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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, November 14, 2019
'Green News Report' 11/14/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Catastrophic fires in Australia; Arctic blast in U.S.; Thunberg sets sail back to Europe; PLUS: Trump EPA seeks to limit science used to write public health rules...
Previous GNRs: 11/12/19 - 11/7/19 - Archives...
'If This Isn't Impeachable Conduct, What Is?':
Public Hearings Begin:
'BradCast' 11/13/19
Extended excerpts and analysis with guest Heather Digby Parton...
New EPA Rule Guts Science, Public Health for Corporate Polluters: 'BradCast' 11/12/19
Guest: Dr. Andrew Rosenberg of Union of Concerned Scientists; Also: SCOTUS allows suit against gun-makers, but may kill DACA; Impeachment begins; Our 1000th 'GNR'!...
'Green News Report' 11/12/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
OUR 1000th EPISODE! Looking back and forward at a thousand episodes of the 'GNR' with a few messages from some friends and the funniest snarky comment of all time!...
Previous GNRs: 11/7/19 - 11/5/19 - Archives...
EVERYTHING Is Now Political (Even CA Wildfires!): 'BradCast' 11/11/19
Callers ring in on impeachment, the climate change 'hoax', the new touchscreen vote system disasters last week in GA and PA, and in L.A. before next year's 2020 election...
Sunday 'Leaves of Crass' Toons
All the fall colors are on display in PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
Religious Freedom in Opposite World: 'BradCast' 11/8/19
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with Frederick Clarkson of Political Research Associates on the Christian right's new 'Project Blitz'...
Might Bevin Really Try to Steal KY's Gubernatorial Election?: 'BradCast' 11/7/19
Guest: U. of KY's Joshua A. Douglas; Also: NY judge fines Trump millions for fraudulent 'charitable' foundation; Much more...
'Green News Report' 11/7/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
11,000 scientists issue dire warning; Hottest Oct. ever recorded; Trump EPA to weaken water standards, again; PLUS: Honolulu, Maui County sue Big Oil for climate damages...
Previous GNRs: 11/5/19 - 10/31/19 - Archives...
2019 Off-Year Election Vote System Disasters and Electoral Triumphs: 'BradCast' 11/6/19
Guest: VA Delegate Mark Levine; Also: Brand new touchscreen vote systems failed in GA, PA, while Dems saw big wins elsewhere...
One Year Out: Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid. (Then Take Action!): 'BradCast' 11/5/19
Election Day 2019 voting system failures; Trump failures; 2020 polling failures; What YOU must do about all of it...
'Green News Report' 11/5/19
Trump begins withdrawal from Paris pact; Another Keystone Pipeline spill; Trump threatens disaster aid for CA wildfires; PLUS: Thunberg takes Los Angeles...
Nope. Not 'Getting Over It', A Year After Kavanaugh: 'BradCast' 11/4/19
Guest: Slate's Dahlia Lithwick on not returning to SCOTUS; Also: John Oliver touches on touchscreens; KY Gov's reelection contest...
Sunday 'Fall Back' Toons
You've got an extra hour this week to peruse PDiddie's latest toon collection! You're welcome!...
Warren's Plan to Pay for 'Medicare for All' Without Raising Middle Class Taxes: 'BradCast' 11/1/19
Guest: Alice Ollstein; Also: Repubs blocking 2020 student vote; Hill's final floor speech...
Divided House Holds Historic Vote on Impeachment Rules: 'BradCast' 10/31/19
Also: Impeachment 101; NSC official corroborates Trump's quid pro quo Ukraine pressure campaign...
'Green News Report' 10/31/19
Trump losing 'war on coal'; CA fires, blackouts an ominous sign for nation; Severe flooding coming to coastal cities; PLUS: Carmakers pick sides in clean air battle....
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...


Callers ring in on impeachment, the climate change 'hoax', the disastrous failures of new touchscreen vote systems last week in GA and PA, and in L.A. before next year's 2020 Presidential election...
By Brad Friedman on 11/11/2019 6:01pm PT  

Yes, everything, even wildfires in California, are now political, as proven over the weekend when I tweeted out a non-political video I captured of a fire that broke out on a hillside in the San Fernando Valley, threatening the iconic Hollywood sign just on the other side of the hill. Callers ring in today --- as we were able to open the phones for the first time in weeks --- on a bunch of stories covered on today's BradCast.

Among those stories...

  • Trump loses yet again in court as a federal judge on Monday dismissed his lawsuit filed in D.C. hoping to, preemptively, prevent Congress from using New York state's newly adopted law which allows the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee to request copies of the tax returns of New York residents (read: Donald Trump's). It was just another loss in the long list of frivolous lawsuits brought by Trump to try and keep his tax returns from becoming public, for some reason;
  • Over the weekend Republicans submitted a list of requested witnesses for the upcoming public hearings in the Trump impeachment matter regarding his attempt to extort Ukraine by withholding military assistance in exchange for his demand that Ukraine announce an investigation into Joe Biden, his son Hunter and a conspiracy regarding Ukraine interference in the 2016 election. The House GOP's request list includes both Hunter Biden and the whistleblower who first brought the Ukraine matter to light. Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic Chair of the Intelligence Committee holding the public hearings this week responded by saying that he will not allow the proceedings to be used to promote the already-debunked theories that Trump was attempting to force Ukraine to spread in his unlawful effort to strong-arm the nation's new President into helping Trump on his 2020 reelection campaign;
  • We review some of the remarkable comments I received over the weekend after I tweeted a completely non-political news video of a wildfire in Burbank which broke out while I was there. Did you know they were caused by socialist homeless pedophiles? Who knew? Trump fans on Twitter do, apparently!;
  • And, speaking of both fires in CA and the 2020 elections, I share the response I recently received from the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk's office seeking comment about their contingency plans to deal with preemptive power outages should they occur during the general election next year at the same time as the ones California power companies imposed this year in hopes of not sparking wildfires during climate change-fueled hot, dry and windy conditions.

    Now that Los Angeles is moving to 100% unverifiable electronic touchscreen voting systems and electronic pollbooks, such an outage could prove disastrous for voters on Election Day and during early voting next year. Unfortunately, while the Registrar's office here replied to my queries on this (tune in to hear their response), they failed to reply to follow up questions;

  • All of this is decidedly NOT an academic issues, given the disasters that occurred last week during Off-Year municipal elections in George and Pennsylvania, where, for the first time, counties in those states deployed brand-new touchscreen voting systems akin to the ones that Los Angeles will be forcing voters to use at voting centers next year, rather than hand-marked paper ballots and paper pollbooks (neither of which require electricity or the Internet).

    The results were catastrophic in many PA and GA polling places with some voters unable to vote at all, many forced had to wait up to an hour during the sparsely attended off-year election, and computer-reported results showing some candidates receiving 0 votes at several precincts, even though they'd received thousands. And, yes, a power outage prevented voters from voting at one precinct. All of this serves as a chilling preview of what could well await the nation in 2020 during the most critical Presidential election in our nation's history.

Finally, we then open the phone lines, at long last, on all of the above. And our listeners have a LOT to say about it all, including a few who believe global warming is a hoax, and that the President should NOT be impeached for either extortion or obstruction of justice. Fun! Tune in for all of that and much more on today's very lively BradCast!

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

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Guest: U. of KY Law Prof Joshua A. Douglas; Also: NY judge fines paper tiger Trump millions for fraudulent 'charitable' foundation, a few other breaking news items, and our 999th 'Green News Report'...
By Brad Friedman on 11/7/2019 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast, a close look at the scheme that Kentucky's Republican Governor may now be trying to pull off in hopes of stealing last Tuesday's election from the apparent Democratic winner. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, paper tiger Donald Trump, after vowing he'd never settle the case by New York Attorney General against his fraudulent "charitable" organization called the Trump Foundation, agreed to settle today after all. A state judge fined the President of the United States $2 million after finding he misused the foundation, repeatedly and illegally, to further his own political and business interests. Trump admitted to the wrong doing detailed in the settlement.

Moreover, the remaining $1.7 million in the organization's bank account will be donated, along with the $2 million fine, to several different charities, including the United Negro College Fund and U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Trump and his three children who sat on the Foundation's board will be restricted in their ability to sit on the boards of charitable organizations in the future. And while one might think that being forced by a court to pay up nearly $4 million after admitting to using a charitable foundation to rip people off would be grounds for impeachment, given the indescribably unending criminality of Donald Trump, it seems unlikely this matter will even come up in the U.S. House's ongoing impeachment proceedings against him.

To that end, House Dems have announced the schedule for the first public hearings in the impeachment inquiry to kick off next Wednesday, featuring two of Trump's top State Department officials who will testify to his politically motivated extortion plot against Ukraine. One of those officials, Deputy Asst. Sec. of State George Kent, is said to have taken copious contemporaneous notes after becoming concerned that the White House's attempted quid pro quo was "injurious to the rule of law, both in Ukraine and the U.S," according to a transcript of Kent's recent closed-door Congressional deposition made public on Thursday.

But, of course, we are still covering the ongoing fall-out from Tuesday's off-year elections, in which Dems flipped the Virginia House and Senate "blue" for the first time in decades, and as brand-new touchscreen voting machines deployed in Pennsylvania and in Georgia failed disastrously on their initial trial run before 2020.

Today, we focus on the potentially disturbing developments in Kentucky, where the state's unpopular and very Trumpy Republican Gov. Matt Bevin is said to have lost by just over 5,000 votes (out of some 1.4 million cast) to Democratic challenger Andy Beshear on Tuesday. Since then, Bevin has refused to concede, citing "well-corroborated irregularities" including what he described on Wednesday as "'thousands of absentee ballots that were illegally counted," reports of voters being "incorrectly turned away" from the polls, and "a number of machines that didn't work properly." He has yet to offer actual details on those serious allegations, but has formally requested a "recanvass" of tallies. That, according to KY's Sec. of State, will be carried out next Thursday, in a state with a very recent history of serious election rigging --- at least by very powerful insiders.

However, while the Bluegrass State has rules to resolve contested elections with recounts, those statutes specifically do not apply to gubernatorial races, oddly enough. And that's where things get quite murky in the state. Contested gubernatorial races are settled by a vote of both Houses of the General Assembly. Both chambers in the state (which Trump won by some 30 points in 2016) are currently controlled by Republicans. The last time a gubernatorial contest occurred in the state --- in 1899 --- it ended with an assassination.

While a GOP scheme to steal the election from a Democrat this way seems ridiculously far-fetched at first glance, a number of normally quite conservative election law experts are taking the matter quite seriously, given Bevin's current playbook which, some of them suggest, mirrors that of his close pal Donald Trump and what he may do in 2020 if things don't go his way.

We're joined by one of the nation's top experts on all of this today, University of Kentucky College of Law's JOSHUA A. DOUGLAS, to explain what happened on Tuesday; why Bevin's scheme and potential help from GOPers in the state legislature could augur very darkly for our democratic system; what all of this means for Mitch McConnell (the other similarly unpopular statewide Republican who just happens to be on the 2020 ballot); and what --- if Bevin turns out to be the same paper tiger that Trump is --- we should expect from the new Democratic Gov. Beshear's administration in an otherwise still very "red" southern state.

"There is danger," Douglas tells me today. "but it's not about irregularities. It's about the Governor's rhetoric and his allegations of 'voter fraud' and problems without any evidence whatsoever. I think that's really dangerous for our democracy, because it can undermine the public's confidence in our electoral system. I have not seen any evidence whatsoever that there were any problems in the way that Tuesday's elections were run. In fact, it was a fairly quiet Election Day [and] I usually hear about things that might be concerning. The danger here is really Gov. Bevin's allegations without any evidence, and Republican leaders' failure to call him out on that point."

"It's very concerning for what could happen in 2020 if Trump does not win re-election, and he also refuses to concede defeat by peddling theories of 'voter fraud' without any evidence," says Douglas.

Tune in for much more!

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the 999th edition of our Green News Report! And it's at least as disturbing as the previous 998. Next week: GNR1000! And thanks to those of you who make our nearly 11 years of climate coverage possible with your much-needed donations at BradBlog.com/Donate!

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

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Election Day 2019 voting system failures; Donald Trump failures; 2020 polling failures; And what YOU must now do about all of it...
By Brad Friedman on 11/5/2019 6:08pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's Election Day today, and not going well in several states. But it's also Election Day one year from today, for President, and we've got some very timely advice. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Voter are voting, or trying to, in dozens of states around the country today. And, like clockwork, voting systems --- particularly newly installed touchscreen and electronic pollbook systems --- are failing and causing long voting times in a number of states (like New York, Virginia, and Indiana --- where "about 30% of the 93 precincts in St. Joseph County" had touchscreen problems, according to its County Clerk), even in sparsely attended off-year elections. We'll have more such problems as they come to light, undoubtedly, along with noteworthy results of Tuesday's elections across the nation, on tomorrow's BradCast.

But, while we're waiting, as we are now exactly one year out from next year's critical Presidential election, there is every reason to imagine (foolishly, we'll add here) that Donald Trump will be wiped out in a landslide next year. All things being equal, on a level playing field and sane world, he would be. But we live in neither these days. Even setting aside his ongoing impeachment, his last week has been an embarrassment of failures.

  • His withdrawal from the landmark Iran nuclear agreement has now resulted in Iran installing at least 60 new, modern, high-speed centrifuges to enrich uranium, which had been previously banned under the pact --- until Trump broke it.
  • An analysis of U.S. troops now both coming and going in Syria following Trump's sudden declaration that the U.S. was pulling out of the warn torn nation and his subsequent announcement that he was sending troops in to defend oil field left abandoned by our fleeing Kurdish allies, means that when all is said and done, the U.S. will have 900 troops in the country. That, versus the 1,000 that were there previously. And with all of that, "the United States has deserted its pivotal Kurdish ally; ceded territory the Kurds had controlled to Syria, Turkey and Russia; and opened the door for a possible Islamic State resurgence" as hundreds of ISIS prisoners were able to escape in the Trump-created confusion.
  • At the same time, back home, we've learned that Trump's "impenetrable" border wall, built with $10 billion in tax-payer dollars (not Mexican pesos), is anything but impenetrable, as smugglers are said to be breaching it with a simple power tool available for under $100 at Home Depot.
  • And while he hasn't cancelled Native American Heritage Month, as some on the Internet were reporting on Monday, he has declared November, awkwardly, for the first time, to also be National American History and Founders Month, a pet White Powery swamp project of one of his top campaign funders.

With all of that failure and ineptitude and embarrassment and corruption --- from just the past several days alone --- you'd think this guy would be heading toward a blow-out landslide loss next year to whichever candidate or ham sandwich Democratic voters nominate to run against him in 2020. Indeed, Washington Post and ABC News today published new polling showing that, among currently registered voters, all five leading Democratic candidates (Biden, Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg and Harris) crush Trump in head-to-head national match-ups next year by anywhere from 17 to 9 points. While that could ultimately turn out to be true, that polling --- and a lot of similar surveys you will hear over the next year --- are of NATIONAL polling. We do not run national elections in this country. We run state-by-state electoral college elections for President.

And, on that score, the New York Times has a much more sobering --- and even chilling --- preview of where they find that things currently stand in the six battleground states (MI, PA, WI, FL, AZ and NC) that were said to have decided the election in Trump's favor in 2016. In those states, Trump is currently believed to be even with or defeating the top Democrats, according to the new polling, which may be either right or wrong.

There are many caveats on that poll as well. Either way, it should serve as a very loud, screaming, red flag, siren alarm bell for those who believe Trump couldn't possibly win re-election next year. Given the more-art-than-science nature of such polling and our incredible fragile and vulnerable electoral systems, he absolutely could win the election again next year (just as we warned, to little avail or notice, in 2016.) Thus, NOW is a great time to take action: What are YOU going to do next year to help voters vote? We discuss and offer a few ideas. It's time to take action.

Finally, speaking of still more Trump failures, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with news on the President's ridiculous withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, yet another new oil spill on the Keystone Pipeline, and much more as we approach our 1000th episode of the GNR! (For which we humbly thank you for supporting through your donations at BradBlog.com/Donate! If you haven't done so lately, now would be a really great time to stop by with a one-time or recurring donation of any amount you like. Thank you!)

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

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Guest: Slate's Dahlia Lithwick on not returning to SCOTUS; Also: John Oliver touches on touchscreens; KY Gov. Matt Bevin's reelection contest...
By Brad Friedman on 11/4/2019 6:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast: John Oliver touches on America's voting machine crisis, America goes to the polls again (using those same, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems), and one year after accused sex assaulter Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, one 20-year veteran SCOTUS journalist is refusing to return to the Court...and for very good reason. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, as we are now officially --- finally --- less than one year away from the critical 2020 Presidential election, our electronic voting systems in many states are still just as bad and dangerous and vulnerable and unverifiable as they were 15 years ago. And, in a bunch of states and jurisdictions across the country, they are getting even worse and less verifiable than they were in the 2016 election. HBO's John Oliver dipped into the issue on his latest Last Week Tonight on Sunday night and got a lot of stuff right regarding our easily-hacked, oft-failed touchscreen voting systems that have been in use over the past several decades. Unfortunately, he also left out a whole bunch of stuff regarding the new and equally vulnerable and 100% unverifiable computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) which are now being installed and proliferating in states (many of them key battlegrounds) from coast to coast before 2020. In short, as we detail, Oliver's report was excellent....if this was 2009. As it is now 2019, however, his commentary was a bit wanting. But, we'll take what we can get and that, of course, is why you have The BradCast.

In related-ish news, a bunch of off-year state and local elections are happening in several states on Tuesday. Among the noteworthy contests is the gubernatorial race in Kentucky, where the unpopular and very Trumpy Republican Governor Matt Bevin is fighting for his life in a race with Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear (son of the Bluegrass State's former Governor Steve Beshear), in what pre-election polls suggest is currently a dead-heat contest. But, as we detail today, Bevin was down anywhere from 3 to 5 points in pre-election polling during his first run for Governor against then Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway in 2015. Nonetheless, as we detailed that year, he somehow ended up winning the race, reportedly, by nearly 9 points in a state which still forces many voters to use the same unverifiable touchscreen voting machines that helped Bevin win in 2015. Many of those systems are the same very old, vulnerable and unverifiable ones which Oliver railed against on his HBO piece on Sunday. Trump is in KY on Monday night to help "drag one of the nation’s most unpopular governors across the finish line," as the New York Times describes it today, in what many see as a potential bellwether race ahead of 2020.

Meanwhile, it has now been just over a year since Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in to his lifetime post as an Associate Justice on the Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court. He was seated on the bench almost immediately after Republicans in the U.S. Senate rammed through his nomination --- with the help of a trumped up FBI "investigation" --- late last year despite multiple, credible allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh from the time he was in high school and college.

Longtime SCOTUS journalist DAHLIA LITHWICK wrote at Slate last week about why she has not returned to the Court since Kavanaugh was sworn in. She joins us today to discuss the reasons behind her decision, and why, as she described, she will "not accede to the routinization and normalization of the unprecedented seat stolen from President Back Obama in 2016" by Mitch McConnell and Republicans, nor from the "unprecedented seating of someone who managed to himself evade the very inquiries and truth-seeking functions that justice is supposed to demand" in Kavanaugh.

"One-quarter of the federal appeals courts, at this moment, three years into the Trump presidency, are Trump nominees. We're not just talking about nine justices on the Supreme Court. We're talking about the most strategic, systematic takeover of the federal bench that any president has ever effectuated," she tells me. "And that is happening day by day, right under our noses. And those judges are also going to sit for decades. So it's not just the Supreme Court."

It's a fascinating and important conversation, I think, about not only why none of us should simply "get over it" and "move on", when it comes to both Kavanaugh and the stolen seat filled by Neil Gorsuch, but also why our nation's seeming inability (or even interest) in assuring accountability for all manner of precedent --- and criminal law --- breaking in recent years has brought the country to the perilous position we now find ourselves in: Trump in the White House, the Supreme Court stolen and federal courts packed with unqualified rubes for life, and SCOTUS on the precipice of deciding a number of enormously momentous issues this session from union rights to reproductive justice.

"It's what happened when Barack Obama made the decision that we just are not going to re-litigate the CIA torture program, and this very aspirational notion that if we all forgive and forget, we all get to meet in the middle and work toward better outcomes. It's kind of Lucy with the football --- it never works out to meeting in the middle and working toward better outcomes. It just turns out that, yet again, ground has been ceded," she tells me.

"We're really bad at this. The heart wants what it wants, and the heart wants normal. I think that we keep believing that this erosion, this slow systemic erosion of norms, is somehow normal. I thought it was a law, it's not a law. I thought it was a rule, it's not a rule," says Lithwick. "We didn't didn't used to seat 37-year-old bloggers who've never set foot in a court room as a federal judges for life. And now we do. There's no law, there's just a norm. What I was trying to get at in the piece is that constantly acceding to this and saying, 'Well, this is what it is now' --- that there are costs. There are huge, huge costs to democracy."

"Our scrutiny, our unwavering, unflinching, I'm-not-over-it scrutiny does make a difference," she insists. "We need to hold the Court to the same unflinching, 'we're watching you,' 'we care'. That seems like soft power, I understand it's not optimal, but I think the Court responds. What they really want is for us to put this on page A27 and get over it. And that's our choice, not theirs."

Lots of important stuff here, as I said. Can't really summarize it well enough here, so please tune in.

Also, Lithwick rings in with some thoughts --- which tie into the broader conversation --- on what she expects from John Roberts' Supreme Court following today's ruling by a federal appeals court in Manhattan that Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, must turn over some 8 years of his and his company's tax and other financial documents to New York state prosecutors and a similar decision by a federal appeals court in D.C. last month that the same firm must also turn over similar records to Congressional investigators in response to yet another lawful subpoena...

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

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AG Barr ordered to hand over grand jury transcripts, exhibits redacted from the Mueller Report to Congress by October 30
UPDATE 10/29/19: DC Circuit Court of Appeal Grants Temporary Stay of Order to Release Grand Jury Materials...
By Ernest A. Canning on 10/28/2019 9:35am PT  

In her landmark, 75-page decision filed on Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Beryl A. Howell did much more than simply grant a motion filed by the House Judiciary Committee (HJC) to compel the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to provide it with grand jury materials from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe that had been previously concealed. In that same order, the court systematically demolished every quasi-legal objection the DOJ and White House have raised in their specious efforts to interfere with an ongoing and lawful impeachment inquiry.

The core question raised by HJC's motion was whether the court should order the DOJ to release pertinent grand jury materials in accordance with Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Although grand jury testimony and exhibits are ordinarily kept secret, Rule 6(e) authorizes a court to order the disclosure of such materials "preliminarily to" or "in connection with a judicial proceeding" when there is a "particularized need" for disclosure.

Judge Howell suggested that a House impeachment inquiry, in and of itself, may be considered a "judicial proceeding". She concluded, however, that the court did not have to reach that issue because the HJC was correct in its assertion that its impeachment inquiry was "preliminary to" a judicial proceeding.

In her erudite decision, Howell cited historical practice, the Federalist Papers, the text of the Constitution, and both Supreme Court and binding DC Circuit Court of Appeals precedent. All of these make it abundantly clear: U.S. Senate impeachment trials are "judicial proceedings". Indeed, the DOJ's contrary position is not only at odds with the appellate decision in Haldeman v. Sirica (1974) but also with the DOJ's own legal position in that Watergate-era decision. The DOJ was unable to satisfactorily explain why, under Attorney General William P. Barr, it had changed its previous, long-standing legal position.

The "particularized need" to release the materials arises, in this instance, because Mueller, in deference to the opinions of the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) that a sitting President may not be indicted,* refrained from reaching conclusions about the legality or illegality of the President's conduct. "This," the court observed, "leaves the House as the only federal body that can act on allegations of presidential misconduct." Yet, the court observed, "under the DOJ's reading of Rule 6(e), the Executive Branch would be empowered to wall off any evidence of presidential misconduct from the House by placing that evidence before a grand jury."

The DOJ's contentions were, thus, not simply wrong but untenable. "In carrying out the weighty constitutional duty of determining whether impeachment of the President is warranted," Judge Howell observed at the outset of her opinion, "Congress need not redo the nearly two years of effort spent on the Special Counsel's investigation, nor risk being mislead by witnesses, who may have provided information to the grand jury and the Special Counsel that varies with what they tell HJC."

Had she stopped there, Judge Howell's ruling would be significant. Her demolition of every argument against the validity of the impeachment inquiry that has been presented by the DOJ, by the White House and by some Republican members of Congress, however, was nothing short of breathtaking...

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Guest: Ann Ravel goes from FEC Commish to CA State Senate candidate, with some thoughts on many criminal violations by the President, and on our broken campaign finance system; Also: Giuliani snowballing...
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2019 6:44pm PT  

In my exclusive interview on today's BradCast with ANN RAVEL, former Chair of the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), we cover quite a bit of ground. From the reasons she has decided to run for office in California, to the apparent violations of federal election laws at the heart of the Trump impeachment inquiry into the quid pro quo with Ukraine, to the absurd campaign finance laws that allowed two now-indicted Rudy Giuliani associates to buy their way into the White House and directly effect U.S. foreign policy, to the Stormy Daniels affair, and to our shamefully broken FEC. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Ravel, who also previous served as Chair of California's Fair Political Practices Commission (or FPPC --- a more functional version of the FEC, but for the state of CA) and as Deputy Asst. Attorney General during the early years of the Obama Administration, is now running for State Senate in CA's 15th District, which includes San Jose in the Northern California Bay Area. After a lifelong career of public service, this is her first actual run for elected office.

We begin today's conversation with a few thoughts on the "local" issues regarding Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E)'s preemptive blackouts for hundreds of thousands of customers to avoid their above ground power lines sparking wildfires. The bankrupt for-profit power utility, the state's largest, has been found liable for billions of dollars after several deadly recent fires, thanks to a failure to properly maintain or bury power lines amid increasingly warm and dry climate changed weather. We discuss whether the state should simply take over the company, following Gov. Gavin Newsom's scathing remarks on Thursday citing PG&E's many deadly failures, which he attributed to "dog-eat-dog capitalism and corporate greed meeting climate change."

Then it's on to many issues of national importance --- as highlighted of late by several matters related to Trump's ongoing impeachment inquiry --- regarding our broken FEC, which does not currently even have a quorum of Commissioners to either meet or vote as we head into the most critical election year in the history of our nation!

Ravel, who resigned as FEC Chair "in abrupt and dramatic fashion", according to the Mercury News in February of 2017, "declaring in a public resignation letter that the Federal Election Commission is on a gridlocked road to nowhere," offers her many insights on...

  • Campaign finance laws apparently violated by Trump in soliciting a "thing of value" from a foreign entity. That impeachable and criminal violation of law is at the heart of Trump's attempted withholding of military aid and the strong-arming of Ukraine in exchange for dirt on the Biden family and the 2016 election. "There is no question whatsoever that there was a crime at the heart of this," Ravel tells me. "And I'm appalled, having also been at the Department of Justice at the beginning of the Obama Administration, what has become of a Department that is supposed to be doing justice for the people";
  • Attorney General Bill Barr and the Dept. of Justices' failure to refer that matter, exposed by a whistleblower complaint, to the FEC for civil charges, as per a longstanding agreement between the two federal agencies. "That was the general understanding that always was the principal we operated by at the FEC";
  • The FEC's lack of ability to take immediate action on such a charge, even if it had been referred to them, given the FEC's current lack of a quorum. "Had it been referred as a complaint, that would begin the statute of limitations. And there is a five-year statute. So at some point, assuming there are other Commissioners appointed, ever --- by McConnell, or the Democratic Minority Leader, and assuming that the President makes the nominations --- it could, in the coming five years, actually take some action";
  • The obscene lack of campaign finance laws following Citizens United and other woeful "dark money" rulings from SCOTUS in recent years. Those High Court rulings have allowed men like Rudy Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman to run an influence operation to purchase access to the White House and Republican members of Congress and actually effect U.S. foreign policy in the Ukraine matter in exchange for a few hundred thousands dollars (of unknown origin) given to Trump's SuperPAC, to Giuliani, and to other Republican officials and organizations. While Parnas and Fruman were recently indicted, their charges were based on lying to officials about the source of the money. Had they simply used their own, as we also recently discussed with Brendan Fischer of Campaign Legal Center (which filed the original complaint to the FEC about the pair's donations last year), the influence operation would have been perfectly legal under current law, she confirms. "And that is a whole other problem with our campaign finance system...That will only be fixed if there is a different Supreme Court";
  • Why isn't the case of Trump's hush-money payoffs to porn star Stormy Daniels a bigger matter, given that Trump is known to have "directed" a campaign finance law felony conspiracy in making the payments, and then failed to report them to the FEC as required by law? To Ravel's consternation, Democrats in Congress, to date, have yet to make the matter a central point in their impeachment inquiry, and the short-handed FEC is otherwise unable to bring civil charges for Trump's willful violation of the law. She notes that fines levied against the Obama Campaign years ago were for far less serious violations of campaign finance law. "I often say, to much laughter, that I consider myself an expert in Stormy Daniels. I think this is scandalous. It is a campaign violation, without question, and it was being done at the behest of the President."

Those are just some of the many topics discussed on today's program with Ravel.

Finally, after some breaking news on a ruling late today by a federal judge ordering the DoJ to turn over unredacted grand jury testimony and other materials from the Robert Mueller probe to House Democrats working on impeachment, we take a quick look at the quickly snowballing fate of Rudy Giuliani, who finds himself in deeper and more embarrassing --- and potentially criminal --- straits by the hour. For now, Trump is standing by his man. But probably not for long. So, for a musical close to to the week, we turn to the inimitable Randy Rainbow, who recently threw Rudy entirely under a bus...

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CA fires, private utility blackouts; Wilbur Ross' private email scandal; Giuliani lawyers up; 'Obamacare' prices drop; MA's shameful vaping ban...
By Brad Friedman on 10/24/2019 6:39pm PT  

With a short, semi-pause in the hot impeachment action on Capitol Hill, we take the opportunity on today's BradCast to catch up on a number of non-impeachment related stories (mostly). [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the many covered on today's program...

  • With climate change induced temps soaring, humidity plummeting and hot, nearly hurricane force desert wind gusts buffeting much of the state, wildfires are again breaking out again in both Northern and Southern California, despite the state's several privately-owned for-profit utility companies preemptively shutting down power to as many as half a million customers. That, to avoid still more liability for failing to maintain and/or bury their power lines which have been found as the cause of many recent deadly fires in the global warming-parched state. Gov. Gavin Newsom had some choice words on Thursday about those utility companies, such as Pacific Gas and Electric (PG+E) and Southern California Edison, placing profits over safety for many years in what he blasted as "dog-eat-dog capitalism [and] corporate greed meeting climate change";
  • As the years-long probe by Trump's State Department into the phony "scandal" surrounding Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server as Secretary of State finally concluded very quietly last week --- having found "no persuasive evidence of systemic, deliberate mishandling of classified information” --- yet another top Trump Administration official is being investigated for his use of private email accounts to conduct official business. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is at least the 9th senior Trump official who has been revealed to have done so, as he faces both a civil lawsuit over the practice, and as the National Archives and Records Administration has just opened an official probe;
  • In only somewhat impeachment-related news, Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who refused last week to answer a Congressional subpoena from House impeachment investigators while parting ways with his personal attorney, is now said to be looking for a new criminal attorney. The former NYC Mayor is reportedly a person of interest in at least two different federal probes, both criminal and counterintelligence, being carried out by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of NY (the office Giuliani once led as U.S. Attorney);
  • In U.S. healthcare news, open enrollment on the federal Affordable Care Act healthcare.gov exchange is set to begin on November 1, with as many as 20 new insurers and an average drop in the cost of premiums of 4%. Despite years of attempts by Republicans and Donald Trump to try and undermine "Obamacare", its marketplace is apparently stabilizing even as a ruling is now pending at any time from a federal appeals court in the GOP challenge to the law seeking to strike down the entire Act as unconstitutional;
  • And, in related-ish news, a court in Massachusetts has temporarily delayed an ill-considered attempt by its Governor to institute the nation's strictest ban on vaping, in supposed response to a recent outbreak of lung injuries, a number of them deadly, due to the use of black-market THC/cannabis vaping cartridges. Gov. Charlie Baker's attempted ban, however, would prevent the sale of all nicotine vaping products, which are not tied to the recent outbreak in any way, thus endangering the lives of an untold number of smokers and former smokers who would be prevented from using life-saving nicotine vapor devices in the state. Shamefully, a number of other states are in the process of implementing similarly deadly bans, thanks in no small part to horrifically irresponsible media coverage that has equated safe nicotine vaping (and safe marijuana vaping in locations where it is both legal and regulated) with the use of contaminated black-market THC vaping devices;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with more on the disgraceful and dangerous California private utilities power blackouts, the deadly costs of Trump's rollbacks of clean air standards, and Congressional testimony from former Exxon scientists who detail how the oil giant spent decades and millions of dollars lying to the public about climate change...

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Trump attorneys claim immunity for shooting someone on Fifth Ave.; WH attacks Bill Taylor; House RWers 'storm' Impeachment hearing; Facts keep undercutting Ukraine quid pro quo excuses; Also: Exxon scientists undercut oil giant on Capitol Hill...
By Brad Friedman on 10/23/2019 6:47pm PT  

On today's BradCast, Donald Trump needs a LOT of defending --- on virtually every front today. Lucky for him he's still got quite a few willing chumps, suckers and patsies willing to go down with his ship, from elected officials in Congress, to entire media networks invested in his criminal wingnuttery, to the best team of shameless lawyers his dirty money can buy. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

We kick off today with the remarkable argument offered by one his shameless attorneys in a federal appeals court in Manhattan, where a lower court judge recently ruled against Trump in his suit to block his longtime tax accountants at Mazars USA from turning over eight years of his tax and other financial documents as subpoenaed by state prosecutors. The probe is into payments made while Trump was in the White House to reimburse his then-attorney, now-convicted felon Michael Cohen for hush-money payoffs to porn star Stormy Daniels just prior to the 2016 Presidential election.

After the lower federal court judge virtually laughed the Trump attorneys out of court earlier this month, finding their argument that a President may not be indicted or even investigated at the federal OR state level to be "repugnant to the nation's governmental structure and constitutional values," Team Trump quickly appealed to the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard his argument today.

During today's hearing, the 3-judge federal panel, citing an infamous quip about Trump's ability to shoot someone on Fifth Avenue without losing any supporters, queried Trump attorney William Consovoy on whether law enforcement officials would be Constitutionally allowed to investigate or do anything about it, if that literally occurred. The President's attorney said no, they could not. It's a hypothetical that I've raised several times in the past, in response to the absurd, Constitutionally-weak, decades-old DoJ Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinion memo asserting that a sitting President may not be criminal indicted. That OLC memo, never tested in a court of law, though cited by Robert Mueller when he failed to bring criminal Obstruction of Justice charges against the President despite mountains of supporting evidence, will now almost certainly have its day before the Republican's stolen U.S. Supreme Court in this matter.

Then, the many desperate attempts made by Republicans last night and today to try and defend the President following Tuesday's "damning" testimony to House impeachment investigators by Bill Taylor, Trump's acting Ambassador to Ukraine. The veteran diplomat rocked D.C. with his meticulously detailed recounting of how he learned that Trump was personally behind the quid pro quo pressure campaign to withhold nearly $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine unless its recently elected President, Volodymyr Zelensky, publicly promised an investigation into Joe Biden and the 2016 election.

With no clear messaging campaign to push back against the explosive charges at the heart of the ongoing impeachment inquiry, Republicans from the White House to Congress to Fox "News" have been flailing over the past 24 hours. The White House Press Secretary released a statement attempting to tar the longtime civil servant and military veteran Taylor as a "radical unelected bureaucrat waging war on the Constitution"; Trump's former Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker took to Fox "News" to declare that "abuse of power" is not actually a crime; and Trump's far-right allies in the U.S. House stormed a secure room in the basement of the Capitol in a faux "riot" (reminiscent of the infamous "Brooks Brothers Riot" in Florida in 2000) to stall the planned impeachment deposition of Defense Department official Laura Cooper, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia. It is believed Cooper was to testify on the Pentagon's finding that the White House's withholding of Congressionally-allocated military assistance to Ukraine was, in fact, unlawful.

Some of Trump's defenders today have been arguing that Taylor's testimony highlighted that Zelensky didn't know about the withheld U.S. military assistance and, therefore, the Administration's pressure campaign could not possibly have amounted to a quid pro quo. That argument, however, was neatly eviscerated late today via an exclusive from Associated Press, reporting that Zelensky was aware of the White House pressure campaign and the potential of losing U.S. aid if he didn't play ball in Trump's political scheme, as early as May of this year.

Finally today, the stalled impeachment deposition was not the only hearing on Capitol Hill today. Desi Doyen joins us for some highlights from a House Oversight Committee hearing on Wednesday in which Exxon Mobil scientists testified about the oil giant's knowledge, decades ago, that the use of their product was endangering humanity by warming the globe, even as Exxon invested millions in an "immoral" public relations campaign to convince the world that the science on the matter was in doubt...

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Guest: Campaign Legal Center's Brendan Fischer; Also: Republican worms turning on impeachment after Mulvaney 'confession'?...
By Brad Friedman on 10/18/2019 5:51pm PT  

The outlook for Donald Trump appears grimmer by the day, but the systemic institutional problems that brought him to office and have now helped bring him to the brink of impeachment are of even larger concern on today's BradCast. [Audio link to today's program is posted below.]

First up, the latest in the House's ongoing impeachment inquiry, as the worm may --- emphasis on 'may' --- be turning, following Trump's Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney's nationally-televised admission that the Administration withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in Congressionally-allocated military aide to Ukraine in an effort to strong-arm the former Soviet nation into investigating Democrats and the 2016 election. Mulvaney's "confession", as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described it, of a pretty clear quid pro quo has knocked several Republicans off their footing, as they struggle to find ways to defend the President's actions.

A number of Congressional Republicans in both the House and the Senate now appear troubled by the admission (which Mulvaney attempted to walk back just hours later) and it has led Ohio's former Republican Governor John Kasich to concede on Friday that he now supports the impeachment and removal of Trump based on the latest information.

Then, we're joined by BRENDAN FISCHER, Associate Counsel at the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) in Washington D.C., which filed a formal complaint with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) in July of 2018, detailing serious campaign fiance law violations by Rudy Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. The Soviet-born Ukrainian-Americans were dramatically arrested and indicted at JFK Airport just over a week ago by federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York, as they were attempting to flee the country with one way tickets to Vienna. Parnas and Fruman were charged [PDF] with using a fake shell corporation to illegally funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars from an unknown source to Republicans, including Trump's America First Action SuperPAC, in a successful effort to gain political power.

They also paid some $500 thousand to Giuliani --- who is working, for free, as Trump's personal lawyer --- and donated to Texas Congressman Pete Sessions, all in an effort to act on the conspiracy theories used by Trump and Giuliani to strong-arm Ukraine. As Fischer lays out in a piece at CLC detailing the backstory of the arrests of the two Trump donors, "Working closely with the president’s personal attorney, Giuliani, their efforts touched two branches of U.S. government, two presidential administrations in Ukraine, at least five countries, numerous individuals in and out of government, and, now, an impeachment inquiry into the U.S. President himself."

"The big giving opened a lot of doors," Fischer tells me. "It got them into political fundraisers where they rubbed shoulders with President Trump's inner circle. That money allowed them to build and deepen a relationship with Giuliani. And they were able to leverage that relationship in order to advance this narrative about Ukraine --- the same narrative about Ukraine that President Trump espoused in his call with Ukrainian President Zelensky, which has now led to this impeachment inquiry."

In other words, despite the ongoing mysteries behind the true source of their funding, they got a lot of bang for their campaign finance bucks used to buy influence with GOP officials and effect actual U.S. foreign policy in the bargain. But, as Fischer explains on today's program, had they not used a phony corporation to do it with someone else's money (and lied about that to the FEC), everything they did appears to be largely perfectly legal under U.S. campaign finance laws! Yes, apparently if you have enough money, you are allowed to use it to buy a major political influence operation that can directly effect U.S. foreign and domestic policy, even out of the White House.

Fischer explains how the dark money operation --- which didn't even include all that much money --- is still being unraveled by federal investigators as the probe (which could even nab Giuliani) continues and, perhaps even more importantly, how it may represent just be the tip of a campaign finance iceberg that illustrates the dangers of our disgraceful campaign finance laws in the wake of the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling in 2010.

"The indictment makes clear that the purpose of the political contributions that Parnas and Fruman made was to buy access and to build influence with powerful political officials in order to advance their own personal financial interests," says Fischer. "But that is not what they are being indicted for. They were indicted because they laundered the funds through shell corporations and then lied about it." So, had they actually been rich dudes who used their own money for this scheme, it would have been just fine? "Yes, it would have been just a beautiful expression of their First Amendment right to free speech."

“This indictment of Parnas and Fruman is really an indictment of our big money political system. It lays out very clearly how powerful political figures operate on this cash-for-access practice. It's become entirely commonplace for wealthy political actors to buy their way into Congressional offices and into the President's inner circle. If you don't have money, your voice does not get heard in our democracy.”

Finally, longtime good government watchdog Fischer also rings in on Mulvaney's stunning announcement that the Administration has officially selected Trump National Doral resort in Miami, Florida as the location for next year's G-7 Summit of world leaders, despite the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution which strictly bans payments to the President from foreign officials --- a point that even Fox "News" (well, at least some there) appear to have a problem with as well...

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Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton; Also: 40k false voter purges prevented in Ohio; The return of 'GNR'!...
By Brad Friedman on 10/15/2019 4:31pm PT  

Our long road toward catching up with a month's worth of news continues on today's BradCast, with voting news out of Battleground Ohio, the latest on Trump's impeachment and chaos in Syria (and the thing that ties them together), as well as the latest environmental and climate news after a month away. [Audio link to show posted at end of summary.]

First up today: Some surprisingly good news for voters out of Ohio! The biggest surprise, perhaps, is that it comes, at least in part, thanks to the state's new Republican Sec. of State Frank LaRose, who had the good sense to check with voting rights groups beforewrongly purging some 40,000 perfectly active and eligible voters from the rolls who should never have been flagged for removal in the first place! Most of his fellow Republicans are likely not happy about that.

Then, we're joined by the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo to discuss the latest impeachment news and Trump's deadly withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syrian.

The impeachment inquiry over Trump's attempt to withhold nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine in exchange for its President's trumped-up state investigation of Joe Biden and the 2016 election continues to gain steam, with half a dozen or more current and former Executive Branch officials now lining up to testify --- and not in favor of Trump or his lackey lawyer Rudy Giuliani --- to Congressional investigators. Trump's former Russia and Europe expert, Fiona Hill, testified for some ten hours on Monday, reportedly citing Giuliani's shadow foreign policy schemes meant to undermine U.S. foreign policy and personally enrich the President in some way.

According to reports of her deposition, her superior on the National Security Counsel, former National Security Advisor John Bolton, was so alarmed by Giuliani's efforts he described the former NYC Mayor turned Fox 'News' conspiracist as a "hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up". Bolton reportedly tried to warn White House attorneys about Giuliani's many attempts to undermine U.S. Ukraine policy. Bolton himself, the unlikeliest of heroes in this shameful saga, may soon be called to testify to Congress in coming days, along with a long list of other State, Defense and National Security officials who now seem eager to defy the White House's strategy of denying both documents and testimony in the House Democrats' impeachment inquiry. "They're defying the White House telling them not to go testify," Parton observes, "That is a change. That is different than what we've seen. Suddenly that stonewall is crumbling."

We also discuss Parton's reasonable theory as to why this matter has finally resulted in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi giving full permission to her caucus to proceed with impeachment, where clear evidence of felony obstruction of justice from Robert Mueller's report and Trump's hush-money payoffs to porn stars to help win the 2016 Presidential election did not. "This is the same kind of stuff that Trump was accused of [in 2016], that we all suspected him of doing, colluding with a foreign government to sabotage his rival's campaign. Here he is [with Ukraine] doing it in real time. I think that's really what has made the difference."

In not-at-all-unrelated news, Parton goes on to discuss her latest Salon column in which she details how Trump's Syria pullout appears to be anything but an impulsive decision after a recent phone call with Turkish President Erdogan, as many in the media are still describing the disastrous move. She explains how the U.S. abandonment of our Kurdish allies with the U.S. withdrawal of troops from Northern Syria is of a piece with Trump's feckless Ukraine policy. In both cases, she explains, there is one unavoidable fact in common --- even for those of us who may not be Russia hawks: both actions, like so many other controversial policies of the Trump Administration, are in the clear and direct interest of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Finally, we close today with the long-awaited return of the Green News Report, which we had been forced to suspend over the past month due to my family emergency. Somehow or another, Desi Doyen manages to fit in a month's worth of green news into the latest GNR in just six minutes. Buckle up --- and stay that way!...

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

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Guest: Nicole Sandler...
By Brad Friedman on 10/14/2019 5:02pm PT  

Desi and I are back on today's BradCast, after an unscheduled month-long hiatus as my otherwise very healthy 80-year old dad suffered a sudden and major stroke in mid-September before ultimately passing away a few weeks later. [That's him on the left with me in the photo. Audio for today's program is posted below.]

We share a few memories of Harvey Friedman at the top of today's show (there are many more here) and a couple of very important lessons learned both before and after his death that will almost certainly be of use to you and your family! The two booklets I mentioned on air today are Five Wishes (available via AgingWithDignity.org) and the Advance Health Care Directive (available via PrepareForYourCare.org). Both are likely to be wildly helpul to your family, should you or they find themselves in a similar situation. Please consider clicking on those links when you find some time.

Then, we're joined by the great NICOLE SANDLER of The Nicole Sandler Show who filled in for us, with absolutely no notice, over the past month (with some occasional help from Angie Coiro along the way) even as she did her own show as well nearly every damned day! Desi and I cannot thank her enough. Though we try to today.

Since Nicole filled in for us during what was clearly a very very slow news month, she gets us caught up on what we missed while we were "gone", from the Impeachment process now under way in the House in response to Trump's strong-arming of the Ukrainian President for (apparently false) dirt on Joe Biden and the 2016 election; to Trump's disturbing sudden withdraw of U.S. troops in the Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Syria (and the death and chaos and escaped ISIS detainees and new deal cut between our previously-allied and now-abandoned Kurds and the Russian-supported Syrians in its wake); to the corporate media still falling for Trump's B.S. on everything from his "new impeachment attorney", former Rep. Trey Gowdy (who doesn't appear to have been hired after all) to his new trade deal with China (which may not be a deal after all); to the latest in the 2020 race for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

After a month off the grid, we're wading gently back in today and this week with a little help from our friends. My thanks to so many of you for your kind words while we were gone, and our thanks to all of our listeners and affiliate stations for tolerating our unexpected and unprecedented absence! Hope you'll enjoy today's program as we gently get back into the swing of things...

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

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Also: 2020 candidate shuffle; GA dodges voting system security test; L.A. County Clerk goes mum on new voting system; Much more...
By Brad Friedman on 8/22/2019 6:28pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we catch up with a grab bag of stuff, most of which doesn't have to do with Donald Trump's idiocy --- you're welcome --- but a lot of which has to do with what Americans need to do about him! [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Among the many stories covered on today's program...

  • The front page of the New York Times now, officially, looks like a pre-2016 parody of what the Times might look like if Donald Trump were ever elected President;
  • Denmark still doesn't want to sell Greenland to the US. Why, after all, would its citizens want to give up "universal health care, free higher education, five weeks of annual paid vacation and 12 months of paid parental leave, subsidized childcare and more"? But the Premier of Greenland is, however, interested in buying the U.S.!;
  • Two-term WA state Governor Jay Inslee, the climate change candidate, drops out of the 2020 Presidential race, but accomplished quite a bit and will now run for a third term as WA Governor;
  • Former CO Governor John Hickenlooper, who dropped out of the Presidential contest a week or so ago, announces his run for U.S. Senate to take on vulnerable Republican Sen. Cory Gardner in an already very crowded field of Dems vying for the nomination. (But, ahem....hint, hint, O'Rourke, Castro and Bullock!);
  • And, on the Republican side of the aisle, "reformed" Tea Party Republican and former one-term House Rep. Joe Walsh appears set to announce plans to primary Trump from the right next year. If his recent, blistering NYTimes op-ed is any indication, in which he eviscerates Trump for, well, just about everything, he would be a welcome participant along with already-declared former MA Gov. Bill Weld and a few other potential GOP challengers that may be coming soon;
  • In more disturbing and much-less noticed news, 22 Texas towns have been simultaneously crippled by coordinated ransomware attacks that have shut down all computerized city services. The hackers are demanding some $2.5 million to restore services to the unidentified towns which may all have used the same private contractor for municipal IT services. The attack-via-contractor is reminiscent of the 2016 spearphishing attack on voter registration services vendor VR Systems as described in Robert Mueller's Special Counsel report. That attack appears to have resulted in penetration of voter registration databases in several Florida counties in 2016, and perhaps other states (such as North Carolina) serviced by the same private vendor.

    But, sadly, none of this has prevented states and counties around the country from moving swiftly to fully-computerized voting and tabulation systems, as well as computerized electronic pollbooks (all frequently serviced by a small group of private contractors) as we move toward the critical 2020 elections. If those any of those thousands of jurisdictions whose poling places now rely on such automated systems on Election Day --- often without paper backup for ballots or pollbooks --- were to be similarly crippled by a ransomware attack on or before Election Day, the result would be unimaginable chaos next year. But how likely is that, really? Why worry?;

  • Some voters in Georgia are, in fact, very worried, and justifiably so, about the state's newly certified, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems now planned for first-time use in 2020. As we reported on the show a few days ago, those voters have invoked a little-known provision in GA's election code to demand a reexamination of the new systems which the state certified just weeks ago. The multipartisan voters charge Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensberger violated state requirements in his initial certification, and failed to do any security testing at all. The Sec. of State's office now says the petitioners, who prefer state voters use verifiable hand-marked paper ballots systems, simply disagree with the "policy preferences" of the Georgia General Assembly and must pay the costs for the second examination themselves;
  • In similar-ish news here in Los Angeles County --- the nation's largest voting jurisdiction, which is also planning to move to new, 100% unverifiable computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices for the 2020 election --- the county's Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan is refusing to answer questions by voters on Twitter as to whether they will be allowed to vote on hand-marked paper ballots at the polling place this year. That has been a mandate by the CA Sec. of State for many years.

    Also, Logan has similarly failed to respond for several days to a generous offer by legendary Finnish cybsersecurity and voting systems expert Harri Hursti to examine the county's new, never-before-used-in-any-election BMD systems for security concerns. Hursti, the first to have hacked a Diebold voting system over a decade ago, runs the now-infamous annual Voting Village event at the DefCon hackers convention in Las Vegas --- where, year after year after year, enormous vulnerabilities are discovered in every voting system put before the attendees. Despite Hursti's offer, Logan has not responded to it via Twitter.

    Why has the previously communicative Logan gone so mum? He has been very outspoken on Twitter in the past, and still seems to have no problem citing L.A. Times stories about his new system there. (Perhaps because those stories shamefully fail to mention any of the many security and verifiability concerns about them, as cited by cybersecurity and voting systems experts.) Why is Logan, a long time, usually quite responsive and responsible election official no longer answering questions from his voters and media about such a huge sea-change in voting for some five million L.A. County voters?;

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on record wildfires from the Amazon to the Arctic, record Alaskan heat killing salmon in the rivers, Jay Inslee's exit and teen climate activist Greta Thunberg's imminent U.S. arrival...by solar-powered boat.

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

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 8/6/2019 11:29am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Historic ice melt in Greenland raises worldwide sea levels; We've all just lived through the hottest month ever recorded on Planet Earth; PLUS: CNN's 2020 Democratic Presidential debate, for the first time, covered climate change and climate action in-depth... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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

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

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): We must change food production to save the world, says leaked report; Top climate scientist quits USDA, alleging political suppression; Who will pay for the huge costs of holding back rising seas?; Climate liability lawsuits are on the rise; N.J. lakes closed due to toxic algae blooms; El Paso suspect’s alleged manifesto highlights eco-fascism’s revival; U.S. has lost 24 million acres of natural land in 16 years; As Gulf Stream cools and weakens, what’s in store for Florida?; Heat headache for 2020 planners as Tokyo swelters a year before Olympic Games... PLUS: The new ruins of the melting Alps... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




Guests: David Dayen and Jacki Schechner on surprises from Wed. night, clarity on real 'costs' of Medicare-for-All, thoughts on Yang's plan for $1000/month Universal Basic Income, and Harris' record as CA AG...
By Brad Friedman on 8/1/2019 4:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Special coverage --- and a lot of smart information --- on Night Two of the second 2020 Democratic Presidential debate in Detroit, as hosted by CNN. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

The ten candidates featured during the second night's combative, two-and-a-half-hour long festivities were: former Vice President Joe Biden; CA Sen. Kamala Harris; NJ Sen. Cory Booker; entrepreneur Andrew Yang; Former HUD Sec. Julian Castro; NY Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand; HI Rep. Tulsi Gabbard; WA state Gov. Jay Inslee; CO Sen. Michael Bennet and NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio.

As during night one, the broad array of topics about which CNN's moderators worked hard to create confrontation between the candidates included healthcare (again leading the debate at the top and in the length of time spent on the issue), immigration, race, the climate crisis, the economy, foreign policy and, unlike the first night, even a question or two on how the candidates might take on Donald Trump and whether he should be held accountability for his crimes with impeachment.

Biden, the perceived front-runner, seemed at least slightly more prepared and less frail than in his first outing during the June debate in Miami, while finding his policies as a Senator over the last many decades and as President Obama's Veep sharply attacked by a number of the other participants. For her part, Harris --- who seemed to get the best of Biden in a number of exchanges during the June forum, seeing her fortunes rise thereafter --- was met with tough attacks from both Biden and several of the other candidates hoping to grab the spotlight. Booker stood out in a number of exchanges, including several with the former Vice President. Other candidates had their moments as well, as we discuss, even as the field for the next debates in September may now be cut by half or more.

We're joined today, once again, by two guests for our special coverage. Journalist, former CNN producer and healthcare reform expert JACKIE SCHECHNER is back with us again today, and we're also joined by prolific investigative financial journalist and award-winning author DAVID DAYEN, who now also serves as Executive Editor for The American Prospect.

Their smart analysis and insight today focuses on, among other things...

  • Whether CNN improved on its questioning and format for night two after facing sharp criticism for their opening round on Tuesday (Schechner saw moderate improvement, Dayen saw none);
  • which candidates, if any, stood out over their past performances (Booker and Inslee receive the most noteworthy nods on that score);
  • whether or not proposals by a number of the more progressive candidates for a Medicare-for-All style single-payer universal coverage system is actually affordable, or if the more modest proposals to build on the existing Affordable Care Act with a so-called "Public Option", as sought by the more conservative candidates like Biden, is actually more realistic. (Dayen describing the "entire conversation about costs" as "a complete red herring", offers a more concise, clear answer to that question than any of the 20 candidates over the past two nights! In short, he explains: "A Medicare For All system would save money. We know that because the Koch-funded Mercatus Center, which put together the very study that Joe Biden and these others are quoting, said that a system where the government would cover all medical costs would actually cost $32 trillion dollars over a ten-year period, but doing nothing right now would cost Americans, through their total national health expenditures, $34 trillion. So the overall savings to America from moving into a single payer system is two trillion dollars over ten years.");
  • how Democrats seem to be pulling their punches when it comes to one of the largest cost drivers of healthcare;
  • whether debates over these weedy details are helpful or even necessary right now, or if they should take a back seat for the moment to the question of who can best defeat Donald Trump in 2020. (The conversation now simply "muddies the waters" and is "totally unecessary," Shechner argues. "We need to bring this up to a higher level at this point, and say, 'You're going to have a choice in the election between somebody who wants to do something about the broken healthcare system and somebody who doesn't care about the broken healthcare system, has no plan for it, has no interest in fixing it, and is simply interested in dismantling anything that President Obama put into place.")
  • how Yang's interesting proposal for a $1000/month Universal Basic Income for every American would (or wouldn't) actually work;
  • and a number of concerns about Harris' record as CA's Attorney General before she became a U.S. Senator. That as she cited her record as a prosecutor taking on the Big Banks during her closing statement on Wednesday night.

All of that and much more is covered during our lively --- and, I believe, quite enlightening --- conversation on today's BradCast special coverage...

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

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Guest: Politico's Alice Ollstein; Also: House votes to condemn Trump 'racism'; Dem Rep. to introduce Articles of Impeachment...
By Brad Friedman on 7/16/2019 6:32pm PT  

As a chaotic vote to condemn Donald Trump's racist comments against four Democratic freshmen Congresswomen of color moved successfully through the House during today's BradCast, we tried --- even if we didn't always succeed --- to focus as much or more on the effects of his Administration's dangerous policies, more than his obnoxious, hateful words as our eternally embarrassing President of the United States. [Audio link to full show is posted below article.]

On Monday morning, as we discussed on yesterday's program, Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr, with a stroke of his pen, took Administrative action to effectively rewrite decades of immigration law and case precedent to bar virtually all asylum claims made on the U.S. southern border. The radical action is now being challenged by the ACLU and, according to many immigration experts, is likely to be found unlawful by the federal courts.

Then, on Monday night, after we got off air yesterday, the Administration enacted another radical measure without notice. Trump's Department of Health and Human Services declared a new regulation would immediately take effect to ban medical services providers who receive Title X funding from referring patients to other doctors for abortions. Federal funds are already banned for use in most actual abortions themselves, but now what critics describe as a "gag rule" will be in place to keep medical professionals from even referring their patients.

Title X, signed in 1970 by President Richard Nixon after bipartisan support in Congress, allocates some $260 million each year to family planning services for four million low income women. The funds are granted to states across the country and to organizations such as Planned Parenthood.

Under the new regulations, as our guest today, Politico healthcare reporter ALICE OLLSTEIN detailed after the rule was first proposed earlier this year, "clinics offering abortions would need to construct physically separate entrances, hire separate staff and maintain separate medical records for its abortion and non-abortion providers --- a requirement reproductive care groups argue is so costly that some, or even perhaps many, sites would be forced to close."

At the top of today's show, news broke that, in the wake of the Administration's new regulations and other rightwing assaults on the Constitutionally-protect right to abortion, Planned Parenthood's recently appointed new President, Leana Wen, has been forced out of her post. The group had previously suggested they would need to forgo federal Title X funding if the rule was formally enacted, as have several states across the country who, like Planned Parenthood are suing to block the regulation.

Nonetheless, even before any of those lawsuits have been tried, the new rule has been placed into immediate effect by HHS, resulting in "mass confusion and chaos" for states and medical care providers alike today, according to Ollstein. "Now, any clinic that makes abortion referrals for patients who request one will have their funding cut," she tells me. "Lots of clinics across the country, including all Planned Parenthood clinics, which serve a large portion of the Title X population, said that they can't comply with that. It's against their ethics as doctors to not be able to make a referral that a patient requests. So they said 'We're going to exit this program. We're going to try to rely on our own funding as long as we can. We're going to hope the courts stop this rule, and we're going to try to keep our doors open and serve this low-income population.'" But, as Ollstein notes, "that could be a struggle."

She also explains how the Right is able to justify this blatant intrusion of the federal government between a patient and her doctor, given their years of decrying the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) under the premise that the landmark healthcare law would do just that. Ollstein also goes on to warn that the federal case currently moving through the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that could strike down Obamacare entirely as unconstitutional, is now a very real threat to the law's future --- which even Republicans in Congress are now beginning to panic about.

Also on today's program, we follow the House Democrats move today to pass a non-binding resolution condemning Trump for his racist "go back" to your countries tweets over the weekend, directed towards Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar, all of whom are American citizens. Three were born in the U.S. and one, Omar, came here as a child refugee to escape civil war in Somalia. Also today, Texas Democratic Rep. Al Green announced his intention to introduce Articles of Impeachment against Trump once again tonight after the vote on resolution to condemn Trump. He vows to force a floor vote on the Articles within two legislative days.

By show's end, the racism resolution had been passed by Congress with the votes of all Democrats, four Republicans and newly independent former Republican Justin Amash, after what is being reported as a "bitterly partisan brawl" and "one of the most polarizing exchanges" ever on the House floor. The measure comes after both Trump's racist tweets telling the women to "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came" on Sunday, and his doubled-down assertion on Monday that their criticism of his Presidency and policies demonstrates they "hate America".

In fact, as Philip Bump cleverly highlights in a "Who said it?" test at Washington Post, Trump's own comments about the U.S. during the Obama Administration are far more demonstrative of hating America than anything ever known to have been publicly uttered by the four women he continued to attack on Twitter today. We're happy to associate ourselves with Stephen Colbert's response to all of this from Monday night.

Finally, as if all of that isn't chaotic and ugly enough, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, after New Orleans dodged catastrophe (for now) from Hurricane Barry over the weekend; the U.S. sees its wettest 12-month period on record (again); and the weekend blackout in NYC reveals (also, again) the fragility of this nation's vulnerable infrastructure...

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

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