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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, July 23, 2019
'Green News Report' 7/23/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Trump EPA won't ban dangerous pesticide; Heat wave exposes fragile U.S. infrastructure; Trump 2020 merch sucks; PLUS: Berkeley, CA is first city to ban natural gas in new homes...
Previous GNRs: 7/18/19 - 7/16/19 - Archives...
What to Expect When Expecting Robert Mueller: 'BradCast' 7/22/19
Callers ring in on upcoming testimony of the Special Counsel; Also: Are they nuts? More on the insane move to 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting in Philly and L.A. for 2020...
Sunday 'Racist Bone' Toons
Of course, we "feel a little bit badly", to be honest with you, about the toons in PDiddie's latest weekly collection...
Philly Election Advocates Win Review of Wildly Vulnerable New E-Vote Systems: 'BradCast' 7/19/19
Guest: Election, cybersecurity expert Kevin Skoglund on jaw-dropping Philly failure; More...
Gutting the Government: 'BradCast' 7/18/19
Admin cutting nuclear safety checks, killing scientific analyses, hollowing agencies from Int. to USDA; Also: Feds end Trump hush-money conspiracy probe, release damning docs...
'Green News Report' 7/18/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Heat wave broils most of U.S.; 'Off-the-charts' heat still to come; U.S. land burned by wildfires doubled in past 30 years; PLUS: Trump Admin moves to end local input on pollution limits...
Previous GNRs: 7/16/19 - 7/11/19 - Archives...
Justice Stevens RIP & Could That 'Ridic-ulous' Case Kill the ACA?: 'BradCast' 7/17/19
Guest: Constitutional law expert Ian Millhiser on the GOP's Obamacare legal challenge and the passing of the 'last great conservative Justice'...
'Mass Confusion and Chaos': New Trump Rule Undermines Healthcare for Millions: 'BradCast 7/16/19
Guest: Politico's Alice Ollstein: Also: House votes to condemn Trump 'racism'; MORE...
'Green News Report' 7/16/19
NOLA dodges bullet, but Barry's impacts are not over; US sees wettest 12-month period on record -- again; PLUS: NYC blackout exposes infrastructure vulnerabilities...
The Weekend Disasters That DIDN'T Happen (and Some That Did): 'BradCast' 7/15/19
Guest: KPFK News Dir. Ernesto Arce; Barry misses NOLA; L.A. immigrants take on Trump raids together; Callers!...
Sunday Underage Toons
PDiddie's weekly toons never get old...though they do tend to get just about as dark as our nation these days...
'When Harry Met Barry':
'BradCast' 7/12/19
Guest-host Nicole Sandler with actor/filmmaker Harry Shearer on NOLA disasters past (Katrina), present (Barry), future; WH journo Brian Karem on Rose Garden scuffle...
'Green News Report' 7/11/19
Barry may test NOLA levees; FEMA understaffed as storm season begins; Climate activist Steyer running for Prez; PLUS: World's most powerful oil cartel afraid of little girl...
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: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Dems pass $4.5B emergency funding for border - with strings; Mueller to testify in open hearings; Kellyanne Conway subpoenaed by House; NRATV finally shuts down...
By Brad Friedman on 6/26/2019 5:11pm PT  

Before our guest joins us on today's BradCast --- and in advance of the Democrats' first two-night 2020 Presidential Candidate Debate in Miami (which we'll be covering over the next two BradCasts), some very quick news headlines today. [Audio link to complete show is posted below]

  • House Democrats have called Donald Trump's and Republicans' bluff by passing a $4.5 billion supplemental spending bill to cover border-related costs for children and other migrants being held in squalid, overcrowded conditions, with children not even being given soap or toothbrushes and forced to sleep on cold cement floors. The House bill also places some restrictions on how that funding can be spent, unlike the Senate version of a similar emergency supplemental spending measure for $4.6 billion. Some on Team Trump have called for vetoing the House version. The conflicting bills will somehow need to be reconciled before final passage, though it's unclear how that can happen before lawmakers leave town for their week-long July 4th recess;
  • On Tuesday night, the Chairs of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees announced that former Special Counsel Robert Mueller has agreed to appear --- after being subpoenaed --- for testimony in open sessions to both House panels, one after the other, on July 17th. He is expected to give answers to lawmakers about his two-year probe of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, the Trump Campaign's cooperation with that effort, and Donald Trump's repeated, unlawful (and impeachable) attempts to obstruct the Special Counsel's federal investigation;
  • Speaking of House testimony, the Oversight Committee voted on Wednesday to subpoena Trump's senior adviser Kellyanne Conway for testimony following a recent finding from the Trump-appointed head of an independent federal watchdog agency recommending Conway be fired for multiple violations of the federal Hatch Act. That Federal law bars public officials from using their office for partisan campaign purposes. Conway failed to show up voluntarily on Wednesday, so will now face a subpoena forcing her to do so --- at least in theory. Trump has refused to fire Conway, despite her repeated violations of the law, and his White House has, so far, taken extraordinary (and likely unlawful) measures to block Congressional testimony by White House officials;
  • Oh, and it was announced today that NRATV is finally shutting down amid internecine fighting, scandal and criminal probes of the terrorist-supporting NRA, which appears to have really shot itself in the foot. We send them our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time;

Then, we're joined once again today by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, Slate's ace legal reporter and, as the end of SCOTUS' term wraps up before summer, our ever-insightful Supreme Court correspondent! There were a bevy of opinions issued by the Court over the past week, even as most received little fanfare or attention by the media. Trump's war-mongering with Iran and worsening child detention problems on the border are just some of the reasons for that. But also, the biggest expected rulings --- on whether a citizenship question may be added to the 2020 Census, despite Trump Administrations lies about it, and on whether states may employ partisan gerrymandering for electoral advantage --- are still to come at any moment now. In the meantime, while the many opinions issued over the past week, in and of themselves, may not have been marquee rulings, many, as Stern explains, have serious consequences.

More importantly, however, as we discuss today, the new rulings offer some pretty HUGE SCREAMING RED SIRENS about the direction that the Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court now intends to go, with their far-right majority now firmly ensconced. A number of opinions in several of the cases offered some pretty clear projections that this Court intends to overturn decades, if not centuries, of legal court precedent, case law, and even thousands of federal laws in the bargain.

Among the many decisions we discuss in some detail today:

  • A contorted ruling that allows a 94-year old religious monument to fallen WWI soldiers to remain on government property despite being a clear violation of the Constitution's Establishment Clause separating Church and State;
  • The case of an African American man whose death sentence was, thankfully, overturned after a state prosecutor in Mississippi repeatedly excluded African American jurors from sitting on the six different trials the man has, so far, faced for a case of multiple murders that it seems quite likely he had nothing at all to do with;
  • An opinion that overturns decades and perhaps centuries of property rights case law;
  • Another that comes within a hair's breadth of striking down hundreds, if not thousands of federal laws passed by Congress over our nation's history;
  • And a decision that overturns decades of trademark law which the court found to be FUCT. (We explain on the show, while avoiding any potential FCC language violations in the bargain! You're welcome!)

In all, we cover quite a bit of ground today, with some important details --- far more than I can cover here --- that you should definitely tune in for, if only so that you can't later say nobody warned you!

"This is the term when the Justices pretty much rip up stare decisis," explains Stern, citing the legal term for the custom of respecting court precedent, "or at least get out their lighters and lay the kindling. In a number of cases the conservative Justices have just decided that they've had enough with precedent, they're ready to make the Constitution say what they want it to say. Doesn't matter what previous courts have ruled."

Stern warns: "For the most part, the Justices have been swinging for the rafters. They do not feel hemmed in by many limitations. You're seeing unbridled exercise of judicial power --- the kind of thing that [Chief Justice] Roberts said during his confirmation hearings he would never resort to."

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: 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: 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....

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

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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"...

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




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...

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Guest: Harvard Law's Michael Klarman; Also: Trump praises GOP Rep's violence against journalist at MT rally, as Khashoggi assassination roils...
By Brad Friedman on 10/19/2018 6:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's no longer only political pundits and activists calling for Democrats to pack the U.S. Supreme Court by adding several seats as soon as possible, in the wake of the Republican Party's blatant theft of the high court majority. Esteemed law professors are now joining that call. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, a word or two on the President of the United States' appalling celebration of violence against journalists at a political rally in Montana on Thursday night. To the cheers of his supporters, Donald Trump praised the criminal assault on Guardian journalist Ben Jacobs by Republican U.S. House member Greg Gianforte. The attack last year was carried out by Gianforte, and caught on tape, on the eve of his special election to the state's only U.S. House seat.

"Any guy that can do a body slam --- he's my kind of guy," Trump declared to laughter and wild applause from supporters at the campaign rally for Gianforte in Missoula on Thursday, lauding him as "one tough cookie." The Congressman initially lied to police after the assault, claiming that he was attacked by Jacobs. Later, after he won the election, and after a Fox News crew who witnessed the attack detailed what actually happened, Gianforte pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault, apologized to Jacobs and paid a small fine in addition to performing 40 hours of community service and receiving 20 hours of anger management counseling.

Trump's disgusting --- and chilling --- praise for the violent attack against a reporter doing his job, comes amidst Trump's seeming support for Saudi Arabia following their reported assassination and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist and Virginia resident Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago. Journalists today --- including the Guardian's Editor and the head of the White House Correspondents Association --- are decrying Trump's support for violence against reporters, despite his sworn oath to protect and defend the Constitution's First Amendment. We decry it --- and the dark path where it's leading --- on today's show as well.

Next, we're joined by MICHAEL KLARMAN, the Kirkland & Ellis Professor at Harvard Law School to discuss his recent essay at the Take Care Blog, detailing "Why Democrats Should Pack the Supreme Court" if they are ever able to regain control of the White House and both chambers of Congress. The public conversation in support of expanding the number of seats on the high court --- which can be done statutorily, without a Constitutional Amendment --- has been intensifying in recent weeks. What had begun as a call from activists to restore a Democratic majority, stolen from them by Republicans in 2016, has quickly spread to academic and legal circles.

Klarman, the author of many books on American law and history and a former clerk to Ruth Bader Ginsberg, argues that, in addition to the GOP's historically unprecedented theft of the high court and his belief that Trump was likely elected only due to unlawful foreign interference, a host of radical actions by Republicans in recent years at both the state and federal level, leaves Democrats with only the choice to respond in kind. If not, he argues, it will be nothing less than "unilateral disarmament" and an act of "political suicide" for the party.

"It's not radical. It's responding to an extraordinary rightward shift in the Republican Party that is tearing apart the rules of democracy," he argues. "The Republicans have already packed the Court," so "unpacking" it, he says, would be warranted.

"There's a kind of sickness that's been spreading in the Republican Party for the last decade or two. It's certainly not true of all Republican voters, many of whom I think would be unaware of these things, and would have a problem with them if they knew about it," he tells me. "But the Democratic Party can't go on playing by the established norms and traditions of democracy when the Republican Party is willing to do anything to win. That's unilateral disarmament. It usually doesn't work out well for the party that disarms. So this is a fairly mild way to fight back."

"My argument is not that Democrats should control the Supreme Court at any cost --- I think that's the Republicans' position, [that] 'we get to control the Supreme Court even if it means stealing an appointment.' My position is their theft has to be offset, and put us back in the position that we ought to have been at if the seat hadn't been stolen."

He leaves the case of whether Dems should run on a promise to expand the Court, or wait until they gain back control before announcing such a plan, to political scientists, but he notes: "We're going to have to think creatively in order to rescue democracy. And that may mean occasionally fighting back in ways that Democrats don't gravitate toward naturally, and that they would prefer not to have to use at all in a normal political environment. But you can't just respond by disarming in the face of this incredible threat that the Republican Party is posing to the basic norms and institutions of democracy."

Finally today, more news on the ongoing allegations of attempted voter suppression, particularly in southern states once covered by the Voting Rights Act until the central part of the Act was gutted by SCOTUS Republicans in 2013. That, on the same day that Trump's former longtime lawyer and business partner Michael Cohen broke his media silence to plead with the American public to vote this November or face "another two or another six years of this craziness." And then we enjoy another musical close to today's show, this time from actress Jenifer Lewis, of ABC's Blackish, who explains, in song, why it's time to "Get your ass out and vote!"...

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Early voting fails on first day in GA; Adelson now owns the GOP; Death toll rising after Michael...
By Brad Friedman on 10/16/2018 6:38pm PT  

On today's BradCast: If you think the way the Republican Party has rigged and stolen the U.S. Supreme Court is appalling, just wait until you see what they're trying to do of late at a few of the state Supreme Courts! [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But, first up today: Donald Trump says the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia told him he had nothing to do with the disappearance --- and, likely, murder --- of Washington Post journalist, Saudi citizen and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Turkey. The Prince's word appears to be good enough for Trump, who went on to compare the situation to the allegations of sexual assault against now-U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh

Meanwhile, the midterm elections are now exactly three weeks away and early voting got underway on Monday in Georgia where, you'll be shocked to learn, it didn't go well. After our previous coverage of ongoing racially disproportionate voter suppression schemes under the command of GA Sec. of State and Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp (who is in a tight election contest with Democrat Stacey Abrams), and after very serious and years-long concerns about their completely unsecure, wildly hackable, and 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems, it appears that the electronic pollbook systems failed across Fulton County (Atlanta) on the first day of early voting.

In not entirely unrelated news, the GOP appears to now be a wholly owned subsidiary of Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

Then, we move to some of the insanity of several attempted state Supreme Court coups this week with Slate's legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN. Stern joins us to detail both some good news from the Florida state Supreme Court, regarding that state's Supreme Court, and an apparent Constitutional Crisis in West Virginia after a decision by that state's Supreme Court, regarding their state Supreme Court. If it all sounds nuts, it's because it is.

First, in Florida, outgoing Republican Gov. Rick Scott had vowed to name three new Justices to the Court, even though the Democratic-appointed Justices he planned to replace will not be vacating their seats, because of term limits, until after Scott officially leaves office in January. Stern reports the largely good news --- with a caveat or two --- regarding the Sunshine State's Supreme Court's unambiguous ruling last week that will leave the job of appointing three new Justice to Scott's successor instead (who will be either Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum or Republican Ron DeSantis, depending on how things go on November 6th.)

Then, things get far crazier at the West Virginia state Supreme Court, where the Republican state legislature, along with Republican Gov. Jim Justice, have been attempting a coup by impeachment of all five Justices on the state's 3 to 2 Democratic-majority Court. This story has more jaw-dropping twists and turns in it than I can possibly describe here --- including five temporary replacement Justices determining that at least one of the impeachments was unconstitutional under state law and the GOP-majority state Senate which hopes to move forward with a trial anyway...if only they could only find a Justice willing to preside over it, as required by the state Constitution.

Just tune in for the insane details on how, as in Florida, West Virginia Republicans are doing anything and everything they can to blatantly steal a Democratic-majority high court.

And, as if that's not enough, Stern then reports on the wildly hypocritical decision by the U.S. Supreme Court last week that will leave a new voter suppression law --- enacted by North Dakota Republicans --- in place for the November midterms. The ruling effectively changes the state's election law at the last minute before this year's general election and is likely to disenfranchise thousands of Native American voters. The ruling threatens to undermine this year's re-election chances of Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who won her previous election in 2012 by just 3,000 votes, and could assure Republicans hold their control of the U.S. Senate along with it.

Yes, elections and Supreme Courts --- be they at the federal or state level --- matter!

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as the long road to recovery begins and the death toll increases after the catastrophic Hurricane Michael, and as a bought-and-sold Republican Party --- from Marco Rubio in Florida to Donald Trump in the White House --- continue to deny the deadly and costly impacts of climate change on behalf of their fossil-fueled corporate owners...

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Guest-host Angie Coiro on the possibility of sanctions against Saudi Arabia, as Trump protects arms sales; Also: The power of women's rage, with Nelini Stamp and Soraya Chemaly...
By Angie Coiro on 10/11/2018 6:49pm PT  

On today's BradCast, I'm your guest host --- Angie Coiro of In Deep with Angie Coiro.

Among the headlines today:

The news about Jamal Khashoggi gets more and more grim. Turkey claims to have both audio and video evidence of the missing journalists murder --- although for reasons I detail in the show, Turkey is not an entirely reliable narrator here. US sources tell the Washington post this sounds to them like a failed rendition attempt. Donald Trump is twiddling and fretty lest the US lose arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and what’s a missing journalist compared to that?

The ACLU is among those sounding the alarm about new regulations proposed for the National Park Service to inflict on White House protestors. It's ugly stuff; maybe the most blatant bit is shaving down to just five feet --- yes, FIVE FEET --- of White House sidewalk space allowed to protesters. That, and raising the cost of permits and fees. If you ain't got the coin, there goes your "free" speech. You can comment directly to the NPS, or via the page set up by the ACLU.

Melania Trump is the most bullied person in the world. No, really.

The percentage of American kids without vaccinations has quadrupled since 2001, proving once again that idiocy is highly contagious.

And Joe Biden thinks Dems have a shot at taking both the House and the Senate in the midterm elections. From your lips etc., Joe!

After the headlines roundup: a conversation with NELINI STAMP, Organizing Director with the Working Families Party and a key organizer in the #BlackFridays movement. Last Friday was the kickoff for women – particularly women of color and non-binary women – to don black clothes and walk out of work at 3pm local time. Nelini reviews that impressive first week, and what the movement is about.

Then, SORAYA CHEMALY discusses her new, highly-researched book, Rage Becomes Her. It probes cultural messaging about anger – and the effects of that messaging – on every era of women’s lives, from the cradle onward. The footnotes section is both impressive and sad – impressive because it is so. Darn. Thorough. And sad because – as the author is a woman – research tells us she's viewed as inherently less credible, and she has to work that much harder showing her work.

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Guest: WV's Bob Kincaid: Also: With Kavanaugh on SCOTUS, a hurricane headed toward FL, UN releases a stark new report on climate change...
By Brad Friedman on 10/8/2018 6:40pm PT  

On today's BradCast: In case it wasn't clear until now, the stakes for November's midterms couldn't be higher --- for the nation and for the planet --- leading to what might be a difficult choice for some voters. At this point, however, at least in my opinion --- as discussed at the opening of thd show today --- the choices are not difficult at all. [Audio link to show follows below.]

It's now official. Judge Brett Kavanaugh --- alleged sexual assaulter and demonstrably repeated perjurer --- is now Justice Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Supreme Court. That means that all five serving Republican appointees on the (currently) nine-person Court, serve under one cloud of illegitimacy or another. That said, while there are ways to reverse the terrifying course the nation (and planet) are now on --- including a difficult path towards restoring a majority to the stolen Court that might actually represent the majority of the country --- it will be neither easy nor painless. Nonetheless, the first major step on that path is the November 6th, 2018 midterm elections less than one month away, and now more crucial than ever.

As if another violent reminder of dangers that now lie ahead, Hurricane Michael is now barreling toward the Florida Gulf Coast, threatening to make landfall in the next day or two, and the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a chilling new report on Monday, warning the worst effects of global warming are now set to arrive far sooner than previously predicted by the conservative scientific body. The new report details, among other things, the enormous contrast in impacts based on the half of a degree Celsius difference between holding the earth's warming to 1.5 degrees over pre-industrial times versus the 2 degrees or more where we are almost certainly headed unless very serious changes --- with "no documented historic precedent" --- are made by civilization, very quickly over the next 10 years. Are the corporate media up to the task of covering this? Much less civilization doing what is now needed?

With all of that (and much more) at stake, we are joined today by the inimitable BOB KINCAID of West Virginia's Coal River Mountain Watch and the Head-On Radio Network (HORN) to discuss WV Senator Joe Manchin's weekend vote in favor of Kavanaugh. He was the only Democratic Senator to do so, despite the nearly 10 point average lead he currently enjoys over his Republican re-election opponent in pre-election polling. Specifically, we focus on why Manchin voted the way he did and, more importantly, the difficult choice that voters like Kincaid now face in choosing between the barely Democratic Senator and his far-right, Trump-endorsed challenger Pat Morrissey.

With hopes of regaining control of one or both houses of Congress now the only way to begin putting the brakes on our Trump/GOP-inflicted national emergency, will progressives be able to hold their nose and vote for some candidates who they would never have even considered voting for during a primary season in which the Democratic Party was finally forced, at least a little bit, towards the progressive left? It's a question that many progressives --- not just in West Virginia --- will now have to seriously ask themselves before November, with many less-than-perfect Democrats on the ballot, but the very fate of the Republic and the planet now clearly on the line.

"Joe Manchin is a 'pro-life' Democrat from way back, going way back to when he was just a little, bitty, grasping, ambition-driven state senator," Kincaid argues, charging that both he and Kavanaugh are hard-core Roman Catholics" and that "He voted the Church doctrine. It's just clear as day."

Kincaid, who comes from generations of WV coal miners, is nonetheless a dyed-in-the-wool progressive who, on previous appearances on the show, has both strongly criticized Manchin and explained how difficult it would be to even consider voting for him in the midterm. The last time Kincaid was on, back in April, he described Manchin thusly: "This is really difficult for me, because Joe's a Democrat the way I'm Neptune, Lord of the Deep. Ya know, not at all."

Today, he says, for those who wonder how Manchin could "dismiss the experiences and the suffering of so many women and vote for a guy credibly accused of sexual assault? Let me explain to you: Joe Manchin has sat around for at least eight years, fully knowing what the toxic consequences are of mountaintop removal on babies in the womb, pregnant mothers, grandmothers, grandsons, sons, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors, possums, everything. He has known that it poisons his own constituents, kills his own constituents, and yet he has slavishly continued to support that practice and ignored every bit of the science around it." He adds that "We have about a thousand deaths a year in the counties in West Virginia where mountaintop removal is practiced."

"I say all that," he tells me, "hoping that people will understand that I do not come to a decision about Joe Manchin lightly. I would not trust Joe Manchin with the carcass of a run-over skunk."

So, with the stakes now as high as they are, does he still find himself unable to vote for Manchin? And what of other progressives who may still believe that sitting this one out or voting "third party" or staying home instead of voting is the only way to cleanse the Democratic Party of its overly-conservative, overly-corporatist establishment? Please tune in for this important conversation with Kincaid today, that, he says, "he spent a long time thinking about" after he and I had a private discussion over the weekend, begging the question: "Do I vote as an American first, or a West Virginian first?"

Please listen to today's show and let me know, in comments below, how you feel about either his points or mine.

Finally, as voter registration deadlines end this week in more than a third of the states, the disturbingly high purge rates of voting rolls in a number of them continues. Particularly of concern are states with a history of racial discrimination at the polling place, who --- until the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013 --- had been required to receive preclearance from the federal government for such purges. A new list of purged GA voters has finally been obtained by reporter Greg Palast, who has created a searchable database for hundreds of thousands of purged GA voters, but the deadline to re-register is Tuesday. And the lists from other states are not as easily accessible. Please go to your state and/or county website to register or check your status as soon --- and as often --- as possible between now and November 6th! Yes, the fate of the planet now rests on it...

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Guest: Fordham Law's Jed Shugerman; Also: More reported vote.org registration probs; Vote-flipping in MO; Willie Nelson's 'Vote 'em Out!'...
By Brad Friedman on 10/5/2018 6:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the GOP's far-right take-over of the U.S. Supreme Court for generations --- including one blatantly stolen seat and two men accused of sexual misconduct and/or assault --- is now all but complete, and we discuss an upcoming SCOTUS case that some have cited as reason for the Trump/GOP panic to get their man on the bench as soon as possible. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

On Friday, the four theoretically previously-undecided U.S. Senators announced how they planned to vote on the confirmation of accused sexual assaulter and confirmed liar Brett Kavanaugh for his lifetime appointment to SCOTUS. Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska announced her intention to vote against him, while Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Democrat Joe Manchin all declared they will vote in favor of the most contentious nominee to the high court, perhaps in U.S. history. We discuss what all of that means today, moving forward, as the far-right cements its stolen majority. As you might imagine, both Desi and I have some thoughts on all of that today.

Then, we're joined by legal historian and Fordham Law School professor JED SHUGERMAN, author of The People's Courts, to discuss the upcoming Supreme Court case that many Trump opponents have cited in recent days as one of the explanations for Republicans' apparent panic to seat Kavanaugh on the Court as quickly as possible. The case, Gamble v. U.S., involves what some on both the Right and civil libertarian Left consider to be unconstitutional double jeopardy regarding an Alabama man who was convicted at both the state and federal levels for unlawful possession of a firearm. Some Trump critics have suggested, depended on how its decided, that the case could result in states being barred from prosecuting Donald Trump, his associates, or his family members in the event that they are pardoned at the federal level.

Shugerman --- who was one of more than 2,400 legal professors to sign on to a recent letter published by the New York Times calling on the Senate to reject Kavanaugh's nomination due to his lack of appropriate judicial temperament --- explains why he believes the Gamble case poses no threat to state prosecutions of Trump and/or his associates, nor to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and prosecution of Team Trump.

He also explains today why he signed the public letter opposing Kavanaugh, how it now may affect lawyers who signed it when arguing cases before Justice Kavanaugh, why he believes the GOP has been in such a hurry to seat Kavanaugh, and the "completely unprecedented" public opposition to him by former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

Shugerman also describes some of his major concerns for the Court once Kavanaugh is finally in place: how Chief Justice John Roberts is going to be forced to deal with it. "How is he going to manage this explosive controversy and the unprofessional conduct, the injudicious conduct, of Judge Kavanaugh? How will he restore consensus to this Court? How will he manage Judge Kavanaugh, given that he should have reason to fear that Judge Kavanaugh cannot be balanced, and won't be perceived to be balanced when he's on the Court?"

Finally today, some listener mail regarding more voter registration problems via the vote.org service (we recommend registering either in-person or via your Sec. of State or County website, rather than via third-party app, is possible); the first reports of 100% unverifiable touchscreen vote-flipping in the general election (in the very close U.S. Senate race in Missouri between Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill and her GOP challenger Josh Hawley); and Willie Nelson's new song, Vote 'em Out!, debuted for the first time at last weekend's 55,000-person rally in Texas, in support of Democratic Congressman Beto O'Rourke's surging campaign against Lone Star State Republican Sen. Ted Cruz...

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Also: Enthusiasm for midterms high in BOTH parties, TX voter registrations in limbo, young voter turnout may prove decisive...
By Brad Friedman on 10/4/2018 6:25pm PT  

On today's BradCast, what else? The FBI's sham "investigation" of Kavanaugh and news of great note regarding the November midterm elections. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The FBI's supplemental background report on U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was released on Thursday morning. Just one copy was made available to U.S. Senators only. It received much criticism from Senate Democrats and much approval from Senate Republicans who couldn't even have possibly read it by the time they were lauding it. The release comes on the heels of the National Council of Churches calling for Kavanaugh's nomination to be withdrawn "immediately", and more than 2,400 law professors (and counting) signing onto a statement seeking the same. Nonetheless, even before the "White House Whitewash" of a report was even released, Republicans scheduled a final floor vote on the confirmation of the most partisan, dishonest nominee the nation has likely ever seen.

Even 98-year old retired Justice John Paul Stevens, appointed by Republican President Gerald Ford and who lauded Kavanaugh in a 2014 book, announced he is now opposing his confirmation following his angry and partisan testimony last week in the Senate Judiciary Committee in response to multiple sexual assault allegations. Justice Steven suggested --- as the churches and law professors did --- that Kavanaugh has proven he lacks the appropriate judicial temperament for a lifetime appointment on the U.S. Supreme Court.

But, even with hundreds of anti-Kavanaugh protesters descending on the Senate today, the only thing that ultimately matters will be the votes of five undecided U.S. Senators. One of them, Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who faces a tight re-election contest in Trump-leaning North Dakota in November, announced on Thursday she is a "No" on Kavanaugh. The others, Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) have yet to commit, though Flake and Collins said on Thursday they found the FBI investigation --- which failed to interview dozens of witnesses, including Kavanaugh himself and his first accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford --- to offer no new corroboration to the allegations against the nominee. Collins says she found it to be "very thorough". Manchin, who, according to polling, is comfortably ahead of his Republican opponent this November --- even in state Trump won by 42 points in 2016 --- is reportedly "leaning 'Yes'" on Kavanaugh.

If all Dems vote against and just two Republicans join them, the confirmation will be killed. The first procedural vote, to invoke cloture and move to the final vote, is scheduled for tomorrow.

In the meantime, the divisive issue has helped fuel enthusiasm for the crucial November midterms by both Democrats and Republicans, according to new polling, which also finds younger voters far less likely to vote this year, sadly. The Democrats' hoped-for "blue wave" may rest on turnout of young voters, and may not be quite as certain as many believe, particularly with obstacles preventing voters from registering (the deadline for doing so comes up this weekend in many key states), from voting and from having votes verifiably counted as cast.

While last week's National Voter Registration Day was an unexpected success, thousands of citizens who registered to vote in Texas via the non-profit Vote.org will not be added to the rolls, according to a new report. That could be troubling news for a number of races in the Lone Star state, not the least of which is the contest between GOP Senator Ted Cruz and his surging Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with news on Big Oil's big win in the new NAFTA, several Category 5 storms spinning at the same time in the Pacific, a new record low for Arctic sea ice, and the big news of Tesla's Big Battery which is a big hit for South Australia's power grid...

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Guests: AUDIT-USA's Emily Levy and attorney Chris Sautter; Also: Reports of FBI ignoring dozens of Kavanaugh witnesses persist, Trump mocks accuser, Americans can't wait to vote...
By Brad Friedman on 10/3/2018 6:56pm PT  

We work hard on today's BradCast to stay focused on the crucial upcoming elections, even as Brett Kavanaugh's cavalcade of shame continues in D.C. [Audio link to full show posted below.]

Senate Republicans intensified their push for a floor vote as soon as possible, even as reports persist that the FBI is either refusing or failing to interview dozens of witnesses in their supplemental background probe of Kavanaugh following sexual assault against the U.S. Supreme Court nominee. At the same time, former classmates and clerks of Kavanaugh are retracting previous support for him, and three key Republican Senators (Flake, Collins and Murkowski) gently rebuked Donald Trump on Wednesday for mocking Kavanaugh's first accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, at a campaign rally in Mississippi on Tuesday night.

Amidst that circus, it's no easy feat to stay focused on the crucial upcoming midterm elections. But we try. And so are an extraordinary number of Americans. Today we learn that last week, on National Voter Registration Day, more than 800,000 signed up to vote, stunning organizers and smashing the previous record of 771,000 who registered on National Voter Registration Day in 2016, before the Presidential election.

But, even with all of the apparent enthusiasm, will all of those new and previous voters be allowed to vote this year? If so, will their votes be counted, tallied accurately, and in a way that the public can know they have been tallied accurately? In recent days, corporate media --- right on schedule --- has suddenly begun to churn out articles questioning the accuracy and security of our wildly insecure and frequently inaccurate electronic voting and tabulation systems...once its largely too late to do much about any of it, just weeks before an election. (That, of course, is why we have been trying to do so year 'round over the past 15 years!)

The corporate election vendors who have been allowed to privatize our public elections with systems that have long ago (over a decade ago) been found to be easily hacked --- and which have failed in election after election --- continue to sell their flawed systems to officials and offer false claims about security to the public.

One of those companies, Election Systems & Software, LLC (ES&S), the nation's largest voting system vendor, has now threatened a lawsuit against a small, non-profit election transparency organization which has been fighting to encourage election officials to take advantage of a security setting available on newer models of paper ballot scanners made by ES&S and others. The group, AUDIT-USA, has been sent a cease and desist letter [PDF] by ES&S corporate attorneys objecting to the organization posting user manuals for their scanners that capture digital images of ballots when they are scanned. The group has been working to encourage states and counties to make sure those which use the newer systems have them set to retain all such ballot images so they can potentially be reviewed by the public after an election. That, in lieu of the public being allowed to examine paper ballots themselves in order to assure unverified computer-tabulated results are accurate.

We're joined today by long-time election integrity champion EMILY LEVY of AUDIT-USA and their long-time election attorney CHRIS SAUTTER of American University, to discuss the ES&S threat letter sent to the group last week, charging copyright infringement for making their instruction manuals available to the public. The letter, as we discuss, fails to even cite security concerns. Levy notes the irony in this case, given that AUDIT-USA is actually supporting the newer ES&S systems for their security feature that many election officials appear unaware of.

"What we've found from talking to election officials around the country is that a lot of them don't really understand the systems that they're using in their own counties," Levy tells me. "They don't understand why they need ballot images when they have the paper ballots. And they don't understand that, in order to preserve the ballot images, all they need to do is not change the settings that the machines come with. The default settings on the machines are to preserve the ballot images, and it's only by having someone --- whether a vendor working for them or elections officials themselves --- changing those settings that the ballot images get destroyed.

"So we want people to understand both the importance of the ballot images and preserving them --- that it's legally required to preserve them, just as it is to preserve all election materials. And that's it's not a difficult thing to do."

Sautter argues the information in question, as posted to their website, is in the public interest and, therefore, falls under the Fair Use Doctrine. "Cease and desist letters like the one that ES&S sent AUDIT-USA are a common form of intimidation," he says. "These companies have a lot of money, and sometimes they figure, well, we can overpower them, we'll file this lawsuit and we'll try to break this little non-profit in attorneys fees and we'll set an example."

As we also discuss, threats of lawsuits by voting system vendors against voting system experts and computer scientists have been going on for years (here's The BRAD BLOG exclusive from 2008 that I cite on the show), even as tax payers continue dolling out billions of dollars to these shameless and irresponsible private companies...

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

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Guest: Journalist David Dayen on new NAFTA, CA's new Net Neutrality law (and DoJ lawsuit), Amazon's new minimum wage; Also: Senate Repubs hope to force vote, bury FBI probe on U.S. Supreme Court nominee...
By Brad Friedman on 10/2/2018 6:27pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the FBI investigation into multiple allegations of sexual assault and belligerent drunken behavior by U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh continues, as Republicans in the U.S. Senate prepare to force a vote on his confirmation before Senators, much less the public, get a full look at the information gathered by the brief and limited probe. As that shameful illustration of a process broken by Republicans for the nation's highest court plays out, a number of other noteworthy news stories slip through the cracks just over one month before the crucial 2018 midterm elections. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

On Sunday, California's Governor signed a Net Neutrality bill into law, meant to replace the Obama-era consumer protection that was gutted by the Trump Administration's Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Hours later, Trump's Dept. of Justice sued the Golden State to prevent the new law from taking effect. So much for the GOP's pretend love of "states rights".

On Monday, Trump announced "a brand new deal to terminate and replace NAFTA" [the North American Free Trade Agreement] with a "totally" new deal between the U.S., Canada and Mexico as "the biggest trade deal in United States History." Even though it is NAFTA 2.0, it will now be called, if adopted by the U.S. Congress (a big "if", as our guest explains today), the United States Mexico Canada Agreement, or USMCA.

And, on Tuesday, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos announced the company will be increasing their minimum wage for all workers, both permanent and seasonal, to $15/hour beginning next month, after years of attacks by critics for low wages paid by the world's second most valuable company.

We're joined by financial journalist and author DAVID DAYEN to discuss all three of those news items, whether they are a "Big Deal or No Big Deal?", and how the news may or may not affect the upcoming November elections.

On Amazon's increased wages, Dayen tells me it is "only going to bid the price of labor up. So that is a good thing." He also explains why it is "a political success for Bernie Sanders and this idea that you need to put pressure on these huge, monopolistic companies in order the get them to do right by their workers." But, he also warns, "there's an escape valve here for Amazon."

The new NAFTA includes an end to what Dayen calls the "corporate shakedown regime" in NAFTA's "horrendous" extrajudicial process for settling trade disputes between corporations and countries. That's a "huge deal" he says, which could help set a template to vastly improve other trade deals as well, and potentially increase wages for workers. But he also explains why unions are, nonetheless, not yet all in for the deal and notes that it can only be approved by the next Congress --- which will likely be far more Democratic than the current one --- if labor buys in.

On DoJ's challenge to California's own Net Neutrality law, Dayen explains, the Administration may have little choice but to try and block it, even as Republicans --- when it comes to states other than California, anyway --- argue states should decide what's best for their own residents. In the Golden State, however, "if you give net neutrality protections, if you allow the state of California to pass them, then that's going to migrate," he says. "There's a genuine concern that these regulations --- which of course were in place at the federal level and were taken out by FCC Chair Ajit Pai and the conservatives on the FCC --- would almost, by default, come back if this were allowed to stand. ... All that work they did at the FCC could be for naught."

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report, with record rainfall numbers from Hurricane Florence (and the giant mosquitoes which have arrived in its wake), the Trump Administration's use of catastrophic climate change data to justify a deadly rollback of Obama-era fuel efficiency standards, and the French President calling for the nations of the world to reject trade deals with any country who is not a party to the Paris Climate Agreement (that would include only the U.S., which has announced its intention of pulling out of the landmark pact as soon as allowable --- the first day after the Presidential election in 2020)...

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

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Guest: Attorney, journalist Jessica Mason Pieklo of Rewire.News; Also: More good news for Democrats in KS and in the U.S. House...
By Brad Friedman on 10/1/2018 6:35pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the Brett Kavanaugh circus continued over the weekend and into Monday, as the U.S. Supreme Court nominee now faces an expanded investigation by the FBI into multiple sexual assault allegations and --- depending on the breadth of that probe, which is up to the White House and/or Senate Republicans --- into his excessive drinking in high school and college. But it's his lies about it all today, not thirty years ago which are of the most note. [Audio link to show follows below.]

A number of Kavanaugh's fellow classmates have come forward in recent days to call him out for lying to Congress during his angry rebuttal testimony last Thursday in response to accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Those classmates report they have had trouble reaching the FBI to share their thoughts and observations. At the same time, the scope of the background probe is being questioned by Democrats, with conflicting reports about whether a witness list will be limited to a handful of people said to have been present during an alleged attempted rape by Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge in 1982, and the charge by accuser Deborah Ramirez that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during a drunken party at Yale.

All of that follows Sen. Jeff Flake's (R-AZ)'s dramatic request for a "limited" FBI probe as he voted in favor of Kavanaugh's nomination in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday. In a 60 Minutes interview on Sunday, Flake claimed that if Trump's SCOTUS nominee is shown to have lied to the Committee, his nomination would be over. But Kavanaugh demonstrably lied multiple times already in both his initial testimony and his emotional response to Ford on Thursday. We detail just a few of the small but unmistakable lies --- which were non-partisan, non-political, and non-ideological --- that the longtime GOP operative turned federal judge offered to the Committee last week regarding his high school yearbook page on which he used slang references to several sex acts, his own excessive use of alcohol, and then lied about all of them, under oath (a felony), to the U.S. Senate.

We're joined today by former litigator turned journalist and podcast host JESSICA MASON PIEKLO of Rewire.News, to discuss what we know --- and don't --- about the FBI probe, who they should talk to if it is to be a legitimate investigation, and the "window into Judge Kavanaugh's judicial temperament" revealed on Thursday before being all too happily ignored by the bulk of GOP Senators.

"You might remember during the Sonia Sotomayor confirmation hearings," she reminds us, "Sen. Lindsey Graham, for example, spent a lot of time on Justice Sotomayor's temperament and writings she had done about her experience growing up as a Latina, and what that brought to her judging." Graham doesn't seem to care all that much of such concerns anymore, it seems.

"So, while we have some really serious and, in some cases, salacious allegations against Judge Kavanaugh, the confirmation hearing isn't a criminal trial. This is about probing his temperament for the bench. And federal judicial standards say that you have to have a judicial temperament that includes no evidence of excessive partisanship, for example," Pielko, who Tweets as "Hegemommy", observes. "We have a whole list of things that, so far, indicate he does not have the temperament to sit on the Supreme Court, let alone retain his seat on the D.C. Court of Appeals, frankly."

"We have allegations against Judge Kavanaugh, and evidence that suggests that he misled Senate Judiciary Committee members under oath, if not outright lied. And that, in itself, is disqualifying," she tells me, while detailing how the FBI's investigation could also help to exonerate Kavanaugh. "Their job is to get as much information from both sides of these allegations. It's actually an extension of the 'advice and consent' and disclosure processes that is supposed to happen in the routine course of nominations."

We also discuss what may happen to the information gathered by the FBI after its handed over to the White House and whether the Senate, much less the public, will ever be allowed to see it. And, we talk about what may happen --- and how Democrats should move forward hereafter --- once Kavanaugh is either rejected or confirmed for a lifetime seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Finally, some new polling is out showing that Kansas' Secretary of State and infamous GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach could be in trouble in his bid to become Governor against Democrat Laura Kelly (and independent Greg Orman), and there are still more new signs that Republicans are heading into triage mode to try and save their U.S. House majority from a possible "blue wave" in the November midterm elections...

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

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Guest-host Angie Coiro's audio documentation of a harrowing day in the U.S. Senate as Jeff Flake confronts history; Also: Counseling for assault survivors in wake of hearings with guest Dr. Lashanda Nalls...
By Angie Coiro on 9/28/2018 5:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast, I'm your guest host --- Angie Coiro, of In Deep with Angie Coiro. Brad and Des have one more day on the road!

Special note to anyone in our audience who's suffered trauma hearing about or watching the Kavanaugh hearings: the last segment of today's show is for you. My guest is DR. LASHANDA NALLS, Director of Trauma Therapy at Our Resilience in Chicago. Empathy and advice from the front lines, for both survivors and anyone in their loving circle. If you want to skip the rest and go right to that segment of the show, it's 45 minutes and 53 seconds into the show. And my most fervent wishes for your well-being.

Jeff Flake will go down in history as a split-the-difference kinda guy. It was his "neither this nor that" stance at the end of today's hearing that might well spell the end for SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh. I refer in today's show to an image on the New York Times story - a screen capture of a video by Erin Schaff. A man with much on his mind.

Flake voted yes, but not until he threw a wrench in the works: he wants an FBI investigation over the next week. It was utterly unclear even to his colleagues whether that was a motion or not - I've got the audio in the show for you - but it started the dominoes falling. Lisa Murkowski joined him in his stance. Mark Judge, the sole alleged witness to the assault on Ford, agreed to cooperate with the FBI. Finally, Donald Trump followed suit.

So was Flake's conscience sparked by Ford's story, or the other allegations, or the protesters --- more sexual assault victims --- who followed him to an elevator and made him listen? Or did he reach sudden clarity on what this episode will look like to future generations, and decide he'd better straddle that line but quick?

It doesn't matter, ultimately. The dominoes are down.

Download MP3 or listen 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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