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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, April 23, 2019
To Impeach or Not to Impeach? That is the (Democrats') Question: 'BradCast' 4/23/19
But it may be Republicans who provide them with the courage to oust a scofflaw President...
'Green News Report' 4/23/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Gas prices spike, will get worse as Trump vows new Iran sanctions; Mueller finds Russia stoked 2016 coal fights; EU curbs plastic pollution; PLUS: NYC goes big with Green New Deal...
Previous GNRs: 4/18/19 - 4/16/19 - Archives...
Mueller Report Reveals 2016 Vote Systems, Results Never Examined for Manipulation: 'BradCast' 4/22/19
Also: News avalanche; AOC 'looks back' from future; Callers ring in on impeachment...
Easter Sunday Toons!
'PDiddie' has been busy gathering a festive basket of colorful surprises for you in his latest weekly toon collection...
MUELLER REPORT DETAILS TRUMP'S REPEATED OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE: 'BradCast' 4/18/19
Guests: Zero Hour's Richard Eskow, Comm. to Investigate Russia's Jacki Schechner...
'Green News Report' 4/18/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Arrests at London climate protests; March 2019 third hottest ever; Bank of England's stark warning about climate risks; PLUS: Teen climate activist addresses EU Parliament...
Previous GNRs: 4/16/19 - 4/11/19 - Archives...
Another Cruel New Border Policy, More Impeachable Chaos: 'BradCast' 4/17/19
Guest: Sarah Pierce of Migration Policy Inst.; Also: Trump vetoes Congress ban on support for Saudi war in Yemen; Media (and Dems) can't handle Trump lawlessness...
The Billionaire Opportunists of Notre Dame:
'BradCast' 4/16/19
Also: WA adopts 'public option'; Fox town hall goes wild for Bernie; Warren to end drilling; Unspeakable cruelty of Trump immigration policies and a hero stands up to them...
'Green News Report' 4/16/19
Deadly tornadoes from TX to DE; Int. IG probing new Int. Sec.; WA's 100% clean electricity target; PLUS: 2020 Dems to expand renewables, combat climate change...
Institutions Burning (And How YOU Can Help Fight to Save One!): 'BradCast' 4/15/19
Guest: Author Josh Douglas; Also: Notre Dame burns; Trump flouts law, endangers Congresswoman; Buttigieg is in; GOPers in AR, TN move to game elections...
Sunday 'Black Hole' Toons
'PDiddie' fills a bunch of endless holes, voids and vacuums in his latest weekly toon collection...
'Beyond Background Checks':
'BradCast' 4/12/19
Dems need bold, progressive action for a safe, prosperous, just future, w/ guest Igor Volsky; Also: Lawless Trump; Regulatory capture; Freshmen Dems step up...
'Green News Report' 4/11/19
Trump authorizes self to authorize pipelines, strip states rights; New 'bomb cyclone'; Earth CO2 levels highest in 3M yrs; PLUS: Glaciers melting faster than predicted...
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...


Dems may wish to look to Republicans for help in finding the courage to invoke the Constitutional option to oust a scofflaw President...
By Brad Friedman on 4/23/2019 6:20pm PT  

Accountability and respect for the rule of law and Constitution are at the center of just about every story we cover on today's BradCast --- (and on most days...but especially today) --- particularly with an absolutely lawless Administration and criminal President becoming seemingly more lawless and criminal by the day. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

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

  • The House Oversight Committee moved on Tuesday to vote on contempt charges against Carl Kline, former White House Personnel Security Director, who refused to show up to testify at the Committee on Tuesday despite being issued a lawful subpoena by Congress ordering him to do so. His attorney said he didn't show on the advice of the White House who directed him not to. Kline, on apparent orders from the President, had approved "top secret" security clearances for dozens of White House officials, including Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, after career security officials rejected those applications for numerous reasons, according to 18-year White House personnel office veteran Tricia Newbold, who revealed the cases during whistleblower testimony to the House panel last month;
  • Maryland's two-term Republican Governor Larry Hogan said in New Hampshire this morning that he is considering a primary run against Trump, after describing the revelations of the redacted Mueller Report as "very disturbing" and criticizing his own party for being "afraid" of challenging the President. If he jumps in, Hogan would be the second GOP Governor to try and win the nomination over Trump in 2020, along with Massachusetts' William Weld who has already declared;
  • In news of still other Republicans willing to courageously stand up to a scofflaw President from their own party, J.W. Verret, a former Trump transition team official and professor of law at George Mason University, unleashed an op-ed today making the case for impeachment in the wake of Trump's "criminal conduct," citing "roughly a dozen separate instance of obstruction of justice" revealed by the Mueller Report as his "tipping point";
  • But while a handful of Republicans may be willing to take on the President, Democrats in Congress, for their part, are still timidly moving ahead with extraordinary caution. On a conference call with and a letter to the Democratic House caucus on Monday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly vowed that the House would continue Congressional investigations to "uncover the truth" about Trump's "highly unethical and unscrupulous behavior in his alleged attempts to obstruct justice," while attempting to keep a lid on the growing calls for impeachment from her caucus. She did not rule out impeachment, but said "we aren't going to go faster, we are going to go as fast as the facts take us";
  • On Monday night, however, in what many have somewhat mischaracterized as Presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris "calling for impeachment," the California Democrat, during a CNN town hall, did call for Congress to "take steps toward impeachment." We contrast Harris' exceedingly cautious approach to the clarion calls for equal justice under the law and impeachment proceedings as a Constitutional duty issued by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren in recent days. She has been calling for same, in no uncertain terms, on the Presidential campaign trail since the release of Mueller's redacted report late last week, and said on Monday night on CNN, in response to charges that impeachment would distract from the 2020 campaign: "There is no political inconvenience exception to the United States Constitution."

    A number of other Democratic hopefuls have been far more cautious and/or circumspect than either of those two, including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders who says he worries a focus on impeachment could backfire on Dems and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg who concedes Trump "deserves impeachment", but that it's up to Congress, not him, to take action in that regard;

  • With the noteworthy exception of Warren, many Dems (and media geniuses) have cited the fact that Republicans in the Senate are unlikely to vote to convict the President, as a reason to shy away from impeachment proceedings entirely. (A simple majority is needed to approve articles of impeachment in the Democratic-controlled House, but a two-thirds vote is needed for conviction and removal of the President in the GOP-majority Senate). Playing slave to that conventional wisdom, however, largely allows Republicans a veto on which Presidents may or may not be impeached.

    Moreover, the convention wisdom should be challenged here, particularly given the statements that many of the currently seated Republican Senators have offered, on the record, in support of impeachment and removal from office for a President who has attempted to obstruct justice by witness tampering and lying to the American public. Trump was documented as having done so as many as ten different times, as per Mueller's Report.

    Of course, the Senators who we quote directly today on the need to remove a President for those very same crimes were speaking against President Bill Clinton during his impeachment proceedings back in 1998. But their arguments against Clinton apply directly to Trump. So, will those very same Senators --- there are 11 who voted in '98 and would be required to vote here --- hypocritically vote against conviction this time around, under arguably far more criminal circumstances, when confronted with their own words on the topic? Maybe, maybe not. We won't know, of course, unless Dems do the right and Constitutional thing by voting in favor of the rule of law and moving to impeach this lawless President. Even the clear demonstration of blatant GOP hypocrisy would be helpful to expose to the American people before the 2020 election, and perhaps serve to make specious impeachments against Democrats in the future more unlikely;

  • Finally, Rep. Elijah Cummings, Chair of the House Oversight Committee, said after the release of the redacted Mueller Report that he is "begging the American People to pay attention" and contact their members of Congress about this in order to save democracy for future generations. "At the rate we're going," he warns, "it won't be there." We are urging the same. You can reach your member of Congress at 202-224-3121...

Enjoy the program...

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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Finds Russians implanted malware, but didn't check if results affected
Also: News avalanche; AOC 'looks back' from future; Callers ring in on impeachment...
By Brad Friedman on 4/22/2019 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast, new details from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report supporting the argument we've been trying to make for the last two years: Nobody ever checked the results of the 2016 election to make sure they were correct! [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But, first, we open with an avalanche of important news headlines breaking today and over the weekend, including the deadly Easter bombings in Sri Lanka; A TV comedian becoming the next President of Ukraine by a landslide; Trump's latest vow to impose sanctions on allies who purchase oil from Iran; Woefully unqualified Federal Reserve Board candidate and alleged sexual harasser Herman Cain withdrawing his name from Trump's consideration; The GOP's stolen Supreme Court announcing plans to take up cases to determine whether LGBTQ people may be covered by anti-discrimination civil rights employment laws this Fall; and Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton jumping into the crowded Democratic Presidential nomination contest.

Then we move to our all too brief commemoration of Earth Day's 49th Anniversary on Monday, wherein our own Desi Doyen details how and why the annual celebration first came about beginning in 1970. Of course, as we like to say on our Green News Report, every day is Earth Day for us! Nonetheless, sticking with that theme today --- for those who only notice it once a year --- we share "A Message from the Future from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez" in which the freshman NY Democratic Congresswoman, from a couple of decades in the future, looks "back" on the world-changing successes of her Green New Deal program, as recently introduced with veteran Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA). The charming animated video, with illustrations by Molly Crabtree, is a thought experiment of sorts worth watching and/or listening to, as it helps explain how the GND would work to curb many of the worst effects of climate change, while providing millions of jobs and healthcare for all, as climate scientists have repeatedly warned the world must do within the next decade or face unstoppable consequences that threaten the entirety of human civilization.

Then, we move on to the revelation from the redacted Mueller Report [PDF] which has caused my Twitter feed to go somewhat bonkers since I cited it over the weekend. As the Special Counsel's report reveals (Vol. 1, pages 51-52, in the section entitled "Intrusions Targeting the Administration of U.S. Elections"), Russian intelligence operatives at the GRU targeted and infiltrated "individuals and entities involved in the administration of the [2016] elections. U.S. state and local entities, such as state boards of elections, secretaries of state, and county governments, as well as individuals who worked for those entities. The GRU also targeted private technology firms responsible for manufacturing and administering election-related software and hardware, such as voter registration software and electronic polling stations."

In other words, voter registration databases AND voting systems, such as voting machines and tabulators. Mueller's report goes on to concede that though the GRU was successful in implanting malware on a number of the targeted computers, "the [Special Counsel's] Office did not investigate further [and] did not, for instance, obtain or examine servers or other relevant items belonging to these victims." Instead, as Mueller writes, "The Office understands that the FBI, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the states have separately investigated that activity".

Only problem with that? As we have reported repeatedly over the past two years, Jeanette Manfra, the top DHS official in charge of overseeing cyber-intrusions of critical infrastructure such as voting and tabulation systems, conceded during a June 2017 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) that her department had not, in fact, conducted any forensic analyses of computer voting and tabulation systems or servers following the 2016 Presidential election. We play a clip from her Senate testimony to that end.

As far as we can tell, this means that nobody has ever conducted such an analysis, despite the stunning results of the 2016 Presidential election. That remains very troubling, considering that Trump reportedly won, very narrowly, by less than 80,000 votes total in the key swing-states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, none of which had voted GOP in a Presidential election for decades until 2016. The margins --- as reported by computers, but never verified by humans --- were close enough in each of those states that, had an average of just two votes in each precinct in each of those states been recorded for Hillary Clinton instead of Donald Trump, she, not he, would be President now.

Moreover, as the Mueller Report also documents, Trump's then Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort offered briefings and internal polling data to his business associate Konstanin Klimnik, a Ukrainian national tied to Russian intelligence, "on the state of the Trump Campaign and Manafort's plan to win the election," including what Manafort's partner Rick Gates described to the Special Counsel as "discussion of 'battleground' states, which Manafort identified as Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota."

So, at this point, that means nobody still knows whether Donald Trump was actually the legitimate choice of the voters who comprise the Electoral College. (We already know he lost the popular vote by some 3 million votes.) Most of those very same computer systems will be used once again in the 2020 Presidential election, though some --- for example in Philadelphia, the entire state of Georgia, Los Angeles County and elsewhere --- are being replaced with newer systems that are even more difficult for the public to oversee to ensure reported results reflect actual voter intent.

And, with all of that today, we open up the phone lines to listeners for thoughts on whether --- given the findings of the Mueller Report, including Trump's well-documented and repeated attempts to unlawfully obstruct the investigation itself --- Democrats in Congress should begin impeachment hearings or not. So far, Democrats are somewhat split on the issue, with a number of freshmen in the House calling for impeachment proceedings to begin and, so far, only Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) among the current Presidential candidates offering a clarion call for members of Congress to meet their Constitutional duties by officially investigating Trump's alleged high crimes and misdemeanors via an impeachment inquiry in the U.S. House and a vote on whether to convict and remove Trump from office in the U.S. Senate. Our callers offer somewhat mixed feelings as well, as you'll hear on today's very busy and fast-moving BradCast!...

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

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Also: WA adopts 'public option' health insurance; Fox 'News' town hall goes wild for Bernie's plan; Warren vows to end drilling; The unspeakable cruelty of Trump immigration policies and one hero standing up to them...
By Brad Friedman on 4/16/2019 6:56pm PT  

On today's BradCast you'll be outraged, saddened, amused, inspired and may even learn a thing or two --- or your money back! [Audio link for show is posted below.]

First up today: I'm thankful the French didn't listen to Donald Trump's terrible firefighting advice as the iconic, 850-year old Notre Dame was engulfed in flames in the heart of Paris on Monday, and very happy to see that firefighters were able to save most of the cathedral's historic stone structure and many of its artifacts, and gratified to hear that French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild it (somehow) in five years, and delighted to hear that, as of this afternoon, some $700 million had been raised for the project. But there's something about that last part that really sticks in my craw.

Specifically, the fact that, as CNN reported early on Tuesday: "France's three wealthiest families are coming to the rescue of a national icon, spearheading a fundraising drive to rebuild Notre Dame that has topped $700 million." The families and a number of huge corporations that joined them to top that number, are each multi-billionaires. For example, the Pinault family, which "generously" donated $113 million to the effort, is said to be worth some $37.3 billion. To put that it terms easier to understand, it's the equivalent of someone who is worth just $37,000 giving $113 to the charitable effort. While it's appreciated --- and $113 is a fair amount of money for someone with just $37,000 in savings, it's not really much money at all for someone with the type of obscene net worth enjoyed by the Pinaults. Still, we're happy to see it, even if the glowing public relations they are enjoying is far more than appropriate here.

But, making matters a bit more maddening? The world's fourth-largest oil and gas giant, TOTAL SA, which is based in Paris, has also pledged $113 million to the rebuilding effort. Last year, the company raked in a profit of $13.6 billion. That was up 28% from the previous year. At the same time, when Macron attempted, to institute a new tax on diesel gasoline last year, citizen protesters took to the streets in the so-called Yellow Vest movement protests to successfully force Macron, among other things, to reverse a .26 cents per gallon tax hike which might have otherwise raised nearly $4.2 billion. (The revenue from the ill-considered gas tax, while clumsily advertised as a carbon tax, of sorts, to help curb climate change, was not earmarked for clean energy projects, but to help pay off French debt instead.) But where were the billionaires then? Why wasn't TOTAL asked to cover the $4.2 billion instead of rank and file citizenry, when the company could have paid the entire $4.2 billion itself and still walked away with a cool $10 billion or so in profit to spare last year? Particularly since it is the reckless use of their products which are endangering not just a cathedral in Paris, but the entirety of human civilization?

The rich folks who are contributing to rebuild Notre Dame are getting a lot of good press today for their quick "charitable" efforts. That good press is greatly overstated as compared to what they actually deserve, as I discuss (or, perhaps, rant) in detail on today's program.

In other related and under-reported news of note, former Republican Governor William Weld announces he is taking on Trump in the 2020 GOP Presidential primary, Democratic Presidential hopefully Sen. Elizabeth Warren has announced she will stop all new leases for oil and gas drilling on public lands on her first day in office if elected, Sen. Bernie Sanders announced similar, and the Washington State legislature, under the leadership of Democratic Presidential candidate Gov. Jay Inslee, has not only passed a measure to move the state to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045, they've also adopted a "public option" healthcare insurance plan that will be made available to all residents.

And, speaking of healthcare and Sanders, a clip from the Vermont Senator's town hall on Fox "News" Monday night has gone viral, in which the Fox crowd is seen and heard going wild in support of his proposed single-payer, Medicare-for-All universal coverage proposal. Trump has a sad.

Next up, several maddening stories of the real world effects of Trump's unspeakably cruel immigration policies, including ICE's deportation last week of a man whose U.S. Military wife was killed in Afghanistan in 2010 and whose 12-year old, U.S. citizen daughter was left parentless in Phoenix (that story, at least, has a happy ending for now), and the 11-year old El Salvadoran girl in Houston who has been denied asylum and ordered deported without her family, despite gangs that have, reportedly, been systematically killing her family members after a relative witnessed a murder and testified in court.

Of particular note here is Houston's heroic Police Chief Art Acevedo who has loudly stood up for the child and taken on those elected officials and random Twitter wingnuts alike who support the Administration's monstrous policies that separate children from their parents. "Yep. The Nazi’s enforced their laws as well," Chief Acevedo observed. "You don’t separate children from their families! Ever! ... I am glad to be on the right side of history," he said after several impassioned pleas against the cruelty. "Not this chief, not this Nation, not this time!," he declared last year as the Trump Administration was caging children by the thousands.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with details on the swarm of tornadoes (41 of them!) which devastated areas from Texas to Delaware and killed nine over the weekend; more on a number of the 2020 candidates stepping up their climate change proposals; and on Trump's new Interior Secretary, "formerly" an oil and gas lobbyist, already facing probes by the Interior Department's Inspector General...

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

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Guest: Author, election law professor Joshua A. Douglas; Also: Notre Dame Cathedral burns; Trump flouts the law, endangers Congresswoman; Buttigieg makes it official; GOPers in AR and TN move to game elections...
By Brad Friedman on 4/15/2019 6:22pm PT  

Among the many stories we cover, before getting to our guest on today's BradCast --- as one institution after another feels as if they are burning to the ground, either literally or metaphorically [Audio link to full show is posted below]...

  • The historic, 850-year old Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was engulfed in flames today during renovations, with its famous spire and two-thirds of its roof collapsed, but its famous bell towers and Rose Windows hopefully spared;
  • The Dept. of Justice confirmed that, almost a month after Special Counsel Robert Mueller turned over his report on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, the Trump Campaign's coordination with the effort, and obstruction of justice by Donald Trump himself, a redacted version of the 400-page report would be given to both Congress and the public this Thursday;
  • Congressional Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee have agreed, for some reason, to extend their deadline for the IRS to turn over six years of Trump's tax returns until April 23, as the Administration continues to blatantly flaunt the decades-old federal law requiring the requested materials be given to Congress;
  • Death threats continued against Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) after the President of the United States posted a video on his Twitter feed which repeatedly used an out-of-context remark from the Somali-American Muslim Congresswoman to tie her, incredibly enough, to the 9/11 attacks, even after a Trump supporter last month was charged for calling her office to describe her as an "fucking terrorist" and vowing to "put a bullet in her fucking skull";
  • The 21-year old son of a white sheriff's deputy in Louisiana was officially charged with hate crimes after an arson spree which recently burned down three African-American churches in the state over 10 days;
  • And, on a far more more hopeful note, the 37-year old, openly gay, Afghanistan war vet and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg officially announced his run for the Democratic nomination for President over the weekend.

Next, speaking of elections, and before we are joined by our guest today, University of Kentucky College of Law election Professor JOSHUA A. DOUGLAS, a story of GOPers making it more difficult to register voters in Tennessee, and another on Republican state lawmakers working to make it next to impossible for progressives in Arkansas to place citizen initiatives on the ballot, after the state voted to increase the minimum wage via a ballot measure in 2018.

Douglas, author of the brand new book Vote for US: How to Take Back Our Elections and Change the Future of Voting, details a few of the stories from his book revealing how regular citizens in recent years have succeeded in pushing for local and state measures that have resulted in the expansion of the franchise, even in the face of the dark forces hoping to restrict access to the voting booth.

He shares, for example, the story of the Kentucky man who lost his right to vote for life in the state for stealing a car as a teenager decades ago, who was able to encourage his state's legislature to change the law to re-enfranchise those who have completed their sentences. And the story of the woman in Michigan whose anti-gerrymandering ballot initiative was adopted by voters last November. Both stories are told in more detail in his book. With so many stories in the news (and our program!) of voting rights being taken away or otherwise restricted, its important for folks to understand they can actually change that equation without relying on Congress or even major civil rights groups, often by taking action themselves.

"What I like to focus on, in addition to the doom and gloom that seems to invade our psyche with respect to the right to vote, are the positive stories of progress and success," Douglas tells me. "There's power in these inspiring stories that I tell in the book about ways to make our voting process more convenient and inclusive. We can quibble about some of the details, but hopefully the overarching message that we need to take back our elections through local grassroots work can really take hold."

With those hopeful notes, Douglas offers a list of groups and initiatives in his book who readers can contact and be inspired by to take action in their own home towns and states. We also discuss several emerging initiatives to expand access to voting, such as restoring voting rights to the incarcerated and even lowering the voting age to 16 (which is already being done for local elections in several jurisdictions!), as well as a number of initiatives on which we do not agree. That, of course, underscores the beauty of democracy...when we can actually find it. (Oh, and here's the link to where you can buy the book and a ticket to Josh's June 20 appearance at The Last Bookstore appearance here in L.A., as mentioned on the show!)

All of that, and even a quick --- rhyming --- listener call on today's program!...

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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MONTHLY BRAD BLOG SUBSCRIPTION
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Choose monthly amount...


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




Guest: Author Igor Volsky; Also: Lawless Trump; Regulatory capture complete; Freshmen Dems (and even John Kerry!) step up in Congress...
By Brad Friedman on 4/12/2019 6:26pm PT  

On today's BradCast: One reason after another why Democrats needs to step up and offer a bold and fearless vision for a more progressive, safer, healthier, more equal and prosperous America as we look beyond the dark, corrupt era of Donald Trump. [Audio link to show is posted below after summary.]

But we start today with what Trump tweeted out as "Great News!" on Thursday, a new poll he saw on Fox "News" labeled on screen as "TRUMP'S SOARING APPROVAL" finding him with an overall 55% approval rating! Only trouble, the poll from Georgetown University found him with a 55% DISapproval rating (and just 41% approval.) Don't hold your breath for Trump to delete the Tweet.

Why should he? He's gotten away with just about everything he and Fox could ever hope for, including the complete regulatory capture of the federal government which --- following Thursday's Senate confirmation of a longtime oil and gas industry lobbyist to lead the Interior Department --- now includes corporate executives and lobbyists heading virtually every Executive Agency meant to oversee and regulate the very industries they previously worked for. Do Fox viewers not mind that Trump has filled the D.C. "swamp" like it's never been filled before? Or do they not know? Or do they just not care? Given Trump's latest, impeachable behavior regarding the southern border, and the cheers he receives from supporters for it, it's a good guess that his Republican base couldn't care less. They vote as they are told (by Fox).

Next, on the same day that New Zealand's new ban on military-style assault weapons officially goes into effect --- after being approved by a 119 to 1 vote in Parliament this week, less than one month after a massacre by a white supremacist at two mosques in Christchurch killed 50 and wounded 50 others --- many in the U.S. are left wondering why any action to improve gun safety here remains seemingly impossible.

We're joined today by IGOR VOLKSY, founder of Guns Down America and author of the brand new book Guns Down: How to Defeat the NRA and Build a Safer Future with Fewer Guns. Volsky explains what lessons we might learn from New Zealand and why changing gun laws in the U.S., where more than 30,000 Americans are killed by guns each year, is so difficult.

He is calling for bold new platforms from 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates who, he says, have offered grand visions for the environment, health care and even taking on major corporations, but not when it comes to guns, where they beg for table scraps and barely incremental improvements --- if they even raise the issue. Volsky argues that, despite broad majority support for a host of common sense gun measures across all parties --- including for the banning of military-style assault weapons --- a new political framing is needed which isn't "designed to talk to some kind of mythical moderate voter".

"I am calling on the 2020 Presidential candidates to fundamentally reframe the conversation around guns, to establish a long term goal to establish a future with fewer guns, and to talk about the ways we need to raise the standard for gun ownership, for gun production," he tells me. "And by the way, when I say gun production, I mean actually regulating the firearm industry --- that it stops producing militarized weapons for the civilian market, both in terms of the assault weapons and the much more militarized handguns that use larger rounds." How to do that without flinching against the politically powerful NRA and its even more powerful rightwing propaganda outlets will not be easy, nor quick. He argues that it will require a bold, long term vision that is still absent from Democratic politics and messaging.

Finally today, two must-listen clips from Congressional hearings this week. The first features freshman Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA)'s absolutely shaming Jamie Dimon, CEO of the nation's largest bank, JPMorgan Chase, for the paltry salary he pays his own employees, even after the bank reported a more than $9 billion PROFIT in just the first quarter of 2019 alone. Many of his employees, she details, are actually losing money each month, even while working full time for Chase, while Dimon enjoyed a $31 million salary last year.

As Paul Waldman observed at WaPo after watching the instructive colloquy between Porter and Dimon, "JPMorgan Chase could give every one of its 250,000 employees a $25,000 raise, and it would cost the bank only about two-thirds of the profit it made just in the first quarter of this year." He too is hoping that Porter's point becomes a central theme for Democrats running for office. Other Democrats in Congress --- including those running for President in 2020 --- have a lot to learn from the new crop of first-term progressives in the House.

And lastly, an absolutely remarkable exchange in the House Oversight Committee between climate-science denying clown, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), and former Sec. of State John Kerry at a hearing on "The Need for Leadership to Combat Climate Change and Protect National Security." Suffice to say, if you're bested by John Kerry in a debate, you must be REALLY bad at this. And the laughable Massie certainly was...

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Guest: Media analyst Eric Boehlert; Also: Bad news for WI progressives after last week's Supreme Court election...
By Brad Friedman on 4/10/2019 6:54pm PT  

On today's BradCast, finding light on a very dark news day, and making sense of Devin Nunes' bizarre new legal attack against a well-respected media outlet. [Audio link for today's show is posted below.]

You know the news is dark on a day when the brightest spot seems to be the first-ever photographic evidence of a black hole in a galaxy that is 53 million light-years from Earth, as constructed by an international consortium of scientists from 20 different countries employing an array of observatories around the world to construct a virtual "telescope" the size of the planet itself. The assembled image of the supermassive black hole is the first such glimpse of such an object in space (theorized by Einstein over a century ago, but directly proven today for the first time) containing the same mass as 6.5 billion suns and so dense that nothing, not even light, can escape its gravitational pull.

Sounds a lot like the Trump Administration. But we (mostly) avoid that today, even as we discuss one of its biggest supporters in Congress, California Rep. Devin Nunes, and his increasingly mysterious (and troubling) new legal gambit.

But, before we get there today, an update on last week's razor thin race for a key seat on Wisconsin's Supreme Court. With computer-reported results from last week's election showing progressive-aligned Judge Lisa Neubaeur fell less than half of a percentage point shy of defeating far-right Judge Brian Hagedorn for a seat on the state's high court being vacated by a retiring progressive-leaned Justice, Neubauer decided on Wednesday against seeking a recount which she would have had to pay for under state law. Her concession today --- despite unofficial and unconfirmed computer tallies showing a loss by just about 6,000 votes out of some 1.2 million cast statewide --- means that progressives will be unable to regain a majority on the court until 2023 at the earliest. The new 5 to 2 rightwing majority all but scotches hopes for rolling back former Republican Governor Scott Walker's anti-union measures and GOP voter suppression laws, and could handicap the state's Democrats during the inevitable redistricting fights following the 2020 census. (Have we mentioned lately that elections matter?!)

Also today, more on the incoming and "potentially historic" "bomb cyclone" developing over plains states and the upper Midwest, where blizzard warnings have now been issued in 6 states, snowfall as high as two feet is predicted in some areas, and the threat of more major flooding is plaguing several states still fighting to recover from billions of dollars in damage from the last "bomb cyclone" which erupted just weeks ago. This latest evidence of the increasingly dangerous threat of catastrophic climate change comes on the same day as Donald Trump signed two new Executive Orders intended to make it more difficult for environmental regulations at the state level to prevent the construction of new oil and gas pipelines (which serve to exacerbate man-made global warming.)

Then, we're joined by veteran media analyst and author ERIC BOEHLERT to discuss the latest bizarre lawsuit, which seems to challenge the First Amendment itself, as filed by Nunes this week.

Several weeks ago, the California Congressman and top Trump ally in Congress filed a $250 million lawsuit against Twitter, the owners of two anonymous parody accounts (@DevonCow and @DevonNunesMom), as well as Republican strategist and Nunes/Trump opponent Liz Mair for defamation. This week, the GOP Congressman filed suit against Mair again, along with the 162-year old McClatchy Company, a news consortium which publishes the Fresno Bee, the hometown paper in the Nunes' central California district. His latest complaint seeks $150 million in damages, charging defamation based on an article published by the Bee last year detailing the settlement of a lawsuit after a charity yacht cruise which reportedly included cocaine and underage prostitutes, according to court documents cited by the paper. The cruise was auctioned off by the philanthropic arm of the Alpha Omega Winery, in which Nunes is an investor.

But where his Twitter suit seemed absurd, this new suit --- like the first one, originally reported by Fox "News", of course --- suggests a darker and more nefarious effort to undermine Constitutionally-protected freedom of the press. Who is funding these efforts by Nunes and why? Might it have anything to do with Trump's repeated assertions that libel laws need to change to make it easier for public figures like himself to challenge reporting that celebrities like himself don't care for?

Boehlert offers insight on what may be going on here: "The Republican Party has decided that Google, Twitter and Facebook are the new targets. And they're using the exact same playbook that they used on the traditional media for four decades, which is you work the refs, you scream and yell over these fake phony allegations of 'liberal media bias'. And it works! Facebook has bent over backwards to make sure Republicans are happy. Twitter could have easily banned Donald Trump two years ago and saved this country an enormous amount of pain, because he obviously violates the rules all the time. So it works."

But there may be even more behind all of this, as we discuss, along with his concerns about ongoing corporate media failures in the wake of Trump AG William Barr's handling of the still-secret Mueller Report and other related matters as we head into the 2020 Presidential election cycle.

Finally, we close with some listener mail regarding our ongoing discussions of how Dems should move forward as they attempt to remove both Donald Trump from office next year and the nation itself from the black hole we continue to sink into under his increasingly dark reign...

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Also: Kansas conman Kobach's comeback?; GOP's 'Green Real Deal'...
By Brad Friedman on 4/9/2019 6:25pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's not enough that Trump has fired just about everyone in his failed Administration (or they quit), and has failed to fill the vacancies left behind, and that he has personally violated an unprecedented number of laws both before and after taking office, or that he's purging most of his top officials who work on immigration. No, it's even more distributing than that. [Audio file for today's show is posted below.]

Last week, the President of the United States said, with cameras rolling, that we "have to get rid of judges" just days before, reportedly, instructing Customs and Border Patrol agents to ignore the rule of law and simply block immigrants from exercising their right to claim asylum at the southern border once on U.S. territory. That, of course, would be a violation of both U.S. law and international treaties.

According to CNN's Jake Tapper, Trump instructed agents at the border in Calexico, California on Friday to tell immigrants the U.S. is "full" and "at capacity" and "if judges give you trouble, say, 'Sorry, judge, I can't do it. We don't have the room.'" If true, that would be an unlawful instruction from the President of the United States ordering a law enforcement officer to violate law and then to do so again once a federal judge has ordered otherwise. Real Presidents (at least Democratic ones) would be --- or should be --- impeached for such things. But we have the Republican Donald Trump as our President.

In other related Trump immigration meltdown news today...

  • More on why Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was pushed out by White House hardliners (after she reportedly refused to violate the law as Trump was demanding and also pushed back against Trump's order to close ports of entry at the border entirely);
  • Poor, disgraced, former KS Sec. of State, failed gubernatorial candidate and GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach --- recently floated to take over some immigration duties for the Trump Administration --- may be blocked from a Senate-confirmed post because, as Kansas' GOP U.S. Senator Pat Roberts told reporters today, Kobach is so toxic that apparently even the GOP-majority Senate "can't confirm him". Luckily, Republicans who used to pretend to hate Presidential "czars" have a very short memory, so there may be another way into the Administration for Kobach, the currently jobless Kansas conman;
  • As to judges, another one in federal court on Monday night temporarily blocked yet another key Trump immigration policy, at least for now. The federal courts are unlikely to like Trump's new one any better, I suspect.

Also today --- actually, right at the top of the show --- some listener mail in follow-up to my conversation on yesterday's program with the ACLU's Phil Aroneanu regarding the group's newly-launched Rights For All campaign which seeks to get 2020 candidates on record regarding several "thorny" issues regarding civil liberties and Constitutional rights. A number of listeners had some thoughts on my questions for Aroneanu regarding the potential political dangers of backing Democratic candidates into politically difficult policy positions as they attempt to unseat arguably the worst President --- from a civil liberties and Constitutional rights perspective --- our nation has ever had. We share and discuss a few of those listener emails today.

And, finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as the Midwest buckles up for another potential "bomb cyclone" and still more catastrophic flooding to follow it; Global warming has pushed the Arctic into an "unprecedented" new state; and the GOP, after ridiculing the Democrats' Green New Deal have introduced their own response to it called the 'Green Real Deal'. You may be surprised who the lead Congressional sponsor is, though less surprised as to what the plan actually calls for...

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Guest: ACLU's Phil Aroneanu; Also: Nielsen out at DHS, as Trump's far-right agency purge rolls out amid immigration crisis; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 4/8/2019 6:19pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Two tracks, plus callers, as the Right ascends at the White House and the ACLU's fight to restore civil and Constitutional rights finds its way into the 2020 President campaign. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

The hardliners are rising at the White House today, as Trump continues to purge top officials from several different key agencies, including the sprawling Dept. of Homeland Security (Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to resign on Sunday); Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ron Vitiello, Trump's nominee to head the agency was suddenly withdrawn last week after already clearing a key Senate hurdle); U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (both its Director and General Counsel were purged today); the Secret Service (its Director Randolph "Tex" Alles is now said to be leaving); and the bloodbath is continuing at other agencies as well. All of that as the number of families seeking asylum at the southern border continues to increase despite --- or, perhaps, because of --- a number of failed Trump Administration policies.

Moreover, on Monday, the foreign policy hardliners at the White House are ascendant at well, as the Administration is announcing its designation of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization. It's the first time the U.S. has designated a foreign government entity in such a way, and the move is reportedly opposed by top Pentagon and CIA officials who fear blow-back to American troops and intelligence operatives abroad. Indeed, Iran has already responded by calling for U.S. Central Command, which oversees operations in the Middle East, to be designated as a terrorist organization in response.

Amidst this latest disturbing lurch to the hard-right by the Trump Administration, some of us continue to look forward to 2020 when voters can, hopefully, do something about it. To that end, for the first time in its storied history, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is jumping into electoral politics in a major way this year, recently announcing they are spending $30 million to help get 2020 candidates on the record when it comes to a number of important issues for civil libertarians, including some that are quite thorny politically.

For example, the group's new national RightsForAll.us campaign seeks to force candidate to answer as to whether or not they support decreasing the bloated U.S. prison population by 50 percent (and, if so, how); allowing the incarcerated to vote (currently, only Maine and Vermont do so); and whether they would supporting overturning the Hyde Amendment (which bars the use of federal funds for abortion, other than in cases of rape, incest or protection of the life of the mother).

We're joined today by the ACLU's Digital Organizing Strategy Director PHIL ARONEANU to discuss the initiative, including whether some of the "thorniest" questions for candidates (as available at the campaign's website) on Voting Rights, Criminal Justice Reform, Immigrants' Rights and Reproductive Freedom might, in fact, become a liability for those candidates if they answer them one way or another. That, in an age when one of the greatest threats to civil liberties and Constitutional rights clearly continues to be the man in the White House, who Democratic candidates will have to defeat to see any possibility of the restoration of such rights.

So, how does the ACLU, a non-partisan organization, respond to some of those questions and concerns? Tune in for my conversation with Aroneanu today to find out.

Then, we open up the phone lines today for listener thoughts on all of the above. You'll not be shocked to learn, they have many...

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Guest: Theresa Cardinal Brown of the Bipartisan Policy Center; Also: More Trump losses in federal court on the environment; Callers!...
By Brad Friedman on 4/1/2019 6:09pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The "national emergency" may be fake, but the crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border is real and getting worse...and new Trump policies are doing the opposite of helping. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Last week, Donald Trump threatened to shutdown the border with Mexico entirely. Over the weekend, he announced he was ending aid programs to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras (which are not in Mexico, Fox "News"!) because, as he claimed, "they haven't done a thing for us." All of that, as an actual humanitarian crisis --- if not a pretend "National Emergency" --- grips a number of U.S. towns along the Mexico border, thanks to an unprecedented wave of migrant families and children coming, mostly, from Central American countries in strife.

We're joined today by THERESA CARDINAL BROWN, Director of Immigration and Cross-border Policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center to try and make sense of what is and isn't happening at the border right now, how Trump's policies are affecting it, and what Congress needs to do try to ease what she acknowledges is, indeed, a crisis, if not the "emergency" that Trump has declared in order to build his long promised wall.

Brown, a former policy advisor in the Office of the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection during both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama Administrations, confirms that the influx of migrants streaming up from Central America is unprecedented and now overwhelming detention facilities and shelters built for previous waves of migrants --- such as the record number which flowed in during 2000, largely comprised of mostly men from Mexico who could be deported more quickly than the families now claiming asylum after crossing the border. (Brown notes that even a wall would not prevent such asylum claims, as it would be build on the U.S. side of the border, allowing asylum seeking immigrants to make their claim even before making it to the other side of the wall, since they are already on U.S. territory by that time.)

Brown suggests Trump's termination of U.S. aid for Central American would serve to make the problem worse, as much of those funds go to non-governmental organizations trying to improve the living conditions in countries under duress from poverty and violence. She also details the economic disaster that would likely accompany the closure of the Mexican border threatened by the President ("this may be a threat aimed at Mexico, but it would also significantly impact the United States"), and explains why "the wall will do absolutely nothing to address this current flow of people." That, she describes, as a problem due to U.S. Customs and Border Protection becoming "overstretched" because they do "not have facilities that are appropriate for anyone --- families or kids --- for the length of time they're having to be held there."

We must "address our asylum system. And that means, back to front, starting with the immigration courts" which are similarly overwhelmed and insufficiently funded, she argues, resulting in cases that stretch for years before asylum is determined one way or another. "Ultimately, what we need to do is deal with what's going on in the sending countries," she tells me. "What are the push factors that are driving migration? You have instability of government, you have people who don't feel that they have personal safety because there's impunity and corruption in their governments. They are threatened with gangs and violence and extreme poverty. What can we do to help in that situation? That's the longer term solution, but it needs to be also worked at the source. So we've got to look at this from multiple places."

Next up today, Trump's multiple losses in federal courts last week on several fronts where he's tried to undermine the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") may have been matched by his multiple losses in federal court last week on the environmental front, including a ruling from a federal Judge in Alaska late on Friday who determined that the Administration's reversal of Obama-era protections against off-shore oil drilling in the Arctic and parts of the Atlantic Oceans violate federal law. She has ordered some 128 million previously-protected acres that Trump's Admin has hoped to lease for drilling, once again off-limits to exploration and exploitation. The ruling is at least the fourth setback over the past two weeks for Trump environmental policy, where federal courts have blocked Trump agency rollbacks of nearly two dozen Obama-era conservation policies over the past two years.

Finally, we open up the phone lines to listeners today on much of the above and even a few callers with some thoughts on 2020 and more...

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Guest: Former WI Supreme Court candidate Tim Burns; Also: Courts block Trump 'Obamacare' attacks; WI's Supreme Court election is a big deal...
By Brad Friedman on 3/29/2019 6:36pm PT  

On today's BradCast, some facts --- real ones, not Mitch McConnell's --- about our nation's healthy history of changing the number of seats on the U.S. Supreme Court, which we have done seven different times over the past 238 years since our founding. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But, first up quickly today, Donald Trump has taken yet another hit from the courts on his attempt to undermine the Affordable Care Act and the U.S. healthcare system. It's the second such court loss he's faced over the past week, with the first court nixing his attempt to allow work requirements under Medicaid in Kentucky and Arkansas, and the second on Thursday night finding his allowance of cheap health insurance policies that don't meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") to be unlawful. That second ruling comes courtesy of a well-respected George W. Bush-appointed federal judge who is rarely reversed by appellate courts.

Next, a preview of a very important election on Tuesday in Wisconsin for its state Supreme Court. Its the first of two elections to the high court in the Badger State (one on Tuesday and the other next year on the same day as the Democratic Presidential primary election in WI) that could result in a progressive-leaning majority, at long last, being restored to WI's high court. Control of that court is wildly important for both the state and the nation on a number of fronts, which we discuss today, including voting rights before the 2020 election, redistricting for the next decade after the 2020 Census, and the rollback of a host of anti-union and other hard-right policies enacted during the gerrymandered Scott Walker years.

Tuesday's match-up is between progressive-backed Judge Lisa Neubauer and Koch Industries/Chamber of Commerce-backed Judge Brian Hagedorn, a protege of former Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Hagedorn has called Planned Parenthood a "wicked organization" devoted to "killing babies", described the NAACP as "a disgrace to America", and argued "The idea that homosexual behavior is different than bestiality as a constitutional matter is unjustifiable."

But while voters in WI directly select their Supreme Court at the ballot box (which I am no fan of), the U.S. Supreme Court is a different matter. After Senate Republicans stole what should have been a Democratic majority on the court in 2016 by refusing to even hold a vote on Judge Merrick Garland, Barack Obama's nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell held the seat vacant for a year before unilaterally changing Senate rules to do away with the filibuster to allow Neil Gorsuch to be seated on the high court. Later, under those same changed rules, the far-rightwing, accused sexual-predator Brett Kavanaugh was similarly added to the Court, likely cementing a generation of GOP-control.

In response, many progressives --- even Presidential candidates --- are now calling for the expansion of SCOTUS if Democrats can regain control of the U.S. House, Senate and White House next year, in order to restore a liberal-leaning majority that arguably should have been theirs in 2016. Naturally, McConnell is already decrying the idea, describing it on Thursday, ironically enough, as "an unprincipled power grab...that would threaten the rule of law and our American Judicial system." He cites the attempted court packing by Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s to support his notion that changing the size of the Court is "a thoroughly discredited idea".

We're joined today by Wisconsin attorney and former state Supreme Court nominee TIM BURNS for both thoughts on Tuesday's crucial election in the state ("The stakes are huge," he explains) and the little-known history of "court packing" in the U.S. More specifically, Burns, who wrote about the issue recently at The New Republic, discusses the seven different times since the founding of our republic when the number of seats on the U.S. Supreme Court has been changed by Congress, including under one of our founders Thomas Jefferson and even under Republican Party icon Abraham Lincoln.

Burns, who serves on the board of the progressive Wisconsin Justice Initiative and the national board of the American Constitution Society, argues that contrary to misleading claims by McConnell and fellow Republicans, changes made to the size of SCOTUS by the Legislative and Executive Branches, as called for by the U.S. Constitution, have been healthy for the nation, often coming "hand in hand with some of the most vibrant periods of our democracy," and in response to the out-sized growth of corporate power.

"There have always been these predictions of the utter ruin of our democracy if the size of the Court is changed," Burns tells me. "The truth is, the Court's been viewed favorably even after its size has changed." And while he says that it's "entirely possible" that Republicans could then do the same thing once they regain power, "that doesn't spell the doom of our democracy. It says that our democracy is working. The political power rests with the voter instead of nine lawyers, judges on a Supreme Court."

Perhaps that's why Senate GOPers this week have introduced a measure calling for a Constitutional Amendment to keep the number of seats on the Court at nine. Good luck with that, boys.

Most interesting, however, may be Burns' fascinating recounting of what happened when FDR attempted unsuccessfully to expand the Court in what McConnell falsely described as an historic event that resulted in the idea of "Court Packing" becoming "synonymous in American history with the idea of an unprincipled power grab". What actually happened in the 1930s, and why the Court was ultimately not expanded under FDR is a fascinating bit of lost history and quite different from the way it has been described in lore. The truth places new calls to expand the Court today, during this period of unprecedented partisanship and class-divide under a hard-Right SCOTUS, into a very different light and perspective as this debate kicks off both in the nation and among Democrats vying for the 2020 Presidential nomination....

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Guest: Suzanne Almeida of Common Cause; Also: Lack of campaign finance charges against Don Jr., Manafort threaten 2020 elections...
By Brad Friedman on 3/27/2019 6:02pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Something seemingly very interesting may have occurred at Tuesday's oral arguments on two separate, if related, partisan redistricting cases at the U.S. Supreme Court. The results, believe it or not, could change the outcome from what many voting rights advocates had previously predicted following the resignation of Justice Anthony Kennedy and the subsequent seating of his far-right replacement Justice Brett Kavanaugh. [Audio link to complete show is posted at end of article.]

The scourge of state legislative and Congressional maps drawn for partisan advantage by the party in power after a decennial Census has crippled democracy and the voting power of citizens for decades in the U.S. But the GOP dramatically upped the stakes following the 2010 Census when they employed highly sophisticated computer mapping techniques to ensure themselves huge electoral advantages over the ensuing ten years by drawing extremely partisan maps that "packed" Democrats into a small number of districts or "cracked" them among several in order to dilute the voting power of non-Republicans.

It's a practice that Democrats have carried out as well, if not to the same extreme as Republicans who took over many statehouses in the 2010 "red wave" election. A new analysis from AP finds that 2018's "blue tsunami" election, for example, would have been much larger for Congressional Democrats, were it not for many extremely partisan GOP-drawn maps in a number of key states, including North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Alabama and Texas. The AP study finds "Republicans won about 16 more U.S. House seats" than they would have under fair maps. Similarly, "Republicans' structural advantage might have helped them hold on to as many as seven [state legislative] chambers that otherwise could have flipped to Democrats."

While the U.S. Supreme Court has long found gerrymanders on a racial basis to be unconstitutional, they've yet to affirm the many lower court rulings finding partisan gerrymanders to be similarly unconstitutional. Last term, when many believed SCOTUS was prepared to do so, the Court punted instead on several cases of extreme partisan maps in Wisconsin, North Carolina and elsewhere, before Justice Kennedy --- thought to have been the likely swing-vote in favor of ending the odious practice --- announced his retirement.

On Tuesday, one of those cases, Common Cause v. Rucho --- where a federal appeals court determined (twice!) that North Carolina's Congressional maps were unlawfully skewed for Republicans (they've held a 10 to 3 advantage in their Congressional delegation for the past decade, despite the state being almost evenly divided between Republican and Democratic voters) --- was heard again at SCOTUS. Another case, Benesik v. Lamone, in which a single Congressional district in Maryland was drawn by Democrats specifically to remove an incumbent Republican, was heard as well.

And while many voting rights advocates have not had high hopes for either case, given the even farther-right leaning majority on the court following Kennedy's retirement, there were some surprises during oral argument, particularly from Justice Kavanaugh whose decision in one or both of the cases could change history by delivering a major win for voting rights.

We're joined today to discuss these potentially encouraging developments with SUZANNE ALMEIDA, Redistricting and Representation Counsel for Common Cause, the lead plaintiff in the NC case. She was in the Court on Tuesday for both hearings and explains what seems to have happened, offers insight on what could now occur, decries why these cases are so important, and what may happen when SCOTUS finally delivers it's crucial opinion in June in advance of both the crucial 2020 elections and the subsequent redistricting of all 50 states that will follow the 2020 Census.

"The North Carolina case is a particularly egregious case, for a couple of reasons," Almeida tells me. "One is that we have an admission. On the floor of the General Assembly, Representative Lewis leaned into a microphone and said, 'This is a partisan gerrymander. I wanted to this map to be 10-3 because it couldn't be 11-2.' That's not the way that map-drawing should work, and that's not the way representation should work in America." She also discusses, for example, how one district line drawn by the GOP in North Carolina actually splits an historically African-American college in two, so that its voters are diluted into two separate Republican-leaning districts.

As to the matter concerning Kavanaugh, who was reportedly disturbed by his own district in Maryland, where he lives, being gerrymandered by Democrats to prevent Republican representation, Almeida confirms that he seemed to want to find a standard that could be used by courts to determine if districts were unlawfully gerrymandered on a partisan basis. She says she shares "the characterization that Justice Kavanaugh has a personal interest in the Maryland case ... And he was pushing back quite strongly against the advocate for the state."

Almeida also pushed back at the notion from Justices on the right that Courts should simply stay out of these matters, and leave them to voters and the legislators who drew the maps to keep themselves in power in the first place, she tells me: "This idea that the Court has that somehow this is self-correcting, or will fix itself through the magic of the political process, just doesn't work. And that's because gerrymandering is about power, and people in power staying in power. And when the people in power have that power to make the rules and draw the lines, that's what they're going to keep doing."

She adds that comments from Kavanaugh and even Chief Justice Roberts during the proceedings on Tuesday are "reason to be optimistic". But I'll wait until the opinions come out in June before popping any champagne bottles on what could be, according to Mark Joseph Stern at Slate the "most important voting rights victory of the century so far."

Also on today's program: Speaking of 2020, some curious questions about why nobody from Team Trump --- particularly Donald Trump Jr. or campaign chair Paul Manafort --- has yet been charged with campaign finance violations regarding "soliciting" and/or "accepting" a "thing of value" from a foreign government, as clearly occurred in relation to the now-infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a number of Russian nationals. Election law expert Rick Hasen argues that the lack of indictments brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in this matter does not bode well for the Dept. of Justice's plans to enforce election laws that bar "foreign governments from sharing information --- even information obtained from illegal hacking --- with campaigns, for the purposes of influencing the 2020 election...and beyond"...

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Guest: NatSec, cybersecurity and voting system journalist Kim Zetter; AND BREAKING: MUELLER GIVES REPORT TO ATTORNEY GENERAL...
By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2019 6:54pm PT  

Today's BradCast kicks of with the breaking news of the announcement, just minutes before air, that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finally wrapped up his two year investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, cooperation in the effort by Team Trump and any obstruction of that probe by the President of the United States. Though that may be the least troubling news on today's show. [Audio link to complete shows is posted below article.]

Mueller's confidential report has now been delivered to Attorney General William Barr, as per statute, and Trump's new AG promptly notified Congress [PDF] to say he plans to release a summary of the report as soon as possible, potentially as early as this weekend. We share what we know (and don't) from that freshly breaking news at the top of today's program. Then it's back to, at least some of, our previously scheduled program...

On the day that Jimmy Carter officially becomes the longest living President in U.S. history, we're reminded of a warning he issued while serving as co-Chair, with Bush Family consigliere James Baker, of the so-called "Commission on National Election Reform" formed by a group of Republican operatives after the highly disputed 2004 Presidential election in Ohio. The Blue Ribbon panel was, ostensibly, formed to make recommendations on how to improve elections after the second disastrous Presidential election in a row, following the 2000 debacle in Florida. But while the Republicans who created the private commission had hoped for a recommendation for photo ID voting restrictions at the polling place, the one we've cited most often over the years is the Commission's unambiguous finding that the greatest threat posed to elections comes from insiders, such as election officials and private voting system vendors. "There is no reason to trust insiders in the election industry any more than in other industries," the Carter/Baker panel warned in their final report.

That warning is particularly trenchant today, with, as we recently reported, the Democratic National Committee now calling for some form of remote or online voting during their 2020 Presidential nominating caucuses next year and what has just happened with the online voting system that Switzerland has used for some time in parts of the country.

The Swiss had planned to roll out their system nationally this year, but as longtime cybersecurity and voting system journalist KIM ZETTER of MotherBoard and the New York Times reports, things did not go as well as planned.

Zetter joins us to discuss the alarming story of what happened when Switzerland, last month, opened up a month-long public hack challenge for the system which, they previously boasted, had easily passed many regular internal security checks and even several they had contracted from KPMG, an international auditing giant.

But, as Zetter recently detailed at MotherBoard, the Swiss system, designed by Barcelona-based Scytl --- "a leader in developing various internet and other voting solutions for national or regional elections in 42 countries, including at least 1,400 counties in the US" --- was almost immediately found by independent researchers to feature "a critical flaw in the code that would allow someone to alter votes without detection ... in a part of the system that is supposed to verify that all of the ballots and votes counted in an election are the same ones that voters cast." That flaw, Zetter details, "could allow someone to swap out all of the legitimate ballots and replace them with fraudulent ones, all without detection."

As she tells me today, the failure is even more troubling than that, as it allows for a single insider to exploit a "back door in the cryptography scheme, that would allow someone to alter votes but make it look like the votes haven't been altered at all." In other words, "the system is supposed to have a check in it that's designed to ensure that the ballots that go into that encryption process and come out of that de-cryption process are the exact same ballots. But there's a flaw in that proof that verifies that those ballots are the same. Therefore, that would allow someone to swap out the votes and ballots while the proof still seemed to show that the ballots were the same."

Swiss Post, which runs the system, and Scytl who sells it, claim the exploit could "only" be carried out by an insider, so why worry?

So how are those plans coming for remote voting in the DNC's 2020 Presidential caucuses next year? And how can it be that we keep attempting these same unworkable electronic and online voting schemes from private vendors and election officials who swear by the "certified" security of their systems, only to find they are anything but secure once independent experts are allowed to test them in any way?

"We should have a voting system where we're not required to trust anyone --- we're not required to trust election officials, we're not required to trust the vendors, we're not required to trust the voting machine itself," Zetter, who has been covering electronic voting and tabulation systems on her national cybersecurity beat for more than a decade, tells me. "We should have a system that can be audited independently of all of those parties in order to verify the election results. That's really in the best interests of everyone." What such a system should be, of course, is another matter, which we also discuss, and even debate a bit, on today's important program...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 3/21/2019 11:45am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Staggering economic losses from extreme weather and historic floods in the Upper Midwest; 'Shelter in place' order issued after massive, toxic chemical fire extinguished in Houston; Trump EPA chief Wheeler pushes more dangerous delay on climate change, while 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates push climate change solutions; PLUS: Federal judge blocks oil and gas drilling in Wyoming in 'Holy Grail' ruling... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...

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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): 'We don't have anything': the fight for survival after Cyclone Idai; Congress’ inaction endangers black lung fund; Trump's [bogus] $100 trillion price tag for the Green New Deal came from a tweet; Solar and wind firms call the 'Green New Deal’ too extreme; Spinach, Strawberries, Kale Top List Of Most Pesticide-Tainted Produce; Mining Company Quashed Dam Safety Audit Efforts Before Brazil Disaster; Jury Finds Monsanto’s Roundup Likely Cause Of Cancer In 2nd Bay Area Man; Western States Finalize Landmark Drought Plan For Colorado River Water... PLUS: Banks Put $1.9 Trillion Into Fossil Fuels Since The Paris Climate Deal... and much, MUCH more! ...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Guest: Dr. Micah Kubic of ACLU Florida; Also: Beto on voter suppression; Abrams says she 'won' in GA; U.S. judge blocks oil, gas drilling in WY...
By Brad Friedman on 3/20/2019 6:33pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the fight to vote, particularly in Florida, never seems to end --- even after a huge bi-partisan majority of voters in the state voted to change their Constitution last November to re-enfranchise more than a million of their fellow citizens. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Following decades of post-Civil War Reconstruction/Jim Crow-era lifetime prohibitions on former felons voting in the Sunshine State, voters last fall overwhelmingly adopted Amendment 4 to their state Constitution. The statewide ballot referendum, adopted with nearly 65 percent of the vote, restores full voting rights to former felons who have completed their sentence, including probation and parole. The only exception to the long-overdue landmark measure is for those convicted of murder or felony sexual offenses.

Moreover, the measure --- placed on the ballot after 800,000 signatures were collected across the state by the non-partisan Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, as part of a years-long effort --- was to be self-executing. In other words, as of January 1, 2019, the amendment went into effect, without any supporting legislation necessary. That means as many as 1.5 million former felons, at long last, have begun registering to vote to take part in their own representative democracy, finally ending the state's shameful, decades-long prohibition. This week, however, after introducing a bill on Friday, Republicans in the state legislature have begun speeding a new measure through the GOP-controlled state House of Representatives to add new restrictions on the Constitutional Amendment, limiting which former felons it would apply to and, as critics charge, adding what amounts to an unconstitutional "poll tax" that many former felons would have to pay before being allowed back on the rolls.

The ACLU of Florida derides the new legislation, which was approved in a House sub-committee along party lines on Tuesday, as "an affront to Florida voters", raising "serious constitutional concerns" which "thwart the will of the people and extend far beyond what any reasonable person would conclude the voters intended when they passed Amendment 4".

We're joined today by DR. MICAH W. KUBIC, Executive Director of ACLU Florida, to explain how state Republicans are attempting "to create new barriers and burdens" to the "crystal clear" language of the referendum, which, he notes, the Supreme Court of the State of Florida already approved before it was placed onto the ballot last year. Lawmakers "are changing the process completely, and changing it in a way that had never been used in the state of Florida before," Kubic tells me. "They're rewriting the amendment, they're rewriting the process that has been used throughout Florida, and they're creating a special set of conditions that only apply to ex-offenders that don't apply to anyone else."

"What is important here is to remember the experiences of the 1.4 million people who have been disenfranchised for decades, for generations, in Florida. Who have been told that they are not part of our community, essentially. Because remember, that's what the right to vote is really about --- going in to the ballot box and voting for a Democrat or a Republican or a Libertarian or anyone," Kubic argues. "The right to vote is really a marker of citizenship. It's a marker of who counts and who doesn't, who matters, who doesn't, who is part of the community and who is not."

We discuss with Kubic the way GOP lawmakers are attempting to expand the definition of "sexual offenses", and adding new requirements --- above and beyond fines imposed by judges during sentencing --- that many ex-offenders will simply be unable to pay. Given the national importance of Florida in next year's crucial Presidential election, it may come as little surprise, sadly, that GOP lawmakers are now hoping to undermine even their own voters' approval of last year's landmark ballot measure.

Also on today's program, speaking of next year's elections, a bit of 2020 Democratic primary news. Beto O'Rourke rails against discriminatory Photo ID voting restrictions and other types of voter suppression during a New Hampshire campaign swing. And we discuss the veracity of possible 2020 Presidential candidate and Georgia's former Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams' recently reported assertion that she "did win" her election last November after all, against former vote-suppressing Sec. of State turned Governor Brian Kemp, but "just didn't get to have the job."

Given the widespread voter suppression under Kemp's supervision last year, some 125,000 votes said to be missing entirely (and in disproportionately black neighborhoods) from the Lieutenant Governor's race, and that the state still forces voters to use easily-manipulated, oft-failed 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems at the polling place, Abrams' assertion is far more supportable than some elections experts seem to fully appreciate.

Of course, the ongoing controversy --- and Kemp's questionable legitimacy as the state's new Governor --- underscores our many years of warnings about the use of voting systems that do not allow candidates or the public to ever know who actually won or lost any given election. It's also another teachable moment regarding the alarming fact that even more jurisdictions around the nation --- from California to Texas to Georgia to Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Kansas, Delaware and beyond --- are now, astonishingly enough, moving to adopt similarly unverifiable computer touchscreen voting systems in advance of the 2020 election!

Finally, we end with what appears to be a bit of very good news, as a federal judge issued a ruling Tuesday night that blocks for now, oil and gas drilling on almost 500 square miles of public lands in Wyoming, after finding the U.S. government unlawfully failed to consider the cumulative effect of climate change causing greenhouse gas emissions in their environmental impact studies when approving oil, gas and coal projects on federal lands. One of the plaintiffs in the case hailed the judge's finding, which may affect other fossil fuel leases on federal lands far beyond Wyoming, as "the Holy Grail ruling we've been after"...

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Climate catastrophe strikes Midwest; MO lawmaker to force everyone to buy an AR-15; Kids fight for the planet; Also: Dem 2020 candidates seek to abolish Electoral College; Daylight Saving Time haters strike back...
By Brad Friedman on 3/19/2019 6:31pm PT  

On today's BradCast, climate change slams Trump Country (again), several 2020 Democratic candidates call for structural change to our electoral system, some elected jerk in Missouri wants government to mandate everyone purchase an AR-15, and we continue to help you make sense of it all --- or, at least, try to make sense of it for ourselves. [Audio link to full show is posted at bottom of summary.]

Donald Trump responded to catastrophic record flooding in Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa and several other states by sending his Vice President Mike Pence to check it out today. In just Nebraska, damage to the agriculture industry alone is expected to near $1 billion. Had the President himself gone, he might have seen, first hand, yet again, how climate disruption has begun to wreak devastating and costly havoc on virtually every area of the U.S. at this point.

He might also have seen how two military bases --- one of them the headquarters for Strategic Command, which oversees our nation's nuclear arsenal --- have been devastated by floodwaters, despite recent upgrades after a "one thousand year flood" back in 2015 and devastating tornadoes in 2017. The flood walls built after 2015 have failed, as have dozens of levees in state after state as the waters of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers continue to rise several feet above record flood levels.

Those fossil fueled disasters are of a piece with multiple recent reports by Trump's own scientific, military and intelligence agencies warning of the catastrophic effects of climate change, including last November's National Climate Assessment, a Pentagon report on the national security threat posed by climate change in January and, just weeks later, the U.S. Intelligence Community's annual consensus World Threat Assessment. Trump responded to the November report last year by saying: "I don't believe it". In response, the White House is reportedly preparing a commission to rebut to those reports, headed up by a climate science-denying retired physics professor named William Happer, who believes more CO2 in the atmosphere is beneficial, not a menace. He also compares the "demonization" of C02 by climate scientists to Hitler's demonization of the Jews. Seriously.

In other, slightly less insane news related to moving beyond our ongoing national Presidential nightmare, two 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates this week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren at a CNN townhall in Mississippi and Mayor Pete Buttigieg in an interview with Washington Post, have called for the Electoral College to be abolished. We discuss and explain why that may or may not be such a smart idea --- whether done via a Constitutional Amendment or statutorily via the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact --- or, at least something for which Dems may want to be careful what they wish for.

Next, a Missouri state lawmaker has introduced two bills that would force every Missourian over 21 in the state to own either an AR-15 or a handgun or both. Don't worry, there will be tax credits available to help you meet the mandate. The legislators name is Rep. Andrew McDaniel (R-Deering) in case anybody feels like taking this idiot on at the polls in 2020.

And then we share a few emails from listeners who strongly disagree with our conversation on yesterday's program with Slate's Mark Joseph Stern about the benefits of Daylight Saving Time, the cold, dark, endless nights of Standard Time and how wrong everybody is that feels otherwise. Those listeners who disagree with us --- despite their very interesting emails --- are, of course, entirely wrong.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, filled with one deadly fossil fuel-related climate and environmental disaster after another from just the past several days, while finishing with some much more hopeful news for the future as millions of kids around the world skipped school last Friday to march in Climate Strikes around the globe, calling for action on global warming while vowing to keep the pressure on elected officials who, so far, have failed us all...

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

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