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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, April 17, 2021
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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern on that and WV GOP's state Supreme Court coup; Also: Massive voting system failures in AZ primary...
By Brad Friedman on 8/28/2018 6:22pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Details on the extraordinary court ruling out of North Carolina on Monday, and the judicial coup being staged in West Virginia. But first, voters went to the polls for Tuesday's primary elections in Arizona and Florida and in Oklahoma for primary runoff elections. It did not go well in Arizona. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Maricopa County (Phoenix)'s paper ballot optical-scan computer systems failed in at least 100 precincts, according to the County Recorder. Many polling places were closed entirely this morning, and it was nearly noon before the systems were said to finally be working in all precincts. It's still unclear what the precise failure was, but the new County Recorder Adrian Fontes (who won his election after the previous, long-time Recorder was booted out for shutting polling places during the 2016 Primaries), tied it to pre-election tests that failed on Monday, and then a lack of contractors from the voting machine company (Dominion Voting) on hand to properly set up the systems before polls were to open today. "The contractor responsible for the voting machines was supposed to provide more than 100 technicians to assist with issues, but only 70 were available," the Arizona Republic reports Fontes as telling them at a news conference this morning. If we learn more, of course, we'll share it on tomorrow's show along with noteworthy problems and results in all three states holding elections today.

Then, following up on a story that broke minutes before airtime on Monday, we're joined today by Slate's excellent legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN to detail the extraordinary ruling issued by a three judge federal court panel finding all of North Carolina's U.S. House districts --- for a second time --- to be partisan gerrymanders in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Remarkably, the judges are considering ordering new maps to be drawn up before this November's elections, after already having found last January that Republicans had unlawfully gerrymandered the state's U.S. House districts. That ruling, however, was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court which punted in June by ordering the lower court to review matters of standing. After having done so, the three-judge panel found the same Constitutional infirmities.

"The real villain here, in a sense --- aside from the Republicans, who obviously drew these incredibly gerrymandered maps --- is the Supreme Court and Justice Anthony Kennedy," says Stern. "A virtually identical ruling came down in January, at which point the US Supreme Court could have and should have acted on this question of partisan gerrymandering. Instead, the Supreme Court punted [and] sent this case back down for reconsideration. Now the [lower] court has reached the same conclusion it did in January."

The map in question was the one drawn up in 2016 after the state's previous GOP-drawn map, used in 2012 and 2014, was found to have been an unlawful racial gerrymander. So, Stern explains, the federal judges in North Carolina seem to have had enough and may now order new maps "on this incredibly compressed timetable where the election is looming" in just over 70 days, ballots need to go out to overseas voters 45 days in advance, and the state's primaries were already been held in May.

The unconstitutional maps have resulted in a wildly unbalanced 10 to 3 GOP majority in the state's Congressional delegations, despite North Carolina's status as a very divided swing state which narrowly elected Obama in 2008, Trump in 2016, and a Democrat to be its Governor in that same election. If the matter is appealed to SCOTUS by the state (as it almost certainly will be), the Supremes could deadlock 4 to 4, if Justice Kennedy's seat has yet to be filled, and the lower court ruling would stand. We could be in for a lot of chaos ahead (as if we need any more this year.)

Stern also explains the astonishing situation in West Virginia, where that state's Republican-majority House of Delegates recently impeached all four sitting members of the state's Supreme Court. (Its 5th member had already resigned after been charged with a felony crime.) The move, Stern reports, was timed in such a way to avoid allowing voters to replace the justices at the ballot box this year. That means the previously 3 to 2 Democratic-leaning court may soon become a 5 to 0 Republican court, and stay that way through 2020. Following impeachment trials of the justices in the state Senate, any vacancies will be filled by the appointments of Trump-loving Republican Gov. Jim Justice, a Democrat when he ran and won the Governor's race in 2016, but who flipped parties shortly thereafter.

"There are no good guys, per se, in this story," Stern notes. However, it serves as yet another example of Republicans blatantly hoping to pack the courts, and could prove to be another useful example that Democrats could cite in the future. If they ever re-take control of the U.S. House, Senate and White House, they'll be able to cite such moves when and if they decide to move to add seats to the U.S. Supreme Court in order to restore a majority that should have been theirs, until Senate Republicans stole a vacant seat in 2017 after holding it open for nearly a year following the early 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Speaking of that stolen U.S. Supreme Court, Stern also offers his thoughts on whether Senate Democrats will be able to block --- or even stall --- the seating of Donald Trump's second nominee to the Court. Judge Brett Kavanaugh's Senate Judiciary Confirmation hearings are currently scheduled to begin next week and, Stern argues, "he owes an explanation as to why he thinks it's perfectly valid and legitimate and acceptable to be nominated by a racist and openly corrupted President to the Supreme Court."

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report on, among other things, the record rainfall in Hawaii following Hurricane Lane over the weekend, and the complicated climate legacy of the late Republican U.S. Senator and former GOP Presidential nominee, John McCain.

(And, on a related note, next week will be our 900th episode of the GNR! If you have not contributed lately to our efforts to continue connecting the climate change dots over your public airwaves for the past 10 years --- along with all else that we do --- please consider doing so now by stopping by BradBlog.com/Donate! Thanks! We rely only on you to keep going! But, don't do it for me! Do it for Desi! Pretty please?)

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Guest: Conrad Schneider of Clean Air Task Force; Also: Presidency collapsing; Hawaii v. Hurricane Lane; McCain's cancer battle nears end; GA county nixes poll closures; Repub wins U.S. House Special Election...
By Brad Friedman on 8/24/2018 6:36pm PT  

Before we get to our guest on today's BradCast, a number of news items (and that may be an understatement) of note. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

  • First, the latest in the quickening collapse of the Trump Presidency, as his darkest week gets darker by the day, now including the Chief Financial Officer of the Trump Organization reportedly being granted immunity to cooperate with federal prosecutors in their ongoing probe(s) of all manner of criminality by Donald J. Trump and his 2016 campaign;
  • Hurricane Lane is already wreaking havoc in Hawaii as it very slowly sweeps near the islands, dumping catastrophic amounts of rain (35 inches in 48 hours on the Big Island!) in its wake; And, speaking of Hawaii, listeners answer our call in response to a question we had yesterday regarding a slang Hawaiian term used by Sen. Mazie Hirono's (D-HI) in cancelling her planned meeting with Trump's U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, charging that "an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal matter, does not deserve the courtesy of a meeting with his nominee --- purposely selected to protect, as we say in Hawaii, his own okole";
  • Senator John McCain's family announced on Friday that he will no longer accept medical treatment in his year long battle against terminal brain cancer. We discuss, a bit, what that could mean for Trump's Supreme Court nominee in advance of Arizona's midterm primaries, with Gov. Doug Ducey (R), who would appoint McCain's successor, on the ballot next Tuesday. Also, we note, the President's appalling recent behavior towards the ailing Senator;
  • In Ohio's 12th Congressional District, Troy Balderson (R) is finally officially declared the winner over Danny O'Connor (D) in the U.S. House Special election held nearly three weeks ago. Balderson is said to have won by a razor-thin 1,680 votes out of more than 200,000 votes cast on the 100% unverifiable touchscreen systems used on Election Day in the previously very Republican district. The margin is just over the amount that would have triggered an automatic, state-sponsored "recount". The two candidates will face off yet again in November's general election, when a number of factors, as we discuss, could tip the advantage to O'Connor;
  • And, in Georgia, as we predicted on yesterday's BradCast, the Randolph County Board of Elections quickly rejected a proposal to shutter 7 of 9 precincts in the majority African-American county in advance of the November midterms. The scheme, which used the pretext of violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), was proffered by a consultant hired by the County at the recommendation of GOP Sec. of State Brian Kemp. The plan had drawn national outrage in a year when Kemp is running for Governor against Stacey Abrams, who could become the nation's first female African-American chief of state;

Then, as the nation is justifiably distracted by a Presidency quickly spiraling out of control, his policies continue to move forward nonetheless, including this week's major new (if little covered) Trump EPA proposal to "repeal and replace" Obama's landmark 2015 "Clean Power Plan", which would otherwise reduce deadly and climate change causing emissions from coal-fired power plants with something the Administration is calling the "Affordable Clean Energy Rule". By the Administration's own admissions, the Trump scheme would lead annually to at least 1,400 premature American deaths over Obama's plan, and result in tens of thousands of news cases of respiratory illness each year.

CONRAD SCHNEIDER, former U.S. Dept. of Justice trial attorney and current Advocacy Director at the non-profit Clean Air Task Force and lecturer on Environmental Law and Policy at Maine's Bowdoin College, joins us to explain the dangers --- and coal-industry corruption --- of what he calls the EPA's new "Dirty Power Plan".

"Thousands and thousands of Americans would die prematurely under the Trump plan whose lives would have been saved under the Obama plan," Schneider warns. "And that's just the tip of a pyramid of health effects that include hospital visits, emergency room visits, asthma attacks, children missing school days and adults missing work as a result of the pollution that would occur here" in what he describes as "just the latest of [Trump's] efforts to try to resuscitate the coal industry."

But, he also cautions, "this political promise" to the industry "runs headlong into the requirements of the Clean Air Act" and so, Schneider predicts, the plan may well face problems in court, where he promises, "we'll be arguing that as much as they might want to throw a lifeline to coal, the Clean Air Act is not the appropriate venue to do that."

"What we are doing here is we are fiddling while the planet burns. We're fighting things in court, when we really don't have the time to waste," he tells me, as we discuss why it is that the Trump Administration's many attempts at reversing Obama Administration environmental protections --- from water rules, to chemical plant safety regulations, to the Keystone XL pipeline (to name only a few from the past few weeks) --- continue to be blocked, overturned or delayed, by one federal court after another...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Trump's dark week gets darker; Dems nix SCOTUS nom meetings; Majority of Repubs support 'Medicare for All'; Very bad polling news for GOP; GA county poll closure scam falls apart; Hurricane Lane threatens Hawaii...
By Brad Friedman on 8/23/2018 6:30pm PT  

Like the news cycle, we're all over the place on today's BradCast with politics, accountability and corruption news, democracy and voting news, green news and court news and much much more. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the many stories covered today...Some Democratic Senators are now refusing to meet with Donald Trump's U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, following the convictions of Trump's campaign chair Paul Manafort and the guilty pleas of his personal lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen, implicating the President himself in a conspiracy to commit serious criminal campaign finance felonies.

On related fronts today: Trump has now finally admitted (after years of lies about it by him and his staff) that he did, in fact, make hush-money payouts to women before the 2016 election; Cohen's lawyer Lanny Davis offers more details on what his client may know regarding Trump's early knowledge of hacked DNC emails before they were released in 2016; and Trump's longtime friend David Pecker [pictured above], who runs the National Enquirer and helped kill stories about Trump's mistresses, is reportedly now cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller after being granted an immunity deal.

Also, a Trump-supporting juror from the first Manafort trial says there was only one person on the jury who prevented him from being found guilty on all 18 counts of tax and bank fraud, versus the 8 on which he was found guilty. A mistrial was declared on the 10 other counts.

A new Reuters poll today finds that more than 70% of Americans now support a "Medicare for All" styled universal healthcare program, including a majority of Republicans. And a new poll from Fox "News" offers an avalanche of bad news for Trump and Republicans in advance of the 2018 midterm elections. (For example, Mueller is more popular than Trump by double-digits, and other numbers that may spell trouble in November.)

Speaking of which, following a public outcry, Randolph County, Georgia, whose two-person Board of Elections is set to vote on a proposal to close 7 of 9 polling places before the November election in the majority African-American county, now admits it has no evidence to support the claim that those precincts need to be closed due to violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Moreover, it has now fired the consultant --- hired on the recommendation of GA Sec. of State Brian Kemp (the Republican nominee for Governor this year) --- who urged the poll closures at, what he initially said, had been Kemp's recommendation.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report on the Trump EPA's deadly new proposed rule to replace Obama's landmark "Clean Power Plan", the Administration's spate of recent court failures blocking their attempts to overturn environmental protections, and the latest news on Hurricane Lane which is bearing down on Hawaii and threatening record rainfall among other potential dangers which, the Governor warns, could cripple the island for several weeks...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 8/23/2018 11:01am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Hawaii braces for rare impact from powerful hurricane; EPA admits Trump's replacement for the Clean Power Plan will kill thousands of Americans; PLUS: Some good news --- the Trump Administration keeps losing environmental court cases... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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

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

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Air pollution is shortening your life. Here’s how much; Big oil asks government to protect it from climate change; The cruelty behind Trump’s absurd lies about coal to West Virginians; Wisconsin utilities are moving away from coal, regardless of Trump's policies; What Trump’s coal and car plans could mean for climate change; Saudi Arabia denies reports that it's scrapping Aramco IPO; Energy companies and allies are turning the law against protesters; Crop damage mounts for EU farmers after torrid summer; How wildfires can affect climate change (and vice versa); The G.O.P.’s climate of paranoia... PLUS: What happened at Camp Lejeune... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton; Also: Primary results from WY, AK; Hurricane bears down on HI; Rep. Duncan Hunter, wife indicted on 60 counts of fraud, campaign finance violations...
By Brad Friedman on 8/22/2018 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the fallout, both political and legal, continues today after the extraordinary news events of the past 24 hours, when Donald Trump's former campaign chair Paul Manafort was found guilty of eight federal felonies and the President's longtime personal attorney and 'fixer', Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to another eight, including two that implicate Trump in a serious criminal campaign finance violation conspiracy related to hush-money payoffs made to two women just before the 2016 election. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But all of that wasn't the only bad news for Trump and Republicans yesterday. Late on Tuesday, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and his wife were indicted on 60(!) astonishing counts of fraud, conspiracy and campaign finance violations. Hunter was the second member of Congress to support Trump's 2016 run for President, after Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY), the first in the U.S. House to endorse him, was federally charged earlier this month with insider trading. Hunter's indictment may not be all that surprising if one is familiar with his (and his father's) track record of lying to the public. His previously-believed-to-be "safe" Republican House seat in his San Diego Congressional District may now be in peril.

All-in-all, it's starting to feel a whole lot like 2006, when a similar avalanche of failures and corruption by a GOP Administration and a scandal-ridden Republican House resulted in a "blue wave" election in November.

We're joined again today by Salon and Hullabaloo's award-winning opinion journalist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON, as we try to make sense of what feels, in her words, like "the weirdly unfamiliar impression that something real and recognizable had happened".

We discuss the fallout from the Manafort and Cohen guilty verdicts and pleas, including the new subpoena Cohen received today from the state of New York in the case against Trump's phony charitable foundation, and the remarkable statement from Cohen's attorney Lanny Davis last night, that his client "has knowledge on certain subjects that should be of interest to the special counsel," regarding Team Trump's infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians and the "computer crime of hacking" that year. Davis now says Cohen is "more than happy to tell the special counsel all that he knows."

"Digby" shares her thoughts on what surprised her from the Cohen plea deal, what all of this may mean for the President, the GOP and Democrats just over two months out from the crucial 2018 midterms and for Brett Kavanaugh, Trump's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Also today, a rare, if very dangerous, Category 5/4 Hurricane Lane bears down on Hawaii and we cover noteworthy results from Tuesday's primary elections in very Republican Wyoming and occasionally-independent Alaska, where a three-way race for Governor could result in a Republican win this November...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest-host Angie Coiro w/ 'Gaius Publius' (Thomas Neuburger); Also: Keeping the arts alive in the era of Trump, w/ David Gans, Meredith Hagedorn, Ronit Widmann-Levy...
By Angie Coiro on 8/17/2018 6:12pm PT  

Today's BradCast is guest hosted by me, Angie Coiro, host of In Deep with Angie Coiro.

The Toddler-in-Chief gives us all more fodder than we can stand for a news review: telling Vietnam vets they can’t tell the difference between napalm and Agent Orange; doubling down on pulling security clearances, because anyone dared challenge his authority to do so (those puny blowhards in the military and from the CIA!); and blaming everyone but himself for the skyrocketing price tag of his vanity parade. He showed us! He'll go to Paris and look at their parade, and buy himself some new fighter jets.

Then it's 'GAIUS PUBLIUS' - or rather, THOMAS NEUBURGER, who’s now publishing his commentaries under his real name. You may know his prolific work at Down with Tyranny. He's asked some provocative questions about unions vs. liberals, and how the Democrats fit into that picture. Just as we were speaking, word came down about Trump threatening to pull Bruce Ohr's security clearance. He had some choice words about that, too.

Finally: how arts groups and independent performers are navigating the dual challenge of diminishing funding and politically divided audiences. DAVID GANS is an itinerant independent musician; MEREDITH HAGEDORN founded the small, eclectic Dragon Theatre in a Silicon Valley suburb; and RONIT WIDMANN-LEVY is Director of Arts and Culture at the Oshman Family JCC , a multiple-venue events space. They all face different hurdles keeping their art vibrant.

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!




Guest: Tax policy expert Alexandra Thornton; Also: Great news for voters in MI! And, what exactly is Sen. Jeff Flake doing in Africa?...
By Brad Friedman on 8/1/2018 6:20pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Tax cuts by executive fiat? It may depend on what the definition of "cost" is. Republicans used to pretend to oppose "Imperial Presidencies" --- at least when the President in question was Barack Obama --- but, hey, things change. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up today, however, we begin with some good news for a change! The Michigan Supreme Court late on Tuesday, approved a wildly popular, non-partisan, grassroots anti-gerrymandering measure for this November's statewide ballot, after GOP opposition to the initiative. Michigan's Proposal 2 is just one of several encouraging election reforms that Michiganders will be able to vote for (or against) during this year's midterms. And, MI is just one of several states (along with Missouri, Utah, and Colorado) that will see citizen-driven initiatives to end the scourge of partisan redistricting on this year's ballot!

More good news: A U.S. court of appeals in California on Wednesday upheld a lower court ruling finding Donald Trump's executive order barring federal funds to so-called "sanctuary cities" as unconstitutional.

Then, several new studies find record corporate profits --- both before and after the Trump/GOP tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy late last year --- are being spent mostly on stock buybacks, rather than increased worker wages, as Republicans had pretended would be the case when they rammed last year's massive tax cuts through Congress. Those cuts have already raised the federal deficit above $1 trillion, rather than paying for themselves as promised.

At the same time, Trump's Dept. of Treasury is now said to be considering a controversial scheme to bypass Congress entirely in order to offer at least another $100 billion in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. We're joined today by ALEXANDRA THORNTON, former tax policy adviser to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, now Senior Director of Tax Policy for Economic Policy at the Center for American Progress. She tells me: "We already have very low taxes on capital income, capital gains, and now they want to make it lower."

Thornton explains Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's planned scheme that would reinterpret the word "cost" in the federal Revenue Act of 1918 in order to index the already very low tax rate on income earned via investment in stocks and real estate to inflation, and how doing so by executive branch fiat would most likely be unlawful. (At least the George W. Bush Administration found that to be the case when they considered a similar plan.)

"Here is this administration that's been talking about 'regulatory overreach' and wanting to get rid of all these regulations, and now they want to go beyond their authority to pass a regulation that gives this gigantic tax cut almost exclusively to the wealthy. It's incredibly hypocritical."

Thornton also debunks the long-held GOP "fairy tale" that tax cuts pay for themselves by growing the economy, rather than blowing holes in the national debt and deficit, and further helps explain why last year's tax cuts, as passed without any Democratic votes, may not be working quite as well as a campaign issue for Republicans before the midterms as they had hoped.

"This is all part of the conservative mantra that if we tax investment that'll slow down economic growth. There's really no evidence for that at all. Basically, what they say is that we need to cut taxes on any kind of income, and eventually that will mean that we'll be able to invest in more things in the economy which will make workers more productive, and when they become more productive their wages can go up and there will be more jobs. And it's a fairy tale. It's basically never happened. It doesn't work like that."

Finally today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cancelled this year's August Senate recess in hopes of ramming through a bunch of Trump's federal judicial nominees and his pick for the U.S. Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh. His hope was to do so before Republicans potentially lose their slim majority in the U.S. Senate in the fall elections. But that plan may be facing an unexpected hurdle from Arizona's outgoing U.S. Senator Jeff Flake, who is currently in Africa observing the hand-counting of hand-marked paper ballots in Zimbabwe's historic election. He may not be returning to D.C. anytime soon, according to some Senate staffers, which could stymie the possibility of any nominees being voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee (which is deadlocked at 10 to 10 without Flake's presence), and perhaps even prevent floor votes in a 49-49 Senate with both Flake and ailing fellow Arizona Senator John McCain both missing. Is Flake, who claims to be a Trump opponent (even while voting for most of his agenda anyway) finally taking some form of real action in response?...

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Guest-host Angie Coiro with Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dave Johnson...
By Angie Coiro on 7/30/2018 6:38pm PT  

On today's BradCast, you won't hear Brad or Desi --- because you'll be very busy hearing me. I'm the host of In Deep with Angie Coiro.

You may have been fooled for a second --- nah, you're too smart --- but casual observers might mistake Jeff Sessions' announcement of a new DOJ "Religious Liberty Task Force" as an effort to address genuine hate crimes, including attacks on Muslim Americans, Jewish Americans, and Sikh Americans. But of course not. He made it clear it’s about bakers afraid of serving LGBTQ customers, or taxpayers having to support icky women – that sort of thing. ANNIE LAURIE GAYLOR is co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. She puts this latest news in the wider context of Trump’s pro-Christian pandering. While we're at it, we look at how bad for basic civil rights Brett Kavanaugh would be on the Supreme Court.

More news headlines, then DAVE JOHNSON of Seeing The Forest ponders how the concepts of markets, capitalism, and socialism get contorted by propaganda. Even respectable journalists fall victim...

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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Also: Listeners respond to Dem plan to block Kavanaugh at SCOTUS...
By Brad Friedman on 7/12/2018 5:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast, let's join the President and pretend that he's been victorious once again! Or, let's discuss the reality of the havoc being wrought by both him and the party that supports him as they go even farther off the deep-end and hope to take everybody else with them. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Among the stories covered on today's broadcast, as we continue to counter the madness with actual, independently verifiable facts...

  • Trump wreaks absolute havoc at the NATO summit in Brussels, makes ridiculous demands that lead to an emergency meeting of our allies, and then declares he's fixed it all. He hasn't. But, let's pretend, as he claimed, that NATO is now a "fine-tuned machine". (Does that claim ring a bell?) We offer a fact-check on Trump's actual ridiculous claims and the realities behind them;
  • Back at home, Trump-fueled chaos similarly breaks out at a joint hearing of the U.S. House Oversight and Judiciary Committees during public testimony by longtime top FBI counter-intelligence official Peter Strzok, whose private text messages to his girlfriend, another FBI agent, have been cause for Trump, the GOP and rightwing media to pretend that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation was somehow part of a long "deep state" plot by the FBI to prevent Trump from being elected. Except he was elected. (Some plot!) And Mueller's probe has since resulted in dozens of indictments and guilty pleas from many top Trump campaign and White House officials. But we can keep pretending; In some remarkable audio from the insane hearing in the House today today, Strzok strikes back and helps reveal the Republican House witch-hunt against the Special Counsel for much of what it really is.
  • Speaking of reality, new data out from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and elsewhere reveals that not only have the Trump/GOP tax cuts from last December not resulted in increased pay for the "forgotten men and women" of the middle-class, as they'd promised, but workers are now actually making less than they did before the massive, deficit-blowing cuts which have resulted only in record profits for corporations and the already-wealthy;
  • And, finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with more on the existential threat Kavanaugh's seating poses to the environment, how a major oil company CEO is calling for a speed-up of the transition to electric vehicles, and how a world full of poo just might save itself...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 7/12/2018 11:23am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Environmental groups mobilize against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump's anti-regulation nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court; New report finds Trump Administration's proposed coal bailout means more pollution, and more death; Companies begin harnessing poo power to generate electricity in North Carolina and New York; PLUS: Shell Oil CEO calls on UK to speed up transition to electric vehicles... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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

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

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Wheeler tells EPA employees, ‘You can’t lead unless you listen'; House Republicans vote to gut lauded law that saved America’s fisheries; US judge allows lawsuits over Monsanto's Roundup to proceed to trial; In about-face, utilities urge EPA to keep mercury rule; Climate science denier sued by his allies at denial think tank; The Russian pipeline to Germany that Trump is so mad about, explained; Heatwave seems to make manmade climate change real for Americans; Bhopal: World’s worst industrial disaster is still unfolding; Scientists assessed the 'grim' options for using nuclear power for decarbonization ... PLUS: Russian mining firm puts Trump's face on its asbestos products... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




Guest: The Intercept's Ryan Grim on Senate Dem hopes of derailing Brett Kavanaugh; Also: The Administration's trade wars, new attacks on 'ObamaCare' keep undermining GOP voters...
By Brad Friedman on 7/11/2018 6:41pm PT  

On today's BradCast, Donald Trump's trail of destruction continues to spread, as Senate Democrats fumble for a strategy to oppose his new U.S. Supreme Court nominee. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, the President of the United States attacked Germany in advance of today's NATO summit in Brussels, charging one of our top European allies is "totally controlled by" and "a captive of Russia". Setting diplomatic failures and ironies aside, even worse destruction continues to be waged on Americans back home.

Trump's Administration escalated his trade war with China this week, announcing plans for another $200 billion in tariffs (taxes on the American people) on imported products, after China's dollar-for-dollar retaliation against Trump's previous round of tariffs on $34 billion in imported goods. The damage from that war is already being felt on the U.S. economy, particularly on farmers in Midwestern states, where sales have been plummeting for weeks after China stopped purchasing U.S. soy beans and other agricultural goods in response. BMW, the leading auto-exporter in the U.S., has now announced that new tariffs against China are leading the company to raise prices on SUVs, and move some of their manufacturing in South Carolina (and the jobs that go with it) out of the country --- to China. Vice-President Mike Pence is being dispatched this week to Midwestern states to try and convince GOP donors to stick with the party, despite the damage being done to those voters and companies in "red" states who had supported Trump.

As that self-destruction plays out, the Administration continues its pointless and cruel attacks on the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), even though those hurt by several newly announced cuts and refusals to make billions in legally-required payments to insurance companies (paid for by other insurance companies, not by tax-payers) --- as announced over the long holiday weekend, so few would notice --- serve to hurt mostly those who don't receive their healthcare via Obama's 2010 law. The new cuts and blocked payments, according to industry experts, will end up costing both consumers and the federal government itself much more money in the bargain, as premiums will now likely skyrocket again in 2019 and subsidy payments by the Government under the Affordable Care Act will be forced to rise along with them.

Then, we're joined by The Intercept's D.C. Bureau Chief RYAN GRIM to discuss the less-than-inspiring effort, so far, by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to unify his Democratic caucus against Trump's second U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Schumer is encouraging Americans to call their Senators in opposition to Kavanaugh, and Ryan reports that he is warning colleagues they face a serious backlash from their base voters if they fail to put up a brutal fight against the nominee's confirmation.

Nonetheless, Ryan's sources also suggest that Schumer's leadership on this critical issue (and others) is lacking, to put it nicely. He tells me that Schumer has determined, based on polling and the Dems' failed effort to block Neil Gorsuch, Trump's first nominee last year, that the opposition effort must focus on policy issues relating to Kavanaugh's record and the direct threat he poses to a host of hard-won Constitutional rights and statutes at SCOTUS. That, instead of a fierce procedural fight in response to the GOP's theft of the Court majority when they refused, in 2016, to vote on --- or even meet with --- President Obama's nominee to the court, Merrick Garland, for an entire year.

"He saw a lot of polling that was quite conclusive that the argument about substance was going to be the one that won out over the one over process," says Ryan.

That said, we discuss a number of options that Democrats could still pursue to block the nomination against the Republicans very thin Senate majority, including attempts to deny quorums in the Senate Judiciary Committee during Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings and/or walking out of the Capitol to deny a Constitutionally-required quorum to prevent a floor vote entirely before the November midterms. Ryan tells me that both options have been and are still being considered by some Democrats, while going on to explain some of the considerable risks those options pose and why Schumer is said to be shying away from such hardball tactics.

"It is something that has risen to the level of leadership conversations, but as of now, it's Schumer's opinion that can't be done," he tells me, adding: "I don't think anybody knows what the best path forward is. It's definitely something that's being considered. And the more attention there is to that strategy and the more pressure there is, then the more energized Senate Democrats are. So it's worth talking about, at a minimum."

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern on Judge Brett Kavanaugh, the Constitutional rights he is likely to help overturn, and his background as a Federalist Society-trained party 'apparatchik'...
By Brad Friedman on 7/10/2018 5:41pm PT  

Democrats, abortion rights activists, environmentalists and civil libertarians, among others, are beginning to marshal their forces in opposition to Donald Trump's pick to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court. But that fight will be an uphill battle with unapologetic Senate Republicans who blocked President Obama's pick for the court for nearly a year, now promising a vote before this November's midterms while they still enjoy the slimmest of majorities in the U.S. Senate.

On today's BradCast [audio file to show linked below], we look at the legal history and political background of Trump's nominee for the post, Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. We're joined for that conversation by Slate's great legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN, who has been covering all things SCOTUS for us of late.

Stern counters, among other things, Trump's assertion during his Monday night announcement that Kavanaugh is a "thought leader" and "brilliant jurist". He details how the 53-year old federal appeals court judge uses cookie-cutter legal phrases to describe his "judicial philosophy", as crafted for him by the right-wing Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation. Those phrases --- "A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law. A judge must interpret statutes as written. And a judge must interpret the Constitution as written." --- betray his years of dedication not to individual liberties or laws or the Constitution, but in service to the cause of GOP politics.

"He's doing what Neil Gorsuch did," Stern tells me, "which is to spew out these lines which sound good, if you're not very attuned to legal argot. But what they really mean is 'I'm going to do whatever the hell I want, and I'm going to ascribe this pretextual, orginalist, textualist gleam to it in order to make it seem like I'm maintaining my independence and not just doing favors for Republicans.'"

Stern cites, as evidence, a number of Kavanaugh's rulings on the DC Circuit Court, his service on the Ken Starr commission in the 1990s (which led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton), and his years as loyal White House legal counsel during the George W. Bush Administration. "He is a party man. Brett Kavanaugh is a Republican. He has been a Republican foot soldier in virtually every major Republican legal battle of modern times. He has served that role in his capacity as a judge on the DC Circuit to a 'T'."

We discuss Kavanaugh's road-map for overturning Roe v. Wade's nationwide Constitutional right to an abortion, as he laid out himself in his 2017 opinions attempting to block a lawful abortion sought by a 17-year old undocumented immigrant detained by the Trump Administration. But abortion is hardly the only hard-won right that will be, almost immediately, imperiled if Democrats are unable to block Kavanaugh's confirmation to what will become a very hard right-wing Court with his seating. Key environmental rulings are likely to be overturned, Stern argues, as well as those regarding voting rights, privacy rights, and many others.

Stern also explains why he remains very dubious, at best, that either Maine's Republican Senator Susan Collins or Alaska's Lisa Murkowski will break from their party to vote against Trump's nominee (Collins, he explains, is "not widely known for having a spine" and Murkowski, so far, has shown little sign of having one either) and why, if confirmed, Kavanaugh could decide to blow up years of precedent by refusing to recuse himself from SCOTUS appeals to cases that he has previously heard as a member of the DC Circuit Court.

There is one --- and, really, only one --- thin thread of potentially encouraging news regarding Kavanaugh's nomination. That can be found in his 2009 law review article on whether sitting Presidents may be indicted or face other criminal and civil legal actions. Kavanaugh's written comments on the matter, as we discuss, may, in fact, serve to argue the opposite of what a number of his opponents have been (mis)reporting regarding those remarks. In fact, Kavanaugh's argument suggests a sitting President can, in fact, be indicted under both current law and the U.S. Constitution, for civil and criminal matters alike.

Finally today, we're joined by Desi Doyen for the latest Green News Report and much more related to it, including the early response from environmentalists on Trump's SCOTUS pick, how the recent record-smashing heatwaves we've seen from coast to coast over the past week could become much worse very soon, and how this year's hurricane season has already turned deadly from the Atlantic to the Pacific...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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