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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Sunday 'Ratings to Die For' Toons
A lot of people are saying there are many many highly-rated 'cures' for coronavirus in PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
U.S. ECONOMY CRATERING; Judge Allows WI Election to Proceed: 'BradCast' 4/2/20
Staggering unemployment numbers; McConnell tells Pelosi to 'stand down' on new relief bill; WI set to hold deadly vote on Tuesday...
'Green News Report' 4/2/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Critical UN climate conf. cancelled; Coal co. seeks to dump retired miner obligations; States criminalize pipeline protests; PLUS: Nat'l parks to stay open after workers test positive...
Previous GNRs: 3/31/20 - 3/26/20 - Archives...
Election Disaster Under Way in WI; Employer Health Plans Likely Worsened Pandemic: 'BradCast' 4/1/20
Guest: Former ins. exec Richard 'RJ' Eskow; Also: Depth of crisis emerging despite denial...
Media Industry Confronting 'Full Extinction Event': 'BradCast' 3/31/20
Guest: Buzzfeed News Media Editor Craig Silverman; Also: Grim virus numbers, tragically failed Presidency, faint but clear signs of hope...
'Green News Report' 3/31/20
Trump kills Obama's mileage standards; EPA stops pollution enforcement during COVID-19 crisis; Big Plastic sees profit in pandemic; PLUS: Earth Day 2020 looms...
OH's New Primary Scheme Shows How to NOT Handle This Crisis: 'BradCast' 3/30/20
Also: Good news and bad on COVID-19; Trump says the quiet part about voter suppression out loud; and more calls from the Coronaverse...
Sunday 'Worse Than the Problem' Toons
We're open for business! Come on in and binge read PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons!...
Free Medicine in the Corona Zone:
'BradCast' 3/27/20
Guest host Nicole Sandler with insurance whistleblower Wendell Potter; Also: Some VERY much needed laughs!...
WI, GA Still Suppressing Votes, Even During COVID-19 Crisis: 'BradCast' 3/26/20
More states postpone primaries; WI refuses to delay April 7 vote; GA SoS up to old tricks; Historic jobless claims amid pandemic...
'Green News Report' 3/26/20
Good news and bad for energy in stimulus bill; Even COVID-19 can't stop EPA rollbacks; PLUS: Court win for Standing Rock Sioux over Dakota Access Pipeline...
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: Economist Stephanie Kelton on 'The Deficit Myth' and why we can't have nice things; Also: What's in the bill? Who's now holding it up? And how Governors are dismissing our idiot President...
By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2020 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Avery important lesson from the coronavirus crisis for progressives and for all Americans that I hope we are all able to remember once this crisis has finally ended. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article. Please click it!]

Britain's 71-year old Prince Charles, 71-year old Rock-and-Roll Hall of Famer Jackson Browne and 81-year old playwright Terrence McNally all tested positive. The prolific playwright succumbed on Tuesday in Florida. They were all able to get tested for coronavirus. Tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Americans still cannot. Add it to the list of national disgraces we are collectively enduring as we stay-at-home as much as possible in hopes of slowing the spread to keep our medical system from becoming overwhelmed.

That said, Senate Democratic and Republican leaders have come to an agreement on another emergency spending bill to address a bit more of the growing fallout from the global coronavirus pandemic. The bill, if allowed to pass in the Senate by four Republicans now blocking it, and if House Democrats can pass a similarly acceptable bill, will cost a record $2 trillion. That's half the size of the nation's annual $4 trillion annual federal budget, and many experts agree, there will need to be much more spending hereafter.

And yet, nobody --- not Republicans or Democrats in the Senate, House of Representatives or White House --- seems to be complaining that we don't have the money to pay for it, or that we must cut somewhere else or raise taxes to be able to afford it. It is as if, as our guest today, Stony Brook University Professor of Economics and leading authority on Modern Monetary Theory STEPHANIE KELTON notes, we are able to just "conjure into existence, in a matter of days, a couple of trillion dollars," enough money for the largest spending bill in the history of the country. And, as it turns out, she is right!

As Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) noted recently in response to the sudden disappearance of so-called "Deficit Hawks" on Capitol Hill: "It's actually a fascinating progressive moment, because what it's shown is that all of these issues have never been about 'how are you going to pay for it?' It's never been about whether we have the capacity to do these things. All of these excuses that we have been given as to why we can't treat people humanely have suddenly gone up in smoke. And what has been revealed is that all of these issues were really about a lack of political will and who you deemed worthy to be in an emergency or not."

Kelton, the former Chief Economist for the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, has been trying to make these points of late in Twitter threads, New York Times op-eds, and her upcoming book The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People's Economy. As she tells me today, "Congress will always find the funds to accomplish the things that it considers a priority. If that's tax cuts, then that's the priority, and the money will be there. If it's wars, that's the priority. If it's dealing with a global pandemic, then that suddenly becomes a priority."

She laments that Democrats, over months on the Presidential campaign trail, have not been able to educate the American public about these facts and how difficult it has now become --- after years of phony claims from politicians (of both parties) that the U.S. was going broke or that government should be run by the same fiscal rules that govern households and businesses --- "to disabuse people of these myths that we have heard from our politicians, pundits and reporters."

She argues "There is a time and a place for offsets. It's not a free lunch", but Bernie Sanders' call for "canceling $81 billion of medical debt is nothing. It's everything to the people who have medical debt. But from the perspective of the federal budget, it's practically a rounding error, it's so trivial. We could have done that and not offset it," she says. "The federal government's finances don't work like ours. They're not subject to the same constraints as a household or a private company. Once you get your head around that, a lot of other things follow."

"A year ago, could we have just done free college or Medicare For All or whatever? The answer is yes. Congress can write and pass any bill it chooses, period. The risk, though, is that if you don't include offsets, and you're simply authorizing these huge spending bills left and right, at some point you're going to eat up all of the fiscal space left in the economy. In other words, it's going to become inflationary. So there is a time and a place for offsets." That time, apparently, is not now, however. And she hopes that after this emergency finally passes, enough Americans will remember what happened here, how easy it was to "find" all the money when it was needed, to finally do away with the notion that endless wars and corporate subsidies and tax cuts for the wealthy are the only things we can afford to spend money on to "promote the general welfare" of the American people.

We discuss all of that and much more today, including details on what the proposed Phase III emergency coronavirus spending bill will and won't pay for, and the good news that America's Governors --- both Democratic and Republican --- seem to be rejecting our corrupt, man-child President when it comes to his dangerous coronavirus idiocy.

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

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Guest: Montgomery County, MD Dep. Election Dir. Alysoun McLaughlin; Also: Progressive U.S. House candidate wins in IL; With all market gains since inauguration gone, Trump declares self a 'wartime president'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/18/2020 7:03pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Former Vice President Joe Biden trounced Bernie Sanders in three more states on Tuesday. The coronavirus pandemic continued to spread as all of the stock market gains since Donald Trump's inauguration were finally wiped out. And the nation's elections officials --- at least some of them --- began eyeing the need to move to Vote-by-Mail elections as a temporary mitigation for the foreseeable future. But is that a good idea? Are we ready for it? [Audio link to show is posted below below.]

First up, however, some good news, believe it or not! Marie Newman, a progressive challenger to far-right anti-abortion Democratic U.S. House Rep. Dan Lipinski, appears to have won her primary race against the conservative eight-term Congressman in Illinois 3rd Congressional district. The victory in the very "blue" suburbs of Chicago virtually guarantees Newman's election to the House in November, mirroring Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez' 2018 defeat of longtime (if less execrable) Democratic incumbent Joe Crowley in New York.

Beyond that, Biden appears to have delivered a thumping to Sanders in Florida, Illinois and Arizona, increasing his lead in the nominating contest to a seemingly insurmountable 300 delegates. All three states held low-turnout primaries on Tuesday amid warnings from health officials to avoid large gatherings, polling places that were closed or moved at the last minute, and a shortage of pollworkers due to cancellations in the wake of coronavirus concerns. Ohio, which was also supposed to vote on Tuesday, postponed its Presidential primary until June at the very last minute.

Both Biden and Sanders addressed supporters on Tuesday night via live Internet streams due to the cancellation of live rallies. They both focused mostly on actions needed to address the pandemic. Despite rumors throughout the day on Wednesday, and the cancellation of online digital ads, the Sanders campaign maintains that they are not suspending, but reassessing their campaign with three more weeks until the next scheduled primary, given all of the various states which have now postponed elections amid the COVID-19 crisis.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate finally passed an emergency relief measure adopted by the U.S. House last week to guarantee paid sick leave and expanded unemployment benefits to certain workers, while extending some food security programs, even as a FAR larger stimulus package will be required in response to the ongoing crisis, as markets fell again on Wednesday, reversing all of the gains since Trump took office. For his part, the President vowed to invoke the Defense Production Act to allow the federal government to commandeer private U.S. facilities to manufacturer various needed medical supplies such as masks and ventilators. With the economy in tatters and after weeks of bungled responses, Trump has now declared himself a "wartime president", even as he continues to attack his perceived political enemies and employ racist terms to describe the coronavirus pandemic.

Amid all of this, the nation's elections officials are turning their efforts toward quickly devising ways to safely hold upcoming primary elections as well as the general election in November. On Tuesday, the Governor of Maryland postponed the state's April 28 primary elections until June 2, but allowed the scheduled U.S. House Special Election to fill the Baltimore seat of the late Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings to proceed as an all-mail contest. Joining us today to discuss the efforts now underway to quickly move to Vote-by-Mail elections in Maryland (and elsewhere) is ALYSOUN MCLAUGHLIN, longtime Deputy Election Director for Montgomery County, MD. She also serves as Secretary on the Board of Advisors to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and as Vice Chair of the National Association of Counties.

Following her Governor's executive order postponing the statewide primary while calling for an all-mail U.S. House Special Election next month, McLaughlin explains some of the many challenges officials face in turning to VBM elections in the state. "The way we see it, we don't have a choice. The way we see it, there's a whole lot of really challenging problems in conducting an election under these circumstances right now, and the best way for us to serve everyone --- and to serve everyone avoiding the kinds of stresses and strains that we saw on polling places on Tuesday --- is for us to mail everyone a ballot. And immediately that takes the pressure off of the polls. That allows us to deal with the fact that our workforce is so significantly diminished in staffing a polling place election."

She tells me that officials in all 24 counties in the state feel the move to mail every registered voter a ballot is necessary for the newly-reschedule primary, though the state Board of Elections will still need to approve the plan. At the same time, there are many challenges and concerns in turning to such a system, particularly in such short order. We discussed a number of them on yesterday's program and Washington Post's Cybesecurity 202 column detailed several more. I've laid out even more such concerns over many years counseling caution, as I have long opposed VBM elections except where voters were unable to vote at the polls on Election Day or where a jurisdiction forces voters to vote by unverifiable, unsecure --- and, yes, germy --- touchscreen voting systems at the polls. (Thankfully, Maryland, which, with Georgia, was first in the nation to adopt statewide touchscreen voting in 2002, no longer does so, having moved recently, and sensibly, to hand-marked paper ballots for all.)

My conversation with McLaughlin today highlights some of those concerns, including questions about signature verification which, she says, her state does not use at all in determining if absentee ballots are to be included in the tally or rejected from the count. It's an eye-opening and important discussion that we will, necessarily, continue to have, in hopes that states adopt new temporary election practices in line with recommendations from health experts, even while observing best practices required to make sure VBM elections are secure, inclusive and publicly overseeable...

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

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Guest: Legendary FL Election Supervisor Ion Sancho; Also: More states postpone primaries, consider moving to Vote-by-Mail; GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter sentenced to 11 months...
By Brad Friedman on 3/17/2020 6:52pm PT  

On today's BradCast: America continues to adjust to the pandemic, as the most critical election in our nation's history is now threatened by a virus, even as voters in three major states hit the polls on Tuesday. At least some of them did. [Audio link to show is posted at end of summary.]

We begin another bizarre day in the Coronavirus Era with just a spot of good news. California's wildly corrupt GOP Congressman Duncan Hunter, Jr., who, with his wife, was charged with more than 60 felonies, but pleaded guilty to just one in a deal last December after it became clear his wife would testify against him, was sentenced to 11 months in prison today. The couple had stolen as much as a quarter of a million dollars in campaign funds for personal luxuries during Hunter's six elected terms before he finally resigned in disgrace in January. He, along with New York's GOP Congressman Chris Collins (who was recently sentenced to 26 months for insider trading), were the first two members of the U.S. House to endorse Donald Trump's run for the Presidency.

And with that somewhat good news out of the way, it's on to the more disturbing news we must try and make sense of today. Even as Florida, Illinois and Arizona all decided to hold their Presidential primary elections on Tuesday amid quarantines, closures, lock-downs and social distancing directives, other states continued to take more responsible measures.

Ohio, which was also scheduled to vote on Tuesday, postponed their primary election today amid no small amount of chaos, with the state's Governor taking extraordinary measures to do so late Monday night after initially being blocked by a state court.

Maryland's Governor today announced that his state would join others, such as Louisiana, Georgia and Kentucky in postponing their primary until June. It was previously scheduled for April 28. They will, however, still hold the April 28 Special Election to fill the U.S. House seat left vacant by the late Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings in Baltimore. That election, however, will now be an all Vote-by-Mail (VBM) election. That as other states consider either postponing or changing to all-VBM elections for the foreseeable future during the virus outbreak.

The affects of the pandemic were seen in all three states which voted today, including poll closures, low turnout, and shortages of poll workers, many of whom are elderly and the most susceptible to the worst affects of the virus. Hundreds of them in South Florida, for example, decided to cancel at the last minute rather than be exposed to hundreds of people all day in crowded polling locations left open despite the CDC's recommendation to avoid all crowds larger than 10 at this time.

We're joined today by a guest well-accustomed to both chaos and elections. ION SANCHO is Leon County (Tallahassee), Florida's former longtime Supervisor of Elections as well as a champion voting rights advocate and opponent of private voting system vendors. During his nearly 30 years as one of the state's (and nation's) most respected election officials, he has held elections amid hurricane catastrophes and political ones. He was tapped by his fellow state officials in 2000 to oversee the eventually-aborted Presidential election recount between Al Gore and George W. Bush. Sancho has plenty of thoughts and insight to offer today amid the current chaos and challenges now faced by elections officials and voters alike. We discuss the likely necessity of all states moving to VBM elections for the duration of the crisis, and the steps that need to be taken to ensure such elections are carried out with integrity.

"The entire primary and elections process is going to have to be re-examined, given this crisis," he tell me. "This pandemic provides a challenge like no other in my lifetime. Mail ballots may be the way out of this, but mail ballots require machinery. Mail ballots require high-speed counting devices. It can be done, and it can be done excellently, but it can't be done cheaply. So if that's something we're going to need to go to, we're need to prepare for that." He warns that voters, many of whom do not bother to change their address on their registration when they move within a county, should check their registration record to assure it's up to date immediately, or else they risk not receiving a ballot at all, when and if states begin moving to VBM.

And while money will need to be spent to transition to high-speed optical-scanners to tally hand-marked mail-in paper ballots in many locations, the cost and benefits would still be far greater for voters than in jurisdictions such as Georgia which recently spent more than $100 million dollars for new equipment that will force all voters at the polls to vote on new, germy, unverifiable, touchscreen voting systems which violate voters' privacy by revealing secret ballots to everyone in the polling place. "The COVID-19 virus may be a blessing in disguise for the citizens of Georgia," Sancho explains. "Using a hand-marked paper ballot system is not only more secure, it's three to ten times more inexpensive to operate and maintain."

But in addition to money, guidance will be needed on the federal level to ensure a move to mail-in voting is done in a way that doesn't disenfranchise voters, since, he explains, it is so much easier for VBM ballots to be rejected by officials for dubious reasons and without notifying voters so that they have sufficient time to cure any perceived deficiencies on their ballots. VBM would be a "fair solution [during this crisis] if you have fair elections administration. Jurisdictions like Oregon, for example, which has pioneered mail voting in the United States, provide 14 days for an individual to present themselves to cure a problem, a deficiency, in the mail ballot. States like Arizona, Washington and California provide 2-3 weeks of days to allow the voter to cure a problem. Then you run into states like Florida, that had to be sued to allow voters to cure their ballot after the election. The deadline for Florida to cure all deficiencies --- so how could you know about it? --- is the day before the election."

While some elections officials, he believes, would be careful to institute best practices, others, he warns, would not. "They don't concern themselves with how actual machinery is working in other places. They just depend upon their voting vendor to tell them what to do. We don't really have any kind of mechanism nationally to provide the best practices, to give guidance. Our national elections administration is a debacle," he says, along with much more that you'll want to hear.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as the coronavirus epidemic has now cleared the air in both China and Italy, at least as far as toxic greenhouse gas emissions go, and has given Donald Trump yet another excuse to try and shore up the oil industry amid crashing prices. And, though much of it has now been lost to time and the global pandemic, we also examine the substantive debate on Sunday night between Democratic Presidential candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders regarding our climate crisis...

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

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Coronavirus, lack of leadership, wreak dangerous havoc on country and economy amid most important Presidential election in nation's history...
By Brad Friedman on 3/16/2020 5:57pm PT  

To quote Donald Trump when he thought the cameras had stopped rolling after his disastrous Oval Office address last week: "Oooookaaay...." So, we are now living in a new world. For the time being. Millions are being instructed to stay home from work. Markets are tanking. Major states and cities are shutting down schools, restaurants, bars, clubs, theaters and casinos. Some are instituting full "stay at home" lock-down orders. And Congress is scrambling to pass emergency legislation to try and help displaced workers and families as the coronavirus crisis threatens to shut down the nation entirely for weeks, months or longer. All of this amidst a Presidential election under the most dangerously inept and dishonest Administration in the history of the nation.

On today's BradCast, we try to get you caught up with the unfolding, bizarre and disorienting mess that we are all going through together in hopes of "flattening the curve" of the rate of infections to try and ensure that the U.S. hospital system doesn't become overwhelmed with patients. Like you, we have no idea how this is supposed to work, but we're all working through it together, even as Trump literally told the nation's Governors today they are on their own in coming up with enough respirators and other medical equipment to keep their residents alive, and as he continues to lie to the country about the availability of testing and eventual arrival date of a vaccine (which is most likely more than a year from now, even as a single live test began today).

And, speaking of that Presidential election, states --- particularly those which are touchscreen-voting heavy, like Louisiana, Georgia and Ohio --- are beginning to announce postponements of their primary elections. Ohio's Governor has attempted to do so before tomorrow's planned election that was to be held along with Florida, Illinois and Arizona. But a state judge, late today (minutes ago, justt after we got off air) has now blocked the Republican Ohio Governor's attempt to postpone. So, full-on chaos for a change in the Buckeye State tonight. The other three big states (at least at this hour) are planning to go through with their own elections tomorrow, even as polling sites at senior citizen centers are requiring last-minute relocation and frequently-elderly poll workers are (justifiably) calling in to cancel.

Other states, such as New York are considering postponement, while Maryland considers moving to all-Vote-by-Mail primaries. More than a dozen states, such as Texas, do not even currently offer no-excuse absentee voting. That needs to change. [CORRECTION: I had initially cited Pennsylvania as one of those states that do not allow no-excuse absentee voting. In fact, no-excuse absentee voting was instituted late last year as part of a package of election reforms in the Keystone State. My apologies for the error!]

We cover all of that AND wave very briefly at Sunday's Presidential Debate (which we hope to revisit in a bit more detail soon - but we'll see) before opening the phones to check in with callers today, including one from Minneapolis who describes the situation there as dire, others from Southern California who wonder where the head of the CDC has disappeared to, and another who questions both the threat and infection numbers currently being reported. All of that and way too much more on today's BradCast...

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: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Biden plummets, Harris and Warren spike in new polling after first 2020 Dem debate; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 7/1/2019 6:22pm PT  

After our two-day Special Coverage of the first 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate last week (Night ONE here, Night TWO here), we begin on today's BradCast to get caught up with some of the important news that we were unable to adequately focus on last week. (Even it may take a few days to get fully caught up, if ever!) [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up today, we're joined for one last time this SCOTUS term by MARK JOSEPH STERN, the great legal reporter at Slate who has helped us make sense of the Court's most recent term under its stolen Republican majority, including many of the oral arguments since last Fall in a bunch of important cases and all of the subsequent rulings handed down in the past several weeks. The last of those rulings were, perhaps, the most consequential, and both came smack dab in the middle of Nights ONE and TWO of the Dem debate last week.

Today, Stern details the Court's horrendous (if not unexpected) 5 to 4 partisan ruling finding partisan gerrymandering to be perfectly Constitutional, despite all of the lower federal courts which have found otherwise. That, even though the practice, taken to new computer-precision extremes by the Republican Party following the 2010 Census, has bastardized the notion of fair representation at both the state legislative and Congressional levels. (eg. See North Carolina, which largely votes 50/50 for U.S. House members over the past decade, but has been represented in the House by just 3 Democrats and 10 Republicans over all of those years!) Stern describes the majority ruling, penned by Chief Justice John Roberts, as a "crushing defeat for voting rights" and a "fiasco for democracy". He explains how the rightwing majority ruling debunks the Chief Justice's own claim that he is the Court's "most aggressive defender of the First Amendment" in that extreme partisan gerrymandering blatantly robs voters of their First Amendment rights by punishing Americans for their partisan leaning, stripping them of the ability to be fairly represented.

"Partisan gerrymandering is uniquely evil and difficult to fix," Stern argues, "because it attacks the foundations of democracy. It entrenches a certain political party's power almost indefinitely, and creates a map that will hold even if the state votes against that party." Now, says Stern, the legal battle to rollback rigged election maps moves to the state court level instead, since SCOTUS has now determined that federal courts have no say in the matter (even though they long ago found racial gerrymanders, if not partisan ones, to be a violation of the Constitution.) "That's why this is the 'nightmare' scenario," he tells me. "Because if the legislature can't fix it --- and why would it fix it, they love what they've done --- you really have to rely on the courts to step in and fix it. And now Chief Justice Roberts has said that the federal courts are not going to hear these claims, that they're shut out forever. That leaves few avenues for relief for voters in these states."

We also get Stern's thoughts --- and callers who ring in on the topic as well today --- on whether Democrats, in states which they control after the 2020 Census should similarly use extreme partisan gerrymandering tactics to balance the scales by keeping Republicans out of power in such states, given that the High Court has granted its blessing for such tactics.

And, speaking of the Census, the other major ruling dropped last Thursday by SCOTUS was on whether or not the Trump Administration may add a question on citizenship to the 2020 Census. In that case, Roberts joined with the Court's liberals to reject the government's claim that they were simply hoping to add the question at the request of the Dept. of Justice in order to better enforce the Voting Rights Act. That transparently false claim was rejected by Roberts who wrote that it "appears to have been contrived".

In fact, it was, as several lower courts have ruled, even before the evidence from the hard drive of a recently deceased GOP gerrymandering expert revealed the entire charade was specifically meant to decrease the response rate by Hispanic and other immigrant communities in order to shift federal funding and voting power to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites. So, that decision was the good news. The not-as-good-news is that Roberts also left the door open for the Administration to try again with a less pretextual reason for adding the question, if they can come up with one. Or, as Stern sums up Roberts' directive in four words today: "Lie better next time." Whether the Trump Administration can do so before the deadline to send the Census to the printer (which, the Admin previously argued in court was a hard deadline of July 1, but now says "well, maybe October would be fine?") remains to be seen.

Next we open up the phone lines to listeners on last week's Democratic debate in Miami. Who do listeners feel did better than expected? Who did worse? The first polling is out today from CNN following last week's debate, finding a pretty huge shift among the Dem and Dem-leaning electorate. The survey finds Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren are up 9 and 8 points respectively, while Joe Biden has fallen 10 points since the last CNN poll. That places Harris, Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders (whose support dropped a few points) all now within just over 5 points from the former Vice President and perceived "front runner" for the Democratic nomination. That pretty seismic shift all comes after just one single debate...with about 11 more to come in the months ahead...

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Guests: Heather Digby Parton and Dave Johnson; Also: Bad news from SCOTUS on partisan gerrymandering, slightly better news on next year's U.S. Census...
By Brad Friedman on 6/27/2019 5:11pm PT  

Our special coverage of Wednesday's night's first 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate from Miami is momentarily waylaid at the top of today's BradCast, for quick coverage of two major, long-awaited opinions released by the Republican's stolen U.S. Supreme Court this morning, the final day of its term before Justices leave for summer recess. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The first opinion, featuring a 5 to 4 Republican- versus Democratic-appointee split, is very bad news for voting rights and democracy advocates on partisan gerrymandering cases out of Maryland and North Carolina. Writing for the GOP majority, Chief Justice John Roberts declared federal courts have no place entering disputes over extreme partisan gerrymandering of state legislative and U.S. House districts, giving a green light to majority-party state lawmakers to use sophisticated computer programs to slice up maps in a way that guarantees majorities for the party in power during the redistricting process following a decennial U.S. Census. Despite lower court rulings finding Republicans in Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin violated the Constitution by drawing statewide U.S. House maps meant to assure Republicans remained in power, even when receiving fewer votes over all, the partisan divided SCOTUS decision now overturns all of those previous rulings, and one out of Maryland where a U.S. House district was drawn Democrats to keep it out of the hands of Republicans.

Critics, including Justice Elana Kagan who penned a blistering minority dissent, note that the SCOTUS majority now leaves it to the very same gerrymandered legislatures who created the undemocratic problem to somehow work it out, even though it may be impossible for opposition lawmakers to gain enough of a foothold to actually change the process under the bastardized maps. In her dissent, Kagan notes partisan gerrymanders "debased and dishonored our democracy, turning upside-down the core American idea that all governmental power derives from the people." Her opinion, representing the High Court's four liberal justices, concludes: "Of all times to abandon the Court's duty to declare the law, this was not the one. The practices challenged in these cases imperil our system of government. Part of the Court's role in that system is to defend its foundations. None is more important than free and fair elections."

All of which makes the Court's other major opinion today, on whether the Trump Administration will be allowed to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census, all the more crucial, but slightly better news, for the moment, anyway. In that case, Roberts joined with the court's progressives for a 5 to 4 ruling that bars the Administration, at least for now, from adding the question to next year's Census. In this case, the Chief Justice notes that the Administration's pretextual reasoning for doing so "appears to have been contrived". Indeed, despite warnings by experts at the Census Bureau itself that the question would decrease the response rate by millions, officials at Trump's Dept. of Commerce (which runs the Census Bureau) and the Dept. of Justice lied to both Congress and the Courts about their reason for adding the question.

Evidence has revealed that, in fact, the Administration hoped to include the question specifically in order to under-count immigrant communities in hopes of shifting billions of dollars in federal funding --- and still more voting power --- to "Republicans and non-Hispanic whites" over the next decade. That fact was made clear by, among other things, evidence revealed from the hard drive of the GOP's recently deceased gerrymandering expert. The good news in the Census ruling today is somewhat tempered by the fact that the case has now been sent back to the lower court for further consideration, allowing the Trump Administration another bite at the apple to come up with a more plausible justification --- or at least one that the stolen SCOTUS can more easily accept --- for why they insist on adding the new question before the deadline for printing the 2020 Census. The Administration had previously said that deadline was at the end of this month, though Trump has now asked his attorneys to see if the Census may be postponed.

Then it's on to our Special Coverage of Night One of the first Democratic Debate of the 2020 Presidential cycle, which featured ten candidates in all, including MA Sen. Elizabeth Warren; former TX Rep. Beto O'Rourke; MN Sen. Amy Klobuchar; NJ Sen. Cory Booker; former HUD Secretary and San Antonio, TX mayor Julian Castro; NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio; WA Gov. Jay Inslee; OH Rep. Tim Ryan; former MD Rep. John Delaney; and HI Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

We're joined for today's special coverage by Salon's and Hulaballo's award-winning columnist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON and Seeing the Forest's DAVE JOHNSON, formerly a Senior Fellow at the progressive Campaign for America's Future.

Parton and Johnson offer post-debate analysis and smart insight on as many of those candidates as we can possibly fit in to the hour, along with thoughts on which of them exceeded, met or under-performed expectations; why it is that Democrats appear (foolishly) to be shying away from taking on Donald Trump directly, despite the extraordinary threat he and his Presidency pose to the nation and the world; how Democrats, as a party, now appear to be approaching issues such as taking on corporate monopolies, the need for universal access to healthcare as a human right (and the strange question about abolishing private health care insurance), foreign wars and more. We also discuss, as raised --- but largely unanswered --- during Wednesday's debate, how a Democratic President might counter obstructionist Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should the GOP maintain control of the U.S. Senate after 2020.

All of that, of course, is just a sampling of the sweeping ground we cover on today's very busy and very lively BradCast, as we await Night Two, with another ten candidates, to be covered on our next program!...

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Guest: Eric Boehlert on media kid gloves for Barr, a country in crisis, impeachment, and why 'no one will break the glass on the alarm'...
By Brad Friedman on 5/22/2019 6:29pm PT  

Before we get to the "crapshow" in D.C. today and much more related to it on today's BradCast, a few quick, important points. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First, the St. Louis Blues, incredibly enough, are going to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in 49 years. Okay, that's not all that important to most, but I've been waiting a really long time, so forgive me my momentary joy.

Second, and much more important (and disturbing): the City of Baltimore's computer networks have been crippled and shutdown by a ransomware attack for more than two weeks now, grinding all city services to a virtual halt and likely requiring a complete rebuild of everything from backup data onto new hardware. Baltimore is reportedly the 20th U.S. municipality to be hit by such an attack so far this year.

Among Baltimore city offices struggling to continue their work is their "dead in the water" Board of Elections, where all local computers are shut down with BOE employees now working remotely out of the State Board of Elections, as well as County Boards in Baltimore and Hartford. The ongoing disaster led the city Board of Elections' Deputy Director to opine: "Thank goodness it's not an election year." Um...yeah..."thank goodness" indeed. But what if it were? And shouldn't this be a much greater concern than, well, pretty much everyone is currently admitting, as city, county and state elections now rely, from top to bottom --- from voter registration to ballot programming to vote tabulation and election results reporting --- on similarly vulnerable computer networks? Without paper poll books at each precinct and HAND-MARKED paper ballots for all, it would be impossible to run an election under such circumstances. But...."thank goodness it's not an election year" and, otherwise, why worry about such crazy "conspiracy theories" as the ones we've been warning about for more than 15 years now?

In other, yes, related news: the Donald Trump Presidency continues to swirl still deeper into the bowels of its own disastrous making while the continuing stand-off with Congress intensifies and more bad news arrives from the federal courts for this President. Today, among too many other things, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Congressional Democratic leadership to discuss the growing cries for an official impeachment inquiry and emerged to declare that "the President of the United States is engaged in a cover-up". That completely unsurprising statement was used as a predicate for Trump to storm out of a planned meeting at the White House with Democratic leaders on an infrastructure bill after just three minutes. He then held what media falsely characterized as an "impromptu" news conferences in the Rose Garden where the President discussed "the i-word" and, with a straight face --- in front a pre-printed sign inaccurately declaring "No Collusion, No Obstruction --- claimed to be "the most transparent President, probably, in the history of this country" and that he doesn't "do cover-ups".

Hours later, his ongoing efforts to cover-up his financial records was dealt a second blow this week by a second federal judge who flatly rejected the Trump family's attempt to block Deutsche Bank and Capital One from turning over Trump financial records in response to a lawful Congressional subpoena. Earlier this week a different federal judge found similarly against Trump's attempt to cover up his financial records held by private accounting firm Mazars USA, which are also the subject of a separate lawful Congressional subpoena. And, all of that is related, as we explain, to the cover-up payments to Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen who was "directed" by Trump to give hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels just prior to the 2016 election to cover-up their alleged affair.

Of course, as Trump's administration continues to cover-up their own growing private email server scandals (remember that li'l problem they had with Hillary Clinton about that?), the man who has helped carry off Trump's greatest cover-up to date (at least that we know of, so far) is his new Attorney General, cover-up artist and personal fixer William Barr. Our guest today, author and media critic ERIC BOEHLERT argues Barr has not been appropriately held to account by the corporate media, even after being found in contempt by the House Judiciary Committee for failing to answer a lawful Congressional subpoena to hand over the full Mueller Report and its underlying evidence. Boehlert explains as he wrote this week, where and why he sees the corporate media dropping the ball.

"New York Times, Washington Post --- they haven't called for his resignation," Boehlert tells me. "It is inconceivable what Bill Barr could possibly do which would trigger major newspapers in this country to call for his resignation. People say, 'Well, who cares? He's not going to resign.' That's true, but, it sends this message that we are in a crisis. We are in a possibly defining crisis in American history. But these major news organizations don't want to go there. They don't want to raise the temperature."

The crisis he refers to, of course, has "been a problem since Inauguration Day 2017, [but] no one will break the glass on the alarm."

We also discuss whether Congressional Democrats are falling short as well, as the internecine debate among Democrats in the House over whether to begin a formal impeach inquiry continues to grow and intensify. Among the many points discussed in that conversation: whether the conventional wisdom that Senate Republicans would never vote to convict and remove Trump from office is actually true...

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Guest: Dave Daley of FairVote: Also: Tornado swarms erupt across U.S. amid climate crisis; Ford to fire thousands of workers...
By Brad Friedman on 5/20/2019 6:58pm PT  

Our guest on today's BradCast, argues that representative democracy is facing a "major crisis." And he wasn't even talking about the Constitutional Crisis we are now seeing as Trump turns up his obstruction measures against the U.S. Congress to 11. But partisan gerrymandering underscores that crisis as well. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up today, however, much of Texas and Oklahoma are under tornado watches and warnings today, as 10 million Americans were under flash flood warnings as of airtime today, following as many as 67 tornadoes over the weekend in in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Kansas and Nebraska. That, after more than a month of record flooding along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers in many states. There is good reason that the UK's Guardian newspaper updated its style-guide last week to reflect the existential climate crisis humanity now faces, thanks to the burning of fossil fuels. The Guardian is now recommending "climate change" be referred to by its journalists as "climate emergency, crisis or breakdown", and that "global warming" is better described as "global heating", with "climate science denier" to be used instead of the inaccurate "climate skeptic". It will be nice when US media decides to do the same.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., Ford Motor Co.'s CEO --- who personally received a 6% raise last year, bringing his total compensation package to nearly $18 million --- announced plans for a "smart organizational redesign process" on Monday. That's a nice way of describing the company's decision to lay off as many as 7,000 workers by the end of summer. So much for the $1.5 trillion GOP tax cut assuring jobs, jobs, jobs and putting our economy "on rocket fuel", apparently, as Trump promised.

But the biggest news over the weekend, no doubt, comes from conservative Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, who announced and explained on Twitter why he believes "President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct" and why even the redacted version of the Mueller Report reveals Trump "engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment."

The courageous, staunch libertarian Tea Party Republican and co-founder of the hard right Freedom Caucus in Congress, also charges that Trump's new Attorney General William Barr "deliberately misrepresented Mueller's report", that "partisanship has eroded our system of checks and balances," and that "the risk we face in an environment of extreme partisanship is not that Congress will employ [impeachment] as a remedy too often but rather that Congress will employ it so rarely that it cannot deter misconduct." He went on to warn, as we long have as well, that "When loyalty to a political party or to an individual trumps loyalty to the Constitution, the Rule of Law --- the foundation of liberty --- crumbles."

Trump's impressive response was to call Amash "a total lightweight" and "loser". Ours is to bestow him with our much-sought after, if rarely bestowed, Intellectually Honest Conservative Award

Of course, there are other reasons that so few (exactly zero, at the moment) other Congressional GOPers have joined Amash in standing up for what they used to pretend to believe in. One is that Democrats have yet to present the case for impeachment to the American public, even as the Trump Administration invokes every form of unlawful obstructive measure to try and keep them from doing so. (Breaking news during today's program, for example, includes a federal judge finding Trump's accounting firm Mazars must turn over Trump's financial documents as lawfully subpoenaed by Congress, despite a lawsuit from Trump attempting to block them from doing so; and news that the White House has now ordered former White House Counsel Don McGahn to defy a Congressional subpoena requiring him to testify to the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.)

The other reason many Republicans in Congress feel no need to hold Trump to account is that the GOP's extreme partisan gerrymandering in state after state following the 2010 census has resulted in members of Congress who feel --- with no small amount of justification --- that they cannot be removed from office by voters in a general election. The radical imbalance of such obscene district maps have resulted, for example, in Democratic House candidates winning almost 50% of the vote last year in North Carolina, but ultimately taking just 3 of the state's 13 U.S. House seats. In Ohio, essentially 50/50 splits by voters for members of Congress have resulted in just 4 of 20 seats going to Democrats, year after year, over the past decade. We've similar stories in other key states such as Wisconsin, Maryland and Pennsylvania, with courts finding House Districts and state legislative districts alike to have been unconstitutionally gerrymandered, and orders by federal courts to draw new, fairer maps repeatedly blocked by the GOP's stolen U.S. Supreme Court.

That decade-long scam, as our guest today, DAVID DALEY of FairVote argued last week at New Republic, is precisely why GOP-controlled state after GOP-controlled state in recent weeks, have been able to adopt radical, extremist and even unpopular anti-abortion restrictions. Daley, author of the book RATF**KED: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy, lays out his argument, updates us on the recent partisan gerrymandering cases in North Carolina and Maryland now before SCOTUS (with a ruling due next month), and why, as he argues, the fight for fair maps, fair elections and democracy itself "is not going to be saved in this country by any given election," but needs to be "engaged and fought every single day" as we are now in "a war for the future of this country"...

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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...

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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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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...

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Sworn declaration accuses Kavanaugh of 'gang rapes'; Witnesses support Blasey Ford charge; Good news for PA student voters, FL, TX, AZ Dems...
By Brad Friedman on 9/26/2018 6:45pm PT  

What does it say about the state of the nation when reporting on sworn allegations against a U.S. Supreme Court nominee may be NSFW? Safe for work or otherwise, we have that along with much more encouraging news on today's BradCast. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up, a report, for context, from Washington Post in 1990 about the alcohol and sex-fueled house party culture of several elite private high schools in Maryland, including the ones attended by both U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and at least one of his accusers.

Then, four sworn declarations were filed with the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, under penalty of perjury, on Wednesday, by the attorneys for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, on behalf of witnesses who say they were told years ago by Ford about her allegation of the attempted rape by Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge during one such high school house party. Each witness describes how Ford informed them about what she says happened, long before Donald Trump selected Kavanaugh as his SCOTUS nominee. (It's also worth noting that Ford's letter to her U.S. House Representative about the incident was also reportedly sent prior to Kavanaugh actually being named to fill the seat vacated by Justice Anthony Kennedy.)

Incredibly, none of those were the most startling declaration filed with the Committee under penalty of perjury on Wednesday by a long shot. Julie Swetnick, a long time federal agency employee with active and inactive Secret and Public Trust security clearances, filed a jaw-dropping affidavit detailing her years of knowing Kavanaugh and his close friend Mark Judge during high school in Maryland. In the declarations she says she attended many house parties at which the pair were present during those years, and charges that Kavanaugh "drank excessively" and would become abusive and physically aggressive toward girls whom he and Judge would "target" after spiking punch at the parties "with drugs and/or grain alcohol."

Most disturbingly, however, she describes her "firm recollection" of seeing both men lining up to participate in "gang rapes" of the incapacitated girls, and says that she became one of them in 1982. Swetnick attests that "shortly after the incident" she "shared what transpired with at least two other people" and is "aware of other witnesses that can attest to the truthfulness" of her statements.

Still, even with this third named accuser of alleged sexual crimes and misconduct in high school and college by Kavanaugh, the President of the United States refuses to order an FBI investigation into any of the charges, and Republicans on the Judiciary Committee intend, as of now, to move forward with Thursday's hearing with testimony only from Kavanaugh and Ford (but none of the many other witnesses or accusers). They say they plan to vote on his nomination in Committee the following day. A full Senate floor vote --- according to Donald Trump at a presser at the UN today, in which he described the allegations as part of a "big, fat con job" by Democrats --- could happen as early as this weekend, with the Court set to begin their new term on Monday.

Following those horrors today, we look toward the November midterms for at least some hope. A new poll by AP and MTV finds young voters, for some reason, citing increasing anxiety about the election. We also cover the widespread national effort to make voting easier for students on college campuses, and the effort by Republicans to prevent that. Happily, we can report an encouraging ending this week to one long fight to make it easier for students at a college near Philadelphia to participate in their own democracy.

Finally, we take a look at some mostly encouraging new polling for Democrats in U.S. Senate (and Gubernatorial) races in Florida, Texas and Arizona...

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

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Guest: Legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern of Slate...
By Brad Friedman on 9/24/2018 6:35pm PT  

Today's BradCast was perhaps best characterized by TV writer Jordon Nardino who tweeted on Sunday night: "Next week has been exhausting." [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Monday provided a bit of a fire drill for the upcoming Constitutional Crisis, when it looked like Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Robert Mueller's Special Counsel investigation into Team Trump's alleged conspiracy with Russia in 2016, appeared to be about to be either fired or forced to resign. That moment, for now, will likely not happen now until Thursday, when he is set to meet with Donald Trump at the White House after the President's appearance this week at the U.N. General Assembly.

The showdown with Rosenstein comes on the heels of what appears to be a somewhat misleading exclusive published last Friday by the New York Times, reporting that Rosenstein "suggested" using the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office during a meeting at the Department of Justice last year, in the chaotic days after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in his attempt to end the FBI's Trump/Russia investigation. Rosenstein, according to follow-up reports from other outlets quoting a source said to have actually been in the room at the time of the conversation in question, is said to have been sarcastic when mentioning wearing a wire to record the President.

Also coming up this Thursday, if all goes as currently scheduled, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is set to testify before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee after a weekend of negotiations with Senate Republicans following her accusation of sexual assault by U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh when they were both in high school. Over the weekend, and into Monday, several other allegations of assault (we're up to four now) by Kavanaugh in high school and college, vague or otherwise, have begun to surface.

We're joined today by Slate's Supreme Court and legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN to try to make sense of all of these quickly developing stories. In the Rosenstein saga, Stern details his concerns about Trump's Solicitor General Noel Francisco, who would be next in the line of succession to become Acting Attorney General overseeing the Mueller probe if Rosenstein is removed from his post. He describes Francisco as a huge Trump supporter, who has simply made up stuff out of whole cloth, even while arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court. Stern explains why Francisco would be very likely to try and shut down the Special Counsel probe if given the opportunity.

"He is an extremely unscrupulous, unethical and dishonest man," he tells me. "To let this guy, who would lie whenever it's convenient for him, control this investigation --- it's a recipe for disaster."

We also discuss why Republicans are in a desperate state of panic to install Kavanaugh as quickly as possible on their already-stolen SCOTUS. Among the reasons cited by Stern are both the odds of Republicans losing their majority in the Senate this November and a number of cases important to Rightwingers that are to be heard by the Supremes when they begin their new term on October 1. A 4-4 tie in several of those cases would be likely to benefit progressives.

"They've got to squeeze it all in while they still have that one-vote majority" in the Senate, he explains. "Now they just have to cross this final finish line, shove these accusers to the side and get this man on the bench for life."

Stern also responds to the claims by many on the right who suggest Kavanaugh should not be held accountable for his behavior as a 17-year old. That assertion, however, is at odds with how courts deal with crimes by 17-year olds who aren't nominated for lifetime appoints to the Supreme Court.

Stern, who happens to be a licensed attorney in the state of Maryland, also speaks to the weekend claim by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) that the crimes alleged to have been carried out by Kavanaugh in MD 36 years ago could no longer be prosecuted. Stern argues that is not true and local law enforcement officials in the state seem to concur.

Finally, as Rosenstein appears to be targeted for removal, as early as this week, we share a new song by Ben Folds, recently published by Washington Post Magazine, inspired by a derisive name Trump is said to use when referring to the Deputy Attorney General: Mr. Peepers - The Ballad of Rod Rosenstein...

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

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Recognizing the 'gravity and importance' of right to an accurate count, court directs parties in lawsuit to focus on 'practical realities' of converting to hand-marked paper ballot system within 3 months...
UPDATE: Court schedules hearing for Sept. 17; rejects defense motions to dismiss...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/13/2018 10:46am PT  

Plaintiffs in a Georgia lawsuit seeking to force the state to move to a hand-marked paper ballot system in time for this year's midterm elections, promise to produce expert testimony to the court, demonstrating that "Georgia's voting system is a catastrophically open invitation to malicious actors intent on disrupting our democracy."

The Coalition for Good Governance and a group of multi-partisan individual plaintiffs filed a motion [PDF] on July 31, seeking a preliminary injunction in the federal case, to prevent Georgia from conducting this year's midterms on the state's notorious Diebold AccuVote TS (touchscreen) Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines. Instead, plaintiffs seek an order that Georgia's election officials utilize, for in-person voting, the same already-certified, Diebold paper ballot-based optical-scan system currently used for tabulation of the Peach State's absentee ballots.

Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg ordered an expedited briefing schedule on plaintiffs' motion to compel the State of Georgia to adopt this simple method for conducting a verifiable paper ballot election on November 6, 2018.

The plaintiffs cite a massive body of scientific evidence finding the 100% unverifiable Diebold touchscreen systems as essentially electronic black holes, prone to unintended systemic failures and vulnerable to all manner of undetectable malicious manipulation by insiders or anyone else who acquires minimal access to the system or any of its machines. They also point to evidence that the statewide system was previously compromised via the Internet. Plaintiffs argue the 16-year old system deprives the electorate of their constitutional right not only to cast a vote but to have their vote accurately counted.

Recognizing "the gravity and importance of the constitutional issues," the court directed the parties (principally GA Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the state's GOP nominee for governor), as well as the plaintiffs to address "the practical realities surrounding implementation of the requested relief in the next one to three months." Judge Totenberg asks defendants to address the "practical realities" issue in a response by August 14. Plaintiffs' reply is then due by August 20.

The question before the court is monumental and could help set a precedent across the country in other jurisdictions where voters are forced to use unverifiable touchscreens on Election Day, rather than a paper ballot system that is already available via the absentee systems used in all 50 states.

As we documented last year, in "Why Do Georgia Election Officials Insist on 100% Unverifiable Elections?", if the court issues the preliminary injunction, November 6, 2018 would mark the first time in more than a decade and a half that the State of Georgia will have held an election in which it will be possible for human beings to verify or refute the accuracy of an electronic vote tally, thanks to the use of hand-marked paper ballots...

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




Guest: The Intercept's David Dayen: Also: CA Dems endorse Feinstein's opponent de León; Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez head to KS; FBI reveals Russian ownership of MD's public election system server...
By Brad Friedman on 7/18/2018 6:41pm PT  

We start off on today's BradCast with how the FBI's startling new revelation that a Russian oligarch tied to Vladimir Putin essentially owns the state of Maryland's public election system, underscores yet again what we've been trying to explain for about 15 years here: Private corporations have no place in public elections! [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Only oversight by the public can possibly prevent our electoral system from being manipulated (or owned) by insiders (like election officials and/or private election vendors) or outsiders (like foreign nations and/or hackers). Amazingly, Maryland says they had no clue about the Russian ownership of the private server company which hosts the state's electoral systems --- including voter registration, election management (ballot programming and tabulation), election night results reporting and more. They were notified by the Feds just last Friday. (For a sense of how long we've been yelling about the threats related to the corporatization our public elections, see our August 2008 article by Ellen Theisen, linking to Voters Unite's then-new report on how private "Vendors are Undermining the Structure of U.S. Elections".)

Next, speaking of public oversight being stripped away from the public, author and financial journalist DAVID DAYEN joins us to discuss several topics. First, the US Treasury Department announced this week, incredibly enough, that it is doing away with the requirement for non-profit "social welfare organizations", such as the National Rifle Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Koch Brothers' Americans for Prosperity, to reveal the names of their donors to the IRS.

"You can sort of squint and say, well, any organization, whether it's the Chamber of Commerce or Planned Parenthood, on the left or on the right, can benefit from this," says Dayen. "But lets' be real. The practitioners of dark money are overwhelmingly on the right. That's why politicians on the right support burying this information, whereas politicians on the left generally support disclosure."

The new regulation, experts and journalists argue, will make "dark money" in our elections even darker. The three right-wing groups cited above were the top spenders on elections in 2016 and they are celebrating the new announcement by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin today, even as Treasury used what Dayen describes as a "Zombie Lie" (which just wont die) in their official announcement --- citing the long-debunked "IRS targeting scandal" --- as one of the reasons for the new policy, which has long been lobbied for by the Right.

The announcement comes just days after the federal indictment of a Russia national who had infiltrated the NRA along with another oligarch who had helped funnel millions of foreign dollars to the group. "Foreign spending within US elections remains illegal, whether the IRS collects this information or not. And it seems like they're giving themselves less of an opportunity to connect the dots and make sure they are properly enforcing federal election law." That, I argue, is a feature, not a bug.

Then, Dayen explains the remarkable turn of events over the weekend in Oakland, where the California Democratic Party's executive committee voted --- by a huge margin --- to endorse state Senator Kevin de León over four-term, 26-year incumbent U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein in her reelection bid this November. Dayen describes what happened and why.

Finally, Dayen details why progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders and NY U.S. House candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are barnstorming the so-called "red" state of Kansas this weekend to stump for several progressive U.S. House candidates in advance of the state's August 7 primary. Early voting in the state is under way as of today.

Also, though we didn't have time to dive into the details, Dayen teases his recent "long read" over at HuffPost's Highline, which he worked on for about year, documenting the jaw-dropping story of what happened to a whistleblower who tried to sound the alarm on sexual harassment at international banking behemoth HSBC...

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

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