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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, April 16, 2021
Corporations Pretend to
Stand Up for Democracy:
'BradCast' 4/15/21
Guest: Pulitzer Prize-winning biz journalist Michael Hiltzik; Also: New U.S. sanctions on Russia reveal previously unknown detail on alleged 2016 election interference...
'Green News Report' 4/15/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
US threat assessments finds climate change a clear, present danger; Japan to dump radio-active water in ocean; Biden undoing Trump damage; PLUS: France to ban short flights...
Previous GNRs: 4/13/21 - 4/8/21 - Archives...
Biden's Infrastructure Plan Begins End of Govt Socialism for Fossil Fuel Industry: 'BradCast' 4/14/21
Guest: David Roberts of Volts; Also: DHS knew Capitol was 'target'; Biden to end 'forever war'...
'Both Sides'? Really, Liz?: 'BradCast' 4/13/21
New data shows stunning rise in RW domestic terror; Also: US 'out' of Afghanistan by 9/11/21; J&J vaccine 'paused'; Cop, police chief resign in MN; Appalling video shows VA cops pepper-spraying black service member in car...
'Green News Report' 4/13/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Western drought worsens before fire season, water cutbacks; CA's fire prevention plan; EV battery company settlement; PLUS: NOAA predicts bad 2021 hurricane season...
Previous GNRs: 4/8/21 - 4/6/21 - Archives...
The SCOTUS-Approved, FCC Ownership Rule Catch-22: 'BradCast' 4/12/21
Guest: Sue Wilson of the Media Action Center; Also: More news from vaccination nation; More corporate pushback against vote suppression...
SCOTUS Approves FCC Rule to Allow Further Consolidation of Local Media Outlets
Under Trump, the federal agency created a Catch-22 on new rule by requiring private research to counter hidden public data...
Sunday 'Avoid the Politicks' Toons
PDiddie's Springtime reminder to avoid the 'blood-sucking insects' in his latest collection of the week's best political toons...
GOP 'Legislative' Agenda Now Carried Out by Activist SCOTUS: 'BradCast' 4/9/21
Guest: Court expert Ian Millhiser; Also: Amazon union vote loses in AL; Biden's new SCOTUS reform Comm.; Hating on Cruz and Graham...
The Swift and Pathetic Downfall of AL's Sleazy SoS John Merrill: 'BradCast' 4/8/21
Also: Other sorry sleazy news from a GOP in free fall; Biden's gun safety executive actions; Manchin's ridiculous blockade of progress...
'Green News Report' 4/8/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Biden speaks to dumb GOP infrastructure attacks; Looming wave of abandoned oil, gas wells; Treasury to help private sector decarbon-ize economy; PLUS: GM's all in on EV future...
Previous GNRs: 4/6/21 - 4/1/21 - Archives...
Overcoming Trump's Sabotage to Restore Landmark Iran Nuke Deal: 'BradCast' 4/7
Guest: Dr. Trita Parsi of the Quincy Inst.; Also: 10 Dem Reps join insurrection lawsuit against Trump; Update on Amazon union vote in AL...
Dems Hit Legislative Jackpot; Repubs' Trip to Looneyland: 'BradCast' 4/6/21
Also: State GOPers adopt Fossil Fuel Ind. bills to nix renewables, block small govt; Rep. Hastings RIP; Vaccines to all on April 19...
'Green News Report' 4/6/21
FL Wastewater crisis FL; Admin pushes back on GOP opposition to infrastructure; Earliest cherry blossoms in 1,200 years; PLUS: Springfield, MA victory for breathers...
Vaccination Nation: 'BradCast' 4/5/21
Wherein Brad and Desi get a first dose; COVID cases surge again, esp. among young; U.S. tops its record for shot distribution in race with new variants; Listeners ring in with own experiences, concerns on all of the above...
Sunday 'Hippity Hoppity' Toons
Here comes PDiddie's latest toon collection for Easter Day! Hop on over!...
EAC Sued After Allowing Modems in Vote Systems Following Private Meets with Vendors: 'BradCast' 4/2/21
Guest: FSFP's Susan Greenhalgh; Also: Capitol attack; MLB pulls GA All-Star game...
Paying the High Price of Corporate Capture: 'BradCast' 4/1/21
Also: CA drought returns; De-Trumpifying the EPA...
'Green News Report' 4/1/21
'GNR' Special Coverage: Biden's sweeping, $2T American Jobs Plan to rebuild nation's infrastructure, take on the climate crisis...
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: Sarah Repucci of Freedom House; Also: Senate passes Biden's very progressive $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill; SCOTUS rejects last of Trump's 2020 election challenges...
By Brad Friedman on 3/8/2021 6:44pm PT  

It's not only in the U.S. where democracy is now under attack. Unfortunately, as discussed with our guest on today's BradCast, when freedom and democracy begin to collapse here, it gets even worse everywhere else. [Audio link to show follows below this summary.]

But, first up today, a quick word or two on Harry and Meghan (because in case you thought a parliamentary monarchy was a better idea than our representative democracy....well, that's not working out so well either these days.)

Very good news out of Congress, however, where the U.S. Senate finally passed Joe Biden's massive $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan over the weekend. Sadly, it was adopted 50-49 without a single Republican vote. The wildly popular measure provides critical relief across a whole bunch of sectors, with, as the New York Times describes, it "the principle Democrats and liberal economists have espoused over the past decade: that the best way to stoke faster economic growth is from the bottom up."  We go through many of the details of this major relief and stimulus plan that both Democrats and progressives should be damned proud of. Hopefully they remember to sing its praises between now and November of 2022, at the very least.  While the bill was changed marginally in the Senate after House passage (in some ways, it was even made more progressive!), it remained pretty much the same bold plan as initially proposed. It is, as many have described it, the most progressive relief bill ever passed by both Houses of Congress.

Democrats, by and large, seem to have figured out that it's ridiculous to negotiate with themselves in order to win the fool's errand of receiving Republican votes, when they ain't coming on board for anything Democrats in power favor, no matter how popular the measure is with their own Republican constituents (very!) or how many of them it will actually help in myriad ways. The measure must be approved one more time in the House before it heads to the President's desk likely this week, followed by his signatures and then individual checks of $1,400 to most Americans, $3,600 for most children, new expansions to Obamacare to allow those with higher incomes to receive subsidies for health insurance premiums and much much more to get American and its economy and schools back open faster and safer.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Donald Trump lost Wisconsin yet again, as the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his appeal of a lower court ruling upholding the bipartisan Wisconsin Election Commission's handling of mail-in ballots in the 2020 election. And, with that, SCOTUS has now officially rejected every challenge to the 2020 election results brought by Trump and his MAGA Mob to the Republicans' stolen and packed high court.  Sadly, GOP state legislatures are now in the process of attempting to impose severe new restrictions on voting in multiple states, including by rolling back measures, for example, for no-excuse absentee voting in Georgia, that they themselves had previously enacted.

So the fight for democracy and voting rights continues. Sunday marked the 56th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march in Selma, Alabama, when civil rights icon, the late Rep. John Lewis and hundreds of others were beaten to a pulp by state troopers during a protest walk for voting voting rights across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. That violence at that 1965 march, witnessed live on television, resulted in President Johnson signing the landmark Voting Rights Act that year. In commemoration over the weekend, President Biden issued an executive order "to promote voting access to all all eligible Americans to participate in our democracy." The order, as the White House describes it, "will leverage the resources of the federal government to increase access to voter registration services and information about voting."

The effort comes not a moment too soon, unfortunately, as underscored by a new report out last week from Freedom House titled Freedom in the World 2021: Democracy under Siege. It finds, among other troubling things: "As a lethal pandemic, economic and physical insecurity, and violent conflict ravaged the world, democracy’s defenders sustained heavy new losses in their struggle against authoritarian foes, shifting the international balance in favor of tyranny."

Three-quarters of people in the world now live in countries where freedom and democracy are on the decline, according to the group's latest annual report. As Washington Post's coverage notes, "This year’s survey, published Wednesday, marked the 15th consecutive year of global democratic backsliding --- 'a long democratic recession,' in the organization’s words, that is 'deepening.'' Moreover, the United States dropped three rankings in this year's survey which, its co-author explains on today's show, has been carried out by the 80-year old, non-partisan, non-profit group every year since 1972.

We're joined today by Freedom House Vice President of Research and Analysis SARAH REPUCCI, who notes that while the report cites the "unprecedented attacks on one of the world’s most visible and influential democracies," with the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol in January, and that his "actions went unchecked by most lawmakers from his own party, with a stunning silence that undermined basic democratic tenets," the 1/6 insurrection attempt wasn't even considered as part of this year's rankings of 195 countries, since it occurred in 2021.

Moreover, Freedom House found the largest "democracy gap" (the number of countries that improved minus the number of countries that declined) in the report's history last year, which marked 15 years of decline by the group's measure.

Repucci explains the report's methodology, which areas of the world are now seen as most at risk, and how the decline in freedoms and democracy in the U.S. over the past 15 years --- particularly over the past decade --- have helped to encourage the grim turn for democratic movements across the globe in recent years. She also offers some key recommendations for how to turn things around in this country, including reform in a number of areas --- such as ending partisan gerrymandering and instituting campaign finance reform. Both of those items are central tenets of the critical H.R.1, or "For the People Act", an omnibus and long-overdue elections and ethics reform package that has now been adopted by the U.S. House but faces a Republican filibuster in the U.S. Senate at this time.

"What many of us have been witnessing here in the United States is part of this larger global trend," Repucci tells me. "We've been tracking 15 years of decline globally, and the US has been declining the last ten years. So this is not totally not new in the US, and it's definitely not new globally.  What we are seeing are declines across the board in very repressive settings and also in democracies and everything in between." She warns: "The main takeaway is that no country is safe from this. It's affecting all types and all regions. It's something that we need to take really seriously."

Finally today, the CDC has issued its first guidelines for those who are now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. The guidance, which we discuss, allows for, among other things, those who have been fully vaccinated to hang out indoors, in private settings, without masks or social distancing with others who have been fully vaccinated as well. So, there's just one more good reason to get a shot as soon as you can figure out how to get one (or two, as the case may be). So far, just under 10% of Americans have been fully vaccinated...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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House passes H.R.1., so now what?; MI audits find 2020 results accurate, so now what?; AZ Senate finally gets ahold of Maricopa County's 2020 ballots, so now what?; GOP Congressman admits to three counts of felony voter fraud...so guess what?!...
By Brad Friedman on 3/4/2021 6:31pm PT  

We've got mostly democracy-related stories to report on today's BradCast. Some good news, and some bad. But there's a whole bunch of anti-democracy GOP fraud throughout, because what democracy story in the U.S. these days doesn't include Republican fraud and/or attempted voter suppression? [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Among the stories covered on today's show...

  • We start with one story that has little to do with democracy, though it should be enough to ensure these two idiot Governors are never elected to anything ever again. In case you are unclear just how idiotic the Governors of Texas and Mississippi are, after they lifted all COVID restrictions in each state this week in hopes that folks won't notice how horrifically they failed their own constituents following the winter storm there three weeks ago, Axios reports today that, while COVID infections rates are still falling in most states, the rate in Texas is up 27 percent over the past week and Mississippi's is up a nation-leading 62 percent! Luckily, both states are islands, so the idiocy of their Republican Governors won't effect everyone else's efforts to get beyond this pandemic once and for all, right?
  • House Democrats, as expected, passed H.R.1 --- the "For the People Act" --- on Wednesday night with zero Republican votes. The massive, landmark, once-in-a-generation voting rights, campaign finance reform and ethics reform bill now moves to the Senate. In that undemocratic body, however, where a simple majority is NOT enough to pass a democracy reform bill as of now, it will likely die, unless enough pressure is applied on Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to do the right thing, reform the filibuster, and allow this critical (if imperfect) measure to pass while Democrats have a brief opportunity right now to do so. The measure is long overdue and, according to new polling, wildly popular with the American people of all parties. 68% of likely voters favor the bill, and even a majority of Republicans (57%), back it as well.
  • The sad (and dangerous) Trump/GOP effort to con Americans into believing last November's election was stolen from the disgraced former President --- despite all evidence to the contrary --- continues.  And the massive evidence to the contrary continues to mount. This week, Michigan's Secretary of State announced that the results of a second statewide post-election audit once again confirms the initially reported results. "All of Michigan’s more than 250 election audits are now complete, and each and every one of them affirmed the integrity of the November election and the accuracy of the results," Sec. of State Jocelyn Benson said on Thursday. The audits were carried out by "More than 1,300 Republican, Democratic, and non-partisan election clerks...working across the aisle to review one another's procedures, ballots and machines in coordination with the state Bureau of Elections." Full hand-counts were carried out in some places, such as Antrim County, where Republicans pretended that Dominion Voting Systems machines were used to try and steal the election from Trump.  And, in heavily populated cities like Detroit, election officials determined that, of 174,000 absentee ballots tallied in the city, only 17 votes were ultimately "out of balance" (where the number of ballots cast in a precinct differed from the number of envelopes or signatures accounted for.)
  • But the most embarrassing state GOP idiocy of the week may belong to the Republican-controlled state Senate in Arizona. After months of subpoenas to elections officials, ordering them to turn over all 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County (Phoenix) last year --- and even coming within one vote of throwing elections officials there in jail for following state law by securely retaining custody of the ballots cast in the County last November --- a state judge finally ordered Maricopa officials to obey the subpoena to deliver all ballots to the Senate, so they could count them themselves. They were all delivered, 73 pallets of them, this week. And guess what? Senate Republicans have no idea what to do with them now.  The story is even worse than it sounds, as we discuss today.
  • But at least officials in Kansas were finally able to find some voter fraud. Specifically, voter fraud by now-former Republican U.S. House Rep. Steve Watkins of Topeka. The one-term Congressman was defeated last year. But not before he lied about his residence, using the address of a UPS store on his voter registration, voted in an election he was not entitled to vote in, and then lied to state investigators about it all.  He was charged with three felonies related to voting. This week, however --- because, luckily, he is a white, male Republican from Kansas --- prosecutors are allowing him to enter a diversion agreement that delays his trial for six months, and drops the charges entirely if he's a good boy through September. We compare his treatment to that of Crystal Mason, an African-American mother of three in Texas, who, unlike the Kansas Congressman, had no idea she was violating the law when she cast a provisional ballot that was never counted in the 2016 election. She received a sentence of five years in prison for her "crime".
  • Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, as climate change has resulted in the weakest Gulf Stream in about 1,000 years; carbon emissions are rising again as COVID restrictions are loosened; Joe Biden raises U.S. targets under the Paris Climate Agreement; and another major carmaker announces plans to stop selling all gas burning, internal combustion engine vehicles in their line in very very short order...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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On the rising threat of rightwing domestic terror; Accountability for Trump/GOP and crucial democracy reform...
By Desi Doyen on 2/19/2021 3:37pm PT  

We're off today, but we've got a BradCast 'RECOUNTED' for your listening pleasure, with two excellent recent interviews that you may have missed --- or just need to hear again. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

We'll be back LIVE soon!

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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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On a new wave of GOP voter suppression laws; Trump's second Impeachment, emoluments, and pardons...
By Desi Doyen on 1/29/2021 6:30pm PT  
NOW CELEBRATING THE BRAD BLOG'S 17th ANNIVERSARY!
WE WELCOME YOUR ANNIVERSARY SUPPORT/DONATIONS HERE!

We're off today, but we've got a BradCast 'RECOUNTED' for your listening pleasure, with two excellent interviews from the past week that you may have missed --- or just need to hear again. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

  • Then it's Brad's conversation on 1/27/2021 with Constitutional law and impeachment expert RON FEIN, Legal Director of the non-partisan government accountability group Free Speech for People, and co-author of the 2018 book, The Constitution Demands It: The Case for the Impeachment of Donald Trump. Fein delves into why the second Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump is both constitutional and crucial to ensuring accountability, not just for the 'seditious' former President but for all future Presidents.  Fein also dismantles Senate Republicans' false and disingenuous attempts to circumvent the Impeachment trial; what happens now that the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court dismissed two cases regarding Trump's alleged violation of the Constitution's Emoluments Clause; and the not-inconsequential question of secret self-pardons....

We'll be back LIVE soon!

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Guest: FairVote's David Daley; Also: Insiders aided insurrection; Biden's executive actions, move to end private prisons; Schumer wins Senate power battle, Repubs vote to nix Impeachment, cling to filibuster...
By Brad Friedman on 1/26/2021 6:53pm PT  
NOW CELEBRATING THE BRAD BLOG'S 17th ANNIVERSARY!
WE WELCOME YOUR ANNIVERSARY SUPPORT/DONATIONS HERE!

On today's BradCast: The effort by Donald Trump and Republicans to steal the Presidential election with false allegations of "voter fraud" didn't work. But that tsunami of disinformation is now being used to advance new restrictions on voting in the states as the GOP obstruction gets underway in the new Democratically-controlled U.S. Senate.

First today, there is quite a bit of news out of both the White House and the Senate. Among those stories covered today...

  • President Biden's flurry of executive orders continue, including one today that calls for an end to privately-run federal prison facilities.
  • Biden's nominee for Sec. of State, Anthony Blinken, was confirmed in the Senate. His nominee for Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, the first woman in that role, was sworn in today by the nation's first female Vice President.
  • Mitch McConnell caved in his demand that Chuck Schumer and the Democrats promise to not do away with the wildly undemocratic legislative filibuster before he would agree to a new power-sharing agreement in the nation's wildly undemocratic upper chamber of Congress
  • The historic second impeachment of Donald Trump, on charges of "Incitement of Insurrection" for the deadly, January 6th U.S. Capitol riot, formally began with Senators sworn in on Tuesday as "impartial" jurors and a vote by 45 Senate Republicans to toss out the whole matter entirely.
  • And, before this one slips completely down the memory hole...Charges filed by the Justice Department against several military veterans who took part in the attempted insurrection at the Capitol that killed five people, include allegations that dozens of the former military insurrectionists pre-planned their coordinated attack, had hoped to arrest lawmakers, and appear to have had disturbing help from at least one, still-unidentified Congressional insider who gave the seditionists real-time help during the attack to locate lawmakers who had been shuttled into secured locations below the Capitol.

Then, we're joined by DAVID DALEY Senior Fellow at FairVote and author of the books UNRIGGED: How Americans Are Battling Back to Save Democracy and RATF**KED: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy. The latter documents the GOP's ingeniously insidious --- and successful --- plan to capture electoral control of statehouses in the 2010 elections in order to gerrymander the hell out of them for the next 10 years (or more).

Daley writes this week at Boston Globe about the latest effort by GOP state legislators to exploit Trump's absurdly false claims about "voter fraud" in the 2020 election in order to implement new restrictions on voting at the state level and new ways to game the electoral college vote. Among the states we discuss where Republicans are right now citing false fraud claims in order to game the systems: Wisconsin, Michigan, New Hampshire, Georgia, Minnesota and Texas. These efforts are very real, and may well work, even in states which currently have Democratic Governors.

We also discuss the ridiculously undemocratic Senate, where Democratic Senators represent tens of millions of more voters than Republicans but, due to "the original gerrymander" as Daley describes it, are barely able to win 50 percent of the seats. "The US Senate is weighted so viciously towards small states in a way that the founders, if they saw it now, they would be truly horrified," he tells me.

"You've got a 50/50 body and yet, those 50 Democratic Senators are representing about 41.5 MILLION MORE PEOPLE.  When you add into that the small-state bias of the Electoral College, when you add into that the advantage that that bias has given Republicans in selecting Supreme Court Justices --- five of these nine Justices  on the Supreme Court selected by a President that lost the popular vote --- when you factor in the advantages that Republicans have with gerrymandering and geography --- all the way down from the US House to the state legislative level --- we are looking at an epidemic of Republican minority rule in this country."

And then there's the need to get rid of the undemocratic filibuster in the already wildly undemocratic Senate if Democrats hope, as they are now promising, to quickly accomplish "big, bold things" done. One of those "big, bold things," as we discuss, is HR-1, the "For the People Act." It's an enormously ambitious and much-needed bill that includes a ton of long-overdue reforms for voting and fair elections; ending dominance of big money and dark money in politics; and re-enforcing disclosure and ethics rules for members of Congress. But, as long as the filibuster remains in place, it will be next to impossible to see that, or any of the other much-needed reforms get through Congress. Constituents of Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona and Joe Manchin in West Virginia may wish to mention that to them. Repeatedly.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more news on major executive actions signed by the new President to roll back years of Trump damage to our environment, and to push Biden's "Buy American" initiative to, among other things, move the nation as quickly as possible to American made, all-electric cars as the days of the internal combustion engine must quickly come to an end...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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: Author and 'REDMAP' gerrymandering expert David Daley; Also: Lawyers hate Trump; Dems to boycott Barrett vote?; Federal court allows TX to reject mail-in ballots without contacting voters...
By Brad Friedman on 10/21/2020 6:56pm PT  

There's a lot to digest on today's BradCast, so I'll try to keep this teaser brief so you can just listen. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

First up, it turns out lawyers really don't like Donald Trump, even the ones he actually pays millions to work for him. In Congress, Dems vow "no more business as usual" on Amy Coney Barrett's nomination, but how much are they actually able to do about it? We may be about to find out.

And, as if it wasn't difficult enough to vote safely --- or at all --- in Texas amid the pandemic (or even before the pandemic!), still more vote suppression has just been ordered there by the radical rightwing judges on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal.

A ruling like the one they've just issued to allow mail-in ballots to be rejected based on perceived signature mismatches (as adjudicated by non-handwriting experts) without contacting voters first to allow them to cure any perceived problems, is the type of voter suppression that might have been blocked in advance by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act before it was gutted by the GOP-majority U.S. Supreme Court in 2013, in the infamous Shelby County case.

That ruling of a piece of with Karl Rove and the GOP's "Plot for Permanent Minority Rule", as expertly detailed by our guest today, author and FairVote.org Senior Fellow DAVID DALEY in his new must-read cover story for The New Republic this month. Daley unspools the full story of how the unlikely Republican voting rights hero, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), partnered with Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and voting rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) in 2006 to ensure the re-authorization of the VRA in full for 25 more years. Sensenbrenner held a dozen hearings with nearly 50 witnesses as Chair of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, in order to compile some 12,000 pages of recent, compelling evidence of racially-based voter suppression that supported the need to extend the then 40-year old landmark civil rights law.

But that was before Karl Rove's successful scheme to gain GOP control of state legislatures in 2010 after that year's Census, in order to gerrymander "democracy" within an inch of its life for the entire next decade. And it was before the Republican SCOTUS majority ignored Sensenbrenner's work on the VRA entirely --- and a bipartisan 98-0 vote in the U.S. Senate to extend the Act --- in order to gut it.

The nation has been paying a very steep price ever since. Republicans in gerrymandered districts in Congress and state legislatures no longer worry about working and compromising with Democrats. Their only concern became primary challenges from the Right. So the party moved ever farther in that direction until arriving where we are today, when the idea of fixing the now-gutted VRA has become unthinkable --- just a few short years after it was re-authorized by a Republican House, Senate and President. The scheme also allowed opportunists like Donald Trump to take advantage of the lost protections for voting rights in gerrymandered state after gerrymandered state, which continues to haunt America's hobbled democracy today.

Daley discusses how all of this came about, how --- and if --- it can be corrected, and how he was able to get so many Republicans who now regret building the "Frankenstein monster that has devoured our politics" to speak on the record about those regrets --- as regular Americans pay an unspeakable price for it all.

"This was not caused by Donald Trump. It did not start with him," Daley tells me. "The fight over the vote has been deeply entwined in this nation ever since the founding of this nation. But these battles did not start in 2016. They will not end on Election Day 2020. And there is a real, deeply embedded, [GOP] minority rule that has been built atop a system that already advantaged Republicans geographically in the U.S. Senate and the Electoral College."

"This has been baked in to our politics for a long time. It's going to take a lot of time for us to get it out. This is a Census year. This is a redistricting year. So state legislatures and the next decade of maps are on the line again," he cautions. So, please VOTE and remember to vote ALL THE WAY DOWN THE BALLOT THIS YEAR! "There are more of us than there are of them," Daley notes, "but there are more of them on the Supreme Court than us, and that's a big, big problem."

And if that sounds like a heavy show, don't worry! Mel Brooks is here at the end to help calm your anxiety --- and mine --- just a little bit...

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Guest: Univ. of KY election law Prof. Joshua A. Douglas; Also: Trump's CA wildfire emergency disaster relief roller coaster...
By Brad Friedman on 10/16/2020 5:57pm PT  

If you're feeling a bit nauseous of late, hopefully it's not COVID. But it could very well be the effects of trying to keep up with the roller coaster of federal court rulings we've been reporting on The BradCast of late. Or it could be due to trying to keep up with the President of the United States changing moods every few hours these days, as he vacillates between vindictiveness and desperation just over two weeks from Election Day. [Audio link to today's full show follows below summary.]

On Thursday, Donald Trump refused a request from the Governor of California for a Major Disaster Declaration following the spate of record wildfires we've seen in the Golden State over the past month, amid record heat and drought fueled by climate change. Some 8,500 fires this year have resulted in more than 4 million acres burned this year alone --- twice the all-time record for the state --- with nearly 2 million acres scorched in six major wildfires over just the past month. A thousands structures have been leveled and 31 people have died in recent blazes, as five of the six largest fires in California history have taken place this year.

But Trump --- who despises California because we don't vote for him --- has long threatened to cut off FEMA emergency funds to the state, dismissing climate change as a cause, citing leaves and dead trees as the reason for the massive fires and demanding better forest management in the state. That, despite the fact that the vast majority of California's forests are federal lands, which are supposed to be managed by....the Trump Administration.

White House spokespeople spent Friday morning explaining that California's request for federal aid "was not supported by the relevant data that States must provide for approval and the President concurred with the FEMA Administrator's recommendation" against it. That recommendation, however, according to Trump's former DHS Chief of Staff Miles Taylor over the summer, was ordered by a cruel and vindictive Trump himself. But by Friday afternoon, just before air time, someone must have pointed out to Trump that more of his voters live in California than in any other state in the union. Or, they just told him how bad he looked, just over two weeks from Election Day, in refusing federal aid to people who have lost everything due to no fault of their own, especially in a state which had been running a $5.6 billion budget surplus until Trump's disastrously bungled response to the coronavirus resulted in a $54 billion deficit here instead.

It's clear that Donald Trump doesn't even care about his own voters, if they live in a state that won't help him win a second term. He cares about only himself. Period. But, whatever it takes. We're happy for the late breaking news that he finally reversed his cruel idiocy moments before airtime today.

Keeping up with the roller coaster of Trump's mood swings, however, is only marginally less nauseating than keeping up with the roller coaster of recent federal court rulings on voting rights this year! As we've been reporting over the past several weeks, in state after state after state, lower courts have general found in favor of efforts by Democrats and voting rights advocates to make voting easier and safer during the pandemic, as the Trump Campaign and Republican Party have sued virtually everywhere to prevent that from happening. But time and again, well-reasoned, Constitutionally sound rulings by U.S. District Court judges have been overturned at the appellate and Supreme Court levels, often in deference to state legislatures, or simply because SCOTUS has decided its too late to change an election rule or law, even not doing so might disenfranchise tens of thousands of voters in violation of federal law and the Constitution itself.

As University of Kentucky election law professor JOSHUA A. DOUGLAS, author of Vote for US: How to Take Back Our Elections and Change the Future of Voting, asks this week in a CNN editorial, if the courts are supposed to protect the right to vote, why aren't they doing so?

Good question, which Douglas joins us to discuss on today's program. He also has some good, if troubling answersto that question, which Amy Coney Barrett will not be making any less troubling when her SCOTUS confirmation is rammed through the U.S. Senate to seat her on the High Court before Election Day.

"It is frustrating," he tells me, "because the Constitutional right to vote is supposed to be one of our most foundational precious rights, and the courts are supposed to be a check on legislative majorities that try to rig the system, rig the rule of the game to keep themselves in power. That's the whole point of judicial review in these Constitutional cases involving voting rights, and the courts are refusing to do that right now."

But Douglas has good suggestions as well, for how we can begin to correct this sickening course that has resulted, in no small part, from the packed rightwing courts which have been stripping more and more rights from voters over the past decade or so.

"Congress does have the Constitutional authority to regulate elections in a lot of ways under Article 1, Section 4 of the US Constitution, referred to as the Elections Clause," he argues, "which gives states the first right in regulating elections, but says Congress may also alter or amend those regulations." Moreover, he continues, "we have to think on a long term strategy on enshrining the Right to Vote as a textual matter in the US Constitution. Because if these judges are 'textualists', then having explicit language conferring the right to vote, which the Constitution does not currently have, is a much stronger legal argument."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, which --- speaking of Barrett --- examines the apparent climate science denialism of the Justice-in-Waiting, as revealed during her Senate confirmation hearings this week. And, just before we finish up today, the breaking news that the U.S. Supreme Court will be deciding whether Trump may violate the Constitution by excluding undocumented immigrants from Congressional apportionment following this year's decennial U.S. Census...

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Guest: Constitutional attorney Thomas Wolf of Brennan Center's Democracy Program; Also: America STRONGLY against Trump school reopening plan during COVID surge; And, Kris Kobach for Senate!
By Brad Friedman on 7/22/2020 7:00pm PT  

On today's BradCast: the COVID crisis continues to get worse, Americans wise up on reopening schools, potential hope for Kansas, and Donald Trump becomes a laughing stock. Again. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Last week, during his rambling, wildly political Rose Garden "press conference" (it was really a political rally), Trump promised that over the next eight weeks, we would be seeing "things that nobody has even contemplated, thought about, thought possible," and that "nobody's ever going to see eight weeks like we're going to have." While, I think it was meant as a rallying cry for a bunch of initiatives he plans to pretend to invoke during desperate days in advance of the November election, it sure sounded like a threat to me. Either way, we suspect he's right about what we will see. He suggested he would be "taking on immigration, taking on education" and that it all would start "some time on Tuesday."

On Tuesday, Trump unveiled something that had to do with immigration, which we discuss with our guest today (see below). As to "taking on education", that part remains somewhat less clear. But if it has to do with insisting that school kids go back to in-person classes next month in the middle of a deadly and worsening pandemic, the American people are decidedly not with him on that one. A new poll out today from AP/NORC finds that just 8% of Americans believe K-12 schools should reopen this Fall for normal, in-person instruction. Nonetheless, Trump is still threatening to take away federal money for special ed to those schools who do not obey his command.

That command is still in place --- and being ignored by most of the nation's largest school districts --- as more than 1,000 Americans died from COVID-related illnesses on Tuesday alone. It was the first time since May that that has happened, as mountains of evidence --- including 59,000 hospitalizations on Tuesday --- underscore, yet again, that the U.S. is headed in decidedly the wrong direction in dealing with the crisis. These will be a very difficult eight weeks indeed. There are fifteen weeks until the November 3rd Presidential election.

And, speaking of elections, state primaries are still ongoing, with statewide contests in Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washingtonstate coming up on August 4th. We take some time to focus on Kansas today, where notoriously failed GOP "voter fraud" fraudster and the state's former Sec. of State Kris Kobach is running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, in hopes of filling the seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Pat Roberts. It has been an embarrassing few days for Kobach, after his friend Rep. Steve Watkins was indicted last week on 3 felony counts and 1 misdemeanor charge related to voter fraud. As we reported last week, Watkins was charged for doing precisely what Donald Trump did. He unlawfully registered to vote at an address where he did not live, and then he unlawfully voted in an election using that unlawful address. Watkins has been indicted in Kansas. Trump is still a Florida voter fraud criminal at large at this hour.

Kobach, who built his entire two-term career as Sec. of State by promising to stamp out rampant "voter fraud" in Kansas by Democrats and non-citizens, was able to bring only 15 prosecutions during his eight years in office, obtaining convictions on fewer than 10 of them, with nobody receiving any jail time. Virtually all of the convictions were against people who voted twice in two separate states, because they owned homes in both, with many not realizing that was against the law. Nonetheless, Kobach prosecuted people who did the same thing that Watkins (and Trump) did. But, when asked by the Kansas City Star for comment after Watkins' indictment, Kobach offered a bizarre reason why he disagreed with the charges.

All of which helps underscore the fact that the fraud Kobach --- after losing to a Democrat during his 2018 run for Governor in Kansas --- is now hoping to secure the GOP nomination for the Senate. He is running in a field of 11 candidates seeking the honor and we completely endorse him! So, apparently, does his presumptive Democratic challenger, Barbara Bollier, who, in the second quarter of this year, according to AP, "raised almost $1.3 million more than the top-tier Republican primary candidates combined."

Could a Democrat actually flip the Kansas Senate seat from "red" to "blue" this year for the first time since 1932? Bollier was a moderate Republican until she became so embarrassed by Trump and her own party that she became a Democrat at the end of 2018. We'll will find out in about 15 weeks. But a Kobach win in the August 4th primary would certainly help, as Kobach is far "too conservative" for Kansas.

Finally, back to Trump's promise to "take on immigration" on Tuesday, when he unveiled an Executive Memorandum (not an Executive Order, but a memo...not sure if he knows the difference), declaring it to be the position of the United States that immigrants in this country should not be counted when determining the next Congressional apportionment that is to occur after the completion of the 2020 Census. That, despite the very plain language of the 14th Amendment which reads: "Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state".

We're joined today by Constitutional law expert THOMAS WOLF of Brennan Center's Democracy Program, where he specializes in the Census, redistricting, and immigrant rights. He tells me, quite bluntly, that "the memorandum [issued by Trump] is not worth the paper its printed on. The Constitution's plain text is very clear: every person counts. 'Persons' means persons and 'persons' means everyone. That means that everyone is to be counted."

Even Bill Barr, when he was Attorney General the first time, back in 1989, agreed!

"The memorandum that President Trump issued yesterday," Wolf continues, "assumes that President Trump has the power to decide who counts and who doesn't. Unfortunately for him, but fortunately for the rest of the country, the Constitution has already made that decision for him, and the Constitution decided that all people count."

In case he was unclear about that, Wolf adds later: "From the top, there is no legitimacy to this order." But, if so, what was the point of Trump issuing the memo that obviously tries to reverse the 14th Amendment adopted during Reconstruction to do away with the Constitution's previous clause declaring that some people in America --- slaves --- were to be counted by the Constitutionally-mandated decennial Census as three-fifths of a person? Wolf offers insight and answers to that question, as well as how to help counter Trump's plan which, as he notes, "is so patently unconstitutional, it's astonishing."

(Hint: One of the ways to counter it, argues Wolf, is to "Get counted! That's how we push back against this." If your household has yet to do so, please go and fill out a Census form today at 2020Census.gov!)

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Guest: FairVote's David Daley; Also: Trump pretends to be 'furious' at Twitter. He isn't. But he is hoping to distract you (and the media)...
By Brad Friedman on 5/27/2020 6:27pm PT  

Desi Doyen is on the money at the end of today's BradCast when she cites a Twitter user who recently asserted: "The GOP has become a virus: it now exists solely to replicate itself." If you've yet to notice, the 160 days between now and the critical 2020 Presidential election will be about little more for Republicans than a desperate attempt to suppress certain voters; to game the results of those who do manage to vote; and, of course, to do anything possible to distract from the fact that more than 100,000 Americans have now tragically died on Trump's watch over just the past 3 months, tanking the economy in the bargain, thanks to his disastrously failed response to the coronavirus. We discuss all of those things on today's program. [Audio link to the full show is posted below.]

First, Trump today is pretending to be furious about the fact that Twitter placed a very polite "Get the facts about mail-ballots" link under two of his misleading tweets on Tuesday about absentee voting fraud. He is feigning outrage, claiming the company is biased against Republicans and that he has the power to shut them down. The RNC and Trump's campaign, of course, are all playing along with the phony fury, because they love playing both victim and strongman at the same time, and because it all helps distract the media from his ongoing unspeakable failures as President.

In fact, not only did Twitter do him a favor by placing those links on his tweets, helping to bring attention to his disinformation (which can also been seen as instructions for his followers on how to defraud the November election), but the company didn't even bother to label his most offensive recent tweets, such as the ones in which he accused MSNBC's Joe Scarborough of murdering a staffer who tragically died in the then-Florida Republican Congressman's office in 2001.

At the same time, Facebook is allowing the Trump Campaign to run hundreds of paid, false political ads making the same misleading claims, as that social media company simply allows false paid-for propaganda ads from politicians, even if they are meant only to disinform, distract and undermine the 2020 election itself.

It should also be noted anytime any media outlet reports on Trump's false claims about absentee voter fraud, that he is a voter fraud criminal himself, after voting by absentee in Florida where he has no legal permanent residence, in violation of state law.

As to voter suppression and Florida, we reported yesterday on the excellent ruling by a federal judge who gutted the GOP state legislature's new poll tax law over the weekend. The measure was enacted to undermine a Constitutional Amendment adopted by state voters in a 2018 mid-term landslide. Despite the enormous bipartisan voter support for Amendment 4, which could allow some 1.5 million former felons to vote in the Sunshine State for the first time, Gov. Ron DeSantis (who barely won his election that same year) has now announced plans to appeal the court's ruling that gutted the poll tax passed by Republicans in hopes of countering Amendment 4.

Florida, however, is hardly the only state in the union with GOP-controlled legislatures attempting to undermine recent bipartisan ballot box landslides. In Missouri, on the heels of the adoption of a landmark state Constitutional Amendment in 2018 meant to end extreme partisan gerrymandering in the Show-Me State, the gerrymandered GOP state legislature is rolling out what our guest today describes as REDMAP 2.0.

We're joined by FairVote senior fellow DAVID DALEY who, literally, wrote the book on the GOP's successful plan to take control of state legislatures in 2010 to implement crippling partisan gerrymanders during redistricting after that year's decennial Census. Now, as Daley detailed in a recent New York Times op-ed, MO Republicans are rolling out an even more invidious scheme to undermine the voters' intent with another Constitutional amendment on this November's ballot.

He describes the plot --- which includes an unprecedented plan to count only voting age citizens during redistricting --- as a "dress rehearsal" for GOP-controlled states in the rest of the country. The plan, which would "dramatically" shift voting power from Democratic-leaning urban areas to white, Republican-leaning rural areas, is being adopted for nationwide roll-out by the rightwing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), he reports.

"It changes the definition of representation and it overwhelmingly tilts this in the direction of conservatives and Republicans," he tells me. "Total population has been the guiding standard that everybody has used for a long time. If you were to change this to say that the baseline that we're going to count is not everybody, but only citizens who are over the age of 18, then what you are doing is eliminating huge numbers of people. You are curating and manicuring an electorate that is older, more rural, more conservative, and of course, whiter."

As Dems are finally trying to win the last battle by rolling back what happened in 2010 a decade later, Daley argues they need to get ready --- immediately --- to figure out how to counter the GOP's newest ugly war on this front.

"I don't think Democrats are paying enough attention to this," he says. "This is a Presidential election year. Democrats are thinking about the White House, about the Senate, about holding on to the House. But there's so much more at risk in this election. This is the last election before these maps are going to be drawn for another decade. ... The Republicans are going to have a 2020 'REDMAP 2.0' plan, and if Democrats are not equally focused on playing offense and defense, they are going to get check-mated."

We also discuss Daley's newly published book, UNRIGGED: How Americans Are Battling Back to Save Democracy', documenting recent, critical (and successful!) citizen-led efforts to restore democracy across the nation...

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Guest: Alexander Sammon of The American Prospect; Also: Some much brighter news about voting in Virginia...and even Pennsylvania!
By Brad Friedman on 4/15/2020 5:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The U.S. and world economies continue to collapse amid ridiculous happy talk largely from the President and his GOP pals, as the suffering of millions of Americans grows amid the coronavirus pandemic and, incredibly enough, millions of tons of fresh food being destroyed by farmers and other food producers. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Why are farmers and dairy producers doing that? The American Prospect's ALEXANDER SAMMON joins us today to explain how "Coronavirus has Broken America's Food Supply", and how, amazingly enough, the federal government (including the President who pretends to love farmers...especially in swing states) appears to be doing absolutely nothing about about a collapsing supply chain.

To be fair, neither party seems to be loudly pressing for action here, according to Sammon. But, as we discuss, this is a problem that could pretty easily be solved by the federal government. American families are running out of money as workers are being laid off. The Government is sending them a paltry $1,200 check (which may be delayed for many, because Trump is insisting on his name appearing on the checks), which many are likely to use to buy food. At the same time, food and milk created for commercial use in sectors which have collapsed (restaraunts, hotels, schools) is being destroyed. The Government could be buying that food (delivering much-needed relief to struggling farmers and food producers) and use the storied logistics skills of the U.S. Military to help deliver it to people in desperate need all over the country and around the world.

"It's one of those things where we've seen the President basically almost allergic to using federal authority, the national authority that is at his disposal to make these things right," Sammon explains. "Here is something he could do, well within the capacity of the federal government and the military, but there's been no indication they're going to pursue that. I think that's a pretty astounding political failure, at a very basic level."

Sammon goes on to describe the worsening conditions for food producers and the laborers in the industry who are becoming sick at an alarming rate, as "a very troubling sign for farmers and the food supply chain going forward."

"There's going to be a lot of farmers entering in to bankruptcy," he tells me. "The jolt to the system is not going to be immediate. But a year from now we could be looking at diminished supply at a pretty significant level. That could result in much higher prices. If we're emerging from a global recession, where we're talking about forecasts of 30% unemployment, potentially, at some point later in the year, the notion of having escalating food prices is certainly not something that's going to take the edge off of that."

Despite that grim news and the horrific economic numbers released on Wednesday regarding retail sales --- (yes, CONSUMERS, as it turns out, are the backbone of the nation's economy...They are the job creators, not the parasitic corporations and executives who pretend to be) --- we've got some more good news today for those who can't wait to vote this November. It'll much easier --- and safer --- to do that in Virginia this year, thanks to a series of important election reforms signed into law over the weekend by the state's Democratic Governor. Among the many long-overdue reforms: No-excuse absentee voting; Automatic voter registration at the DMV; Repeal of Photo ID voting restrictions; Expanded early and Election Day voting hours; and Election Day will now be a state holiday, while the Lee-Jackson Day holiday, celebrating Confederate Generals who attacked the U.S., will no longer be celebrated.

All of those reforms come thanks to the Democratic majorities won for the first time in years in both the Commonwealth's Senate and House last year. And that is thanks, in no small part, to the court-ordered UNgerrymandering of Virginia last year.

But that's not all the good news about upcoming elections today. The Republican National Committee, according to mailers they paid for and sent out to Republican voters in Pennsylvania, has declared that absentee voting is "easy, convenient and secure"! Yes, the word "secure" was made bold on the "Official Republican Party Mail-in Ballot Application" sent out to voters in the Keystone State this week.

So, apparently, we can all happily ignore the President and other high-profile Republicans around the country who claim that Vote-by-Mail is a vector for fraud. Their own party, it seems, has just made liars of them! (Though that's not particularly difficult to do these days.)

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Guest: Election and criminal justice expert Daniel Nichanian; Also: House schedules new impeachment hearing as Trump appeals federal ruling finding 'Presidents are not kings'...
By Brad Friedman on 11/26/2019 6:44pm PT  

At the BRAD BLOG and on today's BradCast, we'll even fight for Donald Trump's right to vote --- even from prison, should he find himself there at any time in the near-ish future. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, a bit of impeachment-related news, even as Congress is on recess for the Thanksgiving holiday. The House Judiciary Committee (as opposed to the House Intelligence Committee) has announced a new impeachment hearing for next Wednesday. Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler sent a letter to the President on Tuesday, inviting him and his counsel to attend and potentially question witnesses in the hearing titled Titled "The Impeachment Inquiry into President Donald J. Trump: Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment." Along with his invitation, Nadler also offered a warning about the White House's continued refusal to make witnesses and documents available to the Constitutional proceedings in the U.S. House.

In related news, Trump's Dept. of Justice on Tuesday filed for a stay to a blistering federal court ruling ordering that former White House Counsel Don McGahn appear for scheduled testimony in response to a lawful Congressional subpoena regarding the House's examination of the Robert Mueller investigation. McGahn played a key role in the probe, helping to detail Trump's multiple attempts to obstruct the Special Counsel's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and Team Trump's cooperation with the effort.

The DoJ is now seeking a pause pending an appeal to U.S. District Judge Ketanji Jackson Brown's scathing 121-page ruling [PDF] issued on Monday, in which she eviscerated the DoJ argument that Presidents and their current and former White House officials enjoy "absolute immunity" from Constitutionally-mandated Congressional oversight. "Stated simply," the Judge wrote, "the primary takeaway from the past 250 years of recorded American history is that Presidents are not kings."

Trump, however, appears to feel otherwise. In addition to appealing the order, Trump tweeted today that "The D.C. Wolves and Fake News Media are reading far too much into people being forced by Courts to testify before Congress," adding that while he "would love" to have top Executive Branch officials like Sec. of State Mike Pompeo, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Advisor John Bolton testify in impeachment hearings in the Ukraine bribery affair, he is only "fighting for future Presidents and the Office of the President. Other than that, I would actually like people to testify."

But whether Trump wins his "absolute immunity" defense while President, it is unlikely to help him once he is out of office. To that end, yes, we'd hate to see him lose his right to vote if he ever should find himself imprisoned for any of his countless crimes. In the meantime, however, there are millions in prison who have already lost that right --- a right, not a privilege, even if many treat it that way --- while behind bars. There has been some noteworthy successful (and even bi-partisan in some cases) efforts of late in a number of states to help enfranchise former felons or those out of jail on probation or parole though state constitutional amendments, legislation or executive actions. But when it comes to the right to vote for those still in prison, the debate has been slower and more contentious. Currently, only Maine and Vermont allow prisoners to vote, a policy which Vermont's U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders strongly defended during a CNN Presidential Candidate Town Hall earlier this year.

At the same time, as our guest today, DANIEL NICHANIAN, Editor of The Appeal Political Report (better known as @Taniel on Twitter) points out, lawmakers in eight states and D.C. have filed legislation this year to allow people behind bars to exercise the right to vote. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) has done the same at the federal level.

After a Republican New York state Assemblyman recently described a state Senate bill there that would enfranchise convicts as "insulting [to] members of law enforcement and the criminal justice system who worked diligently to get these dangerous predators off the street," Nichanian reached out to prosecutors, correctional facility officers and elected officials in Maine and Vermont to see if they agreed. You'll be surprised to learn that not one of them did, with almost all either finding it to be no problem or, more frequently, lauding the connection to "the real world" that voting allows imprisoned citizens as they pay their debt to society.

Nichanian, a Senior Fellow at the Justice Collaborative and expert on criminal justice reform and mass incarceration, shares insight from the officials he spoke with, and explains why reform on this issue (which disproportionately affects minorities) --- and a number of related topics --- is long overdue.

"We are not treating the right to vote as an inalienable, fundamental right of U.S. democracy, as a right that every citizen should have, and have protected," he tells me, explaining why "ending felony disenfranchisement would also mean that law enforcement professionals are no longer the arbiters of who gets to exercise democratic rights."

Nichanian notes that "the way in which we talk about people who are incarcerated, it would seem like we forget that these people have families, they have kids who go to school, and the school board elections matter to them. They have families who also need to care about their elected officials."

"There's all sorts of arguments of whether people are worthy of voting or not, whether people have shown enough civic capacity to vote or not," he argues. "And I find all of that universe of questions to be questionable, because we are claiming for ourselves the power and authority to decide whether our fellow citizens should have the same rights as us. I find that to be a problematic question. And I think that's just the bottom line: whether we want the right to vote to be a protected right for all U.S. citizens."

He says that "we are definitely seeing the criminal justice reform conversation encompass these issues of rights restoration, as a tool of re-entry, as a tool of thinking about how people remain human, as a way of thinking about economic justice and racial justice throughout the process." But whether that, theoretically bipartisan effort will ultimately become a fight for re-enfranchising felons remains to be seen.

We also discuss how the imprisoned population is used in the fight over apportionment, with the incarcerated counted in the census and for redistricting purposes, even while that huge chunk of the population is disallowed from exercising any real political power through the vote. "The time to address it is literally now, because the next round of redistricting and map-drawing is coming up. If this is going to be reformed, it has to be in the next couple of years, or else we'll have ten more years of problems on this."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us today for our latest Green News Report as "climate emergency" is named "Word of the Year" by the Oxford Dictionary and, unfortunately, for very good reason...

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Guest: VA Delegate Mark Levine on Dems' new, long-awaited 'trifecta'; Also: Brand new touchscreen voting systems failed in GA and PA, while Dems saw a number of big wins in VA and probably KY...
By Brad Friedman on 11/6/2019 6:35pm PT  

On today's BradCast: There was much for Democrats to be delighted about in Tuesday's off-year elections around the country, though plenty for them to be remain very concerned about, including the failure of brand new voting system in several key battleground states. (Not to mention new charges of election fraud filed against Republicans in Ohio.) [Audio link to show follows below.]

We pick up today where we left off on yesterday's program, regarding disturbing voting disasters in several states, as nearly two-decade old touchscreen voting systems failed in Indiana, including flipping votes for at least the fifth year in a row, while brand-new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems being deployed in Pennsylvania and Georgia failed fantastically in several counties. Some voters were left unable to vote at all or facing long lines --- even during otherwise sparsely attended off-year municipal elections! Some candidates were left off of the electronic ballots all together and others found themselves with reportedly ZERO votes recorded on the all-new, way-better-than-the-old unverifiable touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) tested in both PA and GA before wide deployment for the critical 2020 Presidential election.

In GA, voters were unable to vote in 4 of 6 counties where the new $100 million Dominion Voting Systems ImageCast machines were test run in municipal elections, before they are deployed statewide to 7.5 million voters next year. The electronic pollbook systems that creates voter cards that must be inserted into the touchscreens weren't working properly on Election Day in those 4 counties, after they had worked fine during pre-election tests and early voting.

In the critical battleground state of PA, there were all kinds of problems with the new ES&S ExpressVote XL systems deployed for the first time to Northampton County (where the systems were said to be operating incredibly slowly and results were reported as 0 for some candidates, as later confirmed by the County) and in Philadelphia, where candidate names were missing and many of the machines reportedly refused to work at all. (But this will all be fine by 2020, right?)

As to actual reported results from key contests on Tuesday, we break down a disappointing, if not completely surprising gubernatorial loss for Dems in Mississippi, a big apparent win for Kentucky Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andy Beshear and the challenge to that still-unofficial victory by the state's unpopular Governor Matt Bevin, and then the unequivocal success for Dems in the great Commonwealth of Virginia. There, a blue wave resulted in new Democratic majorities in both the House of Delegates and state Senate. The long-awaited victories, along with a Democrat already in the Governor's mansion, mean that Dems will enjoy a "trifecta" in Virginia for the first time in nearly 25 years.

We're joined today by DELEGATE MARK LEVINE, representing Virginia's 45th District (including parts of Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax County) in the House of Delegates. Levine, who ran uncontested for his third term on Tuesday, credits Trump, almost entirely for the rise of the Democratic Party in the once deeply-red state. "I like to say the only good thing Donald Trump has ever done in his life is help us win state legislative seats," he says, describing the President as "the gift that keeps on giving". He "fed our fire," he argues, adding that he believes the ongoing impeachment proceedings helped, rather than hurt, turnout for Democrats in the Commonwealth just outside of Washington D.C

We also discuss the effect that recently court-ordered un-gerrymandered maps had on flipping the two General Assembly chambers from red to blue on Tuesday, as well as the role the state's recent switch from hackable and unverifiable touchscreen voting systems to hand-marked paper ballots may have had, and whether Democrats will continue to support a state constitutional amendment for an independent redistricting commission now that they will be in control of both the Assembly and the Governor's mansion after the 2020 Census.

Levine, the longtime progressive radio host of "The Inside Scoop from Washington", breaks down a litany of long overdue policy agendas Democrats plan to undertake with their newly won majorities, including becoming the final state needed to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (though legal battles await after their passage of the ERA).

"We're going to lead the way on gun safety laws. We're going to finally do something about climate change, which the Republicans have been fighting us on for decades. We're going to raise the minimum wage. We're going to do criminal justice reform. We're going to have non-discrimination for LGBT Virginians. We're going to improve education and teacher salaries, and workers' rights, consumers' rights, lower the cost of health care --- I'm really just getting started," he says, before explaining that "Democrats are unanimous" when it comes to expanding voting rights as well, including making it easier to vote with early voting, same-day registration and more.

"We're going to get past the Joe Biden wing of the party and into the Elizabeth Warren wing of the party," he vows. "Maybe some things on the further-most progressive edge, we might not have the votes for. But we're going to do a lot to change Virginia in a very blue direction"...

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Guest: Politico's Alice Ollstein; Also: Repubs suppressing the 2020 student vote, Dems push-back in TX; Katie Hill's final floor speech...
By Brad Friedman on 11/1/2019 6:31pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Progressive 2020 Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren finally releases her detailed proposal explaining how she plans to pay for "Medicare for All" with "not one penny in middle-class tax increases" and Democrats begin their push-back against a coordinated national GOP effort to curb surging turnout by young voters who, for some reason, tend to lean strongly Democratic when they are allowed to vote. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up, we're joined by longtime health care reporter ALICE OLLSTEIN of Politico to break down the pay-fors and the politics of Warren's newly introduced details on how she hopes to fund her $52 trillion single-payer Medical for All plan without raising taxes on the middle class. Warren, in a 9,300-word Medium post on Friday, explained that "Medicare for All is about the same price as our current path --- and cheaper over time." The difference with our current path and her plan, she says, is that her plan covers everyone and even includes new benefits for dental, vision and long-term care, without spending more money than Americans pay overall right now for care that is twice as expensive as the rest of the developed world, but with worse outcomes.

Where fellow progressive Bernie Sanders has emphasized that middle class taxes would necessary increase under his version of Medicare for All while overall costs to Americans would be lower (thanks to no more monthly premiums, co-pays, deductibles, etc.), and where more centrist 2020 Dems like Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris have argued that it would be impossible to find the trillions needed for such universal single-payer plans, Warren laid out her proposal for covering everyone with better care, doctors of their choice, and no increases in taxes on the middle class. The burden as she describes will fall largely on corporations and the top 1% of taxpayers.

"It's interesting that there's been so much focus and pressure on her to produce a plan to pay for a plan that she didn't write --- it's Bernie's plan. But she has embraced it, and since she has made her personal brand being the woman with a plan for everything, it makes sense why she was pressed on this, and why she felt that she had to put something serious out there," Ollstein tells me.

Warren's plan, as Ollstein reports, even offers incentives for business to unionize in order to save money for both workers and companies, while companies are required to pay no more for health care than they already do. Effectively, argues Ollstein, Warren's expansive proposal is effectively "trying to flip the tables" back on her opponents to demonstrate how either she is wrong about her plan, or how their own plans might offer better coverage to all for less money.

Her Democratic competition, however, are not the only ones currently gunning for both her as she continues to rise in the polls, and the others seeking to improve our woeful health care system. "The medical providers have been mobilizing all year long, not just against Medicare For All but for all of the more incremental reforms, as well. They do not want to take a haircut on any of this. And this would be far more than a haircut. This would be a very deep cut."

The debate over Warren's extraordinary ambitious proposal, however, and those of other Democratic candidates, will continue for some time, even if one of them is elected. "What ends up getting actually debated and passed will not look like what we're talking about now," Ollstein predicts. "How close it looks like to what we're talking about will depend on who turns out to vote in 2020, and who sits in those seats in the House and Senate. Because, man, elections matter."

Yes, they do. And Republicans know it. And the GOP effort to prevent Warren or any other Dem who wants to improve health care for Americans from taking ofice is already well under way in a number of battleground states, including Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Florida, North Carolina and Texas, where Republican lawmakers have been instituting particularly insidious measures to make it much harder for young voters, in particular, to cast a vote at all next year. We detail some of those anti-democratic and anti-Democratic measures today, along with some of the first of the push-back from Dems, who filed suit this week against a recently adopted Texas law that effectively shuts down voting all together on many college campuses. That, as voters in Texas and a number of other states, including Virginia, head to the polls for important elections this coming Tuesday.

In related breaking news as well today, Democratic 2020 candidate Beto O'Rourke of Texas announced that he would be dropping out of the Presidential nominating contest.

Finally, freshman Democratic Congresswoman Katie Hill of California offered her final U.S. House floor speech on Thursday, following the vote on rules for the process of impeachment of Donald J. Trump. Her remarks come after announcing her abrupt and surprise resignation last weekend in the wake of an ugly divorce battle, an ethics investigation regarding an affair with a staffer (which she denies), and nude photos of her being published by rightwing websites. She suggests those photos were given to her opponents by her "abusive" husband. In her fiery final floor remarks, Hill excoriates what she describes as a double-standard for women who are victimized by revenge porn, even as men who are credibly accused of sexual assault and violence, like the President of the United States (and two U.S. Supreme Court Justices) remain happily in office...

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Guest: Former Asst. U.S. Attorney Randall Eliason; Also: Army officer was so alarmed by Trump's Ukraine scheme he alerted NSC lawyers; NC court orders ungerrymandered U.S. House maps for 2020!...
By Brad Friedman on 10/29/2019 6:17pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We're at the point in the ongoing impeachment inquiry of Donald J. Trump when the facts against him have become so damning that he and his supporters in Congress are pretty much just tossing everything they can against the wall to see what, if anything sticks. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first today, some long-overdue very good news out of North Carolina, where a three-judge state court panel has determined the state's Republican-drawn Congressional maps to be an "extreme partisan gerrymander" and has ordered new maps before the 2020 elections. The court went so far as to state that no more Congressional elections may be run on the current maps, and if new ones aren't drawn in time for next year's March 3 primary election, the judges --- two Democrats and a Republican --- will postpone the primaries until they do.

The news is long-overdue, though hardly a surprise. North Carolina is the most divided of swing states, but the GOP-skewed maps have resulted in 3 Democrats and 10 Republicans in the state's Congressional delegation for the past decade. A federal appeals court already ruled the same map to be an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander and ordered a new one drawn. But that ruling was ultimately over-ruled by the stolen Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year, when they declared in a 5 to 4 opinion that federal courts may not hear partisan gerrymandering cases. Only state courts may now do so, and now North Carolina's state court has done so. The same court ruled last month that the state's legislative districts were also drawn in violation of the state constitution and ordered new maps there as well.

Meanwhile, speaking of Congress, a White House national security official and decorated Iraq War vet offered startling testimony to House impeachment investigators on Tuesday, regarding Trump's scheme to withhold nearly $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine unless the nation's President promised to investigate Joe Biden in advance of the 2020 election. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman serves as the top Ukraine expert on the White House's National Security Council (NSC) and is the first official to testify in the impeachment matter who actually listened live to Trump's infamous July 25 "I need a favor though" phone call with Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelensky.

According to Vindman's prepared opening statement obtained by the New York Times, the veteran Army officer and longtime civil servant was so alarmed by Trump's strong-arm tactics and withholding of military aid that, out of a "sense of duty", he alerted the top lawyer at the NSC --- twice --- in order to register internal objections about the policy, which he feared would "undermine national security."

"I am a patriot,” Vindman says in his testimony, "and it is my sacred duty and honor to advance and defend our country irrespective of party or politics." Since news of his testimony broke on Monday night, rightwing media have been attacking the Purple Heart winner who was wounded by an IED in Iraq, as a traitor who must be working for Joe Biden or George Soros or Ukraine, after he fled the then Soviet-controlled country as a 3-year old with his parents in 1979.

Next, were joined by former Asst. U.S. Attorney turned George Washington University Law School professor RANDALL ELIASON to discuss the Republicans' continuing, nonsensical whining that the impeachment inquiry lacks "due process" for the President. Though each of their arguments toward that end have been dismantled by both facts and federal courts in recent days, they are still making the case which Eliason describes as "nonsense" in his latest Washington Post op-ed.

He explains why on today's program, noting the old "saying in Washington, that if you're arguing about process then you're losing," adding: "I think that's certainly the case here." Eliason, a longtime expert in white collar crime, government fraud and federal criminal law, responds to a number of different allegations being offered by Trump and his defenders, including the specious claim that there is no crime at the heart of Trump's quid pro quo pressure campaign against Ukraine.

He also offers his thoughts on the recent news --- and "incredibly suspicious" timing behind it --- that Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr has elevated the Dept. of Justice's probe into the origins of the 2016 investigation into Russian election meddling into a criminal investigation of some sort.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on California's wind-drive wildfires, Massachusetts' new climate fraud lawsuit against Exxon Mobil, and Trump's new plan to steal Syria's oil in violation of international law. Also, as we close, late news and a few thoughts on the nation's largest private coal company, Murray Energy, declaring bankruptcy protection today. So much for Trump's promise to save the dirty coal industry. Now, what about the company's long-serving coal miners who may very well lose their pensions and health care under Trump-supporter Robert Murray's scheme to restructure his dying company?...

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Guest: Dr. William 'DocDawg' Busa on that and two U.S. House Special Elections in NC as Dorian closes in; Also: TX shooting highlights 'gun show loophole'; Trump creates fake map to mask his AL hurricane lie...
By Brad Friedman on 9/4/2019 5:59pm PT  

On today's BradCast, w've got some very good news for democracy, for a change, today --- and it comes out of North Carolina of all places! But first, a few quick updates on some others stories we've been following recently on the program. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

  • Hurricane Dorian is weaker but larger after devastating parts of The Bahamas. The now-Category 2 storms is moving incredibly slowly northward, perilously close to the Florida Coast, and on a more direct path that could include landfalls in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and even Virginia. Massive storm surges and power outages are predicted for many of those states in the days ahead;
  • Following two recent mass shootings in Texas, one at a Walmart store in El Paso where 22 were killed by a white nationalist, the superstore chain announced a change to its policies on gun and ammo sales and is asking shoppers to no longer open carry weapons in their stores. Grocery giant Kroger has also now asked customers to leave their guns at home. In response, the terrorist-enabling NRA shot a letter to Walmart describing their new policy as "shameful".

    That, as law enforcement officials confirm that the gunman who killed 7 and injured more than 20 during a Labor Day holiday weekend shooting rampage in Odessa and Midland, TX had failed a federal background check for purchasing a firearm before buying his semi-automatic assault-style rifle through a private sale with no required no background check. The so-called "gun show loophole" in the federal background check law allows for private sales between friends and families, on a number of online forums, and via some vendors at gun shows. Such sales amount to an estimated 25% to 40% of all guns sales in the U.S., but NRA-controlled Republicans in Congress have refused for years to allow an up or down vote on measures that would close the loophole, despite overwhelming public support, including from members of the NRA;

  • Then, we get to the huge news out of the North Carolina Superior Court, where a three-judge panel (2 Dems and 1 Republican) unanimously ordered the GOP-dominated state legislature to redraw its state House and Senate maps before the 2020 elections. The court found the current maps to be partisan gerrymanders in violation of the state Constitution's Free Elections Clause, Equal Protection Clause, and Free Speech and Free Assembly Clauses. The current maps, as allowed for use in 2018 after the U.S. Supreme Court declared in early summer that federal courts may not block partisan gerrymandering, were themselves newly drawn after the ones created by state Republicans following the 2010 Census were found to have been racially gerrymandered in violation of the U.S. Constitution. The existing state legislative maps resulted in a 65 - 55 seat majority for the GOP in the state House, even after 2018's "Blue Wave" election when Democrats received 51% of the votes statewide to the GOP's 49%. The state Senate is similarly gerrymandered in favor of Republicans, as is NC's U.S. House map in the closely divided state where Democrats have held just 3 seats in the state's 13-seat Congressional delegation over the past decade.

    We're joined today once again by NC election expert and campaign consultant DR. WILLIAM BUSA of EQV Analytics, who is perhaps better known as "DocDawg" at Daily Kos. Busa breaks down what Tuesday's 357-page ruling [PDF] means for NC voters, describing "a court that clearly has had it up to here with the GOP's ten years of obstruction of justice in this matter."

    He believes the new maps will help "level the playing field" and possibility result in long-overdue Democratic majorities in one or even both chambers of the state legislature next year, though he details a potential GOP scheme to undermine the court's ruling that might explain the decision by Republicans to not appeal Tuesday's landmark order. "We won the vote" last year, he notes, "we just didn't win the map. If we win the map, we can win the vote again, and we'll have the whole shooting match."

    All of this is happening as two U.S. House Special Elections are currently underway in the state, with Election Day set for Tuesday (September 10) as the slow-moving Hurricane Dorian is creeping toward the state. One of the House elections will fill the seat vacated by the late Republican Rep. Walter Jones in NC's 3rd Congressional district which runs the entirety of the state's now-imperiled coastline. The other election, in NC's 9th district, is the long-awaited do-over election following the GOP Absentee Ballot Fraud Scandal last November which resulted in the State Board of Elections refusing to certify an extremely narrow reported "win" by the Republican candidate.

    What effect will the impending storm and all of these various controversies have on Tuesday's election --- if it is not postponed due to Dorian? Busa explains it all for us on today's action-packed program!

  • And finally, speaking of bad maps, we close today with the story of the somewhat mind-boggling and continuing attempts by Donald Trump to justify his false --- and potential unlawful --- repeated claims that Dorian was threatening the state of Alabama. It wasn't and isn't. But that hasn't stopped Trump from both lying about it repeatedly and today, incredibly, producing a clearly doctored map in the White House in hopes of supporting his obviously false claims...

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