18 GOPers vying for the nomination in the very right-wing Congressional district west of Phoenix --- at least until salacious text messages with a legislative staffer were surfaced just days ago.

So, yes, the Republicans have a lot of problems with their candidates of late, but Democrats are having a lot of problems with each other. The turmoil between the party's aging conservative establishment wing and its growing progressive wing have now begun to rear its ugly head again, after the intraparty rift that grew out of the 2016 Presidential primary between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

Late last week the conservative Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) unleashed a remarkable attack against Laura Moser, one of the more progressive Democratic candidates, among eight, vying for the party's nomination in next Tuesday's U.S. House primary contest in the Texas' 7th Congressional District near Houston. And, over the weekend, the delegates at the annual California Democratic Party convention failed to endorse 4-term U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein in her reelection bid, where she is being challenged by progressive state Senate leader Kevin de León. De León received 54% of the delegate votes to Feinstein's 37%. Neither reached the 60% required for an official state party endorsement.

We're joined today to discuss all of this from the Democratic side --- as the primary season finally gets officially underway --- by progressive advocate and Congressional elections expert HOWIE KLEIN, creator of the Down With Tyranny! blog and co-founder of the BlueAmericaPAC, which supports progressive candidates with small personal donations.

Klein (whose BlueAmericaPAC supports a different progressive in the race, Dr. Jason Westin) explains the DCCC's stunning attack on Moser in Texas late last week, while warning that there are many more such attacks to come against progressive candidates this year by the conservative DCCC. "They always, 100% of the time, support conservatives from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party," he charges. "That's what they do. They always try to undercut progressives."

"They're not more likely to win. The only time they can win is in a wave election," Klein argues, while responding to the DCCC's defense that they are only favoring candidates more likely to defeat Republicans this November. "The problem with these DCCC candidates is that they can't hold the seats. They get defeated in the next midterm. And that happens over and over and over again, and the DCCC can't understand that."

Klein also speaks to what he sees as both the reason for and solution to the DCCC's right-wing bent --- (for which he blames Democratic Congressional leader Nancy Pelosi who "used to be a progressive") --- and whether bitterly divided Democratic voters will find a way to come together this year once the primaries are over, in order to retake majorities in one or both houses of Congress.

He describes the current rift as an in "important ideological fight," and claims, "It's not a split between Bernie people and Hillary people in any way. It's an ideological battle of people who believe in what Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt believed in, as opposed to people who are conservative Democrats who are frightened and afraid of innovation."

Speaking of which, Klein then offers his thoughts on why California's progressive Democrats are turning on the conservative Feinstein this year and how that may effect the 84-year old Senator's hopes of winning a 5th term in November. Related to that point, we also discuss the unpredictable "top two" primary system now used in California, where candidates from all parties run at the same time against each other, before the top two vote-getters --- from either the same or different parties --- then go on to compete head-to-head in November's general election...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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