On today's BradCast: We're joined by progressive Democratic REP. BARBARA LEE of California, the only member of Congress, in either house, to vote against the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) after 9/11, calling it a blank check that would lead to endless war. As we now know, 17 years later, with the War in Afghanistan and many others still raging under the third President to cite the AUMF to justify military action anywhere in the world without Congressional oversight, she was, of course, correct. Along with continuing her fight to repeal that 2001 AUMF, this week Lee introduced a new bill regarding woman and climate change, which we discuss as well today. [Audio link to show follows below.]
But first up, on another insanely busy program, we detail what happened on Thursday night and Friday morning when Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) single-handedly held up passage of the new, bi-partisan government spending bill, which includes up to $500 billion in new military and domestic spending, as well as disaster aid. In shutting down the government for the second time this year, for about seven hours, Paul described approval of the bill and increased deficit spending by his fellow Republicans to be the "the very definition of intellectual dishonesty [and] hypocrisy". That, after the intellectually dishonest and hypocritical Paul just voted in December, along with the entire Senate Republican caucus, for massive, unpaid-for tax cuts set to blow a $1.5 trillion hole in the national debt.
Then, late details on this week's newest scandal surrounding the resignation of White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter on Wednesday, following the public disclosure of his alleged violence against his two former wives. Among the new developments: Donald Trump's Chief of Staff John Kelly and other top White House officials reportedly knew about the charges long ago; Kelly has now said he'd be willing to resign over what happened, and several outlets are reporting that their remain "dozens" of White House staffers, some in very senior positions, still operating without full security clearance.
That suggests that many of them, like the President's son-in-law Jared Kushner, may never receive full security clearances, despite Trump and the GOP having run their entire Presidential campaign hypocritically (and falsely) charging that Hillary Clinton carelessly allowed classified information to be seen by those without proper security clearance. According to Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), a former White House Staff Secretary himself, describes this situation as "nuts", saying that Porter would have handled the nation's most highly classified secrets in his top Oval Office role. He believes an investigation is warranted to determine what both Kelly and Trump knew about the "eminently blackmailable" Porter and who gave him the okay to remain on, even after the FBI had determined he would not qualify for a full security clearance.
Next, we're joined by Congresswoman Lee, to detail her new "Woman and Climate Change Act of 2018" [PDF]. We discuss how women and girls around the world are "bearing the brunt in many ways", as the first and most affected victims of the dangerous effects of global warming and whether Republican members of the bi-partisan Women's Working Group may help in co-sponsoring this effort, despite "the climate deniers who are within the federal government running the show."
"Women are especially vulnerable to these changes in the environment," Lee explains. "We know women are the ones that are finding water, collecting food, caring for family members. And so now, more than ever, we need to focus on climate change as a whole, but also ways to empower women, as they are the most vulnerable people, and will be impacted most by these health epidemics, refuge crises, forced migration --- all the issues that we know women are disproportionately impacted by."
She also shares her opinion on the odds of Ivanka Trump, self-proclaimed women's champion, coming aboard this particular campaign. Lee, a former co-chair of the Progressive Caucus in the House, who now serves as Senior Democratic Whip, responds as to whether Democrats fought hard enough, during the recent government funding battle, to protect "Dreamers" facing imminent deportation as early as March 5, unless a legislative deal can be struck, and whether she believes House Speaker Paul Ryan will ever allow such a measure to be brought up for a vote. She urges Americans to keep contacting their members of Congress on both of these efforts.
"Listen, you have to stay optimistic. Otherwise we get stuck with their negativity and trying to take us back. The public has to be hopeful and has to work hard to get this done," she tells me.
Finally, Lee also shares her thoughts on the bi-partisan momentum in both the House and Senate for finally repealing (and replacing?) the 2001 AUMF. "Congress has been missing in action. We need to do our job, and we're not. But, believe you me, we are building support to do this," she insists. "Hold your elected officials accountable!"
We close today with a bit of listener mail in response to a recent story we covered on the record number of scientists now said to be running for office in 2018, and on the dangerous new effort by the Trump Administration place lifetime limits on Medicaid for the first time in the popular social safety net program's history...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)