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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, September 20, 2020
'RECOUNTED' with Nils Gilman, Mark Joseph Stern: 'BradCast' 9/18/20
On potential disruption, Constitutional crisis after 2020 election; And the long-overdue end of a racist voter suppression law in NC...
Federal Court Blocks 'Politically Motivated' USPS Changes, Orders Sorting Machines Reinstalled
Judge charges Postmaster General mandates undermined integrity of 2020 election...
More Wins in the War Against the War On Voting in PA, OH, SC & USPS: 'BradCast' 9/17/20
Also: Trump FBI Dir. confirms 2020 Russian interference; Former top Pence staffer plans to vote for Biden; Much more you need to hear...
'Green News Report' 9/17/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Sally slams AL, FL, GA with record rain, floods; Fires in West behind mass bird die-off; Trump names climate denier to NOAA; PLUS: 175-yr old science issues first-ever endorsement...
Previous GNRs: 9/15/20 - 9/10/20 - Archives...
GA's 'Experts' Flounder in Court Defending State's New Unverifiable Touchscreen Vote Systems: 'BradCast' 9/16/20
Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks; Also: Sally soaks AL, FL; Results of 2020's final primary in DE...
Mostly Good News in Battle-ground Ballot Battles in WI, OH, NV: 'BradCast' 9/15/20
Also: 175-yr old science mag issues first-ever endorsement; Corp. broadcast news outlets failing disastrously to inform electorate about our worsening climate crisis...
'Green News Report' 9/15/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Hurricane Sally approaches, with more storms on the way; Deadly West Coast fires break more records; PLUS: Biden blasts 'climate arsonist' Trump and urges swift action...
Previous GNRs: 9/10/20 - 9/3/20 - Archives...
Fires and Liars and Modems, Oh My!: 'BradCast' 9/14/20
Guest: Jenny Cohn, election security advocate on 2020 hacking concerns; Also: Climate-fueled fires keep breaking records; More hurricanes on the way; Trump claims climate change, like COVID, will just go away...
Sunday 'Can't Trust the Media' Toons
But you CAN trust PDiddie to post the best of the past week's political toons in his latest collection...
GOP Gains Ground in Their War Against Voting and Voters in FL, WI, TX, NC, PA: 'BradCast' 9/11/20
Guest: Courtney Hostetler, Senior Counsel at Free Speech for People...
Woodward Goes Wayward in 'Biggest Scandal in Modern Journalism': 'BradCast' 9/10
Guest: Journalist David Sirota; Also: DHS whistleblower and new report reveal U.S. Intel now fully corrupt, upside-down under Trump...
'Green News Report' 9/10/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
'Unprecedented' wildfires explode across Western U.S., man-made climate change is to blame; PLUS: Trolling for Florida votes, Trump flip-flops on offshore drilling ban...
Previous GNRs: 9/3/20 - 9/1/20 - Archives...
NC 'Secure White Supremacy' Law Struck Down, Freeing 100k Newly Eligible Voters: 'BradCast' 9/9/20
Guest: Mark Joseph Stern; Also: DoJ rescues Trump; Climate-fueled infernos in OR, WA, CA
Vet Group Cites Trump Attack on Troops as 'New Low' from 'Maniac in the Oval Office': 'BradCast' 9/8/20
w/ VoteVets' Will Goodwin; Record CA heat, fires; Ransomware specter; Kevin Zeese RIP...
Trump's 'Herd Immunity' Solution Could be as Lethal as Hitler's 'Final Solution'
Failure to contain the pandemic has led to a new White House plan to let millions of Americans die...
Sunday 'Postman Always Votes Twice' Toons
PDiddie gives his stamp of approval to all of the political toons in his latest collection of the week's best...
It's Reagan's Fault: 'BradCast' 9/4/20
Guest host Nicole Sandler with author/historian Rick Perlstein and Editor-in-Chief of 'The 19th', Andrea Valdez...
'Green News Report' 9/3/20
Climate champ Markey wins primary challenge; Admin racing to dismantle environmental protections; PLUS: Sign of the times -- ExxonMobil dropped from Dow...
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...


On safeguarding the 2020 election and worsening economic inequailty...
By Desi Doyen on 7/24/2020 3:33pm PT  

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

  • Then, Brad's conversation on 6/12/2020 with voting rights journalist and author ARI BERMAN of Mother Jones, on the fight against Republicans' new surge of voter suppression during the coronavirus pandemic and steps we can take to prevent a stolen election this November.

We'll be back soon!

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: The Prospect's David Dayen; Also: PA Repubs kept COVID infection a secret from Dems; Absentee ballot applications for all in WI...
By Brad Friedman on 5/28/2020 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast, it's concierge service from the Fed for Wall Street during the crisis, as American workers are left fighting for table scraps to stay alive. Again. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of summary.]

New weekly unemployment numbers out on Thursday from the U.S. Dept. of Labor suggest that while new jobless claims are beginning to slow, they are still coming in each week at all-time record numbers. Another 2.1 million Americans filed new claims last week, bringing the number of unemployed to Great Depression era levels of nearly 41 million Americans out of work. Another way to look at it is that a staggering one in four working Americans has filed for unemployment over the past 10 weeks since the COVID-19 crisis began in earnest in the U.S. Those official government numbers [PDF], however, are still lower than the real unemployment numbers, as millions are believed still stuck in line or having trouble getting through to still-overburdened state unemployment offices.

"A closer depiction of reality in the crisis," our guest DAVID DAYEN of The American Prospect, reports today, is a recent Census Bureau survey finding "that nearly half of all households have lost income" since the crisis struck in mid-March. At the very same time, however, as jobs are still disappearing and S&P 500 companies report an average 13% loss in profits during the first quarter of the year, the stock market has been soaring of late. Even with today's record jobless numbers, the market continued to rise (though it dropped a bit just before today's close) with the Dow up over 1,000 points in the past three days and the S&P 500 reporting record gains over the past month.

Another study cited by Dayen today comes from the Institute for Policy Studies, finding that "since March 18, as 100,000 died from COVID-19 and 40 million lost their jobs, billionaires in America have added $485 billion in wealth." Must be nice. So why is this happening? Why does the economy appear to be tanking everywhere except for on Wall Street?

Dayen, who, in his daily "Unsanitized" columns at The Prospect has been reporting for weeks on the "$4.5 trillion money cannon" unleashed by the Federal Reserve, with the approval of Congress in the CARES Act. He explains how that relief bill gave the go-ahead for the Fed to signal in late March, for the first time in history, that they will backstop corporate debt for huge companies. Without spending a dime, the signal the Fed gave on March 23rd is that investors didn't have to worry about about any risk associated with buying bonds from those companies. The Fed would back them up in the event the companies failed. So, as Dayen detailed this week, troubled firms like Carnival Cruise Lines, which is unable to make a penny now in the cruise line business, and Boeing, which was already in trouble before the coronavirus crisis began, are still raking in tens of millions (even billions) of dollars in the bargain. And, since the funding is coming from private equity firms and hedge funds (as guaranteed by the federal government), that "mothers milk", as Dayen describes it, is coming with no strings attached, unlike direct loans from the Government's CARES Act might have. That means, he says, that at least 49 major companies have brought in enormous sums of money during the crisis this way, even as they've laid off tens of thousands of workers at the very same time while using their windfall of cheap money to pay executive bonuses and purchase stock buybacks as working class American suffer in a way they haven't since the Great Depression.

"What idiot would send money to Carnival Cruise lines right now?," Dayen quips, before explaining how the Fed's announcement gave the go ahead to private equity firms to invest in the company anyway. "What they're saying is 'We're going to support the entire market'. ... They're essentially saying to investors, we will take care of you, we will do whatever it takes. The markets take that as a signal that they're going to be coddled, they're going to be protected, and that's all it takes."

This was all done with the approval of both parties in Congress, even as some Dems are now beginning to regret giving no-string attached approval to Donald Trump's Treasury Dept./Federal Reserve money cannon. "When you defer to the Fed as your main policy-making engine in the country, you're going to get disproportionate responses, because the Fed deals with banks and they deal with large corporations. And that's who is going to get the relief. Not the average person on the street."

"When ordinary people, 40 million strong, have to go on to the unemployment lines, they get limited, temporary relief that will probably go away very soon, and they struggle to obtain food and figure out how to maintain their shelter," Dayen explains. "The problem is not that large companies got a bailout from something that wasn't of their own making --- the coronavirus crisis --- the problem is that there's one system for elite investors and large corporations and one system for everybody else."

How long can this last? Dayen discusses that as well, as states and municipalities around the country are themselves facing massive revenue shortages and fiscal year budget deadlines by July 1 in many cases. Without Congress enacting another relief bill for those states and municipalities, critical local services will soon be slashed. Cops, firefighters, teachers, and even medical workers will be laid off amid the continuing global pandemic, gutting revenue to those states even further. Democrats in the House have already passed a $3 trillion bill to help out state and local governments. Republicans in the Senate, however, have said they are in no rush to take any further action for now.

We also discuss the unimaginable politicization of this pandemic, where even the idea that measures to keep Americans alive has now become a political hot potato just five months before the crucial November elections.

That unimaginable politicization is now on full display in Pennsylvania, where a Republican state lawmaker disclosed on Wednesday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. While he had known for at least ten days, he told only his Republican colleagues in the House. Democrats were left in the dark, even as GOPers in the gerrymandered House demanded in-person committee hearings where Dems were unknowingly put in contact with colleagues who had been in contact with the infected Rep and didn't even bother to wear masks during hearings demanding the reopening of businesses in the state. One Democratic Representative from Philadelphia unleashed a tirade during a Facebook Live video Wednesday night (which we share on today's show), calling on the GOP Speaker of the House to resign and for the state Attorney General to consider prosecution of those members who endangered the others along with their families. All of which underscores, yet again, the importance of the upcoming election and the reckoning that should come with it.

To that end, we've got some good news out of the state of Wisconsin (for a change), where the bi-partisan state Election Commission voted unanimously on Wednesday to send absentee ballot applications to all of the Badger State's 2.7 million registered voters before the November election. That, in hopes of avoiding the nightmarish consequences of the state's April 7th primary when GOP state lawmakers refused to agree to the Democratic Governor's attempt to postpone the election or extend absentee balloting to keep residents safe during the crisis. So, will Donald Trump threaten to cut off funding to WI as he did last week when Michigan announced their intention to also sent absentee ballot applications to all registered voters? Stay tuned.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report with troubling predictions from NOAA for hurricane season; the plague of locusts spreading from Africa to India; New York and New Jersey reject a proposal for a new fracked-gas pipeline; and a new $14 million ad campaign ties Trump's deadly coronavirus denial to his long-standing deadly denial of our climate crisis...

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: American Prospect's David Dayen; Also: TX Guv knew deaths would spike after reopening, did it anyway; Judge reinstates NY Dem Prez primary; MT's Bullock leading U.S. Senate race...
By Brad Friedman on 5/6/2020 7:00pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We start and finish today with some good news. Everything else inside that sandwich may be a different matter. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, a federal judge has ordered the New York State Board of Elections to reinstate all candidates to the ballot who have not asked to be removed for the state's June 23 Democratic Presidential primary. The order is in response to a lawsuit filed by former candidate Andrew Yang following the state Board's effective cancellation of the primary --- ostensibly to lower polling place turnout to make it safer voters. The move last week angered the Bernie Sanders campaign, his supporters and, yes, Yang. That seemingly good news for voters is tempered by the fact that the NY Board says they plan to appeal the decision.

In less good news today, the coronavirus infection and death rate in Texas has --- completely predictably --- spiked with thousands of new cases after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott lifted restrictions in the Lone Star State last week for businesses. Even more disturbingly, Abbott knew that it would happen, but did it anyway. An audio recording of a private phone conversation of Abbott speaking to other lawmakers released on Tuesday appears to contradict the Governor's public statements about what would happen after the state reopened all businesses.

Our guest today, The American Prospect's Executive Editor and investigative financial journalist DAVID DAYEN is not happy with public officials who are standing by while the nation is prematurely reopened for business, even as the COVID-19 infection and death rate continues to increase --- not decrease --- across the country. "Anyone working in the federal government on pandemic response right now who doesn't want to be known historically as a mass murderer should probably resign," he recently wrote in one of his must-read daily "Unsanitized" columns.

Dayen speaks to that ("The administration has pretty clearly signaled they are done with pandemic response. They're over it. ... This is a prescription for tens of thousands of people unnecessarily dying. And we should be really clear about that."); the disastrous roll-out of the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), meant to provide short-term relief to small businesses; the far smoother roll-outs of big bailouts for huge corporations; how the federal coronavirus financial relief response compares to the programs implemented in response to the 2008 mortgage crisis and Great Recession (about which Dayen wrote an award-winning book); and his scoop today regarding the U.S. Postal Service.

As we've discussed on the show previously, the USPS is in trouble, thanks to the crash in postal deliveries with so many businesses shut down. The Post Office does not receive any tax-payer dollars. It runs solely on the postage it sells as it delivers to every address in the nation, six days a week. It is also responsible for delivering absentee ballots in all 50 states amid the ongoing global pandemic and will be crucial to our ability to hold something that resembles a legitimate Presidential election this November. But now the Service has said they may have to stop operating entirely as early as June without an infusion of cash.

Republicans in Congress and Donald Trump in the White House have refused, so far, to provide a bailout to the Postal Service as they have for thousands of other private companies. But Congress did approve a $10 billion extension of credit for the USPS, to allow them to borrow more money to weather the crisis. However, the Treasury Department is holding up the increase in the USPS credit limit in hopes of forcing a bunch of conditions on them first.

"The Treasury Department, which offers that line of credit, has signaled that they will use that to make major policy changes," Dayen explains. "In other words, you want that $10 billion? You're going to have to pay the Piper. You're going to have to bust your unions, you're going to have to get some give backs on pay and benefits. You're going to have to do what we want in terms of package delivery. Specifically, making sure Amazon pays through the nose --- this is the thing Donald Trump is obsessed with, because he hates Jeff Bezos --- and you're going to have to institute a bunch of policy changes and give us some decision-making authority on personnel, including the Postmaster General. And that's just to get the loan. ... It's really an imposition into the authority of the Postal Service, which is an independent entity that is self-sufficient."

With that explained, Dayen's scoop today is that the Administration's strong-arming appears to be working. That insight is based on the recently revealed resignation from the USPS Board of Governors by David C. Williams, the former longtime Inspector General and the Democratic appointee to the Board. A longtime champion of the Postal Service (and its return to postal banking --- which could, on its own, save the Service, as we also discuss), Williams' departure, Dayen reports, is a very bad sign that the Republican appointees who control the Board are on the precipice of winning this battle.

What it may mean for the near future of the USPS and its union workers is ominous. All of this is made even worse because Democrats have now given away much, if not all, of their negotiating leverage in Congress to include a bailout for the USPS by kicking the can down the road in earlier emergency relief bills, even as Republicans got just about everything they wanted already in those measures. All and all, this will not be good for the American people in a multitude of ways.

Finally, we close with some slightly better news as promised. According to a new poll in Montana, the state's very popular Democratic Governor Steve Bullock is up by 6 points (46% to 39%) at the moment in his U.S. Senate race against the Montana's GOP incumbent Sen. Steve Daines. A once-longshot win for Democrats in the U.S. Senate, flipping a seat in Montana this year would go a long way towards flipping control of the upper chamber of Congress from red to blue this November. The state which went for Trump by more than 20 points in 2016 (on the same statewide ballot where Bullock won reelection the same year) is also now trending toward Biden, as the same poll from Montana State University finds Trump with only a 5 point lead (45% to 40%) over the former Vice President right now. Of course, it's only May. But we'll take our encouraging news where ever we can find it these days...

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: Investigative journalist David Dayen of The American Prospect; Also: Biden leads Trump by 8 in MI and PA, according to Fox 'News' poll...
By Brad Friedman on 4/23/2020 6:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We start with good news for Democrats and Joe Biden before moving to the bad for Nancy Pelosi and her puzzling pick for a key oversight panel and seemingly terrible negotiation skills on emergency relief bills. [Link to full audio of today's show is posted below.]

On Wednesday, moments after we got off air yesterday, Donald Trump tossed his sorry pal Brian Kemp, Georgia's dumb-as-dirt and illegitimate Governor, under the bus, by pretending that he "disagreed strongly" with and felt it was "too soon" for Kemp's scheme to re-open nail salons, barber shops, tattoo and massage parlors and more in the Peach State as of Friday. That, even though Trump had reportedly called Kemp the day before to congratulate him on the move. At the same time, he was condescendingly tweeting about how much he cares about the old people who will be killed when Republican Governors across the country begun re-opening their states against the advice of health experts.

Trump's latest reversal is likely for good reason. One, the top health officials on his coronavirus task force pretty much insisted that he condemn Kemp's deadly decision and two, older voters --- a key part of his base --- appear to be abandoning Trump in droves thanks to his terrible response to the virus. New polling from Trump's favorite source, Fox "News", now shows Joe Biden beating Trump by 8 points in both Michigan and Pennsylvania, two states that are crucial to Trump's hopes of being re-elected. The Democratic Governors of both states, according to Fox, are very popular while Trump is decidedly not. In both states, large majorities of voters strongly support current stay-at-home restrictions, even if it continues to damage the economy.

The information in those polls amounts to the good news today for Dems. Then we turn to the mess that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seems to be creating in D.C., while members are back in their districts and she is left to negotiate new relief bills, largely by herself with Mitch McConnell in the Senate.

DAVID DAYEN, Executive Editor of The American Prospect and author of the upcoming book, Monopolized: Life in the Age of Corporate Power, joins us again today to catch us up on just some of the very important scoops he has been churning out each day in his daily, must-read "Unsanitized" report at The Prospect.

He has been causing a lot of problems for Pelosi of late, after exposing her embarrassingly poor pick for the four-person Congressional oversight board created by the CARES Act to oversee trillions of dollars of corporate bailouts and giveaways in the bill. Each of the Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate get to pick one member each for the panel. Freshman oversight bulldog Rep. Katie Porter (CA) --- who would be perfect for the job --- had made clear she was hoping to get it. Nonetheless, Pelosi selected her friend, freshman Rep. Donna Shalala (FL), who has absolutely no experience in financial oversight. Worse, much worse, as Dayen first revealed last weekend, Shalala, who previously served as Bill Clinton's Health and Human Services Secretary and CEO of The Clinton Foundation, had mountains of conflicts due to stock investments in dozens of companies whose bailout funds she was being asked to oversee.

The story gets even worse, however, as Shalala first claimed she had sold most (if not all) of those stocks, before Dayen found that, if she had, she failed to publicly report those transactions as mandated by the federal STOCK Act, as her office had previously tried to claim she had. After another day or so of this fact-pummeling by Dayen at The Prospect --- eventually picked up by the corporate media --- Shalala was forced to admit that she, in fact, failed to file those mandatory disclosures. She apologized, claiming she had failed to understand the requirements of the Act, despite it being incredibly simple --- unlike the task of overseeing trillions of dollars in loans and grants by the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve, as required by the oversight panel on which she is now seated.

"How is Donna Shalala going to be in a hearing with the Federal Reserve, asking them about the rules and procedures of the corporate bailout, when she couldn't follow the most simple, basic step required of her as a member of Congress?," Dayen wonders.

Not a promising sign, even as Dayen reports that Shalala continues to have large holdings in a health care company that would also be subject to oversight by her panel. "The one stock she did not sell was in United Health, the health insurance company that she was on the board of for several years. She still holds that now. So she is a walking conflict of interest even in her normal duties in Congress," he tells me.

Nonetheless, nearly a week into Dayen's coverage, after a belated apology from Shalala for her violations of federal law, Pelosi continues to stand by her poor selection. Why? Well, Dayen discusses that and much more on today's show (including the much better selection of former Elizabeth Warren protege, Bharat Ramamurti, by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for the same panel.)

We also discuss what is --- and, more disturbingly, is NOT! --- in the nearly $500 billion bailout bill passed by the House on Thursday, after largely being crafted by Mitch McConnell in the Senate as Dems continue to give away pretty much all of the leverage they may have had for a list of things Dayen argues they should have fought for, including: "State and local government funding...Payroll support along the lines of just having the government operate these payrolls rather than having people laid off...Money for the Postal Service, which is about to go under...Health insurance expansion for the duration of the crisis...Rent relief...foreclosure relief...Nor did they guarantee Vote-By-Mail for every American during the November election."

It's a very lively and troubling conversation, with lots of stuff --- maddening, amusing and informative --- including why Congress has failed to adopt some way of remote voting so that they can somehow continue to carry on the people's business, even during the need for physical distancing.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, with some good news (believe or not) and bad in the age of the coronavirus...as well as some swingin' music to take us out for the day!...

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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Choose monthly amount...


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




Guest: Financial journalist David Dayen; Also: COVID economic numbers getting worse; TX judge allows absentee voting during pandemic...
By Brad Friedman on 4/16/2020 7:18pm PT  

On today's BradCast: More economic fallout and Administration failure amid the coronavirus crisis, but some good news for Texas voters...at least for now. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Devastating and unprecedented economic numbers continue to pour out from D.C. today, with new unemployment claims last week topping 5.2 million. That totals nearly 22 million new jobless claims over the past month, once again blowing away --- for the fourth week running --- the pre-COVID weekly jobless claims record of 695,000 in 1992. Economists now believe the U.S. unemployment rate is about 15%, rivaling numbers from the Great Depression.

At the same time, several of the federal programs run by the Executive Branch meant to provide relief to individuals and small businesses amid the pandemic, are failing or have collapsed entirely. For example, the $350 billion appropriated to forgivable small business loans in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) included as part of the CARES Act is now completely gone, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Millions who applied for loans and grants under PPP have been shut out entirely.

Separately, while some have received their promised $1,200 individual payments also allocated by the Act, there are reports today that $500 payments included for dependent children have not been included for many, even as many more still wait for their payments entirely. (Some of which are likely delayed thanks to Donald Trump insisting his name be added to the paper checks being mailed out.)

"What you'll see if this continues for months and months, and people are still inside, are just closures of businesses," today's returning guest DAVID DAYEN, Executive Editor of The American Prospect and author of its daily, indispensable "Unsanitized" report tells me . "Right now, businesses are shuttered, they're looking for this CARES Act, the PPP loans. They're trying to figure out a way to stay alive, they'll just close if it's months before they can open."

He cites potential closures of as many as 60% of businesses in the retail sector and 70% in the restaurant sector who may soon be forced to simply shut down entirely. "That is absolute economic devastation. That's not something that you can easily come back from when you throw open the doors. If people can't stay in business right now, they're not going to be able to go back into business when everything opens."

But that is unlikely to happen on the schedule the President is pretending it will, says Dayen. "You can say 'we're going to re-open the economy', but a large segment of the American people aren't going to willingly go like lambs to the slaughter back to a restaurant if they expect that there is an outbreak that the government doesn't have a handle on. You see business executives saying to Trump, 'You can't do anything with this until you get massive testing in place.' And we just don't have that right now. So the economic pain and the public health hazard will continue until such time as we get our act together. That time has not yet been upon us."

All of this, of course, is even worse than it has to be, thanks to this disastrous Administration. A number of Dayen's recent scoops from his daily column at The Prospect have recently been picked up by the corporate media, including the New York Times Editorial Board which last night cited his coverage of a recording he obtained between Treasury Department officials and bank executives. The recording reveals the Trump Administration gave a green light to banks to withhold the money from those $1,200 payments sent to their customers who had unpaid fees and debts. That, despite the fact that Congress allowed Treasury to draft regulations to prevent the banks from stealing those emergency payments from customers.

Dayen further reports today that USAA, a bank which services many American veterans, has been stealing those funds from disabled vets and their families. Thanks to Dayen's reporting, however, the company has now announced they will reverse the practice.

In yet another scoop from Dayen's "Unsanitized" today, a new report from a number of non-governmental organizations suggests that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce --- the nation's largest, richest and most powerful lobbying organization, which spends hundreds of millions of dollars to elect Republicans across the country --- has been urging the White House against invoking the Defense Production Act to force the production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as much-needed N95 masks to guard against the coronavirus pandemic. Why would they do that? Well, as Dayen explains, many of the companies who might be forced to comply with the Act to manufacture highly sought after protective gear and ventilators, etc. have top executive who sit on the Chamber's Board of Directors. That may very well answer the mystery of why the Trump Administration has been so hesitant to invoke the Korean War-era statute to help fight the alarming spread of COVID-19.

Next, we return to the growing fight over how Americans will be allowed to vote during the pandemic, with some Republicans taking extraordinary measures to prevent voters from being able to vote by absentee ballot this year, despite the dangers now presented by in-person voting amid stay-at-home orders across the country. In Texas, the Attorney General is attempting to block Lone Star State voters from requesting absentee ballots based on their fear of contracting coronavirus at the polls. The AG recently declared [PDF] that such concerns do not meet the state's statutory requirement that a voter must have a "physical condition" that constitutes a "disability" in order to apply for an absentee ballot. Moreover, the AG's office declared that third parties who recommend voters take advantage of that option, without an actual physical disability that prevents them from going to the polls, could be held criminally liable for doing so.

Thankfully, a state District Court judge on Wednesday, in a suit filed by the Texas Democratic Party with a number of voting rights groups, ruled that all Texas voters may legally apply for mail-in ballots due to social distancing restrictions and the risk of contracting the virus. At least for now. That good news is tempered by the fact that the Republican Attorney General has made clear that the case is likely to be appealed to a higher state court. That, ironically enough, as the TX AG who is still facing his own felony indictments on securities fraud, declared after the judge's ruling that "The integrity of our democratic election process must be maintained, and law established by our legislature must be followed consistently."

The legal fight in Texas, however, clearly illustrates the battle lines now being drawn between Democrats and voting rights advocates hoping to make it easier for Americans to vote amid a pandemic in this year's critical elections and Republicans who are attempting to suppress as many voters as they can --- even if it means forcing their own voters to choose between risking their lives or losing their right to vote.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report, with some more good news out of now "blue" Virginia, some more disturbing news from the Trump EPA (which is also happy to allow Americans to die unnecessarily), some good global news regarding renewable energy, and a look back at the BP Gulf Oil Spill ten years ago this week, where the damage persists even a full decade after the nation's worst fossil-fuel disaster...

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Guest: American Prospect's David Dayen on the failure of coronavirus relief measures and 'Great Depression II'...
By Brad Friedman on 4/9/2020 6:25pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Don't believe a word you are being told by the Administration or Wall Street. Actual facts and data suggest its almost entirely all bullshit. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The economic outlook in the U.S. continues to quickly degrade in light of the coronavirus pandemic, with another record 6.6 million applying for unemployment benefits last week. That brings the total number of jobless claims to an unheard of 17 million or so in the past three weeks alone, with millions more unable to even apply for benefits due to still-overloaded websites and continuously busy phone lines at states across the country. The all-time weekly record for jobless claims, until three weeks ago, was 695,000. Over the past three weeks it has been 3.2 million, followed by 6.6 million, followed again by another 6.6 million.

The numbers are stultifying. For example, that 17 million figure is more than the total number of jobs added since 2013; far more than the total number of jobs in the 20 smallest U.S. states combined; and far more than every single job in the state of Texas, which has the 2nd largest state workforce in the country. The unemployment rate, believed to now be at least 12%, goes far beyond the worst days of the Great Recession and are now in Great Depression territory, with some independent economists refering to what we are now looking at as "Great Depression II". (Check out the two gobsmacking charts in WaPo's coverage today.)

And, yet, despite those data, and still climbing coronavirus cases and deaths, we are getting a whole lot of happy talk from the Administration. And not just from our desperate, pathetic Liar-in-Chief, from whom we'd expect it, but from folks like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who absurdly suggested today on CNBC that America "could be open for business" by May! Donald Trump's Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell assured the Brookings Institution that the "strong economic footing" before the COVID-19 crisis will support a "robust" recovery, as if we could expect one any day now! All of which was enough to continue the recent Wall Street rally that resulted in the biggest weekly jump in the S&P 500 since 1974!

Everything must be going great! But, of course, it isn't. At least not back here in Realityville, where the "irrational exuberance" (as long-ago Fed Chair Alan Greenspan once described it) of the Administration and Wall Street is nowhere near seeing its way to Main Street. That, even though the Fed announced $2.3 trillion in new funding schemes --- creating money out of nowhere (no Congress needed, thanks!) --- in hopes of offsetting the impact of the pandemic on the economy. The Fed initiative includes something they are calling the "Main Street Lending Program" to shovel money to "Main Street" companies with up to 10,000 workers and less than $2.5 billion in revenue. Ya know, like most of those business on your friendly local "Main Street".

At the same time, none of the promised, measly $1,200 checks for individuals from the $2.2 trillion CARES Act have made their way to Americans yet (Mnuchin says "next week!"), and the $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) from the same emergency relief package adopted by Congress two weeks ago is still said to be mired in bureaucratic red tape at the commercial banks tapped to hand out the money (and take a cut in the bargain). There is little if any money actually getting to people and small businesses that need it most at the moment, even as Congress was bickering again on Thursday about adding another $250 billion to the program which will still be woefully underfunded even then.

But, somehow, Wall Street and the Administration are sending the message that all will be well, with America "back in business" as early as May! Don't count on it.

Investigative financial journalist DAVID DAYEN, Executive Editor of The American Prospect and author of its daily and indispensable "Unsanitized" report (which warned about all of these matters before they happened today and were only then picked up by the corporate mainstream media) joins us again to help unpack the details on all of the above, more related failures, and a few that we should be expecting in the days ahead, as the dire situation gets worse and the irrational exuberance and happy talk from D.C. and Wall Street continues impotently.

"John Edwards used to talk about the 'Two Americas'," Dayen notes. "Those two sets of statistics couldn't be starker about the Two Americas. Investors are letting the good times roll, while ordinary Americans are losing their jobs in numbers with a speed that we have never seen before."

"The difference between 2008 and today is that, in 2008, the institutions that were getting this largess were largely responsible for the downturn, whereas these businesses pretty much aren't responsible for the coronavirus. When you look at the proportionality of the response --- when you look at the neighborhood pizza shop or the neighborhood dry cleaner, and what they have to go through to survive in this Second Depression --- and you look at a 'main street' business with 10,000 workers, or the airlines, or some other large businesses, the velvet rope service they are getting, it is obviously very disproportional," he tells me.

"So let's not say nobody has been helped. We sped relief where we could, to the people who this bill was for, and that's investors on Wall Street."

Finally today, we're joined by Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report, with some actual good news --- even if it is paired, as usual, with her usual dose of much less than good news...

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Guest: Former Deputy Asst. Attorney General Lisa Graves warns there is now 'a cancer on the Justice Department'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/12/2020 6:30pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Once again, Donald Trump managed to step on a big night for Democrats, with what is turning out to be an unprecedented "break-the-glass-in-case-of-fire" crisis at the U.S. Department of Justice. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

The unspeakably important fight to replace the most dangerous, unfit, authoritarian President this nation has ever seen continued on Tuesday night in New Hampshire, where a pleasantly smooth primary election resulted in a narrow win for Bernie Sanders, with Pete Buttigieg close on his heels yet again, followed by a surprise third place win for Amy Klobuchar. After double-digit percentages for those three, Elizabeth Warren came in a distant fourth, followed by an undoubtedly disappointing fifth place finish for Joe Biden.

The contest also resulted in three candidates dropping out of the race. Colorado Senator Michael Bennet hung it up, as did former MA Governor Deval Patrick (leaving no more African-Americans in the race) and previously unknown entrepreneur Andrew Yang (leaving Tulsi Gabbard, who finished a distance 7th, as the only person of color remaining in the Democratic nominating contest.) Sanders second popular vote victory in two weeks leaves him as the front-runner ahead of Nevada next week, South Carolina the week after, and Super Tuesday in more than a dozen states three days later, where voters will decide how long this contest will run, as several candidates remain more than viable after the two early outings.

We discuss, along with a reminder that all of New Hampshire voted, without apparent problem Tuesday, on hand-marked paper ballots, with citizen volunteers in some 40% of Granite State towns counting those hand-marked ballots by hand, publicly, with everybody watching, no apparent problems or delays, and results announced at each counting location upon completion. We call that Democracy's Gold Standard and thank the volunteers in those NH towns.

Unfortunately, that joyous exercise in public democracy and civic duty was marred by the quickly expanding crisis in Washington D.C. where four prosecutors running the case against Trump confidante Roger Stone, who was recently found guilty of lying to Congress and witness tampering, abruptly quit the case on Tuesday. One of them resigned from the Dept. of Justice entirely.

That stunning news on Tuesday came after a tweet from Trump, describing the sentencing recommendation as a "miscarriage of justice!", before an announcement by a senior official at DoJ that the line prosecutors' recommendation, based on federal sentencing guidelines, was "extreme and excessive and disproportionate to Stone’s offenses."

Further reporting throughout the day --- as Trump continued his Twitter tirade, even attacking the federal judge overseeing Stone's case --- revealed that it was not the only time in recent days that Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr appears to have interceded to soften sentencing recommendations for close friends of Trump found guilty of lying to federal officials during the Robert Mueller Special Counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. NBC News reports that a recently installed Barr apparatchik also changed the DoJ prosecutors' sentencing recommendation for Trump's former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn last month. It was originally for 0 to 6 months in prison, but modified last month to nothing more than probation.

And, as all of that was unspooling, Trump pulled his nomination for a top post at the Treasury Dept. for the former U.S. Attorney for D.C., Jessie Liu. As USA, she had overseen Stone's case and a number of others related to the Mueller probe, until she was relieved of that post on the same day that the DoJ changed their sentencing recommendation for Flynn. Liu had been scheduled to answer questions in her Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday for the Treasury post, but that has been conveniently nixed with Trump's withdrawal of her nomination on Tuesday.

We're joined today to discuss these stunning --- and somewhat terrifying --- turns of event by LISA GRAVES, who previously served as Deputy Asst. U.S. Attorney General at the DoJ under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. She is also the former Chief Counsel for Nominations in the U.S. Senate and former Deputy Chief for the U.S. Court system. So, she has quite a bit of insight into many aspects of this. She, like us, is exceedingly disturbed by what one former, longtime DoJ senior official characterized as "a shocking, cram-down political intervention in the criminal justice process," declaring that "We are now truly at a break-glass-in-case-of-fire moment for the Justice Dept."

Graves, who recently founded the new watchdog group TrueNorthResearch.org, echoes that alarm today. "This is really a crisis," she warns. "And it's hard to say that, given that we are in the midst of an ongoing crisis based on what the Republicans in the Senate did this past month and what the President is up to. This is a crisis that is really unparalleled in the modern history of the Justice Department. It's a Constitutional crisis and really an existential crisis, because this is an active assault on the rule of law in this country."

She explains that "this is an absolute, confirmed and repeated breach of the independence of the Justice Department...I'm not sure how it can be fixed, given the fact that the Justice Department has been so corrupted by this President and by his willing hand-maiden, Bill Barr." Graves cites the upcoming election as our only way out, at this point, from "this sort of behavior turning America into a banana republic", before she borrows from the Nixon impeachment proceedings to describe the ongoing events as "a cancer on the Justice Department."

She also shares her thoughts on whether she believes the DoJ itself --- with the words "The place of Justice is a hallowed place" (ironically now?) etched above its door on Pennsylvania Avenue --- can ever be fully repaired after this breach, even after Trump is no longer despoiling the White House...

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Also: Judge overturns Mnuchin scheme to make 'dark money' even darker; Texas sued for tossing out absentee ballots without notifying voters...
By Brad Friedman on 8/13/2019 6:39pm PT  

"You've heard about 'Draining the Swamp'," Donald Trump's Acting Chief of Staff and Office of Management and Budget Director told a bunch of GOPers at a fundraiser recently in South Carolina. "What you haven't heard is what we're actually doing." He's right. We try to do something about that on today's BradCast. Again. [Audio link to show is posted at end of summary.]

Lack of funding and a hiring freeze by the Trump Administration has resulted in a shortage of correctional officers at facilities like the federal lockup in Manhattan where accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein was found dead on Saturday morning. The billionaire financier and friend of Trump was supposed to have been monitored every 30 minutes by correctional officers after being removed, for some reason, from the prison's "suicide watch" list just 6 days after he reportedly tried to kill himself. But media reports say that Epstein was not monitored for hours before being found dead. Both of the officers tasked with the job were working overtime and one was merely a substitute, reportedly, not fully trained for it. Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr has temporarily suspended both of them and reassigned the warden at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, as he claims to be seeking accountability for the failure at the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facility overseen by the Attorney General.

The lack of federal funding at BOP is not an accident, of course. It's just one small part of this Administration's ongoing efforts to, as Mulvaney admitted, "streamline government" by making it simply disappear any way they possibly can. As Trump's Director of the OMB, Mulvaney attempted to cut funding in half for several key scientific and economic departments at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. When Congress rejected those cuts, the Administration implemented Plan B, which is what Mulvaney was bragging about to the Republican donors in South Carolina. The USDA gave just over 30 days for career officials at two important and long-established USDA agencies, the Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), to decide if they wished to uproot their lives and those of their family's to move to Kansas City (either Missouri or Kansas, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue has not told anyone which state it will be) or be fired.

Matt Shuham at Talking Points Memo has been covering the ongoing crises at the two agencies in a series of stories, documenting how senior officials, with decades of institutional knowledge are being lost in the bargain, as more than half of those longtime federal workers have chosen against moving 1,000 miles across the country before the end of September.

"It's nearly impossible to fire a federal worker," Mulvaney complained while explaining the Administration's scheme for forcing longtime federal employees to either move to "the real part of the country" or quit. "They quit," Mulvaney boasted to the delight of the corporate GOP funders. "What a wonderful way to sort of streamline government and do what we haven't been able to do for a long time." One of Shuham's latest reports details the gut-wrenching decision of a 30-year veteran branch chief at the ERS, who says that staffers working on everything from researching genetically engineered seeds to soil conservation to climate change are almost all entirely gone from the agency now, along with hundreds of years of collective knowledge and institutional experience. Ironically enough, when Purdue issued the letter to employees notifying them of the move, he claimed it was being done, among other reasons, to "improve USDA's ability to attract and retain highly qualified staff."

The gutting of the USDA is a "test case", one economist at ERS said. "If they can carry this out, what’s to stop them from doing this on a larger scale to another agency?" The answer: Nothing. They are already doing something identical to the Bureau of Land Management at the Dept. of Interior. And there will be more to come if these moves aren't somehow blocked. Donald Trump is actively and purposely killing your government and both he and corporate industry interests couldn't be more delighted about it. This will only be stopped --- maybe --- if he is turned out of office no later than next year.

To that end, we catch up on a couple of (mostly) good news elections-related stories today as well. In Montana, a federal judge has overturned a new rule by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that would have allowed "dark money" non-profit 501(c)4 groups to keep their donors a secret from the IRS. Such groups are already exempt from disclosing their funding sources publicly, but Mnuchin didn't want even the Government to know where their money used for elections is coming from either. A lawsuit by Montana Governor and 2020 Democratic Presidential hopeful Steve Bullock has successfully blocked that new rule --- for now. It would have made it almost impossible for the Government to determine if foreign sources were unlawfully funding elections work by such groups.

And down in Texas, the Texas Civil Rights Project and other plaintiffs are suing the state on behalf of voters to force election officials to notify voters when absentee vote-by-mail ballots are rejected by county election officials in time to correct any perceived signature mismatches. Such decisions are largely ad hoc from county to county --- elections officials are not hand-writing experts after all --- as there are no statewide standards for making the determination that the signature on the vote-by-mail ballot does not match that of the registered voter. Thousands of ballots in the Lone Star state have been tossed without the knowledge of voters who, under state law, do not need to be notified about signature mismatches that will keep their ballots from being counted, until 10 days after the election. With Texas potentially in play for Democrats next year, every vote may very well matter. So this lawsuit, like similar ones successfully filed in other states in recent years, is very important on several levels.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, in which another new rule imposed by the Trump Administration's Dept. of Interior is set to gut federal protections for thousands of endangered species; his EPA has cleared the way for an enormous, controversial mine project in Alaska which threatens key, pristine salmon fisheries in the region; and with details on the one energy project that the Administration is suddenly interested in slow-walking for some reason...

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Court blocks Trump 'national emergency'; Congress sues for Trump taxes; FL Repubs gut landmark voting reform; Carter says Trump 'illegitimate'; 2020 dirty tricks now underway; Dems talk climate at first debate...
By Brad Friedman on 7/2/2019 6:30pm PT  

It's been a rough week in the federal courts for Donald Trump. Even the Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court failed to grant at least one victory to the Administration in its loss last week over the fight to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 U.S. Census. That loss, where Trump clearly expected a win from his cooked High Court, has resulted in the admission of another humiliating defeat for Republicans, but a huge victory for those of us who still support the idea of democracy...as fragile as it remains in the U.S. on the eve of our Independence Day holiday in 2019. There were other encouraging signs of hope from our courts this week as well, though there remains plenty to be concerned about as we head toward the crucial 2020 elections. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the stories covered, in addition to the breaking Census news, on today's BradCast...

  • Trump may be getting a few tanks for his corrupt 4th of July celebration at the Lincoln Memorial on Thursday, though they won't be rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue. Where they will be, according to some poor writing from CNN, is another matter. ("Trump later confirmed tanks would be present during remarks in the Oval Office.");
  • Heat records are shattering in the U.S. and around the world, resulting in mussels cooking in their own shells in normally cool Northern California and highways dangerously cracking and buckling in South Dakota. What happened in Mexico and Europe, however, we hold until today's Green News Report at the end of the program;
  • But, back to the courts, as the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday against the Administration for failing to turn over six years of Donald Trump's tax returns as required by federal law, in a case that Trump seems unlikely to win. A long legal fight, however, may help him to delay the inevitable, unless he is able to receive a helping hand to undermine the rule of law from his friends at the stolen and illegitimate SCOTUS;
  • But the lower courts, so far, have provided little help to Trump. Late last Friday, with surprisingly little notice, albeit in the middle of a ton of other news, a federal judge in California blocked Trump's phony "national emergency" declaration meant to steal billions of dollars from the military to build portions of his long-promised Southern border wall (which apparently Mexico is still not paying for.) The same judge in two different challenges to Trump's blatant attempted theft, ruled that Trump's use of military funds for this purpose was "unlawful" and in violation of Congress' Constitutionally-mandated control of federal purse-strings. The Administration, however, is expected to appeal both rulings;
  • Voters in Florida, in the meantime, will have to hope for good news from the courts in the days ahead after Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis --- who was reportedly elected by less than one half of one percent of the vote last November --- quietly signed a controversial new law late on a Friday, without ceremony, the day before his deadline to sign it, which guts the state's reform of a 150-year old racist voting restriction. Despite passage of state Constitutional Amendment 4 last November --- by an astonishing nearly 65% of the electorate --- the new bill was passed along partisan lines in the GOP legislature to restore a restriction on the right of many former felons to vote. The new law, which went into effect Monday in the Sunshine State, requires former felons to pay off all court fines and fees before being allowed to vote, in contravention of the statewide ballot initiative which took effect on January 1 with no such restrictions. DeSantis had specifically pushed the GOP-controlled legislature to pass the bill, which will block many of the 1.5 million former felons --- including 1 out of 5 voting age African-Americans in the state --- from seeing their lifetime ban on the right to vote lifted. Voting rights advocates accurately describe the measure as an unconstitutional "poll tax" and have already filed suit to block it. The "conservatives" in the state will now have to spend millions in order to defend their new, unpopular law;
  • That's just one of the measures the GOP is beginning to take in order to boost their odds in 2020, as former President Jimmy Carter noted late last week that he doesn't believe Donald Trump is a legitimate President. Speaking Friday at a human rights forum hosted by the Carter Center --- which has served as a monitor of elections in third-world countries for decades --- the former President charged: "There’s no doubt that the Russians did interfere in the elections and I think the interference, although not yet quantified, if fully investigated would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016. ... He lost the election and he was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf." He said "yes", when asked by the forum's moderator if he believe Trump was an "illegitimate" President. Carter may be right or wrong. Shamefully, nobody knows for certain, since the public was never allowed to examine the ballots or the voting and tabulation systems following the 2016 Presidential election. That lack of public oversight, as we have long argued, continues to erode confidence in the legitimacy of American democracy. New, 100% unverifiable voting systems being put in place in advance of the 2020 race, unfortunately, (in states like Georgia and cities like Philadelphia and counties like Los Angeles) are likely to make that problem even worse;
  • But, speaking of how bad the 2020 cycle could be, the Trump Campaign has already begun their dirty tricks, according to a report in the New York Times. One of its "rising star" digital content producers has created a phony Joe Biden campaign website, meant to look like Biden's official campaign site, in order to smear the former Vice President. Neither the Trump campaign nor its staffer, Patrick Mauldin, who admits to having created the site, is noted on the page as being behind it. The fake campaign site, according to the paper, has received more visits than Biden's official website, and Mauldin has also "anomalously" created pages meant to undermine other current 2020 Democratic front-runners such as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. Do Dems have any plans on how to deal with this sort of thing in 2020? Right now, it appears that they do not. Unless Dems pull together somehow --- even across another rough and tumble nominating process --- a repeat of the 2016 disaster should not be a surprise to anyone;
  • Finally, speaking of 2020, Desi Doyen joins us for our Green News Report special coverage of last week's first Democratic Presidential Debate in Miami, where the planet's worsening climate crisis finally received at least a little bit of airtime from many of the Presidential hopefuls across the span of the much-watched two-night event...

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Guest: Public Citizen's Aquene Freechild; Also: Biden flips on Hyde Amendment, swears off fossil fuel money (sorta); Automakers oppose Trump mileage, emissions rollback; Listener feedback on impeachment...
By Brad Friedman on 6/7/2019 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Remember when overturning Citizens United with a Constitutional amendment used to be a huge thing among progressives? Well, it still is. But something (or someone) came along who seems to be distracting much of the nation from the still-urgent need to get dark money and corporate funding out of electoral politics. We've got a bit of good news on that front today. Just a bit. But we'll take what we can get! [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up today, however, former Veep turned Democratic Presidential candidate and currently presumptive front-runner Joe Biden responded to pressure from his 2020 rivals and the party's base by flipping his position on the Hyde Amendment. Citing his belief that "health care is a right" and the GOP attacks on women's health care, Biden now says he opposes the measure, just hours after he'd affirmed his support for the 1976 law which bans the use of federal funding for abortion, other than in cases of rape, incest or the health of the mother. What should we learn about Biden from this flip-flop? We discuss.

Then, the auto industry appears to have flip-flopped as well. Twice. After working with the Obama Administration in 2009 to hammer out an agreement on new standards for vehicle mileage and carbon emissions, industry leaders begged the Trump Administration to roll back Obama's landmark standards. Trump promised to do the car company's bidding and plans to announce the official rollback over the summer (which, if it stands, will result in lower fuel efficiency and higher gas prices for consumers, increase pollution and lead to the premature deaths of tens of thousands of Americans.) Now the industry is begging Trump not to roll things back quite so far after all, but Trump doesn't care. The Administration plans to move ahead anyway and, as Desi Doyen explains, try to challenge California's long-established right under the Clean Air Act to impose its own higher air quality standards --- a state's right they have enjoyed under law for nearly 50 years now.

Speaking of our worsening climate crisis, the DNC nixed a proposal this week to hold a debate focused solely on climate change and the many different candidate proposals to take it on. The DNC has threatened to sanction 2020 Presidential candidates who may participate in such a forum on their own. We discuss that bizarre stance, particularly given the number of hopefuls who have put forward detailed and important policy proposals to offer an urgently-needed Green New Deal for Americans.

And, speaking of Biden, this week he became the 17th Democratic Presidential hopeful to sign on to the "No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge". But what does that pledge really mean and will it actually keep money from fossil fuel industry lobbyists, PACs and executives out of the race? For that matter, is it even possible to keep corporate PAC and other "dark money" out of our elections following the 2010 Citizens United ruling by the U.S. Supreme court, no matter how many pledges that Democratic candidates may make?

In related issues, the state of New Hampshire became the 20th state in the union this week to vote to overturn Citizens United with a Constitutional Amendment. The vote was a symbolic landmark for proponents of overturning the disastrous SCOTUS ruling, as it represents what would now be just over half of the 38 states that would be required to ratify such an Amendment. At the same time, the state of Montana, whose Governor Steve Bullock is also running for President on the issue of getting corporate money out of politics, is suing the U.S. Treasury Department and IRS to block the Trump Administration's new rule that would allow certain political action committees to keep their "dark money" donors a secret, even in confidential filings with the IRS, to whom donors previously were disclosed. The state was in federal court for hearings this week in response to the Administration's motion to dismiss the suit.

AQUENE FREECHILD, Co-director of Public Citizen's Democracy is For People campaign, joins us to explain both the good news out of New Hampshire and Montana's complaint against Treasury and the IRS. Freechild led Public Citizen's successful efforts to call for an amendment to overturn Citizens United in Vermont, New Jersey, Illinois, Delaware and Washington state. She offers an update on the current state of the fight to overturn the Supreme Court ruling that opened the floodgates to corporate spending in our elections; offers an explanation as to how the Trump era has effected activism on the issue; details what is involved in adopting such a measure; explains why Bullock's suit in Montana is important, even though IRS disclosures are confidential, and how efforts in Congress (including the House-passed H.R. 1, "For the People" Act) would kick-start the process of restoring American democracy to we, the people.

"We have to protect our democracy from the existential threat that an unaccountable, dictator-loving President poses," says Freechild. "At the same time, we have to show the country the vision that we have as reformers, as pro-democracy people, for a clean government that really truly does represent people, that has public financing in partnership with overturning Citizens United so that there is an alternative to a corporate money system."

Finally, we close today with some listener feedback on the Democrats' internecine debate in the U.S. House on whether to begin an official impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump....or not...

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Pompeo plunders Arctic for U.S.; Trump pardons war criminal murderer; White House blocks subpoenaed McGahn docs; Too much more...
By Brad Friedman on 5/7/2019 6:52pm PT  

Before we get to our Constitutional Crisis update on today's BradCast, we offer an update on our Climate Crisis, which the rogue Trump Administration has been busy exacerbating in the Arctic this week, to the horror of other Arctic nations. And, yes, our continuing national Gun Crisis returned to the headlines (did it ever leave?) with breaking news of another school shooting today in suburban Denver. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

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

  • Trump Sec. of State Mike Pompeo stunned fellow Arctic Council members in Finland on Monday, with a speech in which he appeared absolutely giddy about economic opportunities emerging from the quickly thawing Arctic. Without once mentioning the phrase "climate change" in his 2,400 word speech, Pompeo cited "opportunity and abundance" for those able to exploit previously frozen and untapped oil and mineral reserves in the otherwise pristine Arctic, not to mention "fisheries galore" and thawed "passageways" for travel and commerce that could turn the Arctic into a "21st century Panama Canal". The remarks, reportedly, came as a shock to other representatives of the Council's nations, there to discuss protection of the melting Arctic from political and economic threat.

    But on Tuesday, things got worse as the U.S. refused, for the first time, to sign a group agreement on challenges facing the Arctic due, according to Reuters, to discrepancies in the agreement over climate change wording, jeopardizing cooperation among participating countries as the Arctic continues to warm at nearly twice the pace as the rest of the planet;

  • Back in D.C., Donald Trump stunned the legal and military community with the Monday night pardon of a former U.S. Army lieutenant sentenced by a 2009 court marshal to 25 years in prison for the murder of an Iraqi civilian in 2008. Michael Behenna was granted Executive Clemency by Trump for the gruesome killing in which Behenna was found, according to military prosecutors, to have taken "the victim out into the desert in Iraq, stripped him naked, interrogated him while he had his Glock piston pointed at him, shot him in the head, shot him in the chest, killing him at that time," all outside of a combat zone and in defiance of both orders and the military code of justice. So, Trump has moved from sending political messages with the pardons of those who obstruct federal court orders, like the disgraced former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, to granting Executive Clemency to murderous war criminals. Got the message?;
  • Before we move on to today's Constitutional Crisis update, an interesting background development, as Attorney General William Barr's Justice Department announced over the weekend that it had arrested and charged a Virginia man who served as an FBI linguist on counts of "obstructing a federal investigation and making multiple false statements to FBI officials". Of course, Barr has been famously arguing of late --- in regard to President Trump --- that, since Special Counsel Robert Mueller did not find enough evidence of criminal cooperation between the Trump Campaign and Russia during his investigation into 2016 election interference, Trump could not possibly be guilty of obstructing that investigation. With no underlying crime, Barr's legally unsupportable theory goes, there can be no obstruction of the investigation into those crimes. In the case of the FBI's cunning linguist, however, obstruction charges were filed with no underlying crime, according to a former federal and state prosecutor;
  • In related news, there are now some 500 former federal prosecutors (actually, over 700 now, since checking after the show), both Republican and Democratic, who have signed onto an open letter declaring that, based on the evidence revealed by the redacted Mueller Report, Trump would have been charged with multiple counts of felony obstruction, had he been a private citizen;
  • Then, the latest news in the multiple Constitutional showdowns between the Administration and Congress, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's refusal to answer the Ways and Means Committee's statutory demands for the IRS Commissioner to turn over several years of Trump's tax returns and Barr's refusal to respond to a lawful Congressional subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee to turn over Mueller's unredacted report and its underlying evidence. With a vote on contempt by the AG still scheduled for Wednesday in the Committee, it seems a good time to look back at the case made by House Republicans in 2012 for a contempt vote against President Obama's then-Attorney General Eric Holder, including speeches from a number of GOP lawmakers incensed at the time for the DoJ's failure to turn over subpoenaed documents, which they then described as unlawful disdain for both the rule of law and the Constitution. But that was then;
  • And, with both Mnuchin and Barr facing potential contempt citations, it was former White House Counsel Don McGahn's turn in the barrel today, as the White House stepped in to block his production of subpoenaed documents that he had long ago shared with the Special Counsel --- thus waiving the White House's opportunity at the time to invoke Executive Privilege to block the release of the documents now along with McGahn's testimony, according to largely every legal expert who doesn't work at the White House. (Though even some of those lawyers, according to WaPo, see the Administration's belated attempt to invoke the privilege now as legally dubious.) As that legal wrangle plays out, McGahn's next difficult decision will come on May 21, when he has been subpoenaed by the Judiciary Committee to appear for testimony as a witness to numerous incidents of criminal obstruction by the President as detailed in the Special Counsel's redacted report;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report focused on the alarming landmark study released by the U.N. this week finding that human develop, consumption and exploitation is now threatening the extinction of some 1 million plant and animal species, a report that was released before Pompeo even arrived in the Arctic this week to dance on --- and plunder --- its melting grave...

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Guest: Ernie Canning defends inmate voting; Also: Trump lies (again) about tariffs, economy, China; House Judiciary to vote on Barr contempt; Mnuchin refuses (again) to turn over Trump taxes; 400 former prosecutors say Mueller revealed criminal felonies by the President...
By Brad Friedman on 5/6/2019 7:00pm PT  

Our lead story on today's BradCast makes everything else seem quite small by comparison. (And, no, that story is not the new royal baby. You're welcome.) Unfortunately, those other stories aren't small at all. In fact, they are almost all unprecedented as the nation continues its dark plummet into an historic Constitutional crisis under this Presidency. [Audio link for today's show is posted at end of summary.]

We cover quite a bit of ground on today's show, by necessity, if not choice. Among the stories covered...

  • A landmark, 1000+ page report compiled by some 450 researcher working with a U.N. agency, based on the data from 15,000 scientific and governmental reports warns that 1 million of the planet's 8 million plant and animal species are now threatened with extinction --- many within decades --- thanks to human activity. The report finds that, more than at any other time in human history, nature itself is threatened due to human development and consumption that leaves land species finding "insufficient habitat for long-term survival" and oceans species in similar peril. While the report's authors stress there is still time to act to reverse this alarming trend, we break down some of their critical findings at the top of the show, since they are likely being overshadowed today with so much other insane news emanating from our nation's capitol and reverberating around the globe;
  • Beyond that disturbing new study, world markets opened on an alarming note on Monday --- including an initial 450-point plunge on the Dow --- following Trump's weekend tweets threatening to impose a 25% tariff on all goods imported from China by week's end. In ">his tweet, he included at least two lies, including that "China has been paying Tariffs to the USA" and "These payments are partially responsible for our great economic results." In fact, Americans pay those taxes, not China. And, as even honest conservatives who we cite on today's show point out, Trump's continuing trade war has harmed, not helped the economy, and the trade deficit with China has only gotten worse, not better, for the US in the bargain;
  • Posing an additional threat to the world economy is the Trump Administration's chest-thumping against Iran, including threats of sanctions against any nation (including allies) who purchase Iranian oil and the deployment over the weekend of an aircraft carrier battle group and a bunch of bombers toward the Persian Gulf;
  • Setting aside the Trump-caused foreign-policy and market crises, there's the Constitutional crises that he's continuing to exacerbate today here at home, where some 400 former federal prosecutors --- both Republican and Democratic, some who served as long ago as Dwight D. Eisenhower --- issued an open letter today proclaiming that, were it not for the Dept. of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, Trump would have been charged on multiple felony counts of obstruction of justice, based on the information detailed in the redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report;
  • In related news, the House Judiciary Committee announced plans on Monday for a vote on Contempt against Trump Attorney General and "fixer" William Barr after the nation's top law enforcement officer's repeated failure to hand over to Congress the full Mueller Report and its underlying evidence, as per a Congressional subpoena;
  • Similarly, Trump's Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the Treasury Department will also rebuff a Congressional request from the Ways and Means Committee to produce six years of Donald Trump's tax returns, as per long-standing federal statute. Both incidents --- both unprecedented --- will almost certainly now be forced into federal court for adjudication;
  • Meanwhile, in New York, Michael Cohen, the former personal lawyer and fixer for Trump who predates Trump co-opting of the nation's Attorney General for that purpose, offered a public statement to media before heading off to federal prison for three years on Monday. Cohen will be serving time for, among other things, lying to Congress and carrying out hush-money payments to two women with whom Trump had affairs, a criminal conspiracy "directed" by Trump, according to prosecutors, in violation of federal campaign finance laws. In his statement, Cohen said: "I hope when I rejoin my family and friends that the country will be in a place without xenophobia, injustice and lies at the helm of our country." In other words, he hopes that voters will remove Trump from office next year, highlighting the fact that as a federal inmate in New York he will not be allowed to vote in that election. But if the man who federal officials say "directed" the conspiracy --- who would also have been charged on multiple obstruction counts had he not been the President (thanks, in no small part, arguably, to those unlawful hush-money payments made just before the 2016 election) --- gets to not only vote, but run for re-election next year, shouldn't Cohen have a vote as well?;

That brings us to our guest today, attorney and longtime BRAD BLOG contributor ERNEST A. CANNING, who penned an insightful op-ed today arguing that the notion of "inmate vote is not a radical idea". On Friday, Republican state lawmakers in Florida enacted a measure that would undermine Sunshine State voters who approved a Constitutional measure in November, with a nearly 65% majority, that would restore voting rights to most former felons in the closely divided swing-state, one of just three in the nation --- along with Iowa and Kentucky --- to ban former felons from voting for life, even after serving their time.

But the idea of inmates voting, while still in prison, has been a matter of discussion and growing debate following the ACLU's recently-launched "RIghts for All" campaign, in which they seek to get 2020 candidates on record regarding, among other things, the right to vote by those still in prison. Currently, 48 states, other than Vermont and Maine, ban the practice. But, as Canning explains, "21 other democracies, including Canada, Sweden and Israel, allow all prisoners to vote." So, why should inmates lose their right to vote in the nation that incarcerates more of its own citizens than any other?

Canning, a Vietnam vet who also worked as a Senior adviser to VetsForBernie.org, explains the injustice and hypocrisy of barring inmates from voting, citing its lack of deterrent effect and noting that luminaries such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. penned his famous "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" and that Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison, would go on to become the formerly-apartheid South Africa's first black President and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

In his article and on today's program, Canning also offers a compelling response to critics, like the President and many in his party (and in the Democratic Party, as well) who, as Trump's spokesperson recently charged, find the notion of inmate voting "deeply offensive", because it would allow the likes of the Boston Marathon Bomber and the perpetrator of the Charleston Church Massacre (both of whom have been sentenced to death), to cast a vote before being killed.

It's a long-overdue --- and interesting --- conversation that Americans of all political stripes, but certainly progressives, should have in "the land of the free", where First Amendment rights are still allowed for prisoners. So why isn't the right to vote?...

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Also: Several other indictments today and, yes, still more unprecedented Trump Administration corruption...
By Brad Friedman on 4/11/2019 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: You get an indictment! You get an indictment! You get an indictment! Everyone gets an indictment!!! Well, not everyone. At least not everyone who deserves an indictment. But a bunch of folks got indicted today in a bunch of separate federal cases. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

One time Democratic hero and former Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti was charged in a 36-count federal indictment in California for allegedly stealing from clients, not paying his taxes, and committing bank fraud. Former Obama White House Counsel Greg Craig was charged by prosecutors in D.C. for lying to federal agents regarding his lobbying work in Ukraine, a case that came out of the Robert Mueller Special Counsel probe (where Trump Campaign chair Paul Manafort was previously found guilty of very related charges).

And, of course, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was finally arrested in the U.K. after being kicked out of the Ecuadorean embassy in London (where he's claimed asylum for the past seven years) before being found guilty by a British judge of skipping out on bail while facing extradition for charges of sexual assault in Sweden back in 2012. The Swedish charges have since been dropped, but Assange now faces both prison time in Britain and an extradition request from the U.S. where prosecutors unsealed a one-count indictment [PDF] against him today, as filed under seal in March of 2018.

For now, that charge is an allegation of "conspiracy to commit computer intrusion". Federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia claim he attempted to help crack a password for a classified Defense Department computer system to assist then U.S. Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning in hacking documents. That, after Wikileaks had already released hundreds of such documents --- many containing evidence of serious U.S. crimes --- taken by Manning, back in 2010. Freedom of the press advocates, however, warn today that the charges being brought by Trump's Dept. of Justice against Assange could be expanded to include normal journalistic activities, which could threaten the Constitutional rights of many media outlets and journalists alike.

We detail today what we know --- and don't --- about the indictment; what we know --- and don't --- about what Assange and WikiLeaks have done (including the release of documents stolen from the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016); and what all of this may --- or may not --- mean for U.S. press freedoms as the case moves forward.

Also today: Some good news regarding the death penalty in New Hampshire; Some quick updates on Trump Treasury Dept. Secretary Steven Mnuchin's refusal (so far) to turn over Trump's tax returns to Congress in violation of the law; Trump Attorney General William Barr's obnoxious, hypocritical, and (so far) evidence-free claim that the Obama Administration was "spying" on the Trump Campaign in 2016; And more disturbing details on the perfidy and corruption of David Bernhardt, the longtime oil and gas industry lobbyist who was shamefully confirmed today by the U.S. Senate as Trump's new Interior Department Secretary.

Finally, Desi Doyen brings us the latest Green News Report on Trump's newly signed Executive Orders authorizing himself to, among other things, authorize new oil and gas pipelines without approval from other federal agencies, and to remove states' rights to block energy infrastructure that threatens local water supplies; the second bomb cyclone in weeks to likely bring billions in damages to a number of Midwestern states; and several troubling new studies regarding the acceleration of climate change and glacial ice melt now outpacing previous scientific predictions...

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Guest: Will Bunch of Philly Inquirer/Daily News; Also: Trump blows up both federal deficit AND foreign trade deficit; House Dems seek vote suppression docs from GA's GOP Governor, Sec. of State...
By Brad Friedman on 3/6/2019 6:39pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the heat continues to grow on the Trump Administration, as Democrats ramp up their oversight efforts after taking back a majority in the U.S. House. But, with another Presidential election around the corner, should they already be pursuing Articles of Impeachment, particularly with what we already know about Donald Trump's unprecedented crimes and corruption both before and after becoming President? [Audio link to full show follows below.]

But, first up today...A new report from Donald Trump's U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday confirms that the Trump/GOP tax cuts have blown up the federal deficit to record levels. In the first four months of the budget year (which began in October) the deficit is up an astonishing 77 percent over the same period the previous year, thanks in no small part to a vast reduction in revenue on the heels of the tax cut, including a 23 percent drop in corporate taxes paid to the Government compared to last year. So much for the Republican repeated lie that their tax cuts would "pay for themselves!"

Then, on Wednesday, the Commerce Department followed up that news with the announcement that the foreign trade deficit has exploded, even after Trump's "American First" tariffs and trade wars that were supposed to shrink the imbalance with foreign nations that Trump has long (falsely) blamed for the loss of American manufacturing jobs. As a candidate, he described the U.S. foreign trade deficit as a "politician-made disaster" that he said he could "turn around fast". But his tariffs have only made things worse.

Moreover, as recently as this past weekend at CPAC, he repeated his line about "billions of dollars...pouring into our Treasury" due to his new tariffs on imported goods, but failed, as usual, to mention that those "billions" are paid by American consumers, not foreign nations. A recent study [PDF] found Americans are footing the entire bill for Trump's tariffs and that it is costing more for those in Republican-leaning counties. A separate study [PDF] from a different set of economists found that if Trump's tariffs somehow resulted in the creation of 35,000 new manufacturing jobs (the total number of jobs lost in the steel and aluminum industry over the past decade) they would still have cost tax-payers $195,000 per job.

Those, of course, are just some of Trump's failures as President. His high crimes and misdemeanors are another matter. With Democrats back in the majority in the U.S. House, oversight of the Executive Branch is finally beginning again. Trump and the White House and their TV operation called Fox "News", describe the Constitutional mandate oversight as a "fishing expedition", a "disgrace" and "PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!" But, citing the House Judiciary Committee's request for documents from over 80 Trump associates or entities this week, our guest today, longtime Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News national columnist WILL BUNCH, describes the effort as a "shadow impeachment".

He tells me the effort now underway in the House is "exactly like" the process we would see if Articles of Impeachment had already been introduced, but without Democrats having to use "the i-word". But will that process be enough to bring accountability, much less put the brakes on this out-of-control, unprecedentedly corrupt Presidency? Especially with the next Presidential election already baring down on us? A "shadow impeachment" that could become a real one is fine, but shouldn't we have a real one already? We discuss those questions and many others with Bunch on today's program.

Finally, speaking of long-overdue and much-needed federal oversight. Democratic leadership in the House Oversight and Reform Committee today sent letters [PDF] to Georgia's new Republican Governor and former Sec. of State Brian Kemp, along with new Sec. of State Brad Raffensberger, seeking documents surrounding the massive vote suppression that tainted Kemp's reported narrow victory in the Governor's contest over Democrat Stacey Abrams last November. Among the documents sought by the House Dems in their new investigation are those related to Peach State government actions to purge voters (1.4 million were removed from the rolls during Kemp's tenure as SoS), shut down polling places (200 have been closed since 2012); keep newly-registered voters off the rolls (the registrations of 53,000 disproportionately black voters were suspended under the state's so-called "exact match" requirement); the "sequestration" of un-deployed voting machines (which resulted in long lines on Election Day in three key counties); and other related concerns over which Kemp was sued (and lost) countless times while overseeing his own election last year.

All of that as both Kemp and Raffensberger are pushing hard this week to hoax state lawmakers into voting to spend at least $150 million on new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems. Republicans are rushing through legislation this week in the state Senate to purchase the new computer-marked "paper ballot" systems, despite being virulently opposed by computer cybersecurity and voting machine experts who describe the new systems as unverifiable [PDF], unauditable [PDF] and vulnerable to hacking [PDF]. The experts recommend hand-marked paper ballot systems instead.

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Guest: Marianna Trevino-Wright of the National Butterfly Center; Also: Hannity allows Trump to take wall deal; FEMA Director abruptly quits...
By Brad Friedman on 2/13/2019 6:57pm PT  

As my guest details on today's BradCast, it's not immigrants who are currently posing a threat to those living on our southern border, it's lawless federal agents encroaching on private lands to build an unnecessary and dangerous border wall. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But, first up: the Department of Justice rounded up dozens of gang members and indicted them on Tuesday as part of a criminal conspiracy for "attempted murder, kidnapping, maiming, and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine." No, they weren't "violent inner-city thugs" or "murderous MS-13 immigrant gangsters", they were white supremacist members of the Arkansas-based New Aryan Empire. Oddly enough, Donald Trump hasn't mentioned them during any of his false, anti-immigrant rants at campaign rallies and State of the Union addresses.

Meanwhile, it appears that Trump will most likely sign the compromise deal struck between Congressional Democrats and Republicans this week to fund the federal government and avoid another shutdown, even though he will get less than he could have had if he'd accepted the deal he backed out of last year before shutting down the federal government over his new demand for $5.7 billion to build a border wall. Sean Hannity of Fox "News" and wingnut talk radio fame has now backed off his earlier charge that "any Republican that supports this garbage compromise" would have to explain themselves. He now appears to be supporting the compromise, while calling for the President to declare a "national emergency" to steal more tax-payer money for a wall. With that permission from his Fox "News" handlers, Trump will almost certainly sign the agreement.

In all, as Trump points out, the deal allocates $23 billion for border security --- a lot of money for Democrats to agree to if, as Trump lies, they favor "open borders". It's also a lot of money period. But, record national debt and annual deficit spending do not appear to be a problem for pretend "fiscally conservative" Republicans in Congress. The Treasury Department announced yesterday that the national debt has now topped $22 trillion for the first time in history, after increasing more than $2 trillion since Trump took office under GOP leadership in Congress. The landmark comes thanks, in no small part, to the Trump/GOP's unpaid-for $1.5 trillion tax cuts.

And while both Democrats and Republicans in Congress are hoping that Trump signs their compromise border security agreement to keep the government open, Trump's U.S. Customs and Border (CPB) agents are busy breaking into private property and threatening to seize private lands owned by Americans who have lived and worked on the banks of the Rio Grande at the U.S. southern border for generations.

Bulldozers and other heavy machinery is now reportedly rolling into wildlife sanctuaries in South Texas' Rio Grande Valley and the National Butterfly Center in Mission, TX has filed a restraining order this week to stop them after, the Center charges, CPB broke into a fence on its private property, cut the lock, and replaced it with its own.

We're joined today by the Center's Director MARIANNA TREVINO-WRIGHT to explain the federal government's intrusions on their 100-acre butterfly refuge, wildlife center and native species botanical garden. The Center, part of the North American Butterfly Association (NABA), regards CPB's behavior as unlawful and unconstitutional according to a lawsuit "filed in December of 2017 as the result of the government's actions on our property in July of 2017, more than nine months before a Congressional vote, or any funding appropriation for 'border wall'," Trevino-Wright emphasizes.

We discuss, among other things, the 28 laws and environmental regulations --- "including the Solid Waste Disposal Act, the Clean air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act, and the Native American Religious Freedom Act" --- that the Department of Homeland Security has waived since Congress approved 33 miles of new border fencing in the area last year to allow construction of the barrier, and the federal government's use of Eminent Domain already underway to confiscate private lands for Trump's wall. Trevino-Wright details the devastation that awaits butterfly species, as well as other insects and native wildlife with the construction of the wall on the property of both the Center and the neighboring 91,000 acre Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

She says insects and animals will be "sentenced to death" thanks to flooding that will occur between the mighty Rio Grande River and the concrete base of the planned 30 foot wall where they will become trapped. Moreover, the accompanying LED "blitzkrieg all-night bright lighting every 150 feet on the wall, will result in catastrophe for sensitive nocturnal creatures and "lead to greater environmental damage". And, no, Trevino-Wright tells me, many butterflies and birds are not able to fly over a 36-foot concrete and steel barrier. She describes the wall as an "abomination", Trump's claims of an humanitarian and violent criminal "crisis" at the border to be nonsense, and why residents in the area are far more worried about criminals within law enforcement agencies than they are about those crossing the border unlawfully or ferrying drugs into the country. "Conflict or property damage or terrorist acts by those who support this agenda are actually what we're more concerned about," Trevino-Wright adds.

Please tune in for this full conversation.

Finally today, a surprise resignation in the Trump Administration as FEMA Director Brock Long calls it quits after facing two years of harassment from DHS chief Kirstjen Nielsen and unprecedented hurricanes, wildfires and other catastrophes, writing in his farewell letter to staffers that "no one could have ever predicted the challenges we would face." Our own Desi Doyen --- who has long been citing scientists predicting those very challenges for years, thanks to global warming --- offers a word or two in response...

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

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Los Angeles, CA 90028

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About Brad Friedman...
Brad is an independent investigative
journalist, blogger, broadcaster,
VelvetRevolution.us co-founder,
expert on issues of election integrity,
and a Commonweal Institute Fellow.

Brad has contributed chapters to these books...


...And is featured in these documentary films...

Additional Stuff...
Brad Friedman/The BRAD BLOG Named...
Buzz Flash's 'Wings of Justice' Honoree
Project Censored 2010 Award Recipient
The 2008 Weblog Awards



Wikio - Top of the Blogs - Politics

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