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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, March 24, 2019
Insider 'Backdoor' Found During 'Public Hack Test' of Vaunted Swiss Online Vote System: 'BradCast' 3/22/19
Guest: CyberSec journallist Kim Zetter; ALSO BREAKING: Mueller delivers report to A.G....
WI GOP Power-Grab Undone by Judge; Military 'Readiness' Undermined by Trump: 'BradCast' 3/21/19
Also: 'Historic' U.S. flooding; New Zealand bans 'weapons of war'; Trump's new arms race...
'Green News Report' 3/21/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Staggering losses in Midwest flooding; Houston chemical fire warning; EPA chief delays climate action as 2020 Dems demand it; PLUS: 'Holy Grail' ruling in WY oil, gas drilling case...
Previous GNRs: 3/19/19 - 3/14/19 - Archives...
FL Repubs Undermining Ex-Felon Voting Rights Amend-ment: 'BradCast' 3/20/19
Guest: ACLU Florida's Micah Kubic; Also: Beto on voter suppression; Abrams says she 'won' in GA; U.S. judge blocks oil, gas drilling in WY...
Under Water, Under the Gun, Under Pressure:
'BradCast' 3/19/19
Climate catastrophe in 'Trump County'; Also: Dem 2020 candidates seek to abolish Electoral College; DST haters strike back; Much more...
'Green News Report' 3/19/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Devastating flooding in upper Midwest; Cyclone kills as many as 1,000 in Mozambique; Two toxic refinery fires in Houston; PLUS: The kids' Climate Strike heard 'round the world...
Previous GNRs: 3/14/19 - 3/12/19 - Archives...
Court News (Good and Bad) on Gerrymanders, Voting, Guns, Abortion: 'BradCast' 3/18/19
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Record Midwest flooding; Beto, Bernie and Buttigieg; The definitive truth on Daylight Saving Time...
Sunday 'Hate Ain't Funny' Toons
And neither is ignorance. Don't miss PDiddie's latest, disturbing, weekly toon collection...
Looming Disaster?: Dems Adding Online Voting for 2020 Caucuses: 'BradCast' 3/15/19
Guest: Journo Steven Rosenfeld; Also: Kids strike for climate action around globe; Trumpers against unverifiable touchscreen voting...
Congress Takes Baby Steps to Claw Back Powers, Rebuke Trump: 'BradCast' 3/14/19
Also: Beto jumps in to 2020; Still more evidence WI's GOP Photo ID voting restrictions were meant only to prevent Dems from voting...
'Green News Report' 3/14/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
GAO: Admin climate policy rollbacks wasting billions: Air pollution and autism; Climate change and property values; PLUS: Is activism pushing a shift in the fossil fuel industry?...
Previous GNRs: 3/12/19 - 3/7/19 - Archives...
Dems Introduce Bill to 'Rebuild Main St. on Wall St.'s Dime': 'BradCast' 3/13/19
Guest: Public Citizen's Susan Harley; Also: CA Guv halts death penalty; Manafort gets 7 years, new charges in NY; Green New Deal already paying off...
Impeachment Off the Table? Again?; Also: The Venezuela Scam: 'BradCast' 3/12/19
Plus: NY AG finally probing Trump bank fraud; Feds finally probing GOP election fraud in NC; Kids plan climate strikes in 90 countries...
'Green News Report' 3/12/19
Teens plan global day of strikes for climate action; Trump's oil/gas lobbyist for Interior; WY coal gets bailout; PLUS: Bernie in 1989 was right about climate coverage in 2018...
NY Reviews Vote System After Computer 'Ballot Stuffing' Flaw: 'BradCast' 3/11/19
Guest: Georgia Tech's Richard DeMillo on similar systems in GA, OH, PA; Also: Trump to slash Medicare in new budget; Bernie's 1987 climate change warnings...
Sunday 'Spring Forward' Toons
You may have lost an hour over the weekend, but PDiddie's latest toon collection may help put a spring back in your step...
54 Yrs After 'Bloody Sunday', Repubs Vow to Block Voting Rights: 'BradCast' 3/7/19
McConnell won't allow Senate vote on HR-1 or VRA fix; Also: Hand-marked paper ballots for PA County!; Cohen sues Trump Org; GOPers re-thinking climate denial...
'Green News Report' 3/7/19
Toxic coal waste in 39 states' water; Plastic in deepest ocean; Former military officials slam Trump on climate; PLUS: Senate Dems go on climate offense...
The 'Shadow Impeachment' of Donald J. Trump: 'BradCast' 3/6/19
Guest: Philly's Will Bunch; Also: Trump blows up federal and foreign trade deficit; House Dems seek vote suppression docs from GA's GOP Guv, Sec. of State...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: Crippling winter weather, Trump shutdown and probe news, CA's PG&E to file for bankruptcy protection, L.A. teachers on strike...
By Brad Friedman on 1/14/2019 6:52pm PT  

On today's BradCast, it's another one of those impossible Mondays catching up with a weekend full of news in the Trump Era, and the seemingly impossible fight on behalf of voters who seek actually verifiable election results (which require HAND-MARKED paper ballots, according to a new letter from two dozen computer science, security and voting system experts.) [Audio link to show posted at end of article.]

Before we get to our guest today on that crucial issue which threatens elections oversight from Georgia to Los Angeles, a bunch of news and quick headlines from across the country. Among those headlines...

Winter weather crippled much of nation over the weekend and into the beginning of this week, from heavy rains and flash floods in recently fire-ravaged California, to monster snowfall in the Midwest, to icy conditions in the East. The latter succeeded in shutting down even parts of the federal government in D.C. that weren't already closed due to Donald Trump's continuing partial federal government shutdown --- now the longest in U.S. history --- to demand $5.7 billion for his promised, pointless and ill-considered southern border wall.

Decidedly not shutdown in D.C. this week are disturbing new revelations, as reported by New York Times late Friday, that the FBI had opened a counterintelligence probe of the President of the United States in 2017, to determine whether Trump was either a witting or unwitting agent of Russia. That, as Trump's Attorney General nominee William Barr, on Monday, released his prepared opening remarks in advance of his confirmation hearings this week in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Despite his previous criticism of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe and his argument that Presidents cannot be investigated for certain things, Barr now says the Special Counsel investigation should be allowed to finish and its report should be made public.

In California, the state's largest private utility company, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), announced their intention to seek bankruptcy protection in light of tens of billions of dollars in potential legal liability for maintenance failures that helped spark a number of the historic and deadly fires that crippled the state during last year's record wildfire season. And, in Los Angeles, some 35,000 teachers at the nation's second-largest school district walked out, striking to demand higher pay and smaller class sizes.

Next, we turn to some election news, with New York state, one of the most restrictive in the nation when it comes to voting access, finally moving to update its system with a package of bills this week that include early voting, vote-by-mail, same-day voter registration and other long-overdue reforms.

In Georgia, meanwhile, two dozen of the nation's top Computer Security and Voting Systems experts issued a critical landmark letter [PDF] last week to the state's Secure, Accessible and Fair Elections (SAFE) Commission, essentially begging the panel, convened by former Republican Sec. of State and incoming Governor Brian Kemp, to not move the state's voting system from 100 percent unverifiable touchscreen Direct Record Electronic (DRE) systems to similarly unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMD), which print out a computer-marked and barcoded summary of voters' ballots. They call instead for hand-marked paper ballots, which they describe as "the best method for recording votes in public elections."

The letter notes that BMD systems are more expensive than hand-marked paper ballot systems but, more importantly, cannot be audited after an election to determine whether the results reflect the actual intent of voters. Despite the scientists crucial recommendation last week, and every comment --- other than from election officials and private voting system vendor lobbyists --- made by the public at last week's SAFE Commission hearing, Kemp's panel shamefully voted to recommend BMDs to state lawmakers.

But, while that virtually inexplicable action moves ahead in the Peach State under Republican rule, the nation's largest voting jurisdiction, Los Angeles County, under Democratic rule, has already decided to move to a pricey and similarly unverifiable touchscreen BMD system before the 2020 Presidential election!

We're joined today by MARILYN MARKS, a national leader in the fight for HAND-MARKED paper ballot systems. She heads up the non-partisan Coalition for Good Governance --- which filed several landmark lawsuits last year against Georgia's current unverifiable voting systems and in hopes of preventing their new ones.

"The point is a very, very simple point that the SAFE Commission --- and apparently L.A. --- pretends that they are missing," argues Marks. "They all talk about how they want elections that can be audited. Well, when you use these Ballot Marking Devices, the election cannot be audited, because the source document [the computer-marked, barcoded ballot] is not an original transaction. It cannot be audited. Therefore you cannot audit the results."

Making matters worse, even if every single voter manages to correctly verify the computer-printed, human-readable summary of voter selections, "what's actually cast and the actual official vote is a barcode. Now, none of us can read barcodes. I don't know what vote I'm actually casting. I am casting a barcode, but what in the world does that barcode actually say? That, to me, is a Constitutional violation."

We discuss that and the many other dangers of BMD systems being implement across the country --- with little or no pushback in places like L.A. --- as well as the differences between the proposed new systems from private vendors in GA and the publicly-owned one already coming to L.A. County. In short, despite a number of explanations offered to us by the County's Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan (shared on today's program) Marks argues there is little, if any, difference in the lack of verifiability and auditablity of such voting systems.

Finally, we take just a few listener calls on all of the above on our way out today...

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

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Guest: Ricky Garza of Texas Civil Rights Project on Trump's Rio Grande land grab; Also: Historic shutdown fallout across the nation, and an impossible (but real!) 60-year old warning about 'Trump' and his 'wall'...
By Brad Friedman on 1/11/2019 6:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Donald Trump's federal government shutdown is the now the longest in U.S. history and landowners in Texas are fighting to keep the federal government from stealing their land even before Trump shakes down the U.S. Treasury somehow for $5.7. Also, we might have avoided all of these messes had we only paid attention to a remarkably prescient warning from a 1958 episode of an obscure television show on CBS. [Audio link to show follows below.]

On Friday, some 800,000 furloughed federal workers missed their paychecks, after hundreds of them protested the shutdown, lockout, "shakedown" outside the White House as they are having trouble paying rents, mortgages and for food and medical needs. Nonetheless, Trump continues to threaten a "national emergency" declaration to force the funding of his long-promised southern border wall with money the Administration is considering taking from U.S. military disaster relief funding earmarked for hurricane and fire-ravaged states like Florida, Texas, California and dozens of others.

House Democrats (and a handful of Republicans) continue to vote to reopen the government --- or, at least, some of its various agencies which have nothing to do with immigration or a wall --- while Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to allow a vote on same in the upper chamber, even for identical bills to the those passed virtually unanimously there last year. Airports are being forced to enact closures for lack of TSA personnel, the nation's foods supply is going untested by the FDA for contamination, FBI agents are sending letters to the White House and Congress describing the furlough of thousands of special agents as a national security threat, and federally subsidized HUD housing for the elderly and poor is being forced to do without.

Meanwhile, down in Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley, even before Trump receives the $5.7 billion he is demanding for hundreds of miles of new border wall/fencing, property owners are receiving letters from the federal government to begin the process of eminent domain. Families who have lived on the banks of the Rio Grande for generations are being threatened with having their homes taken away to pave the way for the construction of Trump's wall. Even an historic, 150-year old Catholic mission chapel on the banks of the river --- and on the city seal of Mission, TX --- finds itself in a legal battle with the federal government to remain in place.

We're joined today by RICKY GARZA, Rio Grande Valley native and staff attorney for the non-profit Texas Civil Rights Project. As Trump came to the area for another photo-op on Thursday, Garza is working to help hundreds of local property owners in the valley understand their legal rights to fend off a government takeover of their land and homes.

Garza scoffs at the President's claims of "crisis" conditions in what he describes as a "diverse region of over a million people that lives and dies by the water that comes from the river," but which may soon be cut off from it entirely. "The only crisis that exists now is artificially created by this administration," he tells me. "The only time I heard any talk about a crisis along the border was when I turned on cable news."

"Polling consistently shows that an overwhelming majority of people that actually live and work on the border oppose the border wall, and oppose the militarization of our communities," he says.

"What we're seeing on the ground is that people are having their lives interrupted by this intrusion into the borderlands by the federal government and border militarization. We've seen a decrease in apprehensions along the border, yet an increase in Border Patrol hiring, staffing and construction of things like the border wall, erections of things like security towers along the areas close to the river, and aerostat blimps that were formerly used in Iraq now deployed in some neighborhoods to surveil the border, and implicitly, all of us," Garza laments. "It's just another sad example of the federal government failing to understand the realities of life on the border, and what it's really like for us, just trying to live our lives in peace."

Finally today, a few minutes from a gob-smacking episode of the 1958 CBS Television series called Trackdown in which --- and this is for real --- a colorful con-man named "Trump" (seriously!) comes to town and tries to tell its gullible, terrified residents that only he can save them...by selling them on a "wall" to protect them from total destruction!!!...

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: Food and ag correspondent Tom Philpott; Also: 'National emergency' likely as polls plummet for President, Senate Repubs...
By Brad Friedman on 1/10/2019 6:27pm PT  

On today's BradCast, while Donald Trump threatens to declare a "national emergency" to build his southern border all, his federal government shutdown may lead to a real emergency on everything from the nation's food supply to air travel to defense against weapons of mass destruction and cybersecurity threats. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first, as Donald Trump's federal government shutdown continues over his insistence that tax-payers spend $5.7 billion to begin construction of his wall, we take a quick look back at some of his 2013 comments on who should be blamed for government shutdowns, back when he charged that Presidents, not opposition parties in Congress, should be held responsible. But what he had to say about walls way back in 2004 is even more amusing and/or ironic.

Meanwhile, Trump hoped to blame Democrats for the shutdown today, while claiming it needed to continue for the "safety of our Nation". But the safety of the nation, including its food supply, is now endangered by the three week shutdown of all FDA food inspections (along with furloughs of thousands of agents at the Federal Aviation Administration, Secret Service, FBI, DHS' cybersecurity agencies and even its Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office.)

We're joined today by food and agriculture correspondent TOM PHILPOTT of Mother Jones' to discuss the safety (or lack thereof) of the nation's imperiled food supply as the shutdown is now days away from becoming the longest in U.S. history. The FDA's lack of all food inspections comes on the heels of the CDC's declaration this week that the second of two deadly E. coli outbreaks in romaine lettuce last year is finally over.

"We should be pretty concerned, especially as this drags on and on," Philpott warns. "Any kind of product that we take for granted, mundane products that aren't regularly in the news for causing outbreaks, can cause outbreaks when companies lapse and the regulatory process fails. This is an engineered failure of the regulatory process. It's just a very, very stupid idea."

"Who knows how long this thing is going to go on?," he says. "Which, if it does, the food safety situation is going to get gnarly."

Philpott's concerns reach beyond the current situation, however, as he explains how the Trump Administration's de-regulatory agenda has already undercut the safety of our nation's food supply. Also, he reports on how the shutdown (and trade war) is negatively effecting farmers (many of whom comprise Trump's base) and craft beer makers (small business owners), along with women, infants, children and others in poverty who rely on government programs for nutrition assistance.

While Trump said today that if Democrats don't agree to his demand for billions in border wall funding he will "definitely" declare a national emergency in order to force the construction of his wall, even folks on the Right --- for example on his favorite Fox 'News' show --- argue that such a Presidential declaration would set a very bad precedent.

But, with Americans increasingly blaming Trump for the shutdown by double-digits, and sharing that blame with GOP Senators up for reelection next year, the toughest sting for our Reality-TV President may be that more Americans tuned in to watch Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer's response to Trump's prime-time Oval Office address on Tuesday, than the number of those who watched the speech itself. So much for his "winning" television ratings.

Finally, with good news/bad news for Joshua Tree National Park amid the shutdown, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as Fiat-Chrysler agrees to pay a huge fine to the EPA for using secret software to cheat on emissions testing, as Trump threatens to cut off FEMA wildfire disaster relief to California, and as Democrats continue to push back and push ahead on climate crisis action...

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

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Guest: Matt Gertz of Media Matters; Also: Dems win big in VA, Trump claims to be cutting off FEMA wildfire recovery aid to CA...
By Brad Friedman on 1/9/2019 6:02pm PT  

Donald Trump's tantrums and partial federal government shutdown continue on today's BradCast, with no end in sight for either of them. [Audio link for today's show follows below.]

On Tuesday night and again on Wednesday, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accused Donald Trump of governing "by temper tantrum". The first reference came in Tuesday's Democratic response, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to Trump's televised prime-time Oval Office address meant to gain public support for his demand of $5.7 billion for a southern border wall. The money is needed, Trump claims, to respond to what he described during his 9-minute speech as an immigration and humanitarian "crisis". But the address offered no new policies or information and, at times, parroted word-for-word rightwing anti-immigration, pro-wall commentary from Sean Hannity and Lou Dobbs' programs on Fox 'News'.

The second reference to a Trump "tantrum" came today after the President reportedly stormed out of a White House negotiation meeting with Congressional Democrats as the partial federal government shutdown over funding for his wall continues in its third week. The cost of that shutdown to some 800,000 federal workers is rapidly intensifying. Paychecks will not be issued this week for many workers who are already facing extraordinary hardship thanks to the shutdown which Trump has threatened to continue for "months or even years" unless Democrats agree to his border wall demand.

But, if nothing new was offered in his Tuesday night prime-time address, why did the television networks agree to clear the time for him to litter our public airwaves with false claims and long-ago debunked propaganda? Particularly since the same networks refused President Obama's request to air his own remarks on actual new immigration policy back in 2014?

We're joined today by Media Matters' Senior Fellow MATT GERTZ who charges that the "networks got played." He describes their capitulation to Trump as "cowardly" with the result being "exactly what we said was going to happen: the President used the time to lie to the public."

"I don't understand why there's such an urgency to just put the President on television when all of the people involved in producing the news know that he's a liar who is going to lie," he tells me. "It's the most predictable thing in American politics right now --- if the President is talking, he's lying."

So why did the networks give up that valuable airtime to allow it to happen? And, were the attempts by media outlets at debunking and fact-checking Trump's false claims during or after the speech actual helpful to the public? We discuss that and the larger challenge for media: "How do you respond to a President who is deliberately deceptive and is constantly trying to make people believe in a reality that is different from the actual one?"

Also today: The 2018 electoral 'blue wave' continues into 2019, as Dems in Virginia win very big (by 40 points!) in the first Special Election of the year. And Donald Trump announces, via misspelled tweet, that he is cutting off FEMA wildfire recovery aid to California, following the worst and most deadly fires in state history. Whether he will follow through with that threat is a separate question, of course, and his absurd explanation as to why he claims to be doing it is, as usual, nonsense...

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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HUD closure threatens evictions; Pence makes false immigration claims; SCOTUS on redistricting; 2018 'blue wave' bringing good news for Americans in FL, MI, ME and elsewhere across the country...
By Brad Friedman on 1/8/2019 6:25pm PT  

The effects of the federal government's partial shutdown, now in its third week, continue to worsen, even as the effects of last year's 'blue wave' election continue to make things much better for Americans across the country. Among the stories covered on today's BradCast [audio link is posted below]...

  • The shutdown is causing "a mess" for potentially tens of thousands of American families who live in properties subsidized by the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development. They may soon face rent increases or eviction due to HUD's failure to renew thousands of contracts before and during the agency's closure;
  • Vice President Mike Pence made the media rounds in advance of Trump's Tuesday night prime-time Oval Office remarks (which TV networks didn't allow for Obama), in hopes of drumming up support for the Administration's false claim there is a national security crisis on the border which may precipitate a Presidential declaration of a "national emergency". Pence offered a number of false claims in the bargain, which even some GOPers were scoffing at today;
  • With Trump having boxed himself into this protracted shutdown mess, a "national emergency" declaration may be his only face-saving way out of it. It would likely result in Republicans allowing a vote in the Senate for reopening the government, even as the declaration would face court challenges over its legality and, essentially, do little more than steal tax-payer money from national defense as U.S. troops are tasked with building Trump's southern border wall;
  • The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to hear two partisan gerrymandering cases this session (from Maryland and North Carolina), which may not be good news following the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy;
  • But, in better news from SCOTUS today, the Court rejected a plea from Virginia Republicans to delay a lower-court mandated remapping of districts for its House of Delegates in advance of this November's off-year legislative elections in the state. Twelve of those districts were previously found by the lower court to be unconstitutional racial gerrymanders;
  • Meanwhile, last year's midterm 'blue wave' is already yielding dividends for the nation. In Maine, the nation's dumbest now-thankfully-former Governor Paul LePage certified what he declared to be a "stolen election" for the U.S. House on his way out the door, and the state's new Democratic Governor Janet Mills signed legislation on her first day on the job that will finally give access to healthcare to some 70,000 Mainers under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) Medicaid Expansion that had been blocked for some eight years by the former Republican Governor;
  • And, in further good news following last year's midterms, Florida's Amendment 4, adopted by nearly 65 percent of voters in November, kicked in on Tuesday to allow as many as 1.4 million former felons the right to vote in a state that is notorious for its close elections. Despite claims by some Republicans that "implementing language" may need to be enacted, County Supervisors of Elections began allowing registrations under the new Amendment for most former felons who have served their time. The result could be a sea change for the state in 2020, not to mention for the rest of the nation where Florida's electoral votes are key to Presidential elections;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the first Green News Report of 2019, where last year's 'blue wave' is also being positively felt on the environmental front at both the state and federal level, even as Trump's shutdown is trashing national parks and blocking important scientific research...

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mattis quits! Troops out of Syria! Whitaker's reversal! Government shut-down?! Food stamps cut! NK nuke deal collapse?!; Also: Dems announce 2020 Primary debate plan; NC-9 GOP election fraud since at least 2016...
By Brad Friedman on 12/20/2018 6:28pm PT  

Every great Reality TV show needs a dramatic and gripping season finale. So too, apparently, does does every horrible Reality TV Presidency! [Audio link is posted below]

Today is our last new BradCast before Christmas (Angie Coiro will be filling in for us, along with a few "evergreens" over the next week or two), but, as has become clear today, Trump! The Presidency! has certainly delivered in the shocking and suspenseful season finale department! Including...

TWISTS AND TURNS! Acting AG Matthew Whitaker did not, as misreported earlier today, get approval from a DoJ ethics review to oversee Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe. In fact, the ethics review determined he should recuse himself. But, apparently, he plans to ignore that finding;

SURPRISES! Trump defies his military advisers, not to mention stuns and infuriates members of Congress on both sides of the aisle along with experts in the region, by declaring "victory" on Twitter over ISIS and that he plans to now pull U.S. troops out of Syria! But when? Nobody seems to know. Is Afghanistan next? (Apparently so!);

MAIN CHARACTERS 'KILLED OFF'! Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis, the last of Trump's "My Generals", and none too happy about the Syria decision, submits his surprise resignation, charging the President is anything but "clear-eyed" about the need for U.S. alliances and the threats faced from its adversaries;

SUSPENSE! Will Trump shut down the federal government over Christmas? Last week he said he would. Earlier this week he indicated he wouldn't. But, today, it looks like he will! And all over $5 billion in funding for a southern border wall (now "steel slats") he promised that Mexico, not tax-payers, would be paying for;

CHRISTMAS VILLAINY! Trump's USDA, in defiance of Congress's newly passed farm bill, announces they will now make it more difficult for the poor to receive food stamps. That'll show 'em!;

NUCLEAR CLIFF-HANGER! North Korea bluntly declares that "denuclearization of the Korean peninsula" actually means what it sounds like, and what those of us in the reality-based world (as opposed to the Reality TV world) already knew. They will not denuclearize unless the U.S. removes its own troops and nuclear weapons at the same time. Will Trump return to his threats for "fire and fury like the world has never seen"?! Stay tuned for the thrilling 2019 season!

Also today: The DNC announces its planned schedule for a dozen 2020 Presidential primary debates beginning in 2019, even though we're not yet even done with the 2018 election around here yet!

As we await the scheduled January 11th evidentiary hearing over the GOP's 2018 Absentee Ballot Election Fraud Scandal that has prevented Republican Mark Harris' 905-vote U.S. House "victory" over Democrat Dan McCready from being certified in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District, the state Board of Election's stunning 279-page 2016 investigative report [PDF] on apparent absentee ballot fraud by McCrae Dowless, the same GOP contractor hired in 2018 by Harris, is released. And it includes some jaw-dropping evidence begging the question: How can it be that Dowless not already prosecuted after 2016, but allowed instead to carry out the same unlawful election fraud scams in 2018?!

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with a number of climate crisis Christmas gifts from states around the country and hardly any lumps of coal at all!...

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Guest: Heather Digby Parton on Trump, Flynn, Russia, Mueller and what Dems must do about the 'criminal and con man in the White House'
Also: Admin's cruel asylum policy ruled unlawful; KS GOP lawmakers flip to Dem Party...
By Brad Friedman on 12/19/2018 6:25pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The Trump Presidency feels as if it is now in free-fall. Is it? [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, a federal judge in Washington D.C. (the same judge involved in Tuesday's dramatic sentencing hearing of Donald Trump's disgraced former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn) declared the Trump Administration's new policy of rejecting asylum claims made on the basis of domestic abuse and gang violence to be a violation of the law. We discussed then Attorney General Jeff Sessions' cruel new policy guidance on this matter after it was announced back in June with Karen Musalo, a longtime immigration rights attorney who told us, at the time, that the Admin's new policy was in violation of the law. Turns out she was right, according to today's federal court ruling, which is just the latest legal and/or political blow to Donald Trump's efforts to harden immigration policy in the U.S.

His failed policies on that and much more --- all eagerly supported by his Republican Party over the past two years --- resulted in last month's midterm elections "blue wave", when Democrats picked up an historic net gain of at least 40 seats in the U.S. House to take majority control in January. But the GOP losses were also felt at the state level around the country, including in formerly "deep red" Kansas, where voters elected a Democratic Governor and rejected a number of Republican state lawmakers. This week, things are getting worse for Kansas Republicans as a new wave of party defectors has resulted, so far (more may be on the way), in three elected Republicans in the state legislature (all women, by the way) flipping their allegiance to the Democratic Party in advance of next month's new legislative session.

Given the revelations and dramatic sentencing hearings related to various state and federal investigations into the unprecedented corruption of Donald Trump, his campaign, his businesses, his family and his Administration over the past week, things are likely to get much worse for Republicans before getting better any time soon.

On that matter and more, we're joined today by HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo to discuss what is now beginning to feel like a Presidency that is falling apart by the day, if not the hour, particularly following Tuesday's dramatic sentencing hearing of Flynn and last week's sentencing of Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen, who implicated the President as "directing" a felony hush-money payoff conspiracy carried out just before the 2016 election, in clear violation of campaign finance laws.

All of that, as Trump and his associates and family are now facing criminal investigations and/or prosecutions at both the pardon-proofed state level and in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe of the Trump Campaign's alleged coordination with Russia and his own obstruction of justice. As usual, Parton offers her keen observations as the investigations continue to quickly close in on the President, describing all of this as "the most serious political crisis we have ever had," outside of wars, while adding the understated obvious: "It's not good to have a criminal and a con man in the White House."

We discuss, among many other things, Tuesday's astonishing Flynn hearing which went off the rails, and the judge's curious references to "treason"; whether or not there is a "grand conspiracy" at the heart of the Russia matter resulting in the seemingly inexplicable number of lies being told by Trump and his associates about their various contacts with Russians; whether Trump will be able to withstand the ever-increasing pressure of the probes; how his wingnut fans and media supporters are (often hilariously) still trying to justify it all as a partisan "hoax"; and what Democrats will (or, at least, should) do in response once they take over the House majority next month...

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Trump 'charity' shuttered; Admin backs off shutdown threat; Flynn sentencing fiasco; McSally appointed in AZ; NC-9 fraud hearing delayed...
By Brad Friedman on 12/18/2018 6:31pm PT  

Today was the first day that it really began to feel like things are finally falling completely apart for Donald Trump and his administration. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the mountain of stories covered on today's BradCast amid an astonishing day of news on several fronts...

  • The New York state Attorney General entered an agreement with the Trump Foundation to permanently shut down the supposed charitable organization. Her investigation and prosecution of alleged fraud, campaign violations and self-dealing via the organization by Trump, his three adult children and his 2016 campaign will continue, despite the Foundation's dissolution;
  • The Trump Administration blinked on Tuesday, at least a bit, following Trump's previous televised threats to shut down the federal government this Friday over funding for his border wall with Mexico (which, we were repeatedly told during the campaign, they, not tax-payers, would pay for.) Last week, Trump said on camera he would be "proud" to shut down the federal government before Christmas if Democrats didn't agree to $5 billion for wall funding in a budget agreement that must pass by this Friday. Today, Trump's Press Secretary suggested they'd find the money elsewhere, even as Congress remained at a standstill with Republicans not having enough votes to pass a bill that meets Trump's demands;
  • At the same time, in a federal court room in D.C., Trump's disgraced former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators last year, had been expected to walk away from his sentencing hearing a free man today following his cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team. They had requested no jail time for Flynn after his help in several known and unknown probes. But, thanks to Flynn's attorneys falsely suggesting in a sentencing memorandum last week that he had been duped, tricked and entrapped by FBI investigators into lying about his contacts with the Russian ambassador, the sentencing was mercifully postponed until March. In a remarkable colloquy with U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, a Ronald Reagan appointee, Flynn quickly backed off his attorneys claims. In blistering remarks from the bench, Sullivan railed that he could not "hide my disgust, my disdain" for Flynn's behavior, and upbraided the former top Trump official and retired Lt. General for having "arguably sold out your country". A reportedly shaken Flynn then asked for his sentencing to be delayed, so that the could further cooperate with the Special Counsel in hopes of being credited to avoid jail time. All of that, after Trump had wished Flynn "good luck" via Twitter prior to today's hearing;
  • In Arizona, the loser of November's U.S. Senate contest, Republican Rep. Martha McSally, was appointed by the state's GOP Governor to take the seat of Sen. Jon Kyle, who had temporarily replaced the late Sen. John McCain earlier this year. McSally narrowly lost her Senate bid in November to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, who she had described as a "traitor" during the campaign. McSally also tried to make amends with McCain's family after insulting the ailing Senator before his death;
  • In the North Carolina GOP absentee ballot election fraud scandal, state Republicans reversed their position for a second time regarding the certification of Republican Mark Harris. State Republican leaders demanded that he be certified in the state's 9th Congressional District House race, despite an ongoing fraud investigation. The current results show that Harris defeated Democrat Dan McCready by just 905 votes in November. The State Board of Elections, however, has refused to certify the race due to the allegations of absentee ballot fraud and has postponed it's planned evidentiary hearing from December 21 to January 11, thanks to what the Board describes as delayed document production by subpoenaed parties. Harris has now admitted that he hired the GOP contractor accused of altering or withholding perhaps thousands of absentee ballots in the race;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with a surprising amount of actually encouraging news for a change.

Yes, it really is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas...

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Guest: Prof. Richard DeMillo of Georgia Tech; Also: Obamacare found 'unconstitutional'?; Zinke resigns; Callers ring in on compulsory voting...
By Brad Friedman on 12/17/2018 6:25pm PT  

It's been a very busy news weekend (as usual these days), so we try to catch up with at least some of it, along with calls from listeners on today's BradCast. But, more importantly, we're already busy trying to save the next election from disaster, thanks to a move by folks on the right and left to make election results virtually impossible to be overseen and verified. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

States and counties all across the country are finally beginning to move to new "upgraded" voting systems. In many cases, however --- in both Republican and Democratic-leaning jurisdictions alike --- officials are now disastrously preparing to move to touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) which are even less verifiable, in many cases, than systems currently in use!

In Georgia, a commission impaneled by Republican Brian Kemp, champion vote suppressor as former Sec. of State and now Governor-elect, is deciding whether to move from the state's 100% unverifiable Diebold touchscreen Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines to similarly 100% unverifiable touchscreen BMDs made by ES&S before the next election. Here in Los Angeles County, the nation's largest voting jurisdiction, the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk has already announced plans to move to such an unverifiable system before the 2020 Presidential election, while (incorrectly) claiming that it produces a "verifiable paper ballot". BMD systems do not.

Proponents argue that touchscreen BMDs, which print out a computer-marked and barcoded "paper ballot" summary card of the voters vote, produce a "verifiable" record of the cast ballot. But, as Professor RICHARD DEMILLO of Georgia Tech and Verified Voting explains today, based on his recently published study, many voters (about half) do not bother to verify their computer-printed ballot summary cards before casting them to be tallied by a separate computer scanner. Of those who do, the study finds, they only glance at them for an average of 3.9 seconds before depositing them into the scanner (and that was during an election with some 18 races on the ballot!)

"Half of them don't look at the ballots at all," DeMillo tells me. "Those that do, give it by and large a cursory reading that wouldn't allow them to check it in any meaningful way."

Moreover, DeMillo's study finds, based on observation and testing at polling places earlier this year, most voters are unable to accurately verify --- just seconds after leaving the polling place --- whether an unvoted list of the races they just voted in accurately represents the races on the ballot they just cast! DeMillo --- a longtime computer security expert who formerly served as Hewlett-Packard's chief technology officer --- argues, the only way to ensure that ballots actually reflect the will of the voter is to use HAND-MARKED paper ballots, whether they are counted by hand or optical-scan systems.

"These are all problems we've created for ourselves" with some help from the private voting system vendors, he argues. "The only reason we're having this discussion is that someone decided that having an expensive pen to mark a ballot is more important than the transparency of the election process itself. As soon as you get rid of the Ballot Marking Devices, the universe goes back to normal, mathematics works out, we can conduct auditable elections in a much more verifiable way."

When I ask this longtime computer technologist and cryptography expert the best, most verifiable way to cast ballots, he answes directly: "Hand-marked paper ballots." His answer echoes that of longtime Livermore National Lab computer scientist and voting systems expert Dr. David Jefferson, who argued the same point during my interview with him in October.

Also today: What the federal court's questionable ruling in Texas on Friday finding the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) unconstitutional, does (and doesn't) mean for all of us in 2019. The federal HealthCare.gov exchange's open enrollment period for 2019 ended over the weekend, but several states which run their own Obamacare markets, such as CA, CT, D.C., NY, MA, MN and RI, continue open enrollment through January.

Then, a thought or two from our own Desi Doyen on the long-overdue weekend announcement of the resignation of Trump's corrupt Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke.

And, finally today, we open the phones to callers with thoughts on, among other things, whether voting in the U.S. should (or shouldn't be) be compulsory and whether voting is a "right" or "privilege". Don't miss that lively debate with callers and much more on today's BradCast!...

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Guest: Public Citizen's Craig Holman; Also: WI's Walker signs power grab bills; MI's Snyder undermines voters; NC's GOP Election Fraud scandal spreads to new district; ME's RCV hand-count ends early...
By Brad Friedman on 12/14/2018 6:47pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Lock him up! Plus a whole bunch of November 6 midterm fallout, follow-up and fraud. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Yes, despite his many desperate and ever-shifting attempts to explain (lie) his way out of it, all evidence demonstrates that Donald Trump quite clearly committed a major, indictable, campaign finance felony in his hush-money payoffs before the 2016 election to women with whom he had had sexual affairs. We're joined today by longtime campaign finance expert CRAIG HOLMAN of Public Citizen for a very sober, clear, point-by-point explanation of Trump's apparent crime in this matter and what can (or, at least should) be done about it.

Holman methodically debunks each of Trump's various claims --- offered via both Fox "News" and on Twitter --- in the wake of the criminal sentencing in federal court on Wednesday, of his longtime personal attorney and "fixer" Michael Cohen. Cohen pleaded guilty for, among other things, facilitating the illicit, covert payoff scheme "directed" by Trump to cover up the trysts so they wouldn't adversely effect his 2016 election chances. Holman elaborates on how any other elected federal official would "absolutely" be indicted for the exact same unlawful scheme.

"Every other government official is subject to the laws of the nation, just like you and I. And we have seen many members of Congress, for instance, and other Executive Branch officials face indictment, prosecution and even imprisonment for this type of felony behavior," he tells me.

The only thing preventing similar accountability for Trump, Holman argues, is the controversial opinion from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) which states that a sitting President may not be indicted on criminal charges. But, Holman says, citing recent arguments from Richard Nixon's former counsel John Dean, that's precisely what the U.S. Constitution's 25th Amendment was already designed to handle.

"The entire rationale behind [the OLC opinion] it is that indicting a President would incapacitate the Executive Branch, and therefore you just can't indict a sitting President," he says. But "we've got the 25th Amendment in the Constitution, and that sets up an entire transition period if the President becomes incapacitated. So there is no incapacitation. We know the transition. So the president should be subject to indictment."

Beyond the protection of the OLC opinion, Holman notes one very narrow potential argument that Trump might otherwise be able to use to avoid try and avoid legal accountability. But, he concludes, "The evidence is overwhelming that our President committed a felony."

In other news today, Wisconsin's rejected Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed a sweeping host of bills --- adopted with lightning speed by the gerrymandered GOP state legislature in an extraordinary lame duck session --- designed to undermine the Executive powers of incoming Democratic Governor-elect Tony Evers, and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul, as well as the state's voters. At least one lawsuit in response has already been announced to challenge the new provision that restricts Early Voting in the state. A similar provision was ruled unconstitutional by the federal courts in 2016 (as we discussed recently with the plaintiff in that case.)

In Michigan, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, also soon to be replaced by a Democrat, signed several bills on Friday that similarly undermine voters.

In North Carolina -- where Republicans invented these very types of unprecedented lame duck power grabs back in 2016 --- the GOP absentee ballot election fraud scandal that has, so far, prevented the certification of Republican Mark Harris' reported 905-vote "victory" over Democrat Dan McCready in the state's 9th Congressional District, may be spreading to a completely different U.S. House District. In Columbus County, in the state's 7th CD, there was reportedly an even larger percentage of mysteriously unreturned absentee ballots from Democratic voters than that which originally sparked the 9th CD's ongoing election fraud probe. In Columbus, a Republican candidate for Sheriff is said to have unseated the Democrat Sheriff by by just 37 votes after hiring the same GOP contractor at the center of the NC9 absentee ballot fraud allegations. As we've been reporting, evidence revealed during the ongoing investigation in NC9 will, almost certainly at this point, result in a new U.S. House election there.

Finally today, in Maine, incumbent Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin saw his Constitutional challenge to the state's new Ranked Choice Voting system rejected by a Trump-appointed federal judge on Thursday. On Friday, he called off the ongoing hand-count he had requested in his 2nd Congressional District race. Poliquin, after winning the most votes in the first computer tally by more than 2,200 votes, failed to win a majority. In the next round of counting, after voters' second place choices were redistributed to other candidates according to the computerized RCV algorithm now used to tally ballots in the state, Democrat Jared Golden was declared the winner of the November 6th contest. The complicated RCV hand-count began last week and, until ended by Poliquin today, was otherwise expected to continue for several more weeks. The outgoing Republicans says he is still mulling an appeal to the federal court ruling.

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Trump in trouble; Shutdown looms; Bevin brays in KY; NC9 primary do-over?; MI GOP power grab; Arctic collapsing...
By Brad Friedman on 12/13/2018 6:45pm PT  

Among the many messes covered on today's BradCast [Audio link to full show is posted below]...

  • Trump can't seem to find anyone who wants to be his new Chief of Staff. So, his son-in-law Jared Kushner now appears to be in the running;
  • Trump finally responded (on Fox "News", naturally) to Wednesday's news that his former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen received a three year prison sentence after cooperating with federal investigators and pleading guilty to a number of felonies. The charges include an illegal 2016 hush-money payout scheme to women said to have had sexual affairs with Trump, which Cohen and the prosecutors describe as having been "directed" by Trump in violation of campaign finance laws. Trump now says it wasn't unlawful, but if it was, it was only a civil, not criminal violation --- and that he didn't do it in any case, but if he did, it was all Cohen's fault --- and that Cohen only pleaded guilty to it as a favor to federal prosecutors in order to "embarrass" Trump. Or something. Got it?;
  • Meanwhile, a federal government shutdown next week before Christmas is looking increasingly likely. After Trump's televised Oval Office tantrum with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer earlier this week over funding for his Border Wall, it's become apparent that Republicans in Congress currently have no plan to avoid a shutdown next week after Trump declared during the meeting that he would happily take the blame for such a shutdown. Even in the House, where Republicans still hold a large majority until January, they seem unable to pass a version of a spending bill that includes funding for the wall that Trump repeatedly promised Mexico would pay for;
  • In Kentucky, taking a page from Trump, Tea Party Republican Governor Matt Bevin released a bizarre video on Twitter Wednesday night, attacking the Louisville Courier-Journal for their new partnership with independent, non-profit investigative reporting outlet ProPublica. Bevin charges ProPublica is a "far-left" organization secretly funded by "George 'I Hate America' Soros" and, therefore, everyone should "disregard" the reporting from the Courier-Journal. ProPublica responded to the charges, and suggests a recent damning exposé by the paper finding Bevin hired an old friend for a top IT job in the state and gave him a $215,000 raise after less than a year, is just one of the reasons Bevin may be hoping Kentuckians stop reading the paper;
  • In North Carolina, the mess created by the GOP absentee ballot election fraud scandal in the state's 9th Congressional District continues. Republican lawmakers, on Wednesday, passed legislation that would allow the State Board of Elections to call not just a new general election for the U.S. House in NC9, but for a new primary as well, following evidence of absentee fraud in both elections this year by a GOP contractor hired by Mark Harris, the Republican candidate. Harris is said to have defeated incumbent Congressman Robert Pittenger by just over 800 votes in the May GOP primary and his Democratic opponent Dan McCready by just over 900 votes in the November midterm. State Republicans seem to now be conceding that both races were tainted with fraud by their candidate and will now require a do-over;
  • In Michigan, GOP lawmakers are scrambling to pass a measure in the lame duck session that would make it much harder for voters to place statewide initiatives on the ballot. That's just one of several ongoing efforts by Republicans in the state to strip power from voters and the Executive Branch before Democrats can be sworn in as Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State next month.
  • And finally, in The Arctic....well, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report to detail that frightening and worsening mess, along with several others...

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Guest: Politico's Alice Ollstein; Also: New revelations in NC-9 GOP election fraud scandal all but guarantee a new election will be coming...
By Brad Friedman on 12/12/2018 6:33pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Trump appears now to be in very big trouble. So do Republicans in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District. But President Obama's Affordable Care Act soldiers on, even as signups are down as the open enrollment period for 2019 on the federal HealthCare.gov exchange quietly nears its close on Saturday, December 15th.

On Wednesday, Donald Trump's former personal lawyer and 'fixer' Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison and some $2 million in fines after cooperating with federal prosecutors following guilty pleas to several felonies in August. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team noted that Cohen has been helpful in their probe of Trump's still-unexplained relationship with Russia, but it was the charges brought by federal prosecutors against Cohen in New York's Southern District related to hush-money payoffs to women with whom Trump was said to have had sexual affairs that most immediately appears to cook Trump's goose.

Both Cohen and the federal government now allege that Trump, in the waning days of the 2016 campaign, "directed" a conspiracy to pay off the women in order to buy their silence in an illicit scheme to "influence the election". Those payoffs of $130,000 to porn actress Stormy Daniels and $150,000 to Playboy model Karen McDougal (via National Enquirer publisher AMI) are considered illegal campaign contributions.

Also on Wednesday, prosecutors announced a non-prosecution agreement with AMI, run by longtime Trump pal David Pecker, in exchange for their cooperation in the case. As discussed on today's show, Trump now appears to be in very VERY big trouble, at this point. If the man who helped make the payoffs at Trump's "direction" --- who had also cooperated with investigators --- received three years in prison for his crimes, imagine what may happen to the man who actually directed the conspiracy.

While there are still a number of potential escape hatches such as the Presidential pardon power for Trump, his associates, his family members and his businesses, a new interview with incoming New York state Attorney General-elect Letitia James suggests she has that base covered as well. James says she intends to "use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well" at the state level, including "anyone" in his circle who may have violated state law. Trump's businesses and campaign are based in New York. James tells NBC she intends to bring state charges in an attempt to ensure Trump, his associates, his family and his various organizations are unable to evade accountability with Presidential pardons at the federal level.

In North Carolina, meanwhile, fresh revelations continue to emerge regarding the 9th Congressional District election which is at the center of an ongoing GOP absentee ballot election fraud scandal. New details in that matter today include the state Republican Party's admission that a new election will most likely be needed, following news this week that Early Voting results in Bladen County were reportedly leaked, illegally, in advance of the November 6th election.

Moreover, a new affidavit from a Republican now charges that McCrae Dowless, the GOP contractor hired by Republican Mark Harris to run his absentee ballot campaign in Bladen, where the fraud scheme appears centered, told him that he (unlawfully) had as many as 800 absentee ballots in his possession prior to the election. What came of those ballots we don't yet know, but Harris is said to have defeated Democrat Dan McCready by just 905 votes in the 9th District last month. At this point, I see no way that a new election in the district can be avoided, other than simply naming McCready the winner.

Also today, we're joined by ALICE OLLSTEIN, formerly of Talking Points Memo, now a congressional reporter at Politico, to discuss the nearly 10 percent drop off in signups this year for the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), as the federal open enrollment period comes to a close this weekend. "It's not high prices that are deterring people," Ollstein argues, citing a key piece of data to back that up, before explaining the several different reasons why signups are down this year so far, and how that may affect the future stability of the federal exchanges.

With Democrats set to take the majority in the U.S. House in January, Ollstein also details their dilemma in how to best defend against a federal lawsuit brought by several Republican-controlled states (and now supported by the Trump Administration) hoping to kill the landmark ACA and its vital protections for those with preexisting conditions...

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Trump's Oval Office tantrum; The 'Bottomless Pinocchio'; New misconduct in NC-9 election fraud probe; FL's late absentee ballots; The 'Axis of Oil'...
By Brad Friedman on 12/11/2018 6:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A preview of the unimaginably worse dysfunction that awaits us all after Democrats take over the U.S. House majority in January and Donald Trump becomes even worse and more dishonest at his job? [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, some quick news headlines, including Time Magazine's announcement that several journalists, killed or imprisoned, are "Person of the Year" for 2018, and a life sentence plus 419 years recommended by the jury for the neo-Nazi who murdered activist Heather Heyer by plowing a car into counter-protesters during the August 2017 "United the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Also, the Washington Post Fact Checkers have been forced to create a new category to describe Donald Trump's dozens of endlessly repeated lies, such as his claims that Mexico would pay for his border wall (he's demanding U.S. tax-payers do so instead) and that his tax cuts were the largest in U.S. history (they weren't. They were the 8th largest.) The new category will be called "Bottomless Pinocchio" and will apply to lies that repeated more than 20 times after they've long been debunked by the fact-checkers as a falsehood. To date, Trump is the only politician to merit such a rating. At least 14 of his most frequently repeated lies have already earned the dubious new distinction.

Then, Trump's bizarre on-camera pageant in the Oval Office today with presumptive, soon-to-be Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer. During a media avail before what was to be a meeting regarding the impending federal budget deadline, the three bickered about Trump's threat to shut down the U.S. Government if a budget deal fails to include billions for his southern border wall. "If we don't get what we want," Trump threatened the Democrats during the lengthy and bizarre televised negotiation, "I will shut down the government."

Pelosi and Schumer tried to convince the President to accept one of two bi-partisan deals they say could be immediately passed by both the House and Senate. But Trump, the great deal-maker, failed to budge --- so far. Trump's threat to shutdown the U.S. Government despite the costs to Americans and the economy, comes even while Republicans still control both chambers of Congress. Things are likely to get much uglier once Dems take over the House with their (at least) 40-seat majority on January 3.

Speaking of which, we've got a few more new details today on the GOP election fraud scandal in North Carolina's still-uncertified 9th Congressional District race. Republican Mark Harris is said to have won the election in November by just 905 votes over Democrat Dan McCready. But evidence of absentee ballot fraud by a GOP contractor hired by Harris (in both the general election and Republican primary) has delayed certification of the race by the State Board of Elections. They will decide whether to order a new election or declare one of the two candidates the winner. The Board had planned to review evidence from the ongoing investigation by December 21, but has now told a state court they they may need more time, given that the Harris Campaign has been slow in responding to documents subpoenaed by the Board.

Also, new evidence this week reveals that election workers in Bladen County (one of two NC counties at the center of the probe), illegally tabulated early vote results and leaked them to non-election officials (the Harris campaign?) several days prior to the close of polls on November 6th.

Meanwhile, election officials in Florida have now revealed that more than 6,600 vote-by-mail absentee ballots sent and post-marked by Election Day went uncounted in the Sunshine State's midterm election. Those numbers don't yet include ballots from Palm Beach County, a Democratic stronghold. The untabulated ballots might have effected a number of close races in FL, including those tallied in statewide "recounts" for U.S. Senate, Governor and Agricultural Commissioner. While state law allows ballots post-marked by Election Day from overseas military votes to be included in the tally if they are received up to ten days after the election, all other "late" ballots are ignored.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with news from COP24, the U.N. climate conference in Poland, where the U.S. has joined Russia and Saudi Arabia in an "Axis of Oil" and is, literally, being laughed at for pushing coal while youth protesters demand fossil fuels be kept in the ground. Back home, the Trump Administration is now planning to reclassify high-level nuclear waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state (and other facilities) in order to avoid billions of dollars in clean-up at the nation's most polluted former nuclear weapons site...

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Guest: Investigative journalist Dave Lindorff; Also: U.S. House contests in NC-9, FL-15, ME-2; Schiff says Trump may face prison time...
By Brad Friedman on 12/10/2018 6:33pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The boondoggles continue --- from the Pentagon to the U.S. House and American elections --- as we can't look ahead to the new year without the continuing unresolved muck from this year. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

When Democrats take the majority in the new Congress after the first of the year, one of their first orders of business will be determining who actually is allowed to be seated following the November 2018 midterm elections. There could be as many as three (and possibly more) seats challenged in the 116th Congress, thanks to the burgeoning GOP absentee ballot election fraud scandal in North Carolina, an admission by a newly-elected Florida Republican that he "may have" violated federal campaign finance laws, and a lengthy hand-count process in Maine's first-ever Ranked Choice Voting election for a U.S. House seat.

In NC's 9th Congressional District, Mark Harris --- the GOP candidate whose uncertified 905-vote "victory" is now being probed by state and federal officials after the emergence of evidence of absentee ballot fraud by a GOP contractor Harris hired in both the primary and general elections --- has said he'd agree to a new election, but only if evidence surfaces that the fraud in question would have changed the final results. That's a much higher bar than called for by state law, which allows the State Board of Election to take any necessary actions to "assure that an election is determined without taint of fraud or corruption."

In FL, Ross Spano, the Republican who is said to have won the race in the state's 15th Congressional District, now admits he received nearly $200,000 in personal loans for his campaign from two friends, in violation of the $2,700 per person federal contribution limit. One of those friends, despite having no official government role, is today reported to be helping to select Spano's Congressional hires. In both the NC and FL cases, it's not just Democrats crying foul. Tthe Republicans who were defeated in the primaries by Harris and Spano are also joining the public outcries.

In ME, a "recount" request by ousted Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin in the 2nd Congressional District could result in a vacant seat for a while, as a hand-count of the complicated RCV counting process --- initially carried out after the election by a computer algorithm --- is a lengthy and onerous one that could stretch beyond January 3, when the new Congress is sworn in.

In non-election related news today, Donald Trump will reportedly call for an unprecedented $750 billion budget next year for the Pentagon after his previous increases to military spending. That, despite his description of Defense Department spending last week as "crazy" and previous vows to cut DoD's budget by 5 percent. The Administration's proposal for $750 billion is reported to be a "negotiating tactic" to ensure the $733 billion requested by the Pentagon, which is a far cry from the $700 billion Trump had called for previously and a substantial bump from the "crazy" $716 billion allocated for the current fiscal year.

We're joined today by investigative journalist DAVE LINDORFF to discuss the decades-long "accounting fraud" being carried out by the Pentagon, as detailed in his new exclusive exposé for The Nation. Citing whistleblowers, Inspector General's reports and a recent admission by the private accounting firm Ernst & Young that the Pentagon's books were so poorly documented that they simply cannot be audited, Lindorff explains how the DoD continues to seek --- and receive --- more tax-payer dollars year-after-year, even without needing or spending all they received in previous years. Rather than returning unpsent funds to the federal Treasury, DoD accounting gimmicks ("nippering" and "plugs") ensure endlessly increasing budgets and payments to Defense Contractors. The unchecked spending --- which amounts to trillions of dollars --- also helps to ensures that services Americans may actually need and want --- like healthcare, education and maintenance for infrastructure --- continue to be on the chopping block every fiscal year, even as Defense spending now accounts for 54 cents out of every federal tax-payer dollar collected.

"What the Pentagon does is they ask for more money than they need. They don't spend it all, and then they tuck away what isn't spent in ways that it won't be found --- violating the Constitution, by the way --- then that unspent money becomes a slush fund that's available to use however they want," Lindorff tells me.

"They've known about this stonewalling by the Pentagon for 26 years, which includes a lot of Democratic Congresses. Nobody has ever called them to the carpet on this," he charges. Despite Inspector General reports detailing the gimmicks and unaccounted for budget holes, "Nobody has been prosecuted for this. Nobody has been fired for this....If it's signed off on by the proper authority in the chain of command then it's 'supported' whether or not there's evidentiary material to back it."

Lindorff also argues that, with one recent exception, Democrats --- including progressives from Bernie Sanders to Beto O'Rourke --- have been largely silent on what he describes as a massive account fraud.

Finally today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who will chair the U.S. House Intelligence Committee after Dems take over Congress next year, argued over the weekend that new filings from federal prosecutors on Friday suggest "There’s a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office, the Justice Department may indict him" and "that he may be the first President in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time." Schiff was referencing, among other things, details from a sentencing memo filed by federal prosecutors in New York on Friday charging that Trump "directed" a criminal conspiracy with his former attorney Michael Cohen to pay hush money to two women with whom Trump had affairs, in order to effect election results in violation of federal campaign finance laws...

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

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