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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, May 24, 2019
'Green News Report' 5/23/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Beleaguered Midwest walloped by tornadoes, floods; Study sees coastal cities inundated by century's end; LA's plan to retreat from rising seas; PLUS: Trump EPA good news and bad...
Previous GNRs: 5/21/19 - 5/16/19 - Archives...
Baltimore BOE Crippled by Ransomware Attack; 'Crapshow' Worsens in D.C.: 'BradCast' 5/22/19
Guest: Eric Boehlert on Barr, impeachment, why 'no one will break glass on the alarm'...
'Our Subpoenas Are Not Optional' (Even If Impeachment Clearly Is): 'BradCast' 5/21/19
Also: More GOP Absentee Ballot Election Fraud, this time in Florida....
'Green News Report' 5/21/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
More extreme weather for Midwest; Another coal co. goes bankrupt; BP, Shell lobby for a carbon tax (with a catch!); PLUS: Inslee and Warren unveil comprehensive climate plans...
Previous GNRs: 5/16/19 - 5/14/19 - Archives...
GOP's Amash Declares Trump 'Impeachable'; Gerrymanders Allowed Radical Abortion Bills: 'BradCast' 5/20/19
Guest: FairVote's Dave Daley: Also: Tornado swarms amid climate crisis; Ford to fire 1000s...
Sunday CSA* Toons
(* Coathanger States of America) As usual, 'PDiddie' flags the very best political toons of the week in his latest collection...
Time to Impeach Yet?: 'BradCast' 5/17/19
Guest-hosted by Nicole Sandler with Senate Judiciary Committee vet Lisa Graves and Tweeter 'GottaLaff'...
The Republican Party is a Culture of Corruption: 'BradCast' 5/16/19
Spate of GOP pol scams, indictments, corrupt pardons; Also: Are Congress and corporate media finally waking up to our woefully insecure, non-overseeable elections?...
'Green News Report' 5/16/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
PG&E caused deadliest fire in CA history; CO2 level hits milestone, exactly as Exxon predicted; Climate action delay will cost trillions; PLUS: The Impossible Whopper goes national...
Previous GNRs: 5/14/19 - 5/7/19 - Archives...
FL's Sancho: 'No Confidence' 2020 Will Be Secure After New 2016 FBI Disclosures: 'BradCast' 5/15/19
30-yr elexn chief says FBI lied in 2016; Rubio covered up in 2018; FL unverifiable in 2020...
22 Candidates, 2020 Visions:
'BradCast' 5/14/2019
Bad news CO2 landmark; Biden booed on climate, pushes back; MT's Bullock jumps in to 2020 as Dem Gov from 'red state'; Warren says no to FNC's 'hate-for-profit racket'...
'Green News Report' 5/14/19
Trump trade war hits U.S. NatGas; Admin ices Arctic Council; Houston floods as U.S. sees wettest year on record; PLUS: UK, Scotland declare 'climate emergency'...
GA Supremes Hear Case of 125k 'Missing' 2018 Lt. Gov. Votes: 'BradCast' 5/13/19
Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks; Also: Trump's trade war, Congress'l war; FL voting news; NC-9 do-over primary...
Sunday Billion Dollar Loser Toons
Once again, lots of losers from which to choose in PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
House All Action Against Trump, with Help from Repubs: 'BradCast' 5/10/19
Guest-host Angie Coiro w/ UCSF's Dr. Monica McLemore, NARAL's Amy Everitt on what's next for abortion laws...
Trump Uses Exec Privilege to Block Mueller Report; Judiciary Finds Barr in Contempt: 'BradCast' 5/8/19
Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Also: Don Jr. subpoenaed by GOP-Senate Intel Comm...
'Green News Report' 5/7/19
U.N. report warns humans pushing 1 million species to extinction; Trump repeals post-BP spill safety rules; PLUS: Midwest flooding breaks all-time records...
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: Dave Daley of FairVote: Also: Tornado swarms erupt across U.S. amid climate crisis; Ford to fire thousands of workers...
By Brad Friedman on 5/20/2019 6:58pm PT  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Ted Kalo, 14-year veteran House Judiciary attorney, details what comes next; Also: Good news for voters in OH, bad news for voters in FL...
By Brad Friedman on 5/3/2019 6:48pm PT  

Our guest today, the former U.S. House Judiciary Committee's longtime General Counsel warns on today's BradCast, that we are already in the midst of a Constitutional Crisis and that what is happening now is far worse than anything he ever encountered during his many years in that post, even during the then-unprecedented corruption of the George W. Bush Administration. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But first up today, some good news and bad for voters before 2020 out of two key battleground states. In Ohio, the good news is that a three-judge panel of federal judges on Friday unanimously found the Buckeye State's Congressional maps to be an "unconstitutional partisan gerrymander" and has ordered, via its 301-page ruling [PDF], for new maps to be drawn for use before the 2020 elections. The panel of two Dems and one Republican-appointee determined that the state's GOP-led legislature packed the majority of the state's Democratic voters into just four districts after the 2010 Census to guarantee Ohio's Congressional legislation would retain a 12 to 4 GOP advantage. Republicans have successfully held 75% of that delegation over the past decade despite receiving just more than half of the state's Congressional votes.

State Republicans vow to appeal, as the nation awaits next month's opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court on similar partisan gerrymandering cases in North Carolina and Maryland. A three-judge federal panel last week in Michigan similarly ordered new maps there before 2020 after finding GOPers in that state used a similar tactic to disenfranchise voters. Unconstitutional GOP partisan gerrymanders were also determined by federal courts to have been in place in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania for the past decade.

The bad news for voters today comes from Florida today, where the state's GOP-dominated legislature has adopted a bill to undermine Amendment 4, the landmark ballot measure voters adopted by nearly 65 percent last November to restore voting rights to some 1.5 million former felons in the state who had completed their sentences as well as all parole and probation. Passed along party lines, state lawmakers changed the definition of sentencing to include the payment of all court-imposed fines and fees. The result: Those former felons who have money will be able vote, those who do not, won't. Once signed by the state's Republican Governor, as expected, lawsuits will almost certainly be filed by voting rights advocates to challenge the new law that appears to rewrite Amendment 4 which had ended Florida's shameful lifetime ban on voting by former felons, including more than 20 percent of the state's African-American population.

Next, we are looking for answers today about what is happening and what may come next as the Trump Administration and its new Attorney General and "fixer" William Barr harden their obstruction of all Constitutional oversight by Congressional Democrats. We are joined today by attorney TED KALO, a 14-year veteran of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, where he served as General Counsel for his last 10 years there before leaving for private practice in 2011. Our conversation comes on the heels of Barr's astonishing testimony before the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday and his refusal to appear before the Democratic-majority House Judiciary on Thursday. That, after the Dept. of Justice's failure to respond to a Wednesday subpoena deadline from the House panel to turn over a full, unredacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report and its underlying evidence, and after revelations that Barr appears to have lied to Congress in previous testimony concerning Mueller's view of Barr's public representation of the report's conclusions during the month before Barr finally released a redacted version.

Kalo tells me what is likely to happen next if Barr misses a final Monday deadline, offered in a good faith, last attempt letter sent by House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler on Friday in hopes of avoiding contempt proceedings against the nation's top law enforcement official.

The reason why Barr supposedly skipped Thursday's House hearing was because the Committee had determined to allow staff counsel from both parties to question the Attorney General along with members, which Kalo says is "not unusual at all". He cites, for example, a similar practice carried out by Republicans "during one of the many investigations of Hillary Clinton's emails," and notes that it is "not uncommon historically" for Congressional committees to use staff attorneys for questioning witnesses.

Kalo details the two possible legal paths should Barr, as expected, continue to refuse to cooperate with the Committee and is found in contempt, including a civil litigation path in federal court, which could take months or years to resolve (though Kalo says there are grounds for courts to hear these matters on an expedited basis) or Congress finding Barr in "inherent contempt". In the latter case, he explains, the House Sergeant-at-Arms could be dispatched to arrest and detain the Attorney General. (Kalo also offers a definitive answer about the jail long said to be available at the Capital Building for such matters.)

"While it's frustrating as hell to watch this play out --- it's so obvious what's going on in plain sight --- as a matter of the goal of getting the information, Congress has to proceed cautiously because of its limited options for enforcing subpoenas," Kalo tells me. Therefore, he explains, Nadler is "bending over backwards to show that he tried his hardest to reach an accommodation with the Executive Branch, with an eye towards future litigation" where the court will see the Administration as "recalcitrant and unreasonable" and find in favor of the Dems.

Among the many other questions answered and/or explained by Kalo, he offers insight into my concerns about whether many of the long-established court precedents that appear to make Trump's legal arguments to block a number of subpoenas look ridiculous could actually be overturned by Trump appointees to the federal bench or even the GOP's stolen majority on the Supreme Court. "I think you're right," he says. "We have a federal judiciary that's been packed by people who start with the political result they want and then work the legal reasoning backwards. I think it's a valid fear that the courts won't follow longstanding precedent," before adding optimistically, that he believes the courts will follow precedent in many of these matters.

I also get his thoughts on Barr's remarkable testimony before the Senate on Thursday, arguing that a President has a legal and Constitutional right to shut down or obstruct a federal investigation looking into his own potential crimes if the President believes, on his own, that he has been unfairly accused. Yes, Barr actually made that argument under oath this week. Kalo calls the theory "ridiculous" and says, "I know of no legal authority for what the Attorney General was saying, and it defies reason." He goes on to explain why.

Finally, he concludes with a chilling note. "It can't be understated that we're in a Constitutional crisis. We're trying to respond to things that we never expected to occur from a President of the United States," Kalo argues, adding that, as dark as those years were when he served as General Counsel for the House Judiciary Committee during the George W. Bush years, what is happening now is worse --- "by far."

I wholeheartedly recommend you tune in for today's complete conversation, as there was much more than I am able to adequately summarize here...

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Obama's Veep goes straight after Trump in campaign kickoff; Hillary's recommendations after Mueller; Kellyanne's husband wins Twitter, owns Trump; MI GOP district maps ruled unconstitutional gerrymanders; Nielsen was rebuffed in attempts to protect 2020 election from Russia...
By Brad Friedman on 4/25/2019 6:11pm PT  

We've got a lot of news and notes of concern --- both good and bad --- about the 2020 elections on today's BradCast. [Audio link posted below.]

Among the many stories covered today...

  • Former Vice-President Joe Biden finally announces that he's getting into the crowded 2020 race for the Democratic Presidential nomination. His "stirring" announcement video takes on Donald Trump directly, in a way that other candidates have largely avoided to date. Whether that will be a winning strategy, of course, remains to be seen for the man many consider to be a front-runner at this early point in the contest;
  • Hillary Clinton pens a worthy op-ed in the Washington Post, with her personal recommendations on how to best take on the question of whether Trump should be impeached in the wake of damning findings of criminality by the President in Robert Mueller's Special Counsel report, as well as how best to work to protect the 2020 election from interference --- at least from foreign sources;
  • George Conway, the conservative attorney husband of White House senior adviser/Trump apologist Kellyanne Conway, once again wins Twitter by citing Clinton's oped to slam both the President and, by extension, his own dissembling wife. He also cites another article detailing yet another new international embarrassment courtesy of Trump, to help his new, apt moniker for the President, #DerangedDonald, trend on Twitter;
  • Big news out of Michigan breaking today as a three-judge federal court panel finds district maps created by GOP state legislators in 2011 to be unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders. The court has now ordered the state to redraw as many as 34 state legislative and Congressional districts and even hold a number of special state Senate elections under the new maps in 2020, rather than in 2022 as previously scheduled. Though a decade or so late, it's still very good news for Michigan voters, though Republicans plan to appeal in hopes of stalling until the U.S. Supreme Court comes down with their verdict on two other cases of similar partisan gerrymanders in North Carolina and Maryland this June;
  • The New York Times publishes a very disturbing --- if not surprising in the least --- exposé revealing that recently-fired DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was rebuffed, time and again, by Donald Trump and other senior White House officials, in her efforts to convene cabinet level meetings on a strategy to protect the 2020 election from cyber-manipulation by Russia and other foreign sources. The exceedingly insecure Trump, according to the report, sees any such efforts to harden defenses against the threat of cyber-intrusions by Russia as a way of casting doubt on the legitimacy of his 2016 victory...for some reason;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as the second monster cyclone in a month bears down on Mozambique (the one just weeks ago killed a thousand people and has resulted in an extraordinary humanitarian crisis --- this new one could be even worse), along with other troubling climate change news from around the globe as well as some encouraging news here at home as Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announces plans for the city's very own Green New Deal...

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Author, election law professor Joshua A. Douglas; Also: Notre Dame Cathedral burns; Trump flouts the law, endangers Congresswoman; Buttigieg makes it official; GOPers in AR and TN move to game elections...
By Brad Friedman on 4/15/2019 6:22pm PT  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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MONTHLY BRAD BLOG SUBSCRIPTION
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Choose monthly amount...


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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Record flooding in Midwest; Beto, Bernie and Buttigieg; The definitive truth about Daylight Saving Time...
By Brad Friedman on 3/18/2019 6:59pm PT  

We're happy to have the long-overdue return of great legal journalist MARK JOSEPH STERN of Slate on today's BradCast! As usual, we cover a whole bunch of important topics at lightning speed [Audio link to today's show is posted at end of article.]

But first, some quick news headlines on the record flooding of the Missouri River now wreaking havoc, evacuations and several deaths in parts of Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri. Damage has also affected a number of military bases, despite Donald Trump's recent plans to form a "Blue Ribbon Commission" of climate science deniers to rebut military assessments about the serious dangers of climate change posed to national security and military facilities.

Also, some interesting background info today on 2020 Democratic Presidential primary candidate Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana as well as his position on climate change and the Green New Deal. And, some news today that recently-declared 2020 Presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke raised a jaw-dropping $6.1 million in the first 24 hours after entering the race last week, exceeding Bernie Sanders' previous record haul of $5.9 million a few weeks earlier. Both candidates blew away all other current Democratic contenders so far with those numbers --- for what it's worth.

Then, we're joined by Stern to catch up on a boatload noteworthy legal issues moving through the federal and state court systems. Among them...

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, late last week, upheld lower court rulings ordering a State Senate district in Mississippi found to have been a racial gerrymander to be redrawn before the state's off-year 2019 elections. That, as the U.S. Supreme Court today heard a confusing oral argument regarding 11 racially gerrymandering districts in Virginia, where lower courts have already ordered new maps to be drawn in advance of 2019 state legislative elections likely to determine whether Democrats regain majorities in either or both chambers of the state legislature.

And all of that comes in advance of a SCOTUS hearing next week regarding partisan gerrymanders in several others states before the 2020 elections, when control of both Congress and many state legislatures will be up for grabs before the redistricting that will follow the 2020 Census to help determine balances of power in all 50 states and Congress for the next decade.

Stern describes all of this as the nation finding itself in the middle of an all-out "gerrymandering brawl...a kind of legal convulsion over how much our lawmakers can draw partisan district lines to swing elections in their favor." He cautions that racial gerrymanders --- long ago found to be unconstitutional --- may not be found as such anymore in the GOP's new, stolen Court. And that the question of partisan gerrymandering, which Justice Anthony Kennedy could have ended before retiring, is now a complete unknown. "The whole thing is upside-down, inside-out," he tells me, warning to "be afraid. Be very afraid" of Justice Clarence Thomas' varying and bizarre "back and forth" positions on these matters.

Stern offers slightly better news for us regarding the last-ditch appeal of a previously blocked law created by disgraced GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach, the former Sec. of State of Kansas and failed 2018 Republican Gubernatorial candidate. That law, repeatedly found by lower courts to be unconstitutional, had blocked tens of thousands of legal Kansas voters from being able to register to vote without presenting proof of citizenship first. All, as the trial court judge found in 2016, to prevent what amounted to 11 votes by non-citizens cast between 1999 and 2013 out of tens of millions of votes cast by the state's 1.76 million registered voters.

Meanwhile, in Connecticut late last week, the state's Supreme Court made what Stern describes as a "stunning" ruling in a suit brought by parents of children killed in the 2012 gun massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The case is filed against gun manufacturer Remington, makers of the Bushmaster AR-15 style weapon used to gun down 20 school kids and 6 adults. The court held, as Stern explains, that plaintiffs may move forward with their suit against the company, despite a unique federal law that otherwise grants completely immunity to gun manufacturers for the use of their deadly products. The suit is being brought under a state statute which, plaintiffs argue, allows them to sue Remington for irresponsibly dangerous advertising of the Bushmaster rifle. The state high court's ruling will now allow the case to continue and for plaintiffs' important discovery access to internal communications by the manufacturer, the gun industry and its advertising firms.

We also discuss a recent disturbing ruling from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on an Ohio state GOP law that blocks all funding to Planned Parenthood. Stern describes the ruling as a foreboding omen for what he sees as the likely full dismantling of Roe v. Wade at SCOTUS, already under way, he charges, by "a thousand cuts" at the lower court level in several states where Trump appointees are quickly filling vacancies on federal benches.

And, finally, the most important issue of all today (obviously): "The evils of Standard Time", the awesomeness of Daylight Saving Time, and those who are completely wrong in hating it, as well as the many, as Stern recently reported, who do not seem to even have an understanding of what it is! (Versus Standard Time that actually ruins everybody's lives for months on end by keeping us all in dangerous and debilitating darkness all winter long!)...

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McConnell won't allow Senate vote on HR-1 or restoration of Voting Rights Act; Also: Hand-marked paper ballots for PA County; Cohen sues Trump Org; Brown won't run in 2020; GOPers re-thinking climate denial...
By Brad Friedman on 3/7/2019 6:18pm PT  

54 years to the day after the Bloody Sunday march in Selma, Alabama led to the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, and nearly 6 years following the rightwing U.S. Supreme Court's gutting of the VRA's most crucial provision, Republicans in Congress are still both blocking its restoration and working to prevent the Democrats' newly introduced and much-needed effort to expand voting rights. That's just one of a number of outrages on today's BradCast, otherwise brought to you with no small measures of hope to counter-balance the outrages. [Audio link to today's complete show is posted below.]

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

  • Michael Cohen is suing the Trump Organization for at least $1.9 million dollars to cover his legal expenses which they had apparently promised to pay --- at least until Cohen began cooperating with federal investigators.
  • Another worthy Democratic Senator, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, announces he will not seek the Democratic nomination in 2020. He joins Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Attorney General Eric Holder and (for the most part) Hillary Clinton who all declared this week that they will not be seeking the Presidency this year.
  • Some good news for voters out of the Republican-leaning Butler County, Pennsylvania. Officials there have decided to dump their 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in favor of hand-marked paper ballots. The local news report of this common sense measure in at least this one corner of the important swing-state is somewhat of a hoot, as we share on today's program.
  • Meanwhile, back in Congress, House Democrats will soon be holding a vote on HR-1, the "For the People Act", a massive elections and ethics measure which, among things things, calls for automatic universal voter registration; the expansion of early voting; an end to mass voter purges; independent redistricting commissions to avoid partisan gerrymandering; allows every voter in America to cast their vote on a hand-marked paper ballot; endorses D.C. statehood; requires disclosure of funders to dark money groups; and requires Presidential candidates to release their tax returns. Naturally, Republicans oppose the measure, and Mitch McConnell vows to not allow it to see the light of day in the U.S. Senate, even if it passes in the U.S. House as expected.
  • Similarly, Democrats in the House and Senate have introduced the Voting Rights Advancement Act, a bill to restore Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, by reinstating the requirement for the federal government to pre-approve new election-related laws in jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination at the polls. Naturally, Republicans oppose the measure, and Mitch McConnell vows to not allow it to see the light of day in the U.S. Senate, even if it passes in the U.S. House as expected.
  • Next, there is some curious movement in the Republican Congressional caucus in regard to climate change. Clearly reading the writing on the wall, as the public overwhelmingly not only believes in global warming but is becoming increasingly concerned about it, longtime GOP science deniers in both the House and Senate are finally admitting that man-made greenhouse gas emissions are the cause of it. The recent introduction of the wildly popular Green New Deal by Democrats --- a sweeping effort to move the nation to 100% carbon-neutral energy sources and provide millions of jobs over the next ten years --- is another reason Republicans are now acknowledging they must do something about climate change, if only for appearances. We discuss what could be a sea-change (or not) in this long, existential battle today.
  • Finally, on related matters, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with disturbing news on toxic coal ash waste found in groundwater in 39 states, plastic pollution found in the deepest parts of the ocean, former military officials slamming the Trump Administration over their climate change denial, and Democrats vowing --- as they now are with elections and voting rights, as well --- to go on the offensive in the U.S. Senate...

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2020 Presidential primary news; GOP election fraud news in NC and VA; Bad news for our wildly corrupt President; and much more news...
By Brad Friedman on 3/5/2019 6:07pm PT  

That headline will make sense once you listen to the show. With the news "only" turned up to 11 today (as opposed to its usual 12 or 13), we're able to catch up on a whole bunch of important stories, breaking and otherwise, on today's BradCast. [Audio link is posted below.]

Among those many stories...

  • Oregon U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Senator, Sec. of State and 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton all announce they will not be running for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2020. That's mostly good news, as we discuss;
  • A southern Indiana election board is considering using hand-marked and hand-COUNTED paper ballots in an upcoming local primary election. That's definitely good news;
  • North Carolina's State Board of Elections announces the dates for the redo election(s) in the state's 2018 U.S. House race for the 9th Congressional District. The first one was nullified a week or so ago, due to Republican absentee ballot election fraud by a GOP contractor on behalf of the disgraced candidate and Baptist preacher Mark Harris. The Democratic candidate, Marine vet and businessman Dan McCready, has already announced he will be running again, and only one Republican, so far, has announced his intention to run in the do-over contest. That one candidate, Union County Commissioner Stony Rushing --- endorsed by Harris (ouch) --- turns out to be a real peach, as we explain with some help from Daily Kos' Jeff Singer;
  • Also in NC, the judge who nullified two state Constitutional Amendments, one of which would have imposed disenfranchising Photo ID voting restrictions, stands by his recent ruling to nix the measures on the basis that the state legislature that placed them on the ballot had been "illegally constituted" by unlawful racial gerrymanders in several NC legislative districts;
  • And, speaking of GOP election fraud, in Virginia, the criminal investigation into (now-former) Republican Rep. Scott Taylor and his paid campaign staffers who forged petition signatures to place an independent candidate on the ballot in 2018, continues. The GOP scheme, exposed before the election last year, included what a judge described as "out-and-out fraud" via forged signatures from people who had long ago died or moved. The failed scheme was meant by the Republicans to dilute the votes of Taylor's Democratic challenger, now-freshman Rep. Elaine Luria, in VA's 2nd U.S. House District;
  • A huge majority of American voters now believe, 64 to 24%, that Donald Trump committed crimes before becoming President, with a smaller plurality believing he also has committed crimes since becoming President, according to new polling from Quinnipiac.
  • Meanwhile, Trump characterized the new House majority Democrats' several burgeoning investigations into his and his associates myriad apparent crimes as a "big, fat, fishing expedition", "PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!", "nonsense" and "a disgrace to our country" today. He charged the "real crime is what the Dems are doing." But, as we discuss today, the long, LONG overdue exercise of Congressional oversight into an unprecedentedly corrupt Presidency is anything but. We list an astonishing number of potential crimes now under the Democrats' microscope thanks to the House Judiciary Committee's massive document requests sent Monday to more than 80 Trump associates, family members, organizations and institutions. That, as we also note, is just the tip of the iceberg for what is still to come, thanks to voters who put Democrats back in charge in the House last November;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with tragic news out of Alabama, stupid news out of CPAC, and important news at the EPA and from the latest Democratic candidates entering the 2020 Presidential contest...

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A decade of unconstitutional racial gerrymandering led to this moment...
By Brad Friedman on 2/7/2019 6:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Yes, Virginia, there is a problem with race (and hate) in the Commonwealth. But Democrats would be wise to take a breath and notice what's really going on there before making critical political decisions out of fear. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The media are all over the astonishing crisis that has overtaken VA state politics in the past week, since a Republican website revealed a racist photo on Governor Ralph Northam's 1984 yearbook page, and a serious sexual assault allegation leveled against Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax, while Attorney General Mark Herring subsequently announced that he had donned blackface while dressing as one of his favorite rappers for a party 40 years ago when he was 19. The political futures of all three Democrats now hang precariously in the balance, with top Dems (and media elite) both inside and outside of VA demanding Northam resign, despite the complete lack of evidence to suggest he is a racist in the 35 years since the photo was published. As we discussed on Monday's program, Northam claims he knew nothing about the photo until last week, as he hadn't purchased the yearbook.

But with Fairfax --- an African-American and first in line to succeed the Governor, should he step down --- facing a serious assault allegation (which he has repeatedly denied) and some calls for Herring --- second in the line of succession --- to step down, echoing those leveled against the Governor, the next state official in the line of succession is Republican House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox.

Cox is in that role, thanks only to a questionably "tied" Delegate election in 2017 that left the GOP in control of the House, after a Republican election judge changed his mind in order to create the tie, and a subsequent lot was drawn from a ceramic bowl to break it.

Far more notably, and far less reported, is that a decade of unconstitutionally gerrymandered House of Delegates districts drawn by the GOP to dilute the voting power of African-Americans gave Republicans as many as 8 more delegates in the House than they likely would have won with fair districts. One of those districts was "won" by Speaker Cox himself, according to a new district map ordered for use in this year's 2019 House elections by a panel of federal judges just weeks ago. Without the racial gerrymander, he likely wouldn't be in the House at all, much less in a position to become the next Governor, replacing a guy who admitted only that he put shoe polish on his face to dress as Michael Jackson in a dance contest 25 years ago.

We break down the entire mess today to, hopefully, shed some light on the FULL story of what's going on there, and how Democrats' fearful and breathless rush to avoid charges of hypocrisy may be serving to simply do themselves in for no good or even smart reason.

Also today: Republicans are freaking out about wildly popular ideas such as increasing taxes on the wealthy and a "Green New Deal" (a resolution officially introduced today by Democratic freshman Rep. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez [D-NY] and veteran Senator Ed Markey [D-MA]). They are so alarmed that over at Fox "News", anchors are describing increased taxes on rich people as an attack on Capitalism itself, and programs like the Green New Deal as "Venezuela-styled socialism". But the laugh out loud part is when one wingnut Fox personality explains why, he claims, that such programs are now so popular among voters of all political persuasions. AOC's Twitter response was priceless.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for details on all of that and with the latest Green News Report, on Trump's "disgraceful" failure to mention climate change at this week's State of the Union Address, despite hundreds of Americans killed and displaced over this past year alone, which is now, officially, the fourth hottest year since record-keeping began...

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Guest: Analiese Eicher of One Wisconsin Now; Also: MI's new Dem SoS looks to settle gerrymander case; Buzzfeed charges Trump told Cohen to lie to feds about Moscow Trump Tower project...
By Brad Friedman on 1/18/2019 6:38pm PT  

On today's BradCast, good news for voters in Wisconsin and Michigan, not nearly as good news for Donald Trump. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, the White House is desperately scrambling for new distractions from Trump's unpopular, nearly month-long federal government shutdown and, of more pressing import for the President on Friday, an explosive report published Thursday night by BuzzFeed News. The otherwise uncorroborated article alleges that Trump instructed his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to federal investigators about the Trump Organization's proposed deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. The story cites two unnamed sources as "federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter" and claims that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office learned about the directive "through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents."

Cohen has admitted to lying to Congress and federal investigators about a number of matters and was sentenced last November to three years in prison after cooperating with Mueller's probe. If the story proves true that Trump instructed him to lie about the project --- which was reportedly still being worked on by Trump through June of 2016, much later than he had initially admitted --- it would, according to Democrats today, amount to evidence of the subornation of perjury as well as obstruction of justice, both impeachable offenses.

We also share the reaction today from Trump and the White House, neither of which denied the reporting initially, choosing to attack Cohen and BuzzFeed instead. Later, Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani asserted that "Any suggestion --- from any source --- that the President counseled Michael Cohen to lie is categorically false." [POST-SHOW UPDATE: In a rare and carefully worded statement issued late Friday evening by Mueller's office, after we got off air, they disputed BuzzFeed's "description of specific statements...and characterization of documents and testimony obtained" by the Special Counsel.]

In other news today, a federal judge in Wisconsin on Thursday made short order of a challenge to new limits on Early Voting and allowable polling place IDs in the state after Republicans rammed through new restrictions during an extraordinary lame-duck session of the legislature last December, following Governor Scott Walker's re-election loss in the November midterm election. Thanks to heavy turnout, including record Early Voting numbers, Democrats won every statewide contest on the ballot and 54% of the votes for the State Assembly. But, thanks to partisan gerrymandering by state Republicans, they won only one third of its seats.

In a terse, 5-page ruling [PDF] on Thursday, U.S. District Judge James Peterson ruled it was "not a close question" that the GOP's newly enacted voting restrictions were an unconstitutional violation of voting rights, just as he had found nearly identical provisions to be, as passed by GOP lawmakers in 2016.

We're joined today by ANALIESE EICHER, one of the named plaintiffs from One Wisconsin Now's lawsuit challenging both the 2016 law and the late 2018 lame-duck version which Walker signed just days before leaving office. In addition to that court victory on Thursday, the non-partisan group had another on Friday, when a different court ruled that Republican lawmakers were in violation of the First Amendment by blocking the organization and others on Twitter. (Heads up, Alabama Sec. of State John Merrill!)

In neighboring Michigan, the new Democratic Sec. of State Jocelyn Benson announced she was seeking a settlement with Democratic challengers to the legislative and Congressional districts drawn by Republicans in that state. The previous Sec. of State, a Republican, was preparing to defend what Dems describe, with very good evidence, to be an extreme and unconstitutional partisan gerrymander after the 2010 Census. (One such piece of evidence are emails from GOP lawmakers discussing districts mean to "give the finger" to a former Democrat Congressman, and to "cram ALL the Dem garbage" into four districts so Republicans could control more seats across the state.)

A settlement with the newly seated SoS could result in new district maps drawn before the 2020 election. Last November, MI voters approved a ballot initiative that would put an independent redistricting commission in charge of drawing maps following the 2020 Census.

Finally today, we're sent off into the weekend with a pretty hilarious song about Donald Trump's wall, courtesy of satirist Randy Rainbow...

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HUD closure threatens evictions; Pence makes false immigration claims; SCOTUS on redistricting; 2018 'blue wave' bringing good news for Americans in FL, MI, ME and elsewhere across the country...
By Brad Friedman on 1/8/2019 6:25pm PT  

The effects of the federal government's partial shutdown, now in its third week, continue to worsen, even as the effects of last year's 'blue wave' election continue to make things much better for Americans across the country. Among the stories covered on today's BradCast [audio link is posted below]...

  • The shutdown is causing "a mess" for potentially tens of thousands of American families who live in properties subsidized by the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development. They may soon face rent increases or eviction due to HUD's failure to renew thousands of contracts before and during the agency's closure;
  • Vice President Mike Pence made the media rounds in advance of Trump's Tuesday night prime-time Oval Office remarks (which TV networks didn't allow for Obama), in hopes of drumming up support for the Administration's false claim there is a national security crisis on the border which may precipitate a Presidential declaration of a "national emergency". Pence offered a number of false claims in the bargain, which even some GOPers were scoffing at today;
  • With Trump having boxed himself into this protracted shutdown mess, a "national emergency" declaration may be his only face-saving way out of it. It would likely result in Republicans allowing a vote in the Senate for reopening the government, even as the declaration would face court challenges over its legality and, essentially, do little more than steal tax-payer money from national defense as U.S. troops are tasked with building Trump's southern border wall;
  • The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to hear two partisan gerrymandering cases this session (from Maryland and North Carolina), which may not be good news following the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy;
  • But, in better news from SCOTUS today, the Court rejected a plea from Virginia Republicans to delay a lower-court mandated remapping of districts for its House of Delegates in advance of this November's off-year legislative elections in the state. Twelve of those districts were previously found by the lower court to be unconstitutional racial gerrymanders;
  • Meanwhile, last year's midterm 'blue wave' is already yielding dividends for the nation. In Maine, the nation's dumbest now-thankfully-former Governor Paul LePage certified what he declared to be a "stolen election" for the U.S. House on his way out the door, and the state's new Democratic Governor Janet Mills signed legislation on her first day on the job that will finally give access to healthcare to some 70,000 Mainers under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) Medicaid Expansion that had been blocked for some eight years by the former Republican Governor;
  • And, in further good news following last year's midterms, Florida's Amendment 4, adopted by nearly 65 percent of voters in November, kicked in on Tuesday to allow as many as 1.4 million former felons the right to vote in a state that is notorious for its close elections. Despite claims by some Republicans that "implementing language" may need to be enacted, County Supervisors of Elections began allowing registrations under the new Amendment for most former felons who have served their time. The result could be a sea change for the state in 2020, not to mention for the rest of the nation where Florida's electoral votes are key to Presidential elections;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the first Green News Report of 2019, where last year's 'blue wave' is also being positively felt on the environmental front at both the state and federal level, even as Trump's shutdown is trashing national parks and blocking important scientific research...

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Guest: OneWisconsinNow's Analiese Eicher; Also: Updates on the GOP absentee ballot election fraud probe in the NC-9 U.S. House race...
By Brad Friedman on 12/4/2018 6:41pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The GOP's utter contempt for democracy and voters is now on full display in several states where things did not go well for the party during the November midterms, and nowhere more so than Wisconsin. [Audio link to show follows below.]

In states where Democratic candidates did well in last month's midterms, leading to a loss of control by Republican lawmakers, there is now a desperate and brazen scramble in lame duck legislative sessions to pass laws in hopes of robbing power from incoming Democrats before they can be seated. In Michigan, for example, where Dems won statewide races for Governor and Secretary of State and voters overwhelmingly adopted ballot initiatives to expand voting rights, GOPers are jamming through last-minute legislation to prevent the Election Day registration that voters had adopted.

In North Carolina, the Republican-controlled state legislature is ramming through a Photo ID restriction law before they lose their Super-Majority to override Democratic Governor Roy Cooper's vetoes. That action is particularly hypocritical as the state is in the midst of a massive absentee ballot election fraud scandal, apparently perpetrated by a GOP contractor and former felon hired by Republican Mark Harris in his race against Democrat Dan McCready for the U.S. House seat in the state's 9th district. Republicans claim that Photo ID voting restrictions at the polling place are necessary to prevent fraud --- of which there is little or none by voters --- even while calling for Harris to be certified by the state despite clear evidence of serious absentee ballot fraud on behalf of the Republican candidate. We've got more new details on that ongoing probe today, which has prevented Harris' reported win --- by just 905 votes out of more than 280,000 tallied --- from being certified by the state Board of Elections.

But it is Wisconsin today where the GOP is attempting perhaps the most audacious power grab in the nation this year. As Republican Gov. Scott Walker was voted out in November in favor of Democrat Tony Evers, the GOP is attempting to usurp the powers of the incoming Governor, along with Democratic Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul, on a litany of issues before they can be sworn in. The new provisions, never mentioned by Republicans during the campaign, were introduced suddenly in a massive 144-page bill unveiled late last Friday night in a special legislative lame duck session called before Walker is finally out.

Despite Democrats having won every statewide contest on the ballot in Wisconsin's 2018 midterms, Republicans were able to retain control of the wildly gerrymandered State Assembly. They received just 45 percent of the vote overall, but will nonetheless control 63 of 99 seats in the Assembly. This week, they are using that ill-gotten legislative muscle to swipe the incoming Governor and AG's powers. They hope to block the Democrats' campaign promises to expand healthcare and ease suppressive voting restrictions (which arguably resulted in enough voter disenfranchisement to narrowly give the state to Donald Trump in 2016). Republicans are also attempting to restrict early voting in 2020 in hopes of avoiding losses similar to those suffered by GOPers in 2018. The unprecedented Republican power grab has led to protests at the state capital in Madison this week of the type not seen since shortly after Walker took power in 2011 and immediately worked with the Republican legislature to strip collective bargaining rights from public union members.

We're joined today by OneWisconsinNow's ANALIESE EICHER --- a plaintiff in the 2016 federal case which struck down the WI GOP's previous attempt to curtail early voting --- to detail the outrageous and unprecedented #WIGOPPowerGrab being strong-armed through the state legislature tonight.

"What we're seeing here is the obliteration of the separation of powers," Eicher tells me. "We know that when Republicans don't like the results, they seek to change the rules and to change how things operate. With Democrats sweeping six statewide elections here in Wisconsin, the only option for the Republicans to maintain what they thought was their really, really great unilateral control of the State of Wisconsin is to make changes."

"We're seeing everything from limiting local governments' abilities to do work on their roads, limiting their abilities to pay a prevailing wage, changing the makeup and composition of boards and commissions in Wisconsin, so that the legislature has equal or more power than the Governor in regards to appointments. We're seeing change's to people's abilities to get healthcare and receive benefits," she says.

"We're seeing changes to the Attorney General's office, as to whether the Attorney General can leave a lawsuit or join a lawsuit," she explains, referring to Kaul's vow to remove WI from the federal lawsuit by several GOP-controlled states challenging the Constitutionality of ObamaCare and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions. "This extraordinary session bill severely limits his ability to essentially do what he campaigned on, and what people voted for him to do."

As one Democrat noted during hearings today in Madison, the action being taken by the legislature "will invalidate the results of the will of the people and shows direct contempt for the voters". But, of course, that is the whole idea, since Republicans now clearly hate democracy. Eicher argues Republicans "want to stay in power, no matter what the cost" and suggests "voters are not responding well to what's happening in this extraordinary session." She believes they will pay a price for this in 2020.

Finally today, we're joined by Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report, with a look at the late George H.W. Bush's environmental legacy, Donald Trump's isolation of the U.S. on climate change policy at the recent G20 meeting in Argentina, and a warning for the world issued this week as the annual U.N. climate summit opened this week in Poland...

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

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern with legal insight on a fire hose of news, from Ivanka's emails to Whitaker's appointment to Trump's trouble in court to encouraging midterm push-back against partisan gerrymandering...
By Brad Friedman on 11/20/2018 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we fly through a mountain of incoming stories (with the help of a great guest!) as the news gods seem to be unleashing a tidal wave in advance of the Thanksgiving Day holiday. [Audio link posted below. Buckle up before clicking.]

Among the ridiculous number of stories covered today...

  • Five are dead after three shootings in three different states over the past 24 hours;
  • Despite warning of an "invasion" on the U.S. southern border by a migrant caravan from Central America prior to the midterm elections, now that the elections are done, the Trump Administration is reportedly withdrawing more than 5,000 military troops they had deployed to the border just weeks ago;
  • The President's daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump reportedly sent hundreds of government related emails via a private email server over the course of 2017 in the months following her father's election in which he repeatedly called for his opponent, Hillary Clinton, to be "locked up" for doing the same thing. Ivanka's husband, Jared Kushner, also a senior adviser to Trump, reportedly used the same private server for government-related communications.

On the election results front...

  • Republican Rep. Will Hurd has reportedly squeaked out a victory over Democratic challenger Gina Ortiz Jones in Texas' 23rd Congressional District. The contest was among a handful of still-undecided races;
  • At the same time, Democrat Ben McAdams appears to have pulled back into the lead over GOP Rep. Mia Love in Utah's 4th Congressional District, where it now appears McAdams will be the victor by fewer than 700 votes out of some 270,000 tallied, flipping yet another U.S. House seat from "red" to "blue". The final margin is reportedly 0.258%, just above the 0.25% that would have allowed Love to request a recount in the otherwise ruby "red" state.
  • When the few remaining undecided U.S. House seats are called, Democrats appear on track to have picked up an extraordinary 39 seats in their "blue wave".
  • One of the three still-undecided House races is in Georgia, where this year's Libertarian candidate for Sec. of State has now endorsed Democratic candidate John Barrow in the upcoming December 4th runoff against Republican Brad Raffensperger to replace GA's vote suppressing Sec. of State, now Governor-elect Brian Kemp;
  • In Wisconsin, Democrats won every single statewide race on November 6th, including Governor (unseating Scott Walker) and U.S. Senate. They also outvoted Republicans in State Assembly races by 8 percentage points, 54 to 46 percent. Nonetheless, thanks to the GOP's extreme partisan gerrymandering in the Badger State, Republicans will hold 63 seats to the Democrats' 36 in the new Assembly;

The great (and newly wed!) MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist at Slate, joins us to discuss how voters pushed back against gerrymandering this year by approving ballot initiatives --- and other measures --- in several states on November 6th, in an attempt to restore fair(er) elections in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court opting to not strike down partisan gerrymanders as unconstitutional in states such as Wisconsin and North Carolina earlier this year. Among the many other issues we fly through with Stern today, on which he offers his as-always cogent legal insight...

  • Ivanka and Hillary's email issues (Stern hopes a Democratic House investigation will result in real reform to the "arguably improper" if not unlawful use of private email by officials like Trump and Clinton, though not in the opportunistic political fashion that GOPers previously dealt with the issue);
  • Trump's appointment of GOP operative Matthew Whitaker as Acting Attorney General (which Stern describes as blatantly "illegal" and, he believes, very likely to be struck down by the Courts). He also describes the DoJ's legal defense of the maneuver as "laughable";
  • A federal court on Monday night blocked the Trump Administration's new regulation denying asylum claims by immigrants who fail to present themselves at a port of entry (Stern explains the judge found the Administration's new rule to be in strict violation of federal laws, and predicts that even Chief Justice John Roberts, based on similar rulings he made against the Obama Administration, will be forced to agree when the case reaches SCOTUS);
  • The decision by a Trump-appointed federal judge to order the White House to restore press credentials to CNN's Jim Acosta (Stern is impressed with the Trump judge's anti-Trump ruling, I remain a bit more skeptical);
  • And how (and why) Trump's controversial new Justice Brett Kavanaugh has, so far, laid low by not yet fuly tossing in with the Court's nihilist right-wing caucus.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report as the catastrophic wildfires continue to burn in California, Trump shows up to make things worse, and a coming turn in the weather signals both good news and bad for firefighters and recovery workers amid the record disaster...

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

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Guest: Dylan Scott of Vox with good news for Dems in a bunch of states; Also: More trouble at polls in GA, TX, IL; Accountability for Zinke?...
By Brad Friedman on 11/1/2018 6:07pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Nobody said it was going to be easy. But the fight to vote in next Tuesday's crucial midterms continues, and beyond the House and Senate, there may be some very good news for Democrats in dozens of currently GOP-controlled states. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first up: More trouble at the polls today reported out of Texas, where voter intimidation is said to be higher than seen in decades; In Georgia, where voters are still trying to overcome suppression in absentee Vote-by-Mail voting in DeKalb County (suburbs east of Atlanta) and with failing, unverifiable voting machines at all polling places across the state; And in Illinois, where voters are also reportedly encountering failures on DuPage County's similarly unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in the Chicago suburbs.

Meanwhile, there's been a fair amount of coverage of high profile gubernatorial races with Democratic takeover chances in Florida and Georgia (where Oprah is now lending a hand), and in a number of the similarly tight U.S. Senate races that will determine partisan control of the upper chamber in Congress for the next two years. But there has been far less national coverage of several other gubernatorial contests around the country where Democrats are also in very close "Toss Up" contests to take control of dozens of executive mansions.

These races are crucial not only between now and the next Presidential Election, but could well determine control of the U.S. House over the next decade. That's right. The way voters vote on Tuesday, November 6, 2018, may well help determine who is in charge of the U.S. House beginning in 2022, once redistricting takes place around the country following the 2020 Census --- and then for another ten years thereafter!

While Dems hope to win a majority in the House next week, control of Governorships by Democrats in a number of key swing states could help add anywhere from 15 to 30 more winnable seats in the U.S. House over the next decade, according to experts.

Political reporter DYLAN SCOTT of Vox.com joins us to detail which states will be most important to that decennial reapportionment and why state Governors are so crucial to the process.

"Republicans won a lot of governor seats in 2010," he explains. "That gave them a lot of control over redistricting in 2011. And even though in 2012, 2014 and 2016, the Democrats actually won more votes for their House candidates across the country, the maps were drawn as such that Republicans were still able to hold a majority for all of the last decade. I think the stakes should be pretty clear to people after what we've seen with GOP control across the country over the last ten years," Scott argues. But are they? We discuss.

Also, Scott breaks down what appears to be a host of very good opportunities for Democrats in more than a dozen states beyond Florida and Georgia, currently controlled by GOP Governors, including Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa, Kansas, New Mexico, Maine, Alaska and even South Dakota! We cover a lot of ground on this today --- along with the politics and polling involved --- and much of it should be very encouraging for Democrats.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with news on some potential accountability for Donald Trump's corrupt Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke, more disturbing indications that the effects of global warming will be much worse, much sooner than previously thought, and more related news underscoring why Tuesday's election is so crucial to the existential fight against man-made climate change...

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

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